Black Thumb, Love Plants

15 Feb

I adore being outside.  The fresh air, the sunshine, or even the cool humidity of a misty rain.  Nature is my thing and that’s why living in Atlanta’s fairly temperate climate is such a good fit for my family.  The other thing I love about being outdoors is the opportunity to enjoy flowers, plants, trees, and all things living.

Unfortunately, I do not have a green thumb.  I am aware of the benefits of live plants for mental and physical health.  Truth be told, even if my house had great natural light, I would probably still struggle to keep plants and flowers alive.  But, at my house which is surrounded by dozen of huge hundred year old trees, I have almost zero percent chance of plant survival success.

That’s where artificial plants that appear real and are attractive and fit in with my decor come in.  Until recently, I was convinced that all “fake plants” looked like they were purchased in the clearance aisle of a big-box chain store.  Then, I came upon the products at PermaLeaf® and I was floored by the options on the website, and I couldn’t wait for the piece I chose to be delivered.  I got it yesterday- on Valentine’s Day!- and it was a real treat.  The plant looks even better and more natural in person, in my opinion.  What do you think?

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To order or connect with PermaLeaf® – http://www.permaleaf.com/
https://www.facebook.com/PermaLeaf?ref=hl –
https://twitter.com/Permaleafplants
https://plus.google.com/b/105144904667941301754/105144904667941301754/posts
www.youtube.com/permaleaf

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I love canvas!

9 Feb

If you’ve ever been to my house, you know I am a photo junkie.  I have photos of my kids printed on different materials as the primary wall decor in my home.  I love that there is no glare from glass covering the image and even better that canvas is so lightweight.

Well, as you can imagine, when Photowall contacted me to see if I’d like to check out one of their products, I was all over it.  At first, I tried an image that unfortunately did not have a high enough resolution, so I was initially disappointed.  Next, I tried an image that was a photo of my husband and me.  The resolution was great, but I had a particular wall in mind for the canvas and is would require a pretty large size.  I almost clicked “order” when my husband (both jokingly and seriously) asked, “do you think anyone really wants to look at an almost lifesize image of the two of us on the wall?”.  Thank goodness he caught me because when I realized how ridiculous it would have been, I couldn’t stop giggling.  So, instead of trying to find a photo to have printed, I changed gears all together.

In addition to the traditional sites that allow you to print your own images on canvas, Photowall has some super cool wall murals and canvas options.  Once I dug into those, to be honest, I couldn’t choose.  Did I want a landscape, a piece of art, something contemporary, or an architectural image?

Once I found this artistic skyline image of Atlanta, I was IN LOVE!  I have lived here for nearly 15 years now and I love this city.  Even if I move someday, I will always treasure my time here and the fact that my boys were born in Georgia.

I was completely impressed with the entire ordering process from start to finish.  Simple, efficient, and a fast response time from customer service when I needed to make an adjustment.  Also, the product arrived quickly and in great condition.  I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read the fine print and didn’t realize the frame was a DIY thing until it arrived, which intimidated me at first, until I watched the following video.  Then, I was like, OKAY, LET’S DO THIS!  Less than 5 minutes later the canvas was ready to be hung and I realized that it is super sturdy and it was kind of a fun experience to assemble it myself.

Here are the photos of the print hanging above the couch in my basement family room.  I think it looks great and am super excited to have something honoring this great city decorating my home.

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What do you think???

If you’d like to connect with Photowall, check out the following links:

PHOTOWALL
Nordic e Trade AB
Box 2032  |  Fraktflygargatan 18
128 21 Skarpnäck
Sweden

www.photowall.com
Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

To get 20% off your order within the next 30 days, use the coupon code AtlantaMomCampaign2018 (just for my readers!).

New device alerts parents via Bluetooth if backseat of car becomes too hot/cold & reminds parents not to leave baby in car

5 Jan

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Using low energy Bluetooth and advance patent pending technology, eClip is able to detect when you walk more than 15 feet from your car by alerting you through an interactive app on your Smartphone. The eClip also monitors the temperature in the back of your car to keep it safe and comfortable for your baby.

Why the eClip?

Accidentally leaving a child in the car happens too often to loving families each year. Since records were taken in 1998, more than 700 young children have unnecessarily died by being forgotten in cars. Fortunately, this is a tragedy we can help prevent.

