“Hey Red, are you going to give me a Christmas list anytime soon?”

He already had the mittens. #CatsWithThumbs #OneEyedCats #CatsDressedAsSanta

“I have a Pinterest board. I mean, ignore the $3,200 ring (so pretty!)…but there’s some good stuff on there!”

I’ve since employed Shireen who is essentially a female Cody with much nicer boobs to help him pick out any and all Christmas gifts. Honestly there isn’t much that I want (Except maybe a storm door, hey! I want a storm door! A full glass insulated one that locks! Christmas for grownups! So glamorous!) but I know I always appreciate a good list of fully backed suggestions from people I trust. My friend Anna says she always thinks of me (and often consults me) before making a major purchase so I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about.

While some of these things aren’t exactly amazing Christmas gifts (stocking stuffers maybe?) they are things I am loyal to, buy over and over again and use on a daily basis. (None of them are samples or freebies either. Bought with my own money or bought for me as a gift.)

EOS Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream – 3 x 7-ounce bottles $10.44

Whoops, lies. I received my first bottle of this shave cream from BlogHer in 2009. But I’ve bought at least two dozen bottles since so that kind of negates the fact that the first bottle was a gimme. I’ve been known to use coconut oil as well but it seems to wear my razors down a lot quicker. I like the vanilla kind best.

Clarisonic Classic – $195 Olay Pro-X Advanced – $21.97

I own the Clarisonic, have since early 2010 and it is the best darn thing ever. I use it twice a day and nothing (NOTHING!) has ever helped my skin more. Natalie did an extensive comparison of the Clarisonic vs. the Olay Pro-X and guess what? The Clarisonic won! Here’s one thing the box won’t tell you, when you first start using the Clarisonic your skin may purge, meaning it may break out even more, specifically in little whiteheads. It’s all the deep garbage working its way out. I used to be able to feel the zits bubbling under my skin, especially on my cheeks and chin. Now? Nothing. If I were to tell you to save up for one thing? This. This is what you save up for.

Microplane Zester – $12.95

If you have ever zested anything with a cheese grater, this thing will change your life. You will find excuses to zest all the things. Oranges! Limes! Lemons! Nutmeg! Hard cheeses! No pie will be too much for you and your zester.

Dyson Digital Slim Multi-Floor Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – $263.20

..

Cody got this for me for Casey week (my birthday and Mother’s Day in the same week) THE THING IS AMAZING. Yes, I have a big Dyson for real vacuuming, but to be able to just pull this one out when Vivi spills cereal or to get a little pile of cat hair off the couch? Angels sing. I’m not kidding.

In-Oven Thermometer – $21.00

Do you cook meat? You should have one of these. Once your meat is prepared you stick the thermometer in, throw your meat in the oven (or on the grill), set an alarm to go off when the meat reaches a certain temperature and BOOM! Perfectly cooked meat. You’re welcome.

UP – $16.46 Finding Neverland – $1.99

I judge people by how they react to the first 15 minutes to the movie UP. You should own it. Same with Finding Neverland. These are movies that make you feeeeeel. Sometimes you just need to feeeeeeel things.

Nature Bright SunTouch SAD Lamp – $70.99

Do you have your SAD lamp yet? You know how I love my SAD lamp. This one has taken the internet by storm.

Contigo Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle – 2 for $30.48

BEST WATER BOTTLES EVER! I put ice in one the first night I had them and when I went to fill it up the next night I found the ice from the night before hadn’t even melted completely. WHAT? I have kept one of these in my car on a sweltering summer day and the ice never completely melted. Even better? They never sweat! BEST! BOTTLES! EVER! (Shireen can also vouch for best bottle ever status.)

Urban Decay Naked or Naked 2 Palette – $50 each

The colors in the Naked palette are a little better (lots of sparkles in the Naked 2) but the Naked 2 case is aluminum, snaps shut and is super sturdy (the brush is better too.) I’m not an eyeshadow wearer but when I do? I want them easy to use and I want them all to match. These all match (super flattering neutrals) and are really easy to use.

Kindle – Starting at $69

I can read in bed without my glasses while lying on my side. I could read with one hand while pumping, breastfeeding or holding a baby. I know some people love real books, I like books, I love to read, but real books are kind of a hassle. Kindle to the rescue.

