Thursday, February 20, 2014

Big Brother

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When the hubby and out found our we were pregnant. At nineteen. We didn't know what to do. One thing we did know was that we weren't ready to be parents. Yet with that in mind we proceeded to make the best out of the situation and become a family. Another thing we did know for sure was that many years would pass by before we had another child. And so it was. Almost seven years passed by before we got pregnant again. 

During those years I worried. Worried that we were being selfish about giving our son a sibling close in age so that they can grow together. I worried that once we did give him a sibling chaos would enter our life. That Steven would not handle being a big brother quite as easily as it is for other big brothers. I worried that there would be jealousy and feeling of not being loved. Of course that as parents we worry about many things but these were my biggest worries. 

Then I got pregnant. We told Steven and he was thrilled. As my belly grew he got more and more excited. When he felt kicks and hiccups, well that was just surreal for him. Toward the end of the pregnancy he'd ask constantly when would his brother come. In December we made a countdown to his brothers due date. He thought his brother would he here by Christmas and he was so upset when that didn't happen. But sure enough just a little over a week after Christmas Adrian entered this world and changed his life forever. 

Steven has proven to be such a great big brother. From the very beginning he was attached. He would want to be around his brother. He always wanted to hug him and kiss him he hated watching him cry and often times would get upset with us if it seemed that we were doing nothing to stop him from crying. He wouldn't be upset because the cry bothered him but rather because he cared about his brother and didn't want to see him cry. I remember various times when his exact words were "mom don't you get it. He can't talk. He can't tell you what's wrong. He's not a big kid like me. He's a baby. He needs you. You need to hold him. Give him milk or change his diaper". Other times he'll come to me and say "mom if you don't pick up my brother I'm going to pick him up myself from his crib. He's a baby mom. He needs you". That was always his argument and it made me feel so good that he cared. He really cared. 

There have been times where I've sense some jealousy because of the amount of attention that Adrian requires with being a baby and all. And Steven is sure to let you know if he's feeling left out or not loved as much. It doesn't happen often but I'd be lying if I don't admit to it happening. He's not perfect and there are times he does things that he shouldn't be doing to get our attention but we can't get too upset. At the end of the day he's still just a child, a seven year old that also requires attention even if it's at a different level.

Now that Adrian is acting more like a big boy by walking, playing, understanding, and talking more things have gotten to be so much fun in the house. They play Marco Polo by saying "AJ & Pollo", Adrian laughs at everything Steven does be it big or small and always wants to be where his big brother is. Steven is always trying to feed AJ, he acts like a parent sometimes. He even knows how to fix AJ's bottle, thank God for big brothers. He can carry him without a problem. Granted that AJ is light in weight. But he'll just take him out of his crib and hand him to me or transfer him from the bed or couch to the floor (under supervision of course). Or he'll take off AJ's seat belt once we're home and take him out of his car seat because being in there is so uncomfortable for AJ, according to Steven. He'll share his food and toys. He'll help me entertain me when I'm trying to cook dinner or clean or if we're driving and AJ is being fuzzy. Those are the best moments.

Steven takes his big brother role very serious when it come to AJ. I would have never imagined that things would be this smoothly. Ask me again in 5 years if things are still this smooth. 

I don't regret at all waiting this long to have another child. And I will probably wait no less then three years before having a third one. My boys are so unique in their specific age and so much fun. It can be challenging sometimes having their individual needs be so far off but I bet is not as challenging as having two kids in diapers, caring around twice as much things in a diaper bag, and putting two kids in and out of car seats. Not to mention daycare cost.

Our kids are babies just once. They are toddlers just once. And you may have more babies and more toddlers but you will never have that baby and that toddler again. So I choose to enjoy these years one child at a time. It may seem hard to start over again after a child is in school and you're so done and over with diaper changes and teething. It may be tempting to get all your pregnancies and those first couple of years over with back to back but I don't plan on having the urge to have another child in my late 30s or even in my 40s because I had them all in my early 20s. I want to space them out and truly experience and enjoy the pregnancies and the terrible 2s one child at a time. Even if at times I may feel like a first time mother all while also raising a 7 year old. 

Thank goodness for the freedom of choice!

Hand and the Heart
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Apple Pie

Back when I hosted my very first Thanksgiving I had baked tons of dessert. I'm not a fan of apple pies but for some reason I decided to make a couple of them so I hit the web to look for a good recipe and voila, jackpot! I found this delicious recipe on and it's definitely a keeper. 

For the past year and some change I've been baking apple pies using this recipe and I cannot get enough of all the good feedback I get as well of how amazing they always turn out to be. This past Friday we had a late start due to the snow and I decided to bake an apple pie. I looked up that delicious recipe and got to work by peeling, coring, and cutting the apples with this awesome little gadget :) 


Again I got great feedback at work so I decided to share it here for anyone interested and of course for easy access when I feel like baking one again ;)


Apple Pie by Grandma Ople


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Good Neighbors


Several events have happened the past several week that has made me take a step back and really look at the picture at hand. I have some awesome neighbors! 

