Archive of ‘Health + Beauty’ category

Your Kids Don’t Care About Your Imperfect Body: They Care About You


Stop body shaming yourself. Don't let your insecurities about your body prevent you from having fun with your kids. They don't care how you look- they care about YOU! | The Champagne Supernova

Body shaming.

We hear about this all the time. About how we need to stop body shaming other women and nurturing an environment that creates unreasonable expectations about how we should look and sets a bad example for young women.

But what about when we body shame ourselves?

I was scrolling through my camera of photos from a recent family vacation when it caught my eye.

The hotel where we were staying on this vacation had a duck pond near the pool area. The kids and I had a blast feeding the ducks, swimming, and playing pool games. One of the pictures, which my husband must have taken, was of the kids squatting along the edge of the pond tossing food pellets to one of the ducks.

In the background of that picture was an elderly woman wearing a one-piece swimsuit. She was also bent over feeding the ducks, with her aged, flat booty facing the camera.

Then I looked closer.

It wasn’t an old lady.

It was me.

I gave the camera to my husband, pointed to the picture, and asked him if my butt really looked that way in real life.

It wasn’t a firm and round butt.

It was a stereotypical flapjack style middle-aged mom butt.

I think it was a bad angle. You’re standing in an awkward position.

Lies. My husband was avoiding the question.

Then I got all lawyer on him and the deposition began.

How long has my butt looked like this?

Do you think it’s because of all the wine we drink?

Or because I’ve had two kids?

Or because I need to start doing a thousand lunges a day?

Perhaps its because I’m getting older?

Maybe I’ve got a hormone imbalance, like a bad thyroid?

Do you think I can start contouring my butt with makeup like the Kardashians contour their faces? 

I stressed and obsessed about my mom butt for a couple days.

The self-shaming was out of control.

I started discussing it with some of my mom friends.

Then I quickly discovered that they all have insecurities, too.

Saggy boobs. Flabby stomachs. C-Section scars. Double chins. Thinning hair. Adult acne. Cellulite.

One afternoon, when I was in the middle of a phone conversation with one of my girlfriends talking about our mom butts, I looked over and saw my five year-old daughter playing legos by herself in the living room.

I got off the phone and started playing with her.

We laughed, we smiled, we told stories, we worked on a school project. We made ice cream sundaes and giggled when I accidentally spilled multi-colored sprinkles all over the floor. We made figurines out of play-doh and pretended to work in a restaurant. Her waitress name was Flo and mine was Linda. She took customer orders while I prepared the food. Today’s Special was beef stroganoff and fried cod.

We had the best day.

And then it dawned on me.

My daughter didn’t care about my flapjack style middle-aged mom butt.

She cared about spending time with me.

The same is true for the way all children feel about their moms. They don’t care about your saggy boobs, flabby stomach, C-section scar, double chin, thinning hair, adult acne, or your cellulite.

They care about you.

Spending quality time with you.

Laughing with you.

Playing with you.

Making memories with you.

When your kids are adults, they won’t remember your minor physical imperfections. What they will remember are the memories you created and the relationships you nurtured. The fun you had together and the lessons you taught them. They will remember that you made them a priority. The way you loved them.

That’s what they’ll remember.

Not the small details about your body.

They think you’re perfect just the way you are. 

And you know what?

Who cares if we have mom butts?

We are moms, after all.

We need to stop body shaming ourselves.

So ladies, as summertime and swimsuit season are upon us, don’t be afraid to jump in the pool and go swimming with your kids because you are trying to avoid being seen in a bathing suit. Don’t be ashamed that you’re wearing a one-piece instead of a Brazilian cut bikini. Don’t worry about getting your hair wet because it’s curly and dries funky. Take the plunge.

You are your own worst critic and nobody else is paying attention anyway. Don’t let your own minor imperfections rob you of enjoying experiences with your kids while they’re still little. Don’t let your insecurities steal your peace of mind.

Cheers!

    Sleeplessness: How to Beat Insomnia


    Tips for How to Cure Insomnia | The Champagne Supernova

    Obviously this little chica has no problems falling asleep.

    I’ve been plagued with insomnia since Labor Day weekend of 2013.

    I remember the exact timeframe because we were out of town for the three-day holiday weekend and because it’s when I found out I was pregnant with my youngest daughter.

    It was horrible. I would lie awake at night for hours, bargaining with God that if he would just let me fall asleep, I would never ever ever ever ________________ again. Ever.

    Incessantly checking my iPhone to see what time it was would only make things worse because, as the night turned into morning, I would become increasingly anxious about how tired I would be the next day at work and about all of the papers that were overflowing from my inbox.

    Taking melatonin and other natural sleep aids helped with getting me to fall asleep, but they didn’t help me stay asleep. Like clockwork, my body would routinely wake itself up at 2:30 a.m. and getting back to sleep seemed impossible.

    My obstetrician prescribed hard-core sleep aids but, being aware of the side effects (nightmares!) coupled with being pregnant and not wanting to take the risk, I never took them. (Which is a good thing, given how I was assured that Zofran was safe to take, was popping them like Pez, then recently have seen all these commercials for class action lawsuits associated with birth defects purportedly from the Zofran. Yikes!)

    Hoping the insomnia was strictly related to pregnancy hormones, I was hopeful I’d be back to my eight-hours-of-sleep self once I had the baby.

    Wrong.

    If you have insomnia, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 50-70 million adults in the United States alone have sleep or wakefulness disorder.

    Not being able to sleep is the worst. Until recently, my sleep schedule has never really been the same.

    However, I’ve found ways to manage my insomnia through trial and error that I want to share with you.

    Here’s my tips.

    Stay Away from Alcohol. This is Numero Uno. This past Friday night, I had two glasses of red wine and binge-watched Netflix with my husband. Despite being exhausted, I couldn’t stay asleep. Drinking alcohol exacerbates my insomnia 100% of the time, and it never ever fails. There has never been a time when I had a good night’s sleep if I drank, and this is true whether I drank one glass of wine or ten. In fact, many studies now show that drinking alcohol is directly connected to insomnia. I used to come home from work and have a glass of wine, but now I’ve stopped that habit and try to stay away from alcohol unless the occasion is truly worth it.   

