What I Learned From Breastfeeding: Lessons from a Former Formula Feeding Mom

2 years, 2 months, and 31 days. That’s how long I breastfed my daughter.

I’ve known this day was coming. Once she turned 2, I knew that my time breastfeeding was likely coming to a close. For the past year, breastfeeding had become less about nutrition and more about a comfort. From 12 months to 24 months, she went from breastfeeding 4-6 times a day to primarily breastfeeding at night or when she was upset or anxious during the day. Since she turned 2, she has only been interested in breastfeeding before bed, and in the past month she has chosen to read books before bed rather than nurse. This week, after we went 5 days in a row without nursing, I knew she had made the decision for me: she was done.

And it’s hard. It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. If you would have asked me about this day when she was a newborn, when I had cracked nipples and she was cluster feeding, I would have said that I looked forward to this day with reckless abandon.

But I’m not happy. I’m sad.

I’m sad because it’s over. It’s the end of a era that signifies a great many things to me: that my baby is growing up. She’s a toddler now and not a baby. That she no longer really relies on me to meet her every need. That the special time that we had, each and every night before bed, a time when she would sit still and allow me to hold her and rock her, is over. And it means that I’m done with breastfeeding. Forever. I’m done with babies. I will never get this precious experience back again, and it’s one I never knew I would miss.

3 years ago I would have told you that breastfeeding was awful. It was painful, and inconvenient, and potentially embarrassing. I would have said that extended breastfeeding was weird and gross, and that if a baby was old enough to ask for milk, he or she was old enough to be weaned.

Today I know just how wrong and judgmental I was.

I wasn’t able to breastfeed my boys. For each of their first years, they were fed with formula. I did attempt to nurse both of them, but I wasn’t successful. With Cooper, I didn’t produce enough milk (or so I thought). I let his endless cries convince me that he wasn’t getting enough nutrition from me and I needed to supplement. Supplementing quickly turned into fully formula feeding. With my second child, I experienced two bouts of mastitis in the first 6 weeks, and after the second I gave up and switched to formula.

I went into my third pregnancy wanting to try to breastfeed, but I have to confess that in the back of my mind I had this thought that if it didn’t work out, I could always switch to formula. I did WANT it to work out. I knew this was my last pregnancy and my last chance to breastfeed. There was also the financial benefit of breastfeeding. But in the back of my mind I always knew there was a Plan B.

But it did work out. I went into breastfeeding thinking to myself “OK, Andrea, just make it to 6 weeks.” Breastfeeding was hard and painful and terrible and I just kept telling myself “6 weeks! You can do 6 weeks!” 6 weeks came and went and then I said “OK, Andrea, make it to 3 months.” 3 months came and at that point it was natural and easy and I said “we can do this for one year!” One year came and my husband said “when are you going to stop nursing?” All of a sudden, numbers and dates just didn’t matter to me anymore. She wanted to nurse and I was happy to have the ability to provide nutrition and comfort for her. I said that I would stop when I felt like stopping. She began to eat full meals. She began to drink cow’s milk. And still we nursed on demand, primarily when she was upset during the day and always at night before bed.

I’ve had people say to me “you aren’t still nursing, are you?” and I always say “Yes! I sure am.” Because somewhere on this journey I realized how beautiful and special breastfeeding truly is, how much of a privilege it is to be able to provide for my child in that way, and I had no desire to stop before she was ready. I told myself I would let her set the pace, and I have.

Until this past week. Our breastfeeding journey has drawn to a close, and I want to share what I learned with you.

What I Learned From Breastfeeding: Lessons from a Former Formula Feeding Mom

#1. Fed is best. Seriously. I truly, 100% do not care how you fed your child. You are a great breastfeeding mom. You are a great formula feeding mom. You are a great mom, period. You meet your child’s needs either way. Motherhood is hard – we certainly don’t need judgment on how we choose to feed our children.

#2. A lactation consultant is your best friend. Your hospital should have one on staff. Get to know her, and call her often. Ask her to come and watch you nurse. Follow up with her after you leave the hospital. I 100% credit my success with breastfeeding, after 2 babies where I was not successful, to my hospital’s lactation consultant. She taught me the proper latch. She reassured me my baby was getting enough milk at each feeding. She was so incredibly helpful to me that I confess I had fantasies of her becoming my breast friend best friend. Sigh. It wasn’t to be. Apparently that is stalking. Whatever. She’s on Facebook.

#3. Try not to supplement. Listen – I’m all about your making your own choices about how you feed your child. I’ve done formula – I’ve supplemented! There is not one single thing wrong with however you choose to feed your child. However, if you truly want to breastfeed, I would advise you to be cautious about supplementing. It’s a slippery slope. It makes it easy to give up and just fully switch to formula. (I say that because I did that!) Your pediatrician will often tell you to supplement if he/she thinks your baby isn’t gaining enough weight. THIS is when you talk to a lactation consultant! My LC had me come in and weighed my daughter prior to the feed, allowed me to nurse, weighed her again – the subtracted weight will tell you exactly how much milk your child is receiving from a feeding. That visit right there is what assured me that I did not need to supplement and it also reassured my pediatrician, who was supportive of my decision to continue to breastfeed and allow her to gain weight at her own pace.

#4. Find a pediatrician who is supportive of breastfeeding. I’m so lucky to have found our pediatrician, who is supportive of all of our parenting decisions, even when they aren’t always what he would choose or recommend. I had military doctors with my boys who insisted that I formula feed because I was starving my child and he wasn’t gaining the weight he needed as quickly as he needed to gain. Our current pediatrician did suggest supplementing when my daughter did not return to her birth weight in the recommended amount of time, but when I explained my desire to continue to breastfeed he was supportive – even if he did make me come in weekly to weight until she was where she needed to be weight wise.

