Monday, August 31, 2015

Scaling Back

Bryan and I took the time to tackle a project that made a huge difference in our living room. Most of you guys know about our library wall (which I still love), but it has started looking really chaotic. Shepherd's toys had gotten out of hand and it needed to be dealt with.

That said, Shepherd doesn't have "a lot" of toys. By that, I mean that Shepherd has less toys than most kids his age, at least that I've seen. We keep things very minimal, because it just gets out of hand so fast. I'm fully aware that there are so many kids out there that don't have what Shepherd has and that the following pictures show a lot of toys, but we try really hard to keep him from being toy crazy. We almost never buy him a new toy, unless it's a holiday or birthday, and even then it's minimal. We want him to appreciate the toys he has and take care of them.

Even with our minimalist approach, we became overwhelmed. Despite our best attempts at "minimal" the toys were getting hard to contain. Twenty-five cent (who am I kidding - those little toy dispensers are a buck now-a-days) toys here and there reeeeeaaaally add up. Bryan and I dumped all of the toys out of the various bins and cleaned things out. We organized what we kept, started a pile for Grandma's house and a pile with items to donate. Here is where we started:

And here is where we ended:

Huge difference, in my opinion, even with the crap lighting in the second photo. I forgot to snap one when there was still daylight. My bad!

We moved the books to the other side and repurposed some canvas totes to hold small toys. One holds vehicles and one holds musical instruments. It looks and feels so good to have it cleaned up, especially with our girl on the way. One of the round baskets is full of baby toys, which I didn't go through. I need to sort through and see what we are keeping, what needs to be washed/cleaned and what needs to be donated.

We also went through Shepherd's room and cleaned things up. He and the baby will share a room so we need to get started on integrating some girly-ness in his room. :) De-cluttering it didn't take long at all because besides a few well-loved books that we read at night and some stuffed animals, all of the toys are in the library. Most of what we dealt with were boy clothes and other various baby things that can go into storage until we are out of the newborn phase. His mostly empty closet is every more empty because we moved all the baby towels and blankets into one of the deep set Ikea drawers. It looks way better in there.

Anyways, Shepherd was taking a nap for most of the project but he woke up and helped me pack the toys to be donated. I'm not sure he fully understands that they are going to be gone forever, but he's got plenty to keep him occupied. He didn't seem to notice that a lot of toys were gone (fancy that!) and I'm patting myself on the back for a job well done! Yay for Bryan and I working together!

This is proof that we are slowing transitioning to real adults. ;)

Now I need to clean up the rest of the library. Most of the picture frames in there have the stock images from when they were purchased and the fourth shelf down from the top right side is filled with junk. Like our taxes from last year and such. It became a dumping ground for all things lost. It's looking pretty shabby! I'll add that to my list this week.

Hope you had a fabulous weekend!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Holding Pattern

I'm in such a weird phase right now. I always thought that when I finished the USC course that I would start making moves to become a CBO. You know, really start my career. 

Finding out I was pregnant in the home stretch of the program was really a blessing. I was extremely happy and totally overwhelmed. But at the same time, I knew that after my program ended, I would be in a holding pattern. I wouldn't be able to get a job as a CBO because no one wants to hire a pregnant woman. 

Yeah, I know. No one would outright tell me the reason I didn't get chosen was because I was pregnant. But it doesn't matter. It is rare for someone to hire a person that will go on leave for a few weeks/months a short time after being hired. It's just the way it is. 

It's the struggle that career women face. I'm sure there are plenty of women out there that have hidden pregnancies to keep their jobs or even get hired for one, desperately wanting to provide a better life for their coming child and growing family. 

I am lucky I have a good job with good insurance for my family. That doesn't stop me from wanting to grow in my career. I wanted to move up and right now I feel stuck. I'm unsure of my future and I feel like nothing can happen until the baby is born. I'm not sure if I'll get where I want to go at my current job, even though that would be my ideal. 

