Product Reviews & New Finds

March 5, 2018

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything other than babies or grief, so I figured it’s time to have a little fun again and I wanted to share some new recent finds.

In October, I discovered “Volaire” hair products on an infomercial. This is what happens when you only watch TV for football season and you stay in a hotel with access to the rest of the television world at your finger tips. So, Volaire. The products were known for volumizing finer hair which is always my struggle so I thought I’d try it.

Product Review: decent. It’s not overly expensive and I would rate it in there along with some of the other better hair volumizing products I’ve used. But for someone who likes to switch it up often, don’t ask my why I thought a subscription would be a good idea. 4 months later including 2 deliveries that never made it though I was still charged, it was time to cancel.

Customer Service: you have to call to cancel which was honestly easy to do and when I told them about having two charges for deliveries that never made it I was instantly refunded! I didn’t even have to get into the “I’m going to tell all my friends never to use this product” script I’m used to having to do for these sorts of things. They were quite willing and ready to correct the situation immediately and with no fuss, even knowing I was no longer going to be a customer.

Moving on..

Rent the Runway as a SUBSCRIPTION – This is an exciting one I could probably dedicate an entire post to in itself. So if you don’t already know about RTR you should download the app immediately. This is a service where you can “rent” a formal designer dress for a fraction of the cost. That was their initial purpose. I first used RTR in 2010 for my friend Niusha’s wedding. I’ve since used RTR for my own birthdays and other fun occasions. The cool part about it is, you get a back up size sent with your order FOR FREE and you can add on another dress for $35. Oh, and it arrives in a few days, AND they pre-pay your UPS return shipping costs. So the amount you pay for the dress includes all of that. Oh, and the dresses are drop dead gorgeous with pictures of real people wearing them including their height, weight, and measurements so you can find someone with a similar body type to see how the dress might fit you.

More recently, with the evolution of more wardrobe rental subscriptions popping up for those of us who don’t want a closet full of cluttered pieces you spend a fortune on and only wear once (you rent clothing items and pay a monthly fee), RTR got into this business, too. You can also rent accessories, bags, even outerwear! So, after a convo with a friend on the topic of capsule wardrobes she told me she moved her clothes buying to this kind of subscription model. I was intrigued. She said the economics play out where you save more money on an annual basis doing it this way than your normal clothes shopping in a year, and you have a lot more variety.

Well, I had a kid’s school gala I was attending and I needed a dress. The cost of renting a single dress on RTR was going to cost more than signing up for a [promotional] monthly wardrobe which included dresses subscription where I could also get FOUR different dresses shipped so it was pretty much a no brainer. I did it. I ordered 4 different styles, they all arrived within a few days and I picked the dress I loved most. It worked out flawlessly. Check it out!

fisw gala

Up next? FabFitFun, but of course. Damn those Tori Spelling Facebook ads. I was skeptical. I’ll be honest. This seemed like another one of those silly subscription boxes with terrible products you’re just going to waste a bunch of money on. I’ve tried many of those, too. Except, this one was kind of legit, guys. I’ve only received one order so far but I loved it all. I actually loved everything and paid $30 for over $300 worth of stuff which included muscle relaxer bath salts for my new pilates workouts, a facial mud mask that was decadent and to die for — as good as the stuff my aesthetician JUST used on me a few weeks ago, a body scrubber with infused wash that has made my whole bathroom smell like Hawaii, a gorgeous cozy wrap, an eyeshadow palette I’ve been using ever since it arrived, but my favorite was the “meet me at the barre” gym duffle bag. My favorite pilates instructor says “meet me at the foot bar” only 100 x a class so it’s a cute saying I love hearing right now. Gorgeous long dangly earrings that look pretty trendy were also included. There wasn’t a single product I didn’t just drool over. Plus, I adore nice packaging which they nailed. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

I think I’ll stop here. These are just a couple of reviews I wanted to share though I’m sure I could write so much more on other amazing recent finds.

