Friday, October 6, 2017

Five Favorites: Super Low-Maintenance Mom Beauty Edition



Let me let you in on a little secret: I am super low maintenance. As a mom of almost 4, a beachbody coach who works out in the mornings, and someone who is all-around terrible at being female, I've learned that I just do not have what it takes to be thoroughly girly, nor do I have the time or energy to learn. Don't get me wrong, I've looked up my share of youtube and pinterest eyeliner tutorials but somehow I can just never seem to stick with it, and I don't think I even own a blow dryer. But even though I'm not one of those super put-together gals, I try to look somewhat presentable most of the time (at least when I leave the house), even when I just finished working out and I'm super sweaty and already running late to get Stenni to the bus. I use these 5 things (plus one bonus tool) to pull myself together in under 5 minutes flat because really, who has any longer than that?
Remember, I'm not getting paid to endorse any of this stuff. I just really like it a lot.

So here are my five favorites, Super Low-Maintenance Mom Beauty Edition:
  1. Aquaphor. Just plain Aquaphor. I use it on everything. It's a great lip balm. It keeps my eyebrows from looking as crazy and German and angry as they really are. And it tames my eczema, sometimes. Also works on kids' booboos and baby butts. Who could ask for anything more?
  2. Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Tapioca Dry Shampoo. It smells like vanilla and woodsmoke (Cua says it made the bathroom smell like marshmallows this morning) and it helps me look like I've showered on mornings when I haven't. It is reasonably priced at my local Ulta and it is a Godsend.
  3. Garnier Matte BB Cream. I don't ever wear a full face of makeup, except to weddings and other occasions where people might take close-up pictures of my face for some reason (so any other time, joke's on them). But this stuff really does it for me. There's SPF, a bit of tint, some moisturizer, and it's all in one product so I'm set. Note: In summer I switch to Coola brand BB cream because it's actually a sunscreen and I need all the SPF I can get.
  4. Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Remover Towlettes. Because I never remember to actually wash my face. I used to have a whole cabinet full of Lush products for specific skin and face washing stuff but now that I have neither time nor money, this is it my friends. These towlettes smell good and get the makeup and dirt off so I'm good to go.
  5. Cheap navy or purple eyeliner. It makes you look less tired than black does. Trust me on this one. If you have white, do waterlines in white if you're really tired. You can fake an extra hour of sleep.
*Honorable mention: My trusty Remington Wet 2 Straight Straightener. I'm not sure if they even make this thing anymore, as I've had mine about 13 years or so and it hasn't crapped out yet. Again, it's because when I get out of the shower (when I have the time to shower), I don't have the time or patience to dry my hair before I straighten it and besides, I never straighten anything but my bangs anyway (again, unless I'm going to a wedding. Why are they the only occasions I dress up for? No clue).

So those 5 products, plus my straightener, take me from the sweaty post-workout pic on the left to the almost presentable pic on the right in less than 5 minutes (that was this morning, btw). If I have a few extra seconds, sometimes I  add some light eyeshadow to the mix and if I'm feeling generous, I may even spritz on some body spray so I don't scare people away with my stink. Oh, I also change out of my workout clothes and slap on some deodorant because I am a decent human being and I don't want to scare you away that badly (or do I?). Any other low-maintenance gals out there who use even less than I do? I'd love to hear about it!

Before
After



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cookies for Nursing Mamas

I love these "nursing mama cookies" and I refuse to call them lactation cookies because that kind of sounds super gross, don't you think? But because of the oats, the brewer's yeast and the flaxseed, they do work wonders for new mamas or those whose supply isn't exactly where it should be. AND YES, I do always explain to dads and grandmas and whoever that these won't hurt a non-nursing mom...there is nothing that makes them exclusively for new moms except the name (and the fact that they help keep things flowing)! But they do work miracles and I try to bring them to all new nursing moms when I visit because they are great and also delicious and functional too. And who doesn't love a good nosh? I have no proof that these work besides anecdotal evidence, however it seriously doesn't hurt to try, right?

*A Note Regarding Ingredients: You can sub some things out, but try to leave the ratios the same and make sure you don't drastically change the amounts of any one ingredient. Like, you could use old-fashioned oats in place of steel cut (I myself used rough-cut oats because that's what I had on hand), and if you use chocolate chips instead of dried fruit, you can cut back to one cup of brown sugar. The brewer's yeast tends to leave a bit of a bitter taste, but it is a key ingredient, so add more if you like but don't cut any out. I like to use dried fruit to add a bit of fiber and pretend I'm being healthy, but you don't need to if you'd rather use chocolate. Again, use 1/2 wheat flour if you'd like to for healthiness' sake, but be aware that the taste and texture may change.

