Keep Your Baby Moving with Wellements Baby Move

Rice cereal. Pears. Bananas. Apples. Sweet Potatoes. Avocado. Oats. Peas. These are all of the delicious first foods that my daughter has tried; most, resulting in a very messy face and sticky fingers, and sometimes, screams of anger when the food is all gone. (Ah, like mother, like daughter.) While it’s been so fun seeing my baby discover the joy of taste buds, it’s caused one problem: constipation.

When you’re a new parent, you’re suddenly all about poop. Poop becomes this news-worthy event, because your pediatrician emphasizes at their many appointments to track the frequency, the color, the consistency. Yes, I know it’s gross and possibly TMI. However, as my mom used to say, even the Queen of England poops, and I also know that bowel movements point out the health and status of bodily functions in all of us – from newborn to geriatric. When my little lady started solids, her frequency slowed down and she started to strain, looking very uncomfortable as the days went on. My lovable angelic daughter turned into a certified crankmonster, and the timing of this event just happened to line up with her first flight, a very short (and I’m very sarcastic) four hour flight to Chicago.  We tried prune baby food with no luck. We tried diluted apple juice with no luck. We had some success with pureed peaches, but it didn’t do the trick. Enter Baby Move by Wellements.

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I discovered Baby Move at ExpoWest in March – a giant natural foods and products expo. I had been familiar with Wellements Gripe Water before; Gripe water saved our hides when Holly was a gassy newborn. They gave me a sample of Baby Move to try, and the timing was perfect. It’s made up of prebiotics and an organic prune juice, and can be mixed with breast milk, formula, juice, or water. It’s free of gluten, soy, added sugars, and artificial flavors and colors. Because I’ve tasted everything Holly eats (except breast milk or formula. No thanks!), I tried Baby Move. It’s just a slightly sweet prune juice taste – yummy and baby friendly.

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We used it two times in a two day period, mixed with Holly’s formula, and by the second day, the problem was solved.  My cranky, gassy baby was back to her sweet smiling self, thanks to no longer having a tummy ache.

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You store the Baby Move in the fridge up to four weeks after you open it, and it’s in a sturdy glass bottle so there’s no confusing it with your soy sauce or anything like that. You should also look into the Wellements Organic Gripe Water and Teeth Relief. We just tried the teeth relief, and it’s basically clove essential oil; perfect for soothing irritated little gums.

Because it’s no fun to rave about a product and then leave you hangin’, Wellements has joined with Lalalyssa to give away one new parent starter kit. This kit includes a full-sized Baby Move, a full-sized Teeth Relief, a full-sized Organic Gripe Water, and an adorable “Birth: Nailed It!” onesie. Simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below, and I’ll pick a winner in two weeks. 18+ and sorry, no Hawaii or Alaska entrants. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This product was provided to me free of charge for a detailed write-up on my blog in exchange for compensation. Compensation for review posts helps keep LaLaLyssa.com up and running by covering maintenance fees and expenditures. All opinions are my own.

Five Essential Tips for Baby’s First Flight

It’s happened. You need to go somewhere, somewhere you can’t get to by car, and you have a BABY. *Imagine horror music playing* Well; here’s the good news — it’s a little bit nervewracking, but with a few tricks, you’ll have a smooth little flyer, and can sit back in your tiny seat and relax, knowing that you’ve got the infant on an airplane skill on lock.

Most of your success on the flight will be your attitude. Accept right now that you will be nervous and stressed. It’s hard for fully-grown adults to travel on a plane, so when you add a tiny human who requires tons of supplies for simple maintenance? Mega stress. Add to that a set of fully-formed pipes, ready to spout off at any minute or the slightest change in cabin pressure, and yep, you can see why it feels like you’re walking from the gate onto a personal flying tin can of Hell. But, in my experience, even though my five month old daughter made her fair share of noise, it wasn’t THAT bad, and I credited it with a few of these tips I pulled together from various sources.

