Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vision Boards

What is your vision? Can you picture it in your mind? If so, grab a glue stick, some old magazines, poster board and construct a Vision Board today. Vision boards are basically collages filled with future goals and wants made with photos, cut-outs and inspiring phrases (i.e. favorite quotes, career ambitions, family goals, travel destinations, hobbies and more).

This mindset that thoughts become things is immensely powerful. I often share this idea with my children and students. In fact, I recently encouraged a group of middle school students to put their goals on paper using the Vision Board as their template and this is a tiny glimpse of the end result:

One student's vision was filled with Hope, Happiness, Friends, Family, Career, & Fun!
Another student's vision board was filled with success, health,  positivity, happiness, LOVE, and motivational quotes!

How empowering for a teenager to define what they want out of life, create it visually and more importantly, envision it daily. Teens and kids really thrive with positive inspiration. And the best part, I got to share my vision with them too...

My vision for them includes: adventure,  a college education and a ton of SUCCESS!
So, if you're looking for a fun way to set goals with your family, co-workers or in a classroom with students implement a "vision board project" as a family activity, class assignment or work task! After you build a collective or individual vision, put it on paper, remember to put it somewhere you will always see it and watch the magic happen!

What would you put on your personal or family vision board?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's in a (Middle) Name?

Back in October, the actress Uma Thurman had a baby and she named her.....

Ready for this????

Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Busson

One little baby with 6 names. 4 middle names. Imagine having to say all those names when this kid gets in trouble! Sounds a bit crazy and excessive but I must admit something, I totally get it. If it wasn't for my husband, my kids would probably have just as many (if not more!) middle names. 

Naming my kids was always the most stressful part of my pregnancies. A name is so important. I want my kids to have something unique but not weird. I also have this want to honor the people that I love by naming my children after them. I also wanted my family name to be represented but using a last name as a middle name just didn't sound right. Once I got started it was hard to stop and the next thing I knew I was coming up with names like...

Sophia Patricia Carissa Cristina Jessica Ami Mercy Ruth Kim Gomez Lerma........

My poor sweet husband, had to exercise his name vetoing power on that one. In the end both of my kids have a middle name. Just one. My husband named our oldest and gave her the middle name Renee, just because he had always liked that name. (I should have probably made sure there was no ex-girlfriends named Renee!). I gave our youngest her middle name, Blu. Yes like the color without an 'e'. I wanted to honor my parents and their marriage so I used the pet name they have for each other. (Yes my parents call each other Blu and have for over 38 years). 

We want to hear your opinion!
Are you down with middle names? With multiple middle names? 
Leave us a comment! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Triplets Plus One Go To Preschool

We are so excited to have our most popular contributor back! Rachel Chronister is the Momma to 3 year old triplets and a 2 year old baby girl and we are very lucky to have her back!. 


              My husband and I decided around the triplets third birthday that we wanted to start looking for a preschool.  The decision was actually a pretty easy one to make, I had gone to a Tiny Tots program as a child and LOVED it, and I really wanted my own children to experience that same feeling.  Not only would preschool prepare our children to go into kindergarten, but it would start to teach them some very important social skills that they wouldn't necessarily learn at home with brothers, sisters, and parents.

            Finding a preschool for the triplets was where life got a little more difficult.  We are a one income family so finding the extra money in our already tight budget was going to be a problem.  I did a lot of research on the internet looking up prices on what traditional preschools charged, and frankly, I was shocked!  I couldn't believe how expensive it was!  Plus, when I contacted these places to see if I could get a multiples discount (if there was such a thing) the most I could get was 20% off the third child.  Wowza!  The feelings of friendship and excitement for learning started to seem out of reach for my children.  So I put the feelers out to family and friends that I was looking for a preschool to put the triplets in, that wasn't going to break the bank.  Meanwhile, I printed worksheets off the Internet and worked with all four of my children on basic things like letters, numbers, shapes and colors.

            Just after the triplets forth birthday, a family friend called me and told me to look in our local newspaper because she found an affordable preschool option for us.  The program is held at our local adult school and is a parent-participation preschool for 3-4 year olds and their siblings!  And the best news yet, they charged on a family basis, not on a per child basis.  So I signed them up immediately and we started the very next day.  I was so excited to find a place I could not only take the triplets but my two year old daughter as well, and being parent participation I didn't have to worry about the feelings I would have leaving my babies alone with strangers (I’m sure I’ll work that out before kindergarten…maybe).

            Our first day was filled with excitement.  All four of the kids were overjoyed to be going to school and making new friends.  I packed four little lunch pails and filled four little back packs with a toy to share.  I stood them on the front porch and took about a million pictures and then finally we were off.  When we walked in the classroom, it was as if everyone had already known us.  The staff in the front office told the teacher she was going to have a set of triplets start that day and she was so excited she shared with other parents in the classroom about the unusual family that was about to join them.  The teacher and other parents were so welcoming I really had a wonderful feeling about our new adventure.

            Our class lasted three hours and the kids enjoyed every minute of their new adventure.  We sang songs and danced, we worked on art projects, we played outside on the playground, and we listened to a story.  After school, while we were driving home all four of the children were singing the songs that they had learned that morning and I knew my patience had paid off.  I found something that works out just perfect for our family.

            We've been attending the preschool for almost three months now, and our feelings have not changed.  Every day I get asked, “Are we going to school today?” The triplets and my two year old are learning so much!  I’m shocked at how much their little brains can carry, and what’s even better is they are making friends that aren't just their brothers or sisters.  I catch them playing school with each other in their bedroom and it really melts my heart.  I only hope that they can continue their love of learning and feelings of friendship into elementary school, middle school, high school and beyond!

