Pocket full of sunshine

If dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago,

Who’s to say mermaids don’t live in oceans far below?

When the sun sinks below the hills we know it’ll rise again,

So why’s it crazy to think legs could be replaced with a fin?

Ask me not of the many things one knows but cannot see,

Ask instead what lights the way toward endless possibilities.

Is it the heart that beats to a drum only it knows how to hear?

Or the voice that whispers comfort when you’re full of fear.

Miracles happen every day, everywhere.

You only have to seek to find the magic in the air.

______________

Today we took the Shrimpresses to their first puppet show at Bob Baker Marionette with Oh Joy! It was basically as if a Mom Blogger’s Instagram came to life. Everyone had their kids dressed in the cutest little outfits, and every where you looked there was a colorful setting staged for selfies.

Then there was Zee Shrimpress, hair tangled, shirt from last night, mismatched shorts we just barely convinced her she needed to wear to “see puppets”, and the biggest, most joyful look on her face. She has a way of forcing us to remember that nothing in the world matters more than family.

As she chased kids around roaring like a dinosaur, with her baby sister looking on in admiration, we couldn’t help but be wrapped into her world.

Her world where you can be a dinosaur looking for your next meal (friends), only to turn into a bird and fly away (because Mama gave ya some introvert genes for good measure), then off on your unicorn as a warrior princess to save your baby sister from attacks (said friends who are excited to have found someone smaller than themselves). And that is all under five minutes.

Her world where mermaids, unicorns, dragons, princesses, “octopuses”, whales, cowboys, and of course dinosaurs, all coexist in harmony.

My magical little Shrimpress, please don’t ever lose that sparkle.

xx

Advertisements

This thing called love

“Mama, hand. Hand, Mama”

Lili reaches for me blindly in the night and grasps onto my hand tightly. She’s supposed to be sleeping. We’re supposed to be sleeping. And from the strength of her grip I know she’s still awake.

I listen to the hushed breathing of Ella suckling me, while I savor the small, but mighty grip of my firstborn.

She’s so independent these days. She’s fierce and funny. She’s trying her boundaries…testing ours. She’s exercising her voice and mastering her will.

She pushes us.

She teaches us.

She teaches me to stop. That life isn’t so busy and nothing is more important than pretending to be horseys or dinosaurs with a toddler. 

She teaches me money is nice, but imagination is priceless.

She teaches me there’s nothing more beautiful in the world than joy. Joy bursting through a roar of laughter. Joy twinkling through the crinkle of scrunched up eyes. Joy heard through the excitement of a tiny human calling you over to “Here! Sit Down!”  

She clutches me as she falls to sleep. If I make a move to reposition she’s instantly grasping to keep my hand wrapped around hers. In her tiny fingers I feel the love of a million hearts.

As my brain runs through all the things I need to do at work. All they ways we need to balance finances. All the ways life would be better if just…

Her little hand wraps itself around my distracted thoughts. “Here Mama, sit down. Hand Mama.”

And my three year old does what I still can’t seem to master after thirty years. She quiets my wayward inner dialog. She teaches me there is nothing more perfect than this. A little hand. A little voice.

“Hand, Mama. Hand.”

A Shrimpress Story

This is the story of how my heart exploded.

Bucket List

On May 17, 2014 Zee Hubs and I paced around the apartment counting contractions. We snacked on what we expected to be the last “real food” for the weekend, tried to bide our time with a movie and counted…minutes….seconds….contractions.

Contractions had actually started on Thursday when our doctor had informed me I was already 6 cm. dilated (DOUBLING DOWN from last week’s 3 cm.). Zee Hubs had canceled the conference he was supposed to speak at in San Diego under the knowing proclamation that she’d be seeing us later that afternoon. But that afternoon came and went and though the contractions were technically in the holy grail of the 5:1 ratio they didn’t seem to “hurt the way I thought they should”. So we tried to sleep through the night, which meant Zee Hubs snored away while I awoke every few min. with each sharp jab in the gut.

Friday was not much different except the pain had increased and I was frantically trying to wrap up projects at work that I’d thought I’d have at least another week to finish based on her revised due date of May 23rd. Turns out the German genes are strong with this one, as she chose to stick to her original ETA. Friday night I was a bundle of nerves. While Zee Hubs slept, I was beyond able to sleep with regular contractions so I finished packing the hospital bag, bounced on the exercise ball, took a bubble bath and to Instagram (See Also: Without my husband I’d probably have ended up delivering at home with my insane avoidance of any form of doctor).

6tag_170514-013007

But Saturday sh*t got real. The pain was escalating, but more than that was receiving very good advice from a friend that if I waited too long I might be too exhausted to push from lack of sleep. #truth

So being the good German he is, Zee Hubs declared the game plan would be to go in at noon unless my water broke any earlier.

Surreal.

Surreal is willingly going somewhere knowing that your life will be irrevocably different when you return.

6tag_220514-134949

My water hadn’t broke by itself, and I was slightly terrified that if I waited too long the baby would end up being delivered sans epidural because SIX CENTIMETERS you guys! So we checked ourselves in with excitement, dread, impatience and all the oh-my-gosh-this-is-happening feelings.

As Lilibean took her sweet time making her way to the world we decided to have the doctor break my water if it got much later. At 6 PM she was still playing “not touching, I’m not touching” with that last barrier keeping her safely swimming in her little amniotic pool. This barrier being insignificant in size, yet paramount as the only thing separating me from pregnancy and mamahood. Game on.

After the doctor broke my water all fears of water breaking in public or on our new king sized bed were realized – Holy Old Faithful! With every contraction a new gush of “Lili’s pool” flooded out. Along with it was the sudden pain of full on contractions, which seemed to go from zero to ONE HUNDRED immediately. The nurse knowingly smiled as she noted, “now it feel like a real 7 on that pain scale, huh?” – I stabbed her repeatedly with my eyes.

At this point I was playing how-long-can-I-last-without-an-epidural, while Zee Hubs looked at my face and made the decision.

Not long. The answer was not long at all.

Again I am reminded that without him I am pretty sure I would be dead somewhere for my crazy anti-medical ways.

The epidural was pure bliss delivered from a saint. And basically if any of you are med students you should just go ahead and become an anesthesiologist, because you will be reminded every day of how you are God’s gift to Earth from sweaty beaming, crazy-eyed gracious mamas-to-be.

{Warning to all future mamas when they say the epidural will take about an hour to kick in they are not messing around. Plan accordingly.}

By the time the pure, liquid gold epidural kicked in I was swept away to a beautiful land of sparkles and unicorns bouncing around on pink puffs of heart-shaped, cotton candy clouds. Having never done any form of drugs previously, this may have just proven to become my gateway experience (I kid. I kid.). But pink, sparkly dreams were interrupted when the doctor swung by to see when she’d have to come back that night. Turns out life without her pool was decidedly less fun and Lilibean wanted to join the cool crowd. With plans to come back later canceled, the nurses prepped us for pushing.

Around 8 PM I started pushing. With Zee Hubs dishing out ice chips and supporting my back, I followed the nurse and doctor’s requests to bear down and push for the count of ten. This is where I would like to say all my exercises with the epi-no truly paid for its outrageous shipping and handling cost. This is not the case.

After thirty minutes the doctor may or may not have caught on that sometimes I didn’t push for the whole 10 seconds (HEY! I WAS EXHAUSTED AND THE DRUGS PROMISED SWEET, GLORIOUS SLEEP). They asked if I’d like to have a mirror brought in to see the baby’s head. Rational me said “Hells to the no”. Unfortunately drugged up me was much more assertive and convincing, so by the next contraction I was peeping at the perfect circle of Liliana’s little head of hair – also known as the end of sexy time.

The doctor thought this would motivate me, but in actuality it really just pissed me off as I saw the miniscule movement I made with every push sink back as soon as I finished. Gonna. Be. Like. That. Huh.

But within another 30 minutes I was being told to stop pushing as our doctor brought our daughter into the world.

In an instant, the landmark moment of our lives, she pulled Lilibean into our world, placing her tiny body on my chest for us to meet her. Our daughter.

Zee Shrimpress was the most beautiful, breathtaking thing I have ever seen in my life. My heart bursts daily when I look at her and realize this little person has somehow been brought into our lives, and that the universe miraculously entrusted us with the honor of being her parents. Any doubt of whether she’d be cute or fear that I may suffer from postpartum depression was swiped away with one look at her tiny, perfect being.

And then I threw up. (epidural aftermath y’all)

WP_20140518_063B

Liliana Irene Armstrong

Born May 17, 2014 at 22:42 PST

7 lbs. 19″ of pure perfection

This one’s for the girls…

As days of sparkling rings, beautiful bouquets and glamorous gowns begin to mix with precious soles for tiny toes and miniature couture, I find two women creating a beautiful bridge between these two worlds. Just in time for Zee Shrimpress’ impending arrival…

Marie of EmiciBridal was a glorious find during my days of wedding pining planning! Her handmade creations are of another world. One of delicate, elfin satins and chiffons, of carefully crafted petals and gems painstakingly placed to perfection. From hair accessories to bouquets and so much more, her creations inspire Audrey Hepburnesque fantasies of Tiffany’s and diamonds.

But don’t take my word for it. Just take a sneak peak at the below sampling and try not to immediately start planning your future wedding… or devising how you can get married again (Vow Renewal anyone?)

Emici Bridal Collection

 

Single Bloom

 

{Photos curated from owner Emici Bridal}

Luckily for Zee Hubs, as I was busy scheming how to convince him we needed to renew our vows (after only 3 years)…I was introduced to the delightfully talented Kelly Schell of LoveCrushBowtique – also known as the most adorable thing to happen to your Instagram feed since #puppiesofinstagram.

Like Marie, Kelly hand designs her awwdorable collection of accessories with the love and fine detail as only a mommy of little princesses could. A lot of other Etsy owners may attempt to mimic her beautiful feathered bands and dainty, lace crowns, but she has a unique style that embodies the romanticism of fairytales. And it’s translated to every precious adornment she shares.

She is for little girls, what Emici Bridal is for big girls. A stolen moment of princesshood…

bittycown

Feather Bands

Tiara Band{Curated from Owner LoveCrushBowtique}

The magical imaginations of these beautifully, talented designers are TOO.MUCH.TO.HANDLE. So I naturally had to share them with all of you. Because it’s so much more fun turning what would be productive days into Aww’s! and Oooh’s! when I know you’re out there doing the same.

And if Marie or Kelly happens to come across this love letter…then yes. Yes ladies, I am crushing on your boutiques/bowtiques…Crushing hard.

xo

She’s crafty!…Bachelorette Swag DIY style

MY BEST FRIEND IS GETTING MARRIED IN ONE MONTH! ONE MONTH YOU GUYS!

This is exciting stuff. And in honor of her countdown to the chapel, I’ll going to be posting some of my fav. wedding Robin Hooding loot over the next month.

Starting with one of my very own!

When my little Pocket Jenny (because she is literally the size of a Polly Pocket…I kid you not) decided to have her bachelorette in LA, to say I was excited would be an understatement. I had pretty-woman-sans-prostitute-thing-with-real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-a-dash-of-clueless-and-a-splash-of-beaches visions dancing in my head. This would be epic.

But the reality of anything destination for a wedding is that it’s all about mixing your splurge-worthy items with your savvy-saves – unless you’re marrying a millionaire, then splurge all the way to Bora Bora where there are huts OVER WATER. So to make sure it was an unforgettable weekend, the bridesmaids all collaborated ideas, personal touches and big plans for a girly, special and personalized weekend at the beach.

One of our savvy-saves were theses fun “kits” that I made as a surprise “Welcome to LA – The Real Bachelorette of Beverly Hills” gift for everyone. Based on the “kit” idea, they mixed a little practical (PINK DRINK CUPS) with unnecessary fun (mini-tiaras). So for any of you looking for a sweet, savvy way to gift your girls, hope this give you some inspiration!

IMG_0929

What you need:

  • Drink Container – There are tons of options. Target has little mason jars with straws, you can get any number of water bottle varieties or make your own. I chose pink ones similar to this from Sports Authority.
  • Adhesive labels (basically stickers to stick your design to the cup) – You can also find these a few places, but I found ones large enough at Staples and chose opaque ones to make sure you could read the saying. However, we found out that when they were wet from condensation the print would rub off, so next time I’d put a protective spray over top.
  • Mini charms – These double as name tags and drink tags! {I can’t find them online, but they are in the wedding section of Michael’s Craft stores and come in packs of 4 I believe}
  • A Metallic Paint Pen – To write on the bottles {Also can’t find the link but got it at Michael’s}
  • Then you just fill the inside with any fun, personal items for your bride and girls! Fun ideas include mini tiaras or something to all wear during the party weekend, snacks or gum, chap stick, lotion, nail polish, anything cute and small!

For the outer decoration, I wanted to have a quote for the weekend which is what I used the sticker for. I went with “Tan Lines May Fade, but Memories Last Forever” inspired by our beachy theme {My Pinterest Inspo}. Using the paint pen, I also added each girl’s name and role or relationship to the bride.

IMG_0934

On the lid I used the mini charms for each girls initial, which I tied to the top with a small ring as a “drink tag”.

IMG_0935

The inside was filled with fun snacks including Luna bars, some favorite candies and gum, as well as some bachelorette necessities like heart-shaped sunglasses and of course glowing rings! Then I topped them off with mini-tiaras (I got these from a party supply store, but this link also has them on Amazon) and voila! Cute DIY gifts that any bachelorette party can enjoy!

IMG_0942

 

Hope you enjoy this super simple, fun idea to shower your girls!

What are some of the fun DIY projects have all your crafty brides and bridal party pro’s whipped up?

xo

27 Weeks Later

I  have a confession. I am an alien host.

Or so my ever sensitive German Hubs likes to remind me over the new AM ritual of watching my belly move in waves while Zee Shrimpress practices her gymnastics skills. Pregnancy really is an amazing experience, but it’s also not ALL the glow and “cute belly” you hear about. Nothing I’m about to share will be any new, ground-breaking news. Plenty of blogs, books and uncensored friends will tell you the same thing. But here we are 27 weeks. Less than 100 days to go.

Sharing is Caring

To each their own on the 12 week rule. But let me tell you from a place of severe nausea…through 17 weeks. I seriously questioned whether that 12 week rule was really created by spiteful Moms who wanted everyone else to suffer as they had…But in all seriousness, this is a very personal decision but having a support group who can offer comfort and tips – especially one including friends who may have a little more recent experience with pregnancy than your Mom – can really help when you’re going through the exciting but scary, and potentially nauseating (literally) first few weeks of creating life. Because, by the way, THAT is a really big deal.

Baby Belly

The right of passage. The mark of a mama. The cute week by week belly pics! Because we all secretly want to be as stylish, creative and beautiful as adorbs mommy-to-be Jessica of Little Baby Garvin

MonthbyMonth

Not my story. I wish the sweet expanding evidence of your precious bundle for all of you, but unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) my belly didn’t “pop” until late in the game. This I later found out was true for most of my friends with their first pregnancy. So if you find your abs decide to show they were in fact there in existence all along, as they fight the fight against your growing baby. 1.) Appreciate that “Hey! I had a pretty kick ass body after all!” 2.) Be patient, because inevitably that little one will win out. It just might be more like 6 or 7 months along.

Making “her” presence known at #25weeks (which was actually during week 26, but not to be confused with 26 weeks…more on that below)

BabyBumpSelfie-Authenticity

Measure to your own stick 

Some mamas become pros at telling time and measurements. They start counting in weeks, then days. Lbs. to ounces. But if you’re like me pregnancy may be a bit of a haze from double lines to “oh hey, there’s less than a 100 days until we have a little person to keep alive…”. I’m finding that depending on the book, app, tracker, or whatever your ruler of choice may be, the “months” and “weeks” of your pregnancy may be slightly confusing. The Pregnancy HD app seems to help rush you along a little, in that it shows which week you are IN vs. which week you’ve completed like the BabyCenter App.

Some fun apps, sites and people that I’ve tried/followed based on recommendations from Jennifer Stano (AKA epitome of stylish Mama and future bestie – she just doesn’t know it yet;))

BabyCenter

BabyCenter has been my go-to for it’s basic, straightforward updates. However the comparison of the baby to veggies/fruit sizes is totally confusing. Somehow the baby goes from the size of a spaghetti squash to the size of a mango…pretty sure that’s smaller…

{Note: They do chance their measurements from size, length and weight, but Zee  Hubs and I found it a little funny}

Other fun apps are shared on JS’ Instagram for Nikosfavoriteproducts:

Slide2

By the time she posted this we were already relatively far along, so I haven’t used a lot of the others much. But I did like the interface for Sprout Baby and Pregnancy HD. They were both more visual than the BabyCenter app, but in general most apps seem to have similar components: Week by Week information, Checklists, Kick Trackers, places for your appointments and Registry ComponentsWonderWeeksWord from the crib is that The Wonder Weeks will become your sanity after your baby makes his or her entry into the world. Recommended by JS and other friends, it’s an informative guide to help understand the changes your baby continues to go through after leaving the womb.

READ.ALL.THE.THINGS.

