Stitch Fix for Men: The Perfect Gift

Stitch Fix for Men Review

I know, I know — Stitch Fix has been around for a long time. Let’s backtrack to when it came out in 2011, though. I was 24 years old and had a lot of free time on my hands. I still very much enjoyed a day long trip to the mall, and I’m pretty sure that most of my closet consisted of Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe.

I’m known for going outside the box when it comes to gifts — I don’t like to just throw a gift card at someone. For the past few Father’s Days, we’ve either been moving or up to our eyeballs in summer camps and school. This was the first one where we genuinely were able to just exist together as a family and celebrate — I really wanted to acknowledge that.

Kyle and I are both in love with clothing and fashion, especially high quality basics that can be mixed and matched. I decided to surprise him with a Stitch Fix subscription, hoping that he’d like at least one thing in there. The crazy part? We ended up liking the entire box so much that we bought all the pieces!

How Does Stitch Fix Work?

It’s actually pretty simple. You go online, take a detailed style quiz, and they send you your box! You have three days (but you can extend your time) to try things on and send unwanted items back. During the quiz, I answered questions regarding the type of clothing Kyle wears on a regular basis, as well as his preferred fit and what accessories — if any — that he was in need of. I was also able to tell our stylist to skip things he wasn’t looking for, like blazers or belts. You can even set a budget for each specific piece, like jeans, button downs, etc.

You pay a $20 styling fee, which can then be used towards the purchase of something in the box. If you don’t purchase anything in the box, you do lose the styling fee. However, you customize your box and your style to such an extent that the odds are highly in your favor.

What Was in The Box?

Here’s a line-up of what was in Kyle’s first Stitch Fix Box:

Stitch Fix for Men

Alesbury Chambray Long Sleeve Shirt

Stitch Fix for Men

Threads 4 Thought Baseline Triblend Henley

Stitch Fix Father's Day

7 Diamonds Chameleon Geo Print Poplin Shirt

Stitch Fix for Men

Katin Tristan Court Short

Stitch Fix for Men

Mavi Jake Slim Leg Jean

Merchandise Total Value: $317

*Note: you get 25% off each piece if you purchase all box contents.

The Verdict

I think the best part about this box is how well they nailed his style. I also love that there was a piece or two thrown in there that he wouldn’t have necessarily chosen himself, yet when he tried them on, they looked fantastic. I also love that the box comes with style cards, so if you’re not sure what to pair a particular item with, the cards give you realistic inspiration. When you check-out after three days and either keep or return the pieces, you are asked for a detailed review about each item — fit, quality, price, etc. This helps your stylist for future boxes.

Stitch Fix for Men Review

One of the best parts of Stitch Fix, too, is that you are introduced to new brands that you might not have otherwise known. Kyle and I browsed the selection of some brands in his box and loved their selection. We will definitely be continuing his subscription, and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next box. Ladies and gentlemen — this would make such a great (and unique!) gift for your guy.

Interested in trying Stitch Fix for a loved one or yourself? Check it out here!

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Self-Care is A Thing, Guys

Self Care for Moms

With each baby of mine, I was guilty of falling into what I like to refer to as, “The Newborn Coma.” All of you moms out there know what I mean all too well — those weeks that often turn into months where you barely recognize the difference between day and night, when you’re so exhausted that you begin to do highly illogical things (like put your shoes in the freezer — yes, that really happened), and you generally feel a little piece of or even your whole self slowly slipping away.

Here’s the thing — it’s ok to lose yourself in motherhood. Just make sure that you find yourself again.

My third and final baby turned one in February, and it was then that I realized it was time to get more of myself back. I found it much easier to bounce back into the person I wanted to be with one kid, and two was a little more challenging…but three was an entirely different ball game.

On May 15th, I started the keto diet because I have it in my head that I’m going to feel amazing and get back to my high school weight. Don’t crush my dreams, y’all. It’s happening.

In fact, I’m writing it here to better hold myself accountable.

I was also toying with the idea of getting my hair colored, because wait for it — I hadn’t gotten it done, aside from a cut or blowout, in almost four years. This coming from the girl who experimented with funky new colors and highlights on a bimonthly basis for most of my life. This self-care thing is tough as a mom sometimes, but it is so important.