#5. There are times when it will be difficult and painful and you WILL want to quit. Push past that. The first 8 weeks of nursing were terrible. I couldn’t figure out her latch. My nipples were cracked and would bleed as I fed her. It all seemed very hard and difficult and I was TIRED and I really just wanted to quit. A friend told me — give it 6-8 weeks. You will reach this magical point where something clicks and it becomes natural and easy. I held on, and she was so right – around week 8 my daughter just magically caught on and it stopped being painful and difficult. I figured out the perfect hold. I perfected my nursing uniform. It became like second nature, and suddenly it was less of a “grit your teeth and bare it” nursing session and more of a “this is a sweet and special bonding experience” nursing session.

#6. You’ll probably have an embarrassing nursing moment at some point. The primary thing I worried about, as a new nursing mother, was exposing myself as I nursed in public. I have large breasts, and the juggling of the baby and nursing bra and cover was always an ordeal. I eventually got the point where I would nurse her in the car, because I could just pull my breast out and not really worry about someone seeing me or offending someone. One night we were scheduled to have dinner with my extended family at Outback. My family arrived early, so that I could feed my daughter in the car before we went into the restaurant. I pulled my breast out, as I always did, and began to nurse, not worrying about who might see me because the two cars alongside us were parked and unoccupied. At some point, the car next to me must have left, and I looked up to see my brother had pulled up in the parking space beside me and was looking in the car to see why we were just sitting there. We never talk about that day. Ha!

#7. Tank tops will be your best friend. My friend Dana taught me this trick – as a well endowed woman, for modesty I would always layer a tank top beneath whatever shirt I was wearing. I could pull my shirt up, my tank top down, and my stomach would be covered without worrying about using a nursing cover (which I always found more of a pain that a help).

#8. You may not need a pump. My cousin gave me her breast pump, and I could have received a new pump through my insurance, but I wound up never really using it. I figured out early on that I just didn’t have the energy to pump and breastfeed. A lot of people do – a lot of moms need to pump so they can return to work or have time away from their child. I think, once again, either way is fine. I am a stay at home mom, and I learned quickly how to juggle errands and date nights so that I could nurse her and do what I needed to do before I returned home. I know some moms DO need to pump, and others prefer to pump to establish a supply just in case – again, you should do what works for your family. Just don’t feel like you HAVE to pump as a breastfeeding mom.

#9. Breastfeeding babies can still bond with dad. This is one argument I hear a lot in support of bottle feeding. I completely understand that some dads want to have the opportunity to feed their children. That would be a good case for pumping and using bottles. But the bond between dad and baby will not suffer because of the time that moms spends nursing. Your child will develop their own bond and special time with their father in their own way.

#10. Breastfeeding truly is a special, wondrous, beautiful experience. There is this sense of empowerment that comes from knowing that I was able to supply my child’s nutrition from my own body. I have a sense of pride knowing that I was able to do something I had previously been unsuccessful with. I will never take for granted all the special time spent nursing my daughter – and it is truly bittersweet that the time has ended.

Once again, moms, FED IS BEST. I support you no matter how you choose to feed your child. I hope you support me as well!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

I’m going to apologize in advance for this terrible picture below. It is one I snapped quickly for Instagram, and I meant to take a more stylish picture for the blog, but it slipped my mind. Oh well. I will win no Pinterest awards. I am working on improving my food photography though!

I really love buffalo anything, so Buffalo Chicken Pasta is right up my alley. I love that you can make this in the crockpot, and it is truly a quick and easy meal! The buffalo flavor of this pasta is super mild, so even my children gobbled this up. Mom tip: use rotini or bow tie noodles – I find that they are easier for my children to pick up with a fork, and it ultimately makes less of a mess than spaghetti or fettuccine noodles.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 box chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s wing sauce
  • 8 oz cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 envelope ranch dressing mix
  • Noodles of your choice, 1 pound

Directions:

  • Pour the chicken broth into the crockpot. Whisk in the ranch dressing mix and buffalo sauce. Place the three chicken breasts on the bottom of the crockpot. Cook on low for 4 hours or until it easily shreds.
  • Shred the chicken. Add in the cream cheese and let it melt. This usually takes about 30 minutes.
  • While the cream cheese is melting, cook your noodles until al dente.
  • Drain off the water and add noodles to the crockpot. Stir so that everything is well combined.
  • I let this sit for 20 minutes or so on low. The starch from the noodles will thicken the sauce.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Cast Your Net, Part 2

For the past two weeks, I’ve been doing endless research on cameras. YouTube, articles, websites, purchase reviews – you name it, I’ve read or watched it. I’ve looked at comparison charts. I’ve created my own Excel spreadsheets. Honestly, at this point I just want to twirl around in a circle and buy whatever my finger points to, because my head aches and it all looks the same at this point.

I want to be able to create quality video tutorials. It’s something I’m passionate about, and it’s something I’ve dabbled in with good reception on Instagram. When I had this idea of re-launching Tickled Peach, it was always with the hope that eventually I would also launch a YouTube channel and offer makeup tutorials on the blog and on YouTube. I don’t have an expectation of being a star, but I think I have a voice, and an audience, and I want to share what I know.

But it’s become clear that my iPhone 6s will not cut it. I don’t even have the newest and fanciest model! Ha! I knew eventually I would need to get better quality equipment, and so lately I’ve been researching what some YouTubers use and what is recommended for creating quality blog photographs and video tutorials.

And the list is endless. And expensive. $3000 DSLR cameras. Ring lights, umbrella lights, reflectors. Microphones. Editing software. Backdrops. Sets. Last night as I watched yet another video titled “Equipment Every YouTuber Needs!” I started to feel discouraged. I don’t have the budget to buy everything on these lists. Even if I did, I certainly don’t know how to use what I would buy. It started to seem silly. Pointless. And I wondered if maybe I should just give up.

