Saturday, September 24, 2016

TK Portrait And Turning 5!

Last day of four years old. Last day of toddler. We are officially about to embark on our next phase of girlhood. !!. How did we get here??

These past 5 years have absolutely flown by. Particularly this last one with both kids together.

I recently posted M's graduation photos from earlier this spring. Fast forward, one summer later, and here we are.

Thought she looked so mature those few short months back then, and having the same genuine sentiments once again.

Love this kid with all my heart and so very excited to continue on this adventure with her, watching her continue to grow and be amazing. xo

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Winning The Lottery

What would you do if you won the lottery?

It's a fun question to ponder, which can help you pinpoint your goals and actually reveal what you're thankful for.

I'd always dreamed of living bicoastal, so would probably make NYC home again. But as for where we are now, I'm actually not sure I'd change it. While property of our own would be nice, sharing a living space with several other young families and having near-daily impromptu play dates and good friends next door is kind of a luxury at this stage. Plus, we love school this year.

Of course I'd take the kids to Disneyland. 😅

I'd get a laptop (because mine is dying) and cross GoPro off the wishlist for our water adventures. 🙄

Other than that, for myself, I think I'd try to start a company. 

What's fun to think about is that most, if not all, of these things are not unattainable. Maybe living bicoastal irl wouldn't make the most sense but visits there more often (or at all), a reasonable possibility.

What would you do if you won the lottery? And what do you realize you're thankful for? xo

Monday, September 5, 2016

Preschool Graduation Pictures!

Finally got these photos this summer. Her preschool did something a little backwards and postponed the originally scheduled photoshoot from the beginning of the year to the end of it.

I wasn't intending to buy these photos but when I saw them I couldn't resist. What can I say? I'm a sucker for photos.

She just looked so mature and grown up. I know, I know. The tritest thing a mom can say.

Now, just months later, I have previews of her photos for this school year and I am just wowed. W-O-W-ed. Can't wait to get those. Until then, will just have to feast my eyes on these :> xo

Totally her in that phase— that necklace and My Little Pony bracelets. She wore them

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Michelena Graduates Preschool! [MOMLIFE]

Is this really happening? 

Honestly, having a hard time grappling with this moment. She's 4 but feels like she's going on 14. Her preschool days are over and I think I'm supposed to be crying right now but you know when things happen so fast it takes a while before it hits you? This is one of those moments and it still hasn't hit me.

This was honestly a rough day. She was excited for this event, as she's excited for all school-related events, but came to the sudden realization during the performance, when her best friends were missing, that this year is coming to an end as is her daily life with those best friends not graduating along with her. Instead, she's forced to sit among another class, singing strange songs she's been prepping to sing only in the last few weeks or so.

A day later, now looking back, I realize how odd and strange this setup was for the kids in her class who were moving to higher level schools. Had I known the effect, I honestly wouldn't have brought her. 

Transition is tough. And the lesson I learned this weekend is change might be harder going forward as she grows older, more aware, and more attached.

Nonetheless, we got through it. I continually remind her how much I love her, how valuable our family is, that we are a team and will always stick together. Because that is what families do. Amongst all the change that surrounds them, those that are true to each other will always move through change together, as a unit, as a team. 

Another day, another milestone, and How proud I am of her and how far she's come.

For memory: She can spell her name backwards and simple words forward :> She can read level 2 books and can do simple arithmetic. She can identify Google cars on the road and can run, skip, and hop. She can listen in on and interject in adult conversation, and even understands some Chinese though her accent is just as horrendous as mine. Her humor is impeccable and she loves playing with her friends. She loves play doh, legos, and monopoly. Killer smile, huge heart, love of technology and toys. xo

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Homemade Dinner Baby Food! [FOOD, MOMLIFE]


Purée the first four ingredients in a blender sparingly with milk. Add milk little by little until smooth.

Baby loved this! I got a small, personal-cup-sized blender this weekend and baby will be eating what we eat (as often as I can), going forward.

This made about 1 cup of food and she ate almost all of it. Super impressed. She's growing. So fast that I'm hoping this will stick in her belly to make it through the night :> xo

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sheryl Sandberg, Life, Survival, And Achievement

'You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.'

It's a good thing I didn't read Lean In because I'm not upset by what Sandberg did or did not say in that book and how she's changed her tune since.

We have to remember we are all human. No individual knows everything and no individual is without flaws, including leaders of large corporations. So she's learned a lesson and changed her mind, albeit the hard way, through loss of a loved one. Forgive her. Like the rest of us, she's still learning and growing.

