Friday, July 10, 2015

I Refuse To Stress About Kindergarten Assessments

Bailey starts Kindergarten in just a couple of weeks and, up until a few days ago, I was seriously stressing about it.  Completely ignoring the fact that come September I'll be sending my firstborn off to school when I've never sent her anywhere away from family before and I don't know what I'm going to do with myself because I won't be spending my entire day with her I like have since the day she was born and I'm almost positive that I'm way more deeply affected and saddened by this than she will ever be, I've been stressing.  Reading our district web page and trying to absorb any and all information that they have available for parents of Kindergarteners, I came across the phrase "kindergarten assessment".  So I dug out the Getting Ready For School Handbook that they gave us when we registered her a few months ago (the handbook that I, in my infinite state of denial, have refused to read up until now) and I searched Kindergarten readiness online.  In our school district, kids entering Kindergarten are tested in August using these assessments.  Based on their scores, each child is placed into either half-day or full-day Kindergarten.  Wait.

These kids are being tested before they even start school? 

So I started doing more research on these "Readiness Assessments".  Basically, I fell down a rabbit hole and, 2 hours later, I had myself worked up into a tizzy and convinced that my kid is in no way ready for Kindergarten and will therefore struggle all of her life and that it's 100% all my fault.  I went to bed that night downright distraught and feeling guilty that we hadn't put her in a formal preschool and had instead chosen to keep her at home with me teaching her the basics of preschool.

I woke up the next morning still feeling stressed about it.  Determined to start drilling more educational info into Bailey's head in an effort to ensure she wasn't behind the other kids her age.  I busted out old textbooks and lesson plan books from when I used to teach preschool, and I was so ready to sit her down at the kitchen table and have her get to work.  And then I overheard this simple, sweet exchange between her and her brother:

Gerry: (teasing) "Bailey, I got you juice...I got you juice!"
Bailey:  "That's okay, Gerry, you can have it.  Are you thirsty, buddy?"
G:  "Yeah."
B:  "Then drink some of my juice, it's okay.  Go on.  You can have it."

She watched him drink her juice, completely oblivious to the fact that he had his very own, very full cup sitting just a few inches away at the table.  When he finished her cup and dribbled a bit of juice down his chin, she laughed.

B: "You're so silly, Gerry.  I love you."
G:  "I love you, too, Bailey."

And, just like that, I wasn't stressed about how she would do in Kindergarten anymore.  Because, with all my worrying, I had completely forgotten to take a step back and look at the big picture.  Sure, there are things she'll need to know before she goes to school.  Things like writing her name {which I'm proud to say she can do on her own}, being able to state her address and phone number {she can tell you what street we live on and in what town, but the phone number is a total mystery to her}, her full name {she used to insist that people called her by her full name, so she's got that one down}, how to spell her name {she somehow always forgets to say the E in there}, being able to dress herself without assistance {got that one down, too}, and recognizing the letters of the alphabet {she can recognize the letters in her name--that's about it}.

There's a whole checklist of things that our kids are expected to be able to do before going into Kindergarten and if you're not careful you could end up getting sucked into the whole "OMG, look at all these things my kid is supposed to do, he/she will never be ready for school and will end up on the streets..." like I did.

Don't stress.

Don't stress yourself out.  Don't stress your kid out.  There will be years and years to come where you can both {or maybe just you} stress and worry about your kids' academic life.  Don't do it now when they're still so sweet and innocent and little.  Let them be little.  Because there are so many amazing qualities in your kids that aren't going to show up on any readiness assessment.  And those are the things that you should be focusing on and fostering in your kids when they're this age.  Not the rigorous, crazy academics of whether they can write their full name in cursive and count to 100 before entering Kindergarten (yes, I'm slightly exaggerating).  Because these assessments that I got myself so worked up over won't tell me anything about who my kid is.

They don't measure how incredibly kind she can be.  I'll never forget the story my mom told me about the day she and my dad took the grandkids to Chuck E. Cheese.  At certain points throughout the day, Chuck E. comes out and leads the kids in a dance at the front of the play area and, afterward, an employee tosses a bunch of tickets out for the kids.  It's basically a free-for-all with all of the kids scrambling to grab up as many tickets as they can.  On this particular day, Bailey had grabbed a bunch of tickets for herself.  She noticed that there was a little girl who hadn't gotten any tickets and was just standing there in the crowd of kids, presumably overwhelmed.  Tickets = prizes, and any kid her age (she was 4 at the time) would have grabbed those tickets and run with them.  But Bailey saw that this little girl didn't have any and, without any prompting, she walked over and gave her tickets to that little girl.  Without a second thought and without expecting anything in return.  To her, every experience is a chance to make new friends and I often watch her walk over to another child and say, "Hi, I'm Bailey.  Want to play?"

They don't measure how much she cares about the people around her.  It doesn't always seem like it, but Bailey is pretty empathetic when it comes to others, especially if she feels like she hurt someone or made someone feel bad.  If she and Gerry are goofing around and he ends up getting hurt and crying, 9 times out of 10 she will cry, too, simply because she was playing with him when he got hurt and is afraid that she is the reason why he's hurt and crying.  She'll be in tears long after he's gotten over it and run off to get into more trouble on his own.  She asks me if something she said to someone made her "a bully" and if I tell her that what she said wasn't very nice she apologizes immediately and without prompting.  She's quick to comfort someone when they're sad, and she's affected on an emotional level that {I think} is above that of a newly-turned 5 year old.

They don't measure her sense of humor.  This girl cracks herself up regularly.  She finds the goofiest things hilarious, and she's working on perfecting the art of the knock-knock joke these days.  She's quick to smile and she loves to laugh.  She'll sings along to every song on the radio and at any given moment you can find her dancing around to some tune playing in her head.

