Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sarah & Ray Come Down For A Visit!

Last weekend, our good friends Sarah and her boyfriend, Ray, drove down from Jacksonville to visit us. 

Sarah will be Ava's Godmother once we get around to scheduling her Baptism on a weekend that works for everyone. 

For those of you that don't know Sarah... she is one of my very best friends. I met her at FSU through a mutual friend. Sarah, Ali, and I were inseparable in college.
The 3 of us at Ali & Lee's wedding in July 2012 
One of my favorite pictures EVER. Ali's amazing wedding photographer captured the exact moment Sarah felt Ava kick for the 1st time. Such a great memory! Sarah gave me this picture in a frame when Ava was born. I have it in Ava's room on the table next to our rocking chair. I look at it every time I feed Ava.
Thank you Craig Watson Photography in Chicago!

 I am honored to have her be Ava's future Godmother. 

Fun fact:  Sarah and Ava share the same birthday! November 2nd is a special day :) 

On Saturday, we went on the SummerWind for a 4 hour cruise. Mark had his team on board that day for a work event to congratulate them on their hard work. It was a great day with great people. 

Our good friend, Zach, spent the day with us too :)

Best seat in the "house"

Both of us laughing and holding onto my hat so it wouldn't fly away in the wind!

Right after we took this picture we both looked at each other and said, "Why did we put our hands on our hip?! We're sick of that girl pose!" hahaha O well. 

My handsome husband and Captain :) 

On Sunday, Sarah and Ray attended our church's family service. This is held in the gym where families can sit all together at a big round table with coffee in a relaxed setting. Sarah is also Lutheran so she fit right in! I think Ray just wanted to come to watch Mark play the drums... ha

We got there early and so I got to snap some pictures...

"talking to Sarah"

Thank you, Sarah & Ray, for visiting us. We always had an amazing time with the both of you. 



Friday, April 26, 2013

Today's Play Date in the Park for Ava, Kelsey, & Carter

Today was such a pretty day out. My fellow mom friend, Kristine, invited Ava and I to meet her and her two kids at the park. 

So we put a blanket down and hung out with our girls while her adorable son, Carter, played in the water area of the playground. 

Such a cute park! I cannot wait until Ava can run around and play with all the things they have there for little ones. 

Here are some shots I took today. 

Ava sharing her favorite pink bunny with Kelsey :) 

Ava is 2 weeks older than Kelsey. Almost 6 months!!!

What a ham, this one! So funny! He would go and fill up his water bucket and come running to dump it on us. Luckily, Kristine has cat like reflexes and caught him every time... Kristine handling those two little ones like a pro is my inspiration. 

Don't you just want to bite those legs!?

Our pretty girls!
Ava has a bib on because she was just eating/is a slobber monster.

You can't tell in these pictures, but Kelsey has the most gorgeous LONG lashes. I can already see jealous girls in her future. 

Such a great day with great people. Kristine was nice enough to introduce me to her other mom friends there. I am sure we will be back and enjoying it even more when the girls are able to sit up by themselves!

Thanks, Kristine! Ava and I had a great time today.

Ava is zonked out napping after her eventful day, and I am going to  relax until she wakes up :) 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Our New, Healthy Finds + A Green Smoothie Challenge

This week I will be joining Ashley over at 

Wannabe Green

and Katherine at 
Real Food Runner

These ladies are doing a 7 day "Green Smoothie Challenge" challenge and since I make smoothies pretty much every day... I'll accept the challenge!  

Most of my smoothies consist of organic: kale, spinach, water/ or coconut milk, little piece of ginger root
with any combo of (whatever I have in the house): 

 half a banana, apple, lemon, frozen berries/mango/pineapple/ and/or fresh parsley

And now for my healthy finds

1. Organic (Unrefined) Coconut oil - Coconut is so ridiculously good for us that it is unbelievable. I looked into it once I read that it was great for eczema. Mark has had bad eczema his whole life. Because of this, his dermatologist told him to use hydrocortisone every day. (and he has for ever since I can remember)  That's crazy. 

So I looked into Coconut oil and what do you know, it is amazing for pretty much everything under the sun. It is also MUCH better for you to cook with coconut oil rather than "vegetable" and canola oil.  I only cook with this and olive oil.  I also recently started putting it my skin on after I shower and pre conditioning my hair with it prior to watching it out. (Amazing!) 

