At Home Teeth Whitening: On the Go

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I have always been about plans and schedules even before I became a mom, it just made my life so much easier (at that time anyway).  I literally lived off routines and Plan Bs—coffee at work early in the morning, workout as soon as I get home, wine night with the girls on Thursdays, packing a month in advance before my travels, 9 am mass with family on Sundays and if we don’t make it we go to the 11 am mass. It felt good to be in control of things, it seemed that I had everything figured out but that was only good to a certain extent. Anything unexpected would get me stressed; a little deviation from the plan I would get stressed so imagine how it was the first time I became a mom. I felt like nothing went according to plan and it was driving me crazy, I wasn’t in control anymore.

A lot has happened since then and I’ve learned to accept my new norm, I now am a proud Stay-at-home mom of two wonderful kids and I’ve embraced the uncertainties with my Cassie and Xavi. Sure, I try to somewhat create a routine at home but with a toddler and a baby things are VERY unpredictable. Trips to the gym, the parlor, the salon, the doctor and the dentist have to be carefully planned, for the most part I’ve learned to just do my own nails and master the art of doing the messy bun, I exercise at home with those home video workouts,I take my kids to my doctors appointments and the dentist—well, I normally just wait for another trip to the Philippines (where I am from) and I have everything done over there from cleaning, fillings and even a root canal just coz its cheaper. Let’s just say I have a new found appreciation for home services.

I’m a wine lover, I appreciate tea and just like most moms, coffee is life. I never even thought of teeth stains until Smile Brilliant reached out to me, let’s just say teeth Whitening hasn’t been on my list of priorities just coz those require trips to the dentist, they cost a lot and I’m not even sure if our dental insurance covers it. Before getting married, I tried a bunch of teeth whitening products in the past like toothpaste, whitening strips and a teeth whitening pen-like brush my old boss gave  to me but they had minimal results, since then I’ve been skeptical.

Before starting the whitening process with Smile Brilliant I had a bunch of concerns mainly with:
✔️ teeth sensitivity
✔️ teeth structure (I have a deep bite and I just had a tooth taken out)
✔️ nursing/breast feeding

…and Smile Brilliant addressed all of those concerns by showing me their FAQs and providing me with extra information. So I’ve learned that teeth sensitivity is a possibility in the process just coz the teeth’s pores need to be opened to remove the stains and the sensitivity will vary per person; sometimes you’ll feel it  and sometimes you won’t. As for my concern with my teeth structure, because of SMILE BRILLIANT’s customized trays I am assured that the teeth whitening product will cover areas in my mouth that are hard to reach. There are also a lot of advice against using any teeth whitening product while pregnant or nursing but I was able to get a “GO” signal from my dentist, apparently there haven’t been enough studies to conclude that the process is safe for those women so just to be on the safe side they recommend that you defer from using it until the pregnancy is over.

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The process was very simple really, SMILE BRILLIANT came up with a very precise step by step that’s very user friendly. They make you fill up a short dental history questionnaire, you send it back to them and they send you your molding kit in return. Follow the instructions and send your teeth molds in the envelope that they provided and a week after, TA-DA you get your own personalized trays to use for the teeth whitening process. Since my trays arrived, my kids and I have been traveling to visit family from Indiana to Houston to LA and its unbelievable how convenient it is to carry my kit around. I’ve packed it with my toiletries, carried it in my purse and placed it in my baby’s diaper bag on the plane. It’s been a month since I started using SMILE BRILLIANT and it continues to impress me just because you literally see the results when you look at the mirror, the gradual change is evident. Even my husband noticed that my teeth were a few shades lighter the first few days I used it and when it comes to products like these, it really is all about the RESULTS.

It’s comforting to know that even as a stay-at-home mom, I am able to rock my pearly whites without having to drop everything that I’m doing because I can do it in the comforts of my own home, for a fraction of the price the dentist’s charging you.

Here’s a side by side BEFORE and AFTER comparison and just because I want you to see the results for yourself, I have partnered with Smile Brilliant to give one lucky winner a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit, just click on the link below:

SMILE BRILLIANT GIVEAWAY

or

If you want to purchase the kit right away here’s a 15% off coupon code that you can use upon check out. Coupon: socialtumbleweed15.

  • Giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit and will run for 2 weeks (after blog post date). It is open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents.

There you have it, I hope this review was somewhat helpful to those of you seriously considering “at home teeth whitening”. Enjoy the week ahead of you and smile away!

~Rhea

 Professional Teeth Whitening

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Meeting “Igby”: Xavi’s Birth Story

“…I was at 9.5 cm, and then she asks me if I wanted epidural, I said yes but I knew that was a trick question.”

