Smile Tips for All Parts of Life from a Mom, Wife, and Dentist

November 29, 2016

Winter Metallics | Holiday Gift Guide

The festive holiday season is a perfect time to sport a little bling bling! I'm so excited about our upcoming winter vacation and just bought silver nail polish to pick up the accents on my new snow boots. These some and other shiny finds below:

Winter Metallics: Holiday Gift Guide

1. Puffer Coat. This silver down jacket by Andrew Marc is super light and super stylish. It's detailed with zip pockets, a velvet lined collar, and removable hood. Get more followers today with this sporty fleece lined coat! $79

2. Bearpaw Snow Boots. These metallic suede and sheepskin boots will keep your toes warm all winter long. The round toe bed is a comfort plus. Also available in bronze. $38

3. Hoop Earrings. These super durable hoops will complement your entire wardrobe. They are eco-friendly and hypoallergenic. Get this set of three for $9.99

4. Holiday Pillows. This pair of fun reindeer detailed throw pillows will invite guests to sit down and relax. The light cotton blend is machine washable too! $13.80

5. OPI Nail Lacquer. This silver sparkle nail color will add spice to everything nice. $10

November 26, 2016

Applying to College

Thanksgiving dinner in Philly was a great time to catch up with my younger cousins. I just love hearing about their high school drama. I've always found fascinating the energy and passion of high school romance, sports, and friendships. I even wrote a book on the genre. One cousin is getting ready to apply to college and had lots of questions. It feels like ages ago that I was filling out college applications and I'm sure the process is more competitive than ever but I agree with my parents' timeless proposition that the entire high school journey is the prelude and basis of a successful college application. Everything you've done during your high school years in many ways has helped you develop into a potential college candidate and the application is essentially a magic highlighter to showcase your many talents and strengths. Below are some suggestions that I hope can help guide you along the exciting yet often grueling passage.

Applying to College

1. Make a List. My super organized father has always advocated that my sisters and I start by making a list when it comes to finalizing a big decision. From middle school, I knew that I wanted to be a Princeton Tiger and to be honest my initial reason was quite superficial. It was where Sandra, the eldest child on The Cosby Show went to college but as I got older and learned more about the school, I fell in love with the campus and became intrigued by its legacy. However, Princeton was one of many schools to which I applied and compiling a tally or better yet a spreadsheet of the schools that you are considering is a great way to thoroughly research them and find the best match. It helps to prioritize your schools based on academic criteria, areas of study, social climate, location, cost, and other applicable categories. As you narrow down the list, try sorting each college or university into one of the following groups:

  • Safe Bets. In this column should be those schools that you feel match your profile in terms of academic performance and ideal program of study. Typically, your guidance counselor will suggest a few schools that will fall into this slot but U.S. News and World Reports is a wonderful resource to get a screenshot of what different schools are looking for in an ideal candidate. 
  • Reach Schools. These colleges may have academic performance averages a bit higher than yours but that doesn't mean you should rule them out entirely. If a particular school offers an area of study that interests you, then why not contact the admission office and find out more about the student body and campus climate? Most schools are looking for good candidates across a broad range of experiences and backgrounds and perhaps your B in Geometry isn't exactly a deal breaker for their comparative literature program.    
  • Curve Balls. Here lies the school that you may not have even considered if your mother's best friend or your swim coach hadn't stopped talking about it. When I was in high school, my mother suggested that a certain college's high male to female ratio would increase my chance in finding a husband. I ended up finding love elsewhere but I'm so glad that I looked into a diverse range of schools.   
Remember, your goal is not to just get accepted but to actually enroll, graduate, and live happily ever after. So, it's important to have some options.

2. College Tour. Visiting colleges can be a lot of fun! Some schools may host large scale programs for applicants and others may offer small group tours. Perhaps, you know a current student and can organize a trip on your own. Growing up in Philadelphia, I often drove by plenty of colleges but it wasn't until I was actually considering where I wanted to spend the next four years that I looked closely at the buildings, student body sizes, and campus environments. Do you want to go to school in a big city or in a small town away from the hustle bustle? Do you want to go to a large university with a huge athletic program or a smaller populated technical college? Touring the campus, talking to staff and students, and watching the action can help you decide whether you want to attend a large research university or a quaint liberal arts college.

