Monday, December 30, 2013

Meaningful Beauty Creme de Serum Review

I received this product complimentary from Influenster.  You can read more about Influenster and other ways to get free stuff here.  

I just finished my last pump of Meaningful Beauty's Creme de Serum, so I wanted to do a quick post to let you know what I think.  I received this product well over a month ago from Influenster, and have been using it once a day almost every day since. 

Here is the description from the Meaningful Beauty website: 

This crème de la crème treatment takes a triple approach to combating the signs of aging with three powerful anti-aging ingredients: superantioxidant melon complex, anti-aging peptides and hyaluronic acid. Combining the power of a serum with the rich, moisturizing effects of a crème, this super-boost is designed to help protect, increase hydration and prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  • The most scientifically-advanced treatment in the Meaningful Beauty® line.
  • Combines our superantioxidant melon complex, anti-aging peptides and hyaluronic acid.
  • Cindy's Tip: To give dry skin an extra boost, follow with Anti-Aging Night Crème.

Given that this product doesn't claim to reduce wrinkles, just to prevent them, I'd say it definitely lives up to it's claims.  I'd say that my fine lines are about the same or maybe sliiiiiiiightly better than before I started using this product.  I'm not sure if the improvement is due to this product or to other products in my skin care regimen, but I'll take it.  

I really love that the Creme de Serum combines the benefits of both a serum and a moisturizer, since I find serums to not be moisturizing enough for my extremely dry skin.  This was very hydrating; my skin felt nice and soft after using it.  I also enjoyed the texture of the product and the way it felt on my skin.  It wasn't sticky or greasy, it absorbed well, and it didn't interfere with my makeup.  The only down side is that it can only be used once a day - I am trying to simplify my skincare routine and it would be nice to use the same product at morning and night.  

I am not sure if the sample packaging is the same as the full size or not, but I hope so.  The pump dispensed the perfect amount every time, and thanks to the clear packaging you can always see how much product you have left.  I also love the "push pop" technology...I totally made that up, since I'm not sure what to call it.  You know, when the little platform rises, pushing up the product so nothing is wasted.  That's a terrible description, so here's a picture of the almost empty container:

Anyway, overall I liked this product and would be interested in trying more from the Meaningful Beauty line (at $40 for the whole shebang, it's really affordable).  It lived up to the claims, the packaging was perfection, and while my skin was not quite tight like a tiger, it was absolutely soft like a seal (TM Kori and Sara, their Instagram comments made me laugh).  

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Recap: Happier, Fatter, Richer

I have been doing the old Sundry version of this meme in some form since 2008, but 2010 was deleted at some point (see 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008).  To sum it up Tessie style, in 2013 I was happier, fatter, and (sliiiiiiiightly) richer.  I'd say that's a solid improvement from last year's sadder, thinner, poorer.  

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I was offered (and turned down) a guest appearance on the HuffPost Live show.  I tried out CrossFit and did yoga on a beach and in a studio.  I had an on trend vagina.  I spent too much money on freemium games and high end makeup.  I went on a fake camping vacation instead of a beach vacation with my family (which I STILL haven't blogged about, but still want to).  I made permanent birth control decisions (or at least hubs did). I kicked ass at work, logged more nights away from my family than ever, got great results in the cases I was involved with, and was not rewarded for any of it.  I survived a really hard year.  I sat on salami.  I had a run-in with bed bugs.  

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made three resolutions last year: 

     1. Strengthen my marriage.  Done, but I plan to keep working on it.  

     2. Keep a clean, clutter-free house. Done for part but definitely not all of the year.  This is definitely something I struggle with.  I should probably rent a dumpster and go to town.  

     3. Get personal and house finances under control. I am still spending too much of my personal money, but I think we did a great job with house finances this year.  Project 25 Pan is also helping.  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Just some lovely ladies of the internet.  No one close enough in real life that I got to actually nom on baby toes or anything.  Which is sad.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just this one.  I went to Hocking Hills and Charleston for fun, and to Columbus and Harrisburg for work.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Aside from everything on this list (ha), I would like to have children who listen and a self-cleaning house.  Since none of that is feasible, I would like to have more patience.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

None really stand out in my mind this year.  It was all kind of a blur, really.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I really am proudest of the things I accomplished at work.  Even though my rating and title don't reflect the work I put in, it really was nice to win so many issues I passionately fought for.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Definitely not being patient with the girls.  I really do feel that Mirena made me lack emotional control, but I also take personal responsibility.  I could have gotten it removed sooner, or tried harder to not lose my shit.  I hate being yelling mom and definitely want to fix that going forward.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Omg I never did my fitness update so I have never told you guys about my foot.  The giant vein running across the top SNAPPED IN HALF, and it was totally painful and totally disgusting.  No major illness...I barfed at Thanksgiving and had the occasional cold.  The usual.    

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My Laura Mercier Artist's Palette and my iPhone 5C.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Justin really stepped up this year.  He is a great dad; I love watching him with the girls.  I am happy to say that our family is his #1 priority now.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My own (again with the yelling mom thing).

14. Where did most of your money go?

Most of my discretionary spend went to travel, makeup, and clothes, the rest to household bills and stuff for the girls.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My bloggy gatherings!

