Why do I have so much self-esteem? I work at it.

Self esteem. Pass it on.

Clearly, I would not be friends with people who are not awesome, so I am mystified by one friend's low self-esteem. I told her that, if I could, I would gladly give her some of my self-esteem because sometimes I feel like I have too much. We were chatting online with a few of our other girlfriends at the time, and one asked why is it that I have so much self-esteem when they have so little. I didn't always.

Why do I have so much self-esteem? Innate narcissism is the most likely answer. Thinking that I am better than most people I meet can't be hurting either.

Kidding! Mostly.

It's much easier on yourself if you are kind to yourself and think nice things about yourself. You can stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. There's a psychological technique called thought-stopping that is rather simple to master. If you Google it, you'll see that it doesn't work for panic disorders or chronic worry, but it absolutely works for replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Have a couple of positive phrases about yourself worked out in advance. Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, say, "STOP!" in your mind, then think the positive thought. It is that easy.

I am not the prettiest, or the slimmest, or the smartest, or the funniest, or the anything-est, but I am great. I like who I am. I like most things about myself, and I am actively trying to change the things I don't like. That is the best that I can do, so there is no need for me to be the one to berate myself for anything. I am a pathological overachiever. This makes me come down very hard on myself, but it is almost always about how much I can achieve, not who I am.

Rejection is difficult for anyone, myself included. It stings, but I shake it off with no damage to my self-esteem. When I am rejected (for a job or a potential client, by a man...), I chalk it up to fit. I don't take it personally, at least not for too long. I like who I am, and I can't be anything else other than that, so if I am rejected for something about who I am, it's fine. It means I was not a good fit, and that situation would not have ended well.

It does not mean I was not smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, funny enough...

I am more than enough. I am awesome.

Call for Opinions: Do you give a hair stylist a second chance?

For the past couple years, I have been going to Anna Vidito at Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills for my haircuts. She is awesome. I've loved every haircut I've had from her. The problem is that the salon is in Beverly Hills and I am not. It takes half a Saturday and costs me $90, plus tip, for a haircut.

I didn't get my hair cut for a long time because I was growing it out. Then, I decided to try someone closer. I followed a recommendation from a friend and ended up with a haircut that was little better than a Supercuts trim. A month later, I still needed a haircut, so I followed a recommendation from another friend. I ended up with shelf hair. See that shelf between my chin and my shoulders? I don't like it. I need shorter layers.


After that, I was fed up with haircuts and I let my hair go a little wild. One too many days of wearing the oh so attractive headband/ponytail combo and I decided I would get another haircut, but I wanted it THAT DAY.


Unfortunately, Anna wasn't in that day, so I followed yet another recommendation from a friend. This one actually owned the salon where they stylist work. I explained my shelf issue to the stylist. She gave me a shorter shelf.


Now, I have an appointment on Saturday to go back to the most recent stylist so she can fix it. I am not sure I trust her to do it, but paying Anna $90 to fix it is really going to smart after paying the first stylist $65 to botch it. Why don't I listen to myself when I know better? I always say that you get what you pay for when it comes to hair cuts.

Would you go back to the most recent stylist and let her try to fix it?

I'm adding Military Advisor to my resume


On my flight from L.A. to Dallas last week, I noticed the game my seating companion was playing on his iPhone. It was Connect 4! (I still need to download that.) I mentioned it and he said it was kicking his butt and that his kids had added it to his phone. We chatted about kids and iPhone games and then our reasons for being on that particular flight. He was headed back home to Mississippi from California, where he'd been traveling for business. He was a Colonel in the Air Force. We both talked about what our jobs entailed.

When he found out I was in business and working on my MBA, he asked me questions about transitioning out of a military career into the corporate world. I gave him lots of advice about how to position his experience, what sorts of networking and research he can do over the next couple of years before he retires, what level and salary he could expect, and so much more. I literally could not shut up.

I have never been so chatty on a flight, to a perfect stranger, before. That guy knows how much money I make, how old I am, where I grew up, where I went to college, how long I have been married, how old my children are, and who knows what else I spewed out of the course of our flight. He was so easy to talk to, though. He must have felt the same way, because I know all those same facts about him.

Anyway, I hope that he does take my advice about joining LinkedIn, so that we can reconnect and I can get him linked up with a couple of retired military guys I know who are now in the corporate world.

It isn't every day that I get to advise a Colonel in the Air Force.

12 Tips for BlogHer '12


Once again, I am writing my tips for the next BlogHer conference the day I arrive home from the last BlogHer conference.

