Why Rodan & Fields?


Back in January I posted about joining Rodan & Fields as an independent skincare consultant.  My life has been a total whirlwind lately so I haven’t posted on here in ages but I’ve really been wanting to write a post exploring more in depth about why I chose THIS particular company.  Rachel just went down for a nap so I’m going to take advantage of this free time to share my story with y’all.  Because I’ve got other tasks I need to accomplish during her nap time this is going to be in bullet format & probably not as eloquent as I’d like but I’ll do the best I can.rodan and fields

  1. First & foremost, I joined Rodan & Fields because I had already been using the products for almost an entire year & I knew that these products really work.  This company isn’t a gimmick.  It was started by two world-renowned dermatologists (Dr. Katie Rodan & Dr. Kathy Fields) who created these products based on their extensive experience in the skincare field.  They are also extremely astute businesswomen who have built a billion dollar skincare company in a very short amount of time!  R&F products actually used to be sold in department stores like Nordstrom but the doctors realized that that business model was swiftly dying.  They knew e-commerce is where the money lies these days.  So they changed their whole business & decided to share the profits with independent distributors rather than big corporations!  Leading consultants in this business are everything from stay at home moms to nurses, doctors, lawyers, & teachers.  Being a saleswoman does NOT come naturally to me.  Hello, I’m the girl who HATED school fundraisers because I dreaded the thought of asking anyone to buy anything from me!  I never want to “burden” people or to make them think I’m only trying to make money off of them.  But when R&F’s Unblemish regimen cleared up my acne for the first time in almost two decades & gave me the clearest, most beautiful skin of my life, I knew I’d finally found something that was too good to keep to myself.  (Getting an extra discount on my favorite products for being a consultant is pretty nice too!)  Being an independent skincare consultant isn’t easy.  You do actually have to do the work to make a profit.  BUT these products are so effective that they really do sell themselves!rodan and fields products
  2. R&F’s business model is very simple.  A lot of MLM companies have a very complicated system for determining commissions.  And/or they require consultants to stock inventory, ship their own products, or sell a certain amount of products or recruit a certain number of new consultants each month in order to earn commission or continue to be a consultant.  R&F doesn’t do ANY of those things.  I don’t have to stock inventory.  I don’t have to ship orders (other than samples I CHOOSE to send to folks).  I don’t have to host parties.  I don’t have to recruit any other consultants.  I don’t have to sell a certain amount each month.  My life is way too busy to bother with all that stuff.  All I have to do is talk to people about our products, send them samples if they want some, & help them discover the best skin of their life . . . which leads right into my next point.Euromonitor #1 Skincare Brand in US 2017
  3. Great skin = greater confidence.  I have experienced this first hand after using R&F products, so one of my reasons for joining this business is the desire to help others achieve the same.  Furthermore, everyone has skin!  Not everyone wants jewelry, makeup, scented products, cleaning products, or nutritional supplements.  There is nothing wrong with selling any of those items, just to be clear.  I’m actually a customer of several other MLM companies who do sell those items.  But I’m going to be a real nerd here & share with you something I remember from history class back in high school.  (For my Appomattox folks, it was probably Mr. Servis’s tenth grade World History Part II class.)  In any case, I remember one of my history teachers talking about why the British empire was in the end much larger & more successful than the Spanish, Portuguese, French, or Italian empires.  The reason is that the British invested in wood & agriculture.  While these things don’t have the glitz & glamour of gold or silver, they’re essential items that people always need, regardless of the economy, war, or any other societal factor.  So while the British empire started slower, it actually grew to be the largest & most successful because it was so sustainable.  People might get tired of a lot of products they buy but no one is going to get tired of great skin.  And they’re never going to outgrow the need for quality skincare either.Euromonitor #1 Skincare Brand in North America
  4. Lastly, the most important reason I joined this company is to make it easier for me to continue working only part time as a nurse & thus be able to stay home with Rachel most days of the week.  I truly have no idea how full time working moms survive.  I’ve picked up some extra shifts at work lately & I’m definitely dragging because of it!  I’m not ready to give up my nursing career but I also LOVE the balance I have in my life only working part time.  However, I do miss the money I used to make working full time . . . The beautiful thing about R&F is that I can contribute some extra money to our family without being away from Rachel!  I can work this business anywhere!  All I need is a phone/computer with internet access.

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    Here’s my baby!

I’ll end this post with a link to my website where you can check out all of R&F’s amazing products.  If you have any questions about this business or our products, please comment on this post or, better yet, email me at rlcarterrn@gmail.com.  I look forward to helping you achieve the best skin (& longest lashes!) of your life- & the confidence that comes with that!

