The Connected in Hope Foundation

Ryane Murnane traveled to Ethiopia in 2009 to adopt a baby boy.  To her surprise, she fell head over heels for both the country and the people whom she met on her journey.  Ryane knew immediately that she wanted to find a way to give back to the country that gave her a son.

More trips to Ethiopia introduced Ryane to the women burdened with bundles of fuel wood, including the enormous challenges they face in an effort to provide food and shelter for their families. 

Fashion that Gives Back

Do you see this beautiful scarf around my neck?  –> It was made by Alem Ababte, a member of the Former Fuel Wood Carriers Association, Mount Entoto, Ethiopia.

Shortly after returning from Ethiopia, Ryane co-founded the Connected in Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization which was developed as a social enterprise to address the needs of women in Ethiopia. The organization works with 60 women who weave beautiful scarves and baskets by hand that the organization sells in the United States. These women once had to transport heavy bundles of fuel wood (75-80 lbs at a time) more than ten miles down mountains to sell in their wares at markets in Addis Ababa for a profit of less than $1 per day.

Their goal is to provide these women access to international markets as well as to support, encourage and train them to earn a sustainable and predictable income through sales of their hand-woven items.  To that end, 100% of the profits on the sale of the scarves are re-invested in programs to support the women and their families, such as a preschool for the children of the weavers. They also hope to continue to raise funds so they can open a small library for the children and even a health clinic.

I am giving one scarf away to a lucky reader!  The winner will get to choose the scarf of their choice from the Connected in Hope store at http://store.connectedinhope.com/.  All you have to do is leave a comment below telling us which scarf you would choose if you won.

To learn more about Connected in Hope, go to http://www.connectedinhope.com/. I also encourage you to Like their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ConnectedinHope.

I am also honored to be working with the Connected in Hope Foundation to offer readers a 10% discount on scarves using the code MARBLES at checkout when you make a purchase at http://store.connectedinhope.com/. Can you even think of a more meaningful gift than one which is both beautiful and gives back?  Buy one of these fashionable scarves for yourself too!

By the way, the scarf I am wearing in the photo above is the Infiniti scarf in Merlot.  You can find it here: http://store.connectedinhope.com/infinity-scarves/merlot-infinity-scarf.

 

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*** Disclosure: I am both honored and proud to be working with the Connected in Hope Foundation. They generously sent me a scarf for writing this post and hosting the giveaway.

Dining at Disney World with Food Allergies

Several times through the years friends and acquaintances mentioned that the folks at Disney are terrific about food allergies and thought, “Yeah, but can they accommodate an extreme case?  How about someone with a gazillion food allergies?”

Not long ago I heard a story from a friend at the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation.  A family traveled to Disney with their young son who could eat nothing.  Sadly he was on a feeding tube.  At each restaurant his family dined at during their stay, the chef brought out an elaborate Disney themed ice sculpture for the boy to enjoy.  How incredible is that?

Those of you who know me or visit this site often know that my oldest has multiple severe food allergies.  One serious food allergy is unsettling enough.  Our list includes: peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, wheat/gluten, oat, soy, beef, pork, white potatoes, tomatoes, all legumes (incl: lentils, chick peas, peas), pineapple, lemon, sesame seeds and more.  There are also many foods he has never eaten so we do not know if they are safe yet.  (We work with doctors to slowly try a few new items each year.)  Due to the potential for contamination issues we have a list of brand-specific foods that are safe for our son.  So you see that when I said that our case is extreme, I was hardly kidding.

Not only had we never been on a family vacation, we had never been out to eat together as a family.  It was too much of a risk.  Yet it was time to try, to make that phone call to see if the happiest place on earth really could accommodate us.

We booked a room with a kitchen to cook there as needed.  Our travel agent told us about Garden Grocer, a nearby supermarket which carries a lot of specialty items.  I ordered food online and they were all set to have it delivered to our room upon arrival.

We looked at Disney’s Special Dietary Requests page to find out about dining at Disney with food allergies.  Upon request, we sent an email with a list of food allergens and our dining reservations to Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com.

