A Ventography!

Just two moms letting off some steam




For those of you who follow us, it’s that time of year again when we “try to get our groove back” AKA lose the “chicken wings” and tone the mom trouble zone which extends from the rib cage to the knees and then some.

Chicken Wing... not the good kind.

Chicken Wing… not the good kind.

Last year, we were really into Pilates and walking. We did well at keeping our commitment to working out until Leah went away for the summer.  For us, working out is a team sport. Solo work outs are not in the cards because we lack the discipline and trustworthiness required to follow through. We need another person to guilt us into working out and to hold us accountable. Otherwise, we would tell you we’re working out, but really we’re sitting on the couch, eating and watching our favorite tv shows.

This year, we wanted to look for something different to kick-start our workouts. We noticed that as we continue to age, it is getting harder and harder to tone that mom trouble zone. We knew we needed to up the ante, but we have other criteria that makes this difficult… we don’t like to sweat. And we need to be done in thirty minutes or less.  Is that too much to ask?

As it turns out – no!  While Leah was enjoying quality time with her family in the mountains, Molly spent the summer researching to find the perfect workout DVD. Enter Tracy Anderson’s “The Method for Beginners .” Don’t let the title fool you… we are so glad we got the beginner version. We couldn’t have survived a harder one.

Glad we’re doing this video… but we don’t enjoy it. Every minute is pure torture. However, we believe the suffering is worth it because we feel it is beginning to tone our trouble areas. It is the best video we’ve ever found for chicken wing arms. Plus, it is great for getting rid of cellulite on your butt and thighs. It doesn’t focus on the abs as much as we would like, but Tracy swears that your abs are still getting a work out. We hope she’s not fibbing!

So, we have our workouts rolling again. We are working on improving our diet. But now we are investigating why does cellulite form when you get older? Why did our cellulite used to be contained to the butt area and now it is spreading like a bad virus to the legs, arm pit area, and underarms? Here’s what know so far.

  • Your lymphatic system plays an integral role in the development of cellulite.
  • When everything is running smoothly, the lymph is taking away waste and toxins.
  • When things get clogged up and blood circulation decreases, this causes fluid to be retained. A decrease in lymph drainage causes the fluids that normally carry away waste to be trapped.

So we are on another quest. This time, we want to figure out how to make our lymphatic system work better, increase our circulation, and decrease the amount of toxins and fluid being retained by our skin. If we are actually able to accomplish this, will our cellulite go away or at least stop spreading? We’ll keep you posted!


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Yesterday we spoke about the importance of getting healthy from the inside out through digestion. Today, we thought we’d talk about the new way we’re trying to get healthy from the outside in… our new skin care obsession – Rafa Naturals!

Our friend Debbie received a gift basket of Rafa Naturals products from her sister for her birthday. It looked like this…

Tea, Sea, and "C" Gift Basket

Tea, Sea, and “C” Gift Basket

She told us how much she loved the texture and smell of the products. Plus, she could not believe how reasonably priced the products were. We immediately googled the company and fell in love with the all natural ingredients. We are visual creatures, so Rafa Naturals reeled us in. We loved the look of the product packaging and the website – clean and classy. The products look very high-end yet the prices are comparable to drug store brands!

Before we go any further… we know you are probably rolling your eyes thinking that we’re getting paid to plug this company. But we really aren’t. We just love these products due to their natural ingredients and cost effectiveness and we want to share what we’ve stumbled upon. For those of you in the anti-aging battle like us, we think these products are a great find.

We have very different issues with our skin. Leah has large, hideous pores (as she puts it). Her skin is oily and prone to break outs. Molly, on the other hand, is trying to undo her years of sunbathing with baby oil and a sun reflector – like this…

Molly circa 1980s

Molly circa 1980s

She needs to get rid of sun spots and prevent even more crow’s-feet. After reading all about the products online we went ahead and ordered a few products. Here’s the run down.

