Sunday, August 31, 2014

Georgia Girl--Piper's First UGA Game

I love this time of year. When Labor Day weekend rolls around, I start to get excited. It's football season again! My husband and I are huge football fans. We have Falcon's seasons tickets and I am a HUGE Georgia Bulldogs fan.

To me the Bulldogs are more than just a football team. They represent the two and half years that I spent in Athens as a student. I have so many good memories from my time spent there. I remember being at that first black out game against Auburn when the dogs ran out in those black jerseys for the first time in history--the whole stadium seemed to shake as if there was an earthquake. I also remember being at that next black out game against Alabama in which I left in the third quarter with tears of disappointment stinging my eyes. I remember the chills I always got on the back on my neck when I heard the trumpet solo at the beginning of every game. I remember putting my four fingers high in the air as the fourth quarter rolled around. I remember freezing my butt off in the misty rain during my last game in Sanford Stadium as Matt Stafford led us to a loss against Georgia Tech (which is unheard of). I remember going to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and chasing a heard of Georgia players into a restaurant because I thought I saw Knowshon Moreno--I also remember how I laughed at how many times we sacked Hawaii's quarterback in the Super Dome. I remember going to the Sugar Bowl in the Georgia Dome and watching in horror as we got spanked by West Virginia. I remember crying along with Aaron Murray as I watched us fall 5 yards short of the National Championship game two years ago as we lost to Alabama (again). I have so many good, bad, and ugly memories all rolled into one big red and black package that I am so thankful for.

More than that the Bulldogs represent a part of my past and childhood that I hold sacred. I spent every fall Saturday growing up watching the Dawgs with my Dad. I love watching the games with him--how happy he  is when they are winning. He taught me everything I know about football. I asked questions and he answered giving me examples from the plays that I was seeing. Georgia football was something that we did together. It never quite feels the same watching the games without him. It's just not as much fun. BUT--I live an hour away now, and it is not always easy to get together on a Saturday.

Last night my parents drove up to watch the Georgia home opener against Clemson. This was a particularly special game for me because it was the first Bulldog game in which Piper was alive. Even though she had no clue what was going on--I loved dressing her up in her Georgia tutu and onesie (with matching bow of course) and holding her in my lap as I shared the experience with her. My hope is that this will become something that we will share together one day.

To top it all off--my dawgs pulled out a huge impressive win over Clemson--after a slightly rocky start. We had a great time cheering them on, eating pizza and cookie cake, and watching Piper play on the floor. It was a perfect way to usher in the new football season, all of us together. I can't wait for many more Saturdays just like it. Maybe in a few years we will take Piper to a game at Sanford--and as I type this I get that familiar tingle in the back of my throat, and tears start to flood my eyes a bit. I know it's crazy--but I love my girl and I love my dawgs. The two of them together is just more than I can handle.

Till the next Saturday my friends, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS! Sic' Em! Woof, Woof, Woof

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wedding Makeup on a Budget

Check out this beautiful Bride! I had so much fun doin gher hair and makeup this morning for her big day. It really is such a priviledge to get to be a part of someone's wedding day. I take it very seriously that they have chosen me to make them look their best. Because I take this seriously I try to find the best products for my clients.

I love makeup—BUT it can be really expensive. When I became a makeup artist, I had to invest a pretty penny over many months to slowly build up my kit to include higher end items. I didn’t want to break the bank all at once—so it has been a slow process. Now that I have been working for a little over a year, I have built up enough of a portfolio to start applying for the major makeup brand’s Pro cards. These cards are for Makeup artist and other industry workers, and they carry pretty nice benefits—including discounts on makeup products.  I am so excited to be able to buy those high end products that will make my clients feel super pampered without having to invest half of what I made from that particular job. I mean--$50 for an eye shadow palette is a little ridiculous. It is especially so when you go through them as quickly as I do.

So in the meantime I have learned to pick and choose. While I do have a lot of higher end items—I have also found a lot of gems that get the job done for a lot less. They enable me to keep more of my money in my pocket for that dream home we are saving for.  Here are a few of my favorite drugstore makeup items.

