Isabella was born without any birthmarks, but, after a few weeks we noticed a small, flat, red spot on her head. The NICU team assumed it was agitation from her CPAP hat so we switched her breathing assistance to give it a break from rubbing. After looking closely, her primary nurse and I determined it didn’t look like skin breakdown but more of a permanent spot. She threw out the thought, “oh she’s probably got a hemangioma!” I, of course was terrified looking up images (after learning to say/spell it).
My worst assumption ended up coming to fruition, Bella has a large hemangioma that looks every bit as scary as some of the ones I saw with my search. Simply put, it’s harmless, is considered a vascular birthmark, should go away as she grows, and is a collection of blood vessels. We did an MRI to rule out any issues and it’s completely superficial and cosmetic. Long story short, we choose not to treat it a few months ago. We got a second option from a pediatric dermatologist and heard from many neonatologists who treated Bella. We felt that was the right decision and that we would embrace it until things needed addressed. Until…
Why is her birthmark a problem?
Sadly, after being readmitted to the NICU we noticed 3 more teeny red dots/beginning of hemangiomas on her tummy/chest. They are elevating but don’t look scary yet. We were advised to follow up with dermatology to reconsider treatment. When there are 5, it’s recommended to begin treatment because there’s higher risk of internal ones. Internal ones can cause issues with major organs. The large one on her head is also growing rapidly. So, we were waiting for August 9th for her appointment when we noticed the birthmark changing color. I knew these things could ulcerate (skin breakdown), but hadn’t seen signs before. I’m so glad I trusted my intuition. I immediately contacted our dermatologist who confirmed with images it is beginning to ulcerate. 🙁 We began treating it with antibiotic cream and see him on Monday. (He offered the next day but we felt Bella needed to rest after going through so much). He said ulceration could be extremely painful. I’ve seen what they look like when they break down and it’s very painful looking.
What’s next? Isn’t it an easy fix?
We will begin treatment with a drug called propranolol. This medication inhibits the growth of blood vessels and constricts current ones. This is hard for us as Bella is the size of a newborn (7lbs 12 ounces) and the thought of messing with her blood pressure/cardiovascular system terrifies us. That being said, with monitoring her blood pressure and vitals this treatment is safe and effective. It’s very commonly used. We don’t want the ulceration to get worse and we certainly don’t want to worry about internal hemangiomas!
I, personally would also like to prevent the others from getting to the size of her larger one. Since they’re on her chest/stomach they could interfere with her tummy time or gtube. After talking to the doctor, we decided to do a liver ultrasound just to confirm there aren’t any hemangiomas there. So, on Monday we’ll be trekking to Akron Children’s for her appointment and ultrasound.
1.) This birthmark doesn’t ulcerate any further and that with treatment we can avoid pain and discomfort.
2.) Bella tolerates the medication.
3.) That we would be able to handle the magnitude of treating such a little one with such a serious prescription. That we would be extra careful with doses and track it well.
4.) Also, pray against any internal hemangiomas. We have no reason to believe she has any, but it is a possibility.
There are many times I just feel too overwhelmed to write or don’t have enough time. Life moves on and then I deeply regret not documenting an amazing experience properly. I made a promise to myself to simply get one blog post up about our trip to Ireland. So, even if I don’t make it back to share specific stories or breakdown each and every day of the trip, there are highlights.
I always feel a little uncomfortable sharing pictures of traveling. It feels strange and sometimes humble-braggy. That being said, I’ve been posting trips/experiences to my blog and then sharing so those who aren’t wanting to see 1,000 pictures of the castles we stayed at can avoid them. For those who are interested in every details of our trip (What were the free toiletries in the castle room? What did you eat in Belfast? Is Galway really that incredible? Is Ed Sheeran still a big deal?) feel free to follow along on this site!
One last note: Dustin and I value travel and make it a priority in our life. We save our money and work extra hard to be able to afford this luxury. Seeing an amazing trip like this is sometimes a reflection of taking on a cheaper mortgage, driving a less-than-ideal vehicle, or asking for cash for Christmas and saving it for over a year. It’s also a reflection of Dustin working extra jobs and saying “no” to other things in life. This trip was definitely an investment and one we budgeted for! We’ve been planning a trip to Europe for a few years. Today is the first day home and I can honestly say I’m ready begin saving and working hard to make the next one happen! Like Dustin said, “I feel most alive when traveling and having new experiences.” I agree, and blame my family for giving me the travel “itch.”
