Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sephora Mother's Day Review & Giveaway (Canada only)

My search for better skin care products started when, a few years after moving to Canada, I noticed my sensitive/combination skin wasn't responding well to the dry Canadian climate. Calgary is notoriously dry year-round, and especially during the winter months. The basic face creams I'd been using were no longer cutting it - my skin was dry, flaky and irritated, and so I started hunting around for quality moisturisers that would help keep my skin hydrated through the winter months.

When Sephora offered to let me try Peter Thomas Roth's Viz-1000 I jumped at the chance. Peter Thomas Roth's Viz-1000 is a super-concentrated face serum that attracts 1000 times its weight in water from the moisture in the air. It promises to leave skin feeling "healthy, supple, and youthfully radiant."

It's fragrance-free, which I like, and is infused with all kinds of reputedly miraculous ingredients such as silk proteins, sea algae, honey and yerba santa. It all sounded very impressive on the ingredients list, but I was eager to see the actual results for myself.

The first night I applied the serum to my face before bed and then used my regular moisturiser over the top (Weleda Soothing Almond Facial Cream). As I applied the serum, I felt it sinking right into my skin and at first wondered whether it was going to be a little dry. But the next morning after my shower, I applied it again underneath my moisturiser, and immediately noticed a difference.

My face felt smooth - the kind of smooth you get after using a face scrub and mask. Later in the day, I inspected my face again. Some of the flakiness on my forehead seemed to have gone. The second day I noticed once again that my skin was smoother than usual, and again, a little more of the flakiness on my forehead had disappeared.

By the third day, the flakiness was almost completely gone, and I was noticing a new, pleasant glow to my skin. 

Overall, this is a very nice little product. I've used serums in the past and haven't seen great results. This one? I will probably keep using it. It's a pricey habit to keep up, retailing at $75 CAD. Definitely more than I'd usually pay for such a product.


With Mother's Day right around the corner (May 8th in case you didn't know), the nice people at Sephora are kindly offering one of my readers (sorry, Canadians only) the chance to win one of these products.

Happy Mother's Day!


To enter, all you need to do is leave me a comment, telling me what you do to look after your skin. For extra entries you can tweet this giveaway, follow me on Google Friend Connect (or tell me you do), or subscribe to my feed. A separate entry for each.

Giveaway closes on Saturday April 30th at 9:00 pm (MST). A winner will be picked using random.org.

Only open to Canadians.

Good luck!

**********  Giveaway Closed  *********

The winner is mean green mom, commenter #21. Congratulations!

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Great Eggspectations.

M: "Mummy? When is it going to be Easter?"

Me: "In one week, sweetie."

M: "Mummy? Is it Easter now?"

Me: "Not yet. Three more sleeps."

M: "Mummy? Can you please make the clocks go forward so we can have Easter NOW?"

Me: "Nope. But we're going to put on our boots and go for a nice walk to the park and by the time we come back it'll almost be Easter."

M: "Mummy! Daddy! Wake up! The Easter bunny came while we were asleep!"

M: "Mummy?"

Me: "Yes sweetie?"

M: "When is it going to be Easter again?"

p.s. That picture above is the Easter Bunny. For reals.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My hips don't lie.

On several accounts, my hips don't lie. For one thing, they are the hips of a woman with kids. For two, they tell on me, after every holiday eating and drinking binge, every time I stop exercising for a few years months. And for three, they remind me, I'm getting old(er).

What the bleep am I talking about, you ask?

Oh, you're not asking? Okay, really I don't blame you. Go watch this instead. It's far more entertaining.

Something is up with my left hip. I noticed it months ago and blamed it on the cold weather. Because can't almost everything can be blamed on winter? I would groan as I rose out of a chair and J would ask "what's the matter with you?" and I'd reply "ooooh it's my hip!" and clutch my thigh like an eighty four year old woman post-hip-surgery. And then, in typical style, I ignored it for as long as possible, until my doctor talked about joint pain during a physical exam and I was forced to acknowledge it. 

