Blogger Recognition Award 2017

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The Blogger Recognition Award

I am so honored to have been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by www.timeswithkai.com, a self-proclaimed “Pineapple Mom.” On her blog you will find things to help you along your motherhood journey. From breastfeeding diaries to healthy toddler snacks. If you are not following her, check her page out, you will not regret it.

What is the Blogger Recognition Award?

The Blogger Recognition Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers recognizing the hard work and dedication it takes to keep their blog current.

Why I started blogging…

Creating pieces through writing has always been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember. As a child, I used to write short stories as well as poetry as a way to channel my energy. As I went through middle and high school, I was not writing as often due to my busy schedule. Fast forward to summer 2016. I decided to document our life journey on a blog as a way to reflect back upon in years to come. I wrote one post and I talked myself out of continuing with the blog. I was so nervous of how people would perceive me as well as what they would think about me and why I was “telling all my business to the world” as I have currently been asked. In 2017, I am not sure if it was a combination of age and wisdom, but I stopped caring what others thought and decided to pursue my passion. I would love to continue writing on this platform but I would also like to retire from teaching and get paid for writing for a magazine or company.

Advice for new bloggers

Set a schedule…

This is something that is imperative for the growth of your blog. Staying organized through a planner is the way I keep track of upcoming blog posts as well as when they will go live.

Don’t Give Up

Blogging is not easy and in the beginning, it is hard to be honest. Do not allow others to talk you out of it and most importantly, don’t talk yourself out of blogging. If you got into blogging to become famous or make money, this may not be for you. In the beginning there is a lot of hard work put into building your audience and at times it seems as though you have no audience. For me, the way I knew blogging was for me is because regardless if no one reads my blog, I love it and it is a fun outlet for me.

My nominations

You should definitely check out the following bloggers…

Disclaimer…

I was not able to gather a group of 15 “new” bloggers. Most of the bloggers I know are established bloggers who have larger audiences.

www.sincerelyonyi.com

http://www.myhappylifeproject.com

www.ora-adzlin.blogspot.com

www.thethirdwhitehouse.com

www.thismomlifebyrosie.com

http://www.thebeekeeper.blog

www.katlynchledder.com

Rules for the bloggers nominated

Write a post to showcase your award.

Give a shout out to the blogger who nominated you. Don’t forget to link their blog.

Share a brief story about how you started your blog.

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

Nominate 15 other bloggers.

Comment on each of the 15 blogs letting them know that you’ve nominated them.

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Something New

a year from now
So true.

November 5th was a day that changed my life in many ways. At around 9:15am, I received a call from my mom telling me that my dad had been rushed to the hospital from church and he had possibly had a stroke. I quickly threw my clothes on and got to the hospital as quick as I could. When I arrived, my dad was in and out of consciousness and I had a hard time processing everything that was going on.

A few moments had passed and the surgeon came in to tell us he in fact DID suffer a stroke and he had a massive blood clot on his brain that they would be monitoring for the next few hours.

Fast forward to the following day while at cheer with Jadyn, my mom called again to tell me that they were going to do emergency surgery to remove the clot. I ran into Jadyn’s cheer practice, ripped her out and burned rubber all the way home. I dropped her off home and went to the hospital to be with my mom, my aunt and one of my mom’s best friend Shirley who is more than a friend. She became family when I was a little girl.

Dad’s surgery went well and his surgeon said the clot was sitting right on the top where he did not have to drill to remove it. Turns out, the surgery was life or death. If we would have decided to opt out, he could have potentially died.

Halloween 2017
hand holding
A living miracle.

After surgery, my dad was placed on a ventilator and did not look like himself. The underlying factor to my dad’s stroke was high blood pressure. When I found that out, I KNEW it was time to make a change…

In every situation that has occurred in my life, I try to learn something from it. The most important lesson I learned in this situation is that I am in dire need of a lifestyle change.

Back in 2015, I was introduced to the Beachbody 21 Day Fix Program and had great results. I learned to make good food choices and began eating exactly what I needed based on my body. I lost 11 pounds and several inches and overall felt better about myself. As time went on, I allowed life to get in the way and I started skipping workouts and I was not properly meal planning which caused me to have “cheat meals” on a consistent basis.

Fast forward to 2016… I had a physical through my PCP as well as an allergy test. When I got my results back, I was shocked. I was pre-diabetic and apparently allergic to all of my favorite things… peanuts, the “whole egg,” crab, shrimp, walnuts, bananas blah, blah, blah. What you don’t realize is, these are things I eat regularly.

