Hot Mama Family Heirloom Jewelry Giveaway!

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Love posts like these! First off, I get to introduce you to a BEAUTIFUL new line of family heirloom jewelry by Hot Mama Designs called the “nest necklace,” then I get to tell you I have two $50 gift cards to give away to Hot Mama Designs and lastly I have a special Hot Mama Coupon Code to offer you for 20% off your enter order using code TINY2011!  Doesn’t get much better than that!  Enter to win below!

First off, I am in LOVE with these darling little new nest necklaces. I love the concept behind them.  But then I loved it even more when I read what the designer said about her inspiration behind the design. Here is what she wrote on their blog:

“…it is this level of attention to detail that I love in nests. The urge in nature that is so similar to our own. The weaving of a small layer of fuzz along with twigs that creates a protective layer.
The intricacy of it.
The sheer drive that it takes to build them.
And how long it can last once you’ve put the hard work in.
There are so many amazing analogies for families and relationships in the design of a nest…”

Such beautiful symbolism.

Remember these when you are looking for a fabulous gift to give the hot mamas in your lives this holiday!

The Hot Mama Discount Code of 20% off using code TINY2011 is good not only for a limited time. It is a standing code that Tiny Oranges readers can use anytime throughout 2010-2011 for anything in the entire Hot Mama Jewelry line. Remember to use this discount code when your best girlfriend has a baby, your hard to buy for mother-in-law needs a gift, or you want to honor your sweet husband with an heirloom memento.

Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

Two lucky winners will each receive one gift card of $50 to spend towards an heirloom piece on Hot Mama Designs! Please leave a separate comment for each entry & leave your email address (won’t be published) so I can contact you if you are the winner! Contest runs through Wednesday, 11/3/10 at 5pm PST.

Entry options!

1. Comment and tell me: Click here and tell me which piece is your favorite?  – 1 ENTRY

2. Join the Hot Mama Jewelry email list – 1 ENTRY

3. Follow @hotmamajewelry on Twitter – 1 ENTRY

4. Like Tiny Oranges on Facebook – 1 ENTRY

5. Follow @TinyOrangesOC on Twitter – 1 ENTRY

GOOD LUCK!
Have a great weekend & fun & safe Halloween!

{Disclosure: Hot Mama Designs is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor}

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Pediatric Cancer – A Survivor’s Story

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I used to be a wedding planner in my past life. Although crazy and stressful at times, the thing I loved most about my job was the close relationship I formed with my clients over the course of the year (and sometimes more!) that we worked together.

And now thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected and stayed in touch with a lot of my brides.  One such very special former bride of mine, Kristin, is now a married mom  and recently contacted me about writing to raise awareness about a very important topic: pediatric cancer.

The year we worked together we were immersed in the world of linen colors and menu choices, so I had NO idea she went through something like this as a child.

Since most all of you reading this blog right now are moms yourself, I think I am safe to say that most all of us simply cannot IMAGINE if it were our child that was affected.   Beyond even my comprehension.

Kristin wanted to share her story to shed light on pediatric cancer because it is the number one disease killer of children. More children die from cancer than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis and diabetes COMBINED.   Did you have ANY idea?

But there is something you can do to help! Keep reading…but first, here is…

Kristin’s Story

“Do you remember much before the age of five? They say your earliest childhood memories aren’t formed before three but even then the memories tend to be traumatic, i.e. being lost in a store, breaking a limb, hospitalizations, etc. My earliest memories start at three when I was diagnosed with cancer.  I remember quite a bit about my journey.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system and is the most common cancer among infants.  The tumor begins in the nerve tissues in the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, or, most commonly, in the adrenal gland.  My tumor was in my neck.

The early symptoms are the same ones found with many other childhood illnesses making diagnosis often difficult and long.  Fatigue, swollen glands, crankiness and loss of appetite are the most common early symptoms so it’s easy to see how and why these are chalked up to the common cold, growing pains, etc.  Because of this quite often by the time of diagnosis the disease has spread making it more of a challenge to fight. As with all cancer early detection is key.

Nothing is more powerful than parental intuition. It is that little voice that tells you your child is about to wake up, the spring in your step to catch your toddler right before they stumble, the nagging feeling that tells you something just isn’t right.

