14 of My Favorite Beauty Products

I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.14 Somewhat Surprising Beauty Products

14 of My Favorite Beauty Products

By no stretch of the imagination to I consider myself a beauty queen, mostly I struggle.  But along the way, I found some fabulous, somewhat surprising beauty products that help me put my best face forward.

1. Venus Embrace

These razors are the bomb dot com. Three come in a pack for around $10. They make your legs (and anything else you shave) silky smooth and they don’t cut you up or leave a burn. I like that they are disposable unlike many of the Venus razors because after a while razor just get gross.

2. theBalm Blush

This blush comes in several colors, I like “Frat Boy.” I came across it in a Birch Box sample, from Birchbox.com. (PS If you don’t have a Birchbox account, get one because they have an awesome rewards program, whether or not you sign up for their monthly samples.) The color looks great and a little bit goes a long way.

3. Acure Day Cream

This animal friendly moisturizer smells great and works wonders. The day cream is light and refreshing, I use it under my make-up everyday. It restores skin cell and protects against free radical damage. It is also sulfate, paraben, and cruelty free!

 

4. Urban Decay Naked Palette
I currently have the original Naked Eye Palette and the Smoky Eye Palette. There are so many things you can do with these colors. They go on so nicely and stay all day. I’ve had my original palette for almost 3 years, and I use it almost everyday. I was a little overwhelmed when I first purchased the palettes, but there are a lot of helpful YouTube videos out there, like this one.

5. Sephora Color IQ

I was tempted to add the foundation I use to this list, but instead I added the Sephora Color IQ. If you visit your local Sephora they hold a device to your face and it pulls a variety of make-ups perfect for your skin tone. Plus, the service is absolutely free! When I did it I was wearing Bare-Minerals, which didn’t even register as a recommendation. I switched to Lancome and was absolutely amazed at the difference.

6. Head & Shoulder Classic Clean Shampoo

Original Head and Shoulders Shampoo (not the 2 in 1) will work wonders for not only your hair, but also your face. It makes your hair so shiny and it will clear up breakouts in a snap. Trust me!

7. Aquafresh Extreme Clean Whitening Tooth Paste

I’m pretty sure this toothpaste would take the rust off a car bumper. It will noticeably whiten your teeth quickly. It is not for the faint of heart, but it works wonders for your smile.

8. Sun Laboratories Self Tanning Lotion

I dread putting on self tanner. This self tanner last a good while, which means I have to put it on a lot less often. It has instant color so you can actually see where you are putting it. It smells great, and I can put it on my face. Make sure you wear gloves when you put on self tanner.

9. Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo

The cheapest and best dry shampoo I’ve ever used. That’s win win!

10. Dawn

Dawn is amazing! I use it in my hair about once a week. After shampoo and conditioner I put a dime size amount in my hair, and lather and rinse quickly. It really gets your hair clean.  I’ve used it a lot more often during both of my pregnancies because my hair gets so greasy, it is the only thing that works for me.

11. Revlon Hair Color

Lets see…pay someone to color my hair for $60-$100, plus tip, plus scheduling it, small talk, and at least a 1 hour appointment…or do it myself for $5 in 25 minutes. I have brown hair (and lots of gray), I always use the “Dark Mahogany Brown,” but there are many to chose from.  Also it is ammonia free so you won’t stink up your bathroom.

12. Burt’s Bees Cleansing Towelettes

I know that part of being a “grown-up” in that you are not supposed to go to bed with make-up on your face because it causes big pores, wrinkles, and acne…yuck. But Home Girl is way too tired at the end of the day and stand over the sink to wash my face.  Does anyone stand over the sink and wash their face, or does that only happen in commercials?  I always have a pack of make up removing wipes on my night stand to clean my face, literally right before I go to bed.  Its always good to go with a sensitive type formula because they are typically scent free and easy on the face.  Remember you are trying to fall asleep, not wake up.

13. Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette

If I can contour, anyone can contour. This is like paint by numbers! There is only one pallet which offers all the colors you’ll ever need. This is great for the transition from summer to winter.  The brush is sold separately, bummer, I purchased it, but I’m sure other brushes would get the job done, just fine.

14. Pure Instinct Sex Attractant Cologne

Chill.  The “hack” is not that I used this to attract my husband.  This stuff is a must have in the summer!  If you ever feel like your deodorant just isn’t enough in the sleeveless months you have to try this stuff!  Just put on your deodorant as normal, and then put a dab of this serum on your underarms (over your deodorant).  Spread it around, a little goes a long way.  Trust me on this one!  I don’t wear anything sleeveless without this.

