Friday, January 30, 2015

On Blogging and Stalking

I got an email the other day that concerned me. One of my readers saw me out and about but she didn't want to bother me by saying hi. The only thing that concerns me is that I hope my child was acting like the sweet angel she is and not the "threenager" that pops out every now and then causing her to argue with me, cross her little arms, walk away and refuse to talk to me. So usually I just cross my arms and refuse to talk to her, too. How immature and embarrassing is that? But she didn't get that attitude out of nowhere...

This is what happens when she finds a "blanket" in Saks.

Nobody makes me blog, I do it because I want to. And I don't put it all out there like some bloggers do, for the most part I don't get too personal, so readers don't know anything that would make a conversation awkward. Honestly, sometimes I don't know if anyone reads or not. I just like to write (and type) and if things I share help readers have someone to relate to, then that's just icing on the cupcake.

A couple of years ago I was in Toys R Us. It was raining and I remember I was in a grouchy mood. So I have no idea what my hair or expression looked like. A sweet woman came up to me to tell me that she recognized Georgia and reads my blog. I was incredibly flattered, but I didn't know what to say! Thanks? Yippee, a reader? And as much as I blabber, I'm pretty shy in person. So even if I didn't make the best impression, it's honestly something I will remember for a long time.

Not long after we moved to our suburb, a woman from the Sunday School class we had been attending sent me a Facebook message to tell me that she's "not a stalker" but read my whole blog while up at night feeding her newborn. How amazing is that? My silly nonsense kept her company through those quiet, sometimes lonely, never-ending hours. Now we're friends and Georgia will start preschool with her little girl.

In my old neighborhood, I ran into Veronika at the grocery store. I didn't feel like a stalker, but I did feel like a weirdo for knowing who she was. And knowing her husband's name. I did say hello and now we're friends, chatting on Facebook almost daily.

The point of this nonsense is that bloggers aren't going to think you're a stalker unless you're wearing large sunglasses following them around in an unmarked van. So say hello and tell them you enjoyed something of theirs you read - you really  never know how it might make their day or the friendship it might lead to.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Inexpensive Dollar Store Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

I remember Valentine's Day when I was in elementary school. I bought a box of the little cards and envelopes from Wal-Mart (got the kind with stickers if I was lucky!), and my mom and I stayed up all night turning a shoe box into a tinfoil and construction paper covered masterpiece to collect the cards from my classmates.

I'm not sure if it's the Pinterest age or just a bunch of overachieving preschool moms, but gifts nowdays are a whole lot more fun. And admittedly, mine never take more than a trip to the Dollar Store and 10 minutes to put together. I spent more time making "from Georgia" labels than I do on the gifts.

I really don't like getting or giving gifts that are going to turn into clutter, and if I'm spending money I don't want throwaway gifts that are going to get trashed by next week.

Last year I found these monkeys at the Dollar Store and they had just enough for me to buy a red one for each boy and a pink one for each girl. One little friend named his Punky Monkey, and that monkey still rides around on his back!

This year I did the buckets shown above. I found pink, red, and white buckets that were two for $1, heart themed tissue paper, then bought a bunch of little packaged items to fill them up. Crazy straws, stickers, stamps, notepads, tootsie pops (12 for $1!), heart-shaped Mardi Gras beads, sixlets, candy necklaces, things like that. I made $12 cute little buckets for around $15! I'll just change the text on last year's tag and they're done - two weeks ahead which never happens in this house. Georgia was in charge of putting the prizes in each bucket and we were still done in 15 minutes. I used a glue dot to attach a lid to the bottom of each buckets, so the kids can hopefully use them for things. Georgia has already filled hers with crayons.

I will give a warning - if you want the cute useful things go now. Monkeys and frogs were already sold out when I went last week.

Do you have any cute Dollar Store gift ideas?