Last weekend I found myself sitting in the adorable Gloss Beauty Boutique in North Central Austin, swooning over the modern decor and bright light. They nailed it — I seriously want my house to look exactly like this salon.

Self Care for Moms

Self Care for Moms

Laurie was professional, adorable, and an incredible stylist. She made all my balayage dreams come true, and I still can’t believe that she achieved this transformation in one session. I had forgotten how good it feels to get my hair done, and I have gotten so many great compliments on it.

Self Care for Moms Self Care for Moms

 

 

 

 

I solemnly swear to be more diligent about self-care. Who’s with me?

 

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Fabulous in Under Ten Minutes: My Easy Morning Make-up Routine

Easy makeup routine

True life: I’m a mom of three who works full-time hours from home, in between the lives of my busy kids. To say that I often don’t get adequate sleep or have the time to put myself together like I used to is an understatement. With that said, I like to strike a balance. I don’t believe that just because we’re moms, we should have to let ourselves go and compromise our own self-care — so what’s the solution?

Easy Makeup Routine
First, a good skincare regimen will do wonders — since you’ll be reaping the benefits of gorgeous, clear skin,  you won’t need all of that extra makeup to hide breakouts, blemishes, red patches, or other imperfections. If you aren’t taking good care of your skin first and foremost, now is the time to start. Did you know that collagen production begins to decline at age 30? Prevention is key for anything, so why is your skin an exception?

With that said, here is my easy, five-step morning make-up routine that I guarantee will leave you looking flawless in under ten minutes. My lovely 12-year-old daughter (shown in this post) has graciously volunteered to be my model in this series of photos so you can see just how beautiful and simple this routine is.

Easy Makeup Routine

Step One: Revive Eye Cream

You might be thinking, why the heck do I need an eye cream? It’s not like anyone is going to see it, right? Here’s the deal — the eyelid is the thinnest skin on your entire body! It’s also constantly activated since we blink 10,000+ times a day. Therefore, the skin around your eye is the first to show the signs of aging, and just as we said above, prevention is key.

A good eye cream is lighter in texture than a facial moisturizer. You do not want a thick eye cream, because it can actually increase fluid retention and worsen eye puffiness! Revive addresses dark circles by targeting weakened blood vessels and counteracting the leakage that causes them, thereby helping to reduce the appearance of circles while simultaneously moisturizing the skin.

Long story short — get the eye cream!

Step Two: Ever Daylight Treatment Color Corrector

Ever’s Daytime Treatment Color Corrector is a gorgeous peach color, and don’t let that scare you. It’s specifically formulated to correct the blue tones from undereye circles to give you a more even, blended appearance. This warm tone will lift and neutralize the blue circles. Pro tip: put a little on your eyelids to give the appearance of brighter, well rested eyes — even if you’ve stayed up all night with a nursing baby or you recently switched to night shift, you will notice a difference.

Step Three: Ever Daylight Tinted Moisturizer

This is admittedly my favorite step. If you’re trying to prevent aging and wrinkles, a daytime moisturizer with SPF is an essential that you should never skip. The sun increases your cancer risk and is the #1 cause of premature skin aging. Chemical sunscreens, however, are linked to some nasty side effects, such as endocrine disruption, and are thought to interfere with the thyroid and other hormone processes. Why would you knowingly put your health at risk, especially on a daily basis?

Ever’s Daylight moisturizer minimizes the look of fine lines and wrinkles while simultaneously hydrating and protecting the skin with a chemical-free sunscreen. With SPF 32, it is one of my go-to products and a key step in my morning routine.

Step Four: Ever Daylight Treatment Concealer

Does your concealer also prevent aging? If you’re like me and need a little extra boost when it comes to those pesky under eye circles (thank you, children), or even to throw over a blemish during your menstrual cycle — this anti-aging treatment concealer diffuses the look of dark circles, as well as fine lines, wrinkles, and trouble spots. Yes, you read that correctly — you can actually conceal your trouble spots with good-for-you ingredients that contain our patented anti-aging formula. Can someone pinch me?

Side note: If you’re not a tinted moisturizer kind of girl, Daylight Clear is a fantastic option that still safely covers and prevents.

