Podcast: Superficial things episode

One of the best “pro tips” I have for surviving working parenthood is to plan for things to go wrong. If Plan A falls through, what are you going to do? Having a good Plan B is often the difference between life feeling workable and chaos.

Anyway, Sarah and I recorded today’s podcast back in April, partly because we had a lot of guest episodes coming up, and we wanted to have a back-up plan in case one of those episodes fell through. By recording an “evergreen” episode that could sub in, we’d always have a back-up plan.

Then, miraculously, all went well! So it is finally airing now. Anyway, we proudly bring you the Superficial Things episode, which covers all manner of frivolity. Among the topics:

Packing. We recorded this shortly after I got back from the London spring break trip with the kids. I’m a pretty low-maintenance person, and this showed up in our packing: 3 children and I traveled with two carry-ons and our personal items (small backpacks for the kids and a purse for me). It works. I hate checking bags.

What Not To Wear. This episode covers a lot of topics related to physical appearances. There is always a tension with this, in that we find it most unfortunate that people are judged on what they look like. That said, we can work for a better world while still living in the current one. We can work with whatever nature gave us, knowing that there can be some real professional pay-offs in aiming for the top of the range. This brought us back to the show What Not To Wear. They featured a good diversity of shapes and sizes and people always looked fabulous at the end of their make-overs. A good hair cut and clothes that work with your body can do a lot.

Sarah’s party trick. In her work as a pediatric endocrinologist, Sarah deals with kid growth issues. As part of this, she often measures the parents, which means she has gotten very good at assessing people’s heights by looking at them. With a high degree of precision. As in, she maintains that my husband is 6′ 2.5″, not 6’3″. (In his defense, he will often say 6’2″-6’3″ when asked).

Comfortable clothing. Does anyone else struggle with being grown-up about uncomfortable clothes and shoes? I have a really hard time with making myself wear them.

Make-up. I said I would hire a make-up artist to help me learn what to buy. I have not done this yet. Sarah is looking for ways to make lipstick not look clownish on her. There is a fine line between looking like you’re wearing way too much on the lip and looking like you’re wearing nothing (which somewhat defeats the purpose).

Skin. I did go to the dermatologist, but did not try Botox yet. I was a little bit wigged out by the idea of my forehead muscles getting droopy (an occasional bad effect – then you’re happy it wears off after a few months). I may try it some time when I don’t have anything big coming up. I wound up getting a Retin-A prescription, but I can’t say it’s had a huge effect yet. The dermatologist told me 8-12 weeks and I started in April.

Nails. Just no. Neither of us can keep a manicure, though Sarah does do pedicures. I think this is a hazard of living in Miami Beach. People actually see your feet in a way they just don’t in suburban PA.

The sanctity of the nap. Our Q&A is from a listener who heard our travel episode with Henley Vazquez and asked about traveling with an infant who still naps multiple times per day. Neither of us is a big believer in naps at absolutely set times in the crib — though partly that’s because our kids are temperamentally flexible. If your kid will *only* sleep in a crib, then you’d probably become fundamentalist about it! Baby morning naps are pretty inconvenient from a whole-family perspective, so that might be the one best taken in the stroller. Then everyone can go back to the hotel for some downtime in the afternoon. That might lower the chances of dinner time meltdowns. Maybe. When traveling with little kids it’s all a crapshoot anyway.


18 thoughts on “Podcast: Superficial things episode

  1. I loved this episode! I also started breaking out in my mid-30s. Finally got something that works – makeup remover (oil cleanser), then a regular cleanser, and curology prescription. Favorite base makeup that is easy – IT cosmetics CC cream or Clinique even better makeup – both seem an easy step up from the drugstore and help me look a little better but not overly made up. Still looking for a lipstick – I feel the same as you two – like I’m not myself if I wear it. But, as I have aged towards late 30s I can tell that my natural lip color has faded. A friend swears Maybelline baby lips balm is perfect on anyone – the package looks like chapstick, so maybe I need to try it…

  2. I really enjoy the podcast, but I was a bit bemused by the crack about UK hotels not meeting the Americans with disabilities act. The relevant legislation in the UK is similarly strong, but (in London for example) has to take account that much of the housing stock is pre-1800, so there’s a limit to what you can do. And in 20+ years of staying in UK hotels, I have never yet found a hotel where you can’t fit your checked bags in the lift with you…

    I have to say though, that the idea of travelling with only hand luggage for a week abroad was astonishing! I recently did 7 days in Washington/ Florida for work and tagged on fun, no way could I have done that without a checked bag!

    Take care & keep up the good work.

    1. @Antonia – yes, the pre-1800 stock does limit what you can do – it’s always amusing to see how some older hotels have squeezed in bathrooms for instance. I was picturing with that line something more along the lines of the hotels I’ve stayed at in those little walled cities in Spain. The “road” next to the hotel is something like a staircase!

  3. Oh Laura I have to speak up as a dermatologist and a huge neuromodulator fan…try the Botox. If you really hate it it’ll be gone in 3-4 months like you said, but I have really high suspicions that you’ll like it since most of our patients come back for more! And definitely definitely stick with the RetinA. It makes the most difference over years of use. And I haven’t had a chance to listen to the episode yet but sunscreen every day! I think of that as the trifecta 🙂

    1. @Riley- thanks for the advice! I suspect it was your instagram feed I was quoting joking about people who think Greek yogurt will get rid of their wrinkles 🙂 Ah, getting older…

  4. Love the temperamentally flexible nappers. We did the first settling in visit at nursery today and they asked about his nap routine. Umm….sometimes he naps in the pram? Sometimes he naps on the floor? I am hoping they have some sort of secret make my kid nap trick.

    1. @Cb – my oldest was a flexible napper (well, and didn’t like to sleep in general – he still doesn’t). I’d hear about families racing home to get the kid in the crib by 12:30, or parents racing home from work to see kids before a 7 p.m. bedtime and I’d think huh, interesting. It’s nothing they did wrong or I did wrong – kids are who they are.

  5. Definitely share your opinions on lipstick and manicures! Those have always been the things that Real Grownup Ladies have. Around age 35, I decided it was ok not to care about them. That said, even Saturday mornings at home involve full eyeliner and three shades of eyeshadow!

    Also, three cheers for packing light! It’s a fun challenge and makes travel so much easier. We did Prague for a week in the winter (read: cold, rainy) with two international-size carryons and two personal items for four people.

    1. Also, forgot to add: if you want someone to guide your makeup decision making, the Bobbi Brown counter tends to be staffed with friendly folks who understand the meaning of subtlety – including foundation that you’ll never feel on your face, the opposite of stage makeup!

  6. Could you post a link to the blog – or the author’s website – about how to find a makeup consultant? It’s definitely something I’ve thought about over the years. I live in south FL, and I agree 100% with what Sarah said about the two camps – earth mother or shellac at all times. It can be a challenge when you’re one of those in the middle.

    1. @Amanda- So the blogger is Rebecca Fike, and her site is http://lagliv.blogspot.com — however, I can’t find the post about hiring a make-up consultant. Maybe Sarah knows the title of that post and can help us.

      I am neither an earth mother nor a shellac type…proud member of the middle too!

  7. I really enjoyed this episode being a lover of “Superficial Things” myself. I found a blog called ‘Putting Me Together’ that has the best regular-people fashion, and she’s also from California, so it’s especially helpful for me, now that I live here and it’s a tiny bit more dressed up/groomed than the Pacific NW.

    That said, I DO NOT wear uncomfortable shoes anymore. I’m just done. Definitely a fan of those “comfort shoe” brands like Clarks, Vionic, Dansko, etc. There are some cute ones out there, even with heels! Am definitely going to try Camper based on Sarah’s suggestion.

    I find that here I need to also get regular pedicures since there are only a few months where my feet are hidden. My other easy trick is eyebrow waxing – with that done, some mascara, MAC’s Studio Fix light powder foundation, and a quick swipe of a neutral-ish lipstick, my makeup is done in < 5min and I look way more polished.

    Laura – if you want a manicure, I suggest trying gel/shellac. It goes on your regular nails and it's totally dry by the time you leave the salon. That stuff is like magic and it lasts forever (a good 2 weeks plus for me). And I've never had to go back to the salon to get it removed – it generally comes off on its own.

    I'm also super intrigued by Japanese straightening. My Brazilian Blowout was quite a disappointment. 🙁

  8. Oh my goodness I loved this episode! Being in my early forties I feel like all of sudden everything is shifting down and I can no longer dress myself! So nice to hear talk about the superficial things that seem to monopolise my thoughts! Between working 50+hour weeks and running two highly active children (one which does triathlons and therefore trains 8sessions a week) around little time is left for my own exercise and self love! Thanks for inspiring me. Love listening each week. And I continue to fight to reach my goal of getting some kind of work life balance.

  9. Hi! I really loved this episode and I wish you both hadn’t apologized so much for the content. It seems like society has made it completely acceptable to brush off traditionally female interests–like hair, clothing and skincare–as superficial and silly. And that if you are a woman that is interested in these “superficial” topics then that means you, the woman, is also superficial. Female self-care is not silly. I believe women can be smart and interested in skincare at the same time and I don’t believe we need to apologize for it.

    I love your podcast. Please keep doing what you are doing. Women actively protecting their time is such an empowering idea. Thank You!

    1. @Melanie – thanks, and so glad you are liking the podcast! It’s been a really fun project, and a chance to talk about all kinds of interests!

  10. Shoes! Can you please post links to the shoes you mentioned? I am always looking for decent looking, shoes that also hold up well for wearing (in both worlds)! Many thanks.

    1. @Christine – I mentioned Clark’s – I have a pair of their wedges. I think we also mentioned Vionic. Hopefully Sarah can weigh in with hers as well.

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