Category Archives: Giveaways

A Winner + Some advice from you (pretty please?)

First up, wow! You guys were super-excited about having pretty, non-bleeding lips. So, let’s get right to the winner of last weekend’s giveaway, shall we?

And that would be:

elise

…who said:

I just had my seventh babe and have had a horrible-so-embarrassing-why-won’t any-stinkin’-lip-product-work dry lip problem since I got pregnant with my son 10 years ago. I think it is because I have had six girls in a row. Apparently, girls make your lips plump up because of hormones??? Who would have thought? Anyway, I am ready to be amazed! My choice is D. ;)

Well, yeehaw, girl! I’m excited for you. I hope this is your cure, for sure!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

And now, onto my plea for advice.

Thursday is Shaun’s and my 11th wedding anniversary (which is so weird because I feel like I just wrote a post about our 10th), and, as much as I don’t just love it to death when my husband travels, I’m always grateful when we we can manage to coordinate a work trip so that I can tag along.

We did it last year for our 10th anniversary trip to California, and this year, we managed to coordinate a work trip to Vancouver BC, Canada so that I could come to.

I’ve heard so many good things about how pretty it is and how much there is to do, but we’ll only be there for 3 full days, so we’re trying to prioritize our top picks.

Any native Vancouverites (Vancouverans? Van…what DO you call yourselves) out there? Or maybe you’ve visited and have some killer restaurant recs or activities from your trip? I’m all ears.

vancouver

This is what I’ve got so far for packing (I need to get on the stick seeing as how I also need to pack for 6 kids!!), but I’m thinking I may need a heavier layer for the evenings. And I doubt I’ll be using either of those swimsuits. In fact, I kind of despise swimsuits, which is weird because I grew up swimming competitively. But these days, I’d rather do just about anything than put on the equivalent of spandex underwear and then go out in public. I was pretty pleased to disover a tankini + a one piece option–both brand new–on thredUP for next to nothing.

And, nope, this is not a sponsored post. I just continue to enjoy getting polka dot boxes on my doorstep occasionally, In fact, I scored the black/red/green floral Anthro top (right) + the cream eyelet blouse (middle/top), and the black + white embroidered tunic (left) recently. (So…maybe thredUP should be sponsoring this trip to Vancouver, since 2/3 of the clothes I’m taking are from there?) You can grab this code to get $10 off your first order ($10 for me too), but no pressure!

ANYhoo, enough about what I’ll be wearing. What we should do/eat/see?

Not gonna lie. A nap might be high on the agenda.

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It just makes (Lip) Sense – {GIVEAWAY!}

I think I’ve mentioned several times before that I’ve suffered from severely dry/cracked lips for a while now. And by a while, I mean the last decade. For real. I cannot remember ever consistently having the problem until I got pregnant with Ezra, but ever since, it’s been a real (literal) pain. They peel, sometimes in chunks (sorry for the vivid image), bleed, and hurt like the Dickens. Not to mention look a fright (can you tell I’ve been listening to British books again?).

They’re definitely worse in the winter, but it’s pretty much a year-round problem. Even when I drank a gallon of water a day back in the fall (I’m still drinking between 60-90 ounces now), they were a little better, but I still dealt with pretty much constant dry patches.

So, when my savvy friend, Alissa, whom I’ve known for over a decade and whose impeccable taste in products I’ve always admired, told me about LipSense, I was intrigued.

Lip Sense is essentially a color stain that bonds with your lips, which means that it stays on for hours–even through sweating, eating, showering, etc.–but it comes paired with a Shea butter based gloss top coat that not only provides a nice sheen to your color but actually repairs your lips in the process of wearing it.

Let’s just say I was skeptically hopefully. Because I’ve tried pretty much every lip product out there–drugstore, spa, medicated, organic, homemade–with very little improvement, and it just seemed a bit too good to be true.

Except that it was Alissa recommending it, and Alissa–a meticulous personality and a careful researcher–would not recommend something she didn’t love and which didn’t work for her.

Long story short, I’ve been using my Lip Sense products for about 2 months now, and I love them!

Alissa set me up with a starter kit, which includes a tube of color, a tube of gloss, and a special remover, and then, because she knew I struggled so particularly with dry lips, she also hooked me up with the LipSense Moisturizing Lip Balm, which…drum roll, please…WORKS!

I was honestly shocked at how well the balm works. Like, my lips felt smooth and soft as a baby’s you-know-what the next morning.

Like a doofus, I sometimes go days without applying because I foolishly think that my lips will stay moisturized without adding extra moisture (huh?), but every time they start to dry out again, I just head back to the balm, and, sure enough, smooth lips within hours.

Yeehaw!

Couldn’t be happier with that.

Add that to the fact that the LipSense color + gloss combo actually does what it says: goes on easily and actually does stay on for hours (I average between 4 and 10 hours of wear, depending on my activities) IF (and this is key) you use it correctly, and I was pretty dang excited to have found something I loved that was so low-maintenance.

And pretty!

Wanna see?

I have two LipSense colors, but my fave is definitely Plumeria, which is a deep, pinky-red.

lipsense2

{Look, Mom! No unsightly peeling or lumps!}

I think I was getting ready to teach Combat in the above pic, and my participants were probably wondering why I was so dolled up for an exercise class, but, honestly, why not? It didn’t budge through all of the sweating, yelling, mike-adjusting, and water breaks.

lipsense1

{Oh, don’t mind me…just hanging out in my giant van, listening to a book, and wearing lip gloss whilst waiting for my children to get done with piano practice}

One thing I will say is that, since my lips were so dry/jacked up when I started using this, it stung quite badly when I first applied the color. There is some cosmetic grade alcohol in the color (see below for more info). As soon as I used the balm for even one day, though, the stinging went away completely.

lipsense

Again wearing Plumeria (and gazing pensively out of an Anthropologie storefront window…naturally).

lipsense3

I asked Alissa for the low-down to help you understand more about the technical side of LipSense, and she sent me a paragraph, not knowing how much of it you’d want to know, but I honestly thought she expressed it so concisely that I decided to share the whole thing!

