My Inspiration: No Kid Hungry

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INSPIRATION for me is supporting a great cause that makes a difference in the lives of others.   I believe to be inspired you must be passionate about what you do in all capacities of your life!  There are so many causes to support but I feel  the reason NO KID HUNGRY moved me to donate was because it serves children in the United States.   I also wanted to use my influence as a blogger to spread awareness so I joined their blogger program.   The money donated has such a significant impact in helping to provide meals to children in various communities.   As a single mother,  I am challenged with instilling in my children the importance of being grateful.  It is troubling to see the amount of food we waste as a family knowing other children are going without food on a daily basis.  When I researched NO KID HUNGRY I decided to donate on a periodic basis and then I was inspired to share the awareness through my blog.   Hopefully my blog can act as a platform to encourage others to donate and influence fellow bloggers to take action through the NO KID HUNGRY blogger program.  I will be the first to admit my kids take eating three meals a day plus snacks for granted.   My plan this summer is to challenge my kids to come up with a creative way to help this CAUSE!!! STAY TUNED for their ideas!!!

Please view these video to understand the PROBLEM we face wit with childhood hunger in America!

Childhood hunger affects 16 millions kids in the United States:

First take the pledge to end childhood hunger in America:

How can you help? There are a few ways to get involved!!!

You can become an advocate, volunteer, spread awareness, donate or plan a fundraiser in your area:

DIY: Daughter’s Bedroom-Ballerina Theme Room

This is a DIY with a true  purpose.   My DD has two bedrooms, her room and my room.     For some reason her preference is to sleep in my room and play in her room.   Well guess what I need my personal space back!!!!!! When she sleeps in her room I roll over in the middle of the night to find her slumbered next to me.

In celebration of the new school year, my surprise is to have her select a theme for her room from two themes either princess or ballerina.   She selected the ballerina theme which has plenty of accessories!!! Winning!!!!  Her window treatments are finished, which were  easy to make considering I just started sewing.

I went to my favorite store for home decor – Home Goods to get some inspiration!  Another stop will be IKEA for accessories and Home Depot for a dowel to install a barre.    Our favorite seamstress makes beautiful quilts and what better way to accessorize than with something that is personalized.

This will be my project for the next month so I will post with the finished project!!!

Before:

DIYBallerinaTheme

Home Goods Inspiration:

My Kid’s Chronicles: Natural Hair and Swimming

SwimNaturalHair

 

Summer means summer camp + swimming.   SWIMMING = CHLORINE.   CHLORINE can be harsh on NATURAL HAIR!! We tried a swim cap a few years ago so I know for my DD this is a NOT AND OPTION!!!!  Her main complaint was the cap was too tight and then I wondered what to do if you are wearing a protective style for swimming.   For those looking for a cap for protective styles,  I found these caps at Amazon for long hair, locs, and braids.

What are we to do with natural hair? Natural hair exposed to chlorine requires a daily routine for proper maintenance. I figured out this year since camp is 8 weeks we must have a NATURAL HAIR CARE PLAN!!!! Also protective style(2 strand twists, flat twists, bantu knots, coils, braids) help as well.

I decided to do braids for camp. As a NATURALISTA COCOAMOMMY with my COCOABABY who has oodles of thick natural hair.  I always scour the web for product suggestions and an overall plan!!!  My DD has Type 4C hair(while I have 4b), which is thick/coarse with a tightly packed curl pattern.  Here is a great guide from one of my go to sites Naturally Curly Type 4 Hair on Type 4 hair,

Here’s how we will tackle taking care of MY DD NATURAL HAIR while swimming:

I try to give my DD protective styles each month that eliminates adding unnecessary heat.   My protective styling may consist of either 2 strand twists or braids.   I decided for camp to do braids which should last for at least 2 weeks if not longer.

Day 1 AM routine before camp:

1) Spritz with water and coat with pure unrefined coconut oil (Whole Foods) and Curls Unleashed Leave-In Conditioner(Sally’s and Target).  As I have learned no oil can moisturizer the hair without water.  Water is essential for my DD’s hair for long-lasting moisture.  I squeezed a quarter size amount in my hands and rubbed throughout her braids.

