Giving Back Is Awesome

 

Coke

I miss college sometimes, y’all. I really do. I graduated from the University of South Florida in 2007 and while I spent most of my college career stressing over money or grades (pshhhtt, or both), I had a lot of fun too. And I’m not talkin’ drunken kind of fun. Girl no. When I wasn’t in class, working, hanging out with friends or trying to catch some Z’s, I was involved in some volunteer organization on campus. From the moment I stepped on campus until the day I graduated, I made it my duty to “help” in some way. I focused on different organizations each year but one of the most influential events that shaped me into the person I am today was that time I went to Philadelphia to volunteer at a school.

Alternative Spring Break is what they called it. Instead of jetting to Cancun, Mexico or taking up a weeklong stay on their sofas, college students involved in Alternative Spring Break jetted to another city and volunteered their vacations away. I joined a group of 15 fellow students and we bused our way from Tampa, Florida to Philadelphia. We bunked on the floors of a church in an area of North Philly called the Badlands. Each day we worked on various projects. From street clean-up to volunteering at the neighborhood school, we not only got to help out a community in need but we had a great time doing it.

Coke1

Coca-Cola is launching a Pay It Forward campaign that’s all about giving back and experiences like mine in Philly have totally convinced me to continue to pay it forward. Since that trip I’ve been volunteering as much as a I can through various organizations.

Because a great mentor can make all the difference, Coca-Cola has teamed up with Magic Johnson, Common and Debra Lee of BET Networks to give four young people the apprenticeship experience of a lifetime. Visit MCR.com/PayItForward to nominate an aspiring youth and help pay it forward to the next generation. You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win $5,000 for
each nomination you make (up to five nominations per person).

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Coca-Cola via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Coca-Cola.

 

FINAL_PAY_IT_FORWARD_RED_r1

Elle’s Birth Story

[NOTE: I omitted a lot of the squeamish parts of labor and delivery but if you have any particular questions, I am so okay with answering them in the comments. Like, did I really encapsulate my placenta? Sure did!]

DSC_5606

I feared a lot throughout my pregnancy. It was ridiculous, really. I am naturally a very anxious person and pregnancy only heightened that for me. My decision to go with a midwife instead of an OB/GYN didn’t help the situation either. The midwifery philosophy means trusting the woman’s body to do what it needs to do to nurture baby in-utero without much intervention. While some women may get ultrasounds at every prenatal appointment, I had one at 20 weeks. I was in the dark throughout most of my pregnancy. Instead of trusting my body, I questioned if everything was okay. If she didn’t move, I’d freak out. If she moved too much, I’d freak out. I was in panic mode 24/7. The crazy thing is, the only time I really trusted my body was when I was going through labor.

DSC_5517

My water broke when I was polishing my nails. But of course, right? I flew out of the beauty room to Esposo. My pants were to my ankles and I was running back and forth like some maniac. We decided to call the midwife and they recommended that I come in ASAP so they could test me to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid. I just knew I was wasting my time. Because obviouslyyyyy, my water didn’t break. I just peed on myself. That’s it.

But we hopped in the car and drove the midwife and within 20 minutes I had my legs spread all open for the world to see.

“You’re having a baby today.” said the midwife.

I tossed myself in Denial River again.

“Wait, wha?…no. No. Like..not today. How do you know? Is this real life?”

We were told to go back home so that I could labor there and to come back in 4 hours. I tested positive for Group B Strep and had to have an antibiotic. Which also ruled me out of that glorified water birth that I wanted. Womp. We got home and I threw myself in the nook of the sofa and then labored on my labor ball. Esposo kept glancing at me and was steadily asking me if I needed anything. He was so calm. So so calm. I was fine. I couldn’t understand why people said labor was sooo hard. If these were contractions (mind you, that hadn’t started yet), I was doing amaziiiing.

DSC_5507

10 minutes later I was on the floor on all fours moaning and groaning. I’d go from the floor to rolling on my yoga ball. The contractions were in, ladies and gentlemen. And those mofos hurt. The only respite I got was the few minutes between contractions. Those minutes were glorious. I timed my contractions. 3-4 minutes apart. I got so uncomfortable that I crawled up to the bed. The contractions got worse. And worse. And worse. I hummed throughout them. I focused on my breathing. I got that from reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. That book spoke to my hippie soul. It is chock full of birth stories where the women were having babies in cabins and in the woods and all of that craziness. That’s so me. I’d have a baby in a cabin. Yep.

