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Happy Holidays?

Holidays have always been my favorite time of the year.  Growing up we always had a party to attend and something fun to do.  When we were little the "party" house rotated, but the guests remained the same, except for a few stragglers.  It was always la familia.  The women cooked up a storm, the men played dominos, and the children eargerly exchanged stories, once caught up and comfortable, crazy playtime began!  Eventually everyone would come together to eat, drink, and dance.  By the end of the night a bunch of us kids would end up sleeping on top of a mound of coats that were haphazardly thrown on the bed, until the adults finished their festivities.

As we went from children to teens we still enjoyed our time with the family.  As a matter of fact, invitations were extended to our friends and those we were dating.  As teenagers and young adults, Mami's house was the gathering place where we all enjoyed a good meal, plenty of laughs, hugs, and just a straight out good time. Our gatherings were not for the lightweight, we kept it going until the sun came up or until the neighbors' complained.  Those were the good old days, that at the time seemed like they would last forever.  Growing up was so far away that no one worried about it.

However, growing up was inevitable and adults we eventually became; life forcing us to drift apart.  Unexpected curve balls came our way.  Not knowing that jobs and circumstances would force us to live many miles apart we took our times together for granted.  In the early days we tried our best to retain our ties, but as the years have gone by, our families have joyously grown, and with each addition, life has made it more difficult for us to be together. At first its very noticeable and then not so much, the hope of next year made it cope-able. However, "next year" sometimes never came. Now the holidays are bitter sweet.  We reminisce, sometimes with a smile and a story to pass on to our children.  Sometimes silently with a tear that no one will ever see.  We are grateful  and now create new traditions with our own family, but sadly, those old traditions seem to be fading away.

Today, I am nostalgic.  Today I am sad.  I miss my parents, my brothers, my sister.  I miss asking for "la bendicion."  I miss my tios, tias, and cousins.  I miss my crazy friends who were extended siblings. I miss our loud parties, our jokes, our laughter.  I mourn the children we once were and I miss the little times we have gathered together with our now growing families.

I long to turn back time for just a few hours.  I long to smell Mami's coquito, to hear the clanking of dominos being shuffled, to laugh at a joke even if at my expense, to dance until my feet hurt, and to look around the room and see those faces that I desperately miss everyday of my life.

I realistic long to have la familia closer, for my children to have their cousins to laugh and run around the house with, and for my own little family to get a glimpse of what I had growing up.

A Date with My Little Girl

Those of you who have little girls know who Hannah Montana is.  Yeah, I'm not so crazy about her You may also know that Emily Osment  plays Lily, Miley's sidekick and best friend on the hit show.  If meeting Miley Cyrus is not possible, meeting Emily Osment is the next best thing.  When my little girl found out that Emily Osment was coming to our local mall she was thrilled, but being the patient and understanding girl that she is (well most of the time :) she didn't make a big deal of it because "Mommy is on bedrest and Papa works that day."  I honestly didn't know if I would be able to take her.  It all depended on how I was feeling.  And when I overdid it on Friday, the day before Emily was due in town, I though "Uh-oh, it's not going to happen."  However, a mother's will is a strong thing.

I automatically woke up at 6 AM on Saturday and thought, "I HAVE to do this for her!"  I felt in my heart that after making it on the honor roll, the gifted student's program, and being so understanding about not having me 100% since being put on bedrest, my daughter deserved this.  I took a shower, made breakfast, woke my little girl up and surprised her with the good news.  It took her a minute to understand what I was saying and then she jumped out of bed and got dressed.  After inviting the boys and being turned down, we packed some sports chairs, a cooler full of drinks, snacks, blankets, paper for autographs, and jumped in the van.  We were out the door and made it to the mall before eight.  We sat in the car and pondered.  It looked deserted.  We were deciding whether or not to set up our chairs by the front door or whether to hang out in the car.  Going inside was not an option because we were told that the mall didn't open until 9 AM.  However, after 45 minutes we saw a group of girls go into the mall and my daughter said "Mommy, we have to go check," and so we did.  We walked in and there were already about 5 (groups) in front of us! The mall was letting people in and we had been sitting in the car for almost an hour!  We could have been first, but I guess being 5th wasn't bad.  I gave my daughter her backpack and went back to the car (which was park RIGHT in the front) and grabbed our belongings.  We set up our chairs and knew we were going to have a long day.  Emily Osment was not due until 1PM.  