It started with a runny nose and crankiness so my parents took me to my pediatrician who told my mom a bad cold was going around and to give me over the counter cold medications.  When I didn’t get better and my normal friendly, happy personality changed my mom took me to her family doctor.  He was a new physician, just out of residency.  He gave me a full physical something my pediatrician did not do.  When he felt my neck he found the tumor.  I ended up seeing an ENT who did a biopsy and then several surgeries until the mass was gone.  I was fortunate and the cancer was found at Stage 2, which meant going through extensive radiation but no chemotherapy.

I remember going to CHLA weekly, staying for days at a time and sleeping in my crib that looked more like a cage. Vividly I can still smell the anesthesia and see the mask coming towards my face and feel the nurses holding me down.  Clearly I see the needle from the bone marrow biopsy and my dad holding my hands and crying while I screamed. I remember being wheeled down the hallway to the operating room and holding on to my parents not wanting to let go.  I recall being measured for the foam blocks used during radiation and the smell of the sterile room and feeling claustrophobic when the machine moved closer and closer.

Though those memories are traumatic I also have very happy memories of this time in my life. Every visit we would stop at the vending machine and get Welch’s grape juice in a glass bottle.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I loved the art therapy and would tape my masterpieces to my hospital room walls.  I made many friends during my longer stays, fellow patients, their parents, nurses and the doctors.  I remember never feeling alone and in reality never being alone.  One of my parents was always with me and in addition there were family members and friends visiting all the time.  Often they brought balloons and teddy bears, knowing just the way to a three year olds heart!  I was one of the lucky ones who got to leave CHLA a happy, healthy, cancer free toddler.

I am now a healthy 33 year old wife and mom to a wonderfully energetic toddler of my own.

I share this because of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.6 billion budget less than 3% goes to pediatric cancers; that’s for all pediatric cancers, all lumped together.  I share because 1 out of every 5 children diagnosed with cancer dies and in this day and age and in this country that is shameful and unacceptable.  I share because September was Pediatric Cancer Awareness month and you probably didn’t even know that.

I share because there is something you can do to help!

A group of pediatric cancer awareness advocates have started a Facebook campaign asking Oprah to do a show on the dreadful disease.  The page has over 40,000 followers.  Between the Facebook and Twitter campaigns there has been some media coverage and many celebrities joining our cause.  Please go to “like” the page (<–CLICK) and then suggest it to your friends. If you feel so inclined join the Twitter campaign as well.  Together our voices are louder than they are alone and as a survivor I thank you for your support. – Kristin Enrico”

Thank you Kristin for such a touching and personal post.  Such a story of courage and survival. I joined the Facebook campaign! Will you?

And while I was working on this post, I found out about a  race on May 1st, 2011, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation’s Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon * 10K Run * 5K Walk/Run * 1K Kid’s Fun Run.  Since I have been inspired to run another half marathon, I thought it might be fun to put together a Tiny Oranges team! But I would need 10 people!   Would anyone out there be interested in participating in any of these events? What a GREAT cause.  More to come on this one just putting some feelers out there to see if I could get runners to fundraise for this cause?  XO Jen

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Food Allergies: Bye Bye Milk and Eggs

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As moms we are sort of prepared for curve balls. It seems like just when I get comfortable with our current situation before I know it something new is thrown our way!

Our most recent curve ball was thrown a couple weeks ago when it was confirmed Morgan (our 15 month old) is allergic to milk and eggs.   On the surface I thought, well, no biggie, until I realized just how MANY things have milk and/or eggs in them!!!

I know there are a TON of parents out there with kids with food allergies, so I would LOVE your tips & comments.

So the curve ball wasn’t completely from left field.  When Morgan was a baby she had bad colic and reflux.  Since  I was nursing exclusively I sort of thought she might have a food sensitivity to things in my breast milk. I started paying attention, and if I had cereal for breakfast, about 4 hours later she would be MISERABLE.

The lactation consultants at Milkalicious suggested I cut out all dairy, tree nuts & berries and it seemed to make a big difference.  My colicky baby turned the corner at month 4 and me,  nursing with a dairy-free diet, had about 6 – 7 great months, where she was overall a very happy baby. Payback for the first 4 months of hell for sure!

But I never knew FOR SURE if it was in fact a food thing, because a lot of babies grow out of colic around that time anyway.   But what I did know is I didn’t want to chance it, so I remained dairy-free until I stopped nursing.

