Somebody Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming…

Last week, on October 24, 2012, I was contacted via email by Ana Flores, founder of Latina Bloggers Connect. She invited me to a Twitter chat that was going to take place later that day. The topic of the twitter chat was World Polio Day, (#WPDchat) and it was going to being hosted by Shot@Life. I was introduced to the Shot@Life folks when I attended my first blogger’s conference, (Blogalicious ’12) back in September. Shot@Life is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. 

Did you know vaccines make life possible. Without vaccines; children are vulnerable to deadly and disabling diseases like measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio-to name a few. Unfortunately, around the world, one in five children still lack access to the life-saving immunizations that help keep children in the U.S. healthy. One child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine. By expanding access to vaccines, we can prevent 1.5 million child deaths each year.

For just one $50 donation to Shot@Life, 50 kids can be immunized. FIFTY! Can you imagine saving the lives of 50 children for just $50…$1 per child?! 

I quickly emailed Ana Flores back, and told her I would love to attend the twitter chat. I shared with her how one of my uncles contracted Polio as a baby and the hardships he has had to endure as a result. She suggested I write a post about it, so I did. You can read my post here. After I finished writing the post, I emailed a copy to Ana.

When it came time for the online chat, I was eager to learn more about World Polio Day and what Shot@Life was doing to help eradicate Polio from the face of the earth. I heard many inspiring stories and learned that we are very near to wiping out Polio forever. Ana Flores, shared my post about my uncle, with the folks at Shot@Life. The twitter chat was very informative and I was glad I attended.

After the chat was over, I received an unexpected email from Ana. She told me the Shot@Life folks wanted to contact me about becoming a Shot@Life Champion! What?! I was in shock, I was freaking out! {Freaking with a capitol F!} No way?! I was shaking, I was on the verge of tears…I was filled with so many emotions. I knew that as I sat in my home, a delegation of 12 women, Shot@Life Champions, were in Uganda. (One of them is a fellow Blogalicious attendee, LaShaun Martin!) They are there to see first hand what Shot@Life is doing & how they are helping to save lives. (Please see video posted below.)

After getting over the initial shock of Ana’s email, I waited…waited for Shot@Life to contact me. I will admit, I was very impatient. What if they change their mind? What if they forget about me…so many “what-ifs” ran through my mind. I reached out to Ana Flores, who was attending the LATISM ’12 conference in Houston, TX., and she got back to me (Gracias, Ana!) and reassured me that the Shot@Life people were very busy but not to worry, it was all good. And you know what? It was! The following day, I was contacted by Shot@Life, they thanked me for participating in the World Polio Day twitter chat and invited me to become a Shot@Life Champion! Me! Mommy Powers! As I read that email, tears began to flow. I was overcome with emotion. Helping people, especially women and children is so very important to me. The older I get, the more I realize I need to help others. I want to help others, I want to be there for others, in any way I can. 

I was also reminded of my Abuela, my Grandmother…whom I never got to meet. My Abuela Hortencia passed away when my mother was just 5 years old, of Tuberculosis. My Mom & my Tia (who was just 6 month’s old) were both raised by my Great-Grandmother. Tuberculosis stole my Abuela from me. I am doing this in memory of her. When I go for my Shot@Life Champion training in Washington, DC next year-I know my Abuela Hortencia will be right there with me! 

I have started an Indiegogo.com campaign to try to raise money for Shot@Life before I go for training. I would love to be able to present them with a check when I arrive in DC! Please visit my campaign here & donate if you can. Please share it also. Thanks! 

Shot@Life believes every child – no matter where they are born, has a right to life-saving immunizations, so they have a shot at life! I believe that too, and I am honored to be part of such an amazing organization. When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I had no idea I would be afforded an opportunity like this. I would like to thank Ana Flores, for inviting me to the World Polio Day chat last week, and for forwarding my blog post to Shot@Life. I know she played a major role in them contacting me. I am so thankful I took the time to attend that chat. You never know when you are going to be blessed, just for trying to help others.

I look forward to working with Shot@Life, and I will be sharing with you all along the way! 

Forget Ghosts & Goblins, I’m Scared of Creepy Crawlies!

Are you scared of bugs? I'm not really scared of most of them … but I do detest them. Especially when they make their way inside my home. I will chase down a fly all day if I have to. I cannot stand flies! If one should happen to slip past the front door- it's on! I will get a magazine, dish towel, whatever I can find to swat at it and try to direct it to the back door. Once I have it trapped in the door, I carefully open the screen door and tap on the glass until it flies off into the sunset. Those are the lucky ones! The unlucky ones end up smashed on the floor… it's not a pretty sight.

