Saranghae Means “I Love You”

Skin care has always been a struggle for me. I remember as early as my pre-teen days struggling with severe acne, so much so that I was prescribed medication to help with my acne. Fast forward over a decade later, I have gone through several points in my life where I am struggling to find the right facial care system that will help my breakouts.

Prior to my pregnancy, I was extremely active and sweat A LOT. My breakouts were often, and usually required monthly facials with blackhead extractions. Fast forward to my pregnancy, my face glowed for 9 months! I was warned that once Augustine was here, my hormones would change and my facial chemistry would be much different than it was before.

Sure enough, Augustine was here and my acne was equivalent to my teenage years. I had blackheads, and full blown breakouts throughout my entire face. Not only was I experiencing postpartum changes with my body, but my smooth face was covered in acne. Does that seem dramatic? Yes. Is it the truth? Absolutely. I was horrified at the idea of putting on makeup, but couldn’t leave the house without it.

At a moment that couldn’t have come more quickly, I was introduced to Saranghae. A 5-Step Routine skin care system. The day I received my package from Saranghae, my face has two large pimples and my skin was extremely dull. I started the system the same day. I vowed to give it 30 days to see how my face would react. Prior to sharing my results, let me break down the system for you

Saranghae means “I love you”Step 1: The nourishing moisturizing is formulated with truffle extract and gold, applying when your skin is dry, it helps lift oils before I use my Clarisonic!

Step 2: Deep Radiance Essence + Serum delivers nutrients, amino acids, and vitamins to the skin

Step 3: Regeneration Cream! Helping to firm and lift the skin (this is my favorite and the BEST!!)

Step 4: Focus Renewal Eye Cream- helping firm and brighten under eyes. The unique ingredients help significantly with my under eye dark circles.

Step 5: Elemental Essence Mask – infused with Hyaluronic Acid and Chamomile. Hands down the best, and most effective mask for hydration!

After using Saranghae’s 5 Step Routine for 30 days, I can’t say enough great things about how my skin has transformed. First, I will start with my the feel of my skin. Within 3 days, my skin was noticeably hydrated and soft. With naturally dry skin, I have bouts of eczema and dry patches that can occur on my face. The nourishing face wash and moisturizer, have left my skin feeling extremely soft and hydrated. Step 2 is where I believe I saw the most results from, the serum has left my face glowing and bright. After having a baby, it’s fair to say that the time I have to myself is extremely limited – therefore, I need something that will be easy and effective. Saranghae has been transformative of my skin, I can’t say enough how happy I am with the results!

(Day 35 on the left, Day 1 on the right – notice my forehead!)

Nearly 60 days later, I am happy to report that the skin care system has been nothing short of amazing. My skin has much more radiance than it has ever had. Currently, I have not one patch of dry skin – and my breakouts have drastically decreased. (Side note: I think it’s fair to say – and be honest, that skin care also has to do with diet and water intake, mixed with stressed, therefore my skin won’t always be perfect).

If you haven’t taken the opportunity yet to view their site, I encourage you to read their blog and testimonials HERE.

Thank you Saranghae for introducing me to the best skin care system yet.

About Saranghae

Saranghae is an award-winning Korean 5 Step Anti-Aging skin care routine that heals, regenerates and protects your skin. Saranghae’s focus on natural ingredients, highly effective products, and excellence in customer service has helped them become the fastest growing Korean skin care brand in the United States.

For more information please visit: www.lovesaranghae.com

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Ashtonbee + Me

So – our house is far from baby proofed. Oops. I guess I thought, “you still have a lot of time before that’s a thing to worry about.” Well, Augustine got mobile, and everything is now a land mine or a disaster waiting to happen. While I am still working on baby proofing the house, we needed a solution that was going to be safe, effective, and fun for Augustine. I knew he needed a lot of space, and a place to be comfy – and most importantly, I needed to know he was SAFE.

While browsing Amazon, I came across Ashtonbee Baby Playpen, this playpen is everything and more! Ashtonbee is fun, interactive, encourages developmental skills, spacious and roomy!

When we get home on weekdays, or during our “downtime” (what is that anyway) on the weekends, we like to get stuff done around the house AKA clean the same things over and over. Since Augustine is mobile, and prefers to ONLY stand now, it was making it difficult to keep an eye out on him, while cleaning dishes in the kitchen. Think loud *thud* followed by crying. Insert mom sigh. With the Ashtonbee Playpen, we placed the Playpen in our living area, threw in all his favorite toys, and BOOM – he was good to go!

The worry was instantly eliminated, and he is seriously entertained for hours. My husband was actually weary when we got it, but as soon as we set it up, he said “this thing is AWESOME!”

(Don’t mind his drool shirt, little guy has teeth coming in!)

