Sunday, November 23, 2014

For the hair styling impaired: as close to idiot-proof as it can get

*Disclosure: I received a free sample of the Kiss InstaWave Curling Iron in exchange for my honest review: all thoughts, ideas, and pictures are my own.

I'm one of those hair style impaired people. My usual style is a pony tail or messy bun because they're just about the only hairstyles I can manage to do without hurting myself. I am, however, related to the hair queen who manages to actually style her hair on a daily basis. I don't know whether this fact should make me proud of my baby sis or annoyed that I didn't inherit that gene and she did. Either way, she was psyched to help me with this review and I was hoping just to escape with all my hair intact since my experience with curling irons consists of multiple burns, smoking hair (and not in a good way), and that horrible yanking that you have to do when you manage to tangle a huge chunk of hair all over the place and you're pretty sure you're about to burn it off. Yeah, I'm that person. 

According to the product description "The revolutionary KISS InstaWave is a fully automatic tangle-free curler that instantly creates beautiful, long-lasting curls with ease (No Need to be a Pro)." Good thing, since I'm clearly not a pro.

Abby came over last Saturday, and we decided to break this bad boy out of it's package. Please note that she did her hair, to come to my house to do her hair... I'm not even sure I showered that morning. Are we really related? We plugged it in... and it made a weird noise. Like a high-pitched buzzing noise. Weird, but Kiss says it's the circuit that drives the motor and isn't a safety issue. Good to know, still kinda weird. 

We tested it out on my hair first, since, you know it can't look much worse. There was a final check of directions. There are two heat settings, with the curler heating up to 420 degrees. We did it on the higher temperature, but I honestly don't know the difference between the two settings.

A few seconds of panic, and then Abby went to it. She, of course, had no issue with it and was able to curl my hair with ease.

And check out that belly- seriously
And then I tried it myself. The first couple of times I got it all tangled up, but once I got the hang of it, it was really simple to use. How the wand vertically next to your head, put a strand of the hair on the curling rod, hit the left or right Curl Dial direction and the wand automatically winds the hair into place. Even if you mess it up, it can get the hair back in place for you to create effortless curls. Hold it for 5-10 seconds, the longer you hold it, the tighter the curls.Then you just pull the wand down vertically and, done! 

The final results.
 After I did it on my own hair, Abby got brave and let me curl her hair too. Not going to lie, I did a pretty awesome job! The curls lasted all day, and I've even used it on my own a couple of times before work this week. While I'm still getting the hang of it, I actually really like it! The Kiss Instawave retails for $59.99 and can be found at Target, Ulta, and I'm not a hundred percent sure I'd spend almost $60 for a curling iron, just because I don't usually style my hair much, but the ease of this actually makes it worthwhile. If I were someone who regularly did my hair, I'd probably have an easier time spending the money on it. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

25 Weeks pregnant with Boo #2

I keep meaning to do a side-by-side comparison of pix from this time compared to last it will probably happen when this kid is 2. 

  • I've already explained the epic fail that was this week- all of which just lead to more exhaustion than I was already experiencing. Needless to say I feel like a zombie, but the second I lay down in bed at night, I can't sleep. It's a great combination.
  • Heartburn has been rearing it's fiery head on a daily basis now. It's worst around dinner time and when I'm trying to fall asleep, Tums are my new after-dinner snack.
  • Speaking of snacks, I want snacks all the time, but I don't really want meals... little bits of food throughout the day just make me feel better, but is sometimes hard to manage. 
  • 99.9% positive we have a name for this little bugger. While I've been calling him Teddy since I was about 6 weeks pregnant, he now has an official name... first AND middle... but we're not spilling yet :) Mostly because we got too many comments and suggestions about Fynn's name when we made that public.
  • This week little Boo is the size of a cauliflower this week, measuring at 13.6-14.8 inches long and 1.5-2.5 pounds of baby goodness. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The House Deal

I've mentioned here and there things about moving and selling our house, but I never really wrote about how this has all gone down.

Well, here it is:

Since, well, as long as I've known Drew (so 13+ years) he's been all about finding deals. I lovingly refer to him as Peddler Drew since he's the only person I know who can buy trucks, drive them for 2-3 years, and then sell them for more than he paid for them... yeah, I haven't figured that one out either.

Our house was a prime example of Peddler Drew at work. We bought our first house at auction 5 years ago for a lot less than it was worth. Since then, Drew's been keeping his eye on real estate in the area, especially more auction deals.

Which brings us to this July. In July he found this house. We went to see it, and I fell in love. The rest of the summer was spent in putting in offers, getting turned down, and eventually deciding it just wasn't going to happen.