    Fall Asleep on a Mental Good Note. If you’re like me, you have a hard time getting your brain to be quiet. There were times when I would go to bed stressed out about stuff that was on my mind, things I need to check off my “to do” list, or worries from the day. I enjoy daily devotionals and, while some recommend waking up early and doing them in the morning, I think it’s a good idea to do them in the evenings so it’s the last thing your brain thinks about before falling asleep. (Thanks for the tip, mom!) I enjoy Joyce Meyer’s “Trusting God Day By Day” (you can get it here).

    Other great devotionals and meditation books I recommend include Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women by Karen Casey (get it here) and Journey to the Heart by Melanie Beattie (get it here).

    Use a Diffuser with Essential Oils. Something about the natural component of lavender oil makes it easier for me to fall asleep. I bought a diffuser from my local health food store and purchased some high quality lavender oil and turn on the diffuser, which I keep near the night stand, before bed. It’s like a spa in my room. I’ve used many different brands of essential oils and, in my experience, you get what you pay for. The more expensive oils contain a higher concentration of the ingredients (e.g. are not watered down) and tend to be more effective. If you’re not spending at least $15 on the oil, you’re likely wasting your time. While the bottles are small, you only need to put 3-4 drops of the oil in the diffuser, so they last a long time.

    Create a Special Nighttime Ritual. Each night before bed, I like to create a special routine to get my mind in the mood for sleeping. This involves lathering myself with Beautycounter’s Body Oil in Citrus Rosemary and putting the Lip Conditioner Calendula Balm on my lips. Makes a huge difference. (I am a Beautycounter consultant and would greatly appreciate if you would list me, Jennifer Burby, if you make the purchase!)

    Keep Your Phone Out of Your Bedroom. When I would usually wake up in the middle of the night, I would start reading emails and scrolling through social media on my phone, which would only make it more difficult for me to fall back asleep. I recently purchased a cheap old-fashioned alarm clock and keep it in my room instead of the phone. Big difference in my sleep pattern, as I don’t have the accessible temptation to check my phone.

    Godspeed to all of my friends out there who suffer from insomnia. It’s the very worst.

    What are your tips for getting a handle on it that I missed?

    Cheers!

      Coming to Tampa: Sprouts Farmers Market


      While this post is sponsored by Sprouts, I love this company because it promotes affordable healthy living!

      Attention mamas, fitness enthusiasts, and health-conscious consumers: there’s a new grocery store coming to the Tampa area next month!

      Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a location in Carrollwood at 15110 N. Dale Mabry Highway in the Carrollwood Commons Shopping Center on Wednesday, February 27. 

      South Tampa friends: Sprouts is also opening a location in this area in 2017.

      The Carrollwood location will be the very first Sprouts in the Sunshine State.

      I’m so pumped they chose Tampa!

      Never heard of Sprouts Farmers Market? Let me share the deets.

      Sprouts is a healthy grocery store that offers fresh, organic, and natural foods at great prices. 

      The challenge of eating healthy is that it puts a dent in your wallet.

      Here’s the thing: unlike some of the competitors, Sprouts makes it affordable to eat healthy, wholesome foods.

      In addition, Sprouts offers a complete shopping experience that includes fresh produce, meat (with an old-time style butcher), seafood, a deli, baked goods, dairy, frozen foods, household items, and beauty care catering to those interested in health, wellness, and saving money.

      We all work hard for our moolah and deserve a reasonably priced alternative to our existing organic grocery store options.

      One of the fastest growing retail grocery chains, Sprouts has over 250 stores from coast to coast and 35 new stores are slated to open in 2017. It currently operates in 13 states and will expand in the southeast by opening stores in Florida and North Carolina.

      90% of the products in each Sprouts store are natural or organic. As customers are becoming increasingly concerned with the quality, safety and production of food and are seeking items with specific attributes, an average Sprouts store stocks roughly 4,000 gluten-free, 3,000 organic, 3,000 non-GMO and 500 raw items, just to name a few.

      There’s something for every need, desire, and dietary restriction.

      The vitamin and body care departments of each Sprouts store feature over 7,500 products that contain sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients.

      Check out Sprouts’ website for more information.

      With all the money you’ll be saving buying groceries and eating healthier foods at Sprouts, you’ll have money for other important things.

      Such as clothes to fit into your newly toned physique, a babysitter so you can enjoy date nights with your spouse, and wine.

      Lots of wine.

      I can’t wait to attend the grand opening on February 22 and hope you will join me for this special occasion. If you see me, introduce yourself and say hello.

      Cheers to Sprouts!

       

        How I Stay Confident with the Secret Fresh Collection


        This post is being sponsored via Babbleboxx. But I love the product, really I do. 

        Women usually hear about all sorts of things that happen with the aging process.

        Slowing metabolism.

        Vision loss.

        Sagging boobs and booties.

        What women don’t hear about is how the nose also starts losing the sense of smell.

        After spending over 10,000 hours of research involving more than 500 noses across multiple countries, Secret has learned that 70% of women switch deodorant because they believe their bodies have gotten used to their regular, everyday product.

        What’s really happening is that the nose can eventually become blind to the scent of deodorant, which makes some women feel less confident.

        After all: being smelly is the pits.

        However, it’s not just deodorant the nose can become blind to: it’s your favorite perfume, candle scents, and even certain foods.

        This March, Secret is introducing the Fresh Collection, the first beauty product to ever feature the brand new patented Fade Resistant Scent Technology. This scent-enhancing technology has been proven to combat nose-blindness by resisting the scent fade, while also providing long-lasting fragrance benefits for up to 48 hours.

        My favorite Secret deodorant fragrance (TMI? Perhaps, but we’re all friends here) is Cool Waterlily, which reminds me of being at a fancy-schmancy spa. (The collection has a total of 11 scents in both clear gel and invisible solid.) I tested it on a day I knew would be especially hard: waking up at 5:30 for a challenging spin class, followed by coming home and making lunch, taking my oldest daughter to school, spending several grueling hours at the office, followed by after-school pickup, taking both girls to gymnastics, heading home and making dinner, followed by baths and bedtime. (That was exhausting just to write!) By the end of the day, I could still smell the scent of the deodorant. That never happened with the deodorant I was using before. Evah!

        The new Fade Resistant Scent Technology is specially designed to provide 48-hour protection, providing you with reassurance your deodorant is working as hard as you are. In other words, this product has passed the stress test for women and results in unstoppable freshness!

