What’s Up at Five Months?

Baby Lo and MamaA lot has happened since I blogged about The Three-Month Turning Point. Lo’s first two teeth came in, her sleep got better… and then worse, and she found her voice (lots of happy screams and adorable babble).

The biggest change has been bringing formula into the picture. After calculating the number of hours I was spending on pumping breast milk, cleaning the supplies, heating bottles and physically feeding Lo, I realized it was a third of my day. I was starting to feel like a slave to the pump. (Check out this blog if you’re curious as to why I pumped instead of feeding on the breast).

Slowly but surely, I started subbing in formula, realizing that it would alleviate some of the exhaustion I was feeling and allow more flexibility when we were out and about (no racing back home to keep on a pumping schedule). I also secretly hoped it would help Lo sleep better because I had heard such tales (it didn’t). And let’s be honest, I was also excited to no longer have gale force suction tugging on my boobs several times a day.

Not all babies transition well to formula, but my little piggy chowed down like a champ on the first try. If it had been a struggle I probably wouldn’t have been so keen on feeding Lo formula, but she was as happy and healthy as ever.

There is a certain stigma from those who believe you should breastfeed exclusively, but I never really fell prey to that pressure. If you can breastfeed and enjoy it, then by all means keep it up, but if using formula makes you a happier mama for your baby, than that’s as valuable as any benefit that breast milk may have.

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Mommy Makeover + Beauty Faves

Mommy MakeoverThis weekend our Mommy Makeover winner, Kirsten, was pampered at Air Salon, including hair by the talented Delanah Reudink and makeup by your’s truly. Kirsten was already a gorgeous canvas to work with; all we really did was enhance her natural beauty.

For Kirsten’s complexion I started out with Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Moisturizer SPF 25 under her eye area and along the tips of her cheekbones. RESIST CELLULAR DEFENSE SPF 25This daytime moisturizer has a brightening and lightening effect that works perfectly to enliven skin and wears beautifully under foundation/concealer. The luminous finish adds a youthful, radiant glow to highlight cheekbones and the moisturizing factor helps soften the appearance of fine lines and crow’s feet. It’s an anti-aging powerhouse formula so you’ll also reap long-term benefits, particularly repair and protection from sun damage.

Nude Matte EyeshadowNext, I played up Kirsten’s eyes with The Nude Mattes Eyeshadow Palette from Paula’s Choice. The neutral and brown tones work beautifully together to bring out her striking blue eyes, and I used one of the taupe shades to fill in her brows. Before this palette came along I was a loyal fan of Urban Decay’s Naked palettes, but this one has more matte finish options, which work particularly well if you have crinkly eyelids because it camouflages wrinkles (as opposed to shiny metallic and shimmer finishes which only enhance them). Bonus: it’s $14 less!

Physicians Formula EyelinerFor eyeliner, I applied Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum (my all-time favorite) in the shade Black to create the optical of illusion of an amplified lash line volume and extended a subtle wing on the outer edges for a lifting effect.Clinique High Impact Mascara To round out the look, I added a coat of Clinique’s High Impact Mascara to create thick, lush lashes.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I started with the eyes, it’s because typically a bit of eyeshadow drips down during the application process which ends up creating a mess on top of your foundation. By applying eyeshadow first, you avoid this problem, and it’s also a good idea to base the rest of your makeup application around the intensity of  your shadow. If you do a heavy eye, go subtle on the lips and vice versa.

Best Face Forward FoundationNext, up foundation. Kirsten has great skin to begin with, but she had a few problem areas that concerned her. She normally wears a BB cream with ultra-sheer coverage so she wanted to try something that would do more to conceal her trouble spots. We used Paula’s Choice Best Face Forward Foundation SPF 25 for medium coverage and enhanced the look Paula’s Choice Sunkissed Bronzer. Sunkissed Custom BronzerI love that this matte bronzer comes with two shades: one for a believeable, sunkissed tan color and the other, a darker shade that works great for contouring.

shimmer-waves_BodyShopTo add a pop of color and radiant glow to Kirsten’s cheeks, I applied The Body Shop’s Shimmer Waves in the shade 02 Blush. It’s a beautifully luminous blush, which helps add youthfulness by drawing attention to cheekbones. FYI- This is a dupe for Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Brick in the shade Rose, and it’s $20 cheaper!

Mally Beauty Pro Lip PaletteFor Kirsten’s lips, we created a custom color using the Mally Beauty Pro-Tricks Lip Palette. I love this kit because it comes with several shades that you can mix and match for all skin tones and occasions. We experimented with different hues before ending on a gorgeous berry shade to complement her blue eyes, and blonde hair.

