Motherhood & Journaling

Jul 16, 2016

I've been an avid writer and a collector of journals almost my entire life. Since elementary years, nothing was more satisfying to me than notebooks, especially journals, paper, writing utensils. Creating poetry, documenting thoughts and feelings had always been more than satisfying. As an adult, not much is different. In a world so consumed by digital goods, I actively choose pen and paper over a blank word document. During my pregnancy I journaled so much, but shortly after my son was born it all just stopped and it did so very suddenly. I'm not sure what or why, because ever since I could remember I looked forward to recording every single thing I possibly could on paper.
The physicality of writing in itself is super therapeutic and soothing to me. Recently, my son has been changing so much. You know how like when you live with someone and see them every day you can't really differentiate the differences until you go away, return, and then notice some change? Well, not here. My son is changing right before my eyes literally every single morning I see him. His gestures, behavior, and expressions are a lot more "toddler-like" and its such an interesting thing to witness. I see so much of his personality and its a little scary how much he mirrors me and how much he could possibly know at 17 months. I've always tried not to underestimate his capacity to learn and understand, but its just happening so very fast.

After noticing a small, but significant change in his voice when he said "wow" so sharply, I started to feel so guilty for not writing (privately) about him or my growth as a mother. He's not saying, "woe" anymore or "woah", he's saying "wow". He's saying it the correct way, just as he's now saying, "Uh Oh!" when he drops something or when I drop something or when he knows something has gone wrong or is out of place. It use to be "uh! uh!" but now its "Uh Oh!" The "Oh" is just so emphasized. "woW" is just so emphasized. Its like he's refining his voice. He knows how to look for things like his pacifier when its nap time, he knows to hug me when I ask for a hug, he knows to kiss me when I ask for a kiss. He says, "aaawwwww" while he does these things because he knows they're sweet and kind things to do. He knows how to rub me if he notices I hurt myself somehow. He knows how to put his hand on my shoulder and look at me and follow that look with a hug if I appear somewhat sad or silent. He just knows so much and acts upon what he knows and it astonishes me every single time.
We were on a stroll yesterday afternoon and went into Barnes & Noble and I spotted this handmade journal. Something about it just made me get it. I fell in love with the texture of the pages and how it looked like an old, loved, and used book. I knew I wanted it to become this perfect little sacred place for a record of imperfect happenings and life documentations on my son's growth and changes as well as my own in this utterly unique journey. Its not even about filling pages from top to bottom- although Lord knows I could do so in seconds, but its more about documenting at least a sentence to potentially remember a moment some day in the far future which could be otherwise forgotten. I don't ever want to say I don't have the time, because if I don't its about making the time.
Time isn't any less forgiving and its speeding past my husband and I turning our little infant into a little toddler which will soon then be a little preschooler, to a schooler, to an adolescent, to a teen, to an adult, to a man. God help me. 
He sees me write and scribble so often in between planning for my posts and brainstorming content. He knows how to hold a pen and imitate me writing. It would be pretty awesome if he caught the journaling bug, too.


A Closer Look At The ABH Brow Wiz

Jul 13, 2016

Remember the hype around this product? Of course you do, because its still around! The Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz has become my go-to brow product for several reasons. The retractable pencil has a super fine tip that easily mimics brow hair. When filling in sparse areas, the end-result is a super natural and seamless blend. I line my brows starting from the bottom (inner edge to the end) for more definition and then scatter the product vertically using the spooley on the other end. The spooley is pretty stiff and does a great job at brushing the hairs as well as distributing the product evenly. Since I like a more natural effect, I'm not too neat with it. I like when the hairs have a mind of their own, especially on the inner part of the brow. It has a "long-wearing, smudge-proof" claim which I can actually say is pretty accurate. It is super hot and sometimes humid where I live and my brows stay intact all day! Did I mention I love that it is retractable aka no sharpening hassle?
Although I have black brow hairs, my shades of choice are between Dark Brown and Ebony depending on the shade of my hair on my head. I recently went back to black, but the sun lightens my hair quicker, so I don't like for my brows to appear super stark. I think there's an awesome shade selection and Ulta has a great guide to help match your brow and hair shades!

