the sparkly life

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Power of A Shower

self-care sundayself-care sunday

best drugstore body wash
best drugstore beauty products

Self-care is a big buzzword these days. And it's important! And good! But let's be honest: As a mom (and, really, as a human, working woman who has to #GSD), I don't always have time to carve out hours for a lengthy bath, a face-mask session, and a Netflix marathon. But a shower? Treating myself to a really, really good shower? That I can manage.

Good showers have become my self-care. And I make the most of them. Today I've partnered with BJ's Wholesale Club (which offers your favorite beauty brands at a great value and in bulk so you never run out) to show you how to make the most of your shower. Here's how I do it.

-Set the scene. I like to dim the lights in my bathroom, which somehow instantly makes any shower seem way more relaxing. You could even light a candle with a soothing scent and leave it burning on your counter.  I also love to listen to music or a favorite podcast through a shower speaker. (Now, obviously you're not going to do these things every single time you shower--sometimes you just need to get in and out quickly--but when you have an extra few minutes, these little things do make a difference!)

-Suds up with a great body wash. There are many amazing high-end ones, but really, your body wash doesn't need to be fancy. For instance, Dove is one of my all-time favorites. It smells clean and fresh, it leaves my skin soft, and it's cheap. Case in point: I picked up three ginormous bottles of Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash at BJ's for $15.49. (In other words, I'll be self-care showering with these for many, many months to come!)

-Turn your shampoo into a spa treatment. A good shampoo is nice; a good shampoo that smells spa-like is even better. I love Love Beauty and Planet Smooth Serene Shampoo and Conditioner. (Have you guys heard of this new line, BTW? I got a sneak peek at it last year and I'm really loving it!) Anyway, the shampoo and conditioner are moisturizing, frizz-smoothing, and they smell like lavender, which is always an instant stress-reliever for me. I leave the conditioner on as a mini mask for a few minutes, while I wash my body, shave my legs, etc., then rinse just before I get out. 

-Sneak in a scrub. Even though I've been a beauty editor for the last ten-plus years, I'm the worst when it comes to exfoliating. I can never remember to do it! (And when I do remember, it's pretty much the last thing I feel like doing.) That's why I've started storing my face scrubs in the shower. For some reason that makes the whole thing feel like much less of a chore. (It's also much less messy!) Right now I'm using a classic: Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub, which is gentle, dermatologist-recommended, and just about $15 for a three-pack at BJ's.

-Finish strong. I'm so guilty of skipping body lotion, but my skin is so much happier (and softer!) when I take the extra ten seconds to use it. One of my favorite dermatologist tips: Apply it literally right after you step out of the shower, when your skin is still damp. This way, you'll lock in all that moisture and your skin will be so much silkier and more hydrated. Two of my go-tos that come in value packs at BJ's: Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe and Jergens Ultra Healing.

Thank you to BJ's for partnering with me on this post. Are you a BJ's member? If not, here's a cool deal: You can get a $25 gift card just for signing up! Click here for more info.

Friday, May 4, 2018

My Little Boy Turns Five Today

My boy is turning five years old today! Which I think means my little boy is officially a big boy. And big or little, he is all boy. He is full of energy--and opinions. He is a class clown (or maybe the class pest?). He is challenging. He is creative. He is hilarious. And he is also the sweetest little guy I have ever met. He freely hands out random and constant hugs, kisses, and "I love you"'s

Boys love their mamas; it's so true what they say. And the feeling is so, so mutual. 

Nate, you're my best, my smartest, and my most handsome boy. Happy birthday. I love you so much.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Here's The Surprising Thing You Need to Consider When Choosing A Preschool

tribeca preschool
tribeca kindercare

Back when I was initially searching for a preschool, I didn't know much about what I was supposed to be looking for, but I did have a few basic requirements. I wanted a school with great teachers. I wanted one that fostered a love of learning. And I wanted a place where kids could be kids and would have a chance to learn through play. 

But there was another huge criteria (one that I now know is one of the most important, if not the most important characteristics) that I wasn't really even considering at the time: You want a preschool that's close to your home. 

tribeca kindercare

Sounds simple, right? But when I say I wasn't really even considering this advice, I mean I was practically ignoring it. During my two preschool searches (we lived in Brooklyn for my daughter's first year of preschool and then moved to Hoboken starting with her second), I was considering schools that were both just a few blocks away from our home, as well as schools that were in Manhattan, i.e. a river (and a train ride!) away. 

