Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thoughts About Being Pregnant With Baby #2!

I'm officially 12 weeks pregnant!
Being pregnant a second time around is very exciting but a little frightening too!
Exciting for too many reasons, I mean, I think of a tiny little miracle in our arms, chubby legs, baby giggles, a sibling for Benny, a family of four…so, so amazing!
Although it wasn’t necessarily planned for me to get pregnant at this point in time, we’re ecstatic about baby number two and happy that the age gap between Benny and his sibling will only be three years.
I think about the kids being in school together and fighting each other and defending each other too and tons of laughs and adventures… the joys are endless.
It’s just the process of bringing this second child to the world that makes me a bit nervous.
First off, I’m going to be 35 years old when I give birth, which makes me an AMA (Advanced Maternal Age) woman.  This means I need genetic counseling since the risk of having birth complications or a child with birth defects increases after 35. Although I’m pretty positive about this whole aspect of it, I can’t help but wonder if everything will be ok.
Then I think about my short-lived but intense postpartum anxiety experience after having Benny and worry about a recurrence.
My husband and I decided a while back that due to our ages and for financial reasons, two children would be perfect for us, which means tubal ligation is something I’m also contemplating.
As far as how I’m feeling, I’ll just say this pregnancy is the exact opposite of how I felt the first time.
I’ve had virtually NO morning sickness whatsoever but I’ve been extremely tired and hungry.
In fact, I’ve been so hungry (and with no energy to exercise even lightly) that I’ve gained nearly 10 pounds in my first trimester!!! My OB-GYN isn’t concerned and says everything will balance out when I recover my energy during the next three months so I’m really hoping for that.
With Benny I was always sick and had no appetite but at least I had the energy to do stuff!
Nonetheless, we’re very positive and happy, keeping our faith in God and looking forward to this next chapter with a new baby at home.
I’ve also consulted with a placenta encapsulation specialist and plan on acquiring her service, which will hopefully help with my milk production and balancing those sneaky little hormones!
Most importantly, however, is the fact that whatever comes our way, we know we‘ll never be alone. My mom, sisters, aunts, cousins, in-laws and close friends have always been there for me.
This second baby experience is already proving to be very unique and I look forward to sharing more about the pregnancy as it continues advancing.
Thanks for reading & Happy Sunday!

Here's the little cutie at 10 weeks. It's little head is looking at the monitor and tiny arms are facing up too!

When we ask Benny what he'd rather have between a baby brother or baby sister, he responds "I want a brother"

En español

Este segundo embarazo es algo muy emocionante en mi vida que disfruto  mucho, pero con ciertas reservas (ya llevo tres meses de embarazo).
Emocionante por muchísimas razones, o sea, imagínense un pequeño milagrito en nuestros brazos, esas piernitas regordetas, las risitas de bebé, un hermanito/a para Benny, una familia de cuatro ... es que son tantas cosas lindas!
A pesar de que no estábamos planeando tener otro bebé en este momento, estamos felices y sobre todo porque la diferencia de edad entre Benny y su hermanito/a será de sólo tres años.
Pienso que los niños estarán en las mismas escuelas y que se pelearan pero también se defenderán y querrán mucho el uno al otro, que tendremos muchísimas risas y aventuras...en fin, las alegrías son infinitas.
Lo que me tiene un poco nerviosa es este proceso de traer un segundo hijo al mundo.
En primer lugar, voy tener 35 años de edad cuando dé a luz, lo que me hace una mujer de edad materna avanzada (AMA por sus siglas en inglés). Esto significa que necesito consejería sobre problemas genéticos ya que el riesgo de tener complicaciones durante el parto o tener niño con defectos aumenta después de los 35 años de edad. A pesar de que soy bastante optimista, no puedo evitar de pensar si todo saldrá bien.
Luego pienso en mi experiencia con los nervios y la ansiedad posparto que sufrí después de tener a Benny y me preocupo que me vuelva a suceder.
En cuanto a cómo me siento, les diré que este embarazo es exactamente lo contrario de lo que viví con el primero.
No he tenido ninguna náusea, pero sí he estado muy cansada y hambrienta.
De hecho, es tanta mi hambre (y sin energía para hacer ejercicio, incluso ejercicio ligero) que he aumentado casi 10 libras en mi primer trimestre. Mi ginecólogo dice no estar preocupado  y que todo se va a equilibrar cuando recupere mi energía durante los próximos tres meses, así que esperemos así sea.
Con Benny siempre me sentía enferma y sin apetito, pero al menos tenía la energía para hacer cosas!
Sin embargo, nos sentimos muy optimistas y felices, manteniendo nuestra fe en Dios y esperando con gusto este nuevo capítulo con un nuevo bebé en casa.
También he consultado con una especialista en encapsulación de la placenta y planeo adquirir sus servicios, que espero ayuden con mi producción de leche y el equilibrio de esas hormonas inquietas.
Lo más importante, sin embargo, es el hecho de que sea lo que venga, sabemos que nunca vamos a estar solos. Mi mamá, hermanas, tías, primas, suegros y amigas cercanas siempre han estado ahí para apoyarnos.
Esta experiencia del segundo bebé ya apunta a que será algo muy especial y espero compartir más información sobre mi embarazo, conforme siga avanzando.

