Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia - A moving guest post

I am honored to present this guest post from another Orange County Mom - Meredith Drews.  Just a warning... you are going to want to have tissues ready.  Thank you Meredith for sharing your story!




I am the mother of four—but I only get to kiss two of my children goodnight.  I have two boys, Thomas and Henry, and two daughters, Bridget and Elsie.  Thomas is five, plays t-ball, gymnastics and thinks Justin Beiber is cool.  Henry is two, adores his big brother, loves Mickey Mouse and is talking like crazy.  Bridget and Elsie died an hour after they were both born. They should be three years old.

It was my second pregnancy and we were shocked with spontaneous twins.  Once the surprise wore off, we adjusted to the idea and to the never-ending question: “Do twins run in your family?”  

My twenty week ultrasound came and went… in this time we’d learned the twins were both girls; we’d just picked out names, the excitement was building, the reality settling in.  Two weeks or so after my “grand” ultrasound I went back to my OB for a check-up.  We did growth checks at each appointment and the girls’ heads had grown in two weeks, but not their stomachs.  My doctor was concerned and sent me home on bedrest for two weeks. I never made it that far.

A little more than a week later I called my doctor at 5 am in the morning.  I asked to come in and she said absolutely—call the office as soon as it opens, so I did and got an afternoon appointment.  Around 10 am I called again and said I didn’t feel right: could I come in sooner? They said yes.  I left the house around noon.  I wasn’t swelling.  I thought maybe I had “floaters” in my eyes.  My urine was dark.  I was bruising on my legs.  I’d had a nose bleed a few days earlier that I had trouble stopping.  There was no pain under my right ribcage, but I had had a pain in my right shoulder for nearly a week.

When I got to the doctor, I knew preeclampsia could be a concern because of the visual disturbances.  My blood pressure was higher.  I was spilling protein in my urine.  My doctor sent me to the hospital and things went from bad to horrific.  I was told I had preeclampsia and would be in the hospital at least a week.  I was 24 weeks the next day at this point.  Then my doctor and MFM came in the room.  He delivered the bad news… I was very, very sick.  I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome (which I had NEVER heard of).  I needed to deliver right away.  If we chose to deliver cesarean, it would give the girls the best shot, but be very risky to me.  I could bleed to death with my platelets in the 16,000 range.  I could deliver vaginally and not attempt to save my daughters.

I had to call my husband over the phone with this news and we agreed the best thing to do would be to deliver vaginally, not risk all three of us and leaving behind our oldest son without his mother.  From then, every kick I felt inside me was gut-wrenching knowing these little babies I’d tried so hard to keep safe were dying.  Unable to have an epidural, I felt every push of labor, heard all the crying in the room from doctors and nurses and from my husband and me.  We heard a deafening silence from our baby girls.
We held our daughters in our arms as they died.

I couldn’t believe this had happened to me.  I still can’t.  I recovered in the hospital another five days and went home to my computer and the internet. I searched for information and when I typed into Google, out came the Preeclampsia Foundation.  I found information and support which helped me stayed informed through my third pregnancy just three months after we lost our girls.  In time, I have found a place and means to give my daughters’ one hour of life each a great meaning in the volunteer work I do because of our experience.  

On May 14th we will hold the second annual Promise Walk for Preeclampsia at the Lakeside Lagoon in Irvine.  Organizing this walk is the only way I have left to be a mommy to my girls.  This is their legacy.  I may never be able to watch them cross the stage as they accept their high school diplomas or walk down the aisle to be married, but each year I will see all the people at our walk.  We will come together to raise funds, awareness and to support each other and our shared experiences.  For information on registering or donating, please go here.

I will never understand why this had to happen, but I someday hope to know what happened to cause my body to betray me like that.  I want to know how it happened and how others can prevent it.  Really… I want my baby girls back… but I’m very blessed to have my own health and my sweet, perfect two little boys—both born completely preeclampsia-free.

For more information on the Preeclampsia Foundation or the OC Promise Walk for Preeclampsia, contact Meredith Drews at meredith.drews@preeclampsia.org or at 949-378-5690.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CamelBak Groove Portable Water Filtration GIVEAWAY

A couple of weeks ago I received the CamelBak water bottle in the mail. Honestly, my first thought was, cool, a neat water bottle. Little did I know how much I would fall in love with it! Seriously, ask anyone who sees me on a daily basis and they will agree I always have it with me now. I LOVE it!