Labor, Induction, and Delivery: 10 Things You Need to Know About Cervidil

The following information was retrieved from cervidil.com and is only intended for U.S. patients.

I’m not sure if my baby would have been born vaginally, had it not been for Cervidil, but I’m certain he would not have gone to the NICU. I have no intentions of ever using Cervidil again.

I am not a doctor or medical professional, but I am convinced that Cervidil is the reason my baby went straight to the NICU after birth. In my birth story I talked about how my doctor recommended Cervidil prior to the induction of my labor because I had not dilated at all.

I was induced at 39 weeks, not for medical reasons, but to insure that my doctor delivered the baby, to have the baby prior to the new year, and because I (not my doctor) was worried my baby was too big.

I spent my entire pregnancy researching inductions, but I never researched Cervidil, even after my doctor made it part of my birth plan.

I’m not sure if my baby would have been born vaginally, had it not been for Cervidil, but I’m certain he would not have gone to the NICU. I have no intentions of ever using Cervidil again.

10 Things You Need to Know About Cervidil

 

  1. Cervidil is a removable vaginal insert (much like a tampon) that helps your cervix ripen, soften and thin, similar to the way your hormones normally would have. (cervidil.com)
  1. It is approved to start and/or continue the ripening of the cervix in pregnant women who are at or near the time of delivery and who have a medical reason for inducing labor. (cervidil.com)
  1. Cervidil is inserted by your doctor or midwife at the hospital, and it is easy to remove when they decides it’s time. (cervidil.com)
  1. The part of the insert that is near the cervix gradually delivers a hormone similar to your body’s own hormone, dinoprostone.(cervidil.com)
  1. Cervidil has been around for over 20 years. (cervidil.com)




  1. Cervidil is the only FDA approved vaginal insert to help get the cervix ready for labor. (cervidil.com)
  1. More than 5 million Cervidil vaginal inserts have been dispensed in the United States. (cervidil.com)
  1. While Cervidil is inserted, your doctor will carefully monitor your progress and your baby’s well-being and will determine when the insert should be removed. (cervidil.com)
  1. In rare cases, the use of Cervidil has been associated with an increased risk of a life-threatening event to the mother called “amniotic fluid embolism.” (cervidil.com)
  1. The most common side effects of Cervidil are contractions occurring at a rate faster than normal and signs that the baby is exhausted or in distress. (cervidil.com)

For more information on how Cervidil effected me and my baby, read my birth story.

 

First Pregnancy Mistakes: Setting Yourself Up for Failure

Don't set yourself up for failure.Ok, I’m allowed to say this because I have crossed the threshold between my 1st pregnancy and motherhood.  If you are pregnant with your first child (and have not other children) do yourself a favor and SHUT UP!


Yes, you are pregnant with an actual child, yes you are entitled to your own opinions, and goodness know you have 5,000 of those already, but every time you open your mouth in regards to your birth plan (Ha!), parenting style, or how your baby is going to sleep through the night, you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into the hole of shame.

I call it the hole of shame because every single time I failed (and fail) to live up to those goals and aspirations I had for myself and my child, I feel ashamed, like a big, fat, failure.

As if parenting isn’t already hard enough, don’t add to it by setting yourself up for failure time and time again.

I get it, the load of advice, especially the out dated old school advice, can get really, really, old, and you’re more than entitled to your own opinions and plans.  But keep it to yourself, you have no earthly idea what you’re in for, and people are only trying to help.

I don’t recommend using the words “never,” ever, and don’t argue with someone that gives you advice with what you plan to do instead. Plan to prove yourself with your actions, not your words.



Must Have Baby Stuff: 6 Items I Wish I Had From the Start

6 Baby Items I Wish I Had From the Start

I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Parents learn very quickly that things constantly change and the only way to make it out alive is to monitor and adjust accordingly.

6 Must Have Items for You and Your Baby

I spent countless nights searching on Amazon for things that might help taking care of a new baby just a tad easier. I joined mommy groups on Facebook, searched Pinterest, and had many many trail and error experiences, not to mention many many wasted dollars.

I created a list of 6 awesome products that got me through the baby stage without absolutely going bonkers.

