Category Archives: Sponsored

StriVectin-SD Review and Your Chance to Win $100 Gift Card

When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, my skin care regimen consisted of terribly bad things, like dousing my face with rubbing alcohol to try to clear my pores and get rid of the oils in my skin I believed were “clogging my pores.”

I cringe now when I think of how poorly I cared for my skin in my earlier days. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I begin to take care of my skin and learned the value of having a good skin care regimen. It wasn’t until then that I started to notice, or even worry about, things like “fine lines” and “crow’s feet” and “wrinkles”.

I’m 41 now, and so I am careful to do all the things I can to care for my skin. I make sure to drink plenty of water to keep my skin hydrated; I try to get plenty of sleep to keep my eyes from looking puffy and tired. Most importantly, I make sure to do these things every night before I go to bed:

Remove my eye makeup.

Wash my face with warm-ish water, using a good cleanser.

Apply an eye cream.

Moisturize.

I do this routine every night, without fail, except for the rare night that I pass out on the couch while trying to catch up on my recorded television shows because I am old.

I don’t spend a ton of money on creams and potions, but if I hear about something that really works and that’s worth spending money on, I will splurge and give it a try. When I was given to opportunity to receive StriVectin-SD™ Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles and give it a try for a review, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been told really good things about this product and was super excited to use it on my 41 year old skin.

 

I briefly considered using the product on my stretch marks but decided against it. I’ve had these stretch marks on my body for almost 20 years, they’ve grown on me and become part of who I am. So I chose to use the products on my face because while I’m not super stressed out about wrinkles, I wouldn’t be sad to see them diminish. I’ve been using the product for about two weeks now and here is what I can tell you.

I love the way the StriVectin-SD™ Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles feels when it goes on. It’s got a bit of a minty smell and feel to it, but it’s not overwhelming. It doesn’t feel heavy or greasy at all. My skin feels invigorated after I apply it. I absolutely notice a difference in the way my skin looks and feels. The texture of my skin has improved. It’s softened, and it feels and looks much smoother. I don’t yet notice a huge change on the wrinkles, but my skin has definitely improved.

My husband even commented when I was putting my makeup on yesterday, so I’m not the only one who noticed.

StriVectin is the leading clinical anti-aging brand that rebuilds skin health over time, based on 25 years of biological research. Only StriVectin formulas have a patented, clinically-proven NIA-114 molecule that powers up skin to help repair damage and fight off all visible signs of aging for a youthful look and feel. The box claims that by week 2, my “skin will look smoother and more resilient.” Learn more about StriVectin on their website.

I have to say, that is very true of my skin. I actually look forward to see what happens as I continue using this over the next couple of months!

What interests you most about NIA-114, a key active ingredient in StriVectin-SD™ Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles? Leave a comment and be automatically entered for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card. You must leave a valid email address to win!

Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1.       Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2.       Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3.       Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4.       For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 2/25/13-3/24/13.

Be sure to visit the StriVectin brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Comments are now closed. Thank you.

Our Family Day At Knott’s Berry Farm.

I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life. There are places here that are near and dear to my heart because of the memories made both as a child and as an adult with my own children. Knott’s Berry Farm is one of those places.

If you’re not familiar with Knott’s Berry Farm, let me tell you a little bit about it. Knotts Berry Farm is a theme park in Orange County. It’s 160 acres and has five themed areas. There are roller coasters, thrill rides, live shows and attractions. Something fun for all ages, for sure!

It also has funnel cake. Delicious, fresh, fruit-topped funnel cake I sometimes dream about.

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A Love Story (And a Chance to Win a $100 Visa Gift Card.)

I got married when I was nineteen years old. Needless to say, I did not have a chance to experience The World of Dating. I mostly feel grateful I didn’t have to experience bad or weird or scary dates to find the man of my dreams. However, my lack of experience in the World of Dating makes me very curious about the dating lives of other people. I love hearing stories of how people met, about their first dates, or about all of the bad dates they had to go on to find The One. My sister-in-law recently met the man of her dreams and married him in November of 2010.

