Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Make Me Up

One things that drew me to Beautycounter was that in addition to two great skincare lines, they also offer toxic-free makeup.  I love makeup (especially blush and eyeliner!), so finding safe makeup that is also beautiful and effective was exciting to me.  And I understand that people may be hesitant to make a big shift in their skincare regime, so our makeup can be a great place to begin.

Celebrities, style magazines and makeup artists love our makeup! Lauren Conrad (whatever you think of her, you must admit she always looks great!) keeps our Tint Skin in her makeup bag - it is light weight and hydrating like a tinted moisturizer, but can also perform like a foundation depending on how it's applied (you can layer for more coverage).   Putting the Tint Skin on is a breeze with the Retractable Complexion Coverage Brush.

We have four stunning shades of eye shadow duos and three colors of eye liner (plus brow pencils too).  We have three beautiful blush duos to choose from and two bronzers.  For Spring I am loving loving the Flamingo/Apricot blush duo.

And let's not forget about the lips!  We have flattering shades of Lip Sheers to complete your look- check them out, along with all the great makeup here!

So what's in my makeup bag?  Here's one of my favorite combinations right now!

Tint skin in Linen
Concealer Pen in Light
Blush Duo in Bloom/Tulip
Eye Duo in Shell/Malt
Eye Pencil in Black
Lip Sheer in Plum

I know you'll love this makeup if you try it!! And if you order today (March 31st) I'll reimburse you for your shipping!  What are you waiting for?  It's time to get safe, beautiful products in YOUR hands! Let me and Beautycounter help!

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Should've Known

I've been at this working mom gig for over 4 years now. I should've known better than to make such a silly declaration that I'm "OK" with my current setup. I suppose on the whole I am, but less than a week after writing that post, I had a mini-mom-meltdown and thought how much better it would be on everyone in our family if I didn't have to rush off to work every morning. I had visions of quitting and just being a mom.

This morning was a disaster. Lukas was in tears. I was in tears. And before 8am I had to sit my son down and apologize to him for getting upset with him. I had to ask him to forgive mommy for not being patient with him. And it broke my heart when he said, with tears in his eyes, "Mommy, you made me sad and mad." All I wanted to do in that moment was reverse time. I wanted a do-over. But all I could do was say I was sorry.

I hate that I rush him in the mornings because I need to get out the door. I hate that I expect things of him that I shouldn't for a 4 year old. I hate that I made him cry this morning. And I hate that I won't be the one to pick him up from school today. I hate that our week started off on such a bad note.

I know tomorrow is a new day and I can only try to have more patience going forward. But it still breaks my heart when I realize I'm not being the best mom I can be for my boys. 

And just like that, all the confidence I had in this working mom situation has gone out the window. And so it goes.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

To the Working Moms

I just realized I've shared three different articles on Facebook in the last couple of weeks about working moms. I've also had an ongoing dialogue with some other female lawyers (moms and not) about the retention (or lack thereof) of women in the legal community. And then I realized it's been a while since I've talked about my own feelings as of late about being a working mom, so I thought it'd be a fun topic for today.

I'm in my 8th year as a lawyer.  I worked full time in a large firm of over 500 attorneys up until this past July when I took a little over 2 months off to move to Macon and get settled. The plan was then to work part time remotely for my firm and go into the office in Atlanta as needed for meetings, but that plan was put on hold when I was loaned out to a corporation here in Macon where I'm currently an acting in-house counsel while their hiring freeze continues.  I'm working full time again. 

Then about a month ago I started my own business as a Beautycounter consultant. So I'm currently working 40 hours a week as a lawyer and about another 10-15 hours a week on getting my Beautycounter business up and running.  I also write as a guest blogger for the 360 Parenting website. So I'm working more now than perhaps I ever have, certainly since I've been a mom.

But the strange thing is that for the most part I am completely comfortable with the amount of time I'm working and the amount of time I'm spending with my family and on myself. I have not always been in this state of mind. (Seriously, just ask my co-workers, friends and husband and they'll tell you I was a hot mess a little over a year ago with my work-life balance. There was zero balance and I was on the verge of a breakdown most days of the week. I cried in front of my boss on more than one occasion - not my best moments - and I really did not think I could continue juggling everything.)

So why the shift?  