Speaking of my handyman, who literally has to put together everything in the house. The set up on the Ashtonbee is SO easy. It took under 10 minutes to put together, and is extremely sturdy. The cool part is, there are little suction cups at the bottom of each door to stick to floors (whether your home, or take the Playpen on the go) – another reassurance that Augustine won’t stand and push the whole thing forward.

Another neat thing is, if we ever move it in the house, want to make it bigger, smaller, another space – we have the option of doing that as well. The Playpen allows you to customize it to fit your home and space.

The best part of this Playpen is it’s functional and grows with him. If I am a fan of anything, it has to be an item that lasts longer than a few months. First, the actual playpen has little nooks that he has already learned to stick the balls through, which is encouraging his development skills. Also, there is a small basketball hoop, so when he does figure out how to throw or place things in it – he can utilize those parts of the Playpen.

Overall, I can’t say enough great things about our Playpen, it’s everything that a family needs to help keep your baby entertained and safe. Ashtonbee offers safety, security, and serenity for our house. I encourage you to check out their other products on Amazon, by searching “Ashtonbee”.

Thank you Ashtonbee for our Playpen, all opinions are solely mine!

DockATot + Sleep = Mom Bliss

(Yup. He really is asleep in that picture!)

Sleep. That’s what I planned my life around. For as long as I can remember, I never committed to an event, scheduled a college course, or stayed up late if it compromised my ability to get 8 hours of sleep. You can imagine that when I got pregnant, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and more importantly – I was confident my restful nights would be interrupted. I tried my best to read about baby sleep, and all these techniques of what to do (i.e. cry it out, rock them and place them down, E.A.S.Y method, etc..). Although, I come to the conclusion that Augustine was going to develop into his own pattern and we had to have some flexibility in that.

Fast forward a few months later when this little guy made his debut. Around month 4 or 5, we were loaned the DockATot Deluxe. Let me stop here – I was pretty against the idea of co-sleeeping. My husband is over 6ft and I am 5’11”, I feel like we fight for space now – much less adding a wild baby to the mix. Although, life happens – we both went back to work, and nights were turning LONG, very LONG. The DockATot Deluxe provided security and comfort for the 3 of us, and it was the perfect size to squeeze between my husband and I. Fast forward a few months later, Augustine was busting out of the Deluxe. We were ready to move into the DockATot Grand!

The DockATot Grand has been a game changer, it is all things multifunctional and comfortable. I feel much more comfortable knowing that no matter where we are, and what we’re doing – Augustine has a comfortable place to snuggle up and nap in.

To put it simply, here are 3 reasons you never knew you needed a DockATot!

1. Comfort and ease. The material and comfort of the Dock makes it easy for Augustine is get comfortable and cozy. Specifically, when Augustine needs to go down for a nap, I simply put him down and he rolls over on his side and he doses off. Yes. I put him down and he falls asleep on his own. I should make it clear that it took practice for us to get to this point, although, his Dock gives his comfort and he feels content. The added bonus is the Dock doesn’t harbor heat, and Augustine can breath easy no matter the weather.

2. Transportation friendly. For us, we’re constantly on the go. When Augustine was little, he fell asleep on almost anything, usually that was the couch of a friend/family members house. Welp! Now that he’s mobile, and far more aware, his naps are much more structured and sometimes difficult when we’re on the go. The DockATot Grand makes it easy, not only does he recognize his Dock, it carries his smell, and provides him comfort no matter where we are at! Not to mention that it comes with a carrier, and picks up easy for transport.

3. This Dock has gone through the trenches with him. To be honest, as we’ve been fighting cold/flu season, this Dock has been our best friend. The best part about it, the cover slips right off and is machine washable. That has hands down been the best part of this whole experience with our Dock. When Augustine is sick, it’s hard to keep him content, when he’s in his Dock, he is comfortable, able to breath without overheating, and still snug. The interchangeable cover makes it so convenient and easy to clean. We are so thankful that even on the long nights, Augustine is close by, comfortable and able to sleep in his own space.

Parenting is hard, and along the way, you develop all these ideas on how things are supposed to be. Those ideas fly out of the window just as quickly as they come in. Thank you DockATot for helping my baby continuing his growth and development with comfort. This post was sponsored by DockATot, all opinions are solely mine.

(Because we’re missing the curls!)

Family Matters

I come from a small family. What I mean by that is my mom was an only child, and she passed away when I was 11. My dad is from Sudan, and his side of the family lives back in Sudan. My dad has since then remarried in 2010, and I have acquired a brand new family – and they are amazing!

My husband comes from a bigger family, well bigger than mine in a sense. He has his parents, two sisters, and plenty of aunts and uncles that are fairly local. When we first met, I was absolutely terrified to get involved with family, much less attend family events or become close to family members.