See, this is one of my character flaws. In my head, I shouldn’t do something if I don’t have every single thing I need to do it. I will have a goal, but I set roadblocks for myself in the form of lack of knowledge, lack of ability, lack of financial means.

I’d really love to learn how to embroider children’s clothes! But those machines are expensive, and I don’t know how to use them. I don’t even know how to sew!

I should start exercising! But I don’t have any workout clothes, and I don’t have a gym membership, and I don’t even have an tennis shoes.

I want to go back to school and finish my Master’s degree. But we don’t have the money, and I don’t have the time, and who would watch the kids while I went to school?

Jason will tell you that if it were up to me, we probably would not have children. We were married for 6 years before I got pregnant with Cooper. We had talked about the timing of starting a family, but there was always something I thought we needed. We needed to have a certain amount of money in the bank. We needed to live in a house and not an apartment. We needed to be closer to family so we would have help if we needed. We needed to wait until we were ___ years old. Jason is the one who finally had enough of my “we will do it when” and that’s how we had Cooper. And Sullivan. Sweet Poppy was a surprise, so I guess even God knew I would have found a reason we should have waited to have her.

You know what? I’m so incredibly thankful that my husband did insist. Because those three babies are the very best thing that have ever happened to me.

I originally launched Tickled Peach in 2014. I took a break in 2015 that turned into a 2 year hiatus from the blog. “Blogging is dead!” I told myself. No one would read my blog. What would I talk about? I didn’t have time. Why bother?

But the idea just wouldn’t go away. In the summer of 2015, I did a bible study, The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst. I still to this day say that bible study was one of the most transforming studies I’ve ever done. In the book, she talks about how we make time for things that are really important to us. She says that sometimes when we have goals or dreams, we have to be very intentional about creating time to accomplish those things. She shared about writing her first book, and how she would carve out these little pockets in her day to work, because it mattered to her. It was her Best Yes.

As I read that book, I felt God saying “your blog is your Best Yes.”

I ignored it. Because it seemed crazy! Did God know that blogging was dead? I don’t think he got the memo that Google Reader died and a lot of blogs went with it.

That voice continued. I told you HERE about how, during a study of the book of John, the story of the disciples casting their net just blew me away. A very simple act of faith led to a huge blessing from God. They did what they were asked to do, and they were blessed for doing it.

And still I ignored that voice. I acknowledged it, sure. If you follow me on Instagram you may remember me sharing my reaction to that study, and how I felt like God was calling me to blog. That was back in April.

In June, our pastor was out of town, and our friend Ray preached the sermon one Sunday morning. Again, he referenced the disciples casting their net. “Go!” he said. “When God put something in front of you, DO IT.” After that sermon, my friend Wendy even texted me and said “hey – remember you talked about casting your net?” At that point I began to accept that this was something I could do and wanted to do. I set a goal of launching on September 1st.

And there I went, creating roadblocks in my own way. I didn’t have the right blog design. I don’t understand how to use Pinterest to promote my blog. What is SEO? How does one use affiliate links? Do I use ads? I began to make a list of all the things I needed and quickly became overwhelmed.

That’s when Satan steps in, friends. He senses your discouragement. He feels your fear. He knows you do not feel equipped. And he will magnify those feelings until you just want to give up. Because that’s what he wants! Satan wants you to walk away from that net God is telling you to cast.

It took my husband finally saying “Go! You’ll never have enough knowledge. You’ll never know every single thing you need to know. You will learn as you go, and that’s OK.” for me to actually take the leap and re-launch the blog.

Here’s the truth: there will always be a million reasons why not. You will never feel perfectly ready. You will never have a perfect body, or the exact right amount of money in the bank, or live in the perfect house, or have every bit of knowledge that you need to know. That just isn’t how life works. But I can tell you one thing – God tells you why. Even better, he tells you how.

Cast your net, he says. Jump. Go. Do.

Tickled Peach was a big leap of faith for me. I had a million reasons why I shouldn’t do this. I had one reason why I should: because God told me to. I want to have the faith of Peter, John, and the other disciples who heard some stranger on a beach say “Cast your net!” and just throw my net off the side of the boat. I want to go forth, boldly, trusting in his provision and equipment. Because he will give me every single thing I need. Maybe I don’t have every single bit of knowledge or equipment, but I have a voice. I have an audience. The rest will come at some point. I’ve got to stop being so scared of the “what ifs” and “but I needs” that I never even step foot onto the boat.

I don’t know how many of you are in the same boat right now. Maybe there is this lingering goal, or dream, or calling in the back of your mind that you are telling yourself that there is no way you can do.

Maybe you want to go back to work after staying at home.

Maybe you want to go back to school and get a degree.

Maybe you want to start a business.

Maybe you want to have a baby.

Find your why, friends. Listen to that calling. Step into that boat. Cast that net. Believe, just as I have, that if you are called to do it, you will be equipped to do it. God can see infinitely more than we ever could about our future. Trust and believe that if he has put something on your heart, there is a reason. You never know where it can lead.

Cast your net. Throw it with abandon. Know that He is the one who called you, and He will be with you every step of the way.

25 Days of Christmas for your Husband

So Jason and I don’t really do Christmas gifts for one another. It’s just what we have found works for us. We don’t really have a hard and fast rule on this… typically we may buy each other one small gift, or we skip gifts entirely. We just buy what we want and need throughout the year, and we choose to put the focus on our kids at Christmas time.

However, I always like to do something special for him. I’ve done a few creative advent type countdown ideas over the years, and I thought I would share what I put together for him last year in case this is something you’d like to attempt this holiday season!

The basic idea is that we had an advent style countdown, and he got one gift or activity per day. It would be so easy to customize this to fit any budget, and you could honestly make this completely free by using things you have on hand, free community events, baking treats, doing chores he dreads, etc.

