and now, a real update

The Skin I’m In: My eyes puckered back up. I had an allergic reaction to the meds and creams the good doctor’s assistant prescribed. Dammit to hell, that pisses me off. I mean, I’m sure it would all be fine if I just left it alone and did nothing but sunscreen, but come now, there has to be an answer. So here’s what she prescribed, and what I suspect is the culprit of my wrinkled bag ladies (my eyes, not my boobs, thank you very much): Benzaclin. I suspect that’s the real demon in my life, causing severe redness, stinging and burning, and the ever popular peeling. The skin around my eyes clammed up (even though I took special care to apply nowhere near my eyes). It was horrible. I don’t know exactly if it was the Benzaclin, as she suggested five new items, and I tried them all at once, so I now need to go at it one at a time. I’m ruling out the Benzaclin first. Here’s what she suggested: after cleansing my face with a "facial shampoo," apply Retin-A-Micro every night (but to begin, every other or third night). In the morning apply the Benzaclin (not a chance in hell), and then apply these amazing creams by Neocutis (the Bio-Gel and the  Bio-Restorative Eye cream). Now I’m scared to use any of it, aside from the Retin-A-Micro and sunscreen. As it has been over a week now, using it every third night, I’m doing okay, but not great. What a mess.

The In-Laws: are in! It is so nice being around family, so nice, in fact, that I want to move. Maybe back to NY, or maybe to Florida. I’ve brought this up to Phil, and he’s not exactly wincing at the idea, so we’ll see. This wouldn’t be happening for a good year or so, if at all. I just want to be around more family (you know, other than Phil). I want to give these kids the luxury of being surrounded by all the people who love them. Phil’s mom and I stayed up until 3am last night, playing… Super Mario Galaxy on Phil’s new birthday Wii (from moi). I kinda love that she can totally nerd out with me. It’s 2am, and we’re doing high-fives and screaming at animated giant bugs. The closest Rome came to such play was keeping a bug up her ass.

The Tater Tots: Video to come. My favorite thing that Abigail has been doing this month, is walking over to me, kissing me on the cheek, then turning around, showing me her rump and plopping down for a seat on my lap. I never knew how something so simple could make me so happy that didn’t involve shopping or food. And Kind Sir is OBSESSED with balls (the rubber kind). He says it over and over, and when he hears the word, he looks up frantically, searching for the nearest one. Both of them love to be chased. I wonder when they tire of the whole, "I’m gonna get you" thing. Or the "who wants to be tickled?" thing. I suspect it’s sometime close to when they’re learning cursive (the language and penmanship).

Take This Job and Record It: I’ve found a stash of my childhood videos, all the way back to third grade, singing at North Side Elementary with Mrs. Trude. I plan on posting such content, though I do wonder, is this something I can do? Showing a video of all my classmates as we sing? It’s amazing how these videos make you really remember what life was like at that age. Watching them, I began to cry. I hadn’t expected to see my grandmother on the videos. It reminded me of how loved I was growing up, and it’s why I want, so much, for these taters to be closer to their cousins, aunts, and grandparents. Life is too short to be so far away.


  1. It could be the retin-a stuff….as a fellow redhead who went to the dermatologist for renova (which to my knowledge is the same genre of stuff) she told me it would only make me more pink. I was also told by someone else to not do any more alpha hydroxy – makes me more pink. Could be a benzoyl peroxide allergy….try sulfer based instead.

    FROM SK: I probably am allergic to benz. I know I'm allergic to Sulfa… but I don't know if it's related to sulfer-based products. I suspect not. In 11th grade, I wiggled my way out of chemistry class, claiming I was allergic to SULFER… and hung out in the cafeteria on periodic table/ let's explore the elements day.

  2. Lucky you on having the videos! We were robbed 12 years ago… and they cleaned out all the videos.. and I do mean ALL.. birthdays, weddings, baptisms, and Walt disney… This bothered me more than the loss of anything else. I would love to show my daughters our wedding video. **sigh**

    We talk about moving to Florida too. To be closer to my in-laws. I LOVE my in-laws. I'm fortunate. 20 years in this family and I do mean I LOVE them. They even come up from Florida in the summer and live with us most of the summer. Hee! Then we vacation in the winter at their place. They spoil our children like crazy! I love all of it!

    Super Mario Galaxy.. we love that too! I have to have my 14 year old get me through some of those levels though… **laughing** It is definitely a family affair playing that game. Do you have Wii Carnival? I definitely recommend that too.

  3. If you have good family, move next to them. No geographic benefit of any location can top loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And if your little ones do not make the connections when young, they probably won't be really strong connections when they are older. On tickling and chasing: I still run when someone says "I'm gonna get you" and my husband can just pretend he is going to tickle me with wiggly, fast-approaching fingers and I am already dying laughing. Maybe next year, when I'm 37, I'll grow out of those things.

