Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cystic Fibrosis Month {#TeamTayTay}

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A little (ok, a lot) late in the game now, but I just learned that May is Cystic Fibrosis awareness month!!  What the heck is Cystic Fibrosis, you ask?  Read on.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that affects the lungs, digestive tract, liver, pancreas and kidneys.  CF is caused by an inherited defective gene and causes decreased function of major organs due to the buildup of abnormally thick mucus.  In the lungs, this causes difficulty breathing, inflammation and repeated infection due to trapped bacteria.  In the pancreas this causes an inability to release the enzymes needed to break down and absorb nutrients, leading to malnutrition.  Patients often suffer chronic pancreatitis.

Why is CF on my radar?  When I was in gradeschool many years ago (ahem) I read Robyn's Book, a published diary of a young girl with CF.  I can't remember how it ended up in my hands, but I remember being so engrossed in her story.  Fast forward to April of 2014.  While interviewing potential nannies for our newborn babe, Hubby and I met a sweet young woman named Taylor who answered our posting on  Our 20 minute interview lasted nearly three hours.  We sat chatting with Taylor like we were old friends, talking about her four younger siblings, her affinity for all things southern and country (hello!) and love of chocolate.  When we got in the car to leave I told Hubby, "I LOVE HER.  She's the one."  The following month I went back to work and Taylor began caring for Ayden.

In the 13 months that we have known Taylor she has become family.  We were included in her birthday celebration with her family and friends last fall and have spent countless hours just hanging out.  Ayden absolutely adores her and we love her to bits.

Taylor has Cystic Fibrosis.

Several times over the past year Taylor has endured painful bouts of pancreatitis.  These attacks occur without warning and last for several days, sometimes weeks, and leave her doubled over in excruciating pain.  Each flare up lands her in the hospital where she is put on IV nutrition in order to rest her pancreas.  She is given anti nausea medication and pain meds and is monitored while she waits out the storm.

Over the years Taylor doctors have tried a laundry list of medications, supplements, enzymes and treatments in order (hopefully) minimize her symptoms.  For a good while it seemed that things were working.  However have been different in recent months.  In the past seven weeks Taylor has been hospitalized three times.  She is currently in the hospital suffering greatly.  Her specialists have come to the conclusion that they have exhausted their resources here in California and are sending her to Boston for a specialized experimental treatment.  In order to do that she must be completely detoxed of all medications, including pain killers.  As I type this, she is going through the process.  It is nothing short of torture.

There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis.  The purpose of today's post is to raise awareness and ask for your support for Taylor.  I know there are many many causes out there that deserve attention and research, and CF is certainly no exception.

Please keep Taylor in your thoughts and prayers.  Feel free to leave a note below and I will be happy to share them with her. :)  She needs all the encouragement and love we can shower her with!

Thank you!!  XO


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ayden + the Jellies, 2.0

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Another weekend has come and gone, my friends.  But it was a lovely one.  It was sunny and summery out all weekend (my apologies if your area is still stuck in winter mode) which called for a family ice cream date :)  Then it was off for our adventures!

Several months ago we took Ayden to the Sea Center down on the pier.  He was only 6 months old at the time:

iPhone pic + low light, sorry.  But those arm rolls!! 
We took him back this weekend and had so much fun.  While he enjoyed checking everything out the first time, he could only ride around in our arms as a spectator.  This time he had a blast!  He was walking around like he owned the joint and thought the touch tanks were the greatest.  things.  ever.  The very first stop was the shark tank where he met baby Jaws ;)

They were actually pretty cool, albeit a bit spooky-eyed, and they feel like wet sandpaper.  Ayden's thoughts on meeting a shark?  "Ooooh!"


The jellyfish exhibit is so cool; the whole exhibit is dark, only lit with blacklight (fun for the inner hippie!) and is home to some really neat creatures.  Watching the jellyfish float around is oddly relaxing.  I feel like I could lounge in a hammock and zone out watching them, sort of like a real life screen saver.  Ha!


