Sleep Tight…Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite #LearnwithOrkin

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mom It Forward & Orkin. All opinions expressed here are my own. 

As a child right before bed I can remember my father saying “Nightie Night…Sleep Tight…Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite”.  Now that I am grown and I think about it what an unsettling thing to say to a child right before the lay down for a good night’s rest.  I wonder where the saying originates and why it has carried on for so long.

Just the thought of nasty little bugs crawling on me, it gives me the heebie jeebies.  I am getting itchy as I think about all the facts I learn at a recent event I attended that was facilitated by Orkin’s very own Dr. Ron Harrison (Entomologist and Orkin technical services director). He educated us on the characteristics of spring pests, how to inspect for them and how to help prevent them.  Although we discussed several different types of insects such as ants, beetles, ticks, and termites, the one that really had a lot of us on the edge of our seats were bed bugs.  This event’s audience was made up of mostly moms, so you know we were concerned, not only for ourselves but for our children.

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Although as you can see in picture below my child is barely phased by bugs crawling on him ( Okay…they weren’t real bugs) but as a mom if they were you know I wouldn’t be having none that.

Devin with bugs Crawling on him

So I am here today to share what I learned about bed bugs and ways you can prevent an infestation.

Contrary to my belief bed bugs don’t just exists in the homes of nasty people in fact,  bed bugs can infest offices, stores, hotels, airplanes, movie theaters, gyms…anywhere! They can hide in your luggage and personal belongings to hitch a ride back to your home.  Once indoors, they can be extremely difficult to control.  The are very sneaky, hard to detect and in the right temperature and with an adequate food supply, they can live for more than 300 days. Bed bugs love warm human bodies and feed on human blood, so in your house hold while you sleep they have ample food supply.

Not sure what a bed bug looks like….Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, oval insects up to 4 to 5 mm long or the size of an apple seed. Swollen and reddish after a blood meal.

Signs of Bed bugs

-Seeing actual bugs
-Case skins from juvenile bed bugs
-Ink stain looking marks (fecal stains) seen on porous surfaces

Since bed bugs can be easily transported while you are traveling.  See below tips to help prevent this from happening.

Here are 5 Steps you can take in order to ensure you sleep soundly while traveling and when you return home

-Survey cracks and crevices for signs of an infestation
-Lift and look for bedbugs in all hiding places
-Elevate your luggage on a rack away from bed and away from the wall
-Examine your luggage carefully when repacking and returning home
-Place all dryer-safe clothes in dryer at hottest setting at least 122 degrees for at least 15 minutes when you return home from a trip

Although very disturbed by what I learned, I am glad I was at this event. Now I am armed with more knowledge on bed bugs then I ever cared to know and will now have a new travel routine.

You can go even one step further to protect yourself by using an Orkin pillow encasement. The Orkin pillow encasement creates a unique, lightweight barrier that blocks bed bugs and all micro-toxins larger than one micron (one-millionth of a meter) like dust mites, mold spores, pet dander and pollen.

And guess what….today is your lucky day cause I’m giving one away thanks to the good folk’s at Orkin.

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Devin with Orkin's Dr. Ron Harrison

Do you have a question for the Orkin Man? My son sure did. If you have questions as well @AsktheOrkinMan on twitter.

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Reading with Devin

Devin is reading! Reading with Devin is Fun!

It’s amazing to watch him sound out letters, and string words together. His confidence in his reading is growing every day.

Devin has loved books ever since he was an infant, or should I say we started reading to him when he was an infant, and we believe its the main reason why he has such a big vocabulary now.

When he was a baby, our favorites were “Pokey Little Puppy,” “The Sailor Dog,” and, “Hand, Hands, Fingers Thumb.”

These are the activities that contributed to the reading success that he’s having now.

The habit of reading 2-3 books daily.
Learning  to sound out his ABCs at home and at daycare.
Learning and mastering is sight words.
Learning and understanding his blends like “th” and “sh”
Rewarding him with special trips to book stores

At first, Devin did a great job of reading sight words, but he would guess at unfamiliar words.  Patience was needed because instead of working at it, he would try to quickly give up.

