Thursday, January 31, 2013

De-Stress (because this IS hard)!

Like a lot of parents, I often share the cute pics, the funny stories and typically count my blessings, but parenting is hard. It can be outrageously hard. It is one of the hardest and greatest things all bundled up into one. But with so much going on as parents, if we don't take time to de-stress we'll surely burn out.

Before kids, I always thought I'd know how to perfectly handle every situation with my children. Of course I pictured having adorably-witty, academically-gifted, chronically polite and impeccably clean children that miraculous governed themselves. My kids are sweethearts and they're complicated at the same time. Turns out, they're human. 

Kids are messy, unintentionally ungrateful and completely high-maintenance - as it should be. So what I thought was supposed to happen before having kids is less of a picture perfect process and more of a combination of power struggles and compromise. It's a ton of tantrums with plenty of sweet kisses in between. It's learning as we go and adjusting to become better. After all, us parents are humans too!

We can't be super parents and we shouldn't have to be. But for all parents, it's critical to take time to breath. When we begin to feel overwhelmed, time away from our children to de-stress is super useful. Now it can be as simple as a few quiet moments every week. Maybe take time to sit in silence, do the little things you enjoyed while childless and take care of yourself. For me, de-stressing is as simple as spending an afternoon alone at a coffee shop. There I can unwind by reading, writing, and refocusing on just how amazing motherhood is. 

With newborns, de-stressing could mean taking a longer than usual shower (and that's often all the time you'll get away from a rightfully demanding baby). As kids grow up, maybe you de-stress with a good book & bubble bath (alone), talking with other moms, skimming (for articles of support) or exercise.

Find the things that help you de-stress and refocus as a parent, heck, as a person. Because parenting can be switched out with a lot of things (i.e. profession, personal relationships). De-stressing aides all areas of your life. Choose a method that works for you and commit to doing that at least once weekly. Because motherhood, like life, will have its ups and downs, but with a little calm and self-care, those downs will feel less overwhelming while the ups come to be truly savored.

How do you de-stress and how do you know when it's time to? We want to hear your tips.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kids Going Under the Knife to Avoid Bullying

What would you do if your child was being teased over big ears, a big nose or buck teeth? Some families are turning to plastic surgery as a solution.

A 14 year old girl from Georgia was being teased and bullied since she was 10 years old over her ears. She was called Dumbo and other horrible names. A non-profit organization called Free Baby Face Foundation stepped in. They paid over $40,000.00 for this young girl to undergo otoplasty (surgery to pin ears back) as well as a nose job. This same organization paid for a 7 year old (1st grader!) to also have otoplasty to stop the teasing she was suffering from.

The Free Baby Face Foundation has come under fire for using funds to give plastic surgery to young children to avoid bullying. These kind of organizations were founded to help children with physical deformities get the plastic surgery they need. Instead we are seeing an increase in plastic surgery in order to stop teasing and bullying.

When I first read about these parents taking such extremes to stop bullying I was outraged. First off I don't think that non-profit organizations should be spending money, that was most likely donated, for this. That money and those organizations should only use funds for legitimate physical deformities that impair a child.  I mean what kind of message does this send to our kids. Shouldn't we be teaching our children that it is in the inside that counts? Shouldn't we teach our children that looks and appearances are not important? By solving teasing with plastic surgery are we creating a generation of kids who will look at plastic surgery as commonplace as a teeth cleaning?

On the other hand I have 2 daughter. And this might not be exactly the same as big ears or nose but my oldest has always had a really bad eczema. She always has rashes over most of her body. It is noticeable. So far other kids will sometimes ask her about it, but she hasn't been teased about it. But I know that most likely, that day is coming. Just the idea of my little girl being tormented by other kids for something she was born with is heartbreaking. If there was a cosmetic surgery that could stop it I have to admit, I would look into it.

Voice your opinion! What do you think about this new trend?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Always a Bridesmaid - Guest Post by Diana Rasbot

With summer around the corner, wedding-planning season is in full effect. At we wanted to feature one young woman's journey to the alter, but just when we thought we were going to read about cake tastings and dress fittings, we come to find out that above all wedding-planning comes down to friendships and a support system (oh, and a whole lot of dresses too).
Here's Diana's Story:

When I was asked to contribute to to talk about my journey as a bride, I couldn’t help but think about how I’ve also enjoyed my journey as a bridesmaid. If you were to look in my closet right now you’d see a David’s Bridal explosion! Dresses in all hues from classic black, navy, purple, poolteal, horizon, olive – you name it, I probably have it. It’s such a beautiful thing, and quite an honor to be a part of someone’s big day. And as a bridesmaid and Maid of Honor I’ve made it my mission to make the bride feel she is having the most amazing day of her life.

Three of my dearest friends, friends I met through Hermanas Unidas at UCLAgot engaged shortly after my November 2011 engagement. It was a domino effect: I got engaged before Thanksgiving, my friend got engaged just a few days later, my other friend got engaged on Christmas and my other friend on New Year’s Eve. You can imagine our excitement. Now, while every girl wants to be the center of attention during this journey, I didn’t experience that with my girls. In fact, I was beyond ecstatic that we were all going to be on this amazing roller coaster of love. So much that I’ve asked all three to be my bridesmaids and I too will get to be a part of their weddings.

Now I won’t lie to you; being a part of multiple weddings including my own is making for a very stressful 2013, but when you do things with love, everything falls into place. In the midst of my own wedding planning I’ve managed to help my Hermanas plan their beautiful weddings. From color considerations to venue recommendations, to becoming a sounding board when they need to vent, I’m trying to be there for them every step of the way, including pointing out any bridezilla moments that come along the way. Just because I’m a bride doesn’t mean I’m going to let my duties as a bridesmaid and Maid of Honor falter. My bridesmaids have been helping me along the way too, while my Maid of Honor has gone above and beyond to make my wedding day dreams come true.

