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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reader Request: Eye Creams For Hydration, Wrinkle Repair, Anti-Aging, Dark Circles, Brightening, and Puffiness

This post has been highly requested...I know Mama Tully has asked for it twice (oops!), Ginger asked for it a long time ago, and April and A'Dell recently requested it.  I have been putting it off because I have yet to find a miracle cure for myself...I was hoping that in my sampling journey I'd find something amazing so I could really recommend with confidence, but that hasn't really happened yet.  Instead, I'll give you guys all of the ammo you need to make an informed decision about which eye cream might possibly fix your specific eye needs.  I hope.    

Here are the things I know work for me: Sleeping at least 8 hours (duh), drinking tons of water (duh), wearing sunscreen and sunglasses (duh squared), making a conscious effort to stop making a bitch face in meetings or when watching Caillou, consistently using my Clarisonic Mia, and the Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle I mentioned in last year's skin care post.  I have some (Kiehl's) eye creams that I think are very hydrating for my dry under-eye skin, but nothing that makes me feel like the fine lines are magically disappearing before my very eyes.  Basically, I spend a lot of time staring in the mirror thinking "DOES THIS SHIT REALLY WORK?"  and am still not clear on the answer.  

The best advice I can give you is to figure out what problem you are trying to correct and to choose an eye cream that has ingredients that work for that problem.  I have tried to offer up some solutions for each of these problems based on the ingredients, lots of reading "Best Eye Cream Ever" lists, and tons of YouTube skin care routine video watching.  These are the products that seem to be most recommended by the internets.  

Sensitive Skin: I have found that many eye creams I have tried are too much for my wimpy eyes and either sting or make me tear up.  I could write a book about how much I love Kiehl's products; they are very soothing on my skin.  I find shea butter works spectacularly on the rest of my dry skin, so it makes sense that I like it in my eye cream.  I have tried and enjoyed both the Rosa Arctica Eye Cream ($46; contains Squalane, White Birch, Rosa Arctica, Cocoa and Shea Butters, Oleic, Stearic, and Palmitic Acids), and the Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($28; contains Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, and Beta Carotene).  The avocado one actually has really similar ingredients to the fan favorite Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, but the BB is $49 so Kiehl's is more affordable.  

Hydration: If your undereye skin is really dry and needs plumped up, hyaluronic acid hydrates and ceramides retain moisture.  Mario Badescu is a very affordable brand and carries both options ($18 for the Hyaluronic Eye Cream or the Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream).  On the WAY other side of the price spectrum is the $140 ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Eye Cream, and in the middle lies the $52 Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Eye Cream and the $38 Caudalie Vinosource Morning Eye Rescue.  Also, this isn't an eye cream, but did you know that the Cera part of the drugstore brand CeraVe is for ceramides?  Now you do!

Wrinkle Repair: Retinol is your friend, ladies!  This ingredient may be too harsh, but if you can withstand it, you should use it.  Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream is a very affordable option at $21; Vichy's LiftActiv Retinol HA Eyes is more expensive at $43.  These are both great options because they also have hyaluronic acid in them.  Double tap!!  

Anti-Aging: If retinol is too harsh for your skin, look for a product with peptides, collagen, or elastin.  Peter Thomas Roth's Mega Rich Intensive Anti-Aging Cellular Eye Cream ($65) offers all three.  Anything with vitamins C and E also provide general anti-aging benefits; vitamin C produces collagen and vitamin E soothes skin.  Tarte's Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment is a reasonably priced option for $38.  

Puffiness: Caffeine is becoming increasingly popular for getting rid of eye puffiness because (I assume) it helps increase blood flow.  The $42 Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream and the $30 Origins GinZing both contain this ingredient.  I also really love the cooling effect of the $12 Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll On and Frownies Eye Gels (two Birchbox products I tried and repurchased).  

Dark Circles: Really, dark circles are genetic and there is not a ton you can do about them.  Your best bet is finding a good concealer and combining it with a brightening eye cream or getting an eye cream with a tint. Olay's Regenerist Eye Cream with Touch of Concealer is a good drugstore option.  I'm also tempted to recommend Kiehl's Christe Marine Firming Eye Treatment because it specifically says it helps dark circles, even though the description sounds suspiciously gimmicky (they never explain WHY this magical algae does what it claims).   