Edited to add: I saw online this morning that the Kindle version of A Little Salty Cut to the Sweet is free. I've never really read Boomama's blog, but a lot of people love her. I just got the book and hope to read it on the plane when I take two very exciting trips this month. I can't wait to fill y'all in!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Microneedling At Home / Dermaroller

The spa at my gym has numerous displays telling me how much I need microneedling. After my friend April posted that she got a dermaroller, I was intrigued. She's an esthetician, so I emailed her a couple of questions then did my own research. It turns out that a dermaroller and microneedler are the same thing.

I had an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my Chanel, so I ordered one. As a side note, did you know that if you're an Amazon Prime member and you opt for slower shipping (not the free two day), you get credits to spend on digital books and movies? My stuff always gets here in about five days, so totally worth it.

Anyway, I did some research and maybe I shouldn't have, but I bought a dermaroller with the same specifics used in doctor's offices (and I'm assuming spas). I wanted the bang for my buck, even though all of the dermarollers were really affordable. Here's the one I got:

I also researched the best products to use with it. I came up with Vitamin C (which I've used in the past, but don't currently use) and hyaluronic acid (OMG how many times did I try to spell that before getting it right?). I used my Amazon gift card to buy this Vitamin C serum (comes with a free Vitamin C eye gel that I really like) and this hyralonic acid serum, again going for the clinical strength products. Now looking at the products, I'm pretty sure the Vitamin C already contains hyaluronic. Oops! So you'd only need to buy one product.

In case you don't know what they do:

HLA is the main ingredient Juvederm injections. Don't let that scare you - it has many medical uses too, like helping to keep eyes from drying out in eye surgeries, and it's found naturally in our bodies. On the skin, it's a moisturizing agent that supposedly draws moisture to the skin and helps retain it.

I've been using it daily (when I remember to) under moisturizer for a few years. When using it really regularly - morning and night - after a couple of weeks I can tell a huge difference. Yep, I'll finally admit it: I have some teeny tiny lines that it helps to fill. My skin also looks plumper and more supple.

I asked my dermatologist about it and she said it wouldn't hurt anything, but it's not actually proven to help with anti-aging and the results are temporary. Which is true - when I stop using it for a few days, I can see my lines again. Anyway, it's pretty nice while it lasts.

Vitamin C is something that I really need to start using regularly. I'm incredibly embarrassed to admit that I spent my teens and half of my twenties using tanning beds. And I only started using sunscreen a few years ago, after my dermatologist scared me into it by telling me I was just ageing my skin double-time.

Vitamin C is awesome for sun spots, which I know I'll be getting due to my irresponsibility noted above. It's the only antioxidant that helps produce collagen, which will fill those lines right up and keep your skin from sagging as you get older.

I took this picture before dermarolling, and I plan to take another one to update in six weeks or so. It's with no makeup (please ignore the brows, they got waxed the next day). The lighting isn't awesome. It was 10 pm and everyone here was asleep; it is also very yellow due to the reflection from beige walls in our bathroom. But you can see some lines on my forehead and the smile area from nose to mouth, as well as tons of freckles. I've always had freckles but I think they may lighten some with the Vitamin C.

I followed instructions and did 4-5 (ok, I actually did 5-10) rolls each direction (horizontal, vertical, diagonal then diagonal the other way) on all the areas of my face, working in areas of about three square inches. I'm not gonna lie, it really does feel like you're poking 150 little needles into your face. However, you control the pressure and speed, I did mild to medium pressure and did it pretty quickly. 

My skin didn't hurt or feel weird at all after rolling, so I put the products on. I used Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer after the two. Within less than five minutes you could really tell the areas I went to town on. My forehead looked like I had scratched it incessantly for awhile. I was a little worried that look would linger, but it was gone the next morning. When I woke up a few times that night as I do every night, my face just felt like I'd gotten a moderate sunburn: tight and a little uncomfortable but not unpleasant.

My verdict so far: I definitely think it was worth the $20 or so, even if I don't see long term effects. The next day my MOPS group told me my skin looked really nice and "glowy" and I thought it looked better than usual for a few days. Until that night I went to bed without taking my makeup off. I plan to use it as directed twice a week for six weeks. I'll take an after photo so you can judge the progress.

