2023 Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Hear ye! Hear ye! Mothers Day is upon us!

A day where it’s finally about us, the moms. Maybe it’s a traditional breakfast in bed, or our favorite Starbucks in a Venti, a meal out, a day of shopping, A NAP. Growing up, we would bring my mom breakfast in bed and she’d be so sweet and act surprised and eat as we all watched. As I got older I realized my mom doesn’t even like breakfast, and was probably wincing in the next room as we made a mess in the kitchen that she’d end up cleaning. Knowing the mom is half the battle right? What would be most appreciated varies from mom to mom and sometimes its hard to make the right call.

I’ve compiled a short list of recommendations here and hope that no matter what, you celebrate the moms in your life.

Mantraband Birth Flower Necklace

This gold vermeil necklace is dainty yet powerful. In fact, all the beautiful jewelry from Mantraband comes with a positive, inspiring “mantra” meant to evoke mindfulness, presence, and affirmation in daily life. The December necklace is a narcissus, representing self-love and grace and I am obsessed with the amazing quality, gorgeous packaging, and feeling it gives me when I wear it!

Byredo Discovery Set

This set of perfume samples features all of Byredo’s best sellers. One bottle of this perfume will set you back nearly $300 big ones, so I consider $50 for the sampler a fair price. My favorite of the bunch is not surprisingly Gypsy Water, which features base notes of vanilla, Amber, and sandalwood and top notes of bergamot, juniper, lemon, and pepper.

Dignity Coconuts Beauty Bundle

Do you have a coconut-loving mama in your life? Look no further than Dignity Coconuts. This gift set is perfect for Mothers Day and offers a dry brush, a jar of their famous coconut oil, and a 3-pack of coconut oil based lip balms. The vanilla one is positively scrumptious and has become a staple in my life. I really love the versatility of coconut oil and appreciate the fact that I can use it on Clara and myself for a myriad of things. We’re constantly reaching for this!

Sanrio Loungewear

Target is currently killing it with the loungewear – I’ve seen Barbie, Hello Kitty, and other Sanrio characters there lately. These sweatpants are an absolute must for any elder millennial mom who likes a healthy dose of 80’s-90’s nostalgia. These feature power couple Hello Kitty and Pusheen!

VERB Ghost Oil

I know I sound like a broken record but man oh man I love this hair oil. As a fine-haired gal, I need one that won’t weigh me while still offering the benefits of a heavy oil. I love to use this one on damp hair before heat protectant and also on dry hair. I focus it at the ends and it always does the job and smells amazing.

Minnetonka Moccasins

Listen, I know it’s spring but every mom loves a nice pair of slippers and these ones are so damn comfy and they don’t break the bank. I found this pair brand new at my local thrift store and have been living in them ever since. The fur lining is to die for and the classic design means they won’t ever go out of style. Sometimes the OG gifts are the OG for a reason.


Achieving Lovely Locks: My Hair Journey

Recently I’ve received several compliments on my hair. “Natalie, your hair is so long!”, “Your hair looks so healthy!”, “What are you doing with your hair these days?” Ok maybe it’s only been like 3 people. Either way, it’s enough to inspire a blog post and incite hair euphoria because as many of you might know, it hasn’t always been like this. I’ve written about my hair countless times, most notably when it all fell out after I had a baby. The 80’s punk rock mullet was my reality. And having lived through that, I have a thing or two to say.

As a reminder, here is where I was just a few years ago.

Annnnd here I am today!

At Disney…

From family photos taken back in May 2022…

And before I get into this, of course, a disclaimer.

I have to give credit where credit is due. And for this, credit is undeniably due to the sudden surge in popularity of the 90’s blowout. Not sure about you, but I for one, am SO ready to hang up the curling wand in favor of a good ol’ 1.75″ classic Conair curling iron. I am tired of beachy waves, the perfectly imperfect tousled-ness, and wrapping 1-inch sections of hair around that GD wand, while burning my wrists and being ever-so-careful to leave out the bottom 2 inches to achieve the “Utah mom” look. Give me a classic, wide, bouncy curl! Give me layers! Give me BODY.

