Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Little Things

Last night Evanna brought me to tears. The kind that come from such a deep part of your heart because it was touched with love. Being a stay-at-home mom, I am very rarely away from her and sometimes I wonder if she even notices when I'm gone because she absolutely loves socializing with other people. Well, last night I went to a ladies Bible group and left Evanna with Zach for only a few hours. I was expecting her to be asleep in bed by the time I got home and was somewhat displeased when I saw her still awake being rocked by Zach. That displeasure was soon turned completely around. When she caught sight of me the biggest smile spread across her face as she immediately reached out for me. This never happens so it was even more surprising when she wrapped her little arms around my neck and pulled me close. She also kept resting her head on my shoulder in between giving me big slobbery kisses. I didn't even know she was capable of showing such affection. The memory that was created in that moment will forever be ingrained on my heart.

On another note, Zach has completed his interview and physical fitness test for CBP. It will take at least a month to know how he did so now it's just a waiting game to find out if he passed everything. If he passes then we will have to wait for the background check and then an official offer. There is no telling how long all of this will take so we are just positioning our hearts to be willing to be obedient to whatever God opens. We do however have a very good feeling about it and I personally cannot see any reason why he would not be hired.

My little girl at almost 2 weeks old

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Time is such a funny thing, it goes so fast it seems to just slip through your fingers and yet in goes so slow making you feel as if things will never change. My goal was to post at least once a week and I did a pretty good job for about a month and then time just got away from me. Zach and I were hoping to find a new apartment or a house to rent but in the end where we are is where we are meant to be so a lot of time was wasted searching like mad. I was able to spend two weeks in GA with my family when my sister went into labor early which is so crazy because it seems like just yesterday she was announcing her pregnancy. Now I have been home for almost 3 weeks and it seems like I am still trying to get back into the swing of things. Time seriously feels like it speeds up and slows down. Our newest development has to do with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Zach applied to be a CBP officer about a year ago and we just got an e-mail letting us know that he has been tentatively selected for the North East region and is now following the process of being interviewed, passing a medical exam, and a physical fitness test. Once he completes those steps, which will be by the end of this month, they will start a background check that will take quite a few months. It has taken all this time just to hear something and now in just a matter of months we could be facing a huge move up into the New England area. God's timing is so interesting it takes a lot of patience but it also takes a willingness to trust at a moments notice. Well, just thought I would share real quick about what has been going on in our lives. I hope to be more consistent and will definitely be updating any further developments.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


With everything in life there is always a taste of challenge. Whether life seems to be in a never ending season of Winter or if the wind is in your sails gliding you along on friendly waters, there is always something to learn. Somehow God uses every experience, situation, or season to chisel out some unsightly character flaw, making you into His beautiful masterpiece. Being a stay-at-home mom has brought every kind of challenge on so many different levels. Physically I am sleep deprived, I am unmotivated mentally, emotionally I am all over the place feeling so much joy but also feeling a sense of loss in my own identity, and as far as the relational goes it has been a struggle balancing marriage and parenthood.

These are only the challenges though, there are so many tiny and tender joys that come with being a mother that far outweigh anything else. The difficulties are meant to be overcome and as a result your hard work bears fruit and beauty. I have discovered what is needed to climb the walls you face as a stay-at-home mom and it is called INSPIRATION.

I thought this post would be appropriate for today as it is the first day of Spring. One of the most beautiful and, not to mention, inspirational seasons, Spring is filled with wonder and opportunity. In order to be at home all day with my little monkey it is necessary to find those little things that feed the spirit. First, I had to turn the TV off and turn some music on then I started stimulating my mind by reading. Nothing fictional but something that helps to develop myself. Right now I'm reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason and I'm about to start reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I cannot tell you how much just awakening my mind brings so much more joy and energy to my day. I get so many ideas and it motivates me to try new things or simply reminds me of what I already knew and I find myself encouraged.

So the answer to whatever challenge you are facing is, I believe, to find a little inspiration. Whether you find it in a book, a good song, in nature, or receiving a smile from a stranger as you pass them by. Inspiration comes in many forms and I am so thankful that it does! I'm looking forward to what this Spring season has in store for my little dandelion family. Maybe, just maybe, we will find ourselves in the wind of His breath yet again and our little seed globe will be planted and grow some roots.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homemade Baby Food!

Zach and I are the kind of people who love to find different ways to save money, partly because we have had to live pay check to pay check really pinching those pennies and partly because we enjoy the simple life. We like to call it being "thrifty" or "creative" where necessity really is the mother of invention. For instance, we love shopping at Aldi, using cloth diapers, and making our own baby food. It just so happens that most of these things have a plus side like being eco friendly or just being healthier. When it came time to start Evanna on solids I found a website that has been like my best friend.

