Tsue ~ That's What She Said: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Safe, Natural Choices ~ For My Daughter, For Me ~ #CrystalRollOn Deodorant #CBias

When my daughter travels for Lacrosse tournaments, we always ensure that we grab any supplies and toiletries well ahead of time, as the days before she leaves are often filled with extra homework, practice and other preparations.

As seasoned pro now, for packing for her travels, she remembers to give me her supply list ahead of time.  As I looked over her latest list, filled with the usual: snacks to keep her fueled up, as well as assorted beauty and bath products, I paused upon seeing deodorant on her list.

Our family has been challenging ourselves to take our personal and household items to the next "green" level, and, in the process, have become more thoughtful and conscientious in many of our purchases.  Just beyond October, National Breast Cancer month, I    had recently read an article, citing growing concern over women's use of traditional deodorant products.

Although the American Cancer Society is not issuing warnings about women's use of traditional deodorant and antiperspirant products, they do acknowledge that the presence of aluminum in most mainstream deodorants may possibly be a factor, contributing to a change in the estrogen receptors in the breast.  This has the potential for concern as  estrogen can spur the growth of both cancerous and non cancerous breast cells.

Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants. They block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin's surface. Some research has suggested that these aluminum compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that using the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer.
Studies have looked at the aluminum content of breast tissue, and aluminum absorption through the skin, but no clear link to breast cancer has been made. Researchers continue to look at this possible breast cancer risk factor, and more studies are needed.  
         The American Cancer Society.

With this in mind, out of both love and concern for the well being of my daughter, as well as myself, I decided there were plentiful reasons to explore safer choices and too few reasons not to.  Beyond the possible contribution to the development of breast cancer, there are simply ingredients in most deodorants that need not come in contact with our bodies.

Before shopping, I took a moment to explore the ingredients in the deodorants currently in our home.  What I discovered was quite unappealing.

Active Ingredients: Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly  
Inactive Ingredients: Cyclomethicone, Stearyl Alcohol, PPG 14 Butyl Ether, Phenyltrimethicone, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG 8 Distearate, Fragrance, Cornstarch, Polysaccharides

 While I was not confident about the safer selections I might find at Walmart, I was determined to make the effort.  The selection of deodorants was massive, with numerous brands, styles and formulas.

At first, I was disheartened, thinking that Walmart did not carry any natural deodorants.  However, perseverance paid off, as I finally located a small selection way above my eye line, on the very top shelf of the section.

I selected the Crystal Roll On, knowing my daughter would find the look of it appealing.  I appreciated the price, as well the ingredients:  Purified Water (Aqua), Natural Mineral Salts (Potassium Alum), Cellulose.

Crystal ~ Respect The Body

My discovery feed my curiosity and I was inspired to explore the section for more natural products.  Much to my surprise, I found a wide variety of natural products, from hair care, body treats and skin care, to acne control and lip products.  I selected a variety of natural bath and beauty products for my daughter, myself and my family to try, feeling satisfaction in knowing I was making safe, healthy choices; not only good for my family, but better for the environment!

Explore the natural selections I discovered at Walmart via my Google + pictorial shopping trip.

Our Take
Both my daughter and I have been using the Crystal Roll On for two weeks.  We both appreciate the ease and lightness of the roll on formula, as compared the the thick, chalky product we previously used.  In regard to performance, we have both found it to work just as well, if not better, than our old, traditional deodorant.  Even in the heat of competition in Florida, my daughter reported, Crystal performed wonderfully.

In this season of family, reflection and the giving of thanks, I found myself filled with appreciation, both for the companies that produce natural products, but also that Walmart carries such a wide selection, making it easy for me to shop naturally.  We love finding new ways to be kind to the Earth, kind to each other, as well as ourselves.  I am thankful for learning about ways to keep my family and myself safer and healthier.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias.  The opinions and experience above are both honest and my own.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Adding Elegance and Seasonal Scents to Your Holiday Decor ~ Candlewarmers ~ Review & Give It Away

Got candles? Love wickless candles? Love fragrance? Candlewarners.com probably has a warmer, a candle holder, and a scent to fit just about anyone's decor at pretty decent prices!! These make wonderful gifts!!
Candlewarmers.com originated in 2001 and has grown rapidly since. Candle Warmers, Etc. commitment to enhancing the home with affordable and safe candle warmer appliances and accessories has contributed to its success with several varied product lines. Among the Candle Warmers, Etc. product categories are: traditional plate candle warmers, candle warmer lamps and lanterns, the Jamie Clair line of wicked/wickless candles, candle warmer lamp accessories.

With styles ranging from classic to innovative and a selection of candles certain to please the most discerning of scent lovers, Candlewarmers has a full array of products you'll love to add to your home decor, as well a wonderful gift selections.

