Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We're Getting Married!

I always thought that I would know when to expect a proposal.

Not that Weston isn't good at surprises, but because I am so good at figuring things out. ;) I guess I just assumed something would be out of the ordinary - he'd be nervous, or he'd plan something special for us to do that would tip me off, or he'd be extra affectionate that day..

Well, we are engaged! And I was 100% completely blindsided.

Weston picked me up for our favorite kind of Sunday morning - brunch in Downtown Claremont, followed by a stroll through my go-to farmers market. We chatted over champagne cocktails at breakfast and afterward, Weston offered his arm to me and we walked through the market, sampling food from different vendors and purchasing some fruit.. and of course, sunflowers too.

The streets downtown and near the Claremont colleges are notoriously pretty. Gorgeous old houses, little white fences, brick buildings, and big trees that hang over the streets. We were making our way back to the car when I asked Weston if he'd take a picture of me with my flowers. He was strangely compliant and actually suggested that we find a really pretty place to take the photo! So we wandered a few streets over, where nobody else was walking, to take a few pictures before heading home.

I asked if we could take a photo together and was trying to gather the rest of our market loot to display in our picture ("just let me grab the cherries really quick…") when I heard him say from behind me, "I have something a little bit better…"

I turned around to see the small box in his hand.

He shared a few sweet words with me before asking me the big question and my answer, of course, you already know.
I hugged him for a few minutes (lots of shocked "oh my gosh"-es) before he laughingly reminded me, "Don't you want to see the ring?"

While we drove to my house afterward, to celebrate with my family, Weston turned on my favorite song which I always listen to on my happiest and most monumental days and that's when it hit me and I suddenly started crying. And not to totally rat anyone out, buttttt let's just say I wasn't crying alone… ;)

Weston had spoken to my parents about his plans the day before, so when we arrived at the house my brother met us at the door, champagne in hand. My parents were blasting Marry You on our living room stereo and having a family dance party that the Bravermans would be proud of.

A little while later, we headed over to Weston's house, where his family was having a little get-together and we got to share our news with all of them in person. My family joined us shortly after and we spent the rest of the perfect afternoon celebrating with the people we love most.

Thank you so much to everyone who has congratulated us and sent us well wishes these last few days.
We feel very lucky to have so much support and love in our corner as we plan our lives together! xo

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Sometimes I think to myself, "Wouldn't it be so fun to be a professional blogger?"
Then I remember how rarely I make appearances here and quickly decide to stick to my day job. ;)

Here are a few iPhone pictures from lately and a bit about what I've been up to these past few months.

Back in February, for a belated Valentine's date, Weston and I went to lunch at Daily Dose, which I had been wanting to try for quite a while, then got to satisfy my two-year-donut-craving at Fonuts! They had so many awesome vegan and gluten free flavors. My favorite was a vanilla donut with raspberry frosting. Mmmm! Makes me want to drive back out there right now just thinking about it.

I also got to visit the Rifle Paper Co & Paper Crown Pop-Up-Shop at The Grove during Valentine's weekend! I had been so excited because I adore Anna Bond's artwork and it was so fun getting to see her pretty designs become fabric for gorgeous dresses and tops.

For Christmas this year, I was gifted a subscription to Petit Vour - a box full of beauty products that are cruelty free and mostly chemical free too! Through their boxes, I added several new permanent products to my growing collection. If you're interested in 'cleaning' up your beauty routine, this is a great way to start! I think I will be sharing a few of my new favorite products here soon since this post from last year could use a bit of updating!

At the beginning of spring, I decided to minimize my closet. If you aren't familiar with the concept of "capsule wardrobes", I encourage you to check out the blog Un-Fancy! The idea is to narrow down your clothing collection to versatile pieces that you feel great in! Not to mention, eliminating impulse purchases by not shopping for a few months at a time. At the start of the season, I cut down my closet from over 100 items to 40! Lots of things got donated, some things got put into storage until their appropriate seasons, and the 40 things that were left in my closet are the pieces I felt would be best to wear this spring. It's been a really fun challenge and a surprisingly simple transition! Getting dressed in the mornings is a lot easier since I'm not overwhelmed by countless things to wear and I'm saving money by using what I have and not buying anything new - with the exception of special occasions, like a dress for an upcoming wedding. The things that are hanging in my closet are things I love, appropriate for the season, and easy to mix and match. Fun little experiment! Let me know if you give it a try!

