Letters To My Beloved

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Dear Baking Soda,

It’s been difficult to get time away for just the two of us lately, but yesterday we managed to steal 5 hours. It was still warm but I made you bring your coat. We took the train into the city. You convinced me to spent time giving love to the dogs at the animal shelter, even though it usually makes me sad; I just hate seeing them all locked up and isolated. I love the kindness you have in your heart to want to do it, so I go to soak in these moments with you. I want a dog. I think it would help ease that longing for another baby. In all honesty, it’s just the pregnancy and infancy stages I miss so much, but we all know children grown and we are both worn out from our lot. Yes, a dog would be nice, but our goals of traveling the world would make dog ownership a little more difficult too, so for now, we just go to the shelter and love on all the homeless furbabies.

We shared one of the best blueberry muffins I’ve ever eaten, browsed the Homegoods and your commentary on the products made me laugh. Your thorough search of Hanukkah items also made me laugh. Our new favorite sushi restaurant opened at 5 so we walked back over and made conversation with the staff. I love hearing you speak Japanese; I know it’s not a romance language, but baby, when it comes from your lips, it is.

You used to get so flustered when I’d ask you to speak to me in “your language”. You used

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to tell me that Japanese didn’t have the emotional words that you wanted to convey to me. You would get slightly irritated when I’d ask you to repeat your words and phrases three times for me to memorize correctly. This year, you finally saw that I was serious about learning and our lessons seemed to finally pay off when the ladies at the restaurant told you I sounded like a natural speaker (no American accent) when I spoke to them. Your posture straightened as you turned your broad smile to me. I was proud of myself too. I am learning your native tongue as a show of respect and so that I may be of use to your family when we go visit. I still have a long way to go until I’m fluent, so keep teaching me!

We have less than 6 days until our babies spend Christmas with their other sets of parents. As much as I will miss them, I am so looking forward to our two weeks of adventuring alone together. You’re my best friend, the best travel companion, and I couldn’t pick anyone better to share my birthday, New Years kiss, and a “cuddle-in-the-snow” adventure with.

Speaking of adventure, I didn’t get a chance to thank you for the one you gave me last night. You held me on to me on the metro so I didn’t have to hold the rail. You kissed me and laughed heartily, as if we were new lovers. I hear so many women complain that their relationships lack romance, but you have never let these home fires burn out. You told me the other day that you were scared I’d get bored with you. The abuse and neglect you’ve received in your past relationships makes it difficult for you to believe, but one day you’re going to see yourself through my eyes and you’re going to truly understand how incredible you are and how I could never be bored with you.

Because I am the sole recipient of your love,

Because I am your twin flame,

Because I have found you in this life,

I am the luckiest.

YHMH,

Your Vinegar. img_3727

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Is It Worth It? Let Me Work It!

401521_359081017452654_1969373863_nIt’s a little emotionally overwhelming to think of how overwhelmed I was when I first started my journey as a photographer. I was a young mother, ashamed that I couldn’t make end’s meet without applying for food stamps. I was determined to find a way to get off as soon as possible, but how? Daycare is ridiculously expensive and it made more sense for me to stay home. I did odd jobs, ironing, cleaning, helping my new husband with his side jobs, mowing lawns, and even ran a small childcare service out of the house for a small amount of time. My first husband was already a talented photographer when we met in high school, but our hometown’s art industry was already a saturated market so he only did it on the side. Soon after our first child was born, I helped Phillip created a photography business and assisted him as a means to avoid having to pay a second shooter or assistant. Photography allowed me to be a work from home mother, 10516623_929408613753222_8308278055715364626_nbeing there every day for my children, even while going through a painful divorce. I was able to homeschool my children, go to college all while continuing to work my business. I found myself becoming depressed and withdrawn, an anxious version of the woman I used to be, but running my business forced me to continue to be social and active in the community.

I met a fantastic friend through photography and that friend introduced me to an incredible man at a photographer’s meet up. I married him 2 years later.

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Essentially, I have photography to thank for my husband and the majority of my friends.

