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Considering LASIK Eye Surgery? 6 Things You Need to Know

Tired of wearing glasses and contact lenses and considering LASIK eye surgery? Before you book your surgical appointment there are a few things you must know about refractive eye surgery, from a mom’s perspective. You have to find out if LASIK is the right procedure for you. This vetting process will include an evaluation to determine if you’re a candidate, easing the fears of undergoing eye surgery and of course, figuring out the total cost of the procedure. Keep reading for the top six things you need to know when considering LASIK eye surgery.

Considering LASIK Eye Surgery – My Story

I’ve wanted to get LASIK surgery for a very long time. But I had preconceived notions that prevented me from proceeding even as far as a consultation. I was off-put by what I thought might be an expensive and potentially dangerous procedure. I wanted to know more about the pre-tests, the actual surgical process, and of course the cost factors involved.

I’m a 44 year old work-at-home mom –  was it even “worth” me having the surgery? Wasn’t I doing just fine with my glasses? Isn’t wearing contact lenses good enough? Why was I considering LASIK in the first place? How much would laser eye surgery really change my life?

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

I had questions about LASIK and I wanted straightforward answers from someone I could trust. Now that I’ve gone through the vetting process for LASIK, I want to be the person for YOU! Here are the things you’ve been curious to know about having laser eye surgery.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

Are You Considering LASIK? – First, Find Your “Why”

Everyone has their own personal reasons for wanting laser eye surgery. Finding your own “why” is an important first step. For me, personally I’ve been wearing glasses since I was six and contact lenses since I was 12. Over the years I’ve grown increasingly tired of the constant care that glasses and lenses require. Getting my prescription “just right” has been a struggle with many wearisome visits to the optometrist. I’m over the cleaning of my contacts each night, the cloudy lenses, struggling to get the soft lenses in and out, and the big bottles of solution that I have to lug around when I travel. I’m sick of my glasses steaming up when I’m cooking, of them sliding off my face when I work out, the never-ending smears across the lenses and glasses getting knocked when I snuggle my kids. It’s been nearly 40 years of dealing with vision problems that I’m ready to ditch. What is your reasoning for considering LASIK eye surgery?

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

I can’t read anymore without removing my glasses & holding the page REALLY close to my face!

1. Do I Qualify As a Candidate for Laser Eye Surgery?

Once you’ve decided that you’d like to learn more about laser eye surgery, it’s very easy to find out if you’re a candidate for LASIK. I was able to call Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego and schedule an appointment for the following week. Clearview offers complimentary evaluations that will determine what type of refractive eye surgery is best for each patient. I was instructed only to wear my glasses for three days prior to my appointment (not my contact lenses).

My evaluation included a extensive battery of simple eye tests. They use state-of-the-art technology to determine if LASIK is the right surgery for you. If you’ve ever been to the optometrist, many of the tests will be familiar. These evaluation techniques take 3-D images of the thickness and shape of your eye, map the curvature patterns of your eye, and take a microscopic exam of your eye (to check for health related issues).

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

Getting vetted at my extensive consultation at Clearview

The tests are easy and quick. However there are a lot of tests so plan on being there for about two hours. While it’s a good idea to bring a driver with you (since your eyes will be dilated), you should definitely get a babysitter for the kids. The exam areas are small and not a place for little ones.

2. Committing to LASIK Surgery

After the test portion, my counselor Richard asked big-picture questions about my personal vision needs, like what I do in my spare time and for work. He went over some of the surgery details and worked up a surgery proposal with cost breakdown. At check-in I’d received a folder with details on refractive surgical processes done at Clearview and information about medical director Sandy T. Feldman M.D., M.S. Since I still needed to discuss the process with my husband and look at my calendar, I wasn’t able to commit to a surgery date at that time. Which was totally fine – the evaluation is free and I left with all the information tucked in my folder. I liked having the information to take home where I could read it at my own pace.

Everyone I met at Clearview made me feel at ease during the entire consultation process at Clearview and I never felt pressured to commit to the surgery at any time. As someone who likes to take time and mull over a big decision, this was extremely important to me. If you’re a busy mom like me, you’ll probably need to make the arrangements for a good surgery date, along with child care and financial concerns (let alone talking to your husband about everything!) But there’s no need to rush – Your tests and cost proposal are good for 30 days so you have plenty of time to make plans and schedule a surgery date. However if you are absolutely ready to commit on the same day as your consult, you can do that too! They’ll have you scheduled for surgery within a few days.

3. Is LASIK Safe?

Hundreds of thousands of LASIK procedures are performed in the United States each year, making it one of the most common surgeries performed. Clearview uses a sophisticated iFS laser that is completely blade free. Dr. Feldman customizes the procedure individually for each patient, based on their eye evaluation tests. The precision technique takes less than ten seconds per eye. Clinical studies prove that patients have faster visual recovery and fewer dry eye symptoms after surgery with the iFS laser.

Seeing a qualified specialist is tops on my list for laser eye surgery safety. I specifically went to Clearview because of the reputation of medical director, Sandy T. Feldman. She has been performing refractive surgical procedures for over 21 years (over 20,000 procedures!) She’s been trusted by many athletes and even other doctors to perform their eye surgeries.

Refractive laser surgery is a medical procedure. There are no guarantees or promises when it comes to any medical procedure as everyone’s individual results may vary. If a surgical center guarantees “perfect” vision, be wary because that may not always be accurate. Everyone’s final results after surgery are going to be different.

