21 Weeks and Some Days, But Who’s Counting?

I’ve currently rolled over to 21 weeks, which I will refer to as the top of 21st now that I’m a baseball mom.

(I mean, teeball. And there are no innings in teeball…)

I’m thrilled to be past the halfway point, but the reality of all the unknowns briskly approaching are making me a little unsettled! With holidays thrown in this pregnancy, I know the latter half will fly by. Am I ready for the sleepless nights? Hauling a carrier everywhere in addition to two wiggly little boys? Are my other two going to adjust without issue? Do I need to rearrange rooms to create a baby girl nursery? When I consider these thoughts, I’m glad I still have until February!

I am, however, so antsy to meet this little girl.

Some bullet points I’d like to remember (or forget, maybe) about this baby girl pregnancy:

–I think The Lord knew I’d need to ache for this baby in order to survive this pregnancy! Ha I am nothing short of absolutely thrilled to be experiencing pregnancy, especially after a good while of praying for this baby. I like to think that made the past few months more bearable, but I’ve been frustrated with myself for STRUGGLING! I was sick with my boys, but I’ve never been sick like this. I’ve been conflicted with my nausea medication. It undeniably lessens the severity of nausea, but, as a trade off, I constantly feel foggy. It makes me forgetful, extra tired, and consequently irritable…but functioning.

The past four months have felt VERY similar to the time I mixed up DayQuil and NyQuil several years ago. Don’t worry– I avoid purchasing the joint packs now. If anyone else has accidentally popped a NyQuil at 10AM while needing to carry on with their normal, pressing responsibilities, you know the blurry, fighting-to-think feeling. Or, what, you haven’t done that?

Recent weeks have been lots of trial and error reconsidering medication, dosage, and trying some holistic methods. (I’m not really a “natural” person, but I AM a desperate person!)

Does sipping Coke all day count as holistic?

In the end, it’s not a big deal, but having two active kids and keeping a house afloat from the bathroom is rougher than I’d expected. Brian’s about burnt out picking up the slack, and we’re both ready for me to be ME again! In a larger version, of course.

–My house is a mess.

–I hate meat, especially chicken.
…but, I can do fish.

–Everything is suddenly spicy.

–I have heartburn every day. Tum’s new-ish “Smoothies” are not terrible.

–I suddenly hate avocado and tomato.

–I wouldn’t use the word “crave,” but the only food I’ve really enjoyed since July are apples, celery, and citrus. I splurge on Honeycrisp because I keep getting squishy apples when I veer off the Honeycrisp course. Squishy apples are the worst.

–I make myself carsick while driving. I feel like that’s similar to tickling yourself! How is that even real?

–Baby girl is still nameless, and for some reason, that makes people suspicious that we’re keeping it a secret.

–I’m carrying higher than I was with my boys. I clearly have a tummy, but am not quite in maternity pants yet; I’m not sure if that’s as awesome as it sounds. The alternative is wearing my own jeans that are obviously tighter than normal. Squishing a 22 week pregnant girl in normal jeans isn’t choice, but neither is constantly pulling up maternity jeans and having your bum fall out the back. I don’t know if my maternity jeans are stretched out from a previous pregnancy, I’ve been sick since July, my body is whack, or what, but it’s a confusing time. (Still, a tender, tender mercy for a pregnant girl whose first purchase was velvet maternity sweats).

–Fall weather in Las Vegas has been exquisite, and I don’t even use “exquisite” in my normal vocabulary. That’s the only word to adequately describe the manna from Heaven that are brilliant blue skies and cooler (for Vegas) weather…70s. Glorious. I’ve never been pregnant during this time of year, and THIS is where it’s AT!

–A wardrobe change is often required each time I sneeze. The combination of my current limited apparel options and the fact that I only get allergies while pregnant has made this fall problematic. Gus sang me a Daniel Tiger potty training song a few days ago. “If you have to go potty, STOP! and go right away. Wash, dry, and be on your way!” Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but if Gus spills my incontinence issues, I just would like to explain myself.

–This baby is on the move! This little girl has been fairly quiet inside until recently, and I’ve long awaited these wiggles! I absolutely LOVE the special time I have being the lone person who can sense her teeny movements when I lie down. It’s the utmost honor saved for a new mommy alone. Feeling my babies safe inside me during pregnancy could be my very, very, very favorite part of the whole nine month party.

