Not One, Not Two, But THREE Valentines

Valentine’s Day. The one day of the year people choose to publicly display their affection for their loved ones. I hear many people say, “I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day; I believe you should show those you love, that you love them EVERY day of the year!”. Yes, I agree with that; however, what’s wrong with an extra day specified to give or receive a gift as simple as a box of chocolates? Can one receive TOO much love and affection? Never! So let’s just let the love birds swoon on this special day.

This Valentine’s Day was easily the best one I’ve yet to enjoy in my lifetime. Funny thing is, it couldn’t have been more uneventful. I was awaken by the faint sound of a baby crying. I looked over to see an empty space revealing my boyfriend’s absence from his side of the bed. He had managed to privily leave the bed in hopes that I may catch a few more minutes of rest. As mothers we all know that this, by far, was the greatest gift he could have possibly given me today. If you are new to my blog, let me just fill you in quickly. I have a daughter who is 10 1/2 months old and a newborn daughter who is 2 weeks old. Crazy, huh? Anyway, back to my day. We spent today cleaning the house and preparing for the garage sale we are having this weekend. In between pricing items, we fed both girls multiple times, changed a ridiculous amount of diapers, and had playtime. Their father and I probably had maximum amount of an hour today uninterrupted during their nap times. This was our Valentine’s Day. An hour lounging around debating whether to use the spare time we had to enjoy each other’s company, eat or continue to clean. So. Much. To. Do. Before we knew it, there was the ever so familiar call of our hungry daughters once more. We kissed goodbye and got back to parenting. Night time came quickly and daddy fed the newborn, Selah, and put her to sleep while mommy bathed Stellar then read her a bedtime story. Finally! The girls were both off to bed! We blinked and this day passed us by. I’m posting this a little past midnight so another Valentine’s Day has come and gone. As boring as this day may have sounded to you, readers; it was hands-down the greatest. Wanna know why? For the last two years, Joey, has been my Valentine. Through him, I found the love of my life. Little did I know that between one Valentine’s Day to the next, he would give me two precious angels that share the space in both of our hearts as the loves of our lives. Joey Garza. Stellar Grace. Selah Hope. This is my favorite Valentine’s Day because I have not one, not two, but THREE Valentines; and that makes me the happiest woman in the world. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Guilty as a Mother

Guilt: the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law.

No one told me how much guilt came with motherhood. Am I the only one who feels this way?

Guilty about wanting to pawn your children off on someone else for a day to get some peace and quiet.

Guilty about wanting that peace and quiet but also not trusting anyone to take your children.

Guilty about being a stay at home mom yet having a messy house because of how tired you always are.

Guilty about the pile of dirty clothes that has sat in the corner for the last week.

Guilty about the clean clothes you did get around to washing but never put up.

Guilty about your decision to be a stay at home mom and how much financial stress it puts on the family.

Guilty for caring more about taking turns sleeping while one watches the newborn baby than sleeping next to your partner at night.

Guilty for feeling like you need help.

Guilty for not asking for help even when you really need it.

Guilty when you do ask for help.

Guilty about putting your relationship on the back burner and putting the children first.

Guilty for feeling relief when bedtime finally comes around.

So. Much. Guilt.

An Ode to Extraordinary Fathers

It is far too common to read about single mothers raising their children alone, or men in the home providing financially and thinking that’s the only thing needed to be a “father”. As much negativity as is online towards these dads, I’m here to voice the opposite and say thank you to the scarce breed of men who step up as fathers and partners in countless ways.

Thank you for being there since day one when she told you she was pregnant.

Thank you for the numberless trips you made to the store and drive-thru to satisfy her frequent cravings.

Thank you for understanding that her words and feelings during those 9 months were just the hormones talking.

Thank you for being the man behind the camera to help her document your baby’s growth through three trimesters.

Thank you for always telling her how beautiful she looked even after gaining 20 lbs.

Thank you for reassuring her of your relationship even when intimacy between you two became non-existent near the end of the pregnancy.

Thank you for the copious amounts of massages you gave her when she complained about her swollen feet and aching back.

Thank you for your comforting words on the way to the hospital.

Thank you for letting her nearly fracture your hand squeezing it through each contraction.

Thank you for trying to distract her from the pain by saying anything and everything that came to your mind in those moments.

Thank you for being by her side every step of the way as she brought your baby into this world.

