Posted by: Lea | December 31, 2012

Looking Back at 2012…

Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s time to ring in another year. We all survived the end of the Mayan calendar. We’re waiting to see what happens with the fiscal cliff. And I’m reflecting on another year gone by! 2012 was definitely a year filled with ups and downs. We lost Ryan’s beloved Aunt Mary on New Year’s Day. We also lost our 13-year old West Highland White Terrier, Joey, in June. And then we went through the loss of Perry, our puggle puppy, who died from a defective toy on his first birthday. But we were also fortunate enough to have many more good times this year than bad times. We traveled to Walt Disney World twice. My husband and I got away on an adults only trip to Northern California. We went on a 7-day Disney Cruise. Our 10-year old daughter received her First Communion. We added Nitro, our rescue dog, to the family. And as usual, many lessons were learned this year. I had to learn the hard way that sometimes I have to put myself first in friendships and realize that if I am the only one trying in a friendship, then maybe it wasn’t a true friendship to begin with. That was probably one of the hardest lessons to learn, but it was definitely an important one.

The year started off on a bad note, when Aunt Mary passed away. Like I said above, she passed away on New Year’s Day. She was a wonderful lady, and she was more like a second grandmother to Ryan than a great-aunt. She was generous to a fault, and she always made sure that those she loved had all they needed. What made her passing even more sad was the fact that her sister, Ryan’s Grandma, passed away in December 2011. Ryan’s Aunt Agnes, who is the youngest, of the three is now on her own without her sisters. We think of her often, and I am glad that we were able to see her this year when she came to Texas. We learned through Aunt Mary’s passing that we always need to tell each other that we love one another because you never know when it will be your time.

Things picked up in March when we were able to surprise the kids with a trip to Walt Disney World- a short trip, but a trip nonetheless. Ryan had to fly to Orlando while the kids were out on Spring Break so we figured “Why not”? I will never forget the look on Riley’s face when we told them we were going to Walt Disney World in the morning. And Jack’s squeal of excitement made me realize without a doubt we did the right thing in spending the money on the airfare (it wasn’t cheap due to Spring Break).

Disney March 2012 004

Two Very Excited Kids on the Way to Disney!

 

In May, we were able to enjoy time with a lot of family who came in town to celebrate Riley’s First Communion. The ceremony was Mother’s Day weekend so it was a double blessing. We were able to celebrate Mother’s Day at the Melting Pot (one of my favorite places) with my parents, my in-laws, my grandparents, and Ryan’s Aunt Agnes and Aunt Marcia. It was definitely a weekend I will never forget! And the next weekend, my baby girl turned 10 years old- hard to believe.

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Riley’s First Communion

June brought us some travel time which wound up coming at a well needed time. Our long-time pal, Joey, passed away at the age of 13. This one was a hard one to swallow as he fell ill so quickly. Up until the last month, he never seemed to act like he was 13. That last month though, we really saw it. He died at home in his sleep where he belonged. To this day, I still get teary eyed when I think about finding him that morning. Thankfully, after that, we were able to go places to get our mind off of Joey. The kids went to Oklahoma and Branson to spend a week with their grandparents. It was Jack’s first time, which was hard on me, but he had a blast! Ryan and I took advantage of the time alone and went out to San Francisco and Monterey. I must admit, as much as I love Disney, this was a close second. What a fabulous trip! As soon as the kids were home, it was Jack’s birthday. My little Bubba turned 6! How could that be?

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Our beloved, Joey

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Jack and one of his best buddies on Jack’s 6th Birthday

August brought us another trip to Walt Disney World! This time the four of us with my mom. I always value the extra time we get to spend with her. And this was such a fun trip. I accomplished a few firsts on this trip that I am pretty dang proud of- I rode on Tower of Terror and the Rock’n Roller Coaster. We had to send Ryan back home, but we were lucky enough to be able to head over to Tampa to see my Aunt Pam and Uncle Russ for a few days. While we were there we went to see Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. What a cool experience.

