Friday, August 28, 2015

Toddler Back to School Friday Faves


Well we're soaking up the last few weeks of summer over here and it's definitely going to be tough for me to go back to school (teaching) and the nugget to go back too (daycare).  Last year I picked up a pack of daycare labels from a company called Name Bubbles.  Let me tell you -- these labels stand up to the dishwasher and washer/dryer.  After a year of use we've only had to replace two labels that came off Tripp's sheets for daycare and those get washed every week.  I love the variety of sizes and how they are completely customizable.

Naturally our little nugget had to get a tiger backpack and the matching lunch box.  We picked up this Stephen Joseph backpack last summer and though it does show some wear and tear it is still in great condition to get knocked around for another school year.  One of the great things about Stephen Joseph is that they have the "Eat - Learn - Play" program where they've partnered up with non-profit organizations to help end childhood hunger.  If you're looking for a lunchbox for your little, I highly recommend purchasing one from Stephen Joseph.

Though Tripp is pretty well versed in drinking from a sippy cup and we are officially a bottle free home, he got to try out these cups from Munchkin while we were visiting my sister.  The Miracle 360 is designed to help kids drink from a regular cup, no straws or nipples involved.  Basically your little nugget has to apply pressure to the lip of the cup and that opens the spout to let liquid out...it's otherwise completely spill proof.  We witnessed this miracle when my son and niece began fighting over the cup and it landed on the floor, upside down and the area remained dry.

When Tripp was first born I went crazy looking at all of these different parenting websites, but one of the things that really stuck with me was NOT wearing a jacket in the car seat.  If you'd like to know more about why your child should not be wearing a big fluffy jacket in their car seat -- The Car Seat Lady does a wonderful job explaining here.  Because Tripp was born in the dead of winter, we didn't really worry too much about going out with him in the car seat.  We just made sure he had long clothes on and put a blanket around him once he was already buckled in.  This was a different story when we spent his first winter at daycare going between the car seat in my car and the car seat in Bob's.  We needed something for him to wear that was thin enough to keep on while buckled up but warm enough to brave the awful winter we had.  Enter the performance fleece jacket from Old Navy. I just picked up this cute olive colored fleece for the upcoming school year -- added bonus, it has a hood!  We also send a thicker jacket that stays at daycare in the event that the kids go out on the playground -- which they do continue doing well into the winter (I think their policy is if it's above 40 degrees out).

And last, the ever so fashionable Crocs.  Personally, I'm anti-crocs as an adult.  I think they're awful looking, but man are they a time saver when it comes to an energetic toddler.  They don't require socks which means no chance he's pulling socks off while out and about.  They're super easy to slip on, even the nugget can do it! Plus if they're good enough for Prince George, they're good enough for my nugget.  Now our little guy was rocking the blue crocs long before the Royal nugget rolled down that grassy hill but I'm happy to see that Kate Middleton approves.

While I am not looking forward to dropping Tripp off at daycare on September 1st, I am looking forward to the massive amount of outlet shopping I will be doing that day in preparation for MY first day back (September 2nd for teachers and 8th for students).  Keep an eye out for my haul - like that great Pink Tartan dress I scored for $60.

If you aren't already using EBATES you are missing out on SO MUCH FREE MONEY!! I have been using ebates for the past 2 years and have earned over $300 just from shopping online.  All you have to do is sign up, get the button, and shop shop shop.  Once a quarter you get sent a check for the money that you earned.  It's free money and it is AWESOME!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Why our son is part of a social media blackout

When we first learned that I was pregnant Bob and I had the conversation.  No, not that one...the other one.  The one about how we would address our future child appearing on social media.  Social media is great.  I actively participate on Facebook and Instagram.  Bob's big user of Twitter and we both have Untappd and LinkedIn accounts.  But the one thing we knew we would never do was put our future children out in the cyber world.  Now, you can argue that me blogging about pregnancy and life with a toddler is still putting him out there but you'll never see a picture of our little nugget.  There's a hand showing in this picture and a foot showing in that picture but for all you know he's Sloth from The Goonies.
Photo courtesy of imdb.com

And we'd like to keep it that way.

