Month: March 2014

Fun hairstyles make me happy

Battling the blahs…

One of the best things about staying home with Diego is that there is no dress code. We can lounge in our pajamas late into the day, and we often do. Days like that are fun, cozy and generally unproductive save for the bare minimum. I love those days. Now that I am not working I don’t have to get up in the morning and dress up for work. I dress differently now than I did when I worked at an office. When I go out I favor jeans rather than dress pants or skirts. I wear sandals or flats instead of heels.

The lack of a set routine does have its drawbacks, however. There’s a general outline of my day but there’s nothing I absolutely have to do by a certain time. In my case, too much freedom has resulted in a lot of disorganization. It’s something I’m working on. Being disorganized affects every part of our lives. Messy homes often mean messy lives. I feel a lot more in control of my life when my house is in order. I’m not saying I keep my house perfectly put together, but there is some semblance of order on a day to day basis.

Somedays I feel very blah about myself. I just don’t feel like I have it together and have zero desire to be productive. In essence, I feel lazy. How can we give ourselves a little boost on days when we just don’t feel up for much? I have found that sometimes taking some time for ourselves works magic. I’ve started to do my hair everyday. I have curly hair and I normally just tie it up in a bun or wear it loose. I never really style it and I don’t really like to straighten it. This week I started playing around with my hair and I’ve really liked some of what I’ve come up with. Amazingly, something as simple and as silly as our hair can really make us feel better about ourselves.

On days where I feel especially unmotivated I’ll even apply a little makeup. I have never worn a ton of makeup as an everyday thing but I do like to wear it. When I worked I wore some mascara and concealer everyday. I just feel it makes you look put together and helps to enhance your features. Now, I am just playing around with it and experimenting with new things. It’s been a lot of fun and best of all it makes me feel more productive. I can’t explain it except by saying that when we spend a little time on ourselves we feel good about ourselves and this translates into so many different things. Sometimes we feel tired and just blah, but a change of clothes can also mean a change in attitude.

My tips for battling those meh feelings:

  1. Change your clothes! Are you unmotivated in your pajamas? Take a shower and put on something different.
  2. Listen to music. A good tune can change your disposition. You can even use one song per chore. After a few songs you’ll have cleaned up an entire room.
  3. Spend a little time on yourself. Grooming is important. Hair, makeup, eyebrows, nails. Remind yourself that you matter and are important. Whether you have kids or not this is something we should all put into practice.
  4. Take a nap. If you’re tired and sleep deprived no amount of pampering will resuscitate you. If you can, take a nap, it will greatly improve your mood.

Here are three hairstyles I wore this week. They all incorporate a braid as a little accent. The pictures aren’t very good but hopefully they will give you an idea about how to style them.

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Afternoon at the park

It was a balmy 90 degrees when we left the house this afternoon on our way to the park. Summer is practically upon us, not that we got much of a break here in South Florida. It was a beautiful day, however, and a nice breeze kept us fairly comfortable. The park is always busy, which is nice. I think it’s great to see so many people enjoying these public spaces. The park is very well kept and from what I’ve seen people help keep it that way by using the trash cans and treating it with care. The basketball courts are the busiest part of the park. The tennis courts get a lot of use as well, and of course the kid’s lot doesn’t fall far behind.

Diego kept to the grassy field today. He loves running around aimlessly and the open space thrills him. He ran until his face was red. All that energy he needed to burn was well spent. Because the playground equipment is on sand he tends to avoid that. In fact, he won’t wander into the sand unless we put him in it. It always take him a while to take that first step and then he moves at a snail pace towards the slides.

Here are some photos from today.

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Planning our first trip to Disney

We will be going to the Magic Kingdom for one day in May and I have been researching all about enjoying the park with a toddler. There is so much about the park that I did not know and would have no need to know if I didn’t have a child.

I’m still at the stage where I need baby changing stations in bathrooms. These are not hard to come by and if worse comes to worse I can always change him in the car. I’ve actually done this a lot as public restrooms smell foul and I’d rather not be in there for extended periods of time. However, Disney has a dedicated baby care centers in their parks that offer changing tables, high chairs, microwaves, nursing rooms, and a little store selling forgotten essentials.

