Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year of Blogging

Eleven months ago, on a cold winter night, my babies slept sound in their beds and
my husband sat beside me, learning a new song on his guitar.  I had just returned to
work from a blissful maternity leave and was going through a major transition in my
journey through womanhood.  Balancing my time between being a mother and wife, a
nurse and a home maker, yearning for a way to express it all and maintain a record of all
the experiences in between.  Late that night, I started a little blog, completely unsure of
what a blog even was.  I had no expectations, no idea what I wanted it to be.  I just wanted
a space to call my own, a place to write the words that were dancing around in my heart,
an outlet to be me.  
And so this blog was formed.  I have fallen in love with blogging, with the friends I have
made through this experience, with the connections I have formed through sharing my
story.  It has been quite an adventure and I thank you all for embarking on it with me.
Here's a little peek into my baby blog's first year...
I opened my heart to the big wide internet world, struggled to find balance between being
a mom and being a wife, and learned what Valentine's Day is really all about thanks to
my precious Isabelle.
We welcomed the first days of spring by spending time outdoors, I talked about
Isabelle's struggle with school and how we took some very pro-active steps to help her.
This is a topic I hope to share more about in the very near future.
Shawn and I went on our first post baby date, we planted a beautiful garden in our back
yard, we learned more about Isabelle's ADD diagnosis and developed a solid plan of
action, Isabelle turned 7 and helped me plan an amazing party to celebrate, we celebrated
our first Easter as a family of 4, and I began one of my favorite blogging features:
The Girlfriend Guide.
I took some time off work to just be present in the moment with my family, we
celebrated Cinco de Mayo: Vasquez tribe style, we hosted our extended family for a
big Mother's Day celebration, took Belle on a special picnic in the backyard, began a year
long project to renovate our back patio, let Brees roll around under the sun with her
new kitten, Shawn and I enjoyed a day off work together, and Isabelle finished the
first grade.
We began our summer by hosting Music Sundays with our best friends, cheered Isabelle
on for her 3rd dance recital, experienced a horrific public breast feeding incident, spent
time with family, shared a day in our lives , started Brees on solid foods, spent lots of time
in our back yard swimming pool, and I took care of some of the most amazing and 
inspiring patients.
We celebrated the 4th of July with some of our oldest and dearest military friends, I made
the decision to leave my job at the hospital and try out the home health nurse role,
Isabelle got her first library card, we tried our hand at 'vlogging and my accent was
exposed, the girls enjoyed playing together as their bond grew stronger, I learned how to
curl my hair the healthy way, and we celebrated my 32nd birthday.
We enjoyed a day on the water with friends, I reflected on the evolution of our marriage
as told through my pajamas, I felt guilty for days after Brees took a tumble, we giggled
over how much we all look alike, Isabelle started the 2nd grade, and my girlfriends and 
I spent time together with our sweet babies.
Shawn and I took the girls on their own special date days, I answered some of your 
questions, talked about my experience with pumping, enjoyed a day at the
Children's Museum with our cousins, Brees started walking, I had a special afternoon
all to myself, and Shawn and I celebrated our
11 year wedding anniversary.
I talked about our philosophies on discipline, Shawn's family came to visit us from
California, we attended the local Art Walk in support of my brother and SIL, night 
weaning when it seemed almost impossible, Shawn and I took our first overnight trip
away from the girls, and we celebrated Halloween.
In anticipation of Brees' first birthday, I shared about our experiences with: raising 
two, breastfeeding, finding routine, baby wearing, and bedding close.  We had a party for
our big baby girl, I attended the midnight premier of "Breaking Dawn" and made
an embarrassing appearance on the local news, and we took a road trip to visit friends
for Thanksgiving.
We celebrated Christmas big time by taking a trip to meet Santa, decorating our house
from head to toe, making gingerbread houses, hosting a holiday party, and enjoying a
relaxing Christmas Day together.  
Putting this post together was a wonderful way to reflect on this last year and all that we
have been through, the many ways in which we have grown.  But it was also a great way
to see where this blog has come from, where I want it to go from here.  This blog is about
our family, our hopes and dreams and stories.  If there is something here that you can
relate to, something that brings comfort to your heart, then we are blessed that much
more.  Happy New Year, friends.  Here's to another year of life and love!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas Day

