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Family, Food & Wine, Health

Weekend Baby Fix & Fun Pensacola, FL Hot Spots

This weekend I took a little trip to visit my sister and her new baby. She has to be the most beautiful infant you ever did see, but hey I might be partial.

Little Sloane turned a month old about a week ago and I was just so excited to meet her. We won’t be bringing my kiddos around to see her until November. I guess we’ll let her get a little more durable before these toddler kids  of mine try to start handling her. I know both my kids can hardly wait, and when I told my son I was going to see baby Sloane he told me, “But I NEEEED to see her!” I just think we all can’t wait for our little munchkins to hang out together.

We FaceTimed my kiddos one morning and little Sloane had a lot to say.

She’s just the most laid back baby. Here are a few pictures of my visit if you’d like to see.

Every morning I had a lovely decaf coffee. Most mornings my mom brought it to me in this beautiful guest room of hers that I stayed in. Doesn’t that sound amazing? My mom spoils me!

My mom also made me smoothies almost every day (which I saved for the afternoons) with a concoction of all of these little goodies.

On Saturday we made a trip to the Farmer’s Market (pit stop at this downtown coffee spot) and then the Pensacola Wine Bar for lunch for $3 mimosas.

The coffee bar (with my sister in front) had these beautiful mini cheesecakes (below)- I ordered a cashew caramel coconut cheesecake to split (AMAZING) and a yummy decaf honey latte with almond milk (I’m still craving another one).

My sister is indulging me in a photo, but doesn’t she look amazing postpartum???

The Farmer’s Market boasted BBQ Sauce, flavored popcorn, meats, produce, and even homemade crepes.

The Pensacola Wine Bar is one of my favorite stops when I make it to town. They have wine (of course), but very economical food, a huge variety, and an indoor and outdoor space (in a brick alley) that makes for the perfect lounging atmosphere. Plus, $3 mimosas!!! And this is the avocado toast- YUM!

On Saturday night, Sloane had her fist sleepover with me and my mom (her Gigi). We had to steal her away, and had the best time taking her out for dinner to this family and kid-friendly restaurant and rocking her in her favorite chair. But her soft velvety hair though!

We made a trip to the most talked about George’s for brunch on Sunday and squeezed in a visit with my grandmother, Sloane’s great grandmother. My sister and I took Sloane for a long walk in the afternoon on their walking path by the beach to CB. There was a cross-fit competition going on in the main section of the beach and we had fun eyeing all the ultra-fit competitors.

Snuggles with Great Grams!

 

Doesn’t my brother-in-law’s “coffee Sunday” from George’s look amazing. They also have Popsicle champagne sparklers.

And on Monday I indulged in some much needed relaxation, headed for a run, enjoyed a book. Finally the girls took sweet Sloane out shopping at one of our favorite stores- TJ Maxx! Pensacola has one of the nicest stores I have ever seen (even compared to Miami and Memphis).

It was a sweet and short trip and I’ll be missing my family, especially our newest member sweet little Sloane. So long Pensacola!

Here’s a recap of all the restaurants and places I visited (and recommend) in case you’re in the area.

Red Fish Blue Fish

Fosko’s Coffee Barre

George’s Artisan Bakery and Bistro

Wine Bar on Palafox

Casino Beach Bar overlooking the beach (they also have brunch!)

Rotolo’s

Palafox Market (Farmer’s Market)

TJ Maxx in Pensacola

Pensacola Beach Walking and Biking Trail

 

~Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Wine, Health

Why My Second Cup of Coffee Is Decaf

This month I had this major health bummer. I have been waking up with a tight and painful jaw. I have been in so much pain and been scratching my head trying to figure out why. And why now? What exactly changed over the last month that has made me clench so hard. My jaw was doing an ultimate work-out regimen that was enough to make my face muscles sore every single morning.

I started drinking tea at night before bed, reached for the Calm Down potion that I talked about here, and vowed to go to bed early and grab some extra rest. Nothing worked. Nothing.

