The Truth About Easter Weekend

You guys want the truth about this past weekend? I am not even sure if you do or even care, really this story has no real purpose other than to embarrass myself by sharing the inner-workings of my brain. I’ve debated on whether or not to share, only because sometimes exposing your reality can be a bit scary. It is scary to open yourself up and share what is truly on your mind and any story that ends in poop you guys is just not cute. But, if you know anything about me, you know that I’m more than happy to share any and everything. So here goes nothing …

When any sort of holiday rolls around I feel two things at the same time and I am beyond grateful of the two, because after we lost Ryan and before we were blessed with Mila I only felt sad (+ angry). Now I feel both sad and happy. It actually wasn’t until a few months ago when I realized I can feel both emotions at the same time. Since having Mila I was going about life feeling sad when I need to and feel happy when I was. Then I was sitting on the floor playing with Mila and I felt so overwhelming sad that Ryan wasn’t with us in that moment. But also while watching Mila play and interacting with her it made me so unbelievably happy. It was then I understood that sad and happy can co-exist and they do so gracefully at times. Sometimes the both sneak up on me and it takes a minute for me to catch my breath. Grief is so wild and toys with me daily, but what is a mother to do when she is forced to walk through life with out her child? Anyways, sad and happy. It can be felt at the same time, who knew!?

Now, take this into consideration. Easter was the last holiday we ever spent with Ryan. It was our last holiday before he left us for Heaven and every year when Easter rolls around I can’t help but think … in just a few short weeks the anniversary of his passing will pop up and well that always makes me feel more sad and angry than anytime of year. I also re-live our last Easter together and how thrilled he was during the egg hunt. How we scoured for peanut butter eggs only and how Ryan fought with me on wearing the vest I made him wear. I remember Dan coaching Ryan during the egg hunt too, which makes me so angry because I can’t stand to think of Dan losing his only son. You know? Does that make sense? Like it just kills me to think that Dan too, has to go through what I feel. It is all not fair. Though life isn’t fair is it?

So while Easter is truly an exciting time, it also brings with it a cloud of heaviness that is not to be ignored. However, when you have a rambunctious toddler (Mila) and a mom who fights daily to find the good and joy in everything (Myself) … Easter gets ramped up and we dive in head first into egg dying, basket stuffing and candy eating. I just love watching Mila’s little face light up and honestly her first go at dying Easter eggs was truly a memory that will be carved into my brain forever. But we can’t all the way forget about being sad and missing Ryan because I physically just can’t and also I would never want to forget. There you have it, happy and sad at the same time.

Feeling this way makes me a little more sensitive than normal. To which Dan rolls his eyes at because he thinks I am too sensitive all the time. But I am sensitive non the less. On social media I shared our Easter weekend and it went something like this;

Saturday we spent the day with my family and did an Easter egg hunt etc. and we were all happy!

Sunday we spent the day with Dan’s family and did Easter brunch and another egg hunt and were were all happy!

Both days were beautiful and Mila had the best time spending time with all her family. But I will say it was a little bit of a struggle to figure out who's family gets Easter and who's family gets the day before Easter. I will also attribute my sensitivity to this struggle. And the fact that around Easter time I always am more emotional because of what this time of year brings with it. I cried over who's family got what and it was only because I wanted it all to be fair you know? Being married and dividing up holidays with our families has always been a bit of a struggle for me because both Dan and I are so close with our own families. It can be heart wrenching to give up a family tradition to join in on another one. Of course it always works out. I just get sad sometimes when we have to choose between my family or Dan’s. Can anyone who is in a relationship relate? Or am I being a nut bag? haha! I thought I'd share this only because when I shared our weekend on social media it all was just so happy and it seemed so seamless. I wanted to come clean and just tell what it took to get to what I ended up sharing on Instagram. You only see so much with a photo, you know?

OK, I’ll just keep sharing here. As most of you know we potty trained Mila two weeks ago and it has been going so well. Better than we had expected! However, Easter weekend was our first weekend away from home. Plus being away from home we had to log 3+ hours in the car at a time. I planned ahead for any accidents and we just went on our way! We stopped mid-car ride so Mila could go potty and things were looking so great. That is until I accidentally left Mila’s potty seat somewhere in San Diego and didn’t realize until we were pulling up to Dan’s family beach house in Laguna. It was past 9pm and everything was closed. The one place that was open didn’t have potty seats. Anyways, Mila refused to use the potty with out it and held her pee all night and all morning. I finally made it to a Walmart on Easter Sunday to buy a new potty. Which Mila refused to use because it wasn’t what she was used to. She had three accidents on Easter Sunday all because she refused to use the new potty I bought to replace her original one I lost. I guess you can call that a “Mom Fail” right? So, the beautiful dress you saw Mila in. It has to be dry cleaned now.

