Saturday, April 30, 2011


Brees Elizabeth is 5 months old!

I really can't believe another month has gone by, and what a busy month it has been!  We have watched our little lamb grow more this month than ever before and her sweet little personality shines brighter everyday, making all of us happier than we've ever been.  
Here are her stats:
Feeding:  Still exclusively breast feeding, eating every 3-41/2 hours.  I plan to start her on rice cereal at 6 months and the thought of that makes me sad.  Sounds ridiculous, but I love the fact that my body is her only source of nutrition right now.  That bond is priceless, that feeling of accomplishment as a mother.  I am sad that she will be venturing out, but ce la vie.  I am so grateful for how successful we have been and hope to continue nursing for quite a while.
Sleeping:  Her sleeping habits changed yet again this month.  I've read in several places that it is normal for babies to go through a "wakeful" phase, and we have definitely experienced that this month.  Teething doesn't help, either.  She naps wonderfully during the day, taking about 4 naps at 2-3 hours each a day.  At night, however, she has started to wake up at around 2 every morning, talking and babbling in her bed, sometimes getting very fussy.  I have started the terrible habit of nursing her to get her to fall back asleep and so now she is regularly waking up for a 2am feeding again.  Bad Mommy.  I can't say that I mind terribly being able to cuddle with her as we both doze in and out of sleep, though.
Health:  She has not been sick at all this month.  She is teething, though, so we've seen a little more drool and a need to put everything in her mouth.  She has two little teeth at the bottom and seems to be a little more comfortable now that they have broken the skin.  Her reflux is under control and her spitting up has decreased considerably.  
Play:  She is so active!  She rolls both ways now and scoots her butt into the air in an attempt to crawl.  She loves her Exersaucer and her new baby swing we added to Isabelle's swing set.  She loves being outside more than anything and we love taking long walks in the afternoon.  Her favorite place to be is in her Ergo, nestled in close to Mama.  Isabelle and Brees adore each other and Brees watches her big sister like a hawk, following her every move.  Her Soothe and Glow Seahorse is her favorite toy and she sleeps with him pressed up against her face every night.  She is a big thumb sucker and will not take a pacifier.  Hello orthodontist bills!
Disposition:  She truly is the sweetest, happiest little baby.  She smiles constantly and laughs a deep belly laugh when she gets excited.  She is rarely fussy and only cries when she is hungry or ready for bed.  I must admit that this is probably because someone is always holding her.  She is quite the spoiled little lamb, but we wouldn't have it any other way.
This month we:
  • Went to the zoo for the first time
  • Celebrated big sister's birthday
  • Got a new kitten
  • Dyed our first Easter eggs
  • Learned that if we cry, someone will pick us up right away.  And then started doing that regularly
  • Decided that being rocked to sleep for an hour was much more fun than just going to bed alone
  • Smiled and laughed the days away
You are a gem, Brees Elizabeth, and we thank God for you everyday!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sweet Friday

Friday morning here and there is nothing quite like the energy you feel knowing that after this long work day, you will be rewarded with a delicious weekend.  Leaves a feeling in my bones that makes me feel like dancing!
This weekend, I hope to:
  • Sleep late, or as late as our teething babe will allow.  Mama and Daddy are tired after several restless nights with the little one this week.
  • Spend quality time with my lovely mother in law who is visiting from Arizona.
  • Sneak away for a few hours with the hubby for a quiet dinner and soul connection (a big thank you to my mother in law for helping make that one a reality!).
  • Transplant my tomato and cucumber plants to their new homes.  They have outgrown their starter pots and are flourishing in the new garden.  Summer time salads are in our near future!
  • And of course, hug my two little girls to my heart's content!  Listen to every story, kiss every boo boo, make lots of waffles, and thank my lucky stars for this life we are living.
A little of this, too:
Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you may be!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Life According to Belle

