Monday, August 20, 2018

Potty Training success!

About a year ago I wrote this post about my failed attempt at potty training Oliver, who at the time was about to turn 2. I had read somewhere that 23 months was an "ideal" age to potty train so I set out to conquer this dreaded task. I, of course, failed and became incredibly frustrated considering I had successfully potty trained our 2 girls at 22 months and 30 months. Potty training was never a challenge for me and I mistakenly thought it would be just as easy with Oliver....WRONG!!
Many of my friends had warned me that potty training a boy was a bit different and "boy were they right!". I tried and tried incessantly for the next few months (not continuous months!) and it just wasn't happening... It was like Oliver was completely oblivious to the fact that he eventually would have to do away with diapers and be like every other person who pees and poops in a toilet.
At one point the whole ordeal was affecting my mood and making me question my motherly abilities.. I know I was taking it way too seriously but I was just done with changing (and buying) diapers... I knew I had to let it go...so I did!
Summer rolled around and the pressure was mounting again because I enrolled Oliver at the girls' school and he just HAD to be potty trained come school time (August), so I basically had 10 weeks to get this done. Around mid June I decided to "pull off the bandaid" and just do it! We took off the diapers and it just "clicked" for him; within a couple of days Oliver was peeing on the potty consistently and we got through the weekend with almost no accidents; granted we had to take him to the potty constantly and just remind him that he HAD to go.. and he did it every time...I was so happy!
So we basically spent the next few weeks helping Oliver master the art of the potty and between random pee (and mostly poop!) accidents, he was officially out of diapers and ready to take on the world!
I won't lie, it wasn't an instant thing and I feel like he struggled much more than the girls ever did.  There were worse days than others and even though he was (mostly) willing to go along with potty training, I spent a good part of my summer cleaning pee puddles and wiping poop off his butt.
Around mid July he was already sleeping in underwear and even asking to go potty on his own.  We bought a little urinal on Amazon and even though he rarely used it at first, it ended up being a hit and he even learned to pee standing!
The poop part was (and still is) a bit more challenging...he has random accidents throughout the week and it's still a work in progress but I am confident he will master it in no time.
Even though it has been 2 months since Oliver has been out of diapers, it took me this long to finally believe it and write this post.. I didn't want to jinx myself because it was an uphill task for us.
Some of the things I learned this go around are as follows:

  • Every child is different! (duh!)
  • Potty training a boy is much more challenging than doing it with girls
  • Potty training cannot be forced! (double duh!)
  • Kids have their own timeline
  • Pull ups suck! (mostly!)
  • There is such a thing as spending all day cleaning pee puddles
  • Toddlers can POOP! (uggh!)
  • No matter how long it takes.. potty training will eventually happen!
I am happy we have FINALLY gotten over this hurdle and that Oliver won't be in diapers forever (ha!). I am thankful for my husband and my girls who were instrumental in potty training our stubborn boy and I can only hope he sticks to the plan and does well at the potty while in school.  I pray that his teachers are patient and understanding when things don't go right and that he can feel supported and encouraged to do better and better every day!
NO MORE DIAPERS!!!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

A new love affair...

