Adventures in Potty Training

You all knew this was coming. And really, so did I. But I think what I have to say may baffle, shock, even amaze you. So here it is – I do not really care when Clara potty trains. But before you clutch your pearls, know this: we have been solely at home. Clara has not gone to daycare a day in her life. We are lucky enough to have two wonderful people (Grandma and Auntie) who come over during the week and watch her until nap time. So as a result, any urgency with potty training has been shelved. But alas, I know once she does finally enroll in preschool or go to daycare, potty training and toilet use are ubiquitous. I know this needs to happen at some point, but my person laissez-faire parenting style has gotten me this far. Why change now? Homegirl will participate when she’s ready yeah?

First of all, we definitely have a potty-dancer on our hands. SHE KNOWS when she has to go and dances excitedly to show it. Running in place, clutching herself ala Michael Jackson – her body is letting her know. Her brain is the asshole in this equation, making her exclaim, “NO!” very loudly when we tell her to sit on the toilet.

We have tried sitting with her. Taking her into the bathroom with us, or her sister when we go. We reward her when she tries, verbally and with an m&m or two. But it is just not clicking. And I am not frustrated, more perplexed. What is going to be the thing that makes it come together?

One method we have recently introduced is Pinky Bear! This kit includes an interactive board book called “Potty Train with Pinky Bear”, and of course the plush Pinky Bear who is designed with a little front pouch to hold special surprises.

Here’s how we did it: We read the book to Clara while she sat on the potty, talked about Pinky Bear with her and when she was finished – we brought them together. Video disclaimer: kindly ignore our 90’s Olive Garden wall paper and my gaggy, overly excited voice. I can’t help it.

So far, we’ve had pretty decent success with Pinky Bear. Clara gets excited to read the book and see what Pinky has in store for her if she sits on the potty. And while we have not had an abundance of successful potty sessions, at least she is trying!

Pinky Bear was sent to me for review and can be purchased on Amazon here! Also worth noting – Potty Train with Pinky Bear has won the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval and a Mom’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence.

I will keep you all updated on our success, as I am sure you thrilled about. If you have any potty training tips or wisdom, I am all ears!

Summer Favorites 2021

Ok so it’s August.

How on earth did this happen? January through May is like one endless blob of time and the months do not matter because nothing is happening and all we do is sit in front of our $40 happy lights from Costco. Then it’s June and we blink and it’s the 4th of July and there is a fire ban so we buy our kids a pack of sparklers and pop-its and are patriotic for exactly 24 hours. Then August blazes by and all of the sudden we’re getting excited about pumpkin patches again. Then it’s New Years Eve. It’s madness it is.

I love summer. Revel in it. I owe everyone a summer re-cap really. We have gone on a few little family jaunts and the lessons learned are bountiful. If these lessons had titles, they would go something like, “Cocomelon and You”. And, “So What if She Doesn’t Fit in the Pack and Play?” Sure we’ve had our struggles, but each moment has been so much fun – thank you vaccine!

A few newly discovered items have come ’round this summer . And here they are!

Kyte Living Pajamas & Toddler Twirl Dress

The world’s softest baby pajamas are also available in adult things! This blush pink pajama set is trimmed in cloud and made in their signature bamboo blend fabric. I may never take these off. Seriously the most comfortable set of pajamas I own.

This toddler twirl dress in the shade sunset has been a summer staple for Clara. The fit is absolutely perfect and the drape of the skirt makes it totally perfect for twirling. We are in love!

Scünci Bow Tie Elastics

Thanks to my buddy Renata for pointing these out at Ulta! These are great for thin hair, no damage and adorable. They do stretch out very slightly over time, but only after LOTS of use and who cares at $4 a set?

Revy Skincare

The Revy skincare system has been a huge hit with our 10-yr old. She LOVES having “her own skincare regiment” and this one is simple to use and amazing for her sensitive skin! At 10 years old, we are still in the years of not being psyched about personal hygiene, yet the hormones are ramping up. These products have kept her skin clear, healthy and nourished. Revy only uses the cleanest of ingredients in their products, and all are plant-based. With free US shipping on orders, we are such fans!

Vital Proteins Collagen and Beauty Gummies

YOU GUYS. These friggen’ little gummies actually work! I have been taking them for about a month now and holy smokes – my nails have been growing SO fast and are very thick. Also, NO JOKE my hair has grown significantly more in the last month. I am stunned. I have even gotten compliments that my skin looks better! I am a believer in these things and will continue to buy them. Also sidenote – I only take 2 of the purple collagen gummies per day rather than the recommended 4.