-Rachel is one amazing Momma! She makes parenting triplets look like a fun party! Her babies are not only super cute but are all so well behaved. As a way to de-stress Rachel has taken a page from the Senior Citizen crowd and knits, reads and bakes. 
You can find Rachel's first post here: Triplets Plus One = Four Times the Fun!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Movie Review: Escape from Planet Earth

Escape from Plant Earth starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba and Craig Robinson (just to name a few) is a cute animated adventure about aliens trying to get back to their home planet. My son and I caught a showing over the weekend and I must say that at the matinee price (12 bucks total) it was well worth a mother/son trip to the theatre.

First off, my son at 6 1/2 still loves animated films, but they have to be "boyish" and full of adventure. This story was exactly that. There was a lot of silly comedy moments including food-fights, explosions and a whole lot of  "escaping planet earth" that grade-schoolers love. There were also a few of those well placed jokes targeted at getting a chuckle from parents while going completely over kids' heads.

All in all, I'd say this is a great movie to catch with kids 4-9 year olds. There's a sweet message about family and why we need our siblings. Brothers and sisters might come out of this one feeling a little more grateful to have each other. In the end, you'll root for the aliens and laugh about it while you do.

*Side note, we didn't watch this film in 3D and I think it was just fine without it, so SAVE the extra dough unless you absolutely must watch it in 3D.

Did you watch any movies over the weekend? 
Are there any upcoming movies you are excited about? Leave us a comment!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yelling Doesn't Work

I grew up in a family with a ton of yelling. Communication was typically talking loudly over each other. We were all pretty temperamental and yelling almost came to be normal.  Through high school and college I was a very energetic and loud person. Nothing wrong with that, but I suppose it's just another form of "yelling." 

Can you hear me now?
Then, I had kids! Yelling for some moms is the go-to form of communication and to be honest it's been mine for years. However as of very late, I've turned a corner with yelling and realized that it doesn't work. Maybe this is something most parents already understand, but this mom learned the hard way. I reflected on the times I've yelled (which have been too many) and came to realize that those moments tend to leave behind only guilt and remorse along with a feeling of burn-out!

I wonder where he learned that?
Why yelling doesn't work?
  • It's overpowering and scary for children. 
  • It teaches kids to resolve their angst by yelling too.
  • It only leaves you more stressed when you probably began yelling to de-stress.
Now don't get me wrong, from time-to-time I sternly raise my voice and my kids know I'm very serious about my point. But that's just it there; if I am the mom that ALWAYS yells, then when will my kids really take me seriously i.e. during an emergency? You better believe yelling is best served to avoid freak accidents when a parent has to frantically YELL to get a child's attention quickly. 

So I have decided to give up on yelling but like any other bad habit, I regress here and there. Nevertheless, my greatest hope is that my children take with them into adulthood caring, calm and appropriate forms of communication and yelling just doesn't fit the bill. More importantly,  I want my children to have the ability to communicate lovingly with their children and spouses, and that loving communication starts now, with my example!

Share your opinion by commenting below!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Change or Not To Change Your Last Name

As if there is not enough to stress about when you get married, there is the decision about  if you are or are not going to change your last name. This is a big decision and sometimes the most stressful for the new couple.

I asked a few women in my tribe about this issue:

" It didn't feel right to change my name. It went against my beliefs."

" I like my name. If we get married by church I might change it."

"I am traditional and wanted my whole family to have the same last name"

When my husband and I got engaged, my last name was one of the first things I thought about. I come from a family of all girls, so our last name would stop if my sisters and I all changed our last name. Part of me wanted to keep my last name just to keep it alive. Then I started to think about what our kids last name would be. Would I give them his last name, my last name or hyphenate it? The more I thought about it, hyphenating just seemed like a burden to the kids. Plus I really wanted to have the same last name as my children.

 Then I thought about coming up with a whole new name. We were a new family and I thought a great compromise would be to just come up with a whole new surname. Something where we could use both my last name and my husband's last name. This way our kids could have a little of each family name. Since I am a Gomez and my husband is a Lerma I tried to sell the name Lermez to my husband. He reacted with a blank stare.

In the end, I made the decision to keep with tradition and take my husband's last name. There are some husbands who leave the decision up to the women and who don't have strong feelings either way. For my situation, after discussing it with my husband, he confessed that it was important to him. I took his feelings into real consideration and made the decision to take on Lerma. Although I still think Lermez would have been a cool new name.

Changing your last name is a big decision. 
Leave us a comment and let us know why you did/will or why you didn't/won't change you last name?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Career First - Guest Post by Cecilia Pulido, Esq.

When I think of ambition, drive and determination I think of Cecilia (Cecy) Pulido. She is one of those rare people who as a little girl knew exactly what she wanted to become as a grown-up; and she never ever swayed from that dream. She became a successful immigration attorney through an arduous road, a road that took much longer to navigate than she may have first planned, and a road that meant delaying another goal of hers to become a wife and mother.

Here is Cecy's story:

Most little girls aspire to be ballerinas, teachers or movie stars. I was quite different from most girls. As a young 8-year old, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. After my father suffered a work related injury, I became the spokesperson for my family. I began to be pulled out of school to interpret for my father during attorney-client meetings. It was during those meetings that I knew I wanted to represent those who have limited access to the judicial system. However, becoming a lawyer was not an easy task.

