Friday, August 30, 2013

1 Year Blogiversary


HerMamas.com is turning 1 year old!
We cannot believe that it has been a year since we started.
A big thank you to all our readers. We are so grateful for all of you. 
Thank you to all our contributors who have given us some of our most popular posts to date!
As we look back on the first year we can honestly say that we are even more excited for year 2. 

HerMamas.com is a labor of love. We strive to be a space for women looking to learn, grow, share and teach; but above all, support one another!
We do this for YOU! So keep the guest posts, topics and comments coming!

In fact, comment now & tell us, what do you want to see in year two of HerMamas.com???

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Can Birth Order Really Determine Your Personality?

When I first met my husband, after about 5 minutes, I knew he was the oldest child. There was something about the way he was the responsible one out of the group that just told me so. There have been studies that show your personality can be affected by your birth order. I come from a family of 3 (and yes I am the oldest). I was curious to see if my sisters and I fit the profiles. So I looked into what each birth order translates to in a person's personality.

The Oldest: The first born child is kind of like the guinea pig. Parents are brand new to parenting and tend to be more by the book. They are more strict and protective with their precious first child. In turn, older kids can be overachievers, cautious, rule-followers, ambitious, bossy and controlling.

The Middle/Second Child: When the second child comes around parents tend to have a handle on parenting. They are more relaxed and less strict and this can influence a middle child's personality. Now if this child has a younger sibling they sometimes feel as if they are lost in the shuffle and tend to feel left out. This can lead to a middle child doing what they can to stand out even being a bit more rebellious and a rule breaker. For middle children their friends tend to be very important to them. They are more likely people pleasers and do not like to be told what to do. They tend to do what they want.

The Baby/Last Born: By this time parents are much more laid back when it comes to parenting. Or in some cases parents have just really figured out what works and what doesn't. Or they have given up trying. There are usually less rules for the baby of the family and less discipline. This laid back attitude is reflected in the youngest child's personality. The babies of any family are usually the fun-loving, out-going, spontaneus, and adventurous types.

As you can see it is more about the parenting and how parents relate to each child. When I think about my sisters and I we totally fit our birth order types. I am very much the responsible one, my middle sister lives by the "I do what I want" motto, and the youngest is the life of any party.

Do you fit your birth order personality? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Leadership and Parenting Fatigue Factor

If we're overwhelmed, excessively tried and feeling almost depressed it probably means leadership fatigue is sinking in. Now I don't mean plain old fatigue, I mean leadership fatigue. Everyone in a leadership role (parents especially) go through something called the leadership fatigue factor! This basically means that as the leader of any group, team or family we begin to burn out.

Specifically for parents leading a family we tend to believe we have to control everything, constantly... Responsibilities such as bills, demanding careers, focusing on our relationship with our spouse and then being mommy. Leading a family can come down to feeling like you MUST lead every detail: When's the next PTA meeting, who's wearing what, was lunch packed, when's the next doctor's appointment, what about the next date night, or planning that important meeting at work?

At times there's just too much going on and a parent can truly be hit with leadership fatigue factor. So try some of the following to cope with this all too common parent burn-out:

1. Expect your children to help. Children can do so much more than we think. My 7 year old can do plenty of things and even though I slip back and start taking over for the sake of control, I shouldn't... He can clear the table, feed the dog, take out the trash, pack his own lunch, pick out his own clothes, & even wash his own clothes. Sure we don't want to burn children out either, but there can and should be balance for them as well as participation. 

2. Follow a structure. That can be as simple as keeping a calendar on your smart phone. It's the whole, "set it and forget it" concept. You don't have to store every commitment in your brain. Keep a system to help you that your entire family/team can manage.

3. Ask for help & relax. Take a break from parenting 24/7 and read a book or veg out. I sometimes take full advantage of organized play dates. My kids are out of the house and instead of jumping into the next duty such as dinner prep or cleaning the house, I relax! I take care of myself and manage that dreaded, often creeping, leadership/parenting fatigue factor! 

Can you relate to this topic? Comment and tell us how you avoid this all too common leadership fatigue factor?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What I Learned From Our Time in the NICU: Guest Post by Jackie Guerrero

My daughter is almost 6, but wanted to share our story. For the most part I have always heard about these wonderful pregnancies and birth stories. The baby is born healthy and goes home in a couple of days. That’s what I thought would happen after finding out I was pregnant with my little girl. But little did I know it would be 155 days before we would all go home as a family.

My daughter was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus and IUGR when I was 20 weeks pregnant. At 26 weeks I developed Preeclampsia (high blood pressure).  I was to be on bed rest in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. At 28 weeks, my blood pressure rose to 210/110! The only way to bring down my blood pressure was to take my baby out. She was born that same day at 1 lb. 8 oz., 12 inches long. 




She was our little miracle! My daughter was immediately taken to the NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit), IVs were placed and she was put on respiratory support. She spent 5 months in the NICU and went through 5 surgeries: shunt placement twice (helps control Hydrocephalus), Retinopathy of Prematurity Surgery (prevents blood vessels from detaching the retina), G-tube placement and hernia repair. She was a fighter and continues to prove so many doctors wrong!

We learned a few things while in the NICU that can be helpful to other parents who may be going through a similar experience.    
                      