How does eClip attach?

Setting up eClip for daily use is extremely easy and only takes a few seconds. Simply attach eClip to a car seat, regular seat belt or diaper bag. You can attach it to even more places with the accessory strap that is included in the box. The on/off switch is designed so a child cannot accidentally turn it off and there are no small parts that pose a choking hazard.

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Click here for the company website: http://elepho.com/eclip

Click here for a video demonstrating eClip: http://buff.ly/2rjIqvL

The Secret to Raising Healthy Kids Starts in the Kitchen

7 Dec

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

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The incidence of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) are obese. In addition, “about one-third of American youth are overweight, a problem closely related to the increase in kids with type 2 diabetes, some as young as 10 years old,” the CDC reports. And the longer children are obese or overweight, the more likely they are to remain so as adults.

We have to change these statistics. And a recent study suggests the place to start is in the kitchen.

study of thousands of Canadian, elementary school-aged children found that kids who are regularly involved in healthy meal preparation at home were more likely to have the skills and confidence to make better food choices outside of the home. On top of that, these children were more likely to enjoy eating a larger variety of fruits and vegetables.

This study involved an extensive survey. The children were asked how often they helped prepare meals at home. Answer options were: “Never,” “Almost never,” “Several times a day” and “On most days.”

Next, the children’s fruit and vegetable preference was looked at. Preferences for three fruits (apples, oranges, blueberries) and nine vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, cabbage, squash, green peas) were evaluated.

Answers included: “Like a lot,” “Like a bit,” “Don’t like” and “Don’t know.” Children were instructed by evaluation assistants to select “Don’t know” if they had never tried the fruit or vegetable.

Finally their ability to make healthy food choices were also tested. The children were asked six questions:

  • Are you confident you can eat healthy food at school?
  • Eat a healthy snack between school and dinner?
  • Eat healthy food or choose a healthy snack when with friends?
  • Eat healthy food when eating dinner with the family?
  • Choose a healthy snack when alone at home?
  • Choose a healthy snack when bored or sad?

Response options ranged from “Very confident to “Not confident at all,” and demographic information was also taken into account including annual household income, urban or rural residency and educational level of parents. About half (51%) of the children surveyed were girls, and the survey pulled from a variety of household incomes and educational backgrounds of the parents.

“Approximately 30% of children reported helping with home meal preparation at least once daily, while 12·4 % reported never helping.” And frequency with home meal participation was associated with an increased preference for fruits and vegetables.

“This association appeared to be more pronounced in vegetable preference compared with fruits, where helping with home meal preparations several times daily led to approximately a 10 % (or 1 point) increase in vegetable preference.”

These new findings are a big deal because vegetables, like broccoli, are often very hard to get kids to eat.

Furthermore, children who ate more meals with their families made healthier diet choices.

It is not enough to simply say to your child, “Eat your broccoli, because I said so.” If your child, however, actually helps prepare the broccoli they may be more motivated to make wiser decisions regarding their health and actually enjoy eating the broccoli.

And these healthy meal prepping principles go beyond the home. “Research on the impact of school garden programs has shown that a hands-on approach of exposing children to a variety of fruits and vegetables is a viable strategy to encourage children to develop increased food preference and subsequently increased intake.”

So what does all this mean for our health?

Well, clearly we need to involve our kids more in the meal preparation process. The findings are clear. More involvement is associated with healthier food choices. And healthier food choices lead to healthier kids.

Here are some useful tips to increase kid participation in the kitchen.

  • Instead of family movie night, do family cooking night. Use cool tools in the kitchen, like a vegetable spiralizer to make “zoodles” or noodles made from zucchini. There are also safer, kid-friendly knives you can buy.
  • Bring it to the bedtime story. Read books with your children about healthy eating and nutrition.
  • Make it educational and interesting. Make it a game. Take your kid to the grocery store and ask him/her to pick the veggie for the night. The more you can involve them, the better.
  • Plant a garden with them. Kids like to get dirty outside, right? And they may find it fascinating to see where these beautiful, colorful healthy foods come from.
  • Tell them why it is important to eat healthy. “Because I said so” is not as meaningful as because this will help prevent you from getting sick, this will help you run better, this will help you maybe when you have a family one day, this will make you feel less tired and this will make that cut or scrape heal faster.
  • Watch what you say. Your kid can hear you when you say, “I’m so sick of eating salad!” Get creative and find alternatives to salad. Maybe make a collard wrap instead. If you are happy with your eating, your child will likely be happy with their eating.

