Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Mommy Blogs

I'm super excited to announce that my blog has been accepted into the Top Mommy Blog community!  This is a community of top mommy (and daddy too) bloggers.  There are a slew of categories that people are blogging about so it's easy to find the different categories of blogs to suite your interests.

My blog is a Family Life blog.  I don't focus on a particular topic such as fitness or being a SAHM.  I blog about things we do or that I'm passionate about.  I tend to get my hands into too many things so that's another reason I can't just stick to one topic!

This is perfect timing to start the new year with a new adventure.  On my to-do is to update the look of my blog, I haven't changed it since I started it in 2010!

Each time you visit my blog I'd be forever grateful if you could click the badge for voting for Top Mommy blogs.  I need your help to stay up in the ranks in the blogging community. You can use the link on the image below or the badge in the sidebar will always be there.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Staying Healthy In The Winter

In the Chicagoland we've had some pretty inconsistent weather this fall/winter.  As I put my Christmas light outside after Thanksgiving we still had leaves on the bushes.  I had just told my husband that I remember as a kid we would stuff old jeans and flannels with leaves to make scarecrows for the fall and Halloween outdoor decorations.  This Halloween there weren't any leaves on the ground.  As of December 1st they were still on the trees and bushes!

We've had days close to 60 and days that were 30 so it's no wonder people are dropping like flies with sickness.  Moms and kids in all of my different groups were MIA for at least a couple of weeks as it went through their houses.

This year it actually hit us.  For only the 2nd time in 4+ years we had a cold.  For me all that happened was that my voice would come and go and for a couple of nights I slept propped up because I'd get a dry tickle.  I felt no different than any other day.  Then my husband got it.  His whole team at work was sick before Thanksgiving and he told them to go home and not come in and that if he got sick they would get bad reviews...LOL!  He said they actually listened and not many came to work the next day!  For him he had a few days where he blew his nose a few times and 1 night of coughing.  Otherwise like me he felt fine.  Then JP got it.  He had a couple of random days where we needed to blow his nose and a few nights where he needed to be propped up for sleeping.  He had 1 day where he was a little sluggish but other than that he ran around like nothing was wrong.  None of us had symptoms for much more than a week.

I used to have an immune system that was so bad that guaranteed every October or November I'd get hit with a cold and be in bed for 3 days.  What changed for us?  Why don't we get sick anymore and when we do why is it so mild?  I tell you what, it's fantastic to not have to drag yourself around or to let things go and play catch up when you feel better.  I still see people 2+ weeks later hacking up a lung.

First of all, I am not a doctor.  I am simply sharing what I do for our family.  When it comes to any nutrition, supplements or essential oils I would recommend you talk to a professional.

The first critical piece is that we have switched our household cleaning, personal care, cosmetics etc. to a non toxic brand.  All of the toxic ingredients in conventional store brands beat your immune system down so your body can't fight off the common cold or allergens.  This is a critical component.

Second is the nutrition.  We don't eat perfectly.  I try to use the 80-20 rule.  Supplementing is necessary, but you have to have the right ones.  Vitamins you get at a store weather it's GNC or a WalMart store brand are giving you nothing more than expensive pee.  Your body can't absorb them, they crystallize in your small intestine and you pee them out.

JP gets a multi vitamin and Omega-3 creme twice daily.  Once at breakfast and another at dinner.  It's important to space out doses so your body gets the maximum absorption. He also gets a probiotic but I need a new way to get that to him so we haven't been too regular lately with that.  It's a capsule so I break it apart and was putting it in the 1 applesauce/veggie pouch he'd eat but he hasn't wanted those lately so I need to get on top of a new plan.  When school started I would give him a boost of vitamin C with his 'juice' drink and now that we aren't getting much sun exposure I add vitamin D3 drops to his Omege-3 spoonful.

I have issues swallowing pills, I know it's a mind problem so I'm typically the first one to catch something.  I take a kids multi vitamin in chocolate shake form.  I do add the probiotic to it daily and also in the winter Vitamin D3

My husband takes what everyone should be taking, me included!  It's a total package already pre-dosed in convenient AM and PM packs.

