Thursday, February 27, 2014

Product Review - Smile Brilliant

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a rep from Smile Brilliant asking me to consider reviewing their product on my blog. They would send me the product at no cost, then I just had to use it and review it.

Uh...yes, please!

Within an hour of accepting, I received email notification that my product order had been processed and shipped. WOW. That's service.

It took about a week to come, but it was sent through the USPS in regular mail (not priority) and it was during a week of pretty awful weather here.

I put it in the bathroom and it promptly got covered with clean laundry (hey, at least it was clean laundry!) Then I had some nasty sinus/cold/virus thing that prevented me from breathing through my nose for about half a week, so I put it off.

But today, I opened the package and read all the instructions. Seemed simple enough! Paint your teeth with the gel, put in the plastic trays, turn on the LED light and put it up against the trays on your teeth. I like simple!

Now - my teeth weren't terribly yellowed. I don't drink coffee, I don't smoke, and I've cut way back on the amount of tea and soda over the last few years. But I wasn't going to argue at all with the prospect of a whiter smile.

Smile Brilliant was extraordinarily easy to use. In the past, I've used other whitening products and I would see some difference, but nothing extraordinary. One thing I didn't like about using strips was that it only covered the my front four teeth completely, and as you can see, if I'm smiling hugely, you can see more teeth than that. With this product, you brush it on your teeth which means you can get full coverage. I really liked that. I also really liked that the gel went exactly where you wanted it and nowhere that you didn't.

So you paint on the gel and put in the plastic mouth guards:
isn't this just all kinds of sexy? 
Then you turn on the led light, place it up against the plastic mouth guards and close your lips around it:
yes, I was trying not to laugh

The instructions said to use the led light for 20 to 45 minutes. I kept it in for 30 since this was my first use. 
Clean up was a breeze as well, I just rinsed the trays and used my toothbrush to give them a quick scrub, and wiped off the led light since it looked perfectly clean but had been in my mouth for 30 minutes. 

Lets do a before/after side by side for comparison!
*somebody* could use an eyebrow wax, but my new, whiter smile should
distract from that for a while!

I feel like they are several shades whiter. I'm very very pleased with the result and won't hesitate to use Smile Brilliant again. And when I run out, I'll be purchasing another!

So the good news is this - I got a whiter smile by agreeing to review a product.
The GREAT news is this - I have permission to hold a give away. I'll post the details tomorrow!

Can't wait for the giveaway? Check out the product here:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The best Saturday ever!

I danced with consciousness this morning when Sara called out for Robert. Last night, I braided her hair so it would be wavy today. She was so excited at the prospect of non-straight hair that she was up by 6:15 which is most unusual for her...oh wait..unusual on weekday. This is the weekend. So yeah, that's about right.

But her shouts for Robert were because she wanted to know if she could take her braids out. It would have made me laugh had I been fully awake, because Robert and girl stuff are far, far apart on any and all spectrums.

And! Even though I wasn't fully awake yet, I remember being so grateful that she wanted him and not me. So grateful that I rolled over and went back to sleep. Somewhere deep in my mind, I knew that I should feel guilty about that, but I didn't. I did feel guilty for not feeling guilty about it for the six seconds it took me to go back to sleep...and then I remembered that the kids have school today as a make up day for one of the umpteen snow days we've had this year.

Dang. I was going to have to get up anyway.

Oh well.

Shriners in Shriner cars!
We got the kids to school and returned some movies to Redbox. We needed to go to the post office, but it didn't open until 9. It was now 7:44. We drove around a little and took some roads never taken (by us), stumbled on a Shriner's breakfast but didn't stay because we didn't realize until later that it was open to the public. It's a shame. I love their hats and little cars. Robert said they probably wouldn't have the cars there, but what's a Shriner party without a Shriner car?

