Thursday, October 31, 2013

Contest: The Pumpkin Spice Take Over & A Happy Halloween

The pumpkin spice take over is real. I read this hysterical blog post entitled, "Everyone needs to calm the ***k down about Pumpkin Spice!" In the post, this person's take on this whole seasonal craze led to everyone on earth dying during a pumpkin spice apocalypse. It was so comedic and got me thinking... I'd be the first to go during a real apocolyptic over-exposure to pumpkin spice. I mean check out my actual pantry... 
                                 
Okay, maybe freshly brewed PSL from Starbucks doesn't appear in my kitchen cabinet every morning, but the daily cost sure does appear on my debit card. The husband is well aware of our fall spike in coffee sales in our personal finances every year! I'm just one of those people! I'm adding to the craziness and spending the dough on every product with pumpkin spice slapped on the label. But at what cost? Today is Halloween and we didn't carve pumpkins this year or head out to a pumpkin patch! Am I too overwhelmed by pumpkin spice in my diet that I'm avoiding the real thing? I hope you've had a better fate this fall season and actually enjoyed typical pumpkin essentials like carving a spooky jack-o-lantern and visiting a fun and festive patch! Comment below and tell us how you've spent time celebrating FALL!

And on that note, HerMamas would love to wish all of our readers a very happy and safe Halloween! Please drop by our Facebook page today and share your Halloween pics with us! Oh and if you're really feeling generous share your pumpkin spice recipes, too! 

Happy Halloweenie!

Contest: every photo or recipe shared on the HerMamas Facebook fan page today will enter you in a random holiday drawing! One lucky winner will nab a $20 Target gift card! Happy sharing!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick or Treat Safety Review



Tomorrow there is a good chance you will be heading out to take your little ghosts and goblins out trick or treating. Here are a few safety tips to make sure you and your family have a fun and safe time on Halloween night.
  • Have dinner before you head out. By making sure you head out on a full stomach you avoid low blood sugar melt-downs and constant nagging to eat just a little bit of candy. 
  • Make a route and stick to it! Only go to neighborhoods you are familiar with and that are well-lit. Having a trusted neighbor near-by will come in handy for an unexpected potty break. Don't make your route too long, even though your kids may want to hit as many houses as humanly possible, after an hour or 2 they will be tired. 
  • When it comes to costumes avoid shoes with high heels, plastic masks and anything so long that is drags on the floor. Any of these things could contribute to a trip and fall incident.
  • Bring a flashlight. Each group should have at least one flashlight. Make sure to check the batteries before you head out! You can help kids be more visible by putting a glow stick on a string around their necks. Anything to make sure your group can be seen at night. 
  • The little trick or treat bags can fill up quickly and get heavy for little ones. Parents can bring one big plastic bag for each trick or treater. Dump from the kids bag into the big bag every once in awhile. 
  • And as always, check any candy before eating! Anything that is not in a wrapper or has a ripped wrapper should be tossed. 
Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cheap Date Night Ideas

Date nights are the best! This goes for those newly dating, newlyweds and even couples who have been married for some time. It is my belief that every couple should make one-on-one time for each other that takes them outside of their usual routine.

In my marriage date night is a weekly priority. It involves a set commitment from us, our children and even our babysitter (abuelita). So every Monday the hubby and I plan date nights that include a meal and an activity. Of course, weekly date nights can get costly especially when you consider having to pay for a sitter (if you have kids). But cost should never be a reason to skip on the connection date nights provide. 

Firstly, do the research on local happenings. Parks, malls and local businesses often host free to low cost activities. For instance, over the summer my city offers free Zumba on the beach one evening a week. Gettting in a fun active workout is a great date night idea plus couple that with delicious pre-made salads for dinner and catch a sunset at the beach/park before or after your workout ($15 total cost of this fun and easy date). Now that's just a Zumba example, but year round cities host everything from free to low cost farmer's or flea markets with plenty of free entertainment and fun! So get to searching and saving on these date night outings.


Two for one coupons are a great way to go to keep costs low! Plenty of restaurants offer a meal for two lumped into one lower price. We love the PF Changs dinner for two that includes appetizers, two entrées and even two desserts. Have great meals and skip the high cost! Also check out your online discounters like Groupon, Yelp or Living Social for any two-for-one type deals.

DIY dates: everything you can do at an establishment you can do at home. Instead of Color Me Mine paint pottery on your own where you want to (park, beach, home). Get to a hobby story, pick a piece to paint, paint supplies and you're set. Bring along some romantic tunes (on a mobile device) plus some yummy snacks (fruit, cheeses and sparkling lemonade) and watch sparks fly on this fun and low cost date. There are so many DIY ideas to explore. Paint on canvas at home with a bottle of wine and dinner! Grab a dance video and teach each other to tango, salsa or Cha Cha Cha! Anything that you can pay for during an arranged date night, at a business, you can create at home at a fraction of the cost!