Why Ireland? A Little Context
A few months ago we found out I was pregnant! This was such an exciting time for us. We had been planning and hoping for this baby! As soon as we found out, we decided it was a sign to use our money we had been saving to purchase a trip to Europe. A babymoon of epic proportions! I had been researching trips and packages for over a year and was torn between Ireland and Italy. After looking at Groupon and comparing pricing/timing, we decided Ireland would be the perfect place to take our unborn baby and enjoy each other before we became parents. (It also helped that I had become obsessed with the movie Leap Year and listened to Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran on repeat for months.) Ireland was the perfect setting for a pregnant momma. It was laid back, gorgeous, and the food was simple.
We booked a 7 night trip through Great Value Vacations that included staying 6 nights in castles and 1 night on the flight to Dublin. I paid extra to make sure I was in my second trimester to avoid getting sick or any issues. I ordered a billion travel books from Amazon and began planning. As I called to confirm our trip I proudly proclaimed I was pregnant to the travel agent and that this was our babymoon!
Unfortunately, a few weeks later the worst happened. I found out I would miscarry our first child. Our little ladybug left us at 8-9 weeks. It was heart-wrenching. One of the worst experiences of my life. I would just cry and cry. This baby was so wanted. I know God had a plan for us. In the midst of the darkness I remembered we had booked a trip. Throwing the baby books aside and having Dustin hide all the baby things in the basement, I opened travel book after travel book and began planning our trip to Ireland, down to the last detail. I made a plan to honor our little one at the Cliffs of Moher and tried to talk myself into the positives. (At least I can have Guinness, right? I can ride a horse.) The positives seemed bleak compared to still carrying our special little baby.
Nonetheless, we carried on and our trip came quickly! Whenever I would want to cry and think of our baby, I would, and then I’d get on Pinterest and look up “Best Restaurants In Dublin” or “Top Things To See In Galway.” It helped tremendously to get my mind off the mourning.
The last few months have been dark. Without going into too many details, our life has been hard. Stress and hopelessness seemed to chase at our heels and it was a difficult time. In one week we heard some great news that brought us to the week leading up to Ireland. Life seemed to be looking up and we were headed on a vacation. At times I even regretted making the reservation because life was hard and traveling seemed stressful. We prayed and decided it was best and that God wanted us in Ireland for the week. I waited to pack until the night before. I was printing our hotel vouchers the day of.
Our Dream Trip To The Emerald Isle
When some people say a trip of a lifetime was perfect, I always believe they are lying. I know that’s a terrible thing to say and feel, but it’s true.
Surely while on that safari in Kenya there was a hiccup and you got food poisoning and stayed on the toilet the whole trip? Oh, Thailand was so wonderful? I bet you missed a flight and ended up wearing the same underwear five days in a row because your luggage was lost. See? I guess I want to believe it wasn’t perfect because nothing in life is and it seems too good to be true. Also, you were in Thailand and Kenya, surely you experienced some small inconvenience. It’d only be fair since you have perfect skin, your husband makes a 3 figure salary, and your children look like angels.
BUT, I must admit, our trip to Ireland was perfect. Perfect in the sense that God met us where we needed Him to meet us and showed us favor and mercy. It was custom tailored to US and in every detail, whether planned or unplanned, it was perfect. The entire time I felt God’s presence. He was so gracious with me and walked alongside us. I felt like He was there with us, experiencing the Cliffs of Moher or sitting at the pub talking with a bartender about the politics in America. Oh, how we tried to honor him. Oh, how I tried to take every minute in, not waste a second. But, in the midst of things, there were small inconveniences. I wasn’t always patient, we struggled to find a good sleep pattern, my skin broke out from the long plane ride, we didn’t spend as much time as we wanted at the Cliffs, and an elderly man in front of me on the longest flight from London to Washington had the worst gas imaginable.
Then there were the moments. The moments where you’re standing at the Cliffs of Moher and can’t breathe because it’s so beautiful and you’re praying aloud to honor the One who made it and you’re crying because you’re exhausted and you miss your baby who died and you wish life would be like this every day but it’s an isolated incident and you’ll be back home in a week and taking out the cat litter and returning calls to confirm your dentist appointments.
And then there are moments you’re walking around Galway and music fills your ears and you’re feeling free and want to move here and escape every day pressure and your husband is buying you a Claddagh Ring and you’re living out your dream life.