A few weeks before we were set to leave a chef from one of the restaurants called.  He had received our list and wanted to talk about what he could make for our son when we arrived at his restaurant. I asked him to hold for a moment so I could stop my tears.  We really would be able to eat at Disney with food allergies.

Each of the chefs called prior to our reservation and each was fantastic.  Our first stop was Tutto Italia in Epcot, where Chef Alan’s shift was over before we arrived but had stayed longer just to cook for our son.  We didn’t even get a chance to thank him.  While my boy ate his first ever meal out at a restaurant, I shot photos through tears.

We were actually dining at Disney with food allergies.

Chef George at the Rainforest Café in Animal Kingdom went food shopping that morning just to get our ingredients.  (Plus, he made “the best cookies ever.”)   The Chefs at the Wilderness Lodge saved a brand new Mickey Mouse waffle iron to use for our son’s homemade waffles.  He also ate the tastiest sweet potato fries ever and a special drink at the Sci-Fi diner.  Our son was overjoyed and so were we.

To all of those at Disney from the Special Dietary Request department to the chefs, the wait staff and on, please know that you gave our child a week he will never forget.  Since returning home from our trip, he talks more about the meals he ate than the parks we visited or the rides he went on over and over again.

Dining at Disney with food allergies was truly a dream come true.

How to Keep Children Germ-Free at School

Though most kids definitely would not admit to it, back to school is an exciting time of year filled with new teachers, new books, new classmates and new germs.  Right now Purell is hosting a sweepstakes called Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts.  Ten winners will get a prize of a $250 back-to-school shopping spree plus 25 Scholastic books and Purell products to keep your child’s classroom as germ-free as possible.

As most parents of school aged kids know, when one child at school catches a cold or virus, it has a tendency to travel straight through the classroom.  Though frequent hand washing is the best way to try to prevent these colds and viruses from reaching your child, we are not with our kids at school to remind them to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water throughout the day.

In our school district, many of the teachers have hand sanitizer on the list of school supplies for each child to bring on the first day of school.  I also put a bottle of Purell in each of my kids’ backpacks, just in case they are sitting next to a kid on the bus who has an obvious cough or sniffles.  In hearing about the contest, I also learned that Purell has a new Jelly Wrap carrier that clips to backpacks.  This is a great solution for my kids, particularly my older one who has a tendency to lose just about everything.  By the way, you can find a coupon for Purell here: http://www.scholastic.com/purell.

Knowing that many of our schools throughout the country have been facing severe budget cuts and financial hardships, Purell is offering a full range of hand soaps for schools.  From now until 7/31/2013, when a school system purchases 100 cases of GOJO foam soap they can qualify to receive 10 cases of free Purell products, enough to sanitize the hands of 480 busloads of students. Most school systems need to order way more than 100 cases, so that is an easily attainable number.  That’s an easy target for most school systems to achieve, and after a school reaches its first 100 cases, each additional 10 cases of GOJO foam soap will earn an additional case of Purell for free.  For more information, go to: http://purell.com/~/media/Purell/Files/LIT-K12EXC.pdf.

Don’t forget to enter the Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts contest.  Who could not use a $250 back-to-school shopping spree?  With ten winners you have a great chance at winning it, plus 25 the Scholastic books and Purell products for your child’s classroom.  You can enter now through 9/30/12 at http://www.scholastic.com/purell.

 

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While I applaud Purell for paying it forward to schools in need, please note that I was compensated for this post.  All opinions are authentically my own. 

Rachel Levy Lesser, What’s in a Namesake?

Rachel Levy Lesser has graced this site before with a terrific guest post about How She Found the Marbles. She is the author of the beautiful memoir of time spent with her mother called Shopping for Love. Now Rachel’s exploration into her family heritage has resulted in her first children’s book, My name is Rebecca Romm, Named After My Mother’s Mom, a heartwarming book about self acceptance.

Rebecca Elizabeth Romm was named after her late grandmother, also named Rebecca. She does not like being named after nor being compared to her grandmother and just wants a name of her own. Rebecca’s teacher assigns the class a project about their names and Rebecca soon learns that several of her classmates were also named after significant people. Some of the namesakes are family like Rebecca’s while other students are named after famous and important people in history. Upon learning more about her grandmother, Rebecca begins to realize that being named after someone might not be an honor after all. She also discovers that despite being named after someone else, Rebecca is still her own unique individual.

