But We All Love Wine

You might not know this about me, but I love politics. I love politics so much I’ve had friends brief their friends not to mention current events around me. “Just don’t mention Mitt Romney or you’ll live to regret it,” they say. They don’t think I hear them, but I do. (I hear you, SUSAN.) I love politics almost as much as I love big hair and Jesus and I love those things a lot. But, precious people, please hear me: I can’t take it anymore.

Left or right, I think we can agree that opening Facebook is like being punched in the face with a million opinions. I’ve always loved that social media can be a forum for thoughtful, meaningful political discourse, but its also given way to Ass-hat Syndrome and I simply cannot even. It got so terrible after the election, I had to unfollow people I adore (on both sides of the aisle) because they simply could not be kind or decent about their politics. I won’t claim to know exactly what the founding fathers had in mind for democracy, but I hardly think they anticipated it be carried out in 140 characters of shouty capitals.

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The worst part about having to unfollow you? Having to unfollow you.

See, I didn’t want your name-calling and unkind memes, but I did want to see your post about your daughter’s first steps. I wanted to know about that promotion, that engagement, that brunch sandwich at that place I love. And, I wanted to know what you were thinking but I didn’t need it sandwiched in between melodrama and hyperbole. You know? Calling people “crybabies” or “deplorable” just makes them shut you out.

Worst of all, the discussions stopped. There were less and less opportunities for us to engage in productive conversation. When the conversation stops, we lose. We lose the insights and ideas of people with different perspectives and backgrounds. We lose the possibility of progress and the coming together of different mindsets. Those conversations are the cornerstone of our democracy, and those of us not interested in through-the-roof blood pressure are stopping the discussions for our sanity. I became afraid of being labeled “one of them” and just ranted and raved to my husband (who – unrelated, I’m sure – would like you all to know he just invested in ear plugs).

Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t a call for people to be less passionate or even less furious. If anything good came out of 2016, its that the formerly complacent bystanders found a reason to become engaged. Friends who had otherwise shrugged off political discussions were diving in deep and, even when I disagreed, I was so hopeful for a future of less Kardashian and more foreign policy.

So, Dear-Friend-Who-Disagrees-With-My-Politics, don’t stop coming over. Don’t stop coming to my table and discussing with me, questioning me, reasoning with me. Make less assumptions, open your ears, and I will too. We may not love all the same things, but we all love wine.

I miss you on Facebook and in real life,

Your Friendly (I SWEAR), Neighborhood Republican

P.S. Red or white?

White?

I knew I liked you.

I Love You (Most)

Dear husband,

I am going to level with you: I’m not exactly the woman you married. She had her act together. She did not have stretch marks. She showered precisely any time she wanted to. Crazy, right? When did she find the time? Indulgent wench. This season of life is tricky. What used to be sweet, flirty text exchanges now read a little something like this:

Did you call the guy about the thing?

Emergency: Please bring home Chipotle. Dinner is inedible (again).

Pleeeease tell me you DVR’d Scandal. 

Let me also let you in on a little secret (that I tell absolutely anyone who will listen, because let’s face it, secrets are not my forte): There is no one on this planet I love more. I don’t care whether we’re watching Finding Dory for the 8567th time or wiping yet another little person’s tush, I am irrevocably obsessed. Another secret? This is purely intentional. I have a reason for loving you most – despite loving and living for our two children. It’s all because of Aunt Sylvia.

At my baby shower, Aunt Sylvia bestowed upon me the most unsolicited piece of advice I’d ever received. “No matter how much you love your children, you must love your husband more.” Hold on. What? Someone take away Sylvia’s mimosa. “Wow, thanks Aunt Sylvia (who I made up for the purpose of this blog post) but that was the worst advice ever given to anyone, ever. Your wisdom is trash. Good day.” Though her delivery and timing might have been off (nothing like telling a 9-months-pregnant woman not to love her children most, right?) she was on to something.

You and I started this whole thing. This amazing, loud, beautiful group of people who fill our backseat? We made it. Our family didn’t start when our children were born, it started the day we chose one another. The day I decided I wanted to share everything with you; a mortgage, children, a very fancy washer dryer set I insisted upon having. You, with blue cheese on your cheek and a frosted mug of Blue Moon. I’ve had no clearer direction in my life than, “I need to be that man’s family.” And then came babies, and sleepless nights, and – of course – the washer dryer. It is the busiest, sometimes most challenging season and often at the end of a long day of pouring out love for our children, it becomes hard to reserve space for one another. But I do anyway, because I love you most.

