Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Outpouring of Love

I say this all the time, but I am truly amazed with all the love our little family gets. My mother-in-law took last week off and was basically with Cati from morning to night. That was a huge help and really allowed me to focus on Elina. It was also nice to have Cati's first week as a big sister spent with someone who loves to spoil her rotten with attention. Everyday I get more and more impressed with Cati. She is so sweet with Elina and loves to be around her. She loves to pet and kiss Elina and loves to help me out. As I've struggled with breastfeeding, Cati has been there to pat Elina's crying head smothered into my boob and say in Spanish "come Elina" (eat Elina). The days with both girls are long, but they are so beautifully worth it, especially when I get moments like this:
We got a beautiful floral arrangement from Alex's job so that kind of makes me less bitter when it comes to the hours spent at work. Aside from diapers, flowers are always a welcome gift for a new mother.
Our friends have been extremely amazing. We've gotten fresh and frozen meals, groceries, and diapers. People have come over to play with Cati and to give me time to get in a quick nap.  Friends are constantly checking in through text message and hearing me out whenever I have a question about the newborn days (it's amazing how quickly you forget what it's like to parent a newborn). Yesterday we even got a cookie basket made by Shelley from our friends John and Shannon.
I really am a lucky girl. There is so much love to go around. Seeing my daughters together fills me with so much happiness. Support from friends and family helps make the so-so and bad days better. There are constant reminders that even if I feel alone, I am never ever truly alone. Stephanie

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies
These Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies are the other cookies I made for Cati's birthday cookie buffet. If you know me, you know I love any and all kinds of chocolate chip cookies and you know that I am constantly searching for a variation on the classic. These cookies have the addition of hot chocolate mix, white chocolate chips, and marshmallows. The marshmallows don't necessarily make for the prettiest cookie but they add a sweet crunch to what would be a regular chocolate chip cookie.

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: The Whimsical Cupcake
Note: I halved the recipe and got about two dozen cookies

2 sticks Salted Butter, At Room Temperature
1 cup White Granulated Sugar
⅔ cups Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 whole Large Eggs
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla
3-¼ cups All-purpose Flour
4 packages (1 Oz. Packets, NOT Sugar-free) Hot Chocolate Mix
1 teaspoon Salt
1-¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Each White, Milk, And Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (or use whatever mixture you like, I added butterscotch just for fun)
1/2 cup marshmallows, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, hot chocolate mix, salt and baking soda.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer) cream butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until incorporated well then add vanilla until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 to 4 parts, making sure all is incorporated. Do not over-mix, mix until the dry ingredients just disappear. Using a rubber spatula, fold in chocolate chips.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for an hour or so.

Using a 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop (or simply using a regular spoon and eyeballing) scoop the dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway front-to-back, top-to-bottom until edges are golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a rack to cool.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

This Week in Mommyhood

This is my first week in the land of mommyhood times two. To be fair, I really haven't been a mother to two, I've been more of a mother to one. My mother-in-law took the week off so she's been with Cati most of the time while I dedicate time to Elina. This has me feeling really guilty but I know it's only temporary and soon enough Elina will be big enough to not need me as much as she does now. So this week has been a bit of a break from reality. Next week starts my true reality of being at home with two kids. I'm a little scared of managing it all but thankfully friends and family have really come forward to help so that Cati doesn't lack for attention until we find our new groove.

I don't know how to really organize these posts anymore so I'm just going to write about the memorable and meaningful moments/happenings this week:

Feeling Tearful. Like I said the guilt related to Cati has been huge. I left her Friday morning as an only child with the knowledge that the next time I saw her she would be an older sister. I cried when I said goodbye, thought about her as I labored, and couldn't bring myself to talk to her over the phone while in the hospital. My perfect little girl, who was an only child for two solid years, now had to be bumped down to divided attention. Add to that the feelings of being a cheater: I felt as if I was cheating on Cati by having another child and loving Elina as much as I do.
Meeting for the First Time. I was looking forward to the girls meeting for the first time. As my friend Jen put it, "it must be amazing to see best friends meeting for the first time" and it truly was. At first, Cati didn't know what to make of Elina and I'm assuming she was confused about Elina being on the outside after being told for so long that Elina was in my belly. But after an hour or so, Cati was kissing Elina and even crying out for her when she left the hospital.
Going Home Together. Aside from the VBAC another difference about this birth and hospital stay is that we all left the hospital together. There was a concern over high bilirubin levels but luckily it wasn't enough to keep Elina in the hospital any longer than needed. It felt so weird and great to be discharged together and to come home during the day. We got to spend some family time together with both girls.
Abu Coje Eso. Cati is really good with Elina and very curious about her but she still wants me around and wants me to do things for her. The funniest thing she did this week was tell her grandmother to grab Elina, who was sleeping on me, so that I could change her diaper.

