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Keep Momming

Note: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Shire. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

As an actress, a public health advocate and former journalist, Holly Robinson Peete has seen it all. And as a mother of four, she’s encountered just about every parenting challenge you can imagine. One of her biggest challenges as mom is building and maintaining a close relationship with her teenage daughter, Ryan.

The mother-daughter relationship is a unique one, and that dynamic can be even trickier during the tween years. Yet sometimes, people dismiss certain behaviors as “typical tween girl behavior” when those behaviors can be symptoms of something more serious. Research suggests that girls are more likely than boys to report having mostly inattentive Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Since inattentive symptoms can be less noticeable than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, it is important that moms know what to look for.

I’m proud to be joining forces with Shire, CHADD and Holly Robinson Peete to announce the launch of keep momming, a new public service initiative geared towards the moms of tween girls to raise awareness of ADHD.

The campaign is anchored within a new digital hub, KeepMomming.com, where you’ll find tips, tools and other go-to resources for moms, including a checklist to help recognize the symptoms of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity – and then encourages moms to talk to their daughter’s doctor. The keep momming initiative can help moms learn about ADHD and provide ideas on how to spark a conversation and stay connected with their tween. 

Don’t miss Holly’s message about the keep momming initiativehttp://goo.gl/Uayao5, and be sure to check out the website at KeepMomming.com.

SIMPLE Service with Champions for Kids

Note:  I am participating in campaign brought to you by Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Did you know that 9.8 million kids – more than ever before – get free or reduced price school breakfast on an average day, but 10.6 million eligible kids go without? Hunger has a huge effect on how a child performs at school. In fact, 9 out of 10 teachers say having a healthy breakfast is a key to academic achievement.

I know I can tell a huge difference in my kids’ behavior and attitudes when they’re hungry, so it makes me especially empathetic toward kids who aren’t starting their day off nourished. I was really excited, then, when I learned about the Champions for Kids partnering with Kellogg Company and Diamond Foods for SIMPLE Service projects. The idea is to host or organize an event to collect breakfast foods to then donate to a local organization that serves children in need.

In the stage of life my friends and I are at, we are all incredibly busy all the time. We have kids, we’re working full time, we have baseball practices to go to and Bible school classes to teach. I thought the easiest way to organize an event to help kids would be to put out a call with friends and family for donations. I wasn’t sure how much we’d raise, but I should’ve known that the amazing people in my life would do amazing things. In just a few days we raised $200! Thank you so much to Michelle, Amanda, Jennifer, Chandra, Chemese, and Charla for your donations.

I decided to partner with the Child Advocacy Center for our donation. One of my best friends works for the center (which is a part of our police department). The Child Advocacy Center is a safe place for kids to be interviewed about severe crimes that they either witnessed or were victim of. These kids have been through nightmares, and I love the idea of providing them breakfast items and snacks that can nourish them and maybe make them feel a tiny bit better in a scary time of their lives.

I had a blast shopping for the kids. I bought granola bars, cereal bars, raisins, cranberries, squeezable fruit, applesauce, juice, shelf-stable milk, cereal, crackers, and animal crackers. While I was shopping at Walmart I even saw a Champions for Kids display:

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Here’s all the food we were able to provide for the center:

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And here’s my friend Kristi – so proud of the great work she does with kids each and every day!

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Champions for Kids has 4 easy steps for organizing your own SIMPLE Service Project at http://championsforkids.org/simple/.  And, if you share your project at championsforkids.org/share by May 15, 2014, Kellogg’s will even make a matching donation of up to 1000 breakfast items through Champions for Kids to help children in need! Even if you do something just with your family, or with a small group of friends, you can make a difference in kids’ lives. I loved the experience of our service project and am inspired to do more soon!

Have a Sweet Treat (guilt-free!) This Valentine’s Day With SPLENDA

Note: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner – and it’s even on a Friday, making it easy to set aside some time with your special someone and celebrate. We’ll be celebrating Friday evening with our three special someones – we’re having a Valentine’s “party” with the kids, complete with heart-shaped hamburgers and hot dogs (can you tell they picked the menu?). No party is complete without sweets, though, right? Well, amidst all the sugar floating around right now (chocolate and lollipops and conversation hearts, oh my!), SPLENDA offers us a way to bake treats without all the added calories from sugar.

