Category Archives: Fun

Friday Favorites

Good morning!

This morning we are off to Alabama for a family wedding! I rarely travel but in the last week and a half I’ve been to California, back to Illinois, and now off to Alabama.

Since the kids are coming with us we decided to drive to save money. Plane tickets for the four of us would have been a little over $1600! I’m not exactly looking forward to a 12+ hour car ride but at least it’s saving us a lot of money.

I recently wrote an article for Chicago Parent on how to survive a long car ride with kids. If you want, you can check it out here.

I’m assuming it’s going to take us quite awhile to get there between bathroom breaks and food stops. Also, my physical therapist said to stop every few hours so I can stretch out my hip. We’ll see how it goes!

I haven’t done a Friday Favorites in awhile, so I thought it’d be perfect for today.

FRIDAY FAVORITES

  • HAVING A RECIPE PUBLISHED IN A COOKBOOK

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My gluten-free chocolate chip pecan pumpkin muffin recipe was recently published in the book The Everything Gluten-Free Breakfast and Brunch Cookbook!! I am so excited!

This book has tons of great gluten-free recipes. If you’re interested in buying it, you can purchase it on Amazon.

  • Pumpkin Spice Gum

I will never be over the pumpkin spice craze. I love it all!

I recently found Extra gum in pumpkin spice and apple crisp flavors. I only bought the pumpkin spice flavor to try out but I will be buying the apple crisp flavor too.

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This gum is amazing. You might not think that pumpkin spice would work in a gum but it does. I love it.

  • Jack Links Turkey Jerky in Sweet Teriyaki

I’ve pretty much gone my whole life without eating jerky then I discovered turkey jerky. I just recently started eating white meat again to get more protein in my diet and I love this turkey jerky! Normally I buy the regular flavor but when I saw they had teriyaki I was excited to try it out!

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I bought the big bag to eat in the car on the way to Alabama. Turkey jerky is good but it’s expensive!

  • Awesome Companies

International Delight coffee creamer recently noticed I am a huge coffee lover (maybe because I post lots of coffee pics on Twitter and Instagram) and they sent me this awesome mason jar glass with my name on it.

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How awesome is that?! I love that a company just randomly sent some coffee lovers mason jar mugs with their name on it. Way to go International Delight! I will forever buy your coffee creamer because you sent me an awesome jar with my name on it. I will also buy a Kia car because the commercial features dancing hamsters. What can I say? I’m a sucker for advertising. :)

  • End of Season Sales

The wedding we’re going to in Alabama is outside and it’s going to be hot and humid so we were advised not to wear heels. I don’t have any plain black sandals or flip flops so I ran to Kohl’s to see if they had any.

They had a bunch of them on sale for $2.40 and $2.80! I got three pairs for less than $9! I’ll bring one pair for the wedding and save the others for next spring and summer.

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I saved $72!

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Yay for sales!

Those are all my favorites for this Friday. Have a wonderful weekend!

  • What are your Friday favorites?
  • What is the longest car ride you’ve ever been on?

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Baby Showers, Swimming, and The Bears

Good afternoon!

AMRAP Nutrition Bar Winners

The three winners of the AMRAP bars are Sarah, Kelsey, and Melissa. I sent all the winners an email. Congrats!

The Weekend

Our weekend was busy but low-key at the same time.

On Saturday morning, Jacob had a soccer game. On Saturday afternoon, I went to a baby shower for my best friend’s sister.

The mama-to-be:

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Me, Jenny, and Crystal (another mama-to-be):

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I made a cute diaper cake for the shower.

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My grandma made an amazing elephant cake for the shower. How cute did it turn out?! It was delicious red velvet cake on the inside.

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Sunday

In addition to my quad pain, I have been having some pretty bad adductor pain. My quad will get sore when I am doing too much, but the adductor pain is pretty much a constant annoying pain all the time.

My physical therapist told me that I should stay out of the gym for the whole weekend, except for swimming. She said at this point swimming is the best thing I can do. She said to do squats and lunges in the pool rather than kicks because the kicks are using my adductor muscles too much for the time being.

