Friday, May 31, 2013

Tips For Flying with a Lapped Infant

My husband and I recently took our 18 months old son on a mini-vacation from California to Texas. The trip was fantastic and I swear my son smiled the entire time. It wasn't being in Texas I was worried about, it was the flight. We have all heard the horror stories and I was worried that he would live up to all those scary stories.  Now he's usually a very calm little guy, but what kid at 18 months old, wants to be cooped up for a 3+ hour flight (thank you, rain delay)? My son was a "lapped" infant and in the end, my little guy actually did pretty good.

Rain, Rain.. go away!
What worked: Letting him board tired, so avoid long naps before take-off. Little man slept for 90 mins. headed to Texas and just slightly longer on his way back. We made a little comfy knook for him just below our feet and he was good to go. We also made sure to pack two 8 ounce bottles for the plane ride (those clear security), a light set of extra clothes, diapers, soothing blankets/pacifiers (optional), quiet toys (emphasis on the quiet) such as books and plenty of snacks.

What didn't work: 
Letting him play in the little makeshift knook. The person in front of us kindly asked us to hold him. When he wasn't sleeping he was squirming and this clearly and rightfully bothered the person in front of us. We were able to sooth him at that point with a quick trip to the lavatory (broke up the sitting down monotony) and then immediately introduced a new snack, toy, etc. Also, the flight attendant had a nifty coloring book and colors for our son. Ask about those while on board. 

Make-shift knook
What worked:
Picking the window seat in the last row of the plane. This is a nice spot to "quarantine" a baby plus he loved looking out of the window. Also there's no back row to disturb and you're super close to the lavatories. My husband was in between myself/our son and the person in the aisle seat, so little man didn't completely annoy that person. 

What didn't work:
Forcing him to sleep! Make sure your baby is tried and ready to go down before cradling them for sleep/nap-time (with a pacifier, bottle or anything necessary to sleep). Kids sometimes fight falling asleep and this portion of the flight (for us) was disturbing to others. Make sure to have a comfy/small blanket or warm coat handy. 

Double-fisted: Snacks & a Toy

Overall, our son did a pretty good job. He didn't cry much at all but did babble. I'm sure that may have been a bother to some, but overall his bubbly smile kept folks around us in a pleasant or at least tolerant mood. Infants are pretty self-centered and this is normal, so if you are caught in an embarrassing melt down, remember this too shall pass (as soon as your flight's OVER)! Good luck little (and big) travelers.

Share your travel tips too? How do you keep infants/kids entertained while in flight?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Seven Basic Needs (and how meeting them makes us better people, parents and spouses).

I remember once crying so hard that I couldn't quite catch my breath. There I was sitting alone in my car questioning my ability to parent and sobbing uncontrollably. I suspect I am not alone. Like me, maybe you've asked if you're messing up this whole parenting gig. Like me, maybe you've beaten yourself up with the constant, "what am I doing wrong?" 

Maybe it's just my personality, but I thrive in following directives and since parenting doesn't come with instructions, I've pretty much failed at everything, at least once. After almost 7 years as a mother, I have found that I have to keep it simple and keep it moving.  A few years ago, I took a parenting class with my husband where we learned about every human being's seven basic needs (plus a bonus). This simple concept simplified my parenting approach and has really helped me turn all of those doubtful moments (and the uncontrollable crying fits) into looking for what needs aren't being met and meeting them.

Seven Basic Needs, plus a bonus (B Special): 

B: belong - You, your children, spouse, co-workers, friends, neighbors... everyone wants to feel a part of something. Make sure to love inclusively and positively. Make others feel as though they belong and find something to belong to. 

S: smile - Are you smiling often? How about your spouse, your children? If not, make up a reason to get silly & get smiling. Seems simple right? But you'd be surprised how little people are smiling, laughing and just having fun.

TM: Parenting from the Heart
P: powerful - Everyone wants to feel powerful. Now this doesn't mean power by controlling your kids or spouse, it just means feeling like you have the power to matter and contribute. This is especially true with kids. Naturally we want to do so much for them. Sometimes this is just logistically easier, but that can create unnecessary challenges. Let your kids do more for themselves, decide for themselves and contribute to family decisions. Even if you start with simple acts of power. Give them the ability to feel powerful.

E: explore - Overly used phrases with kids are "wait!" "calm down!" "stop!" Yup, these don't make a child feel very powerful and it sure as hell impedes their natural urge to explore and learn. Encourage this with them and with yourself. I love the great outdoors, I love music, writing and long discussions with those I love. All four of those allow me to explore and make me better! 

C: connection - Seems basic but many times this is exactly what is lacking. With your spouse avoid feeling like roommates because that clearly impedes your connection. Work also on becoming the best communicators possible. Communication issues are the first to hinder true connection with most couples. With your children avoid simply being a dictator. Let connection be free and flowing. Make sure you're feeling connected to yourself and others then watch yourself feel more at peace and grounded.

I: important - How important do you feel... how about those you love? Give everyone in your world a chance to lead, to feel powerful, connected and ultimately IMPORTANT! Maybe that means you let your kids' decide on dinner and even make it on their own (with your gentle supervision, of course). Give them a chance to contribute and watch their little eyes light up because of how important and needed they feel.

A: attention - This one is getting harder by the minute with so much technology keeping us disconnected and absent. Kids need so much focused attention. Work to give them that with one-on-one dates, same with your spouse through romantic outings, and by spending time alone focused on you. This could also mean simple acts of kindness like leaving a love note for you spouse or child(ren). Take the time to give undivided attention and watch how much more effortless your relationships come to feel.

