Spring

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Even though the past few days have been dreary (gearing up for April showers, and all that…) We are still trying to make it outside during the small intercessions of sunshine. This winter was tough for numerous reasons, so I am pleased and relieved to see Spring on the horizon.

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We are tying to hit the potty training a little harder with Sophie so she will be totally comfortable to use the bathroom at school this fall. She will be 3 at the end of May and I can hardly believe that she is this walking, talking little person with her own ideas about the world.

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I am also eager to see Cora begin walking. She has such an adventurous spirit, that I am surprised she isn’t already walking. She can take a few steps at a time, but she knows crawling is more efficient at this point, and chooses to do that most of the time.

I’m hoping more time outside and spent with other kids will both help them to overcome these developmental milestones.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

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I tried dieting and cutting out cookies and other treats… that just led me to crave and then binge on said treats. My new plan is to simplify and make healthy a few treats that I can enjoy in moderation. These oatmeal cookies hit the spot, are gluten free, and contain less sugar than your average cookie.

What I used:
1 stick of butter at room temp
1 egg
1 bag of Pamela’s oatmeal bar mix
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Mix ingredients, bake at 350 for 10 minutes, AND THAT’S IT! Simple, quality ingredients.

I enjoyed 2 with a mug of my favorite tea this morning. Some people can completely restrict certain foods from their diets. I do fairly well avoiding gluten, but I love baking, and of course I love sweets. Finding a healthy balance for these foods in my diet is a better solution for me. I’ve found success replacing white refined sugar with organic coconut sugar. Some sweets, like an apple tart for example, are sweet enough on their own to not even need sugar. Anyway, I have found that you can alter recipes and your favorite foods so that they have a more appropriate place in your diet. That way you don’t feel deprived and end up bingeing on oreos instead.

If you’ve never tried Pamela’s gluten free products, I highly suggest you do! (This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just an enthusiast)

I’m Back!

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My last post was on self-care which is ironic because we slowly slipped into a week of unhealthiness. The kids got sick with various ailments, one of which led Cora and I to urgent care on Sunday morning, and we definitely indulged in some early Easter treats and sloth. I don’t think the latter did our immune systems any favors, so now that we are on the mend I am recommitted to the health and over all wellness of my family.

The good news is, our weather is warming up which means more running around outside with the girls and going for strolls before nap time. It no coincidence  that my health thrives when the weather warms up. Not only am I more motivated to maintain my healthy habits, but my kids encourage me to because they want to be outside and I enjoy the sunshine as well.

In other news, I have decided to focus more on my photography. The picture above was taken by a professional in a studio, and it was a very stressful and embarrassing session. My mother-in-law and husband both agreed I could get similar results with my own skills, and the kids might behave better in the home environment. I have been looking for an excuse to buy more gear and learn programs like photoshop and lightroom, and I think I have found my chance. I hope to be doing portraits professionally by the summer. I’ll keep you updated on the blog, especially because I think I will be using this blog’s namesake as branding for my potential business.

Exciting opportunities lie ahead, and I hope you all will join me for the ride!

Self-Care

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Every once in awhile I take time to write on self-care. In this fast paced life, it is hard to slow down to take care of ourselves. Self-care is viewed as sloth, when in reality, it is the practice that helps us work harder and longer.

A few of my close friends and I were talking about self-care in terms of a gas tank. Motherhood can often leave our tanks on empty, so going out to get our hair done, or taking a zumba class helps to fill it. However, when our tanks are SO depleted, we need to fill them multiple times before we are ready for another road trip. Maybe a trip to the gym makes the tank go up one gas gauge, but going out for drinks later that night makes it go up another. We have to stack these moments and even set aside time for them DAILY in order to keep functioning within the endless road trip that is life and motherhood.