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Have you ever baked with SPLENDA? It can be used almost anywhere sugar is used, and measures cup-for-cup like sugar. It contains 678 less calories than sugar on a cup-for-cup basis. So you can go ahead and bake those brownies or cookies and know that you’re giving your loved ones something delicious with many less calories!

One of Brian’s favorite cookies is a peanut butter cookie with a peanut butter cup in the middle, so that might be a perfect treat for me to make for the family! Here’s a link to the cookie recipe – just replace the sugar with SPLENDA to greatly reduce the amount of calories in these cookies!

So go ahead and run to the store for ingredients – I’ve even got a link for a “$1 off any SPLENDA product” coupon you can use! Just go to HealthyEssentials.com to find your coupon. HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® is offering amazing printable coupons, tips & tools and so much more for all the products you and your family love. You can get significant savings on much more than SPLENDA by visiting the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS website in February and signing up for extra-sweet HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® coupons and offers. As you prepare for a special Valentine’s Day, these HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products and tips can help you be healthy and happy for the ones you love.

To sweeten the savings, you could get a free 30 minute nutrition consultation with a Registered Dietitian when you buy $10 of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products between now and February 17, 2014 – up to $75 value!  More details on this special offer at HealthyEssentials.com.

Hope you have a sweet time with your loved ones this weekend!

Opioid Dependence {AKA Painkiller Addiction} Awareness

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

Growing up I can remember going to D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs at school, being taught all about the dangers of drugs. There are still–thankfully–many conversations going on teaching youth to avoid using drugs, but there is another source of danger regarding drugs that many people are unaware of until they’re personally affected by it: opioid dependence.

Opioids, which are prescription painkillers, are most often prescribed legally and legitimately for people recovering from something painful such as surgery or an injury. However, it can become a slippery slope very easily in which people become addicted to the painkillers. I’ve always been a cautious person, and after the births of my three children I just took over-the-counter medicine for pain relief because I did not want to take anything I might become addicted to. Many of you have probably heard of celebrities like Matthew Perry from Friends going into rehab for his addiction to painkillers.

If you or someone you know are dealing with opioid dependence, you’re not alone. This is a major health issue that affects approximately two million Americans. There ARE resources out there for you to take advantage of, like the site Turn to Help. It can help you learn how to seek treatment, which can be a scary thing to do. It’s so important to act now, because it can really take a toll on your health.

45% of adults view opioid dependence as a psychological problem rather than a physical illness, but it is a chronic medical disease that actually affects the brain and fools it into thinking that the opioid is necessary for survival. 98% of doctors say that it is treatable, and research shows that treatment can benefit from a combination of medication and behavioral changes.

For more information on opioid dependence, check out this helpful infographic below. And again, be sure to check out Turn to Help for valuable information on how to get treatment.

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Shelf Safe Milk is a Must-Have for your Pantry

Note: This post is brought to you by Milk Unleashed and the Motherhood. I was compensated for my time, but all opinions are honest and are my own. 

MilkUnleashed_CartonsYes, that’s right, I said pantry. I have to admit, until recently I had NO CLUE that shelf safe milk existed. I knew there were things like condensed milk, or powdered milk, but I didn’t know you could get regular, normal-tasting milk that can be stored unrefrigerated for months. 

You’ve probably seen shelf-safe milk before, either on your grocery store shelves or even refrigerated in restaurants and coffee shops.  I know I had seen it, but when I saw it in stores I assumed it must be different from regular milk – and when we had the milk refrigerated at a favorite restaurant, I assumed it was “regular” refrigerated milk. Now I know that it IS regular milk, but it’s pasteurized and packaged in a way that makes it extremely functional (and safe!) without refrigeration required.

Shelf safe milk is Grade A fluid milk that requires no refrigeration until the package is open, and it has NO preservatives! It has the exact same nutritional profile as the refrigerated milk you’re used to! The taste of this milk is very similar to “traditional” milk. My kids have had it (cold) and neither of them noticed a difference at all.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got questions as to HOW this milk can be kept unrefrigerated… so here’s a look at the process!

