Friday, March 29, 2013

Currently Obsessed....

1. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (The Heist) are probably best known these days for their catchy "Thrift Shop" song.  I first caught on to them through co-workers and the rest is history, way over the top obsessive history, of course. Finally, rap music that isn't gimmicky radio rap with crappy lyrics about a bunch of nonsense (i.e. strippers). Macklemore raps about deeply personal issues like addiction (i.e. his personal recovery from alcoholism). The key being his struggles with recovery. I appreciate anyone who writes with passion and genuine emotions. This album is full of emotions, vulnerability and talent.

2. Wooden on Leadership: With a recent promotion came the opportunity to become a manager and supervise a team. I've led in different capacities before, but this time my professional growth has come with its challenges. It's not easy to go from peer to boss, so with books on leadership, my mentors and confidants I continue to come into my own. Wooden on Leadership is one of many of the leadership books I'm learning so much from these days. Leadership isn't always easy, but it's fulfilling and I'll take all the lessons I can get from a man like the one John Wooden was.

3. Fresh & Easy:  Lunch for around 2 bucks? Yes, please! I spent this month either devouring Fresh & Easy single dinners or purchasing their ready-made sandwiches and salads. Why am I so addicted? It's cheap, fairly healthy and very convenient. Plus, Fresh & Easy is super coupon-friendly! My favorite single dinners (for lunch) include: Chicken Tikka Masala and Turkey with Stuffing (cost $1.99)!

4. Coconut Oil: I read somewhere that it was good for eczema so I thought I would try some for my oldest daughter. It has not only helped soften her skin but I am using it for everything. I have used it for make-up remover, as a deep conditioner for my hair, as chap stick, skin lotion, for my youngest diaper rash and even used some to fry some pork chops. I cannot get enough of this stuff and next time will buy the giant industrial size!

5. Cinnamon Roll K-cup Coffee: Every morning as soon as I drop off my daughter, all I can think about is this coffee. As soon as I walk into my office the first thing I do is head to the Keurig and brew me up a big cup of this Cinnamon Roll flavor from the Donut House collection. With a little vanilla creamer this coffee is the perfect blend of sweet and bold.

6. The Truth About Love by Pink: Ever since her "there you go" days I have loved everything Pink does. We are about the same age and it feels like her music has grown up right along side me. Her pink hair may be gone, and she is now a Mommy, but her music is still powerful and filled with "girl power" type anthems. She is one of the current pop stars I don't mind my girls looking up to. This latest album is amazing. With great duets with artist like Eminem and Nate Reuss, the lead singer of Fun. This is the type of album you can listen to over and over again. And I do!

What are your current obsessions? 
We want to hear what you are into these days! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spelling Homework a Chore? We have some ideas to make it fun!

Every day after school my husband gives my daughter a practice spelling test. Any words she misses he has her write 5 times on a piece of paper. Ugh, just writing about that was boring! I can see why my daughter complains. Every week the words get harder and harder and her complaining gets louder and louder.

So as a way to keep the peace and keep my daughter interested in spelling I have come up with a few ways to make practicing spelling words more fun and interactive!

  • Take it outside. Grab a bucket of sidewalk chalk and have your child practice writing their spelling words on the sidewalk or driveway. Don't have chalk? Give them a cup of water and a paintbrush. They can paint the words on the sidewalk! 
  • Head to with the weeks spelling words!  Here you can make word searches and cross word puzzle and even cryptograms. This is a great way for your kid to have some fun while practicing spelling words. 
  • Grab a white board and dry erase markers and let them write the words on there. For some reason my kids LOVES this. 
  • Do you have a kid who loves being on the computer? Have them type out their words!
  • You can use your words to write a short and silly story. 
  • Do you have a set of magnet letters on your fridge? Clear a spot and have your child build the words with the magnets! 
  • Rainbow Writing can be fun. Give your child a set of colored pencils and have them trace each word over and over with different colors. 
How do you keep homework fun? 
Leave us comment and join in the fun! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Between Parent and Child - Book Review

 Published in 1965
I checked out Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim G. Ginott, from my local library about 7 weeks ago and I haven't been able to put it down. Two book renewals later and I'm still re-reading some of the best stuff. I've used a lot of what the book outlines (and details with examples) and I must say I have found that I am communicating much more patiently and effectively with both my 6 and 2 1/2 year old. 

To be clear, I am not being compensated for this review. I am reviewing solely because of the impact reading it has had in my home, but be full-warned, the ideas outlined in this book don't fit every parenting style and I encourage a debate in the comment section of this blog post.

So now that you've been warned... here's the gist (or at least a few key points to ponder):

1. Tell your kids when you're angry: Show the appropriate expression of feelings by expressing your own and be open to children expressing theirs. Now this doesn't mean to yell at them or act angrily, but to simply state when you feel upset and why. Calmly expressing your feelings teaches so much more than preaching about how your children should calmly communicate theirs. Also, sometimes parents might think we're not suppose to express feelings and just be perfect and all-together. Wrong! 

2. Careful how you praise children: May sound crazy but overly praising a child as the "best" at anything might be debilitating for them because children become addicted to approval instead of feeling internally fulfilled and self-confident. Naturally, kids can't always be the best, at everything, but boy do us parents say they are. I mean it's hard not to, I get that. According to Dr. Ginott, there's a place for praise, but a parent should aim to praise hard work and effort because everyone can always control how hard they work. In fact, the book talks about how to lead children to praise themselves i.e. instead of saying "I am proud of you" say "I see how excited you are, you must be so proud of YOURSELF?" Kids begin to hear that and think about their own self-worth and not the opinion of others (even their parents). For me, this is critical in a day in age where kids will look to peers for acceptance. I don't want my daughter to seek praise from a middle-school crush, but to understand her own self-worth internally.  

