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This Amara Girl

apollina baker

So, of course, it is absolutely true what they say, being a Mother is the hardest job on the planet.  The emotions, the sleep deprivation, the weightiness and responsibility of teaching a young, beautiful mind... The confusion and self-doubt that comes along with parenting.  The heart palpitations and absolute fear that overcomes you when you see or hear your child get hurt...  And the criticism and judgment you get, directly or indirectly, from strangers, friends, family, etc.  It seems everything - the pregnancy, the birth, breastfeeding, your baby's sleep patterns and eating habits - it's all fair game for this strange competitive sport of being a Mom.  But guess who isn't keeping score behind your back, the little one who melts in your arms when she wakes up from her nap or clings to your neck because he doesn't want you to put him down. 

I am so incredibly proud of Amara.  I am proud of who she is and what she does.  I want to brag to everyone about the things she can do, what she eats, how she listens and how she speaks.  And I do brag, to Brad, and my Grandmother:)  While it is every parent's right and natural instinct to be proud of their amazing child (what parent doesn't think their kid is the most incredible thing?!), I think it's important to be sensitive to other Moms too.  Exercise restraint, good judgement, wisdom even.  I  think it's generally safe to assume that for every positive thing you say about your kid, what the other Mom is hearing is a negative comparison to her own kid(s) and a judgment on her parenting.  I know that is not (usually) the intention of the proud parent; it happens because every Mom is so sensitive about her own child and a little insecure about how she is doing as a parent.  Why add unnecessary fuel to a fire that is constantly being combatted?  

Additionally, offering advice on how to parent to another Mom should be done in love and with pure intentions.  Now, I don't always agree with the way that some of my friends and family raise their kids.  Honestly, it is sometimes hard for me not to say anything - if you know me, you know I'm a little too free with my opinions at times.  When it comes to parenting though, I've learned to know my place!  They may, however, get an unsolicited book from me in the mail;)  What I am saying is, when you create a non-competitive, caring environment with other Mothers you can share ideas and make suggestions that seem like real help and not opportunities to say "I'm better than you" or "you're doing a poor job".  Being a Mom is hard enough!  

Brad is always reassuring me and talking be down from the ledges of Mommy self doubt.  I just had a freak-out a couple of nights ago.  I was convinced I dropped the ball because Amara doesn't count to 10 in Spanish or try to sound out words when I read to her.  She's not even 2 yet but that night I totally thought I ruined her!  I couldn't even sleep.  You know who didn't lose any sleep over such silliness though?   A happy little girl who just knows that Mommy and Daddy love her beyond anything this world contains and that we're always there.  Brad didn't lose any sleep either, he knew I was being ridiculous.

You know what's funny?  This post started out being all about this crazy beautiful little girl of mine.  But it's 1:00 am and stream of consciousness, or unconsciousness, kind of took over. 


Valentines Hugs and Kate Spade Kisses Cake, Wink Wink

apollina baker

Happy Valentines Week!  I remember, back when I was dating, this being such a fun and exciting week... the days leading up to a big, romantic date!  Hours of online shopping for the right dress, planning how I would wear my hair/makeup and last minute trips to the mall to find the perfect earrings.  Now that I 'm married and a toddler's Momma (and currently laid up in bed with a thrown-out back b/c I went out dancing this weekend and pushed it a little too hard), Valentine's day isn't something I think about and look forward to.  It's more like, hey baby, isn't today Valentines Day?  Wanna order pizza?  V-day is a great excuse to bake though, so, I made a little cake lady who reminds me of an adorable wink clutch from Kate Spade's Spring 2015 line.  

cake winks.jpg

How sweet is this clutch?  Love it.  The cake is pretty easy too.  Just make whatever the heck kind of cake you want (3 layers) and cut out some fondant eyes and lips.  I blew up the image, printed it out, traced it on transparent paper, cut out the pieces with an x-acto knife and then cut around those "stencils" on the fondant.  Easy as pie, ;) ;)  My cake was vanilla with strawberry buttercream.  She was cute and delicious.  I thought I'd dress her up with some PicMonkey accessories for the holiday...

Amara, my little Valentine, sure enjoyed her!

And the next day too...


10 Things You May Not Know About Me

apollina baker

1.  My full name is Apollina Justina Casal Spoto (now Baker).  I am the second of 4 girls and all of our names begin and end with A (Aisha, Astiana and Ahdazsa). Which is a big part of why we gave Amara her name. 

2. My Myers Briggs personality type is an ENFP.  After being tested (took an extensive exam with certified practitioners, interviews, analysis and all!), I made a lot more sense to myself. 

3. I had a nose  job.  Two actually.  I used to have a more pronounced, Italian looking nose (which I kind of miss), accentuated by a crooked bone thanks to a sledding incident.  I had surgery to fix my septum and have my nose set straight but it was even more crooked afterwards (the septum is a stubborn thing) and I regretted not having more cosmetic work done.  I had a corrective rhinoplasty and decided while under the knife, to slenderize my schnoz and shave down the bump.  My nose is still crooked but I like it.  I was pretty self conscious before and now, I don't give my nose a second thought.  Brad likes to joke that I gave him the old bait-and-switch:)  Our kids are going to have these huge noses and not know where they came from! 

4.  I am allergic to apples.  I know, Apollina is allergic to apples?!  Apples, plums, pears and soy. 

5.  One of my sisters, Asti, passed away almost 13 years ago.  She was 19, I was 21 (we are the two middle sisters).  We were in a medical malpractice lawsuit for several years following her death and it was an incredibly horrible time in all of our lives.  One of the reasons I wanted to become an attorney is so that my family would never need another one; we had a pretty traumatizing experience.  Asti and all my sisters are a big part of who I am.

6.  I'm not a Democrat or a Republican.  I'm Constitutionalist and registered Independent.  I firmly believe the two-party system serves to cause divisiveness among our citizenry, maintain the status quo (when, regardless of who is in office, has the establishment ever meaningfully changed?), and to perpetuate the grand illusion that there are only two sides to every issue and that there is someone who shares your beliefs and worldview - you just have to vote them into office so they can act on your behalf.  It boggles my mind how we still buy what we're being sold.  Debate, criticize and lambaste over here while the establishment (those domestically and internationally who really run the show) carry out their self-serving agenda over there.  I agree with Judge Napolitano, elections are tools of social control that serve to provide the people with meaningless participation in a process that remains the same, no matter what people want.  The establishment doesn't want and doesn't have the consent of the governed.  We have so lost sight of what the government is supposed to be.  It was created by and for the people and we are supposed to have control over it.  But the opposite is true and additionally, we fear it.  Which is what the Constitution is meant to guard against.  

This is a hot-button issue for me... clearly;)  Brad's plea to friend's/family in social settings:  "Please, don't get her started."

7.  I often fantasize about being on Dancing With the Stars.  The only reason I want to be even a little bit famous is to have the opportunity to be on that show!  It's just the best show in the world.  The Good Wife is a close second.  And The New Girl is hands down the funniest show on t.v. 

8.  I have had a job since I was 13 years old.  When I told my Mom I wanted a certain kind of shampoo instead of what she bought, she told me that I would have to buy it myself.  So, I got a job as a maid and have been buying my own shampoo ever since.  Bought all my own cars, paid for my apartments, my bills, college and law school.  This is the first time since 13 that I have not had a job - although, cumulatively, I'm sure I've logged more working hours staying at home with Amara than in all previous paying jobs.  Once she gets to a certain age, Amara will pay for all of her own things too.  She's definitely going to wait tables!  I did it for 6 years and I think everyone should do it, at least for a little while.

9.  I am truly concerned my daughter is learning how to sing from listening to me sing to her every day and night.  I cannot cary a tune!  As we sing she matches my tone and tries to harmonize with me and I fear I am setting an awful example of what singing is.  Brad said we have to get singing lessons - for me.  Whaa!

10.  I am generally an organized mess.  Okay, I am being a little too generous with characterizing my mess as "organized".  I'm a bit haphazard at times and often go onto the next thing in such a hurry I disregard whatever I was presently doing unconsciously and nonchalantly.  That doesn't mean, however, that I am generally not present.  One of my strong suits, I would say, is being present in the moment and appreciating my surroundings and company.  The possibility of getting dirty, ruining, breaking or losing something doesn't dissuade me from doing anything.  I'm not risk averse.  Except when it comes to the law, I am overly aware and concerned with keeping within its boundaries.  Although, I am a staunch believer in Civil Disobedience as well.  I live by a code that may seem contradictory but it makes a lot of sense to me - I am an ENFP after all. 


