Dear Carter

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I’ve contemplated when and how to bring this up on here but now almost a month in to motherhood it finally seems appropriate to document my journey to motherhood. Now that the initiation phase is over (I think.)

It all started back in March when Chris and I found out we were expecting. To be honest I think we had both already expected that we would never be parents. After 7 years together we figured if we were meant to be parents it would have happened already. But boy were we pleasantly surprised- over the moon actually.

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I honestly think I was reluctant to shout it out to the universe because I had waited so long- and not to mention a guilt of sorts of being blessed while several other women I know personally have struggled. I didn’t know if I was struggling to have a kid (medically speaking anyways) but I did know that look of “but you don’t have kids?” and the awkward sense of being judged when the subject comes up and not being a part of the kids club.  Kind of contradictory to the previous statement of accepting that there was a possibility of not having kids I know. At the end of the day I still had Olivia and she has been the daughter I always dreamed of- fur realz.

Let’s fast forward through the Spring/ Summer of 2018. This is a fashion blog so we’ll start there (forewarned this most likely will become a baby/ baby fashion in addition to but more on that later.) I actually only bought two maternity dresses- one for my gender reveal and the other for my baby shower. I don’t like form fitting dresses and A-line and flowy dresses were the solution to my ever growing baby bump. I used to think it would be dreadful to be pregnant in the Summer but it actually turned out to be the ideal situation. The end of my pregnancy turned out to be the biggest struggle. Feet were so swollen only my Chloe ballet flats fit. I was terrified I would never fit into my shoe collection again. I thought I’d have to say goodbye to my Louboutins. Pants were not an option. Jumpsuits were the answer to a So. Cal chilly day.

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But enough fashion talk let’s get back to the star of this story- my precious baby Carter. First and foremost his name. If you have known me since I was about 9 years old- or entered my life at any point since then you know I’m a HUGE Backstreet Boy fan. I used to joke with my old boss that it’s in my unwritten contract that whenever the Backstreet Boys are in town I automatically get those days off. Since the names Nick, Alex, and Kevin were already taken (I know too many Brians and Howie was out of the question) I opted to go with the next best option, and the ideal one I concluded in the end- Carter would be the winner. I love Aaron too despite popular public opinion. I’ve met him a few times and to be honest he’s one of the nicest most humble celebrities I’ve ever met. Carter was almost Connor but that would have been after a UFC fighter per my boyfriends request and I would not be naming my kid after someone who fights.

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My pregnancy for the most part was easy. I was very blessed and fortunate for this. First trimester was full of nausea that lasted all day which made Disney trips and work a challenge. I never thought I’d want to be sick after riding the Jungle Cruise but man that boat is rocky. Second trimester was a dream considering it was in the middle of Summer and included a work trip to Vegas. The most random symptom I got during this trimester was nose bleeds. But my Dr. said this was because of being in dry weather and likely the elevation of flying. Third trimester was not awful but not ideal either. When you commute an average of an hour and breathing conditions are impacted by fires you feel like the forces of the universe are working against you. Not to mention the fact that the Holidays were upon me so I made every attempt to prepare before Carter’s arrival. No joke I was putting Christmas lights up the day before I went into Labor.

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Sunday, November 25th at about 4 in the morning I started having contractions. I thought it was just my iron pill (required for my anemia that developed) doing me dirty and I was about to vow to never take an iron pill again. Early morning after the pains started getting sharper and closer together I realized it wasn’t my iron pill. I was having contractions. I called the hospital and they said that they were still too far apart to be admitted. Around 3 PM they were between 5 and 10 minutes apart. Chris meanwhile was stating that we couldn’t do anything because we had a turkey in the oven. Fast forward to about 5:30 PM when contractions were now officially 5 minutes apart consistently. I lost my mucus plug and was in so much pain walking became a challenge. At this point I wanted to go to the hospital but Chris made me wait because it was the mid season finale of “The Walking Dead.” Finally 7 PM, the Walking Dead was over and I made the executive decision to go to the hospital. This decision would not be made without a struggle either. A week before we bought a new car- a 4 door as opposed to our Coupe so we could comfortably drive Carter from the hospital and around in general after his arrival. Well wouldn’t ya know the second we pulled into the neighborhood the breaks on the car started to grind. We thought the breaks were faulty so we couldn’t drive it to the hospital. Turns out it was just a palm tree seed that dropped and somehow lodged itself into the break area of the car. Shout out to STG of Montclair for towing us back to their dealership after we got home from the hospital to figure this out without a fee. Now that’s good customer service!

Alas, we got to the hospital around 9. At this point a wheelchair was absolutely necessary. I was admitted and 2 CM dilated. But the hospital wanted to wait to see if I was dilating even further to officially admit me. About an hour or two and lots of pain and tears later I was officially 4 CM dilated and the hospital was finally ready to acknowledge I was in active labor. My water had broke at this point and I told Chris I was going to die if I didn’t get pain meds. I swear the epidural lady went on a holiday vacation to Aruba or something and the only thing they were willing to offer me was Fentanyl- the pain medicine that killed my mom. Well, I’m allergic to Vicodin, makes me have seizures so the options for pain management was limited. I told the nurse my reasoning for not wanting the Fentanyl and she said “so you don’t want it?” Desperate times call for desperate measures so I reluctantly obliged to take their recommendation. Didn’t help anyways.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity I got the epidural. Thank GOD! After that labor was a breeze. I joke now that I can push all day long and twice on Sunday. Around 3 in the morning the nurses told me I could expect Carter before noon, and sure enough at 11:33 AM arriving at 6 llbs and 4 ounces and 20 inches long- Carter Joseph Gonzales made his debut. It was love at first sight. I wanted nothing more than to hold my precious baby right away but there was still the matter of delivering the placenta and getting sewn up. Plus, Carter was born with meconium. Basically he pooped before I delivered and he ingested it causing breathing problems. The NICU team was on standby in the delivery room. As I was getting sewn up I watched them work diligently to stabilize him. After what felt like forever I finally got to hold my baby. Carter is strong willed just like me and his Dad. And no joke before he was even an hour old he was trying to lift his head up.

The entire staff at the Kaiser Hospital in Riverside was beyond incredible. They took such gentle care of Carter and made sure we were well informed before we left. I’m not gonna lie that past few weeks have been full of happiness and lots of sleepless nights. I don’t think I’ve ever paid as close attention to someone’s breathing patterns. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world and I can’t wait to watch him grow up and start making memories that make him look back and say his childhood was magical.

Carter- you are the perfect angel I waited my whole life for and I promise to love you unconditionally for eternity. Let’s start this grand adventure called life and make every minute count. X0X0X0- Mommy.

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I had been on the fence about doing a maternity shoot and then a newborn shoot but then I discovered a photographer who would do both- Kayleigh Ashworth.  Not only is she one of the sweetest souls ever but she has an artistic vision that captures the beauty of pregnancy and the vulnerable innocence of a newborn. I never thought I could be moved to the point of tears by photographs but that’s exactly what her work did. I will forever cherish the images she captured of the most magical part of my life. 

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Fashion With A Theme

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Umbrella: Amazon Shoes: French Connection Bag: Skinny Dip London Overalls: H&M Shirt: Lazy Oaf

It’s no secret I love magical destinations to shoot beyond the typical garage door shoots (which I get it, I’ve been there and done that!) But sometimes a destination just absolutely inspires a look. Don’t get me wrong, like every other fashion girl I’m over the moon about Spring. Not only do we have longer days (thank goodness, more time to shoot!) but we have bright colors and fun floral patterns galore to look forward too!

Right now I’m seriously digging bold colors in heavy fabrics. It’s slightly deviating away from the traditional color palette of Spring but it’s a perfect compliment for St. Patrick’s Day! And wouldn’t you know I found the equivalent of the bloggers pot of gold over the rainbow when I stumbled (more like directed by a co-worker) across this quaint little ally way in Downtown Redlands. It’s called Orange Alley but feels like you stepped into the streets of Italy. Me and my best friend tried the quaint little restaurant Copehouse Bar and Bistro. The food was divine but the ambiance was beyond anything I could have ever hoped to find. While enjoying a beautiful, cloudless and warm Spring afternoon, Michael Buble and Lady Gaga’s duet’s with Tony Bennet hummed softly in the background.

Dear Fellow Fashion Bloggers, if you’re looking for a fun backdrop to compliment your bold Spring pieces, look no further than Orange Ally and this beautiful art instillation of Umbrella Canopies. I’ve had the luxury of connecting with some fabulous ladies of the blogging community of the Inland Empire (today’s adventure brought to you by Patricia of the BlueLillypad.com)  and we’ve been sharing styling tips since pretty much the minute we’ve met. I’ve been given compliments for my daring use of color and I appreciate it so much! For those of you wanting to experiment with bold hues if you want to take baby steps, pair your daring saturated hues with something your familiar with- whether it’s muted metals or denim like I did in this look. Life is too short not to have fun with fashion, right?

