House and Home, Life

Tiny baby laundry and minimalism

This past weekend I started doing baby laundry. We have been very, very fortunate in that a few of our friends are parents of boys who have outgrown a lot of clothing and other baby supplies. This means that we have been able to accumulate a good collection of things for baby Jack in a variety of sizes and seasons. Our little guy is going to want for very little in the way of clothing for awhile. I sat down on Saturday and went through the piles, organizing things by size in an attempt to get a sense of what we have and any gaps in what we need.

Once the piles were made and I started to do the laundry I found myself having a little bit of a panic attack. Up to this point my anxiety has come from financial concerns, largely things like having enough money for maternity leave, to get all of the things we will need, to pay for day care, etc. This time, however, I was freaking out over stuff. I haven’t gotten everything washed and put away and already just one size of Jack’s little outfits takes up the entire chest of drawers that was supposed to hold all of this things. Then I looked around the room trying to figure out various options for where I could add additional storage and realized that I, as an adult person, have far too many things.  It made me think about how I want my son to view life and the world and if I want him to be mired down in the accumulation of things.

I don’t.

My mother was a bit of a hoarder. She had a lot of things, a lot of collections, and she didn’t get rid of much. Since her passing it has been a great deal of work and effort on the part of my father to sort through her things and decide what to keep and what to move on. I’ve been starting to do some of that myself with things I held onto only because Mom felt like I should. Now that I’m expecting my own child, though, I don’t want to have a lot of stuff. I want to trim down, keep what matters and what is needed, and make sure that there is always room. Being able to effectively have a clean house is a perk. So as I work my way through tiny baby laundry I find myself thinking about how to streamline my life. The next several weeks are pretty much back-to-back busy, with house guests, a trip to New Orleans, my brother’s wedding shower, a makeup gig, and probably my own baby shower. I may have only one or two weekends to dig in and clear things out. I’m still working on my plan, but I know for sure that I want it done. Fewer things, more time, more family time.

Funny how it takes a little thing to make you realize the importance of the little things.

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Life

Currently obsessed with…The Olympics

I love the Olympics. In general, I don’t mind which Olympics it is (winter or summer games) but I do have a soft spot for swimming competitions. Watching pretty much any of the swimming events makes me miss the sport even if the last time I jumped into the pool with racing on my mind ended pretty horribly. Pro tip, folks, when your doctor tells you that you can’t swim until your stitches are out and incision is healed (especially when said stitches are in your chest) you listen. I chose to just get back in the water and ended up with an infection that made me fear the water for a long time to come.

But watching the talented athletes that listen to their doctor’s advice is truly a wonderful thing. Team USA has some amazing swimmers, like Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. Watching them is a treat, but the swimmer that really got my heart this year was Yusra Mardini of the Refugee Olympic Team. I feel like she deserves a medal for her heroic act of pulling seventeen other refugees to safety by swimming more than three hours in the Mediterranean. Absolutely amazing and moving. She didn’t make it to finals for her event, but in my mind she’s a winner.

I’m also watching gymnastics because who doesn’t? I’ve always been fascinated gymnastics, but it was never a sport that I could do. I remember trying gymnastics out as a kid, but it was quickly pretty evident that I was not cut out to be  a gymnast. I’m too tall and have too long of legs…effectively kicking myself in the face on a vault. Whoops. But my lack of attachment to the sport doesn’t make the watching of it any less fun for me. In fact, it might make it more fun because I’m in awe.

So that’s what I’m up to. Watching the Olympics, procrastinating on some household projects, and trying to stay cool. What are you up to?

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House and Home

One corner at a time

I talk about it a lot, almost to the point of pride: I’m not a picture-perfect adult. My house is lived in to the point of sometimes being cluttered (even as I type this my carpets need vacuumed and I probably need to do dishes). I oversleep more often than I’d like. I leave the house without makeup, forgetting things, and most of my breakfasts are from the drive through. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a valid way to live, but it doesn’t match up to the standards or the idea I have of who I am. A long time ago (think high school and early college) I was that girl who had it together, was tidy and organized, and pretty much should have started a “how to be awesome” blog back on my Packard Bell desktop behemoth powered by 56k modem on dialup.

I would have killed it at the blog game back then. Homemade cupcakes, anyone?

The older I get the harder it is to live your life contrary to how you see yourself. One might say that the obvious answer is to just embrace who I am now and put the past away, but I’m not always one for the obvious. Sometimes I like to make changes because I like something else better. I’m not going to pretend: I was actually, truly happier with clean carpets and being organized. Did it take a little more time? Sure! Did it make my life easier and give me less stress? Oh heck yes. To that end I spend Saturday taking on an area that would have the most impact and make me feel accomplished.

I took on my master bedroom.

The major issues with my bedroom are usually straightforward: laundry not put away, a very cluttered dressing area, not putting jewelry back where it belongs. I come home from work, I take things off, I drop them wherever, I go relax as much as I can. The door to the bedroom being closed all the time provides an all too tempting dumping zone since no one goes in there except D. and myself. This private mess is largely why I chose this space first, but also because if I can start my day in a clean space it is inspiring. Start good, be good, right? So my three prong approach was simple: 1) create a dressing station where my jewelry can be displayed and kept in one place, 2) put away all of the laundry so I have an accurate idea of what my wardrobe looks like, and 3) give everything a general cleaning.

The jewelry/dressing station took me seven damn hours, but it was worth it. I started by emptying a small, child-size chest of drawers that has lived in a corner of my closet for storage for years, but usually ends up just as junk drawers. Then, I gathered up all of my jewelry and sorted them into categories (pins, earrings, pendants, necklaces, watches, misc.) I then designated visual display for the necklaces and earrings, a parking station of daily wear items (like my engagement ring) and then designated drawers for everything else and proper storage of jewelry-related items. I knew I had to go cheap with the visual storage so I found two great options: Command Clear Decorating Clips for my necklaces and a length of ribbon for all of my earrings to hang from. I put both the necklaces and the earrings at eye-level in a well lit area of my closet so that when I open up for the day, I can see what I have quickly and make choices that go with what I’m wearing. One the chest of drawer’s top, I situated my ring stand and a couple of other useful things (like my tray of fragrances).

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So far, I love this. It cost my less than ten dollars, I found things I hadn’t seen in years, and it has made getting ready a breeze. As for putting away the laundry and general cleaning? That was super quick and easy. Now I just have to tackle the next round of laundry.

Laundry never ends.

Neither does makeup. I still have to figure THAT storage out. To be continued…

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Life

Ignorance not bliss.

I’m not generally someone who goes around looking for themes to aspects and experiences in my life, but I’m definitely starting to think that my pregnancy has a distinct theme. That theme is ignorance. This isn’t to say that I’m stupid or unprepared. I’m just having what I am starting to suspect is the experience of every expectant mama, particularly those who are a little older like myself and tend to be among the last of her social group to have kids. I have been around babies and children for years, but when it comes to my own I have no idea what I’m doing. Or what’s going on half of the time.

For starters, the entire early genetic testing has been kind of a disaster. Because I am of what is considered “advanced maternal age” (which is cute terminology for over the age of 35) it was strong suggested that I do the Panorama test. Panorama is one of what is called a non-invasive prenatal test, or NIPT. These tests are newer (Panorama became available in 2013) and examines cell-free fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream to determine risk for certain chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down or Edward’s Syndrome) and can also determine the baby’s sex as early as the first trimester. The idea of not only having some peace of mind, but knowing what my baby was early was pretty tempting. Most insurance companies cover the test. Mine did not (the parent lab for Panorama, Natera, is out of my insurance network) but having some answers early was just enough. I let them do the blood work for the text on my second appointment, at about thirteen weeks.

The test failed. Not enough fetal DNA to test, likely because in addition to being older I’m also a plus size woman. We waited a month and tested again. That’s when ignorance and confusion started to take hold. Now, up to this point I’d had some mixed experience getting my various test results. There is a LOT of blood work involved in pregnancy. I’m still not fully certain of what all they test for, but I kept getting automated calls telling me that my “specimen” was normal. I would have to call to get clarification, play some phone tag, annoy a nurse, then get my answers. I had already been doing this for a few weeks on things when the second Panorama test popped up that they needed more information. What did they need? Good question. No one could tell me. It was like I was magically expected to know. Then they were able to get results and send them to the doctor, but then the doctor’s office claimed they had no results. This went on and on until finally I’m told I’m meeting with a genetic counselor immediately following my anatomy scan.

It's a baby foot! So cute.

It’s a baby foot! So cute.

Anatomy scan went so well. We got to see the baby and find out that it’s a boy! And that everything looked fine, come back in a month for a second scan (a perk of being plus sized and old I guess) then were sent to the counselor. The counselor then proceeded to insist that everything was not fine and that we need to do ANOTHER test because two failed Panorama tests are doom and gloom. The fact that redraw tests don’t always work in plus size mamas seemed lost on her and to be honest the quad screen is a fairly normal test so I decided to do it. The results are apparently in. I got a message about it. And now it’s back to phone tag to find out what the heck is going on with my child (I’m pretty sure he’s fine.)

Medical ignorance. Yep.

I’m pretty solidly certain my son is fine so we decided to tell family and friends at some July 4th celebrations that we are expecting a little boy and what we have chosen to name him. That’s when ignorance part two showed up. Nearly every person we have talked to has asked the same question “so what do you need for the baby?”

Cue the deer-in-headlights face.

I have no damn idea what we need for the baby. We found a great Royals onesie and a shark play suit that I couldn’t resist. We have a few things people have given us. That counts, right? And everyone has an opinion! On everything! I mentioned that I plan to continue to adventure once little man is here and everyone just laughs at me, like “oh silly girl your days of adventure are over!” Really? Because I’m pretty sure I can take a baby on vacation and that it’d make a pretty sweet scrapbook to hand over to him someday to show all the cool stuff we did together. But it’s all left me thinking that I have no idea what I’m doing. Can you just wing it with a baby?

So that’s where I’m at: no clue what’s going on medically, not sure what I even need or if I’m supposed to know what I need, eating as much cake as I can find because right now I want cake. It’s a crazy adventure and right now, I’m not exactly having the most awesome time. My son, though? He’s amazing. I’m pretty excited for him, even if it means I’m ignorant right now.

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Uncategorized

I’m sorry, Alicia, but I’m not giving up my makeup.

Last week Alicia Keys opened up and declared that she was embracing going sans makeup. In a personal and moving essay for Lenny, Keys explained why she was no longer going to wear makeup. In the essay, she equates wearing makeup to covering up her face, mind, soul, thoughts, dreams, etc. She ties makeup to the world sending the message that you’re not good enough as you are and an unrealistic expectation of perfection. I’ve never walked in her shoes. I’m just a plain, ordinary girl from rural Missouri, not a powerhouse of a musical talent from New York. I can’t crawl inside her head or her life and live her feelings, but I can say this: I respectfully disagree with Alicia Keys.

I do agree with her to an extent. There is absolutely a pressure on girls from an early age to fit into some sort of societal or cultural idea of what is “pretty” at that moment in time. When I was a kid it was permed hair, and stonewashed jeans worn tight before the 80s gave way to the 90s and the look went much more natural. I remember begging my mother for a particular outfit at the store, not because I was all that partial to it, but because it was what the girls I admired at school wore. It was what was in style. My mother, smart woman that she was, didn’t get it for me. Instead, she made me a whole batch of sweatshirts herself that I paired with normal jeans that school year. Every day I wish I still had the one with the little tipis on it. It was the best shirt ever and I felt amazing in it. No one was going to call me fashionable, but no one made fun of me, either. My cool came from being who I was and I didn’t lack for friends.

I didn’t wear makeup until high school because of my mom’s rules, and to be honest I didn’t wear it much once allowed to. When I did wear it, though? I wore it for myself. There is something absolutely magical about being able to pick up a brush and utterly transform what you see in the mirror to reflect how you feel inside. Dark, moody day when the PMS was bad and I just wanted to be left alone? I learned pretty fast I could smear on some eyeliner, taking my baby face to something harder and people left me alone. Feeling cheerful and happy and like I had the world on a string? That slick of bright pink lipstick lit up my smile and there wasn’t anyone that didn’t want to hang out with me because I was cordially inviting them all in.

Makeup let me express myself in ways that clothes couldn’t. Makeup gave my inner world a voice and often times more honestly communicated who I was than the words I would say. I could bend my words to play polite, but my face would always tell the truth.

Now that I’m an adult I’m still a big fan of makeup and as a professional makeup artist I still believe firmly that makeup has nothing to do with other people or the opinions of the world around you. Makeup is, and always should be, about the person wearing it. When I put on my makeup, be it a full face with dozens of products requiring an hour of my time or when I’m just dashing on some mascara and calling it good while my dark circles stand out in all their glory, I’m opening up a window to who I am. Made up or all natural, my face is always the most honest thing about me. What you see in the moment is exactly what you get. It’s the same when I am teaching women to do their own makeup or applying it to a client. I say it all the time: I don’t do makeovers. A makeover implies something is wrong and needs fixing. I do application. I work with the canvas in front of me. I’m just a girl with a brush helping women make self portraits of how beautiful they are at any given moment. And they are all beautiful, always.

We are all a million things inside and we all have a million faces. Makeup doesn’t cover anything up. It brings it all to light.

Maybe I get that from my mom, who rarely wore makeup herself and when she did wore whatever the hell she wanted to, hanging on to her blue eyeshadow long after society said it was pretty. She did what she wanted and she was the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

I absolutely respect Alicia Keys. I love her music. I love her strength. I love her face, with and without the makeup and I love that she feels so strongly about going makeup-free because there is nothing wrong with that at all. But I won’t be joining her movement. I won’t be giving up my makeup because my makeup doesn’t make me feel less than. My makeup isn’t for society. My makeup is for all of the faces of who I am and gives me another way to be pretty and powerful exactly as I am.  So instead of #NoMakeup? I’m team #BeYourself whatever that looks like for you.

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Life

New Essentials Part One: Face

We had our first regular appointment with the OB yesterday, and I just had my first “I wish someone would have told me about this” moment. I had no idea I was going to end up being a human pincushion! It’s all for a good cause, of course, but I’m going to definitely have to sit down and write about the experience.

Today, though, I’m focusing on the essentials that have been getting me out the door in the morning looking semi-human since my beloved coffee isn’t something I can’t drink a pot at a time anymore. What does a reduced amount of coffee look like for a beanaholic like me? It does not look cute! I’m so exhausted most mornings that a full face of makeup is not happening. I’m lucky I have the energy to wash my hair. To combat this I’ve figured out some simple things that have really helped me and I’m going to be sharing them, starting today with makeup.

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Here are my out the door fast essentials for makeup. First (at least in regards to the photo), let’s start with the blush. That is MAC’s Mountain High. It was part of the Diana Ross collection, which unfortunately means it’s not available currently, but a somewhat similar color (on my skin tone) is Blush All Day. Since being pregnant skin behaves differently and some colors react in ways I hadn’t expected. Thus far this is the only blush I have found that gives me a good flush without pulling red or irritating my skin. It, and the Blush All Day, are very pigmented so a little goes a lot way. The eyeliner is Bobbi Brown Long Wear Eye Pencil in Mahogany. I can’t tell you how much I love this eyeliner. It’s smooth and creamy so it applies easily, but it doesn’t smudge once it sets and I can put it on at six in the morning and still look good by bedtime. Considering that I cry easy lately this is great. Next to that is what has been rocking my brows lately, Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Brow Gel. It’s a natural-looking product that perfectly defines my brow and stays there. I could sleep in my brows and they’d be perfect, and since I nap a lot now, too, I have. I’m currently using the shade Blonde. Rounding out my Bobbi Brown arsenal is the Skin Weightless Powder Foundation in Sand. Buildable, long-wearing, smooth, and not flat-looking on my skin this stuff is the bomb dot com. It’s just enough. Last but not least is Urban Decay’s Naked Skin One and Done. It’s sort of a tinted moisturizer and perfecter and I recently switched into it because my skin has been extra sensitive lately and, at the moment, it is the only foundation-like product not causing me to itch. It doesn’t give a lot of coverage, but it does a great job on redness and generally smoothing out the skin. It makes a great primer of sorts for my Bobbi Brown powder and while I am looking forward to the day I can wear my stick foundation again, this may just have earned a place in my rotation forever.

What products get you out the door in the morning? And for you mamas or soon-to-be mamas, what are your best essentials? I need all the help I can get so let me know in comments!

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Life

Where have you been all my life?

Tomorrow I officially enter my second trimester. That’s pretty exciting, though I’m not quite sure what to expect. I’m fairly certain the ohcrapIdon’tthinkIcandothis anxiety is going to get any better, though I am trying to accept that being one of forty million Americans with anxiety means that being anxious and pregnant is normal. I’ve read the hormonal side effects and the nausea gets better and I am definitely looking forward to that. This past week I’ve been hit with some massive “night nausea” I am in no hurry to experience again. It’s kind of funny; for all we as human beings know about pregnancy it is ultimately very uncharted water once you find yourself in it.

I will just keep reminding myself that I’m growing a human and that might be a superpower.

What’s not a superpower? Back pain. You see, I love bed. Oh how I love bed. I’m a terrible sleeper and always have been, but I have always loved bed. One of my favorite things to do is to tuck myself into a next of pillows, bundle myself into a blanket, burrito-style, and just be in my bed. Up until a few years ago I found this to be the most relaxing thing in the world. Then, I injured my back. A few slipped discs, some arthritis, and a pretty crappy mattress later, my nest of pillows and happiness was something I could only handle for a few hours at a clip before searing pain took over my lower back, forcing me awake. I’ve learned to cope with it (more pillows, stretching, learning to not loathe being awake at four in the morning, sleeping upright on the couch,) but now that I’m pregnant, my body has been giving the middle finger to my coping mechanisms. I’m not even really showing at this point, but lying on my stomach is rapidly becoming impossible. I’d read online that special body pillows for pregnant women often help improve sleep so I figured why not? Off to buybuy Baby I went.

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Image credit: buy buy Baby. THIS PILLOW IS LIFE.

Holy crap buybuy Baby is overwhelming. Eventually I might talk about how I almost lost my crap in a rocking chair in that store, but right now I want to talk about the miracle I found there. I bought the Boppy Slipcovered Total Body Pillow. Yes, I flinched at the $60 price tag but a) it was a pillow for my nest and b) the lure of a reasonable night’s sleep was great. I brought my pricey body pillow home, unpacked it with the speed of a child at Christmas, and then counted down until bedtime so I could use it.  It took a little bit of adjusting and shifting (mostly the rest of my pillow nest, honestly) before I found the sweet spot, layered on my blankets and drifted off.

I still woke up at 4am. My brain has been programed to that time after four years of back pain and I admittedly had a pretty rough night with the nausea, but when I stretched out and put my feet to the floor? I had no back pain. None, zero, zip. I was a little stiff, but I wasn’t in pain. Had to be a fluke, right? I curled up the next night, drifted off, this time sleeping until 5am, and again no pain.

WHERE HAS THIS PILLOW BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE?

This may be the single greatest thing I have ever purchased in my life. Every woman needs this, not just pregnant ones. Hell, some men may even need it. This pillow is a miracle! I also just discovered that I can twist it up and sit up in bed with it. Sitting up! In bed! I might actually get to read in bed again! This pillow is a damn miracle. I am never sleeping without it again.

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