Clearview recommends starting your process with an evaluation in their office and discussing the full details of surgery in person. The pre-surgical testing at Clearview is extensive. As noted earlier, it last around two hours and includes a wide range of vision tests to ensure that everything about the eye is recorded properly. Dr. Feldman personally reviews all records of the tests to personalize the surgery to each patient’s needs.

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

4. Overcoming Fears About Having Laser Eye Surgery

I have to confess that reading and hearing about the LASIK process sort-of gives me the heebie-jeebies! In all honesty, I didn’t want to hear about the actual surgery details at all. Just do the surgery and let me get rid of my glasses!

Naturally the fear of having surgery on your eyes is a major hurdle. You’ll want all the information on how safe the procedure is. You want to feel comfortable before/during/after the surgery. And of course you want to feel like you’re in capable hands. Fear of the actual eye surgery can be a major stumbling block and concerns about the end result often stop people from scheduling the surgery.

Choosing the right surgical center for your procedure goes a long way towards achieving that comfort level. At Clearview, the people you encounter in the office are the same people you’ll see in the surgery room. All of the refractive eye surgery equipment is owned and operated at the Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center so your consultation and surgery will take place in the same office. To put you more at ease, each patient meets with the surgeon before the big day. Having the chance to meet Dr. Feldman and ask your important questions helps with overcoming fear and feeling safe when facing surgery.

5. Best Questions To Ask in Your Consultation

A lot of questions will come up during your consultation. Here are a few talking points you might want to mention:

  • How long does it take to recover after the surgery?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • Will I experience pain post-surgery and how long will it last?
  • What kind of vision can I expect a few days/weeks/months after the surgery?
  • When can I go back to work/drive a car/exercise?
  • How in the heck do you keep your eye still during surgery when there’s a laser involved?!
  • How often should I return to the office for check-ups?
  • What happens if my vision gets worse?
If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

A list of post-surgery medications and needs.

6. How Much Will Laser Eye Surgery Cost?

LASIK is considered elective surgery, which means most insurance companies won’t cover the cost. However I was actually surprised that the cost wasn’t as high as I’d expected. You can expect to pay about $2700+ per eye. Talk to your counselor about payment plans offered in-office. LASIK is also a great way to use your “flex plan”. There are also discounts available at Clearview for military and teachers, so ask about that during your consult.

At Clearview, any post-operative visits are covered in the initial cost for 12 months. This includes any possible “touch up” that might be required. It doesn’t happen that often but great to know it’s covered if you need it. After the 12 month period you can schedule additional check ups and surgical touch ups and the cost is only $750 per eye for these procedures.

My LASIK Eye Surgery Experience

I’ll be having my own LASIK eye surgery at the Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in a few days and will share all the details with you in another blog post! Sign up for my email newsletter to be informed when my post-surgery update is listed.

If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #EyeSurgery #Vision #Clearview


Create a More Calm and Peaceful Entryway in Your Home

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GladeFineFragranceMist #CollectiveBias

In the last few months, I’ve been focusing on being in a more intentional place. FOCUS is my Word of the Year and I really am trying to press into that. I want to be a more focused mother for my children. A wife who has a great focus on marriage as a whole. And I’ve just started going to night school, so I definitely want to be more focused on my studies. All this focus can leave other things, like housework, in the dust (literally!) There’s only so much of me to go around, you know? Staying focused on a few things means that other things can get neglected. And to be honest, that truly affects my mood. I want to be good at everything, even when I know that’s impossible! But if I neglect ME, then nothing else is going to go right.

My DIY entry way tutorial helps to put me in the right mood the moment I walk inside the front door. Find out what to use, including fragrance, to add joy into your every day. #GladeFineFragranceMist #ad

Saying Yes to More Peace

My moms group has been delving into the topic of getting more peace in our lives. Bottom line: It’s not your circumstances that bring you down. It’s the attitude and thinking you have about things that ultimately makes you upset. My happiness should not be based upon what is happening around me. It’s not the circumstances, it’s the attitude and thinking I have about them.

I have it on my heart to be more conscious about my mood when I come home after a long day. It’s too easy to fall into the chaos once inside the door and I aim to be more centered and at peace at home. A relaxed and calm Mom is better at all things!

One thing that I do as a reminder to stay serene is take a moment in my entryway to pause. It’s only a moment that I need before the whirlwind hits me. I have my entryway table set up with everything I need for a proper welcome home. I can choose to think about positives I’m grateful for and not the potential craziness that awaits me beyond the entryway. With just a few key items in this place, I’ve made my home a more calm place.

Creating a Calm and Peaceful Entryway

Creating a peaceful and beautiful entryway helps set up the reminders for me about being purposeful. I have carefully chosen only what makes me happy and gives meaning. Clutter is the enemy! Only what absolutely needs to be there should be allowed in this place. I take time each day to make sure this area is tidy. Even if my office desk has a huge stack of papers or there are dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, at least I know that this one sacred place of peace and meditation is clutter-free.

My DIY entry way tutorial helps to put me in the right mood the moment I walk inside the front door. Find out what to use, including fragrance, to add joy into your every day. #GladeFineFragranceMist #ad

These are the things I have in my lovely entryway that bring me joy –

Favorite art and calming quotes. Surrounding yourself with lovely things really does go a long way towards calm.