I started doing solids with Evanna when she was a little over 4 months old. Pediatricians say somewhere between 4-6 months but 6 months is the typical recommendation. I started somewhat early with Evanna because she had already cut two bottom teeth and had been trying to get our food while sitting at the dinner table since 3 months old. I decided to give it a try with just a regular Banana that I mashed up with a fork and she ate it like a pro.


I think Bananas are one of my favorite things to do for Evanna because they are really simple. They are easy to tell when ripe, you don't have to cook them, and you can just smash them by hand. One of the more time consuming fruits to make is pear. I don't have all the pictures from making them because I apparently got distracted while taking care of my little girl but I do have some. First I had to peel them, then I cut them in half to expose the pit, and after taking the pit out I cut the pear into little cubes. While I was doing this I was heating up some water so I could steam them.

 I do have a steaming  gadget for my rice cooker that I could have used if I would have taken the time to actually find it but to save myself the trouble I just boiled some water in a big pot and used my colander which I covered with the lid to the pot. It worked great! It only took about 10 mins and they were nice and tender. I then pureed them in my food processor. They were naturally watery so I didn't even have to add anything to loosen it. I only did two pears and got 5 jars full and boy does she love em!!

 Probably the most difficult thing I encountered was the Butternut Squash but since it was so big and gave me about 15 jars it was worth it. First I had to cut the booger in half which was not an easy task because the shell is hard but I have to admit I felt pretty good about myself after I conquered it.

 After spooning out the seeds all I had to do was lay them flesh side down into a pan filled with 1 in of water and then put them in the oven for about 45 mins at 400 degrees. Once they were done they looked like this:

 The shell was nice and puckered so it peeled right off and the fork went right into the flesh nice and smooth. Once I was done peeling it I just cubed it up ran it through the food processor and voila! Evanna had fresh Squash to eat.

I seriously had fun doing the Avocados but since little Evanna does not like them I probably won't be doing them again. I don't mind too much though because they are a little difficult to gauge when ripe. At least I found it a little challenging but I had never worked with them before either. Once they were just the right amount of squishy and dark I cut them in half so I could take the pit out.

  From there it was easy as pie. I just used a spoon to scoop it out of the shell and then used a fork to mash it up. From just one I think I got about 3-4 jars and at 45 cents/avocado (at Aldi) that makes each jar 11-15 cents. Now that's what I call thrifty!

 Peaches were pretty simple. I could have made them a number of different ways but I decided to do them how I did the squash, that way I could just put them in the oven, set the timer, and do other things such as playing with my little love bug or doing unpleasant things like laundry. Once I cut the peaches in half, took out the pit, and spooned out some of the leftover seeds I just put them in a pan filled with 1 in of water. After 45 mins in a 400 degree oven the skin was puckered and they were done.

I could have put them in the food processor. I suppose it would have been faster but I really didn't feel like getting it out plus I like for there to be a few little chunks so Evanna can learn how to chew a bit. So, I just used a fork to mash them after I peeled off the skin. It was super easy and made 4 jars out of 2 peaches. When she tried them though, her reaction was priceless. Most of everything that has been put in her mouth has not even phased her but with the peach she wrinkled her nose and eyebrows, puckered her lips, and even twitched her head in dislike. I tasted it just to see and they were a little sour but I guess that is the chance you take when getting fresh fruit. I think I will try mixing it with some banana though and see if she likes it better.

I don't have pictures from making the sweet potatoes but I do have a video of her eating some. Again, I like to make them in the oven so I can just stick them in and not have to do anything with it until the timer goes off. They are pretty easy which is good because it is one of her favorites. (Take notice that Dad is feeding her, hence the large bites. She does actually like it that way though lol)

That is all I have for now but I am going to be expanding her diet soon since she will be 6 months old next week. As for storing the food I just put them in glass jars and then put them into the freezer. I'm sure there are ways to actually jar it and seal it but for now I find this to be easy enough. I just set out the food I want her to have in the morning and it is thawed by lunch and dinner time. I hope you have enjoyed reading and that it inspires you to try making your own homemade baby food!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Giving birth to Evanna is something that I will never forget. It is one of those life experiences that changes everything even parts of who you are. From the moment you conceive you start sacrificing for this little life inside you. Priorities change without even having to make the conscious decision. You find yourself protecting and loving this little person by sheer instinct. All this in only the first few short weeks and then as the baby starts to grow so do all these new emotions until finally they are ready to materialize.

