Guests and Ghosts

Guest bloggers ... ghostwriters ... It's like Forest's box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get!
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Dermaplaning at Viva Med Spa

Somehow I made it 40 years old and never heard of dermaplaning!?! Well thanks to my very knowledgeable esthetician Dina at Viva Med Spa, I got the run down on dermaplaning and why we need it. She told me that as we age (thank you hormones!) the peach fuzz on our face becomes thicker and more noticeable.

I personally never thought much about it but this summer my youngest asked me if I had a beard! I had a good tan so that blonde fuzz showed up more than usual but still....oh 40...come on! So, when Dina suggested dermaplaning for me, I jumped at the chance!

In a nut shell, dermaplaning is the removal of all that peach fuzz on our faces using a very small (and gentle!) surgical scalpel. Anything with the words "surgical scalpel" sounds a bit scary and crazy-especially when considering this is your FACE we are talking about, but it was anything but scary and crazy! The scalpel didn't hurt at all and it fact, it felt very relaxing! The end result was a VERY smooth face! I couldn't wait to go home and apply makeup on my brand new smooth face! The difference was amazing!

My appointment was in October and I wanted to wait a couple of months and see how it all grew back. I'm happy to report that the peach fuzz is only now starting to make a slow appearance back on my face. Another concern I had was the re-growth status. Dina assured me and she's been correct in my case, that the fuzz does NOT grow back even thicker. This is due to the way the scalpel removes the hair. It's not pulling from the root, just the surface.

In addition to dermaplaning, there are a host of wonderful treatments available at Viva Med Spa! Choose from a host of services to include exfoliation, peels, laser treatments, body contouring and yes even good old reliable facials! In fact, with Christmas right around the corner, a gift card would be a great idea!

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Dermaplaning, let's discuss.

When Cosmetic Center by VIVA contacted Fred Parent to do a series of reviews, we all jumped at the chance to write one. Who wouldn’t want to be pampered? What I was expecting was a basic, relaxing facial. What I got was anything but basic. There was a surgical blade, guys. It was awesome...but I’m jumping ahead.


“We have you signed up for a dermaplaning. It’s one of of best sellers! You will love the results!” Is what I was told over the phone by a cheerful lady from ViIVA. I had no idea what dermaplaning was. “Dermaplaning an easy, effective procedure involving the use of a surgical blade. During this painless treatment, dead skin is removed from the epidermis, as well as vellus hair (peach fuzz).”


I’m not going to lie, that freaked me out. However, I am always down for trying new things, especially if they scare me a little bit.


Let me be the first to tell you, it was a fantastic experience and I’ve been encouraging all my friends to try it!


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The room at Cosmetic Center by VIVA was cozy and smelled like an upscale yoga studio, in the very best way. Dina Crowell is the Master Esthatician for VIVA. She is friendly and extreemly knowledgable.



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Dina Crowell, licensed Medical Master Aesthetician


As you can imagine I had lots of questions about dermaplaning, but also about another popular procedure they do a Viva: Body contouring. 


Cosmetic Center by VIVA offers two non-surgical body contouring procedures. These porcedures use a combination of ultrasound technology, bi-polar radiofrequency energy, infrared light, and vacuum technology for fat reduction, skin tightening, and body shaping.



I gave birth 3 times in 5 years, guys. This is on my radar big time.


Let’s get back to the blade, though.



The dermaplaning felt great and left no redness. Durning the procedure your face gets steamed and then a surgical blade is gently drawn over your skin. This removes a layer of dead skin and peach fuzz. Your face is left baby soft and your collegian stimulated. This encourages new cell growth and younger looking skin. Not to mention a fresh, dewy glow. After the planing, your face is doused generously with serums, massaged lymphatically, and sunscreened to its fullest potential. I was in heaven.



Because I love you, here's my make up free before...



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Here's my make up free after...



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If you are interested in dermaplaning or any other treatment, you MUST FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK THIS WEEK. @cosmeticcenterbyviva


Guys, Cosmetic Center by VIVA is doing a week of Black Friday deals and they are amazing. We totally support treating yourself this year and giving the gift of dermaplaning to someone you love.


Merry Christmas and happy shopping, from my fresh face to yours!


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Beautiful daughter, please remember that I love you!

This post originally appeared on Our Journey with Anxiety and Autism


Exactly 16 weeks ago Kendall came home with a letter that made me cry. It was a letter I was never prepared to read as a parent let alone from my eight year old. I have spent the last four months making sure this little angel knows that she is loved. I have tried to teach her that loving herself is the most important lesson she can learn. I tried to let her know that once she finds love with herself the important friends in her life will surface. Words I live by for myself, but by no means a concept I understood at eight years old. I tried to sit down and write about this so many times, but couldn’t put into words what I was trying to say.

Daughter letter

“When I feel bully I wish that I chould die”. Those were the words I read over and over again. They never got easier to read and they still are impossible for me to understand. I thought I had been doing everything right to make sure my children knew that they were loved. The thing is, the bulk of their days are spent away from me. They are spent at school, camp, extended day, and other activities with kids who don’t share the same joy and love for my child. Kendall can come home and be sassy with me and yell at me and she knows at the end of it I will hug her and still love her. Those big reactions don’t always work well with other kids though, and there is no guarantee they will want to continue to be her friend.

