Category Archives: family

Women, Beauty and Advertising.

I recently watched this video from Peter Shankman (to his wife and female friends) that my friend shared on Facebook. He explains that he saw an advertisement at a local Wal-Mart while on a business trip. An ad for women in the clothing section that shows a woman putting on makeup and saying that she can be beautiful. His message is refreshing – that women are beautiful. No matter what time of day, what they are wearing or what makeup they may or may not have on.

So much of advertising to females – women, teens and girls – sets a high standard of beauty. Body image and definitions of beauty for girls usually start with Barbie, princesses and Bratz and it only gets worse from there.

“Girls’ perceptions of their femininity and appropriate behavior are largely formed before they even hit first grade—good reason to consider these dolls a lot more than child’s play. “Until children are about five, they can’t distinguish fantasy from reality,” says Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., coauthor of Packaging Girlhood. “So what they see is how they think the world operates and what it means to be a girl.” – Glamour

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The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was one of the first to expose the unfair standards of beauty set by the media and to show real women, confident, independent, beautiful.

“Based on the findings of a major global study,The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, Dove® launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. Among the study’s findings was the statistic that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.” – Dove

Females grow up comparing themselves to unrealistic images of beauty in magazines, advertisements, on television and in movies.

As a mother of two young girls, it is my hope that they will be more self-confident than I was growing up. I want them to realize that they are beautiful, intelligent, capable women and that they are a gift to this world.

Common Sense Media – Girls and Body Image Tips

Image via

Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13 – 19, 2012.

Food Allergy Kids of AtlantaFood Allergy Awareness Week is the week of May 13 – 19, 2012. My daughter was diagnosed at age two with a peanut and egg allergy. She is now five and will be starting kindergarten in the fall.

I am preparing now for keeping her safe at school and that will require meetings with teachers, lunchroom staff, bus drivers and creating a health care plan. I have concerns such as peanuts brought in to the school for Georgia day where they were eaten outside by the playground (the dust is dangerous and can cause anaphylaxis) as well as other concerns such as candygrams given to children and peanut butter used in projects. This is why it is very important to establish a team based approach with your school and to communicate clearly what it is that you want for your child at school and writing it in a plan.

Food Allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person and can even be triggered by just a trace amount of an allergy-causing food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Stomach pain
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis (a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction)

Food Allergies are a potentially life-threatening medical condition that afflict as many as 15 million Americans including almost 6 million children.

Children with food allergies: 1 in 13. That’s two per classroom.

Emergency room visits caused by food-allergic reactions each year: 203,000. That’s one every three minutes.

Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved — not just the kids (I know this from experience!)

Only eight foods account for 90% of the food-allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. And for those who may be unaware, even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction; there are no cures for food allergies.

It is the second anniversary for Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta was created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals. I am thankful for this wonderful group of people and their dedication to educating schools and restaurants to help keep our children safe.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a food allergy, or you think they have symptoms of one, go to an allergist and then find a local community support group. My daughter and I have learned so much from the wonderful families and doctors and you really feel like you are not alone as your learn to navigate in this food-centric world.


Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – local nonprofit in Atlanta

Food Allergy Statistics from FAAN, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Food Allergies By The Numbers – FAI

Safe@School flyer – FAAN – Presentation for schools about food allergy management and the seriousness in food allergy reactions (up to 25% of first time reactions in children happen in school.) 

Food Allergy Awareness Week – FAAN

Helpful Information and Documents – FAAN

The Balancing Act (video) – Food Allergy Awareness for Parents


Tips for Visiting Disney World on a Budget.

Disney World on a BudgetI married into a Disney family. My father in law is a member of the Disney Vacation Club and we have been fortunate to be able to stay at the Old Key West resort for many years.

We visit Disney a few times a year if we are lucky. We have found ways to see some sights on a budget. I just sent this to a friend whose family member is going for the first time.

Disney World on a Budget tips:
1) Pick up Disney toys/stuffed animals/clothes at Wal-Mart/Disney Store before the trip and hide them/bring them out during the trip.

2) Bring snacks and water into the parks – we brought cereal bars, raisins, etc. They check your bag, but it’s allowed. Also, pick up some rain ponchos at a dollar store and bring them in case of rain.

3) Take the monorail around to the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary resorts and walk around each resort to see each theme, eat at the restaurants.

4) If you stay at a Disney world resort and plan on going to the parks, each day one park is usually open an hour early and closes late for Disney resort guests only. These hours are called extra magic hours and are available to resort guests only, not the general public. Each guest will have to have a resort pass and their park ticket. Visit, click parks, then park hours for more information and specific days for which park remains open late.