They don't measure her ability to play.  In the grand scheme of things, "play" might be at the bottom of the list as far as academics go.  But as a mother, play is pretty much number one on my list.  Because there are so many things we can learn from our kids just by playing with them and watching them play on their own or with friends.  For instance, Bailey is pretty good at throwing and catching a (large) ball.  She's imaginative, and she creates these worlds and scenarios with her baby dolls and her Barbie dolls, and some of the things she comes up with in her play just astound me.  She's busted out the dress-up clothes and been a doctor, a baker, a dancer, a teenager, a princess.  She takes out her dolls and a pack of wipes and a diaper, and she's the most caring mother I've ever seen.  Yesterday, her Barbie and Ken dolls went swimming with their friends (in a giant bowl filled with water in our kitchen) and then all of their kids got together and had a sleep-over at Barbie's house.  Ten minutes later, the Barbies had been put away and her baby doll, whom she's named Sparkles, was heading to the doctor's office for an appointment.  While her baby got shots, Bailey held her close and softly crooned in her ear "It's okay, baby.  Mommy's here.  It will all be done in a minute."

They don't measure her level of creativity.  Coloring is one of Bailey's favorite things to do.  Give her paper and crayons, and she'll be occupied and happy for quite awhile.  Her favorite thing to draw these days is people, and she pays close attention to detail.  Mommy gets long hair.  Daddy and Gerry both get short hair.  Pop Pop gets no hair on the top of his head and just a little bit on the sides.  She's into painting and writing/drawing on our whiteboard-chalkboard, and she writes her name on each of her creations so we know who made them.  Her creativity doesn't stop there.  She's downright obsessed with nail polish and makeup, and one of her favorite things to do is to try new looks {something we'll probably need to tamp down a bit when she goes off to school}.  She's come up with some serious makeup combos and she has a blast with it.

Look at her, already perfecting the art of coloring in her brows.  ;-)

They don't measure her decisiveness.  From the day she was born, Bailey has always easily made up her mind.  She doesn't waffle, she doesn't struggle with internal debates, she doesn't make decisions based on what other people will think.  She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to go for it.  It's one of the things I admire most about her.

They don't measure her negotiation skills.  And this girl has got some serious skill in this department.  Bailey sees just about every situation as an opportunity to turn things the way she wants them to be.  Mom says I can only have 2 scoops of ice cream before bed?  I'll shoot for 5 and settle for 3.  Dad says no McDonald's for dinner?  I'll talk him into Chick-fil-A instead.  It's bedtime, but my favorite show is about to come on?  Let's start the negotiations for a later bedtime tonight!  I love that Bailey questions authority and I love that she attempts to make certain situations go her way, even if she knows that ultimately they're not going to.  I hope that's a quality that she never loses.

They don't measure her bravery.  My girl is afraid of a lot of things.  Bugs...sleeping alone...sleeping at other people's houses...swimming...certain social situations that involve her talking to groups of people.  All these fears, and yet she's so damn brave.  She's started sleeping over at my parents' house again every other Thursday night, and she has a blast when she's there.  Just this summer, she's started to venture further into the pool instead of clinging to the wall and/or stairs.  She's starting to do things that she used to be too afraid to try, and I'm so proud of her for it.  She takes a deep breath and gives herself a pep talk {which is hilarious to actually hear} "Whew, okay, Bailey.  You can do this.  It's gonna be okay.  Just calm down.  You can do it."  And then she does.

They don't measure her desire to learn.  Bailey loves learning new things.  She wants to learn new things, and she's so proud of herself when she does.  She likes to be independent and to "do it myself", and I so admire that about her.  She started drawing actual people with facial features and hair instead of just blobs all on her own more than a year ago.  She loves to play "I Spy" and "What Letter Makes the Sound __?" in the car.  She asks me to write down certain words so she can copy them.  It took her a little over a week to learn how to write her name without help, and the day she finally did was one of her proudest.  She's constantly asking questions about how things work and why certain things happen the way they do.  Her curiosity and her desire to learn new things are only going to grow bigger and brighter as she gets older.

I can't believe I let myself get so worked up over these stupid assessments.  They mean nothing.  And if Bailey does "poorly" on them {which I don't think she will at all} that doesn't mean anything to me either.  Because I know she's smart and she's good and she's kind and sweet and she cares about other people, and that's so much more important to me than her scoring well on an exam or assessment, especially one given before any learning even starts.  She's an incredible kid, my Bailey, and she's only go to keep getting more incredible.  So, bring it, Kindergarten.

 photo Aqua signature_zps6asx1zfr.png

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, Bailey!

Bailey is five years old today.

How did 5 years go by so quickly?  I say this all the time, but I can still so vividly remember the day she was born...the excitement, the anticipation, the fear.  I remember her first night home.  How exhausted we all were and how I went to sleep still in awe of the fact that, not only did I have a baby, but that by some miracle I was actually allowed to keep her.  Her whole life flashes by on a constant reel in my head.  Her first steps.  First word.  Temper tantrums.  Boo boos.  Smiles.  Breathing in her sweet little girl smell when she hugs me.  Hearing her say "I love you".  I blinked, and she grew from my teeny little baby to a beautiful, sweet big girl.  Just like that.

Bailey, a few hours old

She starts Kindergarten in 2 months.  I can't even think about that right now.  

Her favorite color is still pink.  

She's obsessed with babies and is constantly asking Scott and me when she's going to have a baby sister.

She loves to wear dresses and makeup, and her current favorite toy is anything Monster High.  

