introducing kidzxplor

Moms!  (And nannies and grandmas and aunts and friends and anyone else who is a caretaker for a kiddo or anyone who needs the best gift ever!)  I have literally discovered the coolest thing for kids and moms alike.  You all know me.  You know how active I like to stay.  Especially during the summer when we have more free time than usual, I’m always looking for new and exciting activities and events to bring William to.  We’ve done our fair share of exploring St. Louis this summer, but it just got easier and less expensive, believe it or not.

Introducing kidzxplor!

kidzxplor

kidzxplor is a simple way for parents to expose their children to exciting new activities and experiences, like art, music, fitness, open play, cooking and theater, all included in a low monthly membership fee. This web and app-based service allows a member to book classes with no long term commitment, when you want it, helping you to unlock your child’s passion and potential.

I love signing up William for various classes and events around town, but let’s be real.  That can add up very quickly!  Not to mention hidden membership costs on top of the fee of each class!  This is one of the reasons kidzxplor is so amazing and so worth it.  You pay $99 per month (and siblings receive a reduced rate of $59 per month!) and receive unlimited classes for the many businesses that have partnered up with kidzxplor.

As a BETA tester, I received a few classes free of charge, but next summer, you better believe I’ll be signing up for all three months I’m off school.  Since I’m a working mom, I probably will not sign up throughout the year, especially while William is so young, just due to time restraints as we would probably only be able to do one class a week (on the weekends).  However, as William gets older and is able to stay up later and more classes become available, it is definitely something I would consider.  However, in the summer or for stay at home moms, I cannot recommend it enough!

So far, we’ve done two classes.  The first was at Gymboree which is a kid’s gym.

gymboree july16

During the class, there was plenty of time for free play on the equipment, but there were also parts that were structured and led by a teacher.  Gymboree really encourages imaginative play, so the kids pretended to ride a horse, have a horse tail, and feed the horse.  (Obviously, horses were the theme of the day.)  It was fun to see William use his imagination.  His “horse tail” kept falling off, so he was constantly checking to make sure it was still there.  So funny!  Usually with Gymboree (and other gym classes), you have to pay a membership fee on top of the cost of class.  Plus, you commit to every week, and if you need to cancel you have some restrictions for rescheduling.

Kidzplor is awesome because you can check out a place like Gymboree without paying the membership fee and without committing.  Of course if you end up loving it, you are more than welcome to sign up on your own, or you can do a few classes each month while still maintaining your non-committal schedule.  Even better, you can sign up for a class through kidzxplor as soon as two hours prior to the class starting.  So one Sunday when we had no plans, I checked the schedule and saw Gymboree was available early in the morning.  It was perfect to get out of the house, stay active, and have fun!

Another place we checked out thanks to Kidzplor is Little Fishes Swim School.

littlefishes july16

Little Fishes has been our favorite so far!  They have three salt water pools and teach kids to swim.  William and I do the classes together right now until he is able to master a few skills; then he will level up and be in the water on his own with the instructor.  William is usually VERY clingy to me in the water, but did AWESOME during his first class!  He was swimming to and with his teacher, jumping off the side to him, and was smiling the whole time!

At William’s age, Little Fishes mission is to get kids to be comfortable in the water and teach them basic skills, so they are able to stay safe in the water.  Most likely, we will be signing up for classes to Little Fishes on our own.  If it weren’t for kidzxplor, I’m not sure we ever would have tried a class or made the commitment.

Right now, kidzxplor is launching in St. Louis on August 1, 2016.  Soon, it will be launching in other cities nationwide.  Be sure to like the kidzxplor Facebook page to stay up to date on information, see when new partnerships are made, and to learn when kidzxplor is available elsewhere!  Mommas in St. Louis, you HAVE to sign up for kidzplor in a few days.  I cannot recommend it enough!

What activities are your child involved in?

Have you heard of…

I was scrolling through my phone and found a few random photos of some new-to-me products that I thought were worth sharing.  Some are brands I was previously unfamiliar with and others are brands I currently use, but new items.  So let’s play a game today called: Have you heard of…

Have you heard of… fresh & co goji berry protein bar?

goji berry protein bar

I received this in my MizzFit Quarterly Co box and ate it yesterday.  It is AMAZING!  I love that there are just a few ingredients, and recognizable ones at that.  Plus, goji berries are known to be “super foods” as they deliver many benefits.  It kind of reminds me of a Larabar because it’s chewy and naturally sweet.  I’m going to have to find out where I can purchase more of these bad boys!

