Monday, September 22, 2014

Birchbox Beauty Review | August & September 2014

I really love being able to test and review new products before completely committing to them and by receiving a monthly Birchbox, I can do just that! I didn't do a review on last month's box, so I will just combine them both together in one post. I'd like to start doing these Birchbox reviews every month, so you'll be able to find them under both the "Birchbox" and "Reviews" labels! 

August Birchbox
Dr. Jart+ Dis-A-Pore Beauty Balm
I didn't find this product to be terribly special. Although it seemed to fill and conceal my pores, it didn't do a great job concealing otherwise. And the scent wasn't very pleasant - it smelled very medical.

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil
Lip color really isn't my cup of tea; I prefer to just use lip balm and be done with it. But this was a really fun product to try! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes lipstick or lip stain. It felt amazing on my lips, leaving a fresh and tingly feeling when I applied it. (I read up and it's infused with mint) 
It comes in 5 different shades: Coral, Hot Pink, Nude, Rose and Purple (which I received). I almost wish I had received it in Nude, because I'd probably wear it every day. And may I add that it was a nice surprise to receive a full-sized product in my Birchbox!

Neil George Shampoo & Conditioner
I'm not a fan of either product at all. The scent was too earthy for my liking and it just doesn't meet my hair's needs. Because my hair is very damage-prone with the amount I color and style it, only specific products work for me. This just didn't cut it. And I cannot begin to justify purchasing a 3.38 oz bottle of shampoo or conditioner for $9 as opposed to a 25 oz bottle for $5. 

Benefit Cosmetics Total Moisture Facial Cream
Oh. My. God. I love this stuff. Not only did it leave my skin feeling moisturized and nourished, but the scent made me feel relaxed and pampered. I love that the cream absorbs quickly, allowing you to apply make-up with no trouble afterward, yet keeps your skin moisturized all day. I think this would make a fantastic night cream as well!

September Birchbox

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum
As you can see, the sample was so small, I was only able to use this product twice and sparingly. I was not a fan of the scent, which smelled a bit like paint primer. My skin flaws are not near severe enough to justify purchasing a bottle for $80.

Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner
You can really feel this product work! Okay, it doesn't feel like someone is taking a vacuum to my pores, but is cooling and tingly after applying until the product dries. It goes on clear and dries white, so it's easy to see if you missed a spot. After a couple days of use, my pores are minimized. But for the price, I don't consider it worth purchasing.

JUARA Candlenut Body Creme
As someone with dry skin, I am very impressed by this product! It felt a bit thick during the application, so I expected it to leave behind a sticky residue. But it smoothed and spread out nicely on my skin and left a silky, velvety feeling behind. The scent was lovely and it is still strong, even several hours after application.

Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner
I constantly deal with the problem of my eyeliner smudging in the corners of my eyes, just around an hour after application. I did not have that issue with this product! It lasted all day and didn't smudge or smear. I also like that I don't have to sharpen it! And again, just like with the lip lube, it's awesome to receive a full-sized product! This is a $15 eyeliner I received for $10 including all these other samples and shipping. Win.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream
Although it is totally irrelevant, I was very drawn to the bottle's design; it is very feminine-looking and made me look forward to using it! Since it was not in a can, as your traditional shaving creams are, I knew it wouldn't foam. It came out as a rather thick cream, which thinned out and spread evenly when I applied it. It left my skin feeling so soft and smooth after the shave! Although the scent wasn't quite as fruity as I was hoping it would be, it still smelled nice. I'll also add; a little of this product goes a long way. You only need a small amount to cover your whole leg, whereas with foaming shaving cream, I feel like I need 3 to 4 times the amount. 

Chapstick Dual-Ended Hydration Lock Day & Night
I've been using this product for a few days night and I couldn't be happier with it! I mean how awesome is a dual-ended lip balm?! My lips are naturally very dry and crack a lot. So I have to apply lip balm several times a day and right before bed, to keep them hydrated. This product is exactly what I need and keeps me from having to use two types of lip balm every day. I love that the daytime balm has sunscreen and the nighttime balm is extra thick and long-lasting. 

