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!

Agency Skincare Review

You know when you stumble upon a new product, or service and think to yourself “I should have thought of that!”? Or you get a great idea and 2 years later see it on shelves at the store? Yeah, that’s me. I was wearing my bathrobe backwards LONG before the Snuggie. And dry shampoo? Pffff…I’ve been baby powdering my hair since 9th grade.

Another idea I have that definitely should be a real thing? Drive through pizza. Why isn’t this being done? We can get burgers, tacos, fried chicken without exiting our vehicles but if we want a delicious ‘za we must get up and answer the door? Or carry it out? I am not okay with this.

Agency Skincare is another example of a great idea I’m sure many have had – customized skincare without a trip to the dermatologist. It really is ingenious and the folks at Agency are doing it right. I was given the opportunity to try Agency free for 3 months as a member of Influenster, and I have been blown away. And if you have not done so already, go sign up for Influenster here (this is a referral link where I get points). You can easily earn free stuff by asking/answering product questions, leaving product reviews for things you’ve already tried, filling out surveys, etc. Also – it is completely free.

Here is how Agency works:

  • Sign up, share your goals, and upload photos accessible only by your licensed medical provider
  • Try your first set of products
  • Agency will check in on your progress and make adjustments based on how you’re doing
  • Agency continues to refine your products over time

As you all might know by now – my skincare goals are mostly centered around fine lines/wrinkles and dark spots.

Here are the pictures I sent into Agency back in May.

Agency reached back out after a week or so, with the following:

And here is what I was sent:

Everything comes packaged neatly in simple packaging in a small box (no outer box) which I appreciate.

The first shipment includes enough product for one month with the recommended usage, instructions, as well as all the drug information.

I followed the instructions I was given, starting out in the AM by washing my face with the Hourglass Equilibrium Cream Cleanser (HIGHLY recommend, btw).

Then following with a moisturizer and SPF, then the dark spot formula. My current moisturizer has been the Shiseido Vital Perfection Cream, and the Dr. Brandt Liquid Sun Shield.

I have just been using a dab of the dark spot formula and focusing it right on my large dark spots.

For the PM, the same products remain in play with the addition of the Future Formula and Shiseido Vital Perfection Serum before the Shiseido cream.

The future formula is a gel-like serum think sinks nicely into the skin. The dark spot formula is thicker, almost like a zit cream.

After the initial month, Agency reaches out to “check in” and adjustments can be made based on how your skin is reacting to the products.

Both of these products have incorporated so well into my current routine. I have also slowly increased the potency of my formulas to achieve the best results possible. Here is where I am currently at:

And now for the part you have all been waiting for…THE AFTER PHOTOS! (Disclaimer, I DO have under-eye concealer on in the photos below, but that is it!)

And full disclosure, I am also getting IPL. You can read more about my progress here. But I am so impressed with my skin lately and not just because my dark spots are fading. I feel like the overall texture and tone has improved, and I just feel more glowy and hydrated. I really feel like this current lineup of products has played a significant role in the state of my skin as a whole.

I should also mention that this post is not sponsored. I really think Agency is definitely worth trying out. And right now they have a free trial promotion going on, where you just pay $4.95 in S&H and get your first month of product for free. So kindof a no-brainer if you are at all interested.

Let me know if you end up giving it a try, I would love to hear what they prescribe for you!

3 Steps to Long(er) Hair

Ok so first things first. Aside from the tips I am going to mention below, the following no-brainer rules also apply:

  • Drink water
  • Trim your split ends, they cannot repair themselves (much to Pantene’s chagrin)
  • Do not wash your hair everyday
  • Do not heat-style everyday
  • Always go to a professional to color/highlight your hair

And now onto the magical tips I have to share!

And as a reminder of where my hair was, about 2 years ago:

A few noteworthy items are:

  1. Baby Bangs
  2. Total thinness
  3. Damage

My hair was in a sorry state. And at this point, it was still actively falling out. I was devastated by this and it actually sent me into a bit of a depression. If you are interested, you can read more about that here.

And here is my hair today:

The following are the things I feel have contributed most to the current state of my hair!

