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My Tattooed Mantra

Been through worse… reads my right forearm. I have. You have. We all have.

Don’t forget it.

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Day 6 was a success! Sergio didn’t use the phone once, mainly because he didn’t have abuelita’s phone anymore. And also because I am loathe to give up my own phone so that he can look at YouTube.

Now, on day 7 we are making some real progress. The phone’s whereabouts have not been sought after and the hose is going full blast. (Indeed, a worm was just brought to me).

I’m not sure what the end goal will be for this trial. I’m not sure how much screen time my children will be allowed yet. And there are a lot of recommendations out there. I just want my children to have fun off the phone. I’m sure we’ll find a middle ground soon.

Or I hope so.

Skincare Resolution

Back in January (as many did) I wrote a list of goals for this year.

I am happy to announce that the first goal (to potty train Sergio) is complete, as well as the goal of finding a skincare regimen.

I am not sponsored nor affliated by/ with the following company or Birchbox, which is where I found it. I gain nothing from this post.

The skincare regimen that I am now following is with products from AirRepair. I love the smell of the product and, according to the company’s website, is vegan and cruelty-free. Here is where I bought this kit of travel sized products.

The Cleansing Milk, Hydrating Serum, and All Purpose Skin Salve and Lip Balm are my favorites.

The travel sizes should last me awhile and I am enjoying taking care of my skin. What’s your favorite part of your grooming regimen?

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Days 3 and 4 have been rough. I’ve won some battles and also lost a few. However, he had very little screen time on Day 3, even though when I awoke later than usual I found that my husband had already given him a phone.

Day 4 was full of arguments over the phone. By 9:00 a.m. Sergio was begging for the addictive device.

“It’s too early!” I told him.

Around 11:30 we went outside to play in the hose (an excellent tool for distracting children). Things went smoothly until the daily afternoon phone calls started coming in. Abuelita answered and tried speaking with a sibling of mine.

As my mother tried to speak on the phone Sergio became very loud, boisterous, and frankly, bratty. The phone call was cut short. Sergio asked for a cellphone. We caved.

Sergio promptly ran inside to sit on the couch with the phone, Marisol hot on his heels. Marisol likes to try and watch the phone with him but Sharing is not Sergio’s forte. I don’t mind that Sergio doesn’t share YouTube with Mari because she’s too young for it anyway. Soon she grew tired of Sergio’s stinginess and came back outside with myself and my mother.

While my mother, Marisol, and I gardened outside, Sergio watched his phone. We are always in and out eating snacks and such. Then, suddenly, at 7:15 p.m. (which is close to bedtime) Sergio came out onto the porch dancing and singing to a music video. Marisol carried a toy that sings Baby Shark (my. favorite. song.).

We all clapped and danced. I stubbed out my last cigarette of the day and hauled my ducklings off to bed.

As I laid next to my children in bed I started looking through my own phone. Then, from the darkness, came a little voice telling me to turn it off.

I smiled and did so. I guess we all need a reminder to turn it off once in a while.

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Day 2

Surprisingly, our second day of abstaining from YouTube went quite well. At 10:00 a.m. there had still been no mention of the phone and shortly after, the two babes went on a rare outing with S. to wash his work truck.

The day was not without its hiccups, however. When my family returned from the truck washing, S. offered Sergio the phone because he was being whiny and inconsolable.

“Let’s go outside,” I suggested, putting a stop the argument over the phone.

We ventured forth into the sun and spent most of the day outside. We had a backyard picnic and watered our garden boxes. Things went well.

Until around 4:00 p.m. when I considered giving in. S. had gone to the store, sending Sergio into a temper tantrum. Thankfully, S. returned rather quickly and the phone was forgotten.

Around 5:00 p.m. Sergio begged for the phone again. I ignored him.

Finally, Sergio got his phone from 7:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. He laid in bed with it, relaxing until he fell asleep.

Ah well, we did our best.

