On Pregnancy and Our Babymoon

I have so much respect for all of the mamas out there. I have been very lucky so far with a smooth pregnancy, but pregnancy is no cakewalk no matter what these pictures may look like. All of the emotional and physical changes that happen whether or not you’re ready for them are things I don’t think I could’ve ever prepared for.

You will feel aches and pains that you’ve never felt before. You will be so tired but your sleep will be restless. Your body will do weird things. And pregnancy is just the beginning of what motherhood will really be like. I think all the harder stuff comes after pregnancy: labour, delivery, and the sleepless ย days and nights of raising a newborn along with the fear of the unknown. Am I doing this right? Am I too much? Am I not enough?

Being pregnant, you already start to feel like your body is no longer your own. When you eat, you’re mindful of whether or not the baby is getting enough of what they need. You already begin to feel motherly guilt when you do the things people tell you you shouldn’t. But your body also suddenly becomes a free-for-all for people to look (or stare) at and for people to comment on. Some will tell you how big you look, others will tell you how great or small you look. I’ve been asked, “Are you having twins?” and “Are you pregnant or are you just fat?”. All the meanwhile, you smile and laugh. No one likes an angry pregnant lady. ย But you know what? I know people don’t mean any harm by it. People are just curious and pregnant women, in general, are just very cute. But in the comfort of your home, with your partner, they know how you really feel about all of the changes you’re going through and they know the fear you have that you’re losing yourself and that you may never be the same again.

But with all that being said, I can’t help but think about how amazing it is for women to have bodies that can create a life inside of us. So my body may never be the same again but I am thankful for the miracle happening inside of me. I will always cherish the moments when I can take her with me wherever I go. And I can’t speak for the next steps, because technically I’m in the honeymoon stage of pregnancy, but I’m fairly certain I will miss these times of being pregnant. For that reason, ย I wanted to capture as many memories as possible and to spend as many of these moments where it’s just Matt and I, enjoying our time together and working on making us better and stronger, so that we can be the best parents we possibly can be.

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Our babymoon was more than we could have ever asked for. It was exhausting at points.. running through airports to catch connections, and sleeping on the floor of airports when those connections had been missed.

There were tears from me, about things I probably shouldn’t have cried over (thanks hormones). I remember sitting at a beautiful beachfront cafe silently with tears rolling down my cheeks and Matt having no idea what was happening. The trigger for those tears? It was a lot of things.. probably the exhaustion kicking in, the frustration I felt over the waitress telling me they couldn’t make me a hot chocolate after I realized that was one of the few beverages on the menu I was allowed to have. It was all of the things on the menu I saw that I knew I couldn’t have, including enjoying the view with a glass of vino with Matt. And it was our first vacation where I suddenly felt all my limitations. I couldn’t do all the adventurous things we normally do on vacation. I had to protect our little peanut. I let the tears work themselves out of my system. And then I sucked it up and remembered how lucky I am to have this little peanut inside of me.

We had a wonderful time enjoying Monaco, Eze, and Nice even if it was at a slower pace than we were used to. And boy, is Monaco pricey! There were many times when we opted to share an item on the menu because we were both outraged and terrified about the price tag of our meal items. But the French Riviera is absolutely STUNNING and we had beautiful weather while were there and took memories with us that we won’t forget.

And now, the peak and pit of our trips:

Matt’s: Pit: The silly argument we had that then made us skip dinner and a night out on the town because we were too angry with each other.

Matt’s Peak: Celebrating his 33rd birthday in the exact way we loves to spend his days, with fun activities like volleyball, bowling, playing pool, and finishing the night dining at Blue Bay, an amazing restaurant (where we forced ourself to not look at the price of everything.. because when you commit to going to a Michelin star restaurant, you just can’t.)

My Pit: Finding a maggot at the bottom of my mushroom risotto in Eze after I had basically finished eating the entire thing. My stomach still turns just thinking about it.

My Peak: All of the laughs I had on this trip with Matt… like laughing so hard you feel like Santa Claus-with-your-belly-shaking-like-a-bowl-full-of-jelly laughing. Ok.. Maybe that’s happening because of the pregnant belly. ๐Ÿ˜› But I still loved it.

