It’s Never Too Early #RSVawareness #PreemieProtection

 

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with MedImmune and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own. 

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As many of you know, one of my greatest passions in life is raising public awareness of spina bifida and the challenges that affect people living with SB, as well as the accomplishments, talents, and abilities of these very people.

Along the way, I have become aware of so many other worthy causes, in particular other serious conditions and illnesses that also deserve awareness and publicity. It is in sharing information about these causes that I find great purpose.

November 17th is World Prematurity Day. (It’s actually the day after my birthday!)

With many wonderful awareness initiatives, walks, and fundraisers that now take place nationally, it’s awesome to see that much of the public is now more informed about the incidence of premature births.

What many don’t know about, however, is a disease that affects many premature babies– respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

It was the lack of awareness of spina bifida that encouraged me to begin writing this blog in the first place. And now, it’s the lack of awareness of RSV among parents that has compelled me to partner with MedImmune to share this vital, potentially life-saving, information. 

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RSV is a very common seasonal virus that affects nearly 100% of babies by the age of 2. 

Here are some fast facts about RSV and prematurity that  every parent needs to know: 

  • Each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely
  • 75% of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity (birth at or before 37 weeks gestation)
  •  Most pregnant women don’t ask their healthcare provider about the risk of delivering prematurely and the potential consequences of preterm birth for their child
  • Severe RSV disease is the leading cause of infant hospitalizations in the U.S., with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 200 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV season usually occurs from November through March for most of the U.S., but it varies regionally, and from year to year.

 

Most of the moms I’ve befriended or who befriend me on social media have a child with spina bifida. As pillars of strength and examples of grace and perseverance for their families, these women would do anything for their families, and it would break my heart to hear of one of their children falling ill with RSV, especially with everything else they already have to deal with because of spina bifida. 

This is why I feel it’s so important for me to share the symptoms and warning signs to look out for when diagnosing RSV. Parents, please be on high alert if your child exhibits any of these symptoms: 

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the lips, mouth, or fingernails
  •  Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F [rectal] in infants under 3 months of age)

There is no specific treatment for RSV disease, so prevention is your best bet. That being said, here are a few simple parents should take to help reduce the risk of your child getting RSV, particularly during high season, which is from November through March:

 

  • Understand the risk factors and ask your child’s pediatrician if your child may be at increased risk
  • Wash your hands and ask others to do the same
  • Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean
  • Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season

 

Yes, this information may seem very overwhelming, and I’m sure that it’s nothing that parents want to even think about. But, as the tired old saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry,” and by taking the proper precautions, parents, especially those whose children have other health issues, will have one less thing to worry about. 

And it’s never too early– or premature— to take good care of our children!

For more information and tips, you can visit www.RSVprotection.com.

 

Can Beauty Sense Trump Genetics? ALLERGYFACE™

This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of Latina Bloggers Connect and the makers of ZYRTEC®.

 
People say you can’t escape your heredity, your genetic fate.

 

Years ago, my parents told me the story of a conversation they had while they were still dating. Both Mami and Papi were prone to severe allergies, and their relationship was already heading towards marriage.

 

“You know,” said Papi, “When we have a child, he or she is going to be extremely allergic.”

 

“That’s true,” Mami said, in response to his observation. “Pobrecito.”

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been plagued by my genes– both a product and a victim of a genetic predisposition to allergies. Both my parents are prone to both seasonal– and year-round– allergies, as is my grandmother. Indeed, noses “run” in our family!

When I was about five years old, I was tested to find out just how prone I might be to developing allergies. While I don’t know all the specifics, I remember my parents telling me that a score of 100 was considered “normal,” and anything above 100 wasn’t. 
 
I scored above 800. Holy moly. Indeed, my heredity had totally betrayed me.

While there is little I can do to prevent being allergic to certain things– like shellfish, or the pollen of many different trees– there’s a lot I can do to prevent allergies interfering with my life. Almost every day, especially during the spring allergy season, I take an antihistamine like Zyrtec to help alleviate some of the symptoms like sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.