So I did what all the smart people do when they have a health question, I headed to the ‘ole internet for advice and counsel.  And the internet said all the things I already knew. Stress causes jaw clenching, let go of negative thoughts, consider wearing a night guard (eek)… but none of it helped. Other tips included: stop chewing gum, write a journal to relieve stress, increase physical activity and water intake. Low and behold I found this article with some of these common causes and tips, but it also said to avoid certain beverages: caffeine and alcohol.

So while I’m not cutting out all of the caffeine (what do you think I am some kind of maniac?) I did start limiting myself to one cup, and now I switch to decaf when I’m craving a second one. And it worked! I have been sleeping better and my jaw is back to normal.

While you may not have the whole jaw clenching problem, it could be beneficial to check out some of the research on decaf coffee I discovered on my path to self-diagnosis.

Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30, and certified sports nutritionist, has made several statements about her deviation from caffeine. In this interview with Root and Revel, she explains why. “I drink decaf Americanos (I don’t drink caffeine, ever), and a huge variety of herbal teas. I switched to decaf only about seven years ago. I’m really sensitive to caffeine, and after a few Whole30-ish eliminations and re-introductions, decided my energy, sleep, mood, and general happiness would be better if I successfully gave it up. The transition was tough, but now I’m really happy I did it, and my energy and sleep have never been better.”

Livestrong.com also boasts benefit for drinking decaf, including reduced chances of getting Gout, Cardiovascular disease and even Type 2 Diabetes.

Healthline breaks down decaf coffee benefits in their explanation. “One cup of brewed decaf coffee provides 2.4% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, 4.8% of potassium and 2.5% of niacin, or vitamin B3. This may not seem like a lot of nutrients, but the amounts add up quickly if you drink 2-3 (or more) cups of coffee a day.”

So there you go, decaf is on the upward trend for getting your coffee fix, sustaining jaw grinding, preventing disease, and filling up on magnesium, potassium and vitamin B3!

Do you drink decaf?

 

Family, Health, Uncategorized

Hand Out a High-Five- A Little Tip

Do you hi-five? I mean do you really hold up you hand with the corny gesture to tell someone “way to go” or “hey man good job”?

I gave my husband a high-five today for eating all his corn and chicken at the dinner table (for the pure audience of our children- hey parents will do anything to get their kids to eat). I also gave my husband a high-five for putting a backyard playground together. And you know what, it’s so cheesy. But you know what else, it feels great to hold up your hand and slap some recognition right into someone else’s being.

I don’t remember ever giving my husband a high-five before last week- how sad is that? There are so many missed opportunities. I am going to have to make it up to him! For those of you still here reading on about my kooky high-five banter, here’s the back-story.

My daughter would not eat the other day. This was her regular performance. We would set down her dinner and she’d turn her head and say “I don’t like” without ever trying it. This has been going on for weeks. It started to really concern me sooo I got desperate and did the first thing I could think of. I looked at my son and started giving him high-fives for every single bite he ate. My son was stoked and my daughter felt left out so she started shoveling food in her mouth. Hunger strike over! I was shocked! I mean, yes it was a desperate idea and I tried it out for size, but I never thought it would work!

My little experiment makes me realize how little effort requires to make someone feel engaged and appreciated. We have been handing out high-fives in our house ever since. My daughter is eating better because she doesn’t want to feel left out. She cares about being appreciated.  And what I took for granted is that my son WAS eating well and we weren’t giving him credit for that.

Here’s my challenge to you. Try out your high-five. Start with your kids, your spouse and your family and move to co-workers. Throw in a stranger for good measure. I promise you, most people can’t leave a high-five hanging. Plus, showing appreciation for other’s efforts with a high-five is totally cheesy, but strangely rewarding.

