Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ballet Class

Today we took our first dance class. It was definitely one of those moments that you dream of the day you find out you're having a girl. Getting her ready this morning I was literally in shock that the time was already here and she was old enough for a class. She looked adorable, of course, and I was so happy to see her in her little ballerina outfit. I didn't plan for her to wear a tutu but as soon as we walked in, she spotted one and once she put it on she wouldn't stop twirling. 
The class began with sitting/ floor exercises. She was not feeling it, she freaked out when I was making her sit and was screaming and throwing herself around. There's only so much a mom can do in those situations. I took her in the corner, gave her the bottle and tried to explain to her we needed to sit and listen. I don't know if she got it or understood any of what I said. I did all I could to not get flustered and be "that mom" with "that kid", but she was being a little bratty. 
When the dancing started and all the kids were able to get up and move, Lola was all about it!! She danced, turned, did her leg, put her arms up and stared at herself in the mirror the whole time! 
It made me so happy to see her so happy and just free. 
I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing mommies/ friends, who are just so reassuring and positive, even when your kid is being a FUSS! 
After the dance class I was thinking about how Lola was acting and thought to myself she still is a baby. Yes, she's almost 2 and I would love for her to sit and be able to listen and participate like the other kids but she didn't and I'm okay with that. I hope that it's something that she eventually does understand, and it's something we will continue to work on. She is an individual and always off doing her own thing, but that's her and it's special! 
For now, I'm happy she was happy and had a great time, for the most part.
She's been dancing around in her TuTu all afternoon, I'd say it was a success. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

|| Lately ||

•• (Sorry this is such a downer, but I am only hoping my honesty can help others feel they're not alone. To show nobody has a perfect life. Everyone is fighting their own battle, it's so important to be kind, you never really know what someone is going through... I'm also hoping that writing is somewhat therapeutic & helps get it out) •• 

Lately life has been rough, & by rough I mean really, really, rough. I know it may seem crazy but if you were to ask me what the worst thing that could happen to me was, I'd say something happening to my babies (and by babies I mean my dogs)... I know it's nuts that my first response would be about my dogs, but it's 100% the truth. My first thought is my dogs, my Lola, Julie & then my family and friends. Maybe it's because I've been their mommy the longest, maybe because they are the first thing I've ever been 100% responsible for and have relied on me solely. Maybe it's because I'm a crazy animal lover and am spiritually connected to them. I honestly can't say what makes them my 1st thought and priority, all I know is they are. Anyways, as I'm sure most of you know my baby Banjo, died. The worst thing, I believe, could happen to me, has happen to me. I have lived my worst nightmare. I don't even know if nightmare even describes it, at least with nightmares you get to wake up, but I have not woken up. A piece of me died the day I found out he had cancer, and an even bigger part of me went with him when he died. The past 6 months seem like a blur, I don't know how I've functioned and managed to be a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, when most days I want to curl up in a ball and cry. I wake up in physical pain everyday but mostly the pain and longing in my heart hurts the most. Some days my heart hurts so bad I wonder how it manages to keep beating, my better days are the ones that I only allow a few tears to run down my face. 

Only my family & friends know the turmoil I have been in and I've been fortunate enough to have amazing support. My family let's me be sad and never tells me to get over it or move on, my true friends know what I'm going through and have all given me the support and strength I've needed during this time. Some days I don't want to go on, some days I don't want to be a wife, a mom, a friend... but no one ever gives up on me. I ask myself and others "why God would do this to me", and my mom in particular always says "God, doesn't give you anything you can't handle"... I guess God hasn't given up on me either, I'm still standing & I'm still living-ish. 

The holidays were tough, I didn't want to decorate, I didn't want to celebrate & a piece of me wished they would just be skipped this year, but then I'd look down on that innocent face of my Lola, and hear the Christmas cheer in Julie's voice and knew I had to put my sadness back in my heart and keep it locked up until it  was okay to let out again... I was happy to see 2013 go, but sad because I felt I was leaving my baby behind.   

Depression is an awful thing, I've dealt with it since I was 16, I've taken medication before and hated it, it's just not for me. I'm fighting everyday to feel better. I know some people think... How could someone be so upset over a dog, over their pet? How could someone be so sad, when they have so much to be happy about? I don't know the answers, no one knows the answers. 