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Us with my mom at Epcot

September just plain sucked. Perry, our puggle, got sick at the beginning of the month. We couldn’t figure out what happened to him. He wound up having to have surgery, in which we thought he had recovered from. He had to have about 6-8 inches of his small intestine removed and reattached. He came home, and things were looking up until about 10 days after we had him home. I noticed he wasn’t eating, and his gums were gray and he was very lethargic. A friend who is an emergency vet consultant told me to rush him to the emergency vet. They wound up having to perform a second surgery where he wound up not waking up from. He died on his first birthday. This one hit home. I cried non-stop for days. During this time, I got mad. Mad that this happened. I decided to make others aware of what happened to Perry. I started a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PerrysMission) to help raise awareness. That page is now dedicated to helping animals both in terms of products and rescues. I also went on to our news (my 15 minutes of fame) to tell about Perry (http://www.woai.com/s/oATNdgE-g0e3EGBK45oLIw.cspx). It was a very surreal way to start October.

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We miss you, Perry

About a week afterwards, we were able to go on a cruise. What a great time to get away. The week leading up to it was chaotic, given all that happened with Perry. But what an amazing cruise. We went on the Disney Magic out of Galveston, and it truly was the perfect vacation. Ryan and I had some time on our own to enjoy just being with one another, but we also had some great family time and created some awesome memories that will stick with us forever. When we returned home, we added a new member to the family. Our 3-year old Golden Retriever, Remington, was miserable without any of his friends. So we decided to adopt a dog. We searched on www.adoptapet.com, and we found Nitro, a 4-month old pug/chihuahua mix. He has brought some much-needed happiness into our home. And Remy is wagging his tail again.

Welcome to the family, Nitro!

In November, I turned (gulp) 37. Ryan and I also celebrated our 15th Anniversary- what a special day. Ryan and I have been through ups and downs over the years, but through it all, we have wound up stronger. Every day we are together is a blessing, and one big lesson learned this year, was how thankful we are for all that we have.

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15 years! With many more happy years to come!

At the beginning of December, Ryan had to have shoulder surgery. Poor guy has been in his “robosling” for almost a month now. I’m almost as excited as him to get it off! It’s been a long month for him. All told though, it’s been a great month. Christmas snuck up on us this year, but what a Christmas we had.

We have lost ones that we loved this year. We have spent a lot of time with the ones we love, too. Friendships have been lost, but we have gained many new wonderful friends this year, too. Throughout 2012 though, the one constant in our lives have been family. We have and always been there for one another, and this year reminds me all over again how very lucky we are. Here’s to an even better 2013 filled with all good and no bad! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Lea | October 3, 2012

Perry’s Mission

Wow, a lot has happened since my last blog post two days ago. I decided to create Perry’s Mission to get the word out to everyone that rope toys are not safe for our dogs and puppies. It was a rope toy that killed my beloved puggle puppy, Perry, on his first birthday. Last post, I didn’t want to talk about what happened, but readers deserve to know a little more about how deadly these toys can be.

I bought an innocent looking toy at PetSmart one day about four weeks ago thinking that Perry would love it! It was Halloween themed, and he and our other dog could play tug of war. How I wish I could go back and change that day. Perry was able to destroy the toy in a matter of an hour. He didn’t just pull strings out of it, he untied the knots, and he tore up the tennis ball on the middle of the rope. I found several long strings in bunches on our back porch and in the back yard. I’m still finding it. That’s how much there was.

The toy that killed Perry

One day about three weeks ago, I noticed that Perry wasn’t feeling so well. He stopped eating, and he just wanted to lay around. One Saturday, I took him to Banfield Pet Hospital, which wasn’t his normal vet, but they were open on the weekends. His temperature was normal, and the gave me some recommendations for some bland food and Pepcid. I offered him the different food and still nothing. If anything, he even looked worse. That Monday morning, we took Perry to our regular vet. They ran some tests, and they found that his white blood cell count was through the roof, but we still didn’t know why. He had us keep Perry home that night and told us to call the next morning if things looked worse. By Tuesday morning, he still wasn’t eating, and I knew something was really wrong. We called the next morning, and they ordered us to go get him an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a blockage which meant surgery.

