Shifted

I was tempted to call this post "Fitness Journey", but it isn't reeeaaallllly a "fitness journey", although maybe it is? HA. Who knows. I just think sometimes the words "Fitness Journey" sounds so over used. For me, it really just feels like a shift. (insert shrugging emoji)

10 years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I was 50lbs lighter, had practically no body fat, a six pack, and I was lookin' gooooooood. That chapter quickly closed when we were faced with Infertility. Depression, emptiness, hormones, infertility drugs, miscarriages, all cost around 5-10lbs each, of weight gain. Before I knew it, I was 50lbs heavier in the course of 5 years. Then getting pregnant, becoming a mother, added new challenges and really I just lost myself in the midst and haze of motherhood. 

 I began to hide under layers of clothes, and "attempted", every fitness routine, and diet fad on the market. Nothing seemed to work for me because my mind hadn't shifted. I would lose 5lbs, then panic and gain it back. I realized that hiding under my layers of clothes, and extra pounds made me feel safe. Does that make sense? I felt too exposed every time a few pounds would drop off. I didn't understand why. Wouldn't losing weight make one feel happy, empowered, motivated? It didn't for me at that time. One morning, I weighed myself, I was down 6lbs, I was immediately filled with anxiety and went downstairs and fixed myself some pancakes. 

That was when I realized that my problem was more than just being overweight, it was a deep rooted emotional, fear, lost, confused, undefined, problem. I was lost and afraid. It took months, MONTHS, of working through some of these emotional issues. Postpartum kinda does that to ya'. I just wanted to find myself again and figure out where I went. 

Early March 2018, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, "Nothing changes, if nothing changes. Do something NOW Marilyn, no one is going to do this for you, quit the excuses and the crap and just move your body, and GO".  I swear that is what I said to myself. 

March 16, 2018, I put on gym clothes and planned on driving to the local gym to sign up for a membership (we had just moved to North Carolina). I took a wrong turn, and ended up parked in front of a sign that said 9Rounds. I pulled out my phone while I sat in my car (I was already doubting myself and almost drove back home), and curiously googled 9Rounds. My phone was filled with 5 star reviews  and I quickly learned that it was a kickboxing gym. In that very moment, I made a decision. I shifted. I had to. I just shifted my mindset. A lot of self talk was involved. Shift Marilyn, just GO, FIND YOURSELF.

Taking a deep breath and not knowing what to expect, I peeled myself out of my car and nervously walked into the kickboxing gym. I was greeted by a trainer and the first words that poured from my mouth were, "Hi, my name is Marilyn, I've never been here, I don't know what I am doing, can you help me". I really did say that haha. 

The trainer, Lew, was so kind. He walked me through the concept of 9rounds (30 min kickboxing workout, personal trainer, no class times, walk-in whenever etc.) He introduced me to the "regulars" (members), and guided me through each round. At the end of my workout, sweating profusely and thighs shaking, I knew this was the kick-in-the-ass I needed. Not just for my physical health, but for my emotional health too. It was a moment of pure vulnerability. 

Today, I am 25 lbs lighter. I go to 9rounds 5 days a week. Each pound shed has brought me closer to me. "Oh there you are Marilyn, I've missed you, I love you" (see? That's me talking to myself). I have never felt so strong physically and emotionally, even more now than 10 years ago.

Finding a fitness routine that works for me has helped me with my stress and anxiety.  Through this shift, I started to love myself again. Self Love. THAT is what I had been missing for so long. Going through infertility, you start to hate yourself.....well I did anyway. I hated that my body didn't and wasn't doing what it was supposed to, and then I just filled myself up with hate and resentment towards myself and my body. But love.....oh LOVE. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection. Love is fondness, tenderness. I had to fall in love with myself again because I deserved my love and affection. I am not talking about being vain, abnoxious or being conceited. I am talking about deep deep Love and respect for yourself. And when I saw glimmers of her, the yucky feelings I once had, started to melt away. 

I love myself so much and I am kinder to.........me. I crave my daily workouts. I feel so strong, like a superhero. I love 9rounds because it only takes 30 minutes to workout, it is challenging, workouts change daily,  it's high intensity, and I burn SO many calories. There is always a trainer there to guide you, motivate you, and challenge you. 