Brightening: Like correcting dark circles, brightening is really more of an optics trick and won't actually solve your skin issues.  Couldn't hurt though, right?  I'd go with the Origins I linked in the puffiness section for this one, mostly because YouTube seems to love it.  

All of the above?  Caudalie's Premier Cru The Eye Cream is $98, but it has a ton of amazing ingredients that may justify the price tag (for some...I'm not there yet).

Want to read more? Here are some links I consulted while researching this post, in order of helpfulness:
Daily Makeover

Have you found a holy grail eye product?  PLEASE SHARE, we clearly need help!

Book Club Book Goal

While I realize that my 101 in 1001 goal to read 101 books is totally not happening, that has not stopped me from creating a brand new book goal.  I was sitting there at book club the other night, thinking about how much I adore being a part of such an awesome group of (currently all) women and how much I look forward to book club every month.  Considering how true those two things are, it is completely ridiculous that my success rate for completing the books has completely sucked.  Not only do I want to fix that, but I want to make it my goal to FINISH every book that has been on the list for any of the book clubs I've participated in for the past 7 years.  It's definitely doable - I quit a number of them with like 50 pages left to go.  
So, going backwards through time...
Akron Book Club (this will continue to be updated)
- Apr 2017: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
- Mar 2017: Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of Amnesiac Patient H.M.
- Feb 2017: Stamped From the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
- Jan 2017: Dark Matter
- Dec 2016: Backstage Pass
- Nov 2016: Adnan's Story
- Oct 2016: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
- Sep 2016: Dreamland
- Aug 2016: The Sympathizer
- Jul 2016: Big Girls Don't Cry, The Election That Changed Everything
- Jun 2016: Trigger Warning
- May 2016: Fates and Furies
- Apr 2016: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
- Mar 2016: Girl in a Band
- Feb 2016: Unbecoming
- Jan 2016: Yes, Please
- Dec 2015: Girl on a Train
- Dec 2015: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
- Nov 2015: All the Light We Cannot See
- Oct 2015: There is No Lovely End
- Sep 2015: Not That Kind of Girl (completed Sep 2015)
- Aug 2015: Go Set a Watchman (completed Aug 2015)
- Jul 2015: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window And Disappeared (completed July 2015)
Jun 2015: Annihilation (completed Sep 2015)
- May 2015: The Husband's Secret (completed May 2015)
- Apr 2015: The Secret Place (completed Apr 2015)
- Mar 2015: Five Days At Memorial
- Feb 2015: The Art of Fielding (completed Feb 2015)
- Jan 2015: The Book Thief (completed Oct 2015)
- Dec 2014: Serial Podcast (completed Dec 2014)
- Nov 2014: The Hundred Year House (completed Oct 2014)
- Oct 2014: The Interestings (completed Sep 2014)
- Sep 2014: A Complete History of Nearly Everything
- Aug 2014: Eleanor and Park (completed Jun 2014)
- Jul 2014: Whip Smart (completed Jul 2014)
- Jun 2014: The Hard Way on Purpose (completed Aug 2014)
- May 2014: Life After Life
- Apr 2014: Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls (completed May 2014)
- Mar 2014:The Unlikely Disciple (completed May 2014)
- Feb 2014: The Year of Magical Thinking (completed in 2010)
- Jan 2014: A Good Lord Bird (completed Sep 2015)
- Nov 2013: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (completed Nov 2013)
- Oct 2013: Girls in White Dresses (completed Oct 2013)
- Sep 2013: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
- Aug 2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (completed Aug 2013)
- Jun 2013: Geek Love
- May 2013: Fall to Pieces
- Apr 2013: Lean In
- Mar 2013: State of Wonder
- Feb 2013: A Proper Education for Girls
- Jan 2013: Anna Karenina
- Nov 2012: Some Girls: My Life in a Harem (completed Nov 2012)
- Oct 2012: In the Land of Invisible Women
- Sep 2012: Gone Girl (completed Sep 2012)
- Aug 2012: Unbroken (completed Aug 2012)
- July 2012: Just Kids (completed Jul 2012)
- May 2012: 50 Shades of Grey (completed May 2012)