A few months ago while scrolling TikTok, I happened upon a new-to-me overnight curling method that promised to deliver the perfect 90’s blowout sans heat and guys – it actually works. I will link it here for your viewing pleasure. You’ll also need 2 insanely cheap Amazon products to achieve this (curling rods and a satin bonnet). You’ll also need 2-3 individual crew socks.

Here I am in all my closed-mouth-smile, bonneted glory:

Essentially, you wrap large sections of hair around the sock filled with curling rods. Then you place the bonnet over those sections and sleep on it. These were my results after the first time I tried it.

YAAAS Queen! Lovely, full, bouncy ass curls with NO heat damage. I feel like this style makes hair appear longer and healthier – smoke and mirrors baby! So with all of this being said, I attribute about 50% of the current lovely state of my hair to embracing this style and curling method.

What else have I been doing? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Only washing my hair 2-3 times a week. We all know about this by now – washing your hair every day or even every other day is not good. Get dirty and reap the benefits.
  2. Drinking 8 Greens (see below)
  3. Using the lowest heat setting when I blow dry. No-brainer.

And then of course, your gonna need you some products. The following have been GAME CHANGERS for me. Life-altering, earth-shattering, ride-or-die necessities for long, luscious locks.

VOLO Hair Towel

The VOLO Hair Towel is an Allure Award Winner in 2021 and a serious must-have. I mentioned it a few months ago and I feel like this towel and the pillowcase mentioned below have made the most difference in terms of hair breakage and loss. This towel is ultra-absorbent, yet insanely soft. My hair is nearly halfway dry after only about 5-10 minutes in this towel. Worth every penny.

Mulberry Silk Pillowcase and Hairties

By now we should all know the benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase. Not only is it better for your hair, but it is also way better for your skin! Silk pillowcases do not absorb as much moisture as cotton or other materials, keeping expensive skincare products where they belong – on your face! They’re also better for temperature regulation, wrinkle prevention, and cause less breakage in hair. This one from Celestial Silk in vintage pink has been absolutely wonderful. It is a super high-quality pillowcase with a very strong, hidden zipper, has held up amazingly in the wash, and is ridiculously soft.

8 Greens

8 greens have quite literally been a lifesaver for me. My Aunt Sandi introduced these wonderful, fizzing, dietary supplement tablets to me years ago and I am hooked. They help out m’blood counts and deliver several benefits you’d get from actual greens. Perfect for a girl on a Gushers and Cheez-It diet.

VERB Ghost Oil

I have been using the Ghost Oil from Verb for a few months now and I do understand the hype. It lives up to the “weightless” claim, does not feel heavy in my thin hair, and makes my ends look and feel healthier. I use it on damp, towel-dried hair but have also used it on dry ends that are lookin’ a little sorry. One pump goes a long way so this 2 oz. bottle is going to last a good long while!

Kenra Blow-Dry Mist

I’ve always had a soft spot for Kenra – something about the smell. This blow dry, thermal protectant is no exception as it smells amazing but more importantly, protects my hair without weighing it down or making it feel greasy. It is SO imperative to find products that work well together and don’t weigh it down, especially when you have thinner hair. I find the combination of the Ghost Oil with the Kenra spray is a perfect duo.

That’s it from me and my hair! xoxo

First Makeup Haul of 2023

Oh, dear lord.

It is March. MARCH. This might be the longest I’ve gone without writing it’s really been eating at me. About 4-5 days ago, I broke out all along my jawline. Like, it’s giving high-school. Things have been crazy at work and in my life but I honestly think I have pent up creative aggression. Hopefully after I hit publish, all my problems (and zits) will just go away!

So yes, things have been busy. I switched internal teams at work and learning the ropes at the ripe ol’ age of OLD LADY is no joke. A humbling experience it has been. And for someone who has had her more than fair share of humbling experiences, I’m just ready for simple and steady. I’ll get there one day.

To start things off easy, I’d like to begin with a nice and easy makeup haul. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the current trend is natural, glowy makeup. Cream blushes, bronzers, and highlighters are in. Soap brows. Siren eyes. WHITE EYELINER (thanks for that one, Alix Earle). As a geriatric millennial, I both want to keep up and pretend I don’t care.

Here is what I have ended up with, as of late.

Oh. And please spare me the judgment on my filthy vanity table. I let Clara play with all my stuff when I am getting ready and as you can imagine, it’s a bit of an art project.

True Match Lumi Glotion in Light Glow

A supposed dupe for the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter, the idea is to smear this stuff all over the mug as a sort of primer. You then top it with a foundation and let the glow subtlety shine through. I like this well enough for the following reasons –

  1. You get a ton of it
  2. Spring/summer is coming and hopefully I can wear this on it’s own
  3. The shade is super pretty

Here is a photo of it just swiped on my skin, so you can see the color:

Garnier Clearly Brighter Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller

I have fallen madly in love with this product. Perfect as a base for heavier concealers, this lightweight product combines powerful ingredients formulated especially for the under eyes with a slight tint. It looks great on it’s own, or paired with a concealer. And best of all, the cooling metal roller-ball tip feels amazing.

Here it is on me, freshly applied:

And blended:

Flower Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops in Bubbly

This cool, candy-pink gel-like formula really is the bomb! lol sorry. It is easy to blend, color payoff is excellent and a little goes a long way.

Here it is freshly applied (I have also been putting blush on my nose, lately. Per TikTok):

And blended:

Flower Beauty Spotlight Liquid Highlight in Opal

Alllll the brands are doing knock-offs of the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Wands. The component is exactly the same and so is the color range. This formula is not my absolute favorite due to how GD fast it dries. I would only recommend applying one side at a time before blending. It is pretty, but nothing revolutionary.

Here it is applied:

And blended:

Elf Brow Lift

This brow lift gel is really nice. I do wish it came with a spoolie because I still have not found one of the angled kinds this kind of product needs. However, I do like the consistency and natural look it affords m’brows.

And I must apologize that I didn’t get a picture with the white eyeliner on. I am still not completely sold on it and think it can look ridiculous when overdone. I also have concerns about the staying power, but that really goes for any product that goes into the water line or tight line.

All in all, I have been so pleased with this dewy, natural, makeup trend and all of these products. This look suits maturing skin, and looks good on nearly everyone.

Next time, I plan to share the MILLIONS of heatless curls I have been trying out. Anyone interested?

My 2022 Christmas List

Can you believe I have been posting my Christmas list on this blog for 9 years? NINE. If you need a laugh, go take a gander at my 2013 list where I include a statement necklace from Forever 21, a DVD, AND a Lord of the Rings phone case. No words are needed. Millennial me has slayed and will continue to slay.

But now. Now I slay in a slightly different way. With outfits purchased at the bins, vibrating heating pads (yes, from Walgreens), and crinkled up packets of Liquid IV found at the bottom of my purse.

And so, here is a list of material possessions that I believe will make my life better. Whether or not they actually will is a story for another day.

Kate Spade My Love Heart Ring

Found this ring via TokTok (where else?) and it was love at first sight. Ignore the pun. It is simple, feminine, and I do not really own any rings other than my engagement/wedding band.

A Whiff of Wafflecone Perfume

I have been wanted a perfume that makes me smell like a snack, lol. Kinda like a more intense version of the Brazilian Crush no.71. This was created for Salt & Straw and as a Portlandian, I feel it is my duty to own it!

Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra Mid Puffer in Black (M)

It’s time for a new black winter workhorse. My J.Crew puffy was getting pretty tired and this one is slightly oversized, super warm and comfy.

Ralph Lauren Bear Baseball Cap

I want to own SOMETHING with the damn Ralph Lauren bear on it. The sweaters are like, super spendy though. I will settle for this ball cap.

La Fraise Sweatshirt (M/L)

It should be tradition that I get a new EllandEmm sweatshirt every year. They are high-quality, SO fun, and slightly oversized. I LOVE this one, “strawberry” en francais – j’adore!

Cath Kidston Pajamas (M)

It is time for some bougie pajamas. And the prints from Cath Kidston just SPEAK to me on every level. These are just jaw-dropping beautiful.

Le Mini Macaron Gel Polish in Bubblegum

I am all about the gel polish these days. I do it myself at home with my Le Mini Macaron macaron-shaped curing lamp! I need to add this bubblegum color to my collection.

Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment in Watermelon Slice

I think this might be a Hailey Bieber product which means I will probably never get my hands on it. But I have heard amazing things and it is an Allure Beauty Award winner. I really want the salted caramel flavor but would settle for watermelon.

Homeworx Birthday Cake Candle

Last, but most certainly not least A CANDLE DUH. I just want a super pungent birthday cake scent that I can smell from across the street. That’s it.

Merry Christmas to all you filthy animals. LYSM and see you after the madness!

Self-Care and Fall Favorites

Holy November.

Life has really gotten the better of me lately. A combination of work and an escalating side-hustle have left me completely depleted as of late. Then, you factor in 2 kids, a dog who pees on the carpet, and menty b struggles – it’s been a busy fall. But also, everything is great. E is doing well (all things considered) in middle school, Clara is tolerating preschool/daycare. David and I have been agreeing on our nightly shows. My hair is totally grown-out but the botox I got in September is still somewhat visible so at least my forehead looks good.

It’s so important to have good things around, when life is busy, when work sucks, when it takes you 6 tries to get Wordle. You get it. I have comprised the below list of a few items that myself and my family have been using and loving.

Birkenstocks Boston Clogs

I ordered these back in August when I had a sneaking suspicion they were going to blow up. Thank you TikTok! I will gladly take any opportunity to look cool while staying comfortable. Birkenstocks are easily the most comfortable shoes. I wish I would have sized up in the clogs, but they still fit. I have been wearing them nonstop and loving every minute of it.

MyBevi Classic Insulated Tumbler in Candy Pink

I happened to find myself sipping from this MyBevi tumbler, while wearing my Ellandemm Troop Beverly Hills sweatshirt and pink glasses so I had to snap a pic to commemorate. This is my new favorite tumbler. Yes, I still love me a Starbucks tumbler with a straw but you guys, I keep breaking them! They are beauties but they cannot withstand my clumsiness and carelessness. This MyBevi tumbler however, is a freaking workhorse. It keeps my water nice and cool (I don’t like super ice cold water) and my coffees piping hot. The lid is amazing, SUPER durable and you can use a straw with it. I love everything about this – especially the color!

Celestial Silk Pillowcase and Small Scrunchies

I have meaning to invest in a silk pillowcase for some time now. These pillow cases are great for two main reasons – they are great for those with dry, damaged, thin, or thinning hair AND who are concerned with the effects of ageing. These 100% mulberry silk pillowcases lead to less breakage and help skincare products fully absorb into the skin. Plus, they are SUPER soft, breathable, hypo-allergenic, and have a hidden zip closure.

Along with a good pillowcase, is a nice silk scrunchie! How much hair have I lost over the years to the regular hair tie? Honestly, I don’t even want to think about it. These mini, thinner scrunchies from Celestial Silk are absolute perfection. The color (dark taupe) is perfect compliment to my dirty blonde hair, are incredibly soft, and do not pull out any hair. I want them in every color now!

VOLO Hero Hair Towel in Salt White

YOU GUYS. Anyone remember the Turbie Twist? I had a pink Turbie Twist for many years, a small, cone-shaped, cotton towel with a small elastic loop on the end? Mine never washed well and before too long, it was stringy and gross and I am pretty sure it never really dried my hair.

Enter: the VOLO Hero Hair Towel!! This is the bougie, Barefoot Dreams version of the crappy Turbie Twist. Truly feels like a blanket for the head. It is ridiculously soft, thick, and absorbent. The VOLO towel promises to cut dry-time by 50%, which for me is everything. I do not have time for wet hair. And due to the aforementioned state of my damaged locks, I try to keep it away from the heat of a blow-dryer. This towel has seriously changed the game for me. I am experiencing less breakage, faster drying times, and best of all – my forehead isn’t being yanked backwards, bearing the weight of a regular towel. I will never use a normal towel to dry my hair ever again!

Maya J Bracelet Hair Ties

Are they bracelets or are they hair ties? Don’t know about you, but bangles and bracelets are tough for me. The jingle-jangle and impracticality of them when you are spending your days wiping PB&J off of sliding glass doors is enough to keep my wrists bare 99% of the time. But that is no fun! I usually can bear to keep a hair tie or two around my wrist and when I saw these beautiful gold metal-adorned hair ties, I knew it was kismet. These look super cute, go perfectly with my blonde hair, and best of all – do not snag on my hair! I am never without them and definitely need more for mixing and matching.

