Daily Skincare Routine: Acne

Beauty

Acne is a rough self-esteem buster that can plague anyone from tweens to adults. I’ve been an acne sufferer for the past 20 years and have tried just about everything to cure my skin. Below is an overview of the daily morning and evening routines I follow, the products I recommend using to tackle acne, and why I love them.

You’ll notice no harsh chemicals or typical acne fighters (like benzoly peroxide) in this routine. That’s because I believe firmly in nourishing the skin – not striping it of it’s natural balance. The more you strip away, the more sebum your skin needs to produce in order to find balance. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. It coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin. It’s also the main ingredient in what you might think of as your body’s natural oils. When your skin starts producing extra sebum, you run into trouble with clogged pores and acne. Taking a more balanced and holistic approach helps your skin find the perfect sweet-spot of sebum production, and hopefully, leads to fewer breakouts.

  • CLEANSE

    Oil Cleanse | Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil | actively fights blackheads and helps deep clean the skin

    Water-Based Cleanse | Plaine Products Face Wash | eco-friendly, all natural, non-drying

    Exfoliate | Benton PHA Peeling Gel | use this 2-3x a week after cleansing to remove dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause breakouts

  • TONE

    Toner | I’ve included 2 options below, depending on your price point…

    $$$ | Biologique Recherche P50 | this is considered a cult favorite and holy grail in the beauty world. It exfoliates and tones all in one, which is why I love it. If you go with this toner, skip the “exfoliate” step above. BR is super particular about their products so P50 can only be purchased from a licensed vendor. Reach out if you need one.

    $$ | Some By Mi AHA PHA BHA 30days Miracle Toner | another cult favorite, this toner boosts cell turnover and contains tea tree oil to help combat breakouts

  • NOURISH

    Essence | I’ve included 2 options below, depending on your price point…

    $$ | Dewytree Ultra Vitalizing Snail Essence Water | nice and light, super hydrating, and works to target acne – win-win-win!

    $$$ | Biologique Recherche Placenta Serum | this serum targets inflammation and scaring left behind from acne to help your skin bounce back. BR is super particular about their products so this serum can only be purchased from a licensed vendor. Reach out if you need one.

    Eye Cream | Platinum Skin Care Eye Duo Kit | targeted eye therapy to help w/ bags, circles, wrinkles and loose skin (eye lids)

  • PROTECT

    Moisturizer | I’ve included a few options below, depending on your price point…

    $$$$ | Vintner’s Daughter | this is my absolute favorite face oil. While the price tag is shocking, know the ingredients are top-of-the-line. This oil has won countless beauty awards and is the holy grail of all face oils IMHO.

    $$$ |Biologique Recherche Creme Dermopurifiante | as well as acting on sebum production, it purifies the epidermis to rid skin of imperfections like dilated pores, blackheads, microcysts or blackheads – and prevent them from reappearing.

    $ | Bio Oil | I’ve tried many face oils and recently purchased Bio Oil. It’s been around forever, is cheap, effective, and can be used all over the body. I love spreading it all over my chest and neck at night time, and because it’s affordable I don’t feel like I’m wasting it.

    Sun Protection | EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Face Sunscreen (AM only) | I love this sunscreen and will probably use it for the rest of my life.

  • As-Needed & Weekly Treatments

    Treatments | Acropass Trouble Cure | use as needed on deep, hormonal, painful acne cysts that lurk under the surface

    Sheet Mask |Leaders AC Clear Treatment Mask | use 1x week to target breakouts and help calm skin.

    Clay Mask |Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay | use 1x week to pull impurities out of the skin and calm current breakouts

    Chemical Peel | Mandelic Peel | this peel is nice, easy and results in little to no actual flakes, making it a perfect starter peel. Make sure to purchase the “Prep A” with the peel. Here’s a 20% off link.

Results

Results will take time to achieve, so I encourage you to hang in there and give this routine at least 1 month. I would love to hear how you skin progress, so please comment below! We are #BetterTogether and I’m here to help consult if you feel a little lost while on this acne journey. I sure know I felt that way when my skin wasn’t at its best. Hang in there! Oh, and I always encourage people to take ‘before’ pictures so you can really see your progress.

Personal Consultations

Feeling a little overwhelmed with the routine above? Follow me on Instagram and send me a DM for a complimentary consultation where we can discuss your skincare needs, current routine, and goals. From there, I can put together an overview of what I might recommend for you individual needs.

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Daily Skincare Routine for Minimalists

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Secret Bookcase Door

Home

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it: one entry, two for closets, and one to an attic. The attic door was metal and had different hardware on it, which made it look and feel out of place. We didn’t want my son going into the attic and the room felt cluttered with doors. The solution? We decided to turn the attic door into a secret bookcase door.

Custom building a bookcase door was not something my partner had the stomach to pay for, regardless of how badly I wanted this secret passageway. I scoured the internet for DIY solutions and came across a company that sold pre-fabricated hidden bookcase doors. After taking all the necessary measurements, we pulled the trigger and ordered a hidden bookcase door from Murphy Door.