Step Five: The Add Ons

These will look different for you depending on what you’re going for. Are you a lip person? Perhaps you can’t leave the house without mascara. Regardless, make sure you’re choosing safe products to compliment your routine. Here are my staples:

Manna K Flutter Lash Mascara

Manna K Radiance Split Pan Bronzer and Highlighter Duo

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment 

Here is a comparison shot from fresh faced to flawless — keep in mind that these pictures are *completely* unedited. As you can see, the results are fabulous.Easy Makeup Routine

Whether you’re busy parenting, saving the world, or a little of both — this easy, flawless routine can fit very easily into your hectic lifestyle. Just as you wouldn’t eat your weight in sugar or opt out of regular exercise, you should treat your skin — your body’s largest organ! — with the respect that it deserves. How are you protecting yourself?

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Summer Bucket List

What to Do In Austin this Summer with Kids

I think I might be the only mom in the entire world who despises summer.

Confession: I thrive off schedules and order. I like to know that we will wake up, have breakfast, and head off to school. I don’t like the moping around the house or the sighing of boredom. I also don’t like that summer camp costs significantly more than childcare, which is already high enough. I don’t even want to tell you how much my daughter’s overnight camp is, let alone 8-week entertainment for the 3.5 year old. Can he be ready for overnight camp, too? No? I stumbled upon a sweet little summer camp program for toddlers that I considered signing Graham up for, until I realized that it was the equivalent in cost to full-time childcare for just four hours a morning. Hard pass. 

There are three total weeks of summer where the kids and I will all be home together, so I decided to be a cool mom and have them each put together a Bucket List. The plan is to hang it on the kitchen cork board, gaze at it in wonder, and cross off things as we complete them.

In true almost teenage girl fashion, Hayley filled her Bucket List with extravagant day trips. See #5 on that list? Apparently Sugar Factory is only located in New York City and California. Nice try, girl.

Colin’s Bucket List was simple and sweet, consisting of life goals such as, “Eat pizza for lunch” and, “Ride the train at Zilker Park.” Yup, we can certainly accomplish those.

Graham’s list is a hybrid of things he nodded “yes” to when I asked if he was interested in them (spoiler alert: he nods “yes” to basically everything) and things Colin yelled in my ear while trying to steal my pen. I think Hayley might have attempted to contribute one or two things from the upstairs playroom, but that is inconclusive.

As for me? That Cupcake ATM on there may or may not have been my idea. Maybe.

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Greenwashing: Why The Terms ‘Natural’ and ‘Organic’ Can’t Always Be Trusted

organic-skincare-greenwashing-beauty-industry

Most of us are taking active steps everyday towards living healthier lifestyles. We choose whole foods, limit excess sugar, and make sure we’re getting enough exercise. The beauty and cosmetic industry has also taken notice that consumers are demanding safer products. As a result, greenwashing has ensued. What does organic skincare mean? Can the terms “natural” and “organic” be trusted? Here’s the scoop:

What is Greenwashing?

In the beauty industry, the term “greenwashing” is the perception given by a business — usually for marketing purposes — that the products they are promoting are healthy and/or environmentally friendly. This can be a very deceptive practice, with companies spending significant dollar amounts on advertising campaigns that give the feel and appearance that they are “green.”

What is the Problem With Terms Like ‘Natural’ and ‘Organic?’

Many consumers are falling into the trap that a product labeled as “natural” or “organic” must be the safer, better option. Did you know that legally, the term “natural” means absolutely nothing in the beauty industry? It is a completely unregulated term that is only created for marketing purposes — and it works. Labels that boast “natural” products can often contain up to 30% of synthetic ingredients, too!

The truth behind the term “organic,” might also surprise you. Did you know that according to the FDA, “organic” is undefined? Organic food products are regulated by the National Organic Program, which is run by the USDA. In the beauty industry, however, this term isn’t regulated. What does this mean for consumers? The two terms can unfortunately be used pretty loosely,  making it tough to decipher what the best options are.

What Should You Look for Instead?

First, remember that not all safe products are going to be natural.

And not all natural products are going to be safe.

Would you slather your face with mercury or lead? I didn’t think so.

