Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Video Chat for Your Birth Control

Planned Parenthood is a taking birth control into the internet age by releasing an app. That's right an app for your phone or tablet.

So what can this app do? Well if you live in Minnesota or Washington State you can meet with a doctor over video chat and get a prescription for birth control mailed to your house. That's right, you can video chat from anywhere with an internet signal with a doctor. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and will cost you $45 plus the cost of your birth control of choice.

Not sure if this will be available in other states soon. But I have to admit that this sounds like a real time saver. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cheapskate 101: How this mom penny pinches with the best of them!

I was raised by a frugal father and a conservative mother. I once figured I'd leave the nest and go crazy spending my own money. I soon learned I was NOT a big spender after all. I could very well spend our hard earned money, I just don't!

I am a cheapskate at heart. I'm one of those people that loves thrift shops, buying half-off meat items that will expire the next day for that night's dinner and I wait until all major retailers are having their best annual sales before I spend a dollar there.

I'm not a coupon-clipper, but I do love Walmart prices hence my need to do all grocery shopping in their new neighborhood markets. I'm all about two-for-one deals and I don't mind a great hand-me-down. In fact, my children and I are usually wearing hand-me-downs. 

I'm cheap. Doesn't mean I'm not generous or that I don't enjoy nice things and the sporadic indulgence. It means I'm cheap.

Some tricks to my cheapskate trade...
  • Shop at discount stores: Big Lots, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx are pretty standard. It's hard to spend a dollar at Nordstorms when there's a Nordstrom's Rack with an amazing red tag sale. This is where being cheap doesn't mean compromising on quality. I enjoy designer brands, just not the prices that go along with them, hence, I love thrift shops. I often find slightly used designer gems for my kiddos in secondhand stores or I scour the discount stores to get to the same result.
  • Buy what's on sale. That means cooking veggies and fruits that are in season. That also means basing the week's dinner options on the best deals in the grocery aisle. I tend to buy clothing that's not in season. So I stockpile sweaters in the summer and bathing suits in the winter. Sure we can't quite wear our new buys yet, but we are getting a bargain.
  • Shop around. This can get tricky, because it isn't always convenient. For instance, I browsed back-to-school sections at countless stories, but didn't buy until well after the school year was underway. The added plus here is that if you shop a little late you often find items additionally discounted. But be careful, I tried holding out on those typical back-to-school shoe sales thinking there'd be better deals after the back-to-school craze tapered down. Turns out most sales went away, the inventory was dismal and I didn't get the best deals by waiting. 
  • Be a Groupon junkie. I know I've said this before.  But these group deals really can be the best. In fact, I've found some amazing hotel/getaway deals that can usually be replicated without a Groupon. There's a simple, but nice resort in Palm Desert I once found on Groupon that continues to offer reasonable deals without a Groupon through Make sure to earmark those great Groupon finds and check back in on hotels, restaurants and retailers even if Groupons aren't available.
  • Ask for a discount. All thrifty folks know to ask for discounts. What's the worse that can happen? Ask any and every where. Often folks are open to at least giving a 10% discount or throwing in a coupon you didn't have to begin with. Don't be afraid to ASK. I learned this tip from my hubby who just last night asked for a discount while buying an already discounted book at Barnes and Noble. This happened after a shopping spree by him for ME at Marshall's! Needless today, I went bonkers in their clearance racks.

Are you also a cheapskate at heart, too? 
Share your money saving tips with other readers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blessing of the Skinned Knee

A Mom is at the park with her small child. The child is playing with a shovel and another kid comes up and takes it away. The Mom immediately gets up and gets the shovel back for her child. How about a child who is away at summer camp and feeling homesick. They call their parents and they immediately get in the car to pick up their child.  Or how about the parent who sends the teacher an angry email because their child got a bad grade. We see and hear of these things happening all the time. Like me you may even be guilty of a few. Parents are going out of their way to ensure that their child does not feel upset, hurt, disappointed, or uncomfortable. Even though parents who are guilty of this have their hearts in the right place, what happens to these kids when they grow up and realize that feeling hurt, disappointed, or uncomfortable are a part of life? This type of parenting can lead to self-absorbed, self-entitled kids who cannot cope with the real world. A bit dramatic? Maybe? Maybe not? 