DSMD Beauty Sponge and Case

This has easily become my new favorite beauty sponge. They come in 5 different colors, are SUPER soft and bouncy and are on sale right now for only $6 each! However I might be more obsessed with the cases – they protect your sponge for travel and are made of a silicone material that is super soft. No more dirty beauty sponge floating around in MY makeup bag, thank you! This brand is owned by Amanda Effiom, a Nigerian beauty blogger (check out her insta) and hello – check out the messaging on the case. Absolute perfection!

Papaya Reusable Paper Towels

If you have not tried one of these MAGICAL dish rags…sorry but you need one. Or several. Whoever invented these is a genius. They absorb 20 times their weight in liquid AND one cloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels. And they are lemon print. I MEAN — GTFO. This adorable set comes with 2 cloths and a little hanger. I am in LOVE.

Sephora Vacay All Day Set

This set contains 7 items and 3 are full-sized. I was in the market for a new face sunscreen and the Dr. Brandt version in this set retails for $65 on it’s own!

The other products in this set are super impressive. A full sized mascara and Nars lipgloss? Uh yes please.

The smaller sized items are also great, especially the Milk Makeup cream blush!

Alba Soothing Sunscreen

And speaking of sunscreen, allow me to introduce you to a new favorite! This stuff is absolutely wonderful. It sinks nicely into the skin, has SPF 45, smells like lavender AND is all-natural. Hat tip to my good buddy Anna for bringing this into my life.

Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Moisturizer in Lime Coolada

YOU GUYS. Buy this in bulk. This body lotion smells like heaven on earth, both limey and tropical. It is the perfect treat for your skin after being in the sun!

L’Oreal Infallible Lip Gloss in 135 – Posy

This bright fuchsia lipgloss features a beautiful blue translucent shift and subtle sparke that is gorgeous when it catches the light. The blue undertone and shift make teeth look white but be warned, this only looks good with a bit of a tan (I recommend fake). It is also a bit sticky, but I find the texture does keep it a bit “glossier”. This is another tribute to lovely Anna who wore this gloss in Palm Springs and made me a believer.

Wet’n’Wild Lipstick in Pink Ice

I grabbed this .98 cent lipstick a few weeks ago and have been reaching for it nonstop. If you cannot already tell, I have been digging the bright pinks as of late, and this little powerhouse delivers on all fronts. It is a true frost, and if you have not tried the good ol’ Wet’n’Wild lipstick formula – do yourself a favor and grab a couple. I especially like the $1.99 formuals.

Milkshake Leave-In Conditioner

Ok so this is one of the best leave-ins I have tried. And not just because it smells like COOKIES (yes it does), but because my hair is looking vastly better after using it. I am obsessed with this and want to try more products from the line. ALSO – I bought this at a local salon but just discovered it is on Amazon!

8 Greens Original and Skin Drink Mixes

Thanks to my Aunt Sandi for introducing these amazing drink mixes into my life. And let me start by saying that I am a Crystal Light girl. A Diet Coke gal. A Fresca fan. I do not like pressed juices, kombucha, kefir, green smoothies – basically anything good for me. It was a problem. That is until I tried these! These have allll the greens you need and are packed with vitamins. But the best part is that they taste great – lemon +lime and slightly fizzy. I had been experiencing some issues with my blood (low B12, white blood cell count, etc.) and I really think these helped my levels normalize.

Alright guys, that is it for today. Stay tuned for a lengthy vacation post soon!

Nobody Warned Me

*Disclaimer: This is a brain-dump post. I am not an expert and do not know what I am doing most of the time. Please take that into consideration.

Nobody warns you that when you get pregnant and start to imagine what kind of a parent you will be, that in all actuality – you have no idea. You might think you know. You might think you will be the parent who will be a nurturer, a disciplinarian, a softy, a co-sleeper, a teacher, etc. etc. You think it is up to you to decide. Well after all these years of being a mom (and step-mom) I am here to report that unfortunately, you do not get a say. You do not get a say in what makes up your primal, ingrained DNA. You do not get a say in how you inherently react, judge situations, and most importantly – feel. It would be so great if we could choose.

I would choose to be a level-headed mom. Super flexible, rolling with the punches and feeling great about each milestone. I would take her growth in stride, marvel at each new independence and applaud our shared progress.

