A year of peace… Why I’m quitting almost everything!

Since the beginning of November I began to notice that my stress level was up the roof. I was smoking like a chimney which is something I picked up as of lately because before I was a smoker who would only do two maybe three cigarettes per day and that was it. It came to the point that I was smoking nearly a pack a day. It got worse when my husband lost his job after Thanksgiving break. That was the eye opener! He has been our main bread winner and without his salary how where we going to make ends meet?

I have always been great at math and our budget and of course, that is where I started to look. What can we cut down? Boy o’ Boy I was in for a huge surprise. We became that materialistic, disposable family that accumulated stuff! We had our son in every sport we could attend, signed him up to every website he can learn from, we acquired more and more shit along the way that some of it just sat at home and even some with tags still on them. We were indulgent, sinful, wasteful, whatever you want to call it. How can it be? How did we get there? It was all the money one starts getting used to. It is unbelievable to even think that without my husbands salary that we would survive financially. What did we do when we first got married? Both our combined salaries then didn’t even come close to just my husbands salary, yet here we were, with his “BIG” salary, my decent salary (my 40 hours per week job as a secretary) and a Part time job (20 hours per week as Director of Religious Education) All this EXTRA money and we were broke?? How is that possible. I guess this is were I started looking into having less, but yes you already read about us minimalizing our home and de-cluttering just not the house but our lives, but now I want to also live stress free (or close to it) and this implies us working less. Yes, you read correctly.

For my new years plan (because I hate to call it a resolution) Was to be happier and have a lot less stress in everything and anything that involves us (me in particular who is doing this more drastically) If something doesn’t bring me happiness and/or is bringing upon stress in my life I am getting it out of the way, away from me, out of our lives, or working to make that aspect of it better. It’s funny because as I have gotten rid off at least 75% of everything that was cluttering up our lives and I of course offered certain things to my family first (jewelry, appliances, art work, anything of high value) they have come to the conclusion that we are moving. LOL! I explained to them about this whole minimalizing our lives and they just don’t get it. Hopefully they will get to see how happy living with less is making us because I can already see the change.

The crazy part of all this is that last week I quit my part time job as Director of Religious Education. I know crazy right? I love what I do. I love the kids most of all! I love it that we are molding young minds and teaching them about the faith. I am a firm believer that Religious Education is not just information that we teach these kids about the Bible and our Faith. It is Faith Formation! We are forming them to know and defend their faith! With that being said, this is what is stressing me the most. It has been about 3-4 years that I have been dealing with whether or not this is right for me. The reason being the parents. Believe it or not, most of them take their children to CCD Classes (a.k.a. Sunday School) to get them out of their hair for 3 hours. They never know what is going on. The kids don’t turn in assignments, the parents clearly don’t care, then when you seem like the total b*tch for reminding them (almost to the point of harassing them for information or paperwork) of events, etc. Then there are those that drop them off very early when they know my husband and I are there setting up and guess what? They pick them  up late AFTER Mass is over!!! Where are they? Why didn’t they come to Mass? I feel like the Sunday babysitter most of the times. I think that working with the parents bring on the most stress. I don’t want that in my life anymore. Not for a while. I want to get away from it for some time. I talked to our priest and explained to him. He was very surprised but understanding. I’m not leaving the church, my community, just de-cluttering that aspect of my life too! I will miss it though. Dearly!!! So much to the point that it aches me and I second guess whether or not I have made the right decision.

Only time will tell, and for now I will continue to get rid of anything that doesn’t make me happy. Things will be tight around our household but not impossible. Common’ I have God on my side! I have faith!  I believe a lot of good will come from this. Plus, the only true test is time.

My sons’ first curse word.

Last night while eating dinner, Frankie threw a left curve ball at us that left us stunned! Frankie had already finished his dinner and was off playing while my husband and I talked over ours. That’s how it normally happens over at our household and I have a very special post on why we normally or should I say not always eat dinner as a family and why it works for us! So, he comes to us and says his friend so and so got in trouble today. We asked why and he says “because he said what the f**k?” I nearly spit my zucchini out my mouth! I had to ask ONE more time to make sure I hear correctly. Sure enough… My son drops the F-bomb again. Documenting his first time cursing as January 24th. Around 7pm. Year 2018!