Tin Punched Candle Warmer Lantern

I was given an opportunity to explore the Cookie Jar Candle Warmer Crock in Antique White and paired it with a delightful Jamie Clair Candle in Pumpkin Spice.

This decorative and unique Ceramic Cookie Jar Warmer Crock is designed to warm and melt candles 3 to 4 times faster than plate warmers, releasing the candle's fragrance.  Large enough to accommodate most 22 oz to 26 oz and smaller candles, each style adds the perfect touch of warmth and elegance to any home decor.

The Cookie Jar Warmer fit into my kitchen decor and the enticing Pumpkin Spice aroma adds to the ambiance, providing us with the cozy and comforting essence of fresh baked seasonal treats, even when my busy schedule prevents me from baking.

Candlewarmers.com has offered to send three winners selected from one rafflecopter across all of the gift guide blogs each an Aurora Candle Warmer Lamp(winner's choice) with winner's choice of candle fragrance- a $54.98 value!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Decorating With Scents of the Season ~ ScentSicles Scented Ornaments ~ Review & Give It Away

There is little doubt that an important part of decorating for the Christmas holiday season goes beyond putting up your tree.  From little touches throughout your home to extravagant light displays outdoors, how you dress your home for the holidays sets the mood for your family's festivities.

Whether your style has your home bursting with Ho, Ho, Ho, or if your style is more subtle and refined, often it is the simple touches that make the difference, scents included.  You'll notice the the effect of seasonal scents as you shop, as you pass a bakery filled with seasonal delights, or a display of candles.  While those naturally occurring scents can have a significant impact on your mood, in other locations you'll find that the staff has intentionally applied seasonal fragrance.  The result of these appealing aromas has the ability to relax you, as well as increase your seasonal spirit.

Adding touches of seasonal scents to your home's holiday decor creates comparable results and in planning your holiday theme, should not be overlooked.  ScentSicles from EnviroScent make it simple to add your favorite holiday essences, to enchant your guest and add the finishing touches to your decor.

Created from the natural fibers of renewable resources, ScentSicles aromatic ornaments are infused with pure fragrance and are available in four seasonal varieties:  Cinnamon Spice, Fresh Cut Spruce, Fresh Cut Fir and Fresh Cut Pine.  These delightful ornaments are available in six pack sets and come complete with hooks to add just the right fragrant touch to your holiday tree, with the scents lasting for 30 days.

You can purchase ScentSicles at many major retailers, such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walmart and Lowe's, as well as purchase directly through the EnviroScent site.  At only $8.95 for the six pack set, ScentSicles are easy on your budget but can make a big impression.

Generously being given an opportunity to test both the ScentSicles Fresh Cut Fir as well as the Cinnamon varieties, I can attest that these subtle ornaments can transform your space with their fragrance in a very pleasing fashion.  While I love the ability to lend a fresh cut essence to our artificial Christmas Tree, the Cinnamon Stick ornaments are my favorite.

EnviroScents is generously offering That's What She Said readers an opportunity to enter to win two six packs of ScentSicles Ornaments in Fresh Cut Fir and Cinnamon Stick!  This giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18+ and will end on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 12:01am.



On behalf of Scentsicles and That's What She Said, thank you to all entrants for following and participating; you are appreciated!

I received ScentSicles to explore for the purposes of creating this feature.  The opinions above are both honest and my own.  EnviroScent is supplying the prizes and is responsible for shipping.  Facebook is not responsible for this giveaway, nor involved in any fashion.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reduced Calorie Baked Treats With #ClearAmerican Water For My Family ~ #Recipes #CBias

After a hearty Thanksgiving holiday full of rich feasting, and in the midst of the predictable after-guilt, I have been contemplating ways to treat my family with reduced calorie goodies for the next round of holiday meals.  My parents began adjusting their baking a few years ago, in the interest of continued health and longevity; I try to remember their tip to substitute applesauce for sweetener in recipes when I bake.  My kids love the results and I feel great about offerings them healthier treats.

While grocery shopping this weekend, I made a point to keep an eye out for other likely candidates for recipe substitution.  Although my children visited my sister's family in Alabama for the Thanksgiving holiday, a special treat in itself, as they don't see their cousins as often as we would like, they were due to arrive home today and I wanted to surprise them in the morning with fresh baked muffins to fuel them up for school.

With need of some fresh fruits and veggies, as well as the goal of finding some new, lower calorie recipe substitutes for my muffin recipe, I stopped into Walmart for a quick trip.  Although ripe blueberries were not an option at this time of year, I made certain that the frozen berries I chose were sugar free.