        Some of my other favorite items and products for combating stress?

        FTD Bouquet. Man, I love getting flowers. FTD creates special moments that lets the ones who are close to you know how much you care. FTD is your one-stop-shop for all of your delivery needs and is a sign you are sending the very best.

        How I stay confident with the Secret deodorant Fresh Scents Collection | The Champagne Supernova

        La Fresh Limited Edition Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipes. Sometimes it can seem impossible to get mascara removed for your lashes. I recently discovered these beauties which, for the past decade, tens of millions of women have enjoyed these original makeup remover wipes. To celebrate their tenth birthday, the folks at La Fresh revisited their roots and returned with these special, limited edition waterproof makeup remover wipes. They are effective on even the most stubborn makeup, yet gentle enough to not harm your skin. What I also love about these wipes is they are made in California using solar power. Right now, they are running a special offer where customers receive 25% off their first purchase. Check it out here.

        How I stay confident with the Secret deodorant Fresh Scents Collection | The Champagne Supernova

        Tree Hut Bare Moisturizing Shave Oil.  This product pampers skin with essential oils like jojoba and grape seed, which help seal in moisture and promote healthy skin. The moisturizing shave oil is formulated to provide better contact between your skin and the razor so you can shave without nicks and cuts. Love-love-love this! Get yours here.

        How I stay confident with the Secret deodorant Fresh Scents Collection | The Champagne Supernova

        21 Drops Detox Essential Oil Blend. This is a must-have in my already cramped purse. This is an essential oil solution that is pre-blended with distinct essential oils that come together to treat a particular concern or aspiration. By carefully combining the oils, they work in synergy to deliver on their targeted promise for a healthier mind and body. My personal favorite, detox, fuses the 100% natural essential oils of cardamom, geranium, juniper, and lavender. Check out all the options here.

        How I stay confident with the Secret deodorant Fresh Scents Collection | The Champagne Supernova

        Cheers to staying confident all the dang day through!

         

          Beauty: How I Changed my Skin on the Cheap


          How to drastically improve your skin without spending a lot of money | The Champagne Supernova

          I’ve always battled acne and I have the scars to prove it.

          All over my cheeks.

          Over the years, I’ve fruitlessly spent tons of money and put myself through a lot of pain trying to get rid of my them, but now they are like battle scars that I wear with a badge of honor.

          Ok, that’s a lie. I hate them, but refuse to allow them to make me feel insecure.

          Over it.

          My acne was at its peak when I was in high school. I remember being mortified during summertime when I would hit the beach with my flawless-skinned friends and feeling like I was in between a rock and a hard place in the beauty department. By that time, my acne was horrible. Horrible. I knew it was bad to wear makeup to the beach when I would be sweating and in the sun, but I also didn’t want to be seen without foundation and concealer because my skin was so terrible.

          Red and irritated.

          So I ignored my gut instinct, caked my face with makeup, and my skin only got worse.

          My mother didn’t want to put me on Accutane because of the side effects. My primary care physician recommended that she purchase a popular over-the-counter three-part system containing benzoyl peroxide that would clear up my skin without the risks that came with Accutane.

          It worked.

          But it also smelled bad, stained my pillows, sheets, and clothes, and also contained tons of toxins that are banned in other countries.

          Oh, the price we pay…

          The bad skin continued into my adulthood and got worse with the stress daily life. Moves. Career changes. Kids.

          Over the last couple of years, I’ve stopped putting so much stuff on my skin and can really say that less is so much more.

          Here’s what my skin looked like four short years ago:

          How to get beautiful skin without spending a lot of money | The Champagne Supernova

          Dead. Sexy.

          Here’s another golden delight:

          How to get beautiful skin without spending a lot of money | The Champagne Supernova

          Ohhhhhh baby. Pun intended. What’s redder? My shirt or my face?

          And another. Even all the professional bridesmaid makeup couldn’t hide the redness and inflammation of my face.

          How to get beautiful skin without spending a lot of money | The Champagne Supernova

          Good dance moves brought to you by a little nerve and a lot of red wine.

          I started a new skincare regime around eight months ago and this is the result. I am not wearing any makeup in this photo, other than my usual uniform of fuchsia lipstick, which doesn’t count. This picture was taken during Thanksgiving weekend of 2016 and has not been altered or photoshopped in any manner.

          Here’s what I did to transform my skin on the cheap:

          Lay off the Dairy. Sorry, folks, but this means cheese and milk. Studies show that 80- 85% of adult acne is connected to the consumption of dairy, which is an inflammatory. I love, love, love cheese and yogurt. They were difficult to part with. However, once I cut them from my diet, I saw a measurable difference in the appearance of my skin. For most people, it’s nearly impossible to cut all dairy from your diet, especially when dining out at restaurants. Because I didn’t want to become neurotic and worry about what was in my food (you have to live your life), I decided to cut out blatant dairy products like drinking glasses of milk and snacking on yogurt and cheese. There was still a huge difference in my skin and it took two weeks for the impact to be noticeable.

          Stop Using the Wrong Products. Most cleansers, especially ones formulated for acne-prone skin, are too harsh. When you have a breakout, the worst thing to put on your skin is something that will make it even more red and irritated. Start treating your acne-prone skin like sensitive skin. Reducing inflammation begins with eliminating harsh cleansers from your routine. Don’t be scared! I promise it works. These harsh cleansers strip your skin of natural oils that were meant to protect your skin. If your skin is stripped, it can become chronically oily, which results in the body making more oils to compensate for the oils that are stripped. It’s a hamster wheel. You must use a gentle cleanser. How to tell if your cleanser is too harsh? If your face feels tight or dry after you wash it. If it burns when you sweat. If it gets red in areas that are broken out. When choosing a cleanser, don’t select something that foams or lathers. Known ingredients that contribute to acne are sulfates, alcohol, isopropyl, silicones, mineral oil, paraffins, fragrances, and algae extracts. Contrary to popular myth, you don’t want to have a squeaky clean feeling after you wash your face. Use something more gentle that doesn’t contain these ingredients and is specifically formulated for sensitive skin.