My mom had two weeks that she could take to spend with us when it came time to have Evanna. She was originally going to come when I went into labor and then stay to help me with the baby but as the time came closer and closer I could not stand the anticipation and needed someone to come keep me company while Zach was at work. I also was somewhat scared to go into labor while at home all on my own, so I was very happy when my mom decided to come the week before I was due. We had so much fun going to the beach, walking/shopping Miracle Mile, and more walking at the mall along with some pedicures. She came on Sunday September 16th and according to the ultrasound I was due the next Sunday on September 23rd. On Thursday I woke up after a rough night VERY "hormonal" as Zach likes to call it when he is really trying to say "irrationally upset and feeling every emotion all at once" or "just plain mean." I had finally reached that point that everyone talks about where you are so done being pregnant you don't care what it takes you just want to get the baby out! That night I decided it was time to try more than just walking and eating eggplant Parmesan, it was time to try the Castor Oil Root Beer Float a friend of mine had told me about. I will spare you the details but just know a little Castor Oil goes a LONNNNGG way. Needless to say I spent the whole night making mad dashes to the bathroom but along with all this I experienced my first real contraction and by 6am I was having them every 8mins for 30-40 secs.

My puffy feet after our pedicures
Of course I was tired from the night before and really from the whole last week if not month of not sleeping well so I tried resting and even took a nap around 10am and by the afternoon the contractions had tapered off although I had started spotting some. Meanwhile we updated all the family and my two sisters decided to travel down from Georgia as well as my dad. When Zach got home from work around 4pm we went to the airport to pick up one of my sisters and the contractions decided to follow suit and picked up as well. All evening I was having them about every 8mins lasting sometimes for 60 secs. My midwife was actually delivering another baby and told me it would be good if things didn't progress too fast and I guess Evanna agreed because it wasn't until about 4am until I hit active labor, just after my other sister and my dad had gotten in from their 12hr drive.

I laugh at myself now because during all of this, which is what they call Prelabor, I thought I must be about 4cm dilated I mean I had been at this all day and most of the night by now and the contractions seemed to be pretty intense but I had no clue of what laid ahead. The Midwife and her student arrived at our house around 4:30 am and checked me right away to find that I was only 2 and 1/2 cm dilated. To say it bluntly I was seriously bummed but I rallied my spirits and tried to determine myself for a long road ahead. No one can ever prepare you for what labor actually feels like, looking back there were definitely some good glimpses people gave me but experiencing it for yourself is a whole different level. I tried to take my Midwife's advice and lay down to rest but apparently my water had broken during this time and the contractions grew more intense and I seriously could not stay laying down. I wanted to chew my midwife out for even suggesting it but  I couldn't really talk because I was just a little busy. This is how I spent the majority of the time:

On the side of the bed swaying back and forth during contractions and then laying my head down on the pillows to rest in between. Evanna's head was so far down that she was putting a lot of pressure on my cervix causing me to dilate very slowly. I really had to start focusing on my breathing and riding the contractions like a wave letting it gradually hit me and then tapering off so that my body would open like it needed to. This is a picture of me using my hand to keep rhythm with my breathing and visualizing the pain coming in and going out like the tide.

I didn't reach this point of surrender until I had been checked sometime in the afternoon to find I was only 5cm dilated. I have no idea what time it was exactly because at this point I had no concept of it. I was in this place that was so far inside myself yet almost like an out of body experience. All I can say is you reach this point where its just you and your baby and, well, the contractions. I didn't start this until after hearing I was only 5cm and I was sure I couldn't continue. I thought to myself "I'm only half way there, there is no way I make it that long. They are just going to have to cut this baby out of me." I even said it out loud that I didn't think I could do this and the student Midwife thought I meant I couldn't continue laying down like I was so she got me up and I tried being in the bath tub where I started praying.

This is how I finally surrendered and believe it or not the rest of labor, although it got even more intense, felt somehow easier in a way. When I hit transition which is somewhere between 7-10cm it was like non-stop and then my Midwife tells me when I'm at 9cm that I need to start whisper breathing because the harder breathing was using some of my abs and pushing Evanna even further down causing me not to open. I want to say this lasted about 30-60mins and was seriously one of the hardest things I have done other than trying not to bear down because of all the pressure I was feeling (which sitting on the toilet helped a lot. I actually was able to sleep between contractions while sitting on my now very cherished porcelain throne), and then finally pushing her out. At one point I felt my body open and I got this adrenaline rush just knowing that I was getting closer to seeing my baby and that the majority of it was over. My first urge to push was like nothing I had ever expected. Out of nowhere my body just pushed and I found myself holding onto the side of the bed squatting and yelling out the most primal sound I've ever heard myself make.

I spent the first 30mins of pushing squatting on the side of the bed. It was around 8:30pm so I had already been in labor for over 30hrs and was seriously exhausted so I couldn't do the whole squatting thing anymore and moved up onto the bed.