I am not a fitness expert or a weight loss expert. What I do know, is that it starts here (me pointing at my head). Weight loss starts in your mind. You need to decide and shift. It isn't an overnight loss, or a quick one, it is long term baby. You can run your brains out, walk, do Keto, Whole30 etc., but until you get it shifted and right in your head, none of that will work. You have to dig deep my friend, and decide. I am glad I did.

I am Marilyn. I am here. Finally. 

Thanks for sitting with me. 

All my love, 

Marilyn

 

 

How we Road Trip with Mila

Hola amigos. May was crazy! We traveled the whole month and we had so many memorable adventures. We traveled to a few of our favorite cities and then flew out to Colombia. We are new to North Carolina and didn't have anyone that could care for our fur baby Ryder, (our 4 legged rescue Border Collie mix) so when my in-laws in Orlando said they would love to have him, we set off to Orlando to drop him off. We planned out our road trip to stop a few times along the way so we could be as stress-free as possible, and also so all parties were comfortable (vocal and busy toddler and antsy pantsy fur baby). While many may take a big gulp at the thought of a road trip right before an international flight with a toddler, I am here to tell you it is possible and share with you what worked for us. 

 When we started explaining to Mila that we were taking her to the beach.

When we started explaining to Mila that we were taking her to the beach.

 

I scoured Pinterest for Traveling with your Toddler ideas, but I didn't find anything that would be remotely close to meeting Mila's likes. Also, I have tried it all before, so this post is the "I've already tried that but this is what worked for Mila". When we lived in Utah, I spent hours making her a quiet and activity book for a 4 hr road trip to St. George. She chucked the book in to the back seat in complete disapproval, sooooo yeah. Thanks girlfriend. Here are a few things we did for the Road Trip, I will share Flight tips too this week on another post.

1. Know your Toddlers likes and dislikes. If she hasn't shown interest in quiet books, don't start it now. It'll be a waste of time and then you'll feel defeated. Instead, spend time observing what she really likes and work around that. Mila LOVES animals. So I brought along a bag full of all her favorite safari and farm animals that we purchased off Amazon. I started handing her a few at a time about 1 hour into our drive. You could hear her in the back seat making animal noises and playing quietly. 

2. Keep it simple. I think sometimes, we as parents overcomplicate things. While Pinterest has really great ideas and inspiration, sometimes you see photos of these elaborate car trip activities and it can be overwhelming because who really has those Martha Stewart skills. (I swear I am not hating on Pinterest, I love Pinterest, promise). A week before traveling, Manny (my hubby), and I spent teaching and talking to Mila about where we were going to go and how we were going to get there. We talked to her about it day and night. We explained to her who we were going to see, where we were going, and then we would quiz her on it. "Mila para donde vamos", "Como vamos a ir", "Quien vamos a ver", "Mila, where are we going", "How are we going to get there", "Who are we going to see", etc. By the time it came to travel day, homegirl knew exactly what was going on. I feel that predictability is so important for Toddlers, so they feel safe and secure. 

3. Good Ol' iPad. Yep, there I said it. You know I'm a stickler for limited TV watching for Mila, but I knew that it couldn't be easy for her to be sitting in her car seat on a long ride. Plus, it was just for traveling and it's not like she does this on the regular, so, I loaded the iPad up with her favorite movies: Ferdinand, Rio, Frozen, and episodes of Dora the Explorer. When it came time where she was fussy and nothing else worked: Like coloring (on a cookie sheet with magnets holding paper), singing along with her favorite tunes, chatting with mom and dad, and her favorite stuffed animals ended up on the floor, THAT'S when we would bust out the iPad. Just do it. We bought a velcro iPad holder and the iPad just hung from the back of the passenger seat head rest.  

4. Plenty of snacks. We packed a cooler full of her favorite things to munch on. Mila and I walked through the grocery store and we picked out her snacks, as I explained that these were special road trip snacks. She helped me pack the cooler, and when she was hungry she knew what to ask for. A few of her favorite road trip foods: Cheerios, cheese sticks, apples, bananas, yogurt, and almonds. 