Have you heard of… Halo Top protein ice cream?

halo top

I’m not going to lie… I did not have high expectations for this ice cream.  Real ice cream is pretty much the best thing in the world, so a “healthier” version didn’t sound too promising.  The verdict? I was thoroughly impressed!  It wasn’t protein-y at all and the nutritional stats rock as there’s 240 calories, 24 grams of protein, 20 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of fat.  And that’s for the WHOLE pint.  I wish my grocery store carried their birthday cake flavor, but since that’s a newer flavor they don’t.  I’ll keep looking.

Have you heard of… Skoop performance beet blend?

skoop beet blend

This healthy Skoop Ignite berry beet Performance Beet Blend is to be taken 30 minutes prior to working out by mixing it with water.  The benefits include:

  • Endurance: Increased blood flow means you can run longer, swim with fewer breaths, cycle further, you name it.
  • Resilience: Helps reduce recovery times DURING your workout–so you can bounce back quicker from bursts of activity, like sprints.
  • Energy: D-Ribose provides lasting, sustained energy throughout your workout.

How’s the taste?  Well… it does taste like beets.  I like beets, but combining it with just water does not taste like the best thing.  However, I usually take it in the morning, so I mix it in with my oatmeal or smoothie so other flavors take over.  If I want to take it in the afternoon or later in the day when I’m not eating right before, I gulp it down pretty quickly.  I do like the benefits and the slight jolt it gives me without the caffeine.  I like how it’s a “natural” product.

Have you heard of… goodness knows peach & cherry almond dark chocolate bar?

goodness knows

The cherries sweetened this bar perfectly!  It was harder than the other bar, but I still enjoyed it as a crunchy snack.  This was another new-to-me brand and I was a big fan of this flavor!

Have you heard of… Ava Anderson Non Toxic Body Scrub?

body scrub

Ava Anderson Non Toxic has the safest products around.  I originally started purchasing them for baby William as I was concerned with the ingredients in typical baby products, but quickly fell in love with all of their lines.  My current obsession is their body scrub.  It is the most moisturizing scrub I’ve ever used.  I use it right before I shave my legs and I don’t even need shaving cream, not to mention it exfoliates perfectly.  The new candy cane is PERFECT for this upcoming holiday season.  I will be gifting lots of these to my girl friends.  Ava Anderson Non Toxic also has a new peppermint candle which will pair nicely for a gift.  I love holiday scents!

~Use code 111759 when placing your order.  E-mail me to receive free shipping.

Which of these brands / products have you heard of? What’s something new to you that’s worth sharing?

*This post contains affiliate links.

running happy

Two questions: How is today October first already and why is it only Thursday?  Seriously!  In nine more days, my baby will be 18 months – a year and a half!  That’s crazy!  I told my little brother Justin that William was almost 18 months and he asked if I’m going to be “one of those moms” that always says the number of months when asked his age forever.  Like 42 months or something ridiculous like that.  Haha.  I think once he’s two, I’ll stop.  Speaking of my adorable little almost 18 month old:

happy 18months

I love him!

18months

And he loves his momma!

Where is Friday?  This has been a long week as we’ve had Parent – Teacher Conferences.  They’ve all gone well, it just makes for a long week, since I get to school early and stay late.  But hey, at least tomorrow is Friday, and I’ve got an awesome weekend planned.  I’m rappelling on Saturday and zip lining on Sunday.

Now let’s talk running.  I’ve been running once a week, and have been slowly increasing my mileage, as well.  Last Sunday, I pounded out 6 miles in my new Mizuno shoes that I received through a FitFluential campaign.  They’re almost available for purchase!  (early – mid October and you can grab your own pair!)

6miles

Usually I wouldn’t take brand new shoes out for more than a couple miles for the first time in case they weren’t comfortable, but I trust Mizuno and have several pairs.  I was right – they were just fine and super comfortable!  I need a supportive shoe when I run as I have high arches, and the new Mizuno Wave Inspire 12’s are perfect!  Sometimes supportive shoes can feel heavy, but these are very lightweight!

waveinspire12

New features of the Wave Inspire 12:

  • Improved upper has a supportive design for a soft-yet-structural fit.
  • Increased blown rubber in the forefoot for improved durability and softness.
  • Redesigned, U4ic midsole platform provides more ground contact and a softer touch down.

Running has been awesome lately.  I’ve written many times before how I’ve been struggling to find my legs again after my long three year hiatus.  When I stopped running prior to getting pregnant, I was in the best running shape I’d ever been in, and I’m nowhere close to that point right now.  However, I am in a good place with running.  Every run isn’t a huge struggle, though it continues to challenge me, both physically and mentally.  My mileage is building and my pace is… well, that’s the part where I’m still really working.  I’m hitting under ten minute miles, but just barely.  I also wish I was able to run more than once a week, but right now it is what it is and I’m grateful to run when I can.  I’m running happy, indeed!

running

What makes you run happy?

