Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We hope you all enjoy the lovely holiday season, and hopefully you will be surrounded by loved ones! I sent out some Christmas cards but I'm far too lazy to do a newsletter or anything like that to include with them. So here's a mini one, via blog. You get what you get ;)

This was the year of trips!
+In May we went to Disneyland and had so much fun that I basically want to live there. For anyone who isn't sure about bringing babies, DO IT! George was about 9 months old when we went, and loved every minute of it.
+We made several trips throughout the year to Arizona and northern Utah to see family, and we're really trying to take advantage of our close distance while we're still living here :)
+In August Josh and I went to New York to see the US Open for his birthday, and had an amazing trip. I want to move to New York, so if anyone knows of some jobs--hook us up!! We seriously loved the city, and I wish we had even longer to explore it while we were there!
+In September we made a spur of the moment decision to fly to Ohio and visit our bffs Emily and Dave! Since they ditched us to go to dental school (ugh, boring!) we've managed to see each other every year! It's a tradition we hope to keep very much alive over the years :) It was so fun to spend time with them and see Columbus

This year George turned 1 in September, and Henry turned 3 in December. I can't even believe I have a 3 year old. These boys are just growing up like crazy!! Thankfully they both love each other very much, and are always trying to get into mischief together. Since I've pushed myself to be more extroverted and make new friends, they have lots of little friends that they love to play with. Henry goes to a Mommy & Me dance class once a week, which he actually loves (even if the whole time he's running around or asking me to hold him). I think I want to get him into swimming lessons this next year, since he is such a water baby. Henry is currently obsessed with play dough and riding his new bike, and George is obsessed with books and animals.

Josh is still working as a wildlife biologist for a transmission line construction project. The current project is wrapping up, but he's staying on to oversee reclamation and revegetation. We don't really know what will happen after that's done, but hopefully there will be a new project that he can go work for. And of course Josh has been watching tennis all year, and finally got to see his favorite players this summer at the US Open (Serena! Federer! Venus!). We've also [obviously] been rooting for Alabama this year--ROLL TIDE!

I am loving being a stay-at-home mom, even if there are crazy days that I want to pull my hair out ;) My big hobby of course is nail art, and I'm considering doing it out of my house as sort of a side job this next year. We'll see how it goes. I did whole 30 this summer, which was really hard but helped me to curb my insane candy binge-eating habits. Unfortunately it also probably caused the lovely kidney stone I had to deal with a couple months later (oy vey). Hmm...what else...I'm still rocking the purple hair and channeling my inner unicorn. ;)

Josh and I are more active on instagram so if you'd like to see what we're up to, here are our accounts:
Josh's instagram, Jess's instagram, Jess's nails on instagram (yes, that's a thing).

We hope that you've all had a fabulous year, and have a wonderful holiday!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

time for change

I have been really upset about current events of late. Particularly concerning all these cases including excessive police force, and racism. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Darrien Hunt, Trayvon Martin, and many many more. The case that really sent me over the edge was Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold after resisting arrest and consequently died. The entire thing was caught on tape and can be found on youtube. It is appalling. The medical examiner ruled it death by homicide, yet when it was presented to a grand jury the officer responsible was not even indicted. WHAT?! When I learned about all of this I was absolutely sickened. It kept eating away at me and finally I just could not take it anymore. The America I believe in doesn't let anyone, including/especially police officers, kill people for no warranted reason and get away with it. Black or white or purple, all human beings are just that: human beings.

Before the Eric Garner case I felt like I could contribute by fighting for body cameras for all police officers, and I felt like that would be a positive change. But now?? After Eric Garner was killed ON TAPE and nothing was done about it, I was left with a hopeless feeling. Hopeless about the case. Hopeless about justice. Hopeless about racism. Hopeless about law enforcement. And hopeless about the future of our country. And I just felt like I personally couldn't do anything to help this cause that I feel so strongly about.

I made a comment to Josh how I wished I lived somewhere like New York so I could at least participate in a peaceful protest. He said "You don't have to live in New York to protest. You can live anywhere. You just go and you just protest." Which got me thinking... Social media can reach almost everyone these days. So I decided to do an online protest. I'm inviting everyone else who would like to make a change or a difference to join me. I think that even small things can make little ripple effects, so why not take a stand?!