As my wedding date approaches, there is just one more, very important dress I need to add to the David’s Bridal collection in my closet. I have yet to find my perfect gown, but I know that come September, with my MOH and bridesmaids standing beside me, I too, will have the most amazing day of my life.  And while I’m always a bridesmaid… this year I also get to be a bride.

Diana Rasbot is a UCLA and USC alum currently working for Univision. 
She loves reading, all-things-fashion, and taking pictures of her dog. 
Right now Diana is busy planning her September 2013 nuptials.
  Comment below and share your wedding-planning stories with us. Feel free to include "bridezilla tendencies" or "funny" wedding mishaps as a bridesmaid (or bride).

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Celebrity Mom Crushes

So I will confess it here. I get sucked into the whole reality t.v./ celebrity gossip thing (I am so a Kourtney). Among the Kardashians, Honey Boo-Boo's and daily doses of TMZ I have found myself developing a Mommy Crush on a few celebrities. And by Mommy Crush I mean Moms that I would like to be like. Moms who are cool, creative, beautiful and successful. 

 So my first Mommy Crush is on Tori Spelling; yes, the Tori Spelling from 90210 fame. I was not a big fan of that show, but I was a big fan of her reality show "Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood" as well as her books. I've read them all. Despite growing up rich and famous Tori still seems like a real and down-to earth person. She is also a very involved Mom who bakes for her kid's class and plants a vegetable garden with her kids. Through her shows, books and website she gives us a glimpse of her world and how she deals with a lot of the same issues lots of parents of young children go through. Of course she does it in a beautiful house and while wearing gorgeous clothes. She also has her own craft line, jewelry line, antique store, and kids clothing line. Despite the wealth of her family, she still works hard and lives a relatively normal life.

So my other Mommy crush in on Jessica Alba. She is the mother to 2 little girls, a full-fledged movie star and someone who started and runs the amazing company: Honest. What I really admire about Jessica as a Mom is that when she couldn't find eco-friendly baby products for her children, instead of giving in and using a product that was convenient and easily available, she stood by what she believed in, put her money where her mouth was, and developed her own product. She does it all and still manages to look better than ever after having 2 kids.

Looks like I have a type: creative, business-minded, successful Moms with kids close to the same age as my own kids.

So tell us, do you have a celebrity Mom crush???

Friday, January 25, 2013

Part 2: What I'm Packing In My Hospital Bag- Guest Post by Crystal Britt from A Bunch of Britts

(Read Part One Here)

So as it turned out, all my baby girl was waiting for was for me to submit that post to Elissa! She was born the next day!  I had some post-birth complications (you can check out my birth story here), so we were at the hospital longer than we anticipated. Here's what we used and what was useless:

Our bag:

  • Pjs for both of us. Yes. The only thing I wish is that I had packed more for Ben. I was pretty much in the hospital gown the whole 4 days, but poor Ben had to wear the same thing everyday.
  • Slippers for me. Yes. My sister actually brought me another pair since Ben ended up using these the majority of my stay.
  • Boppy. Yes! This was absolutely a must have, especially since we had a hard time latching at first. This saved my tired arms!
  • Nursing pads and lanolin. Yes and no. The nursing pads weren't really necessary but the lanolin definitely was.
  • Nurse gifts. Yes. This turned out perfectly--the nurses were so appreciative!
  • Plastic bag of toiletries. Yes. We actually used everything in this bag and I actually forgot shampoo and conditioner!
  • Rice-heating pad. Nope! This was the only thing I didn't use at all. The epidural was pain management enough.

Her bag:

  • Baby journal. Nope. Kaiser has special ink that only works in their specific paper so the journal was useless.
  • Video camera. Yes! The video my family took while they waited for me is priceless.
  • Kitty kat sleeper. Yes--so sweet to have her in when she wasn't swaddled.
  • Going Home outfit. Yep! Obviously used this one.
  • Two headbands. Yes. These actually came in handy for hospital pictures.
  • Aden and anais swaddling blanket. Nope. My husband used the hospital blankets exclusively to swaddle and since I was immobile, I had little to say about it.
  • Hooter Hider nursing cover. Yes, definitely. This helped so much with all our visitors!

- Crystal Britt is a brand new Mommy and a social worker for the National MS Society. She is an avid coffee drinker and can tell you the exact amount of milligrams of caffeine a decaf Starbucks coffee has. She is funny and witty and a beautiful person inside and out! 

You can follow the adventures of Crystal, her husband Ben and their new baby girl at A Bunch of 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Movie Night Ideas

Family movie nights are a really common and easy way for your family to spend some time together. Many families have a weekly tradition of a movie night. Like with all things that are routine, my kids tend to get bored with the same old movie night.

Here are a few things you can do to make family movie night a bit more exciting...

Print up some movie tickets! How excited would your kid be to open their lunch box, or back pack on a Friday and find a movie ticket for family movie night! Don't forget to be the ticket taker at your "theater!"

Popcorn can feel more like the movie theater with these individual plastic containers. They are so cute and are really cheap and easy to find. Most $1 stores carry them. You can also put out the different types of popcorn seasoning so each person and make their popcorn they way they like it!

Here is a way to not only make movie night fun, but to get your kid to help around the house. Set up your own "Snack bar".  During the week "pay" them to do little chores around the house. Use fake money (like from monopoly) that they can use on movie night to buy, popcorn, drink, and candy. Stock up on candy and snacks that your family likes.