There were many obstacles I faced during the long treacherous road to becoming a lawyer. I am the first in my family to graduate high school and attend college. I am also the first one to go to graduate school. As a first generation Mexican-American woman attending college and law school, I encountered a lot of pressures. One of them was being a role model to my younger siblings and cousins. They looked up to me, so I knew I couldn’t screw up. In law school, that meant making the grade.

I started law school after having worked as a legal assistant for 5 years. So going back to school was not easy. My first semester grades were the lowest I had ever received. You see, courses in law school are not based on papers and assignments throughout the semester. Each course is based on one 3-hour written exam in which you must apply what you learned during the semester. Needless to say, the first semester was definitely a challenge. But things got better, busier but better. I work well under pressure and as my schedule got busier, the higher my grades got. In my 3rd year of law school, I participated in the Justice and Immigration clinic where I had the opportunity to represent a Somali native seeking asylum in the U.S. This was my first time appearing in front of a judge on behalf of a client. I knew then I had made the right career choice.

Aside from the pressures of law school, there were also pressure coming from my family. Mis tias (aunties) would ask me the same questions over and over and over again. “Mija, cuando te vas a casar? Cuando vas a tener hijos?” (When are you going to get married? When will you have children?) My answer was always the same “primero tengo que terminar la escuela.” (First, I MUST finish school) I always knew what my priorities were and did not allow anyone to dissuade me from them. Don’t get me wrong, I do want a wedding and children, what woman doesn’t? But all in due time and I am confident that my time will come.. I'll get married and embrace motherhood.

Now as a lawyer I have a busy schedule and never have a set time at which I leave the office, but I don’t mind. I love what I do and most importantly, I love that a high percentage of my clients are Spanish-speakers. The legal system is complex as it is, so being able to communicate with my clients in their native language and being able to assuage the complexity of their cases is truly gratifying. This is exactly how I envisioned my profession to be. I am living my dream!

Cecilia Pulido graduated from UC Santa Barbara c/o 2003 and received her law degree from the University of La Verne.
She practices law at The Arns Law Firm in San Francisco, CA. 
Cecilia's career achievements are completely admirable and a true testament to hard work and vision. She foresaw a dream career path and stuck through it regardless of ups and downs!

Can you relate?

Is your career what you dreamed it to be? If not, what do you want to be when you GROW up? After all we never stop growing up! Comment and share your career successes/ambitions with us.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Have you ever wondered what the cow, goat, sheep, chicken and pig on the farm do when the sun goes down? In this fun and cool book by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, the farm animals get on stage to perform for the other farm animals as "Punk Farm". Yes a barnyard punk rock band. The song "Old McDonald Had a Farm" will never be the same. 

Punk Farm, was released in 2005 and was listed as one of the best books of 2005 by Child Magazine.

This book was bought for our daughter back in 2006 by her Grandpa. It was such a perfect book for our family. My husband and I met through a punk rock band. Punk rock was our life, before kids of course. This book lets us enjoy a little bit of punk rock during bedtime. It is still one of our kids' favorites.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let's talk about SEX!

So you get into a relationship and if all goes well there's great sexual chemistry. When I began dating my husband we very much took full advantage of the "honeymoon" stage! Ideally, that period of a relationship is where a healthy sex life blossoms, setting the stage for years down the road where couples settle into a slightly less exciting but outrageously fulfilling married life!

For the hubby and I, as much as we might have thought marriage wouldn't change our sex lives, it did. Sex became less spontaneous and at times less frequent, but it is still a priority for our marriage like paying the bills or arranging child care. Though definitely NOT as boring as those mundane tasks. Sometimes finding the time to have sex feels like finding the time to get to that dental appointment which is probably the case for most crazy-busy, married couples with kids. We suddenly have way more to worry about then spending the day in bed let alone engaged in sleepless nights of lovemaking. Don't get me wrong! Sex can and should still be amazing when it happens, but things change and that's okay! What isn't okay is being unfilled in your sex-life because of life's lame excuses... it's too late, you're so busy, you're tired. Do what it takes to do it, ha! Which could quite possibly mean sex turns into sneaking away for a "shower" together while the kids nap or maybe you lock the door just long enough to go unnoticed by your nosy offspring.

One thing the hubby and I learned from a church retreat of all places, is to ask children who are old enough to give you time alone for each other. Literally ask older children to watch younger children for an hour so that "mommy and daddy can be alone." I love the idea of modeling that couples need time to themselves and privacy. After all, I want my children to build healthy adult relationships too, even in my daydreams my only daughter doesn't actually do that until she's about 45 years old, once she's taken over the world! Hey, a mom can dream!

Bottom line, couples should invest in keeping sex a priority of marriage. Embrace those intimate moments alone and make sure they're filled with what BOTH partners enjoy and need! Men and women often want different things when it comes to sex, so a willingness to TALK about your sex life and compromise goes a long way. Oh and one last thing to note... HAVE FUN!

Quick... the kids will be back in 5 minutes!

At we're not experts in the field of sex or relationships, but we're definitely a community hoping to support every woman! So share your sex questions with us by commenting below or sending us your emails! We'd also love to hear your take on making sex a priority in building a good relationship! Share your stories TODAY!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Romantic Proposal in Mexico- A Love Story for Valentine's Day

Oh the joys of romance...