Love the look? For more beauty faves, check out my Best and Worst New Beauty Launches post and stay tuned for more makeup and skincare dupes to come!

Daddyhood in the Workplace

This morning I watched a segment on the work-life balance that fathers face in today’s job market. Being married to someone in the construction management industry, I know the challenges firsthand. My husband has to juggle fatherhood along with long hours, stressful deadlines, and a constant feeling of needing to do more. There are days when he leaves the house at 5:30am and doesn’t get home until 10pm.

I feel awful when Jason doesn’t get to see Lo before she goes to bed. As hard as it is for him to miss out on the little things now, I imagine it will only get more difficult as she grows up, and he has to miss sports games, recitals, and funny everyday moments.

It’s also tough on me as a mom to get no relief throughout the day. I too struggle with finding the balance between working from home, getting things done around the house, and making sure my little one is being stimulated enough throughout the day. And let’s be honest… sometimes I just want a break.

Unfortunately, the value of parenting has been slighted by workaholic standards in today’s economy. While this isn’t true for everyone, it is true for too many of us.

Luckily, I have a husband who acknowledges this and is trying his best to rectify the situation in whatever ways he can. Every Saturday he gets one-on-one time with Lo while I work on my freelance projects, and every so often he’ll take a vacation day just so we can have more time together as a family.

It’s not that I think that parents should receive special treatment in the workplace. I just wish in general that corporations respected the work-life balance of their employees. If someone chooses to be married to their job because that’s what makes them happy that’s one thing, but it shouldn’t be the expectation for the rest of us.

End rant. Now watch the clip above and let me know what you think.

Parenting Fail or Genius?

laundry basket baby

While celebrating a dear friend’s birthday this past weekend we committed what some may consider a parenting fail… or a genius MacGyver maneuver. We turned a laundry basket into a crib for Lo and tucked her away in an empty room to sleep while we socialized.

White trash? Yeah a little. But also kind of brilliant, right?

In an effort to make my parenting skills seem not so bad, here are some truly epic parenting fails.

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Day Trip: Zillah’s Wine Country

Zillah Wine Tour GuideWashington State has it all: You can surf the coast, ski the pass, hike the rainforest, and sail the San Juans. But across the mountains, the desert terrain of Eastern Washington is often overlooked, and with it, the unspoiled wine country of the lower Yakima Valley where I grew up in.

Though small in population, my home sweet home Zillah is the birthplace to over twenty wineries. Zillah’s wine country may be a little rougher around the edges than Napa Valley, or even Woodinville for that matter, but that’s what makes winetasting here such a fun and unique experience.

Instead of highfalutin sommeliers and tasting fees that break the bank, you’re treated to laidback, old-fashioned hospitality. But don’t misjudge Zillah’s lack of grandiose for being inferior in viticulture. This region is home to award-winning wines, and provides the ideal climate for some of your favorite Washington vino.

Whether you come for the wine, awe-inspiring views, or you simply want an escape from the Seattle rain, here are a few of my favorite wineries to explore in Zillah and the lower Yakima Valley.

Bonair Winery ZillahBonair

Bonair Winery has old world charm, right down to the Bavarian-style architecture and adorable duck pond. If you’re a newbie to the wine experience this is a good place to start since they offer a wide variety of both red and white varieties. Have a sweet tooth? You’ll be in heaven with their port and dessert wines!

j bell cellarsJ Bell Cellars

I just discovered this hidden gem on my last wine country excursion and fell in love with the adorable courtyard, surrounded by lavender fields. If exclusivity is your thing, you’ll appreciate the boutique-style feel and limited availability of their handcrafted wines.

Knight Hill WineryKnight Hill

Knight Hill Winery earns a spot on my list for its breathtaking views, overlooking the valley below. Pull up a seat on the patio and sip away, or venture over to the grassy plains for a lawn game with a buzz.

 

Silver Lake Winery

Silver Lake

Silver Lake Winery is a personal favorite of mine for the lush vineyard setting with the Rattlesnake Hills as their backdrop. The friendly staff will make you feel right at home, and if you’re lucky you might just hit one of their many special events that include food pairings and live music. Come for the wine, stay for the entertainment.

Portteus Winery ZilahPortteus

Remember that award-winning wine I was talking about? You’ll find it at the family-owned Portteus Winery. Sample Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Orange Muscat, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel, and everything in between. A wine-lover’s utopia!

 

 

How to get around?