          Wash Your Face Once a Day. If you are washing your face before bedtime and being sure to remove all of your makeup, there is absolutely no reason to wash your face again in the morning. This is true even if you work out in the morning. When I go to the gym in the morning and come home to get ready for the day, I splash water on my face in the shower. I don’t cleanse it again. This rule goes hand in hand with Rule #2 above about avoiding stripping your skin of its natural oil. I used to wash my face twice a day and my skin looks so much better now that I’m taking a break from all the products. Bonus: you’ll save money on products when you’re only washing once a day.

          Shots, shots, shots. Of wheatgrass, wheatgrass, wheatgrass. Not only does this superfood contain a complete spectrum of essential food and vegetable nutrients, but it is also condensed, so you don’t have to drink a lot to obtain the benefits. I drink one two-ounce shot of wheatgrass juice per week. You can usually purchase this at your local health food or juice store. (Tampa friends: I get mine at the Village Health Market on MacDill and Xtreme Juice on Dale Mabry.) Wheatgrass is inexpensive and shouldn’t cost more than $4 for two ounces. I usually drink a shot of wheatgrass the day before I have somewhere to be where I want my skin to look awesome.

          Drink Mint Infused Water. Hormones are one of the main causes of female adult acne. Aside from its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, mint is a natural hormone balancer. One of the most effective acne treatments I have found is to drink mint-infused water daily. Like, every single day. (Hint: drinking mint-infused water is substantially more effective than drinking mint flavored tea and it won’t stain your teeth.) It’s easy. Buy a fruit infuser (I use this inexpensive one from Amazon), then fill the infuser portion with fresh mint leaves that you can purchase in the produce department of your local grocery store and add water. It took me two weeks for the effects to show up, but was worth it.

          What do I use on my skin? Two products. That’s it.

          First, I use this cleansing balm from Beautycounter, which hydrates while it cleanses, removing make-up and impurities, but never stripping the skin of its moisture. 100% of the women who use this product showed a significant increase in skin hydration after only eight hours. Eight. Last, I use this soothing face oil which, unlike most synthetic oils on the shelves, is easily absorbed and serves as a moisturizer. Two drops at night before bed, every night. That’s it. All I use.

          (In the mornings, I also use this tinted moisturizer instead of foundations that contains SPF 20 for sun protection. I also use this exfoliator twice a week to take off all the dead skin.)

          I am a Beautycounter consultant and, if you purchase the products, would appreciate if you would use my name on your order- Jennifer Burby!

          There is no need to use so many freaking products! No need at all. 

          If you have questions, email me. I’m also happy to mail anyone a list of all the ingredients that you should never use on your skin, so if you’re interested, leave me your name and address in the comments.

          Cheers!

          How to have beautiful skin without spending a lot of money | The Champagne Supernova

            Mom Hacks: Receipt You Later


            Disclosure: I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy on the CVS Says Receipt You Later Campaign. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified by CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.

            It’s been nearly two weeks since I signed up for digital receipts over at CVS Pharmacy. Read about the experience here.

            Signing up took less than a minute. You just opt-in by signing up with the cashier when you’re making your purchase at the front of the store.

            Since then, I’ve received credit in ExtraBucks Rewards and emails advising me about sales and promotions for some of my favorite brands.

            Life is tough and is only getting busier. I recently traded in my full time lawyer job for a part time position at another firm that will allow me to have more time with my family. Time usually spent drafting motions and attending depositions will now be spent at dance class and gymnastics. I don’t have time to wait in line at a register for a receipt, which will end up at the bottom of my already-disorganized purse, and that I’ll have to search forever to locate if I need a refund or to make an exchange.

            No thanks.

            Digital receipts from CVS make shopping for busy parents so much more convenient.

            But that’s not all! Digital receipts also come with the following perks:

            Budgeting Made Simple: This seems impossible, especially in the aftermath of spending lots of dolla-dolla bills over the holidays and with the general expense that comes with having children. No more! With the help of the CVS Pharmacy app, you get personalized digital receipts with coupons sent right to your phone so you can easily manage and shop for your daily needs.

            Save Time, Money, and Stress: As a parent, this is entirely possible! Digital receipts can help expedite shopping when you’re on a time crunch without losing out on key savings with the convenient “send to card” savings feature found on old receipts and on the “deals” tab in the CVS Pharmacy app.

            Best Practices for Organizing Your Life. It can be difficult to manage a balanced lifestyle. With the help of digital receipts, all offers and personalized deals are sent right to your phone. Use the CVS Pharmacy app as a best practice to staying organized while shopping at your local CVS Pharmacy.

            Personalized Shopping. With a hectic lifestyle, sometimes its difficult to remember what is on your shopping list. Check out personalized offers on your digital receipts and know what you need to buy without even having to make a list!

            Other Benefits of Using the CVS Pharmacy App: Are you kids in daycare or school and you’re finding them more susceptible to “cooties” like pink eye, ear infections, and RSV? Never fear. This handy-dandy little app makes it easier than ever to manage your family’s prescriptions. By downloading the app, you can scan your medication or automatically refill your prescription, view and transfer prescriptions to a local CVS Pharmacy, set medication reminders, check for drug interactions, and even pick up prescriptions just by showing the app. Easy-peasy.

            So long, long receipts.

            Cheers! #ReceiptYouLater #CVS

              Lice Lice Baby: How to Get Rid of those Hellish Critters


              lice-lice-baby

              My name is Jennifer Burby.

              I got head lice at the age of 34.

              From my daughter. Who got it at school.

              I guess.

              Who really knows where or how she got it. She just did.

              I somehow dodged the head lice bullet during my own childhood.

              Both of my two daughters have been in daycare since they were a couple months old, which are breeding grounds for lice. We would routinely receive emails from their schools advising of lice outbreaks in the classrooms and instructing us to check our children’s hair. Same happened at their summer camps. Neither of my girls ever got it. They’re in the pool a lot, so I chalked it up to lice not liking chlorine.

              And I’ve gotta be honest here.

              Until I got it myself, despite rumors that lice preferred clean hair, I thought it was something reserved for country folk.

              Kissin’ cousins.

              People who resided in Appalachia and lived off corn dogs and Mountain Dew.

              I am now one of those people. Maybe it’s karma for being judgy.

              Let me backtrack.

              A couple weeks ago, my four-year-old daughter started complaining her scalp was itchy.