Until next time!

xo,

Juliana

 

 

 

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On Living Abroadย 


It’s been 2 years and 3 months since I’ve lived in Vancouver now. It is an amazing place to live and I am so lucky to live here, but it’s probably taken me about this long to really feel like I could call this place my home. Ever since I was about 16 years old, I knew I wanted to move away for college and part of me didn’t think I would ever move back home after.

I originally wanted to move to NYC for undergrad, but chickened out when application time came. I ended up starting my adult life in San Diego, and when I was 22 I moved off to NYC for graduate school, following my dream. Shortly before moving to NYC, I found my soulmate, and he would end up taking me on a path I had never foreseen, a wonderful and exciting one. And after 4 years in NYC, I ended up here in beautiful BC, the place he was lucky enough to have called home his whole life. Some of my patients ask me why a girl from Southern California is living up here, as if it seems crazy… and I have to convince them how beautiful it is here and how great of a place it is to live. Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying to convince them or myself.

But I truly do love it here. Up here, the air is clean, nature is lush, the skies are bluer, and I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty surrounding me. The city is vibrant, people are active and healthy, and there are dogs everywhere (I LOVE that part)!

What’s made it so hard for me to call this place home isn’t the lack of beauty or endless amount of things to do… What truly makes a place home, is that feeling of comfort that you get when you’re with those who make you feel safe, understood, welcome, and for lack of a better word, loved. To me, what I just described is the true meaning of family. And for me, family can extend beyond blood relatives.

I have met some pretty incredible people here and am lucky to have been taken in and accepted so quickly by Matt’s family. It is only now, 2 years and 3 months later, that I can look back and realize it’s been a while since I’ve cried thinking of how much I miss my family or friends that I left in Chino Hills, San Diego, or New York and how hard it is to “make a family” out here.

But today, I cried again. My mom and dad are visiting Vancouver and I got to see videos my mom had taken of my 10 week old nephew (who lives in San Francisco) who I’ve been lucky enough to have seen TWICE before he was 7 weeks old. I watched at least a dozen short videos of him cooing, smiling, or even just laying there observing his surroundings. Matt reminded me we had to get going so I could prepare for my next day at work but all I wanted to do was sit there and watch those videos… because I realized those videos would be the closest I would get to holding, touching, smelling, or kissing my baby nephew and I don’t want him to grow up and miss it all. I told Matt after we left my parent’s hotel how that felt and I just started crying. This time I let myself cry, and didn’t feel ashamed or try to stop myself from thinking that I should be over it by now.

I realized it makes me human to feel this way, and although living abroad seems amazing and adventurous, sometimes it hurts. So my message to myself after all of this is to cherish each moment with those you love because when we leave this earth, all people will have of us is the memories we made with them.

xo,

Juliana

Rendezvous in Vegas

Vegas holds a special place in our hearts… which is kind of a weird thing to say. Vegas is the place where he first told me he loved me. Vegas is the place where his dreams came true when he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet. But most of all, Vegas will always be special to me because it’s the place where we first met. We’ve come back to Vegas more times than a normal human being should ever be in Vegas without actually living there… but this is the first time we’ve stayed at Bellagio since that night almost 5 years ago when our paths crossed inside The Bank nightclub inside Bellagio. What was supposed to be just another spring break trip turned out to change my life forever. It still amazes me to think of all the things that had to happen in order for us to meet that night. If any number of things had gone even slightly different, I never would have met my husband. I am so thankful for everything that had to happen for the universe to bring that fun-loving, always smiling, sporty, goofy, and chivalrous Canadian to me that day.

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xo,

Juliana

p.s. Happy Superbowl Sunday!!

Our Day After Session

Weddings are so beautiful… even after all the planning was over, and now even when the wedding is over, I still find myself watching the occasional Say Yes to the Dress and all of the fun TLC shows that cater to hopeless romantics like me. Our wedding on September 28, 2013 was the BEST day of my entire life. Walking down the aisle to the love of my life and hearing his beautiful vows, followed by an outpouring of love by our dearest friends and family and dancing the night away until we literally were shut down are things I will never ever forget.

And as beautiful as weddings are, they are incredibly complex in ways I never even imagined. No wonder girls dream about their wedding since they are little girls…no wonder why, because there are SO many elements to consider, one of which is to decide whether or not you’ll have a “first look”. What exactly does that entail? Well, this is a somewhat new concept where the bride and groom have a big reveal before the ceremony begins. What are some of the pros, you may ask?