Ø  Bond with your baby. Even if your baby is in an incubator and you can’t hold him/her, you can talk, sing or read to your baby. You can place your hand over baby too. I remember it was hard for me at first because I was afraid of all the tubes, wire and machines she was attached to. I didn’t want to break anything. It wasn't until I first held my daughter (2 weeks after she was born) did I begin to feel the mother-daughter bond. You may also do skin to skin (also known as kangaroo). If you want more privacy you can ask for “room dividers” to block out everyone. Other bonding opportunities can be taking their temperature instead of the nurses, weighing them, changing the bedding, their diapers, etc. Having a child in the hospital means you don’t have the regular experience of being home and bonding, so you just come up with new ways. It made me feel good knowing I was doing the little things I would have normally done if we were at home.



Ø  Educate yourself. There are lots of books out there for parents of preemies. A lot of terms will be thrown at you and it’s going to sound like they are speaking another language! I purchased “The Preemie Parents’ Companion: The Essential Guide to Caring for Your Premature Baby in the Hospital, at Home and Through the First Years.” This book was a life safer. I learned all the lingo, all the various things that go on while in the hospital, how to understand monitors attached to my baby, roles of the doctors and nurses, definitions of various diagnosis, etc. It really helped me understand what was going on. And helped me prepare what it would be like once we went home (which was another journey in itself).
Ø  Decorate! Hospitals are so blah, so just like you would decorate your nursery at home, decorate the incubator! Bring blankets, pictures, stuffed animals, etc. When my daughter made it to the big girl crib, I brought her Boppy, crib sheets, her mobile, toys and musical bear. It made it a little more normal for me. I bought preemie clothing and beanies and dressed her up as much as I could too ;)
Ø  Speak up. Don’t ever be afraid to ask the nurses or doctors anything. This is your baby and you have the right to know. There are no dumb questions. If you feel something is wrong, let them know. You know your baby more than anyone. I literally had to stop a doctor from withdrawing fluid from my daughter’s brain! Had I not stopped him he could have caused severe brain damage to her. I let the charge nurse know and scheduled a meeting with all her doctors and nurses to ensure nothing like this would happen again. And write everything down (nurse’s names, procedures, etc.) because you never know when the information will be needed.
Ø  Nurses are important. They are the main caregivers of your child, other than yourself. If you don’t like a nurse you can ask she not be assigned to your baby. I requested a nurse no longer care for my daughter because she did not know how to use a device that was attached to my daughter causing it to drain all the fluid from her brain! Thankfully nothing bad happened to my baby.  If you like a particular nurse you can have her be your baby’s main nurse. I had to change nurses a couple of time before I found Cindy. She was awesome. She treated my daughter as if she were her own. I knew she was in good hands when I was not around. She would carry my daughter around in her sweatshirt (kind of like a Baby Bjorn) while she was at her computer or walking around so my daughter wouldn’t be by herself or crying. And it’s always nice to bring goodies like sweets to the nurses ;) They work hard and are caring for your baby 24/7.
Ø  Don’t forget about daddy. It’s important for dad to bond and care for your baby as well while in the NICU. As mothers we tend to want to do everything especially when our little ones are sick. But let dad hold, change the diaper, bathe, take temperature, etc. It allows dad to feel important and feel like he is contributing as well. It’s also important for you to spend time with dad. It’s so easy to get consumed with your baby but dad needs attention too, whether it be going to lunch in the hospital cafeteria, walk around the hospital, going out for dinner or even some alone time ;) You both are going through a lot and its important to be there for each other.



Ø  Take a break. I cannot stress how important is to care for yourself. I had a break down at the hospital once. I had been at the hospital for 4 days straight while my husband went to visit family in Southern California. One of the doctors made a rude comment and I lost it. I went to the top floor bathroom and was literally in a ball in the corner of the bathroom crying.  I realized I needed to make time for myself. I needed to be healthy for my baby. I had to stop feeling guilty for leaving for a few hours and take a time out.  So, I would have lunch outside instead of the cafeteria, go out with my hubby to eat, stayed home and watched movies and began attending parent groups held in the hospital. I met some other mothers who were going through the same emotions and it felt nice to talk to someone who could relate.
Ø  Ask for help. There’s lots of support from the hospital when your baby has a long stay. We were assigned a social worker to help navigate our time at the hospital. She helped us with setting up insurance, disability, provided us with gas money for traveling back and forth from hospital and linked us to many more resources. Since we lived so far from the hospital (about 100 miles) we were able to live in the Ronald McDonald house. It was like a home away from home: it was equipped with kitchens, laundry rooms (free soap), game rooms, TVs, family activities, holiday celebrations and my favorite, Friday night dinner from McDonalds ;). Depending on your income you may be charged but it’s really inexpensive. We paid $10 per week.
Ø  Spend time with family.  They will be one of your biggest supports. Whether it be a phone call or visiting with them, they are there. Hanging out with them is good for your soul. They will help keep your mind off all the things that can go wrong, tell you how beautiful your baby is and how even stronger you are as a mom or dad. We lived in Northern California but our families lived in Southern California, so it was extremely hard being away from my mom for my first baby. Initially, I tried to be very brave and strong. I didn't want to feel like I was vulnerable. But in the end I needed my family. Our moms, brothers/sisters, aunts and Nana came up to visit us. And it felt good to be able to introduce our daughter and feel proud to show her off ;) My mom is awesome! She cleaned our house, made us dinner, held my hand when talking to the doctors, she even woke up with me every 3 hours in the middle of the night to pump.