We came back home and I fixed us some breakfast, did some filing, washed the kids' sheets, and hung out until time to go to the post office. After we finished at the post office, we went to Sam's, then to Lowe's, then came back home to put everything away. We picked up the kids from school, only Tucker had forgotten we were going to pick him up and had gotten on the bus. So we rushed to the bus stop and unbelievably got there before the bus did. Hallelujah!

We came home and stripped, sanded, and stained our kitchen table. And now Tucker and Robert are putting together something or other, Sara has gone to play with the neighbor kids, and I am thinking seriously about taking a nap.

Plus, it's only 3:30. So there is plenty of day left to continue the awesome.

I'm sure I've had days with Robert and the kids that are just as good as this one, and I know that my trying to describe it loses something in translation, but today I'm as happy as I can ever remember being just living in the moment. And that, my friends, that is a true gift!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I am not a salesperson and other personal failures

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am constantly trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. It's an ongoing process and some days, well..some days are better than others. (If you are new to my blog, hello and welcome. I'm Brooke and for the past few years I've been trying to live a healthier lifestyle).

It's been an interesting process. Somewhat like a roller coaster. You know, like life tends to be in general.

In 2009, I completely revamped the way I was eating and started working out. I lost about 45 pounds pretty quickly. I had biceps that were muscle instead of ...whatever they had been before. Something similar to jello. Or if you really are what you eat, a combination of pizza and cookies. I continued to work out regularly but didn't lose much more weight.

In January of 2011, I joined a challenge group on Facebook created by an ex boss of mine. Determined to burst through my year long plateau, I started drinking Shakeology and began P90X. I lost another 30ish pounds in three months, bringing my total weight loss to almost 90 pounds. I was also going to Zumba classes 4 to 6 times a week and even became a Zumba instructor, not that I ever started teaching my own classes. But my nutrition wasn't where it needed to be and my weight started creeping back up. A pound here, two pounds there. And so on.

By the time we moved to North Carolina in March of 2013, I had gained back most of my 2011 loss. Granted, over half of that loss was because I pretty much stopped eating more than 600 calories a day for about two months, so it was bound to happen. I was also pretty down about the life and people I was leaving behind, and I fell out of the habit of exercising and eating well. (Read that to mean that I dove mouth first into all the crappy food I could eat.) Some people say the proof is in the pudding. My proof is in my stomach, hips, and thighs and it's more of a cottage cheese thing than a pudding. Truth.

Back to 2011 - I became a Beachbody coach. I was so excited. I was dropping weight and body fat, felt great, and thought I had everything under control. I had a deep, true passion for living a healthy life and I wanted to help other people (if that was the path they were on or interested in) get there too. And I tried, I really, really did. I read personal development books. I went through Beachbody training. I was, as they like to put it, a product of the product. Shakeology t-shirt on, samples and brochures in my P90X backpack I went off to the gym or to the kids' schools and was always looking for an opening to share my extreme fortune in this company and product line. 
Except that's not really my personality. It was really difficult for me to approach people. I didn't like it and man, did it show! Any of my friends that I approached tended to avoid me for a few weeks after my big pitch.  People who would ask me what I was doing to lose weight and get fit really did want to know, but they also really did not want to purchase a meal replacement product that cost $130 a month plus shipping. And I completely understood. All of which added up to my being a lousy salesperson. In fact, I should probably capitalize that in Lousy.

Still, I gave out samples, I followed up with the leads I got through the Beachbody coach program. But I also felt like a huge fraud. By this point I wasn't a product of the product. I was slipping away from the healthy lifestyle I had worked so hard to cultivate and I couldn't seem to stop. I felt like such a failure. Who was I to coach ANYONE when I didn't have my own crap together? And, like a friend of mine in Germany who wanted to be a personal trainer said, "Who in the world would ever pay to hire a personal trainer who wasn't in top physical condition?" And once the negative self talk started, things were all downhill from there.