I am anxiously awaiting the birth of this sweet baby girl, for many reasons. It's unfortunate that one of those reasons has to be the ability to start making some headway in my career. I've been an Account Technician for over seven years and I'm ready to see growth. I've been trying to remind myself that timing is important and God has me in this season for a reason. I'm so blessed with an amazing direct supervisor. She makes it known she believes in me and is doing her best in limited time to train me. 

I'm not so good with being patient, but I'm trying to throw all that energy into keeping myself healthy and on track so that I have the best shot at a normal birth. There are daily moments where I remind myself that a time will come and I'll be able to see sequence of events that led me right where I needed to be. It's just hard to be in the middle of it, right now. 

This discouragement has seeped into other areas in my life. I've been shopping more which is a telltale sign of my inner unrest. (It's a really, really bad habit. I've been totally blocked on this blog. Walking around the house restless and being super bummed at work. It's a slump. I know it'll get better. But it sucks so hard right now. 

I know this post is disjointed. I'm still processing. I feel a lot of conflicting emotions. One moment I'm sad, the next angry, the next disappointed. 

Sue me, I'm pregnant.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Smart Family Planning

No, this post is not about birth control. Today, we're talking about our family planner.

Ya'll know that I've been using the Plum Paper Designs Family Planner to keep track of our family affairs. I've reviewed my first one here and I'm a huge fan. That said, I only recently had my world opened up to the vast (and expensive) world of adding washi tape, stickers and stamps to make the planner become more than just a planner. It becomes almost like a planner and scrapbook hybrid - a way to really track life happenings and stay on top of all things Vickers.

I use a combination of stickers from Etsy, Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  It track my hydration, vitamins, blog posts, and the various lists. There are many people that go way overboard (in my opinion) to the point where the planner doesn't look functional, but that is all about preference. I ain't about that life. My planner needs to be a balance between creative and functional and it needs to lean heavily towards functional. But who said functional can't be colorful and pretty? :)

August 24-30, 2015

For us, the planner is essential to our lives, tracking bills, income, gigs, appointments, etc. Utilizing the planner has helped me stay on track of my life in a way that I haven't before. It's almost made a chore a hobby! Bryan and pretty much everyone thinks I'm crazy, but for someone that has such a hard time staying on top of life - this has actually curbed my stress. I know everything, I write down what needs to be done and it makes me more accountable in getting things done. After the week is over, I will often go back and fill in the week with little anecdotes - funny/stressful things that have happened, hilarious things Shepherd has said. It becomes a real time capsule of our lives.  

August 17-23, 2015

It's crazy to me that I hadn't even known about these options and I've had a planner for over a year and a half! I've been enjoying the creative outlet just as much as I've enjoyed the benefits of being organized.

Be careful though, I got pulled into a bad habit of purchasing stickers and ended up blowing our budget. In my quest to get on top of things I made bad habits. The stickers can be expensive especially the ones you use on a daily basis, like vitamins and hydrate. If you are looking to start using stickers, utilize the free options on Pinterest, make your own and shop the sales!

For a brief moment and with the best of intentions, I lost sight that this planner is supposed to make our lives more efficient - not to be a drain on our finances! I'm back on track now and I'll have a post soon with ways to save while almost making the most of your planner. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 2015 Ipsy Glam Bag Review + Value

I completely forgot to schedule this when I delayed it and so there it sat, un-posted. I didn't even think to check. Blogger fail!

Are you ready for another Ipsy Glam Bag review?! I feel like I haven't done one of these in such a long time. You know I've been a long-time subscriber of this beauty service and I still love it. Sure, some months are better than others but for $10 (plus tax) it can't be beat!

Let's get started:

Product: Marc Anthony - Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Oil Treatment -
Price: $7.99 - Full size is 4.05 oz
Value: $.13 (Sample is .07 fl oz)

Review: I'll tell you straight up that I used this one whole time and I'll be giving it away to someone else. The smell is ridiculously overpowering and its manly which typically I'm fine with but jeez. It needs to go to someone where it won't trigger migraines! I also didn't notice my hair being any softer the next day (which is how I used it).