While in the spring cleaning, minimalistic mood, I also chopped a few inches off my hair for good measure.
Feeling fresh around here!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Endo March and Updates.

This year's Endometriosis Awareness Month was one for the books. The last few months, actually, have been very hopeful and uplifting. It seems like every day, more information is being shared and people are slowly understanding what endo is and how it affects the lives of so many women and their families.

Padma Lakshmi had a small segment on ABC's The View, where she addressed the "Why Should We Care About Endo" question with grace, poise... and as much detail as they'd allow her to go into without interrupting her - haha. Huge exposure on a show that reaches so many women. Such wonderful progress!

I heard about two different news segments about women with endometriosis, sharing their experiences too! And you may have seen the commercial about endometriosis that has been being shown on networks like E! and Lifetime. It's for a specific research study, but the facts are there, the word is there.. if I had seen that commercial when I was 13 years old, I would have had a name for my pain 9 years earlier than I did! Gives me so much hope for the young girls who are currently hurting with no answers. Speaking of that, I was asked to share a bit about my journey to a diagnosis over at Covalent Magazine last month! You can find that article here.

The second Worldwide March for Endometriosis also took place in March, with people all across the globe marching to show their support and get the word out about this debilitating disease.

Several months ago, my family and I registered to walk in Palo Alto. Ironically (but not surprisingly) I wasn't able to make it to the march due to a bad endo flare-up. But that afternoon, my mom and I put on our walkin' outfits and carried our signs for a very short walk near our house, just the two of us and Toby. And I found comfort remembering that all the people marching at the big events were doing that for me. They were marching for all of us who weren't able to march. Walking for those who are in too much pain to walk. The rest of the day, I was happy to browse Instagram and see people all over the world participating. Hopefully next year I can make it to one of the big marches (How about Jamaica?!  This one looks so fun!) but for this year, I'm content with our own tiny little parade.

As far as my personal endo battle goes…

If you haven't already seen this news via Facebook or Instagram, I'm applying to have surgery at The Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, Georgia! I'm so excited, nervous, and anxious to hear back from them to find out whether or not they think I am a good fit for surgery with their specialists. This is the most hopeful I've felt about a treatment in a long time and I've heard nothing but good things from their previous patients so keep your fingers crossed for me please! If they decide to take me on as a patient, I hope to schedule my surgery for this summer, so I can watch my class graduate into big kindergarteners before I head to Georgia for a bit.

Having this potential surgery to feel hopeful about has been quite beneficial - especially these last three weeks, which have been pretty challenging. These days, my pain is constant and harsh. After missing a week of work and still not feeling much better, I decided to go back despite my desire to curl up into a ball and cry - ha! To get through my days, I wear a Thermacare Heat Wrap under my clothing and stay seated as much as possible (not easy when you teach 5 year olds) but once I get home I can barely muster the energy to wash my hair or brush my teeth before taking some medicine and passing out with my heating pad.

I'm constantly struggling between wanting/needing to take care of myself, but also wanting to push through the pain and not let it affect my life so much. That balance is something I'm still trying to figure out. If you've got it mastered, holla at your girl with some tips. ;)

To follow along with more endometriosis related stuff, you can find me on Instagram. @end_oh
Hope you're all doing great and feeling fabulous.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Last Bit of Winter.

After a few rainy weekends got me feeling like maybe it isn't springtime just yet, I convinced my family to spend a Sunday searching for snow in the local mountains with me. It didn't take long before the raindrops turned into snowflakes, sprinkling down onto our windshield and little dusty patches of white made appearances along the sides of the road.

After a quick detour in a neighborhood where my dad used to vacation as a kid, we ended up just pulling off to the side of the main road and finding a calm and quiet spot to explore while the snow fell on us.

I think I've seen snow fall more in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years of my life haha.
(…which is only like 2 times, but still.)

I know the idea of wanting to (or let alone, having to) search for snow is ridiculous to most of the U.S., who is more than ready for sunshine and spring, but I'm okay with one or two more chilly, rainy, weekends before the sun comes out to stay around here, Mr. Weather Man. ;)

It's been a pretty long time since I made a little video, but here are some moments we filmed during our cold adventure today. It should probably just be called, "The O'Connell Family Experiences Weather." But maybe you'll think the snow is as pretty as we did. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Seven years ago, we went out to dinner, just the two of us.