Please consider making a donation to the Special Olympics! Thank you!

National Live Life Adventurously Day

There’s a day for everything, am I right?  Well, one that I just found out about that actually sounds awesome is National Live Life Adventurously Day.  Sounds way better than some of those ridiculous days, eh?  It’s a fun one to think about, too.  I’d like to think of myself as pretty adventurous.  Although I will say, last time I went on a roller coaster, which was probably over six years ago, it frightened me more than I ever remembered.  I used to love them.  That’s not to say I’m not up for a challenge.  Something I’ve never done before that interests me is zip lining.

There’s a fairly new (I think just a couple years old, if that!) zip line right here in St. Louis.  It’s called Go Ape, and it’s located in Creve Coeur Park.  They recently contacted me and invited me to try out the course.  To say I’m excited is an understatement!  Go Ape’s first National Live Life Adventurously Day is on Sunday, September 27th.

What is National Live Life Adventurously Day?  It is a celebration of outdoor fun and fitness. For each ticket used on September 27th, a ticket will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. <– AWESOME program!

_NLLA_logo

National Live Life Adventurously Day is a chance to make a positive change in your own life and in someone else’s. 

I’ll be checking out the course the following weekend.  Of course, I’ll be sharing my experience here and on Instagram!

Even if you can’t attend, Go Ape is challenging everyone to step out of their comfort zone and make a video promise to do something adventurous on September 27th. The video can be shared on social media using #livelifeadventurously.

To purchase tickets and for additional information, click HERE.

What’s something adventurous you want to do? Have you ever been zip lining?

Handstand Chalkgram

Why do weekends have to go by SO QUICKLY?!?! This was another awesome one in the books with absolutely amazing weather!  A bit cool in the mornings and then it warms up throughout the day; I love it and want this weather forever!  We spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend, ate good food, hung out with friends and family, did some site seeing, and got in a fantastic run.  And then there was the handstand chalkgram which is probably going to become the next big thing, thanks to my sister SCP.  More on that in a moment.  But first, weekend snapshots:

We went to our friends’ house for a play date dinner date on Friday evening.  No pictures were taken because we were too busy chasing after our toddler boys who are both complete bruisers.  They will be trouble when they get older!  And if we weren’t chasing after them, then we were eating.  No photos, mom fail.  We woke up bright and early Saturday morning (thank you, William!).  William takes after his momma in many ways; one of them is that he loves loves loves eating peanut butter off a spoon straight from the jar!  Lately he’s into the “I can do everything myself” phase, feeding himself peanut butter and all!

peanutbutter

Yeah, that gets real messy real quick.  Peanut butter is not fun to clean up.

After William fueled up on peanut butter, we went to his second soccer practice which went markedly better than his first.  He participated in all the “drills” and had fun the whole time!  Yay!  We visited Yaya and Pops while we were out that way before coming home to take a nap.

In the late afternoon, we headed to Taste of St. Louis for the second year in the row.  Last year, I was babywearing William and he was SO TINY!!! (Check it out HERE.)  This year, he lasted in his stroller for just a short time before he was running all over the place.  We met my friends there and I got a picture with crazy baby William and adorable [calm] baby Emily:

taste of stl 2015

We tried the sweet potato casserole from Ruth’s Chris and a couple donuts from Strange Donuts (maple bacon and gooey butter).  It was a really fun afternoon, and I headed out for the evening for some more delicious food.

Sunday was primarily spent outside which was perfect.  I think I could live outdoors if we had this kind of weather all the time.  On the agenda, we were going to visit another new-to-me location thanks to my partnership with Phillips 66 and their 66 Reasons to Love St. Louis.  Since we had a bit of a drive in front of us, we started out with some Starbucks.

white chocolate mocha

I went with the white chocolate mocha which is terribly unhealthy; however, I very rarely get Starbucks, so I enjoyed it.  Everything in moderation, friends.

Eventually we made it to our destination, and while I’m saving all the other photos for a different post, here’s a sneak peek of the beginning of our adventure:

old chain of rocks bridge

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun posing at different spots on the bridge.  You know I love jumping (and cartwheeling and handstanding and posing in general, haha).

From there, we headed to Forest Park for a run – five and a half miles to be exact!

run forestpark

When my running partner runs far ahead and I can’t keep up, I demand photos. 😉

Linking up with Katie & Erin.

And how I felt yesterday:

run yippee

The weather, the run, the weekend – couldn’t get better!  Well, my running can and will improve, but it’s moving along steadily.  Running is still challenging for me, very much so, but I finally feel like I’m getting my legs back.  My speed still isn’t where I want it to be, but my mileage is increasing and I’m getting there.  Like life, running isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.  It’s a journey.