3. Stop helping kids with their homework in 1st grade: Wow, here's a radical idea. Of course I still plan to sit with my son and help him when needed, but Dr. Ginott suggests backing off at 1st grade. Seems maybe crazy, but I swear I get it. And again, this may not be for every parent. In my case, my son does his own homework every week. All I do is sign it after thoroughly reviewing it by mid-to-late week. Sure he has questions here and there, but he is truly independent. He comes home from school Monday well before I arrive home and is eager to get to his weekly packet. He's usually over with a pretty extensive (writing, reading, & math) packet by Wednesday and when I review it, I find he's done quite well all on his own. The point of this is that children are seeking independence and can usually be much more self-efficient than we realize. This is the same idea that kids should and can do their own laundry by age 7. I'm trying that next.

In a nutshell, Between Parent and Child discusses not new tactics per-say, I mean it was published over 40 years ago, but definitely not commonly used tactics. Some of these concepts might be hard to fathom since we were raised differently or are simply used to a different idea of child-rearing  I wish I could go on and on about the communication strategies outlined in this book, but instead I'd say buy or borrow this book today.

What do you think about telling kids you're angry, limiting praise and not helping with homework after 1st grade... Makes sense? Completely disagree? 
Comment below...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Triplets Plus One- Save Money $$$!

The idea of having triplets sounds like it would be fun but also pretty expensive. On this installment of The Triplets Plus One, Rachel gives us some of her money saving tips!

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with triplets I have become obsessed with our family finances.  I read articles about the thousands of dollars it takes to raise a child from birth until the age of 18 and honestly it scared me!  I’m like all parents who want only the best for their children and figuring out how to do that on one income can sometimes be quite challenging.  So over the past four years I have learned a few tricks and tips to save money without looking like a weirdo from Extreme Couponing by purchasing 100 bottles of mustard.

Set Up A Monthly Budget
For an entire month keep track of every last receipt, even if it’s just for a $.99 drive-thru burger.  I kept an envelope in my purse and my husband kept his receipts in his wallet.  At the end of the month categorize the receipts in order to organize them.  This lets you know what you’re spending your money on (it can be quite shocking). Write down all your fixed expenses like your mortgage, electricity, cable, etc. Now you have a basic monthly budget.Here’s where things can get tricky.  Are you spending more per month than you are earning?  If you’re like we were, you are, and that’s no good!  So what I did is look at my receipts and figure out what I was spending on frivolous stuff I didn't need.  My husband spent $30 on vending machines alone. Yikes!  That sounds crazy, but how easy is it to just stick a dollar in a vending machine for a soda or bag of crackers.  So we vowed to do no more frivolous spending and no more eating out for our lunches.

Buy Groceries At The Grocery Store!
I know it seems like a basic concept, but you can really save a lot of money by just shopping for food at the grocery store.  For every dollar my husband was putting in the vending machine at work, I knew I could buy the exact same item at the grocery store for a fraction of the price.  So I had him write a list of stuff he would like for lunch, as well as snacks and drinks for break times and I purchased it all at the grocery store. A $1.50 12 oz. bottle of soda in the vending machine was $.83 a bottle purchased at the grocery store in a 6 pack for $4.99.  It may not seem like much but $.67 saved on every bottle (say you drink 20 bottles a month) is $13.40 saved in a month or $160.80 saved in a year!  Just on bottles of soda!  Once I did the math on everything I was buying, saving money became easy.  And the thought of saving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year on just food, became very exciting.  That was money I could be putting into a college fund, vacation fund, or just saved for a rainy day.

Clip Coupons!
When the show Extreme Couponing came out a lot of people were amazed at what you could save by just cutting out pieces of paper from the newspaper.  I had been couponing since my babies were born in 2008 so I was already aware of how to use coupons.  Let me just say, I have NEVER used a coupon to buy things my family doesn't use, and I have NEVER nor will I ever use coupons to buy 100 jars of pickles my family cannot possibly eat. I started out by purchasing one Sunday newspaper and clipping coupons for things I know I would buy and use.  I organized them in a 3-ring binder with baseball card sheets into categories like Frozen Foods, Baby, and Cleaning Products, so on and so on.  Next, I would look at our grocery stores weekly circular.  This lets you know what the store has on sale and I use that as a basis for what I would be preparing for our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  If chicken breasts were on sale for $.99 a pound I would look up recipes on the Internet for creative ways to prepare chicken breasts and that’s what I made for dinner.  If the recipe was good, I saved it in my coupon binder.  If the recipe was bad I threw it away!  Next, came time to use my coupons.  If the store had yogurt on sale for 10 cartons for $5.00 and I had a coupon to save $1.00 on 10 cartons, I matched them up.  Instead of my yogurt being $.50 each (on sale) it became $.40 each (with a coupon).  The savings over an entire month became amazing!  I was saving money on things my family needed and enjoyed and not once did I ever feel put out by doing just a little bit of work.

Kids Eat Free! 
Those three little words became the most exciting thing in the Triplets Plus One Mom’s vocabulary.  Certain restaurants will set aside a specific night of the week where kids 12 and under can get a child’s plate for free with the purchase of an adult entrĂ©e.  This was so wonderful for our family because taking a family of six to a restaurant can be really pricey, so we always pick a restaurant where we know they run this promotion and go on the special night of the week for a special treat for the whole family.  By doing this we save up to 50% of our total bill and still get a fun family night out.

