Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Puberty knocking at my door

 As a mother I am constantly learning from my children and living new experiences; I do this by observing and gaging in order to decipher their wants and needs as best as I can. Of course in the process I often find myself making mistakes and wondering how I can do better.
More often than not, I find myself lost in this parenting journey and many times ill equipped to deal with what's ahead. Unfortunately, I realize this when I'm in the middle of unfamiliar situations or new stages in the life of my children and many times it's very scary.
Oftentimes the oldest child is the guinea pig because "first times" are more likely to happen with your first child and that's just part of life... and that's what I'm going through!
With Olivia about to turn 11 I can already see puberty knocking at my door and I feel SO unprepared for it, for ALL of it... Bodily changes, hormonal stuff, personality afflictions, attitudes.. it's just so overwhelming and I can't help but feel nervous for what's ahead. 
Here's a recent anecdote...
A couple of weeks ago I took Olivia out to shop for some new clothes because none of her stuff fits and her style has gone from graphic tees and jean shorts to hippie skirts and bohemian dresses and as much as I hate to admit it, she has developed her own image which I can no longer fight. While she was trying on some outfits I noticed her armpits were very hairy and even though I am aware that axillary hair a is completely normal thing, I just wasn't ready to see it on my "little" girl. Coincidentally I had been discussing leg and pubic hair with a close group of moms so the whole "hair thing" had been on my mind; some of these moms were talking about their 10/11 year olds shaving their legs and other body parts and I had sternly expressed that Olivia "wasn't even close" to that..or so I thought! 
When I pointed out the hairy armpits, Olivia immediately became flustered and started to cry; this was an embarrassment cry almost as if she felt guilty and even slightly attacked by my observation. I tried (and miserably failed) to make her feel better by normalizing the situation but she just brushed it off.  She asked if she could shave off the hair and I said "sure" and we moved on, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry a bit inside.. it happens, I guess.. and it was probably has been time for a while but this is all so new to me. 

Aside from the obvious (like the body hair and breast buds), I have noticed A LOT of changes in Olivia in the last two years and I guess I have been somewhat ignoring the fact that she will soon be entering puberty (or maybe she already has?!?) because I don't feel ready.  I am not ready to talk to her about periods and boobs, or pubic hair and body odors and most definitely I am not ready to talk to her about sex or any kind of adult intimacy because even though I have a great relationship with my daughter, this is all so new to me and I know that I'll have to step up my game when it comes to talking and communicating openly because otherwise I will fail. 
The whole armpit experience really opened my eyes and made me realize that puberty is upon us and so are the talks and the questions, and the doubts and the tears, and the eye rollings and the slamming of doors and so many other things that I'm so unprepared for.. and it's scary... and distressing...and confusing...and maybe...just maybe.. a little bit exciting and exhilarating at the same time!

What are your experiences with puberty? How did you navigate this stage?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Middle Child Syndrome

"Middle child syndrome is the feeling of exclusion by middle children. This effect occurs because the first child is more prone to receiving privileges and responsibilities (by virtue of being the oldest), while the youngest in the family is more likely to receive indulgences."