3. Test Scores. Academic performance is always going to be a factor in your candidacy. Most schools will require your high school transcripts and standardized test scores. Although standardized tests have been shown to demonstrate bias and do not highlight your full potential, they are part of the puzzle in college admissions. The SAT has changed a few times since I sat for it many years ago, but I recommend an organized test prep. Whether it's a Kaplan guide book, a course offered by your church, or a private tutor, find a study system that works for you. The College Board website is a good starting point to give you the latest information.

4. Supplemental Information. Many schools may give you an opportunity to share more details about yourself and regardless of your test scores, this is an area to really show off your strengths. Maybe you spent your summer protesting in favor of one of your passions. Maybe you launched a gofundme project to finance a quilt weaving company for teens at your community club. Maybe you like to draw and crafted a collection of comic books. Perhaps, your after school job and other family responsibilities didn't allow a lot of time for extracurricular activities. It's your application and this is the place to showcase not just your talents and passions but also your ability to overcome challenges.  

5. Letters of Recommendation. Most colleges will request letters from members of faculty. As your advocates, your teachers are able to give testimonies of your student character. These letters are very important tools for students. I strongly encourage applicants to consider a faculty member who has also worked with you in an extracurricular capacity. Perhaps, your debate team coach or gymnastics trainer is also your physics teacher. Take your time and choose a teacher who knows you well. You want that letter of recommendation not only to be favorable but to be an unwavering endorsement of your potential to contribute to a college campus.

6. Personal Statement. This was my favorite part of the college application. Perhaps it's because I've always liked to write but I felt like my personal essay was something that I could control in a huge pile of what often seemed like unpredictable outcomes. Sometimes the valedictorian doesn't get accepted to Stanford and the football captain isn't offered a full scholarship to the state college. The reality is that college acceptance is based on several variables so you want to maximize your assets in the process. If you're not a strong writer, ask someone to help you with your statement. An older sibling or cousin can be a gift in the process. The personal statement is also a chance for you to reflect on your many experiences and tell the schools why you actually want to join their community. It seems straightforward but take your time, outline your thoughts, and write several drafts until you're confident about your response.

7. Interviews. My nerves were definitely on edge during college interviews. I can still recall some of them quite vividly. I remember exactly what I wore to my Princeton interview and that I knew nothing about urology, which was the specialty in which my interviewer practiced. I also remember that I smiled when he referred to Princeton as "Tigertown" and made me that much more excited about such a magical place. My advice is to be yourself at the interview. Relax, smile, and have fun! The interview typically comes at a time when you've already done most of your college research. So, just sit back and have a good conversation.

8. Financial Aid. Dare I say the words student loans? Many schools will offer you a financial aid package based on your family's income and other factors influencing their ability to contribute to your college education. Often when your family is unable to meet the costs of tuition, some schools may waive your family contribution entirely or help you find other means to do so. This can be in the form of campus jobs, scholarships and student loans, which may be federal or private. It's no secret that educational loans are huge burdens and as someone who has paid off a quarter of a million dollars in student debt, I strongly encourage you to exhaust every resource possible to secure scholarships. Start with a Google search, visit your college guidance counselor, and take the time to read through those volumes of scholarship guides!

When I talk to high school students about college, many are often intimidated by the length of college applications or even the fees associated with their submission. I remember the same being the case with many of my high school classmates. Some were fearful to even ask schools for fee waivers and stunned to find out after the fact that they were eligible. Many schools have funds allocated for such a cause. Remember, you've already done the hard work of four years of high school, tons of extracurricular activities, and building and bonding with your community. The application is just a few pieces of paper but like origami, if you make each fold meaningful, then you'll have a brilliant piece of art to display.

Have you started compiling your college list yet?

November 24, 2016

Black Friday Sale | BrightWhites Fun Coloring and Activity Book

BrightWhites Fun Coloring and Activity Book 

  • 10 different Coloring Pages 
  • Connect the Dots
  • Word Search
  • Fun Maze 
  • Tooth Sketch 
  • Fill in the Blanks 

Meet the BrightWhites in this BrightWhites Fun Coloring and Activity Book featuring Max the Molar, Penny the Premolar, Cutter the Canine, Izzy the Incisor and Billy the Bacteria Bully! Enjoy hours of fun while learning about the importance of good oral health. Illustrations by JJ Rudisill. Book measures approximately 8.5" x 11" and includes 24 pages. Great gift for children ages 3+ and fun for the whole family!

