Monday, August 27, 2012

Running (From?) With the Kids: Family Fitness

I want to raise active kids, not just for physical fitness but for mental fitness as well. I'm not one to over-schedule my boys with lessons and activities during their "free" time, but I think it's good for them to have things to do. It is really obvious when they are bored because they get grumpy, misbehave and fight with each other. What's interesting is that when this happens, it's because I'm too busy with laundry, doing bills, etc. and they are left to occupy themselves.

Sometimes my running buddy is not available to do our early morning runs on the weekend. That means I have to run during the day because I'm too afraid to run at dawn alone. Since my kids are awake,  they want to join me when they see me in my running gear.  That is my "me" time usually, but who can say no to two adorable little boys (especially 3 year-old Buddha who says, "I want to run Mama")? I have to admit Chip is a good sport about it. He tries to avoid running because both of his knees are pretty shot, but he accompanies us on these adventures. The reason being, my kids can only run a very short distance. I want to encourage them, so I bring them along. But once they tucker out, I can leave them behind with Chip and take off and "really" run. I actually get the best of both worlds: family time and me time. Even better, family fitness and burning a few hundred calories. Score!

This past summer I kept the boys fairly occupied with various camps, and I could definitely see a difference in them when they were not in an activity. There were only a couple weeks where they had absolutely nothing going on, but I can definitely say next summer that number will be zero if I can help it. They are happier when they have structure, somewhere to go and something to look forward to. I can't blame them, I was the same way when I was younger, I would get annoyed when I was bored. Of course, with working full-time and parenting two young boys that rarely happens anymore! But I totally get it still. And, there's nothing like getting the kids tired out so that they get a good night's sleep. They are growing boys after all!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Goodbye Summer!

Describes my summer perfectly
 Back to school! Our family enjoyed a fabulous summer. We used our pool a lot, had friends and family over to barbecue, and accomplished small projects around the house. As I mentioned before, it was very busy, which unfortunately seemed to make it fly by. But realistically, it seems these days summers just keep getting shorter! With the kids starting school in mid-August, summer is only 2 months long. It's not like when I was a kid and summer seemed to go on forever, and school didn't start til after Labor Day. Buddha's preschool doesn't start until then, and I am glad although it will be nice when both boys are at the same school and are on the same schedule.

Monkey turned 6 this summer, and we had a small birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese with a few of his school and baseball friends. Buddha really enjoyed the birthday party, I think Chuck E. Cheese is his favorite place to go! Even though our kids really love it there,  Chip and I hate it. The things we do for our kids!
Kick-ass Ninjago cake!
 Our summer highlight - besides my sister's wedding -  was a week of camping. First, a few days on our annual group trip to Lake Don Pedro. It was close to 100*, but we managed to stay cool by boating, jet-skiing and floating in the lake. We stayed on the water as long as possible, since once we were off it was back to the baking camp site. Fortunately we have a trailer, and even better, a generator, so we were able to run our A/C. But in order to hang out with all our friends who could not fit in our trailer, we had to be out in the heat. Really roughing it, I know. It was a wonderful time!
Buddha driving the boat
Monkey getting hauled in a tube. He loved that!
We finished out the rest of the week by taking our first family trip to Yosemite National Park. It was absolutely amazing and we cannot wait to go back! From the enormous trees to the gorgeous waterfalls, there is nothing not to like (unless you have an aversion to dirt). We had a huge camp site there, with plenty of room to run around for the boys. Tons of kids were all over the place riding their bikes. It was like a huge family summer camp. SO FUN. We went on an open air bus tour around the park to see all the sights, went horseback riding, did small walks/hikes, and played in a wide river that bordered our camp. The boys walked across huge logs that had fallen over the river, skipped rocks (their favorite), played hide-and-seek,  got very filthy, and just had good ol' fashioned boy-fun.
Loving his first horseback ride!

The boys played here every afternoon!
S'more please!
Hope to see you soon Yosemite!
We also spent two weekends at different beaches. One weekend we went to Capitola where we met up with friends who also were there for the weekend. We spent time on the beach, had some cocktails and delicious dinners. The kids enjoyed each other's company just as much as the adults. The other weekend we at Sunset State Beach which was absolutely gorgeous. We were all very relaxed and things went smoothly. Our kids LOVE the beach, truly, and they could - and did - stay all day! We ate some great meals, and played Go Fish with our competitive 6 year old card shark each night.

