Summer is quickly approaching, and although many take the warm weather and emerging sunshine as good news, severe allergy sufferers can probably feel their eyes watering up and itching already, especially since experts are warning that the allergy season could start earlier and last longer this year, according to DNA Info.

“What’s happening is we have a warming climate, which means the allergy season is starting two to three weeks earlier this year,” said allergist Dr. Clifford Bassett, founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. “And it’s going longer into the fall, into October, so we have a longer period of time for people to be exposed to pollen.”

The average child catches between six and 10 colds a year, and both colds and allergies are infamous for emerging with the start of the warmer months. Luckily, there are many small steps you can take around your home to limit the effects of those irritating and debilitating allergies and illnesses.

First, to make spring cleaning a more manageable endeavor, mark each task with an estimated time — 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. Each day do only one thing. Within 30 days, your whole home will be uncluttered and clean. Basset recommends starting spring and summer cleaning with the kitchen.

“Whenever you smell mildew, you’ve got a mold problem,” he said, recommending homeowners check refrigerators for possible leaks. He also suggests keeping an eye out for cockroaches, and the best way to do that is to keep the kitchen as clean as possible in general. But when it comes to cleaning and organizing, try to recycle all that you can. On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash and $50 per ton to send it to a landfill.

The living room can also harbor dust and other allergens. For a permanent reduction, Basset suggests investing in furniture with easy-to-clean materials such as leather, metal, plastic, and wood.

“Things that can be more easily cleaned are less of a source for indoor allergens,” he said, mentioning that this rule applies to carpets and flooring as well. Get more professional tips via

Finally, the bedroom is “the most important room to keep allergen-free, because all of us spend the most time at once in the bedroom while we’re sleeping eight to ten hours a night,” according to Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill and a spokesperson for the nonprofit Allergy and Asthma Network. There are important eye test reasons that suggest, that an unkept bedroom can cause many problems for the human eye. Do not underestimate the power of neglected dust, dirt and germs.

Parikh suggests three main ways to keep the bedroom clean. Clean the room often, keep pets out, and shower before bed. For those with severe or unusual allergies, such as to dust mite feces, experts recommend investing in a mattress cover in addition to other protective bedding.

“Dust-mite covers that zip around your mattress and box spring, as well as your pillow, have been the only thing in research data that has shown to reduce exposure to dust mites for people who suffer from dust-mite induced allergies and asthma,” Parikh said.

If these allergy-fighting cleaning methods aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other natural remedies to try. Vitamin C, isotonic saline nasal rinse, and aromatherapy are just a few methods suggested by experts. Still, keeping a clean home is the best way to keep spring and summer allergens at bay (click site for more tips).

A healthy, beautiful smile is important to most adults. In fact, 32% of people say they’re concerned about the look of their teeth. Many folks aren’t so fond of the dentist though either, but there are things parents can do to encourage good dental habits in their children. When these practices are developed at an early age, it’s much easier to reduce the risk of cavities, gingivitis, and other tooth problems.

Research also shows that around 60% of children will have some type of tooth decay by the time they turn five. In fact, tooth decay is one of the most prevalent childhood diseases in America. Parents can help combat tooth decay by helping their children floss daily and brush twice per day. Brushing should last for two minutes every time. Some electric toothbrushes come equipped with built-in timers, but parents can also use a small hourglass or the timer on their iPhone to help them keep track. They can help the time go by faster by turning on some music and wiggling along — as long as the kids do a thorough job. When they’re young, parents should make sure to check their work and make sure they’re really getting their teeth clean.

It’s important to focus on diet, too. While it’s a bit of a myth that sugar consumption directly causes cavities, a balanced diet is important for healthy teeth and gums. Parents should also limit how much natural and added sugar they eat and drink. This certainly applies to energy and sports drink consumption. Actually, popular energy drinks resulted in twice as much enamel loss in adults as compared to sugary sports drinks. In general, parents need to limit their children’s consumption of sports drinks, and energy drinks should rarely — if ever — be consumed.

If you check out Delaney Park Dental website statistics, organized sports can pose other hazards to kids’ teeth, too. Children who participate in contact sports or other types of recreation, including football, hockey, baseball, basketball, wrestling, soccer, martial arts, and more, should always wear a mouthguard during practice and games. This can prevent significant dental damage. Parents should make sure that mouth guards are always included in their child’s protective gear.

