Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MAC Attack

I love MAC makeup products and have been buying them exclusively for several years. I recently decided to branch out and try some comestics from Target. I thought, is there really a difference in quality?? Am I just paying more for the MAC name??

I discovered the answer is YES, there IS a difference in quality and NO, I'm not just paying more for the MAC name (well, maybe a little bit, but the product is way better).



So the first lineup was MAC X Mascara vs. L'oreal Carbon Black Voluminous Mascara. The winner was the MAC hands down. The L'oreal mascara consistency was runnier (?) and didn't go on as nicely as the MAC. The brush was also pretty large which made it difficult to put on more precisely. It also smudged very easily.

Verdict: MAC: 4 stars L'oreal: 2 stars




Next up I tested my tried and true MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation vs. Sonia Kashuk's Perfecting Liquid Foundation. If by "perfecting" Sonia means "oil increasing" then yes, this product is a hit. An hour after I put this on my face looks like I dipped it in a plate full of grease. The foundation looks shiny almost immediately after you put it on. I wasn't impressed with the coverage either. The MAC leaves a beautiful, porcelain doll look with a matte finish that lasts for hours.

Verdict: MAC: 5 stars Sonia Kashuk: 1 star

Another observation....the "drug store brands" are NOT that cheap! I think the Sonia Kashuk foundation was like $9 and I'm pretty sure my MAC is only like $12 or $13. I will continue paying a few more dollars for the MAC quality!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

dogs in the hood


It has come to my attention that there is a vicious dog in our my parents neighborhood that happens to live at a house I run past almost every day with Parks. This dog has attacked my dad twice when he is running (luckily the owner has run out and stopped the dog from doing any major harm). When my dad told me about this dog I was seriously upset. I had been running totally un-armed and unable to protect myself and Parks! I knew that I would need to run armed from now on....what would be my weapon of choice?

At first, I looked for mace/pepper spray. I couldn't find any. So, I went to the next best place...the garage. I figured I could find some sort of weapon in there...and I did. Watch out fido!


perfect size
note the serrated edge...


I have no idea what purpose this tool serves, but for now, it rides in my jogging stroller with me. I hope the other mothers at the park didn't see this and think I was an ax murderer.


So the moral of the story is lock up your aggressive dogs, because they just might run into a mother like me...and there isn't anything I wouldn't do to protect this little face...


Monday, July 27, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Your Own Baby Food

I have been making Parks' baby food for about 2 months now. I started giving him rice cereal at 5 months and then started introducing fruits and veggies at about 6 months. My reasons for making it myself are:

  • It is cost effective. Buying regular, organic produce and making your own purees is much cheaper than buying commercial baby food.
  • You have complete control over what your baby eats. I really like this aspect of making your own baby food. You can also be way more adventerous and introduce many flavors to your baby that commercial baby food can't. You can also make meals more nutritious and tasty.
  • It's fun! I just enjoy it. There is some satisfaction in making the food from scratch.

My overall philsophy on baby food is probably a little....unique. While I completely belive in healthy, nutritious eating...I also believe that food should taste good. I do not believe in giving a baby unseasoned, bland vegetables and expecting him to eat it. I certainly wouldn't eat it, so why should I expect my baby to eat them up cheerfully? Before you think I put red pepper flakes and paprika in my baby's green beans, let me tell you what I mean.

For Parks' breakfast I make oatmeal cereal with some formula and 1/2 tsp. of brown sugar. I tasted the oatmeal cereal mixed with water and it was horrible! No one should be expected to eat plain gruel. So I doctor it up a little bit with brown sugar. I know that some people will think this is horrible and I am giving my child cavities and a propensity towards obesity. I respectfully disagree. I think that sugar and salt, like all things, are fine in moderation. Just because I season his food does not mean I will be giving him Little Debbie cakes for snacks as a toddler.

When I make his veggies, I put a *little* bit of salt in them. He has never refused any food I have given him so far. He has gobbled down: carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, butternut squash, green beans, peas, avocado, nectarines, bananas, peaches and plums. He is a wonderful eater and has been healthy as a whistle at all his checkups, praise the Lord!