Vacation On A Budget
We don’t get to take very many vacations but when we do we get very excited and very nervous at the cost of six people vacationing.  One year we decided we wanted to see the Grand Canyon and set our sights on making that happen.  I found an awesome website called, that specialized on travel options for big families. I found hotel rooms that could accommodate our family at no extra per person charge, or reserving a huge (and expensive) suite. I also researched the cities we were visiting and found awesome reviews on local restaurants that we kid friendly as well as wallet friendly.  I printed out addresses and phone numbers and when we were hungry we had some amazing food prepared by super friendly locals that loved visiting with our family. I also found a super cool app for my i-phone called Gas Buddy that finds gas stations near you and gives you the price per gallon that each station was charging.  This was an easy way to save money on gas as well as get directions to the closest station. Our Grand Canyon Vacation lasted 6 days and 5 nights and we loved every minute of it!  We also loved the fact that we only spent $1000 for the whole adventure.  This included gas, hotels, food, entertainment, and entrance into the park.  Not too shabby!

My Top Five Tips
Saving money can be beneficial no matter what size family you have.  It really only takes a few minutes a day set aside to saving money and you can easily get your family out of debt or saving a few extra dollars for something fun.  Here are my personal top five tips for saving money for your family:

1. Start small!  Set a small goal, say signing up for a discount card from your grocery store, and go from there.  Any small change you make toward saving money will add up in the long run.  So go for it! 

2. Prepare (most) of your meals at home.  Even if you’re a busy working mom, you can plan to put a meal in your crockpot or cook extra on a less busy night to eat as leftovers on another busier night.  Eating at home is not only budget friendly but also much more healthy.  Your children will look back at the times you all sat around the table sharing a meal as a cherished memory.

3. Buy what you need and use what you buy!  Only buy things you know your family will need and make sure you keep them organized in such a way that everyone in the house can use them.  A tube of toothpaste for $.50 bought with a coupon is only good if someone can find it to brush their teeth.

4. Set up a separate email account that you can have all your deals sent to.  I set up a free Yahoo account that I always use when signing up for a retailers discount program.  That way my personal email isn't always full of offers I may or may not use.  Also this is a great way to get deeply discounted or free merchandise from a retailer, restaurant, or grocery store.

5. Have fun with your savings!  You earned it!  The best part about saving money is knowing you did your best for your family.  Your effort can pay for things you never knew your family could afford like vacations or private education.  It’s all obtainable if you can become a dedicated saver!

You can find Rachel's other posts here: 

Triplets Plus One = Four Times the Fun!

-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. Her besting savings in one grocery trip was 86%! She was so excited she taped the receipt to the fridge for over a month!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cursive Writing

When my daughter started first grade a big chunk of the year was spent on learning cursive writing. We spent hours at the dining room table with those large lined pieces of paper writing words over and over again. Making sure that each letter hit the top and bottom lines and did not go over, and making sure all letters were properly closed.

Now that she is in 2nd grade all her work has to be done in cursive. It is also a category on her report cards. All that time we have spent correcting and erasing and rewriting I kept asking myself if this was really such an important thing for my daughter to be learning and spending so much time on.

I have not used cursive writing since I learned it in grade school. In high school all work was in print or on a word processor (yes I am that old). From college on I have used computers for everything. At work my day is spent on a computer with the occasional post-it note jot down in printing. I really believe that the only adults who are using cursive writing regularly are teachers who are teaching cursive writing.

I really think that kids in this day and age of computers, smart phones and tablets should be learning typing skills. I never took a typing class and today have become pretty quick at the hunt and peck method of typing, but an actual class to learn proper typing skills would have been great and beneficial.

What do you think? Should cursive writing go the way of the dinosaur? 
Or is it a lost art that needs to make a come back?
Leave us a comment and let us know!

Friday, March 22, 2013

InfoMamas- Chores

Happy Friday! 
Today we have a new episode of InfoMamas!
We are talking about how and when to give chores to your kids. 

Do your kids have chores? How do you keep them motivated to do those chores? 
Do you pay them for each chore or do you give a weekly allowance?
Leave us a comment! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do-it-Yourself Easter Baskets

Growing up, my mom was the queen of the Easter Basket!

Every year she'd recycle colorful baskets and stuff them full of goodies from the ninety nine cent store. When I thought about having kids, I knew I'd do exactly what mom did. I even assumed every mom assembled these by scratch.

But Easter Baskets are everywhere and in every type of store... especially toy stores. They don't have to be a do-it-yourself project, but I find the personal touch and time spent on this project much more meaningful.

In all of my years as a mom, I have always made my kids' Easter Baskets and I take great pride in "do-it-yourself-99-cent-store" baskets. Now you don't have to only stockpile items from the 99 cent store. There's plenty of other great items at places like Big Lots and the $1.00 section at Target (visit Target early in the month). You also don't have to be limited to bargain stores, but for me, I get a kick out of my 99 cent store Easter Basket run, every single year.

Why do-it-yourself?

1. Add personal items that really speak to your kiddo i.e. personal notes. Add their favorite items of all kinds from fruit snacks to puzzles, stuffed animals to school supplies.
2. You can opt out of items usually found in pre-made Easter Basters. For instance, parents can go the candy-less route and make an Easter Basket that's candy-free and still fun.
3. Truly personalize by going with a theme i.e. water works... bubbles, water balloons, etc. or a religious spin that includes prayer books and crosses (might be neat for kids learning about Easter in Catecism).
4. Finally, this is the pinterest age. With so many great ideas just one google search away... why not assemble a uniquely personal and fun Easter Basket?

