Distraction-Free Spouse Time

I always tell those who are pregnant with their first to take advantage of distraction-free naps and time alone with your spouse! Pilot and I were pretty good in the beginning, after having Peter, about going on a date night at least once a month. Of course, life happens and we realized it had been 4 months without time alone! Parenting takes its toll and I am able to tell by less patience and oh yea, who’s that man I lay in bed with every night?

This past weekend Pilot and I were able to attend a wedding in New Orleans. Yeehaw! Right?! Well, those of you who are reading this and have not done a date night since your first child… 5 years ago, know why this is easier said than done. When we first got the save-the-date for the wedding Pilot looked at me and without saying anything I knew, we have to go. “But it’s so hard for me to leave the kids!” Waaaa. That’s me. I’m so guilty of this but when this opportunity came up I sucked it up, packed my pump, and left for the airport.

Our past year has been especially difficult. Pilot left on deployment when I was only 2 months pregnant and didn’t officially return until a week before Catalina was born (She is 6 months old now)! So, we have not spent quality time together in a really long time. We needed this, and for all of you who are thinking to yourself of all the excuses that are stewing in your head, knock it off!

I was quick to come up with plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t go to New Orleans; however, I eventually came up with the solutions below.

Reasons I shouldn’t go:

#1: I am nursing.

#2: I hate pumping.

#3: I don’t want to get mastitis again (I have had it 5 times between my 2 kids)!

#4: I’m going to miss them too much to sleep at night.

#5: I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a babysitter.

Solutions:

#1: Take the dang pump!

#2: Suck it up and pump. The fun will outweigh the suckiness (no pun intended).

#3: Ummm…yea, kinda crossed my fingers on that one.

#4: You really won’t miss the kids if they are with someone you trust.

#5: My sister and her husband watched both my kids! They are the wind beneath my wings! I understand not everyone has this luxury, but if you have good friends that can take the kids or sibling, parents, just reassure them that when it’s time for them to want to get away, you will be there for them!

Once we landed in New Orleans we went straight to the hotel, unpacked, then hit the French Quarter. We went to Acme Oyster House and had the most delicious charbroiled oysters!!! I grew up eating raw oysters in Mexico but this was a game changer! Then we stopped in Mango Mango for the largest Hurricane they had. Pilot and I walked Bourbon street, sipped our slushies (Daiquiris), and did some of the most legit people watching. I smiled a few times when I would see other tourists with their stroller, kids, diaper bags, and the frazzled look in their eyes…just a little reminder that that’s not me. Haha Kinda mean but man, it felt good to not have to worry about anyone else but myself! Pilot and I walked hand in hand all weekend and sat uninterrupted at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m not trying to rub it in, I swear. Those of you who do get away once a year, or maybe even more, good job and I am sure your marriage shows for it. Pilot and I need this time to rekindle what we had before kids. Our kids also need to understand the importance of Mom and Dad staying madly in love!

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The line-up at Mango Mango!

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Sipping on Hurricanes on Bourbon street.

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Not the best picture quality but it’s the only one we took at the wedding!

Stay focused on the love that started it all. If it’s dinner at home while the kids are at the in-laws, going to New Orleans for a wedding, or going to lunch down the street, strive to find those butterflies you got in your stomach when you had your first kiss. Now go have fun you love birds!

 

Potty Training, Crap.

Potty training, toilet learning, whatever you call it, it is dreaded by most. Totally understandable since no one wants a kid peeing in their house all day. It’s like having a puppy all over again, however this puppy doesn’t get their nose in the poop when they have an accident (very frowned upon).

So what made my experience not so bad? Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. “The variable isn’t in the method. The variable is in the child.” Every child is different and is going to toilet train at their own pace! Every child, however must always take off the diaper. This is a milestone just like learning to eat solid foods, learning to walk and learning to talk! Milestones such as those are fun to watch because you are learning more and more about how your child learns, potty training should be no different.

My biggest pet peeve is when you tell someone you will be potty training and they respond by saying, “why don’t you wait until they are ready?” No one knows your child better than you do and if you think your child has the best potential to pee and poop in the toilet at the age of 3 or 4, than by all means, wait. I am telling you right now, children are much smarter than marinating in their own poop and pee for 3 years. I COMPLETELY understand not wanting to put one more thing on your plate when having a 2 year old (and an infant as well), but once you put your mind to it and make it a priority, than it WILL happen. Peter is 28 months (a little over 2 years old) and POTTY TRAINED! YAY! And he is because I expected this much of him and prepared him to succeed. It takes time, effort and accountability.