We live in a town home. There are about 12 homes in our row and were right in the middle. I used to hate it at first. I just never saw myself living in a row home. I always thought that when we got out first home it would be a twin home at the very least. It's been our dream to have a single home with lots of yard space, definitely not what we have now. 

Neighbors? I never really thought about much. Yea to the common waving and hellos  but nothing more. Were loners I guess. However, last week made me realized that having a relationship with your neighbor could be beneficial. And even if you don't, you might find that one neighbor that would go the extra mile. 

In our less than two years in our home our neighbors have proven to be more then awesome. The one directly on our right have mowed our lawn every week during the warm months since we've moved in. Granted that we practically share lawns but he could easily just do his side like everyone else does. 

I believe it was earlier this year, I had dropped my license and bank card on the lawn and some kids found them while playing. They have to be not much older then my son Steven (who was six at that time) and the next day while getting out of my car my neighbor from 4 doors down approaches me and hands me my ID and bank card. She said her grand kids found them and that she thought the girl in the picture looked familiar so she was waiting to see until I got home to check if they were mine. How nice is that?. I didn't even realized I had dropped them. 

The week before last during one of our snow storms someone shoveled our front. We had gotten home just right after 6pm and we were dreading having to shovel. Then my husband goes out front and calls me out to show me. I was in complete awe. Who could have done it? We still have no idea who did it. My heart felt so happy and full of joy. A true act of kindness. Even thinking about it brings a smile to my face. 

MiscLastly, on Wednesday I got home from work and decided to park out back because the front is on street parking and that street is an "snow emergency road" during snow days. Well the back is very tight, a alley you could say, and I got stuck pulling into the parking space. Of course it would happen to me. The hubby was picking up the kids and wasn't going to be home for another 15-20 mins. Then a car was trying to pass by and I was holding them back. I got so hot and sweaty and just too worked up trying to get out. But I did! So I pulled in on to a neighbor's parking that was clean to wait for the hubby to come. Then I noticed a guy in my rear view mirror waiting with a shovel and an ice axe. I got out of my car to see what he needed and he told me that he came to help me. Now isn't that the nicest thing. He asked where was I trying to pull in and I told him and he began to tell me how to do it and softening the snow so that I could drive right in. Then he gave me tips on how to get out in the morning etc.

When the hubby got home we were still outside. He then showed us his house and I thanked him multiple times. I was so grateful.  Is not often that you come across neighbors or people like this. The car waiting could have easily gotten out of the car to help but didn't. I'm not judging, I soon learned the driver was alone and a girl. I probably would have done the same and stayed in my car. 

All three of these neighbors are from a different race. There was a Caucasian, an African American, and an Indian.  Which makes it even more pleasing to me because all this stereotyping out there couldn't be more wrong. Nice people still exist and they don't have to be a particular race or age. 

I feel like doing something nice for these people but haven't thought of the right thing just yet. I will definitely be doing a selfless act of kindness when the time presents itself to pay these things forward. 

"Be the Change you wish to see in the World."

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sleepless Nights

As if getting used to a new routine is not challenging enough, getting used to a new routine being sleep deprive makes it even harder. 

Lately, or rather ever since I started my new job our youngest child has been having issues staying asleep in his crib and even with us on our bed. I knew from the beginning that it was going to be hard on everyone adjusting to our new routine But I never imagined that the little one would have such a hard time with it. Maybe it's due to his teething happening around the same time? Who knows. Yet something had to be done about it. He's always been a great sleeper and has actually been steadily sleeping through the night since November. Until recently that is. The times before that were he was sleeping through the night and it just went out the window were due to either teething or sickness. So when his 5th tooth came in it made sense why his sleep had been so out of whack. A week after the tooth was out and he still had not gone back to sleeping normally had me wondering what could be the problem?

At first I thought that it was because he would get up early, around 5am, then fall asleep around 745am when we were on our way to my mother's until about 10am or after. Then he either didn't nap all throughout the day there and would fall asleep on our ride home when I picked him up around 5:15pm. Or he would nap around 4pm at my mothers all the way through our arrival at home. In either case is hard for a child his age to take late naps or be overtired and have to go to bed at 8pm. Right? 

After discussing with my mother what AJ's routine was like at her house we decided to adjust it a bit to make sure he's napping with her at an earlier time. Even with a better nap schedule going on at my mothers he still wasn't sleeping through the night at home. Then it got to the point where this child of ours refused to go to sleep at night altogether. Putting him to bed at night was an ongoing battle every night. I started being very observant around bedtime to see if I catch on to what might be going on that is making him fight his sleep so much and I've come up with two conclusions. 