I was so full of shame and disappointment and failure. I did talk to my Beachbody coach about it, but she was running a business too, and really could only offer me the advice of more personal development and trying to use the training available to me through Beachbody. What I couldn't bring myself to tell her was that I didn't want to continue. Her success partially relied on my success. And I was no where near successful. I felt guilty that I wasn't better at being a coach.  I didn't want to let her down and I didn't want people to see me for the fraud I felt like I was.

But wait! Since I had my Zumba license, maybe that was a way to get back on track. I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and offered to sub for one of my favorite instructors. I worked and worked on my choreography. I made it though my first class as an instructor with this knowledge: that was not for me. I panicked and forgot some of my choreography. I showed no personality. Oh my gosh, it was so bad, I wouldn't even let Doreen pay me for leading the class. But there was also a relief in knowing. I had tried and I had given it 100%. It just wasn't going to be my thing. Fair enough.

Meanwhile, Beachbody changed the formula for their chocolate Shakeology. I genuinely loved the original chocolate. It took me a while to get used to the new formula. Then they changed it again. I could drink it as long as I mixed half a scoop of the old formula with half a scoop of the new. But when I ran out of the old formula, my body rejected Shakeology (and I'll let you use your imagination on that one).  I tried to switch to Vanilla, but it took customer service six months to make that happen and then it turns out I liked vanilla even less than I liked the chocolate. So now I have a nice sized stockpile of Shakeology that I'll probably only drink in the event of a Zombie apocalypse. For you Walking Dead fans out there, I could even show Carl how to make a pudding out of it.

I finally cancelled my Beachbody coach account in January. As soon as I did, the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders. I was now free to concentrate on myself and my journey. I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to beat myself up and feel guilty if my nutrition isn't perfect every day. Or if I skip a workout or half-ass it a little. I don't have to ask people to believe something of me that I'm not able to believe of myself yet - and not because I can't do it, but because I am still in the process of learning how to do it.

As a Beachbody coach, I was pretty much a failure. As a woman on trying to lead a healthy, happy life? Well, I'm pretty much a rock star.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I've got 99 problems and my sinuses are 98.

Because of bad weather (and this time we actually HAD bad weather), the kids got out of school on noon on Tuesday and didn't go back until yesterday. Snow for the kids involves fun - sledding, snow angels, snowball fights, two million footprints leading from one place to another, and hopefully playing with the neighbor kids.

Snow for adults is a little different. Shoveling driveways, cleaning up puddles of mud and water in various places in the house, fixing lots of hot chocolate, and doing lots of extra loads of laundry. None of which I minded for a change because we had SNOW.

After a week full of family fun and togetherness, Saturday my nose was runny. By Sunday night I felt like Lizzie Borden was a house guest and was using my head for ax practice. Sinus problems. Yuck! The pressure is making my eyes and teeth hurt and my ears feel like they are going to burst when I blow my nose.

I'm drinking a lot of water. I'm taking vitamin C. I don't like decongestants because they make me feel funny and give me strange dreams. Then again, I also don't like to be a snotty, drooling mess when I sleep because my nose is too swollen to allow air to pass. (None shall pass! - I love Monty Python) So, it's quite the dilemma at 5 am. Medicate and sleep but not rest well, or struggle to breathe and feel like my eyeballs are going to pop right out of my head and still not sleep well what with the nasal drainage and cracking lips from being a mouth breather. Decisions, decisions....
this just looks delightful! and no, that's not me

I think I'm going to purchase a neti pot after I take the kids to school today and see if I can get some relief. If Dr. Oz endorses it, what's the worst that could happen? A brain eating amoeba? What are the chances of that? ::attempted snort, but my nasal passages are too swollen:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Taking some old stuff...

I've watched enough episodes of Hoarders to be terrified of being buried under piles of stuff that have no value to anyone but me. I had a boyfriend whose Mom ended up with so, so, so many cats because they started off with three and didn't spay or neuter. And while I didn't actually live through that, listening to him talk about it....well, I think I'm safe from animal hoarding for life.