Silver Tag Earrings – $28 also available in gold $42

My friend Lisa makes these. I wear these earrings 90% of the time because they go with everything and are in a word, lovely.

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm – $22.50

Emily got me hooked on this stuff when I was pregnant. I’ve since gotten several more people hooked on it since. I’ve tried every shade except for coral. Rose is my favorite followed closely by Berry. It feels wonderful, it looks wonderful and it works wonderfully well. The case screws instead of snaps so there’s less chance of user error or the cap popping off.

Layering basics from Shade Clothing – starting at $12

You will find one of these, or some version of these, on my body 95% of the time. They keep all the parts you want covered (armpits, cleavage, butt crack) covered without bulk. Best basics ever. (I prefer the baby tee in a medium for layering and adore their more casual t-shirts. ADORE.)

.

(this photo illustrates the earrings, the effectiveness of the Clarisonic, the Fresh lip balm (Rose) and two layered Shade shirts.)

So now it’s your turn, what do you LOVE that I should know about?

(Cody’s gift is already taken care of. BOOM! It’s amazing, I can’t wait for him to see it. I’ll tell you about it in private if you need an idea! I also really want to tell you about the gifts I’m giving my family but they read this (hi guys!) and I don’t want to spoil it.)

eighteen months

It’s a super exclusive Blurb sale!

You guys responded so well with my last offer from Blurb they’re letting me share a code good for 25% off you Blurb order!

I just made my third Instagram book last night…they truly are becoming one of my most favorite things in my home.

Blurb just introduced planners as well. PLANNERS! HELLO PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT!

The code is EARLYBLURBS in all caps. Feel free to tweet or share this post, but please don’t post the code itself. (And y’all are so awesome you play by the rules.)

Fine print: This offer is good for 25% off your print product total up to a max discount of $200 USD, AUD, CAD and 120 Euros. Offer is set to expire on Nov 21st at 11.59pm Local time. Offer may only be used by each person once on books made by you. Offer may not be used in conjunction with volume discounts, other offers or used retroactively on previous orders.

*****************************

Disclosure: I was not provided anything for promoting this sale aside from the code itself (which I totally used.) I’m just a huge Blurb fan. HUGE.

Vivi and I are figuring out a system.

One element of that system is that she now showers with me, strange, but kind of a must given that her favorite thing to do in my room when left unattended is turn the volume dial on the stereo all the way up, then turn the stereo on. Addie did the same thing once at Vivi’s age and literally scared the crap out of herself, Vivi just thinks it’s hysterical.

After breakfast we head upstairs, she runs to the side of the tub tearing at her clothes while simultaneously trying to dive head first into the tub. Once she’s undressed, she sits down and splashes in the water by my feet. Occasionally she’ll take a pouf and scrub my leg and I can always count on getting poked in my bellybutton at least once. Once I’m all clean I rinse out the bubbles, put in the stopper and fill the tub with a few inches of water so I can get ready and she can stay entertained and contained. Oh master bathroom, you’re the best.

Fresh and clean piggies.

We take a little walk everyday after lunch, they’ve become shorter as it has become colder but they maintain the same pattern: wave at the planes, bark at the dogs, poke mom with all the sticks, throw all the rocks, tweet at all the birds and scream “BYE!” to all the cars.

If we were to have kids close in age like my sister and I are I would need to be 6 months pregnant right now.

(Can you hear the hysterical voices laughing in my head?)

We still call Vivi the baby, and far as all of us are concerned? She is a baby. While we’re certainly not throwing our hands up in the air and saying NO MORE BABIES FOR US! but we are in agreement that we’ll let Vivi be our baby for as long as possible, even if that means forever.

After Addie there was so much to worry about when it came to having a second baby beyond the stress of simply getting and staying pregnant. Vomiting through pregnancy, antenatal depression, postpartum depression and all that other stuff that comes with newborns. With Vivi all those problems were there, except for the postpartum depression. Sure, secondary infertility was a fat stupid blowhole, but Vivi came exactly when she was supposed to. I earned a big old gold sticker in patience and trusting in the will of God when it comes to babies with that little six year trial.