Given that I work in healthcare and spend half my job talking to patients about joint and muscle pain, it's plain baffling, how resistant I am to acknowledging my own ailments. I even know the rehabilitation exercises that could be helping me with this. Have I done even a single one of them? Not even a little.

I suppose I'm of the opinion that when it comes to the body, with a little care and rest, most things will resolve themselves (if only that worked with teeth).

Or maybe, I'm just too busy / reluctant / stubborn, to address my own complaints.

I seem to think I'm made of steel.

Unfortunately, I'm not. Yesterday I was lying on the floor on my side, fishing a Hot Wheels car out from under the sofa with a kitchen spatula, and felt a searing pain rush down my thigh. I sprang up and yelled. My son looked at me and asked what was wrong.

"Oh nothing, sweetie." I replied. And then "Mummy is just getting old and will probably need a hip replacement."

My son looked back at me sincerely, and at that moment I crossed my fingers that he wouldn't repeat what I'd told him - "My Mummy is getting a new hip!" - the next time I was picking him up from school, or at the grocery store.

I blame Shakira and all that dancing around the kitchen while I was supposed to be cooking.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Mummy Hates Snakes (or, how to avoid transferring your irrational fears to your kids).

When I was young I developed an unhealthy fear of snakes. I can't pinpoint the exact moment or the specific reasons why, but my apprehension grew over the years until eventually I couldn't stand to look at a picture of them and even had nightmares about them.

Being a parent has tempered my outward fears, but I still hate them, and here's why.

- They're sneaky. They slither around silently in tall grass so that no one hears them coming.

 - They have no legs. What kind of land creature has no legs? What kind of stealthy, sly gargoyle, slides around on its belly all day? 

- They shed (... I can hardly say it without gagging) their skin. Which is totally inconsiderate. Someone else has to pick that shit up.

- They have thin tongues that shoot out when they're thinking about devouring you.

- They have beady little eyes to spy you from metres away.

- They're greedy buggers. They eat things that are far too big for them and then lie there displaying their feast in their bulging belly.

- Their organs are all lined up in a row. I don't know why that's wrong but it bloody is.

- They can be up to 25 metres in length. That's about twenty four point eight metres too long.

- They could take over the world and kill all the humans. You know it's true.

- They kill with poison or constriction. CONSTRICTION. (image of snake wrapping itself around my neck in progress)

So basically I hate them.

I once saw a snake in the park just up the road from us. It was a perfectly pleasant summer day and I was pushing my son in his stroller, large with my second son. It was twenty feet away but I saw it. I screamed as though I'd seen a murder victim and ran the other way, clutching my babies - the one in my belly and the one in the stroller, fearing for our lives. And even though it was a ten-inch non-venomous grass snake, you just never know.

I worry, though, about transferring my fear to my sons. What if they pick up on it, and turn it their own nightmare? What if they're missing out on the opportunity to not be afraid of snakes. Maybe there's something (can't believe I'm going to say this) not-putrid about snakes, that they could discover.

Around my sons (apart from that one time in the park) I try to conceal my fear of snakes. If my son points out a picture of a snake in a book, or on TV, I try to act cool. I smile (ish) and comment on it without being negative.

Then this past weekend we were at a pet store, because that is the kind of thing we do when it's snowing in Spring and we're trying to find things to fill the time.

Passing the various species, we arrived at the fish, then the birds.

Suddenly - and it was the subdued tone of his voice that made me jump - J warned me:

"Sarah don't look to your left."

Resisting the urge to scream, I bolted the other way, almost tripping over my own feet.

"What. What. What the hell is that? Is that a SNAKE? Is there a SNAKE in there? Where is it?"

"Mummy, what's wrong?" My son asked.

"Er... nothing."

Parenting has done that to me: I'll stay composed even when I'm gripped by a fear that makes me imagine something is crawling up my pant leg.

"Mummy, are you afraid of snakes?" My son asked.

"Er... no. Not really." I lied.