But when it comes to disguising those annoying symptoms, I hardly know what to do. This is why I’m so excited to participate in Zyrtec’s ALLERGYFACE™ campaign, which has taught me a few tricks of the make-up trade to help conceal when allergies are getting the best of me.

 

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A few musts for me on an allergy-prone day are: using eyedrops, avoiding any strong perfumes, and avoiding the use of eyeliner, as it tends to bother me when my eyes get itchy.

 

Fortunately, Zyrtec has partnered with beauty and fashion expert Carmen Ordoñez of Viva Fashion blog to bring us all some great tips for disguising that dreaded ALLERGYFACE™. This will be a three-part series on YouTube.com/Zyrtec featuring the best tips for disguising your allergy symptoms.

 

Watch the video below as she takes us through some ideas to hide puffy face, watery eyes, and a red nose.

Stay tuned for the release of parts two and three of Carmen’s video series, to be distributed in the summer and fall, respectively. 

A big thanks to Zyrtec and Carmen Ordoñez (@VivaFashion) for giving us the tools and know-how to put our best face forward– even when we’re not feeling our best! Take that, ALLERGYFACE™!

 

At least that’s one victory for me in the battle against my genes! 😉

 

What’s your story about how allergies have affected your life? Do you have any tips for combating ALLERGYFACE™? Don’t forget to Tweet using the #ALLERGYFACE and #ZYRTEC hashtags on Twitter, and “like” ZYRTEC on Facebook to join the conversation.

 

–Laurita :)

 

I’m Catching a Ride to #Hispz13 with #ToyotaLatino!

 

Yes, it’s true. Once again, I’m heading to the Hispanicize conference in Miami! Only this time, *I’m shifting gears* and “catching a ride” with my friends over at Toyota.

Although this will be my very first time partnering with Toyota for anything, I daresay we’re both entering uncharted territory here. As their first blogger sponsoree, I’ll be setting a precedent for future bloguer@s interested in partnering with this amazing automotive brand.

 

 

My assignment: to be the official correspondent for Toyota during Hispanicize! Oh em gee!  

I’m unbelievably excited about this opportunity, and my mission is to meet and interact with as many people as I can during the week, to find out what they’re up to, and also to share with attendees my experience traveling to the event in a Toyota vehicle (which will be announced later!).

Of course, the second part of my mission is to absorb as much Miami culture as I can, because I love that city. I wish I could live much closer to a town with such a flair for all things Latino. So, I will be doing my part to share with you as much as I can of the sights, smells, sounds, and flavors of Miami! To get the full experience, please be sure to stop by my other blog, Espresso con Leche, where I’ll be elaborating on my culinary, musical, and all-things-cultural perspective of Miami!

Also, during the conference, I’ll be Tweeting from two Twitter accounts: @Laurita86 and @EspressoYLeche, and I’ll be using the hashtags #Hispz13 and #ToyotaLatino. And…don’t forget to follow my friends over at @ToyotaLatino on Twitter, and to “like” them on Facebook

I want to give a very special shout-out and gracias to Janice Lusky Greenspan of PRecise Communications, and to my dear, longtime amigo, Javier Moreno, for making this all possible. 

I also owe an overwhelming amount of gratitude to Hispanicize founder and CEO Manny Ruiz, who invited me to moderate a session called: “Blogs with a Cause: Meet the Bloggers Devoted to Social Good” panel on Saturday!

I’ll have the honor of introducing some amazing movers and shakers in the social media sphere:

I simply cannot say enough about these women to actually do justice to their labors of love. You’ll just have to wait until Saturday. 😉

Above all, I need to thank Godseriously. You have Blessed me so richly and abundantly, more than I could ever possibly deserve or imagine!

To all of my friends looking forward to learning more about entertainment, technology, social media, and marketing– ¡nos vemos in Miami!

 

😉  Laurita

Your Journey: Who is Riding Shotgun?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive some compensation.

 

They say the journey is as important as, if not more important than, the destination. It sounds cliché, but you know what? I believe it.

As the new year kicks into full swing, I can’t help but reflect on how much has changed– and how much my life has changed– since springs past.

