the peanuts gang

Life’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Ten years ago, I watched my one of the most selfless women I know battle cancer courageously. About twenty-two years ago, I was a young sister watching my brother go through surgeries and hospital visits as he battled cancer. We watched a young cousin grow up as she grew her hair back. And now uncles on both sides, Jim’s dad, and dear friends have been battling cancer.

No one tells you in the beginning that it takes a village.  

So when Jim decided to run the Chicago Marathon earlier this year, he changed courses for what charity he would run for. He decided to run for the American Cancer Society. So that in the midst of things feeling out of control, we could somehow feel driven.

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And then we did something even crazier.

I joined his team. 

To finish the Chicago Marathon.

With my legs.

And the sudden realization that compared to the family members we know who have and are battling cancer, this is nothing.

So Jim will finish this race well. I’ll finish and hope that the street sweepers at the end can push me over the finish line.

I’ll share Jim’s medal if I have to.

But we can do hard things. And we owe it to them. And ourselves.

Would you consider supporting our year of DOING? 

If you donate in honor of someone, share their name via message or email with me. We’ll be having shirts made up with everyone we run for and would love to include them!

Samantha

Pomegranate & Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes with Lifeway Kefir

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

With two little misters two feed and a marathon-training husband, I’m always on the hunt for ways to healthfully fuel their bodies. One of the best ways to start the day right is with a big breakfast  that sends them out on the right foot and prepares them for the day ahead (be it preschool, running, work or the like). So I thought about taking one of our traditional favorites – pancakes – and giving it an added healthy boost using probiotics from Lifeway foodsLifeway Kefir contains 12 live and active Probiotic cultures that support the immune system and balance digestive health. It contains no artificial sweeteners  and is rich in calcium. Not to mention with a variety of different flavor options such as Pomegranate, Raspberry and Blueberry, the boys were sure to find one they loved! #KefirCreations #CollectiveBias

Giving some extra oomph to a morning favorite

Morning Pancakes courtesy of Lifeway Kefir #KefirCreations #cbias #shop

Trying to keep our family healthy one step at a time

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Creating the perfect pancakes for this recipe is pretty simple. You start with your favorite flavor of Lifeway Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothie. To keep them versatile, I opted to use the Madagascar Vanilla version. This way, I could add any flavors later on, such as fresh berries, granola, chocolate chips and the basic flavor would still be great. My kids love to “build” pancakes with different options I leave out for toppings.

Lifeway Kefir gets us up, moving and ready to tackle our day! Not to mention it tastes DELICIOUS!

#KefirCreations Ingredients for Pancakes #cbias #shop

Pomegranate & Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes with Lifeway Kefir
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1¼ c. Lifeway Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothie (flavor is up to you!)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. plus a dash of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Melt butter and stir to combine with Kefir and egg.
  2. Whisk together with flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda.
  3. Warm skillet to medium heat and wipe with oil on a paper towel.
  4. Cook on both sides until the pancake is cooked through.
  5. Layer with strawberries or other favorite fruits.
  6. Top with homemade Lifeway Kefir whipped cream (recipe below).

The final element of the recipe is the delicious Pomegranate Lifeway Kefir whipped cream. For this recipe, you’ll need 3/4 c. cold whipping cream, 1/4 c. Lifeway Kefir cultured milk smoothie of your choice (I chose Pomegranate), and 1 tbsp. of powdered sugar. Whip cream and Kefir until it starts to thicken. Beat to desired thickness (mine was not as firm, but that’s how we prefer it!) Gently mix in the last of the powdered sugar and whisk to combine. Serve atop pancakes, ice cream, cookies, you name it! I also love the variations using the different flavors of Kefir.

Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes #KefirCreations #shop #cbias

If you want to mix up the recipe even further, make basic Madagascar Vanilla Kefir pancakes and create a pancake bar where guests or your family can top with their own toppings – different whipped creams, chocolate chips, fresh fruit, sprinkles. It’s a great way to mix things up!

What are your preferred toppings for your pancakes?