Last week, there were multiple events that had me “on call” with certain members of my family. I love them, and happy to give them the 24/7 care that they some times require, but it was time to fuel up. I painted my nails, made banana bread, put out some candles and bought myself my favorite flowers. Those are all tiny things that boost my mood and can make a big difference in my day. Later tonight, I am going to zumba with a friend, which is another way I invest in being a better mother. You don’t have to only chose one solitary thing that you are “allowed” to make yourself feel better; and it isn’t selfish to need multiple activities or social interactions before you start feeling like “yourself” again. It’s not selfishness, it is mental health care and mood nourishment. Do it, and it may even help you become more productive in other areas of your life.

originally posted on my column at mytrendingstories.com

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Carrying 2 Kids

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Sophie was my independent, introverted child, who was content to go in her tee-pee and play by herself while I did my chores. This drastically influenced my expectations for how children behaved, and I was completely jarred when Cora began crying and holding on to my legs as I did dishes. This is when people began baby-wearing to me. I know I have written on it several times, but I just received this gorgeous Oscha in the mail today and so I wanted to reflect on how baby-wearing has helped me bond with both Cora and Sophie this year.

Cora’s dependence on my close proximity emphasized to Sophie just how independent she really is. However, this led Sophie into a slight regression. All the sudden she wanted to be held too. Just as I was selling off my carriers, I found myself in need of them again. So, I bought this beautiful ring sling in colors that reminded me of sunsets where I grew up in California. I still needed some thing to carry Sophie in though. I had spent a pretty penny on my slings and couldn’t afford another carrier, until a dear friends gave me a carrier for toddlers. Sophie has been happy to ride on my back while I make dinner or do chores when Cora is sleeping. I’m hoping this will re-instill her trust and confidence that I will always be there for her, even when life gets busy, or if I have multiple children to juggle.

 

Daniel Tiger Birthday

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I have to say, I think I out-did myself. Not only was our downstairs perfectly decorated for this party theme, but it cost us next to nothing. PBS kids website had lots of great, thrifty ideas in addition to having free printables with Daniel and his friends on them. We made a trolley out of a diaper box, tissue paper, and a template from PBS, and we also made tissue poms and felt crowns with supplies from the dollar store. We strategically placed printables to go with these items, and they really complemented each other.

Food was another great way to tie in the theme. I had purchased orange candy melts for Cora’s cake already, so I decided to also use some for making “tiger tails” an idea I saw on pinterest. Speaking of pinterest, I had seen around Halloween that people were drawing on clementines to make them look like jack-o-lanterns. Well, I thought you could use the same concept to make them look like tigers. It was a big hit with the kids. Then there was the cake itself, which is what I am most proud of.

It was a little crazy with 10+ kids in the house, but it was also crazy fun! It was my pleasure to host some of the awesome kids who have played so nicely with Sophie and Cora over the past year, and also to create an environment where the parents could relax a little too. We have made so many more “parent friends” in the past year and it has been invaluable. We need people who understand, and who can help us in our current life situation. Every one who came to Cora’s party had helped us in our time of crisis this year, and it was really rewarding to get to celebrate with them all. Cue Daniel’s “A Neighbor Is Here To Help,” song…

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Cora Update: 12 Month

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Are we really here? Did we actually make it? There were some days that I honestly wasn’t sure if Cora and I would make it to the 1 year mark. Maybe that sounds dramatic to some of you, but as some one who has sincerely, and painfully, struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, these fear felt very real to me.

Cora is such a bright and happy soul. Her smile lights up a room and she ignites every one with her same energy. She loves to crawl and climb, though, she still isn’t showing many signs of walking. As you can see, she still clings to her pacifier every once in awhile, only before or right after bed time. Her petite frame has her, only now, fitting into 12 month old clothes.

Although Sophie’s curly hair is tough to rival, Cora is beginning to get some frizzy curls in the back of her head. Who knows if they will expand into the afro Sophie currently has, but for right now, it is her own unique style. She is extremely expressive. Every moment of sadness is a Shakespearean tragedy, and every silly moment is an upbeat, happy musical. This can make the days exhausting, but overall, I feel that I have explored the depths and heights of human emotion with her.

My mom and brother are coming out for her party next week (Daniel Tiger themed) but for now, I am just trying to soak in the fact that we made it. 

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Being Sick Sucks

This year, we have been hit harder with illness more than any other year. It kind of baffles me as I am home bound most of the time, compared to my college days when I had to mingle with hundreds of my peers every day. We’ve had regular colds, stomach viruses and now the flu.

