Shopping: Top Ten Ways to Hide Your Loot from Your Husbands


The only reason I maintain gainful employment is so I have an alternate place to ship boxes of stuff I buy shopping online so my husband won’t find out.

Okay. And because I have law school loans and a mortgage.

But still.

My primary vice is Amazon, especially because I have Prime membership. I subconsciously feel like I’m getting a “good deal” because the shipping is free, even though I actually spend more money than I would under normal circumstances. And the product arrives two days from the date of purchase, so I don’t have to impatiently sit around and wait for whatever useless tchotchke to show up the way I do with the regular 5-7 day ‘biz the other retailers offer.

Because I “need” things like one hundred children’s hair bows (I’m a mom of girls), a tape measure, a “Haunted Battlefields of the Civil War” book, non-toxic nail polish, a Ronald Reagan face mask, windshield wipers, and a Patrick Dempsey pillowcase.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter that I work and bring home the bacon. When multiple boxes arrive at my door step on the same day, my husband usually ends up questioning me about them.

What’s in those boxes?

Your mom.


After seven years of marriage and thirty-four years of sneakiness, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten places to hide your shopping loot so it will be out of sight from your husbands.

You’re welcome.

1. The Cleaning Supply Cabinet. The good Lord knows your husbands have never looked there and probably aren’t aware this is even a “thing” in your home.

2. The Gym. It’s the year of the Dadbod.

3. Bring them Home Already Wrapped. And say they’re gifts for someone else.

4. Replace the “Real Bags” with Bags from Kids’ Clothing Stores. Most dudes are uninterested in the contents of packages from Janie and Jack, Gymboree and, worst of all, The Disney Store.

5. The Crack Between the Front Seat and the Center Console. This obviously only works for smaller items, but your husbands will never stick their fingers down there for fear of getting them stained with half-melted M&Ms or by touching a dirty, misplaced sock.

6. Empty Shoe Boxes. Keep them in your closet for storing goods.

7. Claim You’ve Owned it Forever. This is one of my personal favorites. I bust out with a new ensemble (after the tags are off) and my husband asks when I got it. I look at him and incredulously roll my eyes and declare “In college! Seriously?! I’ve worn this a million times!” He gets so confused.

8. Tell Him You’re Holding the Loot for Your Friend. Who is hiding it from her husband.

9. Tell Him the Package is a Present for HIM. By the time the holidays roll around, he won’t even remember. Or if he does, just say you changed your mind and returned it. BOOM.

10. At Your Boyfriend’s House. I dunno guys, Diff’rent Strokes for Diff’rent Folks. (Kidding!)


Confession. One of my favorite yearly shopping events is the Junior League of Tampa’s Holiday Gift Market.

The Holiday Gift Market is the Junior League of Tampa’s largest annual fundraising event. Think of it as a flea market with stuff you actually want.  It will feature 150 merchants, with 20 that are completely new to the event. Some of my favorites among this year’s merchants and participants are Sunshine State Goods, The Blue Hen, Coton Colors, hazel + dot, and Toffee to Go. Best of all, the Junior League of Tampa commits 100% of the proceeds to fund its mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

Holiday Gift Market 2015: Me and some of the ladies at the beginning of the night.

Holiday Gift Market Kickoff Party 2015: Me and some of the ladies at the beginning of the night.

Come on out to the Florida State Fairgrounds for the kickoff party on Thursday, November 10 between 7 PM and 10 PM, and stay for the shopping from Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13.

Where: Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, 4800 U.S. Highway 301 N., Tampa, FL 33610
Hours: Thursday, November 10- 7 PM – 10 PM
Friday, November 11- 9 AM to 6 PM
Saturday, November 12- 9 AM to 6 PM
Sunday, November 13- 9 AM to 5 PM
Cost: $8 at the door and $5 in advance if purchased from Junior League members.  Don’t know any? No sweat. You can also purchase them online through Eventbrite:
Parking fee: $6 cash (who carries cash anymore?) paid directly to the Florida State Fairgrounds

Preview Party: The Preview Party is a Junior League tradition, which includes a sneak peak at this year’s best new gift ideas, live entertainment, food samplings from local restaurants, raffle, cash bar, and more. This event is open to the public, and tickets are $35. VIP tickets are available for $65 and include a VIP reception at the market beginning at 6:30 PM, a VIP gift, three drink tickets, and complimentary VIP parking. Oh, and did I mention it will feature some of my favorite sweets from The Silly Monkey Cookie Company? The preview party is Thursday, November 10 between 7 PM and 10 PM.

Me and some of the crew at the end of the night. Not pictured: red wine stains on my white romper. Pictured: the $10 flip flops purchased from the college mascot vendor. (My dogs were barking. But it was fun and worth it.)

Me and some of the crew at the end of the night. Not pictured: red wine stains on my white romper. Pictured: the $10 flip flops purchased from the college mascot vendor. (My dogs were barking. But it was fun and worth it.)

This year’s Holiday Gift Market will also offer the following concierge services:
Gift Wrap: For the first time evah, the Junior League will offer gift wrap for a nominal fee. See number 3 above.
Bag Check: Don’t worry, these ladies will free up your hands so you can shop more. Warning: you might need a bigger car.
Man Cave: In case you want your husband to come and know how much money you’ve spent, they can tag along and relax on oversized sofas and lounge chairs with giant flat screens and sports. Oh, and beer.
Mother’s Nook. (Read: a breastfeeding, diaper-changing mama’s mecca).

