Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Finding A Dress.

Back in high school, I had always worn hand-me-down gowns to school dances. But when Junior Prom rolled around, my mom agreed to buy me a brand new dress for the occasion! I expected our shopping day to be so fun - I'd finally get to choose the perfect gown for me, rather than settling for one that my cousin had loved. But as we walked through the LA Fashion District for hours, searching countless shops for a flattering dress at an affordable price, I started to get frustrated. It turned out that for me, this was an overwhelming task and surprisingly not fun. Although we left with a gown that I loved, the process of finding it was something I didn't care to go through again and I happily wore hand-me-downs to the remainder of my high school dances.

When it came time to start thinking about wedding dresses, I worried I'd be reliving that prom dress shopping day : disagreeing about what looked good, getting frustrated with what was available in my limited budget, feeling overwhelmed about it instead of enjoying it. But when I casually mentioned to my mom that I'd probably just buy my wedding dress online… she looked at me like I had just run over her puppy. 

So I decided it wouldn't hurt to book an appointment. 

Rather than going into it thinking "I need to find my dress today," it was just a girls afternoon with my mom and my future mother and sister in law. I wasn't going to buy anything, I was just there for fun! I made my appointment at BHLDN since I've long admired their beautiful dress selection, plus since their store is located in Beverly Hills, I knew it would give us plenty of fun places to visit before and after the appointment.

It ended up being a perfect day AND... I bought a dress! Hooray!

We started the afternoon with lunch at Gracias Madre, a vegan Mexican restaurant.

^ sangria with a chocolate covered strawberry inside? yes please!

After lunch, we headed a few blocks over to BHLDN. 

As I chatted with the consultant, my mom, Shelley, and Taryn were all browsing dresses, pulling different styles in my budget that they wanted to see me try on. After we had a few lined up, I headed back into the fitting room and was explaining to the consultant that I probably wouldn't be buying anything today, as she helped me slip into the first dress. She clasped the back and I turned to look in the mirror. 

"Uh oh." I said. It was perfect.

She started laughing and I asked her if people ever actually buy the first dress they try on. She assured me that it does happen. Sometimes it really is that easy! I held my breath as I came around the corner to show the dress to my family and stand in front of the mirror, and when the girls saw it their faces said it all - it was unanimous! :)

I ended up trying on about 5 more dresses just to see different styles, but that first one was the winner. I tried it on a second time at the end and as soon as I had it on I felt totally sure of it once again so we bought it! The consultant brought us cute little cans of champagne (nothing says "laid-back" like champagne in a can, right? ha!) and we took some pictures and celebrated together.

^ one of the lovely contenders, but not the one I chose :)

I'm so glad I decided to put my apprehension aside and make a dress appointment. It was a wonderful experience and I'm thankful that the women I love were able to be there with me for that super easy, super happy, say-yes moment. 

Another great day I'll remember forever.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


I've been in a lot of pain these past few weeks.

And although I've got my eyes on the calendar, waiting for surgery, some days that doesn't make it any easier.

When I wake up feeling well (which doesn't happen often) my instinct is to take advantage and live a little. So often my choices for the day are couch or bed. When the pain eases, there are so many more possibilities. Things that I really miss doing. Simple things : Dancing to my favorite song. Walking at a normal pace. Shopping at a store rather than online. Going out to dinner with friends.

The problem with my "seize the day" attitude is that no good day goes unpunished. No enjoyment of life ends without me curled up somewhere, hurting, trying to decide if it was worth those few minutes or hours of enjoyment to spend the next few days once again deciding between the couch and my bed.

My body punished me for wedding dress shopping. It was a lot of walking and standing, so for the next three days, I could hardly move. I missed work, I missed out on plans I'd had for weeks… I just hurt. And all I could do to not cry was look at the pictures I'd taken during that wonderful afternoon and try to relive it again each day until I felt well enough to participate in life again.

