An abundance of daughters

In the last two weeks I’ve had over a dozen run-ins with complete strangers who have raised all Triogirls. Some with four. Most with three. All without boys.

I know my situation makes me aware of these things more than normal and I know the natural curiosity of people is to ask what our third is, but the point wasn’t the commonality (although it made us strangers feel connected in a unique way) the point was the encouragement.

In all these occurrences not one single person complained, passed down the double-edged warnings, or gave me a congratulatory eye-roll. You know the one that says–I’m smiling for you, but laughing internally once they all start their periods.

And I’m not saying girls are harder than boys. Or less valued or wanted. I don’t believe in any of those statements. I have no opinion on the difficulty of raising boys and I may never have one. I’m saying there is something unique about a family that is all one either way. There is an obvious concentration of maleness and femaleness that intrinsically sets a different mood for that household. Not that we don’t have toy cars, watch ninja turtles, or enjoy wrestling over here, because we totally do. But even putting that aside, if my husband and I only get the opportunity of raising girls it will mold and shape who we are and what we do for the next 25 years in a special way.

The beauty of all these run-ins though was the comments and feedback and support I got from them. The one today particularly struck a cord with me. He was a father of about 60-70 years and was watching me grab coffee while I waited for an oil change. Roma sat on my left hip, her hair a wild array of curls, and her face covered in a chalky white substance from the candy necklace that the teller at the bank gave her twenty minutes before. She looked like an adorable hot mess. And she was handing out giant, gap-toothed smiles to anyone who was breathing. I’m so proud of that kid and she’s not even two.
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Eliana, Roma, and . . .

10389066_10153102532011796_4458570761496398914_nI love choosing names almost as much as I love telling people how we chose the name. I told my husband that I think I jinxed us into having all girls because every time we get pregnant and start discussing names I immediately fall in love with a girls name. And I’m always a bit meh on our boy choices. They never really excite me.

So we named our first daughter Eliana Reese and our second daughter Roma Eve. Oddly enough, when I wrote Eliana’s backstory on how we named her I guess I couldn’t remember (after just having her) how we found her name. Now that I look back maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it, but I can distinctly remember googling names of Latin supermodels. Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s not sentimental or emotional or related to our traveling journeys, but it worked. And I still love it.

With baby #3 I felt stumped. Roma’s name would be hard to beat. It’s meaning and just the uniqueness of it was pretty spectacular. I couldn’t drop the ball and name this child anything. It had to fit with her siblings names, end in an “a”, and yet somehow carry it’s own sense of significance.

When we first discussed girl names we were considering Isla (eye-lah), Ophelia, Estella, Olivia, and Cora. We ruled out Cora and Olivia based on popularity (we don’t really like doing names in the top 100). But we both loved Liv as a nickname. And Olivia is popular for a reason: it’s gorgeous! Cora blew up from Downton Abbey and it’s spelling was too similar to Roma. Same thing with Ophelia. We couldn’t have a Ro and an O in the house. That’s just maddening. Estella we considered for a long time (also a family name). But, once again, we were contending with the ever popular nickname Stella (which many use as a first name) and also the similarity in spelling to Eliana. Too many E, L, A’s to consider. It just wouldn’t work for us. So we went back to Isla.

The problem with Isla was the language confusion. In Scottish it’s pronounced eye-lah and in Spanish it actually translates as island and is pronounced eees-lah. We liked the Scottish pronunciation most, but that just wasn’t going to fly in our Mexican-American household. And I didn’t want to change the spelling. It looks pretty as Isla. We eventually considered naming her Isla in Spanish and her nickname would be Izzy. But then we felt like we opened up a Spanish dictionary and just pointed. “Hey, kid. We named you Island because why not!”

Anyhow, this led me to google searching islands. No lie. And in the end we actually are naming her after an island that absolutely holds no significance to us. It’s just pretty. And that’s the awesomeness of being her mom. Or being a parent in general for that matter: we can name our kids whatever we want because they are our kids. Although, I will say I did research the meaning of the name and the history behind it and how to pronounce it in all possible languages and after that the husband and I were both 100% still in love.

Now that I’ve written a mini-novel all about two simple words. I’d like to introduce you to our third baby girl:

Lucia ReySo, yeah, we named her Lucia as in the Island of St. Lucia. Not to be confused with the Spanish form of the name Loo-see-uh or the Italian form of the name Loo-chee-uh. This is pronounced Loo-sha. It’s the English form of the name. Now we have a daughter with a Spanish name, an Italian name, and an English name. But, somehow, in all of that craziness it totally works.

