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things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, a French mastif

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A couple of months ago, we were doing our regularly scheduled visit to play with puppies because puppies make us feel better about life and life has been kind of shitty these past couple of years. When completely out of character, we impulse-bought a “Dogue de Bordeaux” which I think is French for expensive ass dog but still not as expensive as its much tinier but much more expensive little cousin, the French bulldog. Apparently, if your dog is French he’s going to be adorable, lovable and expensive. These are things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, a French mastiff if you’re nasty.

The thing is you know how when you just know something is right? Like my husband said he knew right away that I was “the one”, his “soul mate”. Well, we all felt the same way about Stella (our big, beautiful, playful, sweet, lovable French mastiff). The thing is when we bought her, we had no idea what kind of breed she was which is very out of character for our family because we like to research and plan the shit out of everything.

This may have been the most spontaneous thing we’ve done in the past decade because since we had children, we’re always thinking long-term and BIG picture but not on Friday, March 11. Nope, we fell head over paws in love with Stella Coco on the spot. The Big Guy was signing paperwork before the girls and I even knew what was happening.

things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, a French mastiff

The first couple of days, not going to lie, I was having major buyer’s remorse. Remember, no idea what the Dogue de Bordeaux was before deciding to bring her home. Once I got home and Googled Dogue de Bordeaux, I scared myself because she will be the biggest dog breed we’ve ever owned with the shortest life span and she needs a lot of love and attention. Did I mention she’s only 6 months old and eats 5 cups of food a day? The vet predicts 8 cups a day by the time she is full-grown.

I was intimidated because they are also known for being great family guard dogs but that’s never been what I looked for in a dog. Our dogs are like family members. TBH, I think the Big Guy and I gravitated towards this mastiff because of her HUGE paws. When our Bella was a baby, we called her Big paws and Stella the big paw French Mastiff shares our Bella’s gentle, giant, friendly disposition. How could we not bring her home with us, she was born to be a part of our family.

things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, a French mastiff

Things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux

  1. The DDB is an excellent companion, deeply devoted to her family. 23 hours of the day, she’s calm, affectionate, docile and steady. But for that one hour (at least in my experience, at the puppy stage) she can be needy, hyper and super playful but always loving. She also has a protective instinct and guards her family with courage like a boss b*tch. In my opinion, Dogues de Bordeaux are great for families with older children who won’t be easily knocked over or startled by this big dog that tends to hop when excited.
things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, a French mastif

Be warned, this gentle giant is not a pushover most of the time. Along with that mostly calm temperament comes a stubborn streak that will make a teenage girl seem easygoing, self-confident, and a tendency to dominate. However, in our house, she is very submissive to our much tinier and older Victorian bulldog, Lola. I’m not sure if it’s because Lola’s older, if it’s a doggie respect thing or if it’s the regal Bridgerton aura that Lola emits but Stell tens to just roll over and bear her belly for her big sis. Socialization and patient positive training are a must with Dogue de Bourdeauxs, much like myself, they can’t be forced to do anything. Start early—it’s easier to train a puppy than a DDB who may be bigger (and certainly stronger) than you are.

  • Dogues do very well at dog sports. While only moderately active, their willingness to learn and eagerness to please their owners make them adept at cart-pullingobedience and even therapy work.
things to know before getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, a French mastiff

Keep in mind, that exercise will tire them out so we’ve figured out that burning off some of that energy before bedtime (much like when we used to dance the sillies out with the girls) is the key to the whole family getting a good nights sleep.

  • Do not teach your cute 30 lb. puppy any habits that you wouldn’t want your 130 lb. DDB to have. We’ve always had medium-sized working dogs but never something as massive as our Stella is anticipated to be so our dog babies have always been lap dogs, even at 50 lbs. we’re made of sturdy stock but our pediatrician has assured us that this warning needs to be heeded or we will be the ones who suffer the consequences. She loves to sit on our laps, sleep across my teenager’s chest and cuddle in like she’s tiny. She is currently 60 lbs. at 7 months (honestly, she’s on the smaller size compared to other DDBs of the same age and we are fine with it) and she’s getting too strong for the girls and me to control or pick up so positive reinforcement is the trick in our house. She loves treats like they’re addictive.
  • These are tall like ridiculously tall. Our girl can stand up with her front paws at the height of our kitchen island. Did I mention
  • They drool. Apparently, they really, really drool! Our Stella is not as wrinkly as some of the others and has not started to drool uncontrollably yet. It’s coming though. She loves to fill her jaws with water and carry it across the house. Anyone who lives with a Dogue de Bordeaux quickly becomes familiar with strings of drool covering furniture, floors and walls. Be prepared that you may have to up your cleaning game. I know, sounds like a shit trade but I promise you, all the love that your French mastiff will give you will be worth every single slobbery kiss you endure. To know a dogue de Bordeaux is to love her sweet face, drool and all.
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love in marriage, Love, marriage, Valentine's Day, Big Guy

Do you think love in a marriage can be as passionate as love before marriage? Like head over heels, “I would live forever just to be by you” love? “I love you so damn much that I want to be ghosts with you” love? The kind of love in a marriage that you never want to let go of?

The kind of love in a marriage that makes you brave.

I’m not usually a sappy person here, well, not too often anyway, but this Valentine’s Day something happened. I’ve been changing a lot of things in my life lately but one thing hasn’t changed. The Big Guy has always been my rock; my constant.

The Big Guy is what I affectionately call my husband here on this blog. If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know it’s because he is 6’5” not because I think he’s God, though many of you have asked me that before. He really is a big guy and we have big kids but with him, its not just his stature. He laughs big, he smiles big, he loves big, he’s just a big personality and anyone who has met him can attest to that.

