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POOL PARTY COVER-UPS UNDER $100

May 9, 2017

I know all my friends down in Charleston and Pawleys have been in swimsuit season for a while now but for the rest of us the season is just about to kick off.  I am so ready!



L*SPACE DRESS IN BLUE || COLD SHOULDER POM POM || CROSS BACK DRESS IN WATERMELON || LIGHT BLUE DRAPE MAXI || WHITE OFF THE SHOULDER || ONE SHOULDER || SEABREEZE DRESS || STRIPE SARONG || STRAW TOTE || BLACK & WHITE STRIPE SARONG || SUN MAXI (also love it in light in pink)|| MINI ABAYA DRESS || BOHO TASSEL || TASSEL BACK DRESS || SUNTIDE MINI DRESS || HAWAII MINI DRESS || HAWAII HOLTER MINI DRESS || POM POM SANDALS || STRAW CLUTCH || EARRINGS

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GIFTS FOR MOM

May 8, 2017

As always, I'm so amazed by your empathy and understanding when I share such personal things.  I was blown away by the comments and messages and shares regarding my last post.  Obviously, food allergies and asthma are just a tiny part of our full lives but they have the ability to come out with a bang at any time.  Relentless management must remain tightly woven into every moment of our days.

Thank you, for taking the time to get to know life with food allergies and asthma a little better.

_____________________________________________________________________________

But onto much happier news, Mothers Day is coming up and it also happens to be my Grandmother's 90th Birthday! We're going to brunch that morning and then to a little party for her that afternoon. 



TORY BURCH FLIP FLOPS || SCALLOP TOTE || LILLY PULITZER LACQUER BOX || KATE SPADE LEMON RECIPE BOOK || YOU'RE THE BEST EVER TRINKET TRAY || CRAVINGS COOKBOOK || KATE SPADE DOTTED TEA KETTLE || KATE SPADE NAVY NAPKINS || STRAW SUN HAT || POM POM EARRINGS (look for less) || SERENA & LILY TASSEL STRIPE TOWEL || SAHARA TOTE || COVER UP || BEACH RADIO || TEIL DUNCAN ART PRINT || HEXAGON WINE HOLDER || BEAUTYCOUNTER PERFECTLY PINK GIFT SET || OFF THE SHOULDER TOP || INITIAL NECKLACE (look for less) || PINK TASSEL EARRINGS ||




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What does an allergy attack look like.

May 2, 2017

"Make sure you're sharing from your scars, not your open wounds."

I need to talk about the two times in less than two weeks my son was transferred by ambulance-a Critical Care Transfer Unit-from one emergency room to second larger hospital and admitted to the ICU.  I know this could have been written better but sometimes done is better than none.

The first episode was from a near-fatal asthma attack (Status Asthmaticus) and I can talk about this one a bit easier because I can blame others and point fingers and be the sole hero of the story.  I can wash my hands of the blame.  Who can I blame?  The kid who brought strep to school; the pediatrician for missing something--a wheeze, an early sign of strep despite a negative rapid culture; the inventor of the rapid strep test for giving false hope to sick patients, a previous ED doctor who treated him without oxygen when his oxygen saturation levels dipped below 90 stating she felt it was fine because he was laying down and thus giving me a false measure for future attacks; the pulmonologist for not having him on a high enough dose of his maintenance drugs.  See?  Not my fault.  But of course, I carry the weight of it all.  I'll share more on this story later this week. 

The second episode was anaphylaxis from a food allergy and I am both the hero and the villain of the story; something I'm not sure I will ever be able to fully forgive myself for.  It was my fault---he would never have tried a bite of something new without my okay.  I handed it right to him and told him to eat it.  Of course it was an accident, of course.  But I know it could happen again and it might be my fault again.  That's a strange spot to be in for a mother and where most of my nightmares and anxiety stem from. 


So that's where I'll start.

It was an unusually warm and sunny February day and Tagg had just finished his last round of meds from a recent hospital stay for asthma, an ICU stay in fact, and I was itching to get us all out of the house.  Somewhere along the way, I had promised the kids a trip to toys r us.  Most likely a bribe for reaching the end of that big bottle of prednasolone.  I was feeling both generous and beat down and the kids each picked out a big set--screw the blind bags.  Tagg a Disney Cars raceway and Wells something shopkins.  It sounds like a pretty cut and dry decision but anyone who has ever been in a big toy store alone with a five year old boy and six year old girl knows that there was nothing quick or logistically easy about it.  By the time we left it was just after noon on a Sunday afternoon and we headed into the grocery store during one of the busiest shopping times of the week.  It was bustling with post-Church meanderers--the ones that travel in groups of four or five headed up by a mom trying to get her shit done and a husband and multiple children too big to ride in the cart looking bored and blocking the aisles at every turn.  As if navigating a crowded store with my own two children wasn't stressful enough we were at a newly opened grocery store and I hadn't anticipated the samples.  Enter sad defeated face emoji. My daughter, giddy over the stands overflowing with little bites literally at every turn scattered about throughout the store running around like she was on a scavenger hunt and my son in tears because he didn't get to try anything--he's allergic--and me extra stressed that food was literally all over the hands of everyone at the store.  Little trace smudges of poison lurked at every turn.  "Oh come on mom, it's just a cookie" "doesn't he like yogurt-kids love this yogurt" "who wants a treat" --the background music.

