Sunflower Child

Taking a step back from this blog just kind of happened. I thought many times that I was sharing too much and that I needed to close this space or make it private. After Jolie passed, it became the only place where I could seek refuge. During my pregnancy with Grey it was nice to have this community genuinely happy for me and cheering me on. But I only became more confused about this blog after having my son. While I LOVE reading family blogs plastered with photos of their children, I just couldn't get comfortable with the idea for us. But what was I to write about as a stay at home mom besides my baby? Slowly my interest dwindled and months passed by with me being comfortable with not sharing parts of my life here anymore. I have another blog, which keeps me quite busy and doesn't require me to share too much about my personal life. Over the past few weeks I'd find myself reading through this space crying, laughing at my self and wondering what I was thinking with some of them. It's kinda dope to have this journal of words, photo and video. Being able to pick a date in the past and see what I was doing at that time is cool. The saving grace for LL&L has been that it would be amazing to have my kids read this one day and get to know before I was mom. 

Sharing my family online is kinda of scary. Just a few months ago I was helping a fellow blogger and mother to get her daughters photo removed from an IG account where this woman, pretended that her daughter was hers. It only made me more comfortable with never writing here again. And the meanies. The internet can be tough. I'm lucky enough to have never been attacked online or had to deal with being on forums - but the thought of exposing my child to that makes my blood boil. I'm not a big blogger with tons of haters or anything, but just the possibility of it annoys me. If someone to ever say anything about my boy...well... I wouldn't share here what I would do. 

I'm still not sure what I'm doing back here but it feels good to be back.

Logging into my google reader and catching up with everyones lives has been so fun! Some are expecting babies, had the baby that they were pregnant with last time I read, bought a house, are moving to a different country - so much has changed. As for me, I cut all my hair off, doing well with the other site and am starting a bath and beauty brand in memory of my daughter. My house still doesn't look like a Pinterest board and shit life isn't perfect. I'm still trying to figure out this mom thing, how to not be poor and I need to go back to therapy. In all though, nothing devastating has happened in the last few months which I'm really excited about. Overall I'm happy, still a little confused about this blog and just trying to stay encouraged...oh yea and I lost 33 pounds.

This my friends is life currently, otherwise known as all the things you missed when I stopped blogging here. Special shout out to me for blogging consistently this week and getting you all caught up.

WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?


love,
Jin

Happy Place

Giving birth to two babies, but only being able to raise one is an odd feeling. Jolie is very much apart of our everyday life, but I just didn't picture my life like this. I don't think I'll ever fully understand why she came and went back to Heaven the way she did. However, as what would have been her third birthday approaches, I realize how much purpose my little girl has given me. I'm really passionate about helping other women who have unfortunately experienced something similar. Early in my healing, I was so afraid of being known as "the girl whose baby died". 

At this point, things are good but I still have bad days...like about a month ago when I had a melt down in the bathroom at work. When I really sit and think about the whole thing, it's way too much. I'm good though! I've come to accept that I'm not going to get over her death - I'm going to have to deal with it for the rest of my life. 

It still hurts. It always will. 

We always talk to Grey about his sister, sometimes he kisses her urn. Though he doesn't understand at 15 months old - he will grow up knowing that he has a big sister in Heaven.

We're creating so many memories that I wish she was apart of, it makes me really sad sometimes. I am however so grateful to now have my boy and watch him blossom before my eyes. What a joy is it to see him grow and experience his love. I love his facial expression when I pick him up at daycare and he's always so excited when his daddy gets home from work. He loves to blow kisses at us and give big hugs. Looking through old photos of my husband and I - I could not have imagined us being where we are now. But this is life right? There are good seasons and growing pains. I'm finally in a place where I'm present and I'm enjoying it.