Then, the first week of school, Drew texted me in the middle of the day to tell me the bank had accepted her offer. I actually laughed because I didn't think it was really true. Then there were more issues because it was a bank-owned property which comes with its own set of headaches, but Drew prevailed again and we finally closed on the new house two weeks ago.

With everything going on, we didn't put our house on the market yet. So the day after we closed, we put our house up. Six days later it had sold (at asking price) which was music to my ears. Have you ever tried to keep a house show-clean... with a two year old? No joke, we would finish cleaning the entire house, turn around, and there'd be a trail of food/milk/randomness all over the floor. Being told we didn't have to do that anymore was amazing... not to mention the whole sold deal.

Right now we're under contract, with the close in the beginning of December. Our plan is to move during Thanksgiving week since our family will all be here and those lucky guys have all been volunteered to help us move. If all goes according to plan, we should be good and settled before Boo # 2 makes his grand appearance! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

24 Weeks Pregnant With Boo # 2

Unlike last week, week 24 was rather busy.

  • This week we closed on our new house, listed our old house, and had multiple showings and an open house lined up. What does this have to do with my pregnancy, you ask? Great question. EVERYTHING. Constant cleaning, stress, and packing has lead to major exhaustion and back pain. All those things that are tough under normal circumstances are exponentially worse when growing a human being.
  • Fynn is still super upset that I can't pick her up anymore. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but I end up picking her up more than I should (since I shouldn't at all...)
  • Somehow I just ignored the scale the last few weeks and came to the startling discovery this week that I've gained 18 pounds... a very sobering number in my opinion. While I'm glad to have "caught up" to the expected weight gain at this point, the fact that I did it so quickly freaks me out because I REALLY don't want to be (more of) a blimp. There's still 4 months to go, and they're the 4 months of rapid weight gain as it is.
My belly-pix photobomber
  • This week Baby Boo is size of a cantaloupe: 10.5-11.8 inches long and 12.7-20.8 ounces... somehow those numbers are exactly the same as last week when Boo was the size of a grapefruit... not quite sure how that works.
  • Fynn seems to finally get that the baby is a boy. She says it's a boy when I ask and she'll rub my belly now and say "he loves me". He gave her a good couple of kicks in return the other day. When I explained to her that we won't be naming him Milk, she responded that his name is Mickey Mouse... 0 for 2 on the Name Game Fynn, but kudos on the attempt. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The universe will find a way to kick you in the butt

Last week was a crazy week of ups and downs and proves to me that the universe likes to keep a balance, thus my week:

Monday: Almost passed out at my glucose tolerance test will giving a blood sample and ended up (just barely) getting enough blood for the test. I was told I had to come back later in the week to give blood for an additional test. Universe: 1, Amanda: 0

Tuesday: Our house sold, at asking price, just 6 days after putting it on the market. Universe: 1, Amanda: 1

Wednesday: Was observed by my superintendent, who then went to my principal to sign my praises. Met with my assistant principal about an observation he did several weeks ago, got further praise and assurance of my awesomeness. Universe: 1, Amanda: 3

See the current imbalance? The universe was well aware.

Thursday: On the way to work, got rearended by a creeper at a stoplight. Sketchy guy got out of his car and said "I don't even know how that happened". Umm... dude, you were too busy playing with your cigarette to realize your foot fell off the break. As I'm looking over the back of my car, he goes "Aw, man... is my car all right?" My reply?: "I really don't care, you hit me." And then I left because my car was fine and he was giving me the creeps. I wrote down his license plate number just in case, but there's not a scratch on my car (thankfully). Universe: 2, Amanda: 3

The universe was not done with me on Thursday

Thursday afternoon I went back to the doctor's office to take care of the other blood work I needed done. Was assured by multiple nurses in the office that the lead phlebotomist would have me out of there in no time, because she's amazing... clearly the universe was not having it. She couldn't use the "good" veins in my left arm because I had a ton of bruising from Monday's fiasco, so she made an attempt at the right... and hit a nerve. Cue sharp, shooting, fire down my arm pain. I think I screamed, but she said it would be okay and that she just hit a nerve. You think? I started to feel light-headed, so she stopped, gave me some juice, and assured me that we'd "just try it again".

So I started crying. Because I'm a baby. Oh yea, and it felt like my arm was on fire. But, I pulled on my big girl panties, stuck my arm out again, and told her to just do it. Thank all that is holy (and the universe for realizing I had enough at that point) she got the blood she needed. And I got a big old bruise, sharp shooting pain for about 3 hours after and an on-again, off-again numbness in my forearm for the entire night.

Universe, you win. Thursday earned you big with the final score being Universe: 10 million, Amanda: 3

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Spreading the cost on kids' toys

Today's post is brought to you by ICM Enterprises (uk) LTD Team

When it comes to spreading the cost on kids toys it is good to hear that it actually is a lot easier than you think. You see, here in the UK there are so many companies out there that offer alternative finance agreements that means your kids can get what they want without you having to fork out too much money at the one time. Sound intriguing? Well, it should be.