Thank you for telling her how strong she was, and that you could definitely never be able to do what she had done.

Thank you for serving her in any way she asked you to during recovery.

Thank you for accepting her anxiety as a new mom and understanding that her feelings are beyond her control.

Thank you for taking that 3am feeding and letting her continue to sleep.

Thank you for volunteering to change that dirty diaper for the third time in a row.

Thank you for putting in overtime at work every week so that she can be a stay at home mom.

Thank you for coming home from a long shift and still helping her with the baby so she could take a hot shower and get some “me time” in.

Thank you for reading that bedtime story even though you were so tired you barely made it to the end.

Thank you for singing and dancing with your child. Such moments are precious and to be cherished.

Thank you for being there for every holiday and starting traditions that will make memories for a lifetime.

Thank you for loving your child’s mother and being the best kind of male role model your child could possibly need in life.

Thank you for being a team player. You are few and far between and we do not take your actions and love for granted. Motherhood would be even more of a challenge without you by our sides.

Thank you Dad.

To My Firstborn Child on the Eve of Your Sister’s Birth

Dear Firstborn Child,

You are 10 months old but have been the center of our world for much longer than that. I’m sure you’ve noticed things changing around the house. You see that I don’t let you play in your playpen anymore, and I put some things on top of it that keep you from being able to get in there. Those things are called a bassinet and changing table. You gazed in wonder as I took boxes out of the closet and unpacked your tiny old clothes before putting them away in a new dresser. You ‘re confused by another car seat next to yours that you know you’re too big for. You’ve heard Daddy and I talk to you about getting a little sister. Well, it’s about that time. You will be an only child for one more day. Before your sister arrives, I wanted to make sure you were aware of a few things.

I want you to know that you made mine and Daddy’s hearts grow bigger than we ever thought possible. You gave us the greatest gift ever of becoming parents. You have brought so much light into our lives and you make us smile and laugh so hard. Watching you grow up has been our favorite thing to do. You changed me and Daddy from a couple to a little family. You have easily been the biggest motivation for us to keep going through the hard times. My precious girl, you are my number one and always will be. These next few months will be a big adjustment for you. I know you’re used to having our full attention, but you will have to learn to share the spotlight. I don’t want you to feel neglected in any way, but your sister is going to need Mommy and Daddy a little bit more. You are going to be bigger and stronger than your sister, and will be able to do a lot more than she will be able to do. Mommy is going to need your help. Please understand when I’m home alone and sister needs something, I’m not ignoring you in any way; I just have to do everything for her. I love you so very much but may not be able to hold you as often. Mommy will need to carry your sister everywhere because she can’t crawl like you can. I hope you will be kind to her and teach her some of the things you know. I hope you will see that she can be your best friend if you let her. You are so beautiful inside and out, my little girl. I know you are going to be a great big sister. Be patient with Mommy and Daddy. We will do our best, but we are still learning so much. Sometimes it may seem like we are upset, but really we are just so tired. Please know that we love you more than anything in the world and our love for you will not change just because you are getting a sister.

Sweet dreams, my sweet girl. Tomorrow you will become a big sister and all of our lives will change.

8 Must Do's the Week Before Delivery

Let’s be real, there are so many blog posts out there with this similar topic, but I figure we all put our own little spin on it. This appealed to me to write about because I am literally living it as we speak. I am 4 days shy of being induced, so it is major crunch time. I could definitely think of at least 30 plus things to be done, but I’m gonna try to keep this as simple as possible and break it down to the MUST DO’s. These are not listed in any special order. No matter when or how, they all must be done. Here we go:

