Hassleback Chicken Recipe

Challenge Day #12 – What is your favorite recipe

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I have perfected my hassleback chicken recipe. I used to look at my recipe constantly just to make sure I get everything right. It also took me FOREVER to prepare, but not anymore!

I found it on Pinterest one day when I wanted to make something different for my husband and I am so glad I did. You can find the recipe HERE and you HAVE to try it if you haven’t already. Her post has way better pictures, it’ll leave you hungry.

SPINACH + GOAT CHEESE HASSELBACK CHICKEN
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOK TIME: 25 mins
TOTAL TIME: 35 mins
Serves: 4 servings
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (or feta)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (aprrox. 1.5 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ⅓ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (or cheddar)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to350 F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil, set aside.
  2. In a large skillet add a splash of olive oil,cook spinach over medium until slightly wilted (approx. 3-5 min). Add crumbled goat cheese and continue to cook until cheese is melted (about 1 min).Stir in red pepper flakes (if using) Set aside.
  3. Place chicken breasts on prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut slits across the chicken breast about ¾ of the way through chicken breast (careful not to cut all the way through) about ½-3/4 inch apart (approx. 6-8 slits per chicken breast). Stuff each slit with spinach/goat cheese mixture.
  4. Generously salt and pepper top of chicken breast and season with paprika. Sprinkle ¼ of the mozzarella cheese among each chicken breast.
  5. Place chicken breasts in the oven and bake for 20-25 min. If desired switch oven from bake to broil for the last 10 min. of cooking (for more bubbly and browned cheese)

Go ahead and give it a go! You will NOT be disappointed if you’re a chicken lover.

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

How to be as Carefree as a Child

You ever wonder how children can be so carefree? How do they live so happily? Sometimes the simplest things can be the solution to our crazy lives. I’ve come up with a couple reasons as to why children are so carefree and as adults how to be as carefree as a child.

How to be as carefree as a child

My husband came to me yesterday with a smile on his face. His question was, “Do you remember when you would wake up as a child, walk into the kitchen and see your parents running around but you had no idea why. It was like stepping into a new world.” And I agreed, because I TOTALLY remember waking up and just waking into the kitchen and only wanting breakfast. Mom would be cooking, dad would be getting ready to tend to the garden. I had no idea what the plans were for the day, but I was ready.

Children are on a completely different mindset than adults, BUT we function the same way. We have a brain. We have a schedule and routine. We have friends and family. We have responsibilities. So what is it that sets us apart?

Main Reasons Children are Carefree

  1. They can wake up and not worry about working to bring in income. Money is a huge factor that brings stress whether rich or poor. Children don’t fear because it’s already there.
  2. Ignorance is bliss. It’s true, the less you know, the less you have to worry about.
  3. They know they’re loved. Having parents they trust wholeheartedly is pretty much equal to having a hero. The parents are the hero.

How to Become as Carefree as a Child

  1. Exercise. What do children do more than anything? PLAY. Its been proven Physical activity releases endorphin’s (natural painkillers) in the brain which in turn make you feel better. So play a game, go to the beach, make a goal to get as much “playtime” as possible. Life is not always work.
  2. Be informed. I’ve found that the feeling of not knowing can bring anxiety. So look it up, figure out the ins and outs. Then step back and take a good look. Is it really something to worry about? If so, make a plan, but don’t let it destroy you. You are stronger than the problem.
  3. Have a close group of people you can trust. Having a support group is essential because these are the people that help you when you’re down.

I hope this helps if you’ve been feeling a little wackly lately. Adulting can be hard, but not impossible. Take one step at a time ^_^

 

#TheDailyPost #Carefree

 

Any book suggestions?

Challenge Day #11 – The last book you read

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This would be the 4th book of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. The book is title Grey. Its the book from Christian Grey’s point of view. I’m a female so reading a point of a “guys” point of view is intriguing. Yes, I know the author is not a male, but in my fantasy world of books I don’t know that.

I still haven’t finished it so I can’t really say anything about it. But…Let me go down my list of recently read books and I find books from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Luis Lowry, Neil Gaiman,  and Orson Scott Card. I guess I like reading books that have a series to it. Gives me something to look forward to.

Anyhow, to you have any suggestions? I would LOVE to hear about any books I should read. I think I’m pretty much into romance, comedy, drama. Not into gruesome, gory, mysteries. Let me know!

 

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Freebie for bloggers! How to increase your Pinterest followers

I have $15 of Tailwind to give out, anybody want it?! Sign up Here

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If you’re a new blogger trying to gain followers through Pinterest, I suggest using Tailwind.

What is does is help you schedule Pins from Pinterest or your site onto days and times that are poppin, allowing a greater chance of people re-pinning your posts! The site does an awesome job of showing you how to do this step by step.

This is great because you won’t have to do the work manually anymore. I just started using it yesterday and honestly can’t get enough, haha. I’m obsessed with pinning. It’s very easy and a huge time-saver.

I wanted to share because I know some of us here are trying to gain a following to eventually sell
a business or get awareness out of whatever your blogging and this tool will help you get there.

Make sure to use my link to increase your traffic on Pinterest! – Free Month of Tailwind Plus

Robocop Review

Challenge Day #10 – Rate the last movie you watched

31 Day Blog Challenge, This list of challenges will help you as a new blogger and also help with writers block. Readers will also get an idea of who you are. Good Luck!

Yes, I am late because that movie came out months ago. But I actually don’t go to the movies that often anymore and good thing because they’ve gotten pricey. Instead I watch my movies on Hulu or Netflix. Or I use the few dollars I make on the Google Rewards app (free money!!) and purchase/rent a movie from Google Play.

I think I have a pretty good judgement when picking movies, (check out my 4 Movie to Watch post) but last night was thunder storming and the Netflix users on the account were all on. I had to go to Hulu to pick a movie and I had already seen all the good movies. So I went with the next best thing.

I decided to watch Robocop last night. I thought it was actually a pretty good movie. My husband started watching 30 mins into the movie and was surprised at how many “good actors” the movie had. There was Gary Oldman (we call him Gordon from Batman), Samuel L Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K Williams, and just a bunch more. The only one I was surprised about was Marianne Jean-Baptiste because she’s in my new favorite series Blindspot.

Anyway, I’m not a professional critique so please judge easily. Personally I think the movie was well written. It had a plot, secret agenda’s, unexpected curve balls, all the good stuff. Not too “dramatic” so you don’t find yourself getting bored at monologues or anything like that, since this is an action movie. Action, well delivered but for something that’s supposed to be based in the future I expected a little more sci-fi graphics. Actors did a good job and the main character was okaay. Filming was…basic. Would I watch again? Probably not.

I watched for the sake of the original, and wasn’t disappointed. I think the story might have changed a little but I’m okay with it. Overall…I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Did you watch Robocop? Am I way off on the rating or spot on. Let me know what you think.

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Planning a Wedding in 2 Months

Ever wonder how celebrities plan their big days in a matter of weeks? You might think it all has to do with money. Well let me just tell you that is not entirely true.

EngagementAnnouncementIdeas forSocial Media

Last year Zeke and I decided to get married. We didn’t have a large budget in hand ($7,000) compared to the national average but knew it was possible. We had been together for about 3 years and knew we always wanted to get married. Zeke and I were joined at the hips from the start. At the beginning of last year we decided to start saving for the big day. Around my Birthday in August I had a wonderful surprise and found out Baby Esther was on the way. We met with our family and decided it was best to get married before the baby arrived. The planning of our wedding then began for the settled date of November, giving us 2 months.

For the most part, any woman who wants to get married has been planning their wedding since they can remember. The dresses, the flowers, the cake, the bouquet. If you’re like me you probably already had a Pinterest board before you were even engaged. However that board didn’t consist of tips for budgeting, tips for finding vendors, etc. So your mind is probably going 100 mph trying to figure out what to do.

How to Plan

Luckily my mother is a florist and event planner. She had done many weddings before mine came around. Planning a wedding in two months is not something she had done, but not something she saw impossible either. So below I have created a guide as to how to do it. I’ve created the guide so that it fits any budget so this could potentially help anyone planning a wedding in a short amount of time.

So here goes, the Guide on How to Planning a Wedding in 2 Months with a budget in mind.

EngagementAnnouncementIdeas forSocial Media (1)

  • Get a notebook– This may seem insignificant now, but your life will depend on it later. Jot down the colors you want for your wedding, the flowers you want, the feel or theme. All of it, write it down on a single notebook that you will carry everywhere.
  • Get a planning app- I used The Knot Wedding Planner for my Android. I mostly used it for my checklist but it has a bunch of other useful features. Wedding Planner – Wedding Wire is another great app, I would look at the two before deciding which to use. When you put in your wedding date the checklist will adjust to your timeline so that the to-do list will mostly go in line with what you need to do first. You will look at this and your notebook daily for the next 2 months.
  • Figure out your budget – First thing we did was check our budget. Find out how much we had in cash, and the max budget that we were willing to spend. Zeke and I did not want to start our marriage in debt so we firmly stood by our budget.
  • Find out your 3 priorities – For us it was the venue, the photography and the food. This was key, once we figured out how much would be spending on these it let us know what we could spend on next. Talk with your partner and figure out what you are willing to spend on. This is your day after all so make sure you spend on what really counts.
    • Venue– If finding the venue is one of your priorities I suggest you make it your first. I say this because you want to be able to pick a date that works for you, and if a venue cannot accommodate then you will need to find another. If you are flexible and stuck on a venue then you might want to go with a date that they have available and work around that.  I went with the latter.
    • Food– We wanted to make sure our guests would enjoy the food and not have any complaints. We tested our cake and plates before choosing our vendor. I chose a distant-family-member who owned a restaurant after taste testing. It was delicious and came with a family discount.
    • Photography– Earlier that year we had participated in a wedding in California and fell in love with how the photographer worked. He made it feel so natural we forgot we were posing and the pictures spoke for themselves. I was excited to find out he could make it on our weekend and did not mind flying him out to the DC area.
  • Send out invitations – Why is this important? Most vendors price their items based on size or quantity. You want to know how many people you are serving and how big a space you need. So mindfully create that guest list and send out those invitations ASAP to get the RSVP’s. Some of my family doesn’t check their email as often as I wish they did, but if yours does I encourage you to use Evite . You can find free invitations, save the dates, etc AND get instant replies from your guests. You can also relay important information this way and it helps if you don’t have the home addresses of friends and family. Most couples send out invitations 3 months in advance so time is of the essence.
  • Figure out your budget – Now that you know how much you are spending on the important stuff, now you can move on to the next. Here you re-evaluate what you want at your wedding. Use your family and friends as resources IF possible. Things you’ll want to consider are (if they weren’t your top 3): your wedding dress and his suit, the flowers, the music, the hair-do, the make-up,  cocktails, hor d’oeuvres, keepsakes, gifts for the groomsmen and the bridesmaids, transportation, fees, etc.
  • Delegate – I was able to do this because my family was ALL HANDS ON DECK for this wedding. Once you find out who is willing to help and how much things will cost, make a list and delegate. This also includes the groom, yes the groom. Normally he gets to sit back, relax, watch you pick the colors, go to appointments, etc. Not this time, no sir. Zeke’s responsibility was the groomsmen, making sure the photographer and his needs were taken care of, and figuring out the music situation. I had 3 younger sisters and a to-be sister-in-law who were my lifesavers and my mother. So make copies of that notebook with your ideas and hand them out for reference.
  • Run, Run, and Run– I don’t know about you but just writing this makes me feel rushed, and you should feel rushed. These 2 months you will live, eat, and breathe wedding. Nothing else in the world matters other than the wedding. Your phone will buzz constantly with texts and phone calls and emails. You will have people who will want to help, TAKE THEIR HELP. Believe me you need as much as you can get. It may be hard to trust people and think they understand your vision so make you make copies of that handbook and give them out.
  • Prepare for the Wedding–  You will get to the point where everything is done. You will sit there an think, did I forget something? After everything has been ordered, scheduled and made, you will check twice. That’s fine and all, but don’t forget to prepare yourself. Take this moment to sit down and breathe it all in. You are getting married. So go to the spa, get a fake tan, do you nails, get your hair done and take it in. Slow it down and wait for your wedding day.
  • Check your budget one last time: Hopefully you still have a something left in your wallet, if necessary, put money aside to tip vendors.

Planning my wedding in 2 months has to be the most craziest thing I have ever done. But it was sooo worth it. I had a beautiful wedding with music, and great food, and great people. If you would like to know what I did to save money and how I picked my vendors, wait for my upcoming post How to save Thousands on your Wedding. I will also be posting the pictures for my wedding soon to hopefully give some ideas on how to create a rustic look for you wedding at a low cost.

5 Items on my bucket list

Challenge Day #9 – What’s on your bucket list

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I told myself to prepare for today’s challenge when I first read the list, but I’ve been pretty busy. I don’t mean to prepare as in create one, but as in try to remember all the things I said I would do.

I’ve created a short list of 5 items on my bucket list. Enjoy!

  1. Travel to most if not all 50 states. Or at least the major attractions.
  2. Hike a mountain in Europe.
  3. Loose my fear of deep water and go on a cruise.
  4. Become rich and successful (as I’ve mentioned on my About home page, haha)
  5. Visit Mauritius

It may look like an easy list, but don’t let it fool you. I’ve  grown to be a scaredy cat unfortunately. i.e. missing planes, cruise ships sinking, bears up in the mountains. I mean it’s highly unlikely that these things will happen, BUT THEY CAN HAPPEN. So my bucket list should actually say overcome fear, but that wouldn’t be fun.

What’s on your bucket list? (almost felt like typing “What’s in your wallet?” like the commercial.)

 

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

My Dark Side

Challenge Day #8 – Biggest Pet Peeve

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I’m not sure today’s challenge puts any blogger in a good position. Unless your biggest pet peeve sounds something like someone saying they wish that everyone would just get along, which is unrealistic. So I’m gonna have to be grossly real on this one. My biggest pet peeve is when someone “acts” uneducated (dumb,)

There will be occasions when certain people do not want to do what they are being asked so they will act dumb. Or I will be out in public and see someone just being a riot for no reason. That really grinds my gears. I think there’s an age limit to how long you can behave that way and  get away with it. But at the age of 27, if you don’t know how to behave or take on responsibilities, that kills me.

It makes me want to walk up to the person and just say Hey? Do you know what manners are? Do you have responsibilities? Do you not care about being well behaved? Its not just for your benefit but for the benefit of society. The ONLY time I think it is somewhat acceptable at the age of 27 is if you’re drunk with a group of other drunk people at a the hot spot in town where in that case, everyone is acting a riot, so it’s okay.

Anyway. Just writing about my pet peeve bothers me so I think I’m done with this one Do you have any pet peeve’s? Make sure to get it off your chest, it somewhat feels good.

 

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Working at home as a dream job

Challenge Day #7 – What’s your dream job

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I never really thought about this until I had Esther. Previous to that my dream job was working for a big company, with great benefits, where I would be in management, making six figures. I have  now re-evaluated that dream. I now dream of working at home.

I dream of having an office at home, running my own company which I am actually starting to prusue now (it is in the creation and test phase.) I dream of being able to take vacation whenever I want for however long without worrying. I dream of being my own boss and being a leader to aspiring individuals who could also one day be their own boss. I dream of creating opporunities and helping others in their endeavors. I dream pretty big.

None of this is impossible, it just honestly takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice. No one wants to sacrifice time, because time is money. So no one wants to loose out on that. But its not a sacrifice if it’s an investment for a feasible outcome. You will get back the amount of time you put in.

Ultimately I want to do what I can to get out of debt, provide the best I can for my daughter, and live debt free. Live a happy fulfilling life.

Tell me what your dream job is, and what are you doing to get there?

 

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Kindness

Challenge Day #6 – Your last random act of kindness

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Recently I was able to participate in a group activity that envolved cleaning a daycare room for families in financial struggles. It was the Adopt a Playroom program, and you could either volunteer to take care of children or clean the playroom. You might think it would look different from other daycares, but it didn’t. It catered to the same needs other children have in a daycare. We were able to clean the room up in no time. We had time leftover too look at the donations people drop off. These are looked at for wear and tear and sorted out. The items that are usable are then brought outside (kind of like a yard sale style) so that families in the community can pick what they like for free. When we brought the items outside the children flocked to where we were. Picking an old version of Battlefield, or a fairly used stroller cheerfully. We still had another batch to bring out, so on the second time around before I even got out the door another child asked for what I had in hand. I handed it to her and went outside empty handed. There was a kitchen set that is too big for a child to take, so the manager asked the kids if they wanted it in the playroom or at the playground. They wanted it outside but it was made out of compressed wood. It would ruin if left outside in the rain.

To be honest it broke my heart , because I just had Esther and I try to buy her what she needs. I cannot imagine not being able to provide basic needs for my child. This place tries to do just that, provide basic needs to less fortunate families. I was happy I could come and leave the playroom spotless as its very important these kids play in a clean and safe environment. I know how important it is for a child to grow and develop properly and I was able to do that for these kids. I might not come everyday to do it, but this was my last random act of kindness.

A piece of me was conflicted. There were people there who almost looked offended. My group had to wear a shirt to identify ourselves. I have never in my life felt so ashamed. I didn’t want these people to think or feel like a charity case. It was not my intention in any way at all. And if wearing this shirt made me look in any way better than them I wanted no part of it.  The children were innocent and thankful and I came for them. I came because if it were my child, I would appreciate someone helping me if I fell short of something. But there were a few whose feelings I could not interpret and I felt ashamed. I believe that as a defense to not look weak they put a front. Which is what I would do. When I am at my weakest I refuse to look weak and refuse to accept help because I am in denial or simply don’t know how to accept someones help.

I encourage you to step out of shoes occasionally and participate in someone else’s life. It’s so easy to become complacent and blind to what is happening just miles away from your home. Even if it’s just donating shoes, or books, or toys, someone will GLADLY take it from your hands. And come prepared to have unknown feelings but know that it is worth it in the end. It might not be wanted, but it is needed.

 

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Why do we have Nightmares?

#TheDailyPost #Nightmare

Have you found yourself having nightmares lately but don’t know why? Below is a short list of why we get nightmares.

  1. Eating habits – Yes sir, that late snack you had, full of carbs my dear friend could be the culprit. Try treating yourself to a glass of water instead if you find yourself being hungry. Eating food that you are unaware you are allergic to could also be the case.
  2. Life changing event – Death in a dream could sometimes be the interpretation of a life event. The sudden end of a relationship, or job, or personal conflict.  Could be anything really, but our dreams are a continuation of what we think of during the day.
  3. Medication – Did you start taking pills for something? Prescription drugs can alter your sleeping pattern.
  4. Sleeping disorders – Unfortunately, already having a sleeping issue could cause you to have nightmares.

Hopefully reading this will bring light into why you’ve had nightmares. I know sometimes I will have horrible dreams in regards to my husband or family and will then wake up trying to interpret what it means. In reality I might have had a late night snack. Or it can simply mean a stage in my life has ended and I need to move on to the next. Don’t fret, sweet dreams are right around the corner.

4 Movies to Watch

Challenge Day #4 – Favorite movies you never get sick of watching

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This goes without question, one of the movies that I will watch and watch again is Pride and Prejudice. It’s probably why I chose my Favorite Quote from Jane Austen. I love that it’s timeless, I love that it’s traditional, I love the scenery. My mother had 4 daughters so it’s somewhat relatable to me. When I’m home alone and have nothing to watch it’s my go to. Second favorite is one that recently released, The Age of Adaline. It’s far fetched from reality but a great love story. I’m a sucker for romantic movies, what can I say. On days that my hubby is home and want to watch a movie, its either the recent Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I hear Wonder Woman is coming out, along with Aquaman and probably Flash to finally lead to the Justice League, and we simply cannot miss anything. So we watch, and re-watch and watch again trying to guess what will happen in the coming movies. The action is superb, the sound is incredible, the story-line well like I said we can’t get enough of. So there you go, my favorite movies.

What do you think of my favorites, and do you have any? Star Wars is next on the list, but we all know that you can’t just watch it out of the blue. You plan your weekend around watching Star Wars.

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Best Childhood Memory

 

Challenge Day #3 – Best Childhood Memory

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My childhood memory is more like a scene from a movie. Similar to a serene and calm view, with the trees and the grass moving as the breeze comes in. More of a feeling then an actual event. When I was child most of my family was in Long Island, New York. We would take 4-5 hour drives depending on the traffic but we would feel like it took forever. We made about three to four trips a year. Twice in the summer and twice around the holidays. I thought it was the coolest thing going to New York. It was were the latest fashion was so I would save my money to go shopping there. I had three younger sisters so going to see my cousins who were mostly boys was exciting. They were always doing crazy things that we just could not figure out why, but enjoyed the company. I would catch up on the lingo that was happening there and bring it back home. I remember thinking my town was always a year behind with what’s “in” (social networks didn’t exist yet.) I had absolutely no care because my parents paid us absolutely no mind unless it was about our meals. I didn’t care to get caught if we were running around making noise, or jumping off decks into the pool, or riding around the backyard in the ATV. We would stay up all night talking about family gossip, or planning on what we would do when we saw each other again. When I started getting into my preteen years it brought additional excitement. A cute boy who was out town? Definitely a recipe for a summer crush. My NY trips were unforgettable. And till this day, although I no longer run around, I still enjoy those trips because we reminisce on the feeling.

If you would like to participate on the challenge, see my Blog Challenge Day 3 for the rules.

Storm in January

#TheDailyPost #Storm

January 2nd

5PM- I attend a house warming party which was also kinda like a later New Years party on Saturday.

8PM- I’m 24 weeks (about 6 mths) pregnant so I do what all ladies need to do, use the ladies room. I find out that its not a regular visit and the leaking won’t stop

8:30PM Run to the closest hospital which is less then 2 miles away, not the greatest hospital, but a hospital none-the-less.

9PM- Why the heck are they not attending me! It’s been an hour, the leaking still hasn’t stopped, I’m pregnant, can I please get some service? I urge the front desk lady to get me a room. I get one in 5 mins

10:30PM- After having blood taken out, my vitals taken and being visited by 3 doctors one FINALLY tells me they don’t have an OBGYN available as that part of the hospital is no longer in service. They will be rush me to the closest hospital in an ambulance. The doctor also mentions that his wife has had 3 miscarriages but that they now have 5 children. I am young and shouldn’t worry. …WTF???? are you telling me I might loose my baby and its okay because I’m young?!??!

Ambulance-I start to get contractions and measure them. They are 5 mins apart.

11PM-I get to the new hospital which I am familiar with. They run tests and take more blood and ask real questions. These people know what they are doing, but what is happening to me? Am I in labor? Is the baby okay? What does it mean that the baby breached?

11:30PM- I get my own room. I still have contractions so they give me medications to stop the contractions. My babies heart rate is through the roof. I will need to give birth but before I do the baby needs steroids so it’s (at this point I still didn’t know what it was. That Wednesday I was supposed to find out) lungs are not ready for breathing this small.

12AM- They give me the steroids, I’m running a fever so they try to control that. I have a catheter, 5 nurses, 3 doctors and my OBGYN in the room. I have no idea what’s going on and the only person I recognize is my husband. I try to stay as calm as possible for my baby.

I sleep through the night. Have a specific diet and await my second steroid shot which is 24 hrs from the last one.

Monday 4 or 5 ishAM- They recently gave me the second shot. The contractions are coming in full throttle. They say its time for the baby to come. She is breached and I have an infection so it will HAVE to be a C-section which I did not want.

9AM sharp- Esther is born. It’s a girl. She weighs 1.5 lbs and is 11 inches long.

This was only the beginning of a rough, traumatic, and hopeful start to Esther and our lives. January was a complete storm. It took us by surprise. We were unprepared and caught in the dark. The NICU was our shelter, our umbrella in the storm. With their support groups, what I consider the best doctors in the area and awesome nurses I was able to be positive and sane.

For more on Esther or NICU Tips for You  check out my blog.

If you’re going through a situation and have found writing a blog to be an outlet, let me know and leave a comment. I would love to hear about it.

Journey through the Web

I never thought blogging would bring so much interest. When Tumblr came out a few years ago I tried it out, put some pictures up, tried telling a story but it really didn’t resonate with me…probably because I didn’t have much going on.

Technology has changed much from then, so much more is done through the web now, so much information can be passed along. It’s hard to imagine what it will be like 5-10 years from now.

Currently, I have committed to blogging not only as an outlet for me to speak out openly, but because I feel like I have something to give. What better way to provide a service than through the internet. I can reach out to thousands of people in a instant, not worrying if I will be heard. I know that with one post I can reach a person, who will then reach another and create a chain reaction. This person might not reply or comment, and might not think much of it then, but hopefully they will later.

This will be a journey for me, one that I started to first let out some feelings about my daughter who was at the NICU for 81 days. I firstly want to let that community know that I 100% support you and am with you. My journey will then move onto posts about being a mother and a wife. I could also put in some posts about current events because I believe so strongly on being heard in that aspect. I am a young latina professional who deserves to be heard.

Back in the day people would take journeys through the wilderness to find themselves (some still might.) Today however I start a journey through the web. I will find resources on the web, I will find an outlet on the web, and this will help me create a path for myself. Some might not agree, and that’s perfectly okay. I am obviously not going to be close minded and make this my only journey, but it will be an uncommon one.

What makes you happy?

Today is day 3 of the blogger challenge. I realized yesterday that I’m actually supposed to take the challenge from someone and pass it on to three other bloggers. However, I started the challenge to make myself accountable so no one challenged me really. There’s no harm in challenging three other bloggers so here go! I challenge  Moonchildja,  lifeandshit16, and popsieza.

Rules:

  • Post once a day on your blog.  Your first post can tell people why you are participating in this challenge.
  • Challenge 3 other bloggers.
  • Link back to this post so we can follow other people who are part of our challenge too.
  • Post your blog link below so we can follow along on your progress.
  • Please do NOT worry if you miss a day, the point is to try to blog daily to get in the habit!

Happy Blogging!

Challenge Day #3 – What makes you happy?

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Not such a tough one. There are a couple of things that make me happy but let me start with saying Esther, my daughter, by far surpasses all of them. She’s mostly all smiles, and just seeing how fast she grows truly amazes me. If you haven’t had a chance to read my other posts, Esther was born at 24 weeks and is now 6 mths! She has shown remarkable progress and I couldn’t be happier. Second would be when my husband reads my mind. He might just be making a guess at want I want to eat and hit it right on the nail, but regardless having him know what I want/need makes me happy. And third would be just spending time with quality friends and family. Whether it’s going out for a drink with the ladies, or chilling at the house with some wine and a good conversation, spending quality time with quality people makes me happy. Who you surround yourself with matters, it can change your attitude in life, or just in a day to day basis. So I make sure I surround myself with people that don’t bring me down, that support me, and that challenge me to succeed.

Let me know what makes you happy! Silly I know, but you gotta think about it. Then make sure you do enough of it 🙂

If you missed my first two blogs check the links below!
Blog Challenge Day 1
Blog Challenge Day 2

Favorite Quote from Jane Austen

Yesterday I had mentioned that I had accepted the 31 day blog challenge. So I am keeping myself accountable for it and continuing with day 2. Today was a rough day that started at 6 am and it is now 12 am next day, long day BUT productful. Finished with a fuzzy feeling from Riesling, and …my husband just to got a spider for me that was on the wall…scary creatures.

Blog Challenge Day 2 – Favorite Quote/s

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My favorite quote? I can’t really say I have one, but if I’d have to pick one it would be: “There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. 

I chose this in light of the recent events in the US right now and because I love that book. I find it to be SO true at my age and at this point in history. The older I get, the more I start to see the reality in society. The more I understand, the more I am unhappy. But I do not let it rob me of being happy. Because of my baby Esther I am forced to believe and create moments in my life that bring pleasure and happiness. It pushes me to try and create a world she can live in. I am no activist, but if I can make a difference in her life and make sure that she can enjoy life, I will try my darnest to make it happen. And I might turn people away with my next comment, but I believe in God, and I believe that He will pave the way so that my family and I will be able to enjoy the life He has provided to us. Especially her and challenges she has faced. (if you haven’t had a chance to take a look at my Family Life posts, it explains some of her times at the NICU.)

Jane might have written this as a book, but she definitely was speaking about society around her, and it holds true even now. But we cannot let that hold us down. I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and do something different that will help someone else in these troubling times. Do something out of the ordinary. And enjoy life. Leave a comment, tell me what you think.

Edit: Check Blog Day 3 to see the rules on the 31 Day Blog Challenge  .

5 Random facts of a Blogger

Today I start the 31 day blog challenge. I’ve decided to take blogging seriously and as such have committed to write a blog a day for 31 days. This of course won’t stop me from posting an additional blog if there is something that I want to share, but I hope that this will make me feel accountable for my blog and as such help me start a routine.

Challenge day 1 – Self Portrait and 5 random facts about yourself.

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When I think random, I think the first thing that comes to mind, so below will be the first 5 facts that come to mind. I promise to make them as interesting as possible.

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Fact #1 – I like to find new places to eat. I’ve moved about 3 times in the past five years, and every time I move I make it a goal to find all the hot stops to eat. It makes getting to know the area fun, and it also gives me a place to take visitors/guests when they are in town. I’m a huge foodie, so I make sure I know where there is a good place to eat for different occasions whether it be a bar or a family friendly restaurant.

Fact #2 – I bike. I got into riding a bicycle around 2 years ago with my now husband. It started as being a recreational hobby then became a sport to exercise. This also became the means of transportation for getting to know the area. I feel like when you drive you might not have time to notice everything, but biking will give you an appropriate speed to observe and move along at a good pace. All while exercising! Can’t beat that.

Fact #3 – I like to organize. or at least I think I do. I have what you call, a disorganized organization. I know some people don’t believe in this but I do. I will know what exactly I have in that pile of clothes, or what paper is in what stack, or what food is in what stuffed cupboard. Sometimes I will clean that disorganization up, but it’ll get messy in no time.

Fact #4 – I think I have OCD. Sometimes before going to bed I will walk around my apartment and make sure there isn’t anything that bothers me or out of place. Cupboards that aren’t closed. A running sink that has drops coming out. A toothbrush out of place. I don’t do it all the time, but I do catch myself doing it most of the time.

Fact #5 – I prefer warm weather. Hot, steaming, humid weather. Sometimes I will sit in my car on a hot summer day with the door open and just soak the heat in. Not always, but I prefer 10x over a cold, brisk, wintery day.

So there you have it, my 5 random facts. Don’t be shy and leave a comment, let me know if you share any in common, or have any random facts of your own. I’d love to hear from you!

Edit: Check Blog Day 3 to see the rules on the 31 Day Blog Challenge  .

Biking as an exercise

 

 

My interest in biking started when I first used the Capital BikeShare in DC to take my husbands cousin on a tour. My love for biking started when I bought my first bike as an adult. I jumped on Craigslist and searched for a decently priced bike in my size. My then boyfriend wanted to get me started on exercising in a fun way. Getting to know DC on a bike while exercising sounded like an awesome idea.

Just to give you an idea on my thoughts of physical activity, I was that skinny little girl that would go to an adult mens soccer game  and jump in because I always thought I could play hard enough. Obviously, I would end up getting hurt and my dad would end up pulling me out of the game, but my stubborn thirst for competition continued throughout the years. Having my boyfriend ask me to join him in these biking tours almost seemed like a challenge, so I was up for it and spent $500 on my bike. It was a cerulean blue Lemond Tourmalet, barely used and in awesome condition.

If you’re seeking to bike as a form of exercise, I advise you buy a bike that fits your size. You will see tons of bikes that look “cool,” but don’t shop with your eyes as this will lead to you buying something that won’t suit you. Figure out if you want to do mountain biking, or road biking. Will you want a fixed (single speed) geared bike or a bike with different speeds. What kind of tires will you need, does your area have bumpy or smooth roads? All these things and more will need to be considered when biking a bike. Most bikestores will have a helpful salesman to help you choose, or you can have a handy husband that does all the research for you and tells you what to buy. 🙂

Second piece of advise would be to find out how much exercise are you looking for. Is this an occasional recreational bike ride thats 2 to 3 times a week or daily? How intense do you want this to be? To be honest, it can become addicting especially when you realize just how fast you can go and get a rush from the thrill. Just make sure you are prepared with the proper equipment and are always SAFE. Its important to know the consistency of your rides because it will help you decide how much you should invest in your equipment. This includes a helmet, a pump for your tires, gloves, front and back lights, and more.

We first started our “bike tours” by trying to get to know DC as much as we could. We figured that if we lived so close to the nations capital there should be no reason to not know the ins and outs. We first started with the monuments, then moving on to the restaurants, then to neighborhoods, learning shortcuts to here from there. We made goals as to what we wanted to accomplish. This made the time go by so fast since we were exploring the area and it was FUN! We simply could not get enough and looked forward to our next ride. Make sure you set goals so that you have something to look forward to, it will make it so much easier.

After riding around, getting familiar with our bikes and the area, that is when the exercise peace started to kick in. We wanted to crank it up and go faster and farther. We started looking for trails, and started tracking our activity. Strava is an awesome app that keeps record of the distance, the speed, ascendance, and almost anything you can think of. This is when I really started to become competetive and tried to keep up, if not do better then my husband.

Looking back I am amazed at how far I’ve gotten. Biking really becomes a lifestyle and second nature. Biking to work all of a sudden makes sense and you wonder why you didn’t do it before. Biking on a trail becomes an afternoons journey and you get home feeling good about the day and glad you enjoyed it. The best part is, YOU WERE EXERCISING THE WHOLE TIME! Who knew exercising could be so fun!?

I will not compare biking outdoors to the cycling machine at a gym because it simply does not compare. You can loose weight doing both and it is ones preference whether they want to workout indoors or outdoors, but my husband shed weight after biking to work for a summer in comparison to going to the gym for a year. Loosing weight does not solely depend on the form of workout, but on the consistency, determination and healthy eating. Keep in mind that being healthy and exercising does not always directly lead to weight loss. It’s all a matter of keeping that heart, those muscles, those lungs and your body running in optimal condition.

My suggestion? Don’t be scared. Larger cities are starting to embrace the cycling community and incorporating bike lanes on major and minor roads. France is seeking to have parts of their major cities with bike access only with public buses as an exception. San Francisco is one of the largest bike enthusiasts cities in the states, AND THEY HAVE CRAZY HILLS EVERYWHERE?! Start small my friend and the let the bike take you places, (all while you exercise.)

Tragedy in Minnesota

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I don’t want to get into politics and the like for what the media has recently revealed about certain cops and their behaviors. I just want to express that it truly saddens me to see a video of a man dying due to a policeman’s negligence. It’s referenced as the Falcon Heights Shooting in Minnesota .  A police man stops a car for what is a “broken tail light” which supposedly is not. The policeman approaches the driver, and the driver states that he had a carry permit, and was armed. Upon reaching for his license he is shot four times and dies. The fiance in the passenger seat along with her young daughter witnessed this, and the fiance recorded all of it from the moment he was shot.

I am saddened at the loss of his family, but I am also upset. I really just wonder and start to make up scenarios in my mind and think, why did he mention he carried a gun? Did he not think that this would make the cop nervous? And do cops not get enough training to not be trigger happy? My anger goes not towards the race issue which the media and public aim this towards in the majority, but at the other point. Peter Rosenberg a radio show host shares his thoughts on why policemen do not speak up against other cops, and why they try to stay silent or defend their co-workers when they should be doing the opposite. In Baltimore, Maryland there is a new Use-Of-Force Policy that allows another officer to step in if he feels that another is stepping out of line.

I understand that in the recent years there have been updates and changes in the police force to enforce and strengthen security measures for themselves and the community. But what do the police community have to say? Families of past victims cry for justice (which can sometimes be confused with the feeling of vengeance if not careful,) but I don’t think that’s enough. Justice will not change how some of these officers behave.

I have worked in big companies through out my career, and when there’s change needed, unfortunately there’s an overhaul of employees that get laid off, along with new management in the higher ups. Maybe something like that is needed. I don’t want to say that maybe the president, because I’m not entirely sure who would be in charge, so maybe the local governments need to rally together and come up with some sort of NEW testing so that these personalities are not working in law enforcement. Maybe some testing that happens every 3-5 yrs to make sure these officers morals haven’t changed. SOMETHING.

Sigh…basically, there needs to be a drastic change. Having individual court hearings for these cases, to have these people go to jail is not enough. Having camera’s on every cop to monitor their actions help but it doesn’t change who these certain group of people are. The ones prone to killing if they can’t handle the situation appropriately. My sympathies go to these families. I am sorry this happened, and I hope change comes because apparently protesting is not enough.

And I end with this. Someone once heard me out on a separate topic such as maternity leave. He said I should do something about it. I said I would, except I don’t have time. I have a baby, and to start a movement would mean that I would need to be out there than in here with my baby. I would have to rally up people, I would have to continuously fight, and look for resources and meet with authority, and the list goes on. It would be like taking on another job. The only thing I can do is write this blog and hope that is lands into the right hands. That the right person out there hears me. Someone who can take this job on. This is my form of action and it might not be much, but its something.

