I'll take those in CLEAR!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts, memories, and opinions are my own.


Spring cleaning uncovers many hidden memories and treasures. Some bring me back to the moment, awakening emotions, some happy, some not. Some of those memories trigger other memories, and I am transported back to a distant moment in my life.

Today, as I flipped through a photo album, desperately seeking a photo of my younger self in braces, I found only shots of me prior to the braces and after the braces. Not a single photo of me wearing them. It doesn't surprise me, since I have only a handful of photos of myself as a child.

I DID come across this one, where I was missing my top front teeth, and I recall wishing for my front teeth for Christmas that year. I also remember how I used to stick my tongue out through the huge gap where all of my front teeth, both top AND bottom, were supposed to be! The memories flood back. A chocolate Santa in my stocking. I was forbidden to eat it, but I did it anyway. A tooth came out covered in the melted chocolate. The dress was one my grandma made. A red button-up shirt and coordinating skirt that attached at the waist with small squares of velcro at the front, back, and each side.

I think beyond that phase of being "gappy" to the phase of braces. Not a fashion I flaunted, but rather one that haunted me for way too long. The painful sores on the insides of my lips, the failed attempt of covering the sharp brackets with little balls of wax. The pain of snagging a wire on carpet while hiding under a bed, which led to an entire row of brackets being ripped off of my teeth. Returning to the orthodontist to have them replaced the next day was PURE torture. I would have given anything to have left them off.

So many visits, getting more brackets, tightening the wires, and the embarrassing and uncomfortable experience of having head gear. I secretly cursed the person who invented this cruel device. Not only was it physically painful, but emotionally, as well, sitting on the couch in it, all the while having the family sit there, teasing and taunting. I hated it with a passion.

Finally, the torture ended, one week before my 8th grade graduation, but my teeth were far from straight, and I was never given a retainer to wear.

I shake my head and my thoughts float to the not-so-distant past, recalling my daughter's fearful reaction to my smile. My crooked teeth scared her, and she would grab my face, covering my mouth with both hands so she couldn't see my teeth. My feelings are hurt all over again, the way they were as a child, being tormented over my hideous head gear and pathetic attempts at playing my clarinet while brackets dug deep into my lips and made them bleed.

After a huge financial setback with Pickle's dental health, we decided to invest in dental insurance, so we could get braces for him in the future...or so I thought, when hubby told me "Now you can go get braces.", and SugarPlum added "Yeah, and go fix your yucky teeth!" I nearly cried.

The thought of going through that again is not one I cherish! Luckily, modern technology has introduced Invisalign, and it's around the same cost as traditional braces. It is also covered the same as traditional braces, by insurance!

I'm feeling optimistic about this option, and I have attended two Invisalign events this past couple of months to get answers to my questions, and to see real results on patients who have completed their treatment. I wish this had been around 20 years ago! And I feel grateful that my son will not have to experience braces the way I did the first time around!

My first introduction to Invisalign was through Bloggy Bootcamp, where the discussion focused on Invisalign Teen. Of course, I was thinking of how my son would have to wait SO LONG to get his crooked teeth straightened, but in one of my two recent lessons on Invisalign Teen, I learned that he could get them in his pre-teen or early teen years, depending on when his teeth are all done growing in!

When I attended my first Invisalign event in L.A., I was thrilled to discover that adults are having amazing results from Invisalign, as well. Knowing that I could truly get my teeth straightened after all these years, regardless of a failed attempt with traditional braces in my childhood, made a huge impact. Even better is the fact that I won't have to go through a bunch of pre-treatment in order to get started with Invisalign. I simply need to get fitted, then they will make the trays, and all I will need to do is follow the treatment plan and be consistent in wearing them.

I can also continue with my current dental hygiene routine, without the same challenges I faced as a child with braces. I can take the aligners out to eat and to brush my teeth, and if my son decides to play an instrument, such as saxophone or trumpet, he can take them out to practice and perform, without the fear of having to give up something he loves, the way I had to with the clarinet!

I'm so glad he won't have to worry about being teased and called names as a result of his aligners...they'll barely be noticeable!

My next mission is to locate an office that is covered by my insurance, so I can get an evaluation done!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts, memories, and opinions are my own.


Pickle's Gift from the Heart

Anyone who knows Pickle knows he is an energetic boy with a heart of gold. And if you know me, you know how proud I am to be his Mommy. This week is a very special week for our family. After 6 1/2 years, Pickle has finally cut his beautiful locks of blonde hair, and we are heading to a special event to donate it to Wigs for Kids! I can honestly say, I wish I had known that this event was coming to town, because I would have waited an extra week to cut his hair! But I am VERY happy to know that, although we have already cut his hair, we can still donate his hair while the event is going on! 

If you are close to one of these locations, and are thinking of cutting your hair, or that of your child, consider this an opportunity to teach your child multiple life lessons. We have spoken openly with our children about illnesses and the downsides of illness AND the side effects of some of the treatments. Our kids know how lucky they are to be healthy. They also know how much a gift can lift the spirits of another, and bring them joy and happiness.

Pickle has been very outspoken about his choice to grow his hair out long and donate it. He has suffered through teasing at school, as well as from some of our extended and overly opinionated family. He has learned to stand up for what he believes in, regardless of the hurtful words and actions of others.  I have suffered through comments that degrade my parenting skills and choices, for allowing him to have a choice AND a voice. I have no regrets. I am raising a little man who already has a giving heart. He makes my heart swell with pride.

Not only did he cut his hair, but he made the choice to keep his hair long enough to wear in a ponytail, so that he could continue to grow his hair out again, for another donation in the future.