Before you get angry and wonder what eight year olds are bullying her or if we have involved the school I want you to know that we don’t think any of the behaviors from her friends were intentional. And to answer the other piece of your internal monologue, yes we involved the school.

Through our processing with her we don’t think anyone was intentionally being mean to Kendall to see her hurting. We have discovered more so through all of this that she lacks confidence and coping skills. Blessing or curse she inherited my big heart and with a big heart comes a lot of emotions. Sometimes those emotions become too much to handle and for Kendall that typically means a big reaction. A reaction that makes other kids not want to play with her because they can’t understand why she is upset. Or she can have a reaction that makes her simply be mean to other kids because she lacks the appropriate skills on how to cope when she is feeling discouraged. This is not to say that at some point she hasn’t been teased or left out of a group, but that is to be expected to some extent in elementary school and it would be unfair to label another child as a bully at this point and time based on the information we have from her.

Daughter smile

When I first read this letter I wanted to know immediately who was making her feel bullied and she couldn’t tell me. She didn’t fully understand the word bully, but to her feeling left out of any group or situation to her was being bullied. Some days she would be best friends with a group of girls and other days she would at odds with them. Although I don’t remember this starting in second grade for me, unfortunately these friendship behaviors are normal developmental stages. In speaking with her teachers she would get angry with her friends for getting picked for something she wanted or for choosing a different activity than she suggested. She didn’t like not getting her way and it was causing her to fight with her peers.

There was a larger issue than bullying in the letter though and I had to then ask the difficult question, what did death mean to her? Her answer showed many of us that she didn’t fully understand the impact of that statement. However, the follow-up statements of wanting to runaway when she was feeling sad were equally concerning.

I have spent the last four months watching her every move. Processing her day with her. Asking probing questions of her. I am loving her without coddling her. I am crying in a different room from her so she doesn’t see me hurting and she sees what strength looks like. I sneak in her room and sit by her bedside every night after she falls asleep just to watch her be at peace.

Mother daughter

Photo by Kim Lyn Photography


She apologized for writing the letter. I applauded her for writing it. I made sure her teachers were applauding her for writing it too. What strength it took this little girl to put into words her struggles. She demonstrated that she has the ability to learn coping strategies and writing is one of those. She now has a journal at home and school that she is encouraged to use for both happy and sad days.

We have her seeing someone now, her “feelings doctor” as she likes to call her. She comes out of the sessions beaming and excited for what they are going to work on the following week. She is learning the difference between a big problem and a little problem. She is learning to take a deep breath. She is learning how to be a kid even with a mind that doesn’t ever stop worrying.

She is far from cured as emotional development is a lengthy process, but I need to make sure she keeps talking, keeps writing, keeps communicating her struggles so she never feels alone with her family. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us already. She definitely feels the love and we have been trying to encourage her to embrace those near and far who want her to succeed.

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LuLa Who?

I know you, my stylish friends, are well aware of LuLaRoe... or maybe some of you aren't? Either way, I would like to discuss the addiction that is LuLaRoe. This company is probably best known for their leggings that come in all kinds of prints, although they do have quite a variety of other clothing styles. Believe it or not, I only just recently found out about and started buying from LuLaRoe boutiques. And guess what?!? I don't own a single pair of their leggings! I'm not really a legging person, but I do love their pencil skirts, which in LuLaRoe speak is the Cassie Skirt. Here's a few of mine and how I style them.

LuLaRoe Cassie

I have quite a collection of Cassies. For a pencil skirt, they fit really well and have enough stretch so that you don't feel like you have to take tiny baby steps when walking in them. Because I've been there...trying to walk in a pencil skirt that's too tight... it's not cute.

Since I am new to the wonderful world of LuLaRoe I asked a friend who sells the clothing to give me her input on the clothing line, what her favorite style is... etc. I am also linking to her LuLaRoe Facebook page, in case you are an addict like me and like to see what everyone has in their boutiques...because unicorns!!!!

Here's Tiffany. You can find her LuLaRoe page at LuLaRoeTiffanyLupo (Facebook). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“My name is Tiffany I'm a wife and a mother to 3 beautiful children all under the age of 5. My life is definitely beautiful chaos at times and I love it !! I have always been into fashion and clothes but once I became a mom I felt like I barely had time to get ready let alone dress myself up! I found myself wearing yoga pants probably 6 days of the week then I tried on my first pair of LuLaRoe leggings and I fell in love , not only were they comfortable but they were cute !! I then went from one pair of leggings to well,,, a lot then I started to fall in love with all their clothes !!! I then decided I should be a consultant and help other women feel beautiful! LuLaRoe's clothing are made for all women of all ages and sizes !! There is something for everyone! Whether you wear a bold print or a solid !

My personal favorite is the Julia dress, I wear it as a dress in the spring and summer and in the winter I tuck it under and wear it with leggings and boots!!! Let me help you find some clothes to make you feel comfortable and beautiful!