  1. Pay your bills early or set up auto pay. With this being baby number two, I know a little of what to expect when coming home from the hospital. For the next month, at the least, you will be a zombie. The lack of sleep will spark severe forgetfulness. You’ll be lucky if you remember to feed yourself. (Please try to remember, especially if you are breastfeeding.) Every minute of every day will be about your newborn. You do not want to get behind and deal with late fees; or worse, wake up to no electricity.
  2. Go shopping. You should have multiple lists. Grocery. Home necessities. New baby necessities. Hospital bag necessities. If loved ones are offering to supply meals after your return home, let them. Aside from that, you do NOT want to come home to an empty refrigerator and/or pantry. Get easy meals as you will be much too tired to spend time cooking. Make sure you have all of the little things around the house such as laundry detergent, toothpaste and toilet paper. These simple items are easy to forget, but you will find it very difficult to find time and energy to “make a quick run” to the store.
  3. Regardless if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, be sure to sanitize all bottles and accessories. Boiling it all is usually the best way to go. If you feel like going the extra mile, run it through the dishwasher as well. As long as everything is ready for your return home. Baby’s appetites wait for no one.
  4. Whether the baby will have a nursery or an area in the living room next to your favorite recliner, get it set up. Assemble your swing. The baby will spend countless hours napping there. Build your bassinet/pack n play and wash the sheets before placing them inside. If you have a changing table, great. If not, you can obviously change a diaper anywhere, but it’s easier to get you a spot set up where you can have easy access to the millions of diapers you will use daily. These items will also need to be stored at arms length: wipes, diaper rash cream, baby oil, baby lotion, nasal syringe or nosefrida, and one of our favorite items, the fridababy Windi to relieve gas.
  5. Clean your house and vehicle. You don’t want to bring a newborn into a dirty home, nor do you want to try to clean it after coming home. You will have more than enough on your plate. Be sure to wash all baby clothes, bibs, burp cloths and bedding. Baby skin is very sensitive so if you don’t want to splurge on baby detergent, use a free and clear detergent. Some moms go a bit above and beyond when it comes to the liquid they use to wash baby items, and to each their own; but I’ve yet to have any issues using something as simple as all free and clear. The reason you want a clean car, aside from having a newborn in it, is to have space for everything you will bring home from the hospital. Trust me, you will leave with much more than what you came in with.
  6. If this isn’t your first baby, make arrangements for other children in the home. To ensure you don’t have added stress while in the hospital, leave your children with someone you trust to not only care for them, but also to respect your wishes on how you raise them. Pack their bags beforehand to make sure you don’t forget anything. You won’t be able to run home for the blanky they can’t sleep without.
  7. Pack you and your baby’s hospital bags (and car seat). There are many lists online that give you ideas of what to take to the hospital. I followed one of those lists my first time giving birth and super over packed. Referring back to what I actually used out of my packed bag after the hospital provided me with certain items, this is what I will be packing again: travel size toiletries, Always postpartum underwear (because no one likes the mesh underwear and over sized pads they provide), fuzzy socks, house shoes, robe, comfy pajamas, go-home-outfit, phone charger, laptop and charger, camera and charger, and my own pillow and blanket. As for the baby, they provided most everything one could need in the beginning. The only things I will be packing for her are a couple outfits so she doesn’t have to stay in a basic white t-shirt provided by the hospital, a blanket and swaddle, and a couple of hats, mittens and socks. Be sure to install the car seat dock if you have one to make it easy to load up when you’re ready to head home. A car seat cover or sun shades on the windows are recommended so baby has a comfortable ride home.
  8. Last but not least, set your expectations for visiting family and friends. This day is about you, your partner, and your baby. It’s exciting for others to welcome your baby into this world, but it should not cause you any stress. If you choose not to have visitors until you go home, make it known beforehand. If you choose to keep it immediate family only and don’t make public your room number for others who may want to randomly drop by, that’s fine also. Enjoy the birth of your new baby. Your loved ones should respect any decision you make regarding this special day and the ones soon after. Decide who you want/don’t want in the delivery room with you. This is a life-changing moment for you so you want to be as comfortable as possible. Do what you think is best for you and your baby during this intimate moment.

You’re now ready to go! Well, as ready as one can be to bring a new life into the world. My delivery with my first-born, Stellar, was pretty smooth. I pray this one is similar. My best advice to you is to enter the hospital at peace. I prayed beforehand and put my life and my daughters life in God’s hands. I told Him that I trust His will would be done. Through each step from beginning to end, I remained calm knowing that whatever happened was out of my control. It helped me tremendously to think that way. I had heard many birth stories from friends and family, yet I cleared my mind of them. There’s no need to psyche yourself out. Everyone’s experiences are different. I heard horror stories about getting an epidural, yet mine was easy breezy. It was surely uncomfortable, but I sang a hymn in my head and held a pillow as it was administered. Put it all in God’s hands and watch Him work. The peace you will feel is indescribable and you will enjoy meeting your baby so much more with a clear head and heart.

