Graceful Moms: Q&A I

Jun 24, 2016

One on one forums are so intriguing to me because I love to peek into the way others think and what motivates their decisions, thoughts, behaviors. One of my goals for this platform is for it to be an open and inviting place where lifestyle and thoughts are shared and accepted by others/myself gracefully. Whether I agree with your view or not, I think its important to try to at least accept or learn from the opposing side. And simply to have some fun with new knowledge or findings no matter how big or small. Today is all about simple Q & A's. Maybe in the near future I'll feature other moms/women? Hmm....

1. Most important thing(s) for moms to share with other moms?
Grace, respect, encouragement. 

2. Describe your parenting style in one word?

3. Diaper bag must-have?
Honest Co. Spray Hand Sanitizer in Lavender 

4. Initial reaction(s) after pregnancy confirmation?
Gasp, smile, tears

5. Biggest fear as a parent?
Failing as a parent.

6. A trait you hope your child never inherits from you?
My bossiness!

7. What is something motherhood has helped you realize?
The importance of self-love, fun, and balance. 

8. What is the best part about being a mom?
Being trustedneeded, looked up upon... it keeps me in line.

9. Any story behind your kid(s) name?
My husband and I started dating our first year of high school, and during that time we said if we had a boy first, his name would be Noah. Sure enough, it was.

10. What is the hardest thing about being a mom?
Acquiring balance between myself,  family, and everything in between. Sometimes, finding the energy and patience you believe you no longer have; over and over again.

11. Last toy you helped your child find?
This little telephone he's obsessed with.

12. Note an occasion where you cried your eyes out at any stage in motherhood?
The second night with my baby. He was crying uncontrollably for hours! My husband and I didn't know what to do... I tried what I thought was everything and I couldn't manage to calm him. He was hungry and wanted the boob! 

13. Describe different stages and what has been your favorite so far?
Infancy was smooth. He was very collected, sweet, and quiet. At 9 months I felt like I had a totally different baby! He was so different and was learning so fast. He's almost one in a half now and this is definitely a cute, but challenging stage. He's incredibly active, demanding of time and attention, and is still learning do's and don'ts. In the beginning, the exhaustion had me believing everything was so hard, but really I mistook hard for new. The experience was simply new. It was much easier then when he just fed, pooped, played on his swing and slept. This stage is funner in terms of engagement, but challenging when it comes to the things I want to get done, giving him his undivided attention, and repeating myself over and over again.

14. Anything you're really looking forward to?
I definitely look forward to getting out and around with him; have playdates, library time, go to Disney. I truly am excited to hear him express himself to me verbally.

15. Something you miss?
Being able to do things when I called it. I don't think we realize how free we really are until we are held by a responsibility like this.

16. TV or no TV for baby(ies)/kids?
Something educational, informative, realistic for his attention span, and viewings are moderate.

17. Guilty pleasure?
KUWTK and all of their spin-offs for sure!

18. Baby is down for a nap, what do you do?
Make a cup of coffee or tea and either work on my blog, read blogs, mags, a book, or get into YouTube. I actually really look forward to that time of the day.

19. What has changed most since entering motherhood?
Perspective, most definitely!

20. Best piece of parenting advice you ever got?
"Enjoy him. They really do grow fast." -so simple, so true.

21. Something you love about yourself?
The ability to recognize when I am in the wrong.

22. Is their any way being a mom has brought you closer to God?
In the sense of understanding love, yes. I now easily comprehend what it is like to love without conditions.

23. First words that pop into your head when you hear the word mom?
Immeasurable love, being an example

24. Most absurd things you've done after having a kid?
Getting a tattoo! (just never say never)

25. Advice for mommy-to-be's?
Do take time into account, because as I have been told over and over, it really does speed. Be patient with your little one and be forgiving with yourself. It's a new thing for everyone involved and it is something no one can really prepare for. 