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  1. 1. Pack your normal diaper bag supplies, and then multiply that times two. Do you normally bring two bottles of ready made formula? Bring four. Normally bring four diapers? Bring eight. You don’t want to be caught red-handed in the middle of the sky without enough food for your wailing baby, or worse, in the midst of a blowout. Be like the girlscouts, and prepare. Also, make sure you love your diaper bag. Nothing sucks more than having to rely on a bag you don’t love. (I’m rocking the Haruhonpo Big Top Zipper Backpack in Watercolor Flower) (Bonus tip: I was gifted these Bumkins clear travel pouches at an event and immediately went out and bought another set. It made digging through the diaper bag sooo much easier when I could just see what I needed. I used one pouch for diaper supplies, one for pacifiers and teethers, and one for food items like formula/crackers/bottles.)
  2. Plan to nurse or feed at take off. Little ears are very sensitive to the fluctuating pressure, and swallowing or sucking helps babies neutralize that pressure. If your kiddo uses pacifiers, bring like five. I’m not kidding. My baby loves pacis, and more than once, they fell on to the plane floor and I was so glad I had a back up. (The second flight home, I had gotten smart and bought one of these bad boys, a pacifier clip) If shit really hits the fan and you suspect ears are the problem, bring Baby Tylenol or Gripe Water.
  3. Buy an inexpensive new toy…and save it for the minute that the fussmonster emerges. Holly is really into crinkly things, and I found this cute little caterpillar at TJ Maxx for $4.99. It was worth every penny when the shrieking began and I was able to crinkle this little bundle of fabric into her face and elicit instant grabby coos. I’m also a big fan of the O ball, which is inexpensive and easy for kiddos to grab.
  4. If your kiddo is eating solids, bring something relatively new on the plane to feed them. Of course, you want to choose something the kid has already eaten because god forbid you experience an allergy up in the air, but, in our case, Holly had been eating rice cereal, so we tried dissolvable teething biscuits. She loooooved them, and though it was messy, it was worth the distraction to have her happily munching on her biscuits. I don’t think I’d do a jar of food because then would be an insane mess in such a tiny space, but maybe if your kid uses the squeezy pouches or a fresh food feeder, it’d be worth it.
  5. Have a sense of humor. Look, stuff is going to happen. Your baby might scream the whole duration of the four hour flight. He or she might accidentally pull the toupee off the kind gentlemen sitting next to you. He might scream and kick the person in front of you’s seat for the whole flight. But you know what? You’ll get through it. Have a sense of humor. When Holly shrieked, my mom and I were nervously hysterical, glancing surreptitious side eyes around our neighbors and feeling bad. But did we survive? Yes. Did anyone say anything? No. Babies cry. It’s a fact of life. In fact, on both of our flights, we were delighted how generally pleasant everyone was around us, interesting in talking to Holly or asking about her age. Everyone has been a baby at some point, so it is what it is. If you’re really nervous, make your sense of humor apparent. Dress your baby in a shirt that says “Congratulations! You have the honor of sitting by me!”, or pass out little packets of inexpensive ear plugs to the people around you.

Above all, have fun. Remember that your baby is experiencing the wonder of air travel for the first time. While the stale smells, cramped spaces, rumbling engine, and ear popping are all old hat for you, they’re new and exciting for your little bright eyes. Some airlines will even give your child a 1st Flight Certificate (Southwest) and wings. Now that’s cool!

Parents, do you have any tips that has helped you with kids on flights? Share in the comments, and BON VOYAGE!

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Baby Flat Head: Holly’s New Plagiocephaly Helmet

Holly has been a fantastic sleeper since about 11 weeks old. The first time she slept through the night, my husband and I woke up with that cautious hesitance like, “She’s still alive, right?” She now regularly sleeps 7 p.m. through 7 a.m., with the occasional shriek or whining for her pacifier. To say we’re lucky is an understatement; we’ve become parents with lots more rest than most.

The only downside to having a fantastic sleeper is that our little dreamer has developed a flat head. Our pediatrician noticed it at two months, and recommended we do more tummy time. Holly was a tummy time champ, but that didn’t help. Even with lots of tummy time, she slept like a starfish, on her back, arms and legs splayed out, for twelve rockin’ hours at a time. At her four month appointment, the pediatrician gave us a referral to a prosthetic clinic to have her evaluated for a helmet. I felt defensive and unsure at first. I felt like the insinuation was that we did something wrong, that we didn’t do enough of something (tummy time) and that it was our rickety first time parenting skills to blame for her flat little head. We went to the consultation, and sure enough, Holly’s head flatness was ranked as severe. We are lucky that she has no facial asymmetry or ear imbalance, as some kiddos with flat spots or heads can have uneven facial features or ears. While there’s very little medical risk of not fixing a flat head, there are a few complications that can arise: self-consciousness, or in more extreme cases, a risk of sunglasses, bike helmets, and hats not fitting properly. We were given all of the facts and the price, and left feeling confused.

