Koko-Loco!

I’ve had a gym membership for the past 5 years. Now, ask me how many times I’ve used it. I honestly hate the gym. I would only say that I hate about 5 things on the planet, but the gym is one of them.

 

It has been suggested that if I paid for a membership, the financial guilt would make me go. It didn’t. The feeling of dread I get when walking into a gym is like that of knowing you are gearing up for a bad date. My “let’s just get this over with” attitude only confirmed that this was NOT the love of a Lifetime for me. I never felt the stress-free, empowered and energetic environment people claim to achieve at the gym.

 

Once, about 4 years ago (while pregnant with Capri), I cried while walking on the treadmill. I wanted to be ANYWHERE but there. The top 40 music, lululemon outfits, treadmill gymnastics, house of mirrors is SO not my thing.

Last year, I read the quote:

“The best workout is the one you’ll do”.

I thought long and hard about what this would be for me.

I knew I needed to find someplace I was more “compatible” with. As fate would have it, my boys karate class was a few doors down from a brand-new place opening up named Koko FitClub. I decided to “window shop” this new place while my boys were in class. What I saw was right up my alley: Quaint, peaceful, quick and personalized! I braved opening the door and asking a few questions. The person at the desk happened to be the franchise owner Dave West. He showed me around even did a free demonstration to show me how the “Smartrainer” worked. It was like having a video personal trainer show me what to do for a full body 30-minute strength-training workout. There were also treadmills and elliptical machines with audio programs for a variety of levels. It was not intimidating at all. I loved that.

I won’t get into the details of it, but it took some convincing to get my husband to agree to me leaving the BIG gym he loved so much that also had a fabulous daycare. He didn’t get why I would want to leave the Godzilla of fitness facilities to become a “Koko-nut” (the affectionate name for Koko lovers)! Luckily, at my sons Cactus Little League silent auction a Koko FitClub one month membership was offered. :)  I bid on it and WON! That was this past April and it has been a match made in heaven ever since! One month was all it took and I fell in love. It is like having a personal trainer, cheerleader and assistant who keeps track of my workouts all in one. Everyone starts out with a white lanyard. The more workouts you complete, the more points you earn and move up the color scale in lanyards. I am only 2,000 points away from my orange lanyard. It’s a really fun incentive & it helps you recognize the veteran Kokonuts. :)

I am now a full-fledged KOKO-NUT and proud of it. I no longer dread going to workout. As a matter of fact, I don’t even call it a gym…. I call it the “spa” where I exercise. There are no walls covered in mirrors, everyone knows your name and I’m pretty sure I heard the Breakfast Club soundtrack yesterday. I have worked out more in the past 4 months than I did in the past 5 years combined. Koko has been good for both my physical and mental health and it is certainly something I could see myself doing forever!

I wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out. The fact is we ALL need to exercise, so why not enjoy it?! Check out Koko FitClub if you are looking for a change, getting in shape for a special event, ready to break-up with your old gym, recovering from an injury or even if you have never exercised before. Did I mention that each workout is only 30 minutes?! Amazing.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: If you join and mention that you heard about it from me- we EACH get a FREE month!

Main website: http://www.kokofitclub.com

Scottsdale location website: http://www.scottsdale.kokofitclub.com  Owners are Dave & Suzanne West or Alan Cohen. Also, check out the Yelp reviews here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/koko-fitclub-of-scottsdale-scottsdale#query:koko%20fit%20club

There is no such thing as TMI today….

NOTE to READERS: This post contains images of (my) removed skin, stitches and bruising. STOP reading now if these are not images want to see & learn more about. I went back and forth in my mind about how descriptive or visual I should be when writing this post. I ultimately decided to write it as honestly as possible. This includes candid pictures of exactly what I would want to see as the reader.

 {Let’s consider this an updated letter to 16 year old me}

As I mentioned in a previous post titled ”Dear 16 year old me“, I was told in April that I needed to have two areas of abnormal cells removed ASAP. I was informed by the dermatologist that this is considered surgery, but I would be awake through the entire process and could drive myself home. My husband decided to come along for the fun anyhow. :)

Quick Recap: I had 4 freckles/moles removed in April. They were not huge or crazy looking. They were normal size, but two of them were pretty dark. Those two biopsies came back abnormal. Both were on my stomach. Considering I haven’t worn a two-piece swimsuit in a while, I knew this damage was done YEARS ago. See evidence below:

Trying to change my ethnicity while on our Honeymoon in Hawaii- June 2003

My dermatologist confirmed that almost all of the surgeries he does today are abnormal areas from time spent worshipping the sun long ago. In short, along with the joys of aging…… you get to pay the price for the sins of your younger self as well. Happy Friday Everyone!