Following my disappointing visit to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, my husband insisted I join him on a work trip to Buenos Aires. His constant business travels have allowed him to accumulate some airline miles and I was miraculously able to make arrangements for someone to stay with the kids so I said "why not!" and finally visited one of the destinations at the top of my bucket list. 
I had always wanted to travel to Buenos Aires for many reasons; first off my father was born there and he has spent a great amount of years convincing me of how wonderful it is and many people had told me about the strange appeal that city has; I was definitely curious to experience that Argentine charm for myself and it did not disappoint. 
I will refer to my trip to Buenos Aires as the start of a new love affair; I was in awe of how beautiful and modern the city was and also of how welcoming everybody was, the whole experience definitely exceeded my expectations and I was nicely surprised. 
Buenos Aires is like a Latin version of Europe; most buildings are reminiscent of classic Madrid constructions and I even saw some of Paris in the streets of this amazing city.  Everything is clean, organized and grandiose and on the second day I was ready to move there...I seriously loved it so much!
I was able to experience the Buenos Aires life style first hand since I happen to have so many friends that live there who were kind enough to show me around while doing it the "local way"; I visited amazing restaurants, modern shopping centers, rode the metro, hailed some cabs and walked an infinite amount of steps around the beautiful streets of Buenos Aires (my watch says I walked about 30K steps per day!)... I am officially in love with this city and my only regret is that I didn't travel there sooner... I can't wait to take the kids there soon and maybe stay a little longer. 
In addition to the beauty of the city and the kindness of its people, our trip was particularly cheap since currently the Argentine Peso is down in the dumps so our dollars went a long way; I could eat a succulent filet mignon for less than $10 or have a scrumptious piece of cake for less than $2, so needless to say I was happy to visit during this time. 
Also it happens to be winter time in Argentina (hello South Pole!) and the weather was perfection; it never went over 60 degrees or below 50 so I was happy to be able to wear my favorite jacket every day (LOL!)..they say that the weather has a lot to do with how one perceives a place, so this probably boosted my experience even more. 
My favorite place in the city was Puerto Madero also known as Buenos Aires' business center; most big companies are found in this area and the building are incredibly modern; the whole place is beautiful and it is nothing short of great even when compared to cities such as New York, Berlin, Los Angeles or any other major city in the world. The metro system (Subte) is very efficient and well maintained and also CHEAP! There are beautiful shopping malls, magnificent churches, sublime buildings, delicious restaurants and everything else I could want in a city. 
Here are some pictures of my brief visit to Buenos Aires, a place I hope to go back to and one that jumped to the top of my list in just one visit.  I love you, Buenos Aires and I know this is only the beginning of a beautiful love affair!

Monday, August 6, 2018

The end of a love affair...

I recently returned from a 4 day trip to one of my favorite cities in the world, San Francisco!
The first time I visited this famous West Coast city I was young and in love (I'm still in love but the young part is questionable...ha!) when we honeymooned there about 13 years ago! I fell in love with San Francisco instantly; the weather was perfect, the food was amazing, everyone was nice and kind and the city is as picturesque as they get.  Even after having traveled to over 30 countries and hundreds of cities, my traveling heart always belonged to San Francisco...there was just something about it that always captivated me...I was lucky enough to be able to return to this great city a few other times and even took the girls there in 2014 (they loved it too, of course!)

But this time was different... I didn't find San Francisco as fascinating as I did on previous visits.. I'd go as far as saying that I was disappointed.. it was the end of a love affair, one that I thought would last forever but sadly it didn't. 
I found the city to be filthy and decadent, riddled with thousands of homeless people, junkies and prostitutes; on the first day I had already lost count of how many people I saw shooting up or inhaling cocaine in broad daylight and when I attempted to take brisk walks around the city at nighttime (not even late night) it was all about street workers fighting over their "customers". The most concerning part was the apathy of everyone around...it's like nobody cares! Apparently the California government is more concerned about banning straws, recycling and charging for shopping bags than it is with cleaning up the streets and helping those in need.
Transit workers and even cops were rude to tourists and everyone seems more concerned with being "green" than being kind...It took me a while to figure out where to put my trash because there's a million recycling options at every corner but regular trash cans seemed to be non existent.  Public restrooms were basically unusable from how disgusting and dirty they all are and that's if I was lucky to find a restroom where I didn't have to pee next to a man because most restrooms were unisex because, you know, gender equality and who knows what else!
I also noticed so much hostility from the unspoken social war.. I seriously felt like I was in another country... and not a nice one!  
Everything was super expensive (and yes, I know California is more expensive by default but this was different!) and Californians didn't seem as receptive and embracing as I remembered them.

