WELCOME BACK – NO DOUBT (and me…hahaha)

ahhh…one of my fave bands from the 90s has finally come back to the scene and me likey they’re new song: SETTLE DOWN

Miss Gwen still looking every bit the style icon…now, let me get my Cherry Red Docs…

ps – been crazy busy…um, so, we bought a zoo! just kidding, we bought a house so between moving and painting and moving, it’s been busy…will post more soon.

I [heart] TJ Maxx

I have a love / hate relationship with this store…you see, even if I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll still walk out with something.  I can’t ever leave this store empty handed! This is true for TJ’s sister store: Marshalls. I used to shop there in NJ a lot, but I’ve only seen TJ Maxx around here. Regardless of the store, there are always AWESOME deals.

My latest score?  Essie nail polish for $3.99.  These are usually almost $8, if not more than $8.  So, essentially, I got them 50% off!  2 for 1!  AND, I’ve been looking for an orange-y red that wasn’t too orange-y, but not fire engine red either.  This is now my fave summer color: “Dramatic Drachmas”.  The pale pink is a bit tooooo pale, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out with it.  That one is called “Petal Pink”.

1st pic is w/an Instagram filter so it may not show the true color so I added the “regular” photo next to it.

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Why New York, Why New York, WHY?

Gonna miss seeing that #17 w/Jeremy Lin’s name on it!

If you’re a New York Knicks fan, you were supposed to sing that title to the tune of “Go New York, Go New York, GO!”  Ahh….I loved hearing that thunder through MSG.

I don’t talk about sports much, but if there’s one sport I watch (almost) faithfully, it’s basketball and if it’s a team I specifically follow, it’s the New York Knicks (I followed the Brooklyn(NJ) Nets for awhile, but lost track).  I’ve been a Knicks fan since high school, from what I can remember.  I will never forget getting so mad at some white bronco chase – aka OJ Simpson – because that hogged up all the networks in the middle of the playoffs!

I don’t know each player’s stats or background or whatever.  I am not a sports analyst and I am a fan, but maybe that doesn’t qualify me as a DIE HARD fan.  But, die hard or not, once again, I DO NOT understand the Knicks’ thought process.  Why didn’t they sign Jeremy Lin?

Jeremy Lin, IMHO, not only brought back the spark to NYK that was starting to fade (Amare and Melo brought it back too, but again, it was starting to fade), he brought the spark back to the organization and the NBA as a whole. Then again, $25 million is a bit steep for a newbie, but I read somewhere he brought in about $600 million in sales (tickets and merch).   Now, I know there’s a LOT more to it than that and there’s something w/luxury tax, but also a “poison pill”/stretch provision and whatever else.  I guess I could see turmoil in the locker room w/a newbie getting that much as opposed to some of the veterans.

 

He’s young and yes, has a lot to learn and had a lot of turnovers, but so did a lot of all the great point guards when they were starting.  ESPN just said Steve Nash’s record back when he was 23 wasn’t exactly stellar and that Lin’s was actually better.  I’ve read that about other great (more experienced) point guards now…it’s a learning process.   So, instead of the NYK investing in shaping a young player, they bring back an oldie (that they traded before), Felton.  (If I were to bring someone more experienced into the team to replace Jeremy Lin, I’d go for Nash!!!)  Anyway, Felton’s ok, but…I don’t see him bringing in a crowd and enthusiasm and bringing up sales.  Besides, wouldn’t it be easier to mold a young player to be able to play point w/Amare and Melo?  Maybe the NYK believe it’s easier to teach old dog new tricks?  Let me not forget about Jason Kidd…also a veteran, but a great player…but, he also just got arrested for DWI…so, ummm…let’s hope that’s all squared away soon.

Jeremy Lin brought back NBA fever (wait, was there ever one?  I don’t know what it was called).  His sales were through the roof (yes, I have a shirt myself  (see above)and I do wear it around here – Bulls country*).  This guy has fans.  I mean, for playing 25 games, this guy created a fandom.  Hello, LINSANITY!  I remember watching the NY / Toronto game.  NY played in Toronto and  it was packed, but I swear I saw more Lin fans than Raptors fans.  So, he was increasing sales for opposing teams as well.  Again, bringing NBA to the forefront of sports.