Remember to pick a movie that the entire family will enjoy. Keep up with HerMamas and look for our Family Movie Reviews for ideas!  Throw some pillows and blankets on the floor. Dim the lights and enjoy!

** It is a special day for HerMamas! We would like to wish our beautiful co-creator Irene Quevedo a very happy birthday! Enjoy your day Comadre. You are the fire that keeps us passionate about what we do. Your positive look on life is contagious. We wish you all the love, laughter and success in the coming year! **

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Encouraging Health and Wellness with Children

Some years ago many American states launched campaigns to raise awareness about childhood obesity. Campaigns plastered obese children on billboards and even TV commercials. These were labeled as harsh for some, yet essential. There is a clear link that obesity in children results in lifelong health challenges. We must act today to support tomorrow's generations by encouraging our children and all children to live active and healthy lives.

As a child, I ate plenty of wonderfully home-cooked meals that included about a pound of tortillas and the greasiest of dishes. I also ate way more fast-food than I'm willing to admit. I wasn't an active child and most adults in my world didn't spend time exercising. I wouldn't say I was obese and in fact I got through high school and college eating just as poorly and feeling fine. I never ate breakfast and fruits and veggies just weren't the norm. This led to becoming conflicted as an adult. Suddenly, I looked in the mirror and realized that years of eating whatever, whenever had taken its toll. And worse, I was clearly addicted to fast-food and needed to completely change my views.

After a lot of hard work and dedication, I lost close to 60 lbs.,  but this took a good thirty years of my life. What an injustice. And to think so many never get their weight under control. We are heavy as we grow up, become heavier through the years, and either accept it or change it. I chose to change and now I've also chosen to change my children's lives too.

How to encourage healthy and active lifestyles for all families:

Make Exercise Typical - My children witness both parents actively exercising, are asked to partake in family exercise (yoga/running/hiking) and know that exercise is a part of everyday life. Even if children aren't inclined to be active. A parent's example works wonders. Don't guilt them into it, simply model this commitment to exercise.

Encourage Healthy Eating -  We cook healthy meals often. We also make sure to pack healthful meals for our son's lunch and he never skips breakfast. If this isn't usual for your family, keep things simple by ordering apple slices instead of fries. This can be a challenge and often is with my kids who frequently request cheeseburgers and pizza. Simply continue to offer new items. My son fell in love with shrimp this year and there's so many healthy and easy recipes using shrimp.

Identify Active Hobbies - Our son participants in an array of after school programs that translate into an exercise routine (soccer, tennis, basketball, and baseball have all been a part of this year's activities). I understand that organized sports isn't affordable for all. But these activities can all be organized at home with usually nothing more than some sporting equipment! Encourage your children to find hobbies that are both enjoyable and active activities.  This way exercise is simply a by-product of something they already love (i.e. skateboarding, hiking, swimming, etc).

Don't Beat Yourself Up - Maybe all of the above is a challenge for your family. Maybe you are battling your own weight issues and have since childhood. I get that. I still buy more happy meals for my kids than I should. So I buy spinach and almond milk and still end up with candy and cookies in my kitchen.  My children's grandparents are those same parents that wanted to fatten me up as a child with cheesy casseroles and fresh pastries. Even still, I've taken baby-steps with my kids. Last year these same kiddos wouldn't come near a salad and now they're raving about Cobb Salad night. Take it slow, but do it and create a healthy and active family unit for everyone's sake!

These are simple steps and though they may seem too simple - ask yourself just how active and healthy your children's lifestyles are? Will their habits around food and exercise help or hinder them tomorrow? Share your opinion by commenting below...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One Woman's Journey Through Miscarriage - Guest Post by Mariela Amezola

Mariela like many women never thought she'd experience a miscarriage. In this post, she shares her story with us. Mariela's willingness to share is truly admirable. In her own words, "If I can help one person, then I'll be fulfilled; my experience is unique but the moral is to never lose hope or give up on your mommy dream."  

Here is Mariela's story:

My husband and I had only been trying for a month when we found out we were expecting our first baby. We were shocked, giddy, and excited. I was overwhelmed with pride and joy knowing I was going to be a mom. Over the next 10 weeks we had a couple great ultrasounds, we told family, friends, and some coworkers, and even bought the baby it's first outfit. At our third ultrasound we thought we'd be able to hear the baby's heart beat but after trying, my OB said it was still too early. I was disappointed but knew we'd at least be able to see it on the monitor. When the familiar little flicker didn't greet us, I looked to my OB for reassurance. Her face said it all but her words confirmed it, the baby's heart was no longer beating.

My OB referred us to a specialist for a second opinion. An agonizing wait and a high resolution ultrasound later, it was confirmed. I was experiencing what is known as a Missed Miscarriage. The baby's heart stopped beating for no apparent reason but my body hadn't figured it out yet. Rather than wait for nature to take its course (if it ever did) I took my OB's recommendation and had a D&C procedure to remove the pregnancy. She sent the pregnancy to a pathologist to test for abnormalities but unfortunately they came back inconclusive because the sample was too degraded.

In the days and weeks that followed I experienced some of the worst days of life. I had my husband and plenty of family and friends to lean on for support and encouragement but deep down I felt alone. At the end of the day, no one in my life could truly relate to or understand what I was grieving for. I didn't just lose a baby but all the wonderful pregnancy and motherhood milestones that so many women brag about. The only thing that really made me feel better was the idea of getting pregnant again. I knew another baby wouldn't replace the one I had lost but it would allow me to continue my journey, the one I so desperately wanted to complete.