L: love - Love is love. Give it with all your might and don't forget the power of a simple "I love you!"

I've watched in amazement as my children's so-called negative behaviors have decreased when I've thought of the above needs and made sure those were being actually met. Maybe that meant I suddenly put away my cell phone to just give attention, or I completely change dinner plans so my children can have what they want and make them feel important in the process. I've let them play in the mud so they truly explore. And I've lectured less so that I connect fully and show LOVE! And you know what? Doing this not only makes us all smile, but we feel more powerful, in control and happy. I've become a better me just by meeting my NEEDS and the NEEDS of those in my life.

The next time you're beating yourself up about relationship difficulties and doubts, think about these 7 basic needs (plus a bonus) and improve upon any of those that feel off. You'll soon see just how much better everyone is for it. And everyone includes YOU!

How are your basic needs met? How do you meet the needs of those you LOVE?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Movies

Summer time means summer movies. With summer vacation right around the corner most parents will be dealing with kids who are bored and cranky from the heat. One of the best ways to deal is with a trip to the movies. There are some great family friendly movies hitting theatres this summer that your whole family will be sure to enjoy!

May 24th- Epic - Already in theaters, this move is by the same movie company that did Ice Age and Rio. The story is a classic good vs evil story. When a young girl finds herself transported into a forest fantasy world she must make friends with some interesting creatures to help save the pond that holds the future of the forest. With super stars like Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Aziz Ansari and Amanda Seyfried, this move looks like it will please girls, boys and parents alike.

June 21- Monsters University - "Before they were incorporated, they were educated." Twelve years ago Disney Pixar introduced us to Mike and Sully. Two lovable monsters who are complete opposites end up as dorm roommates at Monsters University. Sully is the fun-loving rule breaker and Mike is a follow the rules school nerd. Together can they win the Scare Games? If they lose they will be forced to leave M.U. My kids are really looking forward to this movie.

July 3- Despicable Me 2- Gru is back! The villain we all fell for in Despicable Me is here for a new adventure. This time he has been summoned by the Anti-Villain League. As the former world's evilest villain he is needed to help capture a new villain. Of course the funny and silly minions are along for the ride, as well as his 3 girls. That's right Gru and his minions have to save the world. The first movie was a huge hit and I know my husband and I are looking forward to this one!

July 31- Smurfs 2- The Smurfs are back and this time Gargamel has an evil plan (sounds familiar). This time he has actually done it! He has created his own smurf-like creations called "The Naughties". The plan is to trick the real smurfs into being naughty and wreak havoc on the world! Can Papa Smurf and the rest of the smurfs stop her and The Naughties before it's too smurfing late?

August 9- Planes- With the success of the Cars movies, Disney brings to theatres this summer, Planes. We are introduced to Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook), a crop dusting plane with big dreams of flying as an international racer. His only problem is that he's afraid of heights. That's right a plane that is afraid of heights. This film looks a lot like Cars, but with a cast full of comedians and even a nod to Top Gun with one of the planes voiced by Val Kilmer, there is no doubt Disney has another hit on its hands.

August 30- One Direction: This is Us- It's a formula we all know. Put together 5 cute teen boys who can kind of sing and dance and just listen to the tween and teen girls scream. One Direction is the latest in a long history of boy bands. This movie gives you a look inside the world of Harry, Louis, Zayn, Niall, and Liam as they tour the world. If you have a One Directioner in your life (yes they really call themselves that) then this will be the summer flick for them.

September 27- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2- Sony pictures animation is back and picking up where the last movie left off. As the people return to their home they find that the food machine has gone haywire. They have to battle food monsters to save the rest of the world from being destroyed. Lots of funny puns and jokes will have both parents and kids laughing. And yes the monkey is back.

What summer family movie are you most looking forward to?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Learning to Step-Love: Guest Post by Rocio Camargo

Becoming a step-mom... never in my life had I fathomed turning into that evil step-mother character depicted in most fairy tales. You know, the one that turns old and ugly, is ruthless, and never knows the meaning of true love. Yet, here I am: A step-mom, a new one at that. I've only been on the job about a year and let me tell you, it has been a roller coaster. I have new found respect for women, and men who take on that additional role of step-parent in a blended family.

And here's why:

Your life will change completely. When you are a single independent individual, you long to find the right person to share it with. In my case, this person came with an additional smaller unexpected person. And at first I don't think I really knew how much this would affect my life and our relationship. I got very lucky with my two people, they're both very understanding and the smaller of the two is quite independent. So I thought this wouldn't be a huge change... wrong! Anytime there is a child involved, it will not be a typical relationship. If you go into a relationship that involves a child thinking that you will get the same alone time, the same independence to do whatever you two please, and the same attention from your partner at all times, your relationship will fail.