Bad Mom Days


This is going to be word vomit because I’m having a rough day & I’m trying to bang this out before Rachel wakes up again.

Any other moms have bad mom days?  I know y’all must because it can’t just be me.  The last week or so has been a bit rough because Rachel is going through a nap transition in which she is slowly working down to one nap a day.  The problem is she gets up so early that sometimes she really does need a morning nap AND an afternoon nap- yet some days that afternoon nap just does NOT happen.  And that makes for one REALLY fussy toddler- & one really frustrated mama!

People are always telling me how happy & easy Rachel is which of course means at times like this when I’m struggling I constantly find myself thinking “Oh gosh, if this is what an easy toddler is like, how would I survive with a difficult one?”  Basically this is the exact same scenario I ran into when she was a newborn.  I felt like I was barely keeping my head above the water sometimes, yet people were always clamoring on about how easy she was.  So inside I was thinking “I’ll never make it if I have a difficult baby!”

thomas paine quote

He must have spent a lot of time arguing with toddlers. Ha!

I’m trying to remind myself that all moms struggle & that it’s ok if the baby/toddler phase isn’t my favorite.  Trust me, most of the time I really do enjoy Rachel’s current stage.  But it’s also really hard for me because babies & toddlers (especially young toddlers like her) do not have the capacity to understand logic & reason.  And if you know me at all, you know I am a very logical person . . .

So, as you can imagine, dealing with a person who is not capable of understanding logic & whose behavior is sometimes anything but logical can be quite a challenge.  On days like today I find myself feeling so inadequate because I feel like maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a baby/toddler mom.  I feel like I’ll be an awesome mom when Rachel is older but right now I feel like other moms who really love babies & toddlers must be so much better than me.  I know that’s ridiculous & I must actually be doing a pretty damn good job or Rachel wouldn’t be so “easy & happy” like everyone tells me.  But it’s the way I feel right now.behind every kid

Then of course I start thinking about all the women I know who’ve struggled (or are still struggling) with infertility or who have had miscarriages.  And I feel so guilty for getting frustrated with Rachel when I know I should just be thankful I have her.  And trust me, I am very thankful for her!  However, that doesn’t mean that some days aren’t hard.  But the guilt is real, y’all.  mom guilt

Oh yeah, I also cut my finger while trying to cut a spaghetti squash this afternoon.  Thank goodness for a sweet neighbor who was able to come over & watch Rachel for a bit while I cleaned up my finger & got the bleeding to stop.  Clumsy-lina strikes again!

Ok, that’s it.  Just trying to decompress a bit so I can feel a bit more sane & face the rest of the day with a more peaceful brain.

 

The Rise of Incivility


In the wake of the horrific shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida last week, I have once again seen how truly hateful people can be to each other. You would think tragedies like this would make us realize how important it is to be kind to others but instead it seems that we devolve into a chaotic world of (verbally) crucifying everyone who doesn’t agree with us. This comes from both “sides” of the political equation but I for one have found it be worse from the liberal side, ironically from those who frequently preach tolerance. If you disagree with some (not all, obviously) of these folks, they are so quick to tell you to go f*** yourself & to call you all kinds of horrible things (yes, this has happened to me). When you call them out on this infantile behavior, they have the gall to tell you that you deserve it for being such a horrible person!

gun-rights

I am really tired of being told that just because I support gun rights & don’t believe gun control laws are the answer to stopping school shootings that I am some horrible evil person who is obviously an inept mother. I would never make such claims about folks whose opinions are different than mine & I’d really love to receive the same respect back.

For years I thought the “religious right” were insufferable because of their frequent holier than thou attitude. Lo & behold I have found that the “liberal left” are often (not always, of course) equally as guilty of this obnoxious attitude. As it turns out a great deal of adults- both liberal & conservative- seem to truly enjoy having a smug sense of moral superiority over others. Argh.

dont have to agree to be kind

I really do not understand this puerile behavior. I have close friends who are far more liberal than I am, as well as close friends who are far more conservative than I am. But I get along with all of them. Why? Because we are all decent people! We know how to show respect to others & practice self-control. It’s really not that hard. I don’t see why so many adults struggle with this simple concept. I come across people I disagree with all the time but it doesn’t bother me. I am confident enough in my own beliefs that I don’t feel the need to lambaste anyone who disagrees with me. I certainly see no need to be rude or obnoxious to make my point or to try to bully others into changing their minds (it never works anyway). It’s a favorite ploy nowadays to call anyone who disagrees with you racist, sexist, or some other negative -ist. But I see no need to stoop to such tactics (though they are admittedly very effective) because all it does is shut down the chance of any productive discourse.