Any mom that has more than one child is probably faced with the "fairness an equality" dilema that comes with having to split your love (and everything else) with multiple little people. When I was pregnant with Gaby I clearly remember feeling overwhelmed about possibly not being able to love her the same way I loved Olivia; I thought "how could I possibly love another person this much? Would I love her less? How can I be a great mom to TWO people?", but once she was born (as I am sure many mothers have experienced), my heart just bursted and the love immediately multiplied; suddenly I had more than enough love to give not one but two children and all was right in the world. 
I experienced similar feelings when I got pregnant with Oliver but that time I had less self doubt and definitely more experience in this "fairness and equality" game... or so I thought! Because somehow I am always falling short and my poor Gaby has fallen victim to the "Middle Child Syndrome" I always dreaded.  
Being a middle child myself, I know that being stuck between 2 "favorites" is no easy task; I think the birth order has a lot to do with personalities, preferences and just character in general. Out of the three, Gaby is my most difficult child and while she isn't necessarily problematic or unruly, her personality is definitely the most challenging one mainly because she is stubborn, messy, individualistic, skeptical and even shy. Her life is the one that was impacted the most when Oliver arrived; first she stopped being the "baby" of the family in a matter of days and then as Oliver keeps growing she finds herself being bossed around by her "baby" brother and often outshined by her older sister. 
As a mother it's hard to accept that one of my children feels less loved than the others and even harder to realize that it's partly my fault. As much as I try to be "fair and equal", something always fails and more often than not, Gaby is the one that pays the consequences.  A few weeks ago she approached me and said "ever since Oliver was born you don't love me as much"; I know it's not true but that's what she feels and it breaks my heart. I know she isn't jealous of him because she is a loving sister and has more patience than I can brag about but "Middle Child Syndrome" is a real thing and while it might not sound like a big deal, it is to Gaby and hence to me too.  I know I need to find the time to make her feel special but as I mentioned on a previous post, sometimes I feel my life is consumed by trying to get out of the trenches of toddlerhood and the hardship of puberty that inevitably take up most of my motherly time.  And let's not forget that I spend more time alone (husband travels for work more than I'd like him to) than I do with a partner so at times everything seems darker than it is. 
I pray to God all the time so that He gives me the wisdom to raise my children right but this time I pray that I can find a way to make Gaby feel how special she is to me, to be able to show her my immense love for her and to light her path to understanding and faith. 

So, do you have a middle child? Have you experienced similar things in your family?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

End of School Year

I always get emotional when a school year ends but I also feel incredibly grateful to see my kids thriving, learning and becoming better humans thanks to the environment in which they are developing. 
We are incredibly blessed to be able to send our kids to Catholic schools and even though it's not always rainbows and butterflies and we've certainly had shortcomings in their current school, I can honestly say I wouldn't trade this experience for the world!

Olivia finished 5th grade and is ready for middle school; she enjoyed her teacher, Mrs. B, and she learned incredible lessons this year.  She achieved excellent grades in all her classes and completed her first year of advanced Math. There were many times when she felt like giving up and we had numerous nights of endless crying and frustration, nights were I felt her desperation caused by insane amounts of homework or sheer exhaustion that she just didn't know how to handle. She also learned a lot about friendships, relationships, responsibility, accountability and many other important things. I am proud of her for being so resilient and dedicated and I can only hope she continues to grow into a beautiful and faithful young lady! Congrats on a great year, Olivia!

Gaby finished 3rd grade and as opposed to last year, this was a very good one for her.  She was blessed with a wonderful teacher, Kitty O, who was kind, sweet and very loving. Gaby loved going to school every day and she learned so much this year; she improved her handwriting, reading skills and achieved excellent grades in every subject.  I am so proud of all of her accomplishments and for her ability to bounce back from the bad experiences of the past.  I know that Gaby will do great next year and I can only hope she continues to shine through her incredible personality with God always by her side. Congrats on finishing 3rd grade, Gaby!

And then there's this little one who is just starting his school life and surprises us every day with his rascal ways. Oliver is such a wonderful boy and this first year in pre-school was a great one for him. He learned numbers, letters, shapes, colors and a whole lot of skills that he puts to good use every day. He made his first life friends and was loved by his teachers. Next year he will be moving on to the girls' school and I am sure he will do great there too. 

I am glad school is over and I can't wait for all the fun summer has in store for us. I wish everyone a happy and safe summer and I congratulate all children on finishing school! Enjoy your time off!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Why lie?... this s**t is hard!

