Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We are (finally) Pregnant!!!

Oh, what a journey...

So rewind all the way back to January - got my period, no big deal.  By this point I was like "meh - we're in it for the long haul, baby is taking its sweet time!".  February comes around and I didn't even have my usual reaction like "5 days until my period is due", "4 days until my period is due"... "I feel a little sick, could it be morning sickness"? None of that! It wasn't really on my mind.  Instead - Shawn and I had done a Saturday day trip down to Newport Beach to get some pasta at our favorite Italian restaurant (Mama Di's) and ended up at a PetSmart to look at the animals for fun. There was an animal shelter in the store that had brought in their cats and dogs to show them off, and all of a sudden it clicked.  We needed a pet! We couldn't have a dog because our jobs would make any dog miserable and lonely (and fat). BUT - a cat, a cat we could handle.  Self sufficient,  mostly self cleaning, and (hopefully) adorable and cuddly and purry at night, we turned from cat haters to cat admirers.

We ended up befriending a sweet cat named Berlin, and applied to adopt her the next day after careful thought and consideration.  They already knew we were applying, so the cat was ours once the paperwork was filed.  On Monday, February 17th, we went to Petsmart and bought everything, and I mean EVERYTHING a cat could ever wish for... toys, food, scratching posts, soft beds, catnip, and even an automated litter box (ain't nobody got time for that!) Berlin was going to be one spoiled kitty.

We spent all day cleaning the house, cat-proofing it, and creating interest places it would be able to climb and rest in (AKA putting a large scratching post next to a book case and clearing the top shelf so it could sit on the top). I was ecstatic.  Also - we were renaming our cat Berlin to Milky, and all I could talk about was "Milky this" and "Milky that".  Told my family, even told my colleagues at work, sent crazy cat lady pictures to everyone announcing the arrival of our newest family member.

So after we were tuckered out, had unpacked everything, and were getting ready for bed, I ended up commenting on the fact that my period was due tomorrow.  Then, I kind of had a horrible thought and I was like, "Shawn... how bad would it be if I was pregnant now?!" Shawn laughed and said, "Well do you think you could be?" I checked all my period and fertility apps on my phone, and I replied, "No - there's no way we could be pregnant. But I'm still nervous! Let me go take a test real quick."

I run, take a test, and for the first time (after how many dozens of pregnancy tests), I did something wrong.  For whatever reason, no result showed up.  I probably 'missed' the stick in my haste.  Anyways, I wasn't bothered, and didn't feel like trying again, so we just went to bed.

The next day, Tuesday, is my usual day to go to Carlsbad for work... the plan was for me to go down to Carlsbad, but have the carrier with me, and I would pick up Milky in Huntington Beach on Thursday on my way back home.  I was so excited... I packed cat treats, lined the carrier with a blanket, and was ready to load it in my car with my suitcase.

While Shawn was still asleep, I thought to myself - oh, I should probably take another test.... I barely put it on the counter when the double line showed up nice and strong. I couldn't believe it.  I literally sat on the toilet, and stared at it on the sink. WHAT!? NOW?! HOW?!

I ran to the bedroom and said, "Shawn! We're pregnant!" and that's how it happened. We were so excited, and nervous, and excited, and shocked.  I guess all my body needed was to get excited about a cat?! :-) Haha joking, but it's still kind of ironic.

So, after about 15 minutes of us reveling in the news, we started to call our families, and a few friends.  It was awesome.  And then I started crying because I had to go to work, and sit with the news all by myself! The thought of not being able to talk about it all day, and then sleep in a hotel with the news at night had me so sad.  But it was OK. We are going to have a baby!

So there you have it.  A rather funny account of how we found out we were pregnant.  After announcing my pregnancy at work last week, we were finally in a position to announce it on Facebook.  I just wanted to thank all of you for being excited with us! A few of you know that we had been trying since May/June of last year, so it's definitely a time to celebrate!


PS - In case you were wondering, we decided against getting the cat.  We had never owned a cat before, and it seemed crazy timing to deal with two very big news things at the same time.  So baby trumped cat. I was so sad, and felt so guilty about our little orphan kitty, that I asked Shawn to inform the shelter... I just couldn't handle it.  And then we had to return ALL of that stuff we bought for the cat. Now all the $$ is going to Baby Smyres!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

the Sweater Weather Tag

There are always fun tags flying around in the YouTube Community, and one of the popular ones right now is the "Sweater Weather Tag".  My last 2 posts have been rather drull, so I thought i would lighten it up a little with a nice tag.