On the drive home we all were exhausted. The three of us didn’t say a single word the whole drive home. I had dinner delivered and put Mila in the bath. Things were looking up! I was in the bathroom sorting through laundry while Mila played in the bath right next to me. Dan was cleaning up the table. I was literally thinking that any uncertainty I felt about Easter weekend was overruled by the wonderful time we had with our families. I was replaying Mila hustling to find eggs and wishing I took extra coffee cake home with me. My thoughts were disrupted by Mila exclaiming “Uh Oh MOM!” I looked over and her bath water was brown and I screamed mostly because I knew I’d have to spend the end of my night cleaning poop out of the bathtub. And not just any poop. Poop Mila had been holding for the last two days … it was beyond disgusting.

I guess what truly motivated me to share all this was while I was scrolling through Instagram I saw so many families post about their Easter. Family photos, Easter baskets and egg hunts, bunny pancakes before church and Sunday best outfits. I was right there among them all! I think I posted twice on Easter! I did mention missing Ryan, but I knowingly dismissed the rest of our Easter weekend because why would anyone care?! But I’m sitting here, the Tuesday after Easter and I felt so heavy like I needed to get it all off me and out of my brain. I miss my son so bad it makes me sensitive and crazy most times. I struggle when it comes to picking my family or Dan’s family to do holidays with. I lost my kids toilet seat, she refused to use the new one I bought her, only to pee everywhere all day. And to just round out the weekend my kid also pooped in her bath and I got to clean it up. That is life I guess! For me things happen and a lot of the time I physic myself out because of all the emotions I’m feeling on a daily basis. Holidays just add another layer of sadness which can make my brain a little cloudy. Something I am aware of … Just thought I’d share of real life with you guys.

Any who … Thanks for listening to my ramblings. I’m already laughing about the weekend and I’ve ordered two potty seats that Mila will approve of that arrive today!

Some photos we took on Easter Sunday ...

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Our Potty Training Adventure

At the start of February, Dan and I decided that it was time to plant the potty training seed within Mila. Mila turned two last December and has shown major interest in using the toilet. She loved to sit on it and pretend she was going to the bathroom. Each time before getting her into the bath we’d have her sit on the toilet and it became a favorite activity for her. Mila also at that point could talk with us fairly well. She knew the words; pee, poop, toilet, bathroom, diaper and understood what they were and what they did. I think Dan and I both had faith and hope in her (and in us) which is very much needed when beginning the potty training adventure. We also knew that it wouldn’t happen over night and if we wanted to start, there would be no looking back. 

I think most of you know we partnered with Pull-Ups this year to help with our potty training experience. I’ve shared twice now on social media how we’ve incorporated Pull-Ups and their incredible resources into our potty training … here + here. We actually love Pull-Ups product but their supportive online resources for both parents and children is where the magic really is. I was on their site nearly daily at the start of our potty training experience. Mila and I visit it together now at least once a week. I think the best message it brings to life is the sheer fact that potty training isn’t just an experience for children, but one for the parents as well. Pull-Ups does a fantastic job helping both parties (parent + child) for a successful journey. 

I do want to mention that this blog post is not sponsored by Pull-Ups. Though they have played an important part in our potty training. I do however create some sponsored posts for them on social media which is just an extension of our potty training story and my want to share our experience. So you'll see us post about them a few times more sharing exactly why we love them. I feel it is necessary to mention that this entire blog post is not sponsored by any of the products mentioned or any of the links I share. I just wanted to share what has worked for us. My hope is that you take our story and apply what works to your own and toss the rest. Every one potty trains differently and there is no right or wrong way. I am not a professional nor a doctor or anything of that nature. I am just a mom who has potty trained two of her children the same way successfully and this is how … 

Step One - Start The Potty Conversation 

As I mentioned above, Dan and I found Mila ready to start the potty training conversation back in February. Together we ditched all her diapers and replaced them with Pull-Ups. Mila was excited about her new underpants situation and having her wear Pull-Ups was a great way to teach her the ins and outs of what using the potty meant. Mila wore the Pull Ups 24/7 and learned that you had to pull them up and down when going to use the toilet. And because the Pull Ups have a slight difference in absorbency than diapers, Mila was able to feel wetness more prominently. We’d take her to use the toilet through out the day (even though she was still going in her Pull Up). After a few weeks she got the concept of ‘going to the bathroom’ though she wasn’t telling me when she had to go. If that makes sense? Right, she understood what the bathroom was and how people go potty on the toilet. But she wasn’t doing it herself. We’d say things like;

“Mila, lets try and go potty on the toilet.”

“Uh oh! You peed in your Pull Up. Tell Mommy and Daddy you have to pee and we’ll take you to the toilet”

“Lets try and go potty before we go!”

