I've seen a lot of bloggers do something called "Friday Introductions." I thought it seemed fun, and so here we are!
This is our little familia! We saw another family taking photos up on this grassy hill behind our church on Easter Sunday, so we asked them if we could do a quick photo-swap with them! The lighting was no bueno, but the boys' cute Easter outfits make up for it, IMO.
There are a million things I want to share, but here is just a little about us and how our family began:
My husband, Juan, and I met back in 2012. He had just moved back to the Virginia Beach area from a season of modeling in Miami, and I had just moved back from a few months of modeling in NYC! I was working at an Abercrombie & Fitch store as a Manager in Training when I saw him walking by. I thought he was good-looking, so I recruited him to work for our store!
We worked together and then remained friends for five years before I finally went out with him on a date. By that point, I was already a single mom of a three year old (Isaiah!), working as a teacher, and renting a beloved little condo by the bay.
Juan had texted me that week (August 2017!) asking if I'd like to get together that weekend, and I had yet to reply because I had an out-of-town wedding to attend that Saturday. In the midst of my delay to respond, my sister texted me out of the blue, saying, "That Juan Garcia guy who comments on your Instagram photos is cute! You should give him a shot!" She had no idea he had just asked me out, so I took it as a sign and said yes!
We met that Saturday morning for brunch, and as he held my hands and asked me to pray with him before our meal, I knew that was it. He was the one! It probably helped that he had been flashing me his flashiest smiles all morning too, and had made sure to open the door for me to his shiny, CLEAN bmw. Haha!
He had JUST moved to Nashville when we started dating, so we dated long distance for two months before he proposed. I said yes, and we planned our wedding for just two months later! In December 2017, just four months after our first date, we tied the knot. When you know, you know!
Isaiah and I moved to Nashville to join him that January, and less than a year later, our baby boy Nehemiah was born!
Since then, we have moved to the Washington, DC area, and I have taken time off from teaching to be a stay-at-home-mom to Isaiah and Nehemiah. While at home, I've been finishing up my Masters degree, working on my blog, and trying to figure out my new homemaker/wife/mother-of-two role. Meanwhile, Juan went from producing a show on TBN in Nashville to producing here in DC for Fox News.
I love our little family! We've been SO blessed, despite all of our shortcomings, and know that we owe it all to God. Isaiah starts kindergarten this fall, I'm currently interning with the Family Ministries team at my church, graduating very soon, and am excited to see what's next to come for us all!
Click HERE to shop the Lilly dress I wore! It is SO vibrant and comfortable.
It’s midway through February and the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, which means that Spring is right around the corner!
With the forecast flirting with warmer temperatures and my postpartum depression finally lifting (hallelujah!), I’m feeling motivated to "get ready" again on daily basis, haha! Yet even so, a full face of makeup isn’t completely practical for just hanging out around the house, going to the playground, and making quick trips to the grocery store (hello, mom life!).
But in about five minutes each day, I can feel more out together by throwing on some tinted moisturizer (La Mer Skintint is my go to!), blush (NARS lovejoy is my tried and true), and the most magical makeup item of all- MASCARA!
Mascara makes all the difference when it comes to brightening up the face. And, when I think of Spring makeup, I think of natural dewy skin and lush, flirty eyelashes.
So, here are my four favorite mascaras! No faux lashes, extensions, or Kylie Filters needed.
1. YSL Volume Effect Faux Mascara
If I’m feeling extra lashy, I’ll base my mascara for a thicker, longer starting point. My favorite bases are Chanel’s and Lancôme’s. Both of these really thicken up and lengthen your lashes before you even apply mascara; plus, they increase the mascara's staying power.
And if I REALLY want to lay on the thickness, I’ll layer my mascara with some lash extending fibers. Easy peasy long lash breezy
So there you have it. My four favorite mascaras!
What are your go-tos? Let me know in the comments!
A short list of some of just a handful of the things I've learned being married this year.
