Monday, September 21, 2020

Cozy in (more) Cashmere

 It was only a few years ago that I understood why everyone loved cashmere so much, and now I am basically fully obsessed. It's so hard for me to resist when I see a cute cashmere sweater! They're so soft and lightweight and warm and cozy all at the same time.


So of course, when I got an e-mail from Everlane about their new short-sleeved cashmere sweater, I knew that I had to get one. I'm already a big fan of their long-sleeved cashmere, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me. I love that Everlane's sweaters typically fit me really well, their prices are reasonable, and the quality is really nice. Plus, I'm really trying hard to buy less clothes, but better quality ones - and I really appreciate Everlane's commitment to transparency and ethical production. The clothes that I've bought from them in the past have held up really well over the years.

The cashmere tee is no exception! The fit is perfect (I'm wearing the XXS), and I love the bright, bold color. It's not quite as soft as the J. Crew one (in this post), but it's a bit more substantial, so I know it'll be great as the temperatures continue to dip. It's absolutely still comfortable, and doesn't look slouchy but isn't too fitted, either. It's just as perfect for working (whether at home or in the office) as it is lounging on the weekend. 

Especially since I'm spending so much (well... all) of my time at home right now, it's so important to me that I buy clothes that don't just work in one specific setting, but rather things that I'll get lots of wear out of. This cashmere tee totally fits the bill for me, and I think it would for you, too!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Friday Favorites

It has been unbelievably nice here this week, and I'm squeezing in lots of time with my deck serving as my office (the sky behind me creates a really pretty Zoom background)! Other than that, not much going on here - it was a relatively quiet and peaceful week in my life. It's been really nice to not have classes to worry about right now, too. It still feels strange (but great!) to know that there are no more papers or problem sets or exams in my life right now.


On to the favorites!

ONE - Hold Still Exhibit
This was a "community project" - an exhibition, headed by the Duchess of Cambridge and housed at the National Portrait Gallery, about what life was like in the UK during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. It's an incredibly poignant exhibition, and a glimpse into the lives of a diverse group of people.


TWO - Ingrid Michaelson and Lauren Ridloff Duet
This is an absolutely beautiful performance - a duet between Ingrid Michaelson and Lauren Ridloff (a deaf actress) where they perform a song from Dear Evan Hansen. Not only is the song itself stunning, but the story behind choosing the sign to accompany the titular lyrics ("You Will Be Found") is interesting, too.


THREE - Cute but Comfy Dress
The minute I saw this dress, I knew I had to order it. I love that the material looks "fancy" and luxe but the cut of the dress definitely errs on the side on comfort. I feel like that's my 2020 vibe in a nutshell!
Bonus: Use code BRCARDFF for 50% off everything!

FOUR - Voting as a "High-Risk" Person
Alice Wong is one of my favorite activists. I think she writes really powerfully here about an incredibly important issue - voting this year as a disabled person, where it feels like vote-by-mail is constantly under threat. It's also a great explanation about voting inaccessibility in general.


FIVE - Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Gloria Steinem
One more about voting! I loved reading this conversation between Meghan Markle and Gloria Steinem. There are some really interesting insights, and I especially loved Gloria's statement that "If you don’t vote you don’t exist. It’s the only place where we are all equal: in the voting booth."



Tuesday, September 15, 2020

An Easier Time, Period

Before we get into today's post, I want to say off the bat - I'm going to be talking about periods today. They're a normal part of life, and I don't think it should be awkward, but if it's something that makes you uncomfortable reading about, you can stop now and come back on Friday for the usual Friday Favorites post.

For as long as I can remember, my periods have been irregular. It's actually something that's gotten slightly better as I've gotten older, but they're often between a few days to a week off in either direction. I track them with the Clue app and built-in Health app on my iPhone so that I have a general idea when it's coming, but the window is fairly big. This isn't a huge deal for me in my life right now, but it does mean that it makes it difficult for me to really prepare for my period.


When I say prepare, I mean logistically, because having a period as a disabled woman can be a bit tricky. I can't use the bathroom by myself, and because of how tricky it can be for me to balance on a toilet out in public, trying to replace a pad in the middle of the day is not easy. And if my period ends up being a little earlier than I expected, it can be (literally) messy trying to put a pad on. Tampons are a whole other story, because again - I can't insert it by myself!

Even at home it can be challenging. Wearing a pad and sitting on it all the time can feel a bit like wearing a diaper - it's not ideal. And since it takes some maneuvering to get me comfortably positioned in my chair, there's always the chance that the pad will end up shifting a little bit and not covering everywhere that it needs to. The same thing happens overnight, too - it takes a bit of work for me to find a comfortable way to sleep, and things get shifted just enough that I wake up to a stain on my sheets.

Enter Thinx period underwear. I'm not really sure why it took me this long to try out a pair of period underwear, but I'm so glad that I did. They're so much more comfortable than wearing a pad, and definitely easier than wearing a tampon. I was really impressed, too, that there was absolutely no leakage at all, even when I wore them all night long. And you don't have to do anything special to clean them - just throw them in the washing machine!

I got the organic cotton bikini style, but there are so many different options if that's not your preference. Since I'm so petite, finding underwear that are small enough can be challenging - espsecially for period underwear, when you want to make sure they fit well! Thinx has sizes from XXS to 3XL, which is a great range, and the XXS fit me perfectly. 

Obviously, I think these underwear are great for someone like me, with a disability, but I also think anyone would love them. They're convenient and comfortable, and you don't have to worry about running out of a tampon or pad and needing to borrow one from a stranger! And unlike a tampon, there's no harm to wearing them a day or two before your period when you think it's coming soon but you're not exactly sure what day. Everyone, disabled or not, has had at least one incident with an unfortunate period stain, whether it's on sheets or clothes, and these underwear make that one less thing that you need to worry about. They've made my pandemic periods at least a little more tolerable, and I think they'll do the same for yours, too.

Fall Wish List

 Right now, I'm in search of what I'm calling "Zoom shirts" for fall. Tops that are comfortable enough to wear all day while I'm working, that look nice on Zoom for any meetings that pop up.... and that can be paired with sweatpants or leggings on the bottom with no one else knowing! 