After pick-up from camp I noticed her hair was not dry and brittle.   Despite the heat and humidity from the weather.   Adding the oil and conditioner really helped to coat the hair and seal in moisture.

Day 1 Evening routine during shower:

2) I had DD rinse conditioner from hair for at least 3-5 minutes and then I added clarifying conditioner to remove chlorine.  I thought the clarifying shampoo would cause too much dryness(especially if swimming each day) so I am opting to use a clarifying conditioner.  Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Conditioner (Whole Foods). Rinsed out thoroughly.

3) I added Tresemme  Naturals (Target) silicone-free conditioner for at least 10 minutes while bathing and rinsed thoroughly.  Time is limited in the evening so a 20-30 for deep conditioning is a bit of a challenge.  It is kept on her hair until shower is finished.   Deep conditioner on Friday is a great idea.

4) Before bed I applied a small amount of 100% creamy pure shea butter(Wegmans)  this can be found at most hair supply stores) to seal in the moisture.

HairandSwimmingBlogPost062215

Bedtime: Day 1 her feels soft and moisturized.

Day 3:

Day3NaturalHairSwimming

Week 1:  hair was still well moisturized.

Week 2, the braids were a bit frizzy however her hair was still moisturized.  Braids were a bit frizzy so I decided to take the braids out!!!!

Week 3, braids again.  On Friday I did a hot oil treatment with jamaican black castor oil and blended with Tresemme moisturizing conditioner with cap for at least 30minutes.  After the hair was rinsed I decided to do 2 strand twists instead of braids.

We just finished week 5 for camp and have the process down to science!!!!!!

 

Kid’s Chronicles- Do You Have An Artist in Your Home?

PicMonkey Collage   Do you have an artist in your home?   Do you constantly feel there is project after project filling up your living space?   Well my 8 yo DD is my Picasso, she has a plethora of crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, glitter, stickers and always in search of paper for a “project”.

A few years ago she received an easel and an art kit, I was excited because finally she had a space for projects and the tools to fill her time.   What a surprise when I opened the art kit and realized it was for a seasoned artist-not very kid-friendly. YIKES!!!!!!!! When I first went to the Mister Art site I was elated to find a “Kid’s Korner“!!!!

On those rainy weekend days and summer break days when they are yelling “I’M BORED“!!! This site is your answer to I’M BORED… what I liked most about the site is the various selections of products to tap into their CREATIVE SPIRIT!!!   Another great addition to the site is the summary on the importance of artistic expression by age level.    The site makes selecting products so easy and with the diversity of products you are sure to find something for your ARTIST!!!

If  your  “artist in training” has an interest in jewelry making, painting, sculpting, crafts, drawing, cartooning, etc. this is the place for you.    In addition to the massive selection you will find the  lowest prices for arts&crafts !!! I decided to do a cost comparison between Mister Art vs. a competitor’s site on standard items like crayons, markers,  glue, and  construction paper and the price difference is signficant.    Mister Art is now my go to place for building my DD’s art supply inventory.

In the Kid’s Korner section of the site there is a Purchase Guide to assist in selecting supplies for your young artist by age level.


Up to 75% off Art Supplies at MisterArt.com!

My Inspiration: Why I Blog?- My 1st Blogging Conference ~Oops!

Blogher15Hashtag

Do you remember the movie WEDDING CRASHERS?   As hilarious as this movie was with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson  I never thought I too would CRASH an event!!!!!   I planned to spend one day in NYC at Blogher15.   When I purchased my ticket I remember it stated Expo and party only.     This ticket granted me networking access only for the brands and the closing party on Saturday.

As a newbie, I had no idea what to expect.   I chose to go on Friday because I thought this was a better day connections with brands on the first full day.   For some reason it never dawned on me the opening/closing ceremonies , lunch and the sessions were not included in my registration – this was a total Oops!!!!   I am officically a BLOGHER CRASHER!!!!!   Prior to the conference I reviewed the schedule and  went through the list of brands to map all the brands relevant for me.    I wish there was a newbie 101 to walk you through how to navigate the conference.

