Friday, June 28, 2013

Currently Obsessed...


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:  I love to read. I read an average of 50 books a year. Once in blue moon I fall head over heels in love with a novel. "Eleanor & Park" had me completely smitten after page 1. It's about socially awkward mid-western teenagers growing up in the mid-1980's. This love story is completely adorable. It will remind you of your high school sweetheart and how it all felt. Keep some tissues for the end!

The Way by Ariana Grande Feat. Mac Miller: You probably know Ariana Grande as the not-so-smart red-headed girl from the Nickelodeon show "Victorious", what you might not know is this girl can SING. She reminds me of Mariah Carey circa 1991. Her new single "The Way" is a perfect fun and romantic summer anthem.  And Mac Miller wears some pretty amazing sweaters in the music video.

Drive-In Movies: Summer nights, a movie and popcorn. I love it all. They are getting harder to find, but I love going to a drive-in movie during the summer. Even if its the latest animated feature and the kids are sitting in the back seat, it still feels a little romantic.


Mad Men: I began watching this show very late in the game, but I'm gladly catching up to the current season. I appreciate Mad Men because it's based in a time well before my own. Though the show revolves around fictional characters it actually does a good job of incorporating historical headlines i.e Martin Luther King Jr.'s influence, the struggle for women in the job market, Vietnam and so much more. I appreciate the writing and a very good looking cast.

Mini Bundt Cakes from Bundts on Melrose:  This place is CRAZY good. I work too close to one and we have a generous board member who often treats our office of 5-6 people to a batch of 24, yes... 24 delicious mini-cakes in every flavor under the sun: lemon, cookies n cream, german chocolate, strawberry lemonade, red velvet, butter pecan, etc. etc. Try these mini bundt cakes if you haven't, but be warned, you'll get HOOKED too!

Instagram Video:  I'm a social media addict when it comes to the basics... Facebook, Google + and of course Instagram. I began venturing into Vine but could never get into the video thing until instagram incorporated it into their platform. I love the real-life 15 second video snapshots I create or better yet those created by cooky friends, family & even celebrities.

So what are you currently obsessed with? 
What food, show, song, place can you not stop talking about? 
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Potty Training Woes

We potty trained our first daughter right when she turned 2 years old. It took about 2 days. My second daughter just turned 3 years old is in the middle of potty training right now and she is about 3 months in.

 3 months!!!

Potty training this time around has been a nightmare. We have tried it all...

  • buying her new princess chonies
  • setting a timer to take her to the potty every 15 minutes
  • Pull-ups with Dora, Princesses and Monsters University on them
  • lots of celebrating with noisemakers and party hats
  • stickers for each successful potty break
  • pennies for successful potty break
  • reading books about potty time
  • singing songs about going potty
  • telling her that her new baby cousin needs her diapers

This kid just has no interest in potty training. . 

This is my oldest daughter reading a book about potty breaks to my youngest.
My youngest is fake sleeping complete with loud snoring.
This is what we are dealing with! 

She won't tell us if and when she needs to go, if we happen to catch her and put her on the potty while she is still dry she will go. But if we don't catch it in time she will simply go in her pull-up or chonies. I was this close to just throwing in the towel when we had a breakthrough. While out at a Farmer's Market my little one told me she had to go! I checked her and she was dry. We were so excited until we realized that.....

We were in a parking structure with no nearby bathrooms. I don't even want to admit what we did, but it was a big breakthrough and we couldn't ignore it. 

Potty training is a rough road for both the trainer and the trainee. Some kids take to it at 2 years old in a few days, while others potty train at 4 after months and months. I just have to remind myself that we need to be consistent and it will click one day. I mean she won't be wearing pull-ups in high school. Right?? 

What are some of your potty training tips? 
Leave us a comment! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't let your child's EDUCATION go on summer break, too!

Some years ago my husband read Outliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book much was explored about achievement and what creates success in schooling, professions, sports and beyond. There was a portion of the book my husband shared with me that I immediately read. What I learned in those few pages has always stayed with me. Mr. Gladwell dissected the discrepancies in students' success based on how involved they were in academic functions during their summer breaks. Statistical data was able to prove that there was a lifelong connection to success for students who continued their studies into summer months. 

Sadly, it was also concluded that inner city students lost most of their grade level proficiency while in contrast to their middle-to-upper class counterparts who often times remained more engaged in academics over extended school breaks. I grew up in the inner city and remember very clearly going on summer vacation and not once picking up a book to read or completing a set of math problems.

However, I'd like to believe this isn't a matter of "those who have" and "those who have less." This is a matter of education, for all. ALL students regardless of socio-economic status have a chance at success should they do one simple thing: continue to work on math, reading and/or writing while on summer break. 

Original Art Work by Co-Author (a.k.a my kid)
School, A+ & Hotel = Summer Vacation & Learning
My son came home on the final day of school with a simple flyer that warned: "Research shows most students lose 2.8 months of grade equivalency math skills over the summer." They offered free enrollment into which I immediately signed up for. He was assessed and spends only about 60 mins. a week working on math drills matching his ability. He gets to access fun games after completing a certain number of weekly drills. 