Lissette met Leonardo about 10 years after becoming engaged. Their love was long-distance, it was up and it was down, but love always prevails. Here's the story of their proposal:

It was a Wednesday (March 9th 2011) in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Lissette and Leo sat and enjoyed the first quiet evening they had enjoyed together in some time. Lissette was exhausted after an amazing spring break in nearby Jalos, Jalisco (“of course”). If you know Lissette, you know her love for all that is deeply Mexican, deeply cultural and deeply intoxicating; well maybe not intoxicating, but definitely anything that is fun-filled. Surely, Jalos met all of the above criteria. Leo was beginning to come down with a major cold. He lazied around as though ready to call it a night at 7pm. Things were still at Lissette’s parents home. It was a quiet space. In recent years, it had become chronically quiet, for many years earlier, both of Lissette’s parents passed away. Their new home was miles and miles away in heaven.

As they held each other, Leo remembered that he had promised his uncle they’d have dinner later that evening. It was an important dinner where he planned to finalize details about his upcoming wedding to Lissette. Leo insisted that canceling would be best and settled down deeper into the couch where they sat. He knew that being out in the brisk evening air would surely intensify his cold. Lissette urged him to call them sooner than later, so his aunt and uncle wouldn’t ready themselves in vain. Secretly, Lissette didn’t care to go out that evening. She didn’t want to straighten her hair or apply her make up. She didn’t want to entertain dinner companions and loved the quietness of an evening at home. As she sat and thought about how perfect it would be to skip dinner, Leo unenthusiastically lifted his heavy and tired body from the couch. “Let’s just go and get this out of the way,” he murmured. “Ayyye Leo,” Lissette’s voice answered as she bolted down the stairs. She rummaged through her unpacked luggage looking hurriedly for the essentials: a designer outfit and handbag, expensive accessories, make-up, and the most critical of all items, her hair straightener. Finally they were ready.

They arrived downtown and Leo looked lost. Inexplicably  in spite of his obvious cold, Leo wasn’t wearing his sweater, but instead carried it at his side, balled up. Lissette found that odd and urged him to put it on. He answered, “I will in a minute.” Obviously lost, Leo grabs his cell phone to call his uncle and asks, “where’s this new restaurant, I can’t seem to find it?” He seems to be clear about the location and hangs up the phone, but to Lissette the area felt oddly quiet. It was dark, no restaurants close by, and suddenly she felt confused by the entire ambiance. Abruptly, Leo approaches a man guarding the dark and quiet entrance of a richly cultural and large bullring (La Plaza de Toros). He tells the man, “I am here for the event.” 

Lissette is now very confused. The man leads them towards the entrance of the bullring. Like all stadiums, Lissette can only see the round corridor that surrounds the real entrance to the center of the ring. As she focuses her eyes closer on the dark corridor, a beautifully lit stream of candles illuminates their path. Just then, Lissette’s heart pounds, as her entire body shivers with chills. She isn’t headed to a new restaurant for dinner. Could it be? Is tonight the engagement she excitedly awaits? Is tonight the evening she has always dreamed of?

Hundreds of candles continue to eliminate their path as they're led down a long curved corridor. They arrive at the grand entrance where bulls enter the arena in preparation for battle. In the darkness of that moment, two grand doors unexpectedly open and she comes face to face with the center of the ring like a brave bullfighter preparing for victory. Like a bullfighter, the grandness of the arena takes her breath away. She walks almost as though she’s floating. Quickly her mind and her heart process all the beauty that surrounds her, every detail, ALL OF THE LOVE Leonardo has for his darling Lissette.

She notices the countless floral arrangements, many of them perfuming the elaborate table for two, set-up exactly in the center of the arena, their private arena filled with hundreds of orchids for the evening. Every detail coordinated to perfection from the flowers on their table, to the place settings and champagne. A guitarist strumming along, a personal chef quietly working on his culinary masterpieces, even perfectly placed spotlights were stationed to shed light on every aspect of this terribly romantic scene; the scene were they first met almost a decade ago (May 6th 2001). It was at this very arena where Leo first met Lissette and where their international love story began.

As Lissette looked around at the enormity of the plaza like a tourist visiting the roman coliseum, she noticed thousands of candles eliminating thousands of empty seats; seats that would bare witness to such a beautiful evening for two. A permanent smile came over Lissette’s face and she gazed over at Leo, partly in disbelief and partly overwhelmed by an uncontrollable sense of gratitude. This was the man the Lord had given to her and here he was giving her grandeur, exactly what a woman like Lissette deserves – extravagant, heart-felt grandeur. There he was showering her with the gifts of TRUE LOVE!

Dinner began with one of multiple courses. They feasted on tuna tartar, goat cheese croquettes with orange marmalade, coconut shrimp with tamarind glaze, on and on elegant dishes bombarded their table. After all, it was Ash Wednesday, so seafood-inspired five-star dinning made perfect sense. Her taste buds were on overload, much like her eyes that basked on the sites and her ears that listened to the beautiful guitar melodies. One song in particular, was one of their favorites: Coincidir by Nacho Hinojsa, with lines loosely translated into, “So many centuries, so many worlds, so much space and we coincide.”

The words to this song overwhelmed her as everything else had. She fought back tears the entire evening, but when Leo asked for this song to be played, it was magic. As the song began, he began reading a letter to the love of his life. He mentions in the letter that much like the bull that meets his match, he finally met his in this very place, in this very spot of the world, where they came to coincide. He describes how their love story came to be. It’s a moment these words will not fully capture, but his words like these, are about one thing: real & true love.