And every once and a while, splurge! After a few low cost dates surprise your significant other with a big date night out. Maybe they're thinking you're headed for a simple walk on the beach and BOOM... a sunset harbor gondola ride awaits instead. Maybe they're thinking they're having drinks at a hotel bar and really you've set up a couples massage at the hotel spa! Every couple of cheap dates should result in a few extravagant date night surprises! This really keeps the romance interesting and blooming!

Share your favorite date night stories with us...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Photo Editing Fun!

Halloween is this week! And here at HerMamas we are getting into the spirit! One fun way to make things a little more spooky this time of the year is to have some fun editing photos! Turning a cute seemingly innocent photo into something terrifying! 

Here is a photo I took while on a recent trip to a pumpkin patch.... 



There are 2 really great and free photo editing sites that I absolutely love. The first one is PicMonkey.com. First, be aware that about half of the effects and tools available on PicMonkey are free. Anything with a little crown next to it is considered a "royal" feature and requires a monthly membership to use. With that being said, there are still a TON of great effects and tools available free on PicMonkey. They also have a whole section for Halloween photo editing. Here are some of the things you can do for free....

- Add fangs to someone or somethings mouth
- Add blood! You can add blood drops, blood splatter and even blood spills
- Change eye color to something much more sinister. 
- Add an effect to make your photo look like a horror movie poster
- Add bats, black cats, ravens, tombstones, spiders and even spider webs
- Give skin a greenish tone for a perfect witch photo, there are even witch hats
- A whole "day of the dead" section to create a beautiful calavera look. 
- A whole selection of frightening fonts to choose from. 
- And of course there are cute and non-spooky effects like pumpkins and candy corn. 

If you are not too familiar with photo editing, PicMonkey is a great place to start. With most effects and tools a little box will show up and tell you about the effect and some hints on how to use it to get the best results.

After using a few tools and effects with PicMonkey, here is my photo now......




Ribbet.com is my go-to photo editing site. By simply completing a free registration you have access to all their tools and effects. You also can allow access to your Facebook photos, Flickr and even Picasa photos. So with a push of a button you can edit photos from these places as well as save and share photos to those places. Ribbet has a seasonal tab where you can find a bunch of Halloween effects and tools. Here are some of the things you can do...

- change eye color to vampire red or ghoulish green. 
- create a Zombify effect to give skin that "been dead for years" look.
- add open wounds to skin complete with blood drips.
- add lightening strikes to any photo
- stretch out face features with the ogre or fun house mirror effect.
- add a mask, or even face paint.
- add spooky ghosts to your picture. 
- fonts to add text.
- and of course there are a lot of kid friendly stickers to add to you photos. 
- add a Halloween themed frame to your photo. 

Here is what my photo looks like after a few minutes on Ribbet.com



And here is what you can create by using both sites....


Happy Halloween Photo Editing!! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mommy's favorite apps (for babies)!


Smart phones have made life so very easy! I really can't believe how far we've come from pagers and dial-up internet connections. And just when we think life can't get easier some new app comes along and it DOES!

I visited a friend this week and before she plopped down to begin breastfeeding she went to fetch her phone. I was so confused. I mean I live with my cellphone camera shoved in my kids faces, but not usually while breastfeeding. Turns out the cell phone wasn't for a pic, but for a very nifty app. My gal pal spent a measly $2.99 on the iBaby Feed Timer app and it makes breastfeeding so easy (or at least the tracking of it). This app. logs the time a child feeds, the side they feed on, etc. It's able to keep a running average of total daily feeds and even tracks diaper changes and sleep records. It's a highly rated app on apple with 5 out of 5 stars! Gone are the days of having the remember these details or writing this stuff down. If you're gearing up to breastfeed your little one... nab this app! 










What family doesn't have two phones in a household now-a-days. If you do then save some money and do not buy a baby monitor. The Best Baby Monitor app (only $2.99) can now replace those bulky, more expensive baby monitors. In real time you can SEE and LISTEN to your little one while they're in another room. All you'll need are two iOS devices over WiFi or Bluetooth. What's great is that you can use an iPad or iPod interchangeably with this app.  







Now if you want to keep all of your functions in one simple app android and apple users can download Baby Connect for a few more bucks (around $4.99). This one app allows you to track it all because some mommas (and even poppa's like my hubby) love one-stop tracking. With this app moms can track sleep, diaper changes, nursing and pumping. Baby Connect is a bit more elaborate and complex than iBaby and is great for parents who want the most capabilities! In this app you can even track baby milestones and growth spurts! 

Download one or all three of these apps and have fun moms and dads!

