Witches on vacation

Returning in two weeks!

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If you are a paying member (ahem:)

…then you will get an issue today! Otherwise, Evil Witches will be back in your mailbox the week of August 21. Stay cool and be safe.

Did you know these things were optional?

In which we learn the Ta-Ta Towel is ta-riffic but La Mer is lamer.

This issue of Evil Witches is free to all! If you like it, please consider supporting it and subscribe:

Witches wrote in response to my question last week regarding what household/family task you decided does not fall under your job description. I am inspired:

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From Heather Kinion in Chicago:

I’m done with cooking (except an occasional completely voluntary meal probably once a month.) I work from home two days a week, with my husband handling daycare drop off and pick up, and am the caregiver two days a week.  This may make it seem like I should be making dinner. But meal planning and cooking stresses me out. I’m not good at the time management, and I’m not a natural at cooking although I’ve been doing it for at least 20 years.

Before our 3 year old, I could get it together to split duties with my husband (who loves to cook and is so good at it). Post-baby, I just can’t. Especially after returning to work part time. I keep us both alive and feed us lunch and that is good enough. 

Thank goodness for this pie shop in my neighborhood (First Slice) which has a frozen meals weekly subscription service. I can pre-heat the oven and slide some metal food trays into it in time to have dinner when my husband gets home (also usually there is a fresh salad and pie). And the meal subscription helps with their mission to feed the homeless, so I’m changing lives by not cooking!

And some others via Twitter:

I mean, right??

~ Claire

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Pediatrics • Product review

Here it is. This is not a sponsored post, just consumer journalism in the name of good poopz.

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The internet • The existential questions raised when confronting our social media targeted ads

[Note from a witch on the Ta-Ta towel:

Busty witches, my husband bought me a Ta-Ta Towel for my birthday (we have a history of silly internet stuff as birthday presents) and I legit kind of love it. I mean, I wouldn’t leave my bathroom/bedroom with it on, but when it comes to the post-shower underboob sweat situation, it’s actually awesome. Definitely recommend if you want to add it to your Witchmas wish list.]

And one more:

A word with • A dermatologist witch who does not want you to waste your money

I don’t mean to brag, but I am friends with a practicing dermatologist. You have no idea how great this is when you have a mysterious rash on a kid’s ass at night, or are choosing bonus freebies in the cosmetics section of a department store. If you don’t have a dermatologist friend, I asked mine the questions I know everyone would want to ask their hypothetical witchy derm friend:

What skincare products does it kill you to see women spend a lot of money on that they can just get for cheap or just skip entirely?
So many anti-aging products are a racket. It blows my mind when I read articles recommending “skin regimens” that are multiple steps and thousands of dollars. It also bugs me when drug companies roll out these crazy expensive retinoids and market them as “cosmetically elegant” or whatever, when the generic works just as well. A good sunscreen, an antioxidant serum, and a retinoid are the most helpful items.

If I'm on a budget and I want to look more well rested/younger what's the one thing worth saving up for?
Do not blow a ton of money on fancy retinol creams. Go see your dermatologist and get a good prescription retinoid. The price for this will depend on your ins

urance of course. You can also start with over the counter adapalene gel which is very affordable. Then, take the money you saved and buy SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic antioxidant serum. It’s a splurge but a great antioxidant serum, and the bottle lasts a long time. For procedures: Botox (or a similar toxin), and Fraxel laser. Both of these are expensive but give you a lot of bang for your buck. 

What is your personal skin routine?
I keep my routine as simple as possible. I wash my face twice a day with Dove soap. In the morning, I use SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic antioxidant serum to face/neck/chest. My everyday sunscreen is La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50. I use the tinted version for light coverage and to protect against visible light with iron oxide. I like the visible light protection because I have some melasma on my forehead. In the evening, I use tretinoin 0.025% cream mixed with a little Cetaphil lotion. If I’m going to the pool or beach or anywhere outdoors, I use SPF 100+. There is a very small benefit above SPF 30 but worth it if I will be outside a lot. I also wear a hat and rashguard and stay in the shade as much as possible. 

Is there any benefit from using a jade roller or rotating face brush or any such topical fun? 
Ha! No.

What sunscreen do you buy for your kids and how often do you really apply it? Do you have to use lotion or can you get away with spray?
I usually use Coppertone or Neutrogena Baby sunscreen but any physical sunscreen (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) is good. We go through a ton of it so I don’t get anything too expensive. I put the kids in rashguards and this year I’m adding swim leggings, so there’s less body surface area to smear with SPF. Wiggly toddlers are impossible so I do use spray sometimes, just make sure to rub it in as best you can. 

Is it really true I should sleep on a silk pillowcase to prevent wrinkles?
There’s really no good evidence for this. Silk pillowcases are helpful for hair breakage. But the best thing you can do for your skin while sleeping is to put a retinoid on it before bed.