Breastfeeding. Oh me, oh my. Breastfeeding is again an issue. I do not want to pump again so this week has been spent focusing on getting a good breastfeeding relationship going. I've had three lactation consultations and the last one has really helped. Turns out, Elina not only had problems with latching but also with sucking. She now gets finger fed (catheter taped to my finger and she sucks on it to get milk) to practice her sucking and then I put her on the breast. After, I still have to pump to prevent engorgement but hopefully this is only temporary once she gets better at sucking and latching.

Feeling the Love. It always amazes me how loved our family is. Friends have come by to drop off food, diapers, wipes, and basically anything I need.

VBAC Thoughts. There are general discomforts about recovery but it's so worth it. I would not trade this recovery for a c-section recovery. I only had IVs while I labored, I didn't look as swollen afterward as I did after Cati was born, I was walking within hours of Elina being born, my hospital stay was shorter, and I was already out and about driving around Miami three days post-partum. The VBAC, however, solidifies the fact that Elina is our last pregnancy. If I were to get pregnant again I would want to try for a another VBAC and the whole experience of being considered high-risk and knowing that any little irregularity during the labor process will immediately make the doctors jump to c-section talk is too much to go through again. Not only was it stressful for me but it was also incredibly stressful for Alex.

Father of Two. The saddest moment this week was when Alex's brother's girlfriend asked Alex how it felt to be a father of two and he responded with "I wouldn't know, I've barely been around." To say that he's been busy is an understatement and on average he's been getting home after midnight (this is after leaving the house at 5:30am). Luckily, Alex had the weekend after Elina was born off so he was able to be with her then, but he has been getting home so late during the week that he hasn't been able to see Cati or help out much with Elina.
Differences and Comparisons. The comparisons are already beginning. The most commented comparison is about looks and how much Elina looks like Cati. They look so much alike that it stuns me and makes me wonder if I will ever have a child that looks more like me than Alex. Even my doula commented on the looks and said that "we only make one model." I'm really curious to see how much Elina changes over the next few months. Aside from that, Elina is an easier baby than Cati. From the beginning Cati cried all.the.time. I didn't think I would survive and, honestly, thinking back to her newborn days makes me sick to my stomach because of how much she cried. Despite issues with breastfeeding, Elina is a calm baby and a good sleeper. I can't wait to get to know her and her little personality.

And so Elina is already one week old and Cati is beginning her third year of life. Here's to another week of surviving and hoping that I can be present enough to enjoy this very moment without wishing for time to work it's unstoppable forward movement.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies

 Double Fudge Oreo Cookies
And now a baking recipe to give you a break from all the baby-related posts. I made these cookies for Cati's birthday party cookie buffet table because (1) I like trying new cookie recipes and (2) how can you go wrong with chocolate and Oreos? These are definitely chocolaty cookies but not so chocolaty they would turn cookie eaters away. I think I might have overbaked the cookies because I was expecting a cookie with more chew and these turned out to have more crunch. Either way, a perfect cookie for kids.

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies
Source: Tracey's Culinary Adventure
Note: I halved the recipe and got about two dozen 2-inch cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 cup crushed Oreo cookies (I left mine in fairly big chunks)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, beating until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and Oreos with a rubber spatula (the batter will be quite thick).

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a small cookie scoop to divide the dough into 2 tablespoon balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set (the centers may still feel soft). Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough (be sure to let the baking sheet cool in between batches).

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Elina's Birth Story

This story begins a week before Elina's birth. On Thursday, February 9, 2012 I had an OB appointment and during this appointment my doctor brought up the dreaded c-section topic. All pregnancy long I thought I'd have until I was 40 weeks pregnant before having that discussion, but at this appointment the doctor said if I didn't deliver by 39 weeks then we'd have to schedule a c-section. I was so heartbroken over this because I wanted a fair chance at a VBAC, I didn't want to make Elina come out sooner than she was ready, and, most importantly, I wanted to have control over this birth experience. I met with my doula over the weekend and we agreed I should seek a second opinion because I should not feel pressured into doing something I was not only completely against but also absolutely uncomfortable with.