Diego doesn’t need much aside from diaper, wipes, a change of clothes and maybe some water and snacks. I don’t want to pack a heavy diaper bag even though I won’t be carrying it on my shoulders. Our stroller has a nice sized basket where I can store it. Speaking of our stroller, I am unsure if we will be bringing it with us or opting for an inexpensive umbrella stroller. The downside to this stroller is the lack of canopy and storage basket. The benefits include a small, compact fold that will allow us to pop in and out of the tram and monorail with ease. It would also free up space in our trunk. I still haven’t decided but I am leaning more towards just bringing the stroller we already have along. It’s only for one day and I’m sure we will manage.

As I’ve done some research I have been amazed at all the differing opinions and forums that focus on traveling with children. Some parents are professional advice givers and seekers. It’s almost amusing to read the rants about people cutting them off in line or preventing them to catch up to their spouse as they navigate the parks. They must be gluttons for punishment because some of these families practically live at Disney. I did manage to glean some knowledge, such as: the trams have carts with space for a stroller, you can roll your stroller right onto the monorail, strollers can be rented, strollers are often stolen so park it at your peril.

Disney allows you to bring food and drink into the parks and some families bring a little cooler with them in order to save some money. That is perhaps a good idea if you’re going to spend a week or more at the parks but for this trip of ours that is overkill. I will gladly spend money on food at the park. I am not hauling meals with us. While on vacation I expect to spend money so this is an expense I have planned for but I can definitely see the need and value of cutting down costs wherever possible.

The hotel we are staying at is located on International Drive and according to Google Maps it’s ten minutes away from Disney. We had thought about taking the hotel shuttle to the park but Florida law requires children of car seat age to ride in one unless the vehicle is a coach bus. We will definitely be driving to Disney.

I’m a little nervous about a lot of things, such as  how Diego will react to the crowds and my own pesky anxiety rearing its ugly head but I am sure that I will handle it. I am beyond excited for this trip and I cannot wait!

Achieving great sleep in babies/toddlers

The first year of Diego’s life was a challenging one sleep-wise. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I’ve had my ups and downs with this endeavor. I am now happy and confident when I say that I have a good sleeper on my hands. The journey here was not an easy one. My quest for a better night’s sleep involved a lot of reading, frustration, and even tears. It is no fun being sleep deprived. I cannot claim to have been the worst off but I am confident in putting myself up there with many of the parents who have been at their wits end.

Some babies are great sleepers early on. I have a close friend who was enjoying restful nights eons before I ever imagined it was possible. A word of caution here, do not compare your child or situation to that of others. It’s never a good idea and it will leave you feeling incompetent and sad. However, for me, knowing that it was possible gave me something to look forward to and I was sincerely happy for my friend’s good fortune.  That’s not to say it was all fun and games for her, either. She was just a little less tired than I was.

Most, if not all, articles and books on child sleep recommend a bedtime routine. I honestly don’t think it can ever hurt, whether or not your baby or toddler kicks up a fuss, or refuses to cooperate, a routine is still important. Before Diego could crawl we did not bathe him everyday. It was more of an every other day type of thing. At bed time we fed him, swaddled him, and rocked him to sleep before placing him into his bassinet. At four months he moved into his crib. Our problem was never getting him to sleep, it was keeping him asleep. We achieved some good nights between four and six months but at six months he started a grueling schedule of waking up every 3 hrs to feed. I did not understand it and tried everything to remedy this to no avail. He demanded to be fed before he would go back to sleep.

Diego was breastfed until he was a little over six months. At six months he refused the breast and two weeks later my milk had dried up despite my efforts to continue pumping. Once he was exclusively formula fed I had high hopes that he would sleep for longer since I had read that formula is more difficult to digest and therefore causes babies to go longer between feedings.

