Saturday, August 6, 2022

Skincare! An Updated Approach

I had a whole post on skincare a few months ago that I never published and now I've had to change my routine because some of the products (like this SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum, which I LOVED- it was Botox in a bottle) were too strong for me and my skin got mad and started basically flaking off while we were in Iceland which was not great. I've been doing some research in stolen moments between flights and the rare TV show I get to watch with James at night, and I've settled into a skin cycling routine I really like.
I'm basically the last person on earth not on Instagram (I know my limits and do not need any additional reasons to confer with the internet), but I briefly downloaded it to go through all of Dr. Whitney Bowe's posts (stories? I do not know this world) and the approach of spacing out your strong and targeted skincare products to focus on one goal/task per night spoke to me. And so I've been building a routine for my fair, sensitive, papulopustular rosacea (a skin condition common in women who are red-haired, fair-skinned, and in their late-thirties, characterized by red, swollen bumps that typically appear on the cheeks, chin, and forehead and are frequently misidentified as acne and can take a long time to go away. They can be exacerbated by stress, changes in weather, exercise, alcohol, and caffeine, so that's AWESOME for me)-prone skin.

Dr. Bowe has lots of great product recs on her page, but I've largely been using product I already had and am working in new ones (like the Sunday Riley exfoliant) as I run out or don't feel like I've found the right one. This is what I'm doing right now:

Morning Routine: this doesn't change day to day.
1. Cleanse. I've learned to spend less on cleansers because they're on your face so briefly before you wash them off. Just use whatever you like that gets makeup off and leaves your skin clean but not tight. I like both of these: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser or Vanicream Unscented Gentle Facial Cleanser. Pat dry.

2. Vitamin C. Essential. Repairs your skin and protects it from the sun and pollution in the air. This one is the gold standard and I've used it for years. It also stays stable the longest (a lot of cheaper Vitamin C serums break down quickly and aren't effective after a couple months. This one lasts me 9): Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Serum.

3. Redness Corrector (optional). Totally optional, but it's great for correcting redness and feels very soothing. I use it after facial treatments or anytime I'm more flushed, like post-sun exposure or when I'm traveling. My skin does not enjoy airplane air or hotel towels/linens even when they're much nicer than my own: Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Gel.

4. Moisturizer/Sunscreen. I usually go straight to my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer with SPF, but lately my skin has been so dry I've been using this Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel first and then doing the tinted moisturizer. I like the hydrating gel a lot- it's light, isn't sticky, absorbs well, and feels amazing on my skin. It also has hyaluronic acid, which is very hydrating, though I've learned you have to SEAL it with another moisturizer (like my tinted moisturizer I use as makeup) on top otherwise it's actually dehydrating, something I was doing very wrong for a while.

5. Extra SPF. For sunscreen touchups during the day I've been liking Supergoop (I got this set and stuck one in each of my purses or bags so I always have some on hand; I like them all, but maybe the "unseen" one is my favorite) and I use SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 32 on days I'm not going to wear makeup or use the tinted moisturizer.

So most mornings it's: Cleanse (usually in the shower), Vitamin C serum, Phyto gel (sometimes), Tinted Moisturizer, done.

Evening Cycling Routine.
It's a 4 day plan that you just repeat forever. I have a little calendar in my bathroom with each day filled in for the month because I am incapable of remembering what I did the night before.
1. Cleanse. I usually use whatever cleanser is by the sink, in the shower, or near the tub where I happen to be washing my face, but I do love Cerave Renewing SA Cleanser for nighttime cleansing, particularly if I've put on a lot of sunscreen during the day or wore more makeup than usual. It's a little stronger.

I'll also often use micellar water first as a double cleanse to get my makeup off before washing. My dermatologist recommended it because I have rosacea and reducing bacteria on the skin helps keep it at bay. Isdin Micellar Water (my dermatologist recommended this one and I had a credit with her office to get it for free) or Bioderma Micellar Water (cheaper and the one every makeup artist recommends; also available in a travel size).