There is one pest that scares me, and rightfully so. Scorpions! I do not deal well with scorpions. Living out in the desert, we have had our fair share of scorpions wander into the house. I am terrified of them! I usually yell out for the hubby and he comes running to see what all the commotion is about. He has told me over & over how to trap & kill them, but I'm not going anywhere near a scorpion. When our son was little, a scorpion stung him at daycare. It was on the toy shelf and he thought it was a toy. He reached for it and it got him on the finger. When I arrived to pick him up from daycare, he was crying. I worked for a pediatrician at the time, so I knew what signs to look for to make sure my child was not in distress. I monitored his breathing when we got home & stayed up with him all night. He did not want to drink anything. He said if he tried to drink something, the drink felt like it had "little pieces of glass" in it. He was very scared and needed constant reassurance that he was going to be all right. I felt so helpless- there was nothing I could do for him but try to make him comfy. Scorpion stings contain venom (a neurotoxin) and I just had to wait until the venom worked its way out of his system. The following morning, he was fine. If his lips or tongue would have started to swell, I would have sought immediate medical attention for him. Many people are allergic to scorpion stings and breathing becomes very difficult for them.

Our son was also stung by a scorpion in our home. Besides the pain it caused him- I was furious that the culprit got away. I searched for that scorpion for hours, but just could not find it. Try going to sleep at night when you know there is a scorpion loose in the house! Not an easy thing to do.

Scorpions don't just sting humans, oh no, they sting your pets too! Our cat was stung by a scorpion in our house. I was sitting on the sofa, the cat was next to me. What I did not know was that there was a scorpion on the carpet, right near the sofa. Our cat saw it and tried to get it. Big mistake! Our poor feline was stung by the scorpion and I was not sure if he was going to survive or not. After we took care of the scorpion- (think smashed to bits), I turned my attention to my sweet, furry friend. My cat had retreated underneath the table, where he spent the rest of the night. He was drooling and pretty much out of it. He would not come out from under the table. I phoned a vet and was told to just monitor him, as it was very late at night and they did not offer after-hours treatment.  After watching him for a few hours, he seemed to be getting better; he was no longer drooling. I went to bed that night not knowing if my sweet cat was going to be alive when I woke up in the morning – luckily he was a tough guy and he pulled through with flying colors.

We found out scorpions are very difficult to get rid of. They have a hard exoskeleton and most pesticides do not harm them. You need to remove their food source and hopefully they will leave the area to go find food someplace else. 

PestWorld.org is your go-to resource for everything you need to know about bugs, rodents and other household pests. You can identify your infestation, find helpful prevention tips, pest photography and videos, educational articles on a variety of pest topics, and more.

In the fall, pests often enter our homes seeking shelter from colder weather, so it’s important to take steps to pest-proof your home. Pest issues are better handled by licensed pest professionals. They have the knowledge, training and tools to properly identify a pest species and recommend ways to safely remedy an infestation before it becomes a serious problem.

You can find a pest professional in your area by entering your zip code in the Find a Pro database on PestWorld.org: http://www.pestworld.org/find-a-pest-control-professional/.


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the National Pest Management Association. The opinions and text are all mine.

Photo Credit-Thanks to my Blogalicious friend, Desiree Peeples, who had a scorpion invade her home this week! 

World Polio Day, October 24th

Today is World Polio Day, a day to bring awareness to how close we are to finally eradicating the world of this dreaded disease. Thanks to vaccines, there are only three countries left with Polio outbreaks, Nigeria, Afghanistan & Pakistan. As long as Polio still exists, it is a threat to kids everywhere.

Shot @Life is an organization that I just recently learned about. They were at the blogger's conference that I  attended (Blogalicious '12). Shot @Life believes every child deserves a shot at a healthy life, no matter what country they live in. They are asking for the public's help to vaccinate 40,000 children by donating $50 to vaccinate 50 kids each!

Polio is something I know a little about. My uncle contracted Polio when he was a baby. He grew up in the 50's, here in the U.S. Polio has affected his life tremendously. Growing up, I never really knew what was wrong with him. One of his legs was considerably shorter, and less developed than the other, he walks with a very noticeable limp. He was not able to participate in sports growing up, and was often ridiculed because of his disability. He has endured hospitalizations & surgeries. If only he would have had access to the polio vaccine- he would not have contracted polio. (My uncle contracted Polio before the vaccine was discovered.)

When I was old enough to understand, my parents told me my uncle had Polio. My uncle has lived with terrible pain his whole life. His affected leg is very weak. I knew from a very young age the importance of vaccines. Please make sure your children are vaccinated- and spread the word about Shot @Life, they are working hard to make the world safer for everyone! 

I’m 1 in 4 {Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day}

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. When I started this blog, I told you all that I was going to keep it real. I never knew how difficult that would be. There are things that I have been through that are hard for me to share with you, for various reasons. This is one of those topics. I have lost two babies, one very early in my pregnancy, a little over a year after I got married. And one at 16 wks gestation, back in 2005. They were both devastating losses, both children were very much wanted and loved. 