Ø  Extras. You can ask for Cuddlers. They are volunteers who will hold your baby while you are not there; When nurses draw blood from your baby’s foot ask for them to put a warm pack on the heel so it’s easier for the blood to draw; Ask for some wipes that feel oily( I forgot what they are called) it helps take off those sticky hospital tapes and will hurt less when they remove or replace them; Ask for “sugar water” for your baby when he/she is in distress from any procedure (blood draw, checking eyes, ultrasound, etc.). It helps distract baby from pain or discomfort; And most important take lots of pics and save your baby’s first diaper, first pacifier, first beanie, first shirt, etc. My daughter’s first diaper was as big as a mini pad! It’s cool to look back and remember how small they were and how far they have come.

I’m sure there’s much more, as I can talk for hours about our experience. But the important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Everyone’s experience is different so thank you for taking the time to read about ours. It’s funny because talking about it is actually helpful to me to talk about one of the hardest times in my life! Thanks Hermamas for letting me share! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pros and Cons of Having Children at Weddings

As a mother of three, when I renewed my vows this past weekend I knew children would be in attendance. Still, I was weary about children on board and this wasn't about unexpected behaviors, but mostly because our reception was aboard a sailing yacht!

I got beyond this detail and then thought about the pros and cons of inviting small children. And I'll be clear, my vote is to include the kiddos, but do carefully consider the cons.


1. Uncontrollable noises and behaviors; yes a child may have a full on tantrum on the dance floor during your first dance. It could happen!
2. Adult guests may have a tough time enjoying themselves fully due to potty beaks, diaper changes and the usual child-care necessities.
3. Children are counted as adults at most venues, so sure you can usually pay less to feed small children, but they make up part of the total guest count.  Ten babies is the same as ten adults.

However, no matter the amount of cons one could come up with, children are more and more common at weddings this day in age and there's fun ways to turn their attendance into big pros:

1. Parents don't have to worry about finding a sitter. Kids are welcome!
2. Reception could include family-friendly details like games in a child specific area i.e. child-sized tables, chairs with coloring books, stickers and more. For our wedding, I only brought items that were easy clean up... Dress-up toy kits (doctor/princess), puzzles, card games, checkers, etc. You can really play up a theme here!
3. Kids add such a lovely element of cuteness and love to any wedding! Tiny tuxedos and tiaras lead to amazing photo ops and plenty of "oohhs and awwws".


Now you tell us, yay or nay on a kid-friendly reception? 
Leave us a comment!
       

Friday, August 23, 2013

My top 5 Ways to Stay Married

I once read a blog post by Lydia Netzer on her blog Shine Shine Shine. The post is titled "15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years". She gives real life sound advice. All 15 points are great but there were 5 that really spoke to me. If you follow my personal blog you may remember this. Since my HerMamas co-creator Irene is getting married by church to her husband of 7 years this weekend, I thought I would share them with our beautiful readers today!

#2- Laugh if you can. 
In any fight, there is one person who is really mad, and one person who isn't mad. That person should deflect the fight. Make a joke, do something stupid or corny, make the other person laugh. If the fight is very serious for you and you feel like you really want to plant your flog and die on this hill, fine. Do it. But if you're fighting for entertainment, or because you're just reacting, then you be the one to deflect. Fights are bad. Deflecting a fight whenever possible is a good idea. When you're the one who's being pissy and raw and the other person helps you get out of it and brings about peace, that feels fantastic. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. Letting Dan (her husband) deflect a fight is the best thing, now. He does it really well. 

Okay in our house it is usually me who is really angry and my husband Joey who is not. In the almost 10 years that I have known Joey I have seen him angry once. Stressed? yes. Frustrated? Oh yes but never angry. And it was at his brother. And he is the King of deflecting with humor. In most tense situations he always goes with the jokey-joke. I have to admit, there have been times when I have been pissed and one of his dumb comments will make me crack a smile. No matter how much I fight it that smile will creep on my face and the tension is broken and things can move one.

#3- Don't criticize. Ever
Here is a fact: Whatever critical thing that you are about to say to your wife is already being loudly articulated in her head. And if it's true, she already feels like crap about it. Assuming you married someone intelligent enough to like you and sane enough to let you put a ring on it, trust that they are self-aware enough to know when they screwed up. It may feel good to you in the moment to say the critical thing, let it go ringing through the air in all its sonorous correctness, but it will feel awful to hear it. The only, only way it's beneficial to give your wife criticism of any kind is if you're absolutely positive she is completely unaware. And you better find the nicest, kindest way possible to tell her. And even then, good luck convincing her. The recognition of the thing you are helpfully trying to point out will be INHIBITED, not facilitated, by your criticism. And then you're the asshole. So be careful

So I have always believed this. It is something that I learned from previous grelationships. And it is not easy. There are times when I want to yell a big old "i told you so" are point out how he messed up but like Netzer says. He is already thinking it, he already knows it. I can tell. And by me even saying it out loud is just cruel and  mean. And being mean makes you ugly.

#10- Stop thinking temporarily. 
Marriage is not conditional. It is permanent. Your husband will be with you until you die. That is a given. It sounds obvious, but really making it a given is hard. You tend to think in "ifs" and "thens" even when you've publicly committed to forever. If he does this, I won't tolerate it. If I do this, he'll leave me. If I get fat. If I change jobs. If he says mean things. If he doesn't pay more attention. It's natural, especially in the beginning of your marriage, to keep those doubts in your head. But the sooner you can let go of the idea that marriage is temporary--and will end if certain awful conditions are met--the sooner you will let go of all kinds of conflict and stress. Yes, you may find yourself in a horrible situation where it's absolutely necessary to get a divorce. But going into it with divorce in the back of your mind, even in the way way way back of your mind, is going to stay with you. Inhabit that and figure out how to make THAT work, instead of living with the "what if's" and "in case of's." 