We were in such shock that I think I scared the living sh*t out of him. As a parent we told him that yes that was a VERY good reason why his friend WOULD get in trouble in school. We told him that is one of the worst words he could ever use and that even as an adult we don’t use it and if we need to tell someone else that someone used it we say F-word instead. Then Frankie reminded us that just like the F-word we do not say Gods name in vain and that we should also only use Gods name in prayer. My husband and I agreed with him and when I felt proudness overcome me, he shattered it by telling me: “Mommy you always use God’s name in vain. You always say Oh My God! And you shouldn’t only in prayer”. ?!?! I mean, what can I say? Besides that he was right and to please let me know the next time I do it so that I may stop doing so.

We continued the conversation on using bad words and how he should immediately tell his teacher because 1. He might get blamed, even if he is telling the culprit not to use such word, 2. That was the teacher can address the issue with the classmate saying it and 3. If he repeats such bad word he will spread it to other classmates that might not know about it and he would be spreading evil that way. We told him that every time he says a bad word that it is the devil working through him and spreading evil. OMG, why did I tell him that? He started to cry because he felt bad that he had used the word to tell us.

This morning he still reminded me that the F-word was bad and I got a chance to talk to his teacher. The teacher assured him that he would be doing good if he tells her when ANYONE of his friends use that or ANY other bad word. She even made mention that he doesn’t hear his mommy and daddy use those bad words right? Thank the Lord p high he reassured his teacher he doesn’t hear us with that kind of language. I would have died right there! (Mental note to stop having a sailors mouth) He did surprise us by asking who in his friends’ life must be using that language because they were bad people.

Oh the things our kids say! They sure keep us on our toes. I can clearly see him correcting me for all my OMG’s!

MOTIVATION & WHERE TO FIND IT

Motivation is hard to find at times. Being lazy is the easiest thing we could do as humans. It is something that comes natural because it is so simple. We are all lazy in our own way. The good news is that it is something we can change! I am a very driven and motivated individual. At least I like to think so! 🙂 I am an overachiever and a go-getter! (Not even sure on spelling, but bare with me. English is not my first language and don’t you dare correct me on my grammar!) I have to-do’s for everything, planners for everything, lists for everything and everyone! My son had a calendar and picture planner that I specifically made for him to organize himself since he was two! It has gone down in size for him since he has already been molded to expect certain things that must be done! For example, if you ask him what we do on Thursdays after dinner he will quickly tell you that it is weigh-in day! LOL! My husband and I have been on weight watchers for about 6 years off and on, but more into it lately to lose the last couple of pounds we need to. Frankie gets to go with us. He also weighs in and we tell him that everyone in that room is trying to get healthy. That we are all winners there and he loves it! The point is that he has in his head that on Thursdays he can’t play because there is no time. He also knows that he is only allowed TV time for an hour max on Tuesday, Thursday (while he eats) and Saturday and Sunday!

In structuring a calendar of to-do’s he also is a great kid in putting away his dirty clothes as soon as he takes it off. he knows there is a routine before going to bed. He gets motivated from feeling accomplished and that is what we adults feel in a way when something gets done. When someone tells me they are not motivated to do this or that, I ask them, but don’t you want to feel accomplished? Then why not just do it!!! Here’s the thing… If you have ten things on your to-do list and you only do 3 or 4 or even just one, well… that in itself is an accomplishment! You did one more thing above zero and that in my book makes you a hero! (Anyone beside me laugh at that? Please let me know.) Every morning before we leave the house we play the same song. A worship song of your choice will do. Something up lifting! It just puts you in that mindset to conquer the world and what better way to start your morning than praising God? Our song is “Here I am Lord” Composed by Dan Schutte. There are different versions out there. We prefer a live version with the audience praising God and singing along!