1. More photos/time: A first look allows for more bride and groom portraits. Most weddings have a ceremony, followed by cocktail hour, which then leads right into the reception. That leaves exactly one hour for family portraits on both sides, wedding party photos, and bride and groom portraits. And notice, I only mentioned photos. In that time, sometimes brides change their hairstyle or dress, or just need a moment to sit down, have a bite to eat and take it all in with their new hubby! Having a first look allows extra time for these photos that don’t have to be crammed into cocktail hour. In addition to this, you can figure out a creative way to reveal yourself to your groom, and this creates more excitement and can make for some awesome photos.

2. Less anxiety: Seeing your future hubby/future wifey before the ceremony can relieve a lot of anxiety on a potentially stressful day that you have been planning for many many months. You can get out those tears of happiness before you walk down the aisle (if you don’t want those tears to come in front of your guests), and this lets you have a little make-up retouch if those tears start a-flowin’. It can also give both of you peace of mind that you don’t have a runaway bride/groom. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Okay, so there are definitely cons, as well.

1. It breaks a very old tradition: If you’re a traditional bride, you may be flabbergasted by the thought of a first look. I definitely was and I don’t even consider myself a traditional bride. In my mind and my husband’s, the biggest and most important tradition of a wedding is that the groom is NOT to see the bride before she walks down the aisle. They separate after rehearsal dinner and all family members and bridal party members immediately become body guards to ensure the groom does not lay eyes on the bride until that moment when “Here Comes the Bride” plays.

2. That moment you walk down the aisle is not quite the same: Now this is my personal opinion. It was something both my husband and I feared would happen if he saw me before ceremony. One of my favorite moments when I attend weddings or watch wedding shows, or even any movie with a wedding ceremony in it is that very moment when the groom gets to see his beautiful bride walking down the aisle. I love the expressions, the smiles, the tears, the gasps of that very special man in that woman’s life who is filled with so much emotion at seeing his glowing bride walk towards him to vow to spend the rest of her life with him.

So after weighing the pros and cons, Matt and I decided, a first look was not for us. We think some of the first look photos and reveals are filled with emotion and absolutely gorgeous, but it was a tradition we wanted to keep on our wedding day. We instead decided to opt for a modified first look, a pseudo-first-look, if you will. Matt was blindfolded, but instead of removing the blindfold when I finally tapped on his shoulder and he turned around, the blindfold remained covering his eyes. We were able to steal that special, quiet moment together where we could cry our tears, then pull ourself together, and we could just calm each other’s nerves. It made for a cool photo-op as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. It took me a very long time to come to this decision, and even after I did, there was some flip-flopping but in the end, we stuck with our guts, which is something I would definitely recommend. Our pseudo-first-look ended up being perfect for us.

The other thing that helped our decision to nix a First Look was the concept of a Day After Session. It is also sometimes known as a Trash the Dress session. It’s a great opportunity to put on seemingly the most important dress of your entire life just one more time to get some beautiful portraits of you and your hubs that you may not have had time for on the big day. BINGO. Nailed it on the head for us. Micah of Micah & Megan Photography trekked up to Mount Baldy, California with us while we were back in town for Thanksgiving for these shots. We absolutely love how it was all captured. ย I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Check out more of Micah & Megan’s amazing amazing work here!

xo,

Juliana

Tween.

Tween.ย 

You know, that incredibly awkward stage we all went through when we were creeping from childhood into those angsty, brace-faced, vulnerable teenage years. Everyone goes through it and then they’ll look back and laugh at their tween self and how far they’ve come since tweenhood.

Well, I must confess. I am a tween. I’m a 26 year old tween.

I am now an Optometrist. I graduated in June of this year. So I’m like one of those newly ripened bananas that has just barely turned from green to that beautiful yellow color without acquiring any of those brown spots quite yet. But that’s the banana that you’re not going to eat yet because even though it’s ripe it’s hasn’t softened to that perfect ripe banana texture. That’s me. I’m done with school, I’ve passed all my boards exams in Canada and the U.S. ย But I can’t work yet. As a U.S. citizen married to a Canadian and now living in Canada, I am going through the process of becoming a permanent resident. What that involves is stacks of paperwork, application fees, an exhaustive process of proving you have a legitimate relationship with your sponsor (my husband). Not a very interesting process, so I won’t get into it… But after your application is all finished, sent in, and received… All you are left with is the sit-back-and-wait part. Until such time, I am not legally allowed to work in Canada.