Congratulations to Rachel on the release of her book! You can see more about the book or purchase it directly from Amazon.com by following this link: My Name is Rebecca Romm, Named after My Mother’s Mom.

Are you or your children named after someone special? How does it feel to be that person’s namesake?

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Rachel Levy Lesser sent me a copy of her book for review. There is an affiliate link in the post, which means that if you purchase a copy of Rachel’s book using that link, I can get 1/2 cup of coffee at Starbucks.

@Picaboo Photo Books that Keep Children Safe

One night during the Type A Parent Conference a bunch of us bloggers hit a good old Mexican restaurant. Our dinner conversation included everything from our families to celebrity gossip to best practices in social media.

At one point I was chatting with Becca Bernstein, my friend who works in social media for Picaboo photo books, cards, calendars, prints and more.  Displaying my clear inability to think outside of the box, Becca was telling me about some of the ways people have utilized Picaboo’s photo books beyond family events, vacations and life occasions. For instance, Emily from Colorado Mom made a heartwarming photo book for her young autistic son.

Wait a minute. Hold the phones.  Photo books… kids… Here comes an idea.

So if you know me well, have met me or have seen this site before you probably know that I have a severely food allergic child.  I also sat on the board for the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, the largest online support community for families raising children with food allergies.  What if someone (like me) made a photo book for a food allergic child? 

Wouldn’t it be great if a young child could use that photo book to stay safe? 

Some parents might want to photograph foods that are not safe for caregivers and so the child can have a helpful reminder of what not to eat.  Other parents might want to have a photo book made with safe foods giving the child a book to celebrate all the foods he or she can eat.  Either way would be both adorable and helpful for a young child.  That child could take it to school or daycare, to a grandparent’s house, to a friend’s house and so on.  These photo books could potentially keep a child safe from a severe allergic reaction.

What a neat idea, right?  You can choose a green book for safe foods, a red book for foods to avoid or just go with a child’s favorite color.  The Classic soft cover books start at just $9.99.
You can create your own photo book for your child, whether it is related to foods, family or favorite paces.  Go to Picaboo.com to get yours!  Through 7/16 they are offering up to 40% off Classic books and calendars using the code SUNNYDAYS.

That Becca was on to something.  Now it’s your turn. What idea(s) do you have for unique ways to use a photo book?

By the way, here are some photos of my son’s safe foods!

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Disclosure: After Becca and I discussed the photo book for children with food allergies, we decided that not only would it make a great photo book but it would make a great blog post idea too.  Therefore while the ideas and opinions are all real and true, I did receive compensation for writing up the post.

Gain Body Confidence With @CoolSculpting

What would you have to lose to gain enough confidence to get naked?  Not long ago I wrote a post about my fabulous friends who are loving their bodies and who put photographs of their bellies online for the world to see.  While I envy them so much for their bravery and beauty, bearing my belly right now would be a genuinely traumatic experience for me.

Recently I learned about CoolSculpting, a non-surgical treatment for getting rid of stubborn fat cells.  CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved and patented technology that freezes fat cells and destroys them.  It is a non-invasive procedure for eliminating a muffin top, love handles or belly fat without needles or lasers.  Doctors say it is a great for those who are active and watch their diets but can’t get rid of fat in some stubborn areas, most commonly around the mid-section.

I am all for losing excess fat and regaining confidence.  As I approach my fortieth year (yikes) it is getting harder and harder to keep my weight down.

Each sculpting treatment area takes about an hour.  Afterward the fat cells break down and are naturally eliminated from the body.  Most patients begin to see results within about three weeks of the treatment with about a 20% reduction of fat in the treated area after one treatment.

It’s not inexpensive, but certainly less than a surgical procedure would cost.  CoolSculpting runs about $800 per area, and most doctors will give a discount for patients who do more than one area.  In my opinion, having more body confidence is worth the price.  The same goes for other cosmetic procedures, from nose jobs to wrinkle fillers.  If it makes you feel better about yourself, then I say go for it!