This was not the case with Diego, especially since the most he would drink in one sitting were four ounces. Since Diego has never been on the heavy end of the scale I have always let him lead me in his nourishment. Babies aren’t corrupted like we are, they don’t consume more than they need. I continued his night feedings as needed.

By eight months I could maybe get four hour intervals of sleep each night. The problem arose in trying to put him back in his crib and then getting myself back to sleep. I struggle to go back to sleep after being woken up in the middle of the night. Regrettably, my body never adapted and it’s a problem I will probably always have. I decided that instead of fighting Diego I would just bring him back to my bed.

Co-sleeping and bed sharing are two different things, but both are controversial. Co-sleeping involves sleeping in the same room, say in a bassinet or even a crib. Bed sharing is exactly what the name implies: sharing a bed with your baby. Bed sharing has risks. You could smother your baby with a blanket or pillow, or even roll on top of him. Diego very rarely slept in our bed before he was able to turn over on his own. For a few months Diego would start out sleeping in his crib and would end up in our bed.

If you’re ever in a situation where you might consider bed sharing, consider this:

  1. Do not share a bed with your baby if you have limited space. A full size bed is not big enough, in my opinion. A queen bed could work but I honestly would not attempt it in a bed smaller than a king.
  2. If you’re a heavy sleeper, or a restless sleeper you should rethink bed sharing.
  3. If you’re on medication that impairs your judgment or makes you dizzy/drowsy do not share a bed with your baby. (This includes, pain killers, sleep aids, etc.)
  4. A crib or bassinet is the safest place for your baby to sleep.

Those are pretty common sense to me but I don’t think we lose anything by reminding others and ourselves of the risks and dangers of bed sharing. I fully believe in doing what is best for your family and sometimes sharing a bed results in better sleep for everybody. Do it safely and purposefully.

Shortly after Diego turned one I decided to start the process of teaching him to fall asleep on his own. At this point he was still waking up once or twice each night (not to feed) and I was just done with that. I needed to start cleaning up his routine and his habits. I started by having him fall asleep in his crib rather than in my arms. He protested at first but I was there to rub his back and say soothing things. Once we had this down I moved to leaving his room shortly after laying him down in his crib.

I guess I did a sort of cry it out method. It only lasted a week or two and he only cried for about ten minutes on average. I started doing the same thing during his naps so as to reinforce this new practice. I know that crying it out isn’t for everybody and I’ve heard many parents who feel that it is cruel to make your baby cry himself to sleep. In my case, Diego was pretty much crying no matter how we put him to sleep.

At his fifteen month check-up his pediatrician suggested giving him five minutes to settle himself back to sleep if he ever woke up in the middle of the night. It was difficult to not run into his room at the first cry. I wanted to rush in there as I always done. I was shocked to find that a few cries subsided into nothing. He could indeed put himself back to sleep. It has been a while since I’ve heard him awaken during the night.

He is now seventeen months old and is sleeping through the night. He whines a little sometimes when we put him in his crib but he doesn’t cry. He is also sleeping about twelve hours straight each night! He wakes up happy and doesn’t even cry out for anybody. He just amuses himself in his crib until I go get him. He is also napping really well. He has been down to one nap a day for months. On average, he naps for two hours but on some days he sleeps for up to three hours. It all depends.

Here’s what I’ve learned about achieving great sleep in your child:

  1. All children are different. Do not compare your child to others.
  2. Sleeping through the night is a skill and dependent upon many things.
  3. There is no one sure fire way to get your child to sleep through the night but there are many things you can try. Swaddling and a sound machine were particularly useful to us.
  4. Routines are important. For us it’s: bath, lotion massage, get into pjs, brushing teeth, and going into crib. Sound machine to ocean sounds and projector/night light.
  5. You need to decide when your child is ready for what, and be honest, is your child really not ready, or is it you?
  6. Adapt any method that catches your fancy.
  7. Do not listen to people who tell you to put rice cereal in your child’s bottle, give him medication, or any other ill advised, and dangerous suggestions.
  8. Bring any concerns to your doctor. That should always be your starting point. No question is silly. If it’s bothering you, bring it up. That way you know you are getting medically sound advice that is safe.