Maybe I've seen one too many episodes of Law & Order:SVU or read one too many articles about "Baby Role Playing" where people steal your pictures and pretend your child is theirs.  There are a lot of weirdos out there in the world -- some we run into in real life and some that hang out all day on the internet.  I'd like to keep my little guy as safe as possible.  We also don't know what the future of social media holds.  Will that rant about my toddler -- complete with a photo montage of him breaking ALL of my Crate and Barrel nesting bowls on Facebook still be around in 10+ years?  Will those cute photos of him in the bathtub still be searchable from Instagram when he's applying to college? Who knows -- things could drastically change by then or they could become much much worse and for that we've opted out of spreading his beautiful face around.

But that doesn't mean friends and family both near and far can't catch a glimpse.  When Tripp was born we set up a monthly newsletter through mail chimp.  We'd include his monthly tie-onesie-in-the-rocking-chair picture and a little chalkboard with all of his stats and then a photo dump of all of the things he experienced that month. After his first birthday it honestly became a little too much to keep up with so there hasn't been one since,  but I'm sure I can rally for a yearly newsletter to keep people informed, as long as they want it.

We've made it 19 months without posting his every move on the interwebs and hope to keep up the social media blackout...even though it sometimes kills me to not share with the world his cuteness.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Teacher Back to School Friday Faves


Last summer I bought my first thirty-one bag.  It was this awesome utility tote but in Navy Wave (which has since been discontinued).  I love that it has outside pockets that are perfect for all of my water bottles and tumblers and the two side mesh pockets are great for storing my room keys and id badge.  They have since upgraded to a zip-top which could only make things even easier.  I love starting off the school year with a new school bag.

My classroom is one of the oldest in the building so we don't have air conditioning.  I normally bring a tervis tumbler for iced beverages at the beginning of the school year or keep things in my mini-fridge in my room, but the Yeti tumbler is a total game changer.  It holds the ice all day AND doesn't sweat!  How awful is it when you accidentally put a stack of papers on top of a wet ring that you left on your desk - gross!  But this eliminates those dreaded sweat rings.

Teaching high school special ed means I spend some classes in "my room" and some classes traveling the building for in-class support.  This coming year I will be in 5 different classrooms on 3 different floors so sometimes I need a quick snack that I can devour in the hall on my way to the furthest room in the building #teacherproblems.  KIND bars are a great energy boost and easy to eat on the go...plus they keep well so I just throw them in my desk drawer and grab as needed.

When I was student teaching my cooperative teacher introduced me to the Pentel Mini RSVP.  I use these for grading and keep them on my keychain so that I always have a colored pen handy.  My students also like to try to "borrow" these bad boys because they're all different colors and it's pretty much a guarantee that I always have a pen.

And every teacher's secret weapon, Halls Vitamin C drops.  Another desk drawer staple.  In the winter I get hit with dry mouth and am constantly trying to keep myself from having a coughing attack.  I keep these handy to make life a little bit easier and to keep my lessons going.  Because they aren't like a regular cough drop, they don't contain menthol which was a big no-no while breastfeeding and I didn't feel comfortable using those kinds of cough drops when I just needed something to suck on to keep the saliva going.  I love all of the citrus flavors and love that they also come in sugar-free.

If you aren't already using EBATES you are missing out on SO MUCH FREE MONEY!! I have been using ebates for the past 2 years and have earned over $300 just from shopping online.  All you have to do is sign up, get the button, and shop shop shop.  Once a quarter you get sent a check for the money that you earned.  It's free money and it is AWESOME!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Very Quick Four Years

August 19th, 2011


Four years ago, on a very hot and humid day in Allentown, Pennsylvania I married the love of my life.  It's so crazy to think that it's only been fours years -- but in the same breath -- those have been four very quick years.  We've been through a lot during that time.  We made a handsome, intelligent little nugget during that time.  We fought during that time and we made up during that time.  Marriage isn't glamorous and it certainly isn't easy, but if you're willing to work for it, both of you are willing to work for it, it can be the most rewarding thing.

