Health

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via Mode Media. The following story is entirely my own and reflective of my actual experience.

As a parent, there is little that feels worse than being completely helpless when your child is hurting. And yet that is precisely the place my husband and I found ourselves in back in 2010 when our daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.

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The process began innocently enough. She had a cold that took a little too long to clear, and swollen lymph nodes that just wouldn’t go away. Her pediatrician told us to keep an eye on her, and bring her back if things didn’t look better in a week. In that week, she tripped over a baby gate, sprained her ankle and developed a swollen lymph node on — of all places — her head. A lymph node that an ER doctor told us was just a cosmetic problem we shouldn’t worry about.

But I knew my daughter, and I knew she didn’t seem like herself. She’d been sick for weeks, and I wanted to know what was wrong. So I took her back to her pediatrician, who asked to do some blood tests. Within minutes, she came back with words that scared me probably more than anything else ever has in my life — she thought my daughter might have leukemia. She didn’t even let us go home. She immediately called our nearest Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and had them send an ambulance to come get us.

When we arrived at the hospital— as ridiculous as this might sound — I immediately knew we were in the right place. The staff welcomed us and did their best to explain everything in terms we could understand with a care that made it clear they had done the same before with the families of countless other children. They had a team whose job was specifically to focus on the kids. Not their physical health, but their mental well-being. They came in to distract our daughter with games and movies and funny stories and puppets and toys. She was four, so she didn’t really understand what was going on, but the combination of the doctors and nurses hovering around her and what had to be frightened looks on her parents’ faces couldn’t have been easy to handle.

Once the doctors confirmed her diagnosis and admitted her, we were left to figure out life now that cancer had come calling. I can honestly say that if it were not for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, we would’ve had a much, much harder time with that.

Their entire mission is working with children and their families who are going through the worst times of their lives, and they are absolutely amazing at it.

My daughter was admitted to the oncology unit. The doctors took the time to explain everything to my husband and I in detail, but in words we could understand, and they answered every question we could come up with, no matter how many times we had to ask. They allowed us to control what information we exposed to our daughter so that she never heard or knew more than we wanted her to know.

They kept her mind occupied with movies, video games, toys and a playroom next door. They indulged when she wanted to ask her own questions and wanted to watch intently whenever they had to take her blood pressure or more blood or any of a variety of tests. They brought in retired greyhounds just to put a smile on the kids’ faces. Never mind the fact that my daughter isn’t smiling in the photo above. She was ecstatic!

More important than all those details, though, is the fact that they just made us feel like we could — like we WOULD — get through it and find our “new normal.”

And we did. Within a week of starting treatment, she went into remission, and six years later, she still has not relapsed. My family owes a debt of gratitude to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals that we will never be able to pay. My daughter is now a 10-year-old healthy competitive gymnast who spends every day making me thankful that I get the chance to be her mother.

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The very least I can do is to use my platform to tell the world how amazing they were for us and spread the word about what they need.

CMNHospitalslogo_color (1)Quite simply, what they need is us and our charity. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals works to raise funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. All told, they provide more than $3.5 billion in charitable care each year, including the purchase of life-saving equipment, research and all the intangibles that make children’s hospitals the type of places that offer magical care.

All of this means their need for donations is great. So please, put your money where the miracles are. Support your Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

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As I write this post, right this second, my nose is running. I’d been relatively lucky so far this winter. No major illnesses in the household. There was one bout of cold for all of us early on, but nothing a few days and rest couldn’t fix. This though? This feels like it may get ugly. Scratchy throat, headache, fatigue, and just a general, overwhelming feeling of blah. When Walmart asked me to write about how we prepare and combat cold and flu season, I had no idea I’d be writing from real-time experience.

The CDC did predict that the flu season would spike in February this year, later than usual, but apparently right on time for me. And right now, it really has me wishing I’d opted to get a flu shot this year. Actually, I say that every year, but I’m going to confess something: I’ve never had one. I always suffer through a bad cold or the flu, wishing I’d gotten it, then develop amnesia the next year when the time comes to get a shot.

Don’t be like me. Most insurance plans will allow you to get a flu vaccine with no out-of-pocket expense, so you won’t have to worry about cost if you’re insured. Even without insurance, the vaccine is $25, so it’s not terribly expensive to protect yourself. Walmart pharmacists are also available to offer any help you need with figuring out the best options for your needs, whether that’s a flu shot or another type of immunization for yourself or your family.

If you’re already sick like me, though, here are my favorite tips for fighting back against the cold or flu.

Take vitamin C. You should probably be doing this anyway, but it will definitely help give you a boost to get rid of the cold. I prefer vitamin pills, but you could also use something like Emergen-C.