Seems silly. I know. As “extroverted” as I may come across, secretly, I still love my close knit of friends, and intimate groups/family settings. It wasn’t until I had Augustine, where the light bulbs went off. Wow, whether it was positive or less than positive interactions with people, family really does matter.

This all came to be back in February when I reached out to AJ’s uncle to help surprise him by making a leather keychain for our 3rd anniversary. (I follow the traditional wedding gifts list – year 3 is leather). His mom’s side of the family owns a leather shop on the historically famous Olvera Street in Los Angeles. Known as the birthplace of Los Angeles, the small marketplace is beautiful and all things culture. If you’re from Southern California, Olvera Street is a great place to stop. If you take the train, Union Station will drop you off right there!

I knew the keychain would be special, so I decided we would take a trip out there and surprise him. We had an amazing day with family, strolling Olvera Street, and eating amazing food.

Well, in that small trip I learned so much more about myself than just spending another day with family.

First, family matters. I should clarify that family to me is blood relatives, in-laws, acquired family, and my amazing close knit circle of friends. For someone who lost a mom at a young age, I struggle with connections and the concept of family always being there when you need them. My friends, some of which I’ve known my entire life remind me over and over again that no matter the time or day, they are always there. My dad gives me strength when I have nothing left to give. My husband and in-laws have lovingly accepted me into their family, and treat me like their own daughter.

Secondly, I realized in that short visit – it doesn’t matter where you pick up. All that matters is your efforts in life. So whether it’s been 1 month, 1 year, 10 years since the last time you’ve connected with a loved one, it’s never too late to reach out your hand to say “you are cared for.” While we all know without a doubt how flawed we are, we’re even more sure that our family is completely dysfunctional. Moreover, it speaks volume once you have your own child to see family members come together to support us as parents. Encouragement, words of advice, meals, a shoulder to cry on, help navigating the first few days/weeks/months of parent life – I’ve come to see the beauty of it all. I am forever thankful for those interactions in one of the most vulnerable moments in our lives.

Lastly, we all take work. Internal investments on ourselves. Daily. The work never stops, it only gets more intricate and meaningful. That goes for family/friends too. When it gets hard, and the relationships seem hard to maintain, sometimes all it takes is a hand written card, a phone call, a text to remind others that their life is meaningful and that you’re thankful for their impact on your life.

So today, I encourage you to establish/re-establish connections with loved ones. Even when it’s difficult. Send a thank you note in the mail. Tell someone you love them. Remind each other that not only does family matter, but they are loved and cared for!

Baby’s First Foods!

Let’s be honest, I had no idea what I was doing when it came time to introduce my little guy to solids. While I didn’t want to necessarily feed him jar food, I also quickly found out that I did not have the time or energy to prepare meals for him daily, nor did I know where to start even if I did. For several weeks, we were buying organic jar food. Well, as the weeks went on and Augustine was eating more, it was getting costly QUICK! I wanted to look into making our own food utilizing fresh fruits and veggies from our own house. I knew that in the long run this would be healthy, and cost efficient.

After several weeks of research, and opinions, we decided on the Baby Brezza Glass One Step Food Maker.

Hands down this is in the top 5 purchases we’ve made for Augustine. This little item is affordable, easy, quick, and gives Augustine fresh and nutritious meals in minutes.

The Baby Brezza allows you to steam and blend within the matter of minutes with one button. Typically, I will buy a batch of random organic vegetables (whatever is on sale) and meal prep for him for the week. While I haven’t quite mastered this all, here is how it typically works:

  • 2 to 3 bags of fresh vegetables (carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes are featured here)
  • 2 to 3 fruits (bananas and avocados are easy blends and don’t require steaming – these make for great add ins)
  • 2 bags frozen organic peas for in between meals, in the event I run out of fresh ingredients (this week they were on sale for $1.29/bag)

Once the items steam and blend, I have these amazing food containers to help with portion sizes and storage! Each container is layered with carrot and green bean – once they cool off, I stick them in the freezer. During the work week, each night, I take one out of the freezer and throw it in the fridge for the next day. I adjust based on workdays + non-workdays.

The Nuby Garden Fresh collection has made it so easy for us to meal prep balanced meals and re-steam them once we need a portion.

My favorite for food storage has easily become the Freezer Pots, these hold a larger amount, have a lid, and can easily be restored in the fridge if Augustine doesn’t finish the container (that usually is never the case – but on occasion it does!).

For now, we’ve been sticking to a variety of fruits and veggies, and try to explore his pallet the best I can so he’s able to try lots of flavors. Most foods he makes a face the first time around, but a few bites later, he is excited and ready for more.