Miscarriage and pregnancy loss is like a dirty little secret…no one talks about it. Those of us that have been through it are trying to change that. I am not ashamed of losing my baby. I did nothing wrong  to cause the loss of my child. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage… 1 in 4! Many lose their babies very early on in the pregnancy, before they even realize they were pregnant. I'm going to share my story with you…

I will never forget the day. It was Sept. 22, 2005, a Thursday. I left work early to go to my 16 week check up. When I went in for my appointment, my OB asked me how everything had been going. I told her everything was fine. The only question I had for her was when would I start feeling the baby move, I hadn't felt anything yet. She told me I would probably start feeling "flutters" around week 19. She then asked me to lean back so she could try to hear the baby's heartbeat. I had heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time a few weeks earlier, at my 12 week check-up, and I was eager to hear it again. Nothing. She kept moving the stethoscope around, but could not locate the heartbeat. "It's probably those darn uterine fibroids of yours blocking the heartbeat," she said. "Let's go into the other exam room, we have a sonogram machine in there, let's see what this little peanut is up to!" I was so excited, I was not scheduled for a sonogram for another few weeks. I was going to get to see my baby a few weeks early!

We got into the other room and she got everything ready. She applied the gel to my abdomen and started the sonogram. Silence. She kept moving the wand around on my belly. Finally she spoke. "I'm going to get the other doctor in here and maybe he can see something that I'm not seeing. Honey, I don't see a heartbeat." Instant panic. "Ok," I quietly replied. She stepped out of the room & I looked at the sonogram screen. There was my baby… but no heartbeat was visible. I immediately started talking to the baby. "Move, show them you're ok." I started moving my belly around, trying to wake the baby up. I knew what I was seeing on the screen, but I refused to accept it. If I could just move my belly a little, then the baby's heart would start beating again and everything would be all right. "Please God, please- this can't be happening!" 

The other doctor came in, he quickly introduced himself and starting doing the sonogram. "Hmmm …  no, there's no heartbeat. I'm very sorry but there's no heartbeat." He said something to my ob and left the room. "I'm so sorry," I remember hearing my doctor tell me. "Do you want me to call someone for you?" "No, I'm all right. I can do it, I need to call my husband." Through tears, I dialed his phone number. "There's no heartbeat- they can't find a heartbeat." It must have been awful for him, receiving a call like that from me. "What are they gonna do?" he asked me. I told him they were trying to get a hold of the hospital and I would meet him at home. We needed to pick up our son from school. I told my husband to get him, I just wanted to get home. 

My doc told me they would call around for me. I would either have to have a D&C or deliver the baby. She said the D&C would be easier on my body. I really did not even know what a D&C was at that time… I told her my husband & I would decide and let her know our decision. She said if I went forward with the D&C, we would not be able to see the baby afterwards. She said someone from her office would call me in the morning. I left her office in shock, tears streaming down my face. That's also how I made the drive home, tears streaming down my face.

When my husband and son got home, we all sat down and I told our son that the sibling he had been waiting over a decade for, was gone. He tried to put on a brave face, but I could tell he was crushed- like the rest of us were. I called my BFF and told her I would not be in to work in the morning and asked her to pass along the message. That night was awful, to say the least. I called my parents and my brother and told them the news. I spent the rest of the night weeping silently, not wanting to upset my son.

Friday morning came and went without a call from my doc. I finally broke down and called them some time after noon. They said they would get right back to me. A few hours later they called and said they were trying to get me scheduled for a D&C, they were talking to "the place" and it would cost around $900. I was listening and thinking what kind of "place" are they talking about, why aren't they saying hospital? I quickly put two & two together and realized they were trying to schedule me at an abortion clinic! That's the last place I wanted to be. I hung up the phone and prayed. A couple of hours later, they called back saying the "place" refused to get me in because I was too far along and they might rupture my uterus. "We're going to call the hospital and see when they can get you scheduled to be induced. We will call you back tomorrow." Tomorrow? You mean I have to go through another night here at home, with my dead baby inside me?! I could not believe I was going to have to endure another night like the one I had experienced before. It was cruel and so unfair. 

Saturday I received a call from my OB's office. "The hospital can squeeze you in Sunday morning." Sunday morning?! I found out my baby died on Thursday and the hospital would not be able to squeeze me in until Sunday morning? I was told they were booked solid with other moms that were going to have C-sections or be induced. It was then that I realized I was on the bottom of the totem pole. My baby was already dead, there wasn't much else that could go wrong for me. The babies that were still alive and ready to be born were the hospital's main priority. "Sunday morning at 6:30am, ok, I'll be there."