HerMamas wants to know... are you using these apps (or others) to make mommyhood easier? Share your tips and reviews too. Comment below!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Songs Your Kids Should Know

Music is amazing. It has a way of making us feel whatever emotions we need to. It can also transport us back in time. In our house music is always on. We keep music on in the kitchen while working and the kids fall asleep to their ipod every night. My husband and I both are music lovers and hope to raise our girls to have that same love. In this day and age of the Justin Bieber and the latest Disney superstar making records my husband and I came up with a list of songs that as parents, we feel is our duty to expose our kids to.


1. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen- the ups, the downs, the slow the fast, the head banging. This song is just a complete lesson in classic rock all wrapped nicely in a 5 minute and 55 second song.

2. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana- yes my husband and I are children of the 90's but this song really did change things in music. It pushed the grunge movement into the mainstream. Plus I will be able to explain why Mom only wore flannels during high school.

3. In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins- yes its a sad, slow-tempo song, but that drum solo! Waiting for that drum solo is always so intense. And really you have to teach your kids how to properly air drum to that part.

4. Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners OR Save Ferris- this is one of those few instances when the remake is just as good as the original. There will be a time in your kids life (probably in college) when this song will come on and everyone will sing along. Make sure your kids know the words.

5. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley- this song just makes you happy. It is positive and upbeat and optimistic. Even kids sometimes need to hear "every little thing is gonna be alright". Plus when your 3 year old sings it there really is nothing more adorable.

6.No Parking on the Dance Floor by Midnight Star- Both my husband and I were very much into breakdancing when we were kids. We had our fat laced converse, painters caps and giant pieces of cardboard. In our house we joke that the only rule is "No Parking on the Dance Floor". This song really captures that era. Plus our kids needs to understand when we say "Hey Lady, you can't park here!"
Honorable Mentions.....
Rapper Delight by Sugarhill Gang
 Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond
 Paul Revere- Beastie Boys

So tell us what songs are on your list?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes!

What's for dinner? I'm cooking for a family of 5 almost every night. Now I remember the days when I'd cook crazy elaborate meals for my hubby (yeah, that was about 7 years ago when we were newlyweds). With a full-time job, three kids to shuffle around and a ton of daily commitments, dinner has come down to being a balancing act of quick and easy, but I hated forgoing DELICIOUSNESS for the sake of easy; so here are some quick tips to spend less time cooking and still enjoy a delicious meal:

1. Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta (prep time: 25 mins or less): Who doesn't love pasta? It's so easy to boil and salt your favorite pasta type. After a quick 15 minutes you've got cooked pasta but you may want to try something better than a plain old can of spaghtetti sauce? Spruce up your pasta with the following pre-made trader joe's dip: 

Yes, this dip usually reserved for crackers can be melted into a deliciously flavorful and creamy sauce. Mix this torta over a fresh pot of streaming hot (drained) pasta. It is simply delicious and crazy easy. Top with basil and parmesean and YUM!


2. Enchilada Casserole (prep time: 28 mins or less): I love chicken enchiladas smothered in sauce, but boy can these little suckers take a while to prepare. Every single enchilada is rolled one tortilla at a time. That tortilla is first doused in hot oil, dipped in your enchilada sauce of choice (green or red) and after that you're finally ready begin rolling tortillas into individual enchiladas. Well strike that! Go the easier route without comprimising on flavor. Think "lasagna" creation, only instead of pasta use warm tortillas drizzled with oil to layer yummy ingredients normally used to make enchiladas... 

In a casserole: prepare a bottom layer of warm tortillas drizzled with oil, cover evenly with a thin later of enchilada sauce (canned, store bought), shredded cheese, bits of grilled chicken (can be store bought), and diced onions (optional)! Top the chicken with another layer of tortillas and sauce. Then repeat steps for as many layers as you'd like! Top off the dish with more yummy cheese and garnishes of your choosing (chives, olives, etc). Add more sauce over the entire dish and bake at high heat for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted!  Once cooked add sliced avocado or cool sour cream to your dish to really bring out the flavors!

3. Homemade Pizza (30 mins of less): fast and easy (but also messy)! I don't mind the mess as long as my kiddos have fun. This is such an easy dinner because of store bought dough! All you do is layout the dough and your ingredients and you're half way done. Think ready made ingredients (turkey pepperoni, pre-sliced mushroom and/or olives, canned pinneaple chucks). Fresh and Easy sells a great ready-made dough and pizza sauce. So rev up the stove, layout your ingredients, create your pizza and bake! This meal can be done in less than 30 mins. and it's chalked full of flavor! 


So there you have it! 
Three delicious and simple meals ready in 30 minutes or less!
Now, you share your favorite QUICK recipes with us by commenting below...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Guest Post: Matching Your Makeup To Suit Your Outfit by Eva Kempinsky

When it comes to makeup colors I am always at a loss. Today we have a fantastic guest post by Eva Kempinsky all about coordinating your makeup colors with what you are wearing. We love makeup tips here at HerMamas! Take it away Eva........


