Sunday, November 2, 2014

What just happened?

As I sit down to write this post, I don't know where to begin. My mind is racing a million miles a minute with way too many thoughts.

The last post I published here was over a year ago. I apologize for falling off the map, but this last year kicked my butt.

In August of 2013, I gave birth to my third child. Although I was thrilled to welcome a new, gorgeous member to our family with dimpled cheeks and the sweetest temperament, the events surrounding his birth left me an emotional wreck.
The week before delivery was a rough one for me. Unfortunately, I tend to worry too much. I allowed worry to run rampant in my mind causing me to lose sleep and remain restless the days leading to my delivery. When I went into labor, my blood pressure spiked. Here I was, ready to have a quick and easy delivery because it gets faster and easier with each one, right? Wrong. As a precaution to pre-eclampsia, I was induced. Labor was long, painful, and exhausting.

I don't think I ever fully recovered emotionally from the whirlwind of that period. Soon, I found myself in the deepest pit I have ever experienced. I had a case of self-diagnosed post-partum depression. I researched information online, but I was too afraid to seek professional help. Having had two children before and knowing myself, I knew something was not right. Something beyond my control. This wasn't the baby blues.  I felt alone, sad, helpless, and tired. All I wanted to do was sleep and cry. Life was heavy on my shoulders. You have to understand that my life was pretty much as close to a fairy tale as you could get. My husband is unbelievably supportive, loving, serving, giving, faithful, and wise. My two older children are loving, obedient, respectful, peaceful, independent, healthy and bright. Still, I researched ways of escaping and running away. I couldn't bare the thought of being in my skin. Anger took over my personality. I was plagued with irrational thoughts about how much I despised my life. The thoughts and the feelings were so real and so beyond my control, I was in sheer terror. The worst part is that I knew I was being irrational. I knew my life was wonderful, I had a lot to be thankful for and I was blessed, but I couldn't stop it, which made me feel out of control and guilty. Those days will go down as the worst days of my life.

During my battle with depression, my mom wasn't being herself. She kept telling me about a pain she was feeling and I kept telling her to go to her doctor. The doctors were stumped for weeks if not months, but her pain wasn't going away. I remember selfishly feeling upset because I expected her to help me more with babysitting at a time when I needed as much help as I could get. Eventually, the doctors diagnosed her with a bacteria in her stomach and said the antibiotics to kill the bacteria would be strong and possibly make her feel worse. Mami never got better. The weekend before Christmas, she landed in the hospital. On Christmas Eve, they removed her gall bladder, thinking it was the culprit. The Doctor told us it was one of the worst cases they'd ever seen. We sang karaoke, danced, and opened stockings at 10pm in the hospital waiting room.
We enjoyed an unusual Christmas Day last year. Mami was sent home around noon and we were able to celebrate at her house like we usually do. We were glad to have her back and finally put an end to the nightmare. Being around my family for the holidays helped my own feelings of emptiness. Seeing my mom in pain shifted my thoughts like nothing else could. I still felt the same feelings, but I had no choice but to push them aside.

After we went home on Christmas Day, Mami became violently sick again. My dad took her to the hospital where she would remain well into the new year. She was diagnosed with gastritis, then gastroparesis, then a tumor. A malignant tumor. At the head of her Pancreas. It had already spread to her liver and to a few other areas. On January 6th, she was formally diagnosed with late-stage Pancreatic Cancer. They gave her 6 weeks to live. My sweet dad stayed at the hospital during the days with her. My sisters and I took turns with the night shift. Since I'm the only one who lives in the same city as my parents and doesn't have a job, I was able to spend many nights with Mami. It was an honor and a privilege to be there with her during her final moments. Our lives were transformed as we did whatever we needed to do to be a blessing. Everything took a back seat. The business wasn't even on the radar of my mind. It was all about family.
On February 1st, Mami was sent home to receive her hospice and palliative care. She enjoyed long drives with my dad and lots of sweet family time. We sang together and did anything we could to make her smile. She was as comfortable as she could be. She was adamant about continuing her life as normal as possible. Although she hadn't eaten real food since before Christmas, she insisted on going to her eye exam, dental appointment, and didn't miss a service at our church. Every Sunday, my dad would dress her, get her in the car and bring her to church. The first few weeks she came with her walker, later in her wheelchair. She wanted to be around happy people as much as possible and hated when people got somber around her.
On March 21st, I lost her. My beautiful Mami went to be with Jesus.