In turn Mila would say; 

“No, I don’t have to go potty.”

“Uh oh! I went potty.”

“Ok Mama” 

During this time Mila would pee in the toilet every so often, the majority of the time she would still go in her Pull-Up. When she did pee in the toilet we cheered for her, she added a sticker to her sticker chart and we gave her one mini gummy worm. We love the sticker charts on the Pull-Ups website. You can print them out and have your child decorate them before using it. Having Mila color her own sticker chart was a highlight and it made the experience of using it more exciting. You can find the sticker charts here. While Mila was using the Pull-Ups full time we did a bit of traveling. Mila used them on our flight to Costa Rica and while we were on vacation there. The topic of going potty on the toilet continued. Which brings me to the one Golden Rule of potty training for us. Be Consistent. Being consistent is huge. It allowed Mila to really nail down the concept of potty training and understand that once she was 100% in underwear there was no other option other than to use the toilet. 

After a month and a half of consistently using Pull-Ups, showing Mila how to use the toilet and having her sit on the toilet to “try and go potty” Dan and I decided to take the plunge into the next phase of our potty training. Mind you we’d be putting Mila on the toilet daily and the conversation of using the toilet to go potty was very apparent. We felt after a month and half Mila was ready to take the next steps into “big girl-hood”. 

Step Two - Cold Turkey & No Turning Back

Before moving forward to our next step, I had to wait for a break in our calendar. I cleared my schedule and dedicated an entire week to hard core potty training. I prepared my refrigerator with juice and carbonated water. I bought fun new fruit snacks, mini lollipops, jelly beans, ring pops and put them all in a basket I dubbed the “Treasure Chest”. I also made coconut water popsicles. All of these were in efforts to; 

A. keep Mila drinking liquids so she could understand the feeling of having to go pee 

B. to have a fun assortment  of rewards to choose from when she went potty on the toilet. 

At this point we stocked her drawer with new underwear that she picked out herself. Which I recommend because it helped Mila get more excited about this new transition. She was excited about the Pull Ups and the characters featured on them and now she was excited about the underwear and the characters featured on them. The same but different, you know? We stopped using Pull-Ups all together and moving forward Mila was to be in underwear 24/7. There was no looking back now. At the start, Mila had a little difficulty, she would complain about having to go potty on the toilet. Mila would have a ton of accidents and even though she knew the concept of going potty on the toilet … she tested the situation and my reaction to her peeing in her underwear (or peeing on my bed, on my ottoman, behind the fig tree planter in our living room) you get the idea. She went pee in the toilet but also tested out going pee in other places. It was like we were having a fencing match ... she would make a move and I would react the same. Every. Single. Time. As to not confuse her and to set in stone that I make the rules. And the rule is you go potty on the toilet. I felt that if I had caved in and said “Ok! You can wear Pull-Ups at night or when we go out for errands and underwear just at home” then she would rely on that and do her business in those rather than in the toilet. So the battle began and I won. Well we both won because now Mila uses the toilet when she has to go potty with happiness and ease. 

The first five days are the hardest. I had Mila wear a shirt and just underwear only. We started the day “going potty on the toilet” which was just having Mila sit on the toilet in the morning. I’d say things like; 

“Ok, now when you have to go pee or poop you do it in the toilet.”

“Let Mommy know when you have to go pee or poop!”

“Every time you go pee or poop on the toilet you can put a sticker on your chart and choose a reward from the Treasure Chest!”

Then I set a timer for fifteen minutes. Every fifteen minutes I would take Mila to go to the bathroom. At first she would be reluctant and cry that she didn’t have to go. I’d either sit on the stool listening to her quietly or walk out of the bathroom and let her have her moment. She eventually went pee on the toilet. Which Dan and I both met with wild praise and a ton of “Mila! We are so proud of you!” After the first 2-3 days we extended the timer to 30 minutes and kept repeating “Mila, make sure you let Mommy and Daddy know when you have to go potty!” To which she responded with "Ok Momma." I think we said this every 5-10 minutes and even to this day we ask her about 2-3 times an hour and she always says "Ok Momma." 

By staying home I was able to really learn Mila’s “need to pee” actions. I could tell when she had to go pee and I knew around 2-4pm was when the urge for number two would hit. Anytime Mila had an accident I would kindly remind her “Mila, you need to tell Mommy or Daddy when you have to go pee.” “You do not go pee anywhere except on the toilet.” “Do you pee or poop on the carpet or in your pants? No. Do you do pee or poop in the toilet? Yes!” Mila went number two twice on the carpet. We let Mila know we were disappointed, but we also made it clear that it was ok to have accidents. We just continued to reinforce the act of doing her business on the toilet and after four days it started to stick. On the fourth day she went number two on the toilet and so far (its been nearly two weeks) she continues to go both number one and two on the toilet. I did increase her fiber a bit more with added spinach in her smoothies and giving her dates and raisins for snacks in hopes of making going number two easier. The coconut water popsicles also helped with that too. 

