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{MINDFUL MONDAY} Mindful Moment #1: Labor Day Weekend in Pajaro Dunes

5 Sep

Jane’s First Day of School

1 Sep

Yesterday was Jane’s first day of school.

At 2 years, 7 months, my little baby went off to preschool.

I thought there would be tears on somebody’s part:  mine or hers.  Or possibly both.

But instead, it was one of the best days we’ve shared so far.

Jane was giddy with excitement and couldn’t wait to get dressed, put on her little backpack and bound down the front stairs to clamber into the car seat she usually refuses to even go near.  When we arrived at the school parking lot, she nearly pulled my arm out of the socket trying to get me to “Hurry up!

So many people have asked whether I am sad, but it’s quite the opposite.

I’m happy.  Happy that the day went off without a hitch.  Happy that my little Jane was so excited about her first day of school.  Happy that my plan of preparing her for this day by reading countless books about going to school and watching re-runs of “going to school”-type television episodes seems to have worked.  Happy that I chose to stay at home when I did.  Happy that the past two months after I quit have been purposefully spent creating an atmosphere of love and happiness and security in our little nest.  Happy that she’s ready to fly.

And off she goes . . .

Jane’s New Pet

30 Aug

We’ve had several fish over the past year:  goldfish, neon tetras, feeders. Somehow none of them have ever lasted more than a few days.

Now whenever Jane sees a fish, she says, “Mommy, is that fish going to die?“*

Lately, I’ve found myself promising to get her a rabbit, since I figure it’s easier to take care of than a cat or dog and cuter than a gerbil or hamster.

But in the meantime, Jane trapped a spider!

Charlotte has been with us for several days now and is still going strong.

Can’t say the same for her babies.

*Yes, we’re a family that has introduced the concept of death to our children since the get go.  And we don’t gloss over it.  As in, “Lie down while you’re eating and choke and die,” or “The car will hit you and you will die,” and on many unfortunate occasions, “The fish is dead.”

{Style & Beauty} The Perfect Black Tie Wedding or Formal Event Look

24 Aug

Since I’m loving weddings this week, I thought I would share the perfect look for your next black-tie or formal affair.

This outfit took me through three events this summer, including a ballroom black-tie wedding, an outdoor wine country wedding, and a fancy dinner on the town, and will no doubt take you straight through fall and right into winter, too:

  1. Chanel Half Moon Wallet on Chain in Grey Metallic (pictured above in Black).  Finally, the perfect evening handbag:  with six credit card slots, enough room for your smartphone, lipstick and keys, and a crossbody or clutch option, you’ll never need another evening purse again . . . except this one in every color.  Find it at Neiman Marcus and Chanel boutiques.
  2. David Meister Drop Shoulder Gown.  This drop shoulder jersey dress has more interest than a strapless gown, figure flattering side ruching, and a bold enough brooch embellishment that you can forego a necklace.  Available at Bloomingdales.
  3. Dior Ondine Crystal Flower Temple Sunglasses in Black.  The perfect way to bring the bling.
  4. Stuart Weitzman Jazziest Platforms.  Black satin beauties guaranteed to lengthen your gams and bring your style to new heights.

And of course, don’t forget to complete your look with a smoldering eye and peachy pout:

  1. Les Quatres Ombres de Chanel in Smokey Eyes.  If the intensity overwhelms you, try a softer version with the Murano quad.
  2. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner in Black Ink.  You could always try MAC’s Fluidline in Blacktrack or Smashbox’s Cream Eye Liner in Black – the most important thing is using the right brush.
  3. MAC Lipglass in Clear.  Sure, it’s sticky, but it stays put.
  4. Chanel Joues Contraste in In Love.  Of course.
  5. Dior Diorshow Mascara in Black.  Get waterproof if you’re a crier, but stick to the original formula and brush instead of the newer Diorshow Black Out.
  6. Dior Rouge Lipstick in Mazette No. 028.  This perfectly bright cherry coral can be lightly applied as a sheer wash or layered for an intense pop of color.
  7. MAC Lashes in No. 36.  A not too obvious fringe to bat around the ballroom.
  8. Chanel Le Crayon Levres Precision in Rouge.  Line, fill and blend with one tool.