You see, we are fortunate in that there are two main ways in which you can get those toys. First, you have the age old way of shopping via a catalogue with the likes of Littlewoods leading the way. Here, you can clearly see in the listing how much a certain toy is going to cost you over a certain number of months and at least you can then budget accordingly.
There is of course an interest fee applied, but there is always more than enough information in the catalogue to allow you to work out the total costs. Please do be aware that the interest rate will be higher than your average credit card, but it will still be manageable. Payment options are also very flexible as well, so you can pay it off earlier if you can afford to do so and there will be no penalty to pay either. For more information on the best UK catalogues visit

However, the one thing that you need to be aware of is that you will have a credit limit when shopping with a catalogue, but you will often start off with a minimum of £100. If in any doubt, then their customer service is often very good and a quick call is all that will be required.

For people that prefer to shop in person, then there are still a number of options available to you. One option is to go to a store such as Brighthouse. They offer products in much the same way as a catalogue, but you deal with them in person.
Basically, you get a credit limit, choose the toys, and you will then pay a set amount each month via direct debit until everything is cleared. How much credit you get depends on your credit history and present financial circumstances, but most people are accepted and you can then purchase those toys in a more manageable way.

Finally, you also have one other method and that is via specific store cards such as those you will see at Argos. What happens here is that you can choose from different payment options over a number of months when you effectively borrow a certain amount of money.
You do so through their company and, just as with the catalogues, you can pay a small amount each month although interest is obviously included. Rates are mainly higher than most credit cards, but it is still an effective way of getting those toys without breaking the bank.

As you can see it is very easy to spread the cost of buying toys for your kids if you just know where to look. From the point of view of a parent it is certainly well worth it when you see the look on their face, so at least give some thought to these options and see how kinder they are to your finances.

October Reads

Sadly I only read 4 books in October, though two of them were quite long. Diana Gabaldon is a great storyteller, but she isn't exactly concise in her writing... I think that's why I love her books though! 

5. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
The second in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber was just as thrilling, romantic, and captivating as the first. I had the hardest time putting it down, and ended up reading every spare second that I had (and even putting off things I needed to do just because I really wanted to keep reading). I was a little confused in the beginning because the time period shifts and I couldn’t figure out what had happened (I mean I could… but it didn’t make sense with how Outlander ended. In the end though it all makes perfect sense.) I love the deepening of Claire and Jaime’s relationship in this book as well as the further development of historical events. While I know not all the events in the book are true to history, there’s enough historical fact in it to make me feel like I have a better understanding of the time period. Prior to this, my only historical understandings of the 1700’s involved the American revolution- so clearly I had a lot to learn.

6. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyle
I’ve seen the movie before, but for some reason I still decided to read this even though I knew the depressing ending. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this book. It’s depressing and hard to digest, but so well written and historically significant that I can’t help but see the beauty of it as well. The main character, Bruno, is just so young and na├»ve that at points I wanted to shake him for being so clueless, but at the same time I wanted him to keep that childish innocence that protects him from the horrors of his father’s involvement in the Holocaust. The use of a child’s perspective for this book was both a risky move, but also a significant one. The author wrote a note in the end about how it was the only way to write authentically about the time period since he was not a part of it.

7. Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon
While I was waiting for my turn with the 3rd Outlander book, Voyager, I stumbled upon a mini-series also written by Gabaldon about one of the minor characters that appears in Voyager. Since I hadn’t read the book yet, I really had no idea who Lord John was, but I decided to read anyway. Clearly I should have probably waited until after reading Voyager. While it’s explained on Gabaldon’s website as being able to stand alone, there are several parts of this book where it was clear I was missing something in not knowing Lord John’s background. It was an interesting enough book, but didn’t make total sense to me until after I read Voyager. That said, there are several other of these shorter books available that I plan to read along with the rest of the Outlander books.

8. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

This is the third book in the Outlander series and very different from the first two. **Spoiler Alert** At the end of Dragonfly in Amber, Claire ventured back through the rock circle and back to the 1960’s. In the beginning of the book it has been 20 years since Claire left Jamie. She begins the search to find out when and where Jamie passed away. She then has to decide whether or not she should go back through the rocks and try to find Jaime again, 20 years after she left him right before the battle of Culloden. At first I didn’t love this book. It was so sad and lonely seeing where Claire and Jamie were during the 20 years they had spent apart. The second half of the book was more interesting, though things got really complicated and in some part confusing. Without the impending battles that were prevalent in the first two books, the story took a very different turn and that affects the writing style and the focus. I enjoyed it a great deal, and had trouble putting it down for the second half, but I wasn’t as enthralled by this as I was with the first two. That said, I have the 4th book waiting for me at the public library to read! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

23 Weeks pregnant with Boo # 2

Late again... I mean in posting, but well... it works two ways here I guess.