It's not just a water bottle, it's a portable filtration device... which means it literally filters the water as you sip it. You can refill it with tap water, no kidding. I'm about as picky as it gets with the taste of water. If water has the tiniest hint of an odd taste, I won't drink it. So the first time I tried water through the CamelBak, I was honestly worried that I wouldn't like it. But the water tastes fantastic! Without a doubt I am consuming more water each day than I was before I had the CamelBack Groove. Both my boys now want one and we'll be getting those next chance I get.

I could go on and on about the benefits of a re-usable water bottle, we all know them... consuming those disposable water bottles is not good for the environment but in an effort to improve health drinking water is one of the best things you can do. It's a tough balancing act. Think about it... how many water bottles do you drink in a week? Multiply that by 52 (weeks), now by how old you are... now do that for each member of your family. It's a dizzying thought!

Here are some fun facts about the Groove water bottle:
  • Gives consumers great tasting, freshly filtered water anywhere they go in the only reusable bottles designed and proven to help people stay better hydrated.
  • Bite valve proven to help you drink up to 24% more (recent Pepperdine University study). It’s the same bite valve used by astronauts!
  • Comes in a sleek, long-lasting durable .6 liter bottle made of BPA-free Tritan plastic or stainless steel.
  • Now available nationwide for a SRP of $25 (Tritan) and $35 (stainless steel). Replacement filters are available for a SRP of $10 for two filters and $25 for six.

Sold on a CamelBak Groove yet? I've got TWO Tritan Grooves (just like the one pictured above, note that it also comes in pink) to giveaway to two lucky readers! So here's what you have to do...

The giveaway will go until May 10th at 11:59pm and is only open to residents of the contiguous U.S. When leaving comments, be sure I have a way to contact you, I reserve the right to pick another winner if I am not able to contact the winners in a reasonable amount of time. The two winners will be picked using Random.org.

Mandatory first entry:
  • Tell us how many disposable water bottles you would save each year by using a CamelBak Groove in a comment below.

Bonus entries (allowed one entry for each of the following):
  • Follow CamelBak on their Twitter or Facebook accounts
  • Follow OCMomActivities on Facebook or Twitter
  • Tell us an adventure you'd take ans where you'd fill up your Groove (this entry is allowed once per day per person... be creative and have fun with it!)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pirates Dinner Adventure - A Night Full of Fun!

We were recently invited to check out the Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, CA (note there is also one located in Florida).  If you are a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the Pirates of the Caribbean movie or just Pirates in general - you are sure to love this dinner theater!  It starts with a pre-show entertainment experience, I say this because there really isn't any other way to explain it.  You'll be harassed by Pirates, have the chance to take photographs with Pirates and more before the show even begins.  Be sure to have your Yo ho ho and arrrgs ready! 
Once the show is ready to begin, you'll be escorted to your seats where you pick your meals, enjoy you drinks and the show will begin.  The seats surround a 250,000 gallon indoor lagoon with an 18th century Spanish ship replica.

Be prepared for Pirates to be swinging from above and tons of audience interaction.  My kids had an awesome time and we highly recommend any Pirate fans be sure to check it out!  There are two dinner shows to check out - Curse of Poseidon's Treasure (the newest addition) and Captain Sebastian's Revenge (a classic favorite).

For more information on booking your Pirate Dinner Adventure, you can head here.

Ok... and I admit it... I was adding "arrgg and ahoy matey" to many of my conversations in the days after, but don't tell anyone!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day... I thought I'd share the picture of the Planet Earth cake I made for my son's birthday a couple months ago.  Super easy to do (click here for the original post to see how easy it was to make!).

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Planet Friendly Birthday Present Bags

We attend a lot of kids birthday parties each year, way more than I'd like to keep track of!  One thing that has always bugged me was the disposable and one time use of the wrapping paper or gift bags that have become popular recently.  With a little help from Toys R Us (and no, this post is not their idea or inspired by a pitch... LOL), I've come up with a great compromise with my tree hugging roots.  Toys R Us is now selling super cute kid friendly shopping bags at $1.99 each (which works out to be comparable to the price of a traditional disposable gift bag).  I've purchased Toy Story themed ones as well as other well recognized characters.  But I'm sure you can find one that matches the theme of the party you are attending or other fun kid friendly one.  This is a great way to take one small step in becoming more eco-friendly without spending more money or making dramatic changes.  I love them because it's almost like adding another small present  in to the mix for the birthday kid. 