Vomiting through pregnancy? Pretty darn horrible. But I had (and continue to have) an amazing support system around me and generic Zofran for $12, amen.

Antenatal depression? Look, if there is any argument or debate I’m willing to go all in on it’s the one about depression medication while pregnant. Something in my brain is wired completely wrong and it will never be fixed with surgery or lots of good, happy thoughts. When the risk to me and my unborn baby outweigh the possible side effects of medication while pregnant? I’ll take the pill and thank modern medicine, thank you very much.

My labors are easy (thanks wide hips!) my babies come out healthy (thanks God, genetics, modern medicine, and body for working in unison on that one!) and while postpartum depression nearly did me in with Addie, it didn’t even touch me with Vivi, meaning that I have been able to spend the last 18 months fully immersed in my own life and it has been wonderful.

Funny how when something terrible ends on a good note it can shift our whole perception of an event if we let it.

Take Cody and me for example, we had an awful three years that culminated in what I call the horrible ugly. We stuck it out, fought for us and now ours is a true love story better than most anything Hollywood could come up with. If you were to ask me in the thick of the horrible ugly if marriage was worth it? I would have thrown things just to watch them break. But if you ask me now? I will say that marriage, even with all of its crap, growing pains and potential garbage is the very best thing I have done with my life.

Ask me how much I’m looking forward to another baby as I’m barfing in aisle 8 at noon on a Tuesday? I’ll punch you.

Ask me after the last 18 months of magic with this little face?

miss vivi on a wednesday.

I’ll scream “BABIES FOR EVERYONE!”

We can’t lie about the ugly when we tell others about our sweet, that isn’t fair. And when we find ourselves envying the position of others we must take into consideration how much gunk they’ve waded through to get where they are at.

In order to distinguish light, we have to have darkness.

In order to have any frame of reference or gratitude for true happiness? We have to know absolute misery.

I am happier than I have ever been at this point not because I fit in a certain size, have great hair, a great family or a great job.

I am happy because I have gone through so much to get here, I can accept that great won’t last forever, but it will always come back if I’m willing to acknowledge it when it does.

 

I was in Texas back in May talking with my darling friend Greis about sports when the topic of football came up. I told her how badly I wished I could send Cody and his best friend to a Denver game. The cost and logistics were overwhelming with his best friend living in Alaska so I never gave much thought to the idea beyond how much I wished I could make it happen.

“Have you ever checked for away games closer to you?”

*head tilt*

Football teams! They travel! BRILLIANT IDEA! Moments later I was looking at Denver’s schedule and realized they would be playing in Cincinnatti November 4th, a mere 2 hours away from our house. I signed up for the “inform me when single game tickets become available” mailing list and began plotting how I would surprise Cody with tickets to his first ever NFL game. I had grand plans to surprise him, alas he got mad at me for something, or maybe I was mad at him? Funny how marital arguments work…regardless, he wasn’t much into speaking with me so I decided to win his love back with the tickets and an airline voucher I had earned on my trip back from Texas.

“These are for you. I really hope Ryan can come, if he can’t you can take anyone you’d like as long as it’s not that weird guy you had lunch with last week.”

He seemed a little underwhelmed by my surprise but the game was still months away, there was plenty of time to get pumped.

As game time crept closer, Ryan confirmed that he was going to be able to make it. After a four day ferry ride out of Alaska and two long flights, he was in Indiana.

Now, if you’ve read my blog for any amount time at all then you’ll know that Cody is a loyal University of Utah fan. He wears red anytime he’s not wearing a shirt and tie so when he said he wanted to get an orange jersey for the game I was a little thrown off.

“Orange? I mean, that’s cool, but you never wear orange.”

The thought of spending over $100 on an orange shirt he’d only wear at Denver games and at home on Sundays seemed a little…stupid.

“Orange is the REAL Broncos color! Anyone can wear a white or blue jersey.” his mind was made up. Orange it was!

Game day came and Cody left for Cincinnati in a bright orange #18 Broncos jersey (MANNING IS OURS INDY! BWAHAHA!) He wanted #24 but couldn’t find the right size in orange.