Do regular facials have any actual face benefits?

Does La Mer actually do anything?
Nothing more than any other product line. Save your money for laser instead! 

Do I have to see a derm to get skin tags removed or does anything OTC make them go away? Can I just pick them off or what?
You can take them off at home with nail clippers or nail scissors. Just sterilize the instrument first and go for it. Have a little gauze in case they bleed. 

How legit is it to get Botox/injectibles from anyplace other than a doc’s office--like a medispa or freelance nurse? 
NOT LEGIT AT ALL. Board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons have years of training and experience. Random people opening medispas may not even have a basic knowledge of facial anatomy or pharmacology or the physics of lasers, and things can and do go horribly wrong. And if a medispa “provider” doesn’t know what can go wrong, they also won’t know how to fix it. Every derm I know has seen and treated patients with complications from medispa procedures gone wrong, including permanent scarring and disfigurement. Don’t do it!

Is there anything I can actually do for dark eye circles (other than concealer), or is it genetic and should I just give up?
Honestly concealer/highlighter is usually my recommendation. But you have to look at the underlying cause. If you have allergies (allergic shiners), Zyrtec or Sudafed May help. For venous congestion, sleeping on an extra pillows and cold things like cucumber slices or green tea bags might help. If it’s genetic hyperpigmentation, you can do fillers, laser, topical lightening creams...lots of options, depending on how motivated you are. But concealer is quick and inexpensive and easy. Vaseline is my favorite eye cream.

Can you do anything about pore size aside from peels and lasers?
Pore size is like shoe size: you really can’t permanently change it. Retinoids and peels and lasers can clear pores out and make them less noticeable, but nothing shrinks them permanently. 

Hair and nails supplements: legit or BS? 
The science is not great but we do recommend them sometimes. Anecdotally, patients occasionally report improvement. But they’re definitely not necessary for every day use and there are other, better treatments for hair loss.

I get tiny little individual red spots on my skin: can I do anything about these at home? 
Nope! Come see me. Ha!

Um, what do you do when you have bad skin on your butt?
I like CLn body wash, Topix wipes, or sulfur soap. You can also do Rx antibiotic gel. And shower right after workouts. 

What should I tell the annoying people in my life that sunscreen blocks my kids from getting Vitamin D or is too full of “toxins”? 
Sunscreen blocks your kids from getting skin cancer!

What are the weirdest things patients have asked you if you can do? Have you had to talk patients out of certain procedures or treatments?
One patient asked if I could make his scar look like Harry Potter’s after skin cancer surgery on the forehead. I actually kind of liked that idea!

In less pleasant encounters, I’ve had a lot of male patients complain about penile lesions that can supposedly only be seen while they are erect, and several of those patients have asked me to help them become erect. (Those patients immediately get fired). I had one patient who used to take off his gown and stroll the office hallways totally nude. 

I think the coolest thing I’ve done so far is extract a live botfly larva from a cyst on a patient’s head. It was so awesomely gross and also so satisfying. 

Parenting • Milestones

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Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers and so on. If you have input on today’s newsletter or on anything you can follow us and chat us up here. If you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox about once a week, please spread the word and encourage your pals to subscribe. If you're interested in possibly submitting, have suggestions for topics or want to shoot any general questions just shoot us an email (you can reply right to this newsletter.) You can follow us on Instagram too.

This issue is brought to you by lunchbox note writer’s block.

One witchy thing

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Don't mess with the bull; you'll get the horns

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I re-watched The Breakfast Club a few weeks ago. It does not hold up. I remember when I first saw it, I most identified with misunderstood and beautiful (until her makeover) outcast Ally Sheedy, and yearned to be/fix hot troublemaker Judd Nelson. In reality, I probably was most like Anthony Michael Hall, a naïve uptight judgmental nerd.

Do you know who I most identify with now? The principal. Like him, all I want to do is enjoy my weekend, have my lunch and my hot black coffee but these kids will not stop being a pain in my ass. They don’t listen, they touch everything, they’re noisy, they go where they’re not supposed to go, they don’t take me seriously, they don’t sit still, and they are terribly dramatic.

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I also of course identify with the janitor as well, from a custodial standpoint.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading Witches.

Also, I just want to let you know, the second long piece in today’s issue addresses miscarriage and stillbirth, in case that is not a topic you care to read about right now.


Y R Spouses •  Summer baking edition

House and home • What we talk about when we talk about laundry

Before I had kids I was so committed to the idea of Laundry Inbox Zero that sometimes I would strip out the clothes I was wearing  and put them in the washer. Then I had kids, and I was lowkey traumatized by the very sudden discovery that I would be doing laundry every day for the next 18 years, more or less. I really couldn’t believe it. 