At the end of the day, meal prepping is a great way to build your children’s confidence and give them the tools they need to not become victims of obesity and diabetes.

And yes it worked for me. My mom taught me how to cook at an early age, and I had mandatory cooking classes in high school. As a result, I developed skills that helped me make healthier life choices and lead a healthy life.

When we are proactive about the health of our children, we are being proactive about our future health.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

Joy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (www.phlabs.org), a national non-profit health information company that provides education and tools needed to achieve optimal health. Her most recent book is Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores.

Winter Hair Care for Kids- Managing kid’s hair in the cooler temperatures

15 Nov

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It’s time to prepare for the upcoming holidays and the upcoming winter weather. As cooler temperatures enter our neighborhoods, many of us increase the heat in our homes. While this keeps us warm, it ends up drying out the hair and leading to breakage. This happens for both kids and adults, but kids need a little more help from Mom and Dad to prevent hair from drying out. Here are some tips for caring for your child’s winter hair.

1. Start with a light, easily manageable haircut
It is recommended to get a trim every six to eight weeks to prevent breakage. At the start of winter’s peak—end of November, early December—I recommend getting your child’s hair cut so the ends are fresh, and the style is easily manageable. You want to avoid heavy styling in the cold months so having a simple hairstyle is best. My favorite winter hairstyles for girls are short to medium length Bobs and for little boys I recommend a Fade or an easy Crew Cut.

2. Invest in hair care products
Year-round you want to have quality haircare products, but this is especially important during the cooler temperatures. Invest in a quality shampoo and conditioner, detangling spray and a leave-in conditioner.
I recommend Original Sprouts Natural Shampoo, Leave In Conditioner and Miracle Detangler. You can find these products in your salon—ask a hairstylist at your haircutting appointment—or similar products
at the grocery store.

3. Think about your plate
Often times we forget that what we eat affects our hair. The best vitamins and minerals for hair moisture, shine and health are found in fish (salmon, preferably), leafy greens and nuts. Try to add salmon into the weekly rotation and consider adding a few greens to your child’s lunch or dinner. Nuts are easy add-ons in lunches, trail mix or other snacks. These easy swaps will help nourish your body and
your hair!

4. Avoid over styling
I mentioned this above but it’s worth repeating: heavy washing, drying, combing, braiding and excess hair accessories can lead to more breakage. Washing too often or not enough can dry out hair. Aim for every other day or so, but go with what works best for your family. Also remember that after washes
you don’t want your child to go outside with wet hair—it will make them too cold and increase the risk of catching a cold. It can also lead to hair breakage. Try to do washes at night before bedtime for best results.

5. Detangle hair before and after each styling/wash
Detangling hair not only makes washing and styling easier, but it also prevents messy knots, which leads to breakage. If your child’s hair is dry, spray it with water or a hair solution to get it a little wet. If wet, use a conditioning solution or detangling spray. Use a wide-tooth comb to gently comb through the hair, moving from the ends to the roots, until all the knots are out and hair is smooth.

6. Monitor and keep lice at bay
Kids often share hats and coats are frequently hung next to, or on top of, other coats making it easy for lice to spread. In the winter, make sure you are checking your child’s hair every one-two weeks to see if any lice have found their way onto your child’s head. I also recommend using Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel lice prevention line of products to repel lice away. Original Sprout Shampoo and Conditioner also contain Rosemary to repel lice.

Hair care is often forgotten about when temperatures drop, but it is an important part of overall care and appearance, and it is important to teach our children about it while they are young. I hope these tips will help your family combat the winter chill while keeping your hair in great condition.

About the Author
Grace Small is the mother of three young adults. She has lived in Kennesaw for over 20 years. Grace owns and operates the Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids salon in Kennesaw with her husband Las. The salon is located at 1615 Ridenour Blvd. in Kennesaw. When she’s not in the salon, Grace enjoys participating in community activities with local schools and day care centers, as well as with the local Business Associations. She also enjoys the outdoors and exploring the beautiful Atlanta parks.