He went into surgery that afternoon. We were told it would be a 30 minute to an hour long surgery. But then he called us on speakerphone during the surgery. The vet told my husband to prepare us for the worst because it didn’t look good. It was horrible waiting. The surgery took almost three hours. Then we got the phone call that said he made it through the surgery and he was awake. Things were good.

We were able to take Perry home the next morning with strict care instructions. He was doing well. He was starting to eat. He was starting to howl and bark again. We started to see signs of the old Perry again. But last Thursday, I noticed he wasn’t eating again. We took him in that day to get his staples removed, and they did a CBC, and the blood tests all came back normal, with the exception of low red blood cell counts. We thought maybe he just overdid it, and he needed to rest. Friday, he was even more lethargic. I took him back in, and they did another CBC count. His results looked even better.

By Saturday, he still hadn’t eaten. He was moving very gingerly. I knew something was really wrong. I rushed him to the emergency vet clinic. They looked at his gray gums and his overall demeanor, and they immediately took him back to get his vitals and to place him on oxygen. I never saw him again. I met with the vet who told me his belly was full of fluid and bacteria. They were transferring him over for emergency exploratory surgery.

We met with the surgeon who gave him a 50/50 shot of making it through the surgery. He had thrown up a big ball of black string before the surgery, even though he had already had a bunch of string removed in the first surgery. That’s how much was in that little body. We left to go home and wait it out. The surgeon called us at 11:40 pm Saturday night, and she said that he had made it through the surgery, but the recovery would be long. Then at 12:30 the next morning, the phone rang again. We knew it was bad. Perry had a cardiac arrest. They were trying to revive him, but they warned us that even if they could get the heart started, he would more than likely arrest again. They needed our permission to stop trying, which we gave him. Perry died on his 1st birthday.

The past few days have been surreal. Many people may think “he’s just a dog”, but he was so much more than that. I have gone through bouts of sadness, anger, guilt, depression. I am smiling more than I am crying now, but the pain is great. Perry died because of something that I gave him- something that should have been preventable.

I don’t want ANYONE else to ever have to go through what we have been going through. So I created Perry’s Mission to get the word out about the dangers of these toys. I have found others who have gone through the same thing because of a rope toy. I have started a Facebook page to post about my findings and the results of my dealings with PetSmart over the sale of this toy (www.facebook.com/PerrysMission). I am being interviewed today by WOAI Channel 4 so others can be spared. I have worked with PetSmart’s Corporate office on getting reimbursed for the thousands of dollars of vet bills AND more importantly, to get this particular toy off of the shelf. I’m only 3 days into Perry’s Mission, and the support has been amazing.

Please tell others about Perry’s Mission and his story. Please continue to get the word out about rope toys and other dangerous pet products. Please like our Facebook page.

And thank you for taking the time to read about Perry. He was so special to us, and he was taken way before his time.

www.Facebook.com/PerrysMission

Our beloved, Perry

Posted by: Lea | October 1, 2012

Saving Man’s Best Friend

As many of you know, this past weekend, I lost my puppy, Perry, on his first birthday. Perry passed away after his second abdominal surgery after he ingested pieces of rope from a rope toy marketed for dogs at Petsmart. Needless to say, I am heartbroken. Something I brought into the house ultimately caused him to lose his life. Perry was such a huge part of our family. There is an enormous hole in my life today.

I don’t want to go into the medical details of what happened to Perry. It isn’t pretty. But the poor little guy had a horrible past three weeks. The only thing that made any of this any easier (besides a wonderful family) is an amazing vet, who is just as saddened today as we are. My goal is to get these unsafe products off of the shelves and out of our homes. If I can save one dog and spare one family this pain, then I did my job.

I want to write to tell you how wonderful Perry was. But I’m not ready yet. I am writing to tell you that I now have a new mission- to save dogs and puppies from this painful death. So here it is…I am going to research and find other stories like this. I am going to talk to the Petsmart store manager about getting these products off of the shelf. I am going to consumer groups and anywhere else that I can to make sure that NO ONE ever has to go through the pain, the guilt and the loss that I am sitting here with today.