She has a wicked sweet tooth, and Sour Patch Kids are her go-to candy these days.  

She has a crush on her friend Max, and she talks about marrying him way too often.  

She hates to wear pajamas and will happily sleep in the same days' clothes over and over again if we let her. 

She's too smart for her own good.  She loves to play in the pool, but prefers to stay close to the wall/stairs in the shallow end.

Singing and dancing are two of her most favorite things.

Her cousins are her best friends.

She has an innate sweetness in her that I am so incredibly proud of.

She has a hard time falling asleep if I'm not right there next to her.

Mint chocolate chip is her favorite flavor of ice cream.

She loves just about all vegetables, and especially carrots and lima beans.

She can work a cell phone or a DVD player than most adults I know.

She's been testing her limits with attitude lately and she often forgets that she's not a teenager.  "Whatevs" is one of her new favorite phrases.  As is "holla!"

She has an incredible imagination, and she's so very accepting of people. 

She's super dramatic. 

She loves to help.  Even when her "help" makes the task take ten times longer than normal.

Her reasoning and negotiation skills rival that of any lawyer you'll meet.

She sees every day and every outing as another opportunity to make friends.

She is the best thing I've ever been a part of, and I'm proud of her every day.

She's entering her fifth year and I can't wait to see what this year has in store for her and for us.  I hope that she continues to grow into the sweet and accepting person that she's already becoming.  I hope that her days are filled with more happiness and laughter than sadness and tears.  I hope that she never stops seeing each day as a new opportunity.  I hope she still finds wonder and accomplishment in the things she does.  I hope that she never loses her empathetic nature and that she continues to build on it.  I hope she's a leader.  I hope she's confident.  I hope she's loving and loved.

I'm so in awe of my girl and of the person she's growing into, and she's brought me so much happiness these past 5 years.

Happy birthday, Bailey!

 photo Blog Signature3_zpsbhmfdpc0.png

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: Carefree VoxBox

I was lucky enough to receive another **VoxBox from Influenster {thank you, Influenster!} and I'm ready to review it!  This VoxBox was all about Carefree Panty Liners, so if you're a guy {or a girl who isn't comfortable reading about "parts"} you've been warned...

I took the #FreshIsFierce 30 day challenge and wore a liner every day for 30 days.  Normally, I'm not a liner kinda girl, but see?  I sacrifice in the name of a good and honest review.  You're welcome.  Moving on...

I actually liked these liners.  So much that I went out and bought a second pack after I'd used the 20 that came in my free VoxBox pack.  I really liked that it felt like I was wearing pretty much nothing.  Back when I had first gotten my period, I was a staunch pad-wearer, and I hated them with a fiery passion.  They were uncomfortable, they shifted, they felt like I was wearing an oversized mattress, and I just felt gross for the 5-7 days of the month that I had to wear them.  And, honestly, ladies.  Who likes feeling gross and "not fresh", especially when it's "that time of the month"?  I was expecting a similar feeling from the Carefree Liners, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't mind wearing them.

I love how small they are.   The easily fit into every bag I used and, on the few occasions when I actually went somewhere without a diaper bag or purse, the liners fit easily into my pocket.  So, for those of you who aren't 100% comfortable walking around with feminine products, these are discreet and awesome in that regard.  

Not my photo

I also liked their ease of use.  It really was as simple as opening the packet and slapping the liner muss, no fuss, no slipping and sliding.  The motto of this campaign was Fresh Is Fierce, and I have to say that these liners lived up to that.  They got the job done, they're inexpensive, and you can find them just about anywhere.  Like I said, I'm not a liner-wearer, but I'll definitely be using these in the future.  So, for those of you who like to stay fresh on any given day, head out and get yourself a pack today!

**I received these products free from Influenster for testing purposes.  This review is my own honest opinion.**

 photo Blog Signature3_zpsbhmfdpc0.png

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Tooth Fairy Visited Bailey

Poor Bailey has not won the dental genetics lottery.  She brushes her teeth without a fight every day.  She did great when we took her to the dentist and sat up in that chair like she owned the place.  But, still, she had a bunch of cavities.  So many, in fact, that we took our dentist's advice and opted to have her put under general anesthesia to have all the work done, rather than forcing her to endure several separate procedures in the dentist's office {side note: did you know they fill kids' cavities just like adults'?!  Like, with needles and everything?  Can you imagine how terrifying that must be to a little kid?}

So we set up an appointment for her at St. Christopher's Hospital to get (a ridiculous amount of) cavities filled and a few caps placed.  We had to be at the hospital at 8:30am on March 20th and of course it was snowing because why not, right?  Bailey wasn't allowed anything to eat after midnight the night before and nothing to drink after 6am, so it makes total sense that when I woke her up and hustled her out the door at 7:15 the first thing she asked was "What are we having for breakfast?"  The whole ride to the hospital, she kept telling me she was nervous and I kept trying to reassure her, "You'll do great.  Remember?  They're just going to give you some juice to help you go to sleep and when you wake up your teeth will be all fixed and beautiful!"

We made it to the Short Procedure Unit 5 minutes ahead of schedule (whaaat?  I'm never early!) so Bailey had a few minutes to play with toys while I checked her in and we waited to be called back.

She was cool until they opened the door and called her name.  Then she got all clingy and nervous again.  The nurses and staff that we met with were all wonderful, though, and put her as much at ease as possible.  We got her into hospital "jammies", took out her earrings, and they gave her a coloring book and crayons to keep her occupied while we waited for the anesthesiologist to come by with her "sleep juice".  Seeing her in those little green hospital-issued clothes did me in.  She was angry because they were green and not pink, and I was {internally} freaking out and second-guessing sending my baby to be "put under" in a hospital.