PediPocket Blanket in Sultry Smoke

Now that we have discussed a blanket for my hair, we must talk my new favorite blanket for my body – the PediPocket! So. If you know me, you know I suffer from poor circulation. I blame all 72 inches on this. Blood just cannot reach my extremities and honestly, I don’t blame my blood – it’s a long way to go! Having poor circulation also means my hands and feet are nearly always cold. And not just cold, ice-cold. Yes I’ve seen a doctor. This blanket came to me at the perfect time, because just as the September weather went from 80’s down to the 50’s in matter of a week, I whipped out this blanket, nestled my little feetsies (ok my big feetsies) in, and was instantly in love.

You see, this blanket comes equipped with a 20 inch designated POCKET for your feet. If you are one of those people who plays the do-i-cover-my-shoulders-or-feet game, you need this!

Mabel’s Labels Acrylic Letter Tags

I’ve been seeing these big acrylic letter keychains around and duh – needed my own pink and sparkly version! I went for the cursive lettering for Clara and I to adorn our bags with. I clipped hers to her rainbow overnight bag and it is just the perfect addition. These letters are thick, high-quality acrylic and come very nicely packaged. I am in love!

Mantra Mask “I Am” Kit and CBD Coconut Eye Gels

This kit from Mantra Mask comes with over $55 worth of products for only 30 bucks! I have really been loving CBD products lately (more on that in another post) and these sheet masks from Mantra Masks are jam-packed with super high-quality ingredients as well as about 30 MG of CBD.

This 3-pack of CBD coconut eye gels has been a huge help when I have a random sleepless night. These eye gels also pack 30 MG of CBD each, hyaluronic acid and other great ingredients. I am fairly picky when it comes to under-eye gel masks. They can’t slip down my face, be overly gooey, or smell weird. These check off all the boxes and make my under eyes feel hydrated, slightly plumped, and definitely more awake. They also come packaged in this neat little pouch that is perfect for throwing in a purse or bag.

New Legends Skincare The Total Package Kit

Our sweet E is in middle school! And as we all know, this age comes with all the fun stuff ;). It is really important to me to equip her with her own hygiene products so she takes ownership of this new phase of life. Also, skincare should be tailored to the needs of each of our unique needs. I need anti-ageing products, formulated to fight wrinkles and provide deep moisture. Her skincare needs and mine are totally different! Also, getting kids this age to shower, wash their face, and apply deodorant can be a struggle. This skincare kit from New Legends makes it so fun and easy to provide your tween or teen with products that work well, are made with organic ingredients and are targeted to fight the good fight (read: pimples, hormones, etc.). I am so happy we have found this amazing line of products that she loves to use and that work great for her skin!

Libbi Kids Nail Polish

As you can probably tell from the above photo, my Clara absolutely LOVES having her nails painted. And we own approximately 2000 of those tiny children’s nail polishes. You know the ones. They last about 5 minutes before peeling off. Well, homegirl has caught on. She wants her polish to stay on dammit! I cannot blame her. I was on the lookout for a kid-friendly nail polish and Libbi Kids has it down. Their kids polish is vegan, and free of 16 other potentially toxic ingredients, it contains nourishing oils safe for kids and leaves behind a subtle, sweet scent. We are in love!

LYS No Limits Cream Bronzer and Contour Stick in Motivate

I am fully jumping on the cream products trend as of late, and have been in hot pursuit of a good cream bronzer for awhile now. I needed to find one that wasn’t sold out (haha), and a good shade for my pale, pale skin. Finally Sephora restocked this LYS Beauty cream bronzer stick and while I am not crazy about the triangular packaging, the product itself is awesome. The formula is easy to blend, and the lightest shade they offer is perfect for my coloring.

Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush in Happy

I am sooo late to the game on these amazing liquid blushes from Rare Beauty. I waited awhile for this cool pink shade in Happy to come back in stock at my local Sephora. I have recently realized that cool, bright-pink blush actually suits my skin nicely. As much as I would love to rock a peachy coral – it really just makes me look orange. Not it. I want at least 3 other colors in this liquid blush. It is SO easy to work with, blends like a dream, and only takes a tiny bit of product to achieve a rosy glow.