Pre-Parenting Passions Dwindling Away

Before you became a parent, you were passionate about something. You may have even been able to continue enjoying that passion throughout your pregnancy. Eventually though, you found that it moved to the back burner and your new life as a parent took priority.

Long gone are the days when you could book a flight without hesitation and go out of town for a weekend getaway. Now, it takes months of planning and multiple days of packing to make sure you have everything needed for an entire family to travel. You have to make extra room for floaties, goggles and pool toys next to the single bikini you were once able to throw in your luggage.

Remember when you would crave a steak dinner and glass of wine under intimate lighting with your significant other, so you’d pick up the phone and call in a reservation for that evening? Now, unless you are able to get a sitter, you have to settle for a restaurant that has a paper menu folded with crayons attached and booster seats, and pray they seat you at a corner table where your unpredictably loud children won’t disrupt others trying to enjoy a meal.

What about that midnight premier showing for the movie you’ve waited months to see? You would buy the tickets weeks prior to ensure you got your seat! You don’t want to drop the kids off somewhere and go catch the movie. It will be way past their bedtime when you get out and go pick them up; it’s horrible trying to get a child back to sleep after waking them. Instead, you find yourself going to the 11:00am matinee with your kids in tow, shoving a bucket of popcorn in their faces in exchange for promised silence.

Traveling, romantic dinners out, movies; these are common things people love and find themselves doing less of when they have children. For me, it’s my workouts. Running to be exact.

Years ago, I set a goal for myself to run 5 half-marathons before I run a full, and to run a full before my 30th birthday. I was on track *pun intended* and registered for my fifth half-marathon before I found out I was pregnant. This changed EVERYTHING. Yes, I know that some pregnant women are able to still train and even race while pregnant, but I am not one of “those women”. Juggling work full-time and preparing for a baby, I found no time or motivation to train. I would come home from work and dive into the couch letting it engulf my body, never to be seen again until morning. My feet and back always hurt; I can’t imagine how “those women” did it. Race day came and I found myself scrolling on instagram lusting after the medals shown in the race finishers posts. I tried not to be bitter about the fact that my pregnancy kept me from getting something I had worked so hard for. A few months passed, then came another race day. This was the big one. The Chevron Houston Marathon. This was supposed to be my first full marathon. I was proud to see some of my friends accomplish yet another race, but secretly wished we could switch places. I wanted that medal so badly. I felt like a failure. I have given up on many things in my life, but I never gave up on my running. It was hard for me to be okay with where I was at in life.

Here I am now, a mother of a 9 month old daughter and another baby girl on the way. Next Sunday is the annual Chevron Houston Marathon. I still get the emails and see friends checking in at the park to get their last couple of training runs in before race day. This year feels different. I wore my race training shirt the other day, mostly because they run large and are all my 35 week pregnant belly can fit. I didn’t feel sad though. I looked back at the past year and saw my life from a different perspective. No, I didn’t have a medal to hang with the others I’ve earned. I did, however, get to raise my hand in church on Mother’s Day to claim my title as mom and receive a rose. I didn’t hear a “Congratulations, you did it!”, in reaction to crossing a finish line; instead, I heard my daughter mutter her first word, “Mama”. I see now, that I didn’t GIVE UP my passion. I wasn’t MISSING OUT. I was choosing to run a different path. I was discovering a new passion as a mother.

I plan to eventually get back to my running. Possible races will even be in my future. Who knows, maybe my family will become those crazy ones who run 5K’s every holiday. Parenting isn’t easy. Altering your life completely for little lives that you bring into this world is something that needs to be done. I will see these changes from a different angle now, and I hope you can too.

What passions have you found yourself “giving up”?

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. -Psalms 37:4

This afternoon, I was sitting with my mom and Stellar and talking about preparation for Selah’s arrival. I mentioned not wanting to get another play pen, because I don’t want Stellar to be confined to such a small place; but that I would need to use our current playpen for the bassinet and changing table that it comes with. I used it religiously when Stellar was a newborn. I showed my mom some baby play areas online similar to this one and mentioned that we would have to bite the bullet and invest in one soon. They usually run about $60 or so. $60 is a decent amount when you have a newborn coming within a month. The conversation ended and we went about our day.