In her words:

-LipSense is a long wearing lip color that molecularly bonds to the lips.  It’s worn with a permeable Shea Butter gloss which transfers through the color to hydrate the lips. You get the benefits of a hydrating lip balm combined with all the benefits of a beautiful color.  
-LipSense is available in over 70 shades and 10 different glosses.  It’s applied in 3 layers and topped with a gloss.  The layers can consist of one color, or a combination of any 3 shades for a completely custom look.  It’s important to wear LipSense gloss with the color because other glosses will break down the color and they don’t offer the same moisturizing benefits.  
-LipSense provides a mechanical shield from the sun, so you get the benefits of a sunscreen without all of the chemicals.  It’s also lead free, and the color is wax free. It’s also gluten free and kosher.
-When a person first uses LipSense, they may feel a tingling sensation.  This is an indication that their lips are quite dry.  LipSense contains SD40 cosmetic grade alcohol which will kill bacteria and help the pigment to disperse evenly, but it can also sting as it evaporates from damaged lips.  The tingling or stinging should go away as soon as the soothing gloss is applied.  This usually only occurs the first few times the product is applied, if it occurs at all.
-The color should last anywhere from 4-18 hours.  
-The starter kit costs $55 and consists of a Color, a Glossy Gloss, and an Ooops! Remover.  Additional colors are $25, and additional glosses are $20.  The tube of color should be equivalent to 4 tubes of regular lipstick, and it will last the average person around 5 months.  The amazing lip balm that you love is $20, and mine has lasted me about 6 months so far.  I still have a little bit left.    
-I like to use the original Neutrogena facial bar to remove it at night, but the Ooops! Remover that comes in the starter kit is great for fixing mistakes.  If you use the Neutrogena at night then the Ooops! should last forever.  
-I offer a 100% money back guarantee on these products.  If they don’t love it, they can exchange it or return it. 
And now for the best part!
Alissa is offering one of you lucky ducks the chance to win a starter kit–complete with color, gloss, and remover!
No offense to the rest of you, but I’m secretly hoping that one of you girls that struggles with dry lips like I do wins.
Entry is SUUUUUPER easy.
Simply pick a letter from the options below and comment.
FOR EXTRA ENTRIES: Head on over to Alissa’s Facebook page and give it a like, then leave me a comment telling me you did. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. She posts lots of good info and new colors and is very quick to respond to questions.
Okay, comment with either A, B, C, or D:
A) I have heard of LipSense but my interest ends with the giveaway
B) I have heard of LipSense but would like to know more
C) I have not heard of LipSense, but my interest ends with the giveaway
D) I have not heard of LipSense, and I would like to know more

Disclosure: if you express interest in knowing more, Alissa will follow up with you about this. She’s NOT pushy, is very efficient and helpful, and will happily return/exchange anything that doesn’t work for you.

Fine print: open to U.S. or Canada only. Giveaway ends Monday, June 29th  at 11:59 PM

That’s it! Happy entering, and happy LONG weekend (for the Americans, at least!).
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A Giveaway with Chelsey Alyse!

Goooood Monday morning, friends!

So, last night, Shaun and I were up late(ish) putting together a fun Paint and Prose package for an even more fun event (that I’ll tell you about soon), and as I was crawling into bed around 11:30, I heard the twins giggling and talking full voice in their bed.

When I went to investigate, sure enough, they were both sitting up, parading their dolls around–clearly fully convinced that it was early morning (they always wake up before the sun) instead of a few shorts hours after they first fell asleep. I attempted to correct their error, but they remained unconvinced for the next hour.

I woke up no fewer than 5 times to go in there and quiet them down, but they had a hard time settling. And every time I woke up to their squeals and stumbled into their room, I remembered something else that I needed to to do today. It’s a doozy.

I have to: attend a home school co-op preview (a requirement before they’ll consider your enrollment), grocery shop, mail things, finalize my BODYCOMBAT chorey memorization for our “launch” this afternoon, finish hauling all of my bags downstairs for the #3week50bag challenge (I’ll do the final count + update in the morning), do laundry, prep dinner, teach BODYCOMBAT launch, print pictures for our sponsored children letters, and then deliver them (this batch goes to Africa, and a team hand delivers them). Oh, and then make dinner, and get the kids in bed.

Phew!

I think I’ve probably forgotten something, and it’s making my feel a bit hive-y to process all of that, BUT!

The best part is that I get to start the day with a fun little treat for you guys!

A little over a year ago, I attended a wedding of one of my husband’s coworkers. It was a gorgeous event, and the couple seemed very sweet, but I didn’t know them well.

Then, a few weeks ago, the bride, Chelsey, reached out to me with some “shop-talk” questions (since we’re both small business owners) because, as it turns out, she’s a metal smith who makes gorgeous custom jewelry.

It took me a minute to connect all of the dots, but once I did, it was super-fun to realize that we actually already sort of knew each other.

We emailed back and forth, getting to know each other better, and what ultimately came of all of that was a set of beautiful initial rings for me, a chance to win some for you, and a dinner where we got to chat for a long time (definitely my favorite and an experience I hope to repeat soon; Chelsey’s  a kindred spirit).

chelsey

{Aren’t she and her husband cuties?!}

Chelsey is a sweetheart, and her work, in a word, is stunning.

She’s so talented and puts so much thought and care into each one of her pieces.

rings

I’m pretty over the moon about my initial rings, and she even threw in a matching spacer ring so that they stack even better.

rings1

The delicate turquoise ring was a birthday gift from Shaun, and, considering that the initials I chose are from our nicknames for each other, the whole stack is pretty darn special to me.