Q: Voir Grace, 06/2016
A: Albanery Maria

Tarte Blush: Exposed

Jun 22, 2016

Tarte's Amazonian Clay collection is known for its excellence in longevity and its versatility with multiple skin types. For oily skin, it encourages make-up to stay intact and balanced. Dry skin benefits from the nourishing and hydrating properties, while combo skin relies on its ability to deliver complexion harmony. The blush in Exposed is more on the natural side with hints of nude and pink undertones. Their literally isn't a akin-tone I've seen that this blush doesn't compliment. It is a matte shade, making it universally simple for the appearance of a natural flush. The application process is easily projected as smooth due to the products ability to blend so easily. I love that besides this blush having such a soft tone, it is still strongly pigmented. A little goes a long way, which always makes me not feel so bad about the price! The less required to use at a time, the more it'll last in my collection before repurchasing, right? At first-use, you'll definitely notice the height of quality. I like to think of it as a "stain powder", because it isn't flaky at all and literally lasts hours before any fading is even noticeable. 
Sold at Sephora & Ulta, $28 


Motherhood & Body

Jun 20, 2016

Photographed at Zara, 17 months postpartum 
Excuse the silence on my blog over the course of the last week. Being that the events were on International news, its safe to assume you're aware of the attack in Orlando last Sunday. I was in the Downtown, Orlando when everything was unfolding, and to wake up to such horrifying news broke me. If you follow me on Insta, you know I posted a photo about recharging this past weekend and coming back strong. It has felt so weird to be "normal". I know several people directly affected by this tragedy and I can't help but feel their pain. Rest In Peace to all those angels who died under the vicious attack of a terrorizing person. 

My husband and I booked our first getaway for next month. We are so looking forward to getting away from such traumatic and sad events and just having some time by the ocean and relax. Yesterday we went to the mall and I decided to hunt down a bathing suit. Unintentionally, I found one at Zara which sparked my desire to search more thoroughly. I tried on 3, and couldn't choose between 2, so I bought them both! Can I just say how much more appealing I find a 1-piece? Especially when they're uniquely designed. So while I was in the fitting room I snap chatted my audience (username: albanerymaria) on my quest to find the perfect piece and the feedback was nonetheless, amazing. In the last 2-3 months I've been leading a heahltheir lifestyle and it is truly reflecting on my appearance these days, which brings me to this post... motherhood and body. 

6 months ago I almost gave up on retaining my pre pregnancy weight goal. It seemed so difficult, but now that I look back it was only difficult for one reason: lack of self control. I would always give in to all my cravings and regret it the next day, only the regret of indulgence lasted 48-72 hours before I gave in again. I ate whatever I wanted with no limit. After having my son, I automatically dropped 15-20 lbs, but I was still 15-18 lbs from my goal. Now, my body has changed a lot and I am more than ok with not having a 4-pk. However, something dawn on me a few months ago when I was shopping for clothes. I could have bought what ever I wanted, but nothing "fit" right. I don't know about you, but for someone who has a thing for personal style, this got really frustrating. I have never considered or even thought about surgically altering my body to get to a specific goal. I wanted to be able to give myself all the credit in losing whatever extra weight I had and feel like my normal self again. 

For one, I realized I have a new normal. I am a mother now and some women snap quickly, others may take months or years, some never really snap back, and others snap in a completely different way... more volume, more body, still positive. I have always been on the petite side. Over the past decade I've been pant size (H&M for reference) 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and even 10. I remember being the most comfortable with my body size 6-8. I wanted to go back to that and truthfully I wanted to be happy and comfortable with whatever I saw in the mirror. Over the last 3-4 months, I actually haven't even worked out properly. With the exception of light cardio, I owe my recent weight loss to my diet. And by diet I don't mean freaking out about portions and/or calories, I simply mean watching my food intake closely and eating less than I normally had been. If you're interested in knowing what I eat, leave a comment and I'll post about it at a later time, but really, being mindful of my eating habits and having self control lead to so much more than the times that I worked out relentlessly 6-8 months ago. 