14 months ago, at the height of my feelings of "too muchness", I had a six month old who was wearing a helmet to correct his misshapen head. I was a nursing mom of said six month old baby working full time as a lawyer (pumping breastmilk at the office is totally relaxing and awesome, said no-mom-ever). My house was on the market. My husband was looking for a new job. I had a three year old in addition to the infant. We spent 25-40 minutes commuting from daycare to home every day. My body was not quickly bouncing back from baby and at only 6 months-postpartum, my hormones were still raging.  It was just too much.

A lot has changed since then.  Julian is now a 20 month old toddler who is running around at full speed with a round head (though admittedly the helmet would come in handy now given his proclivity for falling). I stopped nursing a long time ago. My lawyer job now ends at 4:30 every day. My house doesn't need to be spotless every morning before I leave (thank heavens for that). My husband has a job he loves with only a 10-15 minute commute. My 4 year old is at an awesome age and loving his preschool. I commute 6 minutes to work and have the world's most amazing nanny pick my boys up from school and watch them in the afternoon. I'm feeling great about my body and thanks to my nutritionist and a recently discovered thyroid issue, my hormones are chilling the fuck out. And everyone around me is very grateful for that.

So yes, my life is very different today than it was in the early months of 2014.  But I'm still working a lot. I'm still not my children's primary caregiver during the hours of 8-5. Yet I'm really OK with that. I think there are a few reasons for that. 

I'm finally doing a job (albeit as a side gig) that I am loving. I've always suspected that I'd be more OK with being a working mom if I were spending my time away from the boys working on something I was passion about, something I believed in and something that I felt was impactful. I'm getting that from Beautycounter. I don't get that as a lawyer.  Along the same lines, I'm connecting with others in a way that I don't as a lawyer. This morning before my lawyer job, I had a quick one-on-one with a girlfriend. I loved seeing her in person and getting out from behind a desk and a stack of papers. I'm a people person, and I like seeing people!

My lack of time in the car is not something to be discounted. I remember listening to a lecture a few years back from a women's law group about how to "have it all".  One of the women said she doesn't go outside of a 2 mile radius of her house. Her children's school, her office, her church, her dry cleaners, they are all within this circle. At the time I thought it was an interesting idea but one I could never implement. Well, I've drawn a 5 mile radius around our house and sticking within it as much as possible - the boys' school, my office, our grocery store. I'm not spending extra time in a car.  And it is Fabulous. (Yes, with a capital F).

We hired super nanny.  I'm not kidding, our nanny is amazing. She is great with kids and she has helped me in ways I didn't expect. She helps with things around the house (including laundry!) and runs those random errands I always seem to forget (the cat thanks her often). She helps teach the boys manners and works with L on his letters. She taught J to eat with a fork. She meets me at the tee ball field with the boys so I'm not racing around after work. She stays late so the husband and I are able to go on regular date nights and keep our marriage a priority, which is so huge for our boys. She's been a true blessing in our lives and I think every working mom deserves a helper like her, even if just for a few hours each week.

But aside from all these things, which admittedly are major changes that not all working moms may be able (even desire) to make, I think the biggest reason I'm comfortable with being a working mom right now is because of the stage my children are in. It is hard to remember that children and mommy-ing go through stages and each has its own difficulties. That first year of a child's life is so full of these stages and I really wish the United States would hurry up and pass some legislation providing maternity benefits to all mothers. A full year off, without losing your job, would be ideal in my opinion. Or being able to go back at very reduced hours after six months or so. Because that first year is filled with so many emotions and sleepless nights and teething and feeding issues and bonding time and hormonal craziness. Did I mention the sleeplessness? I really believe that the legal community and other industries are going to continue losing out on kick-ass workers because that first year of being a mom is so difficult for many of us.

As I've mentioned, we hope baby #3 will be more than just an idea sometime later this year, but my biggest hesitation is going through that first year again. Infants are so adorable (as I was reminded when holding my dear friend's 4 month old this past weekend), but being a new mom is hormonally and emotionally taxing.  And I'm worried about going through that again and trying to keep my wits and my day job. I know it is only a phase, but it was harder for me the 2nd time around than the first, so what will the 3rd time around be like? And I feel like I'm upending the apple cart when I finally feel like I've hit my groove. But my mind's made up. God-willing the boys will get a sibling in 2016. And I'll figure it out when the time comes.

