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My Skincare and Haircare Routine

After having Olive, I really got into a funk where I put almost almost no effort into my appearance. I rarely wore makeup and avoided mirrors. It was a little embarrassing when I would run into people I knew on the street since I always wore my bummiest clothes, didn’t have a stitch of makeup on and had unwashed hair, but I didn’t have enough energy to change. I was depressed, but nowhere near the worst episodes I’ve had in the past, so I just chalked it up to the difficult early years of parenting. Earlier this year I finally made some big changes, started taking better care of myself, and started feeling much better. And looking better actually does make me feel better — lately I’ve been wearing makeup 4-5 times a week, instead of 4-5 times a year!

I’ve always loved beauty products, and lately I’ve added a number of new products to my routine that have had a huge impact on my skin, so I thought I would share!

1) DHC Deep Cleansing Oil – Koreans believe in a two-step face cleansing system that involves first removing makeup with an oil like this one. I’ve been using this Japanese product for well over a decade and it does a fantastic job of removing all your makeup before you cleanse. As the popularity of cleansing oils grows, many American, Korean, and Japanese brands carry similar products.

2) Blum Makeup Wipes – When I’m too tired/lazy to use the deep cleansing oil, I turn to these natural wipes. They’re now a must-have in my skincare routine.

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A Day with 4 Week Old Twins

With Miss H, I loved that I tracked what some of our days were like schedule-wise in the early days, including when Miss H was 2 1/2 weeks old. It’s really fun to look back on, especially right now when I’m sleep deprived – it’s made me realize I was just as sleep deprived back then, maybe even more than I am now (or, at least now I’m used to it)!

The twins are almost 4 weeks old, so the other day I tracked what our schedule was like from midnight to midnight (we use the Baby Connect app on our iPhones). It’s crazy to see that the babies went through a combined 28 diapers (14 each!) and consumed 52 ounces via bottles (mostly formula, about 6 ounces of breast milk for each baby during the day). And I pumped 11 ounces of breast milk during that time period – obviously I can’t keep up with their demand!

Both babies have been sleeping amazingly in their rock-n-plays (knock on wood!).

So here’s what 24 hours with our 4 week old twins looks like (from midnight to midnight):

(The babies had been sleeping from about 7/8pm)

12:00am-12:10am: Miss Hop had a bottle (Mr. Hop had his bottle before the clock struck midnight!)
12:10am-1:48am: Both babies slept! (1 hour, 38 minutes)
1:48am-2:33am: Miss Hop had a diaper change and a bottle, a diaper change; Mr. Hop had a diaper change and bottle; I pumped after they went back to bed.
2:15am-4:20am: Both babies slept! (1 hour, 55 minutes)
4:20am-4:45am: Miss Hop had a diaper change and bottle; Mr. Hop had a diaper change and a bottle.

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11 things no one tells you about having a scheduled c-section

I spent the majority of my first pregnancy wondering what labor and delivery would feel like. I went back and forth about pain relief options and how I wanted to labor and where. We took a childbirth class that focused almost exclusively on vaginal deliveries, and somewhere around 33 weeks I decided that I needed an epidural because I did not want to feel anything. At 34 weeks we found out Chloe was breech and would be scheduling a c-section if she didn’t move head down. I felt like we’d wasted time and money on the childbirth class. It barely scraped the surface of what a c-section was like, so I really went into mine without having a clue what to expect. I knew a handful of people that had had one, but none of them were planned and no one had a positive story to tell. They mostly complained about the recover,y but I was more interested in knowing what the actual procedure would be like. I did have a positive c-section birth, but I thought I’d share the ins and outs of getting a scheduled c-section… you know, the stuff no one ever tells you.

1. You have to walk to the operating room.
I thought I was going to crap my pants when the nurse came and got me to escort me to the operating room. She wanted me to walk? I felt like I was walking to my sudden death.

But then, I was TRICKED! With my second c-section, I was wheeled into the operating room. I thought I would like this better but it turned out I didn’t like walking to or being wheeled to surgery.

2. It’s freaking cold in there.
Maybe it’s because you’re half naked or are hooked up to an IV with fluids that feel like ice running through your veins, or maybe they really do have the thermostat set to -100*.  Either way, it’s flipping freezing in the OR. They gave me super warm blankets to warm up and I decided right then and there that I needed warm blankets on me at all times. It was like being wrapped in a cocoon and semi distracting at the time.