Even living with all this bigness all the time, it truly is the little things that count with us and he gets that. He’s always gotten that and that’s one of the reasons I adore him so completely.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I know many of you think it’s just a Hallmark holiday and in many ways, it is. I was never big on the holiday because, in previous relationships, it just felt like an inevitable trap to be let down. I’d get my hopes up and things would never measure up. Then I met my husband and ever since that first Valentine’s Day, he’s always made it more than special.

The kind of love in a marriage that makes you forget reason.

You see, we got engaged on January 23, 1998. Random weird time to get engaged right? Especially since we had only been dating for 4 months at the time. I was completely speechless when he asked me in the middle of a club. There was no ring, there was no drop to your knee It was him screaming over the music and me shocked. It felt impetuous. I wasn’t so sure if it was him or all the alcohol he had been drinking that was asking me to spend the rest of my life with him so it took me a couple weeks to give him an answer. Sounds terrible, right? Wrong.

When I called my sister to tell her what this crazy guy at university has just done, she said, “Oh yeah. Weird, I thought he was waiting until Valentine’s day. He told us at Thanksgiving that he was going to ask.” Wait! What? November????

Apparently, the proposal was not impetuous, only the delivery. He had been planning for months, though he still didn’t have a ring. He told them he knew from the moment we met that I was his soulmate. To be honest, after being burned by the previous few guys I had dated, I was kind of jaded on the whole “soulmate” thing. Not, him. Not my Big Guy.

Apparently, he was a little nervous and it just popped out of his mouth on the dance floor, a couple weeks early. That’s why there was no ring.  Maybe I was accidentally doing some sort of fertility/marry me dance that I didn’t even realize I was doing and my female wiles overtook him. All I know is the sweetest man I had ever met (and barely knew) asked me to marry him. My answer? I love you and then I casually walked away as if he’s just asked me if I wanted a beer.

We both pretended it didn’t happen. Then a week or so later while sitting across the computer lab he emailed me a note that read, “so are you ever going to answer me?”

Yikes, he hadn’t been that drunk. I told him I didn’t think he was serious and I needed to think about it because it was a serious question. It wasn’t like, do you want fries with your burger. It was the biggest question of my life.

Do you love me enough to spend the rest of your life with me?

Finally, I answered. It was really simple, I asked myself, can you live the rest of your life without this man in it? My answer was quick and all consuming, no. After knowing him, I couldn’t see my life playing out with anyone else. It depressed me to think of not seeing him every day or hearing that big crazy laugh or seeing that big beautiful smile so I said, “Hell, yes!”

I got an engagement ring for Valentine’s Day that year. That’s why Valentine’s Day is special to me. Not because of the holiday per se but because it was supposed to be the day the Big Guy asked me to be his wife but he was just so damn eager that he couldn’t wait. And he actually purchased it from a design your own custom engagement rings shop. Awwww, right?

He’s always done Valentine’s Day big. He pulls out all the stops. But this year I didn’t want a big elaborate gift. I wanted something more personal. I wanted him. I wanted his love in a tangible form. Sometimes love in a marriage becomes quieter and more of a hum than a roar. I wanted a roar.

I wanted a playlist (modern day mixtape), a hand-written note from him (which ended up being the sweetest Facebook status ever) and I didn’t want to cook dinner. Other than that, I just wanted to be together. That’s exactly what I got.

love in a marriage, Love, relationships, marriage, Valentine's Day, Big Guy

Needless to say, I spent most of yesterday crying happy tears because he kept sucker punching me with all the feels. It was glorious. Proof that love in a marriage can sweep you off your feet just as much as any new, shiny relationship.

The kind of love in a marriage that makes you want to have babies just so there are more people like him in the world.

Every word was like salve to my soul. He is not a big talker. He’s more of a do-er. He shows me he loves me in his actions every single day. He’s the kind of guy who makes the scrambled eggs on school mornings so you can have a break. He’s the kind of guy who gives you the last bite of his sandwich because you’re still hungry, even if so is he. But I’m a writer and sometimes I want words and wow, his words were everything.

The playlist spoke to me in another way. It spoke to my heart with every lyric. Each song was more perfect than the last. It said everything I needed to hear.

You know how when you are young and dating you’re always wondering, just a little bit, where you stand in the relationship? How he really feels? Well, the Big Guy laid it all on the table and damn.

Love, relationships, marriage, Valentine's Day, Big Guy

The kind of love that leaves you speechless.

I don’t know how you spent Valentine’s Day but I hope it was amazing. I don’t mean fireworks, symphonies and diamonds (those things are nice) but amazing in that at the end of the day, you knew you were loved by someone for just being you. Unconditional, all-accepting love is something I never knew in my life until the Big Guy and nothing compares. No gift can compare 100% reciprocated, unconditional and equal love.

I don’t know if there are any words that can convey to him how much his words meant to me but I hope he knows that I couldn’t imagine spending my life loving anyone else. I was scared when he asked me to marry him because it was so soon in our relationship but every day, I thank God the universe that he chose me.

What is the one thing your partner did to show you that love in marriage could be just as passionate as when you were single?

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This Christmas morning was a little different than our previous Christmases have been. The entire year has been a little “different”, since the Big Guy has been working away from home. It’s been a difficult transition to go from having a very hands on partner/father to one who is no longer here on a daily basis. Due to all this upheaval and unpredictability of the past few months, I felt like the holidays crept up on me and knocked me over the head with a boulder. Nothing has felt right with the Big Guy gone. This situation has caused finances to be off because of maintaining separate residences, I didn’t have the time I normally would have had to go shopping and what not because I had no one here to watch the girls, the ebb and flow of our very existence has been out of whack this past year. So, it was no surprise that this Christmas morning, things felt peculiar.

