Bake It Happen: Pink Pumpkins, Sweet Treats and Raising Money for Breast Cancer Awareness

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It’s October – there’s a chill in the air, the leaves are starting to change, pumpkin flavored everything has invaded every food establishment and grocery aisle – and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Last year, my friend Shari Brooks and her sister, launched a brand new campaign that took a very different approach to raising money for Breast Cancer research  – Bake it Happen.  Due to the tremendous success of that first year, Bake it Happen is happening once again – with the same premise, only bigger, better, and sweeter.

The idea is the same – bake it, share it, win it (and trigger donations and awareness at the same time.)  This year you can choose from 3 of the recipes from bakeithappen.net:

Simply bake the MyJudytheFoodie treat of your choice, and share it with the people in your life – and on social media with the hashtag #BakeitHappen.  Every time you share a pic of your Bake it Happen moment a $2 donation will be made to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.  (yes, pink pumpkins really exist – naturally!)

pink pumpkin

And, you will be entered to win an iPad Mini and 3 months of Baked by Melissa Mini of the Month Club.  

We baked up pumpkin brownies, with a slight variation – making them more like pumpkin blondies with chocolate chips – but super delicious just the same!

Check out the campaign at bakeithappen.net and start sharing and raising money now!  (and isn’t it so much better than dumping a bucket of ice on your head?)

A Real Doctor at Your Virtual Fingertips

People always ask what they should get a new parent. And when I think about the things that we really used, and continued to use for years, it was pretty basic stuff.

Baby bathtub? Good for about 1 year.

Playmat? 5 months.

Double stroller? 4 years. (and I was SOOO happy the day we sold it to an expecting twin mom!)

All of those items were on my checklist of things I needed, that I knew about.

The things I didn’t know about but someone was smart enough to buy us before my girls arrived? Digital thermometer, medicine spoons, infant Tylenol and one of those booger sucker-outer gizmos. I STILL use that thermometer 12 years later – and the medicine spoons since one of my daughters can’t swallow pills yet. Thankfully, they learned how to blow their noses.

But the bottom line is that kids get sick – A LOT.

One of the most frustrating things as a new parent is when your child gets sick on the weekend, or the middle of the night, or when you’re traveling, and your own pediatrician is not readily available. There are urgent care centers popping up all over the place, but I hate waiting in those waiting rooms full of sick people, and there is rarely a separate pediatric care center. So, I was interested in learning about the LiveHealth Online app where parents can talk securely and privately by two­-way video chat with a U.S.-­based, primary care doctor 24/7.  If needed, the doctors who treat patients through LiveHealth Online can even electronically send prescriptions directly to a local pharmacy. It seems like an option that parents have been waiting for, especially for those unexpected illnesses, which always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.

When your baby gets sick it is truly terrifying. As they get older it really doesn’t get much easier except that they can tell you what hurts and entertain themselves on the computer or TV while they convalesce. And honestly, there is no call I dread more than the school nurse. So I’m pretty big on prevention, especially for flu. One summer my daughter and I both had swine flu, and it had lasting effects on our breathing for a long, long time. My daughters also HATE shots. Hate is not even a strong enough word for it – so I make sure to get an early appointment at the doctor’s office for the flu mist because those appointments book up fast.

I also follow most of these tips from Dr. Mia Finkelston, a family doctor who treats patients through LiveHealth Online:

  • Rest up: Make sure your kids get between 9.5 – 12 hours of sleep each night to restore their bodies, improve their ability to help fight off germs, and reduce their stress levels. (Though my daughters are now fighting me on this since it’s not cool to go to bed before 10pm apparently!)
  • Hands off: Germs are lurking everywhere during the school year and are transported mostly through our hands. Since my girls take the bus to school and have to switch classrooms for all of their classes they are exposed to a gazillion germs every day. Teach your kids to keep their hands away from their face, and make sure they wash hands often, especially before eating.
  • Eat for wellness: Stock up on nutritious foods to help kids and parents function at optimum levels. Kids love to snack. Pack nuts, whole grain crackers, and fruit in their school bag so they don’t head to the vending machine.

I know my daughters are going to get sick. That’s a given. But I also know that my husband and I will get sick, and we are not so great about going to the doctor. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be getting an actual medical opinion (instead of just chugging Nyquil.) There are times where a video chat with a trusted doctor would be ideal since I can’t really take time out of my workday and mom-day. To be able to schedule that virtual doctor visit around my schedule instead of the other way around is perfect. Plus, if you’re a PPO or EPO member of Empire BlueCross BlueShield, a LiveHealth Online visit is covered at the same or lower out-of-pocket cost than a typical office visit, and claims are automatically filed for a fast and easy experience.

