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April 15, 2018

Current Skincare + Everyday Makeup


Hi all! Today I wanted to share some of my current skincare and makeup products! I've done these posts before, but my routine is always changing so here are the updated products I use! As I always say - skincare is king in my routine, and the makeup is optional!

Morning Routine:
  1. Wash with a gentle cleanser - I love Cerave's foaming facial cleanser - perfect for normal to oily skin like mine! I always use a super gentle cleanser in the morning.
  2. Apply this eye serum under my eyes - love the cool rollerball effect. 
  3. Critical step that is missing from my routine - Vitamin C/antioxidant serum. I have yet to find one that doesn't break me out! I loved this one (most dermatologists swear by this one or its more moisturizing and more famous partner) but even though it's supposed to be better for acne-prone skin, my annoying skin still broke out :(
  4. Moisturize/protect/coverup with my favorite all-in-one product - Avene Complexion Correcting Shield. It comes in only 3 shades which can be problematic for some, but I love it so much I bought the dark shade too and add the tiniest drop to my medium for the perfect color match. Seriously - for women who are worried about dark marks and sun spots and fine lines, etc. THE most important part of your daily routine should be SUNSCREEN! And the SPF 8 that some makeups tout is just not going to cut it. I have a full post on sunscreen here.
  5. Fix up my eyebrows a bit with this pomade.
  6. Apply a bit of this lip tint that has SPF 15. Perfect hint of color and awesome that it's got some SPF. 
  7. If I want to put in a little extra effort I love this blush/bronzer that I lightly brush on my cheeks and nose, and follow with my most favorite mascara ever!
Evening Routine:
  1. Remove all makeup with this micellar water on a round cotton pad. Love how easily everything comes off. I finish with a final gentle wipe with the dry side of the pad. 
  2. In love with this exfoliating cleanser - it's got glycolic acid, salicylic acid, arbutin, green tea, and more. For sensitive skin I'd recommend this only 2-3 times a week. I use this nightly though, applying a small amount to dry skin and gently massaging (no need to scrub - scrubbing causes more irritation)! I leave on for maybe a minute and then rinse off.
  3. Apply this nighttime serum that feels so soothing and really keeps my skin glowing.
  4. Apply a tiny bit of this eye cream to my upper and lower lids. Feels so m oisturizing and really plumps up my undereyes.
Here's to happy, healthy, and glowing skin!


March 31, 2018

Real Life Meal Planning


The title of this blog post isn't meant to make any other meal planning sound not-so-real, but in our hectic lives, the reality is, when I tried the typical meal planning, I failed horribly within a few days or spent my entire weekend (one I'd rather spend with hubby and the girls) getting ready for a week of meals. So this post is all about what works for us and a few of our favorite easy meals. 

One of the questions I get asked all the time is what my typical “diet” looks like, and I guess I’ll start by saying I absolutely do not diet. Actually, the only time in my life I actually counted calories was when I was trying to gain weight and make sure I ate over 3000 calories a day while lifting heavy weights in the gym (basically what body builders do). It was torture and difficult to maintain, but I was insecure in my natural tooth-pick frame and wanted more curves! Many days (especially when I see pictures of myself and think I look way too skinny) I consider getting back to it, but most days I’m happy just how I am. Naturally skinny. My dad used to joke and call me Olive Oil or string bean growing up. Anyhow, all that to say – you can’t just look at how someone looks and assume their diet and exercise regimen is a certain thing – that goes for all body shapes and sizes.

So while I don’t really care about how many calories are coming in, one thing I do really care about is trying to make healthy choices with the food we eat, getting enough good stuff in our bodies, and being efficient with my time by planning and preparing. I try to cook at least 4 dinners a week, and with our schedule, it’s a little bit crazy, but that’s where meal planning saves the day. I’d be lying if I said I made my 4 meals a week goal every week though – there are some weeks we just get by on take out or chicken nuggets and that’s totally fine by me. So here's a bit of our routine.

On Saturday mornings before the kids are up I look through the kitchen and see what we have and what essentials we need to stock up on. Then I sit down and just write down 4 or 5 breakfast, snack and dinner options (lunch is included at the girls’ school and usually free at work for us so I tend to skip that). I like being flexible with my meal planning and just list meals instead of assigning a certain meal to a certain day (after all, by the time Tuesday comes along I rarely actually want the turkey pasta I had planned on making)! And making a whole bunch of pre-portioned meals in advance just doesn't work for us either - it may work for an individual or a couple, but it doesn't work well (for us) with three kids (and a husband who could eat all 5 prepared meals in one sitting). So, once I have this list I do all of my grocery shopping using Instacart.