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Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Awarded “No Baby Unhugged” Grant

2 Nov

Huggies Awards Four New No Baby Unhugged Grants to Support Hospital Hugging Programs and their Impact on Premature Babies

 The grant program continues its mission to help every baby, including those in the NICU, get the hugs they need to thrive.

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On October 26, 2017, Huggies awarded four hospitals with $10,000 No Baby Unhugged grants to help support or establish volunteer hugging programs, which provide much-needed physical human interaction for newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). These four recipients join an additional seven hospitals that received No Baby Unhugged grants earlier this year.

 

“We truly believe in the powerful impact that hugs and the human touch can have on babies’ growth and development, especially for those born premature and in the NICU,” said Giusy Buonfantino, president of Kimberly-Clark Baby and Child Care North America. “A cause close to our hearts, Huggies is continually committed to providing hospitals with the resources needed to help grow these programs, and ensure the babies who benefit from them thrive.”

 

The four hospitals receiving grants in October include:

  1. Brigid’s Path – Kettering, Ohio: This grant will allow Brigid’s path to launch a new hugging program, which will be Ohio’s first newborn recovery center for infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
  2. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Atlanta, Georgia: Resources from the grant will support their expanding hugging program, which has seen an increase in volunteers. The hospital is also home to the “ICU Grandpa” who recently gained notoriety for his dedication to holding babies.
  3. Rush University Children’s Hospital – Chicago, Illinois: Funding from the grant will help supply additional mannequins for training new volunteers, printed educational materials, enhancements to the cuddler environment, and more.
  4. St. Vincent Healthcare – Billings, Montana: The No Baby Unhugged grant will help launch a new volunteer hugging program and add another level of therapy care that focuses on education and addresses diversity amongst patient population.

 

“Brigid’s Path is Ohio’s first newborn recovery center for babies born drug-exposed and a place where the hugging program will have such a huge impact,” said Jane Snyder, Director of Development, Brigid’s Path. “This Huggies No Baby Unhugged Grant will help us maintain a volunteer program that focuses on hugging, cuddling and skin to skin contact for our NAS babies.”

 

To be considered for the next round, interested hospitals are encouraged to fill out an application on the Huggies website by December 8, 2017, with the announcement to come in January 2018. For those interested in supporting the program, visit Huggies.com/NoBabyUnhugged to become a Huggies Rewards Member and in turn, Huggies will donate $5 to support volunteer hugging program grants for hospitals.

Four Tips to Eat Your Way to a Great Night’s Sleep

19 Oct

By Dr. Bill Miller

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Who has not had a restless night’s sleep? Everyone does on occasion, but for many, it is an increasingly frequent experience. The typical explanation is the unparalleled distractions of our modern lifestyle. We email compulsively, text our friends at all hours, and binge watch TV. Consequently, our sleep suffers. Studies show that the average amount of sleep that Americans currently get has fallen by between one and two hours each night over the last 60 years. Furthermore, the quality of that sleep has deteriorated. Some research even suggests that our irregular sleep patterns have led to a ‘dream’ deficit that also takes its own individual toll over time.

The crux of the issue is that there are significant health problems associated with sleep disorders that go beyond feeling tired the next day. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with higher incidences of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and cancer. Many of us realize this and struggle to make adjustments. We experiment with changing our caffeine or alcohol intake or, in desperation, some turn to sleeping pills.

Most of us know from experience that there is some kind of link between our food intake and our sleep patterns. Sleep can be difficult if we are too full or extremely hungry. Yet, our busy lifestyle and the temptations of snack foods continuously get in the way. One thing is clear. A good evening meal with sensible portions improves the prospect of a restful night of sleep.

We have long known that there are two fundamental states of sleep and each is regulated by a different part of the brain. Both are necessary for completely recuperative sleep. We have a sleep cycle, called our ‘circadian rhythm,’ which is regulated by our brain and by metabolic cues governed by liver cells. All of these signals work together in a continuous feedback loop which is commonly called our ‘circadian clock’.  New information adds a significant to factor to that mix. Our gut microbiome has a surprisingly crucial influence on our circadian sleep-wake cycle and our sleep quality. Experiments confirm that when specific microbes in our gut are altered, our fundamental states of sleep are disrupted. This limits our ability to recover from stress and is necessary to protect against neurological diseases such as dementia. To assist in that recovery process, we now understand that our gut microbiome and our own cells form an active feedback loop and our sleep patterns are part of it.