I will be creating a Facebook page to keep everyone updated on this endeavor, and I will continue to blog about it as well. Please follow this page and this blog. And make sure your friends and families know about this horrible danger for their pets. And thank you in advance for your support and for all of the prayers, kind thoughts and messages about Perry. He truly was a remarkable dog who was taken way before his time. Image

Posted by: Lea | December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011…and Good Riddance!

My family

I’ve been reflecting lately quite a bit on the past year, and the one thing that I can come up with is that I am glad that it’s (almost) over. This year has been one of the toughest of my life, with many lessons learned. Now I’m not saying the year has been ALL bad. There have been some amazing parts to the past year. What I am saying, is that I am glad that I get to start over in 2012.

This blog post is one of the hardest for me to write. Learning lessons at age 36 isn’t always easy. You know the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Well, that’s how I felt for a long time. I was determined that my thoughts and feelings were right. You couldn’t tell me that I had done anything wrong. But I had. I took someone who I love very much for granted. And I almost wound up losing everything important in my life. I’m not going to go into details, but suffice it to say, I screwed up. Big. Luckily, I was called on the carpet, and I had to face the fact that not only CAN I be wrong about things. I WAS wrong. BUT the good news was I had the opportunity to make up for all that was wrong. I had the chance to make things right again and to make my home a home again. And for that, I am incredibly grateful. Saying sorry isn’t always the easiest thing to do. But when it needs to be done, it must be done. I learned sometimes it’s easier to realize that’ I’m not perfect (sssh, don’t tell), and I need to realize that. I do make mistakes. And I learned that communication in a relationship is one of the greatest gifts of all.

My husband and I on our amazing NYC trip

We also lost someone who was very important to all of us. My husband’s grandmother passed away at the beginning of December. She had suffered a stroke in September 2003. She was a remarkable woman who we all considered ourselves lucky to have in our lives. She will without a doubt be greatly missed, but we know that is up above looking down on all of us and smiling.

In August, we lost our beloved 14-year old West Highland White Terrier, Max. Max had been with us since before my husband and I were married, and this loss truly broke all of our hearts. Max was a wonderful, yet weird, little dog, and our house hasn’t been the same without him in it.

Max 1997-2011

On a happy note, there were quite a bit of great things that happened in 2011, too. My daughter kicked butt in 3rd grade and is doing the same in 4th grade. My son “graduated” from Pre-K and started Kindergarten and is loving it. We took some amazing trips: a family road trip to Okalahoma to visit family, an adults only trip to Atlantic City with some wonderful friends to celebrate a friend graduating from grad school. I took a solo trip with my friends to Walt Disney World where I ran (well, walked) a 5K with some of the best friends a girl could ask for. The whole family spent 6 days together at Disney World and then went on a 3-day cruise on the Disney Dream with the Whitneys, one of my most favorite families in the world. And then Ryan and I finished the year with an early anniversary trip to New York City, which was one of the most special trips I have ever taken.

Some of my wonderful friends!

One of the things I am most grateful for this year is the opportunity to spend so much time with my wonderful friends. I have truly figured out this year what friendship is and how to figure out who those real friends are, and I am so thankful to have found such wonderful people to be a part of my life. We aren’t all in the same city or even state, but that does nothing to negate how important these families are to me. We got to spend Easter this year in San Antonio with some of these friends, and it was so much fun (more meat sweats anyone?). Here’s to another great year with the Demarcos, the Aguillons, the Whitneys, Jillian, Nicole, Rora and more! I love all of you dearly!

My Halloween Trip

I’m also so thankful for the time I have each day to be with my husband and kids. I’m glad that this year has allowed us to spend time together in such fun places. My life would be dark and gray without them, and every day I am with them reminds me how truly lucky I am to have them in my life and on my side. My family (parents. grandparents and inlaws) are always so supportive of everything we do, and I can’t imagine having a better family.

Spending Thanksgiving as a family

We also added a new member to our family, Perry the Puggle. And while he will never replace Max, we do see some of Max in Perry. The kids love having him around, and I have to admit, so do I.