A table runner is a great base to start from. I went with a neutral so that I could choose to add more color with my accessories.

A place to put car keys because hunting for lost car keys when you’re already running late is going to make you crazy. I love this pretty bowl to use as a catch-all from keys to earrings.

I try to deal with mail immediately while it’s in my hand. I sort out the junk into the recycling and put bills on my office desk. Don’t let paper clutter up your special space.

Add a touch of nature, whether it be a vase with flowers, a tiny cactus or something like this bonsai I have. An earthy reminder can help you to stay grounded.

Include something meaningful to you. I have a pretty vintage cake plate and a soapstone container that my husband bought me on our first vacation together.

My DIY entry way tutorial helps to put me in the right mood the moment I walk inside the front door. Find out what to use, including fragrance, to add joy into your every day. #GladeFineFragranceMist #ad

Using Fragrance to Move My Mood

The Glade® Atmosphere Collection™ Fine Fragrance Mist helps welcome me home. The scent of fragrance upon coming in my front door is the gentle nudge I need to remind me to breath deeply, stay calm and let the stress of the day slip away. I found these at Walmart. I chose each of these two fragrance mist products for different reasons.

My DIY entry way tutorial helps to put me in the right mood the moment I walk inside the front door. Find out what to use, including fragrance, to add joy into your every day. #GladeFineFragranceMist #ad

The notes of jasmine and rose with cedarwood and clove in the No.1 Enraptured™ fragrance helps to put me in a loving mood. The No.2 Bright™ scent has a light and bright note of raspberries and orchard fruits with pear and sweet pea.

My DIY entry way tutorial helps to put me in the right mood the moment I walk inside the front door. Find out what to use, including fragrance, to add joy into your every day. #GladeFineFragranceMist #ad

The Glade® Atmosphere Collection™ Fine Home Fragrances are infused with essential oils and masterfully crafted fragrances. Just spray up and sweep side to side. It is a continuous spray so the mist lingers in the air. A quick spray and deep breath from me and I’m in my calm space. Just the welcome home that I need!

How can you use fragrance to transport you into a peaceful place?

Follow this entryway tutorial to put you in the right mood the moment you walk inside the front door. Find out what to use, including fragrance, to add joy into your every day. #GladeFineFragranceMist #ad

6 Ways Mom Can Squeeze in Healthy Exercise and Nutrition on the Go

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewYearNewWater #CollectiveBias

As a busy mom of four (from toddler to teens!) I spend a lot of my time shuttling kids to school, appointments and activities. As someone who just started taking night school classes, I’m also spending more time studying and doing homework. And as a writer, I spend the rest of my spare time typing at my desk. That’s a lot of sitting during the day!

In between I do try and squeeze in exercise. If I’m home, I’ll take my toddler for a long walk with the stroller through the neighborhood (nap time for her, exercise for me!) You’ll often find me doing squats or stretching in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil. I’ve been on a weight loss journey so I’m trying to choose healthier snacks and keep the treats to a minimum. Moms are busy so we have to squeeze in fitness and healthy nutrition whenever and where ever we can!

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

So what can you do to fit in exercise even when you’re out and about? How can you make sure you’re making the best nutrition choices even on a busy schedule? I’m sharing my ideas on packing healthy essentials in the car for those days when we’re on the go. Think about those times in the school pick-up line when you’re just sitting. Think about all that time you spend with kids at the orthodontist! And how about after you’ve dropped off your child at their activity and you have an hour to burn? Here’s what I keep in my vehicle to take advantage of the healthy ME time!

Walking Shoes

There are times when I’d like to squeeze in some exercise but I didn’t wear the proper shoes. Now I keep a spare pair in my car just in case I have time for a quick walk. Lace ’em up and time yourself to see how quickly you can speed walk around the block.

Healthy Snacks

Resist the urge to stop at the convenience store! Not only are the prices high you’ll be faced with too much temptation in the way of sugary snacks. I keep healthy snacks in my car. Choose things that can handle the warmth inside of your vehicle and not melt, like nuts, seeds, popcorn and dried fruits.

Resistance Bands

The school pick-up line is a hurry and wait sort of thing, with a long line of cars waiting for the bell to ring. I line up and put the car in park. By the time my daughter has reached the car, I’ve completed a small arm workout using resistance bands. Resistance bands take up hardly any space and are lightweight, making them the perfect travel exercise choice.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

Journaling

Sometimes a thought will come to me that I want to explore more about. But I don’t want it to be just another “to do” in my calendar. I used to keep a diary as a teen and it was a fantastic way of keeping in touch daily with my thoughts and ideas. Dust off your diary, jot thoughts into a journal and just write, draw or doodle.

Nap Pillow

I asked some friends the other day when was the last time they’d taken a nap. Naturally the ladies without the kids were catching cat naps but the women with little ones hadn’t napped in years! Sometimes all you need is to just close your eyes for a few minutes and be alone with your thoughts. I dropped off my son at a birthday party this weekend and while his toddler sister napped in the car, I had the chance to catch a thirty minute nap myself!