Shelf safe milk is pasteurized at an Ultra High Temperature for a shorter time to preserve taste and nutrition – you can see below how the process works compared to the process for traditional pasteurized milk:

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MilkUnleashed_PackagingOnce the shelf safe milk is heated, it is immediately put into a sterile, opaque Tetra Pak shelf-safe carton that keeps out light, air, and harmful contaminants.  Packaging is 70% paper; there’s a layer of aluminum foil to keep out oxygen and prevent spoiling, and there’s a thin layer of BPA-free plastic in the packaging as well. Because of the process and packaging, shelf safe milk lasts up to six months without refrigeration or preservatives! Once you open it, the life of the milk is about the same as “traditional” milk.

As a mom of three kids who feels like we’re always on the go, I can think of a ton of uses for shelf safe milk. It’d be really easy to toss in the diaper bag or to bring along on road trips (did I mention the individual cartons typically come with built-in straws just like juice boxes? SO easy). And just think about staying in hotel rooms – no more worrying about having a fridge in your room to keep the milk cold! I love knowing that I can give my kids a nutritious drink on-the-go, whether it’s just out around town or on longer trips. You can even freeze the milk and stick it in your child’s lunch, and it will be thawed in time to enjoy some nice cold milk for lunchtime. Another benefit to shelf safe milk is that I can keep some on hand in our pantry and never have to be out of milk (like we were this very morning, for instance)! It’d be great to have for recipes, too – or if you live in areas affected by hurricanes, it’d be a perfect addition to your emergency kit.

You can buy shelf safe milk in many grocery stores, and you can even order it online at Amazon.com!

Be sure and check out the Milk Unleashed site for tips, news, downloadable games, snack ideas and cow calendars. “Like” Milk Unleashed on Facebook for all sorts of news & info, including a contest that’s starting up soon! And don’t forget to follow them on Twitter  for news and Pinterest for recipes, projects, family activities and more!

What is Part D?

Note: I wrote this compensated post in partnership with Walgreens. All opinions and experiences within this post are honest and are my own.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how to save on Medicare Part D costs. A lot of Americans are enrolled in Medicare Part D, but many of those people don’t completely understand the benefits, or how they can save money. I love this infographic below – it gives some important facts that really paint a picture of how important it is to be aware of how Medicare Part D costs work – you might be missing out on a chance to save money if you don’t understand.
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Did you know how much you could save on prescription copays by using a pharmacy like Walgreens that  is in the network of hundreds of Medicare prescription drug plans. Walgreens also participates in the preferred networks of four national Part D sponsors.

If you or your loved one is a Medicare Part D beneficiary, be sure you’re aware of how things work and make sure you’re getting all the savings you can! Just think of what you could be spending that money on.

Note: I wrote this compensated post in partnership with Walgreens. All opinions and experiences within this post are honest and are my own. For more information on Medicare Part D, click here

Wordless Wednesday: The Color Run • Austin, TX

This past Saturday I did The Color Run with a group and we had a blast! It really is a happy 5K, and I’d highly recommend giving it a try if it comes to an area near you!

My gear – the black packet is filled with colored powder.

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Pre-race manicures:

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Me and two of my friends, all clean before the race!

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I can’t even begin to tell you how crowded it was there – there were thousands of people ahead of us, and this is the view behind us as we waited in the starting chute.

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I love blue!

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Me, post-race and pre-party:

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Me and my friend Kristi – she had already gone to the after-party:

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Color!! This part was so fun – they played great music and every 5 minutes or so they’d have everyone toss color in the air.

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This is what my mother-in-law looked like after the party:

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And here’s me:

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Can’t wait to do this one again next year!

Jorge Cruise’s Top 5 Foods to Avoid… and 5 to Indulge in, Too!