My grandmother was somewhat of a hoarder. It wasn't bad enough to be on a show about hoarding, but I remember thinking that when I grew up, I didn't want to have a bunch of stuff around if I wasn't using it.

So it always surprises me when we move how much stuff we actually have. I have Stampin' Up stuff that I haven't touched in about 5 years. I thought I'd spend countless Saturdays crafting with my kids and sending thoughtful, hand made cards to friends and family. HAAHAA. Not even.

In my defense, I have tried several times to do projects with the kids. Unfortunately, the type A control freak in me takes charge of my personality and I find myself getting mighty, mighty tense about the possibility of having to clean permanent ink of the wall, the carpet, the floor, the table, and the kids' clothes. Plus, we already have an issue with Sara and her liberal ideas of what constitutes appropriate art surfaces. Bedspread=no. Wall=no. Furniture=no. Sara's entire body=no. She does not agree. Don't believe me? Here's some proof:

And those are just a couple of the times I remembered to grab the camera. But still, in the back of my mind, I just know that one day we'll be crafting away, one big happy family. No one will be bickering or complaining that they are hungry, tired, bored, unable to use the good stamps or the best ink, or being looked at wrong. It's going to happen, I can feel it!

And I did donate a bunch of art supplies I rarely used to the YMCA where I used to volunteer. Sara is also responsible for the slow, steady decline of my paper supply. Bit by bit, we are whittling it down.

Anytime we move, we donate multiple loads before we leave our old house and after we've unpacked our new house. Sometimes I really think that the stuff multiplies during the move.

With our constant battle to minimize clutter and all things unnecessary, it's a little scary to realize how much of a pack rat my daughter is. Scraps of paper, dried up markers, every blanket she can get her hands on, nail clippers, books, rocks, ripped tights, and as many stickers and sparkly pencils as she can get her hands on - these are the things that she collects quietly and furtively and stores anywhere she can find that's out of sight. I'm okay with her having stuff - even a lot of stuff that I think is unusual or unnecessary - as long as it isn't going to rot or attract bugs and as long as it's semi organized. Out of respect for her, I try to always go through and clean up her room or the playroom when she's with me so she helps to decide on the donate, recycle, and trash piles. I don't necessarily want to change her, but I also don't want to have to dig her out of piles of clutter in 20 years. With a shovel. While her fingertips and toes are being chewed off by rats.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The one where we go to the Lego movie

Tucker and the Lego train station he built 
Tucker's favorite thing in the world right now is Legos. He can build anything...without instructions. It's amazing to watch.

The Lego Movie opened yesterday. It's been advertised for months. Almost every day for the last two weeks, I've gotten the Lego countdown from Tucker. I kid you not, he was more excited about the Lego Movie than he was about Christmas this year.

Robert and I, trying to be slick, talked about surprising him by taking him to see the movie Friday afternoon. It was showing in two places locally - BUT - Bricks 4 Kidz was going to be at one of the theaters. Tucker goes to the Bricks 4 Kidz after school program at his school weekly. And, as I learned Thursday night, if I liked them on Facebook, there was a city wide scavenger hunt, with the daily clue posted at 3 pm. I pick up the kids around 2:50, so that was going to be perfect.

Tucker has super sonic hearing...when he wants to. The first thing he said to me Friday morning was, "MOM!!!! The Lego Movie starts today! Are we gonna go see it after school?!?!" I told him we'd have to see and I admit, for a moment, I wanted to change our plans to try and actually surprise him. But then I thought about how long he'd waited for the movie to open and how even though I got frequent updates about the countdown, he really never bugged me about going.