After a very festive Christmas Eve, Christmas Day was all about relaxing, cuddling,
and eating some of the most delicious food imaginable.  We woke up very early on
Sunday morning and brought the girls into the living room where Santa had left them
a beautiful display of presents.  We all sat on the floor around the tree, opening one gift
at a time, oohing and aahing over the special treasures wrapped up so sweetly.  Isabelle
was most excited about an interactive puppy named Jingle who came with a special
book.  Brees got a little pink baby doll that she hasn't let go of since.  Shawn and I gave
each other one small gift each: earrings for me and an insulated coffee mug for him. 
But the surprises weren't over!  Santa left the girls one more treat in the kitchen: a big
girl mountain bike for Belle and a kitchen playset for busy bee Brees.  They must have
been REALLY good girls this year...
We spent the rest of the morning eating cinnamon rolls, playing with new toys, and cozying
up in the kitchen.  We had lunch with our big family courtesy of my aunt and then
played board games with the cousins all afternoon.  We made it home late Sunday
night, completely exhausted and ridiculously happy.  We made it through about 10
minutes of the Bears/Packers game before all falling asleep in the big bed.
It really was the most magical Christmas ever.  

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Christmas Eve

I say this every year, but this was seriously my most favorite Christmas ever!  We
absorbed every moment, took time to say all the things you never say, held onto each
other a little tighter.  This year was filled with so much magic, thoughtful expressions of
love.  We were surrounded by people we hold most dear and experienced countless
moments of appreciation.  It was everything I had dreamed it would be and more.
On Christmas Eve, we hosted about 50 members of my family at our home for our
annual holiday party.  We cooked chicken and sausage gumbo, had a Christmas carol
sing along accompanied by the guitar talents of Shawn and my brother, helped the
children make special cards for Santa, and then talked late into the night next to our
outdoor fireplace.  The adults played a super rowdy game of "Dirty Santa" and the kids
all received new pajamas from Santa.  Brees and her other baby cousins had a baby
slumber party in her nursery, tucked away in their fleece footie pajamas and lulled to sleep
by the sounds of their Cajun family.  We danced to our favorite tunes under the twinkly
porch lights and stole a few kisses under the mistletoe.  After our last guests left, Shawn,
my mom, and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking, laughing, cleaning,
and awaiting Santa's arrival.  As we went to bed that night, I laid my head on my
husband's chest, the sound of my baby snoring next to my bed, and whispered prayers
of thanks for all of our blessings.
For they are so many.
And a little video for your holiday viewing pleasure...

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Sweet Friday

Today we begin our 4 day Christmas weekend!  No work, no obligations, just family and
love.  I have spent the entire week running errands, wrapping gifts, and calling all of
our Christmas Eve party guests.  There's a warm, fuzzy feeling floating around, filling
our hearts with a child-like excitement and making me feel more blessed than ever.
This weekend will be all about comfort food, extended family, dancing shoes, and
rejoicing.  Isabelle said it best: "All I want for Christmas is love".
Definitely the theme of our household this year.
This week, Isabelle's school Christmas program made us all beam with pride: her
class performed several musical numbers and she kept smiling and waving to us from
her place in line.  The junior high classes performed a skit of the nativity featuring live
camels and mules, making Brees squeal in excitement.  Let's be honest here: most
school programs force parents into overcrowded auditoriums in which the show never
starts on time and the air is almost always broken.  But seeing your kid on stage,
surrounded by her classmates, giggling as they all forget their lines and fidget through
the entire production: it's priceless.  She recounted every last detail of the show for days,
so proud of her class and all their hard work.  It was such a special night to see our
daughter truly in her element.
This week I enjoyed a joyous breakfast with my coworkers, received countless gifts from
my patients, and thoroughly enjoyed opening all the Christmas cards sent to us by family
and friends.  This week my husband returned home from his work trip and I haven't let
him out of my sight since.
Today, our little family of four will be visiting some of our neighbors and delivering
special treats.  This weekend will be filled with traditions: Christmas Eve mass,
gumbo, reindeer food, "Oh Holy Night", Mama and Daddy eating late night cookies under
the tree.  But most of all, this weekend will be filled with love, reflection on things we
hold most dear, and the true spirit of the season.  
Merry Christmas to you all from our family to yours!!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011