We have layers like Shrek, and onions…

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Do you remember that scene in the Disney movie Shrek, where Donkey kept questioning why Shrek didn’t act like an ogre, but then he tells Donkey the ogre’s are like onions that have layers? I had to re-watch the clip to refresh my memory, but that scene as funny as it was had depth.

From what I remember poor old Shrek had decided to seclude himself from society to not be judged for what he was. But we come to learn that he was lonely with that lifestyle choice. Thanks to Donkey and lots of misfortune, Shrek ends up having his fairy tale ending with a princess and a family.

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There was a point in life where I had made a choice to stop hanging with a certain crowd to avoid being judged. I knew that if my secrets were out I would not be treated the same. If I did come to see them, I would act like my old self and hope that they would never find out who I had become. Not there was anything wrong, but it was a layer that I did not want them to see.

Shrek did have something there with his quick made up philosophy, we have layers. There’s the surface which everyone sees, then there’s the layers that start to come off as individuals start to edge themselves into our lives. When I cut my onions I was taught to not cut through the center. You cut the end from the side, then with every use you keep cutting sides until you reach the core, then you cut the core. If I let someone get to my core that fast, there’s a great chance I can get hurt.

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I would advise you to watch that movie if you havne’t. Its hilarious and raises lots of good points for us as adults even. There was nothing wrong with Shrek, and there’s nothing wrong with having layers. We have layers like Shrek, now if you look like an ogre or smell like an onion, well thats a separate topic. I believe the movie addresses personal hygiene as well 😉

NICU Tips for You

Being a NICU mom can be hard and at times Exhausting. There were so many times that I would search for info on Preemies and any tips to make it easier, but I only found information on the hardships and how to get through it emotionally. What I was really looking for was for tips AFTER I was somewhat emotionally stable. The tips on breast pumping, what to do at the hospital, how to deal with not being around people since I was on Disability Leave from my surgery.

Family Life

My baby was admitted into the NICU at 24 weeks which is the earliest that doctors will admit a Micro Preemie. My baby was going to be in the NICU for the long haul and I would be at the hospital for about 3 months nearing her due date. After the first month I felt I was able to physically continue with daily activities. I had created a daily routine for getting ready to see my baby at the hospital. Wake up, pump, put the milk away, wash the pumping tools, shower, get dressed, eat, get pumping tools together to take to the hospital, go to the hospital, hold baby, put baby back, read to baby, take pictures of baby, talk to doctor, pump, then go home. There were a couple things I left out but you get the idea.

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For your benefit, I’ve compiled a list of tips that helped my husband and I get it together while our baby was at the NICU. There is no need to miss out on your babies moments, you’ll want to remember what your baby overcame.

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List of tips and hacks for a FTM/NICU Mom

  • Take Pictures Constantly – I am amazed at how fast babies grow. I take pictures daily but have a specific teddy I take every week to compare. Once the baby is out, create a timeline showing how much your baby grew every week at the NICU.
  • Shrink Preemie Clothes – It is tough finding preemie clothes there isn’t much variety. BUT if you find something you love that doesn’t fit her/him, Shrink it. Washing cotton with hot water helps with this. Carter’s also does an awesome job at making cute preemie clothes.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions – There will be days when you have a nice nurse and a mean nurse, same thing with a doctor, but ASK QUESTIONS. This is your treasure, a child you are responsible for so make sure you know about everything that is going on. Sometimes I asked twice, just be fully informed about everything that is going on but it would help with any anxiety I had with baby being at the hospital.
  • Dads…wear V-Necks and Button-Ups – Dear father, thank you volunteering to kangaroo your baby, he/she will love it. Just please make sure to wear a loose v-neck or a button up. This will make it comfortable for both you and the baby, and you won’t mess up any shirts!

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  • Bring a Mirror – This comes in handy when you’re kangaroo-ing the baby. My nurses tended to place the baby’s head right under my chin so I could never see her facial reactions when holding her. Having a mirror handy to look at him/her will provide a pleasant view as the both of you enjoy a good cuddle session.
  • Buy Lots of Blankets – Receiving blankets that is. When your baby is ready to be swaddled, you’ll want to personalize her stay. I kept feeling so embarrassed when the nurse would suggest that I bring her a blanket but I didn’t have any available. Make sure they’re washed with non-fragrance detergent too before bringing it in. Same goes for his/her clothes.
  • Get a Travel Bag – Include cleaning wipes, breast pump tools, cooler to bring fresh pumped milk, books, journal for notes and a toy. This will be your bag to keep ready when you go see your baby.
  • Go to Socials if available – If your hospital holds socials, I would advise you go to them. You can get to know your nurses and social workers as well as other NICU moms.
  • Plan to take classes – If you hospital provides these classes I also advise you take them. CPR and discharge classes will help prepare you for your baby and for when she’s ready to come home.
  • Massage The Scar – I waited a month before I felt comfortable massaging the scar from my c-section. This doesn’t go for everyone, but it helps to break up the scar tissue. You want to use a kneading motion pushing up, down and side to side and adding pressure BUT only what you can tolerate.
  • Hold a pillow against your c-section when sneezing/coughing-I found this to be very helpful.
  • Be YOU – talk to the baby, read, sing, nap, whatever. You’re spending time with your baby, and though there isn’t much privacy your baby still needs to learn who mommy and daddy is. So be you!

Hope these tips help make your baby’s stay a little more pleasant. She will love you for it, and although she can’t fully express herself, believe me she will thank you for it.