He read to her words filled with romance, with hope and with passion. He read to her and suddenly he read no more. He was down on one knee, with the moon as their witness, he gazed at her with admiration. She would be his forever once he asked what he so longed to ask, “te casas conmigo coraz√≥n?” As tears gushed down her cheeks, she obviously said, “YES, YES OF COURSE.” She gushed at the sight of the large radiant cut flawless diamond now positioned on her finger. The perfect ring Leo had hidden in his balled-up sweater was finally in its rightful place. This ring would become Lissette's addiction, if addictions involved staring at a diamond for hours at a time.

This was her moment, this would be the story of her engagement and friends would finally say to her what she said to those who became engaged, “that’s fabuuuuulous.” Joy overtook her, it enveloped her, and she was to be married. She would marry her prince.

She was processing these thoughts and couldn’t fight it. She couldn’t deny the small place in her heart that ached. She also couldn’t keep this sensation in. She suddenly said to Leo, “I wish I could share this with my parents.” In Spanish her words were, “me hacen falta” which very loosely meant, “something was missing.” Leo looked deeply into her eyes and said, “they’re here, they’ve always been here, they’re here now” and just then he unveiled a gorgeously framed photograph of her parents and placed it at their table.

He had thought of everything. That is love. That is what it is to coincide. Lissette was left breathless, as her parents joined them for the night, from their home miles and miles away in heaven. The man of her dreams knew her well enough to know that this simple detail would trump the elaborate wedding planner that was at the bullring setting up hours before, the men who came in to compress the dirt of the arena to avoid dust, and even the fact that the arena was never used for private events and this would be a first. Those details though magnificent, wouldn’t be as fulfilling as the moment in which Lissette, now joined by the symbolism of her parents, finally felt her engagement was complete and that she would be able to share it with the parents she so missed and so loves!

The tears were abundant, the romance uncontrollable, and every last detail mapped out. They feasted on a medley of gourmet desserts and shared such loving embraces. Leo excitedly opened a bottle of Moet & Chandon and there under the moonlight they shared a champagne toast. They toasted to their love and to the moment where they began what would surely be a journey of common dreams and lifelong passion. And this would be the story of how Leonardo Rabago Gonzalez asked Aurora Lissette Padilla to marry him!

From a fairy tale proposal to a fairy tale wedding.

Share your love stories with us... Submit a guest post today!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What is your Love Language?

Between romantic comedies and television we have this notion that love has to be communicated through roses, balloons, big romantic gestures, and wordy love poems. When we get this notion in our heads we tend to ignore what our partners real love language is.

Love language is how your partner communicates love to you. The thing is you have to be really in tune with is your partner's love language. There may be things that you just think are part of a normal day. Look close and really pay attention.

Knowing my partners love language is very important in my personal relationship. My husband is the most unromantic person. Unromantic in the stereotypical sense. He does not whisper sweet nothings in my ear, he does not bring me flowers and candy, he doesn't write poetry. I know he was this way when I fell in love with him and I would never expect him to be something he is not. This does not mean that he does not show me love. He does show me love in his own special way. My husband has his own love language and it involves doing the dishes, changing diapers, giving me the last piece of food, making sure my needs are met before his, making me laugh and constantly pinching my butt.

Love Language does not only apply to your partner, but to your children too. My kids show me love with big hugs out of no where and sloppy kisses. They also constantly are making me drawings. I am also aware of my love language toward my kids. For me the one thing I do to show love is I am genuinely happy to see them everyday. Sometimes my love language does not seem like love to them. For example when I insist that they eat all their vegetables I am doing it because I love them and want them to be strong and healthy. My kids do not see it that way.

Reading Recommendation: If you want to read more about Love Language we recommend picking up "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman

Do you know what your or your partner's love language is?
How do you show your love to the people in your life everyday? 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Juggling Work and Life! Guest Post by Elizabeth Barajas-Guerrero

We asked a proud momma & (constantly-traveling) 
professional to share her take on balancing 
life and work with

Is work/life balance possible for a mommy? I had never really given this much thought until I had my son. Before my little man came into my life, I was pounding away countless hours at work. I set a goal to establish myself in a company and quickly climb up the corporate ladder. I purposely joined a company where people like me were rare. A degreed, Hispanic female was like finding a needle in a haystack in a company solely dominated by males. The first few years were tough; I would come home crying because of how badly my co-workers treated me. But I stuck with it, I found a mentor and together we came up with a career path for me. Within 4 years, I had three promotions.

Traveling for work is something I’ve always wanted to do. At airports, I would always admire professionals who were traveling for business purposes. They appeared to be important and valuable to their company, qualities that I strived for. It was during my forth year that I was promoted to a position that would require me to travel. I was beyond ecstatic, I was given new responsibilities and the opportunity to see visit various US cities. Right before I started my new role, I found out I was pregnant. I was beyond excited for the pregnancy. Everything was working out as I envisioned, I had an amazing husband, we were expecting and I had established a career for myself.

The first few months of traveling were great. I always felt like I had a companion with me. I loved eating out and asking my unborn son what he wanted from the menu. Each city was a new adventure. I was happy and thriving in my role. I did so well that I was offered a different opportunity, one that required much more travel. I took the promotion without hesitation.

