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Skelzies

Skelzies NYC: Courtesy of HypeBeast.com
Oh my gosh, talk about reminiscing!  This morning whilst cooking breakfast, I used up the last of the milk. Before opening a new one, I rinsed the empty container and put it in the recycling bin.  I was about to throw out the bottle cap when an image of my brothers and me playing Skelzies came to mind.  Dang, we use to have so much fun with this game!

Skelzies a.k.a Skully is a New York City street game.  It's basically a 6 ft. X 6 ft. square with a bunch of other squares numbering from 1 - 13 in it.  The game pieces are bottle caps, milk caps, checkers, etc. with wax in the middle.  We use to use my mother's candles for this...lol.  She use to get angry at us, for one because we were dealing with hot wax and fire, and two, because it was from her altar. We were kids, I'm sure the Santos didn't mind!  All we were thinking was having fun.

Anyway, the object of the game is to land in each square (ascending in number), by getting your cap in the square or by hitting an opponent.  You have to get to from 1 to 13.  And then you descend from 13 back to 1, in the same manner.  The first person to do this, usually wins because once you get back to 1 you become a "killer" cap.  When a "killer" hits an opponent, the opponent is automatically out of the game. You can play with many people or just two. With a smaller group you can have more than one cap, but with a large group this is not recommended because the game would just drag out and take too long.  Don't get me wrong, we have played this way too, but at times it wasn't as fun because waiting for your turn took to long.

Skelzies was the shnit!  We would have fun for hours.  It would get so rowdy - there was lots of laughing and horsing around.  Sometimes it would get opinionated and argumentative, hahahaha.  Picture a bunch of Puerto Ricans, Irish, Italians, Dominicans, (etc.) arguing - funny sight!

I got the brilliant idea that I am now going to collect my milk caps and empty some wax into them, and yep, teach my kids how to play Skelzies. Maybe it'll catch on here in the burb...
Night And DayNight And Day by Virginia Woolf
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm going to have a lot of haters after this review.

Yes, yes, it's a Virginia Woolf Classic - got that! Yes, she is a literary goddess and her writing is beautiful. That is not in debate here. HOWEVER, this book kinda sucked! It made me want to crawl out of my skin at times. It dragged. Many times I said, "Enough already!" I know that at times the dragging on was suppose to be comical, but it wasn't funny to me. Maybe as a play I would be able to appreciate the comical aspects, but not as a wordy-drag-on-enough-already-paragraph.

I was so disappointed with the main characters. I literally wanted to jump in the book and shake them out of their stupidity. "JUST TELL HER/HIM HOW YOU FEEL!" The beating around the bush took up more than half of the book. I wanted to just skip over a lot of it, but couldn't bring myself to, afraid to miss something beautiful in Woolf's writing. I basically suffered in the characters' misery.

I enjoyed the cameo characters more than the protagonists. Mary, I loved and wish there were more scenes with her. My favorite part of the book was when Mary went to visit her family. Even Henry and Mrs. Hilbery were better than the main characters; heck even nosy and annoying Aunt Milvain was more likable then some of these main characters...lol.

Let me just say that I will not be adding this book to my home library.

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Sleepeasy Solution Update: Naps

It's been almost two months since we tried the Sleepeasy Solution and I have to say that I am impressed.  I will focus on nap-time because our baby loves to practice all her new skills at night, so we are still having some troubles in this area.  Also, I must say that I am not as strict with the nighttime regiment as I am with nap because I am so darn tired that it's much easier at times to just nurse in bed, which sends baby VERY confusing messages.  I know, I know, but I am one mom to four kids and one husband, I need to squeeze in sleep wherever I can get it.

Side note:  She falls asleep just fine at night after our bath and rocking routine and will sleep for about an initial 3-4 hour stretch  it's keeping her asleep that is the problem.