Esposo began packing up the car. He told me I should try to eat something before we left. Good idea. Each step I took killed me. I winced in pain. I continued to hum. Being upright was the worst. I somehow made it to the car and we took the 15 minute trek to the birthing center. Each bump made me want to hurl. I kept timing my contractions. 2 minutes apart and there weren’t many breaks in between.

We made it to the birthing center and they got us settled in the room. The midwife checked me and I was already 5 centimeters dilated. This baby was coming. And I was dying. My Mom was nowhere to be found because earlier that day she told me that she had gotten dreadfully ill and that I simply couldn’t have the baby today. How could my Mom not be there through this? My doula was on her way but I just knew she wouldn’t make it either.

In my head I was cursing up a storm. Out of my mouth, all I could do was hum and say, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouuuuuuch.” Over and over again. The sweet nurse brought me ice cold water.

“I’m going to throw up.” I told her.

She brought me a pan and I threw up. I knew I was probably going through transition and that shortly after barfing, the pain would only intensify. I tried to stay calm. I asked Esposo to rub my back.

“Get off of me.” I tell him seconds later.

I was loosing it. The pain was out of control. Now that I look back at it, the contractions were painful but manageable. I suffered from painful menstrual cramps my entire life and so my pain tolerance is pretty up there. The real pain came from the perineal massage that my midwife gave me during those contractions. I wanted to kick her in her chin each time she told me to relax as she tried to massage the nether regions. I knew that she was only doing this to help prevent me from tearing but I was an animal at that point. I just wanted that baby out and I didn’t want anyone touching me.

If you’re not familiar with childbirth, when a baby is ready to come out, you push as if you have to take a poop. It’s the weirdest feeling because not only are you dealing with the pressure from baby bearing down, but you’ve also got those contractions kicking. It’s hard to focus and stay calm but I pushed and pushed and pushed and Baby Elle was born into the world at 5: 27pm. I was in active labor for 5 hours and I pushed for 17 minutes. My labor went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to rip my shirt and bra off.

DSC_5561

My labor and delivery is considered speedy for a first time mom and quite frankly, after everything was said and done, I felt like I deserved an effing award. Soooo many people told me I was crazy for having a baby in a birthing center without the option of an epidural and pain meds. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have changed anything. Because Elle was considered small at 5 lbs, the birthing center recommended that we go to the hospital (uggghhhh) to have her fully examined. We were hesitant to do this because her Apgar scores were already high at a 9 and 10 and we just knew the hospital would give us a bunch of run around. And we were right. We spent hoursssss at the hospital. Just for them to tell us what we already knew. Our baby was healthy. Just small with a touch of jaundice. This detour to the hospital prevented Elle and I from really practicing her latch when it came to breastfeeding. It also resulted in two overwhelmed and fatigued first time parents who wanted nothing more than to just take their baby home.

So yes, while my labor and delivery was “perfect”, the events that followed were not. But it doesn’t matter. Baby Elle is here and she’s happy and healthy.

I always considered myself to be a strong woman, both physically and mentally. Giving birth to my daughter gave me a new badge of honor. I left that birthing center so so soooo proud of myself. Yes, I was terrified that my baby decided to come 3 weeks early and I was soooo sad that family members and friends couldn’t make it but the pride I had in myself trumped the sadness and fear that enveloped me during labor.

And not to sound like some superwoman, but pregnancy, labor and delivery are all easy compared to the struggle that came with breastfeeding and dealing with those postpartum hormones. THAT’S the part that people don’t tell you about. Stay tuned for more posts on life with baby. I know Clumps is a beauty blog but I think it’s important to normalize conversations like breastfeeding and the not so bubbly parts about being a first time mom. And if you could care less about that kind of stuff and would rather read about cosmetics, then hey, it’s all good too. I promise not to overload the blog with baby stuff. Maybe once a week or so. 😉

Baby Clumps is here!

DSC_5654

…I mean, woooooow. I am just as shocked as you are. Elle came 3 weeks early and surprised us all.

By the way, it’s pronounced “El”. Not “El-ly”. Ellie is cute but you wouldn’t believe how many people have pronounced it that way. Which kinda sorta boggles my mind.

DSC_5656

I’m so in love with her. Everything she does amazes me. I’m pretty impressed with myself too. And Esposo. I’ll share her birth story in the coming weeks but there really isn’t much to say. Water broke. Active labor for 5 hours. Pushed for 17 minutes. Birthed a babe on January 7th…5 days after my birthday and in a comfortable birthing center.