¡Gracias por leer y que pasen un feliz domingo!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yogurt Pancakes with a Special Yogurt Topping!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #QuakerRealMedleys #CollectiveBias

I’m usually in a hurry, like most working mommies trying to juggle motherhood,  a career, a home, a husband and a social life! With all the running around, I don’t always have time to make my own most-important-meal-of-the-day.  So when I discovered the new Quaker® Real Medleys® Yogurt Cups  during a grocery shopping trip to WalMart, I became really curious. I love granola and I’m definitely a yogurt girl and the package indicated all I had to do was stir in cold milk…perfect!

Turns out, they’re a delicious blend of yogurt and multigrain granola with real fruit and crunchy nuts…yum! It is satisfying with 25 grams of whole grains and 10 grams of protein with 1/2 cup of cold Skim Milk. Such a great breakfast option!
Last weekend, WalMart stores around the country offered demos of Quaker Real Medleys and honestly, people who stopped by to try the product, loved it! It’s convenient - Simply add cold milk & stir :)

This is the first shelf-stable convergence of granola, fruit and yogurt – all in a single serve cup! But... you definitely have to mix with COLD milk, it won't activate with warm milk.

On weekends when I have the time to actually make breakfast, I like to experiment with pancakes (my family loves pancakes) It recently occurred to me to make yogurt pancakes and going with the “yogurt” theme, I figured I would use Quaker Real Medleys Yogurt Cups as a topping to my pancakes!

They actually turned out really, really good. The granola and yogurt blend is sweet and gooey enough to replace pancake syrup!
I’m sharing the recipe hoping you’ll try these at home.

Ingredients  (makes 10-12 pancakes)
·         2 cups flour
·         2 tablespoons sugar
·         2 teaspoons baking powder
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         2 eggs
·         2 cups plain yogurt
·         ¼ cup water
·         2 Bananas
·         1 cup Blueberries
·         3 Quaker Real Medleys granola & yogurt blend cups

Whisk the eggs, yogurt and water in a large bowl.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl . Stir into the other ingredients. Mix all ingredients together until the mix takes on the consistency of pancake batter. 

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle coated with butter (you can use cooking spray too). Turn when bubbles start forming on top. Remove from griddle when pancakes are golden brown.

Remember, on the days you don’t have the time to prepare a big breakfast meal, you can always enjoy a cup of Quaker Real Medleys, where all you have to do is just add cold milk, stir and eat! Crunchy. Cool. Yum.

Download the Blippar app from your Apple or Android store to scan your package and receive information tutorials on Quaker® Real Medleys® Yogurt Cups

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Spicy Summer Jalapeño Dogs...Mmmmm!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
#VivaLaMorena #CollectiveBias

In my Mexican culture, it’s rare to have a meal that doesn’t include chile (hot peppers). We love to put the hot stuff on EVERYTHING, including fruit and alcoholic beverages!
So it’s never surprising that in a city like Los Angeles, with a large Mexican/Mexican-American population, food vendors tend to include hot peppers on their menus.
In Downtown LA, for example, if you visit the Fashion district, you will undoubtedly try the famous street hot dogs, sold by Hispanic vendors and always inclusive of jalapeño peppers. My husband and I call them jalapeño dogs. At the Dodgers Stadium, these jalapeño dogs are super popular too because they’re sooooo delicious (and very spicy).
Basically, it’s a bacon wrapped hot dog, with ketchup, mustard, grilled onions, chopped tomatoes and plenty of jalapeños, of course.

I had wanted to make these at home for a while until I couldn’t resist my craving for a jalapeño dog and made a trip to Walmart. They’re the perfect summer recipe. They’re very easy to make and everyone will love them!
While at Walmart, I discovered La Morena products in the Hispanic Foods aisle. I immediately grabbed a couple of cans of La Morena whole & sliced jalapeño peppers because I really feel La Morena products add authentic Latino flavors to any traditional American BBQ dishes (like these hot dogs).