3. You might feel a little tugging… or you might not.
I’ve heard that if you have an epidural, you’ll feel tugging and pressure but if you have a spinal you won’t feel anything.  I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but I did have a spinal both times and didn’t feel anything the first time. I was absolutely clueless as to what they were doing and actually had no idea that they’d even begun the surgery. I remember them telling me that my husband would come into the OR once surgery had begun, so imagine my complete surprise when he was suddenly sitting beside me (and I realized what was going on!).

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Baby Girl Winter Bootie Roundup

With our baby girl born in the cold winter months, I’ve been going a tad crazy searching adorable winter gear for her first few months. It really doesn’t get much cuter than baby booties, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites for the little lady pre-walkers this winter!

1. PediPed Rosa Original 2. Stride Rite Crib Sweetie Snuggle Knit Bootie 3. Zara Cashmere Knit Bootie 4. Minnetonka Sheepskin Bootie 5. Oeuf Animal Bootie 6. Zutano Cozie Fleece Bootie 7. Bobux Moccasin 8. Freshly Picked Amour Moccasin 9. Acorn ‘Tex Easy’ Slipper 10. Uggs Bixbee 11. Robeez Cozy Ankle Bootie 12. Ugg Kids Purl

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The Best Fish Sticks You’ll Ever Eat

The Best Fish Sticks You'll Ever Eat l Hellobee

The idea for turning this dinner into a recipe to share occurred to me the first time we made it for our son Zane, and my husband Ben told him they were the best fish sticks he would ever have. Although the same shape as the fish sticks we bake off in a pinch, especially when we are going out to dinner and need a quick meal for Z, they’re really in a different league altogether than their frozen counterparts. And while they take a little extra hands-on effort, the total time is no more than it takes to oven bake frozen fish sticks. And the results of this freshly fried version? Undoubtedly worth it.

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Making Sensory Play Manageable at Home

As we head into another long cold winter, the days are shorter and time for playing outside is limited. For those of us at home with kiddos all day, it won’t take long before we are out of “quiet” activities to do. And let’s be honest…the quiet activities usually aren’t the ones that the kids want to do the most anyway!

Sensory play (or, play engaging the various senses) is something that most kids love, because their little developing bodies need it! Children learn by doing, so these experiences are vital for not only their growth, but for the sanity of the adults who care for them! (Still not convinced that toddlers and preschoolers really thrive when given these experiences? This is a great article that explains exactly what kids are learning while they engage in sensory play!)

Pinterest can be both a blessing and a curse. Within seconds, millions of ideas are at our fingertips. But it is easy to get overwhelmed at all of the options, and to decide that these activities aren’t realistic for the average mom. Even though I have studied child development and worked with toddlers in a classroom setting, I still find myself falling into the “but I DON’T WANT to clean flour out of my rug!” camp, and sensory activities have definitely been on the back burner in our home.

But as Little Lion gets older and requires a lot more challenge and stimulation to remain his happy and content self, I have decided that the time has come for me to conquer my fears.  Below are some tips for how we are making the mess more manageable in the Lion household!

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20 DIY Christmas Ornaments

I admit I’m not much for the holidays. As a child of immigrants, my parents didn’t really understand American customs. We did see family around the holidays and I believed in Santa for a while, but as a whole holidays were always small and never a big production. Even after I married Mr. Chocolate, I was never particularly into the holidays the way he was, stemming from his fond memories of childhood. For many years after we were married I never wanted to even put up a tree — so much work for a few weeks of enjoyment and it was sparsely decorated since we didn’t have many ornaments.

Now that I am a parent though, I have come to see the holidays differently. Since Drake was born I have slowly gotten more into the holiday spirit as I watch the excitement and anticipation build up in him. As he has gotten older, Drake has become more aware of the seasons and the idea that Christmas and Santa are coming. Last year was the first year we took him to pick out a live Christmas tree, and the first time he started to understand the idea of Elf on the Shelf. Now as fall has arrived, he has already started to mention how his elf is coming soon and he is going to be seeing Santa. Watching his joy at the idea of Christmas has changed how I feel about the holidays, and I couldn’t be happier by this. Still after all these years our tree is still pretty sparse, and since I always like a good DIY I thought it might be fun to start making ornaments to add to our tree. It will be a nice way to get ready for Christmas and a bonus to do some projects with Drake to help him get even more excited. Here is a roundup of some pretty, cool, and fun DIY ornaments I hope to try out this season.

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