So there you have it; a little slice of paradise for $10 a month! As the mom of an infant, these little boxes are like little treasures. It's like my post box is saying "Here you go! Now go pamper yourself!". So far, the boxes have contained things that I wouldn't have thought to look for on my own, and it's a real treat to test them out and find new products! Let me know if you're interested in trying Birchbox and I'll hook you up. ;)

Embracing the Chaos

Picture this: you've gotten 5 hours of sleep. Not too bad, considering there have been nights you've gotten only an hour of sleep, but you're tired nonetheless. (Welcome to parenthood!) You've just woken up for the morning, get your baby dressed and go out into the living room. On your baby's activity gym and play mat, you find several piles of dog crap. On the couch sits your husband, enjoying his day off with his eyes glued to the TV, playing Final Fantasy. He somehow didn't see all this poop. 
You put your baby down in his bouncy seat and clean up the poop, put the activity gym in the laundry and sanitize the play mat. Afterward, you go and pick up your baby to feed him and he smells of poop. You look at the bouncy seat and it is COVERED in his own poop, including the entire back of his shirt and pants. He proceeds to giggle at you. You ask your husband to hold up his son for a minute, while you cancel the already started load of laundry, to add the bouncy seat cover. 
You come back into the living room to see your husband isn't there - he is in the kitchen, throwing up in the sink while holding up his son, because he can't handle the odor of the diaper blowout. You strip your baby down completely, dispose of horrendous diaper and decide to just throw all of his dirty clothes in the wash at this point, while your husband cleans up his own mess.
After you've washed your baby, and put a new diaper and new clothes on him, you finally sit down to feed him. During which, he pulls off your glasses and they break.

I'm not making this up. It all happened before my morning coffee. And what did I do? I laughed. Yes, I laughed until my stomach hurt. It was all I could do! And I know, several years from now, I will still laugh about it, as I am right now. Sometimes, you just have to let it go and embrace the chaos. Because parenthood is loaded with it! ;D

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vincent's 6 Month Photo Shoot

We FINALLY got around to getting some professional photos taken for Vincent! I wanted to have some newborn photos taken, but due to lack of funds at the time or props to take them myself at home, it never happened. So we got some 6 month photos taken instead! I am so pleased with the way they turned out - I still can't believe our little Mr. is half a year old! <3

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Infant Must-Haves! (Newborn - 6 Months)

White Noise
I personally don't own a white noise machine, but I have an app on my iPod called "Sleep" (Red Hammer Software) which features many sounds, including white noise. Rain, thunder, crickets, chimes, name it. Even a fog horn! We use the "fan" sound religiously every single night. I've found I actually can't fall asleep myself without it! I have it plugged into my iHome on the dresser next to my bed.

Gripe Water
Oh. My. God. Lifesaver. Especially if you have a gassy or colicky baby. The particular one I have is called "Colic Calm", but I've heard great things about "Mommy's Bliss" and "Little Tummies" as well. It has all natural ingredients, so it can be administered often.

Baby Nail Clippers
These are super sharp and just the right size to clip those little baby nails. 

"Soothie" Pacifiers
They aren't the prettiest things in the world, I'll admit, but I am a huge fan of these. The shape is perfect, because of it's natural shape and the prevention of nipple confusion. I also like that they are one single piece, so there's no chance that the nipple can detach from the base of the pacifier. The fact that it's a single piece, also makes them much easier to boil and sanitize.

Portable Changing Station
The particular one I have is by SafeFit, but they all work just about the same. I particularly like this one, because it has a little spot to put a roll of diaper disposal bags, which are great to have when you're on the go and need to throw away a smelly diaper. It has two mesh pockets to store diapers and wipes, or even a change of clothes. It has an adjustable strap with a buckle, which allows you to carry it outside of the diaper bag.

"Huggies" Portable Wipe Dispenser
I discovered this at Walmart - I like it SO much better than plastic containers, because they don't let any air through, so the wipes stay fresh a lot longer. And it's refillable, so you don't have to keep buying small packs that fit in the diaper bag.

Boppy or Nursing Pillow
This is a must, especially if you're breastfeeding. It helps me sit in a more comfortable position while nursing and is also great for baby's to do tummy time on or sit in! 

Vincent loves his bouncer so much. He would sleep in it every night if I let him! The one we have is by "Bright Stars" and has a removable bar with a couple of toys that spin. There is a little vibration box at the bottom, but we never use it and I've never even gotten batteries for it. 

We have the "My Little Snuggabear" swing. I love it, because you can turn it in three different directions, so it swings back and forth or side to side. It also reclines into sort of a cradle position for sleeping. There is a little mirror and spinning mobile on the top, which Vince LOVES to stare at! It plays volume adjustable (surprisingly not annoying) daytime and nighttime appropriate music or forest sounds at the push of a button. The music and mobile turn themselves off automatically after about 20 minutes. The real seller is that you can PLUG IT IN so you aren't wasting batteries. But batteries are an option, in case there is no outlet available. 

Activity Gym
These come in all shapes and sizes and are made by several different brands. The one we have is by "Bright Stars" and was handed down by a friend. You can hang all sorts of toys from it and it's a great way to keep a baby entertained, while encouraging them to reach. My son also likes to do tummy time on it and reach for the toys that way, or sit in front of it and hold onto the bars.

