Three years. I can't believe that three years ago today, I had yet to meet you. I would never be ready for what was about to come my way, but I was more ready to meet you, this little man of mine, than I had ever been for anything in my life. But even though I hadn't yet met you, today I can't remember my life without you.
It's been a year of growth for all of us. And if I had to pick an age that has been my favorite so far, two would be it. As challenging as some days have been, it has been a year of adventure, of learning, and of loving. The terrible twos, when you think about it, aren't really that terrible after all. Sure, tantrums abound and limits are tested and patience runs thin. But man, is it fun watching you grow and learn.
You fight us hard. We've battled over everything from school uniforms to what color crayon you want to use. We've had to discipline you and reprimand you, and sometimes I've even had to reprimand myself - to remember that you are still little. And that you won't be this way forever. That eventually, the tantrums will go away and they will be replaced by different problems, bigger ones.
But even though you fight us hard, you love us hard, too. You run to Daddy when he gets home from work, and you kiss me every single night and say, "Good night Mommy, I love you." You love to cuddle with us on the sofa, and your hugs can make all our biggest worries disappear. Your emotions run deep, and our love for you grows deeper by the day.
You have grown to be independent. While it was always important to me that you were independent, it's a little heartbreaking to realize you don't need me for everything anymore. Declarations of "I can do it," and "No, Mommy, let me!" sometimes make me wish you needed me more. But you want to feed yourself, and bathe yourself, and go to the potty by yourself. Sometimes, though, you still ask us to hold your hand so you can go into the dark bedroom and get the toy you want from there. And in those moments, I realize that you're still my baby. I know as time goes on you will only become more independent, but I hope to have little flashes of you needing me for a long time.
Watching you explore might be my favorite thing to do. You take in everything around you and you notice the most minuscule little things. You love to check out the world around you and you analyze how things work with a curiosity that I never knew existed. You watch us complete a task once, and you can carry it out yourself right after. You've even learned to ask Google to play your favorite song. I can't wait to see where that mind of yours continues to take you.
You started school this year, and you have made friends, and you have learned. I always knew that having you start school would broaden your world, but I never imagined just how much. You talk like a little parrot now. I can't believe that I was worried about your speech development at 18 months, and now you never stop talking! Your social skills rival that of many adults I know, and you insist Daddy and I "look at you" whenever you are trying to talk to us. I always knew you were friendly, but hearing you talk about your friends, and tell me you want to invite them over has been music to my ears.
You are active. You don't stop unless you are asleep. You're always in motion, and while it can be exhausting, it's also kept me in the best physical shape of my life, even through my eighth month of pregnancy with your little sister! You're running, and jumping, and being a loud little boy for most of your waking hours. And I wouldn't change a thing.
Tonight, on the cusp of your third birthday, we want to tell you how honored we are to be your Mom & Dad. To let you know how lucky we are to be the ones to watch you grow, hold your hand, and share your joys and your trials. You might be growing up, but you will always be our baby.
Happy Third Birthday, Caleb!
Mom & Dad
Dear 18-year-old Jenise,
You probably can't imagine this yet, but yesterday, we turned 32. I know. You probably think 32 seems so... ADULT. But really, it's not that bad.
As a matter of fact, 32 might actually be a prime year for you. In the last year, you've achieved things you didn't think you ever would - like run a half marathon (yes, I'm serious!), maintain a successful photography business while working from home, and reach many women, most of whom you have never met, via your blog. The next year only holds promises of even greater things.
You are married to this amazing man, Eddie (you've actually already met him and been on a date with him, but it didn't work out just yet. Be patient.). He treats you like a queen and loves you probably more than you deserve sometimes. You have a beautiful home you have built together, and an adorable two-year-old boy named Caleb. He is the light of both of your lives. You have a dog named Bella, a Lhasa Also, just like your first dog, Sassy.
The road here hasn't always been the smoothest. But with faith, family, love and support, you've made it to where you are, and you have come out stronger on the other side. But I'd like to give you some words of wisdom, from yourself, a few years down the line.
Love your body. Your body will do some incredible things over the next couple of years. Those boobs you were ashamed of because they grew so fast and were never perky enough? They will nourish your baby for nearly TWO years. They will sustain him completely for the first 6 months of his life. You'll carry your son in that belly that has never been quite flat enough, and there will be nothing on earth that will make you more proud of your body. Keep exercising - your body will do whatever you push it to do - including run 13.1 miles through Walt Disney World Resort. Feed it wisely - stop going through those drive-thrus and eating crappy junk. When you finally start to nourish it well, you'll notice a world of difference. Trust me.