From the outside it looks and functions exactly like a bookshelf. However, with a key you are able to unlock and pull the bookcase open to expose the entryway into the attic. To this day my son has no idea this bookcase is actually a door. We plan to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Installation

The door arrived in a massive box that weighed a ton. It lived in our garage for a few weeks until visiting cousins could help my partner carry it upstairs and into the attic (thank you Casey and Anand!). We planned on installing the door ourselves, but once we unboxed it and read all the instructions, we realized we needed someone with carpentry skill and wood working tools. Fresh off our renovation, we hired our contractor for the job. It took David one day to install the door, though he said it would take him about 2-3 hours the next time he needed to install one.

The Final Product

The timing was perfect as my son was at school all day and was able to come home to a fully completed project. It also happened to be his 2nd birthday, so I purchased some pillows and turned his new bookcase nook into a cozy spot just for him. He was thrilled, to say the least!

Reading Time

My son continues to love his bookcase and reading nook, and still has no idea it’s actually a secret door. Climbing up on his pillows over our shoulders allows him the perfect vantage point to see. The pillows also have become a favorite resting spot for our pug, Tucker. We store our Christmas decorations in the attic, so 2x a year when access is necessary we ensure our kids are not home or sufficiently occupied downstairs. This secret passageway will remain a secret for a long time!

Do you have a secret door in your house? Have you always wanted one? Where would you put one if you could? Powder room? Pantry? Bedroom? Let’s talk – comment below!

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The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

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How to Layer Skincare Products

Beauty

If you’re like me and have a cabinet full of skincare products, it can be confusing to decipher which ones to apply when. Following the Korean skincare routine I’ve outlined in Daily Skincare Routine Basics can give you a head start in identifying product order.

Learning how to layer products can be tricky.  The general rule of thumb is to start with products that have smaller molecules, those that feel most like water, and build up to products that have larger molecules, those that are dense or oily. 

Below is a basic cheat sheet I use to remind myself, because let’s face it, this is kind of confusing and we all want to get the most out of our products.

Click here to download and print a small guide that can be taped to your beauty cabinet for easy reference.

  • 1 | Oil-Based Cleanser

    An cleanser that looks and feels like an oil. This step removes make-up and impurities.

  • 2 | Water-Based Cleanser

    A cleanser that is slick and produces bubbles when mixed with water. This ensures no residue remains after the oil cleanse.

  • 3 | Toner

    Water-like liquid that should be applied directly after cleansing. This preps the skin so all following products can penetrate better.

  • 4 | Serums

    Liquid, runny, and can easily drip through your fingers.

  • 5 | Creams

    Thick, smooth, and will not slide off your fingers.

  • 6 | Oils

    Oily liquid, can easily run through your fingers, BUT have a heavier consistency than serums. These tend to have the largest molecules and, therefore, other products cannot penetrate them easily.

  • 7 | Sun Protection

    Only needed in the morning and ALWAYS the last step. Always wear sunscreen!

Click here to download and print a small guide that can be taped to your beauty cabinet for easy reference.

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Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

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Daily Skincare Routine for Minimalists

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my Daily Skincare Routine seriously. With 7-10 steps depending on the time of day and my current skin needs, I’m spending more time on my skin than most people can stomach doing for themselves. While I firmly believe in the Korean skincare routine I outline in Daily Skincare Routine Basics,…

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of…

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Whew…it’s a little tough to see these pictures of my face. And super scary to post them online. But, I’ve come a long way in my battle against melasma and if my routine can help just one more person, I’d feel pretty happy about that. Melasma is a terrible beast that can crush self-esteem. Since…

Let’s stay in touch!

Melasma Improvement

How I Improved My Melasma & Hyperpigmentation

Beauty

Whew…it’s a little tough to see these pictures of my face. And super scary to post them online. But, I’ve come a long way in my battle against melasma and if my routine can help just one more person, I’d feel pretty happy about that.

Melasma is a terrible beast that can crush self-esteem. Since it’s caused by a trifecta of hormones, sun exposure, and heat, it can be difficult to treat and it’s impossible to cure. As my dermatalogist told me, “this is part of you now, it will never go away.”

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my daily skincare routine very seriously. My first pregnancy with my son resulted in melasma, which is technically incurable. My second pregnancy with my daughter brought on uncontrollable acne, which resulted in more hyperpigmentation from acne scars. Needless to say, an even skin tone was not something I had, and I badly wanted to bring it back.

Treating melasma and hyperpigmentation is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Since melasma is technically incurable, the best anyone can hope for is to lighten it up and prevent it from coming back. Below is the routine I used to lighten my melasma. While I’m not yet at my goal of erasing all my acne scars, I’m much closer thanks to this routine. You can read how I maintain my skin during the winter months (aka melasma off-season) in Daily Skincare Routine for Acne & Wrinkles.

