Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Assvice Wednesdays

AW#7:

If you're trying to use a small diaper bag and you're pressed for space, tuck a folding nylon grocery bag into one of the pockets. That way, if you acquire any extra paraphernalia while out for the day, if your spawn removes his jacket, if you decide to take off your baby carrier, etc. you'll have something in which to carry said excess stuff. This can be handy, since if you're trying to wrangle a rabid toddler, you won't have a spare hand free!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Meyers

To my Sweet Buttery Boo:

You are 16 months old today. SIXTEEN MONTHS! When that happened, I have no clue. Thursday is the one year anniversary of the day I went back to work, a/k/a, the worst day of my life. No offense to my job, but it is true. Leaving you was the hardest thing I've ever done, hands down.

It might be a coincidence, but just these last two weeks you've developed a spot of separation anxiety. We'd gotten into a routine of setting you up in a high chair with a breakfast Nutri Grain bar in the mornings. I'd get you settled, put your lunch bag in the fridge, put your backpack in your cubby then come back for a kiss and a wave goodbye. You'd kiss, smile, wave back and shout "BYE BYE!!!" as I walked down the driveway. A few times recently, though, you've lifted up your little arms to be picked up out of your high chair, stolen a few extra minutes of snuggles then, heartbreakingly, cried when I've passed you off to Maria. Thankfully, all of those times, I've paused at the end of the driveway and listened to find you'd stopped crying. I had a chat with you while you nursed in the car after pickup yesterday evening . . . I promised I'd always come get you (except, of course, for the times when your daddy would). You looked up at me intently with your huge baby eyes, and I like to think you understood. You didn't cry this morning, in any event.

You are wicked smart. Seriously. You blow my mind practically every day. The other night, you were putting away your toys in the bath and you knew that the bottles should be lined up on the ledge while the toys went in the mesh bag. At one point, a big plastic bathtub book was filling up the entire opening of the toy bag and, in order to get a smaller bathtub book in, you took out the bigger book, put the smaller book in, then put the bigger book back. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but I seriously thought that was the craziest, smartest thing I've ever seen a wee toddler do. Your other tricks include being able to place all 5 shapes in your shape sorter, stacking up to 6 blocks and being able to open all the childproof locks we've tried for our kitchen cabinets.

Your vocabulary is . . . like, whoa. You can say about 45 words and you understand hundreds. You've been putting together a few simple sentences. For example, you used to say "down" when you wanted off the big bed or out of your high chair. You started saying "get down" about a month ago and, lately, it has become "I want get down". Your newest "word" is "Ummm", which is HILARIOUS. We'll ask you a question and you'll say "Ummm . . . DAT!!!" or "Ummm . . . DES!!!"

Last night your dad and I were playing with you in your room before bedtime. Your dad attempted (quite successfully, actually) to juggle, which made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. Then we set you up with three different drums and a pair of drumsticks. You passed your dad a whistle and me a harmonica for a little playtime jam session. I thought that simple nights like that one, where we were all having fun together, were the ones I wanted to remember. We've got piles of photos from big days out and trips away, but 30 years from now, when you're grown and maybe even married with kids of your own, the moments I'll want to remember are much smaller and simpler than the ones we have documented.

I'm going to keep your happy giggles, wet baby kisses and 1,000 watt smiles locked in a box in my heart.

Love,
Your Mama


Fabric Rosettes

Recently, I hosted a crafty bridal tea for my soon to be new sister in law. We ate scones, watched the royal wedding (leftover on my DVR!) and made fabric flowers finished off with barrette and brooch findings. Super fun!

I've made tons of singed edged fabric flowers, but I was itching to try something new and, having recently cleaned out all of my crafting materials, I knew I was sitting on a pretty huge stash of linen fabric. I found this tutorial for making shabby chic, rolled fabric roses and it didn't disappoint! I cranked out two roses easily (while hosting a bridal shower and minding my one year old!). If that isn't proof positive that these roses are easy and fun to make, I don't know what is! I'm already itching to make a few more:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tarte for True Blood . . .SWOON!

Because I have the bestest husband and baby EVER, I was gifted with the following Tarte for True Blood items on my birthday (I KNOW, right?!?!):


Tarte for True Blood Limited Edition LipSurgence


A perfect, bright cherry (almost coral tinged) red in an awesome, super pigmented balm style formula. This lipstick lasts longer than most and doesn't feel at all sticky. It has a cool mint tingle and flavor. I'm not gonna lie, I kinda want one in every shade now.




And (drum roll, please) the Tarte for True Blood Limited Edition Palette







(Have you keeled over dead from the awesomeness yet?)