Life lessons learned through the mothering of a seven year old:
  1. Laugh often, loudly, and with recklous abandon.  Be unafraid of embarrassing yourself.  Have you ever watched children play?  They giggle constantly, at the silliest things.  We should be more like that.  We should relax enough to see the joy in the smallest things.  We should throw our heads back, close our eyes, and laugh the deepest belly laugh imaginable. 
  2. Hug and kiss the ones you love whenever you feel the urge.  Express your love without fear of rejection.  When you are feeling lonely or in need of extra attention, don't be afraid to say so.  Our daughter is the most affectionate creature and is not afraid to show her love and remind us that she needs love back.  I love that vulnerable side of her.
  3. Use your imagination.  Daydream to your heart's content.  Have big dreams and don't be afraid to chase them.  I listen to Isabelle in her room, pretending that she is the lead actress at her very own theater.  She knows no bounds at this phase in her life, she believes in the power of possibility.  I want her to have that confidence forever.  And I want that same confidence for myself.  I want to look into my future and believe that I can make anything happen.
  4. Believe in fairy tales.  Yes, life can be difficult and we are sometimes disappointed with how things turn out.  But it's still your story, your fate.  Isabelle once told us, "I don't want to marry Prince Charming.  I want to marry the Beast.  He's a really nice man."  See the beauty in every moment, every mistake, every situation that turns out a little different than you might expect.  See the beauty in the Beast.
"You breathed on me and made my life a richer one to live, when I was deep in poverty you taught me how to give. Dried the tears up from my dreams and pulled me from my hole, quenched my thirst and satisfied the 
burning in my soul." 
Bob Dylan

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I must tell you about a very beautiful blog by the lovely Scout called The Soul Anchor.  She has a brand new feature called "Tuesdays are for Lovers" and I am this week's guest blogger!  It was such a joy to share Shawn and I's love story, as it is a story I am very proud of.  Reflecting on her questions and thinking back to when this thing we call love all began was a wonderful way to feel closer to my soul one.  Please check out Scout's lovely blog, she is so insightful and inspiring.  And of course read about my lovey dovey.  After almost eleven years of marriage, I think we're quite swell:)

The Girlfriend Guide: Meredith

Good morning and welcome to The Girlfriend Guide!  This week I am so pleased to introduce you to one of my very best friends, Meredith.  Our friendship began over 10 years ago and she has brought so much love and joy into my life.  She is an amazing example of what a girlfriend should be and has always supported me and provided me with unconditional love.  Meredith lives with her husband in New Orleans, the amazing city where she was born and raised and where we originally met so many years ago.  This past year, she began a journey of self discovery and bravely made a commitment to change her life.  She stands today a stronger, more fulfilled woman ready for a new start, a new direction, and a life of sobriety.  She is one of the most courageous women I have ever met and I hope that you are able to get some insight from her very honest words. 

1.  What is your personal definition of friendship?
Friendship to me is something that strengthens and deepens throughout the years.  It's trusting that your friends will help you to do the right thing without judging or criticizing you.  They will tell you the truth, even if it hurts.  It's laughing and crying and growing and experiencing things together.  We are lucky in that we have friends who share similar outlooks on life but each have unique personalities and quirks that keeps things interesting.  We always respect each other's opinions even if we don't agree on them.  I also realized
while getting sober that most women don't have friends like I do -most have to cut off ties with their friends when they get sober because they don't have true friends.  They have using buddies - party friends.  It was a pretty great feeling to know that I have friends
who love me for me and not just because I was fun or outrageous.
2.  What qualities do you look for in a girlfriend?

Inner strength is very important to me.  I am drawn to strong, empowered women who do what needs to be done on a daily basis and don't have to rely on others to accomplish things.  Intelligence is a big one.  A sense of humor.  An ability to see the bigger picture and
to see others' points of view.  Open-mindedness.  Honesty.

3.  How do you balance spending time with friends and fostering relationships with work and family?

Now that drinking doesn't consume all of my time, I have much more time to devote to work, family, friends, and recovery.  It's easier for me to make plans with friends and stick to them.  Since I've been home, I realize how important it is to me to have that connection with healthy people and people who encourage me to be a better person.  Basically, all of my relationships have become stronger and better because I have more time and energy to give, and in turn, I am rewarded with good company and positivity.

4.  What advice would you give other women about having healthy, happy friendships?
Trust your intuition, don't be afraid to open up, share, and express your true emotions, stay honest, and find other people who are willing to do the same.  For me, the ability to laugh at yourself is important because I have trouble getting close to people who take themselves too seriously.  I don't know what to do with them.
5.  How has having strong friendships enriched your life?

It has made all the difference in the world to me.  My family is not good with showing emotion and being real with each other.  Everyone constantly judges and criticizes, so when I found friends who I could be myself around, I realized how truly blessed I was.  This is not the norm for many people, and I am SO GRATEFUL to have my friends in my
life to support me, laugh with me, and grow with me.

