Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Resolutions

         

          As a teenager, I used to keep journals and diaries and, every year, I would write down a long list or resolutions. Each year, at the beginning of the year, I had a long list of stuff I wanted to accomplish. But, at the end of the year, I hadn't accomplished much or even any of it and would end up re-writing the resolutions again for the next year. I wish I had some of those old journals and diaries to look at now. All I remember is that the resolutions were often vague and even foolish and many times they were beyond my control. Most of the time, I made resolutions because it was what everyone did at the start of a new year but did not do much at all to achieve them throughout the year, sometimes I did nothing at all because some of my resolutions were more like wishes than goals. After a while, I got tired of writing lists of stuff it seemed I would never accomplish. I got discouraged and moved on.


          As an adult, I haven't been much for making resolutions. Instead, when I want to accomplish something, I work on that. Sometimes. And sometimes I just make lists in my head and never get stuff done. So, this year, I have decided to try something new. I have decided on several general areas that I would like to improve on this year but will not make specific resolutions. I am not yet sure what working towards improvement in each area will look like. I plan to take it day by day, trying things, evaluating, and changing what doesn't work.

Relationship with God:

            My first area of focus this year is my relationship with God/ knowledge of Scripture. I have started by making daily prayer a priority in my life again. I had gotten too busy with the house and the kids and kind of let that go. I am now making sure to pray every day and have started to feel "off" on the days when I haven't made prayer a priority. Not only do I set aside some time to be alone with God but I am also in constant communion with god, praying while cleaning, nursing, etc. Prayer is so important as it keeps us connected to God and it is through prayer that we can seek His guidance in everything we do. I feel so much better when I am living in communion with my God. I am now also doing a Bible study on the book of Esther with a group of friends and plan to do some daily Bible reading on my own as well. It is very important to me to set a good example for my children. We have started saying bedtime prayers together every night (more for Daniel's sake than Joshua's) and have been reading one story each in their English and Spanish children's Bibles as well. Life is busy around here and I am far from perfect so this may not work out perfectly but this is where I am and what I am working on right now.

Marriage:

          Another area of focus for me is my marriage. Having two very young children can put strain on any marriage. I breastfeed and we co-sleep and are trying to practice positive discipline/ grace based parenting so time is a rare commodity around here. Especially time alone to recharge and time to spend together as a couple. We have our fair share of struggles and I know that I need to improve in many areas just as my husband does too. I have started by reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian and praying a chapter a day for the month of January. I believe that, even though we must recognize our faults and want to change in order to do so, prayer is still of utmost importance. God can transform a dead marriage into a loving one, I have seen His power myself, and He can open your husband's eyes to the faults he needs to work on.

         But I haven't just been praying for my husband, but also for myself. I need to change just as much, if not more than he does. I am working on being more patient, understanding, and gentle with him. I also working on better communication on my part and hoping he does the same on his part. I am trying to learn how to support my husband and give him the respect he needs. It is hard because I am so exhausted when he gets home and just want him to handle the kids and give me a break, but I am trying. I am also trying to help us make time for us, to be friends again like when we first met. I would like us to have fun together once again, even if all we do is talk after the boys go to sleep (but right now that is so late that he usually falls asleep before I even lay down and I pass out immediately after).

Mothering:

          Then, of course, I'd like to focus on my mothering. This is an area that necessitates A LOT of my attention at the moment. My children are still very young and I am just learning how to be a mom and how to be a gentle mother at that. It is really difficult. I am not the most patient person. Some people say I'm pretty patient but I don't feel that I am. It is hard spending long days alone with two kids under 3, constantly needing my attention, nursing both on demand (which ends up being a HUGE part of my day), hardly having time for myself and having no adult interaction on days we stay at home. Gentle/positive/ grace based discipline takes a lot of dedication also. This is not the way I was parented so it is all new to me. I have to try to read books, articles, blogs, etc (as if I'm not already short on time!) and I have to be willing to ask questions and even to bare my faults and imperfections to others in order to improve. It is hard to move away from yelling, spanking, etc when that is all you know, but I am willing to do the hard work to become a better mom to my children, they deserve it!

          I am trying to journal regularly and hopefully process some things in my past so that I can change my tendency to react negatively. I also have a few books that I would like to make time to read. Some I may read and discuss with my group of friends once we are done our Esther, and then Ruth Bible studies. As for now, I began with taking one step from Little Hearts/ Gentle Parenting Resources' 12 Steps to Gentle Parenting each month this year. This is a great read for anyone new to gentle discipline. January's step is to slow down. Being in a rush to get ready and get out of the house to time sensitive activities early in the morning with two boys who go to bed late is stressful. I find that we have better days and all remain calmer when we are not in a rush and can relax a little so I decided to cut back some on Daniel's classes at our local resource center. The choice of which classes to cut out was made easy by the fact that Daniel doesn't like one of the teachers and acts up around her. So we are down to one class a week, plus my Bible study that starts tomorrow and I will leave the other days open for now, experiment with different types of play dates/ outings,  and see how it goes.

