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So, I Went To Mordor, Basically.

Man, oh, man. Where have I been? Well, first I’ll start with how our apartment just died on us. This apartment, for which I’ve been so grateful after that stint of living on in-laws’ floors, totally betrayed me. LIKE THE RING DID TO GOLLUM, YOU GUYS. (I’ve pretty much been watching The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions on repeat. The escapism man, I needed it. You’ll see.)

We’ve been having tons of dark mold everywhere for months. It was in every crack and crevice of each room, it was leaking from the AC. We bleached every other day. We slept with the windows open, even in December and January when it was frigid. We consolidated shower time not only because the hot water ran out five minutes into the first shower but also to reduce the amount of moisture in the air. Still, every morning the windows in the apartment were dripping top to bottom with condensation. It felt like a swamp when you walked in. It was inordinately hot in the apartment all the time but we could never figure out why and had never used the so-called heater. It was awful. The worst part is, I knew it wasn’t a healthy environment for a baby and I begged Ben to let us break our lease. As a worried mama, it gave me nightmares every night.

Then there was the foundation slab leak. Water was pouring out of the side of the building and flooded half the complex from our little apartment. They fixed that. They replaced our bathroom floor. They also ripped an unintentional hole in the wall and I could see the decomposed drywall covered in black nastiness. The air was dry for about a week and then–oh, and then, the fun really started.

One morning, I was battling our flea infestation. OH YEAH. I FORGOT TO MENTION. I am serious, we gave the pets two flea baths a week each and I am certain I overdosed them on topical flea ointment to try and give them relief and us some sanity. I felt awful pumping them with so many chemicals but every time I saw a flea on Avery, it killed me and I just had to do something.  I cleaned the house constantly. I scrubbed the floors with all kinds of things that were supposed to get rid of fleas. We powdered and sprayed over $100 worth of flea killer in the carpets and furniture. Nothing worked. We were all just…it was disgusting. I would cry at night knowing that this was no way for a little toddler to live, surrounded by chemicals and crawling around on a floor infested with nasty parasites. Luckily, they only bit Avery twice and he inherited his dad’s immunity to feeling flea bites. I, however, was covered and miserable and itchy and OH MY GOD IF I EVER SEE ANOTHER FLEA AGAIN I WILL DIE. Every time we tried something new I could swear it would work and then BAM, a day later, there’d be more. If there is an apocalypse, I am now certain cockroaches and the darn fleas will prevail and inherit the earth.

THEN, OH THEN, I was vacuuming up our latest and most holistic attempt at ridding ourselves of the fleas–baking soda and salt–and I put my hand down on the carpet and realized that it was wet. Like, not damp like when Avery drops his water cup on the floor and some water leaks out, but saturated wet. It wasn’t Ellie relieving herself. Not only is she house-trained, but she is crated at night and she was still sleeping in her crate when I started my early-morning cleaning efforts. A dozen fleas jumped onto my hand from the wet patch. They just loved the moisture and were thriving in that wet, soggy environment. Over the next 12 hours, the entire living room carpet became mysteriously soaked in cold water. It was underneath the TV stand across the room from the original wet spot, it snaked around the corners, hugging the wall that led into the hallway.

After fruitless efforts of plumbers to find the source of the leak, management offered to move us to another unit so they could drill through the floors to figure out the problem. That was an act of God. Things have never been better. The pets were immediately flea-free, we are happy in what feels like a clean home, and Avery’s stopped his occasional cough. I feel like I’m not being a bad mother anymore and I feel that we are all in a better place. Even though we only had three days to move and Ben missed out on crucial work earnings to help with the heavy lifting and take over while I toddler-wrangled, I do not miss that apartment.

But the woes weren’t quite over. Right after we moved, Vesper came down with a cough. It was probably all the flea crap ruining her immune system. Ellie is a very tough dog but Vesper is a bit more fragile (despite being way fatter). The fleas flocked to her, the weakest animal, as they are wont to do, and now this cold was making her miserable. $200 later, she is all better.

The last hurdle to cross was when I got a call from my bank. Someone had stolen my information and had made 42 fraudulent transactions using our bank account and the money, already drained from a very stressful and expensive month, was quickly waning. I don’t want to get into it, but it was awful and I felt so violated.

Somewhere amid all this, I had a case of chronic dry eye (this is the second time) that caused conjunctivitis and lasted for about 2 weeks. I felt terrible. I could barely open my eyes and I had such acute light sensitivity we dimmed the TV and I lived like a vampire.  I looked awful. I was so self-conscious about it, I absolutely dreaded going out to the store.

And here we are. FINALLY. At the end of this wretched, terrible month and I am grateful for the blessings that all these hardships caused, mostly that now my baby is in a safer, better place. So we will have to take money out of savings to get us to the next paycheck. And so I developed an obsessive cleaning routine in our old apartment that has carried over to this one so I pretty much spit-shine the whole place each and every day. It’s getting freakish. It’s enough to put me on Wife Swap in a couple years.

Things are, for the most part, just fine and normal–knock on wood–once again.