I stopped to grab some kind bars for my husband when a woman standing next to me said, "if you like those you'll love ours.  Want to try one?  Kids love them and we have a lot less ingredients in our bars."  No, thank you.  "I want to try one!" chimed in my daughter as she grabbed one off the napkin.  "What about your son?" she said.  I explained his food allergy and braced myself for the typical startled face mixed with pity we are usually met with, but was instead surprised with her words: "I have food allergies too.  That's why I started this company.  I'm actually the founder.  I wanted to create something safe that I could eat with as few ingredients as possible.  Just organic, natural, food.  Blah Blah Blaaaah Blaahmp Whomp whomp whomp."  I can't remember everything she said in our three minute exchange except that something made me think it was safe for Tagg.  His allergies were to dairy, egg, and peanut.  Tree Nuts were safe for him.  He's had almond milk before.  I handed him a bite sized piece of a granola style bar containing cashew butter and it may well be the single worst mistake I've made yet.  **We later learned that he does in fact have an allergy to tree nuts and that his IgE levels for cashew are extremely elevated.**

"My tongue feels funny."  I can't explain the absolute dread and fear that flooded me at that moment.  The best way I can describe it is to imagine putting your child on a roller coaster and just as it's about to head downhill and turn upside down they whisper that they forgot to put on their seat belt and you're standing 100 feet below on the ground.  Helpless.  They could be absolutely totally fine or the bottom could fall out. 

My heart is racing and my head filling all at once with conflicting messages.  He's fine.  Don't over react.  He needs to drink some water.  He's not okay.  This is it.  You know what to do.  He needs the epi-pen.  We need to leave.  He's fine.  It probably just went down the wrong way.  Get him some water.  It was just a bite-a lick really.  He's not allergic to cashews.  He's not allergic to tree nuts.  He's not okay.  There is fear in his eyes.  He's afraid.  He needs a hospital.  An ambulance.  Not again.  This can not be happening again.  It's happening again.  I'm paranoid.  Overreacting.  Irrational.  He's fine.  We go to the car.  He's not fine.  He's struggling to breathe, speak.  He's wheezing.  Throwing up.  I think of Oakley Debbs.  Oh God.  Please God.  Oh God.

I set him down in his car seat and get the epi-pen from my purse.  It's in the front seat.  In my purse.  I already set my purse up front.  When did I do that?  How did we get here.  We're in the parking lot.  I pull the top off the shot and throw my weight along with the needle into his thigh.  Wells is screaming.  Tagg is screaming.  I'm not screaming.  I have no words to scream.  I'm still thinking of Oakley Debbs.  I call 911--something I do often in my dreams.  I'm driving towards the closest hospital.  We're already out of the parking lot.  911 tells me to pull over but I don't.  We're on the border between two counties and I know when she finds out where I am she'll transfer me to the next county over.  An ambulance hasn't even been dispatched yet.  I know we can be there fast.  Faster than waiting on an ambulance.  I have the response times memorized.  I hang up.  I ask Wells to read me Tagg's numbers.  He's wearing his pulse-oximeter.  I don't remember slipping it on his finger.  But it's on there all the same.  His heart is racing.  911 calls back--something they do if you hang up on them.  This time it's the dispatcher from the county we're now in.  I tell her what happened and where I am headed.  She agrees.  Keep going-don't pull over.  She offers to stay on the phone with me until I arrive but instead I call my husband and ask him to meet us there.  I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.  I'm so so sorry.  He tells me not to apologize.  I did the right thing.  I gave him the epi-pen like I should.  It's not my fault.  It is my fault.  Tagg is saying that he doesn't feel so well.  He begs me not to take him to the hospital.  He's so scared.  I lie and say we're not going to the hospital, just to the doctor to get a check up.  I need him to stay calm.  I go around a line of 8 or more cars waiting to make a left turn onto the highway hoping my flashing lights will excuse my erratic behavior and poor driving etiquette.  Moments later as I turn off our exit he knows I'm lying.  I pray.