Another part of my routine is writing down my daily goals. I do this EVERYDAY. At times I do not accomplish all but if you write them down you are already going in with the mentality that you will do them! I also write down 3 things that I ask myself every morning. 1) How will I grow today? 2) How will I give? and 3) What am I thankful for? I have a journal just for that and it might be something so simple that you write, but make it your own and that will motivate you so much! If you start your day happy then you will end your day happy. I tell this to Frankie all the time. The person in our household that has a hard time following that philosophy is myself. We all have those days that we wake up and something bothers us and just sets s sour tone for the rest of the day. Lately I have learned how to manage those emotions and redirect them to more positive things. it has helped me greatly because I would wake up and just pick a fight with my husband or Frankie for no reason. I realized how this was hurting us as a family. I am also making it a point to smile more. This is something that is extremely hard for me. I don’t want to be fake about it and it doesn’t come naturally. So, it is something that I am working on. It is a continuous struggle for me because I always have this “bitch” face or frown on me and it makes me seem mad at the world when in reality I am not. I am just a very serious gal! I promise. This is hurting me because it makes me not approachable.

Finally, search for motivational videos. Start affirmations for you, your family, etc. When I get into work I put my headsets in and here something inspiring everyday. Some things on repeat more than others because it is what gets me motivated! So go for it! just get it done! What are some of the things you do to get motivated? Any challenges?

Purging MOST of my belongings and what it has taught me.

By all means, I am very new to this declutter thing. About a month a go (maybe less than that even) I went on a girls night out with a good church friend. We both really needed a girl’s night out to talk about organizing and budgeting. Of course we did that and more! Mostly talk about our kids! That is what mothers do right? Well, one of our major topics that night was about decluttering the home and how we acquire so much crap over time. How there were more important things in life than a Gucci bag or a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes!

After that night I did a lot of thinking. So much so that I have been un a purging spree! I started to re-evaluate what is important to me. What the significance of material things in my life meant and have. What it was taking from me and my family. So the easy part of this was that fewer things meant a more simplified life. Or so it seems? So far for the last two weeks I have been bagging, donating, giving away tons of things that were just a grab and get rid of easy task. It got harder after the first three days. I started to really think whether I still wanted this or not? Was it worth giving away? It cost me money, it’s too valuable, etc.

I came to halt on the fifth day and wanted to give up . Instead I decided to do more research, reading on the topic, watch videos of others who have gone thru the same experience, etc. and I got inspired again. Not only did it create some sort of spark in me, it got me beyond the just decluttering the house but becoming a minimalist. let me explain before I go on what a minimalist means to ME! You can look up whatever definition the internet gives you and go from there, but to me it simply means living with less. it is the removal of material things that distracts us from the things we really value in life. I’ll be honest. I watched some videos on minimalism and what some people have done and I was like OMG! These people ain’t got sh*t!!! How can they live like that? Then I started to see a pattern. Most NOT all where these free spirited, roaming the world people who lived out of their suit case. Most are vegan and do yoga. Seriously… I was not about to get into yoga or give up my bacon! No way! So I took it to heart that I was going to go this route a different way. To be honest, I might have gone too far. LOL!

I have begun with my bedroom and as I write this only 80% of so has been re-evaluated. Mostly my belongings like shoes and clothes. I had over 300 pairs of shoes and over 800 items of clothing. No wonder I took over an hour to pick out what I was wearing. I am proud to say that as of yesterday I now only have 30 pairs of shoes and about 79 items of clothing not counting gym wear, bras and underwear. I think I can go with less but half of that I am keeping for about 3 months and see if it really gets used or not. I got rid of so much and have donated so much. I have also begun the kitchen and 30% of it has been purged. I have a lot of work ahead but with just those simple changes I have come to noticed that I am more efficient in the morning. I feel less overwhelmed and I am looking forward to less cleaning of things around the house and concentrate on what really matters most. My family! My community! God’s Church!