On Sunday morning, Danny and I swam for about 45 minutes. I did a total of 35 laps which is my most so far. I count swimming to one side of the pool as one lap. I usually do some laps without the kickboard and then use the kickboard once my leg and hip starts to get too tired.

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I told myself that if I burned at least 300 calories while swimming, I would get a Dunkin Donuts pumpkin spice crème brulee iced coffee.

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It was amazing.

Sunday afternoon was the first Chicago Bears game of the season! My family came over to watch the game.

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My adorable niece.

Today

Danny was able to find the Chobani pumpkin spice yogurt at Wal-Mart near his work and I had it for breakfast this morning.

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It was so good! It reminds me of pumpkin pie and it would be delicious with graham crackers crumbled on top. Yum! I’m loving all the pumpkin food.

I also found pumpkin bread and cookies.

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This morning, I went to the gym. My adductor is feeling a little better but my quad is sore after working out. It’s never ending and super annoying.

I worked on back and biceps today. I did some of the following exercises:

  • wide grip lat pull down
  • seated cable row
  • back extension machine
  • quadruped opposite arm/leg raise
  • seated biceps curls
  • cable biceps curls
  • plate twists
  • concentration curls

It was a fast workout because I had to pick up my niece. I think I will spend the rest of the day resting my leg!

Have a great afternoon!

  • What did you do this weekend?
  • Are you a football fan? Favorite team?
  • Favorite pumpkin item?

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Filed under Breakfast, Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Working Out

Throwing A Sports Themed Party – Chicago Bears

My family is really big into sports, and Chicago has some really good sports teams – the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the Cubs and Sox. One of our favorite sports teams is the Chicago Bears.

Who doesn’t love football season?! Even if you aren’t a big football fan, there’s just so much excitement in the air. Football kicks off the start of the fall season and our Sundays are usually spent having family over, watching the Bears game, and eating fun football food.

We love getting together as a family to watch football and especially the Super Bowl. Sometimes we like to go all out throwing football parties, so today I’ll go over how to throw a successful football party.

1. Invite people you like.

Parties are always better when you invite people that you like. :) It helps even more if they enjoy football. Even if they don’t enjoy football, invite them anyway – they can learn to like football.

There are so many ways to invite people to events these days – email, through Facebook, the evite website, over the phone. If you really want to surprise people, send an invitation in the mail.

2. Food

You cannot have a successful football party without food. People like to eat. If you can’t cook, don’t fear! Ask each guest to bring a dish to share or get the best football party food there is – pizza.

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Always make sure there’s cake.

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3. Decorations

Decorations always make parties more festive and liven up the crowd. Many party stores sell football themed decorations and even have specific team decorations. Or make your own!

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You can never go wrong with a Chicago Bears pumpkin.

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4. Games

Who doesn’t love a party game? Everyone knows that the most important commercials of the year come on during the Superbowl, so why not make a game out of it?!

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Last year, we played Superbowl Commercial Bingo. Everyone got a bingo card and when the commercial came on, they got to mark it on their bingo card. Fun was had by all!

5. Sports Clothing…and Props

Have people wear a sports jersey of their favorite team. If they don’t own one, that gives them the perfect opportunity to go shopping! And who doesn’t love shopping?

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6. Get the Kids Involved

My kids love watching the Bears on TV with their dad.

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It’s a great way for kids to learn about sports and maybe it’s even a sport they’d be interested in playing!

If you live in the Chicago area, the Chicago Bears are hosting Family Fest on August 2nd. The Chicago Bears Family Fest lets families watch the Bears practice under the lights on Soldier Field. There is also family-friendly games, live music, outdoor activities, giveaways, and fireworks.

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The kids are also invited to the Staley’s Corner, the Bears mascot, for some fun activities, and the first 200 kids ages 4-12 will get the opportunity to have an autograph session with the Bears players! It’s a great way to spend the day with the family!

If you’re in Chicagoland, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Do you have any fun party tips to add? Favorite sports team?

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Filed under Breakfast, Family Fun, Fun, Uncategorized

Gym Fun, Food, and Challenges

Good morning! It’s been a few days since I’ve checked in! The kids only have a few days of school left so we’ve been pretty busy. Their last day is next Wednesday and two days later we head to Wisconsin Dells!