We headed to my parents’ for dinner last night.  I pulled up and laughed as I saw my parents’ driveway covered in chalk drawings.  Stephanie had Instagrammed some hilarious photos (seriously, you MUST check them out – follow her at @scpstudio), and I had to get in on the fun:

handstand chalkgram

What were you up to this weekend?  Did you spend much time outside?

What’s in the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit?

I’ve been getting an overwhelming response ever since I announced Ava Anderson Non Toxic on the blog.  It’s awesome!  Keep the questions and orders coming!  I’m so happy to help share a message about the dangers of toxic chemicals and what we can do about them.  Ava Anderson Non Toxic is all about the ingredients.  The right ingredients.  Safe, organic, toxin-free, and harmful-chemical free.  Ingredients you can feel good about.  Ingredients you can trust for your family that are both safe and extremely effective.

One of the biggest questions I keep being asked is, “What should I buy first?” When I first responded to this question, I wrote a ridiculously long email back detailing the many products I would suggest and why.  I also mentioned how it depended on what she was looking for as there are so many different parts of the line (skin, face, body, sun, scent, kids, hair, home, smile, baby, garden, men, auto, bugs, pet, or candle).  She told me she appreciated my response, my enthusiasm, but she still felt incredibly overwhelmed.  Haha oops, sorry about that!  Living and learning!  So now I’ve condensed my answer to the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit and here’s why.

ava anderson business kit

The Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit is a great sampler of the entire line.  You get products from avaSKIN, avaBODY, avaFACE, avaHAIR, avaBABY, avaMEN, avaHOME, avaSUN, and avaSCENT.  I’ll go into detail about what exactly you receive because that was my biggest question when I was considering purchasing the business kit.  The Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit costs $99.  While this may sound like a lot of money right away, let me tell you why it’s worth every penny.

  • Close to $500 worth of products
  • 30% discount on all other products
  • No commitment, no minimum, or no annual fee
  • Receive 30% of sales back when others buy from you
  • Non toxic, organic products that you can trust

A quote posted on the Ava Anderson Facebook page really hit home with me:

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want. –Anna Lappe

Not only are the major manufacturers using harmful chemicals linked to disease in conventional products, but they are financially supporting a bill that would prevent states from passing legislation to prevent these chemicals from commerce in their states, due to a lack of the federal government to do so… HERE is more information.

Here’s the thing: you’re already purchasing products to use whether it’s skin care products, cleaning products, or items for the kids.  Why not invest in a line that’s good for you, your family, and the environment?  And here’s the kicker: Ava Anderson Non Toxic products are NOT expensive!  I’m constantly amazed at how reasonable the prices are – especially in comparison with other “natural” brands (which aren’t really so natural after all!).

Alright, so what’s in the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit?

ava anderson avaSKIN

The 6-piece avaSKIN set which includes makeup remover, cleanser, exfoliator, toner, moisturizer, and the sugar lip scrub.  This set alone costs $99.95 so you’ve immediately made your business kit purchase worth it.  Plus, you get the eye cream, too.  A little goes a long way, so these products last a long time.

  • Makeup Remover: Gently wipes away face and eye makeup with ease – no need for two different makeup removers as this spray takes it all off
  • Cleanser: Antioxidant and enriching cleanser leaves the skin clean and refreshed
  • Exfoliator: Fine apricot kernels and skin softening ingredients buff away dry skin, dirt, and imperfections, leaving your skin fresh and radiant. Improves skin tone and texture
  • Toner: Non drying, non stinging, made with yucca, a natural antiseptic, and witch hazel which opens pores and removes impurities
  • Moisturizer: Enriched with antioxidants, conditioners, emollients, nourishing oils and vitamins, to achieve radiant skin with improved elasticity
  • Sugar Lip Scrub: Gently exfoliates and leaves them smooth, soft, and nourished
  • Eye Cream: Moisturizes and firms, while reducing fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, and discoloration

ava anderson travel set

This travel set is awesome because you get a sample of the great avaBODY line with shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, shower gel, and hand & body lotion.  This travel set is not available for purchase outside of the business kit.

  • Shampoo & Conditioner: Designed to repair and restore, safe for color-treated hair, too
  • Hand Sanitizer: Organic essential oils work together to cleanse and moisturize hands naturally and safely – no alcohol
  • Shower Gel: Naturally citrus scented gel is packed with organic oils to leave your skin clean, soft, and smooth
  • Hand & Body Lotion: Delivers gentle hydration and moisture to the skin, leaves hands and skin soft, not greasy

ava anderson avaface

Three of my new favorite products!   The avaSCENT Hope smells SO good!!! I used my old perfume (aka probably filled with toxic chemicals) the other day because now I just want to use it up, and it gave me the biggest headache!  Yeah, won’t be doing that again.  I’ve never used “natural” makeup before, but I was pleasantly impressed with how well the mascara works!  There’s no smudging, flaking, clumping, or brittleness! The lip gloss comes in five shades, and I want to try their lip stick, too!