Until next time…



The Last Time…

February 27, 2018

When a loved one leaves your world, you may find yourself reliving memories with that person often. For me, I do a lot of “last times.”

  • Last time I drove on this road, it was on my way to see Ward.
  • Last time I ate at PF Changs, it was with Ward.
  • Last time I celebrated my birthday, Ward celebrated with me.

Then as time goes on, it’s no longer the last time, but instead it’s two times ago, three times ago and then you stop tracking that particular event which made you think of that person. To be perfectly honest, whenever I graduate to a 2 times ago or 3 times ago situation, I feel like I made it through the “last time” and there’s a sense of relief along with a deep breath. Similarly, as much as I’d give anything to go back in time and rewind to when he was here, I equally never want to relive that moment we had to tell my mom her son just died, or my dad. Never ever do I wish such a painful duty on anyone.

Well, yesterday I had another “last time.” As time goes on the other thing about last times, is they begin to thin out and become more infrequent.. so at times I’m caught by surprise.

I had a 6-month mammogram recheck yesterday due to a scare I had during the summer. A scare involving multiple exams where one after the next, I was brought to another room and yet another room AND another room for further testing. A scare where I was even brought to the bad news room to prepare me for the possibility of a poor outcome. A scare where I had to even come back to the hospital because the tests weren’t enough and a biopsy was required. So yes, I have a permanent piece of metal inside my body to mark the spot, but with lots of prayers, I was ok.

But it was a time where I received the most wonderful text from Ward upon finding out my results. I thank God daily for still having these texts.

So yesterday as I sat there in the same waiting room as I had before, thinking about the last time I was there and remembering this conversation, I couldn’t help but smile and also feel extremely sad. I was fine, but it was him that was in poor health. And no one even knew it. Not even him.

Ward, your sister is still healthy! In fact I’m only getting healthier and healthier, my brother. PS I would give anything to do lunch with you this weekend though. We should have done that and we didn’t. Also, I know you knew I loved you but I’m sorry I didn’t always say it every time you did. You were so good about it where I wasn’t.

I love you.


I should have had 12 babies.

February 4, 2018

Tonight as Vinit and I took turns hovering over Mila as she slept, wondering what was going to happen next, I found myself dealing with a little bit of insomnia. This always happens when I have a sick child at home. I’m not quite sure Mila is exactly sick yet, but what I do know is 12 hours ago she had a fever. She complained about her tummy all day. She was lethargic and barely ate. And she just looked out and out sick. But here were are almost midnight and her fever is gone, she’s been sweating and her breaths per minute are within normal range. When you have a child who gets asthmatic from colds, you know all about counting BPMs or giving a couple puffs before bedtime in hopes of stopping something before it starts. That said, I’ll be honest, all the media attention and focus on this year’s flu season has me less than settled when my child with a history of respiratory issues comes down with even a measly 101 fever. I freak. We all freak. The house is on lock down and Vinit and I are all hands on deck attending to this child of ours, with a game plan clearly spelled out should symptoms start to worsen.

So, I don’t sleep nights like tonight.

Though I have a cute little munchkin named Nora right next to me as we still attempt separation during nights like these even though that never works. Still, we try. And my days of co-sleeping are reunited and I’m right there in my happy spot with a baby right next to me and Vinit sleeping in Mila’s room alongside her doing periodic checks.

It’s no secret nor am I embarrassed to admit I’ve been seeing a grievance counselor. I would highly recommend anyone and everyone do that in the event they need assistance getting through a loss. Well, I have an amazing one. But we don’t always talk about loss. Several other topics come up as well including career, friends, family and well, we’ve even talked about babies. In fact, I just learned from her during my last visit that children are naturally narcissistic yet it’s the only time in our lives we can get away with a being a “healthy narcissist.” Children struggle to see beyond themselves and don’t get over that for some time, which is all very much part of the normal, healthy developmental process… and well my friends, that explains just about everything :) I think we can all go home now.