5. Give them something to look forward to: Our first stop was Charleston where we spent a few days. Charleston has one of our favorite aquariums, so on our trip there we were explaining to Mila that we were going to take her to the aquarium. We talked about what sea life animals she would see and what she would see when we took her to the beach. When we arrived in Charleston we gave her a little Sea Turtle toy to keep our conversation going and so that she knew what was coming up next.

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Sensing a common theme here? We spend all our time talking to Mila and explaining things to her. We include her in every process and talk things out with her and meet her where she is vs. the traditional "I am the parent and you do as I say and you go along with it".  One of our favorite Quotes:

“to enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority.” 
-Shefali Tsabary

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After we left Charleston and were Orlando bound, we followed the same steps above and integrated FaceTime calls with my in-laws (where we were dropping our dog off), so Mila had them to look forward to seeing in person. We got lucky and she napped the majority of the road trip to Orlando. We take the road on an hour before her nap time and she usually naps for 2 hours. Since we road trip in 4 hour chunks, that really leaves us with 1 hour before nap, and 1 hour after nap to be ready and equipped for Toddler entertainment. 

I know this sounds easy. It isn't. I stress out so much during travel because I am a planner and over preparer. It's the Capricorn in me. High strung, OCD type of woman that stresses out and with the thought of anticipating the worst. HaHAH!

Can I tell you though, on our road trip to Orlando , like 35 minutes before arriving to my in-laws house, Mila had the most massive, volcanic, explosion I have ever witnessed in my entire life. I am talking about poop people. She was wearing shorts, and all the sudden from the back seat I hear "mama, mamaaaaaaaa", I casually turn my head, while Manny and I were rapping to TuPac, and I gasped in utter horror. There, sat my darling Mila, in complete shock while she froze in terror with her little hands and fingers stretched out and her little legs out straight. It was everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Her hands, face, legs, carseat,  and I just yelled for Manny to pull over as soon as possible. Manny had no idea what I was witnessing because he was driving, and he hesitated even pulling over because he thought I was over exaggerating and being dramatic. HAHA. The only option and place to pull over was this run down grimy gas station. You guys, there was no where else to go. The closest place after that was 15 miles away, and I was not about to let my girl ride in a carseat full of volcanic eruption. I peeled her out of the carseat, and instinctively grabbed a bed sheet (I always pack a bed sheet on car trips) from the backseat, and ran holding Mila out in front of me to avoid getting poo on me and into the hole-in-the-wall gas station. Well guess what, they didn't have a changing table, so I laid the bed sheet on the floor of the gas station bathroom and changed and wiped Mila down with like 9837261938 baby wipes. I wrapped all the shiz in the bed sheet along with her clothes and tossed in the garbage. I didn't even think twice. We walked out of that gas station sans clothing, and my girl rocked it in her diaper. Poor thing.

This is what works for us. What do you find works for you? Give me all the details so I can add to my bag of tricks. 

Thanks for sitting here with me and reading.

love youuuuuuuuuuu

I stopped scrolling

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. It has been a while. March 8th, I started a social media fast. I deleted ALL of my social media apps from my devices. Cold turkey. Was it hard? Kinda. Why did I do it? Well, join me and I will explain why. But first, we are officially settled into our super cute bright yellow rental home in Charlotte, NC. Our home is nestled in a wooded neighborhood surrounded by colorful  trees with flowers dripping off their branches, and birds, so many birds. Finches, Cardinals, Blue jays, Doves, and the regular brown birds I have no name for (sorry birds) are always gracefully fluttering and weaving in and out through all the trees. It. Is. Magical. The best part, is waking up at 6:30am and listening to all the birds happily chirping right outside my window. Seriously, it is so grounding. Just listening and appreciating their wakeup call. We even put up a birdhouse in the backyard, Mila likes to make sure there is plenty of bird seeds for the pajaritos (birdies in spanish). 

When Manny and I lived in Orlando, we often drove up to the Carolinas (8hr drive), and would spent weekends here. We would always say how much we loved it and that we would end up here someday. The Law of Attraction people, the freaking Law works. I could talk hours about THAT but then my blog post would veer into another lane and jump onto another freeway that would leave us asking, "what was I about to say"?