The grieving process is something no one can prepare you for nor walk you through. The pain is raw and real and different every day. When you're as close to someone as I was to my mom, it's not just pictures, it's everything. My mom was a nurse by profession, a Minister by passion, and a comedian by nature. We had inside jokes about any and every thing. I adored her. My kids adored her. Their pain is so real, I see it in their eyes. They talk about her often, asking questions and recalling memories. I'm glad they will never forget her, but experiencing their pain is a dagger to the heart.

I feel like this past year has been a nightmare. I'm constantly asking myself, "what just happened?" I wish I could wake up and find out this all happened inside my mind. But it's real life. My life.

After a few months of juggling my grief, my responsibilities in our home, homeschooling 2 kids and a baby (now 14 months old), my commitments outside the home, and my business, I was spent. In his wisdom, my husband sent me away on a weekend retreat just me and God. I had to come face to face with the fact that God is calling me to a new work. My season as TiTi's TuTu's must come to an end for the next chapter to begin. I hope you will join me on my next adventure.
I can't wait to share what the new year brings for my family. For now, I just wanted to share my sincere gratitude to all of you who have supported my family and I in one way or another over the past 5 years. When I think about how far this little idea has come, it just blows me away.

Thank you, thank you, thank YOU!

With love,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Countdown Calendar

From the looks of it, I may be one of 10 people NOT doing the "Elf on a Shelf" thing. I'm jealous. It looks like fun. Maybe next year. 

Have no fear, though. We're having a blast enjoying the Christmas season our own way; that is the nerdy, thrifty, and crafty way.

While at my in-laws house over the Thanksgiving holiday, where I get to see my kids only when they need to sleep, I had enough time alone to actually plan my life a few weeks in advance, as opposed to the minute-by-minute survival mode we run on most of the time. 

I browsed a few community calendars, made a few notes and voilĂ  our Christmas Activity Countdown Calendar for 2012 was written.

When we got home, I designed a quick print, hubby nailed 3 rows of string into the wall, then we printed all the envelopes and filled them with the daily activities. 

Here is what our Christmas Activity Countdown Calendar looks like on the wall. 

Since my kids are ages 3 and 5, we focus on age-appropriate activities and use pictures in the descriptions so they can "read" what we're doing. They can't wait for Daddy to get home every day so we can go to the calendar wall as a family to open the day's envelope and find out what's in store for us. 

I alternate between food crafts, paper crafts, outings/experiences, and Christmas movie nights, which are usually on Mondays to give Mommy a much needed break from our action-packed weekends.

As they open the envelopes, we hang the activity card back on the wall to remember the fun things we've done together. 

Here a re a few photos of the things we've enjoyed the first 11 days. (Inspiration credits at the end of the post)

Day 1 - Youth Chorus Concert
Day 2 - My Niece's Birthday

Day 3 - Movie Night (VeggieTales St. Nicholas)
Day 4 - Christmas Tree Craft

Day 5 - Handprint Tree Canvas painting
Day 6 - Christmas Card Making
Day 7 - Christmas Play
Day 8 - Christmas Parade

Day 9 - Orchestra Concert - They had fake snow indoors. That is how we roll in FL. Don't hate.
Day 10 -Movie Night (VeggieTales - It's a Meaningful Life)
Day 11 - Brownie Santa Hats (she HAD to have a goldfish on top)

Setting it up was time-consuming, but's it's been completely worth it! 

To keep things organized for myself, since the envelopes are sealed and I want to make sure I have the right supplies for the activity on hand, I typed everything out on our iCal. I sent a link to the calendar to my parents and sisters so they know they are welcome to join us whenever they can. 

I'm one of those people who loves everything about the Christmas season. I enjoy it all! From the crazy schedules to the unbearable crowds, late night shopping, cooking marathons, parties every day, a decorated house, a full house, a trashed house, and of course Christmas MUSIC!!! 

