Motherhood… not for the weak hearted.

Mom guilt.

✖️

It’s inevitable. Motherhood often feels like a game of guilt management. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming and debilitating. Sometimes just a low simmer, but in some capacity, it’s always there… and there is never any shortage of fuel to feed the beast that leaves us with the general feeling of incompetency. Top it off with our carefully curated social media world, which not only affects our sense of success and magnifies our shortcomings, but also furnishes our children with an unprecedented brand of expectations, and BOOM – *cue the crippling anxiety*. 👋🏼

Being a mother is as hard as it is beautiful.

Sleep training, cry-it-out or coddle?

Breastfeed or *heaven forbid* the ‘F word’ formula?

Screen time at a restaurant to keep the kid from screaming bloody murder?

Looking at your phone while your child plays on the playground? (Cut it out with the Judgey McJudgerson looks over there, Karen.)

McDonald’s for the second day in a row?

… Around every corner, we will be faced with some sort of scrutiny or judgement. Someone who puts that false sense of doubt in our minds that we are doing it ALL wrong

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The majority of us are doing our best. And, that’s all our little ones need. Happy moms. Loving moms. Not always the Pinterest mom, the dedicated room mom (stop it, Donna. Just stop), or the perfect mom who has all her shit together all the time complete with matching monogram ascots (Spoiler alert: they don’t.)

Motherhood is not for the weak.

It’s watching their chubby little legs run fast down the sidewalk and seeing that they’re going to trip but not being able to get there fast enough.

It’s holding them and carrying them upstairs and then suddenly realizing that your arms can hardly sustain their weight anymore.

It’s dropping them off at school and watching them walk into the building and holding your breath — literally, holding your breath — watching them wave at you while they stumble along carrying a backpack that’s bigger than them until you see some kid say hello to them, and they don’t look back.

Currently for this mama, it’s days that consist of multiple tantrums, lots of sass, and the occasional target run when she manages to throw anything and everything she can get her hands on. BUT, I know her determination and that strong and stubborn will will truly take the world by storm one day.

It’s the promise of them finding their own way — the dream of them becoming who they already are — that isn’t for the faint of heart in the here and now.

I don’t think any of us realize how all-consuming this job is. I think it’s time we talk candidly about what the ‘books’ didn’t tell us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. So often these days we see this highlight reel on social media constantly on repeat as we scroll through Instagram depicting happy, well behaved, perfect children who eat their vegetables, never talk back, and don’t know the word ‘NO’. Hell, I’m guilty! That’s what the platform of social media has evolved into. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE seeing AND sharing those beautiful and perfect moments.

Is it everyday reality? Um, no.

Am I saying the everyday reality is unbearable and I want out? Not for a single second. EVER.

Maybe it comes down to the 2019 cliche notion of us comparing our bloopers to some stranger online’s highlight reel. Yeah… 2019 is making it unbelievably easy to compare every step of our journey to another’s. There is no RIGHT way to parent. YES, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I devoured any and all baby books preparing me for giving birth, parenting, and all the other sources that provide a false illusion that we actually know what the hell we’re doing. Hell, that’s enough to send you into a whirlwind of overwhelming WORRY & comparison!

Bottom line – there is no right or wrong way. You could have a PhD in psychology and still make a multitude of mistakes in raising your children.

At the end of the day, when this little sassafras looks over at me with that little mischievous grin & runs at me full force with a big hug and sloppy kiss… I see a happy kid. Fed, clothed, and above all, loved to the ends of the earth. She’s blissfully unaware of the weight on my shoulders that I carry everyday just trying to keep up. And she doesn’t need to. That’s the magic of childhood, and something I never want to take away from her.

Our job as mothers is to provide shoulders for our children to stand on and pray that they grow wings to outsoar us. The best gift is to watch them fly and hope they look back long enough to appreciate who and where they came from.

Mom guilt is a bitch. And, today… I’m telling it to eff off. I think there should be solidarity in the club for every parent who is trying to do the right thing and operating from a place of love, shouldn’t there? We’re all in this together, no matter the age or the stage. So… today, I’m tuning out that snarky inner-critic self talk. Today, I’m reminding myself to bask in those rare, ‘super mom, I totally have my shit together’ days, and just keep rolling with the punches, learning, loving, grinning and bearing those (‘That’s it, I’m changing my name and moving to Mexico) kinda days until I get it right – which I’m pretty certain, as a mom, I will never fully get there.

…and that’s okay. Maybe that’s just the universes driving force that propels us every morning to try harder, do better, and love bigger.

Also, wine. Wine helps, too.

Cheers, mamas! XO

Your Late 20’s: The Middle School of Life

Growing pains, without the braces.

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

– Office Space

It’s official. In the blink of an eye, I have approached my late 20’s. I can’t help but reflect on the past decade of discovery, transitions, decisions, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way (mostly the hard way).

Our generation does come with it’s own unique set of difficulties and challenges which require a fresh and innovative approach if they are to be overcome. Now, there are a million and one articles out there that will tell you how important it is to travel and see the world, to knuckle down on your dreams, and enjoy your youth before committing to a marriage or career that may not leave you fulfilled or happy, so, as much as I agree with all of that, I won’t bother you with it again.

Yes, everyone has their own journey, their own struggles, dreams, accomplishments, regrets, lessons learned, etc. However, this is my blog…

SO, here are a few of my personal meandering thoughts that I’ve come to consider enormously important to my own happiness and well being, and maybe, just maybe, might be imperative to yours as well.