Field Day

Yesterday was Jaden’s field day at school.

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Danny took the day off so he could volunteer for field day. Jaden was so excited you would have thought it was Christmas!

Danny and I have been doing really good with our healthy eating lately so we packed our own lunch to bring to field day. The school provides a McDonald’s lunch for all the kids and volunteers but there was no way we were eating that (Random Fact: I have never had a hamburger in my life).

The Gym

After field day, Danny and I headed to the gym for a quick afternoon workout. Sometimes when we work out together, we set up boxes to do box jumps.

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We start from the smallest and jump to the biggest box. I still cannot make that fourth box – and I have a nice bruise to prove it! I did make it up once but that was it. And of course, Danny just jumps on it with no problem.

The box jumps probably weren’t the best idea with my hip pain but we didn’t do it for too long.

The Fault in Our Stars

Last night, my in-laws watched the kids so we could see The Fault in our Stars. It was such a great movie. If you’re going to see it, bring a box of tissues…or two.

Date night (I obviously had no idea where the camera lens was in this picture!):

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Movie theater food always sucks me in (hello Icees!) but Danny and I were good and brought our own Skinny Pop popcorn. Luckily, I have a huge purse which means I can fit a lot of Skinny Pop! It’s good to treat yourself once in awhile but I didn’t want to waste this weekend’s treat on movie theater food. I have been eyeing a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie at Whole Foods. It’s all about moderation :)

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Food

I thought I’d share some of the delicious food that I’ve been enjoying lately.

First, I have discovered the goodness that is frozen grapes!

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How have I gone my whole life without eating frozen grapes?! So good!

For breakfast, I’ve been having plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.

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Or protein pancakes made with oats, egg whites, and PB2.

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For snacks, I stocked up on some Quest bars. My local GNC was out of the cookie dough and cookie and cream flavor <—- The two best flavors. I got some peanut butter flavors instead.

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The Weekend

The kids both have games today and we might head to Whole Foods later. My sushi craving is slightly out of control. Tomorrow morning I am teaching the new BodyPump release for the first time. I have been practicing at home like crazy!

I’ll leave you with this quote that I have been loving lately:

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It’s so true. Sometimes, I get frustrated because I can’t jump on that fourth box, or I can’t get the timing perfect in BodyPump, or I can’t run as fast as I want to. But if it all came easy, then it wouldn’t be a challenge. The challenge is what makes work harder to achieve your goals. The harder I work for something, the more accomplished I feel.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Bondi Band winners: Laurel C. and Anastasia H. I sent you emails! :)

  • What challenges you?
  • What food have you been loving?
  • Have you seen/read The Fault in Our Stars?

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Filed under Breakfast, Fitness, Fun, Working Out

Danny’s Running a Marathon!

Danny has officially signed up for his first marathon!

I mentioned last week that I signed up for the Disney World half marathon next January. Danny decided to also run the half marathon, but we waited too long to register him and it sold out. He then started thinking about running the full marathon.

Danny is a great runner but his longest distance is 10 miles. If he ran the marathon, we would both be training at the same time and during the winter. The marathon is Sunday morning, which would be they day we flew back home. Danny went back and forth as to whether or not he wanted to run the full marathon.

Then over the weekend, he had a dream that he crossed a marathon finish line. Apparently that dream really influenced him because that morning he signed up for the full Disney marathon!

I am super excited for him! I think it’ll be a great experience for both of us. :)

Friday

Friday night, my family came over to grill out and watch the Blackhawks game. I found a recipe for chicken kabobs online that looked great so I tried it out.

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I made a marinade of olive oil, honey, light soy sauce, and garlic. I cut up chicken, bell peppers, onions, and pineapple. I put everything in a Ziploc bag and let it sit in the fridge with the marinade for a few hours.

Then, I put them on skewers and Danny cooked them on the grill. They came out soooo good. (So good, we made them again on Saturday!)

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Jaden wearing the apron I bought him for .79 cents on Easter clearance helping Danny cook:

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Jacob’s birthday is this weekend, and we’re having family over, so I’m making them again.

