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Glossybox, I Love You & Me. Mostly Me. So I Bought You

I have a new addiction and….

glossybox collage

OK, so lets get this out of the way. I was in no way compensated to write about Glossybox. I even paid for it myself. But, it’s fun and silly and it makes me happy so I am sharing with all of you who haven’t caught the subscription box addiction. I have been seeing these boxes (think Beer of the Month Club but with beauty products) pop up in my Facebook feed over the last six months and I have been curious what the draw is. Why spend $10-$50 a month on a package of samples? That you don’t even get to pick yourself? But then Kim-Marie posted a review of Glossybox that she was sent and well, I have a total girl crush on her so I thought “OK, she doesn’t BS and if she liked it I will try it and see what the big deal is”. Honestly I can’t tell you the number of times I have wandered the aisles of Sephora wondering which of these products to buy. I am not really a makeup and stylish girlie girl. I know, I will pause for you to absorb the shock. Plus, I am always in need of TSA sized products. So I plop down my $21 (Glossybox is $21 a month, no commitment, cancel whenever) and waited for my first box to arrive.

It was full of products I had never heard of before:

  • C. BOOTH Honey Almond Nourishing Dry Oil Mist (smells and feels divine)
  • FRESH Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream-Full Size
  • LAUREN B. BEAUTY Nail Couture in City of Angels-Full size. (Lists this product at $18. People really spend $18 on a bottle of nail polish?)
  • PUREOLOGY SERIOUS COLOUR CARE (looks like you just spray this in your hair to make it shiny?)
  • SUMITA BEAUTY Kala Color Intense Pencil (loved it)

It all came packaged in this pretty pink and brown packaging that looked like someone sent me a present.

glossybox packaging

And that’s sort of what it is to me. A little present to myself full of things I would never think to buy myself and would pass on the shelves of Sephora never trying them.

I mean, lets face it, I get Glossybox and companies like them are probably making a killing distributing sample sized products to women of a certain demographic. But I am willing to look beyond that because I am a sucker for the pretty little package of fun goodies all for me.

Since starting Glossybox I have signed up for a few others.

I’ll let you know how they work out for me but the subscription box market is exploding and they have these beauty boxes I like, ones for men, dogs, kids, nerds, foodies, pretty much everyone. I found a blogger who’s work I love and she reviews pretty much every one out there and she doesn’t take any “blogger boxes” or money for her actual reviews. She lists lots of deals and you can tell from her site which ones you may like. Its My Subscription Addiction . Aptly named. Don’t say I didn’t warn you would get hooked….

PS…I totally think these would make good gifts for people who have everything and recent grads who have nothing. Watch out if I love you and you fall into one of those categories.

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Leprechaun Tricks | St. Patrick’s Day Science Ideas For Kids

If you know me well, you know that St. Patrick’s Day Science has always been one of my favorite things. When the boys were knee high to a grasshopper I would pull leprechaun tricks like making all the faucets poor out green water.

leprechaun tricks green faucet

But as they have gotten older I have really had to step up my game. That is why I was clicking my little green leprechaun heels when my buddy Susan  invited Carter and I over for a St. Patrick’s Day Science Play Date with Steve Spangler. What was fun is that Carter came and learned how those tricky Leprechauns work and may have some sneaky up his sleeve for Connor this year. But I am not telling.

Boy. He has grown up huh? Carter too...

Boy. He has grown up huh? Carter too…

Steve shared all kinds of fun leprechaun tricks to bring science to life at home. And the good thing is that most of it can be done at home with simple materials OR if you’re pressed for time you can buy a ready made kit-giving parents options!

One of the things I never did with the kids was set up a Leprechaun trap. This would have been so much fun. Here is one great model that I saw at the Spangler workshop.

how to trap a leprechaun

The model on the table could easily be made from a grow light stand if you have one and a funnel. If you don’t, this is an easy PVC project. Maybe Dad wants in on the action? The picture below shows you the basic frame you need but let your kids get creative and see what they come up with on their own. Here are exact Leprechaun Trap instructions if you want some creative help. The rainbows are coming from the diffraction grating glasses that are in the Leprechaun Kit. I put them in front of my Droid Ultra and took this amazing shot (shout out to #VZWBuzz for the phone). You can make something similar at home with this Homemade Kaleidoscope.