1. Make more time for meaningful relationships. Be intentional with who you spend your time and energy on. Surround yourself with the people cheering you on, who fuel your passion, and inspire you to do and be better.

2. Learn to cook 1 meal. ONE. (Y’all, that’s a huge one for me… and one I’m certain I’ll put off until the eve of my 30th birthday.) Whatever. We can just skip that one. Carry on.

3. Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone, out of your shell and into the world. Safety nets are comforting, but will rarely get you where you want to be.

4. Get comfortable with saying no. Don’t want to go to that party? Stay home. Don’t want to leave your bed or put pants on that particular day? Say ‘screw the pants and bail’. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation. Give yourself permission to rest without feeling guilty about it. BUT, don’t get too comfortable. Balance is key.

5. Dance for no reason (when did we stop doing that?!). My 3 year old reminds me of this on a daily basis. They don’t care who’s watching, who’s judging, or even if there’s music.

6. Run a marathon. KIDDING. Just making sure you were still paying attention. However, if you’re into that kinda thing – you do you, boo.

6. Be more mindful of what and where you’re spending money. Shop small. Support a friend, a small family business, a local mom & pop shop. When you support a small business, you’re supporting someone’s dream.

7. Don’t feel rushed to have it all “figured out” (whatever that means). Keep it simple. One foot in front of the other. I’ve met many 20 somethin’s who have a set game plan in place (you GO, GLEN CO CO!), and I have met plenty of 40 & 50+ yr. olds still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It’s not a race.

8. Get to know your parents. Ask questions. I guarantee you, you’ll eventually want to. Do it while you have the chance. They’re growing older, too… and maybe they really did know what they were talking about when they warned you about that ‘bad boy’ back in high school.

9. Go to the movies alone. You don’t have to share your popcorn and you don’t have unnecessary commentary in your ear while you’re trying to pay attention to Ryan Gosling’s abs.

10. If anyone makes you feel self-conscious for posting selfies, keep taking more selfies because you won’t look this good in your 60’s. (Unless you’re Christie Brinkley… in which case, maybe slow down on the selfie game).

11. Leave any relationship, friendship, job, or situation that’s no longer serving you. The time fillers, the coffee dates that leave you feeling drained and uninspired. Drop it, boo. Time is precious. Just ask any mom.

12. Quit chasing after the people who have left you, cut you off or abandoned you. Start cherishing the ones who have stayed through it all. The only people you owe your loyalty to are the ones who have never made you questions theirs. You never have to chase what wants to stay. You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

13. Make amends. Friends, family, yourself. Let it go. Maybe not for their peace, but for yours. The more we declutter the weight of the past, the more room we create for the good stuff. And it’s all about the good stuff, right?

14. Focus more on being ‘happy’ rather than being ‘right’. Put that pride aside, hold on to your own truths, and let that be enough. I promise you’ll sleep better.

15. Learn to rest, not to quit. It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t stay there. Nothing is permanent. Keep going.

16. Stop handing out 3rd and 4th chances. Don’t waste your time on those who have showed you their true colors. Believe them when they show you, and move on. It’s not selfish, it’s self respect.

17. Chalk up all your struggles, disappointments, failures, and short comings as stepping stones to who you’re becoming. These set backs are not because you’re doing something wrong, it means you’re doing something right. It makes your sweet days of success that much sweeter knowing you fought to get where you’re at, and you didn’t give up.

18. Stop complaining. Count your blessings. The more goodness you acknowledge in your life, the more goodness the universe will throw your way. Remind yourself that someone out there would kill for what you have.

19. Drop the baggage. The grudges, the guilt, the mistakes. Remember what it taught you, but also remember the airline ‘excess baggage’ fee is not cheap. You’d be surprised at how liberating it can be to travel with just a carry on. 😉

20. Go after what you really want. Don’t wait for the right time. There isn’t one. There are 7 days in a week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them. The Universe is never going to put it’s hand on your shoulder and say, “Today is a good day to start.”

21. Be uninhibited with your life, but especially with your emotions. Start your search for whatever you’ve been looking for and do not settle until you know you’ve found it.

22. Fall back in love with your life by falling in love with yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Forgive your own mistakes, try to love all your wounds, stop blaming yourself for the things that didn’t work out, and learn to accept all your flaws. The love that you give to yourself is worth more than any love you could ever receive from other people.

23. Lastly, know when to unplug. Know when to put the phone down, stop reading nonsense advice from some hippie stranger on the internet, pour yourself a damn strong drink, and continue on being the badass you truly are.

“Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. Even while you wait for certain things to fall into place, may you never forget you are still free to thrive in this space; making the most of little things, making room for brand new things, fully living with all you have, even in your in betweens.”

-Morgan Harper Nichols

There you have it, folks.

It’s okay not to be ‘okay’…

I am a day late on shedding some light on World Mental Health Day, but perhaps that’s fitting… and perhaps it deserves more attention than one day. Procrastinating? Cancelling plans? (Guilty!) Wheels in your mind spinning, but getting nowhere? Any of that sound familiar?

I, myself, have suffered from my fair share of depression and crippling anxiety. Words that I never imagined I would put out into the world on display. I have a wonderful family, a daughter I still can’t believe is really mine, and an over all pretty beautiful life… so why would I ever want to shed light on the darkness the world doesn’t see?

It’s a weakness. The stigma. ‘Snap out of it’. ‘You’re just having a bad day.’ ‘You have a great life, why are you so bummed? There’s starving kids in Africa’.

Scientifically, no one needs a reason to be depressed. It’s a flaw in chemistry, not in character.