Perry the Puggle

So now I am looking forward to all that will happen in 2012. I’m not making resolutions this year- they never do me any good anyways. But I am making promises. I promise that I WILL spend more quality time with my family. My kids won’t be young forever, and I want to enjoy the time with them while they actually want me around. I promise to not take my husband for granted and to realize that we are in this relationship because we WANT to be and not because we HAVE to be. He is everything that I can ask for in a husband and a father of my kids, and he deserves to know that and to hear that often. I promise that I will make time for my friends, and that I will ALWAYS be there to listen and to support them in whatever they do.

There is a lot to look forward to this year. Ryan and I are going on a trip to San Francisco and Monterey in June, which I CAN NOT wait for. I’ll have a wonderful summer with the kids out of school. I plan on spending time on the lake and at our cabin with them. And then in October, the family is taking a Disney Cruise out of Galveston, in which Ryan and I will be renewing our vows, as we will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this year. So I have a lot to look forward to this year.

In looking back, I realize that this year will forever shape who I am as a mom, a wife, and a person. It was filled with ups and downs, and I am ecstatic that 2012 starts tomorrow- a brand new year. Who knows what it will bring? All I do know right now is I am READY to say ADIOS to 2011. Bring on 2012.

Bring on 2012!

Posted by: Lea | September 11, 2011

Reflections of 9/11- Ten Years Later

Jack's 9/11 Drawing

My five-year old son came home from kindergarten on Friday (Patriot Day) and immediately sat down and started drawing a picture. When he finally showed it to us, we saw what it was he learned about at school that day- September 11th. His heartbreaking picture was of the two buildings with the planes flying into them, smoke and flames coming out of the windows, and firefighters on the ground. It made me think about that day ten years ago. Ten years ago sounds so far away, but yet it still feels like it was yesterday.

I was 25 years old, and we were living in Cleveland, Ohio. I was a Sales Manager with For Rent Magazine. It was a deadline day, meaning we had to get our magazine ready and out for publication that day. I was in a closed-door meeting when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. My Graphic Designer, Chris, had the radio on in her office, and she heard about the plane hitting. She immediately ran to the TV in our conference room and turned on the television. She came to get me, knowing that I would be interested in hearing about what we thought was an accident at the time since my husband was a pilot. We were all gathered around the TV and watched in shock as the second plane hit. We couldn’t believe it. Chris ran through the office yelling “we’re being attacked”. No one knew what to think. At first, there were reports that they were small private planes that hit. Then the news came that it was a commercial airliner- maybe a United 737, which is the plane my husband flew for United Airlines at that time.

My cell phone and office phone immediately started ringing as worried family members called me wanting to know if I knew where Ryan, my husband was. Luckily, I knew he was safe on an overnight in Sacramento and was sleeping when the attacks happened. I called to wake him up to tell him what was going on. We all watched the news reports in horror watching people emerge from the towers, watching those who were trapped feeling there was no other choice but to jump to their deaths. One of my Account Executives, who wasn’t in the office, called us to tell us the Pentagon was hit by a plane. We told him he was wrong. It was the Twin Towers. He said he just heard it on the radio. Just as he said this, the news broke that the Pentagon was hit. We sat speechless. No one knew what to say or do. What could we do?

Then chaos broke loose as word came in about the hijacked flight (Flight 93) turning over Cleveland. We were terrified that something was going to happen in our town. At the same time, they had a Delta flight sequestered at our airport. There were reports that there was a bomb on the plane. Traffic around the airport came to a standstill. People actually got out and left their cars on the highway. There was no other way for them to get home. During this time, the first tower fell. I can’t even describe the horror of watching this happen, knowing there were so many people in that tower that would never get to go home. Hearing of Flight 93 crashing into the ground and seeing the second tower fall just cemented that our lives were never going to be the same again.

I’ll always remember driving home from work that night. We had to stay and get the magazine finished- no going home early for us. I left the office around 7:30 that night. I drove home on 480 in Cleveland. It was a ver eerie feeling. There weren’t many others on the road, but one sight will always burn in my mind- standing on an overpass over the highway was a lone man waving an American flag. As I got closer to home, I noticed that all of the stores and restaurants were closed, all with hand-written signs on the door that said they were shutting down due the attacks on the United States.

