Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 5 Time Wasters of 2012

Even with our busy schedules we manage to still waste a lot of time. Thanks to on-demand television, smart phones and tablets we find ourselves spending more and more time wasting time.

Here are the top 5 time wasters of 2012:
  1. Reality Television-  The amount of space in my brain that is filled with Kardashian knowledge is embarrassing. My daily motivation to workout is the 2 different episodes of TMZ that I watch while on the elliptical. I have overheard conversations where I thought women were talking about actual friends to realize that they were discussing the Real Housewives of Somewhere or Other. Thanks to channels like Bravo and TLC, I have could spend an entire day watching reality TV. You better Redneck-anize!
  2.  Twitter- You start a Twitter account and the next thing you know you are following 534 people and your twitter feed is out of control. It now takes a good 45 minutes to read each and every tweet and check out each and every twit-pic. Then an hour later there are another 1342 tweets to read. Not to mention the time it takes to write, edit and send out a tweet about how cold it is in your office. 
  3. Facebook- Now I have to admit that this is my worst time waster. I love Facebook. It makes me feel like I can stay connected to my family and friends. But I waste so much time refreshing my screen to see if someone posted a new photo or status update. And if a friend is on a trip and posting photos then it's even worse. Oh and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
  4. Pinterest- When Pinterest first came out I thought the idea was kind of dumb. Just posting pictures of things people have already posted. Now over 1000 pins later I am hooked. It is a great place to find recipes, craft and decorating ideas. But there is an endless amount of inspiration. I have spent way too many hours searching for mermaid decor for my bathroom. If I spent that much time actually working on my bathroom it wouldn't look the exact same way it did when we moved in 9 years ago.
  5. Instagram- this application changed the way people took photos with their camera phones. Now instead of just a photo of their lunch, its a photo of their lunch in a cool filter. It can be shared with millions with the push of a button. And not just shared on Instagram but on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Flickr. There are days when I see the same picture by the same person 5 different times. Despite this repetition I still find myself scrolling through my Instagram about 5 times a day. I also find myself stopping everything to Instagram the rainbow I saw in the parking lot.


I am the first to admit that I am pretty hooked on all these time wasters. They make me feel connected to the world. As a full-time working Mom of 2 it allows me to live vicariously through my family and friends.

So tell us what were your big time wasters of 2012? 


Friday, December 28, 2012

Kid-friendly New Year's Eve Activities

The new year is almost here and like usual I'm looking forward to a fun-filled family centered celebration.   Though most new year's celebrations might involve boozing and bar hopping, there's another genre of "partying" when it comes to ringing in the new year with kids in tow! There's plenty going on in and around major cities and bustling neighborhoods, so if you're still looking for something to do with your little ones come New Year's Eve, try out one of these suggestions:

Ages 0-12 (quick tip: encourage your kids to take a late afternoon nap if you want them up until mid-night or simply do some of the following activities earlier in the day when it's convenient for your little ones):
  • Game night: stay in with plenty of games, your children's favorite foods and activities the whole family will enjoy i.e NYE themed arts and crafts (make calendars), bake yummy desserts (decorate cookies) or other interactive projects. Don't forget to stock up on noisy NYE props and 2013 decorations. This is an especially fun plan for folks with very young kiddos!
  • Fireworks show: these are a must for most families since kids of all ages love fireworks. So bundle up and hit local beaches or parks in your neighborhhood for an activity the whole family will love!
Ages 6/7+
  • Ice Skating: plenty of cities have outdoor ice skating venues during the holidays. Think NYC or Downtown LA. It's simply gorgeous.  A friend of mine recently took her four kiddos ice skating to downtown LA and rode the metro (eliminating traffic and parking issues).
  • Theme parks or theme park surroundings: Disneyland is obviously a great choice for California residents, but if you don't want to take on the park, take on the surrounding shops and restaurants with kid-friendly vendors and activities i.e. Downtown Disney and Universal City Walk. Plus theme parks have some of the best NYE fireworks shows. 
  • Midnight Movie: you probably won't ring in the new year in your typical way, but a late night 3-D movie is something your kids would be sure to enjoy!
  • Glow-in-the-dark miniature golf: my 6 year old loves this and it's a super fun activity to engage in while waiting for the clock to strike midnight!
Have fun and don't forget to tell us how it goes!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Social Media Scrapbook

As much as I wish I was one of those moms who preserved every piece of art their child ever scribbled into a brightly-colored scrapbook, that's just not me. Am I the type of mom who lives with a camera in my kids faces, oh absolutely, but I probably print pics about once every two years. What I do have is a drawer filled with my kids' favorite art pieces and my photo scrapbook is Facebook and/or Instagram. I define myself as a "social media scrapbooker." Yup, I just made that one up. I'm sure to definitely annoy about 9 out of 10 Facebook friends by constantly posting photos of my kids... every cry, burp and fart! Still, that's my scrapbook. Some mommas blog for this same reason. Basically, those tiny hysterical moments whether photos or memories have to live somewhere, so why not live online. So I update my status the first time one of my kids poops in the toilet, throws up all over their carseat because they can't stop laughing or asks me to explain how babies are made! These memories in the end will be all that truly matters. When my kids seek their stories and the hubby and I ache for these moments in time, they will be trapped somewhere in this virtual world of today!