UntitledOne is that all of this sleep issue started right around the time he began to walk. He loves being on his feet. Going places, getting his own toys to play with or going up to the dog area. He just loves to walk! I've noticed that whenever we are in his room he wants to be put down on the floor. From there he goes from spot to spot collecting toys to play with. Which leads to the second thing. His room holds the majority of his toys. And they're pretty much at plain sight and at hand reach for him. So being that bedtime routine is done in his bedroom he gets distracted to what's really to happened at that time. After shower, while I'm dressing him he fuses to be let go so that he can go after his toys or walk out of his room to look around for his brother. I admit that I'm guilty of giving him a toy to keep him occupied while I finish dressing him for bed but that shouldn't matter much, should it? Either way. After that is feeding time and reading then lights go off and I cuddle and rock him. 

Most nights the hubby puts him to bed while I finish cleaning the kitchen or do whatever needs to be done before bed. Other times I just take the easy way out and let him breast feed himself to sleep. I know is not the best way to handle the situation but I am not a morning person, whatever that means, so I need all the sleep that I can get. At least until I get comfortable with my new schedule.

Once he would finally fall asleep however he would toss and turn all through the night. I just couldn't take it anymore. Co-sleeping was not an option and using the cry-it-out method was just making things worse and that's just not us. We can't sleep right knowing our child is screaming his head off down the hallway. I did a little research and talked to some mothers then worked on my own method and so far it's been working like a charm.

UntitledOur routine? well I bought a projecting mobile (wish I had done it earlier, like newborn status earlier). We started to read before bath time just because if it was done after he would be on play mode. After bath time we go to his room get pajamas on, (I would have the milk ready to go next to the rocking chair) turn the projector on and lights off. I rock him while he drinks his milk and until the projector goes off, 10 minutes total. By that time he's very sleepy. When I first started this routine he would fall asleep in my arms and when I'd transfer him over to his crib he would wake up. I'd still put him in the crib and would just say "Momma's here baby, momma's here. Go back to sleep" and he would. That was 5 minutes of waiting then he was out and I sneak out of the room. A week later I started putting him in his crib while he was still drowsy, still standing around the crib while he fell asleep. Little by little I moved closer and closer to the door until last night. Last night I put him in the crib turned the mobile on 5 more minutes and walked out. I watched from our room through the monitor and was proud to see that he put himself to sleep without having me in the room. Go baby!

Today I noticed a 6th tooth was officially out. That confirms to me that babies don't always cry for the heck of it. Teething must be painful and all they want is comfort from their momma or daddy. AJ has been acting normal again and hasn't woken up through the night in the last week or so. He sleeps about 10 hours at night and takes 2 naps 1.5+ hours in length a day. Making him and us rested enough to go on with our daily routines.

Not only should you comfort your baby when they need to be comfort but take your time getting back into an old routine or a new one for that matter. I honestly don't mind rocking AJ before bedtime. Rocking won't last for ever and there will come a time where he won't want to cuddle anymore so until then I plan to take advantage of the time I have left of it and enjoy every second of it :) 


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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

First Tantrum

Last weekend we headed out to run errands. You know, grocery shopping and house cleaning supplies as well as a few things for Super Bowl dinner at MILs. We only had AJ with us and it was getting closer to his nap time which I knew we weren't going to be home for. As we walk in to the store we grabbed a few snacks for the week which included granola bars and breakfast bars, AJs favorite. He noticed them from the shelve and wanted one right away. No harm right, he was soon going to be due for lunch anyways. Like five minutes later he was done and asked for more. Yes he loves them that much. I think that if we would give him the box he would eat all the bars in one sitting. I tried distracting him and it worked. Later on as I moved things around in the cart he noticed them and wanted another one. He was getting so loud that we decided to give him one.

Fast forward to checking out. 

As we waited in line and put the items on the counter he noticed them again and wanted more. That would have been 3 in less than an hour. I put my foot down and did not fall for it. Instead I grabbed a water and gave him some. Still he was going out of control. We were those parent a checkout with the child who screamed at the top of his lungs because he didn't get his way. On the line next to ours there was another toddler with an Elmo. Well my son wanted that Elmo. Of course that he couldn't have it and as I try to stay calm and try to get a two years old to understand that that was not his toy things just got worse. He's arching his back and kicking his feet and so on. Then he points to something and says "toodles. I want toodles". I try to figure out what he was pointing at and couldn't figure it out. Again as he arched his back he points upward and I follow his finger. Here there's a Mickey Mouse balloon stuck on the very high ceiling and my son happened to noticed it and wanted it. 

I honestly think we handled the situation well by not giving in to his demands but boy oh boy I was sweating and felt so hot like it was mid summer. I don't remember experiencing this with Steven in his toddler-hood years. I don't think I'm ready for this. Luckily we we're just about to leave the store and it was two of us. Imagine it had started earlier and it was just me? I need to start prepping for such things. 

Within minutes after being in the car AJ fell asleep. What did I learn from this event? Never go out to run errands before AJ takes a nap. This was also a reality check that we have a toddler. And with this age tantrums will come. This was his first I'm sure there's plenty more to come.