The market will also feature a series of special events.

Candle Pouring Social: Saturday, November 12 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM and 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM.  For $35 per ticket, enjoy a candle pouring social with the Tipsy Candle Company.  Participants will pour two candles with signature scents for the holiday season. Be inspired to “Give a Candle and Keep a Candle” during this event with music, snacks, and refreshments.

Princess Meet and Greet: Sunday, November 13. Enjoy an encounter with four princesses courtesy of Parties with Character. Each child will feel like royalty as they meet the Princesses who will encourage them to reach for their dreams. The cost is $15 per child, and each child needs a ticket for admission. Visit this link to purchase tickets and see which 15-minute time slots are available: Adults are able to enter this special event with the purchase of one general admission ticket to the Holiday Gift Market.

Military Shopping Hour: On Friday, November 11 from 2 PM to 3 PM, the Junior League will provide a special salute to the men and women who courageously dedicate their lives to serving our country.


For more details, connect with Junior League’s Holiday Gift Market on social media or, if you have questions, via email at

Twitter: @jlthgm
Instagram: @holidaygiftmarket

What are your sneakiest ways to hide shopping loot from your husbands?

Cheers to shopping and the ladies of the Junior League of Tampa!

    Life: The Five Screw-Ups that Made a Huge Difference


    Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

    Who here is tired of seeing ole Ralph’s quotes? Half the time I wonder if he really said some of these things, or if someone just writes something uplifting and then slaps his name on it. (No, I don’t want to research it unless it has a billable code.)

    But someone has a point here.

    I’ve screwed up a couple times in my life.

    Ok, a good number of times.

    But the best times I’ve learned were through my own screw-ups or by witnessing someone else go down in a Blaze of Glory.

    Practice makes perfect?!

    I’ve never learned anything by adhering to adults’ warnings during my youth.

    And certainly, not from my parents who, in my mind, were merely trying to keep me from having a good time.

    I don’t have any degrees or licenses in psychology or sociology or anything like that.

    I’m not a mental health counselor. But a bit mental.

    Just a gal with a couple of decades of mistakes under her belt with time to ponder what worked and what didn’t.

    Here’s my list of the five most valuable lessons. Things I’ve started doing or stopped doing that have made a huge difference.

    1. Contact your parents every day. When you’re in your teens and early twenties, the prospect of your parents dying, if you’re lucky to have both still alive, seems so far away. You imagine they’ll pass peacefully in their sleep in their nineties like Noah and Allie did in The Notebook. 

    Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who have lost one or both of their parents. Some during childhood, some following long battles with terminal illnesses and, for others, unexpectedly and without warning.

    I made a vow that I wouldn’t take another day with both of my parents for granted because I know there’s no guarantee and I’ve witnessed the painful heartache of seeing someone lose someone they loved. My parents are two of the most important people in my life. Accordingly, I make a point to have some type of contact with them every single day, whether it’s a phone call, email, or text message. I don’t want to have regrets.

    There will come a time when I wish I could contact them, but I can’t.

    2. Stop Caring What Other People Think. This one can be tricky. If you didn’t care what other people think, you’d be a sociopath with no friends.  You have to care, to a degree. Just an eensy weensy teeny tiny one.

    Not caring about what other people think requires a balancing being kind and courteous to others while being your true self. It also requires you to decide whose opinions you’ll actually take into consideration when making choices. For me, this number is small and is limited to my immediate family, my husband, a few close friends whose friendships have spanned multiple decades, and my boss (dang, that pesky mortgage!)

    I used to be a slave to other people’s opinions. I used to cringe at the idea of not making someone happy or the prospect that someone could be upset with me. It was exhausting and a waste of time.

    I’ve learned you can try and try and try and try, but there are times someone will never like you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Absent extreme circumstances, most of the time, their reasons for not liking you are meritless. You have a similar voice as their second-grade teacher, who once slapped them on the knuckles with a ruler. You asked their ex-boyfriend to the Sadie Hawkins dance your sophomore year of high school. You once picked them last during a game of dodgeball. You play your music too loud in your car. You’re a dentist and they once had a bad experience getting a tooth pulled. Twenty years ago. By someone else.  Your breath smells like celery, and they’re allergic. You have a great body with tons of friends and the face of an angel, while they are feeling down-and-out about themselves (e.g., the way I feel about Margot Robbie.)

    See how dumb?

    I’ve wasted so much time worrying about the opinions of people who don’t matter. I can never get that time back. And when I decided it was time to stop worrying, the quality of my life (and friendships that really mattered) grew exponentially.

    3. Have a To-Do List. In the past when I felt really overwhelmed, instead of being able to tackle projects, I felt mentally and emotionally paralyzed. I didn’t know where to start.

    Now, I create a “to-do” list of things that I need to accomplish throughout the day. The list isn’t made in order of importance; just whatever needs to be done. I usually keep the list in my purse or in my planner, and add to it throughout the day.

    When performing tasks, I start with the easiest items on the list. The ones that require the least amount of brainpower and stress.

    Paying the electric bill. Emailing someone a confirmation about something. Responding to a text message.

    Then, by the time I attempt the “hard” stuff, I feel like I’ve already accomplished a lot.

