Thursday, January 19, 2017



THINKING ABOUT: Until yesterday I never dabbled in the wild world of Instagram Stories. I know what you're thinking, "Way to tackle 2017 with gusto, Ash!" In the past, I would open it up out of curiosity, see the dark bags under my eyes and scary forehead wrinkle, then nervously close out of it and proceed to check my profile picture to ensure there wasn't a colorful ring around it. That would mean I published something and we can't have that now can we?? Go on, yuck it up, chuckles! I actually think it was a post I saw on Tuesday with a sign that read "Too old for Snapchat and too young for Life Alert" that inspired me to take the plunge. No, seriously. Naturally, I turned to Lady Google and referred to a tutorial for guidance—as you might expect from a hip and with it 31-year-old woman in Swell Rio. You guys, stop laughing! I love Instagram for the visual eye candy and as a personal forum for me to capture details/moments and edit images, but I'd be remiss if I didn't let others in on the not-so-curated aspects of motherhood and our life in a sleepy border town. For selfish reasons, I'm also pretty excited to use the option as a means of survival these next few weeks. Keeping an eye on a recovering Berner means we're cooped up inside the house a lot more than I like, so I've had to rethink my daily schedule with Max, and some days that makes us all a little stir crazy. Motherhood can feel a bit isolating at times, so why not have fun with it, right?! Now everyone that follows along can get a taste of the REAL Maxwell. Hehe!

THANKFUL FOR: You guys have all been so supportive and encouraging since I shared my feelings about Tripp. I honestly can't thank you enough for the sweet comments, messages, and snail mail. I'm all about embracing my emotions. I've always been a very emotional person and I love a good cry, but I'd be lying if I didn't say this change rocked my world a bit. I know that this is a part of life and it's up to me to press onward and shake the funk, but the more I tried to mask the feelings and push them to the side, the more I realized I wasn't helping the situation. I knew it was bad when I found myself withholding affection from Beesly. How's that even possible?! Quite honestly, I didn't even realize I was doing it, but I was essentially giving her what she needed to help her with her recovery and keeping our interactions to a minimum. I left the snuggling to Flyboy, as she's his best girl (next to me, obvi), and went on with our day. I finally caught myself and felt ashamed, so I shared my feelings with Flyboy. Everything about her made me miss Tripp and desperately wish I could see both dogs together again. To me, they were always a pair and I never pictured life with them individually. Does that make sense, or do I just sound really cold-hearted? Writing, in my experience, helps me work through my feelings and for the first time last night, I was able to really bond with Beesly again and that was a huge relief. I needed to write yesterday's post so I could move forward and embrace the new normal. It doesn't mean that I have to forget about our past, but it's a great reminder to put the lessons Tripp taught us into action and that's to be present and love BIG. Thank you for letting me throw it all that out there. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share.

WATCHING: My sister sent my mom and me this BrenĂ© Brown video (Boundaries, Empathy, and Compassion) last week. I've watched it three times since Aubrey suggested it to us AND took different notes each time. You guys, it's life changing and incredibly insightful! If you get a chance, you've GOT to watch it. As a lifelong people pleaser it spoke to me on a lot of levels, but it mostly left me feeling empowered and confident to say "No, this isn't okay with me." I never set any real goals for the year (Hello, Insta Stories! Ha!), but I think I want to genuinely focus on what BrenĂ© discusses here. It might be a good place to start...

EATING: Aside from eating out a few times on the weekends (Who wants to cook all the time anyway?!), I've planned weeknight meals exclusively using the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook for two weeks straight and there hasn't been a bad recipe yet.

Here are a few of our favorites so far...
(recipe not available on the site, but I'm sure you can figure out the rest)

LISTENING TO: Is that really a crying child I can hear as I pen today's post? His nap hasn't even lasted a full hour. For those of you who have yet to have kids, this is what moms like to refer to as a sick joke. I blame the neighbor's barking hound. Tsk, tsk.

READING: You know that period in between the holidays and last Friday when I wasn't blogging? Yeah, well, I convinced myself I was going to get sooooooooo much reading done, but then I never got around to it. Sigh. Would somebody tell me what I did with all of that free time?! Because I definitely wasn't working out either. Oops! My mom got me Lauren Graham's Talking as Fast as I Can for Christmas. Has anybody read it yet?! I'm FOR REAL going to read it this time. #PRIORITIES

LOVING: Dr. Jart's Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment has got me *almost* believing I could go foundation free. My complexion has always been something I've struggled with, so the last sentence says A LOT! Very rarely do I go without makeup, and I never believed I would feel comfortable doing so, but the voodoo magic that comes from this jar is crazy good. Just the tiniest bit of this green cream goes a long way and manages to even out my redness and scarring. I currently use it as a primer paired with IT Cosmetics CC Cream. Maybe one day I'll work up the courage to go without the latter?

Enough about me. How are you feeling today? What are you up to? Thanks for stopping by!! 
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017



I typically look forward to putting these posts together and sharing snippets of our Swell Rio life with you, but ever since my last installment in December, I've wanted to avoid today's post altogether. It would be easy to hide behind snazzy graphics featuring the latest and greatest pom-pom find, but that's not very realistic either. Today's update means I finally have to acknowledge that our little family has changed, and if you've been hanging around here long enough, you know I really HATE change.

We left Missouri on December 27th for Texas after spending the holidays with my in-laws. Our goal was to make it to Austin in time to pick up the new Volkswagen (Squeee! Name TBD.) we purchased before Christmas, and then prepare ourselves for a promising 2017 by taking down the twinkle lights, cleaning out the clutter, and spending quality time together — just the five of us. You could say that 2016 had its moments and we were ready to bid the blah adieu. So, when we finally arrived at home on the 29th, Flyboy and I unpacked both cars feeling more hopeful and eager than ever. As I threw dirty laundry in the washing machine and tended to a stir-crazy toddler, FB headed straight to the kennel and picked up our sweet pups. Oh, how we missed them!

Looking back, I think FB and I were so happy to be home and in business mode that we were also blissfully unaware of what the next 24 hours would entail. Our primary goal was to get groceries the next day and then spend the remainder of it relaxing in the living room as a family. We went to bed that night with a game plan, but little did we know that I'd spend the bulk of the evening with Tripp in my bathroom petting him as he yacked repetitively and his body shook. Since FB is a deep sleeper, he didn't realize what was going on, so the next morning I explained what had happened and we decided we'd pick up some rice and bananas to feed Tripp for the next few days in the event he had an upset stomach. This bland diet seemed to have done the trick countless times before, but later that afternoon when we came home from the grocery store, it was evident that our dear Golden wasn't well. He dropped to the ground when he went outside to relieve himself and he could barely keep water down. I remember looking at FB with tears in my eyes and said "This can't be good." He did his best to put on a brave face and immediately contacted the vet. Thankfully, the new facility in town was able to get us in and 1.5 hours later Tripp would be seen by a doctor. We felt a great deal of relief for approximately 20 minutes. That was, of course, until we both started noticing that Beesly was limping and wouldn't put any weight on her good rear leg. Sick to our stomachs, we gazed at one another in disbelief. Almost two years ago to the day, she had surgery on her opposite leg. NOT AGAIN! Not today. Did she really throw out the other leg as well?! At that point, we didn't know which dog to worry about, so FB called the vet again and asked if both pups could be seen by the doc and they willingly agreed to accept both of our fur kids, even under such short notice. In Swell Rio, this is what you call a blessing.

As all of this went down, Max was taking his afternoon nap. With days of irregular sleeping and no schedule, he was out for the count. So, while he slept, I helped FB load both pups into the car. I honestly didn't know what to expect with Beesly, but in my heart I knew we'd have to say good-bye to Tripp far sooner than I ever hoped. I think I was trying to prepare myself for the worst. But, despite my gut feeling, FB assured me that it would all work out and he kept a smidgen of hope alive—because that's what a best friend and husband is really good at in times like these. But as the three of them drove away, I felt guilty that FB had to take them both by himself. However, I knew I wouldn't be much help lugging around our wily tot, so I stayed back at the house and waited anxiously for updates. Within thirty minutes of their arrival, they ran a blood test on Tripp and everything looked good, but they wanted to ensure both he and Beesly have x-rays taken as well. We essentially knew with Bees that we'd be doing the whole ACL surgery all over again (ka-ching, ka-ching), but Tripp remained a wild card. The fact that nothing showed up in his blood test made both of us feel really good (no cancer, right?!). So, upon learning that good news, Max finally woke up and we ventured to a nearby park to keep the two of us mentally (me) and physically (him) preoccupied. I still recall a period that afternoon where I managed to stop crying for five whole minutes and I actually enjoyed pushing my son on the swing. That reprieve from the sadness felt really good. In that moment, I felt present with a glimmer of promise and I imagined FB would follow-up shortly with another phone call telling me everyone was coming home and that a hefty vet bill would be our biggest concern. Unfortunately, it didn't end up happening like that. No, the heartbreak in FB's voice as he explained Tripp's enlarged esophagus and pneumonia said it all. At 13 years old, it only made sense when the vet advised us to put our beloved boy down that evening, but we agreed that the five of us needed to be together as a family when we made that decision. Shaken by the reality of the moment, I strapped Max into his car seat and we met FB at the vet clinic to say good-bye one last time.

It's been a little over two weeks since he passed, and I think a lot about our final moments together. The pain and sadness that filled the room that Friday night still catches up with me from time to time. Actually, it catches up with me a lot. I'm kind of embarrassed by how much I miss my dog. Maybe it's the way Max tells me that "Boy was hurt" followed by "Boy went bye-bye", or maybe it's in the little habits like always getting out two dog bowls and treats? I wonder when I'll stop expecting him to be on my side of the bed when I wake up each morning, or look toward the patio window each afternoon hoping I'll find him basking in the sunlight? I guess there's something to be said about the fact that I spent more time with Tripp in the last eight years than anyone else in my family. That's crazy when you stop and think about it, isn't it?! How lucky was I?? Sigh. I see FB grieve differently and it seems as though he's moved on, and I question why I'm not there yet. Tell me, why do guys always get to be so emotionally put together? And if I'm being completely honest, I also worry about the day I stop looking for Tripp and my routine with him becomes a distant memory. That scares me. I think about how fiercely I loved this dog, and it makes me fear the moment I have to part with others I hold dear to my heart. I catch myself thinking about how badly this hurts and it all gets too overwhelming. It makes me want to put up a guard, but if there's anything Tripp taught me, it's that so much goodness can come from learning to trust and love fully. Whenever the sadness creeps in, I try to remind myself that Tripp's life really began the moment he stopped being afraid and he allowed himself to embrace the love that surrounded him.

