CALLING PET LOVERS

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I need your help! Calling all dog lover/condo/apartment dwellers! 

While Hayden and I were in transition and finding our new place, Oscar has been at “camp.” We are all back and reunited. Oscar has barely left my feet (only to cuddle with my mom or play with Hayden). 

My dilemma? If you saw my story this morning, I was out walking Oscar before Hayden woke up. That works cause my mom is here, but I need a place for Oscar to go to the bathroom when my mom is not here. At night after Hayden goes to bed and first thing in morning. I have a patio with a drain, so I’m wondering if any of you have turned that into an area for your pet before? 

I’m doing some research (like one of these here on amazon), but it dawned on me that the best thing to do is get recommendations from YOU. Looking forward to your thoughts if you’ve ever been in my shoes!!

HAPPY WEDNESDAY. I’m on my way to go workout…. trying to keep my promise to myself.

oh and ps- this photo was taken a few months back, so yes, I blurred my wedding ring for those of you that might ask. Not sure if that is silly?

xoxo

AAJ

How to get Happy with God given gifts

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I just got home from a workout and am feeling inspired, so I thought I’d put my fingers to the keys. I promised myself next time I felt motivated to share something with y’all, I’d just write it out as soon as I could.

It’s no secret my world is changing. ICYMI you can see a bit of it here and here, etc. I’ve let worry and fear seep into my being lately. I believe in prayer. I believe that God doesn’t want us to worry. And I don’t want to, either. But I am human. Only human. And right now, life has been depleting me.

I ran on adrenaline for so long to get me through a few significant phases. But the “phases” are still coming. Court dates, hearings, money, lawyers, etc. I AM WORRIED, EXHAUSTED AND DEPLETED. My adrenaline is waining. Some of you have commented on my posts. It’s ok. It makes sense.

My girlfriends Kaley, Bri, Ali and Willa have been encouraging me to sculpt out time to workout. And I did. Then I would feel guilty. I have so much to do right now, it felt selfish. But, last weekend, I was with Willa and she really saw it. She saw the depletion. So, she reminded me of something:

God gave us a gift with endorphins. Working our bodies (and minds) to the point of releasing our endorphins is a GIFT. Better than medicine. If you are healthy enough to get out and walk or move or spin or sculpt, DO IT. I know not everyone is, so that in and of itself is a gift. 20 minutes can change your day! I love this article experiment reported in SELF magazine:

All she knows is that she's overwhelmed. So at lunch, she heads to the gym and hops onto the elliptical. As her heart begins to pound, levels of the feel-good neurochemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine rise in her body. So does brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance that may protect her brain from emotional disorders and repair damage that stress and depression cause. At the same time, opiate-like endorphins and endocannabinoids (similar to the other kind of cannabis) flood her system, leading to a sense of well-being. Read full article here.

For years, I’ve been an advocate of healthy habits: drinking water, working out (even if it meant jumping jacks and squats in my bedroom), sweating out the bad and putting in the good with your vitamins and supplements. But lately, I let life get the best of me. And Willa reminded me that God gives us ways to be proactive! Keep our minds sharp and our bodies flexible and give us energy. I need energy.

Today was everything for me. I poured out sweat and felt like I left the bad parts of me on my yoga mat. And my God given natural endorphins replaced the old with new energy.

I hope YOU are in an amazing spot in life already (then encourage us with a comment!), but if you are more in my shoes than you’d like to admit…. let’s encourage each other to do what we can. If it’s a walk or run, or yoga—— goooooo! Do it outside for freeeeee. If all you can do today is stand up and stretch…do it. Even for 20 minutes and get happy.

Please. Do it. You will feel better. You will FILL UP. And God can use you for your purpose.


LIFE CHANGES, so why not UPGRADE

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Today’s post is sponsored by Kelley Blue Book®, but you guys know for certain these thoughts came straight from my heart!

It’s Oct. 1st! Last month was my birthday! Do birthdays make you reflect on life goals? How you got to this point in your life…are you where you want to be?  If you’re close to my age, don’t you feel like our 40s are the time to start really settling in to who we are- unapologetically? Start to enjoy a few things you’ve worked so hard for?!

If you’re younger, get a head start… If you’re older, there’s no time like the present.

I am in the midst of some major transitions in life. Starting over again. But this time, not from scratch, from experience. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but I made some great choices this past year that are helping this transition today. Funny how the puzzle of life starts to make sense with time. Little snapshots of my life popped up as I was in traffic recently. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We are the sum of all our experiences. The peaks and the valleys made us who we are RIGHT NOW. And who I am today is a strong woman and mother to the most precious child! Here’s a snapshot of those puzzle pieces, broken down to six concepts:

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1) LET GO OF STUFF. For those of you on social media, you can see I’m still doing that!! It feels so good to be lighter. You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again, when in doubt, throw it out. (Donate the worthy stuff, of course). It certainly helped my recent move that I let some stuff go, but I’m working on paring down even more. Also, when you imagine your pieces/furniture/extra dishes/clothes getting a second life, it makes it more joyful to let it go. Find a women’s shelter and know you will be helping out someone very deserving. Fill up a box and take it to your car so it’s ready next time you are driving by. I’ve found a treasure of new beauty products that I think I’m gonna box up and give to one of you! Pay it forward! Leave a comment letting me know you’re interested (and make sure I have a way of contacting you via email or social media handles!).

