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Electra Magenta with stamping

Electra Magenta is one of my newer China Glaze polishes. When I saw the swatch of this I just had to have it! This mani was inspired by the mani Ordinary Misfit did here. Although Electra Magenta is not a true holographic polish, it has a scattered holographic effect. I also used essence free hugs to stamp with.

 

I started off with my usual base coat of Tip Top Miraculous Results and painted 2 coats of Electra Magenta on all my nails. The formula on this polish was ok. It didn’t bald as badly as my other scattered holographic China Glaze polishes on the second stroke. I painted a coat of Seche Vite to quickly dry the polish so I could stamp over it. I used my PUEEN 39 image plate and stamped the top image on all my nails using essence free hugs. I was a little disappointed by the results. Once again there just wasn’t enough contrast between the stamping and the polish for you to really see the stamp. It was slightly better in direct sunlight or when taking pictures with the flash on, but not fantastic. I did, however, absolutely love the Electra Magenta colour, which is saying a lot since I’m not necessarily a fan of purple polish. Purple may be my favourite colour, but when it comes to polish I’m more drawn towards pink. ¬†Anyways, here are the results. I took close up pics so you could “see” the stamping ūüėõ

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Indoors

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With the flash

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In the sunlight

 

I really need to start picking colours that contrast properly so that you can actually see the stamping without looking really, really closely, closing our left eye, hopping on one leg and whistling through your bum. ¬†Despite my contrast woes, I enjoyed wearing this mani. It also wore really well. I didn’t have one chip or any tip wear 4 days into it when I took it off to do my next one. I might add that I was on leave while wearing this so wasn’t banging my nails on a keyboard for a good 8 hours a day.

 

What do you think? Do you like ‘invisible’ stamping where it is so subtle it is almost pointless? ūüėõ

Breastfeeding – 1 year

Just like Gabby’s first birthday sneaked up on me, so did our 1 year breastfeeding anniversary.

 

I was one of those people who didn’t know where to look when faced with a breastfeeding mother. I was one of those people who thought people who breastfed their babies beyond 6 months are weird. I was one of those people who tried to breastfeed and gave up after 3 weeks. I was one of those people who thought breastfeeding hurt. I was one of those people who wanted to breastfeed purely for the possible weight loss benefits. I have walked through the looking glass and now I’m on the other side.

 

Going to La Leche League and finding a strong support structure got us to where we are today. I was too scared/shy to go to a meeting alone, so I roped a friend into going with me. I started attending meetings once a month, 3 months before I was due. I only fit in two meetings before my baby was born, but at that point I had already bonded with my La Leche League leader, Kim, and had her on speed dial.

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It wasn’t easy. It was hard. Our journey got off to a rocky start facing jaundice and pediatricians who wanted to pump her full of sugar water and formula to get rid of the jaundice. She also stopped pooing for days at a time (up to 10 days sometimes!) in those early weeks. Kim came to see me at home after Gabby was born. She checked our latch and said everything seemed fine. I needed the reassurance (not all leaders do home visits, but some do and they don’t charge).¬†When Gabby was 3 weeks old I faced exactly the same scenario as I had almost 3 years prior and was on the brink of quitting. I was literally sitting breastfeeding Gabby and sobbing at the same time. My husband said ‘Just put her on a bottle then!’ – never one to deal well with a crying woman. I reached out to Kim and she uttered words of wisdom that I will never forget: ‘Never quit on your worst day’. Repeating that mantra to myself over and over got me through that day and you know what? The next day was so much better! If I had quit on that particular day, I would not be telling the same story today. At 3 weeks we were battling with Gabby’s weight gain and she just wasn’t picking up enough. I didn’t want to supplement. I didn’t want to take that route, for fear of it ending our breastfeeding journey abruptly. I was going to a very pro breastfeeding clinic for weigh ins all the way in Panorama. The nurses there were kind and gentle with me, which didn’t help for the tears. They showed me different positions, they weighed her before and after feeding. They were dubious about her weight gain, but supportive at the same time. I went to a different clinic for vaccinations and the nurse there also commented on her weight gain. The exact same clinic I took Elijah to. The exact same scenario. They weren’t 100% happy with the weight gain. All of them squinted at the charts, supportive or not. This was the point where my confidence was at its lowest and where it was easy for me to doubt myself and the path I had chosen for me and my baby. I solicited the help of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) through La Leche League who also came to check our latch at home and to see if Gabby was transferring milk well, which she was. I pushed through. ¬†At our 6 week pediatrician check up I was sent home with a prescription for Eglynol which I gladly accepted, just to make myself feel like I was doing everything I could. That meant the end of my rapid weight loss dream, but I was willing to let go of that in favour of my breastfeeding goals.