–Thus far, I have escaped the very vivid, regularly occurring dreams of my teeth falling out that were common throughout my past two pregnancies. Ha! My teeth were always crumbling, loose, breaking off, disintegrating, or just gone. Weird, huh? I eventually Googled it, and, apparently, it’s one of the most common reoccurring dreams! Supposedly, it’s representative of anxiety or uncertainty about a change, or life transition.

Looks like my subconscious may not be as worried this time. 🙂

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From a Stylist: Hair Products That Are A Waste Of Money, Hair Products Worth The Splurge

People are always asking me how I have the most organized house.

LOL LOL LOL JK. No one has ever asked me that.

I DO get dozens of questions about haircare, though, since I’m a hair stylist (but I think it’s because I’m a hairstylist to really beautiful people) (not because I do much to my own hair during my first trimester) (as evidenced below on both counts).

Let’s do it. Let’s talk about hair product.

After nine years of salon experience, and dumping money into who knows how many hundreds of hair products, I’ve included my very favorite, tried and true products. While a good handful of items are a COMPLETE WASTE of money, I’ve found some little diamonds that are well worth every penny. I’m not loyal to any one brand, so the makers and price ranges vary! I don’t believe EVERY hair product needs to be professional. Am I allowed to say that?

Sidenote: I cannot (cannot cannot cannot) believe the number of people that are frustrated with their hair, but do not use ANYTHING in it. Maybe I can’t wrap my mind around that because I’m a stylist, but if you don’t like the way your skin looks, you put something on it, right? Makeup, lotion, something? If you don’t want frizz, use something in your hair.

I can change your color for you, but ultimately, your hair’s fate is in your hands.

That’s why, YES. YOU NEEEEEED at least ONE hair product in your own hair after washing. As a stylist, I usually use two or three:
1. A leave-in product for health/manageability (leave in conditioner, serum, balm, reconstructing lotion),
2. A product for styling (volumizing gel, mousse, sea salt spray, straightening lotions, etc), and
3. A product for finishing (hairspray, serum, oils, texturizing spray, etc).

If you choose just ONE product, a leave-in is most beneficial to your hair’s health. It coats your hair and adds a layer of protection against environmental factors, styling, and even water.

The following receive an Ashton Award (if Ashton Awards were real, I would prefer them be food related, but anyway) for being my favorite, general hair care items that I almost always have at the salon and can use on almost any hair type.

Best leave in leave in conditioner spray: Healthy Sexy Hair Tri Wheat Soy Leave In Conditioner. I use this on EVERY SINGLE CLIENT. It is perfectly light weight, adds moisture and slip to your hair. It allows you to comb through easily (gentle combing through tangled hair is THE easiest to avoid breakage issue, while rough combing the biggest perpetrator!)

*I would AVOID drugstore leave in conditioners as many tend to actually coat your hair with wax-y product, and over time, those layers and layers and layers of residue make it tough for me, your stylist, to get your color (specifically toner) just right. Toner cannot penetrate layers of built up hair product. Toner is what customizes lighter hair, and makes photos above achievable.

Best serum: Moroccan Oil. There are dozens and dozens of “Moroccan” knock offs, but this is my absolute favorite oil/serum. Even fine hair will appreciate the TLC (and smell!) of Moroccan Oil. Although the price tag is considerable, this bottle will easily last you a year. Use on wet hair as a leave-in, or dry hair to tame flyaways. (Paul Mitchell’s Super Skinny Serum is a second runner up.)

Best Hairspray: Meh. Don’t splurge on hairspray. While I think there are a handful of plain terrible, cement hairsprays at Walmart, most are all the same. (Don’t freak out at me, hairstylists.) Read the can, you know? You like strong hold? Get the strong hold. If not, don’t. That’s it! No need to spend much on hairsprays, but MY favorite that I constantly stock is Bed Head…mostly for the fragrance.

Best Blow Dry Spray: Goldwell Kerasilk Structure Balancing Treatment …but this isn’t necessary, honestly. I usually use one in the salon, but not at home on my own hair. It smooths out finished looks and perfumes the hair. It is one of my most asked, “Oh, what’s that amazing smelling one?”

