Prepping For Baby #2: Three Things I Wish I Had The First Time Around

As much as I’d like to think this second pregnancy thing is a cake walk, it’s isn’t. The “been there, done that” mentality is there, but only to a certain degree. I hate to say it, but the fact is my pregnancy symptoms have been totally different than with Gia. As far as resting goes….well there is no rest when you have a toddler!

For me, there’s more to this than just getting my body ready to have our next baby. I’ll be adjusting my social life once again, my home and preparing a two-year-old for the arrival of our new family member.

You would think that after giving birth only two years ago that I’d be pretty well versed on doing the whole newborn thing again. Truth is, mom brain is real and I’ve forgotten a lot about those early days. I know most of it will come back to me, but new babies bring on different challenges.

One thing I do know about being a second-time mom is there are a few items that I’ll be needing that I didn’t have with Gia. Two of the three things I need for this go-round are solely for baby #2 and one thing is for both children.

So what are they you ask?

#1: Dockatot

Dockatot is a multifunctional sleep aid for your babe. It’s like it’s own little bed that can also serve as a place to sit, do tummy time, play and snuggle. It’s also great for safe co-sleeping and you can bring it anywhere. I don’t plan on using it for co-sleeping, as we did not co-sleep with Gia, but never say never.

I like the idea that it will give the new baby that cuddled feeling while sleeping. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s amazing and helps babies sleep for longer durations.

Gia was in a bassinet that has been in my family for years. While I love the idea of continuing that tradition, I also want to do what I think works best for us and baby. Thankfully Gia was a good sleeper, so I pray this baby will be the same!

#2: Rock ‘n’ Play

The great thing about having a sister-in-law who had her second baby before me is that I can ask her tons of questions. One thing that she got for her second boy was a Rock ‘n’ Play. She used it all the time for her baby. If it weren’t for her encouraging me to get one I’m not sure I would have thought of it myself.

What I think I’ll use it for most is to have a free hand to help Gia. Eventually when I’m home alone with two kids, I will quickly need to figure out how to balance their needs. I’m sure a lot of Gia’s needs will require me to set the baby down in a safe, portable environment. What’s great is that I’ll be able to bring it outside while Gia is playing.

There are quite a few versions of the Rock ‘n’ Play out there. I was able to purchase one on Amazon Prime Day for $30 off the original price. Who doesn’t love a deal?!

#3: Double Stroller

Stroller shopping can be overwhelming because there are so many options. With Gia we bought a Peg Perego stroller and car seats. Naturally, since I loved them so much I immediately gravitated towards the brand’s Duette Piroet stroller.

The hardest part about deciding on what kind of double stroller to get was the side-by-side set up versus the tandem set up. Ultimately, after seeing both options from Peg Perego in person, Craig and I agreed the tandem version is what we prefer. My gut says it will be easier to maneuver and it will just work well with our lifestyle.

Beyond these items, I’m pretty much good to go. I have plenty of beautiful clothes that I’m excited to see our new girl in. We have all the toys and play accessories a baby could need. The last few things I need to do are along the lines of rewashing baby clothes, packing a hospital bag and making sure I have what I need for my own recovery.

I’m sure if we were to have a third child, I’d have a brand new blog post listing what I’d need for baby #3 that I didn’t have the first two times. There’s always new and amazing products, as well as things we think we just need to have.

For now, we are very happy to become a family of four and we’re planning on keeping it at that. Four has always seemed like the right number for us.

Now I just need to stick out eight more weeks of being hot and uncomfortable. We can’t wait to meet our newest girl. Gia is especially excited….for now! ūüėČ

Xo

Foolproof Funfetti Birthday Cake

Soooo, we’ve got a two-year-old now!! ¬†How bizarre is that?! ¬†I can totally relate to the saying, “The days a long and the years are short,” because that’s how the last two years have felt. ¬†Parenthood brings you lows and the highest of highs. ¬†It’s truly amazing how full your heart feels from raising a little one, and celebrating Gia’s birthday definitely made me feel all of the things!

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t turn into an emotional mess over Gia turning two this weekend. ¬†The biggest thing I felt though was pride. ¬†Pride over the little person she’s becoming, pride in myself for being the best mom I can be, and pride in my husband for showing me time and again why marrying him was the best decision ever.

This year for Gia’s birthday I knew I didn’t want a huge bash like we had for her first birthday party. ¬†Number one, it’s just a lot of work to do. ¬†Number two, at eight months pregnant there isn’t as much energy left to be the hostess with the mostess. ¬†Therefore, Craig and I agreed that inviting our immediate family who lived in the area would be the best way to celebrate. ¬†We kept it easy and very summery by having a BBQ that included Craig’s tri-tip, grilled veggies, watermelon and my potato salad. ¬†(My potato salad is damn good and so simple, so I might have to share that with you too!) ¬†No birthday is complete without cake, and this year that meant a homemade funfetti Elmo cake.

