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Monday, December 31, 2012


I thought working out was supposed to help with depression, outlook, overall mood but that doesn't feel like the case for me.  I'm around 7 weeks into working out (the most workout I've ever done in my life) and I feel kind of miserable.  I do it almost every day now and feel pretty lousy when I miss a day.  My body itself is starting to feel good; my leg and butt muscles are in a constant state of burn, sort of like you feel after you've been working out for about 5 minutes.  It's actually a good feeling!  I'm not always as tired as I used to be.  I'm losing an inch here, gaining half an inch weight loss but that stuff isn't really getting me down too much. 
But I never want to leave the house anymore.  I was happy to get out for Christmas, but otherwise I don't want to go anywhere or do anything.  It's all I can do to get a shower by 3pm every day.  When asked what I wanted to do for New Year's Eve I mumbled, "I don't know".  I like celebrating and getting out of the house!  So what's wrong with me? 
Lately I've been thinking about the fact that I'm almost 31 and I've never been further south than Florida, further north than New York, Further west than Illinois.  I want to go somewhere spectacular.  But I can hardly leave my house, so I don't know how that would work.  I'd probably talk myself out of it anyway.  I think about how I never got to finish college.  Not that I even know what I want to be when I grow up.  But that clock that stopped and told me to enjoy 30 (I was seriously super excited to turn 30) seems to be tick, tick, ticking away, faster than ever.  Not that I'm dreading 31, I guess I'm just more aware of aging?  I don't feel old, so that's not what's dragging me down. 

I just don't want to feel like this anymore.  Needed to vent.  Haven't talked about this to anyone so I had to get it out somewhere.  This seems as good a place as any. 
What do you do when you feel like crap and the things that should help aren't? 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review of the Oral-B Professional Precision 5000 Toothbrush #OralBSponsored

I am approximately 3 weeks into trying the Oral-B® Professional™ Precision 5000.  Prior to that my brushing regime was pretty basic but never something I looked forward to.  I was using a regular manual toothbrush.  In the past I had also used the cheapest battery-powered toothbrushes.  I was always hesitant to spend the money on those though, because most died before I should have gotten rid of them, and there was little to no improvement over a manual brush.  I brush 2-3 times per day, floss when I remember to buy it, I prefer Colgate Total gel toothpaste to any other, I sometimes rise with perxoide and every so often I brush with baking soda.  But with my terribly crooked teeth (I'm talking cover-my-mouth-when-I-smile crooked) it was a pain, figuratively and literally to mess with my mouth for those 3-5 minutes morning, noon and night.  I was very excited to try this Oral-B electric toothbrush but had mixed feeling about having to think about my teeth every time I brushed.  Maybe I'm dramatic. 

My old toothbrush never cleaned my teeth really well.  My crooked teeth caused a lot of issues, like not being able to get to certain areas as well as others.  My teeth would be smooth for the most part, but there were spots that I would have to go back over, making my teeth bleed from the force and awkward maneuvering.  Those same spots would feel dirty frequently throughout the day, driving me insane!  My biggest hope for the Oral-B electric toothbrush is these issues no longer persisting.  Short of getting braces (which will probably never happen until money begins growing on trees) this is my next best option.
When the Oral-B Professional Precision 5000 package arrived I sorted through everything, figuring out what things were and reading the booklet that came with the toothbrush and accessories.  I won't lie and say everything was simple to set up.  Most of it was, but I had a heck of a time figuring out how to open the back of the wireless Smart Guide so I could put the batteries in it.  I was so sure I would break it.  Once I figured that out, everything else was smooth sailing. 
Fancy traveling case, holder for brush heads, charger, Smart Guide and more.
 Let's begin with the Smart Guide.  The Smart Guide is your wireless helper when using your new toothbrush and comes with two rechargeable batteries.  You could use regular AA batteries too.  There is a 2 minute timer that begins the moment you push the power button on your toothbrush.  You are supposed to brush each quadrant of your mouth for 30 seconds and the Smart Guide will pause and beep when you've finished each section.  There is also a visual guide to show which section you've completed.  You don't have to follow it to a T; it will just remind you how much time you have.  The smiley face will be complete when you are done.  I tend to go beyond the 2 minute timer (the brush turns off when you hit the power button again, not after 2 minutes) because I like to brush my tongue and the roof of my mouth without taking up my tooth time. 