Couples that have their own children know that things will never be the same and they embrace it. They know (well the good ones do) that their lives will forever be about their children now, and not themselves, except of course for the occasional date night or outings which are very healthy in a relationship. When you become a step-parent, you need to have that same mentality because chances are (if you have a good one) your partner, the biological parent, already has this mentality and your relationship will struggle if you're not on the same page. Seems easy enough, right? But this was the HARDEST part for me. I started over-complicating the fact that I didn't have enough time to myself, that our relationship didn't have enough time for "us". I look back on it and realize how dramatic I was being. I did have enough alone time. My husband would give me "me time" all the time! But Ilwas overcomplicating it for myself. How could I ever ask a man to be with his daughter less?! I mean, I never worded it that way, but that's essentially what I was doing. Complaining about not enough "me" or "us" time (when we clearly had enough) pretty much meant I wanted less "her" time. And it wasn't so much that she was difficult to be around, this was MY OWN internal issue. It put a huge strain on my marriage but ultimately, once I acknowledged my issue, we found a balance. It wasn't so much about her being around so much, it was the way I perceived it because I had more than enough time for myself & with my husband. But once I changed my perception about it, I have been feeling much better. Not to say that it isn't a constant struggle within me, but I'm trying. And you can see that in my relationship with my husband and with my step child.

You will find out what your parenting skills are. If you're like me, you will turn into your mother overnight. Well, not exactly but I am like her in some ways. This can also be a battle in your relationship when your partner is, let's say, more lenient than you. Coming from the outside, it's very easy to criticize someone's parenting and it's easy to think that you could do a better job. But that's not what you were asked to do. Things will go smoother if you talk to your partner about things that may be changed, for the good of the child. It will be a battle because no one likes to hear they "can change" something about their parenting but if your partner embraces your "suggestions" and you embrace some of his, then you will reach a middle ground and no one will get frustrated.

Last but not least, the most difficult part about being in a relationship with someone with a child: the other biological parent. The constant reminder of your partner's past relationship (who wants to remember that?!). And the reason why you will always remember that this child is not (biologically) yours. This is a tough one to get by, and I don't necessarily have a horrible situation. But I think people underestimate how hard it is to be that person, coming into this relationship, where you don't have much say at all. The bottom line is this: no matter what I do or how long I've been around my step child, the biggest decisions about her life (school she attends, activities she enrolls in, etc.) will ultimately be up to the biological parents. Not to say that your partner won't back your input, but sometimes you won't agree. And there is nothing you can do about it. The most important thing is to keep respect within the two families because a child can sense when there is tension. Never put down their other parent in front of them (or at all) because they will remember that. The best thing for the child is for everyone to get along. That's easier said than done but being civil is not that hard. Sometimes.

I have learned many things throughout my lifetime. I have read tons of books and gone to a few dozen trainings on human behavior but never in my life was I prepared for this. No training in the world can teach you to be a good step parent. They can give you some great tips, like parenting classes, but it takes genuine LOVE and SELF-LESS EFFORT to make it work. Whether your partner admits it or not, they are looking for someone to co-parent with. Someone to share their frustrations and celebrations with their child. Recognize that and embrace it. Things will not go well if you resist it, with you but most importantly for the child. I will not say that it has been easy, nor that I am perfect, in fact I have to check myself ALL the time (ask my husband). But the effort is there and it does pay off. It pays off in the great relationship I have with my husband but most importantly, it pays off in my step-daughter's relationship with me. I've seen that my tutoring has been helpful when she gets better grades. That's a reward. I've seen that my guidance with her prayers has helped her pass her catechism and she can now receive her first communion. That's also a reward. Once I put in work like a parent, I will receive the same reward that a good parents get, to see your child do well.

Are you a step-parent? Grew up with one? Tell us about your experience...

-Rocio Camargo is an advocate for survivors of Domestic & Sexual Violence in Santa Cruz County California. She currently manages the Prevention Program for the only rape-crisis center & emergency shelter organization in the county. She is UC Santa Barbara alumni and a sister of Sigma Alpha Zeta Multicultural Sorority. She is a wife and step-mother of one. She also blogs on her website & has written pieces for CalCASA, IStand and the Watsonville Patch.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Lesson from a Thirft Shop: What if your kid was the bully?

In Utah the mother of a 4th grade girl found herself dealing with bullying. Except it was her daughter that was doing the tormenting. When the school called to inform her that her daughter had been taunting a girl everyday  for 3 weeks and making fun of her clothes, this mom gave her daughter a stern talking. When that talk didn't help stop the bullying she went a step further.

This mom wanted her daughter to have a taste of her own medicine. She took $50.00 and went to her local thrift shop and bought a bunch of really ugly clothes for her daughter to wear. Then she made her daughter wear them to school. She wanted her daughter to know what it felt like to be made fun of because of her clothes. It didn't take long for this little girl to learn her lesson.

This is obviously a very unusual approach to dealing with your child when they are the bully. This mother was trying to teach her daughter empathy, but do you think this is the best approach? Do you think this approach would only make the bully humiliated and even angrier? Or do you think this was a creative and effective way to combat bullying?

Leave us a comment, we want to know your opinions! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Volunteering with Kids

Students and Mentors
Working as a Team

This past weekend high school students from the Long Beach area committed themselves for what is known as a Day of Service. These young people came into the homes of individuals living with M.S. (multiple sclerosis) to clean, repair and revitalize. This effort was incredibly beneficial for disabled residents who needed countless services (fence repair, heavy cleaning and gardening). But it was even more touching to see how impactful volunteering was for the students of this community.

The gratitude of these residents 
    meant the world to amazing young 
     students and their mentors.

 Youth Ages 14-17

Volunteering with kids can be fun and easy. It doesn't have to be too labor intensive.  This particular day of service involved everything from sorting and organizing a non-ambulatory senior citizen's linen closet to completely rejuvenating a resident's backyard garden. A great way to organize your own Day of Service is to partner with local non-profits or churches. 