Side bar: We also tell Alexa to set a timer for a five minute count-down when our kids just take forever to eat- it drives my son BONKERS! (I can’t give away all my wonderful parenting tips in one post!) But the high-five approach has much better results around our table.

Cheers to high-fives (if a cheers and a high-five at the same time is even possible)!

~Ashley

Career & Resources, Health

Fail Fast

Today I got a speeding ticket- eek! It’s funny, when I was in my 20’s I would have cried. I would have been shaking while I stuttered through my conversation with the officer and then immediately after I would have called my husband and cried. Then, once I calmed down I would have been angry at the injustice; and life as I knew it for that rest of that day would be over. I probably also would have had an organized glove compartment with all the necessary documentation required for the officer- but hey- those were the days when I had time to be organized like that.

It’s funny how perspective (due to age and experiences) changes things. Today I had to look for my wallet (unorganized mom fail), the nice policeman asked me why I thought he pulled me over and my answer was to the point and unwavering “I was speeding”. The omission to my mistake was direct and I had a clear goal for us to complete the transaction and continue on with our day as quickly as possible. The officer had already made up his mind and due to my previous experience in receiving tickets I was completely aware of that. Then I said all the prayers that my kids were not in the car, because all the million questions have been saved that my son would be asking me for the months to come- sigh.

At work we’ve been talking about “failing fast”. Fail, go over what you learned, iterate and move forward. I’m trying to apply that philosophy to my life. When I make an ooops or a mistake I try not to dwell on it. I am learning not to beat myself and to give myself a little grace. And then sometimes I share my failure with others. What better way to gain perspective and show an example to others that IT’S OK TO FAIL.

Don’t worry fellow Memphians, I’ll be slowing down. But on the upside, my city will be an even better place to live once they invest my ticket money back into their budget.

How do you view failure and how do you fail fast? Do you share your failure with others?

Food & Wine, Health

Friday Favorites {7.28.17}

Hello Friday- it’s been a while… well I guess it’s been 7 days… anyway, it’s great to see you! We sure are ready for the weekend. We have a fun play date planned this weekend and otherwise, we’ll be trying to plan for relatively no plans! This will actually be our goal until school starts at the end of the month. Also, we watched Pete’s Dragon last night and it was a huge hit so I’m sure we will have that movie on repeat that about 2.5 million times over the weekend. And I’m sure I will be balling my ever-living eyes out (an orphan loses his family, is raised by a dragon and then who is basically adopted- ugh- insert ugly cry here- why do you do it Disney- WHY???).

I thought I’d share some of my favorite products (not endorsed) this Friday. Some of these were recommended to me and others I’ve recently stumbled upon. I guess you could consider most of these summer favorites! But first, this… do you follow letterfolk on instagram? I just love this one…

Anyhow, on to the favorites.

Ice Cream. You Scream| We usually spend many evenings enjoying a summer treat on our front porch. My husband found these: they’re mini drum sticks. Less calories and sugar but just a little bit of heaven so we don’t feel as guilty indulging more often.


Bugs and Burns Be Gone!| Summer seems to bring all the bugs to Memphis. My husband also found this awesome, highly rated bug lotion. The sunscreen was recommended by one of my sister’s friends who is a dermatologist- it gives great coverage and even though it says “kids” my husband and use it too.


Drink Your Garden| My friend used to work for this company and I actually got a free sample of their chocolate protein powder the other day. I mixed it with a bit of almond milk and a few blended berries for lunch and it tasted great! Buy it straight from the company or at Whole Foods. Amazon also sells the large container of another flavor.


Necklace Junkie| I talked about Noonday in another one of my posts- I bought this necklace from an adoption fundraiser and it finally came in. I love it! Here it is pictured in person.


Calm Down| I’ve had this calm drink in my cabinet on standby for a while, but this Sunday I dragged it out- drinking magnesium is better than alcohol right? It definitely does the trick to calm nerves and I notice a difference in my system the morning after I’ve had it. Another friend of mine said she notices she sleeps better when she takes it.