Another note encouraged parents to do the following this summer:

  • Read to your child at a level that fits their current proficiency (visit to find book levels). Independent readers should visit the library and pick some fun books for summer reading.
  • Ask your child(ren) to keep a summer journal and encourage consistent writing.
  • Join reading clubs/programs at your local library.
  • Use flashcards for drills (i.e my son who is entering the second grade is working on sight words, but anything can go on flashcards: i.e. times tables, science terms, geography, etc.).

Over the summertime find fun ways to include kids in learning and academics. Think science projects at the beach or math problems while cooking a homemade meal (great for kids learning measurements). For instance, this blog post is being co-written and proof-read by my soon-to-be 2nd grader and he's having a blast. In fact, he'd like to add the following: summer rules!

With that said, there's plenty of time this summer to incorporate fun learning into your child's day-to-day. Check out these free academic sites: 

So kids are on summer break, but that doesn't mean education is also on vacation. So click the links above, visit your local library for programs, but whatever you do... keep your children learning well throughout the summer months.

How do you make academics fun?
Share your tips!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Makeup Tips - Guest Post by Marcela de Vivo

As the weather heats up our usual makeup routine doesn't always cut it. Today our guest blogger Marcela de Vivo has some great tips on how to keep makeup looking fresh during the summer season. 

Summer Heat Makeup Tips The only thing that should be melting this summer is your heart because of all the cherished memories you are going to collect with loved ones. Your makeup, on the other hand, should not be melting.

To get you looking your best this summer, without worrying about everything smearing off, here are a few helpful tips.

1. Use primer

Your skin naturally wants to produce more oil during the summer because it is trying to keep itself moisturized amidst the heat and humidity. Sometimes, that does not work out too well on your face as you end up looking really greasy instead. To combat your skin’s natural response to oil, use a primer.

Primers can be worn alone all over the face, or specifically for the eyes, and it locks in oil, leaving you with a smooth healthy shine. Worn under makeup to absorb oil, it makes your makeup last longer and look more vibrant, so this would be a good investment for those sunny days.

A primer you can splurge on is MAC Pre + Prime Face Protect that has SPF 50 or Laura Mercier Oil free Primer, which doubles as a lightweight foundation. Heavier foundations may not stick well due to the summer’s heat, so it is best to opt for lighter coverage (and use concealer only where needed). For a more inexpensive, but still effective primer, there is Rimmel’s Fix and Perfect Foundation Primer.

 2. Moisturize

Oftentimes, women think that they are over-moisturizing when they see their skin is oily, so they limit the use of a facial lotion. In fact, having dry skin on your face is what contributes to more oil production.

During the summer, moisturize regularly with light facial lotions that contain SPF to help protect your skin from the sun’s rays– this will prevent your skin from producing excess oil or becoming too dry. Don’t forget to cleanse, exfoliate and use toner each day as well!

3. Waterproof Makeup

Leave the wacky makeup to the clowns. For makeup that won’t budge, despite oil and sweat, use waterproof eyeliner and mascara. The brand Maybelline has plenty of options when it comes to dramatic, waterproof and 24-hour eyeliner and mascara.

4. Protect your lips

While you are protecting your face from the summer heat, don’t forget about your lips! It is important to moisturize and shield them from sun damage as well with a lip conditioner that has SPF. When using lipstick, apply lip liner as a protective barrier to keep your lipstick from smudging off your lips.

5. Oil-Absorbing Sheets or Powder

For those touch-ups when you do begin to see oil starting to form on your face, disposable oil absorbing sheets are handy to keep in your purse. Dab oily areas with a sheet to control shine. You can also opt for a pressed or loose powder to manage shine. Just make sure to wash your makeup sponge or brush at least once a week as the oil and dirt from your skin can accumulate on the sponge and transfer everything back onto your skin.

Use any of the makeup products so your face won’t feel overwhelmed, greasy and blotchy. By following these tips, you will not have to be concerned about checking your face every half hour— you’ll be set to have an oil-free, smudge-free summer!

 - Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from California and works with Miami spa, Bellezza Spa. Her writing covers everything on health, beauty, travel and marketing. To beat the heat during the summer, she follows these tips for healthier looking skin.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Outings Series: Movies in the Park

For our family it is not officially summer until we watch our first family movie outside under the stars. There is just something so fun about packing some food and snacks, laying out a big blanket and some chairs and watching a funny movie together. 

It must be the fresh air, or the way your kids will snuggle with you that just makes it so much fun. I especially love it because you can take a young child who might not be able to sit through a whole movie in a theatre. 

In our neighborhood a local church and the park and recs work together to put on 10 weeks worth of movies. They play animated films that are always a hit for the whole family. Lots of places offer free movies outdoors. Check with your local...
  • Community Centers
  • Outdoor Shopping Malls
  • Churches
  • Parks and Rec Departments
  • Local Papers

Free movies, concerts, swimming pool admission... there's so much to do at the park this summer!
What's your favorite?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Organizing Your Digital Photos

Thanks to smart phones and digital cameras we take a lot of photographs. Gone are the days were film was expensive and you had to really want that picture to push the shutter button. Thanks to 16 gb memory cards a camera can hold thousands and thousands of photos.

