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Friday, December 12, 2014

Mara Art: She's SOOOO Proud of Zach

One of Amara's (my 9 year old) loves is to make art.  Recently her 13 year old brother Zach asked a girl to be his girlfriend.  For some reason this made lil' sis so happy and excited for him that she just had to stop everything she was doing and draw him a picture.  

She proudly placed it in front of him, he ignored it and she didn't care because she was so thrilled for her big brother. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Boys Get (and Hate) Breakouts Too- A Clearasil Review ‪#‎ClearasilMom‬ ‪#‎MC‬

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Clearasil. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

My oldest child is a grungy 13 year old boy.  He is taller than me, has had long blond hair like me and unlike me, appears to hate showers and being clean.  Add in the hormones of teens and he's in breakout city.  
Before we knew he could use more than soap to clean his face.

Growing up with only a much older sister and a niece that could have been a younger sister, I wasn't exposed to boys much so every experience with them is totally new and different for me.  I don't understand so many of their quirks and habits.  Most of the time they are crazy, weird things smelling up my house.  I kind of thought I had a few years- until my daughter became a teen- to worry about pimples and other puberty-related issues.  I guess I just never thought that boys cared, or if they did that there was nothing they could do about breakouts.  Parent fail.  Apparently they care enough that they are sort of willing to work with their moms and Clearasil and Influence Central for two weeks to test out two new facial cleansing products to help himself and share his experience with others!  That's actually a big deal because he even agreed knowing that I needed picture proof of this event.     

Zachary got my unfortunate breakout genes.  I had it bad starting when I was 12 and it didn't stop until my 20s.  Now I break out monthly and not nearly as bad as when I was a teen.  So, he needed some major help asap and started off with the Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Gel Wash.  I have more of an issue with blackheads and keeping my pores clear and have even more of an issue finding a product that helps, so I gave this one a shot too.  
The Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Gel Wash is part of the Clearasil Ultra line, with stronger products designed to work quickly.  Our tested product is meant to unblock pores and clear blemishes in as little as 12 hours.

The above photo and the following photo are "before" pictures, when he was using only soap and water.  It's insanely hard for me to get him to shower every other day.  While I'd prefer daily, he would prefer never.  He isn't into sports so that's a relief.  Most of his activities are low energy and he only has gym for half of the year so I don't have to require daily showers for another month or so.  

 It's hard to tell in the photos but he has a glaring red splotchy face with a few large angry breakouts and many small pimples across his forehead and around his nose.
Love him, blemishes and all.  But we could use a few less breakouts!

It's been really cold and dry outside here in South Central PA, and that combo makes for some really dry and painful skin.  Because this product is maximum strength, I decided that using this with his every-other-day shower routine would be the safest.  By the 4th day, or 2nd usage, all of his large pimples and zits were gone, though the smaller ones were still there.  All of the redness was GONE.  All gone!  That was an attractive side-effect!  He now has an even skin tone that looks so much better than before.  What I considered his normal "shiny" face is gone.  And we all know that a shiny face (as opposed to the artwork of a glowing face) isn't all that attractive.  
Since the time period that he was using this was cut short due to my decision to use each product separately for better analysis of each one, he used this one 5 times over 10 days.  His skin didn't experience any over-drying which is actually kind of amazing to me.  The smaller blemishes remained but the redness and oiliness stayed away even after we switched product.  

A word from Zach: It's fine.  It works.  
Me: I need more than that.  
Zach: Oh my gosh, Mommy, I'm trying to talk to someone!  It's FIIIINE!
After the first time I used the Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Gel Wash, I noticed an instant change in my face.  It was smoother, clearer and it definitely helped my pores.  Though if I skipped a day it was definitely, noticeably back to normal.  It didn't dry out my face too much using it daily, but I did need to moisturize a bit after using it.  I'm really interested in checking out a few other products after trying this one.

Pros of Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Gel Wash:
-Low-fragrance.  It isn't strong which is great for the headache-prone.  
-Clears redness large blemishes fast.
-A good deep cleaner for pores.
- Doesn't over-dry.
-Low-fragrance.  It won't make me sick as I inhale the scent!  And the fragrance it does have is pleasant.  
-Doesn't get rid of all breakouts, but it's a very small con considering what it does do.

Here is a picture of Zach getting his haircut, after our first 8 days, before beginning the second product. 

It isn't easy to see much, but you can definitely see his face isn't red.

And here he is after 10 days, also before beginning the second product.

This was on an "other" day so his face isn't quite as clear but still looks much better.

For the last few days of our two week experiment I had Zachary use the Hydra-Blast Oil Free Face Wash twice a day.  The Hydra-Blast cleanser is part of the Clearasil Daily Clear  This creamy face wash helps reduce breakouts up to 85% in as few as 4 weeks and includes a moisturizing complex to keep your face hydrated.  It's a cream cleanser and you really only need a tiny amount to clean your face.  The first day, Zach used a ton.  You seriously only need about a pea-sized drop.  I didn't really notice a huge difference in his before and after face with this one, but I did notice that it's great at maintaining what the first product achieved.  And maintenance is VERY important!  Zach, again, didn't have much to say but he's happy that his face is clearer, with little effort.  That's the most important thing.  If something can be accomplished with little effort, he'll continue with the maintenance!       