"Snakes are... you know... fine." I continued, waving a finger in the direction of the dark, gloomy tanks over by the other side of the wall, where I suspected the beasts were lurking, probably watching me, waiting to break through their glass enclosures and dig their poisonous fangs into my neck before constricting me to death.

Turns out, there were no snakes there. Just lizards and tree frogs.

But it leads me to the question: should we hold our fears back from our kids, or should we be honest about them?

One day, my kids are going to find out that Mummy actually despises snakes and would rather clean a toilet with her own toothbrush that meet one in person. I guess my hope is, by the time they find out, they'll have developed their own opinion and not have inherited my phobia.

What do you think? 

Excuse me while I go throw up now. I just wrote a whole post about snakes.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do women really love being pregnant?

I was reading an article written by a woman who claimed she loved every moment of all three of her pregnancies. According to her, there was nothing about any one pregnancy she didn't enjoy. Instinctively my brain flipped to skeptic mode. Any time I hear a woman pairing the word "perfect" with the word "pregnancy", I'll admit, I'm dubious. It's true - some people do genuinely have good, smooth, complication-free pregnancies. Some have nausea filled, swollen-ankled, acne-ridden,shitty pregnancies. Some are bed bound. Some seem to breeze through it. Surely none are perfect though.

Me? I was a bit of both. The first few months of both of my pregnancies were beset with nausea (the first) or vomiting (the second) to the point of needing medication. At the same time, I remember also being dizzy with the excitement of first-trimester anticipation when not everyone knows yet and the birth is so far off that things seem not quite real still.

For me there were goods and bads: My skin broke out, but my hair was ultra-glossy and my nails grew strong and fast. I was uncomfortable as hell by the end of the second trimester, but I enjoyed the feeling of carrying my baby and feeling my son's tiny kicks in my belly. I got varicose veins in my right leg, but I loved the womanly curve of my pregnant body.

If I were to describe the way I felt about being pregnant, my response would be something like: "I really enjoyed the part where I met my baby!". And to me, there's nothing wrong with admitting there were parts of my pregnancy I did not enjoy. It doesn't make me a bad mum or an unsuitable candidate for pregnancy. 

In the past I've felt something bordering on guilt when faced with mothers who gushed about their sublime pregnancies and their AMAZING births. I wondered why I didn't feel all kinds of gushy about the experience too. 

I guess I'm just not the gushy type.

Don't even get me started on those who claim to have had an "orgasm birth". 

Just don't even scratch that surface.

I couldn't help feeling that, for some women, it was a one-upmanship to claim to have loved every second of their pregnancy - as though by default they had been selected as a superior being, designed to carry and deliver babies without a hitch.

Of course, these people don't exist.

I suspected that no matter what a woman said about her experience, she probably experienced some amount of trouble during her pregnancy. And so I had a hard time believing those who made statements like "I LOVED being pregnant.". I found myself trying to figure out whether they were joking or simply delusioned.

Some were plain serious.

And then, because I sometimes get these things completely wrong, I remembered something that shook my theory: my mother once told me she had loved being pregnant (with me). And my Mum - often one to join in with my (probably inherited) skepticism - had nothing bad at all to say about it. I can't remember her exact words but basically, the gist was, she loved it.

Loved it.

And though I suspect she went through her share of pregnancy complaints over the course of those nine months (or ten, in my case, because I was late and entered the world at a whopping 9 lbs), she just didn't complain about them.

(Or maybe she did, and years later looked back through rose-tinted spectacles at the whole thing.)

And then, I thought, perhaps I've misinterpreted these women who enthuse about their pregnancies. Perhaps they're not aiming for one-upmanship. Maybe they're just extremely positive about the experiences they have. Perhaps they gloss over the bad stuff because really that bad stuff was fleeting and in the end it's better to focus on the good stuff anyway.

And then I felt even worse that I wasn't that kind of person.

And then I used the word "and" to start a sentence for a fifth time, which was four times too many.