Bath Bombs Don’t Bluff| A friend of mine brought this beautiful gift box of soaps and bath bombs that she was shipping to a friend from Buff City Soaps, a local place in Memphis. Isn’t the gift box of this assortment beautiful? And everything smelled amazing.


A School Lunch Sanity Saver| Finally, for those of you ramping up for school next month, we’ve been making lunches at our house all summer. I have a simple one pictured, but here’s a list of a few easy ideas for toddlers listed below just to get your brain kickin’. I swear I start to blank out and go comatose when it comes to thinking up a school lunch. Sometimes I just. can’t. do. it. anymore!

Lunch Ideas: Roasted sweet potatoes, turkey pepperoni, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, elbow macaroni noodles (plain), brown rice, black beans, homemade chicken fingers (we use coconut flour and a little salt- but the one linked is a little more elaborate). You can make a lot of these ahead of time and store them in the fridge for easy access and mixing and matching (roasted potatoes and chicken nuggets go on a sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes). We use re-usable silicone cupcake liners to separate food in regular plastic containers.

Do you have any summer favorites? We’re holding on to summer tight; it’ll be gone before long. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Career & Resources, Family, Health

Why Limit Happy to An Hour: One fun interview

When I started this blog I was most excited about interviewing people about a range of topics from building their businesses, to tips on how they implement special things in their life that would benefit others, to general philosophical views on happiness and personal inspiration. I’m so excited, because today I’m sharing an interview with Brian, who shares his life with Tommy, and both are a couple of fun guys from North Alabama. When the blog first began, I had people that I know tell me that they would be the absolute best people to interview. They’ve been together for fifteen years and today they’re talking about a range of things, including their background, their spin on Dubsmash videos, their fun Christmas card tradition and how they stay positive.

Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Tommy and I are both from North Alabama. Tommy is from Decatur and I’m from Moulton. Although we didn’t meet until college at the University of Alabama, our parents only live about 10 minutes apart. Tommy went to a city school and I went to county high and he’s two years ahead of me in school.

Tell me something unique about your upbringing.

Hahaha, neither of us feel that we had a truly unique upbringing. Both of us had amazing childhoods! Something we have in common is that our parents are still married. Tommy’s until his mother passed away and mine are still going strong! In this day and age, that is something that not everyone can say; not that it’s a positive or negative, it’s just a fact about us. Also, we both were able to know and spend time with all four of our grandparents and those memories are such a treasure!

Tell me a little bit about your daily grind.

Our days start early and finish late! Through the week, we wake up at 5 am, go to boot camp with Erin at 4 Shore Fit, back home to shower, grab lunches, and head to work; we own a hair salon. We work from around 8 am until about 8 pm, then head home to tidy up the lunch dishes, wind down for a few minutes with conversation about our day, and hit the bed as close to 9 or 9:30 pm as possible! On the weekends, we generally host company at our home or are out of town. Our shared hobbies include travel and entertaining. On those random down-time weekends, you’ll always find us by the pool or at the beach, Kindle in hand; we’re both avid readers! We don’t even own a TV, our house is filled with music from the moment we wake up until we go to bed.

People generally see you as a positive person. Where do you think your positive attitude stems from?

Having a positive attitude is a conscious choice! We wake up every morning with a purpose to be positive and share that same feeling! We also surround ourselves with people who share our same outlook- your vibe attracts your tribe! Life happens to everyone, but our reactions are what make us who we are and Tommy and I choose to be happy, positive, and outstanding! We’re the Sunshine Boys!!

Tell me a little bit about your relationship with Tommy and how that came about.