I was scared that night. No other way to say it. My husband worked for one of the airlines that was hijacked. I realized how easily it could have been him. I had nightmares that night of Osama bin Laden coming up the stairs from my basement. I slept horribly and spent most of the night in tears. Ryan was stuck in Sacramento since no one was allowed to fly. He finally made it home Friday on a flight run out of San Francisco for all misplaced United Airlines employees. The day he came home, I ran to him knowing how lucky we were.

The next days were very surreal. Life had changed. Innocence was gone. I remember doing everything I could to do my part to help- whether it be donating dog food for the rescue dogs, water for the first responders or just simply wearing a red, white and blue ribbon. Ten days after 9/11, we found out I was pregnant with our first child. Watching all of the specials this week about the children of 9/11 really makes me relate. My daughter is the exact same age as these children. It breaks my heart to think that there was a chance she never would have gotten to meet her father, but it also makes me realize how very lucky we are.

I watched as much news as I could on the attacks for the next several days. I bought magazines and newspapers to keep for my children to read some day. I wanted to make sure they my children always knew what happened on this day. I remember taking my first flight after the attacks in November 2011. I was scared. No other way to say it. I still look around when I get on a flight, even 10 years later.

The anniversary of 9/11 brings on so many feelings: sadness, shock, depression. But it also brings hope. The country pulled together in a way I had never seen before. The country will never be the same, in both good ways and bad. My family and I have spent many hours this weekend watching coverage of September 11th. I was worried at first that it may be too much for them, but I am convinced that they need to know how very important this day is.

After 9/11, my husband was furloughed from United Airlines, his dream job. In fact, his letter stating he was off his first year probation was dated September 11.  Ten years later, he is still not back with the airlines. We were impacted directly by these attacks, but I know that we are still one of the lucky families. Everyone came home.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of 9/11. Heroism truly showed its face that day, and it overpowered the evil shown by the terrorists.

Everyone go hug your families today. And every day.

Posted by: Lea | August 6, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Max

Max 1997-2011

Last night, my family said goodbye to a beloved family member- our 14-year old West Highland White Terrier named Max, or as we frequently called him, Maxie. We are just heart-broken, as it was a sudden death (as sudden as it can be for a 14-year old dog). Max hadn’t been doing so well for a while now. He was completely deaf and had bad ear infections. He couldn’t see very well, and he hadn’t been eating. Most of his time was spent sleeping under the bed or in the closet. It was a rare treat when he came out to see us.

Today has been a rough day for me. I keep seeing him in my head as I saw him last night, which is not the way I want to remember him. I want to remember him for all of the sweet, funny things that he did throughout his 14 years. My husband and I got Max in July 1997, before he and I were married. We raised him from the time he was just a puppy, and he will always hold a very special place in my heart. In remembering him today, I began laughing through my tears.

Here are some of the funny and strange things Max did to make us laugh:

  • sleep in the dishwasher
  • drink from his water bowl while putting his front two paws in the water
  • look out the window of our 1st apartment and know when my husband was coming home before he even turned the corner
  • run and hide when someone would sneeze
  • pass gas and then get up and leave before anyone else smelled it
  • bite at the vacuum cleaner and pull it down the hallway
  • bark at nothing while outside
  • run in circles around our kitchen and laundry room
  • go and get one piece of dog food from the kitchen, bring it into the living room and flip it around several times before finally eating it and then going to get another piece to do the same thing with
  • turn in several circles before finally laying down
  • escaping the backyard (we found him once at the pound and once he was actually gone overnight) but always finding a way home
  • hide under the bed and refuse to come out

Max was an amazing dog. I’ll never forget the night I went into labor with my son, Max did not leave my side the whole night. I didn’t know I was going in labor as I was 11 days away from my due date. But he knew. And he made sure I was OK. Max was “my” dog. He stayed by my side for several years. It broke my heart to watch him get older, and I know in recent times, he was suffering. I hated to see him like that. It seems like just yesterday, we were bringing him home. He was with us through our wedding, our move to Cleveland from San Antonio, the birth of our daughter, numerous job changes, our move back to San Antonio from Cleveland, the birth of our son and so much more.