This continuous feedback between our gut and brain significantly modulates our responses to stress. When that feedback is suboptimal, it begins a cycle that leads towards metabolic health disorders such as diabetes. Our sleep-wake cycle is part of this loop. Impaired sleep disrupts our metabolism and contributes to inflammatory states and metabolic diseases, which can, in turn, further disrupt our sleep. When our gut microbiome is off-balance our capacity to achieve restorative sleep is profoundly affected.

Here are four tips to start you on the path to a great night’s sleep:

  • Our microbes have internal clocks, just as we do. We are at our best when we find our optimal personal method of synchronizing and adjusting to each other. In effect, if you feed your microbes well, they will treat you right.
  • Stick to a firm eating schedule and limit fat content. Both of these factors can improve sleep quality. There is an added benefit. These measures help with weight management, which is also mediated by the gut microbiome.
  •  Keep calories the same, but make your meals smaller and more frequent. Studies show that this improves sleep quality and metabolic parameters such as blood glucose or serum lipid levels.
  • Try adding either prebiotics or probiotics to your diet. These offer your microbial partners the nutrients they need.

When you plan to get a good night’s sleep, you need to think of it as putting your microbes to bed. Feeding them properly is your best chance for normal recuperative sleep in the midst of our hectic modern lives.

 Dr. Bill Miller has been a physician in academic and private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome. For more information,www.themicrocosmwithin.com.

The responsibilities and Rewards of Being a Caregiver

16 Oct

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National Family Caregivers Month is an ideal time to reflect on both the responsibilities and rewards of being a caregiver.

Being a caregiver is deeply challenging. Especially when those we’re caring for cling fiercely to their independence, resisting support and insisting on remaining independent even when this is no longer a safe option.

Melanie Merriman, hospice expert and author of Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging, knows this all too well from her experience caring for her fiercely independent aging mother.

Torn between the need to protect her mother’s safety on the one hand and preserve her autonomy on the other, Melanie and her sister struggled every step of the way to find solutions that gave their mother the assistance she needed without wounding her pride or damaging their relationship. Paradoxically, her mother’s desire for independence actually created a greater strain on Melanie and her sister.

In the process, Melanie learned a lot about how to how to strike this delicate balance, and would be happy to share the lessons with your audience:

● Let yourself be human. Start by acknowledging the fact that there is no foolproof recipe for caring for an aging loved one. There is no such thing as perfection. Even professionals such as hospice care experts get caught up in minutiae and bickering when caring for their own family members. All you can do is simply do your best.

● Pay close(r) attention to the signs of aging. Some signs of aging are so small they’re barely detectable. Most of the ones you need to watch out for signal a step back from everyday life. Is your loved one canceling in-person meetings? Is she refusing to drive to unknown places? Is she skipping meals here and there? All of these can be signs.

● Be more realistic about the consequences of aging. This is tough, but crucial. Even though your father is eighty-eight and still wins the annual bridge tournament at the rec center up the street doesn’t mean this will go on forever. It’s easy to sink into rosy thinking about those we love. It’s necessary to remember that aging and decline are universal processes that we must prepare for.

● Start discussions long before it feels like it’s time. Being proactive means talking to your aging loved one months or even years before it feels “right”. As we age, mental faculties can go. Changes in health can happen quickly. It’s best that everyone discuss the game plan long before it’s needed.

Taking these steps can help improve well-being during what Melanie has dubbed “the tightrope of aging”—the stage between active independent living and end-of-life.

About the Author:

Melanie Merriman is author of Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging. She is also the co-author of Merriman’s Hawai‘i: The Chef, the Farmers, the Food, the Islands, a cookbook with stories about chef Peter Merriman. Melanie has spent much of her life as a research scientist, hospice consultant, and foundation grant evaluator—driven by a passion to illuminate, understand, and find meaning. Melanie and her husband Klein split their time between South Florida and Cape Cod, MA.