Plus, they fit perfectly and are so light and wearable that I hardly notice I have anything my finger!

rings4

I had a really hard time choosing exactly what to order from Chelsey, but in the future, I think I’ll go for this adorable pearl ring to add to my stack:

rings2

Or maybe I’ll manage to snag of one of her exquisite one-of-a-kind vintage jewelry “rescue” pieces (she does cool things like repurpose broken earrings into pretty rings):

rings3

Are you drooling yet?

Well, stop. Because Chelsey has graciously offered a $30 shop credit to one lucky winner!

Yippee!

To enter, simply head on over to Chelsey’s Etsy shop and pick your favorite item, then come back and tell me what it is in a comment.

Optional: if you want an extra entry, head on over to Chelsey’s Instagram and follow along (you’ll want to anyway; her pictures are great, and she always has something fun to say with them). Just be sure to leave me a separate comment letting me know you did.

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. I’ll announce a winner on Thursday!

Happy entering, folks! And may all of your Monday must-dos go off without a hitch!

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Beautycounter Review + a GIVEAWAY!

Way back in the spring, Erin, a sweet reader-friend, contacted me about trying out some products from a company I’d never heard of: Beautycounter.

Pretty much right from the get-go, though, I was intrigued, since Beautycounter’s mission is to provide safe, effective skincare products for the entire family. I had been on the lookout for a great skin care regimen for a while but, after trying out various samples of this and that, I was still pretty underwhelmed and undecided.

But with Beautycounter’s commitment to banning over 1,500 harmful chemicals and products that are regularly allowed into American skincare lines (whereas the European Union has banned the use of over 1,300 ingredients, the U.S. has only banned 11, so clearly Beautycounter exceeds both of those limits), I literally figured, “What harm could it do to try it?”

So, I sampled two of their lines: The Essentials and The Countertime.

I tried the Essentials first, but, while I thought the product was fine–gentle and soothing–I didn’t see a huge difference from any one product (except the Gentle Exfoliator, which I luuuurved). So, I wasn’t necessarily expecting too much from the Counter Time line either. I wasn’t even paying much attention–just going through the motions of applying the products faithfully each day in tiny amounts (I’ve been known to make samples last for a good month).

The thing was, without even looking for it, I was noticing that my skin looked brighter in the mornings. And then, several days later, it was undeniable: my skin tone was more even, my pores were smaller, my fine lines around my eyes diminished. A friend at Body Pump exclaimed, “Holy Cow! Your skin looks amazing! What are you doing??”

And then–the gold standard of all proofs–even my husband noticed and expressed his admiration.

So, I emailed Erin quick, fast, in a hurry and said, “Dude! This stuff works! How do I get more??”

She very patiently dealt with all of my questions and waffling until I finally decided to just bite the bullet and order the entire Counter Time line–a really big investment for me and the most I’ve ever spent on skincare (by a long-shot; I received no special discount other than that Erin was sweet enough to order it at cost for me)–because it provided a significant discount to each individual product to buy them all together.

Plus, I knew that there was a 60 day money back guarantee if I was at all unsatisfied with the products.

I’ve been using the Counter Time line for almost 3 months now, and I can honestly say that I really like it.

I cannot say that I’ve seen quite the drastic results that I experienced in that first week of samples, but I have been pleased by my consistently brighter, more even-toned skin + smaller pores.

beautcounter1

 

{While I will freely admit that this is super-flattering lighting, I would also like to point out that I have not edited this picture in any way or added filters or any such fancy work}

Honestly, I think that my skin needs regular exfoliation, and the Essentials Line exfoliator, which I was using in combination with the Counter Time samples back in the spring was the Holy Grail of product combos for my skin and really helped it glow.

Also, Erin ended up sending me the Essentials Line cleanser (since that line is her personal favorite) to try in combo with the rest of the Counter Time products, and I could see a significant difference after I added that in. AND I would like to point out that one of the products that came in the Counter Time line (the Enlightening Treatment Pads) did not work for me at all. It broke me out in tiny little bumps, but since Erin had specifically recommended it as doing wonders for her skin, it clearly depends on your specific skin’s balance whether it’s beneficial or not for you. That said, since I ordered the entire line as a unit and was happy with the other 5 products, I couldn’t return the Enlightening Pads by themselves. I understand why (none of the items were priced separately), but that was still a bit of a bummer.

So! I guess the biggest takeaway from this review is that, if you decide to try out Beautycounter’s products (which I heartily recommend!), try to sample different combos of lines first to see what works best for you because a) what works for me (or anyone else) may not be the ticket for you (duh) and b) it may not be the best idea to order one whole line, even if it’s significantly cheaper. Mixing and matching the best products for your skin is definitely the way to go!

Next up, I’m going to look into their kids’ lines for soaps and lotions–especially the sunscreen.

Oh! And speaking of lotions, Erin is being kind enough to give away this decadent-looking body butter, which contains zero synthetic fragrances and is really moisturizing for dry skin without leaving any greasy after-feel.

body butter

All you have to do to be entered to win is “the usual” round here at M is for Mama.

Simply comment below with either A, B, C or D (just as a heads-up: if you pick A or B, Erin will follow up with you with more info, per your request).
A) I have heard of Beautycounter, but I would still like more info
B) I have not heard of Beautycounter, and I would like more info
C) I have heard of Beautycounter, but my interest ends with the giveaway
D) I have not heard of Beautycounter, but my interest ends with the giveaway

Happy entering! May the woman with the driest elbows win!!

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Oily…In a Good Way (a Young Living Essential Oils GIVEAWAY!)

If you’re a blogger, it’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that every single other blogger out there (I would never exaggerate) is using essential oils.

And yet, ignore it I did…until last summer when my twins’ immune systems needed a boost.

I’d already heard the essential oil buzz for a while but…see note above about tuning it out. But then, it occurred to me that I had a midwife appointment that day, and my midwife was a Young Living distributor as well as a registered nurse, so I figured she would be a great one to talk to about a) the twins and b) all of the essential oil hype.