On June 7th, I went in to have a larger area of tissue surrounding the two abnormal sets of cells cut out. The dermatologist looked at me crazy when I asked if I could film the removal with my iPhone for my blog. My husband rolled his eyes & put his hand to his forehead. I conceded to pictures. Video would have been really cool though!

Here is what happened:

1. My dermatologist drew (with a marker) around the area he was going to cut out on both spots.

2. A nurse injected both spots with numbing medicine. This is the part that hurts the most. Each poke of the needle felt like a bee sting. This also caused the are to “puff up” a little bit.

3. The dermatologist cut out the abnormal tissue and placed it in a cup for biopsy. The goal is to have “clear margins” to be sure ALL of the abnormal cells were removed.

4. Stitches! I definitely did not realize how large these incisions would be. They were covered with a waterproof bandage and I was sent home with antibiotics & pain meds.

5. One week follow up appt. for stitch removal and biopsy results. CLEAR MARGINS :) I did have a significant amount of bruising and was told that it was not normal to bruise quite so much. What can I say… I’m a daffodil.

My scars today (3 weeks after surgery):

I know that I am lucky. My abnormal cells were caught early and in a place that I can cover up with clothing. It could have just as easily been on my face…. or yours. Please use proper sun protection (SPF 30 is ideal). A future post is already in the works for my best sunscreen tips for every member of the family!

As a former teacher, I believe knowledge is power and graphic images DO make an impact. My hope is that people will share this post with teenagers & loved ones they know who worship the sun. That means you- please think of one person you could share this with via social media or e-mail. You could help prevent future melanoma for someone you love.

 My new favorite quote:

 When it’s you versus the Sun…. the Sun ALWAYS wins!

Happy Father’s Day Nick Jones

This is my first year having a blog while celebrating Father’s Day for my husband Nick. So… I figured what better way to thank him for being such an amazing Dad than to give him some free press on the website he provides emotional and creative support for?!

My husband is a quiet guy, who in the blogging/FB world prefers to take a back-seat. Much to his embarrassment, I am going to drag him front and center for some screen time.  In the spirit of saving paper……here is our virtual card to you this year:

Kai, age 7:”I like when you let me sleep with you. You are the BEST because you ride bikes with us. I love you Dad. You are the best Dad in the world”!

 

Presley, age 5 & a half:”I like watching basketball with you. My favorite place to go with you is fun gym. I love you so much Dad”!

 

Capri, age 3:”Daddy lifts me up in the air so I fly. I love Daddy”.

 

Photo by Bloom Photography

Me: “From the moment I met you and your family, I knew you would be a great Dad. It would be impossible for you NOT to be with the examples you had to follow. I wanted a man who would be more than just “Mom’s husband”. I wanted a FATHER for my future children. I got even more than I bargained for! You are loving, responsible, strong, accountable, kind and {most importantly} present in their lives. Thank you for being my Prince Charming AND our kids Hero”.

Happy Father’s Day Honey!!!

Simply Good Father’s Day- Ideas for every Dad

Father’s Day is THIS Sunday, June 17th.

Just 2 more days to pull something together!

Here is a list of Simply Good Ideas for every man in your life:

  • Expectant Father: A COACH” T-shirt for the delivery room and list of reasons WHY you are so happy you chose him to be your Baby Daddy.
  • New Dad: Wireless headphones to watch TV in silence while the baby sleeps, Diaper Dude “Dad Bag” see here: http://www.amazon.com/Diaper-Dude-Bag-Black/dp/B000G2B2PY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339768915&sr=8-2
  • Outdoorsy Dad: After seeing a million ads online and in print, I started asking around if Dad’s really like all of that stuff the major stores feature as gift ideas. Apparently, the outdoors-men DO like camping, fishing, golfing and hunting equipment as gifts for Father’s Day! A few guys I talked to requested a coupon (for a day off) to go and enjoy the outdoor activity in peace!
  • White Collar Dad: The business-minded bunch are usually moving 100 mph before they settle down for Father’s Day. How about a delicious breakfast (in bed or on the patio) followed by a surprise massage appointment? Head over to Groupon and plan ahead OR Groupon NOW (the day of only) to find special deals near you ONLY valid on Sunday (Father’s Day). Also, bestow upon him a framed photo of his new legacy for his desk.
  • Electro Dad: These guys always have a “new toy” they’d love to have, but don’t want to buy for themselves. Go ahead….. make his day. You’ll feel like you are watching a kid open a Christmas present. :)
  • Laid Back Dad: If I were a Dad- this would be my category: Encourage relaxation with a Hammock, Favorite Movie, Coupons for Butler Service, New Slippers or Robe.
  • The Honorary “Dad”: This guy may not have raised you, but whether it’s a distant family member, friend, or former coach. Let him know you care. A simple card can go a long way when it’s written from the heart. Here is a free printable card via The Tomkat Studio. Just add the love. http://www.thetomkatstudio.com/free-printable-fathers-day-cards/
  • Grandpa: I don’t know if there is anything cuter than watching a Grandfather with his grand kids. These guys hold a special place in my heart. Consider taking the time to research the family history on http://www.ancestry.com and giving it to him in a binder or scrapbook with some old, black & white family photos. If your family patriarch acts like a big kid himself, do something unexpected and treat him to a trip to an arcade with the grand kids!
  •  Great-Grandpa: My kids are lucky enough to have one of these! We call him Papa. He just turned 80 last November and has energy to burn. His only ailment has been his hearing, so this year I think {wink} he might be getting some super-duper wireless headphones for watching TV. I also give him a new photo of the kids each year and write him a little note about what new things they are doing.

The only MUST for a Simply Good Father’s Day is showing the big guy some LOVE. Everyone does it differently. Make it special……just like him.

 

1 year since Trisha

{Disclaimer to my readers: This post may be riddled with errors and rambling because I cried through most of it. It felt good though— free therapy!!}

Cinco de Mayo 2011 was the last time I saw my friend Trisha a.k.a “Fishy”. {She was a swimmer in high school and Fish just rhymed so well with Trish :) } It warms my heart to know that the last time I saw her she was smiling, laughing and holding her daughter Addyson while she bounced along to the music the bigger kids were dancing to. 22 days later, Trisha died. Her heart. Her death was sudden and very shocking.

Trisha on her 30th birthday

Christian. Loving. Motherly. Resource Teacher. A fantastic friend. Age 30. The worlds most distinct laugh!!!

I will never pretend to know what it must be like for Don, Trisha’s husband. He has lost his love, partner in parenting and best friend. Addyson (their daughter) will grow up without her mom beside her which continues to break my heart. She will be nurtured over time by incredible love from all sides, but will only know her mom through our stories and pictures. That will never seem “fair”.

 

Trisha’s family (she had two sisters) miss her more than words can describe. They are constantly telling stories about her and laughing.

For me it was something surreal….

Losing a friend is strange- it’s a different kind of grief. No one buys you flowers, sends sympathy cards or calls to check-in. You are there to support the family, bring food, help with plans and be the shoulder to cry on. Where does your grief fit in? Obviously, you don’t dare compare it to the grief or the husband, child or family. But still… it’s there. You are reminded of it every morning when you wake up. People hear about your friend and think it’s sad, but move the conversation to a different direction quickly. I am not upset by this, just curious. What are you supposed to “do”? Nothing much I guess. I met Trisha when we were both 14 our Freshman year of High School. Our friendship continued through college, weddings and beautiful babies. I suppose I just never want to feel as if our friendship has “ended”. Instead, I try to look at it as a gift.

My eyes still well up with tears when I think of moments with Trisha. I dream about her (looking fabulous as ever). I laugh when I think of funny memories with her. I hear her laugh randomly in my head (so distinct I wish I had it on tape), BUT I don’t get funny texts from her anymore. I miss that. I miss her turn at “story time” which is when we do a round-table discussion (on girls nights) about what is going on in our lives.

My heart hurts when I think of how much she loved her daughter Addyson. She really was her greatest dream come true. Becoming a mom meant everything to her. Last year, Trisha passed away one week before Addyson’s 1st birthday. We rallied together to give her the party Trisha wanted. ALL of Trisha’s very best friends pulled together to make her vision for a summer “Beach Party” become a reality. You cannot imagine how difficult this was. The party was already scheduled (by Trish) for what ended up being 1 day after her funeral service. Invitations had been sent, the cake was ordered and we KNEW she would want her little girl to have a 1st birthday party no matter what. Here is a photo from that day.

You can barely see them in this photo, but we all have “Angelfish” necklaces in honor of Trish. They are so simple and beautiful. I rub mine every time I’m thinking about her. I haven’t taken it off at all for a year. I’m still not going to for a while. I just love (symbolically) keeping her close to my heart.

Sometimes, someone who is not supposed to die does. When that happens- be grateful you had the privilege of knowing them, laughing with them & sharing (inappropriate) stories with them.

