Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Favorites: The Orabrush

I had this stroke of brilliance idea the other day that it would be fun to occasionally feature a product I love on my blog on Fridays. I'm a strong supporter of innovation, so I try a LOT of stuff. There are some real doozies out there, to be sure, but I've also discovered some pretty nifty gadgets and gizmos that have improved my life greatly. So, why not share them with you all?

Several years ago, a colleague of mine became the spokesman for this new product, the Orabrush. The YouTube video went viral, and that's when I finally decided to check it out.

It's super-clever, so you can go ahead and enjoy it now if you haven't had the pleasure yet.


At the conclusion of the video, I was a believer. I immediately ordered two Orabrushes -- one for me, one for Dill --  and I have NEVER regretted that decision.

It's a simple little device with a handle like a toothbrush, and a square-ish pad comprised of bristles and a scraper. The idea is, you scrub your tongue for a bit with the brush part, and then drag the scraper down your tongue to remove what you just exfoliated from your tongue. Rinse it off and store it with your toothbrush.

The first time you use this thing, you will look at the brush and have a miniature heart attack. You will not be able to believe how much CRAP has been on your tongue all these years (yes, even you religious tongue-brushers). You will temporarily feel very ashamed at what you've just removed from your tongue, wondering how many scores of humans you've offended with your smelly breath.

And then, you'll feel empowered. You'll enjoy a "tasteless" mouth for the first time in who-knows-how-long. You'll go on to use the Orabrush day and night, never to fear the stench of your own mouth EVER again. You will kiss your significant other with carefree abandon (just make sure they get one, too).

The good news is, Orabrush has expanded since my original purchase, and you can now get them at most major drug stores. BUT, if you're an Amazon fiend like myself, you can get a 2-pack here.

And don't be fooled by other tongue-scrapers and brushes -- they just don't compare. You need the combination of brushing AND scraping for maximum breath-freshening capabilities.

I firmly believe every human should own one of these. Dentists should hand them out along with toothbrushes. Anecdote: my teeth kind of suck and, despite regular flossing and brushing, I get cavities pretty easily. Since using the Orabrush, though, I've seen a drastic improvement in my dental health. I actually have dental appointments where I don't need any fillings now! I believe it's in large part due to the Orabrush removing all that nasty bacteria from my tongue.

So, what are you waiting for? Get the clean mouth you've always dreamed of right now!


*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Readers react to viral 'sexy vs breastfeeding' video

Last week, I showed you all this video and asked for your reactions. I wanted to see what problem or issue you thought the video was presenting, and what we can do to fix it.

Here's the video again, for reference.


(Disclaimer: I realize the reactions in the video may have been staged. But the reality is, many people DO feel the same way as the mall patrons in the video. Go look at the comments section on any news story about a woman being kicked out of a restaurant for breastfeeding and you'll see the exact rhetoric spewed by these "disgusted" people at the mall. Whether they are acting or not, they are portraying reality.)

The responses to the video were, not surprisingly, quite varied. But I found the commentary quite enlightening and thought-provoking nonetheless.

Many readers remarked on the presented double-standard, that a woman can show her breasts in a sexy manner but can't show them while breastfeeding.

"I was upset by this video," Andrea said. "I was upset that people called breastfeeding disgusting. I was upset that people felt they had a right to be so vocal about their 'disgust.' I was upset that that model had her boobs on display and no one commented in the negative. She was 'hot,' it was 'hot,' it was 'how her shirt is.' As the wife of a porn addict and the mother of a boy, this bothers me so much. The way society deems certain things acceptable and others not astounds me."

The apparent double-standard is problematic, especially because the intended use for breasts -- to feed babies -- is maligned. Kami said, "People no longer look at a breastfeeding woman and realize she is using her body in the way God intended her to."

Jessica S. agreed further, saying, "Breasts are NOT sexual organs as so many individuals will argue. Breasts are fatty tissue with milk ducts in them to feed the young our bodies produce .... Boobies feed babies!"

However, others disagreed, saying mothers should be more discreet while feeding their babies.