Oh why NY, why???  Why do this to your fans?  LINSANITY brought up the season ticket sales too, I think.  How many angry fans are there now that bought these tickets, but won’t even see Jeremy Lin w/his #17 NYK uniform?  Good thing Melo, Amare and Chandler are still there.  I’m glad they signed Novak again…wow, is that guy clutch!

Oh NYK, enlighten us!  I really hope you have something up your sleeve, NY.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  I really hope this veteran team’s experience will let us forget about the LINSANITY that happened this past season.

PS – I just heard that MSG’s stock went down already.  This article from observer.com spells that out w/some graphs too (I love the caption on the graph that says “After Lin Dominated On Kobe’s Face”).

PPS – Please excuse my hair in that pic.  I was heading to the salon for a trim so I just brushed it out w/o styling.

*FYI – Besides the Knicks, we also became fans of the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder…these are our Top 3 NBA teams….NYK = oldest (w/bringing in some veterans for next season) and Thunder = youngest…need that yin and yang!*

Blessing and a Curse – Part 1

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how great I had back when I was younger…or even just in my 20s…you know, before I hit my 30s and everything caught up to me.   I feel like I have a lot to talk about w/my blessings/curses so we’ll make Part 1 – Skin, Part 2 – Hair, Part 3 – Weight.   Maybe I should have renamed this series:  Yearning for the Fountain of Youth.

Anyway, I’ve posted before how I’m a late bloomer – especially when it comes to my skin.  I had porcelain skin in high school.  While my friends were learning how to apply make-up and learning how to hide their flaws with said make-up, being BFFs w/Oxy,  and trying every “zit-zapper” drug store brand under the sun, I would bask in my extra minutes of sleep because I wouldn’t have to do any of the above.  I would just shower and go.  At night, I never really washed my face either (don’t judge!).  If I did, it would just be water.

I felt like I had to start taking care of my skin though (???  I don’t know why, I thought I was missing out on something).  So, I started the Clinique 3 step program.  However, I was not consistent at all.  I remember throwing out cleansers and such over a year later.  I never learned how to pick the right foundation or concealer shade and therefore, never learned how to apply it either. All I would wear was powder.  I wore other make-up, eventually, like eyeliner and lipstick/gloss/balm/etc., but nothing to hide flaws or even my skin tone with.  I had it good…REAL good.  I was blessed with porcelain skin.

Fast forward to when I was 19.  A friend of the family, who was pretty much my Aunt, commented on how beautiful my skin was.  At this time, I went back to Clinique and even added a scrub as my skin was starting to get obviously oily.  I told her what I was doing (although still not consistently) and she said to keep up with it.  I don’t know why I didn’t listen.  Always listen to those old family friend/aunts who give you advice when they have a right too (she was in her 50s and not a pore in sight!).

Fast forward again to when I was 25.  I finally moved out of my parents’ house (I stayed home for college…wasn’t allowed to dorm b/c I was a girl – that’s a whole other story).  I moved to downtown Jersey City to a BEAUTIFUL luxury 3 bedroom apartment w/2 of my friends.  My skin had a hard time adjusting to the water (I guess it was hard water?), my stress level went up because of being on “my own” (with roommates, but still), more bills than usual (I paid some when living at home w/parents to help them out) and stress at work and I had my first bought of breakouts.  I mean, serious HUGE pimples popped all over my face.

I had no idea what to do or how to handle it. I didn’t even want to go out w/my friends at times.  I didn’t want to go to work.  I didn’t want to go anywhere, but stay in my room.  I didn’t know how to fix it or hide it.  I didn’t want to see a dermatologist because I didn’t want them to put me on something that would bring all the dirt and what have to the surface (I heard horror stories of how people broke out more, at first, before they got better).  I was in mid-20s and finally coming / blooming into my own.  I didn’t realize being a late-bloomer also applied to my skin.  I felt like a kid going through puberty.  At least when you’re in high school, you have others to commiserate with.  I had no one.  The curse of having beautiful skin while everyone else suffered – I never took care of it or learned how to.

Eventually, my skin cleared up, but I now had battlewounds (aka acne scars) to show what I went through.  Fast forward again to 27 when I was pregnant with my first, Beans.  After the shock of it all, I took motherhood to the extreme where everything was about her.  I don’t regret that at all.  I do regret not taking care of myself.  I couldn’t find that balance.  I didn’t know how to make everything about her, but not forget about me either.   This happened for ALL of my girls.

