To the Stay At Home Mom, Find Your Passion

To the Stay At Home Mom, Find Your Passion

A few days ago, I  started thinking about other stay-at-home moms such as myself and the internal battles we all fight each day. So, I wanted to let you know my side of it all. As a stay-at-home mom I would have to admit sometimes staying home is not enough to make me feel fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love staying home and caring for my little ones. Whether you have just begun having kids or have a large family like mine, the reality is that motherhood is challenging. Parenthood, I’d say is the toughest job, but also the most rewarding – there is nothing in the world like it. So, if you’ve had a good cry in your bathroom or in your bedroom at the end of a tough day, I’m here to tell you, it’s OK! We’ve all been there mom! This full-time, no vacations, no sick days, no days off title can quickly get you feeling blue and anxious. We all have our ups and downs. As difficult as a mother’s job is, let alone a stay-at-home mom or a mom working from home, we all have the same struggles. How to balance it all? How to stay sane? How to keep it all together while remembering yourself? And at the end of the day comes the internal struggle, did I do a good enough job with the kids today, did I get enough work done today?

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As someone whom once upon a time worked in the corporate world in the Downtown Miami area, since leaving have felt the need of doing something for me – for myself. Yes, I’m a mom, but first and foremost I am a woman, that once had interests and hobbies. Whether you loved sewing, painting, writing, exercising, they were your hobbies to do. These thoughts come from a woman whom has somehow lost herself in her role as a mom and wife. Hence this blog I began a short time ago. While I’m still feeling like a little fish in a big pond with this, I couldn’t be more excited about this new endeavor. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with blogging, I just knew I wanted to write. I will tell you this, there’s a lot more work that goes into this than you may think. The behind the scenes is nothing short of a pretty mess. I have 6 littles, so most of my writing is done after bath time or bedtime. Just picture little feet running around, yelling behind you as you try to gather your thoughts! Difficult but possible – definitely possible!

Don’t get frightened, join the hustle that is working from home because your kids are still your number one priority. So, if you are trying to make it happen with a baby on your hip or trying to build an empire during your kids nap time, I’m with you, I get it! But, keep doing it, do what you need to do to get things DONE, to make things HAPPEN, get that phone call in the bathroom or closet, because lets be honest – it’s the only place we can talk with ZERO interruptions or when you’re praying to baby Jesus the U.P.S man doesn’t knock while you’re in the middle of something important. Not to mention trying to let everyone know that working from home is real WORK – maybe harder and no, you’re not flexible and no it’s not easy, not to mention trying to squeeze in some work while the kids are at home on Spring break, JESUS, yes, I know, I can relate.

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Nonetheless, find your passion mom, find what sparks joy in your heart, your interest, just find it! It’ll be hard work, not to mention you’ll be sleep deprived for a little while, but it’ll be worth it! You’ll find yourself again after having babies and it will get you so excited about life again. And know, hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, it’s not in vain. I would consider myself artistic and since creating this outlet, it has allowed me to express myself through writing – and as my psychologist put it so well, writing is free therapy! She and I are so amazed of how I’ve decided to go down this path – shocked is more like it, knowing how reserved and private I am when it comes to my life. However, this outlet has also allowed me to not only speak about my condition – which by the way 1 in 1,000 people have it! Insert shocked emoji here. But also spread awareness and allow myself to feel free to be honest and raw. I am so grateful to have finally taken the plunge on this after being on the fence for so many years. Yes, years! It’s slowly given me an opportunity to find myself again and go after dreams I thought weren’t possible. I’ve connected with companies I thought would never notice lil’ ole’ me and I have started to put my passion for art and design to use by creating merchandise. I’m working on getting Chiari Awareness and motherhood merchandise out there. I’m excited to share it all with you soon!

Finally, know it’s not cliché, you can really achieve anything you want, the only one holding you back, is you.

To every mom, the stay-at-home, the working stay-at-home, don’t give up – as the saying goes, “the days are long but the years are short,” know our little ones won’t be little for long. So, don’t be afraid to put yourself first every now and then – because when mom is happy, babies are happy.

Happy day friends.

-Ana

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Photo: Sebastien Gabriel

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Easter Basket Favorites

Easter Basket Favorites

With Easter around the corner it can only mean Easter basket preparations are in full gear. We have begun preparing for our families Easter Egg Hunt where we include candy and a few small things such as small cars. It’s done Sunday afternoon, the day after we attend church and a day our little ones look forward to each year.

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So, in the spirit of this upcoming Easter, I wanted to share a few amazing finds!