Most people will tell you that matching your makeup to your outfit is a huge fashion faux pas. To be honest, these people are about five years behind everybody else - don't listen to them. Everybody from Hilary Swank to Busy Phillips, Emma Stone and even Michelle Obama has been jumping on the bandwagon, when it comes to this once maligned trend. If the first lady can do it, you certainly can. Don't be scared - get those vibrant lipsticks out and start matching them to your favourite dresses, says Cosmopolitan journalist Dawn Davis. Obviously, if your all time favourite outfit is a slinky LBD (little black dress), this plan isn't going to work all that well. Yet, if your wardrobe tends to be full of colour - this could be the perfect trend for you. Here's a guide to successfully matching your makeup to your outfit. 

Avoid Matching Exact Shades
What you should be aiming for is a match using two colours that are very similar, but not exactly the same. More often than, an exact colour match would end up looking pretty silly. You can't wear a bright red dress and bright red eyeshadow without turning a few heads, that's for sure. Stick within the same colour 'family,' but opt for a shade that has a lot of depth. For example, if you're planning to wear a purple dress - gently sweep the eyelids with a delicate lavender colour. Use a thin eye brush like the ones available from Crown Brush.

Keep It Coordinated
The key to pulling this look off is balance - you've got to get the right balance between enhancing your outfit and completely overshadowing it, says Yahoo journalist Stephanie Haddad. That being said, you can't go for a bold eye shade and then ignore the fact that the rest of your face needs to compliment it. This can be tricky, but it's an easy feat to achieve if you know how. If you're wearing a red, pink or purple eye shade - choose a similar shade for your lip. Don't apply it in full, though. Instead, mix a small amount of the colour with a nude or clear gloss and then apply. This should be just enough colour to make sure that all of your facial features match nicely.

Pick A Bold Feature
If you don't want to end up looking like Coco the clown after a hard day at the office, always avoid wearing a bold lip and a bold eye. Pick a signature feature and limit vibrant colour to that feature - if you want to wear a ruby red shade of lipstick, you can't also wear a smoky eyeshadow. It'll look far too much like overkill. Don't forget that rocking this look is all about balance. In order to pull off dramatic eye makeup, it's necessary to wear a very pale or nude lip colour, says Allure.com expert Kayleigh Donahue.

A Little Bit Of Subtlety
This look actually tends to work best when it's done very subtlety. The very best way to match your makeup to your outfit is to wear an ensemble with several colours and then pick out a signature shade. Try to choose the colour that your outfit uses the least - your makeup will stand out all the more for it. Don't be tempted to go overboard, either. If you're playing with very bold eye shades, a sweep beneath the lids is enough.

EVA is a trainee makeup artist who is currently studying at Manchester University. She recommends Crown Brush for top quality, affordable makeup brushes. She can usually be found attending lectures or practicing her technique on friends and family members.

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Raise Kids that Don't Act Entitled?

This is the millionaire dollar question? And I'll be the first to admit I don't have the answer. I invited my son to run an errand with me this morning and he immediately asked "can I buy a toy or something?" I responded "no" and he snarkily followed up with "I don't want to go then." His tone was one of those that just didn't settle well in my gut.

My husband overheard and immediately sent him to his room to clean. He reprimanded our kiddo telling him "his response wasn't very nice and he needed to pitch in around the house instead of asking for toys." Without exchanging words, my husband's gut reaction somehow matched mine. 

I was bummed after it all went done because I felt we all lost. I didn't get the usually willing shopping buddy (without strings attached), my son ended up begrudgingly cleaning his room and my husband was upset with my son's attitude. I thought about entitlement all day. I thought about my son's behavior and I struggled with the idea that maybe I've already somehow "messed him up." I went on to look at the actual definition...

EntitledAn attitude, demeanor, or air of rudeness, ingraciousness, or combativeness, especially when making excessive demands for service (usually used following the word "acted").

Wow! The the word that immediately jumped out at me here was ingraciousness. I don't expect perfect kids, but I do expect gratitude and kindness. I often feel like a broken-record with three children learning to treat each other lovingly. I excessively remind them to "speak kindly & use their manners." But something doesn't always add up. Even in modeling kindness and reminding them to act in this way our children can fit the above description. And then they DON'T! As I type this, my son is folding his own laundry. At seven he's expected to do his laundry from start to finish, take out the trash, feed his dog, etc. etc. He isn't entitled to mom or dad doing any of this for him simply because he's a youngin. And we often stay away from rewarding these behaviors. He isn't doing anything to receive something in return. He pitches in because it's an expectation and a part of life.

                                  
But what about not wanting to come to the store with his momma unless I'm somehow bartering time for toys? I'm conflicted on entitlement. I don't want to spoil my children but I also don't want to ask too much of them. They're kids, far from being bratty, entailed teens? But how do I know they won't become just that?

Please comment below and share your parenting tips! 
How do you ensure you're not raising entitled kids?


Friday, October 18, 2013

The No Excuses Mom- Inspiring or Insulting?