So here I wait, not a student, not a REAL optometrist , in my opinion, because I’m not working yet. Right in be-TWEEN.

So if you’re wondering if the second time being a tween is still awkward, it is. I am here in limbo watching the world move around me. I watch as my colleagues have moved into the working world. I look up to them as they either start their residencies or they are now being called Doctor (last name here) by their patients. They are scribbling on prescription pads, treating eye infections, taking care of their patients, and donning their long white coats. So yes, I am that awkward tween wondering when I can be like them, all grown up, a REAL optometrist.

But during this stage, I am finding this time to soul search. I have always wanted this time. When I was in college, I wanted to study abroad to soul search. It never happened as I rushed to finish all my coursework, fulfill my optometry school pre-requisites, obtain some relevant work experience, take my entrance exams and graduate in 4 years. So my next opportunity was to take a year off in between undergrad and graduate school. It never happened as I let expectations take the best of me. In my head, others had the expectations that breaks weren’t allowed. It wouldn’t be accepted well if I took a year off to see the world and to just, well, take a break. So it didn’t happen. I had to follow that straight ahead path. I had to be perfect. So when this soul searching opportunity came back to me, during this tween stage, you would think I would’ve embraced it with open arms. Quite the opposite. I felt the need to hide from or distract others from what was happening. Because what was I doing with my life? Nothing. But everything at the same time. I wasn’t working and I wasn’t going to school. To a lot of people and even to me at some points, that meant nothing. But I was planning a wedding from another country, I was getting to know living in a new city and a new country. I was sleeping in, I was dancing around the house by myself to music, I was burning everything I cooked as I embarked on the journey towards some form of domestication. I was crying because I was lonely in a new place and felt I was going to lose friendships and relationships with those I moved very far away from. I was frustrated going through the struggles of moving in with my then fiancรฉ, my now husband. And I was laughing and smiling as I fell deeper in love with him. He is the one whom I owe my gratitude during this time. He is the one that made me feel that after 21 years of school I was actually allowed to take a break before plummeting head first into the working world. When I told him how disappointed people would be in me, or wondered “What will everyone think?” His response was, “Who cares.” I seriously look up to this man.

So I’ve been reading self improvement books because what better thing to do when you have lots of free time with yourself than improve yourself? I am in no way, shape, or form perfect but I am a perfectionist. I think a lot of us are. We feel like we have to fit into this cookie cutter of the perfect human being. You have to follow these rules but be cool at the same time. You have to look put together but it has to also look effortless. You have to go to this school and graduate with a respectable major so you can find a respectable job and marry a respectable man with a respectable family when you are between the ages of ___ and ___ so you can pop out a perfect little family at the right time. But as someone wise once told me, “Who cares”. It’s so hard not to want to be perfect with all those expectations from society. But I’m going to try something new. I’m going to let myself feel vulnerable, try new things, suck at new things and let myself suck without hating myself. I’m going to enjoy fashion, and makeup and all those things that I’m not supposed to because I’m supposed to be smart and I’m not supposed to care about those things. I’m going to take a lot pictures that might not be very good. I’m going to share my thoughts and actually feel that they are valuable because everyone’s thoughts are valuable to someone. I’m going to do the things I enjoy and I’m going to try my very best to stop worrying about who I’m supposed to be or what I’m supposed to be doing and… Just. Be.

And as much as being a tween is an essential part of crossing that threshold from a child into adolescence and beyond, this tween version 2.0 has and will be an essential part of my personal growth. ย 

Inspire Me, Mon Ami

It has been quite a while since I have taken the time to blog. I absolutely love browsing and reading all types of blogs, from food blogs, to fashion and beauty blogs, to tech blogs, or photography blogs, I love it all. I think there is something so valuable about sharing your thoughts in a place where you can easily look back and revisit that very moment when you took the time to open up your mind to share something with your friends, your family, the cyber world, or the universe in general. I want this blog to be about anything and everything that inspires me. I’m sure it will be random at times, but that’s me. So hey world, inspire me, mon ami. ๐Ÿ™‚