Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Favorites in My Everyday Beauty Routine

As you guys know I'm very simple when it comes to products. I don't typically change up the core of what I use and I tend to follow the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule. And when I dealt with hormonal, problematic skin after weaning Charlie I was so scared to try anything new for fear of making my skin worse! I still use the same things on my face, but recently I've tried a couple new items I wanted to share with all of you:

First, while traveling recently I came across the best-smelling products in the world. Have you ever heard of Barr-Co.? We were in the shop Old Faithful in Vancouver and my friends were over in the corner sniffing away at some perfume. I took one whiff and was hooked. I can't even describe the smell, but it's very fresh and clean, almost soap-like but not quite. It's a blend of milk, oatmeal, vanilla and vetivier that is out of this world! While standing there dying over how insane it smelled, my friend Christina swooped in and bought it for me as a belated birthday gift. So sweet, right?! In the short time I've had a bottle at home, it's become my everyday scent. Hank doesn't even like perfume but loves this. I also picked up the hand cream while in Canada and have been using it nonstop. It's not greasy at all and lasts and lasts. I love this brand and I can't wait to try more of their products.

I've used Biolage shampoo and conditioner for a long time, but last year Living Proof sent me some samples of their Perfect Hair Day shampoo and conditioner. I've always been someone who gravitated towards volumizing/body-building formulas because I dislike when my straight hair looks super flat, but I sometimes feel like they're way too drying. I was hesitant to try the PhD line because it wasn't what I would typically use, but I read that it would provide smoothness, volume, conditioning, strength, and polish. I thought that seemed pretty crazy because in my experience if something was smoothing it would most certainly flatten my hair, but I gave it a whirl. I ended up LOVING it, and have been buying it ever since. A little does go a long way- it really does do all of the things it promises and my hair has been really happy with it. And as an added bonus these products are also free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates.

This lip gloss was a gift from a friend and I have had it on everyday since she gave it to me. It's from the California brand Poppy and Someday, a line that creates products from all-natural, all-organic ingredients. The list on the back of the jar says it's made from: Coriander essential oil, Alkanet root, beet root, cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and beeswax. That's it! Great, right? It looks dark but gives just a tiny pop of color. I really love it and I bet you will too! Plus at $10 you can't beat the price either.

And finally, I mentioned this product in my last "What's in my Makeup Bag" post, but I wanted to feature it on its own because it's just that good! After months of use hasn't made my sensitive skin break out and I've really come to love it. Benefit's Fake Up, friends! This is a must-get. It's a highlighter/concealer that I use under my eyes and up above my brow bone and it delivers a great moisturizing, dewey glow, which is how I like my skin to look. It's described as being a hydrating, crease-control concealer and it definitely does that. I wear the "light" shade, and to apply I just draw a line right under my eyes then blend. Super quick and easy.

Enjoy! Let me know if you end up trying any of these.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Big, Fat Update

Hey. Good morning! How are you? I'm sitting here typing while both boys nap. Henry never ever naps anymore but he woke up at 5am this morning (not fun for anyone involved, besides him I think), so as Charlie was going down for his morning rest Henry decided he would just lay in bed to "give his eyes a break." ;) Napping? For that big kid? Never! So he says. Two minutes later he was out and now I'm relishing in this surprise little pocket of quiet. And although my book is calling my name, and emails were calling my name, this little blog was calling my name a bit louder, so here we are!

Things have been so busy. Lots of things beginning- lots of really awesome things. One thing I can't talk about yet (annoying, I know, but then fun later when I can say "Hey! Remember when I said...."), and then a few other fun happenings around these parts. Henry begins his first official year of Pre-K next week, which makes me really excited. It makes me incredibly happy that I get another year of him being home with me most of the time. He's a November birthday and could have started Kindergarten, but we didn't want to push him through early so in Pre-K he stays. He was in Preschool last year until they moved him into Pre-K early, so he'll just be doing a second year in the same place. Then next year the big kid moves onto "real" school.

And you know what I was thinking about last night? About how sad it is that I basically have about five years total with each of the boys here at home with me before they're out in the world, going to school five days a week. And I remember when Henry was born,  I thought about this- and I maybe even blogged about it- about how this time at home was starting, and then all of a sudden here we are at the tail end of that. But Charlie, oh we have a good, big chunk of that home time still happening. And it's not as if when school starts poof! it's over, but I just think about these long days together, where we can wake up and say "What do we want to do today?" and then do it. Things change once little ones go to school everyday. And its not necessarily a bad different, but just something that takes some getting used to- which thankfully I don't have to do YET.