I wholeheartedly believe every experience has lessons to be learned.   This was my first blogging conference so I had idea on what to expect.  It was wonderful to see and hear about Soledad O’Brien’s foundation and her mentoring efforts with the mentees on the panel.   Also Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts of America speak on her organization and the girl scouts on the panel sharing their experiences.  A great opportunity to leave with inspiring and empowering messages.  Oops, I did attend the lunch with keynote, Gwyneth Paltrow discussing her site GOOP.com.

Oops,  I did attend one session, The Writing Lab and the facilitator was kind enough to share all of her notes with attendees.

 

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Newbie Mistakes

  1. Spending one day is not enough  time to connect with bloggers and brands.
  2. Realized after I returned home my ticket was for networking only, ooops I attended the opening ceremony and lunch!!!!!
  3. Attend and stay from Saturday to Sunday.
  4. Never miss the closing party, what was I thinking?
  5. Spend more time in the expo hall with brands.
  6. Pack comfortable shoes.
  7. Take pictures, pictures and more pictures!!

I attended the conference to learn and understand about brands as well as meeting other bloggers.

What I Learned:

  1. The expo and party only ticket is not for the sessions or speakers.
  2. Brands are people too.  They were extremely personable and willing to answer all of my questions.
  3. Always be courteous and personable as you are meeting new people, you never know who you may meet along the way.
  4. Check in early to connect with bloggers.
  5. Purchase an all access ticket to take advantage of the sessions, speakers, expo and closing party.
  6. Spend as much time as possible connecting with brands, take lots of pictures with brands in booth.
  7. Take pictures, pictures, pictures and more pictures.
  8. Try to connect as much as possible on social media during the conference.
  9. Live “Scope”!!!!
  10. Try to sightsee in the host city if possible.

Brands

ISow
This is a great way to change the dynamics of gift giving for my kids.    I love teaching my kids the value of giving back and making a difference.

InfoLinks
how to monetize my blog with ads

MamaBear
an app to track my kid’s social media activities as well as a their location

Shea Moisture
0ffers haircare, body care, makeup, hair color products.  The fruit fusion/coconut water hand and boy scrub is an at home TREAT for your hands and body.   I also tried the Superfruit Complex body wash and oil.  These products smell heavenly!!

Shark
I had a chance to try out one of their vacuums which was so lightweight and I put in my plug to review their “steamer” mop.  Fingers crossed!!!!!

NutriNinja
This was the best chocolate smoothie I ever tasted and hopefully I will have an opportunity to review their product.

NRG
Charger on the spot and it is the best.  It slips in your handbag and charges to 2 phone chargers.

Tom’s
I started using the wild lavender deoderant for my 8yo so it was nice to engage with the brand in person.  Tom’s offers a toothpaste to transition from kid’s toothpaste to adult toothpaste.

GoGo Squeez
One of my DD’s favorite on the go applesauce brands.  There were samples for the new flavor apple pineapple.

Storied Myth
This is a wonderful app for my young reader.  In addition to the app she will receive activities in the mail to use along with the app.

I had wonderful chat with an editor from ESPNW who is interested in our perspective in areas beyond sports such as fitness, apparel, food, activities, interests,  etc.   As a mom blogger with a focus on fitness I think there is a lot to share from a fitmommy blogger perspective.  Hopefully this will develop into a lasting relationship and content channel.

The best part of attending was getting to see Jen Lawrence-Snipes over at Jael Custom Designs.  She and I met on Mom Bloggers Club in 2009 and the last time we saw one another was in 2010.  Definitely far too long to connect in person!!!

I have send a huge shout out to Danyelle Little over at The Cubicle Chick for giving me that nudge off the sofa!!!!  It was an invaluable experience and has paved the way for me to attend the next conference.

Why I Blog-My TOP 3 take aways from the conference is 1)NETWORK 2)INSPIRE 3)EMPOWER

Thanks for stopping by!

Fitness: Graze – 3 Snack Box Giveaway

GrazeGivewayJuly2015 I realized in the past month I love to snack!!!! My fitness mission has forced me to make better choices with my snack selections.   When I saw a promotional code on Twitter from a company named Graze, I immediately went to their website to check it out.

