Category Archives Guest post

A Goal Met – Evolution Fitness NY

About eight years ago, I met a group of wonderful women in my Capital District Moms group. Together, we have shared stories, inspired each other, and been a shoulder to cry on when needed. The founder of the group was Debi Condon. Over the years, I have watched this amazing woman change her path in life and follow her dreams. She balances family life, being an entrepreneur, and healthy living all while showing others that it can be done. I hope to be one of these women that Debi kicks into gear because I know I need to do this for me. The following is a guest post from this phenomenal lady. Thank you Debi for sharing your story and helping others.

Debi Condon


Have you been wanting to fit into those special pair of jeans, but notice that they just not fitting right any longer? Or what about playing outside with the kids? Are you finding you are getting short of breath trying to keep up with them? Have you just been denying that you should make the time for yourself to get back in shape? Always coming up with an excuse, saying I’ll start tomorrow, or when the baby goes down for a nap?

Debi BeforeThat was me 6 years ago. I was a mom of 3 kids all under the age of 5. I had let the post pregnancy weight stay on me and then some and I made every excuse in the book. If there was an excuse I had it: laundry to be done, dishes to put away, the house to be cleaned, errands to be done or me to just have some “down” time. I found I was constantly putting everyone first and not making the time for myself! My eating habits were not all the greatest. I would pick at whatever my kids didn’t finish, or snack all day long. I did not have the words vegetables or portion control in my vocabulary!

In December 2006, a neighbor asked me if I would like to join Weight Watchers with her and I gave her a “sure I’ll check it out with you” response. I’m not sure why I decided to go and waste the money but I did. I kept going each week with her. Each week I learned a little bit about myself and a little bit about how to make the changes I needed to make to be healthier for my kids and myself. With each passing week, I saw the weight coming off! By July 2007, I had hit my lifetime goal weight and had lost 31lbs. At that time, I started exploring Sparkpeople more often and learning about strength training, eating clean and ways to maintain my weight loss. I started having friends and family members asking me for advice and steps they should take to change their lives around. Leading me to make the decision to pursue my certification as a Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutritionist.

In April 2009, I began the process of starting my own personal training business: Evolution Fitness. I first started teaching beginner boot camp classes and then began working with individual clients. Evolution Fitness offers 1-1 personal training sessions, nutritional guidance, small group training sessions, boot camp classes, TRX training, corporate classes, and seminars. Coming soon I will be offering Zumba classes and Wellness coaching.

Trainer Debi

You are probably wondering what boot camp class is – probably thinking I’m dressed in Army fatigues, have a whistle and yelling at each participant! That is FAR from the truth! Boot camp is a 1 hour class combining cardio and strength training in each class. We are in 1 big group setting, laughing, talking, and telling jokes: anything to help each participant get through the 1 hour class and away from the thinking of what they are doing. It is designed to push your body out of your comfort zone and take your fitness to the next level. The participants in these classes really form a camaraderie amongst each other: helping to hold each other accountable, offer the support needed to keep going, and help each other through any exercises.

Each of you has the potential of changing your life. Each of you has different goals and no matter what they are, Evolution Fitness can help!

Commit to making one change at a time. If you overwhelm yourself with too many changes, you are more likely to throw in the towel. Change won’t happen overnight, so be patient, be persistent & be consistent.

For more information about Evolution Fitness head to their Facebook page, Google+ page, catch them on Twitter, and feel free to e-mail Debi –>

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CHD Awareness Week 2012

This is the third year that I’m aware of congenital heart defects (CHD)—and my third year marking CHD Awareness Week (February 7 to 14). Some of you might remember because Beth has kindly opened up her blog to me each year.

My daughter, Cora, was only five days old when she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly as I fed her in December 2009. We thought she was healthy. She wasn’t. She had a congenital heart defect.

 Baby Cora

I’d never even heard the term. Now I make it my mission to make sure that every pregnant woman and mother has at least heard the phrase.

I know it’s scary. Luckily, Cora’s story is only one. And, it’s at the worst side of the spectrum. Some of these so called “CHD babies” live to be old men and women. Some of them are even athletes, movie stars and politicians.

The face of CHD is so varied. And, because the scars are hidden, often the faces of CHD are blurred and hidden too.

About one percent of the population has a heart defect, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you compare it to other conditions, like autism (which I’ve seen various numbers for but often tapped at 1 in 110), Down’s Syndrome (1 in 800), and pediatric cancers (CHD kills more children than all forms of pediatric cancer combined). That’s not to say that those conditions need less awareness. I wish they’d get more, and I firmly believe there’s enough compassion around to advocate for them all, but I think somehow CHD has been overlooked. That’s changing. I thank Beth, and all of you, for being part of that change for standing up and speaking out for these babies and adults with hidden scars.