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And one day, because parenthood is amazing and cruel, this season will end. We will drop them off at Harvard or The School for Enthusiastic Whistlers, or wherever their sweet and amazing souls decide is worthy of our life’s savings. After I’ve stocked their fridge, interrogated the RA, double-checked the smoke detectors, and hugged them with the force of two decades of undying, motherly love… we will leave. They will leave us, because that is the point. We will have worked ourselves out of a job. They will always be our babies (a fact I will frantically remind them of when they take longer than an hour to respond to my texts). And sure, there will be Thanksgivings and weddings and grand-babies. But I will no longer tuck them in, make their lunches, watch their perfect lashes hit their cheeks as they fall asleep. This season we are in right now is fleeting, and I’m afraid to blink, because it will be gone.

Sooner than we know, it will be just how we started: Just us two. I’m not sure what we’ll do. Finally go to Paris? Take a cooking class? Binge watch HGTV? I don’t know. I just know that when all of this is said and done, it will be you and I left to finish the story.

This is why, my sweet and hysterical partner, I still make a point to choose you daily. Because you were my family first, and will be last. And whether it’s buying a washing machine, having a baby, or flying to Paris, every season with you is my favorite.

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Photos by Kody Diane Photography

Easy Glow with EverSkincare

If you caught my recent instagram post about my skincare regiment (or lack therof, really), you know I have no time for excessive skin maintenance. “Screw it, I’ll save up for Botox,” is my philosophy.

Well, folks, I’ve found the one-stop-shop for glowing skin without all the fuss.

See this beauty of a bottle? It’s called the “Overnight Facial.”  It’s a facial in a bottle, which is good, because the chances of me actually going to get a facial are slim to none. I have incredibly sensitive skin and almost no time for make-up, so this is how I get glowing skin sans effort. Also, it smells like roses. It’s DIVINE.

My girlfriend Jessica is a consultant for this booming skincare brand and she helped me select a product that would be perfect for my moody mom skin. (Find her on Instagram, here!)

Now is the perfect time to invest in your skin, since they’re running a promotion. Buy $150 worth of skincare products (which, let’s face it mamas, you could definitely use) and you’ll get this bottle of beauty for free – an $88 value. You’re welcome. Click here to get your own!

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A #BeenThereDoneThat Mom’s Guide to Gifts

Baby shower season is upon us! I am so excited for my many friends expecting their very own children, and I’m always hopeful to give them a special gift – one they’ll remember. I usually pick one practical gift off the registry. But I also like to give something special and memorable, and I always shop small when doing so. In doing this I give two people a gift:

  • The expectant mother gets a handmade, heartfelt gift.
  • A small shop owner (usually a mother herself) is introduced to a new mom, who hopefully will love the item and buy from the shop again. As someone who works in publicity, word-of-mouth is still the most prized form of PR. Best of all, it’s free.

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Holly’s Easter outfit: Target dress, Blushing Bows floral crown, Mary Jane style moccs in Distressed Honey

I most frequently gift baby shoes, and there is no better or kinder “mocc mama” than the mompreneur at the helm of TinyBabySoles. I own way too many pairs for my own kiddos, and I’m always stopped to ask where I got them. They are a hit at showers, and the moms I’ve given the shoes to always return to the shop to buy more.

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The shoes are super soft leather, perfect for newly formed feet and come in sizes small enough to slip on to a newborn baby. Finn and Holly both left the hospital in their very first pairs of TinyBabySoles and I’ll keep them forever.

If you’re shopping for your own children or an expectant mama, you simply cannot find a more special gift!

Thank you to my friend, Emily, at TinyBabySoles who sent Holly these moccasins as a gift. We will treasure them, always, as we have all of our moccs from your shop!

A Year With Two Under Two

To the mom expecting two under two,

Are you panicking? Good. That means you have a pulse and some sense. I’m sure you’re getting questions, like:

Aren’t you afraid about your first feeling abandoned?

How will you manage?

Did you plan that?

Mmm. Aren’t people the best?

I’m here to tell you that not only will it not be unmanageable, but you’re about to have the most fun of your life. Packed in with that fun will be sleepless nights and thousands (THOUSANDS) of diaper changes, but do not let the a*holes of this world harden you into thinking this is impossible. It is possible. It is amazing.

