My MONAT Thoughts (An Unbiased Review!!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

About a year ago I began hearing rumblings on Instagram of a new haircare company called Monat - it seemed like everybody was using it.  For the most part I am really unfussy about my hair and don't put a whole lot of thought/effort into it (which many days it looks just like that, ha) so I didn't think too much about trying it.

However, this past Christmas we were home in Illinois and discovered that a family member was selling it.  I was in a bit of a funk with my hair so I decided to give it a try.  I went with their VIP membership, which has an up front cost of $19.99 and requires 3 "flex ship" orders (these are auto ship orders of at least $84).  After looking over their various systems and hair products I ended up choosing the Renew Shampoo and the Smoothing Conditioner, as well as the Blow Out Cream.  I also received the Air Dry Cream as a promotional gift.

I began following their regimen of washing twice and following with the conditioner, and my immediate thoughts were that my hair felt really nice when washing.  The first wash it wouldn't lather/expand much (which is normal for their shampoo) but the second wash the shampoo would really get in there and thicken up, which was nice since I prefer a lather (even though I know they're bad!)  The conditioner worked really well on my tangle-prone hair; as soon as I started working it through it would smooth right out.  I also saw this happen with my 5 year old's fine, curly (also tangle-prone) hair.  A quarter size amount of conditioner would take all of her kinks out.

The Blow Out Cream was my favorite product - my hair would look shiny and smooth after using it, which was about twice a week.  I feel like a lot of blow dry creams can have a sticky, yucky texture, but I really didn't mind the texture of the Monat Blow Out Cream.  It was light and spread through my hair very easily.

I'm not sure what to think of the Air Dry Cream - I used it one day following a shower and I felt like my hair looked really pretty and shiny and had a lot of body.  The next time I used it was after a shower at night, and the following morning my hair looked terrible.  I used it on Hadley's hair once as well and it didn't do her any favors.


I've been using Monat now for three months and I mostly feel pretty "meh" about it.  My hair doesn't look $84-worth-of-shampoo better, not by a long shot.  It mostly looks just like it did when I started using it.  Judge for yourself:

BEFORE (JAN 8, 2018) + AFTER (MARCH 19TH, 2018)

I think I kept expecting to suddenly have this amazingly full, shiny hair, and in my opinion that never happened.  I did experience hair loss, but that could be blamed on postpartum hormones so I will give Monat the benefit of the doubt.


I am committed to using the products now since I signed up for the VIP membership, but truthfully I wish I hadn't signed up for that and had instead bought the products at full price.  I would've spent an extra 15% on the products...but now I'm tied into two more orders with them, and I'm not sure I loved their products enough to spend $180 on them.  My final verdict is that, maybe for some people's hair, it can really transform it - like if your hair was incredibly damaged.  But my hair wasn't, so I think for me it didn't "do" much.  Once I'm through these Monat products....back to my beloved Aveda!

My Breastfeeding Journey - Low Supply, Milk Blisters & Bottle Rejection

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How's that for a subject line??  Haha.  I had to draw you in!  Anyway, I've wanted to share about my experience with breastfeeding Harper for some time now - obviously to share about what I've gone through in case it might help others - because I love looking back at how things were with Hadley, and am afraid that I'm dropping the ball in the record-keeping department with Harper.  #secondchildsyndrome

With Hadley, I wasn't able to breastfeed exclusively due to low supply, but I did supplementally nurse her for about three months.  Once I got pregnant with Harper, I was so dang determined to breastfeed her, and was certain that my low supply with Hadley was due to having a c-section.  I did all the reading about breastfeeding, bought all the supplies and was ready to put that baby to the boob the second she came out (after my successful VBAC!)

Well, it didn't work quite like that.  She came out weighing 8 lbs 2oz, but just two days after her birth she was down almost a whole pound (just like Hadley.)  To say I was devastated was an absolute understatement.  I remember sitting in the hospital with the sweetest lactation consultant after they had just gotten done weighing her, and hearing that the doctor wanted us to start supplementing with formula right away, and just crying and crying as the nurse prepared the bottle of formula for her.

