Monthly Archives: July 2014

My Daughter Needs to Know #imENOUGH




I struggle. I get too stressed out.  For my lovely readers you all know exactly what fears have set in this past month.  The car broke down.  Our moving plans got wait-listed. I struggle with my own self-worth daily.

Am I doing everything right?

Am I being the best mom I can be?

Did they eat enough vegetables?

Did they laugh enough today?

Did they learn anything?

How come the house is always in need of a deep cleaning?

Why am I always in gym clothes? I don’t even go to a gym.

These questions scroll through my head a couple of times a day.  They are always there, always present, and always judging me.  Harshly, I might add.  I am my own worst critic.  

Now that I am raising two toddlers I am more aware of exactly what kind of role model I want to be.  I am always aware of how I act- but most recently I was shaken to my core with what I say…

OUT LOUD.

“I am too fat.”  
“I am too big.”  
“I can’t wear any of my clothes.”

I am frustrated to my very core with how I look.  I hate how I feel at this weight.  I am incredibly disheartened that all of my hard work goes unfounded.  

Though I may be frustrated, that is not a good enough excuse to explain my behavior. I am appalled that I could possibly instill some self-doubt into my two little ones.  

I have a team of professionals helping me get healthy.  I just found out I am extremely allergic to gluten and dairy and that my body has been fighting a losing battle.

I have answers.  Cutting out gluten and dairy has made me feel infinitely better.  I am now eating 1200 more calories a day than usual and have lost inches in a mere seven days.

I may not be where I want to be health wise- but I will be someday.  I need to remember that I have two pairs of eyes on me at all times and that I need to stop the negative self-talk. 

I am enough.  I am exactly who I need to be.  I am proud of who I am, where I come from, and of what my body is capable of doing.  I am and will always be doing everything that I know to be right for my family.  I am enough.



I want my daughter to know that she is enough.  That she will always be enough.  

The world needs to hear this message. Please share this with your loved ones and take heart to the lessons we can learn from this. 


 The Mrs. debut song is “Enough”. This song is a celebration of women and lets us know that we are enough! I LOVE the message that it sends. Please check it out!


About The Mrs. 
The Mrs. will be releasing their debut EP this fall. Although the music may sound like what’s being played on pop radio right now, the lyrics tell a different story. As women in their late thirties/early forties, songs about teenage heartbreak and wild nights clubbing weren’t things they could relate to. They decided to write about their own lives – like the challenge of juggling a career, marriage, motherhood and friendships, while still trying to maintain their own identity. They set out to foster a connection through their music with other women at the same place in their lives. 

The Mrs. is comprised of drummer Andra Liemandt, lead vocalists/guitarists Mandy Prater and Jennifer Zavaleta, vocalist/keyboardist Larissa Ness, and bassist Jenny Mason.


The Challenge
I invite you to share your own #imENOUGH selfie! Share it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and comment below to let me know! I love the message this group is promoting and am hoping that we can use social networking for some good.


Take a SELFIE. Seriously- No make-up on, just got both kids out of the bath and into pajamas.  Ridiculous #selfie for the win! #winning What? Too many #hastags?!? #Never. 


This post is sponsored by The Mrs. As always all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Arizona Science Center: Lost Egypt Exhibit{& GIVEAWAY}

Lost Egypt Exhibit
 
 
Disclaimer: I was provided the opportunity to visit the Arizona Science Center and Lost Egypt exhibit through a campaign with Blended Extended. All opinions are my own.
 
 
The Toddler was over the moon excited about going to see “The Mummies”!  He squealed with delight when we walked in and grinned from ear to ear the entire time we were there.  
 
The Arizona Science Center definitely got his seal of approval.
 
 
Oh look- the mom behind the camera! I am consciously working on being IN the pictures with my little ones instead of just documenting our family.  Takes some planning to get pictures with my little ones and luckily my husband was able to take the afternoon off to explore the Lost Egypt exhibit with us.
 


 
Sweet Em got the best seat in the house for the trip!  She loved exploring with us and was quite comfortable in the heavy AC environment- which is key in Phoenix this time of year.
 
Our group was escorted straight up to the Lost Egypt exhibit.  The Toddler could not contain his excitement when he saw the mummies and literally shouted with joy.  UNTIL he got too close.  Those are just fabricated mummies at the entrance to the exhibit but to a two year old they are the life size Scooby Doo villains come to life.  Thankfully he inched closer and realized they weren’t bad guys after all.  
 