AM Pack

  • Multivitamin
  • CardiOmega EPA (promotes normal response to activity-induced inflammation and support cardiovascular health)
  • Broadspectrum antioxidant
  • Grapeseed extract (promote healthy blood pressure - power of 10,000 grapes per bottle)
  • Inflammatory support for free radicals and inflammation
  • Vision for optimal vision support
  • Healthy joint support to enhance cartilage regeneration
  • Brain health support to slow the affects of aging
  • CoQ10+ for high energy organs like the heart
PM Pack
  • Multivitamin
  • CardiOmega EPA (promotes normal response to activity-induced inflammation and support cardiovascular health)
  • Broadspectrum antioxidant
  • Probiotic
  • Grapeseed extract (promote healthy blood pressure - power of 10,000 grapes per bottle)
  • Inflammatory support for free radicals and inflammation
  • Coldwater Omega-3
  • Healthy joint support to enhance cartilage regeneration
  • Brain health support to slow the affects of aging
  • Vitamin K and D
If you are new to the world of supplements you might be thinking holy cow for many reasons.  This is less than the cost of a Starbucks a day.  His focus is better, his back and knee issues are better, all of his bloodwork numbers are in a healthy range and for the last 4 years have actually lowered in that healthy range (diet is the same and exercise is less!!).  

If you are a person that takes pharmaceuticals, what does it cost you?  What are the side effects...did you look into that?  Are they actually helping?

For less than the cost of a Starbucks a day would you start taking something that actually has scientific studies proving it works?  Think about the long term money a proactive approach saves in medical bills or pharmaceuticals where the side effects in a commercial are longer than the 'commercial' part.  

I'm not a disinfectant crazy person.  I have a fantastic one made with citrus and thyme oil that's EPA approved but honestly I don't use it.  Regular cleaning and hand-washing for me is good.

I do also use essential oils.  I've spent a lot of time on this topic because I see  A LOT of bad advice on the internet about safe usage, especially with kids.  In our room at night for 30 minutes I diffused a protective blend that had cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon and rosemary.  I also added Melaleuca oil and lavender.  In the common areas of the house and JP's room I diffused lemon, Melaleuca oil, frankincense and lavender.  

I hope you've learned something from this information and if there's ever anything you have questions on don't hesitate to contact me!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Minnie Mouse Digital Download

The other day I was finally going to check an item off of my list and create the Minnie Mouse digital come inside door sign.  It happened to be the day that a bunch of sites were taken down for a while due to a cyber denial of service attack.  Etsy, Pinterest, Twitter and a bunch of sites were down.  Ok, well I guess I won't get my Minnie Mouse done.

Well, now my son is taking a nap which is not going to be good for us come bedtime, but he fell asleep in the car after we were at a friends football game and stayed asleep on the way in.  Yesterday he fell asleep in the car too and I carried him into a store and got him back into the car, went to the mall and got him into the stroller, did what I needed to at the mall and got him back in the car and he woke up as we pulled into the driveway.  He got about a 2 hour nap in while I did all of that.  He must be growing again because that is unusual.

I always seem to digress while I write but I guess you get more insight into my life!

My point is my son is napping so I can get my Minnie project done!

So here she is, an instant download of the door sign.

You can purchase it at my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


October is a month of breast cancer awareness.  It's also a month for liver cancer awareness.  Just about every month has some kind of cancer awareness because cancer seems to be WAY to common these days.  One of the things I am passionate about is prevention of all cancers.  For several years now I've educated consumers on how to have healthier homes.  We started our journey looking for safer, more effective and budget friendly household items and I have learned so much over the years.
I get excited sharing and helping others on their journey to better health!

Today's post is focusing on an ingredient, formaldehyde.  This is a known human carcinogen as cited from the American Cancer Society.  Most people think ok whatever I don't use that.  I'm going out on a limb and saying that unless you've already switched brands and stopped shopping at mainstream brick and mortar stores you do actually have it in many things around your house.