Let me tell you about these two.

They are in love. Head over heels in love. They connect in every way-physically, spiritually, emotionally. A year later, they are still going strong. How did they meet?

On eHarmony.

As part of this program, I sat down to talk to her about her experience. Here is what she had to say.

Me: Was there a reason you chose eHarmony over the other dating websites out there?

Her: Yes, absolutely. The other sites had reputations for being “meat markets.” On one of the sites, it was possible for anyone to view your profile and see your photo. Most people base whether they want to date you or not based on your photo. That’s not the case with eHarmony. I had to fill out a very intensive survey that took me a long time to fill out. They really try to get to know your personality. Then, the only people who are allowed to see your profile are those who eHarmony matches you with, based on your personality.

Me: How many dates did you go on before you met Steve?

Her: Six. Most of those dates were meeting for coffee. I didn’t want to get stuck in an uncomfortable situation because I didn’t click with the person. Honestly? I clicked with every person I went on a date with. I had something in common with every one of them. We had great conversations. The only problem was that there wasn’t a romantic connection. I remember thinking to myself “even if I don’t end up dating this person, I could see myself being friends with them!”

Me: When you met Steve, when did you know he was the one?

Her: I knew right away, and so did he. We waited a year and a half to get married, but we only waited that long because we thought it was the responsible thing to do. We both knew in our hearts we were meant to be together.

For a chance to win a $100 gift card, courtesy of eHarmony and BlogHer, answer the following question in comments:What is the most important character trait your partner must have and why? Can’t wait to read your responses!

Rules:

No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 2/14/2012 – 3/15/2012.
Visit the BlogHer.com eHarmony page to check out more blogger success stories and for more chances to win!

The One Where I Interview My Boys About Texting.

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Earlier this week I interviewed my boys using questions that readers left in my previous LG post (thank you, readers. You are wonderful.) My boys were excited to take part in this interview. I did not have to force them, in fact, they kept asking me “when are we doing our interviews, Mom?” I was relieved at their answers and yes, I believe that they were answering honestly. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the part where I got called out by my son, but yay, honesty!
I feel like I need to mention that I did not watch the videos–the sound of my speaking voice makes me cringe (Also? There is a reason I do not do interviews for a living.)– but I do hope that YOU watch and that you enjoy the conversation I had with my boys.
Because this topic is so important for our kids and their futures, BlogHer really wants to get the conversation about texting, sexting and safety going – both with our kids and among parents. It will match LG’s donation of .50 to dosomething.org for every comment on this post.

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The One Where I Ask You To Help Me Interview My Teenage Boys.

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Earlier I was asked to participate in LG’s Text Ed campaign. I agreed because I have two teenage boys (Two! Teenage! Boys! How am I still alive and walking around this world?) and this topic is relevant to my life.
In my first post on this subject, I made a confession:

I have 2 teenage sons who both have cell phones and who both use those cell phones for texting. I suppose as a responsible parent, one would expect me to say that I’ve had conversations with them about “sexting.” But the truth is, I haven’t.
I have had conversations about what is and is not appropriate to post online. But I’ve never had the conversation about what is and is not appropriate to send via text messages.
I trust my children with their cell phones. They’ve been responsible cell phone users and to my knowledge, have never engaged in sexting. But, I suppose I would never know that unless I checked their text messages.
I do not check my children’s text messages.

This is about to change. As part of the LG Text Ed campaign, I am going to interview my boys on this subject and post that interview here. But! I need your help. Will you help me? I’m looking for suggestions for questions that I will ask my boys. The questions can be anything cell phone related–phone ettiquite, sexting, bullying. Keep in mind that I am open and honest with my boys and that they have an AMAZING sense of humor. So, this will not only be educational, but most likely HIGHLY ENTERTAINING. You’re going to want to be a part of this. Trust me.
Added Bonus: Your comment will help others!
Because this topic is so important for our kids and their futures, BlogHer really wants to get the conversation about texting, sexting and safety going – both with our kids and among parents. It will match LG’s donation of .50 to dosomething.org for every comment on this post.
So, would you please be so kind, so helpful and give me your suggestions on questions for my boys? Dosomething.org will get a $1.00 for each and every one.

