Mommy blogs

Gear & Gadgets for Moms with Little Ones

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As a mom of toddlers, I am often around other moms of small children and two common topics that come up over time are:

(1)  “How do I save time?”

(2)  “What’s an easy way to do this?”

Let’s face it–when you have kids, there is only so much time you can save and nothing is easy about being a mom :).  With that said, it is all the more important to have efficient gear and gadgets (please note that I am only specifying brand names when necessary):

(1)  Primo Bath Tub–This bathtub can be used from Day 1 and my 2 and 3-year-olds still use it.  It’s safer than using your own bathtub/sink and other baby tubs, saves water, and makes bath time a cinch (with this tub, bath time for each kid is only 5 minutes!).

(2)  Electric Pressure Cooker–Three words: One button cooking.  Throw everything in a pot, push a button, and walk away.  I cannot imagine my life without mine.

(3)  Stand Mixer–Many people have hand mixers (as do I) but the idea is that the less you have to do by hand, the better.  Also, mommy deserves a treat once in a while (try making a chiffon cake with a hand mixer–possible but would take forever!).

(4)  Blender–If you’re lazy, busy, or have kids who won’t eat their veggies (or all of the above), then a blender can help you and your family have a healthier diet.  Remember, there’s a difference between blending and juicing (both have benefits).

(5)  Contours Options Tandem Stroller–I have used this stroller just about every day since our kids were born and I would say that this is probably the best mommy gear we have in our home.  The reason is because the seats can recline 180 degrees, are adjustable, and removable/interchangeable.  The space under the seats has ample storage for shopping and day trips.  In addition, there is a shopping basket attachment that you can purchase.  (Before we had our second child, we would replace the second stroller seat with the shopping basket attachment–pure genius; I would get wide-eyed, envious looks from other moms of babies every time I used our stroller.)

(6)   TravelJohn Unisex Travel Disposable Urinals–This product is a godsend.  Anyone (men, women, boys, girls, adults, toddlers, etc.) can use it.  Plus, it’s odor and leak resistant (the internal non-toxic gel instantly absorbs urine and transforms all contents into a gel).  Super portable and disposable.  Use it anytime and anywhere.  Need I say more?

Chanel Le Blanc Exfoliating Pre-Lotion

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You know the feeling of anticipation and excitement when you’re going on a first date with someone you’ve had a crush on for a while?  I get this feeling every time I try a much-raved about skincare product.  In the US, Chanel is known for its clothes, bags, and makeup.  But, in Asia, the company holds its own in the skincare arena.

If you’re over the age of 35, you know that exfoliation is a key part of maintaining a healthy complexion.  Most of us exfoliate in the shower or at the sink, moisturize, and call it a day.  Enter the Le Blanc Pre-Lotion Exfoliation Douce.  This continues the exfoliation process all day or all night (direction says to apply once per day) and is life-changing.  It has officially been added to my holy grail beauty lineup.  Unfortunately, it’s currently only sold in Asia so for those who live elsewhere, lobby your Chanel counters and get it stocked there!  (It would also be nice for me to be able to buy it in the States once we move back!)

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.  Consistency is very watery but gel-like (I know that sounds like an oxymoron but bear with me)–think of an extremely fine/thin and runny gel-liquid.  Because it’s a “pre-lotion”, you’re supposed to apply this right before your toner–it’s the toner for your toner.  But since my skin is very sensitive and temperamental, I use it as a toner-alternative at night.  I use two liberal applications–first one with a wiping motion and the second one with a patting motion.  The first night impressed me.  Keep in mind that my skin is awful–I have lines, freckles, AND acne (what kind of sick joke is this, right?).  And although the product didn’t lighten my freckles and sun spots after the first night (nor did I expect it to), it did significantly soften my skin and give me a nice glow.  Not earth-shattering but I’ll take it.  After the second night, my face felt like a baby’s butt AND it glowed.  Getting one product to soften my bumpy skin is no easy task and this pre-lotion performs.  FYI, I also use the Le Blanc Healthy Light Creator Serum (not at the same time but during the day when I’m at home; I use the serum with a regular toner, which changes depending on my mood as there are several in my medicine cabinet).  So, there you have it–in a nutshell, I’m very happy with this product and every day my skin gets better from using it!

Flu Season Tips

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We are in the middle of flu season and since I just read an article that states that 1 in 10 American deaths have been caused by the flu this season, I thought I’d share some tips that have been helpful for our family.  Although nothing is a cure-all, I believe these things, at the very least, help to minimize cold/flu symptoms when we do fall under the weather.  (Disclaimer:  Since I am not a medical professional, you should only try these ideas if they are compatible with your doctor’s recommendations.)