Amara's New Play Table

apollina baker

Amara's little table makes me so very happy.  The $20 Ikea Latt table just begs for a makeover and it's got hacks for days.  This awesome Latt Hacker had the genius idea of inlaying a lovely design from Paper Source and gave awesome instructions on how to do it.  I also used the great instructions from another cool DIYer for the seat cushions.

For the makeover I needed...

    • 1 inch foam from Joanne Fabrics.  Don't buy green if you're using light fabric!  I made that mistake and the green showed right through the white fabric.  I cut up one of Brad's white tee shirts to layer over the foam before I covered them.  Sorry honey.
    • Fabric of your choice.  I used 1/2 a yard of white, fluffy fabric, also from Joanne's.
    • Staple gun, Joanne's. 
    • Spray adhesive.  Joanne's.
    • Grey wood stain
    • High gloss protective finish.  If there is a spray version, I would definitely use that instead of painting it on like I did. 
    • Gold spray paint (lightly sprayed the tops of the screws)
    • Acrylic sheet/plexiglass at .08 thickness, 18 x 24 inches.  I think Lowes may cut it to the exact dimensions you will need - 23 3/8" by 17 3/8" - if so, that is absolutely the way to go.  Major pain otherwise.  Home Depot wouldn't cut it so I had to saw it using a plexiglass cutter.  And when I say "I", I mean Brad.  Thanks honey.
    • I bought this beautiful ombre paper from Paper Source.  It's reversible; the other side would work for a boy;)


  • CUSHIONS:  Cut the foam so that it fits within the inside corners of the seat.  Adhere the foam to the seat.  Cut enough fabric so that you'll have a couple inches hangover.  Pull taunt, fold over, staple gun it.  Cut off excess.  Since I used a fluffy fabric, I cut the fluff off of the area where I would need to slide the seat into the slot of the chair frame.  I assembled the chair around the seat cushion.  Got a nice snug fit.  I was so stinking proud of myself!  I thought making a seat cushion was way out of my DIY league but it was SO EASY.  And fun even.  Did the seat cushions and painted the whole set in one nap time!  (Amara is taking roughly 2 hour naps at the moment).


  • TABLE:  Paint/stain the UN-assembled set.  I used a grey stain and used only one coat.  I am too impatient to wait to apply a second coat.  Plus, I liked the way it looked.  The next day (during nap) I applied a protective finish, high gloss.  I painted it on but would have used a spray if I knew there was one available.  The directions said to paint it on, buff it off, paint it on, buff it off, paint it on.  I couldn't do all of that.  Because I didn't want to.  So, I used one coat and left it like that.  For the table top, Brad sawed the plexiglass to the proper dimensions (23 3/8 by 17 3/8").  I wasn't a fan of the silver hardware so I punched the screws through some leftover foam and gave the tops of them a light coat of gold spray paint.  After the table was assembled, Brad measured and painfully sawed the plexiglass to fit.  There are notches at each corner than need to be cut out as well.  Then, I placed that cut plexiglass on top of the pretty paper and used an X-acto knife to cut the paper to shape.  You can see me doing that in that picture up there.  Oh wait, that's Brad again.
    • One thing I haven't done yet but will absolutely do, is to seal the edges on the inlayed plexiglass.  If Amara spills water (which she will), it will totally seep into the table top and ruin the paper.  So, until I buy a sealant, no drinking or watercoloring on the table; pretend tea only.

And voila!  I LOVE her little table.  It is so cute and she loves it.  At $20 (plus $10 for shipping), it was easy to spend money to customize it.  It takes a little time but I enjoy (half-assing) a little project now and then;) 

Sorry about my fuzzy phone pics (boo hoo), was one of those atypical rainy days in Austin.  

She's getting too big

apollina baker

She speaks in three word sentences now and tells me that she loves me.  I have a very, very hard time not sleeping on the floor next to her crib while holding her hand through the crib bars.  We are wrapped around each other's finger and attached at the chest.  At least once a day I am overwhelmed by how much I love her.  Tears come so easily now that I'm a Mom.  It's like they're always right there waiting behind my eyes - nothing but JOY.  And tomorrow is another wonderful, long day.  No idea what we are going to do, I gotta come up with something.