  1. FOLLOW MY ADVICE. Pieces of my own advice for BlogHer '11 that I did not follow and wish I had: (a) Don't share a bed. (b) Arrive on Wednesday, leave on Sunday, take Monday off of work. (c) Change your shoes at mealtimes to avoid fatigue. (d) Attend some (more) sessions, you jackass. So, yeah, do all of that next year.

  2. INSTALL GROUPME ON YOUR PHONE. If you don't already have the GroupMe app installed on your phone, I highly recommend it. It is a group texting app and the latest version has a ton of great new features. I use it on a daily basis to text with a group of girlfriends. I set up a second group just for my friends who were attending BlogHer '11 together. With this app, we were able to easily keep tabs on each other's whereabouts, meet up whenever possible, and change plans quickly.

  3. blogher11-train
  4. MAP THE PARTIES BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME. I recommend printing out a map and highlighting the routes to each of your offsite parties before you leave your house. Also, think about how you are going to get to each one, the time it is going to take to get there, and if you need an alternative means of transportation to get back.

  5. blogher11-leslie
  6. KNOW THYSELF. You are not going to morph into a different person the minute you arrive at the conference hotel. I know myself. I am a swag whore who likes to be tan and hang out with her friends. I brought home four bags of swag, spent tons of time with the friends I traveled with, and the friends I've made online over the past couple years, and I skipped an afternoon of sessions to hang out by the pool. I had a fantastic weekend. I got exactly what I wanted out of BlogHer.

  7. blogher11-fakelashes
  8. GET FAKE LASHES. Since the Fall of last year, I have been getting fake eyelashes from my esthetician whenever I have a conference or special event to attend. They are fricking gorgeous, only cost $35, and last 1-2 weeks, depending on how careful I am. If you want to feel like you look beautiful with the least amount of effort possible, I am telling you, fake lashes are magical.

  9. blogher11-bizcards
  10. PUT YOUR TWITTER NAME ON YOUR CARD. Seriously, I shouldn't have to tell you this.

  11. BRING MORE BUSINESS CARDS. Bring at least 100 business cards. Hand them out to every single person you meet.

  12. KEEP YOUR BUSINESS CARDS IN YOUR BADGE HOLDER. I asked nearly everyone I met if they had a card. Most said yes, then reached into their giants bags and fished around for their business cards, while I stood there, waiting patiently, card in hand, having quickly retrieved it from the badge holder conveniently strung around my neck.

  13. BRING A SPARE BATTERY FOR YOUR PHONE. I have an iPhone with an internal battery, so I can't literally bring a spare battery. I have the iGO Green charger. I got it in a swag bag at SXSWi this year and it is the most useful piece of swag I have ever received. I plug it into the wall and plug my iPhone into it, and they both get charged up. I unplug it and throw it in my bag. Later, when my iPhone is gasping its last breath. I plug my phone into the iGO Green charger, which holds enough power to get my phone back up to 75%.

  14. blogher11-backpackingdad
  15. DON'T BE INTIMIDATED BY ANYONE. Every single person attending BlogHer is just that, a person. There is no reason to be intimidated by anyone. Ever. Anywhere. You may admire a person so much you can barely express the reasons why. That person might be nicer, smarter, and prettier than you are, but she (he?) is still just a person with her own issues and insecurities. There is no reason for you to feel like you can't talk to anyone you want to talk to at this conference.

  16. blogher11-swag
  17. GO TO THE EXPO RIGHT WHEN IT CLOSES ON THE LAST DAY. I hear it is a swag free-for-all.

  18. blogher11-soda
  19. EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, AND DRINK WATER. Man, do I feel gross right now.

How to Unpack After a Trip*

  1. Open both suitcases up on the living room floor.
  2. Chip away at the contents for a couple days by only pulling out what you need right then.
  3. Realize you have no clean clothes, pull all the dirties out of the suitcase and wash them.
  4. Get fed up that the suitcases are still in the way on the living room floor.
  5. Dump out all the contents of both suitcases into one big pile.
  6. Ask your husband to put the suitcases back in the garage.
  7. Chip away at the remaining contents until everything is put away.

*Actually, I don't recommend this method. It is pissing me off.

A Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Idiots and Other Men

Valgiftguide I used to write for a friend's web magazine, Clark Schpiell Productions. This was published there on February 9, 2004. Other than a dated reference to Britney Spears, this list has withstood the test of time.

Let me start of by saying that I am intentionally being sexist with this list and it is because I think my husband may read this before Valentine's Day. Therefore, this guide is specifically aimed at men who need to give gifts to women. Women who need to give gifts to women should know what women want. All men want the same gift -- a blow-job -- so that's easy enough.