Leah’s Current Products:

  • Clarifying Cleanser – The Clarifying Cleanser is an incredibly refreshing foaming cleanser which is packed with extracts and vitamins to protect and nourish skin while the charcoal deeply cleans all the bacteria away. Essential Oils of Bergamot, Tea Tree, Roman Chamomile, & German Chamomile help eliminate break outs.  $15.00
  • Clarifying Astringent -This natural astringent is powerful and gentle all in one product. Fruit acids balance your skin tone while Alpha Hydroxies gently exfoliate. Black Willowbark provides naturally occurring salicylic acid to fight the causes of acne. DMAE gives the skin a tight and polished appearance while the essential oils get to the root cause of acne. $14.00
  • Clarifying Serum – This serum not only helps to prevent breakouts, but it also helps to reduce redness that often accompanies breakouts. Full of amazing ingredients like Rooibos Tea Extract to help calm the skin and Organic Green Tea Extract to fight the signs of premature aging. As an added bonus, it also helps fight the signs of aging with DMAE, MSM, & Hyaluronic Acid that all work together to reduce the appearance of fine lines and sagging skin. Also included is Tea Tree to help reduce breakouts and Helichrysum to repair scarring.  $18.00
  • Vitamin C Creme – Their top-selling crème for good reason. Vitamin C has received a lot of attention lately due to its ability to protect skin from free radicals, those nasty skin damaging molecules. Extracts like Wild Blueberry, Organic Bilberry, Organic Cranberry and Organic Citrus Fruits all work together to create a barrier against the assault your skin encounters on a daily basis from free radicals. Vitamin C is also thought to improve skin complexion, reduce fine lines, and prevent future lines from forming.  $20.00

Leah has noticed that she doesn’t need to use a lot of these products… a little goes a long way. Therefore, she feels she is getting a lot of bang for her buck. She has been using the products for 2 weeks now and loves the way it makes her skin feel soft and not greasy. In addition, she has noticed she has cleaner pores. She uses the cleanser morning and night, followed by the astringent, then the serum and lastly, the Vitamin C Creme. She still uses her old eye creme from a different company. But, as soon as she runs out, she plans to buy the Rafa Naturals Revitalizing Eye Creme. She loves the clean scent of all the products. She wishes this post had “smell-o-vision” so you could smell what she’s talking about… there is no overpowering, perfumey smell.

Molly’s Current Products:

  • AHA Creme – Alpha-hydroxy acid removes dead skin to reveal fresher, newer skin underneath. Over time, wrinkles diminish, skin tone is more even, and skin looks younger and more radiant. This moisturizer absorbs into skin very easily and contains 5% glycolic acid.  $20.00
  • Intensive Overnight Facial Oil – Let your skin experience the benefits of 11 different oils including Coconut, Olive, Avocado, Rosehip Seed, Argan, Pomegranate and Blackcurrant Seed. These oils help to increase oxygenation & cellular regeneration. Essential fatty acids from Argan increase skin suppleness & elasticity while the antioxidants in the Pomegranate oil fight free radicals & sooth irritate skin. Essential oils of Cistus, Myrtle, Neroli, Petitgrain & Frankincense help to tone & tighten skin. Surprisingly does not feel oily on the skin, but absorbs in rapidly, leaving skin silky soft. Will not clog pores. $24.00
  • Vitamin C Creme – Their top selling crème for good reason. Vitamin C has received a lot of attention lately due to its ability to protect skin from free radicals, those nasty skin damaging molecules. Extracts like Wild Blueberry, Organic Bilberry, Organic Cranberry and Organic Citrus Fruits all work together to create a barrier against the assault your skin encounters on a daily basis from free radicals. Vitamin C is also thought to improve skin complexion, reduce fine lines, and prevent future lines from forming.
  • Rosehip & Hibiscus Serum – Rosehip Seed Oil is a rich source of Omega-3, Omega-6 fatty acids & other Essential Fatty Acids that reduce inflammation & calm skin. Perfect for those with excessively dry skin, eczema & psoriasis. Hibiscus Extract with its antioxidant properties helps to prevent further oxidative stress to the skin. DMAE is added to tighten sagging skin while MSM increases collagen production reducing the appearance of fine lines. $18.00
  • Revitalizing Eye Creme – Peptides are getting a lot of attention lately due their ability to increase collagen production. Skin is made mostly of collagen. As we age, we lose collagen and thus see thinner, more wrinkled skin. Collagen is made up of amino acids, which in turn are made up of peptides. Peptides tell your skin to make more collagen, resulting in fewer wrinkles. Rice bran and soybean proteins do an amazing job of reducing dark circles and caffeine has been added to help reduce puffiness. A fast-absorbing crème that feels great. $15.00

