Anne Geddes 2015 Calendar – Under The Sea

In just two days, I’ll be attending Blogger Bash in NYC to learn about the latest and greatest products and initiatives from hundreds of companies. It is going to be a great experience and Tanya Avery and I will be sharing with you what we learn along the way!

I’m SO excited that photographer Anne Geddes will there to unveil her latest project – Under The Sea: a 2015 calendar featuring images of babies as characters in their own underwater pantomime.

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Seriously…how cute is this little mermaid?

The 12 images in the calendar end with December’s grand finale The Great Barrier Reef – a tribute to Anne’s home country, Australia. I can’t wait to see it!

Anne Geddes, a world renowned photographer, has been capturing unique and beautiful images of children for years. I enjoyed her work before I became a mother. Now, with two children of my own, I respect and enjoy her talents even more.

It is a goal of mine to become a better photographer…to capture the feeling behind a subject, to bring out the beauty in what already exists  - to make people smile. Anne Geddes does this in such a beautiful way. She is truly Living Her Dream, pursuing her passion that started with a small studio in a garage behind her garden and has grown to include a body of work that is loved and enjoyed by millions of people.

What an inspiration.

You can learn more about her new calendar, Under the Sea, here.

I look forward to bringing you news from Blogger Bash soon!

 

 

 

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Blogger Bash Coffee Talk #BBYNC

Blogger

In a few days I’ll be headed to New York City for Blogger Bash! I’m very excited about all the fantastic brands and bloggers who are attending. It’s going to be an unbelievable couple of days and I can’t wait to see what’s in store!

I love New York. I was born and raised upstate, but have been living in Houston since the 80′s. I love visiting the East Coast and I’m so excited to be traveling with Tanya this time. We only have three weeks until our triathlon, so we’ve planned a couple of Central Park runs while we are there. Since our trip is going to be pretty short, I promised her I wouldn’t go after my Life List item #18 , Audition for a Broadway Show. Instead, we are going to just see one!

Stephanie Glover, one of the fabulous folks helping to plan this event, has set up a blog link so participants can get to know each other before we arrive. So here goes….

1. Name
Jennifer Patrick

2. Where are you from?
Houston, Texas

3. How long have you been blogging?
About 4 years

4. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
I always say “I’m living the dream!” Sometimes I say it with sarcasm (when I’m cleaning up dog poop from the carpet) and sometimes I’m totally sincere (Disney with the family, 11 days in Paris and just playing at the pool with my kids!). When I turned 40 someone asked me how I felt. I said, “I’m STILL Living the Dream!”

5. What are you most looking forward to at Blogger Bash?
Meeting people! I love to visit with people and I can’t wait to see friends, meet fabulous bloggers and connect with awesome brands. And then there’s wine. I love wine.

6. What three words describe you the best?
Short (not tempered…literally short – I’m 4’10″!) , funny, energetic

7. Got kids? How many?
Yup – two of them! My son is 12 and my daughter is 8.

8. We all have a pet peeve. What is your #1?
I have a couple, but recently I watched someone clip her nails in the doctor’s waiting room. I’m going to go with that one. EWWWW!

9. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
There are so many people I’d like to visit with, but I’ve wanted to meet Meryl Streep since I was in high school theatre (#26 on my Life List!) She’s pretty awesome.

10. Show me your face!

(That’s me on the left and Tanya on the right!)

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Why I Run

The other day I had the worst. run. ever.

I started too late in the morning. By the time I hit the road it was already way too humid and hot for me and even though I know better, I also ate before I left so I started cramping right away.

My legs were like lead. Each stride was painful. I even tripped on the sidewalk and almost fell flat on my face.

So I stopped to walk. A lot. And I felt generally bad and I wondered the same thing I get asked a lot by others.

Why do I run?

The simple answer: for exercise. I lost a lot of weight through healthy eating and exercise a couple years ago and I won’t go back to where I was. I just can’t. (I’ve chronicled my weight loss journey on my blog. A good starting point is here.)