These last few weeks I've been so down, but the strangest thing has happened, Lola has been SO obsessed with me... I mean her and I are so close but she's always been a mamas girl, the second Julie would get home or the weekends I am chop liver. But recently she has been so so attached to me, all she wants to do is hug me, hold me, kiss me, sit with me... It's the sweetest thing and makes my heart feel full. It's like she knows I need it, God knows I need it & has chosen her to give it to me. She is the only medicine I need. 

I'm at my lowest of lows, but the good news is there's not any lower I can get. I have amazing support and so much love around me, I have a sweet little girl who can't hug me enough. I am also taking essential oils specifically for the emotions I'm feeling (I'll make a detailed post soon, they're amazing) & most importantly I have started Pet Loss Grief Therapy.  

So far I've been trying to cut out processed foods & sugars (that's all I eat), the counselor said that contributes to depression and before I can deal with grief I have to try and get physically healthy. She also suggested writing (so here I am). Mostly, I've been trying to find things that make me happy, being around friends, smiling, letting my loved ones love me; but I still hurt. 

It was a hard weekend and I feel like I've had a set back but I'm praying to keep fighting, find God again and be happy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

.. Banjo ..

My animals are what defines me... Not being a wife, a mother or a friend but an animal lover. 
I love all my babies equally but I have a special bond and love that I share with each of them individually. 
Right now, with everything going on I wanted to try and put my relationship with Banjo, into words. 

He's my boy and my little shadow, when I move he's right there with me. Sometimes I'd be looking for him, when he was really at my feet the whole time- just so close, he blended right in with me. If I was sitting, he was jumping on my legs to be on my lap. 

He's been Lola's best friend since she was in my tummy and always by her side, from the second we brought her home from the hospital. He's let her pull on him, lay on him and play with him- all well being so gentle. 

In April I was rubbing his neck area when I felt a bump- I went to school for veterinary science, so I naturally pay close attention when I pet my animals to notice any abnormalities. I brought him into the vet and had the lump removed. 
The lump showed some signs of cancer cells in it, however the margins that they removed were clear- "phew! A fluke" I thought and the vet did too, just keep an eye on him and all other signs were that he was fine. He healed up nicely and was back to himself. 

4 weeks later I noticed another bump, pretty close to where the last one was. It was a Saturday and I knew I couldn't bring him into the vet until Monday. I told Julie and just started to cry- I didn't have a good feeling- I just knew on the inside something was wrong. He went in and had it removed again. Another surgery. 
My heart was breaking, I just wanted my baby to be healthy and not have to keep going to the vet. It killed me every time I dropped him off. I was worried that all these surgeries would change him and he would become sad or scared or not understand why I am making him go through this. 

After this 2nd surgery I noticed Banjo wasn't healing like he did before, he seemed weaker and more sore, he also wasn't eating to much. The examination of the lump came back as the same thing as before- cancer cells were in it again. The doctor said he wanted me to bring Banjo in for a full body exam with X-rays to take an overall look of his body. He told me not to worry and he was such a young and healthy dog- it probably wasn't anything to worry about. 
The night before his exam I cried to Julie and began having bad anxiety, I told her I just didn't feel right and something was different with Banjo, she told me to stay positive and nothing was wrong with our boy. 
The next morning, I dropped him off for his exam and of course cried as I left... I went to pick him up a few hours later, they brought him out and had me go into an exam room. 
That's when the doctor came in and told me that Banjo had terminal cancer, he said he couldn't sugar coat it and wanted to be frank with me-" its bad". There is no amount of money or medicine that could make my baby better. The doctor told me I was going to have to do the hardest thing I'll ever have to do "be happy & strong for him the rest of the days he's here" 

I've been broken, sick, sad everything awful you can think of. I'm trying to be strong and I try not to cry in front of him. But its hard, I cry at night as he cuddles with me, knowing these cuddles are our last.  I know I'll have the rest of my days without him and have plenty of time to cry so I try not to waste my days with him being sad. 

I hold him and kiss him and tell him I love him every minute & when I'm not doing that I'm praying. I've told him to go if he's tired and not to hang on for me. I've told God to take him, if that's his plan. I told Banjo to run to me the second he sees me in heaven and I that he'll have a piece of my heart with him and he'll always be in mine. 

He's getting weaker and I won't let him suffer, I know we'll have to say good bye soon and I pray I'm strong enough to get through it. I can't imagine my days without him, his bark, his little body- everything. But mostly I'll miss the love he gives me and the special bond we share. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2 Lesbians walk into a sperm bank...

