J’adore…Boots Botanics (An Influenster Review)


Another product I received from Influenster was the clay mask pictured above. Let me tell you, I was THRILLED, because I’ve been wanting to try a clay mask for a long time, but the options are endless. To get one as a sample was the kick in the pants I needed.

I liked the way the mask made my skin feel when I wiped it off. I felt moisturized, but not oily. I also liked that my skin glowed and felt so smooth. (Coming from an acne-cursed girl, that’s BIG news.)

The next morning, my skin was it’s typical oily self. The mask suggests once-per-week use, so hopefully this will be a change over time…

The only thing I didn’t like about the mask was that it stained my washcloth when I was taking the product off. It might come out in the wash, but the product is a dark green color, and my washcloth is sunshine yellow. For being the only negative experience, though, I’ll take it. This product was great to trial.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 9.25.08 PM                              Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 9.25.54 PM


Disclaimer: Influenster provided me with a copy of this product for review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed are solely mine. 


J’adore…Hershey’s Kisses! (An Influenster Review)

Okay, this is going to be an ultra-short post, because we all know and love Hershey’s Kisses! (Unless you’re allergic to chocolate, in which case I’m incredibly sorry, you poor thing!)


Earlier this week, I grammed my love for the chocolatey treat and (thankfully!) only ate a small handful of what was pictured. (Receiving a family-sized bag was both a blessing and a curse!)

Today, I finished up my “research” and pinned a TON of recipes that I hope to try with the rest of my bag, which you can find here.


Disclaimer: Influenster provided me with a copy of this product for review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed are solely mine. 


J’Adore…Red Rose (An Influenster Review)

I’m not usually a fan of black tea; I’m more of your green/herbal kind of gal. When I got the Créme Caramel, I wasn’t too sure if I’d like it, but I tried it regardless.  Boy, am I glad I did!

This tea is smooth and not too strong. The caramel flavor is just enough to hint at indulging without the sugar-rush. I would drink this tea in lieu of an after-dinner dessert or even just to unwind after a rough day at work.


My verdict? J’adore.

Disclaimer: Influenster provided me with a copy of this product for review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed are solely mine. 

A big hurdle.

No, I’m not talking about the hurdles you jump over in track & field.  I’m talking real-life hurdles–the ones we deal with daily, that you can’t solve by simply going to sleep and looking at your hurdle with fresh eyes the next morning.  I’m 5’4″, give or take a 1/2″, and I’m staring up at a 6′ tall hurdle. (okay, maybe a SLIGHT exaggeration, but still.)

My kids aren’t talkers.  A Speech/Language Pathologist with a caseload of non-verbal students is a pretty large hurdle, I’d say (but I’m biased, so…).  My biggest challenge, and actually, saving grace, has been a caseload of kids who I’m working on language skills through play and in their curriculum and during snack time.

Sounds fun, huh?  Not so much when they get a fistful of your curly locks because you wouldn’t give them “more juice” without asking.  Not so much when they spit at you because they don’t want to work to get play time.  Not so much when they slobber on their hand, then slap you across the face (okay, that was one time, but it still hurt!).

So my biggest challenge as an SLP with my kids is to toe the line between making them want to communicate and avoiding the communicative behaviors that clearly state “lady, you’re not going to make me sign ‘more’ or hit that stupid Big Mack one more time today, and I’ll prove it.”

A huge saving grace for me has been integrating communication into sensory arts classes.  In typical schools, we would have art class and music class, but in my school, we have a rockin’ teacher who takes care of both. 🙂

I had no idea how much easier life could be when the lesson is made up for me, and my sole job is to make communication boards/program devices to suit the lessons! (Which is still incredibly time consuming, but at least I didn’t have to write the lesson plan!!)

This week is multicultural week, and we’re learning about Africa.  I don’t want to steal my colleague’s hard work, but let me just say that those kids were making African prints, and those designs were some of the coolest artwork I’ve seen.

So, you say, helping the kids make choices and having them push buttons to indicate said choices sounds pretty doable, right?  Let me include this fact: over half my school is visually impaired, with a large portion of students who are blind (and most of those students are also deaf or hard-of-hearing! but that’s another story for another day…).  How am I supposed to get them to make choices of pictures that I’ve printed? They’re two-dimensional!

Well, my friends, here enters my creative side: in a stroke of creativity during the lesson today, I decided to make these gems:


(please ignore the earrings and huge glare that I didn’t notice until I posted this!)

My VI students inspired me to create this rudimentary symbol for a monkey tail and a lion mane.  My hope is that the students can at least make a tactile decision about what animals we sang about.

I’m curious to see how this lesson pans out!  I’m hoping well, because that lion mane took 2 re-runs of Lost and an entire hot-glue stick to fabricate!!

FTE week.

F-T-E.  Three letters I am learning to cower from, in fear… Just kidding, it’s not THAT bad.

FTE week is a funding week here in Florida, designed to allocate state monies for the children in ESE programs (special ed. programs).  FTE is basically a fancy way of saying, “if your student isn’t here this week, we’re not giving any state money into their special education. So, yikes. For the SLP, this basically means, scramble to see every child on your caseload, while also keeping up with your paperwork, IEPs, school responsibilities, and oh, yea: you have 5 days to get all this done.

Nightmare!  This week just happens to (luckily) fall when I don’t have a professional development site to go to, HOWEVER, I personally have 3 IEPs and a committee meeting, which should take the better chunk of my tomorrow.  And my kiddos that are absent?  They won’t count for funding.  Fantastic.