The company offers snacks in a box that are portion controlled, low-calorie and a healthier alternative.   The pictures alone had me sold on trying the product.  I was also impressed with how responsive the company was to my initial email.   Great customer service is very important when I’m spending money on any product(s).

From the site you can select the frequency of shipments and it allows you to select snacks based on your taste preferences.   If you have specific dietary requirements, you can go to the food preference page to rate the products based on contents.    For example, if you follow a gluten-free diet there is a way to eliminate all the products that contain gluten.   Just a quick note to those with allergies.    There is a “beware” statement banner on the site that states Graze is not suitable for those with allergies due to cross contamination in processing.   

I describe the selections as sweet, salty and savory which is a combination I enjoy with most of my food.   I did subscribe to receive monthly. Check out the site here, GrazeUS I received my “free” box last week and have tried 4 of the eight snacks, which get a thumbs up!!!!   My favorite so far is the Lemon Drizzle Flapjack, YUMMY!!!!!

The best part of the snacks is they are compact and perfect if you are on the go!!!!   The sizes are small enough to fit in your lunch tote, kid’s lunch tote or handbag.    The convenience of the snack prevents me from spending unnecessary money on high calorie snacks and while at work a way to avoid the vending machines.

If you are looking for a healthier alternative and want to try GRAZE,  I am  running a 3 box giveaway to one lucky winner.   The giveaway will from from 7/27/15 ,12:00 AM to 8/3/15, 12:00AM.  Good Luck and Happy Snacking!!!!!!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review.  All feedback above is  my own.  Graze was kind enough to provide a 3 box voucher for my blog giveaway as well as a 1 box voucher code to share on my social media platforms.

 

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My Kid’s Chronicles- Summer Learning, What Are We Doing?

SummerLearning2015

As a child I was so excited for summer break, it was almost 3 months of no school and beautiful weather!!! Our winter season added a few snow days which extended the end of the school year.   I was excited to move to our new school district because I knew my DD would receive necessary support services.    In January, we met with the guidance counselor, psychologist, special education teacher and her homeroom teacher to review her IEP(Individualized Education Program).      I was a little anxious with how she was going to transition between two teachers and separate classes.     After a few weeks of getting acclimated and the assistance of an emotional support teacher she was off to a great start.    Her progress at the mid year review parent/teacher conference was phenomenal!!!!

During the last week of school,  her library hosts an end of year library event for students in grades K-5.    All the kids who attend are given grade level books to read over the summer.    This was a great way to send the kids off for the summer with a stockpile of books.   Most of my daughter’s books were brand new.  Prior to the event parents were asked to volunteer to host the event, donate refreshments items and books for various grade levels.

My goal for the summer was to keep the momentum going during the summer months without a break for learning.    After participating in a workshop last year I realized how much is lost over the summer.    I guess the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” applies during summer break.    For my DD I wanted to encourage her as much as possible by utilizing fun math workbooks, books from the library event and a subscription to Highlights.    The fact that Highlights is still in circulation  was a shock  after all of these years.    This magazine was a big treat as a kid because you received personal mail and then there were the fun activities inside.    I would get lost for hours!!!!

It has been a challenge to stay on a schedule.  We started off strong in June but have sizzled off in the month of July.   I believe DD’s camp activities are exhausting and she is physically drained once she gets home.   We also visited our local library and now DD has her own library card.  My fingers are crossed!!!!  I remember trips to my local library and this is no cost fun right in our backyard.

Do you have a summer learning curriculum?  How do you get your child(ren) to stay focused with the downtime? and additional activities draining their energy levels?

 

My Inspiration: What I Learned From My Leadership Role

 ReflectionCorner After  working for a  non-profit organization for 12 months and 14 days, I realized  how much I learned about myself.    Job loss can be very challenging but I am using this time to REFOCUS and PRIORITIZE!!!   Whew I feel this time is necessary to determine what is most important for me and my kids.    I thought my new role required me to be fully committed  to make a difference.    As I reflect on the year,  it dawned on me how much the weight of bringing my laptop home every night to work after dinner, in the wee hours of the night, and sometimes on my weekend was exhausting .    I think it is important to never lose defining your dreams as you work on fulfilling someone else’s.    When you move on it brings OPPORTUNITY to shape the next move and hopefully INSPIRE ME to fulfill my DREAMS at the same time!