But it’s more than that.

I have trouble calling myself a “runner”. Real runners (to me) are fast, fit…they make running look effortless. I don’t “look” like a runner. I’m slow and haven’t ever felt a “runners high”, that kick of endorphins that makes running painless. I’m guess I’m just someone who often goes outside and moves awkwardly in a running like motion!

But I’ve been running all my life.

Starting as an awkward 6th grader in upstate New York, running gave me something to focus on. It wasn’t an expensive sport which was good because we didn’t have much money back then. When I moved to Houston in 8th grade, I continued running on the cross country and track teams, but it never came easy to me and I wasn’t particularly good. Plus – I discovered I had trouble sweating properly to effectively cool my body down, so I struggled with heat exhaustion.

In college and in my early twenties, I stopped running, But after gaining weight in the late 90′s, I started back up again. To get back in shape, I trained to walk a marathon in 1999. I ended up running it.

I ran for awhile after that, but I stopped again. And then a couple of years ago I found myself at the heaviest and unhealthiest point of my life.

So I changed my eating habits and I started from scratch with the help of the Couch to 5K plan. (I can’t speak highly enough about this if you are just getting started!) It was as if I had never run before and I remember literally cussing out loud for the first couple of weeks as I started running for only a minute or two at a time.

But after a month I was able to complete a 5K without stopping and I felt proud. I signed up for several more 5Ks then some 10Ks….even a sprint triathlon last summer!  Running events give me a goal. My goal is always to finish. If I can run faster than I ran the last time, even better. But running a race, for me, is never about winning.

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Warning: I’m about to get a little sappy – bear with me. I’ve got a point and I’ll get to it quickly…I promise!!

Here’s the deal. I come from a long line of those who run away from problems. My biological left us when I was 7. My step-dad also left many years later.

I don’t run away physically, but mentally. My MO is to shut down when things get tough…too painful to deal with.

Running gives me something to run TO. When I make a goal to complete an event, I run towards meeting that goal. Along the way I have little goals: just make it to that corner, just make it to that stop sign (and in a race in Brenham) just make it to the cow! Running, for me, is extremely mental. Working through something physically challenging and seeing it through to the end…finishing, that’s when I get my reward…my “high”.

I’m  a little frustrated right now because during the last nine months I was on assignment and wasn’t able to run that much. So lately it’s been like starting over. Again.

And it’s hard. But it’s healing.

So while my run the other day was bad, I got up a little earlier the next day and ran again. And I didn’t eat before I left. And I did better.

Why do I run?

Crazily pursue this thing that I know I’ll never really be good at….that will always be a challenge and will never come easy?

I think I run because of just that…because it IS hard. And that I’m blessed with air in my lungs and two legs to move me forward.

I’m not graceful, nor fast – but I’m a runner.

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Do you run? What keeps you going? 

 

 

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Lifescript.com: Help For Those Dealing with Depression

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This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.

StillLivingTheDream Lifescript Depression

I recently heard about a great online resource, Lifescript.com, which provides medical information, tips and advice that are all written by professional health writers, experts and physicians….including resources that someone who is feeling depressed would benefit from including articles about depression causes and therapies.

I’ve suffered from symptoms related to stress and anxiety throughout my life. Even as a child, especially after my parent’s divorce when I was seven, I had a lot of worry and anxiety. During my first job out of college I coordinated national activities for children with cancer and I started to have trouble with panic attacks and depression. I would travel for work and suffer from extreme headaches that wouldn’t go away and panic attacks where I thought I was going to die. I managed it, but it was difficult.

I had my first baby, my sweet son Jackson, when I was 30 years old. At the time I was a director at a prestigious children’s hospital. A difficult pregnancy in which Jackson was diagnosed in-utero with a kidney problem and problematic delivery caused me to spiral into Post-Partum Depression (PPD).

