Maryland Mommy Blogger | Mommy 2K

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grow & Go


"I love you much, Mommy."

Liam's words flowed gently through my ears, but hit my heart heavily like a bat to a ball. The thought of hearing him speak such tenderness left me feeling both joyful and heartbroken.

I projected the years ahead and envisioned my once wee boy pulling away from my firm grip on his cushy hand at the playground. I would watch anxiously from a neutral location – far enough away for freedom, close enough for assistance – as he climbed the colorful, metal stairs that welcomed him on an adventure.

Occasionally, he would turn around to make certain that I was still a spectator in his world. My intense waving and excitement-filled face was just a cover-up for the nerves that continued to creep into the pit of my stomach.

Don't fall!
Be careful!
Slow down!
Watch out!

The panic was all consuming, causing me to scantily observe the delight that rested playfully in his movement.

He ran.
Jumped.
Wiggled.
Fell.
Walked.
Jogged.
Hopped.

All with the sole objective of having fun.

He succeeded greatly. I, on the other hand, needed a bit of loosening up.

We were at opposite ends of playground endeavors. I wanted him to pull back; he wanted to move full speed ahead. His imaginary harness was in the form of my presence. As long as he could see me alongside his actions, there was no risk too big or small to conquer.

Eventually, I would join him as he began to flirt with vulnerability.

A too tall sliding board.
A steep rock climbing wall.
A speedy merry-go-round.

Mama had her limits.

But for some reason, I felt like limits were just obstacles put into place to curb the curiosity of humans.

What if we all stepped outside of these limits – however much desired – and explored the possibilities?

How is it that we can't live like children and rest on the belief that someone will be there to harness our risk-taking?

Liam's independence would be a direct reflection of the both of us making an attempt to do just that. The more I let him go, the more I would grow...as a parent and as a person.

Suddenly, I felt relieved.

Life does and will move forward. There is no way to make it stop. Continuation does not mean you have to leave behind the life you once had. Bring along the parts that you want to include.

Grow and go.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Inside the Teen Brain: Is There an App for That?" Stop Medicine Abuse Forum in Washington, DC #StopMedAbuse


Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by the CHPA's Stop Medicine Abuse educational program. I was compensated to attend the event (or participate online) but all opinions here are my own.

"I'll just need your driver's license," asked the cashier behind the counter at the local pharmacy. This was after I had been browsing each aisle like a mad-woman, all while coughing up what felt like my entire insides. A terrible cold had finally caught up with me. But, I was determine to win this temporary battle by taking a simple over-the-counter cough medicine. As a Mom, I can rarely afford to be "down". This would have to do for now. So, I was directed to the register to retrieve my item. Cough syrup was now being housed behind the counter.

"I'm sorry. I don't understand. You need my driver's license in order for me to purchase cough medicine? That's weird!" I scratched my head, searched through my wallet for my identification, then handed it over reluctantly. Either I was extremely exhausted and making this all up in my head, or, I was completely out-of-the-loop over new rules surrounding the purchase of cough medicine.

As it turns out, it was the latter.

"Yeah. We have to make sure the person buying the cough medicine is not a minor and is eighteen or older. It's a new thing now; teens are using it to get high. So, we have to treat the sale of cough medicine like buying cigarettes. It's a safety thing. Sorry for the inconvenience, ma'am."

And just like that, I was schooled. I was shocked to find out that this was a new trend among teens. I was too busy worrying about how long my son had been gaming to even consider this as an issue. Of course, this was a few years ago, at a time when my oldest son was much younger and the concern over cough medicine abuse was irrelevant to our family. But, I knew that eventually my son would reach the age where peer pressure who rear its ugly head and present undesirable scenarios in his life. I had so much to learn about this topic. So, I did.