    Psychologically, having a list is so important to the Type A crazy person in me. It’s like the adult-version of a baby blanket and, for me, is critical to staying sane and on task.

    Sun Basket

    4. Water Your Own Garden. It’s easy to look across the proverbial fence to see what other people have and feel like your own garden isn’t good enough.

    But it is.

    It’s simple to think someone else has a happier marriage and more well-behaved children and tons of money with plenty of time for champagne wishes and caviar dreams.  Well, they don’t. We all have our struggles and our weaknesses.

    Sure, I’d love to live in a bigger house with a more spacious kitchen and larger backyard in a “better” neighborhood (Tampa peeps: South of Gandy in the heezy), but I also know that would mean a larger mortgage, less money for “family” stuff, and more overall headache.

    It’s normal, albeit unhealthy, to look at what other people have and compare it to what you have and then feel like you’re not good enough. Been there, done that. It’s no fun. But I promise, your real friends don’t care about the size of your house, what kind of car you drive, the brand of clothes you wear, or whether you rub elbows with people who are deemed socially important. Your real friends like you for you.

    So go ahead and rent the matchbox apartment, drive the boxy Scion (y’all know what I’m talking about), and rock the Xhilaration leggings with reckless abandon. The people who matter won’t notice and won’t care.

    5. Know When to Be Quiet. This has been one of my biggest struggles. The biggest. In my younger days, I would say whatever came to my mind, no matter the topic, and if someone got their feelings hurt or it got me into trouble, I would justify myself (and dismiss their feelings) as “just speakin’ my mind.”

    I’ve learned in some situations, it’s better to shut the heck up. Everyone knows what those situations are. And if you want to go ahead and speak your mind, be prepared for potential consequences of hurt relationships. Is it worth it? Nope.

    I guess in life, experience is the best (and sometimes only) way to grow.

    These include screwing up.

    I needed the screw-ups. They were actually gifts.


    (By the way, what lessons and screw-ups would you put on your own list?)

      Travel: Five Best Places to Vacation with Kids

      The best places to go on vacation with kids | The Champagne SupernovaAs fall is in full swing and people are starting to think about where to spend next summer’s vacations, I wanted to create a post dedicated to family-friendly travel. Not the expert, I enlisted the help of my longtime law school friend and fellow blogger, Anastasia, for tips and pointers. I hope you enjoy her perspective, and scoot on over to her blog for travel tips on a budget.

      Family vacations: where to go, is there anything there to entertain the kids, how much will this cost? I am assuming this is what goes through every parent’s mind when it comes time to plan the family vacation. I bet it feels more like a chore than an adventure, so I am guessing that most people just go back to what they know: Disney.

      Chad and I don’t have kids yet, but I bet a lot of readers of this blog do, and, since the purpose of this blog is to inspire you to incorporate travel into your life, regardless of what stage in life you are in, I put together a list of the 5 best U.S. cities for family travel. Think of this as an alternative to Disney, because, let’s be honest, how many times can you really visit the mouse’s house without wondering if you (or your wallet!) can take it.

      In compiling this list, I tried to choose places that were (relatively) budget friendly, that covered the span of the U.S., that had something that appealed to the whole family, regardless of age, and that offered a different experience according to your preference (city vs. beach vs. active/outdoors). Also, I enlisted the help of a friend, former law school classmate, blogger extraordinaire, and super mom, Jennifer from The Champagne Supernova Blog. She actually has kids – two of them! So without further adieu, allow us to save you from yet another Disney trip.

      Number 1: Washington, D.C.


      Ah, our nation’s capitol! Do you know why this takes the number one spot? Because, once you get there (and getting there is not too expensive on JetBlue), almost all of your activities are free!! That’s right, free! Our nation’s monuments? Free! Museums? Free! In fact, there are over 200 museums in D.C. and almost all of them are free! So, whether your children like art, science, animals, or history, there is a museum that suits their (and your) interests.

      Another great thing about D.C. is that most of the sites are within walking distance of each other, making it an easy city within which to ambulate. Otherwise, the hop on hop off tours are a great value (also, check Groupon, as they are usually running a special on these tours), allowing you to tour the entire city and Arlington National Cemetery for one or two days while learning about the places you are visiting en-route. This also gives you the flexibility to ride around and see a lot without necessarily having to get off at every stop, and it’s fun to sit on top of the open air bus! Uber is another great option for getting around town.

      Eat Clean $30.00 Off

      The only thing that will require advance planning on your part is a tour inside the White House, and all the information you need to plan such a tour can be found here. Advance planning is also needed to tour the U.S. Capitol building, and all the information needed for that can be found here. Finally, you can turn your trip to D.C. into a fun learning experience for your children without them even knowing it! Just take a look at your child’s syllabus for their history or social studies class (or ask their teachers what they are/going to be learning about), and tailor your trip to something they are learning about in school. All these reasons make D.C. a great and affordable choice for families with children of all ages. Beat that, Mr. Mouse!

      Here is my suggested itinerary for a perfect three-day weekend: Plan to fly/drive in on Thursday late afternoon or evening. After checking into your hotel and grabbing a bite to eat, take a night tour of the monuments to see them lit up or enjoy a free music concert at the Kennedy Center!