God bless my husband's soul, he is not like me, AT ALL, but he's a great sport. He's happy to miss a football game for a middle school chorus concert if it means we're enjoying ourselves together as a family.

I'll be back soon to update you about our next set of adventures.

Thanks for reading!

Inspiration Credits:
Christmas Tree Craft - Via Pinterest from Homemaking Fun
Christmas Tree Canvas - via Pinterest from The Other White House
Christmas Cards - via pinterest from MudPie Studio
Community Calendar for Gainesville Found at

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Tale of the Curly Hair

 Once upon a time, there was a lucky mom who birthed the most beautiful baby girl ever. This little girl had a full head of the cutest, softest hair swirled up into a natural mohawk. She was born cool.

 That lucky mom, enjoyed playing with the little girl's hair and the little girl's hair grew and grew. Over the months, the texture of the girl's hair began to change and become even more beautiful until, alas, a gorgeous teeny fro was upon her head.

You may have seen her.
 The mother tried to persuade the little one to try straight hair, but the little one always answered "No thanks. I like my hair cuh-lly." When her mom asked her how she wanted it styled, she assuredly answered, "I want it loose."

Then, one day, the little girl's grandmother, with long, thick, shiny, silky straight hair watched her for the evening. When the mother returned home and bathed the little girl, she said, "I want my hair straight like Abuelita's!"

Shocked and excited, her vulnerable mother (who had at this point bypassed all reason), whisked the little girl away to her bathroom before she changed her mind. There, with only a few drops of silk hair serum, she began to flat iron the curls.

Oh, how pretty the little girl was with straight hair! The mom was relieved to have a few days off from un-hip people asking her why she didn't comb the girl's hair.

When Daddy got home that night, he wasn't happy. He missed the little girl's natural curls, but upon much pleading, agreed to roll with it.

After a few days, Daddy had had it. See, Daddy is the one who gets her ready for church on Sunday mornings because Mommy goes in early to sing. Daddy wasn't down with flat ironing the hair himself.

Admittedly, Mom had had enough too. It was very high-maintenance. With both parents on the same page, mom went to wash her hair.

This is where our happy story turns into a tragedy… The hair would NOT curl again. As the water saturated it, it simply rested limp and wet over the little girl's back.

Three weeks of natural remedy trials later, and the hair is still limp. NO CURLS.

This weekend, the mother learned her fate. The hair was fried. Fried like Kentucky Fried Chicken. All she can do (unless you know another option, which momma would LOVE to hear) is trim it and wait for it to grow out.

Let this be a lesson to all that experimenting with beauty and fashion has its price. One day, I'm sure we'll all look back on this and laugh. Today, while searching for photos for this post, I could've cried.

In other news, I'm now looking for a hair model, while mine recovers. I've got lots of cute ponytails, clips, and headbands in the works. Email me if you're in the Gainesville, FL area or if you are a photog anywhere in the country.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 20, 2012

First day of home-preschooling

Today was the first day of my new journey as a home pre-school teacher. I gotta admit I'm pretty stoked about spending my days with my kiddos, although it took me a while to get to the place of appreciating the blessing of being home. After considering a variety of options, I know without a doubt home is where I'm supposed to be this year.

I plan on updating the blog a bit more often now that I'll actually have cool things to share! Nothing worse than reading a blog about nothing. I'll finally share more from my wife, mother, and teacher side, rather than focusing solely on creativity.

Thank you so much for joining my family on this ride. I pray you are enlightened, encouraged, and empowered by what I share.

Today, the kids and I took it easy (a little laundry, a little water table time, a little reading...). It was day 1 and, of course, I wasn't quite ready. I had every intention on starting today and I was not about to stall so, we did do a little school work related to what we were already learning about last week. (I know myself, if I didn't start today, I would've started in September) 

A few weeks ago, I heard my 4 year old, Joa, correctly name all the money coins to a friend of ours who gave him an impromptu quiz at the ice cream shop. I was floored because I had no idea he knew money. So I did what I always do, I started setting up opportunities for him to play with money. By allowing him to engage on his own, I draw interest and curiosity without forcing a topic on him.