  • Week 23 was pretty uneventful. I went the chiropractor for my monthly adjustment and found out that my alignment was off way more than it's ever been... which explains why I felt so uncomfortable! Unfortunately only two days after my adjustment I felt awful again
  • The heartburn has begun! Every time I eat it's like food hits baby and baby kicks stomach acid up into my throat... to graphic of a description for you? Try living it!
  • Sleep also stinks. I've got my nest going with 9 pillows including a body pillow and a boppy, but I'm still up at least ten times a night to readjust and get comfortable. 
  • This week baby is the size of a grapefruit, 10.5-11.8 inches long and 12.7-20.8 ounces. 
  • Names are starting to come together. Drew and I have one name that we kinda, sorta, maybe agree on, but we're not sure if it's "the one". We're playing with it and some other for the next couple of weeks to see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

That time I almost passed out at the doctor's office

Yesterday I went in for my 24 week glucose tolerance test. I was dreading it as it was because I hate needles more than I can ever adequetly express. Need proof? My entire reason for going with an all-natural childbirth with Fynn (and planning on doing the same with Boo #2) is to avoid needles. No lie. I'd rather deal with feeling every second of expelling a human being from my body rather than a needle. That's how intense my hatred of needles is.

I digress. This post totally isn't about my fear of needles. Well, it is, but it isn't. (How's that for clarity?)

Anywho. I headed in around 4 yesterday, fresh from a scintillating staff meeting about math fact fluency and downs my 8 ounces of glucola- or as I refer to it, I drank the Kool-aid. I then went in, had a great appointment with the nurse practitioner who assured me that I'm absolutely perfect (duh) and then had 40 minutes to spare before they could do the blood draw. I used the time well by working on my grad school homework and was feeling pretty damn good about myself. I wasn't even that nervous about the blood draw.

The phlebotomist who usually does my blood work had already left for the day, but the woman who was still there was super nice and we chatted about our kids... and then it all hit the fan. She was having trouble finding a vein, which isn't unusual for me (and probably exacerbates my fear- I'm a hard stick). She finally got one, but couldn't get any blood out. And then things got a little fuzzy. I felt the stereotypical tunnel vision, my ears felt like they had cotton balls in them, the room got really hot, and I felt like the whole office was spinning around me. I knew the phlebotomist and one of the lab techs were talking to me, but I couldn't figure out what on earth they were saying. One of them put my feet up on a chair while the other put a cold compress on my neck and gave me some water. After a few minutes (I think) things started to come into focus. I still felt woozy and really, really shaky. 

I agreed to try the draw again because I really didn't want to have to do the whole thing again. Unfortunately, they still had a hard time getting the blood. Finally they got enough for my glucose test, but not enough for the CBC they wanted to do to check for anemia... so now I have to go back later this week to get more blood taken.

I'm not sure if it was the Kool-aid or the blood draw that caused the near-fainting, but as I'm writing this (three hours later) I still feel like crap. When I did the glucose test when I was pregnant with Fynn I felt awful afterwards, but nothing like this... I'm really, REALLY hoping that this isn't a sign I'm about to fail the test. Gestational diabetes does not sound like fun, and not something else I want to have to worry about for the next 16 weeks.

Monday, November 3, 2014

30 LBS

Fynn officially weighs 30 pounds... which means I can't lift her until March. Easier said than done.

Let me backtrack a second. Due to my back and hip issues, I was put on a strict 30 pound weight limit at my first OB appointment. Last time they advised it, but this time they were adamant that I not life anything over 30 pounds. Back in July that sounded like no big deal, Fynn was about 27 pounds, so I figured by the time she weighed too much I wouldn't have the energy to lift her up anyway.

That time came this weekend. I'm trying, really I am, but do you know how hard it is not to carry a 2-year old? Let's put aside the emotional piece for a second, and just look at practice. What do I do when she's flipping out and I need to move her? Or when she she needs to get in an out of her crib? Or she refuses to walk someplace? Yeah, there are going to be plenty of times when I have to scoop her up.

Then there's the emotional pull. She's still my baby. I still love cradling her in my arms. Or snuggling close. Or just playing games where I swing her around. Feeling like I can't do that, even though it's for my own good, is really hard. The other night she was reaching for me as we were putting her to bed, and all I wanted to do was take her into my arms and snuggle... instead I settled for hugs and kisses while Drew held her- it was not the same thing. 

I've got 17 weeks left... I'm going to do my best, but I know I won't make it a full 17 weeks without lifting her up.
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