On December 30, my husband Juan and I celebrated our very first year wedding anniversary. By celebrated, I mean we took our kids and nephews sightseeing in DC to explore our new city. Since the first year traditional anniversary gift is supposed to be paper, my plan was to write this blog post (because, you know, it's basically like paper, only digital!) to surprise Juan with on our day. But, hence the move, my computer was packed up, we didn't have Wifi yet, and it just didn't happen. So here we are, three weeks later! Better late than never, right?
Some people might say we are too new or inexperienced as a couple to be giving advice on marriage, but I’d say our whirlwind of a first year together has brought with it plenty of lessons in its first 365 days.
Since our wedding, we’ve technically been tenants of five different apartments total (it’s a long story...) and residents of three different cities. We’ve trained a new puppy, only to have to give him up. We went through a hormonal roller coaster of a pregnancy, followed by a surgical birth and long recovery. We’ve had health scares and sicknesses. We lived off of only one person's income. We’ve walked through a changing custody situation. We’ve adjusted to the family dynamic of a blended/step family. We’ve visited multiple churches, but have yet to become official members of any.
Talk about whirlwind, right? It's been a lot. But. All of that said, here are five lessons I’ve learned from our wild, unexpected, beautiful, blessed first year of marriage :
Core values are crucial.
On a superficial level, my husband and I don’t have much in common. He likes motorcycles and cars and triathlons and sports and news and journalism. I like... well, online shopping, random research, school, music and overpriced skincare products. Yet we get along so well, in spite of seeming to have so few things in common.
The reason for this? Our core values are in alignment. Spiritually, theologically, philosophically, religiously, politically - our world-views and priorities are darn near the same (In fact, I’ve never met anyone else whose sync so homogeneously with my own!). At the end of the day, the surface level stuff comes and goes, but your core beliefs about life and the world and what’s important are key to who you are, thus very important in a marriage.
Honesty is built upon grace.
People always talk about how honesty is so important in a marriage, but rarely do you hear practical solutions for HOW to be honest in your relationship. One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s reactions or responses to the actions or words of the others can often determine whether or not that person continues to be honest with the other. For example, I have never felt the need to lie to my husband. I’ve messed up and made mistakes and said or done things I shouldn’t have, but I’ve never felt like I had to hide any of that from him.
But my ability to be honest with him is rooted in his ability to respond to all things gracefully. When I confess my shortcomings to him, he has yet to react with quarrel, strife, anger, or bitterness. His response is always that of grace and love and forgiveness. Because of that, we have cultivated within our marriage a safe space to be fully honest with one another.
Iron sharpens iron.
They said that over time, we start to look/act/think/talk like the people we spend most of our time around. For most people, that ends up being their spouse. Therefore, if you want your spouse to talk to you in a respectful way or treat you well, it starts with you. Be the kind of person you’d want to be married to! Relationships have reflective tendencies; it’s up to you as an individual to choose to be the best version of yourself you can be to have a positive influence on your spouse and, in turn, your marriage.
The little things are important.
Small acts of kindness go a long way.
It’s funny how after we get married and/or settle down we tend to stop treating one another quite so gingerly. But those little things that new relationships are billowing with are important for maintaining the spark on down the road (especially when things get rocky!). Things like greeting one another with a hug and kiss, even after a long grueling day, surprising the other with a small treat or meal or gift, or simply sitting with them side by side, phone down, just being there, fully present, make a huge impact on keeping the love alive.
A servant’s attitude is important to make a marriage work.
Okay- I'll admit it. My husband is much more of the giver in our relationship. What can I say? I'm a little spoiled. BUT. This is still a lesson I've learned.
One thing about having a servant’s heart towards a marriage is the notion of anticipating the other’s needs before they even have to ask. To be honest, most days my husband anticipates my needs before I even realize them! Small acknowledgments of this, like having coffee (or celery juice, or pancakes, or whatever they like) ready for your spouse to wake up to after a long or late night, or bringing a glass of water to the bedside table, or giving a shoulder rub when they’ve had a headache, are equally important parts of intimacy in a marriage. They show that you’re thinking of one another, respect one another, and care enough to actively demonstrate that love.