This is where I wish I could tell you that Cody and Ryan listened to my stern instructions to “TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!” so I could show you all the happy photos of two best friends who hadn’t seen each other for seven years at their first NFL football game together.

But Cody and Ryan didn’t listen.

They took exactly four photos, two of them were terrible the end.

But they had fun, they made memories and most importantly the Broncos won. (You can read his side of the story here.)

This past Sunday Cody tore off his shirt and tie as soon as we got home from church and changed into his orange jersey.

“I’M A JERSEY GUY NOW!” he proclaimed. “I NEVER THOUGHT I’D BE A JERSEY GUY! BUT HERE I AM! A JERSEY GUY!”

He really likes that jersey, and I can’t lie, the orange looks good on him.

My dream of sending him to a Denver game in Denver is still alive and well.

The good news? He’s already got his outfit picked out.

************************************

Tide has teamed up with the NFL this year to ask fans to show them their colors for a chance to win a trip to Super Bowl XLVII. Do you have a favorite team moment where you hopefully took more than FOUR PHOTOS? (Okay, so one is really all you need to enter BUT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS TAKE MORE.) You have until November 30, 2012 to upload your photo to Tide’s facebook page and “Show Us Your Colors.”

FUN FACT! The official hex shade of orange is the same for the Bengals, Browns, Buccaneers, and Broncos. (It’s as if all the B teams were all “Orange? CAPITAL IDEA!”)

Disclosure: Special thanks to Tide for sponsoring this post. I have been compensated for my time in promoting the Tide “Show Us Your Colors” sweepstakes, not for promoting a particular product. I’ve loved Tide for a long time for free, always will.

If you’ve been around for awhile, you’ll know I favor the left side of my face.

smokey

.

blue.

I wish the right matched the left. (Not a phone photo. Sorry. Liar liar.)

 

Untitled

But what’s wrong with the right side Casey?

Oh, you know, a lot. First of all, there’s the rash.

petichiae update. 16 weeks.

Then there’s my eyebrow, it’s just a little bit shorter on the right side and it has a bald spot.

My right eye closes more than my left when I smile, I mean, it’s really just a lazier eye overall.

My undereye on the right side is also a little darker and a lot puffier than the left.

My hair is thinner on the left compared to the right.

I’m not sure why my right side has to be so difficult.

I mean, as humans, we came from an egg and sperm, to expect us to be perfectly symmetrical is downright stupid. (However some people are perfectly symmetrical and symmetry is the scientific definition of beauty.)

For a long time I’ve wanted to do a mirror image of my face, out of curiosity. (And to prove to I really do have a better side, that it’s not just in my head.)

Original photo I worked from?

Not bad, not bad. But lefty is clearly working the smize while righty is just…there. So out of curiosity, what if we mirrored the smize?

I present…double lefty.

The eyebrows! THE HAIR! WHOO! I mean, sure it’s a little silly looking because it’s double my face but you have to admit, the left side is certainly not my worst side.

Speaking of worst side, DOUBLE THE RIGHT PHOTOSHOP!

WEIRD RIGHT? So weird. Clearly my right eye is farther out than my left eye but it’s not something anyone would ever just notice. The eyebrow is is short and balding and the rash. THE RASH!

I still love you right side of my face! You chew and smile and blink and all that other stuff a face is supposed to do, but when it comes to my good side? We clearly have a winner and it isn’t you. BUT THAT’S OKAY! Because apparently people with symmetrical faces tend to be more selfish, we don’t ever want to be selfish, even if it is at the expense of a very beautiful face.

So give it up, do you have a good side? I think I’ve just proven that good sides are totally a thing if you’ve been skeptical to admit it.

Lately Vivi is OBSESSED with stickers. You can usually find one either in her hand or somewhere on her body at all times. This is an important part of the story we’ll get back to, but first:

The importance of a proper fitting bra.

Here’s a list of things I don’t particularly like doing in order of dislike:

1. Pap smears.

2. Dentist.

3. Bra fittings.

My mom swears that someday mammogram will creep its way right to the top but for now, let’s just focus on #3 since that’s what went down in a Nordstrom dressing room yesterday. You see, I’ve been wearing the bra I bought when I was pregnant with Vivi (the 34F, remember that one?) for the past few months weeks I’ve noticed that my breasts would actually be capable of doing the breaststroke in my bra if they actually had arms. It was time for new bras. Aww, back to regular old boob sizes for me. I prepared myself for Cody’s inevitable disappointment at my average sized fun bags.

