Miss America 2.0? 2.No. A Review.

Ohhhhhh the re-branding, y'all. It was EVERYWHERE. 

Each year, my mom and I hunker down to watch the pageant. This year, with all the buzz surrounding Miss America 2019, it was a particularly juicy and interesting watch - full of mis-steps and moments that made me say, "Huh." As my mother put it, "Every year I hold out hope that it'll be a little better." I'm afraid there were lots of disappointments, with a few great moments still shining through. 

But I'm also 154 years old and hate change. 

We began with an intro that featured all the contestants in casual wear making it crystal clear to viewers that this was not your grandmother's Miss America. They stood in groups and said words like, "Smart." and "Empowered." and "Commanding." It was eye roll-inducing and set the tone for what was a really self-congratulatory evening. During the parade of states, we got treated to one young lady who bragged about having a "certificate in leadership." 

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.43.24 AM.png

Instead of the traditional swimsuit competition, the Top 15 were asked questions by their fellow competitors. As is always the case, some questions were harder-hitting than others, but this portion did give the women a chance to really shine. I have to say, it's been a while since I remember seeing a group of super articulate, whip-smart gals up there representing. Almost without exception, they answered their questions thoroughly and within the allotted time. A glaring outlier was the ultimate winner, Miss New York Nia Franklin, whose answer was fumble-y and not great. 

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.44.52 AM.png

We then moved on to what USED TO BE EVENING GOWN and is now some wretched excuse for evening gown called "Red Carpet," in which the formerly elegant and gorgeous beauty walk was turned into a weird boppy strut down a fake red carpet and then harangued by an E! News commentator in a thinly veiled "tell us about your platform" moment. This part of the competition didn't need a re-think, but apparently Gretchen Carlson and her minions didn't want to leave a single element of the pag untouched. It was so silly and teenager-y, turning what was once a show-stopper into a glorified pep rally. This part may have been the most disappointing to me. 

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.38.50 AM.png

Talent did receive an upgraded feature: instead of putting all the remaining competitors on stage to await their fate in front of the crowd, the new pageant wisely held all the girls backstage and announced them one by one, the way it ought to be. In the old format, there would always be more girls on stage than there were spaces in the talent competition, so a few poor souls would end up left alone, not selected, on stage in their talent costumes, ultimately dismissed and embarrassed. I love that we've gone back to the original talent format. 

And y'all, there were some DOOZIES. Talent is most people's favorite part of competition because it really gives you a glimpse into the girl's personalities in a way no other element of competition does. WOW. Wowowowowowow. Apart from the obviously excellent (Callie Walker and Bridget Oei), and the just-okay-but-passable (Nia Franklin), we were treated to talents that ranged from disastrous to cringe-worthy and back again.

Massachusetts' Gabriela Taveras' vocal "Rise Up" was one of the most difficult things I've listened to in a while, so much so that I initially wondered if the on-stage monitors had failed because she was so wildly under pitch throughout the song. Alas, Nia Franklin's vocal later in the show shattered that theory and we were all left with ringing in our ears. My phone exploded during Taveras' talent with fellow watchers complaining about the performance. She couldn't "Rise Up" to the right note, I'm afraid. (I mean that joke was just right there, y'all, come on. Cut me a break.) Somehow, she advanced to Top 5 anyway.

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.37.57 AM.png

Two of the contestants performed original spoken word pieces and I...can't. Listen, slam poetry is one thing. It's tricky, crafty, it rhymes, it's punchy and powerful - these were...not. Ellery Jones' monologue of an original poem was nice, but more suited for a talent show in grade school. And Jessica Shultis' dramatic monologue detailing her experience as a pediatric cancer survivor could have been tasteful and powerful, but was instead angst-ridden, over-wrought, and over-performed. Screaming at the audience about their mortality and fake-crying your way through a talent don't often make for the best result. I think she scared those poor judges. She scared me from thousands of miles away. 

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.37.37 AM.png

On-stage question was predictable, as the format here doesn't often change. The answers were, again, pretty solid (with the exception once again of Nia Franklin, the ultimate winner, who used "overcoming pricey rent" as a response to, "How has being the candidate from New York prepared you for the job of being Miss America?"). The worst question had to do with men who father children biologically but aren't around to raise them, and was suspiciously asked to a contestant who was raised by a single mother (even though the questions were supposed to have been "randomly chosen"). 

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.47.46 AM.png

And poor Cara Mund, whose name and presence were conspicuously absent throughout the pageant until the very end, was awkwardly trotted out for a final walk that couldn't have been any longer than 90 seconds. The crowd was roaring for her, but it felt like watching a prisoner step out for their mandatory "outdoors time." With the year she's had and how public she's been about her terrible experience, this cap to her year felt disingenuous and super weird. 

When Nia was crowned, there was no "There She Is, Miss America." She walked back and forth to some generic pop song, then was interviewed Superbowl-style on stage. It was weird. And Carrie Ann...well:

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.39.04 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.40.50 AM.png

Overall, it was such a disappointment. The pageant is what it is. Women who compete in it know that they're going to be in swimsuits. They expect to have the full glory of a slower, more elegant walk in the gown they've chosen. If we really wanted to empower all women and make the pageant relevant, why wouldn't we keep swimsuit and offer it to all body types and shapes? Wouldn't that be more empowering? And by making evening gown into a chipper little skip down a faux red carpet, aren't we sending the message that you can't be both elegant and also relatable?

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 9.38.30 AM.png

I don't know, you guys. Maybe I'm a curmudgeon. But I want swimsuit back, dammit, and I want Miss America to be what it used to be: beauty (both inner and outer), class, grace, and poise. Because none of those things preclude intelligence, feminism, or cultural relevance.  

Did you watch?? What did you think? 

PS - Callie Walker was a living dream and made me proud to be from Alabama. And also should've easily made it into Top 5 over that ear-bleeding song from MA. Okay I'm really done now. 

The 7-Minute Blowout

I am so excited to share this with y'all! You know that feeling when you go to the salon, get a great blowout, and then when you try to wash your hair and recreate it, you're defeated and also kind of haggard? 


This blowout has given me  L I F E   since I mastered the technique. Together with OI All In One Milk, this method of drying my hair has not only saved me so much time, but has also given me a shiny, touchable blowout that lasts for days. I can't say enough good things about it. Even if you have super thick hair, this should work! It might be a ten minute blowout for you super-thick-haired girls. Hehe! 

All you'll need is a hairdryer with a nozzle, a paddle brush, a volumizing spray or mousse, and a pre-treatment like OI's All In One Milk (which I use in this video). 

I hope this saves you time so you can get to the business of being awesome!

A Comprehensive List of Baby Things.

A couple of months ago, I took a little poll on Instagram asking what people would like to see more of on DHDG. Though I don't identify myself as a lifestyle and/or mommy blogger, the overwhelming majority of people asked for baby-related posts, and I'm happy to oblige since that's certainly on my mind these days, too! 

The #1 request was for a list of baby product recommendations. I've already put together a list for girlfriends of mine, so I thought, why not share? I've tried to give you my "best of," broken down by category, but it was also important to me tell you why the product worked for me so that you can decide it you need it. 'Cause I SHO did not know what the hell a Mamaroo was before I had a baby. All of the bold product titles are links to the product itself for easier purchase. 

And if you're a person who doesn't have children, hopefully this will give you an idea of great gifts you can buy that aren't clothes for the moms-to-be in your life! 

For those of you who are SUPER TIRED of baby-related posts, here's a GIF for you: 

I hear you, normal people. I hear you. 

I hear you, normal people. I hear you. 

If you're still pregnant...

Visit this post for my recommendations about products to use! 



Moms on Call or BabywiseOkay, this is a very personal choice for everyone, but I'm gonna just tell you that sleep-training your baby as quickly as possible is the key to not losing your damn marbles. You can read all about the benefits of sleep training in this post, and (as an added testimonial to how effective these practices are) since I wrote the post, 3 different mama friends of mine have started sleep training their babies to WILD. SUCCESS. 