I now have a system--don’t we all? For some, the system is no system. I can’t deal with letting it pile up too much so I do, roughly, a load in, a load out every day and try to wash by person so that there is one stop per load.

What kills me are the magazine articles out there (especially in Real Simple) that try to tell you you could be doing laundry so much better. If only you had a nicely organized laundry room. If only you had a dedicated place for steaming. If only all your detergents and whatnot were Mrs. Meyers, or came from France and smelled like lavender. If only you had nice wicker baskets lined with burlap with handwritten labels on them and if only you had beautiful writing or could get your printer to work. If only you were doing laundry beautifully you would fucking love it you dumb sloppy b. 

For a future issue, I am modern home ec curriculum (suggestions welcome!) and you better believe I would have a section on laundry. Laundry 101 would be on laundry: best practices. Laundry 201 will be on how much laundry you do once you have a kid and how not to let it overwhelm you (with a special section on getting barf out of sheets.) Laundry 301 is about how laundry can come close to ruining your marriage:

For several years I just washed my husband’s clothes along with the other three people’s in the house because it seemed easier than observing his laundry piles wax and wane like the tide. He will let it sit for days. I don’t count but I’d say four days to a week. I put laundry away immediately, usually listening to a podcast or music in my earbuds.

This winter, when he came home from a business trip to Northern California where the return trip was delayed because of the polar vortex in Chicago, where school was closed and our pipes were frozen, de-activating our washer, dryer and dishwasher, I told him I was no longer washing his clothes. “Are you made at me??” was the response. 

Yes, I am mad at you. I realized that if I can take care of these kids and a semi-functioning house all by myself you should do your laundry all by yourself.

Anyway now I just choose to deal with the waxing and waning piles and don’t count the days.

I asked other ladies I know how they tolerate laundry + kids + marriage.

  •  I typically work from home twice a week. On those days, I wash all the laundry and then that evening, my husband and I fold it together while watching Netflix.

  • I throw away clothes that are stained after washing twice. Don’t waste your time on something that is not going to change. Move on.

  • My husband does the laundry. I fold and put away. I like to do it in my bedroom with a shitty TV show on and a cocktail.

  • I had a laundry meltdown last year and got each kid their own laundry basket. One laundry lesson later and they have done their own laundry since. 

  • Cleaning lady. Best money I spend each week. She washes, dries and folds laundry. We put it away. No one would have clean underwear otherwise.

  •  Laundry is my secret way of avoiding my family. I will happily announce that I need my husband to take the kids somewhere so I can fold and put away several loads of laundry on Saturday or Sunday. Then I fold laundry on my bed while catching up on my recorded shows. I love it. Laundry is the new breastfeeding. 

  •  I just own like 80 pairs of underwear. Works pretty well.

  • We outsource one load per week to a service that picks it up and drops off with 24 hour turnaround, washed and folded. $15 per week / load which is like a full container box. And that leaves me with one load that's more time sensitive like camp / school stuff or nicer clothes that I don't want to dry clean but also not outsource.

  • We do laundry every day. But we barely sort anything. The kids are responsible for getting it from the dryer to the sorting station (my bed) sorting, and putting their own stuff away. Having kids old enough to do laundry has been fantastic.

  • I had one of the most profound epiphanies of my life when I realized that my 5 year old and 1 year old daughters can share socks because who gives a fuck if kid socks are a little too big or too small? We now have the same small, attractive basket where all the kid socks go and if they want socks on their feet, they can take it from there. Taking down Big Sock. Ironically by giving all my money to Big Cute Basket, so Target is still gonna be fine.

  •  I’m the laundry queen in our parts. I start it on Saturday, finish on Sunday, put away air-dried stuff on Monday. I hate the folding/putting-away part very, very much, but a drink and some background music help a lot. So does not giving much of a shit about how neatly I fold.

  • Now that I have a functional laundry room and my triplets no longer share one too-small closet and dresser, I am much happier to do laundry. Everyone has their own basket to sort the clean into. I arrived at hanging all tops, a few years back and I find it most efficient in storage space: it allows for shirts to be seen before selecting, saves time and wasted effort of folding, and frees up dresser drawer space for organization. Right now I help my 9 year olds put their laundry away bc it’s better than yelling at them for 3 days to do it and it actually is a little 1:1 moment where they have to do some of the work, I teach skills, and they sometimes open up. My rule is they must actively help or I walk and they do all the work. The other night one of my boys, unprompted, made his bed with clean sheets when it was clear I didn’t have time to get to it. He said “Hey mom, I did it myself! It was so easy!” I told him I started teaching him and his brothers that skill at 4 years old and it only took 5 years for him to do it himself. This is a great accomplishment, but also a reality check on slow-rolling expectations of independence.