"Breasts are erogenous parts of the body and as such, elicit a sexual response when stimulated," Katie said. "Not to mention, breasts are sexual things in our culture. Whether or not it's right or wrong...it's true."

She continued, "
I do think breastfeeding needs to be normalized, but not in a "I can pull my boob out whenever I want because there's a CHILD TO FEED" sort of way. I think women can and should be discreet about breastfeeding, because whether we like it or not, breasts are already sexual body parts and should not be flaunted. But nursing discreetly, even without a cover, is totally possible."

Rebecca agreed, saying, "B
reasts are sexy. Of course I'm not going to teach that to my 7- and 3-year-old daughters because it's not applicable to them right now. But it doesn't make it untrue."
 

They and others commented that public breastfeeding should be a discreet activity, not one used to make a social statement with unnecessary nudity. But other readers said the decision to cover or not was up to the mother and no one else.

"
Breasts are sexual by nature, yes, and they are also tools by nature," said Darci. "I personally always tried to cover myself while nursing, whether with a shirt or a blanket, because I teach my kids any part of our bodies that we wear a swimsuit over should stay covered and private. But is it mine or anyone's place to instruct other women on how they should use their bodies? No. Is it my place to tell a person that what they're doing is 'disgusting' or 'rude?' No. I think smoking is disgusting and rude, but it's LEGAL and it's not my place to tell a smoker, 'You shouldn't do that here in public. It's disgusting.'"
 

Other readers saw a larger problem -- society's penchant for sexually objectifying women's bodies. "There is an undercurrent here that is even more disturbing," Amanda said. I could go on about feminism, body over-sexualization, and public shaming. But I think the biggest thing that makes me uncomfortable is that people are responding largely to both women based solely on their bodies, and not them as human beings. As in, what is seen of both women is merely 'her tits,' and not her humanity."

Jessica B. agreed with this disconnect between the body and the person behind it. "
It's sad that women's bodies are so often defined by the feelings that men get from them instead of the souls that reside in them."

When asked what can be done to fix these issues, the responses pointed largely to the normalization of breastfeeding, as well as calling attention to female objectification.


"
I feel like there aren't enough women out there who speak up for MOTHERS and advocate for MOTHERHOOD and what it entails," said Christi. "I was just talking about a similar topic with my mom and I asked her, 'Where are the celebrities who are standing up for mothers?' I just remembered that Alyssa Milano was just on Wendy Williams' show talking about breastfeeding. So there's one, I guess."
 

"There is so much needed to fix this that it can become disheartening at times," Jessica B. added. "Starting with our own children is definitely important. Using correct body terms will certainly help as well. Speaking up that it's okay for a women to cover while nursing and it's also okay not to. Teaching young children body autonomy. Putting an end to the "modest is the hottest" motto. Teaching young men that no matter how a woman is dressed, they alone are responsible for their own thoughts and actions."

Others said disturbed onlookers should simply avert their attention when something bothers them.
"I fed [my baby] once in public, last spring at the zoo. I got a few looks from people, but they quickly looked away when they realized what I was doing. Why can't everyone just do that?" said Beverly.

Amanda said, "
While I don't believe [breastfeeding is] disgusting, AT ALL, EVER, I also recognize that we are all operating on different tolerance, acceptance, and repugnance levels. Indeed, I am often required to look away from that which "disgusts" me in public. A person leaving their dog's crap on the sidewalk, for example. Or the person smearing mayonnaise all over their sandwich (shudder), to the child happily picking their nose and eating the boogers. Frankly, we are free to do what we will where we will, and especially when it comes to public breastfeeding, which is largely protected by law."
 

In the end, all readers agreed breastfeeding is a natural activity that need not be impeded by the discomfort of others.

"P
eople need to be educated about the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding, so that they don't judge anyone who breastfeeds whenever, wherever, and however she needs to," Katie said.

And regardless of differing opinions on whether mothers should nurse their babies in public, readers acknowledged a need for mutual civility and respect.

"We, as a general population, need to recognize that we're not all going to be on the same side of the fence on this, but that doesn't make it OK for us to bash each other," said Rebecca.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The blog post YOU are going to write.

