Family

10 Tips to 10 Years

It’s so crazy to me how quickly the days, weeks and years go by. Blink of an eye and we’re celebrating a decade of marriage already. Two kids, a dog, a mortgage...and so much more!

How did we get here? How did our love make it this far? Through life’s trials and tribulations, how did we remain strong and love even harder? 

Here are 10 tips to 10 years that the hubby and I feel were important for our survival not just as a couple but as parents too.

COMMUNICATION 

Often times we forget all about good ol’fashion communication. Why though? We did so much of it when we were dating. What’s different now? When we were dating we spoke for hours at a time. We went on dates and got to know one another, we asked each other deep questions so we could know each other on a deeper level. Why not now? Is it because life gets in the way? We’re so busy worrying about everything and everyone else that we forget to check in with one another. It happens doesn’t it? Next thing you know, weeks upon weeks have gone by and you haven’t said more than two words to each other that didn’t involve the kids, the dog or “hey what’s for dinner?”. 

We need to go back to those days when talking to our significant other was the most exciting part of our day. The hubby and I will call/text/video chat all day long or as often as our work schedule allows. We check in and ask how the day is going. We ask about the kids too, we are parents now after all. If the day doesn’t allow you to do that, then save these treasured conversations for the end of the day. Tucked in bed, side by side. Open up about the good, the bad and the ugly. Touch base with one another. Dig deep into each other’s thoughts. Don’t hold things back. Heart to heart conversations about anything, big or small, makes for a healthier relationship in the long run.

PATIENCE   

Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet”  ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau~ 

By far one of the most difficult tasks to achieve for all humans everywhere! Our instinct is to quickly react to something that didn’t go our way. Someone says something and without allowing them the chance to explain, we go in for the kill. If we continue to be this way...we might as well kiss our marriage and those around us goodbye. We have to put ourselves in the other persons shoes. How do you feel when someone reacts to something you said or did just because it wasn’t done their way? You hate it. It makes you feel awful right? So why do we continue to do this to our spouses and even to our kids? We immediately lose our patience because the kids are being loud or they’ve made a mess in the living room. We need to learn to calm down and take a step back and give them the chance to lower their voices and clean up their mess. Sounds reasonable right? So let’s get in the habit of practicing patience. Patience is what creates a happy, healthy marriage.

GRATITUDE  

 To be grateful for everything you have and everything you’ve built together is such an amazing feeling. Seeing and appreciating life together and the journey you two have been on brings a change in perspective. It allows you to appreciate even the smallest of things. Most importantly, gratitude for one another. How wonderful does it feel when you feel appreciated and loved? Amazing right? So let’s remember to reciprocate that back. Say thank you-when he takes out the trash, when she cleans the house. Say thank you for the long and hectic day she just had with the kids, thank him back when he gives you a night off to be with your girlfriends. The smallest of things makes the biggest difference. 

Sometimes the unspoken words are the most powerful. A soft and subtle hand squeeze or a genuine hug speaks volumes in any relationship. Remember to be empathetic, you don’t always have to speak back. Sometimes just the comfort of knowing someone values you, hears you and is here for you is gratitude enough.  

Honesty

Honesty….just as important as breathing. If you stop breathing, life is over. If you can’t be honest in your relationship, that too will come to an end. There isn’t much to say about this except that this is a huge one for us. No matter how big or small, honesty is the best policy. It’s something I try to teach our kids every single day, above all never lie to us. If there is something heavy weighing on your chest, talk about it. This goes back to communication right? Talking about everything, even things you don’t want to talk about. Being open and honest about even the silliest and smallest things. There is nothing we keep from each other…and that will forever be true.

Teamwork

I can’t tell you enough how important teamwork is especially when you start growing your family. From day one, we have always looked at our life as 50/50. Everything from cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cooking, finances and now rasing our two girls. Everything was always based around how we could help each other. Sure, some days I might do more than my husband and many times its the other way around. At the end of the day, we are grateful for everything that was done…we don’t dwell on who did more. When we had children, I needed him the most. During those early stages with a newborn, its a given, a mothers job never ends. But neither should a fathers. As part of that teamwork, he should be there right next to her if she needs anything. He should help with things around the house that his wife can’t get to. When you see your partner as your other half, you take pride in helping each other out. A successful marriage is when you realize you are on the same team. 

Space

“The greatest gift you can give someone is the space to be his or herself without the threat of you leaving”

This couldn’t be any truer. Allow each other room to breath and to grow as an individual. Give each other the support and confidence needed to strive. Not only will this boost ones self confidence but also make your relationship stronger. Give each other space to have a night out with friends, escaping from all the responsibilites. No guilt trips, no questions, no interruptions. A night out with friends can be just what the doctor ordered to help you de stress and  refresh you mind.