I would say that on the average I take a minimum of 20 photos a day on a average normal weekday. On a weekend or event that number goes into the hundreds. It has taken awhile but I have finally found a way that has helped me keep my photos organized.

  • First I download the photos from my memory card onto my computer. To keep things organized under my photos I keep a folder for the year. And in that folder there are folders for every month. I can even go into each monthly folder and arrange the photos by dates. 

This is a great way to organize your photos onto your computer, but we call know that computers can crash and the last thing anyone wants is to lose years and years of photos. Now this may seem extensive but I know that my photos are very important to me so I have 3 different back up systems . 

  1. I have an external hard drive where I keep the same yearly and monthly files that are on my desktop. When I finish adding new photos to a monthly folder I just copy the whole folder over to the external hard drive. I have a 2TB external hard drive that is just for photos. This way if your computer dies, you have all the photos on an external that can be hooked up to a new computer. Also in case of an emergency it is easier to grab the external hard drive that a whole desktop pc. 
  2. Burn onto cd's or save onto flash drives. Because sometimes even external hard drives can break. This is an back-up to the back-up. This is a very time consuming process but I do have most of my photos also burned onto CD's. I keep 3 ring binders filled with cd's as a "just in case" 
  3. I also upload most photos onto a photo sharing website. Personally I use Flickr. For $25.00 a year I have unlimited storage space and can upload all the photos I want. So even if my desktop, external hard drive and cd's all get destroyed my photos are still out there on the internet for me to access. 
Our photos are our families memories frozen in time. 
Keep them safe and secure!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to Avoid the Seven Year Itch

On Monday my husband and I will be celebrating our 7 year wedding anniversary. I recently reminded him of this fact and said "uh oh it's the seven year itch!". This term refers to an idea that after seven years of marriage someone gets bored and cheats. This 7 year mark is usually about the time when married couples have young children, a mortgage payment, careers, and lots of responsibilities. It is a time when couples start to find themselves drifting.

Here are 7 tips to help avoid the dreaded 7 year itch:

  1. Get out of your rut. At this point many couples find themselves in a routine. With kids and jobs and all that comes with it, it is so easy to fall into a routine and routines often lead to ruts. Change something. Anything! If you have tacos every Tuesday, change it up and have hamburgers. Paint your bedroom a different color, or rearrange the living room. Change is good. 
  2. Make time for each other. We have always heard about date nights, but taking time out of your schedule to just be with your partner lets them know that they are a priority. Can't get out or away for date night? Create time in your daily schedule at home to just be with your spouse (sans kids). 
  3. The 7 year mark is a great time to stop and reflect on your relationship. Talk about what is working and what isn't working. Reflecting could create a breakthrough that will reinvigorate your union and set off a new spark of love.
  4. Keep the passion and romance alive. And yes, I mean have sex. Have sex often. The more you have sex the more you will want to have sex. 
  5. Do you! Make sure that you have not lost yourself in your job and your kids. If you and your own personal interests are fulfilled you will be all around happier. This happiness will find its way into all your relationship. 
  6. Don't let the little things that annoy you just fester and become a big deal. Keep communication open and talk things out before they get out of hand. 
  7. Therapy is not admitting failure. Sometimes even the best relationship needs a neutral third party to talk to. If you feel like you could benefit from therapy try out a session. 
Do you have any tips on avoiding the 7 year itch? 
Leave us a comment! 

(Oh and Happy 7 Year Anniversary Babe!) 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pretty Little Liars

Recently I caught my daughter in a lie. It wasn't anything major, but it was a straight lie to my face and she kept up the lie until she realized that there was no way out and she fessed up. I was so shocked and upset because my child was being dishonest. I had to take a moment and remind myself that all kids are going to lie once in a while and it was my job as the parent to make sure that my daughter does not become a constant liar.

There are a few reasons why a child might lie...

  • fear of being punished for doing something wrong
  • when bragging to or trying to impress other people
  • when trying to avoid a task they do not want to do
  • fear of disappointing a parent or teacher
  • to get attention. 
In the case with my daughter she was lying to avoid being punished for something she had done wrong. When your child lies to you or gets in trouble at school for lying here are some tips for handling this situation. 
  • Don't give power to the lie! This means do not overreact. This may be hard to do because we tend to be very hurt and upset. 
  • Explain to your child that telling one lie always leads to another lie and so on. 
  • Remind them that trust is earned and that by lying to people they will find it hard to trust them in the future. 
  • Set the example. Many parents will throw out an occasional lie within an earshot of their child. Something as simple as lying about your child's age to get the discounted rate is sending the wrong message to your child. 
  • Most children know that lying is forbidden, but what they don't always understand is that lying is hurtful. Talk to your child and make sure they understand that lying hurts others. 
The goal to to make sure that the next time your child is faced with the decision to tell the truth or to lie, they chose the truth. 