The ease of my travel arrangements came to a screeching halt when my son came 10 weeks early. I hadn’t arranged a day care yet and I couldn’t. My doctor told me I had to avoid daycares because my some was born very early and could easily catch a respiratory infection. The only thing I could do to help build up his immune system was to breastfeed. I made it a goal to breastfeed him for 6 months. My mom offered to stay with me a few months until my son was strong enough to go into a daycare. Now I had to figure out my work arrangement. Thankfully my manager is a mother and understood what I was going through. She cleared my travel schedule and let me work from home so I could breastfeed my baby. It was finally coming together and I was able to focus on work and motherhood.

Before my mother left, a neighbor/friend offered to take care of our son. We trusted her with him and knew he would be better with her than a daycare. I stopped working from home and went back to the office. As soon as I came back, the traveling started. And in no way was it like before. I felt and still feel guilty during each trip. It’s not fair to my husband or to my son. My husband is left to take care of my son and my son is without his mother. It’s a rather complicated situation. You see, I worked hard for this position, there are only 4 other people in my company that do what I do. I am well-respected and fondly thought of. I’ve thought about stepping down, but I’ve worked too hard to go back. Thankfully, my husband understands this and supports my career.

God blessed me with an amazing husband or "baby-daddy" as I fondly call him. He supports my career and works around my travel schedule. I couldn’t imagine being a single mom (and my respect to those who are). My husband is my rock. He helps keep me sane and constantly reminds me of how good of a mom I am. Now he is human and there are times where he feels like there is a disconnect between us. I’m away for days at a time and have little time to talk at night. So I can understand where he’s coming from. When he starts feeling this way, I reaffirm my love and commitment to him. I’ve learned that after each trip no matter how tired I am, I need to spend time cuddling on the couch with him or cook a family dinner. This is his “love language” and I finally understand it.

There are also times that my husband grows frustrated with our son, he is no angel. I try to take the ease off by bringing him a few bottles of local brew from each city I visit. I also bring my son back a trinket, I love hearing his “OH GWOOW.” Call me crazy, but this is like my peace offering for being away. If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t think I would be able to maintain my work/life balance. He keeps me grounded and helps in my corporate ladder climb.

Elizabeth with her husband & adorable son.

For this momma, balance comes down to partnership. She gets to achieve her professional goals thanks to a very supportive husband.Sounds like the sky's the limit for this working-mom and her precious little family!

How do you juggle work and life (motherhood/relationships/goals)? 

Who's your go-to supporter? 
Comment below or submit a guest post, TODAY!

Monday, February 11, 2013

100 Days Project

It is that time of the year when kids in grade school are celebrating 100 days of school. Many classrooms have each student bring in 100 of something. This means that parents all over the country are scrambling trying to put together 100 of anything.

There are lots of different things your child can take to school. We have seen everything from legos to buttons to feathers. Over the last few years I have tried to get a little creative with this project. 

For kindergarten we went with "100 people who love me". This one was a little time consuming but I love the way it came out. First I saved and cropped pictures of 100 people who love my daughter. Then I used a photo editing program to make 6x6 collages to make sure the photos were all  the same size. Then we cut and pasted and I added names. We added some 100's and heart decorations. This project is still hanging in my daughters' playroom.

For 1st grade we went geographical. We made a poster board of 100 places she had been. The most time consuming was googling images and saving them. I made the 6x6 colleges and cut and pasted. We cut up a map to decorate with hearts.

It took us a while to come up with the theme for this year's 100 project. Since 100 days falls on Valentine's Day we decided to go with "100 Ways to Show Love". One night at dinner the whole family sat down and talked. We listed all the ways we show each other love. We couldn't quite come up with all 100 so we turned to Facebook (thanks to all those who responded). Once we got a list of 100, I used a photo editing program ( to use a heart template and print each one on it. Then, on to printing and cuting. We used some crafty glue dots to glue them to foam boards. Not a lot of room for decoration this time, but still very cute results!

We want to hear about your 100 days projects and ideas! Leave us a comment!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Safety Drills

When I was in grade school, every year we practiced a fire drill and an earthquake drill. Those were the things we had to make sure to be prepared for: natural disasters. We learned how to duck and cover under our desks and what part of the field our class had to walk to if there was a fire.

 Today the world is a different place and our children are being prepared for a different kind of disaster. Horrific school shootings are a sick and sad reality and our children are now forced to go through "lock-down" drills. They need to learn what to do if a dangerous person invades their school.

Elissa- "As a parent of a grade school aged kid this leaves me with such mixed emotions. Rationally I understand that being prepared for anything is smart. The staff and students need to know what to do if anything were to happen. The alarm systems need to be tested and everyone needs to be prepared. But I hate the impact that these necessary drills have on my kid. Growing up I never once felt unsafe at school. I never had to worry about anything like a shooter on campus. These drills put that thought into my child's mind. Her school was conscious enough to leave out why a lock-down would be necessary, but my daughter knew they were practicing in case something "bad" happens at school. I hate that she has to learn what to do during a lock-down but at the same time I am glad that her school is taking any and all precautions. And I pray that they will never have to be implemented anywhere ever again."

Irene - "Lately turning on the nightly news is more terrifying then a blockbuster crime thriller. I avoid watching it altogether and wish desperately that I could shut off the "real world" like I shut off my television. The big headline in California today went something like this: "Massive Manhunt Underway... Suspect Considered Armed and Dangerous." A murderous man on the run for killing innocent people and I hear this on the radio literally seconds after dropping my oldest at the doorstep of his school. My heart sank and I thought "God bless my child and all children." I think back to the drills my son partakes in annually and about our talks that he should always look for the person helping if a "bad" situation should occur. And like Elissa, I'm saddened by the reality of today and that our children have to live in this reality. Yet I remain grateful that there's preparedness. I hope that this preparedness saves lives, but more importantly, I hope that it sheds light on the bigger issue: we need to protect our children at all cost before disasters occur and not simply react after they do."