A month ago I realized that I was tired of filling up my white space with scrolling. I'd tap on my Instagram app, and scrolllllllllll, I'd then exit, tap my Snap Chat app, and watch videos, then exit,  tap my twitter (that sounds like a dance "Tap My Twitter", or maybe it sounds like a dirty dance HA, okay never mind), then I'd scrolllllll through tweets. Seriously, all the tapping, all the scrolling, and the NOTHING. I quickly noticed that the "Influencer" posts on social media, weren't really influencing me. It was doing the reverse. Making me long for those perfect abs, or outfits, or makeup, or wonder how XYZ blogger had their shiz together with a sparkling house, beautiful hair, flawless skin and well behaved children. I mean I know its branding, I know it isn't reality, but one can't help it by comparing and then feeling shitty about themselves. It paralyzed me. I was in social media coma, paralyzed. I felt murky. 

So, I said EFF THAT, and started some new habits. And you know what? It has been pure bliss, magic, powerful ,empowering, raw, and fluid. My life flows oh so beautifully. I keep in touch with all my truest friends, and weeding out the "so-called" friends who are really just nosey to see what you are doing but really don't care about you, has felt like I have removed baggage. I am intentional about looking at people in the eyes when I talk to them (not creepily though, I blink, I promise hahah), I stop and listen to the noises around me. I am present when my husband is in the same room, and I memorize and watch Mila blossom into the most intelligent, strong, and beautiful little human I know. I also talk to random strangers. Something I have never been good at. This has made me feel lighter.

I also lost 20lbs. No big deal (insert smirk). I joined a kickboxing gym. I go 6 days a week. I am so strong. Mila, Manny and I are together all the time. It is a blessing. We have some secret projects we are working on and will share in a few months. 

We leave for a month long vacation really soon!!! We are going to Charleston, Savannah, St. Augustine, Orlando, Panama, and then to Colombia. EeeeeeeeeeeeKKKKK. Not all in that order.

I just wanted to share this quick update, thank you for reading! 

All my love,

Mar xo

Christmas has a sting

This post is a bit hard for me to write. I hope you take a moment to sit next to me while I take you through why Christmas stings......just a bit.

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When Manny and I got married in 2009, we immediately began trying for a family. Little did I know it would take almost 6 years. In the beginning I was naive, unstained, unmarked and unbranded and really unfamiliar with the term Infertilty. We started trying in September of 2009...I had timed it perfectly, we would get pregnant and make our announcement on Christmas day. Everyone would rejoice and be glad, blah blah, Christmas miracle blah blah. It didn't happen. Shortly after, I became OBSESSED with a Christmas pregnancy reveal. OBSESSED. Christmas would come and go and my arms were still empty. The hope had faded. Holidays didn't hold any meaning anymore and I hated them. Putting up Christmas decorations became physically painful, and going to church to see rosy cheeked children dressed in their holiday attire was like a stab in my stomach leaving me bloody, broken, weak, and shattered. 

Then, I had a wise idea (sarcastic). Let's plan our first IVF (remember we ended up doing 3 IVFs), around the Holidays so we can announce our pregnancy for Christmas! Brilliant idea Marilyn. Just Brilliant (insert eye roll). Our first IVF failed. And I found out on Christmas day. I remember getting the phone call from my nurse late that evening....at 8pm. LATE for someone waiting so desperately to hear their test results from a blood test taken earlier that day. The nurse's voice quivered on the phone as she prepared to deliver the bad news...on Christmas Day. "Its negative", she said. I remember hanging up the phone and doubling over in agony, gripping my stomach as high pitched sobs quickly escaped my throat. My heart ached. ACHED. It felt like I was on fire, it pained soo bad. I imagine thats what acid feels like when flesh is introduced to it. I remember running upstairs and collapsing outside my master bathroom. Manny scooped me into his arms and we both held each other crying....

Our second IVF was similar, but I was becoming stronger at coping with the bad news. I became angrier. I no longer cried. My wounds had begun to heal into deep crooked scars that I would gently visit in grief and sorrow as the holidays passed each year.

In 2015, I finally had the chance to announce our pregnancy during Christmas. Even though they all failed every Christmas before, I was insistent in announcing my pregnancy for Christmas. It was my dream. I could taste it. And I did. It wasn't without hesitation, without pain. It still felt unreal, like a lie, almost as if a theif would come and steal it during the night and leave me lifeless and deflated. 

