Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lift Up Atlanta Seeks Help From The Community For Thanksgiving Food Drive

It's almost that time of year.  Where we gather with family and friends and chow down on some delicious and savory holiday dishes.  I love this time of year. A lot of people are not as fortunate to have all the delicious food at their fingertips. Lift Up Atlanta ( goal this holiday season is to feed 300 needy families this Thanksgiving and they need YOUR help to do this.

You can get together with your family, friends, co-workers, church or group members and neighbors to collect Thanksgiving food items such as canned vegetables and fruit, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, onions, cranberry sauce, stuffing/dressing, aluminum baking pans, apples, oranges and any food you would like to eat on Thanksgiving.

They also need $20 gift cards for the turkey or ham and any perishable food items.  You can donate the gift card or donate on our website Lift Up Atlanta is in need of medium boxes and bags for the Thanksgiving "baskets".  Please donate if you have them.

Volunteers are also needed to help sort, organize and distribute to the families on November 15th at Scotty's Thrifty Storage, 3120 Medlock Bridge Rd, Suite 100, Building K (in the rear of the business park), Norcross, GA.

You can sponsor one family or just donate whatever you can to make the basket. You can either drop off your items at their sorting party at Scotty's Thrifty Storage, 3120 Medlock Bridge Rd, Suite 100, Building K (in the rear of the business park), Norcross, GA for sorting and distribution or drop off at one of the following locations beforehand.

You are free to sign up to volunteer on the following link

Watch Partial Solar Eclipse This Thursday at Fernbank Science Center

On Thursday October 23rd, the Moon will move in front of the Sun, partially blocking our nearby star in what astronomers call a solar eclipse.  The event will be visible in Atlanta very late in the afternoon, from 6:01 p.m. until sunset at 6:52 p.m., with approximately 25 percent of the Sun covered by the Moon.  From the Fernbank Observatory, the Sun will only be about ten degrees above the western horizon at the start of the eclipse.  Please note that we will lose the setting Sun in the western tree-line prior to actual sunset.

Astronomers at Fernbank Science Center will host activities in concert with the solar eclipse, including a special planetarium program, an observatory open house (weather permitting), and a live web-based broadcast from the Griffith Observatory on the west coast.  Please see the schedule below for complete details:
Solar Eclipse Planetarium Program:    5:30 – 6:00 p.m. - Free
Solar Eclipse Telescope Viewing:        6:00 – 6:30 p.m.- Free 
Live Remote Eclipse Coverage:           6:30 – 7:00 p.m. - Free
 “Black Holes” Planetarium Program:   7:00 – 7:45 p.m.
Chasing the Ghost Particle” Planetarium Program: 8:00 – 8:45 p.m.
Evening Observatory Open House:     8:45 – 10:30 p.m.

Remember that directly viewing a partial eclipse of the Sun can cause permanent eye damage.  Never look directly at the Sun!  Astronomers at Fernbank Science Center will utilize safe ways to view the event, including solar filters and other techniques to safely project the image of the partially eclipsed Sun.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meghan Trainor Gives a Surprise Visit to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Seacrest Studios

During a surprise visit to Seacrest Studios, Meghan Trainor made Children's Healthcare of Atlanta patients feel like they were the real celebrities in the house. The singer's mega hit “All About that Bass” has become an smash hit, peaking the number one at Billboard for several weeks.

THE VOICE at Seacrest Studios is located in the lobby of Children’s at Egleston. THE VOICE at Seacrest Studios is on the air Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. During this time, patients can come to the studio to learn about radio or introduce songs over the air. They can record greetings and play games with other patients or the center’s interns. Some patients have even returned to perform.

Patients at Children’s at Scottish Rite and Children’s at Hughes Spalding may watch and listen to THE VOICE at Seacrest Studios by tuning to Channel 12 on their TV. Any patient can call THE VOICE at Seacrest Studios to request a song, do a shout-out to a favorite doctor or nurse or ask a question to a special guest.

Photo credit: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

How Apple's Siri Became an Autistic Boy Favorite Sidekick

In a piece for The New York Times, Judith Newman explores her son's relationship with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his best friend.

Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked.

There are many sweet passages in Newman's story, but the best parts are the conversations between Gus and Siri.

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”
Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”
Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”
Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”
Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”
Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”
Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”
Siri: “See you later!”

It’s not that Gus doesn’t understand Siri’s not human. He does — intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realized this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. “So it can visit its friends,” he said.