Last Minute Edit: I used the dermaroller four or five days before writing this post. I suddenly developed dry areas of skin, mainly around my I have a peeling goatee. I started googling around and this is common and normal, as are rough patches of skin. It's just part of the exfoliation process. I'm just keeping it moisturized and it's been no big deal. I just wanted to let you all know!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Some Current eBay Obsessions / Easter On My Mind

Do you ever just cruise eBay, seeing if anything interesting pops up? It's a habit of mine. Kind of a bad habit actually as I usually drain my Paypal account as soon as I have money in it. I love a good bargain and I occasionally end up finding some good deals. And some things that are steals - that later turn up somewhere cheaper.

I love to shop Janie & Jack for Georgia. I don't subscribe to magazines, so I never have the 25% off coupons. But I wait for all of the professional shoppers who do buy at a discount to list items a few dollars below retail. I can usually find sold out things. My best deal to date was a sold out swimsuit that I bought for $28. I actually bought two with the intention of Georgia wearing one this year and selling the second. It was way too big and I was able to sell them for $40 each to make a little spending money.

Here are some of the things I have my virtual eye on right now:

I never, ever, ever like Gymboree things in the store. Then as soon as something sells out I decide I love it and have to have it. I remember not buying this in the store, but now I know Georgia would like it. It is glittery, after all.

I like very classic dresses and pastel colors for Easter, although they don't flatter Georgia's coloring. This one is adorable, though! It's a silk hand-smocked from Janie & Jack.

This one is just straight up adorable and has been on my watch list for awhile. It's from seller *smockedoutfits*. It would be pretty-casual in eyelet, too.

The brighter detail on this one would really flatter Georgia. I may have to cave and buy it for her to wear to church.

I've honestly been watching this dress for about a year. Georgia has gotten really vocal about what she will and won't wear, so I'm still on the fence. I'd probably get the ivory lace removed, but it would be amazingly pretty on her.

We have this dress in coral and it is stunning! I had it shortened to knee-length. The skirt has crinoline so it's very flouncy, so of course my girly-girl loves flouncing around in it. She also loves the tap-tap-tap of her church shoes when she walks. She is really something!

Dying over this Janie & Jack from last year's Nantucket Breeze line. If I remember correctly my store didn't carry baby sizes (not sure if they made a baby line), but I'm hoping I can scout out a 3T this year.

I also keep coming across this Sonoran Rain lipglass from the Blogger's Obsession line, that apparently sold out pretty quickly. I would ordinarily never buy a cosmetic from eBay, but it's sold out in stores and I'd like to try it. However, when I search for images, it doesn't look all that great on people. I think I'm watching some NEW for $9.99, so I may take the plunge.

Do you shop ebay? And more importantly, have you tried Sonoran Rain? 

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Best Books of 2014

I set a goal last January 1 to read 20 books. I ended up reading 29! This year's goal is a bit of a reach at 30 because I felt like I read a lot in 2014. But with my resolution of turning off phone notifications for email and Facebook & going to bed earlier, I just might find the time.

Here's my best of the best list. And I'm pretty sure I am currently reading the best book I will read in 2015, so be looking for my review in the next couple of weeks!

The Affair
This was one of the books my book club voted to read (I didn't make it to any meetings, but I read all of the books). I didn't vote on it because I thought it sounded whiny and unrealistic, but it really surprised me. The story is told from three incredibly differing perspectives - the wife, the husband, and the mistress. That's what makes it so good! The books I usually read show the wife's view and occasionally the other woman's, but rarely are they in detail like this. It also takes place in Boston. I had a trip there a month after finishing this book and got reservations at a certain restaurant that was mentioned.

The Appeal
I love a John Grisham and this one is one of the best. David works in water safety, so it was particularly interesting for me. Since it was very informative on that front, there was less of the legal mumbo-jumbo that he typically includes. Without giving it away, I will say that there are some good twists in it that make it unlike the usual little man vs. big corporation books.