Guess what? You can enter to win a CoolSculpting treatment and a new iPad at LetsGetNaked.com.  Their new campaign, Let’s Get Naked, is about feeling confident in your skin.  The campaign kicked off with a bang at the South by Southwest interactive conference in Austin, Texas.  Click here to see the Let’s Get Naked commercial or follow along on Twitter at #NakedAtSXSW.

Want to learn more about CoolSculpting? Go to CoolSculpting.com or click here for a downloadable media kit.  You can also follow them on Twitter @CoolSculpting.

Body confidence is all about how someone feels about their outside from their inside. Personally, I am not ready to bear my belly yet.  I wish I had that confidence but the very thought of it scares the daylights out of me. What about you?  What would you have to lose to gain enough confidence to get naked? 

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I have been compensated by CoolSculpting for my participation in this exciting campaign.  I entered the Let’s Get Naked contest and hope to win a CoolSculpting treatment!

Are You Ready to Bloom?

Have you ever been so busy that one day you realized it has been ages since you have called an old friend, taken a walk, read a book, thanked a colleague or taken a moment to breathe?  Sometimes an entire day has gone by without having a drink of water and still I haven’t found time for that one phone call I really need to make.  With the lines between professional and family having become so blurred, our to-do lists just keep getting longer.

Lately I am all about trying to make sure that I am on the list.

Now there’s a really neat new app for that – and it’s free.  With Bloom you can schedule a reminder you to call your mom, take your vitamins, take a break, call a friend, pay your electric bill and so much more.  I will be using this to remind myself about the little things, the ones that fall by the wayside.

The app is filled with “blooms” and each one can be easily personalized. You can create your own or select from the ones provided.  You can use the blooms to inspire you to make healthy choices, stay connected, manage stress, save money, get creative or just to complete those undesirable tasks.  The blooms can serve as personal private reminders or can be shared publicly via Facebook, Twitter or email.  You can even add photos and music to your blooms.

Its purpose is to give you reminders, to encourage you and to inspire you to be on the list.  If you want to check it out, Bloom is available as a free download in the iTunes App Store and here’s a quick introduction http://vimeo.com/31439840. You can also learn more by visiting the company’s web site at www.mindbloom.com, check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mindbloom or on Twitter at @mindbloom.

Are YOU on the list?

 

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While all opinions expressed are truly my own, I was compensated by Mindbloom for my opinions about the Bloom app.

In the Heart of Haiti – @heartofhaiti

In the heart of Haiti there are artisans.  Artisans in the village of Croix-des-Bouquets make hand-cut metal picture frames.  Artisans in the slum of Cité Soleil sew together beautiful quilts. In the Seaside village of Jacmel, artisans design colorful paper maché vases.

Not only has there been political violence throughout its history, Haiti was also hit by a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January, 2010.  It is estimated that 220,000 people were killed, destroying businesses, homes and wiping away villages.  Among the ruins, illness and civil unrest, these artisans work to produce high-quality crafts for Heart of Haiti, a “trade not aid” project.

The Heart of Haiti collection includes an incredible selection of handmade products using primarily recycled materials.  The collection includes both jewelry and home décor items such as quilts, metalwork, bowls and servers, paper maché vases and ornaments.  The collection is available exclusively at select Macy’s and on Macys.com through a unique partnership with Fair Winds Trading and The Clinton Foundation.

I just received one of the gorgeous horn stretch bracelets, handmade in Calia, Haiti, from cow horn and bone.  Priced at just $30, this bracelet is truly a statement piece, one I intend to wear proudly and often.  I am also planning to purchase Heart of Haiti products as holiday gifts for family, friends and my children’s teachers. Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas according to the Human Development Index and yet despite their circumstances they are producing these beautiful handmade items.  Wouldn’t it be terrific if we could all help to put sustainable income into the hands of the artisans who create them?

For the full Heart of Haiti collection, go to: http://goo.gl/OZclT.  While there you can also read about the artisans who created the products and learn how your purchase will directly help the people of Haiti.