I had a week to work with and during that week I did everything I could think of to get labor going: long walks, sex, bouncing on a ball, eating pineapple and spicy foods, etc. I was supposed to have another OB appointment on Thursday, February 16, 2012 and was already dreading the impending c-section talk. Luckily for me, my doctor had an emergency and my appointment was canceled. I found out later I was supposed to have been scheduled to see someone else in the practice, but regardless I felt like I was given a few more days to go into labor naturally. That day I had an ultrasound and it showed Elina practicing her breathing exercises. This was great because it meant she was getting ready to come out. That night Alex and I went on a date: we saw The Vow movie and had dinner at the first fancy restaurant we ever ate at close to 7 years ago, Christy's. We both joked the baby better come after dinner.

That night I woke up a few times to pee, which is normal, but at around 6am something made me want to jump out of bed. I did and soon after I felt (and heard?) a pop and felt the gush of my water breaking. I immediately woke Alex up and his response was "congrats love." Here it is: my chance to try for a VBAC. I spent the next hour doing a load of laundry and writing my school assignment for the following week. At around 7am contractions started and they were mild, like period cramps. At 7:25am I called me doula, told her about my water breaking, and asked for her advice on when to go to the hospital. I wanted to labor as much as possible from home but I also knew I couldn't labor too much at home because my water had broken and I was Group B Strep positive, which meant I needed antibiotics while I labored so it wouldn't affect Elina.

At 7:45am Alex called his mom and told her to come over because we were going to go to the hospital. She arrived about an hour later and I started packing the hospital bag. We said goodbye to Cati and my goodbye was really tearful: I couldn't believe I was leaving her as an only child and by the time I saw her again she would be a big sister. We got to the hospital around 9:30am and by this point my contractions were stronger. I could still talk through them if I tried but I didn't want to; I wanted to focus on just breathing through them. By the time I was checked at around 11:30am I was 2-3cm and 75% effaced. I was hoping for more progress because of the contractions and because I was afraid of getting caught in the "not progressing as quickly as she should be" hospital mentality. I was moved to my room and told my doula to make her way to the hospital. At 12:15pm my OB checked me (finally! both Alex and my OB at the same hospital at the same time) and I was 4cm, 100% effaced, and +1 station (Elina was above my pubic bone). At this point my OB recommended getting an epidural to manage the pain and also as a precaution in case I needed a c-section. I refused at first because I wanted to at least get to 5cm but soon after the contractions got strong enough to almost bring me to tears and, either way, I would have to wait at least an hour for the epidural so I decided to get it. Close to an hour and a half later I got the epidural and while it provided relief, I still felt every single contraction. The pain was more manageable but I never got a break from laboring. At 2:15pm I was checked again and I was 5cm, 100% effaced, and Elina was at the pubic bone. At 2:30pm my doula arrived and we spent the next 2 hours chatting about births and working through the contractions. This whole time I made sure to stay in a seated position so as to help the baby move down.
At 3:45pm my OB walked in and said he was going to start me on pitocin because my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and not strengthening. This scared the crap out of me because I knew pitocin was something that would dramatically increase my chances of a c-section. My doula tried sending me messages about denying the pitocin until I was checked again and this pissed my doctor off. He told me I should trust him because he had my best interest in mind and because he was the medical professional. I ended up offending and upsetting him by refusing the pitocin but I knew I had to refuse because I was ultimately the one who had to deal with the mental effects of this birth. I am so thankful my doula was there but she gave me the strength and courage to stand up to my doctor. Turns out, the machine tracking my contractions was missing contractions so I was even happier I stood my ground. When I was checked at 4:15pm I was 6cm, 100% effaced and -1 station so Elina was passed the pubic bone.

The next couple of hours were almost a blur as I worked through the contractions and changed positions to make Elina move further down. I hoped I had progressed to at least 8cm. The contractions were pretty painful and I felt a ton of pressure down in my pelvis. As time neared 6pm I had to prepare for another pitocin talk if I hadn't progressed sufficiently. Before this though, I had to be given oxygen because Elina's heartbeat had slowed down after the contractions (normal is for it to slow during the contractions). Once again, I started freaking out because I knew this could be a reason for c-section but my doula reassured me that this dip only happened twice so I shouldn't be worried. Either way, my doctor came in to check on me and when he examined me it turned out the baby was "at the rim" and he told me to push.

