6.19.2017

Sounds Suspicious vol. 1

I love Pinterest. It is one of the 4 apps I switch back and forth between pretty much all day long while my kids are napping or involved in an educational independent activity. I love getting inspired to start projects I'll never finish, finding new uses for everyday items, and discovering new ways to make all my crap fit into my tiny house.

Lately, however, I've been noticing with increasing frequency certain questionable pieces of advice, or "life hacks," that have no apparent foundation in reality. My favorite recent finding is this handy tip to straighten your hair without heat using water mixed with brown sugar.

Please just let that sink in for a second. Do you really think there's any planet on which spraying sugar water into your hair would result in anything other than a sticky, bug-attracting disaster? But judging by the number of boards this pin was saved to (over 750), people will believe anything they read on the internet, especially if there's a pretty, high-resolution (and usually highly Photoshopped) before and after pic attached. I'm not sure who's coming up with these ridiculous claims or why, but there are a LOT of people buying into them.


So I've decided to anoint myself your official questionable-life-hack-buster! That's right. When I find a bit of advice on the internet that seems shady but isn't too expensive or dangerous to try you can count on me to test it out and report my findings. I'm highly qualified for this gig for the following reasons:

1. I have a computer with a reliable internet connection.
2. I know how to type.
3. I have Photoshop experience so I can usually recognize when image editing sorcery is at play.
4. I need a hobby.

So without further ado, today I give you my first Sounds Suspicious life hack test!

CLAIM: You can remove (or minimize or possibly bleach) blackheads with a solution of baking soda and lemon juice.

Here's the pin I found making this claim:
Wow! Just look at the improvement!

I tried this hack out yesterday exactly as the pin prescribes. First I made a "creamy paste" (does that sound gross or what? I hope this post doesn't come up in an adult themed google search) with a fresh lemon and some baking soda.

My lemon and baking soda concoction. (And my bathroom sink that needs to be cleaned.) I used about 1 tbsp lemon juice and as advised poured baking soda in until it looked like a creamy paste. It was fizzy and bubbly until I mixed it up because base + acid = SCIENCE!

And here's the blackheaded nasal region in question (i.e. mine). I tried very hard to get a picture with my old iPhone that was in focus, but this was the best I could do. I think you get the idea.

I'm all squinty because I even stood outside in the sun trying to get you the best view of my clogged pores. And you can tell it's not photoshopped because I would have at least minimized those dark circles under my eyes or some of the red blemishes. See? This is how you know I'm trustworthy - I let it all hang out.

Time to slather that creamy paste on my face! I went all out and covered every blackhead-prone region cuz in case this actually worked then I wanted all those suckers gone. I used a Q-Tip to smear it on nice and thick.

I smell delicious.

And now we wait. 20 minutes. I watched the clock and took the following notes:

  • The lemon juice separates from the baking soda pretty quickly and drips down my face.
  • My nose itches. On the inside. I think some lemon juice found its way in.
  • 8 minutes in - it's tingling with a very mild burning sensation. Does this mean it's working?
  • My nose seriously itches every time I move any part of my face. I try to be completely still.
  • 14 minutes in - the paste is drying out and starting to crumble off. I now have dried out creamy lemon paste in my cleavage. DON'T MOVE.
  • Aaron is taking advantage of the fact I'm trying not to move, and reaches into my cleavage to remove some dried up paste. He really just wants to cop a feel.
  • 19 minutes in - one more minute and I can scratch my nose!

At the 20 minute mark I ran to the bathroom and rinsed very carefully and thoroughly with cold water, making sure not to open my eyes until all the paste was removed.  I couldn't wait to see the results!

(I'll put the before image here again so you can compare side-by-side.)

Would I be blackhead free as promised? Would I??

No.

VERDICT: This life hack is a bust!

Well I'm sorry to report that the only difference I noticed was that my face was a little redder. If anything I thought my blackheads looked a bit more pronounced. Looks like my blackheads are here to stay... at least until my next experiment!

Speaking of, I have 2 more suspicious life hacks in the works. I'm testing the claim that Vaseline helps your eyelashes grow, and whether regular ol' hydrogen peroxide can whiten your teeth. So I'll be back with more unedited photographic evidence that lays these claims to rest, whether true or false! Hopefully I don't lose my eyelashes or teeth in the process.