Originally $5.99 click here to save 15% with CODE: NGUGR83X

November 21, 2016

Fun Things for Kids to do in Philly | The Museum of Art

Yesterday, we made a last minute decision to travel to Philly for dinner with family. My husband and I were both working this weekend and just the idea of the trip was tough, but high winds blew us up 95 North at record speed and even gave us just enough time to take a few pictures around the Museum of Art before the sun had set.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, illuminated by big events and festive gatherings, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a celebratory and historic landmark. There are provocative galleries as well as educational exhibits for all ages and admission ranges. Whether it's a school trip, a family tour, or social meet up, the museum is a treasure for the entire community.
Coat: Esprit (old) | Boots: H&M | Tote: Olivia and Joy 

Of course, we had to snap a pic with Rocky Balboa, who famously climbed the museum steps in his many films. You can tell our little guy wasn't too excited about the wind shield factor. Luckily, I had some goodies nestled in my Olivia and Joy tote, which is the perfect bag for a day trip (read more about the favorite dual handle zip tote and see it in pink). Our visit to Philly was too short and right after dessert, we were back on the road to DC. Next year, maybe we can stay the week and see the Art Museum's Holiday Tree Lighting!

November 19, 2016

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | Holiday Gift Guide

Kids Holiday Gift Guide
Last night, as soon as I arrived home from work, my three-year-old asked me to build the firetruck from his 900+ piece Lego City Fire Station. I hadn't even taken off my coat before he started chanting, "Come on Mom! Build the firetruck!" He had the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas and persisted even after I suggested a puzzle instead. I had no choice but to oblige but as I scanned the manual looking for a starter piece, I was relieved to read that this Lego item is recommended for kids ages 6-12. As the holidays approach, I'm sure many of you are trying to figure out what to put on your gift lists. Since my little guy is super passionate about everything with wheels and engines, here are some vehicles we're circling for Black Friday sales:

1. Classic Train Set. My grandfather was a porter for the US Railroad so trains are also very dear to my heart. Your kids will love this 3 car set because it has actual headlights, puffs smoke, and produces realistic sounds! All Aboard! $22.95

2. NASCAR Race Car. The replica Goodyear tires aren't the only thing that make this Dale Earnhardt Jr. classic a collectible. It's casted from an official NASCAR die! $7.44

3. Red 1955 Chevy Pick-Up. A history lesson and a toy in one! This fun collectible toy truck has doors that open and a fun pull back to drive it forward. $10.98

4. Pottery Barn Planked Panels. A Wish List item for the whole family, these rustic pieces bring character and charm to your home. Unfortunately, the train panels are not available but the planked plane designs are great for playrooms or living spaces. $99/299 (save 20% this weekend with code: FRIENDS).

5. Disney Fire & Rescue Plane. Just like the movie, the plane toys are ready for action and built to perform fun flying tricks and maneuvers. The leadbottom and yellow wing detail will get the attention of everyone in the room! $5.99

6. Dream Factory Trucks Tractors Cars Comforter Set. This 5 piece set is full of all the vehicles found on farm roads, city streets and in blue skies. Machine washable, the set can be mixed with infinite combinations of matching room decor. $49.19

What toys are you eyeing for your kiddo's stocking?

November 17, 2016

Toddler Oral Care

Parents are always asking for suggestions to get their young children to brush their teeth. There's no secret to developing a good habit. It's all about patience, repetition, and positive reinforcement. Get started today with my Toddler Oral Care Guide!

November 15, 2016

Fall Family Photo Shoot

We try to take our family photo just after the first leaves start to fall. This year the weather has been unseasonably warm and even brought on an extended episode of colds in our house. Luckily, just before Halloween, we were able to take advantage of a perfect afternoon on a trail along the Potomac River. Photography by @ikan.leon.rda on Instagram (I threw in a few style details for fun!)

Fall Family Photo Shoot
Shoes (left to right): Fred Perry | Eddie Bauer (similar) | Forever 21

Sweaters (left to right): French Connection (similar) | Crazy 8 (BOGO + free shipping!) | H&M (similar)

These two! I just can't believe how fast our little guy is growing up! 

Oh, but that smile never gets old and I can't get enough of it!

This Halloween candy pale was the best prop to keep him entertained between shots (and yes, it was filled with a few treats:-)

The Mt. Vernon trail in Alexandria is perfect for family walks and a great getaway from the busy DC hustle bustle.

Our schedules may keep us on the go but we cherish our family time and these moments say it all!

November 13, 2016

A Mommy Collaboration | Building Your Brand

This weekend we had a fantastic opportunity to promote our BrightWhites brand! I'm so lucky to have as one of my mentors, the woman behind the stylish baby and mommy brand Bambiniware. I'm even more fortunate that she invited BrightWhites to help sponsor her Mommy + Me Pop-Up Shop at WestElmDC. As the new kid on the block in the lifestyle branding game, I'm really learning this thing as I go. Everything from curating good content to promoting my work on social media has been learned on a steep curve.