Candyless Baskets- Books, Games and Stuffed Toys

Some Essentials I like to include:
- A Book (usually on something that kids are currently into (My daughter loves princesses and my son Legos).
- Plastic Easter Eggs Stuffed with Jelly Beans. You can decide against candy and replace it with school items like erasers, mini-sharpeners, stickers, and more.
- A Main Toy i.e. a mini-remote controlled car or a new barbie.
- A Toy for Sharing. Maybe your kids open their Easter Baskets at family functions. If so, they'll immediately get a kick out of enjoying a mini-game of checkers, uno cards, or something similar.
- Symbols of Easter like a stuffed bunny rabbit, a toy ball in the shape of an egg, or maybe something religious.

I manage to do all of the above and spend between 10-15 bucks on each basket and as a momma of three I appreciate the bargain! Again, you can spend more than 15 bucks, but definitely get in the "do-it-yourself spirit" and personalize this year's Easter Basket!

What would you add to a do-it-yourself Easter Basket?
Share your favorite do-it-yourself holiday projects by commenting below.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

After School Snacks

Lately everyday after school my daughter is STARVING! I can't blame her, at about 3pm at the office I get the same feeling. This new after school snacking has left us with a problem. After school my daughter was eating a bowl of cereal and a granola bar and when dinner came around, well you can guess what was happening. She was not hungry. This new afternoon snack was really throwing us for a loop. With the chaos of changing out of uniforms, homework and going through backpacks trying to find a healthy satisfying snack that would not ruin dinner was tough!

I needed a plan. First I needed some ideas for after school snacks. I asked around and searched the internet and made up a list of some healthy after school snacks. Remember to use low or non-fat, whole wheat and sugar-free ingredients when you can! 
  • Zucchini Muffins I love that these are packed with veggies! One big muffin and a glass of milk!
  • Graham Crackers topped with fruit yogurt and banana slice. 
  • Whole grain waffle with peanut butter sliced banana and drizzled with honey.  (minus the peanut butter for my kid!)
  • Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
  • Edamame sprinkled with sea salt
  • Avocado and cheese quesadilla
  • Grilled cheese with apple slices
  • Fruit Smoothie
  • Crackerwiches: Saltine cracker topped with peanut butter and honey, a second saltine cracker topped with jelly and put together like a sandwich. (I loved these as a kid!!!)
  • String Cheese with Apple slices
  • Cottage Cheese with mandarin oranges
The next step to make the afternoon snack easier was to add it in to our weekly menu. This way you know in advance was is being prepared that day after school. This makes it easier to have things prepared and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand. 

We want to hear from you!
Share with us your favorite childhood after school snack. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Being a Dad Means to Me

Here at Hermamas we love to hear a male perspective on the issues. We asked 3 men who we admire a 

very simple question........ 

What Being a Dad means to me?

Justin and Emma

"Being a Dad, to me, means to be everything and more to my daughter, Emma. I take advantage of every day I spend with her, and I make sure she knows how much she means to me every chance I get. This little girl is my whole world, and seeing how much she appreciates the fun trips we take to the park or a museum or even to "Donald's" as she calls it, makes it all worth it. I love being a Dad, the most important guy in my princess' life. Being a Dad is by far the best experience I've ever had in my life, and I am very thankful to be as important to my daughter as I know she is to me."

Gabriel & Melody

"It's the best gift a woman can give a man. Being a dad means providing for your kids in every way possible. Showing them love, spending quality time, making unforgettable memories with them. Showing them that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Teaching them right from wrong, letting them be independent and to make their own decisions. Playing with your kids from playing sports, dancing, to painting their nails & playing with Barbie’s to make them happy. To protect them & being their #1 man in their life. Greatest responsibility I can ever have, you have someone that looks up to you and learns from you and will do anything & everything to put and keep a smile on their face. Showering them with kisses, hugs, & lots of love. Being a dad completes me and there's no better feeling than seeing your kids happy with big smiles on their faces." 

Edson and Ashton Santiago

"The most AMAZING experience I have ever had is becoming a DAD! I love the fact that it's going to be for the rest of my life! My son Ashton Santiago is a year and a half old. For as long as I can remember all I wanted in life was to have a son, and thanks to God and my son's mom, my wish came true on August 19, 2011! Being a single father means not being able to see my son daily, so the time I do have with him is spent with 100% focus on him and our relationship! It means the world to me that he loves me, that he knows who I am and that he runs to me when ever he sees me.

He motivates me so much. For him I work harder, smarter, I have more goals, and I've developed more as a person. I learn how to be a father every single day whether or not I'm with him. Being a father means responsibility for a beautiful baby boy. It means happiness, happier than I've ever been. It means teaching and learning. Teaching my son respect, love, how to defend himself, sports, affection, words, languages, honesty, responsibility,independence and many other things. Learning how to change diapers, how to care, learning that he does everything I do and the way I do it! Like most boys, my son is a non-stop, full of energy, always-laughing explorer! He keeps me wide awake and laughing all the time! Being a dad means protection, involvement and love!"

Justin, Gabriel and Edson! Thank so much for sharing your thoughts on fatherhood. 
 You are amazing fathers! 
So guys we want to know, what does being a Dad mean to you?

Monday, March 18, 2013

What happens after two?

Naturally, I have only two arms and for a long time that's all I thought I'd need. This morning I thought differently! My oldest son has spent approximately 5 years of his life crawling into my bed. This happens every single morning.

My 2 y.o. daughter recently began the same ritual. She however wakes up before her big brother. Now most mornings are the same: He comes, she's there, they begin a battle for who gets to lay next to mom. My daughter protests "NO, me!" my son chimes in "Noooooo, ME!" Every morning the same battle ensues.