For me, this mostly takes the form of lightweight, cozy sweaters. I've been doing quite a bit of online browsing lately (and some purchasing, too!) and am sharing my favorites that I have my eye on.

Also - use code FALLFAVES at J. Crew to get 35% off your purchase!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Coffee Favorites

One thing that the pandemic has made me extra-grateful for is my at-home coffee routine. When I was working in the office, I was going to Starbucks multiple times a day during the work week, and because I'm being extra cautious, I only had my first drive-through Starbucks cappuccino last week! I've been relying on coffee I make at home to get me through the day.

It's taken me a while, but I feel like I'm almost at the point where I like the coffee I make at home as much as I like the coffee I buy at coffee shops. This doesn't mean that I don't miss going out for a cappuccino (believe me, I really do!), but I have been enjoying my daily coffees at home. I thought I'd share my favorites with you today.

While my favorite coffee drink is a cappuccino, I start the day with just a regular cup of coffee - it's much quicker, and I am basically the living embodiment of every cliche about not starting the day before I've had my first cup of coffee. During the pandemic, I switched from using big-brand coffee beans to getting ground coffee delivered from a local coffee shop, and now I don't think that I'll ever be able to go back. My current go-to is the Morning Blend from Commonplace Coffee, but I highly recommend finding a local shop near you that will deliver/you can (safely) pick up from. It makes a world of difference in taste, and you get to support a local business, too.

For the rest of my daily caffeine fix, I rely on my Nespresso. I'm interested in getting a more traditional espresso machine (so if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!), but for now, I can't beat the convenience of the Nespresso. When the pandemic really began to take shape here in March, while people were hoarding toilet paper, I was worried about getting enough Nespresso pods. Clearly, I knew my priorities! 

My current machine is the Creatista Plus, and I love how easy it is to use. This isn't my first Nespresso machine - I had an older one, and upgraded a few years ago. It's part of the Original Line (not Virtuo line), so it only brews espresso-based drinks, not regular coffee. It also has a milk frother built in, which is also automatic - you just fill the milk jug and it foams it perfectly! I also love how cutomizeable it is - you can adjust the temperature of the espresso and the amount of foam that you want. 

Like all Nespresso machines, it uses pods that are incredibly easy to buy directly from them. My biggest pet peeve used to be that you had to pay for shipping, but now it's free if you spend $35, so I always just plan to order enough to stock up for a while. They do have seasonal ones, but I tend to stick to the more traditional flavors - even then, there are so many to choose from! Every few months I change it up and try a few different flavors to see what my favorites are.

If you're looking for an easy way to upgrade your at-home coffee routine without needing expert barista skills, I cannot recommend my Nespresso more! I joke that it's the only thing getting me through the pandemic, but it really has made my days more enjoyable.

And of course - these are my go-to cappuccino mugs. They're chic, they're double-walled so they keep my drink warm, and they're SO lightweight. The perfect way to enjoy my cappuccino!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday Favorites

I actually took this whole week off from work, and it was sorely needed. I had dreams of being really productive on non-work things and that... did not happen. Instead, I relaxed, enjoyed some time outside, and played some Animal Crossing on the Switch. It made me realize how much I needed the break, and I still have the weekend to relax a little more until it's back to "normal."

So, on to this week's favorites.

ONE - Women on their Career Milestones
I thought it was great to read each of these women - from all different fields and different ages - talk about when they felt like they had their "big break."


TWO - Puff Sleeved Top
J. Crew is having a great sale right now, and this is one of the things headed my way! I love anything described as "supercozy," and I love the blue color and the very slightly puff detailing on the sleeve. Use code ADDTOBAG to get 25% off one item, 30% off two, and 40% off three!)


THREE - Talking About Mental Health
I don't think it's any secret that many people are struggling with their mental health this year. This article, written by someone who has person experience with mental health issues, is a great explainer for what to say and what not to say to anyone struggling.


FOUR - Colorblock Sweater
I am currently all in on short sleeved sweaters for the coming fall season. The t-shirt dress I have from Summersalt is unbelievably comfortable, so I can't imagine the sweater wouldn't be, as well.

FIVE - When We All Vote Necklace
I shared the BYCHARI "Vote" necklace last week, but mentioned that it was a bit out of my price range. So I was so excited to see that they partnered with the organization When We All Vote to make a more affordable version that's still just as cute.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Cute Desk Accessories

 My favorite part about back-to-school was always buying new school supplies. My sister and I would go up and down the aisles picking out our favorites notebooks and folders and binders.

I may not be going back to school anymore, but I think the adult version of school supplies is cute desk accessories. I can't resist a cute notebook or to-do list, and keep looking for new ways to organize my desk, whether it's a wireless charging tray or a hanging file folder. I pulled together some of my current favorite cute desk accessories below!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Feeling Like Fall

Summer is my favorite season. I love feeling the sun on my shoulders, and sitting outside for hours with a good book, and watching Lily roll around in the grass in the yard. There's just something about summer that reminds me of the freedom that you feel as a kid when school lets out for the year.

But since my birthday is in September, of course I also enjoy fall. Nothing tastes better to me than a warm coffee outside when you can smell the fall crispness in the air. And my other favorite part about fall is that I can start wearing cashmere again! There is nothing like a soft, cozy sweater when the temperatures start to drop.

I have lots of long sleeved sweaters, but I actually don't have many short sleeved options. Since I'm still trying to spend as much time as possible right now, I wanted something that would be warm, but not too heavy for these in-between temperatures. This short sleeved cashmere sweater from J. Crew is the perfect choice.

First of all, it is SO soft. Just so perfectly soft that it's so incredibly comfortable to wear (not itchy at all) - the quality of the cashmere is clear! It's very thin, so it doesn't feel like you're wearing something heavy or bulky. It's really one of those things that you just don't want to take off. I also love how perfectly fall-like the color is!

Sometime J.Crew sizing can confuse me, but I felt that this one was pretty true to size. I'm super petite, and the XXS fits me like a glove. It's really rare for me to find a top that fits without me having to alter it in some way (usually, I just safety pin the neckline in the back, because my shoulders are so narrow), but this one fit perfectly without having to change anything.

I wish that I could buy this in every color! I'll be keeping my eye on J. Crew's site to find out the next time they're having a sale on cashmere so I can pick up another one.

