Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Please Will You Vote?!

I am a Monkey Do Project Blogger Ambassador, that means that I am trying to help them get word out about a very special organization that is helping those in need in the Appalachian area.  They help local food banks, provide tennis shoes for kids who need them in order to go to summer camp, fill back-to-school backpacks for the kids in need for the new school year, help distribute blankets for families and homeless that need them and so much more.

The help they are providing to those in need is profound but they can't do it alone.  They rely on donations from people who are willing to give.

There is a chance for the Monkey Do Project to get a great $25,000.00 grant from the FedEx Small Business Grant Giveaway. All you have to do is go and vote, it is such an easy process. You don't need to enter any personal information, just click a button and you have voted.  You can vote every single day until February 23rd.  We are asking everyone to help spread the word and get the Monkey Do Project as many votes so that they can win the grant.

Please find it in your heart to share this information, post it on Facebook, tweet it, pin it, etc.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dreaming of a Getaway

I swear that every winter I start dreaming of where I want to go or what I want to do in the coming summer months.  I guess it is because I am not a fan of winter at all. Sure I think the snow is pretty when it is sticking to the trees and it looks so serene but then the novelty wears off the instant I walk outside. 

I hate being all bundled up and feeling like I can't even move my arms.  I much more prefer to be free to move wearing a tank top and shorts and being barefoot! Summer is my time.  I enjoy the sunshine, the heat and the long days and evenings before the sun goes down...when you smell people grilling and hear the crickets chirping.

Oh, wow, getting off track there.....

Anyway, I am starting to think of things that I want to do, places to go.  We plan on doing some small trips for camping or just a weekend away with the kids.  However, we have a big 15th wedding anniversary coming up and I'd like to do a bit more with Chuck to celebrate.  We have tossed ideas around like NYC, Niagara Falls, Ocean City, Atlantic City, etc.  I am starting to wonder why we can't make it even bigger and maybe fly down to Florida for a few days.  I mean you only celebrate this milestone once, right?! If I can find an inexpensive place to stay.

I have done a few searches and did find a few things that might work.  We figured that if we were going away, we'd rather go somewhere nice and near a beach so I am thinking I want to go south somewhere just for a long weekend, maybe a Thursday through Sunday or Monday. 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Are You Aiming High in 2014?

If you are a member of the US Road Running group, you probably already know about the Aim High Program.

If you haven't heard about it and you have a goal in mind for how many miles you plan to run in 2014, you should definitely check out this program where you can earn a medal noting how many miles you ran.  As the number increases, you will rank higher!

The numbers range from 50 miles to 1000 miles!  Go ahead and check out US Road Running for all the details and get signed up!

I set my goal to be 500 miles this year and if I reach that, I will be ranked as a First Lieutenant!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bigger Than Me

I have learned over the course of the last year of many programs out there that help families in need.  I have a very strong desire to help others and it weighs very heavily on  my heart that I cannot do more to help others.  Then, I begin to wonder why I can't.  Personally, we just don't have much to give in the way of monetary donations but we do regularly give to those big yellow or red boxes, as much as we can so that the clothes and shoes we have outgrown or don't need, can be used by others that need it.  We currently have 6 garbage bags in the living room to give away.

I am trying to come up with an idea of something that I can do to help others in a big way.  My current thought is to do a donation drive in the summer for school supplies so that we can give to a local organization that helps families with children in need that cannot afford school supplies.  I am going to commit to doing this and hoping that I can give to as many families as possible. I need to contact the organization to see what the greatest need is and to get an estimated number of the families that they serve for this need.

School supplies can be purchased for low costs and can be bought at any time throughout the year so I will probably try to start collecting in the early summer so that by the fall, I will have more supplies. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Making #OneChange with Vega One!

I am a habitual breakfast skipper.  I usually either don't have time or I'm just not hungry when I do have time. I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I need a better solution to what I'm currently doing, which is skipping that meal.

Then, I found Vega One! With Vega One, I am able to make a nutritional shake that I can take with me and drink on my way to work.  No mess, no prep needed.  I just put a pack in a cup, add water and shake. Done! I am fond of the French Vanilla flavor because it is good and smooth.  I can drink my breakfast and know that I am getting nutrients and protein to last me hours throughout the day.  This is #OneChange that I can make to be sure that I am staying healthy and getting everything I need out of a quick and easy breakfast shake.

Here are some pictures of Vega One as I am making #OneChange to get the nutrition I need on the go.

I used one packet of the Vega One Nutritional Shake mix, one cup of water and I added a half cup of blueberries to add some extra flavor.  Although, the Vega One mix is French Vanilla flavored so it is good all on its own!