Ultimately, the best way to protect a child’s smile is to schedule regular dental appointments. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.5% of kids aged five to 19 have untreated dental issues, in need of Invisalign treatment. Kids should receive a dental checkup and professional cleaning every six months, just like adults. These regular visits can catch those small issues before they turn into big, expensive problems.

Dental work is notoriously expensive, so enforcing these positive habits can help reduce your spending. That being said, you still may have to drop a bit more cash when your child loses their baby teeth. Research has found that the Tooth Fairy is having to pay much more than in the past. The current going rate for a baby tooth actually mirrors inflation and growing incomes. In the 1990s, a baby tooth was worth $1 or so. Now, kids may find $5 under their pillows. Still, that might be a small price to pay for a child’s healthy teeth and gums.

In the end, it’s up to the parents to inspire their children to keep up with good dental care so that healthy, lifelong habits can form. Consider your child’s bright, beautiful smile as a “thank you” for your efforts.

January 8, 2010 was easily one of the worst days of my life. It was the day my family found out that my then 4-year-old daughter had leukemia. The day started with a trip to the pediatrician to check out some swollen lymph nodes that just would not go away, and ended with an ambulance ride to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with a warning that my daughter probably had cancer.

Unfortunately, her pediatrician was right. My daughter spent the next several years in treatment, first to push the leukemia into remission, then to keep it there.

All things considered, we were lucky. That may sound strange in a story about cancer, but we really were. My daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, which is one of the most common forms of childhood cancer, and which had a 85-90% cure rate at the time. That meant there was a well-established treatment protocol, plus lots of research for new treatments. That, coupled with the fact that my daughter responded well to chemotherapy and went into remission early on, meant her chances for surviving — and thriving — were great.

More than seven years later, I am happy to say that she has done just that — survived and thrived. And I am reminded of how easily her story could’ve unfolded in a much more tragic way.

When we first learned she had leukemia, what little I knew about the disease led me to believe that she would need a bone marrow transplant. So before we got to speak to her team of doctors, I started researching the procedure. What I learned scared me.

Bone marrow transplants quite literally can save the lives of people with more than 70 diseases including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell. The scary part? A whopping 70 percent of patients don’t have a fully matched donor in their family. In other words, the odds are pretty slim that there is a familial match. So how does a person find a match when that happens?

They depend on the Be The Match Registry®.

Be The Match is the world’s largest and most diverse donor registry. But even with those numbers, there still thousands of patients who don’t have a match currently available. That means more of us — yes, that means you and me — need to register to ensure that many more patients have access to life-saving treatment.

The younger a person is, the healthier their bone marrow is – which means that more young adults are especially needed to join. And because ethnic background does factor into matching as well, more people of color are needed to join the registry. Joining the marrow registry is pretty simple — all it takes is a cheek swab. You can visit for more information.

But what happens when you’re actually a match with someone?

Well, donating bone marrow is a lot less painful than you (and I) are probably imagining it is. Most people donate through a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation, during which a machine draws blood from one arm, extracts the necessary cells, and returns the remaining blood to your body through your other arm. Donors are fully awake during the procedure and can chat with family and friends or binge on Netflix.

For some donors, a doctor will need to extract marrow directly from the back of your pelvic bone with a needle. If this is necessary, you’ll receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the procedure. Most donors recover completely within a few weeks.

Kamryn, 11, is an example of a patient who currently has no donors available on the marrow registry. She has sickle cell anemia and needs a match. Learn more about Kamryn’s story and sign up to join the registry at

The saddest part? Kamryn actually had five matches on the registry. They all turned out to be either unwilling or medically unable to donate. What patients really need is donor registry members who are truly committed to donating if the need arises. But too often, registry members who are called upon as a match then say they are “not interested,” which as you can imagine is heartbreaking for patients and their families.

Like I said, my family was lucky. My daughter did not end up needing a bone marrow transplant and chemo alone was enough to save her life. But there are so many families out there who can’t say the same, and who really need the kindness of strangers to keep themselves or their loved ones alive.

Will you sign up to Be The Match?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Access to green spaces may have significant neurological benefits for aging populations. This is according to researchers at the Universities of York and Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who investigated the effect that walking between urban and green environment has on the brain.