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I for one think tragedies like last week’s make it obvious that having our schools as gun free zones is just an invitation to violence. It makes all of our precious children & teachers sitting ducks. Sure, I’d love to live in a world where it wasn’t necessary to have armed security (or even just teachers who were trained & thus could act as security if necessary) at our schools- but that just isn’t the world we live in. I know many are calling for bans on AR-15s & other such weapons & part of me is tempted to agree. But the thing is, criminals will always find a way to get these weapons because they are still going to be available, whether legally or illegally, even if we ban them now. We can already see how effective our gun laws are at keeping handguns out of the hands of convicted felons (hint- they aren’t!). If we could go back in time & make these weapons unavailable to anyone outside of law enforcement or the military, perhaps that would solve some of our problems. But we simply can’t do that. Should we make these kinds of weapons harder to obtain? Yes. Should someone with a history like Nikolas Cruz have been able to purchase weapons so easily? No. Should we do a better job of following up on reports of mentally unstable folks with access to weapons (like Nikolas Cruz)? Absolutely.

gun free zones dont work.jpg

But it seems to me a lot of these horrible tragedies could be averted by simply having a good guy with a gun readily available to fight off the bad guy with a gun. Anyone remember the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas where a private armed citizen took out the crazed murdered before police could get to him? Yeah, funny how that case didn’t get nearly as much media attention. Oh wait, it doesn’t fit the mainstream narrative that guns are always evil.

steven willeford

Stephen Willeford, the private citizen who shot the shooter at a church in Sutherland Springs, TX in Nov 2017

Not to mention the people clamoring for more gun laws are often politicians who are protected by their own security who- guess what!- carry guns. Amazing! Now how is it that these folks think they are worthy of armed security but we as lowly private citizens- & our children- are not? Is it more likely that they will be attacked because of their positions? Maybe, but they’re also more likely to survive because they do have armed security.

laws dont stop violence

There are many reasons why we are seeing more school shootings these days. And it isn’t just about gun laws. There’s also the fact that there are so many children being raised without fathers. And the fact that mental healthcare is down right abysmal in this country. This is a very multi-faceted problem & anyone who thinks we can solve it purely through legislation is frankly naive. Just take a look at some of the cities with strictest gun laws in our nation (Baltimore, Chicago, & Washington DC come to mind) & you can see how effective strict gun laws are at stopping violent crime (hint: they aren’t!).

kindness dalai lama

The fact that so many grown adults can’t have a civil conversation about something without devolving into name-calling gives me very little hope that our society is going to experience any meaningful change. I frequently hear folks (both conservative & liberal) say they just aren’t going to share their opinions anymore because they are tired of being attacked for their beliefs. As someone who has always hated confrontation I can totally understand this sentiment. But I refuse to be intimidated into silence. And regardless of how uncivil anyone becomes, I will maintain civility because I am an adult with self respect & I don’t believe we will see any meaningful change in our society until we can at least have difficult conversations without behaving like spoiled brats. So go ahead: you can call me any names you want, you can tell me to go f*** myself as often as you like, but you can’t shut up me up because I for one don’t back down that easily.

*Some excellent thoughts on this issue: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qzDKyfeHHa0

#Me Too- But . . .


The #metoo movement.  It’s everywhere these days.  And in some ways for good reason.  But I swear I can’t be the only one who has very mixed feelings about this whole phenomenon.  On the one hand I’m glad creeps like Harvey Weinstein are being exposed.  On the other hand, part of me is worried that this is turning into a witch hunt in which every woman who accuses a man of sexual impropriety is immediately believed & the man is immediately condemned with no evidence required whatsoever.  Now I understand that for many, many years it was quite the opposite but that doesn’t excuse throwing away all sense of logic & just believing every accusation we hear while dispensing with any sense of due process.me too.jpg

Also, I have not been raped so I cannot propose to suggest how a rape victim (male or female) “should” behave after such a horrifying event.  But what I can say is that, like most other women, I have experienced a certain amount of sexual harassment in my life.  Just for context I will explain a bit of what I’ve experienced & how I handled it.

