Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Feeling S.A.D

When spring starts some of us find ourselves with an urge to clean out closets. Fall is also known as sweater weather. When summer starts some of us crank up the air conditioners. There are a lot of things that change as the seasons do. From some people the change in seasons can leave them S.A.D.

S.A.D stands for seasonal affective disorder and efffects and symptoms can include severe depression and anxiety. For those who suffer from S.A.D. they suffer from these symptoms only during certain seasons of the year. The most comon being summer or winter. Those with S.A.D. are fine the rest of the year.

Although the cause has yet to be determined, many doctors agree that it is the sun to blame. In the winter time there is less sunlight and this drop in daylight can mess with your bodies natural clock and make it harder to sleep and causing the amount of serotonin in your body to drop. As many of us know, serotonin is the chemical that is released when you are happy.

For those that suffer there are ways for relief. For winter S.A.D light therapy has been known to be effective. Doctors have also been known to prescribe melotonin and even anti-depression medication to help balance your body.

I never knew this exsisted but evey fall I go through a slight depression phase. I feel overwhelmed, exhausted and all I want to do is lay in bed in my pajamas. It's nice to know that there is a reason this seems to happen every year. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaching Touching Safety

There's a program in the catholic religion offered to children in catechism called "Teaching Touching Safety." It began as a response to recent and rampant abuse allegations in the Catholic Church. Catholic priests came under immense scrutiny for abusing children or hiding abuse of other priests. This happening to children is inexcusable. It's sad this is what the church has had to implement within children's curriculum, but still beneficial since the content may help any it reaches.

Many things came up for me as I learned about this program. Firstly, I was disappointed with the church's recently tarnished reputation. Next, I was happy that my children would be taught about safe versus unsafe touches, online safety techniques and anti-bullying principles. The lessons go well beyond avoiding molestation. 

Second, this curriculum got me thinking about vigilance in my own home. As a child I was left unsupervised a lot. I was also vulnerable and usually very lonely. These aspects of my upbringing were a recipe for disaster, but that doesn't mean my children have to suffer the same cycle of vulnerability. 

I took this opportunity to learn about how I can further open up lines of healthy communication with my kids. For starters, the hubby and I make sure not to ridicule our children and often ask them to share their day with us. We also cover a pretty standard "no one can touch your privates" policy. We cover what privates are and why a parent must be in the room if ever a doctor needs to see or touch their private parts.

Moreover, we remind our children to be confident in all things and speak up against any and everything that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is key for children. Confident children who are inquisitive are usually left alone by predatory adults seeking to harm them. For this reason, confidence 101 is a big lesson in our home. 

Just last night we talked with our son about how open we are to any and every conversation. Lately when we ask him about "liking girls" he gets awkward, so my hubby used this experience to explain that awkwardness is self-imposed and that as his parents we'll always strive to come from an open, non-judgmental place. We also reminded him that if someone ever asked him to "keep a secret" or "don't tell your parents" and such then that should be a big red flag!

What are your go-to talking points when preparing children to protect themselves from unsafe people or unsafe situations?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

 

I fell in love with the artistry of artist and children's book author and illustrator Yuyi Morales years ago. I am always on the look out for culturally relevant books to read to my kids and one of our favorites is "Just in Case". We were very excited to see that she has a big list of other books that are just as funny and as visually stunning as the first one we read.


When I heard that Yuyi Morales was working on a book about Frida Kahlo, well I was a little bit excited. The book is now out. Yuyi has mixed her own signature drawing and paintings with her skills in doll making. The cover alone is amazing but the photos and drawings inside are absolutely breathtaking.







Seriously, I can't even handle how much I love this whole book. I want every page framed and hanging on my wall. 