I pull up under the EMERGENCY awning and grab Tagg in my arms.  I tell Wells to follow behind.  The key is in the ignition.  The car is still on.  The doors are all open.  I must have put in in park because it hasn't rolled away but I can't even remember leaving the store.  I carry him into the lobby.   "He's having a severe allergy attack.  I gave him the epi.  His numbers are low and he needs oxygen" The words slip out of my mouth calm and steady and strong, but in my brain all I hear is a whisper, desperate and pained, "I did this to him.  It's my fault.  He's going to die and it's my fault."  I think of Oakley Debbs again.  I think of all the other children who have died from anaphylaxis.  He's on a oxygen and hooked up to an IV pumping fluids and drugs into his little body.  He's loosing consciousness.  No one is moving fast enough.  They don't move fast like you see on TV.  I go over his history.  Meds, allergies, his recent ICU stay, his previous reactions, hospitalizations.  He stirs and throws up again.  Wells complains of the smell from the furthest corner of the room where she is sitting on the counter.  She's scared.  She shouldn't be here.  None of us should be here.  The doctor comes back in the room and we discuss having him transferred.  She let's me know she's already contacted the other  hospital and they're on their way. I knew that was going to be happen.  We've been here before.  She assured me this was just a precaution--because of his history with asthma--that he was being admitted to the pediatric floor--just a precaution.


______________________

You see, there are only ever three scenarios you read about.  Not that others don't exist but the reality is many of us don't hear about them.

1. A slight reaction that requires benedryl and a watchful eye.
2. A severe reaction that requires a shot of epinephrine and four hours in the Emergency Dept.
3. A severe reaction that tragically ends in death after a delay of administering epinephrine.

We experienced a fourth scenario, a very severe near death reaction that required intensive care despite immediate use of epinephrine.

Here in lies the crux of our story.  It's interesting that I'm noticing that even now as I write my words above have gotten choppy and quick; as though my brain can only handle drudging up tiny bits of the event a time.  And now I'm stalling.  My sentences are getting longer.  My brain has literally forced me to take a break before going on with the story.  Gah, our brains are incredible.  Protecting you through distraction, procrastination, and blocking things out altogether.  But I know I need to face this memory in order to move forward and heal. 
______________________

Matthew arrives to pick up Wells.  I'm telling jokes and taking pictures and texting my mom.  Studying the charts on the walls.  Sneaking Tagg extra stuffed animals from the cheer up bin.  Anything to keep my mind off what is happening.  As they load him in the back of the ambulance I take his picture and point out the awesome buttons and knobs and levers.  I complain dramatically to him that it's not fair he gets to ride in the back in the fun part and I get stuck up front in the boring part...again.  I tell him it smells like gas and to try not to stink up the place so much.  I ask him if he thinks the driver is really a ninja.  I pull out every razzle dazzle tool in my kit to try to calm my five year old relying on his little boy imagination to find the light in the dark situation.

This time I sneak back to my car and follow behind the ambulance rather than riding up front.  I learned my lesson last time that discharge doesn't always come at a convenient time and it's nice to have your own car when you get to leave.  I prayed the whole way there that we would both get to leave in my car.


We pulled up to the Emergency Department side entrance and my mom and brother were waiting on us.  Tagg was wheeled out of the back of the ambulance and straight up to the pediatric floor.  He looked fine.  Thank god.  Thank you, god.  He's okay.  I was suddenly embarrassed that I'd called my mom and left her waiting at the hospital for a false alarm.  My brother had delayed his five hour drive home to check on us. I told them to leave but they didn't.  I sent my brother down to the car to get Tagg's toy so he could build it for him.  It seemed slightly serendipitous that we had a brand new distraction just waiting to be unwrapped.  See, this isn't as bad as it could be.  I'm prepared.

Tagg begins to itch.  His oxygen saturation level is steady at 92-94 despite being on oxygen.  His pulse and heart rate aren't in normal range but they're not quite freaking me out either.  I've studied these numbers and I know what to watch for.  The nurse keeps telling him to stop scratching.  It annoys me that she's annoyed.  I mention his numbers as my eyes remain on his vitals and question if he needs something more.  I'm not a nurse.  I'm not a doctor.  I'm so very far from a medical professional and I don't know what he needs but I know he needs something more..  He's coughing again.  Wheezing.  And itching.  His numbers are moving in the wrong direction.  His blood pressure is dropping.  I'm laying in the bed with him careful not to squeeze.  Careful to remain calm and steady for him.  My mom keeps going to the hallway.  I'm so thankful my she and brother are there.