How do you keep track of it all? ... Photos, Blogging, Scrapbooking?
 

Details please?


A few days ago, my son brought home an art folder full of activities highlighting holiday traditions around the world. He loved learning about La Befana in Italy, the purpose of lighting 8 candles during Hanukah and of course the story of Santa who showers American children with presents and stocking surprises. Speaking of Santa, he was quite sneaky in our home being that he arrived right at mid-night (Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) is a pretty big deal in our culture)! My favorite part of the holidays is how it's chalk full of tradition, family gatherings and giving! There was plenty of that going on in our home...
Comment below and share your favorite 2012 holiday memories/traditions with HerMamas.com!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Break

We are only 4 days away from Christmas!

Just like all of you, we have shopping to finish, cookies to bake, tamales to eat and lots and lots of wrapping! 

We will be taking a few days off here at HerMamas.com. This is a great time to catch up on any posts you may have missed, or go back and comment on a topic that sparks your interest, like us on Facebook, tell all your friends about us or subscribe to our feed!

We will be back to regular posting after the holiday, until then........

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to get KIDS to bed without losing your marbles!

We struggled so much with our oldest when it came to bedtime. He had every excuse under the sun to stay up. He cried, crawled into our bed, whined and complained, every single night. He was probably about 5 years old when we finally started to see less power struggles around bedtime. At that point he was the oldest of three and if we didn't get his bedtime routine under control, we'd soon be living in a madhouse!

NO! You can't wear PJs on your head!
So what changed? Everything! We eliminated late naps and committed to a bedtime routine. Over time and with patience our children soon understood what to expect at bedtime, especially our oldest.  In our home, every child goes down at separate times (20-30 mins apart). We give them each their one-on-one attention. We snuggle them into bed after pjs/teeth bushing/diaper changes and make sure to say a prayer with each. My son really enjoys praying together and a quick snuggle. He also likes having a cup of water handy. When the kids are unusually wild, I read them a book to calm their brains and bodies. That's our simple nightly routine, and though simple, the key is that we are consistent. 

Check out our favorite responses from HerMamas who have defeated the bedtime blues: 

  • Scared Kiddo? If they say they're scared of the boogeyman or cucuy, you can make repellent simply by using a water filled spray bottle and spraying around the door, bed, closet, etc. Works every time!
  • Try the 3 B's: Bath, Brush, and Book. First the bath, then after the pjs are on, time to brush teeth, and then read a book. If they're really tired, pick a short story, if they're really wild; pick a big book with a lot of little stories. On those nights, you might read for 30 mins. That's usually long enough to settle them down and they'll drift off pretty quickly. Maybe use a nightly checklist to mark off the 3 B's.
  • Take your time: Give kids a 30 mins. warning and then a 20 mins. then 10 then 5, leave soothing music on (Pandora is great because it will shut off after an hour or so; they also have kids stations for toddlers or older), supply them with a mini sports bottle with water (thirst is a usual complaint at bedtime), provide a night light for them. To avoid them from getting out of bed tell them "I will be in in 15 mins. to check on you."
  • Stick to a routine NIGHTLY: i.e. dinner, bath, dance party, story and bed.

Everything above has one thing in common: a ROUTINE that addresses kids varying needs, likes or wants. Find the angle that's best for your little one and be consistent. Bedtime challenges are completely normal. It'll take some adapting to find what routine your child enjoys. Don't throw in the towel too soon and try out some of the bedtime rituals suggestioned above or create your own. Soon enough you'll find your child is going to bed easily and effortlessly!

Good Luck HerMamas!
Comment below and share your bedtime routines with us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Should Toys Be Gender Neutral?

Recently a little girl from New Jersey went out to buy her little brother an Easy-Bake Oven. She was upset to find out that these toys only came in pink and purple colors with flowers. She felt the ovens were geared toward only girls and she began a petition to the Hasbro company to make the Easy-Bake Oven gender neutral.

Stores and advertising make it pretty obvious that toys are usually packaged based on gender. Wander the toy section of most stores and you will find one bright pink aisle and one dark blue aisle. The purpose of the Easy-Bake Oven petition was for Hasbro to make their product in gender neutral colors so both boys and girls can play with it.

Here are my thoughts on this subject. I don't think toys should only come in neutral colors. (Imagine if everything was in greens, browns and yellows?) In our house we try to teach our girls that colors are for everyone. Pink is not just for girls and blue is not just for boys. My husband even owned a pair of pink converse to drive the point home. We did not limit any type of toys or even clothes for our girls. If they wanted a toy car that's what we bought them. We bought them clothes from both the boy and girl section. It wasn't unusual to see my oldest daughter in camouflage shorts and a blue t-shirt  That was just what she liked to wear. My youngest has much more pink and tutu's in her wardrobe. That is just her style. In their playroom they have a drawer filled with My Little Pony's and another filled with Hot Wheels.