The first several months after his birth was one of the most challenging times of my life. I had the most beautiful child whom I loved dearly but for reasons I didn’t understand, I couldn’t stop crying. It started as soon as I delivered him via emergency c-section after being in labor for 12 hours and unable to deliver naturally. After his birth in the middle of the night (he was immediately put on antibiotics for his kidney condition), I had to wait several hours to hold him when I immediately tried, without success to breast feed him.

It broke my heart. My first attempts at being a mother and I was already failing miserably.

Jackson's birth - 2001

Jackson’s birth – 2001

I remember being in my hospital room in the early hours of the morning by myself and sobbing. A doctor visited me and asked me if I thought I was going to hurt myself or my baby. I knew from working in a hospital that this question was standard operating procedure, but it felt like an insult to injury. How could the doctor ask if I wanted to hurt him, I just wanted to take care of my baby and I felt so bad that I couldn’t even deliver him or feed him naturally and he already had a medical problem to contend with.

The next several months at home were a fog. I spent the first weeks still trying desperately to breast-feed him. I hired a lactation consultant (who told me if I gave up I would be making a huge mistake for my baby), rented a scale that would accurately capture Jackson’s weight before and after feeding him and pumped around the clock…all to no avail. I remember being so deflated when I read the outside of the baby formula can that said a mother’s milk is best for your baby. Tears streaming down my face I told my husband, “they are trying to market this stuff and even they agree that I’m not giving him what he needs!” I irrationally worried that my baby would hold these failures against me and wouldn’t love me.

With help from medical professionals through depression therapies including medication and Psychological counseling as well as a return to my faith, I was able to overcome PPD. But it was a long road and I really felt robbed of those first several months with my precious child. There were moments of joy, but I was overcome with fear and sadness that I just couldn’t explain to anyone. Some family and friends distanced themselves from me, I suppose because they didn’t know what to do or couldn’t understand what I was going through.

I remember going through the motions and walking Jackson in his stroller around the block even though I was crying. If a neighbor was outside I panicked. I didn’t want anyone to see me in the state I was in. I was so ashamed of what I was going through… the stigma associated with depression is so unfair.

According to Tom Cruise, I should have just been able to exercise and take vitamins and I would be fine. (Which is completely untrue and so irresponsible for him to say. Exercise and a healthy diet is helpful for sure, but is not a cure all for PPD.)

Annie's birth - 2006

Annie’s birth – 2006

My experience caused me to wait a lot longer than my husband and I had planned to have a second child. In an effort to avoid feeling depressed again, I took proactive steps to make my delivery and first hours with Annie more successful. I didn’t even try to breastfeed or deliver naturally. Instead I had a doula who I visited several times while pregnant and then she came to the hospital after I delivered to give me massages. I also had a lot of skin-on-skin contact with Annie, especially when I fed her.

Depression pops up from time-time and I deal with it the best I can. When in the middle of a depressive episode, I feel so alone. But one thing I learned form Lifescript.com is that one of every 10 U.S. adults suffer from it. It helps  that I know from past experience that I can get to the other side, so I don’t feel as desperate when it happens. Better health and exercise has helped me as well and I’m on medication for my thyroid, one of the things that contributed to my depression.

I wish that I had Lifescript.com 12 years ago when first dealing with PPD. Information on the website about managing depression and anxiety and getting support is very helpful. With my recent substantial weight loss and integrating exercise into my daily routine, I also found the section about health and nutrition very informative and can’t wait to try out some of the Six Mood Boosting recipes they suggest as well as a Buffalo Chicken Wrap that looks delicious and is very healthy. I also want to start using flaxseed which has a variety of health benefits including help with symptoms of menopause (like depression); which isn’t too terribly far down the road for me!

Do you want to find more posts relating to depression? Check out these articles related on Lifescript.

  1. Is it New-Mom Blues or Postpartum Depression?
  2. Anxiety
  3. Living with Depression: Nutrition and Exercise

Are  you suffering from PPD/Depression and/or anxiety? Please know that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t feel like you are alone or that you have to get well by yourself. Confide in a friend and/or family member and seek help from a professional. I understand. I’ve been there. Know this…things will get better.