About a month ago, I attended a forum in Washington, DC titled, "Inside the Teen Brain: Is There An App for That?". It was the perfect introduction to October's National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and promotion of prevention efforts by organizations such as Consumer Healthcare Products Association's (CHPA) Stop Medicine Abuse, Community Anti-Drug Coalition Institute (CADA) , Tribal Worldwide and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. For a parent such as myself who just knew the surface of the problem but wanted to dig deeper, I was rather impressed with the information that was presented by the panelists, especially Childhood and Adolescent Therapist, Darby Fox. Here is what you need to know to join the fight in preventing OTC cough medicine abuse:


First, what is being abused? It will be quite hard to prevent the abuse if you do not recognize the product. I was surprised to learn that teens are using simple over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM), an ingredient that is found in most OTC cough medicines and is safe when used correctly to reduce coughs. When taken in excess, like up to 25 times more than the recommended dosage as reported by some teens, DXM has the ability to intoxicate. Several side effects include nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, lack of motor control and distortions. Startling statistic from various studies suggest that "1 in 30 teens have abused cough medicine to get high, and one in 3 teens in grades 9-12 knows someone who has abused cough medicine to get high".

So, how did this become a "thing" and where are teens getting their information from to participate in such abuse? If you take a look at this infographic, you can see that one of the main sources of information in the Internet and other teens. We all know that the answer to just about any question is at the tip of our fingertips. With the abundance of computer and smartphone access, a quick online search can produce results that fuel the start of cough medicine abuse. That is why it is important to constantly monitor the activity of your child's online usage.

Look for keyword searches like, "What is it like?" and "How do I do it?" when pertaining to DXM, especially around back-to-school time and the return from breaks for the holiday in January and February. Be sure to check all social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube where teens are more likely to "open up more" than they would with their parent(s). **As a blogger, I have a slight advantage because I am constantly online and able to see most of my teen's interactions.**

Even more accessible to teens are the people that they see on daily basis. Friends and peers are the most influential when it comes to both positive and negative decision-making. As listed on number three of the picture to the right, "teens are almost 3 times as likely to trust their friends as a source of information than their family (even their siblings)". This adds to the point that you should always know the people that your child is hanging with because they may become the company that they keep.

Curiosity will often lead to discovery. A teen will go online if they know a friend or have heard about DXM abuse in the news. As a parent, just make sure that your curiosity about your child's online activity is stronger than their desire to attempt this act.

What do you do if you suspect your teen may be abusing cough medicine or has made inquiries about DXM usage? Well, the first step is to have a conversation. This is something that should be taking place on a regular basis anyway. Talking to your teen may be the best form of prevention for most of the problems they face in their adolescence. In case you didn't know, we are all owners of a Ferrari – a teen with no brakes. It is up to us to provide boundaries to slow them down.
In approaching your teen to talk about this topic, remember to lose all judgement. Talk with your teen and not at them. Natural, non-lecturing, non-distracting moments are the best time to start the conversation. I am proud to say that I have been talking to my oldest son about drugs for years. We created a fake scenario of someone asking him to use drugs and played our respective roles. We laugh about our little skit now that he's older. But, it has stuck with him. I always find a clever way to talk to him about what is going on at school without being too obvious. Tactics will vary based on your teen because they are individuals who have to be engaged differently. Just remember:
Sometimes we have to get on the level of the teen. What better way to do this than through an app created by DXM Labworks? It is available for free on iTunes and for Android. The premise of the game is for users to get a virtual idea of what abusing cough medicine looks like without actually trying it (thank goodness). There are also other great resources on WhatisDXM.com. Just to make a note, this site has been visited by teens one million times and the app has been downloaded almost 300,000 times. The impact is there.
Continued efforts to prevent cough medicine abuse appear to be showing some positive results. For instance, only 26% of teens agree strongly that taking cough medicine to get high is the cool kids thing to do. That is down from the 29% that was recorded in 2011. Also, teens who thought that it was easy to obtain DXM was at 65% in 2010. Since then, the number has gone down to 41%. This shows a few steps in the right direction. A decrease in abuse is always a great motivator to keep the conversation going. Also, continue to provide empowerment opportunities for our youth:

If after reading this post you are still unsure about the who, what, where, why and how of this subject, do not lose hope. Visit the great resource such as StopMedAbuse.org so that we can all tackle this problem together. It takes a village!