6.  What is your favorite girlfriend memory we have shared?
There are so many to choose from...I still remember Dave and me hanging out with you and Shawn when you lived in Lakeview and when you got pregnant for Belle as a very happy time in my life.  I was genuinely surprised and happy when you told me that we were basically the only friends that stuck around when you got pregnant.  Everyone
else wanted to go out party, and we were fine with just hanging out, grilling, and listening to Hey Ya over and over again in the backyard.  There's also the infamous girls night out in Bunkie, all of the many Mardi Gras adventures, chilling in the hammock, Oktoberfest, laughing at our husbands and their ridiculousness, GLAMOROUS, our husbands
locking us out of the house/throwing us out of the car and us sticking together every time,playing Scrabble, etc.

Girlfriends like Meredith:
Girlfriends like Meredith are always there for you, no matter what.  She is a wonderful listener and will always give you the most open and honest advice.  She has never judged me, never criticized me, and has always been my biggest cheerleader.  She can make me laugh like no one else with her honest words and hilarious stories.  She is intelligent, witty, and as real as real can get.  I am a better woman for knowing her because she challenges me to be authentic, strong, and, most importantly, to never take myself too seriously.  We all make mistakes in life, but Meredith has shown me how to look those mistakes in the face, forgive yourself for them, and then make them into funny stories later.  I love you, sweet Mere, and I am so blessed to have a friend like you. 


I've got my very own button, hurray!!  I'm growing up so fast:)
Thank you to Chelsey from The Paper Mama and Jhen from From Here to Eternity for using their amazing talents to make this new little blogger so happy.  If you haven't visited these lovely ladies yet, GO!!  SEE!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Very Full Glass

I spent my Easter Sunday at the hospital, taking care of my patients and laughing with my coworkers.  I sometimes look at days like that as the "downside of being a nurse".  Having to be away from your family on days that are all about just that: being with your family.  Leaving out the presents and Easter baskets and slipping out the door before anyone awakens.  Not getting to see those smiling faces, not hearing the squeals of delight.
However, I'm not really a "glass is half empty" kind of girl.  It is my mission to make the most of each day, to learn from each experience, to use my moments to better myself and become closer to who I am supposed to be.  And so days like yesterday are not a downside, they are a blessing.  I was not able to spend the holiday with my mother, but I did have the privilege of caring for someone else's mother, someone whose children live far away and are unable to be present.  I did not get to be with my children or husband, but I did get to care for someone else's children, someone's dear husband.  And I did it all surrounded by a group of women who feel the same way.  A group of nurses who wore smiles as big and bright as the sun, who skipped through the halls with wishes of good will and merriment in their hearts.
 The comraderie that we experience on days like that is priceless.  We are a united force, determined to make the most of our time and thankful to be in the company of each other.  I am so thankful to not only have a job where I am able to care for those in need, but that I get to do that job in the company of such inspirational women.
Today, count your blessings and appreciate where you are.  It may not be exactly where you hoped you would be, but make the most of it anyway.  Life is precious and moments are epic, live them to the fullest.  We are placed in certain situations for a reason, the people around us were put there to teach us a lesson.  Enjoy your surroundings, share your joy and love, and make your positive mark.  Life is what you make it, so make it the best it can be! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Happy Easter from our family to yours!
~This is the day the Lord has made:
 let us rejoice and be glad in it.~
Psalm 118:24

Friday, April 22, 2011


Happy Earth Day!!
A few tips for conserving and making a positive mark on this beautiful planet we call home:
  1. Car pool (Save the planet and your wallet, too!)
  2. Use energy efficient light bulbs and turn lights off when not in use.
  3. Bring your own reusable shopping bags for your grocery runs.
  4. Go paperless.  Receive your bills and monthly bank statements online.
  5. Turn the water off!  Make sure your laundry and dish loads are full to maximize usage.
  6. Use green cleaning products.
  7. Buy local produce and buy in-season goods.
  8. Invest in a programmable thermostat and be conservative with your settings.
  9. Avoid bottled water and invest in a reusable thermos for hydration on the go.
  10. Take yourself off junk mail lists by going here.
And of course: Reduce, reuse, recycle!