I hope that through different investigations, at least some of these cases will finally result in justice. And hopefully through all the peaceful protests and different news stories, etc, something positive can come out of this. It is obvious that something needs to be done about this problem, and it's time for things to change. We cannot continue to let this happen. As a friend reminded me, Bob Dylan said:  "How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see?" 

Monday, December 1, 2014

freshly picked moccasin review

Ever since my kids were born, I've been a fan of Freshly Picked. I remember I started following them on instagram, and would get excited when Susan would post a picture of someone famous with their kids wearing FP moccs. A female entrepreneur who built herself up starting with some scrap leather she bought at a yardsale? Yes, I can get behind a lady like that! Then when I saw she was appearing on one of our favorite shows, Shark Tank, I just knew this would be her tipping point. She signed a deal with Daymond, and watching from my living room I felt so happy for her. Is that creepy? Haha, whatever... Since then she has expanded her line to include carryalls, clothing, and even crib-sized moccasins (adorable!!).

cutest packaging ever!

My kids had a BLAST with the emoji stickers that came in the package. They were a huge hit. At one point Henry and George both teamed up against me and covered my back with emojis. I have to admire their teamwork ;)

Because I wanted a pair of moccs that would match almost anything George wears, I got a pair of Swimmin' With The Sharks in a size 4. They fit George perfectly and have a little bit of room to spare in the toe region. The elastic design at the opening makes it simple to put on his feet but also stay put, all while not cutting off the circulation to his fat little feet ;). 

The leather is both soft and durable, and George has even walked around comfortably in the desert of Arizona in them. No stickers or "pokies" even made a dent or scratch on the sole!

Overall I've been very pleased and impressed by this pair of moccs! I will say I've owned a suede pair of FP moccs as well and while they are still very durable, the material developed a scratchy look rather quickly, and the original pattern is hardly visible. If you are considering buying a suede pair, I'd just save them to be used as a dressier pair of shoes (if you want them to stay in their original condition).  These leather ones have been used for some serious playing, and I'm happy to report they still look pretty close to perfect! 

I know for a fact that you will all be seeing a lot more of George in these fabulous shoes. Also, almost everything in her shop today is 20% off for Cyber Monday! Go check it out! Also, keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram account, because I will be hosting a giveaway for one lucky person to win moccs of their choosing!! Happy shopping friends, and I hope to see you tomorrow on IG :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

why i pay my babysitters "so much"

First, let me provide some context. When I grew up in Maine, my going rate for babysitting was $10 an hour, for one kid. More kids? More money. Keep in mind, this was 10+ years ago. Here in Utah, I'm pretty sure the going rate is about $3 an hour... current day... 2014. Umm...WHAT?! Now that I have kids of my own and need babysitters, I pay $7/hr. I paid $7 when I just had one child, but I got a lot of flack about this from friends, neighbors, and even the babysitters themselves. So when I had a second child, I kept paying babysitters $7. And to be honest, every single time I feel like I'm short changing them. Even if they're just watching my tv for a couple hours while my kids sleep upstairs.

The question I've been asked multiple times is "Why do you pay babysitters so much?!" And usually my short answer is "my children's lives are in their hands". 

Here's the long answer: My children's lives are in their hands.

I mean, I'm not even paying minimum wage!! My babysitters could literally flip burgers or work in a call center and make more money. I value my children's lives as far more important than burger flipping or getting yelled at on the phone. So why is it so ludicrous to even consider paying the same or more than a minimum wage job??

I know people say things like If I'm going to pay more money, I expect them to clean up my house and do all the dishes and make my kids dinner from scratch, etc etc etc. Not to be defiant, but really all I expect from my babysitters is that everyone is safe while I'm gone. And it's just common courtesy for them to pick up any toys that had been taken out, although I expect my kids to help in that act as well. But they don't need to be magical elves! Don't do my dishes, don't take out my trash, and don't cook my kids a gourmet meal (they obviously wouldn't appreciate it, anyway).

Look after my children, keep them safe, and react to any emergencies accordingly. That is what I pay my babysitters for. And that's worth a lot to me.