Monday, September 7, 2020

My 32nd Birthday!

I'm usually a big birthday person - not that the celebration has to be elaborate, but I like it to be recognized. I tend to extend the celebrations... birthday weekend, birthday week, and birthday month are all things that I've said!

Obviously, this year's celebrations are looking a little bit different than previous years, but I'm really feeling okay it about it. I think the pandemic has really taught me to be grateful for the small things in a way that I wasn't before. So instead of a trip to DC like I did for my 30th, or like a rooftop celebration with friends like I did last year, this year's was much more low-key but no less enjoyable. This year, I had a front porch visit with friends that I haven't seen in months, I had some of my favorite Milk Bar Pie, I relaxed outside, and I spent time with family.

Do I hope that by next year's birthday, I can celebrate with friends and family somewhere that isn't my house? Yes, definitely! But I'm still so grateful for the people in my life who have gone out of their way to celebrate this year. It's felt so nice to have something happy to look forward to and focus on, and it's really brightened my days.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Friday Favorites

Another week down - not too much to share, but this is the start of my birthday weekend, so that's definitely something to look forward to! I still can't believe that it's September and my birthday - so surreal, no matter how many times I say it.

 On to the favorites!

ONE - Vote T-shirt
I had to start with this one - how cute is it?! I'm not usually a t-shirt person, but I saw this one and knew I had to get it. Not only do I love the representation of all kinds on it, but I love the store behind the shirt, too. It was started by the family of a child with SMA, and the money raised from the shop goes towards creating accessible playgrounds. So incredible!

TWO - Essay on Grief
This is a heartbreakingly beautiful essay about grieving during the pandemic, while also witnessing the injustices being done to Black people and the Black Lives Matter protests. I think that everyone should read it.

THREE - Schitt's Creek Cast Interview
For something a bit more lighthearted - Jennifer Garner interviewing the cast of Schitt's Creek! She clearly loves the show as much as we all did, and it's so fun to watch her talk with the cast.

FOUR - Vote Necklace
Closing it out with more vote-related apparel! This is the one that Michelle Obama wore during her speech at the Convention, and while it's definitely out of my price range, I think it's the perfect way to show you're a voter!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Focusing on the Positive

 Sometimes I feel like when something goes wrong in my life (this time, major back pain that I could not get under control), there's a domino effect and other things just keep going wrong, one after the other. It can be frustrating - especially on top of everything else going on in the world right now. It can make you just want to curl up in a ball and hide for a few days, just hoping that things blow over.

And there's definitely something to be said for feeling your feelings and shedding a few tears - I do both of those things and more. But once I've allowed myself to acknowledge those emotions, I try really hard to consciously focus on the positives rather than wallow in the negatives.

This is on the front of my mind right now because of the health issues I've been dealing with, but I think it's something that's relevant for everyone this year. There are so many terrible things going on in the world, and we each have our own personal issues that we're all dealing with on top of that. What we're dealing with is relative and personal - what's gut-wrenching for one person might not even rate for another - but that doesn't make it any less difficult to handle. I've found that really, the only way to not get totally overwhelmed when things start going wrong is to think about what's still going right.

For example - the upside of dealing with health issues during a pandemic is that I'm not missing out on any plans because I'm not feeling well. I'm surrounded by my supportive family, and I have a great medical team willing to squeeze me in for a telehealth visit and really listens to me and trusts my intuition about how I'm feeling. Plus, there are so many episodes of shows on Netflix and Hulu to watch while I recover! These are all things that I'm incredibly grateful for.

Does it still suck that I had to deal with this right now? Of course. But I can acknowledge that while also acknowledging the good things going on, too. For me, it's the only way to get through.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Recent Reads

This was a slower reading month for me, but I'm happy that I'm keeping up the practice of reading a little bit even if I'm not zipping through books like I was earlier this summer. Plus, Majesty, the sequel to American Royals, comes out today, so I have a new book that I'm really excited to read!

Here's what I read over the last month.

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
I really love mythology, and this book is based around a fictional mythology, so I really enjoyed that. It's a bit of a mystery and a bit of a romance, set it a fictional country in a fictional past. I did wish that there was more to the story at the end, but while I was reading I was really drawn into the whole universe of the book.

Pew by Catherine Lacey
If you, like me, read The Lottery in high school, you'll understand what I mean when I say that the whole time I was reading this book, I could tell that there was just something off. It also reminded me a little bit of the Stepford Wives - everything seemed so perfect that I kept reading to figure out what was going on underneath. It's called Pew because the story starts with a person who is found sleeping on a church pew, and no one knows who they are or where they come from. This is another book where the story ended and I still had lots of questions unanswered.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
This was a fun read about a con artist who is trying to steal family money from a wealthy influencer. But of course, there's more to the story hidden beneath the surface, and you're constantly wondering who is really conning who. It's a nice reminder that the lives we show on Instagram are not necessarily exactly honest.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer
My friends and I were all OBSESSED with the Twilight books when we were younger, so of course I had to read Midnight Sun when it was released. It's basically the first book of the Twilight series but told through Edward's point of view. It's pretty long, and it tends to drag at some points... but it brought back so many nostalgic feelings about reading the series for the first time!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Self Care Right Now

I know it's a phrase that we keep hearing over and over right now, but it really is an unprecedented time. It can be a struggle - it feels like there are so many ups and downs, and it's hard to find any sense of normalcy or balance. But it's increasingly clear, for a while now, that since it doesn't look like we're going to return to "normal" life anytime soon, it's important that we take care of ourselves the best that we can.

 This post couldn't have come at a better time for me... I had to take time off last week because I was dealing with some health issues (which are mostly resolved now, don't worry). But it was the reminder that I needed to make sure I'm being more aware of everything I'm talking about today.

Self care, and finding that balance, is a constant work in progress - which is exactly what I was reminded of over this past week! Even though I'm still completely at home, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm more focused on self-care. Sometimes, it feels like I have to be more conscious about taking care of myself right now that I do during normal times. So here's what I've been making sure to be conscious of.

Getting Enough Sleep
In college, I survived on very little sleep, and it almost became a bragging point of sorts - talking about how few hours of sleep we'd gotten the night before. After college, though, I realized how completely unhealthy that mindset is. I absolutely feel better and function better when I've slept well! I know that with everything going on right now, people's anxiety may be extra-high, and it can be hard to actually fall asleep. I have been relying on Headspace's "Goodnight" meditation - it seriously puts me to sleep like a baby!