Imagine if you got blamed for having cancer. Or if your pancreas isn’t able to make the right amounts of insulin. The stigma that we should be ashamed if our brains aren’t able to make correct levels of serotonin is just… silly.

Though I didn’t plan on sharing this tid bit & putting my ‘crazy’ on parade for you all… I realized that would be contradicting the exact point I’m trying to make.

Shortly after Milana was born, December of 2016… postpartum in full swing. I was a mess. I remember the day like it was yesterday. The day of my husband’s company Christmas party. The days & weeks leading up, the postpartum was full blown.

I had heard a few things here and there about postpartum depression, but no one TALKS about it! I was too busy reading, researching, and gaining a false sense of security like anyone knows what the hell they’re doing while preparing to push a human life out of YOU! What to Expect When You’re Expecting… yes, you were a nice resource & I read you front to back. BUT nothing can compare you for what’s to come! Many days, I still don’t know what to EXPECT! (Except for that glass of wine at the end of the day!)

I was so worried about the pregnancy, the birth process… that I suppose at the time, everything that followed took a backseat. Not knowing what the hell you’re doing being sent home with a tiny little delicate human assuming & TRUSTING that maybe you’ve done a little research on that as well. The overwhelming lack of sleep being the next.

I’M A NEW MOM! Easiest birth in the history of child bearing, perfectly healthy baby girl. YES, I was on cloud 9! I truly had it ALL & felt complete. Fast forward a couple days, weeks, and failed attempts at breastfeeding & the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced (yes, worse than childbirth!)… it was a different story.

….the big whammy, the worst whammy, the most unexpected of them all – Postpartum Depression.

You would think that would have entered my mind at some point considering if you are & have ever struggled with depression and/or anxiety – you clearly have a higher risk for getting a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD. But, at first I shrugged it off as the ‘baby blues’. Let’s face it, you’ve got a lot of new challenges – and a lot less sleep. I assumed (and kept telling myself) that the emotional & crazy overwhelming feelings came with the package.

Ya know what’s worse than the downward spiral, the non stop river of tears? Not knowing WHY. Not having a reason WHY (at the time, and in my nativity thinking that I needed to supply or justify one). I remember how helpless it felt not being able to convey to my husband, my parents, friends, anyone… WHY.

Though I didn’t experience the extreme PPD that I had heard nightmares of, but… depression is depression. The stigma, the ‘hush hush’ & silence that surrounds it, and the feeling we have to validate how & why we’re feeling the way that we do… is well, BULLSHIT.

BUT, back to the day it all came to a head. As I was scavenging my closet for something to wear to my husband’s Christmas party… should be the jolliest time of the year, right? Don’t get me started on finding something to wear. That’s already a challenge to begin with – throw in a post baby body & the endless tears that I just COULDN’T. STOP. It seemed downright impossible.

Through the tears, I managed to half ass some makeup and put on a happy face. And, just like that… I DID! Danced the night away and put a happy face on! HA. KIDDING. That would be one helluva boring story…

I assured my husband I was fine and to go ahead, but followed it with the typical wife, new mom… ‘don’t linger, I need you!’

Fast forward 20 minutes. FULL. BLOWN. PANIC ATTACK. I’m no stranger to panic attacks & crippling anxiety. I experienced my first around the age of 16. But, this one… this was one for the books. I felt like I was drowning, like I was screaming for help, but no one could hear me. The world was spinning, and I couldn’t find the damn ‘off switch’. Except, this time I felt like I was dying. Ya heard me right. Dying.

Yes, I had experienced all of the lovely tricks on the mind that anxiety can play on you. This time the physical symptoms kicked in – BAD. Heart racing, mind spinning, blood pressure feeling like it’s about 500/200.

Long story, short (kinda/sorta)... I ended up in the Emergency Room. Experiencing such a crippling state of anxiety, the kind where you think you might just die right then and there. I did slightly weave into conversation that I had had a history of anxiety & depression. They ran all kinds of blood tests, monitored my blood pressure, and vitals…

Enter Doogie Howser. Explains to me everything is normal, blood panel is fine… (as he looks at me like I am batshit out of my mind crazy) and then continues with the most condescending question I had ever gotten from a medical ‘professional’.

“So, you ready to get outta here? These beds are for sick people.”

I was in SHOCK at what had just come out of this dudes mouth, like he had legit just received his certification online that day and I was his first lucky patient!

As I sit here and think about the big picture and the stigma, the silence, & the shame that surrounds the mental health world – we as a WHOLE need to cut that crap out! If you don’t understand it, that’s OKAY. However, it doesn’t mean it isn’t so. I encourage you to do your research, to allow yourself a little brain checkup from time to time without the shame, and to check on your strong friends, too. Who knows? Maybe the ones who appear to be the most put together need it the MOST.

To anyone who is silently struggling: You are incredible. Nothing is more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day. You make this world a little more wonderful, YOU got this, better things are coming your way, and you are NOT alone.

Staying a little younger a little longer…

Let’s talk about AGING. I know, yuck. But, it’s happening folks… and that’s something we can’t change. However, how we age and how fast we start showing it – we can change!

Is it just me or does it seem everywhere we look these days – a new product, some miracle ingredient or serum is being praised and coveted for its anti aging benefits? Raise your hand if you get so confused knowing which ones are really necessary and which ones are actually the RIGHT ones for you?! Well, unfortunately I can’t see a show of hands… BUT if you’re like me, I imagine you’re a little torn and overwhelmed over ALL the products on the market.

Which ones actually work?