Preventing melasma from returning requires strict use of a high-quality sunscreen, physical protection like a hat, and general avoidance of the sun. For someone born and raised in Arizona, this was a hard reality for me to accept. I love the sun and spent many years trying my best to achieve that perfect glow. These days you will always spot me in a large-brimmed hat and sunglasses. I don’t care if it makes me look like an old lady; sun protection now reigns supreme in my household.

Results After One Month

Results After 1+ Year

Routine

The routine below follows my Daily Skincare Routine Basics, which is why you’ll see it broken down into 4 parts. In addition to my daily routine, I began doing at-home chemical peels in mid-2020 and I believe these really helped take my battle against melasma to the next level. You can read more in my post on How to Master At-Home Chemical Peels.

  • CLEANSE

    Oil Cleanse | Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil | feels super smooth and like a mini facial massage

    Water-Based Cleanse | Plaine Products Face Wash | eco-friendly, all natural, non-drying

    Exfoliate | I skip this step because the toner I use has chemical exfoliants – two birds, one product:)

  • TONE

    Toner | Biologique Recherche P50 PIGM 400| this is considered a cult favorite and holy grail in the beauty world. It exfoliates and tones all in one, which I love, and this formula is meant to tackle stubborn melasma and hyperpigmentation. BR is super particular about their products so P50 can only be purchased from a licensed vendor. Reach out if you need one.

  • NOURISH

    Essence & Treatment Eucerin Anti-Pigment Dual Serum | this serum contains Eucerin’s patented Thiamidol, which works like hydroquinone without potential cancer-causing side effects. It also contains hyaluronic acid to support healthy hydration.

    Eye Cream | Platinum Skin Care Eye Duo Kit | targeted eye therapy to help w/ bags, circles, wrinkles and loose skin (eye lids)

  • PROTECT

    Moisturizer

    Sun Protection | EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Face Sunscreen (AM only)| I love this sunscreen and will probably use it for the rest of my life.

Results

Results will take time to achieve, so I encourage you to hang in there and give this routine at least 1 month. I would love to hear how you skin progress, so please comment below! We are #BetterTogether and I’m here to help consult if you feel a little lost while on this journey. I sure know I felt that way when my skin wasn’t at its best. Hang in there! Oh, and I always encourage people to take ‘before’ pictures so you can really see your progress.

Have you tried the routine above? Let us know how it’s going or what type of routine you want to see featured by leaving a comment below!

More…

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of…

Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

How to Layer Skincare Products

If you’re like me and have a cabinet full of skincare products, it can be confusing to decipher which ones to apply when. Following the Korean skincare routine I’ve outlined in Daily Skincare Routine Basics can give you a head start in identifying product order. Learning how to layer products can be tricky.  The general…

Daily Skincare Routine: Acne & Wrinkles

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my daily skincare routine very seriously. It’s special self-care that I get to do 2x a day – who wouldn’t love that!? Below is an overview of my daily morning and evening routines, the products I’m currently using, and why I love them. I like to switch up my…

How to Master At-Home Chemical Peels

In effort not to look like a piece of crinkled up paper, I’m doing everything I can to prevent the signs of aging while staying out of the doctor’s office. Plastic surgery is not for me. No judgement for those who are into that. Chemical peels have become my favorite secret weapon. And thanks to…

Daily Skincare Routine for Minimalists

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my Daily Skincare Routine seriously. With 7-10 steps depending on the time of day and my current skin needs, I’m spending more time on my skin than most people can stomach doing for themselves. While I firmly believe in the Korean skincare routine I outline in Daily Skincare Routine Basics,…

Let’s stay in touch!

IKEA Play Kitchen DIY Hack for Under $100

DIY, Home, Parent Life

The kid play kitchen. It’s become ubiquitous in the homes of most millennials with kids, and ours is no exception. I originally got the idea to take a base model kid kitchen and spruce it up into something that would blend better in our home from our cousin, Priya. She had taken her daughter’s IKEA play kitchen to the next level with minimal DIY supplies, and I was inspired!

I purchased our IKEA “Duktig” play kitchen on sale, bought some easy supplies from Amazon and at our local Lowe’s, and got started. In total, I spent just under $100 on this play kitchen and it’s been totally worth it!

Getting Started

Like all IKEA purchases, the Duktig play kitchen came in a flat box and required assembly. It took me just over an hour to assemble alone. Since I wanted a ‘before’ picture, I chose to assemble it completely. I would later take some parts off for the ‘hack’ before putting the final piece back together.

The Hack

After completely assembled, I took off all plastic accessories (sink, faucet, knobs, hanging bar & hooks, and stovetop) and spray painted them copper, our kitchen’s accent color. I did this in May when the weather was hot, so it didn’t take long for the 2 coats of paint I applied to dry. Regardless, I left them drying overnight before adding them back on just to be safe.