Getting Fresh Air
I am extremely, extremely grateful to have a yard and a deck where I can spend time outside without having to worry about keeping a 6-foot distance from other people, because being outside is one of the most important things keeping my balanced right now. Even just spending 10 or 15 minutes outside makes me feel physically calmer and happier. I'm a little nervous about not being able to get outside time once the temperature starts to drop, but I'm trying to focus on enjoying it now.


Finding Work-Life Balance
For those of us that are working at home, it can be hard to find the balance of work and life because we're never really physically out of the office. There have been a few times where I've found myself working past my normal hours, but I've tried to keep it pretty separated - it helps me from feeling burnt out. I've had to find the best way to work at home without feeling like I'm constantly on. For me, it means having a dedicated work space that's not the desk in my bedroom, and realizing that work will still be there tomorrow - I don't need to finish things just because I can.


Enjoying "Me Time"
This is the "life" side of the work-life balance. Whether it's watching TV, reading a book, or playing a video game, make sure you make time to do something fun that you enjoy. It's such a stress-reliever, and really helps me feel more calm and balanced.


Taking Breaks
I saved the best for last! This past week has reminded me how important it is to know when to just take a break. Whether it's a break from work or a break from social media, recognizing when you need to take a break and then actually taking it can keep you from getting exhausted and burned out. You don't have to be productive all the time.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A Few More Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

 If you, like me, just got access to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale yesterday, you might have found that a lot of items were already out of stock. I went through the sale and picked a few of my favorites from what's left.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

SMA Awareness Month: Other SMA Advocates You Should Follow

For the third post in my SMA Awareness Month series (see the first here, and the second here), I wanted to share some other SMA advocates for you to follow! Obviously, there are (many) others, but these are a few people that I follow and learn from.

Honestly, one of the best parts about social media, for me, has been connecting me to the SMA community. I was lucky that I always had my sister to talk with and share experiences (and you can follow her here), but it has been SO incredible to connect with other people with SMA, too. To talk about shared experiences, to commiserate, and also to learn clever tricks to navigate a world that's not always very accessible.

Here are some of my favorite SMA follows...


Image via Instagram

Shane Burcaw and Hannah Aylward (Squirmy and Grubs)
It's possible that you already know about Shane and Hannah from their YouTube channel Squirmy & Grubs, but if you don't follow them yet, you absolutely should. They share openly about their lives - about the relationship, about Shane's SMA, and about their adorable dog Chloe. I love how real they are, but how fun they are, too!


Image via Instagram

Alice Wong
Alice is such an incredible advocate for all things disability, and she is so purposefully intersectional in her work. She has edited two books (Resistance and Hope and Disability Visibility), is a podcast host, and was recently recognized as an activist by British Vogue! Her website is here if you want to learn more about all of the incredible things she has done. She's someone I definitely look up to and strive to emulate in my advocacy work.


Image via Instagram

Alyssa Silva
Alyssa and I share a love of coffee, so we quickly became friends on social media. She shares so beautifully about what her life is like with SMA, and has run a non-profit that raises money for SMA research for years and years (Working on Walking). They actually have a virtual trivia event coming up on Monday evening that I'm super excited for - join us here!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Recent Round-Up

 I've been trying to cut back on my online shopping lately, but I've still made some purchases here and there. Here are some things that I've bought recently and love!


ONE - A Gorgeous Bouquet
My sister and I got these flowers for my parents for their anniversary. They are so beautiful and they really held up well for days after they were delivered. There's something so nice about having fresh flowers in the house! (Click here to get 30% off your first order!)

TWO - Extra Strength Hair Ties
I have had my hair up so much more often these past few months, and I was going through my old go-to hair ties so quickly, because my hair is so thick. These look kind of strange, but they really hold my hair up well and they leave less of a crease than the standard ones do.

THREE - Vitamin C Serum
I have tried so many different vitamin c treatments, trying to find one that wasn't too thick, oily, or heavy, and didn't break me out. This is my favorite of all that I've tried, by far. It's super lightweight, not sticky at all, and doesn't turn my hands orange after I use it. Just make sure that you keep the bottle tightly closed so that it doesn't oxidize too quickly.

FOUR - Tinted Gel Moisturizer
In my quest for finding the perfect slightly tinted moisturizer, I found this one from Bare Minerals. I love that it's not a heavy moisturizer, and I can just use my hands to apply it, but it still gives me some coverage/evening out of my skin. Sometimes I mix it with the Supergoop Glow Screen, and they work really well together!

FIVE - Gel Face Wash
This is a nice, simple gel face wash from Drunk Elephant. It doesn't strip my skin, rinses off really nicely, and leaves my skin feeling nice and clean. I use it with my Foreo Luna mini and really feel like my face has been "behaving."

SIX - Towel Scrunchie
I use this after the shower to help absorb some of the wetness so that it doesn't take as long to dry on it's own. It doesn't get all the water out, of course, but it makes a noticeable difference. It's totally soaked once I take it out, so make sure you wash it frequently or it starts to get that mildew-y smell.

Monday, August 17, 2020

No More School

 For the last few years, this would have been the time of year where I start getting ready for the upcoming semester. I would have been checking (and double-checking, and triple-checking) my schedule, making sure I bought the books I needed, and looking through the syllabus to take a look at what the next few months of my life would be like. Even though I was only a part-time student, each new semester, but especially the fall semester, still felt like a new, fresh start.

But now that I've graduated (see this post), there's no more new semester. It's strange, though because it doesn't really... feel any different? Time just feels so odd for me right now - not only is it hard for me to imagine that it would be time for a new semester, it's even harder to imagine that I won't be starting one!

Part of it is probably that my graduation doesn't really feel real, either. I did officially get my diploma in the mail a few weeks ago, so I know that it actually did happen, but I haven't had a moment yet where it has hit me that it happened. As excited as I was to finish my masters - and believe me, I was VERY excited - it doesn't feel exactly like I thought it would.

