The February Freeze

Hey! I know I have not posted in about 4 weeks, but with good reason. At first, we had some medical concerns in the family that needed our support. Then, more than half the country participated in the Famous February Freeze right? I know those of us in Texas suffered A LOT. There were days with no electricity, a decrease in water pressure if your home had water, while others struggled with no water at all for days. In Houston specifically-we went through a whole “boil water” stage too if you were even lucky enough to have running water in your home. Man, it has been a month to remember.

Feels like 3 degrees… THREE

I wanted to go play in the snow with my daughter and make use of the 0-3 months snowsuits we got her from Columbia and North Face, but it was such a bad idea. There was no way Cesar and I would be those parents that would risk our child getting sick “just to have fun” because it was about 9-15 degrees F outside, but without heat it was about 49-54 degrees F INSIDE. We went 3 full days without a house that had electricity in that type of weather with both snow and ice on the roads.

Avery had on a plain onesie and socks, then her sleep sack, her Columbia jacket over that, topped off with her Columbia snow suit and beanie. We had not been in a warm house for 2 days and then had to be outside to move to a house that did potentially provide warmth..

To say it was ridiculously cold would be an understatement. We had to “house hop” in order to get some type of heat for Avery. She struggled so much those 3 days without heat. See, babies at this age can only breathe with their nose. When she is eating, she’s actively sucking with her mouth, swallowing, and breathing through her nose at the same time. But the problem began when the cold, dry air made her congested that first day… feeding her was hard. She was obviously hungry and screaming to be fed. I’d put her on my breast and she tried breathing, but couldn’t get those hard, dried boogies out of her nose. She would latch on for about 5 seconds and then unlatch because SHE COULDN’T BREATHE.

Taking a small break from eating to calm down, cold inside the house day 1.

As a nursing mother, if you have ever experienced nursing a sick baby, you understand what Avery and I were going through. At first, I just sat there and cried because I couldn’t believe Avery couldn’t eat. I tried different positions to feed her, nope did not work. I tried squirting some breastmilk up her nose so that it could break up those hard boogers blocking her passages, didn’t work either. Finally, we figured a humidifier could fix our problem. But guess what? No electricity. So, we went to the next best thing: a steaming shower. I turned on the water in the bathroom as hot as it would go, took off all our layers, closed the door, and sat on the lid of the toilet. Within 10-20 minutes, she finally got those nasal passages cleared up and she stopped screaming! She successfully latched and was able to eat again. But imagine, I had to do this every single feed until we contacted one of our friends or family to see who had electricity and head to that house.

Getting read for yet another cold night after a super warm steamy shower.

We went from my mom’s house in Cypress to my in-law’s house in Katy, then to our house with our roommates Andrea and Rolando, back to my in-law’s house, and finally back to my mom’s house for the rest of the freeze because my mom’s house got stable electricity back first. My in-law’s house went without electricity for FOUR AND A HALF DAYS. They were so lucky to have a chimney and a grill because if not? They would not have been able to eat or have any source of warmth from Sunday- Thursday… But… Heat? A basic utility in what felt like single-digit weather? Non-existent. Texas was completely unprepared for this, and while I can vent for hours about the struggle of 99% of Houston, we just made the best of our situation.

Monopoly in the dark during one of the rolling blackouts for 1-2 hours.

My mom gracefully hosted 5 different families over the course of that week. We were so blessed to have gotten electricity back after that 3rd day. After getting some heat back on, we were back to cooking normally, playing loads of Monopoly, and enjoying hot showers in a well-lit room (finally). It was a luxury that so many people could not partake in.

Cesar and I did everything possible to keep our girl warm and happy. Because man, those 3 days without a heater on… was bad. Our trip to the cold-weather destination got cancelled, but it made its way to us, and we can definitely say we had the snow experience.

In her own nursery, a bear suit on top of a onesie and socks with 4 blankets on top of her.
We never ran out of water or had any pipes burst, but the water we did have, we had to boil. You can SEE the sediment or something in the water straight from the tap….

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

Planning your birth

First off, I’d like to say that you can plan your birth all you want, but your body and your baby are completely unpredictable. “We plan, and God laughs” is spot-on! Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. So, instead of naming our birth plan “Birth Plan”, I decided “Sique Family Birth Wishes” was best.

When our doula told us about a client she’d had in the past writing up a 21-page SINGLE SPACED document as her birth plan, Cesar and I couldn’t help but laugh! But as I sat there at 35 weeks pregnant typing mine up… I understood where that woman was coming from. I got to 3 pages, double spaced when I realized yeah, this is not going to work. I instead opted to buy a simplified birth plan from a very talented artist on Etsy who had been doing this for years. Our doula said the best way to ensure your birth wishes are remembered and respected in birth is to provide short & simplified bullet points, and provide visual aids. So that we did.