Of course, I remind them on a daily basis that I luckily have two arms. Then like clockwork we snuggle into new positions. One ends up on mommy's left side while the other shifts their way onto my right. And in that moment all is right with the word.

Thing is... I have three children. Soon my youngest who is new to walking will waddle his way over to cozy up next to mom. I'm sure of it. And what will happen then? Mommy only has two arms like I often remind them. I seriously laid in bed this morning imagining where I'd place my third little bundle in the not-so-distant future.

So parents of multiples... Inquiring minds like mine want to know: what happens after two?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Meet Our Sponsor- A Bunch of Britt Designs

A Bunch of Britts Design is an Etsy shop that offers prints, printables and custom blog elements. This shop is filled with soft colors, beautiful typography and hilarious quotes from Liz Lemon. She is also the designer of our amazing HerMamas header. I recently sat down with the owner of A Bunch of Britts Design; Crystal Britt. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A day in the life..... Night Time Routine

Yesterday Irene gave us a look into her morning routine. Today I am going to do the same and like Irene I am going to keep it real when it comes to the night time routine in my house. I work full-time and usually get home at about 5pm each evening. This gives me 3 hours and a whole bunch of things to get done before bedtime. It's like a daily marathon for me.

5:00-5:03: Step out of my car to find my girls running out the front door towards me. There is usually a "Don't run into the street!" yelled at some point and then lots of hugs, kisses and "How was your day's".

5:03-5:15: Walk into the house with my 7 year old talking non-stop and my 2 year old attached to my leg. I look over the completed homework and practice spelling test and any other flyers or notes from school. I unpack her lunchbox and then repack it for the next day. Put everything into the fridge and realize I forgot to put in a note. Add note and put it back again.

5:15-6:00: This time of the day is kind of like free-time. And by free-time I mean that I need to squeeze in quality time with both girls. Yes a full 45 minutes!!! Usually I will grab my tablet and hand it to my oldest and ask my little to grab a book of her own. We all climb into my bed and the oldest will read to me a few chapters of her current book. These days we are reading the Dork Diaries series. I will admit if it wasn't for the 2 year old jumping around I would totally fall asleep.

6:00-6:30: Time to make dinner. I turn on the New Found Glory station on Pandora and get to the stove. I saute, boil, and bake all while trying not to trip over my 2 year old who tends to either be riding a bike in circles around the kitchen or rolling a giant exercise ball back and forth. I try to distract her by asking her to grab forks and napkins and help set the table.

6:30-7:30: Dinner it always the same. My 7 year old will complain about what we are eating. She will push food around her plate and repeat things like "Can I be done?" or "I'm kind of tired" and "I'm full". Then my husband and I start our favorite duet of "Just eat your food". While this is happening the 2 year old is stuffing her face to the point of choking. Once she is done she will whine about getting down. Then at the end of the meal a miracle always happens. The oldest is no longer full or tired and the little one wants to sit in her chair. All this because my oldest will ask for some kind of treat or dessert. I say no to a treat about 75% of the time. Now everyone is grumpy.

7:30-7:45: Shower Time! I recently changed from giving the girls a bath to a shower. This is always the most stressful part of our night. The 2 year old will repeat over and over "Not a shower Mom, A BATH!" I can get her in and out in about 4 minutes. My 7 year old has severe eczema and baths and showers are painful because she has open rashes over a lot of her body. There is a lot of crying and stern talking. It is heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time.

7:45-8:00: I grab pajamas for the little one and she will cry because they are not her princess pajamas. Then I spend about 7 minutes combing my 2 year old long ass hair while at the same time telling my oldest to make sure to use a lot of heavy lotion all over. Then shuffle everyone back to the bathroom to brush teeth. The girls fight over the water cup.

8:00-8:10: The girls are finally in bed. Well the oldest is in bed and the 2 year old is in the general area of her bed. I will bargain with the little one. "If you get into your bed I will read you a story". This will work for about a minute. As soon as I start reading, she starts sliding out of bed and before I know it she is in the middle of the room singing Disney princess songs.

8:11: Lights go out, fish get fed, the pandora "Disney Childrens" station gets turned on. Kisses are given over and over and then I slowly close the door. I have made it to the finish line!

We want to hear about your night time routine!
Leave us a comment.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A day in the life... Morning Routine

Writing for always brings me joy. I get to share my ideas on many things to hopefully help women (moms and non-moms) through some of life's big transitions, decisions, ups and downs. I realize that sometimes in all the writing it may appear that things are easy and smooth. Things are normal and nothing about normal means easy and smooth. 

To illustrate check out this day-in-the-life glimpse... the Morning Routine edition:

6:15am-6:45am: One or more of my children climb into bed with me. Usually the 6 and 2 year old do this within minutes of each other to fight for the spot next to mom. In my slumber, I finagle each of them into my arms. Who knows what will occur when my 15 mos old is old enough to climb (yes, climb) out of his crib to "fight" for momma's "third" arm.

7am: Alarm goes off. I immediately pound the snooze button and snuggle closer to the babies laying next to me.

7:05am: Alarm goes off again for good measure.

7:15am: Another alarm reminding me to give my grade-schooler a 5-minute warning.

7:15-7:25am: 15 mos. old wakes up and begins to either read alone (after grabbing a book he snatched from the bookshelf next to his crib), "talk" to himself, scream for mama or at our dog, cry and/or poop. It's usually the latter.

7:25am: Give the grade-schooler another 5-minute warning (but this time, I MEAN IT). He usually checks his own watch as if I'd be lying about the time.