      Day 1 (Friday): Wake up early and get a good breakfast in you; you’re going to need it! Hopefully, you got tickets to tour the White House, so do that first. If not, you should still swing by and get a gander at it from the outside. After the White House, walk over to the National Mall (see photo above), which has all the major memorials. Start at the Washington Monument (you can pre-buy tickets to go up!). A short distance away is the World War II Memorial. From there, walk through the promenade (bonus if you are there during cherry blossom season) beside the reflecting pool until you reach the Lincoln Memorial. After the Lincoln Memorial, head over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Once you are done here, rent a paddle boat and get a view of the Jefferson Memorial and the Martin Luther King Memorial from either side of the tidal basin. Stop for lunch. After lunch, hit the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress.



      Days 2 and 3 (Saturday and Sunday): Make your last 2 days museum days. You can visit dinosaurs and mammals at the National Museum of History, airplanes at the National Air and Space Museum, the U.S.’s only Leonardo Da Vinci painting at the National Gallery of Art, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, or all the cute animals at the National Zoo. If you are looking to take a short half day-trip from the city, consider visiting Arlington National Cemetery where you can see the Kennedy Memorials, Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and Arlington House. You may also consider taking a day trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
      Number 2: Atlanta, Georgia


      You may be wondering why Atlanta is on the list (and at the number 2 spot). Well, first, it’s pretty cheap to get to (Delta has a lot of reasonably priced flights), and there are actually a lot of family-friendly things to do here. Both the children and the adults can enjoy a fun-filled long weekend in this city. Here is my suggested itinerary for a perfect three-day weekend: Plan to fly/drive in on Thursday late afternoon or evening, and check into your hotel. Depending on when you get in (and their event calendar), you may want to pre-plan to attend a show at Atlanta’s Fox Theater or head to Stone Mountain to catch the fireworks and laser show.


      Day 1 (Friday): Wake up early and get a good breakfast in you, because you are headed to Georgia Aquarium! This place is amazing. It has huge floor to ceiling aquariums full of color and life and plenty of immerse experiences to choose from. For example, you can take the Behind the Seas Tour for $15 and get a closer view of the aquarium’s most popular exhibits. You can also choose from different animal encounters, including a dolphin encounter, Beluga Whale encounter, penguin encounter, sea otter encounter, and even swimming with whales, sharks, and manta rays. The aquarium also has a tactile exhibit where you can reach in and touch sea urchin and other sea critters. And, if you want to be a Super-Parent, you can arrange a sleepover at the aquarium! That’s right, a sleepover. Does the Mouse let you sleep at his house? I don’t think so! (Okay, this is technically not true. You can be randomly selected to win a sleepover inside Cinderella’s castle. You probably have about an equal chance of getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery, so there’s that).

      After the aquarium, take a walk over to the World of Coca-Cola. Here, you can learn about the history of the Coca-Cola, visit the vault where the secret formula for Coke is stored, meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, and, best of all, visit the tasting room and taste as many of the 100+ Coke beverages made and sold around the world. Don’t forget to pick up your free bottle of coke on your way out!




      Other family-friendly attractions that add a little history and education include the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Martin Luther King National Historic Site, Underground Atlanta, High Museum of Art, Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, and Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.



      Number 3: New York, New York


      Everyone loves the Big Apple, and you and your family cannot run out of things to do here! Both JetBlue and Delta offer reasonable flights into New York (you can also combine a visit to D.C. with a visit to N.Y., and take the train). In my opinion, the best time to visit New York is during the holidays when the city is all dressed up! Here is my suggested itinerary for a perfect three-day weekend: Plan to fly/drive in on Thursday late afternoon or evening, and check into your hotel; then, head straight to Times Square.  It is cheesy and touristy, but it is iconic, and your kids have not lived a full life without at least experiencing it once.

      Day 1 (Friday):  Wake up early because today you pre-arranged to visit the Statue of Liberty and perhaps even to climb to the crown.  Note, this particular activity will take some advanced planning on your part (especially if you want to go up to the crown), so book tickets early!


      When you are done here, head to the 9/11 Memorial, the Empire State Building, and/or Top of the Rock.



      Day 2 (Saturday): Visit Central Park, have lunch, and go ice-skating! Afterward, head to one of the city’s many museums like The Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum of American Art, or the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). Here is a list of museums that cater just to children’s interests. You can find free museums or information on special free hours at other museums or museums that have suggested contributions here.


      Day 3 (Sunday): Save your Sunday for a Broadway matinee.  Your New York trip is a great way to introduce your children to art, including performance art.  There are several Broadway shows that are suitable for children, like Lion King, Aladdin, and Matilda. A list of kid-friendly shows can be found here. Make sure to pre-book your tickets as the shows sell out fast. If you want to chance it, you have a couple of options short of buying tickets on a third-party site.  The first is to rush to the theater as soon as it opens on the day of the performance and wait in line to buy same-day rush tickets which can sometimes sell for as little as $25.  Some shows sell standing room tickets, which means you will stand to watch the show.  Others, like the Lion King, distribute day-of-show tickets through a lottery.  The other option is to wait in line on the day of the show at the TKTS Booth, which is located under the red steps in Duffy Square (47th Street and Broadway). Almost all of the Broadway hits are on sale there, mostly at 50 percent off. There are also some online options, like the TodayTix app or  Get your discount codes at BroadwayBoxBroadway Insider, and Entertainment-Link.


      Before you leave, make it a priority to stop at the Levain Bakery and wait in line for the cookies. They are soooo worth it!


