Friday, January 31, 2014

friday faves, vol. 7

the last Friday before returning to work next week! here's what i've been enjoying during my time off...

-- Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus protein shakes. the chocolate tastes just like a chocolate milkshake, and the vanilla version has a hint of nutmeg reminiscent of eggnog (a good thing in my book). they're the perfect sweet pick-me-up for the middle of the afternoon with staying power to quench the nursing-mama hunger! 

-- Scandal, starring Kerry Washington and created by Shonda Grimes (the master of drama behind Grey's Anatomy). i've never been too interested in politics, so when people would rave about this show i never thought i'd enjoy it. but one fateful afternoon, it popped up on the "Popular" list on Netflix and i decided to give it a go. and.... oh ... em ... gee. i can't stop watching it. not only are the storylines tight, fast-paced and intriguing, but the camera-work is fantastic and i want to own Olivia Pope's wardrobe. and her apartment.  

-- SoCo & ginger ale. what really boosts this to favorite status is the fact that, no, i do not generally drink Southern Comfort (i think the last time i had it was during my 19th birthday celebration while studying in Ireland. and that was taken as a shot, probably just after explaining to yet another Irish lad that while "birthday kisses" might in fact be the bona fide national custom, my heart belonged to a tall, handsome organist in Pittsburgh and a kiss on the cheek would have to suffice.) nine years later, Nick and i happen to have been gifted a bottle of SoCo, for the occasion of our daughter's birth, and by one of our absolute favorite parishioners, a diminutive Italian grandmother with jet-black hair, a fabulous collection of costume jewelry, and a flair for telling dirty jokes. everything about this is perfection. the drink is like a refreshing taste of summer, and it makes me happy that we have such stupendously colorful friends.

-- annnnnd last and nerdiest but not least ... the CME4Life board review DVD series. i purchased it last year but never quite got around to sitting down with it. so far i've finished the pharmacology review and am halfway through the gastrointestinal DVD. the information is fast-paced and tailored toward the recertification exam, which i need to pass by 2015 (but can take this year if i want). not only is it an excellent review on its own, but the mnemonics are fantastic (who knew that narcotics officers and cops could help one remember the phases of a cardiac action potential?). and his explanation of differentiating liver function test abnormalities caused by hepatic toxicity versus cholestasis (i.e. gallbladder problems) made far more sense to me than anything we learned in PA school. curling up in the recliner with my pen and notebook to review esophageal motility disorders while Greta naps? it's like scratching a brain-itch and it feels so good. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

two months

dear sweetest-of-all-the-peas,

you're sleeping in your bouncer right now, and as much as i'm cherishing the quiet, there's a part of me that misses you when you're in dreamland. how is it possible that you've been with us for two whole months already? and how is it possible that there was ever a time when i didn't know you?

you smile so much now -- at me when i get you out of your crib after a nap, at Daddy when he comes home from work, at the cats when they walk past you (and sometimes tickle you with their tails). every once in a great while, you let out the cutest squeaky laugh and then look surprised at yourself. you absolutely love having your diaper changed, which is weird and cute at the same time.

you've discovered your hands, and you like to wave your arms and kick (sometimes with glee, and sometimes because you're mad and not in the mood for a nap). you still love your pacifier especially when you're falling asleep, but sometimes now you'll suck on your hand instead -- you haven't quite figured out how to extricate your thumb. you also love to hold onto something when you're sleepy, either your "baby" (your sweetpea doll), your zebra toy, or the edge of your bib. sometimes you grab onto our fingers, one in each little fist, and it does feel so snuggly and safe like that.

next week, you'll start going to daycare (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday). so this week, we've started bumping back your bedtime so you and i will both be ready for the early mornings. last night you fell asleep on your own around 7:30 and didn't stir until Daddy woke you up around 10 so you could eat before i went to bed. let's do that again tonight! i have mixed feelings about you spending three days a week away from us, but overall, we think it's what's best for our family right now. i know you'll be in excellent hands as the majority of the caregivers in the infant room have been with the center for over twenty years. you'll bring home lots of germs, but hopefully you will also learn a lot and have fun socializing with the other babies. and i can pop in over my lunch break and snuggle you in the nursing lounge whenever i want.

i can't wait for your two-month check-up to see how much you've grown. you are definitely long and lean -- you still fit into some newborn onesies, but your legs are already too long for many of the 0-3 month size clothes. it's bittersweet to pack up the outfits that don't fit you any more. it seems like just yesterday you were so teeny-tiny, but of course, nothing makes us happier than to see you grow and thrive.

we love you so much!