Our Lola
Julie and I decided to start trying to have a baby almost immediately after our wedding. Besides what we had seen on The Real L Word, We really didn't have any information on how to go about this.
So what did I do...Googled it, yes, I googled how do lesbians have a baby..
After I sorted through some articles I came across Pasadena Reproductive Services or PRS  It's an amazing lesbian owned sperm bank located in San Francisco and Pasadena. Their website was so helpful and had all the information we needed, we set a consult ($150) for the next week.
The night before the consult I looked up reviews for PRS on yelp, there were a couple of not so great reviews that kind of scared me.
Some said they had no doctors and all procedure are done with nurse practitioners, and that some people had tried getting pregnant through them and hadn't had any luck.
Well, both those things are true- they don't have any doctors on site and it can take many tries and you can try and try and try with unfortunately no results...

I was nervous, scared and excited to have our consult, I knew this was our first step to getting our baby.

The consult went great; the woman helping us was sweet and full of information. We went over the whole process of choosing a donor, the actual procedure and all the legalities. We signed documents stating that Julie and I would both be equally responsible for the child, if one was produced. We left there reassured, excited and more prepared.

That afternoon when we got home we went onto their website and started to look through their donor website.
They have a very detailed search engine- you can pick any trait of the donor you choose, from looks to personality traits, hobbies, education and trades…
We wanted our child to look as close to our child, if we were physically able to make one,
we put in all of Julie’s characteristics (ethnicity, skin, eye and hair coloring and personality).
We looked through about 100 different donors short profiles (no pictures, just a little synopsis of the donor)…
We came across this one donor about 5 different times, I kept writing his number down and saying “This ones perfect” only to find I had already written down, we laughed and went on.
We narrowed it down to 6 donors; the next step was to purchase an adult photo of the donor.
Let me just say some of these donors looked great on paper but not in their picture… I mean I have to be honest- if I wouldn’t look at them on the street, I most certainly wouldn’t use their sperm.
We were just getting to the last donor, and at that point it almost seemed hopeless. This last donor was the one I had written down several times, we bought his picture and waited for it to upload, I remember feeling a sense of disappointment like we weren’t going to be able to find the right donor for us. When his picture popped up, we knew it was our donor; he seemed like the right match. We then went on to purchase his 5-minute donor video in which he was interviewed with a series of questions (like why he was donating his sperm to what he valued in life- all his answers were perfect), then we purchased his long donor profile, which contained his and his family’s extensive health report.

Our donor looked like him and Julie could be brother and sister, and with that, his video, and profile, we chose him. 

We purchased his “specimen”, which PRS would store for 3 months free of charge, after that they charge you a storage fee.

We were told I'd have to wait for my period and 7 days after the 1st day of my period to start testing for ovulation. I started to check my ovulation every morning for a week with no results. On the 8th day my ovulation test came up positive.
Julie and I were so excited, it’s an unreal feeling- you are planning and thinking of this moment and its here! We called PRS and were told to come in the next day for the artificial insemination process. 

We both had a wave of emotions that night: excitement, nervousness and also a little scared. I couldn’t sleep, and I just remember thinking:
My life can change tomorrow!
Am I ready for that? Are we ready for that?
Is my body strong enough?
What if something happens and I don’t get pregnant, am I going to be able to handle those emotions?
All things I think anyone parent planning on getting pregnant thinks about.
The morning came and it was time to head over to PRS, I left my furry babies and thought this could be the last time it’s just us and them.
We checked in and were taken back to the procedure room, this is the video Julie shot well we were waiting to be seen:

When the nurse came in we checked and double check the donor numbers to confirm they were using the correct donor (oh my gosh could you imagine the wrong donor, hopefully that doesn’t ever happen). I laid back, put my legs up in the stir ups; I was shaking and so tense because I was so nervous. The nurse placed the speculum in (with no lubrication, lubrication can kill sperm, OUCH!) and inserted what looked like a long, thin syringe with no needle. For an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) they insert the sperm into your uterus and when they bypass your cervix you get a slight moment of cramping. From start to finish the whole procedure took about 5 min.
We had to sit there for about 15-30 min with a pillow placed under my butt, tilting my pelvis up a bit. It wasn’t what they show in the movies where the woman is basically hanging upside down with her feet straight up in the air.
I was told to just take it easy the next couple days and that was it, we were done.
We went home and I immediately layed on the couch with my legs elevated the whole day (totally not nessecary but in my mind I was helping the sperm "stay in" hehehe)!