Regarding how Siri has helped her son Gus to improve his verbal skills, she explains:

Gus speaks as if he has marbles in his mouth, but if he wants to get the right response from Siri, he must enunciate clearly. She is also wonderful for someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues: Siri’s responses are not entirely predictable, but they are predictably kind — even when Gus is brusque. I heard him talking to Siri about music, and Siri offered some suggestions. “I don’t like that kind of music,” Gus snapped. Siri replied, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Siri’s politeness reminded Gus what he owed Siri. “Thank you for that music, though,” Gus said. Siri replied, “You don’t need to thank me.” “Oh, yes,” Gus added emphatically, “I do.”

Read the full story here.

*Illustrations by Louie Chin.

The Teal Pumpkin Project Makes Halloween Safe For Children With Food Allergies #TealPumpkinProject

Four out of 100 children have some sort of food allergy. Halloween can be a fun holiday for kids, but when you are a kid dealing with food allergies, things like nut-filled candy can be the bogeyman that can ruin the fun. This Halloween, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is encouraging communities to start a new tradition that will help make this holiday season less scary for children with food allergies: the Teal Pumpkin Project

This campaign encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal - the color of food allergy awareness - to place in front of their house along with a free printable sign from FARE to indicate they have non-food treats available. 

The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.

Ideas for Non-food Treats  

Available at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops, these low-cost items can be purchased and handed out to all trick-or-treaters, or made available in a separate bowl from candy if you choose to hand out both options. Nearly all of these items can be found in a Halloween theme or festive colors.

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

Spread the Word

Help raise awareness of food allergies and this initiative during the Halloween season by sharing on social media using hashtag #TealPumpkinProject. Click the images to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Straight Talk Safe Driving Event Gives Teens A Chance To Learn How To Stay Safe On The Road

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Straight Stalk.


Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic on America's roads, particularly among teens that are confident in their ability to text or talk while driving. In the United States, injury resulting from motor vehicle crashes is the leading cause of death for young people ages 15 - 20. The sad reality is that with all the advances in technology and teen distracted driving policies and programs available, we still haven't been able to find an effective solution to reduce the risk of car crashes for young novice drivers.

As a mother of a teen that's expected to drive within a year, I fear for her safety. I try to teach by example -- practice good driving habits, have road manners, restrain from using the phone while driving, and obey traffic rules, but the reality is there are so many unexpected driving hazards, that it is impossible to feel that you have done enough to help them avoid crashes or lower their risk behind the wheel.

To raise awareness about the risks distracted driving, our friends at Straight Talk, in conjunction with Driver’s Edge, will be launching the Straight Talk Safe Driver Initiative with an event this Friday (10/17). Straight Talk will show how their recently launched Safe Driver Car Connection device can help against distracted driving in time for National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 19 - 25).

The Straight Talk Safe Driver event will take place on Friday, October 17 from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Six Flags Over Georgia.

If you’re in the area, please feel free to register and experience the driving course for yourself. See first-hand how distractions can affect your driving and learn more about the Safe Driver Car Connection device available with Straight Talk.

If interested in attending the event, please register here: If you cannot make the event, be sure to follow #STSafeDriver on Twitter for real-time updates!

If you are unfamiliar with Straight Talk Safe Driver Car ConnectionTM this is basically a genius, easy-to-use device that plugs into your car’s computer system (OBD-II port) to help monitor, manage and maintain your family’s vehicles.

This little device is one of the best investments a parent can make if they want to eliminate the number one distraction on the road, texting while driving.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Clever Halloween Ideas

Keep Calm Halloween is Coming

There are less than 3 weeks until Halloween so it's time to start thinking about what you want your little ones to be. I personally love DIY costumes because they are fun, personal and unique. Homemade costumes when they are well made and thought out can make you feel like a rockstar. All eyes are on you because you are the only one with a clever costume that's unique and different from the norm. If you need some inspiration to help you get in a spooktacular mood, head to our Halloween Pinterest board for costumes ideas, crafts, printables and halloween decor.

Virgin Mobile USA Launches Virgin Mobile Custom – Fully Customizable Family-Friendly Cell Phone Plan with Rich Parental Controls #CustomMom #SprintMom

I recently had the chance to visit the Sprint Executive Briefing Center in Atlanta, as a "Sprint Mom", to learn about their new mobile prepaid plan for Virgin Mobile USA. These days prepaid phones are a smart option because they can be customized to your lifestyle and let's you take control of your spending. The new Virgin Mobile Custom™, lets families to have a phone with no-annual-contract, free parental controls and the ability to tailored your rate plans anytime you want, right there at the palm of your hands. No need to call, or visit a store.