NYX—I LOVE this brand. It is highly touted by makeup artists across the country as having a high end look for a bargain price. I wouldn’t really call it a drugstore brand—because most drug stores don’t carry it. But it is in the drugstore section of Ulta—so I think that counts. Here are my FAV NYX products
·         Eye shadow base in Skin Tone—I use this as an eye primer. I think it is comparable to the MAC paint pot. However, they do not have that many colors.
·         Lip Pencils—while they are not as creamy as the higher end brands—they get the job done, are highly pigmented, and last for hours and hours.
·         Baked Blush—I love the color pay off of these blushes—they are better than most drugstore brands.
·         Matte Lipsticks—they are creamy, yet matte. Many matte drugstore lipsticks look chalky—but these are A-MAZING. My favorite color is Pure Red. It’s intensely beautiful.
·          Mineral Foundation Stick—I use the darkest color they have to contour and the lightest color to high light. Then I just blend, blend, blend. They go on smooth and creamy and melt right into your skin with a dewy finish. I love them just as much as the Bobbi Brown foundation stick, and for a fraction of the price.
·         The Wonder Pencil—This thing is awesome and versatile. I use it to correct brows and high light around brows and inner corner of the eyes. It is great for covering blemishes and even lining lips for bold lip colors such as Reds and oxbloods.

Revlon—This brand is a true drugstore gem. I use several Revlon items each and every day (that I actually put on makeup that is). Many makeup artists use the 24 hr Revlon Colorstay as their main foundation. I use this foundation for weddings because it has great coverage and it stays put.  I also love their Colorstay Liquid Pen Eyeliner for making winged eyes on all my clients (and on myself). I like it better than the high end brands hands down! I cannot live without their lash glue which has a brush for easy application. Squeezing glue out of a tube is just not going to work in a pinch.

Maybelline—I love their eye brow pencils. LOVE them! I use them on each and every client. Even though I do have a discount with Anastasia Beverly Hills (easily the pro favorite for brow products), I haven’t invested in their pro brow palette yet because I am happy with these pencils.

ELF—Elf can be found at most targets and is a great brand. I love their mineralize primer, and their HD setting powder.

Salon Perfect—these lashes are the bomb. I get them at wal-mart and get so many compliments on them from my clients.

This look was achieved with the following products. They are separated by drugstore or high end

Drugstore—Revlon Colorstay Foundation, NYX Mineral Stick Foundation MSF09 for contouring, Salon Perfect Lashes Demi Whispies, Revlon precision Clear Lash Glue, Revlon Color Stay Liquid Pen in Blackest Black, NYX Baked Blush in Wanderlust, NYX Lip Pencil in Peekaboo Neutral, NYX Glam Lip gloss in Do the Hustle, NYX eye shadow base in Skin Tone, NYX eye liner in Black, Mabelline Brow pencil in medium brown.

High end—Benefit Erase Paste in Fair, Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer, Too Faced Lip Stick in Spice Spice Baby, Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, Bare Minerals illuminator in the Shining Moment, Urban Decay Naked 2 eye shadow Palette, Lorac Unzipped eye shadow palette, Buxom by Bare Minerals Mascara in Black, Lancome eye shadow in Trendy Intense.
P.S. I did the hair in this look as well J

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fighting the Darkness

In this post I will attempt to write coherently about the feelings that I have been having the last couple of weeks. This is not an easy topic, but I feel that there may be some other moms out there that are having these same feelings and who might benefit from reading my words. So here it is…

One thing that I never worried about when I was pregnant was post-partum depression. I was so in love with the baby inside my tummy and with the idea of being her mommy that I never considered for a second that I would have glimpses of depression. Since I gave birth and have been around a lot of other moms with young children, I have learned that depression can come in all shapes and sizes. It can be mild or full blown. It can be constant, or it can be recurring. However it comes, I have found that we all have moments where we fight the darkness. I truly believe that. I don’t consider the things I experience to be true depression, but I do see how that line starts to blur for some mommies. I consider depression to be a serious illness. I do not claim to understand it fully—or that I am experiencing it.