If you are curious about making your own baby food, this is what I do:

Step 1: Cook and puree the food. I buy fresh produce (organic if I can) and then I usually steam or bake the vegetable or produce until very soft. Then I puree it in my little Beaba Babycook. Now that I have done this for 2 months, my only complaint about the Beaba is its size. When you make your food from scratch, the best and most efficient way to do it is in BIG batches. As you can see, the Beaba isn't that big. It is very convenient, but sometimes I end up pulling out my big food processer to make a big batch.

Step 2: Freeze the food in ice cube trays. This is the best way to store your food in individual portions. When Parks was first starting out, I would give him 1 cube per meal. Now, he eats 2 cubes per meal.

Step 3: Store the cubes in labeled plastic freezer bags. Then take one or two out at each mealtime and thaw on the counter or you can pop them in the microwave for a few seconds. Voila! You're done.


This has worked great for us so far. Parks is a growing, healthy baby boy with a budding palate! I'm excited to start trying more creative things the older he gets like a puree of: tilapia, potatoes, green beans and olive oil! Yumm-O!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chick-fil-a

Have you guys seen this video about Chick-fil-a? I got a good chuckle out of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jury Duty




Am I the only freak in the world who actually gets excited when summoned for jury duty???

I got a letter in the mail this week asking me to fill out a survey because I am being put in a pool of potential jurors. I was legitimately excited. Of course, I thought about Parks and then I knew I wouldn't be able to participate and I was a little bummed. The thought of sitting in a court room and getting to help execute justice really thrills me. What this says about my personality I'm not sure. I just know I was excited about jury duty and I'm pretty sure that is not a normal reaction...


How do you feel about jury duty? Is anybody with me?

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Skinny on Skinny Dip

So I've taken it upon myself to write reviews of some local restaurants and stores that I frequent. I have not been solicited to write my opinions but hopefully they will help or at least entertain someone, somewhere.


(photo taken from Skinny Dip blog)

First up, Skinny Dip: a frozen yogurt place at Hilltop Plaza (the shopping center with the new Trader Joe's).

First Impression: Slightly confused. I had heard that you 'make your own' fro-yo dessert here but I was a little taken aback by the chaos of the assembly line.

How it Works: You really do make your own treat and it starts with getting your frozen yogurt like you would at a Golden Corral (don't pretend you haven't been to one). Then you pick your toppings. This is where my impression went from neutral to negative. The toppings were NOT impressive. The cookie dough was gross and it was definitely a store-bought pillsbury break and bake dough. It tasted very processed and it was not yummy. They had a shelf with all these syrup toppings like Hersey's Chocolate Syrup and the "Magic Crackle" syrups that people were helping themselves to. It reminded me of a children's birthday party with a bunch of grubby little hands grabbing at the syrup bottles. It was kind of gross and made me think about all the germs that were on those bottles. Yuck. The only redeeming thing in my opinion was the hot fudge and hot caramel. Those were actually good and they were contained in proper, professional looking pumps.

Final Thoughts: This place has created a lot of hype and I was expecting something pretty cool. Having lived in C-ville I have been spoiled by Arches I guess. Skinny Dip did not live up to my expectations. The whole place had a very home-spun feel to it with the DIY syrup bottles and assembly line. It seemed a bit pricey as well, it was almost $10 for two. They weigh your treats and that is how they determine the price. The actual frozen yogurt was tasty. I'll give them that. I just didn't like the atmosphere and chaotic vibe.

Rating: 2.5 stars


Have YOU been to Skinny Dip?? Thoughts? I wish we had a Pinkberry here!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For Such a Time as This

Most people I know are concerned about the direction our nation is currently headed. The problems we face are serious with lasting consequences and it seems that Congress thinks the solution is more government, more programs and more spending. I don't think this is the answer. We are straying from our roots and we are creating a government that I think our Founding Fathers would have difficulty recognizing. At times, I get discouraged and don't have much hope. After all, what can I do? In the past three months, someone has set an incredible example for me that has given me great hope. My father, Scott Rigell, has decided to run for Congress.