Her middle name is a family name. We took it from my husband’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name. His maternal grandmother passed away at a very young age. When my mother in law was only 18 actually (and she was the oldest of four girls–women run in the family). And so his dad’s mother was very involved in my husband’s life as a child and although I never got to meet her a very revered woman. She had 15 children of which my father in law was the youngest and my husband her “baby’s” first baby. People talk about her with such love and admiration I couldn’t imagine not passing a part of her legacy onto my daughter. And I know she would’ve loved to meet all of her great granddaughters. When Eliana was born we counted her to be somewhere around the 47th grand-great grand baby. Lucia is now closer to #51 or #52. Pretty darn amazing.

In about 19 more weeks we will get to meet her.
Our little Lulu.
Life couldn’t be anymore spectacular. ❤ ❤ ❤

 

We haven’t failed

10155718_10153007735961796_5270076257712892470_nI’ve always written from a perspective of truth and naked honesty. I don’t try and sugar coat things or only present the side of our reality that looks like rainbows and unicorns. I hope this allows you to find my life relatable and to give you hope that whatever you’re going through you are never alone. Because really we never are even when we feel absolutely and positively abandoned.

We are two weeks away from finding out the gender of our third child and I feel the need to prepare you and us about what may or may not unfold. You see, we have two girls. Two human beings who are sunshine from head to toe, who make us smile even when they make us angry, and who we could never ever part with. They both intrinsically add an important element to the dynamics of our family and we wouldn’t change anything about them. Nothing. Even when they are at their worst we still want them.

My husband and I have spent countless hours mulling over the different possibilities and what it means if it’s a girl and what it means if it’s a boy. The emotional response to both and the constant nagging that we shouldn’t even be discussing this because we should just be happy we can have kids. And we should just want them to be healthy. And, yes, all of that is true. But, most people have preferences one way or another. And the honest truth is that yes, we are hopeful for a boy. My husband more so than me, but I’d be absolutely selfish to be praying that I wouldn’t want that for him. The possibility of raising a son and all of the joy that would entail. And I want it too. To see my husband in mini form and to see how our daughters respond to having a brother.

But, I feel the need to make something very clear. As much as we would love a son, having a girl doesn’t mean we have failed. Having a third girl will be no less joyous for us than the addition of our first son. And yet this heaviness remains between us that people will be sad for us. That having three girls isn’t something people would wish on another human being. I get jokes about buying tampons in bulk and surviving the teenagers years etc. And I laugh and I smile because I don’t want to make the truthful comments inside my heart that will offend them or make them feel awkward.

Our value isn’t found in our gender. Our value is found in simply being human–a creation of God. Which means that a family comprised of all sons or all daughters is not more or less valued than one who has both and vice versa.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  – Genesis 1:27

I don’t want to get into a war over gender or our different roles or equality or religion for that matter. I simply want you (our family and friends and loved ones across the world) to be onboard with us. To celebrate with us in the addition of this life. Regardless of the child’s gender, this life is wanted. This life is valued. And this life will be loved with every square inch of our hearts. Whether male or female this child will serve an important role in our family and the world.

Yes, we will experience a loss of sorts from not having a boy. My husband maybe more than me. And I accept those emotions. I think they are natural and a distinct part of being a human. It’s okay for us to want a boy. But it will not lessen our love or our happiness from our third daughter. If we didn’t want a third girl, guess what–we wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. It’s that simple.

So, my question to you is this…
Will you celebrate with us?
Will you partake in the joy of this life regardless of their gender?
Will you accept that we haven’t failed if we get three girls?

Because we are. We are ready to celebrate. We are ready to partake in the joy of this life. And we adamantly profess that we haven’t failed. We’ve merely perfected the art of making girls.

Be joyful with us!

Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

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Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

I’m going to keep this simple and straight to the point. While using the cinnamon roll dough for my upper and lower crust was a complete random use of my imagination, I’d like to give credit to the original recipe for the pie filling. I found it on allrecipes.com and you can watch a video on the link for more specific directions. Otherwise a shortened version is included below for your use.