love,
Jin

Toddler Food Adventures

Food has been interesting for us. Since breastfeeding didn't work out so well , I really wanted to get things right when I introduced solids. I have to say that I'm surprised that I didn't completely loose my shit marbles over my breastfeeding struggle. I just felt like such a failure until I got over myself and the expectations of the outside world. Ya know, the people that don't pay my bills or put food on my table. I'm happy to report that after months of experimentation, trial and error - I think we've got our nutrition down. My kid is an eater! I haven't found many foods that he doesn't like and thankfully, no allergic reactions. Here's what works for us:



  • WHEN I COOK: Depending on what I cook for dinner, I'll typically throw it in the blender and grind it up for baby. I use water to thin it out a bit if it's a little too heavy for his tummy. 
  • STORE BOUGHT: Earth's Best is a favorite in these parts! I always have a couple of the Stage 3 foods in his bag just in case. They're easy and convenient for take out nights or on evenings when I'm just too tired. The smoothies are a perfect snack for on the go! They're also a great way to have the baby feed themselves with minimal mess to clean up afterward. He loved the cereal as well but the servings aren't that big and this guy has a huge appetite. I'd be done with the entire box after 2 to 3 meals. At this point I give him whatever organic oatmeal that I eat. I also love to add blueberries or banana on top to make sure he gets an extra serving of fresh fruit. 
  • LIQUIDS: Water, Almond Milk and Organic Apple Juice
I also LOVE "The Wholesome Baby Food Guide" by my internet homie Maggie Meade. You can also visit her website for fun recipes for your little one. I'll talk more in depth about the book in an upcoming post. 

This is what is working for us at this time and my little guy is as healthy as ever! 


Tell me what works for your family :)


love,
Jin

GUMBO LIMBO & THE NATURE LOVING FAMILY


Growing up, there was a period in time where I didn't realize that my cousins and I were different genders. I went everywhere they went, and did everything I saw them do. These were my days in Jamaica where if you couldn't find me, I was likely in a tree or trying to kick a football (or soccer if you're American) like the boys did. Shortly after relocating here, I became a girly girl. I mean, I couldn't deny the boobs under my shirt any longer by this point. My husband who basically grew up on the shores of the island is such a nature buff. He can identify different species of fish, alligators...pretty much all marine life. This is a guy who used to swim in alligator infested water...for fun! It is his influence that eventually restored my curiosity and love with being outside. We're even talking about starting a garden in the backyard as an outdoor family activity we don't have to leave home for. Me, a garden? Is this a sign that I'm growing up for real?

Gumbo Limbo is a local nature center that we like to visit when it's not to hot out. Actually, it was a frequent place for us to stroll prior to our last stint in New York. We visited there for the first time since moving back and had a great time. If you're a turtle lover, they rehabilitate injured the ones that they've rescued. Admission is free, but you can leave a donation on your way out to keep the nature center alive. It's definitely a place I'd like to continue taking Grey to visit as he grows up.  
This is the moment that I understood why it's important for me to consider cloth diapering. If I can't bring myself to do it, the biodegradable from Honest seem like a great way to go. 
One of my hopes for my little boy is that he grows up loving nature and enjoys being outside. We're excited to get our little garden going and watch it grow as our family grows. 

What kind of outdoor activities do you like to do with your family?

love,
Jin

Independence Day


Today was an unexpectedly emotional day for me. I started working full time in Feb for the first time in two years (this one didn't work out) which was an adjustment in itself. Couple that with now being a mother (and one who had spent the first full year at home with baby), I had A LOT of feelings. I knew it was normal for there to be an adjustment period for both of us when he started daycare.The first few days were horrible for Grey! He'd cry the entire day and would only stop if he were held in someones arms. Much faster than I expected, he eventually became well adjusted and social. Sure he'd still cry a little when I hand him over but he's over it by the time I hit the door. Sometimes I'll peek in and he's playing with a toy or his little friends when he thinks I've already left.
 
This morning however, something unexpectedly happened that made me realize that my 15 month old is not the newborn that I took home from the hospital anymore. I put him to sit in his big boy chair in class, and much to my surprise he reached for the book on the table, opened it and seemingly forgot that I was there. He didn't cry, didn't wave good bye - nothing. He just sat obediently in his seat and flipped through his little toddler book. I started tearing up when I got back in my car.

