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! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

PSA: anchor your furniture

So, it was kind of hard for me to write this post. Probably mostly because of the fear of *parental judgement*. Dun dun dunnnnnn! But I'm getting over that and posting this, because there may be other parents out there who have either been putting this off, or didn't know about it. [Sorry this is kind of a Debbie Downer post, but I just don't want any other parents to go through this!]. Phew, here goes:

We had an incident earlier this year that really shook me up. Henry was in his room for his afternoon nap, and was just playing by himself before he fell asleep. Josh and I were downstairs and we suddenly heard a HUGE crash, followed by a cry of terror. My heart felt like it jumped in my throat, and Josh and I instantly ran up the stairs. I'm not sure if either of us have ever moved that fast in our lives. We threw open his door (thankfully he hadn't locked it like he sometimes does) and Josh lifted up the dresser. Henry was tucked halfway into the bottom drawer, and Josh couldn't see him so he was screaming "where is he?!". I pulled him out of the drawers and held him close. I didn't see any blood, even though the top drawer of the dresser had been bashed in by his head. Henry was still scream-crying, I was shaking and crying, and Josh was shaking... I looked Henry all over and tried to touch all his major bones to make sure everything was still intact. Miraculously, he seemed completely fine physically, and was just shaken up.

In my life so far, I don't think I have ever been more scared than in this incident. I also felt TERRIBLE, because this whole thing could have been prevented with a relatively simple fix. And it wasn't even a "fix" we didn't know about, we had heard about a similar instance happening a couple years ago. We just never thought it would happen to us: Henry hadn't ever climbed up any dressers or shelves before... he had messed with his drawers a couple times to pull all his clothes out, and we had gotten after him and clearly told him not to play with his dresser. And anchoring furniture requires holes in the wall, and we're in a rental. With all these justified-seeming excuses, we'd [obviously] never done anything about it. And that reason alone is why I am posting about it. Because YOU NEVER THINK IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU! But if it's something like this that is 100% preventable, just PREVENT IT! (Sorry for all the caps just happened..)

We moved Henry's dresser out into the hallway until I could get something to anchor it to the wall. I looked at Walmart and Home Depot but neither place had any sort of kit like what I had in mind. So I called Ace Hardware and asked if they had anything, and they said yes! They are called an Anti Tip Kit, and I believe they were about $10/each (I bought two, for the two larger pieces of furniture we own that could possibly tip and cause harm). They are rated to hold up to 400 pounds. The only tools you need to install it are a stud finder and a drill. Besides having Josh help me move the dresser back in the room, I anchored the dresser by myself. It took probably about five minutes, and that's including finding the power cord for the drill and charging it ;) What I'm trying to say is that the process of anchoring this dresser was EASY.

So if you haven't heard about doing this, or have been putting it off for whatever reason, please do it. Now. It could literally save your childs life. I am beyond grateful that Henry did not get hurt, and also that Josh was home when this happened (he lifted that dresser up like it was a pillow!). I know the outcome could have been much different :(

FYI, I found the product I bought on Amazon, here is the link if you are interested.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

mothers day, as a mother who isn't perfect

Mothers Day isn't actually about me. It's not a day for me to sleep in and be pampered. It's not a day for me to pat myself on the back and say I'm an amazing mom. I'm not amazing. I usually try to be the best I can, but that's all I can ever ask for, no matter what day of the year it is. And to be honest, there are many days where "the best I can be" translates to just making sure everyone is fed and isn't sitting in poop [which can be made harder by the fact that I can't smell ;)]. I've been thinking how today is really about my loves: my husband and my children. Josh is my support, my co-captain, my first mate, my therapist, my life coach, my sugar daddy, my everything. I love him with all my heart, and I'm so grateful that he puts up with all the nonsense that comes along with work so that I can be spoiled with my children. My two miracle children... I never knew that I could love tiny human beings so much. And now that they are in my life, I realize that I take it for granted. I always told myself I would never take having kids for granted, but it just happened. You sort of slip into your role and before you realize it, you become complacent..

I've known too many people who have lost children these past few years, and it absolutely wrecks my heart. But in every instance, I find myself thinking that those sweet children had lived such amazing and full lives, even in their painfully-short existence. This makes me reflect on the lives my kids are currently living.. Are they having joyful lives? Am I doing enough? Am I focusing on the wrong things? As I've reflected on this tonight, I think I do need to shift my focus...