Of course the idea of things being gender specific creeps in our house thanks to television commercials and classmates, but we do our best to remind our daughters that "yes girls can play with Star Wars Legos and yes boys can play with an Easy-Bake Oven."

We want to hear your thoughts!
 What are your thoughts on gender based toys and marketing? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

As parents, the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School shook us to our core. The emotions it stirred in us range from anger to hope for change. Today we share Elissa and Irene's reactions to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

Elissa L.

This time of the year is usually filled with hope and joy. After the tragedy that happened on Friday in Connecticut many are left with a feeling of loss and sadness. Personally, I cannot find a way to really comprehend what happened. One mentally unstable person walked into an elementary school and in a few minutes changed everything. As the news unfolded, I cried as my heart broke for the families and I became scared. Scared for my child's safety. This act seems so random. The not knowing why makes it even more terrifying. I dreaded Sunday night, knowing that there was school the next day. With only 2 and a half days until winter break I brought up the idea to my husband about keeping our daughter home. Our daughter who is the same age as most of those children who were killed at Sandy Hook. My husband understood my feelings, but he also knew that eventually we would have to send her to school. He reminded me that as much as I want to, we can't keep our kids in a bubble.

The Monday after the shooting I dropped my daughter off at school. I smiled at her, hugged her close and kissed her head. She walked into her school with her little rolling backpack. She still had no idea about what had happened, in a school, just like hers, to kids, just her age. I got back into my car, looked up to see the flag at half mast and just lost it. It took everything I had not to park the car and run and grab my daughter and keep her next to me. I cried because I was afraid to send my daughter to school. This is how many parents felt that Monday morning. This is so wrong.

The fear may seem irrational and maybe I'm overreacting, but to me it is very real. I know that the fear will eventually subside. It will not consume my mind. I will be able to pick up my daughter from school without dropping to my knees, thanking God for her safety.

Irene Q. 

Newtown, Connecticut really is a new town today. You never know what will change your life and why? But there's nothing more incomprehensible than what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday. It's what happens all too often in our country, but at this magnitude, the world suddenly takes notice. No child, no parent, no human being for that matter, should lose their life in such an unnatural and unjust way. I rack my brain thinking about what I can do to change this for all children. 

And I, like Elissa, dreaded taking my 6 year old to school the first morning back after this tragic event.   I was in contact with his counselor and his teacher. In my subconscious maybe I thought they'd have the magical cure assuring me how this will never happen again. Truth it, there is no magical answer no matter how much I wish there was. 

What I do know however, is that I refuse to live in fear. I am faith-based and must believe in goodness above all else. I must believe in the power of prayer and teach my children to be brave and strong. So I took my son to school and rattled off my usual good-bye: "I love you. God bless you. Have a great day." Then I watched him excitedly and innocently run into school thinking about those children who will never get a chance to do such a simple thing again! 

My heart breaks for the families that have suffered such an imaginable loss. Today, I love my children even more presently, more fully. I give them the strongest of love hoping it reaches far beyond them and into the souls of those sweet angels that left our world too soon. I stand up for peace and pray for the healing of those left to mourn. And try my best to remember that I cannot put a question mark where God has placed a period. 

We are not alone in the emotions we are feeling. Please feel free to share yours with HerMamas.com. 
In some way, we know that sharing our feelings will heal everyone's hearts. 
Together, we can find solutions. 
Together, we can make this world better so that those that lost their lives didn't do so in vain.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Let's get shopping and shipping, there's still time!


So today is known as "Brown Monday" meaning it's National Free Shipping Day and most online retailers offer free shipping guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. I'd never heard of such a day, but recently got "schooled" on the whole online shopping craze. A great friend from college called online shopping "her life!" She's passionate about it as her career and who are we kidding, women love to SHOP! Whether that's shopping for deals, shopping for fun or shopping for the holidays! So if you're in need of last minute gifts make sure to get clicking online today.

Another tip: make sure to check out "cash back" sites like Ebates.com or Shopathome.com. Both offer cash back options from most major retailers as long as you click through their site to get to your retailer of choice - it's that easy!

Finally, most HerMamas.com readers recommend shopping Amazon.com! Sounds like many often shop Amazon for the convenience and usual deals. In fact, just last week I nabbed an iPad case 33% off retail with FREE SHIPPING!

So there you have it, for those celebrating Christmas, let's get shopping and shipping, there's still time to shop from home and get great deals delivered to your doorstep.
Image from Ebates.com
Click here for more info. on Brown Monday and here for more info. on cash back retail sites.    

Join us and share your money and time-saving shopping tips by commenting below!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Confessions of a Non Mom - Guest Post by Lisette Rodriguez


When I tell women that I don’t want to have children, the reactions I receive are varied.  Some women are extremely supportive.  Some look at me as though I am an alien creature with a third eyeball.  Some express their sympathy as if I am somehow lost.  Others express confusion, as though it is a choice they had no idea they could make.  The truth is, early on, I didn’t know it was an option for me either.