I was too nervous to eat so I just had a milkshake. You laughed about it. 
We took a rainy drive and you reached over to squeeze my hand for 2 seconds during a Postal Service song... 
A move that I mentally analyzed for the remainder of the evening.

We walked on a wet path through a cold, foggy park.
I was still so nervous, I honestly thought I was going to be sick. 
I know you remember that part.

On the way home I rolled my window down, even though it was freezing and you complained, but not really. 
Your tires rode the bumps in between the lanes for a second and I realized you'd been looking at me. 
You smiled and offered some embarrassed explanation.
You know I remember that part.

We arrived back at my house with minutes to spare before my curfew. 
I awkwardly fumbled with the door of your car. 
Something about not being able to find the unlock button. 

And then you told me you liked me.

It was the best thing ever.
Happy seven, Weston.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Huntington Run/Ride.

The other day my brother and I were browsing Instagram. Particularly, lurking around the profile of our cousin, Rachel, who is currently making her way through Italy. "Look at this!" Nolan said, regarding a gorgeous photo of one of the canals, "Can you imagine how amazing it would be to live there?" I sighed longingly at the picture. "I bet the locals take it for granted," I replied. I didn't mean it in a skeptical way, but I think many people stop acknowledging beautiful things in life once they've experienced them frequently enough.

Example? Nolan and I had this conversation on a gorgeous, 70 degree, sunny day in January.
We are clearly not immune to a lack of appreciation for our home. 

Now, don't get me wrong. California is no Italy… But it has it's moments. 
And sometimes, it hits me how much I love it here and I try to take advantage of what my home has to offer.

A couple weekends ago, Weston and I went down to the beach for one of our favorite pastimes - he runs, I ride my bike to keep up, and we rack up a few miles together. The sun set as we rode on the nearly empty trail - a path with sand on either side. The sound of the ocean and salty air in our faces.

Friday, January 9, 2015


"Miss Kelle, What are those clips for?"
"They're to hang up our crafts!"
"Oh yeah, we have a lot of crap hanging up in my class too."

"Here Miss Kelle! I drew you a picture! It's you, holding a potato!"

"I don't have a crush on her! She's just my best friend! But she's pretty cute. And a lot of times I just really want to hug her."

me : "So, when you finish your paper, it should have 3 Dd's on it."
5-year-old : "Woah, our papers are gonna be 3D?!" (sorry for that letdown, kids.)

"Oooooh, potty-mouth, I'm telling! You said 'Andy!'"

me : "Please stop pretending you have a gun in your hand, that makes me sad!"
5-year-old : "Alriiiiight, I'll stop pretend shooting…… But is it okay if I make an explosive device to destroy my imaginary gun first?"

"For you, this probably seems like just a regular day. But it's really not. It's my birthday."

me : "Can you please apologize for accidentally kicking his face on the playground? If someone kicked you in the face, wouldn't you want them to say sorry?"
5-year-old : "Nah, I'd probably be fine. I have a really hard face."

"My favorite Christmas song is Feliz MommyDad."

"There aren't any stars out yet, are there?"
"No.. In the cloud! It's a turtle shape! I can't believe my eyes! That's the most beautiful constellation I've ever SEEN!"

"Man, I really don't feel as smart as I used to. I lost a ton of brain cells watching TV last weekend."

And in closing, here are a few excerpts from the Christmas cards for their parents. 
I asked what they wanted to say to their family for Christmas, then wrote their words, verbatim….

"Dad, Mom, Emily,
Merry Christmas. Happy Junior. Happy New Year. Happy Halloween. I love you.
Love, E."

"Happy Christmas. Christmas Party. Christmas Joy.
Love, S."

"I like rainbow lights. I love you. Surprise Jesus' birthday. I want a lot of gifts. Happy Christmas.
Love, J."

"Dear Mom and Dad,
It's going to be a wonderful Christmas! Jesus is the star of the Christmas and we will all have lots and lots of gifts from Santa. Everybody will get gifts. Even my family.
Love, A."