Friday, May 10, 2019

The Mom Life Series: My Story

Motherhood, my story to becoming a MOM

Motherhood
A while back I asked my Instagram audience what they'd like me to discuss more of on this blog and an overwhelming amount of replies had one common request: Motherhood. So today, with Mother's Day around the corner, I'm kicking off my Mom Life series! I'll be covering a number of topics such as finding a balance in daily life, mom style, life with a toddler, etc. For my very first post, a topic near and dear to my heart: Motherhood. Specifically, my journey to becoming a mom and why it means so much to me.

The path to the #momlife
The journey to becoming a mom has been one rollercoaster ride. There's been incredible highs, twists, turns, and some scary lows. In the end? The journey, as crazy as it may have been was completely worth it.
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to eventually be a mom. I've always loved kids and even carried that into my career by working with children with special needs. Life had to set up the groundwork for motherhood... first go to college, find a soulmate (hey PB!), get married, then begin to family plan. After PB and I got married we took a little bit of extra time to enjoy our duo lifestyle before even beginning to think of starting a family. We had our reasons, but mainly we wanted to be 100% sure we were ready in all aspects of our lives, financially, career wise, emotionally, etc. We wanted to check off all of the "extras" like traveling and crazy adventures before settling down to have a family. Eventually, 5 years after we were married we knew the timing was right. So we tried... and tried... and tried.

The one thing most people won't tell you is exactly how HARD it is to have a child. A few lucky couples are blessed where they can get pregnant right at the moment they utter the word "baby", but for others... including us, struggled. We tried for a long while, month after month held negative pregnancy tests. The feeling of failure started to creep in. Then after what felt like forever in trying.... it happened!

A twist on Mother's Day
Two days before Mother's Day 2016 I found out I was pregnant for the first time. Let me tell you, the elation, the happy tears, the pure joy you feel from getting that very first positive test is surreal. We thought it was fate that we found out right before Mother's Day. We were so overjoyed that we even did an elaborate Mother's Day reveal for our loved ones, complete with "grandma/aunt" onesies for the women in our lives. It was bliss. I couldn't believe I was going to be a mom.
Our first pregnancy reveal to our loved ones. Mother's Day 2016.


This happiness was short lived though. I ended up miscarrying my first pregnancy at 7 1/2 weeks along. We were heartbroken to say the least, but left even more in shock at the statistics about miscarriage and pregnancy loss. A staggering 1 in 4 pregnancies can result in miscarriage. This was a common occurrence that I never knew about and I ended up being in the 25% of women who had to endure such a loss. But we held onto our faith that there would be a next time. Our doctors assured us that since we had been able to get pregnant, we would more than likely be able to do so again. So we were back to square one, but determined to have different results the next time around...

As fate would have it, a few months later we found out we were pregnant again and this time we cleared the early hurdles we ran into the first time around and made it to the first trimester! Breathing a little easier, we announced to the world that we were expecting. It felt like everything was finally going to be okay. I was finally letting myself get excited about this pregnancy and the thoughts of becoming a mom were becoming more real. At our 20 week anatomy scan, halfway through this pregnancy we found out that we were carrying a little boy, our son. We also found out the devastating news that our little boy's heart was broken, literally. We were told that our son had a severe and life threatening heart defect, a CHD. Tragedy struck again a few short weeks after when we learned our son had passed, 22 weeks, a little more than halfway through this pregnancy.

The hopes and dreams of becoming a mom were completely shattered. I can't even begin to tell you what a loss like this did to my heart, my soul, and my mind. You feel like the earth has broken from below you and you're falling with no end in sight. It was a nightmare that I couldn't seem to wake up from. I remember even having to pinch myself to make sure that this wasn't all a bad dream. It was my reality. These were the darkest times of my life. You go through numerous heart aches throughout life, break ups, losing loved ones, things not going your way... but this? This completely destroys you. I truly started to accept that I wasn't meant to be a mom, that the life of motherhood just weren't in the cards.

Then, right when it felt like the world was at its darkest in this journey.... another beautiful twist of fate. Mother's Day 2017. Nearly a year after my first miscarriage the second devastating loss of our angel son a light shined down from the end of that dark tunnel. I found out I was pregnant for the third time. This time around, the storm in my journey to motherhood had cleared and a little rainbow awaited at the end of everything. In what felt like a miracle, this third pregnancy would be "it" because it finally resulted in me becoming a MOM.

No better word
Now you know why I say it's been a "rollercoaster" journey to motherhood. I look back on those all the moments and experiences that brought me to finally becoming a mom. I realized each crazy turn, each high, and yes, even each low has made me the MOM I am today. I put a lot of emphasis into the word MOM because I was someone who believed that I wouldn't have the chance to be one. Now look at me, a full fledged mama to a beautiful little rainbow!