Tommy and I met in college and had a brief fling, but after college, I went back to North Alabama and Tommy stayed in Tuscaloosa. We would bump into each other periodically over the next ten years, in the mall, at a restaurant, anytime Tommy was home for the holidays. Then, one fall, I saw his sister and brother-in-law (whom I also knew) and passed my phone number along, asking them to share it with Tommy. I was planning to be in Tuscaloosa for a wedding and thought we could meet for drinks- no big deal. Tommy called and mentioned that he’d be in near my home in Decatur before the wedding and asked if we could get together then and of course the answer was yes! It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I was working late at a salon there, Tommy was doing dinner with his family and we agreed to meet afterwards. I get to the meeting spot for dinner and grabbed a table for four (Tommy said that his sister and brother-in-law wanted to come along). The two of them arrived just after I did, then another guy and his wife come in a pull up a table to join us- which turned out to be Tommy’s brother and his wife- then a cute blond curly hair gal comes in a sits down with us (Tommy’s sister from Memphis)- and finally, Tommy showed up, apologetic with good-natured laughter. HIS WHOLE FAMILY IS CHAPERONING OUR FIRST OFFICIAL DATE! But it all turned out as it should and that evening is our anniversary; we haven’t been apart since and we’re going strong 15 years later!

How do you and Tommy hold each other accountable for taking on a more positive spin for life?

We hold each other accountable through conversation and commitment, especially since we don’t have the distraction of TV. We do find that it allows us more face-to-face chat time and those moments and conversations are when we reaffirm our desire to be beacons of light and hope and kindness to everyone we encounter! Each weekend, we do long walks around our neighborhood or at the beach and just chat about the world and everything in it. Sometimes our conversations are light and sometimes we solve all the problems of the world; we can be very philosophical!

I understand you have a ritual for drafting up your Christmas cards each year. Can you tell me a little bit about that ritual?

Christmas cards are a big deal to Tommy! It’s something he looks forward to doing every year! We also work hard to be inclusive of all of our friend; we send Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards, Kwanzaa cards, Solstice cards, and Thinking of You cards. Receiving a card that lets others know we appreciate how a person celebrates the holiday season is exactly what is special about that time of year! We start writing the cards in August, collecting updated addresses, and sorting our list. This all happens on the beach or by the pool and some people have even commented about finding sand in their card! And to commemorate the season, we HAVE to sip on Poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice) while all of this is happening!

You have a reputation for your humor. Tell me about your dubsmash videos and other things you do to keep things light and upbeat.

Our Dubsmash videos are a highlight of our life together! (PS- the Elvis version was linked for Memphis followers but follow their account for more videos). Laughter together and my persistence for prefect videos makes our dubs shine. We share the spotlight, sometimes the background dance moves can overshadow the lead performer! We take requests and if we go too long without posting a Dubsmash, friends always comment on how these funny snippets of our life are missed. We have been told that we make people’s days and how often they share them with others. We’ve done them by the pool, on vacation, in the car, on a walk, with friends- basically everywhere!! That app is endless hours of fun and excitement! We will think of a singer or a band and just have a weekend of dubbing with them.

Are you intentional about your interactions with others? Do you have a philosophy on the mark you hope to leave on others?

I can’t say that we actually and intentionally deliver happiness on others, we just simply try to share in our own passion for life and living each moment to the fullest. We saw a cocktail napkin once that said “Why Limit Happy To An Hour?!?” and took it to heart!

Any favorite shows, podcasts, books or music that you’d like to share?

As I mentioned earlier, at home our music choice is generally background, upbeat sound, but when we run our 5Ks, we have definite anthems we like to pace ourselves with. Working in a salon, our days are filled with conversation and pop hits so at home it’s a bit more subdued. As far as books go, we love to read for escapism and pleasure. Everyday life is real enough, when reading we look for adventure and get-aways. We love books that invoke emotion within us- laughter, tears, joy, peace- emotions are a gift, and we like to show and share ours freely!! There is a fabulous book by Giovani Livera called ‘Live a Thousand Years: Have the Time of Your Life’– we’ve both read it and do try to stay on point with the message of the book. It’s all about moments and experiences. We also share the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman with friends and clients often. It’s about how we each share and receive love, and how we aren’t all the same, but when we know another person’s love language it makes the communication so much more fulfilling!