En route to the cereal aisle, I found a display of Clear American Sparkling Water liters in a wide array of fruity flavors.  Upon inspecting the Nutrition Facts and seeing 0 calories, sugar and sodium, not to mention the attractive price of .68 a bottle, I knew I had found another viable solution!  With my childrens' favorite flavors, as well as my muffin recipes in mind, I decided to pick up bottles of Raspberry Apple and Pom Blue Acai.  Although both flavors were calorie, sugar and sodium free, I was pleased to note that the Pom Blue Acai was a special antioxidant variety, enriched with Vitamins E and A, as well as Zinc.

Using a simple muffin recipe, I made a batch of blueberry muffins, substituting the Clear American Pom Blue Acai water for the milk that was called for.  Additionally, I reduced the sugar and salt quantities in half, but increased the blueberries from 3/4 cup to a full cup.  The Pom Blue Acai had a mild, yet pleasant taste, and I didn't anticipate any conflict with the flavor of the blueberries.

The resulting blueberries baked up wonderfully!  Although the overall muffin taste was a bit milder than using the traditional recipe, certainly less sugary, the muffins were moist and appetizing.  It didn't take long for the kids to discover these treats, and while a number of them quickly disappeared, I was glad to see there were a few left for the morning's hustle and bustle!  Next time, I believe we'll try apple muffins using the Raspberry Apple Clear American Sparkling Water!

Reduced Calorie Blueberry Muffins with Pom Blue Acai Clear American Sparkling Water ~
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2  1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Double Acting Baking Powder
1/2 1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 egg
1 cup Milk Clear American Antioxidant Pom Blue Acai Sparkling Water
1/4 cup salad oil
3/4  1 Cup unsweetened Blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees and, using a pastry brush, grease well 12 - 2 1/2 inch muffin cups.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder with fork.
In a small bowl, beat egg and stir in Clear American Sparkling Water and salad oil with fork.
Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture, stirring just enough to moisten the flour, but not over mixing.
Fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin cups.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until they have risen, are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Remove immediately from pan and rest on cooling rack.
Makes 12 muffins.

Do you substitute healthier ingredients in the recipes you bake or make for your family?  Share your tips and recipes in a comment below, I'd love to hear about it!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Biaswhich is a vendor for Cott Beverages Inc., the manufacturer of Clear American® brand beverages.  The opinions and experiences above are both honest and my own.  Pie Image.

Investigating The World Around Us ~ A Fun, Family Science Project #ElmersScienceReady #CBias

After spending some quality time with Dad out in nature and contemplating the ushering in of the frigid Michigan winter, my son had some questions about how animals cope.  I was quite impressed, because he came up with some questions that I did not have ready, complete answers for.  Never one to let an opportunity for learning pass us by, we decided to explore his questions and were inspired to transfer our learning to a format he could share with his class at school.

Among his inquires were:

  • Which animals hibernate?  Why do they hibernate instead of migrate?
  • Why IS it so cold and snowy in Michigan but still so warm in Alabama?  (He just returned from a visit with my little sister's family)
  • How does the Earth orbiting the Sun affect our weather?
Good questions!  While I could easily partially answer his questions, what a wonderful opportunity for learning this presented!  With a stop at Walmart for additional supplies we needed for our investigation and presentation, including Styrofoam balls and an Elmer's 18" x 24" Guideline Foam Tri-Fold Display Board turned into its own adventures as we explored the Memory Keeping section.  We found just what we needed for our project, including some products that would work out great for my son's Destination Imagination group, as well Elmer's 3D Washable Paint Pens for pizazz and Elmer's X-TREME glue sticks!

Join us as we discover Memory Keeping treasures at Walmart

Supplies We Used:
Elmer's 18" x 24" Guideline Foam Display Board
Elmer's 3D Washable Paint Pens, Classic Collection
Elmer's X-TREME Glue Stick
Wooden Dowels
Glitter Pipe Cleaners
Animal Pictures
Acrylic Paint
Styrofoam Balls

What we learned:

As we already knew, some animals adapt to the winter environment (rabbits, deer, fish), some migrate (birds) but others hibernate instead.  Bears, many amphibians including toads, frogs and salamanders, as well as chipmunks and skunks are hibernators.  Behavior of their food sources, as well as other factors, including size and length of necessary travel for migration, are among some of the reasons these animals hibernate.

With their food sources scarce or non existent in the winter, these creatures eat heavily prior to the onset of snow, when they bed down for the winter.  Although squirrels will squirrel away extra stores of food to help them survive, the metabolism of the other creatures slows down and  their bodies live off stored energy from their fall feasts.

In regard to the variance in temperatures and seasonal conditions across the United States, we explored how regions located in closer proximity to the equator where warmer year round due to the way the Earth orbits the sun.  What about the seasonal weather changes?  Although we already knew how the Earth's orbit creates our day and evenings, we discovered that the seasons, including long days and long nights are directly related to the "spin". 