Birth plan created by Visual Birth Plan on Etsy.

I printed and laminated FOUR copies of our birth wishes because our doula told us about a birth she attended where only two copies were made and BOTH were lost. When it came time to get serious in the 2nd stage of labor, no one could remember what she wanted and she was too busy in “labor land” to answer what she thought were “stupid questions”. Having gone from 4 cm dilated to 10 cm dilated in 3 short hours, I can absolutely relate. So, my husband had his copy, my mom had her copy, my midwives took their copy with them every time they left the room, and the nurses kept a copy of it at the nurses station. There was NO way anyone could come into my room with anything less than the knowledge of what I wanted for our labor/delivery. And every single thing on our birth wishes list, I got! Well, except for the no IV/hep lock because of the whole gestational hypertension thing. And the whole positive for GBS (Group B Strep) thing requiring antibiotics. But everything else was granted, no problem at all!

In the first stage of labor, bouncing on the ball and attached to the monitor as well as my TENS device.

My birth was everything I had ever hoped for. My midwives and nurses gave me the experience of my dreams. Sure, we didn’t get to go into labor at home- we were induced- but it’s all part of doing what’s best for mom and baby. I had fun during labor, and it was such a high for me afterwards! I was jittery and just FULL of energy. I’m grateful for such a positive birth experience and can’t wait for a different experience with the next baby. Labor amnesia is actually real, I am absolutely proof of that!

If you have any questions about planning your birth or what any of the things listed on my birth wishes mean, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram and I’d be more than happy to answer them for you. Or point you in the direction of our doula who really helped us understand the importance of a birth plan!

As always, thank you for reading and see you next time!

Marriage Appreciation

Every morning, my husband and I officially wake up at 5:00 am and go downstairs to begin journaling, eat breakfast, pack lunch, and make our plan for the day. I say “officially” because obviously we already wake up every 2-3 hours to change Avery’s diaper, feed her, and put her back down to bed. Advantages of breastfeeding!

Avery after a 1am feed before putting her back down in her crib

So after we do the 4:30am-5am feed/diaper change, Cesar will start getting ready for work while I go back into our room to pump for 15 minutes. Yes, I still pump after feeding Avery because I have been granted the blessing of overproduction! Sometimes she drains one side, but most of the time I’ll get 3-4 ounces from the side she did not feed from and 1-2 ounces from the side I fed her on. After pumping, Cesar will usually already be downstairs journaling when I’m coming down to put my milk up, combine the prior night’s milk in the storage bags to put into the freezer, and wash my pump supplies.

Washing my Medela In Style parts and bottles with my Boon bottle brush

After eating breakfast, Cesar and I have our short conversation about the things that need to be done that day. We start with housework that needs to be done (yes, my husband works full time and I am a stay at home mom, but we have always agreed on a division of labor because we do not believe in gender roles), meal plans or groceries, and then we finish by stemming off into what each of us has to do individually (his projects at work, my blogging, my selling on Facebook, his stocks, and more). By this time, he has already journaled, I have eaten and packed his lunch, and now he is ready to walk out the door. We kiss goodbye, wish each other a great and productive day, then I lock the door behind him. At this point I have begun my own journaling.

In my journal next to my to-do list for the day, I write 10 things that I am grateful for. I have noticed that in every single entry, I am grateful for 4 of the same things every single day.

Number 1: My mom

Number 2: My husband

Number 3: My daughter

Number 4: My family’s financial security

I posted this picture of Cesar and I because it goes to show that we take care of each other. We support each other on every new goal and challenge the other when it’s needed in order to make this happen.

I love the fact that these four things are consistent themes in my daily life. More than anything, I find myself consistently appreciating the foundation of Cesar and I’s marriage. The love, respect, support, and affection we give each other is the basis of everything we do and there’s so much of it that it overflows into our roles as Avery’s parents as well!

I love my daughter more than ANYTHING on this entire planet, but my husband is a close second. Like right there behind Avery. If you know me personally, you know that I love so hard. We’ve been officially married for less than a year, but we had a common law marriage for a year before that, so we’ve been in love for quite some time now. I can’t imagine my life without Cesar and marriage for us has been no walk in the park or anything like that, but it’s work absolutely worth doing!

Thank you for reading, we’ll see you next time!