5.16.2017

Welcome to Zootopia

I'm having a little post-party depression, I have to admit! I think it's because I felt so productive for the week or so leading up to it, then Aaron and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last weekend, followed by Mother's Day, and now I have nothing but regular life going on. Also Max has been sick with a mild virus for the past week, and is probably teething too. He's been up all night and refusing to nap during the day and I haven't showered in two days, so I'm a little bit of a salty bitch (literally and figuratively!). I need to go for a run and start a new project but I feel so MEH...

As promised, here are pics of Cadence's Zootopia party. I gotta say, for all the time I spent on this party the pics don't really look very impressive. But Cadence loved it, and like I said, I got some satisfaction out of making all the decorations, as much of a pain in the ass as it was!

Zootopia city limits. Poster board, paper, ink jet printer, and an X-Acto knife. This was the biggest pain of all the decorations and took the longest because I had to cut out all those letters by hand. And if you can't tell, it says "Where anyone can be anything!" in the yellow strip... in cursive... and yes I cut those letters out too. Because I'm a glutton for punishment.

My character flag banners looked prettier in person. I tied strips of super glittery green tulle between each character square (purple, blue, and turquoise card stock backing) so it was nice and sparkly in the sunshine. 

A few of the borough posters I put up around the yard. Little Rodentia was meant to be a shady area  for the babies on the grass, but it was overtaken by the retirees drinking wine instead. Oh well!

Some details - The Fox Away silly string was our party favor, I made Zootopia license plates for each of our riding toys to go with the Emmitt Otterton game, and candy "night howler" lollipops I made with a flower mold and Wilton candy melts. I told all the kids if they eat them they go savage, and they very obediently went wild once they took a bite.

I made up a game where the kids had to find Emmitt Otterton by following clues and finding key witnesses around Zootopia/the backyard. There was no prize for this game, we all worked together to crack the case. And everyone got a popsicle.

Cadence was pretty stoked to find Emmitt at the asylum/bounce house.

Our other game was Parking Duty. Whoever put tickets (post-its) on the most cars during the song won a prize. I cut all the cars out of poster board and we taped them up all around the yard.

I asked Cadence what her favorite part of the party was and she said the games. This was the first year we actually played games, and since they came out of my own imagination I was pretty happy she enjoyed them. She's already decided she wants a Star Wars birthday party for next year, so I guess I have plenty of time to prepare. On the bright side I'm pretty sure I'll be able to buy decorations for that one!

Okay Max is rubbing his eyes and wailing "Maaahhhh!" so I'm desperately hoping he'll finally take a nap. I have already tried 3 times to get him down. Wish me luck!


4.28.2017

Pinterest perfect

I've got a birthday party brewin' for this weekend! Cadence wanted a Zootopia themed party because she's all about becoming a police officer when she grows up, mostly because they wear blue and she loves all things blue. I'm so hoping she eventually changes her mind, I do not need to be fearing for her life for the rest of mine!

Anyway, I was saying... Oh yeah, so it's pretty difficult to find Zootopia party supplies. There's absolutely ZILCH at Party City, and only a small selection on Amazon - plates and cups and a couple balloons, that sort of thing. But the party will be in my pretty sizable backyard which I had the brilliant plan to turn into the city of ZOOTOPIA! At least it seemed brilliant until I realized I would be making ALL of the decorations myself.

Me.

Lucky for me I'm unemployed and have nothing better to do than design and print and cut and craft intricate details for a 4 year old's party. 😑

I actually enjoy doing that sort of thing, when I can sit down and get in the zone and bust it all out in my own sweet time. But being at home with the kids crawling all over me while I'm wielding an Exact-o knife makes it a tad trickier. I think the moms who post their perfect, handcrafted children's parties on Pinterest must have nannies or housekeepers or both, or perhaps a deal with Satan because I seriously have no idea how a normal person can accomplish it. 

So yeah I've spent all of my free time this week doing paper crafts and making up Zootopia-themed games. Oh and I made candy for the first time ever. So you better believe I'm gonna be posting pictures of it all to my blog, because let's be honest, no one but me is going to appreciate (or probably even notice) how much work I put into this party, but at least maybe someone out there in the internet will take pity on me and drop a comment about how cute my Night Howler lollipops are! (Hint!) (No, I have no shame about fishing for compliments!) 