 Although we discovered some good examples of the Earth spinning on its axis, the way this works was brought home through playing with the model we created.  The model also proved to be quite useful for investigating different time zones across the globe by simply inserting pins with different colored heads to represent various regions during our "spin" sessions.

Our conclusion:  My family had a great time learning more about the world around us and creating our presentation!  Our in depth exploration, both online and hands on, will help keep the information we gathered  ingrained  My son is terribly excited about sharing the finished project with his classmates at school!  I am looking forward to investigating the questions he'll have in the future.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersScienceReady #collectivebias #cbias. The opinions and experiences above are both honest and my own. Woods, Bear & Earth Images.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Taking Your Mobile Tech To The Next Level This Holiday Season ~ Motorola Bionic 4G Smartphone ~ #MotoCalyp #CBias

If you are a parent of a teenager, you likely receive regular updates on all manner of technological advances.  These updates are dispensed with nagging regularity, usually in the form of, "Hey, did you see the new Verizon phones?  They clean your room and do your homework!  Mine doesn't do that!"

Although we upgraded my teen daughter to an Optimus S Android smart phone last December, the onslaught on techy updates resumed fairly quickly, sometime in February!  While my husband and I have been able to withstand her persistence thus far, with so many fantastic deals on the latest technology this holiday season, we couldn't help but to take a peek at the newest cell phones while we shopped.  Also, although I was originally taken in by my cute, green,  little eco-friendly, decidedly not smart phone, I am personally tempted to make the move to a smart phone!

Shopping at the Verizon Store ~ 
We first stopped at our local Verizon store to see what they had to offer, especially as my daughter keeps insisting that Verizon has the best coverage.  As you might imagine, they were quite busy, with many holiday shoppers of the same mind!

Not only did we love the friendly, open layout of the Verizon store,  we were also quite enticed by a holiday display of Motorola Droid Bionic and Razor 4G phones!

Motorola Droid Razor 4G

Motorola Droid Bionic 4G

Fortunately, there were plenty of knowledgeable staff members on hand, to assist the throngs of shoppers.  Although I usually spend time online researching tech items before making my purchases, the Verizon rep that worked with my husband and I was wonderful.  Very patient and helpful with our multitude of questions, he was able to easy answer each one, helping us to compare features, prices and service.  My husband and I appreciated the layout of this Verizon store, with small, individual displays of various tech gadgets, usually grouped in threes.  With placards for each item, highlighting the features and costs, as well as promotions and savings, it was easy to browse on our own, as well as served to assist us in asking our rep questions.

With this Verizon store located literally a few hundred feet from a Best Buy, I inquired if there were any advantages for shoppers in shopping directly with Verizon, as opposed to at a big box retailer.   The answer I received was quite enlightening.  The Verizon rep shared that although big box stores carry various tech gadgets for a number of manufacturers and service providers, Verizon Stores will have the fullest selection of Verizon compatible products.  As well, their knowledge and training is more in depth, as they focus solely on Verizon products.  Additionally, an important point to note is the level of service.  While some big box stores offer services, such as set up and trouble shooting, shoppers often have to pay additional fees to access.  When you purchase directly through the Verizon store, the staff will walk you through all aspects of set up, helping you with any features you don't understand, as well as assist with any trouble shooting, all free of charge.  The ratio of shoppers to reps at the Verizon Store is very appealing as well, lending naturally to more personalized service and time available per shopper.

From a pricing standpoint, shoppers will find there are often some variances between special promotional  prices at the Verizon Store, big box stores and via shopping online.

What We Learned ~ 
Both the Motorola Droid Bionic and Droid Razor are very attractive choices for upgrading my family cells.  The Bionic and new Droid Razor have Android operating systems, but with 4G speed, both models leave our current models in the dust.

In considering memory, my daughter's current phone comes standard with 512RAM and 512 ROM and a 2 GB Memory Card but can be expanded to 32 GB.  Both the Motorola models have 16GB internal memory, as well as 16GB installed micro SD cards and 1G LP DDR2 RAM.

In some cases, bigger does mean better, with  the Bionic and Razor having Dual Core 1 GHz processors.  Sharing capacity is another strong point for the Motorola models, both boasting 8.0 MP cameras and front facing web cams for video chatting, a big improvement over the 3.2 MP camera in my daughter's cell.  The Motorola Bionic, Razor and iPhone 4S all offer1080 HD video capture.

As most teenagers, my daughter spends more time texting than talking, thus the keyboard functionality on any cell phone of significant interest.  While her cell does have a  touch screen and virtual QWERTY keyboard, both the Bionic and Droid Razors do as well, but offer the largest screens, both measuring at 4.3", the biggest of the various phones I looked at.