For the past several months, Molly has used the AHA Creme all over and the Intensive Overnight Facial Oil around her eyes at night. She has noticed that she wakes up in the morning less blotchy, with more even skin tone. She doesn’t run to her makeup bag as quickly now. She is comfortable going to her morning work out and the grocery store without any makeup which she never would have done in the past! She loves the Revitalizing Eye Creme because she wakes up with puffy bags under her eyes and the creme immediately gets rid of the puffiness. She uses the Rosehip & Hibiscus Serum first followed by the Vitamin C Creme in the morning and it has eliminated her issues with dry skin. Her make up goes on smoother now and her crow’s-feet are less noticeable.

To change the subject… a quick shout out to the owner of Rafa Naturals… we saw on your website the recipe for homemade sunscreen balm.  However, we are too lazy to make it. We have looked FOREVER for a sunscreen that doesn’t poison our children. Can you please add this to your product line so that we can buy it for our children? And while you’re at it, how about making some tinted moisturizer!




We dropped off Brody and Annie at school, just like any other day. Leah was sitting in her car waiting for me because I was five minutes late, as usual. She rolled down her window and offered to drive us to our work out place (i.e., one of our houses). I declined and said I would drive instead, which turned out to be a really good thing.

Leah walked over to my car, got in, and said very calmly, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think I am having a heart attack.”

I was about to scold her for making a horrible joke when I noticed her coloring was off. She looked gray. Then I saw that she was having trouble taking a deep breath. I said, “Well – do you want to go to your doctor?” Leah said, “No – what if it’s nothing? I’ll be embarrassed.” We started driving and Leah realized she was feeling worse (dizzy and her head was killing her) so she said, “Maybe we should go to the Urgent Care Clinic that is close by.”

I did an immediate u-turn and headed for the clinic. Once we were there, we were glad it wasn’t crowded and we signed in and took out seats in the waiting room. Leah leaned her head back on the wall and said, “I really don’t feel good.” Then, pointing to her chest, she asked me, “Can you see this?” I thought to myself, “Ah – ya… I can see that.” Her shirt was vibrating because her heart was pounding so hard. I was freaked out, but was trying to remain calm for Leah’s sake. I sprung out of my chair to talk with the receptionist. I said, “I don’t mean to cut in front of anyone, but my friend is having a heart attack. Can you please look at her… now?”

Two glazed over eyes stared back at me. The lady said, “We don’t handle heart attacks here. You’re going to have to drive her to the ER.” I saw the doctor sitting behind her doing some paperwork so I said, “Hey – you’re the doctor, right?” He said yes. So I asked him to come out and at least listen to her heart. Without even getting out of his chair, he gave me the same nonchalant answer that they cannot handle heart attacks at their facility. They didn’t even offer to call an ambulance.

I yelled to Leah, “Come on – let’s go.” And then I said to the two rude people, “Can you at least tell me the closest hospital?” We piled back in the car for the longest 20 minute ride of our lives. By this time, Leah was super hot and needed air. I cranked up my ac fan as high as it would go, but it wasn’t enough air for Leah. She put down the windows. She couldn’t talk to me anymore. I was terrified that she would stop breathing in my car and I don’t know CPR. I was envisioning how I would make the call to Tom (her husband) to explain how his wife died in my car.

Once we finally got to the hospital, they hooked Leah up to an EKG. Leah asked them if they were moving the gurney and they said no. It turns out, her heart was pounding so hard that it was shaking the gurney! Her heart rate was 170 (normal heart rate is between 60 -100). They escorted us back to a room in the ER. That’s where the fun began.