Before beginning your potty training journey talk to your child about what diapers are for and what the toilet is. Take them to the bathroom when you go and explain to them what is happening and say, someday you will pee and poop in the potty too! I started talking about the potty when Peter was about a year old (it’s never too early to expose them to eliminating in the toilet!). I would catch him pooping (in his diaper) and would sign “toilet.” Soon he began to make a connection with the sign and the action of pooping. It was not my intention to potty train Peter when he was 10 months old, however, it only helped him when it came time when he was 2.
Jamie maps out potty training in 4 steps, Clueless to I Peed to I’m Peeing to I have to go Pee. She says each segment can take roughly a day. Again, it depends on the child. Some kids will breeze through one segment but can stall out in another.

How Peter’s potty journey went…
Day 1: Take off the diaper and WATCH. Literally, you have one job for at least the first 2 or 3 days and that is to WATCH your toddler EVER. SINGLE. SECOND. Do not take your eyes off of him or her those first 2 days! No phone. No computer. No watching the movie your child is watching. YOU ARE WATCHING YOUR CHILD. This step is the most important because as soon as your child begins to pee, you gently say, “Oh, you are peeing (or pooping),” pick him up and take him to the potty. It is very important you do not act startled, yell, or panic. Do not say “it’s okay” because it’s not, but you are to let them recognize they are peeing. By the end of the first or second day, they should recognize the sensation of peeing and be on their way to I’m Peeing or I have to go Pee. Jamie does not like to put days with segments but it gives you an idea of where your child is moving, forward or back.

Nap time and Bedtime: We explained to Peter that diapers are only for sleep time. I put a diaper on him right before his nap and as soon as he wakes up. I ask Peter to help me take off his diaper when he wakes up so I don’t get a fight to leave it on. Same goes for night time and morning.
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As soon as we felt Peter mastered I have to go Pee, which was around day 4, we put pants on him. Jamie highly suggests going commando for up to 3 weeks. Underwear feels too much like a diaper and they can regress. So, just pants it is! So far, while still keeping a close watch on him, he lets us know when he has to pee or poop so we can help him manipulate his pants quicker for him to eliminate in the potty. Don’t get me wrong, Peter has soaked through about 6 pairs of pants within the first 2 days of wearing pants because I wasn’t watching him close enough! Remember, this is still all so new, so don’t get ahead of yourself or don’t expect them to potty perfectly after mastering it naked!

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We spent a lot of time outside the third and fourth days.

Rewarding. Most likely, your child’s face will light up brighter than your Christmas tree when they eliminate in the potty those first few days. Peter’s reward was taking his waste to the big toilet, dumping it, flushing and waving bye-bye. All while grinning from ear to ear! There is nothing much more rewarding than that, for both of us!

This will be some of the most challenging days of parenting because staring at your child for a few days may start to make you feel a little crazy. That’s why you should indulge in some wine or a massive amount of chocolate at the end of the day. You deserve it! I seriously recommend buying Jamie’s book, its a PDF so you can start reading and mentally preparing ASAP. She has all the answers for any dilemma you may find yourself in, along with day-care, preschool, anything like that that seems to be haunting you about potty training.

Major props to those potty training your kids who are 2 or even younger! It will be SO worth it when you are done!

 

A few things you will need:

Wine: For yourself at the end of the day

Coffee: Hopefully brewed by the time pee pee pants wakes up

Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki.

Potty: Keep one in the space you hang out the most in the house. Always keep your toddler aware of where it is!

Travel potty: I keep this one in my car, it can also fit in my purse (I have a giant purse).

Elderberry // Immunity Booster

It’s cold and flu season and it seems everyone around me is getting sick! I may need to knock on wood before this next statement but I am pretty confident when I say it, I feel like everyone is getting sick BUT my family! I have been giving Peter elderberry syrup since before he was a year old and I swear it’s the reason why he is never sick. I used to buy it but it can cost over $3 an ounce! This one batch costs under $10 for 16 ounces!
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Ingredients
2/3 cup Black Elderberries

3.5 cups of water

2T Fresh or dried ginger root (I used fresh ginger and cut pieces off the root directly)

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp clove powder

1 cup Raw honey (make sure it’s RAW. Raw provides benefits pasteurized honey does not)

  1. In a medium saucepan pour water and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves (DO NOT ADD HONEY).
  2. Once it’s boiling, cover and lower to a simmer for about 45 minutes or until reduced by almost half.
  3. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow it to cool enough to be handled. Pour contents through strainer into a glass bowl or cup.
  4. Discard the elderberries (I threw the compost in my garden). Allow the syrup to cool to lukewarm, once the syrup is no longer hot add 1 cup of honey and mix well.
  5. Once mixed really well, pour your elderberry syrup in a glass jar of some sort and store in the fridge! (I use amber glass bottles)

Kids take anywhere between 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp and adults take 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp a day. You can take if and when symptoms of cold or flu appear, however, I give it to my kids all year to boost immunity.

