Gund Top Dog Contest!

As a baby, Miss A received so many Gund stuffed animals, so I can attest to the fact that they are of high quality. She still has a pink lamb made by Gund that she snuggles with almost every day!

Now through August 5,  you can enter to win your very own Gund! Inspired by the wildly-popular “World’s Cutest Dog” Boo stuffed dog from GUND, the “Top Dog” Contest invites pup parents from around the country to submit photos of their own four-footed friends on the GUND Facebook page in one or all of the following four categories:

·        Most Beautiful Dog
·        Ugliest Dog
·        “Doganista”/Best Dressed Dog
·        Dog that Most Resembles its Owner

The Grand Prize in this contest is so cool! GUND will create a limited edition model of the winner’s dog. The dog will be available in gift and toy stores in 2013. People will be able to buy an adorable toy version of your dog. How cool is that?


To enter,  submit your dog photos via the contest tab onGUND’s Facebook page. The contest will run July 16 – August 15, 2012; winners will be chosen the week of August 20th and announced the week of August 27th.

GUND is also running another contest, called the “Most Pinteresting Dog” Contest on Pinterest. To enter, post your picture to your own Pinterest account, “tag” @GUNDMostPinterestingDog and submit the link to GUND at MostPinterestingDog@GUND.com. The “Most Pinteresting Dog” Contest winner will be selected based on the number of times the entry is “liked” on the GUND Pinterest board and the winner will receive a selection of GUND products valued at $250 retail.

Disclosure: This information was provided by Child’s Play Communications on behalf of Gund. I was not paid to write this post, but will recieve a stuffed dog toy from Gund in exchange for posting. Good luck to all who enter!

I did it!

In 2010, I started Couch to 5k. And got six weeks in and quit.
In 2011, Well — overall, it was the worst year of my life, and I barely made it to week 3.
In 2012, I’ve started and stopped so many times I might as well have finished, but never actually did.

On July 12, 2012, I completed a 3.5 mile race. That’s right. I completed a race that was .4 miles LONGER than a 5k.

Back in March, my company sent out a memo saying that we’d be participating in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge race in downtown Boston. At that point in time, I decided that gave me plenty of time to prepare so I signed up. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I was one of 12,000 people who registered for the race.

In the meantime, lots and lots of things came up that should have totally derailed me. For example, on Easter, I fell down the stairs and broke my toe. At that point I was 4 weeks into Couch to 5k, and was initially told — no exercise for 6-8 weeks. That eventually got taken down to 4 weeks, but you can lose a lot of training in 4 weeks (not to mention, it’s not like I woke up on the first day after the four weeks and had no pain…in fact, the toe is still achy from time to time but it’s healed).

So I did the best I could, worked out like crazy (even if I wasn’t running) and showed up on race day with the goal of finishing in 60 minutes or less.

The race started off with a bang, literally. I somehow got grouped in with the “6 minute mile or faster” runners, so when the race started, I had to pound pavement as fast as I could to keep from getting run over. Eventually the crowd thinned out, and I took a walk break to catch my breath.

And that’s pretty much how it went from there on. I’d run, run, run, especially on the downhill portions of the race, grabbed tons of water at the water stations, and before I knew it, I was approaching the finish line.

That, my friends, is where the fun began. Remember that hour goal?

As I approached the finish line, I saw the clock — it read 59:00. I said — well, yelled — some words that I cannot repeat in friendly company and proceeded to run faster than I did when I was trying not to get killed by the 6-minute-miler group, telling myself over and over, “Fast feet to the finish line!”

As I got closer, my teammates were standing on the sidelines (yes, I was the last from my team to finish) and they saw me and started cheering, and I ran even faster.

I crossed the finish line.
I looked up at the clock.
It read 1:00:15.
I breathlessly repeated some of the not-so-nice words that I said when I saw the 59:00 on the clock, and felt like the air had been kicked out of me.
Then, I got the text message.
Official time: 59:53.

And then the raw emotion hit me. I leapt up in the air and screamed for joy. Mr. Dad texted me (he got the alerts from the race, too) and congratulated me. I did it! I did it! I set a goal and I beat it by SEVEN SECONDS.