Here is a closer look at the Leprechaun trap shown in the picture above.

leprechaun trap example

If you want more idea’s I would suggest 3 things:

  • Get the Leprechaun Science Kit. All the ingredients come with it and its super easy for parents to teach science with. It gives you a handy dandy guide that will make you look like a genius with the kids. It’s 25% off today.
  • Take a more Do-It-Yourself version with a little help and get the downloadable 50 page Leprechaun Science Guide. This uses things you will likely have at home but gives you ideas and help
  • Check out my Pinterest board for more DIY St. Patrick’s Day ideas DIY St. Patrick's Day Ideas
  • Enter my giveaway below.

St. Patrick’s Day Science Leprechaun Tricks Giveaway

It may seem like I work for Spangler Science with as much as I talk about them. I don’t. At all. I was a huge fan girl of Steve before I ever met him. It started when I was teaching 4th grade Science in Las Vegas. Moving to Denver and getting to have play dates with him is just a huge bonus. Just like all the science materials he keeps Carter and I well supplied with. This last time I was there I got two sets of these sample cards (so there will be two winners of the 6 cards seen below) that I want to share with all of you.

leprechaun tricks giveaway

Here are the ways to enter. I will get them mailed out right away so check back next Monday to see if you win and I can get you your stuff in time!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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SPML-Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening | Our Spina Bifida Experience

In October of last year Carter underwent a fairly new and controversial procedure in the spina bifida world, Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening (SPML). Much research is being done with this procedure as it relates to people with CP. But Carter has spina bifida. Could this procedure produce the amazing results the CP community is seeing? Although much was unknown, we (and our insurance) were willing to give this a try to help correct a knee contracture that was a direct result of his year of bed rest, wound flap surgery and failed tendon release.

SPML is done to release the tightening or spasticity of a muscle. The best way I can describe it is to liken it to a meat tenderizer. Small incisions are made so the doctor can access the myofascial (the place where the muscle and tendon overlap). Once inside, hundreds of micro incisions are made in the myofascial, much the way you would tenderize a tough steak. In addition, Carter would have an alcohol nerve block done to help reduce the amount of constant knee pain he felt.

As I said earlier, there is much success with this procedure in the CP community but very few people with spina bifida have tried it. After a lot of research we felt the risks were minimal to Carter with a huge upside if it worked. I am sharing here our experience because not much is written on the web to people with spina bifida seeking information on SPML. I know you all are aware I write very minimally anymore about Carters condition because, as a 15 year old, he doesn’t want his health record online. Understandable. On this he wants to share in hopes of helping someone else. This procedure can cost upwards of $40,000.00 out of pocket so we both feel its important to share our experience.

Here is Carter’s leg before I contacted Dr. Yngve at UTMB in Galveston, TX.

spml before picture contracture

I contacted Dr. Yngve in August of 2013 on the recommendation of our Physical Therapist and after much online research and talking to other parents. We were able to do most of the tests needed here in CO and had the results sent to TX. I had 2 hour long consultations with him prior to heading to Galveston. Talk about a leap of faith. Especially when a few doctors here were not in favor of this procedure for Carter. But we kept telling ourselves we really had nothing to lose. The alternatives are some very nasty, bone breaking, weeks in casts surgeries. We weren’t expecting miracles, we were hoping for some functional gains like being able to pull shorts up without having to vice grip his knees apart. We were hoping to gain better positioning in his wheelchair, not thinking he would walk. Most importantly our insurance was game for it so we had no out of pocket expense other than our travel and if this didn’t work at the very least the alcohol nerve block would put an end to botox injections over the next few years. Like I said…we expected nothing, hoped for everything. It was a one hour out patient procedure. In the realm of what Carter has been through? Sort of a no brainer.

We arrived late Wed in Houston and drove straight to Galveston where we checked into our lovely home for the next few days at the Galvestonian. It was a 15 minute drive from UTMB and a much better choice than a freeway Candlestick Inn. For the first time Carter could access a beach. The hard packed sand gave him his first beach “walk”. We took it as a sign this was meant to be.

boys at galvestonian beach

On Thursday we met with Dr. Yngve and while he thought he could help Carter gain some function he again warned us that we were not likely to see the miracles that people with CP are seeing. Carter was still excited to go through with it.