This week this photo of a Mom and her 3 boys went viral on Facebook......



And of course controversy followed. There seems to be 2 sides on this issue.

There are some who feel that 32 year old, Maria Kang is an inspiration to moms everywhere. Even with 3 young children Maria has managed to stay fit and healthy. And if she can do it, then anyone can do it too! There are women who applaud her for owning her body and prioritizing time for herself in what must be a hectic schedule.

And there are those who think that Maria Kang is insulting women everywhere. They call her a bully and out of touch with reality. Maria has admitted to prioritizing exercise because the women in her family are overweight and she did not want to become overweight. She also admits that she suffered through depression as well as bulimia when she was younger.  Some call her a hypocrite because by posting photos of herself and stating things like "What's your excuse?" she's contributing to the unrealistic image media gives women. This same unrealistic image that must have drove her to bulimia and depression. There have been blog post from people so upset by this photo because some women have different medical conditions that prevent them from ever looking like Maria no matter how hard they exercise or diet.

I have to give Maria Kang some props for standing firmly by her photo and her words. On Facebook she posted an "apology" in which she basically apologized for people who so insecure that they are offended by her photo.

This photo is over a year old so it's strange that it just recently went viral. I wouldn't be surprised if Maria Kang has a book, or exercise video coming out soon.

We want to hear what you think!
Is this photo inspiring or insulting?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eating and Guilt: Destined to be eternal BFFs?

I often post all over social media the delicious things I eat, like mini bundt cakes and supreme pizza, but I don't comment on how guilty I've come to feel after the fact. I'll indulge and then immediately beat myself up about it. And I know plenty of women who relate. Though I've gotten my tendency to overeat under control, I'm still like most gals who lament what they've eaten long after the last bite! To be honest, I use to live in the turmoil of this chronic cycle. I've watched friends go through it and even my husband. We can be so hard on ourselves when it comes to eating all these guilty pleasures...



But enough is enough! I've decided to be better to myself. Firstly, I already know I am going to eat what I want. I do not deprive myself of anything. It's just what works for me. And with that said, I still watch what I eat and make sure to on average eat in moderation and in a way that is most comfortable for my body and weight goals. So yes, sometimes I splurge, but I've let go of feeling guilt over that. It takes too much mental energy to worry about what you're eating (or not eating) and honestly guilt is such a powerless feeling.

I've learned to recognize when I'm beating myself up and choose to instead, let it go! So maybe I'll indulge on the occasional double cheeseburger but the next day I'm on it... back to eating healthfully!  Sometimes the next day turns into next week, but the goal to be healthful overall is always at the forefront.

Here and there lunch consist of bundt cakes (crazy but true), but that same day dinner must consist of a heart healthy alternative (think lots of yummy greens). I throw guilt away and do something PROACTIVE like plan for the next meal to be a healthy one making me feel more empowered than guilty! 

Another guilt zapper is exercise. A great way to release guilt immediately is by going on a long walk. Counter guilt with activity. Better yet, start dancing. I'll get the radio on and start a random dance party with my kids. Before long guilt is forgotten and I'm actually burning some cals. All in all, exercise unlike guilt does your spirit a mountain of GOOD!

I grew up feeling guilty after I ate, and even now at a healthy weight and more in control of my exercise and eating habits, my mind plays horrible guilt-induced trips on me. But that's no way to live and too many people allow themselves to live this way. I say, break up with that mean BFF known as guilt and instead create new habits to react to guilt such as eating healthy following a not-so-healthy meal, exercising and simply forgiving yourself for giving in to one of life's greatest pleasures: delicious food!

Got Guilt? Share with us your feelings around indulging at meal time?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Costumes: What Happened?

Over the weekend we took our kids out to buy Halloween costumes. My 8 year old had been talking about being a certain cartoon character for months. I had plans to make the cape she would need and had the make-up ready to go. Of course the moment she stepped into a halloween shop she changed her mind. The amount of glitter and tule and halloween costume fun was too much for her. So $60.00 later both kids had store-bought costumes.

Now that hit to the wallet was hard enough, having to go to 3 different stores to find the right costume was stressful, but what really irritated me was the fact that a lot of the costumes on the shelves were things that did not exist.

For example:

What the heck is a watermelon fairy?

My girls kept bringing me costumes that I had no idea what they were. Call me old fashioned but people should know who you are dressed up as. No one is going to guess "baterina".  When we were kids we dressed up in the typical witch, angel, bride costumes. Or if we were feeling super sassy we would dress up as a famous pop star. (When my sister was about 5 she dressed up as Cyndi Lauper and it was amazing!), or a cartoon character. And our costumes were always put together with stuff we had at home and anything my Mom could make.

Next year when costume picking time comes around I am setting down a few rules for my kids.....