Because Melena is anything but hype-y or salesperson-esque. She’s pretty much the chillest human being that I’ve ever met. And, sure enough, as soon as I told her that we needed an immune system boost, she hooked me up with YL essential oils to do just that.

Honestly, I remember feeling a bit skeptical.

Melena explained how to administer the oil in a safe way for my then not-quite-2-year-old twins, and I went home and dutifully followed her instructions at about 9 PM.

Y’ALL.

Let’s just say that I’m believer now.

 

Shaun was intrigued too but definitely skeptical.

But then, someone who shall remain unnamed, left toast in the toaster, and it got burnt beyond recognition. It was baaaaaad, y’all. The smell wasn’t just obnoxious. It assaulted your senses and permeated every room in the downstairs of our house.

And again Melena came to my rescue. She gave me YL’s purification oil and told me how to diffuse it in vinegar to take care of the potent smell.

And it totally did.

About that same time, I started talking to my friend, Shanna, from church, who is a Young Living distributor, and also one of the gentlest, funniest, kindest, LEAST pushy people in the entire world. And she told me about how she had attended a YL informational meeting once three  years ago, but she couldn’t seem to hear any of the actual information because her baby was crying and would. not. stop. But then, the presenter asked if she could rub a little lavender oil on the back of Shanna’s little boy’s neck, and Shanna said yes, and within 30 seconds, Elijah was out cold.

And Shanna was like, “Whoa.”

So, she did her research and started “doing Young Living” with the understanding that she would NEVER ever sell it. But people kept coming to her and asking questions, and she kept finding more uses for the oils in her own home, and as people joined her team to get the discount, she was excited to get more oils for free without ever actually having to “sell” anything.

Shanna still orders oils for others at her own cost, but so many people were joining her team to get their own discount so they could order the oils any time they wanted that she was actually starting to make a little bit of money without even trying. Suddenly, she had a business, whether she wanted it or not, and after a lot of prayer, she decided to pursue turning her YL passion into something that could support their family on her income alone while her husband plants a church.

I really feel like I should emphasize again what a humble, sweet-natured person Shanna is. As soon as I finished listening to her story, I was already sold–both by her words and manner and by the results I’d already experienced.

me and shanna

{Here we are, resplendent in all of our VBS volunteer t-shirted glory. Honestly, this was like take 4 for an attempt at a decent picture of the two of us (with 10 children between us, we were always either awkwardly holding one of them or getting our hair blown away by gusts of wind or…), so even though the lighting here makes it look like I have a black eye, we’re going with it}

I signed up to be a YL distributor (for the discount) and ordered a premium starter kit for me and one for my mom for Christmas. (In case you’re wondering, that’s YL’s “best bang for your bucks” option–basically $300 of product for 1/2 that price).

I had/have no interest in making it a business myself, but over the past 9 months or so, I can honestly say that I have used the oils for a huge variety of ailments and purposes.

I’ve used Lavender to calm/soothe/support skin health, Joy and Stress Away to help Della calm down at bedtime (she’s my anxious girl), Peppermint for digestive health, Melaleuca for skin issues, and on and on. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of an understanding of what everything is good for.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on Thieves for helping support healthy immune systems. I’m all out right now and have it on my reminder list to reorder before we head into the fall and winter seasons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used Thieves when our immune systems aren’t firing on all cylinders. I like to put it on my whole family–even the healthy ones–as a preventative measure!

thieves

{I stole this picture from Shanna. My nails are never that pretty!}

I wouldn’t say that I’ve earned my Oily Mama badge yet, since I’m not constantly diffusing oils in my home or consulting my essential oils pocket guide, but I’m kind of thinking I may get there one day because I’ve been really pleased with my results so far.

Of course, it probably doesn’t really “help” me that Shanna’s so nice because I’ve done a lotof texting things like: “These are our issues. Any ideas?”

And she always texts right back with with awesome oily options to help us out. Crutch, much? Yup. The nicest there ever was.

Of course, my favorite thing about Young Living is that they both grow all of the ingredients for the oils on their own farms and then create/bottle the oils themselves. You can read all about their Seed to Seal pledge, if you’re so inclined.

SO! What does all of this means for you?

Well, if you’ve been hearing tidbits about Young Living essential oils but have never taken the plunge (or even if you have and just want to get your hands on some free oils!), today is your (potentially) lucky day!

Shanna is kindly giving away 1 bottle of magic elixir Thieves oil to one happy winner.

All you have to do to win is comment, using one of the easy-entry options below. But if you don’t win or just want to get your hands on some oils on your own, you can use this link to do so. (Full disclosure: that links lets you order through me because you either have to order as a retail customer with a wholesale supplier or become a wholesale customer yourself, but I won’t be the least bit offended if you choose to order a different way).

OR if you just want to contact Shanna and ask her questions or find out more about Young Living, you can do so at: 903-three4zero-9two4five (just replace words with numbers) or email her at: sgarcia0624@gmail.com.

You can also read about her oily adventures/life on her blog!

To be entered to win, simply comment on this post, choosing either A, B, C, or D. (Heads up: if you comment A or B, you are giving Shanna permission to follow-up with you with more information. Did I mention she’s is all kinds of nice and not pushy??!)

A) I have heard of Young Living essential oils, but I would like more information
B) I have never heard of Young Living essential oils, but I would like more information
C) I have heard of Young Living essentials oils, but my interests stops with the giveaway
D) I have never heard of Young Living essential oils, but my interest stops with the giveaway

Giveaway entries close Monday, Aug. 24 at 11:59 PM. I’ll announce a winner the following day.

MAY THE OILIEST ENTRY WIN!

Or…something like that.

