Mother Tested, Mother Approved: VERB

The maintenance of a young girl is never ending and the only reason why you know this is because you went through the same ordeal.  I remember having thick black hair with unmanageable thick ends when I was a kid.  My mom would sit me on a stool once a month and give me a bowl cut with uneven bangs.  It was her way of saving money because there were 2 girls at home whom she had to maintain appearance and cleanliness.  When I became a mother to my little daughter, I didn’t think my past traumatic experiences would come back to haunt me.  Luckily, it’s only hair that I need to tame.  And my daughter has A LOT of hair to tame with a European-mixed dad and Asian mom; her hair is everywhere!

Introducing VERB Leave-In Mist

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VERB Leave-In Mist (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

My daughter has had a few haircuts throughout her life where only a couple have been done by a professional (yes, her volition to cut her own hair is admirable yet terrifying).  A maintenance issue I would run into after her haircuts would be breaking through the tangles and knots.  I’ve tried every detangle spray, pomade, gel, shampoo, whatever (!) to help release the knots so I wouldn’t be dragging my daughter through hell once I started brushing.  Keep in mind- I would only use “baby approved” brands on her head because she’s a growing child.  I couldn’t justify buying expensive hair care products for her little head.  So, I found this little beauty on the Sephora website during my holiday online shopping spree.  This detangle spray came in a Verb style kit which included a travel size shampoo and conditioner and a full size dry shampoo and sea spray.  Verb is a professionally salon-raised, cruelty-free hair care brand based in Austin.  Most of the ingredients are all natural and don’t include parabens, phthalates and gluten.

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VERB Leave-In Mist (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

The Leave-In Mist is very lightweight and can be used to detangle, defrizz and condition unruly hair.  The product in this 8 fl oz bottle looks thick, but sprays into a fine mist through the nozzle.  There is a refreshing scent to the product and it doesn’t feel greasy on wet or damp hair.  I squirt this onto the ends of my daughter’s hair after a shower and leave it in for 5-10 minutes before I start brushing.  By the time her hair air dries, her locks look healthy and smooth for a couple of days.

The winning point for this detangle product is spraying it onto my daughter’s hair after her swimming lessons.  I give my daughter a quick shower after her lessons at the pool’s locker room.  Once I rinse out the chlorine, I use the travel size shampoo and Leave-In Mist to lather and condition her hair.  Sad to admit this, but this is the one thing I look forward to at her swim lessons.  My mom did the same thing with me and my sister when we were taking swimming lessons at our local YMCA.  We did a full shower and she would bring a detangle spray to rid out the knots and chlorine out of our hair.  It worked then and it works now.

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Her first at-home haircut with very uneven bangs and a mullet (2014 Instagram photo @elainedoesmakeup)

Overall, this is a mommy AND daughter approved product.  I don’t brush my hair and if I do, I just run my fingers through my ends.  After I shower, I spray this onto my ends and by morning, my hair looks and feels soft for the day.  I do have other products that are from the VERB brand, but this one is my favorite so far.

A Mother’s Job is Never Done

The East coast was impacted by a very aggressive winter blizzard that kept almost everyone indoors this past weekend.  Blizzard Jonas didn’t leave any trace of sympathy as as an average of 2 feet of snow was dumped throughout New Jersey where flooding was a big issue along the shore.  But this doesn’t stop a mom to doing her “motherly duties” while everyone is cooped indoors.

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Mid day play time during Blizzard Jonas (01/23) (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

Since Friday night, I’ve been cooking up a ton of meals to feed 3.5 mouths (eating for 2 here).  Now this may or may not seem like a lot, but this is definitely the most cooking I’ve done since first being unemployed back in 2011 where all I did was cook.  During the blizzard, I entertained my daughter with various indoor activities just to prevent a marathon of TV watching.  My husband occupied himself with non-stop computer games which sometimes didn’t end till 2 AM.  Meanwhile, I was cleaning and creating different dishes to cook using whatever I bought at my local supermarket and Costco.  I was non-stop in the kitchen working hard behind the stove satisfying everyone’s taste buds over the weekend.