So what does being a mom mean to me?
One word: EVERYTHING. It's more than just a life created, its a life worth living for my little guy.
I don't take this role as a mother for granted, not a single second of it. When my son is crying at the top of his lungs, when I'm stressed beyond belief and about to rip my hair out at the chaos, I'm still thankful. I'm thankful for every moment, no matter how big, small, bad, sad or happy. I'm thankful for the little moments, like when my son reaches over to give me a hug, when he give me his silly little smile. When he says his sweet or screechy MAMA. Every heartbreak, every tear, every hopeful moment has led up to this... My journey has been an unconventional one, there's been dark days and pain, but in the end love and most importantly *Hope & Hearts* prevailed and I was able to find my happily ever "MOM"after. Thankful for this life as a MOM.

Dedicated to ALL my moms out there, no matter what stage you're at in the journey!
I want to let anyone reading this, mom or not, to never loose the *Hope & Hearts*. I'm living proof that life can throw a million things your way, both good and bad. But with a little hope, the hearts will always prevail in the most amazing of ways. Life never gives us what we can't handle. The challenges we are given are a testament to how strong our hearts really are. And in these situations, they're only given to the strongest women out there. So no matter what stage in the journey you are at... whether you are a soon to be mom, a new mom, a longtime mom, a step/adoptive/foster mom, a pet mom, an unlikely mom (grandparents, aunts, siblings caring for others), or most of all...an angel mom.... I send my love your way. It is an honor to be part of this motherhood club and journey with you all. So here's to all of you, the amazing moms out there! 💜


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

PB&J Parenthood: 16 months!

We've got a 16 month old, I repeat, a 16 month old!
Welcome to month 16 or in other terms 1 year and 4 months of PB&J parenthood! Read on to find out how this new month brought about new milestones and magic!

Dapper Disney Days
April brought about yet another Disneyland trip. Again?! Yes, it's starting to become a pattern to include a Disneyland visit for each month of year two. We're making it a point to visit the parks more frequently, but for shorter durations this year. Last year, a majority of our trips were for extended amounts of time since Ben was still so young. In between pumping, infant nap times, feedings and more, our year 1 trips had to be on the longer side. This year? Toddler Ben is much more flexible scheduling wise so it makes for easier short, but sweet Disney trips.
This particular visit happened to be a "first" for our little family. We attended our very 1st Spring Dapper Day! You can read all about our fun day getting our most dapper style together HERE.
It was another magical visit in the books and we're already looking forward to the next visit... which just happens to be right in month 17. Here's to hoping our frequent Disney pattern continues!

Elmo Party!
Another fun happening in April? The first time Ben got to attend a special event with me! We had the honor of attending a special mommy and me brunch celebrating Sesame Street and their official sponsor Blue Lizard Sun for the launch of their new sunscreen collaboration! We learned all about staying safe in the sun, had some yummy eats, and best of all? A special guest appearance by Elmo himself!
There's not enough words to describe my utter gratitude for these amazing opportunities we get to take part in. Next to Disney, Ben absolutely loves Sesame Street, so getting to be part of such a fun event, with my little guy by my side was quite exceptional.

Easter Benny
We got to celebrate our 2nd Easter all together as a family. Boy oh boy was this year much different than the last! For starters, Ben was able to egg hunt (with assistance) on his own! We participated in our neighborhood's Spring Festival, which included a fun egg hunt for kiddos. Honestly, it was more like a free for all, but still fun nonetheless!
Ben also got to spend time with family and loved ones for all the Easter festivities!

Milestones and Mr. Independent
And we have a walker! My past monthly updates feel like they've been leading up to this moment and we're happy to report that Ben has taken off on his own two feet! Whereas last month he began taking his few cautious steps on his own, the last week of month 16 saw him literally take off, almost sprinting on his own legs. It's crazy, he pretty much just took off independently and hasn't really stopped going ever since. We can't wait to see the updates we'll have on him next month! I'm sure it'll involve lots of tired parents chasing after their toddler who won't stop running away from them!
We've also noticed our baby isn't so much a baby anymore but a Mr. Independent! Ben is in a total imitation phase where he likes to mimic everything we're doing, including at mealtime. We had to get our little guy his own utensils since he loves eating with a spoon and fork on his own now. Ben also discovered his creativity and loves drawing, coloring (on our furniture, too) and getting crafty, just like his mama.
One of our favorite things this month watching Ben discover his newest obsession: Cars. Anything and everything auto/plane/train related is what our son is totally into. PB and I have horrible eyesight but our son? He can spot the tiniest speck of a plane far up in the sky! Ben loves watching cars drive by on our walks, you just have to see this kid's face light up when we walk though a parking lot! It's priceless.
Overall, this month made us realize that our once tiny newborn is far from that little helpless squish. Ben is a full fledged toddler and we can't hardly believe it at times. He's so full of wonder, discovery and imagination. There have been more than one occasion this month, heck even within the last week where PB and I will just look at each other and say "Gosh, where did the time go?" or just a flat our "why are you so big now, Ben?!?" We've realzied that time is just moving so fast and all these beautiful moments with our little miracle are just so extremely precious.