$21, Ulta or Sephora

Minimal Workspace Corner

Jul 11, 2016

When my son turned 1, I got all emotional and excited about his transition to toddler. A toddler demanded a lot more space for play and curiosity and our dining and living room area just wasn't cutting it. I decided it was time to sacrifice my office (the 2nd bedroom in the apt) and give it all to him. It has been such a fun project to create a play/bedroom from scratch for our little boy. I felt sad I wasn't going to have all this space for my blog and videos, but I wasn't conflicted at all. There's an extra unit space in the living room where I kept his toys in for a long time, but it was driving me crazy to see them scattered everywhere on a constant basis. That space seemed more appealing as a little workspace. So a few light bulbs went off in my head and I moved some things around.

At the end, I couldn't be happier! This new space now devoted to my blog/project work encourages my minimalism journey and lifestyle. At the end of the day I realize I don't need an entire room for it just yet and I've done so much better at managing the bare essentials and not being over-excessive with anything I don't really need.

I really wanted to keep it minimal and functional (as with everything else in our place). I wanted the space to be clear of clutter and an environment that encouraged focus and clarity. A sense of creativity had to be present, along with a few inspirational aspects. I decided to keep it black and white with hues of blush and of course, I couldn't leave out some greenery. For now, I have my desk with a shelf on the left side and drawers on the right side. On the shelf holding the table top, I have some of my favorite fashion and beauty magazines stacked and in the drawers I keep away stationery, office/work essentials as well as some camera equipment. To the right of my desk I have a tall glass/metal bookcase and its content will be featured in a different post.

On the desktop I have my 27" iMac, keyboard, and trackpad. Below the trackpad I keep a weekly desk pad to jot down quick notes and/or weekly assignments or deadlines. Is isn't meant to be kept neat and the point is to rip out the pages as you go through the week. The one I have is from Sugar Paper LA and has been discontinued since they usually release collections on an annual basis, but I also have a few from Rifle Paper Co. which also serve as a mouse-pad. My Mini DayDesigner is always present keeping my daily schedule and daily tasks on track. To the left of my iMac, I have an acrylic box that contains a few Aesop hand balm samples, skeleton paper clips, magnetic clips and other nic-nacs up for grabs. On top of the that I keep my Chloe box solely for the purpose of throwing in that hue of blush pink, along with a Chanel mini shop bag, a ruler, an eraser, and a squared acrylic container for some pencils. To the right I have two small white glass containers that keep some SD cards, my Canon remote, pins, and led for some of my mechanical pencils. I also have a faux Monstera plant I sort of DIY'ed in a concrete pot I purchased from Target.

On the wall To the right I have a simple magnetic strip with a few tags and goods I always hate to throw away (lol). Most are as simple as a sheet with a name brand on it. To the left, I have a pretty large round mirror that reflects light from a near-by window and I also have minimal art work that inspires me in one way or another. For now, I have 4 framed shots. Chanel, Givenchy, Adele, and the G.O.A.T Muhammad Ali. The Chanel is really just a clean and basic shot of some products. The Givenchy ad captivated me with the written message it has under the 4 models. Adele is captured resting over her piano with what seems to be pages of notes and music. It reminds me of myself, except I would be sighing over my desk, surrounded by scattered notes of poetry and/or brainstorming for Voir Grace. The Muhammad Ali one is one of the most recognized photos in the sport of boxing, but more than that, it is a vibrant symbol of courage and the then underdog being on top. In the photo, Ali (then Cassius M. Clay) produced one of the most iconic images shouting, "GET UP!" for Liston to rise. No one expected Ali to win then... and he did. He defeated Liston not once, but twice. The image to me is a constant reminder of nothing being impossible for the one who believes and tries.


Miracle Cleansing Water

Jul 6, 2016

Before bed I'm either super excited to go through a pampering routine or too tired to even think about it. On nights where exhaustion wins, the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is my go-to. I picked this up a few months ago from the drugstore when it was relatively new on the shelf. As with most of my purchases, I was attracted to the packaging and claims. An All-in-1 claiming to remove make-up, cleanse and refresh. Sounds right up my alley! The very first time I used this I was blown away at how thoroughly and immediately it worked in removing make-up and dirt that contacts the skin throughout the day. With one swipe across the cheek it would remove the majority of product accumulation and with the second wipe all just about gone. I read that it lifts the stuff off of our face like a magnet and that couldn't be more true! While doing so, it hydrates the skin and actually leaves it soft! I assumed it may leave my skin dry to some extent, but nope, I was wrong. What surprised me most is how incredibly lightweight it is. You could trick me into believing its just plain water with nothing in it if I didn't know any better. It feels and looks exactly like so!
This product is good enough to use on its own on nights where you can't even. I try my best to follow up with a gel-based cleanser and most nights I do. At this point I don't wear makeup every single day, but even on days where I just wore a tinted moisturizer with SPF, I still swipe it all away at the end of the day with this stuff. It feels so good! For anyone concerned about residue- this leaves none! Your skin just feels healthy and refreshed. For reference I am combo leaning a bit more on the oily side. Now I'm not sure of any healing properties here, but I have noticed significant improvement on the texture of my skin over the past few months with consistent use of this product.