I woke up and I knew I wasn’t going to be opening any gifts,that was no big deal, I had accepted that fact. Normally, I have an abundance of gifts to open. But that’s OK. Don’t feel sorry for me. The Big Guy bought me a really spectacular diamond band that I’ve been wanting ( last month) and my Mom bought me my BlogHer ticket, so believe me I didn’t need anything to open. And, to be completely honest,  having the Big Guy home for 2 weeks consecutively is the most precious gift  that I could ever have asked for or wanted.If you could see the excitement in the girls eyes knowing that when they wake up in the morning, their Daddy would be there.You’d know, I want for nothing. If you could know the peace it brings my heart to have the Big Guy within arms reach, you would realize that the gift of his presence was priceless to all of us.

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After the girls opened all of their gifts, and the Big Guy had opened the gifts that the girls had picked out for him, there was 1 little gift that we had all forgotten about. That is all of us,with the exception of Bella, had forgotten about. Bella makes a leap under the tree and says in her most sheepish little big girl voice,”Mommy, you forgot about YOUR gift!” I was stumped because I knew, for a fact, the Big Guy was told not to buy me anything (living apart strains the finances). Bella produced the sweetest, plain white bakery bag with a homemade card on it. I had forgotten about the “gift” she had made for me on the last day of school before the break. The gift that had been sitting under the tree for a week and I had been given strict orders could not be opened until Christmas morning. Bella:”Open it,Mommy”as she placed it into my hands. I followed her instructions, as I opened that simple white bakery bag and inside was the most beautiful ( to me) handmade ornament that I have ever laid my gaze upon. At that moment, sitting in front of the Christmas tree with my girls and the Big Guy next to me, I realized that I had the most amazing gift in the world..I had a all the love my heart could hold and then I cried. I wept for the happiness of being blessed with so much love and I wept with sadness knowing that we’ve lost almost an entire year together.After all was said and done, that sweet little angel ornament in the plain white bakery bag is the most meaningful gift I have ever received. Thank you Bella and Gabi for coming into my world and putting things into perspective!!Mommy loves you!

What’s the most meaningful gift that you’ve received?

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At one time or another, we have all faced the Jake Ryan versus Farmer Ted debacle. If you were young when it presented itself, you probably chose superficially and unwisely in the long run. Because lets be honest when you’re under 25 and hormones are running high, a pretty face and a nice chest goes a long, damn way. Oh the superficiality of youth. I do not miss you. Anyways, I was so team Jake Ryan that there was no way to convince me otherwise. But then you grow up and you realize men are more than just Jake Ryan’s and Farmer Ted’s, there’s a few Lloyd Dobbler’s out there and even more  Chet’s. But what’s the litmus test? Well, this took place one Valentine’s day and I knew immediately who I married.

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, only because I love LOVE. Let’s be honest, when I was in high school and it was all about receiving those damn colored carnations…not so much. It used to make my stomach knot and lurch. I’d spend the whole day wondering if I was going to get a carnation? What color would it be? Who would it be from? I knew more than likely there would be no red carnations…the guy I was “in love with” had graduated high school my freshman year. So, as I was doodling on my book covers “D loves J” he was off being a semi somewhat grown up ( granted he was dating a 15 year old so there was that) but he was definitely  NOT worrying about sending carnations to my Spanish class, red or otherwise. Of course, there was always the possibility of a white or pink carnation from a friend but there was also a very slim possibility of the illusive red carnation from a “secret admirer”. Hey, it was the 80’s and I had seen one too many John Hughes films. Long story short, I was dating my Jake Ryan, so in all reality any admirer would have probably been more like Anthony Michael Hall’s character, Farmer Ted, but I was 15 and my mind was not fully developed yet. God help me, I didn’t know any better. That WAS Valentine’s Day.

These days, Valentine’s Day is looking into the eyes of my gorgeous little girls and seeing the Big Guy. Valentine’s “Day” is a weekend long celebration filled with chocolates, quality time together, and good food prepared with love by the Big Guy. It’s little unexpected surprises and beautiful pink tulips.It’s knowing with complete and utter certainty that I am exactly where I am supposed to be with the man I was meant to love. It’s being comfortable in my own skin. It’s watching the Big Guy hand out peculiar gifts to his girls (i.e. Squinkies and Chi hairdryers) and smiling because he knows us so well. When he gave the girls Squinkies, I thought OK, not very love day like but they’ll enjoy it.Me, what can I say, I needed a new hairdryer and the one he bought me was like the Dyson of hairdryers.Not romantic but I’ll take it!

But I could not ,for the life of me, understand why he was urging the girls to sample the chocolates before dinner. I was infuriated ” No! Wait until after dinner!” The Big Guy, ” No! It’s just a piece of candy…let them open it NOW!” WTF? I’m not going to lie, I was a little perturbed but since he said it in front of them, I agreed to it. Of course then I had to open the giant heart shaped candy tin for them.

Believe me when I tell you that I was more than a little annoyed that they were about to consume chocolate before dinner. I struggled with it,finally it popped open and there strewn amongst the candy were 3 small pearl colored boxes. Obviously, I thought to myself, what the hell kind of candy is this? I look at him and he has got that huge Big Guy ear to ear grin on. Of course, this is very much like him to make me crazy first. I open a box and inside was a set of diamond and ruby earrings, a ring and necklace.There were three boxes, one for each of his girls. My heart melted.