(Steamed spinach in our Nuby Sure Grip Suction Bowl and the BEST Feeding Spoons bowl with a side of avocado.)

I can’t say enough great things about the Baby Brezza Food Maker. If you’re in the market for a Food Maker, I would give this one a second glance. Baby Brezza did not sponsor this post, this item was so good – I couldn’t help but to share!

My Other Husband – “Gym”

Many of you may know of my obsession for the gym, fitness, weight loss, calorie counting – the list goes on and on. You may also know how much I struggled with weight for the majority of my life. At my highest – I was just over 236lbs, and I’m about 5’11”. I still cringe just thinking about it. Very few knew me as that person. Well at some point, roughly 10 years ago or so, I decided to peel back the layers of myself and shed the weight. Talk about getting to know yourself – I think at some point I had identified that every emotion led me back to food.

Fast forward 10 years later, I was down something like 60lbs, overly obsessed with every calorie I consumed, and every calorie I burned. That obsessive behavior led me to a place of dissatisfaction even when I had every thing to celebrate about my accomplishments. I was my own worst enemy.

Thankfully, I found balance. I can’t tell you where I found it. I imagine it was somewhere between the unwillingness to give up cake, and the desire to still wear size 8/10 pants. Slowly, I began strength training (that became the new obsession), hiking on my days off, coupled that with BALANCED eating, and plenty of self challenges. I. Was. Happy.

I want to add something motivational here. Something like, “postpartum has been nothing short of amazing, and I’m feeling closer to myself daily.” Sorry. That is not the case. Truth be told, I’m struggling more than I can verbalize. This post seems to be much harder than the others, which further confirms, this is still my daily struggle. Truth is, I know how to lose weight. I know how to count macros, I know that if I do a little here and a little there, I’ll slowly see the weight come off, I know in my heart of hearts, that now on the complete other side of the spectrum – I once again am my own worst enemy.

The only difference is, I refuse to give in to the the negative thoughts that can easily flood our minds daily.

As of today, I’m somewhere around 22lbs pounds heavier than before I got pregnant. Most days, I struggle with my physical appearance and my desire to be thin again (I had worked what felt like half my life to get to that point). I am honest with myself and I know like all great things in life – it will take time. I am up for the challenge, the re-discovery of myself, and to most importantly be healthy for Augustine. The journey continues, the path is unclear and scary, yet so familiar.

For now, I’ve signed myself up at a local gym and have found myself cycling, which is new and a different challenge. I am working on balanced meals, cutting sugar, increasing fruits – slow and steady. I trip and slip daily, and that’s okay to me. I have days where I beat myself up, and I have days where I applaud myself for making it through the day. Here’s to a new And stronger Amanda, here’s to all the mamas that are getting to know themselves one day at a time!

Milestones and Memories feat. Freshly Picked

It’s true after all, the time does go by so quickly… I feel like yesterday it was summer and we were trying to figure it all out – how to be parents, and how to make Augustine have an amazing life.

Milestones come and go, and I’m shocked and amazed by each one. Smiles, laughs, rolling over, grasping… The way I share stories, similar to every first time mom I’m sure, I act as if this moment is a historical event – “Augustine discovered his hands today!!”

With Christmas around the corner, I keep thinking, how do I make it special? How do I show him 10 years later that Mom and Dad made YOUR first Christmas magical. It wasn’t until I started unpacking our Christmas boxes, hanging up our decor, when I found my very first pair of shoes that my parents had dipped in bronze (an 80’s thing I guess). I’ve seen these bronze shoes a few times over the years, and just continued to pack them away for safe keeping. All of a sudden, they meant so much to me this year – I took my first steps in these and now I’m going to teach OUR son how to navigate in this world and take his first steps!

What more special gift then to give him his very first pair of shoes!?

Freshly Picked has the absolute most adorable pairs of moccasins. Not only are they soft, comfy, flexible – the styles are to die for! These “All About Mickey” moccs are my favorite. The detail and colors make it easy to pair with basics, and are playful and fun. Not to mention a Disney classic! I mean Mickey Mouse is the face of Disney after all!

Disney has always been nostalgia for me. My first trip to Disneyland, my Disney Princess Dolls, Lion King, Aladdin…! The list goes on and on.. Freshly Picked let’s your baby be stylish, yet functional and comfortable. When he does take his first little steps, his little feet will be able to be comfy, protected, and the BEST part – they stay on his foot!!

Childhood is about being playful and fun, the memories I create for Stinky will be captured to share in stories in the years to come. These milestones remind me to soak in these moments – cherish him in his innocence.

I’m so happy and excited that his first Christmas will be special, and filled with loving memories. Thank you Freshly Picked for helping make memories special around our home!

What are some of your favorite memories as a child or for your children today?

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas!