“Just us 3” Family Photoshoot

3 of Us in the Front Door

3 of Us Brand Fam in the Front Door

Thanks to the most wonderful friend and photographer Luis we got totally authentically us shots. We are so happy with the results and it was a ton of fun. Iza kind of hates getting her picture taken, so it was even more fun to see that the photoshoot was of a happy Iza.

Thank you to Bubby for the incredible DKNY tye dye dress that matched mine. It worked out so great. And to Luis for the patience and outrageous results. Perfect! And to Kurtis who I adore and who definitely only did this because it was important to me.

The reason for the shoot is more than just documentation: This shoot is part of my Bells Palsy recovery process to accept my permanent state and capture everything on camera to remember the moment. With Iza in the belly we have maybe 10 photos total from 6 months on because I was too overwhelmed every time I saw my face staring back at me. Now at 90%, it feels like the acceptance has come from a place of personal power. It was so much fun to take these shots and I see true joy in all our faces in the results. I really am so grateful to all my friends and family who have given me positive affirmation over the last 2+ years during recovery. Thank you!


From our Photographer Luis Pedro Gramajo: Un día lleno de sonrisas, amor y creatividad con esta hermosa familia, ya están listos para recibir al nuevo miebro de la familia… Los Brand son una familia muy divertida y sobre todo creativa, son fuera de lo común y estoy seguro que esta nueva vida que está siendo puesta en sus manos va a aprender disfrutar la vida cada moneto, espero que les guste…

Translated to English: A day full of smiles, good energy and love with this beautiful family, they´re ready to receive the new member of the family… The Brand’s are a really creative and fun family, I´m sure that this new life that is given to them is going to enjoy every day with them, hope you like it… ENJOY!!!


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My Big Pregnant Debut on Babyweight.tv

I suppose when in Rome, right? This is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, considering Zai is going to be our last pregnancy. I have to admit that it was pretty exciting to be able to participate in something with someone as cool as the owner Micky of Babyweight.tv. A fellow parent at Iza’s school, Micky approached me (I mean ran after me) a few weeks ago during morning drop off and asked that I participate in a video on 3rd trimester exercises. I certainly jumped at the chance to have a new experience like this!

Babyweight.tv-logoMicky Marie Morrison has written a comprehensive book called Baby Weight on managing weight gain and loss before, during and after pregnancy. It offers great exercises and suggestions on how to support yourself physically during the transitional phases you go through. We all know how hard being pregnant is…. so this is a great way to maintain your strength, building up to birth and back to skinny.

After a full review of my efforts, I wish I would have been more prepared to be on camera. Perhaps a practice session in front of a mirror would have helped? I am, however, very proud of myself. What it showed me is my strength and ability to push through the moment of shear uncomfortableness, fighting to stay strong and full of energy. I see an inner confidence with the positions that I guess I haven’t been able to witness before. It’s kind of liberating in a way and now I plan to practice my birthing positions in front of a mirror more regularly.

I definitely realize that TV might not be in my future – especially now that I have Bells Palsy. I noticed the lip movement and the facial structure imbalance much more so on these videos than I see in person in front of the mirror. It was an overcast day, so I could feel my eyes squinting and I wasn’t equip to deal with my mouth, so I was in a bit of a half smile the majority of the time which makes it a challenge to keep my lips together (And also baby pink may not be my color :)).

But, I really enjoyed the moment and especially loved learning a few great positions to work on between now and October.

Go Micky. I love what this woman is doing – so sign up for her subscription service today!


Bells Palsy During Pregnancy

Photo-on-3-19-13-at-1.03-PM-3-150x150Certainly pregnancy is never a walk in the park, and mine was no worse than any other experience. It was actually a great pregnancy filled with time, pampering and happiness with my wonderful husband.

But, sadly there is a dark side for most mama-to-be, which is unique to each of us. My dark side came during my 7th-month, and was in the form of Bell’s Palsy.

Don’t know what Bell’s Palsy is? Bell’s is a dysfunction of the cranial facial nerve, which causes temporary paralysis. There are a million reasons why it happened to me, but likely it was a weakened immune system due to pressure on my body (when Iza was breach) in the middle of my pregnancy. The first day, I lost my ability to drink water, then by the end of the day, I couldn’t see out of my right eye. When I looked in the mirror it was as if an alien was staring back at me; my wrinkles on my forehead were gone, I couldn’t raise my lip, and my nose was suddenly tweaked to the side. My eyebrow didn’t raise, and I had a dull pain all along the backside of my right ear.

Over the course of the last 3-months of pregnancy, I had the unique experience of seeing people’s reactions to me. It was hard not to look. My family’s reaction was heartbreaking. Their reactions were in the form of their own contorted facial expressions of sadness and compassion, and I had to see what I looked like in their gasp’s and stares. The mirror was not my friend and I avoided photo opportunities. I tried to avoid people all together, but Kurt had several large art shows and I had to be present for them; stares and more uncomfortable moments. I also had to keep working and a huge job opportunity came up right at that time. White rooms with lots of light were the worst (since I couldn’t close my right eye), and art shows and hip office spaces love white.

It was a wild ride of emotions; and in hindsight I wish I had embraced my condition instead of resenting. It was a life experience which has provided me the ability to explore inner strength.

Photo-on-6-7-13-at-4.03-PM-2-150x150I have tried every form of alternative medicine possible, avoiding steroids and other Western medications while nursing. Acupuncture worked for brief moments. In the morning with Green Tea I can feel my right side of my face rise from the jolt, and in the evenings I can feel the same side droop from wine. There is still a dull and achy pain behind my right ear. I will always notice these things and they will never go away.

Some of the little things you wouldn’t think have bothered me: I will never blow bubbles or whistle again. I will not be able to make fishy faces with Iza when she makes them at me. I will never kiss Kurt squarely and I will never fully be able to smile or drink water out of the right side of my mouth. I will always struggle with my right eye and work extra hard to shut it each time I blink.
It has taken a lot for me to get here with my own acceptance and even be able to write this post, and it is still very raw.

18-months out, I am roughly at 85% where I was before pregnancy and I probably won’t improve further from here. Will I ever stare back at my new self and not miss the old one? Probably not, but hey – we all get older and ‘wiser,’ right? I always said that I was totally vein before and it was the Universe’s way of showing me that my life is no longer my own and knocking me off my high horse. I know I am extremely blessed; I am healthy, happy and can do most things with my baby girl (no blowing bubbles or whistling for me). The rest is just icing on the cake!