So at a few days old, we started supplementing with formula.  It was an exhausting month - nursing her, then giving her a bottle of formula, then pumping, and starting it all over again like an hour later.  During all of this it did seem as though she wasn't satisfied with just the breast, and I was always so discouraged by how little I would pump (the most I would ever pump was maybe 5 ounces combined after a 3-4 hour stretch?)  The formula definitely helped chunk her up, though!

{For the record, I never minded giving her formula because I thought it was bad for her.  I just wanted to be able to feed her all on my own.  I mean, the stuff stinks to high heaven but I'm all about just feeding your baby.}

We spent the summer following this routine, and come early August we went to spend a weekend at Brad's family lake house.  Harper was just over 3 months old and for whatever reason, she was an absolute wreck that weekend.  I think there was so much commotion with so many people that she was on overload, so I spent a LOT of time in the bedroom nursing her.  Once the weekend was over, I realized that I had only given her a tiny bit of formula and that she had seemed pretty content.  I contacted the lactation consultant we had worked with and arranged to do some weight checks throughout the next few weeks and just see how she would gain if she was just on my milk.

Lo and behold, she continued to gain even as we pulled back on the formula.  I had tried taking supplements to increase my supply - I had done ALL THE THINGS, actually: supplements, oatmeal, gatorade, essential oils, breast name it, I tried it - and the only thing I found that made my milk more plentiful was drinking lots of water.

Within a month, and by 4 months old, Harper was exclusively being breastfed.  I was absolutely shocked and elated that for whatever reason, my milk had ended up being enough for her.  I have NO idea why my milk is so scant in the first month or so, but it is.  I also gave up the pumping/bottles because it was just more work than anything, plus I figured it was best for her to get as much milk from me as she could. This ended up being a bit of a mistake, ha.

So fast forward to today - she's 9 months old and is obsessed with nursing, which is both a good and bad thing.  I have dealt with milk blisters (which....OUCH - it's basically a blister on your nipple.  sorry for the #TMI), the low supply and still needing to supplement very, very occasionally (thanks to my sister in law, who is a milk making machine! We've been able to supplement with breast milk, which is a huge blessing) and now we're dealing with the fact that I'm about ready to be done but Harper is just not.  And the worst part is that she's really not a fan of bottles.  Honestly, if she would take a bottle easily, I would probably start the weaning process.

I think for me, the hardest part with breastfeeding is that I am not one of those fortunate women that loses tons of weight while nursing.  I think because I make just barely enough for her that my body holds onto literally every single calorie it gets.  This has been more than a little discouraging, because it turns into this internal battle of "what's more important - baby being fed by me or mama feeling good about herself?"  There's no easy answer as both of those things are so important....but for now I keep choosing to feed her.  But that's also because she won't take a bottle, lol.

But even with all of the hard parts - the low supply, blisters, constant attachment, and not losing weight - I wouldn't trade any of it for a second.  It has been so rewarding to me to know that I'm her food source, and that there's literally nothing more nutritious on earth than breastmilk.  I love that I can soothe her when she's hurt or upset, and that her physical connection with me is the last thing she experiences before she goes to sleep every night.

That said...if anyone has any tips on weaning a very attached baby - cause I have a feeling she'll be very attached even at a year old - please let me know, haha!  And if anyone reading this is struggling with any of these things, please feel free to reach out to me - I LOVE talking breastfeeding and am a completely open book!

10 Things

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I've been blogging for years but I figured that, if you were new around here, it might be nice to get a glimpse into who I am, a little bit about my life and why I'm blogging.  I love reading these kinds of bullet-point lists cause it gives you a little overhead look into someone's life - so here's mine.