I'm a sucker for a good film/tv makeup tie in. I have and love the Alice in Wonderland Urban Decay palette, but I have to say, I think this Tarte has Urban Decay beat with this one. The shadows are more wearable, neutral shades (if you're into that sort of thing, and I am), the kit includes arguably the best mascara I've ever used and a stick of Tarte's famous gel eyeliner.

The kit also included instructions to replicate four looks. I went with Luminous Fairy below (worn with the True Blood lip color):



I'm loving playing with my new goodies!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Halloween is Coming!!!

I'm a big fat dork who loves Halloween. And, as such, every year I anxiously await the arrival of Halloween related merchandise in stores. The day before my birthday last week I got an email from Bath and Body works about their new Halloween line and, internet?, I was in a store snapping things up within about 12 hours. Here are some of my purchases:

Halloween Anti Bac Hand Soaps

We've got a baby, We need anti-bac soap ANYWAYS. Might as well make it festive for the holiday!



Halloween Themed Body Lotion in Sinful Vanilla

Frankly? I wanted them all. I settled for Sinful Vanilla though: a fresh, clean smelling vanilla in a to die for adorable red bottle. I detect a faint whiff of mens' cologne in this one . . . I was kind of hoping it'd be more creamy and puddingy (like the original B&BW vanilla bean . . . anyone remember that? It smelled EXACTLY like pudding. I loved it!). Still, nice all the same.




Bat Pocket-Bac holder
with Skulls Pocket-Bac

Are you seeing this? Is this not the cutest thing EVER?! I fully intend to keep my bat tethered to my son's diaper kit YEAR ROUND. It is adorable and just the right dash of creepy. SQUEE!



Halloween Lip Glosses in Bad Witch and Vampire Vixen



These . . . well . . . I don't know why I keep buying Bath and Body Works lip glosses. Actually, I do. It is because they're adorable. But they're on the pricey side and, while I tend to love them intensely for about a week and a half, after that they get sticky, goopy and smelly and I wind up tossing them into the bottom of my makeup drawer never to emerge again. These two glosses are probably going to suffer the same fate, but I'm liking them right now. Bad Witch is a color changer that goes on clear but turns into a jelly, sheer fuchsia. Vampire Vixen is shown on my lips below:



Fun stuff, right? Do you geek out on Halloween?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Revenge of the Disney Birthday Extravaganza

So! Where were we? Oh yes, just finished up watching the Disneyland fireworks from my parents' balcony and off to bed the night before our big DISNEYLAND day!

We kicked off day two with another McDonalds' breakfast (Disney and McDonalds' brekkie . . . they just belong together!) and headed into the park. We made a beeline for the all new Star Tours and it didn't disappoint! We used the rider switch option (poor Meyers . . . too small for Star Tours!) and funnily, even given 50 possible ride combinations, we all wound up going on the same adventure! All well though, Hoth was rad!



While we waited for my parents to make their Star Tours Journey, we let Rhysapotomus run around the Star Trader gift shop:



Then we all went on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters together . . . and I scored my personal best, 496,100 points. Seriously! I even ranked . . . I had the 35th best score for the day so far (It was only about 10am . . . but I'm still proud!):



After Buzz, the hubs and I took a quick, baby-free trip on Space Mountain . . . we'd gotten FastPasses earlier and I was so excited to ride, since in the last 2 years we've had Disneyland passes I've either been pregnant or had a wee Meyers strapped to me through our whole visit, so I haven't been able to ride anything big. Whee!!!

By the time we finished Space Mountain, Rhysosaur was pooped and happily fell asleep in the Ergo. We used the downtime to play with our camera and lenses in Disneyland's central plaza:





After which The Meyers woke up, we had an excellent lunch at the Hungry Bear (Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches! Sweet Potato Fries!) and headed on in to New Orleans Square, my favorite part of the park, for a little Haunted Mansion action:



Sang "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for RHYS!":



And shared a mint julep:



We headed into Toontown next to let Rhysaroni run amok:





We met the big cheese himself (Rhys was unimpressed):



After which Rhys and I visited the (awesome!) Disneyland baby care center for some nursing privacy. Rhys fell asleep and consented to be passed off to Grandma and Grandpa for a bit so that the Boy and I could ride Indiana Jones together:



The Meyers finished off the day on a high note, by stealing Boy's corndog:



So! There you have it! An exhaustive, photo laden account of our trip to the Mouse House. I loved every second of it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Disney Birthday Extravaganza . . . Part 1

It is pretty much understood that I'm a Disneyland fanatic, I think. My parents and I used to get annual passes every year when I was grade school aged (back when a pass was something like $100 for the year, with no blackout dates), so I practically grew up at the park. The old school park . . . the one with no CA Adventure, no Downtown Disney, only one hotel and an expansive, flat asphalt parking lot. I remember The World of Tron, The Peoplemover and Circle Vision. I even remember a time before Toontown, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain and Star Tours.