You are beautiful for you are fearfully and wonderfully made . Psalms 139:14”

When I mentioned to Tiffany that I didn't have any styles other than the Cassie, she offered to set up a personal shopping day so that I could try on different LuLaRoe styles. And, can I say, we had the MOST fun. It was also great “research”. I tried on all of the styles that she had in my size, and while I still really love the Cassie skirts, I now know that I'm a Julia fan too!

Julia dress

The truth is that I fell in love with Julia. The versatility comes in handy, and I like the idea of changing the length of it to suit the season and your outfit. Feels like I'm getting more for my money, am I right?!?!? Here's the same Julia dress folded under into a tunic and paired with their leggings (yes I actually bought the leggings too!) Never say never.

Julia leggins

Julia pink

Another Julia dress! This one matched the pink in my hair! And look at my face! So funny. I totally bought this one. So cute! She also had a few Cassie skirts that I just had to have. We had a beautifully warm February day to take these photos, and now, after the recent cold snap, I'm dreaming of warmer days!!!

tank top

jean jacket

Apparently, there are a LOT of different ways to wear LuLaRoe clothing. I really had no idea. I really recommend going to a LuLaRoe pop up because the ladies who sell the clothing really know their stuff! Tiffany showed me how to tie this Irma tee a few different ways. This one is a size bigger then my normal, so I was able to experiment with how to style it. The stretchy material of this one helped too. I ended up buying it, because, hello!!! It matches my hair!!!!!!

Irma tee

And, while all the clothing was beautiful and very comfy, I didn't love everything that I tried on. Here are the things that I didn't buy. That being said, I loved the Sarah Cardigan; I just want to hold out for a solid colored one. The top grey colored tee is an Irma, and the bottom green one is a perfect tee. I liked the Irma knotted; I thought it was a cute idea, but my wallet told me no. LOL.


I can certainly see, now, how people get addicted to this clothing. And I have expanded my collection quite a bit since this shopping... errr “research” day. Please head over to my personal blog for more on LuLaRoe. I also feature another one of my friends’ LuLaRoe pages, so you’ll want to add her to your “must see” list.


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Don’t Discount Secondhand

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite things: buying secondhand. Now, don't be afraid, I know there's sometimes a negative connotation associated with buying secondhand. What would you say if I told you, that 80% of my wardrobe is secondhand? No really, #truth. The majority of my wardrobe is secondhand. If you think about it, it's not that crazy. Ok, well, my obsession with impractical shoes borders on crazy, but that's a story for another day. Moving on...

We all clean out our closets and then donate what no longer fits, or we just aren't wearing anymore. I've donated clothes that are perfectly fine, are still in style and have barely been worn; they just didn't work for me anymore. I'm here to tell you, to yell it off the rooftops, give secondhand a chance! All right, so it does require a bit of patience, time and a few helpful tips. But that's why you have me!

There are a few different ways to shop secondhand. Locally, of course there are thrift stores (I tend to stalk, er, visit Goodwill frequently) and other resale shops like clothes mentor. There are also online stores like ThredUp that sell secondhand clothing. Today, I’ like to talk about ThredUp, because honestly, it's my favorite. ThredUp is an online secondhand store that sells women's clothing, shoes and even kids’ clothing all well below retail value. On any given day, you might find this on my doorstep:

thred up box

It's so happy sitting there..the polka dot box, the happy colors! It's happy mail!

But seriously, my husband thinks I'm a bit crazy regarding my love affair of ThredUp. I use their app, and it's very easy to navigate. So easy it's dangerous! Make sure you filter it by your sizes, and I always check the new arrivals and the shoes section. Also, be sure to read the description and check the condition of the item. ThredUp is really good at telling you if there are any issues with the condition of the item. I usually only buy things that say “new with tags” or “like brand new”.


( This cardigan is my all-time favorite and it's from ThredUP!)

I can neither confirm nor deny that I currently have a cart full of more stuff for my “research”...hopefully the box comes when hubby isn't here, wink wink. Back to the important stuff...when you are adding things to your cart, keep in mind that they won't stay there. ThredUp has a time limit on items in your cart, I haven't figured out exactly how long it is, but I think you get 18-24hours. Once you order, and your box comes, you have two weeks to decide if you want to keep it. Try everything on, but if you decide to return things, they have to be returned in original condition to get a refund. Returns are easily done online; you can even print your own label. They offer different options for returns and I always choose the “return for store credit” option because it's free shipping. And who am I kidding, I spend the store credit as soon as I get it, so it's a win-win.



(These dresses and my favorite jacket came from ThredUp!!)

Now you know about my secret love affair with ThredUP, go see what treasures await you. Just don't shop my size...ok?!? Also, head over to my personal blog to read more about shopping secondhand locally and see a few more of my favorite secondhand outfits!

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The Table at St. George’s

The Table at St. George’s is a market-style food pantry serving the extended local community. Visitors are invited to select their own items from a variety of fresh food, including locally grown produce. The Table’s mission is to encourage healthy eating, build relationships with those in need, and blur the lines between those serving and those being served.