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Even though this is our second Christmas as a family of three, I would be lying if I didn't admit that during the quiet hours when I am alone, I sting a bit. I can still see those crooked scars. I gently visit them in silence and I remember Christmases past, praying, hoping, waiting, and brokenness. 

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When I hold Mila, I hold MY miracle. That is what Christmas means to me. Not just the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ born of a virgin.....but my Mila, born of a woman who wished and prayed for her so badly. A woman who had lost all hope despite of the brave mask she would put on each day, and peel off each night. A woman who was never diagnosed with the reason why she couldn't get pregnant. A woman who year after year felt broken, shattered, and was just a hollow vessel floating around. Then flashing forward before THAT woman got pregnant through her THIRD IVF, she decided to STOP measuring what she didn't have with every holiday passed. That woman decided to piece her self together....slowly, but she did. That woman became a warrior. A strong, solid, bold, fearless warrior. That woman was me. I felt like an Olympian. I still do. 

As I snuggle my girl this Christmas, pools of tears stream down my face in gratitude, my crooked scars fade again, and the sting is less.....stingy. But I still remember.

To all my beautiful warriors who find themselves with empty arms this Christmas, I am with you. I hold your hand in mine, your head on my chest, and we cry together. I love you deeply. Keep fighting, find strength, cry out loud, and stay bold. You aren't alone.

 

 

Mila's birth Story......

I have been wanting to document this story for a looooong time. I never want to forget the very little details of the arrival of our miracle girl. A moment we had waited for, for a very long time. Five and a half years to be exact.

I was 39 weeks pregnant. When I woke up that Tuesday morning (May 31st), I felt different. It wasn't the typical pregnant Marilyn everyone had gotten used to. Exhaustion had claimed me during my third trimester. I fell asleep, everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The swelling in my feet was so obnoxious and I no longer walked with one foot in front of the other. I had mastered the pregnant shuffle. Imagine for a second how penguins walk. That was me. The nausea was back full force and I couldn't keep anything down. Getting up in the middle of the night to puke was eventful. I remember thinking that someone needed to invent some sort of device that could help pregnant women physically get out of bed, like an escavator or a pulley system or something. I couldn't bend, so rolling out of bed was no longer a metaphor but pure reality. HA. Gosh, I miss that big belly and those sleepless nights. ANYWAY, that morning was different. I woke up with so much energy. I was feeling so so good. I remember blasting my music and twerking to a Pitbull song. Yes.....I did say twerking.....and although it was a very awkward twerk sesh, I still feel like I looked better than Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs. (proof below)

At that time, my mommy was here from Colombia. She had been taking care of me for weeks and helped me get our home ready for the arrival of my girl. That day, I was craving a turkey burger and fries. But not just any turkey burger my husbands homemade grilled turkey burger. It was a blessing Manny worked from home that day too. So at around 4:30pm, my mom and I went to our local grocery store to buy all the turkey burger fixings to make at home. I wore a bright blue swing dress and a denim jacket. At the grocery store, I waddled up and down the aisle, when I felt a gush....now, I had gushed like this before, and went to L&D, for them to tell me I had just pee'd my pants BAHAH (that happened 3 times BTW). This time felt different. My belly felt like it was pulling down. I wasn't contracting, wasn't in pain, but my belly felt like it was just dropping down, down, down and my gut knew.... it was time. I told my mom what was happening and she insisted we leave immediately, get Manny, and go to L&D. On the drive home to get Manny, I explained to my mom that Manny doesn't do well under emergency situations (like we are talking Captain Panic), so I told my mom that when we got home, we had to act non-chalant, like eh, no biggie, buuuuuut convince him to take me to L&D stat. (Little did I know that my mom was in full panic mode inside). Soooo, we walk in the house and Manny is working in the office, and I say "Hey babe, I think I pee'd myself again, but I want to go to the hospital just to make sure since I'm so close to the due date so can you take me to the hospital". Manny says "Okay babe, I'll take you". And he mosey's on upstairs to change. He was taking his sweet sweet time. Probably man-scaping, who knows, when all the sudden I heard my mom yell at Manny "Manolo, tienes que salir ya, rapido" (Manny, you need to leave NOW, quickly). We get out the door, and drive to the hospital.