Exfoliation night
2. Exfoliant. Dr. Bowe recommends a chemical exfoliant with AHAs over a physical exfoliant, particularly for sensitive, dry skin (like mine!). I've been using Sunday Riley's Good Genes and I really like it. You can leave it on, or if your skin is really sensitive, you can rinse it off after 15 minutes. My skin has been agreeable to letting me leave it on so far. This is also a GREAT physical exfoliant if you prefer that: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. I used it for a while before I discovered chemical exfoliants and they just work better for me.
3. Moisturize. I use the Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel first and then layer on a moisturizer. I'm still in search of a favorite, but these two are inexpensive and I've been trying to decide which one I like more for the last month: Eucerin Redness Relief Soothing Sensitive Skin Night Creme or Differin Restorative Night Moisturizer. I cannot emphasize enough how dry and angry my skin was by the end of June with all my travel; it's come a long way.

Retinol night:
2. Retinol cream. One of the only active ingredients that can actually repair skin and force collagen production and regeneration. Use the strongest concentration your skin can handle without flaking. It is better to use a lighter concentration more regularly than a stronger one more rarely. I currently use 0.5 but started at 0.25. Lots of people can handle 1.0, my skin just gets mad at it. Your dermatologist can also write you prescriptions for stronger ones, but I've never been able to go that strong. I used SkinMedica 0.25 for years and now use Skinceuticals 0.5. You can layer moisturizer first if your skin is sensitive. I've found with the cycling I no longer have to do that.
3. Moisturize. Same as above.

Recovery night x 2
2. Just moisturize!
And that's it. This routine works for me because even when I'm traveling I can still follow it - I used to use all the products everyday, so it's not any more to pack for a few different nights. Here's where I am on my cycle:

Last night (Friday):
Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize

Tonight (Saturday night):
Cleanse, Retinol, Moisturize

Sunday & Monday nights:
Cleanse, Moisturize

Tuesday night:
Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize

Wednesdsay night:
Cleanse, Retinol, Moisturize

Thursday & Friday nights:
Cleanse, Moisturize

Repeat forever. I may work in the TNS serum I linked above in the mornings once I feel like my skin is on really solid ground again. It was powerful- my skin was literally glowing and I've never had so many people comment on it- but it was too much for me to combine with travels, cold weather, dry skin, and my haphazard approach to moisturizing. For now, I'm sticking with exactly the above plan- I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Big Woods to the Big Apple

I'm currently on a plane flying back from a quick client-related trip to NYC- my first flight to almost take off on time outy of my last many.
I was only in NY for about 14 hours and I spent 6.5 of those sleeping, and the temperature felt much the same as it does in Dallas (stifling), but every time I walk a few blocks in that city I feel so happy and whole and home. Our office is on Bryant Park and there was a midday concert going on that we could hear in the conference room on the 32nd floor and it made me smile.
I was able to catch an early flight back, so if things go well I'll be surprising my family with a 6:00 pm arrival instead of a 9:00 arrival and I can't wait.

And speaking of family, let's go back to the stunning shores of Silver Lake where I spent last Thursday-Sunday with the kids while James had a swim meet out of town. As I've written about before, it's a special place for my family. The lake was on the land my grandfather's family farmed. When they sold the farm they kept some of the lake lots which various aunts, uncles, and cousins of my mom now own. My grandpa had one lot and we grew up driving there (from Houston! 3 days, pulling our trailer and camping along the way) and camping on the lot.
It's the most beautiful lake. Small, clear, and private, with a soft sandy bottom.
It was actually more beautiful than I remembered. One of the few places that even the rosy glow of memory can't improve upon.
In 1999 my grandparents built a cabin on the lot. It looks exactly the same.
My parents, aunt and uncle, sister, brother and their full families were all there.
It was glorious.
And though my grandpa mourns every summer that he can no longer make the trip, he absolutely delighted in the pictures and videos and stories we told of the fun we were having in his favorite place.
We went to the cheese factory for the world's best soft-serve ice cream, cooked hot dogs over an open fire, took frequent boat rides on the "Queen Mary" (named after my grandmother, obviously), held babies, played cards (Oh Shit is our new favorite game), drank prosecco, woke to 50-degree weather and had the option of wearing long sleeves at almost any time of day.
I conducted a few client calls from the porch and soaked up the family time and not even the 8 hours of travel delays the kids and I dealt with on the way home could dull the sparkles around each day of our quick trip.
We were supposed to get home about 2, but instead we staggered in the door close to 9, with nothing but a bunch of Auntie Anne's cinnamon sugar pretzel nuggets in our bellies and James had the table set with a delicious homemade dinner ready (chilaquiles!) and big bowls of fresh fruit all cut up for us to devour. While we did he casually mentioned that he'd heard there might be a shortage of Halloween candy this year, so he asked the stocker when he was at Tom Thumb and she told him the pallets they had delivered that day were the only ones they were getting, so he bought some because we'll be in our new house just before Halloween and he didn't want to disappoint the new neighbors and kids and you guys, I have never been more attracted to him. I was way too tired to do anything about it, but he is such a keeper.