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

We did an embarrassing amount of family dance parties to Best Song Ever and What Did The Fox Say.  I personally loved Lorde's Royals, something about it just mesmerizes me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier.  It would be kind of hard not to be.
– thinner or fatter? Fatter.  By at least 20 pounds.  Please tell me Biggest Blogging Loser is happening and that I'm not too late.
– richer or poorer? Richer.  But only slightly...nothing really changed for us financially, we are just being smarter with house expenses.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Cleaning and exercising.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How did you spend Christmas?

We spent all day with Justin's dad side on Christmas eve.  We opened presents at our house Christmas morning, then went over to my parents for more presents (an obscene amount of them, I have no idea how they will all fit) and then got together with my mom's side after that.  I was too exhausted / sick to go back to my parents to see my dad's side, so we will have to get together with them later.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Not with anyone I didn't already love.    

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Walking Dead and Pretty Little Liars.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? 

Nope, the hate list is still a party of one.  I don't foresee adding to it any time soon, it takes a lot for me to actually hate anyone.  There are a few people I have to deal with regularly that clash with my personality, but that's more of a minor annoyance.

24. What was the best book you read?

Definitely Ocean at the End of the Lane, I loved it.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I actually bought new music this year, look at me.  The 1975 and Lorde.  And I can't remember if I got the Lumineers this year or last, but I didn't mention it last year.

26. What did you want and get? 

Naked 3 palette and all 3 allure boxes.  Lots of great memories with my girlies.  Monthly dates with the hubs.  

27. What did you want and not get?

A family beach vacation.  A romantic getaway with hubs. A promotion.  Lorac palettes.  A cleaning service.  One less Mirena making me crazy (I rescheduled the appt for early next year though, so I promise I'll stop bitching about it soon).

28. What was your favorite film this year?

Catching Fire.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 34. I remembered to blog about it so I wouldn't forget this time, haha.  I went to book club and my lovely friend Nicole bought me delicious cake, then I went home and snuggled with Justin.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Definitely a clean house.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Same as last year...Boots, tights, and dresses in the winter, skinny jeans and t shirts in the summer. More on fashion here.

32. What kept you sane?

Justin.  He did a good job of noticing when I was at my limit and stepping in to take over.  Thanks, hubby!

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Dolvett from Biggest Loser is rather yummy.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Marriage equality will always be my number one issue until it's fixed.

35. Who did you miss?

I miss having a best friend.  There have definitely been times where I could have used one over the past couple of years, and I'm always jealous of those people who have had the same bff since like second grade.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Definitely my Blathering crew.  I am not naming names because I don't want to exclude anyone - I love all of you!!!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

I have been thinking a lot about the importance of relationships.  I feel like I have been in survival mode for so long and it hasn't left me with a very strong support system.  I'd like to spend more time being a good friend and a good family member next year instead of just going through the motions every day.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.


There you have it! If you also do this meme, link to your post in the comments!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Project 25 Pan Empties: Round 2

Read more about Project 25 Pan here!
Round 1 Empties I  Round 1 Prize

Another round of Project 25 pan is over and I can now close my beauty closet door.  Success!  Also, you will see that I really am trying to use up some of my oldest products first, as many of these are over a year old.  I promise I do pitch the expired stuff and pay attention to dates on the bottles.  

1.  Bath and Body Works Shea Cashmere Bubble Bath: I bought this a few years ago when I was on a B&BW True Blue Spa kick.  It smells nice and makes lots of bubbles (which sounds silly, but you would be surprised at how many bubble baths don't).  My skin always feels nice and soft after using it.   Given that jerkfaces on Amazon are selling this for $85 a pop, I'm guessing that this item has been discontinued by B&BW.  Too bad, I would have definitely repurchased.  There are still plenty of non-bubble bath Shea Cashmere items, so maybe they will bring back the bubble bath some day.  

2.  Phyto Intense Hydrating Mask: I received this in the June 2012 Glossybox and have been sloooooooooowly using it up ever since.  The more I like a product, the more I tend to hoard it, which is a problem I'm trying to fix.  This hair mask smells heavenly and makes my hair silky smooth.  I get slightly better results from the Moroccan Oil mask with the same name (#18 below), and it's cheaper.  ($39 for 6.8 oz of phyto compared to $32 for 8.5 oz of Moroccan Oil) so I wouldn't repurchase unless there was a good deal.  

3.  Julep Conditioning Nail Polish Remover: I got a ton of these back when I was buying every mystery box Julep had to offer, and I repurchased when the secret store had a good deal.  At $11.20 for a 4 oz bottle I'd never pay full price.  Ever.  Especially since this is pretty similar to Zoya remove and I can just take a giant bottle of that and re-use the Julep dispensers.  Still, it's easily one of the nicest removers I've tried.  It gets glitter off no problem, and is as conditioning as a nail polish remover can be.  

4.  L'Oreal Everstrong Hydrate Conditioner in Rosemary Mint: I got this as my "free product" from the L'Oreal Product Evaluation Center (I'm still in a hair dye testing program, by the way).  It was a perfectly nice conditioner, but Rosemary Mint is definitely a sexy man scent, which is not the vibe I like to give off.  Essiebutton swears by other products in this line though, so I'd like to try it out in a different scent.  