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Check-in Wednesday

I had to go back to my January post where I stated my goals for the year in order to see what I am supposed to be working on. One of my goals this year is to be more positive. This includes silencing negative body talk. I think that in general every person in the world has something they dislike about their bodies. It’s normal to have an off day where our flaws seem to be magnified every time we look in the mirror. It becomes a problem, however, when flaws are all we see.

One of the biggest problems, in my opinion, is that we are expecting perfection. We compare ourselves to others and wonder why we don’t look like them. The answer is simple: they are them and you are you. We cannot expect to find happiness in comparison. It never leads anywhere good. Women have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to body image. Everyday we are assaulted by media images of scantily clad women who look perfect in every way. They don’t have a mark on their bodies. Their slim hips, perfectly perky breasts, and long legs taunt us short, un-skinny women. Now, most of us know that a lot of these images are doctored with photoshop. Nobody is perfect, and those that were blessed with the genetic disposition for that flawless look we all covet are not immune to negative self image.

I think that a person’s health is between themselves and their doctor. I really don’t like it when people make mean comments about a person’s weight or the food they eat. It’s nobody’s business but theirs. I also think that overall good health is much more than numbers on the scale. There are other indicators such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance that tell us a lot more than mere weight can. That’s not to say that I don’t believe that weight isn’t a risk factor, because I really think it is. I just think it’s wrong to assume that a fat person is automatically unhealthy. That is simply not true.

Something else I take issue with is the idea that a woman should be judged based on the clothes she wears. I personally don’t like skimpy clothes and prefer to dress modestly but that doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to do the same. Similarly, the idea that somebody shouldn’t wear something because of their weight is silly. If they are comfortable in it that’s all that matters. I used to spend a lot of time criticising people in my head for what they wore. I am still guilty of this if I’m honest. Back when I was still working it really amazed me at what some people thought could pass for work-appropriate attire.

Growing up it was perfectly acceptable for adults to comment on a child’s weight and development. “You’re too fat!” “You’re too skinny!” “Oh my, look at the boobs on her!” When I think back at the times I was fondled and humiliated when I was younger I want to scream. That is not acceptable. It is never acceptable to remark on a person’s physical attributes regardless of their age. It’s no wonder that so many young girls develop low self esteem. We are basically telling them that how they look trumps everything else.

It has taken me what feels like a long time to get to the point where I am comfortable with my body. I am not perfect, I am definitely overweight (by a lot) but I am okay with that. I don’t need to have a perfect body to be happy. My stretch-marks are faded, remnants from puberty and pregnancy. They’re nature’s tattoos. I am purposely framing them in a positive light because why should I poison my own mind with the negativity that is so easy to fall into? I have more important things to do than lament how my stomach has a few marks, or how it isn’t flat, or how it’s just a little flabbier now than it’s ever been.

I remember reading an article or blog post a year or so ago that talked about how a child didn’t see his/her mother as anything other than beautiful until they saw how much their mother hated her own body. That has always stayed with me and while I don’t have a daughter I do have a son and how he sees women starts at home.

I don’t love my body everyday, but I try. And I love it enough to take care of it because I want to be around for a long time. It’s the reason I am working on losing weight. I want to feel good. Looking better (to myself) would be a bonus. Also, should I decide to do the whole baby thing again (hey, miracles do happen) I want to give myself an advantage. I was lucky last time, I actually weighed considerably less at the end of my pregnancy. A second pregnancy could go in a completely different direction. In looking ahead to the future I realize I need to keep my options open. I am not sold on the idea of another pregnancy but should I decide to go for it I want my body to be up for the challenge.

Whenever I write these posts I am always hopeful that if anybody reads them that they will perhaps feel less alone in their thoughts. We don’t often discuss, rubbing thighs, stretch-marks, cellulite, and flab. These are topics that aren’t considered polite and maybe I wouldn’t discuss them out loud in the middle of a crowded room but maybe we should. I hear enough about erectile dysfunction on the radio and television, my topics are decidedly more tame.