Note: Dear friends, please don't be offended by this post. It's not meant to "come after" anyone. It's just me explaining why I do the things I do. Chalk it up to being a yankee, if you must ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nail art tutorial: Gradient nails

gradient nails
Gradient nails skittlette
First of all, sometimes people call these "ombre nails". But there is actually a distinction between gradient and ombre nails: ombre nails are when each nail is painted a different shade of the same color. Gradient nails are when the same nail is painted with different shades of any or the same color. Who knew, right?!

I made this tutorial for my nail instagram account, @jesspaintshernails, and figured I would post it here too!

gradient nail tutorial
Gradient nail art tutorial

 Materials needed:
-white nail polish
-2+ colored polishes for the gradient
-makeup sponge (I use the store brand)
-cuticle oil or scotch tape
-top coat

☆Paint your nail(s) white. Try to keep your cuticles clean (bc cleaning up white polish is the worst!), but it doesn't have to be perfect. Let it dry (I use the aid of a quick dry topcoat because who has time to wait for polish to dry?!).
☆Apply cuticle oil all around your nail to make cleanup easier. OR use scotch tape to tape off the skin around your nail. This step is important otherwise cleanup is super annoying and you'll never want to try this method again (speaking from experience here haha).
☆Apply polish on makeup sponge in the sequence you want. I usually use 3 colors for mine but you could use 2+.
☆Dab the sponge on your nail. Move it up and down and around a little while dabbing to blend the colors. This will create the gradient effect (vs just lines of colors). Depending on the colors you're using, you might have to repeat this step until you reach desired opacity.
☆Clean up around the nail using a brush and acetone. I use an e.l.f. concealer brush that costs $1 at Walmart/Target.
☆Optional: add designs or glitter on top 
☆Apply topcoat! I am a BIG fan of Glisten & Glow - HK Girl Top Coat. It's seriously amazing and dries freakishly fast with minimal to no polish shrinkage. 

What do you think? For first timers, was this helpful? If you give this a try I'd love to see the results, leave me a link in the comments, or tag me on instagram @jesspaintshernails!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ramblings on becoming a better person

Disclaimer: this is super rambly and possibly quite annoying to anyone besides myself.  Read at your own risk ;)

Last month I had a kidney stone and it was a whole ordeal involving surgery, a stent, and a kidney/bladder infection from hell. Let's just say I didn't always handle it with the best of graces... There was a lot of tv watching, and a lot of me losing my patience and wanting to just go take a nap. It wasn't too pretty. Finally I just got fed up with myself and started browsing the internet for quotes on becoming a better person. And there were seriously SO MANY. Like, a never ending amount. Which actually made me instantly feel a little better that I'm not the only person in the world that's trying to better themselves (ha!). Reading all these quotes and thinking about how I need to change my attitude made me really think about humanity as a whole. NONE of us are perfect, no matter how perfect things may seem to outsiders. There's always something going on, something you're working on, something you could improve (even if you don't want to...), etc. It's kind of comforting to realize and accept that fact.

I wrote a snippet about this on my instagram account, and this is the quote I used. At the time, it was the most fitting. I didn't like how I was acting, and so I needed to change the story. I woke up the next day with a different attitude and perspective, and actively tried to be a better person and a better mom. While I wasn't perfect, obviously, it did make a huge difference throughout my day.

Whether I'm trying to change stuff or if I'm stuck in a rut, I'm still the same person. I can make the best out of what I've got in the present situation. I will always be Jess, I just want to be the most fabulous Jess that I can be ;)

In order to be in love with every minute of your life, you need to make the "good times" awesome, and make the "bad times" bearable, or at least try to see some reason for the crap that comes your way. Obviously this is easier said than done, but I think it is something to aspire to.

Another outcome of my soul-searching evening was that I realized I need to be pushing myself more. Challenge myself and my behavior. Delve into interests that may have perpetually been on the back-burner. Some days this really does just translate to *get out of the bed and feed your kids!*  haha

I liked this because there are all those sayings about acting the way you want to feel. If I want to be awesome, then I need to just start being awesome. Stay true to your own ethics/morals/personal guidelines, but DO the stuff you want to do, and ACT how you want to act!