 

To prove it to you, here we are, a year later and still standing – and smiling.

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This is Finn. I know age two gets a bad rep, but he is my favorite little person to hang out with. Last night, as I put him to sleep, he stroked my face and whispered “mama!” When I opened my eyes, he giggled, and then fell asleep. I melted.

He LOVES to dance. He’s learning new words, slowly, with the help of a speech therapist. That’s been our biggest hurdle. But if I’m honest? I’m not worried. (That’s a lie. I’m a mom, so I’m always worried. I should say I try not to worry.) He is exactly the little boy he’s meant to be. I’m doing my best, he’s doing his best.

His favorite person is his grandpa, who he calls “Bubba.” He came up with that entirely on his own. In fact, we were calling Bubba, “Coach,” but Finn had other plans. So, Bubba he is.

He LOVES blueberries and hates peas. I sneak kale into smoothies, because the internet told me if you don’t give your kid kale, you don’t love them enough. Also, it’s healthy and it makes me feel better about when he refuses his nutritious dinner in favor of goldfish.

I know dressing girls is fun (believe me, my bill at Target today serves as evidence), but I am obsessed with dressing him. He wears mostly Zara and Old Navy, but I also do my best to shop small when I can. (I’ll do a post soon about my favorite boy shops, there are so many!)

He is so much like his Daddy, sometimes I swear I’m caring for a mini-Mike. He carries his lacrosse stick with him everywhere (“iyyy Dada,” which in Finn speak means “like Dad”). Here they are, hugging. Aren’t dads the best?

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And then there’s Holly Kate, our little ball of fire. If you’re wondering how she got her name, it’s actually a sweet story. I’ve always loved the name – it’s classic, iconic, delicate. I’ve always thought I’d have a Holly one day. We wanted to give Mike’s mama a nod in her name, so we knew instantly that Kate would be her middle name. If you know Mrs. G, you’ve probably experienced her affinity for Christmas. Santa stays atop her armoire for the whole year, and decorating the tree might as well be a national holiday. To say it is her favorite holiday would be putting it mildly, and she puts on a Christmas that her grandkids will remember for their whole lives. So, when going through our list of names (Collete? Scarlet? Harper? There was a lot of brainstorming), I brought up Holly to Mike and it just sort of worked. Not only would her middle name be an homage to Kate, but her first name would too, as a nod to Christmas. Our little Christmas in springtime.

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Holly’s favorite foods are… everything. As long as their is a lot of it. (How do you think she got those munchable cheeks?)

She talks non-stop, and is saying more words at 12 months than Finn is at two. Girls, I’m told, are the chatty type. If I’m any example, I think they’re right. She is bold and opinionated. Please pray for me during her teenage years, I will need it.

I am her favorite person. This should be flattering, and it is (kind of), but for the first six months of her life I could hardly put her down. I have, on more than a few occasions, peed with her on my lap. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes a mama’s gotta do what she’s gotta do. I hope we’re still thick as thieves in 20 years.

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So, to the precious mother expecting her second I say this:

Go ahead, panic a little bit. But know one thing: Not only are you not taking away anything from your first (that notion is my least favorite, for obvious reasons) but you’re giving both of your children the greatest gift they’ll ever receive, their very best friend for life.

Brew some coffee and buckle up.

-BG

Banishing Dry Skin: How to Care for Baby’s Eczema

I’ve hoped my kids would inherit many things from me: My ability to find a good bargain, to laugh at almost anything, and my obsession with clean counters (I’m singlehandedly keeping Pledge in business). What I had hoped they’d avoid, however, is my skin. I have suffered with eczema for my entire life. I can remember as a little girl, my mother pleading with me to stay still so she could smear the “sticky stuff” on my body and keep the cracking / bleeding at bay. She used to have me pretend I was a dalmatian while she’d cover me in dots of white, thick cream. I can remember her frown as she discovered new patches of dry, rough, red spots. I know the feeling, now, as I care for my own children’s skin.

When I noticed red patches on Finn and Holly’s little bodies, I knew that while they might have not gotten as severe as a case as mine – I have it on almost my entire body – but that I, too, would be playing the “Dalmatian game.” I’ve tried every product on the market to keep them from itching, scratching and bleeding; from the expensive kind you can buy at Nordstrom (I’ve essentially forked over my retirement thanks to Noodle & Boo) to age-old tricks like covering the patches in Vaseline. Some have worked better than others, but eventually, the patches persist. Until now, that is.