{Isabelle and I perched on one of our favorite trees, uprooted during a hurricane.  
We planted a new one in its spot and used this one as firewood.  
It provided us with warm, cozy fires for three winters.}


Do you ever feel sad around the holidays?
I do.
The holidays are for spending time with the ones you love, carrying on traditions passed down through generations, counting your blessings and reflecting on the love in your life.  But, sometimes, they can also remind you of all that you DON'T have.  They can make you reflect on your loved ones who are no longer with us, those who are not present, the changes that have occurred in your family over the years.  And this sometimes brings a sadness over me that I can't shake.
As thankful as I am for the many blessings I have in my life, for which there are many, I can not help but miss seeing my grandmother smiling in the morning sun as the children ran through the yard searching for Easter eggs.  I can not help but remember my parents before their divorce, toting around the grandchildren and laughing despite their differences.  I miss hearing my cousin's infectious laugh ringing through the spring air.  These memories, they are so strong, they are almost tangible.
So I pray, and I reflect, and I let myself feel these emotions and I own them.  They are real, they are mine, and they are perfectly acceptable.  It's okay to feel sad, even when you have every reason in the world to be happy.  The holidays are the most magical time of the year and our big, loving family is the greatest gift of all.  But, I will give myself a few moments to reflect on what I am missing.  I will whisper silent prayers for those tucked close inside my heart.  Those feelings are what keeps those memories alive, and after I'm done feeling sad, my heart will swell once more and I will emerge stronger.
So, today, I am thankful for all of the love in my life.  For the love I have experienced and the love I have lost.  Life emulates the season of spring: where there is lose, there is renewal.  We can celebrate those who are no longer with us through the birth of these beautiful new babies we have been blessed with.  We can carry on traditions and create new memories through these little lives that are just beginning.  
 We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility.  If it wasn't for tomorrow, how much would we get done today?  Whatever your purpose... embrace it completely.  Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God's wonder.  ~Paul Vitale

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reading Rainbow

I've been comprising a list of summer goals, hopes and dreams for how I want us to spend our days over the next few months.  First on my agenda: comprise a reading list for both Isabelle and myself.  What better way to enjoy the long, lazy days of summer than lounging in the pool or curling up in the hammock with a good book.
I'm starting with "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen, a tale of love, the circus, and living through the Great Depression.  It was gifted to me by a dear friend who is also reading it and I can't wait to exchange notes.  Maybe I can convince Shawn to see the movie after I'm done reading.  What guy wouldn't want to flock to see a Robert Pattinson movie?


The last few episodes of "Parenthood" have really got my wheels spinning.  I've been reflecting so much on the great responsibility that comes with raising little girls.  What kind of young ladies will they become?  What type of example am I setting for them?
I think that so much of raising children is about having realistic expectations.  Though we have all of these ideas about who they will be and how they will behave, they are individuals.  They have their own little personalities and their own ways of dealing with things.  As Isabelle gets older, I am realizing that she is who she is.  She has flaws and can sometimes be challenging.  But she's beautiful because of those flaws, those are the qualities that make her unique and special.  As her parents, it's not our job to make her perfect.  It's our job to embrace who she is and help her use her attributes in a positive manner.
It's also our job to live a life that sets an example.  How can I expect my girls to have positive self-esteem if I call myself "fat"?  How can I expect them to treat others with respect if they hear their parents argue and engage in negative conversations?  I am their guidebook on how to become a woman.  They are watching my every move and listening to my every word and whether I realize it or not, I am shaping them.  Already.  What an incredible responsibility.
I want my girls to be strong and confident.  I want them to believe in hard work and the power of a dream.  I want them to become involved in healthy relationships and to love themselves enough to know that they deserve love.  I want them to be self-sufficient and secure.  I want them to make smart decisions but learn to forgive themselves when they make mistakes.  I want them to live without regret and move on from failure with a stronger sense of self.  I want them to lean on their family for support and to always know that this is HOME.
I pray for these things daily.  The night I had Brees, I was holding her close, nursing her late into the night.  Shawn was sleeping next to us and the room was so quiet and peaceful.  I remember looking at this beautiful little girl, so innocent and new.  And thanking God over and over.  For choosing ME.  He chose me, out of all the women in the world, to be her mother.  He loves me so much that He deemed me worthy to be the mother to these two little girls.  I will never forget the feeling I had that night, the revelation of knowing this important truth.
Not only will our children learn from us, but we will continue to learn through them.  We will learn about ourselves and strive to be better.    Because one day they will take all of these days that are their childhood and they will march forward into their own future.  And I want that future to be as big and bright as the night sky.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