  • Ingredients: 

  1. 3 tablespoons brewer's yeast
  2. 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal/ground flaxseed 
  3. 4 tablespoons water
  4. 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (see note above)
  5. 1 cup of butter, softened to room temperature 
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 3 cups of steel cut oats
  8. 2 cups of all-purpose flour (or 1C all-purpose, 1C wheat, if you want)
  9. 1 cup of  chocolate chips OR dried fruit such as raisins, dates, dried blueberries, etc.
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  13. 1 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together flaxseed meal and water, then set aside.
Cream butter and brown sugar til light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.
Stir flaxseed mixture and add, along with vanilla, to the butter mixture. Beat until blended.
Use whisk to stir together all dry ingredients except oats and chips/fruit.
SLOWLY add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring until fully incorporated, then stir in oats. Carefully add chips/fruit til evenly distributed.
Scoop by rounded tablespoonful onto parchment-covered baking sheet. 
Bake for 10-13 minutes. Makes approx. 3-4 dozen large cookies.

Recipe adapted from this recipe at justmommies.com

I dropped 2 dozen of these off for my cousin and froze the rest of the dough so that in a few months when my new little lady gets here, I can just scoop out a bit of dough, turn on my oven and make a few at a time as I need them (also helps with portion control...1 or 2 a day is great for milk production but 5 or 6 maybe not so much). Works for me!


Friday, September 15, 2017

What New Moms Really Want



My cousin had a baby last week, and it has me thinking...what do new moms really want, and what do they need? I know that she had a baby shower and has the things she "needs" (you don't need as much as you think you do, new moms. I promise. That fancy diaper bag is cute and all but it will be covered in poop sooner than you think) and we all know too well that wants and needs are two very different things, especially right after you have a baby and really you just need sleep (a shower is either a want or a distant memory at that point). I was thinking too that my wants and needs changed drastically from my first baby to the upcoming baby, and I think by now I'm much better about making them crystal clear to visitors. So in that spirit I'm going to randomly stop by sometime in the next few days with some home-baked, easily freezable, no-prep required food (healthy muffins and nursing cookies) and stay for only a little while to ooh and ahh at her new little wonder, and then be available by phone if she needs me in the immediate future. The reason is this: I don't want to tell her ahead of time because I don't want her stressing about cleaning up or looking presentable...those things are nigh impossible for the first few months post-partum anyway. If the baby is sleeping, I don't want her waking the little darling up (I could do a whole other post about waking a sleeping baby and the idiots who always want you to do just that), and if she's not I won't stay long anyway. Nobody likes it when someone comes to stop by and stays all day, as it wears out the host's hospitality very quickly. I'm dropping off food because real home cooking is a want and not a need when you're at home with a new baby (food=need, home cooking=want). I'll let her know that if she needs anything, I can be there in 45 minutes. But here's what I really want to say: I know what it feels like, so don't put on a show for me. It is magical but it is hard AF and I get it.
Here are some quick pointers for new mom visiting. I realize that the norms may be different in different families or different parts of the country, but here's what I could come up with from my own experience.

wants:
  • home-cooked food, as mentioned above.
  • little gift for mom. Something she'll use, like a coffee shop gift card or Netflix code or nursing scarf. Something mama doesn't have to share (it's all for her). Little luxuries like this are precious! Cozy blankets are great for this.
  • the promise of future baby-sitting

needs:
  • someone to listen.
  • food of some kind. don't come over without food or coffee. You shouldn't do that to anyone, new mom or not.
  • to attend to her newborn, and not necessarily you. If the baby starts crying, that is your cue to HELP or LEAVE.
  • an assurance that EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE in the long run, and that she is doing great.

might be nice:
  • someone to hold the baby for 10 minutes while the new mama takes time to...(take a shower, walk the dog, nap, play games on my phone, whatever)
  • maybe pick up a few groceries
  • take other children out, if there are other children

absolutely do not do this:
  • plan an overnight visit (or an all-day one at that) if you do not plan to help the new parents.
  • nitpick over preferences, especially parenting-related ones. Everyone does things differently and now is not the time to bring up anything not safety-related. I promise you that the new mama will remember this always, and not fondly.
  • HERE IS a useful guide of things NOT to say to a new mom, from Pregnant Chicken
  • bring your own drama. You're a grown up, you should know better.
Can anyone think of things to add? Seasoned mamas, what is your take on this topic?