You can find Vega One in quite a few places online, here is a listing of their social media homes:

Twitter: @VegaTeam
Instagram: @vega_team

So go and head over to their social media sites and their website to check them out and see how Vega One can help you make #OneChange!

Disclaimer: I received Vega One product in exchange for helping them get the word out about their products.  I was not monetarily compensated and all opinions are my own.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Just Another Day

That is always my response when my birthday comes up and people ask me what I am doing for my birthday.  We usually don't do anything for my birthday because it is usually a tough time of the year.  We just got done with the holidays and the chaos of all of that.  Money is usually tight and so doing anything special takes away from bills or gas money.

This year, undoubtedly, I will be asked what I want to do for my birthday and you know what? I sort of want to do something special. I would love to get all dolled up and head out for lunch or dinner and have a special meal with my special loves.  I would love to go catch a movie or stroll around the mall.  Heck, I'd even love to go for a road trip for the day just driving around nowhere in particular.  I just want to be with my loves and actually make it a special day.

In past years, I have said no to doing anything because I didn't want to make a fuss, I would clean the house, do laundry, make dinner and that was it.

Over the last year, I have realized that it's okay to spend some time and money on myself when I want.  I am worth it.  We can't afford anything outrageous or I would get the coat I've been wanting but that is too much money right now.

I try to make everyone in my house feel special on their birthday so why not do that for mine, right?! I haven't thought too much on lunch or dinner.  I have a few ideas but nothing solid.  I don't even know which movie I would want to go see. I am grateful for everything so even if we do end up staying home and relaxing, I will be happy.  I can cook my own favorite meal and we can rent a movie.  As long as I am with my loves, I am happy.

I just don't want it to be just another day.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Our Place in Friendships, Relationships and Life

An online friend mentioned something on Twitter that reminded me of a hard lesson that I learned when I had kids.  Life changes.  I mean, duh, I know that life changes and I knew that at the time when I was pregnant. Actually, I knew that before I even got pregnant and before I even got married.  I think I realized it after high school.  When your path in life is different than those of your friends, things will change.  We all say we will keep in touch, we will visit, we will get together and you do, at first.

Then, life changes.

Your friends gain new friends, they are doing different things as they figure out their place in the world and discover who they are while you are doing the same. I didn't go away for college.  Most of my friends did, whether it was just an hour away or several hours away. Slowly, the phone calls lessen and the letters stop coming. It isn't just a one way street either, I got caught up in my life too.

We did get together when they were home on holiday breaks and we would hang out and it was fun.  Sometimes, it was as if time never passed, there was never a distance and sometimes, I felt like the odd girl out. As they talked about college stuff, I didn't quite know what they were talking about.  I went to a small business school in the city and I commuted everyday.  I didn't live that college life, we didn't have that in common.

Then, I got pregnant.  We decided to get married.  Whoa life was changing for me very quickly.  While my friends were in college doing their thing, doing what kids do in college, I was at home at my apartment with my husband preparing for a baby.  I think I heard even less from most of my friends.  Not all of them, some still remained and I was so grateful for them.

I had a baby.  Life changed even more.

I was busy with a newborn and things were hectic.  I was suddenly a mom, handling things the best I could at 20 years old with a newborn and a husband.  It may seem so young and really, it is but looking back, I didn't feel so young. It was just how my life was.  We made it.

Fast forward a few years.  I now had two kids and I was a stay at home mom.  My friends had graduated from college and were starting their new jobs and living on their own.  Life was going on.  Again, I had a few friends that remained and we kept in contact.  I had one friend who I didn't talk to very often but when we did, it was as if we had never been apart. I still appreciate that and it is still the same way with her.

We grow up. Life changes.

I was online a lot now and I was making online friends.  There were several people that I "met" through blogging and social networks.  I remember getting my invite from my friend for this new site called Twitter and wondering what the heck it was.  I loved it because all the friends I had made were on Twitter and we could "talk" more.  That was before everyone and their mother was on Twitter. The relationships I built online with other girls was fantastic.  There are a handful of them that I would really love to meet in real life and one that I have met. She is a doll. (Hey there Melissa!)

I found that online, I had built true friendships and on some sites I was a member of a community and we had a great time getting to know one another, cheer each other on, sad when someone had bad news or heartache and feeling sheer joy when someone had good news, a baby, a wedding, a new house.  The friendships and relationships are real. They are genuine.

The friendships that have diminished in real life, the ones I grew up with, are heartbreaking.  There are days when I really wonder what happened.  Then I have to realize that this is life, this happens.  Life changes. I couldn't possibly hold on to every friendship that I had.  We change, lives change, people change.