              Thinking it might be head lice, I did a quick examination and found nothing.

              I guess she has a dry scalp. I’ll have to get her some of that Neutrogena stuff for old people next time I’m at Walgreens.

              A week later, my mom, who lives out of town, came and spent the weekend at our house.

              And slept in bed with my daughter.

              Eat Clean $30.00 Off

              Next morning, my mom said my daughter kept waking throughout the night, complaining her head was itchy. And she was profusely scratching it.

              I did another, more thorough investigation, and found tons of tiny white specks resembling sesame seeds (only smaller) throughout her hair.

              Eggs (nits) in action. This isn't my daughter's hair. It's a photo I stole from the Internet for demonstrative purposes only.

              This isn’t my daughter’s hair. It’s a photo I stole from the Internet for demonstrative purposes only.

              Could it be? I thought. Can’t be.

              So I got on the computer and Asked Jeeves what head lice look like.

              The search results returned with eggs that looked exactly like the specks in my daughter’s hair.

              The search engine results also said you’d have to properly identify a live louse (apparently, this is singular of “lice” because I just had to look it up) to confirm the existence of head lice.

              I wasn’t messing around. This was balls to the walls.

              I went to the garage and retrieved my husband’s head lamp, which he uses for long runs in the morning when it’s still dark outside.

              head-lamp

              I would have put on a HAZMAT suit if I would have owned one.

              "There's lice in them there hills."

              “There’s lice in them there hills.”

              Marched back up into my daughter’s room with the lamp on my noggin and a flicker in my eye.

              Two minutes later, I spotted one. And then another.

              Another demonstrative stolen from the Internet.

              Another demonstrative stolen from the Internet.

              My ignorance expected lice to be large and conspicuous. Raisins with legs.

              Nope.

              They are tiny. Small as fleas. And a light brownish color that makes them hard to detect in dark blond hair.

              Seeing them made me feel homicidal. Like the moment when Tracy Flick discovers Paul Metzler is running against her for student council president in the movie Election.

              tracy_flick_election

              I sped to the nearest pharmacy and searched for the most potent product available. Yes, I am ordinarily hyper sensitive about what I put on my and my families’ bodies.

              Not this time.

              I wanted to poison the lice and make them die slow, miserable deaths. I wanted to make them pay for the torment they put my daughter through.

              (Insert sinister laughter here).

              I returned to the house armed with Rid, takeout dinner, and a bottle of wine.

              Git 'er done.

              Git ‘er done.

              Three glasses of wine and some elbow grease later, with the help of my mother, all the lice and eggs were gone from my daughter’s hair and she was on her way to dreamland.

              But then my own head started itching.

              Like, really itching.

              Was this my imagination?

              I started frantically looking through my own hair and saw a little devil staring back at me.

              The fear of God was in his or her eyes. It knew what was happening next.

              Then my husband mentioned his head was feeling itchy. But he was unfazed, as he and his younger brothers got lice “several times” in their youthful days of yore.

              (They grew up in rural Hillsborough County, so that was unsurprising to no one.)

              I got out the head lamp and examined his head.

              Yup. He had them too.

              So.

              While other married couples were savoring fine wines and filet mignons on their Saturday night, my husband and I were on the couch in front of the tube, watching reruns of Dateline and picking nits out of each others’ hair like a couple of primates.

              getting_rid_of_head_lice

              So glamorous.

              Then, I had an epiphany. Two weeks before, I attended the out-of-town wedding of a longtime college friend. My girlfriends (all of whom have kids) and I spent the hours leading to the wedding getting all dolled up together in the hotel room. This also involved sharing each others’ hair brushes and accessories.

              So I had to send a text warning them they could have head lice and prayed they didn’t have it and give it to their families.

              Here’s the other problem. Not being very attentive to detail, I didn’t know I had to put the lice shampoo all over my entire hair and scalp. I thought I only had to put it on my scalp and not on the rest of my hair. So that’s what I did. And they returned several days later.

              I’m sitting at work and my head is itching like crazy. So I’m going crazy. Trying to prepare for a trial but all I can think about is how my head feels like it’s on fire.

              I sincerely believe that infesting someone with a pile of head lice would be worse than water boarding.

              We did everything to get rid of the lice.

              Even hired a professional lice-killing lady to come to our house, douse our heads in olive oil, and remove the lice and eggs. Five hours, six hundred dollars, and one wasted Sunday later, they were finally gone.

              Once and for all.

              Except my head remained subconsciously itchy and I kept buying products to kill any that remained alive. My favorite, hands down, was this stuff right here. They sell shampoo and conditioner, the shipping was quick, it smelled nice, and I had Farrah Fawcett hair after using it. And I’m not being paid one red cent to endorse this product. I genuinely loved it.

              Here’s the problem with head lice that most people who haven’t had it don’t realize. They reproduce quickly. Just because you wash your hair and kill all the live lice, you still have to contend with their eggs. They all have to be removed from your head. If you leave one behind, that egg will hatch, grow into an adult, and lay more eggs a couple days later. So you really have to stay on top of finding the eggs and destroying them. You also have to wash your sheets and towels, vacuum the house, boil your hair brushes in hot water, and isolate any dolls or stuffed animals that could contain eggs.

              It’s tedious.

              But perhaps it’s a parenting rite of passage.

              A badge of honor.

              I survived head lice, so I can now get through anything.

              Finish an Iron Man. Climb Mt. Everest. Swim with sharks.

              I also want to eliminate the shame associated with getting head lice, which most people deny exists, but really it does.

              Whatever. Life lice happens.

              Trying to protect my daughter, I told her she had the case of the “itchies.” I didn’t want her to tell her little friends she had lice in her hair and risk her becoming a pariah. Know what she did? Marched into the school the next day and proudly told her teachers she had bugs in her hair, and that I gave her a “spa night” to get them out.

              Oh, to be as carefree as a child.

              Cheers!

              Disclaimer: parents of students in my daughter’s pre-K class: Yes, she was the first reported case of head lice. And I’m sorry. I hope she didn’t give it to any of your children. She was not the second reported case of lice. Don’t know who that was and can’t claim it. But the mama of that child is free to give me a call and we can swap war stories over tears and libations. The identity of your child will remain privileged and confidential. 