2) UPGRADE AN ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. This was a big one and you all were a part of it. I upgraded my car!! I’m so happy I have a reliable car for Hayden and me now. I live in LA and a car is like a second home. What I didn’t share with you at the time was I how I sold my old one with the help of Kelley Blue Book®. I cannot recommend this more. It takes a few minutes online… and you get a Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer. Literally a few minutes with my VIN number. I then took my car in to the local participating dealer in Burbank for a review. It was fast (Hayden and I hung out while they reviewed it). I had time to think about it, but I didn’t need much. I took the Instant Cash Offer and got my check!!  I was a bit confused because I thought it should have been harder! lol. Pro Tip (cause, you know, I’m a pro now…ha!)… communicate with the people at your dealership when you go to redeem your Instant Cash Offer. I explained I had just put new tires on the car, and my cash offer got quite a bit higher! 

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3) DO THE THING THAT YOU HAVE FEARED. Be it big or small. Wanna do stand up comedy? Sing in a band? Start a new business? I didn’t realize that starting this blog a few years ago would have ever been so beneficial. I didn’t think anyone would ever care to visit or read what I had to say! I was honestly scared of failure. But, I have formed a bond with you all and it has been a huge support to me. And it may even be a way for me to help provide for Hayden when I’m not filming. I’m so grateful I just DID IT. I didn’t know HOW. I researched and asked questions of others who have gone before me. And here I am again in life, taking one baby step in front of the other yet again. Somedays, I don’t move at all, but fall. And that is ok. As long as I get back up. That saying, “everything you want is on the other side of FEAR”… well, it’s true. Next up for me: DIRECTING!! WOO-HOO.

4) FREEZE TIME. This is a complicated one, but I’m just going to say it. If you are approaching 40 and have the desire to have a family but don’t yet (I’ve been there and still have that desire to have another one), there are steps you can take with modern medicine. DO IT. I wish I had frozen my eggs in my 30s. This is really a whole other post, but I couldn’t leave out the one thing I wish I had done before I hit 40. If you wanna read a bit more on my journey with this, check out this post here, or here.

5) SERVE OTHERS. Find a way to give back and serve. There are so many ways to do it now…. monetarily sponsor a child, mentor a child or teen, volunteer at your church or local schools or hospitals. I have found one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to give to others. At my most depleted, lowest times when I have no energy and deflated spirit, the BEST thing I can do for myself is help someone else. It renews the soul. It is the highest form of self care when done thoughtfully.

6) PLAN AHEAD. I’ve written posts in the past about financial planning. That research I did and knowledge I’ve gained will come in handy as I’m forging ahead. I look back and think how fortuitous it was that I worked on a financial campaign. But, now it makes sense. I need to heed all the advice I wrote in that blog!! Be smart about your finances. Enjoy life WHILE you are saving.

Ok… that was about all the stuff that popped in my head during traffic yesterday… You know what I would LOVE to hear about from you? What is the one thing you are so PROUD of yourself for doing/making/etc that has helped you out? Think about it and let me know. I bet that list would really benefit each of us! I’ll be reading every comment.

xoxo

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GOLDEN GIRLS THEME

I did some instagram stories recently saying how grateful I was for my friends that have rallied around me when I needed it. I don’t have family here in California, so my friends really are part of my family. And I talked directly to YOU. Many of you have DMd quotes and prayers and showed your unconditional support.

When some of my Bold and Beautiful family found out a super viewer and supporter of the show, Matt Hanvey, was in the hospital, ICU no doubt, we wanted to go support him. That supportive boost can help us stay motivated and energetic in times that could go a different direction. Kelly and Dom are amazing at spreading love around…

Matt and Katherine Kelly Lang. Yes, I wore Dr. Bridget’s lab coat! lol

Matt and Katherine Kelly Lang. Yes, I wore Dr. Bridget’s lab coat! lol

My point in writing this post? Please do not think this is a pat on our backs for something we did. It is not. A reminder how awesome it can feel for all of us to SHOW UP for someone else. And showing up can be via a little note, hug, text, call, prayer or something big like hanging curtains and unpacking boxes! lol Truly, so many people “filled my cup” that I was full enough to send some love and a hug to someone else that day. Not all days are like that for me right now. But the ones that are become much better days. And there in lies the cycle of love. One other point? A little reminder that Matt has a funny twitter feed and instagram meme if you are a fan of soaps! Show him some love! He also contributed HERE on the blog!! It’s been too long… Matt, you need to do another one so get well sooooooon! My favorite thing he said to me later: I can’t wait to get out of here and pay it forward! God Speed!!