Lifescript’s Depression Health Center features tips, quizzes, recipes and articles – all by professional health writers, experts and physicians – covering postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, how to boost your mood with exercise and more. Please visit the Lifescript Health Center on depression for more information.

And to check out this free website, click here!

This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Allergy Control with Aerus Lux Guardian Air Purifier

I had so much fun recently at Disney World. While there, I noticed that just one thing was missing.

My sniffles.

Maybe it was all that Disney Magic and Pixie Dust…but a week in Florida and I was symptom-free.

I’m back in Texas now…suffering from post-vacation blues AND sinus pressure. Clearly, I’m allergic to Houston!

Starting with the big, ol’, beautiful oak tree in my front yard, I have several environmental allergies I’m trying to contend with. Getting my allergies under control, #52 on my Life List, has been something I’ve been working on for several years now with weekly allergy shots. They are helping, but I still suffer from sinus pressure, congestion and other symptoms.

StillLivingTheDream Aerus LuxGuardian

Almost exactly a year ago, I did a review of the Lux Guardian Air Platinum air purifier by Aerus. It has been proven to be a really good solution for dealing with pollen and other allergens we track in from the outside in addition to the dust in the air. I was sad to give it back when my review ended. As I mentioned, it’s definitely an investment in your health. I’m starting to see that it might be a good one for me to make.

I called Nancy to see if any changes had been made to the unit since I last got to try it out. She said it got a spiffy makeover with a new stainless steel outside cover but while it looks cooler, it still works the same. Aerus (started as Electolux) has been helping people eliminate household dust, mold spores, pollen and pet dander since 1924.

How the Lux Guardian works:

  • Airborne particles enter the unit by the UV lamp.
  • UV light strikes the titanium dioxide coated particle filter creating a photo-catalytic oxidation reaction.
  • Ion brushes enrich the air with negative ions.
  • The HepaSilent particle filter traps microscopic particles while allowing pure air to pass through.
  • A powerful motor pulls the newly cleaned air out of the Guardian Air.
  • Clean air is reintroduced into the room.

What I like about it:

  • It’s Energy Star Certified - using 23 to 80 watts…no more than a lightbulb. I can run the machine all day!
  • It’s made to last but comes with a one year warranty just in case!
  • It’s easy to use and the filter only needs to be changed every year.
  • It covers up to 2,000 square feet.
  • It’s recognized by the FDA as a Class II Medical Device and recommended by doctors

A friend of mine has the air purifier swears by it. Her son suffered from asthma for several years and after just a short time using the Lux Guardian air filtration system, he is now completely symptom-free and off medication. Impressive!

 StilLivingTheDream LuxAngel

They also make a smaller purifier called the Lux Guardian Angel which is perfect for a bedroom. The filter on this purifier only needs to be replaced every three to five years. I like that this one has a place to add essential oils which makes the room smell pretty while it’s cleaning the air.

If you want to learn more about the company and air purifier you can visit Aerus but for special pricing and details, be sure to contact Nancy at 713-898-4245 or email nwahmhoff@gmail.com.

Do you suffer from allergies? What do you do to ease symptoms?

I used a loaner Lux Guardian air filtration system for several weeks in order to review the product to see if I wanted to purchase it. I did not receive any compensation for this post.

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Getting Some Sleep With Technogel

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon

Upon my pillow, safe in bed
A thousand pictures fill my head
I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight
And yet my limbs seem made of lead

If there are noises in the night
A frightening shadow, flickering light
Then I surrender unto sleep
Where clouds of dream give second sight

What dreams may come, both dark and deep
Of flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep,
As I surrender unto sleep.

Sleep by Charles Anthony Silvestri

Leaving Pop Century to catch the Magic Express back to the airport to go home.

Leaving Pop Century to catch the Magic Express back to the airport to go home.

I’m still in denial that my trip to Disney is over.