  • Hope: Fruity with passion flowers in the heart notes; accentuated by notes of orris, blond sandalwood, and cacao
  • Mascara: Formulated to increase lash length, thickness, curl, and separation
  • Lip Gloss: Moisturizing and conditioning with vitamins and antioxidants

ava anderson avabody

This stuff is awesome!  Every single one of Ava Anderson’s products rocks.  I mean, I’ve used a million lip balms before, and they just don’t compare to this!  And again and again, Ava Anderson’s products are all non toxic!  They all smell so good, too!

  • Spearmint Lip Balm: Organic shea butter, beeswax, and essential oils keep lips healthy, hydrated, and soft
  • Body Butter: Naturally rich in vitamins, maintains skin health and elasticity, helpful for dry skin conditions
  • Hand & Body Lotion: Delivers gentle hydration and moisture to the skin; leaves skin soft, not greasy
  • Shave Gel: Enriched with natural oils, non foaming, softens hair for easy, clean removal, gentler than regular soaps

Linking up with Healthy Diva as these are definitely HEALTHY products!

ava anderson nontoxic dishwasher detergent

When Ava Anderson first learned about how many toxic chemicals were in everything, she went through her house throwing out EVERYTHING.  I’m not that dramatic, but I will definitely be switching as I run out of things like dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.  I have used these dishwasher pods because I wanted to see how they work, and they work great!

  • Dishwasher Detergent Pods: Biodegradable, fragrance free, and highly effective pods leave all glass, dishes, pots and pans sparking clean

ava anderson sun baby

I’m OBSESSED!  Hands down, best diaper cream and sunscreen I’ve ever used!  The diaper cream actually nourishes William’s skin instead of just being a barrier.  It heals diaper rash where other creams just prevent it from worsening.  It’s so hydrating that I’ve been using it on William’s eczema, and it’s definitely gotten better.  Diaper cream that’s not just for diapers!  There have been so many stories being published lately about how toxic chemicals are in sunscreens.  Ava Anderson Non Toxic is your answer.  I can’t even stand the smell of regular sunscreen anymore.  AANT all the way!

  • Diaper Cream: Hydrates, comforts, softens and soothes, good for eczema (YES!), rosacea, dry patches and other skin conditions
  • Sunscreen Lotion: Broad spectrum UVA/UVB coverage, water resistant, best safe sunscreen on the market

Now you see!  Best new (well, since 2009 – new to me!) products out there!  I cannot recommend Ava Anderson Non Toxic products enough!  Don’t know what to get?  Start with the business kit to find your favorites! Just a reminder, I’m offering FREE SHIPPING when you shop my store and email me.  *Enter party code 125145* I would encourage you to take advantage of this free shipping offer, try some products out, and I know you’ll be sold! Or, if you’re already sold, let me know and I’ll help you get started with the business kit! You won’t be disappointed!

Which products from the business kit are you most excited about?!

Do you like chemicals?

Do you like chemicals?  How about TOXIC chemicals? I sure don’t.  Do you know what else I don’t like?  Rain.  It’s been raining all week long here in St. Louis.  Everything is flooded and everyone is missing the sunshine and being outdoors.  I know I am.  But that’s a story for another day.  Today we’re talking chemicals, those nasty little things that are harmful to you, your babies, your family, your friends, your pets, and the environment.

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ and it only takes 26 seconds for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream? YUCK!  I used to be more concerned with what I put in my body rather than what I put on my body, but after learning this fact, my mindset is definitely shifting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still incredibly conscious about what I put in my body and try to nourish my body with mostly healthy foods.  However, now I’m learning so much about products and the harmful chemicals they’re filled with.  One might say I’m becoming a bit of an ingredient detective! Ha! With good reason though… Carcinogens, neurotoxins, reproductive mutagens, and endocrine disruptors have been found in the blood and urine of people all across the country.

do you like chemicals

What prompted this sudden interest (or disinterest?) in toxic chemicals?  I’ve always leaned more towards “natural” products and have tried to avoid toxic chemicals, processed goods, and unnecessary medicine, in general. (Not 100% because everything in moderation, and some medicine is really, truly needed. I do think it’s amazing how far scientists have come in the medical field. That’s a total digression though from my point today.)

Did you know that Europe bans 1,371 toxic chemicals from their personal care products and the US bans only 11? Ummm what?