For both Joey and I this is our second marriage and I know that I went into marriage #1 with the mentality that I could always get a divorce. And lo and behold I did! This time around I threw that option out the window. Joey and I joke that he promised me 40 years together, but this thing we have it is permanent. The future is Joey and I, old, together, always. That's it. It makes a difference on how important your marriage becomes to you and how hard you are willing to work at it.

#12- Make a husband pact with your friends. 
The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more. The husband pact is very useful because you want to be able to vent to your friend without having her actually start hating your husband. Because you don't really mean all those things you say. And she, the swearer of the pact, know this. 

I love this! This could be a boyfriend/husband pact. I have always believed this. I can listen to everything a friend has to spew about her/his significant other. And if at the end of the crisis they chose to stay with that person that is their decision. And the next time I see that significant other I will hug them and smile. It is not my life and as a friend I will be there in whatever decision you make.

#14- Be loyal
All the crap you read in magazines about honesty, sense of humor, communication, sensitivity, date nights, couples weekends, blah blah blah can be trumped by one word: loyalty. You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team's rules. This is okay. The team is not adversarial, the team does not tear its members down, the team does not sabotage the team's success. Teammates work constantly to help and better their teammates. Loyalty means you put the other person in your marriage first all the time, and you let them put you first. Loyalty means subverting your whims or desires of the moment to better meet your spouse's whims or desires, with the full understanding and expectation that they will be doing the same. This is the heart of everything, and it is a tricky balance. Sometimes it sways one way and sometimes the other. Sometimes he gets to be crazy, sometimes it's your turn. Sometimes she's in the spotlight, and sometimes you. Ups and downs ultimately don't matter, because team endures. 

So freakin' simple. I have always thought of it as Joey and I against the world. I think of us as a small gang who would fight to protect each other and our marriage. Loyalty is such an amazing thing. Is the word loyal in the wedding vows? It should be. Maybe replace obey with be loyal.

Tomorrow I get to watch one of my best friends marry the true love of her life. And Joey gets to watch one of his best friends marry the life of his life. With 7 years of marriage already under their belts, Diego and Irene have not only survived hard times, but have come out the other side better people and even more in love with each other. The love and affection they show to one another goes beyond a peck on the cheek, it is in every decision they make. I am so honored to witness you two beautiful souls reaffirm the vows you took on that beach in Hawaii 7 years ago.  Congratulations to you both. We wish you all the love in the world.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

An Open Letter to My Husband...

I get to marry you on Saturday, again. This might be too personal for HerMamas.com but as I've been married to it in the last year, I've also been married to you, for that times 7! Thank you for supporting HerMamas.com. Thank you for not only sharing the spotlight with this blog but with our sweet children, friends, family and demanding careers.

You don't get the amount of THANK YOUs you deserve! Thank you for standing by me, believing in me and showing me the brighter side of things. Thank you for putting up with my craziness. I can be intense and you take me as I am!

I also don't say I Love You enough. I suppose no amount could truly express how deeply my heart aches, in the best possible way, every time it hits me: You're my Husband... and my best friend!

You GET me! And you love me so beautifully even when that takes work. You take pride in us. You are one of a kind. And I am eternally grateful for YOU!

Thank you for taking my hand in marriage (yet again) and for planning this weekend's festivities alongside me. It shows me just how much you care when I process just how much you do for us and our entire family!

So to you I say: thank you, I love you and I DO (times a trillion)!

- Your Wifey


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

HerMamas Book Review: The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande


The love of reading is one of the best gifts my Mom ever gave me. It is something I hope to pass on to my own kids.

Recently my Comadre sent "The Distance Between" by Reyna Grande over for me to read. Chicano literature is my absolute favorite so I knew that I would enjoy this read. I didn't realize how much I would love this book.

For many Mexican-American families there is an immigration story somewhere in the family history. My family's immigration story involves my grandfather, the bracero program and a dramatic train ride. Reyna's story is personal and hers alone, but it is parallel to so many other families stories. In the book, she recounts the heartbreaking and too familiar story of how the "American Dream" can tear a Mexican family apart. How children are left behind and forced to grow up too quickly and how that affects them later in life.

In the story Reyna's father leaves for the United States when Reyna is very young. He is gone for most of her childhood. The only real way she knows her father in by the framed photograph in her home. This story also shows how the reality of living in the Unites States is hard and brings on a new set of problems.

I have read many different stories about immigration, but have never read a first account from the child's perspective. This story had me in tears and in complete disbelief. I could never imagine being so young and dealing with an absent parents, poverty and never losing hope. This book is a fast read and one that you will pass on to your friends!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stop... And Enjoy This Moment - Guest Post by Linda Alvarado


Linda Alvarado has spent the last year raising a wonderfully curious and sweet little girl. As long as HerMamas.com has existed so has Linda's stint at motherhood. So it feels quite perfect to have Linda submitting her first guest post to HerMamas.com. Today, Linda shares a dilemma that many-a-mommas can relate to. Here's her dilemma: 

I speak the words “I can’t wait” all too often.  I use those words when looking forward to vacations, birthdays, weddings, and approaching births.  I often fail to stop and enjoy this moment.  The moment I am currently standing in. Why am I always in a rush to get to the next big event, when I should really absorb all that ‘this’ moment has to offer?  Excitement is the only thing that comes to mind, honestly. 