I am now back from NYC and in the office conducting the University of Chicago Law School OCI interviews tomorrow (OCI is all virtual this year, which is super weird, but I'm not sad to not be on anothr plane). James and I have a date tomorrow night and then the weekend is all about back to school prep. In one week I'll have a high schooler, 7th grader, and 3rd grader and everyone is very nervous and excited and also a lot of nervous. Moving is hard.
Grateful for our idyllic weekend in the big woods and looking forward to all our adventures ahead.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Frequent Flyers

Currently on my millionth plane in the last few days, this time with the kids (though not with James who is at a swim meet), heading to my family reunion in the great woods and beautiful lakes of Wisconsin. It's been six years since we graced the shores of Silver Lake, where I spent so many summers of my childhood, camping in my family's trailer on my grandpa's lake lot, right next to the farm where he grew up. I'm so excited. It's been a crazy week and a half.
Last Thursday I flew to Monterey for a firm hosted client event at Pebble Beach. It was an honor to be invited and I gave a CLE presentation one evening.
I met some fabulous people and clients. It was also gorgeous and in the 50's every day and I got to turn the fireplace on in my room and throw the patio doors open and almost be chilly. And after many days of 110+ in Dallas it was GLORIOUS.
I am not a golfer, but my dad is a GREAT golfer and he has never been to Pebble Beach and he was equally happy for me and jealous for him. I bought a pink plaid golf shirt off Amazon and took a golf lesson in his honor.
The Pebble Beach golf pro was amazing. So calm and encouraging and always finding something nice to say about whatever I was doing while also managing to correct however many things I was doing wrong.
I also got to learn from a golf robot which was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
I can't say I'm going pro yet, but I do now know how to hold a golf club and I'm a weirdly good chipper. It was also SO fun to reconnect with some of the attorneys I worked with in the Austin office lo those many years ago. Especially friends I now get to call partner.
I also did an e-bike ride down 17 mile drive. I saw seals and otters and lots of birds, along with about 100 houses I would really REALLY like to tour. I hadn't ridden a bike since I was in the Netherlands in 2004, so I was a little nervous, but turns out, it IS exactly like riding a bike! There was also a putting contest and my teammate and I balanced each other's champagne glasses AND we did not get last and I feel like we were the true winners.
On Sunday morning I got to wake up at 4:30 a.m., fly to Dallas, spend the afternoon with the kids, unpack/repack, and then fly to Denver for a deposition the next day. Except my flight was delayed about 2 hours, so I spent a very long time nursing this glass of wine and getting work done at a comfortable table. I got to my hotel about 1 a.m., worked much, and then mid-deposition on Tuesday got an email from Southwest that my flight- the last flight to Dallas- had been canceled. James had already left for a swim meet, and the kids were at home waiting for me to join them after dinner, and Maggie was now at risk of being promoted to overnight babysitter. (Or, let's be real, the cats would be the ones in charge.)
After many emails, I got a new, even later flight landing at a different airport where my car would not be sometime after midnight, and our wonderful house manager volunteered to stay the night. That flight got delayed as well and I got home about 2 a.m., abandoning my car to airport #1, and taking an Uber in to work a few hours later. I was supposed to see Mean Girls in Fort Worth last night, and while I was SO excited for it and to catch up with my friend going with me, I finally had to back out. I hadn't unpacked from Denver, much less packed for Wisconsin, or sat on my own couch in far too long and Cora had had quite enough of this nonsense. If I was going to move to Dallas, the least I could do is live there as well. She's tough, but fair.
I know it's been hard, but as I've told her, of all my trips recently only one of them has been something I couldn't say no to. These first six months are my road show and I'm building something and I'm so excited and truly loving every minute, and my family has been AMAZING, but I'm not sad that I will have both feet in Dallas for all of August. Even if it is pretty much the worst month to be here.
Last night, once I finally collected my car, still waiting patiently at the airport (though sadly not the airport we were flying out of today), drove home, packed, and spent a whole luxurious evening with the kids. We ate dinner and watched the Disney+ Baymax series and it was ADORABLE. We loved it. All the stars; highly recommend.