I explained to her I loved babies. I explained to her I wasn’t a baby person before having kids but that I can confidently say my daughters baby phases are right up there in the top 3 happiest times of my life. It’s funny, because it’s a time where you hear so many gripes and groans – the lack of sleep, the feeling fat, the constant nursing, the blow outs, monitoring sleep, scheduling around naps. Well, I’m going to let a little secret out — I kind of loved it. I loved it all. It’s during this time you feel the magic and miracle that can only be explained through God’s perfect design where your body gives you what you and the baby need. Those nights I didn’t sleep? Adrenaline kept me going. The constant nursing? My body knew exactly what my babies needed and gave me the goods to take care of them. I loved all of it. One thing I loved most and remember fondly both in our Issaquah house and Bothell house even more so, was sitting there in the nursery with a plate of lactation cookies, and a pitcher of water next to my glider, rocking my baby and holding her hour after hour. I know it sounds crazy but I was able to let everything else go in the world and enjoy these fleeting moments where I did not have to be anywhere else, and I did not have to do anything else, but where my only job in the whole wide world was to  be there for this child and love her. That did change quite a bit with two. I had those moments, but those moments were often with a 22-month old tugging at my pant leg wanting me to play with her. At that point, those moments were more so at Gymboree, or at the playground in my ergo. But I still had those moments. Those amazing, beautiful moments I would not trade for the world.

I should have had 12 babies because I really, really loved the baby phase. Yep, 12 babies (exaggeration in case you took that literally). Of course, 12 babies I could then hand off to someone else for the wonderful toddler years. LOL! Well, I guess even toddlers have their charm…

I look at my big 3 year old and 5 year old and I have to wonder, where did this time go. As cliché as it sounds, they truly grow up too fast so I’m reminded to enjoy every moment with them — especially now where they still want me to hold them and they still need me in a way that I love. In another 5 years I just can’t even imagine…

12 babies. Yep. Should have done it.


My doctor’s orders.

January 29, 2018

There have been things I seek to understand better. Grief had never been one of them. When you go through great loss, you are forced to honor grief, embrace it, revere it, even accept it. The thing about grief is, it is highly unpredictable. You might have a period of several days where you feel things are a bit more under control, you’ve got this, you can handle this, then grief pops up and reminds you, you don’t have shit. It’ll humble you in a heartbeat and make demands of you, you will never be comfortable with. And that is grief. May those of you reading this, never have to go through it.

Yet, I know none of us can escape it.

I lost my brother. I didn’t lose a parent. I lost a brother, a grown man. I can’t even describe the sorrow and pain one feels when you lose someone so close to you, much, much too soon and so suddenly with few answers remaining even to this day. Nothing can adequately explain the horrible pain, physical pain, which comes with only something like this. My parents are both creeping up to their mid-70s, my dad’s health continues to fail him by the month, my mom is doing better physically than my dad, but has taken such poor care of herself, we all know it catches up at some point. They’ve both lived a good life. They could live much longer indeed, but they surely have some solid years under their belt. But my brother didn’t. It is a very different kind of experience when you lose someone whom who left this world much too soon, or when it’s “out of order.”  But this is why as a sister, I am grieving so much.

The other reason I am grieving is while I have other siblings, particularly other older brothers, it was that “sister-brother” relationship, I felt strongest with him. To me, it was he and I who defined that relationship more so than the others. He was local. He was at my house every weekend. He was the only one who treated my girls, his nieces the way only a super proud and loving uncle would. He was “bro’s” with my husband. But he was my forever loving brother. The kind who you called repeatedly to come rescue you from something, on the regular. This was my brother, so even now, when I think about what it means to be a sister, I only know this because of him. To be clear, my other two brothers have stepped in tremendously since this has happened, and that should not go unrecognized. I love them to pieces. But it’s different. And everyone gets that.