I love this man every day of any week but it’s these little unexpected things that make me swoon a little deeper.I think he also likes to infuriate me because it kicks the passion level up a notch. So, as the dutiful wife that I am, I will  try to oblige. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure many more times in our lifetime, the Big Guy is everything..I never knew, I always wanted. I didn’t marry the Jake Ryan who didn’t send me red carnations, and I didn’t marry the Anthony Michael Hall character. The sweet, cute, loyal, lovable character. The thing they never tell you is that Jake Ryan hits 25 and gets fat and bald. The other types of the world, try a little harder and don’t come into themselves until they are in their 20’s.

The Farmer Ted and Lloyd Dobbler types end up hotter, sweeter, sexier and with a lot more to offer a woman than the Jake Ryans.

The only thing that beats a Farmer Ted is, you guessed it the Lloyd Dobbler’s of the world. They are sexy beast, professional type men who treat their daughters like princesses, their wives like queens and their dogs like part of the family.Those my friends are who you grow old with. Those are the smart, witty,funny, successful guys who make great husbands and fathers. I mean what the hell, we all should have known by the boom box in the rain.

The truth is the Farmer Ted’s and Lloyd Dobbler’s of high school grow up to be the Jake Ryan’s of adulthood. I just wish someone told us that in high school.  I thank God every day that I opened my heart to my Lloyd Dobbler otherwise known as God’s greatest gift to me. Yes, I did just say that out loud. I’m sure the Big Guy will remind me of it too but I don’t care.

I love you baby! Thanks for letting me love you.Thank you for loving me more than I knew was possible for a man to love a woman. (Oops that may have been me missing the Big Guy and chocolate wine talking) You complete me! ( oh yeah, that had to be the Chocovine talking:)

In all seriousness, the Big Guy rocks my world..13 Valentine’s Days together and every year, he rocks it a little more!So here’s me doing my part to kick the passion up a notch!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

And people think Mommies don’t know how to have fun! Happy Love Day! Hope you’re all kicking it up a notch!

So did you marry a Jake Ryan, Farmer Ted or Lloyd Dobbler?

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The past week was spent preparing for and celebrating my ,now, 6 year olds birthday. It was very emotionally draining and, quite frankly, physically exhausting.  The big Guy worked form home last week so that he could be here for Bella’s birthday. Last year, he started a new job out of state on her actual birthday and  missed it. He was devastated and Bella was inconsolable so he promised her it would never happen again. He was here. Now, the last year and a half has been incredibly intense for all of us, as a family. We have been separated by distance, then moved our entire lives only to be sent home once we stared getting comfortable. We returned and after a couple months of the stress of the unknown, the Big Guy found a job..out of state.And into a forced commuter marriage we went. Into a forced commuter parent/child dynamic the Big Guy and the girls were thrown. It’s all been very hard to adjust to. I knew this. I know this.I hate this. But the end is in site. The house in on the market and once school is out, we are moving..no matter what.

Since the original move away, new school, move back episode of early 2010, I’ve been focusing my attentions on Bella because she was the one old enough to verbalize her anger, confusion and resentment at the entire situation.Good Mommying, right? The only problem was that I got so tunnel visioned about Bella’s emotional state that I completely glazed over the ticking time bomb that is Gabs. I’ve known for a couple months that Gabs is having a really hard time with the distance from the Big Guy. She cries for him, literally, every night before bed.It truly breaks my heart but what can I do? This was the stimulus for putting the house on the market earlier than planned. We are all ready to drop everything, pack our belongings and go.But the finish line is in sight.

I keep reassuring the girls that the minute the house sells we will be reunited with the Big Guy.I promise them that as soon as school ends, we will be in the same house and he will be tucking them in at night. He calls them. He Skypes them.He bought them little Teddy Bears that have his voice recorded in them to tell them good night, so they can hear his voice before bedtime. I’m trying everything I know to bandaid this situation until June. But honestly, its felt like putting my finger in a crack in Hoover Dam. Basically, it’s not going to hold. I’m just waiting for the dam to burst and for me to drown.

I know that when the Big Guy is home, it seems to be worse. I think it’s because they know this is not permanent. That again he will be leaving. All last week, Gabs was like  a preschooler on the edge. Constant meltdowns and tantrums ensued. I knew exactly what it was from. I tried to soothe her fears. The Big Guy tried to comfort her but nothing worked. She’s no dummy.For three years old, she is remarkably insightful even if her chosen mode of communication is crying and whining.

Then Friday night happened.You know the night before the party, or as we refer to it in our house, “Hell Night”. It’s called Hell Night because the Big Guy and I spend the entire day running around like chickens with our heads cut off due to last minute details and decorating. I’m sure this is the norm for most households, right? Tell me we’re not the only ones. Then we usually have a house full of out of town birthday party guests. On top of that, I , not unlike Gabs, was feeling a little annoyed with the whole situation of knowing that he would be leaving again in a couple days. I was biting his head off from all the stress. Then bedtime for the girls rolled around.

Gabs wanted us both to lay down with her but we had a house full of guests and her sister who we had to make sure didn’t escape from her bed. I made the mistake of asking her who she wanted to get her to sleep. This was enough to trigger a meltdown of epic proportions. She lost her ever loving little mind. I spent the next 2 hours down on my knees as my 3 year old hyperventilated and hit at me,sobbing as she told me in speech as broken as her little heart, that I was not good enough. That she missed her Daddy and I need to spend more time with her.I’m with her 24 hours a day but I’m not always present. I do admit that. Apparently, with the Big Guy being physically unavailable , I have to be present..mind, body and soul at all times. I’m not going to lie, this is going to be hard for me. I have my own issues with this situation. I need to zone out a little bit to get through the days. I am overwhelmed ,lonely, and I miss my husband. But,I am the adult so I have to suck it up because she can’t.She shouldn’t have to. After she got it all out and we both cried really hard and ugly, she went to bed and got the first full night of peaceful rest that she’s had in a month. I was drained. Now, I’m wondering do I get an all expense paid trip somewhere when this is all over to recoup from the past year and a half? I hope so, because I have a feeling that I’m going to need it.