So for you working mommas out there struggling through that first year, you CAN do it.  You can, because you are. It doesn't have to look pretty. You don't have to be perfect. And your skinny jeans don't damn well need to fit any time soon.  Just take it one day at a time. And remember that you are a great mom! Even if you occasionally cry in your male boss's office. Just blame it on the hormones sister!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Apparently I'm Hormonally out of Whack (And a Giveaway)

About seven weeks ago I went for my yearly physical. I hadn't had one in many years though so perhaps it should be called my half decade-ly physical. When you're pregnant (which I have been twice in the past 5 years) you go to the doctor so often that it hadn't really occurred to me to get a physical.

At the time I made the appointment (back in October), I was in a rough place with my anxiety and panic. I figured I needed medication, either anti-anxiety or anti-depressant, or both. But I didn't know what type of "ist" to go to so I thought I'd start with a GP.  (I get confused by psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist - who does what? Who prescribes meds? Etc.) Having just moved to a new town, I didn't have a doctor yet, but a friend gave me the name of her doctor along with a glowing recommendation and thankfully she took our insurance. So I decided she was a good start. But I had to wait until February to get an appointment. Rather than scheduling something sooner with another doctor I just figured I could hold out a few more months.

In the meantime I started going to Svast Nutrition and started a program called Nutrition Response Testing with my practitioner, Kajal.  The initial evaluation showed I was all out of whack. Hypothalamus. Sigmoid Colon. Heart. Anxiety. Brain. High levels of toxins. And a bunch of other things that were in line with some of the symptoms I was experiencing. So I started my regimen of whole food supplements and haven't had a panic attack since the first week of starting the program in December. (Coincidence?  Doubtful). And my stomach issues (which we won't get into here...) have finally gone away. That alone would've been enough for me to believe in the program.  But there's more.

So the months ticked off and eventually it was time for my physical with the GP. Always the best part of any doctor's visit was my meeting with the scale - at only 5 foot 4 (on a good day) I weighed 141 pounds. Within the "healthy" BMI range, but too much weight given my slight frame and bone structure. Yet, no matter what I did this weight wouldn't seem to go down much. I have struggled with this for years and don't talk about it often, but even though I work out and eat healthy, it seemed that one cheat meal would always throw any weight lost right back on. I weighed 137 when I got pregnant with both boys and put on weight during both pregnancies rapidly, hitting over 200 when I was pregnant with Lukas.  Luckily I didn't gain as much with Julian but it has been an even bigger struggle coming off this time.

Another fun part of the physical was going to the lab for blood work.  My doctor called me the next day to tell me my thyroid numbers were off.  She gave me the option of starting medicine that day, or waiting 6 weeks to retest and see if my numbers were in the normal range then (to see if perhaps it was a fluke - if you've recently been sick, your thyroid numbers can apparently be off). But she asked if I was experiencing hair loss, constipation, difficulty losing weight and/or lethargy - all symptoms of thyroid imbalance.  Yes, yes, yes and yes.  She'd have preferred I started taking the meds right away, but was OK with my waiting.  I really wanted to see if Kajal and I could work on it first, so I chose to delay for six weeks.

Oh, and my GP also told me she wanted me to take an anti-depressant for the panic attacks. The goal, she said, is to not have an attack for 6 months so you don't go deeper into social phobia (the fear is that you are so afraid of having a panic attack that you stop going out and avoid all social interactions).  I understood her reasoning, but I really didn't want to mask the problem, I wanted to fix it. So again, I said no thank you, but I did accept the prescription for as-needed Xanax. Which I actually have yet to need.

That same week I went to Kajal and told her about this thyroid problem.  She tested my thyroid and, sure enough, she found the same thing - it wasn't working properly. So she muscle tested various supplement options and found some that my body responded to and I've been taking those for the past 7 weeks.  In that time I've lost 11 pounds. Honest to God, I stepped on the scale this morning and it said 130.0.  I haven't changed my workout routine. I haven't restricted my calories to some crazy amount (although I have cut out foods that Kajal found to be a problem for me at the moment, namely wheat, spelt, rye, honey, soy, pasteurized milk and added sugar).  When I went to Kajal last week and she retested my thyroid, it was back to normal (actually it had swung too much the other way, so we're working on getting it in the normal range).