Anyway, after having baby William, I’ve been VERY aware of what I’ve put on William and what he eats.  He has patches of eczema on his legs and belly, and I haven’t been too successful in completely eliminating it.  The doctor suggested a steroid cream which I would use if I absolutely had to, but I wanted to try a more natural way first.  I reached out to my friend Hannah who achieved her Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard and works as an epidemiologist.  Needless to say, she knows her stuff. First, she suggested starting William on an probiotic as that’s a relatively “easy” thing to do.  I did and continue to give him probiotics, but his eczema didn’t get any better.  Next, she asked me to look at the products I was using and start reading the labels.  She didn’t mention anything about her business, but I was surprised to see chemicals in all the products… even ones that were labeled “natural.”  When I asked which brands she recommended, without hesitation, she replied, “Ava Anderson Non Toxic.”

I started doing my own research and learning about Ava Anderson Non Toxic.  I liked what I saw, and went to check out the price tag and was pleasantly surprised at how affordable the products were! Not what I was expecting, and certainly not what I had been paying!  Still not 100% sure that I wanted to switch my dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, body soaps, shampoos, lotions, and the whole nine yards, I hesitated.  Then, my pediatrician informed me that I should be brushing William’s teeth with toothpaste.  I’d been brushing, but not with toothpaste.  He’s 14 months old; this concerned me.  I certainly didn’t want him ingesting toothpaste!  Again, I reached out to Hannah to inquire about which brand to purchase.  Her response, “Ava Anderson Non Toxic.”

That’s what sold me.  As I mentioned before, I always paid more attention to what I put in my body rather than in it.  With William especially, I was even more concerned with what he puts in his body.  I wanted to avoid the chance of William “eating” any toxic chemicals whatsoever, so I took a leap and joined Ava Anderson Non Toxic.

ava anderson independent consultant

I am now an Ava Anderson Non Toxic Independent Consultant.  I’ve been immersing myself in reading and listening, so I can learn as much as possible about the philosophy, products, benefits, and more.  That’s where I learned that your skin is the largest organ and it only takes 26 seconds for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream.  Eek.  That’s where the shift in my mindset came.  I’m now becoming an “ingredient detective” and really looking at what’s in my products that I use on a daily basis.  I feel much more comfortable using Ava Anderson products because:

Ava Anderson Non Toxic offers quality skin care, cosmetic, bath and body, and home care products without harmful chemicals. This revolutionary lines contains NO parabens or PEG’s, NO synthetic “fragrance” or dyes, NO hidden ingredeints or contaminants, such as phthalates, nitrosamines or formaldehyde, NO Glycol, NO Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and NO Petroleum Byproducts and NO animal testing. All products are Gluten free. More avaSKIN and avaBODY lines are Vegan. Recyclable packaging too!

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This is just the beginning. I joined the Ava Anderson Non Toxic movement because I truly believe in the message and I wanted to help share it.  And to be honest, I wanted a discount when purchasing the products since I knew I’d be using them frequently and for the long run.  I’ll be sharing more of what I’m learning as I see relevant. Please let me know if there is a specific topic or issue you’d like me to cover.

Since this is my first month with Ava Anderson Non Toxic, I am offering FREE SHIPPING to anyone that makes a purchase by June 30, 2015, no minimum, no maximum, no commitment.  Because I want to get the products in your hands, this promotion is coming out of my own pocket. I want you to try the products, feel the benefits, see the difference, and make a small change in helping yourself and the world reduce the use of harmful chemicals while still enjoying quality products.

Shop avaandersonnontoxic.com/itzlinz and use the party number 78046 (for July 2015).  Email me at [ itzlinz (at) gmail (dot) com ] for FREE SHIPPING on orders of $50 or more.

Which category of Ava Anderson Non Toxic are you most interested in learning more about or trying for yourself: skin, face, body, sun, scent, kids, hair, home, smile, baby, garden, men, auto, bugs, pet, or candle?

Emotional Intelligence Game for Kids

A few months ago I received an email asking me to review a new Emotional Intelligence Game for Kids called Q’s Race to the Top. Since I frequently have my nephews and my niece sleep over, I thought this could be a fun game for us to play, while at the same time being educational.  A double win for this teacher-auntie!  When Jacob and Audrey slept over the other day, we finally broke open the package.  I was very impressed with the game from a teacher’s and a parent’s standpoint.

Jacob reading the directions, while Audrey fixes the stuffed monkey’s clothes. Typical.

What is Q’s Race to the Top? It’s a board game that promotes good behavior, appropriate social skills, and physical coordination in a fun way for children. It’s recommended for kids ages three and up, but personally, I think three is a little young. My niece Audrey is three and she was more interested in playing with the stuffed monkey, Q. But maybe that’s just her… 😉

Jacob, on the other hand, is six years old and just finished his kindergarten year. He was the perfect age for this game! He could read the questions, was excited to play, and really thought about his answers. And of course, he loved the physical component!