I keep waking up wondering why there’s no bus outside my room ready to whisk me away to the Magic Kingdom and perplexed because no one in Houston refers to me as princess. I also have the strange urge to trade pins with shop owners but all I get are blank stares from the folks at Barnes and Noble when I show them my laynard and ask them if they have any “Cindy’s” to trade.

Also – there needs to be a fast pass at the grocery store check-out line on Sunday.

Just saying.

One thing that IS good about being home is getting back to sleep with my Technogel pillow.

technogel pillow without cover

technogel pillow without cover

For the last month or so I’ve been sleeping on a Anatomic Technogel pillow for side/back sleepers. (They also offer three other types of pillows as well as a pillow and collar for travel.)

Before that…for longer than I care to admit, I had been sleeping on this “pillow”.

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Very un-pillow looking, right?

Gee. I wonder why I wasn’t get a good night’s rest?

Weird. Doesn’t look very supportive, does it?

Sometimes you have to get to the point where you are almost never able to sleep to step away from the scenerio and see what  you are doing wrong. This pillow is all kinds of wrong. It was inexpensive…but not even worth the little money I spent on it.

Hand-in-Technogel

The secret to Technogel is their patented gel that molds itself to each person’s different body structure. Unlike foam or memory foam, Technogel doesn’t get warm from the heat your body generates while you sleep. In fact, it actually feels cool due to its because unique thermal properties.

With my old pillow, I used to squash and fold my pillow a billion times throughout the night to try to get it to support my neck.

me on pillow collage

My technogel with cover

With Technogel I just lie down and relax. My neck is supported and feels so comfortable whether I’m on my back or side (I switch positions fairly often during the night). It’s crazy what a difference it makes!

Technogel is extremely durable and lasts much longer than the average pillow on the market. Covered by a three-year warranty, Technogel pillows aren’t ones you have to replace often.

Take the pillow challenge!

Are you sleeping on a pillow that is past it’s expiration date? Take this simple test; fold your pillow in half and see if it springs back to its original shape. If not, it’s time to get a new one.

I’m not sure what the original shape of my old pillow was. But there was no “springing” action of any kind when I folded it. It kind of just sat there. So sad!

Getting a comfortable pillow that supports the way I sleep has been a crucial component to my fight with insomnia. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve started to change many things about my bedtime routine and behavior, the set-up of my room and the inclusion of items that help me sleep (and removal of things that don’t). In my first post, I shared information about the Dohm White Noise Maker that helps lull me to sleep by blocking irritating noises. (I hope it’s also helping the two lucky Still Living The Dream readers who recently won one to try themselves!) I can’t wait to hear how they are doing with it!

My new Technogel pillow is the second reason why I’m beginning to get a good night’s rest. While it’s disappointing (but understandable) that no one calls me princess since I got back from Disney, because of Technogel…at least I’m sleeping like one!

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Do you sleep like a princess? What kind of pillow do you use and are you happy with the support it provides? If not, you should be! To find out where you can purchase a Technogel pillow, visit their store locator .

I received a Technogel pillow to review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. 

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We Are Doing The 2013 Summer Bucket List Challenge! (Happy Family Movement)

summer bucket list challenge main photo

Last year when I heard about the Summer Family Bucket List Challenge by The Happy Family Movement, I immediately signed up. We sat down together as a family and brainstormed things we wanted to do during summer vacation. (You can see my list here)

The challenge is back this summer and you can sign up here. We did! It officially begins on May 20, 2013 and you can enter to win prizes, get inspired by other family’s bucket lists, view adventure guides as well as have access to other travel resources. There’s even a facebook community you can join!

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Colorado Summer Road Trip

Last year I made a garland with each activity listed on a separate index card attached with a mini clothespin. After we did the activity, we’d put up something from the activity by the card (like a program, ticket stub, photo or brochure) and by the end of the summer we had a very fun, visual way to remember our summer vacation! I decided to do something similar this year as well.

The year before last, without a plan in place, the summer ended in a blink of an eye and all those things we had in our brains that we wanted to do, never got done. While we didn’t accomplish EVERYTHING on our bucket list last summer, we did most of them and I really have the Summer Bucket List Challenge to thank.