So after I picked them up from school, I told the kids I wanted to go to Sonic for 1/2 price drinks. This isn't totally unusual, so they didn't think anything about it. We got to Sonic, ordered, and I'm checking Facebook on my phone for the clue. And as we were waiting for our drinks...BAM! the clue hit. Here was the clue...Last clue! Email a pic if you win! "Birthdays, weddings, or just need something sweet? Their name is not long so go for a treat"!
playing with Legos before the movie

Okay, so obviously it's a bakery. There's a Hey Hey Cupake in Black Mountain, but all of the other clues from earlier in the week had been found in Asheville. So I searched for bakeries in Asheville and the first one that popped up on my search was "Short Street Cakes". I tried to program the address into the GPS in my car, but my car didn't have a clue where the road was, much less the business. Luckily, my phone did, so off we went to find it. And we did! We got there, found parking, walked in and asked if they were the Bricks 4 Kidz clue for the day and they were, but someone beat us to it by five minutes. Thanks a lot, crappy car GPS! But the bakery had mini cupcakes which I hadn't seen since Sweet Katie Bee's so the kids each got one and I enjoyed the bakery smells. Not nearly as satisfying as scarfing down a cupcake, but I lived through it anyway.

Tucker was so disappointed that he didn't win, so I suggested that we go see the Bricks 4 Kidz set up at the movie theater. We drove there, parked, and walked up. I realized that there was no way we could get into the lobby without buying a ticket, so the surprise was kinda blown, but the looks on the kids faces when I said we could go to the move was priceless. It got even better when they realized Robert was going to meet us there. Now all we had to do was wait until Robert could meet us. The kids played with Legos at the Bricks 4 Kidz tables while we waited and before we knew it, Robert was there.

Lego Man came to hang with the kids
The movie was really good. Really good. The kids in the movie theater were all well behaved and it was so cute to hear them cheer and clap and laugh. So even though it wasn't the great surprise we had planned and he didn't win the scavenger hunt for the day, it was pretty cool anyway. I guess you could even say...


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

10 Places I...

...prefer not to go

1) the mall. I'm not much of a shopper unless I really need or want something. Unless we are talking about home improvement stores or anywhere that sells cool gadgets. But large crowds make me uncomfortable and lately it seems like people lose all manners once they step into a store.

2) the dentist. It all comes back to getting my braces off the summer before ninth grade. I had small cavities on two of my back teeth and I was terrified of the Novocain needle, so the dentist for some reason drilled without it. The bright side to that is that I am no longer afraid of the Novocain needle.

3) any event where I don't know anyone. I don't think I'm anti-social, but I've been wrong before.

4) camping. I'm as outdoorsy as Carrie Bradshaw, minus the pie making. I don't really like dirt, bugs, snakes, or sweating for no reason. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I'm the kinda girl who loves a nice hotel room.

5) the zoo. I have no good reason for this, I've just never gotten super excited about the zoo. I've taken the kids to the zoo in Germany, in North Carolina, and in St. Louis. I enjoyed watching them enjoy the zoo, but that's about it.

6) anywhere super humid. Humidity and I don't like each other. I think it's because of all the unnecessary sweating it causes. Ironically, I grew up in the south which is fairly humid.

7) sales meetings. Until recently, I was a Beachbody coach and every year Beachbody has a giant convention/event/gathering. I never had any desire to go to one, even thought I probably could have met Tony Horton or Shaun T.  Too many people, too much rah-rah-rah, and sharing a hotel room with 3 other people that aren't really good friends or family? Um, no thanks. I want to hide under my covers just typing this. *coughintrovertcough*

8) auctions. I get way, way, WAY too caught up in the process and can totally see myself spending $10 for $2.50 salt and pepper shakers, much less something of actual value. I'm the girl that would spend my $300 in auction money on Survivor for boiled eggs. Sad, I know, but the truth nonetheless.

this never happens to me!
9) a poker game. I am absolutely the WORST poker player on the planet. If I'm going to go to poker game, I may as well hand out copies of my ATM card and the pin number because I will lose. A lot. Want to know a good poker player? My sister in law Lisa is always winning. It's astonishing.

10) anywhere I might run into a snake. Because snakes freak me out. I know it's an irrational fear, but I can't even watch those shows on TV where people mess with snakes. ::shudder::

What places do you not want to/not like to go?