This past weekend, my hubby and I went out for a day date. While we were out, he said something like, "If I were single, I'd be living in a sick apartment in Brickell."
My reply, of course, was, "But aren't you glad you're not single?"
His response? Pretty much sums up marriage.
"Eighty percent of the time, being married is amazing. I love you, you know that. But ten percent of the time I don't want to talk to you, and the other ten percent of the time I want to throw you into the bay."
Well, gee, thanks, I think? I guess 80/20 is a decent ratio.
We've been married for six and a half years. Not a lifetime by any means, but long enough to see marriages shorter than ours not make it. We didn't get pregnant until four and a half years after we were married (we waited a few years before we started trying and then it took a little while for it to happen), and we survived major construction on our house while also surviving pregnancy.
There were bound to be rough moments. And there are bound to be many more rough moments. He's not perfect, and neither am I, by any means.
I read an article a while back that talked about Generation Y and how we are such a paradoxical generation. We are capable, educated, socially conscious, multi-talented multi-taskers, and we have big ideas. But when those big ideas don't work out exactly the way we have planned, we jump to the next one.
And I feel like that is what is wrong with the way many people nowadays view marriage. If we can't put a Band-Aid on it or if it doesn't make us feel good, we toss it. And on to the next. But marriage isn't easy. Nothing ever worth it is easy.
The best advice I ever heard about marriage was at a friend's wedding. The priest said, "Love is not a feeling. Love is a decision. You don't always wake up in the morning feeling good and happy and in love. The same way you sometimes don't feel like going in to work every day, but you get up, put your pants (or skirt) on, and do it. That's marriage." Make a conscious effort. If you feel happy more often than you don't, then it's worth the fight.
Because love isn't just a feeling. Love is most certainly a choice. Feelings are fickle, and so are humans. And we are humans, aren't we? So every morning, I wake up and I make the decision to love my husband, no matter how bad the day before was. And I have to say, my husband makes that choice daily, as well. Every day for us starts off as a clean slate. And when you make the choice to love, love continues to grow. It makes the percentages my husband was talking about, that 80/20, get a little closer to 100/0. It might never reach 100/0, but 80/20 isn't half bad. It's definitely better than 20/80 or even 50/50.
So what am I trying to say? The work is worth it. If you can make it through the hard times, you'll come out so much better on the other side. And look for the love in every day.
It's worth it.
P.S. I am not telling you to stick it out if you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. There are some situations that love can't fix or take care of.
A few weeks after giving birth, when we were still pretty confined to our home and spending a lot of time watching Netflix, my hubby and I decided to watch the documentary Food, Inc. I don't really remember a whole lot from those days, and I couldn't give you specifics about the documentary, but I do remember that in it, they discussed sugar. They talked about how addictive sugar is, how when we consume sugar, it basically activates the same part of the brain as cocaine, and that it is just as addictive, if not more so, than the narcotic.
Um, that's scary as hell.
The documentary went on to talk about the sugar industry and how it's conspiring to make us all addicted to "the other white powder". I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I do think it's pretty crazy how sugar is added to so much of what we consume. As a matter of fact, sugar is added to a lot of the formulas that are marketed for our infants in the form of sucrose. It's also added to baby cereals and to nearly everything that's marketed for kids. Yikes. After watching that, my resolve to exclusively breastfeed Caleb grew tenfold.
My husband and I have struggled with our weight for most of our lives. Growing up in Latin/Caribbean/Hispanic households, the more you eat, the healthier you are. We also grew up in an era rife with processed foods and sweets. It's nobody's fault, but sugar was probably in so much of what we ate. And the more I read and learn, the more I understand what a hold sugar has over us.
Go into your pantry or fridge right now. Pick out three products that are marketed for your kids, and check the sugar content. Okay - so if it's a fruit based product, you may have naturally occurring sugars in there. Now go check the ingredients. I bet you sugar is in there somewhere (fructose, sucrose, natural cane sugar). It's absolutely crazy. Of course kids are going to love the stuff! And since little bodies are programmed to prefer sweetness even more so than adults are, it's easier to just say, well here have the sweet stuff since it's what you want, anyway.
So I have made a conscious decision to avoid added sugars as much as I can. I know it will be impossible to keep my son away from added sugar entirely, but if I can avoid sugar becoming an addiction for him, then I'm going to do it. A plus is that in the process of avoiding it for him, I have become more conscious of the amount of sugar I eat.