Consider other herbal supplements. My favorite is Echinacea. I almost always take it when I have a cold, and it seems to speed up the course of my illness. When I don’t take it, I miss it. Something else may work better for you, of course, but that has been my personal experience.

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Rest. I know. I know. This can often be easier said than done, particularly when you have a family. For me, resting means not pushing myself to get everything done today. I wish it meant long, daytime naps, but baby Juliza puts an end to that fantasy. Tonight, it means a shot of lemon juice and a hot cup of mint tea while snuggling under my new favorite plush blanket on the sofa.

Eat soup. I fully admit there’s nothing inherently healing about a hot bowl of soup, but honestly, it just feels good to have a hot bowl of something when you’re feeling icky. I’m not above eating store-bought soup, but I’m extra lucky because my husband makes a mean homemade chicken soup. I know what I’ll be requesting this weekend. I sense a trip to Walmart in his future. And remind me to share his recipe sometime.

So what do you to protect yourself during cold and flu season, or to feel better once you’re sick? Share your tips in the comments below. I could use them today.

The past two years have been — how can I put this nicely? — lazy. No. Lazy isn’t really the best word. They’ve been a flurry of activity as I watch Juliza grow up before my eyes while I attempt to juggle work. But the one thing I honestly have not made much time for in the juggling act is exercise. I know I should. Really I do. But I haven’t made it nearly the priority I should. So when Walmart asked me to try some of their newest fitness wear, I admit I was hoping that wearing it would imbue some motivation.

Walmart really has a lot of great, affordable fitness options, from yoga pants and moisture-wicking tops to sweatpants and sports bras. My favorite fitness activity is dance, so I really just wanted to find some items that would allow me to be comfortable while I get my groove on. I found these great Danskin patterned leggings and baseball-style tee.

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Let’s talk about these leggings for a second. They. Are. Awesome. First, there’s the pattern, because that’s what immediately drew my eye. I love patterned workout clothes. They somehow feel more happy and motivating than — say — gray or black. But more than that, they are genuinely comfortable. Comfortable enough for me to do this:

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Look at me, pretending I do yoga! Lmao! Anyway, the fabric is soft and perfectly stretchy, and I could sleep in them. From me, this is high praise. I HATE sleeping in any kind of long pants.

The top was designed to be oversized, so I bought an XL. Turns out I still should’ve bought a 2X. Still, it was comfortable, if not roomy, and I love the brightly colored sleeved. Plus? $6.96. I’ll probably grab a couple more of these in different colors (and a bigger size).

I also bought a Danskin sports bra in an XXL, but let’s just say that some XXL chests are apparently bigger than others. Though it was sturdy and well constructed, it didn’t fit comfortably. I should be used to this by now. Lmao!

I really need to hit up Walmart’s fitness wear section more often, because the prices are great, and you really can’t be the comfort. Even if the only exercise I wind up doing looks less like Zumba or Crossfit, and more like this:

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Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Can I admit something? Lately, I haven’t been doing the best job of taking care of myself. Chasing a little one who still doesn’t sleep through the night most nights while trying to work and care for the rest of my family leaves me exhausted, and I let that exhaustion turn into apathy. I haven’t been sleeping well or eating as well as I’d like, and for a long time, my only real exercise was playing with Juliza all day long. But — and thank goodness I can still have a but — I’m trying to do better. I’m squeezing in actual exercise, and trying to choose healthier snacks when my breastfeeding hunger kicks in.

I’ve been trying to come up with easy ways to change my health for the better in just 10 minutes:

  1. Walk to the end of the block and back
  2. Drink a big glass of water
  3. Do a few minutes of exercise every day to help lower my risk of heart disease
  4. Chase my kids around the living room or back yard for fun
  5. Stretch while I’m waiting for the stove or oven to heat up
  6. Keep healthy snacks like fruit visible so I can easily grab them throughout the day
  7. Take a multivitamin
  8. Step away from the smartphone, TV or computer, and just breathe and meditate
  9. Dance when music is playing

But there can be more to good health than developing good habits. Sometimes, we actually need to go to the doctor to get screened and make sure everything is working as it should. But let’s be honest — not everyone can afford to go to the doctor or to carry health insurance. I know what that feels like. Thankfully, Walmart wants to help.

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On Saturday, October 10, you can head to Walmart for America’s Biggest Health Fair, from noon to 4pm. The event will be held at more than 4,400 stores nationwide, so there’s a great chance there’s a store near you. And if you’re willing to invest just 10 minutes of your time, you can learn more about your health with free:

  • Blood glucose and blood pressure tests
  • Vision screenings
  • Product samples
  • Health insurance information
  • Immunizations administered by Walmart’s more than 17,000 licensed pharmacists

I know that I personally need to get my blood pressure and blood glucose checked, and I’m more than willing to take a few minutes out of my day to get that done. What about you?

