A Weekend Recap (in Photos)

We went to Sonoma for the day this weekend and I made a mental note to bring my camera because I never take photos just because anymore—I used to always have my camera in hand and loved snapping photos of our adventures or just a lazy day at home on a Sunday.

I’d like to get back to blogging “just because.” Sometimes social media exhausts me and I’d like to recreate the joy it used to bring into my life. Also are hashtags still a thing? Anyway, I of course forgot to bring the camera but I did take more photos than usual and here they are with hardly any commentary:

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope this weekend brought you peace and sunshine and maybe a beer or two.

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Humidity and Lightning Bugs
Humidity and Lightning Bugs | Freckled Italian

I was at Costco the other day, looking at salami and prosciutto when a man walked by wearing Ralph Lauren cologne and I swear my entire morning stopped in its tracks because of the combination of that familiar fragrance combined with rotisserie chickens and whatever warehouse smell bulk grocery stores all have in common.

I stood there, transfixed and temporarily brought back to summers in Roanoke. Of living on Smith Mountain Lake, driving into town with my mom in her black Suburban, of buying what seemed like way too much food and wine and soda but always ended up being just the right amount, because friends were always filtering in and out of our house every day in June and July, and because (most importantly), we really only seem to be friends with people who can eat.

It’s so much more than the house, though.

I’ve been missing summer in the south lately--that deep, humid heat that settles into your bones and gives your hair texture you didn’t know it had. The way that long after the sun goes down and the fireflies come out it’s still 85 degrees and sticky. Summer in the south is big and magical for more than just the humidity and the lightning bugs.

It’s s’mores and cheap beer around a fire pit; it’s bug spray and sunscreen residue on your skin and the shocking splash from a backyard pool or even just a sprinkler to run through as it cools you down and rinses the watermelon juice from your wrists. It’s a late-night Blizzard from Dairy Queen with friends, and pup cups for the dogs who played all day together in the yard.

It’s the way I think of my late friend Zach and cry every time I hear “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” It’s fireworks and sparklers and hot dogs on a grill. It’s the way a leather couch feels on your bare legs as you slide in to watch a movie after a day outside in the sun. The deep, almost overwhelming greenness of the forest as I-81N opens up suddenly to mountains on the way from Charlotte to Roanoke.

When I was working on my first cookbook I would come home after an early morning rowing workout and pour cold brew over ice, opening the back door to the yard as Ender wiggled through my legs to roll around in the grass. I’d sit there with bare feet, in leggings and a sweaty tank top with my coffee and my laptop, under the shade of an oversized umbrella, taking in the morning before that North Carolina heat crept in for the day.

But now I’m here, in what feels like a different world sometimes. Sleeping with open windows as the chilly eucalyptus-scented Bay Area air cools our house down every night. Wearing a sweater every morning, working almost only through nap-time, putting together a 3PM toddler snack--sitting at our kitchen table with an afternoon cup of tea, planning our next trip to the coast to pick strawberries by the ocean as our daughter stacks her blocks and moves her stuffed animals from their woven basket to my grandmother’s light blue armchair. So happy to be where we are, and so sad to be so far away from other places. On days like this I somehow feel homesick and content and melancholy and joyful all at once.

Life is an incredible tangle of feelings and experiences and I’m so grateful for each and every one of them.

But I could use a drive down a country road.

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My Invisalign Experience (So Far)

Every other Friday, I get to pop in new Invisalign trays and it feels pretty much like Christmas morning. I’ve talked about my jaw pain on the blog before but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m halfway done with an Invisalign treatment! I’ve had TMJ issues for about 6 years now and when we lived in Charlotte I saw an amazing physical therapist who almost completely eliminated my pain with massage, stretching, and some dry needling. After a few years it started to come back and I mentioned it to my new dentist here in California. She told me that she’s had a few patients who tried out Invisalign, and 3 out of 5 of them had less jaw pain by the end of their regimen. My insurance covered a lot of the treatment, so I decided to give it a go.

So far I feel like my pain has subsided significantly—I still probably need to get back to PT or get the monthly neck and shoulder massages my therapist had recommended but I never ended up getting, but overall I’m really excited about how much improvement I’ve seen just from four months of Invisalign. I briefly had braces in high school so my teeth were pretty straight, but I did have a couple little cosmetic things that have also been a really nice secondary benefit to the TMJ relief.

I got a few requests from people on Instagram asking me to share about my experience in a blog post, so I asked for specific questions that I could answer. Most of the questions I got were something to the effect of the ones I’ve included below, so I’ll go ahead and get to them now!

How long did it take for you to speak normally? Or was it never an issue?

I definitely felt like I had a lisp for a few weeks. I was still teaching Pure Barre at the time and the day after I got my first aligners I had to get on the mic for two back-to-back Saturday morning classes. Everyone said they couldn’t tell, but I kind of think they were just being nice—I really felt like I sounded unlike myself. But I got used to it and now you can’t even tell!

On a similar note, it was so weird having something in my mouth constantly, and the inside of my lips even got a little irritated. After a few days that got better, but I noticed that every time I put in new trays the irritation would come back. Now that I’m well into the treatment that’s not an issue anymore, but it was something that surprised me so I thought I would include it!

How long have you had Invisalign?

Four months! I started in January.

How long does it take? Is it just retainers or brackets on your teeth too?

I think this depends on your goals and how your teeth are currently—I only have to wear mine for 10 months but I’ve heard of some people having them for a lot longer. Because I’m doing it for TMJ and not necessarily to straighten my teeth, my dentist is actually considering letting me finish up about six weeks early, because the final 3 trays/aligners are apparently a bit more aggressive about “pulling” your teeth in, and she doesn’t want my bite to get too tight and possibly irritate my jaw.

Some people just have the trays/aligners/”retainers,” but I think most people get little brackets on their teeth. I have 8 or 9! They’re called “attachments” and they’re just enamel-colored bumps made of dental bonding that line up with the Invisalign trays. If you look closely in the above photo to the left you can see them on me. They really bummed me out at first because I thought they were really noticeable and I could feel them when the trays weren’t in, but I got used to them really fast. (I will be happy to see them go, though.)

What is the cost, pain, maintenance?

I think the price varies (a quick Google search says the average rate is between $3,500 and $8,000). My dentist charged $5,000 and our insurance covered more than half of it, which is the only reason I decided to do it.

The pain is not too bad. Your teeth definitely feel tight and sore the first few days of a new tray, but by the end of the two weeks you barely even feel a thing.

You’re supposed to wear them for 22 hours a day, which I think is aggressive, but basically you take them out to eat and then you’re supposed to pop them right back in. If I drink water or tea or even coffee sometimes I’ll keep them in even though that’s probably gross, but I feel like I have an invisible clock going every time I take them out so I try to keep them in as much as possible. You brush them and you can also get these cleaning crystals for them but I’ve only used them once or twice. Two weeks per tray is not very long, although they do get a little raunchy by the end of that time.

Once you’re done with your plan, they make a retainer for you based on the final trays and then you just wear those at night. If you have the aligners, they remove those so your teeth are smooth again. I’m excited to be done but I’m also really glad I did it!

Have you done Invisalign? What was your experience like? If you have more questions let me know, I’d be happy to try to answer them!

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