This is something that as a parent that I think about all the time. My biggest concern is raising 2 self-entitled spoiled brats who can't function in the real world. I am conscious of this and even though I do not want to be over-protective and over-indulge my kids, I find myself doing it all the time. As a parent I want to give my kids the world. Like literally, if I could give then the world and moon and stars I would. I am, at times, guilty of what Wendy Mogel calls "over-devotion". 

Wendy Mogel is a Los Angeles based clinical psychologist who is also the author of the best selling parenting book "The Blessing of the Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children". In her book she battles the issues head on saying that parents are overprotecting, overindulging and at the same time expecting our kids to be the best at everything and not teaching them to respect adults. We are pushing our kids to ace exams and make soccer goals but not teaching them life skills. From her book...

"If the pressure to be special gets too intense, children end up in the therapist’s office suffering from sleep and eating disorders, chronic stomachaches, hair-pulling, depression, and other ailments. They are casualties of their parents’ drive for perfection. It was children such as these who spurred me to look outside standard therapeutic practices for ways to help. In Judaism I found an approach that respects children’s uniqueness while accepting them in all their ordinary glory."

You can read an excerpt from the book HERE 

Mogel suggests that we embrace our children's individual talents and not expect perfection. We need to be okay with our kids being "good enough". We also need to stop pressuring ourselves as parents to be an extraordinary parents. We need to get back to making parenting a joy and not a competition. By adopting this "good enough" attitude and loving our children for their own sake and not for their achievements, you can have a more relaxed family and make everyone's life richer. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A New Latino Family Comedy is Coming to Prime Time

This fall ABC will be attempting to bring the Latino Family Comedy back to primetime television. You may recognize the lead of the show as the stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo. Following in the footsteps of Latino stand-up comedian George Lopez she is getting the chance to bring her comedy to the masses with a sitcom.

I must admit that I had never heard of Cristela Alonzo before. As "research" for this post I googled her name and watched a bunch of her stand-up comedy. She is hilarious! She is now the co-creator, writer, executive producer, co-director and star of the show "Cristela", a semi-autobiographical story about a women working to become a lawyer, living with her sister and her sisters family and her mother. In interviews Cristela talks a lot about how this show is just a show about a family who love each other who happen to be latino. I am not sure about that because from the clips I have seen the show seems to really focus on and tackle Latino issues.

When it comes to shows that depict Latino families I tend to love them and criticize them at the same time. I find myself cracking up because I can relate to the funny cultural specific situation, and on the other hand, I become critical about how this could be perpetuating stereotypes.

Cristela Alonzo is a smart and funny Latina and I am really looking forward to her new show! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adventures in Low Carb Dieting

I wouldn't say I'm a pro at low-carb dieting because I'm not, but my husband, now he's a different story. For years he's kept himself in shape with moderate exercise and reducing many of the carbs everyday folks consume all day long. I recently decided to try out this dieting regimen, and though tough, it's totally doable and here's why....

1. Breakfast is a "low-carbers" paradise. Just think bacon and eggs and who doesn't love that classic dish? Plus there's so much more to breakfast than just bacon and eggs. Breakfast is always a great dinner alternative! There's plenty to choose from such as yummy omelettes with all the fixings. Fill your omelettes with deli meats or turkey sasuage, cheese, egg whites and all the veggies your heart desires. Breakfast is hearty, delicious and easily low-carb!