Even though the pours may seem small, tastings accumulate fast. Play it safe and hire a driver. If your group is the laidback, fun-loving type, I recommend the reasonably-priced Yakima Valley Tours (seats eight comfortably, nine if you don’t mind getting a little cozy). Or go all out with limo, town car, or party bus depending on the size of your crew.

Where to stay?

Lodging options in Zillah are limited, but if you really want the full experience, stay in a deluxe Teepee at the Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn and ask about their horseback wine tours.

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More wineries?

The list above is just a small sample of what Zillah and the surrounding wine country has to offer. Other favorites include Cultura, Hyatt Vineyards, and Steppe Cellars, just to name a few. Visit the Yakima Valley Wine Country page for more info and events.

Have a favorite Yakima valley winery? Comment below!

Mother’s Day Makeover Contest!

Delanah and her gorgeous daughter Essie!

Delanah and her gorgeous daughter Essie!

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I’m teaming up with my talented sister, Delanah, at Air Salon to give one lucky lady a fabulous day of pampering. Nominate a deserving mama for a chance to win a makeover, including hair and makeup!

Know a mama who needs a break, had a rough month, or could use a little pick me up? Head over to Air Salon’s Facebook page and tell us why your nominee should win. Or if you want to keep it a secret, nominate them in the comments section below!

Winner will be announced on Mother’s Day, May 11th.

*Services to be performed at Air Salon in Issaquah, WA. Date to be determined based on winner’s availability.

4 Time-Saving, Hidden Gems from Costco

Time Saving Meals from CostcoMy hubby is obsessed with Costco… I mean the type of obsession that leads him to buying my Christmas presents there, his underwear, and of course a five-gallon tub of Peanut Butter. Naturally I go for the samples. Lately we’ve discovered some new staples that were so good I just had to share.

Perfect Bar Almond-Butter-BoxBREAKFAST: Perfect Bar

Perfect Bars are scrumdiddlyumptious, gluten-free, organic, a good source of protein in the morning, and they don’t contain any preservatives (you keep them in the fridge). Perfect Bars are also rich in calories so if you have trouble getting your little one to eat, it’ll fill them up fast. One bar completely satisfies me in the morning (my fave is the 300-calorie Almond Butter bar). They are on the pricier side, but when you don’t have a lot of time to prep breakfast for yourself or a snack/meal for your kid, these tasty little bars are worth every penny.

GoodFoods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad at CostcoLUNCH: GoodFoods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad

GoodFoods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad comes in eight individual serving cups, perfect for lunch on-the-go. Made with Greek yogurt, they’re only 150-calories a pop while packing 13 grams of protein to keep you energized and sustained. Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad is yummy enough to eat on its own or sandwiched between two slices of bread.

Costco Korean BBQDINNER: Costco’s own Korean BBQ

While shopping in the fresh, pre-made meals section I stumbled upon Costco’s own Korean BBQ mix. So delish! This pairs well with stir-fry (Costco has an awesome Kale and Swiss Chard stir-fry in the produce/salad department), and is ideal for entertaining guests. We’ve also used it on kabobs and it is kabomb!

Kaurinas Kulfi Ice CreamDESSERT: Kaurina’s Kulfi Ice Cream Bars

Don’t have time to make dessert? Bust out these decadent ice cream treats. The variety pack comes with exotic flavors including Mango, Pistachio Almond, and Malai (Cardamon Cream). Indigenous to India, these creamy Kulfi bars are out-of-this-world good, and since they’re only 80 calories, they make the perfect after-dinner snack.

 

Best and Worst New Beauty Launches

Best and Worst New Beauty Launches For the last few weeks I’ve been getting back to the grind of reviewing beauty products and have seen my fair share of hits and misses.

Of the whopping 65 hot, new items I’ve tested here are the best and worst.

 

BEST

Paula’s Choice SUN 365 Self-Tanning FoamPaulas Choice SUN 365 Self-Tanning Foam

Ever since I gave up tanning beds I’ve been on the hunt for the holy grail of self-tanners. This one from Paula’s Choice might just be it. Not only does it deliver believable sun-kissed color, the fast absorbing mousse texture dries within minutes and the fragrance-free formula doesn’t have the strong after-smell that other sunless tanning creams do.

Clinique Lash Power Feathering MascaraClinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara

Lash Power Feather Mascara delivers on its promise to lengthen and define lashes with a feathery-soft look. More to love, the mascara is buildable so you can achieve a decent amount of thickness, and as an added bonus, it’s easy to remove. Bravo Clinique!