Okay, so the naps are going wonderfully.  We have a little routine that is working very well for us.  I downloaded a white noise application for my iPod Touch and we have a docking system that allows me to play the app at full volume which is great when my older kids and their friends are around.  Anyway, I follow the Sleepeasy Solution nap cues and go upstairs with baby when I know that she is ready for her nap.  She is a smart little thing, she already knows that when I shut the curtains (with black out backing) and turn on my iPod that its nurse time and then nap time.  She makes this little desperate whimperimg sound (so cute) and kicks her feet.  I then turn on the baby monitor and make sure her co-sleeper is free of toys.  We sit on the rocker and I nurse, but I don't allow her to fall asleep.  As soon as I see her about to doze off - you know when they get that drunken sailor look - I tell her, "Okay, Bebita (little baby in Spanish), it's time to go sleep."  Believe it or not, she unlatches herself!  I then lay her in her co-sleeper and sit on the rocker for five minutes.  Sometimes she will complain a little and if she does, I stay quiet and allow her to calm herself.  If however, she cries, I use my voice from the rocker and sooth her; the crying will sometimes get a little louder, but it's a final protest and doesn't last long.  In less than three minutes she is off to Lala Land.  However, the norm is that I put her in her co-sleeper and she just knocks out, after five minutes I leave and am free, well from the baby at least.

When we first started the Sleepeasy Solution she was only napping for about 30 minutes and crying for 30.  As time progressed it got better.  She will now take a 2-3 hour morning nap and a 1-2 hour afternoon nap.  Depending on when she wakes up after the afternoon nap she may need another small snooze, so that she isn't overly tired at night.  I don't let her sleep past 5:00 PM.

Anyway, I am really happy with her nap progress and it has made my life much easier.  If I have to run errands I try to work it around nap OR I just run my errands and put her in my Maya Sling and allow her to sleep.

Hope you find this blog helpful and wishing all moms out there plentiful rest and sleep - yeah right!  I can have wishful thinking, right?

Cooking

I was cooking yesterday and thought to myself how I take my cooking for granted.  Cooking comes naturally to me.  I come from a large family where all of our gatherings revolve around great food and loud music :) I learned how to cook at an early age by watching my mother and my siblings and then by pitching in.  By the time I was seventeen I was cooking entire meals for my friends.

Cooking is something I enjoy and something that I've given little thought about.  It comes naturally. I am only conscious of being healthy, but not of technique.  That comes easily.  It's not until I hear someone say that they can't even boil water that I am blown away.  In most Latin household cooking is a must.  Una mujer buena cocina - a good woman cooks.  Although I am very open minded and consider myself non-judgmental, I must admit that somewhere deep down inside, I turn my nose up on women who don't know how to cook.  Sorry, but I guess I am a bit old fashion when it comes to certain roles.  To me cooking is a necessity, a way to save money, a way to be able to live on a budget whether you are young and single or have a large family.  Cooking is one of the ways that I show my family love. Fresh baked muffins and hot chocolate on a cold morning.  Buttermilk pancakes,  home style hashbrowns, and fresh fruit when my husband comes in from a 24 hour shift. It gives me so much joy that I can't imagine not being able to express myself with food.  My brother-in-law just graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp and my gift to him was a huge homemade meal - everything from spaghetti and meatballs, to fresh baked bread, oatmeal cranberry cookies, and bread pudding with warm toffee sauce.  It made my heart swell seeing him and our entire family who was visiting, enjoy a  meal that I made from scratch that I labored with love.

Anyway, thinking of cooking made me realize that maybe I should blog about certain dishes that I take for granted.  So within the next few days I will try to include some easy recipes that anyone can try and many will enjoy.  Buen Provecho!
Island Beneath the SeaIsland Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great book to me is one that stays with you even after you are done reading. It's when the characters become so real that you can vividly depict them in your mind; you feel something for them - love, hate, compassion, anger... This book definitely meets these criteria. The story unfolds effortlessly and captivates your imagination so photographically that you feel like you are there. Allende does not disappoint. Her writing is beautiful. Yes, this book doesn't have as much mythism as The House of Spirits, but it still has a lot of symbolism and spirituality that is appropriate for the setting, era, and characters. Definitely a great read and that I highly recommend.

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Candida / Yeast Infections Remedies

As a Lactation Counselor I am always asked, "what is the best way to get rid of a yeast infection?" Even expert moms' who have nursed many babies ask me this question.


I have decided to create this blog with what I have found to be the best way/ways to deal with this pesty problem.


The two most important things are this: Number One, make sure that both baby and mom are treated at the same time or the yeast will continue to thrive on one and then jump to the other. In other words, you will be passing that little sucker back and forth. Number Two, cut down or eliminate sweets and sugars.  Yeast thrives and grows in a sweet environment.  That is why you dissolve it in a little sugar and warm water during baking :)  Cutting down sugars means nothing WHITE - no white breads, pastries, pasta, rice, etc.  If baby is eating solids, cut down or eliminate fruits until this problem is under control.