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It all started clicking recently, and he is now confidently reading books like, “Bears on Wheels” and others. It makes me proud to see him read with more fluency and makes my heart warm to see how proud he is of himself.

After each book I will ask him questions to really get him to think about the story, such as what he liked about the book?, why do you think the character did this or that?, what do you think will happen next?

What impresses me so much is his comprehension. He is not only reading on his own, but he does a great job following and recalling the story. He even catches small details that I wouldn’t think that he’d even notice.

As I was writing this post, I searched for some resources that may be helpful for you as you help your child develop a habit and a love of reading.

Check out the following sites:

Reading Is Fundamental

National Institute for Literacy

Reading Rockets

Devin is always looking to add to his library collection, what are some of your children’s favorite books?

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Get Loud and Dirty: Supercross Action Coming to Georgia Dome

I don’t know much about Supercross racing, but I’m certain that Devin will love the high flying, fast riding action.

On February 21st and 28th the Georgia Dome will play host to Monster Energy AMA Supercross, and it looks like a great show.

Each week the best riders from across the world race each other on challenging courses that feature fast straightaways, tight corners, and crazy jumps.

When I showed Devin the video of the racing action his face lit up with excitement.

I want to say that it looks like clean family fun, but it looks pretty dirty, but in a good way.

Anyhow, if you’re interested in joining us, you can receive 50% off of 200 and 300 level seats for either of the Supercross shows.

Just use the EPICATL discount code online or at the box office.

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Want to learn more and follow along follow Monster Energy AMA Supercross on their social pages.

Supercross Twitter
Supercross Facebook

Disclosure: I will receive complimentary tickets to the show in exchange for me sharing this event and facilitating a post show review thanks to Feld Entertainment and Monster Energy AMA Supercross.  All words and opinions expressed are my own.

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Celebrate the Holidays at Six Flags Over Georgia #HolidayinthePark

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For the first time ever you can celebrate the Holidays at Six Flags Over Georgia at their new annual event “Holiday in the Park”.

If it wasn’t for the crisp weather, I wouldn’t believe that the holiday season is almost here. Each year, I try to find fun family events that both my husband and son will enjoy.

When you step inside through the front gates you will witness the magnificent beauty that is “Holiday in the Park”!

“Holiday in the Park” will consist of more than one million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees that will create the perfect magical atmosphere this holiday season.

Take a walk through the Peppermint Plaza by the “Georgia Scorcher” ride, and soak in the aroma of minty delight.

I think this event will make everyone happy (I don’t ride rides but my family does, and I always enjoy spending time with my family and watching them have fun during the holidays).

Thrill seekers especially will have a reason for extra holiday cheer at Six Flags Over Georgia, ”Georgia Scorcher” is not the only ride that will be open.

The park’s most popular rides like Goliath and other family rides are going to be open, and for “Holiday in the Park”, the the historic 1910 Riverview Carousel and the surrounding area will be covered in nearly 94,000 lights, 1,350 feet of garland, 1,200 ornaments and more than 200 luminary candles.  This is one carousel you and your loved ones will not want to miss as it brings true Christmas cheer to all.

So come out this season and experience the joy of the sparkling lights, festive shows, tasty culinary treats and of course, the Big Man of the North Pole,  Santa Claus!

“Holiday in the Park” runs from November 22 through January 4, 2014.

Disclosure: My family and I, are attending a complimentary media preview of this event this holiday season

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[Giveaway] Cirque du Soleil “Amaluna” Atlanta

Amaluna_Island imageIt’s a whimsical colorful show that celebrates womanhood, and dazzled the crowd with a storyline that celebrates the coming of age, love, and rebirth, of familial relationships.

Amaluna which is the fusion of two words, “ama” mother, and “luna” which means moon and is a symbol of femininity, and this performance is unlike any Circue du Soleil show because it is all women. Well, not all women, but we made up 70% of the cast and it was empowering to witness the acts.