I am not even going to cover why Valentine's Day is such a commercial holiday, the true meaning of which is completely lost in modern times, buried under hearts and flowers and candy and all things pink and red. I am not going to cover it, because that's just the way it is, so suck it up.

First, you need to understand women a little bit better. Here are few key things that you need to know before contemplating a purchase.
   1. Women are liars
   2. Women are manipulative
   3. Women like presents

Don't even think that all three of those things don't apply to your woman, because they do. It is universal. Why is this important? It is important because you may have heard your woman say one of the following things:

      "You don't need to get me flowers. They just die anyway and are a waste of money."
      "I don't need anything fancy as long as we are together."
      "I don't like big diamonds. I think they are gaudy."

Lies. All lies. Women like flowers. Even the ones who say they don't like flowers turn to mush when they get that unexpected call from the receptionist telling them that they have a delivery. As for diamonds, really big diamonds are gaudy. However, since you are reading this guide, I am guessing your diamond budget is not the same as, say, Brad Pitt's. You should likely get the biggest one you can afford. More on that later.

Women are manipulative. You might not think your woman is, but that just means that she is likely very good at it. If you really still have no idea what to get her for Valentine's Day, you are probably a moron, and I am not just being mean. She has given you a dozen clues in the last week alone. Did she drag you to the mall at any point in the last month? I bet she took you to at least three stores, each containing at least one item that would make an excellent gift, which, I am sure, she pointed out to you. Retrace your steps and ask for help along the way. She may have enlisted the help of friends and family in the unlikely instance that you would think to call any of them seeking assistance. Does she have a sister, a best friend, a mother? I guarantee that one or all of them can tell you what your woman would like for Valentine's Day.

Women like presents. Oh, yes we do. If you haven't come up with anything yet, just hold on, we are getting to the good part. I will give you some easy-to-follow instructions. If you start to get nervous, thinking you can't do this on your own, just print this out and take it with you.

The Idiot-Proof Guide to Valentine Day Gifts for Women

  1. Flowers. This one is not optional. You must get your woman flowers for Valentine's Day. The best way to do this is to order flowers to be delivered to her at work. Because Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, you should have them sent on Friday instead. [In 2011, it is on Monday. Have them delivered on Monday, or die. - Ed.] Flowers are almost meaningless if a woman can't brag about them to other women. I said almost. If you fail to have flowers delivered to her at work, you absolutely must not forget to bring some home with you.
  2. Lingerie. This is the perfect gift for hookers, whores and assorted tramps. Most women, however, prefer to buy this on their own.
  3. Diamonds. Like I said, you ain't no Brad Pitt. If you are getting her a ring, try to get as close to one carat as you can afford. Platinum is the way to go for settings these days, but get white gold if you can't afford it. Going for earrings? One carat total weight is the minimum, two carats total weight is the maximum. Round diamonds look bigger. Don't bother with a platinum setting for earrings. Use the extra dough to get better quality diamonds. I can't go into quality here; that would take all day. In Southern California, Robbins Brothers is used to helping out hapless victims of consumerism like you. Don't let their extremely annoying commercials put you off. They will steer you in the right direction.
  4. Other Jewelry. I am talking about anything that isn't a diamond ring or diamond earrings. I think you should stay away from this category. Again, I am not trying to be mean, but you are an idiot. Only men with very good taste should venture into this territory and they don't need help from me.
  5. Kittens. If you are dating a teenager or Britney Spears, this is an appropriate gift. Live and/or stuffed are allowable.
  6. Weekend Getaway. I am sure that your woman has mentioned, on more than one occasion in your relationship, some nice places to go for a weekend trip. Pay attention already! Christ. Destination, in this case, is secondary. The primary thing that is going to score you points with a gift like this is the fact that you planned it all on your own. That means you have to take care of transportation, lodging and even some things to do while there. Although it is preferable to spend the actual weekend of Valentine's Day on the getaway, it may be too late for that. Presenting her with a brochure, or something similar, detailing what you have already booked and planned is almost as good.
  7. Candy. This is crap. If I find out that I put all this time into writing this guide and you read it and still went out and bought your woman one of those disgusting heart-shaped boxes of candy, I will find you and beat you about the head with a blunt object.
  8. Poetry. Seriously, have you not been paying attention to a single thing? Women like presents. I am sure you mean it to be all heartfelt and shit, but it probably sucks.
  9. Date. I hesitate to add this one to the list because it can go horribly awry. If you have it in you to plan a super fabulous date (and I am not talking miniature golf here) then, by all means, do it, but this has to be more fun than anything else you have done with your woman all year. Think over-the-top, like sky-diving, a cruise on a private yacht, heckling celebrities on the red carpet. I can't really help you out with more ideas because I am not all that fun, just mean.
  10. Spa. You absolutely cannot go wrong with a gift certificate to a spa. You likely have no idea what makes a good spa, so ask women you know. Stay away from anything that has "salon and day spa" in the title. Those are just hair salons with extra rooms. The best combos that are reasonably affordable are a facial and a massage, or a facial and a salt or sugar scrub. Two treatments is a perfect amount. Anything more and you risk picking something that she might not enjoy, like a seaweed wrap or a plantain pummel. For those in Southern California, Burke-Williams is your best option.

