I’ll Take ANY Beach, BUT…

Disneyland had just opened when my grandparents got married, and that’s where they honeymooned. Now, they absolutely love Disneyland and sharing all things Disney with their family. I believe it could be because it’s still just the way it was when they visited in the 50s. Every time they go back, regardless of their age, it’s still romantic, magic, and youthful.

I feel that same way about a few beaches.

Beaches are all relaxing and revitalizing, right?

There are a couple of beaches that are more than that to me. They still have a little sizzle. Each time I visit these particular beaches, I’m suddenly about seventeen. Even hauling toys and kids, something about that ocean air and familiar landscape makes me feel…what is it? Carefree? Fun? No, it’s more alive than that. There is something that’s still smoldering…just barely, but it’s there. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s all the positive feelings of seventeen: carefree, unaware of major responsibility, living life on a whim, fun, easy. It’s that little buzz of excitement, like seeing a text from a cute new acquaintance.

Maybe it’s just de ja vu, or maybe that energy really does still linger at these beaches, fossilized in every tide pool I’d explored at seventeen.

Either way, these beaches make me FEEL. They breathe life into a tired mom.

My sister and I can’t avoid wading into the high tide, even if it just a “walk on the beach at sunset like mature people” outing. She is in high school now, so maybe these will become her beaches, too.

I think everyone has a special place like this.

I hope everyone has a special place like this.

Continue Reading

It’s Possible We Were Overzealous in Planning Family Vacations

Because I am LDS, everyone thinks I am:

a. From Utah.
b. Traveling to Utah.

I get it, but just wondering…does everyone do that to their Latin friend when HE goes on vacation? “Oh, Juarez again?”
Weekends with friends? “I bet the weather is great in Tijuana.”
Visits family? “Have fun in Guadalajara!”

No, because that’s racist, and he’s a third generation Peruvian from Milwaukee.

I’m the cookie cutter blonde hair, blue eyed Mormon chick, but I’m not from Utah, nor do I often visit it…although I LOVE Utah, and I would totally move there.

Totes.

Alas, this time, it’s true. I WENT TO UTAH. Back to the motherland!

For the first time EVER, my little family made the drive north together and enjoyed time with both sides of our family. Brian’s sister Courtney was an awesome host for the Fourth of July, and then we ventured out to my grandparents’ house to celebrate my grandma’s big 8-0.

I did not even completely unpack before repacking. This summer has been the epitome of “work hard, play hard,” working 12-14 hour days in between leaving town. I think I prefer a “work normally, just go to bed at 9” lifestyle.

Continue Reading

Are You Killing Your Hair This Summer? Stylist Tips To Save Your Hair

They say holding a seashell to your ear will give you the sound of ocean waves. Sometimes, though, if you get a few hair strands caught between, you will hear your hair screaming.

Or playing Lauren Hill’s “Killing me Softly.”

Because you’re killing your hair all summer.

Hair murders are convicted summer after summer. I’ve been a hair murderer, as have half of my clients. Often, stylists can tell the difference between broken hair caused by chemical damage, and broken hair caused by…TBD. Sometimes, it is self-inflicted. While many of my clients worry their dryness is caused by going lighter from the spring, a peek at their hair leads me to believe otherwise.

Most hair needs a trim by the end of the season, but let me share with you easy ways to keep your hair as intact as possible.

Ponytails can cause breakage. I know. How can you not have a ponytail in the pool? If you’re a consistent ponytail kind of girl, try mixing up the location on your head so the stress points on your hair varies. If you wear your wet hair up, it’s extra prone to breakage. Think about all that extra tension the weight of wet hair causes. Makes sense, right? Using metal-free ponytail holders can help, and consider a braid every once and a while. (Or, consider forgoing hair ties altogether and just flip your hair around like Ariel. She always had her hair down and flowing in all those oceanic currents, and she was fine, so IDK, maybe we’re all just high maintenance.)

Hats. They cover your hair. Need I say more?

Use leave in ANYTHING. THIS. IS. IMPORTANT. What would your skin be like if you used NOTHING to protect or hydrate it all summer? Chapped, in pain, maybe bleeding? Dry at best? Your hair is no exception! Protect it from the elements using even just ONE professional product. It can be a leave in conditioner, a serum, an aerosol shine spray, whatever! Having ANY barrier from heat/salt water/chlorine is better than none at all. Even if you don’t use a professional shampoo and conditioner, you absolutely need a leave-in product of choice…or don’t complain about your hair snapping off.

‘Cause it will.

Use a serum/leave in before brushing. Pool and beach hair can leave your hair more tangled than usual. Take your tiiiiiime to brush though your hair softly. Do you ever just rip through it really quickly? Stop doing that. Use a serum or leave in conditioner to add a little slip and make combing wet hair easier. Consider keeping a little travel size serum in your beach bag with a wide tooth comb.