The obvious: It has a carrying case, the brush case holds up to 4 brushes, the dock plugs into a wall outlet, the toothbrush is rechargeable and charges when you place it on the dock.  Everyone in your family can use the same toothbrush and you can just buy each person a different head.   

Other facts: A red light blinks if you are brushing too hard- you are supposed to let the oscillating, rotating and pulsating do its work.  There are 5 settings: daily clean, deep clean, sensitive, whitening and massage. 

Some facts and opinions from me: At first I hardly noticed a difference in the feeling of my teeth after I brushed with the Oral-B Professional Precision 5000.  But after 2 or 3 days my teeth started feeling noticeably cleaner (a smoothness I can feel with my tongue) even in the hard-to-reach spots that always caused me trouble with my manual toothbrushes.  It lasts longer too.  I still wake up with brushing the first thing on my to-do list but during the day my teeth feel cleaner longer.  My teeth almost never bleed anymore.  They were bleeding sometimes when I used my manual, and frequently when I flossed.  That seems like a big deal.  I still haven't gotten to the point where I can use all of the 5 settings- there are 2 that I don't even bother trying yet.  Maybe someday soon I'll be able to tolerate them but right now those two settings kind of hurt and feel the way I think a drill would feel on your teeth.  I like that you don't have to do funky maneuvers to reach the back of your mouth.  The brush does it all for you.  Is it worth more than $150 more than a manual toothbrush?  I'm not so certain...that is a LOT of money.  But this kind of electric toothbrush is definitely worth an investment over a manual or cheap, battery-operated toothbrush. 
Other Pros: 
-It's rechargeable and the charge lasts a long time.  In 3 weeks I've only recharged it twice.  I'm the only one in my house using the tooth brush so if more of us were then the charge would obviously be more frequent. 
-It will be easy to swap tooth brushes if more family members decide they want to share with me.  And it came with colored bands that you can use to identify which toothbrush belongs to which family member. 
-The cord to the charger base is a decent length.  I honestly don't know how long it is.  But we have two outlets in our bathroom and only one is reasonable to use and sometimes things don't reach from that outlet to our bathroom counter and it's really frustrating.  This doesn't even come close to being too short. 
-One brush and the purchase of extra heads can accomodate a whole family. 

-A little pricey at a suggested retail price of $159.99
-My inability to use all 5 settings.  But I think it's just my sensitive teeth and that it's only a matter or time before I can try them again. 

And now I have some great news!  Until December 31, 2012 you can receive a $20 mail-in-rebate when you buy this and other select toothbrushes from  Visit the website for details. 
After you're done browsing their selection of fabulous brushes join the conversation on Facebook at or on Twitter at and use the hashtag #PowerUp

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Modern Mom on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Torani Syrups Review: A Sponsored Post for SheSpeaks & Torani

I was recently sent two 750ml bottles of Torani syrups, a recipe booklet to suggest ways to enjoy the syrups and coupons for $1 off Torani syrups to share, from Torani and SheSpeaks.  This is a sponsored post but all of the opinions are my own. 

I love coffee but I'm not a coffee connoisseur; my 2 coffee drinks per morning need to be sweet, light and creamy and only have a hint of coffee flavor with a nice kick of caffeine to get me through the day.  I usually achieve this by brewing the coffee then dumping a bunch of creamer into my cup.  But I'm not into weird ingredients (seriously...look at the list on some flavored creamers) and I knew that was exactly what I was getting myself into with most flavored creamers.  The natural versions made me happy for a while but there was just something off about the taste.  I sometimes just go with regular cream and sugar but then I crave the flavors I love so much and my local grocery store doesn't carry the cream I use so I often end up with regular creamers anyway.  I knew there had to be something better out there, but where the heck was it?  I don't buy Starbucks anymore because I can't stomach their prices but I love the way their coffee drinks taste.  So sweet, but with no funky aftertaste.  So...wonderful. 