Best Volumizing Product: This is a tough one, because what works for YOUR hair depends on YOUR hair type! My go-to Bumble and bumble Full Form Mousse, but I also love Big Sexy Volumizing Gel. Important!!: Work smallllll amount of product through the ends of hair (not just roots) for real volume. (I always recommend a mousse or gel over a spray because it’s easier to control. Sprays tend to get a little sticky if you get crazy…or the nozzle gets clogged and it sprays like a firehouse onto your scalp.)

Best deep conditioner: Enjoy Luxury Conditioner. Silky. That’s the only description you need. Luxurious and silky. I say “ehh” to having an amazing shampoo. The conditioner is where it’s at! (If you ever feel like a conditioner is too heavy, make sure you aren’t rubbing it in your scalp. Your scalp produces oil-a natural conditioner- so avoid the scalp and focus on the ends.) Close seconds: Redken All Soft Heavy Cream and Bumble and bumble Hair Dressers Invisible Oil Conditioner.

Best dry shampoo: Suave, man. Just plain ol’ Suave from the drugstore is, for blondes, comparable to every high end dry shampoo I’ve used. (If your hair is dark/red, try Bumble and Bumble’s tinted dry shampoo. It adds a little pigment, so your hair won’t look grey “dry shampoo-y.”)

Best Miracle Products

I made this category up, but these two are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE products that I cannot live without. There is NOTHING on the market like them, and, in my opinion, they’re real break-through items that give my clients the “Ah-ha! I’ve been trying to make my hair look like this for years!” results.

BEST SMOOTHING: Kerastase Keratin Thermique Leave-In Heat Protectant. YOU GUYS. If you suffer from dry hair, this. Just this. I have never, ever used a leave-in product that is THIS effective. Your hair will never, ever be smoother or softer…IF you use the right amount and blow dry it into your hair. It’s a heat protectant…it’s intended to be used with heat. It’s pricey, which is why my link is to a travel sized product so you can try it first. If I could afford to send every single blonde client home with this, I would.

BEST VOLUMIZING: Bumble and bumble Dryspun. Bumble and bumble blew my mind with this, and I keep one in my salon and one in my bathroom drawer. It’s fragrance is head turning (truly, everyyyy client I use it on asks about the smell). This finishing spray adds texture without nasty grit. Spray through the ends for mega-volume, piece-y beach waves, or textured ends. I love it on straight collarbone length styles as well as waved styles of any length.

I’ve linked the products I’ve mentioned below for your online browsing convenience, or stop by The Hair Standard in Las Vegas to pick up your new Bumble and bumble staples.

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My Thoughts on the Las Vegas Tragedy: Things That Surprise Me, Things I Want to Remember

Writing always helps one process information, so that’s all I’m doing here. Nothing deep. I just pay for this .com, you know? This is my space to clear my mind, which, today, the day after a major devastation in my city, is a jumble of polar opposite emotions and thoughts.

Sadly, tragedies are not rare.

I become too aware of this when I accidentally swipe right on my phone, and inadvertently see scary news headlines.

I don’t let myself watch the news anymore.

Still, I’m not ignorant to the goings on of this life.

I was caught off guard by the emotional turmoil felt community-wide when the largest US shooting happened miles from our home.

It wasn’t just on the news…it was real.

It was real, live, see-all-the-time friends that were there. It was our friends’ law enforcement husbands, who left their homes and sleeping children, to help. My friends, and even coworkers, who are mothers, wives, and daughters, were there, running through a gruesome scene to escape. Brian and I, and EVERYONE in our community, have heard stories and stories, from the witnesses that are even able to discuss them.

The terrible, gory sights. The buzz of bullets for nine minutes. The feel of a bullet next to you. The disorientation.

Other things I don’t even want to type here.

The juxtaposition of that and the whole-hearted, compassionate reaction from the city of Las Vegas (and the rest of the nation) is emotionally overwhelming. Strangers driving injured to the hospital. People donating anything and everything. A massive response to the dire need for blood donations, nationwide.

My friend Rachel posted about a Starbucks patron leaving $200 to spread around for drive through drink orders.
Lines of people wrapped around Costco as they purchased items to donate.
My kids were offered free balloons, just because.