      Number 4: Salt Lake City, Utah


      The U.S. National Park Service is celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year. If your family is active and looking for a great (outdoor) adventure, then why not visit Utah’s National Parks? Did you know i) that there 5 national parks in Utah (from east to west: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion), ii) that all the national parks are a stone’s throw away from each other, and iii) that they are located just a few hours outside of Salt Lake City? All the info you need to plan an epic national park journey can be found here. This is actually on our bucket list, as a result, all Utah photos used are borrowed from the internet.


      Number 5: Hawaii


      Okay, so Hawaii isn’t a city; it’s a state, and you may be surprised to see Hawaii on my list, but here it is! Hawaii has gotten cheaper to get to, although it is still an expensive place to visit.  But, if your family craves some amazing beach time coupled with a little history and nature, then this is the place to go. I think that a week here is enough time to visit Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.


      Start on Oahu because most flights come into Oahu anyway.  I think 2 to 3 days in Oahu is plenty.  That will give you enough time to visit Pearl Harbor and the battleships on one day, and hit the beach and perhaps hike diamond head on the others.


      The flights between the islands are pretty cheap, so hop a flight to Maui, where you will spend the rest of your time.  Aside from beautiful beaches and great snorkeling, in Maui, you can attend a luau, take a drive through the scenic Hana Highway (but, trust me, do this on a tour and not on your own), get a sunrise experience at Haleakala, and take a day trip to the Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park!



      I hope this post has inspired you to break out of your family vacation rut, and seek out a new adventure that the whole family can enjoy.  Let us know what you think of our suggestions, sample itineraries, and tips and whether you would be interested in a similar post featuring international vacations.

      Until then, cheers to making memories that’ll last a lifetime!

      About Anastasia: Anastasia is a full-time civil defense litigator with a passion for wanderlusting. She spends her precious free time deciding where to go next, researching the entire trip from flights, to hotels, to tours/activities, and, of course, restaurants. She drags her husband all over the world and then blogs about it on her blog, Where to Next Travel Blog.  Her goal is to encourage you to travel more now because you can, even if you have a full-time demanding job, a family, and a budget.


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


        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.


        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.


        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.


        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.


        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.


        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.


        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. 

          Gift Ideas: What Women Really Want

          Gift ideas for women reflecting what women ACTUALLY want | The Champagne Supernova

          My mother-in-law had a big birthday earlier this month, and I wanted to get her the perfect gift.

          I won’t tell her age.

          But it rhymes with nifty.

          (She’s my husband’s stepmom, so don’t bother doing the math. She didn’t have him when she was fourteen.)

          I struggled to determine what I could get for her that she would truly enjoy.

          She already has what she needs, and what she didn’t already have, she could go out and buy.


          I didn’t want to cop out and get her a gift card.

          I wanted to get her something that I, myself, would actually want as a gift. 

          Here, my friends, are some of the best gifts that women actually want.

          That they’re excited to get.

          And all of them can easily be purchased online (click, click, boom!) or at your local Target. (Or online at Target, where shipping on purchased over $25 is free.)

          The majority of products in the gift basket are from Beautycounter, where not only am I consultant, but I also legitimately use all of their products in my own daily routine. Read about why I switched to these safer products here, instead of the usual chemical cocktails from the days of yore.

          Beautycounter’s Ingredient Selection Process ensures safer and cleaner products that work beautifully (less is more!). This rigorous process handpicks the best ingredients, such as hydrating shea nut, derived from shea fruit.

          What’s not included?

          Approximately 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals on Beautycounter’s “Never List” that are never used to formulate the products.


          The whole shebang.


          Beautycounter citrus mimosa body bar.


          Beautycounter citrus mimosa hand cream.

          Bella tin candle in Amber & Vetiver scent.

          Beautycounter soothing face oil. (This stuff is the Grand Poobah mack daddy. Many of my clients have seen a difference in their skin in two days. Two. All you need is two drops on your fingers before bed. Bam!)


          Beautycounter Sugar Body Scrub in lemongrass.

          Beautycounter lip conditioner balm in calendula (also sold in peppermint!)

          birthday_presents_grown_women3Clean eating cookbook: Gwyneth Paltrow “It’s all Easy.”  I know ‘ole Gwen is a controversial figure, but my mother-in-law is a healthy, “green” eater, so throw me a bone.

          Hardbound journal.  I bought this in the store at Target but couldn’t find it online, but here is a similarly sweet one.

          Starbucks coffee.

          What would you add to a gift basket for a loved one?

          Some, but not all, of the links are affiliate links where I receive credit for the sale. My electric bill ain’t gonna pay for itself. 


          Epic Classical Academy

            Support Education: Box Tops


            This is a sponsored post (but I believe in the mission and participate in the program!)

            It began in California in 1996.

            General Mills wanted to create a program to help support education and benefit America’s schools- so, Box Tops for Education was born. Two years after it started, over 30,000 schools were clipping Box Tops and earning cash to buy the items they needed: playground equipment, books, computers, and more.

            Over the next four years, the Box Tops for Education program doubled to include popular brands like Pillsbury, Old El Paso, and Green Giant. By 2004, over 82,000 schools across the nation participated in Box Tops, earning more than $100 million toward education.

            TODAY, America’s schools have earned over $719 million, and you can find Box Tops on hundreds of products throughout the grocery store.

