23 and Jen

I have always been fascinated by the past. Where I come from and the history of how my family came to be. Being from a Latino descent I know from stories and history I am a mix of cultures, and I love it. It just means that I am an amazing blend of diversity and history.

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When I was little, my grandmother would tell me the story of my great-grandfather and how his father was Spaniard who fell in love with a Taino women and her native island, Puerto Rico. He stayed and raised a family there on a bit of farmland. I never knew how accurate the story was and honestly, I still don’t know all the details. But on my journey of finding out a little bit more about my melting pot of DNA, I fell a little bit more in love with myself.

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When I found 23 and me I knew it would help me piece together so many questions I had regarding my ancestry. How much of me is from where and who? I mean, who doesn’t want to know where they’re descended from? But I actually may have more questions now than before taking the test. I have 2 parents; so who is more of what? Where and when did the Spanish descendant come to Puerto Rico and is there any real truth to the stories I was told as a child?

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Taking the test was fairly easy; just spit into a test tube, seal it up, and send it in. I chose the Health and Ancestry test because I wanted to know it all. I registered my kit on the site and took a few of the questionnaires they provided – which are totally optional. I filled out a few each day to help ease my desperation while waiting for my results. When I received the results, it was honestly such a rush. Seeing this map light up all over the places that I am from just confirmed my cultural mutt theory.

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My grandmother, as much of you may know, is in the early stages of dementia. Asking her too many questions about the story that she told me as a child just isn’t possible. So 23 and Me is giving me the opportunity to fill in some of the blanks. Although I am the only one in my home to take the test so far, I think I will eventually purchase the kits for my grandmother and my children, too. 23 and me allows you to link your test with your relatives so you can see your family tree. And they find other relatives that share my ancestry that I’ve never met, never heard of, never known existed. 3rd cousins, 5th cousins – people I am distantly related to who I never would have found otherwise.

Because I can now connect with these people, I have a real chance of finding some more answers. I can find their stories and see how it blends with my own to discover a bit more where I come from. And considering how much of that world is lit with my ancestors, I can tell I have plenty of stories to find.

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Anxiety, Depression oh my!

I wrote this post before the holiday season. I am not the same person I was when I originally wrote this post. I feel so much better now and have for a few weeks. But I know I can get back to feeling this way so I always tread lightly with myself. Keeping busy helps me. Why didn’t I post it then? Honestly, I was embarrassed about what my friends or family would think. That is so sad that I cared so much of other peoples opinions I didn’t share something so raw and true. But its here now, please read and be kind. 

The last few weeks I have been struggling with anxiety and some depression. I suffered silently for the first week. Then I realized my thoughts were getting away from me. So I told somebody. I found someone to listen and I vented. All my fears out on the table. It felt great, but I’m still not “better”.

I feel myself zoning in and out of reality. Like the whole day will go by and it’ll feel like a dream. I get a same headache around 3pm. So when it’s time to pick up the kids and start dinner I am frustrated and exhausted at the day I had lost. At night when I finally hit the bed and I toss and turn till I fall asleep till I’m up again at 4am.

I don’t know what’s happening or what’s causing it. I can only hope that it’s a phase and I will get over it.

A friends advice was to make list and that has started to help. Feeling a little more organized helps with my anxiety. Being honest with my significant other also helps. He knows and console’s me when I need it and gives me space when I need that. He is a great hep in pitching in with chores and meal times but sometimes that makes me feel more useless. I feel more inadequate when I can’t do it all on my own and at times I resent his help.

I have faith that these feelings will fade and I will be “better” soon. I thank god that I have people in my life that help me and can tell when I need help. I know it is not so, for many people. So maybe writing this can possibly help someone, pay a little more attention to those who smile through the pain or hide when they need an ear to just listen. I hope this post reaches someone who needs it.

This may be life for me from now one but I will not let it define me. I will work hard to get up and do everything I can to keep the dark thoughts from my head.

If anyone needs to talk I’m here.

Holiday Photos

Over the summer I was blessed with the opportunity to have a family photo shoot, with the amazing Alli Page. The photos taken that day opened my mind and heart to how precious family photos can be, and with Alli, it was actually an enjoyable moment. It wasn’t your typical family shoot where we were faking smiles or fighting when the camera was put down. Alli’s smiles are infectious and it put the whole family in a great mood.

When we had the chance to have another shoot with Alli, we jumped at this chance. This shoot was at Wagners Christmas Tree Farm. And as with the first shoot, it was amazing. Within 20 min we were done. No one cried or fussed and the photos came out amazing. Mini shoots are a new love of mine because of Alli and her great work. Being able to go in take your family photos and leave still in good spirits is always a win.

If you live in the central, PA area I definitely suggest you check out Alli’s Instagram page to see her work and possibly book her for a shoot. She does more than just mini shoots and I promise you won’t regret it.

