John Cena from his 10 Weeks BodyChange program

John Cena is My Personal Coach for the Next 10 Weeks

I am VERY excited to make this announcement – so excited, in fact, that I’m being called out by my friends for a vaguebook update that I did while I was prepping for this post:

Here’s my super exciting news…

John Cena is going to be my personal coach for the next 10 weeks!

John Cena from his 10 Weeks BodyChange program

You know by now that my family loves wrestling, right? While I’m not always able to watch it live, we do record WWE shows and even attend live shows when they’re in our area. One of my very favorite wrestlers is John Cena – I happen to also have an autographed picture of him that I picked up at the first live show that my husband took me to in Fort Wayne. So when I was contacted about his new 10 Weeks BodyChange program, I replied enthusiastically and agreed to share with you, my dear readers, my progress during the 10 weeks in return for a complimentary membership to the program. Today is day 1 of the first week of my BodyChange!

Here’s why I’m excited to try this program:

  • It’s John Cena’s program – that means that each week he sends a set of personal videos to the subscribers. The videos outline a nutritious diet and also contain recipes that he developed.
  • John Cena workouts – each week, another video has Cena leading a workout that he developed. The workouts are 20 minutes each and are done twice a week.
  • It focuses on nutrition, exercise and motivation – here’s a direct quote from the information for week 1: “Your formula for a sexy body is 70% nutrition + 30% exercise“. Not only do I totally agree, but it’s exactly the same advice that has worked well for me in the past and for my Mamavation Sistas.
  • It worked for Cena’s family – family fitness is a huge topic for me. While I lost 40 pounds with Mamavation, my husband has lost 110 pounds! We’re very focused on teaching our children to eat well, workout, and stay positive to help healthy brain development and avoid health problems. Cena created this program after his father had health problems related to being overweight. His father has used the program and lost 50 pounds! That is awesome!

Here’s a video with the story of John Cena’s father:

With all of my favorite topics covered (nutrition, exercise, motivation, and family), I knew that this would be an excellent fit for me. After my hip injury during training for a half marathon, I’ve been down in the dumps about my exercise program, so this is just the kick in the butt that I need to get back on track.

Details you need to know about the program:

  • The program lasts 10 weeks
  • It is focused on fitness, nutrition, and motivation
  • It promotes a healthy lifestyle change
  • It is primarily focused on females (but males can do it too!)
  • It is meant to jumpstart healthy lifestyle choices rather than being a quick fix
  • It costs $99

If you would like to check out more about the program, I highly encourage you to check out this link (this is an affiliate link – if you purchase through this link, I receive compensation) 10 Weeks BodyChange, I would love to have some friends go through the program with me!

Here’s a quick video that shows some of the best parts of the 10 Weeks BodyChange:

What are you doing for fitness? Would you like a 10 week program? Ready to start your 10 Weeks BodyChange? Click here to order through my affiliate link!

Disclosure: I am receiving a complimentary membership to the program in return for posting about my progress and my review of the program. In addition, I have included an affiliate link in this post that is labeled as such because when the program is purchased through that link, I will be eligible for compensation.

Big Kid App Review and Giveaway

Pull-Ups Big Kid App Review and Celebration Kit Giveaway

This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Pull Ups.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

 Big Kid App Review and Giveaway

It wasn’t all that long ago that I posted about the Top 5 Tips from Potty Training Experts from the Pull-Ups webinar that I attended, and before that I told you about the Pull-Ups Madrinas del Baño campaign of which I am a member. Today I’m both happy and a little sentimental about posting my last Pull-Ups post for the campaign. We’ve had a great time with the Pull-Ups products, and it was very timely for us as my little man decided he was very interested in potty training during the campaign. That was a little sentimental for me too – I have to face it, my baby is growing up! So today the fun part is telling you how we used the Pull-Ups goodies and that you can check out the same stuff we did because I’m giving away a prize pack because Pull-Ups believes every try deserves a little celebration!

my boys celebrating with pull-upsAnd by prize pack, I really mean party pack! I’m sure by now you’ve seen Pull-Ups commercials with the celebration for the First Flush, right? In this pack, you’ll find everything you need to throw an awesome potty party – there are training pants, flushable wipes, a Disney character softee toilet seat, party hats, noisemakers, stickers, a potty tracking chart, coloring pages, and even one of the reusable Pull-Ups stickers. What’s special about the sticker you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! You scan it with your tablet or phone and use it with the Pull-Ups Big Kids app to have a 3D celebration as part of your potty training. But that’s not all!