Photography by Torrance Saunders
So there you have it. Five (of the many) things I've learned during this first year of marriage. Cheers to a new year and (prayerfully) many more years to come!
Click the images below to check out some of my favorite resources on preparing for marriage:
Anyone who knows me knows my love for Nordstrom. They have the most quality curated selection of brands and items. Plus, they always offer free shipping and free returns. And, if you order before December 18th, it will be there by Christmas Eve! What better place to finish off your holiday shopping list?
I know that last minute shopping can be overwhelming, so I've scoured the site to find the best gifts for everyone on your shopping list - with most of the items coming in at under $50! Check out my recommendations below; words in bold are linked for easy shopping!
For Mom or the chic granDMA
You just cannot go wrong with Anthropologie! These soy wax candles are so beautiful in appearance and scent!
The La Mer Sheet Mask
Enjoy the luxury of La Mer without spending a fortune. Their sheet masks are sold individually for only $25, or you can buy the six pack and gift one to multiple people. I'm telling you from experience, just one use is completely transformative to skin. Think of it as giving the gift of an at home facial! They're perfect for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Anthropologie Pie Dish
I don't even bake, but this gorgeous pie dish makes me want to! Gift it to the woman in your life who makes the best goodies for a special kitchen addition.
For Your Girlfriends or Sisters
Peter Thomas Roth Mask Set
What girl doesn't love to treat herself to a little luxury at home? This mask set makes the perfect gift for your girlfriends or sisters to try out ALL of these coveted and Instafamous masks for such a steal of a price point.
Kendra Scott Birthstone Bracelet
Kendra Scott jewelry pieces are some of my favorite things to give and get! They're durable, gorgeous, and always fun.
Years ago, I vowed to throw out my ratty bedtime t-shirts and upgrade to real pajamas. With all of the comfy and gorgeous pajama sets out there, like these, I've never looked back! Easy to size and give, pajamas are a Christmas gift classic. They're a little more than $50 for the two pieces, but these leopard print Madewell ones are a dream.
Not all nail polish is created equally. These gorgeous bottles of Smith & Cult are proof of that! So many chic colors to gift!
For the men in your life
Your husband or dad, if they're anything like mine, probably wouldn't even think about looking for a cashmere sweater for themselves, but at this price, it's a must have for any man's wardrobe!
Also, check out THIS JCrew version that comes in a bit over 50 but is 40% off right now.
Portable Espresso Machine
If you know a guy who likes his coffee, but who also likes to camp/travel/explore/works outside or at job sites, this is the gift for him! It's a super sleek, take anywhere espresso machine. It's so cool!
Herschel Supply Travel Bag
This is the perfectly sized and stylish bag for guys to throw their toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, and whatever other men's grooming products they need in when packing for a trip. Otherwise, they might be tempted to just throw their toiletries loosely in a duffle with all of their clothes and whatnot!
For Anyone on your list
Plush Blanket with Fringe
You guys. This blanket is heavenly. I own two of them already. I wash them all the time, but they still look brand new years later. It comes in SO many colors- it makes the perfect gift for absolutely anyone on your list!
Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
From dads to coworkers to brothers to kids, a waterproof speaker is a fool proof gift. This one is easily portable and comes in so many cool color combinations!
Not even going to lie, I've had my eye on this for myself for a while now! It comes in a few gorgeous neutral colors, and it's unisex, so it makes a great gift for everyone.
For Little Ones
Melissa & Doug Vet Set
We love all things Melissa & Doug brand. We actually bought this vet set over the summer and it is still a most-played-with favorite in our family.
Cubcoat (cuddly toy that turns into a hoodie!)