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While plenty of skincare companies reach out to me about partnering with them, I often decline, because I can’t afford to experiment with their delicate, sensitive skin. But, when Theraplex reached out to me about their line of eczema therapy, I happily accepted and was glad to have them send me their line of products. (Sidebar: Isn’t blogging neat? I’ve been introduced to a world of baby / mom items I never might have known about if this weren’t part of my job.)

I bathe the kids in Mustela’s Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s the only scented bath product I’ve found that doesn’t irritate their dry skin, and since we often get sweaty / muddy / dirty outside in the Texas heat, I like that it leaves them smelling like they did as newborns. Then, I follow up their baths with Theraplex’s Moisturizing Cream, which I massage into their skin for a few minutes, to ensure that their little bodies soak up every bit of moisture. (Also important: I often leave them naked for a while, to let their skin air out. I find, personally, that when I try and put clothes on too quickly it irritates my skin, so I’m sure the same goes for the wee ones.)

When their patches are feeling especially rough (when the seasons change, or we visit a different climate), I use Theraplex’s Emollient Cream, which is thicker in consistency and more powerful.

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If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. I won’t sugar coat it; chasing them around to coat their bodies in tons of lotion is no easy feat. But there’s nothing as precious to me as their health and comfort, so I’m happy to have found Theraplex. I’m so grateful to have been sent a product that works, and if your little ones suffer from dry or sensitive skin, I really can’t recommend it enough!

Back to kissing their soft, sweet little arms and legs,

BG

Full disclosure: As I mentioned in this post, I was sent Theraplex’s line of Eczema Therapy products to try. I was not paid to write this post, and all opinions are my own. The trust of my readers and fellow moms is paramount to me – know that I’ll never recommend a product I don’t fully love. I’ve sent back many a product or declined many partnerships to maintain the integrity of this blog. Thank you, as always, for reading! 

 

 

 

A Mama’s Guide to Sickness + Teething

Siri, what is wrong with my infant?

Siri, can you give a baby an exorcism?

Siri, where is the closest liquor store?

In our house, when it rains, it pours. If the kids get sick, it’s pneumonia. If they’re teething, it’s a full mouth of teeth ALL AT ONCE. That’s where we are right now. The Great Texas Plague (“It’s just a cold, Blakely, stop being so dramatic.” – Mike) has worked its way through our home TWICE and I am ready to bid it goodbye. To add to this lovely shit-storm of Tylenol and sucking the boogers out of their nose (Please go and buy yourself a Nose Frieda. It’s disgusting and amazing), Holly is currently getting FOUR TEETH simultaneously. I cringe when I look at her upper gums thinking about the pain she must be in.

Never has a blog collaboration been so appropriate. Oilogic’s line of essential oils and bath vapor soap has been working miracles for our house. While it can’t cure you of illness, it can help soothe the ache and congestion for the wee ones which is worth its weight in absolute gold. (Please note that these items are for babies 6 months and up.)

Let’s start with their Stuffy Nose + Cough Vapor Bath: I have always steamed up the bathroom to loosen up their mucus and help them breathe easier, but I’ve kicked it up a notch using the Oilogic Stuffy Nose + Cough Vapor Bath, which I pour into the tub and rub on a washcloth. I usually have Finn breathe into the washcloth for a few seconds, to help the vapors work their way into his nasal passages. When the kids get out of the bath, I help relieve the stuffy nose by using the Nose Frida (Yes, you use a tube to physically suck the snot out of their nose. It is every bit as disgusting and effective as it sounds, but if I’m honest, sucking out their boogers is one of the LESS gross things I’ve had to do as a mom).

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Now, let’s move on to the demon that is teething. Bless.

Holly has been a real joy to put to bed, so we’re currently using the Sleep Vapor Bath in her tubs at night to calm the pain and help get her in the mood to sleep. I also give her a little foot massage with the Sleep + Slumber Oil Roll-On when she gets out of the bath.

These seasons of sickness and teething are to be expected with a team of little ones, and I’m just grateful to be a comfort to them when they aren’t feeling well. Here’s to building their immune systems and snuggling our way back to health!