Air dry your hair dry. Wait, should I have made this post a poem? I guess it’s too late for a hair haiku. Anyway, increased pool/beach activities and sweating generally leads to more frequent hair washing. Prevent further damage from styling by letting your hair air dry if possible. Or, just use a dry shampoo and don’t let your significant other tell you NOTHIN about personal hygiene.

Continue Reading

Family Vacation: The Ultimate Involuntary Workout

The ultimate summer workout doesn’t involve much gym time, but I can promise this: you will be sore, and you will be tired.

It is called “family vacation.”

Total body workout includes:

1. CARDIO. Your cardio routine will begin as soon as your car is put in reverse backing out of the driveway. Run back into the house at least five times for forgotten items. Did you adjust the thermostat? Did you remember the iPad charger? Are you sure you locked the front door? Really sure? Way to go the extra mile and hurdle over the garage door sensor on your way back out the third time. I am convinced that traveling with a large family is how Bruce Jenner stayed in decathlon shape, back when his family was young, and back when he was a he.

2. UPPER BODY. When you’ve got ninos in the backseat, upper body is what your car’s co-pilot seat is all about. You’ll have the opportunity to stretch unused muscles and contort yourself while fishing for dropped items. It would be unfathomable to wait another 20 minutes until you stop at Jack in the Box to rescue that Paw Patrol figurine wedged in the seat crack between Graham crackers. It’s just like having Jillian Michaels yelling at you…for free!

You may have a seat belt rash on your neck from being nearly decapitated, but did I not promise you soreness?

3. LOWER BODY. Unloading the car will provide you with ample squatting/ bending/lifting opportunities. If you’ve got a great workout support team like I do, they’ll hide necessities all over the car and keep you running back to get them, individually. Oh, wait. The wipes. Oh, and where’s his other shoe? Oh…the stinky diaper. Did we leave that in the trunk? Good looking out, team. At least when you arrive up the elevator for the third time, your family will switch up the USA chant for, “M-O-M! D-A-D!”

Just kidding, they won’t care, but they will point out that you dropped the iPhone charger in the parking lot, and they’re wondering when it’s time to eat.

4. Upper body, again. If there is a pool, and you have little kids, it will be assumed that you are a shot-put Olympian. You will launch all of your posterity, one at a time, “one mo’ time,” over and over. And one more time for a picture. It was blurry, though, so one more. Your arms may be on fire, but when it comes down to it, you’ll toss your kids a million times over for those laughs.

5. CARB LOAD. I don’t know, but it’s vacation, so it just seems right.

Continue Reading

California-ing and Wondering When Webster’s Going to Employ Me

Vacation mode. I want to say something like, “It’s where your mind is, not where your feet are,” but my mind wanders away from me exponentially more often than I’d consider myself vacationing.

Currently: trying to figure out how to sleep my little family in one room, with a two and three-year-old who both still nap, and a two-year-old who is a little big for the pack and play but won’t go to sleep without one, climbs out sporadically, and spends an hour at bedtime trying to find other people in the dark room using echolocation style squawking.

In fact, I’m writing this at 6:40am as I’m feeding that little two-year-old Goldfish crackers to keep him quiet. Low volume cartoons aren’t helping the cause with the occasional, “I WANT THAT,” at every commercial.

Sooo I’m not sure if he caught the vacation mode drift.

I’m readjusting my original vacation mode statement to, “It’s not where you are, it’s where your child who doesn’t sleep later than 8AM is.”

Roscoe sure is a cutie, though!

Other than being a little tired, Gus and Roscoe have been having the time of their lives. You can tell by the photos that Roscoe is still lukewarm about beaches…

Continue Reading

Every Beach Trip is Shark Week When You’ve Watched Too Much Shark Week

They say home is where your heart is, and mine is always, always at the edge of the water.

Not far in it, though, because that’s scary and seaweed-y. Too many years of Shark Week.

(I wouldn’t mind a small nibble though, just something that would promise a small scar to elevate my street cred, especially to my boys. I’m envisioning being my kids’ elementary school show and tell object, walking into a spot light in an awed room, commanding attention as I solemnly part my leg hair to show them the 2” scar from what I’m positive was a teacup Great White…)

Oh, sorry. I digress.

Don’t let me watch Air Jaws again this year.

I think I got more smile lines this week from watching my boys beam. We waded in the chilly water, but mostly just played in the sand and exchanged, “This is the BEST, right!?” looks.

My heart feels right at home smelling any salty ocean air, but there is one beach in particular that I love. It’s where I’ve watched the sun set for years and years.

Are you a sunrise or sunset person?

Me? I’m a sunset girl. I think it sounds more romantic, less morning-breath-y. I love the dramatic ending to the day, a fiery exclamation point to punctuate the last moments of daylight. I like the way the sky dissolves into blackness, slowly but unrelenting, the way black ink bleeds on paper.

