Friday, April 6, 2018

Induction Talk

My dr. told me we have an induction date set at my last appointment!
I've never been induced before, my body has naturally gone into labor 3 and 4 days before my due date with the boys.

However, with Trace, I've had to be monitored more closely and his growth is the main concern.
First, it was my dying placenta, now my fundal height has been measuring small the past few weeks, so we have a sonogram on Tuesday, April 10th to do a bio physical profile to determine how big all the things are.
Check my amniotic fluid, measure his growth, see my placenta again, etc.

Good news is that movement hasn't decreased at all, he is still so dang squirmy.
I swear, he's more wiggly than the boys were, at least from what I remember.

I talk to my man a lot about how this pregnancy makes me feel, etc.
He's asked if it's been different because this baby wasn't planned, how I've felt in comparison to the last two, etc.

Honestly, even though he wasn't planned, it doesn't make me any less excited for him!
I kind of feel a bit MORE excited for this baby, just based on my life circumstances.
With both the boys I worried about EVERYTHING, I was stressed out about going back to work, money, and so much more.
That pressure has been lifted AND I'll have 2 little helpers this time! So all in all, I feel more relaxed.

Aside from being monitored more closely this time, this pregnancy has been the easiest on my body.
I truly believe that's because I've been so active for so many years.
Hopefully it will be the easiest postpartum, too.

At my 37 week appointment I was only dilated to 1 cm and not effaced at all.

So if everything looks good on the sonogram on Tuesday, I will go another week and get induced on the 19th.
My dr. says there is no need to push it any further than that and I 100% trust her decision.

Regardless, baby boy will be here VERY SOON!
We can't wait to meet him!



Monday, March 19, 2018

Pregnancy Update- Nearly 35 Weeks

I can't believe I'm having another baby in a few weeks.
I mean, I know I am, I feel him move every day, I see my body changing, but I feel like I was just getting used to our new normal.
Me, my man, the boys.

Life is funny.

Pregnancy wise, things are different this time around.
Trace (our nickname for the baby- NOT his name) is giving us a little trouble these last few weeks.

At my last dr. appointment my dr. noticed from an ultrasound that my placenta was calcifying quicker than normal.
There is no known causes of this, and sometimes it just happens.
So she put me on weekly non stress tests to monitor Trace and make sure he is still active and growing at a healthy rate.
I get hooked up to monitors weekly to check his heart rate and movements.
My fundal height hadn't grown in 2 weeks, which could be due to the fact that his positioning is off (he's not head down), so my dr. said that if it hadn't changed this week that she wanted to do a sonogram to check on things.

Neither of the boys were ever not head down, so this is all new to me.

I'm anxious to see how all this pans out over the next few weeks.

I do not have everything in order and ready for baby, but I am not freaking out about it.
My stress levels are at an all time low with this pregnancy.
Not having to worry about going back to work, how to afford daycare, now worrying about breastfeeding, etc. has really helped this time around.
That and my man is very laid back with everything, so it rubs off on me.
He's so even keel and calm about everything, it's one of my favorite traits of his.

As for me, I feel pregnant.
I am feeling a little more pressure now, but all in all still good.
I'm working out 4-5 times a week. Spinning mostly. Lifting minimally, but walking lots.
I have gained 32 lbs. so far with 5 weeks to go.
With the boys, I lost weight the last few weeks, so I'm betting it will be much of the same this go round.
I'm not worried about the weight.

I think this go round without breastfeeding (due to my full breast lift in 2015 with anchor incision) the weight thing will be much different.
I tried to lose weight immediately after having Mushy and I was breastfeeding at the time and didn't know how the hell to do that.
I'm one of those people who DON'T lose weight while breastfeeding.

I will also be cleaning up my diet immediately after having Trace so I think things will go a bit differently this time with losing the baby weight.
I want to say I think it will be easier to lose the weight, at least that's kind of what I'm expecting.
We'll see.
I just know more now than I did back then. I also have one hell of a support system. This is what my man does for a living, so having him there to help me will be amazing!

Not much longer now!
I should probably pack my hospital bag...
35 weeks




Friday, February 16, 2018

Pregnancies and weight loss

Yesterday I was looking back at my posts from when I was pregnant with Mushy and Big T.
If you don't know my story, I was 50 lbs. overweight BEFORE I got pregnant with my first, Big T, in 2009.
I started pre-pregnancy at 185 lbs. At 5'6, that was about 50 lbs. more than my "normal".
I was newly married and had just steadily put on about 10 lbs. a year. A healthy lifestyle wasn't something I was ever taught. It's not ever something I had to worry about. I was a very active kid and played competitive sports for a very long time. So my diet consisted of fast food, fried chicken, sweet tea, and pretty much anything I wanted.
I never gained weight because I was so active. I practiced 2 hours a day, sometimes more, and softball and volleyball were my life.

Oh, if I'd have known THEN what I know NOW. I would have dialed in my nutrition, I would have fed my body to PERFORM, and not just to survive.
But I feel like a healthy lifestyle wasn't a big thing back then. No one I knew really did anything any differently than I did.
A bag of chips and a Coke for lunch was normal.

So it's no wonder that I had weight issues the older and less active I became.