I go back to the doctor for my blood work this week and I'm interested to see what the labs say.  But I'm pretty confident it'll be back in the normal range, though I suppose my blood will tell.

While I'm excited that I appear to have been able to start healing my body through the use of whole food natural supplements and diet changes, I want to know WHY my body isn't working properly in the first place.  So I've started doing a lot of research and reading about toxins and food sensitivities and how our food is made and what goes into the products we use. And how do those products affect our health? What I'm finding is one of the main reasons I joined Beautycounter. It is why I have stopped using anti-antiperspirant and have switched over to natural deodorant. It is why I am replacing my plastic tupperware with glass (turns out the BPA Free label is great until you ask what they replace the BPA with).  I feel like my eyes are being opened to things I'd never really thought about before.  Admittedly, I'm turning into one of those people I used to roll my eyes at, but I'm OK with that. 

If you're at all curious about environmental toxins, I think a great place to start is reading the book Little Changes, Tales of a Reluctant Home Eco-Momics Pioneer by Kristi Marsh.  She is a mother of 3 who was otherwise healthy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s. A situation that seems all too common these days. I'm loving this book and think you will too. In fact, I have an extra copy that I would love to give away to one reader.  To enter - just leave a comment below and let me know if you've read up on toxins or why you're interested in learning more or if you've had any personal experience with toxins and your health.  The giveaway will be close this Friday at midnight - I'll randomly select one winner and send you the book!

Oh, and stay tuned for the results of my blood test....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Skin Deep App

Have you guys heard of EWG's Skin Deep app?  I just learned about it a few months ago and am so happy I did.  EWG (the Environmental Working Group) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.  Their mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. "EWG drives consumer choice and civic action with its game-changing investigations and research on toxics and environmental health, food and agriculture, and water and energy."  Learn more about EWG here.

So the app has a barcode scanner that you can use in the store to scan any product before you buy it to see how its hazard score ranks from 0-10.  It also tells you whether a product has No, Low, Moderate or High Health Concerns for Cancer, Development/Reprotoxicity and Allergies.  You can also test any products you currently have to see how they score.  It was eye-opening for me to say the least!  

Check out the score of your sunscreens, kids products, shampoo, makeup, cleansers - any products you use that are being absorbed through your skin! And then ask yourself why companies are making potentially harmful products when it IS possible to make great products without these ingredients, as proven by Beautycounter.  The reason is because they are allowed to under the current laws in the United States. For me, that is unacceptable.  I want to know that the products I'm using on my skin and on my babies skin are safe. It is time for the US to catch up with Europe and start prohibiting the use of these products.  But until then, know that there are safe, effective products you can buy.  So after testing your current products, come on over to Beautycounter and find a safe replacement.  You won't regret it!

And a fun comparison of my old shampoo vs. Beautycounter's CLEAN Shampoo:

My Old Shampoo 
(I'm not into bashing other brands, so I've chosen to not list the name of the Shampoo):

Beautycounter Clean Shampoo:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Finding Your Path

I've written at least 5 iterations of the below blog post over the past 7.5 years that I've been an attorney (I know this because they're all saved on my computer.). I write them and then never publish them. Never wanting to say it aloud for some reason. Usually getting the words out on paper is enough for me to get over my temporary law slump.  But today I'm putting it out there because today I'm finally feeling OK about being a lawyer. I'll explain in a bit...

I think I picked the wrong profession.  There. I said it.

I've never once met someone who asked me what I did and replied with conviction, "I'm a lawyer!". My response is more muted. Almost an apology. Always with a hint of regret and resignation to this career.

The follow up question usually requires me to explain how this happened. My response, loaded with more regret, is simple and full of active choices on my part.  This didn't just happen to me. I picked this.

I didn't want to go to college right after high school since I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, being that I was barely 18 at graduation. My parents didn't see eye to eye with me on this, especially since I qualified for free college tuition at any state school so long as I maintained a B average once there.

So I enrolled and joined the business school at the suggestion of my father who had an MBA. I had little direction of my own, so I agreed. Once it was time to declare a major, I selected finance since I'd always been good at math. Four years later I graduated magna cum laude. Turns out I was a decent finance major.