First of all, I must say that for my jalapeño dog recipe, jalapeños are truly a main ingredient.
Even though they seem like a simple garnish, the jalapeño flavor creates a delicately infused balance of flavors when combined with the onions and franks.

Ingredients (makes 6):
·         6 Franks
·         6 slices of Bacon
·         1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
·         1/3 cup cooking oil
·         1 can of La Morena sliced jalapeño peppers
·         1 cup chopped tomato
·         Sliced avocado
·         Hot dog buns
·         Ketchup
·         Mustard

Start by sautéing the onions on a large pan. Add about ½ cup of La Morena sliced jalapeños to the pan and pour the jalapeño juice from the can over the onions.
While the onions and jalapeños are frying, wrap the bacon around the franks and add them to the pan.

The key to making these Jalapeno Dogs is to pour the jalapeño juice from the can of La Morena Jalapeño peppers over the onions and franks!

It’s very common to see street vendors’ sauté everything at once. This is how the jalapeño flavor is infused with the onions, bacon and franks.
You’ll know when the franks are ready because the bacon will take on a crispy, brownish color and attach perfectly to the franks.

Once they’re done, you add all the accompaniments in the following order: ketchup, mustard, a good portion of jalapeño-infused grilled onions, avocado slices, tomato and last but not least—La Morena sliced jalapeños!

These jalapeño dogs are so good you’ll likely go for a second one but make sure you have a napkin nearby because the mix of grilled and spicy ingredients may get gooey and drip down your chin as you’re taking the next bite…Mmmm. Enjoy!

En español

En la cultura mexicana, es raro disfrutar una comida que no incluya chile. Nos encanta ponerle picante a todo, hasta en la fruta y las bebidas alcohólicas!
Así que ya era de esperarse que en una ciudad como Los Ángeles, con una gran población mexicana / mexico-americana, los vendedores de comida casi siempre incluyen algo con chile en sus menus.
En el centro de Los Ángeles, por ejemplo, si visita los famosos “callejones”, sin duda probará los famosos “Hot Dogs”, preparados por nuestra gente latina que siempre le pone chiles jalapeños. Mi marido y yo los llamamos los “Jalapeño Dogs”. En el estadio de los Dodgers, estos “Jalapeño Dogs” también son populares por lo increíblemente deliciosos (y muy picantes) que están.
Se trata de una salchicha con un pedazo de tocino envuelto y con catsup, mostaza, cebollas asadas, tomates picados y por supuesto, muchos jalapeños.
Había querido hacer estos “Jalapeño Dogs” en casa desde hace un tiempo hasta que no pude resistir el antojo e hice un viaje a Walmart. Es la receta ideal para una rica comida de verano. Son muy fáciles de hacer y todo el mundo se quedará con ganas de más!
En Walmart, descubrí que venden productos de La Morena en el pasillo de comidas latinas. Inmediatamente tomé un par de latas de chiles jalapeños curtidos de La Morena porque siento que estos productos verdaderamente le agregan un auténtico sabor latino a cualquier platillo tradicional americano (como estos Hot Dogs).
Para empezar, les diré que para esta receta los jalapeños son realmente un ingrediente principal.
A pesar de que parezcan un sencillo condimento, los jalapeño hacen una infusión de sabores cuando se combinan con la cebolla y las salchichas.

Ingredientes (para 6):
• 6 salchichas
• 6 rebanadas de tocino
• 1 cebolla amarilla grande, en rebanadas finas
• 1/3 taza de aceite de cocina
• 1 lata de La Morena en rodajas pimientos
• 1 taza de tomate picado
• 1 aguacate rebanado
• 6 panes para Hot Dogs
• Salsa de tomate (kétchup)
• Mostaza

Primero se pone la "ketchup" y mostaza y luego se agregan los demás ingredientes.

Para empezar, saltear la cebolla en una sartén grande. Agregar ½ taza de jalapeños rebanados La Morena a la sartén y vierta el jugo de jalapeño de la lata sobre las cebollas.
Mientras las cebollas y los jalapeños se están friendo, envuelva el tocino alrededor de las salchichas y añádalos a la sartén.
Es muy común que los vendedores ambulantes salteen todos los ingredientes a la vez. Así es como el sabor de los jalapeños se infunde con la cebolla, el tocino y las salchichas.
Usted sabrá cuando las salchichas están listas porque el tocino se verá frito y crujiente y se adjuntará perfectamente a las salchichas.
Una vez que haya terminado, se suman todos los acompañamientos en el siguiente orden: la salsa de tomate (kétchup), mostaza, cebolla, aguacate, tomate y por último los jalapeños rebanados marca La Morena!