**DISCLAIMER: this is a therapeutic post that includes some whining on my part, don't read if self-pity bothers you in the slightest**

"I don't know how you keep it all straight!"- this was a phrase uttered by a close friend, one that most likely *thinks* that I've got a handle on things.. or something along those lines...
She uttered the phrase (or should I say payed me the compliment) during one of the most difficulty "mommy" days I've had in a while when Iggy happened to be out of town (yet again!), the girls had loads of homework, Oliver had been running a high fever for 5 days straight, I had period cramps and probably hadn't slept well in over a week (or a year? or 10?) and I'm sure many other things were going just as wrong but I'd rather not think about it... 
But somehow, in the middle of chaos, someone still thought I could "keep it all straight"... could I? It's one of those times when you think "what the hell does she mean?"
I pride myself in being honest (albeit too honest sometimes) so I say "why lie?"... this s**t is hard! Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with LIFE that I want to crawl in a hole and cry for days (or maybe sleep for days?)... as much as I try to "keep it straight" I know I fall short so many times and I get so exhausted in the process that sometimes I lose myself.  
When women picture themselves having kids they often think of the glamorous parts of it; the prospect of having a fresh cuddly newborn that will smell delicious and will be our forever sidekick helps many forget that motherhood is HARD and that more times than not it is everything BUT glamorous. 
When Iggy and I discussed having kids I always thought 3 was my perfect number; he didn't have a number but he was sure he wanted to be a father at some point so when we finally embarked on the parenthood journey we were happy about it.  Olivia was a fairly easy baby; she slept through the night at 6 weeks, ate whatever we gave her, talked quickly, walked even quicker and hit every milestone in the book right around the expected time.  Gaby was very similar; she was very independent from early on and rarely ever cried and even though she was a slightly picky eater (still is!) there wasn't really anything about her that would make me feel overwhelmed or that would deter me from having another child.

We tried (unsuccessfully!) for a 3rd baby and once a few years had passed and it didn't happen, we settled on 2 and were genuinely happy about it. Then, to our surprise, came Oliver.......

I can't even remember why he was crying here!

To say that he is a "difficult" child would be unfair because he is such a sweet boy, but he has definitely been a "difficult" situation to deal with because he basically destabilized our whole family.  Even though I love my child with all my heart, sometimes I wonder why God thought I could handle another kid and I often think of how our lives worked so well when he wasn't around... this s**t is HARD!
He is so incredibly clingy and "needy", always wants someone around him and requires so much more attention than any of the girls ever did. He doesn't sleep through the night and is basically the reason I look like a zombie half the time and he sucks me dry in every sense of the word (extended breastfeeding, anyone?)
I went to the doctor a week ago and recently received my blood test results; those results showed my cholesterol is high (not alarmingly high...but HIGH!), my vitamin D is incredibly low (that would explain why I'm always so fatigued) and my body is just not RIGHT!  I won't blame Oliver for this, or any of my kids for that matter, but I do blame the fact that this s**t is hard.. oh so hard! Somewhere along the way I let myself go, I have given so much to my kids that I have forgotten that I need to do "ME" sometimes too...and I have to work on it!
There are many days that I am EXHAUSTED, so exhausted I can't even think straight and all I can do is trust that God would never give me a heavier cross than I could carry and pray that He won't trust me so much in the future! ;)
And just to set the record straight, I want to say that I am not depressed or out of my mind but sometimes I feel like I need to put it all out there and be honest with myself to get some perspective in life and acknowledge that I am not alone in this journey.  I also like to remind myself that while my kids are no angels (who is?), they are pretty darn amazing and I am grateful every day for their presence in my life....this reminder would be particularly helpful when I find myself cleaning the 20th pee puddle of the day resulting from potty training a stubborn 2 year old (ugh!!!)....
 I also need to remind myself that it is OK to feel overwhelmed sometimes and to say out loud 
"This s**t is HARD!"

So yes... motherhood is incredible but is is also exhausting and raw!
I am thankful for my partner in crime who is willing to clean pee puddles alongside with me and who does everything in his power so I can sleep in on weekends and recoup from long and lonely weeks filled with fevers, homework and period cramps!