Snuza Hero

The Snuza Hero is a movement monitor that alerts baby and parents when no movement have been detected over certain periods of time. First the baby is alerted with vibrations, then the parent and baby are alerted with an alarm.  I purchased the Snuza Hero prior to my son’s arrival, but once we brought him home, I was too scared to use it. I was worried that the rubber sensor would irritate his tummy, or just plain bother him. I was worried that the device would have “false alarms” and do more harm than good. One night, when baby was probably 5 weeks old, and I just couldn’t stand the sleepless nights and constant worrying anymore, I finally decided to try the Snuza Hero. I could tell right away that my baby didn’t even notice it. False alarms were not an issue and I finally was able to have some relaxing sleep. I used this little do-dad until baby was about 6 months old. I highly recommend this to new parents.

Rock n Play

I was initially against using the Rock and Play. It has a lot of bad online reviews regarding SIDS and causing flat heads. Eventually I gave it a try with the Snuza Hero and a 4Moms newborn insert and it worked wonders for my baby. I think the incline and the way it cradles baby really helped him stay asleep, and the insert gave me piece of mind for his head. The one I bought had an automatic rocking feature, and played music. I used this until baby started sitting up on his own.

Medela Pump

I started out with a Lansinoh Signature Pump, I did like it, but once I tried a Medela Pump in Style I never looked back.  The Medela is more powerful and is easier to get set up and put away. The Medela has an adjustable speed, which helps you find the right speed and comfort level for yourself. All of the parts that come in contact with breastmilk are BPA and DEHP Free, and it even has a car adapter for pumping in the car.  I highly recommend the Medela if you are planning on pumping at work.

 

 




Lansinoh Bottles

I heard so many great things about Dr. Brown bottles that I registered for them, pre-washed them and all, but baby never really seemed to like them and there’s so many pieces to one bottle. I tried a Lansinoh bottle that came with my pumping kit, and absolutely loved it. I strongly recommend these bottles, especially for breastfed babies. I do wish that they were available in glass bottles, and additional colors though.

Halo Sleep Sack

I was so cautious about putting baby down swaddled in a blanket, and I was always so worried about keeping baby the right temperature. Halo Sleep Sacks are so great at keeping baby covered without posing the dangers that blankets can cause. There are several different varieties. We loved this kind the best. They all zip from the bottom, which makes diaper changing a breeze. I do not recommend the fleece versions though, they are very hot.

Milk Snob

I didn’t even know Milk Snob nursing covers existed until my baby was 4 months old. I was a little concerned that the price was high for a hunk of fabric, but knowing what I know now, I would pay double. These covers, cover everything. Baby cannot kick it off of you, its not too hot or too sheer and its so soft. My Milk Snob was used as a nursing cover, and security blanket. You’ll love using it as a car seat cover too.

Pumping at Work: 10 Tips for Success

Pumping at work can be so daunting and can discourage a breastfeeding mother retuning to work, from continuing her and her baby’s breastfeeding journey.

I’ve compiled a list of tips that helped me successfully breastfeed for 15 months, even after returning to work 12 weeks postpartum.

I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Pumping at Work: 10 Tips for Success

1.  Don’t be afraid of formula.

My baby’s caregiver always had formula as a back up.  It really took the pressure off me because some days I just didn’t pump enough or baby was really hungry.  The caregiver knew to always use the pumped milk before using formula.  And my baby had had formula prior to my return to work, so he was accustomed to it.

2. I recommend having a Medela Pump.

I have this one.  The book bag makes everything easily accessible. Medea also has a car adapter.  When I first retuned to work I was using a Lansinoh pump, after I switched to Medela, I was pumping more, and had a much easier time lugging everything around.

3. Consider pumping in the car.

I had a 30 minute commute, so I would often pump in the car, after I made the switch to the Medela pump.  I purchased their car adapter, and used this pumping bra to remain hands free.  This nursing cover helped me cover up everything without interfering with my seatbelt. The extra pumping helped me increase my supply too.

4. Use a small cooler.

I purchased this small cooler because it looked more like a lunch box than a cooler.  I kept it in the fridge at work, but it also kept everything cold on days that I kept it with me instead.

5. Use the Medela Ice Pack.

I used this Medela Ice Pack.  I recommend having two of these in case you forget to refreeze it one day. It fits perfectly between the bottles, not taking up extra space.  It is also dishwasher safe!




6. Use one set of pump parts a day.

You do not need new pump parts each time you pump during the day.  All you need to do is keep your pump parts cold.  My cooler had two pumping bottles, and two spare bottles in it each day.