 
 
About the Lost Egypt Exhibit
Lost Egypt is an immersive quest for knowledge that reveals how archaeologists use modern 
science and technology to uncover and understand the ancient civilization of Egypt. Through 
hands-on challenges, authentic artifacts and guidance from real archaeologists, visitors will 
unearth the mysteries of Egypt, its culture and its people. The exhibition explores how 
mummies, artifacts and other material remains contribute to our scientific understanding of past cultures.
 
Highlights include a real human mummy and several animal mummies, as well as scans, 
forensic facial reconstructions and for the first time ever, a life-size rapid prototype (a type of 3D computer model) of a mummy in a stage of “unwrapping.” Visitors will also be transported into ancient times where they will discover a re-creation of an Egyptian tomb and authentic art and artifacts from the daily life and funerary culture of ancient Egypt. 


 
The Toddler loved being able to climb up and “ride” a full size camel statue.  He is MUCH higher off the ground than he seems and was clinging on for dear life.  The camel is a lovely addition to the exhibit and was a hit with all of the young in attendance(and some much older).  As a former educator it was refreshing to see so many opportunities to learn, touch, feel, and move throughout the exhibit.  
 
This was The Toddler’s favorite hands-on activity and is perfect for the youngest in your group.  You had to drag a block to the pyramid using the technology that the Ancient Egyptians used.  He worked hard to move the stone the length of the runner.  
 



 
There are some places in the exhibit where you can not take pictures- which just means you need to go see for yourself what other treasures lay within the Lost Egypt exhibit!


 



The Mummification Process



Our Group of Bloggers from Blended Extended
 
About Arizona Science Center
The mission of Arizona Science Center is to inspire, educate and entertain people of all ages 
about science. The Center, located at 600 E. Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, features more than 300 hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, the state-of-the-art Dorrance Planetarium and a five-story IMAX® theater. For more information, visit www.azscience.org or call 602-716-2000.
 
After our visit to the Lost Egypt exhibit we were able to go explore the rest of the massive grounds.  I love how the Arizona Science Center makes a point to provide as many hands-on learning opportunities as they can!



 
Family Tug of War Game
 


The Toddler and I are undefeated- 4-0!


Em tried to help as much as she could… alas she is only 18 lbs of pure cuteness right now. Maybe next time.


 
 
Our last stop on the way out was this fabulous water station outside.  
 
 
We all got thoroughly soaked but the giggles and laughs echoed into the building!
 
 
We spent probably 45 minutes outside with him at the various water stations.  
He definitely did not want to leave, ever.
 
 
The signs of a worthy trip with a toddler?
 
The Ultimate Car Nap
 
The Arizona Science Center was a blast! We are definitely planning a trip back in the near future. The majority of the exhibits are geared toward elementary school aged children and above-BUT our toddler had the time of his life and three hours was not enough time to see even close to everything that the Science Center offers!  Plan to spend the day there with your family.  Now for my lucky readers- a giveaway!
 
 
GIVEAWAY
 
You have the opportunity to win one of THREE Family Four Packs of tickets to the Arizona Science Center!
 
Simply CLICK on the Rafflecopter link below to submit your entries.  
 
Giveaway Ends 8/3 at 11:59PM ET.
 


a Rafflecopter giveaway



I was provided the opportunity to visit the Arizona Science Center and Lost Egypt exhibit through a campaign with Blended Extended. All opinions are always 100% my own.

Teacher: Back to School Checklist



 Even thinking about this list makes my anxiety level go up a notch. But lists are my JAM. After teaching for a couple years I feel like I know what to expect and exactly what I need to be prepared for the first week of school.  Here are some of my picks to help you conquer your first week at school. 

Oh and nothing really can prepare you for teacher throat unless you work through summer at camp. You’ve been warned!


Every year I go over and update my syllabus of expectations, supplies, and an overview of the course. High expectations are a must for me.  As a middle school teacher respect is key and makes or breaks you with eighth graders.  There are the essential rules rundown and then we make our own classroom rules, diplomatically. Takes time to think through the rules you want in a classroom and then they are posted to the wall with the “Team” name that the class has chosen.


The first piece of homework is for the parents.  For all of those parent’s out there-please hear me out!  I want parent’s to give me the opportunity to see a little bit more of who their child is through their eyes.  The homework is extra credit and does not count against anyone.  The letter’s I have received are heartfelt and full of meaning.  Some are simple and handwritten, while others are pages(and pages) of stories about their little(BIG) eighth grader. All are meaningful and none are better than the other.  


