Friday, March 30, 2012

Defining Our Values

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has 
gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche 
and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by 
an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation 
of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others 
and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory 
a benediction.  ~Bessie Stanley

When I look at my life and reflect on all that I have, when I plan ahead for what's to come 
and dream about the future, I find myself redefining my own personal definition of 
success.  Before I met Shawn, when I was young and just setting out on my own, success 
was learning new things, traveling and making my way.  After we were married and set off 
on this journey through life together, success was finding our first apartment, 
putting ourselves through college and creating our own little world.  And then came the 
babies and all their heart stopping love.  Success suddenly grew into something much 
bigger than ourselves, we learned to live each day with these girls in  mind.  We became 
more mindful of our actions and lived with intention and purpose, measuring success by 
the example we are setting for our children.
As we grow as people, become older and wiser and more experienced in the ways of 
the world, the definition of success will and should continue to evolve.  We are striving to 
live a life of peace, with immeasurable amounts of love, spreading kindness and compassion.  
Our definition of success is now reflected in our actions and how we are teaching our girls
 to live.  I want my girls to be whatever their imaginations dream up for them, I want them 
to run after what they want with reckless abandon.  I want them to know that success 
and happiness do not lie in material things or social statuses.  Success and happiness lie in
the hearts of those with integrity, those who build an honorable life, those who are not 
afraid to bare their souls and share their love and light with those around them.

  At this point in my life, my definition of success is a home cooked meal at the end of a 
long work day.  It's the look on my patients' faces when I walk into their homes.  Success 
is learning to admit your wrongs and having the humility to make them right.  It's taking 
a chance on something new and seizing opportunities brought before you.  Success is 
learning to be content and present in the moment, it's being satisfied with simplicity.  For 
me, for now, it's recognizing the everyday blessings and rejoicing in them wholeheartedly. 
At the end of the day, I want our girls to know that success is as simple as a hard day's 
work and the reward of homemade popsicles at the end.  Success is binding yourself to 
your family and speaking kind words to each other each and every day.  It is the measure 
of a life built on love.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Please Help an UN-crafty Mama

Dear readers,
I need your help.  I am hopelessly UN-crafty.  For Isabelle's 8th birthday next month, she 
is hosting her very first slumber party with all her girlfriends.  I have lots of 
activities planned: outdoor games, a pinata, a baking project.  But, she has requested we 
do a craft, something the girls can each take home with them as a special memento from 
their night.  Any suggestions?  The blogging world is so full of creative people, I just know 
that some of you ladies can give me a few ideas on something appropriate for 7-8 year 
old girls.  You can either link up a post in the comments section, email me 
at vasqueztribe@yahoo, or just comment me directly.  I will run all of your ideas by 
my big birthday girl and the winning idea will be featured in my first (and most likely 
only) "look at this craft we made" post!!
Thank you and love you and you are all awesome,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our Song

This weekend was lovely, slow and sunny and full of family time.  On Saturday, Brees was 
up at the crack of dawn, ready to start our weekend with the roosters.  We decided to 
let Shawn and Belle sleep in, grabbing a quick breakfast and heading into town to visit a 
local nursery.  I filled our cart with herbs and a few more plants for the girls' flower garden 
as Brees visited with all the other early morning gardening enthusiasts.  Waking up early
 is not so bad when you have such lovely company, such beautiful weather.
We spent the remainder of our weekend outside: working in the garden, playing with 
the dogs, riding bikes, sunbathing.  After a big Sunday dinner at my mom's house, the 
girls went down for naps and Shawn and I listened to music on the patio.  Weekends like 
this make me thankful, give me peace in my heart.  I found myself whispering prayers 
of thanks under my breathe, thanking God for the gift of family, love, health, a life we can 
be proud of.  Life is a beautiful song worth singing at the top of your lungs.  
I am so thankful for these days. 

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Steppin' Out Saturday: Hunger Games

On Saturday night, Shawn and I stepped out for date night!  This makes two months in a
row that we have stuck by our once a month date night promise and I couldn't be
happier.  After a long day of gardening and chasing our girls around the yard, we got
dressed and dropped them off at my mother's house.  I wore make-up for the first time
in 2 weeks and we held hands like a couple of teenagers.  We enjoyed a sushi dinner at
one of our favorite restaurants and then met up with friends to watch "The Hunger
Games".  The movie was fantastic and I thought it was an excellent adaptation of the
book.  Isabelle decided to spend the night with my mom so Shawn and I arrived home
with a very sleepy Brees in our arms.  We had a late night dessert and then all settled into
the big bed together.  Date night with my husband and a sleeping baby in my arms:
the perfect evening.
Here's what I wore... 
Jeans:Aeropostale//Tank and sandals: Target//Sequined blazer: F21

Momma Go Round

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Husbands and Tea

Late one night this week, after the girls were in bed and the house was settled, my 
husband and I met in the kitchen over a few cups of tea.  We caught up on our week, 
gave each other reminders and discussed upcoming events.  We talked about family news 
and the issues that had been weighing on our shoulders.  Eventually, the conversation 
shifted to old times, deep feelings, the thoughts that had been dancing on our 
hearts.  Somehow, we began talking about a difficult time we went through early on in 
our marriage, a time when we struggled and fought to make our relationship work.
My husband is what most people would consider the strong, silent type.  He is 
extremely sensitive, articulate, and passionate about life but he does not waste his 
emotions.  He is very careful about sharing them, ensuring that when he opens his heart 
to you, you are experiencing a genuine moment.
On this night, at our kitchen table, talking about a time in which we struggled, 
he said...
I am so sorry for all of those things I did to you.
I was wrong.
You did not deserve to be treated that way.  You are so good.
I take full responsibility for my actions.
You always stand by me, no matter what.  I see that now, looking back.
Your strength and your unconditional love carried me through.
I'll never be able to thank you enough.
Looking back on that time, I see what you did and who you are, 
and I love you for it.
As tears streamed down my face, I thanked him for this most heartfelt apology.  An 
apology that was not really needed as that time in our life is a decade past.  But, still, it 
was something I needed to know, to hear, and it meant the world to me.
He asked me why I was crying, didn't I already know those things?  He was amazed 
that those words could mean so much to me.  He was sure that I knew them to be 
true already.
Sometimes, as women, we need to hear it.  We need to hear you say those words.  To 
witness your vulnerability as you open up your heart and bare your soul and stand up.  
I've always known those words to be true, but to hear them come from the mouth of the 
man I love made me feel like I could dance across water.  
My husband and I were brought closer that night because of those words, that moment, 
the hour at the kitchen table over a few cups of tea.  We put work into our marriage that 
we do not always have the courage to do.  And that is what it will take, for the rest of 
this lifetime, to continue loving one another.  Admitting wrongs, making them right, 
staring each other in the eyes and saying the words that need to be said.  Such is the 
beauty of the journey of marriage.  Humility, patience, and love.  
All over a few cups of tea.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taming of the Shrew

There's a moment that every mother fears, a moment we all know is inevitable, we've 
read the books and heard the horror stories: the moment your child transitions from a 
sweet smelling, cuddly infant to a temper tantrum throwing toddler.  The transition 
is seamless, the progression is natural and will take place before you even realize it.  
One minute, you're rocking your lullaby baby to sleep.  The next, she's rolling around on 
the kitchen floor, face beet red, screaming at the top of her lungs because you took the 
remote control away from her.  What's a mother to do?
Brees recently discovered the power of the temper tantrum.  For the last two weeks, 
she's been experimenting with regaining control of her master plan by throwing herself on 
the floor, crying, and screaming.  The first time it happened, I found myself staring at her 
in disbelief, not wanting to believe that this day had come.  Wasn't she a chubby little
 drooler just yesterday?  Was she seriously rolling around on the floor, stomping her feet 
and playing the drama queen role?