1. Favourite candle scent?

Right now I'm more into warming scented wax in my warmer, but if I had to choose a Bath & Body Works Candle it would definitely be "Leaves". However, my favorite wax melt right now are any of the spicy apple cinnamon-y pumpkin scents such as this sweet apple pie scent from Michaels. 

2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

We've had a fair amount of Chamomile tea with loads of honey so for the fall I'd say that, but in the Winter it'll definitely be hot chocolate.  This year I want to make some hot chocolate from scratch with a recipe such as this one - yum!

3. What's the best fall memory you have?

To be honest LA has a distinct lack of cold temperatures or changing leaves, but we recently went about an hour and a half out of LA to Apple Orchards out in Yucaipa.  It was absolutely gorgeous - we pressed apple cider, had apple cider donuts, played in the beautiful forests, it was perfect.  See our day here. 

4. Which makeup trend do you prefer: dark lips or winged eyeliner? 

ACK! I can't choose - I LOVE winged liner, but I am absolutely obsessed with the dark lips trend.  I'm currently wearing Milani's lipstick in Sangria - it looks like a blackish purple in the tube which is scary, but on the lips it's a dark deep berry and I love it!! So I guess dark lips?? 

5. Best fragrance for fall?

Ooh I don't think I have one! I have two favorite perfumes - Armani Code and Viva la Juicy le Fleur, so I guess Armani Code is more suitable for the season. (Just for fun - the Armani Code fragrance is described like this: "a feminine blend of zesty blood orange, ginger, and pear sorbet softened with hints of sambac jasmine, orange blossom, and lavender honey, warmed with precious woods and vanilla.")

6. Favourite Thanksgiving food?

Oooh I have to say I adore green bean casserole, and then ham (not the turkey, the ham). I love stuffing but I think it's overrated (that's right - I'm trying to rile you up!)

7. What is Autumn weather like where you live?

It is warm - even hot.  Stupid LA!

8. Most worn sweater?

Right now I have been wearing my long chunky dark grey cable knit cardigan from Costco (stylish I know).  I never go into the clothes section normally but I got matching pyjamas for my sister and I, and I saw it... it's SO snuggly, and is the perfect thing to wear out when seeing a movie etc because it doubles as a blanket. I couldn't find the exact one online, but it's similar to this.

9. Must-have nail polish this fall?

That would be Royal Flush - a gorgeous berry with purple tone. Best part - it's only $2.99 at Walgreens!

10. Football games or jumping in leaf piles?


11. Skinny jeans or leggings?

Leggings.  I live in leggings in the autumn and winter.  I love it!

12. Combat boots or Uggs?

I have neither - but I'm curious about Ugg's.  I've always resisted the trend but now I feel like I want a pair of my own!

13. Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?

Yup - I think so! I love pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie.

14. Favourite fall TV show?

Right now I'm loving Shady Hollow, Once Upon a Time, the second season, Grey's Anatomy (as usual), and New Girl, among many others.

15. What song really gets you into the fall spirit?

Um.  I can't really think of anything but I'm currently loving "Dear No One" by Tori Kelly.  It's a beautiful acoustic number that I have on repeat.

I really want to know your own answers - here is the tag, please leave your comments below!!!! That would make me so happy :-)

1. Favourite candle scent?
2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
3. What's the best fall memory you have?
4. Which makeup trend do you prefer: dark lips or winged eyeliner? 
5. Best fragrance for fall?
6. Favourite Thanksgiving food?
7. What is Autumn weather like where you live?
8. Most worn sweater?
9. Must-have nail polish this fall?
10. Football games or jumping in leaf piles?
11. Skinny jeans or leggings?
12. Combat boots or Uggs?
13. Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?
14. Favourite fall TV show?
15. What song really gets you into the fall spirit?

In case you're in the mood, here are Essiebutton's and Missglamorazzi's sweater weather tag videos... 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another one

So I guess I've had another one... a chemical pregnancy.  It wasn't just a late period. I didn't mention it yesterday because I wanted to be absolutely sure. Believe me you don't want to hear about the details, but suffice it to say it's happened.

I am more than a little crushed.  I started doing research on adoption just to keep my mind occupied and remember that there are so many ways to build a happy family.  Shawn and I have discussed adoption before and we both would love to be able to do it regardless of our ability to have babies au natural as well.

This little guy just melted my heart... Isn't he precious?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not this month

I'm not going to lie.  I was super disappointed yesterday when my very late period decided to show up anyways.  I really felt like this month was the month. 8 days late when I'm almost never late?! Unfair! 