A few new nurses and a doctor (student) come in and everyone keeps question his heart rate.  He's no longer playing with his toy.  He's having a hard time talking or staying awake.  We look and his entire body is covered in hives.  I tell them he needs another shot of epinephrine.  That sometimes one isn't enough. I mumble on about biphasic reactions.  There are now several nurses in the room and I'm standing in the corner watching.  Helpless.  Terrified.  A nurse gives him a second shot of epinephrine in his arm.  I have no clue the drugs being administered by IV.  He's still on oxygen.  We're somehow left alone in the room for a minute.  Or maybe we're not.  I think his nurse is still in the room at this point but I'm no longer confidant she is adequately handling the situation.  Tagg is no longer coughing or visibly wheezing but that somehow seems worse.  He begins foaming at the mouth and loosing consciousness.  He's pale.  So pale.  I run to the nurse station to relay this information and everyone behind the counter runs in.  The nurse who looked like the big boss of the others asked her staff why she wasn't notified a nut allergy was on the floor.  They move fast like you see on TV.

I'm ushered out of the room by an angel nurse who hugs me and lets me cry.  She tells me he's going to be okay and that she's praying for him.  I've seen enough Greys Anatomy to know it's never good when they make you leave the room.  My mom brings me my phone and says I need to call Matthew.  I know she's right.  He needs to come.  Now.  I had to give him the opportunity to come say goodbye to his son. 

A doctor finds me and tells me they're moving him to the ICU.  What they don't tell me is that he's in Cardiovascular Collapse--Cardiac Arrest brought on by progressive respiratory failure and shock.  The foaming of the mouth is a seizure-like symptom brought on by a lack of oxygen getting to his organs.  His lungs were no longer moving air.  His blood vessels were collapsing.  There is more but it's all information I learned after the fact and none of it was important in the moment.  The only important thing is that he survived.

He survived.  
 For my fellow food allergy mamas, this is a story with the most happiest of happy endings.  I want this story to inspire you to be courageous and diligent and an advocate.  To trust your gut and block out the rest.  I know, I know, it's your worst nightmare.  It's my worst nightmare too.  You're not alone.  

For everyone else, I hope this gives you a tiny glimpse into a world you may not fully understand.  To have less contempt and more empathy when you see a *no nuts* line item on the bottom of the class list. In addition to the constant worry of stranger danger, and bullying, and broken bones, this constant fear is the undercurrent of our motherhood. 


 I certainly hope that I have shared our story from place of healing and as an act of service to everyone suffering from life threatening food allergies and to the mama's that work diligently and constantly to keep their loved ones safe.  I can't imagine going through an emergency such as this and not needing outside help.  There is much to be done to get you and your child mentally well after a traumatic injury or illness.  Never be afraid of reaching out.
______________________

Resources:
Food Allergy Action Plan
Epinephrine Access Information
Anaphylaxis Signs and Symptoms
After the Injury help for the mental well being of children and caregivers following hospitalizations
After the Injury when to get outside help


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Give Me All The Summer Dresses!!!!

March 27, 2017

GIVE ME ALL THE SUMMER DRESSES!!!!

I had the most fun last night going through the new dress sections of several of my favorite stores!  I actually had to cut myself off because this post was getting too long already :)

I can't wait to come back through tonight and start outfit planning with my top picks.  Lots of lace up sandals and colorful tassel earrings are in my future!





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Kids Summer Picks

March 7, 2017

KIDS SUMMER PICKS

Lots of fun things for the kids!  I swear all my money goes to outfitting my two.  It's just so hard to splurge on myself when they are literally outgrowing their clothes and it's so fun to shop for them!  As usual, I love all the stripes and bright colors for easy mixing and matching. 







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SPRING BREAK!!!! (Swim Shop)

March 6, 2017


Well, it's officially Spring Break in our house. We have a few upcoming trips planned this summer and so I can think about are swimsuits and cover-ups!  I'm ready to upgrade my swim wardrobe so I've rounded up all my favorites here in one place.  I wish it could all magically appear in my closet!

















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Life Lately

February 28, 2017

  Y'all.  I need to write about my February.  I need to write about watching my baby boy grasping for air twice in two weeks and placing him in the literal hands of medical staff and God.  Twice.  I need to talk about how that affects me and my husband differently and at different times.  And how it affects our daughter who's just six and said baby boy who's just turned five and knows what's going on.  I need to fill you in on my PTSD and how my anxiety feels more like a strong under-toe pulling me down and less like waves I can ride out.