What I Learned……

  1. Lead by example!
  2. Respect is reciprocal!
  3. Integrity means everything!
  4. Do not compromise values and beliefs!
  5. Be passionate about what you do!
  6. Strive to make a difference!
  7. Every experience provides valuable lessons, learn from each and every one!
  8. Never burn your bridges!
  9. Honor the work that came before you!
  10. WORK TO LIVE NOT LIVE TO WORK!!!!!!

I found this PHENOMENAL video,  a great summary on work/life balance!!!

Fitness: DIY Workout Plan- Week 2

This is week 2 of the weight training found at shape.com
Day 1- cardio(25minutes on treadmill)+weight training

Exercise Weights Reps Rest Set
Leg Press 10 lbs 15 15secs 1
20lbs 15 15 secs 2
25 lbs 15 15 secs 3
Walking Lunge 5lbs 15 15secs 1
10lbs 15 15 secs 2
15lbs 15 15 secs 3
Dumbbell Arm Side Raise 10lbs 15 15secs 1
15lbs 15 15 secs 2
20lbs 15 15 secs 3
Flat Dumbbell fly 5lbs 15 15secs 1
10lbs 15 15 secs 2
15lbs 15 15 secs 3
Straight Bar Tricep Press Down 20lbs 15 15secs 1
30lbs 15 15 secs 2
40lbs 15 15 secs 3

Day 2 – cardio-kickboxing  –  My preference is working outside of the home however I found my week a bit hectic.   My go to place for a 30 minute workout is YOUTUBE.   I found this excellent kickboxing workout on  YOUTUBE!  It is DEFINITELY a CARDIO WORKOUT!!  GRAB WATER BOTTLE!!

Day 3- cardio(25 minutes on treadmill) + weight training

Exercise Weights Reps Rest Set
Leg Press 10 lbs 15 15secs 1
20lbs 15 15 secs 2
25 lbs 15 15 secs 3
Walking Lunge 5lbs 15 15secs 1
10lbs 15 15 secs 2
15lbs 15 15 secs 3
Dumbbell Arm Side Raise 10lbs 15 15secs 1
15lbs 15 15 secs 2
20lbs 15 15 secs 3
Flat Dumbbell fly 5lbs 15 15secs 1
10lbs 15 15 secs 2
15lbs 15 15 secs 3
Straight Bar Tricep Press Down 20lbs 15 15secs 1
30lbs 15 15 secs 2
40lbs 15 15 secs 3

I missed doing my Day 4 of cardio!!!!! However I think the key is to stay active.   Fortunately for me I live on the 3rd floor of our building and I rarely take the elevator.   Two flights of stairs while carrying bags is always a workout!

My Inspiration: Travel Rewind- Trip to France-Food, Wine and Culture

I would love to see more of Europe…Amalfi, Italy is calling me…..

Eiffel TowerFranceTrip2011

In September 2011, I took my first international flight.   My company sent me to France for a meeting in Annecy, France(southern France).   I had no idea what to expect on a 6 hour flight.  My first thoughts: what will I do for all those hours? besides sleep.  Typically,  I can’t sleep on a plane but I was thinking based on the distance traveled I would have to rest a little.    A novice international traveler I purchased a blanket and travel pillow(not needed).  US Airways provides a travel pillow and blanket.    I was lucky enough to sit with a lady from the MidWest who was traveling with a girlfriend(sitting in first class) on a girls trip throughout the French countryside.   It was an evening flight so the airline served dinner and there were movies, tv series and other forms of entertainment during the flight.  My seat mate and I covered everything from marriage, divorce, kids, grandkids, careers and travel.  It was her first trip to France so she was pretty excited as well.   When we arrived in Paris, it was early morning so we had a suprisingly delicious pastry.     I have to admit there was a lot of anxiety with traveling such a long distance  but a wonderful opportunity to discover another culture.    In order to experience two cities in France, I elected to fly into Paris and take a train (4 hour train ride) to Annecy.   I figured on my return trip I would be able to spend two nights in Paris which was a great idea.