Next, I took the top half of the set off, which allowed me to remove the counter top. I applied a piece of butcher block contact paper from Amazon to the entire counter top. I then reassembled the top half of the set.

The original kitchen set does not come with a backsplash. We definitely wanted one so the wall this sits against wouldn’t get dinged up from playing. Using a large leftover piece of cardboard, I covered it in subway tile contact paper from Amazon to match our kitchen’s backsplash, and attached it to the back with tiny pin nails.

Voila!

Play Time

This kitchen gets a ton of use! In fact, I’d say it’s the most popular toy in our home. Both our kids (2 & 4) still play with this set, as does every visiting kid. It’s become a staple in our home and the anchor for several other learning-toys like chef costumes, these color sorting fruit baskets, and the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Counter, Keurig, and smoothie sets.

Have you completed an IKEA Duktig kichen hack? I’d love to see your before and after pics…comment to share below!

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Let’s stay in touch!

Home Renovation: Before and After

Home

After moving to a new city in 2016, we spent a year searching for our perfect forever-home. We looked at over 20 houses before finding one with enough potential. Built in 1989, just about everything was original to that era and the original house. While the finishings were outdated, the location and footprint/layout were just right, which made renovations far more affordable. We spent months renovating the house into our perfect home. Below are some of the big projects we tackled.

Exterior

The original house had never been painted, only stained. We knew we wanted a white house with black trim, but couldn’t stomach the every 5-7 year upkeep of regular exterior paint. We opted for Rhino Shield which came with a 25-year guarantee against peeling and flaking. Three years in and we have had only minor flaking in a few spots, which the company came out and fixed quickly for free.

Entryway

Every home’s main entrance is a chance to welcome guests and set the tone for the home. We removed all the tile and laid down hard wood acacia on the entire first floor to streamline the design. The original wood trim was a natural light brown that we painted white to brighten up each space. We painted over the avocado green with a soft and neutral gray. Lastly, we replaced the light fixture with a custom designed chandelier from Hangout Lighting in Chicago. This room now provides our guests with a sneak peak at the styles they will find throughout our home.

Great Room

Located just off the entry and kitchen, this room provides a strong center to the house with stunning natural light and high ceilings. We replaced the old carpet with acacia hard wood, opened up the wall to the left of the fireplace, and built a bookcase along the back wall. This is our favorite room in the house now. My son calls it the ‘talking room’.

Kitchen

The heart of any home and where we spend most of our time. My partner loves to cook, and I love to eat his creations, so creating his dream kitchen was priority number one. While we lost some storage space when we took out a wall, the kitchen is still large, functional, and open.

Master Bath

We waited two years before tackling our master bath renovation. Bathrooms are a big job and we wanted to do it right. This was a full gut-rehab that resulted in a larger shower, more functional vanity space and beautiful tub.

What’s Next?

Our renovations were pretty extensive so we are taking some time off before tackling the next big projects: bathrooms. Have you renovated a house before? What lessons did you learn in the process? Comment below to share your reno stories!

#BetterTogether

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Secret Bookcase Door

The dream of having a secret passageway in my house has been one since I was a child. Maybe it came from the 90’s classic movies the Secret Garden or Clue. Regardless, when we moved into our current home I saw the perfect spot to build one. My son’s room had four doors in it:…

Sustainable Bathroom Products You’ll Love

Trying to move to a more sustainable bathroom all started as I went to buy more razors. I’m a teensy bit OCD with my shaving. I have to shave every. single. day. Given my obsession, my go-to razors are those with alllll the blades (4-5x). Leave it to Target to make a disposable 5-blade razor…

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of…

Let’s stay in touch!

Five Skincare Tips to Live By

Beauty

Take care of your skin and it will take care of you.

I’m in my 30’s and have white European / Mediterranean skin, which means my face is in a race against time. I have always taken my skincare routine seriously and have spent loads of money on products over the years in search of my holy grails. However, the past few years my budding interest in skincare became a full fledged passion after pregnancy hormones completely upended my body’s balance. My first pregnancy with my son resulted in melasma, which is technically incurable. My second pregnancy with my daughter brought on uncontrollable acne. When my cousin, Priya, recommended I look into Korean skincare, I dove in head first searching for answers.

Korean skincare methods and products taught me a tremendous amount, and I was able to make some pretty drastic changes to my daily skincare routine with a more informed approach. Below are the five pillars of skincare I live by, in no particular order.

#1 | Mix & Match

It’s rare for one single company to produce all the best products for your skin. Mix and match between brands to find the best stuff for your skin. There are literally millions of products on the market, so finding the perfect ones for you can take some time and patience.

#2 | Change is Constant

Your skincare needs change…a lot. Weather, hormones, age, climate, and overall health are just a few of the things impacting our skin on the daily. A change in anything can prompt a new need for your skin. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new products when your skin seems a little off OR if you’ve been using the same thing for ages. It could be just what you need to bring that radiant glow.