In addition, you can follow Heart of Haiti on Twitter @heartofhaiti and on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/HeartofHaiti.

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Look who Found the Marbles gladly supports companies who give back.  As mentioned, I did receive a beautiful horn stretch bracelet from Heart of Haiti as a thank you for writing this post. All opinions and anecdotes are authentically my own.  Factual content about Haiti is from Wikipedia.  If you know someone who has found the marbles, send an email to Jessica@FoundtheMarbles.com.

Giving, Saving and Hoping: Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins in just a few days.  Soon we will be entrenched in a sea of pink ribbons supporting awareness of a cause which touches millions of lives. At present, one in eight women will have breast cancer in their lifetime.

That is one in eight too many.

My family does not have a history of breast cancer, though having been on years of fertility medications I am still deeply terrified of the disease.  I had a baseline mammogram done at age 35 and will have another at 40.  I do self exams a few times a year, but probably not often enough.  Though I have several friends of friends who are currently battling breast cancer, it has not hit my inner circle – yet.  This disease is so prevalent that it feels like a ticking time bomb and we just don’t know who will be the next one in eight.

As consumers it has been easy to get swept up in the pink crusade because buying an item for a cause feels like a worthy contribution. In today’s economy, however, it may not be quite as easy as so many of us are focused on the necessities.  This month, Procter & Gamble Beauty and the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) (http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/) have partnered to share the gift of early detection through simple actions and everyday purchases. P&G is joining the NBCF in the fight against breast cancer, helping to further support their mission of saving lives for women with breast cancer through early detection.

What I like about this effort is that you can help the cause while saving money by purchasing the items you already use.  While we all want to see an end to breast cancer, this allows us to contribute by purchasing everyday items rather than something we would not typically buy simply because it is pink or has a ribbon sewn on it.  Here are the details:

On Sunday, October 2nd and Sunday, October 16th, GIVE Hope brandSAVER coupons will be distributed in newspapers across the country with discounts on P&G products. For each coupon redeemed, P&G will donate two cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This allows you to make a donation while saving money on products you purchase regularly for your family.

In addition, P&G consumers will receive a $10 rebate and P&G will make a $10 donation to the NBCF with the purchase of $50 worth of P&G Beauty products during the month of October, including: Olay, Venus, Secret, Cover Girl, Clairol, Pantene, Safeguard, Ivory, Aussie and Herbal Essences.  That’s a 20% donation to the charity plus 20% back in your pocket. (http://www.pgpinkrebate.com/pink_rebate.pdf)

Lastly, for every Facebook “like” at http://www.facebook.com/PGUnitedWeBeautify, P&G will donate ten cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The P&G Beauty Facebook page will be featuring stories from employees of P&G who have been impacted by breast cancer.

How are you showing supporting breast cancer awareness month?

Leave a comment below and you will be entered to win a gift basket of P&G products!

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Contest Details: Leave a comment at the end of this post.  Each comment qualifies as one entry.  One winner will be chosen at random.  All comments must be received by October 15th to qualify.  The winner will be notified by October 17th.  If a response is not received and confirmed within 48 hours of notification a new winner will be chosen at random among the remaining entries.

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for TheMotherhood on behalf of P&G and will be compensated for writing this post by P&G, Hearst Magazines and TheMotherhood.  All opinions and anecdotes are my own.

There’s No Place Like @Starbucks

Just saying the word ‘Starbucks’ in certain circles can create an invisible dividing line between the devout loyalists and those who feel strongly that their offerings are beyond a rational price range for a cup of coffee.

One afternoon in Philadelphia, upon ordering my Grande non-fat, two-pump chai tea, the one and only Peter Shankman promptly rolled his eyes at me.  Joking that he can tell how high-maintenance a female is by how many syllables are in her drink order, I felt the urgent need to replying by declaring that my other order is just a plain old green tea.  I guess that makes me part-time high-maintenance?  Yeah, I’ll just go with that.  Next time I am just ordering the green tea, darn it.