If this is something you think you would like to do for your child(ren), there are a few easy ways you can - they won't break the bank and you can make incremental changes that will add up in the long run!
1. Stick to whole foods as much as possible. I try to shop on the outsides of the grocery store, and buy foods I have to prepare myself. There are way fewer empty calories and additives. Do we eat processed food? Yes. But a large majority of the time, we are eating foods I have prepared myself.
2. Read labels. So for the last 6 months, I have been buying Stonyfield Farms Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. They don't sell them in individual cartons, which is fine. I buy the 30 oz tub and just portion it out for him myself. I had searched for the Greek yogurt version before, but they never had it in the store. I thought I was doing so well because I wasn't giving him yogurt with added ingredients. I usually just stir in some cinnamon and maybe a little bit of honey, or some fruit, and he eats it without a problem. This past week, I finally found the Greek version - same brand, both whole milk. The Greek yogurt has nearly half the sugar and double the protein! Needless to say, Greek yogurt is what I'll be buying from now on.
3. Sub out products that are high in sugar. Back to the yogurt - Have you checked the sugar content in yogurt that has fruit already mixed in? LOADED with sugar. Which is why I buy it plain and mix in my own fruits or toppings. (The naturally occurring sugar in fruit is perfectly fine, because fruits also contain fiber, which means it takes longer for our bodies to break them down.) For snacks, I buy pre-sliced apple wedges and easy to eat fruits like blueberries. Plain Cheerios are also a great option, as are pre-cut veggies, hummus, and crackers like Original Triscuits.
4. Make fruits dessert. Instead of giving Caleb cookies or cake for dessert, I always top him off with fruit. He loves berries, so that's usually my go-to. But watermelon, mango, and papaya have all been hits, and as a bonus, I love them too, so I replace my dessert with those as well.
5. Pay special attention to breakfast. So many breakfast foods have so much added sugar. I already discussed the yogurt, but cereals and oatmeal can all contain super high amounts of sugar. For oatmeal, I use plain old fashioned oats and add in fruit, cinnamon, some vanilla, and maybe a little honey (to up the protein content I make it with milk). Caleb also eats waffles or pancakes a few times a week. I buy waffles that are low in sugar (like Earth's Best or Van's Power Protein waffles), and honestly, he eats them dry. If I serve them with yogurt, he dips them in the yogurt (which makes for a fun clean up). If not, he alternates the waffles with fruit. I have also made my own sugar free jam from overripe fruits, and we also top them with that. It works for us! For bread and grain products, I always look for whole grains and again, always check the sugar content.
6. Say no to juice! Juice, chocolate milk, and sodas are such huge culprits. They are filled with sugar and have zero nutritional value. Even if they are natural fruit juices, unless they are blended, you have taken all the fiber out of the fruit and have been left with just the sugar. I let him have juice at birthday parties, but that's about it. He actually loves water and loves it even more when it has ice, so I have stuck to that.
If you think it's something you want to do, make some small changes slowly, one week at a time. Eventually, you'll get to where you want to be! I know I will never completely give up sugar myself nor will I ever deny him a treat if it's in his face. But by keeping the sugary treats to a minimum at home, they really become just a treat when we are out at a birthday party or having an ice cream cone on vacation, and not something that he must have all the time.
Some people think I'm a little extreme, but his health is more important to me than other people's opinions, and I know that I am doing what is best for him.
P.S. Any thoughts on this? Any more tips to share? E-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'd love to hear them!
I feel like parenting is one big game of dressing up all the imperfections to make them look like a tv sitcom. Social media makes us feel like we need to be perfect. We hear (or read) about people getting judged for parenting decisions we have all faced at one point or another. As a matter of fact, we see people getting judged for things that are totally ridiculous and not necessarily a conscious parenting choice (like Victoria Beckham kissing her daughter on the mouth - something my son does to me and my husband both). So we paint this picture of perfection. I'm guilty of it too!
This means that we feel like everyone around us is perfect. So we feel less-than-stellar when our kids do things they aren't supposed to do. As a matter of fact, we feel downright embarrassed and as if we have somehow failed at this parenting thing.
A few months ago, Caleb started hitting. We had never hit him, so I'm not sure where it came from. It seemed it was born of frustration, and he would just smack me over and over and over again. When I got upset, he would stop, grab my face, and kiss me (square on the mouth - I'm looking at you, Posh Spice haters). The first time it happened around other people, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. Then it kept occurring.