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For weeks after that I agonized and worried about Gabby’s weight gain. I continued to doubt myself, because doubting yourself is much easier than believing you can achieve your heart’s desires. I kept on breastfeeding and doing everything I could to keep us going. I attended La Leche League meetings every month and kept in contact with Kim about any questions I had (and there were many!). She really was an amazing cheerleader. Always ready with answers and a kind word. Just what I needed. For 12 weeks I had a baby permanently at my breast. It was frustrating at times. I couldn’t do things, but luckily I realized that nothing was more important at the time. So we lay in bed and fed. I watched series while feeding and napped when she did. Bliss! At our 4 month pediatrician check up I held my breath and waited for the pediatrician to tell me he thinks we should top up with formula. It never came. I walked out of that appointment on cloud 9. I finally felt comfortable and decided not to agonize over it anymore. I also found support from other mothers at La Leche League who had small babies and worried about weight gain.

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At 5 and a half months I had to go back to work and discovered that I am a terrible pumper. My body just doesn’t let down for the pump like it does for my baby. I expressed twice a day at work and managed to get out about 100 ml. This meant I wasn’t able to produce enough milk for Gabby’s feeds for the next day. I was forced to resort to mixed feeding. I cringed at the thought and didn’t want to ‘contaminate’ my baby with formula. Obviously at this point I had been completely transformed into a pro breastfeeding type person. Duh. I raised my son on formula from the age of 3 weeks and he is totally fine! I was forced to make peace with it. I was only two weeks shy of my 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding goal, but the first rule is feed the baby. I gave the day mother all her days with instructions on paced bottle feeding and not feeding the baby too much. We even had a fight about it. Both the day mother and I are non confrontational to the extreme and us having a tiff about this was actually a big deal. In all the time she had Elijah we never had such a disagreement. I was so worried that my milk would no longer satisfy Gabby if she was being overfed with formula or that she would start preferring the flow of the bottle to my breast. Still I persevered.

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She gained a lot of weight on the formula and suddenly I started getting comments (from family) about her being too fat. ¬†Clearly nothing I did was going to make everyone happy. It took a lot of restraint to keep my mouth shut. I was told to give her rooibos tea instead of milk at night so she didn’t gain too much weight. This was when she was 9 months old. Effectively this ill informed family member was telling me to reduce my baby’s calorie intake. Put my baby on a DIET. Was she KIDDING ME? Ok. Clearly I’m still a little angry about that. *deep breath*.

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I’m still a terrible pumper. In fact, now Gabby is refusing my expressed milk (which is normal for babies from a certain age) and the time has finally come for me to wean myself from the breast pump so that I can stop expressing during the day. I must say expressing has always been a chore for me, especially since she isn’t drinking my milk and it feels like a waste of time. I’ll be sending my freezer stash to the day mother for her to attempt as she generally has better luck getting Gabby to drink milk than Rudi does. I built up the freezer stash freezing the fruits of my labour when she was drinking formula at the day mother. I would send some frozen milk with her if she was sick to help her get better, so I don’t have much as she would deplete whatever I sent in a day or two. Sometimes 2/3 weeks worth of expressed milk. Poof. Gone.

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I may not have lost a radical amount of weight while breastfeeding, but it has definitely stabilized my weight and prevented me from gaining. I am a couple of kilos below my pre-pregnancy weight and didn’t even really gain over the festive season. Not all women dramatically lose weight when breastfeeding. Some lucky ones do.