Other simple & great ways to give back and have fun regardless of your children's ages includes monthly donation sorting of toys and clothes to take to a local thrift shop. Another fun volunteer excursion I came across recently includes picking fresh fruit as part of a non-profit initiative to combat urban hunger (check age restrictions). 

Entire families can also volunteer at food banks, clean up national parks and beaches, or spend a few hours bonding with residents of senior resident facilities. Whatever the event, serving in any capacity is great for kids! The fulfillment that comes with giving to needy individuals or a cause makes our hearts fuller and our world better. And this lesson us one that all kids should learn firsthand while volunteering with mom and dad.

                                                  Have you volunteered with your children?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

We all know how much our children's teachers sacrifice for our kids - hours spent on lesson plans and grading papers. Thanks to budget cuts many teachers are using their own money to fund many class projects. They  teach and more importantly care about our kids. The end of the school year is a great way to show your child's teacher (counselor/principal) just how much you appreciate all the hard work they have put in over the school year. 

Check out these ideas to kick-start your creativity:

1. Coffee House Gift Cards: Might seem standard, but I have noticed so many adorably decorated gift cards. The most common was of course from Starbucks and came with cute little cards that read: "Thanks a LATTE Teach!" So get created with this one. Have your child decorate a coffee mug with glitter, paint, or stickers then stuff it with your favorite coffee house gift card and top it with a cute note.

2. Plant in Decorated Pot: Teachers surely appreciate flowers but I've heard a few mention how overwhelming all these dying bouquets all over a classroom become. So instead pick a lovely small plant.  A teacher can easily take a plant home to transplant into their home garden.  And there's so many adorable notes to go with this gift:"I've grown so much because of you!" "You're the reason I've bloomed!" etc. etc. Colorful 3-D stickers go a long way on a plain old plant container so go to town on this one. Kids will enjoy getting to decorate this neat gift idea.

3. Summer Fun Kit: Teachers have the best schedule with summers off. I don't know if they get to bask in the sun much, but I sure do hope so. Here's your chance to stalk up on summer supplies and give a great teachers a new beach towel, hat and bag (to name a few). I'm sure anything is much appreciated. So even a nice sports bottle and sunscreen will do. But definitely encourage your child's teacher to take time out of their busy summer to relax!

4: Etc. Etc.: Edible creations (cookies, muffins, etc), Movie Tickets (with popcorn and candy), Personalized Desk Supplies (Post-Its, Pens, Mini Desk Organizer). These ideas can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish and are very budget-friendly!

After looking at this list, did you come up with some of your own? 
Share those! We'd especially like TEACHERS to chime in. 
Seriously, these gifts are for you, so what do you really want from a class of 20-something kids 
all clambering to send you off with a sweet good-bye and THANK YOU gift!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tips for An Enjoyable Vacation With Your Children- Guest Post by Kendra Thornton

Today we have Kendra Thornton as a guest contributor giving us some tips for traveling with kids. Kendra is the former Orbitz director of communications. In this position she was able to travel to 28 countries on 6 different continents.  This experience makes her a great resource for travel tips. Take it away Kendra.....

Having kids doesn't mean they have to turn 18 before you ever travel anywhere again.  The joys of having children include the memories you make as a family while on vacation.  However, some travel woes won't be forgotten if you don't prepare for your children's travel needs.  Before you plan your next family vacation, you may want to consider some of the following travel tips.    

1. Nutrition

Save money on food by taking advantage of the continental breakfasts offered at the hotel.  Choose hotels that offer free breakfast.  A wholesome nutritious breakfast will make everyone's day better, and you won't spend as much money feeding your children unhealthy food at your favorite theme parks.  

2. Fast Food Traps

Sugary snacks are a Mom's worst nightmare!  Your kids will go from off the wall to irritable and tired in a matter of a few hours.  Try packing nutritious snacks for those long hours on the road.  Snacks loaded with protein will keep the hunger away longer. If you have to get an on the go meal/treat you can still make healthy decisions when getting fast food!

3. Traveling

Plan your travel times around your child's sleep pattern.  Alert and awake children are more enjoyable to travel with than tired and irritable children that have trouble sleeping.  Also bring some of your children's favorite sleeping items from home so they feel more comfortable and safe.  Remember - when choosing a location there are certain destinations that offer quiet hours to make sure families get a solids nights sleep in most Orlando hotels in Walt Disney World!

4. Games/Activities

Bring toys for your children that will engage them for long periods of time.  Fewer, longer engaging games or toys are better than too many things that will get played with for only a few minutes.  Kids don't mind repeated things over and over again, so avoid things that are noisy, as it will soon get on your nerves and that of other travelers too.      

5. Fun In The Sun: 

One sunburn can ruin an entire trip. Summer fun needs to include plenty of sunscreen for your children's outdoor adventures.  This is of utmost importance, because you may forget sunscreen once, but a screaming child with a bad sunburn will make sure you never forget it again.  

Traveling with your children doesn't have to be a chore when you plan ahead of time and prepare accordingly.  It's even easier to travel again the next time once you know what you're doing.  Your children will one day remember the time you spent with them on vacation, and you will remember how easy it was to take them.

Kendra Thornton: Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I've found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have mixed my excitement for travel by bringing the taste of authentic cuisine to my own home with some of my unique recipes and sharing some of my personal traveling tips. Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

In the Delivery Room

It is something that many pregnant women think about. It might even be something that they put in their birth plan.