After the required 3 month waiting period, and only one month of trying, I found out I was pregnant again. I was happy but also scared. My OB was great, recommending weekly ultrasounds to keep our minds at ease. We were cautiously hopeful but by the eighth week we were beginning to feel less caution and more hope. Unfortunately that respite was short lived. At our 9 week ultrasound we found out baby #2's heart had stopped beating. I suffered a second Missed Miscarriage and had to go through another D&C. I was sad and disappointed but surprisingly determined and focused. I put all my energy into figuring out why this was happening to me.

It was at this point that I started a series of tests and treatments. The pathology test on the second pregnancy showed a chromosomal abnormality also known as Turner Syndrome. A specialist mentioned there could be a link to blood clots in pregnancy and recommended I take one low dose aspirin every day.

I began seeing a fertility specialist who helped me understand that recurrent pregnancy loss is a form of infertility. After performing a series of exams and using my previous test results, he theorized that the quality of my eggs were closer to that of a 40 year old's thus preventing 30 year old healthy pregnancies. He recommended a minimally aggressive fertility treatment that would allow my body to produce multiple eggs in one cycle to increase our chances of getting a better quality egg. Ironically, I did not get pregnant during this hyper fertile cycle. My husband and I had had enough of the constant doctor visits and tests so we let our life get back to normal. I continued taking my prenatals, extra folic acid, and daily aspirin.

About two months later I found out that I was pregnant for a third time. With each weekly ultrasound and pregnancy milestone that I passed  I grew more grateful and thankful. I looked back at my losses and saw them as a source of inspiration. Thanks to them I didn't accept that a miscarriage or even two is common and I fought harder to ensure that baby #3 would make it. Although a conclusive cause was never found, I had a great "team" of doctors who discovered some potential reasons and helped me address them.

It's been almost a year since my little man Sebastian was born. I'll never know why it was different with him. Maybe the high dose fertility drugs cleared the "old" eggs out of my system or maybe the low dose aspirin kept the blood flowing to the placenta. Or maybe he was simply meant to be all along, after all, he's my "third time's a charm" baby!

Mariela with her adorable son Sebastian

 Finally, if you're wondering how to support a friend or relative through a miscarriage,

here is a simple run-down of what was helpful to me and what wasn't:

Helpful: Everyone reminded me and assured me that I would be a mom. Even if I didn't believe it at first, over time the repetition truly helped me regain my hope and optimism. Also, my husband and older sister told me several times they would do anything to take the pain away. This simple and selfless wish was very comforting. Make sure to constantly reassure your loved ones.
Not helpful: I sent an email to some coworkers with news and requested that they not approach me about it until some time had passed. Unfortunately, one person saw me in the hallway at work and tried to offer her condolences, I had to cut her off abruptly and walk away because it was enough to bring tears to my eyes. If someone asks you to leave them be, respect their wishes! A few weeks later, a family friend visited my parents home and put his hand on my belly asking how I was doing. I was crushed and spent several minutes with my husband and sisters trying to compose myself. Suffering a miscarriage is hard enough so ask family and close friends to spread the word so that potential heartache and awkwardness can be avoided.

Mariela Amezola shares her story with an open heart. She's offered to also provide one-on-one support to anyone who has specific questions. Please click the 'contact us' button on the blog and send us an email if you'd like Mariela's personal contact info. We'd be happy to extend this information to you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Yoga for Kids!

My kid is just not an athlete. She has never showed any interest in soccer, basketball or baseball. She doesn't enjoy competition. So I had to get a bit creative when it came to physical activity for her. While I was pregnant with off-spring # 2 I would do pre-natal yoga at home. My daughter loved to join me. There was my answer, so I enrolled her in a kid's yoga class. It has been such a great experience and even my 2 year old knows a few yoga poses.

I asked my daughter's yoga teacher Loulu a few questions about the benefits of yoga for children.

How did you get started doing yoga?
I was introduced to yoga in 2001 when I was in college.

What are some of the physical health benefits for kids doing yoga?
There are many reasons why children should exercise but here are three reasons why I believe it's important:
1. Weight control. 2. Physical fitness. 3. Establishing a healthy routine of being active.

What is a good age to start yoga?
I believe any age is a good age as long as a doctor approves that the child has the physical health to perform the exercises. Babies have great flexibility and if we as parents tap into this ability, they will continue to grow and be able to move their bodies into several shapes. This will translate into building muscle strength which serves as the foundation for a healthy young body.

Teaching kids yoga must be so different than teaching adults. What is the main focus when teaching children?
Teaching kids is a little different than teaching adults because children have powerful imaginations. This can often help provide better results than adults. Children believe anything is possible and they don't focus as much on the negative. This allows them to explore themselves, which adults often think twice about doing. Children naturally enjoy to practice some of these poses because they like to challenge themselves and be creative on their own. I would have to say the main focus here is simply to have fun and enjoy the experience.

Some of the yoga poses your class does are pretty tough, how advanced can children's yoga be?
Some of the poses are a little challenging, however we always take careful precaution in what we do. We teach our kids how to listen to their bodies first. They are instructed to go just slightly out of their comfort zone, and when they wish to challenge themselves further, seek the assistance of an instructor. Yoga can be very fun, however just like any other sport, you need to take the necessary precautions to avoid injury.

Beside the obvious physical benefits of yoga, what are some other benefits to yoga?
Yoga provides a great environment for children to exercise, relieve stress, and focus. It teaches them self-control and provides them a safe place to try new things and feel positive about themselves. When practicing yoga you expose your children to a positive atmosphere because we touch on all the reasons why they are great human beings! They are told they are important and that their opinions matter. We reinforce the positive attributes about our students and in doing so we raise their self-assurance. We want to teach them that everything is possible.

Thanks Loulu for the interview and everything you do! 

What kind of physical activities do your kids do? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Am I the Only One Dealing with This? - A Guest Post by Carissa G.