Nothing new under the sun here. Just the golden rule about doing unto others…. we learned this in kindergarten and the Golden Girls theme song.

Has someone done something nice for you lately? Paid it forward and encouraged you to do the same? Want to hear cause these are the BEST kinds of stories for a soul boost.

ps- Hi Nathalie!! Matt’s sister is in town working ( and thank goodness can also be with him) and I ran into her yesterday! What are the odds??

xoxo

AAJ

Casey Kasprzyk, me, Matt, Kelly and Dominique

Casey Kasprzyk, me, Matt, Kelly and Dominique

Keep CALM. Eat Chocolate!

HI! UPDATE. IF YOU DIDN’T WIN THE GIVEAWAY BELOW, DON’T FRET. GOOD DAY CHOCOLATE IS GIVING US 25% OFF THE ENTIRE SITE FOR OCTOBER!! USE CODE ASHLEY25. XOXO

Hi you guys… Boy! So many changes happening. I feel like there are curve balls being thrown at me everyday. As I have said in other recent posts, I wanna keep as much continuity in our lives as possible. Being consistent in small daily habits yields big results in the long run. That I know is true whether you are making major life changes, or starting new diet habits.

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Full disclosure, these photos were taken a bit ago. Hayden was starting pre-school and I was making sure he was getting a probiotic and multivitamin everyday. Being exposed to new germs at school and adjusting to a new schedule can throw a toddler off!

We all know that our bodies absorb the outside stress in our lives. Stress from simple things like traveling to major life changes like moving can affect our health. If you’re feeling like anything is “off” with your body, TRY A GREAT PROBIOTIC—- sometimes something that simple with a lot of water can help tremendously. I’m reminding myself of this as much as reminding you!

Hayden gets his yummy probiotic after dinner. It helps keep things regular and moving, if you know what I mean;) Plus, he thinks it’s dessert!

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And for me, a morsel at night helps sleep. The probiotic, turmeric, calm… I’m eating all the good chocolates. I mentioned in my instagram stories recently that you can grab all of their flavors at Whole Foods now!! I was so excited Good Day Chocolate was in Whole Foods. I had to do some stories right there with Huck and Hayden. You can also get them all on amazon.

This brand has been a part of our lives for a while. If you’re new to this blog, check the posts HERE and HERE and HERE. We are real fans. Today I get to share the love…. we’re doing a fun GIVEAWAY with GOOD DAY CHOCOLATES because we just love you all that much!! They are making a generous variety pack for one of you to try all the different products. Make sure you LIKE THIS POST here on instagram and leave a comment here on the blog. That’s it! You’ll be entered. I’m really loving these giveaways. It’s a fun way to connect with you guys and give a little something back. It gives me joy. Hope you are liking them, too!

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COOL KITS, COOL KIDS AND COOL (& crazed) MAMAS

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Hello! Hello?? Anyone there?

Yes, I’m hoping to be back more consistently. Bear with me here, though. Thank you so much for all your support.

Who out there is in full blown back to school mode? I have some ideas for things that might make life easier. And if you are NOT in back to school mode, there are still some things I want to share in this post that you will appreciate! Plus, our friends at Stuck On You are gifting one of you a $100 gift card to start the school year off right. Woo-hoo!!!

KIT LIFE

I stayed at Hayden’s school for his first day of preschool and hung out with him. I had lunch at the toddler table with all his new friends. I quickly realized the lay of the land…. first off, WOW has the lunchbox game improved since I was in school. And I also learned about the funny account @dictatorlunches. I follow her (along with 100K other people) to vacillate between feeling inspired and wanting to throw in the towel with the whole lunch game. Just remember fed is best, but it’s a fun account to follow if you’re doing mom life like us.

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I guess all the cool kids call them lunch kits now. No plastic baggies or individual containers to keep up with, these kits are all you need. I started taking mental notes and learned about the Bento kit. I noticed some of the kids had personalized kits. It was so sweet to see how proud they were to show me their NAME on their stuff.Stuck On You has the best selection. You can get personalized bento lunch kits. It’s a pretty penny, but well-made things that last are worth it. Everything is washable and non-toxic, so you save the planet and money not buying plastic bags (and yay, Earth!). It also comes with two pull out inserts, so you can wash one and use one.

And come nap time, the majority of these kiddos now had roll up nap kits! No slugging blankies and individual pillows. Boy, was I busy online that night looking up stuff. I love this one from Wildkin. But more importantly, Hayden loves it, too. The majority of the other kids already had one, so I figured I needed to look into it.

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STAMP IT

I got Huck and Hayden both individual stamps to label their belongings. Everything from clothes to shoes to books can get labeled with either a permanent ink stamp or washable sticker. It’s frustrating to lose hoodies and socks and things the kids take to school and camp, but don’t always bring back home with them.

I love making my life easier one stamp at a time. lol. All of these items can be found at Stuck On You.

These stamps are so easy to apply. They are perfect for clothing and all fabric type surfaces, so blankets and pillows, too.