Our town has made a noticeable, conscious effort to be kind.

It’s heavy. With both the bloodshed and caring outreach within hours, it’s a lot to process.

Even on an absolutely gorgeous, bright October day, it feels a lot darker.

What’s it like to watch world wide headlines develop in your hometown?

The news frequently gives updates. Reporters keep you in the loop and supply helpful information.

A couple days later, the world has (what feels to be like) the audacity to move on so quickly. CNN find new interesting stories. A Kardashian has other news.

And your city is left just blinking and disheveled…with its own hashtag. #(yourcity)strong

That’s what it’s like (according to me).

It’s really, really…confusing?

Just for my own record, my experience was this:

Brian caught a glimpse of the tragedy (I can’t even say it) on his phone. It was immediately after it happened on October 1, right before we went to bed. He said, “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.” At the time, just two deaths had been confirmed.

I told him I couldn’t hear about it before bed. Brian knows this about me. I can’t check my bank account or watch the news before bed because I can’t be in an adulting state of mind and expect to fall asleep. Besides, it was my son’s birthday the next morning!

The next morning, we woke up to several missed calls and texts from out of state friends and family. Brian said, “Babe, I think whatever happened last night was really bad because people are checking on us.”

I stayed glued to my phone, the news…and then we didn’t talk about it the rest of the day to be fun birthday parents! I didn’t want the mood to seep into my son’s birthday, especially because I already didn’t get him the presents he wanted. (Whoops.)

There was a pit in my stomach that I couldn’t shake. With 22,000 people in attendance, and almost 600 passed away or injured, I knew, knew, knew that I’d know someone. I just felt sick.

I took my kids to Chuck E Cheese so I could be on my phone more discreetly while they played and account for close friends.

The names slowly started coming in. The people that had passed, the people that were hurt, the people not responding and missing…

I was teary all day. Nothing had happened to me, personally, and my friends were all shaken, but okay. We felt SO, SO blessed. That’s why I felt being teary was odd.

I received countless texts from sweet friends in my area, trying to figure out what to do. What was needed? Is everyone in our area alright? Does anyone need babysitters to donate blood or take food to the long lines or police stations? I have really, truly caring friends.

Brian came home from work early. He said it just felt weird, and no one was productive.

My son had been asking to revisit a specific restaurant since February, and we’d promised him we’d go for his birthday; however, it’s located right behind The Strip. Reroute.

He was absolutely not having it. He’d been begging to go to the “chop chop restaurant” all summer.

And you know how moms are with guilt.

We went. We made the trek.

It felt haunted. I drove on the much-quieter-than-usual freeway adjacent to The Strip. What is usually packed, rush hour traffic was smooth sailing, but I still couldn’t look away from Mandalay Bay’s clearly missing windows. The visible concert stage looked like it was untouched. I tried to put out of my mind what I also knew was still there, untouched, as the scene was still being thoroughly processed. My car being just yards away felt horribly disrespectful…even though I was on a freeway. I immediately thought of the families, particularly those that had gathered in the area that morning to search for loved ones. (Many personal belongings of thousands, including phones and cars, were still at the inaccessible “scene,” and injured had been scattered to multiple hospitals across Las Vegas.)

Rather than glittering advertisements, the giant casino signs flashed one of three messages on a black screen. Something along the lines of:

To locate a missing loved one, please call 888…
Blood donations needed
Our prayers are with the victims families, and our gratitude to our first responders.

I held back tears again. Because, BIRTHDAY! Because, MOM GUILT! How could I be crying on my son’s birthday he was SO looking forward to for months?!

I also wondered, why am I crying? How dare I, a healthy, safe person, with a happy family, cry here?

I felt like praying would be more appropriate, and even though I’m religious, I wondered, what am I praying for, exactly?

I felt a little put off by the thousands of people out of state posting “Pray for Vegas.” Did they mean it? Do they know the bloodshed, exactly, as they drink their Pumpkin Spice Latte in the other hand? Do they really understand how our friends and friends’ families ran out of there with a smattering of strangers’ blood on their clothes, and ran and ran and ran? Do they know the heroes of this city that literally, without exaggeration, saved hundreds?

(So, again…why am I the one crying as I’m driving to dinner?)