Product: La Fresh Group Good Night. Night Cream
Price: $40.00 - Full size $40.00 is 1.7oz
Value: $11.76 (Sample is 0.5oz)

Review: I've used this three times and while the smell initially is a bit unpleasant it dissipates pretty quickly. I liked the way my skin felt in the morning and I didn't feel like I woke up super oily! I like it, but I don't think I've seen enough to actually be really excited and go out and purchase it. I'm going to keep using it and see if I can tell a difference!

Product: Skone Cosmetics Luxe Doubler Eye/Lip Pencil in Wine - Full Size
Price: $12.00
Value: $12.00

Review: Other than their website being absolutely ridiculous (maybe they weren't prepared for the Ipsy traffic?) this is a nice LIP PENCIL. I say that extremely specifically because I tried to use this on my eyes today and I immediately covered it up with black. This is not a wine color, its pink. I'm dead serious. It comes out PINK. It's a pretty, deep pink, but pink nonetheless. I did an ombre lip with the lipstick sample I received in this bag: 

Product: noyah Natural Lipstick in Desert Rose
Price: $18.00 - Full Size is 4.5g
Value: $5.60 (Sample is 1.4g)

Review: I've had this before in a deep burgandy color and it was okay. I find this pink to be way more wearable. I layered it over the pencil to create an ombre effect on the lips, which I think was really cute! Unfortunately this is the only picture I got of it, but it gives you an idea. Sorry for the wacky lighting! This is a nice lipstick, but I find that it leaves your lips REALLY FAST, so touch ups are frequent, but it's pretty! I'm not sure it's $18.00 pretty but it's pretty.

Product: Doll 10 Beauty HydraGel Blush in Flirt
Price: Full Size is $16.00
Value: $16.00 (Sample is Full Size)

Review: I used this cream blush on the same day that I did the ombre lip. I really liked it! It was very pigmented but blended out well. I set it with a Laura Gellar blush and it lasted all day! Unfortunately, the lighting at work really washes me out and I snapped the one below at the end of the workday. I'm sorry I didn't make a point to take a better picture!! (Also, by then I had switched to Maybellines Matte lipstick in Daringly Nude). Trust me when I say my cheeks looked healthy all day. In all honestly blush doesn't stay on me usually, but this cream blush really made it last. I was so happy about it! I'll definitely keep an eye on this brand for sales, because $16.00 is just a tad too pricey for makeup. I also want to use it more to make sure that it doesn't cause any skin issues. So far, so good!

The big question: what was the value of the bag! This month it was actually a great value of $45.49. Especially when you consider that I only pay $10.75 a month to get new beauty products! That means that I got $34.74 in free product this month and I actually like most of the products! I still think that Ipsy is hands down one of the best beauty subscriptions out there and I recommend it all time! If you haven't signed up yet, I have great news! There is no waiting list if you sign up right now. If you are ready to dive in, will you use my referral link? I receive points that I can use toward product and I would so appreciate it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Have We Forgotten?

I had planned to put up my Ipsy August 2015 review today but something else popped in my head so I'm delaying that until Friday.

Last night, my sister chopped my hair off and I began speaking with someone I deeply respect about SB277, the bill that withdraws the personal belief and religious exemptions from those who carefully select or decline their childrens vaccinations. There are a whole host of legitimate reasons why parents would decide to delay or decline vaccinations but this isn't what the post was about.

Today, I listened to this man that I have a deep respect for tell me that there is no use in fighting the bill. It won't get overturned and the whole effort is useless.

It sure feels that way some times, but the moment that we stop fighting the system is the moment that we lose what makes America great. The moment that we allow others, a large and loud majority, to dictate what we do, when we do it, what we buy, when we buy it, we have lost all sense of personal freedom.

The moment that we stop making medical decisions based on the individual, we have lost our sense of self.

Many of you know that I am a Christian and what ran through my head today as I was being told that I needed to just accept that Shepherd, my future little girl and many other kids that I love so stinking much don't deserve an education because we refuse to be forced into injecting pharmaceutical drugs that have real side effects and no liability or oversight into our children was the story of David and Goliath.

David had no business fighting Goliath.

The odds were against him.

Everyone thought he would fail.

But one stone, combined with faith and righteousness brought down the giant.

