Stop Them Cold

Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit

This opp came up to write about Winter beauty and I got kind of drooly. See, over the years I have amassed a good amount of knowledge about everyday beauty and I have no one to talk to about it!  Most of my friends don't really wear makeup. As a teenager I had, and still have, skin issues (pimples! at my age!) so I learned all about good skin care regimens and makeup and all that jazz just for my own self-esteem.  And you know, if you're going to put all that work into your skin, you might as well have some great clothes to go along with it. As well as shoes, of course. I'm just saying.  Anyway, I have friends who know where to go now when they have a beauty question or just want to raid my extra stores of makeup (don't ask) but I don't often get a chance to lay down some general guidelines for the Good Of All.  (This is awesome! I'm like a beauty philanthropist!)

The most important thing I can say about Winter beauty is moisture!  This seriously cannot be stressed enough.  Winter weather is ironically drier than Summer, even with all the snow and rain. The cold just sucks moisture right out of your skin. Then, of course, you're also moving from cold environments into heated indoor environments and that puts stress on your skin as well.  Those two are bad enough alone but then throw cold and flu season on top of it and you could seriously wake up one morning with a preview of the wrinkles you'll have in ten years. (That happened to me with this last flu I had because I got so dehydrated.)  So here are my tips...

1. Drink a ton of liquids. I know this is harder when it's cold but switch out your usual cool drinks for warm ones (I personally love hot lemonade) to keep up hydration. This is not only good for your skin but it'll flush toxins out of your body for overall health during flu season. The same rules also apply if you go out partying... if you drink alcohol, drink water to replace your fluids!

2. Use a toner.  A toner can be your best friend. It resets the


pH balance of your skin to neutral so you don't get too dried out from soap or too oily in reaction to the dry elements. (Yes, that does happen!)  I recommend splashing toner on after you get out of the shower or wash your face and before you do the rest of your skin regimen.  Neutrogena has a great non-alcohol based one (which is perfect for older or sensitive skin) that I use over my whole body.  I simply put it in a spray bottle and spritz every place that feels dry.


3. Use moisturizer!  And not just your face. Remember the rest of your body and lips, too. My legs get super dry in the Winter so I have lotion just for them and my feet.  I know a lot of people don't want to bother with multiple products (one for the legs, one for the face, etc.) but if you're going to invest anywhere, invest in your skin.  It's healthier and your body and your mirror will thank you later.  Which brings me to another point, do not forget SPF!  Even in winter your skin needs protection and the vast majority of products include it anyway so you really don't have an excuse not to. Olay has a wonderful line of face creams (that I think are comparable to high-end moisturizers) that can fit almost any skin type, and they've also expanded into body lotions as well.  You might have to experiment a bit before


you find moisturizers that are right for you but shopping at a drug store won't break the bank.  Many lip balms also come with SPF specifically for Winter conditions.  If you're really money tight here's a saving tip... find a face lotion that you like but comes in a larger bottle and use it for your whole body.  You can even dab a little on your lips at night (eye cream works great on lips!).  It might not be perfect for every dry bit of you but some moisture is better than going without.


4. Cover up.  Lots of people are shy about accessories, so Winter is the perfect time to try them out!  It's important not only to moisturize your skin but to keep it as unexposed to the elements as possible.  Gloves, hats, and scarves are practical and fashionable!  If you're new to accessorizing try picking one item that you love at first site, like a soft scarf or pair of gloves. Start with neutrals and then build up to bolder colors as you get used to the way these items look on you. Or, if you're already a hat and scarf person, jump into one in an unusual color.  However, with all those extra items piled on for Winter there is a trick to balancing your look.  Basically you want an emphasis on one area (or two areas that are far apart).  Say you're wearing a neutral scarf and hat, then you could wear red lipstick for a pop of color. If you like to dress up your eyes, wear bold colored gloves.  Wearing bright lipstick, tons of glittery shadow, a rainbow scarf, and a hat goes over the top. 