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

Hydration

I try my best to stay healthy and make sure I’m taking good care of myself. Getting exercise and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is top on my list. So while I’ve been doing okay on the exercise and my diet has been fairly clean, I’ve still be struggling to drink enough water. I’ve had issues with dehydration in the past because I just don’t take in enough fluid. Plain water isn’t my favorite choice.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

I’ve been choosing wanu water as my refreshing beverage throughout the day. wanu water is delicious and it still tastes like water – just better! In flavors like Peach Passion, Kiwi Cucumber and Watermelon Raspberry, you’re sure to find a favorite. I love these wanu water flavors because they’re more like a treat! I found these wanu water flavors at my local Vons.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

But wanu water is not only hydrating, it’s nutritious as well. Fiber aides in achieving a healthy weight by keeping you feeling fuller longer. wanu water has 6 grams of non-GMO fiber, equivalent of 24% of your recommended daily intake.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

wanu water is naturally sweetened by monk fruit. Monk fruit sweetens foods and drinks without the harmful effects of traditional sugar and sugar substitutions. No funny aftertaste either. And the palatable flavor makes it easier to get not only hydration but also vitamins, nutrients and even fiber.

Click HERE to save Save $1.00 on the purchase of any two (2) 16oz bottles of wanu (Expiration date: 12/31/18).

How are you taking care of yourself, even on a busy schedule?

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

Mom’s Holiday Party Prep Tips for the Busy Season

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MerrySpritzmas #CollectiveBias

Though I really do try to stick to our family motto and keep things simple during the holidays, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the season. That means events, activities and parties just about every weekend in December. The holidays are a time of parties – I have two each weekend this season! I love it all, I really do. But wow, does it get busy! Seems I hardly have time to use the bathroom (we’ll get to that issue later!)

These practical tips will help Mom holiday party prep for an evening out! Ideas for time management & evening bag packing. #MerrySpritzmas #AD

Ready for a night on the town!

My husband’s work Christmas party was this past weekend. With four kids at home, I didn’t have a lot of time to get myself primped. But I still wanted to look good, right?! I’m sharing my tips for getting prepped for a night out, including what to pack in your holiday evening bag. Keep reading and I’ll give you all the details on why Poo~Pourri is a party MUST HAVE!

Hover over this photo and click on the images to visit Bed Bath and Beyond’s website, where you can order directly!

Time Management

When you’re getting ready to go out for the night, plan ahead and make a list of what needs to be done.

  • I chose my outfit the week before the Christmas party. I made sure to try on my outfit with the shoes that I was planning to wear. If you need to pick up stockings or tummy support briefs this will give you a few days time to grab those necessities.
  • I did my nails the day before so I wouldn’t feel rushed the morning of the party.
  • I needed a haircut before the party so I scheduled it for that afternoon. This way I was able to get the wash, cut and style and save time on not having to do my hair myself.
  • Have the babysitter arrive early so that will give you time to put your make-up on and get dressed so you aren’t running around, tending to the kids.

Packing Your Holiday Evening Bag

Just before before the party, I pack up my holiday evening bag. Once I’ve decided on my outfit, I match the bag with what I’m wearing. You won’t need a lot, so your evening bag can be really small – Unless you’re like me and your husband tends to hand you everything out of his pockets to carry in your purse. These are my handbag must-haves for a night on the town.

  • Wallet. Include at least a few dollars, just in case you need to tip or the parking lot only takes cash.
  • Drivers license or ID. You might get carded!
  • Make-up refreshers. This may include blotting papers to get rid of excess oil, finishing powder and lipstick or gloss.
  • A small mirror. Use it quickly to check your teeth and make sure there’s no holiday food left there after your meal.
  • Compact hair brush.
  • Fully charged cell phone. And just in case you get into a selfie mood and post a ton of pictures to social media, bring a back-up charger and cord.
  • Antacids. After eating a rich dinner & having a few drinks, my tummy needed some relief.
  • Car and house keys.
  • Poo~Pourri.

These practical tips will help Mom holiday party prep for an evening out! Ideas for time management & evening bag packing. #MerrySpritzmas #AD

Don’t be the Party Pooper

Time to get real. Think about the last party you went to. Seems like there is always someone waiting outside the bathroom door to use the facilities after you, right? With so many holiday parties at friends’ houses and the bathroom line down the hall, nobody wants to the be the “party pooper” – leaving a stink behind for the next guest!

Have you heard of Poo~Pourri? If you haven’t, this video is a must watch.

Simply spritz Poo~Pourri into the toilet bowl before you go. Poo~Pourri’s pure blend of natural essential oils creates a film on the surface of the water. The protective barrier traps odor under the surface – which means no stink! All you’ll leave behind is a light refreshing scent. When you leave the bathroom for the next person in line, nobody will be the wiser!

Give the Gift That Doesn’t Stink

I was recently at Bed Bath and Beyond and found a large collection of Poo~Pourri. It was located at a kiosk towards the front of the store. There were more Poo~Pourri products on an end cap (including a gift box that looks like a toilet!)

I have Original Citrus in the bathroom at home, which is a blend of lemon, bergamot and lemongrass natural essential oils. Merry Spritzmas® and Secret Santa scents are sold in this clever holiday pull-apart gift set (the text on the box makes me giggle!)

I kept Poo~Pourri Merry Spritzmas® in my evening hand bag. The blend of peppermint, vanilla and citrus is a spritz of holiday magic! And it was a relief to know I had the Poo~Pourri with me on the chance that I needed to use it at the party. Did I use it? I’ll never tell!