When I was pregnant I couldn't wait to meet our baby.  I was so excited to see what she looked like – and who she looked like.  Once she arrived I couldn't wait to hold her – understandably.  However, I had to wait…hours.  I was in recovery (from a C-section) for hours, which seemed like the entire day.  Simultaneously I couldn't wait for everyone else to meet our new baby. I then found myself looking forward to leaving the hospital to go home. Again, this was understandable, as I was propped up in an uncomfortable hospital bed with nurses waking me up and prodding at me every few hours, for nearly one week. 


Once I was home I couldn't wait to be able to sleep.  Someone forgot to mention to me that wasn't going to happen anytime soon!  Oops! My hopes were crushed and I was exhausted.  EXHAUSTED.  I was limited to sleeping, um, resting on the couch because I was unable to get onto our bed (it was too high).  I couldn't wait until the baby was able to sleep longer, so I could sleep more.  Then I couldn't wait until the baby was old enough to hold up her head so I wouldn't feel so nervous or scared to hold her. A plethora of I can’t wait feelings soon followed.  I couldn't wait for the baby to smile, sleep in her crib, laugh, sit up, eat rice cereal, crawl, eat baby food, eat solid food, stand, walk…and so forth. 

Reflecting back, I was always so excited, proud and happy that our baby conquered a new milestone, then I couldn’t wait to get to the next big milestone, with excitement. However, I feel as though I missed out a little on enjoying that current milestone and everything the baby had to offer during that time.  Here we are nearly one year later and I am in disbelief how quickly time has gone by and all of the milestones she has conquered.  In a matter of weeks she will be one year old.  ONE YEAR OLD.  I am happy and sad at the same time.  I am happy she is developing properly, healthy, and she is an incredibly happy baby.  However, I am sad time has gone by so fast and I was so often looking forward instead of right in front of me, because she is growing up so quickly.  Before, I couldn't wait for the next big thing, but as her next big event (turning one year old) approaches I realize I can wait and I need to stop looking forward so I am able to fully enjoy this moment while it is here. Enjoy our baby, today!  I have learned to change my frame of mind from 'I can’t wait' to ‘stop (time) and enjoy this moment’, famous words spoken by well-known singer Pitt Bull. I am so excited to spend the day with her and see what new things she does today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month...  TODAY. 

So can you relate to Linda's story?
How do you strive to stay in the moment... something so many parents have a hard time with.
Comment below! 

 




Linda Alvarado is a mommy of one, MSW who resides in Lakewood, CA. and is obsessed with using chapstick. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strip Clubs Can Save Your Marriage?

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Would you ever consider sending your husband to a strip club to help your marriage?

According to Katherine Frank's research, maybe you should! In her book "G-Strings and Sympathy: Strip Club Regulars and Male Desire" Frank complies the results of years of research as a stripper at different types of strip clubs. After interviewing over 30 of her regular customers she came up with some interesting conclusions.

While we may think that strip clubs give men an unrealistic idea of what a woman's body is supposed to look like, Frank thinks it does the opposite. Her years of research brought her to the conclusion that men have a very wide range of body types that they find attractive. She claims that most strip clubs have a variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to their dancers.

And what about the idea of married men sitting in a dark room and watching a woman who is not his wife dance in almost no clothes? The married men she interviewed had no desire to end their marriages. Many were just satisfying an unfulfilled area of their lives.  According to Frank what happens in these clubs is just real enough to be exciting for the customer, but just fake enough to be just a fantasy. Fantasy is healthy and can help reenergize a marriage. Intimacy is not a part of the strip club experience and instead by going to a place where men can "vacation" from the everyday can help create intimacy in their marriage.

It's the money spent where even Frank herself draws the line. She claims that she would not like her husband to frequent strip clubs because she does not have that kind of money to spend on such a habit.

We know you must have an opinion on this topic! Leave us a comment and tell us what you think! 
How do you feel about your significant other going to a strip club? 
Is it no big deal? Is it forbidden? Or maybe it's encouraged?
We want to hear from you! 

Back- to- School Gift Card Winner!

Thanks for all the comments over the week! We really loved reading all about your back to school adventures. We entered your names into the Randomizer and the winner of the $25.00 Target Gift Card is......



Congratulations Jackie! 
Thanks for commenting and for all the support you have shown over the last year! 
We appreciate all our readers so very much! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Extra Curricular Events for KIDS!

Felt like the summer was busy and yet we slowed down quite a bit. Things were slower since this HerMama wasn't running from one extra-curricular/school commitment to the next! If your child's like mine (or most kids these days), chances are they're involved in plenty.

For our family in any given school year there's soccer, basketball, tennis, karate, chess, school carnivals, catechism classes, talent shows, back-to-school nights and other events like book fairs and school dances. There's plenty to leave parents feeling more like cab drivers and personal assistants to their children than actual parents. Still there's always a way to manage without feeling like you broke the bank and overextended yourself (or your children).

This last school year, my son was able to join a few different after school sporting activities, but we stick to ONLY one per ten-week period. This allows him (as a 1st grader) to sample different activities and myself as a parent time to juggle one after school sport's commitment at a time. In doing this my son discovered how much he loved soccer and karate. As a second grader the plan then becomes to skip basketball and tennis for more time spent in karate and soccer (while keeping both on opposite schedules). All in all, we do our best to avoid juggling more than one athletic commitment at once.