When we were in Brooklyn, we chose the neighborhood school, but when we were in Hoboken, we came thisclose to picking the Manhattan school solely because it was considered "better" (which basically meant celebrities' kids went there). In the end--after an agonizing decision that included tears and major anxiety--we ended up choosing the local school, and I'm so thankful we did. Our lives would have been very different (and, honestly, so much more difficult and really worse in so many ways) had we gone with the further school.

biergarten kids

And here's why preschool is all about location, location, location: Your family's life is going to revolve around your school. Big time. Not only will you be dealing with the daily drop-off and pick-up, which is obviously made infinitely easier by living close by, but having your kids' friends living close makes it so much easier to do an afterschool or weekend playdate and even attend a birthday party. It's also really nice when your school is in your neighborhood and you see friends (and even teachers!) every time you're walking around town. This all fosters a real sense of community and closeness that I'm so happy we have.

But here's the part no one thinks about: It's not just about your kids and their friends. It's about you and the parents of your kids' friends, too. Because believe it or not, they are going to become your social circle.
kindercare tribeca

luau party

This is not something I ever considered before having kids, but surprise! Your kid's school is where you will now make your friends. Remember how easy it was to make friends when you were in school? And then later in college and in your first job? But after that, making new friends becomes so much harder for adults, right? But once your kid goes to school, suddenly you'll have a group of parents that you see over and over again, whether it's during school dropoff, at birthday parties, at back-to-school nights, or (if you're lucky) at extracurricular get-togethers, events, and outings planned by your school.


This has been such a pleasant surprise for me. I chat daily about big and little things with a group of several moms in my daughter's class, and more and more, these are the women I grab a drink with or celebrate birthdays with. Our husbands are friends, too, so we do things as couples sometimes, and of course, often with our kids, as well. We even went on our most recent vacation with a family we met through our school; they have become great friends. School has really opened up an entire new world of local friends for both my kids and for me, and that has been such an awesome, rewarding, and surprising bonus.

tribeca kindercare

tribeca kindercare
For this reason, I think it's really important to choose local schools that really value bringing people together and creating that sense of community. Recently, I told you about KinderCare and their new Tribeca Learning Center, and some of the things I love about it. But one aspect that I hadn't had a chance to mention was that community is very important to them, too. 

Not only do they have a great preschool curriculum for the kids, but they are committed to planning fun activites for the parents, too! For example, they are going to be holding enrichment events and workshops on the weekends (with childcare!) where parents can get together, learn, and socialize, as well as special "parent night out" events where KinderCare's childcare providers will watch the kids late into the evening, so the parents can go out and spend time with other parents. 

KinderCare's Tribeca Learning Center is also close to my heart, quite simply, because it's in Tribeca, which is where we lived when my daughter was born. We moved to Brooklyn when she was about seven months old, but I have so many amazing memories of those early months whether it was strolling with her for hours through the loft-lined streets, taking her to Barnes & Noble for storytime, meeting up for "playdates" with other moms in Washington Market Park (which is directly across from the KinderCare location!), and so much more. Tribeca is truly an amazing area for families, and I'm so happy they have such a great new neighborhood option for daycare and for preschool.

KinderCare Education is a child care provider and learning center with locations across the country.
If you'd like more information about KinderCare Education or its brand-new Tribeca Learning Centerclick here!

Thank you to KinderCare for partnering with me on this post.




Friday, April 27, 2018

13 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today


If you follow my Instagram Stories, you know that I spent yesterday at a big toy show called TTPM with my daughter. It's kind of heaven for little kids, because you get a peek at the brand-new (and soon-to-launch) toys and you leave with a killer gift bag. (FYI, I always let my kids choose one or two toys to keep, and then we put the rest in storage until December when we donate it to a holiday toy drive.) 

There was a ton of great stuff at the show, including the feminist backpack shown above from 7AM Enfant. I need one for my daughter--and maybe one for myself, too!  (Side note: Would you be interested in seeing some of our favorite toys from the show? Maybe in a gift-idea post?) 

This weekend we've got some fun family things planned, plus I'll be working on some DIY projects for my son's upcoming birthday party. Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you make it a great one. Here's a few fun links to check out in the meantime.

• Speaking of Insta Stories, you may have seen me rave on there about my new Rothy's camo loafers. I'm obsessed! They are so comfy, so cute, and they are made from (get this) recycled water bottles! (You would never know though. Somehow they feel like cloth.) Anyway, if you're interested, you can get $20 off your first purchase if you use this link.

• Um, how cute is this breezy, $105 romper?

• This maxi dress is so pretty. Feel like it would be so easy to dress it up or down.

• Always looking for good sleeveless tops that I can wear with jeans, and this one is such a cute twist on a basic shape. (Love that it's under $100, too!)

• Need these slip-on sneakers. Love the thick gold stripe and the fact that they're just around $50 bucks!

• I made this cauliflower rice earlier this week and it was the best I've ever had. SO. GOOD.

• What do you do when you find out your dad isn't really your dad? My friend Kelsey wrote a beautiful piece for Refinery 29 about how those ancestry DNA tests completely changed her life.