That said, I love the above quote, which she said in her speech at UC Berkeley's recent commencement. Sharing her vulnerability humanizes the thoughtful leader and inspires others with her influence.

Surviving difficult situations or circumstances alone is an unrecognized achievement in and of itself that all too many of us, myself included, overlook.

As a survivor, I am reminded once again to not overlook the things I have overcome and ultimately achieved, though unrecognized through classic conventions of what successful means.

To be human is to struggle. To overcome struggle is to achieve. xo

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Return-To-Work Mama [MOMLIFE]

I'll be a return-to-work mama this week and this is my look in anticipation of my newly minted status: a combination of excitement and nervousness. 

I was sharing these sentiments when all of sudden, from the other room, my toddler yells back: Why are you nervous? 

The things they hear and pick up on. smh. :>

There's always some level of uneasiness when you start something new, like a new job, isn't there? And it's particularly tough when you've been away for a while to have and/or care for your family.

I have an incredible amount of love and support for moms trying to get back into the workforce, and would like to see more opportunity and resources for this population. Because it's not that we don't care about career growth and making great contributions, but there are times when we're needed more critically at home. 

I'm excited to put my ideas and skills to work for the greater good-- heck, guys, working hard for this moment to say it in a post!-- but (initially) just a tad nervous about all the change that's about to come. Without change, though, there would be no butterflies. xo

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Beauty Of Showers [MOMLIFE]

2%: Washing
8%: Singing
30%: Reflecting
60%: Planning

Love showers. They help you rinse off the dirt from the day, disconnect and give you a moment to both reflect and think about your plan of action going forward.

A clean and fresh bundle of baby ain't too bad for instant gratification either :> xo

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Homemade Philly Cheesesteak [RECIPE]

Dinner is always a challenge. Not the actual cooking of it but concepting what to cook.

Baked chicken, steak, pasta, tacos, and baby back ribs are some of our go-to's. 

We had chicken and pasta the night before so didn't want either tonight. Beef was the likely option and, as much as I love a good steak, I wanted to try something different, so I took a little more time to browse what Trader Joes had on their shelves. 

Near the salads, they have fully cooked, heat-and-eat meals, like chicken piccata, turkey and mashed potatoes, and beef stroganoff. Been there, done that, and don't want to again.

Further down, next to the raw meat, they have fully cooked meat, like the above-mentioned baby back ribs we like and some uncooked seasoned and unseasoned meats in vacuum-packed packaging.

An unseasoned, uncooked, thinly sliced, vacuum-packed sirloin beef caught my eye. On the front of the packaging it said it was good for tacos, cheesesteaks, and Korean barbecue.

I wanted a philly steak the night before when we did takeout but my 4yo wanted our usual, her favorite, chicken piccata so we had that instead. 

So, tonight, it was my turn and I decided to try this thinly sliced beef and make a philly cheesesteak of my own. 

To keep it simple, I just got a green bell pepper and a baguette. If I wanted to put a little more effort into it, I would have included sliced crimini mushrooms for depth and some onions for flavor.

For cheese, I used sliced havarti, since that's what we have at home. Mozzarella or provolone would be just as good.

The recipe is super simple, fast, and great for novice and seasoned cooks alike. Tag me (@mdesenna) if you try this! xo

- Beef, very thinly sliced, patted dry
- Bell pepper (any color), julienned
- Cheese, sliced, havarti 
- Bread, slightly toasted
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking oil

1. Heat oil in pan and add peppers. Toss and coat with oil. Cook until slightly softened.

2. Push peppers to edges and add a little more oil to pan. Let the pan heat up again-- you want it to be hot.

3. Add beef. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Break up the beef so it's getting as much surface-area contact with the hot pan but do not stirfry it-- you want to get it to brown/caramelize a little, which it will if it stays in continuous contact with the hot pan.
4. Once brown on one side, flip it over and turn off the heat. The pan will still be hot and this prevent the beef from being overcooked. Now is the time to mix the beef with the peppers. 

5. Add sliced cheese on top and cover pan partially with lid to help the cheese melt. Once melted, add mixture to bread and enjoy!

Happy healthy juicy homemade cheesesteak! xo

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baby Turns 7 Months Old! [MOMLIFE]

'Mama, I love our baby!', she came into my room exclaiming.

'You do?', I asked, only because she once said in the past she didn't want a baby because her best friend at school didn't have one. I knew she didn't mean it but it still stung a little.

So to hear this without prompting filled my heart with such happy.

I know my kids won't always be satisfied with the family I made but you know I will try my best to get them on this unconventional bandwagon of love I created and so very much believe in.