So that's been the big thing on the horizon- school starting again. And then we also have Charlie turning two in a couple of weeks, Henry starting soccer, and one more big burst of traveling for us before we slow down a little into October. Some other things coming up-

1. Half Dome/Yosemite. Some of my girlfriends and I will be hiking and camping in Yosemite for a long weekend coming up next month. I've never been, and I can't wait to really experience somewhere that's been on my "must-go" list forever. I'm really sad Hank couldn't take off work and join us, but it'll be a good excuse to go back soon. This is my first long backpacking trip though, and I'm looking forward to doing something totally new and different, and where I seriously have no idea what the hell I'm doing.

2. Michael Franti and Spearhead next Friday in Flagstaff! Alana and I are headed up to the Pepsi Amphitheater (I've never seen a show there- I'm excited!) to soak up all of his amazingness. Have you ever listened to his music? It's super super positive, and the boys and I listen to him daily while driving around. It just puts us in the best mood! The weather has been perfect up in Flag, so I'm looking forward to a night out under the stars with friends, enjoying some beautiful music. If you're in Arizona, come join us!

3. THREE of my closest friends are pregnant and all three are having girls! What are the chances? I feel like last time there was a big group of friends pregnant it was the same thing- except everyone had boys. Don't you feel like that happens so often? In my group of friends at least, it seems to come in waves.

And since we're on a random, let's talk about whatever comes to mind kick here, I was thinking about blogs lately, and about how I so rarely read actual posts anymore. So then I started thinking about the blogs I love that still post a lot of words and stories and writing, and how much I enjoy whenever I see a big, fat update waiting for me in my reader. I mean, I love pretty photos as much as the next person but words! They're my fave. Do you have any blogs you love that really write? I would love to discover some new ones.

One last thing too- I recently got eyelash extensions and I feel like I may be ruined for life. My sister's longtime friend Bre does them and once Lauren got them and I saw them in action, I had to try them too. I can't even tell you how convenient they are. They were a little weird to get used to at first, but after a couple weeks they feel totally normal and natural and I can't imagine not having them. Have you ever considered getting some? I feel like they seem high-maintenance but are actually super low-maintenance. I'm definitely a fan.

I'm signing off now- I have probably an hour left before the boys wake up and I need to log in some work time, but this was so fun. I love the fact that we can connect in this space, so many of you here for SO many years, right along with me. I love you guys.

Happy almost-Friday! (I hate the term Hump Day so much).


Monday, July 27, 2015

5 Reads for August

So, what have you been reading over the past month or so? I have a huge list of books to tackle, and I've been happily chugging along. I've had a little extra time on some flights recently, so I've been able to work my way through some extra pages and it's been great. I wanted to share my current reading/to-read list with you guys, and let me know what you've been loving too. I missed a few "5 Reads" over the past couple of months so let's get a head start on August:

1. The Girl on the Train. I just finished this last week and I really enjoyed it. I was a bit apprehensive to actually pick it up because I felt like the hype level was out of control, but it actually lived up to my expectations. It's not one of my all-time favorite books, but it's definitely a great read and completely engaging, which is perfect for a beach-summer-travel book. One thing is that I really got a "The Yellow Wallpaper" feel in the beginning? Anyone else?

2. The Goldfinch. My friend Kelly suggested I try this one and I just started it last night, and I'm enjoying it. Another one I've seen all over the place but just didn't pick up for one reason or another. So far so good though- I'll keep you posted.

3. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. This popped up in my Amazon recs and I was drawn to it for some reason. I downloaded the sample but haven't cracked it open yet. It looks great though, doesn't it?

4. The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. Okay so this one looks a little too cheesy for me after reading the summary, but I was still drawn to it, and it might end up being a fun summer read. Another on my to-read list.

5. Paper Towns. I finished this up a couple weeks back and I definitely liked it. I love John Green, but for some reason it took me a few tries to really get into this one. Have you read it? I also just saw its been made into a movie, so I'm curious to check that out as well. Keep in mind this in a young adult book, but I do feel like anyone would enjoy it. Green is the best storyteller, and this one is no exception.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Is This Enough?

First of all, I already know the answer. Of course it is. I look at that photo, at those beautiful boys and it's clear. I can sit in the big chair in our living room and have these little limbs strewn across me, blonde heads buried into my neck, big brown eyes crinkling as they laugh at one of my silly jokes, and I know, this is all I need. Truly. But then sometimes there's this tiny little twinge in my heart- an extra beat maybe, when I think about having another baby.

I used to want six kids. I dreamed of this. I imagined Hank and I living on a farm somewhere (ignoring that I'm basically scared of most animals) raising our children. I would homeschool (I would never homeschool), grow our own food (I kill half of the plants that enter our house), and live our life simply. Oh, dreams. What funny things they can be as you grow into your reality.

So we had one child. And as he got older I said, "Okay, for us, six is insane. Maybe four. Yes, four." And we had another. And I saw how that went. And I said, "Okay four is insane. Maybe three. Yes, three." And that baby grew and grew and more and more of his baby-ness fell away. And now that baby is turning two and the other is turning five and I look at this life and I wonder what is next.