Spring is supposed to be a time of “renewal” and “change.” In reality, every season of every year can bring changes, good or bad.

Although I no longer have a designated spring break per sé, this past spring break was quite the memorable one, having been named one of La Prensa’s Mujeres Destacadas (Outstanding Women) in the Central Florida community earlier this month. I will be eternally grateful to those who have supported me, encouraged me, and advised me throughout the years. But I also need to take a moment to reflect on how I’ve managed to help myself, because personal growth has been such an important factor in the equation of my life.

Overwhelmed with joy at receiving the “Young Leader” award during La Prensa’s Mujeres Destacadas ceremony, alongside some pretty amazing women. The most amazing of all, Mami, is to my left. :)

 

If someone had told me five years ago that I was going to become a blogger, I would have laughed in their face. Hard. I didn’t think I knew how to “do the social media thing.” What I really wanted to be was a traditional journalist– in either  print or television broadcast media.

I remember in 2008, attending a ceremony for a journalism scholarship I received from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I couldn’t believe I had been selected for such an honor. It was completely unexpected. That trip to New York City in March proved to be one of the most memorable spring breaks of my life, as I shared that moment with my family.

Fast-forward to five years later. I have a lot more confidence than I used to at that time, and I realize now that people are often really seeing me, and not my spina bifida. To me, that is just amazing, after a lifetime of fighting to be seen and heard for my own merits, and not my physical traits.

 

Carrying a lovely floral arrangement during the NAHJ Scholarship Gala in 2008, in New York City.

 

That Saturday evening in March, when I stood up in shock to receive the Mujeres Destacadas award, I marveled at how it had all come to pass. As I looked around the room, I saw many faces I recognized, starting with my mother’s. My family has been with me through all the vacations, the road trips, the plane rides, and yes, many a spring break, whether here or elsewhere.

I realize now that it really doesn’t matter where you’re going, or what you’re actually doing on the journey. We each have our own personal journey, and what matters is who chooses to ride shotgun with you. 😉

 

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own.

 

 

Make the 2012 ‘Nice’ List: A BRITAX BOB Stroller Giveaway!

With the holidays already here, many families have already celebrated Hanukkah, and many more are gearing up for Christmas, as well as commemorating other special days with family and close friends.

But of course, the holidays aren’t just about getting presents, or even giving presents. They’re about taking the time to give of ourselves and reach out to others who are not as fortunate as we are.

This year, I was able to raise over $2,300 for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. And guess what? Donations are still open! I’m not mentioning this at all to “toot my own horn,” so to speak. But really, it’s about the power of social media and a wonderful community to make a big difference. Donations are still open and definitely welcome!

This Christmas, I also decided I wanted to participate in one of the many “Angel Tree” gift collections going on, this particular one being held at my Church. Angel Trees are fast becoming a tradition for many non-profit organizations and charities. The way it works is that you visit an Angel Tree at a specific location (say, a mall, Church, or school) and take one of the paper angels from the tree. The angel has the information of a person (often a child) who might otherwise not be able to receive a gift this year. The person’s task is then to purchase a new, unwrapped gift for the child and return it to the Angel Tree location.

I was surprised at how eager I was to participate this year. I chose to buy for a little girl, and I enjoyed visiting the toys’ section of a retail store and picking out princess-themed toys and clothes.

Strangely enough, it was not the events of December 14th which inspired me to take part in the Angel Tree tradition. I did this before. But now, reflecting on the tragedy that has happened recently, it reminds me not to take the lives of anyone– particularly young children– for granted.

So, I encourage you all, whether it’s participating in a local or national charity event, making cards for children who are in a hospital, or simply taking the time to reach out to a friend or relative who’s going through a difficult time– to take that step and touch the life of someone else.

I’m probably nowhere near making the “nice list,” but I do enjoy giving back and hope that even the smallest of my actions will make a difference to someone, somewhere.

In celebration of the holidays, I’m giving away a BRITAX BOB stroller (valued at over $400) to a lucky reader!

 

*Pictured stroller is similar, but not necessarily the exact stroller, that the winner will receive.  