I’ve been open about my struggles with mental illness on this blog, and I have to say, being sick is a huge trigger for me. Even when we’re sick, parents still have a responsibility to take take of their kids. This week has been reminiscent of when I brought Cora home from the hospital. Even though my body has been specifically designed to bare and give birth to children, it’s still incredibly painful and takes weeks of healing. Yet, we’re still expected to give around the clock care to a brand new human. It is both beautiful and infuriating.

Who wipes my nose? Brings me medicine? Makes sure I’m hydrated and getting enough rest? Well, no one. In fact, I don’t even check in with MYSELF often enough to ask those questions because I am so busy caring for 2 sick children. It’s not only frustrating to not be able to think of yourself and your own needs, its frustrating because your inability to care for yourself only worsens your condition, and ultimately makes it harder for you to do your duty as a parent.

I’m also short on help. Who wants to babysit 2 sick kids and risk getting sick them self? And even if I have a babysitter, I also cannot go out and do some thing for myself because I am also sick. Less energy and less help make for an incredibly difficult and trying time. Luckily, I have amazing in-laws who care about my mental and physical health enough to swoop in and care for the kids. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Really, I have nothing else to write about as this season of sickness has been on my mind, pretty much all week. The only thing I can do is beg you to pray for our healing, and fantasize about when we will be healthy again.

Love Day

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Valentine’s Day was always a major holiday in my family. My mom would wake up extra early to make us a special breakfast, and she would usually make us little gift bags with either our favorite candy or a toy we wanted. She highlighted that no matter what our daily struggles as a family were, she loved us regardless. As we got older we started extending this same charity to our friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Now, I try to do some thing special for my family.

This year, it turns out we’re all sick. Sophie is the sickest and while thatwould typically make me the most sympathetic toward her, she is unusually sassy. I know it is most likely because she’s not feeling well, but for some reason my reactions don’t reflect that knowledge. Every time she snaps at me, I snap back. We’ve apologized to each other multiple times already, and I’m hoping Valentine’s day will be a good day for more love and reconciliation.

Some day I hope to explain to my kids that Catholicism behind Valentine’s day. St. Valentine was a martyr who was beheaded because of his Catholic faith. We recognize both his martyrdom, Jesus’ own suffering, and the love of all martyrs, who preferred to be killed rather than stop loving Jesus. Even though Valentine’s day gets a bad rep for being superficial, it actually does contain and preach the true meaning of love: suffering. However, I am dealing with a toddler and baby, so we will probably just stick to the Daniel Tiger-esque “Love Day” type of celebration (you know, “Ugga Mugga” and all that…)

Either way, I am excited and feeling the weight of my responsibility to teach my children how to love others. Hopefully my example will speak for itself! I hope you all take time to express love and gratitude for the people in your life who support you and are always there for you.

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[My mom still celebrates with us. She sent us a care package with the ingredients to make these adorable love themed cupcakes!] 

Anxiety About Being “Good”

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I am Catholic, and I don’t say that to alienate anyone in the audience, but I had an encounter earlier this week where 2 individuals were in deep theological discussion of that Churches canon law because of a simple question: I’m leaving for vacation on a Sunday, can I miss mass?

I pointed out to these people that perhaps they were being over scrupulous, and that we should look at the intention of missing mass. The person didn’t *want* to miss mass, but was leaving at a time that would impede her from being able to go to mass. Surely, God will show mercy to some one who doesn’t want to miss church, but does. They questioned my integrity and told me that I was cynical and imprudent for calling them scrupulous. Ok, I thought, to each their own! And went on my merry way.

The point it this: I didn’t let their criticism shake my personal beliefs in God’s mercy. I didn’t begin to question what kind of Christian I am after this encounter. So why do I feel so shaken when some one criticizes my parenting choices? I mean, these people called my own integrity into question and I just let it roll off me. Why then, am I so scrupulous when it comes to every decision I make as a mother?

It is my goal this week to extend myself the same grace and mercy that I believe my God extends to everyone, and not let the opinions of others destroy the confidence of my decisions.