Here’s what I included:

  1. I re-started the Sirius XM subscription in his car. It had lapsed, and it was one of those things he said we didn’t really need to worry about, but he did enjoy listening to a certain station every morning on the way to work. The note on the back of the countdown led him to turn on his car radio, where he discovered I had renewed his service. // This first gift is for your ears, listen well and news you’ll hear.
  2. Build a fort in the living room and watch a Christmas movie. I had popcorn and candy on hand for snacks. // Let’s cozy up this Christmas night. Popcorn, candy, blankets tight.
  3. I gave him a $10 iTunes card to buy some new music or games. // New tunes are what you need to hear. Use this card and get some cheer.
  4. Movie – you could buy a DVD or just rent a movie on Amazon. // This movie was once a favorite sight. Sit down tonight and watch it with some tasty bites. 
  5. Bubble bath – my husband rarely takes bath, but on this night I set up a bath with candles and fancy bubble bath. // Bubbles, salts, lotion oh my. A bubble bath ends your day on a high.
  6. Scavenger hunt – I set up a scavenger hunt throughout the house for him to do with the kids. Each stop had a piece of candy. // Our elves have set up a little hunt. Go find you some candy. Don’t eat it for lunch!
  7. Conversation starters, which we talked about while we enjoyed a glass of wine. // Grab a glass and pour you some wine. Let’s have a chat and a really good time.
  8. On this day, I sent him one text each hour, with things I loved about him. // Today you’ll hear from me, once every hour.
  9. Snack box – I filled a large box with all his favorite snacks and had it ready to go to work with him. // These are a few of your favorite things.
  10. $10 Starbucks card for a coffee date // Let’s use this card to go on a date. Some coffee and chatter; please don’t be late.
  11. We were planning on going to the zoo to walk and see Christmas lights, so this day was gloves and a hat. // You’ll need these to stay warm tonight!
  12. This day was a coupon to make his favorite meal. // Bring your appetite!
  13. Smore night! I had graham crackers, marshmallows, and tons of different chocolates. // Gooey and ooey and delicious and warm. Let’s make a fire and have us some smores!
  14. He needed a warmer jacket, so that was delivered this day. // The high of today is 45. This gift will keep you warm inside.
  15. I made hot chocolate and we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. // An annual tradition we just can’t miss. Let’s make some cocoa and look at some lights!
  16. New PJ pants and a Christmas shirt – we had a movie date after the kids went to bed. // Cuddle, cuddle, toil, no trouble – meet me at 8 for movies and snacks.
  17. Breakfast in bed // Get back in bed. No work for you! You breakfast, dear sir, is coming soon.
  18. Game night // After work you are due some fun. Let’s play board games hun!
  19. CD // Check your passenger side seat for today’s surprise.
  20. New dress socks // These are part of your daily uniform. They aren’t very sexy but they sure are warm!
  21. I made his favorite cookies. // This is a coupon for your favorite treat. Text me your preference and they will be waiting when you get home!
  22. Santa underwear // I think y’all can probably just make your own version of what this clue would be. LOL.
  23. I had the kids use index cards to make him a coupon book. // The kids have been working, working hard. These coupons are meant to do all your jobs.
  24. An ornament for the Christmas tree // Look on the tree and a new ornament you’ll see.
  25. His Christmas stocking, which was filled with some of his favorite candy, snacks, and a Yeti cup

I never once claimed to be good at rhymes. Ha!

I began planning this out in early November. I looked at our calendar and planned gifts or activities around things we already had scheduled. For activities, I just made sure we had what we needed on hand (for example, if I was making homemade hot chocolate, I put the ingredients on the grocery list for that week). I went ahead and ordered any presents/gifts. For the gifts, I made a notations on the card itself that it was a present, and the present was kept under the Christmas tree in our room.

For the actual physical countdown, I saw these card stock Christmas trees at Hobby Lobby. They came in packs of 10, I believe, so I picked up a few. The day numbers were written on the front with a metallic Sharpie, and on the back I typed up the clues, printed them on computer paper, and glued them on. I used twine which I anchored to the wall with push pins, and clipped the stockings and trees on with mini clothespins. I ended up putting this in our bathroom, over our bathtub, because that was the place our kids were least likely to mess with it. Ha!

Jason really loved this – he said it made him feel special and gave him something to look forward to each day.

Here are a few other ideas you could include:

  • Community activities: tree lighting ceremonies, church musicals, the Nutcracker performance, etc. Facebook is a great resource for community events!
  • Do some chores that your husband doesn’t like to do or doesn’t always have time to do: clean the garage, get his oil changed, detail his car, organize your filing system, go buy presents for his staff or family, etc.
  • Make some of his favorite things: cookies, meal, cake, snack food, etc.
  • Give him time to do something he loves, uninterrupted. Take the kids somewhere while he watches football. Let him go hunting and don’t complain about how long he is gone. Send him to the bookstore with instructions to buy a new book.
  • Talk to his mom and find out what some of their family favorites and traditions were. Recreate them! Did they get new pajamas each Christmas? Did they have a night of stringing popcorn for the tree?
  • Go old school. Play his favorite card game or board game.

I’ve also done this before, but for a shorter duration. I’ve done the 12 Days of Christmas, and just do 12 gifts or 12 activities.

Please let me know if you decide to do this! I’d love to compare notes!

Dupe Alert? Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Liner VS Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Liner

I’ve got another Dupe Alert for you today! Today two liquid eyeliners are battling it out to see which is best: Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Liner VS Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Liner. Let’s dive right in!

First up, let’s chat about the Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Liner. The Tattoo eyeliner is well known in the beauty world for being one of the best, truly waterproof liquid liners on the market. Does it stand up to the claims?