Book It 2.0:
- Apr 2012: There But For The
- Mar 2012: The Great Gatsby (completed in high school)
- Feb 2012: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (completed Feb 2012)
- Jan 2012: The Marriage Plot
- Oct 2012: The Tiger's Wife
Twitter/Chicken Book Club:
- Oct 2012: What Alice Forgot (completed Oct 2012)
- Sep 2012: Perks of Being a Wallflower (completed in college or maybe grad school)
- Aug 2012: A Discovery of Witches (completed Aug 2012)
- July 2012: Jane (completed Jul 2012)
- June 2012: The Mysterious Benedict Society
Book Lushes (some time in 2010 I think?): 
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- The Help
- Olive Kitteridge
- The Year of Magical Thinking
- The Red Tent
Read Between the Wines:
- May 2010: The Unnamed
- Mar 2010: All the Way Home
- Feb 2010: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (completed Feb 2010)
- Nov 2009: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (completed Nov 2009)
- Sep 2009: Breakfast of Champions (completed in high school)
- Jul 2009: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
- April 2009:The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay
- Feb 2009: What is the What
- Nov 2008: Netherland
- Sep 2008: Everything is Illuminated
- Aug 2008: American Gods
- Jul 2008: The Time Traveler's Wife (completed Jul 2008)
- Jun 2008: Then We Came to the End
- May 2008: A Thousand Splendid Suns (completed May 2008)
- Apr 2008: The Alchemist (completed Apr 2008)
- Mar 2008: On Beauty (completed Mar 2008)
- Feb 2008: A Year of Living Biblically (completed Feb 2008)
- Jan 2008: Middlesex (completed Jan 2008)
- Dec 2007: A Dirty Job (completed Dec 2007)
Also...are any of you ladies of the internet book clubbing it together?  Can I join?  I'd love to have one real life one and one internet one again.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Parenting Developmentally Opposite Kids

Okay, so if you are still with me, I just posted about where Adriana and Lucia are at developmentally right now.  You may have noticed that my girls are completely opposite - Adriana is stronger in language and cognitive development, whereas Lucia is stronger in social/emotional and physical.  When combined with the fact that Adriana is JUST LIKE ME and Lucia is not, this makes for some interesting parenting challenges.  

1) I am worried that Adriana will be "The Smart One" and Lucia will be "The Cute/Funny One" and how that will affect them.  While I never had a sister, I spent my entire second pregnancy hearing stories about Sister Issues.  I'm worried that the fact that the girls are so different is going to cause problems with their self esteem or make them super competitive with each other.  It's probably weird to worry about this before their personalities are formed enough to even know how well they even fit into these categories, but I do anyway.  

2) It's hard not to compare them.  I have joked since she was tiny that I think Lucia might be a bit of a ding dong.  This is because she didn't speak as quickly as Adriana, or learn her ABCs as quickly, and she still doesn't know her colors.  It's hard for me to keep things in perspective - she is a totally normal two year old, if not above average.  Just because she is learning at a different rate than Adriana does not mean she will be any less intelligent.  It also works in reverse...don't think I haven't noticed that Lucia was telling us she loved us without prompting before Adriana had even started doing that.  Does this mean Adriana won't be as loving of a person as Lucia?  No.  But it's still hard not to notice.  I am definitely very aware that I need to be careful about these comparisons and make sure that the girls know that I think they are both amazing and that none of their differences mean I love one more than the other or any of that nonsense.  They are just different, and I think it's cool that they are their own little people. 

