Friday, June 30, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week One (Makeup & Skincare)

Here we go! These are the items that will be given away at the end of the series, which runs today through Friday, July 28. Included are skincare, makeup & hair products, as well as some fun "extras." You'll get more details on each item throughout the series. Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win!

Okay, so this week I'm talking about skincare and makeup. Let me start by first saying that I drink plenty of water and also eat a ketogenic diet. (I'll be discussing this in further detail in the last post of this series.) Healthy skin starts on the inside, so that's my first recommendation. Next, I make sure to wash my face twice a day. No one needs to go to bed without washing off makeup! That's an unbreakable rule. Also, because I have oily skin, I also wash my face every morning prior to applying my makeup. Now, what do I use to wash my face? Well, it's not some expensive, high-end product. It's Noxzema Classic Clean! Yes, that's my secret. Also, as a redhead with sensitive skin, I have to be careful with the products that I use, and this one is tried and true. It's all I've ever used and all I ever plan to use. And, guess what? It's included in the giveaway set! But, if you're super tired at night and just don't have the energy to use a cleanser, bath cloth, and water, then, you're in luck! Also included in the giveaway is a travel-size set of makeup remover towelettes. Now, you may really be surprised to find out how I remove my eye makeup. I have to use a gentle product because my eyes are very sensitive. My eyes themselves are prone to burning and redness, and my eyelids can get itchy and peel if I use anything too harsh. My go-to product? Johnson's Baby Shampoo! It works like a charm. It even removes waterproof makeup and causes no irritation. And, it's included in the giveaway set so you can see for yourself how beautifully it performs as an eye makeup remover. Okay, so back to skincare.
Another thing that I do to take care of my skin is to exfoliate twice a week. It's important to get rid of all those dull surface cells in order to make room for radiant new ones. I use Equate Refreshing Apricot Scrub, which is also included in the giveaway items! I also make sure to keep the skin on my body hydrated by applying lotion at least once a day. I really like scented lotions, but sometimes they can irritate sensitive skin; therefore, in the giveaway set I've included a travel size of Eucerin Daily Moisturizing Creme.

Now, I'll move on to three makeup looks that I alternate through depending on my mood or outfit of choice. The face stays the same, but the eyes and lip colors change. I'll start here by telling you what I put on my face:
  1. I start with a primer.
  2. Then, I apply foundation. I use Neutrogena Skin Clearing Foundation in Classic Ivory. I like the skin-clearing formula because my oily skin is prone to breakouts sometimes; however, if you have extremely sensitive skin, you should choose another formula. I'm quite fair-skinned, so classic ivory is the color that best matches my skin tone.
  3. Next, I apply concealer and highlighter. I use e.l.f. Under Eye Concealer & Highlighter in Light/Glow. Again, for my light complexion, this is the combination that works. If you're not sure how to use this product, here's a great tutorial.
  4. Afterward, I finish up with loose powder, which is better than pressed for me due to my oily skin. I use Almay Smart Shade; I use Light (Pale) 100 because it matches my skin color.
  5. Finally, I apply blush. I like e.l.f. Baked Blush in Rich Rose.
Now that my face is done, I'm ready to move on to eyes and lips. I will list the products and colors I use for each look beneath the individual pictures.

Look One: For my eyes here, I used lavender shadow from this set, which came in the June How to be a Redhead Subscription Box. My eyeliner is Almay Intense-i-Color Liquid Eye Liner in Purple Amethyst. The mascara I've been using is a sample that I got at Ulta for my birthday. It's this, and I plan to purchase a full-size bottle when it becomes available. It is phenomenal! It lengthens and darkens my lashes perfectly without any clumping at all. It is the mascara that I'm seen wearing in all the pictures in this post. Okay, moving on to lips. The cardinal rule of lips is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I make sure to keep lip balm handy at all times. I like Sun Bum CoconutMaybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm, and Burt's Bees. And guess what? A tube of Burt's Bees Lip Balm is included in the giveaway! Now, on to my lips for this look. Yes, they're pink! You might have heard the rule that redheads shouldn't wear pink lipstick, but I simply don't believe that it's true. And, hey, even if it is, I've been known to say a time or two that I believe rules are made to be broken anyway! So it's quite fitting that the pink lipstick I'm wearing is "Disobedient" by Urban Decay. Also, I'll interject here that it's important to take care of your teeth, too. Then, when you smile with those gorgeous lips, those teeth will look great as well. I use Colgate Optic White Toothpaste, and a trial size is included in the giveaway for the lucky winner!