Samantha

Rockin’, Rollin’, and Runnin’ All While Being Built with Chocolate Milk

Jim received entry into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in Chicago this weekend in exchange for our coverage of the race and Chocolate Milk. All opinions (and actual physical exertion) are our own. 

It’s no secret that I’ve recently in the past half year or so taken up running, but long before I ever did, my hot husband was training for and running marathons. In fact, he’ll be running the Chicago Marathon AGAIN this year in honor of the American Cancer Society for our loved ones who are currently battling or have battled cancer. While pushing himself during the training season, he SWEARS BY and we have to keep fully stocked in our refrigerator, the awesome power of chocolate milk. He uses it to refuel and recharge after long runs and hard workouts.

While running the 2012 Chicago Marathon

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As the Official Refuel Beverage of USA Hockey, Women’s Ski Jumping USA, USA Swimming, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, IRONMAN U.S. Triathlon Series, Iron Girl, Esprit de She, Life Time Fitness Cycle Club, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation®, the BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK campaign will refuel athletes at training and practices, endurance races, charity races and health clubs nationwide. This year, Jim will be joining #TeamCHOCOLATEMILK and running in preparation for the Chicago Marathon this October. A full recap of his Rock ‘n’ Roll run will be coming next week! #BuildIt

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Did you know?

More than 20 scientific studies including athletes from sports spanning running, cycling and soccer support the advantages of drinking chocolate milk after strenuous exercise. As part of a regular recovery routine, it’s an ideal way to help athletes refuel, rebuild and reshape, with high quality protein scientifically shown to help repair and rebuild muscles.

Special for this year

Launched in April of this year, Mission Apolo:  BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK is a program and online documentary web series challenging World Champion short-track speedskating legend, Apolo Ohno, to translate his power and speed to the sport of triathlon in order to conquer the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship Race in Kona-Kailua, Hawaii. Apolo Ohno joins Women’s Health Fitness Director, Jen Ator, for a six-month training and recovery program with elite professional coaches and sports dietitians. Fans will be able to follow the individual training journeys of Apolo and Jen through the eight-episode web series, full of behind-the-scenes content and training tips available on the got chocolate milk? social channels.

Find Chocolate Milk all over the interwebs:

Facebook || Twitter || Instagram

How do you use your chocolate milk?

Samantha

Layered Café Mocha Latte

Happy Thursday! It’s almost to the weekend – check out this hot drink deliciousness from Keurig!

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What you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Brew 6-8 oz. of coffee into a 14 oz. mug
  2. While the coffee is brewing, froth the milk using the milk frother
  3. Fill 3/4 of the second mug with the frothed milk
  4. Slowly pour 3-4 tablespoons of chocolate syrup into the center of the froth
  5. Then slowly pour coffee (mug 1) into the center of the froth (mug 2)

This drink would probably help you get ready for the weekend! What’s your go-to K-Cup?

Samantha

Absence {Seven Month Update}

One || Two || Three || Four || Five || Six

Remember the days when I got up early like 5 a.m. motivated to jump on the treadmill? Well, then life happened and walloped me over the head. No excuses, just absence.

Let’s start with the obvious. This month’s update is late. And the Treadmill Tuesdays? Sad, sad, sad. This past month saw my husband go out of town for a week, the planning and preparation for a MASSIVE garage sale to go towards my trip to Africa later this year (WE RAISED A TON, but it kicked my butt), an uptick in workload, VBS for the boys, the addition of freelance projects, exciting news that I’ll be speaking at Mixwest later this month, a church picnic, a sunburnt waterpark visit, saying sayonara to friends, and finding time to enjoy the summer (can you believe July is half past?!) I hardly have time to breathe, let alone run, but I KNOW it has to be a priority again because of just what a difference it made in how I felt.

Still, despite my full-blown treadmill effort, I managed to finish two athletic events this month: The Warrior Dash and the ROC Race. I wiped out during the ROC Race and got so dirty I threw my shoes away during the Warrior Dash, but I finished both and lived to tell about it. I’m proud to say that a year ago you wouldn’t have seen me even trying. BLAH!