20141002_amaluna-0690This is a show that speaks not in words but in the actions of the performers who graced the stage, and one performer in particular had me in a trance. She is the “Balance Goddess” (Lara Jacobs Rigolo) who brings balance to world of Amaluna.

She is the “Balance Goddess” for good reason. During her main act she starts with by holding a feather, then balances 13 palm leafs on it. You have to see it to get a full appreciation for her skills.

Rigolo is an amazing performer who was trained at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. Rigolo’s father is the originator of the balancing act, and has trained others including his daughter in this art.

This is certainly a show for families and especially women who will appreciate the feminine side of Cirque du Soleil. I hope you can attend, and I have a family 4 pack of tickets to giveaway (tickets are for Tuesday, October 28th’s performance) if you want to experience this breathtaking show for yourself…
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Even if you don’t win tickets you still can experience Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil, under the iconic blue and yellow big top at Atlantic Station.  The show is playing now until November 30, 2014. Save 20% on a Family 4 Pack and take an adventure to an island governed by goddesses.  CLICK HERE and buy your tickets today.

Disclosure:  I received complimentary tickets in order to facilitate this show review.  All words and opinions expressed are my own

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Enter to win $100 Ikea Gift Card – Help Devereux GA Help Youth Who Need it Most

 

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When it comes to serving youth who suffer from emotional and behavioral issues, Devereux Georgia is leading the way to help troubled young people get their lives on track.

Some of these young people suffer from mental illness, sexual exploitation, neglect, abuse and have developmental disabilities.  Devereux Georgia helps these youth overcome their challenges be giving them hope, dreams, and new choices.

Devereux Georgia was founded in 1912 and is the nation’s leading nonprofit behavioral health organizations with 13 centers in 11 states.

How can you support the cause? On Thursday Oct. 2, 2014 Devereux Georgia is hosting its Annual Hope Event.

Guests will enjoy dinner, cocktails, and music along with a silent auction showcasing works of art created by Devereux youth. The featured guest speaker is Lynn Garson, Esq., mental health advocate and author of the novel “Southern Vapors.”   Ms. Garson will also be joining nationally renowned child psychiatrist, Dr. Yolanda Graham, in a panel discussion on mental health issues and treatment.

YOU ALSO HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN A $100 IKEA GIFT CARD, ENTER BELOW
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For more information please visit www.devereux.org/hopeevent or call 770-427-0147.

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Oshkosh #BgoshJeanius Back to School Campaign

Growing up back to school was always a special time for me.  My mother would take my sisters and I shopping for school supplies, book bags and let’s not forget a new lunch boxes.  Then, we would visit my granny in the city and go on a shopping spree for new school clothes.  Those were really special times for me. That’s why when I hear of kids that don’t have what they need for the new school year, I feel compelled to help.

I usually donate by filling a couple book bags with all the supplies the children need for the school year however this year I want to do more.

I attended an event at a local Oshkosh store and found out about a campaign that Oshkosh recently launched that will give me another way to help kids in need this upcoming school year.

Oshkosh believes that all kids should have everything they need for back to school from blue jeans to books.  That’s why they decided to celebrate back to school with the launch of their national “B’gosh Jeanius Campaign”.

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#Bgoshjeanius

OshKosh B’gosh, in partnership with K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., and DonorsChoose.org will give customers the opportunity to donate a new pair of jeans or make a cash donation to a student in need this school year. All denim donated from July 29 through September 17, 2014, will be delivered to local children in need through K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., while cash donations will be dispersed to local schools through DonorsChoose.org

Oshkosh is making it so easy for everyone to give back with incredible door buster deals on jeans with most jeans costing only $10 or $12.  B’gosh Jeanius denim donation bins are conveniently  located in all stores throughout the United States. Monetary donations can also be made either in-store or online.

If you live in Atlanta, visit the one and only Oshkosh B’gosh location, that’s inside the perimeter. Located in Buckhead’s Peachtree Battle Shopping Center at 2345-B Peachtree Road NW Atlanta, GA 30305.