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On one hand, it’s a cosmetic problem. There was a small chance it could even itself out. However, if it didn’t even out and Holly became a self-conscious teenager, would we regret forever that we didn’t handle it? Then there was the time commitment. The helmet must be worn constantly — 23 hours a day, with just one hour off for bathing. Holly’s severity will likely take about four months to correct itself, hopefully sooner. Did I really want my girl to have people staring at her in public? What about when people say something? How could I manage without kissing that fuzzy little head? Matt and I were both torn, but eventually, polled family and friends close to us. I was lucky enough to have a coworker and friend who had experienced the same situation with her daughter. She gave me all the facts and basically she doesn’t regret for a second that they fixed their daughter’s head. We continued asking family and friends, and their opinions were unanimously to move forward. So, we did — and were very glad that insurance covered all but $800 of the $4,000 bill.

We had a few appointments to take head measurements, and at the final measuring appointment, Holly had to wear a sock like thing on her head for a few minutes. A scan gun took the dimensions of her head, and that was it. It was painless, quick, and easy. We chose the color (a very girly heart pattern), and came back a week later for the final fitting and adjustments. Our tech marked where her ears, forehead and skull lined up, and contoured the edges of the helmet for comfort and to frame her face.

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When it came time to put the helmet on, Holly didn’t even flinch. She’s been wearing it like a pro for two days now — even when she sleeps. She doesn’t even seem to notice it’s there. So far, it’s exactly like my fellow helmet-head parent told me: it’s worse on the parents than it is on the kids. One of my concerns was what people would say about her helmet — if they’d make fun of her, or make ignorant comments. I know it’s going to happen, and it makes me feel deeply for the parents of children who have unique needs. I was initially sad when making the decision to get the helmet, but once we decided to do it, I’ve “put on my big girl panties” and decided it is what it is, it’s not a big deal, and it’s time to move on with life. I hope to help educate people about why helmets are necessary, and it doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with my daughter, just that her head is a little more flat than it should be.

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I’ll update you all with the progress when Holly’s helmeting is complete, but in the meantime, if you see a kiddo wearing a helmet, this is why. As usual, I think it’s important to share stories of personal experiences, because at some point, somebody you know will have a similar problem (and I have a friend on Facebook who’s contemplating a helmet as I type this). For now, Holly will continue to sleep her glorious twelve hours, little hands and legs stretched out like a starfish, dreaming of rounder times ahead. 🙂

Five Friday Faves

Happy Friday!

It’s been a busy past few weeks here in LaLaLand. My mom and I flew to Chicago to surprise one of my cousins for her bridal shower, after she flew to California last year to surprise me for my baby shower. It was awesome getting to take Holly to my “maiden land” and introduce her to some of the Chicago family. Anyways, here are a few things that have been rocking my socks lately!

  1. THIS gif, shared on the Power of Positivity Facebook page.

2) THIS SnapChat Filter, which bedazzles me into a rhinestone speckled showgirl, the perfect look for working from home.

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3) THIS huge pile of avocados which arrived courtesy of my friends at California Avocados, which will soon be turned into a smorgasbord of amazing things.

Can’t wait to break into these beauties. Thanks @ca_avocados!

A photo posted by Alyssa Curran (@lyssacurran) on

4) This picture from Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on the day of the New York Primary (History lesson: American women have only been allowed to vote since 1920!)

Photo Credit: Greta Page-Mann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) The finale from Better Call Saul. Hot damn, that show is good. I was a huge Breaking Bad fan, and I’m happy that Better Call Saul is carrying on the epicness of BB. Monday night’s finale was enticing, dramatic, suspenseful, and filled with just the right amount of “Wtf?!”.

Some thoughts on motherhood.

12291840_1040558042673995_5846392439479838624_o“How much has your life changed?” is a question I’ve heard many times in the past five months. My husband and I were the first in our circle of friends to become parents. Most of our friends had the common exclamation of “Finally!” though a few had a sheer look of terror thinly masked by congratulations.