Rainbow scarf


The general rule is you pick one area of your face to emphasize, either lips or eyes, but in Winter you do have to take your accessories into account.  Because I already have bright red hair and glasses I tend to keep my day makeup pretty neutral, especially if I'm wearing a hat, too. (BTW, if you're going out for a night on the town, you could totally break this rule and vamp it up. Nighttime always allows for bolder colors. However, I still wouldn't recommend the rainbow scarf with a party dress. But a boa? Sweet!)

Thanks for listening!             - wg

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Everyone wants to be heard

I've been reading this book, I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice, by Elizabeth Bonker and Virginia Breen. I was trepidatious approaching this book because, frankly, it's about special needs and I don't read many books about special needs. I do plenty of research but I don't read many personal accounts.  See I've got this really good tough front going on, but inside I can get kind of gooey.  And special needs is one of my trigger points.  It can make me frustrated and angry and very determined, or occassionally, really unexpectedly emotional.  Much of this is not because I have a son with special needs, but because I have a special needs brother. Sometimes there are events that trigger early memory flashbacks and their emotions. It's like getting hijacked.  For example, once a friend of mine in college had a seizure on campus and I was calm through the event, knew what to do, put my jacket around him, waited for the paramedics, etc. Then when I walked away later I completely broke down. Sobbing in front of strangers, snot running down my face broke down, and unable to get out the words, "My brother used to have seizures."

So I guess what I'm saying is I don't read that many special needs books, I don't watch that many movies, because they scare me. I'm scared of getting emotionally hijacked. I already live it, you know?    

That big long aside being said, when I heard about this book I wanted to check it out despite my fearful gooey innards.  The book is co-written by Elizabeth and her mother, Virginia.  Elizabeth is (currently) 13-years-old and cannot speak, but she is highly intelligent and learned to communicate through a letterboard and eventually, typing. Then she began composing poetry.  This, of course, caught my interest!  The book is a collection of Elizabeth's poetry and comments, along with essays by her mother about their journey with autism.

I've been really enjoying it. Virginia talks about the emotional aspects of raising two children with autism but she is also straigthforward about therapies and treatments.  She's obviously a very proactive, solutions-based person.  In my experience these type of people are more optimistic, and less defeatist in all aspects of life. She owns her own venture fund and I particularly enjoyed when she related how certain business practices can also relate to managing a special needs diagnosis.  I worked in high-tech for a long time, including four start-ups, and I could understand the mind-set she describes.  In business, as with special needs kids, you have to be relentless and very dedicated to step-by-step processes but you also have to be flexible and creative as hell, and occasionally you have to make some leaps of faith.  Speaking of faith, she also talks about its place in her and Elizabeth's life, and how it is Elizabeth's own perspective that has affected her most profoundly.

Going back to Elizabeth, I was really interested to read her poetry.  I started writing poetry young and I am always excited when I hear of someone writing at a young age.  That kind of love of words seems to be innate so most who have it do start writing early, but I can't say we live in a society that always nutures it.  Her poetry reads a lot like the poetry I was writing at those ages. Granted, Elizabeth definitely addresses her own struggles with autism, especially people's reactions and her frustrations, and her emotion really carries through.  But she also writes poems about world peace and faith and the beauty of nature in the way that most thoughtful, mature girls her age write about these topics. It is both touching and comforting and, for me, I think that is where Elizabeth most strongly proves her point that yes, she IS an aware, regular-in-all-the-ways-that-count 13-year-old girl. Even though she is trapped is autismland, Elizabeth has found a way to soar above it. 

Although, our special need situations are extremely different I still really liked the book and I really liked who it was about.  Virginia and Elizabeth are people I'd like to meet.  I felt like the book was very hopeful, and relatable, and informative, and I think it could be equally helpful for people who are interested in autism but have never experienced it.

And you know what? It didn't make me break down.             - wg

Squeezing in a little dessert

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There's no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On!