We are all in mourning tonight, including our other two dogs who are wondering where their patriarch has gone. I know he is up in heaven playing with Bruno, Baron, Murphy and Boomer.

Rest in Peace, Max. You are loved, and you are missed.

 

 

 

We all know that potty training your toddler can be a daunting task. But Pull-Ups and Target are working together to help make it a little easier! They are offering Disney character calls as a way to reward children!

We all know that potty training takes encouragement and time, so here’s a cool way to reward your child for going potty! For a limited time, your child can receive a free call from a Disney character! Just visit www.bigkidcalls.com or www.bigkids.mobi to have a Disney Princess or Disney/Pixar Cars character give your Big Kid® a congratulatory phone call on your cell phone.

All you have to do is simply go to the website above! You can choose Lightning McQueen’s camp or Cinderella. And it’s super easy! Simply choose what character you would like, pick which call you would like that character to make (you can choose one of three), and schedule the call! You can also play the call right there on your computer! It’s super fast and super easy, and what a great motivator for kids!

The website also has potty training tips and tools and showcases Pull-Ups Training pants designs, featuring Disney characters!

Remember to shop Target for all your potty training needs! And remember that Pull-Ups is there to help!

Now through July 8th, you can win a $25 Target gift card simply by trying out www.bigkidcalls.com and leaving a comment on this post!

This post is in compliance with WOMMA/FTC guidelines. http://bit.ly/disclosureguide

Posted by: Lea | February 10, 2011

My Name is Lea, and I am a Vinylmation Addict…

Whew. There I said it. I am a Vinylmation addict. Feels good to finally admit it. And I know it will make some who have jokingly (?) discussed having an intervention on my behalf feel better that I can admit it.

So some of you may be asking “What on Earth is a Vinylmation?”. Well, I can say they are one of the cutest little things around. Disney created these little figures in 2009. They are vinyl (duh) figures that come in 3 inches or 9 inches and are all shaped like our favorite little mouse, Mickey Mouse. Artists add their own flair to the figures. Disney releases them in series (examples: Star Wars, Park Series, Cutesters, Nerds Rock, Toy Story, Urban, Villains, Animation- the list truly goes on).

A few from the Villains collection

What is so exciting about these little guys? Well, first off is the thrill of the chase. With most series, you don’t know which one from the series you are getting. So there is a mystery in opening the box. This in turn has kicked off a new Disney trend- Vinylmation trading. People trade online or at Walt Disney World or Disneyland stores with open or closed box trades. There’s also the thrill of getting the chaser in a blind series. The chaser is a mystery release that isn’t announced until the day the new series is released. There is only one per case of 24 vinyls so it’s more rare than others. And people will pay quite a bit to get the chaser. Vinyls are also just so dang cute- they appeal to kids as well as grown-ups and make excellent mementos of a trip. Or just of a Tuesday doing some online shopping at www.DisneyShopping.com.

I started collecting them right after they came out. I now have over 135 3-inch figures and 9 9-inch figures. They are slowly taking over my upstairs Disney room. Am I about to stop? Wish I could. But every day, I find myself looking to see what series is coming out next- will it be released just at D-Street, in the parks, online or a combo. I have many discussions with other Vinylmation addicts (and you know who you are) about which ones they have, which ones they want, what they have to trade and what series they like the most. I research eBay to see if there are any good deals on vinyls that I don’t have. It’s all a tad bit sad, really, but I must say, I love it.

So as I get ready to embark on another Walt Disney World trip in a few weeks, I have a list ready of what vinyls I need. I am planning on going to D-Street to add to my collection and trade my duplicates. And I know for a fact, my kids won’t let me home without the ones they are looking for.

So, yes, I am an addict. I have an enabler and a dealer, who both live in Florida and who I love dearly (and you, as well, know who you are). Do I want to get better? No, not really…

Some of my collection

Posted by: Lea | January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- So Many With Snow Today!