The Story of Our Joy Unexpected

I was asked to write a birth story to coincide with Discovery Health’s Baby Week. I agreed because it was the perfect motivation to finally write Her Story. (And no, I was not paid to write this.)

*******
It was August 2nd, two days before my due date. I had been down this road twice before. I knew what the beginning of labor felt like. I knew that the time had finally arrived. I was only 4 days late, but it felt like 4 months. This pregnancy was not planned. This pregnancy had come at a difficult time in our lives. But we had 9 months to get over the shock, 9 months to fall in love with The Baby We Never Thought We’d Have.

I wanted some time alone with my boys before I had the baby. I wanted one last chance to have just the two of them, only 11 and 7 years old, before their baby sister arrived.

“Mommy is going to have her baby soon.” I told them. “Would you like to lay on the couch with me until it’s time for Dad to take me to the hospital?”

In one of the sweetest, most touching moments of my life as a mother, my two beautiful sons lay on the sofa, one on each side of me, their heads on my lap. I ran my fingers through there hair as I told him how much I loved them. How lucky I was to be their Mama. Tears began running down my cheeks as I tried to imagine how our lives together would change with a new baby in the house.

“Why are you crying, Mommy? Does it hurt?” My youngest asked, while looking up at me. He always worries about his Mama, that one.

“Just a little bit.” I answered. “But don’t worry. I was fine when I had you and your brother. I’m going to be fine.”

They took turns asking questions. “What will it feel like?” “How long will it take?” “How bad will it hurt?” I would answer each question as honestly and delicately as I could, pausing only to breathe in between contractions. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more loved by my boys as I did on that night. Nor do I think I’ve ever felt such guilt– how could I put them through this? How could I make them worry about me? How could I bring another child into our perfect little family? Did they think they weren’t enough? Because oh my God, they were more than enough.

They eventually feel asleep, but I stayed awake, just staring at their precious faces. “If anything happens to me, I hope they know how very much I love them.” I thought to myself, as they lay there next to me.

The contractions began to get stronger and closer together and although I was determined to stay at home to labor on my own for as long as possible, I truly felt like “it was time.” I left the boys on the couch, made sure everything was packed and told my husband that it was time to go. We packed up the van, took the boys to Grandma’s house and left for the hospital.
Kissing them good bye that early morning wasn’t easy. I knew they were experiencing a plethora of emotions– fear, excitement, nervousness– and I couldn’t be there to help them through it.
I hated that.

The entire way to the hospital, I worried about my boys.

“Do you think they’re okay?” I’d ask, in between contractions.

“They’re fine.” My husband would respond.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Your Mom will take good care of them and they’ll come to see you in the morning. They’re fine!”

We arrived at the hospital at 6am. I was SURE they’d tell me I was already dilated to 10 and ready to push! SURE OF IT! But after checking me, the news was pretty much the exact opposite of “you’re ready to push!”

“You’re only dilated to 1 and a half. I know the contractions are close together, but you still have a while to go. We’re going to send you home. You’re scheduled for induction on the 4th– we’ll probably see you back then!”

It was the 2nd.

And I was 4 days late.

I looked at my husband and said “I want to kick her in the teeth! There is no possible way I can stand 2 more days of this! (I was in labor! Labor makes you say crazy things!)

They sent me home and I wasn’t happy about it. And I made sure that everyone in the elevator on the way down to the lobby knew it. I cursed and cried and cursed some more. If this wasn’t The Real Thing, how would I know when it was? How would I know when to come back? I was scared. And in pain. SO MUCH PAIN.