For those of you fighting a battle, whether it's political or personal, remember this. One stone. Just one.

One stone made all the difference.

So can you.

So can I.

Don't forget and don't give up.

When you fight for what is right, when you fight for what is noble, when you fight for the freedom to end the persecution of people that believe differently than you or end oppression that directly impacts you, that is when you win.

That is when you throw a stone and the giant falls.

Do not give in. Do not give up.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Moments I'll Miss

I'm exhausted. I adulted so hard this weekend that I cannot even fathom having to work five whole days before getting a rest day. Which, Bryan has to play at a leadership conference at church so Saturday I'll be solo parenting. So less of a rest day than if it was two against one. 

However, I am keenly aware of the fact that my one on one time with Shepherd will be at an end shortly. There will be moments where it's just me and him and it seems that time just stands still. It's just us, and its so bittersweet because soon it won't be just us. Soon we'll have a baby girl with us and we'll create amazing moments, the three of us. But it'll be different. And I so like how it is right now. 

I've been making a point to take Shepherd on a walk around the neighborhood in the evenings when Bryan is gigging. I mostly reserve walks for the nights that aren't ridiculously hot and we enjoy them so much. We stop at my mom and Larry's house which is just five houses down from ours, which Shepherd is always in a hurry to do. There is a bit of a lull on the second part of the walk, where Shepherd needs a little encouragement to keep going. We often race or jump our way through it. We always look at the neighbors tomato plants and he always asks why some are green and some are red. 

Once we get to the third part of our walk, Shepherd starts to get really excited - he knows that the purple flowers are up ahead and that means his friends will be showing up! 

Shepherd points out the purple flowers, bends to sniff them and then sits and waits. Oh look! In the distance. The first cat. A sweet Siamese cat that adores my boy as much as he does her (or him??)! 

Soon after the Siamese cat arrives, so does the neighborhood black cat. This one is a little more skittish, so sudden movements will make it run, but it'll also chase after you if you have not fulfilled your petting quota. He also likes to walk right in between your legs and then nudge your hand for more pets. He's scared of Shepherd mostly, but will let him get close and pet him if Shepherd moves slowly and quietly, which he tries hard to do (but mostly fails).

This little one is new to the crew! We hadn't met her before but she was very cautious around us. She'd led us pet her for a few moments and then run and hide. Then she'd run back for more loves, only to run and hide again. Finally Shepherd had enough and followed her to her hiding spot of choice. 

He went behind the bush at first, which made her come out, then she let him pet her. The entire time he repeated, "Okay, tiny kitty. It's okay." So precious.

We then walk the rest of the way home. Shepherd looks back a lot to see how long his feline friends will follow and sometimes I take pictures of the sunset. 

These moments are just ours and the fill my heart. I know that taking the two kiddos for walks will be a new heart-warming adventure and seeing them experience life together will take it all to another level, but for now, I'm soaking this up. 

These are moments I'll miss. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oregon Vacation (Pt 2)

Knowing what I know now, we definitely would have structured our trip differently and we would have made a point to stay in Portland. Don't get me wrong, we LOVED staying in Vancouver, really, but I think we missed out on a lot of "city" action. 

However, we have a toddler. And I think choosing to stay at the house where we did and in the area we did was perfect for him and it's his vacation too. We found the house we stayed at on AirBNB. It was my first time utilizing that service and it was wonderful. Our host was absolutely amazing. He even made a point to go to one of Bryan's shows! It was really, really great. There was a park across the street that Shepherd got to play in! I had no idea Washington was in a drought also, so it was a bummer that the grass was dead. I totally understand, but Shepherd hasn't ran in thick, lush green grass in a really long time. It's really kind of sad.

We took one day to just hang around the house and not do much of anything. We went grocery shopping to stock up on some food and we all took naps. With the sheer amount of travel, I think it was necessary. Shepherd was soooo done with the interruptions to his schedule - and he's not even crazy scheduled like some kids! The next day, we hit up some sites. We went to Vista House, which is a tourist place that has great views of the Columbia River. It's free and you can do on the deck to take pictures and just soak up the incredible view!

