PERSONAL

The Things I’ve Learned While Carrying a Little Pea Inside My Pod

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I was celebrating my 32th birthday when I second guessed myself before ordering a third round of mojitos. “It’s been a while since the last time I’ve used my Kotex pads in my beach bag”, I thought to myself.

The next day we were flying to Orlando, Florida to go to Halloween Horror Nights + Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, so I did what any slightly paranoid human being would do. I took a lab pregnancy test.

It came out positive.

That’s the moment my life changed. In an instant. One minute, I was extremely excited about wine tasting + upside down roller coaster riding. The next, I could only think of one thing:

I’m going to be a mom!!!

I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!

I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!

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Everything else took the passenger seat.

Now I must confess, before I found out I was expecting, I knew pretty much nothing about pregnancy. I mean, only the basics – the possibility of morning sickness + the importance of belly oils to avoid stretch marks, but other than that, I was clueless. Clue. Less.

Being so close to the finish line, Olivia could pick her birthday any minute now, I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve learned about pregnancy + becoming a mom + expanding my tolerance for a lot more mess in my life and business. Whether you’re a mom-to-be + new-mom + pro-mom + mom-of-a-furry-creature-or-cactus or wish-to-be-a-mom-one-day, I think you’ll find something of value in this list. Or at the very least you’ll get a good laugh out of some of these.

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Here I go, the things I’ve learned while carrying a little pea inside my pod named Olivia Larrinaga Carles:

  1. Being pregnant is a freaking miracle. We lost our first baby. He’s teeny tiny heart stopped beating around the 3-month ultrasound. The pain we experienced, David + I, was inexplicable. It was the first time in my life I couldn’t “fix” what had happened. And that was very hard for me. That feeling of complete impotence. When we got the news we had been given another chance to be parents, we didn’t care if we were having a girl or a boy, if we were having twins or triplets, if the baby was a Scorpio or a Gemini. Nothing mattered but our love for this new life, this MIRACLE, that was growing inside of me. We just felt so incredibly blessed. They say, babies that follow a loss come from the rainbow. I absolutely believe it now!
  2. Pregnancy is the happiest reason to feel like crap. Every leg cramp + every food aversion + every sleepless night + every emotional tantrum + every ninja kick that took my breath away in the wee hours of the night… all of it feels irrelevant. I know this may sound masochistic, but I swear, these have been the happiest days of my life.
  3. My patience is a limited + precious resource that I now guard with my life. These days, the little patience I have left is exclusively reserved for my family + my community + top priority projects. No guilt or shame about it either. I’m not even looking to optimize my patience or apologize for losing my cool when my buttons are pushed. I’m actually enjoying this new “I give a darn about you, if you’re not worth my energy” attitude. Try it, it’s liberating.
  4. Other peoples bad moods + insults + attitude problems no longer ruin my day. It was about time, right?
  5. I actually don’t like Oreos that much. I only craved Oreos when they weren’t allowed. When I found out I was pregnant, I let my internal Yedi Council guide my choices. When I removed restrictions + punishment from the equation, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I’m not the Oreo Monster I thought I was. I’m much more of a homemade carrot cake kinda girl. Big revelation.
  6. Surrounding myself with people who I like + like me back is so important. Having a loving support system of crazy aunties + grannies to laugh about pregnancy symptoms or ask stupid questions, like whether or not I could take bubble baths while expecting, was the biggest blessing. Simultaneously, I divorced every relationship that cost too much effort + time + head aches + constant disillusionment to maintain. Olivia truly gave me the courage to embrace petite committees and fire every whiny + pessimistic + energy sucking vampire in my life who is dimming my glittery eyes without feeling bad about it.
  7. Life is not that complicated. We complicate things by saying “yes” when what we really wanna say is “no”. I thought it would be hard to clear my calendar + stop overcommitting + make room for baby Olivia. It wasn’t. People are actually pretty cool + understanding when you tell them, “I’m flattered beyond measure that you would think of me for _________, but as you can probably tell my priorities are set on baby making right now. I apologize I can’t do this amazing project justice.”
  8. Pregnancy is not 9 months, it’s closer to 10 months. I’m kind of neurotic about timing + planning, so finding out the process was an additional month was an unexpected curveball.
  9. WOW I’m not completely incapacitated. Pregnancy is not synonymous with being sick. What a breakthrough! Of course I’ve had my Unnecessary Freaking Out Over Nothing Episodes post eating the entire Christmas buffet table or a big ass-burger the size of my face all to myself, but other than that, I was very happy to  find out I was able to go about my day-to-day things as usual. Although I’ve noticed I get more doors opened + everyone seems to want to help me at the grocery store. That’s been nice.
  10. Watching Game of Thrones while pregnant is a terrible idea. Baaaaaad indeed.
  11. Every dementor has a patronus. All of the changes that happen during pregnancy are so weird that it’s easy to assume there’s a scary new symptom + ache + pain around the corner. But the thing I found surprising is that even the toughest hiccups have remedies. For example, in my 26th week I started experiencing shortness of breath when sleeping on my back. It freaked me out. My doctor recommended adding more pillows + my auntie Aurita gave me this magical Nikken blanket. PUFFF!!! Problem solved! Just like that. I learned that there is always a charm for every curse that stand in the way. Always.
  12. Some people… GOSH, are seriously annoying. People suddenly felt like it was appropriate to comment on everything, whether it was my weight + the size of my belly + my diet + even my lifestyle decisions for when Olivia is born. If I need breastfeeding tips + morning sickness tricks or any sort of advice for that matter, I’ll seek it – Google it + enroll in a course + hire a mentor + e-mail a friend or ask my mom. Thank you!
  13. People who don’t give unsolicited advice are my favorite kinda of people. Seriously you guys are awesome!
  14. People notion of boundaries shift when they find out you’re pregnant. Why? Strangers would randomly grab my stomach + others would over share every detail of their horrifying birth stories. It’s bizarre + I had to keep reminding myself not to take it personally.
  15. If I didn’t plan for it, it didn’t happen. I was so forgetful about taking my folic acid + my prenatal vitamins until I got a 7 Day Weekly Pill Box Organizer to store my required supplements. As it turns out, just like with any other important project in life, if it’s not scheduled it doesn’t exist.
  16. Having a baby belly is a lot like having Aladdin’s magical lamp, but better. I’ve asked for frozen yogurt in the middle of the day. Granted. I’ve asked for back massages with lavender oil. Granted. I’ve asked for a very specific color of turquoise napkin for my Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party. Granted. I’ve asked for M&M milkshakes. Granted. I’m gonna miss this for sure.
  17. Furry creatures know something was up. We have a labrador named Hagrid – Keeper of Keys and Ground of the Larrinaga Carles Headquarters. He’s the size of a jumbo jet + has the personality of an unsupervised puppy dog on sugar high. I was a little nervous when I found out I was pregnant, because he has the tendency to knock you over when he sees you coming with a frisbee. Actually, when he sees you coming, period. But even before we knew a little baby girl was coming, Hagrid strangely became so gentle with me. He stopped tackling me. He suddenly just wanted to cuddle + lick my feet. Something changed that we can’t explain, but I swear, he knew, before we did, that Olivia was coming.
  18. Belly oil is my BFF. 
  19. Changes are gradual. I assumed that changes to my body would happen suddenly, to the point where it would be difficult to shave my legs or get out of bed. While both of those tasks are becoming increasingly challenging, the changes have been slow. One time, when I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that I was splashing water everywhere. I thought that maybe something was wrong with the faucet, but realized it was my bump that was getting in the way LOL.
  20. My choices sculpt our future. There is something about creating life + bringing that life into the world that gives you perspective. Perspective ladies + gentz. I believe our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past + present. And with each insensible decision + every act of kindness, we give birth to our future. Which is why I’ve been making more environmentally friendly choices, like picking cloth diapers over disposables + installing bamboo flooring instead of something Made in China, and taking greater interest in impacting positive changes in order to leave our Earth a better place for my daughter.
  21. As my belly grows, so does my heart. While I’ve always considered David to be sweet, I wouldn’t have necessarily labeled him as a particularly sensitive guy, before I got pregnant. But he was overwhelmingly supportive of me every step of the way + watching him whisper into my belly every morning + sing songs to Olivia (her favorite “La Espera” from Cultura Profetica) + play Deepack Chopra audiotapes on fatherhood + take an interest in the smallest details of our baby’s life, brought out a new side of him that I’m absolutely head over heals about. I didn’t think I could love him any more, but seeing him in his new role as a dad has made me realize I was wrong.
  22. Babies erase your loser scripts. I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my thighs. About my spider veins. About cellulite. About how I look when I put on a bikini. Any body issues or insecurities vanished the second I found out we where gonna be a mommy. Olivia just makes those silly thoughts fly away, like clouds with the wind.
  23. You really do glow. It’s not just me + my new found over-confidence. Yes moms are excited about becoming moms, but it’s more than that. As it turns out, glowing skin is a very real thing for pregnant women. While pregnant, the amount of blood in our bodies will increase by 50%. The extra blood ends up showing through the skin in many areas, particularly the cheeks. On top of this, our preggo hormones cause the oil glands to become more active, resulting in a softer, shinier appearance. The result is a noticeable glow (aka Mayi feeling like a goddess).
  24. The father-to-be is also a little pregnant. You should see us at every wedding we go to. We attack that dessert table like a lion attacks his prey. You could swear we are both pregnant. And David heartburn is nothing to joke about either. Call it sympathetic pregnancy or whatever you want. It’s real And, I happen to think it’s the cutest thing ever!
  25. Pinterest is dangerous. Baby clothes + nursery projects + dressing the bump… oh my! It’s already too late for me, but if you can, safe yourself. Run the other way. That place is a trap.