How much has my life changed? It has changed tremendously in some ways, but in many ways, not at all. I still spend too much money on Groupon. I still love eating popcorn and drinking sweet wine. I still procrastinate on laundry, paint my nails, buy flowers for my garden, see my friends, and cook dinner. I still blog (er, sometimes). I still go to conferences and have lunch and work my job. I still feel like for the most part that I’m very much Alyssa, the same old Alyssa I was 13 months ago before I made a human.

What has changed? My body. I creak, I jiggle, I sag, I ache. But even the changes in my physical self are minute, tiny and small compared to the most massive change of all, in my heart. I don’t mean there are changes to the vascular system of my body, but I mean symbolically, my heart will never be the same. My heart, my whole heart has changed, because now it is forever living outside of my body, shared with a delightful little girl whose smile is like glitter falling from the sky.

IMG_0844Having a baby is a lot like falling in love. The giddiness, the overwhelming desire to be with that person, to see them first thing in the morning and to miss them when they’re asleep, even if they’re right next to you, their tiny hand curled around yours, the sweetness of their breath gently kissing the same air you breathe. The way their lower lip trembles ever so slightly and then, a heart-bursting coo; the satisfied sigh of sleeping babies everywhere. It’s feeling love even when they’re screaming in fits, loud and abrasive, right in your ear, because who knows why; but you scurry around trying to fix it, to make everything right, because that’s just what you do.

I had a lot of anxiety about becoming a mom, as I think most new parents do. Will you be good enough for this tiny person, enough to make them happy and healthy, to thrive? Will you be mindful enough to accept that sometimes no matter what you do, how much of the world you give them, you can’t guarantee that they’ll be happy or healthy or thriving? But right as she was born and I exclaimed that she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, I knew that the best thing I could do for her was to just be there and be present. To be with them, to soothe their cries, to snuggle just a little bit longer even though you haven’t done laundry in three weeks and your hair is oily and there’s a stack of unpaid bills towering on your desk. Babies don’t last forever, but oh boy, chores sure do.

Beyond the fact that babies are adorable, I think what’s so magical about becoming a parent, whether it’s by biological birth or adoption or what, is that you get to see the world through brand new eyes. We forget a lot of the wonder of life, and really, every day is a miracle. The fact that we come out naked and helpless, unable to stand on two legs, is miraculous considering each and every day, new skills are growing. Every day Holly does something new, and that joy and intrigue behind the very simplest of things, like finding her feet, is too innocent not to adore. How special it is to shake off the dust of adulthood and remember that life is truly an adventure. Special moments are often hiding in the ordinary.

So what is hard about being a mother? Nothing is perfect, after all. There’s no break. Even if you manage to sneak away for a beautiful morning at a ritzy spa, free from iPhones or babies, you’re still a mom. You’re never not a mom, ever again, even if the unthinkable happens and you lose your child. You are a mom and will always be. You will never ever stop worrying or loving or wishing the world and the stars and every single planet for the child that has your heart. You will be tired. You will feel pulled in too many directions, like Gumby with more brittle limbs and a spongy tummy with overgrown roots. However, you’re not just a mom. You’re still you, complex like the solar system, individual and varied, rich in interests and hobbies. However, you need to work to remember that you’re still you and not just a mom. You’re a mom, and you’re your own person, you see?

How has my life changed by being a mom? My life has changed a lot. But it also hasn’t. I’m the same old Alyssa, just better. Happier, richer, renewed, more tired, content, achier, Alyssa.

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You’re Invited to a Cloe and Isabel Party

_Customer_Appreciation_Month_Consumer-1This year, I decided that I wasn’t going to make my usual trite new year’s resolution to lose weight. I had two “resolutions”, and I wanted them to reflect my goal of being easier on myself in my first year of motherhood. So what were they? They were to drink more water, and to wear more jewelry. Water is kind of self explanatory. I mean, duh, we all need to be drinking more water. But wear more jewelry is a bit more abstract, right?

I’ve always appreciated jewelry with fine gemstones and sterling silver, but I always wanted to be one of “those girls” who could accessorize with jewelry and rock a different look with her baubles each day of the week. In college, I started buying cheaper costume jewelry from the Lauren Conrad line at Kohl’s, and some real cheapies from Forever 21. I loved choosing odd and whimsical designs, like the real butterfly wing encased in glass that my husband got me, or the miniature working harmonica pendant. For my first fulltime job, I loved buying nicer pieces from the fine jewelry counter at TJ Maxx, playing with sterling silvers, druzies, and fun antiquey pieces. Jewelry has a real ability to jazz up your outfit and your face, and give you a little pep for your day.