Being consistent with setting the timer and taking Mila to the bathroom often paid off. Also, letting her complain about going potty and staying quiet when she did so. Not engaging with her when she threw a fit. Staying calm when she had accidents all over my house. Staying positive. It all added up to success. It kept Mila calm and overall happy through out the experience. It also drove home the fact that this was life now, going potty on the toilet is never going to go away no matter what. 

Some things that helped during this phase - For us, we use the Prince Lionheart toilet seat. We have one for at home and one for travel. It sits on top of the toilet seat so Mila feels comfortable. It is also easy to clean. We don’t use a mini potty or a traveling potty. This is just what works for us. We also visit the Pull-Ups website so Mila can chat with her favorite Disney characters. This feature is so cute and it acts as if they are calling Mila to congratulate her and keep her positive during her journey. The Pull-Ups website also has really fun games you can play which is helpful when staying home for so many days in a row. The Pull-Ups website has been a great supportive resource for us and continues to be!

I have been sharing a bit of our experience on Instagram. And in turn I’ve been getting a lot of questions about potty training her at night in tandem with the day. A few were confused as to why we did daytime potty training and night time potty training at the same time. For us it seemed easier to knock them both out together. I didn’t want to confuse Mila with being strict about using the toilet during the day and then letting her go pee in her pants at nighttime. I knew it would be hard work for me in terms of cleaning up over night messes. But I was prepared and frankly Mila benefited from it. She has had two night time accidents in almost two weeks, which to me is pretty great. Here are some ground rules we made to make night time potty training as easy as possible;

1. Mila goes to bed at 7:30pm every night. We have dinner around 5/5:30pm. After 5:30pm Mila is to have no more liquids. So for nearly two hours she doesn’t drink anything prior to bed. This has been hard because with out fail Mila always asks for water and it breaks my heart to not give in. But it helps limit night time accidents. Also she drinks so much during the day, we aren’t depriving her or making her dehydrated. Until she gets the hang of waking up when she has to pee, we’ll stick to this rule. 

2. We make Mila go potty before bed. This might seem like a no brainer. Sometimes she goes and sometimes she doesn’t, but going potty before bed has become routine. We also take her to go potty first thing when she wakes up. This way she can get the idea that you go potty in the toilet not in your bed.

3. We transitioned her into a toddler bed so she can get up when she has to go potty at night. (which she hasn’t done yet) We use this sleep rail. Fortunately with Mila, we haven’t had an issue with her getting out of bed since having her in a toddler bed. A few of you were asking if that was a problem and how to get children to stay in their bed once you put them down for the night. I think being consistent is key and staying calm when walking them back to their bed. Explaining to them that this is the new norm and you aren’t to get out of bed unless you have to use the bathroom or until it is morning. I know a few of my friends use an alarm clock. So you’d set the alarm and tell your children that once they hear the alarm they can then get out of bed. I always think children love to test you and see what they can get away with. I see that in my kids almost daily. The key is to follow through with the rules you’ve set in place. It sucks when they cry and complain and make a scene. But when you stick to your rules it sends a direct message to them and their learning brain that “Momma isn’t here to play around and what she says, goes!” If you cave into them and their reactions then they take note and will continue to act out in hopes of getting what they want. (That is just my opinion.)

4. To make my life easier with night time potty training, I line Mila’s bed with these pee pads. We also have a mattress protector on her mattress. Be prepared to do a ton of laundry. But also know (and have faith in your child) that they will grasp the concept within time. You got this! 

Step Three - Practice Makes Perfect

You know when parents say “I potty trained my kid in 3 days!” and it leaves you feeling so defeated? Just know that when they say that, it likely means they potty trained their child in three days, but are still dealing with a few accidents during the day and at night time. There may be a small % of children who grasp the entire concept daytime and nighttime within three days and Hey! Congrats to them! But for most, potty training is a journey that takes a month or more. Though Mila is considered potty trained she still needs my help, she still needs me to remind her to go potty and she still has a few accidents in her bed at night. She hasn't had an accident while out and about, but I'm sure she might. She is learning. She is learning this new potty on the toilet life and with learning comes some learning curves. So my last step is practice. We now go run errands and go about our daily life. But we bring our toilet seat with us, we go potty before we leave, we go potty while we are out and I am prepared with extra outfits and undies, hand sanitizer etc. My guess is that Mila will have it fully down pat in a few months and by the end of the year she will be able to go pee by herself and then call me to come wipe her after she goes number two. “Mom! I’m done!” Then comes learning how to wipe, remembering to flush and wash your hands. You guys, it is a journey! 