Without warning, there was a knock on our front door. It was my brother- he had driven across three states to be with me. He told me he didn't want us worrying about our son, so he told his boss that his sister needed him, got in his truck and drove 18 hours non-stop. I have the best brother in the world, and would do anything for him. Knowing he was there for us meant everything to me. Sunday morning came, hubby drove me to the hospital. We went through registration and settled down in our room.

One of the nurses came in to start my IV. She asked me all these questions beforehand, one of them was if I wore glasses. I told her I did not. She looked at me and smiled, "You're so lucky!" Yeah, that's me… funny I don't feel very lucky right now. Lucky? Was she serious? I know she didn't mean anything by it- but I really wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. Lucky? Yeah, right. After several attempts to start my IV, (apparently I have bad veins, another sign of how lucky I am) and after "blowing" one of my veins on my left hand, my IV was started. The nurses did not check on me very often. I was mostly just left in the room by myself, hubby was there with me, of course. I started thinking that they were probably at the nurses station flipping a coin to see who would have to check on me next. I don't imagine they like having patients like me, patients whose baby's did not make it, patients waiting to give "birth" to their dead babies. Every so often they would come in, hook up another IV bag and then be on their way. Pitocin was not working for me. We had told the doctor on duty that Pitocin did not work for me when I had my son, but they did not listen. They came in to the room at about 2am, ready to try something else. My husband was mad- asking them why they hadn't taken what we had said into consideration. "Look at her, you're just prolonging this for her! We just want to get this done with and go home!" They said they were going to try a pill, called Misoprostol. I took it and waited.

Monday morning, around 10am, it felt like I had to use the bathroom. Hubby was on the phone. I went into the bathroom… nothing. I came back out and got back into bed. A few minutes later, I again felt the urge to use the bathroom. I got up and went in. I sat down on the toilet, and then I felt it. I could feel my baby moving down the birth canal. Before I could say anything, it was done. They had one of those urine measuring devices on the toilet- my baby was in that. I stood up and was making my way out of the bathroom, when the doctor came in the room. I opened the door to the bathroom and told my husband I had just delivered the baby. The doctor heard and came rushing towards the bathroom. "Did it hurt? Were your contractions bad?" he asked. "No, I didn't have any," I replied. "You're lucky!' he responded. I could not believe what I was hearing yet again. Yeah, doc- I'm the lucky one… now go fish my dead baby out of that urine cup! Jerk!

The nurses got me cleaned up and I started yet another IV. The nurse brought me some food. No one mentioned my baby. When the nurse came back to get my tray, I asked her when could we see the baby. "Oh, are you ready? Sure, I will bring the baby right in for you. Just understand that the baby may not look like you might expect it to. The head is no longer round, it's flattened out…" I told her I understood.

My husband remarked that he forgot to bring the camera. The nurse quickly returned with the baby. Our baby weighed 8 oz and was just 5 inches long. We could not tell if it was a boy or girl, although I saw the umbilical cord and thought it was something else! In my mind, I knew it was a boy, boys run in my husband's family, everyone has boys. I remember the nose, it was a perfect little button nose… and the lips, perfectly formed. I believe my baby had passed away at least a couple of weeks before- due to the condition of the body. Keep in mind, neither my husband nor I were "grossed" out or squeamish about seeing our baby. That was OUR baby- there was nothing offensive about it. I remember looking at the feet, the toes on one foot had started to whither away. Even then, looking at my baby, I was still telling it to breathe. I knew in my mind that was not possible, but my heart… I just wanted to see my baby take a huge gasp of air…it would've been a miracle! But it did not happen. 

The nurse told us that a photographer would take pictures of our baby and they would be available to us later. She asked us if we were going to have funeral services for the baby or if we wanted the hospital to take care of it. She explained that the hospital took care of babies under 20 weeks gestation… they would give the body to a funeral home and they would cremate the baby and spread the ashes around at a nearby mountain. I was still in shock, I believe, and I could not picture having funeral services for our baby. I remember asking my husband, "Where are they going to find a coffin that small?" We decided to let the hospital take care of it. (I often question that decision.)

Here are a couple of cropped photos of my baby… I did not want to post the full photos, as I did not want to upset anyone. The first one is the baby's arm wrapped around a little 5 inch teddy bear they gave us to bring home. The second photo is of the legs and feet. 

  

The nurse told me I could stay the night or go home if I wanted to. I wanted to go home. I just wanted to get out of there and go home to my son. I left the hospital about an hour after delivering my baby. When I left the hospital, they gave me a single white rose… the nurse said it was so I didn't have to leave the hospital empty-handed. 

While I was at the hospital, my BFF came to visit me. My job (I worked in a doctor's ofc) never called to see how I was doing, no card, no flowers. In fact, when I went back to work a few weeks later, I actually had to argue with my boss in order to get my 2 days of bereavement pay! One doctor came up to me and asked how I was doing- that was it. No one mentioned it- it was taboo. I was very pissed off at that. I had lost my baby! My baby died- and no one at work seemed to care. (I realize some of them probably did care, but just didn't know what to say.) We need to put a stop to that. Just because my baby is gone, does not mean I have forgotten her (I found out 2 years later, that my baby was a girl. I only found out because I went to pick up my records and found a lab slip from a genetic test that had been performed after the baby was delivered.) I think about my baby all the time, that will never change.