Fast forward again to 3 years ago – early 30s.  I finally started to stare at myself when I looked in the mirror.  Before that, I would do everything so quickly just to make sure my hair wasn’t all over the place, my clothes weren’t inside out and my eyeliner wasn’t smeared/smearing.  What I found, scared (vain) me.  My pores had gotten big and visible.  There is no reversing that.

Starting last spring, I have tried to really take care of my skin.  I can’t undo the damage, but I can try to hinder anymore damage from happening or at least slow it down.  I’ve gotten good with washing my face 2x /day.  I’ve been trying different cleanser lines, but haven’t quite found one that works well – all the time.  Clinique still works for me, but I’m trying to find something that will control my crazy oily producing face.  I swear sometimes I feel like I can fry an egg on my face (sorry for that visual).  It doesn’t help that I now sweat easily (happened after pregnancy weight gain than I never lost).  I finally went to see a dermatologist and she happens to also have oily skin so she understands my woes.  She’s got me on some retinoid and trying Cetaphil’s new line for acne prone skin (wash and moisturizer).  I ran out of my Clinique Acne Solutions line (lower your volume if you’re going to click on that Clinique link) so it was good timing.  So far, so good, but the weather has also started to cooperate (read as:  not 100 degree hot) so we’ll have to see.

Just an FYI though, I did like the Clinique line.  Right before I started using it again, I was breaking out around my jawline and cheek area…heat related?  I don’t know, but it cleared pretty much within a few days.  Cetaphil is looking like it’s working for me too, so far.  Maybe even comparable to Clinique or maybe it’s because I’m also using a retinoid.

I wish I had my old skin back, but at least now, I’m teaching my girls that it’s important to wash up every night – for now, I’m letting them just use a washcloth and water everynight…just to let them get into the habit of it.

What a blessing it was to have porcelain skin, but also a curse because I took it for granted and never took care of it and so never knew how to take care of it until later on in life… #firstworldproblems,Iknow

Buying/Selling Etiquette & a Poll

A friend approached me on this…When you buy a house, and the realtor has been great, do you buy the realtor a present or is his/her commission enough?  If so, what would you get?  What’s a good amount or percentage to spend?

Also, if the previous owners left you “gifts”, but could also very well be furniture that’s too much of a pain to move, do you give them something in return?

 

Stubborn Old Mule

You know when you need to do something and you hem and haw, but you still actually do it? Then, that same thing you need to do, and did, is forced on you by someone else by someone in authority (read as: suggested by a doctor) and you just outright don’t do it? No? I’m the only one? I think I’m making up for not being a rebellious kid/teeny bopper and rebelling now.

I finally found a doctor out here in the midwest to go to for my physicals and to complain to about whatever’s bothering me. One of the main things bothering me has been the return of my acid reflux. About 10/11 years ago, I was diagnosed with Esophagitis which basically means that I had little tears in my esophagitis (and stomach?) lining due to acid reflux. Just think of really harsh heartburn. Anyway, instead of sending me on my merry way to get an endoscopy, she tells me I need to lose weight.

*doinks*

Tell me something I don’t know, lady.

Apparently, shedding a few pounds will not only make me look good, but make me feel better and stop these refluxes from occurring. I told her I’ve been trying to lose weight and went back to working out in February. She was happy to hear that.

The thing is, which I didn’t tell her, I haven’t lost much at all. Some weeks, I am more intense than others and some weeks I take “off” due to heat, recovery or sheer laziness. Except for finally doing my Week 5 Day 3 20 minute run, I didn’t work out last week due to heat and laziness. Friday came along (aka Dr. appt) and I still haven’t worked out because, well, I think because something inside me doesn’t like being told what to do. I’m such a bugger, I know. Anyway, now she wants me to come back in 3 months to see my progress, etc.

This week has been a fail so far. I’m hoping I don’t wait until September to start working out with intensity again. I really have no excuse this week. The mornings have been nice and cool as I’m not waking up to 87 degree heat and humidity…I’ve recovered from our Chicago trip and sick puppy woes (trip to the vet earlier this week for our poor poopie pup). I really need to just get on with it. Work is a bit busy, but I should be ok if I can get my run in early enough.

So, here’s a bit of “run-spiration” from Pinterest…No nearby beaches by me anymore, but still a lot of cute summer clothes out there I’d love to sport…even just a tank top and shorts!