The Bell Jar
I'm probably the only woman of my age (and intelligence, haha, did you catch that?) that hasn't read any of Plath's books or poetry. I've had it at the back of my mind to do so for awhile, so when I saw this one on display at the library I picked it up. Depression and mental illness are issues close to my heart and the book wasn't earth shattering. What makes it such a good read is studying up on her life and death before you begin it. It's fiction based 99.9% on her life. It wasn't published in America for quite awhile for fear of it hurting her mother. Once it became imported contraband it got published here.

Heartbreak Hotel
I'd had this one on my Amazon wish list for years and years. It was recommended on some message board and I could never find it at a library. I really like reading about the 1960s and '70s, Southern lifestyle and (don't laugh) college sorority life back then. Not that I've read too many books like that, but when I come across one it's usually good. This was a nice little glimpse into that privileged era and how a debutante dealt with coming of age in desegregation times. In Alabama. So a little dramatic.

Silver Star
In the airport on the way home from Boston I found this book along with a note telling me to read it then pass it on. It's by the same author as Glass Castles so I knew it would pique my interest. Again, something about the 1970s in the South... This one deals with some harsh topics that happen even more today. There were several times when I was literally holding my breath for paragraphs at a time, hoping certain things didn't happen.

The Kitchen House
Another one I picked up from a display at the library, and I didn't think I'd like it all that much. It was amazing though! The story is based on a white orphan who was raised by the black slaves on a large Southern (again!) landowner's tobacco farm. It touched on plenty of topics that we all know happen(ed) but never talk about. I had tears in my eyes for many, many parts of it. It may take awhile to really get into it, but I promise it is worth your time.

The Witness Wore Red
Although I don't usually care to read non-fiction, books about crimes or lifestyles totally different from mine are quite fascinating. The witness wearing red in this book is a woman my age who was one of 90-something wives to the big FLDS polygamist priest. It was just jaw dropping - from the way she was raised and lived with so many siblings, to her parents' complete...I don't even know the word for it. Amazing and makes me think of sister wives in a totally different way than I did before.

Number the Stars
This was one of the first "big" books I read in elementary. It was my first introduction to the Holocaust, which became a lifelong interest of mine. I wanted to re-read it from an adult perspective and pick up on the things I probably missed as a child (like using cocaine to throw off scent dogs). While it wasn't as altering this time around, I still enjoyed it and suggest for everyone to read for a German child's understanding of what is happening to her Jewish friend. The author is still a favorite of mine, and lots of her books take place in Texas.

Lookaway, Lookaway
I grabbed this one from the Mobile library while I was visiting David's parents and....oh dear! It's the story of a moneyed Southern family with more drama than a soap opera. Let's see. There's a dad obsessed with his Civil War reenactments, children with all sort of sexual issues and a mom trying to cover and pretend everything is normal. I laughed through the whole thing. Very interesting to me that it was written by a male as it was definitely a chick read.

I've linked to Amazon so you can check out more reviews of these books. I'm a huge fan of libraries, where I got most of these books. If you read a kindle or decide to purchase one, I'd love for you to use my link - it'll fund some more books for me. 

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Oh That Mommy Guilt

I don't do Mommy Guilt. I've always thought it was a silly term. Guilt in general - I'm a pretty big believer that nobody can make you feel guilty but your own self. Well, and maybe God. Although in the grand scheme of things I doubt it's all that big of a deal if you didn't hand puree organic baby food for your little sprout. I don't think He has much of an opinion on breast vs. bottle, attachment parenting vs. daycare, or co-sleeping vs. crying it out. So really, it is just yourself. And those Huffington Post articles that are just published to start vile, sleep-deprived wars in the comment section.

There are occasions when I think "Well, I could be doing this better/differently/healthier/stop-taking-shortcuts," but 99.9% of the time, I'm very comfortable with the parenting choices I make. Even those involving Chick-Fil-A eaten in the carseat because it's right next to Starbucks, which has an insanely long line at all hours of the day and I just need some peace and quiet and zoning out to the radio without somebody crying about chicken nuggets while I wait for a dose of caffeine.

Well, today I got some of it. Not from a blog or another mom I admire, but from myself.