Estos “Jalapeño Dogs” están tan ricos que quizá deseen comer otros dos, pero asegúrese de tener una servilleta a la mano porque la mezcla de ingredientes pueden chorrear un poco conforme vaya dando la  siguiente mordida ... Mmmm. ¡Que disfruten!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Adventures in Mexico with a Toddler (part 2)

Mexico City is my mom’s birthplace.
I’ve been there many times throughout my childhood but this one was probably the busiest trip ever.
First of all, we traveled there from Guadalajara to be a part of my little niece’s First Communion.
But since my aunt’s house was going to be so busy with tons of guests arriving for the celebration we didn’t want to add additional stress and decided to rent a hotel and explore the city on our own.
The challenge of course-- traveling with Benny. He proved to be a good little trooper considering we hardly stuck to a napping/mealtime schedule.
But Mexico City is so big and crowded and scary at times that my biggest concern always was making sure Benny was protected while enjoying the sights and views of places he’d never seen before.
The only problem is, the vibes from certain places (like the Mercado Sonora) were so chilling that all I could think of was—let’s get back to the hotel (we witnessed a lady get robbed)!
The traffic is insane… it would take us an hour to get to places that should’ve been 20 minutes away (not too different from L.A., I know but the driving culture in Mexico City is a rollercoaster of its own).
This is not to dissuade anyone from going… Mexico City is a colorful world of adventure with different sounds, smells and events at every corner, definitely worth a visit. For us, it was extra memorable because we met a newfound cousin (Dani Luna) who was our host, tour guide and driver!
What I am saying is that I got a perfect dose of Mexico City, good enough to last me several years before I plan another visit. Here are a few pictures of our adventures in the city.
Thanks for reading!

Our hotel was located near "El Angel" a symbolic tower in Mexico City built in 1910 that stands with a gold angel on top representing the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence. 

Here we enjoyed a colorful water fountain display where Benny wanted to join the other kids and splash in the water. This was at the Revolution monument, near "El Angel", where dozens of demonstrators are camping out, protesting against the Mexican government.

We visited Mexico City's Basilica, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. The basilica is situated in the same place believed to have been the site where the Virgin appeared on the cloak of a native indian named Juan Diego. Pictured above is the cloak, which has been preserved for hundreds of years. 

My sister Irene tries to explain to my inquisitive toddler the significance of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.

Later we visited Mexico City's Anthropology Museum

And enjoyed a refreshing snack!

We also visited Coyoacan, where Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera's home is located!

On our final weekend, we celebrated my niece's first communion. Here, a mischievous Benny stands outside the church wearing a "manta" outfit. Manta is a type of  cotton fabric made popular in Mexico! 

Here's my niece who asked me to be her godmother (so sweet!).

At the First Communion celebration, the party went on till the wee hours of the night. At one point, they brought out the "toritos" or bulls, used for a special dance!

En español

La Ciudad de México es la ciudad natal de mi mamá.
He visitado el Distrito Federal muchas veces pero éste viaje fue quizá el más cansado de todos.
En primer lugar, llegamos en autobús desde Guadalajara para acompañar a mi pequeña sobrina en su Primera Comunión (yo fui la madrina).
Pero como la casa de mi tía iba a estar llena de huéspedes que llegaron de todas partes para la celebración, decidimos alquilar un hotel y explorar la ciudad por cuenta propia.
El reto por supuesto, fue de andar tras de Benny a todas horas. Mi niño demostró ser un buen pasajero, considerando que jamás logré tenerlo apegado a un horario de siesta o comida.
En fin, la ciudad de México es tan grande y llena de gente y personalidades que mi mayor preocupación fue siempre de asegurar que Benny estuviera protegido mientras disfrutaba de lugares que nunca había visto antes.
El único problema es que la vibra de ciertos lugares (como el Mercado Sonora) era tan pesada que lo único que venía a la mente era el deseo de regresar al hotel inmediatamente (fuimos testigos de un asalto a una mujer que iba al mercado)!
El tráfico es una locura ... tardábamos una hora para llegar a lugares que quedaban a 20 minutos de distancia (no muy diferente a Los Ángeles, lo sé, pero la cultura de conducción en la ciudad de México es una experiencia como de montaña rusa).
Esto no es para disuadir a nadie de visitar el D.F. La Ciudad de México es un colorido mundo de aventuras con diferentes sonidos, olores y eventos en cada esquina, que definitivamente ameritan una visita. Para nosotros el viaje quedará entre los mejores recuerdos, especialmente porque nuestra nueva prima Dani fue una excelente anfitriona, guía turística y conductora!!
Lo que sí estoy pensando es que por lo pronto, este viaje fue una dosis perfecta como para durarme varios años antes de planear otra visita la Ciudad de México. Aquí les comparto algunas fotos de nuestras aventuras en la ciudad.