Happy Monday, friends! I’m off to rub a little Joy on my wrists! ;)

Hindquarters covering disclaimer: None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any illness and should not replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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I’m rockin’ my Rockin’ Baby Sling {Review and GIVEAWAY for YOU!}

Okay, first of all, let it be known that you guys are THEE best.

I got 475 opinions here on the blog and social media in response to my request for your input about my new glasses. And, while I’m still plowing through them all in search of a consensus, I’m just blown away at how sweet y’all are to take the time to share your thoughts with me about silly things like which frames best fit my face shape. I know I’ll never get to meet most of you, but I still feel like I get to pull up a chair and chat with a bunch of rad girlfriends several times a week. And, let me tell you, you can’t beat that with a rubber-spatula-cum-spanker (click if you want a laugh plus a priceless picture of Evy).

And now onto today’s business…

I’m not the world’s biggest baby-wearer at home. And I’m not talking about my physical stature either. I just don’t do it a ton.

Mostly, that’s because a) my babies tends to be of the non-fussy variety (please don’t e-stone me) and are usually pretty content to be in their swings or bumbo seats near me while I cook/homeschool/blog/whatever and b) I have a lot of helping hands. (I remember wearing Ezra, my firstborn, in his Baby Bjorn throughout many a meal prep, so I’d say the helping hands bit has been the biggest factor in my not baby-wearing at home that much of late)). I mean, seriously, I turned around in the middle of getting dinner ready last night to see Simon changing Theo’s poopy diaper without being asked.

(And then I belted the Hallelujah chorus along with the angel choir that descended through my kitchen ceiling).

But I am so, SO grateful for the ability to wear my babies when they do get cranky or when I’m out and about or if I just feel like snuggling my baby close, hands-free. So, when Rockin’ Baby contacted me about taking one of their slings for a spin AND giving one away to you lovely folks, you better believe I jumped on that one like a duck on a June bug. (Or, I should say, like my 7-year-old on a June bug; he’d beat out a duck any day).

I had never tried a ring-sling before, so I was excited to test something new.

Turns out, me likey.

It took a bit of maneuvering to get the ring to adjust easily at first, but the kind folks at Rockin’ Baby had warned me that there was a bit of a learning curve and that once I had the hang of it, I’d love it.

They were right.

rockinbaby

After the initial test, in which I did a lot of shifting and attempts at tightening–only semi-successfully–I tried again the next day and found the process at least twice as simple/intuitive. And every time since, it’s gotten easier and easier to simply slip Theo down inside the pouch and then cinch him up nice and cozy to my chest.

As far as his opinion on the arrangement.

rockinbaby2

He’s a huge fan. He loves being snuggled up close to me and will happily ride around in the sling while I meal-prep or do chores for as long as I’m willing/able to carry him.

I have yet to find a single carrier that doesn’t produce a burning ice-pick point of pain in my upper right shoulder after about 45 minutes of wear–no matter what its claims for ergonomic correctness or superior weight distribution.

rockinbaby1

And I’ll be honest–the Rockin’ Baby sling is no exception…although I can carry Theo in it longer than usual without the burning sensation, and it never reaches the heights it does with some other carriers.

But let’s face it: that has pretty much everything to do with the fact that I need to go see a chiropractor and nothing to do with the carriers themselves.

In fact, this sling is so comfortable that I’ve found myself reaching for it more and more recently, even when Theo didn’t necessarily “need” to be carried.

rockinbaby2

I chose the “You Win Again” reversible sling, and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I was extremely impressed with the sturdiness of the stitching and the quality of the fabric. Not only impressed but surprised. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, since clearly, I would want a product that held my baby to be well-made and durable, but this sling exceeded even my highest expectations.

I also love that, since Theo is so happy in it, he often slides off into dreamland for a snooze while I’m carrying him. I can then loosen the sling super-easily, which allows me to lay him down still sleeping if necessary.

rockinbaby6

And you know what else I love? The fact that, for every sling or pouch purchased from Rockin’ Baby, they donate another to a needy mother in Kenya or Haiti and educate her about the importance of its use.

Plus, on a much more frivolous note, Rockin’ Baby has so many fun prints that I had to do a FB poll just to help me decide which one I should choose!

SO!

The best part of all is that I’m not that only who gets to benefit from Rockin’ Baby’s generosity. Not only did they provide a sling for me to review, but they’re also giving one away to one of you lucky ducks.

To be entered to win, simply a) comment with a time when baby-wearing saved your bacon (mine would definitely be that time I carried Ezra all over New York City for 9 straight hours; not sure my shoulders have ever been the same, but it sure was convenient!), or, if you’ve never used a baby-carrier,  b) tell me about why you want to start now.

For extra entries, you can like the Rockin’ Baby Facebook Page or share about this giveaway via any form of social media (just be sure to leave me a comment telling me where you shared).

*Entries only open to residents of U.S. and Canada. Giveaway closes Monday, April 20 at 11:59 PM.

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A Jamberry Jamboree (+ a Giveaway for YOU!)

It’s always fun when blogging buddies go way back as real-life buddies too, which is exactly the case with my friend, Kelli, from Eat Pray Read Love. She and I grew up in the same small East Texas town, and it was really fun to reconnect over blogging years later and then over our shared love of scoring cheap deals (she’s great at money-saving tips and tricks and has tons of ideas on her blog), BODYCOMBAT, and small humans (she has four of her own).

kelli

{Here she is with her pastor-hubby}

So, when she reached out and asked if I’d like to give Jamberry Nails a try, I bit. Hard. I mean, I’ve been pretty open here about my less-than-stellar nails. Also, my polish addiction. And while I can see a big difference in the appearance/health of my nails when I use It Works Hair Skin and Nails (my hair stylist told me the other day that my nails were so shiny, they looked buffed), I’m never going to have diamond-hard nails with lovely white tips. Which is fine. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them anyway.