Backyard Picnics Through COVID

Nice to Haves

  1. A rug that you don’t mind getting dirty
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Lunch (Today we cheated with McDonalds)
  5. Comfortable clothes (That’s why the baby lacks pants and shoes – in a bid to keep her cooler)
  6. Music or videos to entertain
  7. A thankful and positive attitude
  8. Nice weather (LOL)

However you picnic in your backyard I’m sure you’ll have all of the necessities. Just have fun.

Lessening Screen Time with Sergio

Being in isolation (nothing new to me), the cell phones in my household have been in use quite often lately. Though we don’t watch very much TV and the baby is allowed no screen time, Sergio is an adept YouTube scroller. However, it needs to stop.

Against my better judgement we let Sergio start playing with a cellphone about a year and a half ago. Now there are some days where he is on it for hours. Call it bad mothering, call it what you will. I call it a little screen addiction.

Anyway. I have decided to begin the process of removing the phone from his clutches. Here’s how the first day went.

Day 1

Sergio asked for the phone around 9:30 a.m. I firmly told him no. He firmly told me no to breakfast. Ah well.

I gave Sergio the phone at ten a.m.

At 10:30 a.m. tornado sirens could still be heard from the living room (he loves tornado videos).

At 10:45 it was nice enough to go outside. We played with the hose, dirt, mud, sand, and the like.

Around noon we ate lunch and the two ducklings played quietly (side by side) in the living room. This was shortlived and we moved back outside for the remainder of the afternoon.

S. was on his way home so rigorous bathing was needed. After letting the two play in the tub (with many Hotwheels added in) I scrubbed their hair, ears, and hands. Screaming and crying ensued but they were especially dirty and muddy last night.

After drying off and getting cozy, dressed in PJs, it was bedtime. Sergio didn’t ask for the phone once during this time, which is rare.

Two sleeping babies later and Day 1 was a success. Let’s call it beginner’s luck for now 😉

All Was Connected

Psychosis, and the recovery time after, has a strange symptom. A sense of grandeur. A feeling as if you are spiritually connected to all around you. A feeling of telekinetic powers. For me, anyway.

During this time I met a horse. A neighbor of my father’s property in Tennessee. “A mean horse,” my father had warned. Well, with all the confidence in the world I walked down the hill and to the fence where the horse was standing.

It was sunny out, the middle of September. My heart had already been ripped from my chest and I was searching for an animal familiar to me.

The grass where the horse stood was nibbled short and he was trying to reach some of the longer, sweeter grasses on my father’s property. But barbed wire was strung along the fence, in areas where the horse might poke his head through.

His nose was scratched. Foolishly, I tried to pull the barbed wire loose. Nothing happened. So, I reached down and pulled up big handfuls of grass and passed them to the horse. Greedily, he munched.

“This is me,” I said, shaking my silver chain, which at the time hung round my neck with Bella’s tag attached. It jingled and the horse pricked his ears. I fed him more grasses.

Then, I kissed his nose.

I was raised around horses but generally fear them, which in turn makes them fear me. I hope this horse doesn’t fear me the next time I see him, because he was just the connection I needed.

Dogs Say Nothing

The day before we left that hotel in Arkansas Bella broke a nail. It had gotten caught in a grate that covered a drainage slope in the sidewalk near the laundry room. We were leaving the next day.

Bella refused to walk on her foot, so S. carried her. He loaded her into the truck and we left for Florida. He carried her into the next hotel, both of them resentful over their predicment. Bella was heavy and they never liked each other.

In fact, S. had been afraid only some weeks prior that she was going to bite him during play. See, Bella wasn’t really aggressive, but sometimes she would get a glint in her eye that was hard to read. I had told him to quit, because I hadn’t been sure either.

But they were reliant on each other while we travelled from Jacksonville, Florida (where I stood in the ocean while S. and his men swam further out; a rare day out for all) to Northern Michigan, somewhere near the Canadian border. I was as crabby as Bella, riding in the passenger’s seat and being four months pregnant or so.