Compromise 

“It’s better to bend a little than to break”  

A relationship that is able to compromise and reach a common ground will flourish. Realizing that your partners happiness is just as important as yours is key to a successful marriage. You give a little to get a lot. That’s how it should be. Now, this doesn’t mean you compromise your morals and values for the sake of another person. I would hope you wouldn’t be with someone who asked you to change that. But, find things your willing to bend on for the sake of your relationship, find that person that will bend with you. At the end, you both will have gained much more than you realize. 

 Passion

Go back to that first date, that first kiss...do you remember how badly you wanted to be there? Can you remember the feeling and the emotion of that moment? That’s the passion that should always be there in a relationship, from day one till the very end. That’s the passion that allowed you to open your heart and soul to someone. It made you fall in love, over and over, with the same person. Don’t lose that passion just because “life” gets in the way. Okay, so maybe you can’t always have crazy, wild spontaneous sex...maybe it has to be a little planned. We have kids now and kids come with distractions and chaos. They interrupt and snuggle right next to you in bed. What are you suppose to do? Ask them to go back to their room for a few while you finish what you've started? No. You find the time and you make time. Perhaps wait till the kids are sound asleep...light some candles, play some soft music and set the mood. Plan date nights. Go to dinner, have a few drinks and come back home, remember that first night, no one could pull you two apart. It should always be that way. Ignite the fire over and over again. Also, step out of your comfort zone. Try new things and talk about things that perhaps makes you uncomfortable...you just might surprise yourself. Most importantly, remember, a marriage requires work. It has needs and cravings. It needs a reminder every so often that you are here and that you are ready to work your ass off for it. It wants to know if you’re still here, hot and heavy. Passion is all of those things that make the heart go Bidi Bidi Bom Bom (tribute to Selena) for that other person, even after so many years. 

Never Go to Bed Angry  

This! I will be up all night, tossing and turning and probably crying myself to sleep because we fought over something and didn’t resolve it before bed. I fear a lot of things in life. More so after I had kids...yikes!  I’ve become such an anxious person. I just always wonder what if something goes wrong, did you tell your loved ones how much you love them? No, because you went to sleep not communicating and angry at one another. Aside from the crazy side of me that is anxious all the time, I truly believe going to sleep with happier and more positive feelings results in a happier you and a happier marriage in the long run. Holding on to something without any resolution only makes things worse. Going to bed with unresolved issues makes for sleepless nights and even harder mornings. At some point this becomes a habit, every time there is an argument, we rollover and go to bed. Repeat this pattern over and over again and eventually you’ve built a wall of resentment  so high, it’s impossible to fix. No one wants that! So please, talk to each other, communicate, compromise and love each other wholeheartedly...let nothing stand in your way! 

Life is Short 

At the end of this journey, we want to be able to say that we lived the best life we knew how. We loved with all our heart, we worked hard to make our relationship work. We never gave up on each other. We were committed to sacrifice and compromise. We want to enjoy our days together and with our kids. Now please, don’t get me wrong, our days are tough too. We are after all, normal. We’ve gone to bed angry before, I usually end up crying, he hears me and finds a way to cuddle next to me...we will eventually talk about it but till morning at least I’ll be ok. 

Make every moment count! 

Fun Fall Events for the Entire Family

I can’t believe it’s October! My favorite time of the year is here! The cold, crisp air. Big cozy sweaters. The leaves are changing colors and the holidays are near!

It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin patches and fall decorations which involve pumpkins! Of course!  

It’s also time for some fun and festive activities with the family to bring in the season! 

I put together a list of events in or near Los Angeles (since that’s where FHL is from) that are popular amongst our family and friends. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: www.billbeaverproject.com and www.kidsguidemagazine.com

1). Calabasas Pumpkin Festival- October 20th & 21st from 10am to 5pm offers tons of fun activities for kids of all ages (and parents too). We’ve experienced this festival a couple times when the kids were younger and it was great. They also provide shuttle service because parking can get a bit crazy, so that is a big help when you are lugging strollers, diaper bags, the kids, etc. Some of the activities include:

  • Contests and Saturday morning costume parade

  • Live band and DJ

  • Rides and Bouncy House

  • Reptile, bugs and nature show

  • Youth Halloween parade

  • Car Shows and exhibits

  • Food, drinks, pumpkin pie and BEER!

  • Jewerly and crafts

  • Face painting and so much more…

Tickets are on sale now for $5 (advance purchase price) at www.calabasaspumpkinfestival.com

2). Underwood Farms Fall Harvest Festival- Open now till October 31st from 9am to 6pm. There is always something to do at the farm. During the harvest festival every weekend has a different theme. Some of those activities and themes include:

  • 1st Responders; Fire Trucks, Ambulances, Police Cars, Swat Members and Bomb Squad…

  • Country music from local country bands in Ventura County

  • Western Weekend; wagon rides, stunt ropers, music and magic

  • All About Pumpkins; live entertainment, decorative pumpkins designed and carved by staff members, a huge selection of pumpkins at the pumpkin patch

Of course all the other events and activities at the farm are always available as well. Fruit and veggie picking, corn mazes and animal shows! Check out their website for details and ticket prices www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com.