Before I started using the Kat Von D liner, I was using Lorac Front of the Line Pro. I loved everything about Front of the Line Pro – it applies so easily, the tip is flexible but stiff, and it is so easy to make cat eye lines with this liner. But my main complaint was that the line faded throughout the day. It would start off black but fade to grey by the end of the day. Also, if my eyes watered, the line would gradually disappear at the corners of my eyes. I had always just dealt with the drawbacks, but one day I watched an Instastory of my friend Tricia (the makeup artist). She was raving about Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Eyeliner, so I decided to pick one up about a year and a half ago. I’ve repurchased twice since then.

Before I review, let me first state that I have extremely oily eyelids. I use a primer each day before I apply my eyeshadow, but naturally my lids are just oily. I also have allergies and wear contacts, so my eyes water and I rub them a lot. In addition, I have hooded eyelids, so it’s pretty common for me to experience eyeliner transfer to my crease.

Buy It Here

I’ve been really happy with the Kat Von D Liquid Eyeliner. The felt tip is very stiff, which is both a good and bad thing. I prefer the tip of the Front of the Line Pro, because I think a little flexibility is good when creating a cat eye. But the positive about the stiff tip of the Tattoo liner is that you can create very crisp lines. It is truly 100% waterproof. It lasts all day. It doesn’t transfer to my crease or smudge once it is set. The other thing I truly love about this liner is that is a carbon black – and it stays that black all day long.

One negative is that it can tend to feather as you apply – meaning, as you trace the liner onto your lid, if you don’t hold the liner a very specific way, the line blurs slightly.

Pros:

  • It really is waterproof.
  • The color doesn’t fade throughout the day.
  • The felt tip makes it easy to draw crisp lines.
  • The color does not smudge or transfer once it fully dries.

Cons:

  • You can experience feathering as you draw your line.
  • The felt tip is very stiff – which in my opinion can sometimes make it difficult to apply.
  • At $20, it is more expensive than the Maybelline version.
  • It is only available at Sephora and online retailers.

Amazon / Ulta

Next up we have the Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner. I really, really, really want to love this product. I DO love this product. I just love it knowing it isn’t perfect.

First up, the price: it is $5.49 on Amazon and $8.49 at Ulta. It’s a fourth of the price of the Kat Von D liner! This makes it much more appealing to me.

Application: I actually really prefer the tip of the Maybelline liner over the Kat Von D liner. It is felt tip, but the tip is longer. The base is stiff, but the tip is more flexible, meaning it’s just easier to get in and create those angles and curves. It comes out very wet, but it dries quickly. I find myself having to create a “surprise” face when I’m using this liner so that it can dry without transferring of smudging. The best part: the black is truly black. It doesn’t fade throughout the day.

HOWEVER, [crying emoji] it transfers.

I feel like I’ve tried this every which way to Sunday. The first time I wore it, I did not wear eye primer. Hmm, I thought, maybe that’s why it transferred. The next time I wore it, I set the liner with a bit of black eyeshadow. Nope, still smudged. In the picture you see above, I’m wearing eye primer, and still experienced transfer to the crease.

With that said, it isn’t like the smudging or transfer is impossible to work with. I know I sound wishy washy, but if you just need an affordable, easy to use liquid eyeliner this is for you. You will likely have to clean up some smudges, so make sure you stash a q-tip in your purse. They are easy to clean up with your fingertip or some light blending. But be prepared – it will happen.

Pros:

  • Affordable: using a coupon or store sale, you can likely score this for around $5.
  • It’s widely available online and in stores such as Walmart, Ulta, Target, and drugstores.
  • The color is very black, and it does not fade throughout the day.
  • I really enjoy the packaging! It’s nice and sleek. It doesn’t look cheap at all.
  • Has a stiff yet flexible tip that allows you to create crisp lines and angles

Cons:

  • It smudges.
  • It isn’t waterproof. Crying or watery eyes will cause the line to run or disappear.
  • It transfers to your crease throughout the day.
  • This is a tiny thing: when you shake the Kat Von D eyeliner, it makes noise. The Maybelline does not. I find something about the clacking sound of the Tattoo liner to be so reassuring!

Final verdict: although there are many things I DO love about the Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner, I do not love that it requires tending throughout the day. With the Kat Von D, I can apply in the morning and know it will still look the same when I take it off 12 hours later. For that reason, I recommend purchasing the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner over the Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Liner.

Happy Veteran’s Day!

Happy Veteran’s Day!

I have a special place in my heart for Veterans, because my husband is one.

Boot Camp, 2001 – skinny!

Jason’s desire to join the Navy was born out of both necessity and patriotism. In 2001, he was living in Illinois and working a factory job. He wanted to go to college and get a degree in agriculture, but the cost was beyond what he could afford. The economy took a terrible turn, and he was laid off. It seemed like he didn’t have a lot of options – he couldn’t afford college without taking out loans, and the job opportunities in Illinois were not promising at the time. He had always had this sense of patriotism and desire to serve, and it seemed like the perfect time to enlist.

So he did.

We met in 2003, when he was in Charleston South Carolina for nuke school. Jason’s rate in the Navy was Electrician’s Mate, and he was a nuke, meaning he worked on the nuclear reactor system of the submarine. He had to complete extensive, difficult schooling before being sent to the fleet, and he was in Charleston from 2001-2003. I was there at the time going to graduate school, and the rest as they say is history.

I had never had any desire to date a military member. I was convinced I would marry a hometown boy, get married, and live within 10 miles of my parents. It wasn’t to be. God knew better than I (isn’t that ALWAYS the way?!) and he lead me to a boy who served.

I can remember one of our early conversations when we were dating with crystal clarity. Submarines were sort of a foreign concept to me. I mean, I knew they existed, sure. I knew the Beatles had a song about them. But I didn’t really understand how they worked or what they did. Jason was trying to explain to me what he would be doing when he reported to his first duty station aboard a submarine.