I got carried away and ordered the address stamp for me. Thought it’d come in handy with Christmas cards!

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THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE

I talked a great deal about my water filters earlier in the year. If there’s a college bound student in your world, the Home Master Mini counter top filter is such a great send off gift. Give the gift of fresh hydration!! And at right around $50, it’s a no-brainer for anyone that needs a portable water filter that will last a year.

THIRST FOR ENERGY

Between making lunch for the boys and feeding them in the morning, my coffee is often cold by the time I can drink it. I highly doubt I’m alone in this! Have I shared my favorite on-the-go travel mug? It’s reusable, sustainable silicone, non-toxic, dishwasher and microwave safe. So, I can reheat it for the drive to school;) goSili.com $14.95. Love the pink and teal.

I go over all the above and MORE in the latest back to school column in Soap Opera Digest. Don’t forget to grab your copy!

Now, for the fun part! Leave a comment here, make sure you are following @stuckonyouofficial and me @ashleyaubra. That enters you to win $100 gift certificate for all your personalization needs! One winner will be randomly chosen this Friday!

Good luck!

Now… if you want to throw some lunch ideas at me here… I need to up my lunch kit game for the boys! Hayden can’t take nuts of any kind, but Huck can have anything. And please tell me I am not the only one that “samples” everything before I put it in the kit? Those calories don’t count, right?

xoxo

AAJ

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YOU WERE MISSED

LIFE CAN GET HARD SOMETIMES. REALLY, REALLY HARD. Worse that you ever thought possible. DURING THIS TIME, I APPRECIATE THE MESSAGES YOU ALL HAVE SENT while I stepped away from the blog and social media. Thank you for standing by me. Truly, thank you. I MISSED YOU.

IN THE MEANTIME…I really want to get back to connecting with y’all. That’s what is so special about this blog. Plus, personally for me, it is uplifting for many reasons. You all have helped in the past, so here I am again. Would love reminders of coping strategies that have helped you during your most difficult times.

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Today is the beginning of September. It used to be one of my favorite months…all dancing in September, never a cloudy day. In the past few years, this season has proven extremely difficult overall for me. Today is continuing that status quo, but I have a new perspective on life. And a new strength. I will get through it.

As the saying goes:

autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.

What is it you need to let go of? Anything?

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

AND ONE MORE FOR THE LADIES...ROTHYS!

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NOW FOR THE ROTHY’S!!! As promised, I didn’t forget about the ladies when we were doing the kids’ back-to-school shoe giveaway. ONE OF YOU WILL WIN A PAIR OF ROTHY'S OF YOUR CHOICE THIS WEEK. And for the guy readers, dads and men in our lives, there will be a giveaway coming for you, too, soon! (PS- they recently launched children’s shoes, too, so you can pick one pair site wide!).

Just in time for running around during the busy back-to-school season (but if you have no ties to school days anymore, these are just chic, comfy and so on trend for anyone). I know this sounds like a sponsored ad, but it’s 100% NOT. It makes me HAPPY to hopefully see a pair on YOUR FEET! You guys do so much for me, I want to do something to give back to y’all!

My Rothy’s are a staple now in my wardrobe and many of you have converted after hearing me talk about them so often. (Like HERE, and in this post and this post about on set, too!) If you’ve followed along on social for a while, you’re aware of the myriad of reasons I wear Rothy’s. Sustainable fashion (check the amount of recycled plastic they are repurposing on their website), WASHABLE, comfortable, slip-ons… are a few of the reasons. I keep a pair in the car for when I’m walking across studio lots for meetings (then will slip into heels right before I walk in;) These go from day to date night, yoga to school pick-ups. I even wore the sneakers all day at Disney recently. One other quick thing… the petal pink ones in these photos I got when I was pregnant with Hayden. Been washing and wearing ever since. They last!

EASY PEASEY ENTRY:

Make sure you’re following us on social:

@ashleyaubra @rothys on instagram

@ashleyjonesofficial on facebook.

Leave a comment here on the blog. That’s it!

For an extra entry for YOU, tag a friend on instagram in the comments on today’s instagram post or the following one up soon!

Winner will be announced this upcoming week. Good luck! Your biggest issue will be picking which pair!!

xoxo

AAJ

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Back to School- GIVEAWAY

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Start your kids off on the right foot!