Turns out, I am the anxious, over-thinking, starved-for-attention mom. I am the parent who questions our decision to sleep train on a DAILY basis because I have a daughter who cannot (and has not) ever slept in the same bed as me past infancy. The level-headed mom would relish this fact. What an accomplishment! But I do not relish it. I hate it. I develop canker sores and a suppressed-appetite at how much I hate it (don’t worry I am in therapy). Now, I realize this is not solely due to our decision to sleep train, but my brain has decided it is a major factor.

Turns out, I want the co-dependent relationship where she can only fall asleep next to me. Where she hangs off of me at all hours of the day. Where she cries out for me in new situations and where I get to see the relief in her eyes when I embrace her. When I share this about myself to other parents, I am met with “You do not want a clingy child! It is so hard!”. And absolutely yes, I know the grass is always greener blah blah blah. But when it comes to the relationship I have with Clara, I only get this one shot. I can never know how things would have turned out if we would have made different decisions. There is a HUGE possibility she would have turned out the same – a very independent little gal who is very social and very comfortable in new situations.

Who knows, you know?

Well, this much I know. If the ladder is true and Clara is just who she is and the sleep training thing had nothing to do with her ingrained independence then I am afraid I have bad news. I am pretty sure that you kinda just get the kid you get. Furthermore, I feel that (in some cases anyway) we get a kid that is going to bring out something in us. We sometimes get a kid that really challenges us. For example:

  • You are introverted, but your kid is totally an extrovert.
  • You are a dare-devil, but your kid is super cautious.

You get it.

For me, it would go something like – you want your kid to need you, and they don’t…Man, that hurt to type. And while I know that of course, she needs me (she is only 2.5) she doesn’t need me in the way I want to be needed. Totally on me. End rant. If you struggle or have struggled with anything in this realm, drop me a line. And if you are a parent of grown children and are like, “NO DUH Natalie”, take it easy on me. I’m a first-timer over here.

LOVE ME

Palm Springs – What I’m Packing

We are vaxxed waxed and ready to relax y’all!

OK even I am grossed out by the phrase vaxxed and waxed, but it just felt so apropos for our situation. And while I am fine with being slightly basic, I am certainly not comfortable with going full chueg. And while we are on the subject, I for one am delighted to finally have a term for that shiplap, “gather” sign, chevron print aesthetic je ne sais quoi I was never able to put my finger on. But now? I can walk through Hobby Lobby smirking at the cheugiest-of-the-cheug while I myself select my own, slightly less cheugy (?) renditions.

I digress…<- also cheugy.

Ok I’m done.

Well guys, the fam is headed to Palm Springs in a few days! And since it has been, well, forever since we have been anywhere or gone on a plane I thought I would share some highlights of what we are bringing along.

Of course we will start with swimwear, arguably the most important items for this trip.

Infamous Swim – Mini Poppy Bikini Set in Fairy Floss – ON SALE NOW!

Infamous Swim – Gia Bikini Top/Radar Bikini Bottoms in Fairy Floss – ON SALE NOW!

Guys. I am not one to match with my kid. In fact, this is the first mommy+me matching we have ever participated in together. I always thought it a bit cheesy because really, the adult is never going to look as cute as the kid. However, these matching suits have my heart. Clara squealed when she noticed that they matched and THAT – changes everything.

These swimsuits are maybe the nicest I’ve owned. The materials is thick, yet soft, durable, and very comfortable. I was also really impressed with how they come in handy pouches, perfect for throwing in your bag to store your wet suit!

We will also be taking this amazingly soft toddler bamboo bathrobe from Kyte Baby for Miss Clara to warm up in post-pool play.

And if you’ve never ventured over to Kyte Baby – go go go! They really have theee best things and Clara basically lives in her sleep bag walker.

In terms of clothing for myself, I will of course be bringing a few new new summer things I have accumulated. Among those items are these new shorts from Aerie and a couple of cropped tee shirts from Target.

I will also be taking this dazzling tank top from Sparkle City!

(Pardon the Minnie Mouse tattoo on my arm). This tank top is SUPER high-quality! Forget everything you thought you knew about sequined appliques because this is SO SPARKLY. Pageant-worthy, truly. I die for the cut, the band-tee vibe and subtle nod to America. Cannot wait to don this in PS and on July 4th!