We also had burgers (those are Bubba burgers, which is why they’re shaped like that) and grilled broccoli.

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Sadly, the broccoli didn’t quite make it. Danny dropped about 90% of it on the ground trying to carry it inside. Oh well.

Kabobs are great because there are so many options – chicken, shrimp, beef, and all different kinds of veggies. You can even cook them in a grill pan or under the broiler. If you use wood skewers, don’t forget to soak them in water so they don’t start fire on the grill.

Saturday

On Saturday, both the kids had a game – soccer and baseball, and I worked for a little bit. It was a busy day with lots of running around.

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Sunday

I taught BodyPump on Friday and Sunday morning so my hip was really sore over the weekend. I am kind of upset that it’s starting to hurt again. I was happy when the cortisone shot made it feel better but now the pain is coming back.

I am going to make an appointment with the doctor if it doesn’t start to feel better just to see what the next step would be.

Have a great day!

  • What did you do this weekend?
  • Have you run a marathon?

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Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Running, Working Out

Happy Birthday, Jaden!

First up, I wanted to share some exciting news.

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I was recently accepted as one of the new bloggers for Chicago Parent. My picture is featured in their new February issue which I didn’t even realize until yesterday. I’m very exciting and I look forward to the opportunity.

….I look awfully red in that photo, don’t I?! :)

Moving on to my cortisone shot.

Yesterday morning, Danny took me to the doctor to get a cortisone shot in my hip joint. They said that it’s better to have someone to drive me home in case I had an adverse reaction to the shot.

First, I got to put on a really awesome pair of hospital shorts…which they totally cut up with scissors to get to my hip.

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The whole procedure didn’t take too long. The doctor used an ultrasound to find my hip joint and arteries. Once the proper spot in my hip joint was located he gave me a shot of lidocaine to numb the area. It hurt. It wasn’t terrible but it was a weird pinch and burning feeling.

After a minute or so, my leg was numb and the doctor gave me the shot in my hip joint. Since my hip was numb, I didn’t feel a lot of pain but I did feel pressure. The whole thing was over pretty quick. The doctor showed me some pictures of the shot going into my joint on the ultrasound machine, then he had me stand up and get dressed.

I didn’t have any pain after the shot because my leg was still numb. The numbness wore off about 20 minutes later and then the pain returned. Nothing a lot worse than I normally have – just burning in my quad and pain in my hip. The doctor said that the area could get worse for the next 2-3 days and then hopefully it’ll start to get better.

Now the only thing to do is to wait and see if the shot works. If it does, that means that it was the inflammation around the hip joint causing the pain. If it doesn’t that means that the bone itself is causing the problem.

I’m not teaching BodyPump this Friday but should be good to teach the following Friday. I’m hoping the cortisone shot works and I’ll be good to resume normal activity.

When I woke up this morning, I felt a little pinch in my hip but it feels a little better than it normally does. Hopefully, it’ll just continue to get better!

After the doctor, Danny and I stopped at Potbelly’s for lunch.

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It’s rare that we’re alone together during the week without the kids.

Jaden’s Birthday

Today is Jaden’s 7th birthday!

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I can’t believe how fast time flies and how fast kids grow up!

This morning, I decorated his door for him to break through when he woke up.

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He loved it!

All Jaden wanted for breakfast this morning was a star fruit.

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He kept seeing them at the store and has been asking me to buy one. So, we bought one and cut it up. It tasted like a mix between an apple and a cucumber – kind of odd tasting. Jaden didn’t like it and stuck to eating a cinnamon roll.

Have a great day!

  • When’s your birthday?
  • Do you have a favorite birthday meal?

***Don’t forget to enter the Ruffles with Love giveaway!

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Filed under Breakfast, Family Fun, Fun, Uncategorized

15 Minute At Home Workout

Good morning! How was your Super Bowl Sunday?

We went to my grandparent’s house yesterday to watch the game, and I ate way too much food. Everything was so good. I think there’s more food and snacks on Super Bowl Sunday than there is on Thanksgiving!

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I’m not really into football but the Super Bowl is always fun and so is watching the commercials. My stepmom came up with the idea of doing Super Bowl commercial bingo and everyone had fun playing it.

