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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!

Health

Running Funk: 5 Ways to Dash Out the Door

Some days when I go running I am like- YES- Let’s Do this!

And other days I couldn’t procrastinate more.

Here are 5 ways that I trick my mind, get going and motivate myself to run on the days that I’m not feeling it.


  1. Do it early in the day.

    Onset hunger and cocktail hour are always fierce competitors to running. I try to get out before noon. Early am is ideal, but if you are not a morning person, consider an early lunch workout.

  2. Schedule it.

    When it’s on the calendar on my phone, and I tell my family to schedule around me, I have a hard time backing out. 

  3. Talk myself into one mile.

    The first mile is usually the worst. If you can talk yourself into starting and completing the first mile, usually getting to mile two, and three and those miles after seem a whole lot easier.

  4. Run a slower pace.

    Sometimes running two days in a row is hard when you’re on day two and tired from day one. Allow yourself a slower pace for the first mile. By the time you get warmed up you’ll probably be able to pull faster miles later in your run. Plus, interval running is all the rage for calorie burning. Stepping it up every other mile can do wonders for weight loss.

  5. Listen to Music. 

    Start listening to music when you’re getting ready for your run. Putting on running shoes to great music pumps me up for a fun three-mile-journey.


Those are my quick and simple ways to get out the door for a run.

Do you have any tips for getting in a good workout when the struggle is real?

Career & Resources, Health

The Best Salsa Dancers Wear White Pointy Shoes

Once upon a time I went to a restaurant called Bongos, owned by Gloria Estefan, and I fell in love with Salsa dancing. It’s a Cuban restaurant, and in the center is a very large dance floor where you can find, on occasion, very experienced Salsa dancers, of all ages, showcasing their talent right there while you munch on chips and dip. The thing about Salsa is that draws you in with this whisper of hope that makes you believe that if you had just the right amount of lessons that you could competitively hold your own on an episode of Dancing with the Stars (says the very hopeful and inspired two-left feet individual).

Salsa Lessons, Level 1

I eventually stumbled upon Yuca, a restaurant in South Beach that had early evening lessons organized by Salsa Fever Dance School, and a post-lesson dancing forum. The school taught Cuban Rueda style salsa, which is a choreographed, circle, group approach to the dance where you switch partners (often and quickly) and a lead quickly belts out the next move over music. The move names are in Spanish, and this fun fact, paired with my previous dancing history, lead to one big social experiment for me. Thankfully, when I casually mentioned that I was going to be taking Salsa lessons to my Latin America and Caribbean- blooded co-workers, about five of them exclaimed, “we are coming with you”. I took this to be more of a demand than a request. And so, we all headed to South Beach’s Lincoln Road every Friday for liquid courage and lessons. Our weekly routine consisted of practicing our moves during breaks in the office each week, while the rest of our co-workers observed and critiqued, intrigued and entertained by our newfound hobby.

Yuca Lounge, South Beach

I bought salsa shoes, struggled through steps, attempted to learn Spanish, researched the history and types of Salsa, and I squashed a whole lot of feet. Here’s the thing about immersing yourself in someone else’s culture: It has this tendency to sneak into your being slow and steady, and all at once it’s overcome you as if you were part of it all along. Through my struggle to keep up, I had a heightened awareness of how unique and intriguing the whole experience was, and at times I would stop in awe that I was even a part of it.

Graceful, Pointy, White Shoes

When arrived at my first class and I snubbed my nose at the white shoes of some of the male salsa dancers. I gawked at the unfashionable, pointy, glaringly awful white shoes. But guess what? These shoes were the key to picking out the best dance partners; the ones that could carry you along and promised not to step on your feet. I learned to shut up about the shoes and pay attention to the presence of an individual and their interaction with others. I learned to appreciate the mere grace that a partner would provide me, after I ungracefully stomped on their feet over the next several hours. That grace transpired through the flash of a smile, and the guidance to the spot on the floor where I was actually supposed to be, selflessly making me look seemingly flawless.