When I had Big T I weighed 220 lbs.
And I felt EVERY BIT OF IT.
It's not that I gained a lot during my pregnancy, 35 lbs. is still considered normal, but I was 50 lbs. overweight to begin with.
Everything hurt.
I hit the miserable mark at 25 weeks.
I still wasn't accustomed to a healthy lifestyle at that point.

32 weeks with Big T- 2009
I didn't workout, I didn't eat healthy, none of that was on my radar yet.

So after I had him, I decided I needed to lose 60 lbs.
198 lbs. was my starting point.
And there's a very long, detailed story that went into that weight loss, but I did it in 11 months.
I posted progress pictures on my old blog with every 10 lbs. I lost.
198 lbs. - post baby #1 - 2009
138 lbs. - post baby #1 - 2010 (11 months later)
198 lbs. - post baby #1 - 2009
138 lbs. - post baby #1 - 2010

Health was now a part of my life.
That weight loss was what catapulted my life to the next chapter. It changed absolutely EVERYTHING for me.
It opened up a new career path, deep seeded issues in my marriage, my goals, dreams, EVERYTHING.
Some of it good, some of it the scariest thing I've ever been through, but ALL OF IT, lead to the most amazing things.

In 2011 my HATT (Husband At The Time) and I decided that we were ready to have baby #2.

This pregnancy was MUCH better than my first.
I gained 32 lbs. with him and I stayed active with him throughout the duration of my pregnancy.

Now, my "active" THEN, ISN'T my "active" now.
Let me say this, as with EVERYTHING, weight loss is a PROCESS. Fitness is a PROCESS.
It takes TIME to get into these things, and it certainly took time for me as well.
My "active" with my pregnancy #2 was running/jogging a few times a week.
It's pretty much all I did.
And HEY, it was great! That's just where I was at that time in 2011.
I didn't lift weights, I didn't take spin classes, I didn't do anything but what I could afford, which was pretty much nothing but running.
I was also brand new to a healthy lifestyle, so my version of "healthy" eating was also very different.
It was BETTER than before, but it wasn't what I'd eat NOW, after having lived a healthy lifestyle for 8+ years and gaining the knowledge I have now (which I'm sure will be even more so in the next 8 years!)

I hope that makes sense.

I did the best I could with the knowledge and funds I had at that time.

Baby #2 - 2011

After I had Mushy, I began the weight loss process again. This time was much more manageable. I felt like I'd just been through it, and losing the 30 lbs. I needed wasn't too intimidating.
Post baby #2 - 2011 - 171 lbs.

Post baby #2 -2012- 140 lbs. 

Post baby #2 - 2011 - 171 lbs. 

Post baby #2 - 2012- 140 lbs. 
After I lost the baby weight with Mushy, I began to get into other things like weight lifting and spinning.

In 2014 I got divorced, moved in with my parents with the boys and competed in my first bikini competition.




That was a very difficult time in my life.
I was being scrutinized more than I ever had, I was being judged, literally, and I was trying to figure out who the hell I was.
I searched for happiness in a pant size, which I was in a size 2 by the way, the smallest I'd EVER been.
EVER.

One thing I learned from that experience, was a love for the sport. I learned that there's a give and take. I learned that without a support system, it will BREAK YOU DOWN.
I learned that who you surround yourself with is so incredibly vital, something I had been blind to in the past.
But most importantly, I learned how freaking strong I was.
Not physically, but MENTALLY.
I'd never been beaten down so much in my life. And the way I collected myself after that and vowed to move on and NEVER take that again, is something I'm so very proud of.

I started my life completely over.

I found a happy medium.
A place where macros don't control me and I workout to FEEL GOOD.
A place where a number on a scale didn't make or break my mood.
2015 - around 140-145 lbs. Not weighing myself regularly.

I lived in that place for a long time- happy.
I'm STILL happy.

I'm just growing another human and happy. :)

This pregnancy has been the easiest of the 3, thus far.
I have stayed extremely active and eaten pretty healthy.
Both very relative terms, by the way.
But I am spinning 4-5 times a week, lifting 2-3 times a week, and getting in walks and runs still.
I have gained 24 lbs. thus far and I have 9 weeks left.

I have not gotten remarried yet, but that is in our plans.
This baby was a surprise, but it doesn't make us any less grateful for him.
We didn't want to take away the fun and excitement of a wedding just because we got pregnant.
So we are taking things one big life step at a time. :)
First was to purchase our own home.
My DREAM since getting divorced. We did that in November of 2017.

I am just plugging along with this pregnancy and am so incredibly excited to meet this little man and see the boys with him.
30 weeks with baby #3
I will definitely be sharing my post baby #3 weight loss on the blog after he is born. :)
And this time will be a liiiiittle different, so stay tuned!
It's going to be AWESOME.... .and very humbling I'm sure. :)





Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Favorite Maternity Pieces

After I had Mushy in 2011 I gave away all my maternity clothes.
Because, I was all "totally done" with having kids, right?? #eyeroll

Well needless to say, I've had to purchase all new maternity clothes now.

I wore my pre-pregnancy clothes up until about 18 weeks, then finally broke down and bought some.