Igby is the bump name/ fetus name (or whatever you call it) Marco gave our little boy. I don’t know why but he likes giving them weird, unconventional, unattractive names (Cassie’s was Spriki short for Sprikitik), I love him so I just roll with it and besides it’s only temporary until the baby comes out.

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Proud daddy Marco

With the successive change in our lives, I wasn’t surprised how different the two pregnancies were. This time around I found myself in Muncie, Indiana, blessed to have insurance coverage through Marco’s work (although we still have the deductible and of course eventually our share to pay) so at least we didn’t have to worry about that, an OBGYN referred by Marco’s physician uncle and a hospital close to home a.k.a Marco’s workplace. Another thing that I had to deal with was not having my family around, it’s a good thing my sister Pauline from Houston stayed after the holidays to help me during the last stage of my pregnancy.

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Cassie reading to her baby brother.

I had my last doctor’s appointment a week prior to giving birth and from the looks of it we could all tell that the baby dropped already but I was only 1.5 cm dilated and it stayed like that for a few more days. Fast forward to the day of the pregnancy, I was already feeling some pain in the morning but I still equated it to Braxton Hicks so I went along my merry way doing the usual cleaning the house. Yes, at this point I was still bending down and climbing on chairs (don’t worry they weren’t really high) even though my doctor and Marco already told me off. Pauline offered to help me out, she always does but I like being on the go, so I still bathed Cassie, cleaned her room, fixed our bed and even vacuumed the house. I was feeling pain all throughout the day but nothing I couldn’t handle, I was still convinced it was Braxton Hicks. Marco came home from work around 5pm, I already texted him earlier that I was feeling some pain but they weren’t consistent yet, he was pretty sure I wasn’t in labor yet so as soon as he got home, he changed and headed out to dinner. He was scheduled to take out the residency program applicants for a pre-interview dinner and it just so happened that his cousin was one of those applicants so I told him to go.

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Always the first one to change the baby’s diaper.

He left at 6pm and around 7pm I felt the contractions more consistent this time so I started timing it. They were still approximately every 7-8 minutes and they lasted for 25-30 seconds so I was thinking maybe I’ll end up giving birth early tomorrow. Nope. The contractions got stronger and so my sister texted Marco about it, he got home around 8pm and timed the contractions himself, they were every 4 minutes and they lasted for 40 seconds, I was in labor and we needed to head to the hospital ASAP. Every STOP sign was a pain in the a**, I literally asked him if he could break the law and not stop just coz it hurt every time he would. We got to the hospital around 8:30pm, Pauline dropped me, Marco and Cassie at the entrance as she parked the car and he wheeled me into the Labor and Delivery section. I was in pain alright, I’d make a face every time the contraction came but still managed to take an IG video/ snap while heading there.

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Cassie touching her brother’s head for the first time.

I walked in and they asked me the standard questions,I even managed to reach for my wallet and handed my insurance card (only to find out that I handed my car insurance card, hahaha). Name, Doctor, how far along, due date…I verbally answered them in between contractions while Marco filled up the remaining forms to fill. Finally, they had a nurse check to see how dilated my cervix was—I was at 9.5 cm, and then she asks me if I wanted epidural, I said yes but I knew that was a trick question.

They wheeled me into a room and had a LOT of nurses and that’s when I realized, “oh crap, the baby is probably going to come out any minute coz they’re all scurrying around like its an emergency”. My doctor walked in and she explained to me that it will take time for epidural to kick in and the baby will come out before it does so here we go— ALL NATURAL NO EPIDURAL BIRTH and I wasn’t ready. Oh well, C’est La Vie. They broke my water (which probably was the only thing that was stopping the baby from coming out) She told me to let her know when I start to feel the urge to push and I’m telling you in between the contractions you suddenly get that urge to let the baby out. My husband who was holding my hand had to ask me to let go mid-way coz I was crushing it, I guess you don’t really know your own strength until you push a baby out.

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I don’t know how I did it but I focused on my doctor’s voice and importantly followed her directions, when she tells you to push, no matter how  tired you are you give it your all and you PUSH. They were giving me updates like, “his head is coming out”, “oh, he has a lot of hair”, “you’re almost there”, you listen to those words and let it motivate you. Just when I thought I couldn’t push anymore coz I really felt exhausted, I gave it one LAST.LONG.PUSH to the point where I couldn’t breathe and then I heard it—I heard my baby’s cries, I finally get to hold my little Xavi They cleaned me up as they were cleaning him up, I felt them taking out something that felt like a big blob and then they stitched me down there. I think what I hated the most was when they pushed my tummy to check if blood was still coming out from wherever its supposed to come out (I’m pretty sure theres a medical term for that) but if you ask me what the whole process felt like, it felt like I released one BIG, GINORMOUS poop after a month of being constipated (sorry for being grossly graphic).