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event planning tips, quinceañera, Disney, Credit Repair, financial security, financial freedom, quinceanera

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We are less than 6 weeks away from Bella’s big day. Her quinceañera is something we’ve been planning for years and I can’t believe it’s almost here. For her, it’s the moment our culture recognizes her as changing from a child to a woman. As a mom, it’s a moment of ostentatious pride, which if you know me is not something I ever do. It’s also the opportunity to learn all the event planning tips I didn’t know I needed.

Give me all of your quinceañera planning tips.

I love my daughters more than everything but I’ve never felt the need to brag on them to impress anyone. I know who they are and what they are capable of. I know that they are smart, funny, witty, creative, kind, compassionate, good human beings who love life and care about people and they know that I feel that way about them. I tell them. I just don’t feel like it does anyone any good to boast about them to strangers and put them in competition with anyone else. The only competition I want them to have is to become their own best self. But, make no mistake, I am so proud of my girls and then young ladies they’ve become.

READ ALSO: How to plan a quinceañera

Next month, we’re celebrating Bella’s indoctrination into womanhood with a big party with all of our family and friends. Think of a wedding-like party celebrating how much we love our daughter, how proud we are and how excited we are for all to come for her in her life.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Basic Invite. However, all opinions are my own and Bella ( and I) adore her invitations from Basic Invite. They’re everything we’ve dreamed of.

Big life events like a quinceañera are exciting. The energy, the love, the sheer celebration of such a momentous occasion. There’s nothing like it. When you’re hosting the party there are added stresses. In fact, it can be very stressful.

Everyone expects weddings to be challenging to plan, coordinating and organizing all the things is hard. I’m finding that planning Bella’s quinceañera is pretty much the same.

Event planning tips to for the best quinceañera ever

It’s helpful to be organized and to take the time to plan and do research, from choosing the venues to deciding where to shop for the dresses for the quinceañera and damas. There are a few simple tips that we can do to help make the whole process easier on ourselves and get the celebration of our dreams without the anxiety.

  • Start planning as soon as you set the date… or sooner if you can. Sure, you may not have plans to celebrate your daughter’s quinceañera for several years, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get planning now. It’s never too early to go on Pinterest and start a wedding planning/quinceañera board with ideas of things you’d like. It’s never too early to start watching hours and hours of quinceañera surprise dances. You can also start looking at venues and booking appointments. Starting early can be the one thing that gets you the date that you want for your event.
  • Sort out your budget at the very beginning. No need to make big plans with no realistic budget in mind. Before you can start buying anything, you need to know what your budget is and what’s going to tip you over the edge for your big day purchases. The earlier you have a concrete budget outline, the more accurately you can plan your event. This is one of the hardest parts for me. 

READ ALSO: How to throw an awesome party on a budget

  • Get as much of your family and friends involved as you can, from photographer and videographer recommendations to getting to know who’s able and willing to help you with your big day. You need to know which family members are willing to give you a hand with organizing everything from the prevents to the main event. The most important thing is that you enjoy every moment with the people that you love.
  • Be selective with who you choose to invite. Everyone you’ve ever known doesn’t get to be a guest on your big day. You need to get RSVPs to know how many people you’ll be catering to. Invite the people who you know will show up. Don’t feel obligated to invite everyone you share DNA with or anyone you’ve ever known.
  • event planning tips, quinceañera, guestbook, basic invite, quinceanera
  • A well-thought-out personalized custom guest book can really be the perfect keepsake for your big day. With almost unlimited colors at Basic Invite, it is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. You can change the color of each element on a card or guest book. With over 180 different color options, your invitations or guestbook can be exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail, making the little details perfect.
  • Pick your court early, you’re going to need their help. The planning won’t be as smooth without them by your side. They’ll need dresses and tuxes, makeup and hair. Ask them early and plan accordingly.
  • Always have a backup plan. Things can and do go wrong, even if that’s the last thing you want to think about. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your special day can go off perfectly, as long as you do your research.

What is your best tip to make your big day the thing dreams are made of?

 

 

 

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parenting an angry child, abandonment issues

Since the commuter marriage fiasco of 2010-2011, there has been some definite backlash. The biggest backlash can be seen on a daily basis with my 4-year-old, Gabi. She’s one of those children who does everything in a big way. She loves in a big way, plays in a big way, feels every single emotion in a really impactful way. She also hurts in a very big way and I have found myself in the undesirable position of parenting an angry child.

Parenting an angry child is hard.

Gabi’s always been high strung and easily frustrated. Since being apart from her the Big Guy for 2 years at the ripe old ages of 2-4, she’s developed some attachment issues. I made the decision to stay in our home with the girls after the Big Guy lost his job, and found another one across the country. We all followed to be together. Within 7 months, we were downsized just as we were putting down new roots. We stiff upper lipped it and thanked God we were all together.

READ ALSO: If you want respect from your toddler, you have to respect them too

Out of a need to support his family, the Big Guy took the first job that he found, which was a 4-hour drive from our home and was a contract position. For those not familiar, contracting is like freelancing without an exact expiration date and after the recent relo and uproot we wanted the girls to have stability. We made the hardest choice of our married and parenting life thus far; we decided, for the sake of the girls, that I would reside in our home with our girls and the Big Guy would come home every weekend. This was not an easy decision and was hard on every one of us. It was almost unbearable.

