Friday, June 27, 2014

Almay's Newest Ambassador

*This is a sponsored post.  All words and opinions are 100% mine.

What do I think of when I think of Almay?  Almay conjures up images of sugarplums and dewdrops, of course!  I used their green eyeshadow as a bon bon (and then soldier, family scene girl, etc.) in “The Nutcracker.”  All of us 6-year-old girls would gather around all the moms backstage and line up, assembly line style, to get touch ups on our makeup. 

As an adult, I still use their products (love their oil-free makeup remover!).  So when they contacted me to ask me to share their newest ambassador/spokesperson, Carrie Underwood, I was happy to do so.   In the video below, Carrie (yes, we are on a first name basis now) talks about why she chose Almay:



I appreciate her message that, even though she feels better wearing makeup, no woman has to wear makeup to be beautiful.  And when you do wear makeup, you don’t have to go overboard. 

The tag line to Almay’s current campaign is “So simple, so me.”  I have always had a simplistic approach to my every day makeup - perhaps because I cake so much on when performing.  But I definitely think that is a message I would like to instill in my daughter: whatever makes you feel best is right.  Women don’t need makeup to be pretty, but sometimes it’s nice to enhance your natural beauty.  And if you feel good, you will emanate beauty no matter what.


What do you think of Carrie Underwood as Almay’s ambassador?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Dreaded "C" Word: Colic


It’s one of those words that all parents of newborns hope to not have to deal with: Colic.  Unfortunately, we are currently dealing with it in our house.  Starting around 3 weeks old, Malcolm’s “witching hour” became more like “he-devil hours.”  He would be fed, burped and changed, and just scream inconsolably from about 7pm until 10 or 11pm.  Just when we thought we had him calmed down, he would almost fall asleep and then something would stir within him and wake him back up again, screaming even louder than before.  His screams are so loud that you can’t even hear the person standing right next to you.  When I took Guinevere to the doctor for her two-year check up, I was able to ask about it to make sure there was nothing seriously wrong with him.  She said it sounds like colic.

What is colic, you ask?  Basically it is a term for any baby who cries uncontrollably for hours on end.  The classic definition is a baby who cries inconsolably for three hours a day, at least three days a week for three weeks.  No one really knows what causes it.  Some theories are that the baby may have gas issues, or that the baby’s nervous system isn’t quite developed or that the baby just gets so overwhelmed by all the stimulation during the day that the only way they can deal with it is to cry.  Regardless of the cause, it is ridiculously exhausting for the parents trying to deal with a colicky baby.  Trust me, five minutes of a baby screaming in your ear can feel like five hours! 

Apparently I was a colicky baby – I hereby apologize to my parents for having to deal with this.  I wonder if that’s the real reason my sister and I are five years apart – they needed that long to recover from/forget the colic (just kidding . . .sort of!).  If Guinevere had been colicky, we certainly would have spaced the kids out a little further.  The other night, a couple hours into one of Mal’s fuss-fests, I asked Aaron what the return policy was on babies!
           
Fortunately, our pediatrician was able to give us several tips to help us deal with a colicky baby.  She said she had a colicky baby, too, and she tried all of these tricks:
  1. -       Mylicon/Gripe Water: If there’s a gas component, we could try Mylicon and/or Gripe Water.  Based on the time of day that he typically gets fussy, she suggested using either or both of those to sandwich the 3-4pm feed. 
  2. -      Cutting dairy: She also suggested I try cutting dairy from my diet for two weeks to see if that helps as dairy in a breastfeeding mother’s diet may lead to babies being gassy. 
  3. -        Go for a drive: Since babies tend to fall asleep in the car seat, if necessary, strap the kid in the car seat and go for a drive around the block.
  4. -     Baby massage: The pediatrician emphasized the word “gentle” when she recommended baby massage, especially in the tummy region.  A component of this would be bicycling the baby’s legs to help ease any gas issues.
  5. -       Swing: Put the baby in a swing and set it to the highest setting – higher than you really think it should go, but it will calm the baby much more than if it were on a lower setting.
  6. -       Happiest Baby on the Block: She highly recommended watching the video that goes with the Happiest Baby on the Block book.  She said that it shows some techniques for holding the baby that aren’t necessarily instinctual.
  7. -       Patience: the final recommendation was patience.  Most babies outgrow colic by 3-4 months.  The pediatrician said, “I know that sounds like forever right now, but he will outgrow it and it won’t have any bearing on his future temperament.”  She also said if our patience wears thin during a scream fest, that it is ok to set the baby down in a safe place (i.e. bassinet, crib or swing) and leave the room for 5-10 minutes.  It’s better to have a sane parent than one that is on the brink of a meltdown.