Find a skincare line that is free of harmful ingredients, such as formaldehyde, synthetic fragrance, and chemical sunscreen, just to name a few. Don’t allow yourself to seek results in your products at the expense of your health, especially when there are fabulous options out there that will change your skin for the better without compromising your safety.

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The Quest For Balance: When Working is A Privilege

Make An Income Working From Home

Browse any viral article that discusses the lifestyle of stay-at-home or working moms, and you’re likely to encounter comments such as, “I sure wish that could stay home, but I don’t have that privilege.” There’s no doubt that everyone has different circumstances and factors that might impact whether or not they work outside the home. You also can’t fault such comments because society often depicts a very different picture of staying home in comparison to the actual reality faced by many Americans.

When we think of stay-at-home moms, some of us picture the multi-millionaire wives of Wall Street moguls, with chauffeurs, nannies, and piano lessons. The less extreme and more realistically portrayed version is the happy suburban mom with her McMansion and three row SUV, sipping Starbucks after Barre while the kids are in preschool. Both of those are accurate pictures that depict the lives of many American mothers, but there are huge demographics being omitted in between, and some that are losing their voices entirely.

Many moms are home with their kids because they are unable to afford quality childcare — the cost of care would literally exceed the income they’d take home. According to Time Magazine, the majority of Americans spend more than 10% of their household income on childcare. The national average cost for a week at a child care center for one child totaled $196/week, while a private nanny totaled $556/week. In many major cities in the United States, it’s not surprising for these numbers to be double or triple the average, depending on location and cost of living.

With childcare costs soaring, it’s no wonder that many parents are priced out of the dual working family lifestyle — especially if they have more than one child to pay for. When you factor in the cost of commuting, childcare, after school care, and other work related expenses, it makes sense that many families are unable to swing it. In fact, many moms report that working outside of the home can sometimes result in simply breaking even financially, and others report that they actually lose money.

According to a 2012 study, an analysis of more than 60,000 US women shows that non-employed women with young children are more likely than working women to experience sadness and anger. Low income stay-at-home moms, which are defined in the study as moms with annual households of less than $36,000, suffer the worst. These moms report the lowest levels of well-being and seem to be struggling more than their higher income counterparts.

It all makes sense, of course. As women and human beings, it feels empowering to have a choice in your life path. Though being a mother is fulfilling in the best possible ways, we would be fooling ourselves if we also didn’t admit that it can be unbelievably isolating and lonely. Some moms are better parents and spouses when they are doing something for themselves in addition to being a mom, while others truly thrive in immersing themselves in motherhood. The difference, you ask? A simple choice. Take away our freedom of choice, thereby “trapping” us into a particular situation, and you create the perfect storm for a mental health or identity crisis.

The rise of side hustles, part-time jobs, and work-from-home jobs are creative ways for moms and moms-to-be who are home — whether by choice, circumstance, or a little of both — to be able to feel fulfilled and have something for themselves. Whether it’s blogging, graphic design, direct sales, or another business venture, a side gig can actually be good for your soul.

As employees and parents, we are constantly on the quest for balance and will not settle for anything less. We want to be home by dinner so we can enjoy a family meal with our spouse and kids. We want to take vacations and stop scrambling for childcare during summer breaks and school vacations. We want to make a killer income and feel happy and fulfilled in the process. We want to find joy and pride in our life paths, and not feel as though we’re trapped by circumstances we can’t control. We want it all, damnit, and you know what? We just might get it.

 

Interested in making money from home? Learn more about how I’ve matched (and will soon exceed) my nursing income working from home!

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I Thought I Had This ‘Mom Thing’ Down — Until I Had My Second Kid

Parenting a Strong Willed Child

I’m going to be vulnerable for a moment — I used to think that I had this parenting thing down. Once they reached about four, I didn’t understand why people found it difficult. Sure, there were hard moments, like when my daughter Hayley got sick and I had to miss an important meeting, or when she would wake up entirely too early on a Saturday morning. Overall, though, I found life wth her to be pretty seamless.

Hayley slept through the night at six weeks. We taught her how to identify the number “7” early on, and she only emerged from her room once her clock struck 7AM, and not a moment before.

When we’d go out to dinner, she’d play tic tac toe until the food arrived. She could sit through an entire movie by age 3 — and did I mention that she was potty trained within 48 hours, right after her second birthday?