I immediately called my younger brother Chris who owns “Berry Natural” a natural juice shop along with his wife Ashli in Northwest Arkansas. Anytime I have nutrition/diet question, I contact him and he tells me what I should do.

https://www.facebook.com/berrynatural/

For the past few years, his response to any and all of my questions has always been, “Whole30,” “Whole30,” “Whole30.” Major eye roll. Surely this “Whole30” could not be the resolution to ALL of my health concerns, right? I would research it every time he told me to start it and I ended up talking myself out of it each time. It was too strict for me and how could I ever survive on such a strict meal plan???

The Whole30 is a program that resets your health and takes away all good things, I mean all sugars and processed food. If you have any food sensitivities like I do or health ailments, this program would be great for you to try.

farmers market run
A few things I picked up from the farmer’s market to get me started with the Whole30.

In the past, there never was a perfect time for me to start. There was always a birthday, holiday or celebration coming up and I would put it off until a better time. I am not one to wait around for my health to take a turn for the worse so I have decided to jump right in and start officially the day after Thanksgiving.

I plan to incorporate my Beachbody workouts into the Whole30 and track my progress in my fitness extension pack as well as my meal plans here on the blog. My brother said if they are able to talk his father in law into doing the Whole30, they will all join me along this journey. To be honest, it is a little nerve wrecking to think about all my favorite foods being thrown out the window but the fact that I will be overall healthy and have resolutions to some of my gut issues makes it all worth it.

planner with fitness

planner close up

My father is on the mend and will be transferring to a rehab facility where they will work with him aggressively through physical therapy as well as speech therapy. When he finally makes it home, I will force him into the Whole30 along with my mom and help them with meal planning as well.

thumbs up
Thumbs up was the only way my dad was able to communicate for a few days after surgery.

Have you ever done the Whole30 before? If you have, I would love to hear about your journey… Success stories, pitfalls you ran into, or any other advice you can give me would be amazing.

Hurricane Irma

​Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. Whether you live in a hurricane zone or you are traveling to an area known to have hurricanes, you must be prepared for what can happen. When it comes to hurricanes, individuals are alerted and have the opportunity to prepare before the storm arrives as opposed to tornados. Since hurricane warnings are given, it is wise to take heed and not wait until the last minute to gather things necessary to survive in the event the hurricane comes and you are unable to leave your house.

We just experienced our first “real” hurricane. When I say real, it is because Hurricane Matthew from 2016 was our first but we didn’t have any effects. This year however, we endured the effects of Hurricane Irma. Major winds, no cell service and loss of power for long periods of time. We knew the hurricane was set to make landfall days in advance but my husband and I waited until the last minute to prepare because we both were working and taking kids to afterschool activities. With us waiting so late, we were not able to get the items we would have liked and there were slim pickings at the grocery store for non-perishable items.

Earlier in the week, Hurricane Irma was predicted to be a category 5 storm, we are thanking God that the original track the storm was on changed and we didn’t endure the devastation we were expected to. Because we live in what my husband likes to call a “forest,” we chose to stay with my parents who have a new structure that is also equipped with hurricane impact windows. The first night we were there, the power went out fairly early before it seemed the storm amped up. Around 3 am, the power was restored and we were able to sleep without sweating profusely. The next day, Sunday, the power went out at 8 am just after we made coffee and the winds were kicking up.

My parents stay on a lake and the wind was blowing the water so hard it seemed as though it was raining. We were without power all day and I was without cell service the entire weekend. Sunday was the hardest day. The kids were getting restless, and my youngest kept asking when the “tornado” was coming. They were not outwardly afraid but I know their anxiety level was on a 10 because they did not know what to expect. We were tracking the storm on hurricane apps on our phones as well as a battery operated radio which was great because we at least had access to the outside world and what was going on with the storm. That evening, we were all over the power being out and were sweating as we tried to fall asleep. As soon as I had drifted off to sleep, Jordan woke me up screaming we have power! We have power! The air kicked on, we plugged up our electronic devices that were half dead and laid back down knowing the worst of the storm had passed.


The next day, we had a hot breakfast, hot lunch and enjoyed the beauty of sunny skies. Mario and I ventured out to access the damage in our area as well as to see if it was safe to return home. There were many trees down in our area at the entrance as well as throughout our complex. When we made it upstairs, we realized the big tree that hid our balcony pretty nicely had been plucked apart and had loss many of its limbs. There were several small trees down in the playground and a large tree had fallen into our pool. We were thanking God that we did not have any loss of property or damage to our home. We took a few pictures and returned to my parent’s house to begin packing our things.

tree at gatetree uprooted

tree in pool

We made it through the storm with minimal inconvenience compared to our friends and coworkers. As of today, Tuesday, several still have no power and actually are without water while some have boil bans in their area. I am so thankful the storm was not as bad as they originally predicted because we were not as prepared as I would have liked. This experience taught me to start prepping for hurricane season far in advance. I would like to share with you some things that could help you prep for hurricane season and be sure to have all the essentials in the event a hurricane hits your city.

Prepping for hurricane season

  • Prepare a hurricane emergency kit at the beginning of hurricane season. Things you can include in the kit are…
    • Batteries for radios, flashlights as well as backup batteries for cell phones and tablets.
    • Store at least three gallons of water per person, enough to last three days.
    • Cash if banks or ATMS are shut down due to power outages.
    • Non-perishable food items for three days such as canned meats, canned fruit, peanut butter, jelly and crackers.
    • Hand operated can opener.
    • Air mattresses and pumps.
    • Flashlight
    • Battery operated radio
    • Crafts and activities to keep your children occupied.
    • Wipes
    • Whistles
    • Paper plates, cups, disposable forks and spoons
    • Paper towels
  • Fill your car up with gas in the event you have to evacuate your home as well as if gas stations are closed after the storm has passed.
  • Gather all important documents and store them in waterproof containers.
  • Create/review your evacuation plan with your family.
  • Locate the nearest shelter or pet friendly shelter if you have pets.
  • Download apps on your phone that can help you communicate if you lose cell service. There are several apps that can let people know where you are located, if you need help as well as if you are safe. The Red Cross has a Hurricane App in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as well as a shelter finder app.
  • Install hurricane impact windows if you own your property. If you are unable to install hurricane impact windows, use hurricane shutters or board up your windows with plywood that is 5/8” thick.
  • Turn your refrigerator to its coldest temperature in case you lose power and use a cooler to keep things in which will also help keep your refrigerator closed so items will stay cold inside of the refrigerator.

I hope this has helped you get an idea of how to properly prepare for a hurricane in the event you live in a hurricane zone or are vacationing in a region known to have hurricanes. If you need any other information, FEMA has a great list that includes a list of essentials to include in a basic emergency supply kit as well as additional items to consider putting in your supply kit.

If you have ever experienced a hurricane, I would love to hear about your experience. Are you the organized type to prepare at the beginning of hurricane season or are you the procrastinating type?

Hello Fall

StockSnap_YUWRU5Y6F4When I think about Fall, I reflect back to my childhood growing up in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Beautifully colored Fall leaves of orange, red, yellow and brown and the wind whipping them off the trees. During Fall, we would visit the Franklin Cider Mill http://www.franklincidermill.com/  located at 7450 Franklin Road Bloomfield Hills, MI  48301 just minutes away from my brother’s preschool, Franklin Christian Preschool. The apple orchard is where we would pick up bags of Michigan apples, apple cider and apple doughnuts. I can still remember how rustic the mill looked, how the hot doughnuts smelled and how happy it made us feel. This is the moment when I fell in love with Fall.

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Fall is my favorite season. Growing up, it made me think of new beginnings. A new school year, new clothes, new school supplies, new friends and a new teacher. The days went from being long to short packed with so many things that the day wasn’t even long enough to hold. I have two brothers, Craig who is three years older than me and Chris who is five years younger. We were all involved in extra-curricular activities however, my older brother Craig’s events dominated everyone’s schedule. Fall meant FOOTBALL. He was the quarterback at West Bloomfield High School and being a freshman there while he was a senior felt great. Game days meant hanging out with friends, cheering loudly and sipping water based hot chocolate.

For me today, Fall is a little bit different. I no longer live in Michigan so I do not get to experience four seasons the way I did growing up. I currently live in Florida where in the Fall, I can still wear sandals and dresses without tights and scarves. Due to the lack of Fall occurring on the outside, I enjoy bringing Fall to the inside of our home. I enjoy decorating our home for Fall with a Fall inspired wreath for our door, Fall leaf garlands, Fall candle scents as well as small Fall accents sprinkled throughout our home. Decorating my home gets me in the mood for the holiday season and makes me so excited thinking of the many memories we will create.

fall haul
(A few finds I plan to share in an upcoming Fall Haul video)
Things I am looking forward to this Fall include…

  • A new class! Instead of looking forward to a new teacher as I did throughout my childhood, I am thankful to have a new class this Fall. They are absolutely THE BEST CLASS I have experienced from the very beginning of the year in my 12 years of teaching. They have been easy to manage and are extremely bright so I am looking forward to a great year.
  • Visiting the pumpkin patch for a hayride with friends
  • Cooler weather to style clothes
  • Finalizing my Fall décor in our home
  • MY BIRTHDAY!!!

What are you looking forward to this Fall? Please share with me in the comments below. Do you have any memories that Fall brings each year? I would love to hear from you all! For my Michigan readers, have you ever visited the Franklin Cider Mill? What do you love most about it?

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Please check out my recent fall haul vlog. Like, share and subscribe for more! 

The Blue Whale Challenge

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I first heard about the Blue Whale Challenge a few months back after binge watching the infamous Netflix series, 13 Reasons. If you have not heard about 13 Reasons, it is a Netflix series where a girl commits suicide and leaves thirteen tapes with specific instructions on who should listen to the tapes as well as who to pass them off to next. There has been a lot of debate as to the age of viewers as well as effects of the kids who are watching it, particularly unsupervised or without any dialogue from anyone other than their friends. Blue Whale like 13 Reasons does result in suicide however, it is in a league of its own…

What is it?

Blue Whale is a dangerous personal obstacle suicide game where game players find a curator online who over 50 days assigns the player numerous self-harm challenges. The challenges begin with simple things such as watching a scary movie. The curator will then increase the challenges and have the player begin cutting, sitting on the edge of buildings and on the 50th day, commit suicide, all which is often played out on social media.

blue whale challenge tasksblue whale online

Blue Whale has been known to target preteens as well as teenagers according to the website heavy.com. It has been linked to at least 130 teen deaths across Russia with at least two teens in the United States who were believed to have committed suicide after completing the Blue Whale Challenge. Teenagers are naturally emotional and dealing with an influx of feelings and emotions but when should you take what they are saying seriously? What are the signs to look for? What can you do if you suspect your child is involved in the Blue Whale Challenge?

Signs to Look For…

  • Anger
  • Sleep Issues
  • Increased, secretive interest in the internet
  • Drawing pictures of whales

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What Can You Do?

If you have children that are in late elementary school, middle school or highschool, it is important to listen to your child even when they are not talking. Be aware of what is consuming their time.  Middle school aged children can be hard to understand because they are in a transition phase where they are fighting for their independence as well as trying to handle their thriving social life with their peers so their behavior is all over the place as they are searching to “find themselves.” They are dealing with a range of hormones and most times do not have the mental capacity to deal with the sudden changes appropriately. They are searching to be a part of something and in today’s society, the “thing” that gets the most attention is what is appealing to them. If you suspect your child is involved with the challenge, it is important to consult with your pediatrician to ensure they get the help they need. The pediatrician will know the appropriate questions to ask your child as well as if they need a referral for counseling or a full psychological evaluation.

Below are a few websites that provide great information for parents and caregivers of teens and adolescents…

The Blue Whale Challenge

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/health/blue-whale-suicide-game/index.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/blue-whale-challenge-urges-young-people-to-end-their-lives/

Teen and Adolescent Mental Health Awareness

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers

http://teenshealth.org/en/parents/emotions/

http://www.adolescenthealth.org/About-SAHM/Healthy-Student-App-Info.aspx

To Be Vegan or Not To Be Vegan, That Is The Question…

My body failed me… That is all I could think of this past Sunday afternoon as I laid across the couch in pain. A few weeks ago after watching the documentary “What the Health,” my husband and I decided we were going to go vegan. Just like that… The astonishing statistics that were spouted off by the filmmaker Kip Anderson along with the graphic pictures of pigs being poked and puss oozing out had us scared to eat anything that came from animals.chickencowpig

Effective immediately, we were “vegans.” I meal planned for the week and grocery shopped making sure to have plenty of healthy choices around the house.

I even went so far as to pack Brooklyn’s lunch for daycare and told her daycare about the change we were making so they could enforce it as well. We were doing great. No meat, no dairy, no eggs until we craved fish. Fish wasn’t bad right? They did not mention much about fish in the documentary so surely we could add fish back into the diet. So we did just that. Rather than being vegan, we became “pescatarians.” As I am writing this, I am laughing to myself. The labels is what makes me laugh because it really doesn’t matter does it?

Everything was going well until it the third week. I met with a fellow blogger at a local coffee shop and was starving. For the past three weeks, I had been prepared making sure to eat balanced meals and snacks and if I was going out, I would look at the restaurant’s menu to ensure there was something that was accommodating to my new dietary changes. My mistake this particular day was I did not plan. When I got to the coffee shop, there was not much for me to choose from. If it did not have dairy, it had large amounts of sugar and that was something else I was trying to avoid. I decided to go with a vegetarian quiche. If you did not know, there is a HUGE difference between vegetarians and vegans, Vegetarians and vegans do not eat animal flesh however, vegetarians eat dairy and other animal by products while vegans do not. With that being said, my quiche contained both milk and cheese which was something I had taken completely out of my diet. I figured it would be ok for once but boy was I wrong. By the time I made it home, my stomach was cramping and it felt as though I was going to be sick. The following day (Sunday) was much worse. I had chills and body aches as though I had the flu and could not do much more than lay across the couch for over half of the day. Mario seemed to think my problems were stemming from not eating meat and felt I needed to eat meat immediately in order to gain my strength back. I denied it until around two he asked what I wanted to eat and I begged for chicken. I know what you are thinking, she has no self-control. Well, you’re right! LOL. Totally joking. I do have self-control I  just decided to listen to my husband’s advice 😉

So to rewind to the beginning of our vegan journey, we did not think about it, we just threw ourselves into it and there really is not a right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s journey is different. Anytime you begin working out or decide to make a big change in your eating habits, it is wise to consult your physician to ensure you are making the correct decision that is suitable for you as well as create a plan that you will get the best benefits. I did not do that and many people do not.

When we made the switch, on a typical day, I would start with a serving of fruit accompanied by oatmeal for breakfast. For lunch, I had a salad or avocado toast and for dinner, I would have rice and a veggie or two with two healthy snacks in between.

Looking back, I realized I was not getting enough fiber or protein and that contributed to the weakness I was feeling. One important fact is, I have been off and on iron deficient which started when I got pregnant with my second. This means I need to take supplements or tremendously increase my intake of iron rich food. I do not like taking medicine so that option does not work great and apparently I am not able to get enough in my diet. This only escalated with my attempt at veganism.

As of Sunday, July 23rd, we are back to eating meat, at least once a day until further notice…

If you have switched your eating lifestyle to vegan or vegetarian, please comment below and share your thoughts on what worked for you. I am interested to see how others made the change. Until next time…

 

July Ft. Lauderdale Bloggers Meetup

chima drinkI am always on the hunt for cute places in the area to enjoy a romantic evening with my husband or a fun night out with my girls. On Saturday while at the July Ft. Lauderdale Bloggers Meetup, I found just the place. Chima Brazilian Steakhouse is located at 2400 E. Las Olas Blvd tucked behind large exotic trees that incase a stunning courtyard entrance. Just blocks from Ft Lauderdale beach, the restaurant makes a great backdrop for group shots as well as a nice romantic picture with your significant other.

Our meetup was held in the restaurant’s bar/lounge and Chima’s Brand Ambassador Anne Dantas greeted myself as well as the other bloggers and she was the sweetest. She gave us background information about Chima and informed us of some of the popular dishes. I told Anne that Chima had an ambiance like nothing I had experienced. She smiled and said she was glad I felt that way because the restaurant’s core purpose was to “deliver a one of a kind experience.” Before we parted ways, she recommended a Brazilian cocktail named Caipirinha (pronounced ki-pee-rinya) which is infused with lime and pure sugar cane. It was absolutely amazing!

Chima has one of the best happy hours in Ft Lauderdale. You can pop in Monday-Friday from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The happy hour offers great specials including many half priced drinks and $5 bar minis which are smaller portioned items of some of the full menu foods. One of the featured items is the “Bite Sized Appetizer Special.” The special includes any three bite sized app for $12.95.

Chima gets its name from a Brazilian drink the chimarrao which symbolizes hospitality and friendship. At Chima, the waiters who are referred to as gauchos can be found walking throughout the dining room offering various meats such as beef, fish, top sirloin, filet, sausage, chicken, pork, ribs and lamb. They offer a delicious salad bar that features one of my newfound favorites, the seafood salad which reminds me of ceviche.  As if the great atmosphere and delicious food weren’t enough, Chima also has live music. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to hear them playing because I was leaving as they were setting up.

Our July Meetup could not have been at a better location. The vibe was very laid back and we were able to mix and mingle which gave me the opportunity to socialize and network with so many new people. Barbara Chaney, our new Chapter Officer did a phenomenal job with her first “official” meetup. I am looking forward to the next one scheduled for August 5th. Until next time!

ft lauderdale boomerang

(Picture Courtesy of Evan Snow of Choose954 and ArtFTL)

july meetup invite