After several tests, they let Leah know that she has SVT (Super Ventricular Tachycardia) and she would need to be admitted for a few days for additional testing. Leah’s first reaction was, “Oooh – I get a mini vacation. No cooking, no cleaning, no supplements, no being woken up at night…” Then, she even said to me, “Hey – I bet I’ll even lose weight!”

But reality hit – FAST. During Leah’s two-day stay at the spa (AKA the hospital), they tried to force morphine on her even though she wasn’t in pain. She made me remind the nurse to change her IV bag because it had run out and was sucking air (Leah didn’t want death by air bubble on her tombstone). Leah’s sleep was interrupted 100 times a night so that they could check her vitals. She was given the worst food known to man. This was not very spa like after all!

Leah was asked continually about her medical history. However, it was never considered when they tried to prescribe her medication to regulate her heart. If Leah had not asked to read about the potential side effects for herself, she could have died from the medication they wanted to give her. The medication insert clearly stated it is contraindicated for people with low blood pressure and liver issues, which Leah told them over and over again she has! Needless to say, Leah refused the medication. Death averted.

Because Leah would not take the medication, the hospital staff immediately started pushing surgery. In the end, all Leah agreed to a was a Magnesium IV drip. She is still reading about the pros and cons of the ablation surgery the doctors would like her to do.

What struck us was… Leah’s biggest stress while she was in the hospital was not whether she was going to live or die. It was who would pick up Brody at 1:00pm, who would cook Brody’s rice properly, how would Tom ever remember to give Brody’s supplements at the right time and in the right dosage?  Her mind could not rest. She is a Class A Control Freak. She was worried her daily plan would or could not be followed and that Brody would regress. Then, all her hard work would be “out the window.” Leah was utterly unprepared for someone else to step into her shoes.

Leah was told by the doctors in the hospital that she has to do a better job of controlling her stress. But the reality is…the worries of autism equal stress. Unless Leah can cut autism out of her life, her stress is not going away.



We escaped. We left the 20 mile radius we tend to “do life” in and went to the big city. We were Thelma and Louise – minus the crime spree. We left autism at the door. We were free!

But don’t think that freedom didn’t come at a price. We had to leave lunch and dinner ready to heat up, supplements ready-to-go, and instructions for every possible scenario.

Our agreed upon departure time was noon, however, I was ready to go by 9:30am. Molly – not so much, as she is chronically late. It was not for lack of enthusiasm, she just couldn’t find an outfit she felt was “big city shopping” worthy.

First stop – Kohl’s. Thanks Elizabeth for the great tip you gave us about the cute paisley dress! Unfortunately, they did not have it in our size. We failed miserably at finding stylish summer dresses. They were either too grandma, too fattifying, or too hoochie coochie.

So, we aborted our mission to find dresses as a replacement for our daily, unflattering, comfy, stretch pants and t-shirt ensembles. We decided to focus our efforts on make-up instead.

One little hiccup… how do you match make-up to blonde/pale orange hair? That’s right – I tried to fix my hair fiasco and walked away with shockingly orange hair. The cut is a million percent better, but the color is… well, a picture speaks a thousand words…

Not so pretty.

We headed for the Bobbi Brown section at Nordstrom’s. But were scared off by the sea of clown faced, Chuckie doll make-up artists beckoning us to their counters. We said, “Sayonara” and trekked across the mall to Sephora instead. The make-up artists in Sephora all looked like they had come back from a rave. We asked ourselves, “Are we out of touch? Where is the dewy, fresh-faced make-up we long for? Is it out of style? Why does it elude us so?”