         Of course, I am also praying for my mothering and my relationship with my children. Ultimately, I would love to have more patience, be more gentle in my responses, and be more present with my children. I am struggling to find the balance between keeping more of an online presence on this blog and the Facebook page and spending unplugged time with my children, playing, reading, and just really being with them, but I will be taking it a day at a time.

My Past/ Gratitude:

          And, this year, I will also focus on processing, working through and letting go of past hurts and traumas that are affecting my present and I am working on forgiveness. The only way to change some of the dynamics in my present relationships is to get over the things in my past that are holding me back. I am starting with prayer and journaling and will see where that leads. I am also working on cultivating an attitude of joy and gratitude. I try to think of  and thank God for something I am thankful for each day, even if it is something small. I will be starting a thankfulness jar this year. i will write down good things as they happen and place them in a nicely decorated mason jar and then I will go back and read them on New Year's Eve. I am slacking on this one, I have thought of the good things in my head but have not written anything down or even decorated the jar!

Personal Goals:

          I also have many other, personal areas of focus I need to work on. There is my online Montessori class that I need to catch up on and, hopefully, stay caught up. I also need to work on implementing Montessori activities at home with Daniel a little more regularly (which should be easier if we are home more). Plus, I would like to focus a little more of my time to this blog and its growth. But these are areas that I will work on slowly and when possible. My main focus this year will be on my relationships with God, my husband, and my children.

          Life is messy, I may take one step forward and two steps back, but that is okay. I am not looking to merely check things off of a list, I am working towards lasting growth. I will count any progress as a success and work on showing myself, my husband, and my children grace along the journey. I don't know what that journey will look like, but one thing I do know is that none of us will be magically transformed overnight. It may take months, or even years, to get to where we want to be and that is totally okay since my goal is just to see improvement in my areas of focus, not total perfection. As long as our relationships are improving, progress is being made, and grace is in place, at the end of the year, I can say that we have accomplished our goal!






Thursday, January 10, 2013

Liebster Blog Award Nomination


          I am very excited to announce that I have received the honor of being nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by Ara at Mom From Lucban. Thank you very much for the nomination, Ara.    So, you all may be wondering what exactly a Liebster Award is. Liebster is a German word that means favorite, dearest, or beloved. The award originated with a German blogger and is given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers as a way to bring more attention, traffic, and followers to their blogs. Now that I've been nominated, I have to answer 11 questions from Mom From Lucban, list 11 things about me, nominate 11 other bloggers, and list 11 questions for them to answer.


Questions from Mom From Lucban:

1.What’s your favorite book?

          I absolutely LOVE books! I can't say that I have a particular favorite though. When I was a little girl, my favorite was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but then I discovered The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls, Wilder, The Secret Garden, Great Expectations, and Les Miserabl├ęs. In middle school, I remember crying when reading the heartbreaking No Greater Love by Danielle Steele. As an adult, I have fallen completely in love with all of Nicholas Sparks' books as well as the Left Behind Series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye but I have also recently discovered Ted Dekker and Jodi Picoult. Basically, I just love books!

2. Favorite TV show?

          I honestly hardly ever watch TV anymore. In fact, we don't have cable and our TV wasn't even plugged in for months after we moved in to our current apartment. I watched a lot more TV in the past but even then, I always preferred to read. I used to watch Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Ghost Whisperer, and Gilmore Girls regularly in the last few years before I had kids.

3. Your dream vacation spot?
 
          I would LOVE to visit Venice, Italy one day but I would also like to visit Brazil.

 4.Your favorite gadget? Why?

          My favorite gadget is my new Nook Color. I have all of my classwork for my online Montessori class downloaded on it, can also read books and can go online and keep my Facebook page updated on it. The best part is it's handheld so I can use it while nursing my boys to sleep, which has made a HUGE difference in my being able to keep up with my class!

 5.What’s the one thing you can’t leave home without?

         My kids! Just kidding, they are not things but I rarely ever go out without them. I can't leave the house without my keys (can't start the car or get back in the house) or my phone (I am out with two babies and need the phone to call for help in case anything were ever to happen to us).

 6.Who’s the one person you truly admire? Why?

         The one person I truly admire is Jesus. He lived a blameless life and died on the cross to pay for all of our sins, who else would do something like that?

