Joint Birthday Themes

Okay, so for my girls 1st and 3rd joint party I started mulling over ideas about 6 months in advance. Never too early, right?? Well, maybe it’s a bit too early… but I can’t help it! The planning is the fun part!

I’m currently obsessing over a Donuts 🍩 and Dinosaurs 🦕🦖 theme for my girls. Z loves talking about Dinosaurs (she’s my little Zivasaurus) and Ari is too small to have much of an opinion! Plus, after going the princess route for Halloween I wanted to make sure we maintained a little balance when it comes to the overly gendered tropes.

(We were the royal family of Enchancia for those of you who aren’t familiar with Sofia the first and her sidekick, Clover the rabbit.) Since I’ve got our theme all hammered out. I started thinking of Boy/girl themes to share with my sister-in-law for her two who have close birthdays as well.

Okay. So really any theme can be either gender, but here are some super cute gendered party theme pairings for a Boy/Girl Joint party:

  • Mermaids 🧜‍♀️ and Pirates
  • Sharks 🦈 and Mermaids 🧜‍♀️
  • Under the Sea
  • Circus
  • Bugs (Caterpillar 🐛 and Butterfly 🦋, Lady bug, etc)
  • Superboy and Supergirl
  • Superheros and Princesses 👸🏼
  • Superheros (medley of them, girls and guys)
  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse
  • Bows 🎀 and Bow ties 🤵
  • Trucks and Tutus
  • Wonder Woman and Superman

Oh man, I could keep going all day it seems. But, I want to hear from you! What are your favorite joint birthday themes (Boy/Girl, 2 girls or 2 boys). Links to Pinterest boards welcome. 😉

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It Won’t Be Like This For Long

*I wrote this post back in 2015 when my oldest, Ziva, was a newborn. I never posted it because it felt cliche telling people “you’re gonna miss this” etc. that’s the last thing a mom struggling with baby blues or who is not into the newborn phase wants to hear. I just came across this post wasting away in my drafts folder and it struck me how much it is still true for me. It brought me to tears remembering how intensely I savored each moment of the early days as a mama. Even with baby number 2 I was too busy and distracted to fully indulge in those early days of drowsy couch nursing sessions and staring endlessly at the new life in my arms. I cry a little out of sadness for myself and Arielle that we didn’t get as much focused time together, and a little because the memory of the feelings in the early days of motherhood are still so strong- and true in each phase we’ve entered since. It all just goes too darn fast.

Even the hard parts of each stage just remind me how fast they are growing and changing, and how soon they won’t be my little babies anymore. Oh gosh, here come the waterworks again! Arielle is already 5 months old today and Ziva is 2 and a half. our newborn days may or may not be behind us forever now… so now more than ever I feel the truth in these words I wrote 2 and a half years ago. It’s okay if you’re not feeling the same way about newbornhood, but I know some mamas out there can appreciate these sentiments!

***

May 12, 2015

For some people the newborn phase can be pretty grueling. While I was pregnant I was preparing myself for the sleep deprivation, difficult crying sessions and all of the challenges of being a new mommy to a brand new little girl. But instead of finding myself wishing away our newborn days, I’ve found that I absolutely love it. If you aren’t feeling the same, don’t hate me, just hear me out.

Sure, I’m tired… I smell like spit-up (bile and sour milk), I’m pretty sure I have spit-up in my hair more often than not. I’m sweating from the heat of her little body constantly pressed up against mine. My wrist sometimes feels like it’s going to get stuck in one position from being squashed under her little head during long nursing and nap sessions. I can’t fit in most of my clothes still and I definitely am not feeling pretty. So, what has possessed my over-tired brain to make an outrageous declaration of love for this phase?

It’s going to be gone before I know it, in the blink of an eye I’ll be back at work missing these moments with a fierce nostalgia and love.

DIY Ring light Tutorial

As some of you may know, I’ve made a shift in my hobby/business life and now sell an awesome long lasting liquid lip color and other makeup and skin care from SeneGence. It’s pretty much the bomb and I’m absolutely loving the work, people, and products. You can check out my products and get to know me better by joining my FB community at:

http://www.Facebook.com/groups/TwoLipsAndKisses

BUT, makeup work requires amazing selfies, and amazing Selfies require amazing lighting.

A professional style ring light goes for around $150 on Amazon, which is enough to make me want to hold off on buying one. (I’ll stick with my afternoon window selfies, thank you very much).

That is, until my wonderful friend and upline sponsor shared this amazing, simple, and genius tutorial with me, made by our fellow SeneSister, Siara Martin.