“So, do the submarines have windows? So you can look out into the water and fish while you drive around?”

Jason had quite the laugh at my expense. The answer is no (the pressure would make the windows break, or they could leak = very very bad on a submarine, and the depth at which they cruise isn’t really conducive to fish exploration).

Change of Command Ceremony while stationed at Subase Bangor, WA

We got married in July of 2003, and moved to his first duty station of Kings Bay, GA that same month. He reported to the boat in August and was told they would be leaving in two short weeks for his first deployment. Our first four months of married life were spent largely alone.

The submarine force is voluntary – meaning, you have to request to go subs if that is where you wish to serve. Navy sailors have the option of surface (aircraft carriers) or subs. Jason chose subs, and was stationed on the USS Nebraska 739. The USS Nebraska is an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine. She carries trident ballistic missiles. Fun fact: there are submarines on alert at any given time in the sea for warfare situations. This means the submarines are locked and loaded – if they get an alert, they can shoot off the weapons they carry to virtually anywhere in the world.

Photo Credit

This is a picture of the submarine pulling into port. The tug boat guides the submarine into place, and the sailors stand on top as ceremony to usher the boat home. Best. Feeling. Ever.

A few weeks after we reported to the USS Nebraska in Kings Bay, GA we were told that the boat would be undergoing a change of homeport to Subase Bangor in Silverdale, WA. This was especially fun news, since we had just bought a house in Kingsland. Jason had actually had a conversation with his sponsor before we started house hunting – a conversation in which the sponsor never mentioned the impending change of homeport that would make our buying a house we would live in for one year seem foolhardy.

Fun times.

During his time on the USS Nebraska, Jason went on 6 patrols, ranging from 10-12 weeks each. During this time he was submerged underwater and as such, communication is very limited. I was allowed to send him emails whenever I wished; however, the boat only received emails when they would surface. As the mission of the submarine is stealth, that didn’t happen often. I think I have 20 total emails from his 6 patrols. We also had about 3 mail drops per patrol. We would be alerted of the date our drops were due, and would turn them into squadron. We had strict guidelines to follow – whatever we sent had to fit into a flat letter sized envelope. We would occasionally get letters back, but it wasn’t something you could count on. In all the time Jason ever was out on patrol, I never received a phone call. That is a luxury submarine wives just aren’t afforded.

The interesting thing about submarine patrols is that life kind of pauses when they leave. Don’t get me wrong – life goes on. You do what you do, and time moves forward for both of you. But it is almost as if you married life just hits pause, and resumes when they finally come home. The lack of communication just kind of puts you into a bubble where neither of you really know what the other is doing, so its kind of like life starts again once they come home.

Cooper, 2010

In 2008, Jason was eligible for shore duty, and we moved to Charleston, SC. He was stationed the Naval Weapons Station Charleston as an Instructor. This was quite an adjustment – our entire married life thus far had been patrol/refit/off crew/repeat and now he was home at the same time each and every night. We finally felt settled enough to have Cooper, and that decision is what led to Jason separating from the Navy in 2011. At this point he had served for 10 years, and he wanted to be able to raise his children without the fear of being deployed and missing major milestones. The military life was all either of us had known in our married life, but I supported his decision.

Sullivan, 2013

We moved to Augusta, GA in 2013 and Jason began working for Southern Company at Plant Votgle. He missed the military. That desire to serve just wouldn’t go away. In December of 2013 he enlisted in the Navy Reserves.

The commitment to the Navy Reserve is for (at minimum) one drill weekend per month (Saturday/Sunday) and two weeks of Annual Training. There is, of course, always the possibility he could be called up for a deployment.

November 2017

Jason separated from the Navy as a 1st Class Petty Officer (E6) and in September of 2017, he was pinned as a Chief Petty Officer (E7).

September 2017

I truly am so thankful and grateful for my husband, who sets such an amazing example of true patriotism and service for our children. Thank you to ALL our Veterans for your service, and a special thank you to all the loved ones and family members who make their service possible. Happy Veteran’s Day!

Dupe Alert? NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer VS Maybelline Fit Me Concealer

One of the things I always hear when I ask for feedback is that people want to know about makeup dupes. If you aren’t sure what I mean when I say dupe, a dupe is a product that performs just as well as the original. Oftentimes people want to find more affordable dupes for expensive, high end makeup. Sometimes companies can pull it off, and sometimes it is a big old waste of money. I’m working on a series of drugstore product dupes – I put them to the test to find out if they are worth the money!

First up in this series is NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer VS Maybelline Fit Me Concealer. Is it a dupe? Read on to find out.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $30 at Sephora

I first heard about NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer from my friend, Tricia. She is a professional makeup artist and this is a concealer she uses on herself. It is exactly what it says: creamy. It just applies extremely smoothly, with no tugging or pulling. It really does glide across your skin. It provides full coverage and it doesn’t crease or wear during the day with the proper setting powder. I’ve been very pleased with this concealer, and it is one I’ve used often in my own makeup routine.

Pros:

  • Comes in 16 shades
  • Lives up to its name: applies easily and is light and creamy on the skin
  • Lasts all day when it is set properly

Cons:

  • At $30, this is expensive for such a small amount of product.

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, $5.48 at Amazon and $6.99 at Ulta

I’ve been hearing great reviews of this Maybelline concealer, and several YouTube beauty vloggers have stated that it is a dupe for the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I decided to put it to the test! I have to say, the application is very similar. Obviously the more expensive NARS product comes in a more beautiful, luxurious package. But this concealer is extremely pigmented, applies well, and lasted all day! My one concern about this product is that it burned the area under my eyes slightly as I applied it. The tingle did go away once I had blended it in, but upon application there was a brief burning sensation. I’m not sure if that is just me or if it has happened to other people.

Pros:

  • At $6, this is extremely affordable.
  • It applies easily and blends well.
  • It lasted all day with proper setting.