We weren’t always this close. It wasn’t until he moved back to WA from Texas that we became close. I will admit, at the time he was considering moving back, I urged him to do it – to come back home and be with all of us. I was newly married and it had been years since I had lived near him but I knew he’d be happy here. He lived with us his first 6 months back in the area and he instantly developed a bond with my husband a sister could only dream of, and took care of our family, as only a big brother would. It was pretty perfect, despite the underlying imperfections going on behind the scenes none of us took seriously. He was my perfect brother and went above and beyond in effort to be the best big brother I could have asked for.. And damnit, every single person who knew him took this poor guy for granted. We should have all been more loving like he was, or talked nicer like he talked, or made the effort like he was always making. He always prioritized everyone else above himself… AND with a happy, giant smile. He never felt anyone owed him anything either, where I would have if I were him. Not him. God literally had to take him away from us and this earth, to give Ward what he really needed…and we all hate that it had to be that way, but it was.

So, when I walked into my doctor’s office and told him what happened, along with the stress I had been going through not to mention the grief, his instant reaction of a writing me up 3 months of medical leave from my job was just what I needed.

It’s been one of the best things I could have asked for – the ability to focus on self-care; getting myself and my family healthy again; dealing directly with my loss head on where I can process feelings and work through emotions that still feel as strong as the day I learned he passed away; being there for my sick dad at the drop of a pin where I can talk to him about my brother for 3 hours without worrying about any commitments hanging over my head. I mean, it’s been a journey and I’m only 3 weeks in.

I’m still dealing with a lot.
Everyday scenarios run through my head – it’s the constant replays.
Everyday I go back into time and relive moments and conversations we had just had.
Everyday while I know there is nothing I could have done, I still think of things I should have done which could have created a
different outcome, even though I’m a believer in a plan larger than myself.

My faith has been tested more than ever with this loss. I told my therapist last week, though I could barely get the words out… when it’s my time, and I am standing there in front of the pearly gates of heaven, please let it be Ward who comes to greet me and welcome me in. She assured me, yes, it will be Ward. It will absolutely be Ward. I told her I would hug him so tight then scold him for leaving me 40 years, a lifetime, too early. But just let it be Ward who’s there…

I cry from pure heartache when I’m reminded or am hit with the reality check of the fact it’s going to be about 40+ years until I get to talk to him again… that’s a mother of a pill to swallow. He was just here! But I’m working through it and every day is another challenge with me trying to work through acceptance.

Until then, I will continue this journey that I’m currently on with more kisses and hugs given to my family, wholesome meals cooked with love, weekly sessions where I can cry as much as I want for 60 straight minutes, Pilates classes that have allowed me to find physical strength again as well as overall wellness, and just figuring out ways to live a much more basic and simpler life. This journey is just what I needed to do and I’m thankful that it’s just what the doctor ordered. Not to mention a husband who supported me with this day one.

The journey continues.


We survived, errr something like that.

November 26, 2017

So, we made it through Thanksgiving fairly unscathed. I even felt a little bit guilty because I wanted to break down but didn’t. I also cheated. I psyched myself out by convincing myself my brother was at work that day and could not make it to our house. What a load of crap, I know. He would have never missed a holiday but hey, whatever works, right? The other thing was, my oldest brother was in town who was an amazing distraction for me as well. Though he and Ward would have normally come on over together, I just kept going back to the “oh, it sucks Ward has to work today” thinking in my head. Once dinner was over and everyone left, I was relieved. Because then I convinced myself that Ward simply left, too. That it was just like any other Thanksgiving and that everyone just had to go home. Another load of crap, indeed.

Vinit and I carried on post-Thanksgiving dinner in our usual manner by hitting Black Friday sales. Amazing sales, at that. We created all kinds of normal on this holiday for something that should have been filled with sorrow and grief. While I cannot and will not ever forget my brother, there’s a huge part of me that is determined to keep moving forward though.

But sometimes, if it seems to good to be true, it IS too good to be true.

Because today I probably cried harder and more than all the days combined. And I may have even created an intentional situation just so I could get myself to get it out, such as well, not proud to admit it, but a fight with my mom. Which guys, I won’t be doing again. Next time, I’ll just cry – the fight was not necessary. I got a lot out. And it was built up for days.