Anyways.  If you have an international relationship, or just live far away from your family you may understand this part of my heartbreak - Shawn and I are going to Japan in less than two weeks and I really thought I was going to be able to experience what being pregnant in person with my family would feel like.  Excited conversations about the future, baby names, everything... I was already dreaming up ways to surprise them with the news.

That lost dream was almost equally as hard to swallow as was the fact that this month didn't happen. Now I just have cramps. Bummer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It takes a village

It's true what they say. It takes a village to raise a child.  I started to reflect on the people in my community that had a positive influence on me outside of my direct family. Obviously the majority of our learning and growth happens in our nuclear family, but after we turn 18 (maybe sooner), the people you surround yourself with will be huge influences on your personal growth into adulthood and beyond. Obviously our modern day community is not always immediate in the physical sense (eg living closeby) but is tangible in a modern web-based sense.

I'll catch myself doing something or saying something and I realize that these actions or words were originally someone else's, but they have become a part of me as well.  A few examples:

Organization. My roommate Tamar was a total guide and inspiration to me.  I feel like I learned a lot of essential things from her - one of my favorites was seeing her in bed at night with her paper shredder at her side.  She always filed all of her bills away in a binder, and shredded unnecessary documents. She didn't have piles of mail piled up 'waiting to be sorted' - she was efficient and organized.  If she needed to find a document, she knew where it was, instead of having to go through THE PILES. I remember when we were working on my Green Card application, I felt like I had it easy because all of the files our lawyer wanted us to keep on hand for the interview were in my handy dandy binder. When Shawn and I got married, we adopted the whole binder system which although isn't a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, was more than either of us organized independently before. Another example is that Tamar keeps all of her DVD's in zipped up containers, they're not piled up and visible.  I liked the look, so when we bought a new TV stand, I kept our DVD's in the little white baskets so they're not visible.  I love how much neater they look doing it that way.

Getting rid of things you don't need.  Tamar again.  Her wardrobe was always super neat - shoes stacked, clothes organized.  Me - I had some on hangers, some in boxes, some in bags, and then a whole bunch piling up on my desk chair when we were roommates.  I remember her telling me that she gets rid of anything she hasn't worn in 6 months, or that don't fit anymore.  That prospect terrified me, especially the part about getting rid of clothes that didn't fit as I had so many beautiful outfits that I "grew out of" that I wanted to fit into again someday. But I did it.  Tamar actually came in, and went through each of my clothing items, asked me if I've worn it in the last 6 months, and helped me get rid of over 3 trash bags full of clothes.  I donated them to the local Goodwill and had a small but organized wardrobe.  I don't know exactly how to explain what it is, but it feels good to see a small variety of clothes, but know that you love them all and they all fit.  Thanks to Tamar, I regularly sort through my clothes, and keep a core wardrobe.  The inner hoarder has been tamed.

Cleanliness. No, I'm not talking about hygiene, GOSH! I'm talking cleaning the house. My friend Ashlee is a germophobe, but a very proactive one.  Her house is always clean and tidy and smells good.  I never developed any habit of cleaning growing up, but really started to learn about it after college. I witnessed my friends vacuuming, scrubbing, and cleaning... and I knew I loved the way their houses looked (shocking, I know)... and I realized that I needed to build some habits, and quickly.  This necessity was highlighted when Shawn and I started dating and every time I went to his room, his bed was immaculately made, and everything was super neat. To this day Shawn is the cleaner of us two, but I am now an equal contributor to the daily tasks of keeping up the house.

Even much more recently, my sister in law Allyssa was an inspiration, unbeknownst to her... she had just had her third child... and when we came to visit her house was immaculate as usual.  After we came back home, I actually asked Shawn how in the world she does it.  He chuckled and said, well she has 3 kids so she probably keeps up by not ever letting it pile up - she picks up after herself! And once he said that, I started to notice that that was true.  Everytime a dish was put in the sink, it was rinsed and put into the dishwasher.  If a game was done, the toys were put away.  If crumbs were on the floor, they were vacuumed after the meal.  I can't even explain what a revelation this was to me.  (Dont judge!) I sure can clean, but I clean in sessions... not intermittently.  I used to fill the sink up with dirty dishes, and then clean them at the end of the day (or the end of the second day, ahem...). I then tried to imitate - I cleaned after each meal instead.  I organized the living room and kept the vacuum cleaner out to experiment vacuuming more often.  The difference was huge - the house was so much easier to keep up with! And I enjoyed it even more than I already did... there was also the additional perk of being ready to have visitors at any time instead of doing the "big clean" before the next expected shindig at our house...