My boys loved the Big Kids app. Actually, my older son who has been potty trained since before the second one was born likes it the best. He thought it was really neat to be able to take his picture with a Woody picture frame and he’s playing the Buzz Lightyear game now. My youngest, the one who is actually potty training, loved receiving a call from Tow Mater, but he was overall not as enthused about the app as my oldest. I enjoyed reading the articles and tips, but my favorite part is the potty timer. I’m awful at remembering to take the kids potty so having a timer works for me. I was a little disappointed that the app didn’t work on my new cell phone which has Jelly Bean, but it does work on my older Android.

celebrating every flushSo that’s what we’ve done with the potty training and Pull-Ups! In fact, my parents actually used the Disney character softee toilet seat when we went to Chicago recently. They didn’t seem too overwhelmed by the potty training business, but we did take the advice I learned in the webinar to make sure that everyone is on the same page with our potty training technique so that the child won’t be confused. And our son seems completely unphased by being gone, so it seems like a success all around! He’s still interested in going, so I’m going to keep up with it!

So what can you do? Use Resources: Download helpful tools and resources such as the Pull-Ups Big Kid App which helps parents with potty training. Check out Pull-Ups on Facebook to learn more and don’t forget to watch the YouTube video! And if you’d like to have a rockin’ Every Flush celebration, be sure to enter my giveaway below!


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Review of Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy

Disney on Ice in #FortWayneRockinEverAfter

Review of Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy

Last week we had the pleasure of heading down to Fort Wayne to catch the Disney on Ice show “Worlds of Fantasy” with our boys and my sister-in-law. You may recall me talking about coupon codes and even a ticket giveaway that I ran last month for the same show. We had talked about it so much that it was really exciting to finally see it! So here’s what we thought about the show…

Our oldest and my sister in law at disney on iceThe show opened with the Mickey Mouse gang on skates, which was very exciting for our oldest who is nearly 5 and loves Mickey Mouse. They were followed by the Cars characters who are not his favorite, but watching the cars spin around was very fun. We kept wondering how exactly those cars were skating – were they remote-controlled or were there people hiding inside? The Little Mermaid was not one of my son’s favorite characters – I don’t think he’s ever heard of Ariel before, but my sister-in-law and I were definitely enjoying it! I also discovered that I still know all the words to her songs… The show really lost his concentration when the Fairies came out. I didn’t even realize there were more fairies than just Tinkerbell – having only boys has apparently left that movie out of my repertoire! The girls in the crowd definitely loved it, and some of my friends who have girls were looking forward to that segment.

One part that both of my boys agreed was fantastic was when the Toy Story gang appeared. And let me tell you – from a health and fitness standpoint, those Army guys were ridiculously amazing! They were doing Superman push ups in ICE SKATES. I’m not even kidding you, if there was one highlight for me about the evening, it was seeing that feat. Now, if you know me, you may know that I’ve become a runner which is amusing in its own right because I can barely walk without falling over. But ice skate? Holy cow. You could never find me in those… Of course, I said the same about running, but still. Maybe one day I will be able to do Superman push ups, but I highly doubt I could do them in ice skates! Still, it was very impressive. But my boys really preferred the rest of the Toy Story characters.

da dog tank telling his dad about slinky dogOur youngest, Tank, was pretty content hanging out most of the evening, and although he was watching the show he was really more interested in watching the other people around us and eating popcorn. He’s not quite 2 yet, so for him I was just amazed that he was sitting still. When Slinky Dog came out, he started saying “Da – Dog, Da – Dog” over and over and over… He just really wanted to point out to his dad that there was a dog in the room. While it was completely adorable to us, I’m sure it was probably annoying to the other people around us because he literally continued on with that for just about the entire time that the Toy Story folks were out there.