I still lacked direction. I moved to the beach and drank a lot of wine for four months. At some point my parents urged me to find something to do and a GMAT book and an LSAT book landed in my lap. I hated the GMAT studies but for some reason enjoyed the LSAT problems. So I signed up for the October LSAT and bought myself more time in further keeping the real world at bay. It was decided, I would go to law school the following Fall.

And so my profession was picked.

A year internship at a law firm before starting school; 1L year filled with anxiety and depression; a summer spent at legal aid; 2L year filled with less Socratic method and meeting my future husband; a summer spent at the law firm I'd interned with and a job offer to return after graduation; 3L year filled with fun and the knowledge that I had secured a job; an awful summer studying for the bar exam; the Bar; a fabulous 3 week trip to Europe; and 7.5 years of practice as a banking and finance transactional lawyer.

I don't love it. I'm not sure I even like it. In fact, there are things about this profession that I down right loathe. Other attorneys is the main one. Specifically, having to negotiate with other attorneys. I've had too many bad interactions to call those a fluke. A lot of attorneys get into the profession because they enjoy debating and arguing. I do not. I try to avoid confrontation. In this profession, it is unavoidable, even as a transactional lawyer. Turns out I was wrong in thinking that only litigators get into heated arguments.

I've had attorneys question my ethics. I've had attorneys ask to speak to a male instead of me. I've had one attorney ask "Where did you even go to law school?" after being so exacerbated from dealing with me. (He wasn't getting his way). I've had attorneys literally scream at me through the phone. I've had men tell me how many years they've been practicing (as intimidation and in argument that I couldn't possibly be right given my short tenure). I've had someone say to me "I went to Harvard law school!" (again as an argument/intimidation). I've been made to cry on more than one occasion because I've felt so beaten down by these lawyers.  The code of civility must go out the window for many the day Esquire is attached to their name. Or perhaps they never knew such code existed. Or simply don't care.

Don't get me wrong, there are some great, kind lawyers. I'm married to one. Most of my friends are lawyers.  But it is the fear of dealing with these less than kind ones that give me much anxiety in this job. And they can't be avoided.

But more than that, I am not passionate about it. I don't get all excited about reading a 200 page document and drafting an agreement. It is rarely fulfilling.

So why do I stay? Between the two of us, my husband and I left law school with over $100,000 in loans to pay back.  And we didn't go to big fancy firms after school that would pay us enough to pay those loans back any time soon.  Each month, we pay over $1000 in student loans. This is a lot of money, especially now that my husband has taken a pay cut to go work for the government. (Which I don't begrudge in the least.  He, unlike me, was meant to be a lawyer. He loves his job and I'm so happy he does.) So to say money would be tight if I were to stop working (or move to a nonprofit or legal aid type job) would be a huge understatement.  Those loans don't just go away if I decide to hang up my law hat.

So why not find a new career?  Everyone tells you that a law degree is always helpful.  No, no it's not. I've had a few friends try to find non-legal jobs and they haven't found that a JD is helpful in the least. It certainly doesn't give you an edge when you're trying to break into a new profession in which you have no experience.  Nor can you easily change the type of lawyer you are unless you want to hang out your own shingle. I doubt I could find a family law practice or say environmental law group who wants to take an 8th year banking associate with zero experience in those practice areas. So in many ways, I feel stuck.

But aren't those excuses for staying put?  Fear of trying something new?  Yes, they are. I admit it.

So the million dollar question I keep asking myself, What would I do if I could do anything?  What am I passionate about?  What do I want to be now that I'm grown up?

And I don't have an answer.  Which is perhaps the biggest reason I stay.   What would I do?  

I don't feel this weight anymore because I've found the answer to what I'll do. (No, I didn't quit my job.) I'm keeping my day job as a lawyer, but this past month, as I've already mentioned, I joined on as a Consultant with Beautycounter and I love it! I'm also surprised by what I've discovered.  I love the camaraderie of women that I've met virtually in the other Consultants around the country. They are always quick to offer support or advice whenever you ask. (Something other lawyers don't readily do.)  I look forward to speaking with my mentor weekly as her infectious enthusiasm and confidence can't help but flow from her to me. (Another thing lawyers aren't keen on - enthusiasm or confidence building.) I love the products and getting to re-connect with old friends by telling them that there are safe, nontoxic products out there that work. I love the springboard I now have in my quest to make new friends in Macon by being able to simply ask if they've heard of Beautycounter and getting to talk to them about something I'm passionate about. I love the company's mission and am more aware myself of the health consequences of my actions and all the various products I'm using on a daily basis.