Schools drills matter, but what else can be done to protect our children? And how do we do that without prematurely sacrificing their innocence and security? Share your take with with us...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Really Didn't Know I Was Pregnant

We have all heard the stories and have seen the television show. Women who go into labor without ever knowing they were pregnant. You don't believe it can happen, until it happens to you. Today we have an interview with Monique G., a first time mom to 2 month old baby Matthew. Monique had no idea she was pregnant until she was being rushed to the hospital to give birth.

Let me start this by saying a few important things. First off, Monique was told by a doctor that she was not able to have children partially because she did not ovulate regularly. She has always had very sporadic menstrual cycles with many months in between cycles. I saw Monique a week before Matthew was born and she looked completely normal. Not a baby bump to speak of!

HerMamas: Looking back now where there any pregnancy symptoms that you dismissed for other things?

MG: Looking back there was heartburn. I had never had heartburn before. I did notice that it was harder to bend down but I thought I was just gaining weight. I had started to lose more hair than usual. But I just thought these were things that just happened as you got older.

HerMamas: The day Matthew was born, what symptoms sent you to Urgent Care?

MG: My cousin forced me to go because I was in pain. I was just going to take an aspirin and go to sleep, but she thought it might be a appendicitis or internal bleeding. The pain started as abdominal pain and when I stood up I could feel tight pain in my lower back so bad that I would have to stop and bend over. I knew that it was not normal. I knew something definitely was not right.

HerMamas: When you were in that pain did you every once think it could be labor?

MG:  NO!

HerMamas: What went through your head when the doctor told you that you were in labor?

MG: I think a "Shut the F#*# up!" come out of my mouth. The doctor told me I was about 2 cm dilated and was about to have a baby. I couldn't say anything. My mouth was open but I couldn't speak. They did an ultrasound and I heard his hear beat for the first time. Then I knew it was real and the doctor was not joking.

HerMamas: After Matthew was born and everything had calmed down, what were your biggest concerns and fears?

MG: I didn't have any pre-natal care. None whats so ever. I ate whatever I wanted, and even had taken a trip to Magic Mountain and rode the roller coaster rides. He went through lots of screening, but besides being premature, he was fine. Since my periods have never been regular they were not certain of how many weeks he was so it was hard to determine how premature he was. The best estimate is that he was born at 31 weeks.

HerMamas: Were you a big deal at the hospital? Did they treat you any differently?

MG: With the nurses I was like a celebrity, but there were certain doctors who looked at me weird. As if they thought I was lying. Lots of nurses told me I should call the TV show. I was like "No way!"

Hermamas: How did your friends and family take the news?  

MG: Everybody was like "No way, how could she not know?" I mean I have watched that TV show too and thought I would know. I think everyone had the same jaw on the floor reaction. It was a big surprise.

HerMamas: You didn't t have the usual 9 months to prepare yourself, you just woke up one morning and a few hours later you were a Mom. How do you process those emotions?

MG: I sometimes feel like I was cheated, I didn't get to bond with him or learn about him.

HerMamas: When Matthew was born did you feel an immediate bond or did it take some time?

MG: I instantly loved him but the bonding took a little time. Since he was being tube-feed I couldn't nurse him. In those first few hours I was still very worried about his health. I was scared that something could be wrong because of something I did or didn't do. But I loved him so much and could not believe that I had no idea I was pregnant. The bond came very soon after. There was so much to take in that day.

HerMamas: There is a lot to learn when it comes to taking care of a baby. Most people get 9 months to study all this. You didn't get that time, and I imagine with a newborn you don't have a lot of free time to read. You are doing such an amazing job with Matthew, do you think motherhood came naturally to you?

MG: Having kids was never in the plan, but I am really getting to know him and his wants like when he is hungry or wet. I do have a nurse that comes in once a week and she helps me with my instincts. The hospital offered the help and I took it. It has been helpful but I do feel that I have picked up on it naturally.

HerMamas: Your boyfriend of over 10 years has 2 boys already. The oldest just turned 21! Is he a big help or are you both learning as you go?

MG: He is a really big help, but I think we are both learning along the way. Even though he has work, he gets up and does the night feedings so I can sleep. He mixes bottles and changes diapers. There is still a lot to learn because things have changed a lot. It took him over an hour to put together the bouncer.

HerMamas: You are an only child and didn't plan to have kids. Now that Matthew is here your Mom is now a Grandma. How is she doing?

MG: She is so stoked. She already has big plans to spoil him and buy him whatever he wants.

HerMamas: How is Matthew doing now?

MG: Awesome! He is such a good baby. I have been so blessed with such a good baby. When he first got home he would have to eat every 2 hours and I would have to wake his little booty up so he could eat. Now he eats every 4 hours or so. He is a healthy eater. He doesn't cry, he just fusses and moves his arms around.

Baby Matthew 2 months old

Thank you so much Monique for sharing your amazing story with us! 
Leave a comment and share some words of wisdom with this first time Mom! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Do you keep all your kids artwork?

The other day I came home from work and looked through a pile of work my 2nd grade daughter had done at school. After I looked at a drawing of a school bus and a tree made with gum drops and marshmallows, I tossed them in the trash. My husband looked at me and said "Don't you keep anything!?"