Everyone else you can find your local store here

For more information about the B’gosh Jeanius Campaign, visit: www.oshkosh.com/bgoshjeanius

 

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Simple Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa

Although I am no longer a kid who’s out of school for the Summer, it is still my favorite season.  This is the time of the year that I entertain friends at my home the most. I usually prepare everything and my husband fires up the grill for a tasty meal.

I typically like my friends to arrive just as we are beginning to put the meat on the grill, so while the guys are outside enjoying a beer and watching the grill, we ladies can catch up on everything from the kids to pop culture.

The other day I decided to have a couple of friends over for dinner, and since I knew my hubby wouldn’t fire up the grill until people arrived, I decided to whip up a quick little appetizer.  I thought to myself that a dip would be great, who doesn’t love to dip. So, I created something new using Johnsonville Smoked Brats that I call my “Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa”.

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I like trying different things and thought that Johnsonville Sausage would give it that extra something I was looking for.  When I picked up the package of Johnsonville Smoked Brats I was happy to read that there were no added fillers and that they only use premium cuts of pork to pack in the flavor.

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 RECIPE

Ingredients:

2 Johnsonville Smoked Brats links, 1 medium mango, 10 strawberries, Cilantro                    2 tablespoons each of Peach Preserves, Orange juice, Lemon juice, and Sweet Chili Sauce

Directions:

  1. Finely chop cilantro, then dice mango, strawberries, and Johnsonville Smoked Brats.
  2. Stir together the peach preserves, orange juice, lemon juice, and sweet chili sauce in a large bowl. Gently fold in the cilantro, mango, strawberries, Johnsonville Smoked Brats until blended. Allow the mixture to rest at least 20 minutes before serving.

This was such a simple recipe, I served it  chilled as a dip(like Salsa) with Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips.  It also makes a great topping for grilled meats such as Pork Chop or Seafood. We tried it as a topping for our Grilled Salmon and it was amazing.  Everyone loved it.

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I recommend this recipe to anyone looking to make a quick tasty appetizer. This Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa is extremely easy to make and full of flavor.

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post I was compensated by Johnsonville in exchange for me creating and sharing my recipe. All content and opinions are my own.

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I am Thankful for… #thankfulthursdays

So often people don’t slow down to appreciate their blessings, so I decided to start a weekly post where all my readers can share what they are thankful for.  Take a minute to sit down and reflect and appreciate your life.  Then share one thing you are thankful for.

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This week I want to share with everyone that I am thankful for my loving and supportive husband.

I hear so many stories from friends or freinds of friends about how they are looking for love or seeking more support from their significant other and it makes me realize that sometimes I may take things for granted.  From today on, I plan to make it a point that on a daily basis I communicate to my spouse something that I love and appreciate about him.   

What are you thankful for?

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Interview with Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living, NRA #KidsLiveWell

The National Restaurant Association recently held their annual convention  in Chicago where they got to highlight their Kids LiveWell program and #KidsLiveWell recipe challenge. This challenge let several food vendors and restaurants create healthy and delicious kids recipes to see who would be able to come up with the most popular delicious and nutritious recipe.  The purpose of this event was to promote the Kids LiveWell program and to recognize the people in the food industry that are already doing it right and making difference.There are already nearly 42,000 participating restaurant locations nationwide and the National Restaurant Association is looking for more.

Since the convention I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Joy Dubost, who discussed with me more about this program and why it is important. She also gave me tips how we can   help our children eat healthier.

Interview with Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living, National Restaurant Association

 Joy Dubost

 

Why should the restaurant industry take a hard look at providing healthier options for children and families?

Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in what is on their plates, where it comes from and how it’s prepared. In particular, health and nutrition continue to be top of mind. According to National Restaurant Association research, more than seven out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers healthful options. The restaurant industry is committed to providing these options to their patrons. In fact, more than eight of 10 adults agree that restaurants offer more healthful choices now compared to two years ago.

One way restaurants are showing their passion and commitment to children’s nutrition is through the Kids LiveWell program. The National Restaurant Association launched this initiative in 2011 to help make the healthful choice the easy choice when dining out with children. The voluntary program has grown from 19 restaurant brands representing 15,000 locations to over 145 restaurant brands, representing 42,000 locations nationwide. The program has also expanded beyond restaurants to museums, theme parks and resorts.