Both Zach and my sister Joy helping me while pushing

It took 30 more mins but after everyone encouraging me "just one more push" I got her head out and the rest of her just came right on out as well. There I was with my little girl in my arms watching her just stare up at me. It was the most surreal moment and the most beautiful. Through all the time I waited for her to grow inside me and then through all the pain came this beautiful little treasure and I couldn't help but feel that I would do it all over again if I had to just to have her in my life. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her. She is worth every minute of the 36 exhausting hours it took me to bring her into this world.

Having a home birth was amazing. I can't compare it to anything else since this was my first but I loved having the freedom to do practically whatever I wanted. I was able to eat and drink through the whole thing to keep up my energy although I found it hard to do so even though I was starving. I got in and out of the bath twice. I was also able to feel for Evanna's head as she was crowning and I actually, without realizing it, reached my hand down when I felt her coming out and pulled her up onto my chest. The whole birthing experience is beautiful and I'm so glad I got to do it in the comfort of my own home surrounded by those I love. I will cherish these memories forever and I am so excited to do it again when that time comes :)

Zach cutting the cord

Proud Daddy

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Years Is Much Too Long!!!

I CANNOT believe it has been almost two whole years since I have written!!! So much has happened I don't even know where to start to catch you up. I guess I left off talking about transitioning seasons and I am yet again in the midst of figuring out this chapter I have found myself in. To get you up to speed, I worked for  Chick-fil-a for the past two years. To be honest I never thought I would have worked there as long I did but it was such a growing experience. I became a Team Leader there which is basically an Assistant Manager in October of 2011 and boy was I in for a challenge. I am not much of a confrontational person and sometimes I have a hard time making sure my voice is heard but by the end of August 2012 (which is when I quit working) I had grown so much and I can say my voice is much stronger mostly due to one of my Managers who I am so thankful for. My job was such a huge blessing but the true treasure was and is Victor and Zuny, the owners and my prior boss. They helped Zach and me provide for our little family in a time that we needed it the most. January 2012 brought some of the happiest news Zach and I have ever received. We were PREGNANT!! We received so much spiritual, emotional, and financial support from Victor and Zuny they have officially become like family in our book. I guess in hind sight it makes complete sense why God placed me there. He knew what laid ahead and knew that we would need people in our lives that would truly be His hands and feet.

OK, so that covers my journey at Chick-fil-a, in a nut shell anyway. Lets move on to seriously one of the most amazing and exciting experiences I have ever had, being pregnant with and giving birth to our precious daughter Evanna Rose Oliva. As far as the pregnancy went I don't think it could have gone any smoother. I worked all the way up until 4 weeks before having her, partly because I wanted to and partly because I had to. Zach and I were both working at CFA just to make ends meet and we were really trusting God that He would do something to provide us once we had her. Three weeks before I gave birth Zach started his job at Expeditors which is a logistics company handling imports and exports. It just so happens that he makes enough there that I can stay at home with Evanna, which is what God knows I prayed so fervently for. We had a home birth with our wonderful Midwife which I will have to devote a whole post towards so you can get the whole story but for now just know that it was one of the most beautiful things I have lived through.

So here we are, its the beginning of 2013 and I am embarking on this new adventure of being a stay at home mom. There are so many joys and so many challenges I can't help but want to share as well as document what we find around each corner and I promise I will be more diligent in posting because two years is much too long!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011


There is so much going on in the world today that we are completely unaware of. So much is hidden from us here in America. All of this is going on right under our noses, in our very own backyards and what are we doing about it? Nothing. We grow up hearing in church how important it is to live according to the Bible and lead lives of purity and told that it is all for our own good but never truly understand why. Without an understanding of why, how can we as Christians resist the culture of humanism in which we live. Humanism has created a generation of self-centered, lazy, and uneducated Americans who live only for their present pleasure and convenience thinking that it is their right to be happy no matter the cost. Well the cost is high. We have a hand in this slavery, we feed it thinking all along that its not really that bad to watch certain movies or shows or listen to music that is all about sex. We are feeding this sex industry and the lust of men and all the while calling it good fun. Human Trafficking is a business and cannot survive if there is no demand but we seem to insist that it is our right to feed this demand for our own "innocent" pleasure. There is a purpose to living a life of purity and that purpose is to live in the freedom of Christ and put a stop to the spiritual and physical bondage that the opposite most inevitably brings. Hopefully this puts things in perspective and helps shed light on just how important your decisions are and the consequences that come as a result. Will you fight with me to end slavery and choose to lead lives full of freedom and light that don't bow to humanism, the great lie of our age?