With Isabelle, I thought the temper tantrum phase was a living nightmare.  Her 
outbursts gave me anxiety, made me feel like a horrible mother, left me running 
around frantically trying to calm and soothe her.  The louder she cried, the more helpless 
I felt.  Our energies rubbed off on each other and the tantrums were exacerbated by 
our mutual frustrations.  We were definitely working on a learning curve: the first 
baby, wanting everything to be perfect, learning to deal with the real life situations you 
can never truly prepare for until you are living through them.
With Brees, we are in a different place.  We are older, we've been through this before.  
I've grown not only as a mother, but as a person.  I've learned to have more patience, 
take deep breathes, defined my boundaries and realized when it's time to take a step 
back.  With Brees, I realize that temper tantrums are an essential part of 
human development.  They are NOT the end of the world.  They are simply her toddler 
way of trying to establish control, attempting to claim her voice and get what she wants. 
 I think it's important to understand that, to appreciate what your child is experiencing.  
It makes disciplining them so much easier when you can empathize, understand where 
they are coming from.
With Brees, I realize that we are not going to get anywhere without patience.  I struggle 
with patience daily, I pray for it, hope for it, strive to BE it.  Some days I succeed, other 
days it all goes out the window.  But I keep trying, knowing that if I can stay calm, cool, 
and collected, most situations with my children will end up being a lot more productive.  
I try to look at the big picture: what is the temper tantrum about?  Is she just 
hungry?  Tired?  Could all of this be remedied with a good snack and/or a nap?  
Sometimes, it really is just that easy.  Babies can get really out of control when they 
are hungry and tired.  I know this because I feel the exact same way.  As with every 
other part of her life, I try to meet all of her needs first, ensure she has been fed and 
changed and is well rested, hold her if she needs extra affection.
Most of the time, though, the temper tantrums occur simply because she wants 
something she can't have, she wants to go somewhere she can't go.  So, I pick her up, 
bring her somewhere different, distract her, try to get her interested in a new toy, a 
song, something to take her mind off of her naughtiness.  You can't do THIS, but 
here's something you CAN do.  And then positive reinforcements, lots of praise.  And lo 
and behold, she usually forgets all about whatever it was she just put on an Oscar 
worthy performance for.  We move on, push forward, forge ahead.  On to the next phase, 
the next life lesson.  And just when I think that this phase is so difficult, Isabelle rolls her 
eyes at me and I am reminded that toddler hood is small potatoes...

You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  ~Franklin P. Jones

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sowing Seeds

On Sunday morning, our girls slept in until 8 am, a rare occurrence in our house.  The 
extra sleep left me with an amazing burst of energy to start my day, a much needed 
break from our usual early mornings.  We had a big breakfast and then set out for 
the hardware store, stocking up on items needed for our long to-do list.  Shawn mowed 
the lawn and trimmed bushes.  Isabelle and I planted a new rose bush and cleaned up 
the garden bed I have set aside for the girls' flower garden.  Brees played in the dirt, 
watched over the dogs, and then enjoyed a bike ride with mama.  We were able to get 
so many things done around the yard, all while listening to music and playing in the 
perfect springtime weather.  Isabelle and I planted a long row of sunflower seeds and I 
can hardly wait to watch them grow.  Gardening with my girls is definitely one of my 
favorite parts of motherhood.  I am not a crafty person by any means, I don't know how 
to sew or make pretty things.  Growing up in the country in a family of farmers, 
however, taught me how to use my hands to build and grow things.  These are the things 
I will teach my daughters: how to be outside and live productively, how to work hard 
and have something to show for it at the end of the day.  I hope that they will always 
enjoy being outdoors as much as they do now.  I hope that these days spent working 
outside together as a family will serve as some of their happiest memories. 

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