I like nothing more than having a big old open house holiday party. I think it's because I fondly remember going to them, or my parents having them, growing up.  My godparents always held a tree trimming party.  There was holiday caroling, which always felt like a party that just roamed on foot.  However, the older Keen and I have gotten the more we've inherited some of the family hosting duties.  Some years, when you host Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day all in a row, plus people "just stopping by" (ahem, elderly relatives), sometimes it's hard to squeeze in another gathering.

But it can't always be about family either (no offense, Mom).  I need some quality friend time, just to hang. Because that is a big part of the holidays and, frankly, just part of the life I want to live.  But our friends are in the same boat with the family duties as we are, and it got harder and harder to coordinate everyone's schedule, especially as our families grew.  So last year (I think it was last year... damn old age!) we came up with an alternative.

Instead of organizing a party, or a dinner, or some other activity event with a lot of coordinating parts to it, let's keep it mellow and have a... dessert potluck!  Da da dum!  Because everyone looks forward to dessert.  It's a win for the kids, a win for the adults.  Even my diabetic husband enjoys dessert (in moderation).  Another key element of this plan was, "relaxation!"  Basically what the invitation came down to was, "We're going to laze around and eat sugar." 

So everyone made a goodie and brought it over to share.  We were so clever, we just had to congratulate ourselves.

Several pounds later... "Ooooooh, why did you people let me do this?"

"I can't eat anymore."

"There's a ton left over. Do you want to take some home?"

"NO, I don't want to take some home!"

"You guys suck."

"We should definitely do this again."

And we are.  At least that's the plan so far and we're moving it forward to January, too.  Because after all the hectic holidays are over, the buzz fades and the winter drabs set in, you need some lazy sugar fests with your best buds to look forward to.               - with much love, wg


Decorating cookies!


And the sugar high afterward.  (They were racing chairs.)


Remember to check out Duncan Hines' website to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

On socks and shoes and little boys

Thank you to Crocs for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about Crocs’ new Back to School line. They've got 13 new styles for boys and girls (K-8) that are approved and ready to be worn at school.  I think I salivated a little when I found out about them, but more on that later.  I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.


I used to have knee-jerk anxiety when it came to back-to-school shopping (and I still do a little).  Since Chance has sensory processing disorder (SPD), and many kids with sensory issues are particular about clothes, I was worried about having a school uniform.  I worried that everything would be so uncomfortable it would affect how he functioned in school.  Well, with kindergarten now behind us and except for a couple of specific things, it turned out alright.  But last year, amid learning numbers and routines and the introduction of young minds to the school environment, I also learned a couple of new things about school uniforms...

1.  White shirts look SO CUTE the first day of school. The other 179 days, not so much. However, the layering of stains can be quite intriguing.

2. It is really, really difficult to patch the knees of pants that have the leg-width equivalent of toothpicks.  I am already sewing challenged, I don't need this grief.

3. White socks will become dingy socks. Not just dingy, though. There'll also be this dark grey circular stain right on the top of the sock, in between the top of the shoe and the hem of the pants.  It's like the boys decided it would be fun to drag the tops of their feet through mud every day. I don't even know how you bend to achieve that but the socks don't lie.

So this year I changed my whole back-to-school shopping strategy. Chance has the option of wearing either white or dark green shirts as part of his uniform, along with navy blue pants. This year I was going for dark green polos, pants with reinforced knees, and navy socks.  Of course, everyone else who had kids older than kindergarten had the same idea.  You know how the local department stores will stock school clothes in the colors of the neighborhood schools?  Oh my god, it was a fricking mob run on those green shirts!  Like they were the Christmas It toy!  But I got 'em. I am nothing if not a persistent shopper. The sad thing is I actually started my shopping a little early this year and the clothes were already going fast!  The pants (also running low) were solved by snagging one pair at the store, making sure they fit, then ordering the rest online. Sweet.