DSC_5626

Baby girl was born only weighing 5 lbs so we’re working hard to get her to gain weight. She has to go to the pediatrician every other day or so. I’ve got a dream team of a midwife, doula, pediatrician and lactation consultant. And honestly, having the baby was the easy part. Breastfeeding is a whole ‘nother beast that is challenging but I am so dedicated to get down.

DSC_5614

I am beyond sleep deprived but whatever. Baby Clumps is here and she’s healthy and some kind of awesome. She’s so tiny but so strong. She motivates me. Life is even more amazing.

Posts will be slow around here but for good reason. 😎

Going to IMATS LA? Stop by the BFTE booth!

beauty_bloggers1-400x486

If IMATS LA wasn’t a good week before my due date with Bean, I would have so made plans to go. The International Makeup-Artist Trade Show is THEE show of all beauty shows and the brand BFTE Cosmetics will be in the building. I’ve hung out with Crystal of BFTE and aside from being one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met, she puts her name behind an amazing brand of products. If you’re going to attend IMATS LA, be sure to stroll by the BFTE booth. My girl Phyrra will be there too.

Where
Booth #805

City
Los Angeles, California

When
January 19-20, 2013

Merry Christmas 2012!

DSC_0104

Season’s Greetings and a very Merry Christmas to my Clumps of Mascara family.

I was a bit down most of this holiday season (preggo hormones, I tell ya) but with Mama Clumps coming over and putting up that darling 2-foot Christmas tree, Esposo whipping up his world famous macaroni and cheese and recognizing that in a month’s time we will have started a new year, I would have turned a new age and I will be thisclose to bringing my first child in the world, well…do I really have anything to be down about? Nope. I am swimming in a pool of blessings.

And I hope you realize that too. We live in a world of wants but I think sheer happiness lives in YOUR world of haves.

Love y’all mucho.

It Smells Like…The Holidays!

Seriously B? You’re doing a post on a room air freshener on your beauty blog?

DSC_4828-001

Yes, I am! And you better not be judging me for it either. 😎 Okay, fine…judge me but if I could somehow emit this scent as you read these words, you’d understand WHY I’m writing about this Febreze Noticeables. First of all, it smells freaking phenomenal. But yeah, that’s a given. It is also getting me a bit more in the holiday spirit. And with  a few days left before Christmas gets here, I kinda need that.

You see, I don’t even have a Christmas tree set up. No decorations. Nothing. And this is sooooo not like me. Baby Clumps’ impending birth + chronic fatigue has me out of the holiday spirit so far the fragrance from this little decorative fragrance wall plug has been one of the only things to get me to feel…jolly.

DSC_4827-001

And this means a lot because I am totally one of those people who like to go all out for the holidays. But whatever, if the most I can get this year is pleasant vibes from this Cranberry & Frost scent, then I’ll take it. Proctor & Gamble gifted me with this sample and I just felt so inclined to share my love for these things. I can’t wait until they go on sale so I can scoop up more. I mean, they last forever so it’ll be well into February before we need to re-up from this one.

Cost: $5.99 or less
Where to buy ’em from: Any drugstore, Target, Walmart, select grocery stores

‘Excuse me while I go back in the living room and catch a whiff. Don’t worry. I’m not doing any hardcore sniffin’ of it. 😉

The Makeup Show Orlando and the awesomeness that ensued!

Ohmigoodness, The Makeup Show Orland was epic, y’all. I mean, I knew it would be a big deal but when the day actually came, I was floored. I didn’t even get to do half of what I wanted to do at this show. Which sucks. Walking big beauty shows is already a daunting task but it’s a freaking workout when you’re 7 months pregnant.

DSC_2751-001

Sometimes I forget that I’m pregnant. It sounds crazy, I know but my belly isn’t ginormous so I feel like I can do the same things I did pre-pregnancy. Um no. My poor feet got all swollen (sexy, uh?) and fatigue hit me within only a few hours of being at the show. But I did what I could picture-wise when I was there.

The show was held at The Peabody Hotel in Pointe Orlando. There were more than 60 brands in attendance and we would have seen more except Hurricane Sandy messed things up a bit. But the vendors that were there were welcomed by over 2,000 beauty professionals. But first things first. My girls Courtney of Phyrra.net and Cristina of Let Them Have Polish and I, along with Koren of EnKore Makeup and Elessa of Pursebuzz rocked our beauty blogging panel.

DSC_2706

I mean, rocked! The crowd was packed and the 5 did such a great job at answering questions and keeping the crowd interested. Shortly after the panel, I chit chatted with a few Clumps of Mascara lovers and then flewwwww to Elessa’s booth.

