Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

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Is hard to believe how much difference a year makes. Just last year around this time I was prepping myself to welcome my second baby. I had hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. And we was in our own house that I had wished for so much on previous years. 

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's house. Just close family, a turkey, and lots of food. That second baby will be turning 1 year old in five weeks. And I'm still thankful for having our own house. 

We should be thankful every day for all that we have but this special day is a day where we all are conscious and make it a priority to be thankful, give thanks, and teach our children. 

I, personally, am thankful for having a Heavenly Father that loves me unconditionally despite of my flaws. 

I'm thankful for my health and for being alive with the ability to care for my family, grow, mature, love, and forgive. 

I'm thankful for my family and friends. For their happiness and to have them be part of my life even if we don't speak often. 

I am thankful for the little things in life such as warm baths, tasty coffee, big brothers, helpful firstborn, a dedicate husband, and caring mom. 

More than anything I am thankful for love. True unconditional love. I know that feeling and I'm thankful I have had the opportunity to experience it. 

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Let us all continue to be thankful and continue with the holiday festivities! 

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

25 Days of Christmas



I've been feeling this holiday season for quite sometime now. And it has taken all of me to not put up any kind of Christmas decoration around the house. However, rest assure that as soon as Thanksgiving is over I will decorate right away. Probably even that night. Inside and out. 

While I wait for that day to come all I could do was plan ahead. Kind of like a Christmas bucket list. A pretty long one at that. I've been very disorganized the past years and it's about time I change that. With two boys in the house is time to give them holiday traditions to look forward too. I never had this growing up and I want to cherish every moment of every holiday with them. With my little family. 

Here are 25 things I'd like to try this year. Some are simple others a bit harder. Nonetheless I will try my best at completing them (or convincing the hubby) and enjoying the most wonderful time of year with my boys. All 3 of them!

1. Go see the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and walk around Christmas City
2. Put up Christmas tree and decor
3. Display Christmas countdown blocks
4. Watch the Live Bethlehem Christmas Pageant 
5. Send Christmas cards
6. Attend ugly sweater party
7. Have festive breakfast or brunch (inspired by Jessica)
8. Play Christmas Vacation drinking game (also inspired by Jessica)
9. Go ice skating and see the Christmas tree in NYC 
10. Make hands ornament for tree
11. Bake and decorate cookies
12. Drive through Lights in the Parkway
13. Plan a festive date night
14. Start 12 days of Christmas 
15. Pay it forward-pay for someone's coffee in line/drive thru
16. Donate food/clothes to a shelter
17. Take bake goods to ladies at work 
18. Build Gingerbread house
19. Watch movies and drink hot chocolate 
20. Take the boys to see Santa
21. Have couples night
22. Wrap all gifts on time
23. Stuff stocking
24. Open up Christmas Eve gift
25. Bake cookies for Santa

Movies to watch: Home Alone 1&2, Elf, Four Christmas, Love Actually, and pretty much all the movies in ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas. 


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Friday, November 22, 2013

Blogging Fears

We all have blogging fears at some point in this journey. Mostly in the beginning. 

We may fear "not fitting in" in the blog sphere. 
We may fear that after we make the choice to put our life out there, in writing, for others to read and criticize we won't be able to take the rude comments and harsh critics. 
We may fear voicing our own opinions and beliefs for fear that others might not agree with us and judge us. 
Another fear is that of having the pictures of our kids we so proudly put up to capture the moment or turn into a memory getting stolen and used for God knows what. 

At the beginning of my blogging journey I didn't pay much attention to the last fear noted. It was mostly at everything above that. Then when I became pregnant I started to think more about my blogging. How much is too much sharing? How do I take precaution? How do I protect my children? Myself?

I'm guilty of probably over-sharing sometimes. Not so much with my kids though. I hope. 

Even so, it worries me what some people can do with the stuff I share online. Especially my pictures. 

It wasn't till recently after reading a story about how a blogger's pictures and blog posts, were stolen and being used as someone else's. Even scarier was the fact that it was somewhere outside the United States. Then I read two other stories similar to this one. That was it for me. No more procrastinating on watermarking my pictures. I needed to find the best way to do this and lucky enough that same blogger posted a tutorial on how to watermark your pictures. I tried it and have been using it in my last few posts. Now only if there was a way to watermark previous pictures just as easy. 