#3 | Hydration is Key

I can’t say this enough! Drink lots of water and look for products that will support healthy hydration. Hyaluronic acid is a favorite ingredient of mine for boosting skin hydration.

#4 | Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must for EVERBODY no matter your age, gender, skin type, ethnicity, etc. No excuses.

#5 | Follow a Daily Routine

The 10-step Korean skincare routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily skincare routine to see how I action these steps along with my current products.

More…

Daily Skincare Routine Basics

The 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine, or what I call daily skincare routine basics, seems crazy intense, and it is, but it’s completely worth it. While 10 steps can seem intimidating, it breaks down into 4 simple parts: cleanse, tone, nourish, and protect. Read my daily beauty routine to see how I action these steps…

How to Master At-Home Chemical Peels

In effort not to look like a piece of crinkled up paper, I’m doing everything I can to prevent the signs of aging while staying out of the doctor’s office. Plastic surgery is not for me. No judgement for those who are into that. Chemical peels have become my favorite secret weapon. And thanks to…

How to Layer Skincare Products

If you’re like me and have a cabinet full of skincare products, it can be confusing to decipher which ones to apply when. Following the Korean skincare routine I’ve outlined in Daily Skincare Routine Basics can give you a head start in identifying product order. Learning how to layer products can be tricky.  The general…

Daily Skincare Routine: Acne & Wrinkles

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my daily skincare routine very seriously. It’s special self-care that I get to do 2x a day – who wouldn’t love that!? Below is an overview of my daily morning and evening routines, the products I’m currently using, and why I love them. I like to switch up my…

Melasma Improvement

How I Improved My Melasma & Hyperpigmentation

Whew…it’s a little tough to see these pictures of my face. And super scary to post them online. But, I’ve come a long way in my battle against melasma and if my routine can help just one more person, I’d feel pretty happy about that. Melasma is a terrible beast that can crush self-esteem. Since…

Daily Skincare Routine for Minimalists

A self-named skincare fanatic, I take my Daily Skincare Routine seriously. With 7-10 steps depending on the time of day and my current skin needs, I’m spending more time on my skin than most people can stomach doing for themselves. While I firmly believe in the Korean skincare routine I outline in Daily Skincare Routine Basics,…

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8 Pregnancy Truths Nobody Talks About

Parent Life

Yes, babies are tiny miracles and it’s truly unbelievable that our bodies are made to grow and nurture these tiny miracles inside for 9 months. It’s also true that being pregnant can really, really, REALLY suck. While every pregnancy is different, below are the 8 gruesome truths I wish I had known beforehand. No, it wouldn’t have changed our decision to start a family. However, if I had known these were possible I wouldn’t have felt so isolated and alone.

#1 | Acne and Backne

Yep, I suffered from both. My daughter caused painful, cystic acne that was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and I am already acne prone. I wish someone had told me it was all hormonal and not to pick at it. I was so focused on clearing my skin that I picked, frequently, which led to really bad scars I’m still trying to rid. With my son I had horrendous backne (back acne) that was painful, super unsightly, and all thanks to those lovely pregnancy hormones. Since he was born in August, I was largely pregnant most of the summer and left unable to wear all the super cute dresses that had any type of back cut-out or strappy straps. Nothing helped, and I tried it all. Then, magically, about three months AFTER giving birth it all cleared up. Hormones are crazy.

#2 | Gastrointestinal Issues

Ohhh…where to start with this gem. Heartburn I had heard about. “Oh, you have heartburn? That must mean your baby will have lots of hair.” Horse crap. My baby’s hair is on top of it’s head, currently pointing down towards their exit. What’s actually causing my stomach acid to torch my throat is the fact that there is NO ROOM in my belly for all MY organs and this tiny human I’m growing. Pass the Tums and mind your own business. Or, better yet, if your heartburn is super bad, tell your OB and get a Rx for serious relief. My daughter sat so high in my abdomen that even the Rx heartburn meds were not sufficient. Now, on to the lower GI issues…

Constipation started almost immediately after conception and lasted the entire time. There are several ways to combat this easily.

  1. Incorporate more fiber into your diet by eating lots of leafy greens.
  2. Take fiber supplements alongside your prenatal vitamins. This was my preferred method because it was easy to remember and didn’t rely on me eating something specific at meals.
  3. Grab a Costco sized bag of dried prunes and eat a few every day.
  4. Drink lots of water. Do this anyway to help prevent stretch marks.

If you choose to ignore the constipation, you will be blessed with hemorrhoids, guaranteed. Yep. If you choose to treat the constipation, you will still most likely be blessed with hemorrhoids. Being pregnant is such a blessing, isn’t it?

#3 | Swelling

Sure, sure, everyone has seen how pregnant women can get swollen feet and how foot massages are the parental duty of the father. What you might not know is that your feet won’t be the only things to swell. All appendages will swell. Your face will swell. Rings, watches and braclets might not fit anymore. You will feel like you weigh a million pounds. Fear not, if you’re pregnant in the summer this will be dramatically worse. I remember being 38 weeks pregnant with my son and just terrified of the numbers on the scale at my weekly OB appointments. I kept asking my husband, “do I look big to you? I feel really swollen.” He would lie , “no, of course not. You look good.”