Doing this so far has required a certain commitment. I have broken this down to 30 minute sessions a day. At times I do more than that! Before I started this I prayed. A lot!!! I prayed for discernment. I prayed for peace. I prayed and asked God for forgiveness. When did I become so materialistic? Having more meant I was wealthier, happier, of higher status and in reality I was being buried by it all. I started to pair this materialistic way of living to the issue of having self-acceptance issues and having a comfort problem with food. They might seem to NOT go hand in hand, but to me they are. one feeds the other and it has become a cycle of ups and downs. I am seeing that I need to feel my emotions and not feed them. to be honest with you on the food topic, these last two weeks have been so hard, so emotional that I have not committed to my diet. I have binged on food and continue to do so. Although I am exercising, I have not stopped eating these emotions away. I’m working on it, but I feel like I am working on so many things right now and guess what? Some might tell me to take it easy, slow down, do one and then finish the other. Whatever!?!? I want to just do it! I want to get it over with! I want to feel free! This is what all this has come down to. Freedom! Not being bound to things. I will concentrate on my diet next week. (At least I hope I will) I need to tie some loose ends at home with my materialistic ways.

All the purging I have been doing has not been easy. I am hurt inside. I’ve had second thoughts. It has not been easy. I saw hundreds and hundreds of dollars inside plastic bags that used to have meaning to me and as I looked at it all piled up on my balcony waiting to be taken to a donation center, I tear up. This has been extremely hard for me. I love to dress up, I love to have more choices, but after some “soul searching” I have come to the realization that all that is taking a lot of time from not only my husband and son, but from myself. I am giving people the wrong image of who Alejandra really is. I am not cute clothes, pretty bows and a killer shoe collection. I want them to see who I really am and what I am made off beyond material things and that is the reason why I want all that out of my life. I am worth so much more that that pile of “things” that is sitting in my balcony waiting to be taken away.

With all this going on please look forward to other things I am purging out of my life on a new post coming soon.

My dear son…

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about you because your 4th birthday is just around the corner. Your daddy and I hope that one day when you read this you will fully grasp how much we prayed for you. Six years into our marriage and our prayers were answered. The wait was worth it because it took God some time to make the most precious, loving, kind-hearted and happiest boy to bless us with. Know that although we spoil you a little there are things in life that don’t come easy. We work hard to give you almost anything your heart desires, but as you get older and understand better you better believe that you will need to earn things in life.

The road to getting blessed by you was not easy. Daddy and I went through many tribulations and they told us we could never be parents unless we did IVF (I know you will research what this is, but know that it is against our Faith). Practically, the doctors told us that they were the only ones that can help and as good Catholics we refused that choice because our solution was not a man of science. We had other options. To adopt or keep praying. Although we were devastated to hear those news, we believe that God would make us parents someday.

A few months after visiting that doctor or prayers were answered. You were conceived by love and Faith. It took you over 9 months to come into this world. You were too cozy inside my womb. Even upon the day of your most anticipated arrival you didn’t want to come out. You had a massive crowd of family and friends of ours waiting to meet you. You weighed 6lbs and you were 23 inches long! I knew the moment you came out that you were a gift and that you were special. Mommy and Daddy prayed the rosary every day from the moment you were conceived. You came to this world to do great things. You are already a man of God​. In time things will get hard and you will go through your own hard times, but if it is one thing you take from reading this is that we must always pray for what we want and have the Faith in God that it will happen. Not in our time but in His time.

For the past almost 4 years your daddy and I have watched you grow, learn and flourish. You have made us the happiest ever. You are thoughtful, smart, loving, kind-hearted, handsome and an overall joy to have around. On your birthday not only do we celebrate you, but we thank God and Mary for you. We throw a huge celebration for life!!! How can we not thank God for you? All we wish and pray for everyday is that you are healthy, safe, know and learn more about your creator, learn to fear God, love our Mother Mary, be an example of good and kindness, be obedient, say your prayers, do great in school and have fun living this life. Remember that the middle is what matters. You must not look back or think what if? Why didn’t I do this? What if the future was like this? Will I ever accomplish this? What you do in the present is what matters. The rest will come in time, your questions will be answered and your dreams and aspirations will come true if you work for them. Nothing is free in life or easy.