Stop chasing love. Love will find you. Or rather, you will find each other. And it will be sweet, and it will be fiery, and it will leave you weak in the knees. But the day you decide to make it a forever kind of love, will be the day where you are more certain of anything than you have ever been in your entire life. Stop stressing yourself out over love. It will come. And on that note...
Don't put up with anyone mistreating you. This comes to guys and friends. You'll have one relationship in particular that will challenge you and leave you with scars. Don't let those scars get too deep. But if they do get too deep, don't beat yourself up over it, for one day, they will heal (because you will find the kind of love that is perfect for you). Friends will come and go. Friends who you thought would be forever friends will slowly start to fade into the background and new friends will emerge. But anyone who mistreats you or disrespects you shouldn't be in your life.
Don't carve your path in stone. This monumental decision about your career? Go with your gut. You will have a successful run in a profession you love. But you will also find something else that you are passionate about, and you will hone your skills and become good at that. You'll also find that running your home is a lot more work than you ever thought it would be, and you'll adapt to life as a stay-at-home mom, too.
Trust your gut. At 32, it hasn't steered you wrong. It will guide you on everything from your career, to your love life, to being a mother. People will try to give you advice about what you "should" be doing all the time. Your judgement will tell you which way to go. Trust it. You will always make the best decisions for yourself.
Accept yourself. Love yourself for who you are. Don't change your personality because someone else said it was cool to be a certain way. At the end of the day, if you've been true to yourself, you will lay your head on your pillow every night and rest easy. Be your kind, level-headed, easygoing self. You'll appreciate those traits more the older you get.
But most important of all, enjoy the ride. Life is so sweet. Savor every moment. Dance. Read. Hop on a plane. You'll never regret living your life fully.
This week, the blog turns ONE! Even though the archives show posts back as far as February 2015, I didn't officially publish and promote the blog until I had enough content up and was making it a point to publish entries. But anyway, I can hardly believe it. I set about on this fun little endeavor thinking that I'd probably have a few close friends and family reading it. I don't get millions of hits to the site, but I get way more than I ever imagined.
First of all, I want to thank YOU! Yes, you! Thank you for reading and commenting and reposting and coming back to read my thoughts! You are the reason why I continue to put the effort into this little corner of the world. There have been days when I've thought about giving up, and I'll get a message from one of you, or someone will mention to somebody I know that they have been reading my posts and something resonated with them.
Know that in this age of algorithms and popularity-based views on social media networks, every like, share, and comment is so meaningful. I am eternally grateful to those of you who follow along and support all these posts that come from my heart!
I also want to take a minute to thank my husband, Eddie, and Caleb, the little guy who inspired me to start this blog. They are my number one fans, and are always putting up with me taking pictures and saying stuff like, "I can probably use this for the blog." Creating content regularly is no easy feat, and they never complain about my shenanigans.
And two two more friends I want to thank, Cary over at Cary Diaz Photography for capturing these awesome first birthday themed photos for me, and Kristi at Habit Boutique for dressing me perfectly for the occasion! The dress and blouse I am wearing in these photos were provided by her boutique. The colors are perfect and the quality of them is excellent! If you've never been, check it out in the heart of Coral Gables - she has beautiful pieces!
I've learned a lot about myself and about others over the past year of blogging. Some of it good, and some of it bad. But there are three things in particular that I want to share with you, whether you are blogging, working someone else's business, running your own business, or running your family.
1. Believe in yourself. You have to be ready to put in the work, but you also have to know that whatever vision you have for yourself, it can be done. I've learned that my mind is the most powerful tool I have, and vision plus hard work equals results.
2. Stop comparing yourself. I've had to tell myself countless times to stop comparing myself to so-and-so because they have 10k or 100k followers. I haven't been at this that long, and it's a saturated market. I have a unique perspective to offer, and comparing myself to what everyone else has or doesn't have is going to take my eyes off of my end goal. Just be 100% you.
3. There is an amazing world of kindness out there, you just have to be open to the opportunity. Early in my journey, a girl named Bessy (check her blog out here) reached out to me. She invited me into a group of blogger friends that she had made and they were all so kind and supportive. It was incredible to see how they embraced me so quickly. And like those women, I have found so many who are kind and helpful. Women who have helped me to be lifted when I was down about something. Women who told me to brush off negative comments or imitators (yes, I had someone copy my blog name ::insert eye roll here::). Women who empower other women and want to see nothing more than for them to succeed. Had I not responded to Bessy's initial message, I would have missed out on this amazing group of women. I've also made some amazing virtual BFFs, who I hope to highlight for you in the coming months.