Friday, January 24, 2014

friday faves, vol. 6 - makeup edition

since i've been on maternity leave for the past 8 weeks, friday doesn't come with quite the same sense of TGIFFFFFF!!!, but it's still friday. and deserves celebration. and there are always new favorites i'm discovering (or old ones that merit acclaim)! this week i'm focusing on my beauty must-haves. i'm sure there are better, pricier products out there, but for drugstore prices, and for my skin, this is where it's at.

--Aveda botanical kinetics toning mist. okay, this isn't a drugstore product and it costs $18 per bottle at my salon, but it's worth every penny (and a bottle lasts me about 9 months). i use this after washing my face and it has made a world of difference in evening out my combination skin. 

-- Neutrogena healthy skin SPF 15 moisturizer. the alpha-hydroxy is key to this moisturizer that truly sinks into the skin and leaves it feeling soft and refreshed. so many moisturizers i've tried in the past are either too heavy and pore-clogging, or too light and leave my skin flaking and tight within twenty minutes. this strikes the perfect balance. 

-- L'Oreal True Match Naturale mineral concealer. for some reason, i've never been able to find a liquid concealer that i like. my sub-par blending techniques are probably to blame, but those products (especially the concealer sticks!) seem to draw even more attention to my problem spots. not so with this mineral powder! i've used it for years. the only problem i have with it now is that my winter skin is a little too pale for my current bottle, so it's not as inconspicuous as i'd like, but still. 

-- L'Oreal Infallible eyeliner in Carbon Black. i've tried so many different eyeliners in the past, some of which were way too soft and smudged right off, and some of which were so hard that they hurt my eyelids when i was applying them. and i'm too scared to try liquid eyeliner, so i'm stuck with the pencils. well, this one glides on easily and stays on, plus it comes with a built-in smudger and sharpener. 

and the jury is still out on mascara. i've been using L'Oreal Million Lashes for the last several months, and i like the definition it gives my lashes but they still seem to be lacking in the volume department. i used CoverGirl's Lash Blast Fusion for a while which did make my eyelashes look thicker, but not as long as i'd like. i can't stand clumping, so most of the volumizing mascaras drive me nuts. the next time i need to buy mascara, i think i'll try Revlon's new Lash Potion. ah, the trials of being a girl! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

good reads

one of the great things about nursing is that it all adds up to several hours a day to snuggle Greta and ... catch up on Facebook, google my latest crazy mother question (recent searches include "is desitin cloth-diaper safe?" [no], "wonder weeks", and "nursing strikes" [just out of curiosity]), watch an ungodly number of Roseanne episodes, and READ. for the first few weeks after Greta was born, i did no reading whatsoever. it felt like an insurmountable task to focus on anything longer and more in depth than a Facebook status. but now that things have settled into a routine, my Kindle Fire and the Kindle app on my phone are my near constant companions! 

(full disclosure: the Kindle Fire has mostly been used for watching Scandal, my recently-discovered Netflix addiction. but i digress.)

so here's what i've enjoyed reading lately:

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. i absolutely could not put down Gone Girl by the same author, and while Sharp Objects wasn't quite as much of a page-turner, the twists and turns still kept me guessing. Flynn's character development and knack for just-the-right-amount-of-detail make reading delightful. 

Cherish the First Six Weeks, by Helen Moon. written by a nanny and baby sleep specialist, this book offers a six-week plan for structuring your baby's days and nights. the basic principles are very similar to what we've already been doing (as outlined in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg), but i appreciated how she broke down each week to correspond to baby's development. 

Defending Jacob, by William Landay. i loved this book. the plot-line is gripping, the characters are believable, and the courtroom scenes are so realistic that several times i felt like i was right back in the Allegheny County court house serving jury duty. the ending comes completely out of left field and made me want to re-read the book again as soon as i finished it.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, by Peggy Orenstein. an exceptionally well-researched expose of the "pinkification" of girls. she tackles the age-old question of nature or nurture, and provides a fascinating look into the world of marketing from Barbies to the Disney princesses to Bratz dolls (ugh). what i found most interesting was the research she did on the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales and how their violence and morbidity actually do resonate with children on a much deeper level than many of the pithy, vanilla books written today to encourage sharing, taking turns, and "being nice". i'm still mulling over this whole concept, but i do remember reading some of the original Grimm fairy tales as a six-year-old and absolutely loving the grisly eye-for-an-eye morality they espoused. 

Confessions of a Bad Teacher, by John Owens. this book would be hysterical and hugely entertaining if it was fiction. but as it depicts the truly broken public school system (at least in New York state), it's actually quite horrifying. nevertheless, the book provides hope that teachers with dedication, passion and ingenuity are doing remarkable things for our schoolchildren, even in the face of bureaucracy and micromanagement.