We are so excited about this year and my kids (my 7-year-old daughter, Annie, and 11-year-old son, Jackson), my husband and I are already thinking about fun things to do with the extra time off. We are crossing a BIG bucket list item off our list before summer even starts. We have a trip to DisneyWorld planned in May! We’ve never been and we are so excited! I also have a bucket list trip  to Paris in June planned with my mom and two sisters. It’s always been my mom’s dream to go. She is retiring this year and we are taking her abroad to celebrate the beginning of the new journey in her life!

But the bucket list challenge isn’t just about big vacations and high-dollar trips. In fact, it’s more about the little things that we feel we’ll always have time to do so we never really do them…like taking a picnic in the park, a bike ride on the beach… or a neighborhood walk to feed the ducks! You can in this post see we crossed this one off our list right as summer started (and you can get a glimpse of the my index card garland)!

Some of the items we didn’t get to like fishing and visiting the observatory have made it on this year’s list. Annie  has been bugging me since last summer to learn to sew and I keep telling her “when we have more time”. So, you guessed it, it’s on our  2013 summer bucket list and we plan to take a class together in July.

Since I work from home full-time and my husband works from home part-time, we have more flexibility to do things like take a family bike ride or a short swim at the neighborhood pool. Our lives have changed a bit since last summer, too. I lost 55 pounds and embarked on a healthier lifestyle which we have all embraced. We ran our first fun run together last weekend and we have many items on our list this year that are more physically challenging then ever before (like participating in a mud run, going water skiing and trying to parasail).

Really though, the items on the list aren’t the most important things about the summer bucket list. Whether or not we go fishing this year (although we hope to!) isn’t what it’s really about (at least to us). What it means to us is to make time to do things together as a family. So many times during the school year we get going in a million directions with homework and after-school activities like scouts and sports… we don’t have time to really visit. Carving out time to do things together during the summer months when time is more on our side is a great way to re-connect. Even planning the outing or trip together can be a fun time in itself!

(If a visit to Aquatica or SeaWorld is on your Summer Bucket List, visit about our trip last year here when we crossed it off our list. We included tips that might help you plan your visit!)

The Patrick Family’s 2013 Summer Bucket List

summer bucket list challenge collage

Ice Cream Cone free printable tag artwork by Amy Moss
  1. Go to the beach
  2. Go fishing
  3. Visit the observatory to see the stars
  4. Go water skiing
  5. Go bird watching
  6. Do a mud run
  7. Go parasailing
  8. Participate in 2 family fun runs
  9. Learn to sew
  10. Sculpt with clay
  11. Keep a journal
  12. Have “date nights” both time for mom and dad to go out alone, plus time for each parent to spend time with each child doing something fun
  13. See a concert with lawn seats at The Woodlands Pavilion
  14. Invite a different family over for dinner every couple of weeks
  15. Have a talent show
  16. Pitch a tent in the backyard and “go camping” Make smores and tell ghost stories.
  17. Face our Fears – pick a thing we  each have always wanted to do but were afraid to … and try it
  18. Go snorkeling
  19. Go to Aquatica and try out some new adventures in San Antonio while we are in town
  20. Go to the Drive-In Movies
I was not compensated for this post. I’m just sharing  great summer resources available because I love the program and want you to have the best summer ever!
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Getting Relief From Spring Allergies (Giveaway)

Ah, Spring time in Houston….it can be a beautiful thing.

The sun is shining, the weather is nice (not too hot, not too cold) … perfect for enjoying the outdoors with my family.

Or is it?!

Unfortunately my favorite time of the year brings along some of the worst allergens and my big, beautiful Oak tree in my front yard is one of the biggest culprits!

I’ve suffered from them for as long as I’ve lived here. Getting them under control is on my life list and I’ve blogged about my experience with getting tested. For about a year and half I’ve been getting weekly shots in order to prevent suffering from symptoms related to allergies and I’m really happy to report that things are getting better. This spring has been less severe for me, but I still have some symptoms that cause me problems.