  4. Sometimes, I wonder if the human brain is evolved enough to really handle watching video imagery of ourselves when we were younger, at completely different stages of life, or of people we loved and lost (or misplaced). It's just so strange, and wonderful, and strange.

    On the other hand, it is so fun to watch other people, as little people, in action. I'm looking forward to this footage!

  5. I repeat my earlier recommendation: Retin-A and sunscreen. I recently started Retin-A Micro–use it sparingly and I was told to start out with every 3rd night. I really recommend Cetaphil cleanser (for Normal Oily skin) on the nights you use Retin-A. I have pretty great skin to begin with, but I have gotten tons of compliments since using Retin-A–my skin looks clear and even-toned. Also, are you using sunscreen with a chemical blocker–it is essential you do so when you are using Retin-A, because it makes your skin more susceptible to rays. I am sure the good doctor's assistant told you all of this?

    Glad that you like you are having fun with your in-laws. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful MIL. I really hope we live near one set of parents when we have children. I was really lucky to have my paternal grandparents nearby during the school year and to be able to visit with my maternal grandparents on the Maine coast as a child. Best of both worlds.

  6. Hi Stephanie – We just got the Wii this past weekend for my oldest (he's turning 10 – wow!). It is so cool. We made an emergency run to GameStop to buy Super Mario Galaxy after school yesterday — he's playing it now w/his sister. I haven't had the chance to play yet – my younger two are keeping me hopping. From your previous writings of Rome, I don't think she knows her way around a joystick. Enjoy the inlaw visit. Enjoy your babies. As I said, my oldest turns 10 (on April 16) and my baby is turning 2 on April 17. It goes so fast. Sniff.

  7. The eyes are especially sensitive and will be the first thing to act up in an allergy, even if you kept the product far away. Mine get like that whenever I get a manicure – apparently some chemical in the nail polish is strong enough that I wake up with red, swollen itchy eyes every day. It is very attractive – hence, I hardly ever get manicures.

  8. I can relate to your desire to move closer to family to give your kids "the luxury of being surrounded by all the people who love them." I don't have my own children, but one of the few sadnesses of my life is that my only sister and now-17-month-old nephew live over 3000 miles away. (They live near her in-laws, but far from our parents and me.)

    I haven't seen the little guy since Thanksgiving, and it breaks my heart to think of all I'm missing and to know that he doesn't know his Auntie S. I know it bothers my mom & dad, too, that they can't see him more often.

  9. Can you post pictures of your allergic reaction?

    FROM SK:It's actually gone now. It's just severe dryness, that stings and burns and creates these weird wrinkles around my eyes. Thankfully, I haven't had it again now that it's just me and the retin-a micro and sunscreen. Yes, benzoclin is an acne drug, to help keep my skin perfectly clear. Though I think I'm allergic to it. I'm not trying it for at least a month.

  10. "I probably am allergic to benz. I know I'm allergic to Sulfa… but I don't know if it's related to sulfer-based products. I suspect not. In 11th grade, I wiggled my way out of chemistry class, claiming I was allergic to SULFER… and hung out in the cafeteria on periodic table/ let's explore the elements day."

    OMG Stephanie, I am allergic to Sulfa drugs also. I too wiggled out of a hike on my Musiker teen tour around the "Sulfer" Spring in Montana, claiming I was allergic. Great minds think alike.

  11. Stephanie,
    I love your blog, but I just wanted to tell you we're called Physician Assistants. Not "Doctor's assistants."

  12. Benzaclin kills the eye area where the skin is thin. And isnt that an acne drug? McSwain, if you are still on, I would like to hear more about using Retin A as a skin cancer preventative. I am high risk and never heard of this use. Thanks.

  13. Skin reactions are the WORST! Believe it or not, I have been a big fan of Benz for the past 3 years. However, I have never been able to use it during the day. It makes my skin too dry, red and flaky for makeup! I now use it every other day before bed, and use a different cream on the off days. I would suggest trying to use Benz before bed, only if you feel daring. (Wondering if the outside elements could be aggravating it when used during the day?) Skin isn't something to mess with, so I'm sure you must be thinking "Done, done and done" when you hear Benz now. I get it!

  14. I know zip about Benzaclin, but use Retin-A Micro as a skin cancer preventative. Peeling, burning, redness, and all that good stuff ensued when I started using it. Especially peeling. I use it for a very short time each day, 'cause if I leave it on all night my skin goes nuts. It can work wonders, but it's certainly not innocent. :)

  15. I think one of the things that makes my life so wonderful is the close proximity to my parents. We have a village, and it takes a village to raise healthy babies – at least in my world.