What is your advice for dealing with a child that lies? 
Leave a comment! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Steps to Help a Stepfather Succeed in a Blended Family - Guest Post by Eddie Shackleford loves featuring daddy guests posts on any and all topics. Some weeks ago a guest blogger shared her story of becoming a step-mother. Today we welcome a father's perspective on this very important topic because becoming a step-parent is not something that necessarily comes easy. Guest blogger Eddie Shackleford reflects on his personal journey to share some helpful tips with our readers. Take it away Eddie... 

Making the most of a blended family unit is not uncommon; there is a high percentage of children in America that have a stepfather living in the household with their biological mother. Learning how to coexist in harmony in a blended family has its challenges and rewards. Use these tips to make the process easier and encourage family harmony on every level.

1). Familiarize everyone early

A stepfather should never integrate into a household without allowing the child or children involved to begin a relationship beforehand. To warm everyone, the stepfather should visit the home regularly, and have conversations with the children before he moves in. A new stepfather should take note of any shared interests in sports, entertainment, education, or hobbies the child likes so that he can make a positive connection.

2). Know the house rules and expectations

A stepfather who is willing to integrate himself into the environment must know the rules of the home and what is expected of him on a daily basis. Many times in blended families, older children and teens have established household routines. In addition, many young male children will often take on the role as the ‘man of the house’ until a stepfather appears.

A loving stepdad must never belittle or embarrass a young man who is used to handling certain responsibilities in his home. Every household is different, so it is important to establish rules and responsibilities to limit arguments.

3). Set reasonable boundaries

Nothing will discourage the entry of a stepfather into the home life more than if boundaries are overstepped. It is crucial to comply with the personal boundaries of each household member. Always share logical reasoning instead of simply arguing for better communication. Respecting the privacy of older children is necessary to avoid family blowouts.

In the beginning, it is best to allow only the biological parent to discipline the child in question, until a deeper parent-child union is formed. Doing so could cause extreme anger and rebellion from the child or teen affected.

4) Spend significant time together

Enjoying time together is chief in a blended family, and it is essential to the growth of the relationships in the home. Children or teens should be encouraged to have an exciting day out with their Mom and stepfather. Watching movies on
cable TV is a great bonding time for the family. The Summer time is great, kids are out of school and there are tons of movies to watch. Sitting down for breakfast and dinner is another simple way to build a foundation of interaction that lasts.

A family vacation could be perfect for incinerating the ice that makes relating difficult. Allow everyone to take part in the trip planning to encourage family collaboration.

5) Allow the bond to grow

It is imperative to never attempt to force the bond. It takes time for a child to adjust to a new guardian, so avoid pressuring any child into a stage of acceptance with a step parent.

Assimilation of a stepfather into the household is never an easy conquered task. Having a positive attitude and the willingness to engage in every aspect of family life is necessary. A stepfather that puts forth a stellar effort to be a part of the family will be most successful in settling in.

Author: Eddie Shackleford is a father of 2 and 1 step-child. He understands the importance of being an effective step parent. Eddie currently writes for Direct4tv and loves to write about parenting, TV, and more. You can follow Eddie @Eddie20Ford.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Outings Series: Pretend City in Irvine, CA.

Summertime can be filled with the dreaded "I'm bored!". Every Monday this summer, will review local outings kids (and parents) must see and enjoy! These family-friendly places are a great way to fight summer boredom. We'll feature mostly sites throughout California, but encourage readers from all over the U.S. to submit guest posts highlighting some of their favorite kid spots such as museums, water parks, amusements parks and more!

First up... Pretend City
Because what kid doesn't want to run wild in a world of make-believe?

Pretend City is just the place for small children to enter a town of fantasy. A trip to Pretend City doesn't have to be too long and kids have a blast at every turn. So plan an afternoon at Pretend City and enjoy. Admission costs $12.50 per adult or child with 1/2 off after 4pm (0-12 mos. free). Due note, Pretend City closes at 5pm daily and is best suited for kids 1-8 years old. 

Post Office Worker
Pretend City is a mini-version of any full-fledged city. There's a city hall, post office, grocery store, bank, farm, fire station, library and so much more. The best part is that children are encouraged to work to earn money throughout Pretend City. After working in different stations like the post office children earn money (actual pretend money they get from an ATM) which they can turn around and spend in the town's shops. The little grocery store was quite adorable with cash registers, bustling lines, and so much to choose from. 

There's something for every age at Pretend City. My infant loved playing in a mini foam pit while my oldest played dress up and rode around in fire trucks and police cars. My kids also really loved fishing in the town's marina, visiting the doctor's office and creating their own works of art. 

Fireman to the Rescue

Fishing in the Marina 
The art section included various art projects for kids to try such as clay molding, painting and sketching. Children were allowed to sit and create as long as they were into it and could then take their creations home. My favorite place in "town" was the library which was full of books and comfy corners to relax and READ! 

All in all, Pretend City is an awesome place to spend the afternoon playing dress-up and make believe with your children. So head out to Irvine and gear up for fun, games and a whole lot of pretending. Enjoy!