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A Fashion Dream Your Heart Makes

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Dress: Bonne Chance Collections

Well it seems as though Summer just happened, then Fall and then I blinked and all of a sudden we’re in 2018 and it’s been 2 weeks since I’ve been blocked out from Disney (seems like an eternity.) But I suppose it’s good to take a break. At some point my Christmas decorations are going to have to come down…after I beat this cold I’ve been fighting since before Christmas. 2017 was a year of memories and magic! If you had told me growing up to be a Disney Blogger, or Fashion Blogger at that was a thing I would have said let’s hit the fast forward button so I can get there sooner! And here I was this whole time thinking the only viable fashion career was that of a designer! Believe it or not So. Cal does incur seasons. There’s summer dress season, cozy sweater season, scarf season and Spring dress season! (Spring is obviously more pastels as opposed to a bright color palette…complimented by ballet flats obvi.)

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As much as I love a good handbag, backpacks are kind of as essential to a Disney Summer trip as a Mickey Shaped ice cream. 

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2017 was the year where my two loves collided- Fashion and Disney. My top Disney digs? Bonne Chance collections does an amazing, one of a kind yet simple and classic a line dress. In fun polka dot prints inspired by Minnie Mouse and even Mickey silhouette prints! They sell out quickly though so I highly recommend following them on Insta to be first to know when items become available! Irregular Choice- Whether looking for shoes or handbags this label has the CUTEST pieces! Although these items come with a hefty price tag, opening each package “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” seems to sing out from the packaging. No joke. No detail is sparred. No stitching left undone. It’s like Jack and Gus Gus designed them over sea’s with love. 

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The Holiday season actually got kicked off in September the second the Main Street Jack O’ Lantern appeared. 

It really is the most wonderful time of the year when Halloween descends upon the parks! Although I had been planning for cozy sweater season since July, and what better way to prepare than with the coziness of a Wildfox sweater- Mother Nature and her triple digit Fall temperatures had other plans. Alas- my ensemble and my hair survived (the humidity is another variable that can completely alter my look-which usually is planned at least 2 weeks in advance. I don’t know how Floridian’s deal.)

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No detail is ever sacrificed when it comes to Disney decor! I LOVED the additions to Cars Land! I can’t wait to see what the Imagineers have in store for next year!

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Top: H&M Shoes: Chloe Shorts: 7 For All Mankind Beanie: Forever 21

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As if playing dress up in the parks was not fun enough- Disney Style Challenges inspired fashion motivation on a whole other level! Each season comes with a new Disney Style Challenge that lasts about a month. During the challenge, those who accept are challenged to post to social media a picture a day inspired by something Disney. From Disney Socks, Disney decor to Disney Bounding, each challenge encourages creativity. Disney Bounding is one of the most inspiring and exciting ways to display your fashion imagination. Although I’ve done several Disney Bounds this year- Smee was one of my favorites! 

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This year me and my BFF Alyssa decided we were going to start doing things we have never done before at the parks. Which, as life long Disney attendees and former Cast Members can actually be quite challenging. To kick this off we tried the High Tea at the Disneyland Hotel. If you’re ever lucky enough to score a reservation I highly recommend the Enchanted Forrest Tea! The whole experience is magical and takes about 2 hours to sip through your pot of tea and taste all of the delicacies that come on the menu. Don’t let the “small bites” description on the menu fool you- I promise the only thing you’ll be hungry for when you leave is to come again!

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One of the things I love the most about investing in Disney Fashion is the endless designs available from small companies. From endless Etsy accounts to innovative brands like Cakeworthy there is no limit to unique and one of a kind pieces available to Disney Fashionistas. 

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One of the best things about Disneyland is there is always a new experience to be had! People always ask if I get bored going to the same park all the time and my answer is always the same- Nope! I had never imagined I would be decorating cookies at the park yet it happened! (Yup, my cookie is the one that looks like a 5-year old decorated it.) 