If someone you know has lost a baby, don't be afraid to say something. "I'm sorry for your loss," is a great way to start a conversation. If the parent of the baby wants to talk about it, they will. Send them a card- send them flowers, let them know you are there for them. Let them know you care. It will mean the world to them and might help them to heal quicker.

The weeks that followed the loss of my baby were the darkest I have ever experienced. I would literally cry out to God asking why. At the same time, I know I would not have made it through that time without God. I know that my baby is in Heaven, I know I will see her again. 

If you have lost a baby, my heart goes out to you. I've been where you are… if you need to talk to someone, I am here for you.

Don't let them say, I wasn't born, That something stopped my heart, I felt each tender squeeze you gave, I've loved you from the start.
Although my body you can't hold, It doesn't mean I'm gone.This world was worthy, not, of me, God chose that I move on.
I know the pain that drowns your soul, What you are forced to face.You have my word, I'll fill your arms, Someday we will embrace.
You'll hear th
at it was "meant to be, God doesn't make mistakes"

But that won't soften your worst blow..Or make your heart not ache.
I'm watching over all you do, another child you'll bear.
Believe me when I say to you,That I am always there.
There will come a time, I promise you, When you will hold my hand,
Stroke my face and kiss my lips, And then you'll understand.
Although, I've never breathed your air, Or gazed into your eyes..
That doesn't mean I never "was"
An Angel Never Dies


~Author Unknown

Every Girl Needs to Know She’s Beautiful! #DoveInspired

Does your daughter know you think she's beautiful? Do you tell her she's beautiful on a regular basis? Maybe you don't have a daughter, what about your niece or family friend? Every young girl needs to be told she's beautiful. It's our job as adults to make sure our young girls have high self- esteem. We need to constantly remind them that they are beautiful, that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. We need to build them up, so that the world won't tear them down. They need to know that they are beautiful, inside and out. 

Dove believes beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety. Girls are listening – women just need to start the conversation. A simple act, such as starting a conversation about beauty, can make a world of difference. Dove is committed to inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential. The Dove Movement for Self-Esteem opens up a world of opportunities for women to make a difference. You can find out more at  Vive Mejor Hablemos  ("Let's Talk" in Spanish) or Vive Mejors main site.

I remember being very confident when I was in elementary school. I was in all AP classes, I was a girl scout, proficient at tap and ballet, and I had a lot of friends. I was always one of the first ones to raise my hand when the teacher would ask a question. I made excellent grades. Life was good! Then I started middle school. All of a sudden, I started to have doubts about myself. So many of the other girls looked more mature than I did. Their bodies were beginning to develop, and I still looked like the tomboy I was. To top it off, I was extremely skinny. You know the skinniest kid in your school… yep, that was me! Kids would sometimes tease me and say mean things to me. During gym class, we had to change out of our clothes and put gym shorts on. I would wait until all the other girls changed, and then I would change my clothes in private. They were all wearing training bras and I wasn't. I asked my mom for a bra, and she obliged me, even though I really didn't need one. Most of the other girls were already wearing make-up, but I was not allowed to. Then there were the boys! Lots of girls had boyfriends. I was no where near ready to have a boyfriend! (Thinking back now, the other girls probably weren't ready either!) It probably didn't help that I was mixed, half mexican and half white…. there weren't many other kids in school like me! I do not remember my mom telling me I was beautiful. I mean, I know she loved me and thought I was beautiful, but I don't recall her ever saying it when I was in middle school. I think it would have made a difference. Maybe if I had heard, "You're beautiful," I would have remained as outgoing as I had been in elementary school. Instead, I became reserved and shy… something I struggle with to this very day. Tell the young girls in your life that they are beautiful, do it often. Tell them how smart they are- that they are loved. Too many of our young ladies don't know their worth. They don't know that they are stronger than they think they are. They don't know that they can accomplish big things. Tell them! Scream it from the rooftops! Every girl needs to know she's beautiful!!

According to Dove global research, anxiety about looks begins at an early age and holds girls back from reaching their full potential. 72% of girls ages 10-17 feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful. Only 11% of these girls feel comfortable using the word "beautiful" to describe themselves. More than 60% of girls ages 15-17 (globally), avoid activities such as attending school, going to the doctor and giving their opinions. This is not acceptable, it's heart-breaking. Every girl is beautiful – we need to do better as adults to make sure they know they are! 

Mothers are a girls number one role model- we, as mothers, can make a difference in the lives of our daughters. 