Good luck, muchachos!

How to Fire Your Realtor

Anonymous has a question:

So, here's the deal. Jenny is a friend of mine but not a close friend. She's the cousin of a good friend, however. She lives downtown, so about an hour away and she's pregnant with her first kid, due in March. She didn't do anything for me when the house was on the market with her this summer. No open houses, no nothing other than a website. I haven't even been able to get my key back from her, due to varoius fuckups, and it's been off the market since August, I think.
I may be moving out state soon, so I need to sell this fucking house ASAP, and I don't feel she'll be that aggressive. Due to the personal relationships, I don't really feel comfortable saying that to her. I want to make it seem like it will be too much effort based on the distance and the kid but I don't know how to say that.
Any thoughts?

Clearly, you need a new Realtor, one who will actually work for you to sell your house. It seems like the point you are struggling with is how to tell your current Realtor that she is fired, since you have a personal connection to her. You are right on track with focusing on how much effort it will require of her to be aggressive with marketing your property.

I recommend an email along these lines:


Thank you so much for the work you did trying to sell my house this summer. My situation has recently changed and I to need to put my house back on the market soon, and be very aggressive about getting it sold. I know what an effort it is for you to make it all the way out here, especially as you enter your third trimester, so I am going to relist my house with Realtor nearby.

Thanks again, and good luck with the baby! I can't wait to see pics.

-Home Owner

P.S. Please mail my house key back to me at [address].

I almost always recommend a direct approach while trying not ruffle any feathers.

How to Ask for a Favor

  1. Acknowledge that the person you are asking is doing you a favor. You are not entitled to the help. Be gracious. Tell the person why you are asking her for a favor and not someone else.
  2. Do as much as you can to help yourself. Did you even try to do this for yourself first?
  3. Make it as easy as possible for the person to do the favor for you. Need a ride? Provide directions. Need an answer? Give as many details as possible. Need a referral? Provide all necessary contact information.
  4. Be grateful. Thank the person sincerely and in as many ways as you can.
  5. Return the favor, not just to the person who is doing you the favor but to anyone else who needs the help.
Do you have anything to add to this list?

How do I fire a client?

My esthetician has a question:

How do I fire a client?

Those were the first words out of my esthetician's mouth this morning when she walked in for my eyebrow waxing appointment. I was honored that she valued my opinion so much because it's not like I have first-hand experience in the matter. My esthetician wants to fire one client because the client is rude. The client's behavior has been escalating for awhile. The client has been rude to the esthetician several times and, most recently, was rude to a stylist to whom the esthetician referred the client. That was the last straw.

The adult thing to do would be to talk to the client face-to-face. At her next appointment, after the client pays, the esthetician should take the client outside for a private conversation. (The front desk area is very busy and the esthetician's room is too intimate.) The esthetician should say something like this:

"I want to thank you for your past business, but I don't think that we're a good match anymore. Here is the name and number of another esthetician who can help you in the future."

If the client asks why, the esthetician should be honest and say something like this:

"You have been rude to me on several occasions and you were rude to my friend so-and-so when you were here last week. Thank you, again, for your past business. I hope that this new esthetician works out for you. Good-bye."

The main thing in a situation like this is for the esthetician to remain calm and detached and not to let the client drag her into an argument about what she has or hasn't done in the past. It is within the right of the esthetician to choose her clientele and her decision is not negotiable.

The esthetician was understandably leery of having this conversation face-to-face with a rude person who she thinks will react negatively. She asked if it would be ok to send a letter. I said yes, but that face-to-face would be best. If she does choose to send a letter, I advised that the contents should be the same as the conversation I outlined.

What do you think? Would you handle the situation differently if you were in the esthetician's place?

10 Tips for BlogHer '11

I returned home from BlogHer '10 today. One year from now I am not going to remember nine out of ten of the following tips, so this is really more of a note to self than anything else.