Which ones are worth investing in?

We don’t all have the same skin type – which are the right products specific to mine?

There’s about a million of them that promise the same thing – to instantly deliver younger and more youthful looking skin… (here’s a Solution Tool that can also match you with the perfect products specifically for YOUR skin concerns!)

Maybe you’re in your 20’s or 30’s and you’re noticing the first wrinkle or two. Maybe you’ve been paying more attention to folks a bit older than you and either amazed at how young they still look and wanting to know their secret OR perhaps you’re noticing a woman who appears to be in her 40’s and has spent the past couple of decades basking in the sun lathered up with baby oil and in return she looks a couple decades older than she is. Then you find out you’re the same age… *cringe*

Thanks to the advances in the dermatology world… it is possible to correct sun damage, discoloration, and all of the aspects that contribute to our skin aging. However, it is much more difficult to correct than to PREVENT & protect before the years catch up with us!

Want to know the most important time to start preventing & protecting? *Drumroll*… your TWENTIES & THIRTIES!

Collagen & Elastin

Together, collagen and elastin keep connective tissue firm and help it to hold its shape. As your skin loses collagen, it loses elasticity and, on average, we lose about 1% of our collagen every year after the age of 20! Total BS, right?!

There are a few things we can actively do to stay young for a little bit longer. Every day we get a little bit older and that means our cells lose their youth too. But there is evidence out there, that biological aging can be slowed down or at some point even be reversed.

I’ve broken it down to the most important things we can do to slow down the aging process and correct any damage that’s already been done!

1. WASH THAT FACE, girl. EVERY night. Drunk, tired… do it! No excuses. Throughout the day the skin on your face is continually covered with bacteria, pollutants, viruses, dirt, and old (dead) skin cells. Daily facial washing removes these impurities. Without washing, your skin would be covered with a thick layer of dirt and grime which make it difficult for other products to penetrate the skin properly.

2. TONER. Many people are still unaware of what toner really is — and many people still have misconceptions as to its true purpose. Applying toner after washing your face shrinks pores, restores your skin’s pH balance, adds a layer of protection and close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin, help with moisture.

If you want to talk science, a toner is a fast-penetrating liquid that delivers skin a quick hit of hydration and helps remove some dead cells off the surface of the skin. The result: plump, glowy skin. On a makeup-related note, toner is like a primer for the rest of your skin-care routine like serums and moisturizer.

3. MOISTURIZE! Wrinkles or dehydrated skin? Your skin is craving moisture. This has been the #1 thing that well, a.) I thought was crap because I have oily skin and the last thing I needed was added hydration and b.) had such trouble finding the right one that wasn’t to heavy or made me extra oily. No thank you. Wrong. Dehydrated skin is the number one factor that will instantly age your skin and add to that dull, dry, and uneven complexion.

4. EXFOLIATE – don’t wait to exfoliate! Exfoliation is the removal of dry/dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and is one of the most important aspects of your home skincare routine. It also increases blood circulation, which in turn helps you to achieve healthy and glowing skin.

5. SPF, SPF, S P F…You most likely already know that consistently using sunscreen can help prevent premature wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (dark spots), and skin cancer. But a small 2016 study found that daily use of broad-spectrum sun protection may also visibly reverse existing sun damage, including rough texture lack of clarity, and hyperpigmentation. So, if you want to preserve (and maybe even improve) your beautiful self, use a sunscreenr moisturizer with SPF 30—no excuses—every day. Any questions?

…SO NOW THAT WE KNOW the basics when it comes to caring for your skin: cleanse, tone, moisturize, apply sunscreen… I have to let you in on one is my most favorite anti aging discoveries of ALL discoveries. VITAMIN A!

Amid so many possibilities (and products) to help your skin look its best, though, there are a few nutrients that skin really needs – vitamin A is one of them. What does it do and why is it so important? IT ENCOURAGES HEALTHY SKIN CELL PRODUCTION 🙌🏼 Retinal, retinol and retinoic acid are important to cell production and growth. Vitamin A also stimulates fibroblasts – the cells responsible for developing tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy – in the deep layers of your skin. Because vitamin A and carotenoids play such a big role in cell and tissue growth, not getting enough can lead to weakened skin, causing problems ranging from dryness to wounds that heal more slowly.

We keep hearing about this thing called micro-needling, right? It seems like every beauty magazine, article, editors, blogger, and bloggers are RAVING about it. So, what exactly is it? Some choose to shell out a lot of money with procedures at the dermatologists office, HOWEVER… in 2018 and all of it’s beauty – there is a nifty little beauty tool that can deliver those very same insane results in the comfort of your own home without even having to put pants on.

Count me in!

Oprah magazine has deemed the AmpMD system by Rodan & Fields the gold standard and THE best spent minute in the world of anti aging. The AmpMD system consists of a derma roller with over 200 tiny little needles that actually pierces the top layer of the dermis followed by the RetinalMD Intensive Renewing Serum – which is the most powerful form of Vitamin A you can get your hands on without a prescription. So many of the products we’re using simply sit on the surface of our skin without going any deeper and that’s why we don’t really notice those dramatic results these products promise to deliver.

If you only have ONE anti-aging product in your medicine cabinet, this would be it. This form of Vitamin A is powerful enough to increase cell turnover, boost elastin & collagen production, but also gentle enough for everyday use.

After following these skincare tips for a little over 6 months, I can’t believe the transformation my skin has undergone! I want to shout it from the rooftops, but for now I’ll start by sharing them with you! Below are a couple of my must have go to’s and products I absolutely swear by! (Click on image to purchase or read more info!)