But I still like to keep them looking decent, which is why I try to apply a quick coat of paint every so often. Problem is, between washing dishes and wiping behinds and sudsing up small bodies at bath time, the paint usually only lasts a day…two, if I’m lucky.

Which is why I was especially intrigued–not only by all the cute patterns that Jamberry offers–but by the claims that their wraps stay put for two weeks +.

Do WHAT?!

I had a hard time believing it, but people I trusted (Kelli among them) were raving about these suckers.

So, I chose a fun, funky pattern called Birds of a Feather, and Kelli kindly popped them in the mail for me.

When they arrived, I carefully read through the included instructions and then started applying them…while my girls and I watched Young Victoria (we’ve been on a Jane Austen + period movie kick lately).

Honestly, I felt a bit unsure that I was doing it right and super-awkward. But I didn’t let that deter me. I had fully expected a learning curve. I also expected the process to be slow. I tend to be painfully methodical the first time I do anything, so when I finally finished my left hand after about 40 minutes of stop-start wrapping, I decided to call it good for the moment. Or rather I had to decide that or run out of time to get my children ready for the gym.

Here’s what I had at that point.

jamberryIG

Y’all.

I walked around with only my left hand done for…10 days. Ridiculous, I know. But the good news is that–even though my wraps had numerous little imperfections in the seal, due to my novice application–those babies hung in there for 10 days!

Of course, the second I posted the above pic to FB, I got a deluge of advice from Jamberry lovers about the best application process.

One particular term kept popping up, and it was intriguing enough that I tracked down this video of “the baggie method,” on Youtube. (Seriously. If you’re a Jamberry user and haven’t watched this yet, DO IT! So helpful).

People, if only I had done this the first time. I mean, yes, the instructions that come with the product are clear and good enough (potentially), but the whole stretching thing the lady in the video describes along with her method of simply clipping the ends instead of filing them…game-changers.

jamberry

{Ezra took this pic. Impressive, right?}

My second application took about 50 minutes total (still not fast, but I was going step by step through the process of the video, so it was kind of like starting over), and, whereas last time, my feelings at the end were, Maaaaaaybe I did that sort of right?…this time I feel confident that my jams will at least match the record set by their poorly applied predecessors. And I could feel myself getting faster and faster the more than my muscle memory absorbed the process.

jamberry1

(Couldn’t resist including the slightly creepy, blurry Evy-head in the background :) )

ANYhoo, here’s the short list of what I like about my wraps:

  • They stay on forever. Seriously. 10 + days is an eternity for your nails to look decent.
  • They look fabulous on short nails. I keep cutting mine down, down, down to avoid the inevitable peeling I always experience at the tips, and even though it didn’t even seem like there was that much for the wraps to adhere to on some nails, they immediately made my stubby nails look pretty.
  • They come in pretty much an endless array of colors + patterns.
  • Each set gives you enough wraps to do your full nails twice + a pedicure (you’d have to do some trimming, but it’s not very hard).

As far as cons:

  • The time it takes to apply them is really my only complaint. But after only two applications, I can tell that I’m already getting a lot faster and more confident with the process, and I can only see that improving over time and with repetition. And plus, even if you wear them daily, if you get a good seal, you shouldn’t have to put them on again for 2 weeks. (TWO!)

I’m already dreaming up the next pattern + color combo I’d like. Here are some of my faves.

jamberry collage

Also, ALSO, Kelli is being kind enough to give away a single sheet of Jamberry Nail Wraps (you’ll have your choice of several options), a file, and an orange stick to one lucky gal!

jamberrygiveaway

All you have to do to be entered is answering the following question using the options I’ve given you below.

Have you ever tried Jamberry Nail Wraps?

A) No, but I’d love to get my hands on some (hardy-har…punny)

B) Yes, but I’d love to get my hands on more

C) No, but my interest ends with the giveaway

D) Yes, but my interest ends with the giveaway

If you answer A or B, then Kelli will follow up with you about getting some Jamberry for yourself!

Also, also, ALSO (forget useful terms like “P.S.”), Kelli and I are hosting an online Jamberry party. Which is basically my greedy little way of saying, if you are intrigued by the wraps and want to try/buy for yourself, then would you pretty please do it at my party? (I know, I know. What an opportunist).

But seriously, no hard feelings if you don’t. I’m a fan either way.

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Well, this is Younique! (BB review + a Giveaway for YOU!)

If y’all remember, I did a review of Younique 3D fiber lashes, eye pigments, and brushes about a year ago. I was really impressed with everything I tried, so when my friend, Crystal, whom I’ve known since middle school, asked me if I’d like to try out Younique’s BB Cream, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

crustal1

{Such a pretty girl, inside and out}

The fact that I’d just bought a drugstore BB Cream that was not working for me at all miiiiiight have contributed to my eagerness to test out a more high-quality product.

Here’s the thing. I don’t have the best skin in the world. I don’t have the worst skin in the world either. But it’s just not naturally flawless (or even unnaturally flawless…never flawless is the idea). I’m super-fair (but with the 5,348 pictures of me on this here blog, I’m guessing you already knew that), which means that I’m prone to fine lines and wrinkles. And pretty much constant blemishes + splotchy redness scream, “Hormones were here.” (Hormones? Me, a mother of 6? Never). Not to mention my under-eye circles that stick around long after my babies start sleeping through the night.

Enter my skin’s saving grace: BB cream. I can’t do full-on foundation. It’s just too heavy for me. I end up looking like I have stage makeup on. And while, with three girls 4 and under, there’s enough drama for a dozen Tony awards a day up in here, I’d really rather one of them not be for “Best Cake Face.”

But a good BB cream gives me the right base I need for adding powder or one of my other fancy tricks…like, I don’t know, concealer (I know! What’s next? Contouring??).

Of course, a bad BB cream…well, that just makes things worse.

But I am very happy to report to that Younique’s Flawless BB Cream is not a bad one. It is, by far, the best one I’ve tried, in fact.