Of course I won't deny that the city is still as beautiful as ever and its colors and flavors have no comparison but somehow San Francisco dropped down on my list of favorites and I don't foresee that changing because that special charm I always found in it just wasn't there. I didn't feel safe walking around the streets of San Francisco, I didn't feel welcomed by its locals and I didn't feel like the city can embrace a conservative point of view like mine....it just wasn't the same for me!

We did get to visit Napa Valley for the first time and it was very beautiful.  Even with me not being a wine drinker I did enjoy the visit to one of the most famous wineries in the area and had an amazing time exploring and taking pictures...but Napa isn't San Francisco so....

I don't know when I will return to San Francisco or even if I ever will but I will forever cherish the nice memories I have of it and I feel blessed to have enjoyed it for as long as I did!


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Technology and Sleep Quality

To follow up on the theme of my previous post, I have decided to write a little about the impact of technology on our sleep.
I am sure I don't stand alone when I say that many nights (if not every night) I spend a while playing with my phone until my eyes can no longer stay open; whether I'm reading something really important or just browsing around and catching up on the latest trending news, I waste way too much time (and sleep) on this pointless act.
I have seen many posts from friends regarding devices that aid in limiting internet time and setting parental controls (ie. Circle with Disney), which tells me that a lot of families struggle with technology restrictions and other issues related to the overuse of it as well.
I can't count the amount of nights the girls get in trouble for hiding under their sheets to play with their phones past bedtime or the many times I've had to confiscate every device so they can get some sleep...and no, they're not rebellious kids that don't listen to their mom, they are simply technology junkies just like many adults.  I know that using technology past bedtime is not the end of the world but I worry about how their sleep quality is negatively impacted by this behavior pattern.

A few nights ago I decided to turn off my phone at least  four hours before going to sleep; I basically forced myself to skip my nightly social media binge and just take time to relax and clear my mind. I leisurely browsed some unfinished books and even wrote some notes and to do lists for the next day. I also spent some time praying and reading my favorite devotional, so I basically did away with technology for a night...  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hadn't slept that well in a long time; somehow avoiding my nightly phone use routine gave me the chance to experience the glorious sleep my body had been needing for a while... such a simple thing made such a great impact on my sleep.. I couldn't believe it..
But even with the positive experience, the conditioning that I have to use my phone before bed is really hard to beat so I was back at it the next night and I could feel it too... I really need to get better at this...
So because I love to read and find some creepy joy in researching things that come to my mind, I am going to share with you some incredibly information given to me by a representative from the "Sleep Institute" as well as "Tuck Sleep" that have helped me tremendously in understanding the importance of a good night's sleep and the negative impact of technology in our sleep quality.  I particularly enjoyed a publication titled "How Technology Impacts Your Sleep and What To Do About It" and another one titled "A Parent's Guide to Healthy Sleep"; in these two articles I have found a wealth of information that I know will help me get better at improving my sleep and our family's sleep patterns and overall rest quality, and I hope it helps you too.
I am tired of dealing with cranky kids on school mornings, I am done with sleeping 8+ hours and feelings like I haven't slept in ages; I know it's my fault so I want to do better...
How is your sleep quality? Do you think technology has an impact on our sleep patterns? Do your kids get enough sleep?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Internet Safety for Children

Even though I was never one of those parents who swore against propping their kids in front of a tv, I'm not a fan of excessive screen time either and while I try to be hopeful about my ability to limit screen time for my children, I am also realistic and know that screen time is going to happen no matter what and at some point my kids' eyes will be glued to a cell phone screen or an iPad (trust me...it happens to the best of us.. ha!) Of course I'd rather have my kids invest their time in something more productive but I myself spend a lot of time playing with my phone so who am I to forbid them from doing so?! Internet and screens are part of our times whether we like it or not. 