Thank you for being my friend Fishy. I love you. I miss you. Good Times.

Simple Baby Doll Nursery

As we head into summer, I am trying to clear out the items (both toys and clothes) that the kids have outgrown and maximize the playing time with the stuff they still love. Three children will be home all day, every day for the next 3 months. This means that in order to avoid hearing “I’m bored” on repeat- toys and activities need to be easily accessible. However, a strong organization system has to be in place so that the kids can clean up ON THEIR OWN when I say, “Daddy is on his way home”!

I am always rethinking uses for items around the house. My most recent project involves Capri’s baby dolls. Well, to tell you the truth — most of them were MY baby dolls that I couldn’t bear to sell when I was twelve and had “outgrown” them. {My Magic Nursery dolls were my favorites} Since birth, Capri has collected a small arsenal of babies between birthday, holidays and yard sales. I asked her to choose her favorites and give them to me for a “special project”. The rest were adopted out at our garage sale earlier this month.

I wanted to find a fun way to store her babies, but also make them easy for her to play with & put away. I found an under-bed box with a missing lid in the hall closet & thought…PERFECT. I had saved all of my hospital baby blankets in anticipation of Capri using them for play. I also had a few pairs of baby tights she had outgrown- I pulled out the pink & blue pair to make beanies for her babies and sent the rest to Goodwill.

Baby Capri's feet!

I made a copy of Capri’s footprints from the hospital when she was born & put them on to labels for each baby. At this point, my boys were intrigued and had to get involved. They wanted to name the boy babies and help measure & weigh them.

These were my two favorite names chosen by Capri: Lily & Iloveyou

 

 

 

It turned in to such a fun little activity for them. I am an STELLAR swaddler, so I passed on that useful life-lesson to the boys as well ;)  We wrapped her favorite babies into blanket burritos and put an up-cycled beanie hat on each one. After each baby doll was named, measured and weighed…. we placed them in the new “nursery” {the under-bed box}.

Now, her babies not only look cute, but have a special place to sleep that is easily stored away. That’s a real Magic Nursery!

MAY a.k.a The month life caught up with me!

I have a confession to make: I was planning a surprise for my Simply Good Living readers. I thought the month of May and “Beauty Week” was the perfect time to launch my first vlog {video blog}! I was wrong. After filming my first video, attempting to edit and upload, it turned into a total failure!!!  To add to the fun, I somehow deleted ALL of my subscriber e-mails!!! {Beauty week= BUST}

This month has brought a sweet friend’s new baby, a yard sale multiple birthday parties, teacher appreciation & Mother’s Day. Most distracting for me right now- it has been one year since the last time I saw my dear friend Trisha who passed away on May 27th 2011. I’d known Trisha since we were 14. This month has gotten the best of me. Bear with me as I limp along.

I am not giving up. Instead of beating myself up about it, I am putting “vlogging” on hold until I have more time to dedicate to doing it right. By next month, the anniversary of Trisha’s death will have passed & the kids will be home for summer. Beauty Week 2.0 will be up and (hopefully) I will have a brand new Simply Good Giveaway for my dedicated fans. Lots to look forward to! PLEASE: sign-up for subscription e-mails after you finish reading this!!! Thank you :)

It’s been 1 year since the Royal Wedding {and Party}!

 

Mommies like to play dress up too!

Let’s file this under the “Because life is too short not to have fun” party category. Prince William WAS going to be my husband (if you’d asked me in the early 1990′s), but then I met a dashing gentleman by the name of Nicholas Jones in 1999 and the rest is history. So Will had to move on and find someone else (I’m sure he had a very difficult time)…….enter Kate Middleton.

I have to admit: I love the girl. She is classy, fashionable, friendly and has settled into royal life with ease. After the announcement of their engagement, I decided to throw a “Royal Wedding Party” last year to celebrate the nuptials of my imaginary friends Will & Kate. {You can imagine the look on my husband’s face when I told him what I was planning. I think sometimes he wonders who he married.}

So how exactly do you plan a Royal Wedding Party? Let me tell you the 3 most important steps:

1. Hire a Photographer! Michelle from Bloom Photography laughed when I told her what it was for, but was happy to help! Her website: http://www.hellobloom.com

2. Order a cake. I chose Blue Velvet for this Royal Event :) We all cut it holding hands together. It looked like a mass sister-wives wedding!!!

 

3. Make wedding dresses or Bridesmaid dresses the dress code. See- you really can wear them again! Fitting into them is a whole different issue. We had TWO rip that night!

