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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trophy Wife-ing

My trophy wife data comes from observing a good handful of Las Vegas women who have forgotten they’re not Kardashians…

A COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO BECOMING A TROPHY WIFE

Regardless of your social media platform of choice, avoid taking selfies without Snapchat filters. Use only the dog or flower crown filter lest you should reveal your age (and pores).

If your Starbucks order is not to your liking, or if the drive-thru employee put the order label over the cup’s logo AGAIN, thus ruining above mentioned selfie with your drink, address the issue. Let your complaints fly off of your lips with the same sharpness as the needle that has just injected them. If that sounds harsh, you’re better suited to hang out with the soccer moms, not the trophy wives.

Make an effort not to furrow your brows in your Starbucks scolding. Never show signs of emotion, specifically on your face. Trophy wives everywhere look to Victoria Beckham for inspiration. Not only will this impassiveness keep you mysterious, it will also prevent you from draining your Tom Ford fund on Botox. A few more laugh lines and you’ll be shopping at The Rack.

Although some may interpret this unexpressive attitude as heartlessness, it’s better than being considered sweet. Trophy wives should never like anything sweet, unless it’s the agave-based dressing on sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic kale. Anything made without this sugar substitute will later be carved off by a surgeon.

In the rare and unfortunate event that this should happen, clothe yourself in as much Lululemon as possible to distract eyes from any healing scars. Better yet, accessorize your Lululemon with jewelry, preferably something with a giant designer logo. Sparkly Chanel logos are best. This is a typical trophy wife defensive maneuver used to blind those that seek proof of plasticity.

Plus, nothing says, “I work out hard,” like Lululemon and Bvlgari jewels.

Below, trophy wife fail. Fail fail fail.

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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…

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To My Stay At Home Mom Friends: You’re My Heroes

To the moms that refer to themselves as “just a mom”:

You are everything that I hope to become.

This can further be summarized by saying, “You’re the (little poo emoji)!”

Instead, I’ve chosen to use more eloquent (mature?) words, because this has become a personal, deeply moving topic for me. You stay at home moms have been on my mind often the past several months.

Let me back up before I continue.

I was raised by a father who grew up farming. I legitimately don’t know if you’ve ever seen a man with bigger calves or more muscular, callused hands. The ability to earn a living was often discussed, with emphasis on “earn.” His fatherly preaching? Don’t stumble over feelings of entitlement, work hard, don’t expect to always be taken care of, education is crucial, and women developing a skillset that will give them the ability to financially support their families know what’s up with Survival 101.

(I’m sure that went over my head for a good while, but when I spread my wings, I was grateful for the realistic perspective.)

My dad wasn’t necessarily a feminist, but he very much applauded and encouraged women’s self-reliance, married or not. (A woman empathetic to the effort required to make ends meet makes a great partner, right?)

Because of that, I have MAJOR admiration for women in the workforce. Whether they’re employed out of necessity or by choice, their representation in every sort of job fills me with pride.I could go on and on about women with successful careers. For a long time, I was one of the “work by necessity and don’t stop at Marshall’s on your way home because you can’t even afford cereal” type. I worked six days a week, and now, with kids, I’m relieved to be down to part time (which somehow still exhausts me with two little guys at home).

Working as a mom is tough, emotionally as well as physically.

But, even as I work part time, do you know who I am REALLY in awe of?

Stay at home moms. The “just a mom” moms.

Motherhood shouldn’t overshadow their capabilities. They are just as strong, determined, educated, and powerful, yet honorably decline the workforce. All those student loans? Unrealized dreams? A promising potential career path? Affording a different lifestyle?

Do you know how much faith that takes to watch these things fade in the rearview, even if they’ll be revisited in later years?

I’m so amazed by these women (and very specific women who I hugely admire) and their steadfast decisions to just to stay home with their children.

And by “just to stay at home,” I mean join their kids hand in hand on the front lines, battling a scary world. These moms are wise, and know that, if they can afford it, their time is most valuable teaching their children before sending them off to the world.

“Just a mom” is a woman, who, by choice:

braves the isolation that comes with young motherhood.
makes do with just a little less than she might if she worked.
is completely, utterly, painfully selfless.
stretches herself to be everyone’s everything, constantly.
never stops.
never gets a break.
is always, always on the clock.

Before I had kids, I asked of stay at home moms, “What do they do all day, every day?”
Now, I wonder, “How do they do it all day, every day?”

Although I’m not ready to throw in the towel with my job, I wonder if I am brave enough to become “just a mom.” For years, I’ve found enjoyment working outside the home. Am I brave enough to let go of years of schooling and hard work? Am I that selfless? Will I lose myself? Maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the refining process that creates the unsung heroes of every family.

You “just a mom”s are everything I aspire to be.

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Taking a Minute to Remember Sue

The other day ended with Brian happily swatting flies out of our kitchen with a (new and pretty, I must add) dish towel, and telling Gus, “That fly can run but he can’t hide from the inevitable. Can you say ‘inevitable’?”

Brian’s face while he playfully whipped the flies (and our bums) with the towel reminded me how most men are, deep inside, boys. Youthful, funny boys.

I’m jealous of that inextinguishable playfulness, and hope that, with three boys in my house, it will rub off on me.

On second thought, much of Brian’s youthfulness may be attributed to genetics. His grandma, who recently passed away, was eternally young.

Literally. I don’t believe I will ever see a woman in her late 80s bounce around like Sue Scurr. The word unreal comes to mind.

I will forever think fondly of Sue. I had the pleasure of meeting her the same day I first met Brian’s whole family. We were headed to his sister’s wedding reception, so I was a little “EEEE” about meeting his whole family at one time. Any feelings of nervousness dissipated after I was suddenly arm in arm with this immaculate, stylish woman! Sue seemed about twenty five. She was bubbly, lively, bright, and made me laugh. Good humor always bridges generational gaps, doesn’t it? I felt so welcomed! I’d made a new friend, even.

Before I knew that Sue had a name other than “Grandma,” I knew she had a late husband she deeply missed. Within moments of meeting Sue, she spoke fondly of Harry. While I was trying to remember people’s names at the wedding reception, she told me all about Harry. Never, ever, ever did I have a conversation end without her mentioning how she missed him.

That’s why this photo brought the happiest tears to my eyes. After twenty years, her reunion with Harry must have been indescribable.

(I also hadn’t realized that Harry and my son share a birthday! That makes me smile.)

Although I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, these beautiful photos from my awesome in-laws made me so grateful for family. Isn’t Sue beautiful? I’m not sure what she’s holding, but I wouldn’t doubt she needed an iPhone to take selfies of her glamourous wardrobe.

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Baby Showers: The Ghost Expense in my Wallet

I love babies, and am kind of obsessed with watching my friends become parents. Truly. Witnessing my best friends experience parenthood is, unexpectedly, one of the biggest joys in my life. I get emotional thinking of the new love that reroutes their lives, the parenting inspiration they are to me, and…

I am wiping tears right now, so I’ll just stop there.

Consequently, I enjoy celebrating with them at baby showers.

Modern times (and Pinterest) also call for baby “sprinkles,” which are usually thrown for second, third babies, etc.

This is all great, unless you’re Mormon, like I am.

THAT’S A LOT OF BABIES.

Showers and showers mean we LDS women make it rain more than Lil Wayne.

Weddings and babies, man. I don’t know if I can afford this religion. I definitely can’t be forking out money for everyone’s Dock a Tot registry dreams for five people a month without signing up to be an Uber driver. How about a nice box of breast pads?

(If you’ve seen me at a shower lately, don’t worry. Now you know that I REALLY wanted to be there. 🙂 )

If you haven’t been to a baby shower or baby sprinkle recently, let me lay it out for you:

The expectant mother’s mom squad is always there, talking in high voices about baby names they love, that, in my humble, I-named-my-child-Gus opinion, are not names. If there are multiple X and Y and silent Zs and stuff, that’s just not a name, or even a word, but I’ll be by the brownies.

There are not brownies at showers these days, only mini donuts. I wish they were full size donuts. I know cronuts are too much to hope for, so I won’t even address that.

Expectant mothers love flower crowns, which I also like! Flower crowns are pretty, until someone gets carried away with foliage…in which case, I am reminded of Jesus. Don’t be offended. Overzealous flower crowns remind me of Jesus’ crown of thorns, but maybe that’s just because I’m just super holy all the time. Who am I to say? I feel guilty about my thoughts being borderline sac religious, so I look for brownies again, just in case I missed them.

My next baby, I am throwing a party called the “Fat Ash Bash,” and there will be brownies. In lieu of gifts, there will be a donation for postpartum mom reconstruction, because, what the.

Hold me to it.

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The Skinny on Microblading from a Squeamish Someone

First, let me tell you that I didn’t get my ears pierced until right before prom my senior year of high school, because I absolutely can’t handle anything medical or needle related.

And, if I just referred to piercing my ears as a medical procedure, that’s also telling. I’m sure the sixteen year old at Claire’s that pierced mine was highly qualified and preparing for her fellowship at the upstairs location.

In short, I can’t hang.

I first heard of microblading a little over a year ago. You know about it, right? Microblading is a semi-permanent cosmetic process to enhance eyebrows. A sharp tool (noted) is used to deposit ink in skin to create natural-looking, individual hair strokes. Although it’s not as permanent as a tattoo, my microbladed brows have lasted me over a year without fading. I just went in for my first “color boost” to freshen the up at 11 months and 1 week. I now treat my brows’ ages like babies.

You should probably Google your questions about microblading facts, because I don’t know how accurate Ashton-pedia is, and I’ve already told you everything I know. Still, my friends and clients ask about my experience on the regular, so I thought I’d share my own personal FAQs on my two microblading experiences! Solely my opinions, but I like pretending I’m an expert right now.

Does it hurt?
The real question is: DO YOU WANT TO BE BEAUTIFUL OR NOT? Have you seen the process? There’s no way to avoid some discomfort…unless your microblade artist has prescription numbing cream. (The girl I go to, Boston, works at a MedSpa, so the numbing cream is a major bonus!) I’ve had it without numbing cream the first time, and it made me cringe, but was totally tolerable.

What if you don’t like your brows?
Well, I guess you just hope people like you for your stellar personality.

Just kidding. There is a removal process, but THAT sounds like a real process and still takes time. Do your research on your microblade artist, and keep in mind the whole “you get what you pay for” thing.

How long does it last?
I’ve seen various places advertising it lasting 3-5 years, but in my experience, I’d say about two years. I like my brows fairly defined, and found that if I go to someone who takes time to really get the ink in, they’ll last for a full year without touch ups (professional or my own filling in)!

Would you do it again?
Dare I say yaaas? YAAAAAAS. Even without the numbing cream, yes. I love them.

I’m feeling this FAQ. (Thank goodness I’m not still single because I had an epiphany about replacing dinner dates with a printed list of personal FAQs, since that’s the kind of scripted conversation first dates really are.)

Please take time to appreciate this “after” picture I sent to Boston, the girl who did mine, because the first 30 I took would make you scream and throw your phone. It still might.

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