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Ingredients are really important, especially the raw honey. Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It promotes body and digestive health, is a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the immune system and eliminates allergies. When pasteurized, honey turns into nothing but refined sugar and has none of these amazing benefits.

Enjoy and stay healthy!

Winter Necessities // Baby

The weather has officially changed and I fear the baby felt it most. These are all of my go-to essentials for this weather and they make the colder weather not so harsh.

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1. Crane humidifier – I love this cool mist humidifier because I can use it year around! I have had it for 2 years now and love the way it makes the air feel.

2. Essential oils – I use my oils almost everyday and mostly in place of medicine. Place a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender in your humidifier for a better night sleep for baby (or yourself).

3. Nose Frida – This thing is magical. Don’t waste your time trying to pull out any snot from poor baby’s nose using an old bulb…the Nose Frida gets way down there and clears your baby for hours!

4. Saline spray – Spray some of this first then use the Nose Frida…won’t be seeing any boogs for a while.

5. Badger Balm – You can easily make your own, but I bought this on a pinch and it’s been wonderful. Mix half of what you’re using with coconut oil so it’s not so intense on baby and rub it on the bottom of their feet!

Disneyland // The Million Dollar Smile

I’m going to start off by saying these pictures couldn’t be any cuter to me. Peter is going through a smile phase…at first you want to correct it but after realizing that this, this is Peter’s smile, I can already feel the joy I am going to have when looking back on these pictures!

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Peter on the teacup ride with Pa and Dad. He looks like he’s in pain but I can assure you, it’s quite the opposite.

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Catalina with the Matterhorn ride in the back drop.

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Train ride, there’s that smile again!

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Catalina in her classic Mickey hat with her name stitched on the back. My siblings and I all had this hat as kids!

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These were the first characters Peter had ever met! I was unsure how he would react or if he would even want to say hi. When it was his turn he ran up to Pooh and gave him the biggest hug! Watching Peter meet Pooh and his friends was the highlight of my day!

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At these moments when Peter met Pooh and Tigger, I saw the magic that Disney speaks of. Peter’s eyes lit up, and he was so filled with joy that everyone watching couldn’t help but feel that joy and smile too!

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Best ending to a perfectly magical day! He didn’t want to take his Mickey ears off for the drive home.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month // October

In October 1988, Ronald Reagan proclaimed this month to recognize the loss so many parents experience in the United States and around the world.

In April 2013 I had an ectopic pregnancy. I didn’t know I was pregnant but I was experiencing pain so severe I compared it to the pain I felt pre-epidural laboring with Peter. My husband brought me to the hospital to make sure everything was okay, and maybe it was just really bad cramps (I was hoping). After a pregnancy test in the hospital they told me I was pregnant but needed to look with an ultrasound. The technician came in and put the wand over my belly but was silent. She looked at me, looked at the screen, took a deep breath and told me she would be right back. My husband and I just looked at each other but I was still hopeful. What she saw was “free-flowing blood.” I was immediately rushed to the other hospital for women and newborns (same place I delivered Peter). The doctor came in a told me what they were going to do.

I lost it.

I could not let them take my baby. I cried and cried and said no. Apparently my ectopic had ruptured and I was bleeding out so they had to get in as soon as possible.

After the crying subsided and my husband and I lay on the hospital bed waiting for surgery, I prayed and prayed that God would hold my baby and keep her with Him. I can’t explain what happened at that moment except I felt peace. I said, okay God, I am in your hands.

After waking up from surgery they told me they took out almost 2 liters of blood just free-flowing in my abdomen and there was no sign of the baby.

There was no sign of the baby.

That peace I felt while praying to God, that was God. My baby is with Him in heaven. There is no other explanation. I pray everyday for my baby and I picture her sitting on Jesus’ lap smiling down on me.

“A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.” -Jay Neugeboren

Their lives were too short, yet so meaningful.

Take this opportunity to keep someone you know who has lost a child in your thoughts and prayers. It is never easy and the pain never goes away, but with a strong support system it is helpful knowing you are not alone.

Visit Remember Our Babies for more information.

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Simple Syrup // Coconut Sugar

I am addicted to coffee. And I wish I could drink black coffee like I did back in college but now, since its almost a life source, I enjoy my coffee to taste like sugar. waa waa. I try not to buy coffee creamers with added taste because they usually come with a ton of other ingredients I don’t want. I decided to make my own but instead of using regular sugar, I thought to try coconut sugar. It is SO good! I added vanilla extract for an extra vanilla flavor but you don’t even need it if you don’t want it!