Even more big improvements are offered in the newer models by way of talk time and standby time.  Currently, my daughter is maxed out at 5 hours of talk time per charge of the Lithium-Polymer battery, the Lithium-ion batteries of the Bonic, Razor extend talk time significantly.    Both models have comparable standby times, ranging from 199 for the Bionic to 204 hours for the Razor.  A bigger spread is evident in looking at talk times,  the Bionic offering 10.8 hours and the Razor, 12.5 hours.

In cell phones, size matters, the smaller and lighter the unit, the higher is its cool quotient.  In this aspect, the varies models are again varied.   The Droid Bionic weighs in at 5.6oz,  with dimensions of 5.0"x 2.6" x 0.4"  The Droid Razor's weight is 4.48oz and dimensions of 5.15" x 2.71" x 0.28".

As with much of our holiday shopping, price is a big factor.  Via the Verizon online store, with a two year service agreement, the Motorola Droid Bionic is available for $199.99 or the Motorola Droid Razor for $299.99.  Although considering that the Motorola Razor is constructed with Gorilla Glass and Kevlar, making it essentially indestructible, I am appreciating the savings of the Bionic.

On the topic of savings, upon perusing the various service plans, I was very surprised to learn that Verizon now offers Pay As You Go, No Contract Plans as well as Family Share plans.  The options for saving are quite attractive.   The flexibility also extends to Data Plans, with ability to select packages with just the amount of data you need contract free, for Xoom and the new Galaxy tablets!

Our Take ~ 
While the speed and features of any of the 4G phones we looked at would be a vast improvement for both myself and my daughter, my husband was sold on the great price of the Motorola Droid Bionic and we both appreciated all the options for Family Plans from Verizon.  We were impressed with the knowledgeable and personal service we received from the Verizon reps, as well as the aesthetic appeal and layout of the store.  This Mom is hoping my husband caught on to my not so subtle hints at the tablet counter!

Motorola special:    Buy Now & Get Free 2-day Shipping

Are you shopping for a new, techy gadget this holiday season, a new phone perhaps?  What are you replacing, for whom it is for and what new techy delights have caught your eye?  Tell me in a comment below, I'd love to hear about it!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. The opinions and experiences above are both honest and my own. Images sourced from Verizon. #MotoCalyp

The Top Three Reasons Why You A Plumber Should Replace Your Water Heater

How ironic is it, major household systems always seem to fail at the most inconvenient times?

The air conditioning system will go down, not in the mild days of June, but in the midst of a torturous July heat wave.

The washing machine will spin it's last spin on a week when you've been so busy that you've let the family's laundry pile up for almost a week and the kids are giving you that look because they need clean clothes for school the next morning.

Or the hot water heater warms it's last drop when everyone in the house, including guests,  needs to bathe and you have a kitchen full of holiday dishes.

In the grand scheme of household system catastrophes, it is my firm opinion that plumbing emergencies require a professional.  While you can open windows, run fans and jump in the pool during a heat wave or ruefully run to the local laundromat in the event of washing machine failure, there is nothing more pressing than liquid flowing freely through your home in areas it was never meant to be.   Likewise, a home simply needs running water, at the properly prescribed temperatures!  Unless, of course, you happen to be a member of the Polar Bear Club.

As you may have guessed, we recently had to replace our unit, water heater repair was not an option due the age.  We knew it was coming.  Busy schedules and a stretched budget prevented us from being proactive and replacing the unit before it was absolutely necessary.  When the base rusted through to the point that water was pouring out of the heater, we knew we could wait no more.  My husband, always wanting to solve our household dilemmas himself, suggested that he could certainly follow the enclosed directions and replace the heater himself, saving us time and money.

It was a nice thought.  Our experience inspired me to create the following top three reasons why you should have a plumber install your new water heater:

  • If you fancy a warm shower or bath more than once per week, is best to leave the water heater installation to the professionals.  As simple as the process may sound, the fittings on water heaters are quite particular.  When you are at the end of day two of your husband's installation attempt, and tired of warming up dish washing water on the patio grill, you'll be wishing you had called a plumber from the get go.
  • Even if your handy-ish husband manages to get the unit installed and functioning, you'll be requiring the careful eye of the local inspector, to approve the work.  Sometimes its best not to have a professional evaluate your husband's "skills" in close detail.
  • If you have a preference for not flooding your house with noxious gas, again it's best to call the plumber and let your husband enjoy the football game (or talk the plumber's ear off).   Although I did find a "bubble gas leak" test online, its very disheartening to find the dish soap bubbling up around the water heater fittings.  The fire department prefers you leave this sensitive work to the professionals, as well.
Whether your plumbing issue is sump pump installation, need of a  new water heater, or even frozen pipes, grant yourself time and money savings, as well as piece of mind and call a professional plumber!

I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog  and was compensated. The opinions above are both honest and my own.  Polar Bear Image.

Thankful for Healthy Children ~ Top Six RSV Symptoms ~ Top Five Tips for Preventing RSV in Preemies ~ MedImmune

As is tradition, before all the hustle and bustle of ads and Black Friday shopping strategies, family talk lends to heart felt discussions of those most special to us and of all the things we are so thankful for in our lives.  At the top of my list, of course, are my beloved children, my devoted husband, as well as our furry, four legged kids!  I am certain mothers around the world feel the same.

Beyond being thankful for my family's existence and presence in my life, I am also grateful for their health.  While our family has certainly experienced its share of trials and tribulations, nearly every day, I learn of a family, a mother, a child who has, or is, experiencing a much harder path in life.

While my extended family gathers, with all the fun and excitement that only a gaggle of cousins, from ages two to sixteen can bring to a Thanksgiving celebration, I am reminded of how fortunate my husband and I were with my uncomplicated pregnancies, as well as the challenges my sister faced during her own pregnancies.

Although I was induced in my first pregnancy and my second child was delivered by Cesarean due to an uncooperative cervix, both of my children were a bit shy about the birthing process, electing to enjoy their special, inside seats well into week 41.

My sister was not so fortunate.  With uncooperative cervix an apparent  trend in our family, all three of my sister's pregnancy were classified as high risk; her children quite anxious to meet the outside world, well before their time.   Thankfully, through the quick action of her obstetrician, she was put on bed rest
at six months with her first, delivering just before week 37.  With the subsequent pregnancies, bed rest was ordered as a precaution at three months.

Although a long hibernation period sounds quite tempting, especially during my more hectic weeks, from my own experience with a four week bed rest order in my second pregnancy, as well as four months of immobility post a ruptured Achilles tendon, I am well aware that the appeal wears off quickly.  Especially so when one is concerned about the health and well being of their unborn child. 

Thankfully, only my eldest nephew was born prematurely, however, even in the thirty seventh week, there are special concerns.  Although my sister's obstetrician was quite thorough in educating my sister about the special health concerns for Preemies, it is disheartening to learn that so many mothers are unaware of threat of RSV, particularly to Preemies.

What Every Mother Needs To Know

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a danger to all children, however, of special concern to Preemies, is an air born, contagious disease that is typically spread by infected persons when they cough or sneeze.  RSV can  live on inanimate surfaces and can also be passed on to new hosts when one touches an infected item.

  • Over half a million premature babies a year, or 1400 per day, are infected with RSV.  This dangerous disease affects over 13 million children annually, worldwide.
  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization .  Over 125,000 hospitalized in the US each year.
  • RSV is responsible for over 500 infants deaths in the US, annually.
  • Over one third of all mothers are unaware of RSV and it danger it presents.

Why are Preemies at special risk from RSV?
Any child born before week 37 of gestation period is considered a "Preemie".  Even at that late time in a pregnancy, the early birth interrupts development and can stunt vital organ growth.  Preemies are especially susceptible to infections and viruses as they lack the full force of full term baby antibodies.

Symptoms of RSV
Contact your doctor immediately if your Preemie is presenting with one or more of these symptoms
  • Persistant coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult or wheezing breathing
  • Blue color to lips, mouth or under fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty feeding
Note:  As so many of the above symptoms are also typical of common cold, the warning signs of RSV are often overlooked!

Protect Your Preemie from RSV
 While these steps cannot guarantee your child will not contract RSV, as so many Preemie do before the age of two, following these guidelines will significantly reduce the risk!

  • Wash hands, toys, bedding and play areas often.
  • Insist that family members and visitors use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid large crowds and those that are ill.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • Talk to your doctor if you think your child is at high risk for RSV; there is special preventative therapy available for Preemies!

Educate Yourself ~ Spread The Word
Protect your Preemie and Help Prevent RSV deaths in Preemies by spreading the word and learning more!

Has anyone in your family or in a family you know been infected by RSV?   Is there a Preemie baby in your family?  Tell me your experiences and insights in a comment below!  

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  The opinions are experiences above are both honest and my own.  Information, images and statistics provided by MedImmune & Mom Central.  Turkey Image.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All I Want From Santa Is A Sensual Massage ~ @ScandleCandle ~ Review & #Giveaway

I have a dream.  It's not profound or anything that will save the Earth or impact human kind.  It's a parents' Christmas Eve dream, really.

My dream is that,
one day,
my husband and I will be organized enough
to have all the children's presents wrapped and stashed away
before 3am on Christmas Eve.

Really, a gal can only take just so many viewings of A Christmas Story.

Last year was especially horrific, as my husband and I actually fell asleep while wrapping presents.  Saved by my teenage daughter, who awakes every morning around 3am for a snack; I'm certain she gave us a traditional teen look while she finished the wrapping.  Thus, a mortifying family Christmas tale was born, certain to be retold for years to come.