I blog for me. To write my story. Our story. To print it and have it some place safe to look back on over the years. This is my journal. One that I decided, for whatever reason, to make readable by the public. Whoever they may be. Do I regret it? No. Not yet at least. Because I have learned things that have made me a better wife and better mother. A better person in general. And whether I have 1 or 50 followers I will always blog for me and my family. Yes, I will be more cautious on how much I share. Wouldn't want the wrong person to find my blog and use it against me, like the crazy-jealous-stalker I had before. And I will definitely do my very best to protect my children, husband, family, and friends from having their picture stolen. I hardly ever post pictures other than of my family but I do post pictures of others and I need to take responsibility for those images. 

Here's the tutorial I've been using. If you're not already watermarking your photos I advice you to take precaution. Is not as hard as you might think. 

The only thing I do different then Becky is that I use Blogstomp to group them nicely so instead of uploading my pictures to Facebook I open them from "Stomped" directly to paintbrush add the watermark and just re save it. It automatically saves in Stomped again and I send them all to Flickr to be uploaded to my blog post. All my ungrouped photos remain in iPhoto without being touched. However if I wanted to keep the grouped photos as well without the watermark all I have to do is use "Save As" instead of just "Save" in paintbrush. 


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I also have the option to watermark via Blogstomp but it shows in the corners and I much rather have it in the middle since that's harder to "crop out". 

What will it take for you to protect yourself and your family?
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Link Up: A Place & Event

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A Place:

After years and years of waiting to have a place of our own. A place to call our home. A place to make our home. There's no other place beside our house that I'm most thankful for. 

For starter, this house was a gift. It wasn't in the best of shape but little by little it is being transform to a place where we will always look back at and remember all the precious memories we created in it. The early years of our marriage. The place where our son learned how to ride a bike and learned how to be a big brother. The place where we brought home our second child. The place that taught us what were must have in our next house and what we do not need. The place where we learned the true responsibilities of a home owner. The place that saw me grow into homemaker. All of our ups and down. There is no mistaken that this is the most important place I could be thankful for. 

Little by little and one project at a time this house has become more then what it once was. From a cold, scary, tasteless place to a place that held my family together through it all and saw us each grow into our best version of one another. From my mother-in-law to renters and now us this place is more then a house we were gifted. This place is now Our Home and I will forever be thankful for it. 

An Event:

I can recall many events that I am thankful for for shaping me into who I am today. One very important event that without it I wouldn't be where I am today has been meeting my husband. 

That cold winter day of February 2005 in school where we first laid eyes on each other. Where we first exchanged a Hello and smiles. Without that day my sons wouldn't be here today, I wouldn't be a married woman nor a blogger. If that day I wouldn't of met my husband who knows where I would have ended up. I have learned so much. He has taught me so much. It has been a beautiful journey and I just cannot think of going through the last 8+ years of my life without him. He has helped me grow from a young girl into a woman. A wife, a mother, and even a better daughter. Thank you Steven!


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Sunday, November 17, 2013

My First Football Game!

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I had been looking forward to this day for weeks. I'm not into sports at all. Never was as a matter of fact. Not even in high school. I guess with not having a dad or a male figure around (beside my younger brother)  that was into them it never really made a difference to me. I would go to the school's pep rallies and games but it was more to be with my friends then anything else. And to root for my school of course. Beyond that there was nothing much. To tell you the truth I didn't even understand the game. Football more then anything since that was always the big thing in school. 

Then I met my husband and things didn't change. He played football in high school and played with his cousins and friends over the seasons but being that he would always end up with a fracture or broken bone he stopped that real quick and little by little he even stop watching the games all together. Just from time to time he would check scores etc.  

So every year when football season came around I would just go on my merry way like it was nothing. But this year. This year it was different. This year we made plans to go watch a home game 3.5 hours away from home to Penn State University and experience it all. The tailgating, shouting, cheering, beer drinking, after game parties, you name it. I was so excited.

That Saturday I had gotten out of work at 7am and I drove to my mother's to drop off the milk I had pumped at work and to change. About an hour later Hubby dropped the boys off and we got on the road. It didn't feel like we drove long at all. I guess with good company this sort of thing tends to happen :)

Fall

We drove straight to the stadium since it was an early game and we got there just in time. We parked, enjoyed a couple of cold beers while we stretched our legs and off we were to our seats. It was Amazing! I had never experienced anything like it. No wonder people go all out when football season arrives.

It was so much fun!