I never thought I'd sell beauty products (except for that one time when I was a first year associate and went to a Mary Kay meeting...). I never thought I would enjoy this sort of job as much as I do. But the truth is, Beautycounter is filling in a lot of the emptiness that I felt as a lawyer.  I am connecting with other people face to face.  I also feel like I'm making a difference by spreading the word to people about the lack of regulation in the beauty industry in the United States. (I mean how has the US only banned the use of 11 ingredients but the EU has banned over 1300????)  I'm staying up until midnight every night learning as much as I can about the company and the products and the mission.  And I am loving it.

So while I'm perhaps not "meant" to be a lawyer, it appears I can continue with my day job while also having a job that suits my personality and gets me out of my comfort zone (because selling products is definitely outside my comfort zone, or at least it was!).  Life and the turns it takes continues to surprise me every day. But for now, I'm happy with the path I somehow landed on.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Making Friends

One of the hardest parts about moving is making new friends. It is worse if you're leaving behind strong friendships in your old town, which I recently did when we left Atlanta for Macon. My best friend from law school/maid of honor in my wedding was pregnant with her first child when I left. My trio of best mom friends have been a lifesaver when this mom thing gets to be too much at times. And my work friends were the reason I liked going to work every day. These, and many other friends, were hard to say goodbye to.

Add to the fact that I was moving to a much smaller town where I really knew nobody, and was afraid everyone here had known each other since grade school.  I was worried I'd be lonely and never go out for girls night again. (A bit dramatic? Perhaps). I knew that I would have to actually put myself out there in order to build a support system here and meet new people.  And making friends is akin to dating - so while you're not going to meet Prince Charming sitting on your couch in sweat pants, you're also not going to make any new friends huddled up in your house.

So I've started getting out there, which is difficult for me, especially with the whole panic attack thing.  And contrary to what many might think, I'm actually very shy when I'm first meeting someone. Once we've established that you don't think I'm crazy, I'm a devoted friend who often times can't keep my mouth shut.  But I have trouble opening the door and walking outside. But I'm doing it, even if my husband has to give me a little push. I hesitate before going somewhere but usually enjoy myself once I'm there.

But getting out the door is only one part of the equation. The other is engaging with people when you are out and about (shocking, I know). I've realize that all too often I go where I'm headed, do what I need to do and then leave. But there is so much missed opportunity in just being somewhere. You have to put your phone away and interact with the people around you!

I've met some awesome ladies by putting my fear aside and saying hello...

So far I've made a new friend here by staying after a nutrition talk at my sons' school and chatting with the nutritionist. (Bonus: she's now my nutritionist and I feel amazing since I've started seeing her)!

By lingering at music class and chatting with other moms and the instructor I've met new friends. And the instructor happens to be a doula who I've already decided we'll sign up with for not-yet-conceived baby #3's birth.

My neighbors have turned out to be fantastic and I feel so lucky we moved into this neighborhood and have friends living next door. As I've written about before, I found our fantastic nanny by going out to lunch with one of our neighbors even though I was terrified to go.

And my weirdest place for meeting a friend here has been in the food aisle at Tuesday Morning (and she thankfully has already cured my lack of girls nights out, even after I had a panic attack during our first night out to dinner together - good friend material right there!)

I've also taken the extra step of seeking out the contact info for the boys' school friends' parents and sending out an email with my contact information and asking if they'd like to get together for a play-date. (And apologizing to the one mother for confusing anthropology with paleontology...twice.)

It can be scary to get out of your comfort zone, especially when you're reaching out directly to someone new. The fear of rejection is real! But even though not everyone you meet will be a friend for life, you won't know unless you say hi and ask them on a friend date.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring Break Tips for Working Parents

Check out my latest post over at the Parenting site I write for: Spring Break Tips for Working Parents

I really wish I'd had my sh*t together enough to send this picture of Lukas to go along with the post (not that the stock photo kid isn't cute) - this picture from last May just cracks me up every time.  My little dude.