And if anyone's interested, I'll have some high quality, perfect, handcrafted Zootopia party supplies for sale in about 3 days. Or really just take them. I'll even pay for shipping. I'm going to cry when I have to throw it all away.

4.03.2017

Just some stuff

Yeah so I still haven't gotten my kids' schedule together. Sickness has been tearing through our home for the past few weeks and at this point I'm just like, screw it, we're not schedule people. As long I get the tykes outside for an hour a day and we all get away from home once a week we're good! I haven't started running again yet but I bought a new sports bra and athletic socks so I'm like halfway there, right?

In other news, Southern California has enjoyed some actual seasons this year, and for once I'm super excited that spring has arrived! Normally spring to me is just another 3 months of waiting for summer, because winter isn't usually much of a real season around here. But since we got all kinds of rain for a few months spring has signaled the end of soggy season and I for one am excited to see the sun again, even though it's not hot just yet. And I'm making plans! I just love making plans! Cadence's 4th birthday is approaching very quickly, only a month away now, so there's a birthday party to arrange and class cupcakes to bake. Easter should be fun too. I'm not real sure how to include Max in the festivities, but honestly he'll probably be content just watching his sister and cousins get all hopped up on sugar and run wild. We're also going to try to get to the beach to camp for a weekend toward the end of April. We took a drive to scout the local campgrounds yesterday and it was so beautiful out that we wound up playing at the beach for the afternoon. Hopefully next month will be as nice!

The job hunt continues. Sigh. I had a moment recently where I felt that I was actually getting pretty good at SAHM-hood, and like I could do it indefinitely... And now I kind of just want Hubs to find a job where he can make more money (he works at a big bank and has been applying for branch manager positions) and let me off the hook. But the reality is we are going into massive amounts of debt on one income and he hasn't gotten a huge promotion yet, so hunt I must. In the meantime I'm also doing some work for my dad, who owns a small business basically making probiotics for exotic fish ponds. There is some potential for me to partner up with him, and if I can help increase sales and clientele I may be able to make enough money just doing that. Which means mostly working from home, and honestly not a whole lot of actual work at that.

On a related note, I have a little rant about the job hunt. (For those with delicate sensibilities, beware of falling F-bombs.) What in the actual fuck is with employers these days? I swear I never in my dating life got ghosted by men the way I'm getting ghosted by hiring managers AFTER I interview. I've even been sending follow-up emails - tastefully and infrequently (like maybe 2 emails after each interview, 1 or 2 weeks apart) - thanking them for their time and asking what the status is on making a decision, and...crickets. So fucking rude! Now it's been 3 months since I had a great interview with the first employer, and 2 since the 2nd, and I still haven't gotten so much as a "thanks but no thanks" from either of them. This really pisses me off. I can't stand inconsiderate people, and this behavior is super inconsiderate. How hard is it to send an email saying, "We picked someone else, sucker."

Okay. I'm done now. Just had to get that off my chest!

2.28.2017

Best laid plans of mice

I've been doing some research about how to be a better SAHM. And by "research" I mean I googled it and read one article. But I think it had some pretty solid advice, and of course the first thing I should do is make a schedule. So I'm giving myself a week to get a preliminary schedule together. I started working on it yesterday and was not prepared for what a pain in the ass it already is. I figured I'd start with school days (MWF) since those mornings are already pretty much done, that way I only have to plan out afternoons. I have hit a few roadblocks though, specifically that Max's nap times conflict with Cadence's tired times, which leads to excessive screen time, which leads to tantrums when I suggest turning the screen off, which leads to mommy wanting to start drinking.

But hey I have all week to figure out how to make it work without becoming an alcoholic!

I did manage to decide that on Thursdays we'll get out and do something fun and different for the tykes. This week we're going to the zoo and I'm finally going to renew my membership so we can go whenever we feel like it and not break the bank. There are plenty of free outdoor things to do around here but since we're having such a wet winter I need to find some more free/cheap indoor things.

The other thing I want to start doing is to get back into running. I felt so much happier and physically better when I was running regularly, but like everything else lately it's so hard to make it part of my routine. I did run yesterday actually! I'd decided that taking a walk to the supermarket would be more fun than driving there, so I put on my running shoes, loaded the kids into the stroller, and set out! Everyone was having a pretty good time until Max got overwhelmed at the store and promptly began screaming almost as soon as we got there. I finished up as quickly as I could and then ran the whole way back home, pausing only to let the one jiggly front wheel straighten out every now and then. Yep, he cried the whole way. And if I'm ever dumb enough to try that again I'm definitely going to use the jogger instead of the Winnebago sit and stand stroller. But we made it out of the house, I got some exercise, and I have enough food for 3 more dinners. So all in all I'll call it a success. Meanwhile I'm planning to sign up for a 5K so I have something besides my baby's freak-outs to motivate me to keep running.

It's a start, right? I feel accomplished already!

2.23.2017

I suck at this

Okay so I'm just now figuring out how to moderate comments again. I'm so excited to have readers and that everyone didn't fall off the face of the Earth! Thank you!

Last week was another gnarly week of torrential rain and sickness here.  Cadence has been bringing home every virus that makes the rounds at preschool, and try as I might I have yet to prevent Max from catching everything she gets (with the blessed exception of the stomach bug she had a couple weeks ago). Bonus: he tends to stay sicker longer than she does, and although he's much better the past couple days than he was last week, we're currently on day 12 or 13 of this cold and cough and green mucusy gross-fest resulting in a fussy tired baby who somehow doesn't want to sleep. Oh and did I mention he's teething again too?


Now that the rain is on hiatus I've been making an effort to get out more though. Today we went to the library to check out some books and probably some new germs too. But at least I got to see the inside of a building other than my house. 

I seriously need to figure out how to be a better SAHM. Who knows when I'll land a job. I for sure thought I'd be gainfully employed by now, but since it hasn't happened I'm realizing it could still be a while and it's getting real hard to stay optimistic. Meanwhile I'm stuck inside most of the time with two sick kids and no money to spend on fun stuff even when they're well. And let's be honest, even at the best of times I'd prefer working at a nice desk job surrounded by adults and being intellectually stimulated than wiping butts and coloring and watching cartoons and arguing with a very dramatic 3 year old about why Girl Scout cookies aren't an acceptable breakfast item.

See, I'm good at being employed. I'm smart, I'm great with computers, and I'm a fantastic coworker. I even look for actual work to do when I have down time (usually). And when I'm employed I'm a better mom too. But man, I suck at being a SAHM. I just can't seem to get it together, to be organized enough so my kids are on a stimulating schedule that keeps them (and me) happy. I lose my patience a lot, like when my preschooler asks me over and over for something after I've told her no, and I absolutely lose my shit when that line of questioning eventually dissolves into (her) tears and cries for DADDY! As if he would be on her side, seriously. I'm exhausted by having to be "on" 24 hours a day. Max is on the move big time and of course puts everything in his mouth. He has blowouts like I never thought possible and barfs on the floor and then crawls through it on a daily basis. Did I mention he weighs over 25 pounds? It's a lot to pick him up and clean him off and he freaks whenever I change his clothes.

I am tired. I miss having coworkers and sitting at a desk and meeting deadlines and writing policies and business emails and taking the time to get the details right in training materials. And mostly I miss feeling like I was doing something I was good at and actually enjoyed.

I'm gonna put some serious thought into how I can be a happier and better SAHM. I need to get better at it.

1.13.2017

Last good-byes

This week was supposed to be a nothing-particularly-special type of week, except I was supposed to have a second interview for the job that's currently at the top of my list, but then some family shit hit the fan. My grandmother who was already on hospice had a stroke and started fading, so I quickly had to decide how and when I was going to make the 4 hour trek to see her for the last time. The Hubs couldn't get time off work so I packed a bag, took the baby, and got on the train first thing Tuesday morning.

I had low expectations for how Max would handle 8 hours on a train in one day, but he was amazing. He loved staring out the window and smiling at everyone who walked past our seats. He nursed and napped and hardly fussed at all. And when we got to my grandma's bedside he was perfectly content to chat with my mom and aunt and stare at himself in the mirror while the adults talked. The ride home was exhausting but again, he did great.

Grandma Kay was unconscious the whole time I was there, which I expected. But I believe she could hear us, and that she liked having her family there with her. She seemed peaceful. I spent a few minutes alone telling her that I loved her and would miss her and never forget her. I found out the next morning that she passed away in her sleep late that night.

There are some people who understandably have a hard time being around the dying, so much so that they can't bring themselves to visit and say good-bye. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Saying good-bye is usually more for you than it is for the person who is dying. When my grandfather was on hospice I never went to see him, even though I promised I would, and then one night he just died. I guess I thought I would have more time or there would somehow be more warning before he finally went. That still eats at me. So a few years later when my grandmother, his wife, was fading I made sure to see her and I'm so glad I did. The same goes for my Grandma Kay's death. I haven't been the best granddaughter as far as keeping in contact goes. And over the past 10 or 12 years she had Alzheimer's, so she didn't really even remember me the last time I saw her (over a year ago). So for me it was really important to go see her, even though it meant a long, exhausting day of traveling with a baby by myself.

It's sort of strangely fascinating to me to be around someone in their last hours. I find myself wondering what, if anything, is going through their mind. What they're feeling or if they're absorbing the present moment or lost in their memories. Or if they're dreaming just as if they were asleep. Both of my grandmothers were very peaceful in their last hours, so I don't think they were afraid, but who can really know? Of course we all find out one day what it's like, and I can only hope it's as peaceful for me as it has been for my loved ones.

Now all of my grandparents are gone. I'm not a believer anymore, so I'm not sold on the idea that they're all together in heaven. I like the idea of reincarnation, but I also sometimes feel like I get visits from them (and my mom swears she does). At any rate, I believe whatever has happened to their souls/life force/energy is as good as it ever can be. They were all wonderful people. And my Grandma Kay was a particularly sweet and special lady, who I loved and will never forget.

1.10.2017

In defense of the poncho

Does the poncho need defending? I'm not actually sure. I dress pretty conservatively, some might even call my wardrobe boring. I like to call it "classic" but I know I don't take many fashion risks. For example, I really like hats in theory, and I think they look good on me. But whenever I go out on a limb and actually wear one I feel like I'm trying too hard or something. For all I know the poncho might be the height of fashion right now, I pay so little attention to trends. But in my mind it's an inherently dorky fringe clothing item that is difficult to pull off at best.

Well. This year my MIL got my SIL, hopefully future SIL, and me our very own ponchos for Christmas. Mine looks like this:

A regal name for a most regal wearable blanket.

My first thought was, "Cool! I am totally going to wear this when we go camping, and on cool evenings in the backyard around the fire." But definitely not, "I am going to wear this out and about on the town!" Because, dude it's a poncho.

Is the poncho so bad?

I tried it on and OMG. Comfort level of 10. I put the giant hood on and felt simultaneously mysterious and comfy. Like a Star Wars character, but with zippers and seams. I've been wearing it around the house almost every day and it's like wearing a cozy fleece blanket that fits so very very fine. It's almost luxurious, the amount of fabric that envelopes me. And it provides the perfect amount of warmth when I need to run outside to the garage to do laundry in the evenings.

It turns out I love my poncho and I want the world to know! I mean, not enough to actually wear it outside in front of people, but like I will write about it here, and probably one day wear it to the movies. I think it's going to be the perfect movie theater accessory. And of course when we go camping, and in the backyard around the fire, and every single day when I'm at home.

Join me in the poncho revolution!

1.09.2017

Upside Right

I've started a little collection of the funny things my daughter spouts off. If you have little ones of your own, or even just know some little ones, I highly recommend making a collection too. Three is a great age for this because not only are they repeating everything they hear, but they're also butchering the language in unexpected and hilarious ways.

Here's a little taste of some of the things my daughter has said this year:

My nipples are shrinking!  They'll come back when I'm four and then they'll be THIS BIG!

No princess has brown eyes.

I think you're delicious.

Let's play hip stotch!

(With tears in eyes) But, my body wants to watch something! (on TV)

Me: Son of a...
Her: Beast!

One of my favorites of her new phrases is "upside right." Call me a terrible mother but I never correct her when she gets phrases like that and "hop scotch" wrong, frankly just because I think it's adorable. She has plenty of time to be corrected! Anyway I thought Upside Right was kinda fitting for this blog because after all those years of failing at TTC and after giving it all up (twice, kinda) we somehow wound up with our perfect little family anyway. Life certainly has a way of turning out completely different from what we plan, and in the end it usually ends up pretty good despite all the hardships we go through.

I still have no particular direction in mind for this space, but since my family-building days are behind me now I thought it was a good time to change things up a little.

**MISTY! Thank you for your comment! I can't find your blog in my reading list, can you remind me of the url please? Is it private? I would love you follow you again!