For me, I keep thinking back to the last day I saw my brother. How it seemed only like yesterday. It was 21 days ago. There’s something extremely difficult about Sundays right now, where I think back to that last day, which was a Sunday, when I saw him last. He was right there, fully alive. He kissed my forehead and gave me a hug. He told me he loved me and I said it back. I remember how while I was getting my dad some soup that day and dropped the bowl of soup in the kitchen and how the bowl shattered and the soup splattered everywhere. My brother came in and talked with me while I cleaned it up. I remember following him, behind his car as we both left for our own homes. At one point he drove fast and I couldn’t see him and wondered where he went.

But as much as every bone in my body knows this was all by design, that I wasn’t meant to know what was to come, I keep going back to that day. Wishing I HAD known. What would I have done differently. Could I have done something to save him. And I end up back where I started and that is knowing this plan was already laid out. I couldn’t have done anything differently because I wasn’t supposed to do anything differently. And that hurts. I  realized how I wasn’t able to have any control over any of this and it gets to me badly.

OK, so the point of this post was to talk about my breakdown. Now, let’s talk about some memories.

  1. when I was a kid, my brother (and he was 9 years older) used to sing me songs that he’d make up, like impromptu songs. but he always threw some sort of  Scooby Do reference.. “tanya is a Scooby..”
  2. he appreciated the small and simple things in life. it meant the world to him any time I invited him to my daughter’s dance recitals.
  3.  the work bag I use to this day was one he got me for Christmas last year.
  4. although he was my big brother, I felt protective of him and I protected him.
  5. when he’d come over and watch football games, anytime he’d go upstairs, he’d ask people what they needed or if I was sitting and watching the game and said something as little as “where’s my phone?” out loud, he would go run upstairs and get it for me, with out me ever asking anyone to do that.
  6. we often celebrated birthdays at cheesecake factory. I might not be doing that for a bit.
  7. my girls. they couldn’t have loved an uncle more. though they can be shy with people, they were always super drawn to him and instantly comfortable. for both their births, their uncle was right there at the hospital hours after having each baby with flowers and balloons in hand.
  8. I hear this from everyone around, but there was not a nicer guy, who would have done anything for anyone. he was selfless, extraordinarily patient, sacrificial and demonstrated all the qualities I know I wish I had more of. Because of this, he also carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. When someone was stressed out or had a problem, it affected him deeply. He hurt badly when others hurt. At times, I remember thinking – this isn’t even your problem, why are you so caught up in it but he truly had an amazing amount of empathy for others around him. I need to be more like that. And there’s not a soul who knew him who wouldn’t tell you all of this – the more stories I hear from everyone else who knew him, the more I realize we are all telling the exact same story with the same themes of this amazing human being. But here’s the best part … I got to call him MY BROTHER. :)

Ok, I’ll end it here. This writing thing is helping me tremendously as I mourn this terrible loss. I may end up back here as I process and work through it, in hopes of avoiding starting fights with family members. So just a warning.




A different kind of Thanksgiving.

November 22, 2017

I sit here and wonder how this first thanksgiving is going to be without someone I’ve known only my entire life. A holiday he kept saying he was looking forward to this year as we were going to have our extended family here to join us. The last 7 years have been glorious having my brother back in WA, knowing my favorite family holidays would be with him again. And they were amazing holidays with him. So, tonight when I went to Costco and I wanted to buy all his favorite things for our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday you can imagine the immediate sorrow that filled my heart. It’s these moments, the sadness feels unbearable.

I’ve got to stop doing it and I will, but going back to all the recent communications between him and I, the text messages, the emails, the fb messenger messages, wishing I had known then they’d be our last. One thing I know though, the very last time I saw him, I distinctly remember telling him I loved him. He was stressed out and for a moment in time I assured him all would be okay and he believed me then told me he loved me. I told him right back that I loved him, too. Thank God I did. I can live with at least knowing that.