Ever since her first day of kindergarten, Hayley kept track of her assignments and due dates like clockwork — to this day in her sixth grade year, she still does. I have never had to remind her to finish a homework assignment or study for an exam.

She always ate her vegetables without complaint, even though I knew she secretly didn’t like them.

Hayley and I went everywhere together, and I genuinely enjoyed parenting her. One of my favorite memories was visiting Disneyland for her 4th birthday. I’ll never forget how patient she was that day, despite the intense holiday lines and record breaking crowds. I thought of our family as the three musketeers, and the bond we shared was special and easy.

I know, I know — I sort of hate me, too. I fully admit how naive I was, especially now that those tween hormones are raging. Don’t worry, though — I also got my karma in the form of Hayley’s younger brother, Colin, who was born right before her 9th birthday. To say he threw us for a loop is a complete understatement. This beautiful, chaotic whirlwhind of a child is now 3.5 and constantly keeps me on my toes, with no end in sight. I thought for sure that I’d be better prepared this time around — after all, he was my second, and I had done this before. Not only does a lot change in nine years, but no amount of foresight could have prepared me for raising Colin.

He does not sit and color — at least, not on paper.

He still can’t sit through an entire episode of Daniel Tiger, let alone a full movie.

He takes everything apart.

He has a strong need to touch everything. No, really, I mean everything. That crumb on the floor? The light switch in the middle of a crowded restaurant? He’ll find it.

If I leave him alone for more than ten seconds, he’s bound to get into something. When I turned my back the other day, he unraveled all the toilet paper and attempted to plunge the toilet. He then stole a lip gloss from Hayley’s room and proceeded to bite off the top.

Last summer I came downstairs to, “Oops, Mom. I made a mess.” I sighed in exasperation as I saw sunscreen smeared all over the couch, rug, coffee table, walls, and all over Colin. He had gone digging into my diaper bag during the five minute time span that it had taken me to put down his baby brother for a nap.

I find myself saying, “Hayley never did that” on almost a daily basis. Parent teacher conferences for Hayley have always been comprised of, “What can we say! She is delightful!” Now when I have an upcoming conference for Colin, my stomach is twisted in knots in anticipation of what I’ll hear next. Phrases like, “Colin has trouble keeping his hands to himself at school” and, “We’re trying to help Colin learn to focus on his work without disrupting the other children” are now my norm. Even at the dinner table, Colin has a tough time sitting without scraping his fork on the tabletop or flipping it onto the floor — you know, using it for any purpose other than eating.

Ya’ll, I officially have that kid.

The craziest part, though, is that my kids are raised in the same household, by the same parents, and yet their differences couldn’t be more apparent. I also like to think that we set very high parenting standards for them. The phrase “boys will be boys” does not exist in my house. We strive to raise our kids to be respectful, kind, and empathetic human beings, with no excuse for poor behavior.

I also have a confession: parenting my wild child has left me feeling defeated. I am constantly questioning both my sanity and my ability to be the person that Colin needs. When I hear from his teachers that he had a tough day at school, I can’t help but feel discouraged. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a sign I’m missing? Here’s the thing, though — all of the sticker charts and parent teacher conferences in the world would not change who my son is at his core. He is the kid that thrives off of the company of others, but who needs to be home for nap time before he completely melts down. He’s the one that I still watch closely on the playground to make sure that he isn’t cutting the line for the slide. He is a sweet, highly intelligent, and inquisitive little boy that I love to pieces — but sometimes I feel like he’s the equivalent of parenting a stairmaster. He just never stops, and I’m tired.

Despite how challenging Colin can be, he’s also equally wonderful. He is in love with music, animals, and puzzles — and his laugh is infectious. We constantly joke that all of his curiosity and energy could be channeled into some really useful professions someday, and I can’t wait to see what kind of person he grows up to be. The other silver lining of my crazy second born? He has made my third feel easy!

To the parents of a wild child — I see your struggles. I know how it feels to internalize your child’s energy level and mischief, constantly questioning whether or not it is a reflection on you as a parent. I know that you sometimes feel judged and insecure. Just remember that you are exactly who your child needs. That boisterous, carefree spirit will serve you both well, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Until then, solidarity and wine.