Now, for those of you who have been considering donating your hair, please check out the information below! This is going on THIS WEEKEND!


Hair donations accepted at Master Cuts Salons in selected Westfield Malls
Saturday, Jan. 12, from noon to 4:00 p.m.
WHO/WHAT: In honor of the new Disney On Ice production “Dare to Dream” featuring Disney’s newest princess – the long golden-haired, Rapunzel from “Tangled,” Disney On Ice is inviting the community to participate in a heartwarming hair donation campaign to benefit Wigs for  Kids, an organization that helps hundreds of children every year that are suffering from medically related hair loss. Join us and donate your hair (at least 10"-12" long).

Master Cuts Salons will be providing the salon services for the event at selected Westfield Malls on Saturday, Jan. 12 from noon to 4:00 p.m.

The first 15 hair donors to register at each location will receive a Rapunzel necklace and two tickets to see Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream in San Diego, January 24-27, 2013.

WHERE:        Westfield Plaza Bonita, Westfield Parkway Plaza 
                   AND Westfield Plaza Camino Real
                            Westfield Plaza Bonita and Master Cuts Plaza Bonita
3030 Plaza Bonita Road, Suite 2075, National City, CA 91950
619-472-5899  (to register)

 Westfield Parkway Plaza and Master Cuts Parkway Plaza
 415 Parkway Plaza, El Cajon, CA 92020
619-444-3336  (to register)

 Westfield Plaza Camino Real and Master Cuts Plaza Camino Real
 2525 El Camino Real #100, Carlsbad, CA 92008 
760-643-7455  (to register)                 
WHEN:             Saturday, January 12 from noon to 4:00 p.m.
                          *Media is asked to arrive at 11:30 a.m. to check-in
About Disney On Ice
Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream will perform at the Valley View Casino Center (formerly Sports Arena) from January 23-27, 2013.  Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000 .  
For more information, please visit www.DisneyOnIce.com or look for us on Facebook and YouTube.

About Wigs for Kids
For over 30 years, Wigs for Kids has been providing Hair Replacement Systems and support for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues at no cost to children or their families. Hair loss can erode a child’s self-confidence and limit them from experiencing life the way children should. With an injured self-image, a child’s attitude toward treatment and their physical response to it can be negatively affected also. Wigs for Kids helps children suffering from hair loss look at themselves and live 
their lives.

This event has ended, but you can still donate hair or money via their website above. Check out the requirements before getting your haircut, as their length requirements differ from that of other programs!

This Broken Heart of Mine

Photo courtesy of Shannon Williamson Photography.

My heart has been broken. Again. I don't expect it to ever heal completely, and knowing my heart, I can pretty much guarantee it won't. It's missing a big piece that can never be replaced.

I have been given an amazing gift in my life, and I know how lucky I was to have had it, even though it has been taken away.

When I met my hubby, I didn't just gain a partner. I gained a family. A loving, nurturing mother...something I had been deprived of my entire life. Never had I known what it was to be loved unconditionally by a mother, and treated like a daughter.

This year marked 33 years since my own Mother's death, and just days before my yearly day of heartache, my heart shattered into millions of pieces as this wonderful Mom I had come to know as my own was taken from our family.

There is so much I want to write, to share, but I have yet to find the words, or quiet the sobs that shake me as I type.

She was diagnosed just after Easter, and while we knew our time was limited, we had no idea how truly limited it would end up being. Christmas was her favorite time of year, and since SugarPlum's birthday is perfectly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is usually celebrated amidst the cheerful decorations and celebrations of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving was planned, and the day before, Mom bowed out, letting us know that the she was getting too sensitive for the noise and chaos of a gathering. Hubby and I took dinner over to Mom and Dad, chatted for a bit, and then left. During my visit with her, Mom had mentioned moving SugarPlum's birthday celebration and the family Christmas celebration up, so she could enjoy the kids opening their hand-picked gifts...She was the BEST gift-giver EVER. She seemed to hear EVERYTHING the kids ever said, and caught on to the things they wanted and loved the most. It was a gift she seemed to possess. She mentioned a couple of the items she had already purchased, excited to see how SugarPlum's eyes would light up when she opened them for her birthday.

I sat with her while hubby and Dad stepped out for a few minutes. I held her hands...they were cold, so I sandwiched them between my own to warm them. She apologized for her cold hands, and I told her I didn't care that they were cold, because they were attached to the warmest heart I had ever known. There was so much that I wanted to say, but couldn't find the words, and before I could, she was letting us know that she was ready for us to go, because she was not able to get comfortable, and wanted to rest a bit.

I never got to say all the things I had rehearsed in my head. Mom went into hospice the next morning, and by the time we were able to get there to visit, she was heavily sedated. I asked for a few minutes with her, and told her Thank You. I choked out a few words, not knowing if she truly heard me, but hoping that she had.

November 30th, 1979. A drunk driver killed my Mom.

November 24th, 2012. Cancer took my Mom. Yes, she was MY Mom. For nearly 15 years, I was given the gift of a loving Mother. I never once took her for granted.

She loved my kids desperately, and understood them in ways I dream of. She had a unique and individual bond with each of her grandchildren. It was beautiful to witness. We all miss her beyond words. The void is immeasurable.

She taught me patience, understanding, and so much more. I wish I could say I had as much patience as she did...she literally DID have the patience of a saint.

I only hope we can honor her memory in a way that would have made her proud.


Happy Holidays!


Thank You, Mom, for the...

Photos and collage courtesy of Shannon Williamson Photography.

Looking for Peace and Showing Respect with Silence


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