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I’m in the midst of training for my first “real” 5K (more on that later), and am on a quest to get in better shape, so I thought this info from author Jorge Cruise was fitting to share!
JORGE CRUISE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 15 weight loss books. His mission is to guarantee weight loss for busy people. Science has proven that fitness begins in the kitchen, not in the gym. By merging breakthrough dietary science with great taste he produces delicious fat melting menus. He has appeared on numerous television shows like Anderson Cooper, The Today Show, Dr OZ, The Rachael Ray Show, Good Morning America, The View, The Talk, LIVE with Kelly and Michael.
Top 5 Foods to Avoid
For anybody trying to lose weight out there, we have all heard the mantra’s of eating less or exercising more, but the new dietary science confirms that all we need to count is Sugar Calories for Extra Easy Weight Loss. I am about to show you 5 foods that you may think are healthy, but are actually spiked with Hidden Sugar Calories!!
  1. Whole Wheat Bread
  2. Couscous
  3. Quinoa
  4. Sweet Potato
  5. Brown Rice
Top 5 Indulgences to Include
For anybody trying to lose weight out there, we have all heard the mantra’s of eating less or exercising more, but the new dietary science confirms that all we need to count is Sugar Calories for Extra Easy Weight Loss. I am about to show you 5 foods that you should indulge in!!
  1. Pancakes
  2. Strawberries
  3. Jorges Chocolate Lace Cookie
  4. Wine
  5. Chocolate

I’m also getting to share one of his recipes with you – Jorge’s Chocolate Lace Cookies! This recipe is for 24 cookies:

Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup xylitol
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour (about 1/2 cup almonds ground in a coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup stevia sweetened whey protein powder
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (85% or great), chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2.  Beat together butter, xylitol, and vanilla extract until ight and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.
  3.  Whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, whey powder, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  STir dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Stir in chopped walnuts and chocolate until combined.
  4.  Spoon heaping teaspons of batter 2″ apart on prepared baking sheet.  Place in freezer for 5 min.  Remove and bake for 9-10 min.  Cookies will be lacy and spread during baking.  Cool cookies completely on baking sheet.
  5.  Store in airtight container.  Cookies crumble when exposed to air.

For more on Jorge’s current methods, please visit http://jorgecruise.com/the-method/

For more about Jorge, please visit http://jorgecruise.com/about-jorge/

For more information about Jorge’s books, please visit http://jorgecruise.com/the-books/

Not Just Cleaning… Healthing! LYSOL’s New Initiative

With kids in the house, cleaning takes on another vital role beyond just having your house look nice. You do it to stop the spread of germs, too! It took me a while to learn this lesson. When Brian and I were first married, I cleaned for aesthetics. I wanted our place to look nice, and I feel better in a clean space. I didn’t really think about germs other than making sure I washed my hands often.

Now that we have three kids, and especially with having an infant in the house, we are very conscious of how quickly germs – and illness – can spread. We’ve seen firsthand how the stomach bug can go oh-so-quickly from our older son to our younger one. And I even recently had the unpleasant experience of catching a stomach bug from our 6-month-old daughter. While I’d much rather be sick than have one of the kids catch an illness, I think everyone knows that when mom is out of commission it makes everything harder! It’s vital that we all stay well, and LYSOL recognizes the importance of that with our cleaning habits.

LYSOL has introduced the concept of Healthing, which is the extension of LYSOL and its Mission for Health. This is the motivation behind the creation of their products that are centered on killing 99.9 percent of germs and providing solutions for the home that help promote good hygiene and disinfection. The idea of Healthing goes beyond cleaning – and looks more holistically at how a healthy home helps to keep families thriving.

For LYSOL, Healthing goes beyond its products to provide the education and motivation to keep a healthy home and family.  This includes:

  • Connecting with 65,000 schools to promote healthy habits and good hygiene.
  • Providing educational programs that reach 50 percent of new moms with health and wellness related to caring for their newborns.
  • Working with trusted third-party organizations to promote the ideas that Healthing embodies, which include the National PTA, the Global Hygiene Council and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, to name a few.