Month 17 and beyond!
So as we close our 16 months and say hello to month 17 we are thankful for the moments and memories we've had up until now. And now we're looking forward to all the wonders to be had next month. Here we goooo!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Style Breakdown: DIY Easter Egg

It's time for an Egg-cellent style breakdown!
Easter is almost here and to celebrate, here's a little DIY breakdown of an easy to create Easter Egg, with a little Disney twist of course!

Extra- Eggstra!
Our most recent Disney adventures fell on the week before Easter. What better way to celebrate Spring and the upcoming holiday than with a little Egg-citing (how many of these Egg-puns can I add into one blog post?) DIY style!
Always having to go that "eggstra" mile when it comes to Ben's style, I wanted to create something fun to celebrate Easter. I've made it a point to try to craft a piece for each Disney trip we go on, and while it's extra work, there's just something so gratifying about creating and crafting up an idea for my little guy to wear. When dreaming up Ben's spring style, one image popped into my head right away... He just had to become a giant Easter egg!

Want to create your own egg? It's easy!
Materials Needed:
- multi colored felt
- glue gun
- fabric scissors
- polyfil stuffing
- a pen and paper to create your stencil

1. Gather your felt.

2. On a blank piece of paper create your "egg" template. Cut out.

3. Using the template, trace onto your felt 4x. Cut out.

4. Take two pieces of your "egg" shapes and using a hot glue fun, carefully glue the edges of your egg together. Be sure to keep your glue lines as even and close to the edges as possible. *Leave a 2-3in opening at the bottom of your glued egg.

5. Turn our egg inside out.

6. Stuff your "egg" to the desired puffed size with polyfil

7. Glue the opening of your egg shut.
8. Decorate your egg using different colored felt pieces, then glue onto your egg.

8. cut 1-2in wide pieces of felt to use as straps to hold your egg together and for your egg wearer's shoulder width. Just attach the straps with hot glue at the top of the egg. I've found that the hot glue is pretty good in keeping the straps on while Ben is wearing these types of outfits. If you'd like some extra reinforcement, you can hand stitch the straps for extra hold!

9. Poof! You're done!

As you can see from above, our little DIY Easter Egg is simple and will pay off with tons of cute! Hopefully this can help with any last minute Springtime crafts or style ideas for this Easter weekend! Thank you for reading and wishing you all the happiest Easter/Springtime weekend ahead! 💜


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dapper Day 2019

Our Very 1st Dapper Day
It's one the most fashionable Disney days of the year: Spring Dapper Day! Read on to hear all about our very first Dapper Day experience!

What took you so long?
Dapper Day, a day to step out in style at the Disney parks. It's an event that has been going on for years. It's a time for any Disney fans to break out their most fashionable attire and enjoy the parks in the most grand way. For details and a better history rundown of the event check it all out on the official Dapper Day page HERE.
From my own personal perspective, in all the time Dapper Day has been taking place, this was the first year, out of many, that we actually attended the fashionable day! So what took us so long to join in on the fun? When Dapper Day events first began happening at the parks I wasn't as big on the Disney fashion as I am now. Yes... there was a time when my life didn't revolve around the mouse and Disney style, shock I know! But as time went on and I started embracing my inner Disney fashion girl, and especially now with our family style.... my perspective started to change. I originally thought Dapper Day was intended for only the most notable of Disney fashionistas or only for those that were into retro/vintage/dapper style. All of which I wasn't really into at the time. Then, as the years passed I started to see more friends attend and realized that the day wasn't just for a particular niche of people. We started seeing regular families attend, your everyday park goers who took the event as their day to dabble into dapper waters for fun. Heck, we even saw some of our own family join in on the fun.  So when we learned of Spring Dapper Day, we decided to finally attend our first Dapper Day and see what all the hubbub was about!