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That aside, it has been so utterly rewarding. It is the most amazing relationship I have ever had with another human being. I absolutely love how she is immediately comforted when she latches on, no matter what has happened. Even after she fell off the bed and hit her face on a wooden chair on the way down, she latched and it was over. She was howling because she was overtired, she latched and it was over. She lost her balance and knocked her head on the hard tiles, she latched and it was over. She got a big fright and started crying when her brother accidentally bumped her, she latched and it was over. I used to struggle to comfort Elijah as a baby, no dummy could ever comfort him the way my breast comforts her. I have gotten so much more sleep with her than I did with him too. Co-sleeping and dreamfeeding have been a Godsend sleep wise.

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Here we are. A year later. I finally feel like I’ve done it. I finally feel like I have conquered breastfeeding (better late than never) and now I’m the weirdo who wants to let my child self wean. On this journey I have also managed to encourage and support a friend who has now been breastfeeding for two months.

 

If you are contemplating it, know this: You are not meant to be able to do it alone. You need support. You need help. The saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ didn’t come from nowhere. Reach out. Get help. YOU CAN DO IT! Also, ‘Never quit on your worst day’! La Leche League is a great group of like minded moms and it is free. They will do anything to help you breastfeed. You may even make some friends.

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We are entering a phase of breastfeeding which will have its challenges. We will face adversity, judgement and criticism as society frowns upon toddlers breastfeeding (despite the World Health Organization recommending breastfeeding up to 2 years). I will persevere! ¬†I’ve become more and more comfortable with breastfeeding with other people around and nursing a toddler is very different from nursing a newborn. Here’s to the next year!

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Gabby’s 1st Birthday

We decided to keep things low key for Gabby’s first birthday. Her birthday falls on the 2nd of January, which is an awkward time for parties. At a later stage I’ll combine the kid’s birthdays, but since it was her first birthday I wanted her to have something just for herself. Sanita and I decided on Tatty Teddy for the theme and it was pretty easy to cater for as Tatty Teddy is everywhere at the moment. I invited the family and one or two friends over for tea and cake. All in all we had a lovely day. Now I’m going to photo bomb you. I did post the full set of photos on my Facebook page here.

 

Gabby 2

Tea Table

Gabby 3

Decorations

 

Gabby 1

Gabby and I

Gabby 4

Gabby and her paternal grandmother

Gabby 5

Blowing the candles (with help from big brother and mommy)

Gabby 6

Cake meets face

Gabby 7

Do I have something on my face?

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Man that was exhausting!

 

The tea was lovely, the cake delicious. We really enjoyed the day together. Her birthday also marked our 1 year breastfeeding anniversary. I’m so proud of us!

 

Of course, my nails had to match the occasion:

 

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Cupcake Nails

 

I can’t believe she is one already. It has all happened so fast. I’m trying to enjoy the milestone without being too sad that my baby is no more a baby.

 

Thanks for all the wishes that came through for her on her birthday!

 

2013 You Beauty

As 2013 draws to a close everyone takes time to reflect on the year that has been.

 

I’ve had a really good year actually. A day and a half into 2013 saw us welcome our beautiful daughter into the world. I spent almost six months at home with her. I really, really enjoyed my maternity leave this time around. I savoured it. Slept with the baby. Breastfed. I watched my boy blossom and grow into a little child and amazing big brother. My husband obtained his code 14 license, something he has been wanting to do for years. So many highlights!

 

I have absolutely loved being a girl mommy and have felt so grateful and blessed all year. I also finally feel like I can say I’ve made a success of breastfeeding. Yes, it took me a YEAR of doing it to be able to recognize what an achievement it actually is. Watching my son love his little sister has been such a wonderful experience. He is so kind and patient with her. I know there will be fights and that sibling rivalry is still on the cards, but right now I am enjoying how much they love each other. The way he is so concerned about her when she cries and wants to “make her happy”. The way she turns her head when she hears his voice and her face lights up when she sees him. The sense that my family is now complete with them in my life. All these things have made 2013 a very special year for me.

 

I have grown apart from a couple of friends in 2013, but I recognize that we are in completely different places in our lives and that it was probably inevitable that our ways would part. These people came into my life for a reason and have left it (mostly) enriched.

 

This year has also seen me discover a creative outlet that I am passionate about and have truly fallen in love with. Nail art has given me time to myself, something for myself and a certain confidence that I did not have before. It is a gift that keeps on giving for me.