We've had a very hectic three weeks. All of the Christmas craziness, traveling out of town, having guests for a week. In the middle of it all, I had one emergency root canal which didn't fully heal the infected nerve (so almost a second procedure), strep throat (which left me completely out could not get out of bed for three or four days), and a problem with my hip making it painful to get around (requiring weekly doctor, physical therapy and cortisone injections). Seriously - am I just falling apart? Needless to say, our little routine has been off and Georgia and I haven't spent as much time together as we usually do.

By this morning we were both ready to get back into the swing of things, I could tell. The holiday decorations are packed away, we have a spot for all the new toys, our guests have gone home, and all of the unhealthy snacks are in the garbage. But one of my good friends is about to have a baby any day and we didn't get to celebrate her birthday since I was sick. I was looking forward to treating her to a pedicure and lunch.

Georgia was really excited about going to play with her friends Cooper and Chompers (her nickname for little brother) for a couple of hours while the mommies caught up. But on the way home she suddenly said in a very little voice, "Mommy I miss you. I wish you didn't have to go with Mrs. Lore. I wish you could have played with us." And oh how my heart broke.

Now I know that this child is not deprived of me or of any playtime or attention. In fact, she is pretty spoiled in those areas of life. But of course her comment got my mind racing and I realized how little time I've spent with her over the holiday crazy weeks. It's usually just us and I love it that way. We cook breakfast together, cuddle to watch a little TV together, she even gets out her little makeup kit and gets ready with me. Yet I felt horribly guilty for leaving her for three hours where she spent the entire time playing with one of her best friends. What in the world is wrong with me?

I'm a mommy, that's what. 

As much as I've rolled my eyes about Mommy Guilt, now I get it. It's that feeling that giving it your all still isn't enough when you need a break or need to think about someone or something outside your household. That feeling that somehow one of your teeny little faults or missteps is going to have your teenager sneaking out the window and burning down the school. That your preschooler might grow up to be another Charles Manson because you needed to park him in front of the TV to call and get a medical bill straightened out. 

The fact that you have that Mommy Guilt - it's a good thing. Those parents that don't ever question whether their choices are right and worry, even after praying and fretting, that they're making the wrong one? Well, hopefully they're not, but that's probably who is raising our next Mr. Manson.

So my advice - and this advice is as much for myself as it is for anyone reading: keep questioning yourself along the way if you must, but have complete confidence in your choices; and don't let anyone (especially yourself!) make you feel that you are anything less than an amazing mother.

And on those chicken nugget days, just smile your way through the Starbucks line because all she's going to remember when she's older are those fun times when you let her have the greasy "crunchy" nuggets in the car.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Goals for 2015

I'm the type to make lofty goals without a real plan to meet them. By February I am always frustrated so I give up. This year I decided to do things a little differently.

For 2015 I'm setting goal categories and a mini goal for each month. At the end of the month I'll reassess and see what worked and how I can step up or look at what needs to be done differently

Home Use the cleaning and organization calendars I set up for each day. I found several on Pinterest (see my 2015 Goals board) and made them over to meet our goals. One of my other goals for the year is to buy several decorative accessories or pieces of furniture for the house, so I'm setting a small goal of cutting back on spending elsewhere in January to save for kitchen light fixtures, entry chandalier or living room rug.

Getting Rid of Clutter Set up an ebay account and sell 12 things in January between there and Facebook sites.

Blogging  Blog twice a week, including an outfit of the day post for one week and a couple of day in the life type posts.

Finances Set up budget and record all expenditures.

Exercise Hit the gym or do some home workouts (I've started saving a few on a YouTube playlist). I can skip days, but never two days in a row! I've found that I do need days off, but once I skip twice it's difficult to get back into the swing of things.

Eating No Coke, sweet tea, sugary drinks or ice cream. Eat at least one piece of fruit daily.

Bible Do five daily devotions a week, using books and study guide I've already bought.

Marriage Have one date night a month. Make a thoughtful list of things I appreciate about David.

Social  Host a girls' night. Have neighbors over for dinner or drinks.

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