The problem is that you won't see the word formaldehyde on a label.  These are some of the alternate names for it:
  • BFV
  • FA
  • Formaldehyde Solution (DOT
  • Formalin
  • Formalith
  • Formic Aldehyde
  • Formol
  • Fyde
  • Hoch
  • Ivalon
  • Karsan
  • Lysoform
  • Methanol
  • Methyl Aldehyde
  • Methylene Oxide
  • Morbicid
  • NCI-C02799
  • Oxomethane
  • Oxymethylene
  • Paraform
  • Polyoxymethylene Glycols
  • Rcra Waste Number U122
  • Superlysoform
  • UN 1198 (DOT)
  • UN 2209 (DOT)
  • Quaternium-15
  • 2-Bromo-2Nitropropate-1, 3-Diol
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Formalin
  • Methanal
  • Methyl Aldehyde
  • Methylene Oxide
  • Morbicid Acid
  • Oxymethylene
So now we have to remember all of those when reading labels.  No problem, right?!?!  It used to take me forever when shopping for anything because I was a label reader.    

This image contains a SMALL sampling of products that contain formaldehyde.  It actually makes me very sad that we as consumers are put into so much danger all for the bottom line.  We assume that if a product is on a shelf in a store that it's safe for us.  That's just not the case.  

It's in cleaning, personal care, cosmetics, baby products, it's all over.  It's a cheap preservative that these companies use to mass manufacture and have the product sit on shelves for years.  Products labeled free and clear and other products marketed for babies still contain chemicals such as formaldehyde.   It truly makes me sad.  

The time for change is now.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

End of an Era

A few weeks ago I got an email and the subject made my heat race for a brief moment of panic.  It was notification that in 30 days my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification would expire.  For anyone that isn't familiar with project management it's like an accountant letting their CPA go.  When I quit working my 'go to an office job' I knew I would not renew when the time came so this did not sneak up on me or catch me by surprise.  However, seeing those words was a little surreal.

I did enjoy my job for the most part, the people, the company overall were really great.  The pay was pretty darn good too.  Of course you have days from H E double hockey stick but that's anything in life.  I do not miss my 'going to an office job' it at all.  I don't miss the commute, I don't miss long hours, I don't miss working on someone else's schedule and terms.  The only thing I wouldn't mind doing again is working with Microsoft Project.  I'm a slight nerd when it came to the planning aspect of projects.  I'm a planner.  I LOVED it.

This is what my favorite part was.  I would do sessions called Walk The Wall.  The end result is this beauty!  Can you follow it?!?!

Each team has a row and a special color or shape Post-It.  The monthly calendar is at the top giving a visual estimate of dates.  The plain standard yellow Post-It's in the row are the teams own tasks and duration written on them.  They put their special Post-It in another team's row indicating a dependency for a task, meaning they can't do the task on the note until the other team does something.  This particular project had 10 different teams all working together. 

It was fun to watch it come together.  People writing their tasks, going to the 'wall' and all talking about what they have to do with each other, huddling to figure it all out.  The larger projects took a while but when the teams put this effort in we had a solid plan from the start.  

After it was done I would first tape all of the Post-It's to the paper so nothing fell off or got moved!!  I'd then sit and translate it into a Microsoft Project plan.  It was tedious but the end result is what I would get excited about.

So, the end of an era for me has come.  My certification will officially expire.  I'm ok with that.  My new job of mommy has longer hours and no cash flow coming in but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Even on the tougher days there are still lots of smiles and rewards you can't put a dollar figure on.  We create our own schedule and the time freedom is unexplainable.  We do what we want when we want.  

I don't mean for that to sound like we wander around without a care in the world, we have a schedule and are productive contributors to society.  We have Stroller Strides where we attend or I'm teaching, we have swimming lessons, we have school, we have MOMS Club activities and try to squeeze in music class at the library but it's all things we do on our terms, we made the schedule and that's what's fantastic.

