Friday, December 31, 2010

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Twenty Ten

I have been searching my brain the past few days for the moments that will forever define 2010 for me. I thought I would have a long list of varied memories but I don't. All my memories involve Cati one way or another. The birth of Cati is the singular event that has defined 2010. Every other memory is rooted in that event and without that event those memories would simply be wishes for the future.

2010 started off with me pregnant with Catarina and it is ending with having been a mother for 10.5 months. In between I have cried, laughed, prayed, and been thankful for the blessings given to me and our little family. I have seen my daughter go from this entity that moved around inside me to this little stranger of a person that is completely separate from me. In the past 10.5 months Cati has gone from a helpless blob of an infant to an active baby. She walks, talks, laughs, gets angry, throws tantrums, drinks bottles, eats food, and does tricks (clapping! waving! oh my!). The simplicity in which she lives and enjoys life is inspiring. She doesn't need much other than a loving person to take care of her basic needs and a bunny or remote control for entertainment. It's truly amazing how a little love goes a long way with a developing human being. So in 2010 Cati grew to the point of interacting, walking, and having one tooth.


2010 was the year I got my first writing gig. Writing for Examiner has been great and I hope it will not only help me improve my writing style but also help me move up in the world of writing. Motherhood has also inspired my writing here on the blog as the blog came to be a place where I not only shared recipes but also my motherhood journey. These were the ten most popular posts this past year:

  1. TWD Devil's Food White Out Cake (My pick!)
  2. Twix Cookies
  3. Chocolate Whiskey Cupcakes
  4. Mollie's Project Empowering Motherhood answers
  5. Confessions of a New Mom
  6. A Little Baby Talk
  7. Chocolate Strawberry Bliss Cupcakes
  8. Andes Mint Cookies
  9. Costume Frenzy
  10. Goat Cheese & Apple Chicken
    What impresses me the most about the above list is how varied the topics are and how it includes a little bit of everything. One of the posts is even from 2008!
    Devils Food White Out Cupcake

    2010 was the year of heartbreak as things became extremely rocky with my mother. I haven't spoken to her since February 27th. I'm sad but not regretful. More than anything I'm just disappointed with my mother and the reactions to certain events that lead us to this point.

    2010 was the year of renewed friendships. Maybe not so much renewed, but reviewed. I got to see certain friends in a new light and reconnect with them on a whole new level. I started seeing friends differently because I was different. Certain friends I thought I had nothing in common with are the ones I had the most in common with so it's been a surprising and delightful journey.

    2010 was a rocky year for so many. This year I was thankful Alex was a resident because his hospital went through a nightmare-ish money ordeal where so many lost their jobs and internal structures had to be reorganized. Then my father-in-law got laid off and that shook us hard. He was the beacon of stability for everyone and with him being affected by the economy I really understood and felt that no one was safe. Sure, the belts were tightened but it always seemed like the economy affected others and that we were somehow safe and immune. It was eye opening but also reassuring because despite all the individual loss we were all experiencing a universal loss; everyone was affected by the economy, not just a select few, but everyone. The loss was harder for some but we all experienced loss that connected us to one another.

    I said earlier this week that I lost 2010 somewhere in between being pregnant, having a baby, raising a baby, and falling in love a million times over. I can only hope to lose myself like that in 2011 as I undertake new adventures, new beginnings, and the chance to fall in love each and every day.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010

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    Best Beer Cheese Dip

    Beer Cheese Dip
    I made this as an appetizer for our Christmas Day meal and it was a huge hit. I seasoned with salt and pepper but that's the only change I made to this recipe. Also, I used a stout because I wanted a stronger, full-bodied beer taste to my dip. It was beyond delicious and Abuela-approved.

    Beer Cheese Dip
    Source: Jodi Zyvith on

    2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    2 (8 ounce) packages shredded Cheddar cheese
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 cup beer
    1 (1 pound) loaf round bread

    Place cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, garlic powder and beer in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend until smooth.

    Remove and reserve top of round bread. Hollow out the loaf, reserving removed bread pieces.