But I wasn't understanding nothing. #rookie

Fall

I sat there, so concentrated in the game and freezing my tosh off. Trying to understand what was happening and asking a gazillion question hahaha. Luckily the hubs and the other couple didn't mind. I hope. Then at the end of the game I finally understood a little bit. just a little. We went into overtime and we won! Woohoo. It was crazy. People were going wild. I was in LOVE!

We walked back to the car and cooked some burgers and yummy hot dogs while sipping on some cold beer and munching on chips. It rained a little but it stopped pretty quick. Then we drove to the hotel and I pumped, showered, and took my sweet time getting ready while everyone napped. I knew that I wouldn't be able to nap because then I wasn't going to be able to get back up for the night.

Fall

Fall

Later that night we were all ready to take the town. We went to a couple of bars and just chilled. It was a very nice time although I felt like we were in a Halloween movie. Everyone was all dressed up. Every single person. Except us. Super weird.

Our last stop was a diner for dessert. Boy was that good. So worth it! Then I was done. My body gave up and from that moment on I was like a zombie. Next thing I know we were back at the hotel and I was getting ready for bed.

The next day we walked up and down the main street shopping. We ate lunch and stopped by the creamery for some ice cream to bring home. We got the pumpkin pie flavor and happy happy joy joy which was a coconut ice cream and tasted pretty much like you were eating an almond joy bar. Then it was back on the road for the drive back home.

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Overall it was an awesome experienced and I can't wait to do it again. I'd love to take the boys at some point too. I'm sure Steven Jr. would enjoy it so much. I know I did.

I still dont understand the plays much or what most things means during a game but I'm confident that with time I will be just like those friends of mine that enjoy football so much :D



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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lactation Cookies Recipe

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These babies have been my everything lately. I'm sure that they are also the reason for the +3lbs I've gained. But omg are they good. And they sure do a great job at helping me lactate more. It did however take about two weeks before I saw a change in my supply.

I heard of lactation cookies so many times in forums and while searching for ways to increase my supply but I was scare to try them. First because the two main ingredients intimidated me, I have no idea why. And two because I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to control my eating them, hahaha. I have to admit though, I'm glad I tried them this late in the game otherwise I would have never gotten rid of my pregnancy weight left and probably would of added an extra 10lbs to that. Yikes! So as delicious as they are just be very careful with how many you eat in a day. Most I ate was 8. Shame on me.

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Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
2 -4 tablespoons brewer's yeast

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
3. Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
4. Add eggs and mix well.
5. Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
6. Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
7. Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
8. Stir in oats and chips (I didn't use the chocolate chips the second time around and they turned out great anyways)
9. Scoop onto baking sheet.
10. Bake for 12 minutes.
11. Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.

You can find the original recipe here.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and that they help with your supply!


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Friday, November 15, 2013

Adrian 10 Months

Adrian

10 months already my baby. How time has flown by. It is all so exciting yet somewhat bittersweet. I remember like it was just yesterday you were still inside me. Kicking and hiccuping and growing. Now you're part of our world, our life, making everything so much better and fun.
Adrian
Adrian

Your bottom two teeth are in. All within a week of each other after teething for nine months. We first noticed your first tooth on October 6. I was shocked and sort of upset since your auntie noticed it first because you bit her finger. What a way to tell her you missed her.
Adrian

You've been standing on your own for quite long. No support at all. Hopefully that means we'll have a walker for your birthday celebration. Which by the way has kicked off great in the planning department. So far location has been picked and booked. Date is set. Theme picked. And a couple of DIY projects are on the making. I am so excited to celebrate your first year of life. Well I'm sure we all are but I like to think I'm just a tiny bit more excited ;) 

Adrian Adrian     
You are still  not saying much in the speech department besides the same as last month and more mama. You also babble away at everything like you understand what's going on and thinking e understand what you are saying to.  But I could of swore I heard you say sit while watching TV. Kind of repeating the word. I just stood there with my eyes wide open as well as my mouth. In complete shock not knowing if I heard that right or not. I haven't heard you say it again so who knows.

Adrian

You are starting to understand commands. For example when you are crawling towards something and we call your attention and say "AJ no" you stop. Or when we call you over to us you come. If we ask you to give us something you are playing with you hand it to us. And you share. Yes it may mostly be food but you willingly give it to us when we ask. Makes me so proud. 