Meal Presentation  This one goes big time to my mother in law Soraia and my sister in law Chelsey. I can cook, and I love to cook - my food even tastes pretty good most of the time, but the thing that never ever occurred to me was presentation.  I don't know why I never considered it when cooking at home, because I definitely noticed and appreciated it in restaurants... but so it was.  I noticed that even when we were coming up for a quick meal, my mother in law would have the table set beautifully, and the food would be laid out on nice dishes.  During festive occasions, salads would be dressed up with vegetables cut into shapes, etc.  At Chelsey's house she even made name place cards for the seats, and would do little details like turning honey butter into raspberry honey butter and other little masterpieces. Even drinks aren't always served out of the bottle, sometimes they're mixed and put into glass dispensaries. Although I haven't invested in any extra items, I do put a little more thought into having something pretty in the center of my dining table.  Sometimes it's a bouquet of flowers, now it's a hurricane filled with a large candle and glittery pinecones.  And now instead of mixing up a salad and serving it, I sometimes put all the little ingredients into containers and have a salad "buffet style".  Same ingredients, different effect.

Crock Pot Cooking My friend Katie gave me my first crockpot as a housewarming for my first apartment.  I had never used one in my life and although my first few tries were huge failures, it has since become a staple cooking method in our rotations. She has always been a great cooking inspiration, and helped me realize the great benefit of cooking at home (since I'm a love-to-eat-out kinda girl). As I type this, I have a pretty fancy pot roast in my crock pot and it smells pretty darn good.  Crock pots - definitely a helpful cooking tool. Ever since I've known her she's been making fancy things - homemade pizzas in college, monkey bread, moroccan tagines, ugh... I'm getting hungry.

Stylish Business Attire This one goes to a lot of my co-workers, but in particular my old colleague Jana. I was never dressed too casually, but I thought business attire was boring, and dressed that way.  I always wore slacks, flats and a collared shirt.  Although there was nothing wrong with that, and I bought well tailored pieces, they weren't very engaging or very stylish.  When I was on the same project as Jana, I was impressed by her beautiful colorful blouses, her accessories, and the fact that she wore high heels almost every single day.  Gradually I noticed my wardrobe changed accordingly.  I now wear more color, blouses, statement necklaces, and have several pairs of patent pumps. I believe that people do notice what you wear, and it can help you feel more equal to a role that may normally intimidate you.  I love that I can enjoy what I wear to work as much as what I wear after work.

Budgeting I feel like most of what I now do came directly from Dave Ramsey, and doing Financial Peace University. I learned about him from Shay Carl, an internet celebrity, and his common sense has been the best influence on the way that Shawn and I now address all of our financial doings. We have no debt, we have a large emergency fund, we invest for retirement, and we save up for large future purchases and events like trips, babies and a new car.  I feel more in control and safe about money than ever before because of his teachings and examples.

Self Esteem.  Although everyone around me has contributed to my self esteem, my therapist helped me understand something very important - how to work on forgiving ourselves, and how to be kind to ourselves. I think for most of us, our harshest critic is ourself, and I am no exception.  Sometimes I would come in and talk about how hurt/angry/frustrated I felt about something, and then how much I hate myself for having those feelings.  She taught me a 4 word phrase that has forever changed the way I treat myself. "I AM FEELING FEELINGS".  They're neither good nor bad, I am neither good nor bad, they're just feelings.  Nothing more and nothing less.  It takes away all self judgment and criticism, and allows me to move to actually deal with my issues rather than try to fight myself on the fact that I'm imperfect and have issues. I say it all the time, and it's a mantra in the Smyres household.

Balance My friend Johanna is a very busy woman - she is a mother of two, a wife, and an OB/GYN resident at a hospital in Philadelphia. I love her spunk and appetite for life - she's strong and intelligent and knows what she's capable of.  When I think about motherhood and career, I think of her as a role model and inspiration.  Currently my desire is to be a stay at home mom.  But as with most things, I am open to change, and am aware that I may want to stay at my job, or go back to work after kids.  I look at her and know that it's do-able. I'm sure it's a lot harder than she makes it look, but I love seeing it in practice.  It's due to her amazing sense of organization and dedication that she is able to balance her many important priorities.