I asked the lady at the store what the difference between "cooking" and "skin and hair care" coconut oil is - and there really is no big difference. The extraction may be a little difference but the benefits are the same. 

This is my MOST FAVORITE FIND. This will ALWAYS be in our home from now on. 

2. Just switched our deodorant to these all natural ones... 

Mark actually got a benign cyst in his underarm right after college  that he got removed. My mom gets cysts in her breasts all the time. Due to diet and toxic deodorants, they often flare up. 

I didn't realize aluminum and parabens were in our deodorant until I was watching Kourtney Kardashian not wearing deodorant because she was breastfeeding. Got me thinking and so I researched and found that my Secret brand deodorant is packed with toxicity. 

So I figure, if there are natural ones, why not use those?
I definitely do not want breast cancer or Alzheimer's one day. 

Our new deodorant. :) 

3. Chia seeds! These are pretty cool... I saw these Chia seeds a "mama chia" coconut mango drink  I bought and LOVED it.

I looked into what these seeds do because this little drink was kind of expensive...

I found out that chia seeds are: 

-Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. (Chia is the richest plant-source of this healthy oil) 

-Rich in antioxidants and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid

- Balance out blood sugar

-Prevents  Diverticulitis

and a ton of others...

When I saw this package I was confused because the drink I had tried had "jelly like" seeds in them. Well, low and behold, when the seeds are added and soak in water they turn jelly like. Lovely. So I bought this entire bag for $10 and make my own drinks at home rather than spend $4/$5 on one little drink. You only use like a teaspoon or so of seeds so this bag will go a long way. You can also sprinkle the seeds onto your food. 

4.  Coconut milk. I purchased almond milk 3 weeks ago and liked it but it had a nutty taste to it. Good for mixing with coffee but I wasn't that into it. 
I prefer coconut milk. 
I have been drinking cow's milk my whole life until I found out that mammals aren't supposed to drink milk beyond their mother's milk at infancy... 
I won't even get started on the things that are in milk - including unsanitary things.
That explains why there are so many lactose intolerant people, allergies, and every thing else that causes people to have to skip the dairy.  I was reading this article last week about a pediatrician believing that a child had signs of Autism until his parents looked elsewhere and decided to change his diet. When they took dairy out of his diet, the child's behavior was normal. Incredible how diet can greatly have an impact on even a child's behavior!

Not that I had an issue(that I am aware of) before, but I have felt wonderful since removing dairy from my diet.  I have noticed that my skin is 100% clear now though. I attribute it to the absence of dairy and the added hormones that came along with it. 

4. Goji Berries - These are a bit on the tart side so I eat them every now and again when I remember I have them or grind them up in a smoothie. 

Goji Berries are: 

- packed with antioxidants

- prevent cancer and other illnesses, including heart disease

- These antioxidants may also boost the immune system and lower cholesterol. 

Eating foods high in antioxidants may slow the aging process as well. It does this by minimizing damage from free radicals that injure cells and damage DNA. 

 boost brain health and may protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's

Other studies using Goji berry juice founds benefits in mental well-being, and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health. 

5. And this...well, Mark eats popcorn on a nightly basis while he watches the news. 

Since most of inorganic corn is GMO (a Genetically Modified Organism). This means that corn (as a regular veggie or as an ingredient in all of that processed food) was not grown from a regular seed. It was patented by a company called Monsanto and created to make inspects stomachs explode when ingested. The corn seed literally makes its own insecticide. And if you believe what they say ("That it is only harmful to insects, not humans.") it is sadly untrue. Look into it. I can blog forever if I go into it. Trust me on this, you don't want to eat it.

 So with that being said, this NEEDED to be organic - non GMO.
6. Our new 98% natural cleaner-  Meyer's. I just cleaned my floors with it. GREAT! The "Rosemary aromatherapy" smells great. A little goes a long way with this stuff. 

I'll wrap it up here.

My goal is: every time I go shopping for us, I go with a new purchase in mind that will be a more natural and healthy alternative for us.

I'll be looking into natural shower gels next since ours are LOADED with fragrance and who else knows what. 
That cannot be good for Mark's sensitive skin and I don't want it harming/ aging my skin either.

If you wouldn't put it in your mouth, why would you put it on your skin?

I am loving the "all natural" search and hope it inspires you to look at your every day items a little closer.  
Please send me a message if you use a natural product that you love and would recommend!

Well, until next time!



Sunday, April 21, 2013


Tonight was one of those nights that you want to bottle up and keep with you forever...