7:30am: Grade-schooler gets out of bed and into his closet where he often dresses himself unless this is one of those mornings where mommy MUST pick out his clothes for him. Either way one of us is always picking out holey socks, pants and/or underwear (no judgement, please - it's almost impossible for my kid to leave school without a new hole on his jeans, usually brand new jeans).

7:35am: Bathroom time next. Where I always chant the same thing: "brush teeth & hair - wash face & hands."

7:36am:  I ask my grade-schooler to brush his teeth again and "USE TOOTHPASTE this time!" The usual response "oh, I forgotttttttt!" I say to myself:  "Everyday? Really!" Come in and re-brush his hair (when necessary). Remember to wipe off nasty toothpaste crusties from the side of his mouth.

7:37-7:40am: Make grade-schooler's lunch, but 1st check if my 15 mos. old has pooped yet... must decide if I am dealing with a stinky diaper before or after lunch packing. FYI: we're talking every morning there's poop at some point during this routine (and if it's anything like today... it's watery, stinky and running up the side of my little one's back... gross, but true).

7:40-45am:  Breakfast-to-go decided on (toaster strudel, pancakes, waffles, yogurt or fruit).

7:45-7:50am: Wake up a usually crabby 2.5 year old to go pee-pee, get some shoes on her and decide on a backpack. Because she cannot take big brother to school without her backpack or Dora Purse or Hello Kitty Purse. Silently, I am praying that one of these three options is readily available.

7:50-7:55am: Check that grade-schooler has school folder in his backpack and lunch with him. Make sure everyone has shoes, sweaters and DIAPERS on. Lug THREE kids to the car to take ONE to school. Strap three kiddos into their car seats. Usually have one or more of my tiny troop crying, complaining, laughing, yelling, chatting or any combination of the aforementioned.

7:55am-8:05am: Deal with a crazy long valet line at my son's school drop-off (a drive that should take 4 minutes normally takes up to 15 mins.). Console with my 2.5 year old that wants to stay at school with her big brother, get out of her car seat or use the potty that very instant while we're stuck in traffic. At this point, it feels like I've been up for about 4 hrs. 

8:05am: Drop my son off saying my usual spill, "I love you, God Bless You, Have a nice day." I ask for my kiss and he's off with a quick good-bye to his lil' sis and lil' bro.

8:10am: Back home with 20 minutes left to ready myself and our home before grandma arrives to take over and let this working momma leave for the office!

This is my morning in a nutshell with the occasional variation. Regardless, it's a mad-dash and a test of patience as I make sure to get my son and myself ready and going for the day!

What's your morning routine like? Share your day-in-the-life adventures with us! 

And make sure to click the blog tomorrow for A day in the life... the Night Time Routine!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

An Officer and A Gentleman…A Family Story- Guest Post by Simi Rush

I have a very high admiration and respect for military wives. They deal with long deployments and many are raising children as a single parent for long stretches of time. They have the stress of a spouse so very far away and when they do return they have to deal with what can sometimes be a rough transition for the family. Simi Rush is one of my dearest friends. She is married to a fantastic guy who is also a military man. Together they have a beautiful son named Ronin. I asked Simi to tell us a little bit about the realities of being a military wife. 

When Elissa asked me to write about being a military spouse,I thought to myself “sure, no problem.”  I went for it. I started writing away about my life now; a full time mom with a full time job, juggling life as a single parent with a very busy two year old and a “gone again” naval officer. I re-read it and realized how negative I sounded, and how the post read as “woe is me.” Truth is: I don’t feel that way! Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I cry in my car listening to a song that reminds me of him, or feel a deep sense of sadness when I realize how dad hasn't experienced all the milestones hit by our little guy, but all in all, I know this is the life I was meant to be in.

So, I scrapped what I wrote and have decided to keep it real…at least from my perspective. 

Here’s my story:

I have been married for 7 years to an incredibly awesome man- his new nickname among his peers at work is “BTR” (Big Time Rush- Rush is our last name). Ask, Elissa, she gave him the good ole Mexican family grill when we first started dating over dessert and tea in Hillcrest. She might correct me, but I think he got the OK “nod.” I remember telling my sister (Elissa’s Boo) that if someone were to bet me a million dollars if this was the man I was going to end up with, I would have put my money on his number!

Fast forward seven years after being married and all kinds of Navy adventures: 4 deployments, port visits in Thailand, Dubai, Bahrain; moves to Monterey, CA; Newport, RI, and then back to where we call “home,” in San Diego, CA. Then, adding a little guy to our family in 2010-- all I can say is the military life provides a lot of adventure and change.  

The Navy is also rich with traditions and customs.  Anytime you are on a Navy ship there are all kinds of bells and whistles (literally), and each symbolizes something. It’s pretty cool to be part of.  In addition to that, the military has its own language. I remember one of my first gifts- it was a Navy dictionary, filled with acronyms and what everything means. I swear half the time I talk in all acronyms and life gets really wild when acronyms from 2 parts of your life overlap. Whoa! Let’s just say, I have learned to read a lot of Navy lingo- from paychecks to orders. I admit that I kind of enjoy it now, and sometimes have to remind myself around non- military friends and newly minted military spouses they don’t understand and often explain all the nitty gritty details.