And knowing that I'm done with school doesn't feel like I thought it would, either. I was really looking forward to the extra free time, the ability to enjoy summer weekends and really relax, to never having to balance having lots of fun plans with leaving time for my assignments... and then all of that just kind of went away.

So, basically, nothing feels like I expected it to! It's just one more thing to adjust to turning out differently this year. In the scheme of everything going on, believe me, I know that this isn't a big deal. I still think it's okay, though, to acknowledge disappointment - to take a moment to acknowledge that basically, nothing this year has gone the way that I thought it would. Everything is relative - I hate when people act like there's some sort of competition, like there's some sort of judgments being made about what kinds of things people are "allowed" to be upset about. 

There is no normal this year, really. So allow yourself to be disappointed about things that didn't go as planned. If you don't take the time to sit with it, and to acknowledge it, it makes it so much harder to let it go and move on from it.

I guess this post is just a bit of a brain-dump - and I think I'm also starting to sound a lot like a Headspace meditation! But I think that everyone can use the reminder right now that it's okay to be upset or disappointed or even just feel different than you expected to. There's so much going on! Take some time to feel your feelings if that's what you need - there's really no right or wrong way to deal with things right now.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday Favorites

Another week down. I'm feeling a little bit burnt out, I think - I've taken a few days off work here and there throughout the summer, but haven't had a concentrated break like I normally would. It's also feeling really weird to spend the entire summer without traveling anywhere. Last year, I think I went on 4 or 5 different trips... that was a lot for me, but usually I go somewhere at least once! I should mention - I do think that there are safe ways to travel right now, and my family and I thought about trying to go somewhere nearby, but it's a lot of logistical work that just doesn't seem worth it/feasible for us. 

Anyway - just another week in the pandemic. Now, onto this week's favorites.


ONE - Disney debuts adaptive costumes
This is something that I really wish was around when I was younger! Disney has released a whole line of adaptive costumes that I would have loved to wear for Halloween. My mom used to sew our Halloween costumes (I was many different Disney princesses!) and this probably would have been a bit easier. Plus, I could have turned my wheelchair into a carriage! Love.    

TWO - Dolly Parton for Billboard
Dolly Parton's interview in Billboard is just fantastic. I don't know a lot of her music, actually, but I want to listen to more after reading this! She seems like a phenomenal businesswoman and a genuinely good person. "I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose," she says in the article. If only more people thought like that!

THREE - Sephora sale
Starting today (use code WELCOME BACK), Sephora has a sale going on with $15 off $75 or $20 off $100. It's the perfect opportunity to stock up on the basics, or treat yourself with something fun. I recommend this Drunk Elephant face wash, this deodorant I raved about in this post, or this lip gloss for something fun. 

FOUR - Satisfied x Helpless
Obviously, when I saw this Hamilton video of Helpless and Satisfied side-by-side, I knew that I had to share! It's so fun to watch the same moments play out in the different songs. So impressive!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

SMA Awareness Month: A New Treatment

 Last week was a very exciting one within the SMA community. The FDA approved Evrysdi (or risdiplam, the name used during development), the third ever treatment for SMA.

Before this past week, there were two existing treatments - Avexis and Spinraza. I'm not going to go into too much detail about either, because I'm not an expert and I don't want to say something that's actually wrong, but I can explain a little bit about each. Avexis is actually gene therapy, and it's the closest thing to a "cure" that there is. It's relatively new, incredibly expensive, and because it's gene therapy, it can only be used on children under two years old. 

Spinraza is able to be used by all ages, and all types of SMA (see my first post for more information on types), but it's administered intrathecally, meaning a spinal injection. This is not easy for anyone, but is even more difficult for people with SMA, many of whom have had spinal fusion surgery as a teen to correct scoliosis. So while Spinraza is approved for adults, not all are able to easily get it because of the complication created by spinal rods. With Spinraza, there's also no guarantee that you'll gain any strength back - it's intended to stop or slow progression. So the younger you start it, the better. There are some side effects, too - one of which is a spinal headache, which can be pretty debilitating while it lasts.

I had an additional complication in that my neurologist decided that she just... wasn't going to dose adults with Spinraza, period. It was an incredibly frustrating decision, and one that I still don't agree with. But when we heard that risdiplam was on the horizon, we decided to wait and see what would happen with that before we decided how to appeal her Spinraza decision.

So the news on Friday was incredibly welcome. Like Spinraza, Evrysdi isn't a cure, and while some people do see improvements, the goal is to slow or stop progression. Unlike Spinraza, though, it's not given through a spinal injection - it's an oral, liquid medication that you can take at home. Not only is it more convenient, but it makes it so much more likely that I'll be able to get it! And it's been approved for anyone over two months old.

I know that there's no guarantee that I'll have any improvements from Evrysdi, but honestly, knowing that I won't get worse is hugely important to me. SMA is progressive, but it happens in fits and starts, so I don't necessarily notice that I've lost strength until months or years later. And there's no way of knowing when it's going to happen, either. So having the peace of mind to not have to worry about what strength I'm going to lose next year, in five years, in 10 years... that's really important to me. I've come to accept that I'll never be fully independent, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to hold on fiercely to shreds of independence where I can. Evrysdi would help me do that!

I'm sure it'll be weeks (or even months) before I know what the next steps are. But I'm feeling hopeful, and that's a really big thing right now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Nordstrom Sale Picks

 It's that time of the year again - the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Depending on your cardholder status, you may have already gotten access to the sale. I can't shop it until the 19th, but I'm busy adding things to my wish list so I can check out quickly once I'm able to shop! This year, Nordstrom is letting everyone preview the sale early online, regardless of your status, so that you can create an online wish list, rather than sending out a paper catalogue as they have in years past. Honestly, I hope they keep doing this in the future - it's much more convenient!

Since I have no idea what the coming months are going to look like, I probably won't be buying too many things this year. But here's what I have my eyes on...


 A beautiful blue cashmere sweater  


A pale, drape front jacket (that I own in other colors already!)


A short-sleeved cashmere sweater with rave reviews


A 2-pack of fuzzy socks



An easy cashmere wrap sweater for fall
(This one is also a good option!)