Here’s what we’ve done so far: I’ve cut dairy from my diet.  It’s so hard, but if it helps, I will keep dairy out of my diet until the colic is gone.  If you know me, you know how difficult it is for me to not eat dairy.  I’ve often said that I could easily be vegetarian, but it is my love of cheese that keeps me from ever going vegan!  Aaron and I also watched the Happiest Baby video.  We received the video as a gift from some friends when I was pregnant with Guinevere, but never watched it because we didn’t need it.  I did, however, read the book and thought I remembered most of the over-arching ideas behind it.  I definitely recommend to anyone who has a fussy baby that they watch the video in addition to reading the book (or maybe instead of, if you don’t have time to read the book). We learned a new way to swaddle that was similar to, but slightly different than how we were doing it.  This new way seems to work much better than our previous technique for swaddling.  We also learned a new way to hold the baby, and the reasons behind why those techniques work. Aaron and I looked at each other and said, “I can’t believe we’re second time parents and watching a parenting video!”  But hey, every baby is different, and may require learning new techniques/skills/tricks!


So far, the combination of cutting dairy and using the Happiest Baby techniques seems to help most of the time, though certainly not always.  We are now usually able to calm him, even if only for a little bit, instead of having him scream relentlessly for hours on end.  Even though having a colicky baby is not ideal, we are dealing with it as best we can.  Please forgive me if you see me in the grocery store and I look completely disheveled and dazed.  I like to call it the “new parent zombie look.”  Someday I will look presentable again! (I can still be called a “new” parent when my second baby is new, right?)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Food Friday: 30 Minute Jambalaya



It’s been a long time since I’ve done a recipe post. I am happy to start back up recipe blogging with this deliciousness: 30 minute Jambalaya!  I modified this recipe from Robin Miller’s “Quick Fix Meals.”  It’s one of those books that claims to have a bunch of recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less – you know, the kind that actually take an hour or more the first time you make them.  Well, this recipe (once the prep work is done) actually does take only 30 minutes to make.  The prep work doesn’t take that long, but I would recommend prepping ahead if you are trying to make this on a weeknight with a toddler pulling on your apron. (Who am I kidding?  I don’t wear aprons!)  All kidding aside, I highly recommend this cook book – it has great tips for how to prep ahead for weeknight meals, as well as meal kit recipes and ideas for morphing one recipe into several different meals.  It's a great book for the working mom. (I'm sure it's great for stay at home moms, too.  They're just as strapped for time, but in a different way!)

Without further ado, here is the recipe as I made it:

Ingredients:
Jambalaya
1 cup rice
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can mild diced chile peppers
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts)
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp dried oregano
1 kielbasa type sausage
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves

1.     Cook rice
2.     Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, bell pepper, Chile peppers and garlic.  Cook about 3 minutes
3.     Add chicken, cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
4.     Add Cajun seasoning and oregano.  I don’t have Cajun seasoning, but I do have a Jamaican seasoning mix from Pampered Chef, so that’s what I used.  I was glad to finally have a recipe to use it in!
5.     Add sausage and shrimp, cook for 2 minutes.
6.     Add tomatoes and bay leaves, simmer about 3 minutes.

That’s it!  Serve the Jambalaya over rice and you’re done.  I received so many rave reviews from my family and friends about this recipe that I will definitely be adding it to my regular repertoire.  Most of the ingredients are things I tend to have around the house anyway – except the shrimp.  I’ll just have to remember to add it to my regular grocery list occasionally so that I can whip up this meal whenever I want.

For those who want the cost breakdown, here you go.  I’m using Amazon Fresh right now (because getting to the grocery store is ridiculously hard with a newborn), so the prices are probably a little higher than what I would pay at Ralphs.

1 cup rice
$0.30
2 tsp olive oil
$0.05
1/2 cup chopped onion
$0.30
1 green pepper, chopped
$1.00
2 cloves garlic, minced
$0.10
1 can mild diced chile peppers
$1.00
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts)
$3.00
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
$0.05
1 tsp dried oregano
$0.05
1 kielbasa type sausage
$3.40
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peled and deveined
$5.00
28 oz can diced tomatoes
$1.50
2 bay leaves
$0.05
$15.80
6 servings:
$2.63/serving

If you are interested in buying the cookbook I used, here is the Amazon affiliate link:


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Prenatal Fitness



Every pregnant woman is told from the beginning to stay active during pregnancy.  There are so many health benefits to having an active pregnancy: not gaining too much weight, less back pain, potentially easier labor, and easier recovery after birth. I can personally speak to the last benefit - it’s been 4 weeks since giving birth and I am now less than 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.  Obviously, not every woman who has an active pregnancy will lose all the baby weight immediately.  It’s definitely a combination of factors: genetics, diet before, during and after pregnancy, as well as staying active during pregnancy.  There’s nothing you can do about genetics, but there is plenty you can do about diet and exercise. 