The military takes care of their own. There are so many resources available, that it’s almost hard to sift through what is what. Each “command,”the place that each sailor is assigned to, has the distinct responsibility of taking care of each service member and their families. When my husband was selected to take on the job of executive and then commanding officer, the Navy sent us both to school—to train us on how to take care of our Navy families. It is a choice, so I have chosen to help by reaching out to the wives and other family members and try to schedule events to let them know that I am right “there”with them.  In part, I hope to dispel the perception that if you are an officer’s spouse that life is easier. There are no special “perks,” and contrary to what some believe, there are many added stresses for the commanding officer, because no matter what happens, if there is any sort of snafu, it’s “game over” career wise.  As a spouse of someone in this role, it’s incredibly important to listen and be supportive, because they are often the receivers and have to help everyone else.

We are an on-the-go family. We have been that way since we have been together. So when daddy is away, we keep incredibly busy to help the time pass. I do what I can to focus on spending quality time with my little guy,and admit I feel selfish for getting to have all the special memories and moments without having to share him with anyone.

We have less than 100 days to go on this deployment… I am blessed to have an incredibly supportive network of people in my life: my family- my sister has flown from Chicago more times than I can count to spend time with us, my parents come down as often as they can, and my other sister has put thousands of miles on her car driving back and forth from LA to watch the little guy when I need a break.  My non-military friends, who know that I am better when I keep busy; so they come over for wine nights, offer up their babysitting services, and schedule girl’s nights out. 

Then, there are my military friends,who I now call my “sweeper sisters,” who are in the thick of it, just like I am. I admit, that it is sometimes easier to hang with my military friends when he’s gone because they just get it- they never ask “when is he coming home,” or“how do you do it?” They do it, too. It’s a reality we all go through, and the solidarity that comes with this unspoken understanding, is like free therapy. We can bitch and laugh at the same time.And, if someone’s special someone is to come home sooner than the others’ we relish with them at becoming “whole” again, but also know the challenge there union can bring—getting back into a routine when daddy has been away takes time and patience.

Finally, I am able to be the Navy wife because I picked the best person to share this life with. I truly did marry the Officer and the Gentleman. Although it’s not ideal, I guess I knew a little bit of what I was signing up for when we fell in love. We communicate sometimes more than our“never gone” married counterparts (#lovetechnology). We know how precious the time is and how important it is to communicate our day to day to keep each other in the know. I am lucky to have a guy whose work persona is different than who he is as a dad, a partner, a friend, a son, and a brother.

So, stay tuned for our next adventure. I am sure it will be ripe with just enough change to make us feel like we are turning the page in a new chapter of a great book!

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Simi. 
And for the record your husband passed my interrogation with flying colors! I would have married you two right there at Extraordinary

Do you have a question for Simi? Or are you a military spouse yourself? 
Leave us a comment we would love to hear from you.

- Simi Rush is currently a Grant Manager, a wife and Mommy to 2 year old Ronin. Her favorite things to do with her son are to practice facial expressions in the mirror and chasing him around the park. She has a freakishly good memory. She is the only person who has made me laugh so hard that my face was literally sore the next day. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

One Tip That Can Help You Survive the Terrible Two's

Just say YES!

Okay, not really, but sort of.

I've learned to let my two year old test her limitations and grow from them. This means she often wants to take charge and do things on her own. With my oldest, I'd step in and do it all for him. Little did I know this was actually making things worse. The terrible twos were truly a disaster fueled by tantrums and tears with my firstborn. See, I imagined he couldn't do what he wanted, so there was no use in letting him try or even pretending that he did in fact complete a task.

Developing toddlers want to feel powerful and in control which manifests in so many power struggles if we allow it to. There are many times when we can't necessarily say yes to a tantruming toddler, but when we can, we should. For instance, my daughter has this thing about having to unlock the car door. She can't quite do it yet, but every morning she thinks she does. I add that 30 second transaction to my morning and role play with her instead of experiencing the screaming and crying because mommy didn't let her open the door alone!

For my two year old, her list of must-do-alone tasks sometimes feels never-ending....

*push the grocery cart
*cook dinner on the stove (not kidding)
*drive the car (still, not kidding)
*put on a dress at bedtime
*etc., etc., etc.

So my daughter pushes a mini-grocery store cart when we're out shopping, "cooks" (away from the stove), sits on my lap to "drive," is often fed finger foods to hand-feed and gets to dress up in her princess dress over pajamas at bedtime! She's doing what she wants and what works for mom and dad. We are saying YES (when possible) while keeping the situation safe and reasonable. 

Then there are moments when parents must say no and though it may not be pretty it's necessary. So tantrums and episodes will occur. My two year old has her moments, but letting her test her independence has really relieved some of this so-called terrible twos stuff. We do our best and try to create a WIN-WIN for everyone's sanity and sake!

Share your tips too - we can use all the tips we can get!

Friday, March 8, 2013

What I Should Have Said

We have all been here. In a situation where we were tongue tied. Then hours later all the words you wish you would have said surface. This just happened to Jamie G. 

Recently Jamie was at a doctors office for a follow-up appointment for her 2 year old son. While in the waiting room Jamie was given dirty looks and could plainly hear a woman talking about her and her son. In the moment Jamie ignored her and let the woman's words hurt her feelings. It was obvious she needed to vent. Who wouldn't after such an incident? So I suggested she write a letter to the woman.......

Dear Lady sitting in the doctor's office waiting room with her daughter holding her Grandson,

                 I did not appreciate the glare you gave me while my son was playing with his train on the kid table, yes I said KID TABLE, at the doctors in the waiting room. Then you went and bad mouthed my son in Spanish while he organized 2 chairs in a row and started playing drums on them with his hands. How and when did him being full of energy and creativity become, as you put it “trouble making". You said that he was "causing problems, he had too much energy, and that’s what happens when his mom never watches him”. And that is just what I overheard. I can only imagine what else you said about us.