 

 

One pot meal and a crib bandit

I am in the middle of a spring cleaning sort of thing. I am going through our closets and getting rid of all the junk that we no longer need or use. I also went through Diego’s clothes and picked out the ones that no longer fit him. We took a nice little haul over to our local Goodwill. There is still a closet that is pending but the house already feels more spacious.

Kicking up all this dust has not helped the cold I have but I’ve pushed on. This needs to get done and I have been putting it off for far too long. My work in progress should be complete by the end of the week. In addition to all this cleaning I took the opportunity to rearrange the furniture in Diego’s room. I think it’s a better configuration, namely because his crib in no longer right by the door. I’m hoping that my husband’s leaving in the morning no longer disturbs him and that he will sleep a little longer.

My favorite part of my day today was the meal I made for lunch. It’s a one pot pasta meal that is both easy and tasty. I made it using bow tie pasta but you can use whatever cut of pasta you like.

I used:

about 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes (halved)

Two cloves of garlic (peeled)

Dry oregano to taste

Salt

Pepper

About 1/2 a box of bow ties

Enough water to cover the pasta.

Throw all of these ingredients in a pot and cook until pasta is cooked through. I also added some fresh baby spinach towards the end of cooking. If the sauce is too watery ladle some of it out and allow it to thicken a little. You can add basil if you have it. I’m sure that would be good, too.

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Lastly, Diego let me know it was time to lower his mattress again. It was the first thing my husband did when he came home.

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Five tips for a happy home

I am not an expert on other families but I am an expert on my family. Here are a few things that I believe make ours a happy one (most of the time).

  1. Start each morning with a sunny disposition. I wouldn’t say that I am a morning person but I am not a grump either. When you smile you feel better, so start your day with a smile on your face. When I go into Diego’s room each morning I greet him with a smile and a buenos dias. His day is starting off, too, and I want it to start off on a happy note.  As soon as I set him down he runs into our bedroom in search of his Daddy. This little morning routine feels powerful because we start our day together. This has changed a little in the last couple of weeks as Diego has been sleeping later and so he doesn’t always wake up in time to see my husband off.
  2. Show affection. I have noticed that Diego loves to see my husband and I hug and kiss. It just makes his little face light up. It makes me feel good, too. It’s so easy to shower your child with affection. Everyday I am cuddling and kissing Diego and it melts my heart when he hugs  or kisses me back. It’s equally important to be affectionate towards your significant other.
  3. Be grateful. Each night before going to bed I go into Diego’s room to check on him. A soft hand on his back to feel the reassuring rise and fall as he breathes and a readjustment of his blanket always puts me in a contemplative mood. This quiet moment always makes me feel a deep sense of gratitude. It’s not enough to be grateful, it’s also important to express it. Little things like having my husband thank me for doing the laundry, making dinner, or vacuuming the floor makes a big difference. He does this often and it makes me feel so good. Likewise I make sure to thank him for everything that he does for us. It’s nice to hear that we are appreciated.
  4. Little gestures. Any relationship can benefit from little gestures that show our love. This past week my husband hid little post it notes around the kitchen for me to find. That was such a fun little treat. It’s not an everyday thing but it’s so meaningful when he does this. I sometimes sneak notes in his pocket, car, or coffee mug. What we do everyday is check in with a quick text and in the rare occasion a video call.
  5. Communicate about everything. Finances, vacations, the latest gossip- all of these topics are things that should be talked about, just to name a few. I think it brings us closer to talk about the minutia of our lives. For more than eight hours a day my husband and I are not together. When he gets home he always wants to know what Diego and I got up to. I tell him with the aid of pictures and video. We then move on to work, what needs to be done around the house, and what is on the DVR.

I’ll be sure to come back to this post when I’m having a bad day. These five things are ones that I strive for every day but sometimes I fall short. On the days that I do, I dust myself off, apologize if I need to, and try again the next day.