SPRING

I talked with VSP Vision Care optometrist, Dr. Jing Han, who is based in Folsom, California, at Healthy Eyes Optometry to find out how seasonal allergies can impact eyes and what people can do to help them through the Spring allergy season.

Jenn: What symptoms do most patients experience from allergies regarding eyes

Dr. Han: Symptoms include itching, watery eyes, swelling and redness. They are generally not dangerous to the eyes but can be extremely uncomfortable if left untreated. There are some bacterial infections that can be mistaken as an allergic reaction that are very dangerous, like pre-septal cellulitis and orbital cellulitis, which need immediate attention. This is why it is important to have your eyes checked by an optometrist in order to rule out any symptoms that could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Jenn: Is there anything that people should be mindful of when thinking about over-the-counter allergy remedies/treatments in relation to eye health?

Dr. Han: Although there are many over-the-counter irritation “relief” eye drops to choose from, not all are meant to serve as an allergy remedy. I love it when my patients just call or e-mail me to ask what over-the-counter remedies is best for them specially. My response typically is one or two different brands that you can get over-the-counter, but I also take that opportunity to let them know that there are prescription allergy eye drops that are usually more effective. Ask your optometrist before you start using any eye medications.

Jenn: What can we do to protect our eyes during allergy season this spring?

Dr. Han: Be mindful of what you may be allergic to and try to avoid those things, always wash your hands to remove allergens before handling contacts or touching near your eyes and wear sunglasses! Sunglasses provide a barrier from allergens while also blocking harmful UV light.

Personally, I don’t ever go outside without sunglasses on. My eyes have always been a bit sensitive to sunlight. Dr. Han said that light-colored eyes allow more light rays to reach the retina, because there is less pigment in the iris to absorb them. As a result people (like me) experience more brightness from the same amount of sunlight. Interesting!

daisy giveaway

Do you need a stylish way to protect your eyes during allergy season? A lucky Still Living The Dream reader can follow Dr. Han’s advice AND look great doing it with a free pair of designer sunglasses valued at $110.00! Just leave a comment about how you deal with seasonal allergies. A winner will be selected at random May 2, 2013, at 11:59 CST.

Want more chances to win? Just leave a separate comment for EACH that you do below!

  1. Follow Still Living The Dream on Pinterest
  2. Follow Still Living The Dream on Twitter
  3. Like Still Living The Dream on Facebook
  4. Tweet this: “I want to win a pair of $110 designer sunglasses to protect my eyes from allergens http://tinyurl.com/bwua8vl @VSPvisioncare @jpatrickcomm”
I did not receive any compensation for this post. I appreciate VSP Vision Care for providing valuable information about seasonal allergies and for providing a pair of sunglasses for a lucky Still Living The Dream reader. 
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Easter and Mantels and Disney…Oh My!

Happy Easter! Yes, I know it’s a little late – but I wanted to share my Easter mantel with you before I take it down.

 easter mantel

Remember that Robin’s Egg Blue paint/ 4-alarm crafting emergency I talked about in this post? There’s the finished product in the photo to the left. All glittery and tied up with a bow!

Annie made the blue glove bunny in the photo on the right. So cute!

And see those green, blue and purple “bowls”/baskets? Here’s the skinny on those. They are doilies that I bought at Michael’s and were on sale for 50 cents a piece. I used a solution of sugar and water and shaped them over a small blown up balloon until they dried. Presto – a cute little basket. The best part? Now that Easter’s over all I have to do it rinse them out in the sink then wash them and I have cloth doilies to use for another project or decoration. Seriously – brilliant!

I have a feeling the white coffee filter wreath I made at Christmas is going to be around for awhile. I’ve changed out the bow three times to fit the holiday/season. It’s such an easy decoration.

I can’t wait to modify it for my next mantel display theme….Disney!