Follow @StopMedAbuse on Twitter (#StopMedAbuse)
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Disclosure Information
This blog post is sponsored by the CHPA's Stop Medicine Abuse educational program. I was compensated to attend the event (or participate online) but all opinions here are my own. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Results are In: My Walgreens #WellnessTour with the National Urban League Experience #spon


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a blogger advocate for the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League and will be compensated for my time. All opinions and views are my own.
I'm 51 years old. At least that's what my test results from the Walgreens Wellness Tour with National Urban League say. After inputting the numbers for my glucose levels, body composition and blood pressure, the calculations added almost eighteen years onto my life. So, instead of being an active, energetic and healthy 34-year-old mother of two, I am barely hanging on to any ounce of my youth. Sadly enough, I am not at all surprised by the outcome.
On a rainy Thursday afternoon, my youngest son, Liam,  and I headed to one of the stops scheduled for the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area. This particular location was located in Clinton, Maryland at a senior housing apartment complex called, Clinton Manor. Residents of the complex could easily walk out of the entrance of their building and step up into the bus. But just so you're not confused, the services are available to the public. as long as you are 18 years of age or older.
I entered the wellness bus and was immediately assisted by one of the staff members there – Ashley. Both her smile and personality were inviting, as was the rest of the staff. I welcomed her warm spirit on such a cold, rainy day. She was the perfect person to make a first impression. The staff was accommodating to Liam as well. They kept him occupied while I sat down to receive my tests (this is not apart of their job, but I was appreciated their help).
First up – total cholesterol & glucose testing. This required a simple finger prick as blood was drawn and captured into a tube. The blood was then tested on a machine that gathered results. The glucose test was important for me because diabetes runs in both sides of my family. I couldn't remember if I had anything to eat before taking the test, but that may have altered my results a bit.
The cholesterol test results were also determined from the small blood sample that was taken. This test reveals any excessive amounts of bad cholesterol that may be in your artery walls. This could cause potential blockage and blood flow to your heart, causing a stroke, heart attack and/or heart disease. I'll share my results at the end of this post. Let's just say, I had a rude awakening.
I don't think anyone is ever excited to step on a scale. This scale was pretty fancy. Just by stepping on it, I was able to get results for my complete body composition. Measurements of my body fat, visceral fat, BMI, skeletal muscle, resting metabolism, body age and body weight were all recorded in one take. I expected the numbers that I've received. I've known for quite some time that I am overweight and could stand to shed about twenty pounds. I am definitely making weight loss a priority in the coming weeks, even if it is holiday season. I can't lose anything if I don't gain the strength to start somewhere. And seeing myself in the picture is motivation enough. I don't even recognize this woman.
Blood pressure and I have a love/hate relationship. Most of the time it's great. Then, there are the moments when I am super stressed or nervous and my blood pressure notices. I started having blood pressure difficulties after my first pregnancy back when I was just twenty years old. Both of my pregnancies resulted in early deliveries due to my condition with preeclampsia. As soon as they ended, I would return to normal. But on this particular visit to the wellness tour bus, it was sky-high. I should note that the night before I did not feel too well and went to bed more earlier than usual. I don't know if the anticipation of next day's events cause a spike in my pressure, but I am going to work out a solution with my primary care physician to make sure this was just a one-time occurrence and not a permanent problem.
I was the only one on the wellness tour bus at the time. This made it my tests analysis arrive quickly. Allow yourself at least 20 minutes during your visit to complete the entire process because there may be a few people ahead of you. I met with Ashley to go over my results. She explained briefly what all the numbers meant. For the numbers that were not so favorable, she noted that all of the results work together and would change for the better with a decrease. Long story short – get to fixing your health problems if you want to see satisfying outcomes.
I can't tell you how many times I've read or heard a story where the person expressed how early detection and prevention saved their life. Had they not taken a step in the right direction to see where they were in their health journey, the outcome may have been a bit different. Now that I know my health is not nearly as great as it can be, I am going to make changes in my life to ensure that I am around for awhile longer. I am at risk for a heart attack or stroke at the young age of 34. This is unacceptable. I need to do more for myself...first! The results from this health assessment are just what I needed to make plans with my primary care physician to create a routine that will revive my healthy state.
Besides, I want to be around for my children's milestone, like this little guy getting his driver's license.
Just to recap:
The health tour’s bundle of free health tests and risk assessments is designed to provide participants with personal health insights that may indicate symptoms and potential risks for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Tests include total cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, body composition, skeletal muscle, resting metabolism, visceral fat, real body age and body weight*. Collectively, the health tests are valued at more than $100. The health tests are administered by certified wellness staff and are available to adults who are ages 18 and older. Afterward, participants can consult with a Walgreens pharmacist or certified wellness staff about his or her results. This free service can be completed in approximately 20 minutes – insurance will not be billed.
If you're reading this before 3PM on Monday, October 5, 2015, you still have time to get down to the Walgreens Drug Store at 14095 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge, VA 22191.