My oldest proceeded with, 'Happy Birthday, Baby!', and snuggled in close to her.

Today, baby turns 7 months old!

Men Love Mystery [BEAUTY]

Being in the Valley makes you want to do the Valley.

Amongst jobs, I applied and interviewed for a web development (programming) program and have been accepted. I'm not going quite yet, as they have yet to announce the scholarship recipients later this year.

Whether or not I go, though, affirms I at least might have the potential to one day be a great programmer, right? Yeah, right. 

I've fallen in love with this lipstick. It's called Men Love Mystery-- useful to know if I'm looking to start an all-male book club (which I'm not). :> Still a pretty color, though. 

There's a lot of beauty in this world. It'd be lovely if I could build something and add to it. xo

Lipstick: MAC Cosmetics, Men Love Mystery

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lazy Tacos Packed With Flavor [FOOD]

Lazy tacos. And by lazy I mean no taco shells (or all the fixings).

I don't always understand tacos. At least not the kind with a crispy shell, which I prefer. They break the second you take a bite or, even worse, when you fill them. And there you have a mess in your hands.

So, instead, and also as a quick alternative, I just use chips instead. I think they taste better, too, as there are so many different kinds to choose from these days. Tostitos Cantina Style is my favorite.

If you're looking for something a little quicker, I also recommend just prepping/cooking key, high flavor ingredients for the filling. This is completely customizable. Choose the ingredients YOU love. That's the beauty of cooking at home.

And if you're looking to add more vegetables in your diet, turn this into a salad. This plate over chopped romaine tossed in a citrus vinaigrette would taste amazing and refreshing, perfect for the summer months ahead. 

Share your version of this fast homemade meal with me on Instagram! @mdesenna xo

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Kids Fun Homework Activity For School!

Meet Pete the Penguin: a great learning activity idea for young kids at school. 

My toddler brought Pete back home for the weekend and she was to take about 3-5 photos with him and write sentences about their adventures together.

Every student does this with Pete and by the end of the year, the class has a photo album of Pete with each of the kids. 

Friends like to flip through the album and see each other. Moreover, it encourages them to write, as they come up with their own captions, and read those of others. 

Having a clear bias for photos, this educational activity is right up my alley. xo

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Saying 'I Love You' Without Actually Saying It [MOMLIFE]

My toddler said this to me the other day and it felt even better than 'I love you'.

She said this right when we got into the bathroom and were about to brush teeth before bed. I had just spent the entire day with her, as I took her to a museum in the city-- a rare treat and one to remember. 

The way she said it was unanticipated and matter-of-fact, as if it were any other statement. She had a great day and it sounded as she was both thankful for that and aware I facilitate that happening.

Sometimes we say 'I love you' to the people we love so often that the phrase becomes more meaningless the more we say it, even if we are more inclined to say it because we do.

Changing the way you say 'I love you' somehow makes it more meaningful because you think more deeply (or at all) why you feel the way you do. 

This all might very well be philosophical garbage but the love was there and it was certainly felt and no one even had to say it. xo

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Small Choices, Big Impacts On Our Children [PARENTING]

She saw a basket of fruit at the coffee bar and acted guilty, pointing and asking if she could have an apple. Honestly, I was surprised she wanted one and dubious of whether she would actually eat it but of course got it for her.

She jumped up and excitedly said Yes!, as if she scored a toy blind bag or something.

It's honestly been a while since we've had apples. Took me a second to remember it was when I was pregnant that I chose apples instead of chips as a side when we went to Panera, and that's probably where she learned to eat them whole. Typically, at home, we slice them.

It's funny how the littlest things make the biggest impact. Well, maybe this isn't huge, per se, but growing up choosing a whole apple would not have been a typical side order of choice in my family. But if you think about making healthy food choices when you're with your kids, it can actually be pretty significant in the long run. 

Same can be said for all the things we do with and around our children. Reading, exercising, watching tv, laughing, etc. The list goes on and on. It's not to say, as parents, we should try to be the healthiest people on the planet but this simply serves as a friendly reminder that we are significant role models in our children's lives and, as long as we are cognizant, we can keep or change the things we do. Whatever the flux, however, you can always depend on love to be the constant. xo

Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Sweaty Breastfed Babe [MOMLIFE]

I don't know if it's the weather or if it's that she's growing (or a combo of both), but her feeds lately have been pretty intense and she's been sweating like a hot yogi :>

It's all good though because her cheeks are filled and she finds comfort close to my heart :> xo

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