Basically, I’m trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, here.  I am at a loss as to how I will have enough time to allocate to each student while maintaining my responsibilities as a school employee.

Luckily, I have a few 2x a week kiddos, so that saves me a bit of time (FTE week, you are only required to see your caseload once through.  So, those 60 minutes, twice per week kids?  I can go with 60, just for this week (thank GOODNESS.))

I apologize if this was a boring post, but I have felt nothing but FTE stress all week.


Exploring Jax.

I’m a Pittsburgh girl at heart.  I will always love that city, whether in a ‘long-time friend who you pick back up as if you’d never left’ or a ‘annoying sibling who you love to hate’ kind of a way.  I feel a bit like a traitor when I say that I love Jacksonville now.  I realize that people move all of the time.  It’s completely normal for professionals to relocate their entire lives to brand-new areas for jobs, sometimes several times a year.  I just feel that the first move away from your home is probably the hardest.

I’d be lying to you if I said that moving to Jacksonville was easy.  I miss my family, friends, and boyfriend more than just about anything in the world.  That being said, I’m loving exploring a new city with new friends, colleagues, and experiences to add to my life.  And this is where I feel torn.  Sometimes I feel a bit black and white.  I know it’s funny to say that, because typically young kids think in black and white, and adults are cognizant of the grays.  Still, I feel the dichotomy of loving Pittsburgh and all yinz guys dahntahn n’at and loving Jacksonville and all ya’ll have to offer down here.

Southern living is really a bit more north of Jacksonville, but I still hear folks calling this city a southern town.  “Ya’ll” is dropped on the daily, and at the school I’m working, a day doesn’t go by without a “good morning, baby,” or “how you doin’, child?”  This is one of the most interesting cities I’ve been to.  Jacksonville has a funny layout (maybe funny isn’t the right word, but I don’t have a better adjective at the moment).  I live in a beautiful section of town called Riverside, about two blocks from St. John’s River.  The general consensus is that I’m in the “hipster” part of town (and I am perfectly fine with that!).  A few blocks away, there are a few historical districts: Five Points and Avondale.  Go further down the road, cross the train tracks, and you reach Murray Hill.  Now, I can’t say firsthand, but from everyone I’ve spoken to, that’s not a place you want to go to alone, especially late at night.  Surprisingly, Murray Hill is maybe a two or three minute drive away from Riverside.  And so it goes, around the city, nice areas hip-bumping the not-so-nice areas.  I have never seen anything so well-defined.

Not to mention: the hospitality! I was shocked at how welcoming people can be to a 20-something white girl from good, ol’ PA (For my friends back home, we either get the “Amish” or the “rough-neck-of-Philly” reputation down here. I’ve already had two people ask if I was a Eagles fan. “Steelers country, baby!” –I’m no football fan, but I can still say I support dem Stillers 😉 ).  Just about everyone I’ve come in contact with is willing to help me out in some way or another. I’ve added more phone numbers to my address book in the past week than when I started college!

Oh, and you had better say “good morning” to everyone you cross paths with down here.  I didn’t realize just what southern living was like, until everyone was recommending the fried green tomatoes, the shrimp and grits, and dropping “ya’ll” in every sentence like the “yinz” bomb.

Getting used to Jacksonville is like starting over for me.  There really aren’t any stores like there are up north.  A Giant Eagle is simply a large bird, and Publix is THE place to be.  Tijuana Flats not only trumps Chipotle, but by a landslide (Plus, my awesome neighbor and new friend works there, so I’m going to be a frequent customer, for sure!).  Starbucks are similarly just around every corner, but the land is so flat, you can get just about anywhere you need to go in 20 minutes.  The only hills I’ve seen are the entrance and exit ramps on the highway, which is an incredibly distant cry from Canton Ave.

So, I’m torn.  I do and always will love Pittsburgh, but eating dinner outside in the middle of February is an enormous perk.  I miss the snow, but hey, isn’t that what vacation is for? 😉

Communication for all

I’ve made it through week 1 of my Clinical Fellowship experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist!!!  (For you non-speechies, this experience is a 9 month-long career as an SLP, while a mentor guides you through all those questions they didn’t have the answers to in graduate school.)

Most of my classmates (and most SLPs, really) begin working at SNFs (skilled nursing facilities) or hospitals or traditional schools.  This SLP?  I got lucky and got placed at Mt. Herman Exceptional Student Center.  This school is a center for low-incidence disabilities, and I am lucky to call myself their SLP.  My intention for this post isn’t to get on my soapbox and preach about functional communication and allowing all students to have a chance to communicate their wants and needs because we all deserve to have our wants and needs met, but I think the length of this sentence telling you how much I DON’T want to lecture shows you how important this position is to me.

I know I’m in for a challenge at this setting, especially as a brand-spanking-new SLP-CF, but I think my colleagues don’t realize that unlike a traditional school, (a) I’m not case manager for ANY IEPs, (b) I get to take as long as I need to for the students to warm up to me, and me to them, (c) because of the nature of Mt. Herman, I am not going to have copious amounts of data to report on, (d) my job mainly entails supporting the ESE teachers (exceptional student education…AKA special education…AKA learning support…) to help them facilitate communication for the older students, and really tapping in to the potential of my babies (PK-3, PK-4, K, 1…) to give that early intervention support they respond to.

Like I said, I didn’t want to soapbox, but I think this profession is one of those where you sometimes just can’t help yourself.

Communication is a right we all deserve. I’m just trying get these little sweethearts’ messages “un-stuck.”