  1. Bring Tums
  2. Go Wednesday to Sunday, but leave late on Sunday and take Monday off of work
  3. Wear your hair up for parties because it gets HOT in there
  4. Eat before parties because you will DRINK
  5. Or, skip the parties and do more things in town with your friends
  6. Bring your own Diet Pepsi because the dude at the Diet Pepsi booth is only handing out samples as if there was a single person at the conference who might be thinking, "Hey, I wonder what Diet Pepsi tastes like."
  7. Attend some sessions, you jackass
  8. Bring pre-cut moleskin strips (again) to prevent blisters on your feet even though you brought comfortable shoes to wear
  9. Scope out all hair, make-up, and spa services as early as possible because they have sign-up times that fill up quickly
  10. Don't share a bed

Bonus tip: Get new luggage. That $15 carry-on you bought at Sam's Club in 1995 has reached the end of its life.

Related: 10 Things: A Very Short Guide to BlogHer

You Always Have Another Option

The only thing I remember from all the Michael Crichton books I have read is one line from SPHERE. I tweeted it earlier today in response to a discussion I was having with someone about being stuck in her miserable job.


In the book, one of the characters was in a situation from which it looked like there was no escape. He needed to get to another part of the sub and the access tunnel was blocked by something ominous. (The details are as murky as the depths of the ocean after all these years.) He was nearly in a state of panic until he remembered something he had learned from a mentor: you always have another option. He put on a suit and went around the outside of the sub to reach his destination. I believe this option was only slightly less perilous than staying put and waiting for certain death.

You always have another option. Always. No exception. In every situation you can possibly conceive, there is more than one option for action you can take. You may not always have a better option, but you always have another option. When I feel like I am stuck in a situation, or that I am forced into an option I don't want to take, I remember that I always have another option. I think about what my options are and I choose the best course of action or, depending on the situation, the course of action that is the least bad.

Thinking this way keeps me from feeling hopeless even in the worst of situations. It empowers me to take action and to feel good about the choice I have made. The one option I never choose is to let myself wallow in self-pity while things fall apart around me.

How to Confront Your Neighbhor About His Dog

Kate the Peon has an issue:

I need to confront my newish neighbor about something and I am a chickenshit. I’ve only met him once and don’t remember his name.

I have seen a dog cage in his garage (where he never parks his car) and believe he is cooping his dog locked in the cage, in the hot garage, at night when Neighbor is gone. My problem is that his garage is directly next to and below my bedroom, and I hear the dog whining and barking for hours at a time – at my bedtime, I might add.

I have witnessed Neighbor doing things (repeatedly parking on the street in front of the “no parking on the street” sign; letting his dog into our open backyard to poop, and not cleaning up after him) that leave the impression he doesn’t so much care about others or want to do what’s right. I don’t want to judge him, but he looks like a wannabe hardass. My heels and I are intimidated.

I think it’s only fair to talk to him personally and give him a chance to fix this himself, but I am worried about what may happen afterwards if he doesn’t. How would you suggest I go about resolving this?


Don't talk to your neighbor. He knows it isn't right to leave his dog shit in the yard, so asking him to please pick it up isn't going to do you any good. I would file a complaint with the HOA about the poop and about the noise.

Regarding the cage, if the conditions are inhumane, then what he is doing is illegal. I would call animal control or the local police department and ask them about which agency handles this type of report. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that putting a dog in a cage is not inhumane by itself. Our dog was crate-trained and was perfectly happy in her crate for hours at a time. So, as I said, if the conditions around crating the dog seem inhumane, then I would definitely report it to the authorities.

Ten Things: A Very Short Guide to BlogHer

Should I make this out to your awesome Coach bag?

Last year was my first year at the BlogHer conference. I met Tim Gunn. That wasn't even the highlight of the weekend.

Here is a little list of suggestions based on my experience there.

  1. During the day, wear what makes you the most comfortable. Yes, some women will be dressed like fashion models or hipsterinas, but who the hell cares?
  2. For parties, wear what you think looks the best on you. If you don't think anything looks good on you, wear what makes you the most comfortable. I'd rather be underdressed than uncomfortable. All those bitches are going to be drunk anyway.
  3. Talk to the people manning the booths in the expo areas. If you are too shy for that, latch onto a more outgoing friend who will talk to everyone. (That's what I did.)
  4. Carry a very large, nearly empty bag if you want swag. (Check out my sweet Coach bag in the picture.) The expo hall is loaded with it.
  5. Don't disregard the advice in the official Guide to BlogHer about changing your shoes a couple times a day. I did not do this and my feet regretted it.
  6. Get the phone numbers of people you want to catch up with during the conference. You might miss emails and tweets, so you want to be able to call and text.
  7. Bring business cards with at least your name, blog URL, and Twitter name printed on them. (Last year, I made mine at the last minute on ugly cardstock and cut them myself. They were so ghetto.) Exchange them with everyone you meet.
  8. Plan the sessions you want to attend, but plan for back-ups, too. Some are just lame.
  9. Don't just have a muffin and orange juice for breakfast. (This is more for me than you. I have to remind myself of this every time I see a continental breakfast.)
  10. Bring extra ziploc bags. Some of the swag is liquid and you don't want that spilling in your checked bag.