Know that we love you so much! We are blessed beyond expectations. You are our greatest gift! On June 11th you will reach another milestone and we will celebrate you and life! We will pray over you, dedicate a rosary for you, go to Mass and thank God for you and lavish you with love!!! Happy early birthday my son.

When you are the example of Faith to your child.

As a parent we want the best for our children. We know we do for Frankie. That is why it is essential that we lead by example. There are things that they might not like, not understand and things they do enjoy, but we must enforce it no matter what. We know at times it is tough even for us adults!

There might be some of you out the reading this who are not Catholic like us, or from a different denomination, religion or even orientation, but we can all relate that if it is kindness you show, your child will mimic that. If it is love, then love they’ll be portraying. If it’s telling, fighting and other horrible habits you show them then they will think it is normal.

We teach Frankie what we think is right as HIS parents. In our household​ we don’t eat until we pray. We don’t go to bed until we pray. We attend Mass every Sunday. Even while on vacation. Sure there has been times that we missed a Sunday or two in his whole 3 years of life and we make those decisions that later on we regret. We all slip and fall at times and what we have shown him is that we made a mistake, why it isn’t right and what we can do to make it right. We are almost sure that he might not fully understand, but we have planted that seed. Now it is our job to water it and it WILL blossom. Our Faith tells us it will.

This past Sunday for mother’s day we explained to Frankie that it was a day to honor the moms. He as a child felt joy because he thought that like any celebration we get to do fun things. We told him that first we go to church to visit Jesus and thank him for everything that happened and didn’t happen for that week. When he is reluctant about going we always remind him that it is just one hour that we get to spend with Jesus during the whole week. We were eating breakfast when he asked that if it was mother’s day then we should give my flowers to Mary. My husband sent tulips to my job earlier that week and Frankie thought it would be a great idea if we took them to Mary. I cut 6 tulips out if the arrangement and clustered them together and tied them with some ribbon. 🎀 He took them that morning before Mass to the statue of the Rosa Mystica. He loves that Mary and prays to her every week. He loves to take his coins, he puts them in and says a prayer.

As his parents these are the few things that make us proud because we know that we are skiing something right. Little by little we lead by example and we know it isn’t easy but it is what God wants.

Below are a few of the moments we have captured our son honoring our mother.

The ‘Salubong’: A Filipino Tradition

This morning I woke up at 4:30am to celebrate with our Filipino community. The Filipino Catholics celebrate Easter Sunday with ‘Salubong’. It is a reenactment of the Biblical account of the meeting of the Virgin Mary and the resurrected Jesus Christ. It’s a beautiful tradition that is celebrated in the Philippines and I feel blessed to have been a part of it. The Filipino community at our church of St. Bernard is very devoted and it’s tradition to our Faith is one to always be supported. It reminds me so much of the things and other traditions we do in my country of Nicaragua. The people are beautiful, devout, they go all out, yet are simple in their ways. I love that! It comes to show us that we don’t need riches, material things and other things to fulfill the love we have for our Christ. Next year I pray that our son is old enough to wake up by 4am and experience such a beautiful reenactment. 

Latin Low Mass

Today I (Alejandra) attended a Latin Mass. Here in Broward County,  Florida there is only 1 Church that gives us this privilege but only on the 1st and 4th Sunday of the month and at 7:30am. FYI, the Church is St. Malachy in Tamarac. It’s a beautiful thing to attend a Latin Mass and every Catholic should do it once every chance they get.  It’s sad though for many reasons that our Archdiocese doesn’t make this more feasible for their community.  It’s hard.  First of all,  finding a church that’s at least 15 minutes to 30 minutes away.  Second, a convenient time.  I would love to attend a Latin Mass with the whole family,  but lets be real. . . At 7:30am it’s out of the question to wake up my toddler at 6am to get him ready,  fix breakfast,  etc. My husband and I have to take turns too! Someone has to stay home with Frankie.  Ughhhhh, I just wish the Archdiocese would see what needs the young families have.  We want the tradition back in our church.  More Parishes should have a Latin Mass.  The times should be more convenient too. #bringbacklatinmass #bringbacktheveil 