Look Two: For my eyes, I used Almay Everyday Neutrals eyeshadow. My eyeliner is Almay liquid liner in black. For my lips, I used Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Amulet.

Look Three: My eyes are done with Almay Party Brights for Blue Eyes shadow and Almay Liquid Liner in Brown Topaz, which are both included in the giveaway! On my lips I'm wearing EZ from Urban Decay Vice.

To finish out the look, we have my toenails. I like vibrant blues, teals, and turquoises. Here I'm wearing Blue Me Away by Sally Hansen. You get to try out Wet n Wild's Be More Pacific if you win the giveaway!

There you have it. That completes my makeup look, from head to toe(nails.) Next Friday, tune in to find out about my hair: how I care for it, style it, keep my red looking vibrant, do different styles with a pixie, what products I use, and more. Also, there are lots more items included in the giveaway set, and next week I'll be telling you about the hair products that are included. You don't want to miss it! And, speaking of that giveaway, here's how YOU can *win:

Leave a comment on this blog post = One entry
Share this post on Facebook = One entry (Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you did this.)
Share this post on Twitter = One entry (Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you did this.)
Pin this post on Pinterest = One entry (Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you did this.)

*You can try for one, two, three, or all entry types. The options will be the same each week, and you may also do this each Friday. Good luck!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Upcoming Blog Series: Five Fun Fridays

Lest you all think that I am always serious or never have any fun, allow me to introduce a new blog series: Five Fun Fridays. It will begin one week from today, on Friday, June 30, and it will end on Friday, July 28. On each of those Fridays, I will blog about something fun in my life. The categories are as follows:

  1. Week One - My makeup: what I use, tips for redheads with pale skin, etc.
  2. Week Two - My hair: how I keep my red hair vibrant, how I style my pixie, my hair inspirations, and more.
  3. Week Three - My fashion style: brands and stores that I like, colors that pair well with red hair, and how I dress to fit my body type.
  4. Week Four - My hobbies: What I like to do in my free time, which, yes, I actually do have on occasion.
  5. Week Five - Little known secret facts about me: This is where I'll dish all (well, maybe NOT all) of the dirt on myself. 
Now, that's not all that's in store. There's something fun for all of you, too! At the end of the series, I'll be giving away some of my favorite things that you'll be reading about each week. Look for details each Friday to see how you can increase your chances of winning. I look forward to the fun! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017


A snapshot. A brief moment. Captured and held forever in print or in digital form. Etched into our memories, where we can remain young, happy, innocent, naive - the way we were before...
Before the diagnosis came.
Before the death of our closest loved one tore our world apart.
Before the loss of the job.
Before we heard the words, "I don't love you anymore."
Before the night we repeatedly said no, but he didn't listen and did it anyway.
Before the darkness came and tried to rip the very life right out of us.

We are told that youth is fleeting, and while that is certainly true, innocence is even more so. I look back at my life and my heart breaks for the innocence that was taken from me, piece by piece, time and time again. As I watch people I love face tragedies, as well as strangers I see on the news, I am overwhelmed by their stories and grieve for the innocence that is lost every day. When I see pictures of them prior to the horrific events, their unknowing, smiling faces, oblivious to what's coming, I feel contrasting emotions. I feel even more saddened in some ways because they have no idea what is ahead, but on the other hand, I am glad that they are, at least for that moment, holding on to that one last piece of innocence.

I look at this picture of me and my youngest child. It was taken in December 2011. Yes, we're both smiling, but this picture makes me sad. It reminds me of what I've lost. This is my tangible, slap-in-the-face from reality; it's a reminder that I can never go back to the way it was. This picture was taken during my "ignorance is bliss" season. My daughter was happy. She was making progress and meeting milestones, a bit slower than normal, but she was meeting them. Two months later, things would change drastically. She would begin self-harming, regressing, and crying almost non-stop. We, of course, took her to several doctors; we finally ended up at the neurologist's office, where we received the diagnosis. And, just like that, our world changed.

Looking back, a part of me is glad that I didn't know what was to come; yet, there is another part that wishes that I could have known. Maybe I would have been able to appreciate those "snapshot" moments more. Or maybe I would never have been able to enjoy the happy times because I would have dreaded what was to come. That I will never know, of course, because we can never know what lies ahead; we can only learn from yesterday and live in today.