If this is your first year, don't feel like you are missing out if you don't do half the stuff you plan to do. BlogHer has ten different things going on at any one time. Do the things you like the best and skip the rest. If you aren't having fun, text me and you can hang with me and my girlies.

I give Leah Peterson odd advice.

You might know Leah Peterson as leahpeah from leahpeah and leahpeah. I have, on two occasions, given her strange advice about her body. It's not like I run around giving people advice about their bodies whenever I can. In fact, I don't think I recall ever giving anyone else advice about their bodies, yet I have done this to Leah twice. Two times.

On the first occasion, Leah had posted on her blog that one of the negative side effects of a new medication she was taking was bruxism. She asked for advice about how to deal with this. I clench my teeth when stressed, so I had experience. Of course, she could get a mouthguard for sleeping, but a person can't wear that all day long. I told her what I do when I find myself clenching my teeth. I flatten out my tongue and place it between all of my upper and lower teeth. (I'm doing it now.) With my tongue there, I can't clench my teeth hard enough to give myself a headache. I can even do this in my sleep now. She emailed me later to say that it was helping.

On the second occasion, Leah and I were chatting about her upcoming mega road trip while our husbands loaded her old couch into my van. Leah was telling me about her elaborate pillow system and how it was going to cause some trouble on the road trip because lugging seven (nine?) pillows in and out of the van every night wasn't feasible. I told her about the system I used when I was pregnant, which involved two body pillows. Now, I forget exactly how the conversation veered in this direction, but I soon found myself suggesting to Leah that, when sleeping on her side, she cram her nightgown between her breasts to keep them from sweating. It works, as I know from personal experience. Last night, as I was cramming my nightgown between my breasts in preparation for sleep, I recalled this conversation with Leah, and that is how this post came to be. She never emailed me to say this piece of advice was helpful.

Do you have a weird body problem that needs solving? Apparently, I have weird advice for you.

My 10-Step Skin Care Routine

I developed quite the extensive skin-care routine during my second pregnancy. That baby sucked all the moisture right out of my face (and left chin hairs in its place). My skin returned almost to its naturally oily state post-pregnancy, but I discovered that my skincare routine still worked and that my skin looked great, so I have kept at it. My routine has a lot of steps, but whenever I have tried eliminating one, my skin has suffered.

My skin:

  • Combination
  • Large pores
  • Prone to breakouts
  • The beginnings of fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead (but no wrinkles!)

Step 1: Remove Eye Make-Up (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I usually have to remove some more make-up from my eyes. It is impossible to get all the eyeliner off at night and still be gentle on my eyelids.

PM: Always remove your make-up!

Product: I use Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover, primarily because I have three bottles of it from various "free gift with purchase" sucker deals. It's not too oily and it does a good job.

Step 2: Cleanse (twice daily)

AM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser. In the morning, I do this step in the shower, after I rinse off the conditioner so that there is no conditioner residue on my face.

PM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face once to get off the rest of my make-up, then I wash my face again to make sure it's clean.

Product: I have been using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for years. I started using it in 2002 when I was on Accutane to clear up my acne.

Step 3: Lightly Exfoliate (once daily)

AM: I exfoliate in the shower because it makes it easier to rinse off all the grit from the scrub. I have tried every scrub known to skin and I keep coming back to Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream. It has a fine grit, and lots of it, in a nice cream.

Step 4: Tone (twice daily)

AM: I mostly think that toner is a scam, but I use it to make sure my face is really, really clean.

PM: I usually still see a bit of make-up on the cotton pad, so I know it is at least getting my skin clean even if it doesn't do anything else.

Product: I use Lotus Flower Ginseng Toner, which appears to be a product available for private labeling since I bought it under a salon's label. It doesn't even list the ingredients, so I don't recommend it. I got it because I had a gift certificate I needed to finish off and the bottle had "hydrating system" in the description. True to its word, it does not dry out my skin, like something alcohol-based would. Once it runs out, though, I will probably try something like Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2.

Step 5: Super Exfoliate (twice weekly)

PM: Two, sometimes three, times a week I basically have to sandblast my skin. If I don't do this, my pores start to clog up. I use a battery-powered, circular brush that I run over the surface of my face with a super exfoliating cream.

Product: I use BeautiControl Microderm Abrasion Creme & Brush because my mom sells BeautiControl products and she gave it to me. It works great, though, and I plan to continue buying the cream when I run out. The cream is pricey, but it lasts a long time.