(1)  Yogurt–Since giving my kids yogurt on a daily basis, I have noticed a significant change in the number of times they get colds/flus.  Yogurt helps to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, which is where many (if not most) illnesses start to form in your body. Foods don’t make you indestructible but they are a good preventative measure against illness and help strengthen your immune system.  For those who can’t get your kids to eat yogurt, look for drinkable options at the grocery store and mix them into your kids’ milk with breakfast.

(2)  Soup–Same reason as (1).  Chicken soup really does work.  Wonderful alternatives are miso soup and bone broth.

(3)  Essential Oils–My favorite oils during flu season are eucalyptus and peppermint.  In addition to deterring bugs/mosquitoes during the spring/summer, these oils also have anti-viral/bacterial properties and make great bathroom air fresheners, aromatherapy, vapor rubs, etc.  The oils also have a calming effect.

(4)  Air CirculationStagnant air leads to illnesses spreading at rapid rates so make sure your home is well-ventilated and there is ample air circulation.  For us, we always keep our ceiling fans and air purifiers on high.  And, when the weather and air quality are nice outside, we’ll also open our windows.

(5)  Don’t Touch Your Face–This has always been hard for me to do but I find that it really does make a difference.  Your eyes, nose, and mouth are prime entry points for viruses and bacteria.  Parents, remind your kids about this, too!

(6)  Avoid Crowds in Tight Spaces–Places where many people are gathered in tight areas should be avoided during flu season for obvious reasons.  Such places include subways, buses, planes, trains, etc.

(7)  Hot baths and Showers–Take a hot bath and/or shower at night before bedtime.  Not only is it relaxing, but it also washes away all the dirt, grime, allergens, pollutants, cold/flu viruses/bacteria that are on your person (everything that settles on your hair and skin as you’re out and about during the day).

(8)  Stay Home–We don’t live in a bubble but because we have small children, I try to be mindful of when and where we take them during flu season.  Do we really want to go to a birthday party where half the kids have snotty noses and are coughing every two minutes?  No, thanks (our kids have their entire lives to socialize)!

(9)  Wash Clothes and Linens in Hot Water and Dry in High Heat–This is a big one.  Many of us don’t realize how dirty our clothes, towels, and bed linens are, especially during flu season.  In college, I discovered that not everyone uses a fresh/clean towel with each bath/shower and that some people reuse their towels (mind blown).  No offense to those of you who reuse your towels but during flu season, changing towels after each use is a must.  In our home, we also change our bed linens every week.  Wash everything in hot water (rinse cold; this, of course, does not apply to delicate items). It doesn’t matter how much detergent you use (a little goes a long way) but the water must be HOT.  After washing, dry everything in high heat.  Studies show that drying your items in high heat will help rid your clothes of lingering viruses and bacteria.

(10)  WASH YOUR HANDS–And oldie but goodie rule of thumb.  According to the CDC, 80% of diseases are spread by hands 😨.  If you dislike dry hands from washing, stock up on lotions, creams, and oils (take your pick).  Parents, repeat this mantra to your kids over and over.  It’s far better than getting yourself or others sick!

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Cleansing Foam

This is now officially my holy grail cleanser.  My skin is oily (T-zone) and combination and I’m prone to freckles and blackheads.  Those with acne-prone skin know how difficult it can be to find a cleanser that cleans, brightens, and doesn’t overdry.  Here are my observations:

(1) Low pH–A low pH cleanser is crucial to keeping bacteria at bay and is especially important for those with acne-prone skin.  Many cleansers (especially those for oily skin) have too high of a pH (the feeling of squeaky clean skin may be enticing but you pay for it afterwards because the skin then overproduces oil to compensate for the amount washed away in the cleansing process).  

(2) Foam–Foaming cleansers are generally prescribed for oil and combination skin and they’re abundant in the marketplace.  The problem with most low pH cleansers on the market is they don’t foam.  And the ones that do foam are often high pH formulas.  However, a cleanser that has both low pH and foaming action is a rarity and considered a unicorn in the skincare world.  

(3) Ginseng–As with most products in Sulwhasoo’s line, this cleanser has a medicinal scent due to its Chinese herb ingredient list with ginseng being the start ingredient.  Ginseng can brighten and even out skin tone, among other things.  

When I use this in the shower at night, I leave it on my face for at least five minutes before washing it off.  Although my freckles remain the same, the rest of my face is visually brighter.  The product cleanses thoroughly without drying out my skin and is suitable for most skin types.  

The last time I checked (about three months ago), this cleanser was unavailable in the US via department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman’s, and Saks (even though the stores all carry the Sulwhasoo line).  Amazon and eBay sell it but a good rule of thumb is to avoid such sites for skincare due to numerous incidents of counterfeit and expired products.  For those in the US who wish to purchase this product, my advise would be to lobby the Sulwhasoo counter at your local department store, make a phone call to a major Korean department store and attempt to order it and have it shipped to you, or stock up (or get a friend to) on your next visit to Asia (as far as I know, this cleanser is widely available at all Sulwhasoo counters in department stores across Asia).  