In addition to my travels, the kids have also been living their best lives. Cora went to soccer camp at Texas A&M and LOVED IT. I also love that Landon (15) had his first sleepaway camp the same summer Cora (8) did. #ThirdBaby
Claire got to come to my office one day and fell in love with my little window nook. She has requested to be my assistant and spend all her time writing in journals in that corner. Not sure how that assists me, but happy to add to the team.
And Landon spend a week with my sister and her crew in Boulder, flying alone there and back, navigating the airports, and being SuperCousin to her girls.
And that's where we're at! Currently circling Minneapolis, about to land, get our rental car, and drive to Wisconsin to see my parents, all my siblings, all four of my nieces and my one nephew, AND my aunt and uncle and it will be SO FUN! It is the twins' first birthday and I can't think of a better place to celebrate. Looking forward to a long weekend of fun lake days, cool Wisconsin nights, and listening to cousins play together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Proof of Life, and a Birthday (and a House!)

Hi everyone! I did finally recover from my Covid. And by "recover" I mean that my fever went away, the body aches faded, and I stopped feeling like I would pass out any time I did something more than lay in bed all day and sleep, but the headache remained for a long time (and occasionally still pops up, but softer, like a nagging reminder of what it used to feel like) and my congestion and cough (now dry and far less frequent) remain. My fever ended on Day 6. I was capable of working from home starting on Day 8. I tested negative on Day 13. No one else in the family ever tested positive or exhibited any symptoms.
(Homemade cards are Cora's love language and she worked SO hard on this one. It was passed to me under the door when I was actually starting to feel better, but I feel like all her efforts over the previous days are what finally broke my fever.)
And after exactly a month away, I was VERY excited to go back to work on Day 15.
I felt like I was on parade all day, waving to colleagues and catching up with everyone, but I was *exhausted* when I got home. Nurse Moose stepped in and made it VERY clear that I was to rest.
Also, last Friday, this tiny little baby Landon turned FIFTEEN years old.
Fifteen, y'all. The baby who made us parents, the leader of our Fike pack, the kid who is always on the roof, always climbing something he shouldn’t, and always ready for our next adventure. He is deeply chatty, especially when it’s time to go to bed, loves the cats more than anything, does extra workouts for fun, and remains a general delight. We love him so much.
He got an Apple watch that he has desperately wanted for at least a year.
And his sister's picked out their own special gifts for him which he loved very much.
We didn't have our usual birthday party decor drawer because all of that is in storage, but he was pleased with his Target shark theme and dollar store gift bags. It was a very sweet morning.
Today that little boy flew all by himself to Denver, handling security, getting to his gate, the Southwest seating lineup, flying, landing, and riding the train to baggage claim in the Denver airport with ease. My sister and her girls picked him up and it was the sweetest thing.
He's going to have such a blast playing with his cousins, helping my sister, hiking in the mountains, and otherwise enjoying a place that is NOT 118 degrees during the day.
Meanwhile over here in Dallas the bulldog wants you to know this weather is some bullshit, but she is a lady so she'll still go outside for the bare minimum necessary to go potty and then come in and recover.
Also we kinda sorta saw a house for 10 minutes yesterday, put in an offer last night, and just got the signed and executed offer back tonight! We're going to have a forever home!! It's beautiful and I'm still a bit in shock. The close will be late August and then we're giving the owners a 2-month leaseback, but by the end of October we should be in our house and home for the holidays and I am SO EXCITED. Living out of boxes is not my favorite and I hate not having a home I can make beautiful and feel like our own.

And now, while I would love to write more, I'm also giving a CLE presentation to more than 400 virtual audience members tomorrow, so I should probably figure out what I am going to say before tucking myself in bed.