Step 1 – Collagen and Biotin

I know I have already sung the praises of these helpful aids, but I cannot stress this enough! The Vital Proteins collagen and beauty gummies are WHERE IT’S AT. I feel like these have made the biggest difference as of late. We’re talking exponential growth. Plus – they’re gummies! It’s like candy. They taste great and have such a nice chew.

Step 2 – Good Shampoo + Conditioner

Recently I have been using this Phyto Collagen shampoo from Soo’AE and really enjoying it. This is formulated for dry/damaged hair and is vegan-friendly and sulfate free!

The Soo’AE Water to Cream Treatment has been the perfect compliment to this shampoo. The unique formula starts as a liquid and turns into a creamy texture when it meets water.

In addition to shampoo and conditioner, a nice hair mask is also a must. I have been loving the Be Happy Hair Mask from Be Free lately. Be Free, By Danielle Fishel (Topanga from Boy Meets World!) is a brand totally free of all harsh chemicals. It is cruelty-free, vegan, made in the USA and eco-friendly. You apply this as you would a typical hair mask, from root to tips. I found that it coated my hair very nicely and rinsed clean easily.

Step 3 – Scalp Care

I feel like 2021 has been the year of the scalp. SO many new “scalp care” products have come out and I for one am here for it! I have always had a drier scalp and am totally game for trying out anything aimed at nourishing this often overlooked area.

The Scalp Refresh from Be Free is just the kind of product I was looking to try. The Scalp Refresh detoxes to encourage healthy hair growth and stimulates circulation, while preventing inflammation of the scalp (yes please!). This is applied to a dry scalp and gently massaged in. I find that it has a slight cooling sensation and smells ever so slightly of peppermint. I really am in love!

I am on track to have Rapunzel hair by this time next year. I will keep you all posted!

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!

IPL Photofacial Progress

Hello beauties!

It has been a few months since I have provided an update on the perils of my skin. There is lots to say, so I am skipping my usual rambling repartee and getting straight to it!

Following my first IPL treatment, I immediately noticed that my dark spots looked significantly more prominent. Apparently this is due to the laser penetrating down to the second layer of skin, bringing the unwanted pigment to the top layer. The technician told me that I may see what looks like coffee grounds left behind and TBH, I felt a little giddy after the first appointment when I noticed this happening.

As a reminder, here is where we left off after my first treatment in March.

The following photos were taken after my second IPL treatment in April. You can see the “coffee-grounds” a tiny bit on the large spot near my temple in the below photo.

I did not have a treatment in May, due to scheduling. But I did go in for a June appointment. Here are the photos 2 days after that treatment:

OK, so I feel like my dark spots and hyperpigmentation are the worst they have ever been! Weeee! Just what I was going for ;). I am really trusting in this “process” and hoping that we will hit a turning point where they start to fade, but so far all I am seeing is the opposite. It is also worth noting that IPL is not recommended with sun exposure, therefore lots of people do it in the fall and winter only. I have decided to keep doing it during the summer since I am indoors 90% of the time and am super diligent about wearing hats and sunscreen outside.

Anyone else going through IPL treatments? If so, drop me a line and let me know how it’s going!

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Mother’s Day is upon us.

Let us celebrate and buy stuff! But Moms are just SO worth it, aren’t they? And when I say “moms” I mean allllll the moms. We’ve got hot-mess moms, competitive moms, helicopters, granolas. We all know a few of each. But ALSO – we have the step-moms, foster moms, fur-moms, non-binary moms, moms who have lost, mother earth. There are so many moms and all are equally important!

Here are some gift ideas for that special mom, or mother figure in your life.

Zeep Bath

Ok guys, I may have found my new Lush. Zeep Bath is a small, family-owned business located in Wichita, Kansas. I found out about them on Instagram and was immediately drawn in by the cuteness of the products and just overall aesthetic. I meannnn….

They carry both bath & body products and home fragrance (which I have yet to try) in absolutely scrumptious scents. David ordered me their Sugar Whip (whipped soap + sugar scrub) a couple weeks ago for our anniversary and GUYS, I am hooked.