Redefine Regimen by Rodan + Fields

Active Hydration Serum.

This is great for ALL skin types (yes, oily too!) It increases your skin’s hydration by 200% in your first use and actually helps balance oily skin and gives you that supermodel GlOW!

Microdermabrasion Paste.

It’s a sugar/salt scrub that removes the top layer of dead skin cells and leaves your face feeling like silk!

AmpMD System

Microderm Roller with RetinalMD (Vitamin A) Can you say GAME CHANGER?!

Well, there you have it ladies & gents… class dismissed!

A Letter to My Daughter on Her 2nd Birthday

My Sweet Milana,

TWO is quickly approaching. Sunday to be exact.

Each age, stage, and phase has brought us so much joy, a whole lotta laughter, definitely a few tears, sleep deprived stress, inevitable self doubt, and our fair share of challenges…. and a crazy kind of LOVE I didn’t even know existed in my wildest dreams. I wouldn’t trade one second of it.

Sure, your first birthday was filled with a lot of emotions, but it was mainly all happiness – I mean you not only turned one, but your dad and I survived our first year as parents.

But, two… two feels different.

Of course, in the moment – at the end of a VERY long day, I do a little victory dance. We survived another day. In the grand scheme of it all though – the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the long days that seem so long & so grueling that feel like an eternity… they’re not.

Do you want to know a secret? Even on the days when you’re most exhausting, an unruly toddler, when I feel as if I don’t have anything more to give, and I can’t wait until it’s time for you to go to bed – I miss you as soon as I put you down. Funny how that works, huh? You are my great love. My greatest source of chaos, and my greatest source of peace – one of the many conundrums I’ve come to accept as a parent. I can’t resist your smile and your laugh – even your silly fake crocodile tears!

Of course, even pre-child Jaclyn knew that time is fleeting and we’re not allotted as much as we’d like, but there’s something about watching you from the very beginning…. a tiny human who I felt move inside of me & witnessed growing from a little apricot, to the size of a pineapple – every week in my belly. “Babe, did you know all her organs are fully developed already?!”, I remember running in so excited to tell your dad. Reading about and feeling your growth with every passing week was magical. And, now growing leaps and bounds, learning, exploring… before my very eyes, everyday.

Suddenly, I’ve blinked (I should really quit doing that), and you’re a little girl – with enough SASS to run the world, SO much personality, a newfound sense of independence, my main source of entertainment & my biggest source of pure happiness. I could not be more proud of you – and at the same time with each new word and skill, I can’t help but also feel a twinge of sadness. (Comes with the territory, I suppose?)

I need a little longer. I need more time. I need more time to soak in all the goodness, even at times when the ‘goodness’ is grueling. What a wonderfully exhausting stage it’s been. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, for I know it won’t last and before I know it you will be three.

… and then we will experience a whole new phase of life. Together.

But, for now, I’ll enjoy you being not-yet-two. I’ll take the extra cuddles you’ve showered upon me this week, because in these moments it’s as if time is frozen when it’s most perfect.

I know one day down the road, you might be calling mom & dad up and thanking us for all the things we sacrificed and all the love we’ve given (I know I sure have – more times since you were born than possibly in my whole life!) BUT, I’ll tell ya right now… thank YOU. Thank you for teaching me patience. Thank you for reminding me to slow down and enjoy the little things… nature, rocks, sticks, flowers. Thank you for allowing me to see the beauty in this world that is too often chaotic, cruel, corrupt, and unfair. Thank you for showing me what life is and should be about. The little things. Perhaps, I had forgotten along the way. Thank you for being my sweet daily reminder.

Tomorrow we celebrate you. But, today… today, mama is a little blue – so, bear with me. I’m mourning the end of an era, but also embracing all the new and exciting things to come (doing my best, at least). I don’t want to miss a single second. I love you and cherish our sweet bond like no other.

You light up your Mommy & Daddy’s world like you wouldn’t believe.

You are forever my sunshine, little one.

Love,

Mommy

What the hell is ‘toner’?

Life happens.

No one will ever blame you for putting your career, kids, parents, happy hours, whatever before your skin-care regimen.

Before immersing myself in the world of skin care, let me paint ya a little picture…

At the age of 15, I started a job at a tanning salon *gasp*. Of course, now those two words make me cringe – however, at the time my eyes and brain didn’t see or think too much past Friday night. I looked sun kissed year round, made people wonder just which island I had been to that weekend, and c’mon… we can’t forget those little heart stickers we would put on to create that oh so beautiful, flirty, and natural tan line. *cue the cringe again*. Really, though… WHY? Whyyyy?!

BUT hey, business was a-boomin’. People young and old would pass through all day long – each one more leathery than the last. A big misconception at the time was that only young, irresponsible, and uniformed teens were the only ones ignorant enough to purchase a membership (yes, you heard me right… membership) to burn their sweet skin alive… Nope. It was mostly soccer moms, grandfathers, children who were BARELY legal to even use such a method of achieving that ‘sun kissed glow’, and well… me. 🙋🏼‍♀️

I’m sure many of these regulars were under the impression they were ‘turning back the clock’ in some warped and twisted line of thinking that a nice ‘fresh from spring break in Panama City’ tan would give people the illusion they took care of themselves and staying ‘young’. Gym: ✔️ George Hamilton Tan: ✔️, dental veneers so white you can’t look directly at them without those special solar eclipse glasses: ✔️

Did I mention these memberships were NOT cheap by a long shot? Many didn’t think twice about it… signing up for yearly and often a 24 month commitment. Although the establishment is no longer there (along with many others alike), I can’t help but think (and know – because at one time I was one of ’em!) a decade later, are STILL paying for it!