TAKE THE #JUST10 CHALLENGE

Realistically, most of us are busy and many don’t spend much time on our health. But realistically, just 10 minutes can start making your life healthier. Tweet with me on 10/10 using the #JUST10 hashtag to share how you use of 10 minutes to achieve a a healthier life!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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When the New Year rolls around, so many of us start looking for ways to take better care of ourselves. We vow to eat healthier foods, lose weight, stop worrying so much…and the list goes on. My personal struggle at the moment is getting better sleep, which is challenging because of baby Juliza, who’s never been a good sleeper. Most of our New Year’s resolutions have be achieved using focus and willpower, but there are a few that could get a little boost elsewhere. So when Walmart asked me to try a new line of herbal supplements from BioTerra Herbs, I thought they’d be a great jump start.

BioTerra Herbs offers drug-free herbal supplements that are non-GMO Project Verified, made in the USA, dairy free, gluten free and vegan-friendly. They’re designed to treat specific symptoms you might find yourself dealing with, and the line includes:

We received the first four to try. I was genuinely excited to try the energy supplement, but like many, they’re not recommended for anyone who is pregnant or nursing. Alas, another product test foiled by breastfeeding. Thankfully, my husband was more than willing to get in on the fun and try a few of the supplements. Check out our video review:

In case you’d prefer to read the review or you’d like more details, my hubby tried Boing and Ahhh, the energy and detox supplements.

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He has recently started working out again, first thing in the morning. Given our very relaxed morning routine, he often needs a little boost to get going. He usually would drink a cup (or two) of black coffee, no sugar, no cream, or opt for Red Bull or some other energy drink. These did the job, momentarily, but the problem with caffeine or other stimulant-based supplements is that your body eventually comes down from the temporary high and crashes. He says that BioTerra Herbs’ Boing provided a similar energy boost, but without the crash a little while later. It was a more gentle energy source that offered a slightly more gradual increase of energy than what he was used to, but it was sustained through his workout.

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As for the Ahhh detox supplement, it requires a two-day schedule.  This is one of those products for which the effects are tough to describe. Detox does its work internally, so the effects are less tangible than some of the other options, but my husband insists he can feel the difference. It is designed to offer improved liver function, help remove toxins from the body and provide a gentle, internal cleanse. And…ummm…make you go to the bathroom more effectively. In other words, it’s supposed to help with overall wellness and feelings of energy and health. My husband really seems to like it, and he plans to continue using both supplements until he feels they’re no longer needed.

If you’d like to try some natural, herbal options for those nagging symptoms, you can get a 60-count supply of each supplement for only just $14.99 at Walmart.com or at your local store.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’ve had sensitive teeth for most of my adult life, and I genuinely do not enjoy it. This sensitivity can turn a simple ice cream or accidentally grinding my teeth together into torture. Not cool. So when Walmart offered me the opportunity to try a new product designed to reduce tooth sensitivity for up to a month at a time, I couldn’t wait to try it.

Except…I can’t use it while breastfeeding, per the recommendations on the box. Bummer.

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My husband, however, also has tooth sensitivity, though his doesn’t seem to be as acute as mine. So he offered to try the product, Crest Sensi-Stop, and share his thoughts. (aff)

More about the product: Sensi-Stop strips offer relief from tooth sensitivity with a simple application to the gums in the area of sensitivity, with immediate results that can last up to a month.

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According to my husband, the strip was really easy to apply. Bonus? It’s also pretty invisible. The strip is small and sticky. Despite the fact that he showed me three times where he’d placed it, I couldn’t see it along his gums. At all. Granted he used it toward the back of his mouth, but it was still pretty impressive that I couldn’t see it even though I was actually looking for it. Anyway, invisibility isn’t really necessary, because you only have to wear the strip for 10 minutes.

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According to the directions, you should begin to feel the effects immediately. My husband said he started to feel numbness in that area right away, and it lasted even after he’d removed the strip. He did say that he could taste the medication, but it wasn’t a bad taste. Just an unusual one, similar to Orajel.

Per the directions, he couldn’t rinse, eat or drink for 30 minutes after application. Not a problem at all. As long as you don’t apply just before eating, you should be fine.

In the days since, he has noticed a distinct difference in the area where he applied the strip. Cold drinks and ice cream have not bothered him at all, and he hasn’t felt any pain whatsoever. I call that a win!