Anything else to share?

We are currently working on being present in the moment, whether it be by ourselves, with just each other, with a group of people, or one-on-one with someone else, just focusing on that moment and the task or activity at hand. People truly appreciate conversations where you actually look them in the eye, don’t think ahead on the conversation, smile, and give them your full attention. When alone, we try to keep our mind focused on what we are doing at that particular time and enjoying the experience of it. For example, gardening is so much more fun when you put your full mind, body, and soul into what you’re planting. I guess you could call it mindfulness- that’s our new focus!

Career & Resources, Family, Health

Friday Favorites {7.14.17}

Hey it’s Friday! As my son would say, only one more day until we get to “just hang-out”. As working parents we sure cherish weekend family “hang-out” time with our kids.

This past week was my first week back to work after a long stay-cation and I’m hanging by a thread. I’m so thankful I’ll get to charge my batteries soon!

As for fun Friday favorites, I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways on how we recharge.

1.Coffee helps you live longer!

It’s no secret on this site that I love, love coffee. If you love coffee too then you’ll appreciate this new announcement that talks about the new-found benefits to drinking coffee. Coffee is my first line of defense for a mid-week recharge! In fact, our office carries the local brand Ugly Mug  (pictured below) which most of our office is extremely happy about. PS: If you live in Memphis, the I Love Memphis Instagram account is capturing Memphian’s favorite coffee spots.

 

2. This Book

I started reading this book this week and it has been captivating so far. It gets to the point immediately, doesn’t drag on setting up the opening scene and has me wanting to flip to the end to see what happens (no one else does that?) It’s definitely a great read for escaping a busy week.

3. This article

I am doing research for a project a work regarding mentoring and I came across this article. Listen, if you’re not in business that doesn’t mean you don’t need to rely on people to mentor you for guidance and insight. This article reviews ideas on what to talk about with a mentor (which can sometimes be awkward); I found it to be so refreshing. It actually got me excited about my next mentor conversation.

4. This podcast

This podcast was actually a recorded public speaking event for Jen Hatmaker. If you listen, keep that in mind that it was recorded at a conference and she does refer to a few things they put on screen that you’re obviously not going to be able to see on the podcast. However all that aside, I just loved the message, how she tied her knowledge and conclusion together, and I always love the personal insertion she incorporates in her speeches of her everyday family life. It is a Christian message and basically indicates the importance of being a faith mentor.

5. We’re gardening!

Well sort of. We bought plants at Lowe’s and we put them in pots with dirt. Every night my son is watering them. This is a huge step for us because I basically kill every living plant. Check out these plant boxes. Aren’t they inspiring? If we get serious we may upgrade to a more elaborate set-up. For now, we’re sitting on our porch, eating ice cream after dinner and watering our plants to help us recharge. I also found the pretty outdoor pillow pictured below at Lowes, because after all this gardening I need a chair with a pillow to relax in!

 

PS: This random picture just makes me happy! A petting zoo came to the kid’s school and my daughter ran right up to the Llama and gave him a big fat hug while screaming Llama Llama! She knows the animal from this book.

What are your Friday favorites? I’d love to hear. This weekend we don’t have much planned other than pool-time and family time. I also get to head to Dinner Club! Last weekend was pretty full so we’re looking forward to low-key plans. Stay tuned for a fun interview I’ll be posting this Saturday. Happy weekend.

 

Family, Health

Life Lately {7.5.17}

Well the 4th of July is over, so naturally we should all skip to Halloween because summer is over and fall is the next best thing! Kidding. Except not according to Hobby Lobby. I went in the store for 4th of July decorations for our wagon and found pumpkins.

I’m off this week and I’m so excited to be doing fun stuff like: cleaning out closets, washing moldy bath toys and painting things. I promise we’re doing actual fun things here at our house if those things don’t excite you!