Last year, I grew tired of running a business by myself, tired of working 80 hours to avoid working 40. I struggled to find a work/home life balance, which caused months of growing pains. Luckily, my hubby is kind of a smart guy, so we started attending counseling sessions to learn how to balance the many different time constraints on our relationship and how communicate more effectively with one another. With a few small tweeks, I saw a 300x increase in profits in less than 6 months time. I am working less and enjoying my family more because of how I’ve streamlined the company.

In four months, I’m becoming a first time homebuyer, with money in the savings. In addition to that excitement, another goal is being realized; I’m starting my journey as a traveling photographer. For years I’ve talked about all the beautiful places I want to capture. Finally setting aside dates and make those travel plans a reality is almost surreal.

Life goals are being worked into place.
It wouldn’t be possible without dedication and the encouragement and support I get from the love of my life, who tells me I can accomplish anything… with a proper plan.

The point of sharing all of this is to get across that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Stressing about things that are beyond your immediate control is an absolute waste of your energy. When there doesn’t seem to be a way around an impossible situation, get creative. Find your tribe, surround yourself with a team of people who think different than you, and if you can’t find a group of people who believe in you, f*ck it, let me know and I’ll be there! You can do whatever you set your mind to… You’ve got this!

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Celebrating 32 Years of Orbiting a Flaming Ball of Plasma!

When I was about 8 or 9, my parents chipped together enough money to buy a karaoke 1917870_101712163189542_7234914_nmachine. It was an expensive gift, so it was a Christmas/birthday present. I loved to sing, I was a performer, and their gift taught me to take my dreams and aspirations seriously.
For my 10th birthday, the only thing I was looking forward to was finally being in the “double digit” category. I mean, for a kid, those kind of milestones can be HUGE! But that year, first thing in the morning, I opened a white box with a giant green cellophane bow on top from my Aunt Janeen and Uncle Skip. They gave me a microscope. It was serious. It went up to 100x magnification, had solutions and glass slides. I cherished it. I collected samples from ponds, from under fingernails, and hair samples (that was my favorite to look at for some reason) carefully stored away in glass jars. They gave me the gift of scientific exploration and the knowledge that there is more to see than what is visible to the naked eye.31043_130341826993242_561610_n
 
I am a winter baby and most people think it’s a sucky time of year to have a birthday, but I love the snow and most of my birthdays were white, that was certainly my one wish every year anyway. I’ve been having a hard time with the lack of seasons in San Diego, but I made choices in life, and one of those was to allow myself to fall in love with a military man and raise our children where we’ve been planted. I don’t regret that decision one bit, my husband is better than a lifetime full of white Christmases and birthdays. When my love asked what he could get me for my birthday, I said, “you.” My birthday has never been about the presents, it’s about all the things that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
 
Today, I celebrate my 32nd year of life. I don’t need gifts, for I have more than I ever dreamed; a husband who is my equal, our 7 kind-hearted children, my tribe of friends and family, a comfortable home. I want for nothing, yet, here I sit with one of the most memorable gifts. My husband gave me the gift of time… in the form of a road trip… to go play in the snow.

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Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, phone calls, and messages. I am packing up right now, feeling a little overwhelmed with my emotions, but I will respond to each one. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to think of me. ❤

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Good God, You’re Beautiful!

I am ending this year strong. I have an incredible marriage, vibrant children who have the courage to be themselves, I slay my workouts, and all my goals are being accomplished. Yay me!

BUT, I have one more goal that I just set today that may be the hardest one yet.

I live in Southern California where it seems that all the women are young, fit, trendy and beautiful. I stand naked in front of the mirror and nitpick my flaws so much that I have a hard time believing my husband when he tells me how physically beautiful I am. I would never do this to anyone else, why do I do it to myself? Apparently this is a common thing for my gender and this has to stop.

As I head into the new year, I head into a new chapter of my career and a new self-care routine. I’m planning more reflective time to keep my cup full which means more yoga, more walks in the woods, more journaling, less coffee and more water & green tea, more dates with myself, and being less critical of my reflection. I am worth it. Every single one of us is worthy of love, and it all starts from within.

This year, I wish us true acceptance of self and the joy that stems from it.