    Tonight, one of my daughters is working with my mom on a crocheting project (and practicing German pronunciation), my son works with my dad on chemistry, and I work with other daughter on a writing project.


    Tomorrow – I will toss a ball for lacrosse with my little one, my dad will do Latin with one, and my mom – a life lesson about how not to be a dick when you take a girl out on a date (while playing scrabble – a great foil for teaching life-lessons).


    Yesterday – I cheered at a soccer game, my mom bought prom shoes for one, we got the dishwasher fixed, dad collected son at school for a haircut and collection of a fishing license – then the darlings and I got to retire to a comfy fireplace-side nest to watch a bit of mindless TV after a crock-pot, eaten together dinner.


    Friday – we all gather – my babies, my parents, myself, any extended family who is lucky enough to be around – we drink wine (wine/whine night) – we compare notes, we weigh issues, we tenderly, gently, lovingly work together to bring these babies up to be tender, gentle, loving people.

    If you have people who love you and support you – move closer – let them help you and help your babies. You all win.

  16. Stephanie,

    I have relocated to Florida and I miss the northeast something awful. I know we all have our own preferences but I'd give anything to be living there.. and hope to be sometime in the next year or two. Would you want to live in Florida to be more close to your mother? Where do Phil's parents live?

  17. Google "Paula's Choice" and buy her cleanser and toner for sensitive skin. I had the same thing you have and her products were the only thing that cleared me up. I use an adult acne medicine called Differin to keep my skin perfectly clear.

    I am very sensitive to products and have often used something for a few weeks before the dreaded red rash appears on my skin. It's always the same thing, no matter the product. That's why I always go back to Paula's Choice. Check it out at least.

  18. Hey. I always loved growing up with family all around me. I grew up in the same town that my parents grew up in so a majority of my family is all in one place. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this but take advantage of when "Little Miss" shows you her bum after a quick kiss because kids get so big so fast and it'll be gone before you know it.

  19. Hi Stephanie,
    I you plan on moving, do it before the little ones start school. My parents moved during the Christmas holidays in my first year of elementary school, and I missed my friends terribly. I still remember how lonely and scared I felt in my new school.

  20. Yes, go be with family. NY or FL. A big house isn't as good as having wonderful people and memories. Plus, you're being selfish keeping those wonderful babies all to yourselves most of the time :)

  21. Looking forward to seeing the video of the tots.

    BTW, just got an ARC of MOOSE and started reading it last night!!!!!!

    YAY ME!!!!!

  22. Benzaclin is insanely drying and the worst on the eye area. Especially when you wash your face after using it and it spreads there.

  23. They grow up soooooo fast! I think it's a good that you and Phil want to move closer to family; it's important. Family is important.

    Come to Florida!!!! Yayyy! I'm in Orlando and would LOVE to have you here! But I would tell you to move back to NY….sigh. Florida is a great place to visit, but it's not family/community oriented, and the school system here stinks. Plus it sounds like you have more family & friends in the north east.

  24. Stephanie – I am allergic to sulfa too! The only products I can use on my face are Avon or Aveeno Calming. I reccomend Vitamin C serum from Avon – I don't know if it is all in my head but I feel like I look younger after using it for only a month.

    I am in the NorthEast and my family moved to Florida. I teared up reading your post and I don't even have little ones yet, I don't want to even imagine the day I have to watch them board a plane back to Florida and say goodbye to the grandchild they just met. Its bad enough when I have to say good by to them!!

    Can't wait to see the video of the babies, they are so precious!

  25. Stephanie, I've been on Benzaclin now for close to two years, and I really think it's a great acne medication (it was prescribed to me for horrible adult acne on my chin that wasn't responding to anything else). That being said, you really need to use it sparingly – a little goes a long way. I use Differin all over my face at night and the Benzaclin on my chin in the morning. My chin used to be red and peel like hell when I first started, and although it still flakes occasionally, I've really gotten in under control by using Cetaphil moisturizer. It's very emollient yet non-greasy. Also, word of warning: Benzaclin will stain anything it touches so if you start to use it again, be careful, and don't sleep on your good sheets. I learned the hard way :(

  26. I'm moving "home" in 6 days for my unborn (and unconcieved) tots. I grew up in a tight knit family and want the same for my family someday. It's a great big world out there, but to quote Dorothy, "There's no place like home!"

  27. The cultural stimulation of New York trumps Florida any day of the week & the schools & medical care are better. Florida is just an easy plane trip away….not that air travel at all is a pleasure these days. But most importantly, if you have a healthy relationship with family, nothing is more important for you & your children than being in close proximity.