Above is my most recent one we put together for a birthday party.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Famous Bruschetta Recipe

This post has gotten buried and it is one of our absolute favorite family recipes of all time (in fact I just made it for dinner tonight).  This is always a huge hit as an appetizer and is super healthy. 

I wanted to dig it out of the archives since we can finally see the hints that Summer is on its way!  Enjoy!

Bruschetta
Ingredients:
●Vine ripened cherry tomatoes (approximately 1.5 quarts when quartered); the quality of the tomatoes makes or breaks this recipe.
●Handful of washed/rough chopped fresh Basil
●Several fresh crushed cloves of Garlic (amount depending on your taste)
●Handful of shredded Mozzarella
●Olive Oil (approx. 2 tablespoons)
●Balsamic Vinegar (approx. 1 tablespoon)
●Cayenne Pepper
●Salt
●French Baguette (Ciabatta Bread works well also)

Directions:
Slice baguette and toast (I brush a little olive oil on each side prior to toasting in the oven or on the stove top in a skillet).

Wash and slice the tomatoes in quarters (depending on the size of the tomato), add the rough chopped basil, crushed garlic, shredded mozzarella (use the apple wood smoked mozzarella from Trader Joe's for a fantastic flavor addition), olive oil, balsamic. Add Cayenne and salt to taste. Mix.

Top toasted baguettes and if desired, toast in the oven on cookie sheet just until mozzarella melts.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - The Help Movie Trailer

I'm sick and behind on posts but wanted to share this clip from the upcoming movie The Help, coming to theaters August 12th (note it is PG-13) but is based on the New York Times Best selling book.  It's sure to be a classic and must see movie.  

Enjoy!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good To Go From Head To Toe is at Pretend City Saturday!

There is no doubt that Autism Spectrum diagnosis are on the rise among other developmental disorders.  When my boys were young I remember scouring the baby books each month to refresh my memory as to what the important milestones were for the boys.  I've been very lucky to have two average boys.

Pretend City and Good To Go Head to Toe have paired up again for the 2nd Annual Family Fun and Wellness Fair this coming Saturday (April 16th 10 am-3 pm) to help make those crucial screenings for developmental check-ups fun and less invasive for children by cushioning them in a fun environment.  There are free developmental check-ups, community and health related activities, nutritious snacks, crafts, a dance competition and all sorts of other fun family activities.  Kids who visit all the stations will receive an admission ticket to Pretend City.  The stations are designed for kids ages 0-5 and include hearing, speech and language, behavior, BMI, height and weight, blood pressure and dental.


Pretend City is located at 29 Hubble, Irvine, CA and you can find out more information about them here.  You can find out more information about Good To Go From Head To Toe here.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

African Cats is Almost Here!

It would be a total understatement to say we are SUPER excited to see the new Disneynature movie African Cats set to arrive in theaters April 22nd.  We LOVED "Oceans" and "Earth" and can't wait for the next move African Cats.

If you haven't heard about it yet, Disneynature is making a donation for ever ticket purchased during the opening week to protect the lions and cheetahs featured in the film (to the African Wildlife Foundation).  It's a fantastic way to tie in the movie going experience with a donation to charity.  I plan on using it as an education experience for my children reminding them that by caring about the cats featured in the movie, they will be taking a step in helping to protect them by seeing the movie.  I know they will love that!

African Cats will be playing in theaters across the country, but the El Capitan theatre here in LA will be taking it a step further, incorporating a presentation from the Wildlife Learning Center.  It will include a live presentations called Exotic Animals From Around the World.  Daily showtimes are: 10:00 am, 12:30 pm, 3:45 pm, 7:00 pm, and 9:35 pm.  Tickets are available at the El Capitan Theatre box office (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), online at www.elcapitantickets.com 

For more information about the movie African Cats you can go here.

Sounds like fun!  I can't wait to see the movie!!!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour is Coming to Southern California!