When I arrived at the train station it was overwhelming with all the people, the languages in the background and felt like I had no clue.    Unfortunately I wasted time looking for a terminal,  which we call a kiosk to print my tickets so I missed the early train.   I was forced to wait a few hours for the next train and hoped my taxi at the Annecy station would still be able to pick me up.    Annecy at last is how I felt, next task was to find someone at the train station who spoke English so I was able to call the taxi driver since I arrived late.  Whew, there was someone after a French passenger helped me find a railway employee who was able to call my driver.

The driver arrived with my company sign and I identified myself.   Wow, was I in shock to learn that a French taxi is an S class Mercedes(my Carrie Bradshaw moment).   I finally exhaled on my way over to my hotel, which was the Palace de Menthon.  When I looked at the pictures online I was in awe with anticipation.   The ride to the hotel took us around Lake Annecy which was the most beautiful body of water I ever witnessed.   The drive up to the entrance of the hotel was like a scene from a movie.   The hotel was amazingly something off the pages of a travel magazine.  I perceded to take everything in with my Ipad.   The only thing I wanted to do was crash however I was advised to stay up to beat the jetlag.    Dinner was scheduled in town so when I arrived it was time to get ready for dinner.

For the first time ever I decided to open my palette to new culinary tastes and adventures.   I tried duck breast and foie gras which is a feat in itself.   The wine was definitely tops on my list.  Best part of my dining experiences were the three course meals, breads and wine.    Each night was a new food experience and I relished in the fact French culture is so centered on enjoying family, food and culture.    My breakfast each morning in the hotel had to include a chocolate filled crossaint with nutella!  Cafe au lait and yogurt.  Fast forward to my favorite dishes and I would have to say it was the Tartiflette, which is an unbelieveable dish of potatoes, reblochon cheese and bacon.   One dish that can forever stay on the menu and someone else’s plate is tartare.      I spent  5 days in Annecy and took the train from Lyon to Paris.   Friday and Saturday nights were spent in Paris.

Fast forward to Paris, I found a reasonably priced Holiday Inn Express in R16 of Paris.   On the ride from the train station, the driver pointed out the sights Notre Dame, Seine River, it looked magical.   When you hear about specific landmarks it is just a picture on a page but when you see it in real life you are breathless.    Friday evening was my dinner out and I found a nice restaurant not too far from my hotel.    I kept with my three course meal indulgence plus wine.   On Saturday I mapped out a plan to take the local bus to the Eiffel Tower and I learned really quickly to never exit a Paris bus from the back door!   The Eiffel Tower filled with tourist on my way over I took amazing pictures of the Siene River.   There is no denying the Eiffel Tower is an archetecturial vision and it definitely gets its share of tourist.   You can even go to the top unfortunately I was not brave to do this alone.     After exhausting  my pictures, I proceeded to view my map and start my trek to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs de Ellysses.   I realized I need to sharpen my map reading skills but it allowed me to meet a wonderful vistor from Korea who attempted to put me on a train to the Arc de Triomphe.    It was such a beautiful day I wanted to walk to soak in the weather and all the scenery on my way.   The walk was a few miles but it did not matter because I captured so much on my way.   I was already warned about attempting to cross the busy intersection to the Arc de Triomphe.   There is a pedestrian tunnel to cross to the other side of the street.   Again the architecture left me speechless and then I took a long walk along Champs de Ellysses, the best part 4 story Louis Vutton store with the line outside of anxious customers.    I was so winded from walking I found a quaint and quiet restaurant to have lunch and rest for a while.

I walked back to the Eiffel Tower boarded a bus to the hotel.    In the area around my hotel there were restaurants, patisseries so I did a little bit of shopping for goodies to take back home, chocolates, wine, madelines.    I found a nice cafe with delicious sandwiches, crossaints and cafe au lait.    My last night in Paris was bittersweet I walked within the neighborhood to find a restaurant.  I was not adventureous enough to go to the Latin Quarter alone so that is a must do for an all girls trip to Paris.

Hopefully you enjoy the slideshow and capture the sights with your senses, I will definitely revisit Paris.   My DD wants to go at some point so I suggested we go when she turns 10……

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