With a husband in college, two sweet babies to feed, and a sinking economy, this Vasquez family has learned to stretch a dollar!  We have found ways to cut corners and put extra earnings aside as much as possible while still living a full and happy life.  I thought I would share a few strategies we've learned that work for our family.  We could all use a little help these days, right?
1.  Have you heard of Dave Ramsey?  If not, click here and do a little reading.  He has super practical advice on how to climb out of debt, prepare for your future, and live within a practical budget.  We have been using his "snowball plan" and in only 3 months have paid off FIVE accounts.  So empowering!  
2.  One of my coworkers referred me to a fabulous website called (also recommended by Dave).  For a very small membership fee, this site provides you with weekly menus to the store of your choice.  There are a variety of menus available including vegetarian, portion control, and low carb fare.  The menus allow you to specify whether you are shopping for a family, a couple, or your fabulous single self.  You are then given a grocery list to stock up on exactly what you will need to make the meals on your list.  It's genius!!  Planning ahead for meals saves me time AND money.  It keeps me from going to the store more than necessary and takes the guess work out for my sweet hubby on the nights I get home late from work.  
3.  Buy in bulk when possible.  I hit up Sam's Club about every six weeks.  I buy most of our household products, dry goods, and meat there.  And by buying in bulk I don't mean hoarding.  You don't need 20 packs of toilet paper.  Buying in bulk keeps us stocked for a longer period of time which prevents me from having to go shopping more than needed.  We all know that if you go into a store for 4 items, you usually walk out with 10.  And those extra 6 were probably not even necessary.  
4.  Avoid buying too many snacks, sodas, and ready made food.  Stick to single ingredient items that are versatile and can make several meals.  It's amazing how many different meals you can make with chicken, pasta, and vegetables rather than buying several frozen pasta dishes.  Plus, it's so much better for your health and well-being.
 5.  Cut back on dining out.  ALOT.  Get creative and have dinner on the porch under a twinkly set of lights, a candlelit dining room, a picnic in the backyard.  When you do decide to treat yourself to a meal out (which we all should), check out sites like Groupon and Living Social for really spectacular deals at some of your local hot spots.
{The girls enjoying an afternoon peanut butter and jelly picnic in the front yard}
6. Cut down on energy costs, both for your budget and the planet.  Turn lights off when you're not using them, unplug your chargers, and set your thermostat at a reasonable level.  We bought energy saving light bulbs for our entire house when we moved in two years ago and have not had to change a SINGLE one yet.  Being more conscious of our energy spending in our home reduces our monthly budget significantly.  
7.  Think before you act.  Make smart purchases and question how much you really love something before you buy it.  Use sites like Zulily to find great deals and redeem coupons when possible.
8.  Most importantly, stick together and remember your goals as a family.  What means the most to you, what is your agenda?  Come together and set some house rules for what you are willing to spend money on and what is just not worth it.  As long as you are all on the same page, saving money and reducing debt becomes a lot easier.  And remember, living more conscientiously and productively sets a good example for your children and prepares them to make smart decisions themselves. 
{The girls and I on one of our monthly stock-ups}

~Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important then clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?~
Matthew 6:25-26

Monday, April 18, 2011


The Paper Mama's photo challenge this week: Self portrait.
I love this photo.  Outdoors with my little lamb strapped in close.  Represents me well.

The Paper Mama

Zoo for You

In honor of Isabelle's week long birthday celebration extravaganza, we took a family trip to the zoo this weekend.  The zoo is one of her favorite places on earth as she is a complete animal fanatic.  Our backyard would be a zoo if she had things her way!
Shawn and I were both a bit tired after a long week at work and little sleep due to a teething baby. So, leisurely strolling around the zoo was a nice way to get out of the house and spend time together.  The weather was beautiful and most of the animals were out and about.  The zoo is a such an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon and a great learning opportunity as well.  Isabelle loves reading the plaques at each exhibit, learning the names of the animals and where they come from.
This trip was special also because it was Brees's first time at the zoo!  She looked around curiously with her big brown eyes, taking in all the sights and smells.  She actually spent most of the afternoon in the Ergo, head right between the boobs, fast asleep.  Who could blame her?
These days are so busy as Shawn's semester is winding down and Isabelle's school year comes to a close.  We are busy preparing for our dance recital, finishing up projects, and studying for exams.  Not to mention everything going on at work.  So, to have an afternoon where we have nothing more to do than walk hand in hand through a beautiful forest filled with animals: what a delicious luxury.  Shawn and I just kept looking at each other and saying, "This is so nice".  And it was.
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel

that they are joined for life - to be with each other
in silent unspeakable memories.  ~George Eliot

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Steppin' Out Saturday

This weekend, the girls and I thought we'd join Mandy and company for a little Steppin' Out Saturday!  This is sooooo up Isabelle's ally and she was happy to take on art direction responsibilities for our shoot.
Our beautiful, big, red barn is seriously the perfect accessory, don't you think?