My final point is this: I'm not certain whether women who claim to have "loved being pregnant" are insane, lying, delusioned, smug or simply, telling the truth. Perhaps I shouldn't care. Perhaps I should nod my head and grant cheery congratulations with open arms instead of twisting my head to the side in my instinctively skeptical way and giving them the suspicious squint eye. Maybe I should give them a break.

What do you think?
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Room With A Mountain View

Lots of couples went away together last weekend, but I'd be willing to bet few were as excited or as appreciative as us: two run-ragged parents on our first getaway together in four years.

Image from TravelPod.com

And because it was our first time away together alone since becoming parents, we splurged and stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel, a castle in the mountains. 

We took advantage of every opportunity to do the kinds of things parents of small kids don't often get to do. We wandered around town, pausing at any place we fancied. We ate out at nice restaurants, enjoying delicious meals that someone else would later clear away and drinking too many cocktails just because we could. We idled away time in an outdoor pool fed by the local hot springs and wondered if we'd found paradise.  

In between outings we spent some time just walking up and down the hallways of the hotel, admiring architectural details, winding stone staircases, vaulted ceilings and grand dining rooms.

 Can I please live here please?

In the morning, we ate breakfast against a view of the mountains (the most incredible breakfast buffet I've ever seen) (I ate enough to last the week).

For a few days we basked in the glory of being just a couple again. It was refreshing, inspiring. And then we returned, more grateful than ever, to sweet kisses and hugs back at home. 

Now we just need to figure out how to do this more often... (than every four years)

This post is just my description of our weekend getaway. It was not paid for or sponsored by anyone.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What do your Tweets say about you?

A handful of the people I follow on Twitter are real-life friends. A larger group are friends I've made through blogging (but haven't actually met). Probably the largest portion I follow on Twitter are acquaintances - people I know very little about. I follow them and they follow me perhaps because of some vague connection or common interest. The only thing I really know about these people are what they say on Twitter.

And when all you know of a person are their tweets, you begin to build a mental picture in your mind, based on the kinds of things they post and their tone of voice. And because of this, I've come to notice several personality types.  

Moany Mervin.
Mervin is a moaner. He uses Twitter as an outlet for all his worldly grievances. He lists off all the reasons the universe has dealt him a crappy hand. Everything sucks for Mervin: love, life, money, you name it. After a while you begin to associate Merlin's profile picture with his moaning and general gloom. Later, you start to avoid his tweets, for fear he might drag you down into his den of self-pity, too.

Gushy Gloria. 
No one likes Moany Merlin, but on the other side of the coin, Gushy Gloria can be equally infuriating. Gushy Gloria brags about her perfect life in direct or indirect ways. She boasts endlessly about her well-behaved children and touts her amazing super-woman-esque accomplishments. According to her, Martha Stewart comes to her for advice. Gushy Gloria is not just positive by nature, she's pathological. 

Market-Hard Mandy.
Most bloggers tweet to let their followers know when they've just published a new blog post, if they're doing a giveaway, or if they're helping promote a brand as part of a Twitter party for instance. A certain amount of marketing for one's personal or business brand is expected - so long as those promotional tweets are balanced with some more persona tweets and interactions fellow Tweeps. But Marketing Mandy only has one thing on her mind: sell HARD. She pushes her marketing message relentlessly, shamelessly. In the end, it becomes boring. You know she's only out the to profit herself, and you begin to consider erasing her pushy tweets from your feed. 

Cliquey Clarissa. 
Everyone has Twitter buddies - people we tweet with more than others. But Cliquey Clara only ever seems to talk to one or two people. The message she's sending is: it's a private party and you're not invited. Eventually her followers will get the message that they're not welcome into the conversation, and will leave her well alone. 

Vera Variety
Vera is the most common type of Tweep. She writes a variety of tweets: some interesting, some not so much, some funny, some bitchy, some embarrassing, some happy, some sour, some drunk. She talks to everyone and isn't afraid to share that she's having a bad day or just burned the dinner and is feeding her kids peanut butter from the jar. She gets involved and engages in conversation.