The anesthesiologist came in a few minutes later and gave her the "juice" that would help her relax and fall asleep.  She snuggled up in my lap with one of her favorite blankets from home, drank the juice, and we waited.  And waited...and waited.  It was supposed to kick in within minutes and make her super sleepy and calm.  20 minutes later, she was still wide awake and watching tv in the hospital bed.  She had sort of calmed down a bit, to the point where I could actually lay her in the bed and hold her hand rather than having her sitting in my lap, but she definitely wasn't sleepy.  The docs came back eventually, told me to give her one more kiss and say goodbye, and then they wheeled her to the OR.  She was scared.  I could tell by the look in her eyes and by how tightly she squeezed my hand before they wheeled her back, but she was so brave.  I told her I loved her and to dream about princesses and ice cream and she said, "I will.  I love you, mommy", and then she was gone.  And I had much more time to kill than I'd expected.  I hit up a coffee kiosk and the gift shop, and then waited almost 4 hours for her procedure to be over and for me to be able to see her in Recovery.  I don't know why, but I kept thinking of this as just another "no big deal" thing.  Oh, she'll go to sleep, get some cavities filled and caps placed, she'll wake up all happy, and we'll be home in time to watch her favorite afternoon tv shows.  Sooooo not the case.

I heard her name announced over the walkie talkie, and a security guard walked me back to the Recovery Room to see her.  Before the double doors had even opened, I could hear her crying.  I'd expected to go back and find her sleeping or quietly coming out of anesthesia.  Instead, she was crying and trying to climb out of the bed.  The nurse apologized and said that Bailey had started freaking out as soon as the anesthesia began to wear off and that they didn't want to risk her hurting herself by falling over the bedrail that she was so hell bent on climbing over, so they helped me untangle her IV and other wires and let me hold her in my lap while the drugs wore off.  She was a wreck.  Her face was all puffy and there was blood dripping from her nose and her mouth.  She was white as a sheet and kept coming in and out of consciousness, crying and flailing around a bit and then going limp in my arms with her head falling back.  It was scary.

A few minutes later, the dentist came out to talk about how the procedure went.  Up until that point, my sole focus had been on snuggling Bailey up and keeping her calm while the anesthesia wore off.  I rocked her and whispered in her ear the few times she "came to" and was scared.  I rubbed her arm and brushed the hair off her face, and blotted the blood that kept dribbling from her nose and the sides of her mouth.  I didn't look at her teeth then, and I'm glad.  He started off with her cavities.  All filled and looking good.  Her caps went on great and he liked the way they were looking at the moment.  He reminded me that her face and jaw might be puffy for the rest of the day and then casually (to me) mentioned that "the extraction went really well".  What?  The extraction?  What extraction?

The damage to the nerve was bad enough that they couldn't save this particular tooth, so they pulled it.  The doctor gently pulled back Bailey's upper lip and there was a lovely hole right in front where her tooth used to be.  "So, when should I make the appointment to have a replacement tooth placed?" I asked.  Turns out there's no such thing, and she'll just have a hole there until her adult tooth grows in.  The "good" news, he told me, was that her x-rays showed more movement than typical for her age, so we should expect her adult teeth to start coming in fairly quickly.

We talked for a few more minutes and I thanked him, and then looked down at Bailey, still out cold in my lap, head thrown back, mouth wide open now.  She was scary pale and there was dried blood pooled in the corner of her mouth and she was just limp and not coming to the way the other kids in the room were.  I kept picturing her sweet little smile and thinking about how this milestone in her development (her first lost tooth!) had been forced on her and how we had missed out on the excitement of the loose tooth phase, it finally falling out, and her tucking it under her pillow that night for the Tooth Fairy.  There was no build up, no time to get used to the idea of a new big girl smile.  She went to sleep with a mouth full of tiny little teeth and woke up with a big hole front and center.  I felt sad for her and guilty, and I sat there and cried right in the middle of the Recovery Room.

A few minutes later, she started waking up and they wheeled us back to a different room where we could have a little more privacy.  She was still so sleepy and out of it that they decided to keep her for a little while to make sure she wasn't going to be sick and was going to continue waking up normally.  So it was more sit and wait.  She would wake up for tiny stretches of time and cry or ask for her IV to be removed.  I got her changed out of the hospital clothes that she hated so much and put her back in the comfy pants and top that she wore in to the hospital that morning, and then we let her sleep some more.

When she woke up for good, they offered her a popsicle (which she refused), then discharged her and wheeled her out to the car.  I strapped her in and we headed back out into the snow.  We got home a little after 4pm and she was still sleepy, so we snuggled up in bed until her aunt and uncle came to visit with balloons and soft treats. She was loopy, and went to sleep pretty early that night.  She woke up the next morning feeling totally fine (SUCH a relief!) and found a note and some cash from the Tooth Fairy under her pillow.  

And she's been fine ever since.  I worried that she'd be angry (at the very least, sad and upset) that she woke up with her tooth missing, but she's proud.  She kept showing people all weekend and, two weeks later, I'm finally getting used to her new smile.  Her post-op checkup went well, and everything is looking good.  

And, I guys.  The Tooth Fairy visited her.  How many 4-year-olds can say that?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dessange VoxBox Review

I was lucky enough to receive another VoxBox from Influenster* (thank you, Influenster!) and, like my last VoxBox, I was super excited for this one, too.