 I need to share our experience with asthma and status asthmaticus.  I need to write about our story with life-threatening food allergies and how it doesn't always end with a shot of epinephrine and fours hours in the ER but it also doesn't always end in death.  I need to tell you about his guardian angel Oakley Debbs who was there with us in the parking lot of Wegman's as I grabbed the epi-pen and again in a hospital room at St. Mary's when my son's body was failing and I told the nursing staff that one epi-pen may not have been enough and his body could still shut down completely and they listened and agreed and quickly transferred him down to ICU.


 I want to tell you about my friends who prayed for us.  They prayed so hard.  And I want to tell you about the ones who showed up with coffee and little gifts and treats for our son and with wine and an amazing dinner for me and my husband.  I can't even begin to explain how good non-hospital coffee tastes.  It taught me how important it is to be the person who just shows up.


And I want to talk about shoes and clothes and spring break plans and recipes I've pinned that I'll probably never make. because I've realized that's my measure of me.  It's not deep and it's not life-changing and there are a million better uses of my time and brain power but it's how I know that I'm getting myself back.  Man, I want myself back.  I want to go online today and waste an hour looking at swimsuits and dresses on Nordstrom and coffee tables on Wayfair and art prints on Minted.  I love that shit.  I want so badly to care about that again.  

Our boy is being seen at the Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Clinic at Boston Children's Hospital in a few weeks.  It's terrifying to know that we might open up pandora's box but it also scares me to know that they'll probably have no more answers than our doctors here in Richmond have for us.  I know in a few days I'll care more about planning cute outfits to pack for our upcoming trip to Boston and less about why we need to fly there in the first place.  I'll focus on my travel day outfit and less on the actual first flight I'll take alone with my allergy kid.  I'll download movies to the ipad and action plans for my wallet.  Then I'll order us both a new outfit so we'll be the best dressed pair on the flight.  That's how I cope :)

____________________________________________________________________ 

I also want to make sure I let you know about the amazing deal at Beautycounter that ends today.  

Score a FREE Rejuvenating Eye Cream + FREE Lip Conditioner with your purchase of $150.  And if you become a Band of Beauty Member you can also receive a FREE Soothing Face Oil and FREE SHIPPING + $22.50 in store credit for your next purchase. 

That's just $179 (but a $353.45 value)

beautycounter.com/juliaryan

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Finding my Tribe

February 6, 2017

I remember sitting on my front porch a few years ago while my kids were really little, I had just finished reading The Red Tent, and I felt so envious of the women in the story.  I was jealous of their shared purpose and bond.  Their automatic entrance into the tribe of womanhood; passing along stories and chores and time with each other and their daughters.  The story focused on Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister to Joseph, from the bible stories you're probably familiar with.  This book also touched upon the life of her mother, Leah and her sister wives who shared all of the above, plus a husband.  The author didn't sweep over the jealousy and hurt that came with such a situation,  but, as I sat there alone on my porch I couldn't help but think that their feelings of jealousy and inadequacy were surely less painful than my current state of loneliness.  Sitting alone in the driveway of my beautiful air-conditioned suburban house watching my two beautiful well-dressed children play while supper was baking in the oven and my husband was on his way home from work I was supremely jealous of a tribe of biblical sister-wives.  What the heck.  I sure as hell didn't want to share my kitchen much less my husband with other women but I envied their closeness and I wasn't sure how to reconcile that.


When my oldest was a baby I was automatically invited into playgroup.  For seven months each Tuesday or so we went to someone's family room and set our babies down on blankets and drank coffee.  We brought playpens to friends houses for dinner and planned porch happy hours while the babies slept.  We all lived in the same small town and had babies the same age.  It was fun.  It was easy.  When we moved to Richmond I reconnected with some old friends and once again we met up on Tuesdays.  A collection of moms with now toddlers all the same age showed up at the designated playground to let our wobbly children swing and slide in the company of others.  We brought snacks and growing bellies and newborns and portable plastic potties in our trunks.  When my two grew a bit bigger I was gifted the freedom of two and a half hours twice a week in the form of preschool drop off.  It became harder to plan playdates as we tried to fit varying preschool days, (are you a MWF, TuWTh or a TuTh?), unpredictable nap schedules, and clean bills of health into schedules that never seemed to connect.  As the two days turned into four and then five I found myself with more free time but still unable to get enough done.  I was thankful for those kid free mornings but I was also lonely.


I watched what seemed like everyone on social media "find their tribe" so why hadn't I found mine?  I was navigating the growing pains that come with aging out of the mommy groups but not yet settled into in the childhood teams of PTA or Little League or Swim team.  Some women bounce right from one to the next but I had trouble meshing "me" with "mommy" so I was never sure if we were here for the kids or for each other.  Maybe it was both all along and I'm the one who was just too tired or unsure to get that.  Maybe meeting for drinks in restaurants would have helped push us past feeding times in sandboxes. 