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Ingredients

2 cups Coconut Sugar

1 cup water

2 Tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

Directions

1. Heat water over medium heat and bring to a boil.

2. Add coconut sugar to boiling water.

3.  Stir the syrup for about 3-5 minutes.

4.  Remove syrup from the heat and allow to cool.

5. Store in a glass bottle or other storage container and refrigerate (optional step add vanilla extract)

This syrup keeps for up to 6 months in the fridge.

Yields 1 cup

 

I add my coconut syrup (about 2 tbsp) with some creamer in my coffee! The perfect amount of sweet.

Be Still // Terrible Twos

I have been having a really difficult time balancing the new baby and Peter. He all of a sudden dislikes his sister and has no problem letting that show by almost being dangerous around her. It is so stressful when both my babies are screaming for attention at the same time. The worse of the problems is Peter screams and throws tantrums over things that are almost ridiculous. I have formulated some stress relievers because man, I need them almost everyday.

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  1. Close your eyes and count backwards from 10.
  2. Hug the screaming toddler with loving arms until he or she stops or calms down (it will make both of you feel better).
  3. Use a calming visualization. Picture yourself at the beach with the sound of the waves crashing onto shore. Think of a place that relaxes you.
  4. Repeat to yourself slowly your favorite quote. I like the saying, “Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be Still. Be.” Saying this brings me back to understanding that God is with me and this too shall pass (which is another good saying).
  5. Go for a walk (with the kids…) bring snacks or maybe something you normally wouldn’t give your kid, like a lollipop. This gives you an opportunity to get out of the house into fresh air and maybe even some silence for 5 minutes. Today I caved and bought lollipops at Trader Joes. I chose my battle and it was not arguing with Peter in the middle of the grocery store with a baby strapped to my chest. Been there, done that, and I was not in the mood. IT’S OKAY!
  6. Let them scream it out. I am CONSTANTLY trying to nit pick everything Peter says and does! Yes, no, don’t do that, that’s okay, please, thank you…all day long. Today, I just let him listen to himself for about 10 minutes. Granted, I counted backwards about 100 times, it tired him out and I finally got him to nap 30 minutes later (4pm) because he exhausted himself. Just stay calm in the process.
  7. Call a friend, your spouse, or your mom. I’m not usually a phone person but sometimes it’s helpful to talk about what’s going on. If you don’t want to talk about the issue, talk about something else!
  8. Open up that Bible of yours. Read God’s word and listen carefully. I have to admit, I don’t open my Bible as often as I would like to but when I do I am instantly in a better place. My parents used to tell me to repeat Jesus’ name until the thoughts and feelings that are bothering me go away. Jesus is here with us all the time and He wants us to come to him with our fears and frustrations. Saying his name is peace.

I hope these tips are helpful to you during trying times. Every parent is on a learning curve that is sometimes unreal. We have to trial and error everyday and really try to be the best version of ourselves so our kids grow up to do the same. It’s not worth losing it in front of your toddler so when I feel like I am getting to that point I just do one of these. My goal is that one day when my children feel overwhelmed they know what do (from watching me) and are able to feel better instead of going off the handle bars!

Good luck to you!

A Day in the Life // At Home

Kristina Neri of Anza Foto is a documentary style photographer who has an eye for the naked truth. She captures moments you thought only gimplses of vivid memory existed, the moments you never want to forget. I was honored to have her in my home to capture a time in my life I treasured and never wanted to forget. Now, I don’t have to worry about those feelings ever becoming a distant memory because the photos she captures hold feelings as well.
Did I mention she is not only my cousin, but we were born on the same day, same room, same doctor (she is 4 hours older), and we were even married in the same year AND her and her husband are Peter’s Godparents!

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Stephen had been on deployment and I was pregnant. Peter and I spent everyday together and formed a bond we probably would not had formed had Stephen not been deployed. We both missed Stephen down to our bones and talked about “Dada” everyday. Peter and I had so many good and hard times together, but mostly fun!

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Thank you Kristina for capturing these special moments.
I recommend you going to her website and looking at her award winning photographs anzafotofilm.

 

Hurry Up and Wait // Again

Remember when Pilot was supposed to come home from deployment on a certain day but the weather had other plans? I find the military’s motto is “hurry up and wait,” and it happens all too often. We were suppose to find out our orders for the next 3 years but alas, we did not find out. They said by next week; however, I am not about to hold my breath.
While we wait, we do yard work.
Well, some of us anyway.
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