On one of those endo days, I watched the movie Cake. It's about a woman living with chronic pain and how she tries to survive that emotional and physical battle. In one scene, she and a woman from her chronic pain support group discuss a question that had been presented to them at one of their meetings : What would your dream be if you didn't have chronic pain? And one of the answers that was "sickeningly sincere" was a mother who said she dreamed of making her son a birthday cake from scratch.

It's one of those simple things that most people wouldn't think twice about, but for someone with chronic pain, it's a mountain to climb. It's reaching up high and crouching down low to get bowls and utensils and ingredients. It's standing for an extended amount of time. Lifting bags of flour. It's bending over to set the pans into the oven. More standing to frost the cake. It's more physically demanding than it probably seems.

On the 4th of July, I woke up feeling minimal pain and decided I wanted to make a dessert as my contribution to Weston's family barbecue. So I used a simple, gluten-free, cake recipe and spent the morning baking. It was so much fun getting to whip everything together and watch my vision become a delicious reality!

For me, pain is one of those things that can creep up slowly throughout the day, or just appear out of nowhere. But for the rest of the day, I felt well! Weston and I made it to both of the parties we wanted to go to, I sat by the pool, we ate delicious food and everyone enjoyed my cake. :) When it came time for fireworks, we had to walk quite a bit to get to our viewing spot, but I kept assuring my concerned family that I really felt fine to keep walking! After the fireworks, we came home and turned on The Sandlot, to watch while we slowly grew tired enough to sleep.

And that's when it appeared out of nowhere. Worse than any pain I'd had these past few weeks.

It made me sick. I sat in the bathtub at 1:00 am, crying. I crawled into bed with painkillers on my nightstand once again, and a heating pad clutched against my stomach. And I paid the price for my baking and my fun and my walking and my holiday for the rest of the night.

And friends - I'm so tired. I feel like I've been fighting an uphill battle for years. And don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the good days and the things that I'm able to do for those hours that I feel well, but I can't imagine always having to pay the price every time I try to live my life.

So I keep praying. I keep praying that this surgery will be the thing I've been waiting for. The answer to all of my cries to God for help and comfort and healing. The final chapter in this painful season of my life that has lasted far too long.

I'm just really ready to fully live again.
One month to go.

Please, Lord, let this fix me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DIY Save the Dates.

For years, Weston and I said that when we were ready to get married we'd just elope. Between my pain being so unpredictable, the cost of a wedding, and the stress typically involved… a big event has never been a priority for us. But now that the time is here, out of consideration for our parents, we've decided to have a very intimate, elopement-style ceremony with just our immediate families in attendance and a week later, we are throwing a small, backyard reception so we can celebrate with our extended family and a few close friends.

Having two smaller, simpler events is a much more realistic option for me, health-wise, as opposed to cramming everything into one long, exhausting day. (Although I hope to be feeling much better by then, we just can't plan on it yet.) And as the plans come along, Weston and I are having a lot of fun with the details - trying to make sure everything will be reflective of us and true to our individual styles.

So far, this seems like the perfect compromise for us and our families.

After finalizing those decisions fairly quickly, since we were already at the 6 month mark to our reception, one of our first projects was to send out Save the Dates, which we decided to make ourselves! Although having a professional make them would have been quicker and easier... we saved a bit of money, we had a lot of fun, and I know I will always fondly remember those late night DIY sessions, slaving over the hot glue gun together! ;)

Here's how they turned out:

Our save the dates were a free printable that we found on Pinterest, filled in, and backed with gray card stock. The font and wreath graphic for the 'A' were also free downloads that we found online. We took the photo strip pictures using self-timer and after Weston and I agreed on our favorites, I pieced them together using this tutorial.

So there they are! Nice and simple. :)
On to the next little project...

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Favorite Little Trip.

This year, just like last, I took a week off of work after my little loves graduated so that I could enjoy some free time before I head back to the preschool for summer session. Thankfully, Weston and I were able to sneak in our annual trip to Palm Springs before endo realized I was having too much fun and immediately had to shut the party down on Sunday night.