I spent most of my early adult life living up to the expectations of others: family, friends and society in general.  I came to a point, in my late twenties, that I thought I had it all.  I had an education, a successful career, a husband and I owned a home and a shiny new car.  I did everything I was “supposed” to do and the next logical step was to be a mom.  But something in me held back. 

Lisette visiting Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
My decision was a combination of many factors.  As the child of a single mother I watched my mom struggle to the point of exhaustion and even illness.  As the oldest child in my family I had a tremendous amount of responsibility early on in caring for my younger siblings.  As a young wife, much of what I wanted for myself was put on hold.  And so despite my skill in living up to the expectations of others, having a child was a step I just could not bring myself to take.

Do I have my doubts?  Sure.  At thirty six the finality of my decision wears down on me.  My biological clock is ticking so loud it makes my head hurt.  I wonder if I will ever truly realize my potential as a woman without giving birth to a child.  I wonder if I will ever experience the pure, unconditional, joyous love that I see in the face of mothers when they look at their children. 

Despite all of my doubts, I have above all made the commitment to be true to myself and live only according to my expectations.  I no longer have a husband and I don’t own a home or a shiny new car.  But I must say I’ve never been happier. 
Lisette during a volunteer excursion to Africa!

Lisette Rodriguez is a successful professional who works for a California University. She is a vibrant free spirit, an avid Salsa dancer and traveler. She's dedicated herself to serving others and making our world better! Lisette's commitment to staying true to her wants is truly admirable! Thank you for sharing your story with us, HerMama!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elf on the Shelf - Cute or Creepy?

Do you know all about this holiday tradition called "Elf on the Shelf"? It is a new holiday tradition that many families do every year. The back story is about this little elf from the North Pole. Each family adopts and names their own elf. The elf has one job, to spy on your kids and report back to Santa. The problem with this little guy is the mischief he seems to find himself in while everyone is asleep. Every morning kids rush around the house looking for their elf and to see what he has gotten into during the night.


photo by Morgan S.
This is such a cute idea. A great way to keep the kids excited about Christmas and to remind them to be good! I know a few families that have a lot of fun with this tradition. Kids wake up to find their elf had made a mess in the kitchen, or unrolled all the toilet paper in the bathroom. Oh silly little elf.

photo by Morgan S.

We don't have our own Elf in our house. There is just something about this elf that kind of gives me the creeps. 
He gives me a stalker vibe. 

Things like this aren't helping....


photo by Morgan S.


And then there is this... This is not for kids! I repeat, not for kids....


So tell us, do you have an Elf on the Shelf in your house? What kind of mischief has he gotten into in your home?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

IUD Issues

After my second daughter was born it was time to think about birth control. My husband and I knew that we didn't want another baby right away. In fact we were not sure if we would do the whole pregnancy thing ever again. But we were not 100% sure we were done.

I have been on birth control on and off since I was 14 years old. In the past I had done birth control pills for most of my teens and early 20's. After my first daughter I used the Nuva Ring for about a year. Now that I was a 30-something Mom of 2, I knew that remembering to take a pill everyday and finding time to get the prescription refilled every month was going to be a challenge.  I loved the Nuva ring, but with the health insurance I had, it was going to be pricey. I started researching different types of birth control. I needed....
  • Something that I did not have to remember to take daily
  • Something that was long-term
  • Something that I could stop or remove if we wanted to have another child
  • Something that was cheap
After reading articles, talking with friends and with my gynecologist, I decided that the IUD was the best way to go. It met all my requirements and I was told it had little to no side effects. I had to get the hormone IUD because my doctor did not use the non-hormonal type, but he assured me that none of his patients ever had any issues.

That was almost 2 years ago and since then I have experienced the following:
  • I was told my periods would lighten and eventually go away. HAHAHA! Not for me. About 6 months into having the IUD I had a heavy period, for 3 months straight. No joke. According to my doctor this can be a side effect. 
  • My normal cycles are very irregular. Instead of a 28-day cycle, mine went from 35-50 day cycles. Now with my IUD I have a 14-day cycle. I am on my period every 2 weeks.
  • Instead of a lighter flow I have a super heavy flow.
  • I had never had cramps before and now it feels like there is a war going on in my uterus every 2 weeks!
  • PMS! I have become the stereotypical woman who goes crazy during "her time". I am pretty mild mannered and laid back but when I am PMS-ing everything people say annoys me. Okay not people, but mostly my husband. It is a real change in my personality and I don't like it. 

So why after all this do I continue with my IUD. Well to be honest I am cheap. The IUD cost me a total of $20.00 for 5 years of birth control. And it is effective. My husband and I have given ourselves a few more years to decide if we want to add to our family. 

When we are 100% certain we are done having kids, I will schedule his vasectomy.    

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Get Low - A Photography Tip

During this time of the year you find yourself snapping pictures to capture all the fun memories. We are all trying to capture that perfect picture of our perfect children.

Here is a great tip...

Get low.

When you are taking pictures of small kids get down to their level and then take the photo.