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Disneyland is a whole other level of magical during the holidays. My top 3 recommendations that you absolutely have to experience if you’re short on time: 1. The Christmas Fantasy Parade (the chubby little snowmen are my favorite! Dear Disneyland, pleeeeasssse make a photo opp with them next year possible! 2. The Festival of Holiday food in California Adventure- from hot chocolate to traditional dishes from around the world there is something for everyone! 3. The snow fall after the fireworks. I actually didn’t get a chance to do this this year but I cry every time. It’s that magical. 

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Skirt: H&M Bag: Irregular Choice Boots: Kate Spade Hat: Disneyland

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My last moment of the year was when Santa flagged me down in front of the Christmas tree, on Main Street as the Dapper Dans sang Christmas Carol’s in the background. Have you ever seen Miracle on 4th Street? When Mara Wilson realizes she’s been talking to the real Santa Claus the whole time- that was me. I never dreamed I would meet the REAL Santa Claus at Disneyland. 

Well, I’m finally unblocked from the parks and I can’t wait to make more magical memories and debut more looks inspired by some of my favorite Disney moments and characters.

Rainbow Bright

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Dress: Bonne Chance Collections Bag: Skinny Dip London

Something happened in Fashion recently and there was a shift to embrace rainbows, unicorns and My Little Pony’s! And I’m here for this! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a Barbie girl till the day I die, so I’m L I V I N G for this life style trend. Because yes, this obsession with having fun seems to be translating to everything from clothes, accessories and even Frappacinos (although the Unicorn Frap was a huge disappointment.) If you must indulge in colorful, Instagram-worthy desserts and you’re in the OC I strongly recommend Caked LA over Creme And Sugar aka the place that made the Unicorn Hot Chocolate famous. Their mermaid milk shake is adorable and all sorts of deliciousness but for Unicorn goodness I strongly recommend you take the trip to Caked LA.

Alas, let’s talk Fashion. Moschino just launched a My Little Pony collection in case anyone needed high fashion validation that “cutesy” is officially a thing. But if spending $400 on a replica Hot Topic item isn’t your thing fear not! If you follow fashion on social media at all perhaps you’ve noticed these adorable rainbow bags. And while there are many imitations, Skinny Dip London seems to have perfected the epitome of fun accessories. My favorite was this sparkly one that I discovered on sale for about $50. Bonne Chance is my new favorite go to label for every day dresses. Whether you’re looking for a cute Mickey Dress or something with a fun and colorful print, this small business has ya covered. And if the usually only $34.99 price tag wasn’t enough, each order comes individually wrapped in gift wrapped and a hand written thank you card! Like it’s literally you’re birthday and you knew just what you wanted! So stay tuned for more fun finds dear reader! And in the meantime please keep in mind the key to making these colorful looks is making sure you have the most fun putting them together! The more imagination the better!

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So my beloved Olivia enjoyed this shoot more than I did. Hidden in one of the caves of Salvation Mountain is a bowl of dog food and a dish of water for visiting dogs. And if that wasn’t enough Olivia decided she was going to find solace from the desert heat under the shade of a tent set up. There was a woman sitting under the tent when Olivia went and took a seat right next to her. The woman said “she knows who the dog mom of the desert is.” Little did I know, and she was quick to inform me that she really is the dog mom of the desert! She takes in all the abandoned dogs that get dumped in the desert and is committed to finding homes for them. Talk about heart warming! She is a registered Non-Profit and advised she does benefit from donations made at Petco. 

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Special shout out to Audi of Temecula who helped me make this trip possible with their “courtesy vehicle” while my precious TT was getting serviced. You will never find better service than the team at this Audi! 

If You Build It Pink, I Will Come

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Top and Sunnies: Ebay Skirt: H&M

This past week has been so magical. First, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers, Chrisa Sparkles at Disneyland. If you’re not familiar with her she is like a real life Disney Rainbow Princess and an inspiration for all us other bloggers to push boundaries and never shy away from expressing your true self with fashion.

Alas, today I finally committed to sitting 4 hours in Friday afternoon traffic to experience one of LA’s pinkest instillations. “Le Refuge” by Marc Ange. Perfectly nestled along the pink and green color palette of the Beverly Hills Hotel, currently sits the beautiful pink cabana. Naturally, these pink oasis’ have a tendency to unleash my inner Barbie girl in full force! And this pink paradise was not exception as I went full fabulous pink force. One of the hotel patrons even sang the Barbie Girl song as I passed her in the hallway. Originally, I fell in love with the Wildfox version of this top but alas it sold out before I even realized it was a thing. (Shocking, I know.) Alas, I found an inspired version on Ebay for only $12! Even better than the original which cost roughly $50! Ebay has been a shocking go to destination for bargain deal and one of a kind vintage finds!