 7.When did you decide to start blogging?

          I decided to start blogging when Daniel was about 5 months old. I found myself reading and researching a lot during my pregnancy and the early months postpartum and, one day, it suddenly occurred to me that other people were probably researching the same topics as me. I then decided that I would write about my findings and try to create a site where parents could come for all sorts of information and so this blog began.

 8.What’s your philosophy in life?

         Always put God first, then family, then everything and everyone else.

 9.When was the last time you cried? Why?

          The last time I cried was a few days ago, on New Year's Eve, as I read this story: http://lovelightlaughterandchocolate.blogspot.com/2012/12/be-with-me-just-for-today.html, which I will be blogging about soon. Please, please, please anchor all your furniture to the wall to keep your children safe!

 10.Your happiest moment?

          I honestly can not pick a specific moment in my life that was the happiest. I was pretty happy on my wedding day, the day I graduated from college, and after the births of each of my babies but there have also been so many moments since that have filled me with joy.

 11.One achievement you’re most proud of?
       
          Not giving up on breastfeeding! Despite a rough start both times, little support at first, and many bumps along the way, I have now been breastfeeding for a total of 25 (almost 26) months and tandem nursing for almost 7! It's been tough but it's SO worth it!


11 Things About Me:
1. I have been married for 5 years.

2.  I have two boys under the age of 3.

3. I am a Christian.

4. I was born in the Dominican Republic.

5. I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology.

6. I would like to one day be an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

7. Growing up, we moved around a lot and I attended two elementary schools, two middle schools,  and two high schools.

8. I moved to Queens, New York when I was two, New Jersey when I was 16 and then Florida, where I now live, when I was 19.

9. I am completely fluent in Spanish.

10. I love chocolate.

11. I'm basically a nerd (not the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings kind) and may even be considered boring.


My Nominees:

1. Natural and Nourished Family

2. Squiggles & Wiggles

3. Lindsay Leigh Bentley

4. New Wave Feminists

5. The Water Archives

6. Life As We Know It

7. "Mommy Buddy" from the Planet Autism

8. The Helpful Garden

9. Paa.la

10. Hope Wears Heels

11. Naturally Free RD


My 11 Questions for Them:

1. When did you decide to start blogging and why?

2. What is your philosophy in life?

3. What is the one achievement you're most proud of?

4. Who is the person you most admire and why?

5. What is something new that you have learned recently?

6. What is your favorite movie?

7. What is the best book that you have read recently?

8. What is your favorite season of the year and why?

9. What is your dream vacation spot?

10. What is at the top of your bucket list?

11. What is a pet peeve of yours?


          Alright nominees, it is now your turn to answer these 11 questions, tell us 11 things about yourselves, nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers, and ask them 11 questions. Don't forget to let them know that you've nominated them. Congratulations on becoming a Liebster Blog!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

          Now that 2012 has come to an end and 2013 is newly beginning, I'd like to reflect on the many blessings, challenges, and lessons 2012 brought my way and what I am looking forward to in 2013. 2012 was a year of many challenges but also of many blessings. I started off the year with great sorrow and pain over losing one of my best friends. I still can not believe he is gone. However, just 3 months later, I was filled with great joy as I was blessed with the birth of my second beautiful baby boy, Joshua (whose middle name, Ezequiel, is the same as my friend's). I struggled with crazy contractions and false labor alarms towards the end of the pregnancy but ended up having another perfectly beautiful natural birth. Once again, I had breastfeeding challenges but nowhere near as much as I did with Daniel. I had much more support this time around, as well as more knowledge and personal experience and, in no time, Joshua and I developed a strong bond and a beautiful nursing relationship.

          Daniel was able to be present for Joshua's birth and, although there have been many struggles for him as well, it has been great to watch him evolve into such a great big brother. He had his own nursing struggles at first but I am proud to say that I have been tandem nursing the boys for a little over 6 months now. They have developed a beautiful bond. They each have trouble falling asleep without the other and now enjoy playing together. They really love each other and Daniel loves to share things with his brother and teach him how to do things. He does get jealous at times, of course, and we have had our share of struggles with not wanting to share, insisting on being in a high chair at times and other similar situations, but, overall, he is a great big brother and has adjusted beautifully.

          I struggled greatly with transitioning from being a mother of one to a mother of two babies under two at first, and still have many challenges, but I have grown and learned a lot this year. While I couldn't even imagine getting us all ready and heading out at first, I now regularly go out alone with the boys. We have developed our own rhythm although most of my time is spent multi-tasking in order to get anything done. Being that they are both so young and still nursing, I still struggle a lot with needing "me time" and becoming overwhelmed but, for the most part, we are doing okay. This year has also challenged me greatly when it comes to discipline as I watched Daniel go from a baby into a full blown toddler and encountered all of the challenges that naturally come along with this stage in life. I am learning to be a gentle parent every day and feel that I have made some progress but still have a long way to go. 