Spring16_Whyc_iSo why make a resolution about it? Well, this busy mama works from home, and one of the luxuries of working from home is you don’t need to dress to impress. More often than not I’m in my comfy leggings and hoodie, or if I’m really frumpin’ it up, in my fuzzy gray robe covered with stars. However, I’ve learned that on the days I take the time to get showered, put on a little makeup, and some jewelry, I feel more like *me*, and feeling more like me means I’m generally more productive overall. That, and it’s not embarrassing to open the door to the FedEx man if I don’t look a hot mess.

My friend Monique sells Cloe and Isabel jewelry, and I’ll be totally honest that initially I dismissed the brand alltogether (sorry Mo!), thinking that the pieces were too big for my taste. I tend to like more delicate items or singular pendants, and CandI rocks the big, bold baubles, statement necklaces, and collars. However, when she posted about a semi annual sale, it sparked my interest and I made the plunge, with two pairs of stud earrings. They come packaged in an adorable pouch with a little paper bird, and I’ve been blown by the quality. The earring backs are super sturdy and made of metal and every piece of jewelry has a lifetime guarantee. Color me impressed. Now: nope, these pieces are not cheap. But, like makeup, wine, and chocolate, you get what you pay for (yeah, yeah, I know we all love a cheap two buck chuck, ELF, and Russel Stover now and then. But let’s be honest… you know all those things are worth the splurge). It’s the same with this jewelry. It’s quality.

I wanted to invite you to my virtual CandI party on Facebook. There’s no pressure to buy, but give the catalog a look, and see if you find something you like. You can also enter to win some free jewelry pieces by participating in our games. I hope you’ll give it a shot! The online party will end March 15. You’ll score free shipping on orders $100 and up, and if you splurge and spend $200, you’ll get $50 back (credit expires April 30). Happy shopping, and keep reading if you want to see my CandI Wish List.

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GeoVista Stud Earrings, $28

Medina Earrings, $26

Mo’orea Convertible Necklace (Wear all 3 or just one!)

Alpenglow Long Necklace, $68 (My girl AJ at ConfessionsOfAFatGirl.net needs this because she rocks a long necklace, and the colors are like our favorite animated movie… Frozen.)

NeoTop Formula Dispenser Review & Giveaway

Happy Monday, everyone!

My adventure with breastfeeding has been disappointing; despite numerous attempts at making more milk, this ol’ bess only makes up to five ounces per day (most women make around 30 ounces plus). This means, without the invention of formula, my cute little kidlet would be starving! (And a friendly PSA while we’re at it: I feel bad enough that I can’t fully breastfeed my child. Please don’t suggest tea, cookies, supplements, etc — I worked very closely with a lactation consultant and doctor, and even tried a prescription, but still wasn’t able to make more milk. I tried literally everything I could, but due to my PCOS, it’s just not in the cards for me.)

Holly uses Gerber Good Start, which has “comfort proteins”, some nice marketing jargon for smaller milk proteins and probiotics that make her less gassy. We tried several different formulas and ultimately ended up on Gerber, as research shows it helps decrease the chances of environmental allergies in babies who are predisposed thanks to an itchy mom or dad (sorry Holly, you got that one from me.) Other than my own guilt about not breastfeeding (which is fading because life goes on), I have no problem using formula. I think it’s a shame in general that so many moms are guilted about their choice in how to feed their babies. While breast is best, sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you have planned, and in that case, you do what you can when you can.

Formula is pretty simple now a days, you can buy the powdered kind, or even ready made liquid formula. We stick to powder here to control our serving sizes and temperature we make it at and all that. Most cans of formula come with a little scoop, and while it’s simple enough to measure out, it gets messy. Even worse, if your hand is a little bit wet and you make a bottle, the formula gets all over your hand and makes this weird clumpy film of milk powder, and it’s gross. Kind of like cheeto powder but with stinky milk instead. The kind people at NeoTop reached out to me and offered me a complementary Formula Dispenser in exchange for my review, and the best part is, one of you will get to try it, too!

