[Mini Vacation] Northern California : Days 1 and 2

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This past weekend, we went to Northern California for a wedding. The wedding was between Seth's mom's best friend's daughter, Ally, and her fiancé, Trent. Ally and I are practically cousins (Seth's mom and her mom are best friends but practically sisters) and she asked my sister in law and I to be bridesmaids in her wedding as well as my niece's to be flower girls. The wedding was at the Monte Verde Inn in Foresthill, CA -- a place I had never heard of before (and I grew up in Northern California) but ended up being one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

We left not-so-bright and early Thursday morning -- 4:45am to be exact. I was a little worried about having to wake up Mason but he did amazing. I was able to get him ready and in the car easily. I figured he would fall back asleep, but instead he stayed awake - half out of it - for about an hour until he crashed and slept for about an hour. He was then up and hungry and then awake for the rest of the trip there.

We stopped once for gas and lunch but that was all and made it to Roseville (just outside Sacramento) by noon. We were able to check in to our hotel, grab a bite to eat, and then head out for the rehearsal and then rehearsal dinner.

The drive to the venue was pretty standard freeway driving until we exited and starting climbing the mountain. It was a pretty windy road and we had no idea where it was taking us... and then...

We pulled up to this gorgeousness. And I immediately fell in love. The pictures don't do this place justice. It was pure beauty.

I walked around in awe of the beauty of nature, I took some pictures, and we did the rehearsal and then we were off, back down the mountain, to the rehearsal dinner at the groom's parents house. They had a wonderful dinner of the best tacos and tamales I've ever had and Mason had the best time playing with their huge marble set up. We left around 9pm, headed back to the hotel, and got some rest before the big day ahead!

Wedding morning came and I couldn't sleep. It wasn't even my wedding and I woke up at 5:30am, wide awake, unable to go back to sleep. Luckily Seth and Mason woke up shortly thereafter and then my sister in law and her family texted wanting to know if we wanted to meet for breakfast. We had breakfast together and then the guys were in charge of Mason for the day and the girls were off for hair, make up, and nails.


Mason wasn't technically in the wedding, but he was attached to my hip at the rehearsal and then the wedding was no different. Luckily the bride and groom are extremely amazing and laid back and didn't mind that they had a wedding party crasher. He actually behaved really well (except the one time he yelled "no!" - thankfully it wasn't during the time when the officiant asks if anyone objects - eek!) and was just SO excited to be standing up there with me.

After the ceremony, we took a few wedding party photos with the bride and groom and then I took a few pictures with my boys. We never get this dressed up so it was fun to take some pictures to remember the occasion. I mean, how cute does Mason look in his little suit??? There was supposed to be a tie that went with it, but I didn't fight him to put it on. He actually came down with a slight fever during the afternoon and Seth took him to Target to get some Tylenol and they both almost didn't make it, so I consider even part of the suit a win. And what's funny is that once he got to the wedding, he was acting TOTALLY fine and spent the majority of the night chasing my younger niece around, which in turn made me chase the both of them around.

The wedding was GORGEOUS and I was so honored to be able to stand up there and support the bride as she got married. I'm so happy for Ally and Trent and hope they are having the BEST honeymoon ever!

Stay tuned for Days 3 and 4, coming later this week! And also, I took tons of pictures of the decor (#blogger) but want to showcase it in a special way, so check back later this week for more on that too!

Oh Hey, Fri-YAY!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Well, you guys, it's been a week! And I sure as heck am glad that it's Friday. You know when you feel like things are going so well and you're just floating on Cloud 9? Well that happened and then someone blew my cloud away and now we're back on Earth and fighting for what we want. Mason is amazing and this is in no way, shape or form his fault, but sometimes having a child with special needs is hard. Real hard. I've never really had to fight for what I wanted or needed, I just kind of went with the flow, but this week, I had to do just that. I'm sure I made a few enemies, but I don't care. I'll do whatever it takes to get Mason what he needs.

Anyways, more on that later, but enough Debbie Downer talk, it's Friday!

Snapchat Filters.