Good bye Lisa, PMP.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Summer Olympics

I love watching the Olympics.  Growing up I remember going through phases where there was a sport I wanted to grow up and do at the Olympics.  The first was gymnastics.  I never took gymnastics but my mom taught me basics and I even had that leotard that Mary Lou Retton had that looked like the flag.  Later in life volleyball was my sport of choice so that was always a favorite.  I was never a swimmer but my husband was and there were exciting races this year.  JP is becoming quite the swimmer so I wouldn't mind steering him that direction instead of football.  My husband played football through college and yes, he does recall a time he likely had a concussion but was sent back in and never received medical treatment but it's not just that as to why neither of us are sure about the sport.  It's the broken toes and other bones and dislocated shoulders and bad knees from the years of abuse.  We'll see, I tend to over think things too early!

For my Stroller Strides and Fit4Baby classes all month I did Olypmic themed classes.  Most were moves that sort of mimicked a sport or something you'd do in training for it.  For example, we did standing long jumps, squat jumps with the motion of shooting a basketball, agility training like quick feet in a ladder.  When creating the classes and looking at all of the sports in the Olympic games I realized how many there were that I had no idea were part of the games.

Our playgroup's also had the Olympic theme.  The 1st week we did an opening ceremony where kids marched and waved flags and we did a closing ceremony the last week too.  Our super fun one was in the middle.  We painted the Olympic rings with toilet paper cardboard and also did a fun photo opp with sidewalk chalk.  I saw an article not long ago that manufacturers of toilet paper were making them without the cardboard middle.  I get it, it would be less waste but they sure come in handy for little kid activities.  We've done hot wheels down them, balls down them and they were perfect for this craft.

I was happy my chalk drawing turned out.  You just never know if what you envision in your head will be properly executed...at least for me anyway!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Train 3rd Birthday

It's no surprise around here that this year was a train birthday party.  JP loves any train, not just Thomas so I wanted to make sure it wasn't a Thomas party but we aren't really 'vintage' style people either so it actually took me a while to figure out how to make the theme work.  I was super excited with how it turned out.  As usual my husband thinks I'm nuts but also understands that I enjoy doing it.

I toyed around this year with making the cake because there were some cute things I found that were totally doable for a complete amateur but realize that I can't go crazy with party decorations and do the cake too so I will opt for the decoration part!

This is our front porch.  I made the Rail Road Crossing signs myself because we are going to re-do his room one of these days and do a train theme.  I'm going to pick neutral bedding and decorate the walls etc. with train things so we can easily switch and he won't outgrow bedding and the more expensive items.

I always seem to digress as I write!  Back to the Rail Road Crossing signs.  We purchased a 1x4 that was I think 8 ft. long.  I cut out the letters with my Sizzix Eclips and then laid them out on the board making sure to measure between the word Rail Road where it would cross to make sure the spacing was right.  From there we just cut per the longest side.

You can't really see in the pictures but I first brushed a few strokes with very little paint on the brush of black on the board so it would pop through the white and look distressed/dirty.  I just didn't want it bright shiny perfect white.  Next I painted the white. After it was dry I traced the letters with pencil and painted them.

For the sidewalk I laid down electrical tape for the tracks leading up to the front.  Just a warning it leaves residue.  It's been over a month since the party and we still have the marks left on the sidewalk and will need to power wash.  Knowing that I'd still do it again!

I designed all of the party printables and they can be found at my Etsy shop.

In the favor bag I put train whistles, train temporary tattoos, a yellow crossing sign twisty straw and fruit snacks.  

Creative Cakes did the cake again and it was fantastic!!  I added the train cars once we got it home and made sure not to use Thomas pieces.

I found this cardboard train at Shindigz.com.  I swear you can find anything you want online!  You customize what goes on the 2 gold areas.

I found the train themed photo booth props at PaperBuiltShop on Etsy.