On the way there, I still wasn't having contractions so I honestly convinced myself we were going more for a peace of mind kinda thing. We get to L&D, (its about 5:30pm by this time) and I tell the nurse at the front desk, as calmly in the most non-urgent way (because like I said, I wasn't feeling anything and didn't know I was actually in labor HAHAH) that I thought my water had broken but I wasn't sure but wanted to get checked out just in case. The nurse told me not to drink or eat anything until all testing was done, and since I obviously wasn't panicking, they had no sense of urgency to get me seen, so they ushered me to a waiting room. Manny went and brought me a hamburger and fries and a Diet Coke, because no one tells pregnant Marilyn when she can and cannot eat...(but also, I truly thought I was going to be sent back home). I inhaled that delicious burger, and as I was wiping any evidence of ketchup on the corners of my lips, they called me into an exam room. After pricks, pokes, ultra-sounds, labs, and manual checks in the hoo-haaa, my ER nurse walked in at 7:30pm and said "Well, Marilyn, you are in labor and you aren't leaving the hospital until you deliver that baby girl". All of the sudden, it was like I forgot that I HAD to actually give birth. It was happening. My body began to shake uncontrollably. I shook so hard from the very top of my head, all the way down to my toes. My core, my teeth, everything in my body was shuddering. Warm tears streamed down my face, as I realized "Holy shit, this is happening".  

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They moved me into my room. My nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural (I wasn't in pain, or uncomfortable). But, I had remembered that my girlfriend Terry, from California, told me once that if I was offered an epidural, take it as early as you can, even if you aren't in pain, so you are as comfortable as possible and so you can rest before delivery. So that I did. The anesthesiologist, the kindest most caring person, met with me to administer the epidural. He explained that it would feel like a bee sting, but that I wouldn't feel anything after that. He was right. He instructed me to roll onto my side and Manny observed in horror. To this day, I don't know how big that needle was, but the look on Manny's face said "Holy shit balls, that is huge". We waited 10-15 minutes for the numbing to take effect. When it did, the nurses came in to move me. That. was. weird. Being paralyzed by this medicine from the waist down was mind blowing. I watched the nurse pick up two large lifeless legs to hoist them over to the right. When I realized that they were my legs. I almost puked. I do not recommend looking when that happens. Anyway, at around 8:30pm, my husband needed his work materials (laptop, paperwork etc). He needed a way to communicate with work through email blah blah, deadlines blah blah, big boss kinda stuff, and I called the only person I knew would come through without hesitation because we just have each others back like that. My girl, my bestie, my Laura Gleton. Everyone needs a friend like her. I am so so so beyond blessed to call her my friend. She drove to my house, picked up Manny's belongings, and drove 45 min south to the hospital for me. Some may say "oh that was nice", but for me, it meant the universe. She spent some time visiting with me in the hospital that night and it was so special. 

At about 11pm, the nurse checked and mentioned that I wasn't dilating at all!! But she could see on the monitor that I was having some pretty serious contractions. They contacted my Dr. and she instructed them to start Pitocin to get me going. It was a loooooooooooong night. Nurses checked in on me every hour, and sleeping was pretty much impossible. The best part though was that I wasn't in any discomfort or pain. 

At about 8:30am, my Doctor (Dr. Parrett), came in and said I was dilated at a 7. She checked Mila's positioning and Dr. Parrett noticed Mila was in face position. Face position means that Mila's head was tilted face up with her neck back, which meant vaginal delivery was literally impossible, and very dangerous. Dr. Parrett told me that she would give Mila an hour and come back and check to see if she changed position. During that hour, I pressed my belly to try to nudge her to change positions but she wasn't moving. An hour later, Dr. Parrett came in, checked again. I was dilated at a 10, and Mila's face was in the same position but now, her head was wedged way way down my pelvic bone. When my doctor discovered this, she immediately and urgently called in her staff, tossed Manny scrubs, and said "Marilyn, we need to get Mila out now, you are going to have a c-section". As those words were coming out, I already had nurses prepping me quickly for emergency c-section. I began to convulse, as adrenaline, shock, and fear poured over me. It happened so fast, but I remember every detail.