So "Keep Calm and Mommy On!"... life is beautiful...

...although one thing I'm not sure is "how I keep it all straight!"... Ha.....

He fell asleep on the floor after crying non stop for an hour
Just when I thought I could have a minute for myself

Crying over "something!"

Excess energy after a jam packed day

They can be angels..sometimes!

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's "just" hair...

One of our friend's amazing daughter recently decided to shave her head and donate all her hair for kids with cancer. I was in awe of her courage and felt a rush of admiration for her strong character at such young age.  Olivia happened to hear me talk about it with Iggy and asked to see the pictures; she said "wow, she's brave" but I didn't think she really understood the meaning behind such selfless act. 
A while later she brought up the subject again and we started talking about childhood cancer and all the struggles sick kids go through; Gaby joined her and they both seemed genuinely moved by the conversation, it warmed my heart to see how caring these girls are and how compassionate they can be...
But to much of my surprise their compassion didn't end there and I was shocked when they came back to my room and said "we both want to shave our heads and donate all our hair"... I won't lie, I immediately said "you guys are NUTS!"... I also added "there's no way in hell I will EVER let you do that"... they looked at me and said "but mom... it's JUST hair".. and I said something like "Yes.. and it's your beautiful hair that I won't let you cut"... I immediately noticed the disappointment on their faces as they struggled to understand why letting them cut their hair was such a big deal to me... 
Gaby said "I will still be the same person, with short or long hair"...and Olivia said "What is so wrong with wanting to give my hair to a sick child?... my hair will grow back but theirs might never grow!" 
I was so choked up about the whole situation and completely torn between my admiration for them even considering such selfless act and my selfish need to make them keep their long and beautiful hair intact. 
Their arguments turned my resounding "NO!" into a "Maybe... let's talk about it tomorrow". I secretly hoped they would "come to their senses" and change their minds so I asked them to sleep on it and take it from there. I don't know why the idea of shaving their heads bothered me so much...but it did!
The new day went on without a hitch but when I picked them up from school they brought up the issue again and begged me to take them to a hair salon to shave their heads. I will be honest and say that I mentioned a million things to scare them out of chopping off their hair including being bullied at school, not being able to style their hair, looking "boyish" during upcoming "girly" events, regretting their decision, their hair taking forever to grow back, etc.  I basically used every phrase in the book and then some to try to talk them out of this "craziness".  The last card I could play was to actually take them to the hair salon so they could feel the "finality" of their decision and back out but instead of being scared they were excited... I knew then I had lost the battle and I had no choice but to go on with their wishes and respect their decision. 

I cried (literally!) as their heads were being shaved and they keep telling me "mom, it's JUST hair.. it will grow back... plus, we're doing this for a good cause!". My tears of sadness quickly turned into tears of pride and joy as I said to myself "how could I possibly be sad when I am witnessing one of the most selfless and genuine acts of kindness coming from my children?".  It dawned on me that instead of discourage them, I should celebrate them and I should love them more for putting their vanity aside and making a decision that is far beyond their years. 

So I say to my kids, it's not "JUST" hair!, it's so much more than that... it's love, it's compassion, it's care, it's courage, it's humility and it's one of the most beautiful lessons I have learned from my you.  I want them to know that I am incredibly proud of them for giving the phrase "it's just hair" a whole new meaning for me.  I love you both more than you will ever know and although I think your physical beauty is great, your spiritual beauty is what will always remain!
Here's a couple of pictures:

Hair has been donated to "Wigs 4 Kids". Olivia donated over 12 inches of hair and Gaby over 10 inches.  All hair was healthy, untreated and clean and we hope it can be used to make a wig for a kid in need. 
"Wigs 4 Kids" requires a minimum hair donation of 10 inches, however they do accept 7"-9" donation to make boy wigs or shorter wigs for girls. If interested in donating hair, please visit their hair donation tab for more information. 
Thanks for all the words of encouragement and support! We can only hope that God continues to show us the way to raise loving and caring kids! Thank you, Daniela, for inspiring our girls to engage in such amazing act! You are a true hero!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Blog. Revived!