I am a PLANNER.  I put in all of the field trips, holidays, parent conferences, and key dates in my desk calendar.  I also plan out one-two months in advance what we will be doing each day. This would have never been possible my first year teaching but now I know how fast we go through material and how long our Nuclear Bomb Shelter Activity, Mock Trials, and our full Presidential Campaigns run.  Who says history and government is boring?!? Not THIS teacher. Oh and real life monopoly? That’s right.  I am the landlord to 120 darling little eighth graders. Real life skills? Check. Writing checks? Check. Boring? NEVER. Well, that’s a matter of opinion but I can’t hear the naysayers over the curls of my gray judge wig. Old school teaching new school.


My classroom is full of flavor.  Twinkly lights around the SMART Board, pictures of my family, fabulous examples of projects from past students but most importantly it is full of information.  Each unit has coordinating information- Elections- Nuclear Attack-Trials- Monopoly. 


Pizzazz! Yep, I just used that word. The pictures show just a “touch” of what my classroom looks like. 




I am a planner and making sure that the copies that I do need get done ahead of time is pivotal.  Seriously, those printers break ALL THE TIME. So I make sure that I am set for a month at a time for my classes.  I try to save all the trees I can and post ALL my documents online so that everyone can view them on their laptops. I also have a Blog for my students to post on once a week about a current event on the news that is privately accessed.  That printer has my name, I swear. But so far I have had the last laugh! 

Supplies can get EXPENSIVE and I am excited to share a fabulous contest that helps teacher’s and students alike!

#GREATLIST CONTEST:

You simply upload your school supply list HERE. And Great Clips picks daily winners! Winners will get their back-to-school supply list shipped to their front door for free (up to $100 value). Every little bit helps!

#GREATLIST contest entrants receive a $2-off Great Clips coupon with their confirmation email the first time they submit a school supply list. 


I LOVE companies that care about education! Check out this Before and After of one classroom makeover.



Click HERE to watch the full video of the classroom makeover and see how Great Clips has already fulfilled two teachers’ lists. You can help other teachers throughout the U.S. and Canada by downloading the Online Check-In app. 

Online Check-In app – This service lets you add your name to the waiting list at your local Great Clips salon. It’s not an appointment – what it does is let you add your name to the list before arriving at the salon to help save you time.  Help donate to the AdoptAC cause!

With every download, Great Clips will contribute to AdoptAClassroom.org (up to $20,000) to help continue to support teachers and students. Every little bit adds up! A small donation can go a long way to support teachers, their supplies and classrooms. All you have to do is download the App and enter to win your supply list! WIN-WIN.

Many Great Clips salons are offering back-to-school pricing for haircuts! Check out your local salon for details.

About Great Clips – With more than 3,300 salons throughout the United States and Canada, Great Clips is the world’s largest salon brand. Great Clips salons employ nearly 35,000 stylists who receive ongoing training to learn the Great Clips customer service system and advanced technical skills. Great Clips salon owners and corporate office are dedicated to our salon communities with a focus on philanthropic and volunteer activities.

This post is sponsored by Great Clips. As always all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.






Snow in July


Snow Day at the Phoenix Zoo


He climbed, bounced, boogied, and it took some serious convincing that we should go check out the splash pad and animals. Serious convincing.  


Throwing snow balls!  Disney Radio was playing songs and guess what they played(over and over)? Did you guess the Frozen Soundtrack?!? DING DING DING- We have a winner!  I’m pretty sure there were more parent’s singing than children. Hilarious.

Photo Op with Little Sister

Em lasted about thirty seconds, no shoes on meant it was going to be a short little visit for her anyways, but she actually loved playing with small pieces in the grass area.

King of the Mountain

Sharing is caring.





Splash Pad for the win!


Patient little observer.  Em “walked” all over the splash pad with me which ensured that I was thoroughly soaked.  There are so many people that look so well put together at the zoo- I am not one of them.  



FAMILY PHOTO

Cowboys, Pirates, and Monsters are all he ever talks about…  he loved riding the “horse” with mom.


Round TWO



Do you want to build a SNOWMAN?!?


Too Much Fun.



Last year on this Saturday I was showered by my best friend’s and family in honor of Little Em.  I can’t believe an entire year has passed!  I am beyond blessed to have such lovely people in our lives!

I wish I could accurately account for the actions that took place to get The Toddler up onto that mound of snow.  Please let it be known that in all his years(two to be exact) he has never once encountered snow.  Sure we have spent the holidays up in the Pacific Northwest but we always missed the white fluffy stuff and just had the rain.  

The Toddler thought he literally was going to die, like clinging to the stroller with both legs wrapped around it with all of his strength.  Not even close to kidding.  So there was that.  I thought that he would LOVE the snow since it was all he could talk about that morning as we drove to the zoo- so I told the hubby to pick him up and plop him down on it.  Parenting win.  It was hysterically(sad) until he actually touched the snow.  For the life of me I do not know what he thought was going to happen- I mean we have watched Frozen and he LOVES that movie.  No tears were shed, or shrieks of fear- just a 45 pound toddler wrapped around my husband’s forearm.