First, we had a fun video shoot last week at work. Each year awards are rewarded to employees throughout my work organization, which all happens through a nomination process, and these awards are usually a secret until the winners are announced. Before each VP gets up to present the awards for their work group, a short video skit is shown to introduce each Of their teams. This year I dressed up for our team’s video; the theme is Super Heroes. The skit usually makes fun of something work related, features people that report to that work group, and in past years these skits have even imitated various SNL skits. I think I am some sort of underwater dish queen here…

We committed to spending every weekend day possible at the pool and the weather cooperated. This one right here is a mess!

On Monday we did something we have never done… we sent our kids to school and took the day off to accomplish some things around our house.

Both kids had class parties for the upcoming 4th holiday so it worked out. We stopped to buy yummy cupcakes prior to drop off. It was the perfect day for this because it was rainy and the weather was horrible; it wouldn’t have been much fun for the kids to stay home with us.

After drop off I headed to meet my husband for coffee at Café Eclectic, except when we got there we decided to have breakfast too. I had the crème brulee coffee and the bacon and egg quesadilla and my husband had some sort of breakfast sandwich and we had the perfect little breakfast nook looking out at the rain. After that short lived relaxing moment we left to put in a hard day’s work at our house.

I am currently working through a mile-long home to-do list. Monday’s list included:

Washing all of the bath toys… This mom did a whole post on how to clean your kids bath toys and I can’t stop thinking about it!

Re-purposing a chandelier… I also found this one that is similar and would be fun to paint. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up of the finished product! This one was in our house hanging in the dining room. We replaced it with something more modern in that spot and will be putting this up in our guest bedroom.

Finally, Monday consisted of getting back on track with my workouts. This one is from fitnessblender.com.

That night we picked up the kids and headed downtown where we had dinner and rode one of the horse carriages together although our picture is a bit dark!

Tuesday it was time to celebrate our country. I talked about our fun neighborhood parade in one of my posts. This year it poured rain on the entire neighborhood right before the parade was scheduled to start, but cleared up enough for us to walk the parade route in our decorated wagon. The kids also got to play in the water from the fire truck, an annual tradition. This parade has been going strong for 68 years!

I got my husband his fun shirt a while back and he broke it out of the closet for the 4th– it’s the perfect shirt for Independence Day! Here are some other fun ones showcasing this favorite movie of ours.

Squints Shirt

You Play Ball Like a Girl!

Legends Never Die

Also, I had to stop and appreciate this Yard we saw on the parade route! I love it!

We closed out the 4th by putting together this huge puzzle while my husband indulged in the movie The Sandlot.

We never made it to fireworks because of the heavy rain and well, toddlers who head for bed before 9 pm.

I hope you had a fun long weekend. If you’re back at work, just remember, it’s a short week!

Don’t forget to enter the contest if you would like to try to win these two books and a $10 Starbucks gift card! Just follow me on Instagram or Facebook to find out more about how to enter.

 

 

 

Health

Health Check: How I Survived a Rare Medical Diagnosis

This month is Myasthenia Gravis month. I am sure you are thinking: WHAT IS THAT???

And this is why they need an awareness month…

In 1997 I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. I was 17, ran high school track and field and participated on a cheer-leading squad, but physically things were not going well for me. My legs would collapse when I ran, I couldn’t clap my hands together correctly, I had trouble with my speech, an extremely hard time swallowing food, and I had some serious facial indicators such as droopy eyes and trouble smiling.

This is all to tell you that even with these symptoms I doubted whether there was something wrong with me. I thought I was tired or stressed. I thought maybe I was out of shape. It was extremely frustrating to read aloud in class, not being able to perform at sports practices, and to have licensed health care providers tell me that absolutely NOTHING was wrong with me.

During this very despairing time, a significant event occurred. I had head shots taken for an organization I was a part of. The proofs that the photographer showed me had a full collage of a my facial expressions and there was no denying something was incredibly wrong. I was a teenager and I was embarrassed, but now that I look back I’m so thankful to have had that realization that something was truly wrong and I needed to seek help.