Who will be in the delivery room with you? 

Back in the 50's only the mother, doctors and nurses were allowed in the room. Even the Daddy was left out in the waiting room, pacing and waiting for news.

Now a days women have options when it comes to visitors. Some women have a come-one-come-all policy. Since active labor can take many hours, having friends and family there helps pass the time. Others are uncomfortable with how the may react to the pain of childbrith and choose to wait for vistors until after the baby is born.

When it comes to the actual delivery of your child some hospitals will allow you to have a few people with you. Some women have the Daddy as well as a best friend, sister, mom or even photographer in the room for the big moment.

Towards the end of my first pregnancy I knew that I wanted my mom to be in the room with me for the actual delivery. After talking with my husband I called my mother and asked her if she would be in the room with us. She was honored and said yes. When I was in active labor I had an open door policy. I had a ton of friends and family coming in and out. My labor lasted over 19 hours and it was nice to have the company and the distraction. It was also nice to be able to give my husband a break or send someone out for cheeseburgers! When the time came to delivery my daughter everyone was sent to the waiting room except my Mom and my husband. My Mom was my rock. I was so scared and I knew that if my Mom was there nothing bad was going to happen. With my second daughter my husband and I felt like experts and decided that we wanted to experience this labor and delivery alone. A moment for just us to share.

Was your delivery room a party? Or was it just 2 of you?
Who was in the delivery room with you? or Who would you want in the delivery room with you?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Can siblings EVER get along?

My brother and I were bitter rivals growing up. We couldn't be in the same room. He hated playing with me and we even got into fist fights. The rivalry ran rampant. I wondered if my children would have this same tumultuous relationship? And honestly the jury is still out on that one. Then again, fist fights will never, ever, ever be tolerated.

As much as my children show love and tenderness they also nag, argue and struggle when sharing the spotlight and their precious toys. I'm always doing my best to play fair with the kiddos and teach them kindness. Still these little suckers battle.

The battle could be over who first laid their grubby little fingers on the last lollipop or who gets to push the grocery cart at the supermarket. At 2, 3 and 7 yrs. old there's battles. I couldn't believe a two and three year old would be at each others necks and then my kids came into this stage. I'm hoping to avoid major sibling rivalry as the years go on and truly praying (and working) to raise considerate, supportive and loving brothers and sisters!

What's the big secret to dealing with sibling rivalry? Mommas everywhere want to be let in on this secret. Share your tips below...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Going from Co-Worker to Boss

I just moved into my new corner office. I've had my own office in the past, but at this agency this wasn't just an office change. This new office came with a new title of boss. Getting to this management role didn't come without its issues. One of the biggest challenges was as my boss puts it "going from bud to boss!"

Here's what helped and what didn't...

Helpful: Remind your co-workers YOU haven't changed, but your job responsibilities HAVE! The job duties clearly change but that doesn't mean you will change too. You are the same person in a new role.

Not helpful:  To expect relationships to stay exactly the same. Relationship will change and that is normal. A co-worker relationship is different than that of boss & employee. Your employees report to you, so any buddy-buddy peer stuff goes out the window i.e. don't expect to gossip about the boss because now that chitter-chater (good or bad) is about YOU!  

Helpful: Be honest about not having all the answers while everyone is adjusting to the transition. You don't have to suddenly be a know-it-all because your title is different. There will be plenty to learn and it's okay to admit to not having all the answers.

Not helpful: The power-trip. Now that's easier said than done but what helps me is to ask myself what is best for everyone. Sure I may be the boss, but I don't have to have things go my way 100% of the time simply because of a title. 

Helpful: Learn all you can! Read the books, attend the trainings and find a mentor. Again, you don't have all the answers, but there's so many places to find them. My boss has been a wonderful mentor to me. I've continued to read about leadership and sought out training opportunities to improve as a leader. 

Not helpful: To be tentative. Make sure to follow up and follow through. As the new boss what will be watched most is not what you say, but what you do. It's your "butt up the flagpole." So get after it and set the example through your personal efforts and hard work.

I had some bumpy moments going from co-worker to boss and frankly I am still adjusting, but I'm doing my best to stick to what's helpful, stay humble and keep my heart in my work as much as possible!

What are your workplace tricks of the trade?
Seriously, everyone's tips HELP so share yours in the comment section...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The WEIGHT is falling OFF: Month of May Fitness Challenge UPDATE!

UPDATE: It's DAY 15 and's Month of May Fitness Challenge has over 30 challengers who combined have lost 30+ pounds! Using three different teams are completing & logging daily workouts, eating clean, and tracking their weight loss. Challengers get to chime in to offer and ask for inspiration, share workouts and even healthy recipes. And the best part, participants are feeling better than ever. 

Here's what challengers are saying about the Month of May Fitness Challenge:

Brenda M.
It's no secret that I've been "trying" to lose weight for sometime now, but like most I always give in to food. Thanks to HerMamas things are different this time! I've lost weight and it's become more of a lifestyle change than a diet. I believe that it's thanks to the support of everyone on the challenge. It's been a great tool to have all these people that are after the same thing post about their daily workouts and just everything that comes with weight loss.

Crystal B.
I've loved the challenge so far because it helps keep me accountable to complete my Crossfit Mamas workouts. As soon as I'm done with a workout I post on right away! I've definitely noticed it has helped me over my weight plateau and have seen changes in my body already.