          It has been wonderful to watch my boys grow. Daniel started out the year as an infant and is  now the epitome of a toddler. he speaks in long, complete sentences and used complex words. he absorbs language like a sponge and can speak and understand both English and Spanish. he memorizes lines from books and we are now reading chapter books at his request. He can now effortlessly climb up all our furniture and was fully potty trained before his second birthday! He is just such a smart and sweet little person now. As for Joshua, I feel like time has gone by so fast! He went from being a quiet little newborn to being a super busy 8 month old. He is now crawling all over the place, pulling himself up on furniture, and imitating all kinds of sounds and actions. He has two little teeth and is enjoying eating all kinds of food. He really loves playing with Daniel and I believe he thinks Daniel is the funniest person on Earth. He has blossomed so quickly into a sweet, smart and persistent little person. I can't believe that, in less than 4 months, he will be one! Where has all the time gone? I am so thankful for each and every moment that I have spent with my two beautiful boys. I am so blessed to be their mother and to be entrusted with the best job ever, teaching them and guiding them as they become amazing little people!

          We had many difficult financial times this year but have also received much support and received many blessings. We moved into a bigger and much nicer apartment and were blessed with a second car. My husband opened his own water treatment company, United Environmental Solutions, which has steadily been growing. This, of course, means that he hasn't had much free time. This year has also brought new challenges to our marriage. We hardly have time for each other and we definitely don't have much time left for breaks. It has been a challenge but we are still going strong, holding onto the hope that our children will be older and need us less one day and the business will not demand as much of his time once certain things are in place. We have gained tons of knowledge of Scripture this year and a lot has changed in our lives because of it but still have not found a home church. We also made some changes to our eating habits this year, eliminating soda, reducing processed foods and adding whole (organic when possible) foods. I have lost a ton of weight this year and I am way below my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, i haven't weighed this much (or this little?) in at least 4 or 5 years! 

         Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, my breastfeeding project has not yet been completed. I also did not become certified as a breastfeeding counselor or childbirth educator this year. Both the Bradley training I wanted to attend and a Certified Lactation Counselor training that I would've had the opportunity to attend for free happened to to fall just a week after Joshua was born. I have not lost hope though. I am certain that the right opportunities will come for me at the right times and I will one day be certified. For now, I will continue to educate others through my blog and Facebook page and will continue to help any pregnant and breastfeeding moms that come my way. Thanks to my mother in law, I am now taking an online Montessori training and am preparing to home school the boys for pre-school. We are in the process of setting up our classroom and obtaining Montessori materials and I am very much looking forward both to learning from my class and to teaching the boys.

          Although I haven't always had time to post on this blog, it has grown significantly this past year. Thank you very much to all of you who have been faithful and patient with me, have followed my blog and liked my Facebook page, and stuck with me even during the times when I have been too busy to post. I hope to have much more time to write this year and to see this blog grow exponentially. I plan to include my spiritual beliefs in my posts a little more this year and also plan to write about our whole foods journey, some recipes, and our homeschooling journey as well as expanding on my current natural parenting topics. I also plan to bring you more review, giveaways and other fun stuff this year so please stay tuned to this blog and my Facebook page!

          I am very thankful for the many blessings listed above as well as the fact that my family is healthy and we have God and everything else that we need. I am very excited to see what 2013 hold for us. I am looking forward to watching my babies grow, embarking on our home schooling journey, watching our water treatment business and this blog grow, seeing my marriage get stronger, learning much more about Scripture and watching my relationship with God grow stronger than ever! I would like this year to be the year that I have a total paradigm shift, a total mindset change, a total transformation, once and for all. 2013, I am ready and determined! May this be the year that I finally do everything in my power to overcome past hurts and hangups, work towards being the mother and wife that God wants me to be and allow His grace to do the rest! I will strive to practice gratitude this year and will be be filling a jar with notes on all the blessings and good times we have this year and we will spend New Year's Eve reading over all these notes and thanking God for all the good that has come our way. 

          Happy New Year to all of you. I hope you had a great time ringing in the new year with your friends and family last night. We definitely had a blast. Both boys were up at midnight and we had a prayer and communion, then we made noise with the noise makers we made earlier in the night, blew bubbles and had a toast with sparkling white grape juice, then we headed home from my parents' house to go to bed, watching fireworks along the way. I hope all of you had an equally good time. May this new year bring many blessings and new opportunities to each and every one of you and thanks again for all of your support!