Here is a picture taken standing straight up...




Here is the same photo taken by getting down to the same level as the kids....




What a big difference getting low makes!



Happy Photo Taking! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Gifts - How much is it too much?

It happens so fast. I start each holiday season with a reasonable list - maybe 3 or 4 things for each kid. Then while shopping I find something my oldest daughter would just love. So I buy it for her and then to be fair I have to add another gift to my youngest daughters list. Then I stress out and think "Is 4 presents enough?"  The next thing I know there are 32 gifts under the tree just for the kids. A few big ticket items and lots of smaller things.

I try so hard to keep the list short and to fill it with things that the kids need. We even try to keep it toy-free. Then there is something that creeps in when I am shopping. This is horrible to admit but I kind of feel that the more gifts I give to my kids, the better parent I am. The happier my kids are on Christmas morning is determined by how many gifts they get to open.

HOW DID I GET HERE?

As a parent I do my best to teach my kids the true meaning of the holidays, to teach the lesson that it is "better to give than to receive." Yet I was stressing myself (and my bank account) out with my ever-growing shopping list. And then year after year I have to keep topping myself.

This needs to stop. I am sending mixed messages to my kids by telling them the season is about giving and then buying them a truck load of gifts. As a parent I want to buy my children everything their heart desires. But how much is too much?

We want to hear from you about this topic......

Do you have a "game plan" when it comes to buying holiday gifts for the children in your life?
 Do you make sure that everything is fair and even? 

Leave us a comment!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gluten Free Diet for Kids - Guest Post by Jackie Guerrero


I first had concerns about my 4 year old daughter, Janelle's health when she began experiencing stomach pains. I thought it was due to her severe acid reflux. Since she was an infant she had always suffered from acid reflux  We would take her to her gastroenterologist, but she'd complain about it still bothering her. Medications were not really working (she was fussy, lots of gas and rubbed her chest and tummy a lot). The doctors didn't really change her medications nor did any further testing. We didn't know to ask for any either. We felt like specialists thought we were over-exaggerating. But as Janelle began to talk, she started to complain about her tummy hurting every night. As a mother, you hate to see your little one hurting. I thought maybe she was lactose intolerant, so I stopped giving her dairy but that didn't really help. I took her to see her pediatrician where her blood was drawn and she was tested for other allergies. Her pediatrician also took an x-ray of her stomach and found a lot of bowel stuck in her intestines L. She recommended increasing her fiber. A few days later she called and stated that Janelle tested positive for one of the celiac tests and recommended she go on a gluten free diet.

Celiac…Huh? Gluten free…what’s that? These were the thoughts that ran through my head while my doctor informed me about my daughter’s blood tests results. Before I even got off the phone I was already searching google! I mean don’t we all go to the internet for answers? (but, that's not always the best thing to do, lol).  Immediately, I was overwhelmed by everything I was reading. I would have to drastically change my daughter’s diet. No more bread, pasta, cereal, cake, cookies, fast food, pizza and even certain brands of vitamins; all my daughter’s favorite meals. What would I feed her? I would have to bring her own food to birthday parties and family gatherings and no more school lunch? I continued to read on and came across Celiac disease and thought…she has a disease! I was literally having an anxiety attack at work. 

Celiac disease is a lifelong disease of the digestive system. People with this disease cannot consume food with gluten. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and grains. Wheat is the second most common ingredient found in food next to sugar. If consumed, a person’s body will react to the gluten by damaging the villi in the small intestine. By damaging the villi, one’s body will not absorb all the vitamins, nutrients and minerals it needs to stay healthy. Some signs and symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss and irritability.

So after my anxiety attack I looked for a restaurant with a gluten free menu because I had no idea what to cook for dinner. So we went to Red Robin Restaurant since I read online they had a gluten free menu. Without thinking about it, my husband, oldest daughter and I ordered hamburgers while we ordered Janelle grilled chicken breasts and sweet potato fries. Yumm…right?
Restaurant selection on night 1 of a new regimen

Wrong! My daughter was so upset because she couldn't have a burger and fries like us. We felt so bad and decided if she had to go on a special diet, we all had to. The next morning, I went to Trader Joe's and bought everything I could find gluten free. And let me tell you it can get pretty expensive. I learned that there were other stores that had a good variety of gluten free items. 

Some of the good ones are:
  •     Fresh N Easy
  •    Ralphs
  •    Sprouts

Many healthy and delicious foods are gluten free: fresh meats, poultry, fish, beans, fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables, and most dairy products. At first, it was a little difficult; I began to go to the extreme with this gluten free diet. I was constantly stressing out about Janelle having to always eat different foods than everyone else, not allowing cross contamination (gluten foods touching non-gluten foods, which can happen in the manufacturing process and/or at home) and stressing about her accidently eating gluten. I thought I had to make everything from scratch. I bought gluten free flour and made my own cake, frosting, granola bars and mac-n-cheese from scratch. I even considered making my own bread for her because the bread at Trader Joe's was super hard! It took a lot of time, patience and second batches. But the important part is that my daughter ate it and she liked it! She was young enough not to notice and didn't even ask for pizza for about 3 weeks!
       