When I was in college I worked at a restaurant where I had a manager who had a tendency to make sexualized remarks/jokes.  I was very uncomfortable around him, especially after a fellow server told me this manager had been making sexual remarks about me behind my back.  Later that night this man had the gall to make such a joke to my face.  I immediately responded by telling him he could not talk to me like that.  I told him “This is my job & I expect to be respected, especially by someone who is a manager.”   I walked out of that building terrified that he was going to find some reason to get me fired.  But you know what actually happened?  One of the other managers spoke to me about it (because he apparently reported to her than an “incident” had happened) & I explained how uncomfortable he had made me.  She told me she had spoken to him about the behavior & how it was unacceptable.  From that day forward I had zero problems with this guy.  He actually made an effort to be nice to me & I was actually disappointed when he left to go to another restaurant several months later.me too 2.png

Now I’m not excusing his initial behavior.  But I’m showcasing how my response shut it down immediately & how we were able to work past this incident to still work together.  I understand not every case is going to end like this.  But my point is that, especially as women, the behavior we tolerate is the behavior we’re going to get.  So if you don’t like how you’re being treated, SAY something, DO something!  Don’t just smile & nod & hope it gets better.tolerate quote

The other incident of sexual harassment I’d like to share was actually much more hideous.  A former employer of mine, whom I had greatly admired & trusted, started sending me texts asking for sex & offering to buy me liquor & meet me at a hotel.  Now this man was married & over twice my age!  I was horrified.  Absolutely horrified- perhaps even moreso because I knew his wife & mother.  It was a very precarious situation too because I had been hoping to receive a letter of recommendation from him.  But I also knew that I couldn’t mess around with this kind of thing.  There was no way in hell I was meeting him at a hotel.  So I immediately shut him down & told him what amounted to a big, fat “hell no.”  And then I erased his number from my phone.  As it turned out, a few months later I found out that this man actually had a history of questionable sexual behavior, & several years down the road I found out he had been formally accused of sexual harassment by another employee.

The point of all this is: yes, sexual harassment happens to most women, even when we are in no way asking for it.  And it SUCKS.  But a lot of times we have the power to stop it.  Or at least escape it.  I’m not excusing the behavior; it’s totally wrong.  But it is NOT the same thing as sexual assault or rape.  Yet what I’m starting to notice is that a lot of women are conflating sexual harassment with rape.  Or worse yet their own sexual regret with rape.aziz ansari

The case that particularly brings this to light is the case of Aziz Ansari.  If you’re not familiar with him, he’s a comedian who prides himself on being a feminist.  BUT he’s now being accused of sexual assault by a woman he took on a date a year ago.  The trouble is this: I’ve read through the woman’s statement on their encounter & while I find Ansari’s behavior revolting in many ways, what I’m reading in no way sounds like true sexual assault- certainly not rape.  There are so many instances where the accuser relates being uncomfortable, yet she admits that she did not speak up about how she was feeling.  For example, she was uncomfortable with how quickly Ansari wanted to leave the restaurant, yet she didn’t ask to stay longer & still willingly went back to his apartment.  The woman admits “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points.”  At no point does she relate that he was physically forcing her to engage in any sort of sex.  Nor does she state that she ever unequivocally said “no” or “stop” or anything of the sort.  Once again, I’m not saying Ansari shouldn’t have read her physical cues that she wasn’t interested.  He clearly should have.  But what I’m getting out of this story is that the woman didn’t have the strength to say no (for whatever reason) & is now trying to cry foul to make up for her own sexual regret.  Sexual regret ≠ rape!  It just doesn’t!  Am I crazy for thinking that?  Am I victim-blaming?  I honestly don’t think so but I’m sure I will be accused of it before long.  (Even the New York Times is standing up for Aziz Ansari, so that ought to tell you something about how stupid this situation is!)

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No means no, but we do actually need to SAY it!

When it comes to the cases against Harvey Weinstein, some of them are pretty clearly rape.  But I still have to ask myself why any woman in her right mind would agree to hold a “business” meeting with a man she doesn’t know (or barely knows) in a hotel room.  And worse yet, when he answered the door in a bathrobe, I’m legitimately confused as to why these women didn’t just walk away.  I really don’t see how that wasn’t a huge red flag!  I cannot help but wonder if some of these women begrudgingly went along with sex with him because they thought it would help their careers.  I mean, these women cannot have been so naive as to not know that the term casting couch exists for a reason!  Again that does NOT make the concept ok.  But the fact of the matter is if a woman consents to sex in order to try to advance her career (or any other reason), that is NOT rape.  Is it unethical & gross?  Sure.  But it’s NOT rape.  Again, if Weinstein truly forced these women into it, then, yes, it was rape.  But the sad truth is if they aren’t reporting it until now there isn’t much that can be done about it.  Any physical evidence is long gone.regret does not equal rape

