Monday, October 5, 2015

Updated TB Blood Test will save more lives!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the TB Blood Test
I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

We live in an age where we have all the information in the world at our finger tips. We can find out the gender of our baby before they are born, we know instantly when our bank account is replenished or drawn from and when our friend posts about their new milestone in life. The same goes for many types of medical tests. What used to take an unimaginable amount of time (if it was even possible) now can be determined in a short amount of time. 

When I was pregnant with my first child, my midwife ran a blood test that I wasn't aware of that she had done until I received a phone call from a nurse a few weeks later. The nurse informed me that my test had come back positive as being a carrier for cystic-fibrosis. This isn't a typical test, I'm not sure why she ran it, but it's been suggested that due to my Eastern European heritage it prompted her to be on the safe side. This revelation was frightening and we had my husband tested shortly after. His results were returned in less than 48 hours; he is not a carrier. Our children have a very low likelihood of being CF positive, though they will have a good chance of being carriers, like myself.

This small amount of information was powerful. My mother was not likely tested when she was pregnant with me, but I now have the ability to share this with my children when they choose to have a family. Something as simple as knowing this information ahead of time is a huge relief.

Recently I've been doing research on Tuberculosis (TB). Why? I don't know, because I'm a mom and I tend to want to be informed at least a little bit on a lot of things. Did you know that until recently the test for TB was a 110 year old test? REALLY. I guess on one hand that's impressive that it's withstood the test of time, but on the other hand - it really wasn't that accurate and required multiple doctors visits. 

But what is TB? Isn't it a disease of the past? It's been known as the consumption, the White Plague, and the earliest known disease to man. It's not a disease of the past. It's still very possible to get it today. According to the WHOTB is spread from person to person through coughs, sneezes or spit. The germs get into the air and it only takes inhaling a few of these germs to become infected.Those with compromised immune systems have a much higher risk. Symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss etc.) may be mild for many months. It's easily confused with other common illnesses, which means it can be spread to many more people in the delay for getting tested.  Those with TB can infect up to 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year.

This is why there was a great need for the 110 year old test to become more accurate and have a faster result time. The new, revamped TB test is the only available method of testing for TB with completely objective results. Other tests, such as the skin test, are subjective and open to visual interpretation.

The new TB test is a small blood draw and provides fast, non-visually based objective results. The old "skin test" relied on two visits. On the first visit you are injected with tuberculin and if you are infected there will be a raised bump at the injection site, but this required a second doctor's visit to confirm. 

While it is a low likelihood to contract TB in the United States ("a
 total of 9,421 TB cases (a rate of 2.96 cases per 100,000 persons)"; source: CDC), knowledge is power. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

What will you find at JBF Everett/Monroe this weekend?

Last night I got shop at the Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe pre-sale event! You might I have to be a blogger to shop at this exclusive pre-sale? NO! As a matter of fact, my pre-sale pass was all thanks to being a consignor and for volunteering my time. So for the next sale, you can too! 

Anywho, as well know, I am a fan of JBF sales. Like - super fan girl - fan. Why? Because of this:

$5.88 / item on average.

This is enough to get excited for, am I right?

So as usual I snapped pictures of other fabulous things that you can find at JBF this weekend, so scroll along and check out these awesome items that local moms brought in for consignment.

 A whole aisle of Halloween / dress up costumes!

 Tons of brand new Melissa & Doug

So get yourself down to the Evergreen State Fairground this weekend!
Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe consignment sale
October 1-4 2015

Evergreen State Fairgrounds
Commercial Bldg: 14405 179th Ave SE Bldg #400
Monroe, WA

Friday October 2 20159:00a - 3:00p Public Sale Day 2, free admission!
Saturday October 3 2015
9:00a - 5:00p Public Sale Day 3, free admission!
5:30 - 7:00p HALF PRICE PRESALE! Get your early access ticket here

Sunday October 4 2015
8:00a - 2:00p Half Price Sale - all items without a star are 50% off!
This is an abbreviated schedule; please see the full event schedule here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by JBF Everett/Monroe. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Welcome to Skagit County, Just Between Friends of Marysville & Mount Vernon!

It's been a long time coming! Skagit County is getting ready to welcome the Just Between Friends consignment sale to the Skagit County Fairgrounds Pavilion from October 16-18, 2015.

Just Between Friends is a nationwide consignment event that takes place several times per year, typically in the fall and spring. Washington State boasts almost a dozen locations and the newest one is being held for the Marysville and Mount Vernon territory!