This mama-to-be might have missed out on the mojitos + said sayonara to sushi for nine months, but it was worth every single second of waiting for Olivia. Every. Single. Second.

What about you? What lessons did you learn while expecting? Any funny revelations or big aha moments? Leave a comment below + let me know!

FOOD · PERSONAL

The Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party

Life is Messy Kitchen

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So pumped to share with you some pictures + even a short clip of the Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party. I know not all of you could tele-transport to Panama to attend, so I tried to document the event to the best of my abilities to show you a glimpse of what went down. I hope it makes you feel like a little part of you was there.

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From the very beginning I knew I wanted this to be a kids-friendly event, so I set up a coloring book table to keep them entertained + of course brought in helium balloons, cuz a party without balloons is really just a meeting.

(Everyone who purchased the Life is Messy Kitchen – The BIG Bundle, has access to all these exclusive coloring book pages you see featured in these pictures)

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Mom now jokingly calls me “J.K.” She’s still pretty psyched about the amount of people that showed up the party + stood in line to get their books autographs + take a picture with me. I still can’t believe it. For three hours, it truly felt like I was the coolest Disney ride in the block. That was a moment.

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Everyone tried to convince me to hire out a catering company, specially being 7-months pregnant n’ all. I didn’t listen. Up to this point I had only cooked for my family + small gatherings with close friends, which was a blessing because I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into, until it was too late for Plan B.

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I couldn’t picture serving fried empanadas at my event or Coke. First, you gotta strap me to my bed before I feed my army with crap. Luckily, it didn’t have to come to that.

With the help of my friend + extraordinary chef, Carolina Garcia, we feed more than 250 people that day with nourishing recipes from the book. Here’s what we made:

  • Lentil Quinoa Salad with Raw Vegetables
  • Kung Fu Fighter Sushi with Seasonal Veggies and Tamarin Sauce
  • Banana and Dark Chocolate Granola
  • Heartmade Granola Parfaits with Greek Yogurt and Fresh Berries
  • Mapled Pecans with Rosemary and Orange Zest
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Cashew Blueberry Bars
  • Thumbprint Coconut Cookies with Mixed Berries Jam and Pistachios
  • Clean Nutella Spread
  • Pistachios Butter served with Whole Wheat Toast

And dad (aka Mr. Life Blends) supplied the beverages:

  • Calypso Royale
  • Vineyard Delight
  • Hazelnut Milk

Of course, all these recipes can be found inside the book so you can make them too!