DENNY’S KICKS OFF THE SEASON OF GIVING WITH ANNUAL NO KID HUNGRY® FUNDRAISER

13 Oct

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Nearly one in six children in America struggle with hunger and go without the proper food and nutrition they need on a daily basis. In an effort to help end childhood hunger, Denny’s is teaming up with No Kid Hungry® for another year, helping give back a little this holiday season. Now through Dec. 3, more than 1,600 Denny’s locations nationwide will work together to help fight childhood hunger across the country – to-date, the brand has donated more than $4.3 million to the cause, helping provide 43 million meals to kids in need.

As part of this year’s fundraising efforts, guests visiting participating locations can make a $3 donation to No Kid Hungry and receive $12 worth of redeemable Denny’s coupons in return. There will also be various ways to support the cause online: users visiting ‘Denny’s on Demand’ – the brand’s new online and mobile ordering platform – will be able to make a $1 donation with any order placed, or make a donation of their choice through www.dennysnokidhungry.com. The diner will also offer an interactive donation option that will take place outside of its booths: The Grand Slamoji. Every time a user comments on the diner’s “No Kid Hungry video” on Facebook using their favorite breakfast emoji combinations, Denny’s will donate $1 to the cause, up to $25,000.

“No Kid Hungry is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts, and at Denny’s we are proud to once again help raise awareness and funds to end the fight against childhood hunger in America,” said John Dillon, SVP and chief marketing officer for Denny’s. “No child should have to worry about when and where they may get their next meal, even more so during the holidays. This year’s campaign serves as a great way to team up with our guests as they gather around our booths with family and friends to share in this season of thanks and giving.”

Guests visiting their nearest Denny’s to make a donation or enjoy a great meal will also have the opportunity to experience its new holiday-inspired menu “Flavors of the Season.” The festive new lineup includes a mouthwatering choice of sweet and savory Pancake dishes including the New Pumpkin Cream Pancake Breakfast, the New White Chocolate Raspberry Pancake Breakfast and New Cranberry Orange Pancake Breakfast, each served with two eggs, hash browns and a choice of two strips of bacon or sausage links. The diner will also offer its traditional family favorite, the Turkey & Dressing Dinner, featuring tender carved turkey breast, savory stuffing, turkey gravy and cranberry sauce.

Guests are also invited to enjoy a holiday treat with a deliciously sweet dessert such as Cinnamon Sugar Pancake Puppies® served with cream cheese icing, or the New White Chocolate Raspberry Milk Shake. Denny’s will also offer its classic Pumpkin and Pecan pies, available by the slice or whole throughout the holiday season.

For more information about Denny’s No Kid Hungry fundraising efforts, please visit www.dennysnokidhungry.com. Guests can order online or find out more about Denny’s seasonal menu, available all day, every day through Jan. 3, 2018, by visiting www.dennys.com.

 

About Denny’s Corp.

Denny’s is one of America’s largest full-service family restaurant chains, currently operating over 1,700 franchised, licensed and company-owned restaurants across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Curaçao, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Philippines. For further information on Denny’s, including news releases, please visit the Denny’s website at www.dennys.com or the brand’s social channels via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or YouTube.

 

About No Kid Hungry®

No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 6 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast, eat healthy summer meals, and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.

Five Commandments for Balancing the Busy by Tabitha Lord

3 Aug

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Enjoy this guest post written by mother of 4 and Writer’s Digest Grand Prize Winner (2016) Tabitha Lord, author of the acclaimed Horizon series.

I’m busy. I mean really busy. There are more things on my plate now than when my four kids were little and I was working full-time as an admissions officer and Latin teacher. The kids are mostly grown, I’m a writer now, and yet somehow I still feel busier than ever.

From a business perspective, the busy pays off. Horizon, the first novel I published, won the 2016 Writer’s Digest Grand Prize for Self Published Fiction. I’ve just released Infinity, the sequel to Horizon this past summer. I’m attending conferences, doing readings and signings at bookstores, and am plotting my next big project. I can see the fruits of my labor, and I have been lucky in just how delicious they’ve been. I love what I’m doing and I feel blessed to be doing it, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I’m not.

Still, no one wants to feel exhausted the moment they open their eyes in the morning, or daunted by an endless “to-do” list before the day even starts. Moreover, I find myself  constantly taking stock of my role as a mom — Am I paying attention? Am I present enough in the moment? At the end of the day, have I attended to the most important things?