Cars, but make it fashion
So with our first Dapper Day upon us the biggest question looming was "What are we going to wear?!". Since this was our first Dapper Day, the possibilities seemed endless, should I go full on princess mode? Should we try to go silly and be something unexpected? Then the lightbulb clicked and it was a style that we could all get behind: Pixar Cars!
PB has ALWAYS been the biggest car geek around, so Pixar's Cars is one of his Disney favorites. He doesn't show his excitement over too many things, but when it comes to cars and Disney's Carsland, he's all about it! His love for vehicles must have rubbed off on his son because Ben is currently OBSESSED with cars now, too! Take this kid into a parking lots and he'll just start exclaiming "Cars! Cars!". So after going through endless options on what to theme our first dapper should be, it dawned on me that we could get the best of all our worlds with a dapper Pixar Cars bound!

Cars Dapper Bound breakdown 
I can honestly say that I've never seen PB more excited for Disney style than he was with this Cars set! We decided that Ben would be our little Tow Mater since we could easily recycle clothing from his closet into the look. PB took on Lightning McQueen since it was the natural choice since his wife would be his Sally!

Side note, PB is the biggest Porsche geek around. No really, this guy is obsessed, so I wanted to do a Sally bound since she's a Porsche herself and I knew it'd (hopefully) make him smile a little bit if his wife was styled as the literal car of his dreams. LOL!

So how did this style come together? Here's how:
Tow Mater:

Materials:
- White button-down 
- brown or khaki shorts
- brown suspenders
- brown newsboy cap
- felt
- glue gun
- scissors

Ben already had a few of the pieces already in his closet, the shorts and button down were originally from Target and with the help of our favorite Amazon.com, I was able to find the perfect set of baby suspenders and a bowtie, along with shoes and his newsboy cap.

Everything is pretty self expalnatory with this look, the only DIY aspect is the hat, I attached two little felt rectangles to the brim of the hat to create the "Mater Teeth"

Lightning McQueen
Materials:
- Red button down tee
- black pants
- racing stripe/checkered flag suspenders
- yellow bow tie

Again, this look is pretty self explanatory. The only DIY aspect was a tiny felt "95" brooch I made for PB to wear on his suspenders. That was made out of yellow and orange felt and pinned on with a safety pin.

Sally
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Materials:
- blue retro inspired dress
- Porsche patch or pin
- black pillbox hat
- glue gun
- black and grey felt
- polyfil stuffing

I found a simple blue retro inspired dress off of my favorite Amazon, along with a grey petticoat to wear under. With the addition of a simple Porsche emblem patch found off Etsy, the look was almost complete! The hardest part of my Sally style was my "tire" hat since I went a little extra on the details. You can easily just cut out tire shaped pieces and directly attach to the hat base. But me being me, I just had to go that "extra mile". I ended up gluing an set of felt on the hat base, stuffed it with polyfil for dimension, then glued it together to create a 3D tire effect.

The happiest place of style
With our style set, we ventured down to Disneyland for our first Dapper Day! Boy oh boy was it such an extraordinary day. We spent a good chunk of our time in Carsland since we just soaked in the the cars scene in our respective outfits. It was a total win for Ben since he loved just watching the Cars zoom by on Radiator Springs Racers. He even managed to get his dad to buy him a new Cars toy as a keepsake from our fun fueled day.
What was quite amazing was how the entire atmosphere of the parks was just surging with so much Dapper energy. Sure, you can get dressed up any day for the parks, but an entire day/weekend dedicated to retro fashion? Thats where the magic comes in. Just walking though the parks and being surrounded by so many fellow Dapper dressed guests made it feel like you were transported to a different time. It was truly wonderful to just see the crowds of people dressed in their best.
There was also a sense of so much style togetherness. I witnessed so may people complementing each other on their style, others were striking up conversations with people they just met and and bonding over the dapper magic. On our end, we had a magical day because so many of our friends were around at the same time. We were able to real life meet so many of our Instagram pals in one day!

This is why I felt like Dapper Day (and Disney in general) is so magical. It created such a sense of community all day long and it was perfect. I realized that I was completely wrong with my initial hesitations year before on attending this event. I had it in my mind that Dapper Day was just for the most retro/stylish Disney person, but in reality, it's a day for everyone! We saw families,  grandparents, couples, people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds all embracing their inner style! There were the most creative character bounds, styles based on colors, and just plain amazing fashion. Some were homemade, some were detailed DIY,  others were true vintage, some pieces off the rack... regardless of how the fashion came to be or who was wearing it, the end point is that it was all so beautiful!

When can we do this again?
I can now say that I'm 100% a fan of Dapper Day. You know we had a good time when PB said "I'd do this again, what are we going to be next?". Thats a win in my book. So thank you for a beautiful soiree, Dapper Day! Cant' wait for the next event!

© Our PB&J Adventure Book
Maira Gall