Eating too many sugary foods / beverages, anti-biotics, and STRESS, yes, stress,  are the culprits for yeast infections because they throw off the natural flaura and fauna (good bacteria) in our internal system.


Once you have these two things done the treatment plan will be more successful.


Now, in order to fully combat yeast you have to deal with the external symptoms and with the internal imbalance.  If you treat the external with topical remedies and do nothing for restoring your internal balance then the cycle will continue to occur.


For the external part, I have several remedies and it all depends on whether or not you want a mainstream cure or a more holistic approach.  I will discuss both:


Mainstream Approach
Go to your doctor and baby's pediatrician to get an anti-fungal cream to be used in tandem.  The usual prescription is Nystatin and Triamcinolone and Diflucan.  Once you begin treatment remember to continue rules one and two that I have already discussed.  Along, with this external topical ointment there are several things that you must do in order to keep the yeast away and I will discuss these in the internal approach.


Holistic Approach


I have several holistic approaches.  Many of my moms swear by some and not so much by others, some swear by all of them, and vice versa.  I will list all the ones that I have gotten rave reviews about and you pick and choose the one you feel will work best for you and baby. 


  • Yeast and Thrush Away Tea is a loose leaf tea that is very effective for cleansing candida growth both internally and externally. Steep the tea in hot water for 10 minutes and strain. For internal use, it tastes much better creamy and sweet.  However, you want to minimize the use of sugar as much as possible when fighting candida, so don't be a wimp and drink it straight up. One cup twice a day for adult use, and a few drops in the mouth is sufficient for babies under 6 months of age. Toddlers and children can take a tablespoon at a time according to their size and weight. The tea can also be used on a washcloth to cleanse any external candida in the mouth, on nipples, or on genitals, or poured into bath water for a soak. This is a dark tea which will make the bath water look yucky, but it's great for dealing with yeast infections.

  • Baking soda can be an effective treatment for thrush. It changes the ph of the skin, inhibiting fungal growth. You can make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to Mom’s nipples. Rinse off before feeding the baby. Baby can also take baths with a little baking soda sprinkled in the water, which will soothe any yeasty diaper rash (it looks bright red and hurts).

  • 0.25 - 0.5 percent solution of Gentian Violet applied to mom's nipples twice a day for three days. Gentian violet is effective, but VERY messy. You and baby will probably look like Smurfs during this treatment. Also, apply a small amount once a day to baby's mouth.  WARNING: overuse of Gentian Violet may irritate the sensitive oral mucus membranes of baby's mouth. Apply an organic lip balm to baby's lips before using the gentian violet to avoid purple stains.
    WARNING: Gentian Violet has been used for many years to treat thrush. A recent study done in Australia has linked Gentian Violet to cancer of the mouth. However, many other professionals around the world believe that it is safe, and continue to recommend it. For this reason, I suggest you use this remedy sparingly, and for as little time as possible.
Okay now that we discussed the external remedies, remember that we must also treat the internal system or the yeast will come back or not linger around.  So once you have chosen an effective external remedy you must also do the following: 
  1. Wash everything that has come in contact with the yeast infected areas in vinegar.  These include: bras, tank-tops, nursing shirts, nursing pads (washable kind), bibs, burps cloths, pacifiers, breast pump parts, toys, etc.  Let them soak for a good ten minutes (if you have an HE front load washer just press the pause button) and then rinse.  Your items will not smell like vinegar because it will evaporate.  Vinegar is actually a great and inexpensive natural fabric softener than can be used all the time in the wash. 
  2. Take an organic and reputable source of pre and pro biotics like acidophilus supplements.  This should be done on a daily basis just like a multi vitamin. It is a healthy thing to do in general.  It should especially be done when on anti-biotics! You can also give this to baby.  Empty the capsule (1 teaspoon) into breastmilk, formula, or baby food.  Also, you can empty a capsule (1 teaspoon) into breastmilk or water to make a paste and rub on baby's mouth. 
  3. Change your nutrition if you are not a healthy eater.  Increase your veggie intake, eat more healthy omegas like those found in nuts (if you are not allergic.  Do not give nuts to infants!), eat less processed foods, etc.  
  4. Drink more water!  In general most people do not drink enough water.  You must be drinking half of your body weight in water!  Example:  If you weigh 140 lbs then you must drink 70 fluid ounces of water - even more if you are breastfeeding!  Don't explode your cells...lol...don't down all of that in one shot.  The healthiest way to drink water is to take the amount you need and divide it by the amount of hours you are awake.  Take the 70 fluid ounces as an example, if you are awake for 10 hours divide it by that and this means you have to drink 7 fluid ounces every hour.  
  5. Hygiene is very important!  Make sure you are changing your bras and breast pads often.  Do not use a plastic lined breast pad or underwire bras.  Change baby's diaper as soon as they have a bowel movement and at least every two hours when urinated, more often if using cloth diapers.  Always thoroughly wash anything that comes in contact with baby's mouth and wash hands after every diaper change and bathroom run.  
  6. Do not use anti-bacterial cleansers as this will also kill good bacteria.  Good ole water and soap for 30 seconds will get rid of the nasty germs.  