Then I get this opportunity to try Torani and I'm like, "There's something else- something I can buy in stores- to maybe make my coffee taste like the heaven I've been searching for every morning?  I'm SO in!"  I waited patiently for my Torani to arrive and when it did I had already had my two cups for the day.  So I did what any sane person who shouldn't have more caffeine would do and I started making another cup.  And I found it!  I found the coffee I've been searching for.  In MY house.  Awesome!

So, I received the Torani regular Peppermint and regular Salted Caramel syrups.  My heart kind of sank when I saw the Salted Caramel and lifted a little when I saw the Peppermint.  One of my favorite coffee drinks involves peppermint and mocha.  About a month ago I tried a salted caramel creamer and it was one of the most disgusting things I ever drank.  And I was so sure I'd love it because I love caramel, but it was reason enough for me to be afraid of this bottle. 
I decided to suck it up and try the salted caramel in case I really hated it so that I could maybe trick some people into coming over to drink the rest of it so I wouldn't have to throw it away.  That is how damaged I was by the last time I tried that flavor.  I read the directions: 1oz (2 Tbsp) to a cup of coffee.  Going for some equally simple I added a shot of milk, took a deep breath and drank.  And it was really, really good!  You can imagine how shocked I was to like this...a lot, after hating the other version so much. 
In the following days I alternated between the Salted Caramel and the Peppermint for my 2 cups.  While I do love peppermint flavor I prefer it to include chocolate, so most days I added half the recommended syrup with a shot of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup to my coffee and I've been oh-so happy making my coffee every morning since.  I didn't try any other recipes; I was enjoying my delicious coffee too much to "waste" it on anything else!  I would be curious to see what these would taste like in other foods and drinks.  It seems like you could add these to anything sweet.  Maybe I'll add a little to some vanilla ice cream or cake mix.  I've seen some good ideas in the recipe book they provided and from other bloggers that have tried Torani syrups.  I can't wait to try more flavors!

My Peppermint Mocha daily indulgence.
What I like best is the lack of freaky ingredients:  Pure cane sugar, water, natural flavors, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness), citric acid [and] caramel color in the Salted Caramel syrup.  It may not be perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better than what you might see if you look at what's readily available in the grocery store. 
Another plus: Made in the US.  That's tough to find! 
There are more than 60 regular flavors and more than 30 sugar-free (Splenda) flavors of syrup.  Some look fabulous and some look a little strange (chicken and waffles...what?).  But it's just amazing the selection they have, and amazing that I never knew about these before. 

What I don't like:
I seem to have some trouble locating these in the grocery store. 
The price seems scary at first.  About $8 for a 750ml bottle.  That's about the size of one of the bigger bottles of creamer, so when I thought about that I was a little bothered.  But after almost finishing two bottles I know now- there is no comparison between the two products.  For one: I use significantly less of the Torani than I do the creamer because a little goes a long way, and I can use less milk or cream because of the saturated flavors in the syrup.  It's worth it. 

Rather than dreading making a cup of coffee everyday (yes, I needed it but I dreaded it) I woke up excited every morning.

What's your favorite way to drink coffee?  Do you have a favorite creamer or syrup?  Which flavor of Torani syrup would you most like to try? 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Fun: A Trip to Lake Tobias in Halifax, PA

We tried to stay busy this summer (sometimes a success) and in August we made a trip with my daughter's girl scout troop to Lake Tobias in Halifax, PA.  Lake Tobias is a family-owned large wildlife park in central Pennsylvania.  They offer safari tours, reptile shows, petting zoo, a gift shop and more.  Some really great features of Lake Tobias are their practically free-range animals, unbanded gators and their prices.  It really upsets me to see large animals in tiny cages, treated poorly and neglected.  I am so happy and comfortable spending my money at this park. 
It's really exciting to see familiar animals like lions, bears (the lions and bears are quite lazy at Lake Tobias and probably the least entertaining of all the animals) and zebras (you can feed these guys!).  There are some very unfamiliar creatures as well, like the capybara, which looks like large otters and the watusi that look like cows with massive, heavy horns.  There are many different species of monkeys, birds and more that kids and adults will love to watch. 