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My boys are fans of Pediped footwear. And I’m a fan of the support the shoes give their feet. Huck and Hayden get very excited about these shoes…. we’re hoping you child will be, too. Pediped is GIVING ONE OF YOU A FREE PAIR of shoes to have your child fully “supported” going back to school (and in style). All you need to do is comment below on this blog post! YEP! IT’S THAT EASY. Let them know you have a child that would love a pair of their shoes. These shoes are so well-made, they hold up beautifully. Many of the shoes run $60, so this is an awesome giveaway. PLEASE, PLEASE leave your instagram, facebook or twitter handle so you can be contacted. I will be announcing the winner this week and will let you know via stories on FB and instagram. And will comment back on here on this post with the winner, too. You’ll need to provide the size and style you want, an email and address. ALSO…. DON’T THINK I’M LEAVING the MAMAS OUT… stay tuned for another shoe giveaway this week for from Rothys!!! Yay.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S EVEN MORE…. Pediped is having a fun BACK TO SCHOOL HUNT! Here are details below:

#PEDIPED BACK TO SCHOOL CONTEST: Starts Monday 8/5!
Kids heading back to school, but missing shoes from their school checklist? Follow along and join our pediped.com BTS Hunt to win a pair of shoes for $1! Two winners announced each day through August 9th. GO CHECK IT OUT! ENTER to win there, and HERE on the blog.

On a similar note, I mentioned recently in a post about Hayden (and thumb sucking) that one the reasons I believe Joel is so adamant about Hayden stopping the thumb is because of Huck. Huck started walking on his toes at a very young age. Even with doctors and therapists, stretching and excercies, the toe-walking became a serious habit that is extremely hard for him to break now at 7 years old. Huck is working hard to stop. His feet and legs hurt sometimes and it’s harder to find shoes that fit comfortably. Pediped’s brand is great and very helpful for our situation with Huck. They are sturdy and weighted. Finding shoes that help keep his heels down are paramount!

Good Luck, y’all.

xoxo

AAJ


FERTILITY humility

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Last week, I posted in stories about being at the doctor— again. Although I received concerned questions, I was reticent to say why I was back at the doctor; I feel like a broken record. It’s more fertility stuff (if you’re new here and curious about our journey, search “FERTILITY” in the search bar at the top of the HOME page, or scroll down to the featured posts at bottom of this post). But after a few days, I figured, why not share our struggle via a blogpost?? If there are other people out there feeling the same way, I’d like them to know they’re not alone! I understand the frustration, disappointments, emotional roller coaster, desire and pressure it puts on your marriage.

I feel like this post is a bit redundant, so I apologize. Even if it doesn’t interest you, perhaps you find yourself talking to someone or a family member in the future that it would help. And if you have anything to add, I hope you will leave in comments?! I’ve already learned from you all!

There’s a term in the medical world called “secondary infertility.” Hayden was conceived easily, but the journey to have another child has not been straightforward. This is not for the weary. It’s humbling. But, when I get down emotionally, I take my time away from the world and pray about it. I end up nesting at home, disconnecting from things and even sometimes people. I’m learning this a personal journey with God, Joel and our family unlike any other we’ve ever attempted.

As I start to open up, I’m amazed by the people I know reaching out via email, calling, texting with their own experiences… and even more amazed with people I don’t know emailing through the blog, DMing on social platforms. This life issue is common. It’s a real desire. And as hard as it is to go through, the journey cultivates the virtue of humility.

NEW STEPS I WISH I HAD TAKEN TWO YEARS AGO…

The book I talked about in previous posts, IT STARTS WITH THE EGG, is worth the read if you’re looking to get pregnant. A reader on this blog recommended it to me. Then the doctor reiterated what supplements I need to be taking everyday and I had already read about them in the book, so I was prepared. 

Because many of you have asked for my list, below is my current regimen of supplements and vitamins that I started. From my understanding, these are common during TTC, but once you DO conceive, some should be stopped (DHEA, Co-Q10 especially), so here’s my disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am just sharing my latest bit of knowledge, PLEASE consult your doctor before taking anything as each body chemistry is different. I’ve also recently been told (and read) that a low dose aspirin is helpful, but I have not taken that. I heard from multiple people that taking muscinex can help, but I have not done that, either.

DHEA 75mg/day

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Methyl-folate

Ubiquinol (Co-Q10)

Pre-Natal Vitamin

Vitamin D

Iron rich foods

low caffeine 

Plenty of water

Minimize processed and saturated fatty foods

low sugar

melatonin 


Find what and WHO might help YOU. My doctor recently was my cheerleader. My favorite part of the meeting was when she had to step out and “do something quickly.” She returned with a huge smile, laughing, saying, “That will be you soon; a patient a bit older than you that is well into her pregnancy dropping us a visit.” By the way, I hear there are great support groups on facebook. Anyone know of one in particular?  

xoxo

AAJ

Experiencing Loss

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This past  week was full of loss on different levels. I’m not ready to open up about all of it, but one specific aspect I feel strongly about sharing, even if only one of you needs to hear it.

Before doing so, though, you must know how grateful my family is for all the prayers about my sister’s brother-in-law, Logan Schatte. I’m so happy to report that prayers have been answered. While there still a long road to full recovery, Logan’s young life was spared. Praise God for that. Thank you for those of you that have asked about him. I can’t get back to every DMs, which is why I like being able to communicate on this blog.

While Logan was released from ICU this week, another friend, Jenna Wittman, went into intensive care, but tragically did not have the same outcome. Jenna was a beloved member of the Bell Family, a wonderful makeup artist. I had known Jenna since my first day on Y&R, where I sat in the makeup chair next to her as she did sweet Sabryn Genet’s makeup (see Sabryn’s post HERE). We were close, the three of us. Jenna loved to make others happy, make people laugh.