Rock-n-Play Sleeper. This thing is absolutely crucial if you aren't planning to use a bassinet. Jordan and I chose not to buy a bassinet given that we'd decided to move Mac to his crib during week 3 of his life, so we used this product as a bassinet during Mac's first two weeks at home right next to the bed. It auto-rocks and has white noise built in. Killer. It's also extremely lightweight, reasonably priced, and easy to travel with - anywhere we went during the first 8 weeks of Mac's life, the Rock-n-Play also went. We almost didn't register for this because it seemed like it was too similar to the Mamaroo, but it couldn't be more different; I used this 10x more than I used the Mamaroo. It's easily a Top 5 product for me.

White noise machineAnother must, especially if you're sleep training. We use a DOHM white noise machine in Mac's nursery. Sleep training system will tell you that you don't want a "sound machine" with features like ocean waves, heartbeats, etc.; you want an adult-style white noise machine with one sound: white noise. 

Halo sleepsack swaddlesYou'll know these because they've got Velcro on the "wings" that you wrap around the baby. Swaddling that little baby is a big part of sleep training/comforting newborns, and these are awesome. I've also heard people rave about Woombies. These are crucial in the middle of the night because you don't want to have to deal with a giant piece of fabric to swaddle at 2 AM (although you should also buy swaddle blankets and learn how to swaddle the "old fashioned" way so that you're always prepared in a pinch. Here's a great video that shows you the correct way to swaddle! 

Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit. This thing looks like a giant space suit/snow suit and is so hysterical and SO EFFECTIVE. We put Mac in it when he was around 12 weeks old and never looked back. Babies love the weighted, cozy feeling! Mac will be 8 months old tomorrow and is still wearing his!
*An edit: Magic Merlin Sleep Suits are not technically recommended for babies who are rolling over on their own. Our baby is extremely strong and capable of not only rolling front to back/back to front, but also crawling, while in this suit - so we feel comfortable putting him in it having carefully observed him on the monitor. That being said, I don't (and neither does the company) endorse putting a baby who can roll/crawl in this suit as it might be a hazard to your child's safety.)

Nuk/Wubbanub/whatever pacifierHonestly, we didn't go super trendy with the pacifier thing because...it's a paci. And it's going to get lost and dirty over and over. But people are crazy about Wubbanubs (they're the ones with a stuffed animal attached to the end) and say that they lose them a lot less. To each her own! 



Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat. This was the most recommended car seat we found, so we got it. Super easy to install and to get out of the car. My only complaint about it is that it is on the heavy side, so when you add the weight of a baby in, it can get extra heavy very quickly. That said, we've loved it and I'd buy it again (and I had a heavy baby!).

Uppababy Vista. Let me level with you: this is an insanely expensive stroller. HOWEVER - it accommodates up to three kids, so it's the only stroller you'll ever need to buy. Several people told us that when they had their first child, they bought a one-child stroller, and wish they'd gone ahead and sprung for one that accommodated at least two children because they eventually had to sell the one-child stroller for much less than they paid, then buy a second stroller. The Vista is extremely durable, gorgeous, and handles like a dream. The stroller base stands up on its own (almost like a kickstand) so you never have to worry about propping it up on anything. Extremely easy to assemble/break down, and comes with both a bassinet and a rumble seat, so it grows with your baby. In fact, I know several people who've used the bassinet of this stroller as the bassinet in their bedrooms - double duty! We asked the women in our families (aunts, sisters, grandmothers, cousins) to put money toward this stroller instead of buying a baby gift, and they generously funded a large portion of it. 

This is not a jogging stroller, so if you're interested in one you can run with, there are lots of great, lightweight ones on the market. The Bob is one that I've heard really good things about from several friends.