Ingredients:

6-8 apples cored and peeled (I used honeycrisp and it was mind blowing)

2 tubes of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls (8 count) with cream cheese frosting

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup water

3 tbs flour

1/2 cup of unsalted sweet cream butter

9 inch pie pan Continue reading

Collapse

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetMy husband turned 32 yesterday. One of those years that slips by like so many others. He celebrated alone, in a foreign country, surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Not one for the books, but one I’m sure he will remember to some degree. The girls’ and I sang him happy birthday over the phone and even had him blow out a candle, but there was no cake to share, no presents exchanged, no balloons or party. It was just another 24 hours marking him a year older.

I asked him several weeks ago what he wanted or if there was anything we could go and do. His reply was quiet and a bit melancholy. “No, not really. I think I’m good.”

Neither one of us are real huge birthday people. We expect each other to acknowledge it in some form and we do celebrate the important decades with more gusto, but generally we go out to dinner and exchange a gift. Nothing too crazy. We like being with our kids and we like enjoying life for its every day value. Holidays are fun, but they don’t fuel us.

Even with that being said I’ve felt strongly for awhile now about wanting to share some words with him. For me, words are one of life’s greatest gifts. If people give me a gift I’m generally most excited about what’s in the card. What they want to share with me. Tell me. Explain to me. A card with nothing but a signature is the ugliest waste of paper. It hurts to see it.

So, I’ve been mulling over so many words this last week. Words of truth. Words of love. Words of pain. All important and necessary and meaningful. I wondered how much I should share and how much I should keep to myself and to what degree my husband would feel comfortable with me sharing this all with you. And you. And you and you. And you. All of you.

So here we go.

This is what I said…

I don’t know what I expected marriage to be when growing up, but this was not it. You were not it. In the beginning–dating, our wedding, the earlier years–everything was perfect. So simple. Flawless even. I thought we were untouchable. When people complained about their husbands I commiserated with the lack of cleaning, the dirty laundry, and the dishes. We all dealt with that. But, when the stories got dark, when things got painful, I was often left feeling lost. I didn’t understand how women could be so angry or how a marriage could already be failing before it even started.

For me love was so simple at this time. Love and be loved. I loved you. You loved me back. Yes, we fought. We bickered. We went to bed angry a few times, but it was all stupid stuff. And it was all done and over with the next morning. We didn’t do well being mad so we made up easily. Like I said, it was simple.

The years ticked by and I thought I had it all. I thought it would always be this way. I thought you were perfect. I thought I was perfect. I thought we were perfect. And then I found myself on the floor of our living room in a puddle of tears learning the most simple lesson of all for the first time: you were nothing more than human.

And for the first time in my life I felt real, true fear. I felt lied to. I felt lost. I felt obliterated. When the truth of it all was nothing had changed. You were still the same person I married. I was still Melissa. We were still us. Human. Broken. Fallible.

But the stigma that our world had created, the stupid sayings about love and fairytales, the perfection that people sought and taught, this notion that if you truly love someone you won’t hurt them was broken. The simpleness of our life and love was severed. The perfection was gone.

And then the most amazing thing happened. I saw you. For the first time in our relationship I saw you. The you God created you to be. The you God created for me. And how the imperfection of it all made you more valuable. More loveable. More worthy of me and I of you.

You took life–you took the ugliness of it, the brokenness of it, the severed parts, and you gave it breath. You made me choose you all over again and this time I didn’t fall in love with you, I collapsed. I look at you now and I see everything. Every possibility for success and failure. For joy and pain. For love and loss and I want it all. I want you. Over and over and over again.

We carry a rawness inside–a vulnerability of sorts–that doesn’t weigh us down. It builds us up. It pushes our marriage further, our love further, our friendship further into a world I had never tasted.

We are unbreakable.

I look at you and my heart doesn’t flutter. I don’t get butterflies. And I don’t get weak in the knees. I collapse. Every morning I wake up I am in utter wonder that you are mine. That even though you are nothing more than human, that you’re my human. And mine to keep. All I want to do is make babies with you and spend our days loving on them. You are it for me and I shall cherish every day since you were born as more important than the last.