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Standing on top of Mount Angelina (01/24) (husband’s LG G4 photo quality)

As I sat down at the table last night completely exhausted from cooking, cleaning and entertaining, I thought to myself, “Dang, is this what it’s like to be a stay at home mom full time?”  I’ve been a stay at home mom a couple of times (thanks unemployment), but those were periods of my daughter’s life where we just started pre-school and a half-day school routine.  It wasn’t as strenuous to take care of a 3 year olds needs back then compared to a 7 year olds needs currently.  Now there are mothers out there who’ve been stay at home moms since day 1.  My husband is a stay at home working dad who works for his family business in the comfort of his gym shorts.  His daily routine revolves around school (pick up/drop offs, activities, etc.), unexpected bumps and boo boos, and things along the nature of taking care of a 7 year old girl.  But I think I still fulfill the traditional role of “mom” with the cooking, cleaning and other “motherly duties”.  I don’t mind the cooking because that’s my passion, but my husband and I don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to cleaning.  And, with a girl at home, I’ll definitely be dealing with more female issues/questions when my daughter hits puberty (ugh, already not looking forward to that conversation).

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Hiked through 2 feet of snow to take a picture of the backyard post Blizzard Jonas (01/25) (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

Other words, this blizzard took a toll on my “motherly duties” while carrying baby #2 in my belly.  I did a lot more activity than normal and felt the repercussions once settling into bed.  It was satisfying to see my family be stuffed with all my dishes and the house looking better kempt since the holidays.  But man I was tired (!) after what my family did indoors and outdoors.  My back was aching, feet were swollen and arms were sore from helping to shovel, climbing up icy piles of snow to have my daughter sled, and slaying behind the stove.  That was just 3 days of being at home- imagine doing that every single day!  Yeah, I’ll wait for my time to hang up my “work in an office” pants before wearing my “stay at home mom” pants.

Mother Tested, Mother Approved: Human + Kind

Winter brings the harshest weather conditions when you live along the Northern East coast. Cycling through 4 seasons all year round really takes a toll on your skin if you don’t prep ahead.  I love testing different skincare and hair care products throughout the winter to maintain healthy looking skin.  Around the holiday season, Sephora has their Employee Appreciation and VIB (Rouge) sale where loyal consumers receive 10-20% discount on their purchases.  I went crazy in purchasing new skincare and hair care products to test against the cold weather and my pregnant changing body.

Introducing Human + Kind Body Butter & Body Oil

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Human + Kind Body Oil & Body Butter (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

I purchased these items from Sephora right before Christmas.  I was running out of my scented body moisturizer and needed an unscented body moisturizer that would relieve dry skin and reduce signs of stretch marks.  Both of these products work perfectly in conjunction with each other.  These 2 items from Human + Kind were featured on Sephora’s “Just Arrived” section and I couldn’t resist after reading the ingredients and price point.  Human + Kind is an all natural beauty product line that introduces effective, multi-tasking skin products without the use of harmful petrochemicals.

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Human + Kind Body Oil (iPhone 6+ phone quality)

The Body Oil is a 3-in-1 body oil that can be used on your face, body and hair.  After a steamy shower, I like to rub this all over my body specifically on my knees, elbows, inner thighs and developing stretch mark.  Side note: This item is comparable to Bio-Oil (in my opinion) which is a highly praised multi-purpose oil that reduces the appearance of stretch marks, scars and discoloration of the skin.  The oil isn’t thick, has a very subtle scent and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.  Once applied, my skin looks like I’ve been basking underneath the sun and my skin feels extra smooth for the next few days.

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Human + Kind Body Butter (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

The Body Oil works great on its own or with a moisturizer on top, but the accompanying Body Butter tops it all.  This body butter is a rich, whipped lotion that has aloe vera, shea butter and cocoa seed butter all in one tub.  Aloe vera is great during tanning season after toasting underneath the sun, shea butter helps soothe dry skin and cocoa butter reduces the appearance of stretch marks.  I used to purchase lotions with these ingredients individually when the weather would change.  Now, I can use this all year round.  It’s a thin whipped lotion that feels thick when applied, but thins out once you rub it into your skin whether dry or on top of the body oil.  There’s a slight scent coming from the 3 natural ingredients and my skin feels hydrated, moisturized and extra soft just like a baby’s bottom.

Overall, I’m really happy with these body care items.  I plan on trying out more of Human + Kind beauty products especially more skin and hair care.  You can find more items from this line by visiting their website, humanandkind.com.