Here is my face au naturel. Well, there’s some leftover Sunday morning + afternoon nap eye makeup, but I’m not wearing anything on my skin.

no makeup

Honestly, while I did nothing to this picture except lighten it a bit, since it was taken in a rather dark room, it’s kinder than it should be. I didn’t get a chance to take pictures until late afternoon, and the lighting just wasn’t there for a super-sharp picture. So, feel free to imagine lots more wrinkles and blotchiness because they’re there.

Normally, I would apply a layer of moisturizer with sunscreen before anything else, but I wanted to show how smoothly Younique’s BB cream goes on unmoisturized skin, so I skipped that step this time.

bb cream

It’s not a huge difference (which I like; I still want to look like me), and I have yet to tackle my under-eye circles in this pic, but my skin is considerably more even-toned and less ghostly (but not orange! not a fan of the orange look) after nothing more than a layer of BB cream.

Just so you know, here is my entire arsenal of skin makeup.

makeupselection

After concealer, a good pass with the powder/foundation sponge, some mascara, and lip gloss, here is what I end up with.

full makeup

Yes, I realize that it looks like I got all sneaky and changed lighting on purpose, but, honestly, my photographer (AKA Shaun) was out working in the garden with the boys, and by the time I finished my primping, we had lost our light for photos anyway, so a yellow bathroom light selfie it was!

So, here are my thoughts on Younique BB Flawless Complexion Enhancer:

PROS

  • It’s super creamy and has a nice “weight” to it, which means that it slides across my semi-dry skin with ease and soaks in nicely
  • It matches my skin tone perfectly. Like spot-on. Crystal told me she uses this shade (Bisque) for tons of her clients, and it works well on a variety of skin tones.
  • It smooths/evens out my blotchiness and tones down blemish redness.
  • It covers much better than any other cream I’ve tried (which are all a little too sheer) but isn’t thick and cakey like foundation.

CONS

  • It doesn’t come with a built-in sunscreen.

That’s really it. I love everything else about this cream, and I plan on reordering it as soon as I run out.

Also, I read recently that it’s a common misconception that when you layer moisturizer with sunscreen + makeup with sunscreen that you can add the coverage together for a combined total of the two SPFs. The actual truth, apparently, is that they cancel each other out a bit, and you can take an average of the two (ergo: 50 SPF + 20 SPF = 35 SPF).

So, I’m actually better off wearing a moisturizer with high SPF as my base (which is what I do anyway) and adding a BB cream without SPF on top of that.

Now, if only I could find a concealer that banishes under-eye circles to the 7th level of you-know-where…where they belong. (Feel free to throw suggestions my way).

ANYhoo, after that glowing review (har, har…glowing…for a skincare review…good one, Abs), I’m sure you’re all dying to try some Younique products for yourself.

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

One lucky duck will win a Younique lip gloss in their best-selling shade (read: universally flattering), Luxe.

lip gloss1

AND I’ll even send it to you in an adorable pouch of your color choice!

lip gloss

Also, if you’re interested in getting some other products for yourself, Crystal’s got you covered! (You can also contact her at cmada{at}aol{dot}com. And she has tons of great pics and tips on her Facebook page).

All you have to do to be entered to win is answer the following question, using the options I’ve provided.

Have you ever tried any Younique makeup products?

A) No, but I would like to

B) Yes, but I would like to try more

C) No, but my interest in Younique products ends with the giveaway

D) Yes, but my interest in the Younique products ends with the giveaway

{If you answer A or B, Crystal will follow up with you about getting your hands on products!}

Just be sure to leave some way for me to contact you if you win!
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It Works! (Review + GIVEAWAY!)

Hey guys! I want you to meet one of my best friends.  This is Lindsay.

menlindsay

{We snapped this ultra-cute shot–hashtag sarcasm–right before working up a major sweat in BODYCOMBAT this past Monday}

She’s a mama (of 3 really stinkin’ cute kids), a fellow BODYCOMBAT enthusiast (she’s the most motivating person to have in class because she kicks and yells like nobody’s business, even when everybody else is acting like they need their 6th round of coffee for the day; I love it!), and she is a ridiculously talented artist (you’ve actually seen some of her work before when she made us 3 fun “M is for Mama” printables last year for Mother’s Day) and you can see more of it on her IG feed.

Above all, though, she’s one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met. You know those people that are just genuinely excited for you when something good happens? No envy. No resentment. Yeah. That’s Lindsay.

The funny thing is that, although we’ve gotten to know each other best over the past two-ish years, we actually met almost 10 years ago when we both started teaching at the same Christian school. Now, almost a decade and 9 (!!!) kids later, it’s cool to see how the Lord crossed our paths again during a time when I needed a friend just like her.

So, why the introduction?

Well, Lindsay recently started a business with It Works Global,  and I thought it would be fun to partner up with her to introduce you guys to some of the products and have a little giveaway (more on that in a minute).

I originally signed up as one of Lindsay’s loyal customers (to receive a monthly item) about 4 months ago because I’d heard/seen great things about the products and because I wanted to get the 40% discount. And then this month, I switched my status from Loyal Customer to Distributor because it gets me the same discount, while helping Lindsay out more. Plus, she seems fine with my being a “lame duck distributor” (I am NO salesperson) who doesn’t actually distribute anything, and I get more perks/free products to try out this way. Win!

I had already tried It Works #1 selling Ultimate Body Applicator–AKA “skinny wraps”–(and written a review about my experience) about 2 years ago after the twins were born, but I was most curious about their Hair Skin and Nails product, since I’ve decided to grow my hair out and was hoping to get any help that I could.

I had great plans of doing a proper before and after series for my hair progress, but 3rd trimester pregnancy + holiday busyness kind of derailed that idea.