Waiting for almost 6 hours wasn't so bad, especially since we were indoors with bathrooms available.  We made new friends and spent some quality time together.  We chatted, goofed around, made fun of people (okay, not very Christian, but still fun), took pics, and cuddled.  By lunch time our snacks were not enough, so we left our chairs with our new friends and walked to Chick Fil-A and got some lunch.  On our way back to our spot we couldn't believe how many people were already behind us!  There must have been about 400 people behind us and it was only 11 AM.  WOW!  We felt blessed with our number five spot and we were so happy we had gotten up at six in the morning.  By noon there must have been over a thousand people on line.  It was becoming ridiculous.  We saw people trying to sneak into the line, trying to get us to pretend  we knew them & they were with us, and we even had some bold grown-ups who just walk to the front and skipped us.  It was really a fiasco.  People act so ridiculous in crowded situations.  Parents screaming at their children, parents screaming at each other, people shoving, pushing... It was CRAZY!  We were happy to be up front surrounded by security and protective barricades.  

At 12:50 we heard the crowd scream and cheer and we knew that Emily was in the building.  My daughter, wow, my beautiful daughter's face just lit up.  She was so excited.  She squeezed my hand and looked at me and said "Thank you so much mommy," and that's all that was needed to open the flood gates.  I am already a pregnant emotional mess, so it was very easy for me to just start crying.  I was so happy for her.  When Emily passed by us, my daughter jumped up and down and cheered.  It was great.  We could see her so clearly from our spot.  Even with the radio ticket winners arriving and jumping up front, we still had a great spot!  It went by so quickly, before we knew it we were on the side of the stage waiting our turn.  I had our video camera and our digital camera set up and ready.  However, when I got up there I went blank.  It was hard to get in great pics and video with security rushing you.  My daughter briefly spoke with Emily and got her autograph.  I took a couple of pics and because my daughter didn't know she wasn't suppose to, she stood right next to Emily while I snapped the shots.  Fans were suppose to stand in front of the table, not next to  It was great.  I even got an autograph for my best friend's daughter who was too sick to make it that morning.  

It was a quick 30 seconds, but so worth it.  My daughter bounced to the car and then she let out a scream, did a little dance and hugged me.  On our way home she called her Papa and her brothers to tell them all about it.  When we got home she called her aunt and made me email our family.  She was so thrilled and so grateful.  On our way home she said "You are the best mom ever," and that was worth getting up at 6AM and spending 6 hours at the mall.  It was a day shared with my daughter that we will never forget and for that I am grateful.

Oh, BTW, we found out that over THREE THOUSAND fans showed up!  Some drove as far as 200 miles, just to see Emily.  WOW! 

Here are some pics:  (The first pic above we also took when it was our turn)

Emily and my daughter (purposefully blurred out)

Hospital Bag

I think I may be in denial about having a baby.  Although I am 30 weeks along and have had two preterm scares, I still do not have a hospital bag packed!  I don't even really remember all that should go in one.  I mean, I remember the essentials like panties and, do not remember all the little extras. I guess I better do some research and work on getting a bag put together.  If anyone has ANY input, suggestions, or ideas, feel free to leave me a comment :)

Boring Xmas List

So, my husband told me that my Christmas / Birthday list is boring!  Hahahaha, could it be the nursing bras or the diaper bag?  Hello?  I am having a baby and will have the need for certain items, why not make them cute?  Okay, okay, so my list could be more exciting, but when I put a compost machine on my list last year he told me that there was no way he was buying me a garbage can for Christmas.  So, I've been brain storming and decided that I want two things: 1) a date with my husband and 2) a bedroom makeover.

The date:  I want a romantic day and night with my husband.  With the baby coming we will not be able to just spend as much uninterrupted quality time together, so I want to make sure that we do that before January.  It would be ideal to get a sitter for our kids and go to DC or Maryland for the weekend - have a nice dinner, do something fun (dancing, sightseeing, etc.) and stay at a nice hotel with a romantic suite.  The more I think about it the more I want this as my present.

And our bedroom, well, I was thinking we will be spending a lot of time in our room with the baby and we will have plenty of visitors, so why not spruce it up.  We already have a pretty room, but it's unfinished.  We've focused so much on the rest of the house, that we've neglected our room.  Now I have to get inspired.  I have black and white with a punch of color in mind, but we'll see...

A Little Organization

In preparing for the baby I am trying to think of small ways of simplifying our lives - my life.  One small step in doing this was donating most of our children's good towels and throwing out the bad ones.  We kept some for guests, but only a few.  The reason why I had to do this was for my own sanity.  I was washing loads of towels weekly.  My kids would grab towels and forget who had which towel and then grab another.  Some would end up on the floor and others in the hamper.  It became this burdensome mess.  So, I thought if I chose a towel color for each kid then they would know which towel was their own and then couldn't blame their sibling for the mess on the floor, ha. I told my husband of my idea and he was on board.  I love this man :)  We went to Walmart and couldn't find the right quality or the right color, so we went to Target and found some towels that worked for what we wanted.  Our daughter wanted purple, but the pink ones were on sale, so guess what she  We got our teen a nice grey and our other son, blue.  We purchased three of each and let me tell you, it's been about three weeks and this system is working!  The children's linen closet looks neater, aside from the towels facing the wrong way (see pic).  They are big so I can't fold them facing the way I'd like and get all three pairs in one shelf, so I had to compromise.  Hey, don't judge, so what, I'm a bit anal about folding :P  Aside from the folding debacle, the system is working.  Everyone hangs their towel on their own hook, there are no overflowing hampers and no messes on the ground.  I am now only washing a small load of towels every week and a half vs. three loads weekly.  It's great and has simplified one small part of my life....