Every year since Isabelle was 2 years old, we've gathered around our kitchen
table, constructed and decorated our very own gingerbread house.  I will be the first to
admit that I am not a crafty mama, I wouldn't even know how to begin baking my
own gingerbread much less making pieces suitable for house construction.  Instead, I pick
up a ready made kit on my way home from work and we set to work putting the
pieces together.  Isabelle looks forward to this tradition more than any other and I
usually save it for a few days before Christmas.  This year, she decorated the entire house
all by herself after a little help from Daddy with the roof.  She gave her baby sister bites
of icing under the table and made Shawn and I our own special cookie adorned with
gumdrops which we happily munched on for our midnight snack.  I love that, as she
gets older, she is embracing the traditions we have been setting into motion since our
little family began a few short years ago.
We are building memories while building these houses.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mama Says

On Sunday afternoons, with my husband in a football induced haze and the girls tucked
away for their afternoon naps, my mama and I meet up for a quick chat and cup of tea for
me, coffee for her.  We catch up on all the most recent family news, make plans for
upcoming events, and talk about matters most close to our hearts.  We often talk
about motherhood, a role we now share, a bond that has brought us even closer together.
She tells me stories of her experiences as a mother, the joys she felt and the
hardships learned.  And I listen intently, for there is so much to be learned from this
woman.  I am able to reflect on my own journey by better understanding the path
my mother chose.
My mother gave birth to her two children with no pain medication involved.  She used
cloth diapers and held us at every waking minute.  When I ask her about her
parenting "philosophy", she smiles and tells me "common sense".  She never read any
books, didn't attend classes or seminars.  My mother didn't worry about whether or not
she was "engaging" her children enough, she didn't obsess over organic onesies,
vaccination schedules, or having the most aerodynamic stroller.  She just loved
us, unconditionally, and always put our needs above her own.  She didn't fill our schedules
up with mommy and me classes, we had our own mommy and me time in the living
room every night after supper.  There was no internet to fill her head with doom and
gloom every time someone found a new food that could cause us harm or a new trend
she should be following.  She simply followed the advice of her own mother, her sisters,
her friends.  They supported one another and mothered together.
When I tell my mama about the "mommy wars" that take place all over the internet,
the constant I'm right and you're wrong: cloth vs. disposable, formula vs. breast, epidural
vs. natural, SAHM vs. working, attachment vs. independent, to vaccinate or not, she 
doesn't really get it.  "Why would a bunch of women who don't even know each other
or understand each other's circumstances try to judge one another about their
parenting decisions?".  I have been wondering about that quite a bit myself.
 Because, truthfully, we're all trying to achieve the same goal: to raise healthy,
happy children.  We all go about things differently, we all have our own personal reasons
for why we choose to do things a certain way, but there is no right or wrong.  As mothers,
we should believe in ourselves and our methods for raising up our babies, we should strive
to be everything we have in mind for what's right.  But, in today's society, is it possible
that we have become overachievers?  Are we setting the bar at an impossibly high
standard, making it so that no matter what decision a woman makes, there's always
another mother waiting to leave her a negative comment about how wrong she is?
The best advice my mama ever gave me was to enjoy my kids, have fun with them and
see the beauty in the simple, everyday moments.  They will only be little for such a
short amount of time, don't waste those precious moments trying to achieve some
impossible sort of perfect.  And she's right, all my girls want is ME.  They don't care
about whether or not their toys are made from hand crafted sustainable wood, they have
no idea whether or not the wall hangings in their rooms are vintage or what the thread
count is for their crib bedding.  What they do know is that their mama tries really, really
hard to love them, give them positive support and encouragement, and show them the
simple joys in life.  Their mama strives to surround herself with women who offer
their support and encouragement,  no matter the differences in their parenting styles.
And one day, hopefully, they will do the same thing with their babies.
So, here's to all the mamas out there, no matter what you believe or practice.  Today I say
to you: Job well done!  God gave you your babies, YOU specifically, because He knew that
you were the best person for the job.  That is the most amazing and comforting
thought I could ever imagine.

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