Ulta Extreme Wear Eyeshadow PrimerUlta Extreme Wear Eyeshadow Primer

I have a major issue with eyeshadow creasing throughout the day (thanks to my uber oily skin) so I’m always on the prowl for a good eyeshadow primer. Over the years I’ve tried several, but this one kicks the competition to the curb and is only $10!

WORST

Sephora Upside Down MascaraSephora Upside Down Mascara

Mascara gimmicks come and go, but this is one of the worst I’ve experienced in a while. You’re supposed to sandwich lashes between the two brushes to coat the top and bottom at the same time, but it’s virtually impossible to do without getting the mascara all over your eyelid. Not only that, but the result is majorly clumped lashes. Epic fail!

Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

At $75 you’d expect this tinted moisturizer to be loaded with superstar ingredients, but it’s not. Worse, despite the SPF 20 rating, it lacks the ingredients needed for broad spectrum sun protection leaving your skin susceptible to sun damage. Not only that, but the shades carry an unflattering pinkish tone. Trish McEvoy makes some beautiful makeup products; just not this one.

YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20

The first strike against this foundation is the strong soapy/rosy scent that reminds me of my grandma’s bathroom. That’s a bad sign since fragrance is never a good thing for skin due to the irritation it can cause. In terms of ingredients, the “serum” foundation formula isn’t all that impressive. The small amount of antioxidants that this does contain break down in the presence of light which means the clear bottle packaging won’t be able to keep them stable. Save your $69 and check out top-rated foundations on Beautypedia (for a lot less money)!

 

The Three Month Turning Point

IMG_1564Lo turned three months this week, and what a difference it’s made. She is now consistently getting four-hour stretches of sleep at night, no longer pooping through every diaper change, and really starting to show off the Stordahl charm with her adorable, toothless smile. She even manages to entertain herself for periods of a time in front of the mirror (I have no idea where she got that from). 🙂

I’m starting to get the hang of things too. I no longer dread trips to the grocery store in fear of Lo crying out of control, and getting out of the house doesn’t seem as daunting a task as it used to. I’m also back to work with steady freelance gigs, and just started interviewing nannies so I can take on more hours.

But perhaps the biggest turning point is that I’m finally really enjoying motherhood. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but the first few months weren’t all butterflies and roses. I had a borderline-colicky baby who wanted to be held 24/7, a husband away at work from 6am to 8pm, and on top of everything else, I was averaging about two hours of sleep a night.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my sweet Lo Lo- I absolutely did- and there are tons of precious memories that I’ll  cherish forever about those first couple months. But now that we’ve both gotten into the groove of things, I’m able to really appreciate the fact that I’m able to stay home with my little one.

To any new moms out there struggling to get through the first challenging months, keep your head up. It does get better. And don’t feel guilty if you’re not as infatuated with being a mom as your friends are or as you think you should be; it doesn’t mean you love your child any less.

In fact, you may need to book a little time away from your baby. The first time my mom watched Lo overnight it was amazing. Not only did I feel re-energized and reconnected with my hubby, but I woke up the next morning super excited to see my little one. Sometimes a little time away is just what the doctor ordered.

 

 

Use This, Not That: Baby Edition

Use This Not That BABY EDITIONI’m a laidback mom, but when it comes to what I put on my baby’s skin, I don’t mess around.  Despite labels that read “gentle”, “tear-free”, or “for sensitive skin”, many baby care products contain irritating ingredients such as fragrance, added colorants, and volatile essential oils.

With a background in skincare research, I know the ins and outs of what’s good or bad for skin. Use my cheat sheet for popular offenders to avoid and what to use on your little one’s fragile skin instead.

USE: Babyganics Shampoo + Body Wash, Fragrance Free

NOT: Johnson’s Baby Head-to-Toe Wash

Use This Not That BABY SHAMPOO

 

USE: Eucerin Daily Replenishing Moisturizing Lotion

NOT: Johnson’s Baby Lotion

Use This Not That BABY LOTION

 

 

USE: Triple Paste Medicated Ointment for Diaper Rash

NOT: Desitin Diaper Cream

Use This Not That Diaper Rash Cream

 

USE: Burt’s Bees Baby Bee SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick

NOT: Hawaiian Tropic Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 50

Use This Not That BABY SUNBLOCK

 

 

USE: All Free Clear Laundry Detergent

NOT: Mrs. Meyers Baby Blossom Laundry Detergent

Use This Not That FRAGRANCE FREE LAUNDRY DETERGENT