These past couple weeks I've found myself being harder on Henry. He's so smart and talking so much more that I forget he's just a two year old. That's practically a baby, really. But I have all these expectations of how he should behave, and therefore find it easier to get pushed to my limit. When really I just need to check myself and forget about all the extra stupid stuff that's going on, and just focus on what he needs. Obviously there is a balance that needs to be maintained so that I'm not neglecting myself or anything like that. But I don't think that's what's happening here.. I find myself raising my voice more than I used to, and more than I like. I worry more about squashing all his "bad behavior", and less about nurturing all his good qualities. [I'm sure my recent attempts to be healthier and eat less sugar may be adding to my shorter fuse, but I don't want to attribute my short-comings to that]. I need to have more patience and understanding, and try to understand the world through my children's eyes.

This Mother's Day, I have come to a realization that I need to reconnect with my inner child, and stop worrying so much about trying to be a perfect mom. Or having perfect children. The pressure associated with all that is far too much for my liking. My boys are babies--precious babies that at one point I didn't know I'd ever have. I need to stop taking their existence for granted, and make more out of this amazing experience that is being their mom. Play more, play on their level, and nurture their talents and interests. [Yes, babies can have talents/interests... have you ever seen how talented George is at smiling?!? That kid could light up a room! ;)]. I have an inkling that worrying less about being an amazing mother might actually make me a better mother. And I'm definitely open to that. ♥

And as far as Josh goes? I'm already a perfect wife, so that's one less pressure off of me ;P

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flashback: Christmas in Arizona!

Since we stayed in Utah for Thanksgiving, we went to stay with my parents in Arizona for Christmas. It was SO NICE! Utah gets pretty cold in the winter, so we hadn't even played outside in what seemed like forever. Then we get to Arizona and it felt like paradise in comparison. Occasionally we needed light jackets while outside. Henry was in complete heaven!! He loves being outside, so to be able to roam free without layers and gloves and hats and all that nonsense was perfection.

Now, for some pictures :)

hello, cutie

someone partied too hard on Christmas...

you know, just doing some important construction work

Grandpa and Henry had a blast playing with trucks

Christmas PJs. Sometimes this is the best picture you can get...

Obviously Christmas isn't just about presents, but oh my goodness it's cute to see reactions to presents :) Henry got seriously spoiled (thanks grandparents!) and LOVED all his new trucks and toys.

George, always the happy camper, was content to just hang out. But don't worry, he was spoiled too!

baby George playing patty cake with monkey George
As fun and amazing as Christmas celebrations can be, it can really tire a person out. And someone (I'm not naming names...) may have had a little too much fun...

too! much! CHRISTMAS!
One of the highlights for Henry on the trip was the neighbors house. They are an older couple that is obsessed with Christmas. I've never seen anything like it. The lady even said that on her Christmas list she had asked for blue Christmas lights. That's dedication. They had lights everywhere, and played Christmas music outside from speakers. Their long driveway was paved with different light-up Christmas decor, just one after the other. Henry was amazed, and to be honest I was pretty impressed too. Henry kept yelling "lights! lights!" and pointing at each new thing. While we were looking at everything outside, the couple saw us and came out to say hi. Then they invited us inside to see the rest of their Christmas collection. So...I thought outside was intense. Every inch of their entryway, dining area, and living room was COVERED in Christmas. [[I took a ton of pictures, but lost them when I broke my phone a couple months ago :'( ]]. I think they had every sort of dancing/singing Christmas characters ever made... and they played every single one for Henry (they were so sweet to him!). There was even a life size Santa that sang, as well as a life size snowman that sang and danced (Henry was kind of scared of that one haha). Anyways, that was the Christmas house, and it was awesome. And yes, we visited more than once on our trip ;)

large mouth bass!
Of course my parents had to get into all sorts of shenanigans while we were there. They said they were going to play with Henry outside, and next thing I know I get this picture sent to my phone:

riding in style
When I went out to see where they were, I found them a couple houses away looking at horses. Yup, best trip ever!

sweet brothers
We had such a great time, and it was nice to get away to the warmer weather. I might just have to go live there for a few months every winter!! The summer there kills me, but I could definitely get used to the winter weather. Thank you so much Mom and Dad for letting us stay with you! It was a fabulous time, and made for some fun memories ♥