A pair of faux shearling slippers

Monday, August 10, 2020

Outdoor Dining at Home

 Especially lately, I have been trying to grip tightly onto any "silver linings" in relation to the pandemic right now. Namely, I have been spending as much time as possible outside. I've been working outside (I'm so lucky that we have a great deck where I can do this), I've been reading outside, I've been watching movies outside (see how in this post), and, of course, I've been eating outside. I've had so many meals outside on my deck, and I love it. It's not exactly the same as eating outdoors at a restaurant, but it's as close as I'm going to get this summer.

But the thing about eating outside is that sometimes, it's so hot that I don't feel like I want a full meal - I'm just not really hungry. (Because I use a feeding tube overnight, I don't need to worry as much about making sure I'm getting in all my nutrition during the day. Since my major weight loss issue, I've been extremely careful to not let that ever happen again!) Enter the charcuterie board.

 I have always loved ordering charcuterie at restaurants, but kind of forgot that I could replicate the experience at home! I picked up this charcuterie board, which is gorgeous - I love that I can write directly on the board to label things! It did come with some extra, unnecessary screws, so if you pick it up make sure you use the right screws (the shorter ones) when attaching the handles.

I had so much fun picking out the meats and cheeses and spreads from Prime Now (yes... that is what sparks joy these days). I went with brie, drunken goat, and gouda for the cheeses, and proscuitto, salami, and pâté for the meats. I also added an olive tapenade, which my sister was obsessed with, and, of course, some cornichons! I loved it so much that I kept making myself mini charcuterie plates for lunch for the next few days. So delicious, and so perfect for summer outdoor dining.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Friday Favorites

I feel like I'm running out of things to update you on each Friday - it's very much of the same around here. Still in disbelief that it's August, and still trying to take it day-by-day and not think too far ahead. With that in mind, though, my birthday is exactly one month away! My plans begin and end with ordering a Milk Bar Pie, my absolute favorite.

On to the favorites...
I have really been loving my new job - I know I don't share much about it here, but it's been a really exciting time so far. My Center sent out a nationwide questionnaire earlier this year, asking people how they were being affected by the pandemic. We found that family caregivers were being impacted more negatively than non-caregivers in many different areas. The Post-Gazette covered the report, and has some really impactful quotes from some of the caregivers themselves.

I actually don't know that I've found this to be the case personally, but lots of people are finding they're working longer hours from home. Are you? It can be hard, but I think (when possible!) it's really important to set the boundary early that you're not "on" 24/7.

I was influenced to buy these after an Instagram story from Things I Bought And Liked. They don't feel like regular hair ties, and I was very uncertain at first, but they really work! I have so much hair (especially right now, since it hasn't been cut in MONTHS), and these really have a tight hold, and leave way less of a crease when I take them out.

I wanted to end with this one because it's so important to me. British Vogue, for their September issue (the biggest/most important issue each year), put 20 activists on their cover. One of them was Alice Wong, an incredible activist who also has SMA like I do. I can genuinely say that I never expected to see anyone with SMA on the cover of a fashion magazine; it was an incredibly powerful moment for me (and a reminder of how important representation is). Does this mean my dream of someday attending the Met Gala might come true?!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

SMA Awareness Month: SMA FAQ

August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness month, so each year in August I like to do posts throughout the month talking about SMA. This year, I'll be posting each week on Wednesdays with SMA-related topics. If there's anything in particular that you'd like a post on, let me know - either leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

I thought that I'd start out the month with a general post - an FAQ all about SMA.
What exactly is SMA?
SMA is a genetic, neuromuscular disease. Both of my parents were (unknowingly) carriers - because it's a recessive gene, both parents have to be carriers for a child to be affected by SMA, and even then, it's a 1/4 chance that a child will be affected. It basically affects my entire body, through the nervous system, and results in weak muscles. It's progressive, which means the muscle weakness gradually gets worse over time. There's really no set time frame or schedule, though, for the progression.

There are a few different types of SMA. Type I is infant-onset, and it typically progresses the fastest. Type II (what I have) is childhood-onset, but there's a big range of when in childhood, and the severity. Type III, typically the least severe, is diagnosed during adulthood. And these are all general categorizations, but the dividing lines are vague, especially for people on the cusp when they're diagnosed.

How were you diagnosed with SMA?
My parents noticed that I wasn't meeting my milestones - I wasn't crawling like I should have. The doctor initially wasn't concerned, but my parents pushed for me to be seen by a specialist. Now there is genetic testing done via a blood test, but back then they did testing via a muscle biopsy (I still have a scar on my thigh, but I don't remember it because I was so young).

Have you ever been able to walk?
Some people with SMA (especially those with Type III) are able to walk at some points throughout their lives, but I have never been able to. I never crawled, but I did kind of scoot around on my knees a bit as a kid if I had a surface to hang onto/lean on, like a coffee table. But since SMA is progressive, like I mentioned, I stopped being able to do that sometime during my childhood.

What do you need help with because of SMA?
I need help with a lot of the basic things that most people take for granted. I need help getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, taking a shower, getting dressed... anything that requires strength! But that doesn't mean that I rely on someone 24/7, either. When I'm at work (in non-pandemic times), I'm pretty self-sufficient during the day (other than using the bathroom) and don't have anyone there to help me. I was a fixture at my Starbucks, and went there on my own. So it's a mix.

Are there any treatments for SMA?
There are currently two FDA-approved treatments. Zolgensma is a gene therapy treatment for children under two years old (I don't know a ton about it because I was well over the age of eligibility when it was approved). The second is Spinraza - it's an intrathecal injection, which basically is like a spinal tap. It's technically approved for all types and ages of SMA, but I haven't been able to get it. It doesn't necessarily help gain back losses (though some people have had gains), but it should slow or stop progression.

The good news, though, is that there's a new treatment that is scheduled for a decision from the FDA later this month! It's a daily, liquid medication, so as long as it's approved for all ages and types, there's a good chance that I'd be able to get it.

Don't forget to let me know about any SMA-related things that you'd like to read more about!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Natural Deodorant That Works

I'm usually what I like to think of as a "healthy skeptic" about natural products. I don't necessarily think that non-"natural" products are harmful, and I know that there are chemicals in everything (and chemicals aren't bad). However - I've always been intrigued about trying natural deodorant. I know that there isn't definitive proof that the aluminum in deodorants is harmful for women, but it's one of those things where if you can cut down or avoid its use, why not do it?