3). Oak Glen, Orchards and Farms- 5 mile loop of 30+ ranches, farms and businesses! About a 90 minute drive from Los Angeles, but this one comes highly recommended by some of our closest friends. We will be adding this to our Must See list this fall season! Oak Glen is the perfect place to escape to when you want that cold crisp air with some of the most beautiful spots to see. During the fall season it offers:

  • Apple, raspberries and pumpkin picking

  • Make your own cider (yum!)

  • Country music, dancing and dinner (sounds like my kind of party)

  • Beautiful hiking trails and historic museums

  • Horse drawn wagon rides and so much more!

Oak Glen gives you that good ol’ wholesome family fun! Sounds amazing to me! Check out their website for more details www.oakglen.net

Photo Credit: www.latimes.com and www.highlighthollywood.com

4). Los Angeles Zoo Lights- Begins November 16th-January 6th from 6pm to10pm

This is one you might want to purchase and save for Christmas because on select dates Santa and his reindeer are there to visit! It sells out fast and is absolutely amazing to see. We went a couple of years ago and the kids loved it. We brought our own thermos of hot chocolate, bundled up and enjoyed the beautiful lights under the stars. Imagine giant illuminated snowflakes, a disco ball forest, colorful and whimsical animated elephants and swirls of colors everywhere! This is a definite must see! Go to their website for tickets and detailed info www.lazoolights.org.

Photo Credit: www.localparent.com

5). Kidspace Children’s Museum Pumpkin Festival- Who doesn’t love Kidspace? Did you know they host a pumpkin festival at the park right in front? I didn’t! But I do now and its been added to the Must See list!

  • Petting zoo, pony rides, bouncers and carnival games

  • Costume parade, face painting and seasonal crafts

  • Pumpkin patch and picnic treats

Entrance is free, tickets can be purchased to enjoy activities and food! Check out their website for all other information www.kidspacemuseum.org.

There it is folks! Some of my favorites and a couple of new places for me to check out too! Hope this list helps in creating fun memories and traditions with your family. Any fun and memorable events you know of? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section, down below. We’re always looking for new things to do with the kids.

Have a great day. Talk to you next week!

XoXo!

Dinner Time is our favorite time...

Living in Los Angeles can be described in many different ways depending on who you ask. I mean its L.A. The weather is awesome (though I do wish for more colder days). It's diverse in culture. It’s trendy and hip. It's the city of opportunities. Everyone wants to live in Los Angeles, right? 

Well, while all that is great lets not forget the major downside to living in Los Angeles...EVERYDAY IS A HUSTLE! We work long and hard to make a living and most of us are barley scraping by. We spend most of our days stuck in traffic, traveling from one city to another. Now, add a family to all of this and it just becomes a constant fight for time.

This is why dinner time has always been our time to sit down as a family and talk about our day. Its the only time where we are not rushing to get somewhere or trying to get something done. Even when it was just the two of us, we always made sure to sit down together for dinner.

This is when we tell our stories, tell some jokes, discuss the pros and cons of our day and how we can do better the next day. Here, we set the table together, cook together. We pray together. We laugh together. We taste new foods and discover new things together. It’s our time to sit, uninterrupted and enjoy a meal together. Don't get me wrong, it's not always picture perfect. But we do the best we can. 

I bring up L.A. because it can be a very stressful city to live in. After such a demanding day, dinnertime is something we all look forward to. My little one asks the same questions everyday, "Dada, how many cars did you fix today?", "Momma, how many makeups did you do today?". We all laugh because this is her way of letting us know she is listening and interested.

What we eat is also important. We eat at home 90% of the time. We spent way to much time trying to get the kids to eat things out of their element. What I’ve learned the most about feeding my kids is when they like something, they love it immensely and if they dislike something, well I just can't force them to like it. Just like no one can force me to like things I absolutely don't like. I realized the more I force them, the more I push them away. They might not eat broccoli and fish like grandma thinks they should but they live and swear by bell peppers and cucumbers. I'll take it! By allowing them to grow and discover, our oldest will now try everything at least once, which is how she discovered a love for steak, lamp-chops and pork-chops. This is huge for us! Today, the youngest discovered tomato’s aren’t so bad! Yahoo! As they grow, so will their pallets. I pick my battles. If chicken nuggets are whats for dinner, go for it...as long as the bowl of bell peppers and cucumbers is eaten up too. If those are the only two vegetables we are interested in at the moment...then my refrigerator will forever be fully stocked of those two vegetables. Like I said, I chose to pick my battles. I'm not fighting over which vegetable they "need" to eat. Just eat a vegetable! I'm going to enjoy dinner time because this is my only time to enjoy my family, without stress. 