If you're reading this before 3PM on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, you still have time to get down to the Howard University Health Services at Howard University Hospital at 2041 Georgia Ave. NW in Washington, DC 20060.

For those of you who are in other states and areas besides DC, Maryland and Virginia, there may be additional dates for you to attend. To learn when the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League is serving a neighborhood near you, visit Walgreens.com/Tour.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a blogger advocate for the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League and will be compensated for my time. All opinions and views are my own.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Walgreens Wellness Tour with The National Urban League is Coming to Washington, D.C. #wellnesstour #spon


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a blogger advocate for the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League and will be compensated for my time. All opinions and views are my own.


Just about every device that we use in our household runs on a battery. It is what keeps them going and provides the opportunity for uninterrupted usage. But, you know what happens to those devices when the battery suddenly loses its charge? Well, they start to respond much slower, function improperly and simply power down. The devices are no longer good to the people around it. There is a sense of panic to restore them back to a more efficient state. And once the devices are recharged and back to their original form, life is suddenly enjoyable again.

This is no different than taking care of yourself.

As a mother, I know the importance of being healthy. A completely charged body gives me the energy to get through the day and balance all of the duties of being a parent. I understand that my overall wellness is conducive to the well-being of my family. Still, I fall short when it comes to being the healthiest person I can be. I know that I can do better to gain control of my health and be able to offer myself completely. I want all parts of me to be restored, boosted and available so that the people around me, especially my children, can benefit from my healthy state.

Enter the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League.

Returning for its ninth year, the Walgreens Wellness Tour has partnered with the National Urban League to provide "free preventative and early detection health services to urban and at-risk communities across the country".

The health tour’s bundle of free health tests and risk assessments is designed to provide participants with personal health insights that may indicate symptoms and potential risks for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Tests include total cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, body composition, skeletal muscle, resting metabolism, visceral fat, real body age and body weight*. Collectively, the health tests are valued at more than $100. The health tests are administered by certified wellness staff and are available to adults who are ages 18 and older. Afterward, participants can consult with a Walgreens pharmacist or certified wellness staff about his or her results. This free service can be completed in approximately 20 minutes – insurance will not be billed.

*Tests are available to ages 18 and over. Test results are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the absence or presence of any health condition. Recipients are encouraged to report test results to their primary care provider. Pharmacist consultation with patient does not constitute medical advice. State restrictions may apply.
I am excited to be an advocate for this wellness tour. I will be on location in the Washington, D.C. area for one of the dates listed below. I hope to see you there. You can visit the website, Walgreens.com/Tour to discover if and when the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League will visit your neighborhood.

Walgreens relationship with the National Urban League empowers individuals with knowledge and resources for the prevention and early detection of today’s leading chronic diseases,” said John Gremer, Walgreens director of community affairs. “Together with the National Urban League, we are committed to providing urban and at-risk communities access to valuable health tests that deliver key insights and assist individuals in the pursuit of happier and healthier lives. The continuation of the Wellness Tour is just one of the ways we deliver on that promise.


If you have not treated yourself to anything in awhile, perhaps this is the place to start. You deserve the best you. Start your journey to self-care and give your mind, body and spirit a new, healthy outlook on life. This free service will only take approximately 20 minutes of your time, but can possibly add a few more years onto your life. Are you ready to give wellness a try?

Leave a comment below with the city and state of a stop on the wellness tour that is close to your neighborhood.

Stay in-the-know. Follow these social accounts:
@Walgreens on Twitter | Facebook
@National Urban League on Twitter | Facebook
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Disclosure Information
This is a sponsored post. I am a blogger advocate for the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League and will be compensated for my time. All opinions and views are my own.

 
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