For a less spendy look, try these alternatives:

  1. MAC Cine-Matics Smoky Black Makeup Lesson.  Makeup made easy with all you need for your smoky eye look in a compact travel case with mirror:  three eyeshadows, Technakohl eyeliner in Graphblack, Zoom Lash mascara in Zoom Black and two brushes.
  2. Nars Blush in Orgasm.  This contemporary classic needs no introduction.
  3. Boots No7 Lip Glace in Cherry Kiss (or try Tangerine Twist).  Target comes through with this imported essential you’ll use every day.
  4. Nars Creme Lipstick in Blonde Venus (or try Belle de Jour).  Good for brunettes, too.

And for a complete – almost – all in one solution (with a most befitting name), try NARS Limited Edition Everlasting Love Artist Palette:

Happy Glam-ming!

The Outlaw Mom (TM) Seal of Approval:  I have owned, tried and tested each and every one of these fabulous products and trust me, ladies, they will not let you down!

My Little Parrot: Censoring Children’s Playlists

23 Aug

I love that Jane loves music.

She has her favorite songs, like “I’m Yours,” by Jason Mraz, which she can sing by heart from start to finish, and classics from my parents’ time like “A Summer Song,” by Chad and Jeremy.

We don’t censor what she listens to.

Today she looked up at me and repeated over and over, “I really f@$ed it up this time!”

I was proud of her for her great musical taste and for being able to so clearly pick out the lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man” without me singing them to her.  Is it time for us to start playing the clean version?

I don’t recall my mother ever censoring my music choices.

I suppose I was much older than Jane is now before I started hearing swear words in my favorite songs.  When we were young we mostly listened to Anne Murray, The Carpenters and Olivia Newton-John (I’m talking the early 70s, pre-Grease albums).  Those were all lyrically dreamy and feel-good songs where the songbirds would never dream of cursing in the main chorus.

In the early 80s, I began the slow transition to contemporary easy-listening and finally found my way to the good stuff when I was around 8 years old.  Even then, the subject matter of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” or Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” completely eluded me.  Even if I heard extensive profanity in the heavy metal and rap I eventually listened to, it didn’t really matter to me then.  I just loved the music.

It’s probably the same for Jane, whose extensive vocabulary doesn’t (yet) include profanity.

So perhaps the only real reason to censor what she listens to is the fear of reproach from other parents, and possibly reprimand from her preschool teacher, if she suddenly belts out something inappropriate.

I’m not sure that’s reason enough.

What do you think?  Do you censor your child’s playlists?

{Review} Big Basin: Our Family’s Big Adventure

16 Aug

Every family has that one story.

You know, like our dad friend who traveled with his four sick kids on a transatlantic flight and had to sit in a layered mess of spit-up, vomit and diarrhea for the entire flight while he tended to his brood single-handedly.

After today, if there was any doubt whether we’re really and truly a family, there isn’t any now.

The day started out nicely.

Low 70s, sunny skies, a cool breeze:  the perfect day for light hike and a picnic under the redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I drove, instead of Hubby, since the road through the mountains is so windy and I’m very prone to car sickness.  The drive was easy enough, though a bit long for my young ones.

When we finally arrived, Jane and Sam took to the forest, running around and exploring every nook and cranny:

It was difficult, but Jane managed harrowing escape from some trolls living under a bridge:

We looked for insects and I pointed out the various trees and plant growth along the path:

Upon spotting a rock covered in green moss, I asked: “What do you think that is?”

I think it smells like allergies,” Jane replied matter of factly.

After our picnic, we planned to stop for ice cream at the General Store.

Good thing we didn’t.

On our drive home, just as we had made it down the 45 minutes of winding road into the flatland of Saratoga proper, Jane yelled,

“Look at Sam!”

Hubby and I whirled around to see Jane pointing at her little brother who had fallen victim to the sway of the windy roads (and my speeding).  We stopped the car and then heard gurgling noises from Jane’s side.

Who knew that a 2.5 year old’s stomach had a two gallon capacity?

My only consolation:  Jane’s sympathetic reaction to Sam’s plight must mean that somehow – somewhere way down deep – she likes, and maybe even loves, her pest of a brother.

Luckily, it was only a short 15-minute straight shot home and I dunked them into the tub as soon as we arrived home.  Looking at their poor, pale little faces, I thought I would jump in, too, and play with them to make up for putting them through the day’s ordeal.

I stepped into the tub and felt the soap underfoot.