Our oldest has always loved Toy Story, so it was no surprise to us that he really enjoyed that section of the show. He did a great job – actually, both boys did a great job – staying seated and not freaking out when the lights went down. They did get pretty tired toward the end of the night, but since it wasn’t a school night, it wasn’t a big deal for us. They had a wonderful time – and you know as parents, that makes the difference for you! Our seats were back in the club seats because I waited until the last-minute to trade in the vouchers (and while I knew I’d not receive excellent seats, I was very disappointed in the attitude of the ticket counter who were very rude and then expected us to thank them for their treatment), but the wait staff was fantastic and definitely smoothed over the small bump in the road that happened at the beginning of the night.

Overall, we definitely loved the show and will go again next year! The boys will probably enjoy it more next year, since the baby will be older, but they enjoyed it now too. As always, it’s very helpful to have at least one other adult present to help corral them and make potty trips easier, so if you’re planning to go, I would recommend having an extra adult. We went with 3 adults this time, and it worked out pretty well, although sometimes I think my sister-in-law may have enjoyed it even MORE than my boys!

Disclosure: I received a family 4-pack of ticket vouchers to review this performance, however my opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.

Stretch Island Fruit Strips

Stretch Island Fruit Strips: Non-GMO Pre-Workout Snack (and Valentine!)

We recently discovered that my oldest son has another food issue – this time with Red 40. While it’s a dye that is pretty common in candies and processed foods, it took us a while to find out about it because he just doesn’t have those foods very often. In fact, it was a combination of the dye in a bubble bath AND in juice that brought the issue to light for us. Ever since, I have been very careful when responding to inquiries about reviewing food products. Not only do I have to check and make sure that they are safe with his peanut allergy, I also have to make sure that they’re safe with the dye issue. When I was introduced to Stretch Island Fruit Strips, I was super excited to find out that they were not only peanut-free, they were also Red 40-free!

One of the food genres that drives me batty is the pre-workout snack. I used to love me some peanut butter snacks. The Pinterest energy bite snacks that I find recipes for almost always have peanut butter in them. Yes, I could just switch the recipe out for sunflower butter (or some other non-peanut-butter), but those can be very pricey. It may just be because of my rural area that they’re so salty in price (haha), but I’m cheap and I just can’t stand the idea of using all that sunflower butter on myself when my son could be eating it. So I was looking up pre-workout snacks the other day, and I was delighted to discover that fruit leathers were on the list of excellent treats. What could be better than a quick and easy Stretch Island Fruit Strip before a workout? And there’s another bonus…

Since genetically modified foods started appearing in the marketplace and in fields, my mom has been vocal about her distrust and lack of approval of these foods. She has a degree in food science, has worked in schools, is an amazing cook, and lets me learn from her about what foods are good and bad. In fact, if I would’ve paid a little more attention to what she was showing me about nutrition before, I wouldn’t be needing to lose weight now! But anyway, she’s always been anti-GMO and I’ve heard for years why and how they are bad for people. And now that it’s starting to be mainstream to question GMOs, we’re seeing some awesome new products surfacing. Like Stretch Island Fruit Strips – they are non-GMO which puts them on my “Yes, Please!” list.

Not only do I love these snacks because they’re healthy, non-GMO, dye-free and peanut-free, I also love them because my kids will eat them. Having a “treat” to give my kids that isn’t full of nasty ingredients is a huge perk. And since they’re a guilt-free treat, I don’t mind giving them to other kids, even as a Valentine! If you’re looking for a healthy Valentine treat this year, give Stretch Island Fruit Strips a try, and there are plenty of flavors to choose from, I haven’t found one yet that I didn’t like.

Stretch Island Fruit Strips

What is your go-to pre-workout snack? What healthy treats will you be serving up for Valentine’s Day?

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The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

To guarantee that I will be interested in a book, one does not usually have to give too many details. But if you tell me that it’s a novel about cooking, there’s no question – I’ll be hooked. What really makes my day though, is when one of those books goes beyond merely entertaining and enters the region of a “book I can’t put down” or “book I will find a permanent home for on my bookshelf” – those books are much fewer and farther between. With her elegant prose, well-rounded characters and fascinating imagery, Erica Bauermeister makes literary magic in The Lost Art of Mixing.

My love of reading started by finding an escape into a new world, a new life, a new time and place where I could let my imagination run free. While almost every fiction book provides the same sort of outlet, there are not as many that take that outlet to a higher level, to a place where the story stays with me and I’m enthralled just to be reading it. Erica Bauermeister is one of those authors, she writes in a way that gives me a burning desire to keep reading her words. I think I would read the back of a cereal box if she wrote it.

