Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Is Your Skin Ready for Summer?

Happy First Day of Summer! 

You may have been having summer-like weather already or you may live in an area where "summer" is just around the corner, but, either way, is your skin ready?

Warmer weather means more of your beautiful skin showing and, of course, you want it to look it's best. While you may have prepared for summer in the past by simply getting a pedicure and a bikini wax, now that you're pregnant, you may be finding your skin has a host of other needs - dry and itchy skin, the dreaded stretch marks, not to mention the fact that you may have trouble even reaching your precious toes to get them ready for sandal season! Don't despair, though, here are some tips get you glowing and beach ready in no time!

Every great work of art has to start with a great foundation, right? Your skin is no different. Now that your shedding the long sleeves and trading your pants for skirts or shorts, you may be noticing that the skin you're revealing is less than glowing. If you're skin is anything like mine was during pregnancy, it's super dry and itchy, too. A great exfoliator is the place to start to rid yourself of all the dull, dry skin and begin revealing your skin's true beauty. Be sure to use it from head to toe for an all over glow. Exfoliating once a week should be enough to keep your skin looking great throughout the summer. Just be sure you're using one that you find comfortable. A good exfoliator shouldn't feel too rough or hurt to use.

Now that you've revealed your most beautiful skin, you want to keep it that way, right? To do so, you'll need a daily moisturizer that keeps your skin hydrated and healthy. Depending on your preference, this could be in the form of a lotion, balm, or body oil (check out our great selection!). Again, apply it all over to keep your skin looking great. The added bonus of keeping your skin properly moisturized, too, is that it lessens your likelihood of developing stretch marks. Despite claims by many products on the market, there is nothing that will actually prevent them, but, by keeping your skin hydrated, your contributing to your skin's elasticity which will help it to stretch without leaving those telltale marks.

And, your toes? You may not be able to reach them, but that doesn't mean you should ignore them. Splurge on a visit to the nail salon for a pedicure or simply enlist the aide of your partner or a friend to get your toes painted to perfection. If you're having them done at home, we suggest Zoya polish, too. It's free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor; plus it's long-wearing and that's a bonus when reaching your toes is an issue!

Finally, now that you've got the beautiful, glowing skin you deserve, show it off in a terrific swimsuit. Swimsuit shopping may have been your least favorite thing to do before you were pregnant but it doesn't have to be now that you are.'s editor has found some of the most flattering suits that will fit any budget. Best of all, they're gorgeous, too; just like you!

PS. Be sure you're using sunscreen, too! An spf of at least 15 should be sufficient on days that you're just running errands but, if you're going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time, grab a great beach hat and be sure to go for a higher number so you don't burn.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30-Day Challenge

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30-Day ChallengeFather's Day is fast approaching.  Like many other families across America, you may be looking at items such as ties, grilling tools, and automotive equipment to fill the need of a gift this year.  But why not slip a little something extra into the gift for a dad with daughters?

A follow up companion to the national bestseller Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30-Day Challenge is a great book for any dad with girls in the house.  It's full of practical activities meant to strengthen the bonds between father and daughter and is great for dads and daughters of any age.

And don't worry if your daughter is just a wee one.  It's never too early to begin creating the bond between a girl and the first man she'll fall in love with.  Activities can be adapted to be more simple or more involved depending on the age, comfort level, and available time.

P.S.  Don't have girls or have a mix in your home?  Don't worry!  Dr. Meeker has another fabulous book all about boys.  Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons will take readers on a journey from boyhood to manhood.

Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Raspberry Picking is a Lot Like Pregnancy

This blog was originally posted a few years back. As I watch the finches in my backyard skitter in and out of my own raspberry bushes, it made me think of this, though; and I thought it was worth a repost.  Enjoy!

OK, I'll admit that, even for the most intelligent person, the title of this blog may sound a bit confusing. It all started with a trip to the local u-pick farm...

Every year I go to a local farm to pick raspberries. I started out taking my children because I was of the mindset that it's a good idea to take them out and have them experience that sort of thing. Over the years, the whining in the fields and the whining that even precedes the trip has reached a fevered pitch. I remind them that, just like the story of the Little Red Hen, if they don't help, they don't get to partake in the bounty. The response I normally get is, "But, I don't even like raspberries, so who cares?" I've given up on every making them into champion raspberry pickers so this year I went alone.

The farm I go to is only about a mile from where I grew up. It's a great place, and one would never guess that a booming metropolis is a mere 15 minutes away. It was a warm day but more tolerable than the 90+ degree weather we had the week prior. I got my buckets, was told what area of the farm was open to picking that day and set out on my journey. I settled on a row to head down and began. For the first several feet, the pickings were miserable. Little, itty bitty berries that were either not ripe yet or overripe and there weren't even very many of those. "Great," I thought, "this is what it's going to be like. I'll work and work and still not get anything to shout about."

As I progressed down the row, conditions began to get slightly better. My experience was still not ideal but it was at least getting better. There were people all around in different rows and that was about all I could hear - voices of men, women, and children in at least three different languages. I continued to pick as I imagined who these people were; what their personal stories were.

As I persistently made my way down the row, my bucket slowly filling up, the berries became more prolific and closer to the perfection I was looking for. If you've ever picked raspberries, you know, too, that sometimes the best berries aren't in plain sight. So, being an experienced raspberry picker, I was, at times, head first halfway into the vines searching out the best of what they had to offer. I thought, "I must be a real sight," but then realized that I didn't hear voices anymore. Instead, I could hear the swallows and finches calling to each other. There were two hawks circling and calling. There was a tractor somewhere in the distance. The geese at the neighboring farm were honking. I breathed deep and could smell the sweet scent of hay. It was peaceful and I suddenly felt very centered and present and in tune with what was going on around me.

It was then that it occurred to me that this was lot like pregnancy. You start out with a thought in your head of how great and perfect the journey will be like only to find that maybe it's not what you expected. The beginning is not fully packed with rewards and it seems there are outside voices around you constantly. But, as you move through the journey, it begins to get better and, the further you go, the more the outside noise slips away. You begin to hear your own inner voice and become in tune with yourself. You become present. At then end, you can look back on the journey and see how far you've really come and, as a special prize, there's a baby.

I was just getting close to finishing up my picking, listening to a finch making a little "pip" next to me occasionally, when I turned and looked at where I had started. Wow! I had made more progress than I had thought and had a great bounty to show for it (nearly 10 pounds!). It was then, that I got my prize. I pulled my head out of some vines, straightened up and, just as I was reaching forward to grab a few berries, saw them right smack in front of me...babies! My finch friend had apparently been waiting for me to move along so she could feed her nestful of four brand new baby birds! The afternoon really couldn't have ended any better.

I took a few quick photos and grabbed my buckets to begin the walk back to the car. As I got closer, the voices around me began to rise in volume again and drown out the songs of the birds and the rumble of the tractor. I got in the car and began driving home. Yes, raspberry picking is a lot like pregnancy. A journey that is not without effort but a journey that is sweet and full of wonderful surprises.