I planned carefully for P. I was strong in my philosophies. When she was born I controlled every second of her day into a finely tuned routine. She was a great baby. She slept when she was supposed to, and she ate when she was supposed to. THEN—she started to change. The new P doesn’t really eat…ANYTHING. She went from taking 30 ounces in 12 hours and sleeping through the night to taking 13-15 ounces and then waking a few times during the night. Some nights she eats and some she just screams. It was around this time that I felt the darkness creep in.

It was brought on by feelings of inadequacy. I felt and continue to feel  like a failure because I couldn’t figure out how to make her happy. I have tried everything and she just continues to take less and less milk. Her solid intake has increased but she still won’t take any veggies unless they are mixed with a lot of fruit. Her sleep became unpredictable and she became more and more demanding during the day.

Couple all of thee above with starting back to work and my husband going back to work and you have a strong cocktail for that darkness I am referring to. What I mean by darkness is this overwhelmed feeling and the feeling that I cannot control my mood or emotions. I feel overwhelmed a lot now. I get frustrated quickly. I am easily irritated and I get angry a lot. I don’t want to go out—take a shower—or take care of myself at times. I don’t want to do –anything, except sleep. I love to sleep. I have heard that this is a symptom of depression, however it is also a symptom of being a mother of a child under one.

I cry a lot more now than I did in the first days and weeks after P was born. When P slaps the spoon out of my hand for the millionth time sending pears flying—I feel the frustration build. Sometimes I have to walk away—I have to scream in the bathroom or into a pillow. I don’t know why but it just frustrates me so much. I have never been quick to anger. I have always been able to weather the storm calmly and rationally.
Feeling like you cannot control your moods or emotions is no laughing matter. It too can make you feel like a failure. You just feel out of whack and blah all the time.

Then there are the moments of clarity. When P is in a really good mood and she is giggling incessantly—I think about how lucky I am to have her. How I am her whole world and I have the chance to mold her into this really awesome person. Then I feel the happiness well up in my eyes. Highs and lows from one minute to the next. That is what motherhood has become for me—and for a lot of you I’d be willing to bet.

So what I want to say to myself and to all of you who have these same feelings is that you are not alone. You are not a bad mom for needing to scream in the shower or into a pillow. It does not mean that you love your child any less. It is just a left over side effect of your hormones or sleep deprivation. It is not what defines you.

What does define you are those amazing moments when you are the one that puts a smile on your baby’s face. When you make her/him giggle like crazy. When you walk into a room and they light up. That means you are doing something right. That little human—you made them. You will continue to make them—mold them—create them into a compassionate person. You deserve credit for that. It is not an easy job, and you are allowed to have a few blips and bumps along the way. We have to forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

I am learning to let go of the restlessness that I am feeling. I am learning to cut myself some slack, and to not measure myself up against all the other moms around me who seem to have it all together. I choose to believe that they lock themselves in the bathroom, eat cookie dough for breakfast, don’t shower for three days, etc.  

So, in conclusion, on days like today—when P has taken 5 ounces and a half a cup of yogurt by 12:00, and I pretty much know it will be another day of fighting for every ounce and then up every two hours at night—I am going to drink a big cup of hot coffee and eat my cookie dough with a smile knowing that somewhere out there, you are too! Cheers ladies!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 10 Baby Items You Probably Aren’t Using That Can Save Your Life (newborn edition)

When I was pregnant, I was bombarded with everyone’s recommendations of items that made their lives a while lot easier with a newborn. Many of them my hubs scoffed at. He said over and over, “it’s a waste of money. You will use in only a handful of times.” Some things he was rights about, but many of the things on this list were essential to helping me keep my sanity the first couple of weeks with baby P.