A few other fun things I did-

Wedding Bell Cocktail Recipe by Kristy Kay

1 part Dole Orange, Pineappple, Banana Juice

1 part Whipped Cream Vodka

Thank you to all of my wonderful guests who are good sports and go along with my craziness!!! Here is a look back at the fun we had just one year ago:

If you are in the mood for a quick montage of all the Royal Wedding events complete with music by Colbie Callait:

 

 

Meet Simply Good Kid- Jordan

Every now and then life sets something in your lap that is just too good to ignore. That happened for me recently when a teacher friend told me about a very special student at her school. She suggested that I might want to showcase this wonderful girl on my blog……..she was right! I was already tossing around the idea of featuring cool kids who care about the earth. This conversation was a sign from the tree hugger heavens!

Simply Good Kid- Jordan (age 10)

Meet our very 1st SIMPLY GOOD KID: Jordan, a 10 year old enthusiast of all things green. She is a bundle of eco-friendly energy who loves to spread her message to her family, friends and everyone! She is cute, funny and very enthusiastic about her mission go green project {http://www.missiongogreen.org} which started it all.

My interview with Jordan:

 When you first hear the expression “going green” what did you think it meant? “First heard it in Preschool, but didn’t understand what it meant until Kindergarten when I learned more about it”.

Do your friends ask you what this is all about? “They want to help, they think it’s cool. It would be fun to do a green film with my friends”.

What can parents do to get their kids involved in caring about the earth?  “Do it themselves. Set an example. Encourage them by saying ”You did a great job” … Compliment them. Let them do it”!

A fun idea Jordan wanted me to include: Whenever a light is left on by a kid- Yell  VAMPIRE!

(because they are sucking up energy)

What is your favorite eco-friendly product? “Reusable water bottles. My family also grows our own vegetables. We buy organic stuff, cotton shirts & second hand books”.

 

What will you be doing on Earth day this year (Sunday the 22nd)? “Promoting my video and maybe singing a song to the earth :)

What do you want to be when you grow up? “Speaker for mission GO GREEN, Interior designer AND photographer”.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t busy spreading your Go Green message? “Right now I am reading the Harry Potter series for the fourth time”!

“I also like to spend time with family. We play games, dance in the living room, and do crafts”.

Jordan recently made this YouTube video (below) with the help of her family. Mom served as videographer while Dad and Brother Cameron, age 6, scored starring roles. I’d love it if you showed your support for this GREEN girl by leaving a comment or encouraging words!

Thank you to Jordan for caring about the Earth, trying to make a difference and for being a SIMPLY GOOD KID! We need more kids like you in the world. :)

Readers and Fans: If you know of a SIMPLY GOOD KID who I should feature on Simply Good Living.com – please contact me at kk@simplygoodliving.com or send me a message on the Simply Good Living facebook page. I would like to choose one child per season (4 per year).

 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

As the end of the school year approaches, I am trying to stay up to date on all of my children’s school related events, celebrations and keepsakes. Honestly, sometimes I feel as though each child could use their own secretary. {Anyone want a job? }

Why not throw another project in the mix since I have all the time in the world to devote to cute ideas for my kids….. isn’t that right Pinterest?!

 

Here is the latest project via Pinterest- “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” keepsake book signed by each of my child’s teachers. It will be given to each child as a High School Graduation gift. The time frame is up to you (could be for 8th grade graduation instead). I am posting about this a month before the end of school so you will have enough time to prepare if you’d like to do it!

Supplies you will need:

  1. A copy of Dr. Suess’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”
  2. Tape
  3. A manila envelope. I wanted something the kids couldn’t see through.
  4. A cover sheet (feel free to copy my simple template here: Oh, the places you’ll go cover sheet) explaining the project to each teacher.

I typed up a quick letter describing the project to the teachers. This saves me trying to explain the surprise in front of my children. Each letter is personalized with the child’s name. Then, I taped it to the front of a manila envelope and slipped the book inside.

 

My kids teachers have been so wonderful about writing such sweet messages that tell about their time with my child. Each one has a special story or message. I have to give a special shout out to Mrs. Kyzer (Kai’s Kindergarten teacher) who moved to Idaho last year. When I told her about this idea over e-mail she said, “We’ll make it happen”! Sure enough, it arrived in the mail 2 weeks ago with love. {HUGS TO IDAHO FROM THE JONESES}.

That’s all for now, it’s a pretty simple idea, that will become more meaningful with each year that passes. It makes me want to cry thinking about wrapping these up as a gift for High School graduation!