 

Last year, BRITAX announced the acquisition of BOB, “a leading, innovative, high-quality maker of jogging strollers.”

The BOB strollers are compatible with BRITAX’s line of car seats, making it super-easy for you to protect your child, no matter where you are on the go– in the car, or in the stroller.

How to Enter to Win a BRITAX BOB Stroller: 

  • Using the Rafflecopter form below, there will be one (1) mandatory entry and several optional entries you can choose for extra entries.
  • For the mandatory entry,  please comment below as to how you plan to make the “Nice List” this year. Good deeds should be done for their own merit, not for getting a pat on the back, but feel free to “brag” here and feel proud of what you’ve done or plan to do! The goal here is to inspire everyone to take action, in whatever way possible.
  • For additional entries, do any or all of the additional entries using the Rafflecopter form. Each action you take will earn you one (1) extra entry.
  • Entries will close on Wednesday, December 26th at 11:55 p.m.
  • A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, December 27th and announced on this blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!

Love & Blessings during the season and always,

Laurita ♥

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own.

30 Days of Thanks– & Reflections

Yes, I’ve been *quiet* on here for a while. No, my silence is not to be interpreted as meaning that nothing has happened with me. Everything has happened, and I’ve done my best to keep you all updated on the highlights via my Facebook page and Twitter account.

For starters, I turned 26 last month. I didn’t think I would be looking forward to it, but the week before my birthday, my family planned a last-minute trip to Puerto Rico, since we’re not going this Christmas. I ended up staying longer than a week, and ringing in my birthday with some of my favorite ladies!

We didn’t really plan on staying for Thanksgiving, so that was an unexpected surprise, too. While from a tourist’s perspective, this wasn’t probably the most eventful vacation on the island, I have to say, I think I explored Puerto Rico a lot more than I had anticipated. (I will be updating more on that on my other blog, Espresso con Leche soon!)

The highlight of everything was having the unexpected opportunity to spend both my birthday and Thanksgiving, as well as several other treasured moments, with family and close friends. I didn’t realize just how homesick I had been.

After I returned, as I caught up on my Facebook feed, I read posts from anguished parents who are already having to spend the holidays with a child who has complications from spina bifida. That’s always hard for me to read, as I look at everything I’ve been blessed with, and feel unworthy.

But, I realize that the most important thing is to not take any of it– or anyone– for granted.

It is with this thought in mind that I finally caved into the earliest holiday social media trend– by participating in the “30 Days of Thanks” daily habit. Each day, or night, I would post one thing I was grateful for in my life. I quickly found that keeping up with this routine is easier said than done, and I would often have to catch up the following day with two things I was grateful for. But, no matter– there were plenty of things to come up with.

Each day, I posted my gratitude for abstract concepts like “time” and “faith,” or for more tangible (or audible?) things, like my parents, my laptop, and my bilingualism.

On “Day 10,” I thanked my amazing Spina Bifida community! Words truly can’t adequately express just how Blessed I feel that you’re all a part of this journey with me. I’ve learned a lot, especially from the moms, who have given me the gift of a perspective I never imagined I’d have. You’ve all taught me so much about what true sacrifice and devotion is.

And last night– as I sat down to reflect on what I’m grateful for, for the very last time, I realized I wasn’t even close to being finished. But, I did want to end in a way that is open-ended and subject to wide interpretation. I thanked God for my faith, because without it, nothing could have sustained me throughout the challenging times.

I realize that people, events, things, and often even places will let you down, but faith is a steadfast pillar of support, the cornerstone of endurance. So, whether it’s faith in God, faith in the inherent goodness of humanity, faith in the power of something so simple as a smile, I hope you have this and that it helps keep you warm at night, like it has for me.

To the parents who have been Blessed with a child with spina bifida, I say, keep doing what you’re doing, and keep cherishing those wonderful moments, because believe me, there will be more of these if you just hang on.

Thank you all for your continued support, and thank you God for Blessing me with another amazing year of life.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

Have “The Talk” With Girls About Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is sort of a bizarre topic for me. Not that I don’t take it seriously, but that my own personal story of self-esteem is unevenly peppered with peaks and pitfalls. 

