A Sick Day

more like a sick weekend!


I cannot lie and say that I look forward to every other weekend with J. 
Yes, every other.
That's because every other weekend, we have no kid {his son comes over on the other weekends} and he is not on call with work.
For those who do not know what that means... on call = constant phone calls at all hours of day and night {he gets little sleep}... and that equates to no movie dates, or very interrupted dinners and time together.


Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for those days and those phone calls too.
It is our bread and butter, I know.
But as a wife -- and a fairly newlywed at that! -- I really relish in the time that we get to have together.


This past weekend was one I was looking forward to as well. 
One of the last weekends left in the summer, I thought J and I could gallivant through Orange County or Los Angeles,
catch a movie,
go to the beach,
or find a restaurant or two that we haven't tried yet {my favorite of the list}.


We have also been pretty big on working out lately.
J reinstated our gym memberships and even got me sessions with a personal trainer.
We have been good about going everyday, drinking protein shakes, and taking our supplements.


And then Saturday morning hit me like a brick. 
I woke up with a gnarrrrly sore throat and sneezing like it was going out of style.
My nose was dripping like crazy,
my head felt like it was locked in a vice,
and I was weak as it gets.
Compounded with the ridiculous heat and surprising humidity, we decided to stay home for the day.


Of course, being one who doesn't do well with sitting still, I was able to finagle a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond and to Michael's for some reorganizing supplies and crafts.


BIG MISTAKE.
After returning from our errands, I was so exhausted that I could barely get up.


Even worse, I woke up on Sunday and was so congested that I stayed awake for an hour and a half, went to sleep for another 2 1/2 hours {and sweated my fever out}, went to dinner at 6pm, and was in bed and asleep by 7:30pm... all the way to 7:15 am on Monday morning.


Went to work and was sent home because I still sounded awful.


So here I am, home alone and sick in bed
on a sunny Monday morning...
unfolded blankets all over the living room...

cleaning items left all over the house...


the kitchen left with items all over the counter...

crafts left half done...

and bed left in disarray...

Who helps mommies and wives when they are sick?!??!







One Constant: Lessons From My Mother

So far in my life, I can honestly say that I have developed and nurtured many relationships.
I have given my heart, had it broken, and have been blessed enough to have had people help me heal it.


In all those times, I feel that I can wholeheartedly say that there has been one person who has been there, 
who has tirelessly stuck with me,
who, even in some of my darkest hours, when I fought like heck to keep her away, still rescued me, and held me, and told me everything is going to be okay. {here come the tears.}


I'll be the first to admit that I fought it for years.
"I will NOT be like my mother," I told myself.
I will not NOT allow my kids to eat in their rooms.
I will not rinse out Chinese takeout boxes before throwing them out into the trash.
I will not be neurotic and keep wiping down the kitchen and bathroom counters.
I will not stand in my own daughter's way, and let her wear however short she wants to wear her shorts.
I will be better.
I wil be aware.
I will not be HER.


{ circa 1984 }


And here I am, in the not-so-ripe age of . . . close to 30,
and I am admitting it now:
My mother was right.
I knew it when I found crumbs in my bed and got irritated.
I knew it when I walked into the house and smelled the rancid takeout boxes from the trash.
I knew it when I picked up the bottle of 409 and paper towels and wiped grease off my kitchen counters.
I knew it when I was disgusted when I saw 14 years olds at the mall in Daisy Dukes and skimpy tops.
I knew it in so many ways, and find out more everyday.
And even worse, I know that I am just like my mother in more ways than I am willing to admit.


{ Solvang, CA 2007 }


But as we all grow up, it becomes less and less about who is right or wrong, and becomes more about becoming the person you want to be.
I have learned volumes of this from Mom.
Growing up, she instilled so many lessons within me and my brothers, and we should only be so lucky and smart to fully understand and appreciate it all.



{ My bridal shower: The Peninsula Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA ~ April 25, 2010 }


As I have gotten older, I've seen firsthand the lessons that she has taught us,


Of courage = moving to the United States as a single mother immediately after my dad's and her separation / divorce;


{ Six Flags Magic Mountain, 1994 }


Of perseverance = a college and master's graduate working 3 jobs when we lived in New York in order to not disrupt my private school education from when we lived in the Philippines and send me to a very expensive private school in NY;


Of sacrifice = I am sure that my mom passed on simple pleasures in order to provide for me. 


{ My Wedding Day ~ May 22, 2010 }


Of pure, unconditional love = Without going into any further detail, she fought with me and for me in some of my darkest times, and never stopped believing in me and what I can do.