I've recently become obsessed with those snapchat filters. Mason loves to see himself as a dog (even though I think it confuses the hell out of him why there are ears on his head because he touches his head and looks all confused lol), with a flower crown, you name it, I've subjected him to it. My nieces also LOVE it. They steal my phone whenever we're together and love to play with all the filters and do the face swap. Next time I'm watching them, I'll just give them my phone and go have a drink! LOL. I kid, I kid! I swear I wouldn't do that. In fact, you'd be more likely to find me scootering with them in the back alley and not on snapchat because #kidatheart.

This is Us Trailer.

Stephanie shared this on her Facebook page the other day and I started to watch it and holy goodness, grab a box of tissues. Yep, that's right. A BOX, not even just one or two. I can't wait for it to start in the fall, just in time for me to watch all of Parenthood over the summer!

Painting my own nails.

Apparently today's theme is all about social media (see below, you'll understand) because every time I paint my own nails, I share it on snapchat and people love it/make fun of me like no other so I thought I'd share here too. You see... I'm cheap. I've been painting my own finger nails lately (I still do love a pedicure by a professional every once in a while) but I'm terrible at it as evidenced above. My left hand looks ok, but my right hand looks like a scene from a horror movie. I swear it's getting better the more I do it, but not by much. It usually looks like this and then after I give Mason a bath and then after I take a shower, it looks like normal painted nails again :)

Oh and what's really funny is that I got tagged in this video at least three times in the last week because of my "excellent" nail painting skills. If only it could paint my nails for me and I'd be all over it!

Cart return.

I posted this picture on snapchat on Sunday and I seriously thought I'd be in the minority, but SO MANY people told me that they do the same thing! Do you do the same thing? I seriously would rather walk farther to get in the store than walk to put away the cart at the end of the trip. I part right next to a cart return if I can on almost any shopping trip (that requires a cart - Target, Costco, grocery store, etc).

Pinterest wedding inspiration.

If you need me, today I'm in a wedding in Northern California! I'm super excited to stand up as a bridesmaid and support the bride as she says 'I do'. And if the wedding is even half as beautiful as the Pinterest pins that she's been sharing, I'm going to be BLOWN AWAY. I'm DYING over her theme!

$50 Lucky & Me e-gift card giveaway.

There are still a few days left! Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a $50 Lucky & Me e-gift card!

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Have a great weekend!

The Guys Behind the Blog // May Edition.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Last year, I found out through Crystal that Betsy from Heavens to Betsy had this super cool series called The Guys Behind the Blog. Unfortunately it was a little too late to join for March 2015 but I joined in April and have been ever since! While I do talk about Seth often, I don't really know if you all know him very well. Enter : this series. Every month Betsy has different prompts that the guys behind the blog answer.

In preparation for the upcoming season, Laura Jean and Betsy chose to focus May’s questions on everything summery. However, there is a little bit of a twist! This month's questions are would-you-rather style.

Here are the questions :

1 // Would you rather have to wear your swimsuit to work OR have to carry around a large beach umbrella open all day at work?
That's easy. Swimsuit.
A swimsuit is better than carrying around an umbrella?
Board shorts and a t-shirt? Count me in. I'm a guy. It's not like I'm wearing a bikini!

2 // Would you rather play on an MLB team OR get to tour with your favorite band all summer?
Let me think about this. MLB!!!!

3 // Would you rather go to the beach and forget your towel OR go to the beach and forget your sunscreen?
Forget my towel. I just wouldn't go into the water. At least I wouldn't get burnt.

4 // Would you rather take a week-long vacation to anywhere in the world OR take a month-long vacation but have to stay within 100 miles of home?
100 miles from home? I'd rather take a week-long vacation anywhere in the world.

5 // Would you rather get to have as much ice cream as you want this summer, but only be able to get vanilla OR only get to have ice cream three times this summer, but you can have whatever flavors you want?
I'd rather have ice cream three times this summer but have whatever flavor I wanted.
Me too.
Yeah, but I'm not addicted to ice cream... like somebody in this room.
How rude! (but he's right.)