What an amazing experience. It truly reminded me of why I love running. The whole race experience. The feelings of accomplishment (especially in light of people who tell me I can’t/shouldn’t run because I’m a fat chick). The pre-race jitters. The runner’s high. The spectators cheering you on. It is a total rush.

I registered for my next 5k this afternoon. I’ll be running another Boston race in September. I’ll be training like mad until then. I cannot wait.

 

Miss A’s 4th Birthday Party!

What a weekend! On Saturday we celebrated Miss A’s friend C’s birthday, and then on Sunday we celebrated Miss A’s birthday! Two parties in one weekend when you’re hosting one of them is a busy, busy weekend, but it was wonderful!

Miss A loved every second of her party! She had fourteen of her best friends from daycare come to the party, as well as her Grandpa J! They had such a blast, and at the end of the party, the owner of the place where we had her party complimented the kids on being so well behaved. She said she rarely sees a group of kids that play so well together and asked if they all went to daycare together, so we said yes, and she said they must do a good job there. To which Mr Dad replied, “For what we pay them, they better!” (SO true!)

Anyway, here’s some of the fun that was had!

 

 

 

 

Holding up 4 fingers because she’s 4 🙂

 

After we got home, she got to open her presents. At this point she really wasn’t feeling well. I knew she was starting to come down with something but was in good spirits so we didn’t cancel the party…and by the time we got home and she got about halfway through her presents, she was wiped out. She asked to take a bath and go to bed as soon as she finished, and was asleep before the sun went down which never happens. But, she still had so much fun. And we’re home resting today since she’s still not feeling well.
Happy birthday again, sweet Miss A!! I can’t believe this time next year she will be five! (And I’m not even going to think about that again until next May!)

Kidorable Backpacks for Kids — Pack for Summer Adventures: Product Review and Coupon Code

It’s no secret that we’re big Kidorable fans around here! We own a kidorable raincoat, rain boots, umbrella and two backpacks! Check out this latest addition to Miss A’s ensemble — an adorable Ladybug backpack!

 

We have the adorable cat backpack, but with Miss A’s latest obsession with ladybugs, I just had to get this for her. She loves it! As you can see above, right after we opened the box, she grabbed the backpack, stuffed a blanket in it and headed for the front door. She loves it!

As a mom, I love the durability of Kidorable’s products. We’ve had the umbrella and raincoat for over a year, and the rainboots for almost a year, and they both have held up incredibly well — even with the super rainy summer we had last year. We’ve gotten a ton of use out of them! The PVC material that the backpacks are made of is great for kids, too. In addition to being durable, they are also easy to wipe off! We all know how messy kids can be, so this is a great feature.

Right now, Kidorable has two awesome promotions going on to help save you money on their amazing products.

Until May 31st, you can purchase one of these amazing kids backpacks for 20% off by using code BACKPACK99 at checkout on www.kidorable.com. Remember to place the backpack in the cart first. This promotion cannot be combined with any other offers.

Don’t need a backpack? Maybe one of their sets of cute kids hangers might be more your thing. From June 11 through June 18, just use coupon code CLEANUP2 at checkout on www.kidorable.com to save 20% on your purchase when you order a set of hangers.

Disclaimer: I received a backpack from Kidorable for purposes of this review, but receipt of the product did not influence my opinion. Thanks to Kidorable for supplying the product for review, and for offering these awesome promotions for my readers!

Miss A and Mommy on Mother’s Day

Dear Miss A,
In 2008, you made me a mother. You arrived in my life, not just like a ray of light, but like a bolt of lightning, full of fire and energy and life. Over the past four years, I have watched you grow and have seen the world through your eyes, which has introduced me to a whole new way of living. From the moment you arrived, I wondered how I ever lived before you were here, because while life was good back then, it pales in comparison to the big life your dad and I share with you now. The way you embrace life, from the littlest details to the biggest of mountains has shown me what it truly means to live. As a child, you are, as you should be, always in the moment, which serves as a good reminder to me to always remain present. This morning, you came bounding into my room full of energy, so proud to present me with breakfast in bed, a card you signed yourself, and a box of chocolates (that you picked out yourself!). You wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, and while I am tremendously grateful for those tokens of your love, what I am truly thankful for is that you are in my life. You are a wonderful, smart, talented, beautiful, sweet and loving little girl. Every day you make me proud to be your mother and having you as my daughter is greater than any gift I could have ever hoped for.

