lifestyle

Five Clean Skincare Staples for Moms

As a new mom, the last thing I think about in a day is myself. I forget to eat most days. I lose track of when I’ve showered (gross, I know). Dry shampoo is my best friend. I leave the house with no makeup and rocking loungewear. I’m sure all moms can relate.

These five clean skincare products make is easy and affordable for the busy mom to still take care of her skin – and if it’s all you manage to slather on in the AM (like me), you can feel confident running out the door with a naked face.

  1. Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream

Eye creams can get super expensive. The full size version (0.5 oz) is only $32.00 and will last you a lifetime. A little goes a long way. They also make this on-the-go mini tube for $25.00. I’ve been using this product for years and have tried many other eye creams. This one is my favorite because not only does it immediately brighten and add a glow to your dark bags under your eyes, but it contains actual caffeine from coffee to ~literally~ wake your eyes up. So, for all those days you feel like “I need to soak my eyes in steaming hot coffee” – this will do the trick without the irreparable burns. Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and verified Clean at Sephora. Also, the little glass jar can be re-used instead of tossed!

2. Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum

Like eye creams, serums can get expensive as well. This full size tube (1 oz) of vitamin C serum is only $28.00 and lasts a while – even with daily use. I love this serum because it is “clean” (made without parabens, BHT, synthetic dyes, phthalates, mineral oil & synthetic fragrances) and it stays on all day. Most days I only use my Origins eye cream and this serum and that’s it – no makeup. But at the end of the day when I wash my face, I can fee the serum is still there. It also has this iridescent shimmer/glow to it that instantly brightens your whole face. On top of the Vitamin C – it contains artichoke extract (minimizes pores) and hyaluronic acid.

3. First Aid Beauty 5 in 1 Face Cream SPF 30

I’m a big fan of First Aid Beauty and have been for a while. Their Ultra Repair Cream is my go-to moisturizer in all seasons. This 5 in 1 Face Cream takes everything I love about their Ultra Repair moisturizers and adds in sun protection, preventing wrinkles by filtering UVA/UVB rays with Zinc Oxide. For $40 you get a solid weapon against all the icky stuff that ages your skin. Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, recyclable packaging and verified Clean at Sephora.

4. Mad Hippie Hydrating Nutrient Mist

If you don’t know about Mad Hippie, they are a top natural skincare company that also focuses on conservation efforts. All Mad Hippie products are free of Parabens, synthetic fragrance, dyes, petrochemicals, PEGs, and SLS, and are cruelty free! I love this product because a full size spray bottle (4 oz) is only $20 and it’s fast to use while loading your skin with good stuff. I spritz some on in the morning and/or before bed, or throughout the day for a refresher (if I’m not wearing makeup). This spray is loaded with natural antioxidants and moisturizers such as milk thistle, resveratrol, green tea, white pine bark and pomegranate seed extract, to give your skin a fast and easy spritz of pure, healthy goodness.

5. Honest Beauty Makeup Remover Wipes

I’ve tried a bunch of makeup remover wipes and I, along with many women, always go back to the Neutrogena makeup remover wipes because nothing seems to work as well. I just recently tried these looking for a clean option for wipes and I was thoroughly impressed. They remove makeup and grime just as well as the Neutrogena wipes and come without all the nasty chemicals! They also smell ten times better and don’t run you extra money for the clean ingredients ($7 for a pack of 30). Free of parabens, silicones, synthetic fragrances and pthalates, and always cruelty-free.

Drop your favorite clean skincare products below!

Personal, Pregnancy

20 Weeks!

It’s absolutely nuts to think we are officially halfway through this pregnancy! I can’t necessarily say it’s flown by, since the first trimester felt like an endless drag of illness and survival mode. But I’m definitely not ready for the next 20 weeks to fly by either!

We still have so much to do. We are moving at the end of March, so the nursery can’t be started. We won’t know the gender until our reveal on Saturday, so we haven’t really bought much for baby. I feel like I still have a million books to read and a ton of learning to do before baby arrives. Not sure 20 weeks will be enough time…. But also, not sure I’ll ever be fully “ready” for such a big, new thing.

We are 7 weeks into the second trimester and I can tell you, the promises of the second trimester being the best are true. I feel great. I am still exercising (just swimming and walking for joints and labor prep). I have gained back the weight I lost with pneumonia and morning sickness and am the heaviest I’ve ever been – in the best way! For having a joint disorder, I’m doing pretty well keeping my dislocations and joint slips to a minimum. And my favorite perk yet – I can finally call myself a morning person! I have always been one to sleep heavy and deep; anywhere, any time. On weekends my husband and I would sleep til about 1 PM. I think baby is trying to prepare me for when he/she arrives, because I’ve been waking up early (around 5 AM) and getting a jumpstart to my day, which I’ve never been able to do. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing, often talks about the benefits of getting up early and jumping into the day. I finally see what she’s talking about! There’s something spectacular about giving yourself time to fully wake up, sip coffee, scroll instagram, read a magazine – write a blog post 😉 – get a headstart on your work for the day, do a little more with your hair and makeup sometimes. It helps me feel like I’m maintaining a little more control over my life in this moment of a lot of big new things coming at us. In addition to all the positives, I am feeling a little more difficulty with bending over, walking long periods and getting fatigued more easily.