5.  L'Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense: This product was in the CEW Insider's Choice Beauty Box from Summer 2012.  I mentioned it in my July favorites - it makes my skin nice and soft.  I would repurchase it, but not any time soon since I have a million other skincare items to go through.  

6 and 7.  Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash and Acne Self-Foaming Cleanser: I got both of these from BeautyFix in Spring / Summer 2012.  I didn't really care for the body wash; I really focused on using it on my chest since it has spotting due to sun damage, but it didn't seem to help.  The face wash was kind of nice, I liked the way it foamed.  The packaging was a pain though, only the tiniest bit came out due to the world's smallest pump.  You didn't need a ton though, this stuff lasted me forever.  Wouldn't repurchase; I have plenty of other body washes and cleansers I prefer.  

8 and 9.  Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse and Special Cleansing Gel: These beauties were from my August 2013 PopSugar Must Have Box, and made it into my monthly favorites a few weeks later.  The pre-cleanse is made up of a variety of oils and smells amazing.  I love the way it breaks up my makeup.  The cleansing gel is nice and light and doesn't irritate my skin.  It is the perfect cleanser for my Clarisonic.  After I use up my millions of skincare items, these two products will likely be part of the permanent Laura Skincare Collection.  I will most definitely repurchase.  

10.  Feeling Smitten Gelato Sugar Scrub: This was in a ThinkGeek mother's day package from the hubs (the Maternal Happiness Gift Pack shown here).   This product had a really unique scent and texture, and was fun to play with since it was bright blue.  I have never seen anything like it.  It was only medium effective though; I definitely prefer the Tree Hut Sugar Scrub from Empties Round 1.  Will not repurchase.  

11.  Library of Flowers Bubble Bath in #15 - The Forest: I got this in the PopSugar Must Have Fall Style Luxury Box (I took pictures of it but apparently never posted).  I LOVE the luxury boxes, would definitely recommend them if you have the $$.  The bubble bath was not a scent I would have chosen; a bit too flowery for me, but it was still pretty.  I probably zipped through this faster than need be, since every bath had tons of bubbles.  It is definitely a luxurious product; at $36 a bottle I wouldn't repurchase for myself, but it might be a good pampering gift for someone.  

12.  Miss Jessie's Quick Curls: I can not say enough good things about this product (but if you want to read more, I reviewed it here).  This product single-handedly made a year's worth of Birchbox worth it.  It is my number one holy grail curly hair product, so of course I milked it as long as I possible could (I got it in August 2012, ha).  I was so excited that all Miss Jessie's products were 40% off on Black Friday; I bought 2 full size bottles, woohoo!  

13.  Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes: I received these lovelies in my Summer 2013 Allure Beauty Box.  While I don't need oil control and have other makeup removing towelettes I like better, I love these because they came in single use packets.  I kept a few in my purse for when I was travelling or getting my brows done or wanted to completely redo my face makeup before going out.  Will repurchase.  

14.  Julep, again: See #3.  This bottle was the one I kept on my work desk.  

16.  Bamboo 48 Hour Sustainable Volume Spray: I didn't realize until actually writing this that this product should not be in here and should instead be in my samples Empties since I didn't get to test a full oz.  I got it in my last QVC Test Tube (Fall 2013) and it was nearly empty; it leaked all over the dang tube and everything in it (QVC was kinda rude about it too; only after MUCH complaining did I get a $5 credit to my account, this was part of the reason I unsubscribed and didn't blog about the tube).  I don't have another picture to replace it with, so I guess I'll roll with it.  From what I was able to use, it seems perfectly nice - it added some volume to my hair and wasn't sticky.  However, I'd need to try some more to give it a real review.  I know they sell this sample for $10 at Ulta or Sephora, so if I look at my hair products and don't have any other volumizing sprays, I'll pick some more up.  

17. Pssssst! Dry Shampoo: I got this in my July 2012 Beauty Army box.  I was actually a dry shampoo newbie back then - I didn't even really know they existed until I started watching YouTube gurus who swore by the stuff.  I really like Pssssst! despite the annoying to type name.  It has a really fresh, clean scent.  It can give a bit of a white cast, but it's easy enough to work it in.  My hair has more life when I use it.  I have another bottle from another box I'm using right now, but I'd definitely repurchase this one after I test out a few more brands I'm interested in (Bumble and Bumble, Batiste).  

18. Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask: I got this in the Fall 2012 New Beauty Test Tube (the non-QVC version) and I loooooooooove it.  In fact, it was also an August 2013 favorite along with the dermalogica.  It makes my hair super soft and shiny for about 3-5 days after I use it, so it's the perfect Sunday night bath treat for my hair.  I have some other hair masks to use up and then want to try the Macadamia Oil hair mask, but if I like this one better I will most definitely repurchase it.    

19. E Boost natural orange energy tablets: I know this is not necessarily a "beauty product", but I did get it in one of those special edition Birchboxes so I'm counting it.  I wouldn't say they made me any more energetic than normal (which is completely non-energetic), but they tasted good and made me feel like I was fending off colds.  I'd probably repurchase if they were right in front of me and a reasonable price.  

20. Murad Clarifying Cleanser: I thought I got this in a test tube, but google isn't able to confirm.  Grrr.  I thought I would hate this because it has that juniper scent that reminds me of gin, but it is actually a super refreshing facial cleanser.  I loved using it in the morning to give me a burst of energy.  The only down side is that it was too harsh to use with my Clarisonic - both times I did my face ended up peeling.  I suppose that could be viewed as a positive though, something to try when you want a mini peel.  It wasn't painful or anything.  Anyway, I'd consider repurchasing it, maybe along with the rest of the Murad line since I like to test skincare products all together.  **note to self - ask dermatologist if Acne cleansers fight the same bacteria that cause rosacea**  

20. VMV Hypoallergenics Re-Everything Eye Serum: I got this in my January 2012 Birchbox.  It's a really expensive serum so I tried hard to make it work, but it burned my eyes so I gave up before it was empty.  Kinda funny, since it says hypoallergenic right there in the brand's name.  Would not repurchase.  

21. Murad Eye Lift Perfector: I got this in my Summer 2012 BeautyFix box.  This product did nothing for me, and it is in the clicky pen packaging I hate.  I know some of you loved the other Murad product that came with this (the primer) so I'll be interested to hear if you like this one too.  Would not repurchase.  

22. Revlon Color Stay in 110 Ivory: As I mentioned in Empties Round 1, I got this 2 for the price of 1 at Ulta.  This shade is pretty perfect for my winter skin, which is really hard to match since it's so pale.  I still hate the packaging, and would only repurchase it if I was in a makeup pinch and needed to get something from the drugstore.  

23. Lash Food Eyelash Serum: I got this in the Summer 2012 New Beauty Test Tube.  I am very lucky in that I have naturally dark eyelashes that are pretty long and thick even without mascara.  It's basically the only area in which being a hairy beast pays off.  This didn't really do anything for me; would not repurchase.    

24. Neutrogena Healthy Shine Lip Gloss in 120 Healthy Blush: I have a bunch of these laying around because it was the only lip gloss I used to buy before I got obsessed with makeup.  I still love the formula and they way it's long lasting without being sticky.  It's pretty and natural looking on my lips.  Would repurchase if I didn't have enough lip gloss to last me a lifetime.  

25. Bath & Body Works True Blue Spa Lay it on Thick Body Lotion: I bought this at the same time I got the shea cashmere bubble bath (#1 above).  This is a nice thick cream with minimal scent (just smells vaguely of shea butter).  It's a bit greasy so it's the perfect lotion for right before bed (assuming your partner doesn't mind the feel of it).  I would definitely repurchase; few lotions keep my super dry skin moisturized as well as this one.   

Dance Class Update / Request for Advice

First off - I hope you all have been enjoying the holidays!!!  I will do a Christmas wrap up after I steal pictures from various family members.  We had a lovely (but extremely tiring) two days, and now Justin and I are both back to work.  Bleh.

As you may know based on all of the pictures I've posted on social media, Adriana has been taking tap and ballet since the fall.  I can't help it, tiny ballerinas are basically the cutest thing I've seen since baby porcupines became an internet sensation.  

I took tap and baton lessons when I was like 2-3, and didn't really miss it afterwards.  I once asked my mom why I didn't stick with it, and she explained that when my grandpa had his heart attack, we spent 8 months visiting him in the hospital so it wasn't like there was a lot of extra time to squeeze it in.  Fair enough - it was a crappy time for my family.  I played t-ball and soccer and I did gymnastics, swimming, and piano lessons at different times throughout grade school, so it's not like I didn't have enough activities to keep me busy.  Dance was only the teeniest part of my life, so I'm not really sure why I wanted to send Adriana (other than the fact that she LOVES to dance and is so girly I thought she'd love the costumes).

Dance started off great.  Sure, the place we sent her is super strict with their dress code and parents can only watch during observation week and recitals (there is no window or tv or any way to watch), but Adriana seemed to love it so all was well.  Until it wasn't.  About 6 weeks ago, Adriana was sent out of class because she was having a "tough time" and was asking for me.  The next week was tap class observation, and the week after that was ballet.  

Oh you guys, the observation weeks were ROUGH.  Adriana decided midway though tap that she was done participating and wanted to be a puppy instead, and started crawling around on the floor.  I called her over to us and sternly whispered for her to be a good listener, but she kept refusing to participate.  I finally made her sit down with us, and told her she would need to help me cheer for other kids and that I was proud of them for doing such a good job.  She quickly deduced that I would be proud of her too if she was participating, and reluctantly joined her classmates.  I was a bit embarrassed and a bit annoyed, but she cheered me up (and got some laughs from the room) by being so freaking adorable whenever she would randomly break into dance to no music.  (You should check out the video in my Instagram feed if you haven't seen it...too funny).

The next week was definitely lacking in cute moments.  It was A STRUGGLE.  This time she was a leopard, and was practically tripping her classmates as she crawled around the floor. At one point she openly stuck her tongue out at me.  This went on for what seemed like an ETERNITY.  I hate when the girls act up in public - it makes me feel like everyone is watching me and every move I make is being judged.  Since Adriana was being so disruptive and we were all in a small room, this feeling was probably much more accurate in this situation than if we were, say, in a grocery store. No amount of whisper yelling got her to listen or to get back in line, and she refused to sit on the bench with me like she did at the tap class observation.  The kids were still all trying to dance and I was worried that if I tried to carry her out of the room it would cause an even bigger scene than she was already causing, so I basically just froze up.  We ended up leaving the class a bit early, since she was done and clearly didn't want to be there, and since I was at my limit for having people stare at me while I completely ineffectively disciplined my kid.  

After that mess, the director of the school personally emailed me and asked how she could help.  It was very sweet of her, but honestly I didn't know what to say.  I told her that I was so sorry Adriana was being so disruptive, and that I felt bad for the other kids in the class who wanted to learn.  She offered switching classes, but this one was the only one that worked with our schedule (plus, if Adriana can't cooperate at 10 am on a weekend, she certainly wouldn't at 6 pm after a long day at daycare).  I also happened to run into Adriana's dance instructor one day while I was out shopping, and she told me that Adriana did amazing during the first couple of months of class, and that she is really good when she's in the mood to listen.  She suggested that we wait it out until winter break and then re-evaluate.

Which was a great idea, except that money was due the next week for the spring recital costumes.  I was not ready to make a decision about what to do so soon; I was thinking I had a few more weeks.  And of course, the day before the money was due Adriana got kicked out of class three times so we left early again.  It was not a good day.  She was participating, but she was being a holy terror while doing so...spitting on and kicking her classmates, and repeatedly yelling about poop.   Wonderful.

Up until that point I was really hoping to turn things around.  I know how much Adriana loves to dance, and how excited she was looking at the costumes.  I thought it would send her the wrong message if we just quit.  I wanted to show her that even though you might not like something all of the time, you stick to your commitments.  I also wanted her to learn that you have to show teachers and peers respect, even if you are having a tough day.  She always tells me that she just doesn't know HOW to be good, so I keep telling her to "stop and think" whenever she is about to act up.  And it's working, to some degree - I will see her catch herself right before popping Lucy and she will exclaim "I stopped and thinked, Mama!!"  But clearly she forgot to stop and think at dance that day.

We got home and I talked it over with Justin and we decided that we were done making excuses for her.  She may be acting out because she's tired (more on that later) or bored with doing the same thing over and over or because she misses me and knows that getting kicked out means she gets to see me, but that does not excuse her behavior.   Beyond that, we were tired of shelling out some serious moolah for class when she isn't even dancing half the time (or more).  We were officially going to quit.  

That was on a the time Monday (costume money due date) rolled around, I was having second thoughts.  I called my mom to see what she thought, and she reaffirmed that we were making the right decision.  Apparently Adriana has been acting up during swimming lessons too, which is news to me (she listens well at gymnastics though).  

I went to pick up the girls from daycare, and got a bad case of the sads.  I'm not even close to a dance mom; I'm not forcing Adriana to do something she hates just to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a dancer.  It's just that as a working mom I miss out on SO MUCH.  My mom gets to do all of the fun stuff with her; dance class is the one activity that I get to do with her.  Even though I don't get to watch most of the classes, I am the one who gets her ready, brings her to class, sits in the waiting area and asks her all about it when it's over.  I bought pies for a fundraiser, sent muffins for the bake sale, bought all of her little outfits, mastered the classic bun, and tied her ballet slippers every week.  I had SO been looking forward to cheering her on at the recital.  I could picture how cute she would look in the costumes, and bringing her flowers after the show.  Every time she has giddily twirled around the living room in her ballet outfit, it makes me insanely happy because I DID THAT.  I'm the one who made dance class happen.  And I just wasn't ready to let it go.

So I ended up driving out to pay for the costumes at the last possible second (with my own money instead of money from the joint account, so it's all on me if it still doesn't work out).  I felt bad for going against what Justin and I had decided, but letting Adriana drop out was making me feel like crap, like we failed as parents.  Deciding to stick it out felt like I was betting on my kid.  I am still struggling with what to say or do to make her understand that her behavior isn't acceptable, and it's still extremely embarrassing when she gets kicked out of class, but at least we are trying.    

How do you deal with it when your kid is being a holy terror in public?  Have you ever had to drop out of an activity because your kid wasn't following the rules?  Any thoughts on how to teach respect when it just seems like the importance of it isn't sinking in? I just feel so frustrated and bummed out by this whole situation, so any advice or words of encouragement are appreciated.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 2013 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

This bag was kind of a let down...I had really high hopes since the December bags have been traditionally awesome, but this was a bag that I am considering passing along to a friend in its entirety.  Meh.

Date of arrival: Ummmmmm December 12, I think.  Which is a step in the right direction, DHL.  
Packaging: Beloved pink bubble mailer and generic Celebration! theme card sans mention of it being Ipsy's birthday.  You can win a 1 year subscription if you tag ipsy in FB or IG photos this month.  I think the black quilted patent leather bag is super cute, but I wish the red lining was pink (seriously, who am I anymore?)

Contents and mini reviews:  I received a Pop Beauty eyeshadow Bright Up Your Life...trio (I always want to say quad) in Smokin' Hot, be a bombshell The One Stick in girl crush, Julie G Textured Nail Color in Sugar Plum Fairy, J cat Beauty's The Big Lip Pencil in Red Rose, and a Mirabella eye blender brush.  

Here are some swatches...the be a bombshell goes on REALLY light, I had to go over it several times before I got any color payoff.  I do like that it's an eye / lip / cheek product; it would be good to throw in a bag for after the gym.  I just hope it's not too sparkly for cheeks.  The J cat went on pigmented in one swipe, but was also easily wiped off my hand in one swipe so I'm guessing it's not terribly long lasting.  It's not the worst J cat product I've seen though (remember glittergate?)

I wish I was able to tell you more about this month's products (or to at least photograph the rest of them outside the packaging), but I am seriously so unimpressed by this bag that I don't know if I'm keeping anything besides the brush and the bag.  I AM SO FREAKING TIRED OF ALL OF THESE BRANDS.  Pop Beauty and Pixi are owned by the same company, and I have tried tons of both lines thanks to Ipsy (they did end up sending me the missing Pixi bronzer from last month's bag).  It's okaaaaaaaay but none of it is great.  I have also tried a ton of be a bombshell and mirabella via Ipsy.  They are definitely higher quality than pop/pixi, but at this point I have a feel for the brands and if I want more I'll buy more.  Pinky promise.  J cat is pure junk and I'm not interested in getting any more.  The only brand that hasn't been shoved down our throats is Julie G.  I LOVE Julie and am a long time viewer (she's a YouTube beauty guru), but if I want to try her nail polish I'll hop in my car and hit up Rite Aid.  It's only a few bucks, I can swing it.  And Julie G is somehow affiliated with Jesse's Girl, which we have received already.  I can only assume that Michelle will continue to send Julie G stuff our way in the hopes that Julie will pimp em cosmetics on her channel.  It would not be the first time we got a ton of unwanted beauty guru nail polish (I'm looking at you and your excessively bright Circus line, Andrea's Choice!!!)

I'm sorry if this is overly ranty, but if we keep getting the same tired brands I will definitely NOT resubscribe in May.  Or maybe I'll hate subscribe (TM Erica) so I can continue ranting about it and donate it to the Battered Women's Shelter.  When you ignore the brands and the fact that I don't NEED any of this, it really is a lovely bag for SOMEONE.  Just not me.  

Value: This bag rang in at $56.18.  Ipsy contines to provide good value, but only by working with the same brands over and over (that are likely overpriced).  A
The full size Smokin' Hot Palette is $24 for 10 shadows, so this sampler is worth $7.20
The One Stick is $16
Julie G polish is $3.99
J cat lip pencil is $1.99 (hahaha)
Mirabella eye blender brush is $27 (it's a really nice, soft brush, but really?)

Overall impression of the bag:  I think we have pretty much covered that I'm ready for Ipsy to send some new brands.  Ignoring all that, there was nothing at all wrong with this bag.  The products may not be exciting, but they are nice, and there continues to be tons of full sized item.  I'm happy with the bag and the brush.  I'd give the bag a B if it was a standalone, but I'm going to knock it down to a C- for not having any new brands.  

Overall impression of the service: I would drop them to a B+ due to the same old boring brands, but I am happy with the fact that they sent me my missing product last month and that the shipping speed has improved two months in a row.  Ipsy hangs on to the A-, but just barely. 

Ipsy subscription information, if my glowing review (ha) swayed you at all: (referral link here, past reviews here

Thursday, December 5, 2013

November 2013 Favorites

I always start my favorites posts by looking through my photo stream to refresh my memories of the month.  MAN was November rough!  It started off with me freaking out over bedbugs and Justin getting a kidney stone, the girls had tons of sleep issues so we have all been super crabby, my Mirena made me extra psychotic on top of the crabby, and we ended the month with the barfs.  Basically, November can suck it.  Let's focus on the GOOD parts now!

Justin moment: Justin and I had a lot to overcome this month due to all of the issues above plus the fact that he bought a PS4.  I kind of feel like we spent a lot of time doing our own things (video games for him, bubble baths or naps for me) or I was cleaning while he was watching the girls.  With all of the sleep problems and sickness, we also didn't get nearly enough cuddle time since we weren't always sleeping together in our room.  Everyone is healthy and the house looks great now, so I'm hoping for more quality time in December.  Even with all of that going on, we actually were able to get away for TWO dates this month - a Lake Erie Monsters game for Justin's work Christmas party, and we saw Catching Fire.  The movie was great, but the hockey game gets the "favorite Justin moment" prize.  We both really got into it.  I could see this being something we do on the regular when the girls are older, it was a lot of fun!
The Mirena Slap somehow got me flowers though.
Adriana moment: Adriana's best moment and worst moment of the month are one and the same.  It was observation day in her tap and ballet classes, and it was SO FUN to watch her when she was participating (and SO NOT FUN when she wasn't listening, but I do plan to write about that later, I have a ton of other posts to knock out first though).  Hands down, the best moment was when she randomly busted out into dance before the music was even on.  A clip is in my instagram feed, will try to upload it to youtube so I can link it here too.  I nearly died from the cute.  We have also been working on Adriana's behavior - she is finally starting to "stop and think" before doing something "bad".  You can literally watch her stop herself and then she says "Mama, I did it!  I stopped and thinked!"

Lucia moment: I have no pictures of this (hence the random shots below), but Lucy's best moment was also during the tap class observation day.  She was not content to sit in my lap and watch, she had to jump down and do the steps that the big kids were doing.  She did amazing!  I also have to give her mad props for potty training herself in a day.  She goes in the potty all night now with few accidents.  YAY!!!!

Picture: I am still incapable of getting a decent pic of both kids.  Lucia can't keep her eyes open and Adriana likes to make dorky faces, and they both move so damn much that 99% of the pics I take are blurry.  Sigh.  

Family activity: Ummmm I don't think we have one this month due to illness and holiday related busy-ness.  

Food: Thanksgiving, duh.  I don't even care that it was all eaten out of tupperware away from our family.  It was delicious.  It's also pumpkin muffin season, which makes me happy.  

Too lazy to edit any way other than taking a screenshot. 
Drink: I didn't really drink anything out of the norm this month, just butt tons of Diet Coke.  

Book: The only pleasure reading I did this month was for book club - Brain on Fire by Susanna Cahalan.  It was pretty good, but definitely hit a little too close to home since one of my real life friends (who is also in book club) also had a case of encephalitis several years ago.  It was interesting hearing her perspective on the book and asking all of the questions that I didn't ask back when it was happening.  

TV show: I am currently watching the Biggest Loser and getting caught up on this season of Grey's Anatomy right now.  I'm not madly in love with either, and BL is totally fixed this season which pisses me off [without trying to spoil too much, that thing they did that affected the previous week's outcome was BULLSHIT.]

Movie: Catching Fire was amazeballs.  I really love Jennifer Lawrence.  

Game: This is really lame, but we have been playing a ton of The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game.  Even Lucia will sit still long enough to play it, and I think it's helping her (finally) learn her colors.  Maybe.  

Clothing/accessory: I have no special clothing loves this month so we'll just combine this category.  I got a Michael Stars wrap in my (last ever, sniff, sniff!) PopSugar Must Haves box and it has been a near constant companion at work.  It's like wearing a blanket in my cube, but slightly more professional.  

Beauty: I have been loving my Michael Todd True Organics Skincare and Laura Mercier Artist's Palette, but I have more detailed reviews / pics of both of those coming soon so I won't talk about them here.  My favorite nail polish of the month was Julep's Ciara, which is one of those really cool iridescent colors that reminds me of a beetle wing.  My Michael Todd eye cream pump broke so I went back to my Kiehl's Creamy Avocado Eye Cream.  I love returning to an old product only to realize how much you missed it.  It's good stuff, as is the sample of Kiehl's Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate.  I put it on and was like ahhhh, dimethicone.  Silicones make any product feel luxurious.  I am not normally a Wen fan, but the Tea Tree Cleansing Conditioner makes my favorites because I've been using it more like a soothing spa treatment type hair mask rather than like a shampoo.  Tea tree oil is awesome on my scalp.  Finally, I busted out my L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Bronzed Taupe, which is one of those rare colors that looks stunning all on its own.  

That's all, folks!  How was your November?  What have you been loving lately?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Diniwilk Stew, Barfsgiving Edition

  • Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely, HEALTHY Thanksgiving.  As you may have guessed from the title, the Diniwilk family did not.  The plan was to hit up Justin's dad's family at noon, then hit up my parents' house a little after 2.  I was going to cook a third Thanksgiving dinner for J and the girls on Saturday, which has been the tradition since 2011.  I want to be able to practice, as I assume SOME DAY the torch will be passed to the next generation.   However, you know what they say about plans...
  • Lucy got sick Thanksgiving morning:
Sleeping next to her "bawf bucket"
  • We missed J's family's Thanksgiving entirely, but I dropped off my dish and folding chairs to my mom, so I was able to steal some turkey and other goodies to bring home.  Yay!
  • The girls seemed fine Friday morning, so we went to see Frozen (Loved it!  Not like I loved Brave, but it was a solid effort).
  • When Justin got home from work on Friday, I decided to hit up some stores to see if I could get a good deal on work pants.  Do you want to see my Black Friday haul?  Yay or nay?  My shopping bliss was cut short by Justin texting me multiple (really disgusting) pics demonstrating that Adriana was now sick.  Because just texting me to come home would be too simple.  
  • Don't worry, I deleted them.  This one is much nicer:
Looks just like sissy, no?
  • Adriana always gets way sicker than Lucia, so I stayed up with her all night so she didn't choke or make a giant mess.  Poor sick kiddo.
  • By lunchtime Saturday, I was sick and Adriana was much better.  Thankfully no one took pictures.  Needless to say, I did not cook a giant turkey dinner. 
  • Adriana surprise barfed last night, so my mom is watching her today since we have NONE VACATION TIME.  Best mom ever.  I probably could have either worked from home (explaining that I didn't want to spread my germs, which is legit) or used a sick day as I still do not feel great, but even if it's legitimate, I feel like everyone will think I'm a giant faker who is trying to cheat an extra vacation day if I take off on any monday, friday, or day before or after a holiday.  I understand that I am a grown ass woman and that I put in WAY more hours for this job than the 40 required of me, but I am still weird about stuff like that.  Plus, I do get 3 weeks of vacation and 4-5 personal absence days a year, so I technically should have time left to account for illnesses.  I'm down to 4 hours and they are spoken for.  I would say that 85% of my time off this year has either gone to tending sick kids or cleaning my house while the kids were at daycare.  We didn't even take a vacation.  Bleh. 
  • And a quick note about NaBloPoMo...I definitely failed, missing multiple days and bunching up posts to make up for it, but I still hope it was more enjoyable than painful for you all to read.  I had 25 posts, which beat both 2012 (22) and 2011 (21) so I'm calling it a win.  Some day I will complete a real NaBloPoMo without cheating, and will actually finish the girls' birth stories (which has been my goal for the last 3, oops).  If you participated, how did you do? And I really do want to hear how your Thanksgiving was!  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