Do I have a hole in my heart that yearns to be filled with another child? Is that what this feeling is? Do we grow our family one more time? I'm certain the answer is yes, and I've been thinking about it often. But not now. I'm pretty sure about that. But then we ask ourselves, when? When does life slow down enough where I would say okay, this is the time?

It's weird to be at the end of this part of our lives. One more baby. Just one. It seems like yesterday that we were at the beginning, pregnant with Henry and imagining what life would be like once he arrived. Then I can flash forward to almost two years ago, when Charlie was born. Two boys sitting there with me on the hospital bed. One wrapped up in a blanket nursing, the other snuggled up next to me, looking with awe at his new baby brother.

What a gift it is to know when something is your last. The last time you're pregnant. The last time you have that first moment with your new baby. The last time you give a first bath. The last first word. I've already promised myself that when the time comes to try for that sweet baby, and if we are able to have another, that I won't spend my time mourning everything as it passes. That's no way to enjoy a beautiful season of life. Being in the now will be so important, and that's where I want to be- where I need to be. So we will see what's next for us, see what's next for this little family of ours. I have babies on the brain lately, but there's a pause button there too, and a little thought in my mind saying "Not now, but maybe soon." We'll see, we'll see.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Zion National Park Adventure

We drove into Utah from Arizona just as it was starting to get dark, the night before we were to set out and tackle Angel's Landing. As we got closer to Zion we started to see the outline of deer in the pastures lining the road, the last light of the day highlighting their shape against the rocky backdrop. It was beautiful. We rolled down the windows and let the air in, taking in the little bits we could before the sun went completely down behind the mountains.

When we woke up the next morning and took a look around we were in awe. Rocks towered around us on all sides- the red only made redder by the green trees. We stretched, we took it in, we discussed our plan. That morning we were headed out to hike Angel's Landing, a 1,500-foot rock formation that promised to provide insane views of Zion Canyon. I'd researched the hike pretty extensively- I read about how difficult it could be for those with any fear of heights and how dangerous it could be in inclement weather. All along I hadn't felt nervous- but the night before Erinn, Alana, and I had hopped back on the internet and started to psych ourselves out. "How many people have died doing this?!" "WHY are we doing this anyway?" etc.

As we got our packs out, laced up our shoes, and headed out,  the sun was coming up. After a tiny bit of back and forth and some "once we get there, if it looks like a stupid idea we won't do it" talk we began the hike, pushing aside the previous night's apprehension. We entered at the trailhead at the Grotto Picnick area and made our way uphill, through Walter's Wiggles, a set of 21 steep switchbacks.

We approached Scout's Lookout and saw a few people deciding to stop there, rather than going all the way to the top. We had made some friends along the way and we all decided to head up together, and this is where is got interesting for me. All along I felt like I could possibly have some fear of heights, but I wasn't totally sure because up until recently I hadn't been in too many situations where I could have found out. A few weeks prior Alana and I had hike Devil's Bridge in Sedona and I was incredibly uncomfortable walking across it. But Angel's Landing, oh man, this was in a whole different realm- SO high, SO scary...but oddly enough I wasn't scared at all. This came as a surprise to me- my adrenaline kicked in and I was 110% stoked, no fear whatsoever. Awesome.

We continued going upward, and the hike definitely became intense at a few points. You're literally standing on a ledge thousands of feet in the air, with nothing to hold onto, sheer drops on both sides. It was crazy. And beautiful. And the kind of thing that makes you feel sick with excitement and nerves the entire time. Some of the way up there were chains- but there were a few hairy sections that had you just saying "okay, I'm doing it," and taking a breath then a quick step to a different rock or spot, with the world kind of spinning below thanks to how high in the air you are.

In all honesty although the scary parts were definitely scary, but those parts made up a small portion of the entire hike. It definitely wasn't as bad as I had read, and once we got to the top I sat there for a second and processed what I just did. Now, I'm going to try not to get totally cheesy here but I would say that this hike was kind of life-changing. Tears and everything, people. Just being nervous about something and then doing that something, and really and truly loving the shit out of doing that something...that's such a great feeling. How often do we get a chance to really get shaken up in life, or be surprised by ourselves? This was one of those times for me, and I will really and truly cherish this adventure forever. My only wish was that we had more time to spend in the park, but since it was a quick turn-around three day trip we headed home upon completion. Next time, I'll have to bring my GoPro (and Hank!) and capture a bit more of the climb!

Here are some iPhone photos, and do let me know if you have any questions below. I'm sharing this story in partnership with the National Park Foundation and their Find Your Park campaign. It's really an amazing project so be sure to check it out when you have a moment. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

And that's where I begin.