In May I had the honor of doing a reading at one of my close friends' wedding.  I was standing in the checkout line of Old Navy when she texted me a link to the poem and there, in the checkout line of Old Navy, I balled my eyes out reading this beautiful poem that I would then subsequently tear up reading another three or four times -- including on her wedding day.  I thought it would be appropriate, on my fourth wedding anniversary, to leave you guys with this heartfelt poem that I had the honor of reading for a couple that I have had the pleasure of watching fall in love.

Union

by Robert Fulghum
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”
Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why the 21-day fix works for me and becoming a Beachbody coach is just not for me

I've been back and forth on whether or not I wanted to write this, make it public, put my opinion out there but I've had enough people ask me "what's your secret" to feel like it was warranted to put my words in writing.

I've done two "rounds" of the 21-day fix since March 2015.  I have lost a total of 15 inches and 10 pounds since I began logging all of that information.  I am down 2 dress sizes and 20 pounds since I began my weightless journey in January and I do attribute a lot of that to the portion control and overall nutrition information I learned while doing the 21-day fix.  And that is why I think this  program works for me.  Yes, I've done weight watchers in the past and they helped a little bit with portion control but they were lacking the exercise element.  The 21-day fix combines both -- clean eating with manageable exercise.  It was easy to tailor recipes we loved to what was "allowed" and I didn't really have to change my eating habits -- I was actually eating MORE during the times that I followed the plan strictly.
Post workout check-ins with my challenge group

When you purchase the 21-day fix from the beach body website, you receive a coach.  Now, I purchased it from someone I knew so she became my coach.  One of the great things about this support system is that you take your beginning measurements and before pictures and send all of that jazz away to them for safe keeping and then don't step on the scale or bust out the measuring tape until you are all done with the challenge.  You're actually discouraged from weighing-in which was certainly freeing.  The coaches create online groups (in our case through Facebook) to help keep you accountable and motivated.  You rely on the other people in your group to keep you going so it's a nice little support network.

If you don't sign up through someone that you know, you're assigned a random coach.  These coaches aren't entirely random though.  They're coaches who are at the "Emerald" status in the Beachbody world so they are earning more money off of your purchase.  If you want to hear more about it, this gentleman has done extensive research.  I'm not going to get into the logistics behind it but Beachbody/21-Day Fix is a multi-level marketing organization and that's part of the reason why I would never become a coach.
The other reason I don't think I could ever become a coach is because of Shakeology.  The first time I did the fix I bought the one month supply of Shakeology that you're encouraged to drink while going through the challenge.  Don't get me wrong, it actually tasted pretty good and I'm sure the nutrients in it helped with the weight loss, but I can't justify spending that kind of money on protein powder and as a Beachbody coach that's one of the big things that they push you to sell.  The second time I did the fix I used the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey powder and achieved similar results so I don't think it's a make or break for being successful.

Here's the bottom line: I think the 21-day fix works.  I've seen the proof with my own two eyes and can feel the difference from the program.  I think it's a great tool to keep your portions in check and make sure you are eating a balanced diet in addition to providing you with the exercise tools you need to reach your goals.  It is completely sustainable and manageable for a busy mom working a full-time job.  However, I do not think it's necessary to jump on the Shakeology bandwagon in order to get the results you are looking for.  I feel like you can save your money and skip the shakes.  I was a little turned off by how much the product is pushed during little infomercials on the workout videos, but I just fast forward through them now.

I would absolutely recommend doing the 21 Day Fix if you're looking for a way to lose weight and gain muscle that is healthy and sustainable, but I don't endorse the need to buy in to Shakeology.  And on a funny/ironic note...I just received this glorious package from my coach for all of my hardwork in our challenge group.  I'll let you know how the 3-Day Refresh works out when I decide to take that plunge and I'm also really excited for the FIXate cookbook (does that make me a hypocrite?).