As soon as these thoughts crossed our mind, we were accosted by a woman with flaming red hair and make-up to match, asking us to sit in the make-up chair for a consultation. I decided to go for it (Molly gave an evil cackle as I was the guinea pig). To our surprise, my make-up artist was pretty darn good. She listened and was patient and I walked away with an everyday make-up look I can be proud of. According to Molly, it makes my eyes “pop” and my face “glow from within” (minus the two “blemishes” on my cheek). Look how much fun we had in Sephora…

Molly’s turn. Molly is a fan of Bare Escentuals and insisted on going to their boutique for a consult on how to do eyes and lips. We had to wait for Molly’s appointment, so we decided to get a cup of tea to kill the time. We were shocked and dismayed when they told us the amount we owed for two measly cups of tea… we had to take out a second mortgage on our houses! Since when has tea become $5.00 a cup??

The make-up gal Molly was assigned to in Bare Escentuals looked like she was all of 13 years old. Molly requested a natural, every day look. However, she walked out sporting 10 pounds of very “un-natural” purple eyeshadow. We wondered if the girl has been formally diagnosed with MLD, “Make-up Lingo Dyslexia.”

Molly decided to risk the clown faced make up artists at Nordstrom’s because she had become obsessed with this picture which she saw at the Bobbi Brown make-up counter:

We don’t ask for much in life… was it too much to ask for our make-up to look like this… our definition of dewy, fresh-faced, 2012 make-up?

Back to Nordstrom’s we trotted. Molly got right in with the make-up artist. She asked the lady to re-create the look in the picture. However, on Molly, the eyeshadow did not look quite the same. On a twenty-something, the glitter looks pretty, but on a 30-something mom, the glitter was a little too disco. But the make-up artist did a similar look (minus the sparkles) and Molly was thrilled.

We learned a valuable lesson – don’t assume clowns can only do clown make-up. If we are ever allowed out of our cages again, we plan to make another appointment with this lady to learn additional make-up looks.

What a successful day. Both Molly and I left the mall feeling pretty, the closest we’ve felt to our pre-autism selves in a long, long time. We actually spent 6 six hours without thinking about or discussing autism, even once. We were refreshed.  We had a new pep in our step.

Molly walked in her house only to be greeted by her husband who said, “What’s up make up face?”

WHOMP WHOMP… feelings of prettiness flushed down the toilet. Maybe Molly should have gotten a matching hoochie coochie dress to go with her new “face” after all.

Up next: We’re starving… new diet is in jeopardy. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of “Recovering from Recovery.” -L&M

For more “New Year, New Us” posts and our ongoing quest to recover from recovery, go to: https://ventography.wordpress.com/category/new-year-new-us/.  How are you “recovering from recovery?” Please share with us your tips and suggestions.

A shout-out to  http://puzzledmommy.wordpress.com/ – we love https://www.birchbox.com/. Since we don’t get out much, we love having the alternative of the latest and greatest make-up products coming right to our door. Great find.

A shout out to Rob who had the dishwasher unloaded and Annie’s bed made when I got home. You’re the greatest. -Molly

L&M CONFESSIONAL: We know we are giant hypocrites. We just blogged about the toxic ingredients found in make-up. We had good intentions to find healthy, organic make-up. But once we saw the illustrious Bobbi Brown picture, it was all over for us. Our willpower was gone. We were a marketer’s dream. We fell for the promises made by that picture… that we too, could look like doe-eyed twenty year olds and we need poison make-up to do it. Please forgive us.




In January, we made the bold decision to “recover from recovery” and reclaim our old selves.

We were in a rut and utterly exhausted from putting so much time and effort into getting our children healthier. We were slowly lulled into apathy. First, we gained some weight. Then, we no longer felt like getting dressed up, nor did we have the money to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Then, because we looked so sloppy, we were too embarrassed to go to the hoity toity hair salons that could give us a chic haircut. Then, to add insult to injury, we even stopped putting on make up. We had spiraled out of control.

Well, no more… we are returning with a vengeance (but a snail’s pace)! Meet Molly and Leah – the 2012 version.

We have kept our promise to make time for exercise. We tried running, but our bladders did not cooperate. Then, we moved to fast walking but found that our gabbing prevented us from keeping up our pace. Next, we tried doing yoga DVDs at home. We thought yoga was supposed to be peaceful and relaxing. Instead, we found it to be a torture session and we hated every minute of it. So we moved on to Pilates. We now have 2 Pilates DVDs that we enjoy doing. They are helping us tone up and we find them to be stress-relieving. Problem solved.