Love always,
Mommy

 

Easter 2012 in Pictures

Other than when I broke my toe, we had a BLAST this weekend! Saturday we went to an Easter festival, then to see the lacrosse team that Mr. Dad’s dad coaches, and then paid the Easter Bunny a visit. Sunday morning (Easter) I broke my toe, Miss A opened her Easter basket, we did an Easter Egg hunt at home, then another one at church, and then I went to the ER. I’ll let these photos tell the story.

Easter Festival — hunting for eggs

 

She found flowers and put them in her hai

 

 

 

The saddest Easter Bunny ever.
Making Easter Eggs

 

Our eggs!
Opening her Easter basket. She said, “The Easter Bunny must love me!”

 

Hunting for Easter Eggs at home

 

 

Checking out her eggs, which were very elegantly decoupaged by our minister

Heartbreak Hill

I recently started training for a 5k (again), inspired by my drive to and from work, which takes me up and down the infamous Heartbreak Hill. I’ve followed the Boston Marathon off and on over the past few years and I’ve always thought about running it, but quickly dismissed the idea.

For those of you not familiar with Heartbreak Hilll — here’s a summary (from (Wikipedia):

Heartbreak Hill is an ascent over 0.4 mile (600 m) of the Boston Marathon course, between the 20 and 21 mile (32 and 34 km) marks, in the vicinity of Boston College. It is the last of four “Newton hills”, which begin at the 16-mile (26 km) mark. The Newton hills confound contestants (out of proportion to their modest elevation gain) by forcing a late climb after the downhill trend of the race to that point. Heartbreak Hill itself rises only 88 vertical feet (27 m), from an elevation of 148 feet (45 m) at the bottom to an elevation of 236 feet (72 m) at the top, but is positioned at a point on a marathon course where muscle glycogen stores are likely to be depleted—a phenomenon referred to by marathoners as “hitting the wall.”

The nickname “Heartbreak Hill” originated with an incident in the 1936 race. On this stretch, defending champion John A. Kelley caught race leader Ellison “Tarzan” Brown, giving Brown a consolatory pat on the shoulder as he passed. His competitive drive apparently stoked by this gesture, Tarzan Brown rallied, pulled away from Kelley, and went on to win—in the words of Boston Globe reporter Jerry Nason, “breaking Kelley’s heart.”

Late last year, after contending with what still goes down in the history of my life as being “the worst period of time I’ve ever lived through”, I came to the realization that I have to dream, dream big, and dream bigger — but I also have to put plans into motion to make those dreams happen. And then it dawned on me. I love running — why not aim to run the Boston Marathon?

At the time I had zero inclination that we would wind up actually living in Boston.

I kind of let that dream slide as we got busy with the moving and settling in, and the job hunt and all the other crazyness that goes along with a move. But then, as I figured out the best route to take to work actually took me through Heartbreak Hill, I decided to start training again. Last Wednesday I looked at my calendar, tried to pick a good date to start and then in one very centered moment of clarity it hit me. I’m not going to make a plan for when to start. I’m just going to do it. Today.

That night after Miss A was in bed, I laced up my sneakers and went running and on Sunday, I completed my first week of the Couch to 5k program, again. I also learned a major difference between here and Florida: There is no level terrain in Boston. My average climb for a run in Florida was 20 feet. My average climb last week was 120. Needless to say, by Sunday night my legs were screaming. But I’m determined to keep going. (I’ve also found a slightly more level area to run since then, thank goodness.)

I also looked into what it would take to sign up for the  Boston Marathon, and discovered that it’s too late to qualify for 2013’s race (qualification starts about 18 mos before the race), and I probably won’t be ready by the time qualifications start for the 2014 race (you have to be able to keep a certain pace to qualify and I don’t think I’ll be there yet the next time it comes around). So, I am putting it out there right now. I WILL run the 2015 Boston Marathon.

This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people. Lots of people run every day. The difference is, I’ve got about 100lbs of extra weight on me to shed and people have told me time after time that I shouldn’t run. Which turned into me telling myself I shouldn’t. And now I’m letting go of that false belief. I can do this.