Friday, August 14, 2015

#momlife Friday Faves



OK so we all know that when you have a toddler who is constantly "on" you need to have some things in your arsenal to make life easier.  Well these are my go-tos.

If I don't remember to cold brew my own coffee the night before, I like to have this Trader Joe's Cold Brew coffee as a backup.  It's a concentrate so a little goes a long way and you really need to test it out to figure out what the best water/coffee/milk combo is for you.  My husband likes his stronger so he puts much more concentrate in than I would.

On the rare occasions that I blow dry my hair or get a blow-out, I like to keep that bad boy going for as long as possible with Tresemme's volumizing dry shampoo.  It's also great after a run to suck out the gross sweat and make me somewhat presentable again without needing to shower.

Momlife isn't all about mommy -- I like to bribe my son with the Simply Balanced fruit snacks.  One pouch is a full serving of fruit and they taste delicious.  I keep a box in my diaper bag and a couple of pouches in my purse.  If he's being a little terd and I need something to motivate him, these work great and I really don't feel guilty about it.

I just discovered the Dole Dippers this past week and they are a total night time cravings game changer.  They have pineapple, banana, and strawberry.  You keep them in the freezer so they're a cool treat and a nice alternative to ice cream (and healthier too!).  The banana has 4 pieces in it while the pineapple has about 7 so it's the perfect amount to crush your craving without going overboard.

Neutrogena has always been my go-to for face car.  I was blessed with super sensitive, dry skin so I have to use a daily moisturizer.  I like that Neutrogena has an oil-free option with SPF.  It's great to know that I'm offering some protection to my face while combatting the dry, scaly skin that sometimes likes to attack.

If you aren't already using EBATES you are missing out on SO MUCH FREE MONEY!! I have been using ebates for the past 2 years and have earned over $300 just from shopping online.  All you have to do is sign up, get the button, and shop shop shop.  Once a quarter you get sent a check for the money that you earned.  It's free money and it is AWESOME!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Another Fitness Friday Faves



I've already talked about how I wound up on the 21 Day Fix so you know it's true that it works, but you can also buy the essential package on Amazon instead of going through a Beachbody coach.  Now, they're form of marketing would probably flip out on me for saying that because the coaches earn a percentage on packages they sell...but the fact is that the program works!

When I'm out running during the Spring/Fall I like to keep a lightweight zip-up in my car.  Sometimes I just run in a tank, but sometimes it's too cold for that and I need something to keep the chill at bay.  This half-zip pullover from Old Navy is totally affordable, has thumb holes, and is lightweight so you're not bogged down.  I also have a terrible habit of stealing my husband's socks.  He's an Under Armour whore and has gotten me hooked.  I do have a couple of pairs of my own Under Armour socks.  They come up high enough that you don't have to worry about rubbing a blister but are not super thick so you don't have to worry about super sweaty feet...which is a huge problem in our house.

If you were to open the cabinet above our dishwasher, which also oddly houses the dog's food and treats, you'd be ambushed by our stockpile of contigo water bottles.  We own at least 6 of them in all different colors and they are my go-to for hydration.  We love them so much that our toddler has 2 of his own in their mini-me size.  He loves sucking from the straw and you don't have to worry about them spilling.

And last but certainly not least, the Body Glide.  When I first started running on the treadmill I noticed my armpits would chafe.  I thought that was such a bizarre place to get chaffing but man was it painful after a long run.  Part of the problem was not wearing proper workout attire on top -- usually just a cheap ribbed tank top from Old Navy -- but the other part was the way I would swing my arms, rubbing up against my shirt in the armpit area so a co-worker suggested I purchase some Body Glide and man has it been a lifesaver.  I just throw some on like I'm putting on deodorant and away we go.  No more chaffing.  I'd imagine this is also an excellent product to have while wearing a dress or shorts and walking a long distance -- no more chub rub!