Why was it that I was doing all the right things: scheduling playdates, going on walks in the neighborhood, attending preschool functions, but I still felt lonely?  No doubt it was me.  I remember an episode of Sex and the City where they likened men ready for marriage to cabs driving around with their green light on.  If a man had on his red light it didn't matter how perfect you were together, a long term relationship just wasn't going to happen with him.  But the next day, his green light switches on and poof he's engaged six months later to a girl just like yourself.


I think in order for me to turn on my green light I had to start making friends for me not for my kids.  And it doesn't have to be some "tribe" to be my people.  Damn, I wish I had figured this out sooner.  Or maybe I figured it out just when I really needed to. 


Like with any of my ramblings, I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here (do I ever really have a point? Probably not.) but I feel like there is something in my words that you might need to hear this morning.  That being lonely is okay.  That doing something about it is better.  That it's okay if your whole entire world is centered around your kids but it's also okay if it's not.  That maybe you don't have to find your "tribe" but rather just a few good friends who show up.

Maybe I should stop waiting to meet this fictitious group of amazing women just sitting around waiting on me to show up.  My tribe doesn't have to come to me or make logistical sense or send me an invitation.  Maybe my tribe is who I gather together.

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Favorite Tops Under $100

February 3, 2017

Back to regularly scheduled posting!  I've got warmer temps and spring break trips on my brain so I've rounded up some of my favorite tops and dresses for under $100 for you today! I'm loving all the off the shoulder, scallops, and ruffles!  And of course, my favorite nautical color scheme blue and white.  Ahh, I wish these would all magically appear in my closet.  For real.


one || two || three || four || five || six || seven || eight || nine || ten || eleven || twelve || thirteen || fourteen || fifteen || sixteen ||  seventeen || eighteen







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Beautycounter Richmond Virginia

February 2, 2017


I know I've been talking about beautycounter a ton lately but it's because I'm so excited about it!  I'll be the first to admit I looked at all of these companies with a very skeptical eye for years.  I assumed that if it was legit then it would be sold at a brick and mortar store.  And then I found out that it was.  First a pop-up shop on Nantucket, partnerships with Serena &amp, Lily, J.Crew, GOOP, and Target; all places I already know and trust.  If they vetted and believe in this brand then it was worth me investigating for myself.  And the more I looked into it the more amazed I was with the company culture and the products.

There is a reason you are seeing a rise in this type of business. People want and need options.  More and more families are wanting or needing to find new and creative ways to add income to their monthly budgets without adding in additional childcare costs.  Not surprisingly, women are finding ways to meet the immediate needs of their families like new tennis shoes or matching outfits for holidays or cell phone bills and school tuition, growing food and medical and housing costs, or achieving long term financial goals like college tuition and full retirement accounts. 


Beautycounter believes that the product and the message is best told friend to friend and realized the future of sales is in convenience and direct access.  People want to go online to find out what's good and then order it.  That order might come at 3am while you're nursing or on your lunch break at the office or while you sit in carpool lines.  It's bringing the products to you in a way that works around your needs and schedule.  You know, like amazon prime or Nordstrom online have mastered and companies like Blockbuster failed to embrace.
 


I also happen to have the most incredible team of all time (#teamawesome) and we're hosting an event in Richmond this Monday, February 6th at East Coast Provisions in Carytown.  I'd love for you to join us.  There is zero pressure or commitment and it's not a sales event.  It's just a great chance to hang out with a great group of women and have some drinks on us.  We'll have products and information on hand if you want to sample anything and we'll be talking about work, and families, and husbands, and the damn weather and our favorite face cream to look younger and all the other normal things women talk about when they get together.  We'd love to have you.
Beautycounter is more than a company, we're a movement for making the beauty industry better. We do that with valuable information, safer products, and your help. Interested in learning more about how to get involved? I'm also more than happy to chat with you individually about the mission, the products or the business opportunity.  You certainly don't need to be local to Richmond to join my team.  In fact, right now we represent Richmond, Nashville, Philadelphia, Miami and as of yesterday Newport, RI (welcome Erica!)


And we're on the road!  Let me know if you're interested in attending the event in Richmond or in one of these cities and I'll get you added to the list! 