What's fascinating about this phone is the ability to activate up to five lines for as little as $6.98 per line per month. A basic line comes with 20 texts and 20 voice minutes, or the Unlimited plan for $35 with unlimited talk and text. Customers can also purchase only unlimited texting for $10 or only unlimited voice for $18.

Virgin Mobile Custom is available on three devices: ZTE Emblem™ for $79.88, LG Pulse™ for $99.88, or LG Unify™ for $129.88 available exclusively at select Walmart stores (excludes taxes). Features on these three Android™-powered smartphones include a large touchscreen display, 5-megapixel rear-facing cameras, front-facing cameras for video calls, Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi.

There are so many things I like about  Virgin Mobile Custom™. Here's a few of my favorite features: 

1. Price: Basic line is $6.98.

The basic line is extremely affordable and if you have kids and have been thinking about getting them a phone for emergencies but you are afraid they are not ready because they tend to loose everything except their heads this is the phone for you. I mean who wants to pay for a replacement and be forced to sign up for an extra year on top of your two-year agreement? Not me!

The phone runs on Android and has an SD card so the kids will most likely use the phone to download apps, play games and listen to music. It is wifi friendly so thay can download apps that can allow them to place and receive calls (and texts) over the internet.

2. Rich Parental Controls

The account owner can restrict restrict to specific times the use of apps like facebook, twitter, snapchat, youtube, instagram and pinterest. Don't want your teen checking Instagram during family time os school time? You can tell thephone to disable the app for an hour, two hours or permanently.

3. Customization

One of the great things about Virgin Mobile Custom™ is that it allows you to customize your plan to your lifestyle. The Custom plan offers several options extras like all-you-can-eat data for specific networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Unlimited access to those apps costs $5 each (per phone) or $15 for all four. A similar deal exists for music, letting you stream all you want from Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud, iHeartRadio and Shazam for an extra $5 A month.

Have a 12 year old that's not interested in texting, but loves watching videos on youtube? Add the unlimited youtube option to a basic line and pay only $11.96 per month.

Have a daughter addicted to texting and instagram? Add unlimited texting and unlimited instagram for an aditional $15 dollars. Monthly bill $21.95. Yes, you can have a heart attack now!

Have a teen that loves listening to music and likes to call their friends after school? Add unlimited voice and unlimited radio streaming and pay $29.98!

Are you a social media maven that is frequently texting? Are are constantly checking pinterest, facebook, twitter, and instagram? You can add unlimited social media access , plus unlimited texting to your basic line for $20, making your monthly bill to $26.98! New more phone minutes? Add 250 minutes extra for $3.00!

Now, always remember that all Virgin Mobile Custom phones are wifi friendly, so as long as you have wifi you can do anything that you want! Even if you decide to cancel your phone plan the phone still works over wifi, just like a tablet!

Another great option of this phone is that you no longer need to take your kids their phone away when they do something wrong. Use the parental control to disable apps and trust me that is enough to get them ticked off. You can download the Custom app on itunes or google store. Any cellphone regardless of their carrier is able to use the app and enforce parental control. 

Virgin Mobile Custom is an extension of the iconic Virgin Mobile USA brand that is part of Sprint’s Prepaid business unit and operates on the Nationwide Sprint 4G LTE Network. For more information, visit

So moms and dads what do you think? Is this something you might be interested? Tell us in the comment section below. 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Sprint. I received a phone for the purpose of review only. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Malala Yousafzai Becomes the Youngest Person To Receive the Nobel Peace Prize

TheNorwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Malala Yousafzay is the youngest person to ever receive a Nobel Peace prize. She has fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.

Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.  He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Goodnight, NICU: Sleeping Babies Dream Big in Photo Series

Every year, more than 2,500 infants in the U.S. die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the unexplained, sudden death of an infant under 1 year old. As the number one cause of death among infants aged 1 month to 1 year, SIDS is a terrifying reality that thousands of families have faced. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hopes to raise awareness about the importance of creating a safe sleep environment, so that babies can grow up to be all they dream about during their nighttime adventures.

To launch our safe sleep guidelines, our friends at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have created an imaginative photo series -From the NICU to the Moon- that dreams about what our sleeping NICU babies might become someday- an astronaut? A ballerina? A Top Chef? A doctor? Maybe even an Olympian? If the size of the fight in their tiny bodies is any indication, these babies have big things in store for the world.