The study involved eight volunteers from a larger sample of 95 people aged 65 and older. The subjects wore a headset while walking between busy areas of the city and more tranquil green spaces. The headset recorded brain activity and recorded video of the participants describing their state of mind.

Researchers eventually concluded that switching between these two spaces changes the brain’s excitement, engagement, and frustration levels. They also found that the subjects generally preferred the natural atmosphere.

“There are concerns about mental well-being as the global population becomes older and more urbanized,” Research fellow Dr. Chris Neale, of the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, said in a press release. “Urban green space has a role to play in contributing to a supportive city environment for older people through mediating the stress induced by built-up settings.”

These are the latest findings on the psychological benefits of nature, adding to a multitude of other studies looking into how natural environments impact human health. For instance, a 2016 report found that women living closer to major highways are more likely to experience fertility problems. As one in eight couples, or 12% of married women, have difficulty getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy in the United States, women who live within a tenth of a mile of a highway are 11% more likely to struggle with their fertility.

The World Health Organization also warns of other, more common ailments caused by air pollution, including heart disease and lung cancer. They also point out that both chronic and acute respiratory conditions, including asthma, can be direct results of poor air quality. A large portion of the global population suffers from these conditions regularly, and upper respiratory conditions were the most common condition diagnosed at urgent care clinics in 2012.

With new evidence of the direct link between clean, green spaces and human health, especially for older adults, the York and Edinburgh University researchers are urging citizens and world governments to prioritize the protection of natural lands. Click here for more information.

“In a time of austerity, when greens spaces are possibly under threat due to pressure on council funding, we have demonstrated that these areas are important to people’s health,” researchers wrote in the press release. “We have an aging population which places challenges on the government. As the cost of looking after an aging population continues to rise, maintaining access to green space could be a relatively low cost option for improving mental well-being.”

Recent studies indicate that more than 99% of American women voluntarily remove hair, and more than 85% do so regularly, even daily. But, Mckenzi Middlebrooks’ haircut wasn’t an ordinary procedure. This teen recently went viral on social media for her courageous decision to shave her head while receiving chemotherapy.

Mckenzi is currently in the midst of an ongoing battle with both ovarian cancer and neuroblastoma. Yet she decided to “take control” of the situation, and knowing that hair loss due to chemotherapy was inevitable, she decided to get rid of it on her own terms.

“I had a perspective where cancer and chemo kind of control your life,” Mckenzi told ABC News. “I wanted to take control and basically say chemo and cancer can’t decide when I lose my hair. I want to. At least that was one thing I could have control over.”

When Mckenzi was finally ready, a video was taken while her father shaved her head in front of her mother, siblings, and close friends. Mckenzi said she didn’t originally intend to post the video to social media, but she reconsidered upon remembering that it may help others who are going through something similar.

Approximately 21 million women in the U.S. are experiencing hair loss right now, many times due to chemotherapy. Since the video was posted on Twitter, the tweet has reached more than 26,000 retweets in addition to eliciting encouraging responses from both strangers and friends.

“People were like, ‘You helped my cousin be brave enough to shave her head,’” Mckenzi said to ABC News. “I was happy I could help them.”

Mckenzi was initially diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was just 14, a major blow for a young woman just beginning her teenage years. After stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, and various surgeries, she was in remission for about two years. But right after last Christmas, a scan showed traces of re-emerging ovarian cancer in addition to a new type of cancer, neuroblastoma. Now, Middlebrooks is set to undergo five chemotherapy treatments every 21 days. To help her recover, the MIddlebrooks family has also set up a Facebook page for people who are interested in following her story, progress, and recovery.

While Mckenzi was reluctant to post the video online, the teen has achieved viral fame in an inspiring way. Today, an estimated 23% of Facebook users check their account at least five times a day, but many teens are practically attached to their smartphones.

“Her video is not only giving somebody else the courage to take control of their situation, but it’s bringing awareness to child cancer, and especially that children can get ovarian cancer,” said Middlebrooks’ mother, Janice Middlebrooks, to ABC News. “The response has just been overwhelming. We never expected it…it’s just amazing.”