The Dessange VoxBox came in the mail a few weeks ago, but I'm only just now getting around to reviewing it because, well, life happened.  So, let me start off by saying that I love this product!  My VoxBox contained the Oleo Miracle Replenishing Shampoo, Oleo Miracle Replenishing Conditioner, and Oleo Miracle Replenishing Oil.  Admittedly, I haven't used the oil yet, but that's just because I haven't had the time to do a second (or third) wash and rinse after I've used too much of the oil in my hair (yes, this will happen).  But I have used both the shampoo and conditioner, and I really like them!

As with my other boxes, Influenster seemed to know when I was running low, and sent the box just in time.
I'm going to start this review with the scent of the shampoo and conditioner.  I had read other reviews before trying the product myself, and what jumped out at me the most was the a lot of people didn't like the scent.  I did.  It wasn't too flowery or fruity, and it was strong without being overpowering.  It's definitely not a frou-frou frilly/girly scent, but I liked it.  Maybe "mature" is a good word.  In any case, I enjoyed the smell.

Now...suds-ing.  I might be in the minority here, but I want my shampoo and to suds up really well when I wash my hair.  It makes me feel like my hair is getting really clean, and I definitely don't like it when my shampoo doesn't do that.  Dessange had some awesome foaming action and I really felt like the shampoo was getting the job done.  Same with the conditioner.  It wasn't too oily or slick and, like the shampoo, I enjoyed the scent.  Everything rinsed out easily, and my hair smelled great!

One thing I didn't love about the Dessange products (and, honestly, this is such a stupid thing but it jumped out at me) was the lack of direction on the bottle.  The shampoo bottle simply said to use the product with the Dessange Conditioner and Oil for best results, and the conditioner said to use with the shampoo and oil.  When it comes to conditioners, I like a little more direction.  Do I rinse and repeat as needed?  Does it need to sit on my hair for 1-3 minutes?  I'm not vain, but when I take the time to actually blow dry and flat iron my hair, I want to make sure I'm doing it all right so that the finished product looks good.  That, however, was my only complaint.

 I started going gray at 22, and have been coloring my hair ever since.  Between color, highlights, and the ridiculous amount of blow drying, flat ironing, and styling I did in the years before I had kids and actually had 30 seconds to do more than throw my hair up in a pony tail, I've really put my hair through the ringer.  So a shampoo and conditioner that's made specifically to replenish damaged hair is definitely something I need and am willing to spend a little money on.  I wish I had thought to taken a picture after I finished using the Dessange Shampoo and Conditioner, because my hair looked good.  My hair is prone to flyaways and frizz, and I'll admit that there were a few flyaways after using Dessange, too.  But, it was all in my bangs and very well could have been because of my lack of flat ironing technique, and definitely won't stop me from using (or endorsing) this product in the future.  My hair was silky smooth, smelled great, and wasn't weighed down at all.  And, best of all, it felt clean.  All serious hair wins in my book.

Sooooo...all that being said, I highly recommend Dessange!  I'm not 100% certain of the price or where you can buy it, but I'm going to assume that Target, Walmart, and the like will carry it.  It's definitely worth giving a try, and definitely a product that I'll use in the future.

 *I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

UPDATE: I should have done this before writing this review, but...hey, at least I did it, right?  These Dessange products are available at Target (man, I love Target) and run $9.99 each for the shampoo and conditioner, and $11.99 for the oil.  In my opinion, the price per bottle is a bit high BUT I don't spend a ton of money on myself and I'd be willing to pay it for a product that works.  And Dessange does.  Still recommended!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Little Moments

Bailey and Gerry are 4 1/2 and 2 years old now, respectively, and they've become quite the affectionate kids.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't absolutely love it.  Like...LOVE IT.  In the midst of the craziness and the "pulling my hair out" moments in our day, it's these little moments that make me fall in love with my kids all over again.

Gerry is a whirling dervish of motion throughout the day.  From the minute he hits consciousness in the morning until the very last second before he falls asleep at night, the boy is just movement.  Always running somewhere, climbing on top of things and jumping off of things, opening and closing doors, inspecting all the little hiding spots he can find around the house, and playing like it's his job (because it is).  Most of the pictures I have of him in the last few months or so are just blurry because I can never get him to stay still long enough to actually get a good one.  He races his cars, builds (and subsequently destroys) elaborate and tall block towers, pushes Bailey's baby dolls in strollers, and finds different ways to get into things that never would have entered my limited adult mind.  He's motion, plain and simple.  But then, quite unexpectedly, there are these tiny little moments throughout the day.  Moments where he slows down and says, in his sweet little boy voice, "I yub you, mommy."  Moments where I can hear him searching me out from another room.  "Where mommy?  Sit with mommy," I'll hear him say and then a minute later there he is, climbing onto my lap, snuggling his tiny body up against mine and laying his head on my shoulder while he watches tv or plays on my phone.  There are moments where he leans in with his lips pursed and gives me a kiss and I swear a few wrongs in the world have been righted.

Bailey has never been an openly affectionate child.    She loves us, we know, and she always always prefers to be at home with us rather than sleeping over at a friend's house or spending the day out with someone else.  She gives hugs and kisses but, unlike Gerry, she keeps them reserved for special people and special times, preferring to show her affection in more subtle ways.  But lately even she has taken to slowing down during the day, to saying "Mommy?  I love you", to wanting to snuggle up in my lap, or wanting me to carry her somewhere.  There are times when she just seems so damn grown-up to me--when she bargains for more ice cream or tries to argue her point (any point, really...the girl's gonna make an excellent lawyer one day), or just stops and explains something about her day to us--and I feel like I'm literally watching her grow up and away from me.  But then there are those little moments where she's my baby again, when she wants to snuggle up, when she wants me to lay down with her until she falls asleep at night, where she throws her arms around my neck and refuses to let go.