This guy appeared to be copying the visitors.  There's seating behind him and he was trying to sit just like they were.  The visitors had the decency to use the restrooms to relieve themselves though!

A Capybara.  Very big.  There was a warning to NOT feed them.  They are bitey.

Also bitey, but no warnings against feeding them.  There were warnings not to put your head or hands too close though, because they are known to stick their heads out and take a taste. Their bite is more like a goose bite (that's really all I have to compare it with).  It hurts less than a child with sharp teeth.

Friendly zebras were also jumpy.  They ran away a lot but always returned for the crackers.

Friendly piggies.

Zach, daddy and Henry watching some animals.

On the safari tour you can feed the mammals (most of them look like different types of deer and cattle...although by writing that I'm probably making dozens of biologists rip out their hair in frustration!) and flightless birds.  The guide will share lots of interesting information about habitats and behaviors of these animals.  I get the most excited seeing the elk because they are just so massive.  My kids were probably most enamoured with the baby mammals and their favorites were any animals that came to eat from their hands.  A tip: late afternoon trips during the hot months seem to be a little less entertaining because the animals are too hot and tired to be hanging out in the sun.  Also, during mating season we were told that sometimes the male elk may charge the buses, feeling that they are a threat to their females.  How neat (or scary), depending on how you feel about large, angry animals! 

I think these were the Watusi. 

Full and lazy meant no visiting with us.

Almost close enough to touch but they were hot and tired.

Not an elk, but at least these guys were still hungry and gentle.

Buffalo?  He wasn't getting away without a pet from Amara.

In the petting zoo area you can find camels, llamas, goats, guinea pigs and other cool animals.  Not all of the animals are available for petting but the ones that are are very friendly.  Be careful though, because some like to eat clothing and hair! 

Friendly animals in the petting zoo.

Feisty camels weren't interested in us, only each other.

Jonas loved the petting zoo the most.

Henry wasn't sure what to think!

Jo probably hit up every single pettable animal there.

The reptile and exotic animal room is full of snakes, lizards, tortoises, alligators, sloths and more.  My kids were able to touch a snake and a gator!  Some of these animals were rescued from neglected homes.  They have shows at intervals during park hours where educators will teach about certain animals.  We learned about the alligators (I hope I really mean gators and not crocs!) and sloths during the show we attended. 

The tortoises are old and friendly.

This gator bit someone earlier but as long as you keep your hands away from his face you'll be fine!

The reptile show.

BIG snake!
 They also have a small playground and picnic tables for lunch and resting so day trips are made easy.  You can pack lunch or purchase from the concession stand.

Well worth the day trip! 

$6 for ages 3 and up.
$5 for the safari tour for ages 3 and up.
Group rates are available. 

Lake Tobias is located at:
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park • 760 Tobias Road, Halifax Pa 17032

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Weaver's go Gutzy with a Gutzy Gear Party

I was given the opportunity to review Guzty Gear products by MomSelect.  They provided me with enough product and activity sheets to host a super fun party. 
Gutzy Gear is a way for your to affordably and easily express your creativity, with their strap covers and huge assortment of patches that are attached with velcro for simple removal and trading opportunities.  The strap covers can be used on backpacks, seat belts, instruments, bicycles and scooters and on so much more.  There are dozens of patch styles for boys and girls, and you can use one or a dozen and change them whenever the urge strikes.  Their website, is loaded with fun activities for kids of all ages, like creating your own Gutzy, sending Gutzy e-cards and virtual Gutzies. 

I invited all of our friends over for games, snacks and Gutzy Gear fun right after the first day of school.  They all arrived wearing their backpacks and as you can see, they are quite under-decorated and blah. 
Look at those sad, sad faces, all because they have terribly boring backpacks.

Let's take two; not all of those faces look sad enough.
Now if only I had Photoshop...