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The NeoTop was developed by a neonatologist, and is designed to help prevent any germs or bacteria from entering your children’s formula. If you think about it, when you use the formula scoop, if you haven’t washed your hands, you basically are transferring a bunch of stuff into the container of your kid’s food. I’m all about having enough good bacteria and germs, but it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra safeguard, and that’s where the NeoTop comes in. This thing holds up to a whole canister of food, and basically, you tilt it upside down, twist the top, and voila, a perfectly portioned 2 ounce serving is in the top. Just open the lid and dump it in the bottle, and you’re in business.

I used this on the counter top over the weekend, but where I really liked it was when I threw it in my diaper bag and used it out in public. It was much easier than fussing with the other formula dispenser I have that I have to carefully try and funnel into the bottle top. Even moms who just supplement with formula should try one of these, as it’d be a great way to store formula long term for no risk of germs.

NeoTop can brag about these awesome features…

  • Dishwasher safe and BPA Free
  • 80% more effective at preventing germs than other formula storage dispensers
  • Designed and manufactured in the USA
  • Easy to use
  • $24.95 at NeoTop.com, with 10% off and free shipping with code 10OFF
  • $19.95 with free shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member

So what do you think? Let’s give you a chance to try it out now! Please leave a comment for EACH action you take as each comment will count as one entry. You must at least do #1 to be entered in this giveaway, but if you did all 5, you’d have 5 chances to win! I will check that you did the action if you’re a winner, so no cheating, please! I’ll draw a winner on Monday, March 14. US only, 18+. Good luck!

  1. Leave a comment telling me what your kiddo’s name is who would benefit from using the NeoTop
  2. “Like” NeoTop on Facebook
  3. Follow NeoTop on Twitter
  4. Tweet a message including a link to this giveaway
  5. “Like” LaLaLyssa on Facebook

 

 

 

 

Avon Big & False Lash Volume Mascara Review

Hello there!

First and foremost let’s address the soft-skinned elephant in the room (soft because it uses Skin So Soft, obviously): I now sell Avon. I’m not really into MLM direct marketing sales type things, but I’ve been a long time user of Avon, and decided I buy enough that it’s time for a discount. I also figured, why not see if I can pull in some extra cash to buy Holly more clothes she doesn’t need? Exactly. So that’s the elephant in the room – I now sell Avon! I can send you a free catalog anywhere in the U.S., or you can shop online 24/7 at YourAvon.com/Alyssa.

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Part of me selling stuff or reviewing it is telling you when it rocks, and when it sucks. I tried two Avon mascaras this month, and one was a total winner while the one was a flop. Let’s start with the winner, Avon Big & False Lash Volume, because winning is awesome. I’ve historically had pretty good luck with Avon Mascara, especially their cult-status Wash-off Waterproof. I’m a tough sell on mascara, because I have very sensitive eyes due to allergies, and I wear contact lenses. This means that I need a mascara that doesn’t smear, flake, or run.

I have what I call Swedish Ghost eyelashes, meaning they’re very delicate and blonde. I used to do eyelash extensions but now that I’m a mom, well…

Here are three pictures of me in various stages of eyelashing:

I was really impressed that this mascara didn’t clump, had a great thickness in just two coats, and didn’t smear all day. I’m hard on my eyes because I use an RX allergy eye drop twice a day, and despite my attempts, I end up scratching my eyes a lot. (Flowers suck this time of year.) When it came time to remove, I mostly got it off in the shower with no cleanser, and got leftover residue off with a typical remover. This mascara gets two thumbs up.

Now which mascara is a dud? This one. Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.30.52 PM

There’s so much about it that I wanted to like: the weird, flexible brush with an arching handle. The fact that it has an overall four star rating. But in general, this mascara didn’t go on without clumping, was flaky, and did nothing substantial for my lashes. Thumbs down, for sure.

If you want to give the Big and False Lash Mascara a try, it’s currently $9.00, and then you can pick any other mascara for .99. I’d go for Big and False and the classic Water-proof Washable.

What other Avon products would you like to see me review? I have some old favorites (Bubble bath, eyeliners, and lip balm), but I’d be happy to purchase something to review here in the name of science. Or blogging. Whatever. 😉

Have a good day!