Like many parents I know, I have allowed my kids to have iPads and cell phones, all under strict supervision (of course), where I basically monitor their apps, downloads, conversations, video watching behavior and so on.  The girls have phones (with a line) and they have children accounts under my Apple ID so that every time they want to download a new app, it has to go through me first for approval.  I have also allowed them to have Instagram accounts with the condition that they are set to "private" and only I can approve or add followers. Even though so far our system has worked great, I always fear the unsurmountable amount of information that is at their fingertips because I am aware that as much as I try, I probably will never be able to filter every little thing on the internet. 

I am aware that not everyone is on board with giving their children a cell phone or even access to a computer or iPad, and that is totally ok, but since I do, I always have to be on top of internet security in order to protect my children to the best of my abilities.  On many occasions I have found the girls watching videos or reading things that I don't find appropriate for their age and many other times I have seen videos that are seemingly innocent when in reality they aren't... it's scary....very scary...(picture Barbies cursing, robotic cartoons using vulgar language, naked dolls, etc!)

So in my quest to find ways to protect my children from the undeniable dangers of the internet, I came across a great guide found on the VPN Mentor Blog. This is an incredibly comprehensive guide titled "The Ultimate Parent Guide for Protecting Your Child on the Internet"; it covers important topics such as mobile phones and apps, social media and cyberbullying among many others and I cannot recommend it enough.  I encourage every parent to read through this guide and document themselves on the importance of internet safety for children. 

Whether you decide to give your child a phone or whether or not you allow him/her access to the internet, I believe everyone should be aware of the dangers of the internet and be informed about what we can do as parents to protect our precious children. 

(Bonus pictures of my kids and their screens)


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

11

When asked if she likes to almost share a birthday with her sister, Olivia always says she feels torn about it; she insists that once her birthday rolls around, everyone is tired of birthday wishes and cakes. What Olivia doesn't know is that even if her sister's birthday comes the day before hers, she shines in such a way that not even an "almost shared" birthday can dim her brightness. I always joke and say she got the best birthday gift the day before she turned 2 years old, one that we will never be able to top because a sister is a friend forever and hers just happened to come a day before her birthday.. I'm not sure she buys the whole thing but I am certain she will always cherish the memories. 
Olivia is such a special little lady; she is caring, funny, outgoing and incredibly loving. She loves to sing, dance, act and draw... mmm..did anyone say artist? I see so much of me in her and I am always humbled by her grace and love for others. 
Olivia also loves to travel and her passion for learning about new cultures and places is one of the most fun parts about her personality because she is the best companion for new adventures. 
This year has been particularly trying for Olivia because she's growing up and realizing that there are many challenges to maturing both physically and emotionally; but even when the conversations are uncomfortable and the disappointments are plentiful, she manages to be resilient and come out stronger out of every situation.  
Olivia will soon be starting the 6th grade and even though she admittedly feels anxious about middle school, I am sure she will continue to do great in school and in anything she does. 
I feel overwhelmingly happy to have a daughter like Olivia and I pray to God she never changes. 
Dear Olivia: I hope you always stay true to yourself and always remember how loved you are by all of us and anyone who is blessed to know you!
Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 16, 2018

9

Our very festive month of July is going really well! Iggy had his birthday on the 5th and now it's the girls' turn to shine and get older!
Today is Gaby's 9th birthday...the last of the single digits...it's still hard to believe she is so "old" already but I'm really loving the ride..
I've said it before... Gaby is the most challenging one out of our three children because she is the sweet and sour one of the bunch and the most unpredictable and willful; sometimes I really think God sent her to me so I could get better at being patient and understanding because she definitely tests me every chance she gets...
The good news is that her sweetness is overtaking and Gaby is also the most in touch with everyone else's problems; she has a degree of compassion that it's hard to match and that makes me very proud. Gaby is very observant and is specially particular about details such as small Lego pieces, color schemes, timelines, etc.. it's kind of funny to see such a young child so concerned about the little things and even funnier when that same person can also be so spacey at times..
Gaby loves reading, swimming in the pool, eating sweets, traveling and spending time with her friends; she is overall a joy to be around and I feel so lucky to be her mother. 
Gaby will soon be starting the 4th grade and is so excited about what the new school year has in store for her; she loves Math and Science and is a very good and dedicated student. 
Dear Gaby: I hope your birthday is amazing and I hope you know how loved you are by all of us and everyone who is lucky to know you. 
Happy 9th birthday!




Friday, July 13, 2018

Movie Review: "Hotel Transylvania 3"

Every time there is a new installment of a successful movie franchise I get eager to watch it; I often wonder how they can top a good movie with an even better one and Hotel Transylvania did not disappoint.
This one is one of my favorite franchises because it gives such a great spin to the monster theme and makes all famous monsters very likable, I also love it because the story lines are so creative and despite it being a "monster" movie, it is quite colorful and cute.
This particular installment focuses on Count Dracula realizing that he's been single for way too long and him wanting to find a date. As he tries to hide his desire to date from his daughter Mavis, she decides to take him on a surprise cruise vacation with all of his friends, the usual suspects...
At first he thinks the whole cruise thing is dumb but when he unexpectedly "zings" with the beautiful captain, the whole experience becomes fun and enchanting.
A lot of funny things happen during this vacation and all the characters shine in their own way.  Count Dracula realizes that can love again and the whole gang teaches the villain about why good always prevails and how we're all similar despite our differences.  The movie ends with an epic DJ song battle and it has such a happy and wonderful ending.  I particularly enjoyed all the characters, the setting of the movie, the main plot and how it develops.  It is perfectly paced and simple enough for young kids to understand; it is also packed with light humor and colorful scenes; definitely a feel good family movie.
This one gets 4 out of 4 stars from me.  Totally recommended. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

The "end" is near!!!

**Disclaimer: this post is about my personal experience with breastfeeding and in no way is it meant to offend or diminish any mother who isn't able to or decides to forego breastfeeding. Please know that I respect ALL mothers and stand by the "fed is best" motto, however, I wanted to share my breastfeeding journey and document it for my children as I do many of our most remarkable experiences**

Getting pregnant with Oliver was one of the biggest surprises of my life; he came unannounced and completely unexpected but totally ready to rock our world! (I know I have said this a million times!)
With the unescapable fact that I'd be a mother of three also came great opportunities to do better than I had in the past and one of the challenges I set for myself was to breastfeed my child or at least try a little harder than I did with my first two daughters.
Breastfeeding was always a taboo subject for me; I either avoided it because I had failed in the past or simply became defensive (and sometimes offensive) because it made me uncomfortable.  I clearly remember this post I wrote more than 6 years ago when TIME magazine had a cover featuring a mom breastfeeding her 4 year old; for some reason the cover made really mad and I thought that mom was delirious for practicing "extended breastfeeding"...it's one of those times I said "I would NEVER do that!"...
During my pregnancy with Oliver I spent many hours reading and doing research about breastfeeding and overcoming the many hurdles that come with it; it was clear to me that while it wasn't impossible, succeeding was going to take a lot of dedication and discipline on my part so I decided to take it one day at a time. 
I made the decision of not being "too hard" on myself if it didn't go well but I was also set on not being "too easy" either because the accountability that was needed could only come from ME!
The first few weeks were as challenging as expected (or maybe even more!); bleeding and sore nipples, engorgement, leaking, boob pain.. you name it, I had it and it was very discouraging. Every possible doubt crossed my mind: "can I do this?", "is my baby eating enough?", "should I feed him formula instead?", "why do I put myself through this?"; those were just some of the questions I asked myself on a daily basis and I cannot tell you how many times I was so close to throwing in the towel...
But somehow every time I was ready to give up, I saw a glimmer of hope in the fact that Oliver seemed happy and thriving, and slowly but surely I was feeling more comfortable in my own skin and in my job as the sole provider of nutrition for my baby, it felt good!