I've always been hesitant, though, because even though I'm not really physically active, I tend to sweat a lot. So I've always steered clear. The thing about natural deodorants vs. regular deodorant/antiperspirants is that natural deodorants don't stop you from sweating like antiperspirants do (it's the aluminum that stops sweat). But I figured that if there was ever a time to experiment with natural deodorants, this was it - I'm not coming into contact with anyone other than my family, and I'm home all the time.

So I went ahead and bought the Kosas Chemistry AHA Serum Deodorant - and I am SO impressed by how well it works!

I have sensitive skin, so I knew that I didn't want a natural deodorant that didn't have baking soda in it, because that can be irritating. I know a "serum" deodorant sounds kind of strange, but I was really impressed by the ingredient list - a blend of AHAs, aloe vera juice, and hylauronic acid. They offer both a scented and a scent-free one, and I went with the fragrance free. It goes on with a rollerball, and it dries pretty quickly - it only feels wet for about a minute or so. It feels nice and cooling as it goes on, too!

I've been using it for a few weeks now, and honestly, I am still shocked at how well it works. I know that people say there's sometimes an adjustment period when switching to a natural deodorant, but I didn't find that to be the case. Not only has my skin not been irritated at all, but it has worked so well as a deodorant that I almost can't believe it. Obviously, I can't guarantee that it would work during a workout, but I have been sitting outside in the 90 degree heat and it's held up incredibly well.

I'm really glad that I made the switch. I can't say for sure what will happen when I'm out and about again - maybe there will be days where the natural deodorant doesn't seem like enough. But for now at least, I'm happy to keep using this one.

Monday, August 3, 2020

August Check In

It feels so incredibly surreal to me that it's August. Logically, I know that it's not March, and that time has been passing, but it feels like those five months have passed in the blink of an eye. August always seems like the signal that summer is winding down soon, and fall is looming, but that feeling seems so far away right now!
I thought it'd be a good time for another check-in because I'm just feeling really weird about everything right now. It's really hard to think about all of the time "lost" to the pandemic - summer is always my favorite time of the year, and I definitely didn't expect to ever spend an entire summer in my home. And I think that my anxiety is also starting to creep up again knowing that with fall comes cooler temperatures, and so much of my mental health right now comes from spending time out in my yard and on my deck. The thought of being cooped up inside all day for months at a time is super overwhelming.

I've also been doing my best to really focus on the day-to-day, and not think about how long this might all continue... but every so often my mind will wander ahead to my birthday, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas... and again, it's just really hard to think about. I never deal well with uncertainty, and this is uncertainty on a huge, huge scale. Sometimes it feels like it's just hitting me all over again, five months down the line. And I don't think I'm the only one - I'm hearing a lot more about closures or delays "for the foreseeable future," without even an attempt at a date, because really, who even knows?

So it's just a weird time for me, right now, and I'm trying to just get through it day by day. I'm trying to take advantage of being outside in the sunshine (while I still can), and seeing friends (from a six feet plus distance) and just trying to not think too much about what's coming ahead. It's not worth getting ahead of myself, especially because if there's anything that these past few months have taught me, it's that so much can change so quickly, with very little notice.

How are you coping?

Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Favorites

This week has felt long, and yet I can't believe that it's already the end of July. It was a big week for me - I presented during Pitt's Diversity Forum about disability inclusion in academia (I'll share a video when it's ready). It was really exciting to be part of such a big event, but I'm also looking forward to a little relaxation this weekend now that it's over.
On to the favorites...

Today is the last day that you can endorse me for my WEGO Health Award for my Instagram! Just click the link here, click the "thumbs up" that says "Endorse this patient leader," and enter your information. Thank you to everyone who has endorsed me so far!

I have been listening to Taylor Swift's new album on repeat since it came out last week. I love listening to the stories that she tells with her lyrics, and that storytelling really shines through on this album.

I haven't had much use for Google Maps recently, but I was still excited to see that they've added a feature to make it more easy to find information about accessibility for places on their map. Looking forward to the day when I can try it out!

For the first time in the magazine's history (and in what is typically considered the most important month for magazines), Oprah put someone other than herself on the cover of her magazine. It's a touching tribute and a reminder to keep fighting for justice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

30 Years of the ADA

I mentioned in this post that July is Disability Pride Month - it's a fitting month to celebrate, because it's the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was signed into law 30 years ago this month, making it just slightly younger than me.
Image via Alyssa Silva
I think that a lot of people know about the ADA in a really vague, general way. They think that because the ADA exists, accessibility problems are now solved. But in reality, that's far from the case. There's still a stigma surrounding accessibility and accommodations; there's still a belief that we should be grateful for the times that things are accessible, as if people are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and not because they're required by law.

When I think about inaccessibility, it falls into a few general categories for me. The first is when things are just flat-out inaccessible. These might be older structures, like a restaurant with steps, or newer things like Uber and Lyft. It might not be legal, but since the onus is on me (or other people with disabilities) to report inaccessibility, they persist. It's endlessly frustrating, and I basically operate on the assumption that things are inaccessible until proven otherwise. I would have hoped, 30 years post-ADA, that there wouldn't be as many of these cases as there are.

Then there's the things that are technically accessible, but require jumping through some extra hoops. A few years ago, I went with a good friend to a fancy event in DC, held in the US Chamber of Commerce. Everyone else went through the big stone front steps, but we had to get in around the back, down a darkly-lit alley, and then be escorted throughout the building. Is it cool to see the parts that no one else got to? Sure! But going in through a dark alley lacks a bit of the wow factor, and doesn't make you feel valued. And so many buildings have entrances like this - where you have to go in a separate entrance that you may or may not be able to find by yourself.

For me to get into Federal Galley, a restaurant in Pittsburgh's North Side, an employee has to come out, take me into a parking garage, through a keycard-protected door, past the restaurant's kitchen, and then onto an elevator. If I were going alone, without an able-bodied friend to go into the restaurant and let them know we needed help, how would I ever get in?

I could (and have) write a whole post about flying while disabled - not all planes are accessible, and I have to board very early and get off very last... spending a long time on a plane without an accessible bathroom! Can I fly? Yes. Is it a smooth, easy process? Definitely not.