1 –  2 – 

3  –     4  –  

5  –        6  –  

  7  –    8  –

9  –

 1 – Rose Gold Basket   2 – Gray Bunny

3 – Guess How Much I Love You Book

4 – Bunny Baby Girl Shoes

5 –  Bunny Toddler Girl Shoes 

6 –  Carrot Baby Rattle

7 – Glitter Headband

8 – Kids Bunny Thermos 

9 – Peter Rabbit Kids Plate

How amazing is this Rose Gold Basket ?!  Keep in mind, these will not be the one used for the Easter Egg Hunt – they use cartoon baskets we have recycled and re-use each year. As I prepare the baskets, I try to get things the kids not only need but will also enjoy receiving. You can also include things like pacifiers, hair bows for the girls, bubbles for the boys, Easter themed stickers and crayons – because you can never have enough of those, place some Easter Grass at the bottom of the basket and you’re done!

Happy Weekend!

-Ana

Chiari 1 Malformation and Mental Illness

Chiari 1 Malformation and Mental Illness

While many of doctors that claim to have experience in Arnold Chiari Malformation would still say, Chiari is more “in your head” than anything else or “Chiari doesn’t cause symptoms” –  no further treatments need to be done, I disagree. I still like to describe Chiari as an invisible illness because I look so normal to the person in front of me but even as it goes unseen, it doesn’t mean that the symptoms and pain are psychological. If your current doctor continues to tell you that, “you are OK,” do not hesitate in seeking a second opinion and starting from scratch, find a doctor that does have experience with ACM. I got a second, third and a forth until finally in my search for new doctors, it led me to a great neurosurgeon in my area. Although, I haven’t found any research linking Arnold Chiari Malformation and mental illness, my experience with the disorder has led me to believe that self advocacy and self care is essential. The need to mentally help yourself, is important. I realize that even after having had two surgeries due to Chiari 1 Malformation and Syringomyelia, the mental challenges that come after going through such a traumatic experience is one worth talking about.

Can you remember the day when men dressed in white coats – surgeons, came to your hospital bed side to inform you of your test results, followed by the procedures that you will soon have to endure? Because even after having Chiari decompression and Syringomyelia laminectomy, know that none of these surgeries are a cure, these surgeries are needed just to prevent permanent nerve damage. Also, these surgeries are not a guarantee that they will help alleviate any of the current symptoms. So, whether mental illness has a place in your life, in form of depression, anxiety, social anxiety, baby blues, postpartum depression, autism, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, substance abuse disorder, please know that you are not alone. Also, I encourage you to find your voice and find the courage to get help, professional help. Because like many things, mental illness has no one face, it does not discriminate and it can happen to anyone.

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So, if we’re going to go down this honesty path and I remain true to myself, besides you knowing these tidbits about me, know that aside from being a brain surgery survivor, I have been dealing with depression, social anxiety and agoraphobia since my decompression surgery. Which according to the Webster’s dictionary, agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, making it difficult for the person to leave their house. Please do not assume that I am cooped up in my home. It just means that it takes me a lot longer to mentally prepare myself to get out of my home and do things the “ordinary” person does so naturally. They include things like attend doctors appointments or go for a quick trip to the store. It can take days to mentally prepare myself to leave my house for a doctors appointment – at times at the end even canceling. These tasks are challenging for me, perhaps you are dealing with a different mental illness.

If you’re asking and wondering how I found all this out. Well, the turning point for me came in form of  a routine neurological visit that led my doctor to suggest I see a psychologist. Of course coming from a family where psychologists were ever mentioned, I immediately got defensive and declined. When the doctor – bless his heart, asked why, I quickly became defensive and said, I am not crazy. He then replied, “I am not crazy either and I see one, because after a 20 year marriage that came to an end, seeing a psychologist was a way I was able to cope.” This made me feel one, not crazy and two, open to the idea of seeing a psychologist. And as 2017, am now seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist, both of which work hand in hand to get me from feeling ill to feeling well. This is something hard to admit because society has placed a negative stigma towards psychology and mental health. It’s something that isn’t spoken about, it’s frowned upon and shamed. The last time I read on someone advocating on mental health was coming upon an article from singer, Demi Lovato. I think being silent on metal illness is so much worse than the topic itself. People build things up inside because they’re afraid, afraid of being embarrassed, humiliated, misunderstood or feeling the wrath that it would potentially bring. I want to embrace not only my new body that has produced six babies to which I proudly wear six scars. But also the scars left behind by Chiari. However, learning how to embrace and accept my new life after my Chiari 1 Malformation diagnosis has been challenging but also life changing. Chiari isn’t for the faint of heart. As part of my Chiari journey I want to feel free to find my voice and speak on how I work daily on my mental wellness. If you’re working on yours, never give up and if you haven’t started, know it’s never too late to start. I’m convinced this disorder is part of my life but definitely not who I am. Let me be the first to acknowledge that God continues to play a huge part in my journey to recovery – maybe not in the most ideal way because I am so flawed! My religion and spiritual beliefs have helped me in my recovery – I am Catholic. Spirituality helps in recovering from things like stress to mental illness. However, I do also believe that aside from my religion, medical help in the form of professional counseling and medicines also help. Mental illness is by no means anything to be ashamed of, seeking help in knowing how to manage it in the best way possible is important for your well being. The main goal is to lead a peaceful, meaningful life and to continue on the road to recovery, that is both spiritual and mental.