Me in an awkward dip with an instructor who wore white shoes

The men with the white shoes were also some of the older gentlemen that would arrive during the open dance portion of the evening. They could very well be in their 80’s, on their arm toting a matching 80-something Cuban bride. I will tell you, without exaggeration, that I would never in my life dance anywhere in close proximity to that couple because they were wining the Yuca Dancing with the Stars competition. I, however, was was shamefully scurrying to the deepest, darkest corner to hide. Wasn’t it past their bedtime?!? THEY WEREN’T AGING! They were showing up every single person on the floor and I was limping away with blisters, fifty years younger. This is when I decided that I wanted to be Latin (I joke, I joke- no really I wished that a Latin family would adopt me nearly an entire year).

Salsa Level 1, the basics

When Salsa Steps Inspires Confidence

It is a special thing to learn a culture in an environment where people give you grace. When I was completely butchering their language and stomping on their feet,  these people extended their hands and gently took me aside to teach me the way and revealed to me that attitude was the most important part. Forgetting my self-consciousness and opening my eyes to the celebration of life was what Salsa, my instructors, and my co-workers refined in me. These dancers taught me that it wasn’t about the age or the shoes, it was about self-assurance and practice,  commitment to learning the dance and showing up again and again after feeling like the worst dancer in the room. This experience was about setting heights on dancing into my 80’s, well after eleven PM, with unmatched poise and a passion for living la vida loca, “the crazy life”.

 

Part of my confidence came from Salsa lessons! What scary and daring situations have you tried that has built you up?

 

Health

How to Skip the Tanning Bed this Spring

When I lived in South Florida I mentioned something about hitting tanning bed and my local friends turned to shame me with their wide-eyed, aghast expressions. “You still go to the tanning bed? Do you know how bad that is for you?” I had been going since middle school (hello, this is the standard for preparing for a southern prom) and it was always a great way to get my harsh-shade-of-white-complexion ready for summer. I had an addiction to an easy transition into beach season. When you live in Miami, beach season runs year-round and it did seem silly to be tanning when I could be laying by the pool year-round. So my tanning bed visits ended and my time outdoors increased as my activity level increased. I was always outside walking, biking and running. Very soon I noticed ugly sun spots appeared, skin discoloration formed, and my 15-block transitioned to 50-block.

Having a slightly darker complexion does have perks such as the seeming illusion of a brightened demeanor, ability to hide imperfections and magician’s trick for slimming a person’s physique. Here are my tips for leaning into spring without jumping in the tanning bed.

 


Lotion

Self-tanning lotion is probably the most common way to avoid direct sunlight and upgrade your color, but there are new brands out there that are worth exploring. Jergens is probably the most common and accessible, but there’s still time to purchase two or three brands and try them out this spring to see which one works for you. A lot of companies are also making an easy-to-apply foam.

Wipes

Tanning wipes are great for brightening up your face, covering an entire area, or even filling in what lotion didn’t cover. It’s a relatively inexpensive and quick way to get the cancer-free glow you’re looking for.

Sunscreen

Lower SPF can still get you in the game at a slower pace than a quick burn. I once went to a free dermatologist screening and the doctor actually recommended that I use this SPF on my face year-round. It doesn’t have that sticky sunscreen feel and is great under make-up. I STILL get a tan with 50-block on my face and skin. If you’re looking for a little vitamin D, just sit out in the sun for 15 minutes or less and practice a delayed sunscreen application.

Spray Tan

Spray tanning has come a long way since the Friend’s show tanning debacle episode where Ross just can’t get on point with the seemingly difficult instructions from the employee working the machine. One tanning session can last up to two weeks and most tanning bed facilities also offer spray tanning packages.

One Christmas my sister received a spray tan gun. She has had spray-tan-parties and she has even sprayed a group of prom-goers. We used to visit a stay-at-home mom who had her own gun and charged people stand in her pop-up tent pitched in her home office while she sprayed away.

Embrace Your Lighter Side

I have a few friends with light eyes and dark hair with naturally pale skin. It gives me inspiration for being different in an age of tanning beauties, leaving my skin tone a bit lighter. Plus, lightening your hair doesn’t cause cancer and it still provides a similar glow. Be ever so kind to your skin.

 

Are you still hitting the tanning bed? What do you do to prepare for summer?