7. Pump into the bottles your baby uses.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me, and may not for you either, but there is a way around it. I was using a Medela pump, but my baby used Lansinoh bottles.  My cooler had two capped Lansinoh bottles, and two Medela bottles topped with the pumps parts.  On a typical day I would pump 10 ounces, which filled both Lansinoh bottles. I kept an extra capped Lansinoh bottle in my Medela book bag. After each pumping session, I would pour the milk into the Lansinoh bottle.  Each day when I picked up baby, I would place the capped Lansinoh bottles in the fridge.  Tip #7 is crucial because chilled breastmilk separates, and much of the fat will stick to its container once chilled.

8. Get a breastmilk friendly bottle warmer.

The Kiinde Kozii is a bottle warmer specifically made for warming breastmilk.  My baby’s caretaker would warm the Lansinoh bottle and top it with a Lansinoh nipple, easy peasy.

9. Work out the details before you go back to work.

Prior to returning to work I talked with my pricipal about when and where I thought I could pump.  I pumped 3 times a day, for 20 minutes at a time, in a small storage room.  It was not an ideal location, and I was walked in on a few times.  I always kept my back to the door just to be safe.  Also ideally you need 20 minutes of pure pumping, try to factor in additional time to get set up, etc. 30 minutes would be best.

10. Keep you eyes on the prize.

Countless times I was beyond ready to throw in the towel.  Keeping up with all the bottles, being unavailable during my planning time, the awkward moments of being walked in on or lugging my supplies around, I was ready to give it all up. I would just remind myself that my goal was to nurse my baby for a year, and I did not want my job to get in the way of that.

Don't let the fear of pumping at work put an end to your breastfeeding journey. These tips will help you be successful!

A Working Mom’s #sorrynotsorry to SAHM’s

A few weeks after returning to work because my glorious 12 week maternity leave had come to an end, I had just made my 30 minute commute from work to pick up my little one, when I received a lofty Facebook message from an acquaintance asking me to buy something she was selling.

At the time I was really struggling with the emotions of going back to work. I had to leave my still brand new baby every morning around 6:45 AM, and the earliest I could get back to him was 3:30 PM.
Getting to him at 3:30 PM meant that I felt guilty for leaving my classroom and coworkers behind. My grade level would often meet and plan together after school; while I crept down the hall and slipped out the door, hoping they’d remember the days of having littles ones, and forgive me for not contributing.

Once I arrived to pick up my son I would often be so exhausted from the day, that I felt like he was getting second best.

It seemed as if I was giving myself to someone else’s children all day, and was too exhausted for my own child that evening.  Hearing of milestones he met, or new things he was doing hurt too; as happy as I was to hear the great news, my heart broke that I missed it.  I struggled with the thoughts of my son loving his caretaker more than me, or him not understanding where “home” was.

With a goal to nurse for at least a year, I was still breastfeeding. Between the pumping at work and in the car, painful engorgement, leaking, and the constant chore of transporting milk and cleaning pump parts, I battled my decision to continue to breastfeed daily.

And there sat the Facebook message. Sent from a former teacher and mother of two little ones. She had become a SAHM and was selling books, or makeup, or something on the side.

Her polite inquiry for me to purchase something from her, absolutely enraged me, down to my very core.





Here I was forced to go back to work, to meet my financial obligations. Struggling daily to be a good teacher, coworker, mom, wife, and take care of myself, and she wanted my money. I wanted to tell her so bad that I would not contribute to her having the best of both worlds. No dollar of mine was going to let her enjoy an income while she raised her children at home. I wanted to hurt her feelings because her quick little message, that she probably sent to the masses, was the icing on the cake in my world.

Her message is one of many I’ve received since I went back to work last spring. I’ve never replied to any of them, I just delete them and try to extinguish the little fire that’s ignited inside me every time. I feel jealous of these women that get to stay home, and I know if takes guts for them to put themselves out there and reach out to people to sell things. I’m sure they miss adult conversations, and jamming out on the way to work, while they sip coffee, but I miss time with my son that I’ll never get back.

Maybe they are selling things to have some cash of their own, or maybe they too have financial obligations. Whatever their reason, I only have my point of view, and no lash extension miracle mascara, embroidered bag, or children’s book is going to be purchased with the money I regretfully earned while being away from my child.