This service has been a LIFESAVER. I don’t actually go to the grocery store anymore and I couldn’t be happier. It saves your previously ordered items so it makes picking up the same staples super easy. If you’re a bargain shopper like me then you can just search for what’s on sale or sort items based on price. Even for fresh produce, which I was worried about, you can actually write in notes – so for my bananas for example (the girls eat so many bananas) I always order a dozen and request that they get 6 that are already yellow and 6 that are green. Through the app you can chat with the person doing your shopping – so when the grocery store didn’t have the exact cake I ordered last minute for Ro’s first birthday, the shopper messaged me, then took a picture of all of the cakes they did have so I could pick the one I wanted. The only thing I sucked at in the beginning was paying attention to item size – I still remember buying some Pillsbury croissants at a huge steal, only to get like a doll-size can of croissants lmao! That was my fault, but definitely something to be aware of! Technically the prices are a tiny bit higher than in-store, but for me it’s totally worth it! By the way this is totally not a sponsored post for instacart (though I’d happily do one lol)! Just sharing a service that I truly do use weekly and that has given me back a lot of my time (shopping with the 3 girls or trying to wait for a time I can go when Nathan has the girls was just not working). If you want to try it out you can use this link (again, not sponsored, just the same "referral link" every user gets)!

So basically my Saturday morning I sit on my balcony sipping coffee, grocery shopping on my phone in like 5 minutes, and then getting the rest of the day started.

As far as the actual meals – I’d say breakfast is our easiest and likely healthiest meal of the day. The mornings are the most hectic time for me so having something that I can grab and go is critical to the mission’s success haha! My go-to is an overnight oat-chia pudding (eh more like a smoothie) that I make in advance on Saturday or Sunday! I combine 8oz organic whole milk (which can easily be swapped with almond milk or your other non-dairy milk of choice) with 2tbsp of chia seeds, ¼ cup of oats, 1tsp cinnamon, and a bit of sugar (eh probably the unhealthy addition but hey, most days I add ½ tbsp). I mix them in mason jars and cover and keep in the fridge to grab and go every morning! Love this power mix of chia seeds (fiber, omega-3 fats, and vitamins and minerals) and oats (fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals).

Other breakfast examples are below:

  •         Egg cups (I make these in advance in a muffin tray - mix about 4-5 eggs w/yolks and then egg whites, pour in muffin trays. Add some shredded cheese, peppers, or spinach (whatever veggies you like) and bake at 350 for 15 min! Super easy, and delicious. They pretty much never last past Sunday because we just eat them all lol. 
  •         Breakfast crackers (I’m addicted to the Belvita ones) and a string cheese
  •         Hot oatmeal with some fruit
  •         Quick toaster waffles and a banana


For dinners I try to keep it simple and make something I know that all of us will eat. An example of some of my dinners are below:

  •         Protein angel hair pasta with turkey spaghetti sauce and broccoli
  •         Rice and beans with chicken breast
  •         Cheese ravioli with creamy tomato sauce (I buy frozen cheese ravioli so all I have to do is boil it, then I heat up tomato sauce with cream cheese and toss in some capers – yum!)
  •         Slow cooker “Mexican” chicken (I just toss in chicken breast with a can of salsa and cook on low while I’m at work, usually about 7:30-5:30/6pm) – we make tacos with this or burrito bowls – super easy!

For the girls at school I still toss snacks in their bag (it’s a habit, I just want to make sure they eat lol) and some easy go-to’s are cheese strings, yogurt, and baked oatmeal bars. When we’re home for the weekends one of their favorite snacks is SMOOTHIES! I can put almost anything in a smoothie and they will devour it (especially if they think it’s mine, they always want what I have). I usually toss in frozen berries, banana, oats, chia seed, and juice.

Back to the work week though - I always plan a takeout day and keep that flexible for the days I get home and can’t find the energy to cook. But I truly find that a tiny bit of planning and prep makes this so much less likely – knowing what I’m going to cook and having all of the ingredients in the kitchen make a HUGE difference in actually doing it. If I have to think of what I’m going to cook for dinner by the time I get home it likely just isn’t happening.