1.       Sound Machine
a.       I SWEAR by my sound machine and I know a whole boat load of Momma’s that do too. When we forget to turn it on—or take it with us—sleep is a no go. I prefer one that plugs in and has batteries for travel. I also got one that does not only work on a timer so that it plays all the time. P cannot and will not sleep soundly without it.
b.      I also found that it was extremely helpful in the first few days with helping P notice the difference between night and day. During the night time the sound machine stayed on all the time. When she woke at night to eat—I kept it on so that she would get the idea that that sound meant sleep. I am a huge believer and fan in the sound machine!

2.       Zip up sleepers
a.       Yeah the button ones are cute and the zipper ones are fewer and harder to find—BUT do yourself a favor and skip the button sleepers. They just aren’t practical at 2 am in the dark with a screaming newborn. JUST—trust me on this one.

3.       The swing
a.       I have heard a lot of mommy’s say that the swing is unnecessary. In my house, with my baby—it was a GODSEND. P napped a lot in the swing the first four months of her life. Our swing is pretty heavy duty and I LOVE IT! It can go side to side or front to back—and also vibrates. I also was insistent that we got one that plugged into the wall and didn’t just run on batteries. When home girl went postal—it was the only thing that would calm her down! Don’t skip it!

4.       A baby carrier
a.       In the first few weeks home from the hospital I was insistent that P get some skin to skin time, however I still needed to be able to walk around. Hence—the moby wrap. I loved this for when she was really small. I would wrap her up and she would sleep her whole two hour nap strapped to me. I was able to make breakfast, eat, and watch TV with her. I miss those days immensely now.
b.      Now that she is bigger I have switched to a sturdier baby carrier that is an Ergo knock off. I use it when we go somewhere and I don’t want to take the stroller. I used it a lot on our beach trip this summer to carry her to and from the beach. I have also taken my dog for a walk with her strapped in it. She loves it!

5.       The Belly Bandit
a.       It’s this great contraption that helps your uterus go back to its normal size faster while at the same time helping to shrink your waist and add extra support to those stretch out tummy muscles. I used mine for about a month after P was born and my stomach looked flatter than before I got pregnant. I also found that it really helped to add support to my core muscles in those first few days when they were still sore from pushing. I wore it night and day. I felt that it was a definite confidence booster for sure!

6.       The halo sleeper
a.       This thing in AMAZING. The first time I put P in one—she slept through the night. It is this straight jacket looking thing that keeps her swaddled despite her Houdini efforts. I used swaddle blankets for a few weeks, but IF I ever have another—they will go in one of these first thing!

7.       The crib
a.       A lot of parents co sleep in the first few weeks of their baby’s life. While, I believe that this is a personal choice and it is totally up to the family—I personally think that it leads to less sleep for everyone involved.
b.      I have heard that many breastfeeding mothers co-sleep because it is just easier in the middle of the night when you are exhausted. You just lift up your shirt and BAM. While, that is nice—I just couldn’t do it. I never slept a wink when P was in the bed with me. I was constantly worried that I would roll over on her, that she was too hot—you name it. So, P slept in her bed in her room from day one. AND—I still breastfed. Yeah I had to walk across the hall in the middle of the night, but it was fine. When I was in bed I slept well and I didn’t have to go through a rough transition with P and the crib later.

8.       A musical mobile
a.       I didn’t have a mobile the first couple of weeks of P’s life, but I wished for one a lot. It would have been helpful when first teaching her to fall asleep on her own. Now, I put her in bad and crank that sucker up and she knows it’s another symbol of sleep. She loves the song that it plays and when she is away from home I hum it to get her to calm down. It works! Don’t skip this gem.

9.       The Boppy
a.       Many breastfeeding moms say it’s not necessary, and while they are probably right—I LOVED my boppy pillow. I used it when P was nursing. I used it to prop her up when she was little. She used it for tummy time, and now I place it behind her for piece of mind when she is sitting up and playing. Eventhough, she is a great sitter—I worry that she will fall back hard. So I always put it slightly behind her for a safety net. It is also great when travelling as a travel pillow for you. I used mine to sleep in the car on the way to the beach. I will probably keep it for that purpose even when P no longer uses it.