        I saw you look down on us and I just sat there truly saddened at how cruel you are. My son had visited urgent care just 3 days before this and was in pain. While he was in pain all I wanted was his usual self back. I walked right past you as they called us back and I felt your eyes glaring at me. I felt guilty and it affected me so much that I told the doctor. His response was “ That is how little boys are full of energy it’s normal. HOW RUDE!” So as I was coming home all the sadness went away and I felt like I had to stand up for what was right. I felt that my feelings should have not been ignored. I want you to know that I worked with kids as a site leader at an after school program and I know what is appropriate public behavior. I have been a stay at home mom since my son was born, and I do watch him, all day, everyday. I encourage his creativeness and I let him be a kid. We were at a Doctors office lady. All I did was let my son be himself. He wasn't doing anything wrong! He is a normal 2 year old who is full of energy. Like all other 2 year olds he is rambunctious, vivacious, lively, sweeter than life, healthy, thriving, lovable toddler. No we do not encourage sugar in his diet because he is a natural energizer bunny all day. 

                 You made me feel like something was wrong with us and that we needed to change but  I have come to the conclusion that ....

I just kindly ask that next time you sit in an office and you decide to lay judgment on a 2 year old have compassion. You can't judge someone by sitting in a waiting room with them for a short period of time. So lady please next time think twice and love others how you would want to be loved! Next time and I hope there is not a next time I will not let someone make us feel any less or give us the stink eye like you did. 

Seriously who could bad mouth this face? 

Has this ever happened to you? When you wish you would have said something when you had the chance? 

Jamie is Mommy to 2 year old Michael and is married to her charming and funny husband Michael. Jamie is sweet as sugar. At her son's last birthday party while unwrapping gifts she referred to a Spiderman toy as a "Spiderman Barbie". She has 5 older sisters so this boy stuff is still new to her. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Girlfriend Date Night

I love a good date night. I still make time to date my husband (after 7 years of marriage), my kids and even my girlfriends. To me dating is simply dedicated time spent bonding and nourishing relationships. 

Now for busy moms like me, this doesn't have to mean hours on end spent away from home, but it should be time one's eager to invest. HerMamas co-creator Elissa is my go-to-girlfriend these days and she and I live about 100 miles away from each other. So a great way to stay connected is virtually! Use technology to date your girlfriends! Plenty of couples date this way to keep long-distance relationships working and girlfriends are no exception! You don't have to be neighbors to feel close. For Elissa and I there isn't a day we're not chatting via Facebook, text, email, Facetime, and even old-fashioned snail-mail! We're sharing it all from the mundane grocery shopping adventures to full on pep talks. It is my bond with her and other girlfriends that bring me comfort and balance. 

Make the TIME for friends because all too often they end up at the bottom of a busy mom's list of priorities! Book a periodic date night with gals pals and enjoy! Last week I was able to hang with a group of fun-loving sorority sisters. We each purchased an Amazon Local Deal (keeping it affordable at $20 per person) and got together for a painting on canvass class. All was provided for the evening: supplies, instructions, etc. Plus the company providing this deal "Brushstrokes and Beverages" hosts these painting lessons at local restaurants so 1/2 off appetizer and drink specials really rounded out the night. By the end of it, one gal pal was ready to log onto eBay and auction off her Paris inspired canvass. This was a really fun night!

Finally, if getting out of the house is a challenge due to childcare or whatnot how about hosting a stay-at-home date night for a group of gal pals:
  • Painting on Canvass Party (All supplies available at a hobby shop. Everyone can bring different materials and food to share).
  • Wine and Cheese Party (Research what wines go well with different foods to enlighten the group. Have girlfriends each bring a different bottle of wine to learn about).
  • Scrapbooking Party (Busy moms don't always get to those pending scrapbook projects so making a date night out of it might do the trick).
  • Cookie Exchange Party (Bring a batch of HOMEMADE cookies to share with your girlfriends and exchange cookies and recipes).

There's a ton going on in our everyday lives, but before that husband and those kids came along, chances are you couldn't live without your gal pals and all your crazy chats and even crazier outings (date nights). So keep dating your girlfriends. And share with us some of your best girlfriend date night suggestions?!?!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Food Labels

It is important to know what you are feeding yourself and your family. The best place to start is right on the package. Food labels give you a lot of information right on the side of the package! Here are a few tips on reading a food label. 

1. Serving Size- This information will let you know what a serving size is and how many servings are contained in the package. For this example the serving size is 4oz and there are 4 servings in this package. All the information listed below is for one serving.

2. Calories & Calories from Fat- This will let you know how many calories there are per serving. In this example there are 280 calories per serving. So if you eat half this package then you have consumed 2 servings and 560 calories. There is also a breakdown of how many of the calories per serving are from fats.

3. Nutrients- This section gives you the amount of nutrients in each servings. The top half (fat/cholesterol/sodium) are nutrients you want to have less of. Eating too much of these increases your risks of thins like high blood pressure, heart attacks and cancer.

4. Good Nutrients- Nutrients like Dietary Fiber/Vitamin A/VitaminC/Calcium/ Iron are nutrients that are good for you are most Americans do not get enough of in a day.

5. % Daily Value- This bottom footnote helps explain the % Daily Values listed on the right of the label. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, you can see how much of your daily intake of each item listed you are consuming per serving. In this example, one serving would give you 40% the amount of cholesterol you should be consuming daily. So 3 servings of this would give you 120% and put you over the amount of cholesterol you should be consuming daily!

Are you getting your complete daily value of nutrients? 
What are some of your favorite health foods?