I watched a compelling video on Monday, fully intending to have a blog post published about it by the end of the day.

Then, I deleted everything I wrote and started over on Tuesday.

Today -- Wednesday -- I deleted everything again. And here we are.

I have so many thoughts, but I'm having trouble organizing them without sounding ranty and long-winded. And I've got a lot going on this week (I know, excuses!).

SO. I'm enlisting your help.

Pretend you're walking down the street in Times Square. I'm in a cute blazer and heels, hanging out with a videographer next to a fancy news fan, and I stop you and ask you to watch this video:


You comply, because you're a decent person who still values journalism.

Afterward, I ask you this:

What social problems does this video reveal? And what can we do to fix it?

And don't just be like, "WE NEED FEMINISM!" or "PORN IS EVIL!" or "KYLO REN IS GOING TO TURN BACK TO THE LIGHT SIDE!*" because you know I'm not going to accept vapid answers like those. You must elaborate.

Watch the video and think about it what it's showing us. Tell me what it made you feel, and not just "good" or "bad."

I shall then take your responses and compile them into a beautiful news story/blog post.

You may leave them in the comments section here or on my Facebook pages.



*Kylo Ren does not make an appearance in this video. But he does make one here, and it's funny.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I love it when we're cruisin' together.

Remember how we just celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss at the end of last month? Well, a decade of marriage is a big deal, and we knew long ago we wanted to memorialize it with a big vacation somewhere exotic.

I still have never been to Hawaii, so originally, we thought we'd go there. But it turns out it's REALLY expensive to fly there, and then you have to plan for a hotel, food, car rental and activities. Basically, it was going to cost too much for us to go to Hawaii.

But you know what doesn't cost nearly as much but is just as exotic? A 3-night cruise to the Bahamas! And since we had gone on a Caribbean cruise three years ago, we knew we'd have a blast. So, we went ahead booked it, waaaaay back in September.

Well, last Wednesday, the time had finally come for this epic vacation, and I couldn't have been more ready to jet with my hunny! We hired my 19-year-old sister to stay with the kids, so we were confident they were in good hands the entire time we were gone.

We flew to Orlando, nearly missing our connection in Detroit due to the delayed flight out of Phoenix. I mean, we literally RAN 50 gates at the Detroit airport and narrowly missed the plane. My calves were burning like crazy, I had to pee so badly and I was dying of thirst by the time we got there. It was horrible.

That night, we got into Orlando around 8:30. We had pre-arranged our shuttle services and hotel with a company called Go Port Canaveral. Highly recommend this! It was so nice not to have to worry about if we'd be on time to our hotel, cruise port terminal or the airport.

We ate at this restaurant called Fish on Fire, just a short jaunt down the road from our hotel. It was kind of divey but also delicious. I got a seared ahi tuna sandwich with a side of hush puppies and enjoyed every bite.

The next morning, the Port Canaveral bus arrived and took us to our ship. The second I stepped on the Enchantment of the Seas, I felt like I was coming home! Haha. I seriously love cruises. Can't say enough good about them. And Royal Caribbean is awesome. It's more upscale (read: cleaner and nicer in general) than Carnival, but not as pricey as Disney.

On the top deck of Enchantment, just before departing

Before the ship left the port for the day, the onboard spa was offering tours. The tour was about 10 - 15 minutes long, and if you completed it, you got an entry to win some spa credit. There were a few prizes for $50 and $100 credit, and one prize of $200. I guess the odds were ever in my favor that day because I WON THE $200 CREDIT! I couldn't even believe it. I immediately booked a fancy seaweed wrap massage for the next day.

Dinner on the ship was as amazing as I remembered it. I love that every meal is gourmet quality and most importantly, prepared by someone other than me. HA! I had prime rib, New York strip steak and garlic tiger shrimp. But I think my favorite item was the sticky bread and butter pudding I ate for dessert on the last night. Holy wow!


Our room was on the same floor as Centrum, which was this fun hangout spot where the band played. It turned out to be really fun. I tried not to covet the white Yamaha baby grand every time we passed by.