Step 6: Moisturize, the Eyes (once daily)

PM: I try to remember to do this, but this is step I skip the most.

Product: I have yet to find an eye cream I love. I am currently using Kiss My Face Eyewitness Eye Repair Creme because my brother-in-law, who works at a health food store, got a sample for free.

Step 7: Moisturize, the Undercoat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use three layers of moisturizer twice a day because I want to look 30 when I'm 50. First, I use a serum that contains hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient. (Details here)

Product: I can't find it anywhere online. It's called Moisture Enhance and I got it at Burke-Williams, as suggested by the woman who gave me a facial.

Step 8: Moisturize, the Middle Layer (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I use a moisturizer with SPF 25.

PM: In the evening, I use a moisturizer without SPF.

Products: I use Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Moisturizer for the morning and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion - Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin for the evening.

Step 9: Moisturize, the Top Coat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use a light gel lotion to seal in the other moisturizer all day and night.

Product: I love Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief . LOVE IT. It saved my skin when it was a desert of pregnancy hormones.

Step 10: I Use Even More Products (as needed)

I seriously can't moisturize too much. I use Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 instead of foundation.

I love Kiss My Face Break Out Botanical Acne Gel for blemishes, but I haven't had to use it in ages.

More Toddler Tips: Raising a Talker

Oh, my goodness is my toddler ever a chatterbox. Thankfully, she can talk and talk and talk to herself. She does not always require a response. My kid is well ahead of the game when it comes to language development. Most people are confused about her age out in public. They think she is abnormally small for a three-and-a-half-year old, but she is two-and-a-half.

I have some background in early childhood education, and I have read twenty gazillion books on the subject, so I knew what I wanted to do to instill good language skills in my child before she was born. I'm not an expert on it by any means, but maybe you can benefit from knowing what has worked for me.

1. Talk to your baby all the freaking time

I am actually not much of a talker, so this was really awkward for me in the beginning, which is why I started practicing when my baby as barely a week old. I narrated everything I was doing ("Mommy's changing Kenna's diaper.") and everything the baby was doing ("Oh, Kenna doesn't like getting her diaper changed. Kenna is crying.").

I also held conversations with my mute baby. Ask the baby a question, leave time for the baby's response, and then say what the baby would respond if the baby were super freakish and could talk.


"Does Kenna want to wear her giraffe onesie today?" [pause]

"Oh, Kenna does want to wear her giraffe onesie. She loves her giraffe onesie."

I read something about kids not understanding pronouns until a certain point, so we always used names when talking to the baby, at least until she was using multi-word phrases.

2. Don't correct improper word usage

Once your kid does start talking, don't correct improper word usage or verb tenses. The goal is to get your kid to talk more, so you don't want to do anything that might make her feel bad, like telling her she is saying something wrong.

3. Repeat and model

When my toddler first started talking, I would repeat what she said, or what I thought she said, for two reasons. First, to make sure I understood her and, second, to model proper word usage and verb tenses.

Example 1:

"Jibber jabber cookie blah blah mama"

"Would you like a cookie? Oh, you do want a cookie."

Example 2:

"Jibber jabber cookie blah blah mama"

"Would you like a cookie? You do? Ok. Kenna said, 'May I please have a cookie, Mama?'"

I still do this but now, instead just trying to build my kid's vocabulary, it is also about using proper sentence structure. Also, I still don't know what the heck she is saying sometimes. She speaks pretty clearly, but if it is a word I've never heard her use before, I takes me a few tries to get it.

3. Don't use baby talk

This one is in every book there ever was, but there is some confusion as to what "baby talk" means. Baby talk refers to made-up words. It does not refer to using a high-pitched, sing-songy voice, which actually helps babies with comprehension and helps to calm them.

Example (not baby talk):

"Ohmygod you're so cute, I love snuggle your little neck and smoosh your cheeks and give you so many kisses." (I may have said this every single day that I was on maternity leave.)

Example (baby talk):

"Does my little shmoopykins need her dipey-wipey changed? Someone has a mess on her tushy-wushy."

You should not use baby talk mostly because you sound like an idiot when you do.

4. Have conversations with your child

This is harder when your child is a baby and you are holding both sides of the conversation yourself. It is infinitely more fun when your child can participate. This is a great parenting tip, not just for building language skills.

Have a conversation with your kid. Your entire relationship should not consist of you barking orders at your kid or even instructing your kid in a nice way. Your kid is going to need conversational skills in life and you are going to want your kid to talk to you about things as she gets older, so you might as get her used to having a normal conversation now, before she can resist.