#4 | Sight Changes

Yes, your eye sight may change during your pregnancy. But that’s not exactly the “sight” I’m talking about. At some point in the later part of your pregnancy, your belly will get so big you won’t be able to see your feet. Before that happens, your belly will get big enough that you won’t be able to see your own lady parts. Seriously. And this happens at a point that isn’t too dramatically big. After two pregnancies I’m and 100% confident that there are millions of old men out there with potbellies so big they haven’t seen their own dicks in years. It’s physically impossible, I don’t care what they say.

#5 | All-Day Sickness

Sure, we’ve all seen the newly pregnant lady run to the bathroom and puke in movies. “Oh, morning sickness” the directors and writers want us to believe. What they don’t tell you is ‘morning sickness’ can last all damn day. Yep. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Sick. Neausa, vomitting, headaches…all just a mixed bag of all-day sickness. The lucky ones will have this end with the first trimester. The not so lucky ones will be sick the entire 9 months. If you’re seen Amy Schumer’s documentary or read about The Duchess of Cornwall’s pregnancies, you might be familiar with hyperemesis gravidarum already. Totally not fun.

#6 | Frequent OB Visits

I remember how excited I was to visit the OB when I first discovered I was pregnant. It made it all seem so real and fun! What I was not prepared for was the frequency of those visits. During your last trimester, OB visits jump from 1x every couple of months to just about every week. Had I known this I would have strategically picked my OB based on one thing alone: parking. Newly pregnant with our son in Chicago, getting to my OB required a ride on the El, transfer to a bus, and a 15 minute walk OR a $45 parking pass and a 15 minute walk. Oofta. We moved to Indianapolis when I was 8 months pregnant and was blessed with a new OB who had FREE PARKING on the premises. Hallelujah! My swollen feet rejoiced! She also happened to be a pretty fantastic OB who delivered both my babies, so I really lucked out. (Hi, Dr. Hahn!)

#7 | Fear and Dread (trigger warning)

Saving the biggest for last. When I was finally in my second trimester I remember so clearly how excited we were to tell EVERYONE that I was pregnant. Each time we were greeted with, “CONGRATULATIONS!!”. Eventually the shine wore off and the fear and dread kicked in. And, if I’m honest, it was there from the moment of conception. Am I pregnant? What if I miscarry? What if something is wrong with the baby? What if I fall and the baby gets hurt? What if we lose the baby after the first trimester, like so many people do yearly? What happens if I go into early labor? What if I get preeclampsia? What if something terrible happens during delivery? If the baby comes and everyone is healthy, what do we do with the baby now? How can we take care of such a tiny, fragile human? What if, what if, what if!!! The fear and anxiety can be really crippling. No one talk about that – instead the focus is on what a blessing this is and how happy the mother must be. My advice? Find a mom-group and lean on them for support. They will be your lighthouse in the storm, during pregnancy and afterwards.

#8 | Post-Partum Depression

This is a biggy and one that I will likely dedicate an entire post to later on. The basic thing to know here is that post-partum depression hits so many mothers and fathers every year. You don’t need to have a former history of depression to get post-partum; it can strike any mother/father anytime during the first year post-delivery. Get help and don’t wait too long to do so! That first year of your baby’s life is so precious and you deserve to be happy and healthy, just like them.

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My Journey Going Gray

Beauty

I started dying my hair around age 17 to cover gray, which means my first gray hair likely popped up around age 14, though I truly don’t remember it. I do remember sitting on my bathroom counter nightly plucking them out until I started noticing a slight thinning/bald spot. Yikes! Time to start coloring…

What started off as full color every 6-8 weeks slowly morphed into root touch-ups every 3 weeks. I’m not entirely sure how much I’ve spent on hair color over the past 18 years, but a back-of-the-envelope estimates puts it around $25,000. Holy shit. That’s a lot of money. That’s more than my college education and first car put together. For what? What was I paying for all those years? To look like an image I had of my self from my teens? Or to look like what I thought society viewed as beautiful? It certainly was not what Mother Nature intended me to look like.

This past January 2020 I decided I was done. Done with the 3-week root touch-ups. Done with scheduling my color appointments around important events or trips. Just done with hiding under fake hair. Another added slice of motivation for ditching the dye was my daughter. My gray hair is genetic and it’s pretty likely she will get the same awesome, silver gene. I didn’t want her wasting time and money trying to look like someone she wasn’t. So, January 23, 2020 was my last root touch up.