    Spoon cream cheese mixture into the hollowed loaf. Replace bread top between servings. Use the reserved removed bread pieces for dipping.
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    Styling C: 12.27.10 to 12.29.10

    Monday, 12.27.10
    The Look: Winter Casual
    The Outfit: The Children's Place striped sweater, Crazy8 jeans, Jazzy Toes blue socks

    Tuesday, 12.28.10
    The Look: Winter Casual
    The Outfit: Pottery Barn brown cardigan, Mae Natural "you are my sunshine" 
    onesie, Carter's navy sweatpants, Old Navy socks
    Wednesday, 12.29.10
    The Look: Little Fashionista
    The Outfit: Target black headband, Nicole Miller purple and leopard 
    print top and leggings

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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    Wobble Step Wobble Step

    I think it's time we invest in some real shoes for Cati. Also, I think my Mommy 2010 programming needs to be updated to keep up with Walking Cati.


    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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    There's nothing unique about my situation or what I'm going through. I am a mother. A stay-at-home mother. I got pregnant, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on Valentine's day, and have been home with her ever since.

    When I was pregnant we never really talked about how Cati would be cared for; would I stay home with her or would she go to daycare? Things just kind of fell into place. School was going nowhere (I guess law school just wasn't the right thing for me) and I had no job to speak of (well, I did work but there was no guarantee of paid hours) so after Cati was born I stayed home with her. There was nothing to go back to. No one who would be counting down the days until my return. No light at the end of the tunnel or sign along this maternity road that said "Maternity Leave Exit 3/4 mile." All I could do was move forward. I didn't have to savor the days like most women because my time at home with Cati was indefinite. Everyday was special and no day was more special than another because time was ticking closer to the end. I didn't have mommy guilt about returning to work and I have never felt obligated to stay home with her because it's the "right" thing to do (I have no opinion on this, I think every mother should do whatever will make her the best mother). I have stayed home with Cati because I can and want to and because, at the end of the day, Alex lets me. I may care for Cati all day and it is a huge responsibility, but Alex is the one bringing home the bacon and keeping us on a budget that allows for us to have a certain lifestyle that includes me being income-less. We have goals like everyone else and these goals would be met sooner if I worked but staying at home with Cati makes me a happier and better person. Which in turn makes me a better and happier wife and companion to Alex.

    Plus, I have no clue what I would even want to do professionally.

    Having Cati has completely screwed me. For the first time in my life I am actually passionate about what I am doing. Is this because none of the jobs I've had have been a step on the career ladder? Or because I'm still trying to figure out what I'm good at and what I could actually enjoy doing for hours on end? Does a profession even exist that can match the intensity and satisfaction I get from my personal time with Cati? Am I just asking for too much and should I just focus on the perfectness of this exact moment?

    And so this brings me to my conundrum. I never thought I would be the type to be a stay-at-home mother. Let's face it, it takes a certain type of woman to stay home, want to stay home, and actually enjoy staying home. I am that woman who enjoys staying at home with her daughter and would be happy staying at home for as long as we can afford it. Like I said earlier, I am passionate about it and find it fulfilling and satisfying, so why do I feel like I am wasting talent away at times? I don't think highly enough of myself to actually think I am talented in a special way; what I mean is feeling like I went to school in hopes of and preparation for a Big Career and now I am at home with Cati and not unleashing my talents unto the Professional World.

    I am constantly undertaking different projects just to remind myself that I am good at something other than "chasing after a baby" (I always say this, sorry friends!). So if I feel so passionate about being a stay-at-home mom and I feel like this is the best thing for my daughter and, most importantly, I have chosen this path, why do I need affirmation (or is it confirmation?) of being good at different things? Is this me struggling with how to incorporate motherhood into who I am or me struggling with not letting motherhood be all that I am?

    I know I should be thankful for the opportunity to spend my days with the greatest kid in the universe because there are plenty of mothers who wish they could do the same, but I hate feeling like I need to prove something to myself.
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    Cati's First Trip to the Zoo

    I took Cati to the zoo for the first time last week with Titi Jeselyn. The weather was perfect for our trip: sunny, cool, and with a slight breeze. Maybe the weather was a little too perfect because all the animals were either out of sight or laying down enjoying the beautiful weather. Cati wasn't too interested in the animals and I don't blame her considering the animals weren't doing anything that would grab the short attention span of a 10-month old. The most excitement Cati experienced was when I pulled out Mr. Blue (her blue elephant toy) when we saw the first set of elephants. She didn't care about the real life elephant but she flipped with excitement when she saw her little toy friend. Here are pictures from the rest of our trip:

    The zoo was all decked out for the holidays

    Cati, me, and the tree
    Cati and the koala

    The koala

    Cati, Sophie the Giraffe, and a real giraffe

    The giraffes

    Sophie wanted to say hi!