“Last time I was fit I was 7 months pregnant and a 34F. Since then I’ve had a baby and lost a bunch of weight, GO!”

As I undressed, I looked down and realized there was a blue seal sticker nestled right in my cleavage. Remember Vivi and her sticker obsession? Well her obsession found its way into my bra.

“So, there’s a sticker on my boob, that has to be a new one, right?”

“Yes ma’am, that’s a new one.”

So professional.

She measured me, stepped out and returned with a few different bras and as I slipped into the first one I remembered why I put myself through this, there they were! Sitting high and at attention! HELLO LADIES! HOW HAVE YOU BEEN!?

“That’s the stuff!” I proclaimed “What size am I now?”

“32F.”

Excuse me?

“32F, the 34 would be way too big, but this one looks perfect!”

“F? As in abcdeEFF? How is that even POSSIBLE!?”

“Honey, you’re all breast tissue with almost no fat, that stuff doesn’t go anywhere, those are here to stay.”

YAY! And whoa.

When I hear 32F I think porn star, not Midwestern mom of 2. I may be an F cup, but you guys? Without a bra they are…well. They are simply big mounds of flesh. HOWEVER! When I pour these big mounds of flesh into a proper and well fitting bra? BOOM. We’ve all heard that we can fudge our bra size by going down a cup size and up a band size. TO THIS I SAY BALDERDASH.

Point: 34DD bra (1st and 3rd photos) vs. 32F bra (2nd and 4th photos)

If this doesn't convince you to get fit for a proper bra I'm not sure what will.

The only difference between these two pictures? One is the right size! As long as we’re being honest, the 34DD is padded, the 32F is just molded! If that doesn’t convince you to get thee to a bra fit specialist I’m not sure what will. Mandy had been wearing a 38C for years, when she was fit? 32DDD.  Amy was wearing a 38D and walked out with a 34C. HOW MANY OF YOU ARE WEARING THE WRONG SIZE BRA!? I mean, you can make just about any pair of too big shoes fit with enough pairs of socks, but how crummy do they look? And if your shoes are too small? Chances are you’re super uncomfortable.

SAME WITH BRAS LADIES!

There’s rumor of bra vanity sizing, which is probably true, but vanity size or not, when’s the last time you were fit by someone who knows bras? If you’ve just been buying the same size you’ve been buying since high school you probably don’t even know what you’re missing out on! When you are an uncommon or *blessed* size, bras are hard to find and are often expensive. Take care of them and they will serve you well, it’s also an immediate way to look 10 pounds thinner, with just a well fitting bra! Money well spent I say!

I have been using way too many !!! throughout this post. Apologies.

As a final tale to convince you to take your top off for a woman with a measuring tape, I took Vivi with me to my fitting. She was playing with the stroller when her legs went between the footrest and seat and the whole stroller tipped backwards taking Vivi up off the ground like a one sided teeter totter. The saleswoman attempted to help her but Vivi lost her mind because the saleswoman wasn’t me so I ended up reaching over the saleswoman to pull Vivi out while she held the stroller, oh and allow me to I mention I was completely topless while the whole scene went down.

Untitled

If I can survive that, you can survive one little fitting that will make a big ol’ difference in your life (assuming you leave all toddlers at home and check your cleavage for stickers before taking your top off, just watching out for you.)

Want to know more about bra fittings? This is probably the best article ever for that very topic.

How about you? Any good bra fitting stories for me?

I was going to come here tonight and ask for all sorts of advice about parenting school aged children and tell you how absolutely tied up in knots I am after parent teacher conferences last week. Addie is almost 100% Cody when it comes to school and 70% him when it comes to personality. The 30% she got from me really is the best 30% she could have gotten but I sometimes panic about how to parent a laid back introverted child who lives, breathes and exists by the words (kind or unkind) spoken to her when I was just so different at her age and I am so remarkably different and similar to my mom in so many ways.

Parenthood, not for sissies.