About a month ago I decided to recipe test before making the cake for Gia’s special day, and I’m really glad I did! ¬†Initially I found a recipe from Food52 for funfetti that I tried out. ¬†To my surprise, it was an overly oily cake. ¬†I was really disappointed because I own two cookbooks by Food52 that are excellent, so I figured this recipe would work out fine. ¬†Wrong! ¬†I mentioned the cake mishap to my mom and she said she had a recipe from one of her cookbooks for a foolproof funfetti cake. ¬†Of course I made her send it to me and I tried it out right away. ¬†Let’s just say that my husband, friends and neighbors were please that I had decided to recipe test cakes. ¬†Thank goodness all this test cake off my hands, or else I might have eaten my weight in cake leading up to Gia’s birthday. ¬†Pregnant lady problems can be very stereotypical at times!

I was really happy with how my cake turned out and was even happier with the cute cake topper I ordered from Etsy.  For those who asked if I would share the recipe for the cake, here it is:

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Like I mentioned before, this is not my own recipe and I believe it came from “Great American Cakes.” ¬†To make the cake my own, I dyed the frosting a dusty pink and used rainbow sprinkles to cover the sides of the cake from top to bottom. ¬†The three layers made it feel decadent and special, while still remaining light and delicious. ¬†It was a hit with the birthday girl and my entire family. ¬†Craig’s dad and mine even went back for a second helping! ¬†That’s always a compliment in my book.

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Overall, Gia’s second birthday party was perfect (although it wasn’t without a good two-year-old tantrum). ¬†Like most toddlers, she’s spoiled beyond belief and loved to no end. ¬†I’m pretty sure she felt like the rockstar that we all think she is. ¬†As much as I don’t want the years to fly by, I can’t wait to do it again for her next year. ¬†Making my daughter’s birthday cake is a privilege and something that I will continue to do over the years, just like my mom did for me.

I hope you all enjoy the recipe as much as we did!

xo

Two Books To Help Me With My Independent (almost) Two-Year Old

Scores and scores of moms, and parents in general, are overcome with stress. ¬†Although at times we can see humor in stressful times, insight and occasionally find a practical solution to our stress, there’s still that serene lifestyle that is out of reach. ¬†Yes, when you have adult responsibilities such as a career, children, running a household, ¬†and financial commitments, stress is just part of the everyday norm.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself and totally transparent, my source of stress right now is my almost two-year old and the worries that most other parents face. ¬†Most days, Gia is my little shadow – she’s eager to please me, mimics everything I do and is an overall very happy and well-mannered child. ¬†Like any toddler, she has her moments and now those moments come around a little bit more often as she is tasting what it’s like to be an independent big girl.

The last week or two has brought about new behaviors that are usually directed towards me, mommy. ¬†After all, I am with her everyday, all day, so it’s only natural that she would show defiance and resistance to me more than daddy or grandparents. ¬†We all want to raise respectful, well-behaved kids who make good choices, but it’s not so easy at this age.

About two weeks ago when I took Gia to use the potty she was adamant about not going (because she was very busy playing) but it had been far too long without her taking a potty break. ¬†Most of the time if she says “no” to going potty, I honor her request but keep a very close eye on her because she usually refuses to go only to exert her power. ¬†This particular time I wasn’t going to bend because we were out in public and business needed to be handled before getting in the car. ¬†The short of it is that she smacked me right on the head because she didn’t want to go. ¬†This was a brand new behavior that was kind of shocking to me. ¬†I’m sure she’s seen other kids do this at our gym daycare, but I was still emotionally hurt by it.

This week, after an activity packed visit to San Diego to see her cousins, Gia has had more frequent outbursts that are quite obviously the “terrible twos.” ¬†I’ve always kind of hated that term, but it’s now truly starting to rear it’s ugly head just a couple weeks before her second birthday.

Learning to discipline such young child who is obviously very bright can be confusing and frustrating, to say the least.  There are so many methods of discipline and ways to parent, and everyone who has their opinions about it.  Craig and I are approaching this new phase of toddlerhood with as much patience as possible and with open minds.

I think that the hardest part about all of this for me is that I expect so much of Gia. ¬†I don’t expect perfection by any means, because I expect that of no one. ¬†It’s just difficult to remind myself that she still is quite young. ¬†Just because she’s grasped so many things at such a young age makes me forget that she’s still not quite two years old. ¬†Her mind is still developing and the concept of discipline is hard at this age. ¬†I mean, really, what kid her age will sit in time-out, even if just for one minute?! ¬†(If your kid does this, my hat is off to you and you can message me immediately about how you make that happen!)