DSC_2700

Please check out her Hello Kitty shoes. *faints* I stocked up on her glitzy and shimmery jewelry and baubles.

DSC_2697

And then I made my way over to Tia Dantzler’s booth.

DSC_2714

Words can’t express how much I love celebrity makeup artist Tia Dantzler. I first met at a blogging conference and have been loving her ever since. Aside from being crazy talented, she is such an inspiration to makeup artists everywhere. She recently released her FIRST makeup DVD. But more about that later. 😉

The sea of vendors…

DSC_2715

DSC_2716

DSC_2717

DSC_2721

DSC_2722

DSC_2760

It’s pretty lame of me to not have many pictures of me with my beauty blogging sisters. In fact, I only have a few.

DSC_2723

Shortly after linking up with some of my girls, I ran into Cat getting her makeup matched at AJ Crimson’s booth. He recently launched a foundation line and the shades were people of darker hues. Holla!

DSC_2731

The Make Up For Ever booth is always doing something spectacular at beauty shows.

DSC_2732

DSC_2734

DSC_2737

And then I stopped by the Cult Nails booth!

DSC_2741

I am obviously a member of this cult so I was so excited for Maria and her super supportive husband.

DSC_2743

And that about wraps up my photos. Pretty pathetic, I know. I had an amazing time and I’m so glad that that the show made its way to Orlando. I’m actually thinking about going to The Makeup Show in NYC again. You know, if Baby Clumps will allow. 😉

My Le Métier de Beauté Cosmetics makeover

Part of being a beauty blogger means educating thyself. I mean, yeah…I could only showcase the saaaaaame products and brands year after year but what fun is that? I like sharing new innovations and new products and brands that you may not have ever heard of. Like the brand Le Métier de Beauté Cosmetics.

DSC_0050

I know, I know. You’re probably like, “Seriously B…is this a French brand or something?” Actually no, it’s not. This brand sits stateside at the counters of Neiman Marcus and online for those who don’t have a Neiman in their area. I first heard about this brand when I attended that fabulous Beauty Blogger Bunch a few months back. Le Métier de Beauté and I have gotten more acquainted and I am so excited to share my findings (and makeover) with you guys and gals.

Le Métier de Beauté (which in French translates to to “the craft of beauty”) is a luxurious skincare and makeup brand that has found its place in the beauty world for a good 5 years or so. The brand was founded on 3 core principles: craft, design and quality. It’s a brand that if you see at a counter, you are instantly drawn too because their products are not only eye-catching but diverse as well. And by diverse, I mean you’ll see color, color and more color. This is such a rarity in higher-end brands. And call me nutty, but I didn’t know that Le Métier de Beauté did spa treatments.

DSC_0040

DSC_0046

Yes darling, special masks and peels can be done in right in a nice and secluded section of the mall. I was actually going to get a peel but when my specialist noticed my baby bump, she thought that a makeover would be a better fit. And you know I wasn’t complaining about that. Speaking of my specialist…Irina was wonderful. She talked about each product in depth as she applied it to my face. Le Métier de Beauté didn’t appear to have a wide selection of brown-girl friendly foundations available, but Irina did a grand job at mixing up a lil’ somethin’.

DSC_0054

DSC_0055

She told me about the beautiful liners…

DSC_0056

…and makeup remover.

DSC_0058

The kaleidoscope eyeshadows (love these!).

DSC_0061

And the mascara…

DSC_0062

DSC_0064

The mascara, by the way, has a clear tube so you can actually see when you’re running out of product. Now why didn’t I think of this?

I’ll be a giving a closer look at some of these products later but I can say that their performances lasted beautifully in that 80 degree weather we had the other day. And the finished look?

DSC_0078

DSC_0074

DSC_0079

I look like a straight up news reporter with wonky hair in that last pic, uh? Either way, Irina impressed me and that is hard to do with a beauty blogger. I’m not always a fan of people doing my makeup but I could totally go back to Irina any day. Her and fellow counter-mate Melissa were wonderful.

DSC_0095

Stay tuned for more information about this brand! Have any of y’all heard about Le Métier de Beauté Cosmetics?

ETA: Although I wasn’t able to experience the CHEM60 Pro-Peel & GLOW10ai Mask Set due to my being pregnant, many of my fellow beauty blogger sisters and had raving reviews about it. It is finally available for purchase at Neiman Marcus counters and at NeimanMarcus.com. It’s a bit pricey at $265 but it lasts for quite some times and hey, skincare is worth the investment, isn’t it? 😎