 

 

February Pop Sugar Must Have Box Review

I’ve been a fan of subscription boxes since they came out. I love getting mail and when I started to get more bills than fun mail, I decided to try out subscription boxes. I started with BirchBox, which sends beauty samples, and then moved on to Julep when I rediscovered my high school love of nail polish. I stayed with Julep ($20 monthly) for two years, and then moved on to Ipsy ($10 monthly), though ultimately I left Ipsy rather quickly because I wasn’t thrilled with the samples I’d been getting. I had coveted the PopSugar MustHave Box from afar, but felt that $40 was too much a month per subscription box. I mean, that’s my whole gym budget! When I scored a generous Visa giftcard for Christmas, I decided instead of buying diapers or groceries that I would actually treat myself.

Lo and behold, a three month PopSugar must have subscription was mine. I started in December and have received my last subscription for February, but I will renew because it is AWESOME. Let’s take a look at what I got for February, shall we?

Here's the box all pristine and lovely.

Here’s the box all pristine and lovely.

Coconut Body Lotion, Athletic Socks, and $20 Giftcard = $43 value

Coconut Body Lotion, Athletic Socks, and $20 Giftcard = $43 value

FoodStirs Sugar Cookie Mix with Sprinkles and Cookie Cutter: $12 value

FoodStirs Sugar Cookie Mix with Sprinkles and Cookie Cutter: $12 value

$29 Sparkly Pave Endless Arrow Heart Ring

$29 Sparkly Pave Endless Arrow Heart Ring

CleanseBalm

Beauty Counter Cleansing Balm with Cloth and Spatula, $50

Tray

Hello Beautiful Trinket Tray, $14

Tilo 100% Modal Scarf, $125

Tilo 100% Modal Scarf, $125

So if you were counting, the value of this box is $273. Whaaaaaat?! Awesome. I love everything that came in this month’s box except for the coconut body lotion, but that’s just a personal preference because I’m not much of a lotion girl. My favorite thing is the scarf because it’s so soft and the print is adorable year ’round. The trinket tray is also handy, and who’s not going to like a glitzy ring?

I think what I like about this box is that it sums up the experience of going treasure hunting at my favorite store, TJ Maxx. It’s packed with things you don’t really *need*, but the kinds of things that make you smile and swoon just a little bit. While I don’t know if I can justify staying a member of this box forever when I have things like diapers to buy, I plan to stay on a bit longer. I’ve so far loved all three boxes I have received, and the occasional item that I don’t love, I pass on to a friend who will. Win win.

Want to know more? Look at the boxes I received in December and January, thanks to the people at My Subscription Addiction. If you decide you want to subscribe, use my referral link, because I’ll earn points and you’ll earn good karma. Happy Tuesday! <3

My personal experience with mental illness: when panic attacks

Mental illness. Two simple words so loaded with meaning. “She’s mental,” we said in high school, to describe someone who’s crazy. And illness, of course, meaning a sickness that takes over the body. When I think of mental illness, I think of the white jacketed men with butterfly nets and strait-jackets, of overblown images of someone in the throes of unmanaged schizophrenia. In reality, mental illness has a much more normal looking presence in many people’s lives, including my own.  In the past few years, mental illness has been showing up more and more in the media. When Robin Williams took his life, the nightmare of depression made headlines, having successfully stolen America’s favorite funny man. Now, his wife claims it wasn’t depression that took Robin Williams, but Parkinson’s. No matter the reason Robin Williams took his life, his death, for a moment, caused a glimmer of hope in a hurricane of sadness. In his passing, Robin held up a candle for everybody suffering with mental illness.

I have a personal history with mental illness, and though it’s big and scary to write something like this on the Internet, I’m quite open about it in person, so it’s time to share my story here. I have an anxiety disorder. Nowadays, people jokingly say they had a panic attack, meaning they got really worried when their boss called them into a meeting, or they lost their keys. Their fleeting few moments of stress is what pop-culture calls a panic attack, when in reality, a panic attack is a terrifying misfiring of the neurons and stress hormones in your brain. Have you ever had a real panic attack? If you have, I’m quite certain you don’t use that term for a mildly stressful situation. I was always a worried teen, fretting about getting in trouble or crashing the car. I had to be forced to learn how to drive because I had no interest in operating a giant machine capable of death, thank you very much. I felt stressed out a lot in high school but figured it was just my own pressure on myself to get good grades and be a “good kid”. Add a heaping dose of perfectionism and adolescent angst and you’ve got a recipe for panic.