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She also had the idea to set up a football photo booth complete with fun accessories.

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Lots of fun!

Today

Jaden is home sick today. I’m pretty sure that he has an ear infection and possibly strep throat. I’m bringing him to the doctor later this morning to find out what’s going on. Poor guy. He was up all night long last night. I don’t think Danny and I got any sleep. At all.

Today’s Workout

  • Practiced BodyPump – 60 minutes
  • At home 15 minute workout and stretching

Since Jaden is home with me today, I worked out at home. I started with practicing BodyPump for about an hour and then I did an at home workout that I found on Pinterest.

I did change some of the moves, but here’s the workout that I did.

Do each move for 1 minute:

  • jumping jacks
  • wall sit
  • pushups
  • bicycle crunches
  • burpees
  • triceps dips
  • front kicks
  • upright rows
  • bicycle crunches
  • shoulder press
  • high knees
  • deadlifts
  • bicep curls
  • plié squats
  • plank jacks

Repeat 1-3 times. I did it one time.

Plank #2: 53 seconds

Plank #3: 1 minute

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Are you keeping up with your plank-a-day challenge?!

Have a great day!

  •  Did you watch the Super Bowl yesterday? Favorite commercial?

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Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Uncategorized, Working Out

Halloween Party 2013

Saturday night was my dad’s annual Halloween party. It was so much fun and everyone had such awesome costumes!

I was Wonder Women – I’ll take any opportunity to wear a tutu.

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I bought most of my costume at Spirit and made my tutu with tulle from the fabric store. I found silver star foam stickers and stuck them all over my tutu.

Since I was Wonder Women, Danny came as Clark Kent…

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…and about two hours into the party, he changed into a Superman costume. We thought it would be a fun little surprise :) I am really happy with how our costumes turned out this year.

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My brother and sister-in-law were Ronald McDonald and The KFC Colonel. How awesome were their costumes?!

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Their babysitter ended up canceling at the last minute because she came down with strep throat, so my niece was at the party for a short time. Isn’t she such a cutie pirate?

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She loved Danny’s glasses and kept trying to figure out why he had them on.

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My dad was Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty and my stepmom was a mermaid.

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My stepmom and I had similar ideas for Halloween this year and didn’t even know it until the party. First, we were both going to be Audrey Hepburn and then we were almost both mermaids! I actually planned on being a mermaid and even ordered a costume and wig off of Amazon, but let me just say that the mermaid costume is very form fitting and I just wasn’t comfortable in it. So, I was Wonder Women instead.

A few other costumes from the night:

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My dad’s pumpkin.

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I think it took him close to a billion hours to carve, and it came out awesome!

The party was so much fun, but let me say, it’s not a good idea to go to a party, stay up late, and have a few drinks the night before you have to film a BodyPump video.

On Sunday, we met my dad, stepmom, and brother for breakfast before I had to film my BodyPump video. I was really dragging and shouldn’t have ate such a heavy breakfast. The filming of my video went pretty good. Someone came in to make sure the camera ran the whole time.

I didn’t do perfect but I did a lot better than last time, and I submitted my video to Les Mills for my final certification. I can tell by watching myself on the video that there is a few things that I have to work on, but I can only improve from here.

It’s such a relief to be done filming. My right hip and quad has gotten a little bit worse lately with all the BodyPump and I am glad that the video is filmed and I don’t have to practice everyday.

Now I just have to wait a few weeks to see if my video passed! Fingers crossed!

Have a great afternoon!

 

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Filed under Family Fun, Fun, Halloween

Haunted Hay Ride

Good Morning! Happy Saturday – can you believe this is the last weekend of October?!

Yesterday

Yesterday morning, I taught part of the BodyPump class at my gym. It was the first time not using my notes during a regular class, and I thought it was my best job yet!

I didn’t use any weights during the lunge track because when I do, my right leg hurts for a week. Since I am filming my video tomorrow, I figured I’d save my leg and use weights during the video.

Yesterday night, Danny, the kids, and I met my dad at the pumpkin farm to go on a haunted hay ride.