With a growing body of research showing that improved EQ (or emotional) skills in children lead to better behavior and academic scores and are likely to lead to life success in career, relationships, health and happiness – EQtainment founder, Harvard-educated mother of 3 and TV personality Sofia Dickens has made it her mission to make this philosophy accessible to moms all over the country.

How do you play Q’s Race to the Top? It’s a board game that reminds me a little of Chutes and Ladders with how it’s set up. You “race” to the top by traveling on a path, sometimes jumping ahead on the ladders. There are four game pieces, little monkeys, a dice, and three stacks of cards.  You roll the dice, move your monkey, and whatever color spot you land on, is the color of the card you choose.  There are three categories for the cards: You, Do, and Q.

You Cards are questions about you. These questions are designed for practicing manners and positive behavior, creative thinking, feeling identification and verbalization, communication skills, and self-awareness.

Do Cards may just look like silly actions, but studies show that in order to develop mental and emotional self-control, two of the most important components of EQ, children must first learn to control their arms and legs through balance and coordination. Do Cards are made for practicing teamwork, self-control, coordination, balance, and feeling identification.

Q Cards allow you to advise Q on what he should do in different social scenarios with family, friends, and neighbors. These questions are carefully crafted for practicing social awareness and social skills, managing emotions, manners and positive behavior, coping skills, and a positive attitude.

questions

I liked the questions and the “do” cards so much that I will be bringing this game to my fourth grade classroom in August when school starts again. We may not actually play the game, but I will use the cards for brain breaks and to lead our class meetings and discussions.  Here’s a few questions from each category so you can get a better feel:

You Cards:

  • What are some good ways to calm down when you’re mad or feeling frustrated?
  • What does it mean to be brave? Are you brave? Give an example.
  • An adventure is when you go out and try something different and exciting. What kind of adventure would you like to go on?

Do Cards:

  • Tip-toe across the entire room without making a sound – no floors creaking, no carpet whooshing, no shoes tapping on the floor. You may need to creep slowly!
  • Count how many seconds you can stand on your heels.
  • Do a bear crawl (crawling forward on your hands and feet) across the room. Now try it backwards.

Q Cards:

  • Q is sometimes grouchy when he wakes up from his nap or when he doesn’t get his way. What are some ways to stop being a grouch?
  • Q has a hard time falling asleep because he has so many things to think about. What can you tell Q about how to fall asleep?
  • In a neighborhood soccer game, Q scored on his own team’s goal by mistake. How would you have felt if you were Q, scoring on the wrong goal?

Like I said before, I will be bringing this to my classroom which will be great. There are many ways to use the cards in the classroom. We can use them in a class meeting and have all the students answer the question, pick a select few students to answer, have students turn and talk about the question, or ask students to write about their answers. I think this is an excellent game for parents of young children; it would make a wonderful gift, as well! You can purchase the game, the monkey Q, an on-the-go pack of cards, a storybook with CD, or a coloring book online or at Target.

Parents / Teachers – how do you promote emotional intelligence?

Friday Five

Happy happy Friday! I am finishing my last full week of school before summer, so to say I’m excited it’s the weekend is an understatement!  We’ve got a fun weekend planned which makes it all the sweeter, too.  Today, I want to share five things with you (linking up with Claire!) – some cuteness, some love, some deals, and some running fun.

#1

First and foremost, this cute little baby in the bathtub:

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Little stinker poured a cup of water on me and thought it was the most hilarious thing ever!  He was literally cracking up, so it was impossible to be mad!  Baby William loves playing with his stacking cups in the bath.  He loves putting them inside each other, pretending to drink, filling them with water, and apparently pouring them out on me!

#2

You all know I love Skoop and use it on a daily basis.  (HERE is why.)  Skoop is a plant-based superfoods company. Now through May 22nd, you can save 25% on all Skoop products – the A-Game green superfood blend (my favorite!), the B-Strong plant-based protein, and the B-Lovely superfood beauty blend.

Enter code ‘MAY25’ at checkout to apply the 25% discount. Be careful–the code is case sensitive!  Shop HERE.

One of the coolest things about Skoop is that every time you use it, you’re helping get more fresh fruits and veggies into schools across the country. Skoop has teamed up with the Chef Ann Foundation to create Mission Nutrition: Fruits and Veggie Grants for Kids. Skoop has committed to giving 3% of their revenue to fund these grants, because everyone deserves super nutrition!  AWESOME.

affiliate link – thank you!