You’re walking up to a castle, a CASTLE, with a helicopter pad, and there’s a fancy tea room and you’re drinking tea while looking out at the green grass and laughing because you don’t know how to drink a special drink that’s mini and topped with a purple macaroon that is probably worth $6. (The server brought us mini spoons).
But there are moments you’re tired. You’re tired of driving or spending money or each other and then you feel guilty because you’re in IRELAND, and you get on Facebook and see your mom is hanging out with your nephew and you just kinda want to be home instead of a castle…which doesn’t make much sense unless you believe that family is most important in life and know that life is precious and Jaxson is already growing so fast.
So, yes, our trip was magnificent. It was perfect, it was picture-esque, but not always. It was an investment, and investment in our health, both emotionally and physically, and our relationship. I think we got the most of our money, don’t you? Please enjoy these pictures and small storytelling. Please share in our joy over this wonderful opportunity/experiences. And yes, Ed Sheeran is definitely still a big deal there!
Now, by now you all know I jump at every opportunity that lets me step foot in a salon. Salons and spas are my happy place. I love zoning out into perfect relaxation while talking about the latest beauty news and getting pampered. Lucky for me I know plenty of beauticians that allow me this guilty pleasure. One of those wonderfully talented friends is Lisa Schoonover. Last Sunday at church Lisa approached me and asked me to check out her salon and her Bare Minerals makeup line.
Now, I was excited because 1. I got to play with makeup and 2. I would get to know this special woman better! We scheduled our time for Thursday evening at 5:30pm. Lisa was so sweet and promptly sent me a confirmation through Reflections, her salon, to my cell phone.
After a busy day that included driving all the way to Columbus (an hour away) and back, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed over to get my beauty on. A quick Google search showed that Reflections Hair Design was located in the West Park Shopping Center on Park Avenue just a short drive from my house. I was surprised when I saw the location because I had never seen the salon. In fact, I didn’t even know a salon was in the shopping center. All I remembered was that I took my driving lessons and tests there. I drove up and it took me a few minutes to scope out the location.
When Lisa explained that Reflections was a great Mansfield secret, she wasn’t kidding!
The salon is back a bit next to China Club, a restaurant in the strip mall. It took me a few checks to make sure there was a sign. It’s hidden back a bit, but it says “Reflections.” Based on the sign, I thought the salon might be small and not too busy. It was hard to see if there was any movement inside, but as I walked up to the door, a new energy and burst of excitement greeted me!
The front desk was well decorated with an inviting drink dispenser filled with lemon water. I was welcomed by the lady at the front desk and she promptly confirmed my appointment with Lisa. She asked if I needed anything to drink and I asked for some water. I was surprised when she asked if I wanted bottled or lemon. I currently can’t have a lot of lemon, so it was a nice option to have bottled water. I made myself at home and filled out a new client form while glancing around the salon.
The space was well designed and welcoming. Colors like sage green and gold filled the space. I overheard lots of women talking and even a younger man getting his hair cut. Everyone seemed at home. A large display showcased Paul Mitchell products and other displays showed off Bare Minerals makeup. There were some magazines and I picked one up and took a deep breath. It was nice to have a few minutes to myself.
Before long, Lisa came and welcomed me while escorting me back to the makeup space. There were a few different stools at the makeup counter and Bare Minerals was center stage. I got a big sparkle in my eye as soon as I saw all the different colors and formulas. There were blushes, powders, skin care, lipsticks, glosses, and more.
Lisa walked me through the entire Bare Minerals skincare line. She allowed me to try all the different products while asking about my current beauty regimen. I really appreciated how she listened to my skin concerns (acne) and made me feel relaxed and assured. I came with a full face of makeup on, so I used the Bare Minerals Pure Plush Gentle Deep Cleansing Foam cleanser to get it off. The cleanser was fresh and Lisa helped me get my eye makeup off.
Next, we applied both Skinlongevity, which helps with aging skin, and True Oasis, an oil-free moisturizer gel. I loved the feel of both on my skin and felt they worked well together. I know you’re never too young to begin improving your skin! The Skinlongevity I felt could easily help prevent wrinkles and the True Oasis felt refreshing and smoothing on my acne-prone skin. Since applying both, my skin felt prepped for foundation.
Next, Lisa applied a foundation primer to my skin. She asked what type of coverage I liked and I explained my long history with oily skin and breakouts. We talked about skin troubles, hormones, and even embarrassing facial hair.
Lisa surprised me because she had so many suggestions and tips I hadn’t heard of!