Her characters are part of the joy in her writing. Through reading The Lost Art of Mixing, I not only came to know the characters as one would any characters in a novel, but I came to love them. I appreciated their merits and flaws, their good days and bad, and I think I even had a dream about them once. It’s much more than just a description of how they are, it’s the way that her words mold them. Honestly, you just need to read the book, then you’ll get it.

In The Lost Art of Mixing, Erica Bauermeister continues the story of Lillian that she began in The School of Essential Ingredients. Although I have both books, I’ve only read the second, since I was told that it was a stand-alone novel, and I like to verify. Lillian is attempting to negotiate her own curveballs, as we find out more about people she works with like Chloe who is becoming a chef in her own right thanks to some inspiration from Finnegan, and her roommate the elderly Isabelle who is slowly losing her memory. We share in their joys, their triumphs, their uncertainty, their struggles, the gamut that life provides. It is, without a doubt, a beautiful and completely entrancing story.

Now that I have read and reviewed The Lost Art of Mixing, I can guarantee you that I will be reading The School of Essential Ingredients. I cannot wait to lose myself again in the world and words of Erica Bauermeister and her characters. I’m not as gifted a writer as Bauermeister, so I doubt I’m communicating how awesome it is to glory in her writing, at least not as well as she does. But it is definitely worth a read, and I think you’ll come to agree with me that it’s definitely shelf-worthy.

The Lost Art of Mixing

The Lost Art of Mixing is on tour with TLC Book Tours, check out the reviews from these other tour hosts:

Gift Pick 2012

Chosen for the 2012 Gift Guide

The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens

Since she is one of my all-time favorite authors, I knew that I would love the new book by Stephanie Laurens. But I didn’t know that the story would be so absorbing! I was barely able to put the book down, and finished it the day after it arrived on my doorstep – that’s pretty fast for a mom at home with 2 kids all day! Completely living up to my high expectations of her work, Stephanie Laurens blew me away with The Lady Risks All with her detailed characters, intricate storyweaving, and entertaining mystery.

The Lady Risks All tells the tale of Miranda Clifford, an orphaned child who lives with her aunt and brother in London 1823. It’s also the tale of Neville Roscoe, a notorious underworld kingpin who runs a large ring of gambling parlours and hells in and around London. He’s a brisk, determined man who believes he’s given up his chance for a family, and she’s a woman who has always been told she needed to mind her p’s and q’s even more than the normal person because her family money had come from trade. Throughout the book, we learn bits and pieces about each of these characters as they fight for and against one another – and their love. It’s a historical romance with several steamy scenes, and a complex storyline.

The Lady Risks All coverI love the attention that Stephanie Laurens pays to detail in her stories – it’s one of the reasons that she’s one of my favorite authors. She makes her characters come alive. Not only does she give them family, descriptions, opinions, ideas, and that sort of life, but she makes them come out of and beyond the page by making them even more than just a story on a page in a book. When I’m reading one of her books, I can’t stop thinking about the characters, wondering what will happen next, all the while confident that I’ve solved the mystery before the characters have solved it.

Of course, with her intricate storyweaving, it always happens that I don’t have the mystery solved. In fact, I don’t even usually have the full deck of information at that point. Stephanie Laurens does an amazing job of keeping just enough details close. She gives her readers the details to think they’ve solved the puzzle, but keeps them guessing as she slowly reveals and unravels the facts of the story. It’s amazing and awesome and part of the reason that I dream of emulating her as an author.

I’ve been an avid reader of mysteries since I was very young – I can still remember showing my dad a Stephen King book (and that didn’t go over very well). That experience of reading many mysteries, plus a sort of innate confidence that I’m smarter than everyone else usually gives me the confidence to believe that I have solved or will shortly solve any puzzle or mystery set before me. And when I read Stephanie Laurens books, I’m wrong every time. It’s thrilling to be wrong, especially because she doesn’t make it uncomfortable or grasp at straws to keep the reader guessing. Trust me, you’ll love to not solve these mysteries.