#3

I’m not the only crazy Chipotle lover in my family…

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My little brother Justin texted our family this picture and said, “This is my 3rd meal in a row having Chipotle.”  And now he will probably never text me another goofy picture. lol

#4

I just learned of a new cool inspirational running app called Motigo and thought my runner friends would be interested. From their website:

Motigo is a personalized motivational running app. that allows your family, friends and coaches to pre-recored personal cheers for you to hear during your race.  Have you ever run a race, and even surrounded by thousands of other runners, still felt like you’re alone on your mission to finish?  Or perhaps you are nervous about running your very first race?  Maybe your friends and family aren’t able to be there in person to cheer you on?  The solution is Motigo.
motigo-logo
What is Motigo?
Motigo is the first ever personalized, motivational running app.  It brings athletes, coaches, family and all supporters together, through pre-recorded, personalized cheers.  It’s simple; after downloading the free app, runners select their race, send push notification to anyone who might want to cheer, and the recipient can then record any type of motivational messages for the runner.  The messages are triggered to play automatically at mile markers selected by each supporter, allowing friends, family or coaches to determine when and where the runner will hear their voice.
How it works. 
Motigo operates as a complimentary app, allowing runners to continue using their favorite fitness or music apps at the same time.  When the moment comes for cheers to play, Motigo lowers the volume of your music, plays the cheers, and returns the music to its previous volume.
The Mission.
The power of Motigo lies in its ability to supply emotional fuel.  Motivation is key to accomplishing anything in life, and Motigo’s mission is to help everyone keep moving, and #runLOVED.
#5
These curls.
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How amazing are they?
Have a fabulous weekend!
Have you ever heard of Motigo?  What are your weekend plans?

What You Can When You Can #wycwyc

There’s a new movement taking over the world.  Ok, maybe not the world (yet), but the healthy living community, and there’s no better time but NOW to get involved.  It’s the What You Can When You Can (#wycwyc) movement.  The idea is simple.  You do #wycwyc in terms of living a healthy life.  You don’t feel bad about anything.  You do your best.  That’s that.  And it’s pretty awesome.  Just like you.  And me.

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The other weekend I went out for a run.  Long run?  No.  Two miles with some walking in between as I stopped at my friend’s house to see her baby and ask her to snap a photo (or five).  Two miles may not be much, but it sure is better than nothing!  #wycwyc

Where did the #wycwyc movement come from?  Two geniuses, Carla and Roni.

Carla is a wise, wise woman who writes posts that constantly resonate with me.  She’s real, she’s smart, she’s funny, and she has a magnificent outlook on life.  Carla is a momma, part of the “tribe,” and a kind soul whom I hope to meet someday as we’ve already connected through the blogosphere.  I look up to Carla and she inspires me in many ways. Roni, I’m not as familiar with, but she’s accomplished a lot and has a large following, so she must know what she’s doing. 🙂

Their book, What You Can When You Can, is available to order NOW… on Amazon and other retailers.  No matter where you are in your healthy living journey, whether you’re just starting, thinking about starting, or doing pretty well, you should get a copy of this book in your hands (or on your Kindle).  The gist?

What You Can When You Can (#wycwyc) is a book, a movement, a mindset, and a lifestyle – one that harnesses the power of small steps to let you achieve your health and fitness goals on YOUR terms.  The #wycwyc (pronounced “wickwick”) philosophy applies to anything and everything that contributes to a healthy, happy life: nutrition, exercise, physical and mental rejuvenation, and so much more!

Some additional recent #wycwyc moments for me:

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Spending time with family and eating pizza for dinner.  Healthy pizza?  No, cheesy thin crust (St. Louis style!) Imo’s pizza of absolute deliciousness.  Stressing that it’s not healthy?  Nope!  #wycwyc!  Knowing I started my day with my greens and making mostly other healthy choices throughout the day, having pizza for dinner occasionally is no big deal.  And neither is the cookie.  Or any of the other desserts that followed.

Not fitting in an hour-long workout on a regular basis because of this:

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As much as I love working out, I love my baby more.  After not being with him all day long, I can’t put him in gym day care or leave him at school longer so I can workout.  Instead, I do #wycwyc.  This may mean a set of lunges here, a few push-ups there, or maybe “nothing” at all.  This face is more important.  This is not to say I don’t place any emphasis on working out.  I do want to be a strong and healthy role model for baby William.  It’s all about finding that balance, and it’s all about #wycwyc.

Which brings me to my next #wycwyc…

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While I may not have time to go to the gym for an hour a day, I do what I can when I can.  Twice a week my school hosts morning workouts before the kids come.  They are quick fifteen minute workouts.  One incentive is to wear workout clothes all day, and another promotes community among our staff.  I love both reasons, but I also love that it is a chance for me to workout, even if it is just for fifteen minutes.  #wycwyc and it’s fifteen more minutes than I would do otherwise!  Better than nothing!

Are you getting in on the movement? Tell me a #wycwyc moment for you!