She suggested using a product called Tend Skin for my neck where in-grown hairs could cause blemishes and cysts. Who would have thought? She also explained the different foundation types offered from Bare Minerals. For me, a heavier liquid foundation with concealer was the perfect choice.
Bare Minerals has a blemish remedy line that is specially formulated for those of us with acne. Lisa explained to me that the different ingredients work to treat pimples while offering coverage. I liked this idea! I hate wearing heavy makeup that makes my skin break out worse. The Mattifying Prep Gel worked as both a foundation primer and a treatment gel.
At this point, I realized I hadn’t taken a before picture! Lisa had already began adding concealer to my bigger blemishes and working with a product that helps with tired eyes. I told her, I’m a beauty blogger/writer. I’m confident! You have to show women the before so they know why the after rocks!
The Blemish Remedy concealer worked fabulous to cover up my red spots. “Formulated with aspen bark and tea tree oil to promote clearer, healthier-looking skin, it’s also enriched with aloe to soothe and hydrate skin and clay minerals, which absorb excess oil and reduce shine,” says Sephora. At only $22, this was a product that I really loved and would like to purchase in the future.
Another product Lisa used on me that I hadn’t ever heard of was Well Rested. This is a face and eye brightener. It felt wet and refreshing when she outlined both my eyes with it. Light reflecting minerals in the formula help you look wide awake!
The brushes from Bare Minerals are of exceptional quality. This brush that Lisa used to blend my foundation was heaven. It felt really soft and the application was very smooth. They also have seasonal gold ones, which I almost splurged on myself.
Lisa was smooth and very knowledgable. She explained every step and showed me the colors she used. The three main products for skin were: primer, concealer, and foundation.
Once my complexion was looking perfect, she moved on to color! This is always my favorite part. Lisa did a smokey eye look with a bright lip. She worked the mineral blush flawlessly and blended the shadows to perfection. What I loved about the Bare Minerals eye shadows were that they came with directions on where to place them on your lids.
Purples brought out the blue in my eyes and were accented with a pencil eyeliner.
The Big Debut set, a shimmery champagne rose gold and purple, were the main shades she used.
The lip color was a mix of lipstick and Moxie gloss. Pricing for the glosses and lipsticks was very affordable. If I’m in need of a new shade, I would easily run over to Reflections and check out all the colors they have in stock. Lisa also explained that during different seasons there are sets that are sold together.
My new look! I felt fresh and beautiful. I didn’t feel overly made up. I felt pretty. The look lasted until I took it off later that night. The only product that I didn’t feel was “for me” was the mascara. I liked the way the application looked and the options Bare Minerals offered, but my lashes are long and it smeared a bit as I was lounging on the couch. I usually use Lancome Definicils or They’re Real! by Benefit. The gloss, which Lisa layered upon the lipstick had a minty feel and smelled delicious.
At the very end, Lisa gave me a whole tour of the salon. I was encouraged to hear about the salons dedication to continuous learning. Lisa began work at the salon when she was just 19 years old. Since then, she’s tried a few other salons in the area but came back to Reflections. To her, it’s her family. It’s home. You can tell she has a mastery of the beauty resources and trends. Many of the ladies at church swear by her hair color knowledge and her hair is always on point!
As for Reflections, the salon has been around since the 1960s and has it’s own rich history. A quick glance on Yelp will show you many different locals have been coming to the salon for years. Some clients have moved away and still drive to see their preferred stylist. That’s beauty dedication!
Amy Forrest, who I later found out owns Reflections was also in on Thursday. Just like the rest of us, she was getting her beauty on. With her hair back waiting on color, she popped up and warmly welcomed me. Anyone could see why Lisa loves working at Reflections.
Amy was a bright and fun person. I wouldn’t mind interacting with someone like that on a daily basis! She made sure I was doing well and complimented me on my makeup. She inquired about my blog and took a lot of interest in me. Even though she’s a pretty awesome lady, she made me feel like I was the star of the show. I bet she makes every visitor feel the same. (Also, her curls are perfection).
Before heading out, Lisa and I talked about “shines” for hair and also facials perfect for acne-prone skin. I was mentally thinking through my beauty budget and wanting to make an appointment for one of her facials. I also learned that the salon does special event makeup, eyelash extensions, and much more (click here for service list and pricing). Lisa gave me a sample of the Skinlongevity.