While pregnant with Malcolm, I stayed as active as possible, I think I was even more active during this pregnancy than I was with Guinevere.  I danced up until third trimester and then did fitness videos at home when I had the time.  If you are interested in doing prenatal fitness videos at home, here are the ones I did:

*This is not a sponsored post; I just wanted to share the videos that I did as many people have asked about my method to staying fit during pregnancy.  However, I am using affiliate links to Amazon.

Shiva Rea Prenatal Yoga


Shiva Rea is apparently the “go-to” person for pre- and postnatal yoga.  This DVD has three women in various stages of pregnancy all practicing yoga together.  If you are first trimester, you follow Shiva.  If you are second trimester, you follow the woman who is also second trimester.  If you are third trimester, you follow the poor woman who was forced to wear a unitard in her third trimester and looks like she’s about to pop! (I guess “forced” isn’t really the right word – clearly she signed up for appearing in the video and voluntarily wore the unitard.  But I can just imagine the look of disappointment on her face when she showed up on set and the wardrobe department showed her what she would be wearing.)

If you already practice yoga regularly (or pilates or ballet or anything where you already have flexibility and good core strength), I would recommend waiting on this DVD until you are further along in your pregnancy unless you just want a relaxing yoga session.  The first couple times I did it, I found it too easy.  But believe me, by third trimester, suddenly things are way more challenging!

The running time of this DVD is 70 minutes, but you can cut out about 20 minutes of that if you skip the intro and the guided relaxation.  Some people love guided relaxation – I just often didn’t have time for it.

Special equipment needed: chair, yoga strap, block (though you can modify based on what you have available and you don’t need anything special for first trimester poses)

Knocked –Up Fitness Pre-Natal Pilates-Infused Fitness


I received this DVD as part of the swag bag from the Big City Moms Shower.  I was so excited to get a prenatal Pilates DVD!  No offense to my yoga loving friends, but every time I do Pilates, I am reminded how much more I like it than yoga.  I just wish Pilates classes were as cheap and ubiquitous as yoga classes!

Erica Ziel leads this DVD in what looks like her bungalow studio.  Some of the shots are a little awkward because the studio is fairly small, so they have to angle the camera in a weird way.  Due to the weird camera angles, if you are not already familiar with Pilates, it may take a couple times before you figure out the exact right form.

My favorite aspect of this DVD is that she breaks up the workout into 5 different sections and you can pick and choose based on your mood and/or amount of time that you have.  The sections are: 1) Core Warm-Up (this is the only section where you will need the balance ball), 2) Prenatal Fitcamp, 3) Pilates Arms, 4) Pilates Legs and 5) Total Body Pilates.  My favorite workouts were the Core Warm-Up and Total Body Pilates.

The one complaint about this DVD that I have is that she doesn’t really show any modifications based on how far along in the pregnancy you are.  There are a couple exercises that she does that are on her back, which is not good for pregnant women after 4 months.  Also, if you are not already in relatively decent shape, you may find this DVD difficult.  I didn’t get the DVD until I was already in third trimester, so I don’t know how it feels to someone without an extra 25 pounds strapped to their belly, but I am in pretty good shape and I found parts of the workout really hard!

Special equipment needed: exercise ball, set of 1-3 lb dumbells, resistance band (theraband style), chair.

Summer Sanders’ Prenatal Workout


Summer Sanders was an Olympic medalist and now she’s put out a DVD to help other moms stay in shape during pregnancy.  This DVD is a general fitness DVD – you get a little cardio, some strength training, and some stretching.  It’s led by Summer and her personal trainer, Keri Crockett.  They like to banter during the exercises and offer encouragement and tips on proper form.

There are three separate workouts based on which trimester you are in.  They also have a full-length version or express version of each workout, which is nice for those of us strapped for time.  I never did the first trimester workout, so I can’t comment on that one, but I loved the second trimester and third trimester workouts. 

Of all the DVDs that I did during my pregnancy, this one is my favorite!  I always came away from a session feeling like I had actually challenged myself.  I like that the trainer does everything with Summer and helps give corrections.  It almost feels like you are in on a semi-private workout session with a personal trainer. 

Special equipment needed: resistance cord, pillows, chair