  1. you have to pick your costume before we head to the costume store. 
  2. you have to be someone the average person will recognize. 
What are the kids in your life dressing up as? 
Do you buy or make costumes? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book review: How Full is your Bucket? (for Kids)


How Full is Your Bucket for Kids written by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer is an exceptional read for early grade schoolers. I truly enjoyed this book because it's a very straight-forward way to understand self-esteem and kindness. My son had his eyes glued to every page as I read it to him.


The concept of a full bucket is so easy for kids to embrace. Basically throughout the day we all live with an imaginary bucket over our heads and all the goodness we encounter fills the bucket with much needed drops while negatively leads to drips!

In this story, we meet Felix, his little sister Ana, his mother and grandpa! Each play a significant role during one day where Felix learns how important a little imaginary bucket can be! Felix especially learns this lesson when it comes to how he treats his own little sister!  This little bucket analogy makes kids more self-aware of their own feelings/needs while also thinking about how they treat others. 
In our home, we're now asking this very simple question "How Full is Your Bucket?" It's been a great way to quickly catch ourselves and think about if our actions towards each other lead to drips or drops? Immediately, we're able to change course and be better to each other. As a busy mom juggling life with three children, I benefit from this concept when thinking about how many drops I'm creating in each of my children's imaginary buckets!

Grab this book & add it to your child's collection! What other self-esteem boosters are you reading with your kids?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Time Date Night Ideas

Call me crazy but I think that Fall is a romantic time of the year as the leaves change and the weather gets cold enough for boots and scarves.  It is a great way to mix-it-up when it comes to date night. Here are four fun and romantic ideas for a autumn date night.

1. Visit to the Pumpkin Patch


Many pumpkin patches are open late which makes is a perfect spot to spend a date night. Crunchy leaves on the ground and a stroll hand in hand through the patch. You can search together for the perfect pumpkin. The cold wind will leave your cheeks nice and rosy and there are a lot of cute photo opportunities, perfect for instagraming your date! If you are parents a couple of dollars will get you a few mini pumpkins to take home to your little ones at home.

2. Apple Picking


Fall is apple season and there are many apple farms that offer apple picking. Apple farms are a great day date idea. You could spend a fall afternoon filling a bag with crisp apples and then relaxing with hot apple cider. Many orchards have a cafe and a gift shop to warm up in.

3. Dessert Date


Fall means the explosion of pumpkin everything. One of my favorites is pumpkin pie! If you can only get away for an hour or so, find a restaurant that serves up pumpkin or apple desserts and pair that with a nice cup of coffee. If you are really in the fall spirit, you can match your pumpkin pie with a pumpkin latte!

4. Football Game


What is Fall without football? Personally I am not a football fan but I always loved high school football games. Head over to your local high school and cheer for the home team. Cuddling on the bleachers and chanting "Defense!" can be really fun. If you are high school sweethearts a trip back to where it all started is the epitome of romantic! And who knows, it may end up in an old-school high school make-out session.

So tell us! 
What are your some of your favorite Fall date night ideas? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

I have a BINGEING problem.... and I like IT!

I've been bingeing like crazy. It's just too easy. And I can't stop. Everything so readily available, at my fingertips for chronic consumption. It's a sign of the times! Thank you, Netflix! You and I have become fast pals. And thanks to you, I am now like thousands of Americans who love BINGE WATCHING hit TV shows! 


Television watching has changed. Actually who said anything about watching shows on a television? I don't watch any of my favorite shows on a TV screen. I watch most shows glued to my cell phone, iPad or computer screen. Netflix has revolutionized "watching television" by allowing folks to stream hit TV shows and more than one episode at once. Entire seasons available at once, with the click or a button creating the newest concept around TV shows... binge watching!

Netflix is on to something and after releasing hit shows like Breaking Bad and The Office by the numbers with complete seasons available at once many folks are able to watch an entire show in one weekend! It's crazy but more and more are aligned to this new way of watching hit shows. It's a thing! In fact, I now watch only shows that have gathered some acclaim and then become readily available on streaming sites. Netflix knows this formula is successfully and so all of their original series are released as complete series/seasons. Mostly all of those shows have been hits i.e. the award winning House of Cards starring one of my favorite actors Kevin Spacey, Orange is the New Black based on a wildly successfully memoir, or how about the much sought after revival of Arrested Development. Three shows that could be watched from start to finish in one fell swoop. 


Amazing how each of those shows became wildly popular overnight because since viewers became literally hooked overnight... watching an entire series in less than 24 hours.  A little scary to think binge watching created this platform then again it's a sign of the times. Why wait? I love that I can watch a hit TV show in this way. Oddly, this saves time. I watch shows when convenient to me. I skip a ton of commercials and don't work around the actual time a show is on television. The viewer gets more control! Because honestly what busy mom has time to sit around during prime time to watch TV?


So to the Netflix revolutionaries, I say thank you! And to the next hit show out there, I'll see you in a few years when you're readily and completely available for internet streaming, all at ONCE! Who knew bingeing could feel so good and end up being not so bad!