Would I have loved to remain friends with everyone I was friends with in high school?  Absolutely.  There are some really great girls that I called family back then.  Some are still there, most aren't. It's okay. We are in a different place in life now. It doesn't make the pain of not having some of them around go away but I understand it more.

Life changes.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Run This Year

There is a group, yes another group.  I am becoming addicted to groups.  I may have to head to a groups anonymous group but then that would be counterproductive to my addiction, heh. Sorry, it's early my humor is horrible. Anyway....

There is a group, community, addiction called Run This Year.  Basically, it's for those that are running in 2014 and we create a mileage goal and log our miles and it is interesting to see just how many miles will build up over the course of each month.

I needed to set a goal and I really wasn't sure what that goal was going to be.  In 2013, I really wanted to run a total of one mile for every day of the year so 365 was my goal and I made it to 368 for the year.  So, the question was, do I keep that goal or do I up it?  I decided to up it and I made my goal for 2014 to be 500 miles.  That is pretty lofty for me because I feel like I was pretty consistent in the last year with running and I had way less than that.   I'm shooting for the moon here but I hope to be able to say that I did it.

I have said before that I like goals, it gives me a way to strive to be better than I was before and shouldn't we all strive for that, in one way or another?

I'm excited to take this challenge on and see where it takes me.  So far, I have 7.5 miles and I am running 2 tomorrow and 5 on Sunday so I will be in the double digits soon.  It takes baby steps to get to the big steps.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Organization Tips

One of my many goals for this year is to be more organized.  I have a lot of ideas and I want to start implementing them soon but I'm wondering what methods are the best.

I already have a laundry schedule which works out because it means that I do one load of laundry a day and usually, I don't have any to do on Sundays. We also have chores for the kids which takes care of kitchen and bathroom cleaning.  That all is fine and dandy, but that is only cleaning...and only some of the cleaning.

I need to organize my billing center which I would like to have places for everything and start doing online expense and income tracking.  I know, I am so far behind what everyone else does but I need to get to that point because I need a more visual version of what we are doing.  I also think this will help us save more money. Seeing what you spend on a screen in your face is much more effective than just looking at the bills and checkbook.

Paperwork.  Holy moly, we get a ton of paperwork.  With the kids schoolwork, bills, general papers, we are swamped over here.  Some days, I feel like we are floating away on the paperwork.  I have a small file box thing with file folders but somehow that system doesn't always work.  I need a central nervous system.  A place where things are organized and planned out and I am on top of everything.  I need to look into some organizers or something.

I am pretty old fashioned in that I like to have an actual paper calendar and planner.  I still write everything down because for me, I am more likely to remember something that I wrote down than what is on my Google calendar.

I have scoured Pinterest and Etsy and found some great ideas that I think I can pull off.  I just need to be more efficient in my running of the household.

Also on the list, more menu planning.  It seems that I am not the only one.  The discussions on Facebook have been going on about menu planning, doing batch meals, freezing them and doing crockpot meals.  I have begun this process and with a Facebook event my friend posted, hopefully I will get some more great recipes.  I am looking at inexpensive, easy meals that my family will love.  I have incorporated some Paleo meals into the mix and hopefully as I continue on, I will do even more of them.  There is nothing better than having crockpot meals, made from scratch to cook.  I love the crockpot.  When you are a busy family, it is a staple in the house!

Are you planning to be more organized in the new year?  What do you do already that works well for you?  I'd love to hear some ideas!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Goals for 2014

It's good to have goals, to have something to look forward to, strive for and obtain. I like to create goals and I think it makes me aware of what I am doing or not doing with myself.  I want to do better, that is the reason why I make a list each year of what I want to achieve.  Over the years, the focus of the list has changed.  As I get older, I am finding more time for myself and so I am able to make changes for me.  I think the last year was the first year that I did a lot more for me and at first, I felt guilty about it but then I realized that I am better for everyone else when I am better to myself.