I can certainly understand why women don’t always report sexual assault & rape, particularly if the perpetrator is someone in power.  But the problem is that if women don’t report these crimes, the men are still out there, free to terrorize other women.  Plus, if we women don’t stand up for ourselves, who will?  Furthermore, if we wait 5, 10, or 20 years or more to call out the men who’ve abused us, how can we expect real justice?  It’s not like there is going to be any real evidence left at that point.  And as much as it sucks, rape is a serious charge & a man SHOULDN’T be sent to prison for such a crime if the only evidence against him is a woman’s word.  There is simply too much room for error with that.   (E.g. Duke lacrosse case, the erroneous Rolling Stones article about the rape at UVA, Jemma Beale, etc.)false rape claim

What it boils down to is this: I believe women are the intellectual equals of men.  We are obviously not physically equal in the sense that we ARE different & that the vast majority of men are physically stronger than women.  That’s just biology.  But when it comes to making our own decisions- having our own agency, so to speak- I believe women are every bit as capable & responsible as men.  We are 100% capable of saying what we want, how, & when.  And of walking away when a situation makes us uncomfortable.  If we choose to get drunk with someone, knowing we might agree to have sex with them while inebriated, even if we wouldn’t while sober, that’s our choice.  And we need to live with the consequences because we are adults & that’s what adults do.  Now if someone spikes our drink, that’s a whole other story, obviously . . . But if we agree to have sex with someone, for whatever reason, & then regret it later, that isn’t rape.  That’s just poor decision making, plain & simple.  choices

Thoughts?  Please share!  I’d love to hear from you.

I’m in Business!


Those of you who know me outside of this blog may know that I am NOT a natural saleswoman.  I used to hate school fundraisers unless they were something really easy like candy bars because those basically sold themselves.  Otherwise I just wasn’t interested.  That being said, I’ve decided to become a Rodan & Fields saleswoman!  You can check out my website here.  But before you do so, read on to find out WHY I’ve decided to do something that comes so unnaturally to me.sales

Those of you who know me outside of this blog also probably know that I’ve struggled with acne for most of my life, since I was ten years old to be exact.  At various times I’ve tried various & sundry different creams & solutions, both OTC & rx.  I had moderate success with some & no success at all with others.  I even tried doxycycline, an oral antibiotic, for a few months a few years ago, & while I had reasonable success with that it was obviously not a long term solution.r and f

As someone who’s struggled with acne my entire teenage & adult life I wasn’t exactly shocked to find that pregnancy hormones were not kind to my face.  However, when my acne got even worse in the first few months postpartum, I was starting to panic.  Obviously I couldn’t go back on doxycycline while breastfeeding (& even if I “could” have, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing that).  I was getting desperate! regimen image

Well, it just so happened that a friend & former coworker of mine joined Rodan & Fields skincare company last January- one year ago today to be exact!  When she told me the success she had with the Unblemish regimen on her postpartum acne, I was naturally very intrigued.  Once I heard about the money-back guarantee, I was sold.  I had to give it a try.  After all, what was there to lose?'I can cure your oily skin or you could sell the drilling rights.'

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve always been terrible about sticking to a good skin care routine.  However, after investing a decent amount of money in the Unblemish regimen, not to mention with how bad my acne had gotten at that point, I had some serious motivation to follow the regimen religiously.  While I missed a few days here & there, overall I stuck to the routine exactly as instructed.  Within weeks, I noticed that my skin was softer & smoother than it had ever been in my whole life.  I also started to notice fewer breakouts.  Within two months, my acne was all but goneWithin six months I was down to using the full regimen only once or twice a week but still maintaining the clearest, most beautiful skin of my life.  

skin before r and f

My skin actually looked worse than this at times but this is the best picture I could find to show how my acne was before starting R&F’s Unblemish regimen

As the months passed I started using other R&F products as well, namely the Redefine multi-function eye cream & the Amp-MD roller in combination with the Intensive Renewing Serum.  The eye cream has made a huge difference in avoiding dark circles under my eyes (what mom doesn’t have those?), & the Amp roller & renewing serum are working wonders on the stretch marks on my tummy from my pregnancy.  christmas cartoon r and f

Over the past few months I’ve lost count of the number of people who have complimented me on my gorgeous skin.  As someone who struggled with acne for almost 20 years, trust me, those are not compliments I was used to receiving.  I’ve been contemplating joining R&F for months now, largely thanks to these compliments, but what really tipped me over the edge was when we visited my grandmother at Christmas.  Almost the first thing she said to me was “Your skin looks amazing.  What are you doing?”  At that moment, I realized it was time for me to join this phenomenal company because I’ve already become a bit of a spokeswoman for them anyway!forbes quote r and f

There are so many things I love about R&F.  Most importantly the products really WORK!  Secondly, there are no parties, no minimum monthly sales, no inventory, none of the typical sales shticks you see with most direct sales companies.  