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At 9:15am, They rolled me into a very sterile white room with metal tools and knives that laid on small tray tables around the hospital cot, with large circular bright lights that aggressively hovered around the ceiling, and a medical staff of at least 10 filled the room. My anesthesiologist pulled up a stool and sat behind me with his assuring hand on my shoulder the whole time. He promised to take good care of me and communicated with me during my surgery. I needed that badly. I truly thought I was going to just fade into darkness. As the medical team prepped my body, my anesthesiologist had increased the dosage of the medicine so I couldn't feel anything from my armpits down. It was a weird feeling. Dr. Parrett announced that they were going to start cutting me open, and Manny's mouth dropped to the floor. I remember him looking at me saying "Babe, do you feel that", and I was feeling loopy and replied "Nope". Gosh I am grateful for modern medicine.

At 9:55am, on Wednesday June 1, 2016, Mila Snow Gomez was born. She measured 21" long, and weighed 7 lbs 15 oz. She was perfect. I remember waiting to see her and envisioning what she would look like. I laid behind that blue curtain as the medical team stitched my belly up and Manny had left my side to go meet Mila. My anesthesiologist kept telling me it was okay to close my eyes and to relax, but I couldn't. I wanted to meet her so so badly. Even though it was completely unexpected, I was glad I had a C-section. It was actually a really good experience. I also, loved the very fact that it was my husband that got to see and hold her first. I had the privilege of carrying her for 9 months, and I got to selfishly feel her nudges, flutters and kicks in my belly. So to know that my hubby got to meet and hold her first was the best gift I could give him. After what felt like 10 years, Manny walked over to me while he held Mila (at 10:08am), and he brought her up to my face and laid her there. She was mine. I closed my eyes and inhaled her sweet heavenly scent and just praised God. She was mine. She was the missing link and I was finally complete. I choked back tears and was overcome with the purest happiness.

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She was here. The battle was over. We had won. 

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5 ways to raise a Smart Baby

Anyone else miss the Starbucks red cups for Christmas? I am currently sipping on a Grande Soy Chai, sitting on a stool at my local Starbucks, watching people scurry in for their daily buzzzz. Anyway, the cup almost looks like a coloring book. Black and white drawings, depicting Christmas, with presents, trees, ornaments sprinkled throughout the cup with pops of red peppered throughout. I kinda like it. Reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. Which is presents, obvi...........juuuuuuuuust kidding, its togetherness (insert silly face). 

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Yeeeowzaaa, you must be thinking " Okay Marilyn, please move on to the topic of your bloggity blog post".

I receive tons of DMs and messages from new mamas or moms in general wanting to learn more about Mila's learning lessons, and what/how I do them. I keep them quite simple actually and below are the 5 key how-to's.

To START, Here are some FACTS:

 (image from Buzz South Africa)

(image from Buzz South Africa)

The first THREE years a child’s brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood. Little neurons are tripling at the most fastest rate ever. Now, I am not an expert in this, however, there are hundreds of supporting research studies that this is true. Knowing all of this, I felt the biggest responsibility in my life to maximize and take advantage of my baby's development and capitalizing on the possibility of raising a brainiac.  A child’s senses report to the brain about her environment and experiences, and this input stimulates neural activity. Speech sounds, for example, stimulate activity in language-related brain regions. If the amount of input increases (if more speech is heard) synapses between neurons in that area will be activated more often. 

1. Talking. I talk to Mila allllllllll daaaaaaay long. But NO BABY TALK, and NO MISPRONOUNCING words to make them sound baby-like. I talk and have talked to Mila like an adult, however, I do use a higher pitched voice, since studies show babies/toddlers respond and listen better to higher pitched voices.  I started this when she was a newborn. What do you talk about you ask? Everything and it starts with every morning. I greet her with an "Hola, buenos Dias hermosa" (Hi, Good morning beautiful). Then, I go and open the window curtains, as I tell her exactly what I am doing. Basically, in summary, I explain everything I am doing and why. Early on in the newborn stage, she just listened and you may think they aren't paying attention, but they are. Now that she is 17 months old. She responds to what I am doing, a "Buenos Dias", is replied by her saying "Hola" as she flops her little hand around in her attempt to wave. Talking, and explaining, "this is a light switch, this is what it does", "We have to feed the dog, he must be so hungry" (examples). 