But birthdays mean presents, right?! I'm not asking you for presents, but I AM giving some goodies away! I was going to give one bigger gift, but I thought it would be more fun to have multiple winners. So each week this month, I'm going to be giving something away! I'll be giving away products I LOVE and use often so that you can benefit from them, too! So check back weekly in the month of April to see what I have for you. The giveaway will open Monday morning and will close Thursday evening. I'll announce the winner Friday morning. And I'll be doing this for four weeks!
Thanks for all the love, friends!
Giveaway #1: Fueled by Caffeine & Jesus (grubby toddler hand not included)
When I was about 6 months into this stay-at-home mom gig, I still hadn't adjusted. I was feeling like I had to do everything at home perfectly and like I had to get everything right all the time. I'm not even sure how I came across it, but I somehow happened upon The Super Mom Myth by Becky Kopitzke. Her book pointed out so many things that I was doing and stressing over that I didn't need to be! It really changed my outlook on being a mom and a wife. And I want you to experience that, so included in my first giveaway is this book, along with this adorable one of a kind mug, complete with my handwriting, made by my friends at Creative Sparkles, and a sleeve of Nespresso coffee pods. Follow the directions below to enter and win!
I received no compensation for any of these products. Clothing was provided by Habit Boutique free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.
If you follow my Instagram account, you know I have spent the last few weeks preparing for Caleb's second birthday. Last year, we didn't do a birthday party and instead took a trip to Disney with family. This year, when Eddie mentioned that he would love to throw a party for Caleb, I started my Pinterest board right away (Of course).
I decided on a Neverland theme, with the idea that I could incorporate elements of Peter Pan (a classic) and Jake and the Neverland Pirates (which Caleb loves and recognizes - as a matter of fact, every pirate is either "Jake" or "Hook"). Pinterest is a dangerous place, and my ideas quickly spun out of control. Thankfully, my parents are amazing at executing ideas and were able to let me borrow a LOT of things they already had. I took most of the photos myself, and in doing so while also trying to enjoy the party, I did miss a few details, but for the most part, they're included! Read on for party details...
I can hardly believe that today is your second birthday. It feels like just yesterday we found out we were expecting you, our perfect little creation. But lo and behold, two whole years have gone by since I first held you in my arms.
Watching you grow has been nothing short of miraculous. I see your personality coming through all the time, and your sense of humor is already leaps and bounds ahead of what I ever thought it would be. You have an uncanny ability to make me laugh and smile even on my worst days. You are, as you say, "fummy."
Your second year of life has brought so much adventure and energy with it. I am learning along with you, and to quote you, "my goodness!" How much I have to learn! Every day is an adventure, a learning experience, a load of fun. You have definite likes and dislikes. You love raisins, cheese, cookies, and all kinds of food, really. You don't like being dirty and you love the bath. You love Mickey and Cookie Monster and you love to explore. Just yesterday you searched all over the front yard and down the street for "Hook."
They say that the twos are terrible. We've seen a few snippets of the behavior that causes people to call them terrible, but I'm so excited to see you learn and grow even more. Two is going to be an amazing year for you and for us! I'm going to try to not let your twos be remembered as terrible. I'm going to try to remember that you are still growing and learning and that the big world is a tough place to navigate and you can get overwhelmed by it all. I may slip up, and we may have some rough moments, but I will do my very best!
We are going to fill your next year up with even more adventures and fun. You're going to keep growing, and learning so much. After all, this will be the year you start school! We are so excited to embark on the next year with you. While I know that memories fade, I will try to document as much as I can for you, while still being present and enjoying the moments we experience together. I always want to remember your smirk, and your funny grin, and the way you say, "Bye! Soon! Love You!" I want to remember how you push my face and Dad's together so you can see us kiss each other. I want to remember how you hook your arms around my neck and nuzzle into my hair. I want to remember how you look when you are napping with your Daddy. I want to remember how you call out "MOM!" every so often, just to make sure I'm still around.
Every day my love for you grows. Some days it's all I can do to keep from smothering you with hugs and kisses. Yes, your mom - the non-snuggler - has a hard time not snuggling with you. I also have a hard time disciplining you, but I know it's necessary. But I certainly do not have a hard time loving you.
But I can hardly believe how quickly the time is going. The saying is true, "time stops for no one." So I am going to make the days count. I'm going to make the hours and the minutes count. And I'm sure next year, I will come to this day and ask myself the same question I have asked myself for the last 2 years, "Where did the year go?"
And I know that one year from now, I will be even more amazed by you, and even more in love with you than I am today. Because you, little guy, are pretty amazing.
Cheers to two, and everything that comes with it.
I love you.
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.