And that is it for now. Stay tuned for my holiday gift guide coming later this month. It’ll be a doozy!

Disneyland Vacation Recap + Tips

So I realize I am about 3 months late with his post, but better late than never eh? It sure has been a minute since I did any kind of a vacation re-cap, but this time I might actually have valuable information to share, so let’s go.

But first, a quick run down of our June vacation itinerary and the reasons behind the choices we made.

Tickets –

We decided to spend 2 days at Disneyland, and opted to go on a Tuesday and Wednesday (weekday crowds are supposedly better) and I researched blackout dates for season ticket holders (dates where they cannot use their passes). We went for the single park per day option instead of the park-hopper, rationalizing that, with kids it was probably unrealistic to think we could easily go back and fourth. We figured one full day at each park would be perfect, so we selected California Adventure for our first day and Disneyland for our second day. We also added on the Genie+ option which added an extra $20 per ticket per day. All in all, an extra $160 for all four of us. You can read all about the Genie+ pass here, but basically you can think of it as paying for fast passes (if you remember those). Genie+ means you can make a “reservation” for a ride and use the “lightening lane” (a.k.a fast pass lane) to bypass the standby line. The other big perk with Genie+ is that all the photos are included. This includes the ride photos (like Splash Mountain, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) and then any photos from the many Disney photographers that walk around. I will show some of these photos below. There are other perks, but those are the main ones at least for me.

Day 1 –

As I mentioned in a post I wrote before we left, we had planned on renting a stroller for Clara so her little legs would not have to carry her all over the park. We ended up abandoning this idea due to our park entrance strategy! We basically followed the guide from Mickeyvisit.com (cannot recommend this site enough) and knew that the best way to have a successful day at Disney is to start early. The crowds, wait times, and hot weather is at it’s best within the first hour – 1.5 hours. So getting to the park well before it opens is the best way to make this happen. The parks open at 8 am, and we were already through the main gates and situated in front of our chosen “land” for “rope drop”. These were all new-to-me terms that I was well versed on by the time we left.

I should also mention that we were able to wake up at the hour of 6:00 am for two reasons. We have little kids who wake up naturally at this time, and we stayed in Anaheim next to the parks. If you are traveling from far, or trying to drag teenagers out of bed, I realize that this does not make sense!

Following the guide, we distributed food once we were standing in line for the “rope drop” location to keep us busy. We also met and became friends with so many fun people around us. This was when we learned some of the most valuable information of all, such as:

  • How to use the Disneyland app, make lightening lane reservations, order food, etc.
  • What the height requirements for all the rides were (read more about that below)
  • What time all the night-time festivities began

It turned out that 40 inches seemed to be the make-or-break height requirement for several of the rides we wanted to take our adventurous little Clara on. Since we weren’t sure if she would make the cut (even with her Nikes on) some lovely parents next to us passed us a handful of extra raw sugar packets that they were stuffing in their kids shoes. We hesitantly took them, with confused looks on our faces. They explained to us that their son was mere millimeters away from the 40 inches so they were hoping that by stuffing the sugar packets under his foot, it would boost him up to the height he needed to go on his favorite rides. We laughed and threw them in the backpack, thinking we wouldn’t use them.

We followed this morning ride strategy from Mickeyvisit.com and headed directly to Cars Radiator Springs. We quickly realized that everyone else was headed this way as well, and we ended up waiting about 80 min to get on this ride! It was by far the longest wait we did the whole time we were there. It was definitely not the greatest, but at least it was about 70 degrees outside and our excitement definitely made the time pass.

We continued to follow the guide, riding Toy Story Midway Mania, Incredicoaster, Soarin, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, Pixar’s Pal-a-Round, and we attended the Disney Jr. Dance Party (which I would highly recommend if you have little ones). Then, all of my dreams came true when I got to ride The Little Mermaid with Clara. Watching her face light up and squeal with laughter…I MEAN. This is literally the pay-off you get for having kids, moments like that. Makes every hard thing so worth it.

We also happened upon the Sorcerer’s Workshop in the animation building. YOU GUYS. If you have kids, you MUST find this. Inside, there is a whole room that looks like the Beast’s library. It is SO cool, and they have little interactive stations. There is also a whole giant room where they play clips from Disney movies. The other bonus of this room is the fact that it is dark and has strong A.C, so there were several families in there with strollers letting their kids nap. How genius!