• This post from Landyn makes me want to go on a Disney Cruise!

• The actress who plays Anna in the Broadway production of Frozen had a panic attack and couldn't go on stage. Absolutely loved her honesty and openness about it.

• I couldn't stop watching this video of New York in 1911. You so rarely seen moving images from this time period--and perhaps never as high-quality as this--so it's really, really cool to watch. People from the Victorian era...they're just like us! 

• This story about a troop of homeless (!) Girl Scouts really moved me, so I forced myself (heh, heh) to support them by buying cookies from them online. Note to self: Buy more Samoas next time.

• Pretty much every one of my Facebook friends were posting this funny New Yorker piece about having it all, so you may have seen it, but if not, it's definitely worth checking out!

• For me--and pretty much anyone currently working in magazines--ed2010 was a godsend that helped launch my career. So it was with a heavy heart that I read this poignant piece about why they are discontinuing their formation of college chapters. It's very sad, but also a realistic sign of the times. It's hard to accept, but magazines are dead, guys. And on that note...

Have a great weekend! ;)







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Friday, April 20, 2018

Run Don't Walk: Sephora Is Having A Beauty Sale!

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I love beauty products. You love beauty products. But the super annoying thing about beauty products is that they pretty much never go on sale. That's why I was excited to hear about a secret, once-a-year sale happening at Sephora (!) right now. It's happening today April 20th through April 23rd. 

The deal: Beauty Insiders will get 10 percent off their entire purchase, and those who've reached VIB status (achieved once you've spent at least $350) get 15 percent off. Here are the codes:

Insider code: YAYINSIDER for 10 percent off
VIB code: YAYVIB for 15 percent off

If you haven't joined Sephora's Insider program, it's kind of a no-brainer. It's free, you earn points for every purchase (that can then be redeemed for products), and you'll get you access to cool sales and discounts like this one. You can also sign up instantly if you just want to do the sale today. You do it right here.

*And by the way, this is not an ad or a sponsored post for Sephora. I'm just sharing the beauty love! :)

Basically, this rare sale is a great time to stock up on your go-to products, to try some new stuff, or to nab something expensive (like the Dyson blowdryer!) at a discount. 

Here's a few of my favorites to get you started. Happy shopping!

MAKEUP


The all-time most-flattering eyeshadow palettesmoky eyes made easy, my current favorite mascara, and more.


SKINCARE

Best. Peel. Ever., invisible sunscreen, my fave face wipes, the vitamin C product I swear by, and more.

HAIR


Travel-friendly hair masks, pros love this flatiron, the blowdryer that cuts your drying time in half, etc.

BODY AND FRAGRANCE

Favorite spray sunscreen, heavenly-smelling shower gel, Chloe's gorg new fragrance, and more.

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Now tell me: What are some of your beauty favorites that I have to try next??

Monday, April 16, 2018

I Want This Cute Spring Stuff (And You Will, Too!)


It may be gross and rainy today, but for two days this past weekend, we had a glimpse of spring! And it was glorious! But it also reminded me that I hate all the warm-weather clothes I already own (isn't that always the case?!) and need some new stuff. The items below are on my current wishlist--there's spring dresses that will take you straight into summer, pretty sandals, and more. (Just click on any of the photos for more details.) 

And while I love everything shown, here's a few standouts that top my list:

Slouchy grey bag - My current everyday bag is on its last legs. I love the shape of this one and the color (neutral enough to wear with everything, but still light and spring-y), and I looove the price. $59! Sure, it's not real leather, but no one has to know that but us, right?

Blue cutout dress - I love that the cutouts are teeny and in an area that's not super revealing. (Because no one--including me--needs a front view of my tummy.) And it's $50!

Tassel sandals - Obsessed with these! I like that they're neutral so they go with everything (no crazy weirdo colors), that they're flat/comfy, and that they aren't ridiculously pricey. 

Embroidered dress - This would be so pretty and breezy on a warm day (maybe with the sandals above?). I like that it's roomy and just so easy to throw on.

Dinosaur sweatshirt - The softest sweatshirt with the cutest pastel dino print. Too cute.

Off-the-shoulder top - The crochet on this under-$100 white top is really pretty and I love the off-the-shoulder silhouette. Love this with jeans for drinks with friends or date night.

What's your fave thing on  my list? And is it warm yet where you live? Tell me so I can live vicariously!







Monday, April 9, 2018

Here's How to Choose the Right Preschool If You're a Working Mom

kindercare tribeca

Being a mom is tough. And being a working mom is even harder. There's the futile attempt to balance it all. There's the fatigue. There's the inevitable spit up or random Paw Patrol sticker on your work clothes. (...That you notice only after giving a big presentation, of course.) And perhaps worst of all, there's the near-constant guilt brought on by the gnawing sense that you're missing out on things because you can't be there for every single precious moment.