Cons:

  • I did experience a slight burning sensation upon application. This did go away quickly, and my skin wasn’t red or irritated. However, it is a little off putting, to say the least. I wouldn’t let it stop me from using it, because it didn’t harm my skin or continue, but just be aware this could happen if you have sensitive skin.
  • It only comes in 6 shades.

So… which would I recommend? Well, I plan to continue to use my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer until I’ve used all the product, but I would definitely use the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer instead of purchasing more of the high end product.

Is it a dupe? I hesitate to say it is an exact match, but it is VERY close.

If you’ve tried this, please let me know what you think!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small percentage of the sale if you decide to purchase the products. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach!

All About Dinosaurs!

I originally published this blog post back in 2014. I was updating my category lists for my blog and stumbled upon the post, and I’m planning on doing a DIY dinosaur dig with Sullivan and Poppy soon. I hope your dinosaur loving kids love this activity!

I have a dinosaur obsessed little boy. It all started when he discovered Dinosaur Train on PBS. He loved watching and naming the dinosaurs, so I started brainstorming hands-on ways I could teach him more. I started off by buying him a few things from Amazon.

I love, love, love the National Geographic Kids line of products. They are so well made, easy to understand, and very educational products. I purchased the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs. The text is very easy to read (beginning readers could read to themselves) and is written in a way that even the youngest readers can understand. Cooper and I read the book together, and we used the play set below to match up dinosaurs to their names.

I also purchased the Animal Planet Big Tub of Dinosaurs. It’s a 40 piece set that comes in a storage tub. It contains a variety of dinosaurs, a printed mat, trees, rocks, and volcanoes. Cooper was really happy with this, as you can see! Update: this set is still going strong three years later. It is played with frequently around here!

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After reading some reviews, I also ordered the My First Dino Kit. This kit encourages hand and eye coordination and observation skills as kids become paleontologists. It comes with a fossil block and excavation tools. I also loved that it came with a booklet of discussion questions and activities.

After we got these items and started to play with them, it dawned on me that I could make my own All About Dinosaurs! DIY Dino Dig at home.

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You’ll need the following supplies:

  • 3 boxes of cornstarch ($1 per box at the grocery store)
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic dinosaurs (I used the Assorted Dinosaur Fossil Skeleton from Amazon but after I ordered them I discovered dinosaur fossils at The Dollar Tree) (Cost = $3-$8) (If buying at The Dollar Tree, you will need multiple packages)
  • Plastic container ($1 at The Dollar Tree)
  • Excavation supplies – I used a paintbrush, magnifying glass, and a Popsicle stick

dinodigDirections:

  1. Pour the three boxes of cornstarch into your container. Add an 2.5 cups of water and stir vigorously to remove clumps. Add more water as needed until the cornstarch is a smooth, thin consistency.
  2. Add in your dinosaur fossils.
  3. Set it outside to dry (or in your garage if you are expecting rain). It will take 24-48 hours to fully dry.
  4. As the cornstarch dries, it will shrink, and water will pool at the top. Check the container every 8 hours or so and pour off any excess water.

dinodigcollage

When your DIY Dino Dig is fully dry, you are ready to excavate! I did this outside as it is super messy. I laid down paper on our outdoor table and carefully popped the block out of the container. I laid out a few supplies – a paintbrush, a Popsicle stick, and a magnifying glass. Then I told Cooper to go to town. He broke up the block with the wooden stick and then started chipping away at the dinosaur fossils. Once they were free, he brushed them off with the paintbrush.

This was a fun activity for a dinosaur loving child!

I would say this activity is best for ages 3-6. The younger the child, the more assistance they will need in this project. Older children can participate by excavating and labeling each dinosaur as it is freed!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small percentage of the sale if you decide to purchase the products. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach!

Instant Pot Sausage Mac and Cheese

I shared my intense love of the Instant Pot with you a few weeks ago and since then I’ve left you hanging with recipes! Well, no more. I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite recipes that are adapted to or made for the Instant Pot with you in the next few weeks.

First up, what is an Instant Pot? Well, it’s a pressure cooker, but it’s so much more. It can pressure cook your meals, saute meats or vegetables, make yogurt, make the best dang hard boiled eggs you’ve ever had in your life… I could go on and on. Read my post HERE where I talk about how it took me a long time to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon and how once I did, I was hooked!

Need an Instant Pot? I’ve got you covered.

Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6 Qt 6-in-1 Muti-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer: This is the Instant Pot that I own. It’s plenty big enough for my family, but I have friends (and my mom) who have the 8qt and they love the extra room for big roasts, soups, ribs, boston butts, etc.

Instant Pot DUO80 8 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer: This is the bigger Instant Pot. There isn’t a HUGE price difference so if I had to do it all over again, I would probably buy the 8 quart.

Now on to the recipe! The very first thing I ever cooked in my Instant Pot was Macaroni and Cheese. I shared how I was super intimidated of the Instant Pot at first, and I asked my Instagram friends for advice on what I should cook first. My friend Sarah sent me this recipe, and it was amazing.

Dads Cook Dinner: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

I mean, you could make it exactly as it’s listed in the link, but I wanted to try and make it into a one pot meal. Adding sausage to the recipe and switching up a few ingredients gives it a little extra protein and a much needed calorie boost for Cooper (don’t worry, you can skinny it down some if you want).

Instant Pot Sausage Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Butterball Turkey Sausage (not an affiliate link, but so you know what to look for)
  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or 1 teaspoon hot sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk OR 8 oz milk OR 8 oz heavy cream
  • 16 oz extra sharp cheddar
  • 6 oz parmesean cheese

Directions:

Cut up your sausage and add to the Instant Pot. Hit the SAUTE button. The inner bowl will begin to heat and you can brown your sausage on both sides.