I care about how I feel and I care about how I look. To say I don't would just be a flat out lie. What I care much less about is what the people far and around me think. I say that with such a big smile on my face because I have never felt so free and so damn comfortable with myself. If it wasn't my family telling me how to look and what to change, it was some reputation at church I had to upkeep to not be regarded as "low" with what I wore and how I acted. Absolutely ridiculous. 
Being a mother has opened up my eyes to the importance of so many things; things I let pass me by when I was younger. The importance of fun, the significance of loving yourself and actually feeling comfortable throughout something called PROCESS. The importance of confronting yourself and coming to terms with your thoughts and inner feelings, likes and dislikes. The importance of not tolerating disrespect and the importance of being who you are. Truly, deeply, the importance of tuning out all of those irrelevant voices that make less of what you want to be. 
The most beautiful thing about a female's body is that it is, indeed, the one and only vessel to bring life forward on this Earth. Animal or human, WE are structured and equipped for this. As beautiful as it is and can be, it can also leave us feeling like, "wow, what is of me now?" And you can become so self conscious about how you look in this or that, but lets shift the focus onto how you feel. Are you healthy? Are you caring about it? Eventually taking sincere action upon that would lead to looking better and leading a healthier lifestyle. The start is simple- it starts with a concrete decision and a solid determination. What follows is dedication and mindfulness. Be mindful of your new state and experience, and be dedicated to make it better for yourself if you wake up and day to day and don't really find yourself fond of whatever is present. If you are happy, after all, embrace it! Share that with others and let it rub off. Confidence is contagious. Regard your esteem highly and don't let any standard set by society dominate or rule your overall thinking. This is about tuning in with the SELF. Yourself. Do yourself a favor a never compare your progress or your body with anyone else. Comparison is a destructive set-back. Do be inspired to become better if that's what you wish. Don't deny being unhappy if you really are. Be open and be honest. Being honest with the world is so important, but being honest with yourself is even more impactful. Never give up without trying. And even when you try at first and maybe lose sight or control of what you promised yourself you'd attain, keep trying! Try, try, try, until the fruit of your works unfold and you're ultimately in the place you want to (inwardly and outwardly) be in.

My Diaper Bag: Honest Co City Backpack

Jun 10, 2016

I had been eyeing this gem for a few months before I got it. I told my husband its what I wanted for Mother's Day and I'm so grateful I got it! I went back and forth between their Elephant Gray, Black, and Navy Blue options. I love all three so much! I went with black because really- you could never go wrong with it. I must say I am absolutely in love with this diaper bag and its my favorite one yet. I've had a few, but especially at my sons age, this one is the most practical to carry.

I love the disguise. You would never know its a diaper bag, would you? There's no bottle or sippy cup space other than within the bag. At first I was a bit turned off by this idea because I wanted quicker access to my son's sippy, but after having the bag I'm glad there are two designated spaces inside. It keeps the overall look of the bag super clean and chic. Its perfectly spacious for what I need on the go and its really comfortable to wear. The straps are thick, which helps the weight of the bag manageable and comfortably balanced on my shoulders. Of course, the reason I opted for a backpack-like diaper bag is so my hands could be free! Running after a toddler happens way more often than I could have ever predicted. My son is very active and I really couldn't imagine lugging around a a giant side purse-like diaper bag.

The bag is made from vegan leather and it is soft, but doesn't lose its structure. It has a large insulated pocket for snacks and 5 pocket interiors to keep everything in its place. My favorite thing has to be the back zipper! It gives you quick access to a certain pocket within the back of the bag and here I keep an iPad, my wallet, and the changing pad- which also has an awesome feature; a zipper! So I can carry my diaper-changing essentials and just grab and go with the changing pad alone. You realize how great details like this are when you're at a busy mall with your husband or something and one can go quickly with the minimal basics to take care of business. And that back secret zipper is such a life saver when I'm on the line to pay at Target or when I get one of those amazing explosions (moms, you know); keeps me from scuffling inside the bag.

I am obsessed with the design. It is definitely functional and I do recommend this bag. I would say it is truly ideal for toddler moms since your hands are free! A huge plus is anyone can wear it, since it compliments both genders. My husband loves it! And yes, I made him hold the bag up for the shots!
Image via Honest
This bag retails for $149.95 and it is available online at Honest and Nordstrom.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and are in no way or measure influenced by those in relation to the Honest Company.

Voir Grace - the blog and content overview

Jun 8, 2016

Throughout the month of May, I had a lot of reflective time regarding this blog and other things I want to do. A desire for a name change grew over the last 3 or so months. For many reasons- I won't name all, but the most important one being the direction in which I wish this would go or where I would want this to be in a few years time. Although I loved everything Gracefully, Alba stood for, it still wasn't fuller there for me. I think its very apparent in how I test waters publicly and unsurely (one could assume) due to the often changes.  Whether its seen in a layout, a signature, a style of template, a font in a specific section, or set of colors to compliment the site. I keep it open for everyone to see that even someone who has done this for nearly 3 consecutive years could either struggle to understand themselves or to show that we evolve and with time that has the likelihood of bringing one self awareness.
VOIR GRACE - to see grace
Voir is a french term. It means 'to see'. I want to keep the concept of grace present throughout this space regardless of how it evolves. Whether you perceive grace through any of these elements:

  • The love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God.
  • Christian identity: "By the grace of God I am what I am." - 1 Cor. 1: 10
  • By your standing before God: "This grace in which we stand." - Rom. 5:2
  • A controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving. 
  • Elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
Whatever your view, grace is a sweet thing. If we all lived with a little more of it inside and extend it onto others more often than not, it would very well be a much better world. 
It is my overall objective to remind my audience of the impact in grace, what it is to feel it, to believe it, to see it, and to be it in everything we do; in who we are; and in who we are in. 

Due to a personal motive, I wouldn't publicize my end-goal with this blog and name, but I have some ideas in the works. The change doesn't end here- it is the start of something new. In the coming months, I will be introducing new reoccurring columns with the concept of grace being the primitive point. For now, enjoy the design update, and the continued lifestyle, beauty and parenting content. 

Lifestyle posts include articles centralized on interiors, personal style, family and life endeavors (ex: minimalism), planners, blogging 101, notes of grace. Beauty content includes tips and reviews on topics, trends, and/or products subjective to skin, hair, and make-up. Parenting posts are more based on motherhood and parenting reflection, a share of experiences, and potential reviews on toddler goods. Posts are public at 11 AM EST.
Monday - lifestyle 
Wednesday - beauty
Friday - lifestyle, parenting

Next month will make 3 years since I initiated the courage to put myself on the web through an arrangement of composition and visual displays, without a clue to where it may lead. Thanks to your growing interest, I have come so far. 

Suggested Read: About

Back to Black

Welcome back! Notice the new blog name and design update? Read about it here!

Now it only makes sense I wrap up my hairstyle journey with a post on my decision to go back to black. Not gonna lie, the blonde was fun. It was relieving to finally see myself with a different hair color. As I expressed in previous posts, some thing I always wanted to see, but had been strictly prohibited to try. Everyone seemed to love it- especially my husband! The coolest thing in all this is learning my style, trying new things, choosing what I like, and getting rid of what I do not, without anyone hovering over me telling me what I should do and not do and why. At nearly 24, I am getting a true taste of what it is to have freedom in self expression. It has done me so good. It has made me a lot more comfortable with myself since I have gotten to know myself more. With anything, really, how would you know what you like, how would you know its for you, if you don't try?
It's crazy how a few trips to the salon could teach me so much about me. While I was getting towards my ultimate ash blonde goal (which I believe I could have attained with one more session, had I not gone back to black), I decided I was done processing my hair and seeing the potential difference I could have been presented with. Ultimately, there are degrees of damage when you're in this process. Some parts of my hair were more stubborn than others and some darker shades wouldn't lift to give me what I really wanted. Brass tones came fast and some state of dryness was obvious. I couldn't stand to look in the mirror and see all the inconsistency of color within my hair. It drove me crazy! I didn't like the highlighted vibes the ombré gave off either. I really do prefer one solid rich color, and that color is black. Pure black suits me best. 

the haircut... a few years ago I probably would have cried if I had to cut my hair due to damage. My security and esteem were highly guarded by the length of my hair and what society defined as pretty and feminine. Don't get me wrong- it is truly my preference to have long, healthy hair, but for the first time I opted for a shorter style and I'm genuinely happy when I look in the mirror. I have a 'medium blunt bob' and I'm really excited to style it with effortless waves! Super OUAI and Parisian chic inspired. I blame Pinterest and some books/magazines for the hair inspo. Needless to say, its about 98 degrees every here this summer so thank Jesus the shorter hair will be a breeze. I also look forward to my hair being half way down my back with a blunt cut style. I guess its safe to say I'm pretty tired and bored of layers. Its always what I've gone for and it seems every other girl does, too.
To me, this new style also represents the quite essence essence of minimalism I've familiarized myself with. It is quite calming to find it in my home, wardrobe, and now in my overall appearance. 
Someone who can't relate would probably deem it as boring and that's completely ok with me. I realize you know you're confident in who you are and in what you choose when you truly do it for you, and not for anyone around you.

© Gentle Maven.