I already know whom I’ll be gifting Poo~Pourri Secret Santa to! Poo~Pourri is actually the perfect item for the holiday gift exchange –  It’s funny to give but it really works!

Don’t forget to look out for special coupons on one item at Bed Bath and Beyond’s website before heading out to shop or shopping online. And check out these other fun ideas on how to give the gift of Poo~Pourri this holiday season!

These practical tips will help Mom holiday party prep for an evening out! Ideas for time management & evening bag packing. #MerrySpritzmas #AD

5 Tips for Looking Your Best in Holiday Family Photos

This shop has been compensated by Schwarzkopf®. #HolidayHairCare #sponsored

The holidays are fast approaching! That means fun with family and friends, as well as parties and pictures that come along with the season. Last year my family and I had a weekend vacation and took this photo together. I loved how cute we all looked…that is until I looked closer and realized how my roots were showing and how GRAY my hair was! Ugh, seeing that photo with my gray hairs made me so upset.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

I’m all for women who aren’t bothered by the gray. But I still have a toddler and I’m just not ready to go gray yet. Coloring my hair makes me feel so much better about my overall look! I don’t have the time or money for a salon so I’m glad there are at-home kits like Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color that give me a professional style. With family photos coming along with the holidays, I’m sharing my tips for creating a head-to-toe beautiful look that’s perfect for lasting photo memories!

Coordinating family outfits while still putting together a beautiful look for yourself takes some preparation! You can’t just throw on your favorite outfit because you want a cohesive look for the entire family. And you don’t want to look back in ten or twenty years and say, “What in the world was I wearing?!” These are a few ideas for creating a flattering, timeless look for family photos.

1. Pick a Theme Around Your Location

Are you going to be taking photos at the beach? Then knee-high boots and chunky sweaters probably aren’t the best fashion choice. And vice versa if you’re planning a snowy mountain photo shoot wearing all white cotton sundresses! Once you know your photo location, you can decide on a direction for your outfits.

2. Start with One Thing

Who is the most particular person in your family when it comes to getting dressed? Start by choosing their outfit first. Once you have that picked, it’s going to be easier to design a look around the color scheme and style of that first outfit.

Is there an outfit that the rest of the clothes can be built around? A plaid or a pattern with multiple colors is a good place to start. From there you can choose clothing with the colors that coordinate (like this floral dress below).

3. Picking a Color Scheme

To create a cohesive look, choose a color scheme that unites the family and doesn’t clash. Things like blue jeans, khaki and white are neutral and can be mixed in with the colors you choose as you see fit.

For this family photo, I wanted to choose from clothes that we already had in the closet. I started with my husband’s plaid shirt. The rest of the family was easy to match, with navy blue, burgundy, khaki and white.

Photo Credit: Amber Barley Photography

4. Mixing Patterns

While it’s okay to choose similar styles, try to avoid anything too matchy-matchy. For instance, instead of having the kids all wear matching sweaters, choose a similar design in varying colors. As in the family photo above, my son had a plaid shirt in his closet that had similar colors to what his dad is wearing. The plaids aren’t matching but they don’t clash either.

Choose patterns that are classic in design instead of trendy so your photo looks timeless and not dated to a particular time period. Same with hair styles!

You could also choose patterns that are coordinating but not identical. I found this trio of outfits for my little ones a few years ago. They are coordinated because the colors unite them, but are not wearing the same outfit.

5. Making Sure Mom Looks Her Best

After the gray root debacle last year, I’m determined to stay on top of my coloring! Once I’ve decided on a location and color scheme for the family photo shoot, I make sure I have my nails done, make-up ready and hair colored. Naturally, I want my hair to look its best during family photos.

Having Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color on hand has been my secret weapon! I’ve already used Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color several times and love my results. It’s been so easy to use and my hair is shiny and soft, even weeks after coloring.

I found Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color at Walmart. The line offers a good variety of intense colors, including my favorite shade, Chestnut. Be sure to do your patch test before coloring! And of course don’t forget to put on the included gloves to protect your hands.

At-Home Hair Coloring Tips

  • Wear your oldest clothes and use your oldest towel that you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Wear a plastic cape to protect your neck and clothes.
  • Rub a small amount of petroleum jelly around your ears and neckline to prevent staining.
  • I prep my bathroom so I don’t drip hair coloring on the rub or splash it on the shower curtain! I put away everything from off the counter, move the shower curtain and put away the bathmat so no errant drips get on anything.

BEFORE (look at that gray!)

Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color has a pre-treatment included that helps give you an even color result. I love this extra step and experienced no dry ends after coloring. The color is thick and stays put, which makes application so much easier.

I colored my hair about 5 weeks ago with the same color, so I applied to the roots for 20 minutes first. Then I applied color to the rest of my head and waited another ten minutes.

20 minutes on the roots first…

Then 10 minutes on the entire head of hair.

  • Don’t just rely on the clock to keep time. Set a timer!
  • I rinsed off in the kitchen sink so I could use the handheld sprayer and really make sure I removed all the color.
  • Any color stains on the skin? Use a cotton pad and rubbing alcohol to gently remove.

I experienced less hair breakage and loss after using Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color and of course, it gave me 100% gray coverage – yippee! Plus my hair is really soft and silky. I’m going to look so great in my holiday family photos this year (no gray getting me down!)

AFTER! Total gray coverage and beautiful Chestnut color.