Fortunately, I have that drive on Heartbreak Hill to remind me each day what my goal is.

Organic Hair Products for Children from Fairy Tales – Review

I recently had the opportunity to review some organic hair care products for children from Fairy Tales. The opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. We had just moved to Boston, I was almost out of shampoo and conditioner for Miss A, and I was looking for an organic alternative to her shampoo and conditioner, plus I was looking for a leave-in product to help combat static electricity that was making her hair stand on end.

Fairy Tales sent me full-sized bottles of their organic shampoo, organic conditioner, and organic static-free leave in conditioner.

Having used Fairy Tales organic hair care products on Miss A’s hair for about a month now, I can definitely say that they are good quality.

Here is an item-by-item breakdown of what I thought:

Tear-Free Organic Conditioning Shampoo: Miss A really liked the smell of the shampoo. It wasn’t overpowering like some children’s haircare products can be, and lived up to the tear-free claim. A little bit goes a long way with this shampoo, so a full-sized bottle (12 oz) will last awhile.

Organic Detangling Conditioner: This was the first separate conditioner I’ve ever used on Miss A’s hair. She’s got very fine hair, with a little bit of curl at the end and I didn’t want a product that would build up in her hair and make it look limp. Like the shampoo, a little bit goes a long way, and the conditioner had a very nice, light scent. It didn’t weigh her hair down, but it did straighten out her curls. Overall, I really liked it, I just don’t think Miss A’s hair is the type that needs a conditioner right now.

Organic Static-Free Leave In Detangling Spray: Both Miss A and I thought this was the most effective product for winter hair care. Having superfine hair, after we moved up here, Miss A spent a lot of time with her hair standing on end, thanks to the dry air and static electricity. I was really excited to use this product and I am so glad to say it works like a charm! We finally stopped shocking each other every time she held my hand, and she also stopped perpetually looking like she had been electrocuted.

All three products are 12 oz and only $8.95 through FairyTalesHairCare.com. That’s a great price for organic hair care products for children, and since you don’t have to use a lot, a bottle will last awhile. (I’ve had them for a month and haven’t even used half yet — but Miss A has short hair so your mileage may vary.)

The only criticism I have of the products is that they have an organic claim but do not have the USDA organic seal on the bottle, so I don’t know if they’re certified organic. They do, however, use organic herbs in the product and exclude methylparaben and sodium laureth sulfate, which is a step up from conventional hair care products.

All in all, this crunchy mama gives Fairy Tales Hair Care a thumbs up! I would buy these products again!

Disclosure: I received these products free of charge from Fairy Tales Hair Care via Team Mom for purposes of this review. I received no other compensation for this post and receipt of products has not influenced my opinion. This post represents my point of view/opinion and is in not intended to be interpreted as professional advice or recommendations. Thanks to Fairy Tales and Team Mom for sponsoring this product reviews. 

Another Boston Blog Update

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last posted! My blog titles are getting lame. I need to work on that.

February was kind of a whirlwind. We worked on getting settled here, and I think we’re almost to that point. Mr. Dad is loving his job, Miss A is loving her daycare, and I just started a new job at a very busy search marketing agency and loving every second of it so far. We’re starting to get used to the area. I’m finding I’m using my GPS less and less. I can get to and from work, to and from the grocery store and to and from a really awesome shopping center without using it. We’ve been church-hopping a bit, but once we pick a permanent church home (and I think we have), I’ll have to make sure to learn the routes there.

We’re all really loving living here. It’s been a much smoother transition than expected. Miss A loves taking the train (and so do I — I hate driving!) and the city itself is just a wonder. I had coffee with the recruiter who helped me land the job a couple weeks ago, and got lost in downtown Boston, and instead of getting frustrated (okay — maybe I was a little frustrated) I was in awe of the city. The old buildings. The landscape. The fact that the roads are paved over horse trails so you know how our ancestors must have traveled. (And they must have been lost ALL THE TIME with the crazy roads around here!)

It’s been a mild winter, which I think has helped the transition. We’ve only had two snowstorms since we got here. One was last week, and it was pretty heavy. I had to dig myself out of my parking space, but in true Andrea fashion, didn’t account for the extra time that would take and of course it made me a little bit late for work. Miss A just loves the snow! I’m thinking she’ll enjoy it even more next winter if/when we have even more of it. Temperature-wise, it hasn’t been too bad. In fact, in a couple of days we’ll have temps in the 60s!