And watching the two of them together?  Well, that's just magical.  Like any siblings, they've got their moments when they're at each other's throats and arguing.  But they have so many more moments where you can see how much they adore each other.  When they play together and one hands the other a toy and they say, "Oh, thank you!"  When they give each other a kiss before bed each night and say "I love you".  When they snuggle up together on the couch or in Bailey's bed and watch tv or play with my phone together.

And it's during these moments that I slow down, too.  I breathe in the scent of hers and Gerry's hair, I squeeze them tight and rain kisses down on them for as long as they'll let me.  I tell them I love them over and over again and I remind myself that this is what it's all about, that these tiny little moments in the middle of our often-times chaotic and crazy lives are all that matter.  I know that in the blink of an eye these two are going to be grown "for real" and that the affectionate displays are going to dwindle more and more as it becomes "uncool" (in their teenage minds) to show your family how much you care for them.  And I hope that they find their way back to this place as adults, and that they never stop showing how much they love us and each other.  Right now, I'm hanging on to these little moments.  And loving every single second of them.

 photo Sig_zps7rnrdoyu.png

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Boys and Boys & Girls and Girls

Yesterday, completely out of the blue, Bailey asked me "How come sometimes boys kiss boys and girls kiss girls?"

Now, in general, kissing in any way, shape, or form is completely disgusting to her.  Any time Scott and I kiss each other in front of her (even if it's just a quick peck on the lips on our way out the door) she rolls her eyes and says, "Ewww, gross!"  So when she asked me about boys kissing boys and girls kissing girls, I responded to her the same way I do when she asks why mommy and daddy kiss each other...because they love each other.

"But boys aren't supposed to kiss boys.  They're only supposed to kiss girls."

Oh, my dear girl...

My first thought when said that was I'm not ready for the toddler version of the sex talk, let alone when it comes to boys and boys or girls and girls.  But then I started to feel ashamed.  Of myself.  For categorizing kissing and sex as something that should be explained differently somehow when it comes to same-sex couples.

I know I'm waaaaay overthinking things kids are 4 and 2.  The ins and outs of sex aren't even a blip on their radar right now. And I know that Bailey's question was completely innocent.  But I also kind of wonder if maybe I haven't done a good enough job, as a parent, of showing her that boy-boy and girl-girl relationships are normal, too.  When you think about it, really, how often do young kids see those kinds of relationships portrayed in "their" types of media?  {I'm looking at you, Disney Jr. and Sprout.}  I can't think of a single kid's show that I know of that shows same sex parents or same sex couples as a normal thing.  All the movies we've seen over the years show the prince and princess getting married, or the king and queen living happily ever after.  Of course, my kid thinks that's the only "normal" kind of relationship out there. Where's the cartoon that shows Johnny's two mommies?  Or Suzy's two dads?  How come when we watch The Finger Family videos on youtube every single finger family consists of a mommy, a daddy, a brother, a sister, and a baby finger?  More importantly, why the hell am I watching those stupid videos?  I hate the Finger Family song.

To clarify, I am not gay.  I am Catholic.  I absolutely do not believe that homosexuals are destined to end up in hell or that anything they do is in any way, shape, or form wrong.  I just don't believe it.  I support gay rights and same sex marriage the same way that I support marriage between a man and a woman.  My brother-in-law is gay and, while we don't see them very often, I think his boyfriend is very nice and it makes me happy that they're happy.  I've had gay co-workers and friends over the years.  I don't think they're "gross" or in any way "less" than any other person, and I don't want my kids to think that way, either.  I'm all for normalizing these types of relationships and if, down the road, one or both of my kids comes to me and tells me that they're gay, then my hope for them will be the same as it is right now -- that they find someone who they love and who loves them, and that  they find happiness in life.  That's it.  I won't be sad for them, I won't be embarrassed by them, I won't look at them any differently.  I won't cringe or look away if they choose to (tastefully) show their affection in public.  And I'll support the hell out of them, always and no matter what.

So, I tried to explain to Bailey that it's perfectly normal for a boy to kiss a boy or for a girl to kiss a girl, and that it means that they love each other.  That girls can love girls and boys can love boys, and that sometimes they show their love with a kiss.  Thankfully for me, this answer seemed to satisfy her, and she tossed out this gem:

"Well, I'm not gonna kiss anybody til I'm married."

That's my girl.

 photo Sig_zps7rnrdoyu.png

Friday, February 6, 2015

It's Been Awhile

I've been downright lazy about blogging the last few months.  Work has kept me busy, Scott's been working A LOT of overtime, and the kids are downright exhausting most days.  By the time I have a few minutes of peace to sit down and write, I'm just too tired to want to do it.'s a recap of what we've been up to the last few months.

We have an appointment next month to register Bailey for Kindergarten.  Whhaaaat?  How is my baby going off to Kindergarten already?  And more importantly, how am I old enough to have a school-aged child?  We've got all these forms to fill out, and she needs to see her pediatrician and her dentist before she can start (luckily, we've got appointments scheduled with both in the next few weeks, anyway), and there's a readiness exam she has to take and orientation in August.  My mind is in a constant tailspin of worry already, and she doesn't even start for 6 more months.  I keep pushing it to the back of my mind, but it keeps annoyingly nudging itself forward.  God, I hope I'm not that mom who cries on the first day of school.  {Spoiler alert-- I already know I'm going to be}.

Bailey has taken her fashionista cred to new and insane levels.  She wore a bathing suit yesterday.  A bathing suit.  It's February, and the high was 23 degrees.  I couldn't convince her to wear anything else and we spent the day at home, so far be it from me to strike down her little diva spirit.  She's still obsessed with dresses and picking out her own outfits, and a "normal" day is one where she's changed her clothes at least twice.  She got this book for Christmas that shows her me how to do different hairstyles based on characters from Frozen.  I suck at just about all of the styles, but she still keeps asking me to do them.  I'm the little engine that could, except that I can't.  