Firstly, when did he grow up so fast? And when did he become so independent? At this stage he's constantly surprising me with the things that he knows how to do. Weekly there's something new, but today he supposed my husband and I both with new skills. He's growing up so quickly. I definitely miss being at home, but as I do have to work at this time, I can see that he's in great hands. That alleviates some of my worries. It's just that, I remember the pregnancy with him dragging on as my mind played tricks on me - it seemed like he'd never get here. Now he's saying "highs" to everybody and practically running. It really does go fast. Thankfully I have quite a few more years until he's fully independent and doesn't need his mommy for everything.
{ these photos were taken a few weeks ago on one of our Sunday beach trips}

love,
Jin

Grey's 1st Birthday

The days leading up to Grey's birthday were quite emotional for me. It feels like only yesterday that I was desperately praying to God for this little bean to be safe while I carried him in my belly. I can't believe that I now have a toddler who is walking around and continuously bringing so much joy to our lives.
 
I've learned a lot about myself since becoming a mother. The journey here hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it. A friend of mine attended the party with her son and he's the age that Jolie would have been at this point. I felt a little lump in my throat as I saw him in comparison to Grey, imagining my daughter running around too. When it's all said and done, I'm grateful to have received another chance at motherhood and its been a Blessing.
 
Enough with the mushy stuff though, let's get to the fun part - the party:
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I'd originally planned for the party to be in the same park where we hung out with friends a little while back. The weather seemed to be unpredictable for the weekend so I moved the location at the last minute. Of course it then turned out to be a perfect day and I regretted it. Despite planning everything in advance, things went crazy that day. We started extremely late and I felt horrible as guests arrived and we were still setting up. Everyone even started pitching in to help. This wasn't the way that I planned it, but everyone was so understanding and helpful. Then it turned out that we had nowhere to heat up the food so my mom ended up having to go back home to use the oven. I was so frustrated. Parties are my thing and I just couldn't understand why everything was going so haywire after such careful planning. Eventually I just had to check myself and relax. This was a day to celebrate the birth of my child and he didn't care about anything that I was stressing over. As far as he was concerned, he had space to walk around and all his favorite people were hanging out him.
The dessert table though...that was perfect! Except the fact that my husband left the Publix box on the table, but I didn't notice since I was so busy running around.
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For the theme, I went with Little Sailor Boy with pintables customized by Hostess With The Mostess. I love edible favors, so I kept it simple by purchasing cookies from BJ's that I put into favor bags that I purchased from Walmart. I then taped on cut outs from my pintables to tie it in with the theme.
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I'd originally planned on baking everything myself but opted for store bought cupcakes to save time. I taped toothpicks to the back of the cutouts to use them as cupcake toppers.
 
Once I got out of my own head, I was able to have fun with my baby on his big day.
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I got to catch up with friends that I hadn't seen in a while the bigger kids played musical chairs, ran around outside and threw rocks in the lake.
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Finally, we all gathered around to sing happy birthday and Grey got his first taste of cake - he wasn't a fan!
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What started off rocky ended well - Grey had a blast! He danced, he ate, he played, he got tons of presents - he loved it. I'm so grateful to everyone who came, those that helped blow up balloons, etc. Thank you!
 
As for me, this was one of my many lessons once again teaching me that things can't always be perfect so I need to relax ((sigh)). I'm working on it!
 
Thank you again to those who came out to my boys special day!


love,
Jin

Only If It Makes Me Happy

**THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ON NOVEMBER 17,2013**

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This weekend we started the process of getting the house ready for Thanksgiving dinner. For those of you who have been here for a really long time, you may remember when my then fiancée built some tables for us to use for the many parties that we host. There has been lots of wear and tear over the years, so he took it apart to re-enforce it before our upcoming dinner. So many things have happened since that he built that table just about five years ago. And just like I did in 2008, I sat in the very same backyard watching him work. This time though, we had just celebrated 4 years of marriage and I was multi-tasking by keeping a watchful eye on our 10 month old son.