Next, my son and I plan a day of learning as part of regular extracurricular commitments. I find this critical to stick with the concept that outside-of-school-learning is fun and like any extracurricular event requires time allotted to it. We pick a regular weekday that includes a trip to the library, math drills on the iPad and anything else educational in nature (i.e. museum trips, bookstore browsing/reading, etc).

Finally, I shop around! Extra curricular costs can pile up. So ask around. Check the local paper or parks and recs. offices for deals. For instance, my son didn't join a karate dojo where he was regularly dressed in the standard karate robe. Instead, he joined a more affordable after school class where a local sensei came to his school once weekly for group lessons. When it was all said and done, he loved it and completed his belt test - very happily earned an orange belt. Moreover, I didn't he even thought twice about not being in a dojo or dressed in a white karate rode.

How do you manage extracurricular commitments? 

Remember, today is the last day to enter this week's giveaway, so comment below! 
Doing so you could win a $25 Target Gift Card!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Getting Back on Schedule

As a parent, when summer starts I always say I am going to stick to a regular routine. Early bedtime and early mornings. Then about a week in I find my kids are up until 11pm and waking up at 11am. Late nights and late mornings are just the norm for our household in the summer. Lazy days of no agendas are great!

So when the calendar shows the first day of school is right around the corner I start to dread getting the whole family back on schedule. This is no easy task. It usually involves lots of me putting the kids to bed and then spending the next 3 hours saying "Settle down! Go to sleep!" 

That was until I found this great tip! Instead of going from a 11pm bedtime to a 8pm bedtime in one day, take a week or so and do it gradually. The first night put your kids to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake them up 15 minutes earlier. Keep doing this until you are back at a 8pm (or whatever your bedtime is) bedtime.

Here are a few other tips to help get back on schedule...
  • Family calendars are your friend! A big dry erase board with even just a regular calendar posted in a central place is a great way to keep everyone in the loop on where everyone is suppose to be everyday. Chances are along with school other sports and after-school activities are starting. It will be tough to keep it all straight. A visual of your family schedule is a great way to help days run smoother. 
  • Meal Planning. Plan out your daily meals, snacks and grocery lists. I usually do this for 10 days at a time. It may seem like a lot of work, but it really only takes a few minutes. Our menu goes onto the fridge and this way anyone can start dinner and there is no time wasted trying to figure out what you want to make and if you have the ingredients to make it. It also eliminates the so annoying "what's for dinner?" question
  • Organize a workspace for your student. I know in my house most surfaces become storage for toys. Make sure that whatever space your child will be working at is clean and supplies are organized. A shiny and clean place to work can help motivate a student to hit the books! 
We hope that getting back to school time routine is smooth sailing for you!
Leave us a comment and let us know what time your school day start? 
Remember to leave your email with your comment to be entered to win a $25.00 Target gift card! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back-to-School Shopping!



Oh-Emm-Gee! Shopping for back-to-school is in full swing! I'm a sucker for deals so I penny pinch even when it's time to for the usual shopping sprees like holidays and back-to-school. One of my favorite go to shops is Old Navy. I find they have great clearance sales! I'm also a big fan of outlets. I visited the premium outlets in Cabazon and got my son a wonderful pair of Nike tennis shoes for only $20.00! That's a steal for a great pair of sneakers! 



How we've made out so far:

  • Backpack: $7.95 at Burlington Coat Factory
  • Sneaks: $20.00 at Nike Outlet (there are premium outlets throughout the U.S... google one near you!)
  • Skater Lunch Bag: $8.00 at Old Navy
  • New Clothes: $50 (Old Navy & Marshall's)
  • Back-to-school supplies: $20 (Walmart)

Beyond that, I'm not ashamed to plug consignment stores. There's two that I love in the South Bay: Kid's Double Time and Children's Orchard. If you're not from the So. Cal area just search kid's consignment on Yelp to catch local reviews and find a shop near you! I love YELP to find highly rated retailers (especially for kids clothes and supplies)! 

Finally, don't forget to navigate the net for online deals. I find walmart.com has the best prices and online inventory for school supplies.  All in all, back-to-school shopping should be fun and easy! So if you're still scrambling for back-to-school finds check out some of the above options. 


Better yet, for those who have mastered this time of year's shopping needs... share your tips below. Tell us where you find the best back-to-school deals (and be entered to win a $25 Target gift card).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Day of School Memories

Every single year, on the first day of school my Mom would make my sister and I stand next to our front door. Backpack on our shoulders and our hand on the doorknob ready. Every year, even when I started community college. As embarrassing at it was at the time I am so glad she did it. In those photos ranging from 1985-2000 you see me grow up and the styles change. She even managed to capture my excitement and nervousness with every new year.

I have carried on this tradition with my kids. 

Left: Pre-School and Right: 2nd grade

Back to school pictures do not have to be as traditional as standing by the front door. Here are a few tips for making those back to school memories a little more special 
  • Use a small chalkboard to write what grade your child is starting. 
  • A picture of your child's smiling face is great but you can also capture some great memories by getting pictures of the little details. Maybe a close-up of those brand new sneakers or their really cool backpack. 
  • If you are a parent that walks your child into class on the first day (I totally am!) have your child take a photo with their new teacher. 
  • Siblings, especially younger ones, can sometimes have big reactions to the first day of school. Some younger kids may cry or be just as excited. Getting a picture of all your kids is a good idea!
  • I like to take a photo of my daughter sitting at her desk. This is usually when the excitement of the new year kicks in and it usually shows on her face. 
  • Use your favorite photo editing and add a little personal information about your child's current likes.