February 11-Jacksonville, FL
February 11-Columbus, OH
February 25-Toronto, ON
February 25-San Antonio, TX
February 25-Pittsburgh, PA
February 25-Grand Rapids, MI
March 4-Cincinnati, OH
March 4- Calgary, AB
March 18-Los Angeles, CA
March 18- Framingham, MA
March 25-Charlotte, NC

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February

February 1, 2017

Dang it, I missed January again.  It's the official month to kick start new habits and work in fresh new ideas and every year I seem to slip away from the blog this time of year.  I think it's because I'm actually busy doing.  Cleaning out closets and organizing new toys.  Getting back into a routine.  And breathing.  January is my cleanse month to step back a little bit and figure out what is working and what isn't in my life.  To reevaluate priorities and time management.  This month has been full but I'm glad it's over.  February is my new fresh start.

Lots of illness.  I spent about four weeks straight on some sort of antibiotic or another.  Strep throat-bronchitis-sinus infection-plueritis.  Y'all.  That sucked.  My girl was battling some yucky virus followed by my sweet boy with strep throat, sinus issues and a stint in the PICU last week.  More on that later; it deserves it's own post.  We lost my husband's mentor and former boss to cancer a few weeks ago and it's hit him really hard.  But true to the circle of life, a friend had a baby.  Babies are the freaking best and I can't wait until we're all totally healthy in my house so I can go snuggle that little itty-bitty.

So I'm doing awesome and awful all at the same time and I'm learning to love that mix.  Because it means I'm here and I'm showing up the best way I can for the best things I can think of in the best ways I know how.


 Work and Work.  I'm so thankful for this one.  Real Estate has taken a front seat priority in 2017 with beautycounter in second place and the blog delegated to third.  The opportunity to juggle these in with my home life and the blog is a huge blessings and I am so thankful for that.  You might be curious how I'm balancing it all professionally.  I'm going to try to write a real post on that.  I'm not doing it perfectly but I'm happy to touch on how I make it work.  Mostly I compartmentalize rather than multi-task so certain things get my full attention at certain times.  The truth is I've had to let the blog take a major back seat in order to prioritize the other two for a while.  After taking care of my family and myself, selling Real Estate is my job and it directly affects others with immediate and lasting impact so it automatically gets the top spot. It's an incredible career and offers me the flexibility to work the hours I want with clients that turn into friends.  I love the project based timeline of events and the immediate end game.  Walking my clients through the process of buying or selling a house is such a high, it's like winning a big game.  But winning isn't everything and I need balance to feel fulfilled.

 So if Real Estate is my job, then Beautycounter is my hobby.  I literally tried it initially because one of my best friends asked me to do it with her for fun.   Much like some women join a gym, or book club, or play tennis together; talking makeup and skin care products over coffee is my jam.  Real Estate is where I get to exercise my competitive muscle and compete against both myself and my colleagues.  But it's a competition ALL THE TIME. While that fulfills my need for success, I wouldn't be happy with just that measure of my worth.  The same reason people have passions and hobbies outside of their career, Beautycounter allows me to maintain my sharp networking and marketing skills while working alongside other women for a common goal. We are working together to better the beauty industry for our children so that one day they won't have to read labels in the personal care products they buy.  It's a hobby that pays me to make it a part of my life instead of the other way around.  Plus, I get to work with my friends to give other women a chance at the same job flexibility and potential monetary contribution to their families that I have been afforded. Oh, and we have Bono.  (Bono and his wife are investors in the company).
Now the blog.  My wonderfully perfectly imperfect space.  It's neither work nor a hobby but something in between.  It may be the ball that has to sit out for a while but it always comes back in to play.  After a break I always miss it and get excited about sharing on here again.  I like that feeling.   I think a little time away can be a good thing and it leaves me ready to come back fresh!


And if you're still here and still up for reading, welcome back!  I hope you're 2017 has been off to a great start.  And if not, let's cheers to #februaryisthenewjanuary with a fresh new month today!

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New Dining Room Chairs

January 24, 2017

 Compensation for this post was provided by Kohl's.  All selections and opinions are my own.

Navy Blue Dining Room Chairs

I'm so excited to share a small update I made to our dining room just before Christmas.  Kohl's contacted me about working with them to showcase their selection of chairs so I went right to the website to check out the occasional chairs and dining chairs in hopes I would find something I loved to replace our old cane chairs in the dining room.  I love the look of fully upholstered chairs and knew that was just what our space was missing. 


My first instinct was to go with a soft grey or white like this one or this one because I love the look of light upholstery. But I also want this room to stand out and stand up against lots of use so I knew I needed to go bolder and darker.  The cream colored seats on our old chairs were so impossible to keep clean.  I'm so glad I took a risk with the color!  I absolutely love the way the azure blue in the Juliette chairs tie in the navy bookshelves, the glass door and all the touches of blue in the adjacent rooms.