As many of you know, I sell items online. Not only on our vintage shop, but also on selling apps like offer up, let go, mercari, next door, Facebook marketplace, and others. I hustle as much as I can to make a few extra dollars. After speaking to his wife earlier about a coffee table I was selling, that is not very safe for Stellar now that she’s mobile, a gentleman came to pick it up from the house. He handed me the money for the coffee table as well as a box that his wife gave him with half a pack of left over newborn diapers and a few newborn outfits. She was the sweetest lady and told me she was going to give me these items. Before he left, he told me that his wife threw in one more item to give me but it wasn’t for a newborn. He brought this gate/play area to the front door and I could hardly believe it. Literally hours after the conversation with my mother, God provided.

Moments like these make it easy to keep my faith through hard times. God always provides. Thank you Lord, and thank you to the kind couple for being such a blessing to us tonight.

Smooth sailing into 2020

As many others, I’m starting this new year/decade with a clean slate. Juggling being a mom, partner and individual can be overwhelming at times. This past year I relied on my calendar app for way too much. It helped me somewhat stay organized, but still things slipped through the cracks. Between Joey’s shift work schedule, Stellar’s doctor appointments and my own with the baby coming soon, our days run together and I’m never sure what day of the week it is. We have to figure out how to budget a little better, especially adding another mouth to feed. Joey gave me a gift card for Barnes & Noble for Christmas and I knew immediately what I would spend it on. I picked up this beauty and am all too ecstatic to put it to use. Last night I filled in our first month of the year and it’s a busy one. We are expecting baby Selah at the very end of the month so have little time to get everything together. There is so much to be done, and plans to make for Stellar while we are in the hospital.

All too often do I feel stretched thin between the many things that include being a stay at home mom. I laugh when people assume all I do is sit at home and watch a baby. “She isn’t that much to handle. She sleeps a lot. Etc.” Oh, if only it were that simple. Being a SAHM isn’t JUST watching a baby. Yes, I feed her and play with her, but I’m also trying to teach her words, how to interact and teach her how to walk. Bending over at 33 weeks pregnant to hold your child’s hands and guide her step by step while your back is killing you and you are running out of breath is a challenge in itself. I try to always make sure we have groceries. When’s the last time you took an infant to the grocery store to shop? Yet another challenge. Though there are certain times where I just can’t find the energy to cook, I try to be sure that Joey and I always have breakfast, lunch, and dinner even if they are simple things. My house is not perfect, but I don’t think it is ever really a mess. I do dishes literally every day, and laundry very often. Shout is currently my best friend since Stellar has been eating more baby food and staining bibs and shirts. On top of the mom stuff, y’all are aware that I blog when I’m able. I do the marketing for our vintage Etsy shop and package and ship orders as they are placed. I attempt to keep up with the family finances as Joey brings home the bacon. There is always something to be done and never enough time. I joked with a friend the other day about putting her on the calendar for weekly phone calls to catch up. This is real life now.

I say all of that to show you how imperative this planner is for me. I’m eager to get more organized and see the results of the work I am putting in. Though our lives seem chaotic at times, I’m hoping for a calm in the midst of the storms. With the help of my partner and God guiding our path, I know this year will be smoother than the last. Bring it on 2020!

Let The Countdown Begin

Looking back on the past year, I’m sure that 2019 was life-changing. More than any other year, this one brought out a new me that I didn’t know existed. Here’s a semi-brief overview of my year month by month.

January: Due to our anniversary falling on New Years Day, my boyfriend and I brought in 2019 at a casino in Louisiana. We gambled the day away, and attempted to enjoy a good nights rest at the casino hotel. I say attempted because every mother knows that a good nights rest at 7 months pregnant is nearly unattainable. We soaked up every minute of freedom knowing the casino trip would be our last major outing before baby Stellar arrived.

February: This month flew by as we prepared for Stellar’s baby shower. With the help of family and friends, everything came out beautifully! We had a unicorn theme so it was extremely colorful. I was very blessed to get most everything that was needed for a newborn. I felt an overwhelming amount of love and support from those around me and am super appreciative of all who came to celebrate with us.

March: The month our baby girl was born. Words cannot express how breathtakingly exhausting and emotional this month was. I was diagnosed with cholestasis of pregnancy at 7 months. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a miserable liver disorder that causes intense itching all over the body, but focuses on the feet and hands at night. I had football size bruises on my legs from scratching without satisfaction. Cholestasis only happens to 7% of pregnant women; of course I was one of the lucky few. Because of this diagnosis, the doctor recommended Stellar be born at 37 1/2 weeks. By the grace (Stellar’s middle name) of God, Stellar was born on March 25th as a beautiful 6lb 8oz baby girl.