 

2013 has come and gone in a flash. Overall, it was a good year. It has been a while since I’ve just had a good year. I am grateful. I hope that 2014 will end ¬†with a synopsis just like this :)

 

A blessed New Year to all my readers. Thanks for always being there and encouraging me to write here. Much love.

Ice Box Las Vegas Lights

I was quite glad to be able to break away from the Christmas manis since I have quite a few new polishes that I’ve been dying to try all December, but they do not quite fit with the Christmas theme.

 

One of the polishes I really, really wanted to wear was the Ice Box holographic polish that Michelle gifted me. I decided to use that as the main colour for my mani and accent with my Born Pretty Store Holographic Effect Polish #1 (get it here).

 

To start I painted all my nails with my Tip Top Miraculous Results base coat to protect my natural nails. ¬†I painted Ice Box Las Vegas Lights on all of my nails besides my ring fingers. I was really impressed with the formula and application of this polish. It didn’t bald at all if you went over the same spot twice like my other holos do. It is more opaque than any of the other holos I own. The full size Ice Box bottle comes with a thick, wide brush (almost like the essence brush, but a bit bigger). It took a little getting used to as the brush can pick up quite a bit of polish, so I had to get the feel of how much polish to wipe off before applying. I adjusted quickly though and two coats gave me perfect coverage. The Born Pretty Store holo has a smaller brush and is quite sheer, so I needed 3 coats for opacity. ¬†Both these polishes dry really nicely and I had no issues with bubbling as I’m prone to bubbles which probably has something to do with my technique. I sealed it all in with my Seche Vite top coat. Both these polishes were also a dream to clean up (considering I’ve been battling with reds and foils all month!). The results:

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A beautifully muted mani, until these polishes meet the sun!

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Just look at it!

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Both these polishes are absolutely gorgeous! I am totally in love with my nails. I’m interested to see how well the Ice Box polish wears since I’m so impressed with it overall so far. Thanks so much for this gorgeous polish Michelle! I love it!¬†[Update]¬†I’ve been wearing this polish since Thursday night. It is Monday and the polish is still 100% perfect. Not a chip in sight and no tip wear to speak of. It could fall apart at any minute, but I’m happy with the wear time!

 

While I was taking photos of my supplies I spotted the water decals I bought from¬†luckystarstyle.¬†I decided to “enhance” my mani by adding a decal on my accent nail. I chose my Hello Kitty decals. They are so super simple to use. It is so quick and easy and looks great. Check it out:

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And with the holo effect:
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These are so cute! Even though you pay in dollars they are also relatively inexpensive and there are loads of designs to choose from. Customer service is excellent and no customs issues because they are mailed to you in an envelope. Try them out!

 

What do you think? Do you like holographic polishes? Would you try decals?

Christmas 2013

On Christmas Eve, we put out milk and cookies for Santa. Elijah refused to eat any. ‘They are for Santa, not for us!’. He was quite pleased with himself.

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And wouldn’t you know it, Santa came! On Christmas morning Elijah went to investigate if the milk and cookies had been eaten and completely missed the presents under the tree. We sent him back to check for presents and he came back saying ‘I’m amazed! He came!’

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I told him that he could unwrap one present before church. Obviously, he chose the biggest one.

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‘I’m so surprised!’ He loves his Hot Wheels T-Rex Take Down :)

We then made our way to church. I dressed Gabby in her gorgeous Christmas tutu and matching headband that her aunty Nicola made for her.

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She looked so beautiful! The tutu fabric has glitter in it and the glitter started to shed. Everywhere. Where we were sitting in church the floor was covered with silver and red glitter. Rudi, Elijah and I were also all covered with glitter. Even some of the congregation had glitter on them when we left. ¬†We all looked like Twilight cast members. I’m not even exaggerating. She has a few other tutus. I’m going to need to give them a good shake down before she wears them!