Rather than to shirk on one's parental holiday wrapping duties, or, nearly as terrible, finish wrapping the last gift in the wee hours of the morning, wouldn't it be wonderful to have everything complete and spend an easy evening with your other half, just enjoying each other's company?

Therein lies my dream, my Christmas Eve dream, filled with a distinct lack of wrapping paper and ribbon, but plenty of snuggling and a lovely sensual massage.

Cue the scentful Scandle Massage Candle!  Scandle Massage Candles are a combination of body massage oil and fragrant spa candles, taking your massage to another, heavenly level.

Look As Young As You Feel ~ NeoStrata Age Reverse ~ BioActiv Wash #Giveaway

Don't you love those days...

when you've miraculously gotten enough sleep the night before,

when you hair turns out as expected,

when your look isn't overcome by less than ideal weather, the moment you walk out the door?

Those glorious days when you mood and appearance are happy and light
and you catch a glimpse of yourself in a random reflection as you make your way through your ordinary day and think...

looking good!

Of course, especially as the years pass, it seems as though those carefree days are getting fewer.  Sometimes a girl just needs a little help to achieve that "younger than springtime" frame of mind.  Oh, believe me, I do; especially after yet another night of not enough beauty sleep!

In fact, despite watching my diet and trying to keep myself hydrated, my skin just isn't as resilient as it used to be.

Thank goodness for NeoStrata because they know just what a girl needs!  Within their Exuviance Age Reverse line, you can find just what your skin ordered! 

State of the art technologies that target all the signs of skin aging. The result is visibly younger looking skin with a firmer, more lifted appearance, smoother texture, elasticity and diminished lines, wrinkles and age spots. Talk about multi-tasking!

With our predominate focus on all things pampering, it is only fitting that the latest addition to the Holiday Gift Guide collection is the Exuviance BioActiv Wash from NeoStrata!

BioActiv is not your run of the mill cleanser, rather, formulated specifically to address women's skin needs.  BioActiv works to gentlly cleanse your facial skin, without the drying affect of soap, rather a gentle foam created from a  Polyhydroxy and Bionic blend of ingredients.  BioActiv rejunvenates your skin by by exfoliating dead skin cells and stimulating the cells beneath,  leaving you with a fresh glow.  Carefully selected botanical ingredients, such as aloe, cucumber, rose,  chamomile and rosemary serve to sooth your skin naturally.

Rockin' His Stride, rather Slide, with Classic #Heelys ~ Must Have Gift Guide & Review

When I was the age my son is now, skateboards were the hottest new thing on wheels.  While skateboards are still "in", fueling an entire sub culture, including trendy pre-teen to young adult fashion, there's a new skate in town and it isn't your Mama's!

Heelys has taken personal skates to an entire new level, combining the need for personal fashion express with the need for speed.  With several lines of wheeled shoes, Heelys are hot, fast and oh, so cool.

From classic "old school" styling, with the traditional single wheel design, to the sleek, double wheeled design of the H2 models and beyond to the new age Nano, an inline footboard for serious skaters, Heelys has a style and a look for every kid on your list this holiday season.

My "all things boy" testing crew was all over the opportunity to try out a pair of Heelys.  When I had asked about his interest, I received the look that puts every mother to shame.  The kind that says, "Poor Mom, you are soooo out of touch!" combined with a heavy sigh and eye roll combination.  It's all good, Moms!  Now you know, too:  Heelys are happening!

Heelys Classic Edge in Black
After significant consideration, he selected a Classic style of Heelys, the Edge model in black.  He was quite drawn to the revved up stylings of the H2 models and found the Nano footboard to be very desirable, however, in the end, he felt it best to start off with a pair that were better suited to his less than expert skating abilities.

Upon receiving the Heelys, I was pleased to find that the construction of the Edge style is nothing less than sturdy; the insole is thick, cushy and comfortable.  Most importantly, installing the wheels, one per shoe, was a snap.

Of course, while my son was ready and raring to go, Mom insisted we take a moment to explore the Heelys site, viewing both the Heelys Playbook for important safety tips, as well as watching the How To Skate (Heeling) with Heelys video.

Armed with all the vital knowledge, my son was ready to put his new Heelys to the test!
Easy to wear, just like regular athletic shoes!
Getting the feel of the wheels.
And away he goes!
Becoming masterful with the Heelys will take some getting used to and fortunately we've had the mild weather in Michigan lately for him to do so.  Despite our exploration of the safety tips on the Heelys site, I strongly recommend that you keep an eye on your new Heelys skater, at least for a time.  That's how I was able to put the brakes to his initial plan to take our exuberant Lab along on his test run!

Heelys Black Friday Special ~ 
From November 25 to November 28, 2011, when you purchase any pair of Heelys, you can get a second pair for only $25!  With most Heelys starting at $55 and up, this is a fantastic bargain to help your holiday budget stay in the black!