At the tail-end of all this craziness, we took our much-awaited (by me, dreaded by Ben and experienced with vapid passivity by Avery) annual trip to the SC Renaissance Pleasure Faire. If you live in Southern California, you either have already gone or are planning to go, according to Twitter and Instagram. It’s pretty big around here.

That day was so needed. We were away from the apartment drama and got to escape for a few hours into a fantastical world where dragons guarded your life savings and bills did not exist. (The parasites did, though. Effing fleas pretty much caused the plague, I learned in all my research.) We don’t get out much (read: ever) and we’ve never gotten “couple” time away from Avery so it was a great family trip where Ben and I could remember our good ol’ days as non-parents tripping around the Renfaire. It was probably also the only time in which Ben could drink (darn you, nursing, ONE DAY I WILL GET CHOCOLATE WASTED), carry Avery with his beer-free hand, and not get judged. We came back freezing (it was literally the only day in Southern California where people were like, HOLY SHIZ, GET ME A CLOAK. OR SEVEN.) but we felt like we had been on the most amazing vacation ever. Reality hit hard Monday but it always does when you’ve been to paradise.

So, that, my dears, is why this blog has grown so dusty recently. Please forgive and look forward to happier and healthier posts in the coming weeks! And knock on some wood for me and my family, please. We need all the luck we can get.

Goodies.

Aside from this website, which I try really hard to update, I also have a channel on YouTube. You can check it out here. So far, it’s pretty much requests-only right now. I started out doing iPhone case reviews and since then I try to make really useful videos. So far, the ones I have of newborn and baby necessities are my favorites.

I’ve filmed everything I have ever done on my channel with a Flip camera I bought during Black Friday at Walmart in 2010. I thought it was the coolest little camera when I got it. I mostly filmed videos of my dog as a puppy on them. We also took it to the hospital and got video of the day that Avery was born so I’ll treasure this little camera always for capturing the most special moment of my entire life.

However, since becoming a partner, I know my viewers deserve to see higher-quality videos so I finally broke down, and with Ben’s coaxing, bought this shiny new camcorder at Walmart. It only cost $115. With a universal card reader and a 16G memory card, it came out to $144.

 

 

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I really love it. Hence, all the hearts. HEE. I filmed a video on my Pandora Charm Bracelet using it for the close-ups of my charms and it was marvelous. Yes, it is literally a sparkly black color.

I also just ordered a pink Gorillapod for around $16 for it so I don’t have to use books or a cup to prop up my camera. I know, I’m totally profesh now.

gorilla_pod_pink_gp1

 

I wanted a Gorillapod because I’m pretty much only filming on a desktop so I don’t need or want a huge tripod (namely one that Avery will pull down top of him). I also love the flexibility and I will use it to film things from over my hands thus eradicating the shakiness that was in my Pandora video.

I felt so guilty dropping all this money just to film YouTube videos so Ben reminded me that now I have a great camera to take videos of my cute little stinker doing adorable things like this.

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Avery held my hand throughout one of his little afternoon snoozes this week.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

 

Retail Therapy.

This is going to be short and sweet and to the point. Here are some of the things that I am currently lusting over. What girl doesn’t love to window-shop to pass the time?

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I love baking. I’m not that great at cooking. I think I lack the patience. If I had a slow cooker, I’d be good to go. There’s just something daunting about watching pots over a stovetop. REGARDLESS, I absolutely love to make sweets. I experiment with lots of cupcake recipes and creations and I have been known to bust out a batch of cookies on a whim when I get a craving (which is often. SO BAD, I know). Baking makes me happy and while I love the well-loved  hand-me-down Kitchenaid mixer from Ben’s dad, it’s really ragged and showing its age. Also, I think baking would be even happier if I got to do it with his Raspberry Ice-d beauty. Just sayin’. Cute doesn’t come cheap, though. It’s $399.

P.S. I stumbled on this website that rhinestoned one of these for the chick on D.C. Cupcakes for her wedding and I almost died of sparkly happiness.
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I love Pandora. I actually had a very Pandora birthday and was lucky to add three new charms to my bracelet. Ben actually picked all the charms out himself this time around but if he ever needs assistance, I will happily guide him towards these little beauties. I love the pink heart because it’s sparkly and feminine while Big Ben reminds me of my time in London. That heart over the clock face says it all. I’d give anything to be back there again. Finally, I don’t know–I’ve been going through a leopard phase lately and I think the pink is unique and pretty. These range from $35 to $65/each so they’re an investment but if you buy one at a time, it’s a very special treat and I love wearing my bracelet and whenever I look down at my charms, I smile.

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Yeah, so we can all thank my obsession with Dance Moms for this one. I also happen to live in sweatshirts, hoodies, and yoga pants and no matter how hard I try to dress differently, it just doesn’t happen. Comfort is key. Machine washability is also key (I’m Avery’s biggest napkin), so I thought this would be a giant step up. Plus, if I ever go back to ice skating or, you know, grace the innards of a gym, this would be something I would love to have. The fabric and its cut provide breathability and the thumb cut-outs would be perfect for keeping ice from getting between your gloves and sleeves (my pet peeve in ice skating. BRRR!). I absolutely love this lilac color. Uh, yeah. So I think I should also mention that I’m 5’1″ and small so this is the kid’s size and I’m not entirely sure what they have for grown-ups (LOLs.) but it’s by Ivivva if you’d like to take a peek. They are a Canadian brand so there aren’t many American storefronts. The only one they have in the LA-area is a pop-up shop in Newport Beach (DUN DUN DUUUUUN. And you know how I feel about going amongst the Newpsies.), I believe. This “routine jacket” costs $78.