The chairs look much lighter in these pictures, but, in person they're a much closer to match to the hale navy built-ins.  I think the fabric catches the light in a way the paint doesn't.  I was provided with a gift card to purchase a chair so that my shopping experience would match what everyone else would get and I could give it a fair review.  I spent about an hour browsing the site before placing my order.  Most of that was hemming and hawing over the color choice.  They arrived in two main pieces plus the four legs in less than a week.  Shopping online was so easy and then my husband was able to put all four together in about 30-45 minutes.  He did use his own tools rather than what was provided in the packaging in order to get a firmer grip on the screws.  The small tool provided was hard to use.


I am so thrilled with the way this room is finally coming together.  It's been really hard for me to find the right balance of casual and formal in this space.  It's the first thing you see when you walk in our house and I'm so excited that it's now a space I love to use and not just a pass through to other rooms!

I've also got a few sales coded for you so you can score a great deal on chairs too!
  • Home Sale - $10 off $50 home purchase with promo code HOME10 1/27-2/5 
  • Kohl's Charge holders - 15% off 1/29-2/1
  • General Public offer - 20% off $75 purchase, 15% off all purchases 2/2-2/5

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies.These affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.

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Winter Sale

January 2, 2017

The Beautycounter Winter Sale has some great deals available so I snagged the purifying charcoal mask and another bottle of the hydrating oil during the first day of the sale so it would get here in time to start the 30-day #BCSpaChallenge.


I absolutely can't live without the hydrating oil and the sale price is better than my consultant price so I signed Matthew up to get the deal on the oil and the $16 lipgloss!  The oil makes my face so velvety smooth; I put it on morning and night and over my makeup for an afternoon pick me up!  BUT, as much as I love the hydrating oil literally every single other person whom I've shared the oils with to try out swears by the Soothing Oil.  Just wanted to put that out there.


At Beautycounter we put the mission of awareness and change in the beauty industry in the forefront.  As consultants we are not trained on how to sell the products but rather we are encouraged to educate and empower women and to help lead the way for changes in Washington.  The products speak for themselves so we use our facetime to talk about the broader issue of safety.  We have to look out for each other and share the truth about what's in the food we eat, the cleaning products we use in our homes and the products we put on our bodies and our children. That being said, when my girlfriend first started talking to me about BC I was intrigued by the company and it's mission and it's pretty packaging and I jumped down the rabbit hole online trying to educate myself as much as possible about it's claims. There are lots of reviews and pictures of models with perfect glowy skin and a host of youtube videos featuring pretty girls teaching you a trick or two about different looks you can create with beautycounter makeup.  But what I wanted to see but couldn't find were good old fashion before and after shots.  Like, okay I'm listening; this face stuff is good for me and what I've been using is bad for me but does it work? 

I decided to put my walk where my talk is and bare my face, my bare face, to give you a little before and after eye candy this morning.   I took a picture of myself before doing a charcoal mask and following up with the hydrating oil and then another picture after to show you just how much my skin improved in less than 20 minutes.  The mask removed toxins and cleaned out my pores and the hydrating oil restored my skin's natural glow.

 First, I washed my face with the Nourishing Cream Cleanser.  Then I applied the Purifying Charcoal Mask and let it dry and sit on my face for about 10 minutes or so.  Then I washed it off with warm water and followed up with the Nourishing Cream Exfoliator.  I gave my face a spritz with the Rosewater Spray (a free gift when I signed my husband up with a band of beauty membership) and then liberally applied the Hydrating Oil all over starting on my forehead and then each of my cheeks and working my way out and down my face.  I finished with a pump of the Nourishing Night Cream because it was bedtime.

BEFORE (Image on the left):  Not bad y'all.  Especially considering I'm 35 and used to bake myself in the sun for a decade.  But you can see freckles and slight wrinkles stretching all across my forehead.  The skin on my forehead and cheeks looks parched and a bit rough and appears to be sagging down just a bit.  I had some blemishes on my chin that are red and angry.  Even my lips look a bit dry.

AFTER (Image on the left):  Not perfect, but dang the lines on my forehead are basically gone.  My freckles are still there but they're lighter and my pores are much smaller and less noticeable.  My cheeks are bit more plump making my face appear lifted and my lips look fuller (from the rehydration of the oil).


You can actually see all the little tiny black dots all over my nose and forehead and chin.  Those are my pores letting the charcoal in to detox and pull out dirt and impurities and toxins.  You can also see in the image on the right how the mask is literally pulling my skin taught as it dries.  Amazing.





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