PS Ill be bulk-baking my nursing cookie recipe soon and posting the results, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer Accomplishments, or How I got Nothing Done and Had A Great Time Doing It




I have to be honest, I had an action-packed summer planned, full of pinterest-worthy activities and educational opportunities and tons of other stuff, but it just didn't turn out that way. Life had other plans for me. As of the last week of June, here's what I had planned:
  • A Space Camp week, complete with age-appropriate, hands-on activities, adorable snacks (think rocket-shaped fruit pops), and crafts that would make all 3 kids consider becoming astronauts. To be capped off with a trip to liberty science center. (I dedicated a whole entire pinterest board to this, I was so serious)
  • Swim lessons every day
  • Twice weekly family hikes during which I could teach the kiddies about hiking, orienteering, nature and whatnot
  • Trips to local historical points of interest. There are a ton around here.
  • Enroll Cua in 3-year-old preschool.
  • Summer Reading Program at the Library.
  • Sign boys up for soccer.
But guess what we actually did? Well, here's some of it:
  • Finished potty training Cua. Finally!
  • Went to swim...sometimes. It didn't work out like I had planned. We had some issues that led to me reconsidering preschool for Cua and maybe life in general. He was just not having it, even though Stenni was amazing and a great role model. I'm starting to think that he's just not ready for organized activities, and that's ok. He's got time. But we had fun at the lake anyway.
  • Hiked occasionally with no specific itinerary or goal in mind. This was relaxing, and much better than I could have planned. I think the kids got a lot from it. Maybe.
  • I won a blue ribbon for these cookies from the state fair (I posted this recipe years ago!). We went to the fair a lot and learned a ton about livestock and agriculture. It was helpful, but hasn't prepared us for all of our chicken-related challenges (see below).
  • Lost a few birds to a wild animal of some kind, one outside and one in the coop, within about 12 hours of one another. I'm still not sure what kind of animal did the damage, but I'm guessing it was a fox. But one of the birds was Lemonade, our favorite, who we had raised from about a week old. Some of us are still grieving, hard, and some of us learned a little something about how to shore up a chicken coop a little more thoroughly. Ah, farm life.  
  • We actually all did summer reading at the library, and it was amazing! I even joined in this year and read grown-up books. 4 of them!
  • Froz started walking! A little late (as in, we already went to the dr, who told us there was nothing wrong, but still started asking around for specialists because he was almost 18 months old late. Dr said he was basically just lazy and big bro and sis did everything for him so he didn't really have to walk), but better than never. We went to the park and played outside a lot to encourage walking and running around.
  • I DID NOT sign the boys up for soccer. Maybe I never will. I get the team sports thing, but do the parents really have to suffer? Plus between Cua's absolute refusal to deal with organized activities and the fact that Froz just started walking, I think we'll give it another year (at least).
  • Spent a ton of downtime, as I struggled with morning sickness and general exhaustion. Yes, BABY #4 IS ON THE WAY, and I'm more than halfway there at this point. I've used this as an excuse to not get any of my original summer to-do list done.
But now Stenni is back in school, Girl Scouts starts soon, dance starts next week, and everything is getting crazy again. I know that we will eventually fall back into that rhythm for a while, just to be thrown off by Christmas and then a new baby. But it is what it is. I've gotten better at taking things as they come because my plans got torpedoed this summer almost as soon as I made them. I think it worked out better that way.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Two boys at home vs. One girl at home: It's crazy different, y'all



I know that I used to think having kids of any gender was going to be kind of the same either way, at least when they were babies.  Like, aside from the obvious, how different could having a baby boy be from having a baby girl? As babies, they kind of do the same things, right? Eat, sleep, poop, scream, repeat. Most of my family had only had one or the other (boys OR girls), and so no one disabused me of this notion.

I Was Wrong. So Very Wrong.