After a while, I started to notice how much is out there for gluten intolerant individuals. Many restaurants now have gluten free menus such as BJs, Applesbees, Chilis, Red Brick Pizza and Red Robin. I found cereal (Chex, Fruity Pebbles, Rice Krispies), granola bars, pancake mix and even cookies and cake mix! I was super excited because I found there are a good variety of foods out there that were gluten free, I just had to look. I even found some frozen packaged shrimp fajitas made by Ports O’Call in San Pedro! Found that in the freezer aisle at Stater brothers - it’s delicious! It became easier, I just had to change the way I cooked and found out I didn't necessarily have to buy everything gluten free, just take the extra time to read nutrition labels (many gluten-free items are labeled) and cook more fresh meals. I began planning my weekly meals, using grocery lists and was paying more attention to what my entire family was eating. I actually began to like cooking. No more last minute meals or eating out. I became organized!

Homemade creations


I noticed my daughter feeling a little better, complaining less about her tummy hurting. I even felt healthier, energized, no more stomach aches from eating, and my hubby lost 10 lbs! I began to not worry so much about the stress of what we were going to eat and where I was going to buy food. It took about 2 months but I got the hang of things.

Luckily, after a visit with Janelle's gastroenterologist, turns out she is not gluten intolerant, but instead she was diagnosed with bad constipation L We went back to our regular diet. I was relieved but at the same time a little sad because I had put so much time and effort into our new lifestyle. But what I got out of this whole experience is

1. eat healthier 
2. pay attention to what I’m feeding my family 
3. always trust your instincts when having concerns about your child. 

To this day, we don’t know how long she suffered with stomach pain but now know to push the doctors when we, her parents, know that there is something wrong. We know best!

Please consult with your child’s doctor if you have concerns about your child’s health and/or before placing your child on a gluten free diet.
Enjoying Gluten Free Mac N Cheese
Jackie and Janelle:  Thank you for sharing your story with HerMamas.com!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Juggling a Career (and all the other stuff) - We Want to Hear from YOU.


All moms work. Some work in an office, some work at home, some work 70 hour weeks, while others work part-time, some make the big bucks and others volunteer their time. Whatever they do, they have to find the best way to juggle it all.

In this series we are going to have different moms in different careers give us at HerMamas a look into how they juggle all their responsibilities.

First up......
Irene Q.

As a working mom, I've been struck by the typical ups and downs of having to balance my relationship, career and family. One area where I've found a sense of balance is in my line of work. Now like parenting, what I've chosen as a career isn't always glamorous, but it makes me feel great and there are plenty of perks! 


I work for a small non-profit. My office is small enough that there's a lot of support in a very team-oriented setting. The leadership is clear that there should be a healthy work/life balance.  And more importantly, I work with youth in a position to empower them which is truly fulfilling. All in all, my career works for me even though it does entail being a very busy momma! And truthfully, I've been to the point where I feel guilty for being away at work missing critical moments with my children!

In fact, I know a lot of moms have mentioned experiencing mother's guilt because of the career they've chosen. Say they're in a career that is particularly demanding, yet it's rewarding. It's hard to turn away from professional fulfillment but sometimes even harder to be away from your children. 

So HerMamas how did you pick your career and how do you make it ALL work?

And for our awesome non-moms & mothers-to-be how have you gone about deciding on a career path that might allow you to juggle it all while staying true to what is fulfilling to YOU?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Co-Ed Baby Shower Ideas

Crissy's Baby ShowerWhy should the ladies have all the fun? When it comes to a baby shower it can be fun to go against a traditional ladies only shower and opt for a co-ed baby shower. For both of my baby showers we went the co-ed route. My husband and I decided that celebrating a new family member should be a family affair. We had 2 really amazing parties that I will never forget.

Here are some ideas for a fun co-ed baby shower that everyone will enjoy.

Games

Typical baby shower games can be a bit girly. Here are a few games that everyone will enjoy...
  • Baby themed Pictionary. Divide the party into 2 teams and have the teams draw and guess any and all baby related things! 
  • Pin the sperm on the egg. Give everyone their own paper sperm to decorate as they wish. Have a giant "egg" with a target. Blindfold each party goer and see who can get the closest to the target. 
  • Diaper Dash. Have a baby sized doll and a diaper. Play Guys against Girls and see who can diaper the baby the fastest, blindfolded!
  • Raffle Drawing. On your invitation let everyone know that there will be raffle prizes. By bringing a small pack of diapers or a pack of wipes they can get tickets and be entered in the raffle. Diapers earn more tickets than wipes. Then have a drawing for a few prizes! (We did this for both showers and did not have to buy diapers for the first year!
  • Poker Tournament. For our first baby we had a big Texas Hold Em tournament. There was a buy in and we had a ton of people play. The winner got half the prize with the other half goes into the baby's college fund! 