Prices may vary ($7-$9), available at drugstores

Questioning If I Want More Kids?

Jul 1, 2016

Noah's 1st Halloween; Oct 31st, 2015
Motherhood... it is a beautiful thing. It really is. Parenting... I've never felt such a tiring, yet rewarding experience in one. Lately, I've been extremely distracted in my personal life and every time I open up my laptop and notebooks to brainstorm content, an unbearable sense of guilt washes over me. I sense my son feels some degree of neglect when I'm behind my computer screens and it is extremely distracting. It may even be worse than being unable to focus due to his demand of attention. I always look forward to my husband coming home from work, because I can use that time to my advantage and do whatever it is I have or want to do... that is until he complains about me being on my laptop and not spending time with him although he's been gone at work all day. It makes me feel sad... and again, guilty. Its true. The man works from morning to night the majority of the days. The least I can do is maybe sit on the couch next to them and enjoy them playing with one another. Then the constant thought becomes the blog, my audience, my time, my space. And this is it... day by day.

I recently shared on my Instagram the spin my life has taken. As of June 2016, I left my job of nearly 3 consecutive years to devote myself entirely to my son, home, husband, and blog. Something that could sound like a potential dream, also has its days. Its really hard to wake up in the morning to the same thing and be in control of routing direction and be productive. The decision didn't come easy for me to make, but after many inconveniences with getting my son cared for on my work days, my husband decided this was best. After weeks of delegating, I finally stopped, and agreed. I guess it hasn't really sunk in yet.

I am madly in love with my family. Emanuel, Noah. They are truly my point of joy. With Emanuel gone 80% of the time,  I am left on most days to parent and guide our son alone. This is really not the easiest job. Prior to becoming a mother (something I always, always wanted) I never really gave much thought to the work required in actually raising a human. To be honest, for some reason or another, it wasn't a heavy thought. The only thing clear to me was that the idea of creating a human with someone I really, really loved had to be nonetheless amazing. The truth is there is so much more to that. There is so much more beyond the newborn phase. I didn't think about the fact that I may repeat myself throughout the day over 50 times to instill a concept in a toddler. I didn't think I could one day, maybe, be that embarrassed mother in a restaurant or shop because my child is simply out of control and refusing to cope. I didn't think much about how my sleeping cycle would change forever and nothing was on my personal time anymore- let's be real here. I didn't think about how the word, "No" could terrify a child to pieces and a serious meltdown would follow every time.

I became pretty scared quite early in my motherhood journey. My son must have been around 4-5 months old. I met up with a friend who had multiple kids (all near one another's age) and the way 30 minutes spent seemed like 6 hours of endless chaos immediately intimidated my desire to expand my family. I don't want to call myself air-headed, but maybe I was. I used to say I want 4-5 kids as if it weren't much. I was so paranoid with her kids and the way they ran around my son. Loud, obnoxiously, to say the least, and not at all gentle.

I'm dominican and always grew up seeing large families, I just don't understand how it didn't hit me sooner. I mean this in the most polite way possible, but sometimes I can't help but question how mothers of multiple children do it. I am confident that the unconditional love drives them to different measures of tolerance, patience, and energy. Maybe that's the answer to all of this? Understanding, doing our part, being present. The pressure I feel in upbringing my son is one I sometimes wake up to and feel, "Can I really do it today? Smoothly? Without losing my temper?" I look at him and the answer is ALWAYS yes, until I'm tried for the 110th time. There's no worse feeling than feeling defeated.

Then you converse with those who make you feel so awful for having a one-year old and not having another bun in the oven... I mean, really. I'm still learning the ways of this path. Ideally, I would have more kids, but in the future. Not any time soon. It takes a lot for me to openly admit that, but the more comfortable I become with myself, the more true I can be to not only me, but those around me. I realize it doesn't make me any less loving or any better or worse mother. It has nothing to do with anything, except for the feeling of readiness within myself and my husband. Of course, somethings happen unexpectedly, and those things are welcomed because I believe everything that comes our way always ends up for the greater good. But while I have control of our situation, I would rather embrace this child of mine and take it one day at a time, doing the best that I could possibly do... over and over again.
© Gentle Maven.