An Open Letter..

Dear Mama,

You’ve spent weeks replaying over and over how you would write the introduction to this entry. Would it say, “yay! You’ve made it, you’ve conquered one year with Augustine”? Or would it be more sincere, like “wow, within all that doubt – you somehow managed 12 months of keeping him alive!” Better yet, would it be sugar coated, and fabricated to make others believe that love has persevered it all and suddenly it all just felt so natural to you? Well, it was none of those things and all of those things combined. I’m still scared, most times hourly, but most certainly daily on what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and who will see it. If Augustine will see it. Does he feel it? Can I feel what he feels? We are no longer one anymore, but yet two humans navigating life together. He is trusting me, and I am trusting him. His love is beyond anything you could’ve dreamed, and more than you’ll ever need. You are so blessed to call him your son.

Sincerely,

A Loving Mommy

I can almost breath the air that existed a year ago. That’s how vivid it is to me. I will spare you all of living through the first 6 to 8 weeks with me, but I will share the darkest and almost the most beautiful moment of my entire life. One night, who knows what hour because we were up nearly every hour, Augustine wouldn’t stop crying (hindsight I now know that the milk he was drinking was hurting his tummy). I picked him up out of his bassinet, and sat up to hold him. AJ came around to my side of the bed, there was nothing he could do, and I had no idea what to do. I was confident that THIS was the rest of my life. I sensed everything. My body that didn’t feel like my own. My emotions that I couldn’t control. And yet, I was made responsible for this little human. I felt like I failed them all. My husband was trying to be my side and I just was lost, completely lost. I laid my head on his chest with Augustine in my arms, and the sounds muffled. I cried. I had never been more scared in my life. AJ rubbed my shoulders, and in that split second, I felt the strongest love that ever existed between us, as a family. If I could bottle that emotion up, and keep it forever, I would. I still cry thinking about it.

Things changed quicker than I was prepared for. 6 short weeks later, AJ went back to work, and it was Augustine and I trying to figure it out together. God absolutely sat me in that space. I do my best thinking alone. I problem solve best when I’m alone. My best feelings, thoughts, emotions, are captured when I am alone. Augustine and I started a routine, but I was still exhausted and felt far from equipped to be a mother. It wasn’t that long before I went back to work. It made me so anxious to go back to work, but yet I was thrilled to be away from home. I just wanted to run. I missed my “old self”, I missed feeling “like myself”. While work provided some relief, so to speak, I still felt like I had a void – like I was missing something.

Things went from hard to what felt like impossible to me. Mid-December Augustine caught his first cold, and with that came a new sickness every other week (this is not an exaggeration). In combination with that, we had several visits to the doctors office with a lot of misdiagnosing of ear infections. Couple that with little to no sleep, a full time job, a frustrated wife, an exhausted and an overly worked husband – I was begging for the nightmare to be over. I say often to my intimate friends – that was the hardest time of my life. Truth be told, I think I wouldn’t have been able to get through that without some really close friends, and AJ, who were there to just listen to it all.

Somewhere around month 8, maybe a bit further on – I had this moment where I had an internal conversation with myself. Again, those moments where I am thinking to myself. Somewhere in that conversation I think I realized that I was struggling with letting go of what I was before Augustine, because I didn’t know how to be who I needed to be for Augustine. (Re-read that last sentence). I didn’t have a mom, she passed away when I was 11. I had no one to lean on, nor did I want to lean on anyone. I was angry that I had to do this on my own, or convinced myself that I was pretty alone on most days, and felt like everything was just “unfair”.

I had an epiphany. This was the void I felt. I was empty inside from trying to hold onto something that needed to be let go. And that’s exactly what I did, I let go.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t struggle with those same feelings at times. Although, things are SO much better now, and they feel so much more natural, lighter, easier. I can’t believe I have the opportunity to have a family. What a blessing. How unbelievable that I have been chosen to be a mother. That title seems larger than myself, actually for now – I think that title is bigger than me.

While this all may seem negative up until the first year, it really wasn’t. It was trying without a doubt, but something still felt beyond gratifying to know that I had purpose and love to give to someone; my own little person. I’m so thankful for Augustine.