It was late at night when we neared our exit. Bella was laying in the backseat while I manned the GPS. Suddenly, the signs on the road were telling us to get off now. The border was ahead.

“Get off,” I said.

“What does the GPS say?” S. asked, for the GPS hadn’t spoken up yet. The USA and Canada flags were painted on the next overhead sign.

“Just follow the fuckin’ pictures,” I had said.

“But what does the GPS say?”

“Take the exit,” the GPS finally replied.

Bella, as usual, said nothing.

A Reminiscing Essay

With the spirit in mind that this blog is a record, a series of essays is to follow, written mostly for my own benefit. Maybe they’ll strike you in some way. This is the story of the first meal I ever cooked. I was 22, engaged, and living in a hotel room while my fiance worked construction during the day.

I had no tools, no pots or pans. I take that back. I had one knife, a cup, a plastic cutting board, and an electric griddle with deep sides and a glass lid. Our spice rack resided above the television on a shelf of the TV stand/dresser. Peanut butter, coffee filters, hot sauce, and the like were stored there also. I was pregnant with Sergio.

Now, I had only cooked a steak once or twice and though I know how to throw a salad together under any circumstances, that was about all I knew how to do. I had just learned to make guacamole actually, so I had about two recipes under my belt. I decided to make steaks and guacamole. Also I made Angel’s food cake, but that’s a no-brainer; I don’t count it as a recipe anymore.

I marinated the steaks in Caribbean Jerk Sauce (it’s in the dressings aisle, I think) by filling a plastic bag with the meat and the sauce. Then I stuffed the plastic bag into the mini fridge that our room also included. Bella was alive then, and was roaming free in the room (we paid extra for that). She reclined in an arm chair while I diced tomato, onion, and cilantro by the sink. I longed for more space. But there wasn’t any to be had next to the shallow sink basin and our accoutrements of the shower pushed neatly to the side.

I seared the steaks in the griddle thing and they turned out okay. We ate the steaks and the guacamole on the double bed. Only I had dessert. Bella had some scraps. S. drank a beer. I laid awake that night with insomnia and a sense of pride for having served my first meal.

There’s a few changes I would make now, but that night we ate good.

Before the Postpartum

Judging by my postpartum experiences, one might expect that I had traumatic birth experiences. Well, I didn’t. I gave birth two both of my children easily. I received the epidural with my son when I was dilated to 7 cm and I received an epidural with my daughter at 9 cm (I should’ve skipped it but I was tired by that point). Each pregnancy and birth are different for each woman. I had two perfect pregnancies (except for the fatigue in the first trimester) and two easy births.

Postpartum depression doesn’t take that into effect, I guess, and according to Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, there is no one cause of PPD. Hormones seem to overwhelm my body and the chemical imbalances in my brain cause me to suffer postpartum depression (and psychosis with my daughter). According to the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health, there is a spectrum of mental disorders that occur after birth including the baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. The center also claims that 85% of women suffer from some sort of postpartum mood disturbance.

Postpartum depression and mood disorders are serious, but more common than you might think. I will be continuing my research and am participating in research through the MGH Center for Women’s Health with their study on postpartum psychosis. I am lucky to have support, medical care, and an outlet in this blog to help me recover.

If you, as a new mom, or someone you know is feeling guilty for no reason, has changes in sleeping or appetite, has obsessive thoughts about the baby, or has thoughts of harming themselves or others, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. This post is not to diagnose or treat postpartum disorders. The symptoms I have listed are from the MGH Center for Women’s Health website and from the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy offers some suggestions for treatment but talking with your doctor is the most important. I advise that you speak honestly with your doctor as well, something that I was too ashamed to do when I suffered PPD with my son. The Mayo Clinic offers tips such as exercising daily, eating well, staying connected with family, and asking for help. Above all, talk to your doctor.