At "JBF" you'll find everything you need for maternity, baby and child through teen. Local families consign their gently used and new items for 50-90% off retail prices. It's my favorite place to shop for my two children's clothes because I can get everything they need for each season for literally a fraction of the price of what I'd pay at the store. Not to mention, children outgrow clothes so quickly that it makes financial and ecological sense to buy used.

Shopping at JBF consignment sales also keeps dollars local; as all of the items are being consigned by local families. When you buy from a JBF sale, a parent in your community is getting funds back on their initial clothing investment and they in turn can keep the ball rolling in buying the next set of clothing sizes for their kids.

Over the last two years I've been paring down our baby clothes, toys and gear in storage in preparation for someday baby #3. As I become a more seasoned parent I take note of what clothing items and gear works for us best and I'm able to pass on what we're done with. I've prepped those items for JBF sales and have seriously cashed in on what was sitting in storage for over a year! Click here to learn more about how to consign with JBF and what the benefits are.

Check out my previous JBF posts to see all of the great deals that I've found!

Finally, I'm excited to introduce the awesome woman who is behind this event. I've gotten to know Sheila in real life since we met at the Just Between Friends of Everett sale almost a year ago. Since working together we've become great friends and am really excited to share about her JBF sale. Sheila has a heart for community and you'll see her sharing a ton of Skagit and Whatcom county local family events on the JBF Marysville/Mount Vernon facebook page. As she's been preparing for this brand new sale she's shared with me how excited she is to get to know the families of Skagit county.

Sheila and her JBF Marysville/Mount Vernon team are excited to get YOU shopping at this brand new event, so she's offered up the following prizes to Pierogie Mama and Bits of Sweetness readers!
Winner 1: First Pick Shopping Pass + $10 JBF Bucks (11:30am shopping time, Oct 16)
Winner 2: First Pick Shopping Pass + $10 JBF Bucks (11:30am shopping time, Oct 16)
Winner 3: PreSale Pass + $5 JBF Bucks (1:30 p.m. shopping time, Oct. 16)
Winner 4: PreSale Pass + $5 JBF Bucks (1:30 p.m. shopping time, Oct. 16)

The Just Between Friends of Marysville / Mount Vernon consignment sale is taking place 
Oct 16 - 18, 2015. 
Skagit County Fairgrounds Pavilion

1410 Virginia Street
Mt Vernon, WA 98273

Friday October 16, 2015 - Presale Day!
11:30 - 2:00 Volunteer, Consignor and Vendor Pre-sale shopping time (learn more)
2:00 - 2:30 Expectant, Foster, First-Time Parent Presale 
2:30 - 3:00 Military, Teachers Presale
3:00 - 8:00pm General admission Admission $2 or free with this Eventbrite Pass
Saturday, October 17th:
Public Sale and 1/2 Price Presale Day 
9:00a - 5:00p Free admission to public
5:30 - 7:00pm 1/2 Price Presale!
All items without a star are 1/2 off.

Sunday, October 18th: 
½ Price Day
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m Free Admission

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Family Behind The Badge: Thank A Police Officer (Part II)

This week I am honored to share two stories with you. These are the personal testimonies of two law enforcement officer wives (LEOWs), of which my husband and I are very close with their families. Right now there are a lot of politics in the news regarding the police and my goal of sharing these women's stories is to shed some light to you on what goes on behind that Badge. I am a strong supporter of law enforcement; and I believe that they are true heroes in our community that deserve as much honor as our military. 

Saturday September 19 is Thank a Police Officer Day. I encourage you to thank one if you see him or her, buy them a cup of coffee (or a gift card) and most simply - wear blue that day. A great idea is to use blue painters tape on your car's or home's window. 

This is truly often a thankless job, and as Ann (and earlier this week, Melody) will share with you, it comes at great sacrifice of themselves and often times their family too. Here's Ann's story.

My husband and I have been together since we were 15 and 16 years old.  He worked as a server at a Mexican food restaurant for 8 years and  I worked multiple odd jobs baking for a local farmer’s  market stand, in manufacturing for a small business, and in retail.  As years went by we graduated high school and a local community college, then I set forth to cosmetology school.  My then fiancĂ© struggled with what he wanted to do as a career.  I remember the moment he told me he wanted to go to the Police Academy, as we stood in the middle on his restaurant.  I hate to admit, but my comment back was, “Okay… really?  You’re not going to be one of those cops are ya?”  You see, my images of police as an adolescent were not fond memories.  Now, I look back now with different eyes.  They were just doing their job, following protocol, and keeping people safe.  I could see the excitement in his eyes with the dream of helping others, plus the benefits, early retirement, and Honor of the Badge were enticing. 