Then, around 10 – 12 months her irritability kicked in again. I blamed it on teething, separation anxiety, hurdling so many milestones like walking, etc.  But now that we know it’s a food allergy, it makes TOTAL sense as this was the age we started her on more and more solid foods and I weaned from nursing.

A little after her first birthday, I tried giving her a sippy cup with whole organic milk to try.   She took a sip, then immediately spit it out. Then watching what happened I thought “uh oh” she might have a milk allergy. EVERY spot where the milk touched her body turned into white welts and a red rash.

So of course I didn’t give her any more milk and at her 12 month doctor appointment I showed a picture to my doctor that I took with my iPhone and she referred us to a pediatric allergist to find out if there were other things she was allergic too.

It was weird, as we had been giving her cheeses, and different things with milk in them and on the surface it seemed like she was OK with them.

So at the allergist they did a skin test on her back to test for 16 different things.  It was awful when they had to prick her back, but it only lasted a second.  We held her and waited for the results. The milk and egg test spot swelled up almost immediately.

On a scale of 0 – 5, she was +4 for both milk and eggs, which is a pretty strong allergy. The milk I knew, but the egg one was a surprise.  I just thought, “thank God we took her to get tested.”  I wouldn’t have known for sure, except for the obvious whole milk, but we were told to avoid ALL things with milk or eggs in them.

We were sent home with hand outs, including lists of words that could mean “milk or egg” and it was apparent we were going to have to become major label readers.

It’s a bummer.

It didn’t FULLY hit me until we were at a party recently and I didn’t have lots of her own food packed.  She started doing the point and “num num” sound wanting food and there was really nothing there she could have. No Goldfish, no Pirate’s Booty and certainly no birthday cupcakes. And I got a little sad, I have to admit.

But it’s all a learning process and from now on I realize I have to pack a bag of her own special snacks to bring to parties and anywhere I go.

And, lucky for me, my friend Melanie is the owner of Sensitive Sweets, a bakery specializing in cakes and cupcakes for for those with food allergies.  Melanie has been a wealth of information as her son has severe food allergies.  I am going to have her whip me up a yummy batch of milk-free and egg-free cupcakes so I can freeze them to take to parties from here on out.

And eating out hasn’t been an issue that much yet, but this seems like it is going to be a real challenge.  Guess we will cross that bridge when we have to.

The Good News.

My family eats pretty healthy overall, but there were snacks in our cupboards that I have been giving to Emma that I thought were semi-okay.  Then I started reading labels and it SHOCKED me just how many things have High Fructose Corn Syrup in them!

I don’t know much about this, but I know it seems pretty bad for you.  Even things like graham crackers, salad dressing & ketchup have it in them.  Shocked.  I told my husband we are purging our kitchen with anything with HFCS in them. So this allergy will end up helping ALL of our family by eating “cleaner” and a little more pure.

And, thanks to stores like Trader Joe’s, Mother’s Market and Whole Foods, there are a TON of options out there that are alternatives to the traditional dairy.  Again, a whole new world, and I end up shopping better for the entire family.  Did you know you can buy rice milk or yogurt?

After 2 weeks of clearing her diet, her skin cleared up (she had a chronic mild rash on her cheeks & trunk) and she has been in a MUCH better mood.    So, it is working, which is the most important thing.  I just wish I had figured it out sooner.

So moms! If anyone out there has dealt with food allergies and has any tips/advice/suggestions I would love to hear your story.  I am just starting this journey and would love to learn from those that have paved the way before me!

XOXO
Jen

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The Nutcracker Ticket Discount

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The Los Angeles Ballet is back to thrill their Southern California audiences during the holidays and kick off their fifth season with the Neary-Christensen choreographed production of The Nutcracker, the city’s most enduring holiday tradition!  And I have been given a special Nutcracker coupon code to share with you for 25% off the regular ticket price.

But you have to hurry and get your tickets, as the discount is only good through tomorrow, 10/27/10.

All you have to do is mention the discount code (N25) when you purchase tickets over the phone or online and you will receive a 25% discount from the original ticket price.

Click HERE for dates, showtimes & locations.

I have never seen The Nutcracker ballet. Have you?