No really don’t. Unless you have time and love getting all the details, don’t feel the pressure to read everything. Instead find your Board of Mamas – 3-5 close friends who’s lifestyles and parenting styles you like – and ask them for their recommendations, copies of birth plans, lists of things that you absolutely need for baby and YOURSELF, etc. And then throw in a spa day thank you for them 😉

For the reads that you do want to do on your own, it’s really up to you and your hubby. But basically the “What to expect” types are largely the same things you’ll read online from sites like BabyCenter, Pregnancy, etc. Some books that I’ve found really helpful and clicked with our personal style are:

Baby Bargains Bringing Up Bebe Kiss me

Baby Bargains is a popular book, but one I didn’t hear about until one of my Baby Board Members sent it my way after repeated texts of “Does this matter?…What about this?…What’s the best brand for this!?…”. It’s packed with product and brand information, but also really helpful, quick summaries on why things are considered “better” or “safer” than others. I recommend getting the physical copy so you can tab it, post it, mark it up!

Bringing Up Bebe was another friend recommendation. It’s really clicked for us personally because the philosophy is about understanding your baby, being observant to their patterns and cycles, setting boundaries but with room to learn and why not making your baby the epicenter of the world might be better for them an you. Quick, insightful and enjoyable!

Kiss Me: How to Raise Your Child with Love – Jennifer Stano, if you ever come across this post, you’ve been my Fairy-New-Mommy-Mother. JS posted a quote/pic on Instagram from reading this, which stuck me. So this was one of my first reads and I loved pretty much all of it. It’s not necessarily a parenting guide (though can be taken that way), but more asks pointed questions about why we believe and do what we do in parenting. From a psychological standpoint, we really clicked with this one! For example it talks about reprimanding babies when they don’t share their toys, but then flips that to think of it within context. So, when was the last time you let a stranger borrow your phone or your purse?…go on…right? Love it or leave it, I think it’s a great reminder to not see things through your babies eyes.

Not pictured, but an OBVIOUS watch/read for us was Happiest Baby on the Block. Brilliance people. Brilliance.

So what about all you mommy-to-be’s and full-fledged mommies? What have been your favorite finds and discoveries along this process?

When I wake up…

napsfixeverything

Throwing sparkles and pink streamers around the room, I didn’t know. When I picked up my best friends from LAX, I didn’t know. Dressing up, singing, dancing, poolside bathing. I didn’t know.

Rides along the pier and handstands in the sand. All the while I didn’t know.

But I thought. I dreamt. I hoped.

And after the girls went home and the haze of the weekend’s distractions cleared, we found out.

We were pregnant.

After all the angst and unfounded, crazy fears, we had created a perfect little life. We were going to be meeting our precious little Shrimpress.

24 weeks later, Zee Hubby’s office has moved out to be replaced with a princess’ crib, complete with chandelier and crown overlooking where Zee Shrimpress will dream. We’ve survived 17 weeks of “morning” sickness (a cruel misuse of the word in every sense). We’ve seen her twirling in my tummy and felt her funny little feet kicking. She’s a dancer.

It’s crazy to know that in 4 short months our lives will be forever changed. Our hearts will forever be open, vulnerable to ever tear, giggle, fear of this little person. In the 6 months of knowing she’d be joining us (did YOU know pregnancy is actually 10 months long?…), our world has already been turned upside down. What we once thought important somehow seems silly and irrelevant. New priorities form every day the closer we get to her arrival, the more we realize what we want for her. What we dream for her…

And oh what glorious dreams they are…

dreams

#YOLO

Paris. Amor. Lavender. Tiffany’s. Bubbles. Champagne. Tory Burch. Aqua. Sparkles. Purple. Teal. Diamonds. and Fairy Tales…

And Fairy Tales…

Because my little Yuri only gets married once. Because you only live once. You only love once.

#YOLO

Paris with Love

Teal Ombre

{Teal Ombre Bridesmaid Dresses}

Lavender Ombre

{Purple Ombre Bridesmaids Dresses}

The layout

{Mixes of Turquoise and Violet}

The eats

{DIY Ombre Sugar Hearts for the Guests – Tutorial}

{Frozen Fruits and Champagne Jello Shots}

Eat Cake

{Ombre cake with Gilded Detail}

Bouquet

{Beautiful Bouquet}

Flower Arrangements

{Colored glass and lavender florals}

Tory BurchOh Tory…

Get Social

{Instagram and Love Notes}

Puppy

{Puppy Love}

But most importantly…