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And here’s a little teaser of the mini movie that’s coming. To watch, click play!

I’m eternally grateful to:

  • Tere + Alessa + Emily from Uber Shop for making me feel at home + being the world’s most amazing party hosts.
  • Susy Aramburú + Sarah Tyler for documenting the event, so one day I can show Olivia what mom did.
  • Truenos y Relampagos + Mairena for killing it with the music.
  • Helga from 4Bistro for helping me decorate the party. This preggo lady could have never done it without you.
  • Chef Carolina Garcia + La Cocina de Sofy for helping me feed 250 attendees.
  • Boutique Flowers for taking my “flower colada” concept to a whole new level of awesome.
  • Studio Marroquin for making me feel pretty.
  • Life Blends for providing my guests with the best juices in the world. They are!
  • Felipe Motta for supplying us with organic wine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try it, but I hear it was exquisite.
  • My mom + my Suegris for making sure people were feed + everything looked as I had envisioned in my Pinterest board.
  • My wonderful + very patient husband who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, for packing + unpacking all my crazy party props, including forty helium balloons he somehow managed to fit inside his car, and for entertaining everyone who walked through the door with all the behind the scenes stories of how the book came to be.
  • Everyone who came + to all of you who couldn’t make it, but I know where there in spirit. I felt it, your unconditional love + support. All of it.

Thank YOU is not a big enough thing to say to express my gratitude right now. I can’t high five you high enough or hug you tight enough to show you how much I appreciate you. My little book threw a party + you showed up for me, both physically + metaphysically. You are AWESOME!!!

Now comes the part I’ve been a little shy about, but it’s time.

I Need Your Help

So here’s the deal. I’m not even gonna try to play it cool. Pretend that making this book was easy breeze. That the funds poured in. That I executed the project in record time + under budget. That I got a sweet deal on Shark Tank. That Ellen’s people called.

The truth is Life is Messy Kitchen was a ku-raaaa-zy labor intensive passion project. It took 17-months to make from start to finish + a team of incredible human beings to execute + all my life’s savings to self-fund, in full.

I feel blessed the book is DONE + far more magical than I had imagined it in my dreams, but the work is far from over. I really REALLY need your help. My growing baby belly doesn’t allow me to jump on planes anymore + do a global book tour or knock on Oprah’s door, but maybe, I’m hoping, there is still plenty we can do, together.

Here’s what I have in mind:

  • I’m looking to partner with some cool boutiques + indie shops. Is that you? Do you own a cute store? Wanna be a LIMK retailer + make money together? E-mail me at mayicarles@gmail.com + I’ll send you all the details.
  • I’m also hoping to play in the big leagues with the folks of Whole Foods + West Elm + Barnes & Noble + William Sonoma + Anthropologie. I’m not embarrassed to admit it out loud anymore. That’s where I want to see this book displayed. So if you know someone who knows someone who could get the book in front of the right people, could you please send me their contact info or tell them to write me at mayicarles@gmail.com?
  • I envision mom’s + aunties + best friends + companies purchasing multiple copies of the book to giveaway to their peeps. As a birthday present. As a wedding gift. As a fundraiser favor for VIP donors. Interested? E-mail me at mayicarles@gmail.com + I’ll send you my special rates for bulk orders.
  • Or why not treat yo’ self? Get yourself a copy at www.lifeismessykitchen.com. Your purchase helps keep this creative little empire alive.

With your help, I know we can get this lil’ book into Oprah’s Favorite Things list or the Ellen show. I know it. If you’ve seen the book, I know, deep down, you know it totally possible too. This book is so special. It deserves a chance.

I can’t wait to get all these book orders into your hands. Into your homes. Into your kitchens.

It’s that simple.

Next week, I will pick a winner. You just may get lucky. Someone has to, why not let it be you? The lucky winner will get a free autographed copy of Life is Messy Kitchen. Yay!

 

 

 

Photography Credit

Susana Aramburú

Video + Video Stills Credit

Sarah Tyler 

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