My one hiccup was the one I didn't expect.  I could not for the life of me find navy blue socks for boys!  It was ridiculous!  All the usual department stores only carried white or black. I mean, in what world would a little boy need to wear black socks that often?  Because we all know it's SO STYLING to wear black socks with sandals or jeans!  Maybe they had some grey socks, or the occasional red railroad track socks.  What?  I ordered some blue socks from a uniform website and they ended up being too big.

Here's the thing, we have been lucky that Chance's sensitivities to clothing have been minor.  I still look for softer clothing, tagless shirts, etc, because who doesn't want to be comfortable?  He'd love to wear fleece or sweatpants all year long, but he's OK with softer jeans or twill pants (like his uniform), especially if he's worn them in a bit.  BUT!  If his socks don't fit right, like they slip around because they're a little too big or they bunch up anyplace, he won't wear them.  It's a sensory thing that drives him nuts and I really can't blame him for that. 

I finally found some navy socks by going to one of those children's stores in the mall that carry socks in every color imaginable. I was a little worried that I'd have to buy girls' socks but I figure if they didn't have fluted edges and I didn't tell him they were girls' that it'd be OK.  (Yeah, I'm that mom.)  But luckily they had standard gender-neutral blue socks.

That brings us to shoes.  Chance likes shoes.  (He's so my kid.)  He'll pick out the colors and patterns that he likes and he always wants more than one pair so he has options to change them with his outfits.  Then he tells us proudly how "stylish" he looks.  We had actually done our shoe shopping pretty early in the summer because his shoes from last year were completely trashed and barely fit.  But Chance loves Crocs and that's pretty much all he wears all summer.  He especially likes to wear two different color Crocs, like one red and one blue.  That's part of his styling look, you know.  Anyway, school started and he had problems transitioning to his school shoes.  He kept clumping around and tripping and I thought he was being silly and kept telling him to "stop walking like that" before it occurred to me that it was the shoes.  By this time, I had already heard and gotten excited about the new Crocs line.  If your kid likes something that much and it's functional it's hard not to want it for them.  Previous to this Keen and I had discussed trying to find him a pair of Crocs that looked more like regular shoes but they hadn't come out with anything that was quite right yet.  Then, given his difficulty with the other shoes, it all turned out to be a happy coincidence when the school line popped up. So I made some calls and found the nearest Crocs store that had the back to school line.  

Chance's new Crocs

That kiosk also happened to be right outside Build-A-Bear. (Sucker mom!)

He loved them immediately (can't you tell?) and insisted on wearing them out of the store.  (Then proceeding to the dirtiest spot he could find before he would let me take a picture.)  What's cool about them is that they are so light he's not clumping around or tripping anymore.  In fact, as soon as he put them on he ran circles around the mall.  And he says they feel like Crocs on the inside but they still work well with socks.  What's an extra bonus for us is that with his SPD he's already trying to deal with too much stimuli and sometimes dyspraxia (clumsiness) kicks in.  This was exacerbated by the heavier shoes and I was just momentarily too dingy to clue in.  With lighter shoes it's just takes away one more potential distraction or difficulty he has to deal with at school and I'm really happy about that.  I thought the styles were pretty darn cute, too.  Here's his shoe...


Thanks to Crocs for letting me blather on about school shopping. I hope all of your school shopping went smoothly and everyone found socks. :)

Crocs sent over this cute video with an easter egg when you spot this little guy.   ---> Crocs Easter Egg Photo Hint

They are also holding a giveaway for a free family trip to San Diego, no purchase necessary!  So if you haven't gotten your vacay on this might be a fun option.  Enjoy!       - wg



Drop Dead Diva

Right before we left for vacation I was offered an opportunity to review the first season of the series Drop Dead Diva.  This is one of those shows I was always interested in but never got a chance to check out.  I think due to scheduling conflicts with other programs or one of my various (obviously short-lived) resolutions DDD_3D_DVD SLIPCASE to stop watching so much television or something.  