I’m thankful at how hard he makes me want to work. How happy I want him to be. How happy he’s made his dad. How much love he’s brought into our life. How far he’s stretched me, and most importantly – how complete I am with him.

He is the definition of love.

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Summer with Saranghae: My Skin Care Love Story

It officially hit over 100 degrees here in So Cal today, and while I kept saying to myself over and over – that I was tired of winter, that heat was no joke! Needless to say, we are officially feeling like summer – and cold days are a thing of the past. One thing I can continuously say about California is that we fortunately get to experience every season, and now that it’s summer season, I am looking forward to all the shifts we can do in our schedule.

I finally feel like I’m in the swing of things, Augustine and I have a solid routine – and now that cold/flu season is behind us, I am getting a few days out of the week to workout (say what!?). While that journey is a post in it of itself, I can say that it has caused a trickle down effect on other things. So a few weeks back I posted about my 5 Step Skin Care Routine, and now I have to follow up nearly 30 days later with my new changes.

Warmer weather means a change in my skin. Specifically, my natural oils are in full effect – and a full on moisturizer can feel a bit heavy on my skin (even at night), so I’ve switched up my 5 Step Skin Routine, to now be Summer friendly, and handle the season change. Saranghae allows me to keep my skin care routine simple year around with minimal effort (mom win!)

Check out the Summer routine:

Monday through Friday: Facial Cleanser (morning & night) + Serum (once daily) + Firm and Lift moisturizer at night

  • This is enough moisturizer for my face daily, no other cream is needed.

Saturday/Sunday: Facial Cleanser (morning & night) + Serum (once daily) + Firm and Lift moisturizer at night

  • Pore Refining Charcoal Mask as needed once a week

The charcoal mask is a great addition to my weekly routine to help detox my face weekly. Since I am sweating more often, and definitely releasing more toxins – I like to keep my routine of a mask weekly. If you’re anything like me, anything charcoal that I’ve tried in the past really dehydrates my skin, it’s almost like it rips the moisture out of my skin. This mask is anything but that, the charcoal mask + 4 essential oils, leaves my face feeling so soft and tight – I LOVE this mask!

30 day update with the new Summer. Notice the picture on the right, I have no make up on – the picture isn’t retouched, and this is right after I washed my face. I have plenty of freckles, but not a single blemish.

You guys know I am loving my system! I haven’t had clear skin since prior to my pregnancy, and even then I struggled to maintain a face care that was clean and effective. My love story with Saranghae just keeps getting better!

Visit www.lovesaranghae.com to read all about their amazing products!

Dare to Summer with Crazy 8

I can’t believe it’s nearly summer, and I can’t even begin to think that it’s almost Augustine’s first birthday! How did that happen!? Last summer, we spent the majority of the days trying to figure out how to be parents, and taking care of our newborn. Wow. It is true, time has flown by. Well, 10 months later – here we are starting to plan summer activities and a birthday party! This year I’m teaming up with Crazy 8 to share my #DareToSummer adventures.

Prior to being parents, AJ and I loved to get out. I would spend the week looking up upcoming local events, and he would chime in with his two cents on where we should go or what we should try. Most of our weekends were spent near some sort of ocean. Being from Southern California, days are hot, and it is not practical to stay inside all day running the air! Our weekends would include turn around trips to Santa Barbara, weekend getaways to San Francisco, or a local festival to check out live music. And let me just say, I am so excited Augustine is a summer baby (almost ready to walk) and going to be our new buddy on our summer adventures.

This summer we are planning to head to the mountains for a little trip next to the lake! We also are planning on several beach days, and getting Augustine use to the water (AJ and I both love to swim)! We just bought his swim suit, and I can hardly believe that we will be taking him out in the sunshine to swim (considering last summer he was still baking). His swim suit is also from Crazy 8, unrelated to this post – you can check it out here. (Currently on sale for 50%!)

Crazy 8 has been one of my favorite stores for simple, clean, and bright looks for Augustine. They have bold and bright looks that are perfect for little boys. This summer, Augustine has the most fashionable and comfy look, that is great for our adventures! Bright and airey looks, that are comfy and great for him to move around in is a win-win in my book.