My dad is the ideal candidate for Congress. He is a small business owner, employing 240 people in Hampton Roads, with the experience necessary to restore real fiscal discipline to Congress. He understands that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and that we desperately need to help support them, not make things difficult for them. He will be a fervent advocate for small businesses in Washington. As a lifelong Republican, he has proven his commitment to conservative principles by financially supporting and volunteering for dozens of Virginia Republicans since the early 1990s including Bob McDonnell, George Allen, Mark Earley, Jim Gilmore and Oliver North. He summed up the current problem in Washington by saying this:

"There is a serious breach of duty taking place in Washington today, one that carries with it profound consequences affecting every American. Congress, which is the branch of government that has the final responsibility for our nation’s budget, is failing. It is recklessly spending and borrowing, the heavy burden of which will rest on our children, and their children."


My dad is running for me, for my brother and sisters, and for Parks. He is running because he feels a generational duty to pass on a better America to us. He sees that our country is in need of good, principled leadership and he is willing to make a sacrifice and go forward. He will do what he thinks is right and stand firm in it. I have seen him make difficult decisions and solve complex problems with wisdom, strength and grace. He is able to see the big picture and he has a vision for our great country.

I promise you, this will not turn into a political blog. But, it is a huge part of my life right now so I wanted to share it with you and give you an opportunity to help support my dad if you feel called. He will be such a breath of fresh air in Washington!

This race will be in November of 2010, but first he must be chosen to be the Republican nominee. That will most likely happen through a primary or caucus in June 2010.

The best way to support him right now is on Facebook. Please join our Scott Rigell for Congress group and his Politician Page and invite your friends. You are making an investment in better government!

Also, check out his website! There is a great video on the home page of his site where you can hear what his family and friends have to say about him.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Girls Night

Last weekend was the first time I had been out with girls since Parks was born...seven looong months ago! Jackson was sweet and watched Parks while I went out on the town with this lovely group of ladies for Mary Elizabeth's birthday.




Let me tell you...we had a good time. We went to The Banque in Norfolk. It is a country line dancing place and it draws an....interesting crowd. All six of us probably looked pretty out of place in there, but we had a blast. We gave line dancing our best shot even though we probably looked ridiculous. I had a margarita and stayed out until about 12! I felt like I was living on the edge! All six of us are married and three of us are moms so it was a really fun group to go out with. We'll have to visit the Banque again sometime...hopefully it won't be another 7 months from now :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let's Have a Baby!

No, I'm not pregnant again :) One of my favorite readers, Gillian, asked me to write about my experience deciding to have a baby. I have to say, I'm flattered that anyone would want my opinion on this issue but I also approach it with humility and always defer to wherever you feel the Lord is leading you. I will share what the Lord, through His grace, has put on my family's heart about this subject.

Right from the start, Jackson and I knew that we wanted kids. There was no question about it, we were both crazy about children and knew we wanted to start a family, sooner rather than later. About four months after we got married we felt like I was supposed to stop hormonal birth control and use "natural" family planning methods. Let me be very clear that I do not think that the birth control issue is black and white. Our decision to stop using the pill was something we felt was right for us to do and that the Lord had laid on our hearts. I do not think this applies to all couples in all seasons of life. Right now, I'm still nursing and fully devoted to a 7 month old who keeps me busy, so I'm back on the pill because it would not be our choice to conceive again right now. Nursing also makes "natural" family planning very difficult, if not impossible.

During our first year of marriage, we would talk fairly regularly about having a baby. We both wanted to, but we knew we needed to a wait a while. We were both finishing our senior year of college and knew that we would need to find a job and things like that. We were thinking that we would start trying around graduation time. During this time we prayed that the Lord would show us His perfect timing and that we would cooperate with whatever He had in mind for our family. Around February, three months before our "plan", Jackson came up to me after church and said, "It's time. We are supposed to have a baby." I was pretty suprised. I was like "Are you sure? Do you feel like this is from the Lord?" He said he felt like the Holy Spirit was nudging him and that we were supposed to have a baby. We both prayed about and after about a day I had a peace about it and felt really excited that the Lord was leading our family through my husband.

The rest is history :) We found out I was pregnant mid-March and we were ecstatic. We had been married 10 months. That same month Jackson had his first fundraiser for his ministry position and it was clear that God was going to provide for our needs. We were so happy. Parks was born nine months later and we could not be crazier about him. We are also certain that it was God's plan for him to be born when he was and that we were following His leading.