If you’re not sure which regimen or product would be best for your skin, my website includes a handy tool to help you select the right one.  Just go to the website, scroll down to “Find your regimen,” & click “get started.”  After answering just a few simple questions about your skin, you can find the best skin regimen for you.

me and Rachel piano

And here’s my face now!  No makeup!

Questions?  Comment below & I’ll do my best to help you find the best skin of your life!

5 Lessons from My First Year as a Parent


I’ve been meaning to write this for about a month now but the past month has just been so busy, not only with the holidays & traveling to see our families but also with a lot of big changes in Rachel’s life.  Allow me to do a quick life update.

The second weekend in December my husband & I went to a wedding in Maryland for one of his college roommates.  We spent the night after the wedding which was my first time away from Rachel overnight.  Before the trip she was down to nursing only twice a day & as I had met my goal of breastfeeding her for a full year, I figured the 36 hrs or so I was away from her would be an easy way to end our breastfeeding journey.  So that’s what I did! lll 1 year badge

Rachel handled this change extraordinarily well.  I don’t think she’s missed nursing one bit!  It was definitely bittersweet for me but mostly I’m proud of myself for accomplishing a goal that for a while I thought was going to be impossible.  Also I’m excited that after 9 months of pregnancy & 12 months of breastfeeding I finally feel like I really own my own body again.  How women have back to back pregnancies blows my mind.  Not only can I not imagine handling a baby & a toddler at the same time but I also know I just need a little “me time” between kids, even if that is just in the form of not being pregnant or nursing for a while. pinterest mom

Anyhow, not only did I wean Rachel from nursing but I also weaned her off the bottle at the same time.  As I’ve done with all major changes in her life (moving from sleeping in the rock & play to the pack & play, then from the pack & play to the crib, etc) I tried to make these changes as gradually as possible to make them easier on her, & I’m happy to report that she has handled them all very well.  This leads me into the point of today’s post.  I’d like to share some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a parent.motherhood-quote

  1. It gets easier with time.  I know, I know, a lot of people love to say parenting only gets harder as kids get older.  But so far I have found that to be completely inaccurate for me.  The older Rachel gets, the easier things are for me.  Now maybe this is just because of the personality I have (I don’t like people being super dependent on me- hence one of many reasons why the newborn stage was NOT my favorite), but I also think it’s because of the confidence that comes from knowing all that I’ve survived so far.  I find that nowadays when I face a parenting challenge it’s much easier for me to stay calm because I can think back on all the challenges I’ve faced so far & how I’ve survived all of them, even the ones that seemed impossible at the time.  To me that confidence is worth so much & really does serve to make this whole parenting gig much easier.this too shall pass
  2. Everything is a stage.  The old adage “This too shall pass” has never been more accurate than it is for parenting.  Whatever stage your child is in, whether you love or hate it, it will pass.  The older Rachel gets, the more I’m learning to embrace the positives of each stage because I know each one will pass faster than I can imagine.  On tough days I remind myself “The days are long but the years are short.”  That saying has brought me so much comfort over the past year.  And it is so true.  I feel like just yesterday I was the exhausted new mom who felt clueless & questioned everything about myself as a mom.  Now I realize that our pediatrician really was right about me being the expert on my baby simply because she is MY baby- & it makes me feel like a whole new woman!

    'My god, he's insane.'

    Sometimes I wonder if Rachel thinks this about me.  Ha!