This concept has been on my mind a lot lately. What makes me "come alive"? What am I passionate about? How can I create future employment from that? If you do what you love then you'll love what you do, right? I love being a mother and I'm forever grateful that I get to raise my two boys. While I want to work on being a better mom, I also need to figure out what else I really love and start developing my other interests as well. I feel so inspired by some of the people I follow on social media, and how they really do "come alive" and just radiate energy and love. That's how I want to be too. ♥

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

George's well visits: 2, 4, and 6 months!

Obviously since I have been terrible at blogging, I've missed putting all of George's stats up on the blog. So here we are: the results of his well visits from 2, 4, and 6 months old!!

8 week appointment: 
Weight: 13lbs 11oz (94%). Height: 24.25" (93%). Head circumference: 16.25" (86%).
Finally out of the newborn sleep-all-the-time stage and just getting out of a two week hardly-sleep-ever stage. A champion eater and growing fatty.  Unlike Henry, hardly spits up, and generally super chill.
i know this picture isn't that flattering, but i still love it because FATNESS!!

4 month appointment:
Weight: 16lbs (73%). Height: 27" (97%). Head circumference: 17.25 (87%). 
Still a champ eater. Co-slept with us which was cute to wake up to but annoying the rest of the time ;).  SUCH a happy, smiley, chill baby.

pinchable! #amiright

6 month appointment:
Weight: 18.05 lbs (65%). Height: 28.5" (97%). Head circumference: 17.75 (84%).
Still loves to nurse, but refuses to eat baby food. Also will not sleep unless attached to me (holding or nursing). I asked the doctor about starting cry-it-out because I was nearing my wits end (he agreed it was a good idea). I brought up the fact that he hated baby food, and the Dr recommended to stop trying baby food for a few weeks and starting it again (I'll post more about that later).

sitting up on his own and everything. such a stud.

George has such a delightful, chill, happy personality. He is seriously such a joy to be around, and can always be counted on for a huge smile. He loves music and playing games like patty cake. He loves being in the Ergo and will almost always fall asleep in it [in a matter of minutes]. Henry and George love each other and are so sweet with each other, and my favorite thing is when they do something silly that makes them both crack up. I love my sweet boys!! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

recipe: the perfect (and easy!) oatmeal raisin cookie

A few months ago I started craving oatmeal cookies. Particularly oatmeal chocolate chip, but I won't say no to raisins when I'm in the mood (plus, Josh likes the raisin ones better anyways). In my search for an EASY recipe without a billion ingredients, I found this one from Baker Bettie. Her recipe only has 6 ingredients, with additional options to add in if you feel like it. I tried it, and the cookies were pretty decent, but not perfect. But I saw promise... So I made a few tweaks and a couple batches later I had my PERFECT AND EASY oatmeal raisin/oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. I make these all the time, and bring them to parties so I can impress my friends and trick them into thinking I am an amazing baker. Because seriously, they are that good!! And because I am the nicest person ever, I will share the recipe with you:

The Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Yield: ~18 cookies (depending on size, obvi)

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (I just fill the cap and use that amount)
1 tsp baking powder
~1 tsp cinnamon (I just use a few generous shakes from the cinnamon shaker)
1 overflowing cup of half white/half wheat flour (if you want to be specific 1 cup + 2 TBSP flour)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (or M&Ms, I use seasonal colored ones when I make these for holiday parties)

[NOTE: these ingredients are pretty flexible, this is just how I make mine. But if you aren't into dark brown sugar, change it to light brown or white. If you aren't into wheat flour, just use white. The original recipe says that the vanilla, baking powder, and cinnamon are optional. So if you don't have them, skip it!]

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine brown sugar and stick of butter until smooth and delicious. Feel free to sample said mixture, and realize it's your kryptonite.  (Oh, just me? Oops...!)
3. Add in egg, vanilla, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir. Do not sample after this step, know...salmonella (boo, hissss).
4. Add flour and stir. Add oats and stir. Add raisins or chocolate chips or M&Ms and stir. Once again, resist urge to sample... 
7. Form balls of dough and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat (because I'm all about easy cleanup and no sticking cookies!). Gently flatten each ball.
8. Cook in the oven for ~18 minutes (note: the original recipe calls for something crazy like 9 minutes. At 9 minutes my cookies are still raw as a live cow. But it could just be my oven, so you may want to keep an eye on these the first time you make them! Check at about 10 mins).

You're welcome
Let me know if you make these, I'd love to know how you like them! :)