We stayed at Avanti which is our all-time favorite hotel but we had a lot of fun exploring The Parker too! It's mid-century style made me feel like we had stepped right into an episode of Mad Men. We got to try out some gluten-free pizza at Birba, downed some margaritas at El Jefe, and spent most of our time in the pool since it was about 105 degrees the whole time we were there. It was wonderful and I felt pretty well up until our last night, which was really amazing!

We had also planned a short getaway to Las Vegas this week since our last attempt a few years ago accidentally became a turnaround trip thanks to endo and I still haven't been! But what do ya know, we had to cancel last minute due to my pain. Again.

Endometriosis : 2
Las Vegas : 0

One of these days I will make it there! Until then, I will continue reliving these fabulous days in Palm Springs and keep counting down to my surgery. Less than 2 months, friends! Can't believe I might be pain free in 46 days! :)

Do you have any trips planned for this summer?

Also, I'm reading Necessary Lies for a book club with my aunts! Has anyone else read it? I'm excited to discuss it with all the ladies next week and would love to get your take on it if you've read it before. Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


"Miss Kelle, you're the only girl in here! Don't worry! Us boys will protect you from ANY danger that comes through that door!….. Unless it's a tarantula or a brown recluse. I don't do spiders."

"Don't touch my beauty…." (referring to his lincoln log creation)

"So… did Weston have to break into your house and sneak into your room one night while you were sleeping and then put that ring on your finger without waking you up?"
"No! He asked me if I would marry him and I said yes."
"Oh… Because the ring is so sparkly, right?"

"I'm CRYING because my HEAD is TOO ITCHY!"

"I lost a tooth this morning! I hope the tooth fairy brings me a cardboard box instead of money."

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"An ambulance!"
"Like, a person who drives the ambulance?"
"No! The ambulance! I like making this sound with my mouth - weeee woooo weee woooo"

"I found you a wedding dress yesterday when I was looking in a magazine for my piano recital.. It's purple with flowers and butterflies on the top. What size are you?"

"How was your nap?"
"It was infinity congratulations!"

"You can't come to my birthday party because it's going to be in California and you live all the way in America."

"Miss Kelle, who is that?"
"That's Martin Luther King Jr."
"Mmmmm.. chicken nuggets…."
"I love his chicken nuggets!"
"Martin Luther Carl's Jr.'s!"

"Wait… So when you marry Weston it's like… He's going to be the author and you're going to be the illustrator?"

"Miss Kelle O! I'm a miner! I'm going to find 100 diamonds in this sandbox and I will share 50 of them with you!"
:: one day later::
me : "How's the mining coming along today? Did you find a diamond for me yet?"
him : "You know what, Miss Kelle… Just buy your own diamond on your phone or something. I'm busy."

This was a school year of insane growth and learning for all of us.

To be honest, at the start of this year I didn't know how I was going to make it all the way through. There were some big challenges and difficult situations that I was quite overwhelmed by at first, but I am coming out of this year a much more confident, experienced teacher, so I'm thankful for every frustrating day and tearful drive home during those first few months. Once we got into the swing of things, I enjoyed this year and this class so much! We made so many memories together that I know I won't forget and I hope they won't either!

 christmas caroling around the school. all of their adorable wedding suggestions. our nature walks. eating "dirt" at the end of our plant life cycle unit. a giant "yellow paper dress" hanging on our window for my birthday. the first time our student with sensory processing disorder bravely flushed the toilet without plugging his ears. celebrating our 100th day of school with an ice cream party. Weston performing their favorite songs for them on a toy piano. making cookies during christmas week. how often they'd request "The Book With No 'Pages'" during story time. when one of my babies had a terrifying seizure in the middle of our classroom. celebrating chinese new year and letting them teach me all about their traditions! 
their cry of "Miss Kelle O!" every time I walked through the door. 

So proud of my soon-to-be kindergarteners!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Engagement Fiesta.

When I was little, I very much wanted to be Mexican. I used to beg my parents to call me "mija" and I'd plead with God to turn my eyes brown while I was sleeping and while he was at it, he might as well tan my skin a little bit too, pretty please?