In recent years, she made up some of your favorite faces on CBS soaps and some talk show hosts. See Melody Thomas Scott’s post about her HERE. And our B&B producer, Casey Kasprzyk, shared HERE.

I could go on and on about things I’d love to reminisce with her over the past few decades: our trip to NY, long days on sets, getting to chat with Stephen King. But that’s my point, memories that keep popping in my mind that I’d like to share with HER, but no longer can… heartbreaking she went so fast, but I know she feels the outpouring of love from those of us left here on Earth. 

Forgive such a sad post, for it should be more of a celebration of a life. What I’m wanting to convey is this: say the things you want to say now, in the living years. And in case you’re like me and need one extra reminder, let some stuff go. Find the beauty in today. If you are experiencing loss or devastation of your own, my heart goes out to you. There’s no great way around it, just through it. Everyone grieves differently, in their own time. And sometimes we grieve what could have been, what should have been. But you are not alone.

THE LORD IS CLOSE TO THE BROKENHEARTED AND SAVES THOSE WHO ARE CRUSHED IN SPIRIT.

Psalm 34:18

Hugs.

xox

AAJ

Fertility Update

Hayden at 2 weeks. How is he about to start PRE-School?

Hayden at 2 weeks. How is he about to start PRE-School?

Hey ya’ll, it’s been a while since I discussed anything about fertility in your 40s, specifically my fertility journey. After reading comments in my post HERE, and the post HERE, I learned a lot about some of YOU that are in a similar boat. I have been thinking about you all, wondering how it’s going??

As most of you know, I started using the ovulation sticks (that I talked about HERE). That was/is helpful for sure, but I know it takes more time at my age.  I read from several of you that took fertility medications successfully.

I asked my doctor about clomid. I took that for three months in a row, along with a hGC shot before ovulation. And….nothing. 

I went back and looked at the comments here on the blog and one of you actually mentioned Letrozole, also called Femara. It was in the back of my brain…then, last month I decided to have a consultation with a specialist. She was very thorough and honest, reticently hopeful. She brought up Femara and a light bulb went off from reading it on the comments from one of you on this blog. So, I switched to that for a month.

Another one of you recommended IT STARTS WITH THE EGG by Rebecca Fett. I had never heard of it before. The book has a ton of good information (and you don’t just have to take our word for it, check out the reviews). It helps keep me feeling proactive, which is extremely helpful. There is a lot of info packed in this book, so my one bit of advice would be not to let it stress you out. It’s an excellent guide. Plenty of info on what the male counterpart can do to help improve sperm quality, too. (Not always easy to get your partner to comply, but worth a try!).

The book has a great guide for all the vitamins and supplements out there that can be helpful for both the male and the female.

I’ve received such good advice from you all. Anything else you can pass along, I’d be so grateful!

And if you are on this road, I’m hoping to read positive notes in the comments!

xoxo

AAJ



Got Kids? TOP THINGS TO DO IN LA WITH KIDS!

Photo: @Ographr

Photo: @Ographr

Top things to do in Los Angeles WITH KIDS— the second part of my VISIT LOS ANGELES series. (See the first post on TOP FREE THINGS TO DO IN LA). The City of Angeles has gems for children that are worth carving out time whether you are a local and looking for fun things to do this summer or year round, or vacationing on the West Coast.

There are many lists out there, but these are my curated picks from the past few years running around LA with Huck and Hayden. Nothing is sponsored, by the way…I’m so often asked these questions, I just decided to jot it all down.

THE HUNTINGTON GARDENS

CHILDREN UNDER 4  ARE FREE.

If you follow me on stories, you see how often we are at “The Gardens.” I truly love the wide open spaces, the unbelievable selection of different gardens and cultures. It is an amazing experience for kids of all ages. My suggestions for first time visitors:

If you live in the area, buy a family membership for about $150 or so. It will pay for itself quickly and you can also bring a guest (there are rules to how many and adults verses kids, please check).

I recommend giving yourself some time if you are paying the day rate. There are several places to eat throughout the gardens, but you could also pack a picnic. If you want to see it all, I would give myself a good 3-4 hours, maybe more. Get a map- there is a lot to see! Make sure you don’t miss the Botanical Garden, the Children’s outdoor museum and the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, where you can also grab a bite to eat on site. The Art galleries are worth visiting, but may be more of an interest to you, not the kids. If your child likes water, there are fountains and streams in the children’s section. I make sure we have a swimsuit that dries easily or a change of clothes. You don’t have to, but the younger ones tend to get wet. We definitely use a stroller for Hayden, FYI. There are stroller and wheel-chair accessible ways throughout the entire garden.