            Typically, each Box Top clip is worth 10 cents for your school. However, by purchasing three specially-marked General Mills Box Tops items at Sam’s Club, you can earn your school an additional 100 eBox Tops.

            How, you ask?


            Purchase three General Mills Box Top products and enter your receipt on to earn 100 eBoxTops.

            You can also purchase 6 General Mills Box Tops products and earn 200 eBoxTops, 9 products to earn 300 eBoxTops, and 12 products to earn 400 eBoxTops.

            What. A. Deal.

            Redeeming your box tops through Sam’s Club is super easy and you can do it here. You must purchase the products between 8/16/16 and 11/16/16. Email your receipt to Once validated, come back to to enter eBoxTops code and assign to your school.

            I’ve been a member of Sam’s Club for roughly a decade. The samples reeled me in, but the bargains kept me. I’m so glad I can get a good deal on items for my family while helping to give back to the community.

            Cheers to that!




            Look for box tops like THESE.


              Paybacks: It’s Not Worth It


              They say paybacks are hell. But who are they hell for?

              Last week I was in a car accident while I was driving with my 4-year-old daughter.

              Her school has chapel services that begin at 8:15. I don’t ordinarily get to take my daughter to school because of work commitments, and so being able to attend chapel with her is extra special.

              Many of the parents attend with their children, and I’m hypersensitive about being an “absentee mom” who is always at the office.

              I don’t want to fast-forward twenty years and hear my kids are sitting on a shrink’s couch humming Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle.”


              As I was at a stop light waiting to turn left once it changed from red to green, I felt another car slam into my bumper and heard a corresponding crash. I looked at my daughter, who was safely in her car seat, and made sure she was ok.

              I looked into the rearview mirror and saw a series of cars behind me, also waiting to turn left at the light. I assumed it was a multi-car collision, with the person in the very back at fault.

              Once the light changed, I stopped at the first available street and got out of the vehicle, preparing myself for the potential damage.

              The right part of my bumper was dragging on the ground.

              Great! One more car accident.

              I’m like a magnet for other people hitting me.

              And let’s be honest, I’ve had my share of mishaps as well.

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              This is why I drive an old Volvo SUV. Because I can’t have nice things.

              Oh, and because it’s paid off.

              Another driver pulled up behind me, a middle-aged white man in an Acura sedan. The front of his car didn’t have nearly the amount of damage as the rear of mine. I glanced in his car, and it appeared he was alone.

              He got out of his vehicle looking worried.

              The following exchange is crystal clear in my mind.

              What happened? I asked. Did you hit me, or did you get pushed into me by another driver?

              It’s all my fault, I wasn’t paying attention, didn’t stop on time, and just rolled into your vehicle. Nobody hit me. 


              I called 911, reported the accident, and asked for an officer to come to the scene and write a police report.

              As I checked on my daughter, who was still in the back seat, she became hysterical.

              Please don’t wait for the police man, we’ll be late for chapel (!!!)

              Her eyes were sad and desperate.

              She was right.

              It was 7:40 and if we waited for an officer to arrive, conduct an investigation, and prepare a report, we’d be late.

              She doesn’t do well when she’s late and out of her routine.

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              Please don’t wait for a police officer to arrive, he said.

              I’m a driver for UPS and if they find out about this, it will put my contract at risk because I’ll have an accident on my record. I’ve been insured with State Farm for 23 years and will pay for all your damage. It was my fault. Take a picture of my driver’s license and insurance card, and let’s exchange phone numbers in case we need it.

              Like my daughter, the man was desperate for me to not make a police report.

              He was just shy of begging.

              I looked at him and judged him.

              Seemed like a nice enough guy. Appeared “normal” (read: not a derelict or a drug addict).  Was being honest about his mistake and since nobody was hurt and the property damage was minimal, getting everything paid for shouldn’t be an issue.

              I gave him my number, he called me, and I saw his number appear on my phone’s caller ID. He took a picture of my driver’s license.

              I photographed his driver’s license and insurance card and was on my way.

              I called 911 and canceled my request for a police officer.

              We got to my daughter’s school in time for chapel.


              When I arrived at work, I called State Farm and reported the loss using the information contained on the man’s insurance card. The agent said someone would be in touch with me after they contacted their insured and verified he was at fault for the crash.

              No problem.

              Later that evening after we put the kids to sleep, I returned a call from State Farm.

              The insurance agent advised liability was being contested because the man who hit me was claiming the crash occurred because another vehicle struck him from behind and fled the scene.

              Well, that’s a complete lie, but what does this mean for me? I asked.

              We’re going to go to his house and check out his bumper. If there’s damage that jives with his story, then we’ll treat this as a hit-and-run and will not be paying for your property damage  or any injuries, if you have any.

              Vengeance and paybacks aren't worth the trouble | The Champagne Supernova

              My initial reaction to being told the guy who hit my car was blaming it on someone else and his insurance company may not pay for my damage.

              I couldn’t believe it.

              I did this guy a favor and he turned around and tried to screw me.

              And I didn’t throw out my “I’m a lawyer” card at the time of the crash (because I’m not a dweeb) but what an idiot!

              No good deed goes unpunished. 

              Of course, I advised the insurance adjuster that the guy was lying.

              If he was hit from behind, why didn’t he call 911? Why did he specifically deny getting hit from behind? What if he had pre-existing damage to his bumper that he’s trying to pin on our accident?