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At 10:03 pm, I gave birth to Jose Inigo Xavier. He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 21 inches long. Thank you Lord for keeping me and Xavi safe.

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Our first family photo
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Taking him home for the first time. It was one cold night

 

~Rhea (now officially a mom of 2)

DIY Peanut Butter FUN-whiches

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Recently, Marco and I have discovered the magic of Fresh Thyme‘s freshly ground almond, cashew and honey ground peanut butter (our personal favorite). They literally have the actual machines that convert your peanuts into butter right in front of your very eyes and the best part is you get to do it and you get to sample it as well, I don’t think it gets FRESH-er than that. If you don’t think that’s cool,well you can always grab an already packaged one.

Anyway, I wish I could say the same for my 2.5-yr old, Cassie. To those who follow me on IG, I know I’ve expressed how picky my child can be and unfortunately she has decided that she doesn’t like peanut butter without even trying. So, in efforts to change her mind I’ve created some “FUN-whiches”  with the help of some of her favorite fruits, hopefully she will want to try out one of these.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples (honestly you can pretty much improvise)

BEAR

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes)

CAT

( bread, peanut butter, grapes, strawberries, apples)

OWL

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, grapes)

MONKEY

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes)

CHICKEN

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes, strawberries)

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

RANDOM SILLY FACE

( bread, peanut butter, grapes, strawberries, apples)

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…And here’s the fun-which preparation after-math, I had to get some peanut butter for myself too. And just in case you’re thinking it.. NO, I didn’t double dip. haha.

~Rhea

INFLUENSTER: Lancôme Hydrazen Voxbox

 

A few weeks ago, the perfect summer care package came in the mail from Lancôme c/o Influenster, inside it were 3 items— the Lancôme Tonique Confort, the Lancôme Hydrazen Moisturizer and lastly L’absolu Lacquer in the shade of BE UNIQUE. Although I received the package from Influenster in exchange for my honest reviews, I figured I might as well write those reviews here on the blog so I could keep track of the products that I enjoy the best.

With beauty products, you can try them on, wait a few hours or a day to decide if you like them or not but for skin care products, I think you should give them at least a week to see if they work well for you or your skin.I have combination skin but lately thanks to the summer heat my skin has been dry, It also doesn’t help that I’m inconsistent with my skin care and I haven’t been getting enough sleep.

Lancôme Tonique Confort (6.7 oz/200 ml) – $26

Lancôme came up with the perfect formula when they created this product, upon application it’ll feel cold against your skin and it’s a bit thick (comparable to goo but in a good way) compared to the other toners in the market. It’s refreshing on the skin and it doesn’t have that harsh alcohol-like smell other toners have, in fact it smells really good, it has a very light floral scent to it. It’s perfect for moisturizing sensitive skin like mine. I use this product twice a day (once in the morning after I take a bath and once at night after I rinse and wash my face) and it leaves my skin hydrated the entire day.

Lancôme Hydrazen Moisturizer- (1.7 oz/ 50ml) $48

 I apply this moisturizing cream gel in the morning after applying my toner, it is pleasantly light on the skin, its cool and calming and has a rose scent that isn’t over powering but if you dislike anything that smells like roses then this might be a problem for you. My skin looks rested and noticeably hydrated after a few minutes of application, it doesn’t leave my skin greasy although it looks like that upon application but the moisturizer is actually easily absorbed.

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My skin with no makeup and no filter after I applied the Lancôme Tonique Confort followed by theLancôme Hydrazen Moisturizer. Please excuse the eye bags.

Lancôme L’absolu Lacquer- 378 Be Unique – fuchsia (0.27 oz/8ml) $26

Dry lips are my norm and I usually dont bother with lipsticks just coz most of the time they dry out as the day goes by leaving me with more chapped lips. Before applying any kind of lippie, I always have to go through the tedious process of moisturizing it so the lipstick goes on smoothly. I applied this product directly on my lips and it instantly took out the dryness, it saved me the step of moisturizing and it lasted almost the entire day. After a meal, even if the gloss wasn’t there anymore my lips still stayed brightly colored like it would if a lip stain was applied on it and really only one coat of this lip lacquer did that. I’d imagine two coats would be perfect for a day out and three for a night out. In the photo above, I just quickly applied one coat before heading out.

 

There you have it, as a Stay-at-home mom of two I’d have to say getting this voxbox from Influenster was a treat indeed. Sometimes when you’re trying to do a million and one things all at the same time you forget about self care and I somewhat got reminded that I should pamper myself once in awhile even if it just means taking a few minutes out of my busy schedule to moisturize my skin.

How about you, what’s your morning summer skincare routine?