Posted by: Lea | January 12, 2011

My Weight Loss Journey

Many of us begin a new year with a weight loss resolution, and I must confess, I, too, have made a resolution to lose weight in 2011. But what many of you don’t know is that I’ve gone through this before. Six years ago, I had weight to lose! I had been slowly gaining weight for years. I blamed it on the cold weather in Cleveland. I blamed it on a friend who ate whatever she wanted so I joined in. I blamed it on being lonely in Cleveland without many friends or family nearby. But at the end of the day, it was me. I was the one who accepted it. Each season, I would go and buy pants in a bigger size and put the smaller ones in the back of the closet.

In 2003, we moved back to Texas from Cleveland. I was back home. I started running in to people I knew from high school and college. I went to my 10-year high school reunion. And all the time, I knew I wasn’t happy with the way that I looked. In 2004, my husband and I went to Las Vegas for a getaway trip. When I got home, I was looking through the pictures, and I was stunned by what I saw. There was a picture of me in front of one of the dragons at the Excalibur Hotel. I was overweight. There was no other way to say it. How had I not seen it before? That was the kick in the pants that I needed. The next week, I began Weight Watchers.

Me at my heaviest

I was fortunate enough to join a Weight Watchers meeting where I had a fabulous leader and a fantastic group. We all fed off each other and learned from one another. I got recipe ideas. I learned new ways of eating, and I learned how truly bad for me the things I were eating were. I lived in Points. I followed the plan religiously. Over the course of 5 months, I lost 40 pounds. I was a Weight Watchers Lifetime member, and I not only met my weight goal, I had exceeded it by 8 pounds. I couldn’t believe the old me was hiding underneath all that fat. One thing to remember is that I never had a weight problem growing up. I was always skinny- no butt, no boobs. As I got older, the metabolism changed, but I kept eating the way I had been when I was 18. It wasn’t having a child that did it. It was just me.

Me After the Initial Weight Loss

I was so happy to have lost that much weight. I had lost more weight than my then 2-year old daughter weighed. I went crazy shopping for new clothes. And I loved buying jeans. I was into a Size 4! My husband and I went back to Vegas 9 months after that first photo, and the one thing I wanted to do was to go to the exact same spot and take a NEW photo- so I did.

I kept the weight off for a year, and then I found out I was pregnant with my son, Jack. I was so excited about his pending arrival, but I was sooo nervous about the weight coming back. But that did nothing to stop me from eating non-stop. I gained 25 pounds when I was pregnant with Riley in 2002. I gained 55 when I was pregnant with Jack. Once he was born, I knew I had work to do. I headed back to Weight Watchers when Jack was three weeks old. I started losing weight right away, but I didn’t make it down to where I needed (wanted) to be, but I was satisfied. I had gotten down to about 30 pounds below my initial starting weight. As time went on, I decided to head back to Weight Watchers. I lost the remaining 10 pounds, but I didn’t keep it off long. I had gained back about 5 of those pounds, and over the past few months the another 8 pounds have come back.

I hate to admit it, but I am very paranoid about my weight now. I tend to obsess over it (which never stopped me from eating like crap). I try not to, but after fighting so hard to lose the weight, I am secretly terrified that it will come back again. So after a food-filled holiday season, I am back at Weight Watchers. I have gone to my initial weigh in meeting and then back for my 2nd week weigh in, where I only lost .4 pounds. It’s the least amount of weight I have ever lost during my first week back at Weight Watchers. Was I discouraged? You betcha. But I know that it’s not always an easy journey. I have to work at it. I’m six years older than I was the first time so the weight may be a bit more stubborn (and I’m sure date night at the Melting Pot didn’t help either).

I’m determined to lose those pounds again. I’m also determined not to let my weight dictate my happiness. I’m not overweight now. I’m just not where I want to be, and I don’t want the cycle that started 10 years ago in Cleveland to start again.

I need some accountability so I’ll be recounting my Weight Watchers successes, failures and struggles here. Here’s hoping to getting back to my goal weight!

Me Now

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