Hope these help.  And remember to always discuss any medical changes or treatments with your doctor.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask! 




LOL!

9/11

My prayers are with those who have lost loved ones on this day, ten years ago.  I also pray for all who were directly affected by this tragedy.  As the wife of a Fire Fighter and the sister of someone who worked in the World Trade Center my heart aches for everyone who suffered and are still suffering.

On That Day
September 11, 2001 was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and a warm breeze was in the air.  I dropped my five year old at the bus stop and walk with my one year old back to our little apartment.  On my way there I saw a friend and we stopped to chat.  We mentioned taking a walk later on in the day.  There was no way we were staying inside on such a lovely day.

I went upstairs and turned on the news.  I put the baby on his high chair and cut some bananas up for him to eat. At the time I ran a full daycare out of my apartment, so I began to prepare for another ordinary day.  I sipped my coffee as I waited for my daycare kids to be dropped off.  When my first kid arrived, I helped him take off his shoes and I then walked him over to our craft table.  I started to set out the paint brushes and was about to start squirting paint into an empty egg carton when my second daycare kid arrived.  I was chatting with his mom when a voice came over the television set stating that an airplane had "accidentally" crashed into the World Trade Center.  Catherine and I looked at the television and we were confused.  What?!  We couldn't comprehend what we had just heard and what we were seeing on the television screen.  At that moment my phone rang and my sister-in-law was talking quickly and frantically.  "I can't understand you.  Slow down, what?"  She was rambling about a plane and my sister.  I couldn't make sense out of the words.  She then yelled "Your sister works on the 98th floor of the tower that just got hit!"  I knew this, but had momentarily forgotten until she jolted it out of me.  I then dropped the phone, dropped to my knees, and began to scream.  Catherine looked bewildered.  I was able to take control of my emotions when I saw those little faces staring at me.  "I'm sorry guys.  I'm okay.  I'm okay,"  but I wasn't.  My legs were trembling and tears were freely flowing.  Catherine offered to not go to work, to take her son home.  I reassured her that it was okay, that I was okay, that everything would be okay, that she could go on about her day like usual.  However, I was dead wrong, it was not a usual day.  It  wasn't okay and it would never be okay.

For hours we couldn't reach my sister.  For hours we couldn't even reach each other.  At the time my siblings lived in NYC and my parents were in Puerto Rico. We didn't know if my sister was dead or if she was alive.  I thought the worst, but was afraid to voice it aloud.  There is NO WAY she could have survived an airplane crashing into her floor, NO WAY.  Her tower was the first to get hit, so there was no warning, no foresight.

My husband was an MP on a Marine Corps base at the time.  I called him and told him to please come home.  I needed him.  He came to me as soon as possible.  I needed his comfort, but I also wanted him far away from Quantico.  Knowing that the Pentagon was also hit, I was afraid of what else could go wrong.  We got my son from school because we needed home.  We wanted him close to us.  We needed each other.

My family, we ended up being one of the lucky ones. My sister was okay.  She was ALIVE!  Her life had been spared by a decision that was the source of anger only three days before.  This is what happened...

The week before September the eleventh my sister had put in to have September the 10th off.  However, on September the eight her supervisor who was not a very friendly lady let her know that she actually couldn't have the tenth off even though it had already been granted.  This supervisor had the reputation of making people's lives miserable just for spite.  She told my sister that she couldn't have the tenth off, but if she wanted to, she could have the eleventh.  My sister asked why she couldn't take the tenth off and her supervisor had no real valid reason.  Under normal circumstances my sister would've challenged the decision, she would have taken it up with her supervisor's boss, but being a newly devote Christian she decided to offer it up.  She decided to pray on it and let God handle things.  This decision saved her life.  This decision has implanted in my brain that everything happens for a reason.  Now when I am stuck in traffic or when things don't go my way, I think to myself "offer it up because this circumstance may be saving your life."