Le Refuge can be found in the citrus garden of the Beverly Hills Hotel and is only on display until August 23rd! If you make the trip I strongly recommend the Polo Lounge! And ask for Paul, he’s literally the best!

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A Place So Nice I Had to Stop By Twice

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Outfit Details: Dress– ASOS Shoes– I honestly don’t remember Purse– Etsy Earrings– Tarina Tarantino Sunnies– Ebay 

I scream you scream we all scream for Ice Cream! So lesson learned after I went with my best friend for our birthdays back in May. A camera with a lens that focuses on detail is a must when going to the Museum of Ice Cream. The lighting in this place is challenging to capture all the magic with just an IPhone even with the help of A Color Story.

I know tickets are ridiculously hard to get if you’re not waiting by at least three devices connected to WiFi, but if the opportunity presents itself it’s totally worth the stress of trying to get tickets. The museum that seems like it stemmed from the imagination of Willy Wonka himself is not big, but it’s just enough brightly colored, sweet goodness to provide at least an hour of magical memories. From the sprinkle pool (of which you can find pictures on my Instagram Just_Jess_Fashion) to giant gummy bears, it is pure imagination around every corner.

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So what does one wear when going to that somewhere over the rainbow? Honestly, anything! Last time I wore a perfect pastel tulle skirt that I will re-work into a mermaid bound for a Disney trip in the near future. But again, the lighting with just an Iphone did not work as well as I had hoped so I felt like I kind of just blended in to my surroundings with all the sherbert fabulousness of my pastel skirt. This time, I figured I would be inspired by a blank canvas and stick with a white dress. Not just any white dress of course. I mean hello! The Museum of freaking Ice Cream has a minimum fabulousness requirement and this dress from Asos with bow detail in the front was exactly enough fabulousness to get me through the door. I was beyond thrilled with how the perfectly saturated colors on the walls matched my ensemble. And of course, how could I resist bringing my new favorite heart shaped sunglasses to experience the fun?

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Some friendly tips if you plan on experiencing the magic for yourself:

  • Take your time! The museum doesn’t have very many rules but one is that once you leave a room you can’t go back. Someone was saying it looked like I had the museum all to myself this round, and the trick was just waiting long enough for a crowd to pass. Trust me, you’ll want to savor every sweet moment!
  • If you have a camera with any type of professional lens. Bring it! A cell phone just doesn’t do the brightness of the colors justice.
  • The samples for the most part are…ok. Ya, I was a little disappointed about this too but I did love the ice cream pancakes at the end!
  • The sprinkle pool is limited by time, so do your research and practice your selfies a head of time. The first time I went it was 3 minutes…now it seems to be about 4 or 5. It goes by fast so make every second count!

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Modern Day Princess

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Top: Hot Topic Skirt: Helmut Lang Bag: Kate Spade Sunnies: Dolce and Gabbana                     Shoes: Nordstrom Rack 

So as of late, I have really started to embrace my fashion roots. You know the kind that include plastic, sparkles, lots of pink, frilly dresses and yes Disney. Lots of Disney. So it should be no surprise that first stop on the Disney wardrobe train was Hot Topic. Now I was raised to believe Hot Topic is strictly for Marilyn Manson groupies or religious fans of the Craft. Like no joke, growing up I was not allowed to step foot in Hot Topic. Well, I was also not allowed to wear black.

Before my dear mother starts rolling in her grave, I partnered with my local Hot Topic to fulfill my Disney styling needs. And she’d be happy to know I don’t even think they carry Marilyn Manson pieces anymore. Music is still super loud though. Alas, as much as I love paying homage to my favorite Disney princess or any other Disney character for that matter in frilly dresses, and trust me I love Disney Bounding I thought I would pay homage to one of my favorite princess’ in a more modern way.

So I traded the traditional bright colors and frills today for an edgier ensemble. And I truly believe edgier captures the more adventurous spirit of Ariel. After all she was the one to defy her father and give up her voice all in the name of love. Which is why I had to accent this outfit with a heart bag. Ariel once said, “I don’t understand how a world that makes such wonderful things, can be so bad.” I feel like this is exactly what I should have said to my mom growing up, as this is exactly the misconception from Hot Topic. Who’d have ever thought I would have gotten princess inspiration from a store overshadowed by goth roots?

 

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