One thing I totally dropped the ball on was ordering myself some prescription sunglasses for this trip. Just did not get my act together in time. Luckily I have these adorable new sunglasses from Pixel Eyewear that are both polarized AND offer blue light protection. They feel so high-quality and I love that David can wear them too #unisex.

For the plane ride, I am so excited to wear these new high-waisted, buttery soft leggings from Amazon, by Fenrici for only $20. Also, excuse the body suit cut into a shirt. READ: Body suits are not made for tall people.

Of course no vacation in 2021 is complete without a mask! Since we will have to wear these for several hours in the airport + while on the plane, I am very excited to have two new anti-acne face masks. I am also excited due to the fact that I have been battling some pesky breakouts on my chin recently!

This two-pack comes in light blue and black, offers UV protection, absorbs surface moisture quickly, helps soothe inflamed skin and is super soft!

Now onto the beauty items! I really have not been wearing too much makeup lately (as evidenced in most of these photos), but have been trying out lots of new skin and body care. Here is what I am bringing along:

Of course, sunscreen! I plan to slather it on the whole time we are there and am so happy to have discovered this kind from Earth Baby for Clara.

One thing I hate about so many of those all-natural sunscreens is how white they are, and how it does not rub in! I usually have .0000432 seconds to get sunscreen on her and am so thankful when the task is made easier. This stuff is great because while it is natural, it rubs in SO smoothly and smells really nice.

We are also bringing a vat of hand sanitizer and I plan to throw this bottle of EcoFreaks in my checked bag so we’re well stocked for the week.

This stuff is a nice reprieve from the super scented versions that can leave hands feeling dry. This version is non-scented and contains aloe for added moisture.

Another new item I will be bringing along is this all-natural deodorant I have been trying from mindalt.

First of all, this deodorant smells amazing. Like nothing else I’ve ever smelled before. And I am not going to lie, switching from regular to all-natural deodorant is no task for the faint of heart. There is a definite “detox” period and several moments where extra wetness have become commonplace. What I love about the mindalt deodorant compared to other all-natural versions I have tried, is the strong scent. It seems to really overpower any foul odors and the scent is just so damn nice and calming. They also have a formula to suit any mood – including “more energy” and “more mindful”.

Another item I will be throwing in the ol’ toiletry bag are these self-tanning drops from Tanologist. I love that they mix right in with any lotion and I find that only a couple drops of the “dark” shade provides a nice sun-kissed look, rather than the harshness that a straight-up self-tanner can provide.

I have also been in hot pursuit of some concealer for my face that contains some sort of blemish treatment. I am telling you, these pesky chin zits are driving me crazy. And guys, I think I found my new holy grail.

The August + Monroe 3-in-1 Camouflage is ground-breaking.

I am so thrilled I found this stuff! It is from a clean brand, featuring aloe, arnica, squalane, salicylic acid and vitamin C. The formula is color-adjusting which I have never been a huge fan of, TBH. It starts out white and darkens to skin-tone as you work it in. I was nervous at first, but the coverage is amazing AND it does not feel like concealer at all. See below for some before and afters!

BEFORE
AFTER

No filters! Promise.

In terms of face makeup, I am keeping things pretty simple and bringing along this Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer that I received via Influenster. I love that it provides a nice level of coverage, while also containing SPF.

I swear, I have gotten to try some of the nicest things just by joining Influenster – and it really is totally and completely free. They also do not spam you with a bunch of emails. If you have a ton of Facebook friends, or Instagram followers – sign up here! You fill out a profile with your likes and they send you free stuff. It is amazing. (This is a referral link that I earn “points” for).

And that concludes the most exciting things I will be bringing along with us. What are some of your must-haves for travel?

*Some of the items above were sent to me complimentary for review. All opinions are my own.

Checking In

Today I thought I might provide a check-in of sorts. There is so much happening right now, with spring being well underway, summer plans being made and the possibility of the world opening back up looming. This is where I am at, in Portland Oregon, right now.

So – vaccinations! I find every social interaction as of late must begin with the obligatory vaccine catch-up. “Did you get your first shot?”, “How did you get an appointment?!” “Pfizer, Moderna or J&J?” We talk about the complexities of getting an appointment, the side effects, the new Brazilian and British covid strains. We are beginning to hug our grandparents, see friends inside and officially stop wiping down our groceries (although WE only did this for about a week). Is there a REAL possibility that we will be inside public places with other people, not wearing masks and (horror of horrors) not social distancing??!