Where will you take your children this summer?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pool Safety

School's out for summer and kids everywhere are gearing up for the typical free spirit, fun in the sun, shenanigans! My grade-schooler was ao busy during this last week of school setting up summer play dates. One thing we were actually asked a lot was if he knew how to swim.

He is in the beginning stages of learning to swim and has never had lessons. However this is the summer we're turning him into a full-fledged swimmer. Besides all the fun involved with knowing how to swim, this mom is tried of worrying about possible freak accidents.

In preparation for a safe summer of swimming I've done a little research and want to share it with our readers to ensure we're ALL ready for a safe summer of swimming.

Firstly, the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-19 is drowning. So don't underestimate the need to be vigilant. Feels like it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, kids that cannot swim should NEVER be left alone in a pool, lake or beach. Never being left alone means adults are focused on children swimming and not reading or distracted by cell phones.

Kids can begin swimming lessons before the age of 1, but if you haven't put your child(ren) in lessons, no need to worry. The basics of safety are to speak with your children about standard pool rules and their safety. According to the New York Times, "Lessons commonly begin by teaching children not to be afraid of the water. They learn to get their faces wet, blow bubbles, lift their faces up and take a breath. They then learn to float and breathe properly while doing simple strokes like the dog paddle and backstroke."

Next, it isn't a bad idea for the adults supervising kids to be trained in CPR. Knowing how to handle emergency situations can't hurt. Beyond that, kids should be taught to never rough-house while swimming, or hold another kid down, or "cry-wolf" about possibly drowning. The above issues could really harm a child more than help them so speak with your children about these details.

And of course, any child who cannot swim should always use a life vest (or the equivalent for their age) while in or around a pool. This is especially critical for small children. Children too young to call for help will need to depend solely on a secure life vest (or flotation device) should they become accidentally submerged in an unsafe level of water.

Please share your safety tips with us! And tell us how you keep kids safe while swimming?!?!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Competitive Moms Land a Reality Show

Reality shows are well a reality of our time. They are everywhere and about everything. It's hard to keep up, but a new show caught my eye. Pretty Wicked Moms is a new reality show on Lifetime. I had to see for myself how Lifetime would represent Moms in this new show. It was everything you expect a reality show to be.

Now I only caught the first episode but the shows centers around 6 shallow, self-centered Moms who are more concerned about outdoing each other, than raising their own kids. There is the Queen Bee, the Southern Belle, the Alpha Mom, the Doggie Mom (yes she only has a dog), the Divorced Mom and the Newbie Mom. They are basically all the mean girls from highschool, grown up to be mean moms.

The first episode centered around a Moms night out at the Queen Bee's boutique called Swank, where she proceeds to talk behind all the ladies backs about what they wore and how they didn't buy anything. Even the 2 "best friends" are constantly taking jabs at each other. The second part of the show is when the Alpha Mom throws her daughter a Mad Hatter themed birthday party, where she has spent so much money she claims she will never reveal the dollar amount to her husband.  At the party the women talk behind each others backs. All the while the Newbie Mom is desperate to fit in and put together the right outfit and makeup.

The stereotype of the ultra-competitive Mom is the reason why I have never had a "play-date" with any of my kids friends. These woman are conniving, petty, two-faced and just mean to each other. I mean the shows theme song is "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks.  So naturally I am hooked on the show.

Have you seen Pretty Wicked Moms?
What do you think about how this shows portrays Moms? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teaching Kids NOT to Hit

I wish I had a magical answer for this one. If only there was a secret code or the perfect words to teach a toddler not to hit other kids when frustrated and determined to get their way. My 1 and 2 year old were never big on hitting and then that all changed when they began attending daycare about 3 months ago. Since then we've been battling against my almost three year old's desire to hit her brothers and even me. She's definitely tested our boundaries lately and in all the frustration of the past few weeks here's what I've learned:

Don't expect to teach a child NOT to hit by hitting them. Modeling appropriate behavior is never more impactful than when teaching a child to deal with frustration and SIMULTANEOUSLY keep their hands to themselves. If you find that your child is hitting lots of other children lately consider how often you're spanking your child to deal with frustrations. The moment you begin modeling peaceful reactions is the moment children begin to learn peaceful/reactive behaviors through your example.

Teach children in the moment. Hitting is typically an issue between the ages of 3 and 5. At this stage kids can't really comprehend choices and consequences too far after they've occurred. So it's critical to immediately respond to your child if they are hitting another child. 

Use affirmative words. Repeatedly telling a child "don't... stop...stop... don't" really loses its effect. Try phrases like "please keep your hands to yourself" and "remember to play kindly" or "please be gentle." Saying these things in an excited and clear voice will surely grab your child's attention. Make sure to get to their level and be very clear, stern and direct about this request. Also, tell them what is appropriate i.e "use your words... tell me what you want/need." 

For instance, my almost 7 year old has really had to practice patience to not hit his sister back when she's shoved or swatted at him. I've empowered him in this situation and explained what he can do instead of hitting back. First, I acknowledge that I understand how frustrated he must feel. I've then asked him to speak up for what he wants from her not what he doesn't. So he doesn't say "don't... stop... quit!" He'll instead say "please keep your hands to yourself... please be gentle... tell me what you want... use your words" Believe it or not even a first grader has learned to affirm his little sister and get her to think about what reaction works and what reaction doesn't, so that she hits less and talks more, because at the end of the day kids that are hitting are just trying to communicate something!

Children do not mean to be unkind or hurt other children so if you're on the receiving end of this situation feel free to use some of the above with children who might be hitting your child. You can ask other children to "keep their hands to themselves" and this shows your children how they should be able to verbally request respect from others.  

What techniques have you used to teach your child NOT to hit other children?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father's Day Gift Ideas Straight from Dad

Who better to give us ideas for what Dad's want for Father's Day then some top-notch Dads. So we turned to the men behind HerMamas. That's right our husband! We asked them to tell us what their ideal Father's Day gifts would be. 

Joey is the father of 2 girls, 8 years old and 3 years old. He is a stay at home Dad and is very involved with all parts of parenting since the day his oldest was born. We asked him what his ideal Father's Day gifts would be and he told us...

  • Clothes or hats from some of his favorite brands. Since Joey has a punk rock/skater kind of vibe his favorites include brands like Famous Stars and Straps, Rebel 8 and Benny Gold
  • A certificate for some go-kart racing. With 2 kids in the car Joey has always been a responsible driver. This is a great way to give your Dad a chance to really put the pedal to the medal and live out any Fast and Furious fantasies. 
  • A new BBQ grill. Joey is a great cook but he is an even better griller! He recently came up with a great homemade burger patty recipe and the whole family will benefit from a shiny new grill in the backyard! 

Diego is a father of 3 wonderful kids ages 6, 2 and 1. He takes his responsibility of raising his children very seriously. He is raising his children to be strong, independent, and loving people.  We asked Diego what he would like for Father's day.....
  • A Nike Fuel Band. Diego eats well and stays active, so this is the perfect gift for him. The Fuel Band is not only a pretty cool watch but it tracks your daily steps, calories and something called Fuel Points. It can be synced to your PC and phone. It's a wonderful complement to anyone who's fit-conscious and active. 
  • Mac Mini Computer. Our PC desktop finally gave out and Diego can't wait to get his hands on a new Mac Computer. Our HP desktop was last in line to be converted to an apple device after iPhones and an iPad. If the Dad in your life loves apple products, you'll love this device in your home collection of electronics.
  • Dress Shoes. My hubby is a professional career man who's in usually in a pair of slacks and dress shirt. Needless to say, he goes through dress shoes pretty quickly. Aldo has some great styles if you're budgetless. And if you like to keep it budget-friendly, I've scored great pairs of dress shoes at DSW. 

Remember no matter what you buy for the Dads in your life, make sure to tell them how much you love them and appreciate all they do. 
What are you planning for Father's Day? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Preparing Your Child for a New Sibling

When a new baby is on the way there are lots of things to get ready. There is a nursery to paint and decorate, baby showers to attend and a name (or names!) to pick out. There is one more thing that needs to be prepared for the new baby, your other babies.

Keep in mind that your child's world is about to change in a very huge way. This is especially true if your child was an only child. Your child is use to all your attention and the attention of others, having to share the spotlight can be tough.

Here are a few tips to help prepare your child for a new sibling...

  • Let your child make the big announcement to friends and family. Whether your are doing it with a video, photo or in person, let your child tell everyone that they are going to have a new baby brother or sister. 
  • Spend some time with friends or family who have a newborn. This will give your child a realistic idea about what having a newborn in the house is like. 
  • Read books or watch a show on the subject. When I was pregnant with my second a friend sent me the DVD "Three Bears and the New Baby" . I loved that they explained how the parents would be gone at the hospital. As for books, there are a bunch of fun and funny children's books like "The New Baby" by M. Mercer and "Theres Going to be a Baby" by J. Burningham. 
  • Let your child be involved with some of the decision making. Let your child pick out the new baby's "coming home" outfit or the paint color for the nursery. I have even heard of families letting the child pick the baby's name! (I might be okay with the middle name!) 
  • When it comes to the baby shower have a small cake for the new big brother or sister. They will love having some attention on the big day. 
  • Gifts are always good. Have a gift from the baby to your older child ready for when your children first meet. It can be a toy they have been wanting and t-shirt that says "I'm the Big Sister/Brother" or something more sentimental like a locket or bracelet. 
How did you prepare your kids for a new baby? 
Leave us a comment! We love to hear from YOU! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Revamp Your Online Dating Profile

We are living in a digital world and many people looking for love have turned to online dating. Sites like eHarmony and Match are filled with potential dates. In the online dating world, your profile is your first impression. With over 40 million people on these kinds of sites, how do you make sure your profile is making a good first impression?

Here are a few tips...

  • Ever heard of the phrase, "if it's too good to be true..."? Keep this in mind when writing your profile. Don't come off as too perfect. No one is and no one will believe you. 
  • Keep things simple. Give a brief description and try not to go into too much detail. If you talk about everything on your profile, what's left to talk about on a date. The key is to draw them in and make them want to know more about you. 
  • We all have a list of things we want in a potential partner, but be cautious about asking for too much. Don't ask for the ring, the house and the kids. 
  • Skip the cliches. "looking for my soulmate" or "work hard and play hard" just come off cheesy and there is a good chance every other profile has these exact phrases in them. 
  • Stay positive about yourself. Don't give a long list of all the things your don't like about yourself. This also goes with listing what you want in a partner. List what you do want, not what you don't want. 
  • When it comes to photos make sure that they are good quality pictures. The pictures should focus on you. Don't use a photo with your ex copped out no matter how good you look in it. Change your profile pic periodically and rotate all your photos often. 
  • Some sites allow you to pick your own screen name. This will say so much about you so make sure it say what you want people to think of you. Don't call yourself "Playa123", it will just give the wrong impression. You should also change your screen name once in a while. 
  • Make your last line a strong one. This is what a potential date is going to be left with and remember. 
  • Spell check! This is so important. A friend sent me a profile once where a girl who spelled "high-heals" a few time in her profile. It left a bad impression.
  • Ask a friend to review your profile for you! They can give you a fresh perspective and give you some pointers. 
Do you have a great online dating story or tips? 
Share with us in the comments! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

If Only Couples Came Pre-Programmed to Communicate Well

I use to be pretty bad at communicating my feelings, even worse, I didn't realize just how bad it was. Today I can say that I am much better. But somewhere in between bad and better there have been yelling matches, tears, heated words, the "evil eye" used overtime, silent treatments and all the unnecessary drama of failing to communicate well. 

First thing to keep in mind, where there's romance, there's deception. When you first meet someone and that stage is all butterflies and googly-eyes, communication is easy. Truth is, in that stage communication isn't real. During the early months, and even years of dating, most couples put their best foot forward and actually strive to communicate well. Or worse, couples ignore issues for the sake of not disturbing the romantic peace. Then this stage wears off. Relationships evolve. Couples can't keep up the perfect facade for too long. At some point, the real you will have to communicate annoyances, share gripes or will be just plain moody.

Here's what I've learned about communication through much trial and error:

Not communicating is bad communication.  Ignoring feelings doesn't help long-term. Suppressing real emotions will never make them go away. Truth be told all emotions boil over if communication is lacking and frustrations are ignored or as I like to say: "emotions are swallowed." In my relationship,  I talk too much and don't listen enough. I'm working on that. My husband on the other hand is a great listener but does tend to keep his emotions in. He's a work in progress (as am I) and though it's so much more natural for him to just say nothing for the sake of keeping the peace, which is how he was raised; he now tries his best to share what's on his mind. Lately, he's done a great job by offering a little disclaimer: "Okay babe, ego aside, this is what I'm feeling..." Bringing me to the next point... 

Setting ego-aside is the best and hardest thing to do, but works wonders when communicating. What made me the worst communicator early on in my marriage is that I could never be wrong, told I was wrong, or even looked at in a way that suggested I was wrong. That's such a huge lack of maturity on my part, but I know so many who relate to this feeling.  I use to assume I was communicating because I was complaining. Those are two different things. And on top of that, I couldn't be wrong. I learned that this was a part of my communication style that didn't work. I took a long hard look at my ego and started to look for ways to keep it in check and accept, "I can be WRONG!"I now strive to take a breath, slow down, think, set ego aside, and communicate what I need to with words that will help not hinder healthy discussions. 

Learn your partner's communication style and embrace it. The more and more couples I meet who appear to have solid relationships also appear to be opposites in a lot of ways. It's probably safe to assume they also communicate very differently. Learn your partner's style and your own. Awareness goes such a long way. So sit down and try to understand what works and what doesn't. Do this when  you're both calm and don't attach this conversation to a previous fight or failed attempt at communicating. By doing this you'll identify common ground in which to communicate effectively moving forward.

Quit while you're ahead. This isn't easy, but it's critical. Before, I could never drop issues and poor communication inevitably led to fighting. And who wants to fight for the sake of fighting? Suddenly you're fighting about a fight and probably can't even remember how you got there.  I was once advised when it looks like a conversation is about to become a fight do one of the following: become silent and grab your partner's hand (the act of touching can naturally calm emotions). Obviously, tell your partner about this tactic before attempting it or you'll just look like a crazy person. Next, when it's too late for a touch of the hand and silence, ask for a timeout. Respectfully ask to immediately pause a conversation to gather yourself. Ending a conversation doesn't mean it's over. It just means you need time to cool off or gather your emotions. Come back to the discussion when things feel less heated and your emotions are calm.

Hope these tips make your next attempt at healthy communication fruitful!
There's so much left to share about this topic, so share what your tips too! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Graduation Gift Ideas

It's graduation time, and chances are you know someone who is graduating from something! In our family we usually have at least 4 different graduations ranging from preschool to PhD programs.

What ever accomplishment you are celebrating we have a few gifts ideas to help you celebrate these big milestones in your loved ones lives.