How I use Facebook Market to make a living from home

I know I said that new blogs were going to be updated every Sunday, but I woke up this morning with a huge urge to write! So, I’d like to talk about how I am able to make a living while being a SAHM (stay at home mom). We all know that social media lets us reach out to a broader audience than just the people in our immediate circles and those we met at school or old jobs, and extended family. Not only do I use Facebook for its exceptional communicative purposes, but I use it to source product and sell those products. I only first came across Facebook Market when my mom told me to sell a desk for her a couple years ago. I had recently noticed that when I opened my Facebook app on my phone, it showed a new tab. I clicked on the tab and it showed me a list full of things being sold in my area. So when my mom asked me to sell something for her, I immediately researched how to sell something on Facebook Market, and within 4 days I sold my mom’s desk for $50. Looking back at it now, I feel like I hadn’t even put that much effort into the description of the product, the pictures posted, or advertising at all! After that I didn’t pay attention to that tab on Facebook until I needed it again in 2020.

This year Cesar and I moved out of my mom’s house around the time I was 6-7 months pregnant and moved into a house with roommates. Their names are Rolando and Andrea, a married couple, who had been friends with Cesar for more than a decade. Cesar knew them very well and assured me they were an ideal couple to live with during the first year of our daughter’s life. So, a couple serious conversations later, we decided to move into their newly bought house with them! The house is a 2-story 4-bedroom that they had completely gutted and renovated so everything was new and SUPER nice. We pay rent for our bedroom, 1.5 bath (our bathroom upstairs and half the guest bathroom downstairs) Avery’s nursery, shared living room, shared kitchen, and shared garage. Naturally with any new home and especially the joining of two families living in the same space, new things need to be bought and old things need to go. I thought it was RIDICULOUS that Cesar wanted to throw away a perfectly good couch and a perfectly functional dining table (with normal wear and tear and a couple scratches on it). So, I decided to go back to what had once made my mom money quick getting rid of her old furniture and listed the dining table and old couch. The dining table sold within 2 days and the couch sold within 1-2 weeks. Easy money.

Andrea and Rolando saw how easily we got rid of our old furniture and asked me to list their couch, a TV stand, their dining table, and an end table for them- and in return I would get a percentage of their profit. Boom, all 4 things sold within a month and everyone walked away with a profit in their pocket. All this selling of used furniture got me thinking: “What else can I sell?” and I went and cleaned out our room and kitchen from things we did not use or need anymore. 3 more things sold within the following 2 weeks. I was on a roll and it felt so good to make money from home while pregnant!

I remember looking down at the wad of cash I had in my hand at the end of the month thinking, “Is this really all mine? What do I do with this extra cash now?” and Cesar was so proud! So, I had a conversation with Rolando the next day and told him I honestly had no idea what to do now. I had sold everything in our house that needed to be sold and I was bored again. He pitched me an idea that jumpstarted my career in the secondhand market. He suggested I do 1 of 3 things, or do them all. The first idea was that I should advertise myself as a reseller for others trying to get rid of their things from home just like I did for them reselling their couch, TV stand, dining table, and end table. He suggested I set a price I would charge for doing that for other people or create a percentage that I would charge from their profit. Next, he said I should source product myself and sell it so that I get the full profit. And his last idea was that I should get into advertising and marketing from home. He wanted me to look into free courses online, YouTube videos, and books to get started marketing. Well, here I am months later having taken his advice, and it has made me more than $1000 in profit working from home!

I immediately began sourcing product locally. What I mean by sourcing is literally looking for things on Facebook Market that I wanted to go get and resell for a profit. I was VERY lucky to have found a lady who was desperately trying to get rid of years’ worth of Christmas decorations about 20 minutes away from me. She listed “Christmas stuff FREE must pick up ASAP” and I messaged her within 5 minutes of her having listed it. She sent me the address for pick-up and I started driving. Once I got there, I realized I may not have had enough room in my car to put all this stuff and take home. There was a 9-foot tall Christmas tree, hundreds of ornaments, Christmas wreaths, holiday candle holders, large storage bins, and a bunch of porcelain Christmas figures. I was 7 months pregnant at the time and managed to pretty much play Tetris putting EVERYTHING in the car and in my trunk. It was hard work but I got it done!

This jumpstarted my reselling on Facebook Market. When I tell you I had HUNDREDS of ornaments to go through, I’m talking close to 600-700 of them to go through and separate into color sets. I started taking pictures, writing descriptions and listing that very same day. The following week I had already sold several sets of ornaments (both in person pick-ups and shipping!) and received several offers for the 9-foot Christmas tree. Another $300 in my pocket right there and there was still SO MUCH product to got through and take pictures to list immediately. Months later, I still have a bunch of Christmas decoration left to sell because I didn’t get to list it all in time for Christmas.