The Pop-Up Shop was a great time on so many levels especially because it included a pop-up playdate with train sets and other goodies. It also gave us a chance to personally connect with other families and most importantly get feedback on our Children's Books. When we first started BrightWhites, it was just an idea to promote oral care to growing families and as we prepare to launch the first BrightWhites storybook, we're motivated to keep laying down the tracks toward success. Full steam ahead!  

November 11, 2016

Chewing Trident Sugar Free Gum Reduces Cavity Risk

Happy Friday! In case you haven't heard, clinical studies show that chewing Trident sugar free gum for 20 minutes after meals reduces cavity risk. Chewing sugar free gum increases salivation and saliva helps to keep teeth healthy. A neutralizer in the mouth, saliva maintains a pH level of 7.4. This slightly alkaline value contributes to saliva's ability to remineralize tooth structure and fight cavity causing bacteria. Drinking fluoridated water throughout the day also aids in keeping a healthy environment inside the mouth. For optimal oral health it is recommended to brush, floss, rinse and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.

November 10, 2016

Applying to Dental School

Applying to Dental School

Once I made the decision to take the leap and actually make a career change from the music industry to dental medicine, I had to first locate my finish line (read more about my steps to a successful career change). I knew my end game was to practice family dentistry but my starting point was an undergraduate Princeton degree with just a couple years of working experience in a field completely unrelated to medicine. So, I had to essentially design my own path into healthcare and then find my way back home to general dentistry. Working backwards to devise a plan was a little tricky but in the end and along the way proved to benefit me as it gave me these very clear challenges to complete on a track that ended up being uniquely my own. Here are my checkpoints:

1. Pre-Medical Studies. I'm sure things have changed a bit since I applied to school, but most dental schools generally require fulfillment of the basic pre-medical or pre-health curriculum that includes two semesters with laboratories in the following subjects: Biology, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics. Additionally, many students may elect to pursue advanced academic work in a particular discipline. However, because I didn't even consider a career in healthcare until two years after graduating from college, I had to essentially go back to college to pursue this coursework. A mentor advised me to apply to the nearby Bryn Mawr Postbaccalaureate Pre-Medical Program. Although, you can complete these pre-med college courses at your own pace, I strongly recommend a structured pre-med program to help keep you motivated and on good pace to reach your goal.      

2. Medical Research. A great way to gain experience in healthcare is to work in medical research. There are countless opportunities at large research institutions and hospitals to interact with providers in both clinical and laboratory settings. My research at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania Department of Otorhinolaryngology introduced me to specialists in ear, nose, and throat medicine as well as oral maxillofacial surgeons and neurologists. I had a super cool chance to work on a study that followed smell and taste function in patients with degenerative diseases including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and the best part was my research was ultimately published in the Annals of Nuerology. Working alongside other aspiring healthcare professional students gave me lots of insight on how to prepare for the application process to dental school. Look around campus and inquire about positions in lab research. One may just be your gateway into a degree program.  

3. Shadowing. Ask your dentist if you can watch him in action! What exactly does a dentist do? Find out! Working, volunteering, or interning at a dental office can introduce applicants to the extensive variety of procedures, materials, and the general culture of a dental setting. I shadowed my family dentist as well as my oral surgeon which were great opportunities to compare the two very different areas of dentistry with regards to anesthesia, office pace, and training. Shadowing also gives a future dentist a chance to pick the brain of a seasoned provider. Find out what to expect in dental school as well as practice. Ask him to outline his dentistry pros and cons and how he maintains a good work life balance. I strongly encourage aspiring dentists to learn as much as possible about the profession before the hustle and bustle of day and night studying required of dental school commences.

4. The Dental Admissions Test. In addition to testing in the natural sciences, math, and reading comprehension, the DAT also examines spatial perceptual ability. That's right! There's a lot of art work, waxing tooth structures, and design preparation in dentistry so your ability to visualize and understand the spacial relationships among objects is essential. Don't worry, there are several tutorials to help you get ready for this part of the test. Visit the website of the American Student Dental Association to find out what to expect from the complete exam and how to best prepare for your test date. Every student has to figure out his own learning style. There are volumes of old exams, practice tests, flashcards, and computer programs to help you succeed. Be sure to exhaust as many resources as possible to do so.