That's my take on it - I'm sure there are many other types out there, that I haven't touched on.

But don't listen to me, because I just looked at some of my recent tweets, and it seems I'm another type: Completely Random Rachel.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

To Do: Make More To-Do-lists.

There's something therapeutic about making a list. I write out all the small, nagging things on my mind and instantly I'm transported to a place of harmony, where everything in my life is organized and in-control. I write it all down in one neat, legible column of black ink and I have a foreseeable way of clearing it all off my plate, forever. Freedom is coming.

The problem is, I create too many bloody lists.

I write one list on the magnetic notepad on the fridge, I make another on a virtual post-it note on my computer desktop, I scribble another in a page of my weekly planner, another on a white board I bought specifically for VERY IMPORTANT lists, and one on a random scrap of paper that will probably be lost under the sofa within a few hours.

Oh, and one more list: the mental list that I construct in my head at around midnight when I'm supposed to be asleep and which, of course, is entirely pointless and by the morning has dissolved into forgettable crumbs mixed with fragments of dreams that won't ever be retrieved or pieced together again.

Why do I insist on doing that? 

All these lists - the scraps of paper, the act of writing them out by hand - they make me feel organized. And for someone like me - huge procrastinator and organizationally-challenged - lists are important. They make me feel better.

But - and it's a gigantic but (no butt jokes please) (because I have a small butt) (hahaha) (you see, I'm distracted again), somehow, the things listed on my lists, don't seem to get done...

For instance, for the past two weeks, there's been one common task written on all of my different lists: to renew a membership with a professional association (which I need, in order to practice my job). I have all the information I need and I know what to do and yet, somehow, I haven't gotten around to it. The most likely outcome is that I'll leave it until two days before the final deadline, and then stomp around the house complaining that some unknown entity keeps mysteriously stealing my stuff.

What the hell, house fairies?

So, to conclude, I am superb at making to-do lists, and completely crap at carrying out the things on the list. Which? Is a problem.

And so, I made a list of things I need to do, to be better at making lists. Because that is not at all insane.
  • Stick to ONE master list. 
  • Destroy all other lists. 
  • Stop using paper on which list is written as coaster / cloth for wiping up spills / paper airplane.
  • Set time limit in which to complete items on list.
  • Give myself a reward for completing items on to-do list on time. (I think this one is definitely going to help)

How about you readers? How do you get around to everything on your to-do list?
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Screaming.

You know what I was thinking this afternoon? I was thinking about how much I love April. The smell of Spring; the departure of Ugg boots and the arrival of citrus-coloured flip flops; the way the landscape suddenly emerges green and hints of colour begin popping up throughout gardens everywhere; the sound of birds singing their sweet song outside my window early in the morning, reminding me that summer is on its way.

And I was thinking, you really should come over one day soon for a barbecue. Bring the family. I'll throw some steaks on the grill and we'll crack open a few beers.

It really is a wonderful time of year.

Here, have a seat. If you lean back a bit you might be able to smell the peonies.

Don't let those two feet of snow bother you.

The kids will have a blast. See, over there - there's a tricycle. You can sort of see it poking out from beneath about twenty centimeters of snow.


Oh, that's the path outside our house, we dug it out earlier this morning. It only took an hour.

Wait. What's that sound?

It's coming from the back alley, behind the garage. It's a car, revving. It's stuck in the snow. The woman in the car is thrusting the gear stick back and forth as though she's going to be able to maneuver her way out of there. But there's no way. Because the tires - they just spin around and around in useless motion.

Now she's getting out of her car. She's going to put some gravel behind the wheels - that would be the sensible thing to do. Oh, no, wait, she's kicking the car now. Still .... kicking it. And, now, yup, yelling at the car. Something about ... "goddamn April still dammit swearword snowing swearword enough swearword".

Perhaps we should do the barbecue another weekend.

How does August look?
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