I tried the Hydra-Blast along with him.  It definitely didn't clear my pores like the Rapid Action Gel but felt nice on my skin- tingly and smelled good.  Like fresh and aloe.  It's something we could use every day without over-drying or damaging sensitive skin.  

Pros of Clearasil Hydra-Blast Oil Free Face Wash:
-The scent.
-You only need a tiny bit.  This still will go far, which stretches my dollar.
-Great for daily, clean skin maintenance.  
-A little more drying than I expected, but not overly.  
-It might take a while to help really problematic skin.  Not to worry though- just start with an Ultra product then move on to Daily Clear for every day maintenance and clear skin! 
Here's his "after" photo:
That shine is all just photo glare from the bright lamp!  Doesn't he look so much better?

There are some other really great products that are part of both lines we reviewed and I can't wait to explore them more.  We want to be #acnefree and will accomplish it with Clearasil!  You can get some great info from the Clearasil website, including information about your biggest breakout and care concerns, expert advice and special offers (a FREE product mail-in rebate and a $1 off coupon!!!!!)

You can also connect with Clearasil on Facebook and Twitter for more great information (and some fun comics on Facebook). 

 #‎ClearasilMom‬ ‪#‎MC‬

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Seriously Awesome Gift Guide for Minecraft and/or Lego Freaks and Wildebeest Children

*****In case you couldn't tell, this post contains affiliate links, though I'm still so in love with these gifts that affiliate links wouldn't matter!*****

It's The Seriously Awesome Gift Guide for Minecraft and/or Lego Freaks and Wildebeest Children that doesn't include popular toys that no one can find, for those that haven't found THE gift from all of the other seriously awesome gift guides out there and who have wild and crazy children that need ridiculously cool and entertaining gifts that are not video games but might be related to video games.  

I've perused so many gift guides and haven't found the right stuff for my family, so I decided to create my own gift guide, based on what our family loves.  I hope this helps some families that are sick of the same old things and want or need something new and fun in their lives.  If this list does help you, please let me know!  I hate wasting my time as much as the next person.

To start, every wild and crazy family NEEDS one of these:
This thing is okay on its own, but add in these accessories to make it a killer present, especially when it's too cold or rainy to go outside:


To be fair, that one wasn't my first choice, but my first choice was sold out. For less $, you can get the Gorilla Gym complete set with everything the stuck-inside child might want to entertain themselves with (like swings and a ladder!), AND you can get add-on items that are adult-friendly too!   It also has great reviews.  Once I figure out if it will fit our weird doors, I might start with just the bar, which is close to $100 less.  Also, most of my kids might be too big for the accessories.  If so, we might go with an equally rated but cheaper bar.  Either way, something is going in my daughter's doorway this year.  After all, she's only been asking for about 4 years!

Next up, a gift for the roughhousing kids in your house (of the adult variety and real children).  It's cheap, it makes noise and you can beat each other with them.  I bought two. 

If you have a Lego lover in your house, you NEED at least one of the next item on the list.  They come in all sorts of official Lego colors and sizes.  We will have 2 this season and will work toward more in the future.  They aren't cheap, but they are oh-so worth it.  Plus, I'm pretty sure you can stack them like the real deal!  What a catch! 

The parents of Minecraft lovers rejoice. There are BOOKS! Have a book-loving, Minecraft-crazed kid already? It's a win! Have a book-hating, Minecraft-crazed kid? Maybe they'll like books with one of these! There are more, but this will get you started.  We bought the Construction handbook for my 6 year old Minecraft-crazed book lover:

Oh, and this appears to be awesome too (I bought one for Christmas and it looks nice):

Someone in my house is getting one of these and she's going to be shooting the crap out of a target soon.  Who needs Nerf?  Well, we need that too, but this is going to be AWESOME.

Back to readers, these books are necessary for wild and crazy kids that have brave, awesome parents.  One for girls and one for boys.   While I believe either could be helpful for both genders, these were written a long time ago and specifically for scouts.  P.S. There are Kindle versions of these too. 
I really wanted the American Boy's Handy Book but it was sold out (and I didn't see a second version until later) and I purchased this instead:

Now, if you're a REALLY brave and awesome parent, this fits in with the above books.  We aren't getting one for any of the kids this year, but are keeping it on the wishlist for the future, when we've decided that another child is old enough and responsible enough to have one.  Our oldest cherished his pocket knife for many years, and now it holds a proud spot on his shelf.  This one is for serious kiddos only and we've decided that it's appropriate for no one this year, but hopefully in the next few it will be:
On to clothing (sort of). Do you have any caped crusaders? We have two caped crusaders missing their capes, getting these beauties:

If you have any wild and crazy board game players in your family, this looks like a super fun family game:

That's all, folks!  What's your favorite item from this gift guide?  What are you getting your kids this year?  What's your family's must-have gift?  Do you procrastinate as badly as I do?