2. No TV. Hard right? But there are NO benefits to putting your baby/toddler in front of a TV. There isn't. So don't do it. I didn't realize how much I needed the TV on, until I was intentionally trying to keep it off. Look for activities to keep your baby/toddler busy in a pack n' play so they learn independent play and problem solving. Now, yes I am a culprit in turning the TV on for Mila for me to do quick tasks like cleaning up after meal time or answering a quick email, but I set my timer to 15 min. and try to stay in that range. Now that Mila is a little older (17 months), there are a few 15 min educational shows I will let her watch, but we interact with it together so she isn't just plopped in front of the TV. It also keeps me from sitting back and wasting time on social media .  Some of our favorite shows are (Pocoyo, Little Baby Bum (the counting and shapes episodes,  Word Party). 

3. Our hard lessons are only during meal times. We sit together during every meal and eat together. During that time we play music to start off. It has been so funny to observe what kind of music she likes. So far, Despacito is her favorite and we have listened to it so many times, that I have grown to hate it. HA. Her favorite genre though are the 80's, and that fact alone makes me so freaking happy because I cannot get enough of Toto. ANYWAY, I use an iPad for our lessons, and google search images. When we started our lessons, I kicked it off with animals. I would google different animals, click on images, show her the image, say what it was called plus if there is a sound related to it, I would make the sound. I show her 3 different ones and then start again and ask her "What is this", "What noise does it make". I introduce a new category every few weeks depending on how she does and get more creative on how we revisit the category throughout the day and week. So if we are learning about animals, I would make it a goal to go to the zoo, shelter etc. so she can experience it live. The categories we started off with are the following: Body parts, Animals, household items, outdoors (trees, plants, flowers), vehicles, colors, numbers. (still working on colors and numbers). This may feel overwhelming, but it really isn't. Just sit with your baby/toddler during meal times (because that is when you will have their undivided attention and they can't go anywhere). 

4. Know your baby/toddler and capitalize when you notice that they are really into something. For example, several weeks ago, Mila kept saying "Nay, Nay, Caballo" (horse). So I catered our lessons around horses, their colors, we went to a local horse farm, fed them apples etc. Get the picture? Doesn't have to be formal, just make it fun. Listen to your child. There have been a few days where I tried to give her lessons and she flat out said "No, No, NOOOO", with a dramatic head roll and finger waving. So did we do lessons that day? No we didn't. But I did come up with other ways for her to learn. 

5. Have Fun, be creative, and become a kid again. This is the best time of your life. Maximize the little moments you have together, put your phone aside, and let your house get messy and just submerge yourself in the imaginary and big world your child is experiencing right now. Put yourself in their shoes, try to see what they see, feel what they feel and connect with your little one in a way where you both speak the same lingo.

Also, if you are running out of creative play and learning ideas, below are a few pages in IG that I like to reference: @happytoddlerplaytime, @playfullittlelearners, @earlylearning101

Now, I do not claim to be an expert in anything, and kinda winging this motherhood thing. I do know one thing though, and that is the importance of teaching your child through consistent talking and being purposeful and intentional about the time you have together.

I hope you find this helpful and please message me if you have any questions.

Thank you for reading, love your face.

Marilyn

Hello from the blogging siiiiiiiiiide (in Adele voice)

Mila is down for the night (me doing the Carlton in excitement). I am sitting on my fluffy white bed, sipping on hot chocolate with Curb your Enthusiasm re-runs playing on the TV. Anyone watch that show? It. Is. Hysterical!

I used to blog yeeeeeaaaars ago (you can read here www.pinkbambina.blogspot.com). Since then, we moved to Utah, built a home, adopted a dog, did IVF 3 times, got pregnant, had a BABYYYY, and basically here we are, living the dream life. Why am I blogging again? I love to talk, share, communicate, I am opinionated, open, and I love to write. Plus, we have family allllllll over the place that want to keep up with La Casa Gomez (translation: The Gomez house, for those that don't know español), and so it's nice to have a little space here on the interwebs to share all the things. Many things. Many great wonderful things. Many great amazing, wonderful, beautiful things. Okay, I will stop. 

Hey, thank you for sitting here with me. I promise to be vulnerable, real, authentic, and kind. I like you. 

Love, 

Marilyn