Comfortably Pregnant

At 5 months pregnant and having gained a whopping 20 pounds so far, I’m feeling comfortable in my own skin but not in my clothes.  When I entered my second trimester, the thought of having to adjust my wardrobe to make space for my growing belly was daunting especially having done this 7 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong- maternity fashion is chic and adorable, but why does it have to be expensive?

PREGNANCY-STYLEDuring both pregnancies, one of my first purchases were maternity pants and bras (thanks for the advice Mom).  Since these clothing items are adjustable for the 2 areas of the body that show significant change throughout pregnancy, they are also the most expensive maternity items on the market (in my opinion).  Of course, your body changes throughout pregnancy and even post pregnancy.  But you can’t really walk out of the house without pants and a bra unless you live by different standards.  My jeans wouldn’t zip up all the way or button even while using a rubber band to attempt to close the top together.  And my bras- forget about it!  I switched to sports bras once my regular bras were becoming uncomfortable especially around my tender breasts.  Maternity pants are pretty simple to purchase since most run on a “small, medium, large” range.  But bras are a whole different ball game since most maternity bras are categorized as “nursing bras”.  Wait- I’m not nursing for another 4 months so what bra should I buy?  Luckily I did find solutions to my growing body concerns.

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Cake ‘Rock Candy’ Seamless Nursing Bra (from Nordstrom website)

A trip to my local Nordstrom had a very small selection of maternity bras (I mean, a disheveled end rack displaying 3 maternity brands) which made me feel doubtful, but hopeful to at least try one.  Luckily the only maternity bra I tried on in the store was the one I ended up purchasing on Amazon (horray for Prime delivery!).  Cake ‘Rock Candy’ Seamless Nursing Bra is a soft high-count lingerie that is wire free, adjustable with 6 hook and eye latches in the back, convertible straps, and comfortably supportive for nursing, day wear and sleeping.  It has removable foam cups and a double layer side sling for nursing purposes.  These bras come in multiple colors and styles where one style looks like a sports bra.  I can breathe in these bras and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I can grow with these bras surpassing the birth of baby #2.

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Liz Lange for Target Maternity Under the Belly Jeggings  (from Target website)

Maternity jeans come in different pant styles (just traditional styles prior to pregnancy), but the most important detail in choosing which jeans to buy is “under the belly” or “over the belly”.  During my first pregnancy, all of my jeans were over my belly, meaning there is a stretch fabric along the waist line that goes over the belly for support.  They were comfortable to wear, but the stretch material would leave me scratching my belly for hours nonstop.  For this pregnancy, I knew I didn’t want to buy this particular style again.  Lucky for me, my local Target was having a sale on Liz Lange for Target maternity jeans.  I tried the ones that were under the belly and were a perfect fit.  Whether jeggings, skinny jeans or bootcut, all I wanted to wear were jeans under the belly.  They stretched horizontally across the waist line rather than vertical over the belly.  The ONLY downside (in my experience so far) is that there’s no belt loops to keep your pants up.  For me, my growing belly means my waist naturally starts to shrink.  And that means I have a “crack kills” issue whenever bending over or squatting.

Overall, these are my favorite maternity wardrobe additions that I constantly circulate through the wash on a weekly basis.  I tend to not splurge on other items such as t-shirts or sweaters because I can always go a size up pre-pregnancy size.  For now, these have been making me feel like a happy camper being comfortable in both my skin and clothes.

Mother Tested, Mother Approved: Natural Nipple Butter

I wear multiple hats as a full time working mom.  I used to do beauty product reviews on my Youtube channel and lifestyle blog a few years ago.  I really enjoyed testing items and sharing my reviews.  I’m an avid believer of doing your research on cosmetic items.  So I decided to do weekly product reviews (fingers crossed that I keep this up) on this blog.  I will review items that I’ve tested on myself and helped me throughout my pregnancy.  From skin care, hair care and beauty products, I’ll share what has worked and hasn’t worked for me.  So let the drum roll start for my first product review of 2016:

Introducing Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter

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Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

At the beginning of my pregnancy, my breasts quickly became real tender, very sensitive and itchy.  My nipples became so itchy that it was so uncomfortable to wear my bras for a long extended period (ahem during work hours).  Before the holidays, I visited one of my cousin’s who recently gave birth to a healthy baby girl.  I shared my early pregnancy changes to her specifically my sensitive breasts.  Lo and behold, she had a solution to my issue.