Tell us, what do you think about binge watching? 
Are you into this whole new way of "watching television?" 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Teaching Children Their History


As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end I spent some time catching up on the PBS documentary series called "Latino Americans". Latino history and culture are my passion. I am proud of who I am and where I came from. I spent many years (and tens of thousands of dollars) studying Mexican American history and culture, so imagine my complete shock when my 8 year old declared "I'm Mexican????" My kids are one quarter mixed European, one quarter Spaniard and half Mexican American. I speak conversational Spanish, I keep lots of Chicano art in our house and our hallway is filled with framed Frida Kahlo prints. I figured that it would be so obvious to my kids that they were Mexican that I never saw the need to tell them.

Watching this documentary reminded my why ethnic studies is so important to me, and why, in 2013, it is still important to teach to my children about Mexican-American history. I feel that by teaching my kids about the people and the struggles that came before them, they develop a sense of respect for their elders as well as a sense of pride in who they are. In part 5 of this documentary educator Sal Castro reflects on the East LA school walk outs. Every time I hear Mr. Castro talk about the walk-outs I cry. I cry because I am so proud of what these people accomplished. I can't imagine how scary it must have been for these young kids to stand up for the right to a fair education. And I cry because the actions of those brave students allowed me to take classes in high school that led me to a college education. It was easier for me because it was hard for them and they fought back.

This series highlighted the lives of many successful Latinos. By just showing my girls that people who look like them can be congressmen, supreme judges, or even award winning actresses helps to eliminate any doubts they may have. My girls may be mixed, but they still look Mexican American, because in my opinion what a Mexican-American looks like is so broad. I am not trying to raise little activist, who are ethnocentric, instead I am trying to raise people who are aware of the past and proud of who they are and where they come from.

We want to hear you opinion.
Do you think teaching ethnic studies is important? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nature versus Nurture... Who do you think WINS?

Yesterday my grade schooler was telling me all about things that are hereditary. It took him a moment but he finally was able to tell me the word he was thinking about..."hair, air, HEREDITARY!" He was specifically mentioning how certain flowers inherit traits from other flowers. It was such a sweet moment as I watched his mind at work. I mentioned to him that we share the same mole on our left cheeks which meant he surely inherited that physical trait from his momma's genes. 

I later got to thinking about genes and what our children inherit from us parents; bringing me to think about the whole concept of Nature vs. Nurture. I grew up with a temperamental father and I can be pretty temperamental myself, but part of me believes this behavior is learned. Still growing up my mother often rationalized mine and my siblings behaviors by saying "they're just like their father!" It almost gave our temperamental behaviors an excuse.

But I can control my temperament, I believe it isn't something I inherited, I believe it's something I learned. I don't think it is my nature or something that came as part of a gene pool, but rather apart of my upbringing. I watched my father behave a certain way, but by no means did that mean I could be the same way because I was "just like him."

With that said, I wonder just how much of who we are is pre-programmed in our genes or simply just learned behavior? I look at my oldest and often see me... he can be silly, loud, impatient and shy! All things identify with who I am, correction, almost all of those identify with who I am. I chalk up the shyness to his daddy. Still, I don't like the idea of just saying, "oh he's just like that." 
"Money See, Monkey Do!!!"
What's my point? I believe nurture wins in the battle between nature versus nurture! I believe that every child will of course inherit physical and personality traits, but children shouldn't be solely defined by these characteristics and labeled by them. For instance, children who are shy can be outgoing and children who are rambunctious can be calm. I believe we can nurture these opposing behaviors in our children, while still allowing children to be who they naturally are. My point is not to use "nature" as a crutch for not developing helpful personality traits. Like in everything, there's a balance, and we can all be productive and happy individuals who are a product of  both nature and nurture!

Share with us your take on nature vs. nurture?
Who you think would win the battle among both?   

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guest Post by Jesse Emeric: Explaining what the Paleo Diet Really Is.

We have all heard about the paleo diet, but what is it really? Blogger and runner Jesse Emeric knows and follows this diet and kindly agreed to share her knowledge with HerMamas. Take it away Jesse.....




I have been on the Paleo diet for about a year now. Well, it's not really a diet, but more a way of eating clean and healthy. With the Paleo diet you are taking your body back to the way people ate before the agricultural revolution. So, rather than eating processed foods, we are eating fresh, nutrient rich foods. Basically, you eat fish, meat, eggs, nuts, fruits, and vegetables and stay away from dairy, grains, legumes, excess sugars, and vegetable oils. I am by no means a Paleo diet expert, but the health benefits are amazing. Besides the obvious weight loss benefits, many people have benefited from reduced blood pressure, reduced allergies, improved sleep, less bloating, and more.  If you'd like more in depth reading and explanations, check out these websites: The Paleo Diet , Whole 9,  and Robbwolf.com