We knew exercise alone would not help us lose the weight. So, we made changes to our diet as well. If we could put so much time and effort into the health of our children, why not us? We tried to do the South Beach Diet, but of course, we decided we know better. We tweaked it to be South Beach “L&M style.” Even though we are not following every detail of the South Beach diet, we are proud of ourselves. We are eating healthier than ever and we are sticking to the game plan. We eat similarly to our children now. Sugar and processed foods are no longer in our diet and we are eating more vegetables than ever. Yay for us!

But maybe South Beach “L&M Style” is not as great as we think because the other day, when Leah asked Tom (her husband) if she looked any thinner, he remarked, “Yes – your shoulders look thinner.” Just what every gal longs to hear from her husband after starving and exercising for weeks!

Our diet and exercise plans were going well, so we decided to tackle our hair issues next. We had been on the hunt for a decent stylist for 2 years. Then, one day, I thought I had struck gold. I called Leah to tell her about my award-winning hair experience. I pressured her to make an appointment immediately. Two days later, Leah found herself in the stylist’s chair but sadly, she didn’t have the same experience. Things went bad fast. An hour appointment turned into a three-hour, whoopsie-doo, salon owner must fix, we feel so bad about your haircut, the cut’s on us visit. Leah left with a Dorothy Hamill cut in the front and a 1980s Salt n Pepa haircut in the back. Not the haircut that dreams are made of.

Our kryptonite remains workout/comfy pants. Our excuse… bloggers need to be comfortable. We cannot be expected to be creative in skinny jeans.

Next on our agenda – fix Leah’s hair disaster, throw out 10-year-old make-up, and learn how to put on dewy, fresh-faced, 2012 makeup. We’ll keep you posted.

Anyone want to join us in “recovering from recovery?”

-L & M

P.S. – WANTED: the perfect shade of lip gloss for blondes… all suggestions welcome.

For other “New Year, New Us” posts go to: https://ventography.wordpress.com/category/new-year-new-us/



There are very few people who understand how much it takes out of you to attempt autism recovery. For the last 4 years, I have completely forgotten who I am. I got lost in the maze of autism. I’ll be honest, I have let myself go. My name is Molly and I am an autism addict. 

It all started with the lack of sleep. Annie did not begin sleeping through the night until she was 6 years old. This caused night-time food nibbling (of the donut variety) so that I had the energy to get up 8 times a night. Then, as my recovery plans were yo-yoing, I got more and more depressed. Which caused me to have a glass of wine every night just to “unwind.” Then, I stopped working out… I just didn’t have the energy anymore.  As I felt worse and worse about my self-image, I eventually stopped getting properly dressed and putting on makeup every day. Yoga pants and hair in a pony tail became my standard uniform.

One day, I looked in the mirror and could hardly recognize myself. Where had the years gone? How did I go from a fairly stylish, successful career woman to a frumpy dumpy, autism obsessed mom?

So this year, my New Year’s resolution was to recover from recovery. To get back to the person I used to be. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I am going to have a life outside of autism. During the last 4 years, I stopped doing so many of the things that used to bring me joy. I lost touch with friends, no longer had the desire/money to travel, could care less about shopping or going out to restaurants, and I lost my entrepreneurial spirit. Basically, all I wanted to do was sleep or research autism.

2012 is going to be the year I revive lost friendships, discover new passions, regain my self-esteem, and take time to do the things that bring me pleasure.

I don’t want anyone to think I am whining. Sure, I am having a bit of a “woe is me” moment. But the truth is, I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. I would live in a paper bag and smear dog poop in my hair if I had to. The net result of my last four years of effort and sacrifice is that I can now have a conversation with my daughter. Something that I once thought was inconceivable.

Nothing brings me more joy than recovering my daughter, so that will still be number one on my priority list. But, I am going to regain my sense of balance. I have gotten Annie to a good enough place where I can breathe again. So, I think it’s time for a new year, new me.

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