If you’d like to read more about Cora, visit

Kristine Brite McCormick writes about Cora (almost) daily on her blog If not on her blog, she can be found on Twitter, @kristinebrite or Cora’s Facebook Fan page, telling Cora’s Story. Follow Kristine for more information about congenital heart disease or to learn more about the acts of compassion and kindness Cora has inspired.


Note From Me: Three years ago, I met an amazing woman. A women who lost her baby girl Cora to CHD at five days old. Her strength, grace, and fight to save other children has inspired me. Today I am honored to call Kristine Brite McCormick a friend. I am so proud with how her work to get pulse ox for new born babies is taking place in more and more locations. Here is a segment that was on CNN last Friday about how Kristine and other mothers fighting for CHD awareness were wearing red for baby heart health.

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Wearing Disney Magic with My Fun Clothes

As I write this, I am in my car driving to Disney World. I have been a Disney fan for as long as I can remember. As soon as I turned eighteen I applied for a job at the Disney Store (they don’t hire anyone under eighteen). I can sing a long with any Disney soundtrack and no one I know will play Disney trivia with me because I always win.

I have passed this love onto my children. My son’s first in theater movie was Wall-E. Since then he has seen every Disney movie that has come through the theaters. My daughters’ own just about every Disney Princess book they sell at Barnes and Nobel. We took all of them to see Tangled opening weekend last November. My daughters’ are begging me to transform their Fab 5 (that’s Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto for anyone who does not know) room into a Princess room. They are Disney enthusiasts to say the least.

Last summer we took the kids to Disney World for the first time. In preparation for the trip I decided I was going to make the kids Disney wardrobes. All three kids had a Disney outfit for every single day. It was so fun. Plus, I kept it a secret and surprised them with it on arrival. I had a lot of fun making things that fit my kids’ personalities. I was able to make things that you just can’t find anywhere. I made my daughter a Lightning McQueen dress and a Buzz Lightyear dress. This summer not only do the girls have "boy" character dresses but each of my (now) four children have matching outfits of Mickey, Pooh and McQueen. You just can’t find that anywhere. It’s fun to turn the traditional "boy" characters into something for the girls. And one day I will figure out how to "boy up" princess things for the boys, like my son, who like them as well.

Lightning McQueen Dress

They got many compliments the whole week. Many people asked where I got the dresses or the shorts. People seemed surprised that I had made them. Some asked if I sold them. We came home and I spent time making different things for my children. Trying to hone my skills, to improve and feel like I actually could sell these things I make. After several months, many different internal debates and some cold feet. I opened up an etsy shop – My Fun Clothes.

I have had so much fun over the last few months making things for my children (they did, of course, need a whole new wardrobe for this Disney trip) but for other children as well. I have been proud of the fact that other children are wearing clothes I originally designed for my kids. As a matter of fact their is a little girl who will be in Disney while we are there who has two dresses that I made. I have had the opportunity to make many custom things that have been designed by parents to be the perfect fit for their children. A Tinker Bell dress – specifically green fabric Tinker Bell because the mom wanted green and Tink, a Nemo dress made from Nemo fabric I had on a different style of dress and ruffle pants with the fabric from the Tinker Bell dress – I didn’t even make that style of pants yet but the mom emailed me and we designed it together. Mostly, I have enjoyed getting to do something I love while being able to bring people exactly what they want – characters, colors and designs.

Upstatemamma's Family Dressed for Disney

Whether your children are Disney enthusiasts as well or you are just looking for something different than everyone else has please come on by and check out the shop. I have recently added some fall and Halloween things. If you do not see exactly what you are looking for just get in touch with me and we can make anything you like. It just takes a little magic and some pixie dust to make your wish upon a star come true.


I am Upstatemamma and I blog over at Our Life Upstate. I tend to write about a little of everything – from life with four kiddos to sewing to homeschooling to marriage stuff to breastfeeding to the occasional political rant and anything else that pops into my brain.

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Let Me Tell You About My Breast Friends

Hi, I’m Irene.  I’m 32 and I’m planning on having a Bi-Lateral Mastectomy.  No, I don’t have Cancer at least not yet. I’m what you call a “Previvor”.  I have the BRCA 2 mutation that leaves me with an 84% chance of having Breast Cancer by the time I’m 70. Both my mother and her birth mother had Breast Cancer. Sadly her birth mother died at 36 after losing her fight.  I don’t plan on succumbing to the same fate.


Why would anyone want to cut off their breasts if they don’t have to?

First off, I don’t want to do it.  I do however feel that I need to do it. I know it seems extreme to many people but when I look at my percentage I can’t ignore it.  Think of it this way: if you were told that when you went outside today you had an 84% chance of being hit by a bus would you want to go outside? Probably not.

I look at my son and I know I want to be there to watch him grow up.  I don’t want take a chance with my life.

Aren’t you scared?