10.   A Mommy Support Group

a.       This is number one underrated thing that you NEED as a mom. You NEED other women going through the same things that you are. You need someone who is going to make you feel better about the fact that you cried in the shower or screamed into a pillow. You need someone who is going to put your mind at ease. Someone that can say, “I’ve been there.” No one else will be able to do that for you. Do yourself a favor and find one of these groups. They are the best thing that you can do for your mental health.

What things could you not live without?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy 7 Months P!

Yet another month has come and gone. So many things with P have changed this past month.

August is a nightmare month in our household as both J and I start backt o work. The new school year always brings a ton of stress. Couple that with a baby that just wont eat or sleep anymore and you have a genuine powderkeg of emotions.

I have cried more this month than all other months of P’s life combined. Some tears were happy, some sad, but most were frustrated. Why did no one tell me that being a mom only gets harder in the first year? I found P A LOT more manageable when she was a newborn!

I will be the first to say that this job is the best job in the word, but at the same time the most challenging. Things are constantly changing. What worked one day will not work the next. You are constantly adapting your methods to fit your child’s needs. You questions and second guess how your every action will shape and form the way that she will be. When she cries because I took her toy that she just dropped on the nasty floor away, then I hastily wash it and hand it back because I can’t listen to it anymoreI worry that she will become a spoiled brat. When I loose me cool and raise my voice begging her to please be quiet-I worry that that voice will be the one that becomes her inner voice. One that is impatient and constantly criticizing.

I am learning to cut myself some slack and be patient with myself as much as I am with P. It is ok to lose it every once in awhile. It is ok to put her in the crib where she is safe and walk away because you just need to go put your head in a pillow and scream. It’s ok to cry in the shower. I don’t know a single mom that hasn’t done these things. And if you haven’tI don’t want to know about it.

It’s like letting go of the fairytale ideal of motherhood just like you learn to let go of the idea of prince charming and happily ever after. Things like perfect marriages that don’t take work and perfect children that never pitch a fitthey are myths. Striving for perfection and being restless with your life is exhausting. I struggle with it every day. Constantly  Wrestling with that picture in my head and with the vision from my childhood dreams. I am learning to let go, and to live in the here and now.

Nowon to the fun stuff. P has finally started consistently rolling over. She actually was sitting up independently before she was rolling over. Most babies do not do that. This tells me that she will do things on her own stubborn time frame. She may look like her daddybut she is all mommy when it comes to her personality.  I love this new independence that she has gained. Now--I dump out her toys in a big pile on the floor and she will go to town for a whole hour. She just sits there and plays while I work. It has been awesome for me these  few weeks of the school year.

She has started to go from a sitting position to falling forward onto her stomacheventually I know that she will fall onto all fours and start taking on the world in crawling motion. Then I will be in trouble. Working will become a challenge and she will start to spend more time in baby jai, hmm I mean the pack-n-play.

P has gained an all new love for music. She will smile, laugh, and dance when you put the wiggles on. It is quite entertaining for J and I as well. I hope that this love of music continues to grow with her. Maybe she will have a good singing voice, or want to play an instrument. I would be so proud!

We have finally kicked the swaddle! THANK GOD! I thought I was going to be swaddling her until she was five at the rate we were going. Butonce the rolling started happening in the crib. I stopped the swaddling out of fear, and P’s sleeping habits have not suffered.

Speaking of sleep, we are doing a little bit better in that department. If you remember, from months 2-6, P slept through the night. Thenshe started waking up several times a night. Sometimes up to 4 or 5 times. We were really struggling for about a month and a half. It seems to have leveled out recently. She is still not sleeping through the night every night, but she is doing it more consistently. BTWI consider 6 hours straight sleeping through the night. She usually goes down between 8-9, Wakes to eat somewhere between 1 and 3, then sleeps until I wake her at 7. I consider that a success compared to recent weeks.