We had purchased a 2nd car seat (finally no more moving it) and this box kept making its way to the curb come garbage day.  I would bring it in and my husband would say why are we keeping that box so I would tell him and the next week it would be back at the curb.  I think he was ready to get rid of it!  I just wrapped the box with the roll of craft paper and painted on the words and frankly the small detail of finding something black that looked like coal was low on the list and I just didn't want to do it when we have plenty of things already around that the kids could use.

This is a big FAIL!  In my head it was going to be super cute.  I tried to use the edible markers and it just wouldn't work on the chocolate.  I had a heck of a time with the chocolate too, I am not a fan of the Wilton chips but I'm not sure what else you use since that's pretty much what is in every store.  After ruining a few of them I stopped and just had plain yellow Oreo pops out on the table.

Maybe it's a good thing I didn't attempt the cake!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Growing my Etsy shop

I will slowly be adding items to my shop and will likely focus on downloadable printables.  I love crafting and hand making items for parties and things like that but I want time for that to be my own hobby and not having the only time I do it to be for 'work'.

JP has started pre-school already, I can't believe it!  It gives me a little time each day to get something done in peace.  It's just like when he used to nap but I don't have to stay home!  That may sound like I'm thrilled he's in school and part of me is.  He is so excited each day to go and comes out with a big smile saying he had fun at school today.  That makes me happy.  The first day was not good for me.  I held it together until I got back in the truck but then I cried.  Luckily I had scheduled a meeting that first day to keep my mind off of it so time passed and we were all good.  Now that I know he's happy I can be a little more excited to have some time back ;)

I've had requests for my Mickey Mouse Come Inside Its Fun Inside door sign in a digital printable format and I've completed it and added it to my shop.  This is it.  You can print it and attach to any ribbon, sticks etc. that you wish.  You can find it at my Etsy shop.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Macaroni Day

There is a day for everything!  I actually really like that there is because it helps with ideas on things to do with the kids.

Supplies needed:
-noodles (any kind you can thread through)
-rubbing alcohol
-food coloring
-paper towels
-cookie trays
-rubber/plastic glove
-paper cups
-pipe cleaners
-hole punch

This list seems long but it's likely a lot of things you already have.

The directions I found for dying noodles was a capful of rubbing alcohol and 5 drops of food coloring in a baggie then add in about 10 noodles at a time for the best color.  Having never done this before I followed directions.  After I had the first batch of noodles in I realized this wasn't going to be very clean or efficient.  You can't just dump the noodles because there's still a lot of liquid left in the baggie.  So, I found myself a glove to pull them out.  The next issue was getting more noodles in the bag...you have to hold the baggie open, still have a glove with food coloring on it and are trying not to spill/stain anything.  I gave up and just poured more alcohol and random amounts of food coloring in and filled the bag with noodles.  It worked just fine.  You need to manipulate the noodles around for a little bit to make sure they are all getting wet but I thought the color turned out just the same as it was only doing a few at a time. I would also recommend using freezer bags as the noodles punctured holes as I swished them around in just a little sandwich baggie.  I will say though that mixing colors to make more fun colors didn't work.  The orange turned out the same as red and the teal turned out the same as blue.  It must have something to do with the color of the noodle because it looked like the right color in the baggie.  The tutorial I read also said they had a hard time getting purple, it always turned out black.

You can probably use a variety of items as your 'thread' but if you use yarn you need to wrap tape around the end because it starts to fray right away.  I just had yarn on hand so that's what I wanted to use.  

Some of them liked throwing the noodles more than threading them!  It was a good sensory bowl too I guess.

Some of the younger ones just made a necklace but JP enjoys threading so we made wind chime.  I punched 4 holes in a paper cut to go around.  

For the hook I used a pipe cleaner.  I folded it in half and twisted the bottom and poked it through a hole in the top.  I then spread out the tips of the pipe cleaner kind of like a drywall anchor.  