Prizes

The scented candles and potpourri jars are not a hit with the male part of your party. Here are a few ideas for some fun prizes, everyone will want to win: 
  • Beach Days Prize - a beach towel, magazines, sand toys, sunblock, and a small beach chair. 
  • Movie Night- DVD's or a gift card to Red Box, popcorn, candy, Red Vines, and a nice soft throw blanket.
  • Romantic Dinner Kit- pasta, pasta sauce, Parmesan cheese, candles and candle holders, and a Kenny G CD.
Would you throw a co-ed baby shower? Or do you like the traditional ladies-only showers? 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Ellen Show's 12 Days of Giveaways: there's still a chance for YOU to win too!

Arriving to the Studios

Back in May I was a guest on the Ellen Show (thanks to my 13 year old niece)! That show was amazing and just when I was coming down from the high of so much laughter, dancing, and expecting to win some neat giveaway; Ellen announces that she'd like to have THE WHOLE AUDIENCE back for 12 days of giveaways (1 of her 12 holiday giveaway shows). If Ellen's show ever revealed this behind the scene's moment you'd think we'd all just won cars or something. It was absolute madness. I suppose it was a glimpse of what was to come!

This photo doesn't do the stage justice, so make sure to tune in for the real deal!
On Monday, Dec. 3rd I got my chance to experience a once in a lifetime adventure! Now some might think, "Well can't you just buy whatever it is you win?" But where's the fun in that and if there's one thing that's fun... that's the one hour tapping of the ELLEN SHOW (which is actually a day-long experience).

Some of the highlights:
  • Ellen Show brownies: these monsters are the best in town.
  • Getting to ride around in golf carts while we tour the amazing Warner Bros. studios: During both of our visits we watched an advanced movie screening which entails being carted-around!
  • The soundtrack: holiday music is blaring, but also a ton of great music by the "house" DJ Tony! Dancing is a HUGE part of the Ellen Show and my niece and I make a great duo. We were even called out by the hype man who said, "now, these girls are fantastic - do this everybody!" Yea, I guess I still have it :)
  • The Giveaways, obviously: There's always a GAG, so you're truly surprised when the gifts roll out!
  • The big reveal: Huge wrapped gifts/boxes are wheeled out and the audiences' prizes are revealed ONE BY ONE! The energy during this moment is out of this world!
  • THE CROWD'S REACTION: Now this has to be the BEST part - everyone going wild over giveaways with so much excitement, hysteria, and a little outrageous-ness too! I'm a very energetic freak, so you'll hopefully get to see my crazy reactions unfold when you tune in!
All checked in and ready to WIN!
On that note, I haven't revealed too many specifics because I'd like to invite you to check out the actual episode today at 4pm on Channel 4 (Los Angeles Listing)! Watching the show will reveal exactly what we won and HOW! Don't miss it!

But on an even better note: there's still a chance for YOU to win too! The Ellen Show has contests happening everyday so viewers at home can win whatever was featured on that day's show, so follow her on instagram or visit the show's website for those details and GOOD LUCK!

Toys for Tots
By the way, my 13 year old niece who signed us up for tickets didn't actually get to go to any of the shows because she had to be over 14, but after our big winnings she's headed on a $300.00 shopping spree (sponsored by those of us that did go because of her)! Isn't the CYCLE of giving great? It's so great our show's audience was able to donate to Hurricane Sandy Relief and Toys for Tots during our visit. To me the ability to give back while on the show made the experience truly fulfilling! Generosity is a sweet, sweet gift that all can enjoy! So catch today's ELLEN show and experience the   giving, the dancing and all the neat surprises this momma just experienced! And don't forget to enter for your chance to win!

#ImAtEllen #12daysofgiveaways #blessed #grateful



Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanks!

Congratulations to our last giveaway winner.......
Erin

Thank you for entering our weekly November gift card giveaway! We had such a great time over the last month reading all your comments and emails. We have some of the most intelligent, funny and good looking readers! 

The weather is finally cooling down and the holidays are in full swing. As we close out 2012, we don't have any plans to slow down. We have a lot of great articles in store for you!

If you haven't already, like us on Facebook, subscribe to the blog, and/or forward a link to all your friends!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Vaccinations... Yea or Nay?

So many different opinions this day in age about vaccinations. Parents can decide to not administer them at at all, wait until their child is older, proceed as recommended or simply space shots out.

In the past, my own opinion was to proceed as usual which has been a debate in my home since my husband is practically against cough syrup. With that being said, we skip out on flu shots most years, but when it comes to vaccinations, I typically went ahead with the schedule my doctor recommended.

However, after our last round of "12-monthers" I'd like to now space any future vaccines my children need. My son recently had 6 shots administered during one visit. With him being my third child, I assumed I'd done that for the others and proceeded. I agreed to 6 shots thinking it would help him to be done with what seems like "torture" for those few minutes, but after the fact, I realized how hard it was on him. To be honest, I hated the whole idea of having to hold him down & watch him be injected 6 separate times. When are we going to advance the science of vaccines that they are given in oral form and 100% safe? That would be ideal! 