So I posted in this Mommy group I'm a part of on Facebook, and asked for "No judgement please." And guess what?! I didn't get judgement - I actually got multiple versions of, "Oh dear Lord I'm so glad you said something because I thought I was the only one going through this." At least ten other moms in that group were going through the same thing and were also feeling embarrassed about what their child was doing.
And in that moment, I realized it. I'm not alone. My kid is not the first, nor will he be the last child to hit his parents out of frustration. And instead of being embarrassed, I should definitely seek out help and advice from other parents who have been through the same thing.It made me realize how silly it was for me to feel like my son and I had to be perfect, all the time.
A few days later, I ended up realizing that he only hit me when he was overtired, so I try not to let him get to that point anymore, But in the meantime, it served as an invaluable lesson. No matter how embarrassed I feel by my child's behavior - there is always someone out there who is more embarrassed by something their kid just did than you are.
We're all in this together, Mommas.
Sorry for the hiatus! It's been so busy around here and there are no signs of letting up. I've got a few posts in the works but none of them has been finished so I decided to hunker down for an hour this morning and get this post out to you.
iPhones are amazing. Their cameras have grown in leaps and bounds and we can really capture amazing things on our phone. They are convenient and they are always with us. I probably have nearly 8,000 photos in my camera roll (yes, seriously!). But since I have started to realize how quickly time passes, I decided that I would start using my camera more often to capture some everyday moments of Caleb. I have made it a point to pull it out once a day and capture just a few snapshots of whatever is going on at the moment.
I get asked all the time about my kiddos photos. How do I get such good photos? What camera do I use (little secret: the camera can improve your photos but it has very little to do with how you actually capture things)? The truth is, I'm a photographer sometimes and yes I know how to work a camera, but there are certainly things you can do to capture some great photos yourself! I won't be getting into technical aspects of a camera here, but I will be sharing some tips and tricks you can use yourself with either a point and shoot, a cell phone, or a digital SLR (what many people like to refer to as a "professional camera"). Many of the photos here were taken with my camera, but some were taken with my iPhone - in a pinch it can produce some great results!
1. Find the light
Direct sunlight is the worst. Squinty eyes and every line and imperfection visible. You want diffused light - so put the sun behind them, or stand in open shade or near a window. I have found that my covered front porch works great or near my French doors leading out to the backyard.
2. Turn off your flash.
Flash creates harsh shadows and ruins the natural feel of a photo. If you're using your iPhone, turn off your flash and use your finger to select the part of the photo you want the camera to expose for. On a digital SLR, switch your camera from Auto mode to almost any other mode. When I first started shooting, AV (Aperture Priority) on my Canon was my favorite setting to use. I set the aperture I wanted to use and the camera figured out the rest of the settings for me. No flash necessary. You want shadows and light - that gives your photos a really natural feel.
Sometimes you have no choice but to use flash (dark rooms, nighttime), in which case, do it, but do so sparingly.
3. Let them be.
Don't try and make them look at you. Kids naturally do the most adorable things. Let them be themselves. Give them bubbles. Let them play with the dog. Let them get dirty. And just snap away. Eventually you'll get a look in your direction, but it won't feel staged or posed.
4. Take multiple shots.
Don't just try to take one photo and say you can never get a good one. I usually take about 10 photos and out of every 10, I may have 3 that are sharp, clear, in focus, and where he isn't a total blur. Switch positions, change perspectives.
Capture those little feet, the little hands, the amazing eyelashes. You will miss those when they are bigger. Even the cranky, crying faces. They'll grow and change, and you want to etch that in your memory. But your memory fails, and photos are the only way to remember that cranky face.
6. Get in the picture.
Every once in a while, get in front of the camera too. Forget what you look like, that your makeup isn't done, that you want to lose 15 pounds. Your kids won't care about any of those things. They will care that they have photos with their parents.
7. Filter that!
To improve my iPhone shots, I use ColorStory or Afterlight, two photo editing apps that are pretty easy to use. I don't do heavy filtering, but a little can really add to the mood of your photo. I usually sharpen my photos and add a filter at about 10%-15%.
8. Get in the moment.
Take a few photos, but leave the full on photo sessions to professionals. Enjoy your kids and be in the moment - you'll never have it back. Take a couple of quick shots and then put the phone or the camera down. I promise you won't regret it.