THE SKIRBALL MUSEUM

The Noah’s Ark Exhibit is not to be missed. From my experience, it seems to interest children until the age of around 11 or 12. ADMISSION IS FREE for children under 2 always and FREE for everyone EVERY THURSDAY on a first come, first serve basis starting at 11:45. Huck had the best time here when he was 3, and now Hayden is taking after him. It’s incredibly inventive, educational and historical (even I enjoyed it!). Plenty of activities to keep your interest, keep them occupied (ropes to climb, lightning to “make,” etc), and don’t miss the Family Art Programs.

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Courtsey of Museum

Courtsey of Museum

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

I have heard AMAZING things about this Natural History museum in Los Angeles, so I felt the need to include it. My usual rounds of the Natural Science and History Museum is in Houston with my parents and Hayden, so I added the text from the website. While writing this column, I’m making a separate list to take Huck and Hayden asap and I’ll update this with my thoughts!

Discover your world past and present. See dinosaurs in our new Dinosaur Hall, including the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series. Get the behind- the- scenes look at how scientists work on fossils at our Dino Lab. See 240 specimens, including skeletons from mastodons to whales, animal dioramas from North American and Africa, and more.Stroll through our extensive Nature Gardens, and discover true stories about plants and animals in our Nature Lab. See and touch more than 2,000 spectacular specimens displayed in our Gem and Mineral Hall, and enter into the vault to view diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other exquisite gems. Our Butterfly and Spider Pavilions are open seasonally. Here you can wander through the changing ecosystem with over 30 species of fluttering butterflies all around you, or witness arachnids up close and personal. source: website.

Courtesy of Museum

Courtesy of Museum

Courtesy of instagram/museum

Courtesy of instagram/museum

BACK AT THE BEACH

I’ve talked about how Back at the Beach Cafe is one of my favorite spots in between Santa Monica beach and Malibu before (like in THIS POST HERE). I LOVE it.

PROS: Enjoy lunch while your toes feel the sand. Let the kids play on the playground on the beach right by the patio all in front of the ocean. If you aren’t responsible for any kiddos, btw, sit under the umbrella and enjoy a glass of wine. You are steps away from feeling the water on your feet! It's adjacent to the Anneberg Beach House, which is worth a visit, too.

CONS: Parking. On a good parking day, there’s inexpensive paid parking right in front… on a crowded summer weekend, it takes a long time to find parking and can take a while to get a spot at the restaurant outside on the patio. Indoor seating can be reserved for tables of 6 or more. You can also make reservations through the Anneberg for parking and a pool spot, which I would highly recommend if you want to make a day out of it.

BACK AT THE BEACH CAFE THINGS-TO-DO-IN-LOSANGELES-WITH-KIDS
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FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE

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Right here in LA county, there is a little slice of New England seaside in the Marina called Fisherman’s Village. It definitely has some instagram worthy photo-ops, but I would only make a trip to Marina Del Rey if I was 1) staying nearby or 2) going on a boat ride. The village is still in need of a bit of renovation, however, there’re restaurants and stores open that are charming.

FYI- the Marina is very close to Venice and Santa Monica, as well as LAX. So, if planned properly, could be an easy stop to end the day and watch the boats sail into the sunset.

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

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SANTA MONICA PIER

You’ll most likely get some great photos here, but I describe my reticence in the first segment of these posts HERE. If you’re visiting the area in an off season, I say go! But it gets very crowded otherwise. Still a famous site to see and kids love festival type games and rides, so it’s a must have on this list.


ECHO LAKE PARK

Rent a pedal boat and have a picnic in the park that dates back to 1860! After the extensive renovation, pedal through the lake or walk the path lined with palm trees with the Los Angeles skyline as the back drop. Have a bite at Beacon while you’re there!

LA BREA TAR PITS

LA Brea tar pits-things-to-do-with-kids-in-la

Again, this made the list on the first segment, but it bears repeating here because kids love it. Right here in the HEART of LA, you get to experience the Ice Age. The LA BREA TAR PITS next to the L.A. County Museum of Art is the most significant source of prehistoric fossils ever excavated. These fossils have made their way into museums around the world, but the largest collection is here at the Page Museum. It's free to wander the park and look at the tar pits and outdoor exhibits. During the summer, you can watch the excavators at work

ANGELS FLIGHT RAILWAY

Remember Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams riding this Angles Flight railway in THE NOTEBOOK? Well, maintenance is now complete and it is open! If you have reason to go to Downtown LA, this is a MUST SEE or must ride! I must say I had forgotten about this historical landmark until Katherine Kelly Lang and B&B producer Casey Kasprzyk added it to their Bus Tour! It’ll be one of the best dollars you spend in LA! And totally instagram worthy;)

Image: instagram

Image: instagram

TRAVEL TOWN

When Hayden was barely a month old, we took our first family outing to Travel Town to do something fun for Huck. This is a great space for kids to explore old trains, learn about the rich 150 year-old heritage and roam around. ADMISSION IS FREE. Train rides are a nominal fee (around $3) and really fun for younger kids. Bring a picnic to have a snack at a picnic table. There are limited snacks available on site.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIO TOUR