MomarooPeople either swear by this product or don't use it much. I was very glad I had this for the times I needed it, but Mac spent more time in the Rock-n-Play or in his crib. If you aren't sleep training right away, the Momaroo is wonderful for little naps and having a place to put the baby so your hands can be free during the day. It was 6 different swing motions, a built-in sound machine, and is Bluetooth enabled so that you can play music through it. My only "con" about the Momaroo is that it is heavy and cumbersome to move to room to room, so I wouldn't buy it if it's going to be your only swing. If you have a Rock-n-Play or another lightweight rocker/swing (like a Baby Bjorn bouncer, for example), you'll be set! 

Graco Pack 'n' PlayI love this product, but I've also heard people swear by the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib (which is more expensive, but much lighter-weight). You need something to take with you when traveling.

Boba wrapsLove these things so much. Easy to use (once you get the hang of it) and easy to roll up and stuff in a suitcase or diaper bag. People also love baby slings.

A 360* carrier. This is another must. At a certain age, many babies stop tolerating facing inward in carriers and want to face out so that they can look around! If you get a carrier, make sure that it's capable of front-facing when the baby is younger, then facing out when it's older. Any brand will do the trick - we have an Infantino.

Diaper bag backpack. This style of diaper bag is great because you're not carrying it in addition to a baby. Find one that stands up on its own (maybe even has feet on the bottom) - great for doctor's appointments when you can't fool with using both hands to go digging through the bag. We have this one and love it. 

Nest Cam. We use this as our baby monitor and I truly don't know why people use anything else. Nest Cam is the same price as other monitors, but doubles as a beautiful, sleek, and aesthetic home security system. It's accessible from ANYWHERE - it never goes out of range because it's connected through your WiFi - so you can access it from dinner or a movie if you go out and leave your baby with a sitter (not that I've done that...hehe!). It has night vision and the a microphone feature so that you can talk through it if necessary. It's so lightweight that we always travel with it and it's a cinch to set up anywhere we go. A Top 5 product for us. I recommend it to everyone. 



Clary's All Purpose Balm. This amazing product functions as a nipple butter/balm. It is a LIFE. SAVER. Bring it to the hospital with you and never let it out of your sight. Apply after each feeding. I've used it from the start and have never had any problems with bleeding or cracking (sorry for that horrifying TMI). Safe for baby to ingest because it's made of natural products. 

Medela HydragelsThese are fabulous gel pads that you put on your nipples after feeding - they just stay inside your bra until the next time. Unbelievably soothing and cooling because HELLO, breastfeeding hurts like a bitch at first. 

Washable breast leak padsNo particular brand. Just eco-friendly not to be trashing a bunch of pads over and over. 

My Brest Friend nursing pillowStupid name, amazing product. People will try to tell you that the Boppy nursing pillow is better. Not even CLOSE. I've used both and it's just no contest. I remember the first time I used MBF and what a game-changer it was; Mac had been slipping down between the Boppy pillow and me, and nursing had been terrible. MBF changed my life.

Cheap-ass Target nursing brasSO comfortable, so inexpensive, and you can sleep in them. Because ya sleep in your bra when you're nursing so you don't leak breast milk everywhere in your sleep. Charming.

Hands-free nursing braI bought a cheap one on Amazon and it's been great. Having to hold two pumping nozzles onto your boobs makes you feel like a straight-up clown. 

Electric and hand breast pump. Get a hospital-grade electric (or, better yet, battery operated) pump (most of them are covered at 100% by your insurance company!) and a hand pump. My electric pump malfunctioned early on in the first week we were home and it would have been TRULY DISASTROUS without the hand pump.

Storage bagsFor the moments when you have too much and need to throw some in the freezer! 

Cloth diapersNo, not for diapering - for burping/spit up! Buy these in bulk and use them as burp cloths. So absorbent and can take a beating. 

Doctor Brown's Slow Flow BottlesWhen you start your baby on a bottle, you'll want the style to be "slow flow." This prevents your baby from getting spoiled by how quickly they're able to suck down a bottle, then getting frustrated when they have to wait a little longer for milk while breastfeeding. They also are a lot less likely to swallow air if the bottle is slow flow, and preventing gas bubbles will be crucial to your sanity. 