Almost immediately I was exhausted, the most tired Id ever been… Ever!

We were supposed to start testing on the 14th day; I started testing on the 11th day… Negative
12th day… Negative, I remember kind of convincing myself that it didn’t work and just to prepare myself for the fact we were not pregnant (even though I knew I was testing earlier than I was supposed to).
13th day… I took the test first thing on the morning and left the bathroom to do my normal things with my animals. I went back into the bathroom, about 30 min later… and saw 2 distinct lines… POSITIVE… I was pregnant!

A love filled my body in that very moment that I had never felt before, we had been blessed, and Lola was growing.

When Julie got home that night, I gave her a box and told her my sister had given me some stuff that she might want. She opened the box unsuspected and was so surprised and excited, I'll never forget how she hugged me in that moment.

From that day to this day our lives have been all about our Lola.

"Love makes a family"

Heres a few of my fav pregnancy photos!

The Day we found out we were having a girl! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tomorrows Importance

Friday I was lunching with 3 of my girlfriends and the topic of marriage came up, to my surprise they were shocked to find out that Julie and I weren't legally married (Julie and I have a domestic partnership)
 It got me thinking about how little is known about marriage equality. For all of us it has been a very confusing few years, I'm in the middle of it and I still am not a 100% certain of all that is going on.

Here's a little breakdown:

  • Gay marriage was made legal from March- November 2008
  • It was put on the ballot in 2008 under prop 8, and passed making marriage only between a man and a woman.
  • Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional in 2010 & again in 2012
  • And tomorrow March 26th it goes to the Supreme Court.

I swear I'll never forget prop 8, even in 2008 when I wasn't even in a same sex relationship, I knew it was wrong. Why does anyone think they should have the right to decide who people can and can't marry. And why is any one's marriage any one elses business besides their own. 

Even though I consider Julie and myself married (I don't need a paper to validate that) there still is that thought that were not "allowed" to.
I often think to myself and wonder why people have such a negative opinion on gay marriage. I mean in what ways does it affect them? How does my marriage affect you in any way? Julie and I have a "normal" marriage and family... We take care of our house, our bills, our family, contribute in a healthy & positive way to society... Why can't we have the same rights as everyone else.

And when people say its because of religion, why choose that one thing to hold onto within religion when exceptions are made for other things?

Also, when people say its an issue of religion, well hows this for religion:
Julie and I, both catholics, wanted our daughter to be baptized into the catholic religion. I called the catholic Church my family and myself had been members of for over 40 years- yes, 4 0, I asked the receptionist about booking Lola's baptism and told her she had 2 moms, of course she had to have the priest call me back. I was sick and saddened at the thought that because of who we were Lola might not be able to be baptized in such a special place to me and my family. When the priest called me he immediately stated that the catholic church doesn't recognize same sex relationships, to which I said I understood (I do, Ive been a catholic my whole life and know their strict guidelines)... He grilled me asking what we do to make God a factor in our home and what we will continue to do to make God's presence know in Lola's life. I was honest, not hiding who we were or what our home was about. At the end of the conversation, I'll never forget, he said "Joy, it will be an honor to baptize your daughter into our faith" It brought tears to my eyes and still does thinking about it. The point of this story is for those who say its against their religion, well religion is ever changing and constantly evolving, the catholic church accepted me and my family, so why cant we all accept each other. 

Tomorrow is a huge day for marriage equality, I pray for a positive outcome. Again, I'll be watching the news throughout the day and getting updates on my phone- trying not to get my hopes up, as they've been crushed before. But, I really am hopeful and see how far our society has come!

Don't forget to wear red tomorrow, to show your support for Marriage equality! 

If it does become legal here are our plans:
•Make it legal at the court house (which will be special to have our Lola with us)
•Get another wedding band (waa hoo) to symbolize the day

I don't think we'll celebrate the day though, our wedding was so special and so beautiful (legal or not) July 9th is our Day!

Just remember, Love is Love. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kisses, Lola

Kisses, Lola is the new adventure, that I’m embarking upon... 

Named after my two first-born princesses, 'Kisses Marie, (my furry baby) and 'Lola Julianna' (my almost 1yr.old baby) both, who have taught me to be a mommy in their own special ways! 

Currently, I'm releasing hair accessories (wraps, bands and bows). Blood, sweat, and tears (literally- but I think that may be a lack of sleep) have gone into each one of these.