 

3 Unexpected Challenges Transitioning to Stay-at-Home-Mom

Both my kids are in school, but I’ve been told being home is still considered being a stay-at-home-mom, so I’m taking it. I’ve always worked and neither of my kids can remember a time prior to now that I’ve been unemployed. They have both have had to deal with late nights and Mama working on the weekends. So when the opportunity came for me to be home full-time I jumped at it. I thought this was going to be amazing; I could finally be a “good” mom. Staying home, to me, meant more home-cooked meals, a cleaner house and that I would always be there for my kids. Some of that is true, but I learned pretty quickly,

Being a stay at home mom isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Just as with everything when you become a parent; the idea of something is completely different than what it’s like in actuality. You think you’re going to be an amazing parent with perfect children… Until you have children and realize no one knows wtf they’re doing.

I have three constant battles I fight with being at home I had no idea would be so hard.

Meals

I thought cooking meals for my family every day would be amazing. I’d make healthy, amazing meals the family would love. The first week was great! I had so many meal ideas; some hits, some misses. But by week 2 I had no idea what to make anymore. I was running out of ideas and enthusiasm. Cooking is exhausting!

Cleaning

How do people keep there homes immaculate. I spend one whole day cleaning one room they come home and its like a bomb goes off the room is a mess again. The laundry basket is always full and the dishes are endless. How is it even possible that this doesn’t improve with me staying home? I am constantly doing laundry and dishes. Does my family make more dishes now? Are they sneaking clothes directly from their drawers to the laundry baskets? How did I do this while I worked full-time?

My Sanity

I feel like I am losing myself. I have always wanted to be this strong, independent, working woman and now I’m not. I feel less than equal to my peers when I have to depend on someone to support me and my children. My guy is doing a great job of it, I have to admit and thankfully, he fully supports my staying at home, but I just feel like a mooch.

I’ve been told by other stay-at-home moms that I’ll get used to it. I’ll get in the swing of cooking and cleaning. I will start to realize that there is no his and mine in a family. But the “Give it time” mentality isn’t doing a whole lot for my adjustment period right now. 

30-Something Mom Seeking Sexy

I never thought I’d do a boudoir photo shoot. 70 pounds ago, I thought that it was something only skinny bitches did. But I kept hearing that it was something that would boost your self esteem and that’s pretty much always good news, so I looked a little closer. And I figured it may also have a pleasant unintended outcome, too. My guy is hard to buy for anyways and if I can make him like me more, I’m in favor of that.

The Prep

I planned it so that the day before my boudoir shoot was devoted to me prepping. I was off from work. The kids were at school so I had time for me. I went to the nail salon early and had the whole place to myself. I got an acrylic set of fingernails and a gel pedicure to ensure it lasted. I even had my eyebrows waxed. I felt amazing, even before my shoot. I dyed and deep conditioned my hair. I even shaved everything below the neck.

Her instructions were pretty detailed. I was given enough time to do up to three outfit changes so I made sure the night before to lay then all out. I didn’t have three outfits that I loved so I kept to two. I mean, at that point I wasn’t even sure I was really going to go through with it. But I did.

Embracing New Experiences

When I walked into my boudoir shoot I was visibly nervous. Katie welcomed me and smiled warmly. The shoot was at her home (As a lot of boudoir shoots are) and after meeting her and seeing how kind she was, I was just glad I wasn’t going to get murdered, honestly. Prior to the shoot we had exchanged several text messages and she even sent me google document with detailed instructions on how to prepare for my shoot. So I guess I was “prepared” – even if I pulled up to the address feeling ready to puke.

But then there was Katie. It didn’t take long before I was feeling a bit more at ease. After reading reviews of other boudoir photographers, I’m convinced this is the thing they have in common: They can make you feel comfortable, even when you’re entirely prepared to be awkward and weird. We talked a few minutes about what I wanted and I showed her the outfits I’d chosen. She was very reassuring and suggested I start with the more modest outfit. She said by outfit number two, I’d have the confidence to rock it. And boy, was she was right.

She Knew Exactly What She Was Doing

She took the time to make sure all my poses were, not only flattering, but that I was comfortable with each. She showed me a few images here and there as she shot to build my confidence so the more she shot, the sexier I felt. It was the most secure I’ve ever felt about who I am, while still feeling so vulnerable at the same time.

I did the shoot for me. But showing my better half the results? Well, let’s just say he was pleased, to say the least. And even better, he was proud, mostly. He tells me I’m beautiful all the time but in these images, I finally saw it, too. He was proud to see that I saw it. All my hard work; raising two babies, weight loss and just everything that a working mom life entails. I still saw a sexy, strong, powerful woman in those pictures and honestly, I can’t wait to do it again.

So thank you a million times, Katie; for an amazing experience. I can’t wait for our next collaboration. Check out her website and Instagram to see all her amazing work.

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons I don’t belong in your bougie mom clique

So I feel like I have to start this off pretty blunt.

I LOVE MY KIDS. I SWEAR I DO.