Danielle B.
My favorite part of the challenge is doing it with other people. I also love creating the habit of being active. I feel great, and I can see the results. I look forward to the numbers on the scale dropping more!

Way to go challengers! Your hard work and determination continues to pay off and you've all been a wonderful inspiration to each other. But don't stop here. Catch ya on Let's finish the month of May STRONG!

And to anyone else looking to start/join a team click here. There's still time to join the challenge, and who knows, you might end up #1 on the leader board!

Before you go, tell us, what keeps you motivated for better health and overall fitness?

Homebirth Was Right for Me- Guest Post by Denise Cortes

We are so excited and honored to have Denise Cortes from and as a guest contributor. Denise is a Momma to 6 kids. Four of those babies she had at home - Yes, at home. Today Denise shares with us how she decided home birth was the right decision for her and her family.

I had just given birth to my second child when I started dreaming about homebirth. I’d pack up my toddler who was 15 months old at the time along with my newborn baby and we’d walk across the gravel driveway to my mother’s house (we lived behind her) to blissfully enjoy her cable TV and air conditioning in the middle of the day.

After I settled in my toddler with a few snacks, I’d park my butt on the sofa to nurse my baby and watch A Baby Story. It was the same sad story--lack of labor, Pitocin, pain, crying, epidurals, babies in distress, c-sections and doctors who come in and save the day. Then one day, I saw an episode that blew my mind. It was a mother who give birth on her bed at home, with other children around her. I noticed she wasn’t writhing in pain, she wasn’t screaming, she wasn’t stuck in an unnatural position for the benefit of the OB and she didn’t have a gaggle of nurses around her commanding her to push. My most recent birth experience still fresh on my mind, what I witnessed that afternoon was practically revolutionary.  

I always thought of homebirth as a groovy, crunchy hippie thing to do. I mean, was it even legal? Was it safe? How would I find a midwife? What would my husband think? I never considered homebirth for myself. It was an exciting and strangely attainable proposition. Exactly two years later, I found myself preparing to give birth at home with my third child.  

I wanted to give birth on my own terms.
Bottom line, I wanted to give birth on my own terms--not according to my doctor’s schedule. This was my birth, my body and my baby. It was simple. I wanted to give my unborn baby an unhurried, peaceful entry into this world. No bright lights, no nurses barking orders, no strangers putting their hands on them, no unnecessary drops in their eyes, no needles and heel pricks, no isolation, no warming lights and no plastic bassinet. Just birthing into warm water, soft breasts, silky skin, gentle kisses on their forehead and quiet, teary-eyed greetings.

Empower yourself with knowledge.
I became like a sponge, sucking up as much knowledge about homebirth as I could. I read statistics, I saw videos, I read books about midwives, I learned about birth in different cultures and most importantly, I learned about my body and how it was specially made to give birth. I didn’t have Ricki Lake and The Business of Being Born to inform me about how dangerous unnecessary medical intervention was. It was just me, Barbara Harper’s Gentle Birth Choices, my raggedy copies of The Compleat Mother, my heartfelt convictions and my dreams of a natural childbirth (preferably in the water). Once my eyes were opened, it just made sense to give birth at home.

Surround yourself with positive people.
Don’t let others put their fear on you and over your birth. Of course, there were people who doubted our decision--namely our parents. But I knew their concern was rooted in love, so I did my best to explain my newfound conviction and educate them to quell their fears. Whenever anyone else tried to predict a negative and scary scenario, I’d immediately shut them down. I didn’t want to cloud my focus. I became friends with other women who had homebirths, so I was able to visualize what my birth could be. I also spoke at length with my midwife, and learned a great deal from her. 

I went on to have four amazing homebirths, three of those being waterbirths. They are some of my most treasured memories in my life. I truly believe it’s given me the confidence to be a better mother. I think every woman should have a birth they can look back on and be happy about, regardless of whether it’s at home or in a hospital. I’ve never regretted the decision my husband and I made and I’m proud to say that our babies were born at home, in peace and on our own terms. 

Denise, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. 
We want to hear from you! 
Have you had a homebirth?
 Have you ever considered it?

- Denise Cortes is an artist, blogger and Momma to 6 beautiful and talented kids. You can follow along on her adventures, of large family living, living her passion for art and her obsession with Frida Kahlo on her blog Pearmama. You can also find her over at Babycenter where she is giving the site a much needed Latina perspective. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kidnapped in 60 seconds

There's been a ton of media coverage lately about three young women in Cleveland who were kidnapped and held in captivity for an entire decade. Today, these young women are alive and back home where they belong, but one common detail about their kidnappings is that each girl was offered a ride by their captor leading to these horrific abductions. Each trusted a person who turned out to be evil and malicious. Each lost their innocence in the 60 seconds it took to drive off with this man.

This tragic detail really stuck with me, and for the first time in my son's almost 7 years of life, I spoke with him about the strangers in the world who might want to harm him. I always wanted to keep him from this discussion as if I'd be preserving his innocence. I now realize that what matters most is preserving his SAFETY.

Here are some basics when addressing this tough topic with kids:

Keep it age appropriate: you know what details would cause your child the most anxiety. For me, I knew my son could understand "fear of things" so I used his fear of spiders to organically bring up the conversation. I mentioned to him that he often screams about spiders to the point of scaring our neighbors. I explained that this kind of scream was useful and it's what I wanted him to do if ever a stranger tried to grab him... snatch him... take him. I reminded him that a stranger is someone who might say they knew him, but didn't really and so he should never allow himself to be touched or taken by anyone strange or new to him. He should instead scream "HELP" as loud as possible.