(long pause since we're done...)
Seth : Ok, I'm ready for my next question.
Me : That's it. You're done.
Seth : WHAT? But there were no questions about beer!


And there you have it! Thanks for playing along again Seth! 

[Favorite Finds] Insta-Grammin'

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's been a while since I did my last Instagram photo dump from some of my favorite Instagrammers that I thought I would share some more today. As I've mentioned before, Instagram is BY FAR my favorite form of social media. I check it most often and post most of my pictures there. Snapchat is definitely second and Facebook comes in a distant third. And the rest... don't even get me started on those. But enough rambling... on to my favorite finds! I must admit a few of these are kind of old (think Christmas photos) since I haven't done a photo dump since September, but they were too good not to share.

Oh and to be helpful, I linked the Instagram account names to the photos this time :)

@rowhouse14 // Seriously the cutest cards. I haven't bought any yet, but I love them all. Boom. Mic drop.
@andrea2220 // LOVE this idea! Andrea did the CUTEST North Pole breakfast for her kids when their elf came back for the holidays.
@theellenshow // Hahahaha!
@momtog // If you don't follow @momtog yet, you should. I started following when Erin was featured and have been hooked ever since. I've learned SO much from fellow mamarazzi's! I mean, how cute is this capture?? Little photog in training!
@sweetnsaucyshop // Donut smash cake. Need I say more?
@drewbphoto // Love this idea! What a great way to showcase your selfies.
@projectnursery // LOVE this little reading nook area.
@_being_jean_ // HECK YES. All the praise hand emojis!
@projectjunior // Swooning over this theme, especially the wall paper!

@crazyjewishmom // I need this cup.
@rowhouse14 // More SUPER cute cards!
@themagnoliamamas // Such a cute baby shower favor for guests.
@shopjumpingjack // YES.
@melissa_hartwig // Emoji magnets! Want.
@helloapparel // SUCH a cute pregnancy announcement!
@lvdmorethncrrts // Great Mother's Day card idea.
@smithamy91909 // LOVE this keepsake! I wish I still had this stuff from when Mason was born.
@sweetnsaucyshop // Emoji macaroons - all the heart eyes!

Do you follow any of these accounts already? Who are your favorites? 
I'm always looking for some wonderful accounts to follow!

Potty Training + a Giveaway!

Friday, May 20, 2016

I feel like the title of this post is a little awkward, but bear with me! I promise the giveaway is good!

So, I'm long overdue for an update on Mason. I planned on doing on in April because April is Autism Awareness Month and is also the month in 2015 that we found out that Mason has autism. But life had other plans and the time flew on past. Then I planned to do an update on the one year anniversary of me posting this letter to Mason, but again, life. I promise though... it's coming!

Today I wanted to focus a little on our potty training journey. Mason will be four in July and probably about 97% of kids are more than potty trained by now. I'd say most start to try between maybe the ages of two and three and are mostly potty trained by three when they start preschool. Thankfully, and luckily, for us, Mason is at a preschool that did not require him to be potty trained (so when he started at the age of two and not potty trained, it was not a problem). They are also helping us in the potty training journey, which I, for one, am SO happy about! Heck, I don't know anything about peeing standing up!

Up until now, I haven't pushed potty training. I'm sure I'm the only one in the world, but I don't hate changing diapers (in fact it's kind of convenient because if your kid needs to go, they just go, and you don't have to drop everything and find a bathroom). That being said, I know I can't be selfish forever and Mason obviously needs to learn to use the toilet.

We tried a while ago but didn't really have much success. We got one of those little toilets that you sit on on the floor and he had no interest. We even bought the potty seat for the toilet since that's what they were using at school since they were having some success - no success at home, even though we bought the exact same brand and everything. So I didn't push it. At this point, Mason's communication skills were still behind and I didn't think he could tell me when he needed to go. He also didn't seem to care when he was wet or dirty, so I just didn't think he was ready.