Some other tips for meal planning? I’m a huge fan of frozen veggies. I find that when I try to cook super healthy and only buy fresh produce most of it goes to waste. So in my freezer I always have frozen chopped onions, frozen chopped peppers (one of my favorites to add to scrambled eggs), frozen spinach (I heat this up with garlic, crushed red pepper and cream cheese and make a creamy spinach sauce to add to angel hair pasta), and frozen broccoli and other veggies (for these I prefer the steam bags so I can just microwave them and have them ready in a few minutes)! The slow-cooker is another huge timesaver – I mentioned it before for our chicken, I also make turkey chili and other types of chicken in it)!

That’s pretty much all I can think of for now lol! It’s certainly not perfect, or always the healthiest, or whatever, but it works for us, and at the end of the day that’s what matters for you and your family! Whatever works! Would love to hear any of your tips! 

January 25, 2018

Mom Hacks for the First Year

Hi all! Today I wanted to do a fun post and share some mom hacks for life with a little one (think the first year). It’s crazy to think Ro will be one next month, but now that she’s my third I feel like I sort of have a handle on this whole mom thing. At least the first 4 years ;) The rest of it we take a day at a time! That’s probably the first mom tip – learn to go with the flow. Especially with your first – you will likely read all of the books and posts and mom blogs you can, but you will soon learn you just have to take it one day at a time and try your best! You'll get by with a whole lotta grace!

I think I’ll do another post in the future with some hacks that are more specific for the toddler years (when things get even more fun) – but for now we’ll focus on year 1! 

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1. Get baby used to a bottle sooner rather than later
Even if you’re not a mom who’s going to be headed back to work or planning to be away from baby for long enough to need a bottle, you can still use a break now or then. Getting baby able to take a bottle is key to freeing you up from always being around to nurse. It’s also 100% ok to supplement, and this is probably one of the most “freeing” things of all (I just had a full post dedicated to this)! We’ve tried many bottles with all three babies, based on either what was on sale or what was gifted to us, and it usually comes down to which you like best. With Ro we are using these Philips Avent natural baby bottles. Their shape and nipple promotes a natural latch so baby doesn’t get too confused if you’re going between bottle and breast, and they even have a little anti-colic valve that still helps reduce the amount of air baby takes in while she’s drinking. And I love that they come in pretty colors (always a plus)! Being able to have dad or another provider give a bottle while you do something else (eh sleep in the middle of the night, use the toilet, maybe even get a manicure??) is HUGE. I would also say don't place all of the pressure for what baby will take on the bottle itself - it's good to try the same bottle and have the milk heated at different temperatures, someone different feeding them, distraction techniques, etc. If none of those work, then you can try a different bottle!



2. Have a safe place to put them down
With Liv (my first baby) I think I spent too much money on trying to create a safe place. We had a crib. And then we bought a playpen. And then another playpen. And then a gate-thing. And then we sold or donated all the playpens and gates lol. Really I think the crib is all you need. If you are home alone (which many of us are) there’s nothing wrong with having a safe place for baby to put them down while you shower. Make sure there are no hazards within reach (and they somehow can reach farther than you think). Once baby is a little older even having them buckled in the highchair with something to keep them busy while you cook is a lifesaver. I know I’ve tried cooking dinner with a baby or two crawling up my legs and wanting to be picked up and it’s impossible! For the days they really need to be held (trust me, they’ll have those days) a baby carrier is a life saver (I’ve used them all - read a comparison guide here). But if they’re having a regular day, one fun thing to keep them busy is to have them in the highchair and give them a cheerio necklace (with supervision of course)! It’s great for a tiny snack, their fine motor skills, and keeping them busy so you can get something done! These are also great to use on shopping trips ;)



3. Have eyes (and ears) on them even when you’re not there
Now this is one thing I didn’t have with my first, and looking back I really wish I did! Being able to see them without you physically being there is a huge relief. Now I’m not advocating just putting your baby in the crib and letting them fend for themselves while you go off and live your life hahaha, but when they’re asleep (especially during nap times) it’s so helpful to have a set of eyes and ears that you can actually trust. How many of us have gotten baby down for nap and then spent most that time checking on them because you thought you heard coughing? Or just started shampooing your hair and run out because you thought you heard them crying (of course when you check, they’re still sound asleep). We’ve all been there. A monitor changes that. If you think you hear a peep, you can just look at the monitor and see what’s going on. I bring mine into the bathroom, out on our balcony, into my bedroom, into the kitchen – wherever I am that baby is not, and can continue what I’m doing while keeping an eye on her. We are absolutely loving our Philips Avent baby monitor (it’s the one I’ve shared on my IG story numerous times now)! We love it’s sleek design, range, and the sound and video quality. Philips Avent even has a smart baby monitor that connects with your phone through an app – just another way to simplify and streamline everything!