Labor and Delivery: 7 Things No One Told Me About Epidurals

Labor and Delivery: 7 Things No One Told Me About Epidurals

Please read this post with so many “grains of salt” that your able to enjoy a margarita (or virgin margarita). This is in no way, shape, or form, any type of medical advice. I am a teacher, not a doctor.  I’m not even a good candidate to administer first aid. I am the most squeamish person I know, not to mention that all this is a recollection of my birth story, when I was not at my sharpest.

1. Breaking your water before you have an epidural is not the smartest of moves.

This, pending the fact that you actually have control over how your labor is progressing, and let’s face it, once the baby comes, you won’t ever have control over anything for the rest of your life. But getting your water broken actually kind of hurts, and sitting up to have an epidural is very messy if your water has already been broken.


2. No one can stay with you when you have an epidural.

I had a major “I want my mama” moment when it was time for my epidural. My also very squeamish mom wanted no part of being in there for that anyway, but I was really scared to have to do that on my own. I told my nurse that I needed her to hug me and talk me through it. I squeezed her tight, digging my forehead into her shoulder, while my “water” continued to gush rivers all over the both of us.

3. Am I the only person on the planet that didn’t realize that an epidural is like an IV for your back?

I thought that an epidural was more like a shot, but its a completely separate IV that’s taped to your back so that it doesn’t move when you do. Ugh to this day I get light headed just thinking about it.




4. It comes with a pain management button.

I had access to a button that would “amp” up the epidural by giving me more “juice.” I used it quite a bit. No one explained it to me, but I’m assuming it had medicinal and placebo effects.

5. You can be “too numb.”

Just before it was time to push I was clinging to the bed rails begging someone to help me. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t describe or even pinpoint. My nurse calmly told me that any more “juice” from the epidural might make me too numb to push. Turns out more epidural juice wasn’t what I needed anyway, a few minutes into to pushing I barfed everywhere and felt ten times better.

6. It’s hard to be “lady like.”

As modestly as I can put this. When you have an epidural you’re completely unaware of feelings such as being gassy. So when the nurse suggests helping you roll to one side or the other be sure you’re comfortable farting in front of any guests you may have at the time.

7. It goes away quickly, yet stays with you for a while.

Moments, dare I say seconds after my son was born, they unhooked my epidural. I got sensation back so quickly that I could feel the doctor stitching me up…OUCH. And for a couple months after my son was born, if I bent down a certain way, this bolt of tingling lightning would shoot down my leg. It didn’t hurt, it just felt weird. I also felt like my back was just sort of separated into two halves, top and bottom. It’s so hard to explain, but I’ve had other women tell me that they understand what I mean.



12 Things About My First 12 Months as a Mother

12 Things About My First 12 Months as a Mother

1. I was overcome with the desire to improve myself for my child.

From my health to my career, I really want to be a good role model, and mother.

2. That motherly instinct I heard so much about is not always fool proof.

Numerous times I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and still don’t. I guess you just kind of learn to wing it.

3. I ate lots and lots of crow.

I did things I swore I’d never do…too much screen-time, nursing to sleep, bed sharing, and junk food to name a few.

4. Countless times my baby would absolutely take my breath away.

The first time I heard him laugh, watching him learn how to crawl, seeing him standing without support, moments like these would stop my heart as my eyes filled with tears.

5. Over and over again I would be amazed at how fast my baby was growing.

It is absolutely amazing how much they change over 1 year.

6. How I managed my time became very important to be.

I hate how much I’m away from my son during the work week so I really try not to let trivial things take away any more time.

7. I took baby steps.

I never did anything I wasn’t ready for, from nursing in public to leaving baby with a caretaker to sleepovers.




8. I learned that it does get easier.

I can remember how insanely daunting leaving the house was in the beginning. By the time we thought we were ready to go, having packed up half the house, it would be time for baby to eat again or he’d have a major blowout. These days I stuff a couple diapers in my purse and head out the door.

9. I became so flipping emotional.

Even my husband got choked up watching the grinch! I see my students differently now that I’m a mother. Being a parent absolutely breaks your heart and you’re never the same.

10. I realized that babies do not cure “baby fever.”

Turns out it is an incurable disease that makes husbands very nervous.

11. I found out what really mattered.

Before my son was born I was so worried about picking the perfect name, having a perfect nursery, and planning out every detail of our new life as a family. But I learned so quickly that babies don’t care about any of that.

12. I let go of life as I knew it.

I didn’t put up a struggle as I kissed my freedom goodbye, maybe just a little, but I embraced the new chapter of my life as a mother.