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The Case of the Dropsy Dame

I ventured out to my local grocery store last night and forgot my reusable bags. I wasn’t about to pay 10¢ for another one as I didn’t have much. I carefully cradled my produce and flowers in my arms yet somehow, on my way back to the truck, my clutch slipped out, unnoticed.
When I couldn’t find it a few hours later, I simply chalked it up to being misplaced in my home. But at 4am when I got up to go to the gym, I became irritable. I drove without my license to go hunt down my license (and money). Low and behold… the store didn’t open until 6. Crap. That put a damper on my plans, I need my key card or id to get into my gym, I have errands to run, my tank is on empty (don’t give me that look J), I have to have my id to get on base and for the mortgage refinance meeting today…

I went home, I called my grocery store and the lady who answered told me to call again around 8 because all found items go in the safe and they only have access to it after that time. I determined to make the most of my morning, even if I couldn’t make it to the gym, and I did.

It was soon time to drop the kids off at school. I locked my door only to find I had locked my truck keys in the house, the windows were all closed and locked (because of the torrential downpour we are experiencing (and you know… safety) and I didn’t have a credit card to try to shimmy my lock open. My son remembered he had a spare, but when we arrived at his school, he realized he had forgotten his helmet so he couldn’t ride his bike home. I stopped back at my store and described my clutch to the manager. She smiled thoughtfully and went back in the office. She didn’t let me wait long before saying that she knew it was mine because she recognized my face from the id that was inside. My cards were all inside and I am sending a big, fat karma kiss out into the universe for whomever the Good Samaritan was that turned it in.

Hiccups do not have to define your day, regardless, I certainly hope you won’t have any like mine. Happy Friday!

How to Lose the Extra Weight in your Life

I push.
I push my husband to have relationships with people he doesn’t care to. I felt it was my job as his wife to keep those lines of communication open. I wanted to show him a level of love and support that he had yet to experience. But the truth of the matter is all my pushing led him to harbor resentment towards me. He didn’t want a relationship with people who showed only a casual, surface level interest in him and our family. I’ve been pushing since I first met him in 2012 and it was only this week he asked me to stop. I see where he is coming from. I think I have been projecting; I couldn’t fix my relationships with my parents and siblings, but I could try to help him. But I don’t just do it with my husband, people are constantly drawn to me during difficult times in their lives. I am compassionate, I am empathetic, I am an awesome listener, and I have a background in psychology. I have many tools and a healer’s heart… I get sucked in. I used to tell people I would be there for them any time they needed, and I would be. I would give of myself and my time until my cup was empty. It took a toll on my health, my family, and my own goals.

I needed a tune up so J and I started going to counseling again. He was tired of seeing me with such undefined boundaries in my life. I was tired of being emotionally drained. We have learned how to better communicate with one another, I have learned how to give my husband the floor to speak and how to truly listen to him. I was listening with my heart the other night when my husband told me to stop pushing his relationships with others. I listened. My first reaction was to defend my “why”, the reasoning behind why I wanted him to keep reaching, but I had to stop my inner dialogue so I could hear him.

The truth of the matter is, my husband is the most incredible man I’ve ever known. He has a lot to offer in a relationship. He is self actualized. He is driven, kind, humorous, loyal, and he is certainly deserving of people who will offer the same.

My 8th grade teacher passed on a word of wisdom to us that has stuck with me. He said, “Three things are guaranteed in life: You are born. You make choices. You die. What makes your life important are the choices you make everyday.” I hate surface relationships as much as my husband. I have a distain for mediocrity and repetition that doesn’t enrich one’s life, So when I recognize it in myself I am quick to cut it out. Yet, setting new boundaries is not usually something that you can just decide to do and that’s the end of it. It takes time, practice, constant work, and adjustment. The strength of any relationship, especially the relationship you have with yourself, is forged in times of growth.

My husband and I find ourselves in a state of growth, a state of deciding what is important and what is not. Redefining who we are and what we both want out of life together has had it’s share of growing pains, for which I am grateful. Time is precious because it is fleeting, thus, Justin and I will only be giving our time and energy to people who seek it, respect it, and value it. I am certain mediocrity has a place in this world, but that place is not in our life. Old clothes, old habits, old wounds, grudges, miserable and surface people… If it doesn’t serve a purpose in my life, if only just to add beauty, it’s gone. I am unburdening myself of everything that I have been allowing to weigh me down.