  •  I made it my husband’s job. Does that count? 😂

Parenting • Useful tip for using loving empathy to engage with a child in an educational supportive manner

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A word with • Women who experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, on what helped 

A woman I know posed a question online asking for ideas on ways to support a friend who had just endured a late term miscarriage. I asked women who had been through a similar situation what really did help versus what people often might help:

A friend gave me flowers with a note that says miscarriage is the only death where we don’t send flowers. I felt very seen and supported.
⁠—Rachel Zients Schinderman 

Someone sent me a bouquet of flowers that also had succulents in them that could be transplanted. The symbolism of flowers that were brief and beautiful combined with a small part of them that could live on was so, so meaningful.
⁠—Kelly A. Burch

I had a 2nd-trimester miscarriage (about 15 weeks), and the most meaningful things people did came down to tangible recognition of the baby we'd lost. One friend gave me an angel ornament (she'd also had miscarriages) that I hang on my tree every year, and another gave me a necklace with a white bead and a rainbow bead when I was pregnant the next time, which I wear in family photos. I have another friend who participates in the March of Dimes every year in honor of her preemie, and one year when I'd donated, when I got the thank-you postcard from her, I realized she'd included our miscarried baby among the purple butterflies they'd carried to recognize other children. I hadn't asked for that, but I was incredibly touched.

Send a card, pick up the phone, send flowers - just reach out in some way. It’s a very isolating experience (I lost mine at 20 weeks). Avoid platitudes and don’t ask about the gory details. If the baby had a name, say the name to the parent when you are talking about the loss. Later on, reach out on the anniversary of when the baby was lost.
⁠—Erica Houskeeper 

If you have small children, especially babies, leave them at home if you are visiting. It was too painful for me to be around other people’s babies for awhile. 

I found it hard to be around pregnant women. My sister was pregnant at the time, due within two weeks of me, so I didn't see her for months. She called and chatted online a lot.
⁠—Lisa Corriveau 

I had a 13 week miscarriage: if family wants to help, they should just help and not expect you to tell them what you need or how you're feeling. Just put food in front of me. Just clean. Just take the kid to the park. The only thing that helped me feel better at any point was when the on-duty OB got close to my face and said, "One in four pregnancies this happens. You aren't alone and you're going to come back from this." I needed to hear that.
⁠— Halina Newberry Grant

I have had a miscarriage at 15 weeks and a stillbirth at 32 weeks, 5 days. My friends were my saviors. After my miscarriage, which happened on Christmas Eve, one friend came over to my house and drank a bottle of wine with me while I cried on my floor, even though it was Christmas. When I found out my son died and would be stillborn, my best friend flew cross country to be by my side. The friend who had been there for my miscarriage left work immediately and came to the hospital. She also painted my toenails for me while I was in the hospital because I was pregnant with twins and still had one living son in utero and couldn’t reach my feet. Another friend organized a meal train. All my friends helped with our daughter. My friends from high school planned and paid for his funeral. Friends flooded my mailbox with cards and one sent us a gift certificate for a butterfly bush since we learned purple butterflies are the symbol for twin loss. 

When we lost our baby (5 months preterm labor, died within hours), the things that helped me most were simply seeing which friends showed up to the service we had, and the ones who kept checking in on me regardless of how often I actually answered my phone or replied back. Also, my mom came to stay with us for a few weeks and literally did everything for us (cleaned, cooked, and had endless patience, never judging).
⁠— Priscilla Blossom ( Instagram)

I lost my first daughter at 23 weeks. My immediate friends said/did mostly nothing. I remember being disappointed with their responses and my mom encouraging me to be understanding because most people simply don’t know what to say or do. But my MIL sends me an email or text every single year on the day she died. I love that she does this. This year, as expected, she sent me a quick note on April 14th - just to tell me she was thinking of Zoey (my daughter’s name), wondered how I was doing and told me she loved me. And, every year, I read her message, cry a little and move on with my day. My daughter would have been 15 had she lived.
⁠— Shelley Sandiford 

I lost a baby at 37 weeks. Every year my mother donates a book to our local library (or the school library) in his name on his birthday, and I consider it the perfect gift.

Beauty (and a purposefully silly palate cleanser •  Cool for the summer

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Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers (but welcome and thanks and hello to the non-mothers reading too—I see you. ) This is a project that I am making up as I go along but if people seem into it then let’s keep going. If you have input you can follow us and chat us up here. If you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox about once a week, please spread the word and encourage your pals to subscribe. If you're interested in possibly submitting, have suggestions for topics or want to shoot any general questions you can reply right to this newsletter. We also have an Instagram account!

This issue is brought to you by the good intentions of bringing your kids to the farmer’s market, as if this time it won’t be annoying and expensive and not worth it.

One witchy thing

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