As a mom of two and auntie to a handful of nieces and nephews, I can say that this would be a major win for littles and their parents! These transforming "cub coats" come in several different characters, from Poppy the Troll to Micky! I know Isaiah would love the Marvel Black Panther one!
Last but not least, is there anything cuter than a baby/toddler/kid in little Hunter rainboots? Nope. They're $55, but size up a bit and wear them for more than one season.
One of the most common questions I’m asked by my insta-girlfriends is what I think about La Mer. I respond with guilty lavish because I have to say, my only regret about the La Mer line up in my skincare stash is having ever tried any of it... because now, truly, nothing else compares!
It seriously is an incredible skincare line. But, as with anything, some of their products are more stand-out than others, so it's important to know which products will best suit your needs before you invest.
Here are my thoughts on some of La Mer’s skin products, from the ones I use least often to the brand's "holy grails."
The Eye Concentrate - It's hard for me to say whether or not this product works because I'm not a huge fan of eye creams. I'll slather one on here and there at night, but since it isn't one of my top problem areas, I hardly can tell whether an eye cream is working or not. It does feel nice to put on, though! The texture is super smooth.
The Cleansing Foam - I love the foaming action; this face wash leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean! I feel like it might be a better choice for those with oily skin, however.
The Renewal Oil - This is the most recent addition to my collection. My skin gets dry very easily, so it drinks this stuff right up. It has a delicious, herbal scent and leaves skin GLOWING, but I can’t say whether or not it's much more effective than any other oils I’ve tried. Oils are just not my favorite.
The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation - La Mer has a really, really incredible foundation. It has the same good-for-your-skin qualities of the tinted moisturizer, but with more coverage. It isn't necessarily a matte foundation, but it doesn't leave your skin SUPER dewy either. Nevertheless, it is a great foundation that won't irritate even sensitive skin.
The Treatment Lotion - I have a weird relationship with this product. What even is it? It definitely isn't a lotion (it's liquid), but it's not quite a serum either. I can’t figure it out, but somehow adding this step to my skincare regimen makes me feel more complete. I put it on before my cream in the evenings and it seems to seal in an extra layer of moisture; my skin just looks BETTER, with a more even texture and tone.
The Tinted Moisturizer - This was the second La Mer product I ever bought. I have tried about every tinted moisturizer out there (Bobbi Brown, Bare Minerals, Laura Mercer, Chanel, etc.) but none compare to this one. It isn’t sticky or spotty; it is truly moisturizing and leaves skin radiant and glowing. Plus, it actually works to improve the tone and texture of skin overtime. Amazing!
The Treatment Lotion Hydrating Mask - I love this product! It is a sheet mask, but it leaves skin feeling so rich after it's removed. I feel like this is their best product for targeting fine lines and wrinkles.
The Mist - This was actually the first La Mer product I ever purchased. I was looking for something to add a dewy glow to my skin as an alternative to traditional setting sprays. The kind lady assisting at my favorite Nordstrom's La Mer counter spritzed me, I bought my first bottle, and I have never looked back. I use this almost daily. It is so refreshing and gives skin a lovely, dewy glow.
The Cream - This is the OG of La Mer products. Scratch that. All moisturizers. Nasayers will tell you it’s all mineral oil and no different than a $1 jar of Nivea cream (I tried it - it’s NOT the same). I stand firm that this stuff is magical. My skin loves it. My hormonal acne spots, redness, fine lines, and painfully thirsty dry skin gets immediate relief and lasting improvement every time I dip into this boujee jar.
The Intensive Revitalizing Mask - Okay. This is definitely my favorite mask, ever. This makes skin softer, more moisturized, more radiant, more even, and smoother. It smells amazing and feels SO luxurious when applied. I love love love this and think it's definitely worth the money. I don't use it too often, so a bottle lasts about a year for me.
The Moisturizing Soft Cream - This is hands down my favorite skin product, ever. If I could only use one product forever, this would be it. It smells amazing, feels luxurious, and leaves skin just as radiant and glowy as the original cream, but it’s much easier to apply.