We arrived back home after what felt like an 8 hour drive. Time goes slow when you’re contracting and breathing and still cursing the nurse for sending you home. I was an emotional and physical wreck. My husband walked to the bedroom, where I stripped out of my clothes to TRY to find even a shred of comfort in my bed. Just as I laid down, there was a knock on our front door. “Who could that be?” I asked in horror. This was the absolute worst possible time for a visitor.

Turns out, it was my Mother in law and her cleaning crew. I forgot that she had offered to come over and clean my house before I had the baby. (Which I recognized later was such a kind, thoughtful thing to do. it’s just kind of hard to sees things that way when you’re laying naked on your bed, four days past your due date, having contractions and stuff.)
“I don’t want her here!” I cried. “I’m in labor! I don’t want to deal with anyone right now.”
“You won’t have to deal with her, Babe.” My husband said, trying to reason with a woman in labor.

“But what if she comes in here and WANTS TO TALK TO ME? I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO HER RIGHT NOW.” I snapped back. “Ohh, FINE. Let her in, just make sure you tell her not to come in my room. I DON’T WANT ANYONE IN HERE, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

It was almost impossible to relax while I heard the scrubbing of tubs and the vacuuming of carpets. I kept reminding myself that she was doing something nice! (Which, she was.) But the noise, it was too much for me to deal with. I left the house and went for a walk up and down my street. That was a lovely sight for my neighbors, I’m sure! Here I was, in full blown labor, taking a few steps, stopping, breathing and then crying because “It huuuurts!”
I had been having contractions for over 14 hours, I was in pain, I was tired, but mostly, I was scared and confused. Was it too early to go back to the hospital? Or what if I had waited too long? I told my husband I wanted to go back.

When we arrived at the hospital, they hooked me up to the monitor. Contractions were strong. They checked my cervix again. It was only dilated to 2-3. I couldn’t believe it. “Can you break my water?” I asked, in a very desperate tone. “Won’t that help speed things along?”
“Unfortunately, we can’t. The baby’s head is still too high and the cervix is still too hard. We’re going to keep you here now, though, because the baby’s heart beat is dropping a little with the contractions.” I immediately panicked on the inside, but kept it together on the outside. She then said things like “monitor closely” and “possible emergency c-section.”
Do I need to tell you how scared I was? Because I was scared.

I thought this birth would be so easy! I mean, I had done it twice before! I thought by the time you got to the third one, they practically just FELL OUT.” Apparently, I was wrong about that.

The nurse asked me several times if I wanted an epidural. The answer was, no, I didn’t want an epidural. “But, the pain.” She said, as if I had NO clue that it would be painful. As if I needed a reminder. “I am terrified of needles.” I explained. “And the thought of a needle IN MY SPINE is worse than the pain as far as I’m concerned. Also? The idea of not being able to fell my legs freaks me out!”

Next, it was the doctors turn to ask me if I wanted an epidural.
The answer was the same as the one I had given the nurse. “No.”
“But, the pain.” He said. (Again,with The Pain reasoning.)
“I know about the pain.” I snapped back. “But I’m scared of needles in my back!”
And then, he said something that made me want to kick him in the place it would hurt him the most.

“Well, if I were you, I’d be more scared of The Pain than of a needle.”

Way to be supportive of my choices, Doctor!

Labor went on for what seemed like forever with very little results. They finally decided it was safe to break my water, but only after I begged them over and over again. After the water was broke, things finally began to progress. Contractions became more regular and more intense. I started to dilate. And then? I started to SCREAM FOR DRUGS!

The nurse gladly gave me a shot of I don’t remember what. But I do remember that it made me pass out. And of course that was the exact moment that my boys came in to visit me. I remember they came in and stood next to me. I remember they asked me if I was okay. I remember hearing their voices, but not seeing their faces as I had a hard time opening my eyes. They love to imitate me during that visit. They thought it was HILARIOUS that I was unable to say words properly and that I was quite possible drooling. They kissed me good bye and went back to the waiting room with the family. Shortly after they left, my Dad came in to visit and to pray for me. (My Dad is a pastor.) He went to lay his hands on me. “Don’t touch me.” I slurred at him, in my drugged out state of mine. He ignored me and placed his hand on my forehead. “DON’T TOUCH ME!” I said, possibly while slapping his hand away from me. I was in so much pain, so miserable, the last thing I wanted was to be touched. (I blame the drugs!)