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My dad and Danny always find it necessary to “fly” at this part of the pumpkin farm.

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Jaden, who is pretty much scared of his own shadow and refuses to go to the bathroom alone in broad daylight, loved the haunted hay ride. It baffles me. He’s scared of being alone in the bathroom but he loved the crazy guy with a chainsaw. Whatever.

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After the hay ride, we hung around a bit and had some hot chocolate and then headed home.

Today

Tonight is the Halloween party! I am so excited to see everyone’s costumes!

I woke up early this morning, and the kids and I watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while I finished up my Halloween costume.

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My brother and sister-in-law got me this DVD three-pack last year for Christmas because I love the Charlie Brown holiday movies.

I finally got my costume totally finished, now I just have to try it all on together to see how it looks.

I spent the rest of the morning baking Reese’s Piece’s peanut butter cookies.

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These are the same cookies that I made for Labor Day. I used this recipe. These cookies are delicious – probably the best peanut butter cookie that I’ve ever had! Not the healthiest, but the most delicious :)

I also have to go to Whole Foods today or tomorrow. I am starting my Grain Brain Challenge on Monday and it will end November, 25 – so exactly four weeks. I made a grocery list and now I just need to get to the store!

Have a great day!
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Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Recipes, Working Out

Working Out, Eating, and Pumpkin Crafts

Today’s Workout

  • Total body strength training
  • Stretching
  • Practiced warm-up and back tracks from BodyPump

I feel like I got a really good workout in at the gym this morning. I have been practicing BodyPump so much lately that it was nice to do something different.

I did some strength exercises and incorporated some plyometric exercises. Some of the exercises I did included:

  • single leg bridges
  • sit-ups
  • walking lunges with a torso rotation
  • squat jumps
  • biceps curls
  • triceps extensions
  • jump roping
  • push-ups on the bosu ball

I finished up by practicing two BodyPump tracks and did a little bit of stretching. I was nice and sweaty by the time I was done, and that’s always makes me feel like I got a good workout in!

I wore my new workout jacket that I got JCPenney to the gym this morning.

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I saw this jacket a few weeks ago and feel in love with it…but it was $60. I thought that was a little too much for a lightweight jacket for the gym, so I passed. But when I went to JCPenney a few days ago, it was on sale for $26.99 so I knew it was meant to be mine :)

It’s the Xersion Hooded Moto Jacket and I love how it zips to the side.

Grain Brain Challenge

I have been looking for some foods and recipes for the grain brain challenge. The good thing is that there are gluten-free and low-carb recipes everywhere – other blogs, Paleo websites, Pinterest. Whole Foods even has a 27 page list of all the gluten free items in the store.

I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding food to eat, I just need to find things that are fast and easy to make. I don’t mind cooking but I don’t want a recipe with 47 ingredients that requires me to spend tons of time in the kitchen.

I’ve had a few ideas so far:

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  • Cucumber sandwiches – hollow out the cucumber and add cheese, veggies, and toppings
  • salmon and veggies
  • veggie omelets PicMonkey Collage
  • taco salads, minus the tortilla shell
  • gluten-free muffins
  • eggs in a pepper
  • spaghetti squash with veggies and marinara sauce

I am going to try to stick the eating as well as I can but gluten-free is all new to me, so I might not eat perfect.

Breakfast

I’m trying to eat up all my cereal and oatmeal in the house, so for breakfast today I had some peanut butter Puffins. I just discovered these and I already have to give them up!

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One 3/4 cup serving just doesn’t cut it, so I had about a serving and a half with almond milk. I usually eat a small breakfast because I workout out in the morning and can’t eat a lot right before I workout. I always have a snack right after I workout. So, I look at it like I am splitting my breakfast up into two mini breakfasts.

Pumpkin Art Fun

I just had to share this cute pumpkin craft that I made with Jaden and my niece.

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I saved two coffee creamers bottles and washed them out. Then, we colored the cap green for the stem, added orange paint and shook it around, and glued on a pumpkin face!

Easy, cute, and the kids loved making them!

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Have a great afternoon!

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Filed under Breakfast, Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Halloween, Recipes, Working Out