And finally - there's the structural things. Policies that incentivize me to remain under-employed, policies that stop disabled people from getting married because their joint income would force them to lose their extremely-necessary benefits. Even small things like the sidewalk policies here in Pittsburgh, which require homeowners to maintain their own sidewalks. Generally, they don't, so they're cracked and difficult for me to drive over, or covered in un-shoveled snow in the winter.

Clearly - we haven't solved accessibility. Of course, I'm incredibly grateful for the ADA, and for the advocates that fought for it. I don't even want to imagine what my life would have been without it. But I don't want us to be complacent about accessibility, either. There is still work to be done. I look forward to when accessibility is the default and not the outlier.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Recent Reads

I got in some great reading time this past month. I've loved spending time outside reading in the summer heat - it's just so relaxing to me. I will say, though, that I miss the post-work reading with a Starbucks at Schenley Plaza that I'd typically be doing this time of year. I've been doing my best to replicate it with my Nespresso cappuccino here at home!

Here's what I've been reading.

I was so excited for this book, and it did not disappoint! Zoje is the author of Baby Teeth, which I also loved, so I was really looking forward to reading what she wrote next. (I also met her briefly at an event here in Pittsburgh!) Once I started reading, I legitimately couldn't put it down until I finished. She writes so descriptively and captivatingly. This is a psychological thriller like Baby Teeth, but also a bit more straight-up horror. It follows a family who moves out to a house in the middle of nowhere, where some strange things start happening.

I never really used to be a memoir reader, but I've been reading a lot more of them recently -  maybe since I'm having less human connection in person, I want more glimpses of other people's lives through books. I have seen Elaine on Project Runway, but didn't know much else about her. I loved following her trajectory both professionally and personally, and her drive and ambition made me want to do more, ha!

There's a movie starring Glenn Close based on this book, but I haven't seen it. I have, however, read other books by Meg Wolitzer and I always love them. This book was also about ambition and success - and about sacrifices you have to make to get where you think you want to go. It wasn't a long read, but I really enjoyed it.

Another memoir! Part of me always wanted to work for a magazine, so I love reading about the behind-the-scenes from people who did. Andrè Leon Talley is iconic now, but it was fascinating to read about how he got to where he is, and about being Black while ascending the ranks. Plus there's good fashion-insider gossip sprinkled throughout!

This is set in the 1920s, but the themes about feeling split between two worlds and trying to figure out where you fit in are really timeless. I always love reading about the 20s, and imagining the excess and glitz and glamour (while wearing pajamas, ha!).

Jasmine Guillory writes really great rom-com books that aren't too cheesy for me. This was so fun to read, but it had depth to it, too - it explored dating as a Black woman in the public eye. It's a great summer read.

I've been looking forward to this for a year or so - it's the sequel to The Royal We. I wish I had re-read The Royal We before I started this one, to help me remember more, because it picks up right where the last one lets off. It's a fun, fictional look at what it's like to marry into the British Royal Family (the first book was written well before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry), and how it's probably more difficult than it might seem at first glance.

I loved how this book tackled balancing so many aspects of life - motherhood and career, friends and relationships, career and romance. The characters really drew me in, and I cringed and celebrated along with them.

This book was excellent. It follows two Black sisters, both light-skinned, and how their lives diverge when one of them starts to live as a White woman. It delves into race, and relationships, and family, and belonging, and it's beautifully written. Highly recommend.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Being An Advocate

Being a disability advocate is something that I'm so proud of now, but it wasn't necessarily a label that I would have claimed for all of my life. I've mentioned before that I've always been a self-advocate out of pure necessity - my parents were always strong advocates for my needs, but as someone with a disability, you learn quickly how important it is to stick up for your needs if you want them to be met. But beyond advocating for myself, I wasn't always super active as an advocate for the larger disability community.

Part of this, I think, was that I wanted people to see me beyond just my wheelchair. I was afraid that if I focused too much on disability issues, I'd be pigeonholed and stereotyped. But as I learned, and grew, and became more comfortable with myself, I realized that I didn't need people to see beyond my wheelchair. What I actually needed was for them to see and accept my wheelchair, and understand that my disability was a part of me, but that there was more to me, too.

And this blog - and my Instagram - were my first steps (if you will) towards doing this. I figured what better way for people to understand how my disability fit into my life than to write about it, and to share snapshots about it? It seemed like the perfect way to share my life with my disability, but also my life with my dog, and cute dresses, and anything and everything else.
So that's why I'm so excited to have been nominated for a WEGO Health Award for Best in Show: Instagram - because it feels like people understand what I'm trying to do! It's a reminder that there are many ways to be an advocate, and one of those ways is sharing my life on my blog and Instagram. I feel really honored that other people are seeing that, too.

I'd really appreciate if you'd be willing to endorse me - just a short note about what you follow me and why you think I deserve to win! The endorsements will be read by the judges, to help them decide who should be finalists, and are open through Friday. As a bonus, if I get enough endorsements, I automatically move ahead to the next round. You can click here and then click the thumbs up icon that says "Endorse this Patient Leader" to leave me an endorsement - your support in this (and everything else) means the world to me.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Friday Favorites

I don't really have much to share this week. I can't believe we're almost at the end of July - sometimes it feels like things are as normal as they can be, and sometimes it seems so surreal that I haven't gone anywhere since March! I stopped counting days a long time ago, but I know I'm into triple digits now.

We did celebrate my dad's birthday this week! Just a low key celebration at home, of course, but fun nonetheless.
On to the favorites.

I loved everything about this article written by a disabled actor about disability inclusion in theater. It needs to be inclusive in every respect - for the audience, yes, but also in the actors and the playwrights and the venues. And the point to go beyond the bare minimum is so key! I just kept nodding my head the whole time I read this!

I bought this on a whim, but it seriously works! I put my hair up with it after the shower, and it really helped my hair to air dry faster. It definitely gets heavy, though, as it draws in more water.

I love Dan Levy and Schitt's Creek. I've posted Hot Ones interviews before, and this one was great! It's also fun to hear some of the behind-the-scenes of Schitt's Creek.

One of my friends makes these wire creations, which are so cool! I had her make one for my dad's birthday that says "Alexa water the garden," because he's very into his backyard garden. I'm so excited to put it in the yard this weekend!