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Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

My cousin used Earth Mama Natural Nipple Butter while nursing her first child.  She said a little goes a long way to moisturize the breast especially around the nipple before and after feeding.  She didn’t notice her son having any reaction to the nipple butter due to taste or scent (it’s all natural ingredients so it should be healthy, right?).  She had a spare, unopened tub sitting in her room and gladly gave it to me.  I tested this miracle cream right in front of her and the itchiness immediately went away.

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Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter (iPhone 6+ photo quality)
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Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter (iPhone 6+ photo quality)

This buttery balm is all natural that moisturizes chafing skin especially if nursing or for anyone who is suffering from dry, crack skin.  This little tub is only 2 fluid ounces, but you only need a little amount to cover the surface.  The listed natural, organic ingredients are safe for baby so there’s no need to wipe off any applied excess but that’s your choice.  Make sure to double check the ingredients in case you’re allergic.  There’s a subtle scent of cocoa and shea butter (duh- look at the ingredients) that’s slightly tasteful.  Plus this is lanolin free (lanolin, also called wool wax or wool grease, is an animal by-product wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals).  Depending on where you purchase this, the average price I saw ranged from $9-13 USD.  Overall, I would highly recommend this product to any first time moms or anyone who is dealing with sensitive, itchy breasts.  I’ve used different body butters to relieve my itchy nipples, but this product has beaten them all.

Let me know if you’ve used this during past pregnancies and if this worked for you.

Senses Kicked Into High Gear

I’m hitting the half way mark of my pregnancy this week and I feel like I’ve developed cat-like senses where I’m sensitive to all of my surroundings.  From waking up to water running through pipes to losing taste (and appetite) to my favorite dishes, my senses are all whacked out that I feel like an entirely different person.

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A growing belly can make sleeping straight through the night a tough battle.  Top that with a sick husband battling a massive headache and sore throat which causes him to make weird snoring noises.  Right after Christmas, I was having sleepless nights racking up 4-5 hours of Z’s before staying up til the sun would peak through my window.  I ended up sleeping in my daughter’s room for a couple of nights which she thought of as “sleepovers with mommy”.  I had my husband sleep on the couch one night before returning to work from holiday.  But alas, I could hear his terrible snoring noises 10 feet below me.  My husband is a night owl and likes to play his computer video games past midnight.  When he would come to bed, he would attempt to quietly get under the covers without waking me up.  But once he hit the pillow, my body would immediately wake up.  The comfort of having my sleeping buddy next to me was nice, but he would jump into dreamland within seconds.  His snores would be so loud that I would sometimes push him so he would wake up.  I’m surprised that I’m more sensitive to nighttime noises and movement over discomfort and constant tossing around to find a comfortable sleeping position.

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Oh man, my appetite has taken a toll since finding out I was pregnant.  I couldn’t keep down my favorite dishes (especially grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup on rainy days) without having to barf it up less than an hour later.  I would crave certain foods that I (luckily) had access to, but my urges would immediately disappear once that particular dish is purchased.  Whenever I was behind the stove cooking an amazing dish, the gratification and “fullness” feeling afterwards wouldn’t be fulfilling.  Surprisingly after all of this change in appetite, I was having terrible heartburn.  This was something SO unbearable that I thought my chest was going to pop out of me.  I would rub my breast bone in a downwards motion in hopes that my food would eventually reach my stomach.

That’s the beauty of pregnancy.  Take the “bad” (really, body changing symptoms due to pregnancy) with the “good” (results of a newborn child at the end of the road).

Happy New Year!

Greetings 2016!

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This past holiday season leading up to ringing in the new year has been a wild roller coaster ride of family packed gatherings.  I’m very grateful for all the support my family and friends have out poured onto my growing family.  Though we didn’t have plans to be social on New Years Eve (photo above is taken from my mom), I feel blessed for what I encountered in 2015 and look forward to what 2016 has in store for me.

Keep updated with my evolving pregnancy story as baby #2 makes his/her debut in 5 months!