Last night while cleaning the counter clutter, I ran into an empty crate of Ferrero Rocher chocolates from my mom's 60th birthday party last weekend. An idea for a game popped into my head. I decided to write different cent amounts inside each opening of the crate and create a matching/sorting game.
After breakfast, Joa went to play with his money and I just laid the crate next to him. He was curious and so I explained the game to him. He could name all the coins but, I noticed that he struggled a bit with the amounts, so I made a cheat sheet for him.
Not to be left out, baby sister got an ice cube tray which she had to fill up with matching coins. She may not know which one is which, but she was exposed to the coin names.  It was also a great way to practice the concept of same and different. Toward the end of our time she was actually naming the penny correctly every time.
So there you have it. 1 down. Many more to go. I must say my favorite part is watching them engage in learning while wearing pajamas and underwear!

Hopefully, I will insert some rhyme and reason into daily schedule soon. For now, I think we're all thriving on our free spirited nature. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ice Cream Party - 3 Scoops of Sweetness!

July has always been a favorite month in our household. Not only is it my birthday, but it's also National Ice Cream month. When my daughter was born the day after my birthday three years ago, I knew I wanted to have an ice cream themed party for her. 

Since her name means "one whose light cannot be hidden," I opted for a Sunshine theme for her first birthday. Then for her second, of course, I had to do something with tutus! It was only fitting that for her third, we celebrated three years of sweetness with three scoops of ice cream!

I designed the invitations inspired by Zia's personality and my love of subway art prints. I wanted them to be fun and free, just like her! I attached and hand stamped wooden spoon with some baker's twine to each invite to give it a unique touch. 
As an event stylist, details are my thing! I must admit, though, the morning of her event I woke up at 7am, the time she was born, and burst into tears. My husband went out to run some errands and the kids were asleep. That alone time got me thinking about how much I love that girl and how much our lives have changed for the better because of her. For each member of our family, the world is a brighter place because of her. If you follow my posts on Facebook you read my nostalgic messages. This party is all about the up-close and personal elements. 

When guests entered the pool area, they were greeted by a tassel garland from The Flair Exchange and a wave of satin ribbons in pinks and greens waving in the wind. Although I created these myself, you can buy them made at A to Zebra Celebrations on etsy. Just below the ribbon garland was a small table with ice cream cone bubbles and a note that read, 
"Welcome to my party, I'm happy that you're here. Grab yourself some bubbles and fill my day with cheer. but if you run out, don't pout! No need for frustration. Just bring them back to the refill station."

There's just something about kids and bubbles, we will never understand. They LOVE them! The Bubble Refill Station, set up like and ice cream stand with sprinkles-filled "bubbles"and stocked with solution, extra bubble wands, and sun screen, was the perfect way to keep the kids happy and engaged throughout the day. 

At the pool, families were wowed by a sea of over 20 pink and green floating rings covering the surface of the pool. The kids wasted no time jumping in the water and relaxing in their floaties. 
My husband and father in law brought the grill on site and cooked some healthy turkey hot dogs for us. We garnished those with home made chili, relish, peppers, and tomato toppings served in mason jars. To accompany the dogs, we had sweet potato fries and fresh fruit skewers. For dessert we enjoyed the ice cream bar complete with all of Zia's favorite toppings. 

Guests could read the whole menu on a custom board made by our friend, Kelsi Candelaria, inspired by a print from Moulage Collection on etsy.

Of course there were touches of tulle throughout the whole affair. These triple scoop tulle cones decorated the main food area. The favor display was also decorated with a tulle garland. For favors, kids took home sundae cups, with personalized wood spoons.

Of course, the best part of the day was watching the birthday girl dance ballet as we all sang the "Happy Birthday" song for her! She's such a hoot! We ADORE her!

 Thank you for reading about our event!
Check out more party pics at Catch my Party!

Special thanks to our team:
Birthday Girl's Shirt - Claudia of Tini Posh 
Polka Dot Table Runners - Nancy of A to Zebra Celebrations
Tassel garland - Carmen of The Flair Exchange
Styling, Printables and tulle poms - Debra Walters of TiTi's TuTu's
Balloons, photos, rentals and set-up assistance - Andrea from the little shop

My husband - though he's not a vendor - had his hand in everything!
Friends and family (Cristina, Sara, Ariel, Papi, Amarilis) for their hours of cutting and crafting with me.