Second outfit of the morning...

She put together this ensemble completely on her own

The only hair style in the 89 page book that I can do with any sort of ease

She still loves to sing and wear makeup, and she's obsessed with babies.  She makes up these crazy little stories and acts them out with her Barbie dolls, and she's got a self-proclaimed crush on not one but two boys right now.  God help us all when she's a teenager.  She's so freakin' amazing, though.  

We moved Gerry to a toddler bed after he climbed out of his crib for the third time.  Three sleepless nights later, we switched him back to his crib.  It was the longest and most nightmarish three nights of my life.   G has always been our great sleeper.  Aside from the times he's been sick, he's never gone to bed with any difficulty, and I've LOVED it.  Once he realized that he could just climb out of the toddler bed, though, it was all he did.   I'd put him down for a nap or to bed for the night and then have to wait outside his bedroom door because it was inevitable that he'd climb right out of bed and come running out into the hallway.  He woke us up anywhere between 2 and 5am for three nights in a row.  He'd come running into our bedroom, all smiles, yelling "Hi, mommy!  I awake!"  And then he'd climb up into our bed and want to hang out for the rest of the night.  And, just like that, our wonderful sleeper was no more.  It was the longest few nights of my life.  My breaking point was night three, when I found him in Bailey's room at 3:15am, jumping on her bed and playing with her Barbie dolls.  I ran to Facebook to see if any of my mom friends could commiserate and, lo and behold, a friend of mine had a simple thought that had never even entered my mind.  Have you turned his crib around so that the shorter rail is against the wall?  I read that and it was like a thousand light bulbs went flashing over my had that never occurred to me?  So there we were, at 3:30 in the morning, turning his crib back around so that the higher rail (the one he can't climb over) was facing out.  When we put him back to bed that night/morning, it was like all the stress of the last few nights {stress that I hadn't even realized I was feeling} just melted away.  And I had my great sleeper back.  I'm thinking of keeping in a crib until he goes off to high school...

Gerry is a giant ball of non-stop motion and energy.  Not that this is any different from the past two years, but it somehow seems like he's amped it up the last few months.  I never know what I'm going to find when I walk into a room at any given time.  He goes from climbing on chairs to get to my coffee and stack my k-cups, to pulling all the cushions off the couch and jumping all over them, to chasing the dog around the house, to pouring water from the bathroom sink to the bathroom floor to the carpeted hallway to tearing up the roll of toilet paper and leaving trails of it all over the bathroom--all in the span of a few minutes.  It's exhausting!  
A wallet, Cheetos, and a sippy cup tossed into the bathtub

But then there are these little moments of incredible sweetness when he stops what he's doing, seeks me out, and runs into my lap yelling, "I love you, mommy!"  He follows it up with a hug and kiss, and then he's off to destroy some other part of the house.  

Scott's sports season is finally winding down.  And not a moment too soon.  It'll be nice to have him home more often, and I know he'll be glad to be home and not clocking a game.  We miss him.  

So that's that.  Not a whole lot has been going on, but I'm sure things will pick up in the next few months as tee ball season starts and school gets closer.  Until then, I'm enjoying the relative peace around here...and I use that term very, very lightly.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Frosty VoxBox Review

Thanks to Influenster, I received another VoxBox* in the mail...more than a month ago.  Life has been SO BUSY lately, and I just haven't had much time to come here and update things, but I want to share and review the awesomeness of this VoxBox with all of you.  Because it really was an awesome box, and just about all of the products that came in here were full-sized!

Here's what came in the Frosty VoxBox:

  • Fruit Vines Bites Strawberry
  • Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
  • Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner
  • Eco Tools Hairbrush
  • Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea
  • McCormick Gourmet All Natural Thyme
  • Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Advanced
  • NYC New York Color Expert Last Lip Color

First up for review:  Fruit Vines!  My VoxBox came with the strawberry flavored bites and they were delicious.  I'm a big fan of Red Vines, so I was excited to see these in my box!  The bites are soft and chewy, and they come in two flavors--strawberry and cherry.  These are low-fat and made with no preservatives and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed them.  So much that I went out later on and bought a few more packs from Target.  These are definitely a chewy snack that doesn't disappoint, and I highly recommend them!

Rimmel is a brand that I've never tried before.  Not because I have something against the company, but simply because when it comes to makeup I've got my tried and true favorites and generally don't deviate from those.  This VoxBox came at just the right time because my "regular" eyeliner was ridiculously low and I'd been using a tiny little nub of a liner for quite awhile.  So, of course, the first thing I tried from this box (besides the obviously already ripped open bag of Fruit Vines Bites pictured above) was the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Eyeliner.  I have blue eyes and usually wear a dark brown eyeliner...the Scandaleyes eyeliner I got was black.  I LOVED how smoothly the liner went on.  The color was much darker than what I'm used to, so I probably won't wear it very often, but I WILL go out and buy Rimmel Scandaleyes in dark brown, a color that I feel comfortable wearing often.  This particular liner went on so smoothly that there was very little effort on my part, and I love that.  Normally, I'm dragging my eyelid to the side with one hand and trying to {not-so} effortlessly apply the liner with my other, which always drags somewhat painfully on my lid.  It's a process, people.  But Rimmel Scandaleyes made the process a whole lot easier, and I definitely recommend it.