If you aren't already using EBATES you are missing out on SO MUCH FREE MONEY!! I have been using ebates for the past 2 years and have earned over $300 just from shopping online.  All you have to do is sign up, get the button, and shop shop shop.  Once a quarter you get sent a check for the money that you earned.  It's free money and it is AWESOME!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How I wound up on the 21 day fix!

In February I received a Facebook message from someone I worked with in college.  She was a new mom just like me and mentioned that she became a Team Beachbody coach and thought I might benefit from one of their lifestyle programs.  At the time, I declined because I was about to have my wisdom teeth pulled and knew that was not the time to start a workout and diet plan.  However two months later I thought I'd give it a try.

Halloween 2006 (Senior Year)

Now I've always been a yoyo dieter.  When I was a senior in college I weighed 200lbs.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy with the life I was leading at the time but it was full of destructive behavior  that I'm happy I no longer participate in.  When I graduated grad school I joined weight watchers.  I was able to drop down to 180lbs but couldn't maintain my new weight.  I quickly fell back into destructive behavior and packed the pounds back on so I gave up the fight.

2009 -- 2010 -- 2011

Fast forward to getting engaged in 2010 and it was back to the fight to lose.  When we got married in 2011 I was down to 174.  I felt good in my wedding dress but knew it wouldn't last long because I was still depriving myself and never felt full or satisfied.  Then we began trying to get pregnant and I had read that it's easier to lose the baby weight if you start out in good shape so again back to weight watchers.
One month before getting pregnant - Holy fat face!

I was fortunate to not gain too much weight with my little nugget and breast feeding 100% helped me lose a ton of the baby weight.

By the time I gave birth, I was up to 213lbs - nine months later I was back down to 184.  I just continued to eat pretty healthy and seriously, breast feeding helped the weight melt away...so April I started my first round of the 21 day fix and here we are 18 months post baby.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fabletics Review #2 - Flash Sale!

Imagine my delight when I received an email from Fabletics informing me of a Flash Sale that was about to begin mere days after receiving my first outfit....so much excitement!  Here's my haul from the sale


Legging (Gray and Coral): maximum compression, ankle length, mid rise, and an internal pocket.  These leggings are super comfortable and I actually found them to be on the longer side but am not complaining.  I did not order the tall, but the regular and I'm 5'8".  The fabric is nice and thick so I think these will be excellent for outdoor running when the temperature gets cooler.  I'll update this review once I actually am out running in them but 90+ degree weather is not the time to test them out.  The pass the butt test (not see-through) and I really like the gray and hot pink combo.

Aventura Tank (Black): previously reviewed here

Berlin Tank (Turquoise patterned): hits at the hip, racerback, mixed pattern and has mesh in the back.  I like the style of this tank.  It feels nice on, has a pretty pattern, and I like the mesh in the back.  It's not super fitted so it isn't clinging to my body which is a plus in the heat of the summer.  My only complaint is that I wish it was longer.  The description does say that it hits at the hip vs. the Aventura Tank which is listed as below the hip but I feel a little self-conscious while running in this because of the length.

Shorts (Orchid Purple): maximum compression, side drawstrings, internal pocket, 2.75" inseam.  The fabric of these shorts feels really nice, but I honestly cannot picture myself doing anything athletic in them and don't really understand the point of side drawstrings on shorts that are already very short.  I can't imagine running in these because the amount of chaffing would be ridiculous.  These would be nice for yoga or pilates, but definitely not running/walking/ellipticalling.  I will probably just wear these around the house as they are booty shorts.

Salar Legging - M / Regular | 28 - Retail: $64.95 - VIP: $39.95
Aventura Tank - M - Retail (this color): $29.95 - VIP (this color): $15.95
Berlin Tank - M - Retail: $39.95 - VIP: $24.95
Dili Short - M - Retail : $34.95 - VIP: $24.95
SUBTOTAL:$105.80
Promo Code:- $51.41
Shipping:FREE
Tax:$0.00

TOTAL:$54.39