Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Open Letter To My Daughters About Sisterhood

Dear Girls,

You are sisters. All each individual and unique. Being so close in age, you often get lumped together as "girls", but what I want you to know is that even if you are all girls, all sisters; you are still each "you".

It's sometimes hard as a mom to make sure I give each of you individual attention when you need it. It's hard to divide my time between you, and while there are times I succeed, there are many times that I fail.

Image Via Holly D. Photography

It is in those moments while I am nursing one of you, placing a band aid on another, that I turn and find two of you snuggled together, giggling at each other, or even at times fighting.

Lately, the fighting has been getting to be more than I like. I get frustrated and mad. I so badly want you to enjoy and love one another. To understand that being a part of a sisterhood is a rare gift. But only each one of you individually can make that decision whether or not to accept the gift of sisterhood. As badly as I want you to have it, you have to choose it for yourselves.

That gift was one that I got to experience, but it wasn't until I was older that I truly understood how precious it was. To have someone to share everything with, who makes you cry, but will cry with you. Who you go to for advice. Who loves you. Who is a best friend.

It is a rare gift and today as a mom, and as a sister, I would tell you; don't throw it away. Don't throw away the gift of sisterhood.

Don't throw it away because of jealously, because of anger, or because of hurt.

Instead accept that gift and hold it close to your heart. For as my mom always told me, "One day your dad and I won't be here, and you will only have each other". I hated that advice as a child, but as an adult, I'm realizing how true those words are. Words that I wish I would have listened to sooner.

Image Via Holly D. Photography

So now my precious girls, I can pass this wisdom on to you. Love each other, giggle, play together, whisper secrets into one another's ears, cry together, laugh, celebrate life, dance, and run together.

Enjoy this precious gift called sisterhood that your dad and I have given you. For it is rare and beautiful.

With all my love,


Monday, July 16, 2012

A Letter Of Love To My Body

Dear Body,

I never once struggled with you, not until after childbirth. But I also never gloried in you. I was insecure, covered you up, was worried I was "too fat", didn't have big enough boobs, tiny enough hips, and the list could go on.

I look back at those high school pictures of me and realize how untrue that was. I was thin, I had beautiful hips that would later aid in birthing my babies, my thighs were small. I look back now and regret not rejoicing in the body God gave me, regret not wearing more bikinis, regret not thinking I was a perfect size.

I am learning to learn from my mistakes. I promised myself that I would not have regrets and insecurities now. After giving birth to two beautiful girls, gaining extra weight in 9 months times two, breastfeeding for 5+ years straight, opening my arms to the beauty of adoption. I promised I wouldn't go through my 20's hating you, only to look back in my 30's wishing I had not.

Image Via: The Blue Porch

So here I am today, 28 year old body and all. Sometimes still wishing I had that 18 year old body. But mostly, learning to love what you have done. But also learning how to take care of it now. I work you hard with either daily walks or exercise. I revel in the feel of my legs getting stronger, my tummy getting more taut. I am determined that by 30, I will once again wear that bikini and wear it proudly. Sure I may have a few silvery marks around my belly button and on my upper thighs, but I will be beautiful.

Just as I am beautiful now. My breasts providing nourishment and comfort, my soft tummy providing a resting place for girls who long to know they are loved. My arms wrapped perfectly around my husband as my mess of curly hair tumbles down on my shoulders. Oh body, you fit so perfectly with his! And in my deep, dark, brown eyes, you can see a window to my heart. A heart that loves deeply, hurts easily, and longs to be loved in return.

Dear body, I think, after all these years, I'm finally learning to love you.

I'm linking up with SheLoves Magazine to celebrate our bodies just as they are. Feel free to write your own love letter to your body.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Journey Into Gluten Free Living

Image Via: As for my house blog

Almost five months ago, we started as a family a journey into Gluten Free living. I never in a million years thought I would go gluten free. I love, and I mean love, bread. It was my go-to food whenever I was hungry or craving something. But something happened over the winter, that made want to change my lifestyle. I have said it numerous times that while nursing, I hold onto an extra 10-15 pounds. Even with exercising, eating enough calories, eating the "right" kind of calories, etc. I just cannot lose those pounds. I've learned to be ok with that. I don't love it, but I do love nursing my girls and so I am ok with it. This winter however, I randomly put on ten-fifteen extra pounds. I was not happy. I watched what I ate, I exercised, I did what I could, yet I gained that weight. Because I want to be healthy for my family, and for myself, I knew that I had to see someone about it. There was one person who I was hesitant to see because even though I love doctoring naturally, I had heard that she really encourages her patients to go gluten free. I could not see myself ever going gluten free. So I avoided going to her. Yet, while I avoided her, my weight still didn't change. I finally had enough, and decided to go see her. Within minutes of being in her office, I felt my fears release. She actually let me talk, ask questions, encourage different things in me. She explained why she wanted me gluten free and told me I could do it. So that day, I went home, and totally changed my lifestyle pretty much overnight. Not only did I change mine, but I also decided that if I was doing this, I had to change our entire family. So we did.