Keep it brief, but impactful: I didn't want to dwell on the scary scenarios, but my tone was serious. I asked my son to look into my eyes and to listen carefully. I wanted him to process my words fully. My deepest hope is that he did.

Keep yourself open to this tough topic: I reminded my son of something a doctor once said to him that has really stuck with him, "no one can touch your private parts... only a doctor or a parent (with your permission)." I asked my son to remember this and to please share with mommy if ever anyone tried to touch him in a way that was uncomfortable. This didn't mean they were trying to snatch him, but it could mean that they were playfully touching him in an area he knew they weren't allowed to (again, this being an area of his body that only doctors could touch with his permission and parents present).

These three tips are meant to open up a dialogue that must take place. Innocent children are sadly tricked into trusting, so the greatest lesson to teach our children is to be alert, to remember your talks and to communicate with you if they ever feel concerned about a time they've interacted with another adult. My hope is to empower children to stand up for themselves and be confident in their "instincts" which for kids is better characterized as "feelings" and the bottom line is that no one should ever make them feel uncomfortable.

Have you had this tough talk with your children? 
Have you warned them about "stranger-danger"?
Please share your tips and thoughts below...

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Reality of Motherhood

In the age of Facebook and Instagram it is easy to think that motherhood is all about perfectly posed smiling children. We are here today to remind you about some of the realities of motherhood.

  • Wrestling a 1 year old... while trying to change a poopy diaper is more common than you think. 
  • You look forward to your shower...because it's the only time of the day you are alone.
  • Spending the whole day cleaning, feeding, caring for a person...and not hearing ONE thank you. 
  • When you are asking your children to clean their room and are totally nagging!  
  • When you hand your child a candy instead of an organic locally grown apple... and all the other Moms look at you all judge-y  
  • When insomnia kicks in and you finally close your eyes and drift off... and the baby starts crying.
  • Mopping up pee from the floor... for the fourth time in one day.
  • When your child says "Why is that lady so fat?"... in the middle of the grocery line, loud enough for everyone to hear. 
  • When your kid pukes all over the floor... of your favorite restaurant.
  • When you are enjoying "quality time" with your spouse and all of a sudden you hear..."Mom what are you doing?"
Don't forget to send us your Mother's Day shout out  to
Send the Mom's in your life some love with a message on! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Moms We Admire by Irene Quevedo

It must be a give in, the woman I admire most in life is my mother. We haven't always had the easiest of relationships, but what two individuals get along 100% of the time? To be honest, I was a pretty sassy teenager and mom got the worst of my mouth growing up. In spite of that, I've grown up a lot being a mother myself. I've come to appreciate so much about my mom and here's what I admire most (the short list):
A. My mother is DETERMINED: she only has a 1st grade education and dreamed of learning to ride a bike when she was a young girl. Her family couldn't afford the pair of shoes required for her to attend school. Regardless, now my mother has all of the comforters she once dreamed of as a young woman. She's a home-owner, a business-owner and something as simple as being a car-owner means everything to this humble woman of impoverished beginnings. She's empowered by all she's accomplished and though you'll never hear it from her, her journey of courage to make a life for herself in the U.S. belongs in the pages of a best-selling book. 

B. My mother is COURAGEOUS: she came to this country alone (not knowing the language) over 40 years ago. She was in search of a better life and not only did she leave behind a husband that couldn't be trusted, but her three young children. Talk about sacrifice. She describes that time in her life as torture having to leave her children long-term. I am grateful for her fearlessness because when I think of going after my dreams, I remember the example laid out before me by one courageous woman I know as mom. 

C: My mother is FORGIVING: she didn't only forgive her teenage kids with our sassy months. Mom's heart was too big for just that. Mom forgave my father time and time again for the philandering, the beatings, and countless years of broken promises. She dealt with him for decades and though many questioned her reasons for staying, she was sacrificing and making sure she was leaving when the time was right. Lucky for me, the time was right when I was around 7 years old. I might not exist if it weren't for just how forgiving mom was.

D: My mother is FAITHFUL: she is the most devout catholic I know. She prays in her prayer club almost nightly and teaches of her faith in a caring and humble way, never pushing religion. Mom pushes faith. She reminds us that there's something much bigger to believe in. Her faith is admirable and her example worthy of emulating.

E-Z (because I could  go on - but I will stop here) My mother is a Sweetheart: sometimes stubborn, sometimes not the best listener. See, mom is a lot like me and if I get to be A-Z like my mother, even with the flaws that make us human, and all else that makes us great, I'd be honored to become the mother my mother is!

One of my greatest goals in life is to know you're proud of me and though as a parent I teach my own children to be proud of themselves in spite of my take on things. I want you to know I'm proud of myself. And mom, I'm proud beyond words to be YOUR daughter!

Tell us about a mother you admire and submit a Mother's Day shout-out to! All shout-outs will be featured on on Mother's Day, Sunday May 12th.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Our Favorite TV Moms

In honor of Mother's Day this Sunday we are sharing a few of our favorite TV Moms! 

Reba from the show Reba: I loved this show. Who am I kidding, I still love this show. I think Reba is one of my favorite TV moms because she got dealt a pretty crappy hand with her husband cheating on her and her teenage daughter getting pregnant and married. Through it all the character kept her humor, her sass and her love for her children. Reba struggled through and managed to make her family work and even befriend her ex-husbands new wife.