Their Malibu Barbie scent is described as “exotic island coconut, juicy white pineapple, and sexy sweet pink sugar”. After using it one time, David said I smelled like a “Hawaiian tropic girl” (ala Dumb and Dumber, I am guessing) and the scent lingered for hours. I am now ordering the body spray and whipped soap in Malibu Barbie because I want to smell like this 24/7. It shall be my new signature scent!

Zeep also has a referral program, which I happily joined. Use this link for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more!

*Also, this company did not send me anything, nor is this sponsored.

Bunnies by the Bay

Bunnies by the Bay is a Washington-based company that sells some of the sweetest, most high-quality stuffies, lovies and baby gifts you will find. The best part is that several of their stuffies come with a backstory! If you or your kiddos love Peter Rabbit, you will absolutely love Bunnies by the Bay! I was immediately drawn to one of their signature bunnies, Blossom of Cricket Island and knew Clara would love it.

I am getting side-tracked, this is a MOTHER’S DAY gift guide!

When I saw their adorable Blossom Bunny mommy & me face masks, I knew what a sweet mother’s day gift they would make!

First of all – the PACKAGING:

No detail is overlooked when it comes to their adorable packaging. Clara and I were squealing at how cute everything came. And the look on her face when she pulled out little Blossom, just says it all!

But these mommy and me face masks?! I DIE.

Here is E, modeling the kid mask:

And yours truly in the adult version:

For get $10 your first purchase at Bunnies by the Bay, click here!

Bombay Hair Curling Wand

Perfect for the lady who desperately needs to upgrade her hair-tools game, look no further than Bombay Hair. I have never invested in nice hair tools, and have been using the same teeny tiny Conair curling wand for years now.

Enter – the Bombay 32MM curling wand.

I meannn, just check out the gorgeous packaging!

This extended wand is 100% tourmaline and features a cool tip which helps with styling burns. You also get a little stand and heat protectant glove.

The best part about this curling wand? It heats up in literally 10 SECONDS! You can select an exact temperature and the LCD screen turns from blue to green when it is ready to go.

Check out these amazing curls, that seriously last ALL DAY.

And here is a video of me using the curling wand! Be warned, I am verrrry professional at this:

Dossier Fragrances

YOU GUYS. This company basically makes designed imposter (remember those millenials?!) fragrances, but like bougie. I discovered them on Instagram after trying to find a knock-off of my most coveted perfume of all time, Le Labo Rose 31. I have wanted this perfume for probably 10 years and realized I needed to somehow make it a reality.

Then I stumbled upon Dossier’s Floral Rose.

They also have versions of everything from Le Labo, to Jo Malone, to Chanel, YSL and Tom Ford. And they only cost $29 or $39!

The glass bottle is actually quite weighty and feels expensive. But the scent?! I was BLOWN away! This smells exactly like Rose 31…it is almost uncanny. I do not think the lasting power is quite as good as the Le Labo version but for $39 I will take it!

I have been dousing myself in this everyday and could not be happier.

Elise Design Company

Christa was kind enough to send me a few pairs of the gorgeous and unique Belle Stud handmade earrings to try and I am absolutely gaga for these.

These earrings are made of acrylic, are lightweight and make a statement while still being dainty. Also, they’re only $15 and they have free shipping!

I could not get E to take off the rose gold version, she just adores them.

I die for these black and gold ones! And ignore my dark spots…they’re a work in progress.

So impressed with the quality of these earrings from this small business. Totally want to get the initial necklace next, which would also make an amazing mother’s day gift!

The Great Oregon Wine Company

Doesn’t wine always make the easiest and best gift? I recently tried this Pinot Gris from Great Oregon Wine Company and it was love at first sip.

I am no wino, but this went down very nicely and was super bright and refreshing. And also – May is Oregon Wine Month! You can get $10 flat-rate shipping on 4 bottles or more right now! Go get you some.

Crocs

Yes, I am including Crocs. Mainly because I actually want some for Mother’s Day. They are ugly, yes. But in a cute way. I just feel like by me not owning Crocs, I am doing myself a disservice. PLUS, I actually think they are kinda cool right now. As in, I see cool people wearing them from time to time.

You can get them on Amazon Prime and they will be here by tomorrow. What’s not to love?

And that will conclude my list for now friends. Have a fabulous mother’s day!

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?