101 in 1001: Writeoffs

I have a number of 101 in 1001 items that are just never going to happen (my clock runs out this Christmas).  Lacey wrote off some of her items early; I plan to do the same.  I have donated $150 to CASA, Habitat for Humanity, the Akron Art Museum, and Child Guidance and Family Solutions.  The first three are definitely places I'd love to get more involved with down the road, and the last one was to help out a friend in her fundraising efforts.  In my younger days, I was REALLY into volunteering, but I have basically only donated money or blood rather than time since I got pregnant with Adriana.  I love that my child free friends are so amazing and are involved in so many great organizations, and I figure that if I can't join them, I can at least help via the checkbook.  

So, $150 means that I can write off a whopping 30 items, which is good because I kind of suck at following through with goals.  But I'm still glad I tried, the items I ticked off were well worth it.  

As of right now:
47 items are checked off my 101 in 1001 list
4 items are done but I need to tell you about them (which I will do in this post)
22 items are (theoretically) doable
30 items I failed at, either because there is not enough time, money, warm days left to do it, or because I am a terrible person who fails at basic human decency.  These 30 items are the ones I'm writing off.

The 4 items I completed since my last update are:
- Make a photo book for each set of grandparents.  I didn't complete it on the epic scale I wanted to; they were just pictures from one photo shoot, but it was an amazing photo shoot and I'm glad we made the books.
- Take kids to swimming lessons.  The pool by us is shut down for upgrades for the next 18 months, so I outsourced this to my parents.  Still counts!  Both girls have moved up a level since they started, so I assume this means they are learning things.
- I hadn't been keeping count, but I checked my numbers when I donated in September and I have well exceeded my goal to donate blood five times; I did it 8 times.  This most recent time went to help newborns, which is my favorite thing ever.
- Get 5 massages and 5 pedicures.  My pre-Blathering pedicure was the last to check this off; I got the massages covered by the end of my third trimester with Lucia.  

Write-offs due to lack of remaining time / it was time specific and I failed:
3) Write quarterly letters to the kid(s), do not miss any (more)
6) Change the holiday door decoration every holiday for a year
17) Read 101 books
35) Go to a glass blowing class
61) Cut storage bins in half
67) Help mom complete her scanning project
83) Make a quilt
93) Complete a 365 day photo challenge

Write-offs due to choosing to spend money elsewhere:
24) Hire an electrician to look at basement light and to install living room overhead lighting
26) Paint the basement in moisture-proof paint
47) Fix gas line to stove
48) Install outlet in downstairs bathroom
72) Pay off all credit cards
90) Visit a national park I’ve never been to

Write-offs due to lack of remaining sunny days:
13) Make beds for a garden
74) Take kid(s) to Cedar Point
86) Go on a picnic
87) Take a nature hike in CVNP
88) Go canoeing / tubing
89) Fly a kite
99) Go geocaching

Write-offs that I should have completed and didn't because I'm a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD PERSON:
31) Visit my great aunt in Wisconsin
54) Send a handwritten letter to my 6 closest high school friends
63) Participate in a charity walk
69) Send 10 cards via USPS in a timely manner for birthdays, retirements, sympathy, new home, new baby, etc.
70) Send 10 handwritten thank you cards for 10 different occasions
76) Find at least one couple with a similar aged kid(s) to hang out with on a semi-regular basis
77) Have mom and dad over for dinner 5 times
78) Have in laws over for dinner 5 times
79) Find a meaningful way to thank mom and dad for everything they have done for us

I probably techncially completed items 69 and 70, but still was so far off from what I SHOULD HAVE done that I'm calling it a fail.

The only thing on here that I don't actually WANT to do anymore is write the letter to my 6 high school friends...a couple have gotten out of touch so it would just be weird.  So I plan to still have the rest of these on my "life list" and come back to the original 101 in 1001 list and check these off with the dates I completed them, because I'm OCD like that.  You will also see some of these come back in my 2014 goals.