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Five Favs: December

2016 December 15
by Becky

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1. First up is LipSense, a makeup product. Me, talking about makeup. I know it’s crazy, but I saw my friend Mary doing a little how-to video on Facebook for this product she’s selling and I was SOLD. It’s lipstick that stays on for hours. No reapplying, no pulling out mirrors to check, and no dry, peeling lips. It’s a stain that goes on in three slight layers and gets coated with a gloss. I do reapply the gloss a couple times before or after eating, but other than that, it’s zero maintenance. AND, it won’t leave stains on cups or cheeks, ever. So now I, Miss Never Wears Lipstick, has had countless friends and strangers comment on my “new look”. There’s just something about lipstick for a night out or special event…or just shopping with friends. I love it that much. Hit up Mary to get your hands on some, she’ll help you pick a color and has a Facebook group with lots of great info.

2. Have you tried Trendsend? It’s a personal shopping service (think Stitchfix but better brands) from my favorite store, Ever Eve. I love that they send complete outfits from my local store where I actually shop, and they always throw in something to “challenge” me, coaxing me into trying something new. Like this gorgeous Free people tunic. At first glance, I figured I’d hate it, the style wasn’t me. But turns out, I love it! It’s amazing and actually makes sense since I’m really drawn to everything by Free People, which is weird because I don’t typically follow brands. Ok that’s a lie, Ever Eve introduced me to Kut from the Kloth and I love it so so so much.

3. After a few years away, I’ve rediscovered Body Pump and it feels amazing. I took these classes at my gym in college, other St. Louis gyms, and in DC, but it wasn’t till recently that the Gateway YMCA signed up with good ole Les Mills. I was bummed to discover I’m not as strong as I used to be, feeling the extra three years in my joints and I’m sore for days after, but it’s worth every second of pain. I wish more morning classes were offered but it’s a start! Check their website for classes near you.

4. This one could go on forever. Listening to an entire album with no distractions or interruptions is something I haven’t done in many many years, but that’s exactly what I did with the Hamilton: Mixtape. We moved mountains to get me on a plane by myself for two whole hours last week, meeting Stu in DC for a 24 hour whirlwind adventure, and leaving both kids with an overnight sitter for the first time, so I spent the flight completely consumed by this music. The most exciting, engaging, and blow-your-mind talented group of artists I could imagine assembling on one play list, are on here performing the incredible music from the musical Hamilton. It was really hard to keep myself from chair dancing in my airplane seat, especially when hearing Wiz Khalifa sing Washington On Your Side…this has been stuck in my head since then. I was filled with sheer joy hearing Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Regina Spektor, Sia, John Legend, Andra Day, Ingrid Michaelson, The Roots, and even Jimmy Fallon perform music I’ve been obsessing over for months. Busta Rhymes sings My Shot. Nas nails Wrote My Way Out, driving every word home. Trying to pick a favorite may be impossible, Andra Day’s rendition of Burn has been on repeat for days…it’s gut-wrenchingly good. Like she’s living every word. No wait, it’s definitely Sia belting Satisfied…wow. It’s too hard to choose. I’m obsessed. I was also filled with a swell of motivation and was slightly (a lot) emotional gazing out my window at the DC monuments while listening to the last track. That city always feels like home, an old flame that gets the heart racing.

5. Alert last minute shoppers! Need something amazing for a special kid in your life? Stop by Happy Up in Clayton or Edwardsville, it’s the cutest place and the staff is incredibly helpful. You can say “I need a gift for a 7 year old girl in the $25-30 range” and they will present you with no less than seven great options. Sure they have some of the ‘fancy’ toys, but they have tons of really cool, current trend, reasonably priced toys you’ll have a hard time leaving behind. The owner will show you how anything works, even if it means shooting a bow and arrow across the store (that was for me…it was sweet). They will wrap (for free I think!) and will out of their way to help you find the perfect gift!

Santa and Gingerbread

2016 December 11
by Becky

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The holiday books have been on the shelves for a few weeks, house decorated since Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies baked, and the boys have been patiently waiting to say a personal hello to St. Nick. Our holiday traditions are like second nature now, they just keep getting better each year.

This particular year is a big one for Finn. He understands a lot more, a lot earlier than I thought. Point to a picture of Santa and Finn says, “Santa Claus!” Ask him what Santa says, he’ll tell you “Ho ho ho.” Not too sure how he caught on so quickly.  Maybe it’s because he insists we read him the 1979 classic The Sweet Smells of Christmas, a book saved for us by my parents, twice a day, every day. We’re not huge Santa pushers around here, but he KNOWS about Santa and has no fear. Oh and he sings Frosty The Snowman which may be the cutest thing he’s ever done.

Ethan is also a Santa fan, yet these days I often feel he’s humoring us, especially since this year I’ve worked out a way for Santa to visit us twice, once at home and once at Gaga and Papa’s house in California. His Santa requests at age 6 are purposefully challenging. Case in point, he’s asked for a discontinued Lego set he’s sure only Santa’s elves can make. Santa did, in fact, have to hit up Ebay months ago to make this Christmas wish come true and I cannot wait to see our boy’s face when he opens it.

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We’ve tried a few Santa events around town, the last two years spent at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. We arrive bright and early to do a craft, high five holiday characters, eat breakfast, and see the Big Guy. MOBOT makes the morning really special for everyone by keeping the crowds down and the staff engaged. And this Santa. He’s really wonderful. Ethan hopped right up and started conversing about gifts. I hope he started by saying hello and asking how things are going at the North Pole, but he’d been practicing his list for a few weeks so he probably dove right in.

After a few minutes we sent Finn over. He was very excited and showed not a bit of hesitation. As parents we anticipate these moments with simultaneous exhilaration and dread…what will they do? Freak out? Smile? Cry? So I was in such disbelief over the cuteness taking place before my eyes I didn’t even think to record whatever it was Finn was jabbering at Santa. Maybe it’s better, a private moment.

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When did they get so big? Overnight? How do they know so much? How has so much changed in a year?

We headed downstairs to check out the “choo choos” after breakfast, the Gardenland Express and it’s mossy landscapes never ceasing to amaze us. Ethan likes to do the scavenger hunt, Finn enjoys walking on ledges and knocking over signs and anything else to break rules or cause chaos. But those first five minutes of train gazing, he’s riveted.

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Other holiday traditions happen between everything else. Like opening Christmas pjs on December 1. The boys were so excited to put them on they wore them far too many nights in a row and still very reluctantly throw them in the wash. Though a little pricey, Hanna jams are super soft and never wear out so I can’t wait to buy a matching set each year. They were donned for the first Rudolph viewing and during gingerbread house construction.

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Trader Joe’s provided the base for our creation this year, their “Chalet” involved making our own icing and preassembled sugar people, so it felt extra legit. Or as Ethan claimed, it was a “REAL gingerbread house”. We risked this project on a chilly afternoon post school instead of on a weekend during Finn’s nap…that’s our usual sweet spot for crafty projects. Finn was surprisingly well behaved, though, to Ethan’s utter dismay, very stealthy in his candy snatching.

What else? We did the Garden Glow in the freezing temps—it was as magical as ever. Ethan and I have a date at the Fox for Finding Neverland. The Lego Advent Calendar we scored at LegoLand has proved to be a HUGE hit, building the little figures and arranging them each morning keeps him occupied for at least a half hour. And we’re not done…there will be plenty more to squeeze into these final days of the year.

Two little weeks.
Because somehow two weeks is all we have till the big day.

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What’s your favorite St. Louis Christmas tradition? Do we need it on our list? Please share!