3) I find myself reacting to them differently.  This one is a) because I see so much of myself in Adriana it scares me, b) Adriana talks like she is older, so I expect her to ACT older, and c) Lucia talks like a baby (and is the baby of the family), so I treat her like a baby.  I feel like Adriana had to grow up so fast, becoming a big sister at just 22 months.  I feel bad that Adriana didn't get to be a baby for long, and wonder if that is why she is still a little emotionally immature.  There is also this weird mix of being frustrated when she acts out but also totally remembering being EXACTLY LIKE HER as a kid, so I end up being way too hard on her and then feeling super guilty about it and overcompensating by being too lovey with her.  I can see why my mom has commented about me sending mixed messages.  Lucy, on the other hand, can be a total baby a-hole and I hardly yell at her because she's just a baybeeeee.  I am trying really hard to be more level headed and treat them equally and fairly, but I sort of feel like my progress will remain stalled until I get this damn Mirena out.  Ugh, I hate being yelling mom.  Hate it.  And the worst part is that all of this basically means that I am doing the exact same freaking thing to Adriana as my parents did to me - they were always way harder on me than my brothers.  I do see now that my personality sort of invites that.  Sigh.  

I want to your kids' differences affect how you parent them?  How do you balance it out?  And if your kid is exactly like you, do you think it makes them harder to parent or easier?  

Lucia's Development - Age 2

I just talked about Adriana's development, time to see how Lucia compares to the CDC milestones for 2 year olds and 3 year olds.  

Generally, I think Lucia is on track in all areas.  She is stronger in Social/Emotional and Physical development than she is in Cognitive or Language/Communication, but even in the weaker areas she is definitely still age appropriate.  She meets all of the 2 year old criteria and well over half of the 3 year old.  

Language and Communication: Lucia's vocabulary is pretty large and she can speak in longer sentences, but she can be hard to understand, even for me.  She has trouble with her R's (subs in a W sound) and S's (often drops it if it's the first letter of a word and is followed by another consonant, like saying "Nake" instead of "Snake").  She says stuff like "My Lucia" or "I Lucia" instead of "I'm Lucia", so she is still working on pronouns.  She gets huffy if you, for example, try to tell her she's funny - she adamantly says, "No, I LUCIA".  She can tell me what most objects I point to in a book are, and if she doesn't know the name of something she will point and ask "what that?"  She can follow commands with multiple steps but asks for confirmation that she is doing it right.  Like, if I tell her to get her socks, and there are no other socks around, she will walk up to one and say "THIS sock?" and then I'll say yes, then she'll walk to the other sock 2 inches away and say "THIS sock?" and wait to make sure that yes, I wanted her to wear THOSE socks.  

Cognitive: Lucy loves to nurture her babies, tell them they are "sooooo cuuuute!!" and play pretend (she's usually a kitty cat or decides that she's the mom and Adriana is the dad).  She knows her ABC's but thinks "double q" is a letter, and can count past 10 but thinks "eleventeen" is a number.  She can match up colors but she only consistently recognizes black, purple, and sometimes green (to the point that I've questioned if she is color blind).  She can count 5 objects on a paper before she starts double counting items.  She can draw lines and circles and she pretends that little marks are letters.  She can build really tall towers, but struggles a bit with unscrewing caps; buttons and zippers are too frustrating.  

Physical: This kid is a little daredevil, she is constantly climbing things and jumping off.  She is great at running, jumping, and going up and down stairs.  She can throw and kick a ball, but she gets frustrated trying to pedal her tricycle.  It is almost creepy how well she dances, shaking her little butt in time with the music (and, if we are really lucky, throwing in a well-timed ass slap or two)(seriously OMG where did she learn that).  When we observed Adriana's tap class, Lucia was not content to sit in my lap; she started doing the moves right along with the big kids, doing just as well as kids who had been in the class for weeks.  

Social and Emotional: Lucia loves to play with other kids; I practically have to drag her kicking and screaming out of daycare every day.  She loves to assert her independence, and can throw a major temper tantrum when she doesn't get her way.  She understands the concepts of sharing and taking turns, but doesn't always like to do it.  She doesn't care about rules; she scribbles on the walls every chance she gets and thinks it's hilarious when we get mad.  However, she can also be a really sweet and nurturing girl, always taking care of her babies and trying to kiss Adriana if she has a boo boo or is upset.  She will frequently tell us she loves us or come in for hugs and kisses without being prompted to do so. She is a little ham, and is super expressive.  She loves to make people laugh by making silly faces.  

Some typical Lucy hambone faces:

Adriana's Development - Age 4

Every once in a while I like to look at the various milestone charts (4 year old here and 5 year old here) and kindergarten readiness checklists to see where Adriana stands.  I won't bore you by going through the lists point by point, but I do want to talk about some themes for both kids.  And I plan to talk about what this all means to me as a parent and what I struggle with in a third post if you can stick with me until then :)

Generally, I think Adriana is ahead of the curve for language/communication and cognitive skills, average for physical development, and needs to work on social and emotional development.  

Language and Communication: Adriana is too smart for her own good.  She has always spoken clearly and been easily understandable, even to people who are not related to her.  Her vocabulary is insane; she uses big words and she uses them correctly 98% of the time.  She loves to repeat words and phrases she hears on tv, and is always cracking me up because she sounds like a little teenager.  She uses slang and inflection.  Her grammar is usually spot on, to the point that it throws me when she thinks mouse and mice are two different animals.  She can tell me the entire plot of a movie she has seen once, and can make up her own (surprisingly detailed) stories borrowing elements from books and tv.  She may start with a dragon king and end up with sister princesses as the main characters, but it's still fascinating to see how her little mind works.   She knows her first and last name, but sometimes forgets her middle.  She knows all but the street number in her address, but sometimes forgets which is the city and which is the state if I ask it separately.  

Cognitive: Adriana can write her first name on her own, and can write her middle and last if I tell her what letter comes next.  She can count to 39, but I have to remind her what comes next after each x9 number after that.  She can write all uppercase letters, recognize most lowercase, and tell me what sound many letters make.  Sometimes (for example) I'll make a K sound and ask what letter that is and she says "key" instead of K and I have to remind that it has to be in the ABCs to be a letter.  She is really good with scissors (when she's not cutting her hair), and loves simple games like Candyland, Go Fish, and this awesome game my brother got her called The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game.  She understands that fruits, veggies, and protein help you grow, you need money to buy things, and that makeup is awesome.  

This is what her drawings look like:

Adriana, Dada, Mama (because the head is bigger, I guess), Lucia
This is what her coloring looks like:

She tells me that I taught her how to color in the lines so good, and that she likes the "patterin" :)
And this is what her homework looks like: 
Ignore the bedhead, it was like 5 am so we hadn't showered yet
Physical: I have been impressed by her coordination since she was 15 months old and in Tiny Tots; glad she has some Justin in her after all.  She can hop, skip, jump, somersault, kick a ball with amazing accuracy, and looks adorably graceful in gymnastics and ballet.  She is a bit off-beat in tap, but I can't tell if it's because she gets so caught up in embellishing the movements and adding her own spin or if it's a sign that she's my daughter.  While she is pretty coordinated, she doesn't have a ton of endurance - she rides a bike with training wheels and will go on a short jog, but quits both pretty quickly because she's "tiiiiiiiiired".  However, she will run indefinitely when she's chasing other kids so maybe it's just a matter of desire.  Adriana frequently insists that I wipe her butt because "poop is disgusting" and she's "scared to get it on her", as if I don't agree and am happy to do it for the rest of her life. 

Social and Emotional: This is a bit of a struggle for Adriana.  She is more frequently demanding than she is cooperative, especially in the mornings and evenings when she is tired.  She loves to sing, dance, play pretend, and play with other kids, but she will get violent if she isn't getting enough attention or isn't getting her way (or is hungry or tired or just because she feels like it).  I have tried to explain to her about why we never, ever hit and how to be kind and to be a good friend, but she just looks at me and I can see that she's frustrated with she tells me that she just doesn't know HOW to be good.  She knows how to work the system and will frequently start sayings "sorry, sorry, sorry!" if she does something bad, but I rarely get the impression that she is ACTUALLY sorry.  When I put her in time out, she gets really upset and starts crying because "No one doesn't LOVE ME anymore!"  (she hasn't figured out double negatives yet).   Adriana has best friends, but I'm not sure that the kids she says are her best friends are actually her best friends (for example, for a long time she told me one little boy is her bff, but he hasn't been in her school for over a year...then another little girl told me they were bffs at the Halloween party, and it was news to Adriana).  She wants kids in her class to like what she is wearing or to tell her she has pretty hair, but seems less concerned with them wanting to like her for non-superficial reasons.  She is able to make friends at the park or in the mall pretty easily, and she seems like she is playing well with the other kids when I go get her at daycare.  Her teacher tells me that she doesn't get in trouble any more or less than any other kid in her class, so that is definitely an improvement from last year and a sign that she is growing up a bit. However, we have been struggling with her ability to follow the rules and listen in some of her extracurricular activities (more on that later).  She can be really shy and clingy when she first gets in a new situation, but doesn't take long to warm up.  She has been having trouble sleeping alone at night or in the dark.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Enabler Alert: Urban Decay Naked 3 Is Available For Purchase!!!

WOOHOO, Naked 3 is up for sale!!! 

Literally the second I got the email I went right to the UD website and bought it, like a woman possessed.  JUST this morning I had put on my Laura Mercier Artist's palette and congratulated myself for choosing that over the Naked 3 for my Project 25 pan round 2 prize, since it's limited edition and Naked 3 is not.  

And then this.  

Sorry I'm not sorry.  

I will cancel Popsugar today to make up for slipping on 25 Pan YET AGAIN, and then go home and look at my overflowing beauty closet and remind myself why I am doing this.  

And then do a little dance because I'M GETTING THE NAKED 3!!!

Anyway, why are you still reading this?  GO GET YOU SOME!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Little Girl Christmas Gift Ideas 2

Apparently it's gift guide day here at The Diniwilks.  I noticed that my post from last year was getting some traffic, plus Michelle and Kori's posts are motivating me to actually figure some Christmas stuff out.  

We have been desperately trying to get toys out of our house lately, so my plan is to a) make sure I mention clothing sizes and art supplies or other items that can be used up to family members asking for gift ideas, and b) casually mention to my mom that our zoo membership expired.

However, I do want my girls to walk down to a tree full of gifts.   In the past, that means that clothes, shoes, rain gear for the spring, bathing suits for the summer, sheets, and other things I would buy them ANYWAY have all been considered perfectly acceptable Christmas gifts.   See Christmas 2011 as a typical Christmas for us (with bonus teeny girlies!) 

Here is Adriana's wish list.  This is going to be difficult, to say the least.  I don't even know what half of this means.  

Lucia simply wants "Presents" and "Birthday Presents", so I think I can figure something out :)

Stockings:  I follow my grandma's tradition of chocolate, an orange, tons of quarters, socks, underwear.  I add in fun band-aids and a new toothbrush to put my own (lame but practical) spin on it.  I will probably also give each of them a card game this year, like Go Fish or Memory.  

Big gift: I like to do one big shared gift, but I honestly can't think of anything this year.  They don't have a water table or a picnic table, but that's no fun since they can't even use it until the spring.  In addition to our zoo membership, our Children's museum and Natural History Museum memberships are done at the end of the year, or we could announce a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, but none of those are impressive under a tree.  I think I will just do a couple more smaller items than originally planned...I'll shoot for $100 per kid.  

Gifts for Adriana (Age 4):  I am ignoring all of her "things that turn into things" and "things that walk" requests.  Sorry, kid.  I plan to get her at least 4 winter appropriate dresses and matching tights and a bathing suit since we may do a winter vacation this year.  I will also hit up Claire's and get her some cute rings and maybe a necklace.  Stuff that's a little more grown up than any of the play jewelry she has today.  She is the girliest girl ever, so different from me as a kid.  

Even though we don't have Disney, she knows who Sophia the First is and likes her. This doll doesn't walk, but it talks, so I'm guessing it's a good choice.  I have a feeling that Lucy will play with her more even though Adriana asked for her.  

We actually don't have a ton of dress up stuff, so I am also looking at a Sophia the First dress and Royal Purse set.  I am NOT getting the heels because I hate those things with a passion.  

I am thinking that the Disney Princess Royal Carriage Playset is probably closest to what she is picturing in her head.  

I will also get the extra princesses to go with it.  Again, they don't walk, but she DID ask for Snow White and Cinderella.  

I love this Melissa and Doug Bead Set because it has the added benefit of being able to work on spelling.  

That puts me at $111 plus clothes, so I'm calling it good.  

Gifts for Lucia (Age 2): Lucy doesn't really need much in the way of clothing, but I might get her a bathing suit that matches whatever I buy Adriana and some rain boots because we don't have any in her size.  

Lucia has LOVED babies since she was teeny tiny.  She already has a ton of them, but most of them are kind of cheapie dolls that don't do anything special.  I am loving this Baby Alive Make Me Better doll because I can just picture Lucy taking her temperature and fixing her boo-boos.  She's a really nurturing kid.  

We need more cookware and play food, and Lucia literally stops and plays with this stuff every single time I'm trying to get her to leave daycare.  I like that the KidCraft items are plastic, since the Melissa and Doug wooden stuff has the tendency to become weapons.  Both girls will play with these cute sets, and it will make the playroom kitchen area feel more complete.  I'm considering adding a grocery cart but they seem overpriced for what they are.  

Justin added this cute Webkins bunny to the shopping cart, presumably for Lucia (she loves bunnies).  

To round out Lucy's list I will probably add a movie.  We don't have Monster's University or either of the Despicable Me movies yet.  Lucy's gifts would then be $85 plus the cost of the movie and whatever we end up getting clothing-wise.  

I am not worried about the fact that Adriana will have more to open; she is a zillion times faster than Lucy.  And it's not like they won't share 100% of everything anyway.  

If you have done your list yet, link below!  I feel like my list is still subject to change at this point, so maybe one of you thought of something amazing that I haven't.  

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for the Makeup Lover / Product Whore / Goo Hoarder in Your Life

Do any of you have makeup lovers in your life but have no idea what to get them?  This list is for you!  And for Ashley, who requested it.  Hope it helps!  


Nothing beats a good palette!  I'd recommend getting a nice neutral palette for someone who LOVES makeup but maybe they can't afford the nice stuff or they are newly obsessed and are just starting their collection.  First, think about what your makeup lover likes.  If your makeup lover prefers warm tones, get Naked 1, and if she loves cool tones, get Naked 2; both are $52.  If they like plums/pinks, see if your Sephora still has the $48 Laura Mercier Artist's Palette (it's sold out online, but my store still has it) or the brand new Naked 3 palette ($53; not yet released...maybe Black Friday?).  If those aren't available, the $40 Lorac Unzipped is beautiful.  If you like this idea but aren't trying to spend a ton of money, Naked Basics is $27 and Ulta had a holiday set with Lorac Pro and Primer for something like $38, but it's not on the website (hopefully it's not sold out, I wanted it for my next round of Project 25 Pan).  Lorac Pro is also good for people whose color preference you don't know; it has a little bit of everything.  

Sephora has two really great sets out for the holidays: the $45 Sephora Favorites Lash Stash which has 11 mascaras, and the $30 Sephora Favorites Draw the line has 6 eyeliners (but really 7, the UD pencil is double sided).  I also really love the $36 UD Black Market pencil set, which I swatched here.  


For the girl who can't get enough lip gloss, I have been positively drooling over the Buxom gift sets.  There is a $59 one with 15 glosses or a $29 one with 6.  These are simply beautiful glosses, and have a yummy minty taste.  The Stila lip glaze set is also super affordable at 9 glosses for $28, I personally just don't like clicky pens.  More of a balm person?  These Kiehl's balms are AMAZING, and you can get a set for $30.  Finally, your Sephora may have Give Me Some Lip and Give Me More lip, but they are sold out online (booooooo).  


The $65 NARS Guy Bourdin cheek palette is perfect for someone who has high end tastes but doesn't own a lot of NARS (die hard NARS fans will already own Laguna, Orgasm, and Deep Throat, which is half the palette).  A more affordable option is this $29 tarte set from QVC.  


There are 3 different Living Proof sets for $29, which allows you to try out the line.  Or you could go with a really nice hair mask.  I personally love the $35 Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask, but the $33 Macadamia Oil Deep Hydrating Mask probably does the same thing and it's more easily accessible (you can buy it at Target!)  Maybe pair it with a $12 Turbie Twist and/or some $13 Hot Buns for a fun theme.  