Also, know that it’s OK, it’ll all be OK, do not compare yourself to others, to other moms, dads, friends or co-workers, because to others we are either too much or not enough. And that’s OK too.

Happy day friends.

-Ana

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Photo: Pablo Gentile

St. Patrick’s Day Bakin’ & Dancin’

My kids, baking and dancing, all come hand in hand. So, today was no exception. With some Meghan Trainor’s ‘Better When I’m Dancin’ and some Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’ music in the background this house was smelling like freshly home made brownies and sugar cookies in no time – green to be exact in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Once the cookies were baked and cooled, the kids took turns decorating the cookies with frosting and sprinkles, before enjoying their own creations. So, while some helped in the kitchen and others danced to the beats of these super fun songs, this is just another example of how quickly we turn baking into a dance party of it’s own.

Hope your St. Patrick’s Day was as sweet and full of beats good enough to make you want to dance – just as ours.

Happy weekend friends!

-Ana

Nail Tools To Own For The Perfect At Home Manicure

These are the nail tools you need to own in your nail kit, using these will ensure you achieve the perfect at home manicure every single time. Because aside from having beautiful nail polish shades, having the right tools make all the difference in your end results.

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Base Clear Coat: You’ll apply this before any and all colored nail polish. I use the Seche – the base coat will protect your nail and prevent them from yellowing.

Top Clear Coat: You’ll apply this after and at the very end of all your nail polish applications. I use the Out The Door Clear Top Coat – it’s great!

Nail File // Buffer: Before using this Nail Buffer  make sure your nails are cut to the same shape and length before putting on the nail polish. When using the  Nail Files  start with the rougher side and then use the smoother side to buff and smooth the nail – just don’t over do it, the buffer can thin out your nails. Nail Tip: When filing your nails, move in one direction, this will prevent any edges from tearing and file your nails dry, not wet, wet nails split easily.

Orangewood Stick: This 50 pcs Wood Stick Nail Art Orange Cuticle Pusher Remover is a multi-purpose tool. You can use it to push back the cuticle, clean out any dirt or dip into Acetone and fix any nail polish mistakes. Or Orangewood Stick for applying rhinestones on nails and other multipurpose uses.

Cuticle Pusher // Spoon Nail Cleaner: If you have tough skin, use a steel cuticle pusher. Use a cuticle pusher or a spoon nail cleaner. This Cuticle Pusher and Spoon Nail Cleaner has both. So, your nail doesn’t become dry and flaky, gently push them back from your nails. This will also ensure you polish the entire nail. Nail Tip: Do this after a shower, when your skin is soft making it easier to push back any excess cuticle.

Cuticle Nipper: Use this Szco Supplies Half Jaw Cuticle Nipper after you push back the cuticle, gently cut tough cuticles, dry skin or ingrown nails. Nail Tip: Do NOT cut live cuticles, cutting it can give you an infection and sanitize your cuticle clipper before and after and store it in a dry place so it prevent it from rusting.

Dotter Tool: This 2-way Dotting Tool  and this Nail Brush and Dotting Tool – has a brush for cleaning on sides of finger, is great for nail art, it helps you create small dots, large dots and round designs. Nail Tip: Clean the Dotter Tool with acetone before each design. Also this Stripper Brush: This Nail Art Brushes Set of 3 is a tiny tip brush that will help you create clean, thin lines and detail. Nail Tip: Clean brush before dipping it into a different color.

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Using the Dotter Tool – Disney World inspired Minnie Mouse nail art

Tweezers: These are great for adding beads, stones, tiny studs, colored crystals, etc. or any 3D embellishment, this ReNext Nail Art Tweezers will ensure the right application without jeopardizing the nail polish.

How To Clean Nail Tools 

Also, for a healthy manicure results at home, clean and sanitize your tools, especially the clippers and cuticle clippers after each use. It’s simple, first wash with soap and water and lastly, disinfect by soaking a cotton ball with alcohol and wiping nail tools.

Hope this has inspired you to create wonderful nail art at home.

-Ana

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Classic Essie Nail Polish Shades To Own

Classic Essie Nail Polish Shades To Own

These Essie nail polish shades will help you get amazing results. And having these colors in your nail polish kit will get you fantastic nail art at home. These Essie colors are a must have and will be your go to shades every single time.

The Essie nail polish brand is available at beauty supply stores or on  Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial and whether you choose one or the other from each category, they’re all amazing!

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I’ll begin with four words, BASE COAT and TOP COAT – or is that five?! This really does make all the difference. I use this base coat first, it works as a primer for the nail polish  Seche Clear Base Coat .5 oz. No Formaldehyde & No Toluene and to ensure that the polish goes on smoothly – not streaky. It will also prevent dark nail colors from staining your nails and overall discoloration. Next apply two coats of your favorite nail polish – three strokes per coat and lastly a top coat  Out The Door Fast Dry 0.5 Ounce (14ml) (2 Pack) for fast drying and shiny results.

Essie Nail Polish Shades

 Essie – Marshmallow 

White:  1) Marshmallow essie nail color,Marshmallow,sheers & whites,0.46 fl. oz., 2) Waltz essie Nail Color Polish, Waltz, 3) Blanc essie nail polish, blanc, 0.46 fl. oz. 4) Adore-A-Ball Adore-A-Ball $5 Coupon Code From Butore 5) This is not from Essie but a must have is Funny Bunny from OPI Nail lio Lacquer, Funny Bunny, 0.5 fl. oz.

  Essie – Ballet Slippers

Sheer Pink/Pink:  1) Baby’s Breath Baby’s Breath $5 Coupon Code From Butore 2) Limo-Scene essie nail color,Limo-Scene,sheers & whites,0.46 fl. oz., 3) Ballet Slippers essie nail polish, ballet slippers, 0.46 fl. oz., 4) Skinny Dip essie the wild nudes 2017 nail polish collection, skinny dip, 0.46 fl. oz.

 Essie – Secret Story 

Bright Pink:  1) Secret Story essie nail color,Secret Story, pinks,0.46 fl. oz. 2) Pancy essie Nail Color Polish, Pansy (3) Mod Square

 Essie – Limited Addiction

Classic Red:  1) Really Red essie nail color,Really Red,reds,0.46 fl. oz., 2) Limited Addiction essie Nail Color Polish, Limited Addiction

 Essie – Chinchilly 

Gray:  1) Chinchilly essie nail polish, chinchilly, 0.46 fl. oz.essie nail polish, chinchilly, 0.46 fl. oz., 2) Without A Stitch essie the wild nudes nail polish collection, without a stitch, 0.46 fl. oz.

 Essie – Wicked 

Dark/Black: 1) My go-to dark shade is Wicked essie nail polish, wicked, 0.46 fl. oz. 2) for a black shade Licorice essie nail polish, licorice, 0.46 fl. oz.

Non-Acetone vs Acetone Polish Remover

So, this is really up to you, how much time and how often you polish your nails. As for my personal preference, I prefer Acetone. But here’s the difference between the two.

The Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover, does not harm acrylic nails, is less effective but much gentler and takes longer to dissolve the polish, meaning you’ll spend more time rubbing the polish off. As for the Acetone Polish Remover, know that the damage that is done to our nails is not from the nail polish rather from the nail polish remover. Acetone  Super Nail Pure Acetone Polish Remover, 8 oz is the most effective way to remove nail polish, removes acrylic nails, gel nails and glitter nail polish, Acetone is harsh on your nails, dries out skin and nails.

Nail Repair Polish:  Also, every now and then, give your nails a break from nail polish for a week or so and apply  Perfect Formula Repair Coat, 0.6 Fl. oz. nightly. This restores and conditions your nails to ensure their health.

Nail Stickers/Art:  Nail stickers are great! My oldest daughter loves these! Thy’re so lovely and easy to apply. If you don’t have much time for your nails, try nail stickers INHDBOX 50×Nail Decals,Nail Art Water Transfer Sticker Decal-butterfly, flower, heart ect ( different patterns ) They have plenty of pre-made art designs to choose from.