I thought it would be nice for you to see a list of the changes I have noticed since going gluten free. So here they are:

*My allergies have disappeared. I used to have multiple sinus infections every spring, I would have to take sudafed/advil to combat the sinus pressure. Since going gluten free, I have only had to do that twice.
*My overall body swelling has gone down. Since having kids, my legs always looked puffy to me and of course, my tummy was a bit bigger. This is no longer the case with being gluten free.
*I lost 10 pounds.
*The dark circles under my eyes, and under Meridian's disappeared.
*I actually had energy during the day.
*My dry skin went almost 100% away.
*Zoelle is much calmer and when she is gluten free, her attitude is a thousand times better.
*My cramps during my period have almost gone away completely. I have always had terrible cramps that left me crying, begging for Midol, and doing nothing for the first two days of my period. Now, I may have a dull ache, but otherwise, I have next to no pain.
*My period is much, much shorter and lighter. I know maybe this is TMI, but I wanted to be honest in all aspects of this journey, and this is a huge one for most women!
*My eczema on my hands is much improved.
*Meridian's rash on her butt is completely gone.
*My red, bumpy, upper arms have disappeared! I hated, I mean hated my upper arms for as long as I can remember because they were always itchy, bumpy, and red. Wearing a strapless, or sleeveless dress was never an option before now.

For the most part, I have truly gone gluten free. I really try and limit gluten in my girls as they sleep worse and have much different attitudes when they have even a little bit of gluten. We are not perfect, and there have been many times, especially when eating out with friends, that I have broken my gluten free diet. However, when I do, I almost always regret it. Here is why.

*I now get a terrible headache at the slightest amount of gluten in my body.
*I break out in a rash caused from the gluten. Typically it appears on my chest.
*As mentioned above, the girls don't sleep as well, and are much more hyper/wild when they eat gluten.
*The dark circles come back under all of our eyes.
*My eczema comes back in full force and I itch like crazy!
* I am very, very tired and have low energy.
*Meridian breaks out in a rash again on her butt.

To be honest, the headaches alone make me not want to go back to gluten, ever! They hurt, a lot! While I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't lose more weight while being gluten free, I also realize that all the other health benefits totally make it worth it for me. Oh and the girl who used to love bread, now has no cravings for it and the few times I have had it, it kind of tastes blah to me.

I plan on blogging a bit more on what a typical gluten free day looks like for us as far as meals and snacks go. But I also want to mention that I am not a doctor, and these are just my own opinions and what I have noticed in our lives. I can't guarantee the same would happen in your life if you were having the same symptoms. I would however, encourage you to try for two weeks and just see if you notice a difference in your life. You never know, you may never go back again and have no regrets about that!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Xiomara

Dear Xiomara,

Today you turn 2. Unbelievable! As we drove home last tonight from your cousin India's birthday party, I started to cry. Not just the little cries, but instead huge, wet tears, streaming down my face. I turned to daddy and told him, "I don't want her to turn 2, she is my baby". Yet, no matter how much I want my own way, the clock does not stop, and early this morning you officially became a toddler.

When we were awaiting your arrival, we prayed that you would be a little girl who brought us so much joy. You exude joy! We rarely ever see you not smile. Instead, your entire face lights up into a smile all day long. You don't really cry. Instead, you do a fake little cry to make us all laugh.

About a month ago, daddy thought that you were a little crabbier then normal. I had noticed it too, but you never cried, just showed a bit more attitude. Then a few days later, I noticed your mouth open and looked inside to find your two year molars! Not all of them, just the bottom two, and I never knew you were getting them!

Despite all your happiness, you do have this little stubborn side of you. I keep saying that you are definitely 2 now, and it shows! For example, when I try to take a picture of you, you ignore me and refuse to either look at the camera, or smile. When everyone talks to you, you decide you aren't going to talk to them, or even look at them. Instead, you look past them with a straight face. You little stinker you!

You make us laugh a lot. I mean how could we not laugh with you and your cute little giggles? You are extremely athletic and run very quickly. You give the best, most squishiest kisses ever! You count to three and sometimes even try and tell me you are three. You know most of your colors and I'm guessing that is in thanks to your big sisters. When I ask you what your favorite color is, you almost always tell me yellow. However, every once and awhile you tell me pink. Just another reminder of how much you are no longer my baby.

Even though you are growing up, you are not ready yet to be done with your "side" or "nurse". I cherish the fact that even though I didn't give birth to you, I am able to nurse you as long as I have. You also still call for "baci" many times a day. We try and limit it to car rides, naps, and bedtime, but sometimes you, or your sisters sneak and find one. You love your sisters and you squeal with joy each day when you see them.

Even though you are now 2, please give your mama more sweet nights like last night when I was able to rock you and snuggle you to sleep. I pray that this next year, you continue to bring us such a joy, and spread that to those all around you.

I love you! Happy Birthday, sunshine!



Monday, July 2, 2012

Udi's Gluten Free Granola {Review}

About four months ago, our entire family went through a change that was relatively easy. The change? Going gluten free. I have my reasons, and I also plan on sharing them in a more detailed post about why we went gluten free and any changes we have noticed. But for now, I'll hold off and just share our experience with Udi's Gluten Free Granola.

I forgot to take a picture before we started eating it, so a little (or a lot) is eaten out of each bag! :)

We received 4 different type of Udi's Granola: Cranberry, Vanilla, Original, and Au Naturel. Because I am allergic to all things nuts, I had to avoid everything but the Au Naturel Granola. My kids and my husband however, got to taste all 4. According to them, and according to me, Udi's is not lying when they say, "Making gluten free delicious".

I was a bit hesitant that the taste of something called "Au Naturel" could even be good, but I was so surprised at the yummy flavor. I love granola! I eat it as a snack, put it in my yogurt, use it in smoothies. Not only do I love it, but so do my girls. They were thrilled to be able to have this snack that tasted good. I was thrilled to have the option to feed them something healthy, and something that still fit our new lifestyle of being gluten free!

If you are looking for a healthy snack option, or even just looking at buying granola, I would highly suggest Udi's! Even if you aren't eating gluten free, I don't think you will be disappointed!

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided for me by the company. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.