We left for the Zoo before 7AM and were thrilled with the cloud-cover and rain clouds that kept the temperatures much cooler.  We were able to go visit all of our favorite farm animals and statues while getting rained on.  Em truly enjoyed interacting with the animals and I can not wait to go with them during the week when the temperatures cool off in September.  We left the zoo at 9:30AM and the sun was out and the temperatures started to soar- thankful we got there so early so that we didn’t have to worry about overheating our little ones!

The Toddler definitely LOVED the snow and we had to pluck him off of the top to get going home.  A drastic difference in just two hours.  

Both of them were too excited to take their usual naps but one little girl didn’t even make it through dinner…

Our weekend was full of fun with our little ones and fixing up the house late at night.  I redid the grout in our powder bathroom, touched up all the paint in every room, painted the front door and the door to the garage and the hubby worked on fixing the irrigation system.  Small projects that hopefully will leave a lasting impression on our little house.

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!


Are You Sure it Doesn’t Run in Your Family?

Ever since the birth of Sweet Em I have been working on getting myself back.  I came home from the hospital encouraged that I knew what expectations were healthy for my body-especially seeing how long it takes for the softness to dissipate naturally.  With The Toddler I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in six weeks. I was soft and in no way back to my normal-looking self- BUT I fit into all of my clothes.  I had to pump with The Toddler because of various latch issues(more on that another day) and felt like a failure-basically still do.  So with Em? She latched and I was successfully breastfeeding right from the start.

Breastfeeding helps lose weight right?!? 

Not for me.

In fact nothing has worked for me.  I am the same weight I was from when I left the hospital with Em eleven months and two days ago.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not thrilled with this stat nor am I proud of that fact but it is a fact no less.  If anything I try to be as transparent as I can on this blog when it comes to me personally.  So as embarrassing as it is, that’s my life.

I am a former athlete and know everything I need to do to get back into shape. Truly.

I workout 5-6 days a week and eat 1250-1500 healthy calories to which I track religiously. I drink an insane amount of water each day- INSANE.  I have never tracked calories until this stalemate occurred.  Around three months postpartum I started to track what I ate.  Back then I allowed myself to eat more calories to make sure that I had an adequate milk supply- 1750-2000 calories. I am happy to say that I never had a problem with a lack of milk.  I even tried eating more for two weeks with the notion that my body was going through starvation mode with breastfeeding and instead gained ten pounds. TEN.

SO THOROUGHLY FRUSTRATED I trudged on. Everyone I talked to said that it takes longer with the second baby. I agreed but KNEW that it couldn’t be this hard. It was not physically possible to put in all of this work and care and to not get anywhere.  I was convinced that I had a thyroid problem. And one of my best friend’s(soon to be Nurse Practitioner agreed-should have listened to you Nikki).

When I offered this diagnosis people scoffed at the idea.  Perhaps they thought I wasn’t working out or eating healthy?  A doctor actually laughed at me and told me to lay off the pizza. Humiliating doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling.

Months pressed on.  The workouts continued- the eating healthy continued-AND the water drinking continued.  Nothing changed.

It wasn’t until there was a lump the size of my toddler’s fist protruding from my neck that I decided to seek help.  I look LOVELY people.

So at ten months postpartum with only the support of my husband I decided to seek medical help.  

The specialist immediately agreed that I have hypothyroidism.  She brought in back up to the office and started to discuss the very real possibility of surgery to remove the massive lump on my throat.  She asked three times if thyroid cancer ran in my family.  

THREE TIMES.

As I sat there wracking my brain I told her of all of the cancer’s that do run in our family but that thyroid cancer was not one of them.

She immediately sent me to get an ultrasound on the mass that afternoon and I have the longest list of blood tests to complete on Monday morning.

I collapsed in tears when she told me that no matter what happens that WE will figure it out.  That WE will make sure that my body is healthy again.

It was so reassuring to know that I wasn’t crazy.  That there is a reason as to why I am still 40 lbs heavier.

I am beyond terrified of my new reality.  We are thousands of miles away from family and our support system.  Surgery- Cancer-Treatment- Daunting. I am the sole caretaker of the two cutest(biased a bit?) kids. I can’t get sick.  I can’t have surgery.  I can’t have cancer.  

I can’t deal with my new reality.

But it is my reality.

I wrote this days before my appointment and posted it while covered in tears. 

I don’t know if I can handle all of this.

An answer is better than not knowing.  Even if it’s not the answer I want.









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