What makes KL special is the caliber and uniqueness of these products. I use only the finest of fabrics and very exclusive prints. I personally search hidden gem fabric stores throughout Los Angeles to gather these amazing finds! Each piece is hand and machine sewn with lots of time, energy & love going into each and every product. I know that eventually all this hard work will pay off! 

Doing things the "right way" takes a lot of diligence and patience; A successful business is not something that just happens over night... I wish everything would just be done and ready, but that's not how the real world works! At times it can become discouraging because of the long time lapses between each accessory (note: I can only work on this in between feedings and naps with my one year old) but knowing everyday that I'm working hard to create a legitimate business makes it all worth while and now I am happy to share the beginning of this new journey with you all. 

Here's to hoping you find something perfect for yourself or someone you know. The kindest thing you could do for me is share this blog & Etsy shop and spread the word of Kisses, Lola. 


** A percentage of the total net profit will be divided between: The Human Rights Campaign, The Humane Society & The ASPCA. 3 Charities I love and are doing amazing work everyday! ** 

Etsy Shop: KissesLola

Thursday, March 14, 2013

4 Natural Beauty Products

Here are some awesome beauty tips for these 4 natural products!

Apple cider vinegar:
(ACV has such strong odor; it really takes some getting used to... When using it on your face, there is a slight adjustment period, you might notice more breakouts the first week using it. Listen to your body, some of these may not be for you)

 use after washing your face as an all over toner!

Blemishes & redness-
ugh, we all have that bad habit of picking our face- well until you break that habit, use a little ACV to treat that blemish or any redness. The natural antibacterial in it helps treat the blemish, it doesn't cure it but it takes the swelling down and starts to heal it a lot quicker than on its own.

Bruise remedy
Got a nasty bruise and want to speed up the healing process? Well now you can, soak a washcloth and lay it on the bruise- the longer the better!

Baking Soda:
(Try to find an aluminum free BS)

I use baking soda for everything now days I love it!!

Face wash
 Mix about 2-3 tsp in 8-10oz of water, shake it up and use it as you would a facial cleanser (It doesn't remove make up, though)

Face scrub
Mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water- mix just enough water so the baking soda can be molded and shaped without becoming watery. Using a pea sized amount scrub your face and neck! Say goodbye to your favorite scrub, because this is the next best thing!
(You could also use a little bit more, mixed with a small amount of coconut oil, as an all over body scrub!)

Whitening Tooth Paste
 2 tablespoons toothpaste, 2 tablespoons baking soda, and 2-table spoons hydrogen peroxide.
Use this 1-2 a week, until you get your desired results, then as needed. Your mouth will feel so clean after this mix, it's amazing!

It's the best dry shampoo! If you have dark hair mix a little cocoa powder in with it. I also like to put it in the night before, brush my hair, and then sleep on it. I find in the morning it's not as obvious and the powder has an opportunity to absorb.

Coconut oil:
LOVE coconut oil!

Lotion- Once you’re done showering, lightly towel dry and use a table spoon of coconut oil all over. I especially love it after shaving! Be careful and avoid certain areas if you are prone to breakouts.

Deep conditioner
Place 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a plastic bowl (one of those glade containers work perfect), put the bowl in the shower with you (somewhere it can feel the heat but not get to much water in it). If it doesn't melt down completely don't worry, once you rub it around in your hands it will turn to liquid. Wash your hair as normal but do not condition it, towel dry it and start to run the coconut oil through your hair, try to avoid putting it on your scalp (get as close to the root as possible). When you directly apply it to your scalp it tougher to wash it out and can keep it looking a little greasy. Run it through all the way to the tips. Using a wide toothed comb, comb your hair as best you can.
Put your hair in a bun and wrap it with ceranwrap or a plastic bag.
Keep it in as long as you can- the longer the better.
Wash it out with hot water; you might have to do 2 shampoo washes, no conditioner. You may notice some stiffness in your hair after but the next wash will be perfect!
Your hair will be silky smooth for days!

Under eye treatment
It helps with dark circles and helps condition and grows your lashes! Every night right before I got to bed I use a little C.O. over my eyelashes and under my eyes. Don't use too much or it can get in your eyes and be quite annoying- doesn't sting but makes your vision blurry for a couple hours (this still tends to happen even when little is applied, so that's why I do it right before I go to sleep).

Place a dollop in your bath with you for an extra relaxing, moisturizing bath!

Cuticle oil

…. and much, much more!