This weekend another person passed away from my home town - the second one in the past three weeks. Both were in my age group, and while I didn't know them personally but it's been sad to read all the facebook status' of our mutual friends mourning their losses. These people were so young.
I've come to look at death differently since my daughters passing. It's certainly made me appreciate even the smaller details that I once overlooked. For the first time in years, I feel sharp again. In the past two years I've gotten pregnant twice, mourned the loss of one of those children, am adjusting to motherhood with my son, moved out of state and the list goes on and on. A lot has happened. I've finally found a way to grieve without taking my self out for an entire day, I've come a long way with my PTSD - I feel good.

I've been on a mission to happiness and I've arrived. I know that as adults, we sometimes have to do things that aren't so fun to reap the benefits later...but what if later doesn't come? I want to be happy now. Today. Right this moment. Weekends like this one makes me happy. Going on a date with my husband, eating food that my trainer won't be happy about and being with Grey. Simple things like watching my husband work in the backyard and seeing how much his son is focused on what he's doing makes me happy. My little family is everything to me, and while I sometimes worry about our future, I know that everything is going to be just fine. Why worry? The money will come. The opportunities will come. Of course I have to work for them, but they're coming so I won't use an ounce of worry anymore.
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I'm currently in the process of transitioning into a work at home position because well, that what will make me happy and works for my family. This will allow me to do all the things that make me happy (like being home with my baby) but with a guaranteed paycheck as I'm in the beginning of building my dream career.

Don't worry about what everyone else is doing or what they think you should do. Only you know what your situation really is, and you have to live with your choices every day.
If there are things in your life that aren't making you happy, figure how to fix it or make the decision to let it go. But always remember, you deserve happiness and only you can define what happiness means to you.


love,
Jin

Your Days And Nights Are Not Your Own


^^ Grey's Breakfast^^
 
While skimming through one of my favorite blogs the other day, the writer shared photos from a recent family trip to visit her fiancées family. Her soon to be brother in law has a few children  and she mentioned how quickly she realized that your days and nights are not your own when you become a parent. So true. Though Grey has been sleeping through the night since he was about two or three months old, I still don't sleep the way I used to. Even in my sleep, I'm not fully relaxed. The slightest movement from him and I jump out of my sleep. Not to mention that he now gets up in the wee hours of the morning to watch his dad get ready for work. By the time my husband leaves and we go back to bed, it's time for me to get up again to take my sister to school. And why don't babies understand day light savings or weekends? My now 10 month old son is the boss of my life. He controls when I wake up, when I go to sleep, how much sleep I get, and what I can and cannot do throughout the day.
 
I remember prior to becoming a mother, I'd watch my sister with her girls and I'd wonder how she did it. How does a woman become so selfless and tend to the every waking need of these little people? Yet it's become second nature to me and I find myself doing the same without a second thought.
 
Grey is quickly approaching toddlerhood and I find myself running behind him all day, figuring out his diet for the next stage, and planning his first birthday party. On some days I even think about adding another baby to the mix. Keyword: Thinking...not trying!
 
When it's all said and done, I absolutely love being a mother. Motherhood is one of the few areas in my life where I feel absolutely fulfilled. There are certainly challenges but my instincts always lead me out the tunnel...even if I get poop or baby food on my clothes in the process.
 
I'm trying to work on making other areas of my life as gratifying as being a mom, and it's all coming together slowly but surely. I've even applied for an internship in the field that I desire to start a career in - I've been praying about it like crazy. In the meantime, I'm trying to take life day by day, and doing my best to stay focused on my fitness journey. Today actually marks 4 years since I've gotten married and it blows my mind when I think about all that's happened since then. I can't wait to celebrate this weekend, even though I'm sad at the thought of spending a night away from the baby.
 
The relaunch/redesign of this blog is coming soon but I've unfortunately hit a little road block. It's on it's way though!
 
What's Been Going On With You Lately?
 
love,
Jin

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