Still, I did manage a (rather strange-looking) “before,” which looks a little something like this:

beforehair

Less than 3 weeks later (easy to remember because it was my birthday), my hair looked like this:

hairafter2weeks

I could already see a difference in my, well, hair, skin, and nails (imagine that). Oh, and eyelashes too!

You can see the progression a little better in these preggo update shots which span 4 weeks.

hair progress

I faithfully used the HSN for two months, and in that time, my hair grew about an 1 1/2″, my nails were less brittle (I have pathetic, peely, McAwful nails), and my skin looked more even (although it’s hard to tell how much of the skin brightening can be attributed to HSN and how much was happy pregnancy hormones).

I’ve continued using it, albeit more sparingly, because I decided to switch my monthly product up a bit and try the exfoliating peel.

exfoliating

I LOVE this one! I have combination skin that tends toward the dry side, and I really dig that I can use this twice a week and get baby-soft, smooth, more even-looking skin without that tight, dry feeling that most exfoliating masks leave me with. Huge win for me!

The most recent product I ordered is their defining gel after Lindsay sent me some pretty impressive before and after shots of how it has helped folks with varicose veins (I mentioned several times that I suffered from an especially bad case of these in my right leg this pregnancy, and while they are much improved since Theo showed up, they’re not completely gone).

I haven’t used the defining gel yet, but I’ll be sure to take befores/afters and let you know how it works for me because I know a lot of you had the same issues with your pregnancies.

Finally, I scored a set of Ultimate Body Applicators (or “wraps,” as everyone who wants a little less of a mouthful calls them) on a major Black Friday sale and squirreled them away for after Theo came. Honestly, I wasn’t planning on ordering any wraps when I signed up with Lindsay, since I was more interested in the other products, but after liking my results from everything I’ve tried so far, I decided to give the wraps another go.

I checked with my midwife first, who was familiar with It Works products and compared the use of the wraps to other detoxing agents such as Kombucha tea, and when she gave me the green light, I wrapped myself three different times (waiting the recommended 72 hours between each application) and took some progress pics for my own sake and to show you guys.

Here’s what I ended up with.

I used the first wrap on January 13th, 2 weeks after Theo was born and the last on January 19th.

frontviewcollage

sideshotcollage

It’s easier to see in the side shots, but my measurements changed considerably–decreasing by a total of 3 1/2″ (2″ from the smallest part of my waist, 1/2″ from right below the belly button, 1″ from my “love handles”).

I can also see a big difference in the smoothness of my skin. I’d show you, but then I’d have to kill you. ;)

I’m pleased with my results so far and am interested to see what happens if I wrap different sections (like my back instead of my front or maybe even my legs).

One thing I like about It Works products is that they claim to be whole-food based, non-GMO, and pesticide free. Plus, I can actually see/look up all of the ingredients listed on the back of each product.

I watched my milk supply and Theo’s reaction closely as I was wrapping and didn’t notice anything different or adverse except that last night, my milk supply seemed lower than usual (this was after not having used a wrap for 2 days, though). I realized I hadn’t drunk as much water as usual (they recommend drinking as much as you possibly can to flush toxins out of your system) and started guzzling. By Theo’s 4 AM feeding, my milk supply was back, and I haven’t had any more problems.

So…

Why the It Works infomercial? (I think this is the longest review I’ve ever given to one brand–well–ever).

Because a) I like them, and I like passing things I like along to you guys, b) I love how Lindsay has introduced me to It Works products in such a non-pushy way that it has kept our friendship intact while still allowing me to support her as she works hard to reach her goals (a majorly tricky tightrope to walk), and…

c) Lindsay and I giving away an Ultimate Body Applicator to THREE of you lucky folks!

Yippeee!

If you have some New Year’s health resolutions, this could be a fun (free!) way to keep the ball rolling.

All you have to do to enter is answer the following question:

Have you ever tried an Ultimate Body Applicator (It Works wrap)?

If you would, please choose one of the following as your answer:

A) No, but I AM interested in trying It Works products
B) Yes, but I’d still love to try more products
C) No, but not interested outside of the giveaway
D) Yes, but my interest stops with the giveaway

If you choose A or B, don’t forget to leave some contact info because Lindsay will be contacting you with more info about products or how to be a product-tester! (Or you can contact her via her website). 

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And the winner is…

Seeing as how Theo is already a week old (WHAT???!), I suppose I should announce the winner of our #babynumber6 guessing game.

ezratheo

(P.S. I’ll be back to posting regularly soon, but, in the meantime, if you want to see more “behind-the-scenes” footage from everyday life, not to mention lots more adorable pics of Monsieur Theodore, feel free to follow along on Instagram. I’m @misformama).

The thing is, out of the 240ish votes, 4 of them were so close that I really couldn’t decide which was the winner (everyone was off by a little bit on one of the factors other than the correct date). So, rather than attempt some sort of mathematically accurate weighting system that would surely cause my sleep-deprived brain to explode, I threw all four names in a hat and had my 7-year-old draw one.

And the winner is…abby ochs

{I promise no favoritism took place as a result of her extra-awesome name :) }

Abby predicted that Theo would come on December 30th @ 5:42 PM and would measure 8 lbs. 7 oz and 21″.

Which is pretty impressive since his actual stats were: December 30th, 10:33 AM, 8 lbs. 6 oz., and 21″.

Abby, you won this little prize package:

Theoprize

…which includes:

  • A polka dot pouch
  • A pack of floral pencils
  • A set of striped clothespins
  • A camera necklace (oh snap! sorry…I had to)
  • A teal ombre scarf

Shoot me a message with your address at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll get your goodies in the mail!

Thanks to everybody who played along and for all of your sweet well-wishes since Theo arrived.

I’m in the process of writing up his birth story, but as we all know by now, I am a woman of many words and–especially right now–little time. I’ll do my best to have something later on this week.

Until then, please know that I appreciate y’all so much. You are the sweetest reader-friends a girl could hope for!

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