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So if I haven’t found time to exercise as much as I should, what’s the weight verdict.

By the Numbers:

Since July 9th: 2 lbs

Since December 9th: 47 lbs

Since heaviest: 67 lbs

Nothing to cry about! Still a huge accomplishment from my heaviest and frankly, given the way it’s been this past month, I’ll take two pounds, but that’s not good enough and I know it. I miss the treadmill. I miss the thrill and energy it gives me. I miss sweating (WHO AM I?) and I need to get back to clean eating, so it’s Mason Jar Salads and smoothies for me these next few weeks! For the first time, I’m setting a goal this month – 10 lbs. Think I can do it? I hope so! And at seven months in, I’m only five months away from one year. I want it to be a good one!

Back on it

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I can do this!

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What’s your best advice for staying motivated, especially during busy seasons?

Samantha

Win a Private Building Session with the Master Model Builder {LEGOLAND Discovery Center – Chicago}

LEGOLAND Logo

Join in the fun with LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago’s new online photo contest, “#IWantToBuild” for a chance to  win a private lesson with our Master Model Builder, David Howard, and build the LEGO model of your dreams!

Whether it be a giraffe, a freight train, the Eiffel Tower or whatever you imagine—-David will sit down with one lucky LEGO fan and show them all the tips and tricks to make their dream creation come to life with LEGO. The contest runs now through August 29th 

To enter:

  1. Make a sign that says “#Iwanttobuild”
  2. Hold the sign while taking a photo next to whatever it is you would like to build
  3. Post your picture to LDC’s Facebook wall to enter the contest!

Photos will be shared on LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago’s website and social media channels.

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Ten finalists will be selected at random. From those ten, David will select his favorite as the winner. The winner will receive a private building session with LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago’s Master Model Builder!

Samantha

I Don’t Share My Popcorn {And The Secret to a Perfect Batch}

Thanks to Pop Secret for sponsoring today’s talk about night time snacking and secrets.

It’s no secret that as moms we work hard and seem to share EVERYTHING all day long. One of my favorite ways to treat myself after a long day is to settle onto the couch with something from Netflix, Hulu or a DVD rental and pop my very own salty treat – Pop Secret Popcorn (Movie Theater Butter of course!) My boys are popcorn FANATICS! So I know that if I share all the popcorn in the house, it’s likely that I won’t get a bowl. That’s why I usually save a secret bag for myself JUST for occasions like this.

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Check out those little popped kernels of goodness. Some secrets are better left kept hidden.

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Since it’s imperative that I make this secret bag correctly, I have to do everything I can to ensure that the popcorn doesn’t get burned. Everyone can relate to the frustration of burning popcorn, so Pop Secret decided to solve the problem once and for all, so you can spend more time enjoying movies and less time worrying about burned popcorn!

How to Use the Perfect Popcorn App

With your iPhone 5+ on iOS 7+, download Perfect Pop (“Perfect Popcorn”) for free on the App Store. 1. Put a bag of Pop Secret in the microwave and enter suggested cooking time from the packaging. Note: Perfect Pop is optimized for the deliciousness of Pop Secret popcorn only. 2. Turn up the volume on your iPhone. Point the phone’s speaker towards the microwave and keep within 3 feet. 3. Start the microwave, and then start the app. No more relying on the popcorn button or guessing how many seconds in between pops. Pop Secret is serious about perfect popcorn, so the less you have to worry about, the more time you can spend enjoying movie night with your friends & family. Perfect Pop listens to the pops, waiting for the precise moment to let you know when your popcorn is perfect.

How do you enjoy the perfect bag of popcorn?

Samantha

#LetsTalk About the Future {and the White Sox}

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Genworth. I attended a live event and received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

As time passes, I’m realizing more and more that I’m probably not the spring chicken anymore that I once thought I was. As our family grows and the boys get older (HELLO, I WILL HAVE A KINDERGARTENER IN JUST ANOTHER MONTH OR SO!), I’m realizing the importance of talking about our future and of those we love. Close family members are starting to have these conversations with loved ones and it’s reminding me to be educated about what we want! #LetsTalk with Genworth is a movement designed to educate families to talk with those they love. This past week, the boys and I headed to Chicago with my nephew to spend some time at the Taste of Chicago and talk with Genworth.