While I am no Starbucks fanatic, the price of my multi-syllable drink feels more justified in my head because I am buying from a socially conscious company.  They contribute funds towards rebuilding the Gulf Coast.  They pay for literacy programs.  They help the areas that produce their coffee, tea and cocoa.  They help to provide people in developing countries with access to clean water.  You can say what you want about their prices, but how many other companies are committed like that?

Working from home, Starbucks has become my office for casual business meetings.  Typically I’ll purchase a cup of multi-syllable or green tea and a protein bistro box.  Recently I started a high protein diet so the protein box is my Starbucks meal of choice. (Hmm. Maybe I am more high-maintenance than I thought.) Anyway, Starbucks launched a line of Bistro Boxes in some of their locations a couple of months ago and each one has less than 500 calories.  The bistro boxes cost $4.95 for the snack size and $6.95 for the meal size, which is not too shabby, especially for Starbucks. You can see the different varieties here read the nutritional information here. The protein bistro box, which is my favorite, has a cage-free egg, cheddar cheese, a packet of honey peanut butter spread, multigrain bread, apples and some grapes.  It has 380 calories, 19 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s your favorite item at Starbucks?  Have you ever had their bistro boxes?  How many syllables are in your regular drink order?
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Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Starbucks Bistro Boxes and received a gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for taking the time to participate. I was asked to provide an honest review and therefore all opinions expressed are my own.  Peter Shankman’s opinions are his own as well….

Bistro Box Photo Credit: Starbucks.com

Are You Healthy, Sexy, Happy?

Mother and Daughter Cooking“… everyone experiences moments when they realize something about themselves has changed.  It’s always an unpleasant revelation.  Health, fitness and appearance do change with age, especially with accelerated aging.  But you don’t have to age in an accelerated way.”

That quote comes from the preface of the book, Healthy, Sexy Happy by Nancy Deville.  I don’t often take up requests for book reviews yet the timing of this is a perfect fit for my current quest to be kinder to my body, along with a few other bloggers who are doing the same.

Nancy Deville presents twelve ways that we can redefine our healthy, sexiness and happiness, reminding us along the way that they are intertwined.  If we get educated about weight and aging and stop eating only factory-produced foods we will be well on our way to living a better future.

The book provides a wealth of information about the toxins in our foods and what they could be doing to our bodies.  She presents ideals for a healthy diet and foods that feed our bodies and our brains.  She goes into thorough detail about addictions (such as caffeine) and ways that we should be supplementing our diets.  She discusses symptoms, causes and side effects of some of the damage we could currently be doing to our bodies.  This is a book to keep on the shelf and use for reference as it is filled with eight appendixes of helpful data.

Healthy, Sexy, Happy presents a very thorough look at ways in which we can help our bodies, a few of which may be considered extreme.  Yet the author makes it clear that while she may be fanatical about certain facets of her health, there are some items which she just does not want to give up.  “The point isn’t to join a monastery, but to eat and live in such a way that you keep your toxic load as light as possible while providing rich nutrition to your brain and body…”

Now that does not sound unreasonable.

So, what am I going to do differently on my quest to be kinder to my body after reading Healthy, Sexy, Happy?  Luckily I was moving in the right direction prior to reading the book.  I am definitely going to purchase coconut milk and white tea, both of which I enjoy but do not currently consume on a regular basis.  I am also going to attempt to widen the variety in my diet instead of going back to the same few items.

This book will also be used as a reference when it comes to food selections for my children.  Sometimes it is easier to avoid the resistance to a home cooked meal for the ease of a chicken nugget.  This serves as another reminder of the damage we could be doing by choosing the path of least resistance too often.

Are you going to be kinder to your body?

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Healthy, Sexy, Happy, you may follow this affiliate link to Healthy, Sexy, Happy on Amazon.

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A copy of Healthy, Sexy, Happy was given to me for review by the publishing company through Business2Blogger.  All opinions are my own.  See the Disclosure policy on this site with any questions or send an email to Jessica@FoundtheMarbles.com.  As noted above, this post contains affiliate links.

5 Apps That Keep You and Your Family Safe

Who does not want to keep their family safe?  Check out these five great apps for keeping your family safe.  Let me start by saying that this is not a sponsored post – just my good deed for the day.  If you love living recklessly please feel free to ignore the rest of this post.