NASA Johnson Space Center - Earth Sciences and Image Analysis (NASA-JSC-ES&IA)
It's official!  The California Science Museum in Los Angeles is set to receive the Space Shuttle Endeavour!!!  My kids are BEYOND excited to visit the shuttle once it arrives later this year. You may remember a recent post (click here) about our trip to the Space Museum at the California Science Museum earlier this year. 

The space shuttles are being retired and sent to various locations across the United States for display, note that the Endeavour will be the only shuttle residing here on the West Coast!

You may also remember that the shuttle has one more very important flight to take before retiring here to Southern California... it is going to take Representative Gabrielle Giffords husband - Captain Mark Kelly in to space later this month for its final journey in to space.

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6 Ways To Save Like An Extreme Couponer

We've all done it, just admit it.  

I've clipped coupons and I was pretty proud of myself when I managed to save 30% on a regular grocery shop at Vons.  My neighbor and I used to go grocery shopping together and make a competition about it, the person who saved the highest percentage bought the other a coffee.  I think the highest we ever hit was 40% discount off a regular shop.  Yeah... I guess we are rookies compared to the people I've been seeing on Extreme Couponing on TLC.  

I must admit I'm a little inspired to get back in to it (I haven't clipped coupons in a few years) and save some serious money on grocery shopping again.  With gas prices on the rise, it would be great to save money on grocery shopping!

Below are Six Ways To Save Like An Extreme Couponer from Andrea Woroch.

1. Start Small
Don't try to go extreme all at once. Take it step by step, rather than show up at a checkout with 50 coupons and little idea what you're doing.

2. Never Pay For Coupons
There are some things in this life you just shouldn't pay for, and a coupon is one of them. Paying someone to clip or organize your coupons defeats the purpose of living frugally. Instead, surf Sunday newspaper ad supplements for coupon savings; ask your neighbors for their unwanted papers; or dive inside a recycled dumpster or two. Also, free online coupon sites like CouponSherpa.com give consumers access to a multitude of coupon codes and printable coupons for thousands of merchants.

3. Get Organized
A little organization can go a long way. Always create a shopping list and have your coupons and shopping strategy organized before you even enter the store. Use an expandable coupon binder to sort coupon inserts by date, categories and expiration dates. Transfer to a small couponizer only those you'll need for a specific shopping trip.

4. Location, Location, Location
Where you shop is a key factor in making the best use of your time and coupons. Only shop at locations that allow coupon stacking and combining coupons with in-store offers. Don't be afraid to call and ask about policies before you show up. You don't want to wind up embarrassed at the checkout line with a handful of useless coupons.

5. Loyalty Rewards
Always take advantage of club membership rewards. These programs are usually free and have many savings perks, like rewards points, cash back programs, and double points for every certain amount you spend.

6. Don't Be Greedy
This is often where extreme couponers cross over into the world of hoarding. Only shop for items you actually need, products you can stock up on that aren't perishable, and those you can donate. Remember, a bargain is only a bargain if you can actually use the purchase. If your pantry has expanded into your living room and the kids are sleeping on rolls of toilet paper, you've probably reached hoarder status.

Still want more tips?  Head on over to Andrea's site here or follow her on Twitter here.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Mad Hatter Easter Tea Party in Mission Viejo this Saturday

If you're in South County this coming Saturday April 16th and have an Alice in Wonderland fan, be sure to stop by the Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo.  Between the hours of 10 am and Noon there will be several characters from Alice in Wonderland for the Mad Hatter Easter Tea Party.  There will be face painting, egg decorating and cupcakes.  There will also be the chance to win tickets to see the new movie Hop (in movie theaters now).

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Special Screening of Rio in Orange County TOMORROW

Are your kids as excited as mine to see the movie Rio that is about to be released in theaters? 


Here's your chance to attend an advance screening of the movie at the new state of the art ETX (Enhanced Theatre Experience) auditorium at the Block in Orange County TOMORROW.  It's going to be a super family oriented screening and sure to be tons of fun.  Please note that this is definitely a first come first serve opportunity but go here and enter code MOMSDAN1 to to get your chance for screening passes for Saturday April 9, 2011.


Rio will be in theaters on April 15th.

Trailer


Still can't get enough of Rio?  Love Angry Birds?  Download the Angry Birds Rio App here.  And check out this Angry Birds infested video promo below.

Rio Angry Bird

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