                My Mustache: Why I Switched to Safer Products


                beautycounter_changes

                It all started out with a mustache.

                A melasma mustache.

                It was the fall of 2013 and I noticed a dark patch of skin in that area between my nose and upper lip. Freaked out and hoping it was merely my imagination, I ran into my co-worker’s office and asked her if she noticed it, too.

                She did.

                “Maybe you’re just forgetting to put sunscreen in that area when you apply it every morning?”

                That’s it! That’s definitely it!

                That wasn’t it.

                Turns out I had melasma, a chronic skin disorder that results in symmetrical, brownish facial pigmentation. It typically occurs due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and sun exposure, and women are more likely to develop it than men. It’s been nicknamed the “pregnancy mask.”

                What did I do? I hopped on the internet, did some Googling, and quickly learned that a popular chemical called hydroquinone is effective for getting rid of those pesky brown patches because it inhibits the production of melanin. In short, this is a topical bleach that fades the dark spot over time after many uses.

                Perfect!

                The chemical is easy to purchase and can be found in a host of bleaching products available anywhere from high-end brands sold at dermatologist’s office (like Obagi), and over the counter at your local pharmacy and grocery store.

                I slathered the bleach all over my mustache. For weeks. Months. Didn’t matter that it smelled bad and made my eyes burn because I was going to get rid of it once and for all, dangit!

                The mustache still isn’t gone. If you look really hard, it’s still there.

                When it wasn’t working, I started researching the chemical and was stupefied and horrified at what I found.

                Hydroquinone is directly linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation.

                Wait, what?

                It’s sold here in the United States. It’s sold everywhere. So it has to be safe. 

                Wrong. So, so wrong.

                Most of the cosmetics on our shelves aren’t regulated. Congress hasn’t passed a major federal law regulating the safety of personal care products since 1938. There are 1,300 products on our shelves that have been totally banned in Europe. Banned. 

                Since 1938, more than 80,000 new ingredients have been introduced to our personal care products, including soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, perfumes, lotions, skincare, and sunscreens.

                More alarming, the Food and Drug Administration allows companies that use chemicals that are known to be extremely harmful, such as formaldehyde, phthalates, and lead, in the products we put into our bodies and our kids’ bodies every single day.

                Bottom line. Companies are allowed to use toxins that are known to cause cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone disruptors, without getting into trouble.

                It’s all about the Benjamins.

                Marketing has become a joke. For instance, companies can advertise their products are “natural” but it’s a gimmick. Read the ingredient labels and research the chemicals.

                They ain’t natural.

                In the United States, one person under the age of 40 is diagnosed with cancer every eight minutes. One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. Two decades ago, one in twenty women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, one in seven women will develop breast cancer. More shocking? 90% of these women have no pre-existing genetic link to the disease.

                One in three children are born with severe allergies, autism, ADHD or asthma.

                Think about it.

                How many young people do you know who are in their thirties, were otherwise healthy, and have been diagnosed with cancer? How many young people do you know who have struggled with infertility? How many kids do you know with peanut allergies or are somewhere on the autism spectrum?

                I know tons of each of these types of people and it’s alarming.

                Bells and whistles are going off.

                Something’s gotta give.

                Most of you are annoyed reading this. You’re rolling your eyes. Another blogger using scare tactics about something. Microwaves. Cell phone radiation. Antiperspirants. Alcohol. Talcum powder. Asbestos in old buildings that you can’t avoid because you work there.

                I might as well never leave my house.

                I get it. I do.

                Look, I’m no hippie. I’ve tossed down a margarita or ten at the pool and have been known to indulge in fries and burgers from McDonalds.

                But at least I know alcohol and McDonalds are bad.

                And when I do it, I know better, but I do it anyway.

                When I’m using products, I want to know what’s in them, and then know about the risks I’m taking before I choose whether to make them.

                When I was having lunch with a good friend a while back, she introduced me to Beautycounter. The company sells an array of gorgeous, safer skin care products and she loaned me a “pouch” that included the skincare regimen to use for a couple days, commitment free.

                I loved it.

                I threw away my Neutrogena face wash and never looked back.

                Shampoos. Lotions. Makeup. Sunscreen. Kids’ products. Anti-aging and regular skincare regimes.

                I love it all and use it guilt-free.

                Here are some of my favorite products:

                Beautycounter_Regime

                This is the Face Collection that includes cleanser, exfoliator, day and night cream, eye cream, and rose spray.

                Beautycounter_Rosewater_Mist

                I spray this Rosewater Mist on my face throughout the day for a quick pick-me-up instead of drinking coffee.

                beauty counter cleanser, exfoliator, eye cream

                The cleanser, exfoliator, and eye cream from the basic collection.

                Beautycounter Lustro OilMy favorite of all the Beautycounter products, Face Oil. I was nervous about putting something called “oil” on my face, but it’s comprised of calendula oil and serves as a moisturizer. My skin has seen a huge difference.

                Other Beautycounter products that I’m obsessed with and use daily are the shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, purifying charcoal mask, sunscreen, and kids products.

                They also have an entire anti-aging line, the Countertime Collection, with non-toxic active ingredients.

                In May, I decided to become a Beautycounter consultant. Not because having a full-time career as an attorney, raising a family, and managing my blog aren’t enough to throw me into a tailspin, but because I wanted to get the word out about the crap on the shelves and how there are much better alternatives.

                I wanted to help educate people.

                I wanted to be part of something important. This little grassroots movement.

                If you want to learn more about the products or making extra money becoming a consultant (psss… you get 25% off the products), send me a message and check out my Beautycounter website here.

                I didn’t want another friend like me, ignorantly slathering bleach all over her mustache.


                Epic Classical Academy

                Another thing: I don’t want you to just take my word for anything I’m saying in this post.

                Do your own research.

                The innate nature of being an attorney makes me skeptical. I didn’t believe my friend when she was telling me about this company, the mission, and the risks associated with the long term use of products on our shelves.

                I did my own research.

                Please do the same.

                In the wise words of Biggie, “if you don’t know, now ya know!”

                Learn more about the impact the environment is having on your health.

                Beautycounter created a “Never List” containing ingredients you should never use on your skin, as well as the reasons why you shouldn’t use them. Check it out here.