My parents are most familiar with the old park, and despite having been to Disneyland in the neighborhood of 100 times each, neither of them have ever stayed by the park overnight and experienced it as tourists instead of as locals. I have this theory that Disneyland is all about suspension of disbelief . . . and that staying overnight heightens that suspension exponentially. I was pretty darn excited about showing them an exponentially radder Disneyland!

We kicked off our vacay w/ McDonald's breakfast (as we do) then drove out to Anaheim, checked in to the Howard Johnson and hiked on over to California Adventure.

We kicked things off with a ride on the new Little Mermaid attraction:


We stopped for lunch then let the Meyers run through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. We'd been through the trail before, long before we had the Meyers, and I was really excited to let him visit it as a walker:



We took turns riding Soarin' (the Meyers is still too little for that one!), saw the Muppetvision 3D show then walked on over to try a drink at the all new Trader Sam's Tiki Bar (while Rhys slept in his Ergo):



After a drink and a snack, we headed back to the hotel to let Rhys enjoy the awesome pirate themed splash pool. We just love staying at the Disneyland Howard Johnson . . . . they've got a pirate pool, a well stocked convenience shop that is open until 11pm, huge rooms, they're next door to a McDonalds and a Mimi's Cafe, they're an easy walking distance to Disneyland, they offer free parking (which saved us SIXTY DOLLARS compared to Disneyland parking over the course of this 2 day trip w/ 2 cars . . . that works out to getting one of our rooms practically for free. Seriously.), they offer fireworks view rooms for around $100 a night (!!!), they have a coin-op laundry room and video arcade on site and they provide free pirate hats at check-in. If you are looking for a hotel in the Disneyland area, look no further. Commercial over. Here are a few shots of Rhys enjoying the splash pool:





After splashing, we headed back to the Disney complex for dinner at Tortilla Jo's (not the best experience we've had there . . . slow service, mediocre food . . . it might be time for us to adopt a new Disney trip dinner plan) followed by a super fun drinks session at the Grand Californian hotel bar. We got Rhys his own little fruit juice "cocktail" with a glowing Buzz Lightyear straw. Rhys was able to sit and watch old school Disney cartoons in a kid sized chair while we enjoyed our drinks at an adjacent table. It was the perfect, simultaneously kid and adult friendly setup!




We finished off the night with fireworks, viewed from my parents' room balcony:




Thus endeth day one! I'll be putting up another pic heavy post later about day two . . . our day at DISNEYLAND!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Assvice Wednesdays

AW#6

Pumping mamas: Get a mini fridge to keep under your desk, in your office or in your pumping area. If you're pressed for time, put your pump parts, collection bottles and all, in the fridge between pumpings instead of hand washing or rinsing them.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DSLR Woes

So, I got this picture last weekend at the beach which is equal parts amazing and distressing. Here it is:



It is gorgeous, right? My husband smiling, my boy smiling. What's distressing though is that because of my own inexperience with my camera, this photo which could have been SPECTACULAR isn't. The background is completely blown out and, while that's a cool effect, I admit, it isn't what I was going for. The skin tones are also completely unrealistic because I had to alter the exposure significantly in Lightroom (yep, it was MORE blown out than that originally).

What happened: I was taking shots of the boys on the beach in manual when Rhys looked up, saw me and started running towards me with a huge, beautiful smile on his face. I lifted the camera and started shooting . . . without stopping to change my exposure settings, which were COMPLETELY off now that I was shooting basically into the sun.

Here's the thing . . .even if I were more experienced, even if I were much better at this whole photo taking thing, I still don't know that I'd have chosen to take the time to fix my settings when it may have meant missing a moment like that. I may have (hypothetically) panicked and choked. Granted, with experience I'd probably get faster at changing those settings . . . maybe I'd have taken 2 shots, then fixed then gotten 2 more (I took 6 total, as it was). Even so, I may have missed "the" shot.

While Rhys is adorable full time, photo ops like this one don't happen on cue. I've got to be ready to roll when he's looking into the camera.

If I'd had the camera in program mode, I may have gotten the shot, but then I would have missed a lot of great other shots during the day that were taken in tricky lighting situations that program mode wouldn't have handled to my satisfaction. (It was bright and sunny with lots of shadows). I'm not even certain that program mode could've handled the lighting for the shot in question.