Now that I'm marrying Weston, his family has informed me that my dreams are coming true and I am finally going to be an (honorary) Mexican. Yay! So to celebrate our engagement, our parents threw us an adorable fiesta in the Amaro's backyard. Our extended families got to meet each other and spend the afternoon enjoying delicious food made by The Taco Man and Weston's Abuela brought the most delicious rice and beans! It was so special to have our loved ones all in the same place. Probably one of my favorite days ever!

Before the party, I made myself a fresh flower crown. Since I'm probably never going to go to Coachella, I figured this was my only chance to wear one and I wasn't going to let it pass me by. ;)

I am loving every second of life these days. 

Even my endo days have so much happiness baked into them now! Last week I missed several days of work but I was able to stay wonderfully busy from my bed working on different odds and ends and Pinterest-ing, of course. :) After he proposed, Weston insisted that we've waited long enough to make this official and we shouldn't take our time with a long engagement, so if you can believe it, we are going to be married this fall!

Yep. We're tackling out-of-state surgery, house hunting, and marriage all in the next 6 months.
Are we a little crazy? Absolutely. But am I having the time of my life? You betcha. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

End(o) in Sight.

This is a story that I've been meaning to share here for almost two months.
Since I'm stuck in bed today, I'm finally getting around to it!

I got accepted to have surgery at The Center For Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, Georgia!

Back on a particularly painful Sunday morning in April, I was in a deep, Percocet induced sleep after being awake for most of the night. Meanwhile, my mom was sitting in church when her phone lit up with a number from Atlanta so she quickly scooted out of her row and ran outside to answer the call. She spoke briefly with a doctor who was trying to get a hold of me and she explained to him that I had a really rough night and was probably sleeping through the phone ringing. He said he would try to call our house again later on so my mom rushed home to tell me the news (and wake me up).

This is a call that we had been anxiously awaiting for weeks! So for the rest of the day I was forbidden from being more than 2 feet away from the phone. My mom had the ringer up full volume and everyone at the house was in full alert. It was kind of hilarious, actually. Literally nothing got done that day.

Around 7:30 in the evening I started thinking he wasn't going to call. I was calculating the time difference, realizing it was almost 10 pm there, when our home phone started ringing. We all froze and looked at each other for a second before Weston ran over and answered it.

"Hello?" He started smiling so big. "Yes.. Yeah she's right here hang on!" He said, nodding at me with the biggest grin on his face.

I took the phone from him and my hands were shaking a little bit. "Hello?" I said.
"Hi, Kelle. This is Doctor Albee from The CEC. I hear you're having a pretty rough day."
I laughed a little, "Yeah, actually I am."
"By the looks of things, it seems like you've had a lot of pretty rough days these past few years."
My eyes brimmed with tears, hearing a doctor acknowledge something so simple. "Yes, I have. It's been pretty hard."
"I'm hoping we can do something about that for you, Kelle…"

I looked across the room at my parents and Weston who were all sitting on the couch, leaning in expectantly with tears in their eyes.

"I can't make you any promises," Doctor Albee continued, "But I feel very encouraged that if you come out to Atlanta, we will be able to help. It seems like your surgeon from last time may have missed a significant amount of endometriosis which is probably why you've never felt any relief. You've certainly been through a lot, but we are hopeful that we will be able to make you feel much better."

While he spoke, I couldn't stop crying. I nodded to my family and they all started hugging each other and came over to me and held my hand.

It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I hung up the phone and we couldn't stop crying and embracing each other. Then we got to call all the wonderful people who have been praying with us to share the good news. From inside our house, I heard our next-door neighbor in the backyard screaming "woohoo!!" over our back fence. She was jumping up and down, so excited for us. (Remember the time I needed pain medication at 5am, my family was out of town and I couldn't get out of bed so I had to call a neighbor for help? Yep, that's her! She's seen this all firsthand, let me tell you!)

THEN, a few weeks later, it got even better!