Registering for LiveHealth Online is fast and easy and free — just download the app from iTunes or the App Store or Google Play store and sign-up in one quick step. Or, you can visit www.livehealthonline.com/moms and register.  Dr. Finkelston suggests moms download the app when your family is healthy so that when someone does get sick, a doctor is available at mom’s convenience.

You can use try LiveHealth Online by using this special code to get one free virtual visit valued at $49:

LHOBeccarama    (Expires Dec 31st.)

This post was sponsored by LiveHealth Online, but as always, the opinions are my own

7 Reasons You’ll Love the New Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World

7 Reasons You’ll Love the New Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World

I will admit, the Snow White ride at Walt Disney World scared me.  (not as much as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but that’s another story)  But, I was nostalgic and a bit sad when I heard they had torn it down to make way for a new roller coaster ride, based in the mine where the Seven Dwarfs went off to work every day.  After all, the movie is called Snow White – and I was worried about a ride that was all about the thrill and not about the wonderful charm and artistry that makes Snow White, the film, special.

Well, I’m not worried anymore.  I LOVED this ride (and so did my sister)  – and rode it three times.

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Here’s why you will love it too:

1. You won’t be grumpy while you wait because the queue is full of super fun, hands-on experiences while you wait.  Like barrels full of gems that whirl, illuminated water that makes music, and other gem filled games.

2. Fast Pass! Now you can book up to 3 rides ahead of time on mydisneyexperience.com and the my Disney experience app – so don’t get sleepy and forget to book your fast passes ahead of time for this ride and you’ll zip right on through.

3. Don’t be bashful – there are wonderful, whimsical details everywhere you look on this ride.  Take your time so you will notice all of the little magical things inside and out, like these carved woodland creatures…

woodland creatures

and the vultures high above…

vultures in mine ride

4.  There is nothing dopey about it – big kids will love this ride, it’s got just enough oomph to be a fun coaster, and with the new technology that allows the mine cars to have some side to side swing to them it really feels like you’re  whisking through the mine…

5. But, it’s not so intense that you will have to summon Doc to help you out.  It’s comparable to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, without the big drops.

6. The animatronics are nothing to sneeze at.  The Imagineers truly bring the dwarfs to life inside the mine ride (and spoiler alerts from here on out!) they even recreate one of the most iconic images from the film – the dwarfs’ shadows on the mine walls as they sing Heigh Ho! It was the part of the ride that gave me goosebumps.  Like living inside the movie.

7. This ride will make you Happy!!   The ending to this ride is truly perfect, joyful, and captures the essence of the movie.  Snow White is there in the cottage, dancing to The Silly Song with the dwarfs – and the evil Queen in the form of the old crone – is waiting right outside the door,  a basket of apples hanging from her arm.

inside dwarves cottage

old crone

Disclosure: I was invited to Walt Disney World for this press event and received airfare, lodging, park tickets and some meals. The opinions expressed in this post are my own, as always.

 

Hurricane Season Starts June 1st: NYC Know Your Zone!

Hurricane Season Starts June 1st: NYC Know Your Zone!

photo: Sandrarose.com

photo: Sandrarose.com

We New Yorkers have been through our share of emergency situations over the last 12 years.  I watched the Twin Towers collapse from my apartment window.  I made it through the blackout with twin baby girls who basically slept through the whole thing.  And in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy struck, we were fortunate enough to live uptown, and came to love the huge inclines of the Upper West Side streets that I cursed when I had to push a double stroller up them day after day.  It turns out being perched high up on a concrete paved hill is probably the best place to be in all of Manhattan.  But, it’s also just luck since the power outages could have happened anywhere – and who wants to rely on luck when your family’s safety is on the line?

Know your zone, and know how to be prepared!

  • Use NYC’s Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder or call 311 to find out whether your home or business is located in a hurricane evacuation zone.
  • Understand hurricane hazards and the steps you can take to prepare.
  • Sign up for Notify NYC.
  • Get the latest emergency information via text, phone, email, fax, Twitter (@NotifyNYC), BlackBerry Messenger, and instant messenger.
  • Get the Ready New York Hurricane Guide: The guide contains instructions on how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home before a storm as well as a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones.
  • You can check out the SnapGuide too.

And make some thunder of your own!  Participate in the Know Your Zone Thunderclap campaign!  It’s super simple and a great way to let everyone know it’s important to know your zone!