Friday morning we checked in for the procedure. He was in and out in less than 2 hours. We were given a script for both pain relief and valium to keep the muscles calm. I sort of giggled leaving thinking that Carter hardly ever needs pain meds and this was on his legs which he has very poor sensation AND they gave him the alcohol nerve block. They warned us there would be bruising. For the next part I wish I had pictures.

HOLY HELL. The bruising started a few hours after we got back to the hotel and minutes later we were rushing to fill those scripts. He was in So. Much. Pain. and I swear it looked like someone had beaten him with a stick below his waist. He was so bruised and so sore. Sitting in his chair and going over the slightest bump sent him shrieking in agony. And me, being the confident parent I was that he would have no pain, had plans to drive to Austin and then visit college campuses with Connor for the next few days. I checked with the hotel. There was no room at the proverbial inn. We would have to go to Austin and so we loaded him up on the meds and took a very painful road trip to the Hyatt Lost Pines where we would stay and heal the rest of our time in TX. One thing was good about this plan. He could NOT have flown home in that condition. Nor would I have wanted to because I was not sure what was going on. None of my research had prepared me for the pain he would be in. It appears this may be somewhat unique to the spina bifida world.

Here are the actual before and after measurements

spml before and after measurements

The Hyatt Lost Pines took amazing care of us and I will be writing more in depth about our stay at both places for people seeking a place to stay after medical procedures but suffice it to say after a few days the healing began and the bruising and pain subsided. He needed the meds for probably a week after the procedure. We flew home on Wednesday.

Soon after we returned home he started both PT and OT (hippotherapy) again and he felt GREAT. Within a few weeks his hips were opening wide enough for his first real horse ride.

hippotherapy

Here are his legs at a recent physical therapy appointment.

hips after spmlknee after spml

All in all I would say that the procedure was a success. There are basic functioning skills that have been regained. Dressing is easier as well as transfers. Carter would tell you his pain level is greatly reduced. Instead of constant pain, he only has pain during stretching. His need for botox injections is gone. His PT has said he sees it as a success although feels Carter would have gained more if he had been placed in a dynamic splint right after.

Post surgery I spoke with Dr. Yngve and discussed if another round of this would be beneficial. At the time he didn’t think it would have enough gains to be worth it. I am going to call him again and re-discuss this. I am wondering if the spina bifida population may benefit more from two procedures than a person with CP because they do not see HUGE gains in the initial procedure. There have been gains and it was absolutely worth it but its not a miracle cure for people with SB like you see in some of the CP Youtube videos. At least it wasn’t for Carter. But any increase in function is a success and will be celebrated in this house.

 

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Just Follow Your Heart

This seems to be a tough time for many in my life…17 and 18 year old’s making what they feel is the most important decision in their lives- college, moms struggling to find their new place in the world, lots of people switching jobs and starting new adventures.

Today I challenge you all that are in so much flux….just sit and be. Take yourself out for coffee and listen to what your heart has to say. You know what is right for you. All you have to do is follow your heart.

That doesn’t mean that your heart is always happy. That heaviness in it is a clue that you are not on the right path. Listen to the good as well as the bad. One thing is sure, you do have the answers in your heart. And while they may not be the answers your head wants to hear, if you don’t honor your heart, you can never be happy!

Happy Valentines Day Friends. Love yourselves the way I love you and all will be good.

follow your heart

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Samsung Galaxy S4 VS LG G2 VS Droid Ultra. Who Wins?

When switching over from the world of Apple to the Android market you will be faced with dozens of choices. How does a confused shopper know which is the best model for them? They are all shiny and new and completely different from the trusty iPhone. Here is a secret: Android models really aren’t that different from one another. At the core they are basically the same phone with tweaks that make one a better fit than the other for individuals. Over the last 6 months I have tested the following three Android phones as part of the #VZWBuzz program with Verizon Wireless: Samsung Galaxy S4, LG G2, and the Droid Ultra. While each phone has it’s pro’s and con’s, read on to find out which one is currently in my purse and why. In the end, it is completely unscientific in finding the “best” Android.