Boon grassThis is that adorable little bottle drying station you can sit right on your countertop. It's aesthetic enough that you don't feel like you're junking up your kitchen, but when you have multiple bottles at play, it's a life saver. 

Inglesina Fast Table High Chair. This thing attaches to virtually any tabletop or countertop, is easy to travel with, and pretty easy to clean. Make sure you get the tray, too!

Doctor Brown's Bottle WarmerYou don't think you need this, but the first time you actually need it, you'll be so glad you have it. 

Clothes, diapering, and bathtime: 

Onesies with long sleeves/mittens on the ends: Mac's favorite newborn nursing activity was to slice his entire face to ribbons with his razor-sharp fingernails. Mittens are essential to my child not looking like he is mauled at home. 

Old Navy newborn baby socks: Weirdly specific, but they make socks that are actually elastic and stay on Mac's feet. The standard white baby sock has no elastic in it and just falls off. Why they even make these I have no idea. 

Ubbi diaper pail. Great. We love ours. 

Boudreaux's Butt PasteDiaper rash cream that is excellent. 

Weighted wipe dispenserYou don't know it yet, but there will soon come a day when you need one hand to hold your poop-covered baby and only have one other hand with which to get a wipe and a diaper out of the changing table. Because of this impending reality, you'll want your changing table to be set up so that it's easy for you to do things one-handed. A weighted wipe dispenser keeps you from having to wrestle just one wipe out of the plastic dispenser (they have a tendency to get caught on each other like Kleenex, and before you know it, you've pulled 8 wipes out of the bag. Disaster.). 

For circumcised boys: Vaseline. They'll explain why in the hospital, but go ahead and buy some in advance. 

Boon Naked Collapsible Tub. This collapses into an angled setting for newborns and into a flat setting for babies ready to sit up. It also folds completely down making it incredibly easy to store when company is coming over. You can buy an insert to go in it so the baby doesn't slip down the sides. 

Keter Bath SeatAnother option for babies who can sit up and hold their heads up that you can just put straight down in an adult-sized tub. 


Toys and Accessories:

Before baby is sitting up: 

Boppy newborn loungerDifferent from the nursing pillow; this looks like a big doughnut with a place in the middle for the baby to sit. We used to put tiny baby Mac in it right on the dining room table while we were eating dinner. Easier than the swings (like the Rock 'n Play/Momaroo) because it's so easy to move from place to place! 

Dock-a-TotWe were late to this party because I felt like this was a little extravagant for a baby pillow. I don't think it's a must, but it's certainly nice to have. We used it the most when we were traveling - we checked it at the airport and picked it up at our destination. It helped Mac acclimate more quickly to new surroundings because he felt nice and hemmed in while he was napping/sleeping at night. At home, we mostly used the Boppy pillow or the Rock 'n Play when he was a tiny baby. 

Floor seatI don't personally have this, but I wish I had gotten one! This is a great transitional place for your baby to sit before they can sit up on their own, but after they can hold their head up. Anywhere you can safely contain that baby is a win.

Beach tent. This is amazing if you're a beach family! Also grab a battery powered fan to take with you on the beach. Makes for great naps! 

After baby is sitting up: 

Graco Doorway Jumper. Mac loves this so much and I use it in the doorway of our bathroom when I'm getting ready every morning. The only catch is that you do actually need a doorframe to use it, so if you have a more modern house without door frame molding, it won't work.

Baby Einstein Walker. Y'all, my child loves this so much it hurts. He cruises and coasts around our entire house in it. It's also great because it teaches your child the mechanics of walking without the risk of them falling on their heads! SO great. A Top 5 product for us. 

Below are some great toys, just listed randomly with no explanation other than they're fun, educational, or just plain cute! 

Skip Hop Activity Gym/Playmat
Jellycat Garden Tails Cloth Book
Baby Xylophone
Teething Necklaces

Baby Paper
Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder

Hopefully this has been helpful! I spent a lot of time thinking about what we used most often, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone out there can use this to make the process of registering a little easier. And by the way - a products NO ONE needs? A formula Keurig. Just say no.