Still loving the smooth feel of my skin from the skincare she used, I inquired about the price of the True Oasis Oil-Free Replenishing Gel Cream. At only $32, I didn’t even blink. I purchased it and was on my way, knowing my skin would feel smooth and my makeup would lay well until I ran out or visited Reflections again.
Lisa is not new to makeup and skincare, but currently she’s newer to the Bare Minerals line. She invited me to check out the salon and what she offers. It was exciting to receive a makeover in exchange for writing about my experience. I could get used to this! I would highly suggest a makeup lesson with Lisa if you’re new to makeup or are wanting a makeup line that’s designed for acne. I was honestly hesitant when I heard Bare Minerals because I’ve tried it before and not liked it. I had tried their mineral foundation and some of their highlighters.
The products Lisa used offered more coverage than I had tried and she applied the blush in a way that made a statement! If you go to Reflections you can be matched for foundation for free and buy it on site. The have a large selection of all shades.
If you’d like makeup application for a special night out with the girls or a date with your man, try the Makeup Application with Lisa for $45. If you’re wanting more of a lesson, where you’ll learn tricks and tips, try the Makeup Application and Lesson for $65. This is more of the service I received and I believe it would be worth every penny. This is also perfect for any young lady in your life that wants to learn about makeup and how to apply it correctly. Lisa isn’t in the salon on Saturdays, but there are many other talented makeup artists that can do bridal makeup. This service is $50.
I was able to ask questions like “Why do you need a primer?” and “How do you match the shade for your brows?”
For more information about Reflections, their pricing, and to make an appointment visit them online here. You can also call them at 419-529-3535. The salon is a little hidden, but if I can find it, so can you at 1215 Park Avenue West in the West Park Shopping Center.
Love & Laughter,
Even though Lisa gave me my makeover for free, all the opinions and reflections are my own. I was not monetarily compensated for this post.
Drove 2 hours from Mansfield, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan
Flew about 9 hours from Detroit, Michigan to Amsterdam, Netherland
Waited in Amsterdam for about 3 hours
Flew from Amsterdam, Netherland to Vienna, Austria
Drove from Vienna, Austria to Veszprem, Hungary
How could you not love sitting and watching unlimited movies while people bring you food for eight hours?! We didn’t feel packed in like sardines and actually traveled very well. There wasn’t a lot of room to spread out, but we made ourselves comfy and I made sure to wear leggings. I also wore a long sweater with a t-shirt underneath. I took it off when it got warmer on the plane. Dustin wore a hoodie and a comfy soft t-shirt underneath. We both wore our ExOfficio travel undies that we bought years ago when we were planning on moving to India. These are great for wicking away moisture and are very comfy.
I watched Brave and Trainwreck on the plane. (One was much better than the other). I didn’t sleep but only for about twenty minutes. Dustin watched some other movie with Will Smith.
We really enjoyed the meals! We received a pasta dish with a side salad, bread, cheese, and a cookie. We were also offered unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non). To be honest, we just drank lots of water. In the morning I think we had orange juice. The snacks were also great. When I flew to Africa 6 years ago, I didn’t remember receiving so much bottled water, but it’s a newer thing and you can get cold water whenever you want. You are also gives your own eye mask, headphones, and a blanket. I was surprised we weren’t given toiletries. I was given a toothbrush and other little things when I flew six years ago. For Europe, we didn’t have to fill out a form while on the plane either, which was nice.
What we did do was bring out own snacks and comfort food. We had goldfish, chocolate, and trail mixes. I put a great mix of snacks in smaller quart sized baggies and hid them all around our luggage.
I also wiped down all the areas on the plane with Wet Wipes to disinfect the space.
There are so many gross germs on planes. It was nice to make sure our personal space was clean and germ-free. We used these wipes throughout the trip.
It was nice because we broke the trip up a bit. We stayed in a hotel the night before flying out. We also stayed two nights in Vienna when we landed in Austria. My dad and his bride met us there. We landed around 6:00pm, but it felt so much later to us. Dad and Jutka took us across the street to our hotel.
It is the only hotel at Vienna airport and is called NH Wien Airport. It reminded me of our Hiltons in the U.S. It was very nice and even had a Nespresso machine in it for espresso! The strangest thing about the room was that the bed had two different sets of covers. The sheets weren’t covering the entire bed. There was a set folded on one side and one set on the other. My dad explained that this was a European thing to do.
We ate at the airport across the street, had coffee at an airport cafe, and then slept.
My latte was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tried. Here is a picture of it:
The next morning Jutka and Dad showed us all around Vienna.