Paying it forward.  My friend Ashlee is probably the most generous, caring and positive person I have ever met.  She made me uncomfortable at first because she would always pay compliments to me, and to everyone around us everywhere we went.  I like to think I was a nice person before I met her, but I sometimes wonder how nice I really was to people in person, and not just on the inside.  No kind act goes by without her lavish gratitude and affirmation, no outfit goes unnoticed without a compliment, and no special event is forgotten. She is the ultimate giver of love and positive reinforcements.  She never has anything bad to say about anyone - in fact, every single person she talks about, she talks about how wonderful they are, how much she loves them, or how misunderstood they are.  She includes everyone, and is a friend to all. I tended to be more closed off, prioritizing my closest friends and she taught me by example the joy of branching out and being a better friend.  I have also learned that it's not good enough to THINK good things about people, unless you let them know, what good is it?  We all live pretty unaware of ourselves, so getting feedback from others makes all the difference! We also don't know what place the other person might be in - what if they're having a miserable day and your kind words could be the only nice thing they hear? What if someone is feeling particularly unattractive, but you can make them feel pretty? What if someone is feeling pretty alone, and you invite them to your next get together? At every grocery store, movie theater or restaurant we have been at together, everyone has lit up as Ashlee showers them with kind words and attention. I have witnessed the difference Ashlee's generous words and acts have made on my life and the lives of all she touches, and she has raised the bar for the kind of person I would like to be.

Gosh. Well there you go.  Once I got started I couldn't stop.  Even while I end this post I can think of almost 6 more things other friends have taught me that I could rave on and on about but these should suffice for now.  There is no end to the influence for good we all have on each other, and if you're reading this I'm pretty sure you've had an influence on me too - for which I thank you. 

What have you been taught by those around you? I really would love to know and learn from you!

A quick afterthought - one of my favorite Blogging Role Models is Daisy.  She's got the cutest family and is a fantastically entertaining and eloquent writer. Check out her blog here. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Its been one week...

...since you looked at me
Cocked your head to the side and said I'm angry
5 days since you laughed at me saying
Get that together come back and see me
3 daqys since the living room
I realized it's all my fault but I couldn't tell you
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
but it'll still be 2 days til I say I'm sorry

Who know this song? If you do, you win brownie points.

It's been one week since my last blog post. There went my fabulous streak - 56 days of daily posts, 7 days of silence. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not sad about it... but this blog is meant to be a creative outlet and a hobby for my thoughts - so I guess I'll try to be okay about it. (Be quiet, stupid perfectionist thoughts!)

I have been trying to stay as far away from my blog as possible - couldn't look at it, couldn't think about it, didn't want to do anything about it at all.  And no, I have not figured out why.  I have some hunches. First of all - writing is a way of letting out your feelings... but with that train of thought, what if you don't feel like feeling feelings right now? I know that I wasn't a fan of it this last week. Something about writing those depression posts really did a number on me. I regretted writing them the next morning... but deleting them didn't feel right either.  So instead, I ran away and avoided the blog.

Looking at the posts, I cringe at how much information I shared... even though I keep this blog as a kind of daily outlet for myself, I made the decision to share it with you, my friends, and sometimes I get ashamed.  Putting myself out there felt like a good idea at the time, but then you can't take it back.

One thing I have always struggled with is caring too much about what people think of me. It is a big challenge for me - doing things out of fear of repercussions, or in order to please.  I have definitely not always acted on that fear, but it still sits inside the pit of my stomach on days like the ones I had last week. That's one of the reasons I decided to run away from my blog rather than delete the posts. I thought... if I can just wait it out, and fake it - pretend that I'm okay with everything I wrote, then maybe I can become that person one day... that person who shares of themselves and isn't afraid to be real about themselves.

I'm not that person yet, but maybe one day I'll be a little closer.

I have missed this.  Writing. There's something magical that happens when you allow your thoughts to bleed out of your fingertips into a physical manifestation.  This happens to be black on white... but there are paper scribbles, paintings, sculptures... so many ways we can give our mind a voice. It's weird.  I used to journal every thought and experience I had during high school and college... and I'm glad I did because my memory is at its worst... I am able to reread my journals and I feel like I'm reading a book - things I don't remember happening, and a person that I am very different to... I've changed a lot over the years. They say change is good, so hopefully that still holds true :)

I have to thank you - you know who you are: friends of mine close and far who care enough to read this blog and send me some of the kindest words I have ever received. I thank you because your caring messages helped me realize how important writing is to me - how I'm happier when I do write.

So here I am. Writing.

And for some reason I am remembering that movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan - I think they were email penpals? Well I think she has a scene where she's just "writing to the void" and I feel that way today.

See you tomorrow :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just tired...

It's another one of those days...
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