Foam Floor Mat
If you have hardwood or tile floors, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing one of these! We've got tile, and let me just say, Vincent did tummy time one time on the floor without it and it ended in crying. I purchased this one on Walmart's online site and we love it. Vince has bonked his head several times on it and not a single tear was shed! And once your baby grows out of needing that protection, it can be taken apart and made into little blocks! Here is Vincent sitting on it and his activity gym is in the background:

Wrist Rattles
Vincent really loves noise, so he enjoys the sound of his wrist rattles. They are too big to be on his wrists now, so I put them around his legs. I can tell he likes the sound when he kicks his legs!

SwaddleMe or Kiddopotomus Blankets
A lot of people don't like these, but I personally prefer them over swaddling blankets! Vince is a squirmer and no matter how well I swaddle him in a receiving blanket, he always manages to get out of it, which wakes him up. He sleeps the most sound when I am able to swaddle his arms down in one of these. I recommend having about 3 handy, in case of blowouts.

Some people wouldn't justify spending 25 bucks on a swaddle and I was almost one of those people. I purchased it anyway and I regretted not buying one sooner! This thing is beyond awesome and it is impossible to escape from. It has a little snap at the top, which you close first, then zip it up. There are two zippers, which allows you to change a diaper or buckle baby in a swing, without having to take it off. They come in loads of different colors, designs and sizes! 

I purchased this once Vincent started rolling onto his tummy and I needed to transition him out of the swaddle. It is basically a swaddle with arms and legs. It prevents him from rubbing or scratching his face, all while allowing him to roll over safely and move his arms. 

Hooded Towels
These suckers are great! It keeps the baby's head warm, while you're able to wrap the rest of the baby's body up in the towel. They're also super soft on baby's sensitive skin.

Pack of Cloth Diapers
Although I don't cloth diaper, these things make EXCELLENT burp cloths! They are inexpensive and come in large packs, so you don't have to worry about running out and doing an emergency load of laundry. They are big enough to soak up a lot and I honestly have no worries about them getting dirty or stained since they're just plain white!

Vincent is a face scratcher. He will put his hands up on either side of his face and just drag his nails makes me cringe! I clip his nails as short as I can, but he still manages to scratch himself. (Which would bring me to the next item) You could use socks too, but I am definitely a fan of the mittens.

Baby Carrier
I have the Infantino Mei Tai and I love it. I recommend getting a carrier that cuts off right under the knees, since it is a lot better for the baby's hips. I wear Vince when I go to the grocery store, cook and clean. It really helps me get things done when he is fussy or wants to be held!

Breastmilk Storage Bags
If you're breastfeeding, these are great to have handy. I'd recommend to any breastfeeding mother to build up a supply for the freezer, just in case.

Mesh Feeders
These also encourage self-feeding and allow baby to chew on foods and develop a taste for them, without risk of choking. 

"Munchkin" Popsicle Makers
These are awesome for so many reasons! They are small and perfect for little hands and self-feeding. They also seem to really help my son with teething. You can make all sorts of popsicles with these; anything from breast milk to baby food!

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Vincent's 6 Month Update!

Height/Weight: According to our home scale and measuring tape, Vincent weighs 17.8 lbs and is still about 26 inches long! It's difficult to measure his length at home, so I'll update with a more accurate length after his 6 month checkup on the 10th!

Update 9/10/14: weight: 17lbs 5oz, length: 25.8 in and head circumference: 45.1cm
Doc said he is a little on the short side (29 percentile), but it is nothing to worry about, since he is gaining weight. 

Daily: We've still got the same daily routine as we did last month: wake up and have a feeding, then have tummy time, while I have breakfast and drink a cup of coffee. (Or two...or Vincent also enjoys sitting on his floor mat, while we play peek-a-boo or with his toys. When not on the play mat, we continue to rotate between the bouncy seat, jumparoo and high chair and I put him in his swing in our bedroom when I fold laundry. He has gotten a lot better at keeping himself entertained, which allows me to get a lot more done around the house! I've started pretty strictly putting him down for a nap every two hours during the day, which has been working out pretty well! In the evenings, around the time Mike gets home, Vincent either spends time with him or sits in his high chair in the kitchen while I cook dinner. He seems to enjoy watching me cook! During dinner, we all sit together at the table and Vince feeds himself baby food. :) After dinner, he sits in his high chair in the kitchen while I do dishes, which is another thing he enjoys! I name everything I wash in English while I wash it, then in German when I rinse it. His favorite is when I say "BIIIG PLATE!" After dishes, I give him a bath in the sink (although I admit I don't bathe him every single night), then take him into the bedroom to begin his night routine.
New amber teething necklace