I try to raise the kids in a pretty gender-neutral fashion. We all cook, we all clean, we all go to the zoo and the aquarium and play with ninja swords and be princesses and dress like pirates at the Renaissance Faire and I don't care if my boys wear dresses or my girl plays football (although I'd be bored to tears, so I hope that she doesn't). That kind of stuff just doesn't matter to me. I'd like Stenni to learn to change her own tires and kick some ass and I'd like Cua to learn to bake bread and someday clean his own toilet. But I was not prepared for how the day-to-day operations and mechanics of having only boys in the house all day differed from having a girl in the house, especially now that she is in school all day long. The boys...they just don't like the same things. I pretty much just run around after them and try to stop them from destroying everything they touch, and then collapse into bed at night.

I look back at this blog and the posts from when Stenni was a baby and a lot has changed. But most glaringly different is the fact that I can't beg, bargain, badger or otherwise convince Cua to do a craft with me, bake with me, or pretty much do anything besides run around throwing rocks and smashing things (ah, boys). And the baby? Well, he's a baby, what can I really expect from him besides cuddles and cuteness?  Stenni could always be persuaded to paint or draw or craft or cook with me but the boys are just not interested.

This means a few things. For starters, I have to find different ways to keep my creative juices flowing, probably on my own. It hasn't happened yet, but I know it has to. Also it means that we spend a lot more time outside enjoying nature (and by enjoying nature I mean throwing rocks and mooing at my neighbor cows).
I mean, there are still things that we can do that we always did. We can:
  • play in the yard
  • go to the zoo
  • hit the library
  • go for a hike
  • watch a movie
  • read books
  • mall walk
  • go to the playground
But aside from that? I'm kind of at a loss. It's different having a baby and an almost-3-year-old too, because the attention span just isn't there and I do have to keep constant watch on the littler guy, who is just starting to crawl so he isn't always where I put him anymore.

I have to say that I miss having Stenni at home but she likes her school, and I like that she likes it. She needs things of her own to enjoy, without me and the boys. But I do enjoy more outdoor active time.

So that's where I'm at today. What do you guys think? Those of you with both, what differences are there for you and how do you overcome them?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

the skinny (j/k, fat, so fat)

So here's the skinny on what I've been doing since I last updated: moving and being pregnant. And that's pretty much it. I mean, there's been other stuff too. We went to Disney as a family, twice (I'm gonna have to do a series on that because OMBloody Hell there's so much to know before you go, especially when you take a zillion kids), we did some serious entertaining, Stenni started public kindergarten, hubs and I became landlords, my little Cua turned one and then two! And other things. So I'm back to entertain/infuriate/disappoint the masses for a while, at least until my new little Fritzy gets here in like 7 or 8 weeks.
So how about you cholos? What you been up to? Missed you!
-V

Friday, July 24, 2015

Magic Mike XXL and my Mother of the Year Award

I recently went with a girlfriend to see the movie Magic Mike XXL, as we had seen the last one together. Don't judge me, btw, because you know you saw it too and if you didn't? I don't even have time to get into all that. I haven't been to a movie in a movie theater in almost a year either, so it was about time. Plus it was girls night! So naked dude movies and burgers.
Anyway, my almost-5-year-old daughter caught me looking at my phone and laughing at lunchtime today and asked me why I was "staring at my phone and giggling." My girlfriend who had gone with me to see the movie had sent me a YouTube clip of a scene in which one of the "male entertainers" was trying to make a convenience store checkout girl smile while dancing around to "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys. If you saw the movie, you'd know that this particular scene was far more hilarious and cute than racy, and there was pretty much nothing suggestive and no nudity besides some male toplessness, which kind of doesn't even count.
So my daughter sneaks up behind me and asks, why is that naked man dancing in the store?
I'm all, he's only shirtless, not naked. Let's be real. You see that that man has pants on, right? Right?
And she's like, mom, that's still not allowed. He should know better. And she shakes her head and walks away.
So I put down my phone, stuffed some mac and cheese in my face, and gave myself the Mom of the Year award for accidentally letting my kid sneak-watch scenes from Magic Mike.
Also, if you want my actual review of the movie? Hilarious and heartwarming. Everybody gets what they want in the end, but after a lot of stripping at a stripper convention (which really exist maybe? I have no clue). It was way funnier than the first one. Lots of partial nudity and adult situations though, so if you don't like that? Probably don't go then, I'm guessing. But if you're ok with that? Then you've probably already seen it, because I'm a little late on this one. I'm kind of lucky it was still playing, since the latest showing was at 4:50. But in real life that means I can still eat dinner by 6:30 and be in bed by 9. A+ mom time all around.