But.
A sunset is hardly an ending.

A past-life me would reassure you that dusk is just when the night is beginning.

There is a tangible energy that sunsets produce. Instead of blackness, the world suddenly sparkles with a thousand lights. There is a buzz of mystery. At nightfall, the world is suddenly exciting, delicately filtered by moonlight, and forgiving of seen-in-broad-daylight blemishes. Wait, is that why I like sunset?

There is a magnificence in feeling so insignificant watching one of nature’s shows.

Continue Reading

Do I know you? Do you want to look at my room service pictures anyway?

Blogland slowed down for a second, because, to be honest, I got a little freaked out.

When I started a little blog in 2008, all my friends had one. It was how I communicated with friends and family prior to Instagram.

My readership has increased since then, especially since I’ve been trying to promote it to find writing opportunities. I can’t believe it! Frankly, I’m stunned that anyone stops by here, but it’s awesome!

It’s just…who are you?

Are you someone who cares to know that my post 9:00 PM time management is terrible, and I complain about never getting laundry done as I pick my face for an hour?

Are you someone who finds it interesting that my husband legitimately accused me of forgetting a burrito in our bedroom a few weeks ago? (It DID smell like Mexican food in our room for a couple days, and it IS a valid hypothesis, but I did not. I haven’t eaten a burrito in our room…for years. It left me offended and hungry.)

Are you the type I can confide in that I feel completely overwhelmed, and recently bit off more than I can chew? Are you the kind friend that will put an arm around me and tell me that’s just life? And to stop wasting time picking my face?

Are you a person that doesn’t mind if I post no-makeup, not professional pictures occasionally?

As a reader, I enjoy elements of raw emotion in writing. That will inevitably bleed onto Fluent in Blonde (unless I see a therapist for my emotions, or something), and I spent a week debating my level of not-child-related caution in what I share. By no means am I controversial, but I have a personality, you know? What if I offend someone? What if I unknowingly make myself way too vulnerable?

…buuuuut coming from a girl who can pound an entire pack of Springtime Oreos, I probably weigh too much to walk on eggshells.

I’ve also concluded that sharing my thoughts with you is less detrimental to me than it is to you. My overexposed emotions is probably more like…a flasher. A streaker. Okay, maybe something more mild, like mooning. As a verbal (or more traditional) mooner,I can’t feel vulnerable if I’m intentionally expoooosing myself to you.

Obviously, my sweet ninos are a different story, but writing with emotion? I think I’m okay with you reading it, you. Whoever you are. (I’m glad you’re here.)

Here’s what I’ve been doing while ignoring you:

It was brought to my attention by an online Zappos customer service rep that April 20th is National Cheese Fry Day. There was no questioning eating animal fries, animal fries know no shame. That’s why I unapologetically ate them in a swimsuit. It was also the first time everrrr that my little angel babies were being little angel babies in the kids’ pool. I sat on the side eating 3000 calories, and they just played! Gloooooooooooo-ria.

I enjoyed a one night vacation with my friend, Taylor. I never enjoy leaving any of my boys, but laying on a beach all day? Sleeping in until 10? Room service? Not currently physically attached to a baby? Well, okay. I’ll go for one day.


No vegan, gluten, dairy,or sugar preferences here.


Alwaaaays happy to be back home and wake up to my little loves snuggling in my bed.

Continue Reading

Pecan Pie, Okra, Biscuits, Collard Greens

I am a total dreamer. I don’t know that all my dreams would be qualify as “bucket list” items, because things like installing a Stair Genie for recreational use probably shouldn’t be eligible for bucket listing (unless I’m about to kick that bucket).

Anyway.

For about ten years, I’ve hoped to live in Georgia. The height of my Georgia obsession was in 2006, when my friend Natalie and I made “in our dreams” plans to move there for a summer. (Did a favored TI album release around that same time fan the flame? Hard to say. Was I a regional ebonics expert? Yes.)

That summer move didn’t happen, or else at this moment, I would be living in a plantation style home with a peach orchard heir, writing this from a patio rocking chair that my 500 pound, Southern-food loving self finds most comfortable.

I may have simultaneously been applying for a feature on My 600 LB Life, but think of all the fried okra!