                South Tampa friends: if you’re interested in trying the products, I’ll personally deliver a pouch to your doorstep so you can try the skincare regimen for yourselves. Shoot me an email at Jennifer at The Champagne Supernova dot com.

                Cheers!

                 

                 

                 

                  Getting Older: Nine Best Things


                  Getting older is the bomb- 9 reasons | The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2016/01/getting-older-best/

                  I turned 34 this week.

                  It’s seemingly a baby for those in their forties and fifties. Considering celebrating my thirtieth birthday seems like yesterday, I wonder where the time went.

                  I remember turning 18 like it was yesterday. One of my girlfriends came to my house in the middle of the night, decorated my car with silly string, toilet paper, and fun birthday-themed “flair.”

                  18 was a milestone because it meant I no longer needed a fake ID to go to shady local clubs and dance the night away to TLC, 98 Degrees, and Ginuwine.

                  Turning 21 also seemed pretty recent. My college friends and I went to dinner at a super fancy and exclusive restaurant, Chili’s, before hitting the town and celebrating at various Gainesville landmarks.

                  I get it.

                  Not everyone wants to get older. We have to pay taxes, shop around for deals on health insurance, and stock up on creams and serums to keep us looking young forever.

                  It can really stink. In fact, I wrote a post about it here.

                  That said, there are some luxuries of getting older that I didn’t have in my youth.

                  Here are 9 of them.

                   

                  Major Life Decisions: The Pressure is Off. Decide what do I want to be when I grow up. Check.

                  Finish school. Check.

                  Pass the bar exam. Check.

                  Get married. Check.

                  Pop out a couple kids. Check.

                  The older you get, the less important life decisions there are to make, because you’ve already checked a lot off your list. Now you can move onto unimportant decisions that don’t require as much brain power.

                  Like where you are going to hide the chocolate candy in the kitchen so your spouse won’t find it.

                  Fierce Friendships. When you’re young, unemployed, single, and childless (hello: college days!), it’s easy to have a million friends because having a million friends is convenient.

                  You have tons of friends in the dorms because you live in the dorms and see those people ten times a day.

                  It’s convenient.

                  You have friends in class who you study with three times a week.

                  It’s convenient.

                  Sorority sisters who you routinely see while dining at the house and at fraternity grab-a-dates.

                  It’s convenient.

                  However, when you’re older, your friendships strengthen because you only have a weelittlebit of time to devote to certain number of people because you’re also juggling your family and cultivating your personal passions. You maintain friends that are deeply valuable because you don’t have time for the crappers. You are dang picky about how you spend your precious time.

                  And, in turn, those are some of the deepest lifelong friendships you’ll ever know.

                  You Own the 9:00 p.m. Bedtime. When I was younger, New Year’s Eve was planned a month in advance. The event had to contain three things: friends, champagne, and a sequined getup.

                  Now, I want to spend New Years’ Eve on the couch, in my pajamas, and I’m the fuddy-duddy who gets miffed when the neighbors set off fireworks, because they spook my dog,  Goshdarnit.

                  I don’t care about Times Square, watching a glittery ball drop, or having a perfect kiss at midnight.

                  On an average evening when I was young, I was still blowdrying my hair, applying makeup, or “pre-gaming” at 9:00 p.m. Now, I am washing my face, brushing my teeth, popping in my retainer, and getting ready to hit the sack.

                  It’s glorious.

                  Comfort over Fashion. Getting older’s given me a reason to cash in my stilettos for flats.

                  Who am I kidding? I never wore stilettos.

                  But if I did…

                  Yeah, looking nice is nice. But I’m not going to get dolled up just to go to the grocery store when I only need to pick up one item.

                  Staying seated at Sporting Events and Concerts. And honoring my obnoxiousness when I ask the person in front of me to sit down because (s)he is blocking my view.

                  Having Your Own Money. There’s something incredibly freeing about buying something with your own money that you earned through your own education and your own hard work.

                  There’s also something incredibly freeing about wisely choosing not to buy something you would otherwise like to have, but you know it’s a stupid way to spend your own money that you earned through your own education and your own hard work.

                  A wise woman once said: “The shoes on my feet, I’ve bought it, The clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it, The rock I’m rocking’, ‘Cause I depend on me…”

                  Word.

                  Getting Taken More Seriously. For the most part.

                  Procreating. While parenting has its challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

                  Having your kids tell you they love you beats the cashier at the DMV handing over the plastic driver’s license to your 16 year-old self.

                  Watching your kids love and protect each other beats playing flip cup at football tailgate parties of your youth.

                  Watching your kids do the right thing in a difficult situation beats college spring break in the Bahamas with twenty of your close friends.

                  Kids beat everything.

                  Getting older is the bomb- 9 reasons | The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2016/01/getting-older-best/

                  9 Best Things About Getting Older | The Champagne Supernova

                  Putting Life Lessons into Action. It took me nearly thirty years to learn to keep my (big) mouth closed in certain situations, but at least I learned it.

                  It took me longer than thirty years to not let fear of other people’s (meaningless) opinions prevent me from putting myself “out there” and do what I truly want to do, but at least I learned it.

                  It took me nearly thirty years to make a concerted effort to focus on the big picture instead of the minutiae, but at least I learned it and have a chance to work on it.

                  Being young, immature, and inexperienced gives people a license to goof up and make mistakes. Being an adult provides the opportunity to recognize the mistakes and hopefully grow from them.

                  Here’s to turning 34. Here’s to major life decisions, fierce friendships, choosing comfort over fashion, staying seated at events, having your own money, getting taken more seriously, procreating, putting life decisions into action, and the marvelous 9 p.m. bedtime.

                  Cheers!

                   

                    The Baby Blues: How to Overcome Motherhood’s Scarlet Letter


                    The Baby Blues and How to Deal with Them | The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/03/baby-blues-postpartum-depression-overcome/

                    This picture of my oldest daughter was taken minutes after she was born and perfectly sums up the way I felt after both of my pregnancies. You see, for the majority of my life, I imagined that giving birth to my children would be like the opening scene of The Lion King where Rafiki the monkey triumphantly holds up baby Simba and presents him to the Pride Lands while “The Circle of Life” blares in the background.