One of the highlights of the past week I can’t fail to mention, is I am finally feeling baby move! I found out I have an anterior placenta (where the placenta is between baby and the front of your stomach instead of back towards the spine) which makes it more difficult to feel baby early on. Typically, they say you will feel baby move between 18-25 weeks, later if it’s your first. I felt baby move during the 19th week – and it wasn’t like anyone described. People and literature tell you it will feel like tiny gas bubbles or flutters. My first movement I felt was a massive somersault or flip that about knocked me out of my work chair. Since then, though, it HAS been a lot of flutters, bumps and kicks! After waiting month to month to check on baby with a heart doppler, it’s so nice to have reassurance throughout the day that baby is good and moving in there.

We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday – and let me tell you – my bump best friend was right. It was absolutely mind-blowing! For those who don’t know, for a normal pregnancy, you typically have an ultrasound around 8-10 weeks, and then await for another at 20 weeks which is the full anatomy scan. They look at all the little details of baby, including the lips, the fingers, the bones, the sex. Then they measure all the parts of baby. The 20 week is important if you skip genetic testing because they can see any deformities or complications with baby. They can see where your placenta is, check the placental insertion, see how baby is turned (which doesn’t really matter this early). Luckily, baby was looking great and our technician was able to see what the gender was, even with our baby moving around like CRAZY. I do have to go back to get more images of baby’s head, because baby’s head was so low and we couldn’t get he/she to move the head for different angles (even with jumping jacks!). It is mind-blowing to see this baby inside of you, moving, kicking, flapping its hands, and thinking – “I am growing this!” It was probably the first time I fully realized that I’m having a freaking baby! I also realized I shouldn’t have a Starbucks Pink Drink before an ultrasound because then baby won’t sit still.

Even though we had our 20 week ultrasound, Matt and I won’t know the gender until this Saturday when we have a small reveal get-together with some immediate friends and family. Matt and I chose to find out with everyone, but now we are regretting it seeing this little envelope with our baby’s gender sitting on the TV stand. It’s so hard not to open it! My best friend had her gender reveal last weekend and it made me so excited for ours! And I’m always feeling so excited, grateful and blessed that this baby, whatever gender, will have an amazing soul to grow up with.

I’m so excited to share baby M’s gender with you all come this weekend! Stay tuned!

Pregnancy

What I learned in my First Trimester

I’ve been debating if I should make one post on this topic or break this down into multiple posts, because there’s truly so much to talk about. Consider this post an over-arching summary of what I figured out along the way, but expect more posts to come getting into the nitty gritty details of it all! Let’s talk about the bigger things I discovered during my whirlwind first trimester of my first pregnancy:

Your Immune System Dies

I feel like this is one of those things that is assumed to be common knowledge that I was completely unaware of. (I’ve had a lot of moments like this so far). When you become pregnant, your immune system typically weakens which not only makes you more susceptible to illness, but prevents you from getting better like you normally would.

I experienced this first-hand when I got the flu in November. My PCP told me to just wait it out and I would be fine. I never got better. The flu turned into pneumonia when I was across the country after my doctor told me I was fine because I didn’t have a fever. I called them to tell them I was extremely ill and needed a prescription for some kind of antibiotic right away (this was two weeks later!). They fought me saying “you had a virus, we can’t give you antibiotics” – completely ignoring my new symptoms. By the time I got home to Illinois, the pneumonia had turned into the beginning of sepsis (where the infection spreads into the bloodstream which can cause organ failure and kill you quickly). I was then admitted to the hospital for three days, worked on recovery for about a week, and THEN – the pneumonia came back!

I have had the flu many times before in my life. I have never struggled recovering like I did here, and I have NEVER been so sick in my life. The entire sickness period lasted almost my entire first trimester. Invest in a stockpile of germex. Take it everywhere. Get your flu shot. Stay away from sniffly friends, family and co-workers. Don’t let them tell you “I’m fine, it’s just allergies.” Up your vitamin C. Don’t feel weird for wearing a medical mask on public transportation. Be selfish and protect yourself, and baby!