It's Monday. I'm sitting here in my living room, after arriving home late last night from a long, 11-hour drive. The boys are still sleeping, I have a big glass of water next to me, and I'm enjoying the very quiet silence of the morning. This is my favorite time of the day. Whenever I can, I try to get up before everyone to enjoy a small bit of it before the hustle and bustle of the morning begins. And it's funny, I remember my Mom doing the same when I was little- I would wake up to find her having been up for hours, the gym, morning tea, breakfast, already check off her list.

So I sit. And I think. And the thing on my mind most this morning is happiness. I've been thinking a lot about it- Hank and I actually had a long talk about the idea of joy on the way home yesterday. What makes me (you/us) happy? What makes us feel alive? Are we doing enough of those things?

Henry is in a place right now where he is acutely aware of his own happiness. "I'm not happy right now." "This is making me feel upset- I'm not happy with this." So I ask him, what would make you happy? "I want to play!" "I want to run outside!" And so we do it. It's as simple as that, really.

There have been many times in my life where I haven't felt happy. And although I can also look back and see specific seasons of my life where it wasn't a choice- hormones or chemical imbalances- I believe most of the time it was a choice for me. I chose to do things or be around things that didn't add to the goodness of my life. I would do the same things over and over, all the while saying "why isn't this working?" and expecting things to change. And it wasn't until one day I woke up and said "I'm not happy right now." And asked myself, "What would make you happy?" and did those things, that I understood more of how to get back there when I needed to.

It's a long road, you know, this happiness thing. And I remember reading something somewhere that was about the goal not being happiness, but wholeness. Does this add to your wholeness? Bad or good or terrible or wonderful. Does it add to the big picture of your life, the experience, the feeling? Yes? Well good then. I like that.

So what things make you happy, what things make you whole? What makes you feel alive? As far as happiness, it's my family, always. Being around them and traveling with them- seeing new places and that first excitement of a shared new experience- that's what I live for. Just waking up next to Hank and feeling safe, hearing the boys stirring down the hall- that is everything. And then there are my my soul sisters, the girls who have been there from the beginning. Traveling with them, sitting on a couch with them, just being in their magical, accepting, uplifting presence- they are my happiness. Being outside, hiking and exploring. Exercising and moving my body. Seeing new places with the people I love. A good book. A good meal. Writing.

The other day Henry was complaining about something, I don't remember what, but I told him that it was silly to keep complaining, when he could be spending that energy working to change it. And I thought about my own life, and how many times I could have used that advice. Life isn't so simple when you're really in it, but sometimes when I take a big enough step away, it can feel that way.

It's exciting really, when I think about being 33 and how I'm kind of in the middle of the really sweet spot. Enough behind me where I feel slightly experienced in how to live my own life, but so much ahead that there's a lifetime of goodness to look forward to. Isn't that such a gift? Waking up today and feeling like there's a whole day stretched ahead of you? What will we do? How will we fill it?

I hear stirring in Charlie's room, so I'm typing this quickly. My quiet morning time is coming to an end. How wonderful it feels to just share this river of thoughts in my mind with you, to empty it here to revisit later. Today I will work on my wholeness. I will look at the big picture and pull out tiny pieces of goodness, things that are happy and hopeful, and hold them there for a minute, and say thank you. We're building something here, and those are the parts I most want to grow. So I ask myself, what would make you happy? What would make you feel whole? And that's where I begin.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Revisiting a Summer Favorite

Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013

Hey guys! I've worked with Radisson numerous times in the past, and this time around we've teamed up to spread the word about their summer Get More Radisson campaign. It's an awesome deal- when you book any stay at a Radisson hotel between now and July 25th, you'll be sent an e-voucher to use that will give you 50% off your next stay (see more details at the bottom of the post!).

We've stayed in Radissons many times, and it was great looking back through my photos to this particular stay and seeing how tiny the boys were. I had JUST given birth to Charlie two months earlier so it's just so neat to see how much has changed. And this weekend really sticks out in my mind- it was the first time Charlie had stayed away from home and it was just a great family weekend. I've always really enjoyed stayed at their properties, and their Club Carlson benefits really seal the deal. Earning free rooms as you stay, extra perks...awesome.

And now- a little flashback photo diary from a fun visit almost two years ago. Just look at those tiny babies!

Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013

*this post was shared in partnership with Radisson Hotels
*With the Get More Radisson® campaign, now through July 25, 2015 at participating hotels, when you book a 2-night stay you'll receive an E-Certificate for 50% off a future stay. All eligible stays must be completed by August 31, 2015, with the discounted stay taking place between September 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016 (with the exclusion of December 31). To join in the #GetMore conversation visit the Radisson Facebook page throughout the summer for a chance to win weekly prizes. To get even more rewards from your travels, check outClub Carlson and access a collection of benefits, services and privileges at over 1,000 hotels worldwide.
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