We had lunch at the Pym Test Kitchen where E and I both ordered the famous Pymini Panini (found on TikTok of course). And it lived up to the hype – delish. David and I shared a hard-seltzer (3 cheers for alcohol at California Adventure!) and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Anaheim which was one of the nicest hotels I have stayed at. Granted, I have not stayed at the Four Seasons, but you get me. It was brand new, had a gorgeous lobby, really cute gift shop, AMAZINGLY nice customer service, super duper clean, and there were 2 pools. One of the pools is on the rooftop, is gorgeous, and is adult-only (not like we got to partake in that, but I still thought it was badass). We rode the ART shuttle (Anaheim Resort Transportation) back to the hotel after a bit of negotiating with the driver. You see, they make the whole shuttle system seem pretty easy but we did not find that to be the case. We were told that shuttles come every 20 min, and also that you have to request them. It was confusing but eventually we got the hang of it.

We all took naps back at the hotel on the first day. Our room was amazing, had 2 queen beds and a set of bunk beds. The girls slept in the bunk beds and David and I decided that having our own beds was seriously amazing for this kind of a vacation. Plenty of room to collapse and no biggie if the girls wanted to crawl into bed with one of us.

After naps we headed back to the park, did some more rides and of course got snacks. David and I found it pretty easy to trade off and on, riding things with E while the other parent hung with Clara and went on another ride with her. One option we did not really take advantage of was the rider switch. Apparently you can get in line together, and one parent can stand off to the side with the little kid while the other parent rides the ride with the older kid and then the parent that was with the little kid can ride the ride without having to wait in the standby line again. Whew!

That night, we watched the laser lights show and it really was amazing! After it ended, Clara and I went back to the hotel while David and E stayed until the park closed at 10 pm.

Day 2 –

The next day it was very much a rinse-and-repeat situation only we were in Disneyland this time. We arrived to the park early and made sure we were in place for the “rope drop” so we could zoom over to one of my all-time favorite Disneyland rides, Peter Pan. We also had to get a Minnie Mouse cake pop.

Of course, as we approached Fantasyland we quickly realized the ride was not open. So we decided to hop around Fantasyland and do all the small rides like Snow White, Frog and Toad, Pinocchio, etc. Of course we had to stop by New Orleans square (my favorite) that morning for a beignet!

Then David and I took turns standing in line for Clara to meet the princesses in the royal hall. I ended up missing our time slot and she went in with David. She ended up meeting Anna, Ariel, and Cinderella and was absolutely over the moon. He got it all on video, but I was pretty disappointed to have missed it. Luckily, we ended up getting to meet Elsa by the wishing well right afterwards and it was SO magical. I think meeting the characters is maybe my favorite thing about Disneyland.

ALSO! We saw Gaston! We did not get to meet him, but as we walked by I said “Hi Gaston!” to which he replied “Bonjour! Have you seen my bride-to-be, Belle?” OH GASTON.

Then of course we visited the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique, which sadly did not offer the styling services. We let Clara pick something out and of course she chose the Rapunzel crown – MAJESTY!

E caught the Disneyland Loungefly bug and decided that was what she wanted. I think she chose one of the cutest ones!

The rest of the day was spent doing several of the more kid-friendly experiences.

Clara ended up LOVING the Autopia ride. I let her “drive” and she was cackling the entire time.

I was having the best time, as so much has changed since I was a kid. We also OF COURSE visited the Tiki Room, a Disneyland classic. And we got so many classic Disneyland treats, like the infamous turkey leg which E decided to tackle all on her own!

To close out the day, we did the Winnie the Pooh ride which I had never been on before and it was adorable. I did end up missing out on some of my faves like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn, but all-in-all the day was perfect.

The next day we hit up downtown Disney before heading back to Palm Springs. I would highly recommend doing this, so many fun things to see. I ended up getting thee most beautiful candle ever (pumpkin spice scented!).

Such a perfect trip to Disney and one that I will never forget!

We Started Daycare

Hi folks.