Then we hit up a few waterfalls. We decided to actually get out and hike at Bridal Veil Falls, which wasn't too hard, but I definitely had to take some breaks. I wish we had things like this here in Hanford, I would definitely rather go hiking than be on a treadmill for 40 thousand hours. 

The hike didn't have a steep incline but it definitely made you feel the burn. I wasn't sore the next day at all though so that shows you that even someone severely out of shape can handle it. Probably. 

We ended the day by finding river access. Shepherd had a great time playing in the water and Mackenzie and Bryan said it felt good. I enjoyed just sitting in the sand and watching my sweet boy explore. I could watch him all day. Seriously.

The next morning we got up bright and early, had breakfast and went straight to the heart of Portland. I had been told to definitely hit up Voodoo Doughnut so we got in line, picked out our doughnuts and sat down to enjoy! 

I decided to get Shepherd his own doughnut (which is not my usual MO) but I thought the signature Voodoo Doughnut (each one is uniquely decorated) would be perfect for my little man. He was OBSESSED. Just downright giddy. It was precious. We didn't let him eat it all, but the bottom portion, from about the pretzel stick down, was filled with raspberry jelly. We basically let him eat most of the top half with Bryan and I both taking bites to "share" it. I don't think he felt gypped. 

Our AirBNB host gave us free passes to check out the Chinese Gardens, which really was pretty. We were thankful that we didn't have to pay to get in because there wasn't that much to see, but it was still extremely beautiful. There were even people having a yoga class right by the pond which I thought was amazing. It was peaceful so I bet yoga feels very therapeutic there. 

We ended the day getting Salt & Straw ice cream! I have more pictures on my big camera so I'll post those soon!

We had such a great time on vacation and it was great to have a last blast before our baby girl comes. Other than maybe a day here to two, I'll be saving all of my vacation time to utilize for maternity leave, so this really was it! I'm so happy we checked out the Oregon area and even happier just to have had a vacation. It's been a crazy year and we desperately needed it! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Oregon Vacation (Part 1)

The day after we hosted our gender reveal, we left on a road trip to Oregon. Bryan had a couple of gigs booked and we had some friends we wanted to see on the way up, so off we went!

We ended up asking Bryan's sister Mackenzie to come with us to provide extra help with Shepherd on the road and to maybe even let us sneak in a date night. It was great to spend the time together. She's a junior this year and this was probably our last chance to spend such a chunk of time with her! 

There was lots of driving and downtime, but I definitely wanted to hit up a couple of tourist spots. One place we went while we had a full day in Brookings was Natural Bridges.

We didn't hike down because we had Shepherd and it wasn't suitable for him. It was still a beautiful view and right after, we went to the river! It was crazy that Brookings has mountains all around it, but the beach right across the street. One moment we are at the ocean, the next in town, the next in the mountains with waterfalls all over. Bryan, Mackenzie and Shepherd had a great time hanging out in the river and since it was hot, it felt amazing!

After the river we went took a quick stop at a waterfall, where Mackenzie hiked a little. 

After a full day of sightseeing and spending time with friends we ended the night at a beautiful, warm beach that was in a cove, so it was protected from the cold wind. 

It was wonderful first leg of the trip. A large part of our vacation was being on the road, but we made sure to get lots of rest and even explored Portland, which was wonderful. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Our Second Baby is a....


Don't let the blue topper fool you! The inside was PINK!

Can you believe it? I still can't!

The whole story of finding out the gender was a tad dramatic.

On Thursday night, I confirmed how many cupcakes I needed with the baker and the various details of the transaction. We were set!

First thing Friday morning, she text me that she had a family emergency and wouldn't be able to bake them for me. I completely understood but at the same time I was panicked! I was supposed to host 30+ people at my house the following morning and who could I possibly get to bake an order on such late notice?

She ended up connecting me with her aunt, who lives in Tulare and is actually my uncles (on my moms side) sister! We made plans to meet up after my appointment in Visalia (pretty much halfway for both of us) and it was done! Whew. Crisis averted.

I work a normal day and at the right time I started drinking LOTS of water. If you've been pregnant and had an ultrasound you know how incredibly uncomfortable it is! There was already a lot of stress on the appointment because Bryan had a gig just past Fresno and he'd have to leave early. I got to Hanford Imaging and they told me there would be a delay which meant Bryan was going to miss the entire appointment.

When that came to light, I was really upset. I couldn't believe that he would have to leave the appointment early let alone miss it entirely. He sat with me in the waiting room and I asked my sisters to come be with me. I was feeling fairly emotional about it all but was handling it fine. I went to grab my phone out of my purse (and I still had the large bottle of water that was almost finished) when I almost dropped the phone AND the water! I ended up doing this weird seizure-like move to catch them both but not before water from the open bottle splashed all over Bryan completely soaking his white shirt and leaving a large wet spot on his jeans.

That was the moment that I started to do the hysterical embarrassed laugh/cry thing in the completely packed waiting room. Maybe you aren't familiar with it but unfortunately, I am.


By the time my sisters arrive, I've pulled myself together and Bryan is ready to leave. He was already ten minutes past the time he was supposed to leave but he just knew that as soon as he walked out the door, they would call my name. Sure enough, it happened.

You'd think that the appointment/day couldn't get any worse but you'd be wrong!

I get in the room and the technician apologizes for the wait and I played it off but said I was bummed that the delay made my husband miss the appointment. My sisters say they are going to take pictures and a little video to show him and the tech says she can't allow that due to HIPPA. This I'll never understand because I am the one consenting to the photo and video being done so I can show my husband. How is that a violation if I've allowed it. Ugh! I gave my sisters a look and they nodded, totally prepared to take pictures for me. Yay for sisters!!

We start and I get to see the baby, but I'm so upset by the whole ordeal that its hard to get into the appointment. Also, she doesn't move the screen so that I can even see anything which was frustrating Then she tells me that I won't get any print-outs of the baby because THEY ARE OUT OF FILM.

Uhhhhhhh.....what? I can't tell you what cuss words were flowing through my head but I can tell you there were many and they were colorful. Unless there is a reason, this is my ONE AND ONLY ultrasound and I have nothing except unlawful photos to show for it. Nice.

Then she says I am measuring smaller than my due date and she doesn't think she'll be able to tell the gender. I track everything regarding my period and our sexy time (Hi Mom!) and I was like, but the dates don't match up. She said I was measuring a little over 16 weeks and the first day of my last period had me at over 18 weeks. According to my memory (and app) there is no way I could be that far behind because there wasn't a tell-tale dot on the calendar indicating.....ya know.

AT MOST, I could only be a week behind. I explained that Shepherd always measured small and even if I had had him at term, he would have been a small baby. Bryan and I are small in the stature sense so I think it's all relative.

Anyways, I told her I hoped that it worked out because I was supposed to host a bunch of family the next day and she said she would definitely do her best. You could tell that she was flustered too so my sisters and I started trying to lighten the mood and laughing a bit, which worked wonders. She ended up letting us take a few clearer pictures that the sneaked ones to show Bryan. And obviously, she was able to see the gender. She stated (probably to cover herself) that she could see the gender but that "it seemed early, and its never 100%" so that didn't really help my confidence, but she confirmed with a tech-in-training who was there and they felt confident enough to write it down.

We end up leaving and I pick up Shepherd and my mom and we drive to Visalia to drop off the envelope. My Mom and Larry ended up being the stars of the show because they drove early the next morning to pick up the cupcakes, brought over their coffee pot and creamers and coffee and basically saved my life. My mom even ended up staying with me Friday night to help me clean up and set up for the next morning. Big, huge, wet kiss shout out to them for all their help.

Friday came to an end (good riddance) and the next morning, surrounded by our family and friends, we found out that we are having a precious girl... probably. ;)

It all worked out in the end, as things usually do. I am still in shock that the little girl I have dreamed of, my little Lauriana, could really be coming into the world! It's unreal! I am so excited and other than extreme exhaustion, have felt really good. My hair is falling out like crazy and I'm dealing with acne for the first time ever, but all things considered, I'm doing very well and the baby is healthy!

That is all that truly matters.