Aperture priority or shutter priority modes? I'll admit, I haven't spent that much time in either of those. I feel like I want to be learning how to use my camera. REALLY learning how to use it . . . and I can't learn fully if I'm copping out by letting the camera auto some of my settings for me. That's an ego thing, partially, I'll admit . . . but the "wanting to learn" argument is still fully valid.

I don't see an easy answer.

What mode do you tend to keep your camera in? What's your battle plan for catching "the shot"?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Splash Splash

As this post goes up, I'm on my way to Disneyland for 2 days with the beebs, the hubs and my parents, in celebration of my birthday (the 18th) and my mom's (the 22nd) (Those are our dates, not ages. Although we'd be thrilled to pass for 18 and 22 respectively). HUZZAH!

We'll be staying at a hotel with a great kids pool/splash playground which is a beefed up version of the Oak Park Splash Pad we frequent. The first time we took him there, we had to hold on to the Meyers by both hands. Now he runs around on his own. My boy ... so big!

Here are some shots of the Meyers enjoying the "wawas" last weekend. I pulled out the 50, which I haven't in a while, and got a few shots I love. That lens is so great for portraits! I've got to remember to use it more often.







Friday, August 19, 2011

e.l.f. Haul Part II (Electric Boogaloo)

In addition to the 100 eyeshadow palette I reviewed yesterday, I also purchased:

2) e.l.f. Studio High Definition Powder




This is the product I was most excited to try . . . it actually inspired me to order from e.l.f. in the first place. I was running low on my Bare Minerals Mineral Veil and I'd been eying some pricier HD powders at Sephora. I thought I'd give e.l.f.'s version a try after reading a rad review on Lipglossiping. Sadly, I can't say I found it as magical as she did. This may be more a function of my skin type than of the powder, but it has a white cast when I first apply it. After an hour or so, it settles into my skin and looks pretty great, but for that first hour it looks kind of chalky and ghostly, moreso than the slightly tinted Bare Minerals Mineral Veil does. Once it settles, I DO appreciate the light diffusing properties of this powder and I think because of that it'll get used quite a bit, initial chalkiness notwithstanding.

3) e.l.f. Studio Mineral Face Primer





Another item I've been wanting to add to my makeup kit is a good, clear primer. I have used (and loved!) Too Faced Primed and Poreless , but was interested in finding something a) cheaper and b) clear. This primer fit the bill perfectly. It goes on smoothly and really does make my mineral foundation (used as concealer) apply like butter. I'm going to monitor my skin for long term effects (I'm concerned this primer might be drying if used daily), but for now I'm pronouncing it a tentative win.

Up next, a trio of dollar buys:

4) e.l.f. Essential Waterproof Eyeliner Pen in Black
5) e.l.f. Essential Blending Eye Brush
6) e.l.f. Essential Eyelid Primer in Pearl





The blending brush was a spectacular find for which I'd have paid 10x the price. If you are in need of a few brushes, get ye to e.l.f.'s site immediately. You won't be disappointed (unless you are a die hard fancy brush addict, in which case ignore what I just said. I'm sure you and your MAC brushes are very happy together.)

The pen eyeliner is positively SWOONWORTHY . . . goes on inky black in a precise, thin line and doesn't budge until it is taken off. This is the eyeliner I've been waiting my whole life for.

As for the eye primer, I'm a die hard Too Faced Shadow Insurance fan, but figured for a buck (or 3, below), it was worth trying out e.l.f.'s primers to see if the cheaper alternatives were as good. The white pearl primer was more glittery than pearlescent, not in a bad way, just not what I was expecting. My shadow lasted a good 11 hours and fell off my eyelids, seemingly in one fell swoop, at the 12 hour mark. I chose shadows from the e.l.f. 100 kit, just to be certain that I could attribute staying power to the primer since, if I'd used Urban Decay shadows, for example, I'd expect those to last quite some time primer notwithstanding. 11 hours from a $1 primer? Well played, e.l.f. I'll still be using my Too Faced Shadow Insurance for big events, long days, etc., I don't see any reason not to add this bargain primer into the rotation, however. It performs adequately . . . you could even say it performs heroically, given the price.

and 7) e.l.f. Mineral Eyeshadow Primer




This was Meyers' favorite item, as he found it was delicious . . .



. . . it fit through the slats of our bench . . .



. . . and it made an excellent drumstick.


So, there's the roundup! 7 items purchased, all of them usable, two stand outs (the eyeliner and blending brush . . . both $1 items!), a shipping hassle and an insanely low price (My bill came to $26 and change for all 7 items). I'll be ordering from e.l.f. again (I actually, er, already have) albeit with lots of jokes about how I just hope to get my items in time for Xmas.