WhenPanicAttacks

When I moved to Southern California for college, I rode my bike to class one day. I made it to class a few minutes late and rushed to the back of the room where there was only one seat left. I ran into the seat, embarrassed I was late, and sat down. Suddenly, I started to feel warm and dizzy, and began to lose my breath. The room started to spin and I felt like I was going to pass out. Every time I took a breath, I felt like a fish out of water gasping for air. I had an overwhelming urge to get out of the room, so I quickly fled. I sat in the bathroom for 15 minutes, sure that I was dying, embarrassed for having made a big show. I eventually pulled myself together and went back into class, where I apologized to the teacher afterwards, saying I thought I was going to throw up. I honestly thought I had maybe overheated on my bike ride or that my allergies were just acting up. It wasn’t until a few years later with repeated episodes like this that I finally read about symptoms of a panic attack and went “That’s ME! That’s what’s happening to me!”.  How did I know it was panic? Because every single attack was hallmarked by the uncontrollable urge to escape the situation I was in; a classic “fight or flight” reaction.

 

In 2013, I realized I was sick of my panic attacks interfering with my life. They’d hit me fast and hard, sometimes out of nowhere. I’d be in a meeting at work and have the familiar “can’t breathe” sensation, so I’d chug water or furiously scribble notes, trying to distract myself from thinking I’d soon pass out. I even had a panic attack one time while I was getting a massage. It was at this point that I decided I needed help. I went to a therapist, and found that I was indeed suffering from panic attacks, mixed in with a nice dose of generalized anxiety, which is categorized as irrational fear or worry about everyday situations. I worry about big, traumatic things like people I love dying, and less about stuff like “Does this person like me?”, but sometimes, I can’t get my brain to stop swirling with overwhelming scenarios.  Flash forward three years, and while I still get the occasional panic attack, I know how to manage them, and because of this, they show up less frequently. I have treated myself both with medication and without, have read countless books, and have all kinds of strategies for soothing an oncoming attack or a barrage of yucky “What if?” questions.

For years, I hid this diagnosis from my family and friends, ashamed that I couldn’t just pull myself together or get over it, convinced I was weak and crazy. Well-meaning but uneducated people would tell me to just “relax”, as if smelling a sprig of Lavender would magically unbundle the tense knots of adrenaline in my brain . Guess what? If you have anxiety, and I mean REAL ANXIETY, essential oils are not going to snap you out of it. Just like they can’t cure cancer.

Why am I talking about this today? Because a three-star Michelin chef took his life. Because at my post-partum checkup last month, my OB never thought to ask how I was feeling, even though I’m high risk for postpartum depression or anxiety because I have a preexisting mental health condition. (I feel great, thankfully, but I’m angry that I wasn’t even asked, when science has now proven that PPD is strongly linked to dramatic hormonal shifts.) Because three of my closest female friends struggle with depression and are ashamed to seek help because they’re embarrassed. Because I just read that two high school girls in Plano, Texas killed themselves an hour apart, each of them secretly struggling with depression and anxiety. People who knew them quoted that they didn’t “seem depressed” at all. A few times when I have confided in people about my panic disorder, they tell me I seem “so calm”. I’m fortunate that I’m able to manage my disorder enough to live a normal life, but we never know what somebody is going through until we walk a mile in their shoes. We all know somebody who took their life because they couldn’t or didn’t seek help. It’s time to change that.

I’m sharing this because when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone else who had panic attacks. The more I opened up, the more I found how many people experienced the same things I did. In addition, it was bloggers who made me feel less ashamed about getting treatment. In the spirit of passing it on, if sharing my story encourages just one person to get help for something they’re struggling with, then it’s worth it.

We need to talk about mental health the way we talk about physical health. I am not broken. My body is not broken. It’s just different, a little overcharged, and that’s okay. The important thing is that I keep trying, that I continually work on my mental health the way we work on our physical health by going to the gym or eating well. I go to therapy twice a month, even if I feel great, because I know that my brain is just like any other muscle in my body, and it too needs to be worked. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and even though it feels like I’m screaming to the world that I’m “screwed up”, what I’m really doing is joining the ranks of millions of men and women who suffer silently with an anxiety disorder, depression, or some other mental illness that affects them in many, many ways.

Please, please, please — if you are struggling with your mental health, get help. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you need some support, but it’s worth it. You are not broken. You are not crazy. You are worth the time and effort to feel better, and one day, you will.