And of course there is this internet famous first day of school photo.....



I think a lot of us can relate! 

So tell us what are some of your first day of school traditions? 
Remember each comment enters you to win a $25.00 Target gift card. 
Get all the details HERE

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gift Card Giveaway... FIVE chances to win!

It's almost back-to-school time! In my home we're stocking up on essentials like new shoes, a backpack worthy of second grade (think skull and bones) and of course a new Angry Birds Star Wars water bottle (my son's obsessed)!

With that said, many of you are probably preparing for back-to-school, too! Visit HerMamas.com all week where we're talking back-to-school shopping, schedules, extra curricular activities and more!

Let HerMamas.com pay for some of your back to school shopping!!


Comment on any of this week's posts and be entered to win a $25 Target gift card!

Five posts means five chances to win! And don't forget to leave us your email with your comment. This way we can notify you if you WIN! Winner will be announced Monday, August 19th. 
Catch you on the comment thread.

 Now, tell us what are some of your must have back to school supplies?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Who Decided What "Having it All" Means?

This was Time Magazines cover last week......





I immediately thought that they were saying that in order to have it all you can't have kids. That in order to have a good, fun and fulfilled life, filled with days of lounging on the sand, you have to skip parenthood. The article  shows that more and more couples are choosing the child-less life. This is evident in the fact that the birth rate in the United States is lower than ever.

There are always going to be people who believe that parenthood is not for them. And they will unfairly be judged by someone for that decision. They may base their decision from a financial standpoint, or from a purely lifestyle standpoint. If a couple decides that traveling the world is what they want and do not believe that children fit into the equation, well that's their decision. In my opinion I think it is great that this generation is putting so much thought into having or not having children. I have friends who have chosen to not have kids and are living a fun and exciting life. They are fulfilled by career, travel, friends and truly have it all...for them.

What really irked me about this cover was the term "having it all" and the implication that in order to do that you can't have children. The definition of "having it all" is different for everyone.  For me it's my 2 children, my husband, the love we share and the adventures that we work hard to have together. For me a life of travel, vacation and adventure would be fun. And those few times where I get to leave my kids with a babysitter and enjoy some child-less time is always great. But FOR ME, not having children would be missing a big part of "it all", really the only important part of "it all", my family.

What is your opinion on this idea of a child-less life = having it all? 
Leave us a comment. 



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why I decided to get married... AGAIN!

I married the man of my dreams the first time around. He was kind and patient. It was everything fairytales were made of. We were so in love. And we still are! So we're getting married... again! 

This time however we'll finally have that religious ceremony we never got around to the first-time. I'll be honest, planning a religious ceremony after having being married 7 years leaves me feeling less like a young lover and more like the sensible and thrifty wife/mother I've become. Some might even say there's no reason to get married again and I've even had family members comment, "what's the point?" 

WELL HERE'S THE POINT:

We are faithful. We want our union to receive the blessing it is meant to have. My husband and I were raised Catholic, we're raising our children Catholic and after years of baptisms, confirmations and catechism classes, something was always missing... our sacrament of HOLY MARRIAGE! When we ran off to Maui after a few weeks of prep and with only our maid-of-honor in tow, the first time, I suppose we were being young and carefree. We didn't consider how critical our religion had always been to us. Yet as the years went on, we yearned for more and more. We yearned for a union under the eyes of God, as Catholics would say.

We are thriving. My husband and I are often seen as a perfect couple and we are everything but that. We bicker, we battle and during the first two years of marriage we actually went through some of the toughest times of our lives and marriage. But we're still here. Three children later, stronger than ever and still very much in love. We grew up together during the beginning of our marriage and through many failures we came out of the other end feeling so proud of our union, our shared ideals and our ability to become better people. We're ready to celebrate our love and faithfully re-commit to it.

We are surrounded by LOVE. They say it takes a village to raise children well the same goes for successful marriages. My husband and I come from great families, but those family members were never considered during round one. We ran off without our parents (which includes my devoutly Catholic mother), without our siblings, and closest friends. Looking back on it, we were so in love, and we just didn't think about their role in our lives. Today, we want a new chance at celebrating our marriage with everyone that has graciously been a part of it. Finally, my mother will walk me down the aisle. My sister and brothers will watch their little sister marry a man who deeply loves her, and above all, our three young children will share in our love, take on touching roles and watch their parents practice what they preach when it comes to our faith. 

Simply, we're blessed! We get to do it again and we can't wait.

What's your take on vow renewals?
How important is a civil wedding vs. religious nuptials? 
Leave us a comment or simply congratulate this HerMama on her 2nd wedding!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Make-Up Artist Marisol Marquez: Sharing Her Tips and Showing Us Her WORK!