The sorrow that fills my heart at times is indescribable. I think about what’s going to be missing from my life which is sad, but then thinking about my daughters and how they just lost someone they loved tremendously makes me even sadder. There is no one here to fill those shoes – at least blood related – though I’m very thankful for their uncles who may not be blood related but uncles by every other definition. And they’ve got some pretty ah-mazing uncles here. Mila has broken down 3 times now as reality continues to hit her where her sobbing is uncontrolled and she says things like, “I want to see him again, mommy.” Her memories of him are very vivid and I never want her to forget. I realize Nora may but I hope Mila holds on to even just a few.

As for us, I look at science. I research. I seek to understand all the health issues which went wrong that day. I have found some answers. Some have brought me peace. But mostly I have to continue to believe in faith and that this was never within my control, or any of ours. This was by design how his life was supposed to be from the beginning, and while we didn’t know this was going to hit us, we can safely say we had some incredible moments with him, especially the last few years. We will always wish we had more, we will always wish we did more. I will always wish I spent just a little bit more time talking to him, a little bit more time telling him how wonderful he was, asking him to do more things with us. But the time I did have with him, I have that.

And nothing will ever take that away.

RIP to the sweetest brother I will ever know. I will miss you every day but hold you close to my heart always.


The moment I decided to STFU.

March 1, 2016

I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately. Potty training is going about as bad as it can go. The 3’s are literally exhausting me. Now I’ve got two daughters who only want their mom. ALL THE TIME. And throw tantrums if I’m paying attention to the other. IT HAS BEEN A MORNING. A DAY. A WEEK. A MONTH.

I spend all waking hours researching why my toddler does this, why doesn’t she listen, why isn’t she potty trained, did we do something wrong, what should we be doing, when will this stop? I analyze and analyze until my head hurts from overthinking about my next move or trying to make sense of this whole thing I’ve got myself into called parenting AND blame the world for not warning me about how hard this was really going to be. I even told a friend a couple days ago not to ever have two babies close together. The breakthrough for that moment was that I was going through all this because I wasn’t smart enough to space them out and while in survival mode, I failed to teach the older one a lot of things I should have been teaching. Now I’ve got a large debt I’m having to pay back and with this one, I can’t throw in the towel and file bankruptcy either. At other times, I realize it’s the moment. It’s the terrible 3s, it’s the sudden shift of turning all of our “yes’s into “no’s” for the 3 year old now, it’s also the little one turning into a toddler and the natural demands of all of that, and that all of this will one day end. Though there will be new challenges…

By the grace of God, we hired a new nanny who is literally the super nanny but nice and gentle. She’s whipping us into shape as a family in a way we’ve needed it. She’s whipping my daughters into shape and that toddler who was able to get away with murder, now gets away with nothing. Our nanny takes care of us. She coaches us. And guides us. AND she’s potty training! Best part of all, our daughters listen to her. They are in complete awe with her actually.

But aside that amazing help we have, I still struggle to make sense of the day to day challenges, even when I should not. This in turn, leads me back to complaining. And I hate complainers. For the record, it’s my huge pet peeve. Quit complaining, just fix it.

Then last night it happened. I got a dose of the reality I needed. Only in the way you know God wants you to simply STFU and stop complaining. It was the news that country singer Joey Feek had entered her final sleep after kissing her 2 year old for the last time. I can’t stop thinking about it and wrap my head around what that family and child are going through without tears swelling up in my eyes. As hard as days may get, as much as I might question myself as a parent, or wonder where I got this child, there is nothing on earth…NOTHING… harder than this tragedy. I just cannot imagine… nope, I cannot.

And that my friends was the moment I realized, I needed to seriously.. just SERIOUSLY.. STFU! I get it, I’m allowed to my feelings, don’t compare.. but no, that could have been any of us. And those children could have been mine. And I’m here with them on earth today. And yet I’m whining and complaining. When most likely I’ll be here tomorrow, and next month and next year for them too – God willing.

Life is so precious and I hate to admit I’ve learned this lesson through another’s tragedy. My heart and prayers go out to that family.


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