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Wendy’s New Pick 2 Menu & Giveaway!

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Warning:  This post might make you hungry.

Last week I was invited to be a part of a blogger event at Wendy’s to sample their tasty new Pick 2 Menu. And Wendy’s was kind enough to give me a gift card to give away to one of my readers so you can take your family to lunch too. Read below on how to enter to win.

What intrigued me about this menu is that the concept starts with a half portion salad.  I love the idea of a HALF portion salad, especially if you are watching your health and calories.

Here is how the Pick 2 Menu works…

First you pick your choice of one of their fresh, half portion salads.  The choices are: Apple Pecan Chicken, BLT Cobb, Spicy Chicken Caesar or the Baja.

Then you pick your second of the Pick 2 options: a yummy baked potato, tasty chili, Wendy’s famous small frosty (some admitted on Twitter to dipping fries in their frosty!), bottled water, a jr. bacon cheeseburger or a chicken wrap.

I selected the Baja salad..

…because I LOVE a Mexican inspired salad.  It came with jalapeno ranch dressing on the side, but with the guacamole included, I didn’t even use (or need) the dressing and I liked that the spicy tortilla chips came separately.  You can toss these on top for some good crunch.  For a fast food salad, I was really impressed!

I also love that you can download the easy-to-read nutrition facts HERE.  The half Baja salad is 280 calories.  I didn’t use the dressing (add 100 cals) but I did put the chips on top (+80 cals), so 360 calories for a filling fast food salad with 17g of protein I think is pretty good.

Then since it was a rainy day, I chose the Rich & Meaty Chili as my second pick.  SOOOOO good!   I sort of wished I had also ordered fries to dip too.  But that would be pushing the calorie count up for sure!

We were able to “Pick 2” friends to go with us, so my wonderful photographer friend, Kristin Eldridge joined me.  Here she is placing her order…

She opted for the Apple Pecan Chicken and although I loved my Baja, when I go back I will definitely be choosing that one.  But I will probably hold the bleu cheese, as I am not a huge bleu cheese lover.  She said the salad was really good!  Isn’t this a beautiful picture of this salad?   Kristin can work her magic on any subject!

There are 28 combos available in the Wendy’s Pick 2 menu all for $4.99. Of the 28 combos, 18 are 600 calories or less. The half portion salads are also available as stand alone menu items for $3.99.  The combos strive to be a healthy balance of fruits, veggies, nuts, dairy and protein.

The Apple Pecan Chicken half salad has 180 calories, add the roasted pecans on top (+ 100 cals) and the Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing (+60 cals).  So all in, a salad with 340 calories.  Not bad!

And, as a mommy with a newly diagnosed child with a milk and eggs allergy, I also love that the nutrition chart makes it easy to find things without dairy.

Overall, I thought the options were really great, and if I am needing to do fast food, I will definitely consider going through Wendy’s to pick up an Apple Pecan Chicken Half Salad and Bottled Water.   Healthy food on the go – now that’s refreshing!

Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive 2 gift cards of $7 each ($14 total to take your family) to enjoy a meal at Wendy’s! Contest runs through 10/31/10 at 5pm PST.  I will post the winner next week on my Facebook page.    To enter, please leave a separate comment for each entry.  And, please leave your email address in the comment (won’t be published) so I can contact you if you are the winner!

1. Simply leave a comment and tell me: which combo would you choose? – 1 ENTRY

2. Like Tiny Oranges on Facebook – 1 ENTRY

3. Follow @TinyOrangesOC on Twitter – 1 ENTRY

4. Subscribe to my feed or email updates – 1 ENTRY

5. Tweet about this giveaway & link to this post with hashtag #WendysPick2 – 1 ENTRY

6. Comment, post or respond in my Forum – 1 ENTRY

GOOD LUCK!

Special thanks to Kristin Eldridge for taking most of the great pictures in this post.   Click HERE to visit her site and see more of her beautiful work.

Wendy’s Pick 2 Bloggers…

Sitting left to right: Nine More Months, Daytripping Mom, Me
Standing left to right: Rockin Mama, Traded My BMW for a Minivan, OC Mom Activities, Thoughts of a Mommy

{Disclosure: This event was sponsored by Wendy’s and The Motherhood and I was compensated for my participation in this campaign and received complimentary lunch at the event.}

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