We decided to spend Christmas with my mother this year (*gasp*).  After church we quickly went home to pick up all the things we needed to take with (including all the unopened gifts) and we set off to Wellington where my mother lives. Soon my aunt, uncle and cousin arrived and we started opening gifts since Elijah could not wait any longer. He was seriously very spoiled! I thought we were going to have to hire a trailer to take all the stuff home! I had decided that Rudi and I should buy each other gifts as well since we had no gifts to open last year. I felt so out of place while everyone else was opening their gifts last time. I was so surprised to have quite a few gifts to open this year! My stepfather bought me a Foschini gift voucher. Rudi got me a gorgeous fresh water pearl necklace that I had spotted at Woolworths. My grandmother got me a white bolero cardigan, shower gel and dishcloths (she is always so practical!). My cousin and her mom bought me a gorgeous dark leather photo frame and my aunt and uncle got me a bar of Nivea soap and some white and purple hand towels. The kids got clothes and toys. Rudi got aftershave (surprise!), an ashtray, chocolate and a bottle of rum.

With the assistance of Sanita’s supplies and Pinterest, I laid the table for lunch.

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I adore this idea of the glasses with the decorations and candles! It looked so pretty!

And of course my nails matched the occasion:

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Even though Elijah got loads of toys for Christmas, he decided that Christmas decorations are much more fun to play with.

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Gabby, however, adored her new (very expensive) sippy cup.

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We had a lovely day. I even managed to catch a nap on the couch after lunch! It was very hot and later in the evening when the owner of the guesthouse and her family were done eating and swimming (almost 7 PM) we were allowed to go down to the pool to swim. We had been sitting in the heat all day and grabbed the opportunity to go for a quick dip. Once everyone had dried off and changed back into dry clothes, we packed up and headed home. I was designated driver and managed to navigate home in the dark. We only arrived home around 9 PM. Much later than I had expected.

I worked on the Day of Goodwill (Boxing Day), but finished up by 1 PM and went home. Rudi wanted to go grocery shopping, which we eventually did. It was the worst idea in the history of the world. Elijah threw the most epic tantrum EVER in the shops. I was so embarrassed. I tried everything (except giving in to him). We were stuck in an aisle for about 20 minutes with a wailing child. ¬†After racing through the last few aisles in the shop we went to pay. Luckily there were no queues. Despite that the very loud tantrum continued and then Gabby started as well. I was at my wits end! I decided to remove myself and the children from the mall to avoid further embarrassment and for the sake of the other shoppers and staff. Rudi said he overheard someone say ‘Shoo. Two children!’ At one point while I was trying to escape with them, Elijah mistook another women’s legs for mine and was clinging to her. She was quite surprised and so was he when he finally decided to look up! One of the points of contention was some kiddie rides that were in the mall that he wanted to go on. We told him he could go after shopping if he was good, but he acted up and we told him the rides were no longer an option. We had to pass said rides on the way to the car and I feared the worst. ¬†We somehow managed to get past the rides without stopping and I finally got the kids into the car. They were both crying at this point and I decided to drive around till Rudi came with the groceries, this at least calmed Gabby down. I drive less than 100 metres and both kids were fast asleep. Clearly they were both overtired. By that time I needed a drink! ¬†What a day!

I hope you all had a lovely, safe Christmas :)

The Kids Met Santa!

I spotted a great looking Santa in one of our malls and decided I absolutely MUST take Elijah to see him. This year is the first time that he has a real understanding of Christmas/Santa (in the commercial sense) and he is very, very excited!

 

We took them to see Santa and had photos taken. They only charged R50.00 for an A5 ¬†and two jumbo prints. I actually think that is a real bargain! The photos are really lovely. ¬†Elijah was a bit star struck when he met Santa and when Santa asked him what he wants for Christmas he stood there too shy to speak. Obviously, Santa is a seasoned professional and he prompted him saying ‘Would you like a remote control car?’. Coincidentally this is exactly what Elijah had asked for in his letter to Santa, so I was able to nudge him at this point and say ‘See? Santa read your letter!’. It was all too sweet. He happily posed for a photo with Santa and held his bell:

 

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With Gabby I was a little worried she would cry if I put her onto this strange man’s lap, but she sat there, with her usual dead pan expression. I knew getting her to smile was asking for a Christmas miracle, so I was just happy to have her somewhat looking in the direction of the camera and now bawling her face off. I warned Santa that she might cry and he said ‘Don’t worry, I’ve had all sorts today’.