Here have been my favorite pieces so far! Keep in mind, I work from home and the places I frequent on a daily basis are the boys school, the gym, and my house.
My daily attire is pretty much either workout clothes or athleisure.

Motherhood Maternity Secret Fit Leggings
These are super stretchy and comfy. The full panel is NOT tight. I don't wear these to the gym, just normal everyday wear. Pre-pregnancy I was a size 6 so I ordered a Medium. They are a tiny bit loose, but I can grow into them.

Secret Fit Belly French Terry Maternity Leggings from A Pea in the Pod.
I actually like these ones as well, but the Motherhood ones are my favorite every day wear.

Overalls
I thought all the pregnant models were so adorable in these, so I bought them. They are super comfy and very cute!!!

Articles of Society Maternity Jeans
These are my favorite maternity jeans.
They ALMOST feel like leggings. ALMOST.
Yes, they are a bit pricier, at $88, but they've been well worth it!

Lululemon Wunder Under Workout Legging
These are my go to workout pants, pre-pregnancy.
Once I got pregnant I could still wear them, but only certain pairs. Others were just too tight on my belly.
I did size up in them, went from a 6 to an 8, and that helped a bit.
I'd say they're great for the first two trimesters of workouts for me.
I'm closing in on my 3rd trimester and I haven't been reaching for them as much as I was in the beginning.

Z Supply Pocket Tee
I get asked all the time where I get my plain shirts. They are SO COMFY!
I was wearing them pre-pregnancy in a size Medium, which were loose fitting, and just recently sized up to a Large for the length.
They are a bit loose, but again, I can grow into them.

Lululemon Love Tank
This is one of my favorite workout tanks.
Again, I just sized up from a Medium to a Large for pregnancy and it's worked great!

Old Navy Semi Fitted Run Tank
Another great workout tank!

Old Navy Full Panel Workout Pant
These have been my favorite workout pants the past few weeks.
Good compression and I like the full panel.
My only complaint about these are that they are always out of stock!

H&M Full Panel Jogger Sweats
I got these in gray, but it looks like they only have black available now.
They are THE COMFIEST sweats ever!!!
I got a Medium, then ordered a Small as well. The medium fit good, but loosen up the more you wear them, so I sized down to a Small.

Target Cowl Neck Sweatshirt
This sweatshirt I wear all the time. It is super comfy and flattering! And it's only $25

Aside from these, I can still wear a lot of my pre-pregnancy flowy tops and sweaters!
These are just a few of my favorite maternity pieces! Hopefully you can find a new favorite out of these, too!











Monday, January 15, 2018

FAQ's

I feel like I answer the same questions over and over, which is fine! I just wanted to put them all in a post for you to refer back to!
These are some of the questions I get most on a daily basis.
Let me know if you have any others!

*Some affiliate links included.

What activity tracker do you wear?
I have an Apple Watch Series 2, 38mm. I don't have a screen protector on it and yes, I absolutely LOVE IT! It can get wet, track steps, track activity, calorie burn, etc.

What makeup products are your favorite?
Blush -


Foundation-
I have 2 favorites. I like it Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact (I wear Light in the winter and Medium in the summer), and Ashley Sievert Mineral Velvet Cream (I wear color Paris in the winter and LA mixed with Paris in the summer).

Mascara-


Do you have your eyebrows microbladed?
Yes I do! I went to Christine Rodriguez at Lashes by Christine in Frisco, Tx. She's awesome!
I had them done about 2-3 years ago and I need a touch up, but they've held up great!

What self tanner do you use?
I use Loving Tan. I got the 2 Hour Express Dark and it's awesome!
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT USING THIS WITHOUT A MIT! It WILL stain your hands!

What are your favorite seasonings?
I LOVE Tacticalories Carving House. It is my favorite seasoning I've ever found!
I put it on meat, veggies, eggs, you name it! It is so flavorful!
Casey's seasonings are all really good!
You can use code Brandi for FREE SHIPPING!

How often do you workout? What do you do?
I am currently working out 5-6 times a week. I have gotten to the point in my life where it is a NORMAL part of my day. I don't look at it like punishment, but as something I need to help me feel good!
I am spinning 4-5 times a week, lifting 2-3 times a week and getting in walks/runs a few times a week as well.

What do you do for a living?
I actually do a few things to bring in income. I am an Independent Advocare Distributor, I do social media marketing, I work with brands to promote their products via social media, I sell shirts and merchandise, and I've got a few other things in the works as well!
Most importantly, I am flexible. I get to work from home, be very present in my kids lives and make a living by doing what I love. :)

What is your skincare regimen?
I have had 4 laser skin treatments called mini fraxels in the past 2 years 1/2 years.
I went to Laura Harris at Regional Skin & Laser.
This is a laser procedure to help correct sun damage, skin resurfacing, correct melasma, acne scars, etc.
This has helped my skin TREMENDOUSLY over the past few years.
I also get Botox about every 6 months, (obviously not while pregnant).
Aside from that I maintain my results with ZO Medical products and DAILY sunscreen!

Do you still use your Peloton?
YES! I will admit, I do love a good spin class. It's the atmosphere I'm addicted to, but the Peloton is great when the boys are home or when I can't quite make it to the gym!