Kiddo had some serious wiggles to get out when we were done at the Sea Center and he took the pier by storm.  I told Hubby we need to put a pedometer on Ayden, as I'm pretty sure he walked close to a mile on the pier that afternoon!  When we got home he crashed out and slept in late Sunday morning.    We were hoping to get out on the water, but the wind had picked up and the water was pretty choppy.  Hopefully this weekend we can!

Sunday there was a car show downtown.  The owner of Hubby's company is an auto enthusiast and always has one of his classic cars in the annual show.  We like to make a point of stopping by to see him.  He was busy collecting his awards when we made it to his spot, but his car was gorgeous!  Definitely worthy of the awards :)

As soon as we got downtown I grabbed the camera to start snapping away and found a dead battery instead.  WOMP.  So, Ayden's first car show = all phone pics.  Such a bummer.  Note to self: make sure to check the camera battery before you leave the house.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend!  How will you be celebrating?  BBQ on the beach?  Maybe at the lake?  If you need a beverage idea for your Memorial Day gathering, here's a great one.  To date it is my most popular and most pinned recipe and was even featured on BuzzFeed!

In our day-to-day it is so easy to forget that we owe our very livelihood to thousands of brave men and women who have given their lives for our country.  It is truly the ultimate sacrifice and one that they make for complete strangers.  I can't imagine that kind of selflessness!  Without their courage we would not know the freedom we have here.  America is the land of the free BECAUSE of the brave!!

Have a great week and long weekend!  XO


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Day {Feeling Loved}

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What a difference a year makes!  Look how much my sweet babe has grown since last Mother's Day:

I had such a lovely Mother's Day.  My sweet hubby surprised me with the yoga pants I've had my eye on - woohoo!  (time to step up my yoga game...Ha!)  We did a repeat of last year's Mother's Day adventures.  I adore Los Olivos, a tiny little town about 30 miles north of us in the Santa Ynez Valley.  It's home to Clairmont Farms, a beautiful family-owned lavender farm tucked away in wine country.  It's one of my favorite places.  When I married the love of my life we had sachets of dried lavender from their farm as favors for our guests and to this day I still have people tell me how much they love theirs.

Peek-a-boo, Belly! =D

After visiting the lavender farm we went into town and stopped at our favorite spot, Enjoy Cupcakes in the Sarloos & Sons tasting room.  We love this little spot and Ayden of course loved his cupcake treat and sitting at the special tiny table, just like he did for his birthday.

These two!  I can't even... <3
Just outside the tasting room is an open grassy area where energetic one-year-olds can run free.  A couple of other kids were playing there and Ayden so badly wanted to crash their game of tag ;)  He was determined to walk all over town and was quite unhappy with me when I wouldn't let him run out into the street.  I'm such a mean mom like that.

My must-see spot when we are in the area is Los Olivos General Store.  This darling little shop has a bit of everything, from kitchen goods to kids' books to eclectic jewelry.  I found a candle there that smells like gardenias, aka Heaven, so had to grab that up.  I had it lit the minute we got home and the whole house smelled divine!

My sweet boys are the light of my life!  I'm so incredibly blessed to be theirs.  My loves spoil me each and every day and Mother's Day was no exception.  What a lucky girl I am :)

Taking photos with a toddler is so easy... said no one ever.

Before I close, I realized I forgot to include a very special Mother's Day gift idea to my Wish List post!  For my birthday this year my sweet daddy surprised me with a gorgeous custom wood and glass wall hanging.  It is seriously so so beautiful!  The heart is layered fused glass with my sweet boy's face on it.  This would be such a lovely gift for Mother's Day, mom's birthday, baby's first birthday, Valentine's Day, Christmas, you name it!  After I pushed and prodded, he decided to open an Etsy shop - YAY!  These custom wall hangings can be found here.  AND, because I love ya, if you mention that you found his shop through my blog you will get 15% off of your order!  Woohoo!