Our ship stopped at Nassau, Bahamas on the first day. We had no plans but to walk around, see the sights and shop.


Most of the buildings there are painted in bright, fun colors. It really added to the tropical island aesthetic.


We enjoyed hanging out at this World War II memorial among the palm trees.


That night, dinner was formal dress. We got all fancy and enjoyed some steak cooked to perfection. I even sang a little karaoke, which is always fun. We also went to the dance club and realized how old we are. The US rugby team was on our ship, and they were CRAZY in the club! I heard they had a game in the Bahamas that day so they decided to take a cruise to get there. Smart!

Dress: Forever 21, here

The next day, we headed to Coco Cay, the cruise line's private island near Nassau. What a little tropical paradise!



We had booked a kayaking shore excursion beforehand. The weather was on-and-off stormy, but we were excited anyway. We love to kayak!

The kayaking tour started off pretty easy in the calm, shallow water. At one point, a giant ray swam right under our kayak! It was exhilarating.

A little bit later, the rain started to pick up. Our guide had us stop on a beach for a little while, but it continued to rain and a lot of the members of our tour looked miserable. So, we headed back to the kayak station a little early.

The trip back proved to be pretty difficult! The wind and rain had picked up quite a bit and we struggled to stay on course. Some people in our party were blown to shore and chose to drag their kayak down the shoreline instead of rowing back because it was too windy to even attempt going back out. Dill and I managed to survive. It was quite an adventure!

After we got back to the shore, we decided to wade out into the cove pictured above and see if we could find any fish. We had no trouble at all! Tropical fish of all sizes and colors swam freely around our legs, not scared of us in the least. I couldn't stop giggling at how funny it was to have all those fish around me.



At one point, I saw a "long thing" in the sand near my feet and asked Dill what it was. He told me it was just a stick, so I stepped on it without a thought. Turns out, it was another stingray! It  emerged from the sand and chased me for a little bit. I screamed so loudly I probably scared it. He turned around and swam the other way as onlookers laughed at my reaction.

We also enjoyed a (very expensive) coconut while on the beach. They looked so refreshing, we couldn't resist. It wasn't really worth the $9 it cost, but it made for a cute photo prop.


As always, it was hard to go back home once the trip was over. But it made me super-excited to start thinking about our next cruise. For our 15-year anniversary, we plan to take all our kids and maybe even try a Disney cruise that time! Only five years away!

I feel like I'm something of a cruise expert now, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Don't call it a comeback.

Happy new year!


On Monday, during our regular Family Home Evening, we each made three different goals for the new year.

Now, I know some people take issue with new year's resolutions, because, "Shouldn't you be trying to improve yourself all year?" and blah, blah, blahhdy-frickin'-blah. I happen to have no qualms with the concept of starting afresh and resetting my priorities at the beginning of a calendar year. Sorry/not sorry if you do.

So.

We made some goals last night. One related to physical fitness, one spiritually-focused, and one which would improve our life at home or at work. Carson says he will learn multiplication, try a rainbow roll (iffy, but I fully support him), and say his prayers every night; Audrey wants to be able to ride her bike to her friend's house, learn how to do math with positives AND negatives, and finish the Book of Mormon. Dillon is giving up sweets at work, exercising, also finishing the Book of Mormon, and he's planning to take me on 12 dates (oooh fun!).

As for me, it's important I share with you my third goal, since you will all need to hold me accountable. It is thus:

"Blog at least once a week."

See, when it comes to my work, I have a thriving piano/vocal studio, but I've basically neglected this here poor blog. And I've known for a while I needed to do something about that.

A few months ago, I considered just quitting the blog altogether. Thoughts of, "It's not branded right, I have no direction, I'm not consistent, I'm losing passion for it" played through my mind. I then thought long and hard about communication and writing, and how vital I believe they are to any happy life. I reflected on why I started this blog in the first place. Through all that introspection, I realized I need not to abandon my blog, but to revive it. And not by churning out trite fluff just to appease people, but by writing sincerely, from all four chambers of my heart.