Until then, when it comes to vaccinations, it's your call as a parent, but this mom likes the idea of spacing.

We recommend a discussion with your doctor where you get to ask questions before any vaccines are considered and then choose a route you're comfortable with. We asked our readers their opinions and we got a wide range of answers....
  • Administer as recommended. They're essential and research doesn't support skipping out on shots for the true benefit of your child's health.
  • Space out vaccinations (only two-to-three per visit)
  • Make sure your child isn't ill at the time of administration
  • Watch for fevers or other reactions post shots 
  • Wait until your child is older or do not administer vaccines at all. Now with all the recent buzz about the idea that vaccines may be linked to autism (for instance), I see why immunizations can feel scary.
As parents, we'll all make plenty of decisions like whether to vaccinate or not and should have faith that what we choose is best for our child's well-being, but always make sure to touch base with your pediatrician about your options. In fact, below you'll find a basic vaccination schedule to consider researching before the actual appointments. With everything medical, there are are often risks and side effects to consider. Knowing facts prior to an appointment prepares you to ask better questions once in front of your child's doctor:


Comment and tell us what's your take on vaccinations?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Car Seat Regulations

It feels like car seat laws are always changing. Sometimes it's hard to remember when your kids can move from rear-facing to front-facing, or from convertible seat to a booster seat. And when can they just sit in a regular ol' car seat with a regular ol' seat bealt. No worries, we are here to help!

*please note that these regulations apply to California only! 

Rear-Facing Car Seat

  • These are for newborn to 1 year old and 20 pounds.
  • If your child is 9 months old and 23 pounds they still need to be rear-facing. 
  • If your child is 16 months old and 18 pounds they still need to be rear-facing.  

Front-Facing Car Seat

  • These can be a convertible or combination seat. 
  • Child must be 1 year old and at least 20 pounds.
  • Child should be in a 5 point harness until they reach the top weight and height for your car seat.




Booster Seats (with back or without)

  • For children under 8 years old OR shorter than 4 foot 9 inches tall, use a booster with a high back if your car's back seat does not have a head rest or is below your child's head. 
  • A lap and shoulder belt must be used.
  • Use only if the seat belt fits your child properly.
Installing a car seat can be a challenge. Did you know that many local California Highway Patrol Offices have lessons that you can attend that will teach you how to properly install a car seat? Call your local office for more information. 

Safety is a top priority for all parents. 
What are some of your safety concerns when it comes to your kids? 

A special thanks to HerMama Regina B. for suggesting this topic. 
If there is any topic you would like to read about (or write about!) please send an email to elissa@hermamas.com or leave us a post on our Facebook Page

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Countdown to the Holidays

In our house we celebrate Christmas. As soon as the calendar turns to December, I am bombarded with "How many days until Christmas?" A few years ago I came up with a way to deal with the constant question.   Something that would give my kids a visual of exactly how many days until Santa touches down.

The Advent Calendar originally began in Germany as a way to countdown to December 24th. This was exactly what I needed. You can find the cardboard kind with a chocolate behind to door at most craft stores. I know my kids don't need anymore candy, and they would not do well with having to share one piece of candy so I do something a little bit different.

You can find many good templates by searching "free printable advent calendar." Now you can get creative. It is what is behind the "doors" that you can really personalize.

Here are a few ideas...
  • put a family photo behind each door
  • leave a love note for your children
  • leave a fun Christmas fact behind the door
  • add a positive quote for the day
  • add a daily holiday activity (this is what I'm doing this year!)
So tell us.
 How do you countdown for the holidays? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is it possible to keep the romance alive?

I sometimes sit back and think about how I've hit the jackpot, I know the following may sound horrible, but then there are times I want more from my relationship. My husband still opens the car door, he's a total hands on pop and actually washes dirty clothes and mops filthy floors. He's the kind that brings home a random bouquet of flowers or buys me that outrageously expensive gift out of nowhere, but here I am sometimes feeling like the romance is gone.

Believe me, I get how crazy that sounds! Bare with me though. I have three kids and in the last 10 years I've felt pregnant about 80% of the time. I know that doesn't add up, but that's how I feel. Maybe that's because I often feel like I give about 80% of me to the kids! I suppose I miss that intense connection that once came from sharing my life with only ONE soul mate. Today, there's 4 human beings wanting my attention and without intending it, those three gorgeous little kids of mine WIN OUT! I find there's less and less husband and wife time and plenty of time spent talking kids, cleaning up after kids, shopping for kids, bonding with kids, dealing with kids... enjoying the kids. Now, that in itself is a BLESSING! It's all I've ever dreamed of, but that doesn't mean there's balance. And if there's one thing I strive for that's balance. So I ask how do I balance a romantic one-on-one life with my husband, a loving relationship with ME, and a fulfilling mother and child bond with three kids?

Please chime in! 

Is there really a secret to having it all... especially that romantic spontaneous relationship that ignited the relationship of two people who eventually become a mommy and daddy team?

And don't forget commenting below enters you in this week's giveaway ($25 Target gift card up for grabs)!