Solids foods have gotten a lot better as well. It was like a switch went off and she suddenly started eating. It took about 4 weeks to really get her in a good rhythm. She will eat about 4 containers of solids a day. I tried making my own foodbut my little diva likes Gerber best. She will not eat any straight veggies, and prefers fruits most. She will, however, eat blends fairly well. Her favorite foods are Bananas (and any blend with bananas), pears, Pears with Zuchini and Corn, Peaches, Peaches with apple and Squash, and Peach and pear whole milk yogurt. I just bought a banana orange blend as well as a spinach raspberry greek yogurt blend that I have excited about trying.

She has also had a few finger foods here and there. I am still too scared to really give her much. She has had tomato, cheese, peas, and green beans. I am going to amp this up soon.

As far as milk goesit is becoming a daily struggle to get her to drink it. The ounce total just keeps dropping. I have had to cut pumpings because there is no room for all of the excess. As a resultI have a nasty case of mastitis at the moment. It is frustrating to say the least. I would not be concerned if she were sleeping better and eating more protein and dairy through solids. ALAS, she would not eat the chicken I have offered.

Overall, P is a happy baby girl. She is clearly in love with life, and we are in love with her. I started my Pinterest board for her first birthday yesterday and felt the pang of sadness. I can’t believe it is time to start thinking about such things. I am coming to grips with the whole only child thing, but I still feel sad about it a lot.

Happy 7 Month Birthday baby P! Mommy and Daddy love you more and mostest. The words to express that love are non-existent. We look forward to the new changes this month will bring us.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

When I am not JUST P's Mommy

Since I started this blog it has been pretty exclusively about my journey into motherhood with baby P. However, I do want to delve into my favorite hobby and part-time job—being a makeup artist.
I did not go to cosmetology school—and I am constantly looking to learn more, but I feel that I have made a good little niche for myself in the makeup world. I don’t have a booming business, but this is partly by design. I am happy with just a job or two a weekend so that I can focus mostly on my most important job—being P’s mommy.

I think that it is VITALLY important for a mom to have a creative outlet. Creativity keeps you in touch with your spirit. It keeps you sane when times are hard. It keeps you from becoming JUST someone’s mom. I have found with these weekly outings that I get time to just be Caroline. Not J’s wife and not P’s mommy. Just me. It’s refreshing and it keeps me happy.

I work a lot with one of my best friends in the whole world, Sarah of OWN Boudoir and Sarah Esther Photography. She has photographed me a million times. She did my engagement, wedding, and P’s newborn and 3 month photos. She is INSANELY talented and crazy fun to be around. She has given me a great opportunity to work with her boudoir clients on a weekly basis and I am so grateful that she has taken that chance on me. I hope that I make her proud.

The number one reason that I love working with Sarah is that we are able to make women feel beautiful. Each and every woman that walks into that studio has a story to tell. A lot of them are brides about to get married who want to give their groom an incredibly sexy gift on their wedding day. Some of these women are wives who want to spice up their love life. My favorites are the women that do this for themselves—they want to capture themselves at their very best. They want to feel beautiful inside and out. That is what we do for them. It makes me feel great about myself inside and out—and I hope it rubs off on them!

I’ve done a few weddings here and there and am dabbling into doing hairstyling (on a limited basis). I have a wedding coming up this month that I am super stoked about.

I operate mostly on word of mouth—it is crazy how the opportunities come in. I get calls and facebook messages from people who heard of me through a bride I worked with and it makes me smile. It  means that I have done a good job.

It is a great way to supplement my income while I am staying home with P. Although, that is not really why I do it. I do it to get away from it all for an afternoon and step into the fantasy of girly, pretty, and sexy things. I get to be that trendy well-manicured mommy that seems to have it all and a bag of chips—even if my life is SO not really that way.

My goal from here on out is to share more of this side of my life with each of you. AND maybe give you a few beauty tips and tricks here and there.

Happy Sunday everyone!