Our party-goers ranged in age from a 4 year old preschooler to a 12 year old 7th grader.  Not everyone arrived to the party sure that they wanted to participate, but everyone was curious to see what it was all about. 
We started off the party with Gutzy Bingo.  Some of the kids used Lego pieces for markers...we had to get creative!  Everyone had a lot of fun with Bingo but our time was short so we only played one round. 
Playing GUTZY (BINGO) and snacking.
Why yes, I do take a lot of pictures :)

Lego markers for BINGO!

Why have one winner when you can have 10?  We kept playing until we had enough!

We had a few late arrivals and  no surprise...they were sad with the state of their backpacks too. 
They're miserable, I tell ya!

 Next we had an awesome contest: the kids created their own Gutzy designs.  Even a parent participated and created a personalized Gutzy!  Get ready for get to see ALL of the entries (except for one because all he drew was a circle then left to play video games so I eliminated him.  Love you, Jo Jo!). 
I think this is some cartoon character.  This was one of our top 3 entries, by 7 year old Amara

A top 3 entry by 7 year old Makaley.  Hearts galore!

Butterflies and tie-dye hearts are definitely a MUST!

Gutzy flower patch.

I have no idea what this is.  A cute bat, maybe?  Do it, Gutzy! 

We have a few entries here: a sun/moon, row of hearts and a baseball.  I hope all of these will be made!  With a little more color ;)

A personalized Gutzy.  This would be awesome!

I think it's a baseball and bat.  And a circle.


Geometric Gutzy "logo" patch.

Not sure how the little hearts will fit but tiny heart patches would be really neat.

This was another top 3 entry by 9 year old Brayden.  A really great jet!  I bet these would be popular.

Silly face- love it!

 Okay, which one would you have voted for?

After everyone was done and the winners were announced we moved on to the main event: Gutzy Gear backpack-decorating time!
I was too excited to take "before" pictures of the products, so you'll just have to trust that the boxes and packages are easy to open (none of that crazy packaging that makes you wonder if a bomb won't get your toys out of the box).  Each Gutzy Gear strap pack of 2 comes with 1 Gutzy Gear face patch already attached to help you get started.  The kids dove into the project of arranging their Gutzy patches on their straps.  A few kids needed help getting the straps wrapped around their backpack straps but otherwise it was noise and fun and simple.
It's MINE!

Helping out friends and trying to trade.

Love the paw print patch!

Deciding where to put a patch.

Someone is VERY happy with her results!! 

He decided to put all of his on one side.

More assembling.  I warned you about the pictures, right?

My opinion: I really like these!  I was so sure that the straps would look silly on most of the backpacks, particularly the ones that weren't black but they all looked great.  I think there should be more strap cover colors (and I'm not a huge fan of the yellow liner on the strap covers).  The style options are huge and fabulous but I'd love to see sparkly and shiny for girls.  The best feature of this product is that you don't have to do ANYTHING to your backpacks.  It's completely risk-free!  If your child decides she doesn't like the flower or he doesn't want fries this week they can change it (or trade it) in a snap.  The velcro is also very strong.  There is no chance that these will fall off, but they are still easy to change.  Trading already happened at the party but the kids are very excited to get into it more.  All of the kids were very excited to start the Gutzy Gear trend. 
Another mom's opinion: the straps should balance out and come with 2 patches.
The kids' opinions: They were so very excited to wear them to school.  One was relieved that it was way more fun than she expected.  The older girls thought that maybe the patches would be a little too child-like but they were pleased with the selection.  One was adamant that he not get more than the face on his straps.  He is 4 and that's how I'll explain his refusal. 

After we were done our party all of the kids got together to let us know how happy they were with their backpacks after the Gutzy Gear took over.

These are some seriously happy children!

P.S. Grapevine rumors are that Toys R Us has them on sale, at least locally. 

And now...who wants to WIN!
Where Do You Go Gutzy?  Get creative and show the world how you go Gutzy.  By participating you have the chance to win more than 100 gift cards from Toys R Us, worth a total of more than $500!!  To enter just go to and tell/show them how you Go Gutzy by Sept. 7, 2012.