I love you. Happy 32nd birthday.

xoxo, your wife

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

83C3208D-F147-4546-9372-537EA98C187BHere we go. The best cake you’ll ever make. Especially for those of you who hate cake. I promise anyone who has tastebuds will enjoy eating this deliciousness. So sit-up. Pay attention. And grab a spoon!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with an Almond Glaze

What you’ll need:

1. Box of yellow cake mix or vanilla. Your preference. If you have something against boxed mix then here is how to make it from scratch: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt,

2. 3 eggs (4 eggs if you’re making your own cake mix from scratch)

3. 2-3 lemons (organic preferred because you use all of the zest)

4. 1/2 -3/4 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)

5. 3/4 cup coconut oil

6. 3/4 cup almond milk

7. 1 tsp vanilla extract

8. 1/3 cup poppy seeds – plus extra for decoration93B806AC-2860-4D8E-BB85-54A08028219E

Almond Glaze:
1. 2 -3 cups powdered sugar

2. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degree.
Mix together the box, the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla extract until well blended. Then add in the juice and zest of one lemon. When you pull the zest make sure you chop it up into tiny pieces before adding it to the cake. Give it a taste test to see how “lemony” it is. If you can taste the lemon than you’re good. If you can’t, add in the zest of another lemon and 1/2 the juice. Keep adding more lemon juice and zest until you are happy with the flavor of the batter. It’s really a personal call. Then add in 1/3 cup poppy seeds. If you can’t see the poppy seeds well enough, add more. I kept adding until I got a good enough visual of poppy seeds in the batter. Continue reading

Moments

My grandmother has buried two children. The first, my Uncle Ricky, when he was just a baby passed away from SIDS. No rhyme or reason. The second, my Aunt Tammy, passed away on Mother’s Day which was also her fiftieth birthday from an autoimmune disease. I’ve never asked my Grandma which was more painful. I’d venture to say there was an equal form of hell present in each situation. And where having children causes your heart to multiply in size, the loss of a child causes permanent removal. A hole in your heart–bloody, gaping, seeping, never healing.

Of course, this is all speculation being that I haven’t ever lost a child of my own. And I don’t plan on it. That’s the sick concept of losing a child. Death is certain. For all of us. No matter how much money you have or how healthy you live we will all die. There’s no argument. But, logically, death comes with an order of expectations. Children should and are expected to outlive their parents. Unfortunately, we live in a world of infinite possibilities–not for just riches and fame and decadence, but for pain, anger, and brokeness. This is reality.

For everyone.

I hosted a baby shower a few months ago for a close girlfriend of mine and during an intimate portion of the festivities we all shared little bits of advice and or encouragement for her. When it got to me I felt compelled to be honest. Honesty veiled with a bit of morbid truth. And this is what I said:

There will be moments where you will regret your decision to have children. Moments where you will question your sanity in the chaos. Moments where you will say, “WHY THE %^&(! DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?” But the beauty of motherhood is that these are moments. Some moments may last a few seconds, others a few days, and if you’re unfortunate enough to experience postpartum depression, then potentially months of moments. But, like all moments, they fade and as your children grow your love for them does as well. And when you are in the heat of these moments, when you find yourself awake every hour with a puking child, or in a bathroom of steam trying to heal croup or up at 3am with a teething, crying, fussy, inconsolable mess–I want you to stop. I want you to stop stressing, stop the anger, stop the fear, and the frustration of not sleeping and remember this:

Your child is alive. Breathing. Beating. Screaming. Alive. And even though it’s hard, even though it’s exhausting, even though you want to throw in the towel and quit–they will live to see another day and so will you.IMG_1385

There are no guarantees in life. No matter your status or position we have no guarantee that we will get another moment. Another hug. Kiss. Smile. Or its opposite. Another chance to calm a screaming child. Soothe a teething baby. Reason with an emotional teenager.

It’s all a gamble.

And yet we allow ourselves to be burdened, torn down, and emotionally overwhelmed with the moments. The moments that are out of our control and can only be resolved with the quiet allowance and assurance that time will pass. That you will get from one moment to the next and hope that so many of the moments will be filled with love, peace, joy, grace, and freedom. Freedom from the overwhelming sense of all these burdens that encompass life in general.

But I want you to think about the parents who have had the insurmountable task of burying a child. Think about that hole in their heart. The bloody, gaping, seeping, never healing wound that they will now have to accept and ask yourself which you would prefer: The moments or the hole?

Find joy, my friends. Even when it seems lost, continue searching. And to everyone who has lost a child, my heart goes out to you. You will carry a burden far greater than I could ever imagine. A burden only God Himself could understand.