Monday, September 28, 2015

A Lover and A Fighter

My girls started pre-k and kindergarten this year, respectively.  I was SO VERY EXCITED before school started because I am still a giant nerd and stuff like uniforms and school supply lists and phonics make me happy.  Look how cute they are!

I can't believe how much they have changed from last year!  I had to check the picture's date 7 times to make sure this wasn't from the year before. 

Look at Lucy's legs, they went from baby legs to big kid legs this year!  Same for Adriana's face. 

So, I'd love nothing more to report that school is going as well as the first day of school photo session, but it really hasn't been.  I got notes home from both girls' teachers the first week of school.  Basically, Adriana was hitting and Lucia was inappropriately kissing. 

The hitting...ugh.  We went through this before, a couple of years ago, and it took Adriana losing all of her friends before she shaped up at school. But as far as I know, that was just a phase and wasn't something that was still regularly happening at daycare over the past year.  HOWEVER, a lot of the other parents I'm friends with have told me they are having similar issues now that they have moved schools, which really makes me question what exactly was going on at daycare.  I am basically picturing a Lord of the Flies type situation while the teacher is sitting there filing her nails.  Anyway, now that I'm getting regular communication about what is happening with my kid, I am able to actually do stuff on my end to help the situation, so even though it really sucks to get that kind of feedback from the school (and it basically makes me feel like a parenting failure), it has put me in full problem solving mode and I feel like I we can fix things.

The kissing...I don't even know where to begin, you guys.  Since Lucy has been 3 1/2, she has definitely started noticing boys.  Everything from telling me that the (high school) kid at the smoothie shop is cuuuuuute to openly batting her eyelashes and flipping her hair whenever she is around a 12-14 year old with a One Direction type look.  Girl has a TYPE.  Which I think can definitely be a problem in the wrong situation, but is for the most part harmless and a normal part of child development.  I actually was noticing boys at the exact same age; and can still remember Tommy Carson, my pre-k crush, giving me a kiss the day before he moved to California.  It's so interesting to me that Lucia is so vocal about liking allll the boys, whereas Adriana gets REALLY shy about it and her one huge crush would never in a million years know she secretly wants to marry him (exactly how I was as a kid, but she was a little older before her first crush). 

Anyway, there was this kid who Lucia was kissing to the point that the teacher had to say something about it to both parents to nip it in the bud.  I apologized to the boy's mom at morning drop off, but apparently it was a two way street...she told me she tried to ask him who his little friend was, and he was just like "I don't know her name, I just call her my princess" in a dreamy voice.  Lol.  And then I heard at a birthday party that another little boy was upset that the first boy kissed her before he did, because "she's beaaaautiful".  And she had a third little boy following her around all day at the party.  I am so screwed with this kid...if pre-k is this crazy, I can only imagine what the preteen / teen years will be like. 

Fortunately, all the kissing thing took was one long conversation with me and Lucia cut it out.  Easy peasy.  Unfortunately, I also found out that she has been crying a ton in school, has been mean (but not violent) to her classmates, and has been super defiant with the teacher.  For some reason the teacher waited FOUR FREAKING WEEKS to tell me this, thinking that the kids just needed time to adjust.  Which is pretty upsetting to me.  So all in one fell swoop I went from full time worrying from Adriana to full time worrying about Lucia.  Adriana's problems feel fixable to me, maybe because we have done this before, but also because she really WANTS to do the right thing, she just doesn't always know how to control herself.  Lucia...she is one strong-willed little girl.  Having experienced her defiance at home (which, until now, has never spilled over into school - her teachers always loved her before), I know how hard she is to deal with when she doesn't want to cooperate.  I still don't really know what is going to get through to her.  She keeps telling us she misses her old school, and TECHNICALLY sending her back there is an option, but I feel like I'd rather just address this now than have to go through the exact same thing when she starts kindergarten next year. 

I think it would be easy to blame daycare or to blame genetics...both Justin and I have hot tempers, and his lack of impulse control actually got him kicked out of kindergarten.  It's so hard not to feel like this is all my fault though.  Like I didn't take the times I did get a bad report at daycare seriously enough, or that I was always in so much of a rush to get the kids out of there that I didn't ask the teachers the right questions.  I know I resorted to yelling way more than I should have, because, well, I came from a yelling family so it is what feels normal to me.  I also know that I have spent way too much time just trying to get through the day juggling all of the things I have to juggle and not enough time making sure my kids have the skills to turn into productive members of society.  You know, parenting instead of just surviving.  And that doesn't feel good. 

Since I'm a problem solver and since we have 5 free sessions through work benefits, my plan is to go to family counseling.  I have also bought a stack of parenting books and children books about getting along, being kind, cooling down, etc. off amazon.  I'll probably be reviewing these here and on goodreads if anyone else is going through the same thing. 

I'd love to hear any insights from any of you who had problem children.  What got through to them?  What helped you out? Any books you would recommend?  Is it ever going to get any easier?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living vs. Arbonne 28 Day Detox

28 Day Detox overview here and results here.

Sometime in the year since I first discovered Arbonne, they switched their program from the "28 Day Detox" to "30 Days to Healthy Living".  This is not at all surprising to me, because when I was first researching Arbonne I found a ton of variations on the plan.  Arbonne tweaks the diet every year or two based on whatever the lastest buzzword is - I found plans where carbs, gluten, and toxins all took their turn being the bad guy. 

The newest approach focuses more on the good guys than targeting any specific bad guy (at least on the surface), and is no longer marketed as a "detox" (which you know makes me happy if you read my original critique of the program).  The first post in the August 3 Healthy Living Bootcamp facebook group is a Clean Eating Challenge Guide, where Five Key Areas of Fitness are listed as follows:

1.  Eat Clean
2.  Increase Nutritional Intake
3.  Eliminate Allergenic, Addictive, and Acidic Foods
4.  Balance Blood Sugar
5.  Support Elimination Organs

The Eat Clean goal is where Arbonne promotes the same "Organic = good, Toxins/GMOs = bad".  Honestly, I am still not really sold on this.  I recently read a really amazing Slate article that nicely summed up my opinions of GMOs without me having to do any research beyond what I did back when I was getting a Master's degree in Biology (which I realize is all outdated now).  The merits of organic foods are a little trickier...I feel like if I were to really dig into this, it would probably provide evidence that my gut reaction is right - that organic foods are kind of a scam / waste of money.  I know I have heard stuff like a lot of organic farms being right next to traditional farms and being exposed to the same type of pesticides, etc., but I haven't done any research myself to substantiate claims on either side of the issue.  I think if all of the claims about the benefits of an all organic diet were found to be actually true then obviously that would be the way to go, but I just don't know enough about it and tend to lean towards skepticism.  I won't go so far as to say eating clean is bullshit (like I did with the word "detox") but I do think your weight loss results will be exactly the same whether you buy organic/non-GMO or not. 

As far as the other goals go, I'm glad Arbonne is finally providing better explanations about the avoid list (Allergenic / Addictive / Acidic foods) because that was definitely something I thought was confusing the first time I did the 28 Day Detox.  The rest just seem to be ploys to make people buy more Arbonne products.

The new kit includes
- Protein Shake (2 bags, 1-2 shakes a day)
- Daily Fiber Boost (1 bag, 1-2 scoops a day)
- Energy Fizz Sticks (2 boxes, 2x per day before 4pm)
- Herbal Detox Tea (2 boxes, at least 2x per day)
- 7 Day Cleanse (1 box, start day 14)
- Digestion Plus (1 box, 1 pack a day)

This is the exact same kit at the 28 Day Detox kit except it includes Digestion Plus and the 7-Day Cleanse instead of 2 bags of the fit chews.  Oh, and it's $402 instead of $307.  The diet is basically exactly the same as the 28 Day Detox, just with those extra products added. 
The guide to the program also suggests incorporating the following products:
- Arbonne Essentials Power Packs for Men and Women (1 pack a day)
- Arbonne Greens Balance (1 scoop a day)
- Arbonne SeaSource Detox Spa Purifying Sea Soak (1 packet twice a week)

So, to recap...the new program focuses on "eating clean" instead of "detoxing", adds $95 worth of product and suggests another $200+, but is otherwise exactly the same as the last program.

As I mentioned above, I'm in the August 3 group, and I really do plan to give it my all this month.  I own the Greens Balance (it is DISGUSTING no matter how you try to drink it) and the Digestion Plus so I will go ahead and use those up this round, plus do the 7 day Cleanse (my mom had an extra box).  I really don't think they are necessary for this program to be successful though, and I have no intention of purchasing any of them after this round.

Since this is the first time I have done the program all month since last June, I may do a typical week on the program or post recipes or do product reviews.  At a minimum, I will post my results again if I stick with it all month.  Good luck to anyone starting the program!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Enabler Alert: Summer 2015 Allure Beauty Thrills Box on sale TODAY

This is just a quick note letting you guys know that that Summer 2015 Allure Beauty Thrills box will go on sale at noon eastern time.  There is a countdown on the Allure Beauty Thrills page if, like me, you find time zones harder than they should be.  There is also a products list and descriptions of the items at the link.  Personally I think this one is a great box; tons of household basics plus brands I love like IT Cosmetics, Laniege, Redken.  This is the first box in a LONG time where I know I will use almost every item so I'm planning on snagging one.

Don't forget that these boxes sell out FAST; you will need to start refreshing the page a few minutes before noon and type in your credit card number at lightning speed to get one.  Good luck!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Arbonne 28 Day Detox Results / Review / Tips

28 Day Detox Overview here.
Comparison to 30 Days to Healthy Living here

Full disclosure: I am technically an Arbonne consultant, but only in the sense that I paid to be a consultant so I can use the 35% discount for myself and my family.  It's not a business opportunity for me, and I don't care if you buy it or not.  This is my results post from doing the detox in June 2014, written in July 2015 because I had NO IDEA so many people were googling Arbonne Detox results and finding my blog until now and I feel bad that I never posted these results.  Welcome, Google friends!

I should also disclose (before it's too late for your retinas) that for me, a results post involves posting unflattering pictures of myself with far too few clothes for my comfort.  However, I know when I was researching the detox that was what I wanted to see when determining if this was worth the investment / hassle. So I'm taking one for the team.  I'm also posting shirtless pics of my hubby, who is a sexy, albeit hairy, manbeast.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Before getting to the results, I did want to share something I learned from the Facebook group when I asked why corn and vinegar are on the avoid list.  Turns out the Arbonne diet avoids all things Acidic, Addictive, or Allergenic.  I found NOTHING explaining this when I first researched the diet, so that was super interesting to find out.  This video actually explains the perils of acidic diets really well, and is totally consistent with what I learned in medical school (we had a whole day devoted to "is diet coke bad", and all they came up with was that it leeches phosphates).  So I still think the detoxing concept and aspartame hate are bullshit, but I now totally understand more about what this diet is ACTUALLY doing for my body. 

On to the results.

The first time I did the Detox was back in June 2014, and my hubby did it along with me.  Since this was the only time I followed the rules pretty closely, these are the only pics I'll subject you to.  In 28 days, I lost 13 pounds and my husband lost 22.  I think we both had moments of weakness, so I think we could have lost a bit more if we tried harder...maybe 15 and 25 pounds? 

These pictures are not photoshopped and we are not purposely trying to look chubbier than real life in the before shot. 

My results:

Justin's results:

My thoughts on the Detox:

Well, obviously it works.  I lost 6 of the 13 pounds during the first week in June 2014, and have lost 5-6 pounds in a week several times since then.  I LOVE that I know that any time my pants don't fit or I feel bloaty and crappy, I have a super easy fix.  And it really is easy if you are the sort of person who does the best when you have really specific rules.  I don't feel like I am overly hungry on this, since you get 2 shakes, 2 snacks, and a decent sized meal every day, plus fizz sticks, lots of water, and detox tea in between.  If anything, I actually feel more full during some parts of my day because I'm consuming so many beverages.  That was's weird to think about how much less food your body REALLY needs. 

That being said...the Detox makes me tired and crabby when I strictly follow the rules.  Almost pregnant-tired, if you know what that's like.  They tell you in the Facebook group to make sure you are getting 1200 calories so you don't plateau, and I think that just might not be enough for me to feel like a functional human being.  Justin and several of my friends who have tried the Detox all reported that they felt AMAZING and their energy levels were through the roof.  Justin was actually downright CHEERY on this thing.  But that's just not how it affected me.  However, I have learned that if I do a cheaty version of the detox (eating some greek yogurt or a non-gluten free tortilla here and there, or just plain enjoying a food I like in moderation 1-2 times a week or so, rules be damned) I can lose 9-10 pounds over 28 days and feel just fine. 

Is it sustainable?

I stayed within a pound or two of my final weight for 3 months after the first round, which tells me that I didn't just lose water weight.  It also took time for my body to go back to wanting bigger portions, so it's not like I quit cold turkey.  But to be honest, I never really went into the 80/20 maintenance mode you are supposed to do for after your 28 days are up.  I have gone through phases where I gain weight, then do the detox for a week, then gain it back a couple of months later.  But that clearly had nothing to do with Arbonne and everything to do with the choices I was making.  I have no regrets, I love food, and I am far far far from one of those "nothing tastes better than skinny feels" people.  That expression makes me genuinely sad for the people who feel that way.  But I like that I know I can enjoy myself on vacations or holidays and know exactly what to do to get myself back to a more comfortable weight whenever I am ready to commit again. So yes, it's sustainable, but you will gain your weight back if you go back to old habits.  If you tend to yoyo your habits, you will likely yoyo your weight.  Duh. 

Did it fix my rosacea?

Yes and no.  I was actually kind of annoyed that my skin cleared up so nicely on the Detox, since it proves that avoiding all of the good things in life does, in fact, help.  But it's not a magical solution...I still flared up when I used a sunscreen that was too harsh for my skin, or when I got overheated.  So it's not like all of the non-food triggers disappear just because I'm avoiding the food triggers.  And if I can't control everything, I may as well enjoy the occasional glass of red wine or spicy food or sweet, sweet chocolate...that's what makeup is for!

Here is a pic of me with little to no makeup after a couple of weeks on the detox in June 2014...not too bad, if you know what my skin normally looks like:

Hot tips:

The thing that works best for me is keeping it simple.  Sure, it's fun to experiment with all of the different shake varieties, but a) they add calories, and b) ain't nobody got time for that.  As a working mom, it's easier for me to just keep the powder and a shaker in my cube than to go home at lunch or to pack a fancy shake with a ton of ingredients.  The chocolate is actually rather delicious on its own.  On the weekends, I throw in a spoonful of almond butter and replace the water with almond milk, and it's a fancy treat. 

Same goes for meals.  It's fun to follow the Facebook group and try out all of the new recipes, but that takes a lot more planning than I have brain space and time for.  I am totally okay with just having plain chicken and broccoli for dinner.  Or a chicken burger and a salad.  Or a sweet potato and browned / lightly seasoned ground turkey.  Or eggs scrambled with spinach with some avocado and salsa on the side.  If that is too boring, the other thing that works for me is pairing the Arbonne shakes with Wildtree freezer meals (I would like to do a post about that some day too - basically I love taking advantage of consultant discounts in pyramid schemes, haha).  Most of the meals are reasonably Arbonne compliant as they are, but honestly when I am doing the cheaty version I don't worry about it if it's not.  Even the meals that aren't technically Arbonne 28 Day Detox compliant are pretty healthy and that's good enough for me.

This one doesn't apply to everyone, but I also have to be really careful to only pack the snacks I'm allowed to have that day, or I will binge eat like a crazy person.  I learned this the hard way when I thought I'd be slick and bring in the whole bag of almonds instead of the allotted 10-15.  I mindlessly ate half the bag when on a conference call; something I would never do if it wasn't sitting here, asking me to eat it. This applies to home as well...if you don't typically have a lot of willpower, don't keep any junk in the house.  You can't eat what you don't have.     

Final verdict:

It's been a year since I first started using Arbonne products, and I can honestly say I recommend the company and their products, despite having a healthy degree of skepticism about some of their claims.  As much as some of the "you just feel bad because years worth of those pesky toxins are leaving your body!!" type sentiments annoy me, ultimately I don't care if Arbonne's claims are based on junk science as long as the rules set me up for success.  We can argue all day about what is actually happening at the cellular level; the point is that it works. 

What I really like about the Detox is that it's so customizable.  I highly recommend doing what I did...follow it to a T or as close as you can one time, then take the pieces you like and discard what you don't like the next time...use the buffet approach.  Everyone's body and tastes are different, so adjust the Detox to your own preferences.  I think that is the best way to make it a legitimate lifestyle.  But like I said before - you DO have to make it a lifestyle for the results to stick.  I'll speak more to the products that worked for me and the products that didn't in a future product review post.  Until then, I hope this helps!

Friday, April 24, 2015


As usual, I'm having a hard time narrowing down what books to pitch at book club (we pick 4 months of books at a time, everyone brings suggestions).  Here is my list...are there any that you would DEFINITELY stay away from?  Anything amazing you have read that I should consider?  Any books that are not really book club type books but that I should read anyway in my "spare" time?

The ones I'm considering are:
- The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
- Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

No spoilers please!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


My new Man BFF is shaping up to be a real pain in the ass.  Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy his company, but he is a pusher.  Not of the drug variety like Ms. Norbury, but of the Be All That You Can Be variety (minus the army context). 

Friending a pusher has it's pros and cons.  On the pro side, I am inherently lazy, and could certainly use a push from time to time.  God knows Justin won't do it, since it would inevitably result in the death stare and possibly a fatal stabbing.  Plus I haven't had a friend get all up in my business like that in years, so it's kind of refreshing to have someone give enough of a shit to ask the hard questions.  The cons are stressing me out though.  I had been sitting there all content with my life, and now my pusher Man BFF has me really questioning things.  Ugh.

The first area that we delved into was my career path.  As a reminder, I do regulatory work for a utility company.  It's not glamorous work, but I'm good at it, and I get to do a lot of reading, writing, and powerpointing, which are all things I enjoy.  In the 8+ years I've been here, I've worked my way to the equivalent of a staff business analyst, which is as high as you can get without being a manager or consultant (and consulting jobs are few and far between).  Justin and I make enough that we are financially comfortable - we have a smallish but nice house, we can go on a cheap family vacation every year plus plenty of fun weekend trips, everyone has enough food and clothes and money for hobbies/activities, I'm saving for retirement and two college funds (maybe not as much as I need to for the latter, but I'm not worried about it yet). 

As of right now, the girls are 3 and 5.  To me, balance is everything.  I am a high performer, but I do not have infinite time or energy.  To be amazing at work, I have to give up some home stuff.  To be amazing at home, my work suffers.  In order to "have it all" (2 Tina Fey references in 1 post!) some shit has to slide.  Maybe my house is too cluttered, maybe I have to do my makeup at my desk, maybe my kids eat ramen on the living room floor instead of real dinner some nights, maybe I can't come in early and stay late and work after the kids go to bed to get everything done and perfect.  I just can't be awesome at everything all of the time.  Which is hard, because I like being 100% awesome. 

My talent profile currently says that while the kids are little, I'm not interested in management.  This BLOWS MAN BFF'S MIND.  He is one of those people who is constantly climbing the ladder, always trying to make more money, have more power, be more influential.  Not necessarily in a bad way, he also plans to change the world and feels like constantly improving his situation is how he can best make that happen.  I just don't have that same drive right now.   I love that for the most part, I can kick butt at work from 8-5 and spend the rest of my time with my family without having anything hanging over my head.  There are times when I genuinely can't imagine taking on one more thing in my life.  I know I am a far better parent when I am not stressed out - there is basically a directly proportional relationship between my workload getting too heavy and how often I snap at my kids. If my current situation feels more or less balanced, why fuck with it?

That being said, this is likely a temporary situation.  The girls won't be little forever, and I feel like it's basically inevitable that I will eventually go into management, whether I have a large desire to or not.  I have zillions of dollars of student loans, and I'd like to retire at a reasonable age.  It's the next logical step in the game of life. 

I have been spending a considerable amount time defending this particular life choice to Man BFF and reiterating that I AM HAPPY and THIS IS TEMPORARY.  But that didn't really stop my stomach from dropping when I got an email from my boss saying it's time to update my talent profile.  My gut reaction was that maybe it's time, since the girls are going to school next year.  Pushers are the worst, uggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh.  Can't I just keep things exactly how they are for a while longer?

The second area which Man BFF has opinions about is Justin's career.  This is a bit of a touchy subject, since it's not really about me.  Basically, hubs didn't go to college and is therefore limited in how far he can progress up his respective ladder.  I tried to get him to go to school back when we first started dating, but then he found his current job (which is a great place for people without degrees to work) and then we got married and pregnant (not in that order) and all that jazz.  I know this is probably weird since we are married and all, but basically I don't feel like it's my business what Justin does with his career, as long as he pays his half of the bills.  As I said, we are comfortable.  This BLOWS MAN BFF'S MIND.  He thinks I am "frustratingly accepting" of both Justin's and my own situations.  As far as I'm concerned, as long as Justin is happy, I'm happy.  If he decides that he wants to advance in his career and realizes that the best way to do that is by getting his degree, I will support him.  But I'm not going to be his own personal Pusher.  I didn't marry a pet project, I married a grown ass man who is capable of making his own decisions. 

The only aspect of this particular topic that gives me pause is that maybe I'm being a bad wife by not at least raising the question from time to time.  Maybe if it was more clear that J going to college is something I'd support would make it more of a viable option in his mind.  It also makes me think that perhaps I have been selfish.  As I said, there are times when I can't imagine taking on one more thing.  Justin going to school would certainly mean tradeoffs on the home front, which would further upset the life balance I so desperately seek.  I feel like I'm the 50's husband oppressing my spouse.  But then again, I think Justin would read this and laugh and remind me that he, too, is perfectly happy with our situation.

The last topic of discussion is the hardest.  Man BFF is always trying to get me to identify areas of my life that aren't making me happy (despite my repeated assertions that I AM HAPPY) and then make a plan to bridge the gap between the actual and desired scenarios.  At one point I made a comment about how I fail to see what I get out of moving up in my career, as I am not particularly motivated by money or power...I work at an electric company, I'm not going to change the world by moving up the chain.  This then led to a discussion about how I did originally want to have a job where I could help people, but certain life choices led me here instead.  

This is as close as I get to admitting that I do have some regrets.  As you may know, electric utility regulatory work was not my original career path - I was in medical school and dropped out.  My reasons for this were very complex, but I have 10 years of hindsight now so I think I can boil it down.  If I'm being 100% real and honest, I was not the most mature or driven 25 year old.  I had an opportunity that isn't offered to most people, and I blew it.  I could have been a doctor, and I truly believe I would have been a great one, but ultimately I didn't want it enough to put in the work to become one.  Quitting was taking the easy route.  I think that if 35 year old me was in the same situation, I would have made different choices, because ultimately I do regret selling out and working for the man instead of sticking with my principles and trying to help people.  At the time though, sitting in a library all day felt oppressive when I could instead be out living my life.  I hated studying because it was the first time in my life I ever had to do it.  And I thought that because I wasn't trying harder, it must not be what I really wanted.  

What has always saved me from having too many regrets was the fact that quitting freed me up to be a mom.  Not that I couldn't have been both a mom and a doctor, but I certainly would have been an older mom, and with a different guy, and therefore I'd have different kids.  And you know what?  My two specific kids are awesome.  I can't imagine having any other kids.  Having children is the most freeing thing in the world because it instantly justifies any questionable past decisions...any other road taken, and they disappear from the family photo, Marty McFly style.  

I also find some comfort in the fact that while a lot of my friends didn't go the parenting route and are contributing to society in a meaningful way, SOMEONE has to pass the good DNA on.  May as well be me.  I'm not a doctor, but at least I'm contributing to the gene pool in a positive manner.  And maybe (hopefully) the girls will go on to do great things. 

I keep getting really frustrated during these discussion because ultimately, I really do think that everything has worked out.  Maybe not for the best, because I have NO FREAKING CLUE what my life would be like if I made different choices.  But I don't see the point of playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game when I obviously didn't and it all turned out okay.  But that doesn't stop me from having a tiny little voice that says "wait, AM I happy?" every time I assert that I am.  I think I keep coming back to yes, but the fact that I even question it a little kind of pisses me off.  I guess that's what it's all about though...I may not be pushed into a different life path, but it's good to be pushed out of my comfort zone from time to time.       

Friday, April 10, 2015

Adult Friendships, Ugh

So, I know "adult friendships are the worst" isn't the most unique topic of all time, but it's something that has been on my mind lately.

Lady BFFs

I am always so insanely jealous of the people who have had their PERSON since they met at the arts and crafts table in camp in third grade.  I don't have that person.  In fact, the summer after 3rd grade my best friend of three years ditched me for a new best friend (she was new and a twin and therefore infinitely fascinating), and I pretty much either didn't have a best friend or had a different one every school year after that.  At the end of eighth grade, there was no one I was particularly close to, so I was quite happy to move on to high school.  (I went to Catholic school, so I was with the same 45 people from 1st - 8th grade). 

If you had asked me at the time, I would have said that I didn't click with my grade school female peers because I was just different.  I was the smartest girl in my class, and I always had my nose in a book.  They were almost all cheerleaders, I was the only one who didn't make the team (and preferred soccer, anyway).  They liked rap, I wouldn't figure out that I was a 90's grunge girl at heart for another few years.  They had big hair and wore makeup, I couldn't be bothered.  Most of them were pretty and popular, I stopped caring about popularity around 5-6th grade. 

But if you ask me now, I was also a smartass with a bit of a mean streak.  I was always one of those people who would rather attack than be attacked, which I suppose protected me from being bullied for being the giant nerd that I was, but also made me kind of a bully myself.  There is one girl in particular who my 7th grade best friend and I made fun of constantly, and adult me is horrified when I look back on it.  HORRIFIED.  Ugh.  Kids are the worst. 

I was less of a bitchface in high school, and I'm still close with my core group of friends from back in the day.  It helps that even though a lot of my friends moved away, their families are still in Akron, so they visit whenever they are in town.  These ladies are awesome because even if we don't talk for 6 months, we can sit down to dinner and gab like no time has passed at all.  I wasn't able to keep this kind of relationship with my college or grad school best friends, mostly because we are all from different places and FB wasn't a thing yet when we were in school.  A few years later and I think we would have kept in better touch.  My friendship strategy in my 20's was basically to make a group of friends at whatever school/job I was in, go to a different school/job, get entirely new group of friends, never speak to the old ones again.  This is so weird to me now, but that's more or less how it went. 

So now, on to adult friendships.  Making friends when a) you work in a place whose core demographic is old white dudes b) you live in a town that everyone leaves (so so true, David Giffels), c) you are married and d) you have small children is SO FREAKING HARD.  I guess I have always had friends as an adult, and usually I'm closer to one of those friends than anyone else, but I haven't had a true "best friend" since high school.  I wish someone had told me to do a better job of hanging on to relationships back when I was in school...that female friendships are far superior than anything I had going with whatever dude I was dating at the time...that it really sucks when you have no sisters and no clear frontrunner for your maid of honor...that if your best friend is the person you married, you have no one to bitch to ABOUT the person you married, especially when marriage is hard and shit gets real...that powerful women make the greatest friends.  This is a lesson I plan on DRILLING into my kids - to hold on to their friendships, and to always be kind.  If you don't shine, I don't shine (seriously, listen to Call Your Girlfriend...shine theory needs to be part of the fifth grade you're about to bleed everywhere class curriculum). 

I was really bumming about the lack of a BFF when the girls were smaller and I felt chained to the house and super isolated, right around the time a friendship I previously treasured turned awkward, but in general things are looking up now that I can actually have some semblance of a social life.  I think the most important thing in making new adult lady friends is to say yes when someone invites you, don't be flaky / back out, to not be afraid to be the initiator, to keep lines of communication going (even it it's just a few emojis letting them know you are thinking of them), and to support them no matter what.  While I still haven't found the magical formula to find a ride or die lady BFF (yet), this strategy has resulted in me getting closer to my book club ladies and lovely coworker lunch buddies (I still don't know how to make friends I don't read or work with, haha).  Annnnd now this is a good segue into the next section...

Man BFFs

...I am also in the process of making a new man BFF (at least that is my plan, anyway).  Which, I am quickly learning, is also just as difficult to navigate as an adult as lady relationships.  Well, at least if you are married.  It's not like I have never had close friendships with a guy before, it's just that my last two serious guy friendships were formed when Justin and I had been dating for maybe a year and therefore he was very aware that if he got weird about it I'd walk out the door. 

Historically, I have had TONS of guy friends.  I think that since I have two brothers and a ball buster smartass personality, it has always been easy for me to be just one of the guys (but I was also enough of a flirt to make it clear that I was NOT just one of the guys).  I wasn't one of those "girls are awful, I refuse to befriend them" people, but guy friendships were definitely easier for me.  And more fun.  Hmm, maybe this is why I consistently fail at lady BFFs, maybe I am just better suited to have a man BFF instead?

Making a man friend now is kind of awkward.  First there is that "What is this guy's deal? Why does he want to hang out?  Is his marriage okay?  Is he the cheating type?" stuff that needs to be sorted out.  Then there is the explaining to the husband that you are now hanging out with some other guy, but not OVER explaining because apparently that means you're cheating and not just overly sensitive to the perceptions created by having a man friend.  Then there is worrying about what the heck HIS wife must be thinking, and trying to figure out how to convey that I'm not a man-stealer.  Maybe I am just overthinking things, I don't know.  Are you the same way when making friends with a member of the opposite sex, or is it just me?  Should I continue to proceed with caution, or just shut up and go with it?  I haven't clicked with someone like this in a long time, it's nice.    

Couple BFFs

As complicated as the man BFF situation can be, I am on the path to finding one of those before Justin and I achieve the holy grail marriage scenario...finding a couple BFF.  I am beginning to think it's simply not possible.  Maybe it's because he and I are two completely different people, maybe it's because SO FREAKING FEW of our friends even bother to get married, and even fewer have kids, maybe we smell funny.  I don't know, but it seems like every time we meet a new couple, one or both of us can't stand one or both of them. 

I will say, however, that we do have some prospects.  There is a couple who sometimes host game nights, and we both REALLY liked them the one time they were both present.  I (shockingly) get along with the guy half and Justin gets along with the girl half, but we both like both of them.  And there are other couples that go to their game nights that also seem like our kind of people.  But the main couple we are trying to befriend is about to have a baby, and we have to find childcare whenever we go there, so it's still a tentative situation.

Justin's best friend also has a lady friend that seems really lovely, and he now has custody of his last lady friend's kids, who are conveniently two girls that are our girls' ages.  So if he hangs onto that relationship that is a strong candidate. 

Basically, I just wish life was like a movie and we had a ton of couple friends with kids and we could all, I don't know, go camping together and drink around the fire while our kids entertain each other and get muddy and go swimming and climb trees and stuff.  But realistically I will settle for ONE other couple with kids (because our girls need kid BFFs too) and a handful of other adult friends who all like us and like each other.    

ANYWAY, that was a lot of words about BFFs, or the lack thereof.  Do you guys find adult friendships to be as challenging as I do?  Why is this so harrrrrrrrrrrrdddddd?

(PS, I'm trying to write more during my lunch hour, when I'm not wining and dining a potential new friend, haha.)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Easy Makeup for Work

This post is for my lovely reader Martha, who is also a working mom.  She is new to makeup and wanted some recommendations on the basics.  I thought it would be best to show my simplest look and give some high end and low end recommendations in each category.  The goal here is to look professional and put together, but to be able to slap in on your face in 3 minutes or less, and probably with a kid hanging off each leg (welcome to my every day).  I like work makeup that makes me look bright eyed, awake, and fresh faced.  Only the teeniest step above no-makeup makeup, to show that I made an effort (haha). 

Keep in mind that I am neither a professional makeup artist or makeup photographer, I'm just a regular person who likes makeup (and kissy faces).  This is my go-to work look:

To get that look, I used the following products (they are dirty because I really do wear them almost every day and they last forever)(crap I forgot to include mascara in the picture):

Face:  While I love the bye bye redness, it's a little too dark for my winter face.  Plus I love a good multitasking product like the It Cosmetics CC cream.  It's my moisturizer, my anti-aging serum, my sunscreen, my concealer, and my foundation all in one.  Basically, it's my everything, which is why it is so perfect when I'm short on time.  This is not for the faint of heart though, it gives a ton of coverage and therefore might not be the best option for someone who is brand new to makeup.  I currently set it with the It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation, which I prefer to the Celebration Foundation Illumination formula, but I like Mac Studio Fix better. 
I feel like foundation is so personal for everyone and therefore it's hard to make recommendations since I only know what my skin is like.  So instead of telling you all what to do, I am going to strongly recommend that you go to youtube and search for videos for your particular skin type.  Search best [drugstore or high end] foundation for [dry or oily or combination or acne prone] skin and see what other people like for your particular skin type.  Watch them put it on.  Before shelling out for the higher end products, go to Sephora and have them color match you.  Don't be shy about asking for samples of several different brands.  And then go to another Sephora or the same one on a different day and ask for more.  They will give you enough to try out and really know if it works for you.  I'd rather take the extra time before spending my money than wind up hate-wearing a foundation for the next couple of months.  (I never buy and return unless a product is truly defective...I know I'm weird about that). 
Cheeks:  I just can't be bothered to highlight and contour on a work day.  And that's definitely out of scope for makeup for beginners.  Even if you are new to makeup you shouldn't skip the blush.  I used to be extremely anti blush because of my rosacea, and I have no idea what I was thinking.  Blush is the quickest way to achieve a fresh pretty face.  For higher end, I think the benefit box blushes are a fantastic starting point for people who are new to makeup.  Hervana (pictured below) is an extremely flattering shade on so many skin tones.  I pretty much wear that or the now discontinued Dallas every day.  I don't personally wear drugstore blushes, but the Milani and Physician's formula blushes look nice and seem to get rated highly on youtube so I would start there. 

Eyes:  I think everyone in the world should own the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette.  I am missing the black (Crave) but you can use it to smoke out the look or as a soft pretty eyeliner, the shade on the left (Venus) is a super pretty highlight, and the 4 in the middle are soft, buttery, easily blendable shades.  This palette is so easy to work with that I don't even use brushes, I slap them on with my fingers.  My go to look is W.O.S on the lid, Naked 2 in the crease, and Venus on my inner corner and first third of the eye.  This gives me a nice bright eyed wide awake look and it only takes 15 seconds.  If you must use a brush, I like the $4 Sonia Kashuk fluffy crease brush from Target.  From the drugstore I like to use either a Maybelline color tattoo (like bad to the bronze) or a L'Oreal Infallible Shadow (amber rush, bronzed taupe, iced latte) all over the lid as a single shadow look.  Mally shadow sticks and Laura Mercier caviar sticks are great for that too. 

I forgot to show my mascara.  I'm wearing a Laura Mercier sample I don't particularly like in this pic.  My favorite high end is tarte Gifted and drugstore is L'Oreal Voluminous in the gold tube.  Mascara is totally one of those things you have to play with to find what you like though.  I really don't think anyone needs to fork out the cash for high end, especially since a tube only lasts a few months.

Eyeliner I use the Urban Decay 24/7 glide on pencils for high end and rimmel scandaleyes for drugstore.  I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend just tightlining your upper waterline with black or dark brown for work.  I leave my lower lashline bare so I don't have to worry about going to meetings with smudgy undereyes.  Once you get the hang of tightlining, it's actually error proof and makes a huge difference in your look. It's so subtle and pretty and way more work appropriate than a cat eye (at least where I work). 

Lips: I like to use anything that is half lipstick half gloss, like the Maybelline Color Whispers (the one I have on today is Ravishing Pink).  They are super easy, don't require looking at a mirror, last a long time, they aren't sticky, and they keep lips hydrated in horrid office conditions.  I like Mac and Urban Decay lipsticks, Buxom lip glosses (Dolly is perfection), and tarte lipsurgences too. 

Other tips: When you are first getting into makeup, it helps if you have a clear goal in mind.  I didn't really care about makeup until my rosacea got out of control, so the first thing I focused my spending on was finding my holy grail foundation and powder and learning how to hide my redness.  Others might focus on concealing undereyes or filling in brows instead.  Those aren't really big concerns of mine, so they aren't what I used in this look.  I've talked about concealer here before, but if I were to buy a drugstore today it would be the Maybelline Fit Me concealer, and for high end I'd pick the Nars creamy concealer.  Both seem to be universally loved on youtube and have a good color selection.  My holy grail eyebrow pencil is the Anastasia brow wiz; from the drug store I've used and liked the Revlon Brow fantasy but honestly nothing really compares to the Anastasia for me.  In an ideal world, I'd conceal and do my brows before work, but I rarely have time for that. 

What is your go to work makeup look?  I'm also curious how long you guys spend on your makeup before work...less than 5 minutes like me, or do you take your time?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Winter 2015 Day in the Life: Work Day Edition

I wasn't so good about participating in Laura's Day in the Life series last year, and my goal is to hit every season this year.  Ideally I would even like to do both a work day and a weekend day for each season, but let's not get all crazy just yet. 

I'm 35, Justin is 32, Adriana is 5 1/3, and Lucia is 3 1/2.  We don't currently have any pets or houseguests.  We live and work in Akron, OH.  Today is February 4, 2015.  I went to bed around 10 the night before (after watching John Wick with Justin, which I do recommend), and neither kid woke up in the middle of the night (WOOHOOOOO). 

I woke up at 6:00 when Justin's alarm went off, and again at 6:03 when mine did.  I had taken a shower and dried my hair the night before, so I thought I would close my eyes for a bit.  I then woke up at 6:40 when Justin turned the shower on and began mentally stressing out over the time.  Adriana also woke up from the shower noise and crawled into bed with me.  Then Lucia started sobbing "I thought you LOVED ME Adriana, why did you leeeeeeeeeeeave" and my morning officially began.

I didn't remember it was supposed to be a DITL until around 7:15 or so.  By that time I had already chosen an outfit I hate, washed my face with my #sampledout samples of the day, brushed my teeth and hair and helped the kiddos do the same.  The mornings go a lot smoother if I just let them pick out their outfits themselves, but Lucy always gets about halfway done and then starts FREAKING OUT because she hates the way something feels against her skin (usually socks, this time it was a dress and then she hated the shirt I picked).  She refused to get dressed until I yelled, then we both felt crappy.  This is basically an every morning occurrence.  3 is fun. 

We were running late so I slapped on the minimal amount of makeup I could get away with...benefit erase paste, IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness, Urban Decay lip pencil in Naked, Laura Mercier caviar stick in Cocoa, and pixi mascara.  I basically look like I have no makeup on when I'm done; I just de-rocasea-ed myself and made my eyes look a touch more awake. 

Also...check out those forehead wrinkles.  33 was the year of the crow's feet, and 35 is the year of the deeeeeeeeeep forehead lines thanks to a lifetime of eyebrow raising.  I think I might get my elevens this year too (right now I just have a one, haha).  Note to self to get some frownies when I am off my no buy.

While I was putting my face on, the girls ate some bananas and took turns crying and being cute.  Adriana bumped her arm on the doorknob when I was taking their picture, so I guess I can't say that no children were harmed in the making of this DITL.  Lucia was just being a butt about having her picture taken. 

We were on track to be in the realm of "on time", and then 1) Lucia sharted and required an outfit change, and 2) I had to search around for my keys.  We have a keyhook, I just suck at using it and then it's scramble time.  Some day I will get my act together.  Sigh.  It was 7:39 before we got in the car; the latest we can get in the car and have a chance of being on time is about 7:30.

Lucia was a grump about putting her coat on, so she used it as a blanket instead. It was 29 degrees today which is practically summer in Ohio, so I wasn't too worried about it.  Plus my car heats up hella fast. 

The girls were super chatty this morning, telling me about what they are learning at school.  It is tooth week, so Adriana told me about a story where the kids got to pick what kind of animal teeth they would want to have.  Adriana wanted shark teeth, then she told me what every single other kid in her class picked.  Then we started talking about the time we found shark teeth at the beach, and Lucia basically recounted our entire vacation in amazing detail.  Remember when we built a giant sandcastle but we didn't have any water so we had to bring a bucket to the ocean and get some water?  Remember how I ate a lot of Cheetos and they were so yummy?  Remember how I had my birthday at the beach?!!  Then we started talking about what kind of birthday parties the kids want this year - a favorite topic of conversation for Lucia, who has been asking for a clown birthday party since she turned 3.  Her teacher doesn't like clowns, so now she is thinking she might want a Cinderella party.  Then both girls thought maybe an Ariel party.  Then Lucy went back to Cinderella and Adriana landed on Jasmine and Aladdin.  Their little brains (and mouths) just never stop, haha.  I love it. 

We pulled into daycare at 7:52, but I took the time to check out some kiddo artwork.  Lucy had spent the entire car ride home last night going on and on about the hearts on her wall; she was SO PROUD of them!  Then I checked out the tooth fairy drawings in Adriana's room.  She was the only kid who wrote "tooth fairy" next to hers instead of her name.  She LOVES to write words and is always asking me how to spell things. 

The girls sat down for breakfast; waffles and milk today.  Lucy told the teacher her tummy still hurt, oops.  Thank goodness I brought in extra undies and pants, I am guessing there might be a repeat performance of this morning's sharting incident.  Hopefully I won't have to come and get her later.  Selfies and lots of hugs and kisses, then I was on my way to work.  It was 8:00 on the dot when I got in my car...if only I could teleport I'd be at work on time!

I called Justin on the drive to work since we barely talked this morning.  In fact, I think the only thing he said to me was "I have to go brush the snow off our cars" and I am not even sure if I said anything to him at all.  Funny because we are usually good at AT LEAST saying goodbye and I love you.  But we got to say both on the phone so all is well. 

I pulled into the parking deck at 8:12.  One of the things that drives me nuts about working downtown is all of the extra time it takes to get from my car to my desk.  I have to drive through 5 floors of the parking deck, walk down the stairs and through the lobby, dig through my purse to get my badge to swipe in at the security desk, stand in a long elevator line, and wait for at least 5 other people to get off the elevator before me, since I'm on the 17th floor.  It was 8:21 before I actually got to my desk.  When I think about the extra 9 minutes twice a day, 5 days a week, I get really angry.  AN HOUR AND A HALF EVERY SINGLE WEEK JUST TO GET IN AND OUT OF THE BUILDING.  My last job I'd park, walk in and be at my desk in 40 seconds. 

My cube is a mess right now, but it sure is nice to come in to some beautiful flowers!  Thanks, hubby!

When I got in my boss wanted to talk about how she felt like I should reduce the number of hours I marked as vacation when the girls were sick, since I did work from home a bit.  I love her. 

I need some breakfast before I can be productive, so even though I came in super late I fixed myself a shake before diving in.  2 scoops of Arbonne chocolate protein powder, 1 scoop of Arbonne fiber, ice and water from allllllll the way down on the 3rd floor.  I tried to take a pic of the 3rd floor vending area, but I got weird looks.

I also stopped for some bathroom selfies, as one does on DITL day.  And was totally busted by yet another coworker.  Oops.  Today I'm wearing an outfit I really hate, but it's been a while since I did laundry.  This is an Ashlyn shirt from the Limited (I hate button downs and refuse to tuck them in), elastic waistband pants from New York & Co. (which are comfy but too big and horribly unflattering in the hip and crotch area), Anne Klein wedge booties (which have salt and snow on them - I HATE WINTER), and my fitbit in it's new Tory Burch necklace home.  My work phone case is the  limited edition Nina Garcia otterbox, which I think you can buy from Best Buy still.  I started my period today and already feel gross from that, so it sucks that I picked an outfit that makes me feel so un-cute.  But that's how it goes every month, right?  It was like 8:45 before I was actually ready to work, oops. 

I settled in for a nice long conference call from 9-12.  It was this call, if you really must know.  Feel free to go read all about how Tier 1 units are compensated in PJM's markets! 

Screenshot from the meeting, so you can all be SUPER JEALOUS of my life:

I have 2 must haves for long calls...a manicure and a cup of tea.  I do pay attention and take notes and all that good stuff in between, I promise.  I am trying to not paint colors on my nails and to instead use the Nailtiques Formula 2 to strengthen them.  I have really shitty nails, they are super thin and peely and have lots of ridges.  Supposedly this works wonders, but I have only been trying it for a few days.  The Murad youth builder hand cream is also pretty new; it was gifted to me as part of the Murad Brand Ambassador program.  It smells divine and it has AHA in it, so it's something I would definitely repurchase.  As is the Julep cuticle oil.  Their pedi cream and their cuticle oil are two products that I will continue to buy as long as they are selling them - both are absolutely fantastic. 

The cup of tea is Arbonne's detox tea.  As you can tell, I am still doing "detox lite" not really following the 28 day detox to a T, but still drinking the shakes, tea, fizz sticks etc. in hopes of losing more weight.  I have lost 8-9 pounds in the time I lost 13 last time, and the slower pace means WAY more energy and less crabbiness on my part so it's working really well for me.  I'm using my Keepcup from the January Popsugar Must Have box, which I love. 

No buy confession...I only lasted 3 days of being unsubscribed from Arianna Huffington's quarterly box.  When we were on a conference call break I checked MSA and Liz has full spoilers for #ARI03 and I am SO GLAD I resubscribed a few days ago.  I am going to return a $100 January Neiman Marcus purchase to make up for it, and try to figure out what else I can do to restore my no buy karma.  But I'm really happy with this decision.  I am reading Arianna Huffington's book Thrive right now and I feel like everything she has to say about life balance and the importance of sleep and mindfulness just really speaks to me right now.  The no buy is going very well otherwise...

My call ended at 12:15.  Normally I either eat lunch at my desk or go walking, especially when I show up to work late.  Akron has a system of tunnels and skywalks so you can actually make it pretty far through downtown without having to go outside for more than a 15 second blast at the very beginning.  But today I was feeling crappy (thanks, period!) so I actually went home for lunch.  This was maybe the second time ever since I started this job.  I really needed it though. 

I made myself a giant plate of of those things where you put down too many chips because it's the end of the bag, then too much shredded beef because it's the last of the leftovers, then too much sour cream and salsa to balance it all out, and at the end of it you're like WHOA.  But I ate the whole fucking thing while watching some Hart of Dixie, and it was amazing. 

New coversheets for the TPS reports

My afternoon was a blur of productivity.  I had to get ready for a 2:00 meeting, then had the meeting, then worked on action items from the meeting.  Good times. 

Around 4:45 I put together a package for the lovely Bianca Jade, then I headed to the post office to send it and the aforementioned Neiman Marcus return before picking the kiddos up from daycare.  Lucy put her coat on with no problems today, which was a lovely change of pace. 

It was about 5:20 before I got out of the post office, then 5:40 before I got out of daycare, so we weren't home until 6.  That is a fairly normal time to for us to get home since I rarely leave work right at 5. 

Thankfully we have discovered the wonderful world of Wildtree freezer meals, and Justin has been a total help with both prepping them and getting them started when he gets home before us.  Tonight's dinner was something like "Lemon Rosemary Chicken and Sundried Tomato Orzo" from the Everyday Meals freezer workshop.  I can't remember if I mentioned this here already or not, but I am now a Wildtree AND an Arbonne consultant (just for the discounts for myself and family/friends, not to make money).  So basically I love pyramid schemes. 

The kids played with their toys while I opened my packages and watched youtube (that lovely lady in the bottom right is from MakeupTIA, a recent discovery).  It was a 3 package day - I got some Crest goodies from Bzzagent and 2 items I ordered with an Amazon gift card I got for Christmas - a tweezerman manicure set and a jonathan adler zebra dish I have wanted ever since it was featured in last year's popsugar / Neiman Marcus box.  Then we all ate our dinner in the living room like heathens.  Note that Lucia is now pantsless; we all have the habit of whipping our clothes off the second we get through the door.  I typically put on leggings and a t shirt, hubs hangs out in his boxers, and the girls take clothes off and put different clothes on basically all night.  Real life, yo. 

After dinner Justin went upstairs to game while I snuggled with the kiddos.  It's pretty typical for us to give each other the night off on the weekdays (weekends are family time).  We go through phases where we hang out all of the time or where we want alone time all of the time.  We just finished watching Dexter together so we are both in alone time mode.  I get to hang out with my friend Katie this week, so this night was Justin's turn. 

I wasn't up for playing with dolls, so we watched the Boxcar Children on Netflix.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED that book at a kid, but as an adult I just have SO MANY QUESTIONS.  Why had they never met the grandfather?  How did their parents die, and why were they able to escape so easily?  What made the grandfather suddenly decide he wanted to be a part of their lives?  I don't exactly remember how the book goes, but in the movie he was just like "My bad, I hope you forgive me, here's a werther's and let's play checkers."  And, as Shalini pointed out, wtf is up with them stealing the boxcar and moving it to their new backyard?  I feel like logistically that would be a nightmare. 

Around 7:45 the girls went to the playroom to entertain themselves while I hopped in the shower.  I had a massage scheduled at 8:30 so I needed to shave my legs and pits.  Because my masseuse does PIT WORK.  Yep, that was one of the first things she ever said to me - do you mind if I do a little pit work?  It is surprisingly nice, I can actually feel tension leaving my body when she does it.  It's nice enough that I forgive her other weird techniques, like the time she PULLED THE SHEET OVER MY WHOLE HEAD AND PROCEEDED TO FLAP MY BUTTCHEEKS TOGETHER FOR 5 MINUTES.  Oh, Massage Envy, you have the weirdest employees.  But they all give great massages if you can make it through the weirdness. before the massage I did my skincare routine with all samples for #sampledout and read some Thrive in the waiting room.

I got home around 10:00 and Justin was already asleep, so I joined him.  Another 10 pm bedtime with no kid wakeups, I might actually be well rested this week!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Decluttering Tips, #sampledout, February No Buy, etc.

Hey guys!  Long time no talk, eh?  I am sorry that 2014 was such a shitty blogging year (33 posts?  FOR SHAME), and that 2015 is shaping up to be more of the same.  I am hoping to turn it around though, I miss you guys!

So you may have noticed that I didn't post any resolutions this year.  This actually wasn't just more blog laziness on my part, it was because I still really feel like my priorities from last year haven't changed.  I did update the to do list, but I don't need to bore you with the details, especially since you can assume I only did about 33% of the things on last year's list so it's a lot of the same.  Even when I fail at making as much progress as I'd like, I still feel that having a list keeps me on track and pushes me to do things I wouldn't normally do if I didn't feel somewhat accountable to my resolutions.  One example is running - I did the couch to 5K again and ran in 2 races this year.  I would have hit 3 for sure, if I hadn't forgotten it was a resolution until September (ha). 

One thing I am doing differently though is to try to pick a new challenge each month to focus on, as I seem to do really well when I have a specific plan to follow.  Plus I had a lot of success with stuff like the Arbonne 28 Day Detox and the 30 Day Abs Challenge last year, that I will continue to find new things to try. 

In December, I did 33 Days of Decluttering.  I didn't get rid of 3 items every day, but (with the help of a closet purge) I hit well over 100 items, so I'm calling it a win.  Some things I found helpful in forming new decluttering habits:
  • Every time I visit someone, I think about whether or not I borrowed anything I need to return or if there is something in my stash they would enjoy more than I would. 
  • I now keep a donate bin in a fairly visible place.  The second an item is oppressing me, into the bin it goes.  The second the bin gets full, it goes into my trunk to go to goodwill.
  • If I hate something all day when I wear it, the second it comes out of the dryer it goes into the donate bin.  For some reason I have the really bad habit of thinking that maybe NEXT TIME these pants will stop showing my butt crack or these shoes won't give me a blister, even when the last 7 times have proven otherwise.  STUPID.
  • I found a partner in crime to trade stuff with.  I know an extreme couponer who has too many household items, and since I am basically an extreme subscription box addict, I traded her makeup I'm not using for basics like shampoo, body wash, and laundry detergent.  I feel like we will be doing this A TON in the future.  This would also work well if you have someone with differently spaced kids than yours. 
  • I bring stuff to work to give away to whoever wants it or to sell on the portal.  Coworkers love other people's junk, apparently.  I can get about 25% of retail value for kid stuff, which makes it a more attractive option than saving it for a garage sale I am never going to have.  The second I'm thinking about selling it, into my work bag it goes, then I keep it in my cube until someone buys it.  If it doesn't sell in 2 weeks, I reduce the price.  If it still doesn't sell, into the donate bin it goes. 
  • Kid stuff that doesn't sell well is still usually welcome at daycare.  I offloaded a bunch of bibs, burp cloths, and receiving blankets.  They love getting used toys, clothes to use as backups for kids who don't have spare outfits and plastic grocery bags as well.
  • The local Women's Shelter will take unopened household items.  This is great if you have over-couponed (or over-allure-boxed, as my case might be). 
  • The Subtraction Project (January archives here) and Declutter 365 are great resources if you like to do a little at a time.  Which I do.
  • If those two projects post something that isn't really a cluttered area for me, I just find the closest area that has been bugging me and tackle it.  The top of my fridge is something I'm self conscious about every time someone comes over, yet I never seem to have time to deal with it, so that's next on my list.  
  • I have made several friends Crappy Day Presents out of stuff I'm not using (with a couple of new things to fill in the gaps), and they were a big hit. 
  • Invite people over all of the time.  It's a great motivation to clean and declutter.  Same for hiring a cleaning person.  J thinks that cleaning before someone else cleans is stupid, but they can't CLEAN CLEAN if there is crap everywhere.  Plus having someone do the deep cleaning frees me up to do more decluttering and organization.
  • Have a "scavenge week" once a month where you have to basically eat only the things that are already in your house.  It ensure that you actually eat the stuff you pay for and it keeps your cabinets from getting overly cluttered. 
I am sure there are more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.  I am so ready to stop my life of hoarding, and it's nice to see progress. 

In January I have been doing another round of the 28 Day Detox and the #sampledout Instagram challenge.  I'm down 8 pounds, basically back to where I ended after the last challenge because I gained at least 5 pounds over the holidays.  I would say this is more "detox lite" though since there have been a number of illnesses keeping me from going too crazy with it. 

#sampledout was started by Instagram user @wimommandy.  Basically you count all of your samples and try to become #samplefreeby2016.  I am posting weekly pics and mini reviews if you are interested, and it's kind of cool to see what others are doing.  I have something like 588 samples to use (EEK) but got rid of 23 in week 1.  It will be nice to put a big dent in my stash so I can focus on using up my full size items. 

In February I plan on continuing #sampledout and Arbonne about 80% of the time, and will go on a VERY STRICT no buy.  As in, nowhere near as cheaty as the one I did in May of 2013.  I cancelled my QVC auto-deliveries and the two boxes that were set to come in February (Arianna Huffington and Wil Wheaton), and I will skip Fabletics, so the only sub I will be charged for is PopSugar Must Haves.  It's sold out and it really is a must have for me, so it will be a cheat.  Le Metier de Beaute was pre-paid for the year and Massage Envy is under contract, so nothing I can do about that.  I will not make a single beauty/fashion/jewelry purchase in February. 

This is what I am allowed to buy:

- Groceries (healthy stuff only, no extra junk food)
- Anything that is health related (vitamins, prescriptions, etc.)
- Must have household items (toilet paper, tampons, cleaning supplies, etc.)
- Gas (should only be one tank since I have a gift card)
- New pajamas and underwear for PJs at TJs using gift cards only
- Entertainment and meal costs for book club night, 50 shades of grey ladies' night, lunch with my brother and SIL,1 date with Justin, PJs at TJ's (all of these costs must be kept to a minimum)
- Tip for my Massage Envy masseuse (try to sell stuff to make $$ for the tip)
- 3 family meals that I don't have to cook (emergency option only)
AND NOTHING ELSE.  No lunches with coworkers, no coffee, no random target trips.  If I sell stuff on the portal or scrounge up gift cards, that is free money that I MIGHT be allowed to use to cheat, but not 1 cent on myself.  Examples include Valentine's treats for the family or one extra cheap family outing.  Experiences are okay, but crap we don't need is not. 

Does anyone want to join me for a February no buy or for #sampledout?