Parenting an angry child is heartbreaking.

To anyone who’s never done this, let me assure you that it’s much harder than it sounds or you can imagine. We bit off more than we could chew. To say it was trying is the understatement of the year (of the 2 years). I may have given the girls a “home” but in the process robbed them of the attachment of their father.

This past August we uprooted from the only true home the girls have ever known so that we could all be together and moved in with our in-laws (that’s an entirely different post). The home we left behind is the home where Bella had every first from 5 months on and the very home where Gabi was conceived, born and raised for the past four years. It was just getting to be too hard on all of us; the children, the marriage and boundaries and relationships were getting blurred.

READ ALSO: Realizing that Maybe You’re doing Parenting Wrong

Both girls have abandonment issues now. Worse yet, Gabi is a very angry child due to the hurt and attachment issues she experienced at such a young age. I feel like the world’s shittiest mother when she’s screaming that she hates me and tells me that I don’t love her because she has been wounded in this process. I pray not irrevocably damaged. Her pain and frustration are audible but sometimes it’s hard to not get angry in response.

I love her so much but parenting an angry child who constantly gets frustrated and goes directly to ” I hate you”, “You’re the worst Mom in the world”, ” You don’t love me do you?”  is hard, especially the latter. Hearing “You don’t love me do you?” through tears and anger, cuts me to my quick and breaks my heart while simultaneously stirring feelings of anger. I try to reassure her, but it is met with a barrage of insults and disbelief.

Logic tells me that I need to listen and respond in an affirming way to let her know that she is safe and we will never leave her. It breaks my heart to know how badly I’ve hurt her simply by doing what I thought was best. Parenting is not an exact science but when parenting an angry child there is an even smaller margin of error.

READ ALSO: My Daughter thinks I’m Ugly

I’m trying to educate myself about how to do this parenting an angry child business appropriately without causing further damage and understanding what she needs. I am trying to learn to respond and react appropriately. Remembering to set boundaries on her behavior without belittling her feelings. Even if the chance of abandonment is never going to happen, she needs to know and feel secure that there is nothing she could ever do to make us leave. More importantly, the separation was not because of anything she did or was the cause of.

I need her to understand that we recognize her feelings. We need to help her recognize her primary feelings before it gets to the secondary feeling of anger. For angry children, anger is almost never the initial reaction to a situation. It is usually preceded for a split second by embarrassment, sadness, fear, hurt, disappointment or worry. I need to catch that moment and let her know that I recognize THAT feeling and that it’s okay to feel that way. I need to let Gabs know that I understand that she is feeling that way and that it is perfectly normal. Assure her that there is no blame. I need to love her, even when she is trying to push me away. I need her to know that our parent-child relationship is unbreakable.

Parenting an Angry Child will Heal her Wounds

It’s a long road ahead but I will do whatever is necessary to repair this wound and soothe my angry child. Do you have an angry child? What are some techniques you use to move past the anger when parenting an angry child? How do you validate without frustrating your angry child or getting angry yourself? How does this work with other siblings? Being that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, does this cause other issues with the more adjusted children? How do you go about parenting an angry child?

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Ever wonder how to catch a ghost in a photo? I know some people do. People want proof of the supernatural. I’ve seen some really cool ones of shadowy figures,  legless confederate soldiers floating in a field and orbs but never anything like the one I caught in my photo of my toddler.

It seems like everyone these days have been touched by the supernatural. We live in a world where people enjoy having the piss scared out of them but ghost stories have never much scared me. Zombies are laughable, Vampires are a sexy fetish and werewolves are just big hairy dogs with bad attitudes.

Ghosts are snapshots of the past caught in a loop. Someone dies so suddenly that they don’t realize it and they get stuck but I don’t bother them and they don’t care about me. I know some people would quickly consult some psychics about what to do if they believe there’s a supernatural presence in their homes.

It’s the same way I think about aliens; maybe they’re out there but I don’t care. I’m not afraid. Life’s too short. I have real living breathing people problems to fixate on like Trump or crazed mass shooters. Who has time to look for ghosts?

I myself am a longtime lover of the horror genre. I watched my first horror movie in the theater when I was 7-years-old. My aunt and Uncle took my 5-year-old brother and I to see it with them. It was a baby swap. They swapped their newborn for the two of us. From then on, I got all my horror books and movies from my 16-year-old aunt. I loved it.

Not only did I watch the Exorcist when I was a kid, I even read the book. I devoured Stephen King. I watched every horror movie I could. They didn’t scare me so much as they intrigued me, with the exception of the Exorcist.

I’m Catholic, I was raised to believe in that shit so that one still scares me. The rest of it, it thrills me but no fear here. Hell, I may have even wished and tried to have telekinesis as a child, like Carrie. I’d totally endure pig blood prom to be able to move shit with my mind. But normally, I don’t believe in what’s not real. However, I may have been made into a believer at my last house.

Now, let me preface this by saying that our house was a new build. I’m leery about old houses because…hello, someone has definitely died in almost every old house. It’s inevitable. But this was a new build. Apparently, I clearly forgot about the Poltergeist loophole. Obviously, having children left me vulnerable and not on my haunted game.

When we lived in that house, the girls were really small. We bought the house when Bella was 5 months old; Gabi was born while we lived there. We live there until Bella was 6.

From the time we moved in, we had lights flicker and our ceiling fan light would come on by itself in the middle of the night. In our previous house (also a new build) stereos and lights would come on in the middle of the night too. The Big Guy always rational would make it all make sense to my superstitious mind.