While life is certainly more difficult now, and I struggle each day, I know that our daughter was placed on this earth and in our home for a reason. I still don't know what purposes may come to be for her eventually, as she is only nine years old and still has so much potential, but as for now, she is already teaching me about compassion, unconditional love, and...innocence. Yes, this precious little one will live in a state of perpetual innocence. Her significant mental insufficiency makes that so. She will never understand that she is different from her siblings, or that her mom has depression, or that another act of terrorism has been committed. She will never have to worry about paying bills, or meeting deadlines at work, or even driving a car. She is a living "snapshot" of innocence, and I am learning to see each moment through her eyes.

So, slow down. Stop for a minute. Take that moment you're given and allow it to speak to you. Learn something from everything that happens to you. Be grateful for what you have today; you don't know what tomorrow may hold. But, no matter what happens, you must be strong enough to allow the events of your life to shape you into who you were created to be.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dad Bod

So, I don't know if you've heard of this new trend or not, but it's called the "dad bod." Don't know what it is? Allow me to enlighten you, with a little help from Google: A dad bod is the physique of a male that is relatively slim but not lean or toned. Need more help in order to understand? Urban Dictionary explains it as this: A male body type that is "softly round." It's based on the idea that once a man has gotten married and had a child, then he really should no longer concern himself with keeping a nice physique. And get this. Women actually find these dad bods attractive -as in, some women would rather date a guy with a dad bod than a guy with a nicely chiseled physique. And don't start typing ALL CAPS to me about how you have to go beneath the surface and look at what's on the inside; I know that, and that's not what this post is about. I'm talking women choosing dad bods for no other reason than the simple fact that they're dad bods. Personalities are not a factor. I just don't get it.

So, a dad no longer has to concern himself with his weight or his physique after his children are born? Am I understanding this correctly? Let's see now, hmmm, exactly HOW many months did HE carry that baby inside his womb? So he has exactly how many reasons to put on baby weight? According to my calculations, it is exactly zero. Yes, that's right. Zero months and zero reasons. And a womb? He doesn't even have one. I don't think dads should have any excuses to just let themselves go once the baby is born.They should still be able to make healthy food choices and find time to exercise. I mean, it's not like they're nursing the baby or anything.

Also, why isn't the "mom bod" trending? Why aren't men claiming to prefer a rounder version of females? For goodness' sakes, women are the ones actually giving birth to the babies! Women are the ones housing an entire other being within their bodies for nine months, so one might expect these women to carry around some extra weight not only during but after pregnancy as well. Why aren't women allowed to be a little - or even more than a little - overweight without someone being critical or even downright hateful? And this goes for all women, those who are currently or have recently been or have NEVER been pregnant. Why, how many times have we heard things like, "She's had over a year to lose that baby weight," or, "Are you sure you're not carrying twins?" Then, of course, there's the classic, "She'd be so pretty if she would just lose some of that weight."

If you think I was harsh on men in the second paragraph, some of it was tongue-in-cheek. Most of it, however, was based on expectations that society places on women. The pressure that we feel to be thinner or more beautiful is crushing to our self-esteem at times. It's enough to bring on eating disorders, depression, and self-harm issues in many females. Even young girls feel that they are worthless if they don't see themselves as beautiful. 

I know that obesity is unhealthy. I eat right and exercise, and I encourage others to do the same. So I also don't need any irate people writing to tell me about that, either. But eating right and exercising should be about HEALTH, and it should be for BOTH men and women. It shouldn't be something that's forced down women's throats so that we feel we have to meet some unattainable standard of beauty, while at the same time men get a pass to eat however they choose and do very little exercise because it's a trend and because no one really puts pressure on men to look a certain way. There's a double standard in our society, and I am sick of it.

Men are allowed to age gracefully. When a man begins to get a little gray hair around his temples or in his beard, people call it sexy or distinguished. A woman's grey hair will get her called old. Confession: I get a few white hairs from time to time, and I immediately rush right in and color over them. I'm not ready to let them show. I don't really mind getting older, but I do mind people thinking that I'm "old." It's just not that cool to be an old woman. I don't care what that song says about older women being beautiful lovers; one look at Ulta or Sephora and you know that women are paying big bucks to look young. Yes, I know that dying your hair grey is a trend. But that's for young people. It's not the same as actually going gray, and everybody knows it.

So, yeah, this whole dad bod trend has ticked me off. At first, I thought it was funny, but then I contemplated it a little longer. That's when I realized how it truly brings to light how unfairly women are treated in regards to beauty standards. Why is it trendy for men to be out of shape? As I thought about it more and more, I got angry. Not taking care of your body should never be a trend, but if it is, then why isn't a trend for both sexes?