  3. Make changes in your baby’s life as gradually as possible.  As I talked about earlier, when you’re making a change in your baby’s life, try to do it as gradually as possible.  At least for me I have found that this makes things MUCH easier both for your baby & for you.  For example, when I was trying to switch Rachel from sleeping in the rock & play to the pack & play, I started with naps.  After she did well with that for a couple of days, I started having her sleep in it at night.  But I knew she was harder to get to sleep at the beginning of the night so instead of putting her in the pack & play then, I waited till after her second night time feeding.  I knew she usually went back to sleep pretty easily at that time, so one night I started putting her in the pack & play after that feeding.  Then a few nights later I did it after the first night time feeding, then a few nights later I put her in the back & play from the beginning of the night.  It all went much smoother than I anticipated & I really think that’s because I did it so gradually.phase moon cartoon
  4. Find what works for you & your child & rock it.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the best at following all the “rules” of parenting.  Obviously we need to exercise common sense to keep our kids safe, but within reason I think sometimes we have to just ignore the experts & find what works for us.  Perhaps more importantly, we need to remember that there is not one right way to parent a child.  What works for your friends might not work for you & what works for you might not work for them. We are all different people & our children are all different people as well, so we can hardly expect one style of parenting to work for everyone.  Also, no one is perfect, no matter what their Instagram or Facebook profile might lead you to believe, so learn to forgive yourself when you inevitably don’t live up to your own expectations for yourself as a parent every single day.mom stretch mark
  5. The good times makes the hard times worth it.  When Rachel giggles & grins at me, which is a ton these days, it makes all the screaming fits & meltdowns from her younger months so, so worth it.  I keep reading that she’s at the age to start throwing tantrums but so far she’s only had a few mild ones here & there, & most of the time they’ve been when she’s in the thick of teething.  Sometimes she gets upset if I take away something she shouldn’t be playing with or if I put her inside the baby gate for a bit, but I’ve found that if I just give her something else to play with or ignore the screaming she usually calms down within a minute or so.  Anyway, I’m sure she may throw some real tantrums in the coming months but I know that even then the times when she’s happy will make the hard times totally worth it.

Best Albums of 2017


Happy new year, dear readers!  I’m a little late with my annual best albums post seeing as it’s already 2018 but that’s ok.  When you have a toddler, things don’t always get done on schedule!  Anyway, 2017 was a great year for rock music, my favorite genre, but you might be surprised to find which album made my choice for best album of the year.  So without further ado, here are my picks for the best albums of 2017.

11. Madness by All That Remains:ATRMadness As some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of Phil Labonte, the lead singer of ATR.  He’s an outspoken Libertarian which is not something you find too often in the rock world (or in the music/celebrity world in general actually).  You can hear some of his political views in this album including in the title song Madness (those themes are more apparent if you watch the music video).  Actually you can see a hint of political themes just by looking at the picture on the album!  Other highlights on this disc include the band’s unexpected cover of Garth Brooks’s classic The Thunder Rolls & If I’m Honest.

10. From the Fires by Greta Van Fleet: fromthefires gvf.jpgI just discovered this band a few weeks ago after getting curious about them since I kept seeing their name on lists of best albums/songs of the year.  It turns out these guys range from just 18-21 years old but their music sounds like something from the 70s- in a good way!  I was truly shocked after listening to their music to find out how young they are.  Lead singer Josh Kiszka has an amazing voice & the band is rounded out by his twin brother on guitar, their other brother on bass, & a friend on drums.  Safari Song is the first song I heard by the band & it immediately captured my attention, as I think it will yours too.  Also check out Highway Tune.

9. Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson: heaven upside down MMWith this album Manson has fused the industrial sound of his older albums with the more bluesy sound of his 2015 album The Pale Emperor, which makes for a truly unique sound.  My favorites include Say10Tattooed in Reverse, & title track Heaven Upside Down.

8. Graveyard Shift by Motionless in White: motionlessinwhitegraveyardshiftcoverI’m such a huge fan of MIW’s 2014 album Reincarnate that I’m not sure they’ll ever top that one for me.  But this album is still a great one.  There a few tracks where I feel the lyrics are a bit wanting but the other tracks are so well written that they make up for it.  Don’t miss the haunting but gorgeous Eternally Yours, the music video for which features lead singer Chris Motionless’s gorgeous girlfriend, & 570, an ode to the band’s decade of hard work which gives homage to their hometown of Scranton, PA (570 is the area code there).  With lyrics like “And when I’m facing a wall, I do not quit/Cause if you mean it, you will make it” the latter is an excellent song for the gym or any time you need a little encouragement to keep working toward your goals.  Other highlights include Queen for Queen & Hourglass.

7. Crooked Teeth by Papa Roach: crooked teethThis is actually the first Papa Roach album I’ve ever owned & I find myself spinning it again & again.  I was inspired to buy it when I saw several of my favorite rock stars including Chris Kael, the bassist from FFDP, posting about how great it was on Instagram.  From title track Crooked Teeth to None of the Above to American Dreams this album is one great song after another.  A surprising ballad that you absolutely must not miss is Periscope featuring pop singer Skylar Grey.