We married in 2006 at the young ages of 21 and 22.  As the thought of my husband becoming Law enforcement (LE) settled in, I became very excited, proud, and supportive.  Next began the applying, testing, and the waiting game.  He was blessed to be hired by a local Sheriff office.  Lucky for him he got to miss my whole first trimester of our first child while he was at the academy.  

He very much enjoyed the academy.  I believe he loved the camaraderie, the education, having someone push his limits, the physical fitness routines, and the thought that he would be able to make a difference in an  honorable a career.   While in the academy, our nerves were definitely rattled when we lost one of the female Deputies from his agency and five citizens, by a mental man.  It was a very tragic day for our community and Brotherhood.  I remember asking him over the phone “It’s not too late, are you sure you want to do this?” He continued on and graduated. The day I had the honor of pinning the brass on his chest I will never forget. 

Hitting the street:  He spent 8 weeks on FTO, then was deemed a commissioned Deputy. The crown-vic pulled into our driveway.  It felt like a new status.  Later on we learned having a take home vehicle is has its pros and cons.  I would say the first year of shift changes, court dates, stress, and having a very colicky newborn was a true test of our marriage.  We are now 7 years in, still pretty fresh in comparison, but we both feel very weathered. This career wears fast on the LE, their family, and lifestyle.  We have enjoyed the Brotherhood we have established, although we do not participate in many of typical police functions.  As a LEOW(wife), I am very proud of my Husband.  He is a great Deputy with compassion, a good listening ear, and quick mentality.   I have learned to pray harder than I ever have before, not to worry, flexibility is key, holidays can be any day, patience, planning, and to take on a full load feeling like a single parent sometimes.  I have learned what he does and what he doesn’t like to eat in his patrol car (some things are too messy or some finger food just feels dirty, no matter how much hand sanitizer he uses).  My husband will only wake up early while on night shift for his son’s sports games or a Seahawks game.  He enjoys living in the moment. 

When off duty, he very much switched his brain into family life, but doesn’t hesitate to help a citizen in need of loading lumber at Lowe's, assists elderly, hold open doors, acts as an undercover citizen as he witnesses a Motor Vehicle accident, but reports to dispatch the situation as an off duty deputy.  He truly has the heart of a Hero. 

Today we have a 6 year old and a 4 year old, whom are very proud of their Daddy.  Our son keeps  saying he would love to be a police officer.  The kids also enjoy Dad showing up in uniform at school or for sports events, so they can show him off.  They often get confused about which shift dad is working or to be quiet while he sleeps. But we do our best and I have so much compassion for his emotional and physically hard work.  

But today things are different, than 7 years ago…  I am very aware of the floods of Police Supporters and families.  I am also very aware of the escalated hatred, threats, and disgust toward men and woman who bear the badge.  There are days I pray and feel my husband should just keep holding his head high, trust the Lord is cloaking him.  Then there are days where I doubt if it is worth it to go  fight a battle that can’t be won.  Evil will keep creeping into people souls, drugs will continue, the jails will be full, crime will accelerate as desperate people do desperate things.  I have seen him come home with stories of success and courage. I have seen him come home with defeat, bruises, and a broken spirit.  These Men and Women are a different breed of human.  Yes there are some who make bad choices.  But the majority work hard, follow the rules, and are such great assets to their communities.  

I will not hide my LEO Pride.  Those trying to scare the peace officers and their families are cowards. I have Faith on my side.   Our LE life will keep chugging along until retirement or until my husband decided to ‘tap out’ and change careers.  Whatever he chooses he has my support.  Any chance I have, I continue to urge people to Thank any Police Officer they meet to show their support and gratitude.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they shall be called sons of God.”
-Mathew 5:9

 (save image and print from home)

If you are local to Skagit County (Washington State), please see this fundraiser:

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Family Behind the Badge: Thank a Police Officer (Part I)

This week I am honored to share two stories with you. These are the personal testimonies of two law enforcement officer wives (LEOWs), of which my husband and I are very close with their families. Right now there are a lot of politics in the news regarding the police and my goal of sharing these women's stories is to shed some light to you on what goes on behind that Badge. I am a strong supporter of law enforcement; and I believe that they are true heroes in our community that deserve as much honor as our military. 