Check out his light-weight Volley Shorts and Stripe Tee! One of my huge hang ups when buying clothes for Augustine is the ability to mix and match. While I am a huge fan of basics (even for myself), I like him to wear fashion forward clothes, and look like he’s a handsome young boy. Is that hat not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!? My little guy is wearing a snap back – perfect for sun protection, and so so stylish.

This summer we look forward to trips to the beach, ice cream dates, and plenty of memories as a family of 3!

Crazy 8 has all the fashion you need to #DaretoSummer! Crazy 8’s summer collections are perfect for all your summer adventures – check out all of the new arrivals by visiting Crazy 8.

What are some of your summer traditions? How have you made adjustments as your family continues to grow?

Saranghae Means “I Love You”

Skin care has always been a struggle for me. I remember as early as my pre-teen days struggling with severe acne, so much so that I was prescribed medication to help with my acne. Fast forward over a decade later, I have gone through several points in my life where I am struggling to find the right facial care system that will help my breakouts.

Prior to my pregnancy, I was extremely active and sweat A LOT. My breakouts were often, and usually required monthly facials with blackhead extractions. Fast forward to my pregnancy, my face glowed for 9 months! I was warned that once Augustine was here, my hormones would change and my facial chemistry would be much different than it was before.

Sure enough, Augustine was here and my acne was equivalent to my teenage years. I had blackheads, and full blown breakouts throughout my entire face. Not only was I experiencing postpartum changes with my body, but my smooth face was covered in acne. Does that seem dramatic? Yes. Is it the truth? Absolutely. I was horrified at the idea of putting on makeup, but couldn’t leave the house without it.

At a moment that couldn’t have come more quickly, I was introduced to Saranghae. A 5-Step Routine skin care system. The day I received my package from Saranghae, my face has two large pimples and my skin was extremely dull. I started the system the same day. I vowed to give it 30 days to see how my face would react. Prior to sharing my results, let me break down the system for you

Saranghae means “I love you”Step 1: The nourishing moisturizing is formulated with truffle extract and gold, applying when your skin is dry, it helps lift oils before I use my Clarisonic!

Step 2: Deep Radiance Essence + Serum delivers nutrients, amino acids, and vitamins to the skin

Step 3: Regeneration Cream! Helping to firm and lift the skin (this is my favorite and the BEST!!)

Step 4: Focus Renewal Eye Cream- helping firm and brighten under eyes. The unique ingredients help significantly with my under eye dark circles.

Step 5: Elemental Essence Mask – infused with Hyaluronic Acid and Chamomile. Hands down the best, and most effective mask for hydration!

After using Saranghae’s 5 Step Routine for 30 days, I can’t say enough great things about how my skin has transformed. First, I will start with my the feel of my skin. Within 3 days, my skin was noticeably hydrated and soft. With naturally dry skin, I have bouts of eczema and dry patches that can occur on my face. The nourishing face wash and moisturizer, have left my skin feeling extremely soft and hydrated. Step 2 is where I believe I saw the most results from, the serum has left my face glowing and bright. After having a baby, it’s fair to say that the time I have to myself is extremely limited – therefore, I need something that will be easy and effective. Saranghae has been transformative of my skin, I can’t say enough how happy I am with the results!

(Day 35 on the left, Day 1 on the right – notice my forehead!)

Nearly 60 days later, I am happy to report that the skin care system has been nothing short of amazing. My skin has much more radiance than it has ever had. Currently, I have not one patch of dry skin – and my breakouts have drastically decreased. (Side note: I think it’s fair to say – and be honest, that skin care also has to do with diet and water intake, mixed with stressed, therefore my skin won’t always be perfect).

If you haven’t taken the opportunity yet to view their site, I encourage you to read their blog and testimonials HERE.

Thank you Saranghae for introducing me to the best skin care system yet.

About Saranghae

Saranghae is an award-winning Korean 5 Step Anti-Aging skin care routine that heals, regenerates and protects your skin. Saranghae’s focus on natural ingredients, highly effective products, and excellence in customer service has helped them become the fastest growing Korean skin care brand in the United States.

For more information please visit: www.lovesaranghae.com

Ashtonbee + Me

So – our house is far from baby proofed. Oops. I guess I thought, “you still have a lot of time before that’s a thing to worry about.” Well, Augustine got mobile, and everything is now a land mine or a disaster waiting to happen. While I am still working on baby proofing the house, we needed a solution that was going to be safe, effective, and fun for Augustine. I knew he needed a lot of space, and a place to be comfy – and most importantly, I needed to know he was SAFE.

While browsing Amazon, I came across Ashtonbee Baby Playpen, this playpen is everything and more! Ashtonbee is fun, interactive, encourages developmental skills, spacious and roomy!

When we get home on weekdays, or during our “downtime” (what is that anyway) on the weekends, we like to get stuff done around the house AKA clean the same things over and over. Since Augustine is mobile, and prefers to ONLY stand now, it was making it difficult to keep an eye out on him, while cleaning dishes in the kitchen. Think loud *thud* followed by crying. Insert mom sigh. With the Ashtonbee Playpen, we placed the Playpen in our living area, threw in all his favorite toys, and BOOM – he was good to go!

The worry was instantly eliminated, and he is seriously entertained for hours. My husband was actually weary when we got it, but as soon as we set it up, he said “this thing is AWESOME!”

(Don’t mind his drool shirt, little guy has teeth coming in!)

Speaking of my handyman, who literally has to put together everything in the house. The set up on the Ashtonbee is SO easy. It took under 10 minutes to put together, and is extremely sturdy. The cool part is, there are little suction cups at the bottom of each door to stick to floors (whether your home, or take the Playpen on the go) – another reassurance that Augustine won’t stand and push the whole thing forward.

Another neat thing is, if we ever move it in the house, want to make it bigger, smaller, another space – we have the option of doing that as well. The Playpen allows you to customize it to fit your home and space.

The best part of this Playpen is it’s functional and grows with him. If I am a fan of anything, it has to be an item that lasts longer than a few months. First, the actual playpen has little nooks that he has already learned to stick the balls through, which is encouraging his development skills. Also, there is a small basketball hoop, so when he does figure out how to throw or place things in it – he can utilize those parts of the Playpen.

Overall, I can’t say enough great things about our Playpen, it’s everything that a family needs to help keep your baby entertained and safe. Ashtonbee offers safety, security, and serenity for our house. I encourage you to check out their other products on Amazon, by searching “Ashtonbee”.

Thank you Ashtonbee for our Playpen, all opinions are solely mine!

DockATot + Sleep = Mom Bliss

(Yup. He really is asleep in that picture!)

Sleep. That’s what I planned my life around. For as long as I can remember, I never committed to an event, scheduled a college course, or stayed up late if it compromised my ability to get 8 hours of sleep. You can imagine that when I got pregnant, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and more importantly – I was confident my restful nights would be interrupted. I tried my best to read about baby sleep, and all these techniques of what to do (i.e. cry it out, rock them and place them down, E.A.S.Y method, etc..). Although, I come to the conclusion that Augustine was going to develop into his own pattern and we had to have some flexibility in that.

Fast forward a few months later when this little guy made his debut. Around month 4 or 5, we were loaned the DockATot Deluxe. Let me stop here – I was pretty against the idea of co-sleeeping. My husband is over 6ft and I am 5’11”, I feel like we fight for space now – much less adding a wild baby to the mix. Although, life happens – we both went back to work, and nights were turning LONG, very LONG. The DockATot Deluxe provided security and comfort for the 3 of us, and it was the perfect size to squeeze between my husband and I. Fast forward a few months later, Augustine was busting out of the Deluxe. We were ready to move into the DockATot Grand!

The DockATot Grand has been a game changer, it is all things multifunctional and comfortable. I feel much more comfortable knowing that no matter where we are, and what we’re doing – Augustine has a comfortable place to snuggle up and nap in.

To put it simply, here are 3 reasons you never knew you needed a DockATot!

1. Comfort and ease. The material and comfort of the Dock makes it easy for Augustine is get comfortable and cozy. Specifically, when Augustine needs to go down for a nap, I simply put him down and he rolls over on his side and he doses off. Yes. I put him down and he falls asleep on his own. I should make it clear that it took practice for us to get to this point, although, his Dock gives his comfort and he feels content. The added bonus is the Dock doesn’t harbor heat, and Augustine can breath easy no matter the weather.

2. Transportation friendly. For us, we’re constantly on the go. When Augustine was little, he fell asleep on almost anything, usually that was the couch of a friend/family members house. Welp! Now that he’s mobile, and far more aware, his naps are much more structured and sometimes difficult when we’re on the go. The DockATot Grand makes it easy, not only does he recognize his Dock, it carries his smell, and provides him comfort no matter where we are at! Not to mention that it comes with a carrier, and picks up easy for transport.

3. This Dock has gone through the trenches with him. To be honest, as we’ve been fighting cold/flu season, this Dock has been our best friend. The best part about it, the cover slips right off and is machine washable. That has hands down been the best part of this whole experience with our Dock. When Augustine is sick, it’s hard to keep him content, when he’s in his Dock, he is comfortable, able to breath without overheating, and still snug. The interchangeable cover makes it so convenient and easy to clean. We are so thankful that even on the long nights, Augustine is close by, comfortable and able to sleep in his own space.

Parenting is hard, and along the way, you develop all these ideas on how things are supposed to be. Those ideas fly out of the window just as quickly as they come in. Thank you DockATot for helping my baby continuing his growth and development with comfort. This post was sponsored by DockATot, all opinions are solely mine.

(Because we’re missing the curls!)

Family Matters

I come from a small family. What I mean by that is my mom was an only child, and she passed away when I was 11. My dad is from Sudan, and his side of the family lives back in Sudan. My dad has since then remarried in 2010, and I have acquired a brand new family – and they are amazing!

My husband comes from a bigger family, well bigger than mine in a sense. He has his parents, two sisters, and plenty of aunts and uncles that are fairly local. When we first met, I was absolutely terrified to get involved with family, much less attend family events or become close to family members.

Seems silly. I know. As “extroverted” as I may come across, secretly, I still love my close knit of friends, and intimate groups/family settings. It wasn’t until I had Augustine, where the light bulbs went off. Wow, whether it was positive or less than positive interactions with people, family really does matter.

This all came to be back in February when I reached out to AJ’s uncle to help surprise him by making a leather keychain for our 3rd anniversary. (I follow the traditional wedding gifts list – year 3 is leather). His mom’s side of the family owns a leather shop on the historically famous Olvera Street in Los Angeles. Known as the birthplace of Los Angeles, the small marketplace is beautiful and all things culture. If you’re from Southern California, Olvera Street is a great place to stop. If you take the train, Union Station will drop you off right there!

I knew the keychain would be special, so I decided we would take a trip out there and surprise him. We had an amazing day with family, strolling Olvera Street, and eating amazing food.

Well, in that small trip I learned so much more about myself than just spending another day with family.

First, family matters. I should clarify that family to me is blood relatives, in-laws, acquired family, and my amazing close knit circle of friends. For someone who lost a mom at a young age, I struggle with connections and the concept of family always being there when you need them. My friends, some of which I’ve known my entire life remind me over and over again that no matter the time or day, they are always there. My dad gives me strength when I have nothing left to give. My husband and in-laws have lovingly accepted me into their family, and treat me like their own daughter.

Secondly, I realized in that short visit – it doesn’t matter where you pick up. All that matters is your efforts in life. So whether it’s been 1 month, 1 year, 10 years since the last time you’ve connected with a loved one, it’s never too late to reach out your hand to say “you are cared for.” While we all know without a doubt how flawed we are, we’re even more sure that our family is completely dysfunctional. Moreover, it speaks volume once you have your own child to see family members come together to support us as parents. Encouragement, words of advice, meals, a shoulder to cry on, help navigating the first few days/weeks/months of parent life – I’ve come to see the beauty of it all. I am forever thankful for those interactions in one of the most vulnerable moments in our lives.

Lastly, we all take work. Internal investments on ourselves. Daily. The work never stops, it only gets more intricate and meaningful. That goes for family/friends too. When it gets hard, and the relationships seem hard to maintain, sometimes all it takes is a hand written card, a phone call, a text to remind others that their life is meaningful and that you’re thankful for their impact on your life.

So today, I encourage you to establish/re-establish connections with loved ones. Even when it’s difficult. Send a thank you note in the mail. Tell someone you love them. Remind each other that not only does family matter, but they are loved and cared for!