Siara takes AMAZING lip photos and is awesome enough to share her work with the rest of us. Here are the deets from her tutorial:

“List of things you need:

1.Aluminum Foil

2.18″ or 20″ wire wreath.
Here’s an example:FloraCraft, 20” Wire Wreath Form https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DE2J0X8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_8FyJybZS573AB
I got my wreath from Hobby Lobby with 40% off coupon and it ended up being like 2-3$

3.Daylight White LED strip lights (1.5 for 18″ and 2 for 20″). Here’s the link:
LE 16.4ft LED Flexible Light Strip (Daylight White) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSF65MC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_w3aEybZ4EP3FV

4.Power Adapter:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DKSI0S8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_V5aEybKXS90KT

Optional: What I use to hold my phone up for live videos: 2-in-1 Mobile Phone Car Mount, Holder, Secure Phone/GPS to Windshield or Air Vent, Padded, Adjustable Grips, Fits Iphone 6 6+ 5 Galaxy S6 S5 Phones https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N4J9J9W/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_EdidzbB7F5G3W

Optional: someone added suction cups to the back of theirs and suctioned it to their mirror (brilliant!) Here’s a link of some as an example:
Darice Suction Cup without Hooks, 20mm https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0018N26LY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_bMyJybDEG6J08
OR suction cups with hooks and hang your light.
Mudder 45mm Bathroom Kitchen Suction Cup Wall Hooks Hangers, 12 Pack https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F76BPAU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_tOyJybNPWTHWM

Tape can help keep everything together on the backside but isn’t required.

An 18″ ring light will cost about 20-25$
A 20″ ring light will cost about 30$

Reasons you need a ring light:
1) See your face in correct and bright enough lighting when doing your makeup
2) Do pretty live videos
3) Take clean pretty pictures of stuff. (Not just your face!)
4) You can hang, clip, lean anywhere you want and can move around with you.
5) Super affordable!”

You can watch her tutorial here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/loveyourlipswithsiara/permalink/1542760539085373/

So, does the ring light really improve your photos, here’s a before and after comparison using some pretty awful pajama selfies I just took 😂.

Um, awkward much? I must love you guys for sharing this one with you. We like family, yo.

Yeah, I’d say this here ring light is a winner. I’m still working on the perfect mounted position for the light on the bathroom mirror, and I think I’ll get me one of those pretty sparkly photo backdrops eventually (no more shampoo cameos). I also got a cheap cell phone tripod from Amazon that I really like so far (in all 1 time I’ve used it… but you know #expert).

Acuvar 50″ Inch Aluminum Camera Tripod and Universal Smartphone Mount https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SHJPMEU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apip_J6D74xa3lUALO


I was so grateful to Siara for this tutoria, and I hope you find it useful too! Happy shooting! 💁💡📱

Two more weeks of Maternity leave

Arielle is 12 weeks old already. It’s amazing how much she’s grown and changed before our eyes. And it’s amazing how fast we got here. Wasn’t she born like a week ago?!? 

And with that, the saddest countdown has begun… I can feel it in that lump in my throat and the urgency to soak it all in just a little more. I’ve been through this once before with Ziva, and it’s no easier the second time around. 14 weeks is a blessing (especially for an American company), but that’s about 38 weeks less than my heart can stand. 

It’s almost harder the second time around… I know what I’ll be missing this time. I know how fast the months turn into years and the baby cheeks melt away to toddler antics. I know how much changes week to week and month to month, and how if you even blink they turn into a whole new person. 


So, for now I’ll soak in the warmth of baby snuggles and all day cuddle sessions. I’ll hold her just a little longer and entertain her baby convos as long as she wants to babble in my direction… and love her just as hard as I can every minute I can. 

Honest Social Media

I’ve read a fair number of opinion pieces about how people lie on social media. Presenting an overly perfect, positive facade for the world, leading to feelings of inadequacy and envy in real-world moms. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of being one of those people (the missy McPerfectPants of the web). In fact, other than full-time bloggers staging a shoot with amazing lighting and perfect settings, and people who make a living off Instagram ads, I think most people are pretty real about their lives (or just don’t share very much). I mean, why would you want to share that your kitchen table is so covered in clutter you can’t use it?! Not that ours is… it is…Okay, it is, actually. 

Well, since I’m a chronic oversharer, I thought I’d give y’all a little glimpse of our imperfect paradise right now. I’ve only been sick a few days and my husband is keeping our heads above water as best he can, but the reality is that we are drowning in our own everyday mess right now. Super glamorous, I know. 

I’m sitting on my sofa, which has been peed on 2 times recently and puked on once by my sweet 2 year old angel. That’s right. We haven’t had covers on 2 of the cushions for a few weeks cause they’re dry clean only and we haven’t managed to take them in yet.

While I’ve managed to keep the laundry moving, (yay me!) there are perpetually about 3-5 loads worth sitting in laundry bins waiting to be folded and put away. 

Our floor is riddled with debris blown in from the patio.