4. At this age, the more effort you put in, the less they’re usually interested
This might sound pessimistic of me, and I promise it’s not – just more like realistic! When it comes to toys (and even meals), the more elaborate I make things and the more money I spend seems to be inversely related to how much interest baby will actually take in the activity or meal. Spent $40 on a new toy? Baby prefers the wrapping paper and the box it came in. Spent an hour making ice cube baby snacks or some other elaborate Pinterest meal? Baby has more fun throwing it on the floor. Now obviously this isn’t always true, but I’ve found it easiest to try the simple option first. Get creative with (safe) household items. One of Ro’s favorite “toys” in the house (and we’ve got an entire playroom of real toys) is our laundry basket. She loves trying to get things out of or throwing things into it (when they’re smaller and not standing it makes a great place to put baby lol), and when I flip it over she loves using it as a walker and pushes it all over the house! We also love clear organizing bags (I love using them in my purse) but I’ll put a few little things in it and give it to her to play with (another great fine motor activity) under supervision!




5. Simplify bath time 
Some people love elaborate bath times, and if that’s you, don’t change. But if bath time is more of a drag, one thing I always did when pinched for time is take baby in the shower with me. Once they’re sitting on their own you can even sit them in the shower while you wash up and sing with them (one of my favorite things). Before they’re sitting it’s easiest to have someone else home who can take baby once you’re done washing them up so you can finish showering, but this isn’t always feasible. Another great thing (when they're smaller) is sink baths - these for me saved my back and were what we did all the time until Ro started getting a bit too big for our sink (one more reason to get one of those gorgeous farmhouse sinks)! Also - it's ok to not do bath or shower every day! We honestly do closer to 2 or 3 times a week, if that. So don't kill yourself trying to baths every night (I talked about this in my bedtime routine post)!


Thanks to Philips Avent for sponsoring this post and providing some of their products to try out! As always, thoughts and opinions are 100% mio (that’s mine in Spanish)!

January 14, 2018

Supplementing with Formula

Happy Sunday! Today I wanted to touch back on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and that is feeding baby. If you all follow my stories on IG, you know I'm always sharing shots of pumping at work - it's a hard job! I get asked a ton of questions after these posts and I always refer people to this huge pumping post I did a while back. It's got every tip I could think in there about pumping, and even a bit on supplementing with formula.


But I still get so many questions on whether it's ok the supplement that I wanted to dedicate a post on it. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SUPPLEMENTING WITH FORMULA. I always like to joke that I was exclusively formula-fed (I was) and I'm healthy and happy and most days relatively smart, Nathan too! Of course we now know that breast feeding has a ton of benefits for both mama and baby, so I think all of us now aim to be able to breastfeed. But sometimes it's not always possible to exclusively breast feed, and I am 100% against ever shaming a mama for this! I'm in the camp that believes at the end of the day FED IS BEST. So if you have to supplement here or there, or consistently, you do what you gotta do! Love your baby and provide them the best that you can (including the best you, which means not killing yourself over one aspect of providing for them)!  
  

Ro is 10-months now and since about the 8-month point I've had to start supplementing a bottle or two daily. I can only realistically pump once daily at lunch time so my supply has taken a huge hit. And she's eating nearly everything as far as solids now so she really isn't nursing/drinking breastmilk as much as she was prior to eating as much "real food." Initially I was spending a lot on name brand formula, but I later learned that the FDA has very specific nutrient requirements for infant formula and most are overall the same. So I started saving a bit of money and buying store brand formulas. Most recently we used Comforts Infant Formulas that have all of the vitamins and minerals baby needs (and come pediatrician recommended). They just came out with non-GMO Infant Formulas that are produced using ingredients that haven't been genetically engineered; we love this one (it's equivalent in nutrition to the Enfamil Infant formula we were using previously)!


I also love the storage container of this formula - it has a tab that keeps the scoop up and out of the formula (I always hated having to stick my fingers into the formula, even with clean hands) and a nifty little corner for leveling the scoop. Little things but they make a difference! Hope you guys appreciated this quick post. I really just wanted to normalize supplementing a bit more and share a brand that has been helping me save some money (and sanity, pumping is no joke). Breath easy mamas, you got this! Thanks so much to Comforts Brand for sponsoring this discussion! Comforts Infant Formula can be found exclusively at any Kroger family of stores.

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