Of course, before I signed up to be a tour stop for her book tour, I knew that I would love the book. But I also have high expectations for Stephanie Laurens and my other favorite authors, so I always fear that this will be the one that makes me purge my bookshelf of all her works. Thankfully for me, she did not disappoint whatsoever – and I also love that the characters are woven into the stories from other books that she’s written, it makes it seem like there’s this whole universe of stories just waiting for her to pluck them out of the air and write them down. Which, in a way, is exactly how I imagine prolific writers work. In The Lady Risks All, Stephanie Laurens lives up to my high expectations with characters that come alive off the page, incredible storytelling, and an entertaining mystery.

The Lady Risks All

The Lady Risks All is on tour with TLC Book Tours, check out the reviews from these other tour hosts:

PS – I saw the book on the shelf at Kroger today!

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher to facilitate my review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Complete Cake Mix Magic cookbook

Complete Cake Mix Magic Cookbook Review

When it comes to cake, my husband and I are in two different camps. He prefers to buy cakes premade at the grocery story, frosted, decorated and ready for him to cut and eat. I, however, am used to my family’s idea of cake – which is to make a unique cake for each individual family member’s birthday, the holiday we’re celebrating, or whatever occasion calls for cake. And we make them from scratch. Unfortunately, I don’t always have ingredients on hand or it takes too long to make certain cakes, I take on bigger projects than I can actually complete while taking care of the children or whatever else happens to the cakes I love. So to strike a compromise with my hubby, I’ve found that semi-homemade is his second favorite kind of cake. And that’s where the cookbook Complete Cake Mix Magic comes in.

Complete Cake Mix Magic cookbook

Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake

Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake

Prepared by Jill Snider, this cookbook is an excellent collection of several different kinds of cakes – 300 recipes to be exact, that as the tagline of the book says, are “just as good as homemade”. When reviewing this book, I tried out two special cakes – the first was for my son’s first birthday party. I made the Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake for his birthday. I topped it with chocolate frosting that I warmed up in the microwave and drizzled over the top of the cake, added sprinkles and a candle. It went over very well with the party goers, although it was a bit rich for me. Since it’s not a huge cake, it worked out well because even a small piece was satisfying. It was definitely chocolate and very moist! I also love any recipe that uses the Bundt pan, because I so rarely use it and my husband thinks it doesn’t deserve a spot in the kitchen if it’s not used very often. I disagree, so I like to dig out recipes that use it often.

Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Coffee Cake

The second cake that I made from this cookbook was a coffee cake for the Bible study/friend time that I have weekly with a friend of mine. We take turns on who is hosting and who is bringing breakfast, and it was my turn to bring breakfast. When I was little, I remember my grandmother almost always had a coffee cake ready at her house. I think maybe it was the Tripoli group that would bring it over, but I’m not sure. At any rate, she had coffee cake and it was one of my fondest memories. So a coffee cake seemed the way to go. I tried the Apple Coffee Cake recipe, but I used the wrong pan and I think that made a big difference. I had a hard time choosing between the Apple Pinwheel Cake and the Apple Coffee Cake, and I think since I do have the springform pan that the pinwheel cake calls for, I should have gone with that option instead. But I did the Apple Coffee Cake and the only issue I had with it was my pan choice. The recipe calls for a tube pan, and I think that would’ve made a much steadier side. Since I used a Bundt pan, it seemed to crumble a bit on the side because I didn’t seal the layers of batter and apple very well to build strong edges. I’m also not very good at estimation – when you have to put a third of the batter in different layers, I usually end up with a ton on the first layer and barely any left for the last, which I did true to form on this recipe as well. So that would’ve been better, but those issues were with the cook and not the recipe. The recipe itself was fantastic. It was so delicious, perfectly sweet and moist, and it paired perfectly with coffee. My friend even kept some for her family because she really liked it! The recipe was definitely a success, even if my baking skills were off that day!

Overall, these were fantastic recipes. The ones I’ve already tried aren’t too difficult to make, taste fantastic, and are a great use of cake mixes. It really takes your basic mix to the next level and turns it into one of those desserts that no one can believe you made in your own kitchen! For the busy home cook, one who isn’t quite sure of their baking prowess yet, or any fan of cake mixes, this is a perfect cookbook.

Gift Pick 2012

Chosen for the 2012 Gift Guide