After 3 months (my first mini goal) I was sure I had succeeded and expected nothing but smooth sailing; we had already found our rhythm and he was getting more than enough nutrition from me, I could read his signs and we found our favorite breastfeeding positions, even my wardrobe was breastfeeding friendly and I was so proud of myself for sticking to it. At this point I felt more than accomplished since I had already gotten way further than I ever imagined and had reached my personal goal.  I decided to keep going since it was really so easy and practical, and in the blink of an eye, I reached the 1 year mark! But then, right around that time, I got an evil mastitis case; it started with a mild fever and it escalated to huge lumps on my breasts and pieces of nasty clogged up milk that I had to painfully suction out of me.. it was terrible.. 
As I was convinced that mastitis was the end of my journey, my doctor suggested I kept going and even hinted at the fact that using Oliver for suction would make this nasty mastitis go away quicker.. and so I did...and it did! My mastitis cleared within a few days and we were back on the road!


During the next year, I breastfed Oliver at the oddest places and even got over my fear of "exposing" myself and showing too much skin in public. It was liberating to know that I could do this whenever, wherever, because feeding my baby was my number one priority and I didn't care about what anybody thought. I figured that's how so many breastfeeding advocates feel and exactly why so many moms feel so free when using their bodies for what they are intended. 
Once we reached the 2 year mark I started to get the "you're crazy" kind of comments; some people even suggested that I was "sick" for breastfeeding a "giant" and even mentioned that I was doing more harm than good for doing this. These comments came from the most loving and caring people and honestly I didn't take anything personal because I was once in that bunch; years ago I would have been the person to say that and I probably did without realizing how personal this decision is. 
In November of last year (Oliver was already 2 years and 2 months), I took a week long solo trip to Europe so I decided to take that opportunity to wean Oliver. Because I was still producing so much milk by then, I took a portable breast pump as a precaution (please note that up to this point, I had never pumped since Oliver always fed "straight from the source") to relieve some of the pain associated with weaning.  During my trip I "pumped and dumped" twice a day and Oliver did remarkably well while I was away.... I was done!
To my surprise my milk didn't dry up and as soon as I got back home Oliver demanded a feed and it was like I never went away; my body kept producing all the milk he needed and for some reason I was "ok" with the fact that the weaning wasn't happening as planned. 


So to make a long story short and spare you more details than what I've already given out, Oliver is 2 years and 9 months today and we are STILL breastfeeding; granted it's only once or maybe twice a day but I'm still baffled to have made it this far. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would achieve this incredibly goal and I am so proud for giving myself the chance to prove that I could do it; more importantly I am happy that my son got the best he could get from me. 
But as proud and happy as I am to have made it this far, I know the end is near and I am at the point where I really want it to end.  Nothing will ever erase the bond and love that breastfeeding gave us and I have a new level of admiration for all the mothers that overcome the hurdles and succeed at this difficult task. 
Breastfeeding Oliver for this long has been such a blessing for our family; I was able to provide my child with good nutrition and I was also able to teach my girls resilience and perseverance. I was able to prove myself that discipline goes a long way and most importantly I was able to tear down all the stigmas that I had created. I am sorry for the times I rolled my eyes at moms who breastfed in public and for the times that I felt uncomfortable or offended by the most natural of motherly acts. I thank everyone who supported me through this journey; all my breastfeeding advocate friends that taught me so much, my husband who pushed me when I was ready to give up, my daughters who learned that breastfeeding is normal and beautiful, my family who cheered me on even when they thought it was time to quit,  and my wonderful son who loved me even when I cried as my nipples bled during the first few weeks. 
And to any mother out there that wants to give breastfeeding a try, please know that it is HARD and it takes a lot of discipline and dedication but once you get the hang of it, it is among the MOST rewarding and beautiful things you could do for your child! Also know that choosing to breastfeed (for however long you wish) is an extremely personal decision and it should never be questioned by anyone. 
Happy Breastfeeding! #normalizebreastfeeding


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 time..it 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!