What is your daily AdvoCare regimen like now that you're pregnant?
I am drinking my Spark & Rehydrate mix every morning still.
This stuff saved my life in my first trimester. I would save it until the afternoon when the exhaustion would hit HARD!
Now I mix it up in the morning and sip on it throughout my workout.
Peaches and Cream Fiber because EVERY pregnant woman needs fiber, ifyaknowwhatimean.
Omegaplex and Coreplex with Iron are what I use as my prenatal vitamins. I love that they don't give me the nasty aftertaste that most prenatal do.
Catalyst before every workout.
Probiotic every day, twice a day, because I NEEDS IT!
Ready to drink Vanilla protein shakes and meal replacement shakes are my go to snacks.
*all products were cleared by my dr. 

Why do you eat Jasmine rice and not brown rice? I thought brown rice was healthier.
FOR ME, it comes down to Jasmine rice being easier to digest than brown rice.
People tend think that brown rice is "healthier" than white rice, but what they don't realize is how little of a nutritional difference Jasmine rice is to brown rice.
If you'd like more information, here is a great article on it:
https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/brown-rice-vs-white-rice/

Are you still going to get a tummy tuck after the baby is born?
This is still up in the air. Obviously, I will need the baby to be a bit older if I decide to, due to the fact that I won't be able to hold him for awhile. So if I DO, it probably won't be for a few years.

How has your diet been since becoming pregnant?
I am eating pretty mindfully (minus around the holidays where it was a dang free for all).
I'm eating lean meat, rice, veggies, avocados, eggs, toast, skim milk, pizza, tacos, Chiloso, Panera, fruit, etc.
Basically, I am just paying attention to what I eat, but not strictly by any means.
Everything in moderation. :)

What is your favorite dry shampoo?
I LOVE Dry Bar Detox

The key to dry shampoo is using it BEFORE your hair gets too oily! I start using my dry shampoo immediately on freshly washed and dried hair.
That way, I am using it as a preventative measure. I can get 4-5 days out of one wash!

Why do you not share your man with us?
For now, I prefer to keep my private life private. There may come a day when I feel comfortable sharing him with my social media, but for now, I like keeping that part of my life between him and I.





Thursday, January 11, 2018

25 Weeks with Trace

We're nicknaming this baby Trace (as in Tres- Spanish for 3, as in baby #3).
That's not his actual name though. We have one we like better. :)

I'm 25 weeks today and I'm feeling really good.
I am working out 5-6 days a week taking spin classes at the gym, at home on my Peloton, lifting weights 2-3 times a week (not setting any PRs by any means, just lifting light to moderate weight), and running and walking.
Well, it's more like a jog, really.

I will tell you, when I was pregnant with my first in 2009 I didn't move off the couch, unless it was to go get the gallon of Moolenium Blue Bell ice cream in the fridge. Annnnd then back to the couch.

After I had him I began the weight loss process losing 60 lbs. before getting pregnant with #2.

During that pregnancy, I ran a lot. Up until 38 weeks. But that's essentially all I did.
I ate pretty mindfully and gained 31 lbs. with him.

Fast forward to 6 years later.
Here we are, 25 weeks pregnant with the 3rd baby I thought I'd never have, and I feel really friggin good!

I truly believe it's because I've been living a healthy lifestyle for the past several years that it's just NORMAL for me now.

The only thing I've been dealing with is acid reflux (Zantac has helped a TON) and my hips going numb at night because I'm a side sleeper.
This was an issue in both my last pregnancies as well.

But other than that, I have no complaints!

I am so much more laid back with this pregnancy. I got rid of all things baby several years ago so I have literally nothing besides a mini crib for our room (Trace's room is upstairs and he'll be sleeping in our room for awhile bc I'm not trekking up and down those stairs a hundred times in the middle of the night), a few outfits, and some odds and ends.
But I'm not stressing about it.
Anything we need we can buy, and it's just not a huge stress factor like it was with my first two.

I'm also not stressing about work or having time off, etc. This was a huge stress factor with both the older boys. How much time would I get off for work? Would I be able to handle going back to work after having them? What about daycare? Could we afford it?
All things that are no longer factors.

It really couldn't be a better time for me to have a baby.
We are really excited and though I know I'll be completely starting over, I can't wait to see the big boys with their brother.
Mushy keeps telling me every day "uuughhhh, I wish our baby was coming today!"
It makes me smile so big that he wants to meet him that badly!

And bonus- I'll have helpers this time!
Big T was 2 when I had Mushy, so he was no help at all! :)
I'm pretty excited about that!

Up next is getting the nursery set up- though we won't be using it much, and trading the Jeep in for a 3rd row vehicle *cough* NOMINIVAN *cough*

All in all, things are going really well and moving right along!

Here is a pregnancy comparison picture from 25 weeks with Big T & 25 weeks with Trace.
Lots of years of hard work in between there! :)



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Why I Had to Postpone My Tummy Tuck

Remember that time I thought I had my life all figured out?

Hilarious.

A few months ago, my life looked very different.
I was scheduled to have a tummy tuck on September 15th.

Before the tummy tuck, I was being screened for cancer, and had been through a procedure to check for precancerous cells.
So I didn't think anything about the fact that my period was 3 weeks late.