Although her life was spared, my sister's heart wasn't spared.  She lost a lot on that day and I am so sorry for it.  I wish that it had never occurred. She lost almost everyone that she worked with for the exception of three other co-workers.  These co-workers were like family to her.  She spend ten hours a day for ten years with them.  She loved them, even the ones she didn't like, she loved. She went to a memorial and/or a funeral almost every week for over a year.  She has had survivor's guilt and post traumatic stress.  Her road after 9/11 has not been an easy one. I am so sorry for her pain and for her lost.

I love my sister and I am very grateful to have her.

I never did take my walk that day and things were never the same for myself, for my sister, or for our nation.

Today
I am still grateful to have my sister.  I thank the good Lord for allowing us to keep her.  She has been able to share in so many life moments - the purchase of two homes, the births of two additional children, and the many successes in my life. I think of the emptiness that I would have had if she weren't around.  The void and the great loss I would've felt.  This scares me and I feel guilty that I was able to keep her when so many others lost their loved ones.

I will never forget.  I will always be grateful. And I thank God.

Flipping Garbage Truck!

Holding my pee and delaying my breakfast is worth it when I know the prize will be my sweet baby asleep for a one to two hour nap, while I indulge without her.  I will relieve my poor bladder and drink my cafe con leche and eat a homemade muffin (that I slaved over).  I will enjoy it in the tranquility of a quiet home.  Everyone is gone, the morning chaos over and baby asleep.  Ahhh.

DUM DUM DUM.... Here comes the stupid garbage truck and freaking wakes her up!  

Remedy:  Grab cranky baby, pee with her on my lap, wash hands while balancing her on my knee, pour cafe con leche out of cute mug and into travel mug, drink hastily, and stuff muffin in mouth while leaning over the counter and gently swatting little grabby hands! 

The Language of FlowersThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was beautifully written.  At times the story was so real that I had to take breaks  when it became painfully unbearable.  My maternal instinct were in full gear as I read this book. After some chapters I was drawn to my children.  I HAD to touch them, kiss them, and cuddle them.  As a mother of four children my heart ached after reading some chapters.  After reading one particular chapter I had to get up and nurse my baby... Not weird.  You will totally understand my need after reading this book.

On a different note, I learned so much about botany - my interest is so peaked that I want to actually learn more.  The language of flowers is beautiful.  I will definitely be more careful when choosing an arrangement.

I really enjoyed this book.  The characters were very real. The ending was a nice one that left me fulfilled.


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CA Bill Strips Informed Consent Rights from Parents

Today, there is a bill on the desk of California Governor Jerry Brown (Assembly Bill 499) that has been quietly and quickly rammed through the state legislature by the medical-pharma lobby. If Governor Brown signs that bill into law, then children as young as 12 years old will be vaccinated with Gardasil, hepatitis B and future vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

 Courtesy of NVIC
Crossing OceansCrossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! The best ending of any book I have ever read and I've read many. I still have tears in my eyes. This book most definitely took me by surprised. The characters were amazingly relate-able, REAL, and full of depth. I can't believe this book was free with my Kindle. I haven't looked up the author, to see if she has any more books, but I am in love with her writing style and her religious insight. I will be looking her up and I hope she has written more because I am hooked.

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Far Away Home, an American Historical NovelFar Away Home, an American Historical Novel by Susan Denning
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. The beginning was intriguing and I was immediately drawn to the main character and her world. I loved that it began in NYC and enjoyed the historical references. The early characters had depth and the plot was very rich. HOWEVER, somewhere in the middle-end the author's writing fell off. The characters were not as believable as they had been in the beginning and some of the cameo characters were unnecessary. Did the author run out of steam? Who knows? Seriously, it's almost as if two different people partook in the writing of this book; one very amazing writer and one not so much. At times there were characters that were introduced in such an odd manner that I didn't know who the heck they were. Also, there was one line in the book that was so confusing that I re-read it three times before I figured out that it must be an old saying. I then looked it up and I was correct.

This book could've been AMAZING. It's so sad that it just fell off. The ending sucked, unless she writes another book that picks up where this one left off, then I guess it wouldn't be so bad. I know that the ending was suppose to be profound, but the writing was so weak that it didn't have that effect, instead it felt unfinished.



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