Adrian

You dislike having anything on your feet or head. Hats? No way. Shoes? Are you kidding me? And socks? Lets not even go there. I get the socks. Is no help when crawling and trying stand since you keep slipping and that's not safe. And shoes, we can even say its plainly annoying to have on. I know I'd rather have just socks or slippers. But why not hats? You look so adorably handsome with them on. And they keep you warm with the chilly weather. So what's the big deal? You don't even like when others were them. If it's at reach you go straight for it pulling hats or socks off. Although sucks us a bit harder for you too pull off yourself.

Adrian

You like to throw things. And what a throw you have. Be it food or your socks and shoes or toys oops there it goes. I like to think that that's your way of rebelling at this age. You can't really talk. And we don't understand exactly what you want need so to get your point across you throw things. It's def not a game. Is more you not wanting it and not eating it or leaving it on even if we beg. Oye. 

Adrian

We wanted to sign you up for swimming class on Saturdays with your brother unfortunately we did it a day too late because it was all booked. I hope we catch the next sign up on time. Thinking back to Puerto Rico and how much you loved the ocean and how you like bath time at home I'm sure you'll love swimming class. 

Adrian 

Every month it gets harder and harder to take your pictures. I have to bribe you with either a cell, a toy, or food and even with all that you end up crying. That's my cue that you've had enough and I need to end it NOW. Lately I've been noticing that when you cry you put your fingers in your mouth. I find it so adorable, I don't know why. Probably because you do it to get your way, of that I am sure. You stinker.

Love,
Mommy

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thankful Link Up: A Person

Marie from Candidly Marie is hosting mini-linkup on Thursdays about being thankful during this month. 

Sometimes we don't appreciate what we've been blessed with be it a person, a place, an event, and so on. Not to say that just because is November, a month for giving thanks, that we should go all year without being thankful for what we have. But I guess we're reminded more this time of year to go a little further and show our gratitude. Last week topic was A Person. I appreciate every single person in my life for putting up with me ;) but there's one in particular that I'd like to recognize on this link up and that's my husband. 

We're high school sweethearts and that means he has put up with me for over 8 years now. We both know I am not the easiest person and I can be a bit stubborn, as can he. Yet even so he decided to spend the rest of his life with me. Me. And I will be forever flattered and grateful for that. 

Not only that but he has been an amazing father and a great provider. Providing for his family comes first in his book. He's so understanding about my school and supports me 100%. He works hard to allow me to work a part time so that I can be home more with the boys. Yes night shift has been rough on us and he much rather have me working a "normal" schedule but he understands is what works for now. 

Thank you for being who you are my love. For loving me. For being on my side. I know I don't say it enough but I hope you never doubt my love for you.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The end is near

I never knew how much I would enjoy breastfeeding like I do now. Even with Steven Jr. I liked it. But I wasn't able to experience it as long as I did now. And now, now I can truly say I love it! AJ and I have created such a tight bond with each other. 

I feel blessed and fortunate that I was able to breastfeed AJ this long. I know many don't get the opportunity to fulfill this want for several reasons. And although I would love to continue exclusively breastfeeding him till one I have to be realistic and not let myself become selfish and deprive him of the nourishment that he needs. I have been optimistic hoping that I would be able to bounce back up and increase my supply. Even if its only by 2 more ounces. Unfortunately, that road looks very dark. I have tried it all. From fenugreek, mother's milk tea, brewer's yeast, flex seed oil, lactation cookies, over pumping, increasing my food and drink intake, power feeding/pumping. I've done it all and nothing (At least nothing until two weeks later, thank you Jesus).  

Just a couple of weeks ago I was only able to pump between 1.5-2.5 ounces at each pumping session. Which gives me  just about a 6oz bottle daily. Not bad. I use that bottle to leave it for my mom to use for bedtime feeding. Problem is that AJ still wakes up once overnight. He keeps switching up on me, that kid. And when he wakes up he needs milk and I am not meeting his demand. So what do I do? I can't starve my kid. 

Not to mention my freezer stash is gone. About 2 months ago I lost it all. The freezer door was left open and the 100 ounces I had there was unfrozen and warm. Definitely not good (we also lost our meat and seafood but that was beside the case for me). Ever since then I've been holding on to a thin thread with leaving enough milk for my baby when I'm at work. It's been working. But it's also been getting harder and harder. Especially because I've been working more days closer together. Three weeks back was the downfall. I worked three days in a row, one off, one one, one off, one on, three off. That definitely had me on the verge. I cried at every pumping session because stuffing my mouth with cookies and tea and pills had not been working. Well if anything at least it kept my supply steady at 2 ounces instead of dropping more so I'm thankful for that. 