I was exhausted from babies and the Big Guy would tell me that it was just probably some neighbor who had the same remote and it flipped our lights on. It never dawned on me to question why the hell the neighbor was waking up at 3 a.m. flipping on all the damn lights. I’d snuggle back into my co-sleeping baby and forget about it.

When the girls were about 2 and 4-years-old, the Big Guy had to go live in another state to work so that left me alone with the girls. No coincidence, this is also when I started my blog.

I’d stay up late at night writing and I’d always turn to the hallway where our bedrooms were because I kept catching glimpses of a little girl standing in the hall. I thought it was my girls. And every time, I would walk to the hallway and then enter the bedrooms and my girls were sleeping. They were never in the hallway. NEVER.

I remember having 2 am writing sessions where all the hair would stand up on my neck and I’d get the chills. I just assumed that my body was boycotting my insomniac self. You know how that happens sometimes. Your body gives you a big F you because it needs sleep.

Then there was the time my brothers and the Big Guy were in our media room in the basement late one-night playing video games. When it came time to shut it all down and all the lights were off, all 3 of them saw a red light moving around the room. There was no source. They checked. Again, the Big Guy reasoned it away. My little brother would never spend the night at my house after that.

When Gabs was old enough to stand, we’d catch her in her room sometimes standing in her crib jibber jabbing to the corner. Looking directly up into the corner like someone was there. It creeped me out, a lot but nothing really had happened. Maybe I was just being my usual superstitious Latina self. So, I crossed myself and pretended it wasn’t happening and it was all in my mind.

I’d bring it up to the Big Guy but every single time, his rational engineering mind would say it wasn’t so. In retrospect, I think he was just trying to stop me from becoming all out, balls to the wall drama queen hysterical.

Then after about a year of this happening, one day Gabs comes running into the living room and tells me, “Mommy, Bella just told me…..” and I looked at her and said, “Gabs, Bella’s not here. Remember, Bella is at Kindergarten?”

She looked at me dead serious and said, “No, mommy. I was just playing with her in my room.”

There.was.no.one.in.the.room. I don’t know who the hell she was playing with, but it wasn’t my 5-year-old who was not in the building.

That one freaked me out. Still, nothing tangible. Maybe a toddler with an overactive imagination. That’s good, right?

My husband was still living out of state 5-6 days a week. I was still alone. I had two little girls. I didn’t have time to be ghostbusting or looking for shit that wasn’t there. Plus, I believe that ghosts are snapshots. I’m not scared of some poor sucker that died so suddenly that they don’t realize that they’re gone and they can’t move on. I feel sorry for them. They don’t bother me. I don’t bother me. In case you were wondering about my policy on such things.

However, Exorcist scared the shit out of me. I still haven’t been able to watch The Conjuring again since the first time, when I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks.

Then, one day my sweet toddler who was between 2-3 years old walked up to me while I was sitting in my kitchen chair. She was tiny, so I shot the photo at a down angle. No one else was in the room with us (that we could see).

When I saw the photo, a photo that she has still not seen and probably never will, I literally almost passed out. I legit freaked out like nothing before. My first instinct was that OMG, my husband was in an accident and died or something and this was his spirit…on a loop.

I frantically called my husband, in another state, but no answer which only intensified my belief that something terrible had happened to him. 5 hours later when I finally reached him ( he had been in meetings all day) I sent him the picture, to which he replied, “Gabs looks adorable!”

To which I responded, “Look next to her at.the.disembodied.head!!!!!!!”

Luckily, he was on his way home. I didn’t know what to do. You know that instinct you have set the house on fire and burn it down when you find a monster spider? Well, times that times a million and that’s how I felt. I felt invaded and vulnerable and scared. Was it trying to make contact? Had it already made contact with my baby? Was that who she was talking to?

And then, I learned to live with it. Many people have asked me why didn’t you leave the house. My answer is this, because I couldn’t. My husband lived in a tiny apartment in Iowa at a contracted job. The kids had school and commitments. I had commitments. We had friends and a life. I couldn’t let it all be toppled by a head that photobombed my baby. Right?

It was always in the back of my head. I got used to knowing that something that I couldn’t see but could feel was there. All those “probably nothing” moments became something but I had to choose to not live my life afraid. I had to put my money where my mouth was and not be afraid of ghosts.

I still don’t know who or what was in my house. I never tried to make contact. I’ve watched enough horror movies in my life to know better than to open a gateway of communication. It never bothered us, other than lights coming on and photobombing us this once.

I also stopped watching all of those paranormal investigation shows because, honestly, activity seemed to pick up around Halloween when we’d watch those shows. Maybe it was a coincidence but the first time the radio came on by itself blaring at 3 a.m., it was Halloween night.

We lived there for 2 more years, just me, the girls and our ghost. Yep, I was scared. Nope, I didn’t sleep but we survived. And hell yeah, capturing a ghost in a picture is a lot scarier and a lot less cool than one might think, especially when it is in your own house.

What would you have done if you snapped that photo in your house? Have you ever had a similar situation? What did you do? Please don’t share your opinion that spirits can attach to people, I’m trying to ignore the sound of someone walking around upstairs. I choose to believe it’s my old house settling.

 

P.S. If you know my Gabs, never speak of this photo to her. She doesn’t know it exists and it would probably freak her out.