April / May: To be honest, these two months were a complete blur full of doctors appointments, insomnia, anxiety, attempted breastfeeding, delivery recovery, depression, and a few episodes of Game of Thrones when we were able to keep our eyes open. Somehow, in the midst of the newborn tornado that hit us harder than expected, we also managed to pack up out two-bedroom apartment and get ready for a move.

June: Thank goodness for friends and family. June 1st we moved into our new home. This is the first house we have rented as a family. Joey and I looked at the cozy little building standing before us with the white picket fence and swing out front, and pictured our daughter taking her first steps in this home. Moving is always a huge work load; having a newborn made unpacking that much more difficult. It took us nearly three months before unpacking most of the rooms.

July: We got an expected surprise this month. We were in shock to find out that I was pregnant again! Holy schmoley! I honestly didn’t know how to feel. I was stressed and battling postpartum depression. I wasn’t sure we could handle another baby. God had a plan for us though. Just like my mother had my sister and me, and my sister had her two sons; my daughters were going to be 11 months apart. Ready or not!

August: It took several months, but with God’s help and the help of my loving boyfriend, I was able to get my anxiety and depression under control enough to start enjoying my daughter and my life again. My birthday is in August. We decided to take a trip back to Louisiana where our year had started. We visited family and Joey and I stayed at the casino hotel leaving Stellar overnight for the first time. I was a wreck at first; it seemed as if I would be unable to enjoy our time childless. Eventually, I calmed down and decided to embrace the much needed time together. We had a great time and walked away from the casino with a little bit of money.

September: This month I watched in awe as Stellar Grace gained so much more of her personality. She started eating baby food, sitting up on her own, and bounced in her jumper like she was trying to reach the stars. Her bald head was finally growing hair and her first tooth started coming in! We also decided on a name for baby #2 this month. We will soon welcome Selah Hope Garza to the family!

October: Our first Halloween as a family. Like any new mom, I was completely indecisive when it came to halloween costumes. Joey was working Halloween night, but I really wanted us to enjoy some festivities together. We were able to attend a halloween/fall event near our house and all dressed up in Dinosaur onesies. Stellar’s cousins joined us and we had a memorable time. Halloween night, Stellar was an adorably scrumptious little cupcake. I carried her around a nearby neighborhood along with her candy bag and my continuously growing belly. This pregnant mommy was more than eager to sink into the couch with her candy bag at the end of the night.

November: For those of you who don’t know, my little family owns and manages a vintage online shop called BuyerStellar. Feel free to check out our Facebook, IG, Etsy, or website all under the name BuyerStellar. This month, I dove into marketing for our shop. We have had a decent first year and have learned so much. I am excited to watch it continue to grow and help our family financially. This month we enjoyed Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. We engulfed multiple plates of food and desserts and still there was more to take home. I know how blessed we are, but it was nice to sit and truly be grateful and thank God for all that He has given us.

December: We made it! This year was a roller coaster of emotions. I grew so much as a person, mother, partner, and writer. Writing has always been a passion of mine; I made up my mind to finally give blogging a chance. This month I put my heart into my passion and am working continuously on my brand. I don’t know where blogging will take me. Perhaps, it will simply be an outlet. Regardless, I am all in and eager to learn and grow as a writer. This Christmas was one for the books. We went out of town for a few days and spent some quality time with Joey’s side of the family. Though we all ended up sick during Christmas week, nothing could kill our joy. We came home Christmas Eve night to celebrate with my family and spent Christmas Day with more family. This holiday season, and always, we are surrounded by so much love.

Here we are, December 31st, less than two hours away from the new year countdown. This year will always be remembered for the many firsts I experienced. I am more than happy to welcome 2020 and soon after, our new baby girl. Happy New Year all! May this one be your best yet.

“They all worshipped, for the son of God was born.”

Let us not forget the reason for this season. Stellar has multiple Christmas books telling the story of Jesus’ birth. I want her to enjoy the fun traditions of Christmas as other children do; Santa, snowmen, Christmas trees, joyful songs, gifts, and special time with family. Most importantly, she will know the greatest gift that we could ever be given.