Love this sequin top.

 

And rounding out this list, I have one final clothing item. Oh, this. THIS. This is the most amazing top of all time. I love sequins and that it goes off the shoulder and the fact that it’s dressy and comfy at the same time. Oh my sweet baby Jesus, I love this top. It’s by Matty M and I have been obsessed with it since I saw Christi wearing it on Dance Moms (I KNOW. I HAVE PROBLEMS.). That’s how much of a freak I am. I literally watched this one episode like seven times and finally figured out what top she was wearing. I’m, like, 90% sure it was this top. Regardless, I heffing love it. These vary in price since you pretty much have to buy it pre-owned on eBay for anywhere from $15 to $50. Spoiler alert: it also comes in lots of different colors. OH EM GEE, I’m dying. Okay, I’m cool.

Clothing should really not get me this excited.

I know, I know. I have expensive taste. In reality, though, all my clothes and appliances come from Goodwill. I’m not even kidding you one bit.

I also have a huge crush on the East/West tote from Vera Bradley in Mocha Rouge for my everyday purse (Karen! GURL, I totally read that tweet. I literally was like EFF YES THAT MEANS YOU NEED A NEW PURSE.) but that’s beside the point. I recently got the Grand Tote in that same print and unfortunately it is literally big enough to hold a small village plus there were glitches in the stitching and blotches in the fabric so I have to figure out a way to send it back. So sad it didn’t work out but I think the East/West tote is what I had been picturing in my head all along.

In all seriousness, though, this was just a silly little post because I’m in a silly little mood right now (obviously. I hope I usually manage to keep a cap on the crazy) and I thought you’d all enjoy looking at the things I think are absolutely adorable at the moment.

And after all is said and done, I have just this left to say:

Keep Calm, People.

 

You know you want to.

Oh My, Vera Bradley.

Gah, the time is quickly approaching for a new blog design. “Winter” has left So Cal and that is a term I am using lightly at best.

Anyhoo, in light of spring and all things colorful and cheerful, I have a new obsession, obviously. VB was having some amazing sales plus I got $20 off my first online purchase for joining the mailing list so I kind of went nuts.

My obsession with bags is nothing new. I might have seen this coming. Dance Moms, what have you done to me? Yes, it is true. Long story short, I have been watching an obscene amount of DM and they carry so much Vera in practically every style that it was like staring me in the face. I could not resist. Plus, I mentioned the sales.

I purchased quite a new different things, all items that were long overdue, but what I am going to show you today is my new diaper bag! I absolutely love it. It’s so roomy and has so many pockets. I feel so organized and like I’m not going to be rooting around tossing everything and crumpling it all to get what I need like I was with my old one.

Here it is!

My VB Baby Bag

 

I picked it in “Tea Garden,” which is one of the Breast Cancer designs where they donate 10% of the profits to research. It’s regularly $99.99 but it was on sale for $74.25 but I got it on sale for $49.99 which isn’t bad when you’re in the market for a decent diaper bag. It also comes with a pretty standard matching diaper pad which I probably won’t be using since Avery likes running around naked when I change him. FUN TIMES OVER HERE. Oh, and it’s just called the “Baby Bag” on VB.

Let’s take a little peek inside my bag.

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I mean, look at all those pockets. I die. They fit his diapers perfectly. I have about seven of them in there now and the empty pocket in the photo is now holding an entire package of 80 wipes. I now have places to put my nursing hood, lotion, food and meal supplies, as well as little odds and ends like hats and socks. Plus, there’s all this room in the middle of bag. I have two little zippered pouches full of necessities like medicine, clippers, a brush, etc. and I also have his memory foam changing pad in there. There’s still room for a blanket and a change of clothes. Simply put, I am in love with all the space.

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I put Avery’s water cup in the side pocket and on the front of the bag there are three pockets covered by a single magnetic closure There’s also a clip for a pacifier. I will probably use the clip for a toy or my keys, though, because Avery doesn’t use his binky anymore. The middle pocket fits my cell phone perfectly and the last pocket is lonely for the moment but I’m sure I’ll find something to put in it!

All in all, I just love my new diaper bag. I took it out today and it worked awesome. I’m so happy with it. The price feels right for what I got, it’s super cute, and it just works really well for what I need it for. I’m one very pleased mama.

And now, I think I’m going to go back to watching episodes of “Cities Of The Underworld.”  Ben got me hooked on that show and both he and Avery are asleep and since I have turned into a full-fledged insomniac, I can either clean like a madwoman or I can relax and watch a show and hopefully lull myself into blissful sleep.

Happy Superbowl Sunday, everyone! I’m so excited for the seven-layer dip in my future, just saying.