The guilt starts the moment you have to leave your child with someone new to go back to work after maternity leave (one of the hardest things you'll deal with as a mom in those first few months!). And I'm here to tell you that, yes, that guilt is still there, years later, even when your kids are in pre-K and second grade! 
kindercare tribeca

I'm also here to tell you that those guilty feelings can be greatly alleviated by finding a great childcare provider for your baby, and later a wonderful school for your kids. Yes, it's still tough, and no, it's never easy, but when you know they're taken care of, you'll feel better. I promise. 

For today's post, I've partnered with KinderCare Education, a child care provider and learning center with locations across the country (including a beautiful, brand new Learning Center here in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood!). My children did not attend KinderCare, but I love their inclusive approach to education, and I very much share their goal of raising children to become lifelong learners.

kindercare tribeca


So if you, too, are a working mom, here's five things I suggest thinking about when choosing a child care center or preschool for your kids:

1) Make sure you love where they're going to be spending their day.
This one seems obvious, but it's really a non-negotiable. If you're feeling iffy about the nanny, daycare center, or school where you're leaving them, you'll feel bad every time you drop them off. Choosing a preschool is an incredibly important decision that affects the next several years of your child's life, so make sure you love the one you go with! I always felt so incredibly comfortable with our nanny--and, later, with the preschools we chose--so that was one less worry for me. Look for caregivers and teachers with loving personalities who are experts with kids. Seek out great, well-maintained facilities with stimulating toys and a strong preschool curriculum. I always knew my kids were loved, safe, happy, and engaged with the people they were with, and the environment they were in, and that made all the difference. 

2) Look for a school that provides constant contact. 
When it comes to my kids, you can't share too much information with me. I've always hated the feeling of sitting in my office, and wondering, "Did my baby eat well today?" "My kid was crying when I dropped her off--is she still upset?" "It's 12pm, WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING WITH HER NOW?" My nanny was great about texting me photos of my kids throughout the day, and I was lucky that the school we chose for my daughter's first preschool sent us a daily email update, complete with photos, that detailed her day. But I really love KinderCare Education's approach: They use an app to provide updates, photos, and videos to parents throughout the day. (How cool is that?) You can even sign up for push notifications if you're the type who wants to be alerted IMMEDIATELY every time your baby takes her bottle or has a poopy diaper. 

school chalkboard sign

3) Extended hours are key.
What working mom hasn't felt the stress of being stuck on a stalled subway (or in rush-hour traffic) watching the minutes tick by and knowing you're going to be late to pick up your kid? That's why picking a school or childcare center with extended hours makes a huge difference. Our current school has extended hours from 8am to 6pm, which is good, but honestly not great. (I've never worked somewhere where it wasn't frowned upon to leave earlier than 6pm, so everyone I know has to have at least a part-time babysitter who can pick up the kids after school and watch them until the parents get home.) So I was honestly floored when I saw that the KinderCare Tribeca Learning Center's hours are 6am to 9pm! Hours like that mean that you wouldn't need the afternoon nanny or babysitter, which is kind of amazing. I also love that they offer optional on-site after-school activities (think music, soccer, etc) to keep the kids busy for those extra hours between the end of school and pickup time. 

4) Meal services make your life infinitely easier.
I have the fancy lunchboxes. I've given up precious sleep to wake up early and pack lunches. I have the requisite Pinterest board with cute, interesting lunch ideas to entice my picky kids to eat. But you know what is so much easier? Having the school do the work! That's why I highly suggest choosing a school that offers a meal service. (KinderCare's Tribeca Learning Center does this, and our own school does, as well.) With the one at my kids' school, you can pick from dozens of healthy lunch options in advance, and then they're waiting for the kids at school each day, and let me tell you, this has been such a gamechanger. Your kid gets a healthy, hot lunch--and you don't have to slave over putting it together yourself. We love it so much that we actually get the school lunch every day for my daughter, and twice a week for my son. 

tribeca kindercare

5) Open-door policies are a must.
If any school or childcare center is weird about having you visit the facility, consider that a red flag. You want to be able to stop in and see what's going on whenever you feel like it, and any good school or daycare should make you feel welcome to do this. At Kindercare, parents are encouraged to come in to visit their kids at any time, which I love. Moms can even stop in over lunch (or whenever) to breastfeed their babies, which is just amazing. I so wish I had had that option back when I was still nursing! Going back to work would have been so much easier if I had been able to visit for a midday feed or a quick snuggle. Oh well. Maybe for baby #3. (KIDDING!)

If you'd like more information about KinderCare Education or its new Tribeca Learning Center, (which, opens April 16th, and honestly, is amazing--huge, spotless, and beautiful), click here!

Thank you to KinderCare for partnering with me on this post.