So, here is my 2014 list of goals:


Anyone who knows me, knows that my family comes first, as it should. I want to spend more time as a family, the five of us.  We did more of that over the last year and we all enjoyed it.  We went on hikes, went for random road trips, went fishing, went to the lake for picnics, etc.  It is good for a family to have that time with each other without others.  We want to build a strong foundation of what family means for our kids. Our parents did it for us and we want to pass that on. So, here's some goals centered around that.
     * Go for hikes at least once a month as a family. Possibly choose a different location each time to discover new places. (weather permitting, we do live in PA)
     * Eat dinner together more.  We don't really do this too often and it's terrible.  Some of us eat at the table, some in the living room.  Usually, I am eating after everyone else because I am busy doing too much to eat when they are.
     * Do one fun outing a month.  I want to go to museums, the zoo, science center, trip around the city, etc. with the kids.  We don't get them out as much as we should.  There are so many places they have never been.
     * Take the kids for a weekend away.  We are planning on a trip to Virginia this summer for a long weekend or a week but we want to do a weekend away, maybe to an indoor water park hotel. We haven't made definite plans on when or which place yet, but we want to do it.
     * Make it to more of the kids' sporting events this spring.  The kids are both doing lacrosse and track & field and I want to be there to cheer them on and see them succeed.  I wasn't able to go to too many last year with work but I hope to this year.


This could be a blog post on its own but I am going to keep it short and sweet.

     * Save money. We plan on putting away at least $25.00 a week to build up a savings plan.  I know that doesn't seem like much but we need to do it and well, most weeks, that is all we can afford to put away.  I've read the plan that a lot of people are using online, where you save the dollar amount equal to the week of the year.  It is just easier to do a straight $25 and call it a week.  Plus, you save the same amount, if not a little bit more, than that plan.
     * Work more.  Yes, you read that right.  I plan on working more hours to make more money.  I am able to work more than I do but I haven't been doing it.  I am reducing my days at the gym so that I can work more at the rink.


I am all about improving our health this year.  I worked hard to get back into shape over the last year and I think that a ton more can be done in the way of our eating.  I am so guilty of preparing dinners out of convenience.  I am a box and bag kind of cook I'd say, at least 3-4 days a week.  Lately I have been doing better but I need to improve more.

     * Cook healthier meals that are not out of a box or bag.  Processed foods are not our friend.
     * Start incorporating the Paleo lifestyle into our meals.  I am doing research on this lifestyle and the benefits of it.  The concept is pretty simple actually and I have heard amazing things from people that live it. Words like "life changing" "never been healthier" have really appealed to me.  It's not all about losing weight for me, I want to be healthy.  I want my family to be healthy.
     * Drink more water.  The detox stage of the Paleo lifestyle (notice I am not calling it the Paleo Diet because it is a lifestyle change, not a diet) has you drinking a ton of water to flush your body and start fresh.
     * Schedule regular checkups for all of us.  I am always behind on these so I need to keep a better schedule of them.


I couldn't not include fitness into my goals because it has become such a large part of me. I have a passion for working out and seeing how strong my body is and how I can change my body.

     * Run 14 races as a part of the 14in2014 group.  These will be a mixed bag of distances and races. Some will be virtual but I'd like to do as many "real" ones as possible. I actually hope to do more than 14.
     * Run two half marathons.  I ran one last year and I will be running that same one again this year but I'd like to add one more in for this year.  If I do them far enough apart, I think I will be fine.
     * Continue to do monthly challenges for different muscle groups.  It's amazing the things we can do as we build up to them.  I find these challenges really fun and I love that my daughter is doing them with me.


So many people and organizations have been there for us over the past few years and I want to give back as much as possible.  We don't always have the resources to help but I will do what I can to help.  Even if it is just sharing on Facebook, I want to get the word out about the organizations that hold a special place in my heart.

The list is big, I know.  I can't do it all in one day that's why they are my yearly goals.  What are yours?  What are you hoping to achieve this year?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

13 in 2013 Recap

When I started out 2013, I envisioned myself getting back into shape, running more and trying to get healthier.  What I didn't anticipate was running as much as I did, making connections with fitness groups, running groups and becoming addicted to running.

I signed up for the group 13in2013 so that I could hopefully stay motivated to keep running and it worked! I ran 15 races in the year and one of them being my ultimate running goal, a half marathon!!  I often saw posts from people about their half marathons and I never thought that I would be able to do something like that.

Then, I began to wonder why I wouldn't be able to do it.  Here I am, a mom of three, 34 years old and in pretty good shape.  If I am constantly telling my kids that if they want something they have to work toward it, why in the heck shouldn't I be doing the same.  So, I started training.  At this point, I had already had at least 12 races under my belt.  A goal that I wasn't even sure I could achieve.  I mean, I had always wanted to be a runner, I enjoyed being out on the road, by myself listening to my thoughts and clearing my head.

The decision to join the group was probably the best decision I had made in a long time because it kept me focused, it made me realize that I am stronger than I thought and that I can still do things for myself and create goals to push myself.

I am already signed up for 14in2014.  I plan on acheiving that goal and then some.  I hope to run two half marathons this year.  I hope that I can continue to run and keep going when things get tough.  It has been great for my anxiety, my stress and my overall health.