5) Eat at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney – great sandwich, low cost – they even have breakfast. While you are at Downtown Disney, visit the Lego store and let the kids play with hundreds of legos for free. You can also take a boat ride and see some of the resorts.

6) Walk on Disney’s Boardwalk – it’s just like New Jersey and there are carnival games up and down the boardwalk. There are restaurants, a bakery, ESPN zone with arcade, boat rides, a large family bike rental, you name it! You can see the fireworks at Epcot here too on the bridge.

7) Make a reservation for character dining and make it the end of the brunch time around 11 – 11:30 before it ends. You have more time for characters and less people by then. (our favorite place is at the Contemporary – Chef Mickey’s)

8) You can get a mini-fridge and stay at the Pop Century or All-Star resort and take the bus to the parks. Also buy the refillable mugs and get free drink refills at your resort during your stay. Check out your resort’s activity calendar for outdoor movies, crafts and more at the pool.

9) See the characters at the Epcot Character Spot – they are all lined up inside the building and if you go early, there is little wait time.

10) Go “Around the world” at Epcot:
– We like to eat at the Rose & Crown in England – make advance reservations – good kids menu, great food.
– Get a cheese plate in the bakery in France and have wine.
– Pick out an oyster in Japan and get a pearl – under $20 – our girls LOVE this.
– Sample foods from different countries, watch shows.
– Log flume ride in Norway (a little dark/scary for younger kids – Vikings)
– Take a boat ride from the world showcase back to the other side of Epcot.

For more tips, Sue Rodman from Field Trips with Sue recently wrote Free Things to Do at Disney World – I especially like the free hula lessons at the Polynesian resort.

The key is to get creative and mix the higher cost events with lower cost activities to stay within budget.

What else can you share that helps your family on a Disney trip? Happy trails!

Is Your School Allergy Ready?

Food allergy symptomsIs your school allergy ready? States are in the process of passing epipen bills to stock schools with epipens in case of food allergy or allergy attack. In fact, 25% of allergic reactions happen at school for the first time.

In Georgia, you can schedule a Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta Safe@School presentation, or share the following online resources to help your school prepare for 2012 – Allergy Ready & Allergy Home both offer online courses for school staff.

Allergy Ready – Free, Interactive Online Course on Managing Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis in Schools

Allergy Home – Managing Food Allergies in Schools: What School Staff Needs to Know

Image from Canada Safety Council.

Stay at Home Mom, Working Mother

A friend of mine recently started a blog “The Accidental Stay at Home Mom” detailing her adventures going from a working mother to a stay at home mom. I went through this transition in Summer 2009 and still feel a bit out of sorts with where I fit or how I define myself.

Her recent post “So what do YOU do?” really resonated with me. I have been in this type of conversation socially more than once and still describe myself as a former working parent who is now home, as if I need to apologize for it. That I’m not measuring up since I haven’t gone back to work full-time.

I like to think that I’m a hybrid – a new crossover incorporating being home with my kids and freelancing when I can. Where does this fit on a resume? Or in society for that matter?

I am acquiring leadership roles like room mom and girl scout brownie leader. I volunteer at nonprofits donating my time through marketing, public relations and fundraising. I utilize negotiation skills with my kids daily. I multitask on the fly and stay organized with my old school Retro Mama calendar in the kitchen.

And best of all, I am spending more quality time with my children. They come home after school and can relax. They have not been sick as often. Dinner time is more pleasant since we are all not arriving home at the same time and tired after a long 9-10 hour day elsewhere. The list goes on.

All moms work and there is guilt on either side – I have been on both. Unfortunately, there are perceptions on each side about the other.

I hope that this divide, this wall will crumble and that we realize that it’s not a title or occupation that defines us.

End of First Grade Reflection

Today was my daughter’s end of year celebration. They put on a show with poetry recitations, silly songs and puns. It was so sweet and the kids worked so hard and it showed. They were presented with their end of year first grade certificate and made writing books that is a priceless collection of her writing from the start of the year to the finish.

My daughter has grown so much this year. I can’t believe she turns 7 in July and will be going into 2nd grade. I am so proud of her and am amazed at how much she has grown this year.

Her teacher put a letter in the end of the book and it made me cry. It is a wonderful poem and I wanted to share. I am very glad she will have the same teacher next year at Chattahoochee Elementary! Mrs. Mitchell is a wonderful teacher and we look forward to another fun year. I was searching online for the poem and found a touching blog post that eloquently captures my feelings as a parent watching my child grow up.