These are questions moms grapple with constantly, no matter what their particular brand of ‘busy’ looks like. Whether working outside the home in a full-time job, doing so a few days a week, or going full speed ahead at home, finding balance is not easy. But it’s crucial to our personal survival and to the well-being of our family.

My own soul-searching resulted in a list of promises I’m holding myself to every day. They’re a total work in progress, but so far I’m seeing some dividends. Of course, different methods work for different people, but maybe some of these will resonate with you:

Attend to the priorities first. There are things to do. Every day. And like most of my friends, my tasks don’t just include managing myself, but managing some of the other people who live with me. So, I have to live by my calendar and lists, and I feel much more organized when I do. I admit that my list-making borders on obsessive (doesn’t everyone have a monthly overview list, a weekly task list, and a daily schedule???). But I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I believe creating lists actually allows me to let some things go, temporarily at least. If something is written down, and I can’t attend to it in the moment, I know it isn’t lost or forgotten, it just needs rescheduling. Similarly, working with a calendar assures me I’m not going to miss something important, like a kid’s doctor appointment or my mother-in-law’s birthday! I can relax. My calendar will remind me.

With all this organization, I’m also trying to re-imagine my daily time management. Rather than create an endless to-do list, I want my schedule to reflect my priorities. So, when I create that schedule,I’m attempting to allot an amount of time to each task and block out chunks of time for the most important things.

Plan the down time and unplug. Down time has to be a priority, and I have to honor it. A few weeks ago my daughter needed to make a dish for “fiesta day” at school. When my boys were younger and had to bring treats or snacks to school, I would generally hear about this at bedtime the night before, or sometimes in the morning as we were rushing to the car. But my daughter, she’s a planner. I got the recipe a week before, a gentle reminder a few days ahead, and a “mom you got the ingredients, right?” the day before. And not only is she a planner, she’s actually helpful. We work really well together in the kitchen. The day before “fiesta day” I picked up the ingredients, and, using rule #1, I actually planned the cooking time into my schedule. Because I did this, I was able to shut everything down and really be with my daughter while we cooked together, laughed, told stories, and enjoyed each other’s company. I’ve been trying to think of cooking time now as down time. It has to be done anyway, and with a glass of wine and good company, why can’t it be a time to reconnect and pay attention to one another? I even bought a new cookbook…

Sleep on it before making a commitment to something. This one’s been really helpful. Generally, I’m the kind of person who likes to say yes to everything. Especially now, trying to get a new career off the ground, it’s really hard to refuse any work that comes my way. But not all the projects are the right ones for me, and if I let an idea percolate for a while, the right choice becomes clear. The right projects are the ones I can’t stop thinking about. They energize me, and my creativity flows around them. The others never sit quite right. I’ve learned to listen to my gut, but it requires my first answer to always be, “let me sleep on that and I’ll get back to you.”

Laugh more. Research suggests that laughter is good for your health! Laughter not only feels good, it changes my perspective. And, while it’s really wonderful to laugh with other people, in a pinch, I’m happy to laugh all by myself. I fall out of my chair when I read those autocorrect snafus that are posted online. And I’ve recently discovered a Star Wars bloopers reel that I find absolutely hysterical. When I need to take a break, rather than fill my head with the negativity that is so pervasive in the media and online, I look for laughter and levity.

Don’t wish it away. Don’t get me wrong – I have perspective on this one. I had the stomach bug the other day and I definitely wished that shit away immediately! But I’m talking garden-variety challenges – the stress that comes from being part of a family, having a career, raising children – the day-to-day stuff that can sometimes just wear us down. For example, we have a small (ahem) construction project happening right now. It’s over budget, my yard’s torn up, my house is dirty from the work, and I’m hosting a huge party back there for two of my kids in another month. Because those two kids are graduating. And then they are moving, one to the other side of the country. The project will be done in a few weeks, and a few weeks after that, my household will look completely different. It’s as it should be. My older boys are following their dreams and I couldn’t be more excited for them. But I don’t want to miss out on these last few weeks with my whole family living under one roof together for the last time. If I focus on hurrying along the discomfort, I might miss the joy in the moment. And really, life’s just too short for that!

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What about you? How do you manage your busy?

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