Today, I am callin’ it as I see it, no sugar-coatin’. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, the state I am in just plain sucks. And because I notice that ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids, we have a hard time admitting when things are less than ideal. And I get it, it’s way more fun to post a pic of their toothy little grins with captions like, “First day of school smiles!”. But that isn’t always real life and we know it. So here on this little space of mine, I am going to keep it honest, as I always try to do.

I sometimes call it “pre-school” because well, that sounds better. And I know they color a picture or two, do a worksheet, glance at a flashcard – but when your 3.5 year old is there for more than 2 hours…sorry but that’s daycare. No way around it.

Clara started going half-days, 3 days a week a couple of weeks ago and the decision was NOT easy. Apparently I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I would have loved for Clara to attend one of the more bougie places near our office but doling out $1,700+ a month just is not in the cards for us. We were challenged with striking the right balance of finding a place that was somewhat close by, reasonably clean, had A.C, would take her not fully potty trained, had qualified staff, and of course, was within our budget. So we toured some places, thought more about it, and decided we needed to just pick something, try it out, and see what happens.

Well, here’s what happened.

Morning of her first day – out of a movie. All smiles. Backpack on. Front porch pic.

We dropped her off with no problem at all, except for the fact that as soon as we walked out I began to ugly cry.

I composed myself before getting into the office and the hustle and bustle at work proved to be a great distraction until we received this text in the late morning.

And you know, because I am dramatic and have a sizable anxiety disorder, I did not take this news well. May as well tell me the Titanic went down again, or Tom Hanks died. I immediately started to panic and wanted to go pick her up but her Grandma was already slated to be there in an hour and they said she was having fun.

As soon as pickup time rolled around, I anxiously awaited the text from Grandma. I was hoping to hear that she ended up having the best day ever. Then I heard my phone go off and opened the message to see this photo:

MY HEART. My stomach sank down through the floor and I swear I blacked out momentarily (ok I am being a tad dramatic here, but I am painting a picture). Luckily for me, I work with both my BFF and my husband and they immediately reminded me that she is a covid kid, who needed a structured environment with other kids. That this is good for her. Daycare just kicked her a** but she is ok. I knew she also had fun, socialized, and laughed. I knew she needed this.

I guess what I did not know is…this would be the hardest EFFING thing I’ve ever had to do.

I try to repeat calming daycare mantras to myself when I feel the sadness welling up in my throat. “She is only there half-days”, “It’s only 3 days a week.”, “This is good for her.” BLAH BLAH BLAH. Alllll I want to do is go get her. I want to scoop her up and never let her go. I want to do each and every hard thing for her. I want to be the one to trip and fall and scrape my face instead. I want to shield her, hold her, protect her.

But like duhhhhhhhh I know I have to let her fall. And struggle. And experience hardship. And worse yet, if I don’t – she will turn out all messed up. I guess kids are kinda like soufflés in a way, there are periods where you just have to let them be. And as much as you want to check on them, baby them to be sure everything is going well, you can’t or else it ruins the outcome. More than anything I want Clara to be a strong, capable, badass – and if I follow my instincts I might rid her of those qualities.

As I have stated before, I learn so much each and every day not only about parenting and my kids, but more than anything about myself. And life. How much perspectives can change. I learn how much I don’t know. How much I will never know.

*Insert Jonie Mitchell’s, “Both Sides Now” (world’s greatest song)*

You choose to bring a kid into the world and you have to keep it alive by doing everything for it. Then it grows and instinctively starts to walk, run, talk, etc. It no longer needs you as much. For me, this is SO hard to swallow. I feel cheated, like I wasn’t warned. Sometimes I feel like I am expected to just be OK with the changes that happen as she gets older, but most of the time all of the time, I need a minute. To feel the loss, to try and appreciate and accept the change. (deep breath) I can get there.

To get back to our story, David and I left work that afternoon and I got home to my tired little lass.

I basically did not want to let her go until she was struggling out of my arms. I also inspected her scrapes and her knee actually took the brunt of it. Kids are so resilient, man. Look at the smile on her little scraped up mug.

Since her first day, we’ve had good and bad days. Mornings where she cries, clings to my legs, and says “Mommy take me home!”. And then just today when David dropped her off, she said “Daddy you can leave” and she plopped right down and started playing.

(another deep breath)

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know love
Really don’t know love at all