2. Low-carb meal options are becoming more and more common. Back in the day it wasn't always easy to find low-carb menu options at restaurants, but in recent years so much has changed. Recently I was at a small hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that served delicious fajita lettuce wraps. There was no need to feel deprived over Mexican dinner while others enjoyed an abundance of tortillas and rice. Low-carb dishes are available and with some planning ahead you're actually able to enjoy great meals. I especially love Mediterranean restaurants serving yummy meat skewer combinations, with salads and hummus (garbanzo-based).

3. Textures can be immitated! I love mashed potatoes for the flavor and texture. A delicious cauliflower mash with pepper and butter as an alternative leaves me feeling totally satisfied. For a little crunch I love sliced cucumber or radishes in place of chips. And there's really no reason to not wrap anything in firm lettuce leafs... tacos, burgers, seafood! Simply get creative with your alternatives and you won't have to compromise on flavor or texture cravings!

Ever tried and succeeded at low-carb dieting? Share your tips with HerMamas' readers by commenting below!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Creative Homeschooling

I never would have considered myself a crafty person but being a mom really changes you. After I had my kids I found myself doing all kinds of crafty things. Now that I have become a homeschooling parent I have really let those creative juices flow. Sometimes trying to teach certain subjects to my 9 year old can be a challenge. The standard, read and regurgitate method just doesn't work well for us or for most kids. Sometimes a hands-on project is a great way to learn. I have been forced to look beyond the textbook and come up with creative ways to reinforce lessons.

Here are a few of my favorite projects over the last year....

 We had a lesson all about local government. We were learning about city councils and mayors so we decided to email our local mayor and ask if she would have time for a sit down interview. She was more than happy to meet with my daughter. They talked for almost an hour and it gave my daughter a real idea of what local government did for our community.

 Last year we were learning about different types of telescopes. For this lesson my daughter got to design her own telescope that could do anything she wanted. She designed the x-ray telescope 2000, a telescope that could see inside planets! Just a few empty water bottles, plastic film cut from a soda liter and some foil and we had a really cute project!

Last year my daughter was in 3rd grade and they studied the solar system. We used a Lite-Brite with a black piece of construction paper to recreate different constellations. 

One of our first science lessons was on different types of ecosystems. For this lesson we made our very own little ecosystem complete with sea monkeys, live plants and snails.

We have had such a blast working on projects together. When it comes to project ideas Pinterest is my BFF. I always go there first. I can usually find a project or at least inspiration for one. I also try to find projects that use things we already around the house. Most of our projects are free and our most expensive was $7.00.

You can follow along on my homeschool adventures every Wednesday on my personal blog Punk Rock Parents! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Can kids really become "parent-deaf?"

I'd heard about this occurrence so much growing up. My mother claimed we'd never listen to her out in the presence of others or that we didn't believe in her advice or wisdom. I knew for certain that couldn't be. However, I'm starting to think again...

I know now that mom was on to something. Lately our grade schooler has developed a habit of contradicting me and his father. It's usually little things, but he can't seem to agree with us on much. It is as though his new habit is to make mom and dad out to be wrong. Sometimes he's clearly mistaken and still he contradicts us. We don't take this personally. Our son is a sweetheart and at an age where he's coming into his own. Perhaps he is trying to assert his own opinions and this is his way of solidifying his identity and independence.

Another clear battle between parent and child is his ability to act as though he really is "parent-deaf!" As soon as a new school year rolls around and he's mesmerized by a new teacher suddenly everything teacher says (or does) is 100% gospel. It can be something mom or dad just said, but when we said it, it went ignored or we were according to him "wrong."

I could say something simple such as "reading twenty minutes a day is good for you" and immediately my kiddo counters with reasons why that's not true, why readying is boring and why he'll never read again ever in the history of the world. But don't let his teacher send home a reading log for 20 minutes of daily reading. Not until teacher says "reading 20 minutes a day is good for you" is reading the coolest thing since sliced bread! Suddenly he's scouring his personal library claiming there nothing to read and is enthusiastic to read every single from in his 100+ books.

Could it be? When kids come to a certain age is what we parents say just not important, and the moment someone else says it they're in accordance, compliant and non-contradictory?