                    It was nothing like that for me. My first daughter, Arden, was a week late and, after 36 hours of labor (that included me showing up for work that day not knowing I was in active labor but wondering why my lower back was killing me) and a night of zero sleep, by the time she came, I was mentally and physically exhausted, incapable of experiencing any emotion other than than shock. “And now I’m supposed to breast feed?” My second daughter, Elle, was also a week late, and in the true spirit of an impatient diva who needed to plan everything, I insisted on an induction. Be careful what you wish for. Because my epidural could not keep up with the Pitocin, I felt every last bit of childbirth. I screamed and begged for more drugs, and two more epidurals later, nothing dulled the pain. Before I knew it, I was 10 centimeters dilated and needed to start pushing.

                    Oh you can feel that? Too bad. You have to PUSH.

                    I’m pretty sure everyone who was working on the delivery floor at the hospital that day is treating for some time of PTSD for the out-of-body-lunatic experience that they witnessed. I’m sorry. Really sorry. When Elle arrived only a few hours after I was admitted, I was mentally and physically in shock, just like I felt after my first pregnancy.

                    While both of my pregnancies were completely different, something remained constant: one week after delivery, The Gremlins arrived. The Gremlins are my name for the surge of hormones that came after childbirth when my body was trying to get back to its pre-pregnancy self. As I’m already an emotional person without being pregnant, The Gremlins made my life a nightmare for a couple weeks after delivery. They kept me awake at night. They caused hot flashes resulting in a drenched bed. I could have literally wrung my clothing. They caused my hair to fall out. They made me hate my husband. They caused me to resent my then two-year old. Worst of all? The Gremlins caused me to feel like a terrible mom and person.

                    What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I have the Lion King moment? Why is changing a diaper in the middle of the night (while I’m not sleeping anyway) a chore instead of a privilege? Why am I not singing ‘Kumbaya My Lord’ while shedding tears of joy at the thought of the life that I created? 

                    These feelings can be crippling, but are common. Studies from Mental Health America show that up to 80% of new mothers experience the baby blues, with 10% to 20% of them rising to the level of postpartum depression.

                    I think The Gremlins are magnified by all the “mom shaming” that goes on these days. If women feel ashamed that they aren’t breastfeeding, putting their kids in cloth diapers, and giving them organic foods that are grown in a backyard garden, then they surely aren’t going to admit when they aren’t feeling good about their kids or about themselves. The Gremlins have become the proverbial Scarlet Letter that nobody wants to talk about.

                    It is critical that we not be ashamed to talk about The Gremlins and to reach out to experts and our inner circles for the resources on how to overcome them.

                    The Baby Blues and How to Deal with Them | The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/03/baby-blues-postpartum-depression-overcome

                    Me and Arden days after her birth in 2012.

                    Therapist, Ann Witt, has experience providing services to women who are coping with The Gremlins, both before and after delivery. She has developed a C.A.L.M. approach to helping women to defeat The Gremlins:

                    C= Cultivate Collaborative Caregiving

                    Open up 30% to 40% more time in your schedule by creatively working within your budget and timeline to identify people who can help, both before and after the pregnancy. What commitments can you delegate or eliminate as you re-prioritize? What can you simplify in preparation for the 24/7 demands that will soon become a reality? The goal is to slowly create a greater sense of balance by doing less with more; more nurturing support, more guidance, and more mentoring!

                    Knowing that my stress triggers would become stronger when I returned to work after having Elle, I hired a Mother’s Helper to assist with household chores. The impact has been tremendous, and it’s worth the extra expense. Read about her here.

                    A= Achieve Accelerated Awareness

                    Sometimes we don’t really know what we need in order to feel content. Awareness is the key to identifying your needs and wants, to include how much sleep you need, what triggers your stress, and how you can best manage it. Remember, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Knowing when your shoulds are terrorizing you is critical. For instance, are you comparing yourself to a friend whose pregnancy seems much easier than yours, or who seems to cope much better than you? Do you feel like you won’t be perceived as a Superior Mommy-to-Be unless you do this or that?

                    This is where self-awareness and compassionate self-observance is critical to growing and developing along with your baby, in a way that invites peace into your life. Research shows that people who practice mindful awareness and stillness throughout their pregnancy are able to better manage stress, fluctuating moods, and the pain and discomfort of childbirth. To help with self-awareness, find a coach who can introduce holistic ways to practice it.

                    L= Leverage Lessons Learned

                    It’s critical to apply best practices and benefit from others’ lessons learned. There are a million different websites and available resources, but which ones provide information you can actually trust and put to good use? Below are some sites that offer tons of mindful birthing resources:

                    Mindful Birthing

                    Gina Hassan, Ph.D.

                    Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

                    BayCare Obstetrics

                    Ann has graciously volunteered to donate a copy of Nancy Bardacke’s book, Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond to three randomly-chosen individuals who comment on this blog post by April 30, 2015.

                    M: Mindfully Manage Motherhood

                    Aside from the fact that you will nurture and grow a beautiful person inside of you for months and then withstand hours of labor and delivery, the expectation is that you can and will seamlessly transition into your 24/7 role as a new mother! How have you conditioned yourself to go the distance now and after the pregnancy? Making healthy, mindfulness-based practices a priority in your life will serve you well when you have to rely on your “reserves” to get through the intensity of the first days and weeks of motherhood. Building a strong internal guiding system will help you navigate motherhood with grace, resilience, and a sense that “knowing” that you already have the answers. Cheers to you, your new baby, and the magical celebration of life. And if you’re like me and the initial step into motherhood wasn’t exactly “magical,” then know that you’re not alone.

                    Ann Witt, MS, LMHC, is the founder of PieWise Living in Tampa, Florida. Her coaching and counseling is premised on the knowledge that within each client lies the solution to his or her concern. Her role as a collaborative coach and therapist is to help clients identify their strengths, build strong coping and resiliency skills, and advocate for themselves in ways that help them feel empowered and fearless when addressing life’s milestones and challenges. Ann is a bilingual licensed mental health counselor, life coach, and peak performance consultant with over 30 years of experience. She integrates decades of knowledge in mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques with eclectic, evidence-based, theoretical orientations to customize solution-focused client interventions. Ann is certified in qigong, food healing, and aromatherapy, offering clients holistic alternatives. She is a published author, international keynote speaker, and expert on PTSD, anxiety disorders, and leadership peak performance. Ann is married, a mother of twins, and passionate about helping others.

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