The best is yet to come and I am ready for all the beauty this life has to offer.

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“You don’t deserve to understand truth if all that you want is just the normal life.”
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

Being There

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My youngest, “Ms. Sassypants” isn’t always thrilled about the morning photo.

My morning ritual with my babies is my favorite part of the day. I take a photo of them each morning before we load up in the car. I dedicate the first part of the morning commute to my daughters. We talk about anything they want.

They are silly, full of energy and they try to convince me to let them drive. Usually my youngest will call out each and every turn I need to make. They are factual and precise. I don’t always fully appreciate that my children have an opinion on… EVERYTHING, but I try to remember that this just comes with the territory of raising independent thinkers and they are developing their leadership skills.

After my daughters are dropped off, I take my son out to coffee (once a week that includes breakfast). This is our uninterrupted time together. we talk about his interests, we talk about peer pressure, we have open conversations about urges, dating, stories he loves, politics, his teachers, religions; everything. He is insightful, nerdy, witty, decisive. I get to see through to the young man he is developing into, and I am proud of the set of ethics that he holds dear to him.

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My son’s candid smile melts my heart. 

They don’t care how successful I am. They don’t care what I can achieve each day. They don’t care about what I can’ afford to buy them. All these kids care about is that I show up. They know I will be there volunteering in their classrooms, checking in with their teachers, being on their tails to make sure they get their homework and chores done, listening to them talk about their days at the dinner table every night, watching their performances, helping them do their hair and make bows with them, and taking time to watch game creations; all they care about is that I am there, paying attention.

I most certainly am.20160525_073940

Tech Trouble

I went to turn on my SHIELD device to watch a little tv while crafting, but it gave me an mtp error message. I fiddle around trying to trouble shoot it and after about 5 minutes decide to call up my resident tech expert to assist.

J gets on the line and the first thing he asks is: “Did you already unplug it and plug it back in again?”

I say something along the lines of, “Seriously? Honey, that’s your go-to solution for all tech issues. It can’t be that easy of a fix.”

He tells me just to try it so I do, then low and behold… it begins to work properly. I can all but hear his smug smile over the phone.

Is 10:00 am too early for wine?

SPIRIT WEEK/RED RIBBON WEEK


Monday

The Stig Sisters-Dress Wacky Day
StigKidC-Wear White (to white out drugs)

OTHERWISE KNOWN AS… Monday and mom forgot. The kids actually dressed in perfectly matching clothes, which is wacky for them… and TOTALLY COUNTS, but I didn’t get a picture of it because we were running late.

Tuesday
The Stig Sisters- Superhero’s Day
StigKidC- Wear Your Sunglasses (too bright for drugs)

Ava had a field trip to the fire station and was… “SUPER” excited to see some real heroes on superhero day. Grace, well… Grace asked if she could be a villain instead. Chris couldn’t see his sunglasses on his desk so now I’m more concerned with getting him regular glasses, but somehow, I don’t think that will fix his selective vision.img_0952

Wednesday
The Stig Sisters-Hat Day
StigKidC- Mismatched Clothes (drugs are no match for us)

The girls had a sleepover with their friends because I wanted to give their mother a break who had just had surgery. They didn’t bring hat with them choose hats out of my personal collection and my prop box. Gracie wore my snapback, which was just too cute with her boots that she’s obsessed with. Ava got extra credit for wear both a hat AND mismatched clothes. Everyday is pretty much mismatched clothes day for Chris because he has yet to develop an interest in fashion. I’ve given up on influencing my son’s fashion. So long as his clothes are clean, I don’t care what he wears.img_0975

Thursday
The Stig Sisters- Sports Jersey Day
StigKidC- Dress as a Nerd (too smart for drugs)

This one was a challenge, as we don’t follow sports teams and certainly don’t have any jerseys.. but Chris saved the day by getting out one of his old jerseys and I convinced Grace that my kickball shirt could pass as a jersey. I sent off the daily photos to their dads and they both instantly replied that Chris looked like himself. It is 100% true, but he usually wears shorter socks. #dadjokes #MyKidIsTotallyANerdimg_0993

Friday
The Stig Sisters- Crazy Hair Day
StigKidC-Dress as a Superhero (too super for drugs)… (seriously? I thought we already did this!)