Have a great week!  XO


Sunday, May 10, 2015


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There is something inherently comforting in that word.

Mom is home.  Mom is warmth.  Mom is nurture and love and safety.  Mom is the smell of supper on the stove as you step into a cozy warm house.  Mom is the kiss on the tear streaked cheeks of a little girl who fell off her bike.  Mom is the middle of the night hug when bad dreams strike.  Mom is the soft place to land when friends exclude and boyfriends don't call.  Mom is the cheerleader of all endeavors, from jog-a-thon laps to planning a wedding.  Mom is forgiveness when it's not deserved (or even asked for).  Mom is love in its truest form. Mom is the heartbeat of the family.

To say my mom is a blessing in my life is a colossal understatement.  From near and far she has always been my go-to, and I can't remember a time that I didn't want to call my mom to hash out the day's triumphs and struggles. Now that I'm a mom I understand just how much my mom sacrificed (and continues to) for our family.  She somehow managed to keep our house meticulous, keep the laundry caught up, keep track of our schedules, cook every meal from scratch and work full-time, and always - always - had hours and hours to bake, read, play, watch movies, sew and shop with me.

As an only child I depended on my mom a lot when it came to my entertainment.  I must have been such a pest!  I was constantly asking her to play games with me, take me here or there, bake this or that with me.... the list goes on and on.  Every Easter she would hide and re-hide (and re-re-re-hide) the eggs for me to find.  She put up with my endless requests to play "store", played countless hours of Yahtzee, Mall Madness, Mouse Trap and Life with me, and watched the same goofy kid movies with me repeatedly.  Every morning she would get up before dawn to pack my lunch, make my breakfast and get everything situated for my day and even took the time to curl my hair before school every day when I was in high school.  She also happens to be drop dead gorgeous.  During my waitressing days the boys I worked with would fight over whose section she was going to sit in when she came in for lunch.  "Is your hot mom gonna come in today??"  And did I mention she's a legit hero?  Yep, true story.  Check out this babe:

"Is green the only color these come in?"

There isn't a single day that goes by that I don't think of my mom a hundred times.  In everything I do with my son I strive to be as patient, present and thoughtful as she.  I hope I can be even half the mom she is.

Mom, I love you with all my heart!  I am forever grateful and honored to be your daughter.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend Recap {Just Plane Fair Fun}

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Ayden went to the fair for the first time this weekend!  Yes, the fair is in town and we would be remiss if we didn't take our bear cub out into the melee to check out all the fun.  While fairs are notorious for loads of fried junk food, there was one stand of legitimate mexican food, and Hubby got a great looking shrimp cocktail.

Ayden was fascinated by the giant rides, especially the ones that go way up into the air.  We stood watching several of them for quite some time.  Every once in a while he would say "Oohhhhh!!" and point at the people/cars in the air.

Our munchkin loves animals, so we spent most of our time checking out the 4H area meeting goats, chickens, alpacas and even a little pig.  There were tiny pig races (?!) just inside the kids' carnival and they were the cutest little things!  Ayden says "ooffff, ffff, fffff, fffff" for pretty much every animal and was cheering on the little piggies with lots of clapping and "fffff"s.

And the best part was my hubby coincidentally wearing a t-shirt that said "BACON" on it.

Sunday we took a drive out to the airport to watch the planes take off and land, another one of A's favorites.  He points at the planes and says "Ohhh!!  Oooooh!!!  ooooh!  OHHH!!!" and searches the skies when he hears the loud engines from afar.  That kid is going to either be a vet or a pilot at this rate. ;)  It was crazy windy out but seeing his little face light up when he saw the planes made my heart melt.

In other news, Mother's Day is THIS WEEKEND!  In case you missed it, there's some great inspiration for celebrating the moms in your life here.

Have a fantastic week!  XO!