¡Gracias por leer!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Adventures in Mexico with a Toddler (part 1)

Traveling to Guadalajara with Benny was easier than I thought.
But that's only because I was with a large group of relatives (including my parents and both of my sissies) who helped me TREMENDOUSLY with carrying, entertaining, distracting and playing with him.
Pushing Benny's stroller in downtown Guadalajara (where we stayed) was a whole other challenge in itself since there are very few stroller/handicap accessible ramps to walk up the many historic sites, which were mainly built in the 1500s.
The city of Guadalajara though, is pretty charming.
I hadn't been there since 2008 but it felt like not many things had changed.
Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, which is my dad's birth state. 
It's the birthplace of Mariachi and Tequila and the land of "birria"-- the delicious Mexican dish, made with goat meat & adobo spices, often served in a stew...So delicious!
The first part of our Mexican voyage was spent in Jalisco.
We planned it that way in order to attend our annual family reunion from my paternal grandmother's side of the family, the Jara family.
We spent our first four days in Jalisco enjoying family time and exploring Guadalajara and neighboring towns...and then we headed off to Mexico City to spend time with my mom's side of the family (more on that tomorrow).
Here are some pictures of our time in Jalisco.
Thanks for reading!

An all-female Mariachi band greets patrons at a restaurant near Guadalajara.

The Guadalajara Catholic Cathedral is considered by many, one of Mexico's most beautiful structures.

A local vendor quickly approaches Benny to see if he's interested in a "Farting Flea" or Pulga Pedorra, a balloon-type toy with a whistle, sold for about fifty cents each,
Once Benny selects his colors, the vendor does a demonstration. He's on Youtube if you want to check him out, just type "pulga pedorra"...LOL!

Near Guadalajara is the town of Tonala...a wonderful little shopper's paradise with hundreds of vendors, selling the most amazing items, knick knacks and Mexican crafts you could ever imagine.

One of my faves was a store in downtown Tonala that focuses on products for Dia de los Muertos.

Local artisans were my biggest weakness while shopping near Guadalajara! Who could ever resist these cuties??

A popular dessert in Guadalajara is "nieve de garrafa" or barrel ice cream. We enjoyed plenty of it and posed for a pic with a statue of "El Chavo del Ocho", one of Mexico's most famous TV characters.

Benny loved hanging out in Tonala, especially if it meant, stepping out of his stroller to enjoy the freedom of running around and tasting refreshing treats like this cucumber slice with lemon juice!

During our trip, we visited the home/ranch of Vicente Fernandez, one of Mexico's most beloved musicians. His ranch is named "Los 3 Potrillos" or The Three Foals after his three sons.

At the musician's home, we were allowed to check out his guitar-shaped swimming pool...

And his amazing horse stables, which Benny absolutely loved!

Then we traveled to Lake Chapala...once the principal water source for Guadalajara.

Local artisans in the town of Tlaquepaque weave colorful bags. The ladies told me it takes an entire day to complete a large bag.
Here, Benny chose a few flower-shaped gits to take home to grandma,

En español

Viajar a Guadalajara con Benny fue más fácil de lo que imaginé.
Pero eso se debió a que iba con un grupo grande de familiares (incluyendo mis padres y mis dos hermanas) que me ayudaron enormemente con transportar, entretener, distraer y jugar con él.
Para empujar el cochecito de Benny en el centro de Guadalajara (donde nos alojamos) fue otro reto en sí mismo, ya que hay muy pocas rampas accesibles para subir a los muchos sitios históricos, que fueron construidos principalmente en los años 1500.
La ciudad de Guadalajara, sin embargo, es bastante encantadora.
No había estado allí desde 2008, pero sentí que no mucho había cambiado.
Guadalajara es la capital del estado de Jalisco, que es el estado donde nació mi papá.
Es la cuna del Mariachi y el Tequila y la tierra de la "birria" - el delicioso platillo mexicano, hecho con carne de chivo y especies, comúnmente servido en caldo... Es delicioso!
La primera parte de nuestro viaje a México estuvimos en Jalisco.
Lo planeamos de esa manera con el fin de asistir a nuestra reunión anual de la familia Jara, de mi abuela paterna.
Pasamos los primeros cuatro días en Jalisco disfrutando de tiempo con la familia y la explorando Guadalajara y pueblos vecinos ... y luego nos dirigimos a la ciudad de México para visitar la familia de mi mamá (más sobre esto mañana).
Aquí hay algunas fotos de nuestras experiencias en Jalisco.

¡Gracias por leer!