Teaching your children to pray

Being persistent is important. Starting them young is important. Making it fun is essential. Don’t make it something you drill into them to do. They won’t like it. Prayer is talking to God. We tell Frankie that the same way he says good morning and good night to mommy and daddy everyday, then in the same manner he must do the same with God. Since Frankie goes to Catholic School they don’t eat until they pray and thank Jesus for the meal they are about to have so that is of great help in making sure he knows how important prayer is. Most important, no matter where you are or with whom, be an example to your child and don’t let them shy away from prayer.

Toddler behavior at Mass

A topic that my husband and I hear a lot is about children in the Mass, but more specifically the younger ones and even babies. First and foremost, I am writing based on my experience as a mother of a 3 year old and it is just my personal opinion on the subject.

It is very hard no matter how well behaved your child is to be with them at Mass for an hour and at times longer. Not only do we have to find a way to entertain them, but also be in the Mass and experience the Mass. This is very challenging and I could only imagine how other families with more children deal with it. My husband and I hear a lot of opinions on this matter from other couples. The popular one seems to be, “why even bother taking my kid to Mass if I can’t even pay attention?”. There has been times that I feel the same way. I think it happens to any parent and not just at Mass but at any public place.

We have been blessed that Frankie has been a pretty well-behaved little boy MOST of the time, but he has his days as we have ours. I think the best thing I can recommend is PATIENCE!!! As parents we have to be that role model to our children and if we “skip” church on Sundays because of the difficulty of not wanting to “deal” with a child there then don’t even bother going. But don’t expect your child later on to like anything to do with Religion and expect him or her to give you a hard time when it comes time to take them to Religious Education classes. And if your dream is to see them get married through the Catholic Church and the time comes that they don’t want to, then remember the times you “skipped” Mass because it was too much trouble.

My husband and I have come to the conclusion that we have to be mindful and respectful of the parishioners around us. We don’t like to go inside “the cry room”. We feel that we don’t enjoy the Mass in there, but if the time comes that we need to go in there then it has to be done. If your child is being loud, noisy, crying, etc. and your many evil stares, pinches and promises of treats is not working, then why bother those around you and take them away from the experience of the Mass. That is the time you or your spouse have to take turns in removing that child from the pew and taking him to the cry room, the bathroom, or what we like to do is take him outside for a breather and a few threatening words of why he should be behaving and voila! This seems to work like a charm.

As Frankie gets older we have incorporated him better in explaining what is going on and he seems to really like learning about different things. He particularly loves it when we sing out loud. He is loving and memorizing the songs. It soothes him when I pick him up and move from side to side to the beat of a song. He also loves to go around and give the peace to those around him. We also give him his very own envelope to put in the collection as this makes him feel part of the mass.

He looks up to our priest (Father Carlos Vega) and when the homily comes, we tell him to pay attention to what Father is saying that he is talking to him about God. We even ask him sometimes what Father is saying and although 90% of the time he doesn’t know it shows him that that is a moment we pay attention and be quiet. He also looks forward to the end. If it is Father Vega giving the Mass he loves to wait for him at the foot of the isle and he extends his hand out to walk out with Father. He feels special and I wish more priests would do this. Maybe have all the kids rounded up in the altar after the final blessing and have them all walk out with him. (Just an idea)

He also gets to hold a small basket and say “please feed the needy”! At every doorway we have someone collecting money for our St. Vincent De Paul food pantry. He loves to get the money, thanks people, and the older parishioners love to go to him to give him their spare change or dollars. If we start to incorporate our kids early on then they are heading down the right track.

As a parent, we all have a right to enjoy the liturgy. The parishioners have a right to welcome families with small children and also have the patience, but parents also have the responsibility to remove themselves of situations that disrupt those around them.  We have to be mindful that those around us want to experience the liturgy without being taken out of it due to distractions.

All in all, don’t give up parents. keep trying! Patience!

-By: Alejandra