What I’m getting at is that these little humans are evolving every single day and sometimes that means the days feel a little bit longer. ¬†I like to share these normal hiccups and challenges because as parents we ALL go through it but don’t always share about it. ¬†Sometimes it’s just nice to commiserate, simply to know that you aren’t alone!

As a result of our opinionated and independent girl developing new habits, we are slowing down and taking the time to explain things at her level. ¬†She has such empathy for her age and knows when people are hurt or even if feelings are hurt. ¬†If she hears me say to another adult that I was upset she immediately tells me, “Mommy, don’t worry.” ¬†The fact that she tells me this means we’re doing something very right.

We are just continuing to plow through and prepare her for life the best way we know how. ¬†We’ll continue to make mistakes along the way, but we’re all just winging it anyway!

In case any of you are going through this phase of toddlerhood, I’d like to share two books that I just ordered through Amazon to help me out: ¬†“Hands Are Not For Hitting” and “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.”

I know that people laugh about these kinds of books because they weren’t accessible to parents of earlier generations and their kids “turned out fine.” ¬†While that may be true, just because there’s new knowledge and support in the world doesn’t mean it’s bad or that we can’t be open to it.

Happy Friday my friends!

xo

Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day: Both Are Important!

Regardless of your views and beliefs about religion, Christmas is easily one of the most recognized holidays across the globe. ¬†So why is it that Easter, another very important religious holiday, can’t compete with the month-long extravaganza that is Christmas? ¬†Easter is clearly the runner-up to Christmas, whether we want to admit it or not.

Likewise, retailers and bloggers have done their best to whip shoppers into a frenzied state prior to this Father’s Day weekend. ¬†Despite these efforts, Father’s Day seems to be treated with far less reverence than Mother’s Day. ¬†It’s no secret that Mother’s Day gets a lot of attention, but I’ll argue that Father’s Day doesn’t typically receive the same level of interest. ¬†Why is that???

When May rolls around each year, florists, chocolatiers and the trendiest brunch joints extol the importance of showing profound gratitude for all mothers. ¬†The way Father’s Day is marketed and treated with far less seriousness. ¬†Even though I shouldn’t be complaining, this kind bugs me.

Yes, Gia’s dad, Craig, is a lovable buffoon at times, but he is by no means a dimwitted figure who couldn’t possibly be expected to be bothered with feeding or bathing our daughter without first being issued step-by-step instructions. ¬†(I am guilty of leaving him detailed lists of what to do with Gia, as well as checking in on them when they’re alone, but part of that is me just being me.)

It’s 2018 people. ¬†Men are more involved than ever in the day-to-day caring of their kids. ¬†There are countless mornings when I’m on my way to the gym, with Gia in tow and I see the neighborhood elementary school yard filled with fathers. ¬†They’re making sure their kids don’t jump into the street, holding backpacks and giving hugs and kisses before seeing their little ones off to school. ¬†My local parks overflow with dads who seem especially doting.

Just yesterday as I walked into my gym, a member who I’m friendly with asked, “Where’s the baby?” ¬†I kindly said that she was with daddy having fun until I got home and it was his turn to head to the gym for his workout. ¬†What I wanted to say was, “She’s home alone watching TV and making sure the house doesn’t burn down.” ¬†Come on – where do you think she is?? ¬†Why are fathers seen as the “babysitters” and moms are seen as the “real” parent?

In my humble opinion, it’s insulting to all moms and dads. ¬†Yes, there may or may not be more pressure and unrealistic expectations placed on mothers, but this message we are sending is that fathers are less devoted. ¬†That’s simply not the case. ¬†Dad’s are not an afterthought and it’s time we start acting like Father’s Day is just as important as Mother’s Day – because it is!

I’m sure all of us want the father figures in our lives to feel special on Father’s Day each and every year. ¬†In my family, the fathers are probably okay without a purchased gift, but I enjoy shopping for the occasion anyway. ¬†For some, Father’s Day may be more challenging to shop for than Mother’s Day, but remember, it’s not about the gift. ¬†Just like mom, dad wants to feel appreciated and be told that he’s doing a good job.

I am not the sole nurturer of my child because my husband plays a huge role in that as well. ¬†Craig, if you’re reading this, you are a fantastic father. ¬†Expressing my thanks publicly like this for all of your unconditional love will never be enough. ¬†Your contributions to this family exceed all expectations. ¬†You are our provider, protector and a strong individual that we all should try to emulate. ¬†Thank you for never shying away from wiping a dirty baby bum, or putting our daughter to sleep. ¬†I appreciate the selfless care and protection you provide to us on a daily basis. ¬†We love you beyond measure.