Taste of Chicago MCC Genworth #LetsTalk #MC #sponsored

With the skyline as the backdrop, people gathered to learn more about what Genworth offers. Most notably, my nephew talked to me later about the statistic that over 73 million Americans will be 65 by 2030. We laughed a bit, but even with humor, it’s important to talk about your future.

Our beautiful city

#LetsTalk #MC #Sponsored Skyline   #MC #Sponsored #LetsTalk

David jumped into the photobooth to remind us (AND YOU!) to talk with those you love about long-term care and what the future holds for you. Does your family know your wishes? You don’t want to enter that stage of life without sharing with someone.

YoVr9VmLLBerOISr  We had a great time learning more and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city! These little misters will take care of me later in life – guess I should give them a good example of how to do that now! Taste of Chicago - Family #LetsTalk #MC #sponsored

Did I mention the Big Hurt was there? We spent some time with him (and Charlie even sat on his lap like he was Santa Claus!) Can you believe he is 46?! He’s huge, built, and still looks the same. But if Frank Thomas can talk about his long-term care, shouldn’t we?

MCC Genworth - Frank Thomas #LetsTalk #sponsored #MC

  Fast Friends.

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Have you had The Talk? Share with your family members today!

What’s Genworth?

Genworth’s companies have been in the business of writing insurance policies since 1871, when The Life Insurance Company of Virginia was founded. Today, Genworth is an industry leader in providing long term care insurance. In addition to long term care insurance, Genworth provides financial security and protection to its customers through all stages of life, from mortgage insurance to retirement income, life insurance, and related financial and wellness advisory services.

What is Long-Term Care?

As we age, our needs change. Tasks that are easy for us to accomplish today – everything from getting out of bed to getting dressed in the morning – can become more challenging as we get older. Long term care is about help that people with chronic illnesses, disabilities or other conditions need on a daily basis for an extended period of time. Long term care helps with these activities of daily living, and long term care insurance helps cover the expense of long term care.

Samantha

Keeping Kids Safe {During the Summer & Beyond}

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Source

Samantha

RSVP for the #GoodNightSnack Twitter Party

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#GoodNightSnack Twitter Party #cbias #shop

Do you love a good Twitter Party? You know we do and we’re excited to host a party about good night snack ideas and Kellogg’s® cereal available at Walmart.  On July 16 from 12-1 pm ET, please join us for the #GoodNightSnack Twitter Party where we’ll be chatting about good activities to enjoy a snack with in the evening. Plus, we’ll be sharing old favorites we love like Mini Wheats® and Krave® as well as new varieties like Jif™ Peanut Butter Cereal® and Rice Krispies® Multigrain Shapes® and giving you a chance to win prizes!

As a busy, working mom of two, my me time usually comes once the kids are in bed. I love grabbing some cereal as a nighttime snack and catch up on my favorite shows and blogs. My personal favorite is Special K®! My boys also love cereal as the little belly filler before they hop off to meet Mr. Sandman. I can’t wait to try out even more of the new Kellogg® cereals and learn just how many ways you can make cereal a #GoodNightSnack for your family! Hope you can join for the #GoodNightSnack Twitter Party on July 16th!

Join me and RSVP for the #GoodNightSnack Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

DATE: Wednesday, July 16th

TIME:  12:00 – 1:00 pm ET

PRIZES: 5 – $100 Walmart Gift Cards

EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card

HOSTS:@DawnChats, @thedomesticexec, @aboutamom, @peanutsgang2004

RSVP & PARTY GRID:  #GoodNightSnack

RULES:#GoodNightSnack Twitter Party Official Rules

SHARE A TWEET ABOUT THE PARTY:

How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that options checked when you RSVP for the party!

TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!

Samantha