Today we are celebrating our 100th post on! 
We are celebrating with a guest post from Carissa G. all about raising a teen girl!

You have this cute, sweet, precious daughter who gets bigger every year. Then somewhere around 11 she starts to have an attitude, or wants to wear inappropriate clothes. Then at 12, maybe she gets her period, then the attitude gets worse every day! Now at 13 you see the mood swings and wonder, am I the only one going through this?

With the kids back at school after winter break I finally had a chance to get a haircut last Thursday. My hairstylist was chatty, which I like. We got to talking and both of us have 13 year old girls (even born the same month). Everything she said about her daughter, I could relate to. Everything I said about my daughter, she could relate to. Of course the topic of hair came up. While my daughter has medium length brown wavy hair, her daughter has long straight blond hair. Both girls want something different than what they have. The shorts they want to wear are too short,  like inappropriately short! They both say that it is "in style" and "everyone wears them". (Not everyone, not our daughters) Shoe obsessions are also big. My daughter is constantly trying to get me to buy her, or let her buy, heels. My hair stylist's daughter is more into tennis shoes such as DC’s and sparkly Sperrys and has about 20 pairs. Our daughters both got gift cards to shop for Christmas because that’s all they want. If we pick out the clothes they won’t like them. 

My stylist brought up how she feels like she constantly has to “entertain” her daughter by taking her places. (She also has a 16 year old step son and he can keep himself entertained for a week. As long as he has food, phone, and video games he is good.) I get the “what are we doing today/this weekend?” from my daughter all the time. And these girls don’t eat! Breakfast is forced on them and they call a bag of chips lunch. Don’t they ever get hungry?

Most of my friends and family have kids that are a lot younger than my teenager, if they have kids at all. It was nice to be able to talk to someone who was going through the same things and having the same issues I have with my daughter. I am NOT the only one, and all of these things are normal for a 13 year old girl. It will be interesting to see the difference between a 13 year old girl and 13 year old boy when my twins are
that age. Now to get prepared for dating, driving, and curfews!

- Carissa Gomez is a wife and mother of 3 kids. Her oldest daughter is 13 and she has 6 year old boy and girl twins. She earned her degree in early childhood development from Cal State Northridge. She is the ultimate middle child and as a kid used to sleepwalk throughout the house in the middle of the night.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Will You Marry Me?

It is the biggest question you will ever be asked. 

Today we are talking about marriage proposals. Much like asking a girl to prom, asking someone to marry you has been taken to a whole new level thanks to guys LIKE THIS ONE......

We thought today would be fun for us to share our proposal stories.

Elissa- My proposal story is not the most romantic or outrageous but it is so my husband. It was 2005  Easter weekend. We had done a lot of driving and I was exhausted because I was 7 months pregnant. We had finally made it home and were in bed relaxing before going to sleep. My man was looking through the Sunday paper ads and talking to me about types of engagement rings I liked. We had spent many afternoons browsing jewelry shops looking at rings. He showed me an ad for some Kmart jewelry and asked if I liked any of those rings. I rolled my eyes at him. He lowered the ad and in his other hand was a mahogany box with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It took my breathe away. I looked at him and he said "So when are we getting married?"

Irene- My husband pays a lot of attention to details. He is very romantic and creative. He wanted our engagement to include: sights, sounds, taste, scents and feelings/touch. So, our engagement night was full of thoughtful surprises. At the time, I was about 8 weeks pregnant with our first. He strategically wrapped a few gifts to give me throughout the night. Some of the gifts included what I craved during my first weeks of pregnancy i.e. a bulk supply of gummi bears and Gatorade (lol). He took me to the Getty Museum (sights) and after checked us into a deluxe room on the 23rd floor of the Westin Bonaventure in Downtown LA. Walking into the room there was music playing with some of our favorite songs (sounds)... Cold Play, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder. All songs literally corresponded to his agenda for our evening. A gourmet dinner (taste) was arranged on a gorgeous table for two (which he set up, yes he even purchased bamboo table settings, flowers (scents), candles and champagne glasses). After dinner and dessert he handed me a letter with a final gift. The gift was a toy boat (a little something for our unborn child). In the letter he eluded to how we wouldn't marry soon but how much he adored me and how happy I made him. I was crying at this point because of this amazing letter and a bit sad since he ended the letter with how this might not be the night I expected. He says this was all in an attempt to throw me off (feel). As I'm crying, I didn't notice how he came down on one knee to comfort me. Suddenly I see an opened ring box with a spotlight on the most gorgeous ring. Then through a flurry of I love yous he pops the question. The next song to play was "You Are So Beautiful To Me" by Louis Armstrong and alone in our room, bursting with love, we shared our first dance (touch) as an engaged couple!

We want to hear your proposal stories or your ultimate fantasy proposal!
 Leave us a comment or write on our Facebook wall. We can't wait to hear your stories!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Family Time by Ziggy Marley and Family

I love Bob Marley and reggae music in general. But sometimes the lyrics are just not the best thing for little kids to be singing along to. A few years ago Bob Marley's son Ziggy released a kids reggae CD called Family Time. I bought the album and was blown away with how great each and every song was.

Now Ziggy Marley would have been enough but this album is filled with other great artists like Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis and Laurie Berkner. The songs are all about family, love, fun, self-confidence and happiness. Fast tempoed and slow tempoed music all full of positive messages. My favorite song on the album is called "I love you too".

A few years ago, while promoting the "Family Time" album, Ziggy Marley and family performed an acoustic concert at UCSB. I took my daughter and when they sang this song Ziggy asked the parents to look at their children and sing to them  "I love you too, I love you too!". I looked at my daughter, sang from my heart and cried from the overwhelming feeling of love. That's when you know music is good, when it touches your heart.

This song is just one of many really great family songs. This is a great CD that the whole family will enjoy and even find themselves singing these songs all day long!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Bad Words"


My childhood was full of "bad words." To my mother's dismay my older brother and I had pretty filthy mouths (this wasn't something we learned from her, but I can't say the same about our dad). Not many kids grow up spewing bad words, but at some point kids will repeat something inappropriate they heard. These inappropriate words can come from a classmate, their favorite sponge bob episode, or even a parent who was cut off on the freeway! Recently my two year was very proudly chanting "fuckity, fuck, fuck." Now, she was probably talking about some frog or fairy, but we're not 100% sure on that one.

Kids are bound to use profanity and though they may not fully know what their words convey, they often say these words because they're looking to understand them better or maybe for the shock value. My take on "bad words" is that they're not actually "bad" but often just inappropriate and unnecessary. We've taught our son that words are just words and we don't necessarily want to label them as "bad." Now this isn't to say that my kid stubs his toe and gets to yell "FUCK!" as long as it's followed up with, "mom that was totally appropriate." We've asked him to reserve them for when he's older and to observe how we try not to use profanity because it isn't always polite. 

Honestly, I don't want my kids running around sounding like sailors but I also don't want to be a hypocrite cursing behind their backs. Something about THAT just doesn't sit well with me. So to really stress how unnecessary profanity can be, this year, I've decided to cut back on my own use of profanity. This is a stretch for me, but I'm up for the challenge. My hope is that I will choose to use profanity as sparingly and appropriately as possible (because sometimes an F-BOMB just works). Then when it's all said and done and I'm raising a house full of young adults I hope they'll do the same. 

What's your take on profanity and how do you handle this issue with the kids in your life?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Push Presents

Push presents are all the rage. Push presents are gifts that the non-pregnant partner gives to the Mommy after birth. A gift for literally pushing the baby out. A phenomenon started by celebrities (blame Dean McDermott and the amazing push presents he gives Tori Spelling). As if men where not stressed enough about having a baby now they have to find the perfect gift for their hormonal post partum partner.

Some common push presents are.....

  • jewelry with the baby's birthstone
  • personalized necklace with the baby's name or initials
  • designer label diaper bags
  • tickets for a family vacation
  • spa gift certificate

The idea of a push present is still a controversial topic. Some feel that push presents take emotion out of the miracle of life and turn it into a another shallow and materialistic event. Personally I feel that the bouquet of flowers that my husband gave me meant so much. BUT a Tiffany and Company diamond necklace would have been a nice way to commemorate an important day. I guess we have a child that does that. 

Did you receive or give a push present?
What is your opinion; are you pro or anti push presents? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Classic Movie Review: Home Alone (1990)

Here at we want to be a resource for everything your family wants to know and if there's one thing family's love that's MOVIE NIGHT! So make sure to check in from time to time as we bring you Classic Movie Reviews. In fact, below you'll find information on how you and your kiddos can get into the movie review action.

First up: Home Alone

When I mention Home Alone to friends I grew up with they almost always begin quoting their favorite lines and even start reenacting hilarious scenes. I mean who doesn't remember the iconic bathroom scene when Macaulay Culkin (Kevin McCallister) slaps aftershave on both cheeks and screams his little heart out? If there's one thing your kids will love about Home Alone it's all the silly screaming, wiggling and yelling from little Kevin McCallister. 

Rating/Content: This movie is best for kids who are about 7 or older.  If you're starting to venture beyond rated-G like is the case with my little guy (6 1/2 y.o.), there's quite a bit of sibling rivalry and name-calling in this one, so be warned. I think this film and it's rating (PG) gives parents a great chance to talk about how we should treat each other, what should happen if your child ever is caught home alone (though that accidentally happening is a stretch), or how to handle situations where kids might feel unsafe (like in the climax of this film). No spoilers here, but in a wacky turn of events Kevin has to defend himself from "bad guys!" Kids will love these final scenes that make this silly movie a fun adventure!

Kid Reviews: 
Sophia (Age 7): "This is a really good movie to watch with your family!" 
Her favorite part: "All the screaming!"

Isaiah (Age 6): "I like how the boy (Kevin) wished for his family and nothing else from Santa!"
His favorite part: "Glue landing on the "bad" guy's face!"

Mom Review
"Kids will laugh out loud during many moments in this film. There's also such a sweet underlining message about family and not taking our parents/siblings for granted. It's quite funny for a completely unrealistic premise (I hope). Overall, this is definitely one of those classic movies that everyone in the family will enjoy. Rent it tonight!"

HerMamas readers: please send your classic movie reviews to
Watch your favorite movies with your kiddos and send us their thoughts too! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Family Mission Statement

Many companies have and work by a mission statement. Why shouldn't your family?

"Family Mission Statement: a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about- what it is you really want to do and be- and the principles you choose to govern your family life."

I love this idea. I know how I envision our family life but I have never really stopped and sat down and talked with the other members of my family to get their vision. I love the idea of the whole family having joint goals, as a group, written down. Something about writing it down makes it more important.

I have to admit I was at a loss on how to write a Family Mission Statement but after some research I found some great tips.