We never really get enough chances to recognize our moms
and what they do for us,
and I wanted to make it a point to let my mom know that
it doesn't have to be her birthday
or mother's day
{or a Nordstrom sale weekend}
but my mom is loved and appreciated
and is above and beyond the person I can ever hope to be.



A Blogger's Frustration

When my dear friend Kristen guest blogged the other day,
she made a mention that I take my blog seriously.
Simple statement, true in every sense, 
but funny enough, I never thought of myself that way.
But she's right:
This blog, much like my wedding was, 
{and quite frankly, much like my pregnancy with Aub & Fin}
a labor of love.
It's a hobby, yes.
It is a great source of relief, solace, pride, and happiness
and is something I pour my heart into.

And being someone who is just starting out in this blogging world,
I'm sure you can imagine the level of giddiness I feel
when someone comments {whether on Facebook or on my personal Facebook page or on Twitter or the Etsy shop}.

I'm not going to lie,
I thrive on the love our followers send
and get even more excited when a new person sends love via comment, let alone via follow.

There is no question that there are certainly many regular followers of the blog.
My stats page tells me that -- on a monthly basis, Benchmarks & Babies gets an average of 1500 unique page views.
But I think that people read the posts largely through links I post on Facebook.

While this is a fantastic enough feat, for a budding blogger, the number of page hits per month is tightly correlated to the number of actual followers of the site.

How does this translate to you, my faithful reader? This is where my shameless self plug comes in. I am asking you to help me get more followers on the blog. 

There are a few things you can do:
1. First and most important, FOLLOW the blog. See the section on the right hand side of the blog that says "Followers"? It's as simple as clicking on the "Join this site" button on that section and following the instructions.
{I promise you won't get any emails from me or the blog -- unless you choose to}

2. "Like" us on Facebook! 
Most everyone has one of these pages...
so it's as easy as adding us to your list of likes
{the coolness of adding us balances out your other, um, more obscure likes... i.e. "Turning over the pillow to get the cooler side" -- you know who you are!}
When you add us to Facebook, you'll be the first to know about new posts, giveaways, reviews, crafts, and recipes!


3. Tweet, tweet! Did you know we are on Twitter too?
Follow @BenchmrksBabies to get into my head!

Other ways to follow and support
your friendly, local Benchmarks & Babies Blogger:

Got a blog? Grab my button code and insert it into your blog sidebar! Email me so I can grab yours too!

Go to TopMommyBlogs.com, search for Benchmarks & Babies, and click on our link from their site. Each click counts as a "vote" and the more votes we get, the higher the ranking, the more exposure Benchmarks & Babies gets!

I really appreciate everyone helping us out and sending out the word. {Tell your family, tell your friends, and tell your friends's friends!} Remember that this could potentially benefit you too: The more followers and regular page views B&B gets and the more exposure the blog has, the more sponsorships, contests, and giveaways we can do -- the more goodies you get!

{sidebar: See the new design? We owe our fabulous new decor to Masto Mama Designs! Isn't it perfect?!?!}

{Have a lovely week, you lovely readers!}









Guest Blogger: Finds by Fogle

(Runner Up: (Things You Probably Didn't Want to Know But Will Find Out Anyway)


If J is my heart, then this week's guest blogger could very well be my soul. 
We went to the same Junior High and High School, and in college, we became the best of friends and sorority sisters too!
I'm so proud to have Kristen guest blog for me!
-----------------------------------------------


I get an erratic phone call at 8 a.m. Fire? Famine? Car-break-down-go-boom? No, no, just Angela of Benchmarks and Babies wanting me to guest blog.

I tease, but she takes this shiz seriously. And why shouldn’t she? Besides a short 2002 Dead Journal episode (think a more macabre Live Journal), I’m not sure if I’ve ever blogged…I write for a living, but blogging seems a lot more personal, and in many ways much more expressive, which is why I commend her for taking to the pen (keyboard?) and doling out her feelings/crafts/coolness on a weekly basis.

Contributing then is a little challenging…I don’t have many feelings since the frontal lobe surgery (totally a joke, guys), nor do I craft (though I’d like to), and I’m not that cool—but I do know stuff. As the editor of a college entertainment publication (not a plug, just context, I swear), I get sent a lot of stuff to my home, which works as my magazine HQ here in San Diego. (The actual brick and mortar office is in LA). Some of the products are awesome (MAC makeup, anyone??); some of it is weird (yes, obscure New Delhi PR company, I’m talking to you); some of it is weirdly awesome.

UK company Shite Shirts (http://shiteshirts.com) is probably my favorite to date. Made up of different patterns sewn together into male button ups, these unique, every-shirt-is-a-new-creation concoctions are fabulous. (Not to mention they were like a marketing mirage…overnight I had six shirts delivered and not so much as a query or follow up as to their placement in our publication, now, almost six months later.)