              The adjuster couldn’t have cared less. When liability is contested and there are no witnesses (except my four-year-old daughter), they have to side with their insured.

              Blah, blah, blah.

              They would investigate and get back with me in 2-3 days.

              I then realized I had this guy’s phone number from when he called me after the accident.

              So I called him.

              And, again, he was dumb enough to answer.

              Then my irrational alter-ego, “Jenny from the Block” took over, and he got an earful.

              Said if he continued these shenanigans, I would report him for fraud to the department of insurance. Make a complaint to the State Attorney’s Office. Call UPS, report the accident, and advise if they kept him on board as a driver, they’d face potential issues for negligent retention if he was involved in another accident. And worse, if State Farm didn’t pay for my damage because of his lies, he would be seeing me in small claims court.  I would blast my picture of his driver’s license and insurance card all over my the blogosphere.

              He. Didn’t. Know. Who. He. Was. Messing. With.


              I then called the police, called my own car insurance company, and lost sleep over it.

              Those are 12 hours I’ll never get back.

              Long story short, State Farm conducted an investigation and accepted liability for the crash. My car’s in the process of being fixed on their dime.

              I was subsequently on the phone with my mother venting about this hassle and how I couldn’t believe this guy was dirtbag enough to throw me under the bus after I did him a favor.

              Some nerve.

              Then, my mom said something wise, mature, and true.

              You could report him to his employer and do all these things to “get back and him,” but is it really worth all the trouble? He has all your contact information and knows where you live, what if he does something crazy? Sometimes, it’s just not worth it. 

              She’s right.

              (Yes, mom, I am publicly admitting you’re right. I need to write a blog post about all the things in my life my parents were right about that I didn’t believe at the time due to my lack of experience and maturity.)

              I’m still immature and part of me feels defeated for letting him off the hook so easily without any ramifications (that I’m aware of.)

              There’s a fine line between being a doormat and setting boundaries, and I felt (feel) like a wimp.

              But the reality is I’ll never see him again and his insurance company is paying for my damage, so going out of my way to make this dude’s life a nightmare will only waste my own time.

              Karma will catch up with him.

              There are times in life where seeking vengeance on someone is truly worth it. To me, this was not that time.

              And I hate that my mother was right. Just a little.

              Cheers to moving on.

                Miss Understood: How Assumptions can Ruin Relationships

                How making assumptions can ruin great relationships | The Champagne Supernova

                As an attorney, my career is devoted to collecting information, assessing the information, and reporting the information to my clients.

                I try to predict how a jury will react to the information and whether they will find a plaintiff, his or her medical providers, and witnesses to be credible. (After all, just because I perceive the “star witness” to be a lying schmuck doesn’t mean a jury will see him that way.)

                The devil’s in the details, and I try to turn over every rock so I don’t miss something important. The minutiae that accompany “lawyering” can be daunting, and I wrote an entire blog post about it here.

                You would think I’d adopt this “information collecting” to my personal life.





                I’ve done it all.

                Take my husband, for instance. Last week, I got mad at him because of something I assumed without first bothering to collect all the information.

                I came home from work on a Friday and was waiting for the babysitter to arrive so we could have a “date night” at an event that was on our calendar for months. Per our plan, which we specifically discussed, the sitter would arrive at 6, and we would be out the door by 7.

                When I got home at 5:30, my 4-year-old had her towel and bathing suit in hand, and was adamant that she wanted to meet her friend, Katie, at the local swimming pool.

                Do you mind if I take Arden to the pool to meet Katie?  My husband asked.

                I could feel my temperature begin to rise and my eyes were probably bloodshot.

                I was trying not to lose my cool in front of the kids. I was trying not to disappoint Arden, who clearly had her heart set on meeting Katie at the pool. I didn’t want to break it to her that she’d have to stay home with a babysitter instead.

                So now I was the “bad guy,” especially because my husband was seemingly asking for my permission, and I’d have to be the one to say no.

                After all, it would be impossible for him to drive her all the way to the pool and be home on time for us to get to the event by 7, as we planned.

                As we specifically discussed.

                More than once! 

                My mind was racing.

                Epic Classical Academy

                Why would he offer to take her to the pool when he knew we had to leave our house by 7?

                Why would he call Katie’s dad to make plans?

                This whole thing was his stupid idea. It definitely was! 

                Why, why, why?

                I was livid.

                When we were alone in the kitchen, I gave my husband an awful look.

                It was an accident, he explained. Katie’s dad called me when I was in the car with Arden. He didn’t know the speakerphone was on and invited us to meet them at the pool. Arden heard it and got excited and has been begging to go ever since. I haven’t been able to diffuse it.

                I wanted to crawl under the counter and hide.

                I felt bad.

                I got unnecessarily worked up because I created a story in my mind without having all the facts.

                I owed him an apology.

                Let me tell you. This anecdote was tame. I’ve made worse assumptions in other facets of my life.

                Then, I started thinking.

                How many good relationships have we ruined, or opportunities have we missed because we didn’t have all the information?

                How many times have we been annoyed with one of our friends or colleagues because we created a tale in our minds about something that never even happened, but convinced ourselves it was true?

                How many times have you confronted someone about something (or were passively displeased with them) because you didn’t have all the facts? Or you had some “facts,” but those facts were wrong and incomplete?