 

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I will treasure these photos!

 

To all my readers who celebrate Christmas, a blessed Christmas to you. To everyone else, stay safe and enjoy the holidays x

Candy Cane Nails

The only nail art that I still wanted to do for Christmas was candy cane nails. If I had known the implications of my choice, I might have changed my mind! I thought doing one colour, taping it off and doing another would be quick and easy. Not so much. It turned out to be extremely time consuming and messy.

 

As usual I started with a base coat to protect my natural nails. I followed by painting all my nails with Sinful Colors Snow Me White. I top coated that with Seche Vite in order for it to dry as quickly as possible. Once it was dry I started taping my nails. I used 4 pieces of striping tape on each nail. I stuck two fairly close together on the top and another two toward the bottom. I painted over the striping tape with Sinful Colors Ruby Ruby one nail at a time and immediately after painting I removed the striping tape piece by piece with a tweezer. Once I was done I did another Seche Vite top coat. In some cases my lines weren’t perfectly clean and I tried to patch with white where the red crossed over. In hindsight I should have done this before I did the last top coat. I also noticed afterwards that not all my tape slanted at the same angle so some of my nails look different, but from a distance you can’t see any of that ūüėõ The result:

 

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Overall I am happy with the result (despite the odd messy bit). My nails are really striking and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. Everyone also immediately knew that they were meant to resemble candy canes ūüėÄ

 

The mess created while trying to obtain this look:
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Very messy! Plus red is a pain in the butt to clean, but I managed and I like the result :)

 

What do you think of these nails? Would you rock it? The colour combinations are ENDLESS! You could wear striped nails all year round if you were inclined to do so :) In future I might opt to do an accent nail or two instead of a full mani (cos I’m lazy like that!)

Snowman Nails

I knew I had to do some snowman nails for Christmas!

 

I had a hankering to use my Sinful Colors Mint Apple and after scouring through Pinterest a bit I settled on a snowman mani :)

 

I used my regular base coat of Tip Top Miraculous Results to protect my natural nails. I painted two coats of Sinful Colors Mint Apple on all of my nails. I used Sinful Colors Snow Me White to create uneven white tips on all my nails, the intention was for it to look like fallen snow. I used a dotting tool to make random white dots to represent snow falling. I also used my large dotting tool to make the snowman on my ring finger. I took my smaller dotting tool and used essence black is back to make the three “buttons” on my snowman and Chic Tapuz (312) for his “carrot nose”. The result:

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I was quite pleased with how these came out. Two different cashiers commented on my nails while I was out doing my shopping.

 

What do you think?

Quiet Moments

A while ago my whole family was over at our house for a braai. At some point it was decided that something was needed from the shop and I offered to drive my aunt there providing I didn’t have to get out of the car. I was wearing “house clothes”, no bra and no makeup. Off we went to the shop. My aunt got out and I stayed in the car.

 

It was a beautiful day.¬† The weather was perfect. Warm, but not too hot. The air smelled like summer, one of my favourite smells. There were cars coming and going. I made myself comfortable in the car and my thoughts wandered. After a while I realized that I hadn’t experienced this in the longest time. Sitting quietly, by myself with no interruptions, just me and my thoughts. It was so awesome. Soon my aunt was back and I headed back into the chaos which is my everyday reality.

 

Easily 3 months later I was at the petrol station filling up my car and again found myself drifting off into my own world. Another lovely day, just me in the car on my way to go pick up the kids. It occurs to me that these moments of quiet contemplation are very few and far between for me and have been for quite some time. Maybe even years. I’ve been so caught up in the rat race of life and routine and kids and running the household, etc that I haven’t even noticed. I didn’t even realize that I missed these quiet times and that I just wasn’t managing to spend a little bit of time with myself. Even on days when I am alone, I’d be so busy trying to catch up on sleep, housework, etc. that I wouldn’t stay still and just be.

 

Since coming to this realization I have made a conscious effort to spend some time in my own head. To take some time to just be quiet and think about things. To delve into depths of things that don’t surface in the bustle of everyday life.

 

I hope you do too.