I felt little flutters of a new life inside me, and that made me so overwhelmed/comforted/happy/anxious, all within the same second.

We had a fun dinner (which I also felt a little guilty/eerie about), and saw multiple candlelight vigils on street corners on the way home.

After kissing my kids, squeezing them extra tightly, and getting them in bed, Brian and I hopped back on the news and our phones. That’s when I started noticing strange Facebook posts about the Las Vegas catastrophe being a conspiracy.

Um, what?
Really?

I know better to comment on Facebook, but I did unfriend these people, for the record. (Haha)

I also noticed how quickly people flipped a switch from “Praying for Las Vegas!” “Love Las Vegas!” posts to infuriated Second Amendment related debates.

All while candles were being lit and prayers said at our local parks.

I’m unsure about what my personal reaction to all of this is. Confusion? Hope? Impressed by the kindness of my city? Fear for this world?

I’m not sure what the correct written response is. I’m not sure how the uninjured but shaken general public is supposed to act, feel, or what to say. I AM very thankful my kids aren’t old enough to require explanation.

Just had to write this all down, and highlight for my future reference this one thing: the genuinely compassionate, generous, and overall GOOD people may not always make themselves apparent, but they’re there and ready to give a good fight, and those people far outnumber the opposite. There is unyielding, immovable strength in kindness, unity, and service.

Teach this to your kids, Ashton.

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Birthday Eves: The Most Bittersweet Nights of the Year

I don’t believe I understood the definition of bittersweet in it’s entirety until my kids started having birthdays. As much as I cringe at the thought of my babies getting older, it is SO fun to see them grow into fun, new stages.

(And, like, feed themselves.)

Gus turns four, and it’s one of those bittersweet, birthday eve nights. I surrender my self control and browse baby photos while crying and eating chips (and Tums, this year).

Dads don’t get like this, right?

Maybe it’s because women are more hormonal.

Maybe it’s because dads don’t save 12,094 photos on their phones.

Or maybe, for me, it’s because four years ago right this second, I was experiencing one of, if not the, most magical, exciting nights of my life. I was about to become a mom…a completely unknown identity.

Four years ago at this exact moment, I was well into an almost sixteen hour labor that was a whirlwind of emotions.

My water broke that late morning, and since I’d already been sent home from triage a few days before, I questioned the source of the fluid for a while…

I ate a tiny bit on the way to the hospital, but I was too nervous.

I loved being hooked up to a monitor in the hospital to hear his heart beating all night.

The anesthesiologist was a family friend, I loved my doctor and nurses.

My mom brought pumpkin cookies to everyone, and I was starving and jealous.

Only Brian and I were in the room when I had Gus. It was the most peaceful moment of my life.

When my doctor placed my seconds old baby on my chest, that was it. I was a mom. I was one of those women who instantaneously loved. I obsessed over him. I was shocked that this actual human had been inside me this whole time, but I felt like I’d known this baby forever.

After a long labor, Gus was pretty banged up. He had a swollen eye that didn’t open for about five days…but I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Ever. In my life. (Brian later said he disagreed, which makes me laugh hysterically when I look at Gus’s brand new, cone head, bent nose baby photos from the hospital. He became the beautiful child I saw him as a few weeks later. 😊 )

This boy has been THE happiest, agreeable, easy going, hilarious best buddy. He is kind. He is gentle. He is SUPER physical, and that spills over to all aspects of his life. He’s a runner, climber, toucher, kisser, and cuddler. He is friendly and social. His memory and sense of direction leaves me speechless. He worries about the happiness of the people around him, and if he questions your mood, he’ll directly ask you if you’re happy.

He WILL make you laugh.

He is just learning how to play WITH friends, rather than side by side.

He loves all sports (he refuses to narrow it down when we ask), “emergency vehicles,” hanging out with boys that are five years older than him, his finger in his nose, the beach, snail and lizard catching, cleaning supplies, has his daddy’s sweet tooth, loves salty olives, pickles, and capers like his mama, and is best, best, best buddies with Roscoe.

We are so happy to celebrate my no-longer-toddler Gus all day.

I can’t wait to spend another year with Gus leading the way, teaching me all the unknowns of motherhood I have yet to experience.

A few of the photos that bring the water works because Gus has always just been so GUS:

About to have Mr. Gus right here.

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