 

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

When a conference is called a celebration you know there is something else going on.  I was fortunate enough to go to Disney Social Media Moms last year, and this year I went again, but this time to Disneyland in California.  And, since the celebration coordinated perfectly with my daughters’ spring break and Passover we decided to make it a real family trip and stay in Los Angeles to have our seder with all of our family that lives there.  It was Kismet.

I love Disneyland.  I love its charm, its uncomplicated, easy to cover size, and most of all its history.  I believe you can feel Walt Disney’s optimism and desire to build something really special when you’re there.  I hadn’t been to Disneyland since my daughters were 4 years old (8 years ago!)

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And I’m happy to say, my daughters still loved it, even as jaded tweens.

 

One of the things I love about this conference is that they don’t tell you the full agenda and all of the surprises that are in store while you’re there.  And, they include so many different facets of Disney – so there are always unexpected and interesting people and initiatives worth learning about.

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways from this year’s Celebration:

1.  Cars Land is spectacular.  No, really.  Ever wonder what it would be like to step inside an animated film?  Well, this is pretty much as close as you will ever come.  I recommend going at night when the full neon glory of Cars Land is lit up and you can be immersed in the 1950’s vibe.  The Radiator Springs ride is crazy fun – and the backdrop landscape of Route 66 is genius.

Route 66 Neon

 

2.  It’s not the size of the castle that matters…

3. It’s the character of the princess

One of the movies I am most excited about this year is Maleficent – and we got an extra dose of maniacal fabulosity at the celebration – and an extra dose of sweet from Sleeping Beauty herself, Elle Fanning.  She is as adorable as she looks…

Elle-Fanning blows out bday cake

photo by Josh Hallett

There is also royalty of a different kind – a CEO who built a business from scratch and is now using her success for empowering students and teachers.

photo by Josh Hallett

photo by Josh Hallett

That’s Chief Exec Bear, Maxine Clark, founder of Build a Bear Workshop, who spoke to us about teachers – good and bad – and the impact they have on children’s lives.  Hearing from incredibly successful women entrepreneurs is always inspiring, but there’s an even stronger impact when it’s someone like Maxine Clark who is also honest and supportive of other women entrepreneurs.  And I love that she started Build a Bear with an underlying belief that every child should be able to buy a basic bear and fill it with love.

4.  There is magic, everywhere you look.

 Like this unexpected surprise in the headboard at the Disneyland Resort

5. Everyone is creative

When you spend time with the people at Disney you quickly come to realize how incredibly talented everyone who works at Disney is, and how diverse those talents are. But, more importantly is this belief that every cast member has a creative spark that can be brought out.

One of my favorite videos to illustrate that is this one of the janitorial team making art with water:

These things are why this is not a conference, but a celebration.  A celebration of magic, family and inspiration with a big dose of serious fun.  And most importantly for those of us that write, or film, or share our stories, is this quote from Walt Disney…

 

 

Talking Social Media Do’s and Don’ts on PIX11 NYC

Talking Social Media Do’s and Don’ts on PIX11 NYC

Last week I talked to Kori Chambers, anchor for the PIX11 morning team about social media do’s and don’ts for parents. Covering apps that keep your family pictures private, social media shaming and creating a digital footprint for your kid before they can even walk – the segment covered a lot of advice for parents online!

Watch the segment and let me know if you have other online and social media parenting topics you’d like to see covered!

Muggles Will Finally Get to Ride the Hogwarts Express!

Muggles Will Finally Get to Ride the Hogwarts Express!

I am so excited about the Diagon Alley expansion of  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando!  And now, the creative folks at Universal Orlando have unveiled the incredible experience that will join the current Hogsmeade and Hogwarts experience with the new Diagon Alley experience: The Hogwarts Express.

Not just an ordinary train ride (of course not, this is the World of Harry Potter!)  The team at Universal Orlando have recreated Kings Cross, platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express so guests will actually feel immersed in the journey between Diagon Alley and London to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.

While on the Hogwarts Express riders will look out their window to see familiar Harry Potter characters whizzing by, and immediately be transported into the Harry Potter experience.

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It’s a brilliant way to connect the two parks at Universal Orlando and recreate an incredibly important part of the Harry Potter story.

I love that J.K. Rowling was consulted every step of the way, and that every fine detail was painstakingly recreated.  The authenticity is what makes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter already so magical and transformative.

Now I can’t wait to see the reveal of Gringotts Bank!  I’ve got my key ready!

gringotts key