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I was invited to attend this year’s Disney Social Media Moms conference in Orlando. I am so excited I can’t stand it. It is such an honor to be able to go and I can’t wait to meet the speakers and participants. I’ve already had the awesome opportunity to be a guest on Disney Mentor Moms and to share my life lessons on the fabulous Rene Syler’s blog, Good Enough Mother.

I know I’m going to learn so much and I’m beyond thrilled to be able to take my family along with me to experience Disney World (Life List Number 19!)

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We shared our big news to the kids on Easter through a scavenger hunt. Clues led them to a big poster, Mickey Mouse t-shirts, signs for their bedroom doors and a countdown display.  They were completely surprised and are so excited to be going to Disney World for the first time. It’s been a blessing to have this to look forward to as we have faced some challenges this season we’ve struggled with at school.

Annie is in awe of Cinderella and can’t wait to meet her “at her own house!” – the castle at Magic Kingdom! She’s already written her a letter to tell her we are coming to see her!

We’ve been pouring over information about visiting each of the four parks at Disney World. It can be a bit overwhelming to plan a visit – there is so much to see and do!!

Have you been to Disney World? What is your best advice for planning a vacation at the happiest place on earth? Anything we have to see or do? Do you have tips to making the most of each day at each park? What is your favorite memory of your Disney vacation? Come on, share! I want to hear it all!!

I paid a conference fee to attend Disney’s Social Media Moms Conference in May. I was not asked to post about the trip nor have I received any compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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Meeting A Goal and Moving Forward

I Did It!

That’s me jumping for joy. I’m a happy girl because after 7 months, I reached my goal weight!

54.4 pounds.

Gone.

Which is a pretty big deal for a short gal like me.

And I feel so much better. I have more energy. My joints and back don’t hurt. I can breathe better at night.

(Although I will never own up to snoring. Ever. Even though Ed said he has proof. Which kinda freaks me out.)

I know that my hard work and lifestyle changes which have included making better food choice and daily exercise have gotten me to where I am now but that really, this is just the beginning. Even though I’ve reached my goal, I want this to mark the beginning of a life that is active, healthful and fun. While I still have a sweet tooth and I struggle with stress eating…I will continue to strive to eat well and enjoy treats in moderation.

But exercise is something I actually love to do now! I’m excited about making plans to do things that push me physically and keep me active. In April I want to do a 5K with my entire family and in May I plan to do a 10K mud run with my friends. I’m also thinking about a local tri-atholon and I am definitely going to run the Princess half-marathon at Disney in February 2014!

(Jennifer, you lost 55 pounds….where are you going now? DISNEY WORLD!)

Since I dropped 6 dress sizes (yikes!!) I’ve needed to add some new things to my wardrobe. While this is extremely exciting (new clothes… YAY!) and shopping for clothes now that I’m healthier is more fun, it’s also expensive. So I’ve been spacing out my spending and doing a lot of online shopping to catch great looking clothes at a good price.

Here are some things I have my eye on right now:

I love this red tankini from Spiegel. It’s been a long time since I got excited about swim suit weather and (at least in Houston), it’s just around the corner. This is such a fun and flattering suit at a great price! I’m loving the gold accents.

This copper metallic dress is so cool. I love the 50s/60s vibe and the clean look. This would be fun for a summer party and a great way to show off my arms that I’ve been working hard toning up!

This pant suit is all kinds of awesome. I always wanted to wear something like this and I’m thinking now’s the time. I love the built-in Power Mesh bodysuit that keeps everything “put” because while I may have lost weight, I still have some serious toning to do in the middle. I love that this piece is both bold but forgiving! I’m guessing I’ll have to hem the pants about 6 inches, though!!

Check out Spiegel for some good deals on swim suits, dresses and other fun pieces to build your spring wardrobe. And if you are in between sizes because you are losing weight or just need to keep things “together!” like me….check out their Shape FX line with power mesh in all the right places (like the disco-era pant suit above) so you’ll look awesome!

What clothes are on your radar right now for Spring?

How do you find good deals on line and in stores?

Disclosure: Thank you to Spiegel for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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