I recently got my make up done to attend a friend's wedding. I heard about an amazing make-up artist who did very affordable house-calls and more significantly she also did hair and was GOOD! Check out my before and after (keep in mind I was going for a dramatic look, why the heck not?)...
Now maybe we can't always wake up, roll out of bed and get dolled up like a Kardashian, but we can definitely do-it-ourselves. I asked Ms. Marquez to share some key make-up tips with HerMamas.com and here's what she had to say:

  • Please please please ladies keep your skin moisturized at all times. Moisturized skin is the best foundation to any makeup. I recommend using vitamin E oil on your face before bed time, wash it off in the morning and apply a moisturizer with sunblock protection. I like Cetaphill and Olay moisturizers myself. 
  • When choosing a foundation for yourself, keep in mind that testing on your hand isn't exactly the best place to match your skin tone. Test out foundations based on your neck's tone. You want your foundation to look natural and non existent, not like a painted on layer. A color that fades away into your neck's tone.
  • If you have fine lines of expression marks on your skin, it is best to avoid too much powder, shimmer, glitters, and thick make up. These products will either crack making your lines more visible or reflect light making them more noticeable. Instead opt for matte shades and tones in eyeshadows and blushes.
  • And finally instant achieve instant healthy youth full looking skin by applying a bit of bronzer or tinted moisturizers. Darker tones hide fine lines, make skin seem firmer, tighter and over all youthful.
  • Best place to apply bronzer is under your cheekbones blending it upward to the sides of your forehead, blending a bit into our hair line, defining your jaw line and blending it down your neck and last but not least... on the sides of your nose to give you an even sun kissed look.

Is a 24 year old UCSB alumni freelance makeup artist and hairstylist 
attempting to takeover L.A. one brush stroke at a time. 
For an appointment contact her directly.
Click her name to go to her Facebook page and contact information.

Share your favorite make up tips & leave us a comment.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Screen Time


I remember when my daughter was 3 and it was hard to get her to sit through a whole movie. Now that my kid is 8 we have the exact opposite problem. I can't get her face away from a screen. Between TV, Nintendo 3ds, desktop, DVD in the car and her tablet screen time is out of control. We recently had to set a rule that she couldn't walk around with her face in a screen.

This issue slowly crept up on us and we are struggling to find ways to limit screen time. Along with the fact that she is just sitting there all day, we have noticed that she is more moody and doesn't listen to us as well as she used to. With school starting it is time to set some rules and really enforce them. Here is our game plan...


  • Use the parental controls on her Kindle fire to limit her total time on it. I love the Free Play option the Kindle Fire has. I am able to set daily limits for apps, and videos while keeping reading books unlimited!
  • Change the WiFi password weekly. I saw this great idea on Pinterest. By changing the password we can set up ways for our daughter to earn it! It can be chores, homework, an art project or even outdoor play. 
  • Make certain areas of the house and certain times a screen free zone. For example no screens at the dinner table. 
  • Be a better example. I know that my daily screen time is ridiculous and there are many times when I don't practice what I preach. I need to put down my own phone and tablet more often. 
Is screen time an issue in your house? 
How to you deal with setting limits?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Outings Series: Splash Pads

School maybe just around the corner but the summer sun is still out in full force! There is a new trend that many cities are following. They are building splash pads in or near local playgrounds. These splash pads are great alternatives to swimming pools. A soft rubbery ground like you find at playgrounds but all the equipment shoots out water!


If your kids are not strong swimmers, these places are a great way for them to enjoy the water without the fear of deep waters. We found that these are great for our toddler!

So pack your bag and slather on the sunscreen and look up the splash pad near your neighborhood. This is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Friday, August 2, 2013

How Cuquita Became Ruth

During our summer vacation my family has an annual talent show. My Nina Ruth shared a very personal, sweet and touching story about how she went from being Cuquita to being Ruth. As a person who has been called "Alyssa" her whole life her story really touched me.

With her permission she has allowed us to share her story with you......



Thursday, August 1, 2013

HerMamas Go Camping

We did it. Not only did we survive, but we had a great time! Yes we are talking about a family camping trip. Elissa and Irene packed up the kids (and husbands!) and headed north to Bass Lake, California for a few days of tent camping, lake swimming and s'mores! The kids ran, played and swam all day and everyone had such a great time relaxing on the shore. 

It had been a long time since either Elissa or Irene had been camping so it was educational for them as well as fun. Here are a few tips from Elissa and Irene about tent camping with your family....

Elissa

  • Pack individual bathroom bags for every member of your family. Include things like toothbrush, toothpaste, fash wash, washcloth, soap etc. If you pack one toiletry bag then if one person takes it to the bathroom the rest of the family has to wait. With individual bags you just grab and go. 
  • We packed sandwiches for lunch at the lake everyday. Since we were making for a big group we usually made 2 loaves worth of sandwiches. To cut down on trash instead of packing each sandwich in a zip-loc bag we just put them all back in the bread bag, put back on the twist tie and into the cooler it went! 
  • This one came from my 8 year old daughter, don't pack white socks! 


Irene

  • Keep it light by keeping it real. I completely over-packed. I knew the weather forecast reflected warm weather (even over night) and I still packed too many coats, sweat pants and blankets. Save yourself the angst and resist the urge to overpack. 
  • Pack plenty of easy dry snacks that won't fly off the shelfs. You'll run through stuff like chips very quickly, so we also brought dry goods like grapes and beef jerky. Those held up well and weren't as bad as eating about 3 lbs of chips daily.
  • Bring on the entertainment: Sure our kids ran wild and mostly played with sticks but we also enjoyed a round of Uno and Cornhole. Card games are easy to pack and lots of fun. We also brought our iPad with pre-downloaded games (checkers) and movies. My kids watched the same Chipmunks movie as they fell asleep every night.


Do you have any tips for camping? 
Share them with us! Leave a comment!