Recent Beauty Favorites

I always love reading about what beauty products bloggers use and love. I change up my beauty routine a lot, so today I’d like to share what I’m using these days (especially as we transition to summer – hello humidity!).

Recent Beauty Favorites - East &

1. Redken All Soft Shampoo and Conditioner

After years of using Pureology, I found my hair was maybe getting used to it or something and needed to change it up. I’d heard good things about the All Soft line and decided to give it a try.

I love the shampoo, probably because it isn’t sulfate-free and therefore gets nice and lathery. Unlike other shampoos with sulfates though, this has not made my scalp itchy. I do think my hair feels softer, but I don’t know that it looks softer, which I’d prefer.

2. Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

Holy Grail foundation right here. I’ve used the Double Wear and the Double Wear light and both are amazing. After our recent vacation, I was a little too tan for my Double Wear Light in 0.5 but the 1.0 was a little too pink. The original Double Wear line has more color options and I found my perfect match in 1N1 Light Ivory, a more yellow based foundation.

The thing about this foundation is that the original Double Wear is almost completely opaque. I have no idea how anyone could call this anything other than a full-coverage foundation. I apply the Double Wear Light with a beauty blender but switched to the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush for the Double Wear, as the beauty blender was giving me too much of a full coverage look.

The other great thing about this foundation is it doesn’t budge. I’m always so impressed when my face looks the same at 5pm as it did at 8am. Perfect for summer.

3. Milani Baked Blushes

As an avid reader of beauty blogs, I’ve heard people rave about this line of blushes. Somehow the Milani section of our local CVS is always really picked through so I’ve never found the shades that I’d want to try.

I popped in another CVS recently and found Milani buy one get one 50% off and fully stocked. Woo hoo!

I bought Luminoso (which is supposed to be a dupe for Nars Orgasm, though I don’t think it is) and Dolce Pink, which looked a little too sparkly but was so gorgeous I had to try it. I like the Dolce Pink better because the Luminoso is a little too peach for me (i.e. can look orange if I’m too heavy handed).

Milani Baked Blushes - Dolce Pink and Luminoso

4. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Primrose

I saw this somewhere on a beauty blog and thought it looked like a lovely cool pink. Since I’m getting out of my red lipstick wearing season (dark lips are more of a winter thing for me), I was looking for a new staple that wasn’t too bold.

I love this shade, which has been called a dupe for MAC Snob (I don’t know if it is, I’ve never bought MAC lipstick). When I first put it on, I always think it looks too Barbie pink but once it settles in a bit, it’s fabulous.

5. Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner in Charcoal

I try other eyeliners and then I always come back to this one. It’s the easiest eyeliner to get a smooth, even line. Plus it stays put, even on humid days.

6. Cotz Face Natural SPF 40

My ultimate beauty product. A sunscreen that feels like a primer. It’s divine. I wear it every single day. I moisturize, apply sunscreen, then makeup.

7. Clinique Moisture Surge Intense

I tried and loved the original gel version (Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief) of this moisturizer but still had some patchy dryness. Once I upgraded to the intense version, those patches went away.

I ran out of this stuff a week before our vacay and in an effort to save money, I decided to try Neutrogena Hydro-Boost Water Gel, which looked like it might be similar. It’s not. I’d say it compares to the original version of this the Clinique but wasn’t strong enough for my dry skin.

8. Benzoyl Peroxide Spot Treatment 2.5%

I use this as spot treatment for pimples and have for years. I originally used the Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatmentbut now just use the CVS brand. I read that in terms of acne fighting, the 2.5% is as effective as the 10%, but is far less drying. I do find that if I spot treat with this as soon as I spot a pimple coming, it goes away before becoming anything major.

9. Banana Boat Protect and Hydrate Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

I was actually sent this product for a sponsored post last year and absolutely loved it. I ran out of the original bottles they sent me long ago and have bought at least 3 bottles since then.

I like the feel and the smell of this product. It’s much more like lotion and doesn’t feel too sunscreeny, so it’s perfect for daily use. I also think the scent is more fresh (like cucumber?) and a little less feminine than the Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration (which I also love) so I can get N to wear it too.

10. Ipsy

You guys, I freaking love Ipsy. It was the first subscription box I ever tried and every month I look forward to it. Not once have I been disappointed and I always feel the value of the products is well over the $10 I spend.

Thanks for letting me pretend to be a beauty blogger today. Now tell me, what beauty products are you loving these days?

How to Keep a White Duvet Cover Clean (Even With a Dog!)

I’d always assumed that I couldn’t have a white duvet cover, because we have a dog.

It seems that all white decor is all the rage (is that an expression people still use? no? oops). All over Pinterest and Instagram, ladies are showcasing their crisp white interiors. I enjoy looking at them but often wonder how livable those spaces are.

Do those people not spill on themselves? Do they not drag in all kinds of city dirt? Do they not have dogs?

Our space is nothing like that (it’s been described by others as “artsy” and “eclectic”), but a white duvet is a classic look that I’ve always loved.

One day, Pinterest got the best of me and I found myself at Target, buying a white duvet cover. Three months (and many washes) later, it’s still on our bed and it’s still crisp white. Here’s how we keep our white duvet cover clean, even with a dog.

How to Keep Your White Duvet Cover Clean (Even With a Dog!) - Cleaning tips for your white duvet cover, a helpful tutorial for dog owners who want to embrace the crisp white trend! |

1. Don’t Invest in the Best

Before buying a nice, high-thread count white duvet cover, we bought a test duvet. A test duvet? Isn’t that a huge waste of money? Eh, it kind of is. But it’s better to spend $30 to find out if something works for you than spend $100 to find out immediately that it doesn’t.

We bought the cheapest white duvet cover I found, this RE one from Target. It was $29.99, plus we got it 10% off  (a sale that is currently running now actually using the code HOMESAVE10), and we have the Target RedCard so our total was about $25.

I figured, if we absolutely couldn’t keep it clean, we could buy a different duvet cover or go back to our old one and at least we wouldn’t have spent a ton of money. Now that I know I can keep it clean, I guess we could buy a nicer one but you know what? This inexpensive Target one is working just fine so it’s actually still on our bed.

2. Drape a blanket over the end of the bed

Because of how our bedroom is arranged, Archie consistently jumps on the bottom third of the bed, since that’s the part that sticks out into the room.

We have a light quilt draped over the bottom third of the bed to act as his landing area. Even if he moves around after that, his paws have already been wiped off by the initial jump.

The blanket draped at the bottom of our bed gets dirty pretty quickly, but it’s also a lot easier to wash than a duvet. Ours is a soft blue color but you could have this be white as well. We throw this blanket in the wash frequently, since it catches most of the dirt and is easier to wash than the duvet cover.

3. Regular washes with Oxi-Clean or Bleach

We wash our fitted sheet and duvet once a week (we don’t use a flat sheet). We use hot water, dye and scent free detergent, and add Oxi-Clean or bleach.

I honestly can’t tell which works better but I know bleach can be harsh on fabrics so I try to alternate. Either way, every stain has come out.

I’ve heard that hot water sets stains but have not found this to be true with dirt. Additionally, I always do sheets in hot water to get them squeaky clean (and disinfected).

4. Handle big messes immediately

At some point, your dog will get on your white duvet with muddy paws. That or he’ll grab your fiancés muddy shoe and bring it in to bed (was that example too specific? Cause it’s happened at least 3 times). A mess will happen at some point.

Each time this has happened, we’ve handled it as quickly as possible. I spot treat with an Oxi-Clean spray and throw it in the washer immediately. Stains that dry are much more difficult to get out.

Another stain trick? If you can still see the stain after the wash, don’t put it in the dryer. Spot treat it again and re-wash.

5. Don’t Allow Your Dog On Your Bed


Try telling that to Archie. I don’t care what color our bedspread is, Archie needs his memory foam and he needs his cuddles. We’ve never attempted to keep him off the bed, and always assumed that he’d sleep with us (after he was done crate training).

But honestly, I’m astounded at how easy it has been to have a white duvet cover and to keep it clean, even with a dog. So if you’re a fellow dog parent, don’t be afraid of the white duvet!


Give Me Back My Internet

internet obsessed

Since about 2001, I’ve had pretty consistent access to the internet. Remember waiting for the modem to dial-up? I’d wait patiently, hogging the family home phone line while I checked my email address, each page taking nearly a minute to load.

I only vaguely remember a time before our home had a computer (shout out to our boxy, grey Power Macintosh circa 1994 – you were the gateway drug to my technology addiction). In fact, I honestly can’t remember a time longer than maybe a day when I haven’t had access to the internet.

Before we left for vacation, I thought that being cut off from the internet for a week might be nice. My active, constant use of the internet sometimes makes it hard for me to give anything my full attention. A whole evening can go by and I’ll realize that I’ve paid zero attention to N because I was “doing blog stuff” (which somehow involves 30% writing and 70% making graphics and trying to fix stupid formatting stuff).

Before we left, I scheduled two blog posts for this blog and two for Blog Brighter. I was proud of myself for not completely dropping the ball but I knew that it would be a challenge for me to just send posts out in to the world and not be able to read the comments or get a feel for how the posts were being received (I’m always scared I’ll start some big commotion and suddenly everyone will hate me. Isn’t blogging fun?).

So it came as a surprise to me when I realized that not only was I a little antsy about not being able to access my blogs (or Twitter and Instagram), but somehow my brain has become completely dependent on Google for everything from basic information to actual survival.

Like for instance, what should you do when you sunburn your butt cheeks? Is Tylenol the better option? Or ibuprofen? Should I just go with aloe or should I steal some green tea bags and find a way to soak in them?

Stuff like this kept happening all week. At one point I actually wondered if the cruise ship had a set of encyclopedias, just so I could look something up.

Like, am I seasick or just hungover? What is it like to work on a cruise ship? What beach is the best beach in St. Lucia? What to do if you are supposed to take your medicine at night but you weren’t thinking and took it in the morning? Without the internet, you literally cannot know.

I was honestly astounded by the number of things that I just don’t know and cannot figure out on my own without the help of Google. It made me feel super dependent and every time I couldn’t get an instant answer, a little ragey.

And it was such an innate reaction – don’t know something? Google it. My mind instantly believes that if I don’t know the answer to something, I can find it easily, in a matter of minutes, on my phone.

I guess what I’m saying is, if the apocalypse happens, I’ll be the first to go. Probably because without Google, I accidentally took the wrong medicines together and it killed me, got food poisoning from cooking something at the wrong temperature, or generally did not possess enough survival skills due to my complete dependency on technology.

p.s. As much as I missed the internet, I missed Archie even more.

p.s.s. I promise I’ll stop talking about our vacation now.

The Vacation Spot We Should Have Considered

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Puerto Rico, The All-Star Island. All opinions are 100% mine.

Earlier this week, I shared all of the islands we visited on our cruise. What I didn’t share with you was how much I loved the starting and ending point – Puerto Rico!

When I booked the cruise, I kind of assumed that Puerto Rico was just the entry point to the good parts of our vacation and wasn’t going to be a highlight of our trip. I was absolutely wrong.

Just to be on the safe side, we booked our flights to Puerto Rico for Saturday and the cruise left Sunday night. I booked our stay at a fairly inexpensive hotel for that night, right in San Juan.

Since we had a little time on Sunday morning before we got on the cruise, we decided to venture to the beach. As I mentioned, our expectations were low, as we just viewed Puerto Rico as our “port of call”.

We walked on the beach and moments later, we were doing this:

San Juan, Puerto Rico Beach

It was gorgeous! How come I hadn’t considered Puerto Rico before?

And truthfully, the beach we visited wasn’t even one of their top ranked beaches. Puerto Rico has 270 miles of coastline and featured in the Top 10 beaches from Travel Channel — including Flamenco Beach in Culebra, often cited as one of the best beaches in the world.

One of the great things about Puerto Rico is that you don’t need a passport and there is no need for a currency exchange (actually, I was surprised that we were able to use American dollars everywhere we went in the Caribbean).

Next time we head to Puerto Rico (and there will be a next time), I want to check out the bioluminescent bays (google it, they look amazing). Plus, they have the only US National Park Service rainforest. We’ll certainly be sticking around for longer than a day. Puerto Rico is filled with world-class attractions that will turn any trip into a 5-star vacation story. Live your own 5-star vacation story in Puerto Rico.

In fact, for a minute I even considered that we should have done something like this for our wedding instead:

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Recently Read Vol. 6

I just returned from vacation where I had terrible wi-fi for about 10 minutes every three days. I’d like to say this was freeing and wonderful but I actually missed the internet. A lot. But I read a lot, something else I enjoy and don’t do enough of.

Looking for a summer reading recommendation? This post is for you.

Recently Read Vol. 6

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gundenkauf

The Weight of Silence by Heather GudenkaufI bought this book years ago at Goodwill for 25 cents and it has sat on my shelf since then. That is basically a crime. This is the kind of book that hooks you from the very beginning and you don’t put it down until you’re done. I read the last 200 pages in one sitting.

The Weight of Silence is about the disappearance of two young girls, best friends and neighbors. Both are gone from their beds in the middle of the night with very few clues about what happened. Were they together? Were they taken? Did they go by choice? The story is written from the perspective of nearly every character, with each chapter changing perspective. I was absolutely riveted. While the plots are very different, if you liked Gone Girl, you might like this.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin HannahFirst, let me start by saying that this book has 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 4890 reviews. That’s like unheard of. So I knew going into it that there was a good chance I’d like it. I’ve also read a lot of WWII fiction. Historical fiction from this time period is probably my favorite. I’ve also read a lot of Kristin Hannah’s novels. This was not like anything else she’s written.

The Nightingale follows two young French sisters in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. We learn quickly that Vivian is married and her husband is at war. She is left at home to care for their young daughter. Her younger sister Isabelle has an adventurous spirit and is willing to take big risks to keep France from falling to Hitler.

I found that the novel moved a bit slower than I expected, though it always held my attention. The ending was satisfying and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Sarah’s Key or Those Who Save Us (reviews on those two books and others like them here).

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go BernadetteI’d heard that this book was good and that was true. I read the entire thing in one sitting. The story is written from the perspective of Bee, a young teen who is trying to figure out what happened to her Mom (Bernadette), who has gone missing.

I absolutely loved how the story is told via emails, documents, letters, faxes, and Bee’s commentary. I’ve never read a book with a format like this and it keeps you from ever getting bored. Though it sounds from the descriptions I read that it is a mystery, it’s actually quite a funny read and you’re on the edge of your seat but not the way you are with a traditional mystery/thriller. It’s a genre all to itself.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainI read this book because I’d heard it was a great read if you liked Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

After Gone Girl, I read Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places and Sharp Objects and was a bit let down by both so was hoping that this book would satisfy my craving for a mildly disturbing, addicting thriller. I liked it, but not better than Gone Girl. It is similar to Gillian Flynn novels in that almost all of the characters are completely unlikable.

The main character, Rachel, is an alcoholic whose husband divorced her after he got his mistress pregnant. The three of them now live in the home Rachel used to live in, which Rachel rides by every day on the train. Ouch. It alternates perspectives between Rachel and a woman named Megan. What unfolds is a gripping thriller, and though I kept reading, I had a hard time believing that any real person would make many of the decisions that Rachel makes.

To fans of Gone Girl, rest assured that this has a more satisfying ending.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for AlaskaAfter reading (and loving) The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns (review here), I knew I had to read something else by John Green. Looking for Alaska did not disappoint. From the very beginning, you know something is going to happen and you know when, because there is a black page in the middle that says “after” on it. It’s impossible to not flip to that page when you first pick up the book, so you know something happens. Because it feels like you know when the climax of the book is coming, I felt in a rush to read it. I didn’t have to get to the end, I just needed to get to that dark page.

This book follows a teenager named Miles as he goes (by choice) to boarding school in Alabama in search of “the great perhaps”. What Miles wants is to lead a less boring life. He craves adventure. What follows is a lot of typical teenage stuff, some adventures, and a lot of real life.

I wish I had read this book as a teenage girl because I feel like I would have understood guys better. And not just the buff, jock, jerk guys. The regular guys. The guys who actually deserved my attention. This book would be great for teenagers (probably 15+ due to some subject matter) and adults.

Now excuse me, I’ve got to open another tab so I can order my next John Green novel.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan TrainOrphan Train alternates perspective between two orphans – Molly, a Penobscot Indian who is now in the foster system, and Vivian, a woman now in her 90s. Molly is close to aging out of the foster system and after a bit of a mess up, needs to do 50 hours of community service. Vivian’s story starts out in Ireland, takes her through Ellis Island and to New York, and later on the “orphan train” from New York to the midwest. Her story was the one I found most gripping but I really loved how the two stories intertwined as Molly helped Vivian clean out her attic.

The Orphan Trains are definitely a piece of American history that I didn’t know about and, after working so closely with social workers in my real life, it was shocking to see how social issues were handled way back when. I got to a point where I absolutely couldn’t put this book down. I read it in a day.

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

What She Left BehindThis book was recommended to me by Amazon, which, by they way, I feel like NAILS their recommendations. I shouldn’t have read it back to back with Orphan train, because both have similar protagonists (the two teenage girls, both in the foster system) and I kept getting their back stories mixed up.

What She Left Behind alternates between 1930’s Clara, the 19 year-old daughter of a wealthy couple who is secretly a flapper with an Italian lover, and Izzy. Izzy’s story is set in present day (maybe the 90s?). After Izzy’s mother shoots her father, Izzy is put in to foster care where she bounces around a lot before winding up with a nice couple, just months before she turns 18. A smart girl who has few plans for her own future, she begins helping her foster Mother on a project for the museum she works for. The task? Looking through the suitcases of patients at Willard State Insane asylum.

It was horrifying to hear how easy it was to be locked away in a asylum for things like postpartum depression, adultery, or even just because your husband or father wanted you there. Women were far more likely to wind up in insane asylums than men in this time. Treatment was rarely humane and many of the treatments were shocking to read about (insulin shock therapy, for instance), especially from the perspective of a sane woman.

I enjoyed this book very much and appreciated the tidy ending.

Now tell me, what should I read next? Please leave your book recommendations below!

15 Pictures That Might Make You Jealous

In case you missed it on Instagram (follow me here), we were on vacation last week. We took the Carnival Liberty out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and stopped each day on a different island.

To say I had an amazing time would be an understatement. It was my first real vacation as a grown up. We didn’t go for any particular reason. We had no agenda and no plans. We just went. And oh, how glad I am that we did.

All photos were taken with my old iPhone 5 with a gloriously cracked screen and are unedited. I’d highly recommend using an old iPhone as a camera while at the beach. It was super portable, did the job, and I never worried too much about it getting stolen or damaged.

In case you’re interested, here are some photos and a review of our experience on each island.

St. Thomas

Magens Bay St ThomasRelaxing at Magens Bay St ThomasView of Carnival Liberty Ship from St Thomas

  • Went to Magen’s Bay
  • Most beautiful scenery from the beach
  • Jungle looking landscape
  • Rode in an old pickup truck that had been converted into a 10 passenger vehicle
  • Secluded beach but easier to have more space and privacy if you walk down the beach, away from where the trucks drop you (and every other tourist) off
  • Probably the most beautiful view from the beach of all the beaches we went to


Beautiful Beach in Barbados Feet in the Sand in Barbados

  • Ported in Bridgetown
  • Went to Bayshore Beach
  • Difficult to enjoy because of all of the vendors and people hassling you
  • Started an inside joke with N where we repeatedly ask the other person “you want to jetski?” “you want to see the turtles?”
  • Felt the least safe
  • Calm and warm water
  • The hassling and general yuckiness of always feeling like they were trying to sell you something made this my least favorite
  • Was later told by a retired Canadian couple that there are tons of great, less touristy, more secluded beaches in Barbados and what we saw wasn’t indicative of all of Barbados

St. Lucia

View from Fort Rodney St Lucia Port St Lucia Pigeons Island St LuciaFloating in Caribbean

  • Went to Pigeon Island and hiked up to Fort Rodney
  • Most beautiful view from our trip
  • The port was nice, not industrial looking like some of the other ports
  • Jungle landscape that was so green and lovely
  • Calm water you could just float in
  • Had low expectations and was therefore absolutely blown away

St. Kitts

Shipwreck Beach St Kitts St Kitts where Caribbean and Atlantic MeetCarib Beer in St Kitts View from Shipwrecks Beach St. Kitts

  • Went to Shipwreck beach
  • The landscape was dry and desert like, a stark contrast to St. Lucia
  • They used to grow sugar by now they make parts for electronics, which showed in the number of factories and the large industrial area
  • Took a decade old Mercedes van up the side of a mountain and then back down
  • There were no guard rails and the original road was closed off due to landslide
  • I was effing terrified the entire ride
  • When we arrived at Shipwreck beach, we found it was secluded and beautiful
  • Very few vendors, rented two beach chairs and an umbrella for $15
  • Had more than a couple of drinks so I wouldn’t have a panic attack on the drive back over the hill
  • Ultimately decided that the view and safe, laid back experience was worth the terrifying drive
  • For the record, N thought the drive was “fun” and “the view was pretty”

Sint Maarten/St. Martin

Orient Beach St Martin Amazing ViewOrient Beach Dogs Allowed

  • Saved the best for last – it was my absolute favorite
  • Took a van from the Dutch side (Sint Maarten) to the French side (St. Martin) to go to Orient Beach
  • There are closer beaches but Orient Beach was worth the ride
  • Actually had waves – not too big, just enough that they were crazy fun to float over but never scary
  • There were dogs! Seems like a lot of vacationers brought their dogs with them or maybe they were locals (they weren’t strays)
  • The color of the water was unreal, the most extreme aqua of all the islands
  • After a week of super calm water, I’d forgotten how fun it is to ride the waves
  • Next time we go to the Caribbean, this is where you’ll find me

As a note, for years I’ve read blogs where it seems like the author goes on vacation after vacation. Every time a blogger posted her vacay pics, you can bet I was sitting in my office, jealousy pouring out of my eyeballs. Because see, I thought vacations were crazy expensive. I assumed we just weren’t the kind of people who could vacation. I’d never been able to afford a vacation before but I guess I’d never really tried that hard to afford a vacation.

Turns out, cruises aren’t that expensive. We wanted to see a bunch of places and we got to. I liked that so much of everything was paid for before we ever got on board. I didn’t love the cruise environment (meh it was fine, it just wasn’t my favorite part) but I loved seeing a new place every day. It was good for my adventurous, cautious heart. And we didn’t break the bank doing it.

If you’re interested in a cruise, consider checking the prices a couple months out. We booked this cruise in March and, because it was so close to the sail date, the prices had dropped drastically. For the record, I just checked and there is a 7 day cruise in September leaving from Miami for $359 per person.

Also, a big thanks to Casey from Road Less Traveled Vacations for her advice and insight about whether or not we should buy the drink package (we didn’t, and I’m glad). Thanks for your help, Casey!

p.s. In case you missed it last week on Blog Brighter, here are 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Blog and 15 Beautiful Brush Lettered Fonts.

Does Having Kids Affect Your Friendships?

Golden Retriever

A lot of our couple friends got dogs around the same time we did. When we get together for group events we often let all the dogs play together, and then watch them and chit chat and marvel at how sweet/goofy/loveable our pups are. It’s in those moments that I realize we’ll probably be doing the same thing with our human children in a few years time.

And then I realize how differently we’ve raised and parent (discipline/train) our dogs. I worry that we’ll all be such different types of parents that it will be hard to stay as close as we are now.

At dinner several months ago with my Mom and Grandma, they insisted that many of our friendships will change when we have kids. I know this is probably true, but what if I don’t want it to be?

This is something I think about fairly frequently, especially as our friends are all getting engaged and married and are pondering kiddohs in the next few years. As time goes on, I’m less worried about the lifestyle change (because let’s be honest, we don’t party too hard these days) but more worried about having wildly different parenting ideologies from the people closest to us. What if we love each other as people but can’t stand each other as parents? It’s a scary thing.

So my question to the Moms out there is this: how did having kids affect your friendships?