LYSOL has some tips for keeping your house clean AND – more importantly – healthy. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Don’t let spring cleaning overwhelm you – take it one room at a time and stock up on products that will help you to get the job done effectively, including LYSOL® products, paper towels, sponges, and trash bags. (Check out my cleaning calendar for an easy schedule of doing a little cleaning each day!)
  2. Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting! Both are important components of the Healthing process and LYSOL® has products that can help with all related tasks. While cleaning and organizing is certainly important, killing germs on commonly touched surfaces can lower the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses between members of the family. (I LOVE this one because it’s simple but so true – it’s easy to disinfect while you do your standard cleaning, just by using great LYSOL products that allow you to get rid of germs easily).
  3. Don’t forget to disinfect places that you don’t see or think about often, like the door knobs, cabinet handles or sink drains. (YES! I’d add remotes, video game controllers, keys and phones to this list too).
  4. Make it a family activity and tailor tasks to specific age groups.  Give younger children simpler, one-step tasks like dusting or picking toys up off the floor, and save the more complex jobs, such as vacuuming, scrubbing, and disinfecting for older members of the family. (This is a great way to develop good habits in your kids from an early age. We are really starting to work with our boys on helping us with the cleaning.)

LYSOL disinfecting wipes are a staple in our house. We use them for cleaning countertops, our dining table, spills and more. I also love them for cleaning off hard-surface toys. What do you use for keeping your house clean AND your family healthy? Do you have any favorite cleaning tips?

You can find out more about LYSOL’s Healthing initiative on their website or Facebook page, and can also view their guidebook!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for LYSOL®. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Listerine 21-Day Challenge: Getting Our Mouths ULTRACLEAN!

I’ve always felt like I have good oral hygiene. I brush my teeth twice a day, after all. But then I read that brushing alone misses 75% of your mouth.  Can you believe it? I was shocked. I’m determined for our whole family to take great care of our teeth, so we are taking part in the Listerine 21-Day Challenge.

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Right now our oral care routine is pretty simple – brushing our teeth twice a day, with occasional flossing. AND, I recently learned we weren’t brushing our teeth for nearly long enough each time – you’re supposed to brush for two minutes minimum, which feels like a long time. So we definitely have some work to do!

Here are some tips we learned for adults:

  • Keep your bottle of mouthwash in a visible spot in the bathroom (out of reach of the children) along with your toothbrush and a rinsing cup so that you remember to rinse twice a day.
  • Give it time. It can take up to three weeks to form a healthy habit (hence the 21 day challenge!) – stick with it, and let the results motivate you to keep it a part of your daily routine.

And here are a couple of tips for kids:

  • Make oral care fun – turn flossing into a funny-face contest, or make brushing a “Simon Says” game by calling out different parts of the mouth.
  • Play your kids’ favorite music to help them brush and rinse as long as they should!
  • Reward healthy behavior. Offer rewards for achieving brushing, flossing and rinsing goals.

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As we participate in the Listerine 21-Day Challenge we will make sure we’re brushing the full two minutes, but more importantly we’re going to start using Listerine mouthwash. By using that, we can clean virtually 100 percent of our mouths. I am so glad we’re doing this early on with the kids so that they develop GREAT habits at a young age! Our boys are 3 & 5, and playing is MUCH more appealing than hygiene to them right now, but we want them to understand the importance of taking good care of themselves.

The boys are super excited to use their Phineas and Ferb mouthwash, and Brian and I love the clean feel we get after using the ULTRACLEAN mouthwash. It’s so nice to know our mouths are truly clean after using it!

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What’s your oral care routine like? Do you use mouthwash, or do you just brush your teeth? I hope you’ll join in and participate too – a healthier, cleaner mouth is waiting for you! You can sign up to participate at www.facebook.com/listerine – for every person who signs up for the challenge, the Listerine brand will make a contribution to help Oral Health America’s “Smiles Across America” program toward their goal of connecting 210,000 children with needed oral health services in 2013.

Some other facts to consider:

• There are more germs in your mouth than there are people on earth!

• Oral disease is now the most chronic childhood illness in the U.S.

• More than 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental disease.

It’s easy to see how important it is to take good care of your mouth. I’ll be checking in during our 21-Day challenge (we started on the first to make it easy to keep track) and letting you know how it’s going – and I’d love to hear from you, too!

Note: I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE 21 Day Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are honest and are my own.