Some of the things we’ve done since we’ve been here:
– Saw Disney on Ice’s Dare to Dream at TD Garden (where the Bruins play)
– Visited four different shopping malls
– Had dinner at a few small, locally-owned restaurants
– Been to two different Unitarian Universalist churches. (Lucky us, there are about a million of them up here! We fit right in!)
– I got majorly lost in downtown Boston, as I mentioned before, which resulted in me driving past Northeastern University, Boston College, and some other college I can’t remember the name of, plus seeing a trolley for the first time in my life.
– Took the train to Quincy Market. Don’t call it Quin-see, by the way. It’s Qwyn-zee. The locals will look at you funny if you pronounce it wrong.
– Saw an outdoor pay toilet.
– Found an indoor playground for Miss A.
– Went to a birthday party for one of Miss A’s new daycare friends.
– Registered Miss A for K-1, which is something I didn’t know Boston had. Up here, kids basically start Kindergarten at age 4, and then have two years of it. AND, you get your pick of schools, as long as you register early and beat the lottery system.
– I’ve now taken a train, a bus, and the subway. I love public transportation.

I’m sure there are some things I’ve forgotten. But I have rambled on a LOT. How about some cute pictures!

 
Playing “vacation” with her Toy Story toys

 

The next few are from an indoor kids playground that we went to on a snowy day
Headed to our community playground

 

 

No worse feeling than this.

Last night as I was getting Angelica ready for her shower, she flipped out on me. Since she’s three, I’m used to her very, very regular freak-outs but this was something entirely different. The conversation went a little like this.

A – Mommy, I want to sleep in YOUR room.
Me – I know you do, but you need to sleep in your own bed. (She had been in our bed the night before and I got almost no sleep as a result.)
A – But I don’t LIKE my room. It’s scary!
Me – What’ so scary about your room?
A – It just IS! I want to sleep in your bed!
Me – Well, honey, I’ll stay with you for awhile.
A – But when you leave I’ll be all alone! And I don’t like my room! It’s scary! I want a DORA room!
(For those not in the know, before we moved, she had a Dora-themed room. It’s now Ladybugs, which is what she asked for when we moved.)

After she said that, it hit me all of a sudden what she was really saying. With three year olds, you have to read between the lines sometimes, and this was one of those times.

Me – Honey, do you just miss your old bedroom?
A – Yes! (Starts wailing)
Me – And your old house? And your old friends?
A – Yes! Yes yes yes!
Me – And your old school? And your old church?
A – Yes! (She really lost it at the mention of our old church. She loved it there so much.)

By this point, I’m already sitting with her on the floor, holding her in my lap while she sobs, big fat tears rolling down her cheeks. She buried her face in my shoulder and just wrapped her arms around my neck and cried and cried the saddest sounding cries while I patted her back and tried to soothe her.

I assured her mommy and daddy were there for her. And that we’d visit her friends, and our family back in Florida. And they would come visit us.

It was tough to hear that. In all honesty, while I love it here, I’ve been having a hard time adjusting to the not knowing anyone and it’s been lonely. I also miss my friends, my coworkers, my family, my church…but she seemed so happy. She was always saying she didn’t miss her old home or old friends, and she liked her new school (the last of which is probably true). She’s been SO giggly and happy. Little did I know she is JUST LIKE ME when it comes to her emotions. She buried her sadness and put on a happy face and just tried to fake it and eventually it became too much for her to bear.

Me – Angelica, sweetie, are you just lonely?
A – (calmer now, but still crying a little) Yes, I’m lonely.

So I told her we’d go out and meet people. And that I would always, always be there for her if she needed to talk. And that I know that sometimes, it’s hard to talk about the tough feelings but that I would always be happy to listen.

Later on, after I got her ready for bed:

Me – Do you feel better now that we talked?
A – Yes, I feel much better.
Me – Are you glad you told me how you were feeling?
A – Yes, it made me feel happier.

I’m so happy she felt better at the end of the night. I’m so glad we talked about it too. But there is truly no worse feeling than when your child is hurting and there’s nothing you can really do to make it all better.