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Align as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.Most moms are good at putting our family’s health and well-being first. This can mean everything from making sure that everyone eats a good breakfast and dinner to putting the kids to bed at a decent hour every night. But one of the things I typically don’t think about enough is my kids’ digestive health. I mean, I do in a general sense. I make sure they’re eating fruit and vegetables, eating three meals a day, drinking water — you know. The basics necessary for survival. But I’ve never really thought specifically about how to help with their digestion — even when I was taking probiotics myself.

When I learned that Align also makes a chewable probiotic supplement for kids ages 6-12, Align Jr., I finally started thinking about how I could help my kids achieve healthier, more harmonious digestion. Align is the #1 Doctor and Gastroenterologist-recommended probiotic brand‡. 
 Align Jr. is a cherry-flavored chewable for kids that is meant to be taken once a day. My kids already take other chewable vitamins daily. So could improving their digestive health really be as simple as adding Align Jr. to my middle schooler’s existing morning routine, right along with the chewable vitamins that she’s already happy to take? As it turns out, adding it to her routine really was that simple.

Even if your kids aren’t used to taking supplements, you can just remind them that it is cherry smoothie flavored, which will make it sort of like a tiny treat every time they take it. And for your peace of mind (and mine), there are no artificial colors or sweeteners included and it’s gluten free.

Sounds like a win-win-win. (I’m not sure exactly who the last “win” is for, but it just felt right).

So what exactly are the possible benefits of taking a probiotic, much less giving one to your kids, right? Well, everything from what we’re eating to stress, general busyness and changes to our routines can all wreak havoc on our digestion. And from my experience going to New Jersey’s gastroenterology center for stomach complications, I can tell you, no one wants an angry digestive system. Probiotics are designed to help minimize the angry. They introduce good bacteria to our systems that provide a health benefit and are essential for many vital body functions, including healthy digestion*. And everyone feels better when their digestion is moving along as it should. Why wouldn’t we want the same for our kids?

If you’d like to try Align Jr., don’t miss the chance to use this $5 off coupon.

Align partnered with bloggers, such as me, to get the word out about its great product benefits. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Align believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Align’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

ǂ Among gastroenterologists and doctors who recommended a brand of probiotic in an AlphaImpactRx 2016 Survey.

Playing some sexy games with your partner is an easy way to let go of your inhibitions, get to know each other better and, maybe, even learn a thing or two about yourself. So plan to spend some personal time together and have fun. Your love life will thank you!

1. 30 Seconds

In this wildly sensual teasing game you’ll have just 30 seconds to give each other as much pleasure as possible. What makes it fun is the fact that usually it isn’t enough, which turns out to be a good thing because now it’s your turn. You’ll find that you both need multiple turns, as you’re not allowed to give directions or help in any way.

Toy Ideas: Heartbreaker  |  Scout

2. Mirror, Mirror

Start off by doing something to your partner that you enjoy. They will then repeat that same move on you and vice versa. This game is not only about discovering what pleases your lover, but also about helping you uncover new sensations that you didn’t know you liked.

Toy Ideas: Pocket wonder wand  |  Double impact

3. Lights, camera, action!

Becoming very trendy in the last several years, sensual videos bring new and exciting atmosphere into the bedroom. Plus, you’ll have an intimate recording that you can enjoy again and again. Let your imagination soar and experiment with decorations, costumes, and toys.

Ideas: Ruffle babydoll and panty set  |  Lasso love ring

4. Hot & Cold

This sensory deprivation game is one of the most erotic games to try. You will need a couple of toys with different textures and two bowls of water – hot and cold. Start the game by blindfolding (and even tying up) your partner, then stimulate their pleasure zones by changing up the temperature and texture of the toys.

Toy Ideas: Caress silicone  |  Casper

5. Truth or Dare

If you’ve never played an erotic version of this game, you’re in for a wonderful surprise. Take turns asking each other naughty questions or daring to do kinky things, and you’ll surely uncover some fantastic things about your lover. You can be as wild, or tame, as you want. Just make sure to set some ground rules first.

Toy Ideas: Soft touch set  |  Double indulgence

6. Alphabet

In this game, you take turns tracings letters or even whole words on your partner’s most private parts. The trick is to only use your tongue when you’re writing and the receiving partner has to keep the eyes closed, can even be blindfolded for an additional thrill. To kick this up a notch, try adding a Finger Vibrator to the mix. Use it to stimulate one zone when you’re writing on another, it will make the guessing a bit harder by spreading the attention, but that multipoint stimulation will take them all the way to ecstasy.