Little Fashionista

It's important for me to instill modesty in my children, especially my little girl.  Nowadays women everywhere are portrayed as carnal objects - this has spilled into teen fashion and even more scary, girls' fashion.  My daughter is VERY observant and my dressing has changed tremendously throughout the years.  As a young adult I wasn't the most modest person.  Being a New Yorker in the music & fashion industry all I wanted was to have the latest fashion and to be noticed.  Although, I am still not on top of the modesty chain, I believe that I hold a healthy balance and will pray to achieve more humility.  I believe that my daughter has a healthy view of her body and on self -virtue, however, she is going through this odd phase.  She is sooooooo into fashion.  She went from being this sort of "town-boy" who could care less if she matched, her hair was brushed, or the cuteness of her outfit to (in a matter of weeks) a little fashionista who cares about her appearance.  Caring about her appearance is important and I am happy for this change, especially when I can get her to wear a girly dress for church, but it's the emphasis on looking "cute" that concerns me.  I am hoping this is a phase and I as long as I don't see her being vain I will let her sort through her feelings, with a stern eye on the situation, of course.  I guess I am just feeling weird about my little girl growing up.  Did I mention that she is a gifted student who brought home a perfect report card and is on the honor roll?  She is creative, loving, giving, and so many other wonderful things.  Should I really be letting this small phase bother me?  Maybe not.  I just worry about worldly views and about my little girl being tainted with whats around her.  Please pray for me, that I may be a healthy role model for my daughter. Also pray that the good Lord will continue to put positive and virtuous friends in her path.

Happy Birthday Marine!

I am proud to be the Goddaughter of a Marine, the sister of two Marines, the friend of many Marines, and the wife of a special Marine.  To all of the Marines in my life and to those who have, who are, and who will faithfully serve this country, THANK YOU.  May God always bless you and your family.  Ooohrah!

Wow, another good day!

I woke up feeling great again.  More energy, no pressure, no contractions... This is a true blessing.  I am so grateful.  I was able to make a big healthy breakfast for my family and I have been making batches of homemade pancakes for  a later time (storing and freezing).

I am starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe,  I am recovering from whatever caused the pre-term labor?

Hmmm?  Trying not to get to excited, but it's hard not to when you've been cooped up in your room for weeks, missing out on family fun, household work & duties, and normalcy.

I will not take advantage though.  I will take it slowly.  I would hate to push it and have a relapse.  After this I will clean up, have a healthy snack, and go relax for a while.

Zucchini Bread

More of yesterday's hard work...

  • Grease and flour two or three (depends on batter)  8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • Sift 1 1/2 C of Organic All Purpose Flour and 1 1/2 Organic Whole Wheat Flour, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 3 tsp cinnamon together in a bowl.
  • Beat 3 eggs, 3/4 C of applesauce w/ 1/4 C Vegetable or Canola oil, 3 tsp vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. 
  • Stir in (3 medium size) shredded zucchini and 1 C walnuts until well combined. 
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
  • Enjoy or store for later use!

Banana Crumb Muffin

Here is some of what I accomplished yesterday:

Banana Crumb Muffins

Three nicely ripened bananas

Puree the bananas w/ 3/4 organic evaporated can juice (sugar),  
1/6 vanilla yogurt, 1/6 melted butter (both = 1/3)

Add one egg, slightly beaten to the wet
mixture shown above

In a large bowl, mix together 
1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt. 
Add wet mixture into dry mixture.
Mix until just moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Optional:  For crumb muffins do this 
(for healthier muffins omit)
In a small bowl, mix together 
brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. 
Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. 
Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 16 to 20 minutes, 
until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool slightly and enjoy!

...or completely cool and store for a later date. 

I'm Loving It!

Banana Crumb Muffins, check
Zucchini Bread, check
Granola Bars, check

So far I have three items checked off the list!  And the best part is, I am not contracting, cramping, nor am I tired!

Wooohooo!  I feel so accomplished today and I'm Loving it!

Loooooong Day!