Luckily, I got some sense kicked into me long before I was one of those tennis moms dragging my bag, racket, and goggles to room #9.

THANK THE SWEET LAWD ABOVE 🙌🏼

However, many are living with the consequences. I’m sure the majority just accept their past mistakes and chalk it up to aging and ‘that’s just how my skin looks now at sixty’. Many (including yours truly) have used EVERY drugstore product known to man, have gone to dermatologists in a desperate attempt, and gone through countless prescriptions for topical creams that don’t deliver and even paid the ungodly cost (and risk – I’m sure they’ve pulled it from the market by now…) for Accutane.

Spoiler Alert: That was me. All of the above. 👆🏼

And I’m sure a select few (not the teenagers still ripping open grandma’s birthday card) have given into that $500 cream (which luckily I refrained from – mainly because the risk of overdrawing my already dwindling bank account) with the promise that they’ll wake up looking like Jane Fonda on the cover of Vogue.

For starters, we ALL know how ridiculously photoshopped & doctored those photos are. Second of all, can we all agree that Jane Fonda is a FREAK OF NATURE? She’s EIGHTY and is still a complete smoke show! EIGHTY. Not to mention the magical unicorn that is Christie Brinkley at SIXTY FOUR.

I am no expert, and will never claim to be, except if Milana asks – then I know everything, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a rather safe assumption that both of these majestic creatures started taking care of and investing in their skin in their… *drumroll* twenties & thirties!

OR perhaps, most within the 20-30 range don’t want to shell out much money when it comes to ‘investing’ in their skin. Me, again.

Disclaimer: I promise when I started these meandering ramblings on this topic, I really didn’t mean to make it about me. But, hey… shit happens, kind of like the fore mentioned human microwave known as the “tanning bed”. *cringe… again.*

Fast forward through many failed make up trends, skincare flops, bad haircuts, regretted tattoos, and a couple of lousy ex boyfriends later (that’s a story for another day)…

I’M TWENTY SIX. I GET IT!

I’m still reeling over the fact I no longer get a $5 bill in my birthday cards because apparently I am now a ‘grown up’ or whatever… like c’mon distant great aunt Hilda, my Hulu subscription isn’t going to pay itself.

I would be lying if I told you that skin care was on the top of my list in my early 20’s. A career, my husband, my parents, um… happy hour, and a closet full of clothes with the tags still on them took precedence over.. well, pretty much everything – and most definitely pricey skincare. No matter how many unbelievable results I saw – ‘That’s photoshopped’, ‘that’s a gimmick to try and take my happy hour & impulsive Target run fund right from under me’, ‘that girl was born with it’, blah, blah, blah…

Can you tell I’m an overall skeptic who enjoys vodka and retail? Sue me.

My early twenties came and went. A few happy hours, one husband, and a sweet baby girl later… it hit me. HOLY SHIZA MINELLI! LIFE CAN TAKE A TOLL ON THE FACE. Stress, motherhood, lack of sleep, quality of sleep (what a sweet memory that is), sun worshipping (guilty!), lifestyle, etc.

…And then the factors we can’t control come into play.

Time. Gravity. Genetics.

*those bitches*

Want to hear the good news?

I read something the other day and it clicked. While genetics do play a large role in how quickly you will age, recent research (what up 2018?!) has started to show that the habits you develop and choices you make throughout life might be even more telling than when and where mom and dad got their first wrinkles. Several factors, like the risk of discoloration, stretch marks, varicose veins and the level of skin sagging are all related to our genetic makeup. Just like your family risk for a medical condition, your skin also has a genetic predisposition. But the same way healthy lifestyle choices will reduce your risk for things like heart disease and diabetes, you also have control over how your skin ages. In fact, research has found that up to 40 percent of factors that age us are non-genetic. 40 percent!

We call the shots on FORTY PERCENT of how our skin ages!

I thought that was pretty damn awesome. So, it got me thinking, (and that’s a rarity these days) about how much mula I was willing to shell over for makeup, or all of the half ass drugstore products piled up underneath my sink, and the fact that – at best or if at all, it’s masking the problem underneath temporarily.

Makeup is only as good as the skin underneath.

Maybe that’s why we’re willing to fork over the money at Sephora. There’s nothing wrong with that. Lord knows I’m guilty.

BUT, what if we didn’t feel the need to mask our imperfections or conceal the fine lines, blemishes, and crows feet?

ENTER… RODAN + FIELDS!

I take care of my body, my nails, my hair. Crap… I had forgotten my skin. I thought, I’m twenty six, I’ll start a good eye cream & moisturizer when I need it, right?

Wrong.

Don’t we take preventive measures to lower our risk of heart disease, diabetes, or even worse – split ends and breakage?? Shouldn’t we think about protecting and preventing our skin from deteriorating? You can have the heart of a 20 year old, but if your dehydrated and dull skin are giving your age away, no ones going to ask to see your medical charts.

So, I started to love on my skin. Nourish it. Protect in. In ONE month of using a premium skincare routine that is scientifically customized for MY skin – in ONE month of taking a few extra minutes in the am and before bed, my skin has changed dramatically. I actually feel my skin’s youth and hydration returning – youth and hydration that I didn’t even realize I had lost in the first place.

Though I’ve always had combination skin, it’s more so on the oily side, so naturally I thought this meant I didn’t need to moisturize like someone would who had dry and flaky skin and could forego the hydration. Wrong again. HUGE misconception.