Breathtaking, right?

So while it is so sad that our summer has come to an end, we can honestly say we made the most of it.

Happy Hump Day Friends! Hope your transition "back to school" is a smooth one!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Product Review: Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice

When I received a pack of Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice to review, I was pretty excited. I received a packet of information that boasted some pretty impressive things. For starters, Cheribundi was featured on the Dr. Oz show last year. Health benefits shared on the show included faster pain relief caused by sports and every day activities, encouraging natural melatonin production to aid sleep, and fighting triglycerides which are often the cause for heart disease. Wow. This juice, chock full of antioxidants, sounded really effective.

I like cherries and cherry pie but had never had cherry juice before. I was a little unsure if I'd like the taste, but when I realized I had four different flavors to try I figured I had to like one of them! The first one I tried was the Skinny Cherry, which I was drawn to for the lower sugar content. At only 17 (still high to me) grams of sugar, it was much lower than the other flavors which were between 28- 32g. It was very tart - no surprise here - and I found myself wishing it was a little sweeter. However, always looking for solutions, I decided that I didn't have to drink it on its own and I used it to flavor one of my morning spinach-protein-banana smoothies. Good stuff! The next one I tried was the Ginger Cherry which was actually really good and I enjoyed that over ice. Tru Cherry was much sweeter than the Skinny, at 28 grams of sugar that was no shocker. I did enjoy the flavor but found myself making a blueberry-banana-spinach smoothie with this blend. The Cacao Cherry was a little tough for me but this is not typically a flavor combination I like anyway.

Cheribundi juice is the antioxidant leader among other cherry juices, acai, mango, orange, noni juices -  as well as other well known antioxidant-rich fruits such as grapes, pomegranates and blueberries. Within 4 days of adding this juice to your diet, you can battle free-radicals and repair cell damage inside of your body with a high dose of anthocyanins. Antho-what? These are a specific class of antioxidants which have a high concentration in Cheribundi.

Cheribundi is sold in stores, but I have been given a sample 4 pack which I will send out to one lucky reader to try for free. Comment below if you have ever tried Cherry juice and what area you need help with (pain, sleep or heart disease). Winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, August 10, 2012.

Cheers to Cheribundi!

*giveaway open to US readers only.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pillsbury Baguette Chips are CRACK!

Have you ever heard of these Baguette Chips by Pillsbury? Either had I until I heard about this Spark from My Blog Spark. They sounded tasty, and healthier than regular chips. After all, at 130 calories per serving, which is approximately 21 baguette chips, they have 50% less fat than regular chips! And in my continued quest for healthier snack options - because, I gotta snack ya know - I was dying to try them. Before I knew it, General Mills had sent me a very generous sample pack through My Blog Spark.
When they arrived, the first thing I did was tear one of the bags open take 2 bags of each flavor, Italian Cheese and Herb and Cheddar and Sundried Tomato to my office. I've mentioned before my office is full of snackers and I'm no exception. I put them out on the table in my office and had a steady stream of visitors for the day-and-a-half it took for my co-workers to devour them. I heard everything from , "Man, these are addicting!" to "I hate you for bringing these in" because no one could resist coming back for more. I'll admit, I nibbled on them continuously myself! They were great plain and so flavorful they really did not require any additional dips in my opinion. However, at home one evening when I wanted a snack I spread a little cream cheese on them. Another time I scooped up Greek yogurt with them. Another day I took a salad to work for lunch and added them for a bit of crunch. There are a lot of possibilities for this versatile and tasty snack!

Today I am offering my readers a $.75 off coupon so you can run out and try them yourself today! 

Also, one lucky reader will win a gift pack. Just leave a comment below, telling me how you will eat your Pillsbury Baguette Chips and one reader will be chosen at random this Monday, August 3, 2012.

Disclosure: The product, gift pack, information and additional sample have been provided by General Mills through My Blog Spark.

Happy snacking my friends!