This part is easy and it is enormously entertaining. My toddler cracks me up every single day. She is just starting to really pretend and tells me stories about monsters and her dolls and her friends at daycare.

One last note

I was talking to my hair stylist about some cute things my toddler says and she said she doesn't always understand what her nephew says, but that his mom seems to. She was worried about being able to understand her own kid when she has kids. I reassured her that she would understand her kid even if other people couldn't. It isn't like a psychic bond thing, it is just that your kid uses the word in context around you so you begin to pick up which words mean what because you are much more exposed to them than other people are.

Please and Thank You: Teaching Your Toddler to Be Polite

I get compliments about how polite my toddler is. At two-and-a-half years old, she greets adults by name; she says please, thank you, and you're welcome when it's appropriate (most of the time); and she is very complimentary herself ("I like yours shoes. They're so pretty.")

It isn't by accident that she is this way. This is behavior that I actively tried to instill in her from the time she was born. I have seen conflicting advice about teaching keeds to be polite so I think it might be useful for others to know what I do.

1. Model Good Behavior

I think this is a key step in teaching kids how to do anything. We say please and thank you to the toddler. When I ask her to do something, I say please. When she complies, I thank her. It's not difficult. I started this when she was a newborn so that I would get into the habit. ("Don't roll off the changing table, please. Thank you.") I read in a book that you should only model behavior and never tell your kid to say please and thank you since they will naturally pick it up, but I don't agree. Kids need prompts.

I compliment her every day and I compliment other people in front of her. I tell her she's funny, or I say that her hair looks cute, or I like the picture she colored. She says thank you, and she copies that behavior with others.

2. Remind, but Don't Demand

I read in a book that you should not force your tiny toddler to say please and thank you. You should remind them to do so and let it go. If my toddler forgets to ask for something in a nice way, or to say please, or thank you, I remind her, but I don't force her to do it right then. Using this method, her use of please and thank you gradually increased on it's own.

This was another thing I started when she was a newborn. It was a little ridiculous at first because I would be holding my tiny baby who couldn't even hold her own head up and I would say, "Say hi to Aunt Marie," and then I would say it for her, "Hi, Aunt Marie." But, at her two-and-a-half-year check-up, she greeted her doctor with, "Hi, Dr. Altmann," when the doctor walked in the room so, as ridiculous as it seemed then, it has paid off.

When I started this post, I thought there was more to it, but as I got into, I realized it really has been as simple as that.

How to Quit Caffeine

I am running this post again because I am quitting diet sodas (and caffeine) as part of my Lenten reset.


I think this advice originally came from Joanne who heard it from a coworker. I love diet soda, so I have used this method several times. I quit caffeine but then my love for diet soda calls me back and I am not diligent about buying decaffeinated soda, so my caffeine addiction returns as well.

Anyway, this method is easy. It only has two steps.

  1. Reduce your caffeine intake to one caffeinated drink per day, in the morning, for a week.
  2. No more caffeine at all once the week is up.

Even if I had let myself get up to many caffeinated drinks throughout the day, one caffeinated drink in the morning is enough to stave off a headache for the whole day. After a week of that, my caffeine dependence is so low that I can quit altogether without getting a caffeine headache.

Call for Opinions: What do grown-ups do for fun?

Jamie asks:

My husband and I have discovered that we are the most boring people on earth. With every day being a 12-hour workday we don’t have a lot of free time, but what little we have, we have no idea what to do with. When we were younger we loved to go out and party, but we’ve outgrown it. And we never replaced these activities with anything else. Also, all of our friends have either had kids or never grew up, so we don’t really associate with anyone anymore.

So, basically we have no friends (we both work at the same place and everyone here is either way older than us, or has kids, or is weird or all of the above) and no hobbies. All we do is sit and stare at each other going “What do you wanna do? I don’t know, what do YOU wanna do?”

Is there some sort of match-making site for couples in their late 20’s-early 30’s to meet other lame people with no friends? If not, there should be. It’s hard to make friends as an adult.

Anyone have any suggestions for hobbies? We are not athletic and are both very accident prone, so anything with sharp pointy things (like darts) or heavy things (like bowling) or physical activity (like, um, sports) is not good. Also, anything that takes a long time (we have no attention span), or involves weirdos (like Renaissance fairs or Civil War Re-enactment) is out.

This is a good topic, about which I have surprisingly few opinions. My husband and I watch TV, go to the movies, and hand out with family (I have lots) and friends (we have few). We don't have tons of free time, though. We both have long commutes. We have two small children. I am taking MBA classes. I have to blog, and tweet, and post reviews on Yelp or the world will end. My husband plays online games. We're both fat because we don't exercise.

Anybody have some ideas for Jamie?