Silent Bodyguard has a free app available for download that will alert your emergency contacts in the event that you are in trouble.  Once you download it to your device you can provide emergency contact information via email, text or even Facebook and Twitter.  In an emergency Silent Bodyguard will send a silent SOS message to your contacts with your GPS location without alerting onlookers or an attacker.  The sender’s location is updated every 60 seconds until the alarm is deactivated (as long as there is cell and/or WIFI coverage).  www.SilentBodyGuard.com

SafetyNet has a similar premise to Silent Bodyguard automatically alerting everyone in your safety net of an emergency.  SafetyNet can be automatically activated by shaking the phone in the case of an emergency providing your location to your contacts.  www.SafetyNetMobile.com

iTriage uses your device’s GPS to find nearby pharmacies, hospitals or treatment centers with turn-by-turn directions, providing peace of mind in an emergency.  This is especially helpful when you are out of town.  iTriage also has descriptions of conditions, treatments, medical tests and even detailed reports from HealthGrades on hospitals and physicians.  www.iTriageHealth.com

Life360 allows you to locate family members who are part of your private family channel.  Once family members provide their permission, you will be able to pinpoint their immediate location.  For loved ones who may not have a phone, Life360 offers a simple GPS device for purchase so you can add those family members to your channel.  This is terrific not only for keeping young children safe but for elder care as well.  You can even put a device on your pet!  www.life360.com

DriveSafe.ly is a great solution for those who can’t put down their blackberry or smartphones in the car.  This app reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone.  DriveSafe.ly allows you to stay connected on long car rides while eliminating the distractions of texting and reading emails while driving.  www.drivesafe.ly/

Stay safe!

10 Reasons to Love the Please Touch Museum – @PleaseTouch

On Tuesday I took my son to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, where we met up with Tara Ziegmont of Feels Like Home Blog and her adorable girls.  In all honesty, this has to be one of my favorite places I have ever taken either of my children.

Simply put, the Please Touch Museum gets it.  They really do.  If you have never been, here are ten reasons why you should put it on your list of places to take your kids.

1. The building is absolutely beautiful.  Memorial Hall is the only remaining major structure from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition.  It is the first home of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the 1876 World’s Fair.

2. It is clean.  Well, let’s say it is as clean as a children’s museum can get.  Seriously.  You know when you take your kids to those other places where you can practically see the germs?  The Please Touch Museum is not one of those places.

3. It is spacious.  There were a couple of school groups at the museum when we were there and yet it still did not feel overly crowded.  With 38,000 square feet of space, there is plenty of room for everyone.  There is also plenty of seating around Memorial Hall.  You don’t have to linger over someone’s table until they get annoyed enough to leave so you can grab their seats.

4. They serve lots of healthy food at the cafe.  There are even plenty of Gluten free options and they don’t serve nuts.  For food allergy parents like me, that is a huge plus.

5. If you don’t want to buy food, you can bring your own.  You don’t have to smuggle snacks in your purse and you are not frowned upon for showing up with a packed lunch.

6.  They understand what makes kids tick.  My son went food shopping, baked bread, built a house, grew potatoes and rode a motorcycle.  He spent forty minutes straight in the construction zone.  Tara’s four year old daughter had a lovely tea party in Alice’s wonderland and thoroughly enjoyed the puppet show.  They both could have stayed at the River Adventures water table all day long if we had let them.

7. The staff is extremely courteous to guests.  They don’t grunt at you.  They don’t ignore you.  They smile at you, chat with you and are genuinely enjoying themselves.

8. They do a great deal for kids and for charity.  The museum has an Autism Access Program which provides families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders with tools to make the museum even more enjoyable.  They also have events throughout the year for non-profit organizations.

9. The kids have an absolute blast!  I bet you thought this would be #10, didn’t you?  Well, I saved the best for last.

10. You will leave with your sanity intact.  Because of reasons #1-#9, I would go back to the Please Touch Museum over and over again.