I think it would be super fun to receive a mask basket.  You could a) get a variety of the $6 freeman masks or b) Get some of those little $1 drugstore masks (freeman or whatever brand Target carries, I forget) and put it in a basket with one really nice fancy mask.  I love Michael Todd's masks (all of them, they are usually around $34), but have also been wanting to try the fresh black tea body perfecting mask ($88!! AHHH!!) or the origins clear improvement active charcoal mask ($16 or $24, depending on size). 

I am also a big fan of skincare sets. Michael Todd has $39 Discovery collections or $75 full size regimens for a variety of skin types.  This $50 Origins set looks amazing, as does the $65 Kiehl's Creme de Corps set.  

And I know that Bath and Body works stuff is basically the least original Christmas gift ever, but their True Blue Spa line feels luxurious on the skin.  I am partial to the $15 Shea Butter body cream and $20 foot cream.  They used to have a peppermint foot cream but it appears to be discontinued.   These would be great in a basket with some of those gel socks and gloves that you are supposed to wear when you are letting lotion sink in, or maybe a really cozy robe.  


Essie is normally hit or miss for me, but I love every color in their winter collection.  I just watched the video by MissJenFabulous where she swatched them all, and the formula looks decent (I think I only hate Essie's pastel and nude formulas).  These are great stocking stuffers on their own at $8.50 each, or you can get the $17 set of 4 minis.  

If you know a hardcore nail polish fan, try a Julep subscription (referral link here, past reviews here) for some year round fun.  

All of the above: 

As you may have gathered, I love and highly recommend all of the Sephora Favorites sets in general.  The larger $75 ish Sephora Favorites Super Stars set appears to be sold out online, but if you can get your hands on it in the store, it is amazing.  The $45 Glitz and Glam set is still available, woohoo!  

You could also give the gift that keeps on giving, and do either a Birchbox subscription (referral link here, past reviews here) or an Ipsy subscription (referral link here, past reviews here).  I tell people to do Birchbox if the recipient likes skin and hair, and Ipsy if they are more into makeup.  It's my understanding that at least the Ipsy gift subs are sold out, but no worries!  Just go to Sephora or UIta, buy some sample sized goodies located near the register, and package it in a cute box with a note telling them what you are planning on ordering once the subs are open again.  The waitlist is never more than a month or two, it will be fine!

If anyone wants a review of any of these items, let me know!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Unexpected Surprise

It's pretty rare to get unexpected surprises of the good variety in year 7 of a relationship.  

Justin got a crappy surprise today when he realized he didn't have his wallet and yesterday's shorts were no longer next to the bed.  He knew what that meant - I am horrible at checking pockets.  The worst part is that I noticed the shorts were heavy, but I attributed it to the belt and took it off while the shorts were sitting in the laundry basket.  He ran down and retrieved his wallet from the washer but it was too late - the contents were soaked. 

I went into the kitchen to assess the damage, and lookie what I found:

If you can't read it, it says "Justin - Don't worry about running to my car to get the jump drive.  I'll call you after my meeting.  Love, Laura"

When I asked Justin why it was in his wallet, he said "It's the only thing you've ever written me."

While that CAN'T be true, I can only think of birthday cards and maybe a valentine's day card or two....other than that, anything I've ever written is electronic.  Emails, texts, instant messages.  We have never been long distance and we have seen each other almost every day for 7 years.  No need for notes.  I don't even write out our grocery list, I text it to him.

I have zero memories of writing that note.  From the contents, I'd say it's from the first year of our relationship; Justin was a security guard at my office building.  I can't believe he is still carrying it in his wallet (which is only a couple of years old, at most).  Who knew he is so sentimental?

I feel kinda bad that he keeps stuff like this and I don't.  I do have the cards to every flower arrangement he has ever sent to work, but that's because I put them in my desk drawer right when I get them (and don't really keep much else in there).  Anything he has written me at home could be anywhere (but is most likely in a random crap bin).  I am particularly sad that I don't have the notes he put on top of the toilet when I was pregnant with Adriana.  He used to get home before me, so he would turn on the bathroom light, put up the seat, and leave a note on the tank to greet me.  I would then proceed to barf, but with a smile on my face.  I feel like notes that made me smile barf are worth keeping.  

I am glad I screwed up the laundry.  Happy surprise.