I have learned that hydration is KEY to anti aging! For ALL skin! Just check out the results from ONE week. UNO!

The regimens that Rodan & Fields have designed are specifically for your skin. Weather your concerns are acne, blemishes, sensitivity, sun damage, age spots, discoloration, etc. I didn’t have any of those specific concerns necessarily…

But, we’re all aging right?

I started using the Redefine regimen, along with the Active Hydration Serum, EYE CREAM (🙌🏼), and of course the added bonus that is Lash Boost. I feel awake again! I feel a healthy glow that I didn’t even know I was missing. Chasing after a nearly two-year old, that’s so HUGE.

I get the hype now. I didn’t want to (I enjoy being a skeptic asshole, what can I say?), but I get it. And thankfully was hit with that realization in my twenties when it’s most imperative.

I’m as much of a makeup junkie as the next girl, but recently I’ve discovered how DAMN GOOD it feels to have fun and play with my makeup! Not having to worry about masking every pore and hiding behind my foundation. Instead, I’ve been waking up with this GLOW! Not the sweaty, first trimester, head in the toilet kinda glow, but a healthy glow! I look forward to my makeup routine now – the products I use now are just there to enhance my features, not hide them.

I encourage you fellow ladies of all ages, but especially those in your twenties and thirties (and even those ladies heading off to college soon), to consider investing in your skin NOW. Summer is right around the corner and guess who won’t be sporting makeup to the beach? This mama!

Take this free skincare consultation that just takes just a couple of minutes to find the perfect regimen for you and your skin. It’s much cheaper than Botox & fillers later.

I promise you that, ladies.

Now – get G L O W I N G, my loves!

XO Jaclyn

Cheers to another year & another chance to get it right…

N E W Y E A R ✨

These are the days when we can’t help but stare at our lives and ourselves straight in the face, when we are forced to judge what we see honestly in order to gauge where we are, where we’re heading, and if where we’re heading is where we really want to go. This forced self-reflection augmented either by a post-Christmas overextension of family time, alcohol, or both, can very easily lead to a magnification of what we’ve decided are our most glaring shortcomings and a masking of what we too easily forget are our greatest strengths. It can be a time that drives us to vices of self-doubt, avoidance, and regret. But I don’t believe it has to be.

I think this time of year and the angsty reflection that comes with it – it can also be a chance to give ourselves a much needed pep-talk. A chance to remind ourselves what we loved about our lives and ourselves in 2017, and to be comfortable with all the imperfections therein.

This has been one of the most wonderful and fulfilling years of my life. It has also had its fair share of struggles and challenges. I have witnessed my baby grow and change a little bit everyday, and I turned around and she’s looking more and more like a little girl with each passing day – something wonderful and rewarding to experience and witness, also a tad heart wrenching that I can’t freeze time and the realization that sometimes you can’t recognize the importance of a moment before it passes you by. It’s been nearly 19 months and I’ve kept wondering when the wonderment of being her mother would wear off. And after all of the diapers, white noise, endless Mickey Mouse marathons, babbles, snuggles and something new learned every day, I’ve come to the conclusion that it never will. I won’t lie – this year felt both long and short, hard and effortless, like entering a foreign land, but also landing right at home where I was always supposed to be.

So, as we close the book on 2017, I hope you can honor the past year by celebrating your joys, mourning your losses, and shaking your head at the wonder of it all. Perfect doesn’t exist, but we do. As we are right now. Just for a moment, maybe we should let the future be just that. And the past too. Maybe we should think of the passing of another year not as a reminder that life is passing us by, but as a reminder that it isn’t.

Happy New Year from my crazy tribe to yours and cheers to you, 2018!

… because sometimes, ya gotta look ‘mom guilt’ in the face and tell it to EFF off.

‘Ello there,

So I’ve been neglecting this blog lately not by my own choosing, but due to the fact I now have a full blown teething, growth spurting, pint sized little dictiator on my hands. *Props to you mamas who can keep a clean house, a cooked meal on the table AND manage to consistently tend to a blog post.* I idolize you and think you’re kind of an asshole at the same time. I, however, am not that mom. Far from it.

Just when you think you have a proper schedule down, a babe who sleeps through the night, and you feel that after 18 months maybe a morsel of your sanity is slowly returning to where it once belonged.

P S Y C H . Reality swoops in to slap you in your overly confident and naive face. Reality has a way of doing that…

Between the growth spurts, what seems like endless teething, and the overall ‘Screw you, hippie. I’m gonna do what I want’ attitude in true toddler fashion… I have started to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I am downright powerless. Despite what the “experts” who have devoted their livelihood to the science behind toddlerhood say or the pediatrician who spends 10 minutes with you before moving on to the next hostage situation, or the lengthy articles that come with every desperate google search… sometimes you have to silence all the outsiders and do what’s right for you. Lately, I’ve realized that sometimes it’s okay to put down the parenting manual. It’s okay to veer from ‘the plan’. And when I say ‘plan’, I mean that false sense of confidence that you were ever in charge to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong – from day 1, I have acknowledged the importance of keeping a schedule and that babies crave routine and consistency. I have been the mom who has drilled the grandparents about bedtime routine, snacks to give, do’s and don’ts (like they haven’t done it before – but look how I turned out.) Consistency is key. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. I still believe it’s important, of course.. and if you’re one of those moms who has managed to keep a strict schedule, never turn on the tv, feed your child all organic, all while teaching your toddler Japanese – then bravo to you! You suck and you can move along now…