Dove is hosting their third annual Self- Esteem Weekend, Oct. 5-7, 2012. The theme this year is "Let's Talk". Events will be taking place nationwide. Talk to your daughter about beauty. What does beauty mean to her? That simple question can get the conversation started and open up the lines of communication. "Imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety." 

  

Go to ViveMejor.com to access free tools to motivate and inspire a girl in your life. Dove has reached over 9 million girls with self-esteem programming so far, and with your help they can reach their goal of 15 million by 2015! Visit Dove.com to learn more about their partners. 


This is a compensated post in collaboration with Dove and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions are my own and I believe every girl is beautiful! 

 

My New Guilty Pleasure: Reel Cash Critters!

Do your children play video games? I know many parents do not let their kids play them, for various reasons… I'm not one of those parents! I can remember being little and getting the Atari one year. We were so excited to get it hooked up to the TV, and we loved playing Pong! We thought we were so cool…lol. Video games have come a long way since the days of Pong. Most of them are very realistic- it's kinda scary!! While we do allow the kids to play video games, we also make sure to monitor the amount of time they spend playing them and the games they play. I'm not into letting children play games that are too violent or filled with bad language, no thank you.

Most of the games our little one plays are educational and I am 100% ok with that. Video games can be a very useful tool to help your little ones learn their ABC's, math, shapes… the list goes on & on. There is a plethora of great educational video games and apps out there- all you have to do is look for them. 

I do not play video games on a regular basis- though I will indulge in a little Angry Birds from time to time. And I have a sweet spot for casino type games, especially slot games! (Yes, I also love to play slots in real life, every chance I get!). I recently had the chance to review a website called Gamesville and their Reel Cash Critters game. I thought it was going to be a kids game, but to my surprise, it was a slots game!! Mommy Likes!

Reel Cash Critters is not your typical slots game. To play, you wager your GVs (Gamesville’s virtual currency that you win by playing games) and spin. (if you sign up right now, you will get 10,000 GC's added to your new acct! Sign up here: Gamesville) You can win cash prizes from $5-$10, I really like that! 

What makes the game unique are the mini games and critters – who doesn’t love cute woodland creatures?  Within the game, you can hit the “Spin-o-Matic” which is a dial that you spin and depending on the critter that you land on, you get an extra GV bonus. I hit the 5X critter on several occasions, and watched my score skyrocket! 

        

If you are a Gold member, you get another game on top of the Spin-o-Matic. “Reel Slots Shots” is a county fair-style shooting gallery where you can win GVs. Ducks, rabbits, and even the mascot, Poke pop up for your chance to hit. The more you get, the more GVs you win. 

Finally, the coolest part of this slots game is the team battle aspect. At the beginning of your game, you get put on either the Skunk Team or the Raccoon Team. When the team battle starts, you can choose to go to the room where the battle is happening or choose to skip it. After everyone is dispersed to their teams, you try to spin your machine as many times as possible to win the most GVs. You play with your team and the team with the highest total amount of GVs wins. There are 6 battles throughout the day, and 2 of them give out cash prizes. Since everyone is a winner at Gamesville, for the cash prize games, one member of the winning team and one member of the losing team are selected to win the cash prize. Get a prize for losing? Score!!!

RCC isn’t the only game that pays you money on Gamesville. Some of the jackpots for the various games can reach up to $10,000!  Plus, if you’re a Gold member, the Jackpot is doubled. If you play Reel Cash Critters, be sure to play other games like Frantic Fish or Super Chef to boost up your GVs. 

I really enjoyed playing this game, maybe a bit too much! It is a very addicting game… I just love spinning those wheels! lol  Reel Cash Critters is a great way to wind down after a long day and its so much fun to play!

You can follow Gamesville on FB and twitter. They have tons of games for you to try out. Now, if you don't mind… I'm gonna spin that ReelCash Critter wheel one more time! ;)


Do you allow your kids to play videos games? What are their favorite educational video games to play? 


This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. I received a Gamesville Gold Membership and compensation for my time investment and work on this campaign. 


Her Name was Martha… {Homeless in America}

I wrote this last year but never posted it here… I have been thinking a lot about the woman I met, her name was Martha… every time I see a homeless person, I think of her. Every time I pass by an area where she used to hang-out, I think of her. I know I will never forget her.

Hebrews 13:2
Remember to welcome strangers, because some who have done so have entertained angels without knowing it.

 

Lately, I have been thinking alot about a woman I met about a year ago. Her name was Martha, and she was a homeless lady. We moved here almost two years ago…husband's job transferred us. From the time we arrived at our new home, I started seeing this lady walking around town, usually pushing a shopping cart. She stood out from the other homeless people I had seen in the past. She looked so regal. She wore a red turban on her head, and had a thick, red, long-sleeved shirt  and a thick, red, floor length skirt on.