Saturday September 19 is Thank a Police Officer Day. I encourage you to thank one if you see him or her, buy them a cup of coffee (or a gift card) and most simply - wear blue that day. A great idea is to use blue painters tape on your car's or home's window. 

This is truly often a thankless job, and as Melody (and later this week, Ann) will share with you, it comes at great sacrifice of themselves and often times their family too. Here's Melody's story.

We are an LEO family, and I wanted to share our story with you.

My husband wasn't that little kid who knew he wanted to be a police officer someday. He did feel a personal calling to wear a uniform, serve and protect, and for a while he thought of joining the military, but the decision to work in law enforcement came much later. It wasn't until after he started his career that he discovered his grandfather and great grandfather were both cops before his family moved to America. He does have Blue in his blood.

To be honest, I wouldn't say I was always an LEO supporter. I used to be more of an LEO tolerate-r.  I was fortunate enough to not have had any real dealings with law enforcement growing up. So my first experiences with police were getting pulled over for speeding as a teenager. Consequently, I wasn't their biggest fan, but I still respected them. I also got the sick adrenaline spike in my stomach whenever I saw those red and blue lights, just at the thought that they were coming after me (I know I should have replaced that tail light... I was only going 6 over....did I remember to renew my tabs?).

But I matured, got my lead foot under control (a little)...

While in college, my husband and I had two personal experiences with police.The first was a pretty negative, actually. I don't feel the need to go into the details, but it was not inspiring.

In the second experience, an officer went out of his way to help us when our old car broke down. He ended up bumper-to-bumper pushing our car all the way down the street to an empty parking lot where we could leave the car overnight.

Not just his act, but his attitude, made a lasting impression on us, and I wish I had his name so I could tell him, that in many ways, he was the one that tipped the scales, and inspired my husband to start this career path.

So, while attending Western Washington University full time, my husband took a full time job as a security guard, working mostly nights, to help prepare him for his future career.  By the time he accepted his first position as a full time commissioned police officer, his academy date was set for the very same day I was due to deliver to our first child. So, we bumped the C-section up, and 5 days after she was born, new daddy left for the academy.
In many ways, I was a single mother for my first 5 months of motherhood. My husband only got to see his baby girl on the weekends.

We now have three wonderful children. My husband’s schedule changes about every two months from days, to swings, to nights. The crazy schedule changes take their toll on the body, and I'd say he is pretty much sleep deprived all the time. He works weekends, nights, holidays, overtime and more overtime...Some people have a hard time understanding why we can't make plans in advance, or why he doesn't seem to be able to attend many events. Sometimes we have to celebrate Christmas in January. Sometimes we stay up till 4 in the morning talking, because that's the only time he and I have to catch up on life. Sometimes night shift sucks, and I can't watch news or crime dramas on tv because my mind will take me to dark places. Sometimes I love night shift because I can finally binge on my favorite girly tv show and don't have to share my wine or popcorn.  Sometimes I take the kids to meet their daddy on the side of the road someplace, and hand him a cup of coffee though the window, just so the kids get a chance to see their dad that day. When we do have a day off together and go out in public, he is always tense. You can't turn off that kind of hypervigilance that is needed to survive in his line of work.

Every day, he goes out there with no idea what he will be up against: If he will get shot at, assaulted, or sued. If he will have to wrangle a farm animal out of the highway, or a suicidal person from the edge of a bridge. There are all kinds of people out there in all kinds of situations. There are people who will scream to their children “This is why we hate the police!” while they fight the officer and threaten his life. But my husband always keeps his cool, and he treats everyone with respect no matter what.  He understands that people make mistakes.  I am amazed that he has never developed a bitter attitude towards people due to any of his experiences. I hear his horror stories, and I also hear the stories of people who, because of his good attitude, end up thanking him as he issues their ticket, or reads them their rights. 

It is hard work. And while I think I am a very capable woman, there is no way I would ever have the patience, tact, strength of character (and biceps) that he has to use every day.

Law enforcement is a very unique profession. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am proud of my husband for what he does. Our family life is different than some, but that's all this LEO family has ever known. It is who we are. I don't want to get political, but I will say it is unfortunate that negativity is so loud and infectious that it sometimes overshadows the truth.

Don't be afraid to show your support this month for the bravery that our law enforcement officers show every single day. On September 19th, or any day, thank a police officer! Send a card or a coffee gift card to their department. Put out a blue ribbon or a blue porch light, whatever you feel inspired to do. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and spread some kind words for our heroes in blue. 

(save image and print from home)

If you are local to Skagit County (Washington State), please see this fundraiser:


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