I am beyond exhausted right now, but I feel so accomplished.  The exhaustion comes from not sleeping well.  It's been absolutely horrible.  I've been up every single night for the past week for one reason or another: sick kid, can't get comfortable, mind's racing, contractions, etc.  The accomplishment comes from FINALLY knocking some errands out.  The big one being grocery shopping.  Because I can't lift heavy items or push heavy things, I haven't been able to do a full "compra" (grocery shopping in Spanish).  I've been picking up needed items here and there which is SO annoying b/c sometimes I am in the mix of cooking / baking and I find out that I am missing an essential ingredient.  Did I mention that bedrest sucks?

Well, I woke up very groggy this morning.  My hubby had military duty and one of his friends called early in the morn (like 5 AM) to get directions or something and the phone woke me up.  I couldn't go back to sleep, so after tossing and turning for a while I decided to just get up. I got the kids up and told them to get dressed, I showered and we left.  We treated ourselves to IHOP and then headed to Quantico to do our compra at the Commissary.  It was crowded!  Why?  Why did everyone have the same idea we did?  Come on people, it's early in the morning!  I had my coupons and my list (so prepared! :)  and my kids to serve as little helpers, big helpers actually.   We got almost everything we needed for the next two weeks.  I had prepared my recipes yesterday and gathered all the ingredients needed to make 'em.  After we left base we got stuck in a little bit of traffic and it took us a while to get home.  We were already tired, but after getting home, we had to clear the van, and put everything in it's place.  That took forever.  The kids were troopers and because of them I got so much accomplished.  I feel blessed, happy, and very successful.  I am now in bed trying to recuperate; the LAST thing I need are contractions.  Once I am well rested I will begin baking for the next few weeks.  My goal is to knock breakfast out.  I am going to bake a few batches of muffins, granola bars, breakfast bars / cookies, French toast sticks, and make some pancakes and freeze them.  I'll try and post my recipes at a later date.

Okay, let me go rest, so that I can get to baking!  Ah (sigh), feels so good to feel productive.  Thank you Lord for the strength, the health, and my wonderful children.

Wired Tired

I am so deliriously tired / sleepy, but I cannot sleep!  This is what I have coined, "wired tired." I can't  sleep for so many reasons:  my back aches, my belly is cumbersome, I can't find a comfortable position, and my mind will not shut up!  I can't stop thinking of the many things that I need to get done, but can't.  Ugh.  Also, my little boy has been under the weather, so when I am FINALLY falling into sweet, sweet sleep I am awaken by a not-so-well-cranky-little-boy.  It's not his fault  and I could never be angry, so I have to of course comfort him and take care of him.  Bedrest doesn't matter when life calls.  I am hoping that writing these thoughts down will relieve some of the clutter in my mind and will help me finally get some Zzzzzzzz.

Well, I guess I will try and relax now and if worst comes to worst, I can always count sheep...

So Exciting

My wonderful best friend is giving me a baby shower and I wanted to design my own invites b/c I didn't like any of the ones I saw.  I spent a good two hours looking for backgrounds, embellishments, and different fonts (this is one time bedrest came in handy :)  After I was done gathering my virtual supplies, I messed around with an online invitation maker and finally put a beautiful invite together.  I settled on a really cute and feminine vintage flower background and chose brown and pink as my color theme.  I showed hubby and asked for his input, he really liked the invitation and pointed out a few minor fixes. After we fixed them, they were poi-fect (said in 3 Stooges accent). I think they came out so pretty!

As soon as I was done my BFF ordered them.  The company said it should take about a week and half, but I am hoping they get in sooner!  I can't wait to see them.  This is the great part about not having a surprise shower this time around.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVED my other three showers, but this time it's fun being involved in the process.

I want to post a pic of my invitations here, but I have to figure out how to take out some of the personal information...

If I figure that out I will definitely share, ACTUALLY, on second thought, I will not post them 'till after the shower because I want my guests to be happily surprised when they receive their beautiful invitations.


Bedrest Sucks!

Not quite, but close enough...
I am going out of my mind having to be confined to just resting.  Intellectually I know that this is the best thing for my baby and that every single day is a precious gift from God.  However, emotionally I am ruined.  I am guilt ridden and anxious.  I feel that I am being a horrible housekeeper, mom, wife, friend, etc.  The days go by and I feel that life is passing me by.  I went from an active lifestyle: housewife, mom, nursing student, breastfeeding counselor, to basically sitting in my room reading and watching television.  Sometimes I cheat and do some cleaning and cooking, but then I feel guilty for that, especially if I feel my body betraying me afterwards.  When I don't cheat I get many things done, in my head.  In my crazy mind I have cleaned the entire house, including the garage and the basement.  I have organized all of my paperwork, including recipes, and to-do lists, and I have pre-made and frozen many wonderful meals.  Ahhhh, I am trying to be patient.  I am trying to see the better side of it.  Yes, I know that I am blessed.  Yes, I know God will get me through this and that He never gives us more than we can handle.  Logically I know all of these things that well-wishing loved ones tell me, but it doesn't matter because emotionally it takes a toll and it sucks!


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