Toy Ideas: Soft touch blindfold  |  Pleasure finger

7. Spin the Bottle

Remember the thrill of playing Spin the Bottle with your friends; remember how it made you tremble by giving you a chance to kiss that special someone? Well, now you can make the game even more exciting. All you need is a bottle and a large sheet of paper with a list of all your favorite caresses. Set a limit for each turn, as the list can be quite long. Stimulation of some erogenous zones can be tricky without specially designed toys, so feel free to bring them to the game. You know what we mean, right?

Toy Ideas: Petite Treats  |  Silicone P-spot vibe

8. Stark Naked

To play this game you need a radio or your music collection with a shuffle function. Take turns guessing the singer’s gender for the upcoming song and whoever gets it right, chooses the position. Make it even more exciting by playing with a couple’s vibrator, which will really maximize the pleasure and double the fun.

Toy Ideas: blueMotion Nex 1  |  Unity

9. Hot, Hotter, Hottest

Have your partner write down on paper some secret wishes they have, then hide those notes around the house and make your partner find them. Looking for those notes can be a great foreplay, as you will be controlling the vibrator your partner will be wearing and the closer they will get to the note, the more rewarding you make the vibrations, so, by the time the seeker will find one, both of you will be really turned on for the main course.

Toy Ideas: Adventure remote control egg |  Love play

10. Roll the Dice

Make that popular game even hotter by taking it outside the bedroom. Roll the dice to see where the game will take you and how long the action will last. And keep a toy at every location to use for extra fun and pleasure.

Toy Ideas: Pink fantasy soft cuffs  |  Couple’s delight

11. First to Finish Loses

The goal of this game is to make your partner orgasm before you do…whoever holds off the longest is the winner. If you win, you get to guide your partner in how to use your favorite toy to give you an orgasm.

Toy ideas: We-ring  |  Eva

More toys and sexy ideas.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Boys & Girls Clubs of America as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

My daughter wants to be the next Simone Biles. Yes, that Simone Biles. The one who brought home four gold medals in gymnastics after the 2016 Olympics and thrilled the world in the process. Suffice it to say my baby girl is driven, and I want her to achieve her wildest dreams. Of course, if this is going to happen my family has to prioritize being healthy. I admit that while the rest of my family does a good job of staying active, mama needs to do better so that I can be supportive and encouraging — but also lead by example. And like many families, we could definitely use some help making healthy food choices at home, so that our girls are prepared to make healthy food choices of their own.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America understands challenging it can be to do all of this, and they want to help families do better. Their Triple Play initiative is a comprehensive health and wellness program designed to give young people and their families not just awareness, but also the tools necessary to make healthier decisions.

Triple Play, which is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company and Amerigroup Foundation, is a program that focuses on three key areas: Mind, body and soul. The overall goal is to encourage participants to increase the amount of physical activity they engage in and help build a support network of positive relationships — all designed to help create a healthy lifestyle. Triple Play is currently available to 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs that serve more than 4.2 million youth in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Personally, I know that I need to increase physical activity. I feel better when I get up and move my body, even if just for 20 minutes a day, and even if I don’t admit to my husband that he’s right when he says it will help. Triple Play aims to help us all focus on the “I feel better when” mantra, so that we can make decisions that make us feel our best.

During the winter, my family doesn’t get outside often, save for the stray 70-degree day that reminds us Mother Nature has no respect for date or season. The rest of the time, we have to find ways to stay active indoors. My 3-year-old has this particular mission on lock. There is no piece of furniture she will not climb, bounce on, or jump off. She also spends a lot of pretend playtime as various animals and a ballerina — sometimes at the same time.

My older daughter has gymnastics. Even though she’s not enrolled in classes right now, she still uses the equipment we have at home to keep her skills on point. The rest of us have to get a bit more creative about it. My older daughter dances with me because she knows that’s my favorite way to move, and my husband uses the every room and every surface to exercise — from the counters in the bathroom to the door frame of the laundry room.

When it comes to meals, we have to be even more thoughtful. Old habits die hard, and one of mine is eating convenience food. We are constantly working to include fresher foods and more vegetables and fruit in our routine.

In addition to providing support for kids, Triple Play also provides a guide for parents, with step by step details for making good choices all the time.

So what about you? What do you do to keep yourself and your family active?