In terms of future children, we definitely want more. People ask me how many children I want and I tell them 3-5. I'll just have to see how we do after each one. In terms of when...we're not sure. We're not in a financial position to have more at this moment (you'll read more on my thoughts about this below). I also am really enjoying Parks as a baby and I don't want to miss out on his babyhood by being preoccupied or stressed about another baby on the way. So if I had to guess, I'd say baby #2 might be on it's way sometime in 2010, putting them about 2-2.5 years apart. But who knows? God is totally in control and he could suprise us tomorrow! But those are our plans right now and we will prayerfully submit them to the Lord.

That is our story. If I had to give advice to couples on this issue, these are my thoughts:

  • God is in control of everything all the time, despite what we plan. This includes family planning. I think it is important to maintain a submissive spirit to the Lord's sovereignty in this area. It is easy to think that we are the ones in control thanks to contraceptives but really, God is in control. This doesn't mean you have to have a "quiver full" mentality. But it does mean we need to humbly submit our plans to Him, knowing that He is the one who determines our path and it may be different than what we think is best.
  • Examine your reasons for wanting to have children or not wanting to have children. I think this is helpful to get you and your spouse on the same page. Are you having children because they are cute or because you want to enhance your life? Are you having children because you want to teach little people about Jesus? Are you having children because you want to selflessly pour yourself into another human being? It's just good to think about and discuss with your spouse. If you don't desire children, try to figure out why. It may be a prudent decision based on your current situation, or it may be a selfishness that may need to be examined between you and God.
  • Evaluate your financial situation. I hear all the time, "We'll have a baby when we can afford it." Meanwhile, the couple is living in a very comfortable house/condo/apt spending money on dinners out, concerts, etc. If you can go out to eat and spend money on new clothes, concerts, and starbucks...you can afford a baby. You do not have to have the child's college trust fully funded before they are born! Now, I'm not saying babies aren't expensive, they are. But to some extent they are as expensive as you make them. You will likely need roughly $1,500 for a hospital bill (this was close to what we paid, but it will vary depending on your insurance/hospital, etc) and then about $50/month for diapers if you do disposables. If you formula feed, this monthly cost will go up significantly. Most people are blessed with baby showers that help them with a lot of the basic needs for a baby. Also, consignment stores are a huge help! I've bought toys for Parks that are in great condition that would have cost me 3x as much at Target if I had bought them new. The bottom line is: if you have a safe place to live, if you can afford food, gas and the essentials in life and have about $75/month to spend on the baby, you can afford a baby. Now, if you cannot afford food, you don't have a place to live and you really do not have an extra $75 a month....you should probably wait to have a baby. I firmly believe in being a good steward of what God has blessed you with and if you are really struggling financially it would probably not be prudent to further strain your resources with a baby. However, God always provides for his children and if you unexpectedly get pregnant and are in a bad financial situation, I believe God will provide and help get you through.
  • Pray. This is the most important thing I could tell anyone to do. You have to pray and ask the Lord to reveal his perfect will to your family. Tell him that you want to honor him in growing your family and you want to be in accordance with his plan. He will gladly answer this prayer! I would pray together as a couple and separately and then see if you both are getting any sort of answer from the Lord. It may be "yes, it's time" or it may be "wait". Either way, the feeling of walking in obedience to God's plan, even if it doesn't make sense to you or if it isn't what your parents or friends think is best, is the best way to live. If you follow him, he will never let you down.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Lake

Jackson and I got to spend the fourth at his parent's beautiful home on Smith Mountain Lake. Going to the lake is always a good time, but bringing Parks made it even more fun! He absolutely loved it and had so much fun exploring new things and of course, snuggling with his Mama Boo and Papa! We got some cute pictures of our adventures :)


Beep beep

Faster Papa, Faster!
Daddy loves the four wheeler
with Daddy on the boat
I. Hate. This. Thing.
You're gonna pay for this mom, just you wait.

I like to chill on the dock with my Mama Boo
I like to feel the breeze on my baby soft skin

First trip to the park for Parks

Slide with Dad

our family of three

fun fun
this swing is crazy
a pea in a pod
i guess this is fun.


video
Parks' first slide ever, I had to document it!