6. Hydrograd by Stone Sour:hydrograd stone sour As I discussed with MIW, Stone Sour’s previous album (the double album House of Gold & Bones from 2012-2013) is one of my all time favorite albums so I’m not sure if it’s even possible for the band to ever top that one for me.  However, their most recent effort, which won Hard Rock Album of the Year at the Loudwire Music Awards, is epic nonetheless.  My favorite track also happens to be the heaviest track on the record Taipei Person/Allah Tea.  Other great tracks include singles Fabuless Song #3, the former of which attacks the shallow nature of fame & the latter of which is a love song which is intended to fuse both the sappy & lusty natures of love, thus making it the third option for love songs, hence the title.  Also don’t miss Knieval Has Landed.

5. Asking Alexandria by Asking Alexandria: aa albumI have a whole blog post dedicated to AA’s previous album The Black, that’s how much I love it.  I actually wasn’t familiar with the band until that album so I was quite disappointed when I found out that Ukranian singer Denis Stoff was leaving the band.  To be perfectly honest, when original singer Danny Worsnop rejoined the band I was afraid they would go back to songs about nothing more than drinking & sex.  However, once I heard a few songs from this disc, I realized that it is without a doubt the band’s best work to date.  Lyrically & musically the band has truly matured & found their groove, as evidenced by lead single Into the Fire which will quickly get stuck in your head.  My other favorite tracks include Hopelessly HopefulAlone in a RoomRise Up, & the surprising acoustic piece Vultures which was recorded in just one take in the studio.  Check out this excellent article about the stories behind each song on the album.

4. The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Nothing More: nothing-more-the-stories-we-tell-ourselvesThe Grammys actually got something right this year when they nominated this disc for multiple awards.  Nothing More’s previous album was amazing  but this one is equally awesome.  Once again the band finds a way to combine catchy melodies with phenomenal lyrics.  Check out Do You Really Want It? & Go to War for great examples of the heavier songs on the album.  However, my absolute favorite tracks on the album are two ballads, Still in Love & Just Say When, which were both clearly inspired by lead singer Jonny Hawkins’s divorce.  Both songs are heartbreaking but beautiful.  I could listen to a whole album of just ballads like these two.

3. The Sin & the Sentence by Triviumthe sin and the sentence Trivium have been releasing albums & touring the world since they were barely of legal age, but they have truly outdone themselves with their most recent album.  As soon as I heard the title song I knew this was going to be a phenomenal album.  Check out this article for an excellent look at the inspiration behind the songs from lead singer Matt Heafy & bassist Paolo Gregoletto.  There isn’t a single bad song on this album so it’s hard to choose favorites but be sure not to miss heavy-hitter The Wretchedness Inside as well as the more radio friendly The Heart From Your Hate & Endless Night.

2. Ritual by In This Moment:in-this-moment-ritual I fell in love with ITM after 2012’s Blood but it seems like every disc the band releases just gets better & better.  This year’s effort shows off a more bluesy side of Maria Brink which is best showcased on lead single Oh Lord.  My absolute favorite track from this album is Black Wedding featuring Rob Halford from Judas Priest.  It’s one of those songs I fell in love with the first time I heard it, & I think you will too.  Other favorites of of mine include Joan of Arc & Half God Half Devil.

1.  Slowheart by Kip Moore:slowheart After 10 rock/metal albums, you probably weren’t expecting a country album to make my choice for best album of the year, but Kip Moore’s third album is just that good.  Besides which, he is often noted for having rock elements in his music.  Anyway, there is no doubt that I’ve listened to Slowheart more than any other album this year.  I fell in love with Kip’s music after his previous album Wild Ones when I realized what a great songwriter he is.  But this album is even more amazing.  If you really want an inside look at the stories behind the thirteen amazing songs on this album, check out this documentary about the making of the album.  My absolute favorite on this disc is album closer Guitar Man.  It reminds me of Billy Joel’s classic Piano Man (one of my all time favorite songs) as it is an ode to the power of music.  Listen to it & fall in love.  Other stand-out tracks (there are so many, it’s hard to choose!) include Last ShotPlead the FifthI’ve Been Around, & Bittersweet CompanySlowheart is one of those albums that makes me want to listen to it all over again the moment it ends.  It’s so obvious that Kip put his heart & soul into writing these songs which is what really separates him from most modern country singers.  And that is what makes Slowheart my choice for 2017 album of the year.

As I always do with these posts, I’m going to conclude this with my choices for most anticipated albums for this year.

Most anticipated albums for 2018Black-Veil-Brides-Vale

  • Vale by Black Veil Brides (just 10 more days- out Jan 12!!)
  • Pop Evil by Pop Evil (Feb 16)
  • Godsmack’s as yet untitled seventh album
  • Black Stone Cherry’s as yet untitled seventh album
  • Halestorm’s as yet untitled fourth album