Visit Safe Sleep hub to find tips for keeping your baby safe through all of his dreamy adventures.

About the photos: The big dreamers were photographed in the NICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite on Aug. 29, 2014. Each of these little ones came into the world between 25 and 37 weeks gestation with legs barely thicker than a pencil. They’ve already earned nicknames: Future Doctor is “Wild One” and Future Gymnast is “Squirmy.” As of Oct. 6, 2014, Future Astronaut is home with his family, and the others continue to dream with us in the NICU.

5y/o Autistic Artist and Her Adorable Cat Show Us What Real Friendship Is all About

The other day I came across with a cute story about an autistic girl and her therapy cat Thula. Her name is Iris Grace, a 5 year old with an extraordinary talent to express herself through painting. Many art experts are comparing her to Monet, founder of French Impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting.

Iris Grace parents disclosed on their website that they have been encouraging Iris to paint to help with speech therapy, joint attention and turn taking.

"Then we realized that she is actually really talented and has an incredible concentration span of around 2 hours each time she paints. I make up some cups of very watery paints, she chooses which one she would like to use and gets me to make more when she needs it and she mixes her own colours from mug to mug. Her autism has created a style of painting which I have never seen in a child of her age, she has an understanding of colours and how they interact with each other. She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood every time."

Iris Gace is such a cute adorable girl but equally adorable is her Maine Coon cat Thula, that seems to pay attention to everything she does and follows her everywhere, including the bath tub! Thula has become a therapy pet for Iris Grace.

Thula has lowered [Iris'] daily anxieties in life and keeps Iris calm,Iris’ mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, told Bored Panda, “but equally has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She will talk more to Thula, saying little phrases like ‘sit cat.’

Maine Coon Cats are know to be "gentle giants". They are intelligent, trainable, described as “dog like”. A Maine coon will follow you around but, instead of getting in the way, will observe what you are doing. They will look you directly in the eye when you are talking to them, and they will usually respond. Instead of the typical meow sound, the Maine coon has more of a chirp, giving them another special characteristic. Most Maine Coon Cats have a fondness of water, to be in it, watch it, wash their food in it, or just plain play in it, so we are not be surprised to see Iris and Thula playing in the tub.

Iris and Thula are a good reminder that all living things matter and they are placed on this planet for a purpose. Thousands of cats that are euthanized every year because there are more pets than there are responsible homes for them. Please consider adopting a cat at a local shelter rather than getting one at a local pet shop. 

If you want to follow Iris Grace's incredible journey, and learn more about her art, painting auctions and check out her amazing online shop please visit: irisgracepainting or visit her Facebook page.

*All photos provided by Iris Grace Facebook page. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sticky Fingers Chicken Wings with Manwich BBQ Sauce

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Love chicken wings? Today we are sharing a fall-off-the-bone delicious sticky fingers chicken wings recipe that is perfect when you are craving that sweet, saucy smokey goodness from a BBQ joint. For the sauce we are making our own BBQ sauce using Manwich, a hearty sauce with a sweet and tangy taste. There is no meat in Manwich cans making it perfect for sandwiches, pastas and more. I think the combination of Manwich and chicken wings is something most people wouldn't normally pair together but trust me Manwich has infinite uses besides sloppy joes.
This recipe is an adaptation of the saucy chicken wings recipe from the Manwich recipe page. The key to this recipe is that in order to make the BBQ sauce you need to mix all the ingredients first and cook them over low heat.

For the sticky-finger fall-off-the-bone recipe you will need:
  • 1 can (15 oz each) Manwich® Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Gulden's® Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of smoke liquid
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger (this gives it an incredibly kick of flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken wing drumettes
  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray(optional)

  1. To make the Manwich BBQ sauce combine Manwich® Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce, mustard, brown sugar, liquid smoke, ginger, salt and red pepper and mix slowly at low heat for about 5 minutes. Let the sauce cool off, and season your wings with salt and pepper. This sauce will be used as a marinade and as a basting sauce
  2. Place chicken in large re-closable food storage bag. Add half of sauce mixture to bag; close bag and coat chicken with sauce. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover large baking sheet with aluminum foil; spray with cooking spray. Remove chicken from sauce mixture; place in single layer on baking sheet. Discard bag with remaining marinade.
  4. Bake 25 minutes. Brush chicken on both sides with reserved sauce mixture. Bake 20 minutes more or until tender.

Cook's Tips

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