    Cati and the zebra

    The {in}famous Bird

    First The Bird went to Titi Jeselyn and checked her out.

    Then The Bird came to me and I must be attractive to the avian species because he started doing his mating dance by my feet. Then, when we tried to walk away, he plumped up and followed. I don't think he's going to be mating with his female counterpart anytime soon.

    photo 5

    Pointing birds out to Cati
    photo 2

    Call me silly, but I've always wanted to drink a beer at the zoo and places like the zoo. I realized I wasn't the only one and that ALL parents at the zoo had a beer in hand. I guess animals, lots of space, and kids are a recipe for drinking?
    photo 3

    Cati and me with the elephant (and beer)

    Cati and Titi Jeselyn with the elephant (and beer)
    photo 2

    Cati and the elephant

    Cati liked the fake elephants more than the real ones

    Do you remember these?!

    We did and we wanted to introduce Cati to their awesome-ness


    Us by the lake


    The gorillas. They looked so human.

    Cati and the camels

    I forgot which animal this is (gazelle family maybe?) but it's a nursing baby

    I wonder if animals get mastitis too?

    Cati and a flock of flamingo. So a flamingo is that color because of the shrimp it eats, right? Well shrimp are only that color once cooked, so how does that work if flamingo eat raw shrimp?
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    TWD: Butterscotch Pudding

    Butterscotch Pudding
    This week is another rewind week for us TWD bakers. I wanted to go with something I could dress up for our Christmas Day meal so I made the Butterscotch Pudding selected back in December 2008 by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews, & Suitcases. I made the entire recipe and filled up 11 little jars with this pudding dessert. I tried to bypass all the back and forth between the saucepan-food processor by making everything in the saucepan. This definitely made the dessert more manageable and quicker to make but I think I'm going to suffer through the back and forth next time I make this because the pudding didn't come out as smooth as I remember it. It was still good though and a delightful after-dinner dessert shot.
    Don't forget to check out what the other TWD bakers did this week!

    Monday, December 27, 2010

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    Styling C: 12.23.10 to 12.26.10

    Thursday, 12.23.10
    The Look: Winter Baby
    The Outfit: Carter's white long-sleeve onesie, Old Navy jeans, Jazzy Toes blue socks

    Friday, 12.24.10
    The Look: Christmas Baby
    The Outfit: Marmelate red plaid dress, Old Navy tights, Rachel black shoes

    Saturday, 12.25.10
    The Look: Winter Baby
    The Outfit: Gap penguin cap, Crazy8 striped pink top, Gap jeans

    Sunday, 12.26.10
    The Look: Winter Baby
    The Outfit: Gap cream turtle neck top and black heart pants, Jazzy Toes black socks

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

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    Cati's First Christmas

    Cati's first Christmas was a complete success. She got lots of gifts and she enjoyed herself thoroughly. She's still too little to understand Christmas or the fact that there's a special meaning behind all the gifts, but we adults tattooed every Christmas moment on our hearts. Everyone, especially Alex and me, were very thankful to have a healthy and happy baby; she is the best Christmas present ever.
    We spent Christmas Eve at my in-laws and had a very traditional Cuban "Noche Buena" meal of lechon (roasted pork), platanos maduro (sweet plaintain), yuca, congri (rice and beans), and flan. We opened up all the adult gifts so that we could open the gifts together and so that my in-laws didn't have to lug all the gifts to our house the next day. Cati started off the day in the prettiest red dress that Abuelo Luis got her but she got too hot and stuffy in it so we changed her to a comfy jumpsuit.

    Christmas Day we all had breakfast together (cereal for baby, cinnamon rolls for mami and papi) and then opened up the gifts under our tree. Alex helped Cati open the gifts because she didn't quite get what she was supposed to do with the wrapped gifts. She would just hold the gifts like they were a toy she didn't understand. The only gift she helped unwrap (unpack, really) was her Mickey Mouse plane. We did good with that gift because Cati LOVED it. She likes to sit on it and press all the buttons and she likes to grip the handle and move it back and forth.

    I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen roasting a turkey and getting food ready for our big Christmas Day lunch. Later on in the day Alex's family and my sister and her boyfriend came over. We literally feasted and then Cati got to open her Christmas presents from Alex's family and my sister.
    Cati scored big time this year. She got a few new toys, lots of clothes, and money to pay for the music class she'll be starting at the end of January. We scored as well and got lots of great things (me: red shoes! Alex: a G-Shock!) but the real fun was in seeing what Cati got.
    The Christmas holiday was proof of how much Cati is loved. It's not how many gifts she got or what she got but the fact that so many people thought of her when they were doing their holiday shopping. I know times are tough for so many so it means a lot to have people thinking about our little girl at this special time of year. The love for her and our little family is so overwhelming. Having Cati has really helped me appreciate my friends and family more.