On September 11th I woke up and thought I should take a pregnancy test, just to rule that out.
There is NO WAY I could be pregnant. I was just SURE that the tests I'd been having and stress from that was the explanation.

So I did the thing (peed on a stick) and walked away. I was so calm about it because I was so at peace with how my life was.
I was about to have my biggest insecurity fixed! After all these years of working out and kicking butt in the gym and the extra skin still being there, it was about to be GONE FOREVER.
The plastic surgeon had been 100% paid for, I had the recliner, I had the medications, I was ready.

That's the funny thing about life... just when you think you've got everything figured out, it surprises you.

When I saw those two pink lines on that pregnancy test, I flipped out.

I had a little meltdown.
Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I wasn't excited, that came later, it was just a COMPLETE AND TOTAL SHOCK!
I've never been shocked by a pregnancy before.
Both of the boys I was SURE about. We had been trying and I had already gone through the mental preparation.

That wasn't the case this time.
I called my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years and asked him if he was sitting down.
When I told him the news I started bawling.
It took us many long conversations about our feelings to realize that this was such a blessing.

We are both in such great places in our lives to have a baby. This is his first (and only, because NO MORE!), we both own our own businesses and have flexible hours.
We are both financially stable.
The boys are in school now so I will be home with 1 child during the day, which will be totally manageable... I think.
It really couldn't be a better time.
An UNEXPECTED time, but nonetheless, a really good time!

We had always said that if we had kids together, GREAT, and if not, GREAT!
Our family never felt "incomplete" or unfulfilled.

It took us 2 full weeks for everything to sink in and for the excitement to hit us.
After the positive test, I scheduled a doctors appointment immediately.
I was still being checked for cervical cancer and was terrified that something was going to be wrong.
I was preparing myself to hear "you have cancer, you can't have a baby because it's unsafe" or something worse.
I tried to be as calm as I could about it, but when I went in for my sonogram and the technician told me "well, there's definitely a baby here!" my life instantly changed.

Is it just me or do you feel like sonogram technicians have the power to change your life with one sentence and they don't even know it?!? She was so nonchalant about it.

I was all "well, okay then!"

I heard the heartbeat and all these feelings began coming back to me of when I was pregnant with the boys and heard their little heartbeats.
There really is nothing like it.

When I met with my doctor we went over everything and she assured me I'd be okay being pregnant at 33- something I was admittedly a little nervous about. I mean the last time I had a baby I was in my 20s. This is different. I'm all... older now. Ha.

We also went over the results from the screening and they had found stage 1 precancerous cells, the least threatening outcome. They will just monitor it after the baby is born.

After that, the news of the pregnancy began REALLY sinking in.
I went immediately into work mode, thinking of all the things we had to do before then.
#1 priority was to buy a home. This was already in our plans to do after the first of the year, but I didn't want to be huge and moving, so we fiercely began looking.
#2, marriage. Again, this is something we've talked about for a very long time. We knew we were going to spend our lives together, but with a baby on the way, I knew this is something I wanted to press the fast forward button on.
We discussed our priorities and were in agreeance that house ruled out over marriage right now.
We decided that we will get married next summer.
We don't want the fact that we are having a baby to take away from the excitement and joy of planning a wedding, also his first.

Since then, we have purchased a home large enough for a family of 5.
This has been the most stressful, exciting, crazy experience!
It is a new construction home and we fell in love when we saw it. We knew we wanted to build a life and raise our children there.
We move in in 4 days!

And while my boys are not biologically his, he has never treated them as anything but.
He is forever patient and kind to them and I can't wait to see this man, who loved us when we were so broken, be a father to our child.

I'll update more soon, old school style. :)

15 weeks (Oct 31, 2017):



Friday, July 7, 2017

Cracks

I've been running again recently.
I neglected it for years after I crossed the finish line of those 26.2 miles.
I had just gotten burnt out on it, I wanted to try something new.

It was on this specific run a few days ago that I remembered WHY I used to run so much, what it did for me back then.
It healed me. That sounds so cliche and stupid, but it's true. 

I used to take all the brokenness I was feeling and channelled it into my runs. 
Now, I can't recall every single run I've ever been on, but I can recall every single run that I've ever felt an overwhelming amount of emotion. 
Every single run I've ever let the tears stream down my face as the wind blew on my cheeks and dried them is etched into my mind.
It began happening less and less the more I ran.

Lately I've been running again just to get moving. Nothing super far, just a few miles at a time. For no specific purpose or reason, just to move.
But the other day, after a very difficult morning where the adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and I was on the verge of tears, sitting at my desk, something inside me told me to get up.
The same thing that used to tell me to rush home from work so I could lace up and hit the pavement.
It used to make my legs twitch in my car, gave me anxiety if I didn't go, and made me angry if I missed it.
 
So I listened. 

I put on my Brooks and grabbed my earphones and walked out my front door, adrenaline still coursing through my veins, KNOWING I was going to lose it at any second. 
You know that feeling you have before the first tear falls? It's this huge build up of emotion. Doesn't  matter what emotion it is, happiness, anger, sadness, it just builds until it can't anymore. Until you can't hold it in anymore.