Hope you get inspired or add any of these wonderful nail shades in your own nail kit.

-Ana

Photo: Mona Eendra

Kids Birthday On A Budget + Tips On A Homemade Cake

Kids Birthday On A Budget + Tips On A Homemade Cake

A few years ago when I got my KitchenAid Mixer with the KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater I began making the kid’s birthday cake at home. We’ll have a birthday gathering at  home, we’ll make goody bags for the children, have something to eat, say pizza or arrange a hot dog bar with toppings such as relish, ketchup and mustard and serve with chips. In the recent years I’ve included a Piñata for them to break. As for the children that go to school, I will speak to their teachers beforehand about having the celebration done in the classroom to include their school friends, take either a pull-apart cake – which essentially are cupcakes put together to resemble a cake, cake or mini cupcakes, depending on which the teacher prefers. I’ll take the napkins, plates, juice and make the goody bags according to the theme they choose. I’ll include a small toy, punch balloon – which are always a success, kids love them and about 3 to 4 candies per bag.

A few basic kitchen tools to have at home – and you can get more ideas from here …

Cake Pan   ⁄ ⁄  Nonstick Steel Cake Pan – 9-Inch, 2-Pack or  9″ Nonstick Round Cake Pan – Set of 3

Cake Board   ⁄ ⁄   Wilton 10-Inch Cake Circle, 12-Pack

Cake Icing Spatula   ⁄ ⁄    Cake Icing + Decorating Spatula Set of 7.5, 10.8, 12.8 Inch or Angled Icing Spatula, 12.5-Inch, Silver

Rubber Spatula    ⁄ ⁄   2 Piece Spatula Set – Colorful Silicone

Icing Bags   ⁄ ⁄   12″ Disposable Icing Bags (Set of 12), Transparent or Icing Bottles – Set of 3

Cake Stand   ⁄ ⁄    Magnolia Large Wooden Tray I use this large tray as a cake stand

Happy Birthday Banner + Toppers   ⁄ ⁄   Invest in one and reuse. These are banners Gold ‘Happy Birthday’ Cake Topper Banner  or Happy Birthday Banner – Colorful or  ‘Happy Birthday’ Topper Garland with Wood Pole Ivory Pink Roses and this is a topper Gold ‘Happy Birthday’ Cake Topper

There are plenty of ideas online to choose from. However, this was the last cake we made at home. The theme was of the lovely Peppa Pig so we decided on a Strawberry Icing for the outside and Vanilla Icing for the inside. This is something I’d see on television and decided to give it a try.

Store Bought Cake Mix with Chocolate Candy Center Filled Birthday Cake

>  I’ve been using the ‘Duncan Hines’ cake mix and it’s tastes great. This is what I use for times sake, but if you have time to make one from scratch and not a store box one, fantastic! I also, substitute vegetable oil for butter.

After you have allowed the cake layers to fully cool down, I then used a heart shaped cookie cutter and gently pushed downward to cut out the center of the bottom cake layer, then filled the center with chocolate M&M’s – if you do not allow the cake layer to fully cool down, the candy will melt. This was my candy of choice however you can choose the candy of your choose. You can recreate this same idea for a reveal baby shower and just place the gender colored candies inside, say blue candy for a boy. Tip – make three layers instead of two to fill the center with more candy, you’ll just have to cut the center of the two bottom layers for this. Another tip, when you’re ready to set up the bottom cake later on the cake board, put a little icing on the bottom of the cake and on to the board, this will prevent the cake from shifting.

Now that you’ve filled the center with candy, using the icing spatula spread your middle filling with icing – both the ‘Duncan Hines’ and ‘Pillsbury’ brands taste great, here we chose Vanilla – avoiding the center. Tip – do not put icing in the center because the candy will get stuck to the icing when it’s time to cut the cake.

I also, placed some sprinkles on the Vanilla frosting before placing the top layer.

Lastly, place the top layer on top, do not cut the center of this layer. Also, clean out your icing spatula after using a different flavored icing.

>  Now, using your icing spatula again, spread the outside icing all over your cake. While the icing is moist – has not harded, place sprinkles on top, here we used multi-colored sprinkles in doing so the icing will serve as a glue for the sprinkles.

Lastly, place your ‘Happy Birthday’ banner or topper and candle.

Having the right tools at home, will ensure a great tasting cake everyone will love!

Happy Baking.

-Ana

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Photo: Annie Spratt