Dear Parents,

I give you back your child, the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give her back heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature than she was then.

Although she would have attained her growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch her personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

I give her back reluctantly, for having spent nine months together in the narrow confines of a crowded classroom, we have grown close, have become a part of each other, and we shall always retain a little of each other.

Ten years from now if we meet on the street, your child and I, a light will shine to our eyes, a smile to our lips, and we shall feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.

We have lived, loved, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give her back I must. Take care of her, for she is precious.

Remember that I shall always be interested in your child and her destiny, wherever she goes, whatever she does, whoever she becomes. Her joys and sorrows I’ll be happy to share.

I shall always be her friend.

–Author Unknown


Food Allergy Awareness Week – Respect Every Bite

As a mom of a peanut and egg-allergic three year old daughter, I have learned so much about food allergies and the challenges it creates. Through my daughter’s grace, I have learned to accept the things I cannot control and to deal with things one day at a time. She is my sweet little girl and I worry about keeping her protected every day. We are learning together to read the labels, ask questions and be vigilant with food. We carry around an epi-pen and benedryl and it is an accepted accessory now, just like my purse. We talk to her teachers, friends’ parents, caregivers, and anyone else that we cross paths with and make sure they know about her allergies. We ask questions and research restaurants and places before we travel. Every meal is a concern, which is why we must respect every bite..

The most surprising thing I learned was how little the general public was aware of the implications of cross-contamination. A food product might not have peanuts in it but may have been processed in a plant that handles peanuts. That is a big deal for those of us with food allergies. The scary thing is that food manufacturers do not have to have the “may contain” statement so if it is not on the package, you have to call and find out.

My sweet daughter before she was diagnosed with food allergies.

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I am including some links to local Atlanta groups, the Atlanta Food Allergy Walk this Fall as well as peanut free snack ideas for the classroom and food allergy associations. Kids with Food Allergies has also announced a Faces of Food Allergies campaign that encourages kids to get involved. Add your picture to the photo gallery and spread the word to educate our schools and the entire community to respect every bite.

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network – sign up for email allergy alerts

Atlanta FAAN Food Allergy Walk 10/2/10

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – new nonprofit! Yeah!

Yahoo Group Atlanta Families with Food Allergies

Ask About My Peanut Allergy – Bo’s Food List (always read the labels as it may change) Safe snack ideas

Respect Every Bite, Because Every Bite Matters – great post by Smiling Green Mom about Food Allergy Awareness Week, resources


10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me 10 Years Ago ·

A friend posted this on his Facebook status. This is a great read and sound advice for all. It puts everything in perspective in life and would be great for all graduates to read as graduation approaches! I am going to start a list of my own.
Another great read and gift idea for graduates? Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. and the Success poem attributed to R. W. Emerson:
“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”

Stop and Smell the Flowers.

For years I would drive by a sunflower field on my way to work. Every year when they were in bloom I would make a mental note that I would stop and pick some sunflowers. After the fifth year, my family finally went and picked the sunflowers. We had a ball and the flowers brightened the house for weeks. We are going to visit again this year and are creating a tradition.

Why do we put off things that will make us happy? Are we too busy to stop and smell the flowers? What are you putting off that would bring a smile to your face today?


Creative and Educational Web Sites for Kids

I haven’t blogged in awhile and have been looking for inspiration. This is one post that I will be adding to as I find creative web sites for kids. My girls are 6 and 3 and they love playing on the computer. I am also following lots of interested technology teachers on Twitter (#edtech hashtag) and will share what they publish. Feel free to comment and add your favorites.

Creative Sites ages 5 – 12  –  draw animals : ages 8 – 13 –  design and build games and challenge friends – all ages – create comic strips – ages 8 and up –  create music,movies,video games – all ages – compose music and record rhythms with pots & pans etc

Learning Sites

Enchanted Learning – K-5 – produces children’s educational web sites which are designed to capture the imagination while maximizing creativity, learning, and enjoyment.

ABC Teach – K-5 – 5,000+ free printables and worksheets

Starfall – K – 5 – learn to read with phonics

ABCya! – K – 5 – kids educational computer games and activities

100 free web tools for elementary teachers – K – 5 – a listing of some of the best sites for elementary teachers and students online, plus a few tools to help you keep everything together.

Kevin Honeycutt – Incredible treasure of web 2.0 resources on @kevinhoneycutt ‘s website – click on Cool Tools