galaxy s4 vs lg g2 vs droid ultra

The 13 megapixel rear camera on the Galaxy S4 wins hands down for its ease of use for me. While all three of the cameras have similar shooting modes and software (the Droid camera is 10 megapixel), Samsung’s layout worked best for my brain. I’ve come to learn that I can’t live with any camera that doesn’t have an action shot (burst, drama, etc…-called different things on different camera’s) but basically that shooting mode that takes many shots in short bursts. Samsung’s drama shot can take up to 100 shots in a short burst, guaranteeing that perfect frame in at least one of them. It’s how you make ridiculous shots like this happen.

drama shot

Screen size is probably the biggest reason that I switched from the iPhone so this feature is a biggie for me and for this the LG G2 is the clear winner. Because the G2 has a 5.2 inch LCD screen the colors are more realistic and the viewing area is larger. I was able to easily use this phone to watch a movie on a plane ride home without feeling the need to pull out my iPad. Huge bonus for me as the seats are small enough. The less I have on my lap the happier I am. One thing that I did not like about this large screen though was that many of the widgets made for Androids have a smaller footprint leaving my larger widgets with lots of grid space around the outside. Apparently I am more OCD than I thought because this drove me batty. It’s a sloppy picture but this will give you the idea.

LG G2 widgets too small

Making screen shots and drawing on them using Quick Memo on the LG G2 is really handy.  Another huge win for the G2 for me and I miss on the other phones is the ability to change the background and bubble look on text messages. This is huge for people that accidentally text the wrong person ALL. THE. TIME. I could put the persons pic on the screen so I didn’t make that mistake. G2 wins hands down for personalization. I wasn’t a fan of the back button placement or the user buttons being a part of the screen.

Then comes the Droid Ultra. Huge bonus out of the box is the charger. Nice.

droid ultra unbox

 The other thing you notice when you turn it on is that it beeps and buzzes a lot and sounds very robotic-not in a Siri sort of way but more in the cool sci-fi way. There are a ton of stock options for ringtones and notifications that are just plain fun.It struck me immediately that this is a phone made for my oldest teen. The body is made of Kevlar, making it a tough phone and more resistant to my drops. The Ultra is much more “stock Android” than either the G2 or the S4 which for me makes it feel cleaner. The one widget that I really like is Command Center.
droid ultra home screen screenshot
As you can see, my phone gets used heavily for social media. I like the Droids notifications system for that. My phone can be completely asleep and I can walk up to it and tell exactly what messages I have and the type. I’m visual so the use of all of their graphics appeals to me.

So, what is currently in my purse? The Droid Ultra and here is why…

  • Out of the 3 I find the spell checking and typing to be the most accurate.
  • “OK, Google Now…. ” is also more responsive and accurate.
  • Beeps, buzzes, circles and white kevlar….all just appeal to how I like things to act and sound.
  • Social media notifications that keep me up to date even when the phone is in sleep mode but are not intrusive
  • Its zippy and fun

I need my phone to act as a secretary and this does it well. It also plays better in the social media spaces switching quickly and easily between everything I need.

I think my choice may actually surprise some people but what I said at the beginning is completely true. All of these are great devices. It’s a personal choice. You really have to spend some time thinking about what is most important to you. For me it was a tough choice to change from the LG G2 to the Droid Ultra. I  My friend Sarah swears by her Galaxy S4. For me, it had too much bloatware-apps Samsung wanted me to have that I didn’t feel I needed but then again I am dying to try the Note 3 and I am assuming that will come with the same apps so it couldn’t have bugged me too much. I think I didn’t give the S4 a fair shake in all honesty since it was my first Android experience after years of Apple. Like I said, I am thinking I will love the Samsung Note 3.

I know not everyone has the luxury of having the latest and greatest new phones dropped on their doorsteps and for that I am grateful to be a part of the Verizon Insiders. My best advice is to head into a Verizon and hold the phones, try them out, ask friends what they love and WHY and then use that info to help guide you in figuring out which one has the features you will like. I, also, am a huge fan of the new Edge plans so that you can switch up your phone choice as often as every 30 days!

Here are some links from other Verizon Insiders to help you make an informed choice:

Samsung S4

LG G2

Droid Ultra

Bonus links on the Samsung Note 3 which I have not reviewed yet.

 

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