Just like Daddy!
Hanging out with cousin Connor :)

Sleep: His bedtime is still between 8 and 9. After he has a bath, I begin the same night time routine that we've done for months now: lotion, diaper, pajamas and reading, followed by his last feeding, during which he usually falls asleep. I've also started taking him around the room after feeding, to say "goodnight" to everything in the room, so all his stuffed animals and finally Mike. :)
His sleep was really, really terrible for over a month and it finally started to get better a couple of weeks ago. He still wakes up a couple of times during the night, but goes right back to sleep. Towards the beginning of the month, I purchased a Zipadee-Zip, which is basically a Woombie with arms. It has been working great! It allows him to roll on his tummy safely, all while preventing him from rubbing his face and scratching himself. (He manages to scratch himself even immediately after I cut his nails!) He is still able to remove his pacifier, but is now able to put it back in. 
As I mentioned above, I've been strictly putting him down for naps every two hours, to prevent him from becoming overtired. It blows my mind how good, solid naps help him sleep better at night! You'd think if I kept him up all day, he'd sleep better at night, but actually, it's the opposite. If he has good naps, he has a better night. 

Eating: Eating has been a little strange this past month. He just doesn't seem all that hungry! I try to feed him and he gets distracted easily, trying to grab my face and the things around us, arching his back...the list goes on. I try to feed him every 2-3 hours, but sometimes, he just doesn't want to eat. I've noticed that when he does nurse, he drinks more milk in one sitting, which could be why he seems to want to nurse less often. I've read that this is part of a wonder week and he should go back to eating normally soon, so that could be it as well. The thing that worries me, is my supply dropping a bit, or so it seems at least. So I try to pump a couple of times a day, just to keep it up.
At night, I started giving Vincent a bottle of breast milk with a little bit of oatmeal in it, which I think is part of the reason he is sleeping better at night. 
In the evening, Vince eats a solids "popsicle", just like the breast milk ones I was making last month. We've found that he doesn't like to be spoon-fed at all! He prefers to feed himself and he likes the food frozen! It cracks me up! I've given him bits of chopped up or mushed food in his mesh feeder as well; so far avocado, zucchini and bananas. I'd like to purchase a little blender to start making my own baby food! I think it would be a lot of fun, so we will look into that in the next couple of weeks. 

Trying peas for the first time

Enjoying a carrot popsicle

Sizes: Vincent wears 6 and 6-9 month clothing now. I occasionally put him in 3-6 month clothing, if it's a larger fit, but not often. I was surprised to find that he fits in 6 month pants really well, since for quite a while, he wore smaller pants than he did shirts or onesies. His little shoes don't fit at all anymore!! :( They were newborn size, so I'm fully aware he'd grow out of them quickly, but it makes me sad! I'll be purchasing a larger pair soon and paint them. He is still in size 3 diapers and I can imagine he will be for at least another month - they still fit him just fine and we don't have blowouts very often. 

Milestones and Changes:
  • Vince can say: "Mama", "Dada", "Nana" and "Lala"! Usually longer though "Mamamama" or "Dadadada". He also makes the "th" sound and I've heard a "ga" here or there. I swear I hear him make a new sound every week! He has become very vocal. He also likes to yell, squeal and gasp. He will coo and gasp several times in a row when he gets really excited - it's quite entertaining!
  • Vincent went swimming for the first time on the 24th! He really liked being in the water and he was for quite a while, too! It was such a fun day and I look forward to taking him again before summer is over! 

Sucking in his gut! Hahaha

  • He can now sit up unassisted for 5-10 minutes! He has got pretty good balance and can look around and play with his toys without tipping over. Occasionally he will tip and I will gently push him back upright so he doesn't fall. He also sits up in his bouncy seat now!

  • Vincent rode in the "big boy" part of his stroller for the first time! He liked being able to see more things, but disliked not having me in sight the whole time.

  • He has tried several new foods: carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, mango, avocado and zucchini!
  • To add a quick chalkboard blooper: he LOVES pulling on things, including my hair and glasses!

  • Vincent nursed in the mei-tai carrier for the first time! It was a bit difficult and he latched in the wrong spot a couple times (OW!), but it worked! :D
  • He likes to stick his tongue out a LOT, which why the chalkboard photo is a little different this month. Every other photo, he was sticking out his tongue and looking at the ceiling! xD

I can hardly believe I gave birth to this little sir half a year ago! It's so incredible how time flies! The difference between his newborn and 6 month photos is so extreme - he looks like a completely different baby!

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