Want to try Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color for free? Be sure to click through for the rebate!

Dressing for Success

Just like coloring over my gray helps boost my self-esteem, so does wearing clothes that make me feel and look my best. With every purchase of Schwarzkopf® Keratin Color women are getting a fresh start through a partnership with Dress for Success®.

Dress for Success Worldwide provides women education and mentoring, along with revitalized hair and clothing options. This partnership helps women be as successful as they look! Over one million women have been served by this international organization and its programs. I love how Dress for Success encourages and supplies women with the tools they need for confidence and success!

Coloring your hair at home is a great way to save time and money but how can you assure the best results? Check out these tips (along with ideas for looking your best in holiday family photos!) #HolidayHairCare #ad

 

5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

 Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MomentsShineWithWindex #CollectiveBias

It’s Back to school season! And either your kid is on-board or they’re not. 3 out of my 4 kids are now in school. My two oldest are in their final year of junior high. My five year old just started kindergarten. The teens were looking forward to the first day of school. They were excited to see friends and finish their last year before high school.

My kindergartner on the other hand was a bit nervous. Which wasn’t like him at all, really. He’s always been fairly independent. And so smart, he just loves to learn. I think he just had way too much fun this summer and didn’t want it to end! Right with you there, buddy…

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

I wanted to make sure that the first day of school was something really memorable and special for him. While the teens got themselves motivated, my kinder kid needed a little encouragement. I created these fun and easy ways to make the first day of school extra special. These are particularly sweet for very young children (though secretly, my teens got a kick out of them too!) Keep reading for a free printable and a special offer from Windex® brand and Shutterfly®.

1. A Special Wake-Up

I’ll be honest. On most days, I wake up my kids by either snapping on the overhead light or opening the window to let in the sunshine! But on the first day of school (and maybe even for the entire first week), I’ll wake them in a special way.

Take a picture of them sleeping first. There’s nothing cuter than a sleeping kiddo!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

For my music-loving kindergartner, I put on his favorite dance song and placed the CD player in the hallway before waking him gently. He happily jumped out of bed!

Long ago when my eldest son was in kindergarten I’d wake him up with a finger puppet character. Seriously. For some reason he’d get mad if I tried waking him up myself. But if Madame Queen the finger puppet awoke him by bopping him on the head he thought it was hilarious! Hey, you do what you can to keep the morning routine from completely melting down from the start, right?

2. Breakfast To Start the Day Off Right

My five year old would eat waffles morning, noon, and night. I know that waffles will be his request for the first day of school breakfast.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

  • Take a breakfast request a few days before the first day so you can make sure to have all the ingredients on hand.
  • If morning time is tight, consider preparing as much as possible the night before. I tend to make waffles in batches and freeze them. Then I can just pop in the toaster to reheat in the morning.
  • Even if you only have time for cold cereal, make the meal more well-rounded by adding fresh fruit like bananas, blueberries or sliced strawberries.

3. First Day Photo Op

I’ll admit it, I’m a photo-taking-social-media-sharing-mama! I love to take a cute first day photo and share it across social for everyone to see.

  • Document each step in the morning process, from waking up your student, breakfast, outfit, to catching the school bus.
  • Take your first day of school photo in the same place each year. It’s awesome to see the growth of your kiddos!
  • Get inside the classroom and take a photo of your child sitting at their desk.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

4. Welcome Home!

When my kids come home from their first day, they’re always a’ bubble with things to share. They want to tell me all about so-and-so in their class, a strict new teacher or what they did at recess. This year I wanted to surprise my kids with a special “welcome home” window that celebrates the first day of school. In particular, I knew my 5-year old would love the decorations and fanfare for his first day of kinder!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

I needed a clean and shiny surface to work with, so first I picked up Windex® Original Glass Cleaner at my local Kroger store, Food 4 Less. Windex® brand is known for its famous streak-free shine, so clean up on the window was quick and easy.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

While I was in the cleaning mood, I was able to clean up the kitchen and bathroom quickly with the Windex® Vinegar Multi-Surface Cleaner. I’ve always liked how versatile vinegar is to clean with but I’ve never liked the smell of it. This special ammonia-free formula has no harsh vinegar smell. It leaves behind only a fresh, clean scent.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once the window was prepped, I was able to decorate it from the outside with a temporary glass marker and crepe paper announcing the first day of school!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

The whole thing went together in just a few minutes and the impact was great. Check out the happy face on my kindergartner! And the big kids thought it was pretty cool too. And when it was time to clean up, Windex® Original Glass Cleaner came to the rescue again and wiped the window streak-free again!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

5. A First Day of School Memento

I’ve created this first day of school certificate printable. My son proudly held his “award” for completing his first day of kindergarten so I could take a picture.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

FREE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE – Simply write in the name of your student and the date presented. After you take a photo of your student with their award, stow it for safekeeping in a school memory folder. I have a 3-ring binder for each child that holds awards and certificates.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once you’ve shared those adorable first day pictures on social media, it’s time to make a permanent memory of them. I’ve been using Shutterfly® since my teenager was a baby!

You can take those first day pictures and put them in a photo book. Or wouldn’t they look cute on the front cover of a spiral bound notebook? I also use the back to school photos that I take on my Shutterfly® calendar each year.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Check out this amazing national offer with Shutterfly®. Buy 2 Windex® products and get $20 to shop at Shutterfly®. (Offer valid 7/15/17 – 12/1/17. Visit here for terms and conditions).