Shrimpie the Squealing Screamer Child

don’t let her little sweet smile fool you…she is a terror and not even 2 yet!

Don’t let this little cute girl fool you (although she did “decorate” herself all by her lonesome with this box and had us all laughing).

Shrimpie has the extra early case of Terrible 2s.  I think she hit them as soon as she started walking (at 8.5 months).  Once she started walking, she got into and onto everything – couches, windows (we used to have a bay window that had a wide sill), bathrooms, toilets, stairs, etc.

She’s been MORE than a handful as of late too.  She loves to beat up on her sisters – scratch them, pull their hair, hit them, pinch them, etc.  She gets reprimanded every time she does any of the above, but nothing phases this little girl.  She’ll just kind of move back, maybe flinch and then be done.  Sometimes, she’ll cry for a little (I mean, less than minute) and then be done.  Sometimes, she’ll go crying to her sisters or either me or her dad (whomever DIDN’T reprimand her).  Again, nothing phases this girl.

Sometimes we have to think twice (or thrice) about going out to eat.  She’s been making scenes lately where she will squeal and just try to get out of her highchair.  We try to keep her occupied – crayons, coloring, drawing, giving her our phone.  Nothing works for long.  If a restaurant has one of those claw toy grabbing games, she will just not stop squealing or screaming until she gets there.

On our trip to Chicago last weekend, she only had a quick 45 minute nap all day.  Usually, this girl naps 2x a day and at least for an hour each.  If she goes 3 hours, then she just naps once.  45 minutes that day, plus all the excitement from the trip, plus the heat, plus a late dinner didn’t bode well for a our little gal.  Let me just take this moment to inform you that heat and Shrimpie do not make a pretty mix.  This girl will wake up squealing and screaming and crying if she is hot.  She gets super cranky, I mean she can wake up the whole neighborhood cranky.

We ended up getting to Chicago around 6pm.  By the time we checked in and got settled, it was almost 7.  Then, we had to feed the dogs (our friend also brought their dog along).  Next thing you know, we’re leaving for dinner at almost 8pm.  We wanted to try some authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza so my other friend (originally from Chicago) met us and walked w/us to dinner.  It was HOT.  It was upper-80s/ 90 something at 8pm as we walked around.  We got to the restaurant and it was packed with an hour and half wait.  We walked further down to another pizza place and it was pretty warm inside the restaurant PLUS they had one of those claw toy grabber games.  That was the recipe for disaster.

pDaddy and I spent the whole night chasing her around the restaurant and/strolling her.  The host was, at first, very accommodating and comforting.  I guess, later on, he was in awe that this little girl couldn’t just sit and eat (she did eat earlier – mostly milk, but that’s a whole other story).  I tried to explain to him that if we forced her, she would just scream and make a scene and it would not make our table neighbors very comfy.  He seemed to understand…then later, says, “Wow, she’s spoiled.”  Then, looks at me and says “You did this.  You spoiled her.”

 
WHAT THE?

Maybe he didn’t mean it that way and it came out wrong, but what?

I think he saw my demeanor towards him changed.  I repeated that she would make a scene and would make THEIR customers uncomfy, etc.  He caught my drift and tone of annoyance at him and changed his approach to, “but wow…seeing you with her and her father, you guys have a lot of patience and that’s so great and amazing.”.  He did also mention that there are other restaurants we can check out that have a play area for kids that have employees watching them so we (my husband and I) can enjoy dinner, etc. if we wanted to check it out.  At this point, he was being genuine and not trying to kick us out (this was before he made the “spoiled” comment).  I’m just not that comfy dropping my kid off somewhere, even if we’re under the same roof.

But anywho…do you have a child that is like Shrimp?  How do you keep him/her occupied so you can all enjoy a dinner out?  Razz used to be like this, but more because she would just want to nurse (for comfort, not because she was hungry).  She didn’t act up as much, but we just decided to not eat out for a while which is what we can do now, but would rather not.  Please chime in if you have any suggestions / tips for us :)

Just an FYI, she was a LOT better the next day after she had an almost 4 hour nap and it was cooler out.  She still wanted to get out of her highchair, but at least she wasn’t making a crazy scene.  I guess that’s just what we need to do – get her well rested and keep her cool.