It must have fallen down from the soap dish and gotten a little soggy from the bath.  It squished between my toes, so I bent down to pick it up.

It wasn’t soap.  And there was a whole bathtub full of it.  Apparently, I was right – the misery of the car ride that Jane and Sam shared did indeed bring them closer together.  Minutes earlier while I was putting their soiled clothes into the washing machine, I had heard them curiously giggling together (instead of the usual clobbering and crying from Jane trying to drown her brother in the bath).  I now realize that the children were conspiring to seek revenge for my car-sickness-inducing driving through a cleverly crafted Simultaneous Number Two plot.

After everyone was cleaned up, I gave Jane a recap of the day, including the last two messy events, and asked her what kind of day she had.  “Was it a good day?”

She smiled quietly and said,”We had a big adventure.”

Details for your big adventure:

Happy Trails!

{MINDFUL MONDAY} Adventures Of A Working Mom Staying At Home: Weeks Three to Five

15 Aug

Looking back, Weeks One and Two were seriously hectic.  Luckily, we were on vacation for Weeks Three and Four.

Even though it technically wasn’t a “vacation” vacation – more a visit home to the in-laws’ – it was wonderful to get away from our routine and put some distance between working life and my new life at home with the kids.

In fact, our holiday turned out to be just what I needed to clear my head and get a grasp of what it is to be with family and focus on being together.

Last week, Week Five, ended up being my first real taste of what it is to be a stay-at-home-mom.

And you know what?  I loved it.  Jet lagged babies and all.

No interesting thoughts or details or stories to share with you, unfortunately, because seven days of warm, peaceful, contentment doesn’t make for much in the way of a blog post.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

9 Aug

Seriously, Purse On Us?

Top Ten Worst Smells On A Baby

8 Aug

Aaaahh…the smell of babies….

Nothing smells better than soft baby skin, a baby’s warm head or a newborn baby’s breath.

The natural scent of my own babies makes me drool and the first whiff of their baby fragrance when I arrive home from work makes me swoon with love, longing and heartache all at the same time.

Jane, now 2, has stopped smelling like a baby and has taken on that wet dog funk that all kids have after playing outside, unless she’s straight out of the bath.

Sam, just 1, oh . . . the smell of him . . . I could eat baby cheeks for weeks.

While nothing is sweeter than that inexplicably fresh scent of a baby, there are a few smells on a child that so horrifically assault my olfactory senses to trigger an instant gag reflex.

From the least offensive to the worst, here’s what makes my stomach churn when I smell it on a baby, especially one of my own:

10) garlic

9) onions

8)fish sauce

7) fish

6) Poly-Vi-Sol with Iron

5) wine

4) beer

3) perfume

2) scented detergent

1) another woman’s perfume

Smelling another woman’s perfume on one of my children has to be the most offensive scent of them all by a landslide.  Not only has another person marked one of mine as her own, but now my child smells like “a baby prostitute” (as Lizzy Caplan’s Janis Ian describes Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron in Mean Girls).  Too vile for words.

Adventures Of A Working Mom Staying At Home {Week Two}

18 Jul

I’ve quit the law, if you didn’t already know.  As in I’m not practicing it, not that I’m not following it.

My first week as a stay-at-home mom was a little messy.  But thankfully, this week was bleach-free and everything landed where it was supposed to (well, almost).

Here’s the summary of Week Two by emotional highlight of each day:

Day One

Day Two

  • Pleased to finally spend some quality time with the kids and Uncle B during his visit home.

Day Three

  • Scared to bits by Super 8; shocked that I actually made it to the movies (it’s been a year almost to the date).

Day Four

  • Ecstatic that one of my dear friends got engaged and happy to have the time to bake Gingerbread Sweetheart Cakes to celebrate, despite Jane’s refusal to nap.

Day Five

  • Regret having celebrated my friend’s engagement with a “Scorpion Bowl” (in addition to the glasses of wine imbibed prior to said “Scorpion Bowl”).

Day Six

  • Astounded to discover irrefutable proof that a universal standard of beauty exists.

Jane  – Mommy, who’s that?

Me – Brad Pitt.

Jane – Brad Pitt is beautiful.

{Image via NewsMania}

Day Seven

  • Dumbfounded when I find Sam hunched nose-first over the kitchen floor mat, until I realize that he is trying to re-ingest his regurgitated dinner cat-style.
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