Not super sure why they chose an antelope for their press photo, but we all have to remember: these are the British we are dealing with...


But, specifically, there is a lot of stuff sent to me that is perfect for Moms, ladies that leisure (or lunch), working women, and everything in between. So, as of this month, these are the items that I have received that I would truly recommend:

1.   Meeble Mail

I kind of like, love this stuff, and I don’t know why I didn’t discover it sooner. Meeble Mail is essentially electronic stationary. So, instead of sending out an email that won’t stand out, Meeble makes sure it does. This is what you do…Go to www.meeblemail.com. Select stationary from their hundreds of choices. Personalize with your monogram, your name, text, and/or one of their images (my Kappa Kappa Gamma alum self loves their old fashioned key). Purchase (usually $3-$5), and send to as many people as you want. I love to use these as thank you’s (dear Postal Service, my cards are just not important enough to spend $0.44 on) and as follow ups after a job interview or meeting a client/contact. Best, it's always on your computer, sittin’ back and lookin’ pretty until you push send.



Meeble your mail or you're playing with it.


2.   Rack Trap

The age old question: Where do I store all my stuff (credit card, ID, mini alcohol bottles...) when going out for the night? In your Rack Trap of course. This thing is genius. Tailored to fit snug up against your boob, it’s a little pouch that is inserted into your bra and keeps all your stuff locked away, like a little gnome (a gnome that is way too comfortable taking refuge against your lady part, that is). They have Rack Traps that are ideal if you’re (literally) on the run (sweat proof and made for the sports bra), and night out ones: lacy types as well as limited edition gold. (Tip: Don’t go to www.racktrap.com as you will be sorely disappointed; it is an “antler removal system” site which I feel begs an anonymous PETA email.) Instead, visit http://www.theracktrap.com/.

Oh the markeing here...like, what if they did the "Iraq trap"? They could be camo and the proceeds could go to like, hot soldiers...No, terrible idea?

3.   Piggy Paint

I got a request to cover this product since they just started making nail polish for dogs. As I generally don’t let my pooch upstage me, I checked out what else http://www.piggypaint.com/ has to offer and found that Piggy Paint is not only a whole lotta cute, but the product was made by a woman on a mission.

Piggy Paint’s founder, Melanie Hurley, has two girls; naturally she wanted to paint their tiny toes in tones of their choosing. However, when she poured out the drug-store “kiddie friendly” polish on a foam plate and watched the paint eat away at it, she decided that she didn’t want to put anything on her kids that could eat through white trash dinnerware. Hence, Piggy Paint: nail polish that is non-flammable, water based, and made of natural ingredients. (No formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, biphenyl A, ethyl acetate, and acetone...and made in the USA.) But Piggy Paint is not just for dogs and kids, she has a “grown up” line called Refined, as well as these great gift sets for college students (you can select your school colors). Plus they have a logo with a pig on it; can you say “fave-sies” five times fast??

This little piggy went to Neiman Marcus...this little piggy stayed home...
  
4.   T-boxes

Kind of silly, kind of amazing. For those of us that don’t have bathroom quarters with a whole lotta space, these just make sense, though. T-boxes can be suctioned to the side of your toilet and have a spring loaded button to reveal, yes, tampons. Discreetly hide away these much needed evil items (up to eight)! Or don’t be discreet—they come in all sorts of fun colors, too. I think every house should have one, but definitely a must for college girls in dorms or high schoolers with lockers. Go to www.tboxgirl.com.

I feel like there are just too many dirty comments that can be made about "t-boxing."

5.   Mimobot

My nerdy, nerdy self loves me some Mimobot. Made by Mimoco (www.mimoco.com), which sells all sorts of toy-like paraphernalia, Mimobots are small flash drives dressed up like some of your favorite characters. (Two to 64 KB’s is what these small little wonders can hold!) I was sent the Star Wars line (my significant other and I argued about who would get Darth for about ten minutes), as well as some Hello Kitty’s (including a nerdy one, below). There is also a Batman, a Transformers, and an artist series. Plus, you can buy “hoodies” to wrap your Mimobot in—the hoods connect to a key chain to take them to the office and beyond. Great for you, your bf, your kids, your baby daddy, that woman he’s got on the side…children you meet at the park…whomever.

Totally useful; totally scary when placed by your bedside.




Kristen Fogle has edited and written for magazines and in a freelance capacity for the past seven years. Currently, as the editor of the national college entertainment publication CLIQ Magazine (http://www.cliqmagazine.com/), she has interviewed celebrities like Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Holly Madison, Audrina Patridge, and Dr. Drew to name a few. Recently, she received her M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing at San Diego State University, where she has also taught. An accomplished vocalist and actress, she enjoys taking part in the lively theater scene in San Diego, and is looking forward to directing her second show this month. A world traveler when she can, Kristen aspires to travel the globe full time, writing and meandering with her   beloved pound pup Kismet and her fiancĂ©-heyyy, Slade.