Not a single tear fell from my eyes until I pushed shuffle on my playlist and this song was the first to come on:

I hadn't even made it to the end of my street before tears were streaming down my face full force. My earphones all the way up, I couldn't even hear my own breathing. It wasn't just a singe tear that fell from the corner of my eye, it was a whole lot of rage and anger and sadness and pity in the form of an all out bawl.

I wish I could tell you the one specific event that triggered this burst of emotion, but it was more like a combination of several things... 

I never expected my life to go this way.
This is hard.
How do I do this?
I got to thinking about how all the things I'd had planned for my life had gone awry.
How everything I'd ever done had lead me to this exact place.
How life is not fair.
How, even despite the amazing people in my life now, there are still cracks all over my heart. It's like a vase that's been broken but glued back together beautifully. There are still cracks, no matter how unique the vase is now.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life these days. I am the happiest I've ever been. I have an amazing man in my life that is my rock. He centers me. He supports me and fights for me. He makes me feel like I am the only woman in the world. I have never felt that before him. He loves the boys and teaches them things I can't. He is so incredibly patient and kind to them. He never raises his voice, he never gets angry, he never leaves me wondering, he always puts the boys and I first and he loves us unconditionally. We are blessed to have him.

But what it's taken to get me here sometimes seeps back in and I get overwhelmed thinking about it. 
Thinking about everything I've gone through and the emotional healing I've had, and am still having to do.
It causes this flood of emotions that I don't know how to express. 

So I run.
And the tears fall. 

I'm sad at first, and then I'm angry. 
I feel broken still, if only for a second.

And then I remember what all of that has meant. The tears, the brokenness, the anger, the hurt, the pain, has all lead me to this new life I made for myself and the boys. This beautiful life that I'm so lucky to have. 
A chance to start over. A chance to learn from mistakes and move forward in a positive light. 
It's meant more happiness than I've ever felt. 

I get to re-write my story, and make the ending even better. 
Not many people get that chance. And yes, it's hard, and life is not fair, but sometimes things can go even BETTER than we had planned. 

And then I cry again, because I never thought I could be this happy. 💗


Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Favorite Products- Hair & Skin

I love getting product recommendations from people. It's how I find some of the best products. With that said, I get asked all the time about what products I use.
So I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorites!
I will do another favorites post on makeup coming soon.

*affiliate links are included in this post. I use Amazon a lot, because, Prime.

Let's start with hair products.

↓BRIGHTENING SHAMPOO↓
My favorite shampoo for keeping my blonde, well, BLONDE, and not brassy, is Blonde Ale from Dry Bar. I wash my hair about once a week with this purple shampoo. For all you brunettes tryna be blonde... this stuff is AMAZING!

↓LEAVE IN CONDITIONER↓
I have been using this leave in conditioner for YEARS. I spray it on my hair after I get out of the shower and my brush just slides though. No tangles.
↓DRY SHAMPOO↓
I have tried ALL THE DRY SHAMPOOS. All of them. This one, is my fave. It smells amazing and I use it pretty much every day. Since, yannow, I don't wash my hair but about once every 4-5 days.
PRO TIP: if you are one of the people that thinks that dry shampoo isn't for you, or you've tried it and it hasn't worked.. you are most likely trying to use it too late, i.e., after your hair is already oily and dirty. Use it as a preventative measure- I even use dry shampoo on my clean hair for added texture. 
My 2nd favorite dry shampoo is Amika. It also smells awesome and is cruelty free. 
↓HAIR SPRAY↓
I have been using this hairspray for years. It is my favorite for great hold, but not stiffness!
↓HAIR MASK↓
This is how I use it as a hair mask.. The night before washing my hair the next day, I will soak the ends of my hair in coconut oil, like lather it up from about mid shaft to the ends. Then I braid it and sleep in it. Make sure you put a towel on your pillow because oil will get on your pillowcases. 
Then I wake up the next morning and wash it out in the shower with shampoo (Blonde Ale) and conditioner.
My hair is SOOOOO soft and doesn't feel dry at all. 
If your hair is brittle, dry, or color treated A) don't wash it every day and B) try this!
As far as my hair color goes, here is where I will plug my amazing hairstylist. 
Viviana Dean at Peachy Keen Studio in Dallas does my color and she is AMAZING!
Go see her and tell her I sent you!
Moving on to skincare. 
I am BIG on taking care of my skin. I used to not be like that, but I've been focusing on correcting sun damage for the past 2 years and have really upped my skincare game.
I will do a full post on my mini fraxel laser treatments I've done on my face, which has helped my skin TREMENDOUSLY. Laura Harris at Regional Skin and Laser did my treatments and I highly recommend them.
Until then, let's talk about the products I use to maintain my skin routine.
I get most of my products from Laura at Regional Skin and Laser.
ZO Medical Foamacleanse
This is the facial cleanser I use every night before bed. 
via
EraClea Pure Hydration Serum/Zinc
I put this serum on after I wash my face at night.

via
ZO Medical BrightAlive
This is the "moisturizer" I use after I apply my serum. It helps break up hyperpigmentation and brightens my skin.
via
Rodan + Fields Microdermabrasion Paste
I use the microdermabrasion paste about 3 times a week in the morning when I wake up. It makes my skin super smooth and helps get rid of blackheads. 
via
Rodan + Fields Lash Boost
I have been using Lash Boost for 4 months now. I took off my lash extensions because I was having allergic reactions every time I got them filled. 
When I took off my extensions, my real lashes were short and stubby. So I started using Lash Boost and I am SOLD. 
It has grown my lashes and made them full again. 
I also get a lash tint and lash lift from my girl, Anya
No more extensions for me!
via
Below is a before and during or my results with Lash Boost. I have no mascara on in either picture!
The bottom is after a lash lift and tint. The top is after taking off my lash extensions. 
Pictures are 3 1/2 months apart. 