Here’s to all of the fathers out there. ¬†May all your days with your family be filled with love, but especially so this Father’s Day.

xo

More Than A Wannabe

Everyone is a blogger these days. Whether you’re a journalism student hunting for a platform (I was one!), a makeup lover with on fleek contouring skills, or just a “normal” person like me who enjoys posting about your real life, anyone can be a blogger.

Ask any truly successful blogger or influencer and I’m sure they’ll tell you the struggle is real. Not everyone has ideas for blog posts just flooding their brains, let alone coming up with enticing blog post titles to catch the attention of a follower. Hell, this rings true for me and I just do this stuff for myself, not a big audience. I guess it’s kind of like my journal and I’m hoping I grow by sharing it with others, whether they care about the content or not.

Even though I’m just a sometimes blogger whose following is mostly family that I’ve bribed into reading along, part of me still would love to somehow make this hobby a job.

Yeah, I’m not organized like these Instagram influencers and fashion bloggers who post daily, but I’m passionate about trying to show others that we are all more alike than we may know. I might not have the photoshop skills for this, let alone a fancy camera…..hello iPhone! But, I’ve got gusto and I think I’m a decent storyteller, writer and I’m a realist. (Did I just compliment myself? Go me!)

At the beginning of this blogging rendezvous there may have been a time or two where I’ve wondered why I’m not famous and getting freebies in the mail. I’m sure I’ve also pissed people off, or at the very least, annoyed people with things I’ve written. I’ve gotta share posts to put myself out there, so my skin has gotten thicker.

I’ve thought about trying to add more glamour to my everyday life, but again, let’s keep it real. Most days are spent bare-faced with day 3 (or was it 4) hair and chasing my firecracker toddler. I’m no Julia Engel, Rachel Parcell, or LaTisha Springer – not even close when it comes to the blogging world. (Ladies, go follow them!)

What I do have that these other bloggers don’t have is an innate drive to share real life moments (good and bad), to try and not be so filtered, and to write thoughtful posts that allow me to remain totally true to myself.

I may never have a following and I definitely don’t have the aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed that these other bloggers do. I may always struggle with the tone of my blog, for fear of others thinking I’m an over-emotional wacko. My main reasons for writing and sharing the things I do is to sort my own thoughts out, to learn from my own mistakes, and to share my limited, yet still valuable life experience as a young mom.

I feel funny saying, “I’m a blogger,” but isn’t that what I am? I have this blogging platform that I contribute to on an almost regular basis, so I’m no wannabe. I’m going to own it from here on out, whether I get sent goodies from companies or not. I’m having a good time doing what I’m doing. That’s what this whole thing should be about anyway!

Putting my thoughts and opinions out there has been hard at times, but it’s teaching me to continue to focus on what’s important in my own life. Plus, challenging myself mentally like this is good for my emotional health!

Go ahead and put yourself out there! Own your truth, whatever it may be. Things might feel uncomfortable, but the growing you’ll do afterwards is so worth it.

Xo

Not So Frequent Flyer

For those of you who follow my Instagram account, @mrsbennigson, you already know that Gia and I took off for a weekend adventure.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wanting to head to Newport Beach to visit my brother. We don’t get to see him all the time and in turn, he doesn’t get to see Gia on the regular. We do what we can with technology and FaceTime, but the real deal is always our first choice.

Initially this trip was just going to be my mom coming down to visit Zach – I always have her for Mother’s Day, so Zach was long over due to have some mom time with her. I thought this would also be a good chance to visit Zach with Gia before baby #2 gets here, because Lord knows that we won’t be hopping on a plane with a toddler and newborn right away.

First of all, my hat is off to parents who regularly travel by air with their little ones. Flying can be stressful with or without kids – delays and being surrounded by loads of people means we aren’t really in full control.

Now, I know a flight from Oakland to Orange County is nothing compared to a transcontinental or international flight, but we had to start somewhere! Thankfully our flight was just over an hour and I armed myself to the teeth to make sure Gia and I would be prepared.

I have to say, we had it pretty easy when it came to luggage and necessities. My mom opted to drive down a day ahead of us because that’s just how it worked out. Luckily enough, I sent the stroller, car seat and our luggage with her. Yes to semi-free hands in the airport! All I needed to concern myself with was the little umbrella stroller and backpack with extra undies, snacks and books for Gia.

I think my biggest worry was the whole potty situation and not being able to get up on the plane during takeoff and landing. Fortunately, Gia was awesome about using the potty exactly when I needed her to.

I tried to think ahead and reserved our seat close to the lavatory. (My pregnant brain/mom brain didn’t fail me with that idea!) Once we boarded the plane Gia just hung on to me so she could snuggle, which is a rarity these days. Right after takeoff she dozed off and later woke before our decent. I offered her some crackers and we took a potty break before getting ready to land. Success!

Once we deplaned we were promptly greeted by my mom, or Gagi (gah-ghee), as Gia likes to call her. Needless to say, I was so proud of Gia while she was at the airport and on the plane. I think she must have been proud of herself too.

Anytime we try something new and unfamiliar it has the potential to be a little nerve wracking. I knew we would ultimately do fine on our first flight (and without daddy), but we all want things to go smoothly, especially with tots in tow.

As I’ve said on my blog many times before, just go for it. Don’t let your nerves or fears stop you from anything! Take the flight, apply for that dream job, go on the date, follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. Once you do it you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll wonder what your hang up was in the first place.

Maybe I’m a little preemptive in this post, as my flight home isn’t until Monday, but in the spirit of positivity, I’m sure we will do just fine on the way home too. I realize not all flying experiences go as planned, so I’m sure I’ll have more travel stories to share in the future – good and bad!

Happy travels and wishing all of the moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Xo

Raising Strong, Confident Daughters

One thing I’ve already begun to realize over the last year and a half, or so, is that bringing up daughters is complicated: Messages of empowerment and achievement are everywhere, yet depression and anxiety plague so many.

I know these things because I am still a daughter even though I’m now also a mother. I know these things because I never want Gialina and her sister to go through the hard things that I went through. I want to raise my girls to be their best, well-rounded selves despite so many negative outside influences in our world.

During a routine morning not long ago, I was looking in our downstairs mirror. I lifted my shirt to look at my stomach – I’d recently found out I was pregnant with Gia’s sister. I was checking for any signs of a growing baby in my stomach and caught myself feeling a little bit upset. I was upset because I selfishly thought about how hard it will be to watch my body grow through another pregnancy. Although the creation of life is truly an amazing miracle, it can really do a number on a woman’s mindset and body confidence. In my case, I suffered from an eating disorder during my early twenties and although I am healthy today, the negative voices are still there and will always need to be tamped down.

After checking myself out for a quick moment I realized that my daughter Gia had been watching my every move, as she always does. To my surprise and slight horror, she walked over to where I was standing and proceeded to lift her shirt to show her tummy. She clearly was just mimicking mommy, but this instance just goes to show you that your children are always watching, listening and learning from you.

I love having a daughter and I am thrilled to be a girl-mom once again, but nothing annoys me more than when someone says, “Oooh, two girls! You sure are in for it!”

I feel like I was born to parent girls because of the challenges I overcame that tend to overwhelmingly affect women. God gave me not only one, but two girls so that I could teach them to love themselves as much as I should have been loving myself through my eating disorder. I’m excited to be raising two strong little girls, but even this early on it can feel like walking a tightrope.

Part of me is so excited for their future. There are so many female role models out there for them to aspire to be like. Unfortunately, there are also things like stress, anxiety and depression that come with high achievement. When my girls grow up and are doing everything possible to be all that they can, I want them to enjoy it. Like any parent, I want my girls to have boundless opportunity, but more than that, I want them to be happy. The bigger part of that is making sure they are ready for whatever challenges they will someday face.

Know the impact you will have on your child – celebrate their uniqueness, praise their imperfections and instill social confidence.

I know that I will always try to raise strong, confident daughters, but I also realize that they will be who they will be. I can’t make my daughters be something they weren’t meant to be. I just hope and pray that I continue to be the best parent that I can be through their challenging teen years and young adult lives.

Looking at Gia sitting beside me right now also makes me relish the simplicity of toddlerhood. She is completely unfiltered and totally herself in this moment. In a couple of years she will be more aware of the opinions of others, but I hope she holds on to her own opinions while remaining kind, strong-willed and unique.

Xo

My Everyday Makeup and Beauty Must-Haves

I’ve always loved makeup, but over the years I’ve learned that less is more, especially for my lifestyle.

In high school I loved browsing the MAC counter and looking for new lip glosses and eyeshadows. I can’t even tell you how many makeup products I’ve gathered over the years – most of which I still have tucked away. (Don’t worry, I don’t use that old stuff!)

Through my college years and the years after, I stuck to the no makeup look, or a minimally done face. Being that I played softball in college, I didn’t really want to wear anything while at practice or during games.

Now that I’ve hit thirty I know the importance of taking care of my skin and not just worrying about what makeup products I use. If we take good care of our skin and use makeup that works well for us, we can slow down the aging process and look our best while we’re at it!

Today I want to share some of my favorite everyday beauty products that I use, including skincare and makeup.

Most days I go makeup free, but when I’m feeling motivated, or if I’m going somewhere that I’d like to look more polished, these are my go-to favorites of the moment:

  • Laura Mercier Secret Concealer For Under Eyes – A little dab will do ya with this stuff. I apply a small amount of this creamy concealer with my finger by gently dabbing my under eye area. It conceals any darkness and under eye circles. I’m sure there is an appropriate brush to apply this with, but I go for fast and easy.

  • Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage – This stuff is great for if you have any spots of discoloration or blemishes on your face. Unlike the under eye concealer, I do use a brush to apply this. It comes with two colors in the palette, which I blend together and then apply if needed.

  • Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation PowderAnytime I wear makeup I wear this foundation powder. I apply it with my favorite foundation brush, not the sponge that comes with the powder. Do whatever works for you. Many days I skip the first two products I’ve listed and jump straight to this. It cuts down on time and often I don’t need the two concealers.

  • MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Skinfinish Bronzer – This bronzing powder is great and I use it for multiple things. ¬†I do a very natural contour of the cheekbones with it, as well as other parts of my face. ¬†When I’m really pressed for time I skip this step all together. ¬†Another great use for this product that I learned from¬†real beauty bloggers, is to apply the bronzer in the crease of your eyelid. ¬†That’s right, it can act as an eyeshadow. ¬†I love this idea because again, it’s quick and easy, and it gives you just a little bit of color while remaining very natural. ¬†Genius!

  • MAC Cosmetics Sheer Tone Blush – I use different shades of blush, depending on my eye makeup or the time of year. ¬†Lately I’ve been using the shade, “Breath of Plum.” ¬†I would think it would work well for many different skin tones, as it’s a very pretty plum-pink color. ¬†Blush always warms up my face nicely.

  • MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Skinfinish Highlight – Highlight is all the rage these days. ¬†I know some ladies like to wear a lot of highlight….so much that they’d like to be seen from outer space. ¬†More power to ya girl! ¬†I like to just put a small amount on the highest points of my face. ¬†This includes the upper cheekbone area, my temples, cupid’s bow, bridge of my nose and a touch on my chin. ¬†If I don’t want to be glowy that day I just skip it. ¬†My favorite shade is called, “Soft & Gentle.”

We cannot forget to talk about brows and mascara! ¬†I’ve always been someone who likes to take care of my brows because I think they frame your face and really make the rest of your potential makeup look great. ¬†Like many others, I love the Anastasia Beverly Hills line when it comes to my brows. ¬†Here’s what I use and my go-to mascara choices:

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz –¬†This little pencil works wonders! ¬†Depending on your touch and how heavy handed you want to be, you can achieve whatever brow look you want. ¬†I just like to keep my natural shape and fill in the areas that might be slightly sparse. ¬†Natural, yet defined is the balance I always hope to achieve.

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo – I recently switched up my brow routine by trying a powder duo. ¬†When I first started doing my brows I always reached for powder. ¬†I thought I’d see how I like this product from Anastasia, and I really like it. ¬†I feel like I can be a little bit more precise because it requires the use of a brush, which I’ve always been more comfortable with regarding my eyebrows. ¬†I go back and forth between the powder duo and brow wiz – sometimes what I use depends on if I’ve run out of one or the other.

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Synthetic Duo Brush (#12)¬†– This is the best brow brush! ¬†The bristles are nice and tight and the angle is very sharp for easy use. ¬†This is the brush that I use when applying the powder duo above. ¬†I also love that it has a spoolie brush on the end opposite of the angle brush.

  • Lancome Definicils Mascara¬†– I used this mascara for the longest time and I recently revisited it. ¬†The application brush is not big and fat and makes it easy to apply your mascara with precision. ¬†This particular formula really lengthens and separates lashes nicely. ¬†No spider legs here!

  • Le Volume De Chanel¬†– Another favorite of mine! ¬†I’ve been using this mascara on and off for years. ¬†The brush is much fatter and allows you to pump up the volume of your lashes for a little bit more drama – hence the name. ¬†In fact, I’m due to get another tube of this magic stuff.

Last but not least when it comes to makeup, the lip. ¬†I always put something on my lips, especially if that’s all I have time for. ¬†You can always find some type of lip product on me so I don’t get dry or chapped. ¬†Here’s the rundown on my everyday lippies:

  • Christian Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm¬†– I view this little lip product as an amped up chapstick. ¬†I wear it whether I’m bare faced or not. ¬†It is super hydrating and gives me some warmth with a natural color. ¬†If I remember correctly, it now comes quite a few shades. ¬†I think I have them all too.

  • Pat McGrath Lip Fetish Lip Balm – This stuff can be hard to get your hands on. ¬†It frequently sells out online and is a bit more of a splurge, priced at close to $40. ¬†It’s a cleverly packaged, non-pigmented lip balm that is extremely moisturizing. ¬†I feel like I’m indulging when I wear it. ¬†It’s something that is very simple but makes you feel good when you have it on your lips. ¬†Treat yourself!

  • Chanel Rouge Coco Shine – My mom was the one who encouraged me to get a few of these little babies. ¬†These are more like a lipstick, yet are very sheer and give you a bit of color and shine. ¬†They come in so many different shades and if you layer more product on you will get a more exaggerated color. ¬†After having Gia my mom said this is a nice lip product to wear when you don’t have the time or energy for other makeup. ¬†It makes you feel a little bit more pulled together and still is very natural. ¬†Great buy for busy ladies or women who like the sheer look.

Makeup does nothing if you don’t take good care of your skin. ¬†You have to make sure your canvas is clean and clear so that your makeup products look their best, therefore making you feel your best with them on. ¬†My skincare routine is pretty straight forward and I don’t foresee that it will be changing any time soon. ¬†Here’s what I use everyday:

  • Rodan + Fields Redefine Regimen – I’m sure many of you have heard of R + F and have various opinions about it. ¬†Many people are familiar with Proactiv, which was created by Rodan + Fields. ¬†The products that I use are not as geared towards clearing acne as Proactiv. ¬†(Although there are regimens that they make that are.) I use a regimen called Redefine, which is geared towards fighting signs of aging. You can never start too young when it comes to wrinkle prevention. ¬†It’s a three step process that I do twice per day – once in the morning and once at night. ¬†I start with a cleansing mask, followed by a toner, and finish with a moisturizer. ¬†In addition to doing this daily, I use their microdermabrasion paste three times per week in lieu of the cleansing mask. ¬†I swear by this paste! ¬†The first time I used it my skin was beyond soft. ¬†It scrubs away dead skin and really gives you a nice glow after using it. ¬†I’m so much of a believer in these products that I’m also a consultant.

That’s the round up of my makeup and skincare! ¬†I know there’s thousands of awesome products out there and I love trying new things. ¬†Like I already said, I’m no beauty blogger, just a lover of quality beauty products. ¬†I’m positive that there are better things out there than what I use, or better ways to apply these products, so please, be kind – these are just things that work for me and what I enjoy using. ¬†It’s nice to share our favorite things with one another.

Comment with your favorite products or shoot me a message! ¬†I’d love to see what everyone uses!

xo

Our Potty Training Essentials

Okay, so we are on day 11 of this potty training journey. I’m still alive and I haven’t strangled anyone! There have been really great days and days where I feel so defeated. I keep reminding myself this is completely normal and this is a habit that Gia is learning. I’ve realized I need to stop counting the unsuccessful moments and celebrate the successful ones like a crazy lady.

Over the last week and a half or so, I’ve found that there are some products that are absolutely essential for the place we are in time. I wanted to share what we are using and what’s working for us.

First, and most obviously, we have a little potty for Gia to use. We keep it in whatever room she is playing in and will eventually leave it in our bathroom as she continues to master her craft. ūüėČ I wanted to get a potty that was super simple – no bells and whistles. I didn’t want it to be viewed as a toy or to look and feel scary, so I ordered the Baby Bjorn Potty. I got ours off of Amazon for around $20.

These potties come in a variety of colors, but we went with white and gray. Basic, simple, straightforward.

We bring Gia’s small potty with us if we are going out to run an errand or anytime we have to get in the car. I keep it in the back of my small SUV and I give her the chance to use it before we head into a store, as well as before getting back in the car seat.

Over the weekend I placed it on the front passenger seat because I was getting some resistance from Gia. This small change in scenery really helped the focus not be on the potty and let her relax.

When we do go out to do things, we are still very brief and strategic. With that being said, I don’t tote the little potty with us in stores. I have a foldable insert that I keep in my diaper backpack for easy access.

If we go into a store, the first thing I do is locate the restroom and bring Gia in there with me. I do this to let her know where the bathroom is and to show her that it’s not as unfamiliar and scary as it may seem.

Before we started all of this potty training stuff I ordered an insert that didn’t fold. I like it, but after bringing it with us in a nondescript bag when on the go, I decided to keep that one on the big potty at home. The brand of that insert is Cozy Greens, and again, I found it on Amazon. It comes with a sticker chart, but we don’t use it.