Can you share some examples of restaurants that are doing it right?

Restaurants across the country are taking the steps to provide healthful menu options. To see specific examples, HealthyDiningFinder.com lists the restaurants that are part of the Kids LiveWell program. Restaurants in the Kids LiveWell program have committed to providing meals that meet specific nutritional criteria based off the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The meals focus on increasing the consumption of low-fat dairy, fruit and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, while limiting unhealthful fats, sugars and sodium.

The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with McCormick for Chefs, created the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge to shine a spotlight on the positive efforts of the restaurant and foodservice industry in kids’ nutrition. The Challenge takes an “industry tested, kid approved” approach with a panel of food and nutrition professionals selecting finalists and elementary school students choosing the winners.

Restaurants and foodservice companies that applied are examples of those using their culinary ingenuity in not only creating a healthful meal, but a meal that is creative and memorable for kids. This year’s winners are a prime example of this: Sysco Hampton Roads, O’Charley’s, UW Health and Bean Sprouts Café.

If you were going to grade the food industry in general for healthy options, what grade would it receive.

The industry is taking all the right steps in creating healthful options for consumers; however, it’s important to keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. It’s encouraging to see that children’s nutrition is a top priority for chefs and that they continue to put their creativity in healthful kids meals to work on restaurant menus. In fact, healthful kids’ meals have ranked as a top 10 menu trend on the Association’s What’s Hot Chef Survey – a survey of nearly 1,300 professional chefs – for the past five years, indicating that children’s nutrition is a true trend for the restaurant and foodservice industry, not a passing fad.

The restaurant industry is committed to health and nutrition in a myriad of ways – from looking for ways to reduce sodium in meals to providing options for consumers with celiac disease and food allergies to working to make nutrition information available on websites and menus.

Please share some examples how families and moms can provide healthier meals to our children.

We know that when parents dine out, they are increasingly looking for healthful options for their children. Many restaurants already have them and with the Kids LiveWell program, our goal is to make the healthful choice, the easy choice. We want to make locating a Kids LiveWell restaurant and identifying their qualifying meals as simple as possible.

I encourage parents and caretakers to look at HealthyDiningFinder.com. The site has a dedicated Kids LiveWell section that not only lists every participating restaurant, but also each member’s qualifying Kids LiveWell meals (which must include an entrée, side and beverage), as well as each meals’ nutritional information.

We also have a free Kids LiveWell app for both iPhone and Android that helps to find participating restaurants while on-the-go, and when dining out, keep your eyes out for the Kids LiveWell logo and apple on restaurant menus.

Making healthy meals is one thing, but getting our kids to eat them is another, how can we balance the two?

Keep in mind that kids typically outgrow many picky eating habits after the age of 6, as growth spurts are often accompanied by changes in appetite and food consumption. But while they are going through this stage, I have several tips that could help:

  • Make sure fruits are ripe, sweet and juicy to tempt kids’ taste buds.
  • For picky kids – introduce foods over and over – kids’ taste buds change over time.
  • Offer picky eaters sweeter veggies like carrots, acorn squash and sweet potatoes.
  • Give fruits and vegetables fun names to make them more appealing.

We even put together a video for my Ask the Nutritionist series featuring myself and Bill Wurtzel, the creator of Funny Food. The video has fun tips on making meals that are nutritious and fun for children to eat: http://youtu.be/r7aLj9Xuxxo.
How serious is the child obesity problem, and what are ways we can fight it?

In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. However Philadelphia, New York City, Mississippi and California are among the locations reporting declining childhood obesity rates as a result of taking comprehensive action to address the epidemic. A recent survey found that the obesity rate for children 2-5 years old has dropped 43 percent in a decade.

Through efforts and initiatives such as the Kids LiveWell program, the restaurant industry has been taking a proactive role in addressing childhood obesity. The Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge was also created to not only shine a spotlight on the current positive efforts of the industry, but also to encourage more restaurants to diversify their children’s items by offering healthful, innovative meals.

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