If your kids are a bit older (at least 8), your family might consider a studio lot tour to see behind the scenes of where the magic happens. This site does a great job at breaking down all the tours in town, prices and age limits. If you are a fan of a show (like FRIENDS, for instance, you might get a kick out of sitting on the couch at “Central Perk!”), take that particular tour! I’ve been on all the lots and seen the tours drive by. Generally, they are all pretty informative and fun. If you keep your eyes peeled, there’s a great chance you’ll see stars of shows walking around. I hear Universal reenacts the plane crash from WAR OF THE WORLDS, has fire, etc—- plus you get to spend the rest of the day at the Universal park! Most people I talk to after they take a tour rave about it! The studios are located all over the city, so make sure you plan your day’s events around traffic and parking.

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Scroll down on my post HERE where I give away a great secret for kids that love music. Many concerts at the bowl have FREE rehearsals during the day with easy (nearly VIP) parking and so fun for the kids to run around and get a “private” day concert.

If you’ve done any of these activities and have some tips, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENTS. I want to continually update this post so it stays current. Looking foward to your thoughts and if you have anything to add.

Happy Summer with the kiddos!!

xoxo

AAJ

MANY FACES and places OF FAGE

FAGE is back sponsoring this blog post...how much do we love our FAGE®? FAGE has become such a staple in our lives. My mom even stocked in her fridge in Texas this week for Hayden because he requested it! I bring it along running errands, to Disneyland (scroll all the way down for photo;), playdates at the park. If we’re planning on eating it sooner than later, I literally throw it in my bag without lugging a cooler. I even included it at the kids’ recent birthday party. I wanted an alternative for parents that didn’t want their kids eating so much sugar. And, although we had great food there, I wanted to make sure I had a quick, healthy, low fat, protein packed snack for me. Especially during set up time before the food arrived. 

We brought quite a few FAGE® Total Split Cups. They were gone at the end of the party! I could not believe how many parents indulged (guilt-free) right along with me, or said they were grateful we had an alternative to cake for the kids. (Just remember to bring spoons if you follow suit.) I loved sharing FAGE with our friends. 

Clearly, by the look(s) on my face, I was grateful to sneak away for one second and enjoy my split cup. My husband thought it was so funny, he wanted a photo of me “taking my moment.” Because I TOOK A MOMENT and indulged. These pictures crack me up. The love is real.  Do you blame me? A 3-year-old and 7-year-old’s birthday! I needed energy. 

Just a bucket of FAGE at Hayden and Huck’s birthday party.

Just a bucket of FAGE at Hayden and Huck’s birthday party.

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A friend at the party came up and mentioned they have the same ones in their fridge. She said her son thinks of them  as dessert! A treat worthy of bribery. She loves how they taste and appreciates how healthy they are! Sometimes her son doesn’t always eat his protein at dinner, but he’ll always have his FAGE

It’s true. I don’t worry so much about Hayden and Huck finishing their meal if they eat yogurt afterward. It’s packed with so many good benefits, it’s covers a lot of the basics. Probiotics, proteins, Vitamin D, etc. 

The split cups are almost like arts and crafts. The boys enjoy folding the perforated seam and pouring the flavored goodness over into the creamy white bowl. Hayden begs me, “let me pour it,” he says. Sometimes, if it’s right out of the fridge, it’s too cold to pour over, so I often set them out as I’m cooking dinner. By the time dinner is over, they are the perfect temperature for Hayden’s little arts-and-crafts-with-food time.

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The last post on the blog about FAGE I described what I like that it DOESN’T have! No GMO’s, growth hormones, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners or preservatives and no added sugars. 

I have to admit, my husband did not want me to substitute the 0% fat FAGE® plain yogurt in our recipes or dishes.  He wanted all the fat of old school sour creams, heavy creams, butters and oils. There is a time and a place for all that, but living your daily life, it’s better to have healthier options. I don’t mind fat. But saturated fat catches up with you quickly. Once I did the swap out, he couldn’t even tell the difference. He loved it!! Substituting with FAGE Greek yogurt, lowers the fat content greatly.  Recently, we’ve made lasagna with 0% yogurt, crustless quiche with yogurt, and I took out sour cream and added FAGE in our homemade burritos (see photo). FAGE now makes sour cream, so don’t be surprised with a new list of recipes coming your way. Have you made the swap?

and ps- I got all your recommended FAGE flavors! (thank you!) Loving my new dessert choices;) What other recipes would you like to see on the blog? Below I’m adding a new mac and cheese recipe that is quick and easy and healthier than the normal ones because of a yogurt substitute. Oh, and it’s sooo good!!

I’m gonna attempt a fat-free cheesecake soon, so I’ll let you know how that goes, but I added the recipe below! HAPPY WEEKEND!!

Recipe is courtesy of ALLRECIPES.COM

Recipe is courtesy of ALLRECIPES.COM

Taking a Greek yogurt break at Disney! lol

Taking a Greek yogurt break at Disney! lol