I was stunned and shocked and felt like I was in a dream. Did he just say to push? To me? And so I started to push not really knowing what I was doing. Both my doula and doctor told me to push down low like I was pooping and because I could feel all the pressure down there my doctor told me to focus on pushing against the pressure of his fingers. The hardest thing about the pushing for me was not breathing through the pushes. More than anything I wanted to scream or grunt or something and inhale huge gulps of air, but I was told that wouldn't help with my pushing. In between contractions I grasped for air like it was the most delicious thing in the world. I was told to slow my breathing so as to not pass out or get dizzy. Pushing continued for an unknown time and all the time everyone was telling me I was doing a great job and that Elina was just minutes away. Finally, my doula told me to look down and I responded with "my belly is too big to see anything!" Next thing I knew I had pushed Elina out and she was on my belly. I couldn't believe it: I pushed her out. Not only was I in awe of my newest daughter but I was in awe of myself. I was so happy and I kept saying "I can't believe I pushed her out!" There were kisses all around and I was just sooo proud of myself. I asked what time she was born and how long I had pushed for and was told she was born at 6:23pm and pushed for no more than 20 minutes.
Amazing Alex.

Holding Elina for the first time.
Mommy and Elina.
Alex holding Elina for the first time.
With my OB and doula.

Everything about this birth was amazing. It was the experience I was hoping for and wanted. If I was shocked when Cati was first handed to me in the operating room, then I was even more shocked this time around because Elina’s was handed to me straight out of the womb. I was in so much awe of this baby, she made it through labor and delivery, and in awe of myself for literally pushing through it.

For some women, the type of birth, c-section or vaginal, doesn’t matter. For them, what matters is the end product of a beautiful baby. All pregnancy long I wished I could feel that way. Elina is a blessing, always will be, but she will not take the birth experience with her; that’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life. With Cati’s birth being a c-section, I have struggled with what that means for me for two years. At first I felt like less of a woman because she was cut instead of pushed out and that later translated into, I guess, a sense of guilt over not doing more to avoid a c-section in the first place. I felt this birth experience would be a away to finally close the book on those feelings. To let go and show myself that that one birth experience was not a definition of me or the way all birth experiences would be. Sure, there are risks involved in a VBAC but those are risks I was willing to take in order to feel better about myself. A VBAC is a huge victory for me and the realization of a dream.

At the end of the day, I was so proud of myself and of what I was able to accomplish. I am thankful for the amazing support of Alex, who throughout the entire labor held my hand, told me I was doing a great job, and called me his hero once his daughter was born. I am thankful for my amazing doula, Michelle Fonte, who gave me the strength to make it through the labor and to labor on my terms. I am thankful for my body for doing what it was meant to do. And I am thankful for being able to walk away from this experience knowing things were done on my terms. I owned this birth experience in a way I didn't own Cati's and because of that I feel better about myself as both a mother and woman. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world. I feel empowered and proud. It really isn't just about the birth, it's about standing up for yourself, standing up against the pressure put on you by people who don't know your body, and feeling like you can trust your body.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

A Few Maternity Pictures

So the baby is here and I never got around to sharing my maternity pictures with you. I did them around 37 weeks pregnant and I love the way they came out. A huge thank you to Melissa of Simply Captivating for capturing this special time in our lives.
Can't wait to meet you Baby D!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

She's Here! She's Here!

Baby D, otherwise known as Elina Gabriela Diaz, is here! She was born on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 6:23pm via VBAC (go me!!). She was 19" long and 7lb 8oz. Birth story, maternity pictures, and a whole slew of baking posts to come. For now, here's one of baby girl's first pictures:
We're slowly adjusting to life with new baby and so far things have been going well. The true test comes next week when the reality of me being at home with two kids most of the day sets in.
Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Cati's Second Birthday

Back in November I had decided I wanted to do a Sesame Street theme birthday party for Cati. I thought Sesame Street was a good idea because she's really into the characters and knows most of them by heart. That was before I realized Sesame Street was a really popular theme for second birthdays. So I had a challenge: how to make the party Sesame Street themed but unique enough to be just right for Cati. I found a balance between using the traditional Sesame Street sign, the colors of pink and aqua, and a bit of focus on Cati's favorite characters of Abby, Zoe, and Elmo.


Again, the incomparable Shelley made this cake:IMG_6374
I also didn't want to go overboard with decorations because I was afraid of going into labor. Luckily, that didn't happen and the party happened on Sunday and was a huge success. The biggest hit was the giant bounce house and slide. All the kids loved it and I was so surprised by how much Cati enjoyed it. The girl spent most of her party in there and the only way we got her to stay out of it was by feeding her pizza, cake, or cookies. Which, by the way, the cookie buffet was really popular and I'm amazed Cati didn't turn blue and start saying "mmm crumbly cookie" from all the cookies that she ate. Thank you to Claudia and Raquel for baking along with me!
Slide with daddy
This is Cati pointing back to the bounce house

As always, events like this remind me of how loved Cati is and how much love and support there is out there for our little family. We really do have the best family and friends.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Sour Cream Pound Cake
I was in the mood for a cake; a simple yet delicious cake. I had saved this recipe a while ago and seeing as I had all the ingredients I decided to make it. I normally, cut cake recipes in half but I didn't do that with this Sour Cream Bundt Cake recipe. Thank God I didn't because the cake was sooo good. It was literally all eaten up within two days. Alex even proclaimed this the best bundt cake I have ever made. With words like that, I highly recommend you make it now. 