    Here are my favorite holiday memories from this year:
    • Cati wearing reindeer ears for the first time. It's a family tradition to wear reindeer ears at Alex's parent's house when opening the gifts and this year Cati had her own special ears.
    • Cati preferring to play with the remote control and picture coasters over her Christmas toys. She got some great toys and at the end of the day she still wanted to play with the things she normally plays with, such as the remote control and picture coasters.
    • Everyone singing Old MacDonald along with the Fisher Price See n Say toy. Cati's grandparents gave her this toy and I think they enjoyed the toy more than she did. At one point they all started singing the song to get her more into the game.
    • My mother-in-law's brain farts. She forgot the ham at her house and went back to get it, she also forgot her phone at our house and had to come back for it, but best of all, she boasted about how the one thing she did remember was my sister's gift. As we were opening the gifts it turns out she brought someone else's gift.
    • My sister thinking I was going to announce a pregnancy. Before we dug into our own personal feast on our plates I thanked everyone for joining our Christmas celebration. My sister got confused (or excited?) when I said we were getting together to celebrate: she thought I meant a pregnancy while I meant the birth of baby Jesus. 
    • Cati helping Alex open her Mickey Plane. I just love these two together but I especially love how she tried to help him pull the box off the plane.  
    • Making cookies for Santa and his helper (aka Alex) not eating them. On the 23rd Alex asked me when and if I was going to make cookies for Santa. I made the cookies and told him they were off limits until Santa had his fill. I set out a few cookies and a letter to Santa with the intention of Alex helping the jolly old man by eating the cookies at some point overnight. It didn't happen and, instead, Alex had cookies for breakfast. 
    • Cati sitting on the plane, pressing all the buttons, pure joy on her face, and me realizing there is no off button on the toy. How can a toy NOT have an off button? The noises are cute but they do get annoying. I'm in for a lot of trouble. 
    • Alex's last minute letter to Cati. He really wanted to write Cati a letter for her first Christmas. He did it Christmas morning just as we were about to open the gifts. I told him if Cati was older she wouldn't wait for him to write the letter. I don't think she'd be able to contain herself on Christmas morning. 
    • How cute Cati looked in her Santa PJs. This kid is just too cute for words. 
    • Cati standing at the door and waving goodbye to Alex as he left for work. Most beautiful and heartbreaking moment. Alex had to work today so we saw him out and he got one last glimpse of his little wife and daughter before heading out.
    • Us eating scrambled eggs and pancakes for breakfast together. Post-Christmas day celebration and everyone got a big, hearty breakfast.
    • Alex watching Cati all day while I cooked. I don't even remember the last time I cooked as much as I did. I spent all of the morning and part of the afternoon putting together our Christmas Day feast while Alex played with and watched Cati. 
    • Being beyond pooped. Cati was so tired from the Christmas Day celebration that she was asleep by 7pm and we almost went to sleep at 7pm as well.
    • Cati drinking her bottle while we ate on the 24th. Everyone feasted together and Cati got to be with us while we ate big people food. Her bottle eating was a performance for all because of how she positions herself in the stroller to eat.

    Traditions were a big thing for me this year. This would be our first Christmas with Cati and I wanted to make sure to get some traditions started this year. I look forward to seeing these little traditions grow each year:
    • Reading A Christmas Carol throughout the month of December.
    • Reading A Night Before Christmas on the 24th.
    • Watching It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
    • Making cookies for Santa together.
    • Eating breakfast together in our Christmas PJs.

    Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the holiday:

    Baby steps
    Cati is screwed when it comes to her hair. 
    All of us woke up with serious bedhead.
    Silly grandpa
    Love. Love. Love.
    "What is chipotle, papi?"
    Somebody liked her shirt!
    Abuela Sr. is totally smitten.
    My brother-in-law is such a great sport. 
    Cati liked mami's red shoes. 
    And papi's watch.
    Aren't I a proud momma?
    There's nothing better than big, sloppy kisses. 
    Alex trying to help Cati open her gifts. 

    That was our holiday celebration. I hope yours was just as good!