~Rhea

DIY: #Walmartplayhousehack

Since I’ve been getting a lot of DMs about Cassie’s playhouse, I decided to finally blog about the building process and the house details. I’ve always wanted a wooden playhouse for Cassie and one of the main reasons for picking a wooden one instead of the hundreds of plastic options is the fact that you could make it your own. I wanted to have that option of painting and decorating the house like you would with your own home and I wanted it to be something my daughter and I could do together.

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This is the stock photo on the Walmart website.

We bought this Backyard Discovery Timberlake Cedar Wooden Playhouse at Walmart.com when it was on sale right before Christmas. It wasn’t much of a big sale but I’ve been on the watch and so far this was the cheapest it’s been. You can click on the product name above to link you directly to the Walmart website. When we purchased it, this playhouse was $175 and that’s very cheap considering that its a wooden playhouse. Right now (as I’m writing this blog) if you check the website the playhouse now runs for $184 which is still less than $200, still not bad for the price.

So before I decided to paint the house I started looking up Wooden Playhouse Decoration Inspiration on Pinterest and stumbled upon the Kmart Cubby house Hack and if you search on Instagram #kmartcubbyhack, it apparently is a thing that’s been around especially in Australia where parents decorate their kids wooden playhouses into posh, sophisticated, rustic, vintage or farmhouse inspired mini homes. The two houses look quite similar and from my understanding you’re able to purchase the other cubby home from Kmart in Australia for $199 AUS. I thought originally that they were the same size, I know I could’ve easily compared both by looking at their specifications online but based on some photos of the interior of the Kmart Cubby Home, that seems a tad bit bigger and wider to the point where you can put mini shelves. I honestly don’t know but with this Walmart Wooden Playhouse there’s barely any space if you have two kids playing in it already.

My husband, Marco, did most of the assembling but of course I helped, others may say that it’s possible to do it yourself but in our experience it definitely was a two-man job. I’d say the materials were labeled clearly and the instruction manual wasn’t all that confusing so I’ve got no complaints in that department. One day should be enough to build it although it took us quite awhile to build it since we were doing it leisurely during our spare time. We were building it inside our garage.

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The house after we assembled it.

As much as I loved how it turned out, I wanted to make it our own so that’s when I decided to paint it. I was a little undecided with the color scheme but I was sure I wanted gender-neutral colors to suit both Cassie and Xavi so I ended up with your typical black/white combo.I didn’t have to go far for paint, Walmart had the basic black and white (no mixing needed), I literally grabbed them from the shelf and paid for it. With the paint, I wasn’t too particular, in fact I just picked the color and picked the cheapest one. I didn’t bother reading if it was flat, matte, interior/exterior paint, quick dry— we were just painting a playhouse anyway.

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Marco was scared that the paint brushes that I got from the Dollar store were no good but again we were painting a playhouse, the wider the brush the more area it covers in one stroke. You will also need foam brushes to cover the crevices that you can’t reach with a normal paint brush. We didn’t bother sanding the wood prior to painting since it was already smooth to begin with. The paint color, type of paint and paint brush size are all subject to preference. Before you start painting, here are the things you need to do:

  1. Take out/ Unscrew all the house accessories (cooking stove, phone, doorknob, etc) and set them aside in a safe area so you don’t lose any screws
  2. Lift house and put a plastic drop cloth beneath it (or whatever that can protect your floors from messy paint)
  3. Apply painters tape to edges or corners that you don’t want to be painted or repainted. If you’re using tape on a newly painted surface make sure that the area is dry before applying tape.
  4.  PAINT first coat. I would suggest using different set of paintbrushes if you’re going with more than one color and also going one direction when painting, it just looks less messy that way)
  5. Use foam brush to fill in tight spots that can’t be reached by your paint brush.
  6. Once first coat is dry, apply second coat.
  7. Screw in all house accessories that were taken out prior to painting.
  8. DECORATE. Have fun putting up curtains, frames, house number, a bell— anything you want to personalize your playhome.

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In hindsight, it would have been easier to paint the material before assembling it. If you do decide to go this route, make sure that you re-label the wood before painting over the letters, these letters will serve as your guide when assembling the playhouse.

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VOILA! Here’s the finished product.

I’ve linked the metal vases with rope accents that were purchased from Dollar Tree, you can get them online but only in bulk. I also linked in the Grass Rug that we placed under the house, I wasn’t too comfortable with Cassie stepping on possibly rickety wooden planks so this was the cheapest and most practical alternative we could find and this rug can be used both indoor and outdoor, at least I won’t have to worry if it gets rained on. The Greenscapes Grass Rug measures 4×6 and was purchased from Target online for $22.99. We’re still in the process of adding more accents here and there but I think that pretty much wraps up the house building process. If you have any questions about  this #kmartcubbyhack or rather this #walmartplayhousehack send me an email or shoot DM, I would be glad to help.

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Finally my little family is done with this little project.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Rhea