Or worrywarts.

As I paced my bedroom with my heart in my chest after writing her adorable teacher a slightly long winded and neurotic email I started to think about everything I am probably doing wrong on a daily basis that could totally mess with her life in the long run. Maybe I don’t make her practice math enough. Maybe I should be more strict about her room being clean. Maybe I should take her to more cultured events or make her read more intelligent books. Maybe I should take away all those stupid Monster High dolls and maybe I should just stop doing a lot of things and replace them with a hundred other things I should be doing.

Choo choo Addie. #Ohio

Then my mind fast forwarded 20 years to the woman she will become. If I could foster, cultivate and nourish everything that is wonderful about her right now, at this very moment, I know for a fact that I would be sending a marvelous person out into the world. When I picture her grown I see her living in a tiny little cluttered apartment surrounded by treasures she has collected from all of her adventures with friends and hopefully some with me. Her fridge is full of funny photos of her with everyone she loves and her unmade bed is piled high with bright blankets and pillows in every color and texture. She would have friends around her kitchen table constantly because she knows that to feed someone in your home is to love them from the inside out, she learned that one from me. Chances are she’ll be covered with little bits of cookie dough and flour every weekend and her bathroom counter will be covered with a dozen different shades of lipstick and her closet will be full of ruffles and sequins. She’ll have at least one cat, one that will follow her around purring and most likely get away with jumping up on the counters. Her TV will be small and surrounded by half finished art projects and crafts, she’ll never know where she left her keys so she’ll end up walking or taking the bus half the time which is okay because she loves people watching, new adventures and meandering down different streets. I picture her to be an awful lot like my darling friend Jessie, curly hair and all.

She’ll write me funny little emails and texts, leave wonderful little notes on her friends’ Facebook walls and if she has a dream? She’ll figure out some way to accomplish it. Her dad will still tease her relentlessly when she calls or comes home and I will always hug her like I do now, as though I can transfer all my hopes and love for her through my arms and by simply burying my head into that magical spot on her neck I can somehow protect her from all pain and suffering.

Grown up Addie is kind, grown up Addie is funny, considerate and still believes in magic and fairy tales. Grown up Addie is still the best big sister Vivi could ever want or need, grown up Addie has found a job she loves, and she has learned to surround herself with the very best people from all over the world.

Addie's Fancy Hair

I just have to get her there, it’s sometimes overwhelming how much I love her.

I simply have to love her, fight for her and teach her to be kind and respect herself and those around her in the meantime. She will be fine, she will be more than fine.

She is magnificent, and her kind of magnificent can’t be taught by tutors or teachers.

 

‘Tis SAD lamp season. (SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder)

If you get the slumps and grumps when the weather turns gray and dreary? You should seriously consider using a SAD lamp. This will be my third winter with one and I can’t imagine waking up without it each morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your SAD lamps.

This is the exact one I have, and it was worth every darn penny. The negative ions smell a little funny when they are on, but I don’t use them often so it’s really no big deal. I keep it right at the side of my bed and turn it on as soon as I wake up. It stays on for 30 minutes (it’s on a timer) and while it’s on I horizontal tweet, read on my Kindle or just stare at it. Other people eat breakfast in front of theirs, if Vivi could control her oatmeal I would eat in front of mine as well. What’s most important is that you use it, and use it regularly. Promise you’ll notice a difference.

Halloween went really well, see?

Halloween 2012
For more photos of Vivi in her kitty costume, click here. (The one where she loses her mind over the geese may be my favorite.)

Addie was a witch, a very adorable witch (assuming there is such a thing, which there is, because look…)

Halloween 2012

So maybe we’ll go with ‘adorably serious.’

While we’re on the subject of adorable…I was asked to do a holiday hair guide for little girls. I worked really hard on it and my darling Addie stuck with me (and let me stick her with bobby pins) through the whole thing and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’d be tickled if you’d take a look at it and if you’re a pinner, give it a little pin. Thank you.

Fancy Holiday Hair Ideas

While I am feeling the looming doom of winter coming, I’m doing really well, when you’re surrounded with these two? You can’t help to feel a little sunshine no matter what the weather is outside.

Untitled

How are you friends?