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Jessica Escobar, Jess in the ATX, This Blogger's life, blogging, people behind the blogging

This week, I am so proud and excited to welcome Jessica Escobar of Jess in the ATX to This Blogger’s Life. It’s not often that I gush about anyone ( other than my kids) but Jessica truly is my Latina sister from another mister. Aside from being a whip smart lawyer working in a law firm and superhero mom & wife by night, she is an amazing woman who writes from the heart. In her quiet, classy way ( yes, she is my complete opposite in this area) she is fierce and loves and lives BIG. She is an all in kind of woman with a heart as big as Texas. When you talk to her, she is one of those rare people who actually listens and is present. She makes you feel like you matter and this is a gift that many lack.

I don’t know exactly how many years that I have “known” Jessica but it feels like I have known her forever. That’s what it feels like reading her blog, like you are sitting down at the kitchen table with a dear old friend you’ve grown up with and know one another’s secrets. That is the beauty of blogging friends, they know the secrets that you might not tell your in real life friends because it’s just too damn hard to utter the words of weakness or fear but online, for me anyways, I can speak freely and never hold my tongue. I appreciate that in other writers as well because then I feel like I know the real them; flawed and imperfectly awesome. Jessica is so much more to me than what a quick blurb could ever describe so I will leave you with this, please check out her blog Jess in the ATX and see for yourself what a true warrior looks like; quietly stoic and ever pressing on, never giving up. I admire this Jess more than she knows. You will thank me for having the chance to get to know such a truly, strong, amazing and authentic woman. Jess is more than just one of my favorite people on the Internet, she is one of my people in the world. She’s the real deal and you will be a better person for having known her. I dare you to see her smiling avatar and not have a better day. That’s Jess, she lights up the world.

Jessica Escobar, Jess in the ATX, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

This Blogger’s Life… Jessica Escobar

 

Jessica Escobar, Jess in the ATX, This Blogger's life, blogging, people behind the blogging
Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging a few years ago as a way to share my stories about my daughter. It was a way to share her funny moments and my proud mommy moments. It was less about me and more about her.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Don’t make it about trying to be like “that other blogger over there who does that big stuff”. It isn’t about trying to be big. You can’t compare yourself or try to copy their style. You have to have your own voice and speak from your heart.

What are the three words that describe you best?
proud, strong, caring

What is your favorite website?

Hmmm that’s tough. I really don’t have one! I really don’t surf the net. I have a very small list of blogs I love. It’s definitely not the mainstream ones.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

Running. I’m out of the habit but it’s something that I’m working to get back into it. It’s my release and my me time. Self care is VERY Important and something that often gets neglected as a mama.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

You have to find your voice. It’s easy to be scared of what the people in your “real life” will think of you. It’s so much easier to build a community who truly understand and support you. I’m proud to share my experiences because you never know who is reading and understands what you’re going through.

How do you balance life and blogging?

Right now I’m on “hiatus.” That’s a nice way of saying I’m having a dry spell. And I’m ok with that. Sometimes you just don’t have the words and when you aren’t trying to be the next big thing that’s fine. You can’t be hard on yourself and force the words out or you won’t enjoy yourself. You have to make the time when you want to and it’ll just balance yourself out.

How has blogging changed you or your life?
It has given me an absolutely amazing community of women who have been the most wonderful support system and group of friends that I wish I had in my community. They are the best bunch of women that I’ve never met. It’s so true that some of your best friends can live in your computer.
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

They are definitely similar but not necessarily the same, not to me. A successful blog is the one that gets all the big traffic and the one that people know. They have all the “big sponsors” and they’re the ones that people want to be like. That’s all good and great. And there’s the GREAT blogs. It’s being awesome but more than hits. They’re the ones like Deb who truly speak they’re minds and are real and open and about LIFE. Many bloggers speak from the heart.  Sometimes you blog for the hits. We’ve all done it and it happens. No harm no foul.

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

I would be fine. I would look back at what I wrote and be proud. But I would never let go of my blogging community.

 

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 

That’s the hard part. I have to balance my true story with the privacy of my family. I struggle with that a lot. I really censor myself because I fight depression and anxiety. I don’t want people in my personal life to read it and judge my husband or my girls and think they are getting less than a wife or a mother. It’s also why I’ve pulled back on what I say about them. It’s a hard road to walk but it really is up to you as a blogger to decide how much you share and who your audience is. I’m very weary of my real life people, and that’s just because I am reserved with them in real life. I’m not one way online and different in person.

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?

Blogging seemed to be a lot more carefree. Then you go through the phase where you want to really grow and get big. Then you get over it and just want to be.

 

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I really try to speak from the heart. A lot of that has to do with parenting, because damn that shiz is hard work! I think that’s something a lot of other women struggle with. We question our skills but often we just underestimate ourselves.

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

OMG, Steve Jobs. I just finished his bio and I’m obsessed. My mom. She passed of cancer in 2006. DEB! Damn I love that girl. She’s so real. Three other computer friends. 🙂 I’m not a star gazer, so no one famous.

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually on a social media hiatus and that kind of happened during my depression. I’m just removed from social media and not really interested and that’s ok! The people that I’m connected to know where to find me and I know where to find them. I think that’s why I’m disconnected from the internet right now.

 

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

The one where I laid it all out about my postpartum anxiety. I was really scared to hit publish because I had to admit that I’m human. What’s more? I sent it to a few people in my family.

https://justjessatx.com/postpartum-depression-maternal-mental-health/

Jess, Thank you so much for letting me interview you on This Blogger’s Life! You truly are one of my favorite people in the world and you know I am not about blowing smoke and rainbows up butts, so you when I say it, you know I mean it. Keep on keeping on, mama! You are an extraordinary woman and I feel blessed to be called your friend. XOXO
If you want to know more about Jess, check out the blog, JESS in the ATX on Facebook and @Jessesco on Twitter.

You will wonder why you didn’t have Jessica Escobar in your life sooner:)

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