Dinner time, all together, is something I will continue to do and cherish for as long as these kids allow me too. This is right there next to co-sleeping. One day, they'll be to big to sleep in my arms and to busy to sit down for a meal with me. I hope I'm wrong...but I know I'm right. All I can hope for is that they remember the coziness and comfort of dinner time as a family and that no matter where they are in life, they find a way to make it back home for dinner time.

IMG-1265.JPG

How do you feel about mealtimes? What are some of the things you and your family talk about around the dinner table? Is having a meal all together something that is important to you? I'm curious...talk to me in the comments below! 

XoXo!

 

 

 

Am I ready for another baby?

The most common question I get is “how did you know you were ready to have another child” or even, “how will I know if I’m ready for another child?”  

Truth is, no one can answer that but you and your partner. There is a lot to think about when trying to decide. Deciding on another child, in my opinion, was harder than deciding on having our first. We now have to think about; childcare for two, double the finances, double the workload and essentially starting all over in the baby phase. On a more emotional level...would my heart be able to love another? Would my first born feel left-behind? Would she feel like I was trying to replace her? These were the questions that made this decision a difficult one. 

For us, the conversation of having another child came soon after our first was born. We knew without a doubt that we wanted at least two children. We wanted our child to grow up with a sibling the way we both did. We knew that we wouldn’t feel complete, otherwise. The biggest issue for us (me) was on a more emotional level. Would we successfully be able to grow our family into the loving, supportive, close-knit family that our parents were able to do? All the other stuff, we knew we would somehow make work. 

IMG_0683.JPG

Okay, so we knew we wanted more...but when? Once we had our first born, nothing else mattered. We were exactly where we wanted to be in our lives. We were completely and utterly in-love with this little human. We then knew that we wanted to enjoy a few years being just us three. We wanted Olivia to be at an age where she would remember special moments and be able to be involved. We decided a three year gap in age was ideal for us. See, there is no right or wrong. There is no rule to any of this. These are decisions made between you and your partner, your family. 

Let’s fast-forward. All of sudden the days and years were speeding past us and before we knew it it was time to start planning that addition to our family. All of those emotions I was having came rushing back to me. Was I ready to share my heart with another? What was going to happen to Olivia? I was completely freaking out! I figured I still had time before I’m actually pregnant again (it took me almost a year to get pregnant the first time) so I wasn’t going to allow myself to stress, just enough this time with my baby. Two months later...I’m pregnant! Crap, that happened fast! Well, I had to deal with those emotions now, there was no turning back. 

Looking back now, I can’t even imagine not having Aleena in our lives. Not just for the way she completes me but for what she gave to her sister. From the moment these two laid eyes on each other, I truly believe a special connection was made. A “pinky promise” (they always pinky promise) to always be best friends. Olivia took on the role as big sister immediately and we always entertained it. She held her, she fed her, she helped change her. She sang to her and talked to her about everything. Aleena would just stare at her either in complete awe or burst out into baby giggles. Olivia essentially potty trained her baby sister and let me tell you, she is damn proud of that too. Here we are 4 1/2 years later, they fight like two siblings should...but they can’t do anything without the other.  

 I'm just so thankful that we didn’t allow our fears to stop us from what we really wanted. Just like we thought...everything worked out just fine. Is it hard? Heck yes! Is it exhausting? Beyond! Are we juggling a million things at once? Every single second, of every single day! But, it’s so worth it! 

My advice to parents who are planning to have more. Follow your heart. Regret is an awful feeling to live with. Compromise and make a decision together. If you decide one child is enough, that’s okay! Just be confident with that decision. Don’t be afraid of how much love your heart can hold...trust me, it holds a whole lot! Don’t be afraid that you won’t be a good mom to both, because I can bet that you'll be amazing! Don’t be afraid of how your oldest will react, instead teach them how to be an amazing big brother/big sister. Get them excited at the thought and importance of their new role. Children feed off our energy, so chill out! Trust yourself and the process. Allow your heart to grow, don’t let fear stop you.

Most importantly, allow your older child(ren) to really be involved. Allow them to feel important in all of this. Please don’t push them away because you’re afraid of germs or hovering. Instead, teach them the right way to handle a baby. I really do believe that is why my daughters are inseparably. Olivia will forever be proud of all that she did and taught her baby sister. We remind her of it everyday and the two of them laugh at the thought of it. 

Follow your heart...whichever decision that may be!  

Just know, you’re an amazing mother/father! Don’t ever question that! 

Xoxo! 

FHL

"For this child I have prayed. And the Lord has granted the desires of my heart" -1 Samuel 1:27-

"For this child I have prayed. And the Lord has granted the desires of my heart" -1 Samuel 1:27-