All these items sold from what I received for free from that lady basically created my commerce profile on Facebook Market. I have built a reputation for myself on there having joined several selling groups in my area as well as asking my buyers for ratings after the sale has gone through. I’m glad I have been diligent asking for ratings because I know a lot of people will only choose to buy products from a trusted seller instead of a person who has little to no ratings!

It irritates me seeing the 4.5 stars as my rating because just a week ago I had a 5-star rating that had been there for months, but someone recently got mad about a shipped order they received in Florida for a description she did not read. She claimed I was a scammer because of how small the product was, how she proceeded to report me to Facebook, and so on and so forth. However, I put the measurements in the description and posted several detailed pictures from all different angles. So while I refunded her money back because I did not want anymore issues, she still gave me a bad rating. I’m over it now, but I just look at this as a rite of passage I guess every person in the business has to go through- people ordering things without reading the description thoroughly or not looking at the pictures posted closely enough.

Anyways, this is the beginning of my journey in the secondhand market. Using apps like Facebook Market and OfferUp has made me a good chunk of cash from home during the last stage of my pregnancy and my daughter’s first month of life! I even received orders for product once while in the hospital during labor and again during my postpartum hospital stay. I just put it on my to-do list after getting home from the hospital to pack it up and send Cesar to drop it off for me at the post office. There are several other things about the business and its logistics that need to be explored of course. It’s been a good start to my business so far, and I can’t wait to continue sharing more stories about it in the near future!

Thank you for reading, and I can’t wait for you to read the next Sique update this Sunday!

A COVID-19 New Year’s Eve

The whole year of 2020 was surely one to remember. It became normal (and mandatory in most places) to have to wear a mask in public, to follow arrows in stores and other public places as a reminder to stay 6 feet away from others, and for there to be hand sanitizing stations at every corner of any establishment. So it was already a known fact that all family gatherings and holidays would be severely altered as well. I was especially expecting these adjustments postpartum because of my newborn daughter. But to go from an 80+ people New Year’s Eve Party to an 8-people New Year’s Party was definitely an unforgettable experience and one I can’t wait to tell Avery about when she is old enough to understand.

The family members that Cesar and I have felt most comfortable having around Avery since she was born have been his parents, my mom, his brothers and sister-in-law, my cousin, her husband and kids, and my aunt. So those are exactly the people we got together with on Christmas. We went to church for the Christmas Eve service as usual and then went to prepare food for the Christmas Eve dinner we usually have as a family. It usually is never a giant group of people for Christmas anyway, so it did not feel like anything had changed this year expect for the newest addition to our family joining us in celebration of course!

Christmas Eve Service 2020 at Second Baptist Church Houston, TX.
Avery Christmas Eve 2020
Christmas Eve 2020 at mom’s house.
Left to right: Brandown Salazar carrying Liam Salazar, Christine Salazar carrying Giselle Salazar, Abby, and Cesar carrying Avery.

So every year for as long as I can remember, I have spent New Year’s Eve at my aunt Esperanza’s house. She and her husband always throw this huge party complete with NYE party gear such as hats, tiaras, noisemakers, and more. They have tons of food and their house is very party friendly. What I mean by that is the fact that there are several different rooms of the house that each accommodate to a different type of party-goer. The kitchen is of course filled with food and alcohol, but it also has a table that always hosts the most interesting conversations. The living room is decorated with all types of NYE banners areas specifically for pictures. This room is for your typical Hispanic dancer and has karaoke for the singers. Then, there is the garage equipped with a dart board and a pool table. The garage is usually open leading out to the front of their house’s cul-de-sac usually full of men and boys popping fireworks. Circle around the house and you have the backyard full of the teenagers and 20-year-olds playing games. These parties almost always hosted 40-80 people every year (my aunt is proud to say the biggest one they have ever hosted was filled with 88 people all over different areas of the house!), and everyone always had fun.

NYE 2014 Cousins in the garage. Left to right: Abby, Metzli, and Christine.
NYE 2016 Cousins in the living room before the party started. Left to right: Christine, Abby, and Metzli.
NYE 2017 Full living room dancing cumbia.
NYE 2019 photo prop. Left to right: Abby, Veronica Gonzales (Mom), and Cesar.

Of course this year’s party was still fun, but a significant decrease in the amount of people. This year there were less dancing and less singing because the only three people participating in the musical activities were my aunt, Christine, and I. Then a couple of us played board games. And of course, we always do the “go around the circle and say what you are thankful for” the ten minutes before midnight. It was a year where almost everyone said they were thankful for their health and financial security.

NYE 2020 Left to right: Christine, Giselle, Liam, and Abby.