I was beyond excited to start this journey, and in true Ami-fashion, I dove head first into the world of silver hair (pun intended). My evenings were spent researching all I could about how to make the transition easier, learning about others who ditched the dye and what their experience was like, and plotting my own path forward. One of my favorite reads was “Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook Handbook” by Lorraine Massey. The original curly-girl, I was familiar with Massey and trusted her sage advice. The book chronicled the unique journey of several “Silver Sisters”, as we call each other, and was helpful in outlining potential paths for me. I read it front to back at least three times.

Since I had been dying my hair dark brown for so many years, the transition was likely to be rough. The dreaded demarcation line was stark – dark brown against silver and gray was not a particularly attractive look. I had been spending so much time trying to boost my appearance, it felt ridiculous to intentionally go the other direction. What was I thinking!! Thankfully, I found a community of Silver Sisters on Facebook that really helped me stick to the path. It’s really phenomenal what a group of women from all over the world, with all different backgrounds, and of all ethnicities can do when they band together. The outpouring of love and support on that Facebook group daily is so inspiring and humbling.

I had been spending so much time trying to boost my appearance, it felt ridiculous to intentionally go the other direction.

Ok, so with the decision made to go all natural, what would my journey look like? Thankfully, the pandemic forced us all indoors and out of social gatherings, which meant my early months of grow-out were spent amongst my family and out of the public eye. With salons closed it wasn’t possible for me to dye my hair, even if I wanted to. This meant I had nothing to explain to anyone. And yes, I fully understand that I never have to explain any choice I make about my body to anyone. But let’s be real. This was a really really really scary thing I was doing AND it went against all social norms. Explaining it over and over to questioning people was not how I wanted to spend my time.

July 9th

After a few months of root growth I started getting a better idea of what my gray hair would look like, and I knew two things for sure: my silver hair was gorgeous and the demarcation line totally sucked. I knew I needed help to ease the tension between silver and dark brown so I reached out to my former stylist in Chicago who I trusted with my life for advice. Franky was a rockstar of support. When we first chatted via phone the excitement for my transformation was palpable. She was up to the task and eager to get me into her chair. My first appointment with Franky was in July, just a few days before my 35th birthday. She spent 14ish hours lifting old dye from my ends through clarifying washes and bleach. Afterwards, she applied a couple different toners to take my now yellow ends to silver. The outcome was pretty remarkable, but we both agreed it wasn’t what we had hoped.

August 30th

I went back 6 weeks later for a touch up that resulted in exactly what we were aiming for: a subtle gray-ombre or grombre. Thanks to a special care package sent by Franky, I’ve been able to touch up my ends with silver toner twice without the drive to Chicago. If you are close to Chicago and thinking about making a color transformation, gray or any color in the rainbow, please look up Franky, owner of I Fucking Love Your Hair. She’s an amazing human and supremely talented colorist. Seriously. Check out her stuff on Instagram @IFuckingLoveYourHair.

This past year has taught me a tremendous amount about self-love.

Today I am exactly at 11 months of root growth and I’m obsessed with my silver, most especially the stripes that frame my face. The past year has taught me a tremendous amount about self-love. No, I did not look beautiful the entire time and I still have plenty of bad hair days. Obviously the pics above are after a professional styled my hair. Below are some more real-life examples of what my process looked like over time.

If you’re considering going gray, I strongly recommend you do two things: 1) check out Lorriane Massey’s book, and 2) join our Facebook group for a community of silver sisters. It’s not an easy process, but one that will take you on an amazing journey of self discovery.

What scares you most about going gray? Are you worried it will make you look older? Are you afraid of the grow out process? Drop a comment below and let’s get a conversation going…

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3 Tips for Creating Healthy Toddler Boundaries

Parent Life

For the past three years I’ve been living with at least one toddler. My son, thankfully, is now 4-years-old and no longer considered a toddler. My daughter is 2-years-old and right smack in the worst of the toddler years. How can I tell? “No! I do it!” “No, mine!” Basically anything with NO in front of it is a frequent expression of hers. She also demands to be picked up and walked around…a lot. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted. Anyone with a toddler is exhausted. Anyone listening to someone with a toddler complain about them is likely exhausted, too.

With Veda’s temper tantrums ramping up and my will to survive chipping away, I know it’s time for a change. I want to enjoy my kids, not just survive them. But how? What do I do? Both my partner and I are former teachers. I hold a master degree. We’ve done what all the books say to do: implement a routine, provide structure, involve them in chores around the house, encourage their independence, etc. Why is this little person still destroying us (well, me mostly)?!?!

And then it clicked one day. Okay, it didn’t happen magically like a thunder bolt of understanding sent from God. It was actually a small piece of advice given to me by a counselor. She told me quite plainly, “you need to set boundaries or you will continue having a hard time and she will struggle more and more as she gets older.” Boom. Just like that. I’d been trying SO HARD to be there and do whatever was needed to raise good humans that I neglected to see that I was the problem. I was too available, too present and tuned in. This was effectively handicapping Veda’s ability to fully see and experience her surroundings, identify her own needs and then vocalize them in an appropriate way. Screaming at me to bend to her demands was all she had ever known because that’s the only option I had given her.