How will YOU make the first day of school special for your kids?

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Little Ways Moms Can Make Big Differences in Their Health

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NatureMadeProbiotics #CollectiveBias

In a few weeks I’m going to be celebrating my 44th birthday. Celebrating? Yes! There are definitely times when I’m the oldest mom with her kids on the playground (and I have the creaky back to prove it!) So I might be older but what I don’t want is to feel old. I want to wake up with the energy everyday that I need to parent my four kids. I’m making little changes NOW that are going to make a big difference. It’s the “snowball effect”. One little change begets another on my way to a healthier life.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Out for a walk, moving more and sitting less!

Moving More. Sitting Less

As a writer, I’ll admit that I tend to sit more than I should! One of my goals is to be moving more and sitting less.

  • Stand when doing household chores. I stand when folding laundry and sorting socks.
  • If you have trouble remembering to move, set your phone alarm to remind you. Even a 20 minute walk or an impromptu dance party helps!
  • Can you walk instead of driving? Work in walking to the library or the store as part of your exercise for the day.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Portion Control

When I’m busy with my kids there are times when I forget to eat. Unfortunately that means the next time I sit down to eat, I’m ravenous and tend to overeat. And of course there are many side effects to overeating, from feeling bloated to weight gain.

  • Eat off of a smaller plate to trick your mind into thinking you have more food.
  • Take a look at proper serving sizes. Use a measuring cup to get an idea of sizing.
  • Serve food in the kitchen and don’t return for seconds.
  • Add twice as many vegetables as anything else on my plate.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Listening to My Body

Stopping and really listening to my body throughout the day helps keep me in check.

  • Is my throat dry? I’m probably not drinking enough water.
  • Am I stiff? Maybe I need to run through some stretches.
  • Am I really hungry? Then why am I opening the fridge again?
  • Am I tired? Why am I forcing myself to stay awake! I should get to bed earlier.

Taking a Daily Probiotic

Taking a daily probiotic is definitely one of those things that helps me to balance my gut health. I feel so much better when I’m taking one. And when I’m feeling better, I’m more motivated to make good choices. That’s the snowball effect of good, healthy choices. And for me, I start with Nature Made® Digestive Probiotics Adult Gummies.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

 

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that exists naturally in cultured or fermented foods (like yogurt and certain cheeses). Probiotics offer benefits for your digestive system by pushing out unwanted organisms. This allows more of the “good” bacteria to be present in your gut. And “good’ bacteria can help you feel better (remember the “snowball effect”? It’s real!)

I picked up Nature Made® Digestive Probiotics Adult Gummies at my local Walmart. As directed, I take two a day. I appreciate that Nature Made® is produced to the highest quality standards to ensure purity and safety.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Nature Made® Digestive Probiotics Adult Gummies have dual action probiotics plus energyǂ† B12 (ǂVitamin B12 supports cellular energy production.† †These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.)

And let’s be honest. Chewing an adult gummie is FUN! I look forward to taking my Nature Made® Probiotics Gummies, it’s like a little treat just for me!

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

In what little ways are you making a difference in your health? Is a probiotic part of your daily routine?

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

My kids truly love Honest Kids! It’s the only juice we purchase for them because it’s certified organic and sweetened only with fruit juice. We’ve shared our love of Honest Kids via social media and have always received a nice response from the company. Isn’t it good when the company feels as nice as the product!

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

We recently had the pleasure of testing the two new Honest Kids additions, which will be available in 8-pouch, single-variety cartons starting in March 2016.

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

The newest members of the Honest Kids family are:

·         Cherry Go Round: Give this one a whirl! A lively mix of organic apple, grape and cherry juices with other delicious organic ingredients, Cherry Go Round may be a newcomer but with its exuberant flavor, it’s certainly no sideshow! Available in 6.75 fl. oz. pouches.

·         Twisted Tropical Tango: A veritable typhoon of tropical flavors, this organic blend of apple, grape, and orange juices is balanced with a touch of mango puree and other organic ingredients for a smooth and refreshing taste.  Available in 6.75 fl. oz. pouches.

We’ve tested both flavors and they have the light and refreshing fresh juice taste we’ve come to love and expect from Honest Kids. I can’t decide which is my favorite. I love the bright hit of cherry in Cherry Go Round, which is unique and delicious. And the subtle mango mixed with the orange juice in Twisted Tropical Tango is flavorful and thirst-quenching. I love that after I drink Honest Kids juice my thirst is actually quenched and I’m not left feeling thirstier (like with some other drinks).

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

Honest Kids Giveaway!

5 lucky winners will receive a month’s supply of the new Honest Kids varieties, shipped to their house from Honest Tea…That’s a lot of sweet sipping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US Residents only

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

Ways to Remember Those You’ve Lost During the Holidays #CTCA

I have received compensation for this post as part of a promotional program with CTCA and MomSelect. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Ways to Remember Those You've Lost During the Holidays #CTCA

We lost my dad is renal cancer a year and a half ago. Holidays can be particularly hard when remembering those you’ve lost. When I think back to the last Christmas we had with him (in 2013), it’s a bittersweet feeling. We knew at that time that he wouldn’t be with us to celebrate another one. Surprisingly he hung on and didn’t pass until April 5th. But certainly each time the holidays come around, his presence is greatly missed.