5. The Application Process. Submitting your dental school application can be stressful but it is also a time to really highlight yourself as a great candidate. Test scores, grades, honors, experiences, and recommendations are all pieces of the pie. The campus interview is also an important part of the process. Meeting with administrators, faculty and students allows future students to ask questions to find the best fitting dental program. The geographic setting of the school, design of the student clinics, and even the size of the campus can impact your student experience. Choosing dentistry was the tough decision but finding your dental home will be based on navigation of your own design and strategy. Be confident, be persistent, and best of luck with each and every step of the way!  

November 4, 2016

Pretty in Pink | Things to Like

Ok, I've hinted at this before and today because it's Friday, I'm saying it loud and proud, "I'm an 80's kid!" I grew up without cell phones and email. I actually had to go check books out at the library and look facts up in hard copy encyclopedias. I didn't start shopping online until I was out of college. Even though we didn't have the World Wide Web, the 80's were pretty cool when it came to fashion. Big hair, fluorescents, and gummy bracelets were in style. If you want to see 80's style at it's best, rent the John Hughes love flick Pretty in Pink. It's one of my all time favorite movies and the amazing soundtrack will melt your heart!

Pretty in Pink

Now that we've set the mood, here are some cool modern finds to look Pretty in Pink:

1. Olivia and Joy Zip Zoom Dual Handle Tote. I have this bag in green and it's perfect for work or running around with my little guy. The many compartments are great for stashing toys, snacks, and everything else! $44.99

2. H&M Pink and Gold Glittered Wristwatch. Just the right accent for a movie date or office party, this super cute watch is an unequivocal flirty accessory. $17.99

3. Old Navy Hi-Low Textured Sweater. The color is Pink a Boo, need I say more? Oh, it's on sale too! $14

4. Old Navy Faux-Leather Wristlet. Free up your pockets and your hands with this cute pouch! $8

November 3, 2016

3 Fun Things to do in Amsterdam


Amsterdam was an awesome weekend trip for us when we were living in Germany! The Dutch capital is the home of notable artists and headquarters of some of the world's largest companies. It's also a center of cultural diversity and centered around 100 km of canals. This list of attractions is also wide and long but here are three fun things to do if you make the trip.

Van Gogh

1. The Van Gogh Museum. The many still life and self-portraits of the famous Post-Impressionalist painter will move you to inspiration. Considered a failure by many in his lifetime of only 37 years, Vincent Van Gogh created masterpieces that will have any audience emotionally seized by his deep concept of color.

2. The Singel Canal. The center canal of the spectacular design of concentric waterways that characterize Amsterdam, the Singel Canal is lined by beautifully decorated houses. Also a popular site for adult entertainment, the homes with red-lit windows clearly signify the famous The Red-Light district. Whether it's enjoying Indonesian cuisine or admiring the historic Dutch architecture, the Singel Canal is a must see.

3. The Heineken Experience. Beer lovers and historians alike will enjoy touring this original brewing site for the popular Dutch pilsner. The super fun lessons in beer manufacturing include a walk through the company's history, composition of ingredients, recommended pouring technique, and sampling. The tour also includes high tech visual reviews of how the Heineken brand has grown into a household name through advertising in film, television, and print. Amsterdam is a place of rich culture and global significance. The scenes of tulips that line the city's entrance will draw you in and its golden legacies will make sure you return.  

November 1, 2016

MAC Solutions for Work Day Eye Glam

MAC Eye Makeup

Makeup doesn't usually stay on long in the Dental Clinic. The safety requirement of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, and glasses makes it difficult to maintain a matte lip or a rouged cheek. For this reason, I try to maximize my eye glam. MAC Cosmetics has great products that keep my eye makeup in place even through difficult extractions and tricky root canals.

Here are the three products I use for my five minute eye application (my alarm wakes me up at 5:45 am, so that's all I'm willing to sacrifice for a 10 hour work day):

1. Pro Longwear Paint Pot. I love this blendable cream shadow in the color Groundwork. It's super long lasting and dries quickly to a vibrant finish. Worn alone or as a primer, I apply it underneath my shadow and I just love that it doesn't streak or crease! $22

2. Eye Shadow. All the MAC powder shadows are highly pigemented, apply evenly, and blend brilliantly! My work pallete includes Ricepaper, Twinks, and All that Glitters. $16, refill for $6.

3. Pro Longwear Fluidline. This gel eye liner is brushed on for a smooth look that sets for a smudge proof day. Blacktrack glides easily from day to night. $17

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