Last but not least is the product that I have started implementing EVERY DAY, RAIN OR SHINE!
SUNSCREEN!
If I could tell you one thing it would be to PROTECT YOUR SKIN!
I have had to do a lot of damage control to correct my mistakes of not using sunscreen over the years.
My favorite facial sunscreen is Elta MD SPF 40.
It doesn't smell bad and goes on great and not greasy. I simply put it on after washing my face and before putting on any makeup. 


Hope this gave you some great product tips or new things to try out!
Makeup post will be up soon. :)

xo

Friday, May 19, 2017

What I've Learned about Business and Marketing, and How You Can Work From Home

So now that you know a little backstory on what I do and how I make money, I'm going to talk to you about a few things.

I am ALL FOR vehicles that help others fill those financial gaps. I don't care if you see that vehicle in the form of a direct sales company, like AdvoCare or Herbalife, or if it's jewelry like Stella & Dot, or beauty companies like Younique or Rodan + Fields.... it doesn't matter!
Find something you BELIVE IN and run with it.
For me, it was AdvoCare. I love health and wellness and I love the results I get from products and how amazing they make me feel.
If you love something else, AWESOME! I will NEVER push AdvoCare on anyone, nor will I ever say a bad word about someone trying to better their life and family through a direct sales company.
These companies are designed to help ease the financial burden, provide extra "fun money", or help pay the bills every month.

With that said, there ARE wrong ways to do it.
      -Blowing up your newsfeed with XYZ  is one of them. A good rule of thumb is 1 out of every 5 or 6 posts can be about your company.
Don't do it more than that. That's the fastest way to lose your audience and the easiest way for people to get annoyed with not only YOU, but the product you're selling- EVEN IF THEY'VE NEVER EVEN TRIED IT!
     -Direct sales jumping is another way.
Like I said, pick something and stick with it. People need to see you are serious about the product, that you are a product of the product, and that you're not just hopping on the next bandwagon that comes along. This means don't jump ship on one thing and move to the next just a few weeks later.
Give it time and effort- IT IS A BUSINESS! If you're working it like a business, it WILL PAY you as a business!
     -Plug into your leaders and mentors. Learn from the people that have gone before you and have been successful. Most direct sales companies focus on self improvement, something that is ESSENTIAL for entrepreneurs!
READ ALL THE BOOKS YOU CAN!
I recommend starting with the following:

-How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
-Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class by Keith Cameron Smith
-Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
-#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
-The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller

The upside to direct sales is that the business plan is already laid out for you- all you have to do is GIVE IT 110%!

I am also ALL FOR other ways to earn additional income, like starting your own business, with your own product.
Find something you love, something you're good at, and find a way to monetize it.
Are you good at making bows? Awesome, make a bunch, market the crap out of them, and open an Etsy store.

Do you know how I started learning about marketing? When I had the old blog I reached out to people on Etsy asking if they would donate items so I could give them away when I hit certain follower milestones on the blog.
By doing this, I was automatically helping out the Etsy store owner, by giving them free advertising on their products, but I was also giving people an incentive to follow my blog.
One of the first people I reached out to was Vanessa at Ruffles With Love.
She was making workout tanks in her spare time, she also had a full time job. I asked her to donate a few tanks and she then began getting a lot of orders because I was promoting her products. She began offering me a discount code, so my readers could get a discount on her products, and by default she could track how many people were coming to her from me.
Fast forward to today, and that little side gig Vanessa had, has now turned into a full time job for her. She has also recently opened up her own online boutique, as well.
No, it's not because of me, she did that on her own, I'm simply sharing what can happen when you market correctly!

I did this with another company you may recognize as well, Kiki LaRue.
The owner, Becka, reached out to me several years ago. At the time, she was running her store out of her house and just starting out.
She has now grown to having an online store, a store front boutique and is opening several more in different locations.
She has EXPLODED over the years, because she marketed her brand like a mad woman.

These are a few of the things I began to pick up when I was writing my blog.
Like I've said, I didn't know people even got paid for blogging. I didn't ever expect that to happen or know it was possible.
But once I got laid off from my job in the corporate world, I began thinking "how can I monetize what I'm already doing?"

No, that's not greedy, IT'S BUSINESS.