Does anybody have anything in common?  I can imagine that there's quite a few folks that also hate cold weather this time of year, ha!  Share with me! 

Photo Drop + New Fave Product!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I gotta say that blogging feels so strange to me again!  Does anybody else ever feel like they've been ruined for blogs by Instagram?  I remember years back when I loved to read blogs about peoples lives...about their families, their friends, social lives, recipes they liked, places they traveled if anybody blogs it's all about their latest purchases and their "obsessions" and things they love.  

If I'm being honest I'll admit that it intimidates me to start blogging again because that just won't be me.  I'm a city-girl-turned-small-town-mama and the nearest Nordstrom is 3 hours away and I would die of embarrassment to ask a local photographer to take pictures of me around town in fancy clothes...not to mention that I'd likely see someone I know and die of embarrassment all over again :) 

So now that that's out of the way, I can get on with it all.  If you want links to Nordstrom and other fancy stores, you're at the wrong place!  But I'm happy to tell you all about my simple little life!  


First things first - I'm 36 years old and I suddenly am looking at myself in the mirror like...."Hello, who are you, ya old lady?!?"  I have wrinkles and lines!  Ick.  Young WILL catch up to you so start now with your eye cream and nightly moisturizing!  So I did some browsing on Amazon and found a product that I've been using for about two weeks and I've been really pleased with the results!  This is it: 

I chose it because it is Retinol free, which is hard to find in many anti-aging skincare products.  I didn't want the Retinol in it because studies have shown Retinol to alter DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors.  

Here's my results, just two weeks apart!  Obviously there is no magic product that will completely get rid of fine lines and wrinkles (don't let those Rodan + Fields Before & After pics on FB fool you), but I've been impressed with how things have smoothed out a little.  Bonus, I've also been using it on my hands cause they were looking wrinkly too, and they've definitely improved!  

Here's the link to the product - Baebody Eye Gel 


Here's the "before" shot - I've actually been using Monat (review for that coming soon!) while I don't think it looked terrible, I really wanted to brighten things up a little bit.  

And after!  The natural light outside makes it look a little brighter than it does indoors...I wish I would've went a little lighter on the ombre effect.  Maybe next time.  


Last week we had a beautiful 40 degree day and I was able to get outside for a walk with Harper.  It was amazing.  It was also amazing cause she fell asleep and I wheeled her right into the house in the stroller.  As of this week she's now taking naps (ALL THE PRAISE HANDS!) thanks to a very rough week of cry-it-out.  It was tough but worth it for both of us.  

Snuggling with Daddy.  I took this pic cause seriously this girl fall asleep with anybody else but me.  For me, there ain't a chance of her falling asleep unless I'm feeding her.  But pretty much anyone else can snuggle her and she'll pass out.  It's totally unfair.

Last week I got to see a girlfriend's baby for the first time!  This friend and I go way back and it was so fun to meet her little man and have our babies play together.  He's exactly one month older than Harper and they were just so dang cute together.  She couldn't quite keep up with him...but she tried and it was adorable.

There ya go, my first dump in like two years!  Here's to many more!

Hello 2018!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Hard to believe it's been over two years since I wrote on my little blog here!  Even though blogging appears to have gone by the wayside, I always loved being able to document my daily life.  I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to my old blogs (yes, plural - I've had a few over the years!) to read about this or that - mostly looking back at my pregnancy and monthly stats with Hadley!

Jumping in, we've added a new member to our family!  Our second daughter, Harper, was born in May last year.  We had quite the journey - and story - to her joining our family, which I can't wait to share about.  Otherwise, everything is about the same as it was the last time I wrote, ha!  But I'll update anyway.