Here are three things I’m currently working on to help transform my toddler monster into a more normal toddler. Sorry, no magic transformations here! She still has her tired, hungry, angry moods just like the rest of us AND she’s still developing her frontal lobe.

#1 | Decide what you want the outcome to be, and hold firm to that.

This seems basic, and when we first had our kids I was overly aware of not ‘giving in’ to cries and tantrums. But somewhere along the way my kids caught on to my methods and started manipulating me. Here’s an example many can relate to…Veda spilled a cup of Cheerios on the ground this morning and refused to pick them up. I looked at the Cheerios spread across my kitchen floor and decided on my desired outcome: Veda will pick those up, not me. I immediately told Veda to pick them up and she looked away. I repeated my command and she walked away from me. Rather than engage in a power struggle and struggle/force her to do it, I went on with what I was doing and waited. About a minute later she came over and asked to be picked up. I said, “no, not until you pick up your Cheerios.” She walked away again. Another minute went by and she came over and asked for a banana. I repeated, “no, not until you pick up your Cheerios.” This pattern repeated a few more times over the span of about 10 minutes. In the end, she begrudgingly picked up her Cheerios (with the help of our family pug, Tucker). There were screams and some tears from her, but I stuck to my desired outcome. After the mess was cleaned I gave her the requested banana and picked her up. In the past I would have gotten impatient, worried about all the Cheerios crumbs likely getting smooshed into the floor cracks, and picked them up myself. The lesson Veda learned would have been, “mom will do it,” instead of “I’m responsible for my own messes.” Had she continued to refuse to pick them up, I likely would have tried to do it jointly while singing the “clean-up, clean-up, everybody do their share” song. This way she still would have some sense of responsibility – much better than me doing 100% of it.

#2 | Pay it forward

One of the biggest triggers for Veda and me is my transition from work to home. I have the flexibility to work remotely and have been doing so for years. However, Veda and Pax have only been working/schooling/playing from home since March. When my work day ends and it’s time to relieve their nanny, Miss Sherri, I just pop up from the basement office and I’m home. Without fail, as soon as I come up the stairs Veda wants in my arms. The screams of “UP! UP! UPPIE!!” would make my stomach sink. Of course, I love holding my daughter and relish any chance I have to get snuggles. But these weren’t cries for snuggles. She wanted up and she wanted to dictate what I would do for the next…10, 15, 30 minutes or longer. Clearly that was not possible. This nearly always led to a giant tantrum and a major anxiety spike in me. Neither of which was how I wanted to start our evenings off.

To get ahead of this tantrum I started something new: when I come up from the basement I greet both kids and immediately start participating in whatever they are currently doing. Whether it is reading books, playing Legos, or watching a show, I would get down on their level and spend time totally immersed in their activity. After a reasonable amount of time, 5-8 minutes, I would quietly excuse myself with a quick, “I’ll be right back” or “I need to start dinner”. No tantrums. No cries of “UP!”. The kids always continue playing OR come along to help me with the next task. Tantrums avoided!

#3 | Follow through on (reasonable) consequences

For the past few months my kids have wanted to sleep in the same room. I think it’s adorable and try to encourage sibling bonding whenever I possibly can. We have moved a sleep mat into my daughter’s room for my son to sleep on. Since naps are still done independently, Pax brings his stuffies, blanket, and pillow over to Veda’s room, with her help, every night. It’s really sweet. While I would love to say that both kids lay in their beds and fall asleep quietly after we say goodnight and turn out the lights, that would be a bold-faced lie. They usually spend anywhere from 30-60 minutes playing in Veda’s room until finding their way back into bed and passing out. It’s all harmless play and my partner and I have decided we are OK with it so long as it remains safe and doesn’t go on too long.

There have been many occasions when the playing hasn’t stopped and an intervention was needed. In the beginning, I was going back upstairs to tell them to be quiet 5 or 6 times with no luck. Each time I would say something along the lines of, “that’s enough, time for bed, go to sleep now or I’m sending Pax back to his room.” You can guess how that worked out for me. Nothing changed until one day I decided to set and then stick to the firm boundary of implementing the threatened consequence. I went up to Veda’s room, gave them a final warning and left. The next time I went up I moved Pax back to his room. It was a loud, screaming-cry fest that neither kid liked. Pax threatened to “just sneak back in” many times and Veda sobbed while calling out for her brother. It was heartbreaking. But I kept replaying my mantra in my head, “I’m making our lives easier in the long run. I’m making our lives easier in the long run.” After a few minutes of me patiently waiting while sitting next to them, both settled down, I would explain the poor choice and the resulting consequence to each kid. They were so tired they passed out shortly afterwards, each in their own beds. The next night at bed time the now familiar routine of moving Pax’s things into Veda’s room would unfold. What changed was my firm, yet loving reminder of the consequence that would be executed if they made bad choices. It’s working so far, just a few days in. I promise to keep you all posted!

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