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3 Lesser Known Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Products

Toxic Ingredients in Skincare

A lot of us are self-proclaimed label readers — we scrutinize ingredients on breakfast cereal boxes and reach for organic macaroni and cheese over the conventional Kraft that we grew up on. We worry about what’s in our tap water, as well as if the plastic from disposable bottles is being leached into that water, which we swore was safer. We pore over the natural sunscreen selection available on the market and analyze the additives in our vitamins. Why, then, do so many of us skimp when it comes to the products we use on our skin? Our skin is our largest organ, and much of what we place on it is absorbed directly into our bloodstream. Think about nicotine and birth control patches — effective doses are delivered into our bloodstream, through the skin, thereby allowing us to curb cravings or prevent pregnancy.

I’ve made it clear that I firmly believe in a good 80/20 balance. If we eat healthy 80% of the week, I don’t feel badly when we treat ourselves to ice cream on a Friday night. When it comes to our products, though, here’s where I don’t skimp:

-With products being applied onto or used by my children

-If I’m soaking in the product (ie, a bubble bath)

-If I’m slathering the product onto my face or body, especially if I’m not washing it off

There are many ingredients to avoid in skincare products — in fact, an entire novel or series of blog posts could be written on the subject matter. You have likely heard the buzz about parabens and pthalates, but here are three that might have slipped under your radar. If any of these are in your current products, I would recommend ditching them — there are much safer and equally effective products out there!

Hydroquinone

What Is it? Hydroquinone is a skin lightener found in many lightening creams and dark mark fade treatments.

How Does It Work? It reduces the production of melanin in your skin, which is why many people love it for treating hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and other skin discoloration.

Why Should You Avoid It? Hydroquinone works — there is no doubt about that! Unfortunately, its safety is also unclear. In fact, studies have shown that it exhibits carcinogenic effects when applied to the skin. It is also considered cytotoxic and harmful to cells. Though it does decrease melanin production to lighten the skin, long term use might actually damage your pigment cells. With side effects like increased sun sensitivity, irritation, and hyperpigmentation (the opposite of why you use it in the first place!), it’s smart to avoid this ingredient.

Chemical Sunscreens

What Are They? When it comes to sunscreen, you protect yourself in two ways — with a chemical sunscreen or a mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, homosalate, and helioplex, to name a few. They tend to be more irritating to the skin and can sometimes cause allergic reactions.

How Do They Work? Mineral sunscreens create a physical barrier to protect your skin from the sun, while chemical sunscreens absorb or scatter — but mostly absorb — the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreen does offer more protection against UVA and UVB rays than physical sunscreen, but the actual range of protection depends on the specific ingredients and their stability.

Why Should You Avoid Them? Some studies show that ingredients in chemical sunscreens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, estrogenic (mimic the effects of estrogen), and may interfere with other normal body processes. There are also speculations that chemical sunscreen can contribute to cancer, one of the reasons being that retinyl palmitate, a vitamin A derivative, has been shown to speed the growth of cancerous cells. The ingredient methylisothiazolinone is also found in many sunscreens — ironically, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named this chemical as the allergen of the year. Also problematic is the fact that many chemical UV filters have not been FDA approved.

Mineral Oil

What Is It? Mineral oil is colorless, odorless, and is a byproduct of the distillation of petroleum to create gasoline. It often helps decrease water loss from the skin. Because it is lightweight and inexpensive, it is often found in many creams and lotions.

How Does It Work? It sits on top of the skin to prevent moisture loss.

Why Should You Avoid Them? Mineral oil is available in different grades, and it may be contaminated. Even though cosmetics use “cosmetic grade” mineral oil, scientists have expressed concerns about its safety. It can also clog your pores and increase the risk of blackheads and acne. Mineral oil is what’s known as an “occlusive agent,” which means that it reduces moisture loss by forming a physical barrier on your skin. If your other products contain pore clogging ingredients, this means they will stay close to your skin and increase your risk of breakouts. The bottom line, too, is that it isn’t doing anything for your skin. There’s no nutritional or moisturizing benefits, so why put it on your skin at all, especially knowing the potential risks?

 

What do you think? Did you find any of these lurking in your favorite products? 