Returning to our places of work, to restaurants and stores, to concerts and arenas and Chuck-E-Cheese. It has me feeling some kind of way. On one hand, I am elated to throw it back to 2019. To waltz into a crowded Goodwill, sans-mask, footloose and fancy free. Breathing in the mixture of must, body odor and Jean Nate, unadulterated. I am excited to see the look on my daughter’s faces when they get to interact with their peers again. And the way my husband’s eyes will sparkle when he comes home from playing basketball. I cannot wait to share that morning cup of joe with my coworkers again. All of these things give me happiness to no end.

But also – there’s this: I am an ambivert. Or, as I like to call it an introverted-extrovert. I like a variety in life. But the past year has really thwarted that extroverted side of me. I have settled into my quarantine nest and the routines that go with it. And even though there have definitely been exceptions, I have loved being around my family everyday. I also finally found joggers in tall sizes (Old Navy!). The introvert in me has been thrust into the spotlight. She has gotten used to it. It has become homey and warm.

We have all gotten used to certain things, haven’t we? To the awkward “covid shuffle” around the grocery store, trying to keep a gap between us. To the absence of invitations to parties, game nights and play dates. To air high fives and chest bumps. I have gotten used to the glares in the park we sometimes get when Clara is not wearing a mask. Or the dirty looks from others when she is. I am ready to wave goodbye to these things, but not to others.

I am not ready to drop Clara off at day care again. To miss the sticky hugs I get each morning after her morning waffles, or witnessing the sheer pride she exudes from completed the whole alphabet puzzle. I am not ready to only see my husband between the hours of 7:30 to 10:30 pm on weeknights. I am not ready to say goodbye to my cozy work-from-home spaces, complete with a dog on my lap and no makeup on my face. Most of all, I am not ready to say goodbye to the calm of a more simplified life.

Can we keep all the good, but not the bad? Can we all continue to stay home when we are feeling sick? And wear a mask if we are feeling sick, but need to go out? Can we work from home when we need to, without feeling guilty? Can we tell people no if we’re not feeling it, without making 1,000 excuses? I feel like there is so much we have all learned about ourselves over this past year.

What have you learned? What do you hope our post covid world looks like?

It is a New Year.

I feel like this is the celebration 2021 deserves.

And honestly, it’s the Peacock app for me.

Yes, The Office moved to Peacock. And for us anxious people who despise change (especially when it comes to our #1 comfort show) liked Jim, Michael and Angela right where they belonged, on Netflix. The move to Peacock means we must now download a new app? Pay more for the no-ad versions? Dwight, you ignorant slut!

But it’s not just The Office. It is of course, the senselessness that went down at the capitol building too. And the turmoil that has ensued since. It is also my grow-out. The rain. The looming 89273 days of rain ahead. And the 40 more after that. My mom-guilt. The fact that my twice weekly trips to Goodwill are all I have somedays. Or at least, that’s the way it can feel.

But then I realize that my gorgeous husband downloaded the Peacock app for me. And maybe my grow out is a look. And oh! Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race just started! And there is a stash of E’s leftover Halloween candy in the way back of the junk drawer. And really, could Clara be sweeter?? See, things are ok.

And before we move allll the way into this new year, let’s review the holidays. Because while they were covidy and weird, they were awesome.

For starters, I tried these KISS Jelly Fantasy Nails on my birthday and they stayed on for like 10 days!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Portland. A pretty big change from years prior, but I have to say – it was SO nice being home. It was David and I’s first time doing the Santa thing and we had so much fun.

I received the below sweatshirt which is just *chef’s kiss*.

Then we went to the Tri-Cities to see my family!

We discovered Clara’s affinity for a pepperoni stick.

And then it was her birthday party! Mickey Mouse theme of course.

Check out my visor! An antique find from Auntie Amy & Shannon.

I did my first high pony in her hair and omg I die.

So far our new year has been spent hanging up our amazing holiday gifts:

Starbucks runs

The infamous matte black tumblers!

And donuts.

Happy New Year!

Clara is Two

This year on the birthday of our sweet Clara Jane, I decided my feelings would be best expressed in a song, from the motion picture “Fiddler on the Roof”.

Is this the little girl I carried?

Is this the little girl at play?


I don’t remember growing older
When did they?


When did she get to be a beauty?


When did she grow to be so tall?


Wasn’t it yesterday that they were small?


Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset