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Mom Squad Makeover: Time For a Change
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- Starting The Next Chapter It's a time of change for mom and former Navy sailor Allison Leapard: Her husband, Rick, is just back from Iraq; her son, Ethan, is now a toddler; and her own school demands are getting tougher. So Leapard entered the Mom Squad video contest to get some help! (See her winning video at Parenting.com/momsquad.) Our team whisked her to New York for a whole-life makeover: She got a great new look and some simple tools to make her life saner. Get inspired!
Left: Leapard, before
- Nutrition: Baby Steps to Grown-Up Food
Mom Squad nutritionist Ellie Krieger, author of The Food You Crave, offered Leapard a few easy ways to include veggies in every meal:
Buy frozen They won't go bad, and they're the easiest to make for newbies. And if you go for the medley, it's more likely you'll all find something you like, says Krieger. Add a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkle of herbs for a little zing.
Add on a few fresh Think about what kinds of vegetables you can eat raw,like cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, and red peppers. Then when you're at the grocery store, be sure to toss one or two varieties into your cart every week. They'll be super easy to pop onto your plate at lunch or dinner each day (they can be a choking hazard, so cook them and cut them into bite-size pieces if you serve them to a toddler).
Try no-cook cooking Nobody said you have to be Top Chef-worthy to have a nice (and balanced) meal. Some foolproof and filling ideas: Make a salad with goat cheese, herbs, and white beans, or buy a store-roasted chicken and serve sliced tomatoes, red onions, basil, and olive oil on the side. Yummy, and so easy.
- Hair: The Mane Event
A long, blunt cut just wasn't showing off Leapard's great, wavy hair. So Mom Squad stylist Nikki An-Levi gave her a modern do that's still easy to style. Follow An-Levi's advice to make the magic happen for you:
What to say at the salon When you talk to the stylist, be honest about your lifestyle. If you just won't be happy without a ponytail, consider longish, sideswept bangs to soften your face, like An-Levi gave Leapard. If your hair is thick like Leapard's and you don't always have time to blow it dry, try layers, which will give your hair more shape.
What to do at home To get the kind of straight, sleek tresses pro An-Levi gave Leapard, you just need a powerful blow-dryer and a round brush. Blow-dry your wet hair using just your fingers until damp. Then clip into three sections and start using the brush. (It'll dry faster this way.) To limit the heat damage, keep the dryer moving from roots to ends.
- Makeup: Beauty Lesson
The simple application secrets that Mom Squad makeup artist Sara Johnson shared with Leapard:
Get even. Using a tinted moisturizer, powder, or foundation, start at your nose and blend outward toward your hairline.
Line up. Drag a black pencil along your upper lash lines, from the middle of your iris to a little bit past the outer edge of each eye; then smudge it with your finger to hide any mistakes.
Sweep on shadow. Apply a light neutral to the inner corners of eyes, and a darker one from the middle of your eyelids to the end of your brows.
Make the most of mascara. Curl your lashes (it takes five seconds and really makes a difference!), then shimmy the wand from root to tip. Wait five seconds and repeat. A great new mascara: Maybelline New York The Colossal Volum'Express, $7.50; mass retailers.
Don't forget to blush. For a pretty flush that'll last, dab a cream formula (like DuWop Blush Therapy in Vivaldi, $22; sephora.com) on the apples of your cheeks, then blend upward with your fingers.
- Fitness: Super-Speedy Workout
When naptime doesn't mean free time (Leapard has studying to do!), try this inside, kid-wide-awake workout from Mom Squad fitness expert Sharon Monplaisir:
1 Jump rope. It's easy on your joints, and you only need ten minutes a day. Piece of advice: Don't kick up your heels -- your feet should rise only high enough to clear the rope. Try the Buddy Lee Hyperperformance Speed Rope from Everlast ($30; buddyleejumpropes.com), which comes with a DVD.
- 2 Tone your lower half. Get more out of every workout minute with this Pilates Power Ring by SPRI ($30; amazon.com). It adds extra intensity to wall squats when you squeeze it between your knees and gives you resistance when you do leg lifts (lie on your side, put both ankles inside it, and lift the top one against it).
Buy the Power Ring!
SPRI Pilates Power Ring
- 3 Lose the jiggles (and groan less when you pick up your growing kid) with these Lifeline Deluxe Portable Gym bands ($30; activeforever.com). They hook onto any door, and you'll get all the benefits of free weights without having to lug around any heavy dumbbells. (Like you were going to, right?)
- Welcome Home, Dad!
Leapard and her husband chatted online nearly every day when he was in Iraq, but how would that translate into being co-parents again? To help the couple parent as a team -- which they'd been able to do just a handful of months in Ethan's short life! -- Mom Squad organizer Janine Sarna-Jones and life coach Natalie Gahrmann suggested they ask themselves a couple of key questions:
In the short term
What are your goals this week? Sarna-Jones pointed out that having two adults around doesn't necessarily make life easier! With work, school, and plenty of other responsibilities, it's going to take some planning to get everything done. She advised the Leapards to check in with each other about their personal goals regularly (finish a paper by Tuesday, get to work early on Wednesday, relax and go out on Friday). That way, they'll be able to figure out how to help each other meet them -- and sort out who's in charge of Ethan's dinner or bedtime ahead of time. Daily frustrations and struggles? Almost completely avoided (hey, nothing is 100 percent!).
In the long term
What are your family values? If you can figure out three to five things that are most important to your family, Gahrmann says, you'll likely get a little more clarity on issues like discipline. The Leapards agreed on things they wanted to be important in Ethan's life: education, health, and respect. Having these key words helps them focus on what's worth an argument with him -- and what isn't.