Adrian

At the end of it all however I had a decision to make. And it all comes down to supplementing. I'm staying positive about it and keeping in mind that I will continue to mainly breastfeed is making things easier. I only need the formula for night feedings when I'm away but I will continue to pump at work and home and feed throughout the day everyday. So that's not too bad. 

How AJ will feel about that is another story. 

What about if he enjoys the fast flow of formula in a bottle more and refuses my breast milk? Or what if he doesn't want anything to do with the formula at all? 

Freaking out now. 

Again I'm staying optimistic that maybe using formula will buy me a little bit of time to get my supply to increase and the pressure won't be as high because my baby is still meeting his daily intake. And because I'm pumping a 6oz bottle over night/a day I can probably use that and split in in half to mix with the formula so that he's still getting most of his milk intake from my breast milk. 

Does that make sense or am I just in denial mode? 

By no means am I put down formula or mothers who formula feed. Bottom line is that this is personal choice and we mothers decide what will work best for us and what will benefit our babies and to me breastfeeding is my preferred method of feeding my child. 

The way he depends on me to provide for him. The way he caress my face, sort of like thanking me. The way he kicks his little feet or brings it close to my face so that I can tickle him with my nose. The way he has made a game out of putting his fingers in my mouth for me to bite gently, then he giggles and pulls it out then does it again. How he fits perfectly into my arms and we spend hundreds of seconds just staring at each other. Noticing every feature. Every imperfection. These are the things I will miss most when the end comes. I pray to God that I don't forget these moments. I will treasure them to the best of my ability. And for now I will just have to cherish the last few days. Or weeks. hopefully months. Because either way the end was almost near. 


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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Be Thankful

Often times we tend to complain about the smallest things in life. Things that may or may not be important. Things that we take too seriously and give too much thought too. Things that, simpy put, really don't matter. Much. 

Where am I going with this? 

Well today something happened to me. Not me personally but someone close to me. And this thing served as a reminder for what I should really be focusing on in life and what I should be doing daily. Be Thankful. Thankful for all that I have which some people lack. Example, a home. 

The past several months I've been feeling defeated. Unlucky in some aspects of life. I've felt angry at some people I interact with almost daily and some whom I don't even know too well due to their behavior, and one in particular that's no longer with me. Angry at myself for past actions. Lots of tears have been shed while in the shower or doing the dishes. Sometimes even during a diaper change when I'm home alone. I was beginning to think an unwanted friend (PPD) was lingering around. It was that bad. 

I asked and asked why me? Why was I going through this? Why me?!!! When all along I should had been asking what was the message being sent? Or what lesson was I being taught? I needed to look at things differently. And still should. Instead of focusing on the bad and the why I need to look at the bright side of things. Find the good in every situation. Think positive and always always have a smile on my face. Because even if I'm feeling down something as simple as a smile can change ones day. Whether is myself or a stranger walking by. You just never know how much of an influence one can be and how easily contagious a type of attitude can be. 

So this thing that happened today. It concerns someone's health. A very sad but true reality. Something you can't ignore. Things like this is what we need to focus on and worry about. Something that's worth crying for and feeling defeated. But even with that we should still be thankful. Because there's a lesson behind it, if not for oneself for someone close to us. 

After hearing this news I began to think about my family. My kids. My self. How lucky we are to be healthy. To be alive. How lucky I was to be in good health. Suddlenly all those feelings I had of feeling angry and defeated went away because it didn't matter much. I was alive and healthy. Healthy! and I should be thankful for that. Even if everything is not going as I would hope I'm still here. With my senses intact to enjoy my kids, my family, the season. 

Life is not easy. Or fair. But we are here for a reason. With a purpose. We shouldn't waste our life away or take anything for granted. We should take advantage of every second we are given and make the best out of it because our days are numbered and we never know when our end will come. Or when our health will no longer be in good condition. 

So this month, being that is the time of Thanks Giving, I am challenging myself to think positive, see the good in everything, and be thankful every single day. No matter the situation. 

I'm going to make a list of everything I'm thankful for after really paying attention. Even if its the smallest thing ever. Then I'm going to share it here. To have in writing and be able to refer back to it when I'm feeling down or defeated. Today I'm thankful for my health and that of my family. 

 I challenge you to do the same. What are you thankful for? 

 “Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” – Paulo Coelho


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