Sour Cream Bundt Cake
Source: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

2 stick butter, at room temp (do not substitute)
6 eggs, room temp
8oz sour cream, room temp
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Oven to 350. Grease and flour a tube pan or a bundt pan. Use the second rack from the bottom in your oven.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold the baking soda into the sour cream. Add half of the four and half of the sour cream into the mixer. Beat well. Add in the remaining flour and sour cream and the vanilla and almond extract. Mix well. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center tests done. Cool in pan 10 minutes, invert onto rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Banana Pancakes

This recipe is a toss up. If you want something the adults will love, then this recipe is perfect if you said adults love bananas. If you want something a toddler Cati will love, then skip this recipe. Alex and I both thought these pancakes were delicious but Cati was not interested at all. I guess she likes the regular pancakes I like more than these. Either way, this recipe is great for switching up the breakfast routine around here. 

Banana Pankcakes
Source: ADDEAN1 on
Serves: 4-6

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, canola oil and bananas.

Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Today You Are Two

Photo by Melissa of Simply Captivating
Dear Sweet Catarina,

It's so hard to believe that today you are a two years old. My little baby has turned into a little girl. Thinking back on the past year of your life I am left both in tears of sadness and happiness. Sad that time has gone by so quickly and that there's nothing I can do to stop you from growing, but happy that time has passed in such a way to allow your personality to bloom. A year ago I would have simply said you are a happy baby. Today I can say so much more. You are still happy, but you are also a hilarious little character complete with your own quirks. Like your dad, you hate to be dirty and you love, love sweets. Like me, you have a temper and an attitude that shocks me into saying, "I didn't know a two-year old could already have an attitude like that!"

You are Miss Independent. You love to sing anything and everything and, trust me, the fact that you are currently obsessing over Adele's "Rumor Has It" has me feeling like you are definitely sprung from me. Your voice is so sweet and high-pitched that I feel sad for the day when it won't be so. You are capable of understanding so many things, but my favorite is your ability to be empathic. If you see someone crying, you will say "sta llorando" and be close to tears yourself. If you do something to hurt one of us, you will say "owwee corazon" while touching your heart. You will say, "sana sana culito de rana" to rub away the pain. And you know your kisses are magical.

As I look back on the past year of your life, I am amazed at how much has changed and how well you have adjusted. We both started school and you got a new babysitter. These are new things you were completely unaware of until they happened, but trust me baby girl, I stressed out about them and felt so guilty about taking myself away from you. I still feel that guilt, but seeing how you have grown and developed helps to ease the guilt. This next year of your life will be full of even more adjustments as we await the arrival of your little sister. I know you will be an amazing big sister and I can't wait to see you express all that love you have in you.

There is so much to say about milestones and development, but it doesn't matter. You are perfect regardless of what you know or don't know and regardless of what you do or don't do. The biggest and most important milestone of the past year has been you going from simply saying "mama" and "dada" to "love you mommy" and "love you daddy." The greatest and most fulfilling role I have as that of your mother and it makes me so proud to be known as "la mama de Cati" (thanks E!). You are such a beautiful, amazing, wonderful, miraculous little girl and somehow I got lucky enough to be your mother.

While things may have started off rocky with us, things are great now. You are secure in me and I am secure in you. We have a bond that will hopefully never be broken. You are your own little person completely separate from me and you constantly remind me that you don't need my help. But, when you do ask for help, my heart lights up because you still need me and, more importantly, because you understand wanting and choosing to ask for my help.

There is so much to say, but it's impossible to say it all when my heart is so full. You have made the past two years of my life seem like something out of a fairytale. Life with you is the stuff dreams are made of. You are my silly, goofy girl. My "baby grande." You are my Cati Diaz and I am your Mommy Diaz. And if you get nothing else out of this, at the very least take this with you: thank you for being you and for giving me the gift of motherhood. The woman I am today, the love I am capable of feeling, and the hope I have, is all because of you.

Love Always,