4th of July Star Wand

It's the 4th of July and a lot of these kiddos are probably a little young for sparklers and other fun but potentially dangerous activities that come with the holiday.  Something for them to shake and catch their eye was what I was going for.

Supplies needed:
-popsicle sticks
-festive garland
-white craft paper
-foam stickers

The first step is to cut the garland in the length that you need.  I just wrapped it tightly around the popsicle stick and it didn't slip around.  I did cut  off a lot of the stars of the garland that were to be under the white star.  

I cut out a bunch of white stars with my Sizzix Eclips.  It worked best to glue the tips of the stars together.  The garland was a little too thick to actually glue the star to the popsicle stick.  Once the glue was dry the kiddos can add on the foam star stickers.  I was trying for a nice centered star on each side but JP had other ideas and when I wasn't looking started adding more to where ever they would stick! 

Father's Day

This was a tough one for me.  I had scoured Pinterest and just wasn't finding anything that was really catching my interest for a good project for all of the little ones we have in our Fit4MOM community.  I sat in the kids craft isle at Michael's just staring blankly.  This is the idea that came to me.  

Supplies needed:
-8 1/2 x 11 foam sheets
-foam stickers
-letters for 'daddy'
-glue stick

The D's are cut out of foam sheets.  I made my template and just traced it backwards on what would be the back side just so my cutting didn't have to be perfect and the front wouldn't have the traced lines.

I trimmed the picture so it was the same width as the D and didn't hang over.  JP loved the stickers.  I had to keep them out of his reach or he would have put stickers on everything!  I'm glad he has fun with them now because he went through a brief phase where he was really scared of them.  He would cringe and bring his hands to his body and almost panic.  It took some practice to work through it and show him there wasn't anything to be scared of and now he loves stickers.

JP is one of the older ones in the group so I try to take what I've learned with him and help get these younger kids exposed to a lot of different things, work on different motor skills and still keep it fun for them.

Even the little kids were having fun putting the stickers on.

Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 7th is Chocolate Ice Cream Day.  Who needs an excuse to eat ice cream though, certainly not us!!  

Supplies needed:
-brown paint
-foam paint brush
-full sheets of paper (in colors that brown paint will show up on)
-paper for ice cream and cherries
-brown marker
-glue stick

For this craft I cut out the ice cream shapes and cherries from one of the Sizzix Eclips cartridges I have.  JP's foot is so big I had to kind of merge a couple of the melting layer to make it fit right across the 'cone'!  

It's easiest to get the best and most even coverage on the foot to use a foam paint brush to apply to the foot.  You need to press down especially in the arch area.  You can see that I didn't do that good enough so I just used the paint brush to fill it in.  

While the paint is drying you can add on the ice cream and toppings.  Once the paint dries you can use a brown marker and make the 'waffle' effect on the cone. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fit4Mom Mother's Day Craft

This week we are doing a big celebration of moms all week.  The best thing is that it's a week of free classes for people to try out.  Every class...Stroller Strides, Fit4Baby, Body Back and the running club.  How great is that!  There have been a bunch of new moms out this week too!

This is a great group because there are options for having your kids with you.  Moms are great at taking care of everyone else and often tend to forget about taking care of themselves.  In order to take care of everyone else you have to be healthy yourself.  Physically, emotionally and all around balance for yourself makes taking care of everything else being a mom demands much easier.  When you find a group who welcomes you, ponytail and sometimes uncooperative kids with no judgement just open arms its such a relief.  It's your own little support community for advice, play-dates, moms night out oh and don't forget the whole point of the group...fitness!

It's also great to teach the kids that mom is doing something for herself and that exercise is an important aspect of your health.  It's so cute when they start doing planks or push-ups.  They take it all in and start to do what mommy is doing.  They learn too...counting forwards and backwards as time or reps are counted, lol!

Our craft this week was a hand print/flower.  We started by doing a hand print, then after the paint dried used marker to make the 'flower' around the hand print.  Next we cut it out and glued it on a popsicle stick.

Happy Mother's Day!