Have an advanced skater?  There's a deal just for you!  Purchase the Nano footboard and get a pair of Heelys shoes for only $25!  With the addition of free ground shipping thrown in, this is a Black Friday deal you won't want to miss!

I received a pair of Heelys to explore for the purposed of creating this feature.  Images and information sourced from various Heelys site and personal experience.  The opinions above are both honest and my own. Skateboard Image.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easy Fall Favorite Recipe ~ Peach Crisp with #DelMonte Diced Peaches with Cinnamon & Brown Sugar ~ #CBias

Looking for a quick, seasonal treat for your busy family?  Give Peach Crisp a try!

Ingredients ~
4 cups of Del Monte Diced Peaches with Cinnamon & Brown Sugar
1-2 fresh diced peaches
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
4 Tablespoons cold butter
add nuts if desired

Directions ~ 
peel and core fresh peach(es) and dice
place fresh peaches and four cups of lightly drained Del Monte diced peaches in 9" buttered  baking dish
in separate bowl, mix all remaining ingredients, sans butter
using fork, work butter into dry mixture and then top peaches
top peaches with dry mixture, mixing in slightly
bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until crumble is golden and peach mixture bubbly

Fueling My On The Go Family with #DelMonte fruit Cups ~ New Fall Flavor ~ #CBias

Whether one is flying across the Lacrosse field, or the other standing tall on the football field, my children are always on the go.

From grueling practice schedules, special school events, driver's ed and special adventures, like Destination Imagination, and Honor Society projects, their weekdays are full from dawn to well past dusk.  Keeping them fueled up, with enough energy to keep up with the demands of their favorite activities can be a challenge.

A hearty breakfast and a solid lunch start them off, however, from after school to bed time, their meals are often light, portable fare.  Too heavy and digestion slows them down; too involved and our carefully orchestrated schedule becomes out of sync.  Rather than a large, sit down meal, they usually have a series of light snacks from afternoon and through the evening.

To this end, my kitchen is stocked with nutritious, on the go snacks, like fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt, granola bars and oh, so portable fruit cups.  If it's tasty and can be eaten on the way or tossed in a backpack or duffle bag, it's game for my team.

Although these nutritious snacks are eaten on the fly, the kids still insist on products with great taste and plenty of variety; Mom insists on quality ingredients and budget-friendly prices.  Between chauffeuring them about to their various activities, stopping by Walmart to stock of my pantry is a common occurrence.

After noticing that my pantry supplies had dwindled precariously, tonight I made sure to stop off to replenish.  As the leader of my son's Destination Imagination team and meetings both Tuesday and Thursday, a Monday night stop was in order.

Cruising the fruit aisle, I found, not only family favorite, but something new, as well!  Perfect for the season, Del Monte has introduced something new in their fruit cup line - Diced Peaches with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar!  Perfect!

I couldn't pass on the Del Monte Cherry Punch Fruit Chillers, either!

With a bit of atypical free time on my hands before I was back on duty, I decided to save myself some valuable holiday time by grabbing some of the supplies I'll need for Thanksgiving.  All the traditional fixings were easily accessible in mass displays, making my task simple and quick.

With the festive decorations about the store and thoughts trending to the holidays, I had to take a stroll through the holiday aisle in the grocery department.  Over Halloween, I was so impressed with the seasonal selection, my interest was piqued.

So glad I did, not only did I find some fantastic easy gift ideas, again with the budget friendly prices, 

I also found the highly sought after Peeps!  Thank goodness!  At some point in the recently past, at no time near the Easter holiday,  I had promised my young nephew I would find him some Peeps, a fact that, according to my sister, he was reminding her of regularly.  Faced with the frightening prospect of trying to create homemade Peeps, I was beyond thrilled by my discovery.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to grab several packages of the new Del Monte Diced Peaches with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar.  Upon arriving home,. my team in tow, my daughter was so inspired by the flavor of this new discovery, she insisted upon making peach crisp this very evening.  As Monday is least busy evening of the week, we quickly prepared crumble with flour, oatmeal, granulated and brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger, with a couple of pats of butter to mix in with four cups of the Del Monte peaches, as well as a couple of fresh peaches.   A quick seasonal treat, baking at 375 degrees for a half hour or so, until the crumble was golden and the peaches bubbly,  

A quick, yet delicious seasonal treat for the whole family, and plenty of Del Monte Diced Peaches with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar cups in the pantry to quick fuel for the days ahead.

 Although we "wing" making fruit crisp, please view easy Peach Crisp recipe

Please feel welcome to view my full pictoral shopping trip.

What are your family's weekdays like?

What kind of activities do you and your family members participate in?

What are your family's favorite #DelMonte products?

I'd love for you to share your great tips for keeping your busy family fueled up in a comment below!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias.  The opinions and experiences above are both honest and my own.  
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