Now when we go out we bring our foldable insert, which comes with a washable storage bag! So much more convenient and a bit more sanitary. The brand of this insert is Gimars and it comes with a little owl face on the seat, with a variety of colors.

I know that I mentioned I wanted to keep her potty seats simple, but after facing a few days of resistance, I thought this would be inviting for Gia and take some pressure off of her. I mostly like it because of how small it folds up for travel. I don’t recall the exact price, but I think it was right around $15.

This morning it came to mind that I should order some type of baby doll that has a potty chair. The last few days Gia has brought some of her stuffed animals to her potty to show it to them and “make them go potty.” I did some googling and found that the toy brand Melissa and Doug makes a baby doll that comes with a potty and a few other accessories. Yep, I already ordered it and it will be here today or tomorrow. Gotta love Amazon! The doll was around $22.

Now, I realize that not every child will want or need a doll like this, but I know that Gia will like it. Not only that, but I think it will serve as a fun learning tool for her.

Lastly, whenever we go out I bring multiple changes of clothes. This includes shirts, pants, socks and shoes. You never know how messy things can get. I also bring multiple gallon size ziplock bags for dirty clothes. Another thing I bring is a tub of Lysol wipes. These definitely come in handy, and I wouldn’t have thought of these off the bat.

Let me stress again that every kid is different and will potty train differently. These tools and products are what’s working for us. I also want to tell you that I’ve shed my fair share of tears this past week and a half. If I were able to have a glass or two of wine at the end of the day it might help, but since I’m pregnant that’s out of the question.

I’m definitely learning a lot about myself as Gia learns this new skill. Just as I’ve needed this reminder on a daily basis, I’ll also remind any of you going through this – don’t give up!

Xo

Potty Training: The Good, Bad And Ugly

For the last month and a half or so, I’ve been slightly obsessed with all things potty training. This obsession was spurred by learning a friend of mine started the process with her daughter, who is about four months older than my daughter.

After hearing my friend had taken five days off of work to get the ball rolling, I did some research and ordered a book on potty training to prepare myself for this future milestone. I knew that if my friend’s daughter could do it, so could Gia. Our girls are both very verbal and independent, so why not give them the gift of a clean bum?

I took longer reading the book than I thought because I didn’t want to just rush through it. Also, I couldn’t just finish it in a couple days because, well, LIFE. There’s hundreds of books and opinions out there, so there’s many ways to go about potty training. After all, when we were kids there weren’t all of these resources. Our parents mostly did what they thought was best for us and that’s fine. The way they potty trained, the way I’m potty training and the way you potty train all work for us and our kids. There isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong.” You can expect for everyone to interject their opinions though. Just do what you think is best and ignore the rest.

So, if you’re a parent of a toddler, you may be wondering which book I went with. I ordered Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki, through Amazon. I gave myself about two weeks time to try and not think about potty training after finishing the book, before actually starting.

Craig and I decided our start date would be on his first day off of his work week. This allowed us three days together to try and tackle things as a team. Thank goodness we planned it this way because we needed each other’s support. Don’t get me wrong though, there were times we were very frustrated with one another.

Let me just say that the first day was very hard. As a Type- A individual, it was difficult to let go of the fact that my child would not be good at this in the beginning. Duh, Ashley! How crazy of me to think for one second that my child, who has known only diapers since moments after birth, would magically be a pro at potty training!

I think that as a parent I secretly wished that this process would be smooth sailing and we would magically get it done. No such thing, even when children are bright.

The main reason why I’m sharing part of our experience is to let other parents know that this is hard stuff. Fortunately for me, I have a sister-in-law with a newly turned two-year old son, who started potty training last month. After our first day of potty training I asked her if she experienced the things we were experiencing. Low and behold, they did. The bottom line of this is that potty training takes an insane amount of time, energy and absolute patience. These are all attributes that most parents just white knuckle their way into acquiring. Yep, that’s right – we don’t know everything and that’s totally okay!

For those of you in the first days of potty training, I applaud you and encourage you to push through! If I didn’t have encouragement from my husband, mom, girlfriend and sister-in-law after the first two days, I might have thrown in the towel. You will feel the same way, but DO NOT GIVE IN! It is worth having the most challenging time to see progress. We are currently on day six of our potty training and I am amazed. The sense of pride I feel is huge and what’s even better is seeing the big smile on Gia’s face when she goes on her potty. You can see how proud she is of herself too.

Set yourself up for success and do some research, get a potty, get an insert and have wine ready at the end of the day. It will be hard and we all face different hurdles through this time. Working parents, kids who go to day care and stay at home parents all have a different set of challenges to deal with while hitting this milestone.

Even if potty training sends you to therapy, you can do it! If I can get over the hump and continue to push through, so can you!

Xo