I was already sharing products I was taking and loving with people via social media. Sure, I made some extra money through ads on my website and affiliate links, but I began to think bigger.
Companies were reaching out to me like crazy wanting me to promote their products. In the beginning, I did it for free. I thought, "cool, I'll link to your store for a free shirt", or whatever.
But once I began to put it in perspective, I was getting the crap end of the deal.
I was basically advertising for companies for free. They were getting thousands of dollars in product orders because people were buying from my recommendations, and I was getting, what, a free t-shirt/product?
I began sending out a media kit and charging for posts promoting products.
I'd only promote the products I loved, because I knew that's how I'd gained trust from my readers in the beginning. I didn't want to start shelling out some slim tea or whatever, just for a buck.

Don't sell yourself short.
Know your worth.

THAT'S BUSINESS.

Once you begin thinking like an entrepreneur, the possibilities are endless.

If you're looking to earn extra money from home and you already have a product, I recommend reaching out to people with followings. Ask to send them a product in exchange for them posting. What's the worst they can say, no?
When you do this, realize some of them may have caught on and will now send out a media kit, charging you for posting. It usually goes- people with a larger following can charge more.

Host giveaways, ask for product donations from people, telling them you will promote their product in your giveaway, which gives them free advertising. This will help grow your following as well.

Ask for a coupon code on their products for your readers/followers. That way the company can track how many people you are sending their way.

GAIN THE TRUST OF YOUR FOLLOWING.
Don't sell them crap you would't personally use or love.
It basically all boils down to this:
Take care of people, and they'll take care of you.

Anyone can earn income from home, we all have talents or things we're good at. You've just got to find a way to monetize it!

If anything, I hope this post helps you take that leap of faith and gives you the belief that YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!



xo











Thursday, May 11, 2017

Making It Work

When my ex and I split we decided no matter how hard it was going to be on US, that we'd never make it difficult for the kids.
We decided we were going to handle the divorce ourselves. No lawyers, no child support, no arguing.
I left the house and the life we'd built together for the past 12 years and I took my clothes and half the kids clothes to my parents house.
The boys and I lived there for a little over half a year. Mind you, I had recently been laid off from my job and now add a divorce on top of that.
It was stressful. There were days when the only thing that got me out of bed was my boys.

Now I know not everyone can do this, but I NEEDED to start my life over. I didn't know HOW I was going to do that, or what I was going to do for money, I just knew that if I didn't do it NOW, I never would have.
I was too proud to ask for money from anyone, so I made it work.
I began monetizing the thing I was already doing, sharing my life via social media. At some point I will get into all of that, and how I made money with that blog, which lead to many other business ventures.
At the time, I was making some extra money with AdvoCare, just by sharing the products I was taking, loving and getting great results with. So I decided to switch gears and focus on my AdvoCare business, which is what allows me to be a flexible work from home mom today.
You can watch my entire AdvoCare story HERE.

Back to the split... It was hard.
All the things you acquire together over the course of 12 years is a lot.
I wanted none of it. I wanted to grow and bloom into this person I was becoming. I wanted to buy things with my own money (that I had NONE of at that time). I wanted to be independent and know I could support not only myself, but the boys too.
I hadn't had to balance a checkbook since I was 18, my ex husband controlled all of the money, which left me feeling clueless and powerless. I had been taken care of for 12 years, so being on my own, now with two kids to support, terrified me.
This is where I was really tested. Where my mindset went from corporate employee to entrepreneur. I started thinking in terms of survival. How much money did I need to move out of my parents house and into my own house? How much money did I need to furnish the entire house and all of things I'd left behind?
I remember the very first thing I bought on my own was bunk beds for the boys. I was so proud of those bunk beds, because it symbolized hope for me. Hope that I could do this, that I could fully support them and give them everything they needed.

The hardest part was watching the boys through all of it. They were 4 and 2 at the time and all they knew was mommy and daddy together, in the same house.
It broke my heart into a million pieces the first time my 2 year old asked me "mommy, when are we going home?" while laying in bed one night at my parents house.
I had to force back the tears in my eyes.
I will never forget that moment and how ashamed and broken I felt.
I felt responsible, like I was letting them down, like we'd never be a family again, like I could have tried harder for them.
And I tried, for years I tried. There is only so much a person can take and although it was harder now that I had them to think about, I knew in my heart of hearts I was making the right decision.

I am here to tell you, if you are going through something similar, cling to your babies. They need you and you need them in times like that.
I am also here to tell you, it gets better.
I don't know another way to say that, but I hope you truly believe that it DOES.
Sometimes we are just so caught up in the NOW, that we can't imagine it being any better.
We think we will always feel broken and the wounds will never heal.
They do.

My ex and I have a good relationship now. We are friends, we attend school functions together, take the boys places together, and keep the boys first.

I am the absolute happiest I have ever been and the boys are thriving. They don't see mommy and daddy's divorce as a bad thing. They know we are still a family, and if anything, they have seen their mommy AND daddy both grow immensely through it. We are both better people now.

I never want to be an advocate for divorce. I know many people can work through hard things together and grow together, and I have major respect for those people, we just weren't them.

It is not easy to coparent. You have to be selfless and forgiving.
But aren't you already that way with your children?
Why do our (ex)spouses not deserve the same?

If you are holding on to something, let it go. You deserve peace, and your children do too.
We all deserve forgiveness, even if that means forgiving yourself first.


xo