Innisfree Blueberry Sun Cream

Hands down, this is the most lightweight sunscreen I have ever used.  Apply liberally before going out–the result is soft, fragrance-free, protected skin with no white cast.  Feels like water going on and washes off easily with a normal cleanser.  Some sunscreens double as makeup primers–this is not one of them.  This is perfect for no makeup days (which is about every day for me) and if you do wear makeup over this, give it ample time to dry beforehand.  

Innisfree (as well as Nature Republic) is South Korea’s version of Origins.  The company prides itself as being a proponent of skincare and makeup made with natural plant-based ingredients.  

SK-II Cotton Pads

You can’t buy these (as they come with your purchase of the large-sized SK-II Treatment Essence at the brand’s counters in Seoul) but these are the best facial cotton pads on the market.  Soft, lightweight, and anti-pilling–I never thought I’d rave about cotton pads.  In addition, unlike using cotton balls, there is very little waste of product.  And, rather than using them with quick swipes (as you would with cotton balls), you “pad across” your face using the pads, which can help prep your skin for the next product (i.e, serum, moisturizer, etc.).  Don’t use SK-II products?  Get a friend who does and offer to pay for the pads–they’re worth it!

Mommy Time Savers

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Happy and Healthy New Year!  As a new mommy of two, I’ve learned quite a lot this past year and my favorite thing to ask myself has been, “How will this save me time (and energy)?”  So, in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, here are my top mommy time savers:

(1)  Electric Pressure Cooker–This thing is amazing and I don’t know what I would ever do without it.  I use it primarily for meats, stews, and soups.  A dish that would ordinarily take at least a couple hours to make with my standing at the stove (what mother has time for that?) now takes an hour with my not even being in the kitchen.  I just toss everything into the pot, push a button, and go about my day.

(2)  Rice Cooker–I adore my rice cooker and use it just about every day.  Many people don’t realize that you can do quite a lot with a good rice cooker.  Not only do I use it to make rice, I also use it to steam vegetables (as a matter of fact, since I use it primarily to cook our veggies, I often call it “the steamer”).  And, like the electric pressure cooker, you set the timer and you’re free as a bird.

(3)  Grocery Delivery Service–Depending on where you live, delivery fees can range from reasonable to pricey.  It all comes down to how much your time is worth.  Being parents of a 2-year-old and 6-month-old, Derrick and I rely heavily on this service.  Sure, we’ll occasionally do the shop ourselves (if we forget to add on a few items to our weekly delivery) but we have the same reaction after every trip:  “Geez, that took a whole hour?” (if one of us goes to the store) or “We are NOT going to forget to put this on the list next week!” (if the entire family goes–and, yes, it takes longer for us to get the kids ready to go out than the time we spend at the grocery store)

(4)  Product Subscriptions–If you use any skincare products, I highly recommend this.  Many online stores offer a subscription service where they’ll send your products to you at regular intervals.  This not only saves you time but helps you to avoid the annoying situation of being in the shower and realizing all of a sudden that you’re out of your favorite facial scrub.

(5)  USPS Package Pickup–Because we do most of our non-grocery-related shopping online, we also make quite a few returns via mail.  If you’re like us, here’s a tip:  you’re eligible for free USPS pickup service if you’re mailing at least one Priority Mail package.  Just schedule your pickup online at www.usps.com.

(6)  Multiple Stations–Our home has two levels and when we brought our baby girl home, we decided that we needed at least one diaper changing station on each level to save us the hassle of running up and down the stairs with every diaper change (and if you’re parents of two or multiples under the age of 2, you understand the value of this).  So, we converted one of our loveseats into a changing station complete with a diaper pad, a month’s supply of diapers/wipes/baby powder, and a diaper pail.  To protect the loveseat, we draped it with flat bed sheet (but you can also use a sofa slip cover).  The key takeaway here is to have at least a couple “stations” for something you do often during the course of the day easily accessible to you (because minutes add up to hours and hours add up to days!).

(7)  One Size Ahead–If you have small children, you know that shopping ahead can save you the aggravation of impulse buying and/or having your child(ren) go without something for a certain period of time (and when you have kids, two days without gloves in the winter can seem like an eternity!).  This is why I always try to buy at least one size ahead for my children.  And it’s a great system.

(8)  Cook in Bulk and Freeze–This is quite common and self-explanatory.

(9)  No Holiday Cards–Before we had kids, I was the stationery queen.  Cards for everyone and for every occasion.  No more.  Other than handwritten thank-you and sympathy notes, we now use e-mail and social media to send birthday/congratulatory/holiday greetings via e-cards.

Hope you’ve found these tips to be useful–please feel free to share this post to anyone and everyone who would find it helpful!