Brad is still working in the building industry.  He has developed such an amazing style and has a super sharp eye for design.  He's recently started building his first "spec" house (a house that we'll sell when it's done) and I can't wait to see it when it's all said and done.  It's pretty unique for the area we live in and I think it will sell quickly.  Speaking in faith :)

Hadley is 5 years old and Lord, is she something.  I've never met a sweeter child.  She started Kindergarten this year and even though she complains pretty often about going, she seems to like it alright once she's there!  She's smart as a whip and I'm amazed at how quickly things get pieced together in her mind.  She's still our girly girl that loves to play outside, rough house with her daddy, and now hold her sister (and occasionally boss her around, despite it falling on deaf ears, lol).

Harper just turned 7 months old, I've nicknamed her "bear cub" cause she's just a persistent, temperamental little sweetie pie :)  She's not as chunky as Hadley was (I'm breastfeeding Harper whereas Hadley was on formula), but she's still got some sweet chunk to her that makes her so fun to hold and squeeze.  She is a total - TOTAL - Mama's girl, hates taking naps and has about a 10 minute tolerance for any activity (besides being held by Mom).  Basically she's rocking my world but dang if I don't have this crazy amount of grace and love for her, anyway.

As for me....I'm totally "at home" with the girls now.  I am working a few times a month as a bookkeeper for a local business and am a consultant for Beautycounter, but otherwise my heart and attention is for my girls.  We're pretty involved in our church and I recently helped start our women's ministry, which I never thought I'd love doing but here I am.  They're the most amazing, supportive women and they've made my cold, church-disliking heart love them :)  I volunteer in Hadley's class once a week.  Harper and I visit a local nursing home once a week as well (seriously if you have a baby and time on your hands,  do it!  You would die at how it blesses them).  Otherwise, you can find me cleaning my house or nursing the baby, ha!

I have no clue where this little blog of mine will go, but at any rate, I hope you'll read along!

Current Faves

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is anyone else (stupid question already) SO EXCITED that spring is (pretty-much-but-still-debatable-where-I-live) here?!?!  I've got my windows open - still no screens on them, ha - and we had our morning snack on the porch today and it was glorious.  I'm sure I would take it for granted if I lived in a warm climate, but I can't help but think how amazing it would be to never have to put on winter boots, scrape your windshield (with a CD case, in my experience) of ice and snow, to be able to walk outside in whatever you're wearing with no thought to the temperatures....

I may not experience that this side of heaven but it sure is nice to dream about :)

In honor of my fantastic mood I thought I would share some of my favorite things right now...

//Short Hair Don't Care//

After yesterday's hideous pictures of my skin situation I figured I would post one where I don't look so atrocious.  Anyway, my lob (long bob) as they call it is growing out and I'm actually really loving it.  It's so fun to do messy waves, spray in some Kenra 25 and go.  I'm torn if I'm going to go shorter now that it's gotten longer...especially because even though Brad never makes me feel badly about my choices, I know he prefers my hair long.  BUT after 10+ years of long hair and five years of marriage, I figure it's my prerogative.  Right???

//Entry Way//

This is our mostly-finished entry way and I love it.  Love it, love it!  I still want to put a few pillows on the bench to shorten the distance between the pictures/mirror and the bench, but other than that it's all done.
I think my favorite piece is the shelf that Brad built using the piping.  It's a trendy look that's popping up all over Pinterest and the blogs, and I'm not sure it will look quite so cool in a couple years....but for now I love it and think it looks so fitting in our slightly-modernized entry.

//Hadley Kate//

I am always lovin' this girl!  She's been so fun lately and is blowing me away with how dang smart she is.  Disclaimer, I have no idea if it's considered "on milestone" or not, it could be completely normal - but there's something about seeing your own child soaking in and retaining information that is just amazing.  But anyway, the girl knows all her colors and shapes, definitely knows her alphabet and we're working on counting to 20 (she's got 1-15 down solid).  She's in the cutest phase right now where if I do anything at all, like give her food/a drink, pick something up for her, wipe her bottom (ha), she'll go, "Thank ya, momma!" Tickles me every time.
It does not tickle me when I have to tell her forty-seven times to pick up a toy or come back here or don't ride your bike into the wall.  We're working on listening the first time and it's been a little tough on both of us...but I'm believing it will pay off in the end :)
And also...even though that hair gives me grief pretty much on a daily basis, I love it.