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Dear Daughter, This is Why I Don’t Give You Everything

Dear Daughter

Today we are at yet another cheer competition — we’ve been gone countless weekends this season, competing in different arenas and exploring different cities. My bank statements are filled with hotel charges and team dinners, and it’s been tough to be away from your younger brothers so much.

We had to wake up extra early this time to get your hair and make-up just so. You reminded me to be careful not to get mascara on your uniform, and I smiled as I saw through your eyes just how important this was to you. After paying $20 to park and spending another $40 just to walk through the door to watch you perform, I am relieved that your team does well. Afterwards, everyone congregates around the vendor tables as you and your teammates stare wide eyed at the sea of sparkly bows, shirts, jackets, and pins. Every competition, it is the same — moms begin gathering armloads of possessions to buy their children, while you stare longingly at them. I can almost see the thoughts swirling through your brain, envy and sadness apparent on your face.

“Lucy’s mom is buying her five shirts!” you exclaim. I nod politely.

“That water bottle is really cute,” you hint. Again, I hold steadfast.

I see your reserve deflate like a balloon as you finally have the courage to mutter, “Can I at least get a pin?”

How can I explain to you that it’s not about the money, and never was? I, too, could stand in line and overload my arms with overpriced shirts and pins, or just buy something for you because everyone else is doing it. Even though I’m an adult, I still feel the strain of peer pressure. I also know that it’s difficult to stand by and watch your friends get handed things, like a new trampoline a month before Christmas, just because — or $50 to the mall on a random Saturday simply because they’re bored. I realize that in the world of a tween girl, it’s easy to compare yourself to your friends and focus on what you don’t have.

I know it’s tough to understand, but your sense of perception is skewed. We don’t live in an area where the average child is represented, nor have we ever. Not every kid has a birthday party that costs more than a month’s worth of groceries or receives a shiny new car on their 16th birthday. There are kids in our country and in our very state who don’t know where their next meal will come from, or if their electricity is going to be shut off when they arrive home that day from school. Things like cheer bows and the opportunity to participate in competitive cheer, in general, is something unobtainable that they truly can’t even fathom as they twirl their fingers through the holes of their hand-me-down shoes.

I don’t expect you to grasp how privileged you are. I know that you’re at an age where you can only focus on what you don’t have, but please try to concentrate on everything that you’re given. Many girls would kill for your wardrobe, warm house, and kindhearted teachers who genuinely care about your success. If I teach you validation through material possessions, you will never recognize your true worth. You will grow up pertpertually chasing a happiness that will never exist.

Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult for me not to indulge you all the time. I absolutely love being able to do fun things with you, and I am so grateful that I’m able to do so. Sometimes it’s so tempting to be the mom loading her arms with shirts and showering you with material things. Here’s the truth, though — doing so would truly be a disservice to you. I’d be setting your expectations too high and teaching you the wrong values. I don’t want you to ever feel entitled and think that the world owes you something — it doesn’t. I believe in sensibility and moderation. I, too, am in love with shopping and admittedly find joy in material possessions, but there needs to be a balance.

I know you don’t always realize the sacrifices that we’ve made for you. Each of our parenting decisions has been centered around school districts and opportunities for you to partake in. We’ve agonized over test scores and bus routes more than you’ll ever know. Here’s the part you don’t see:

*Our higher food bill, which allows you access to three healthy meals a day.

*Our mortgage and taxes, which provide you with a beautiful, safe home in a great district.

*The time we sacrifice and the schedules we juggle — with a three year old and one year old — to make sure that you can participate in all the activities that interest you.

*The money we set aside each month so that you’ll be able to attend overnight camp during the summer months, one of your favorite parts of the year.

At the very last competition of the season, I decided to splurge a little. I let you pick out a few overpriced items, and the gratitude shone brightly through your eyes as you hugged me tight.

“Thank you, Mom. I really appreciate these,” you whispered. You didn’t see my own tears that day — tears of relief and gratitude. You see, I often wonder if I’m doing this ‘parenting thing’ right. I love you so much that sometimes it hurts, and I am constantly trying to strike a balance between giving you the most magical childhood that I’m capable of while simultaneously raising a healthy, balanced future adult that values people over possessions.