  28. ahh it's soooo great that you and your mother in law can play wii until 3am. I can only hope that i find one just as cool!!!

  29. Probably is the benzaclin, particularly if your reaction has stopped now.

    I use something like benzaclin (Duac) which gives me hives if used on my cheeks, but no reaction, other than clear skin, if used on my chin and jaw. If any gets on my neck though, red scaly mess. I'm super careful applying it only to the chin area, only using the smallest amount – much, much smaller than a pea.

    Anyway, if you don't have much acne, the Retin-A Micro may clear it up sufficiently for you and that would be great! Benzoyl peroxide ruins your towels anyway.

  30. I have a little baby girl, and my parents live in the same building where I live. It is a great help for me and my husband, and they are so happy to see her growing up! My parents' husband live far. She will see them one or two times a year…grandpa and grandma…but strangers.

  31. oh. my. god. post. the. video. if i am in it, i am giving you my consent right now. i don't remember mrs. trude, though. just mrs. nadler. i can't remember if we were in the same class, mrs. orshan, for 3rd grade. miss giacalone for 2nd. mrs. buonocore for 1st (best teacher ever). mrs. dwyer for k. can't wait to see it.

  32. It's almost unavoidable that my initial placement as a university professor will put me very far away from my family and my in-laws (both live in the Phila, PA area which basically has 1 great and 1 so-so university for my area of research). I wish there was a way around this, but not much I can do. I know I plan on having kids around that time, since I'll be about 30 and it will be the first time we're financially stable, but I would feel a lot better if I could have my family around me.

    I spent my early 20's "declaring my independence", only visiting for holidays or a weekend here and there. Now I find that I miss my family and I know they would be a huge help when the husband and I decide it's time to start a family of our own.

  33. "Sulfa" when describing drugs is short for sulfonamides; while they contain Sulfur (an element) in their formula, there is apparently no relation between sulfa allergies and sulfur (particularly in skin products. Google the two terms "sulfur sulfa" (no quotes) to get a lot of information on this.

  34. Stephanie, for the love of god, throw away the Benz. I used this for a week, my freaking face almost fell off. I think it works well for some people, but I also have sensitive skin and developed insane redness, itching and burning. It took a week for my face to get back to normal; granted, it looked amazing after, but the during time was too much. To quote SATC, I looked like beef carapaccio. Save yourself!

  35. What a great update, thanks for sharing with us. I can't wait to see you in Miami and yes come to Florida, I am sure your mom would love it and so would all of us!!!

  36. You have lovely fine skin, and some allergies to a few products, anything which is likely to radically intervene is also going to radically irritate. Be kind or you will do more damage than ageing and your fine skin will show the effects of ageing more than some; I quote a plastic surgeon when I say that the kind of skin that ages well is the thick and coarse skin that nobody wants when they are younger.

  37. 3 Teens' Mom, You said "a life lesson about how not to be a dick". Cracked me up. Sounded so out of character for you. Very funny. From the way you describe your kids, I don't think you have to worry about that. It sounds like you're doing a great job. Sometimes you make me wonder if we would have been better off raising our 3 kids in a small town w/ a milkman. I'm not being condescending AT ALL. It's just that where we live it is SO competitive, fast-paced, etc. We do our best to keep our kids grounded, sweet, caring, polite, respectful, etc, and they are, but they're surrounded by kids who "have it all" and "all" never seems to be enough. Scary. i guess we have to do our best and hope that that's good enough. Having close family nearby does help. Stephanie, I'd recommend it highly. My parents are a huge part of my kids' lives. They're all lucky to have each other, and I'm lucky to have their help whenever I need it. Question: is Retin-A Micro any different than Retin-A?

  38. I keep reading the part of your wanting to possibly move to be with family. I only moved a couple of counties away from my parents and sisters. Don't see them as much as I'd like, but certainly more than if we lived in other states. My mother was an ENORMOUS help when all my children were born. The sun rises and sets on my my kids and they know/knew it.
    It all changed last June 18, the day my sister was having a c-section and my mother was watching her son. My dad was home… alone… having a stroke. He was alone for about six-hours fighting for his life. Luckily, he's still here, still fighting, and grateful to be alive. My mother can't leave my father now and my father has such sound/motion/noise sensitivity, we can't be around him for more than 15 minutes at a time. Unfortunately, my own duo were young enough to 'forget' the closeness of grandma and now they're hesitant around my parents. My mother is heartbroken, I am heartbroken, my sister is heartbroken… but grateful for whatever we all get.
    Family ties are so fleeting… I don't think you'd regret your moving to be with family. A granparents love for their grandchild is as close to God's love we can get on earth.

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