Most of the photos in today's post have nothing to do with Tripp's death—many were taken before that fateful day and a handful after—but I think he'd agree that the colorful images are evidence of a life worth living well, something he grew accustomed to in the eight years we were together. I'll always take great pride in knowing that we gave him a second chance at life, and I'm forever grateful he gifted us with his trust in return.

If you're interested in reading more about Tripp's story, be sure to check out this post.

P.S. The photo of Beesly on her bed was taken a day after Tripp passed away. Max wanted "Boy" to lay with her. 
Additionally, the photo of Max on the swing was taken moments before FB called us and informed us we should join him at the vet.
Oh, and if it wasn't clear that I abhor change, take a look at the new BLACK wagon. Yep, it's essentially The Rig 2.0.

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Friday, January 13, 2017


Let's get right to it, shall we?
Here's what made me feel all twitterpated, smile contagiously, giggle uncontrollably, etc.

  • Illustrations by Kate Worum // For the past 1.5 months, I've been stalking Kate's shop in hopes it opens again and I can buy one of her pieces. Of course her portrait of Iris Apfel is at the top of my wish list. It's HEAVENLY!!
  • Striped Boatneck Tunic with Tie // So fresh and so clean — something about this number screams HAPPY NEW YEAR!
  • Stationery Maven Key Tag // Yoo hoo! Fellow snail mail enthusiasts, it's time we own our passion for paper and pens.
  • Keep Doing You // I didn't get around to making a resolution, but my primary goal can be summed up in this note card.
  • Nate Berkus Gold Mirror // Something tells me I'm going to need to add this beauty bargain to my vanity and STAT.
  • Hot Lips Lipstick // Has anyone tried Tilbury's happiness in a tube?! Everyone raves about Secret Selma. Thoughts?!
  • Beaded Tassel Earrings // Okay J.Crew, you totally had me at tassels and the dreamy shade FUCHSIA BLOOM. Swoon!
  • St. Tropez Mini Tote // Worry not, I'm just as obsessed with pom-pom embellishments as I was last year and the year before... Perhaps this adorable piece will be added to my arsenal next?? The size and shape are squeal-inducing.
  • Sudoku1601 by Jennifer Sanchez // I couldn't help but get all googly-eyed when I saw this wonder. Just look at the stripes and schmears of vivid colors. Leave it to Sanchez to suddenly convince me I'm a fan of numbers and geometry.
  • Priming Moisturizer Rich // I can't even tell you how excited I am to try this face cream. The reviews are impressive.
  • Seaweed Pillow // Let's discuss that papaya hue with the metallic copper trim, shall we? Hubba Hubba! My beloved Matisse gets a modern spin with this shimmery squiggle design. I don't think I could love this pillow more if I tried.
  • Marble Round Cheeseboard // The black-and-white stripes make this introvert want to moonlight as hostess. Tonight!
  • Suede Pom-Pom Sandals // Arrrrgh! The Texas temps are so confusing this time of year. I'm not ready to say good-bye to sweaters, but sandals like these make spring and summer look awfully enticing. And those punchy pom-poms, tho...

Happy Friday, m' dears! Make this weekend count.
P.S. I'll be back next Wednesday with a dose of Life's Little Details.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016



As we wrap up 2016 with an adorable grosgrain bow and go our separate ways for the holiday season, it's important for me to express my gratitude to you. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! Your support this past year has meant everything to me. You stop by often, humor my ramblings on motherhood with words of encouragement, discuss silly shenanigans like the housewives on Bravo, and delight in all things fabulous like pom-pom trimmed pillows and the snazziest of ballet flats.

Cheers to a sparkly and snazzy holiday season. Let's catch up in 2017, shall we?

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016



Happy Wednesday, m' dears! We hit the road this morning around six and began our trek to Missouri for the holidays. Woo hoo! The past week has been a whirlwind, so it's nice to know we were able to check all the to-dos from our list and hit the road as planned. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat, so I'll keep today's post short and sweet and let the photos do most of the talking. Aside from saying good-bye to The Rig last Saturday and eating an unhealthy amount of sugar cookies to cope with her departure, we made a handful of trips to the park, finished wrapping presents, and I got the family packed in as few bags as possible. While I'm still not sure how many scarves and sweaters will be enough to survive the frigid temps up north, I do know that a certain two-year-old boy was incredibly giddy when we gifted the garbage men with sweet treats yesterday morning. I'll chalk that up as a win!

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