I have made it a habit to look at everything my daughter does at school but only keep the big projects or things that show her progress and personality (like an about me questionnaire). If I kept everything I would need an entire room dedicated to her art work. I don't have a refrigerator big enough to display it all!

So I reached out and found a few fun things to do with all that art work.

This is how my sister deals with the art work in her house. (She has twins in 1st grade! She must have been drowning in crayon drawings!) A simple string on the wall with clothespins or even paper clips allows each kid to hang their work and lets my sister rotate often.

Clipboards are an easy and cheap way to display and rotate work. Just hang a few on a wall and every time a new one goes up, and old one comes down.

If you are looking for a little more stylish look DynamicFrames sells these great frames. They look beautiful on the wall and open easily to change the art work. It is also deep enough to hold 50 sheets.

You can get rid of  pass on the joy of your child's art work by mailing it out. They can send that beautiful picture of the clown to their favorite Aunt. They can exchange pictures with cousins or with out of town/state relatives.

Scanners have come a long way. Now you don't have to have a big bulky scanner attached to your computer. Computer tech-savvy parents can scan each piece of art work and save them in a file. This way everything is digitally saved and you won't feel as guilty when you throw away the original.

If you can't bear the thought of throwing anything your child creates away, you can try to organize and keep everything. A trip to your local office supply store should do the trick. A big binder and some sheet protectors can help. If you have the space you can keep a binder for each school year.

Tell us what do you do with all that art work?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fur-Babies - Guest Post by Brenda Medina

Homes with pets are uniquely their own. You could have a huge dog standing guard on the front lawn or a kitty cat that hides out in corners; some folks have bunnies or birds and some venture into the world of the exotic with lizards and snakes. Whatever pet you call your own, we understand that pets are a huge part of any family! Today one woman shares this adorable piece about what it's like to share her life with Fur-Babies, yes Fur-babies!

When you think of households with pets most people think of the norm: family dog that lives out back. It takes up the yard and is feed and cared for. But, then you have me. My pet-ownership is "over the top”! Not only do our three dogs eat and live inside our home, but they are considered our babies (Rocco the oldest, Moo Moo the middle child and Einstein the newest addition). They are a complete part of our entire family.          

            Our bed at times is a safe haven for all. And boy does it get crowded! It’s not only my boyfriend and I competing for a spot. On any given day, the bed is shared with my doggies, our beautiful 18-year-old daughter (from his previous relationship) and our wonderful 12- year-old godson/nephew. At dinner, our pups all get a spot around the dinner table. Rocco sits on my lap and waits to be feed! He simply taps Chris' (my boyfriend) arm and smiles. Yes, he smiles. Chris taught him how to smile for food! Then Moo Moo and Einstein sit by our feet and get their food too. 

When it comes to our annual summer trip to Yosemite, the doggies are not only included, but also get brand-spanking-new outfits for the occasion  Seeing Rocco jump into the water just to be near me tells you how much he needs to be near his human-momma. He is practically my shadow. Where ever I am, there is Rocco right behind me. When my boyfriend takes them out for their nightly walk Rocco returns not only scratching at the door to warn me he's back but also immediately finds me and claims his territory right next me. Moo Moo on the other hand is so in love with my boyfriend that every night she backs herself into him. Einstein on the other hand sleeps where she wants and does not require too much attention. Like kids, my fur-babies are all different and special.

             So yes, my pups are a BIG part of our lives. So much so that a few weeks ago someone tried to snatch Rocco from me while I was out walking him and I was so scared. Before I knew what I was doing I was pulling Rocco right back into my arms! The man was furious and slapped me across the face. I would do anything for my babies! And I would never allow someone to just walk away with them. They are my babies and I love them.

At the end of the day the new normal for me is a life with my doggies as part of our family. They are loyal and always there when I need them. Regardless what people think or say they are my babies (fur-babies, if you will) and a complete part of the family. In the future, I'm sure I'll be known as the " neighborhood dog lady" and I'm okay with that!
Brenda Medina shares her story with an open heart!
She considers her pups her babies and makes no apologies for that.
Her commitment to caring and loving her three dogs reminds us just how amazing pets can be. 

What kind of pets do you have? Share your pet adventures with us!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kids acting up? Turn to tea parties and dress up!

Last week was crazy challenging for this mom. The pressure was on at work. My schedule was busier than usual fitting in exercise, family dinners, meetings and so much more. As each day of the week went on, I noticed my 6 1/2 year old crankier and crankier and crankier. It took a lot for me to keep it together and honestly I wasn't always able to pick my battles.

During one of these battles, I realized that my son was probably just in need of a little fun! So I decided to step-up the "mommy and me" playtime. This insight was key. I pulled him aside and we planned how to spend time together playing and doing activities. I made sure these ideas were all interactive.

I also turned my attention to how I could engage my other children too. Needless to say, the tail-end of the week included a lot of tea parties and dress up. In fact, my daughter wore both her construction apron and big brother's personalized super hero cape all around town.

Active play works wonders, so the next time you want to pull your hair out because the kids are crankier than usual, try not to overreact in frustration and instead increase your playtime participation! Might seem apparent that kids need ample playtime, but more than that, kids need active playtime along with mom and/or dad. Watching parents act like pirates on a make-believe ship or squeeze into itsy-bitsy princess tents breeds plenty of connection. Personally, I see the twinkle in my children's eyes and the wonder in their stare when I bring out the kid in me and really connect with them!

Kids acting up more than usual in your home too? Share your insights below!