Yes, I’m pooping my pants about it.  I was supposed to be having my surgery this fall but my husband was laid off and our current state insurance won’t cover it.  Now I have to wait even longer to get it done.  It’s bad enough having to go to the plastic surgeon with pictures of boobs (yes, I did go with pictures of what I want my new boobs to look like) and get measured and look at pictures of what I’ll look like post surgery.  I wanted the main surgery to be over with and I am a little scared that it is not put off until my husband finds a new job.

I worry about how I’m going to look. Am I going to hate them? Is my husband going to hate them? Are people going to look at me and point at my fake boobs? How will my son react to them?

I’m high risk but I don’t want to have the surgery…

It isn’t for everyone. It’s a hard decision to come to and not one that I came to lightly. I’m lucky to have the support of my husband and family. I also have a great breast specialist who even before my genetic testing had me go for annual mammograms. If you know you’re at risk take action, that doesn’t always mean surgery. Go for regular exams and make sure to do self exams.

Thinking I was alone was the hardest part for me but I found out I’m not alone. There are so many people who have the same condition and have documented their choice.  I remember it being so rough when my brother told me I was being a drama queen, and then he did a search and found women 10 years younger than me choosing the same surgery.

I’m not alone and the support I’ve found from both doctors and other “Previvors” has been amazing. I’ve chosen to be proactive and not let the disease defeat me.

For more information on the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations check out:

Bright Pink

Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE)

Update January 5, 2013 from TheAngelForever:

Since Irene wrote this post, a lot has changed. She moved with her family, became the coordinator for the Memphis FORCE group, and scheduled her surgery. The date is this week when she will have a bilateral mastectomy and start reconstruction. She will have expanders that will be filled each week until she reaches the desired size to have implants. On her personal blog, Irene has written about coming to terms with her femininity before her surgery date. Once Irene is feeling better I will update again. Wishing her the best of luck as she moves forward with being a Previvor.


The Crafting Hobbit is a mommy  to an amazing little guy and wife to a loving (although sometimes frustrating) husband. Both of which have Asperger’s. She became an Earth friendly, crunchy, granola mommy and loves her   return to the simpler things in life.

She knits, sews and dabbles in other crafts and love creating things.  She tested positive for the BRCA 2 mutation and  will be undergoing a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.

The Crafting Hobbit

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Tuesday Tales – Bad Kitty and the Reluctant Reader

Tuesday Tales

I have a struggling, reluctant reader. He seems to have better things to do with his time than read a book. When it’s time to sit down and read a book, he will do things like

  • Announce it is time to have "Guinea pig time"
  • find one of our cats to go "love" (Read: maul.)
  • build with Legos
  • find my old Game Boy Advance and play a round of some random old game and ask me for tips.
  • Anything he can do to avoid reading a book. Of any kind.

So, thus far, my motto has been "If he’ll read it, I don’t care." And we have had very, very little luck picking a book that will keep him interested long enough to actually work on reading skills past looking at the pictures. A few months ago, I was at a book fair and came across a book that I had heard about and never really dug into. This was for no other reason than I had been reading other things. I found this:

Bad Kitty Cover

I figured a cat that looked like one of ours, doing insane things would at least get the Shrimp’s attention.

WARNING TO ALL WHO HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK BEFORE please pre read this book, as you will not be able to share this book with your child without laughing hysterically .

The initial Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel is what seems like a simple ABC book where Bad Kitty runs out of her favorite foods and her owners try to feed her healthy foods. That goes nowhere well, as Bad Kitty does things that are just so naughty-like tip over her litter box in protest. This book had us in giggles until it hurt. Isaac tried to read some of the words himself without prompting, which was new to us! So, since this book was such a huge hit, I figured I’d try to find more in the same vein. Whoah. Wait. There are MORE in the Bad Kitty series? Wait. They are CHAPTER BOOKS?! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! Our next stop was at the library to test these out. We found this:

Bad Kitty from Library

Isaac immediately asked to check it out and if we could read it when we got home. We read it through in a matter of two days. It was one of the most reading heavy weeks we’ve had since the real reading instruction started!

The book is picture heavy, yet still full of words that are decodable. The chapters are short, and have produced a serious sense of accomplishment with Isaac, because he can read two chapters in a night. Then, there’s the fun factor. The pictures and the type are just a real joy to read. They engaged Isaac quickly and kept him going through the book. He loved the search for Kitty to get her into the tub.

These books are my favorite for reluctant readers. The vocabulary is not intimidating, the pictures help when the reader is a bit lost in the emotion of the story, and Bad Kitty-she’s just funny. It is the only series of books that have us running back to the library for more.

Now, please excuse me. I need to go listen to Isaac read Bad Kitty Vs. Uncle Murray and try not to spit soda out of my nose and ruin the library book.

Check out the video trailer here for the series. Classic!

Laura is a mom, teacher, knitter and a former Disneyland (ANAHEIM!!) cast member with a penchant for Star Wars. She always wanted to be a Jedi when she grew up. Come visit her at My 3 Ring Circus of a Life, where she details all of the stuff she can’t make up.

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