Then, at midnight Cesar and I’s first kiss was our sweet baby Avery! The countdown from 10 into the new year made me a bit emotional because I couldn’t believe that the prior year there were only two of us and I wasn’t officially a Sique yet. Now, there are three of us and we’re all official Siques! Not only that, but we’re coming into the new year for the first time as parents with a whole host of responsibilities what with caring for a tiny human being we created and a whole new love we’ve begun to nurture. I know I speak for both my husband and I when I say that our first kiss of the year was oh so special!

As new parents, we decided not to drag this year on into the early 5am-6am hours as usual, but instead left my aunt’s house around 2am. We thought it was best to put Avery down in her crib and try to get at least 2-3 hours ourselves. This first day of the year we decided to be productive! We cleaned out the fridge, cleaned our daughter’s room, finished up our laundry, and decided to end the day going for a walk at a park I’d been wanting to explore. Since it was pretty cold in Houston that day, we decided it was also best to start exercising outside with Avery in preparation for a cold weather destination we’re traveling to in February.

Walking at Paul Rushing Park in Katy, TX (https://www.pct3.com/Parks/Paul-D-Rushing-Park)
Paul Rushing Park sunset on the bridge.
Paul Rushing Park sunset on the paved path.

Needless to say, last year’s end and this year’s beginning was quite different from what we usually experience in more ways than one. We are grateful for all the blessings we’ve had the past 12 months and are looking forward to what this year holds for us. We know that we are better equipped to overcome any obstacles coming our way and we welcome any challenges with our newly acquired parental superpowers (ha!) that come with the loss of sleep and erratic eating schedules.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading and see you next week!

-The Siques

A Reflection on 2020

As the year comes to an end, I find myself more emotional than usual. Yes, this year was exponentially harder than any of my other 21 years, but it was also where the most rewarding and significant life changes happened for me. I traveled to two different countries, got married, had a baby, and got really sick with the very virus responsible for the world’s social and economic downfalls this year. I know that it is easier to look forward to the next year as a “fresh start”, but in reality, it is an opportunity to reflect on the year you’ve personally had and change things for the better.

On the boat in Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba
Cesar and I on the boat in Aruba near Palm Beach.
Cesar on boat in Aruba.

Cesar and I were lucky enough to fly to Aruba and enjoy a couple of days there in January for my birthday. Then in February we were able to visit my father-in-law’s family up in the mountains of Guatemala for a weekend. We also planned to fly to at least 2-3 more countries this year and did it happen? No. Not because of our pregnancy or our life situation, but because the countries we were going to were not allowing entry to people traveling from The United States. My husband was going to propose to me in Canada in March. Then, we were supposed to go to Mexico for personal reasons, and that was cancelled because we both got sick with COVID-19 the week before our scheduled travel. So all of our travel plans after March were altered and we are definitely suffering from airport withdrawals now! We’ve decided to prescribe ourselves DOUBLE the amount of trips taken next year.

Plane views before landing in Guatemala City, GTA.
Arriving at the airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Pino Dulce Parque Ecologico, Mataquescuintla, Guatemala (https://pinodulce.com/)

We for sure have two trips planned out right now. One will happen in February and the other will happen in May. We are too excited to not only be back on a plane to explore a new place, but to be able to do so with our baby girl! Details on that trip will be coming soon, but the tickets are bought. Airbnb reserved, and checklist for our suitcases to travel with an infant is already printed out (haha the natural mommy planner instincts are coming in strong).

Mountains in Jalapa, Guatemala

We cannot wait to show our baby girl the world. While mom and dad have not gone further than North America, we plan to break that chain pretty soon. I know what many of you might be thinking: “Will she even remember traveling so young?”, and let me be the first to tell you- it does not matter. The main reason we are so excited to travel with her is not for her memory, but for ours. And one day when she is an adult, she has pictures to show that she was in some of those countries as a baby/toddler, and returning once again as an adult. She can say she traveled to more countries as a baby than both her parents combined by the time we were 30-years-old. And if bragging rights and memories for the parents aren’t enough for you, we can always evaluate how important it is for children to be exposed to different cultures at such a young age. We have done extensive research on this and now know that exposure to so many different environments for a child actually aids in their development! The further you read into my blogs, the more you will understand how important growth and development is for me.

More posts on this topic of travel coming soon. I just needed to post a story before the year ended, and while I am always ready to talk about our pregnancy, labor, birth story, and postpartum periods; I started writing and the first thing that started flowing without further thought was about travel. Not that travel is more important than my daughter, but this is the one thing my husband and I agree needs to improve next year if we can control it!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next post “next year” (Sorry, I know that joke gets annoying at the end of the year, but I saw my opportunity and I took it)!