We are in a losing battle with the dishes. 

No one will sleep. Alone. Through the night. I expect that from the baby, but come on 2 year old, you were doing so well? What happened?? 

So, there you have it. The glamorous reality we’re living in. I’m sure there are McPerfectPants out there thinking “I had 2, 2 and under and my floors were still clean.” Well, to you I say congratu-freaking-lations. Aren’t you special. 

Maybe in a few days (or weeks) we’ll have successfully crawled out from under this marvelous mess we’ve made… maybe we’ll be back with our heads safely above water and an only mildly gross living space, per usual. I know, the days are long but the years are short. This too shall pass, yadayadayada. 

Until then, in the words of Dory, “just keep swimming.” And, mediocre homemakers, over-tired mamas and papas, and even you McPerfectPants of the world, unite in honesty. Sometimes we’re all in a little over our heads. 

Party of 4: Adjusting to life with a new sibling


We’re almost two months in to this new gig as a family of 4 and it almost seems that the magnatude of the level of change is only just starting to hit us. The sheer logistics involved in managing daily tasks and  outings is enough to make your head spin! 

All in all we are doing pretty well in my book. Brian and I are like a team of elite disaster prevention specialists juggling intricate procedures while under sleep deprivation. Ziva is both a little cautious and a little protective around her little sister. When Arielle cries Ziva comes running yelling, “Get her mom! Get her!! She crying! Get her!” But when Ziva is feeling fragile and in need of her mama’s lap she’s not afraid to tell us, “I want daddy to take her,” so she can have her spot back in my arms 😂. 

I’m not totally naive, come on. I knew there would be big changes ahead. But, going from 1 baby to 2 is hard in different ways than I expected, but also exactly as everyone said:

Managing both babies’ needs is hard.

Managing your partners needs at the same time is super hard.

Managing your emotions about the whole thing at the same time… even harder. 

Ziva, like the champion adjuster and go-with-the flow kid she is, she hasn’t put up too much of a fight about the big changes in her life. She is, however, 2, and her new found anxiety about her place in the family comes out with some big emotions at times, and some subtle sadness and uncertainty. 

What I didn’t expect is how hard it is to sit back and watch my beloved big girl go through these big emotions and changes. Even if they are normal and necessary changes, it’s hard to see your little one in any amount of distress. I want to scoop her up and just hold her and squeeze her and help her be her usual perpetually happy self… but often my arms are occupied and Arielle is nursing and I just can’t.

I didn’t realize how having your heart in two places at once can wear you down a little. I feel so for Ziva and her feelings of uncertainty, and yet I want to give Arielle all the care and attention I know she deserves as well. 

Gradually, we are all learning how to rearrange ourselves to make room for this new little part of us who we all love so much. 

Arielle may be tiny, but like all new babies she’s made big waves in our family. So far we’re all keeping our heads (mostly) above water. 🌊 And it’s s all worth it when she cracks a smile 😍. 


Bit by bit they are becoming sisters, and that is enough to melt my heart. 

Introducing Arielle Rose!

Born March 24th, 2017, little Arielle Rose joined our family and stole our hearts! She was 7lbs 10oz (exactly as I predicted, down to the ounce!) and just over 19 inches long. 

Arielle “Ari” Rose is named for her paternal great grandfather, Leo (Ari and Leo both mean Lion), and her paternal great-great aunt Rose. Both of my great grandfathers also had names starting with “r” so her name is also a nod to them. 


Ziva loves her baby sister and is already an attentive big sis, though there are some pain points around sharing “nuk” (her word for nursing). It’s adorable when Ziva asks to kiss baby sister goodnight, or when the baby is crying and she comes running, yelling “Get her mama, she crying! She crying! Get her!” 


So far Ari has been a pretty great, one might say easy, baby. She wakes up a couple times a night, and cries when she is hungry or has tummy trouble, but that’s all to be expected. She is a big sleeper so far, and eating like a champ. I was a bit worried we wouldn’t get lucky and have another chill kid, but so far things are looking pretty good!


Welcome to the family, kiddo, we are so glad we are yours. 

Postpartum fitness after baby #2

I’m a mixture of excited, nervous, and relieved. Tomorrow I’m starting my first fitness program since having Arielle! I spent the afternoon today studying the meal plan, making a shopping list, and picking up everything I’ll need to stay on track this week! 

I’m starting about the same size as I was after having Ziva, but I’m starting at 6 weeks instead of 6 months this time, and I now know I have the resources to get the job done:

✨Beachbody on-demand & DVD programs

✨Nutrition & portion control meal plans

✨Challenge groups & Coaches for support

✨Plenty of motivation and discipline

I know this could take a while, especially since my top priority is keeping my breastmilk supply up (despite popular belief, breastfeeding does NOT melt away the lbs for everyone).