  • There is no wrong way to do it. This is not a legal document or anything. That alone takes off some pressure! 
  • First sit with your spouse and talk about what your priorities are as a family. How would you like to define your family? What is the life you would like to have together? Don't feel rushed. These are big questions, it may take more than one discussion to get your answers. 
  • Once you and your spouse have developed the foundation of your mission statement involve your kids. Ask them what they would like the family to be like, to have accomplished in the next 5-10-20 years. Talk about what things are important as a family. Some ideas are education, finances, travel outside activities, and the responsibility of each family member. 
  •  Now write it down. Keep it simple and keep it positive. Instead of "We will not" use the term "We will". Read the Mission Statement together and make sure everyone understands. 
  • Print it out, scrapbook it, frame it, display it in your home. 
  • Every few years go back and re-evaluate. 
I think this is a great idea. A constant reminder of what we are all striving for. 
What things would you put in your Family Mission Statement? 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Do you freak-out about milestones?

My 14 mos. old isn't actually spiderman. In fact, it doesn't seem like he's ready to walk anytime soon. They say never compare your children to each other, but there I was constantly comparing my youngest to his older brother and sister who both walked right before 12 months. My daughter was actually running at her 1st birthday party! 

Now maybe this is all payback. When my little one was about 6 to 8 months I kept calling him "my lazy baby." I'm not winning "mother of the year" for admitting that, but I did feel he was taking his sweet time to sit up, roll over and crawl. Truth is I was comparing him to his siblings and peers. Now every parent doesn't actually refer to their kid as "lazy" but I'm sure many have been there and worried about milestones that place our child's development on some chart in the doctor's office. But those makers are simply that - markers. With my first, I would actually consider those markers the end all when they shouldn't be and whether other first-time parents like to admit it or not, we often freak-out when it comes to milestones. 

Recently I got to thinking that calling my little one "lazy" is a form of freaking-out and isn't necessary.  So he's still crawling at 14 mos. with no signs of walking anytime soon and that's ok! He's actually quite the speed-crawling pro who'd probably take 1st place in a diaper-dash.

First-time mom and pops (and even those not so new ones like myself) should give our little ones TIME! Soon enough it'll feel like they're crawling walls like spidey. What serves me instead of freaking out is appreciating these moments that linger. As of late I've really enjoyed how the longer it takes my little guy to walk the longer I get to ENJOY the baby that he still is. And what's so wrong with having a 14 month old who still wants his momma to carry him around? Now, I'm not saying ignore milestones. They are there for a reason and you can always bring up concerns with your child's doctor, but rest assured that comparing and rushing doesn't make reaching milestones any easier - for anyone.

Any stories you'd like to share about milestone freak-outs? We've all been there... so go ahead and share those stories with us by commenting below. Better yet how about sharing the other not-so-glamorous milestones like the 1st time your kid places their hand inside the toilet boil to create their own little whirlpool? I'll be the 1st to admit my "non-walker" is very, very good at that!   

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How do you execute the perfect Date Night?

Date nights seem simple enough, but the truth is for married folks with kids, sometimes it's tough to get out of the house and enjoy a good old-fashioned date!

My husband and I are either pretty good about them or we fall off the routine for weeks at a time, but date nights are beyond critical. Couples need time alone to enjoy each other, to reconnect and talk about something other than what's for dinner or what child needs to see the doctor because of their most recent bout with diarrhea (been there, done that).

Now I realize that logistically arranging date nights can be tough for some couples, so check out some of the tips below, and get out there you two (not you three, or you four... you get my drift)!

Step 1:

Find a sitter! Grandparents, extended family or willing friends will do! Now if that's not doable for you, for a small fee some established kid-gyms/activity zones offer a Friday or Saturday night drop-off where parents can leave their kids in a fun, safe and supervised play area (i.e Adventureplex). Due note: there may be age restrictions for these. Another great idea is to work with another couple to swap kids on alternate weekends. One weekend you might take in their little one for a few hours and the next week they take in yours. It's a win-win for all. Also, sometimes teachers are willing to watch kids for parents during the weekend for extra cash. Ask around and book your teacher/nanny for your next date night.

Step 2:

What to do? There's your typical date night like catching a movie and dinner. But how about bowling together, shopping together, getting a couples massage, fishing, bar-hopping, dancing, hiking, board games at the local coffee shop, this list can go on! My advice is to act as if you wanted to impress your spouse just like you did when you were first dating. Now I'm sure that took a little more than hot dogs at Costco. Though every now and then a Costco food court date works for me!

Step 3:

Get creative! The husband and I are attempting the following plan for this upcoming year: 2 dates per month minimum, we alternate who arranges the date meal, and the only rule is that it has to be a new restaurant each time. Something as simple as that mixes things up and allows us to put adequate effort into the date so that we don't end up aimlessly wondering the mall food court (been there, done that too).

Another way to get creative is to subscribe for those group deal sites like Living Social and Groupon. I swear my husband was one of the first people on earth to use Groupon and boy was I impressed. We were trying new restaurants all the time and taking part in fun activities like go-cart racing or catching the latest theater show!

The final and most important step: keep date night a priority! Even if it boils down to putting the kids to bed early once a week, cuddling alone on the couch and watching your favorite movie on television. Moral of this story, make the time to spend time alone. Trust me, everyone will be happier for it!

With that said, where do you like to take your spouse on dates? Come on, comment, we're super interested in what YOU have to say here at!

Friday, January 4, 2013

How to survive a road trip with itsy-bitsy little ones!

So I headed to Vegas from LA for NYE! Yea, the simple idea of that sounds exhausting to me too. The thought of carting around a one AND two year old, packing for a family of five, the cold weather, the crowds, and the traffic that made this typically 4.5 hour drive a 7.5 hr. one might deter most parents. Yet, I'm all about creating experiences and can't stand feeling like I'm limited to what we can do all because we have small children. So our extended family wanted to visit Vegas for the New Year and we'd make it happen at all cost and with their help, of course. 

So how did we handle taking a road trip with little ones? 