Lately, my favorite part of the entire day is Ava's last feeding before she goes down for the night. (and it isn't because the day is finally over and I can relax.)

It's because that's what the room is quiet and dark, just me and her. She has been doing this thing lately where she put her right hand on my cheek while he drinks her bottle. She locks her big, blue eyes with my brown eyes. I see Mark. Sometimes she stops drinking because she wants to just smile while looking at me. Milk steaming down her face...just to smile at me instead of swallowing her meal. I can't help but start laughing - in turn making her laugh.

We have a great time in that 20 minutes.

She is her father's daughter for sure.
I love that.

She has his disposition already. Always smiling, always laughing.
I would like to take credit for any of her but the only thing I have in her is the shape of her eyes and that nose that I had when I was a baby (so my mom says.)

Tonight was a night I wish I had a video camera over my right shoulder.

Capturing all the little moments.
I literally got emotional tonight. That may seem weird for some of my non parent friends but I'm hoping that my parent friends understand. There's something about putting in so much effort, so much of yourself all day, every day -to then end it quietly and peacefully looking eye to eye with this little person who is half of you and half of the person you love so much.

I would do anything for this little girl. That almost scares me sometimes because I know it's completely true. I would do whatever I needed to keep my daughter happy, healthy, and safe. I would kill for her safety in a split second.

I knew something in me would inevitably change once I became I mother one day...

And now I can say that I did. It changed the way I think, react, plan, and love I think about the future unlike I ever did. Hoping, wishing, and planning for a better tomorrow while hoping that I can make it our reality.
I plan by learning and preparing myself to become what I think is the best kind of mother. I want to be a loving mother who is aware of how to support, educate, and nourish my family to the best of my ability.

Ava has made me want to be better at everything. For example, I now look at the food that I feed my family a lot differently. I want our daughter and my husband to have food that keeps them happy and healthy. Learning about how our food has sadly changed in the past 20 or so years is now a interest of mine- something I can't look the other way on because I now know too much.

I find myself learning about the MMR vaccine-
the all too common repercussions of it to deciding as a family that she will receive it when she is about 4 years old to hopefully prevent Autism.

There are so many things that I care/learn/become aware of when I became a parent.

It is a completely amazing/terrifying experience!

I'll end this by saying that all of those confusing and unsure moments that I experience now are completely surpassed by the ones of complete happiness and love.

Tonight I locked eyes with my daughter for about 15 minutes. She and I were in our own world.

I will always keep these times very close to me. In the hundreds of pictures I take, the videos I record, and the blog posts I write - I will look back and share it all with her one day.

No matter what anyone else thinks or feels when they read my public blog posts; these will always be for Ava.

We love you, Ava Loren.

You are what makes us better every single day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Family Time

Over the weekend we had Mark's father & step mother in from OR, Mark's step-grandmother in from ND, and my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins drove 45min up from Kendall, FL. 
So the last few days have been spent visiting with them and of course me taking a million pictures to document Ava's reactions to our family. 

Meeting "Grandma Jay" Jaselta Lorenz for the 1st time on Friday. This is Tim's (Mark's Step father) mother)

Ava was given her middle name Loren to include this special side of the family.

*Sidenote: for those who have asked me before... Ava's middle name is pronounced Lo-ren. Not Lauren. I didn't spell it wrong.
  It is Lorenz without the Z.
Think: the classic beauty,
 Sophia Loren. 

Hanging out at home

Hanging out with her Grandpa McGuire 

Trying to chew on her "SuSu" - Grandma Sue McGuire

Mark and I had my mom, his dad & step-mom, and my Aunt, Uncle & cousins over for a BBQ on Sunday. 

My Tia (Aunt) Onelia Vega

Alexa, my youngest counsin, and my tia Onelia fighing over who gets to hold Ava 

My Tio & Godfather - Elvis Vega

Alexa (my youngest cousin and former flower girl :) with her new favorite baby cousin. 

The Vega Kids: Nicolas, Alexa, and Catalina 

My uncle catching up with my mom. This is my father's brother so he and my mom go waaaay back. 

Mark's new favorite thing to do with Ava. 

I don't know how Sue does it, but she gets Ava to "talk" back to her every time. It's hilarious. Ava makes her loud screeching sounds. 


Last night we went to Mark's mom and Step dad's for dinner to visit with Grandma Jaselta again. 

Right after Mark walked in from work.
Laughing at their height difference. 

This is today. My pink petunia.