What am I starting with? The 3 week Yoga Retreat! (Why is there no yogi emoji??)


I figured this would be a great way to ease into my postpartum fitness. I’ll be focusing first on flexibility, strength, and balance in low impact daily workouts. I do hope to lose some of the extra “fluff” I picked up while pregnant with Ari, but mostly I’m hoping to ramp up my momentum and physical capacity to take on whatever program comes next! 

So, get ready for my fitness and nutrition posts to start up again… now! Seriously, I find it motivating to watch other people on their journeys, and sharing with you all keeps me on track. So I can’t stop, won’t stop. 😉😘

Catching Up: life as a pregnant working mom

Wow, it’s been a while. How ya been? 

Me, you know, just makin’ babies and pushing through. NBD. 

Actually, it felt like a pretty big deal. In fact, it took everything in me to get through work, baby cookin’, parenting our rambunctious 2 yr old, and everything else on my plate the last 6 months! 

Here’s a quick recap:

I was pregnant. Super pregnant. And my body, despite being pretty fit and active at conception, went into full blown pregnant blob mode. My brain worked about as well as a last generation iPhone who won’t install new updates… and my ligaments were as stretchy and unsupportive as my maternity wear spandex. 

My anxiety about possible miscarriage definitely impacted my activity for the rest of the pregnancy, and my diet was sort of survival mode. I ate Gf bread with Swiss cheese more days than I’d like to admit… not even as a grilled cheese. We’re talking “I’m so tired just give me a slice of cheese and a piece of bread and leave me in peace” (It was a sorry sight). 


By 36 weeks I started having regular, intense contractions almost daily in the afternoons and evenings. Some of it was probably triggered by lifting and chasing after Ziva, and some by sitting and working on my couch (working from home the couch was the only spot that didn’t lead to hip pain after sitting for long periods on the computer). It made it nearly impossible to focus on my work, and I became convinced baby girl was coming early. Working full-time, having a 2 year old, and being super-pregnant meant we had not done almost anything to prepare for the baby’s arrival, so at 37 weeks I decided to take advantage of California’s maternity leave. I stopped working so that I could prepare myself emotionally, physically, and our home for the arrival of our little rainbow. 

I spent 2 wonderful weeks clearing out space for a 4th human in our modest 2 bedroom apartment, walking and being as active as possible, spending “me-time” and quality time with my mom and sister, and just generally preparing myself for labor and being a new mom again. By my appointment at 39 weeks, I was more than ready to meet this little girl on the outside. 


At 39 weeks and 2 days, after having a few “real” contractions in the morning, I went in for a cervical sweep at 10am, only to find I was already 4.5 cm dilated! Long story short, I walked, bounced, and waited all day to let the contractions get stronger for “real labor” to start before heading into L&D to get checked. That’s when things got a little crazy, but that’s a story for another post 😉. 

2nd Trimester: Energy and Exercise

I did it! I climbed back on the wagon, stuck my trusty old 21 Day Fix DVD in the player, and FINALLY got back to a real workout! 

I know, I’m a freakin’ champion. Thank you, thank you. Now let me enjoy my reward:


That first trimester hits me like a ton of bricks. This was my 4th time dragging myself through the exhaustion, nausea, and fatigue… but the prize is worth the pain, and hopefully this time around I’ll get to hold a new little person in my arms in just 22 weeks and 6 days. But who’s counting? 

I’ve tried to keep moving by taking walks and doing dance workouts here and there, but I’ve seriously struggled with finding the time, energy, and motivation to do a more intense workout. 

Well, today I’m feeling pretty good. I got pretty solid sleep last night for one of a handful of times in last 19 months (thank you Ziva!) and there were no errands to run or business to handle. 

The stars aligned and my desire to move outweighed my desire to lay like a puddle on a pillow of cotton. 

What was my workout of choice? Total Body Cardio with my homegirl Autumn Calabrese. I started my postpartum weight loss with the 21 Day Fix, why not start my pregnancy fitness with the same? I modified some stretches to my comfort level, changed the ab workouts to avoid laying on my back, and went all in!  I used these alternative ab exercises from What to Expect in place of the round 4 floor exercises. 

I FEEL GREAT. I just wish I’d gotten back to it a little sooner since working out actually helps minimize my pregnancy symptoms. 

I’ll admit it, after losing the 1st baby and having the Sub-chorionic hematoma while pregnant with Ziva, and losing the 3rd baby, I have a bit of a semi-subconscious fear of doing anything with my body that could jeopardize the pregnancy. Even if many women and their doctors find it perfectly acceptable to continue working out at their pre-pregnancy capacity, I hold back and hesitate a little with each move. That’s okay though, I’ve decided, as long as I keep moving!