Luke 2:11
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

And there it was clear as day…her first word

A week shy of nine months old. Where did the time go? I have been a stay at home mom since day one. I’ve shared every special moment with my daughter. Less than a year old and already countless memories have been made. It hasn’t always been easy; especially getting pregnant again when Stellar was but six weeks old. However, I have been truly blessed to gaze into her eyes as she showed us her first smile, hear her heart-melting first giggle, spoon feed her first baby foods, hover over her crib with anxiety as she slept in her own room for the first time. I stared in awe as she sat up on her own and crawled an inch or two before learning to take off. I excitedly recorded her in her jumper bouncing like crazy and the walker as she struggled to move any direction besides backwards. These have been some of the greatest moments of my life.

Like every story, bad comes with the good. I have stayed awake for what felt like days just watching her sleep; in fear that if I closed my eyes, she would stop breathing. I have struggled with the challenges of breastfeeding, finding my body to be my worst enemy at times. Her first diaper blowout was one for the books, and spit-up spotted shirts became my every day wardrobe. I held her hand as she looked up at me with betrayal in her eyes as she got her first shots, then held her when she screamed in shock and pain afterwards. We have cried together as she endured a cold bath trying to fight off a high fever. For all that I have done for her, she has equally done so much for me.

Stellar has been the biggest light in my life. When my mind and body felt at its weakest, her smile gave me strength. Though she is, at times, the source of my stress and exhaustion; she is also my peace and happiness. My daughter is my absolute world and has given my life purpose. For this, I believe she rewarded me with her first word, “Mama”.

*Though all of this is true, I would also like to say that Stellar’s father, Joey, was present for most of these moments as well. We have been very blessed to be able to share such beautiful times together as a family.

Christmas Then and Now

Growing up, Christmas was a big deal in our home. Not meaning it was all about presents; but instead church, Christmas hymns, traditions and making memories with family. Every year during the week of Thanksgiving, we would go out together and find the perfect Christmas tree for the house. We’d decorate it, as well as the rest of our home; most years it would be done in time to admire while eating Thanksgiving dinner. Like most Hispanic families, we celebrated on Christmas Eve. My Tia Nena’s house was the go to place for the 24th. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents; the entire extended family would meet there. It was something we looked forward to all year. We have a large family, so it was great to see everyone under one roof. After dinner and festivities, we would head home and open our presents. Christmas Day was a day to spend time as a family while enjoying our new toys. I have always loved Christmas. The smells, the decorations, the traditions, the music; it brings me so much joy.

Change is something that has always been difficult for me. I have my own family now and wanted to continue tradition. Last year, pregnant with our first child, we went out and picked the perfect tree. The aroma of pine filled our apartment as we decorated the small 2 bedroom. Christmas Eve we gathered at my sisters house and watched the children open presents like I had been doing for years since my siblings had their own children.

This year, however, things are a little different. I have a daughter now and this is her first Christmas. I am pregnant with daughter number two and a stay at home mom. Due to their father being the only source of income, we have struggled a bit and have made sacrifices where necessary. One sacrifice was a real tree. My boyfriend was more than willing to keep the tradition alive and do something that he knows makes me so happy. He has been working so much overtime to allow me to be a stay at home mom and prepare for our next child. The least I could do was budge a little on one thing that would save us money during the holidays. I decided to surprise him and buy a used artificial tree from someone online. I only paid $10 for it, and we already had ornaments from last year that we could use. I was disappointed at first, but told myself that this was necessary. You see, tradition is great and all, but there’s more to Christmas than that. My daughter will not remember having a fake tree. We will remember though. We will look back and remember our first artificial tree in our first house for our first daughter’s first Christmas. We will remember the memories we made decorating the tree together. We will remember having a mantel over the fireplace to decorate and hang our stockings. We will remember having multiple Christmases due to our growing family. This is the good part of change.

I’m excited for Stellar’s first Christmas. I’m excited to go out of town with her fathers family. I’m excited for Christmas Eve at my sisters where I’ll get to see my own child open gifts amongst her cousins. I’m excited for Christmas Day with Stellar’s Nana. This year will be one to remember.

By the way, our tree looks great. I bought some icicles that I remember always having on our tree as a child. May have gone a little overboard with them.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and make memories to last a lifetime with loved ones.