Here's what worked for us (and what didn't):

What Worked:

  • Packing lots of easily accessible snacks (including water, juice boxes, fruits, granola, and cookies): Pick something everyone likes and pack enough for the entire trip (there and back).
  • Willingness to take it slow: Make time for stops to change diapers, eat, use the restroom, stretch out. Sure this adds to the trek, but everyone seems happier after breaking up a long drive. 
  • Keep essentials handy: in my case we packed formula for my children who still use bottles. I kept a ton of bottles (pack extra), water and the formula handy while driving. Keep extra clothes handy too. Sure enough my one year old was wet all over 1.5 hours into a 7 + hr. trip.
  • Plan entertainment options beforehand: in our case we brought two fully charged iphones with games downloaded unto them, an iPad, toys, books, pen, paper and a stock pile of games to resort to like categories, 20 questions, hangman. We even took time out to discuss our goals for the year and type those out on the iPad.
  • Accept the complaints: we are so hard on my son about not complaining unless he has a solution to offer, but with a long drive I knew there'd be a ton of "are we there yets?" and I just accepted it without letting it irritate me as best I could. This took some willpower. My favorite was when he asked how long a mile was and realized every mile was about a minute. Imagine hearing this endlessly: "OHH MAN, 300 miles until I can play with my Wii, OHH MAN 299 miles until I can play with my Wii, OHH MAN..." You get the dreadful point. Tolerance is KEY!
What Didn't Work:

  • Not downloading movies beforehand: we completely forgot to download movies unto our tablet. Now that would have entertained the little ones for multiple hours. We'll have those handy next time.
  • Not having enough music on-hand: my kiddos love music, but during the long drive we didn't always have radio signal and not everyone has a tablet/phone to play music from, so burn an old fashion CD with your kids favorites. In fact the cheesier the better. Singing along to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" surely works wonders to ware off boredom.
  • Not getting everyone to take advantage of one bathroom stop: make your little ones tinkle simultaneously. Sounds funny, but we just didn't have the time to give everyone their own potty break. I don't care how cool the waterfall urinal is just outside of Zzyzx. 

How do you survive long family road trips to make them easy and effortless (okay, maybe not easy and effortless, but how do you create the ORGANIZED chaos that works for you)? Share your tips with us!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What I'm Packing In My Hospital Bag- Guest Post by Crystal Britt from A Bunch of Britts

Let me introduce you to Crystal Britt, blogger from A Bunch of Britts. Crystal is due to have her first baby ANY SECOND NOW! Seriously, she could be in labor as I write this! We asked Crystal to give us a run down of what she packed in her hospital bag. Or bags in her case!

Take it away Crystal....

As a first time mom, I'm pretty much shooting in the dark here. However, I am HUGE on comfort and feeling at home when I can't be at home, so that largely influenced what I shoved into these mama-jamas (aka hospital bags). Yes, mama-jamaS, plural. One for me and one for baby girl.

This is our bag, for Ben and me. 

  • Pjs for both of us. I packed a t-shirt and gym shorts for Ben, and two tanks, nursing bras and two pairs of yoga pants for me. These yoga pants are worth their weight in gold--I personally own 4 pairs.
  • Slippers for me. Because hospital socks are gross.
  • Boppy. Okay so this one isn't for us, but I have heard it is a must for the hospital to make breastfeeding comfortable. 
  • Nursing pads and lanolin. I've been using nursing pads for leaking since about week 24, so these are a given. The lanolin I want to have to preempt any breast/nipple soreness from breastfeeding. Because I literally cannot imagine anything worse than boobs that have bleeding, cracking nipples.
  • Nurse gifts. The three little bags with ribbons are presents for my nurses. They aren't a big deal, just a hand sanitizer and a travel size lotion but nurses have it ROUGH, y'all. And having worked in a hospital before, there's nothing more guilt-inducing than having someone bring you food and you battling over whether or not eat it--so I opted to avoid bringing them chocolate.
  • Plastic bag of toiletries. This is the biggest aspect of comfort I may have gone overboard on. But really? I don't want to feel gross and disgusting in the hospital (although it may be unavoidable). The bag includes deodorant for both of us, eye drops (Ben's eyes get dry super easily), q-tips, toothpaste, mouthwash, chapstick, hand sanitizer, bobby pins, lotion, hair bands, you know, only the essentials.
  • Rice-heating pad. I made this a while ago and it's really easy to heat up quickly. This one is the only thing in my bag that's actually for labor.

Baby Girl's Bag

  • Baby journal. I have the pages marked for the nurses to put her hand and foot prints.
  • Video camera. Even though it's against Kaiser's policy to videotape the actual birth, but before and after are okay. I packed the charger as well.
  • Kitty cat sleeper. Because really? Seriously? How could I not?
  • Going Home outfit. Picked out by GiGi and PopPop.
  • Two headbands. Simply because I'm THAT mom.
  • Aden and anais swaddling blanket. Again, I'm THAT mom that wants pictures of her in this at the hospital. Hospital blankets gross me out.
  • Hooter Hider nursing cover. Everyone and their mother will be at that hospital (including staff, all of whom know my mom in one way or another). I don't really need them seeing my boobies.

If I use half this crap it will be a miracle, but at least it shuts up the type-a voice in my head and gives me the delusion that I'm prepared for this.

- Crystal Britt is a very very very pregnant social worker for the National MS Society. She is an avid coffee drinker and can tell you the exact amount of milligrams of caffeine a decaf Starbucks coffee has. She is funny and witty and a beautiful person inside and out! 

You can follow the adventures of Crystal, her husband Ben and their new baby girl at A Bunch of 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this piece. Crystal will be back with a second part to this article. She is going to let us know what she actually used from these bags and let us know what things she wish she hadn't packed and things she wish she had!