Anyway.  I've been watching the show since we got back and I really like it, mainly because Brooke Elliot, who plays the main character, Jane, is SO DAMN FUN to watch.  Since she's an early 20-something model trapped in the body of a lawyer she does a bit of that legally blonde thing... but a lot more charming.  It's a good formula to explore issues around weight, and body image stereotypes in general, without being heavy handed.  Since Keen has lost so much weight himself recently, and was a successful professional - who was heavy - for a long time, some of these same issues have come up in our own household.  It's nice to see a media outlet that is exploring how complicated the social aspects around body image and perception can be, not just treating weight as a black and white issue.

In general I think the program has a good deal of heart but balances it with some fun.  The only character that I'm not sure is working is the guardian angel, Fred.  I think he was supposed to offset Jane's insights about herself and be a prop to explore other relationships but he just comes off too much like a clueless college kid.  And it seems he has disappeared from season two so I guess the producers agree (??).    

So anyway, I've watched a couple of preview shows of season two plus most of season one, which came out on DVD June 1st.  Drop Dead Diva's season two starts this Sunday and I'm definitely going to watch it over the summer. 

I'm starting to like summer TV so much better than the rest of the year (Burn Notice, Royal Pains, Psych).  There's just something about the "off season" programming that I find more interesting.  Maybe the producers are willing to take more risks in summer.  Maybe it's more about entertainment and less about heavy drama.  Whatever it is, I like it.

What are you watching?

              - the weirdgirl

Another overdue post (review time)

It seems like every time I check on the blog it turns out that I HAVEN'T posted anything!  Amazing.  Especially considering that I have a backlog of half-written posts.  This time of year the days just seem to fly by.  And I think the early dark turns my brain off. 

Note to self: Must start utilizing night-time. Do NOT play any more Bejeweled 2.

So I don't do reviews around here often but I was offered a chance to check out the Playmobil: The Secret of Pirate Island DVD.  What intrigued me was that it was marketed as an interactive DVD; you could make choices at points in the movie to direct what the characters would do and which way the story should go.  Like those choose your own adventure books.  Chance has been all about the bonus features of any DVDs. If there are games, bonus clips, deleted scenes, even previews he's wrestling the remote out of our hands to get to them.  On the one hand that's kind of annoying (the male proprietary dominance of the remote, I mean) but on the other, Chance's fine motor skills are rapidly improving (which he needs, thanks dyspraxia) so when I heard about this Playmobil DVD I wanted to give it a try.

Unfortunately, Chance was completely ill when we first got the DVD, so he liked it but he didn't want to operate the remote himself.  (Which should give you an idea of how crappy he was feeling.)  However, the second time he watched it, about a week later, he was feeling better and then he got into all the alternate choices.  He actually, started the movie over a couple of times to re-choose options at certain places and watch what happened.

From my perspective, the CGI was really well done.  I thought that the movie was pretty cute and I especially liked the music.  I'm picky about music, I don't like stuff that's too cutesy or dumbed down and the tunes of this DVD were catchy - something an adult could enjoy.  Ditto on the story line.  I was genuinely amused at quite a few of the lines.  I also thought they did a good job with the choices given to viewers, but it was obvious there was still a main story line that it would return to.  Chance is four, almost five, so it worked for him.  But if you have older children they might desire more control over the larger path of the story.

Overall, I would say that Chance enjoyed it but it didn't completely grab him.  He likes it when it's on, but he also doesn't ask for it.  However, I think that's simply a matter of the movie genre.  If they had a similar Playmobil DVD with dinosaurs I suspect it would be another story. 

Since we got the DVD I've been seeing Playmobil everywhere. I always knew about their toys (I really want one of their castles but I can't sucker Chance into them) but they seem to be expanding in interesting directions.  And while the Pirate theme may not have been Chance's cup of tea I'm keeping my eye out for what other movies they produce.  

(No action figures were harmed in the making of this review.)

           - the weirdgirl