Some of my friends have asked me what happened with my blog; many suspected I had grown tired of writing about our antics or that I have been too busy with life in general...well.. I am here to tell you that none of you were right as I have missed blogging and I'm ready to get back to it.  The truth is I decided to make a Lent sacrifice and stayed away from Facebook, blogging and most social media for 40 days.. I did stay on Instagram because pictures are LIFE! right??  
But I am here and my blog is being "revived" after a long 2 month hiatus...
We did A LOT during my blog absence, including a couple of Disney trips and a nice trip to Spain during Spring Break.. 

Here are some pictures of St. Patrick's day and our family sporting green outfits... I happen to love the color green and that's why I'm posting these! ;)

Here's Oliver and I at his Easter egg hunt. These events are so adorable and I cherish all the time that I get to spend with my kids at their school functions. 

On March 25th, Oliver turned 2.5. I feel like I somehow cheated him out of a special post about his half birthday but I will say that Oliver is pretty awesome. He talks up a storm and his vocabulary is quite impressive. He loves dinosaurs, cars, play-doh, books and balls. He also loves lollipops, chocolate and all things candy; he's a great eater and particularly enjoys pasta and chicken. 
Oliver is such a sweet child and definitely a mama's boy, I am thoroughly enjoying his "baby" years and I have learned so much from him. 
I took him to the movies for the first time about a month ago and he did incredibly well; I had taken him as a baby but toddlers are a whole new thing when it comes to this kind of stuff. I am proud to say we survived an almost 2 hour movie almost unhinged so there is potential for a repeat!
Oliver is still nowhere near potty training which I will admit to being a huge stressor for me considering I am hoping to enroll him in the girls' school next year and being fully potty trained is one of the requirements.. oops! I will remain hopeful for a summer potty training miracle so please send all your good vibes my way! ;)

March 25th was also the day I reached a HUGE milestone.. 2 and a half years of breastfeeding! If somebody had asked me 2.5 years ago if I thought this was possible, I would have answered with a resounding "NO WAY!" but here I am.. STILL at it! Breastfeeding has been such a fun ride and while I know that it must end soon (my plan is to hit 3 years and stop for good!), I am happy and proud to have made it this far and I will forever be an advocate and encourager of breastfeeding.  This topic warrants a post of its own and I will do that in due time.. for now I will just say that I feel blessed for having overcome my past fears and frustrations regarding breastfeeding! ;)

I am happy to be back to blogging and in the coming days I hope to take the time to write about our experience in Spain and a few other things that I may have neglected in this post.. including a movie review and a mom vent session!

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mariana's 1st birthday

On Saturday February 10th, we celebrated Mariana's 1st birthday. She's the last baby in our family so we made sure her first birthday didn't go unnoticed.  Mariana is such a cute baby, she seriously looks like a doll and everyone is so in love with her sweet personality and her gorgeous eyes. 
I love seeing my sister interact with her baby and I am so happy she's getting to experience motherhood for the 2nd time after such a long time.
For Mariana's birthday we threw her a "Twinkle Twinkle" themed party, it was all a sea of pink and gold and I am proud to say that the party turned out amazing.  I spent a good month hand making decorations and all kinds of little things for her party so it was great to see the final product and even better to know that my sister loved it and everyone enjoyed it.
Here are some picture of the party... definitely one for the memories...


Mariana enjoying her delicious cake
On Sunday we did a homemade photo shoot and the pictures turned out great.  I have many favorites, but these three are definitely my top ones.. 

Happy 1st birthday, Mariana! May God bless with a long and healthy life! We loved you so much! <3 p="">