Dear daughter, I will never give you everything. But I will give you my unconditional love, acceptance, pride, honesty, empathy, and always promise to be the mom that you need. You might not realize it now, but gratitude and balance are lifelong gifts — I can’t wait for the day when you realize that you’ve received them all along. Until then and always, I am your biggest cheerleader.

Love, Mom

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Three Reasons Why You Should Consider A Side Hustle

Why You Need A Side Hustle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the average millionaire has seven streams of income. Seven. Not just a 9-5 day job, guys — seven streams.

Let’s take a moment to let that sink in.

I often get asked, why not go back to work if you want an income? Why take on “side hustles?” I answer this question in my blog bio, but the long and short of it is the following:

  • I love being a mom. I love being home with my babies and working around their schedules. Having one parent home has really improved our lives more than I can even say, but that’s a whole other blog post.
  • I don’t like working outside of the home for others. This is something that I’ve learned about myself early on. I don’t like the confinement of having to show up at a specific location for a specific number of hours, day in and day out. I also don’t like other people telling me how many vacation days or sick days I’m allowed to have. I’m aware that this is my own personal flaw — trust me, I have many.
  • I make a full-time income on part-time hours with side hustles — I have great ambitions to increase that amount even more as the years pass. It really just works for our family.

I’m a big proponent of having something for yourself — if anything, having something to call your own is good for your soul. The beauty of the side hustle is that it can look different for you depending on your passions and strengths. You can start a blog, open an in-home daycare a couple days a week, or join a network marketing company. You can quite literally work your side hustle around everything you have going on in life, whether it’s kids, a full-time job, or a little of both. I’m also sure you’ve heard other people talk about their “why” for having a side hustle — here is mine:

  • To throw more money at my student loans above the minimum monthly payments
  • To grow my kids’ college funds
  • To have the freedom to splurge when I want
  • To be able to travel more and have more date nights with my husband
  • Because it feels really awesome to have my own income and be able to contribute to our expenses

Your reasons for wanting a side hustle might look different from mine, and so might your background and strengths. Since it’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge proponent of them, here are three key reasons why I think you should consider having a side hustle:

1. It’s Financially Smart. Remember above when we talked about the seven streams of income? I don’t know many wealthy people in real life that make their money from a single source. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally, a lot goes into that financial stability. There is passive income happening, too, often in the form of investments and other money that contributes to their bottom line. I also believe that you should never  place all your eggs in one basket. When I was 13, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. I watched my parents’ comfortable lifestyle deteriorate as my mom was left to raise me as a single parent. Life happens, and streams of income can shift. Sometimes they’re stagnant, sometimes they trickle, and sometimes they dry up altogether. We hear it all the time — jobs are lost, and life moves in a different direction. Side hustles are a fiscally responsible choice that help contribute to your family’s stability and financial freedom. They often don’t require much to start-up, either, so if one fails, you can always try another without too much of a loss.

2. They’re a great outlet to channel your passions. I have some incredibly smart, driven, and savvy mom friends who have their own great side hustles that are based around their passions and schedules. If you’re an esthetician but want to primarily be home with your kids, why not have your own side business? If you have a marketing background, consider freelancing and helping small businesses build their brands. Are you creative? Open an Etsy shop or other small business where you can work with your hands and your heart. Want passive income but don’t want overhead costs or having to deal with inventory? Consider joining a multi-level marketing company for some “fun money.” Whatever it is you’re passionate about, there’s a side hustle for that — and chances are, it’s going to feel really good to work your business.

3. You’ll meet new people and grow your village. Here in Austin, most of the moms that I’ve met are transplants. We’ve left behind families and friends to venture into the land of tacos and cacti. Having a business means dealing with people, whether that is your customer base or other professionals in your field. Finding your tribe is priceless, and some of the very best moms that I’m grateful to call my close friends were made in my side hustle adventures.

Now, I fully realize that side hustles might not work for everyone. They certainly have drawbacks — nobody is typically contributing to your 401K, and there is no such thing as paid time off. If you don’t work because you’re sick or give birth, you don’t get paid in some instances. However, for a lot of people out there — both working and at home — side hustles are a great option that can really give your family a lot of added flexibility.

What do you think? Have you considered a side hustle? 

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