//Cookouts + Campfires//

Once springtime hits, Brad and I are total outdoor people.  We grill out as often as we can, and now that we have a big 'ol house, we're planning to have lots of people over for cookouts and campfires!  We're starting tonight by having a big group of family over for a cookout since Brad's brother is in town from North Dakota.  We're grilling up brats and burgers and I'm making a big batch of Texas Caviar, and everyone's bringing food and's gonna be good!

Rosacea Sucks & An (UNPAID) Review of Rodan + Fields SOOTHE

Monday, March 30, 2015

So.  This is what my face suddenly looked like one day last month:

I've always had a naturally redder complexion, but this was way redder and bumpier than anything I had ever experienced.  Also, the bumps weren't like acne bumps, they were more like a rash.  I tried eliminating a few things from my diet, thinking it was maybe an allergy, but nothing helped.  I was SO puzzled and frustrated cause it literally happened overnight and I had no idea what to do about it.

I did some Googling and saw that Rodan + Fields carried a line called "SOOTHE" that is intended for people dealing with redness.  Taken from their website, it is "clinically proven to reduce redness and irritation in as little as five minutes."  Plus there's millions of reviews (c/o, I might add) online that say it worked SO well to reduce redness and irritation.

I bought some immediately.  And let me tell ya....this stuff ain't cheap.  But I figured it would be worth the cost to try something specially formulated for what I was dealing with.

The regimen for Rodan + Fields SOOTHE is to use the face wash followed by a Sensitive Skin Treatment, and then a Moisture Replenishing Cream.  And finally, in the morning you're supposed to follow up with Step 4, which is a sunscreen.  This is the whole line here:

The upside of using this product is that it didn't ever burn or irritate my skin further; it does seem to be very gentle.  It also made my skin softer and made it appear a little healthier in the places it wasn't so red (which was mostly my cheeks).

But - I tried it for three weeks and the bottom line is that it didn't work at all for me.  My skin was just as red and bumpy when I stopped using it as when I started using it.  So based on that, I'm not sure I would recommend it for others dealing with redness.

Since the Rodan + Fields didn't work, I was fortunate enough to be going home to Illinois, which is where my best friend lives.  The really great thing is that my best friend is a Physician's Assistant, so if I'm home and I need a diagnosis for something (like an ear infection for Hadley or whatnot) I can usually have her call in a prescription.  She looked at my face and immediately said that it was probably Rosacea.

Rosacea, in case you didn't know, is one giant pain in the butt.  It tends to appear in your 30's and there's no cure for it.  It also seems to be triggered by certain things, like alcohol, temp changes or the sun.  It tends to flare up at different times, as well.  I have no clue what triggered mine.

So, point of the story is that Steph (best friend) saved the day by calling in a prescription for Metronidazole 0.75%.

Literally with one day my skin was clearing up.  After using it for two weeks, I'm happy to report a HUGE difference.  Here's a little side-by-side:

I'll be honest, I'm a little worried because the Metronidazole (as with any rosacea medication) tends to lose effectiveness after a while, but the good news is that I'm really only using it every other day, once a day, and it's still working well, so I suppose I could just increase my usage if it flares up again.   Or try a different prescription...but since we don't have prescription coverage (self employed health insurance FTW!) I'm not sure how viable of an option that is, as these scripts all tend to be pretty pricey.

If anyone else has any great tips and tricks to help deal with rosacea, send them my way!!  

And I should add about the Rodan + Fields: I realize that my facial redness was probably due to something entirely different than what it claims to help.  But my opinion is that redness is redness, and it really didn't do anything at all to help with mine, even after reading different accounts online of people with rosacea using it successfully.
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