Early-detection pregnancy tests

When you’re actively trying to conceive, you want to know ASAP if it worked this cycle or not. I bought a few rounds of the early-detection pregnancy tests that claim to tell you 6 days before your missed period. None of them worked. I even tested the day before my missed period and they were negative. So – I went to a Halloween party and had a couple glasses of wine. Then my period never showed up! Turns out I was pregnant, but I had to wait for a couple days after my missed period for the positive results. If your early detection test is negative – wait and try again!

OBGYN appointments

The first few appointments I had with my OB – I felt like a total idiot. My first appointment, they did a full gyno exam and I was not aware that would be happening. That bothered me. I hate going to the gyno and need to mentally prepare for it, so when I walked in and they told me to strip it down – I was pissed! So, expect that! Also, nobody told me I need to show up to each OB appointment with a full bladder, because they test urine every time. (This might not be true for all doctors, but mine does). Also, when I had my early ultrasound at 8-9 weeks, I brought my husband. We were so anxious to see baby was okay since I had been so ill. I pictured the ultrasound as a usual tummy ultrasound. NOPE. Matt got to sit in the room while I had a vaginal ultrasound, which neither one of us expected! I feel like all of this is so routine for OB doctors that they forget to inform you what to expect at your appointments, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re like me and need to know what you’re walking into at all times.

Morning Sickness: When will it end?

When you first find out you’re pregnant, one of the first things many of us do is start ordering books, researching blogs, following podcasts, etc. All the reading and information out there says that your morning sickness will end by the second trimester. I was surprised to hear from so many women in my life that that wasn’t true. Many women have morning sickness well into the second trimester, or even throughout their entire pregnancy! Luckily, I was the rule and not the exception. I had morning sickness conveniently (or maybe inconveniently?) at the same time I was extremely ill, so I got it all over with at once! By about week 10 my morning sickness was calming down. By the second trimester, it was gone. Just know, every pregnancy is unique and you may experience ongoing morning sickness. So, I recommend finding out what works for you – whether it be ginger tea, nausea candies, sea-sickness wristbands, munching on crackers in bed before you get up in the morning, etc.

A lot of medicine is actually safe for pregnancy

Like many women, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I tried to jump off all my meds right away. I always thought that you should avoid taking any medicine while pregnant because, well, it’s just better that way. I went off my anxiety meds and stopped taking my daily Zyrtec and occasional Benadryl. I was totally on-board with this whole “natural pregnancy” train. Well, I quickly got over that when I landed in the hospital and got loaded up with antibiotics, Tylenol, Benadryl (because I was allergic to the antibiotics), etc. Throughout my time in the hospital and my ongoing care, I’ve learned that it’s actually okay to take certain medicines when you’re pregnant and baby will be just fine. Typically, all OB doctors have their “safe list” and will give you one at your first OB appointment. Getting over my fear of taking medicine while pregnant has helped a lot during this pregnancy. I still try to limit any medicine intake, even though the medicine I’m using is safe. But let my traumatic hospital stay help you – you’re not a bad mom-to-be if you pop some Tylenol or a Benadryl here and there.

Caffeine Clarification

Like the medicine situation above, I started tapering my caffeine intake when we decided to start TTC. Law school really put me into a bad relationship with caffeine – I was drinking probably 50-60 ounces a day on average. When I found out I was pregnant, I was down to about two drinks a day. I cut it out completely at this point and SUFFERED. I had a two-week withdrawal period where I was having daily migraines and could not keep my eyes open at my desk. I always just thought you can’t have caffeine when pregnant. Apparently, that is not true, and I really wish I had known that before I killed myself for two weeks! My OB actually told me, without me asking, that caffeine is okay as long as you’re not over-doing it. My further research has revealed that you should stay under 200 mg caffeine per day. So now, I get creative but still keep my intake low. For example, this morning I stopped at Casey’s and filled my coffee cup 2/3 decaf and topped it off with dark roast (lowest caffeine content). long story short – caffeine and coffee is actually okay (as long as your doctor says so for your specific pregnancy) – so don’t let anyone mom-shame you for needing a little boost!

The Great Pineapple Debate

Google will be your best – and worst – friend during the first trimester, and really, your entire pregnancy. I found myself constantly googling if everything was safe (and still do now that I’m in the second trimester!). There’s just so much to know, and it can feel overwhelming. What cheese is safe? Is it safe to go bowling? Is it safe to eat this? What about this? What about this?

One of my first cravings was for pineapple. One day, after stuffing my face with a ton of pineapple, I suddenly got the google urge and of course, a bunch of scary stories popped up claiming that pineapple can cause miscarriage. I researched this endlessly, because obviously I thought I had just done something terrible. Turns out, there are a lot of old wives tales that say pineapple isn’t safe, but there is no medical evidence to support that fact. I also heard Laura from the Big Fat Positive Podcast discuss this – she said she found that you’d have to eat like 7 pineapples in one sitting for anything to happen. The concern comes from a certain enzyme found primarily in the core of the pineapple which you don’t eat anyway. The enzyme, bromelain, is thought to contribute to cervical ripening, BUT, there is no evidence that supports the notion that pineapple is dangerous during pregnancy. As always, confirm with your own doctor.