JJ took his first steps on that trip. Although he still preferred to crawl on the beautiful white sandy beach.

Now if only I actually had some sort of Spring Break trip planned myself....hmm, time to get on that!  I told Mr. Cob the other day that I wanted to go somewhere tropical where I can where a bikini since I finally feel good about my body again. He told me I could wear my bikini around the house since any vacation money we had was about to go into our kitchen renovation.  While I'm sure he'd enjoy the show, I don't think I'll be sporting my swimwear in the house.  It doesn't quite have that same beachy vibe.

30A is calling my name....

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An Update on Life

It's hard to believe that we've been living in Macon for six months. I'm not sure where the time has gone. This move has surprised me in more ways than I could imagine and I'm glad we took a leap in deciding to move here.

I can honestly say I love living here. I am shocked by this more than anyone else. I'll never forget when my husband was applying for AUSA jobs all across the nation (we're talking San Antonio to Detroit to Chicago to DC and everywhere in between), and I had a conversation with one of my best girlfriends about a potential move. I distinctly remember saying to her that I'll follow him anywhere, but I really hope we don't wind up in Macon. I would have rather moved to Fargo, North Dakota (yes, he did apply there) than 90 miles South to such a small town in Middle Georgia. And yet, here we are. How funny life can be.

I didn't think I'd like a smaller town, but it suits me. I enjoy running into people when I'm out and about. I like getting to the boys' school in less than 5 minutes and to my job in just a few more. I love downtown Macon and the beautiful old buildings. I love our neighborhood and our neighbors who let me borrow cat food or powdered sugar when I run out at the most inopportune time and who will watch our animals when we go away for the weekend.  But above all, I love the time that I have gotten back in my daily routine. I have more time with my family since all four of us are back home by 5:30 every day. It is such a blessing.

Lukas has turned into a sweet, silly, funny, transformers-loving and intense 4 year old. He is thriving in his school here and his brain is still in that sponge-state where he absorbs everything. I'm proud of his lack of nerves as he walks into a room of kids he doesn't even know. (Makes you wonder when we lose that confidence.)  He has no problem making friends and loves talking to anyone who will listen!  I have loved watching him play tee ball for the first time this season - especially as he dives/frog-jumps to try to catch a ball or sits down in the outfield to dig for roly polys. He's helping me remember it's not about the outcome, it's about the journey.

Julian is 20 months old this week and he is a pistol. He is all boy and loves doing anything dangerous. If you tell him no, he just looks at you with his big mischievous smile and laughs loudly as he continues to do the thing he has been told not to do. His vocabulary is blowing up these days and I'm loving his little voice. He loves all things Thomas the Train (or "NuNu" as he calls him) and he's also got a strong preference for Bumblebee and Optimus thanks to big brother's Rescue-bot collection. Speaking of Lukas, he loves his big brother and copies everything Lukas does. He's my little peanut who can usually be found running around the house screaming, dancing to whatever tunes are playing or climbing on the furniture.

Mr. Cob loves his job and he's doing a great job.  I'm so proud of him and feel lucky to be his wife. We make a good team. I could gush on and on, but I'll spare y'all a love note.

As for me, I'm doing really good.  I haven't had a panic attack since December!  I've had one flare of heart-racing that quickly went away, but I feel like it's under control. I'm not sure if it is the natural supplements I'm taking or the Xanax I now carry in my purse at all times or the endorphins from working out (perhaps a combination?), but I feel good these days.  I've finally lost all the baby weight too, which is a positive after over a year and half of failing to get there. I'm still not certain what will happen with my legal job, but I'm excited about my side passion project with Beautycounter. I believe in the products and the mission and really want to help people see that everything we put in and ON our bodies makes a difference. It is also good in getting me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to get out there, which is good because I feel like I am finally making some good friends here, which is perhaps the hardest part when you move to a new place. I'm excited about the friendships I'm building and am also relieved that I've been able to maintain my friendships in Atlanta at the same time. It just requires some effort and time.

Maybe it's the sun shining outside or the fact that my husband doesn't need knee surgery like we thought he might, but things are feeling good.  I'm happy we made this move even though it was so scary at first.  So just remember that even if something frightens you, it might just be the best thing for you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Baby #3

Nope, I'm not pregnant. But I hope to be sometime later this year.  It has occurred to me that I rarely come across a blog or hear of any one in real life talk about wanting or trying for another baby. I don't know if that's fear of cursing your efforts by saying the words aloud, or worry that you'll be discriminated against if your job finds out that you're planning to expand your family. (While there's this little law on the books about that, we all know that while you may not be discriminated against per se, some employers will change what assignments they give you or slow your advancement once you become pregnant.)  Or maybe it's just in bad taste to talk about wanting a child, which means you'll be engaging in that taboo subject called sex!.  (I never can remember what Miss Manners thinks on any given topic.)

But the fact of the matter is, we've decided we want another baby. Except for those random moments of fear when I don't.  Let me explain.

In my heart I know our family is not complete. I want a big family. I'm not sure where this came from since I never grew up dreaming about children and quite frankly couldn't stand other people's kids until my nephew came along. I never felt very maternal. But then I become a mom and my life changed.  Those two little boys are my heart. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for them and the joy that they've brought to my life is immeasurable.  They bring a laughter to our home that warms my heart and I just want more of that.

I also want to be pregnant again. I want to watch as my belly expands over those 40 weeks. I want to feel that baby roll around and kick inside me. I want to connect with him or her for 9 months before the rest of the world gets to meet him. It is such a sacred time and a huge part of me would be sad to not experience that miracle again.

I look forward to the ride to the hospital with my husband, with the anticipation being almost too much to bear. I want to feel the pain and know that it will be over eventually and the reward will be this baby being placed on my chest.  I want to lock eyes with him or her and cry over God's grace and magnificence in entrusting another soul to my care.

But then the reality of children comes whining down around me and I wonder why I think I'm equipped to raise another little one. Many days I'm barely holding on by a thread. I already feel spread thin. I question the majority of my parenting decisions and I typically have no clue if I'm doing anything right by Lukas and Julian. Is the answer really adding another baby to the bunch?  Rationally, the answer is no.

But I've decided that there's very little rationale that comes into play in this decision, at least for me. It is an answer wholly from the heart.  And it is confirmed every day when I arrive home from work and Julian's face lights up when he sees me and runs around yelling "MAMA, MAMA" over and over again.  And in the middle of the night when I wake up to little eyes staring at me and Lukas whispering, "Mama, I just need you."  And at bedtime when my singing makes Julian cry and I ask him, "Can mommy sing to you?" and he smiles and laughs but says "No" and then buries his head into my body.  And when I'm cooking in the kitchen to the soundtrack of two boys giggling in the other room as they cause mischief together.

While these two boys are more than enough and I realize many women, especially those struggling with infertility, would love to have just these two boys, I'd love to give them another sibling if possible.  Who knows what is actually in store, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope a positive sign was on the agenda for 2015. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Welcome to Beautycounter

Make-up free thanks to Beautycounter
For years I have considered myself a health conscious person. I read food labels and keep the amount of processed foods I consume to a minimum. I buy organic fruits and vegetables more often than not and I even have a nutritionist helping me attain my optimum health. I was giving a lot of thought and energy into the things that I was putting IN my body but not giving a second thought to what I was putting ON my body.  Then one day it clicked for me: healthily living is more than just what you eat, it truly is a lifestyle!  

So I put my lawyering skills to use and started doing some research into the products I was using on myself and my two young boys. I was surprised to learn that the United States hasn't passed federal legislation regarding the safety of cosmetics since 1938!  So while the Europe Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients that are known toxins (meaning the ingredients have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues and hormone disruptions), these same toxins (except for a mere 11) are not prohibited in the United States and are currently in many of the products you might have in your makeup bag today. Thankfully, Beautycounter is on a mission to effect change!

Beautycounter is setting the definitive higher standard for performance and safety in beauty and personal care products. We aim to become the leader in creating the safest, highest performing, and most beautiful products. It is our goal to make the consumer care as much about product safety and integrity as much as they care about performance and to compel broad-based change in the way products are made. 

I started using Beautycounter products this past year and I, in my perhaps not-so-humble opinion, have never looked better.  I love that the products are safe for me and my babies, but I also love that they work and are true high-end beauty products. So I am so excited to announce the launch of my Beautycounter business! I am here to help you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle by getting safe beauty and personal care products into your hands.  I hope you'll join me in putting the truth back in beauty!