                How many times have we judged someone without knowing them, all because of something unsavory another person said that we assumed was true?

                How many times have we heard of friends or, worse, family members go years without speaking because of misunderstandings and false assumptions?

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                How many times have we gotten a “weird vibe” from someone and assumed they didn’t like us when, likely, they were just shy or introverted and it’s not personal?

                It’s so easy to think we know what’s happening inside someone else’s head.

                I’ve learned lot of headaches and relationships can be saved by collecting all the facts.

                In his popular book, The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz points out:

                “If others tell us something, we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something, we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something that we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”

                Ruiz goes onto state that of the four agreements, this one is the most life transforming.

                I can see that.

                I’ve painted pictures in my head because I didn’t want to ask questions and appear confrontational, and because I thought there was only one plausable explanation for why something happened, which only caused stress and hurt feelings.

                I’ve believed my own assumptions too dang many times.

                What a waste of energy.

                From this point forward, I’m going to adopt my work persona as being a “social sleuth” into my personal life. I’m not going to allow my incorrect perceptions to victimize me.

                Today is the last day.


                  On Your First Day of School

                  How to mentally prepare when your kids are starting school | The Champagne Supernova

                  My oldest daughter starts Pre-Kindergarten in a couple days.

                  She’ll be going to a different school than the daycare she’s attended the last few years.

                  Everything will be new.

                  She’s four.

                  She loves Peppa Pig, Anna and Elsa, wearing dresses, swimming, trying to do cartwheels, painting, reading books, eating watermelon, building sandcastles, saying memorable one-liners, and drinking Shirley Temples (with extra maraschino cherries, of course!) She hates having sunscreen applied, pinto beans, and having her tangly hair brushed.

                  Can’t say I blame her.

                  It’s hard to believe it’s time for her to start “real school.”

                  Just me and a million other parents across the country, commiserating about our kids growing up and crying into their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we’re up late at night preparing for the next morning.

                  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2015, about 55 million students attended elementary and secondary schools. Of that figure, 35.2 million were in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade.


                  That’s a whole lotta school buses, Crayolas, graph paper, and number 2 pencils.

                  A lotta life chapters opening and old ones closing.

                  I don’t like it.

                  Not one bit.

                  The idea of getting older is scary. I can’t accept being at a stage in my life where I see friends losing their own parents, there are wrinkles under my eyes, teenagers think I don’t understand them and call me “Mrs.” and that 1996 was twenty years ago.

                  I certainly can’t accept my children getting older.

                  While my oldest daughter is my “baby,” she’s developed into a miniature person who is smart and has feelings and opinions.

                  When and how did that happen?

                  $30 off Sun Basket

                  Seems like yesterday I was nine months pregnant and ironing the baby clothes I’d bring her home wearing from the hospital and now here I am, ironing her school uniform and getting ready to drop her off at a “big girl school.”

                  It sets me off on an emotional tailspin.

                  There’s so many things I want for her and hope for her and dream for her and pray for her.

                  And I feel conflicted between putting her out in the world to be her own person, letting her make mistakes, and learning valuable lessons and wanting to keep her inside our sheltered home forever and ever.


                  On her first day of school…

                  I’ll help her put on her outfit, socks, and shoes that we carefully laid out the night before.

                  I’ll make sure her backpack has everything it needs to get her through the first day: pencils, crayons, and colored markers. And I hope her heart will feel good when she reaches inside and finds a note from ‘ole Mom telling her that I love her and am proud of her.

                  I’ll make sure she has a hearty, healthy breakfast, but will probably give in when she asks for a glass of chocolate milk.

                  Just this once.

                  Epic Classical Academy

                  On her first day of school…

                  I’ll kiss her goodbye as I pull away from the drop-off circle, and I’ll be wearing my sunglasses with the dark lenses so she won’t notice me crying.

                  I’ll pull over alongside the road where she can’t see me, just so I can watch her grab her teacher’s hand and walk inside the building.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I hope she’ll keep her head up in class and use brave words if she’s feeling scared.

                  I hope she has someone to sit next to in the cafeteria at lunch and that the other kids are nice to her.

                  I hope she has so much fun making arts and crafts that she doesn’t worry if she gets paint on her school clothes.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I hope she gets sweaty and dirty at recess because that’s what kids are supposed to do.

                  I hope her teacher is patient if she’s having a hard time with the transition.

                  I hope she loves whatever books her teacher reads at circle time and can’t wait to get home and tell me all about it.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I hope she comforts a friend who is feeling sad and wants his or her own mom and dad.

                  I hope if she misses me, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she’ll see me waiting for her when it’s time to go home…

                  … and when she’s home, she tells me about all the new friends she’s made, things she learned, and how she can’t wait to go back tomorrow.

                  On her first day of school…

                  When I’m at work, I’ll close the door to my office so my colleagues don’t hear me sniffling.

                  I’ll drink ten cups of coffee so I can focus on the tasks at hand, when I’m really just thinking about her and wondering how her day is going.

                  I’ll remember to soak in the moment because while the first day of school might be hard to get through, June will be here before we know it, another summer will come and go, and it will be time to do it all over again.

                  Thinking about the moms and dads out there who are emotionally preparing for the first day of school in the coming days.


                    My Mustache: Why I Switched to Safer Products


                    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.


                    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:


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


                    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.





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