While your sausage is browning, add your Dijon mustard, Sriracha, and salt to a measuring cup filled with 4 cups water. Whisk together ingredients. If you do not have Dijon mustard, you can use regular, but I’m telling you that the Dijon mustard does something amazing to this macaroni and cheese. I use Sriracha but you can use another hot sauce (I’ve successfully used Frank’s before because that was what I had on hand!).

Pour into the Instant Pot and add your elbow macaroni and butter.

Lock the top into place and hit the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button. Make sure the pressure valve is turned to “Sealed”. Hit the “Manual” button and adjust the time to 4 minutes. The Instant Pot will briefly show 4 and then will turn to On.

It will take about 10-15 minutes to come to pressure. Once it does, you will hear a beep and the timer will turn to 4 and begin to count down. Once the cycle is complete, do a Quick Release – this means turn the valve to the right and the pressure will release. Keep your hands and face away from the valve until no more air is being released. Once this is complete, you can open the lid.

Note: you will not be able to open the lid unless the pressure had been released. It is a safety feature of the Instant Pot.

While the Instant Pot is coming to pressure and cooking, I get my cheese ready. I like to get blocks of cheese and shred them myself. Yes, it’s extra work, but somehow it just tastes better. This is two 8 oz blocks of extra sharp cheddar. You will see in a picture below that I didn’t end up using all of this cheese. I probably used a block and a half, but the actual recipe I adapted this from calls for 16 oz of cheese. It’s up to you how cheesy you would like for this to be! You will also need 12 oz evaporated milk and 6 oz Parmesan cheese.

Note: I switch out the evaporated milk for whatever I have on hand. I’ve used whole milk and cream before. If I know Cooper didn’t have a great calorie day (we struggle with his weight), I will make this with all the cheese and heavy cream. It’s something I know he will eat and the calories are good for him. However, once I made this and Jason said “oh my gosh, this is amazing, what did you do different?” and I realized I never even added milk. Apparently I used 5 cups of water instead of 4, and I just mixed in the cheese. It still tasted amazing, and Jason actually prefers me to omit the milk now.

This is what it looks like after you’ve removed the lid. All of the water has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked perfectly. Now add in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, and the milk. Mix together and pop the lid back on. The Instant Pot goes into warming mode once you’ve completed the timed cycle – let it stay on warming mode. Walk away for a few minutes, clean up, and when you come back the cheese will be melted.

This is what it looks like after the cheese has melted! I’m telling you, this is a HUGE hit at my house. It’s the one thing I can make that I know every single person will eat and love. Is it perfectly healthy? Eh, no. But we don’t make it every single week.

I like to serve this with a salad – arugula is our favorite, and it’s the easiest salad ever. I just use arugula, Parmesan cheese, a little pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. The acid of the lemon and the natural peppery taste of the arugula help to balance out the intense creaminess of the macaroni and cheese.

If you try this, please let me know what you think!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small percentage of the sale if you decide to purchase the products. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach!

The Most Important Thing

If there was one word I could use to describe my life right now, it would be CHAOS. Some days it is controlled and some days it feels as if I’m careening around the store we call life, knocking everything off the shelves and in general making a mess of everything. But one thing that never changes: things are crazy around here.

I was telling Jason the other day that my life has gotten progressively harder with the birth of each child. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t change things. I’m happy with my life. But with the birth of each child has come more responsibility and more STUFF. Doctors appointments, sports, classes, school, church, therapies, medications, homework… the list goes on and on. It’s good stuff, most of it. It’s necessary stuff. But sometimes I feel as if I’m drowning.

The reality of life that is that I have two young children at home with me. Each and every single day, they are at home with me. I have a husband who commutes to work for 2 hours each day. He works 8-10 hour days on top of his commute. He isn’t home a lot during the week, and when he is home, he is tired. I have a child with special needs, and he requires more attention and care than perhaps other children of his age. My husband’s family lives in another state and we don’t see them often. My parents still work and they aren’t around much, either. It’s hard sometimes. It’s worth it, 100%, but I won’t lie and say it isn’t hard.

And yet I’m thankful for this opportunity to stay at home. I won’t lie and say that I don’t miss working sometimes, because I do. I miss the socialization and I miss my coworkers and clients. But I am grateful to my husband, who works so hard to provide for us. His hard work allows me to stay at home with my children.

I think most of us who stay at home would say that we are grateful for the opportunity to do so. We love our children and we are thankful that we get to have the joy and responsibility of this precious time with them. But I also think most of us would say that sometimes it is difficult. Sometimes we are overwhelmed. Sometimes we desperately need a break.

I had this great idea, as a working mom, that if I ever got to stay at home that I would have TIME. Time that would be spent with my children, sure, but also time for myself. I could craft, and cook, and decorate, and blog…. oh, the time I would have.

No. LOL. I feel like I had more time to myself when I was working than I do now.

Throughout each of my days, I can find myself stressing about time. It seems like each day I have a to do list that is overwhelming, and if I am honest, it seems like that list never gets completely done. Every day I make a checklist, and most days I don’t complete it. I get mad. I get frustrated. Why can’t I get ahead?

There are times, in the midst of my chaos, when I have to stop and remind myself of the most important thing. I’m not here to clean my house. I’m not here to schedule appointments. I’m not here to pay bills, or fold laundry, or even complete my bible study homework.

I’m here to raise my kids.

Yes, those other things are important. They must be done. They must be somehow fit into the holes of your day. But the most important thing – those kids. My kids.

I can’t get so bogged down in my to do list that I forget that they are the most important thing.

Maybe it means you push aside laundry to read a story. Maybe it means you forget the cleaning and instead go to the park. Maybe it means you say no to commitments because there are more pressing matters inside your own home.

I write this as a reminder to my own self: sometimes the most important work we will do is inside our own homes.

Let’s not forget that.