My hubby and I both woke up late (seriously, twice in one week?) but I knew I had to finish the week strong. Chris threw on a cape. It was his sister’s purple cape, but he rocked that s***! They had happened upon the upcoming TROLLS movie trailer and both requested “troll” hair. I teased, hair sprayed, and pinned the girls’ tresses into coiffed, shapeless bouffant. I didn’t have time to color their hair, so we added flowers instead.

I was pretty proud of my handiwork until I saw one to the single dads at our school, walking his daughter in with her hair formed into a perfectly spiraled unicorn horn and pony tail, that was sprayed purple and dusted with sparkles. Kudos dad!

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Best. Weekend. EVER!

Last weekend was the first kid free weekend Justin and I have had in a very long time. My ex-husband moved back to California and we arranged to have his weekend visitation align with Justin’s ex’s weekends, leaving us KID FREE every other weekend. Wooohoooo!!!

It all started with a beautiful sunset while driving up to Oceanside for our friend’s BBQ and adult pool party.20160819_192752

We partook in a little alcohol consumption (including one of my favorites, Mamamango Moscato) so of course we were responsible and stayed in their guest room. We woke up and our fabulous hostess made us amazing omelettes (girl can cook)!

5bd83af4be00e52b810812931233f778We then discussed our plans for the day and decided to go make a day out of “good eats”.

First stop, The lighthouse.

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We sat up at the bar and ordered their grilled fish tacos (no sauce) and white clam chowder.

Umm… YES. it was delicious.

Our friends had to take off for a little bit so J and I decided to get dessert over at our favorite Italian family restaurant, Dominic’s. Okay, I may be a little biased as the Trupiano family are friends of mine, but honestly, their food is top notch! J and I sat at a little back table, ordered their crème brûlée, got a fabulous wine pairing, and fed one another as everything else in the world melted away.

We had made arrangements to meet back up with our friends at Love Boat Sushi, where I learned that I am finally starting to understand some basic  words in Japanese and J pointed out the errors on the menu where the wrong words were used. I don’t know if he was right, but I took his word for it since he is Japanese and works as a translator when the Japanese Marines come here to train.Sashimi Copyright: Fiskeriforskning

Still full from our fish tacos, I ordered 4 pieces of salmon nigiri and water with lemon (my usual drink), which has been my go to order lately. It was just the right amount.

We headed South as a group to the Fish Market restaurant in Del Mar for oysters in the half shell. This was amusing as it was J’s first time eating raw oysters. I mentioned that oysters are thought to be an aphrodisiac and humorously mused that it’s probably because they have the consistency of semen. For some reason, this didn’t get his excited to try them, but he had already committed to the experience and he couldn’t back out.
the fish marketOur dear friend, and J’s fellow “Asian Persuasion”had pity on him and fixed up the oysters with fresh horseradish and sriracha, resulting in  J’s (recorded) reaction being less dramatic than I had hoped as he actually enjoyed it.

I had to go home to change and then we were off again to The House of Blues. J had arranged for tickets to see some awesome tribute bands, White Elephant (White Stripes), These Killers (The Killers), and the headliner, Green Today (Green Day). Green Today was high energy and perfectly emulated the sound, look, and stage presence of Green Day. Our Lovely lady friend pulled some strings and got us VIP seating, which was pretty awesome!

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The night was drawing to a close. We said goodnight to our friends and headed to our ocean front hotel in neighboring Point Loma. The beds were incredibly comfortable and sometime later J and I were drifting to sleep in each other’s arms, listening to the sound of the ocean waves spilling over the rocks a few steps from our patio.

Sunday morning we woke up, sat peacefully beside one another on the beach boulders, built cairns, headed back to our room, then headed out to spend the day at Seaworld, riding every ride and taking full advantage of our all day dining passes. J also surprised me with a beautiful oyster shucking experience. I had him pick the oyster and the pearl inside happened to be silver, which according to the color chart, is symbolic of love; how serendipitous.

It was the perfect combination of socialization, craziness, excitement, and relaxation beside the love of my life. I am looking forward to this newfound time together and many more adventure dates. Next stop: Las Vegas!