Fast forward a bit and we started to encourage it more and more. His ABA therapist would work on it at school with his teachers and at home with us. I even put up a little potty chart so he could add stickers. I thought that would give him some incentive - getting a prize once he filled up a row - but it didn't really work.

Fast forward to now. We got a letter home about two weeks ago saying that the school was going to full on start potty training Mason. They told us to bring four changes of bottoms, four changes of tops, four pairs of underwear, and two changes of socks and shoes. This was hardcore. I was actually excited. There's one teacher there that is known for potty training - not that she is mean, but she gets results. I was super excited, yet still not confident. Mason's speech has come A LONG WAY, but he still doesn't tell us when he needs to use the potty. We initiate often and he'll go when we take him, but he doesn't tell us and he still doesn't seem to care if he's wet or dirty. If I didn't change it, I think he'd walk around all day like that. It just doesn't phase him.

But hey, I'm up for trying anything.

So, the weekend before he was due to start potty training, we went to Target and bought some underwear and also happened to be lucky enough to get to try out some underwear from Lucky & Me. The Lucky & Me underwear are quite possibly the cutest things I've ever seen. I don't know why but I always think that things are cuter when they are smaller and the little boxers that we were sent are quite possibly the cutest things ever. Not only are they cute off Mason, but they are also cute on Mason. Yes, I'm that parent. I mean, come on, look at him!

We got the Grayson boxers and the Liam boxers. Both are super cute and so, so soft. What I also love about them is that they are tag-less. While Mason only had mild sensory issues due to his autism, I always look for everything he wears to be tag-less because no tag = less chance of him being annoyed and upset by it, more chance of him keeping it on, and a higher possibility of everyone leaving for work and school in the morning happy. In fact, I've been trying to let Mason make more of his own decisions in the morning in terms of his clothes so he feels more "in charge" so every morning I ask Mason which underwear he wants to wear and every morning he reaches for one of his pairs of boxers. Clearly he loves the softness and the feel of them too.

I also love that these styles of boxers are more formfitting so there is less chance of extra bulk in his pants or shorts and him getting annoyed by that as well. And bonus points, they are work as "shorts" when it's hot out and your kid wants to wear minimal clothing while playing basketball.

So, overall, I definitely wouldn't say that we can say that we've been successful with potty training, but I will say we've had some successes. I've "trained" (for lack of a better word) Mason to know that when it's bath time, we go upstairs, take off his clothes and diaper, and then go in to the bathroom to use the toilet before he gets in the bath. He does this automatically now and without a fight. I've also successfully had him come with me to the bathroom at a few restaurants and use the toilet. This was one of my biggest worries because of the noise of the flushing, but he doesn't seem to have any problem with the flushing noise (all the praise hand emojis!). He did, however, get scared when we were in a bathroom the other day and they only had the electronic hand dryer. It was really loud and he was scared to put his hands under the "unknown" which I completely get (hey, even I think they are loud!). So whenever I need to use the bathroom, I ask him if he needs to and he usually says yes. The first time I was shocked, but went along with it, and took him in. He wanted me to go first (sorry TMI) so I did everything I needed to and he flushed. Then I told him that it was his turn. I helped him pull down his pants and diaper with underwear over and he went! He flushed the toilet and then we both washed our hands. I think treating him like a big boy and praising him for going (I heard a little giggle from someone - probably a fellow mom - when I yelled "good job Mason!!!" after he went to the bathroom) has really helped. He gets a huge smile on his face and is so proud of himself. I, in turn, am so proud of him too, especially the fact that he goes potty like a big boy standing up. We haven't yet tried going #2 and sitting down, but baby steps!!

So, that's where we are. I know it will come when he's ready. I'm not too worried. He still has at least one more year of preschool before we put him in to kindergarten and I feel confident that he will be potty trained by the time he goes to kindergarten. Everything will happen when it's supposed to!

Enough potty talk... let's giveaway a gift card! Lucky & Me was generous enough to offer one reader a $50 e-gift card to their website! You can use it on anything you like (they have super cute stuff for girls too!). Winner will be notified by me and gift card will be emailed by Lucky & Me. Open to US residents only. Giveaway runs from Friday, May 20, 2016 at midnight PST to Monday, May 30, 2016 at midnight PST.

Good luck!

Discloser : I was given these underwear for free in exchange for a blog post. However, all opinions and statements are 100% mine (and Mason's!).

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Elevate 2016 [my first blog conference]

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Last weekend, I attended my first blog conference with Desiree and Erin. None of us had ever been to a blog conference before and none of us had any idea what to expect. We were given a few insider tips in our blog conference Facebook page, but other than that, we had no idea what we'd be doing or walking in on on Saturday.

When we first walked in, I was a little overwhelmed. I was immediately SO glad that they were both there with me. I'm terrible at meeting new people (I'm so shy!) and honestly probably would have been fine not meeting anyone new. I was there to see what the conference had to offer me as a blogger and to have a fun girls day with Desiree and Erin.

We checked in, got our swag bags, and were told that there was a fun little scavenger hunt to go on before the activities got started. The three of us found a table to put our stuff down at and then started the scavenger hunt. We made our way over to the beach since "toes in the sand" was one of the prompts and were immediately greeted by one of the presenters, Jenica from A Slice of Style. I didn't follow her blog or her Instagram but I had heard of her and her infertility journey (she's now expecting twins in a few months!) so I kind of recognized her. She was so, so sweet and asked if I wanted to take a picture of "toes in the sand" with her. I did. There were a couple other girls around the area and a "five person selfie" was another one of the prompts. I was worried how we were all going to fit in the picture but thankfully Jenica had long arms and perfected our "five person selfie" for us. She went on her way to go mingle some more and we continued with our scavenger hunt. By now almost everyone had arrived and they told us to go inside for the first speaker.

Here is our rough schedule that we went by for the day.

11:00-11:30am : Registration
11:30am-12:15pm : Speaker : Chari Pack @persnicketyprints
12:15-1:00pm : Lunch : Stonefire Grill @stonefiregrill
1:00-3:00pm : Creative Workshops by @sizzix, @meandmybigideas, and @myoverlays
3:00-3:45pm : Speaker : Rebecca Lopez @craftedsparrow
3:45-4:00pm : Break
4:00-5:00pm : Business Panel : Ashley @ashleysfreshfix, Vanessa @chatbooks, and Amy @livandhope
5:00-5:45pm : Dinner : Taco Asylum @tacoasylum
5:45-6:30pm : Speaker : Jenica Parcell @asliceofstyle
6:30-7:00pm : Raffles and Closing

The first speaker was Chari from Persnickety Prints. I'd been following Persnickety Prints on Instagram for a while, so I was super excited to hear her speak. Her presentation was AMAZING. She dove a little into her personal life, how Persnickety Prints got started, and various other inspirational messages. It was really amazing. She also ended up sitting at my table for lunch (our seats were assigned) and I had a chance to talk to her a little more. I'm so happy she was a speaker at our conference.

After lunch, we rotated around different craft areas and got to make some cool crafts. One station was the Sizzix station where we got to make this beautiful necklace out of leather. It was really fun to do, but let me tell you, I much prefer to buy my jewelry than make it! Holy cow. I think it took me 30 minutes to make my one necklace. The next station was with Me and My Big Ideas. I literally had no idea that they were in the planner world until Saturday. I used to use their stickers ALL THE TIME for scrapbooking, but I guess about a year ago, they came out with the Happy Planner. Not only did they show us and tell us about it, but we got to have one of our own! Seriously it's gorgeous and it came with tons of fun inserts and stickers and so much stuff that I could spend hours decorating. They were so generous! The last station was the Overlays station. She basically taught us all kinds of IKEA hacks to make our IKEA furniture more unique and decorative. We decorated a mirror with an overlay (that we got to keep) and they gave us a brochure of all the possibilities that we could do with overlays. Seriously, I wish I had a house! There were some gorgeous ways to spruce up an otherwise regular ol' plain IKEA dresser.

After the workshops, we went back inside to hear Rebecca from Crafted Sparrow talk. I'd never heard of her but she basically told us about her journey to where she's at now. She was a working woman until she had her first child and then once her child was born, she couldn't imagine going back to work. She and her husband made it work and she was able to stay home. As much as she loved being home with their child, she was lacking the ability to express her creative side. So she started a blog. And it has only grown from there. She has crazy big companies approaching her for collaborations now, including Coke for the Super Bowl this year, and many others. Her creativity and her blog have allowed her family to gain addition income... all for something she loves to do and allows her to stay home with their children.

By this point, time was running a little low so we skipped the break and headed straight into the business panel of speakers. First up was Ashley from Ashley's Fresh Fix, second was Vanessa from Chatbooks, and third was Amy from Liv and Hope. They all shared their journeys to becoming business women (whatever that might mean to them - they all have different forms of businesses) and were just very inspirational in terms of following your dreams, never giving up, don't let bullies on the internet get you down, and other uplifting messages similar to those.

After the business panel, we broke for dinner and had some AMAZING tacos from Taco Asylum and took a group photo.

Photo by Chrissy Delacy - Let Me See You Sparkle Photography

After dinner was our last speaker, Jenica Parcell, whom we met earlier. I was really excited to hear her talk about her journey and see how her journey could relate to all of us. Seriously she was the sweetest person and was so open and honest about everything. She has a blog where she posts deals on clothes and things like that. She'd fill up her blog and her Instagram with all these happy pictures of her seemingly perfect life, but on the inside, she wasn't happy. They were struggling with infertility and she wasn't sharing that story with anyone. So, on the outside, she was happy Jenica, but on the inside, she wasn't so happy. Then one day, she decided to share her story. She drafted the blog post, hit post, and sat there in shock that she shared her story with the whole internet. And what happened? SO MUCH POSITIVE FEEDBACK. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, but the blogging community is amazing. Thankfully and luckily I've had nothing but positive experiences (knock on wood) but I know there can be such hateful and mean people out there. But when you can be so vulnerable and honest and open and get such positive feedback from perfect strangers, it makes you realize why you blog and why you share so honestly and openly. She did say that since then, she's had some people say some not so nice/positive things to her like on a picture she posted of her eating a hot dog in the Costco parking lot but she feels like its more out of concern than mal intent. But she also did say that after all of this, after everything she's been through, she's found that she lets things roll of her back more easily now. People can say mean things to you in person or on the internet, but maybe it's because they are at an unhappy place in their life. Maybe they aren't really mean. You never know what's going on behind someone's smile. And like they say, never judge a book by it's cover.

After Jenica was done speaking, it was time to wrap it up and to do the raffle. Unfortunately I didn't win anything, but I felt like a winner already with my overflowing swag bag of goodies to take home.

So, overall, was it worth it? Would I do it again? Yes. I would. And honestly, in the first few minutes and hours, I wasn't so sure I'd say that. I did meet a few people, all nice, but I did feel a little out of place. People would ask me "what do you do?" and I'd say I had a mom blog about my family and motherhood and to be honest... I felt so lame. I thought this was a blog conference but there were TONS of people there who were business owners or were significantly more successful than me. BUT! Now I know. I even went out and made business cards because that's what they suggested, but I definitely didn't need them. I did hand out a few but I felt silly doing it. But for the future, if I go next year, I'll know what to expect more. I mean, heck, I'd go back just for the food and the speakers and the swag bag! Ha! But really, it was good information and I did enjoy myself even though I do wish that they had talked about blogging and photography more. I was definitely hoping to get some photography tips (especially iphoneography!), but they didn't touch on that at all.

The biggest quote that I took away from the whole event was to find your tribe and love them hard. Through blogging, I really feel like I've found people who are my tribe and I do love them hard. I'm so glad that I entered into this crazy world of blogging almost four years ago because without it, I wouldn't have been introduced to so many wonderful people. So glad that I got to spend my Saturday with Erin and Desiree and that they wanted to go to this conference with me! So, shall we sign up for next year girls? :)