 I would see her most days I was out and about running errands. She definitely got around, some days she would be approx 5 miles from our home, other times she would be right around the corner. She tended to set up camp in one spot for a while, then would move on a little ways up the road. I do not know if this was because she had been asked to move on or not.

One day, my boys wanted McDonald's, so I told them I would stop off and get them some after I ran my errands. It just so happens I saw Martha as I was headed to McDonald's. That's when it hit me. I would order something for her also, and take it to her. I wanted to show my boys that everyone matters. We are all equal and no one person is better than another.  I bought her a meal and a drink and proceeded to drive to the park where I had last seen her.

My oldest asked me what we were doing, where were we going. I told him. He replied with, "What if she's crazy, what if she pulls a knife on you?!" I told him I would just have to take my chances and I did not think she was dangerous. You have to understand, I am a very shy person. I had NEVER done anything like this before, but I felt the Lord was telling me to do this.

I got out of the car, both my boys watching from inside. I approached her, she was sitting at a table in the park, eating an apple. I said hello and introduced myself to her, extending my hand to her, thinking she would shake it, she did not. She told me her name was Martha, and that she did not need my food because, "The Lord provides for me."

She went on to tell me a bit about herself, how she felt the Lord had told her to leave everything behind and trust Him to provide for her while she shared the Gospel with those she met. I could not tell her age, she was African-American, I could tell she was older, but I am not sure how old. Her skin was weathered. I do not know how long she had been out on the streets. She talked about how good the Lord is, and how most people are too busy to realize all the blessing that are around them, everywhere. She did most of the talking, I listened. At one point she told me she had been abused while out on the streets, but the story she relayed to me was so horrific and unbelieveable, that I do not know if it was factual or not. I could tell that she did have some mental issues, so that made it harder for me to believe her tale of terror. I do know she believed it with all her heart.

After about 20 minutes or so, I told her I had to get back to my boys in the car (they were 16 & 3 at the time). We said our goodbyes and I left her sitting there, eating her apple.

I thought about her often after that, everytime I left the house I would look for her and I would usually see her around town. Then in December, she moved her base camp about 6 miles away. I would pass it on the way to the post office. I noticed her sitting behind her shopping cart a few times, then I did not see her. I passed her shopping cart approx three times in December, and the last two times she was not near it. Then I passed it one day & it looked like someone had been going through her cart, there was trash and debris all around it. That was not the way Martha kept her area, her space was always very clean and neat. One day I passed by and the cover she always placed over her cart was gone, and everything was in disarray, Martha was nowhere to be seen. I was very worried.

The next time I passed by, her cart was gone. That was in early January. I never saw her again. I believe she has passed away. I wonder if she has been buried, or if she is in a morgue somewhere, waiting to be identified. Does anyone know she's gone? Does she have a family somewhere? Are they looking for her?

Then there are days that I can't help but think she was an angel, sent here to do a job. How cool would that be if she were an angel and I had talked to her? If she wasn't an angel then, I know she is now.

Her name was Martha, and she mattered. Her name was Martha, and she was someone's child. Her name was Martha, and I will never forget her.

Rest in peace, Martha.

 

~Mommy Powers


Blogalicious ’12 – You know what they say, you never forget your first time!

 

I'm back from Vegas and don't even know where to begin! First off, let me tell you a little about  Blogalicious '12. " The annual Blogalicious Weekend is THE go-to destination for influential, multicultural women and social media enthusiasts, from all over the world to collaborate, connect and uplift one another. Blogalicious Weekend is not just a conference; it's a celebration."

 

I had never been to a blogger's conference- but I had high expectations  just from chatting with the other bloggers who have been in the past (like my FB friends Sharelle and Jaiand from observing the back & forth on the Be Blogalicious FB page. I was not disappointed! I arrived in Vegas early Friday morning, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed…well, not exactly, as I'd only had 3 hours of sleep… but I was pretty amped up! I took the shuttle to our fabulous hotel, The Red Rock Casino and Spa, and marched right into the registration area. I received my name badge and a sweet swag bag! Next stop was the sponsor's area where I got to meet a few of the other bloggers and talk to a few of the sponsors themselves. (Had to get a pic of the sign with all the sponsor's logos on it!)

I was super excited to meet the staff of Que Rica Vida, I would love to work with them in the future. They were interested in hearing about my food blog, This Mama Can Cook! Keep your fingers crossed that they will contact me.  

Kellogg's was there stressing the importance of breakfast, and passing out cereal. Boiron was another brand that I totally love! Their Chestal cough syrup is the only one my child will take!! Nature Made Vitamins were there passing out supplements and educating us all. I received a big bottle of Eucerin Professional Repair lotion that I have been tearing up since I returned home & I swear my hands look smoother and younger!! Score!!!!