 How cute are all those little people in tiny caps and gowns? This is the first of many graduations for this teeny graduate. Here are few ideas for the mini-graduate in your life

  • Art supplies will help make the summer go by a little faster. 
  • Outdoor toys are a great gift for summer afternoons in the shade. 
  • You can never go wrong with books. 

Graduating from middle school (or junior high) is a big deal. Your middle schooler is going through a lot of changes in life and celebrating this graduation is a great way to remind them that you are proud of all their accomplishments. 

  • A small piece of jewelry is a nice and sentimental gift. Charm bracelets are great for girls this age and watches are a nice gift for boys.
  • Movie passes are a nice gift and gives them something to do on a hot summer day. 
  • Let them start high school with some school pride. A t-shirt of sweatshirt from their new high school would be a great gift! 

They have gone from lowly freshman to big bad senior and now they are graduating from high school. They are about to start life as an adult and this celebration is a great way to send them off into the real world.

  • Gift cards are always an appreciated gift. If they are heading to college a gift card from a store like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond to help them stock up on college dorm supplies. 
  • You can never go wrong with cash. Giving them a little to put in savings is a great way to send them off. 
  • What teenager doesn't have a cell phone attached to their hand? With the constant facebooking, instagramming and tweeting this keychain emergency phone charger by mophie would be a great gift. 
  • If you have a sentimental type graduate, a memory box would be a lovely gift. This would give them a nice place to keep some high school momentos. 

 4 years (probably more!) of hard work is done. College graduation is such a big accomplishment. And even though it usually means sitting in the sun for 4 hours for the ceremony, we still want to shower our graduate with love.

  • A personalized portfolio is such a nice gift and something that can be taken to a job interview. It will help them be organized and look professional. Don't forget to add the MS, BA, or PhD on the end of the name!
  • Most college kids can't wait to put that alumni license plate frame on their car. Check the colleges website to buy one. 
  • Your college diploma is the one that people will want to hang proudly on the wall. A nice frame with a matting with the college name or seal is a perfect college graduation gift. 
HerMamas would like to congratulate all the 2013 graduates! 

Who is graduating in your family? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interracial Coupling: Should the term even exist?

This is one adorable Cheerios Commercial. So I could not believe the audacity of those who complained about how this family was depicted. A sassy bi-racial blogger gave her two cents in a recent article titled "I'm Biracial, and That Cherrios Ad is a Big F***ing Deal. Trust Me. In her opinion: this is a BIG F-ing deal, in a GOOD WAY, not bad. This blogger gets to see a mother and father on television that looks just like the family that raised her. Now what could be so wrong in that? In fact, it's about time! 

It is unbelievable that this day in age we could still criticize and condemn based on race. We complain about acts of terror which are of course evil and worth fighting against, but what about the everyday acts of cruelty and lack of acceptance? This has to stop.

In fact, should the term interracial couple even exist? Interracial couples love each other, support each other and raise families together no different than non-interracial couples. Couples are couples and so cheerios got it right. They cast a man to play dad, a woman to play mom and a little girl to play daughter!

Families are all uniquely their own and should be accepted and portrayed as such. Love and kindness that will ultimately defend against such a scary world starts with us and how we treat our neighbors and fellow citizens. So stand up against those that think critiquing coupling (different than their own) is acceptable.

 How do you stand up against prejudice in today's society?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stories from the Month of May Fitness Challenge

The challenge was simple. Eat better, workout more and do it as a team. More than 30 challengers joined the fitness challenge set up by during the month of May. Whether we were sharing exercise tips, giving each other endless words of encouragement or just eating better, all of us had one common goal to improve our health and fitness. Combined there was a total weight loss of over 40 lbs during the month of May. Way to go challengers!  

The challenge included men and women who were juggling careers, children and more. We had one challenger working out around her busy schedule parenting TRIPLETS, plus 1. If a mother of 4, under 5 years old can do it, anyone can! A few first-time moms hoping to lose the "baby weight" also joined the challenge and generously shared their workout routines with everyone. I for one really enjoyed learning about cross-fit work outs.  

Of all the stories we heard, we are excited to share the following journey with all of you... 

Meet Brenda M. 

Brenda joined the challenge and brought a couple of girlfriends with her. She worked out, ate better, felt inspired, and even at times felt defeated. In 4 short weeks, she went through a lot of the usual ups and downs of changing your health and wellness lifestyle, but the best news we heard is that in 4 short weeks Brenda lost 10 total lbs. and was "sad to see the month/challenge come to an end!"

Her before and after pics:

Brenda like a lot of other challengers looks great and will continue her own personal challenge to reach the end goal of living a healthier lifestyle. Brenda's courage to join the challenge, stick to it and want to continue for as long as it takes to succeed makes her one of the many WINNERS of the month of May fitness challenge. 

To anyone else hoping to kick-start their own transformation, START TODAY! Don't give in to excuses and remember, "nothing TASTES as good as FIT feels." Best of luck challengers. Keep up the great work all summer long!

What keeps you motivated to meet your fitness goals?