What did you learn in your first trimester? Let me know below!

lifestyle, Personal

Half of my heart is in Atlanta…

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If you’ve been following along on my instagram, you probably know I recently had a brief visit to Atlanta to see my brother graduate basic training for the National Guard! Staying on an army base was a whole new world, but it was so much fun finally getting a glimpse into Mike’s life over the past several months. We were shown videos about what the new soldiers had gone through to graduate from basic, and we visited the massive infantry museum on base and learned about his potential future, as well as some of our country’s past.

It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got to witness him become an American Soldier. We are beyond proud of him, as I’m sure you know! After getting some much-needed quality time with Mike, he had to head back to his college, and we were left with an evening and one full day to explore Atlanta. It was my first time, so I had done some thorough research for the best spots (lots of thanks to PLIG aka Poor Little It Girl and her Atlanta Travel Guide).

One of the spots I knew I needed to check out was Ponce City Market.

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Outfit:

Identical White Beaded Tassel Earrings: Baublebar (40% off right now!)

Sheer Chiffon Smocked Off-the-Shoulder Top: $12 at F21 (40% off)!

AE High-Waisted jeans (All jeans are BOGO 50% off!)

Bracelet: Kate Spade Logo Cuff (found on Mercari and Poshmark!)

Similar brown peep-toe mule heels: ShoeMango or lulus ($35 or less!)

Ponce City Market is like a mini mall, with high-end shops like Madewell, Anthropologie and Lululemon, combined with a next-level food hall. I love shopping more than anyone, but the food hall is the highlight of the Market.

“At the heart of Ponce City Market, the Central Food Hall is becoming the most vibrant food hall and market in the Southeast. James Beard Award-winning chefs the likes of Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, and Sean Brock join Atlanta’s most exciting young purveyors and restauranteurs to offer everything from Georgia and Carolinas-caught seafood, to classic burgers, cold-pressed juice, house-made pasta and freshly milled heirloom grain bread.

Similar to the legendary food hall at Chelsea Market in Manhattan—also owned by the developers of Ponce City Market—the Central Food Hall is a culinary gathering place within a revamped historic space, but with the distinct character and flavors of Atlanta.” – poncecitymarket.com

The food hall features places like Batter Cookie Dough Counter, Farm to Ladle, Root Baking Co., Spiller Park Coffee and Pancake Social. Every spot has a fresh, conscious and modern feel.

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As if PCM didn’t sound cool enough, it also features a rooftop carnival. I’m not even joking. It’s a carnival, complete with a long row of carnival games and a full mini-golf course, on a rooftop overlooking the ATL skyline.

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The rooftop is kid-friendly unless it’s on the weekend after 5:00, because then it turns into a rooftop party! But no worries, alcohol is served all day 😉

One spot I KNEW I wasn’t leaving without going to was bartaco, because I had seen them all over social media as a must-hit spot. We don’t have bartaco up north, so we drove to the northeast side of ATL to test it out. And, my goodness, was it freakin DELISH.

I ordered their classic bartaco marg, and I’m not kidding you when I say, it was the best-tasting marg I’ve ever had (and I drink a lot of margs. I’m a marg connoisseur, if you will). Everything, including the marg, is SO. FRESH.

“bartaco is inspired by the beach culture of brazil, uruguay and southern california. we are upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. we are freshly-squeezed juices, specialty cocktails and beer out of a bottle. bartaco evokes a visit to a stylish beach resort and creates an unforgettable experience.” – bartaco.com

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I am all about good food, but adding a good atmosphere to that makes the food taste even better? It’s science.

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Absolutely, 100% hit them up while you’re in ATL. You will not regret it!

On my last note about food, (if you can’t tell, I’m all about food when I travel) we randomly ended up at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria because we saw they had gluten-free pizza. I will say this: my favorite pizza before being diagnosed with Celiac disease was Sbarro’s. I loved the thin, soft crust, the greasy cheese… Everything about it. This was the closest I’ve tasted to it since I went gluten-free. I nearly cried, it was so delicious. I am down for any pizza place that actually MAKES their crust instead of using a cardboard frozen gluten-free crust. If you’re looking for a family place downtown where you can also grab a beverage, hit up Max’s. Also, if it’s just adults, there is a kickass sports bar right next door. The easiest dinner and drinks set-up right in the heart of downtown ATL! Perfect for that first night in town when you’re settling in.

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Credit: @maxspizzaatl on instagram

I didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did with a basically 24 turnaround, but we soaked it up and I can’t wait to go back. Have you been? Drop a comment with your favorite spot in ATL!