My friend Jessy moved to Atlanta from Miami recently, so you already know Natalie and I were there. Natalie came in from D.C., and I had theeee best time. These two are truly my best friends. You know, the type of friends that even make gas station pit stops fun? And you can be completely, fully, pre-mom-life YOU around? Throw in some homemade biscuits, and I mean…

img_1158
Pregnant Jessy kept working us out. We showed up in matching pants for a Britney/2 Chainz themed spin class, and both those things made me so happy.
img_1108
Her cutest little guy. I love him.
img_1165img_1143img_1110
MY WHOLE 2006 LIFE LED UP TO THIS MOMENT.
img_1308
georgia

img_1164
If you can overlook the pink camo workout pants, I’m such a natural here, right? I (independently) sent Brian’s resume to several Atlanta based companies right after college. We didn’t hear back, which was rude, especially considering the amount of time I’d spent watching Paula Dean shows in preparation, but okaaay. Jessy introduced me to pimento cheese, and now I’m back on track. I’ve got to get to Georgia. Even if it’s just a couple of years, I’ll take it, especially if Natalie and Jessy stay put for a while!

No one question my fraudulent accent after I’ve only been there a few weeks.

Hashtag I wish these two girls lived closer.

Continue Reading

For All The Other Ashtons Out There Wondering About The Disneyland Hotel

You know that face that you make when you squirt ketchup on a bun, and only ketchup juice leaks out? And your bun is just shriveling while marinating in ketchup juice?

It’s a look of disgust and disappointment, in case you have never had this misfortune.

That’s how you will look at the nightly room fees for on property Disneyland accommodations.

That, or the Macaulay Culkin Home Alone face right before you slam your laptop shut.

But, Disneyland was calling my name. For like, a year, and I couldn’t swipe left on Disneyland Hotel, either.

I pored over travel blogs, hotel feedback, hazy personal memories, and a million reviews before deciding that I would at least cough up extra money in the name of convenience to park access. I discovered that most hotels that are comparable proximity wise really aren’t THAT much less. I was pretty 100% sure we wanted to have the option to walk back for a break/nap.

There are other hotels that may actually be less walking distance to the parks than those on-property, but when Disneyland Hotel advertised a fall deal, I filled out my payment information, closed my eyes, and pressed “confirm.”

I semi-forgot about that number as soon as I started getting things like this in the mail:

img_0976

So, now that I’ve stayed there, was it worth it? This is the kind of stuff I wanted to read when I was debating my level of YOLO-ing, so I’m just putting it out in cyber land.

G tested out the beds ASAP, and approved.
G tested out the beds ASAP, and approved.

Expect The Mouse to shake every last Peso out of you in the name of magic.

…but even the headboards are magic.

The rooms have recently been renovated, and are beautiful.

Disneyland Hotel guests walking to Disneyland never have to go into “real world.” It feels like an enchanted vacation the whole ten minute stroll through Downtown Disney.

Hotel guests also get a one hour early entrance to the parks, but since only certain areas are accessible at that time, expect to still wait in small lines.

We easily walked back, and really did nap for a couple hours.

The pool was amazing, and we could have spent the entire day sliding down water slides. They did NOT offer complimentary sunscreen, which can easily be mistaken when lifeguards leave their own sunscreen near the complimentary swim diapers and kid floaties…

I’ll speak only for the Disneyland Hotel, but we had THE best interactive character experiences, which was the most fun part of the trip with an almost three year old. Instead of waiting in line to meet characters, they’d surprise us at the hotel and were so much more friendly. Since there were few other kids around, if any, they’d play with my son, and G LOVED it.

In Disneyland
:

My child is the one you can't totally see...
My child is the one you can’t totally see…


At the hotel:
Now that's a hug.
Now that’s a hug.

I may still be high on pixie dust, but after a relaxing stay, I would consider The Disneyland Hotel again for a short trip. So, if we start selling plasma now to book rooms during the off season…it’s doable. I’m saving my kidney for an overwater bungalow in Fiji.

img_0898
img_0851img_0855
img_0858

Continue Reading

I’ll Take The Mouse Over The Rats.

Some people believe bad luck will ensue after breaking a mirror.

Some people believe black cats are a bad omen.

Today, after slinking out of the house to be embarrassing and get a spray tan, my path was crossed by MULTIPLE rats Free Willy-ing over a bush I accidentally bumped with the tanning salon door. I am convinced I was one of those fainting goats in a past life, because I froze and involuntarily held my breath for about 20 seconds before the front desk girl (casually) said, “Oh, yeah. Those rats. There are a lot.”

I (casually) speed walked to my car afterwards in case I was interrupting a conga line.

But, no cats, rats, or spray tan walk of shame can rain on my parade after the fun week I had in Park City with my family, and a girls night with fun friends.

img_0495

NAILED IT
NAILED IT
DOUBLE NAILED IT
DOUBLE NAILED IT

parkcity1

img_0462

img_0637

Let there be Nelly, and let there be giant ice creams.

brooke

Only the utmost admiration for the girl that can eat two desserts. “One is my drink.” I am feeling confident in my friend picking abilities.

brooke1

Next up on our Super Extreme September calendar: G’s first Disney trip. We’ve been studying the map and discussing Mickey Mouse, but he knows nothing about churros.

gusdisney1

Continue Reading