The museum had hosted a blogger event a couple of weeks prior that we could not attend, so they offered us tickets for another day.  They did not tell us that we had to blog about the museum, or even ask us to do so.  In fact, they did not ask for as much as a mention or a tweet – and that is partly why I did write this post.  I also wrote this post because I genuinely love the museum and so does my son.  As I said earlier, the Please Touch Museum gets it.

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As stated above, the Please Touch Museum at Memorial Hall in Philadelphia treated my son and me to a day at the museum without any obligation of writing a post on behalf of the museum.  Please see the Disclosure policy on this site with any questions. If you know someone who has Found the Marbles, send an email to Jessica@FoundtheMarbles.com.

Five Reasons to Love @VerizonFiOS

When we first moved to our home, we continued the contract with the cable provider that the previous owner had used.  However, within a few months we found that our Internet went down constantly and it drove us crazy.  With both my husband and I working from home we couldn’t have that continue so we switched to Verizon FiOS.

Now we have reliable Internet service. We can get our work done, check our social media accounts and our kids can use their laptop to watch Annoying Orange on YouTube.

Where we live there are some vicious wind and rain storms throughout the year. (This city girl was unprepared for the intense storms we get here in the suburbs.) You would think that our cable system would be down often given the amount of wind we have here.  Luckily, FiOS is more weather resistant and more durable than the copper phone lines or coaxial cable.  The advanced fiber optic technology lets you watch HDTV with fewer interruptions and weather interference.

Quite frankly, this family couldn’t survive without our DVR.  Due to our kids’ crazy schedule of activities, we rely on the DVR quite a bit.  Unfortunately, despite having a bazillion hours of DVR space available, between Big Time Rush, Supah Ninjas and Power Rangers Samurai there’s not much room left for grown up shows!

Verizon FiOS also has some awesome TV widgets like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Plus, with FiOS we are “future-proofed” for all upcoming Internet tools and apps.  I like to tweet on Tuesdays about The Biggest Loser while I’m watching it and I can chat with my regular tweeps right on the TV.

I haven’t told my kids that they can watch YouTube from the TV yet.  I think we will wait until they are out of the Annoying Orange phase before I fill them in on that neat feature.  That talking orange really is just way too annoying to watch repeatedly on a big screen.

I haven’t used Flex View yet, but it is really cool too.  With Flex View you can buy, rent or watch on-demand videos on your FiOS TV, your pc or on your mobile phone.  So if you got a movie to watch on-demand but weren’t able to finish it, you can watch the rest on your phone while waiting in the car pool line. That is pretty awesome, right?

Who knew that a cable/internet provider would make my life as a mom so much easier!  Now, if only FiOS could remind my son to do his homework…

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I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Verizon FiOS sponsored blogging program.  Any views, opinions or experiences expressed are my own.  Photo credit: Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.netPlease see the Disclosure policy on this site with any questions.

The Jhpiego Organization: Handmade Jewelry Made in Nairobi

Last week I told you about 31 Bits – jewelry made by the women of Uganda.  This week we have another fabulous item to tell you about which also generates income for women in Africa and their families.

You probably know of fashion designer Liz Lange from her fabulous line of maternity wear and from her new venture with her sister Jane Wagman, Shopafrolic.com.  This week they highlighted a terrific fashion accessory for summer—this twisted, beaded necklace hand-made by mothers in Nairobi.

By donating $35 to the Jhpiego Organization you will receive a set of two beautiful, handmade necklaces (one blue, one white) as a ‘thank you’ gift for your donation.  Liz Lange is personally involved with Jhpiego, which works throughout the world to help save and enhance the lives of women and their families.  The women from Nairobi make this beaded jewelry as a source of income while Jhpiego makes it possible for the jewelry to reach a global marketplace.

To make a donation to the Jhpiego Organization and to receive this beautiful, unique jewelry, go to: http://www.jhpiego.org/donate.  Not only will you be fashionable this summer but your donation will make a difference in the lives of women around the world.

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Look who Found the Marbles did not receive any compensation for this post, monetary or otherwise.  Please see the Disclosure policy on this site with any questions. If you know someone who has Found the Marbles, send an email to Jessica@FoundtheMarbles.com.



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