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Redecoration Nation

We have lived in this house for three years.
For the first two and a half {more or less},
we didn't really talk to our neighbors
{largely because of a small bit of misinformation from neighbors who actually no longer live in our neighborhood}
and I actually seriously prefer to keep to myself. 
Don't get me wrong -- I'm nice, I'm cordial, and maybe even friendly,
but for the most part, I'm happy being at home crafting and blogging and being a homebody.
But such was not necessarily in the cards for me,
and recently, my husband has become acquainted with the neighbors, 
and naturally, I have been drug into this mix {though I wasn't exactly kicking and screaming as much as you may imagine.}


The point is, in the first few years of our stay here,
my home decor has catered more to the function rather than the aesthetics of living.
I have been, to say the least, slow at decorating or decisions to make anything pretty in the house.
My home style has been insipid.
Of course, after the loss of our girls and my now emphatic drive to keep busy, the decor inspiration has finally come.


First, I attacked what used to be a boring wall above our built-in entertainment center in our family room. 
My boss just so happened to be clearing out their storage unit and I asked if they could give me some extra picture frames. I then spray painted the frames in teal, yellow, and white and had some of our favorite wedding photos printed in black and white. Then I asked J to help me hang them.
This wall is actually curved, and at first, I was afraid that the frames would look funny, but they were just fine!
I also used this B monogram that I found at Home Goods last year and used as a prop for our wedding...



Then I took some hanging lanterns I found at Ikea and added some vintage cobalt bottles also found at Home Goods. The paper peony was a special order from Etsy and was part of our wedding centerpieces last year. I swear, I keep finding newer uses for these flowers all the time.
I thought that these would really compliment the wooden sign we got from J's cousin for the wedding.

Next thing I tackled was the backdrop wall in our dining room. For the longest time, it was just decorated with a poster that we had from when we first moved in together in our old condo.
I bought an unfinished wooden shelf from Michaels. J painted it black and then white so that it would look a little distressed.
I then hung up an aluminum farmhouse style star that I got from Home Goods.
and a burlap and lace bunting banner I made myself (soon to be on custom order sale at Benchmarks & Babies on Etsy)

I had some extra burlap from the banner, so I added it as an anchor for a mason jar flower vase that I made:
I also bought a small birdhouse from Michael's and painted it:
And my mom bought me some vintage keys from Tapers and Petals on Etsy {one of my newest favorite stores on Etsy!}.

These keys are just about my newest favorite item in my house!
I also put on some stoneware robins and a courting candle that I bought from a cute little boutique in McCall, Idaho called Something to Crow About.

The story of the courting candle is as follows: In the 1600's to the 1800's, courting candles were used by the man of the home to set boundaries for his daughter. When the daughter's suitor came calling, the father lit the candle in a sitting room where the couple conversed. When the candles burnt to the metal at the top of the candle holder, it was time for the suitor to promptly leave. However, the father could change the height of the candle based on how comfortable he felt about the suitor. Also, the father could immediately snuff out the candle or add a second candle depending on what he deemed necessary. The courting candle served as a quiet, yet firm reminder to the suitor to end his date. {source: Timeless Wrought Iron}

Here's the finished product:

These first two rooms have been fun, but I am still in the process of replacing our coffee table in the family room, getting a new dining set, and a new china hutch that match my decor scheme. I guess if you could imagine a California farmhouse on the beach, that's the look we're going for.

I can't wait to put together more of the house! I'll be sure to post more items as the days go by...


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the headband challenge

The week before last, as I was doing one of my nightly blog-a-thons, Ashley of Little Miss Momma challenged us with a Seven Day Headband Challenge...


I normally would have taken a step back and perhaps bowed out,
but I decided, WHY NOT!


So here are my seven headband days and what I learned:
Headband: Black & White Floral Ribbon with grip elastic
soon to be up on the

 Headband: Large Navy Blue Floral Ribbon with blue rhinestone and thin elastic
soon to be up on the

 Headband: Canary, Avocado, and Robin's Egg Floral headband with yellow band
from my private collection
but you can order it from
  Headband: "Boathouse" elastic headband
from
  Headband: Turquoise thin double band from H&M
  Headband: Gold leather and lace flowers
from Nordstrom
 Headband: "Olivia" thick cotton band with ribbon flowers and tulle from


Thank you again, LMM
for holding this challenge & link party
and continuing to inspire!


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