So what was happening? Myasthenia Gravis is often called the silent disease. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says this about Myasthenia Gravis:

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs. The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, means “grave, or serious, muscle weakness.”

The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that worsens after periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are often (but not always) involved in the disorder.  The muscles that control breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected.

Only 20 out of 100,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with MG, although the disease is extremely under-diagnosed. I had the benefit of an early diagnoses, thanks to my relentless father, and a surgical procedure which has significantly improved my quality of life. I am blessed to be in remission from this disease and I had the most incredible Neurologist and surgeon team at USC Children’s Hospital that I will forever be indebted to. I have been considered high risk for both of my pregnancies and I do have to try to maintain my stress levels, but otherwise I’m lucky to be a surviving without any required medication.

Paying attention to your health and any alarming health indicators is incredibly important. Here are some health considerations to ponder.

  1. Make sure to have an annual physical. Sometimes symptoms that are easily ignored like being tired or unexplained weight gain can actually be attributed to something medical (such as anemia or thyroid activity). Most health insurances cover one per year at 100%.
  2. If you have a nagging and annoying symptom that will not go away, don’t ignore it. Go to a doctor. If that doctor passes you off, go to another doctor and keep on until you find someone that will listen to your story with consideration and concern.
  3. Be cautious about medication. I’m not saying to avoid medication. What I am saying is that sometimes medication can cause additional lasting symptoms so be sure to be your own healthcare advocate. Ask questions and positively challenge health care providers so that you understand all the treatment paths available, any side effects and long term plans when it comes to prescriptions to medications. (In my case, my first doctor recommended steroids, and my second doctor recommended surgery. When I went the surgery route I was able to avoid the steroids.)
  4. If you are diagnosed with something serious over the course of your lifetime, seek out others that are experiencing or have experienced something similar.
  5. What you put in your body impacts how you feel. Be kind to your body, treat it like a temple. Eating well, taking vitamins, allowing yourself enough rest, exercise, all these things are important for your daily performance as a human being on this earth. How you feel impacts your attitude, your energy, your productivity and your relationships.

If you have been diagnosed with MG I’d love to hear from you. Be sure to reach out through the contact section of this site.

Food & Wine, Health

8th Annual Girls Weekend

A few weekends ago I spent time with some of my long-time girlfriends, some of whom I’ve know for over thirty years.  We started these trips eight years ago, rotating the hosting responsibility each year; we have now all had an opportunity to host a trip!

The idea started with an article I read and we gleaned from it, coming up with our own version of what our trips should look like. There are eight of us and on these trips we have shared stories, our favorite products, how we stay healthy, what our families are up to, how to make friends in a new city, and how we juggle everyday challenges (like meal planning, cooking, and the removal of popcorn at certain Targets). These girls have answered all my crazy questions about pregnancy, what to buy for my babies and what to wear home from the hospital after delivery (really I had no idea!) We gather insight and tips on hard problems and aging ailments. Over these eight years we have trekked to the following cities:

Charlotte

Miami

Atlanta

Texas

Jacksonville

New Orleans

Tallahassee

Nashville

Our itinerary varies, but most trips include a visit to a spa (with the exception of some of  the busy cities we have been to) and a grocery visit where we all pick out our favorite items to share with each other. We try restaurants, we’ve spent the day at the pool in a couple of cities,  one year we all did a beach body work out video together, and this last year we rented city bikes.

This annual trip allows us to sleep in, take a break from our every day routines and reset ourselves. Here are a few pictures from our trips over the years if you’d like to see.

 How do you celebrate life with friends? 

Be sure to check out the Instagram account where people across the country are sharing a Day in their Life. Thanks to Kenny and Mary Lou who showed us what a typical day looks like for them. Sara will be sharing tomorrow!