Friday, September 26, 2014

Current Obsessions



Elissa

Friday Night Lights: As usual I am totally late to the game with this show. The best part of being so many years behind is that you can binge watch the entire show at once. Yes I have all 5 seasons just waiting for me to watch. I will not even admit how many episodes I have watched in a very short period of time. Now I didn't grow up in Texas, but football was a pretty big deal at my high school. I don't think I missed a home game in all the 4 years I was there. I also loved that all the kids call each other by their last name. We totally did that in high school.

You and Me by You+Me: I love Pink and she has just come out with a new project. She has a new collaboration with  Dallas Green of the band City and Colours out. This is the first single from the upcoming album and it is beautiful. The music and the lyrics just hit me in my soul. I am loving this new softer side of Pink.

Tajin: I am also late to the game with this Mexican fruit and vegetable seasoning. Maybe because I have just taken a liking to spicy things. They say your taste buds change every 7 years and my 7 years must be up. This summer we have consumed lots of sweet watermelon and we decided to try a bottle of tajin. My taste buds exploded with the amazing flavor combo of sweetness, salt and some heat from chili. We have since tried it on everything, including cherry vanilla ice cream. Surprisingly good!

Irene

Brian Tracy's Book: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: I'm all about self-help books and I have zero qualms with the perception of that. Most times it's almost looked down on as though the people reading these books are somehow down and out, low self-esteem types. For me, self-help books are wonderful tools to keep individuals focused on growth and progress in work, relationships, and in my case, as a parent. I got this book from the Barnes and Nobles clearance rack and it's been a great easy read. Reading it automatically puts me in a focused, no-nonsense and grateful mood. If you want a helpful, straightforward read on sucessful habits this book (or any by Brian Tracy) is a must. He's a great author and success coach.

Cleaning My Home: Seems like a funny thing to obsess over, but as of late, I am hooked. A clean home keeps me feeling organized and light. It's essential to my daily routine. Plus, I can have folks over at the drop of a hat. I love impromptu visits. I make sure to stay positive in my chronic tidiness (by not nagging about the task) and do it at times when it doesn't take away from family quality time.

Central and South America research: I once backpacked through Central America. I also studied about Latin America in college as part of my major. These moments became definitive in who I am today. Currently, I'm obsessed with moving my entire family abroad and the first step in any family adventure is research. We've settled on Latin America as our eventual destination, so I spend countless hours learning about what it'll take to make this family travel adventure a REALITY! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bad Decisions


The other day I caught a glimpse of a reminder of a bad decision of my youth. I caught a glimpse of my tramp stamp. Yes I have a tramp stamp. There I said it. It's out there. I was about 22 years old and I made the decision to walk into a tattoo shop and ask some big burly dude to tattoo the letter R on my lower back. Yes the letter R. Back then I thought blackadder font was the "ish" so of course I came in with my printed out letter R. My brother was there with me and without hesitation I jumped onto the chair and had this blackadder uppercase "R" permanently inked right above my butt crack. 

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

You want to see it huh?? Fine.


Of course this letter R was for an ex and now 15 years later there it is, still on my back. The ex is long gone but the tattoo remains. The easiest solution would be to get it covered up but there are two reasons why I haven't....
  1. I do not want to increase the size of my tramp stamp.
  2. The first tattoo hurt very much and I haven't got the courage to go back from more. 


Chances are this tattoo will remain on me for the rest of my days. I can only hope that it will be a reminder to my kids that sometimes bad decisions will follow you forever.

Just ask Nick Cannon. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

KIDZ BOP 26: Music Review

I can't believe there are now 26 KIDZ BOP albums to choose from. KIDZ BOP is a compilation of popular songs re-imagined for kids. These kid-friendly tunes are sung by kids and usually kept as similar to the original hit as possible. Who ever came up with this concept struck gold. These are hot sellers and kids and parents quickly know why.


These are pretty awesome CDs for families that need to make a musical compromise. As a parent, I don't want to listen to Barney songs on repeat, but I also know that artists like Rihanna and Macklemore (which I like) don't necessarily sing about kid-appropriate topics. KIDZ BOP transforms songs by combining the melodies and concepts of original hits with slightly tweaked music lyrics, ultimately, making the music appropriate for kids. 

The most recent KIDZ BOP release includes artists such as Pharrell, Katy Perry and One Direction. So go ahead, nab these CDs and listen worry free. With KIDZ BOP parents don't need to worry about the content or lyrics of songs that are all over the radio. You can listen to "radio hits" that are appropriate for kids, because let's face it, radio versions of songs are becoming quite ridiculous. 

What's even better is that these songs can be easily streamed (free) on Pandora or Spotify. Simply search KIDZ BOP and you're all set. But be warned, if you don't have commercial free Pandora your kids might still get some pretty inappropriate music interruptions. Imagine having to explain to your kids what the Trojan condom commercial is all about. Yeah, you're on your own with that, but at least there's KIDZ BOP to water down those catchy Flo Rida or Chris Brown lyrics. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Upside of a Bad Breakup

Oh, the drama of a bad breakup is something the average person doesn't escape in their lifetime. I recently heard a good friend's breakup story and other than feeling glad to be out of the dating pool, I was somewhat happy for her. Yes, happy.

Breakups are full of pain. They're a unique kind of agony where you question every thought and action that brought you to a relationship's sad end. I don't mean standard hum-dum breakups, I mean dramatic tumultuous fall outs.

As I heard my friend share her tale, I was reminded of my own heartaches and heartbreaks. I remembered the stories of friends that came before her and I remember how the common thread in all stories was the depth of our inability to comprehend how things could turn so sour through infidelity, lies, arguments, or worse, verbal and physical abuse. We come out of relationships like these often questioning how we could let things get so bad. But what we don't always consider is the upswing of the bad.

Coping: If we can start a healthy healing process of forgiveness and moving on in a nondestructive way, from destructive relationships, we suddenly gain valuable coping skills. The scary downs teach us to begin facing other life obstacles with a newly refined set of coping mechanisms and a perspective of functioning from a place of been-there-done-that in the toughest of times. Suddenly, we know how to deal with many of life's smaller challenges thanks to those big ones.

Friendships: Of course, bad breakups are a time to rely heavily on honest to goodness relationships. Admitting the intimate details of a bad breakup to friends not only makes us further vulnerable, but truly human and increasingly bonded. It's in these difficulties that our truest, most supportive friends shine. It is those friends you remember to keep around when things suddenly become good again because goodness will return. 

Lessons: Lessons even the scary, painful ones, are lessons worth learning. A previous mentor once counseled my husband and I through a rough time. As she did, she reminded us that though our love saw immense lows, we'd also been able to love in a place of immense highs. This would be especially true once the storm of challenges had passed. She also reminded us that loving each other with the intensity we did might not come to be ever again if we let go of our relationship. We clearly had a deeply supportive union, with a firm foundation but we were stuck in a not-so-ideal runt. We were at a place where we could learn and grow for good or completely throw in the towel. I'm happy we chose growth.


Strength: Like the saying goes, "you don't know how strong you can be until you have to be." This doesn't mean stay in the bad relationships that bring you down. This means reflect on the greatness within you and the strength you'll carry into future experiences, relationships and all journeys of life. Strength adds to your personal boldness and might even be the thing that propels you further into adventures you once couldn't complete, or worse, you played it too safe to ever set out on adventures you so craved. Bad breakups often spark a courage in you you didn't know you had or were too afraid to unleash. Strength overrules fear and bad relationships only breed more fear. Choose strength over fear.

Karma: I believe 100% in Karma. If you left a relationship devastated and mostly on the receiving end of the pain and deceit, life will work things out to reward you in the long run. Humans that come from a place of inflicting pain (such as that dirty dog of an ex) don't get out of this short journey of life unscathed. So DO NOT stoop to anyone's low standards or hurtful ways - life will even out the score. It always does.