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During the holiday season, how do you remember those you’ve lost?

Here are some ideas of how include the memories of those you’ve lost this holiday.

  • Serve one of their favorite holiday dishes.
  • Light a candle in their honor.
  • Get out the old family albums and take the time to reminisce.
  • Ask family members to write down their favorite memory of that person. When we asked our family to do this, I heard stories about my dad that I’d never heard before and that helped us deeply in our grief.
  • Decorate a small tree with trinkets or special mementos of your loved one. Or make a single ornament in their honor to hang on your tree.
  • Consider a donation to your loved one’s favorite cause or charity.
  • Talk about them. Sometimes the hurt is so bad that we are afraid to bring up old memories but talking about those that have passed helps with that pain. It’s wonderful to recall special memories from years past when our loved ones were still with us.

My Story

My dad’s symptoms started in 2002. The doctor’s discovered that he had a blocked kidney that was causing urinary troubles and the kidney was removed. Cancer was never discussed. Five years later he started to have some health concerns and after a body scan it was discovered that he had small cancerous spots on his lungs and spine. The doctor explained that during the kidney removal surgery, cancerous cells had gotten into the blood stream and metastasized onto other spots in his body. Though the cancer was now growing in other locations, it was still considered “renal” or kidney cancer. These cancerous spots were only the size of a dot from the tip of a pin but they were in multiple places throughout the body, so the doctors said they were inoperable.

My love for Disney started with my dad.

My love for Disney started with my dad.

My dad was placed on a daily radiation medication and he was given a diagnosis of one year to live. We braced ourselves for the worst. And a year came and went. Then another year. And another. He continued taking the daily radiation medication and the cancerous spots stabilized. It had some nasty side effects (blisters on his feet and tongue, scaly skin and rash) but he was still with us. In early 2013, doctors said that the medication was no longer effective and my dad started chemotherapy. He had one single treatment before coming down with pneumonia. Then came a transitory stroke. He was never strong enough to start back any cancer treatments. His health started to decline. Looking back at the time, it seemed like a rapid decline to us, but given that he hung on for over a year after stopping the treatments, it was really quite slow and agonizing. Rough for us and even more hard for my dad, who was in constant pain.


Cancer Treatment Centers of America #CTCA

After so many years in the battle with his cancer, my dad was prepared and ready to stop his treatment. However for those who are still strong enough to fight, there’s the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. There are a number of facilities available across the country with many patients traveling out of state to receive care. Each person’s cancer is unique. That’s why the Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) uses leading technology to aggressively treat cancer. They also offer nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, mind-body medicine, spiritual support nutrition and other therapies, because they know that managing the side effects of cancer treatment is half the battle.

Image from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Image from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Though my dad’s personal treatment helped him stay alive longer than expected, the side effects on his body and mind were brutal. I think often if we’d been able to keep him healthier longer if nutrition therapy and mind-body medicine had been used. Knowing that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America treats the whole person and not just the cancer,  I am relieved in knowing they are helping so many others in their battles.

For those of you fighting, my thoughts and prayers are with you. And for those of you who are dealing with loss, know that through the pain there are the memories. I pray that you find peace during the holidays and can choose one of these special ways to celebrate those who have passed.


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Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

This shop has been compensated by Albertsons. All opinions are mine alone. #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #CollectiveBias

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

My family eats almost all of our meals at home and dinners are always eaten together. Television is off and we gather around to share our day with each other. Everyone participates in setting the table, preparing the meal and cleaning up afterwards.

We dress the table each night with fabric place mats and cloth napkins that I’ve made (tutorial here). Sometimes we light a candle for ambiance. It feels good to eat at home and to share our day around the dinner table but sometimes we need a little “refresh”. I will admit that my kids do get bored with some of the same meals since we tend to serve the same stand-by dishes when time and money is tight.

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

Now that I’m home more often I’ve been inspired by cookbooks at the library and have had the time to expand on our repertoire to the delight of the family…Ooh, butternut squash & spinach lasagna one night, homemade pizza the next!

However nothing brightened their day more than when I served dinner last week alongside a big pitcher of Lipton Iced Tea with dinner!

“There’s tea at the table!”, yelled one of the kids and I’m not kidding, they all came running!

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

A lovely table setting and Lipton Iced Tea for dinner (shirts optional!)

Most of the time each child receives either a small glass of milk or water with their meal, so Lipton Iced Tea was a big-time treat. I was happy to be able to serve them something special after a long week and Lipton Iced Tea is also a healthier choice than soda. It was definitely a complement alongside our ground turkey and pasta and was an extremely refreshing beverage.

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

I picked up Lipton Iced Tea in a 100 count box from Albertsons. So easy to make (the recipe is on their website) You can find the 100 count Lipton tea bags in the tea section and they can be served iced or hot. I served our Lipton Iced tea with a squeeze of lemon and agave sweetener but next time I think I’ll add some frozen berries for a flavor twist!

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

Albertsons and Safeway stores are currently running their Stock Up Sale (from Sept 30th through Oct 13th) 9/30-10/13) and have Lipton Iced Tea 100 count as part of the promotion. This is a great deal and a great way to make every dinner feel special, without breaking the bank!

 

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad


How do you “refresh” your dinner when the family gets bored with the same old thing? Please share in the comments!

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