Nora Walker from Brothers and Sisters: This show maybe over but well worth a look on Netflix. Sally Field plays Nora Walker, the matriarch of the crazy, dramatic and loving Walker family. After her husband dies she is left with her 5 adult children and the mess her husband left behind. As a Mom Nora is always right in the middle of all her kids' business. She never backs off because she loves her children so much. Even though her kids were adults with families of their own Nora never stopped taking care of them. Even when they disappointed her, she helped pick them up and put the pieces of their lives together again.

Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show- She was always elegant, she was super intelligent and gave off such confidence. She was a working Mom who was strict with her children but always managed to teach her children valuable life lessons. Plus she could keep with the wit and sarcasm of Cliff Huxtable. She was the real head honcho of the household. At the time, for me, she was breaking the television stereotypes of the "Leave it to Beaver" type Moms. 

Gabrielle "Gaby" Solis and Lynette Scavo from Desperate Housewives (because I couldn't pick just one mom from this show): These characters were fearless. They went through it all living on "Wisteria Lane." The best part was how hilarious these women were when it came to getting their way; especially when that meant doing something good for their children. They also didn't always make motherhood look easy and I appreciate that. Whether it was Gaby scheming for her daughter to win top prize in a school fundraiser or Lynette sabotaging her young son's marriage because she knew in her gut the woman he married wasn't right for him, these women were hilarious, courageous and fun-loving TV moms.

Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family: this fiery mom breaks the mold. She's clearly a big reason for this show's success. I appreciate how much her Latina heritage is on display. I mean she named her son Fulgencio. You look at her and think... "gold-digger?" You get to know her character and realize she's a hilarious, sassy and loving mother of two (with one killer bod).

Tell us about the TV moms you love...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Moms We Admire by Elissa Lerma

As a kid I adored my Mom. She was the best Mom ever. She played outside with us on the swings, helped me make books about my cat, made up songs so I could remember our phone number. She hugged me and kissed me and I never felt anything but love from my Mom.

Then I hit my teens and like most kids, my Mom started to bug me. She was always in my business, she never let me do things I wanted to do and she was much stricter than my friends parents. There were fights and groundings and I wished I had a different Mom.

Then I left for college and after my Mom left me at my very first apartment I cried, because I was scared without my Mom. From the moment I moved out on my own I appreciated my Mom more and more. Then I got married, then divorced, then married again and then I became a Mom myself. When I gave birth to my first daughter my Mom was with me in the delivery room. I was scared and I needed my Mom because if she says it's going to be okay, it IS going to be okay.

That moment when they placed my daughter in my arms for the first time I got it. I looked at my Mom and I just got it. I understood why she did everything she ever did for me. It was because she loves me more than life itself. She would do everything in her power to keep me safe and raise me to be a good person. Even if it meant me being mad at her and saying awful things. She was the "bad guy" because she loves me.

Oh how I wish I could take those teenage years back. I wish I knew then, what I know now. I wish I never put my Mom through those hard years because she was right. She was always right. Even when I thought in my heart and soul I was right, I was wrong.

Now that I have 2 daughters. Everyday I go to bed and hope that I have done as good of a job with my girls as my Mom did with hers.  I have one kid still in the middle of the  phase where she adores me and another right at end of that phase. As my oldest daughter and I bump heads and I have to give punishments I know that we are getting closer to that phase where she can't stand me. I really hope that when she can't stand the thought of talking to me she talks to her Nana instead.

 My Mom is an amazing mother who loves her children and grandchildren with her whole being. It is visible when she lays eyes on grandchildren. Her whole body lights up when she sees them. And they feel it. We all feel it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is only a few days away! If you are still struggling to find the perfect gift for your Mom, or just need to drop some hints to your loved ones about what you might want for the big day, we have a few ideas.

1. I have always loved the idea of a Mother's ring, but have never found anything in a style my Mom would like. A few years ago I found these Mothers birthstone necklaces from Lifetime Mothers. A very sleek and modern twist to a Mother's ring. This necklace is a simple circle window where you can have each birthstone of each child inside. We bought my Mom one and had every family member's birthstone put inside. I love that as the family grows you simply open the necklace and add a birthstone. 

2. What Mom doesn't love sharing photos of their precious babies to their friends through social media? I mostly use my iPhone because it's super easy to share photos online. But this new Cool-Pix camera from Nikon gives you great quality photos plus by connecting to WiFi you can share these pictures straight from your camera to your Facebook wall!

3. More and more Moms these days are health conscious. They're getting and staying fit. This 'Up" band by Jawbone is a great tool to help Mom keep track of her exercise, movements and even sleep. All mom has to do is wear this cute bracelet. This device keeps track of all info. and you can be accessed on your cell phone or pc.

4. If you or your Mom is anything like me, they will never take time for themselves. For the type of Mom who deserves a spa day, but would never take the time or spend the money, buy her a gift certificate. Force her to spend a day relaxing and pampering herself. Believe me, just because she never goes does not mean she doesn't fantasize about it.

5. And never underestimate the power of some beautiful flowers.

Moms really just want a token of appreciation on Mother's Day. A simple card thanking her for all she does is a beautiful gesture.

Tell us what are you doing for your Mom on Mother's Day? 
What is your ultimate Mother's Day gift?