Some have messaged me telling me that Mila is too young. Or telling me I should wait until she is three so it goes by faster with less accidents etc. However, I have potty trained both my children at the ripe old age of 2 and 3 months and it has worked for us. Again, everyone potty trains differently and there truly is no right or wrong way! In addition all parents develop their own tips and tricks for making their experience easier. Take what you will and apply it where you need it, toss the rest and go for it. You know your child best and you know what you are capable of when it comes to bodily fluids ;) Stay Calm, Stay Positive, You got this!

Photos by Lily Ro Photography for our partnership with Pull-Ups (Again, this specific blog post is not sponsored) 

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Introducing, My Collection With Freshly Picked!

Last week I announced that I created a moccasin collection with Freshly Picked and they have officially launched this morning! I still can’t believe this is real life, as I’ve been a huge fan of Freshly Picked since I became a mother. They make the most adorable baby and kids moccasins, shoes and sandals. Each pair comes in vibrant prints and gorgeous colors. I am thrilled to have joined their team and have my hand at designing moccasins with a little Baby Boy Bakery flair. I am so grateful for the love everyone has shown the collection so far, I hope you and your little ones love my moccasins as much as I do!

A little walk down memory lane, I first saw Freshly Picked moccasins on Instagram. My friend Lauren shared a photo of her son wearing a tan pair and I loved them immediately. I bought the same color for my own son Ryan and my obsession began. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I bought a pair of teal Freshly Picked moccasins for her to wear when coming home from the hospital. Mila wore those teal moccasins all the time and now they sit on a shelf in her bedroom as a little memento. To me, the moccasins have become much more than just shoes. I believe they are signs of a life well lived and each pair carries with it a story.

I’ve always held Freshly Picked and the founder Susan Peterson in high regard. Simply because Susan built her company from the ground up and hustled so gracefully to the top. As a mother of two herself, she is inspirational on many levels. When my son Ryan passed away Susan was one of the first people to reach out to me and my family. She sent me a large clear glass vase full of white lilies and a card that simply said "I am here for you. I love you. Susan" I had only met her once before that and ever since our friendship has been that of support on every level. As a small business owner myself, having the support of Susan Peterson was quite a big deal to me and something I sort of keep sacred.

As I mentioned before, for me, Freshly Picked has always been more than just a cute shoe. I love that my children's shoes support the stories that frame their life. When I look at the soles of each moccasin and see dark footprints I see memories ... I hear laughter. Freshly Picked has the ability to support children with adventure and I love that a simple product, a shoe, can do that. When I look my daughter's moccasin collection I don't just see shoes, I see; her first steps, our camping trip to the Redwoods, that time my husband bought her a vanilla ice cream cone or when our family cheered her on while she danced.

My daughter Mila just turned two and Freshly Picked has been along for the adventure. Mila has been in a pair of moccasins for just about every memory and if I am being truthful, Freshly Picked has also been a part of the hard times too. Like a few memorable tantrums and the first time Mila took a big fall and scraped her knee. We adore Freshly Picked, the colors and prints highlight our weekly Disney trips, cooking together in the kitchen, our camping trips and our Saturday pancake dates. As a family we crave adventure and are constantly dreaming up things to do together, big or small. Sometimes it can be a trip or making a fort in our living room to watch a movie. Whatever it may be, Mila seems to be wearing a pair of moccasins.

Adventure awaits and I hope we can inspire families to spend time together, through a shoe?! The concept may seem crazy, but if you own a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins then you are familiar with the nostalgic adventure they induce. I can only hope my own Freshly Picked collection will convey the same feeling for others!

Here is a bit of how my designs were inspired and came to be …

I have a habit of seeing beyond a product. My husband says I am too emotional, too personal. But I believe that everything ought to begin by being personal and have emotion tied tight to it. When I begin thinking about designing products I am inspired by what I know best. And what I know best are my own children and my own motherhood. You know those two things look different on everyone, but at the very core they are similar. My children inspire everything that I do, but as a mother I am drawn to children and never just want the best for my own. I want the best for every child. The very best thing you can do for your child is to spend time with them and take them on adventures big or small. If you follow along with me and my family on social media, you know that most of our adventures take place at home, within our kitchen or in Mila's bedroom playing make believe. As parents we help narrate their little lives until they can do so on their own. So yes, my children inspire me and what I create. But it its that want to inspire other parents to live a life full of adventure and to make memories daily that drives the design for all that I create.

Motherhood and childhood although messy, it is the very best journey. It was with that notion my moccasin designs were born. If you look closely to my designs you can see the mess, you can see the beauty and you can see the adventure that motherhood and childhood hold alike.

Shop My Freshly Picked Collection HERE!

Photos by Lily Ro Photography

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Sweet Pea

To me this shoe encapsulates my daughter. It is soft and beautiful floral print shoe, but it also packs a punch with pops of bright pinks and yellow. The scattered florals remind me of how my baby girl can be messy and gorgeous all at once.

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It's My Party!

I think children live a life free of judgement and inhibition. They truly love deep and play hard, they dance, they laugh all as if no one is watching them. Their life is their party, day in and day out. I wanted to created to a shoe that truly brought to life the way children live. A party isn't a party with out balloons. And if you know me, you know the red balloon within this design signifies my own son living his party as well. Shining bright upon me and my family. I also love the subtle beige background that mimics clouds in the sky, but also represents that beautiful mess life can be. Dare I say, this shoe is my most favorite? I see many kids wearing this shoe and living their party!


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Poppyseed

This design in one word is 'childhood'. It is all over the place, with overlapping colors and scattered dots it screams that disaster childhood can be at times. Though the print overall has a gorgeous quality and weaves within it that feeling we as parents get when we look deep into our child's eyes. That warm love mixed with overwhelming awe. This design takes you by surprise but doesn't back down until you fold and say "yes". It was the best way I could emulate my children within a design. Beautiful. Bright. Messy. Poppyseed is an artistic approach in describing childhood.

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Celebrating You - My Birthday Journal

It is finally time to share with you all my third and final memory journal! This memory journal is dedicated to capturing your child's birthday each year and the traditions + events centered around that special time. 'Celebrating You - A Birthday Journal' is evergreen, meaning parents can pick it up at any age their child may be and use it every year or even skip a few to only capture the major birthday milestones. This memory journal is full of pages where parents can write down special things about their child as they turn a year older, pages for photos, your child's famous quotes and party/event specifics. My personal favorite pages are the interview style questions various family members are to ask your child and fill in the blanks. I though that was such a special idea. I can't wait for my grandpa (Mila's great-grandpa) to "interview" her and write down her answers in his own handwriting. I think that will be such a treasure. 

Birthdays in our family are celebrated quite loudly. The sounds of our celebrations stifle the bittersweet sadness I tend to feel as I watch my children grow older right before my eyes. It is a tender time as our children learn and morph into these incredible human beings. As a mother, I try hard to hold on to these fleeting moments; writing down moments, savoring photos,and memorable quotes to satisfy my need to keep my babies, babies. My hope is that this journal can act as a tool to help parents interview their children, record celebrations, capture their ever-changing handprints and have family members write doting letters to be read in the future. This journal is a beautiful time capsule for parents to help capture all those special moments. 

In our family, we're privy to costume parties and Disneyland trips. We eat cake topped with ice crem and follow the lead of our children. Every year we have a special breakfast full of our child's favorite this to eat. Once year all we ate were vanilla frosted scones because out son Ryan insisted. Our daughter, Mila, only wants Mickey waffles with nothing but powdered sugar. We've dressed as pirates, circus performers and Trolls. I look forward to sharing all this with my children when they are older (and I'll secretly be looking through it whenever I feel a hankering for those moments when "my children were little," as mothers sometimes crave). 

My hope is that parents everywhere use my memory journal to capture their child year to year and they celebrate their life. You can learn more about my newest memory journal HERE or the shop link down below. 

Motherhood is a journey worth capturing in every way. 

Photos by Lily Ro Photography 

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Mila Turns 2 At Her Trolls Party

Well, I will be honest with you. When my daughter showed interest in the Trolls movie we all got pretty excited. Simply because the movie is just too darn cute and the message really hits home as choosing to be ‘happy’ is something Dan and I strive for on a daily basis. With that said, if you haven’t seen the movie you must! At the risk of getting to deep over a kids movie, every scene carries with it some emotional weight that really promotes the idea that happiness is found within. Which I couldn't agree with more. 

Quickly Mila became Poppy obsessed and the Trolls made their way into into the music we listened to in the car, Mila’s book collection, toy collection and so on. Like most obsessions, it snowballed until the entire household knew all the words to all the songs and honestly we were all pretty happy with it all. When starting to plan Mila’s 2nd birthday it was a no brainer her party would be Trolls themed. It also dawned on me that while having a Trolls party would be great, having a Trolls costume party would be greater! And like most kid birthday parties, things snowballed until I found myself covered in glitter hanging tiny Trolls in a tree and making sure there were enough twinkling lights for the tables. 

Birthdays in our family are celebrated at large and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except Mila’s birthday falls during an already jam packed week (Christmas), so by the end of it all I’m left breathless and so tired my eye balls hurt. But we do it all and we do it all to the best of our ability because our child’s smiles are worth it. Right? Though, Dan did say “Next year lets go on a trip and celebrate small” to which I said “Sure!” … but between you and I, come next December I doubt thats what we’ll do. I can’t help myself and as Mila gets older she’ll have more say and remember more and more. I have this obsession with wanting to make her party dreams come true. Which I know I won't be able to once she is older. At some point she’ll want a fancy dinner party with friends and her parents far, far away. So, if Mila asks for Poppy and pink donuts I’m going to deliver big time! 

Setting the party aside, I truly can’t believe Mila is two! I honestly don’t know how fast time goes by with out me really knowing it. It is wild to look back just a few months back and see so much growth. I know I say it all the time but the best way to describe the feeling I get when reflecting on my kids growing up is, bittersweet. Bitter because it brings on a bit of tears to look back at the sweet baby days. Sweet because it is such a privilege to have a hand in helping this tiny person grow up into the incredible human being she is destined to be. Time goes by fast, but we sure are making the most of it all. 

Here are a few photos from our night celebrating Mila turning two! 

You can see her 1st birthday party here

All photos by Lily Ro Photography

Special Thanks To - Jesi Haack Design for creating the cute backdrop, DIY Troll hair headbands and for being all around incredible + beyond helpful. Guelaguetza for having us two years in a row, we adore the food at this restaurant in Los Angeles and the space is the best!

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A Quick Self-Care Tip

A topic I have been addressing all year is self-care/taking time for myself. It isn’t something that comes easy for me. In fact, last year shortly after Mila was born I found myself knee deep in all things baby and “mom-life”. Which isn’t terrible, until it consumes you and becomes the only thing on your plate. I devoted my entire self to my baby and things like my marriage, my health, my friends and most importantly my mood all suffered greatly. Rest assured the baby was perfection, but I on the other hand was a hot mess. So, after Mila’s 1st birthday I decided to take a step in the direction of self-care. Doing this meant that I had to let go of the baby and trust she’d be OK in someone else's hands. Which for me (and maybe most other moms) is really hard to do. I don’t know, maybe I feel a little more over protective given the fact that I’ve lost my three old son and life just seems all to fragile now. Though I know, a mother’s heart is one fierce machine and for a mama bird it can be hard to leave the nest. Of course, leaving Mila with my husband was fine but the truth was, I didn’t want to leave. Anyways, long story short, in order to better myself and become a better mother I needed to start leaving and taking time for myself. 

I started off slow and to be honest going out for ‘Girls Night’ or ‘Date Night’ with my husband are few and far between. Maybe once a month my girls and I can plan a get together. ‘Date Night’, well we need to be better at planning those more often. But I started to find other ways to take time for myself and also reconnect with my husband while staying at home. I think also I’ve learned, I am a total homebody. Over this past year I’ve learned how to recreate things I love all in the comfort of my own home which has been helpful. We’ve also sleep trained Mila and her bedtime is 7:30pm every night. Once she is asleep I take about 30-45 minutes to myself, which has helped me tremendously in the self-care department. 

My husband knows as soon as Mila goes down for bed I retreat to our bathroom and wash my face, put a face mask on, read, eat some ice cream or write. I do whatever I want and it has become MY time to reflect on the day/week. No one is talking to me, asking me to do anything, clean anything. I look forward to this time of day now and it is like my tiny reward. A couple months ago Breyers reached out in hopes of working together to promote their newest ice cream Breyers Delights. I honestly couldn’t say “Yes” fast enough because during my evening self-care routine I’d almost always indulge in some ice cream. I thought it would be so fun to tie in Breyers Delights and create some fun content to share. I also am pretty passionate now about taking time for myself so adding in ice cream and sharing how I reward myself after a long day made sense. We’ve actually come to love Breyers Delights (the Cookies & Cream flavor is my favorite) and the fact that the pints have between 260-330 calories is a bonus! My husband also loves that the Breyers Delights has 20 grams of protein. We enjoy a serving in the evening either together on the couch or I’ll sneak mine in when wearing my face mask.

The most important thing here is that self-care starts with you making the decision to do good FOR you. So often we as moms are pulled in a million directions, doing things for others. Taking care of our children, making sure our partners have what they need. It comes easy to do good for others and for some reason it feels hard sometimes to do things for us. I get that mom-guilt heavy sometimes but I’ve learned to push it aside as hard as that is. I’ve also learned that taking time for your self doesn't have to be going out to the spa or regular ‘Girls Night Out’. Find a time during that day to do something indulgent at home. It could even be an afternoon coffee and a few chapters read from your book. It was skin-care and ice cream for me, that reinstalled my faith in myself as simple as that sounds! Start today and do something nice for yourself. 

Thank you to Breyers Delights for sponsoring this blog post.

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How Running 13.1 Miles Truly Feels

Well, as I sit here trying to think of words to re-cap last weekend my brain gets a bit lost. Last weekend, if you missed my posts on Instagram, I ran a 1/2 marathon and I lived to tell the tale! To be transparent I’ve been training for this beast for just a few short months and I never really felt nervous about the run until I hit mile 7. I was in good spirits and felt positive. Plus, I ran the Run Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon! It was my first trip to Walt Disney World! I was just beside myself the entire time, crying at every turn when I saw something new. I could feel my body tense up with excitement walking down the Magic Kingdoms Main Street and seeing the Animal Kingdoms Tree of Life. It all was so overwhelmingly awesome. I’d have to say the only thing that was awful was not having my children with me to experience it. However, we are already planning a trip back with Mila in tow. I can not wait!!

Running never used to be my thing, as much as I wanted it to be. I had always tried to get to that point of “needing” to go for a run. I thrive more so on group exercise classes like spin or dance and I love weight training with my husband (who is a personal trainer). I’ve run 5k’s before but never any more miles than that. Though when the option of running a 1/2 marathon presented itself I jumped at the chance, mostly to see if I could really do it. Turns out I can, not to entirely well, but I finished the race! Ever since arriving back home I’ve been hell bent on running another and decreasing my race time. So, the addiction has started so to speak and though I can’t wrap my head around it much … I guess you could say I am a runner. But if you told that to me just even 6 months ago I would have laughed and said “No Way!”

The truth is running is mostly mental, as in all in your head. Yes conditioning, endurance etc. all matter. But it really comes down to how strong you are in your head. Those positive thoughts really do work. It is hard for me to think of anything more inspiring than my own children when I run. I like to think of them right beside me, I imagine the wind blowing through Ryan’s red curls and Mila’s crinkle nose smile. I know it might sound weird, but that is what does it for me. I know people must think of the most random of things while running. My friend Jenna told me during the race when I was starting to fade, “Dedicate each mile to someone or something.” That was especially inspiring because then I started to run for things like my marriage, my own personal motherhood, my family as a whole, those thoughts kept me moving forward. Running for things that mean the world to me and drawing strength from them helped immensely. It also made me cry through out the race. Which, I think I might have been the only one bawling during the race? Who knows.

The one thing that was the most difficult was trying hard to think/push past the pain. Come mile 7 (mile 7 was hell) my knees started to ache and the pain only got worse as the race went on. I had to stop and walk a few times which embarrassed me at first, but I came to piece with it. I think at some point you really have to listen to your body, though running is mental there is pain that can’t be ignored. My knees were pretty much shot after the race. I had to ice for three days after race day and they still feel a bit sore. I learned about IT Bands and how running too many miles can cause them pain haha! My husband says I need to do more squats and other exercises to strengthen my knees. So, I’ll be working on that and training more efficiently moving forward. I also know so many of you mentioned to get fitted for running shoes, which I’m kicking myself for never doing. You live and you learn. Or you run 13.1 miles and learn.

I will say the best part of the whole trip was crossing that finish line and holy crap did I cry! I wasn’t even looking at Dan, I had my eyes fixed on the lady who was putting the medals onto people. I immediately had a flood of emotions and the second she put that medal around my neck I gave her a giant hug and cried on her shoulder. Then I found Dan and kept crying. People were asking me if I needed water, a banana, Dan was trying to take my photo. I was a hot mess, numb with excitement and pride.

To recap - The weekend at Walt Disney World was insanely awesome. The 1/2 marathon was incredibly hard, but also the most rewarding thing. I’ll definitely be doing it again and I’m excited to continue to train for a better race time. I couldn’t have gotten through it with out my children and husband. For they are ones who have built me into the person I am and give me the strength daily to achieve my goals. Thank you SO much for following along on Instagram and for all your well wishes before and after the race! You guys are the best and I look forward to sharing with you my next race!

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 Here I am crossing the finish line. I honestly can't tell you why I was so emotional. Maybe because I actually finished? Maybe because of how badly my knees hurt? Maybe it was the thought of my children and missing them so badly, wishing I could have seen them both there at the finish line? Maybe I'm just an emotional mess? ;)

Here I am crossing the finish line. I honestly can't tell you why I was so emotional. Maybe because I actually finished? Maybe because of how badly my knees hurt? Maybe it was the thought of my children and missing them so badly, wishing I could have seen them both there at the finish line? Maybe I'm just an emotional mess? ;)

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 Dan posted this to his Instagram stories and I thought it was so funny! My eyes are so happy and SOOO tired. I'm in so much pain here, and yet so damn happy!

Dan posted this to his Instagram stories and I thought it was so funny! My eyes are so happy and SOOO tired. I'm in so much pain here, and yet so damn happy!