Next on the agenda was lunch- the casino put out quite a spread for us, complete with desserts:

    We ate well everyday- a little too well. lol!

The main reason I was at the conference was to learn all I could about blogging. The sessions were jam-packed with info, I learned so much and had fun doing it. The presenters had all put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the conference and I really appreciate that. 

One of the presentations I really enjoyed was the panel discussion about Box Tops for Education. I have been clipping Box Tops since 1998, but I had no idea how much they actually donate to schools every year. Box Tops for Education has helped schools across the US earn $475 MILLION dollars since 1996!! Isn't that amazing?! I was flabbergasted by that number. The panel was very informative and shared tons of ideas on how we can each help our schools earn much needed funds through Box Tops. I have already contacted our school's coordinator and am looking forward to hearing back from them. I am on fire for Box Tops right now and want to help our schools earn as much as possible. With that being said- if you have Box Tops you do not want, please donate them to a nearby school… or to me!! 

Yes, that is Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, of the group TLC, up on the stage! I loved hearing that she clips Box Tops for her child's school. She was eloquent and a real sweetheart…not to mention a natural beauty! 

The conference organizer's kept us real busy with sessions, but they also made sure to include lots of fun activities for us. There was a tea party, a trip to the strip, a sweet pool party sponsored by McDonald's (complete with a DJ, manicures, massages and mini makeovers!). I was lovin' it! 

   

I reached out to several companies prior to the conference, hoping to get some goodies donated that I could pass out to the other bloggers in attendance … sorta like an ice-breaker. To my amazement, three wonderful companies hooked me up with treats for the ladies!! I want to give a big thank-you to The Protein Bakery, out of New York! They shipped me a huge box full of their yummy, kosher (and healthy!) cookies! The ladies devoured them and could not get enough! 

 

I also have to give a big Thank You to Fairytale Brownies, from my old Arizona stomping grounds! Fairytale Brownies are legendary in AZ, and for a very good reason- they are delicious! The women were so excited to receive the Magic Morsels, (bite-size brownies) that I was handing out. A few of them even told me they knew all about Fairytale Brownies!

  

One more shout-out is in order, and that goes to Great American Cookies in Las Vegas! Friday night, after the pool party, I returned to my room and had a message on my phone. The front desk told me I had a delivery waiting for me. It was a giant Cookie Cake! When I placed this out for the ladies the following day- it was gone in minutes! (I didn't even get to taste it!) 

  

The fact that little old me, could get 3 companies to donate goodies for the conference is remarkable! I had never done anything like that before and I must say it made me feel very good to be able to pass out treats to all my new blogger friends! Please visit the three companies that helped me out, they were very generous with their goodies and I will be forever grateful to them! You can best believe I will be ordering from them all in the future! 

I was blown away by both the sessions I attended and all the fun activities the Blogalicious '12 staff put together for us. We had a bowling party in the VIP suites, (sponsored by The American Cancer Society),  a movie screening of the new Viola Davis movie, "Don't Back Down," and there was even a chance to give back to the community. Bloggers helped beautify a local school playground early Sunday morning. 

And there was THIS! 

Our very own private Doug E. Fresh concert, sponsored by Gain!!

We had to redesign a Gain tee that was given to us earlier in the day… here's what I did with mine and a small zebra print plastic bag I had received that day… Oh and about one million staples! 

Not bad, huh?! It was good enough to earn me a spot as one of the top ten finalists! I got to go up on stage and take my picture with Mr. Fresh himself! I grew up with Dougie's music- so I was quite a happy camper at the end of the night! He put on quite "The Show!" 

Before I close – (I could literally go on and on about the conference, but I need cook dinner!) I want to make one last observation. I honestly did not know what to expect from the other attendees. I did not know any of them personally. You always hear such bad things about women, there are so many derogatory stereotypes associated with us. Would they like me? Would they talk to me? Would they be catty towards each other? People are always talking about how women can't work together- can't even be in the same room with each other… well I am here to say that is all BS! I was welcomed with open arms…literally, by many of the ladies! Women I did not know came up to me, "Are you Mommy Powers?! So glad to finally meet you!" It was awesome! Everyone got along- everyone was there to learn more and help each other out. We truly are a community of wonderfully talented women (and men!) and this weekend was so uplifting and awe inspiring! These ladies were fantastic- they shared their knowledge with each other… we were all on the same page. It was so good to be around like-minded people, good people who care about more than just themselves. People that are willing to help each other and mentor each other. I am proud to be a member of the Blogalicious family and I look forward to building on the friendships that were created and working with many of the ladies I met. And of course, I'm ready for the next Blogalicious conference!!


PS- I want to thank everyone who made Blogalicious '12 possible, the organizers, the presenters, the sponsors and all the brands. Big thanks to the Red Rock and lastly, big thank you to my Cuddie- Donita for going with me and making this trip even that much more enjoyable!