I spend most of my days (and even nights) trying to figure out how I can be a better mom. I mean, I literally lose sleep over it. I see other parents and I always compare myself and think I’m just not doing enough. Or if my daughter is having a fit, I think if I was a better mom maybe I could have nipped this in the bud a long time ago. But, I do try my hardest to be the best mom I can be to my 15 yr old and 6 yr old children. So here is a list of reasons I’m not a great mom.

My Kids’ Diet

My son, that giant man child of mine, is currently 6 ft tall. I swear all the hormones from the over processed foods are shooting my kid through the roof. My daughter wont eat most vegetables and recently has sworn off any meat except chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. Her diet consist of rice and beans or pasta. Meanwhile, my son will eat all his food, her leftovers and then some. With hundreds of options for me to make – none of which my daughter will eat and all of them my son will – I don’t feel especially adventurous. I try to take the easy way out most nights and that includes Easy Mac. Not the greatest, but everyone can agree and eat it with out a fight. Most of the time.

Hygiene

My kid hates bathes. She has sworn off bathes and without much fighting, she flat will not take one. Gross, right?? Well I have figured out a way for her to take bathes with less of a battle. BATH BOMBS! She loves them, but to ensure my kid isn’t going to get a UTI, I opt for the more expensive ones. This is putting a pretty hefty hole in momma’s pocket but no more crying, so I’m taking as a win.

Directions

My kids can not for the life of them follow directions. Like “Can you please get mommy a towel from the linen closet?” Often results in them walking to the linen closet (the home of all things towel like) and tell me they can’t find any towels. Or they’ll come back to me with toilet paper. I mean … but why??

Mommy Juice

I drink wine in front of my kids. I don’t get hammered in front of them, don’t get me wrong. I’m not an alcoholic or anything. But I do have a glass of what the kids refer to as Mommy Juice.

Pinterest Reject

I can not do anything on Pinterest. I feel like a failed mom any time I attempt to do anything I find on there and it’s a little depressing. I feel like that site was created to make creative moms brag and lord their epic-ness over normal people. All bow before the Pinterest Goddess, ye mere mortals.

I mean I get it, I may not be the worst mom in the world. But, sheesh keeping these kids alive requires lots of focus which I mainly have none of. But I try and I guess that’s what counts.

They are healthy and relatively happy. And that’s what matters most to this not-so-great mom.

 

 

The Timeless Struggle of Mothers and Young Daughters

I thought having a daughter would be the greatest thing in the entire world. I thought we’re going to have the most incredible bond and do all the same things together… I could not have been any more wrong.

Because I’m Pretty Sure My Daughter Hates Me

I mean there are days when we are the best of friends. Those days are mainly days I have all day to dedicate to her having fun. It’s when we do make up and nails. Also mommy isn’t trying to clean or organize so we are just chilling the whole day. She knows these days and toward the end of these “good days” I can tell she senses my fear.

Because as they say, all good things must come to an end. And our good days sometimes end badly. Screaming, crying, and throwing things. It’s horrible and on those nights I cry. I get so upset at myself and I think I fall back into postpartum depression. Is that a thing? Can you still have postpartum depression with a 6 year old? I know it sounds insane, but my head goes back to those colic nights where we both cried ourselves to sleep. And look at us now! …Still crying ourselves to sleep.

Oh and the reasons this child hates me.

It can be any number of things. If I hugged, kissed or had a date night with daddy I’m automatically in the dog house. He is hers and I am just the person who birthed her. As she puts it, I didn’t give her life, God did. That little brat, right? Pulling the God card to trump my work. I am also banned from picking out her clothes or shoes. She does not like how I brush and style her hair. I know what you’re thinking: what a spoiled kid.

Because there are days when I compromise. We pick out outfits together. We decide on hairstyles and bed time is a little smoother because I want her to have choices with her fashion. She needs to learn why I do what I do with picking out clothes and hairstyles. I.E. I like my kid to match and for awhile lice was going around so braids were our go-to hairstyle. But after work, I’m tired and there’s still dinner to get ready, so some nights compromise just isn’t possible.

Sometimes she’s just gotta do what mama says.

I am the mom and I always will be the mom. Unless I am causing her physical harm, that little sass queen will wear what I say, when I say it. Shocker, I bet! She hates me because with all her fussing and fighting, I still won’t let her wear Uggs to summer camp. She isn’t allowed makeup outside of the house. And bedtime is when I say, not when she is ready. I don’t always win, though, and those are the worst nights.

Those are the night she hates me and I hate myself a little, too.

Because even when I “win” the act of fighting with her still makes me feel like I’m losing. I will cry myself to sleep. I have no regret in holding her to the rules – don’t get me wrong. She hates me? Oh well. That won’t make me cave. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. (Not that I’ll ever let her see that.) It doesn’t always work out the way I think it should, it’s true. But she is alive, healthy, relatively well-mannered and most of all, she knows she is loved. I pray this is a phase and these fighting days days are numbered but honestly, next thing I know, she’ll be a teen and the struggle will start all over with a vengeance.

Oh boy. Can’t wait.