Just ignore the fact that I badly needed my eyebrows done when I took this picture

I also got this Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover.  As far as makeup removers go, this one was adequate but not great.  It wasn't oily and I liked that the bottle had a squeeze-top as opposed to just the large opening (less mess for me), but it didn't actually remove my eye makeup as well as I'd expected.  My drug store brand makeup remover took it all off more easily and cost a little less than the name brand Rimmel remover.  If you've got a few extra bucks, I'd stick with the eye makeup remover you love and spend the extra cash on the Scandaleyes Eyeliner instead.

On to lips!  Bailey (my 4 year old daughter) is constantly--constantly-- taking my lip gloss and lipstick.  I don't wear it as often as I like, but I'm always on the lookout for more options and colors to fit my fair skin so I was pretty pumped to see this NYC Expert Last Lip Color in my Frosty VoxBox.  I'll be perfectly honest here--when I first saw the color, Sugar Plum, I thought for sure that it was going to be too dark and weird looking for my pale skin.  I tend to stick to pale pinks and clear glosses and this color looked waaaaay darker than I'm used to.  But I gave it a shot on date night with my husband and I actually liked it a lot!  It didn't go on nearly as darkly as I thought it would, and it looked quite nice after a quick blot .  In fact, the shine was so nice that I didn't even need to add clear gloss, and it lasted awhile.  Plus, it went on smoothly.  And the best part is that NYC brand is MUCH cheaper than a lot of the other makeup brands.  I highly recommend the brand AND the color, and I'll be trying out different colors from the NYC line, too!

And because I'm not one to pass up the opportunity for a selfie when I've actually put on makeup and left my hair down, here's one with the Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliner and NYC Lip Color that came in my VoxBox.

Moving my Eco Tools Hairbrush.  The bristles of this brush are synthetic boar's hair-like and the concept behind the unique bristle pattern is to distribute your hair's natural moisturizers and leave it with a sleek, lustrous shine.  I'm going to be honest, and I hate to say this, but I didn't love this product.  Quite possibly, this is completely due to user error on my part, but I found the brush to be more difficult than anything and I gave up and switched back to my Conair before I'd even finished.  I first used the Eco Tools Hairbrush after showering when my hair was completely wet.  I towel-dried it a bit but found that the brush didn't move as deeply through my wet hair as a normal bristled brush does.  The top layer of my hair was brushed smoothly, but underneath was still somewhat of a tangled mess after the shower.  I tried to comb my hair again after I'd dried it, but came away with the same feeling of not being able to brush clear to the scalp and also with staticky hair.  Again, this could be an error on my part and, for $10.99 I think it's worth giving the brush a try.  I have thick, fairly dry hair and this could be part of the reason why I felt like it didn't really work for me.  I'd definitely like to try the styling brush in the Eco Tools line, though.

The next product I received in my VoxBox was this Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Serum.  This particular skin care product got great reviews online.  The serum is supposed to help protect skin from future signs of aging and keep it looking younger longer.  Admittedly, I'm not great with my skin care routine.  I don't use any "magic" creams, but I do wash my face with cleanser and use lotion regularly.  I always wear sunscreen, and have only worn makeup rarely in the last 4 years or so.  I turned 30 over the summer, and don't think my skin is showing many signs of aging (and, guys, for real--if I'm looking old, LET ME KNOW!), so I didn't really see much of a difference in my skin when using this product.  BUT, I also don't think it hurts to use it and I like the thought of it helping to prevent future signs of aging.  Overall, I recommend this one.

Moving on from face and hair to the kitchen...dun dun dun!  Those of you who know me know that I am not so great in the kitchen.  If it weren't for Scott, the kids and I would live on sandwiches and microwaved dinners, so I didn't have high hopes for the McCormick Gourmet Thyme that came in the VoxBox.  I don't cook often and when I do I'm not very creative.  But I sprinkled some of this on a chicken breast for lunch one day...and it was delicious!  I'm not a fan of plain chicken breast but we're trying to eat healthier over here.  A tiny sprinkle of the thyme gave my plain chicken breast a hint of flavor without being overpowering , and I really enjoyed it.  Luckily for all of us, Scott is much more creative in the kitchen than I am, so I'm sure he'll come up with a million and one recipes to try the McCormick Thyme in...and I'm looking forward to those!  Overall, I recommend this product!

And last (but certainly not least), Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea.  As luck would have it, I had a miserable cold the day this VoxBox arrived.  I'm a coffee junkie but when I'm feeling under the weather I prefer tea at night.  So, of course, it would make sense that the one time I wanted tea I didn't have any in the house.  Until my VoxBox arrived.  I'm not a fan of green tea.  Like, at all.  And, truthfully, I didn't think I'd be a fan of the Celestial Seasonings Green Tea either.  But desperate {sick} times call for desperate measures, so I ripped open the packet and steeped that green tea like it was my job.  And it wasn't half bad.  I added a little bit of sweet and low and sipped it, and it was pretty good.  If I'd had regular tea in the house there's a 99% chance that I never would have opened the Celestial Seasonings, but I'm glad that I did.  I wouldn't drink this all the time, and I still prefer my plain Lipton when I'm sick, but this particular tea was good in its own way, and I liked the hint of mint it had...definitely nice for winter and a change of pace from all the hot chocolate and peppermint mochas I normally consume during that time.  Overall, I recommend this product.  I wouldn't buy it in bulk but it's nice to have just in case.  And if you're a tea drinker and you like green tea, then go for it!

So, there's my Frosty VoxBox review.  I really liked this one and will definitely be purchasing more of some of the products I received.  If you'd like to become an Influenster and receive your own VoxBox for free, comment with your email address and I'll send you an invite.  You won't be disappointed!

* I received all of these products for free from Influenster for testing purposes.*


Like this post? You might also like-