One day recently my toddler with her new sense of independence and defiance, said ‘screw you and your schedule. you’re in my world now, old lady.’ It’s been a rough few weeks for this mama. (can you tell?) Milana has seem to go from a helpless baby to an independent toddler overnight and we’re all having to adjust accordingly. There have been many napless days, fitful nights, and mid target run tantrums (it’s target for god sake… what are you whining about, kid!?) Turns out growing teeth is a real bitch. I’ve had my moments of frustration… moments of questioning if I’m doing the “right thing” as a parent. Throw it in the towel and give her a bottle to soothe her to sleep? Accept the fact that a nap is not likely today and save myself the stress of trying and load her up to take her to the swings? Rock her a little extra longer before bedtime instead of sticking to the strict routine that every book, expert, and doctor has drilled into every parent’s head? I have come to the conclusion that yes… yes, it’s okay to not always go by the book and stick to ‘the plan’.

These ‘experts’ I’ve been referring to will tell you to not give in. Don’t throw it in the towel. Don’t give up and bring the babe to your bed. Well, after all.. they are the experts and I’m just a clueless first time mom who’s just wingin’ it, BUT I have started to give myself some slack and put the guilt to bed. They say don’t interact with your toddler at nighttime when they won’t go the eff to sleep. Reinforce your dominance, mama!

Well, last night I gave in. Sue me. I would usually be kicking myself with mom guilt for doing what’s “easiest”, but not last night. Last night, I brought her to bed with us. We cuddled, we babbled, we laughed hysterically (probably due to the fact that all three of us are deliriously tired!). She wasn’t distracted by a toy or a book (or the occasional electric outlet). We had her all to ourselves. Just the three of us. Our own little world where I can’t help but venture to that dreadful place in my mind that tells me ‘this isn’t going to last forever – hold on as tight as you can.’

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those “last times”. The last time I was able to swaddle her up like a little mummy, the last time I gave her puréed sweet potatoes or the last time I watched her nap in her baby swing (what a blessed affair that was 🙌🏼). I don’t want those moments and ‘last times’ to pass me by because I’m so busy trying to do everything right. Whatever the hell the “right” thing is.

Now, before I get crucified by the crunchy moms out there, I’m not saying to throw your schedule out the door, let your tot take charge and hold on for dear life. I’m saying it’s okay to improvise and not always go by the book and to not beat yourself with mom guilt because of it. It’s okay to do your best, give it your all, and when that fails – to give yourself a pass, to leave room for those unexpected sweet moments in bed at midnight, even when it goes against all of your parental instincts. Leave room for those rare, bittersweet moments when you look at a loved one and are struck with the realization that your time together is finite and therefore precious beyond measure.

I cannot get this day back. She won’t always cry when I leave the room, she won’t always wake at night for extra mama or daddy cuddles, I won’t always have to carry you in asleep from the car. I want to hold on this wonderfully exhausting stage and take it all in before it passes me by… and not feel guilty about it.

So until then, eff off mom guilt. The dishes can sit in the sink a little longer, the laundry can pile up, the cleaning and scrubbing can wait. So quiet down cobwebs – dust, go to sleep…

I’m rocking my baby, because babies don’t keep.

Domestication 101 or something like that…

I guess I should start by saying…

My husband didn’t marry me for my cooking skills. Or my ability to do laundry. Or my promising future as a domesticated suburbs housewife. I think most likely it was my sarcasm, manipulative charm, or maybe I just have a damn good personality. Either way – he did. And thank God. Otherwise, I’d probably still be on the phone for Chinese takeout while I clean up the remnants of the grilled cheese I had lit on fire prior. That actually happened. I still have PTSD every time I get too close to a stove or accidentally turn on the FoodNetwork. Luckily, I married a man who’s a god in the kitchen and has no prior history of kitchen fires.

Though I never thought I’d be the one to ‘share a recipe on my blog’, mainly because of how 1950’s/suburb/housewifey/stepfordish it sounds and, oh yeah… The fact that I don’t cook – BUT it was THAT delicious and THAT easy enough that I wanted to share it with all you other kitchen virgins out there.

Last night we attempted Stuffed Shells Florentine. I say ‘we’ as in he did most of the cooking and I drank wine, chimed in with the occasional sarcastic comment, offered my unbeatable wifely moral support and charisma, and basically just got in the way. (Whatever – I cook really ridiculously cute babies and I’m going to stick to that for now).

Ingredients:

2 cups of shredded or chopped grilled chicken breast

2 cups of chopped spinach

1 1/2 cups of minced garlic

1 1/2 cup of minced yellow or white onion

2 tbsp of oregano

1 tbsp of basil

1 tbsp of garlic pepper

1 tsp of garlic salt

1 large box of shells

1 large container of ricotta cheese

2 jars of Rao’s tomato sauce (YUM!)

2 packs of mozzarella cheese

1 packet of shredded Parmesan cheese

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and cook pasta shells according to package


2. Combine spinach, basil, mozzarella, onion, garlic, salt, garlic pepper and oregano into a large bowl


3. After that’s well mixed, add the ricotta and mix thoroughly


4. Stuff shells with Ricotta mixture, using about 2 tablespoons for each shell. Arrange in lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.


5. Pour Rao’s pasta sauce over shells (or whichever you prefer – Rao’s is my new favorite).

 
6. Cover with a layer of Parmesan & mozzarella


7. Bake for 45 min at 350

8. Broil at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes until cheese is bubbling and brown

Voilà! Bon Appétit!