The medication began to wear off and oh, how it hurt. It felt like one continuous contraction that WOULD.NOT.END. I called my husband over.

“Baby.” I cried. “It hurts so bad! I need more drugs.”

“Oh, honey.” He said, all lovingly. “Your breath is HORRID. You need a breath mint.

NOT “Okay, I’ll get the nurse and get you some more drugs!” NOT “Can I get you some ice chips?” NOT any of those things that a husband most definitely should say to his wife who is in labor. Nope. His answer was “You need a breath mint.”

I literally could not believe he said that. COULD.NOT.BELIEVE.IT.

“I don’t give a @#%@ if my@@%&#!! breath stinks! I’m TRYING TO HAVE A BABY HERE! I’M IN PAIN!”

Apparently, my breath was so bad, he was willing to risk his life to continue to convince me that I should pop a breath mint in my mouth.

“But honey. Think of the doctor. It’s really bad. I’ll be right back.” And he left the room. He returned within a few minutes, with smile on his face and package of breath mints in his hand. He then proceeded to open it and lovingly put one in my mouth.

And then I punched him in the neck.

KIDDING! But I really, really wanted to.

Twenty two-ish hours had passed since I first began labor. There are no words to describe how tired I was or how much pain I was in.

“I WANT AN EPIDURAL!” I shouted, surprising everyone, including myself. But I simply couldn’t take the pain for a minute longer. I thought I would die.

A few minutes later, I was sitting up, bent over, trying not to pass out as a woman inserted the needle into my lower back. I was surprised at how easy the whole thing was and wanted to kick myself for not having done it sooner, or with my previous two births. I waited for it to numb things up, but I still felt pain. “Should it still be hurting?” I asked the nurse. “Why is it still hurting?”

The anesthesiologist came back right away to adjust things, but the pain was still there. It was at that point the nurse decided it was time to “check down there” again.

“Oh my goodness” she said “you’re dilated to 10! It’s time to start pushing!”

I suddenly didn’t care that I still had pain because, I could push! My baby was almost here! Pain? What pain?

I was wheeled into the delivery room, followed by my husband and my sister who would be recording the birth. I couldn’t believe that the moment had finally arrived. Suddenly, I felt energized, excited to finally meet my daughter.

“P-U-S-H!” The nurse shouted. “Come on, you’re doing so good! Keep going! Harder! Harder!”

“Oh, baby.” My husband said. “I can see her hair. She has so much hair!”

I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. “What color is it?” I asked

“It’s black. Jet black. And it’s so thick!”

“Oh, I can’t wait to see her. I can’t wait to meet my daughter.”

I pushed for almost an hour.

“The head is out.” The doctor said. “Give me one more push and you’ll get to meet your daughter.”

My daughter. The daughter I never thought I’d have. Just one more push til I’d get to see her beautiful face.

I pushed with everything that I had left in me.

It was 12:18 am, my daughter took her very first breath. “It’s a girl!” the doctor said while holding her up for me to see.

birth

There she was. My daughter. She was more beautiful than I had imagined she would be.
My husband wept as he started at the little girl he had always dreamed of having.
They placed her in my arms. I placed my nose against her warm, damp cheeks and inhaled. “I love you. I love you I love you I love you.” I whispered. My husband leaned in and kissed me. Then he kissed his daughter. All of the fears I had about bringing a new baby into our family vanished in that moment. She belonged with us. I couldn’t wait for her brothers to see her, to hold her. They’d love her, I just knew it. And oh, how she would love them.

ourfirstlook

In that moment, I knew that life was as she should be.