I think it’s safe to say I’ve written extensively here about my own self-image, first for the highly popular post Standing on My Own Two Feet, then a few months ago, right after I did the BlogHer ’12 Fashion Show.

Still, it seems to be a very sensitive topic for women, young and old, and I feel it’s a responsibility for adults like me to share personal stories like those linked above, in order to help defeat the pervasive notion that there is only one precise standard of beauty.

That’s why I’m especially proud to partner with Dove for what I believe is a truly inspired campaign!

Dove is leading a bilingual campaign called “Let’s Talk” (“Hablemos”) through their Web sites “Making Life Better” and “Vive Mejor.” The initiative offers tips and resources that might be helpful when talking to a young girl about self-esteem issues.

Why do I feel strongly about this campaign?

 

Well, the easy answer for me is that I’ve lived with self-esteem issues all my life, and am making it only because of a wonderful, solid support system.

But, don’t take my word for it. Instead, let’s look at some disturbing facts shared by Dove:

 

  • Six out of 10 girls will stop doing the things they love because they feel bad about their looks.
  • 72 percent of girls ages 10 to 17 feel “tremendous pressure” to be beautiful
  • Only 11 percent of girls ages 10 to 17 are comfortable using the word “beautiful” to describe themselves
  • When feeling bad about their physical appearance, more than 60 percent of girls globally (ages 15 to 17) will avoid normal daily activities, like “attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion.”

Say what?

Take it from someone who knows the pain all too well—this is unacceptable.

We have the responsibility, as a community, (and I mean “community” in a very broad sense! We’re all in this.) to let all young girls know just how strong, beautiful and smart they are—how capable they are. 

If we don’t act fast—we risk feeling the loss of this next generation of women in the STEM fields, in the arts, in sports, in politics—in everything.   

What is Dove doing about this?

 

Several big-name organizations that help girls have partnered with Dove, including Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., and Boys & Girls Clubs.

More than half of girls around the world say that their mother is their number one female role model. Moms can take this opportunity to talk to their daughters about beauty. According to Dove, something as simple as starting a conversation can make a difference in self-esteem.

“Let’s Talk” is also the theme of Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, which will take place October 5-7, across the nation. Dove’s partner organizations will be hosting events around the country. Wal-Mart stores will set up designated areas where women can stop by and share an encouraging message with girls.  

We can also do our part online by joining the conversation on Facebook and on Twitter by using the hashtag #DoveInspired.

Maybe my own turbulent childhood– filled with equal parts encouragement from my family, and ostracism from my peers– is the reason why I never hesitate to tell my young cousins, ages 10 and 8, just how beautiful they are and how proud I am of their accomplishments so far. This isn’t difficult for me to do, as I am very proud of them and love them.

I feel if I indulge them with praise and encouragement, have nothing to lose.

But we have everything to gain. 

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dove and Latina Bloggers Connect and I will be compensated. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

Get a FREE Baby Carrier When You Purchase a B-Agile Stroller

 For all you parents of young children, you’ll want to read on to find out about this great deal from Britax!

Until September 30th, when you buy a B-Agile Stroller, you will get a baby carrier FREE. Yep, I said the magic word! 

Get a FREE baby carrier with the purchase of the B-Agile stroller. Sweet deal, eh?

 

This innovative stroller is “Travel System compatible” with Britax car seats, as well as with other major car seat brands, when used with the Britax infant car seat adapter (sold separately). 

 

The three-wheel stroller is designed to improve steering and maneuverability, and when it comes to your little one’s comfort, the possibilities for reclining are endless! Plus, with the All-Wheel Suspension, your tot is guaranteed to have a smooth ride. 

Check out this entertaining video featuring the quirky members of Britax’s B-Ready Stroller Street Team! They took New York City by storm as they demonstrated the strollers to eager parents. One lucky dad was the winner of a stroller for his child! This is perhaps the best way to see these sets of wheels in action. 

 

 

So, parents, don’t wait too long to get this high-tech set of wheels for your child. You only have a week before this opportunity rolls on by. 

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own.