So, pedal to the medal, no holds barred -- I'm back to blogging, folks. And this year, I'm not going to tip-toe around what I want to say. I'm not going to write a bunch of serious posts only to save them as drafts to be published ... never. Nope, in 2016, they're going up.

(I'm also going try using the Oxford comma, which was forbidden during college and my internship. I find that it adds clarity, makes phrases more readable, and is generally pretty awesome. See what I did there?)
I'm through with worrying about what other people think of me and my beliefs. I believe there is room in this world for dissonance and the expression of differing opinions. In fact, I believe it's a human right. I'm not here to placate people. I'm here to say what I need to say. You're free to come and go as you please, but I hope you'll stick around. After all is said and done, we can hug it out.

Alright, friends. Let's do this thing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A decade of marriage.

On this day ten years ago, I was running all over town, getting my hair and makeup done, completely thrilled I was about to lock it down forever with the man of my dreams. The only thing I was nervous about that day was that Dillon would die in a terrible car accident since he was driving his brother's stick-shift.

But, he arrived safe and sound. We went into the Mesa Temple as two separate people and came out as a family.


As far as Best Days of Jenna's Life go, December 30, 2005 tops the chart.

Some of the finer details of the day have since faded from my memory, but there are a few things I'll never forget.

Just before we were married, we were led to an empty room in the temple to wait for a bit. Our sealer (the man who married us) would soon be in to give us some counsel and direction about what would happen during the ceremony. But until he arrived, we sat together, hand in hand, unable to fully believe that it was REALLY HAPPENING! We whispered excitedly together, all smiles. I have never felt so thrilled in my life.

After we were officially married, our family came around the room to congratulate us one by one. One of the last people was my sister-in-law, Rebecca. She tearfully hugged me and said, "Now I finally have a sister!" I, too, broke down in tears. I realized then that marriage doesn't just change the bride and groom, but the whole family. Dillon's people became my people, and my people became his. It was a touching discovery.

As we walked about the Mesa Temple grounds to take some pictures, Dillon carried my heavy, long dress train. He smoothed it out over the ground so carefully for each photograph, and then faithfully picked it back up whenever it was time to walk again. I didn't know it then, but this simple act exemplified Dillon's devotion to taking care of me. Since December 30, 2005, he's been carrying my metaphorically heavy train -- encouraging me through college, soothing me when I felt oh-so-sick during pregnancy, caring for our babies and children at the end of every long day, and just generally picking up all the slack. I didn't need a bridesmaid then and I don't need one now -- Dillon is the one I turn to when life gets too heavy.


Our reception was beautiful. My family and some dear friends set up the reception hall, and all we had to do was show up that night. It took my breath away to see it so immaculately decorated with lit Christmas trees, pink roses and elegant lamps. I was so grateful to celebrate our special day in such a pretty space, and not to mention, with HUNDREDS of loved ones. I will never forget hugging each person as they came through the receiving line and thinking, "We are so loved!" My heart overflowed. To this day, I still remember who gave us most of our wedding gifts and fondly think of the givers whenever I use them. Some of those in attendance are no longer with us, and I am glad I have the memory of their presence on our wedding day.


Three-thousand six-hundred and fifty-two days ago, we were little seedlings just starting out in a vast, mature forest. We had no idea what life would hold for us. We didn't know about the precious children who would join our family, the tragic losses we'd experience and the great victories we'd share. We didn't know how much we would grow and learn. We were just excited to be together! And here we are today -- still a little green in the branches, still not as tall as some of the trees that surround us, but taller than we were and able to see more clearly than before. And we continue to move upward together, always reaching toward the sun despite the storms that threaten to uproot us. There's no one I'd rather grow up with than Dillon, and I'm grateful every day that we found each other.


Happy anniversary, Honey. I love you forever.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Footes.

The day before Audrey broke her arm and a week before Carson bashed his eye on a gate at school and had to get stitches, we took this picture for our Christmas card.

I really like my people, even if they are a bit clumsy.

Merry Christmas from the (broken, bruised and tattered) Foote clan! Here's to fewer injuries in 2016.


PS -- If you haven't watched the #ASaviorIsBorn video in my sidebar, now would be a great time. I absolutely love it!