Finally, I do not expect my spouse to have washboard abs, nor does he expect me to look like a supermodel. I'm not saying that in this post. I'm also not saying that we should spend excessive amounts of time in the gym, away from our families, in order to attain the perfect body. I'm saying that both dads and moms should take care of their bodies. I'm saying that women should be treated with respect and admired for their beauty regardless of their weight or body type. I'm saying that I want my daughters to grow up in a world where it's okay not to look like Scarlett Johansson, and, also, sweetheart, your husband probably won't look like Jason Momoa, either. And that's okay.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Unique Grief

There's a unique grief that belongs only to those of us who are parents of children with special needs. It's a grief that can lie dormant and unnoticed for seasons, and then it can come flooding back all at once in fresh rivers of pain and sorrow. Maybe it's a Facebook post with a photograph of happy children around your child's age, celebrating a birthday at a party to which you and your family weren't invited. Perhaps it's a post about how someone's child has reached a milestone or won another trophy in a sport or been elected class president, or maybe someone tells you about how their children are reading or asking for books to be read to them or, hey, even talking at all. I don't know what it may be, but something triggers that overwhelming sense of loss deep within you. And you know people don't mean to hurt you. And you also know that they have every right to share their joy about their children's successes. Then you feel guilty because you think that you must not love your child enough because some part of you longs for them to be like other children. Plus, you also feel guilty because you resent other parents for no reason other than the fact that they simply have neurotypical children. I don't know about other special needs parents, but I can get stuck here for days or perhaps weeks. Honestly, I've been stuck there sometimes for months and even years. I still have to fight to keep a root of bitterness from growing in my heart.

I get so angry sometimes. I look at people who can take family vacations, and I can't even take my daughter to the grocery store without my husband's help. She is in a phase of going into a total meltdown almost every time I speak to her. She spends most of her days in her room; she doesn't come out until my husband gets home from work in the evening. I try to interact with her and get her to come out and spend time with me, but when I do, she will just self-harm. She is non-verbal, so there's not really much chance that I can figure out exactly what it is that I've done wrong and exactly why it is that she suddenly comes running out of her room smiling when she hears my husband's voice in the evening. No, this is not what I envisioned when I thought about parenting my daughter. She is nine years old now, and I had plans of talking about clothes and hair and staying up late at night, just the two of us laughing and talking. I imagined baking and making messes together in the kitchen. I never got the years of tea parties and dress-up or baby dolls and Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. I will never get the prom or the wedding planning or the excitement of her first baby. So many missed milestones; so many fresh waves of grief.

I have no words of wisdom here. I cannot say that I have found some perfect way of dealing with this. Therapy helps. I've learned coping skills. And I take this day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

This Day

Every new day is a gift. I thought about this yesterday while driving, which is often the time during which I can do my deepest thinking. I began to think about how this concept plays out in my life. I thought about the fact that there are two opposing ideas that mingle together in my mind; they fight against one another for victory over my thoughts and actions. And the winner of the battle can change on any given day. 

What I know and what I feel become tangled up in a mass of emotions and pain that can be almost impossible to unravel. Even though I know that each day is a gift, that concept is still a paradox to someone like me who struggles with suicidal ideations. There are days in which I feel that my life is a curse. There are times in which I want to end my life. At these points, I cannot see how my life is a gift at all. My emotions and my logic are fighting a duel to the death. One is the voice of truth and life, while the other is the voice of depression and lies; however, even armed with this knowledge, I am not always able to silence the voice of despair and death. Sometimes it wins, and I just want to give in and give it what it wants.

I know there will be times when I am unable to think logically, so in order to equip myself for the battle, I've applied some practical strategies that I've learned over the years. I have notecards with truth placed in various places around my home. When the negative thoughts are overriding the positive ones, I can read these cards aloud and speak reality into my situation. I have a three-ring binder with printouts of coping skills and strategies I've learned in therapy. I have to be proactive, and I have to be prepared. 

I also take my anti-depressant medications, and I see my psychiatrist once every two months. I see my therapist once a month, and I have to be honest with my medical professionals about my struggles and feelings. In addition to all of this, I must take care of my body. Physical health and mental health are closely related. I eat a healthy diet, and I exercise regularly. I get as much sleep as is possible for any parent of a young child with severe special needs. I take time to do things that I enjoy. I try to appreciate each day that the Lord gives me. 

So, yes, each day is truly a gift, even to someone who struggles with thoughts of suicide. I am thankful for my life, even though there are times in which I want to end it. I truly hope to live my life in such a way that it becomes a gift to myself and others. And I am determined to keep depression from stealing that from me.

Self-Care That's Not So Fun

As promised in my previous post, I am now going to talk about self-care that's not so much fun. This kind of self-care involves thin...