Overall, he said he thought of it like a treatment he might get at the dentist’s office, and it was awesome that he could do it at home. I’m pretty impressed, and a little jealous that I haven’t been able to try it yet, because I have areas of sensitivity that really do bug me. The idea that a 10-minute, self-applied treatment really works and could offer a full month of protection blows my mind.

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A set of six strips will run you $17.96, 10 strips cost $24.96, and 12 strips cost just $27.96. That means if you have only one area of sensitivity, you could get a full year of protection for under $30. And best of all, no trip to the dentist’s office! You really can’t beat that, and I’m adding this to the list of products I can’t wait to use when I’m no longer nursing. (aff)

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m Wearing: Avia performance tank from Walmart  |  Avia performance capris from Walmart  |  Puma sneakers (similar) (aff)

I’ll start this off with a bit of honesty: I’ve become lazy. In fairness, I’ve had a good reason to slow down. Having a baby will do that to you. But baby Juliza was born six months ago, and it’s about time for me to find ways to become active again.

We moved this past weekend, which was one heck of a workout in itself — especially given that we moved from a third floor apartment into a house with all the bedrooms upstairs. That was fun. Still, it’s long past time for me to develop an earnest workout regimen, less for vanity and more for my health and fitness. I’ve lost a lot of flexibility over the last few years, and I need to work on my arm strength and endurance.

All this to say that when Walmart offered me an opportunity to try out some great activewear from Avia (yes! You can find Avia clothes and shoes at Walmart), I knew it could be the kick in the pants I needed.

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Typically, I work out in leggings and t-shirts. Though I’ve bought some workout shorts in the past, I learned after a couple of uses that they weren’t my favorites because they’d ride up during my favorite form of exercise: dancing.

These workout capris from Avia are amazing. They are soft and smooth with great stretch, which makes them awesome for everything from yoga and pilates to dancing and bike riding. And did I mention they’re great for lounging around the house? I’m wearing them right now, and they are so much cooler than yoga pants when it’s hot outside. Plus, there’s a hidden pocket big enough for a key. I wish it was a little bigger, but I’ll take it! They’re available in a bunch of colors, and at just $14.86 for performance pants, I’m definitely going to invest in a few more.

On top, I’m wearing a great moisture-wicking performance tank. I can’t lie. I chose this mostly because of the color and style. The performance is just a nice bonus. I usually like workout shirts with sleeves, but I thought this would keep me cooler, especially on bike rides. I got through an exhausting (and sweaty) Zumba routine without having the fabric stick to my skin, so I’d say that’s a win.

And the best part? All the Avia items go up to a 2X, and the stretch is pretty awesome.

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As it is, I’m probably going to live in this outfit for the rest of the summer, because the loose fit of the top also makes breastfeeding a breeze, both from the bottom and through the arm hole.

There are a ton of styles of Avia tops and bottoms, and some great sports bras that looked to be really supportive (though I can’t know for sure without a test). For the price, I really like the style and quality, and I’ll keep my eye out for more Avia items when I need some workout clothes that can do double duty for lounging.

What about you? Do you like to invest in workout clothes? Do you trust the Avia brand enough to try these?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I admit it: I still use traditional toothpaste. I switched to a natural brand a few years back, but I was not a fan of the taste at all. So we switched back, and Colgate is still our go-to brand. Their teeth whitening products are among those things I’d always wanted to try, but never had a chance. So when Walmart asked me to try Colgate’s new whitening product, I figured now was the time to give it a shot.

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I’ve never liked the idea of having a whitening product on my teeth for hours at a time, and that was my perception of how the process worked. Colgate’s new Optic White Toothbrush + Built-in Whitening Pen turns that idea on its head. It is the first toothbrush to come with a built-in whitening pen to make application really easy.

I love the fact that I could use this when brushing my teeth, so I was able to just add the whitening step to my normal routine rather than having it be a completely separate action. After brushing, you simply twist the whitening pen to squeeze out the whitening gel and swipe it onto each tooth.That’s it. Maybe a minute or two added to my daily brushing routine.

It promised to deliver whiter teeth in just two days, and maybe I’m just excited, but I feel like I can already see the difference in my teeth. I do wish there was some sort of color comparison chart included so I could easily see where I started out and where I wound up. Still, I really like this product, and I plan to keep using it because it’s really that easy.

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You can find thhe Brushing and Whitening Pen for just $12.96 at Walmart.com or at your local Walmart store with all the other Colgate Optic White products.

Colgate is also giving one lucky person the chance to win a three-day, two night trip to Los Angeles for a makeover with Jeannie Mai, or one of hundreds of first and second prizes, including Walmart gift cards and Colgate products. Every person who enters will also receive $3 product coupon. Enter now through April 19 at www.OpticWhiteStyle.com.

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.