People ask me why I chose to eat this way and exclude so many foods out of my diet. It's true. The Paleo diet is definitely a major lifestyle change, especially to someone like me who used to be addicted to carbs and cheese! But, that's the exact reason why I did it. I was tired of being overweight and feeling sluggish and tired all the time. I wanted to be a good example to our kids on being healthy and active. I had been working out for a few months, but still couldn't get my eating habits under control. I needed something 
drastic, but healthy at the same time, it's not like I could have cabbage soup forever! Yea, you know what I'm talking about…the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, the master cleanse. Yup, I have tried my fair share of crazy diets, but like all crazy diets, I lost a few pounds and then gained them all right back with a few extras to boot! I needed a lifestyle change and it had to be dramatic enough for me to make a real effort. I'd read a little about Paleo, then a friend gave me some good info on it, so I decided to try it. I liked the idea of eating less processed foods and going gluten free.  I won't lie it was tough, especially eating out. I went through some major withdrawals for the first few days and felt a bit lost.  However, I quickly made my grocery list, stocked up on good clean healthy foods, and just really started being more cognizant of what I was putting into my body. Once I got the hang of it and got my routine going, I really didn't miss bread & pasta as much as I thought I would. The food is really delicious and I'm never hungry. 

Here's a typical Paleo eating day for me: 
For breakfast I'll have a boiled egg or two with a slice of avocado and 2 slices of bacon. Most days for lunch I'll have leftovers from the night before or I'll make a salad with spinach, tomatoes, nuts, cucumber, peppers and add grilled chicken or tuna and use olive oil & balsamic vinegar as a dressing. I'll usually have a snack of either almonds with dried fruit (no sugar added) or I'll make a vegetable juice. Dinner can be a yummy steak fajita bowl with lots of grilled unions, peppers and zucchini with a slice of avocado or a baked sweet potato on the side. There are a ton of Paleo blogs out there with lots of recipe ideas! 

Have I been 100% paleo this entire time? Absolutely not! I am no super woman, that's for sure. When I get cravings for non-Paleo foods I give myself a few days & if I'm still craving it, I'll give myself a cheat meal! I don't feel bad about, my mind is over it and I move on. This way of eating, along with exercise, has definitely helped me in my weight loss journey. It's also helped me be more aware of the foods I serve my family. Although my family does not eat Paleo like I do, we eat lots more gluten-free foods, rarely do the kids eat fast food, we have healthy snacks at home, and we're way more active. We are making positive healthy changes together as a family and ultimately that's the most important thing. 





Jessie Emeric is a wife, mother of 2, photographer, and blogger trying to balance her everyday life and get fit in the process.  She started the It's A Messy Life blog to chronicle her fitness journey, crazy family life, and to motivate other busy moms to reach their own fitness goals. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tips to Reignite reading in your HOME!

Read, read, read! It's what I want all of my children doing daily. In our home reading goes in cycles. Sometimes the kiddos are all about it and other times not so much. In order to reel the kiddies back in I like mixing it up. If reading to them starts to feel old or boring, I make them read to me. I also diversify the book selection. For instance, sometimes we have a themed set of books to revamp our options. Today, there's a lot of Star Wars "literature" taking over our bookshelves, but the best part is that my kiddos are READING IT! 


There are so many great selections to choose from during the holidays so now we're stocking up on Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and Fall selections! I also pick books that come with fun knickknacks maybe that means stickers or in the case of Lego books, Lego toy mini-figures. This becomes a win-win for all, fun activities for the kiddies and new material that momma gets to read with them.


Wondering how to get your hands on books and make it worth your while? Lots of classrooms are part of a scholastic book club online. Visit scholastic.com and purchase books. Doing so will result in classroom points and incentives. Finding your child's school and/or teacher is achieved with a simple drop down menu. Ordering books ends up being easy and beneficial for you and your child's classroom! Plus, the selection is bountiful. 

Next, kids seem to be overwhelmed with electronic entertainment options: video consoles, cell phones, and tablets! Books on these devices are easy to download and pretty cost effective at sites like amazon.com (Kindle application). This is a great way to incorporate reading in a tool kids usually associate to gaming. Tons of great book selections are only a click away and using new devices mixes things up!
Classic Selections for Kids of all Ages!

How do you get kids re-engaged in your home? And how do you make reading fun? 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Current Obsessions...


We fall in love with new things all the time. Here are a few of the things we are currently obsessing over...

Elissa...
  • The League- If anyone else would have told me to watch this show about a fantasy football league I would never have watched it. But when my buddy Crystal recommended this show and told me how hilarious it was I had to give it a shot. Thanks to Netflix I was able to watch all the seasons. And now I'm making my husband watch season 1-4 with me again so we can both start season 5 together. 
  • Turquoise- we have been doing a few painting projects in our home. The latest project is painting over a very ugly mauve wall. After pouring over what felt like millions of paint samples I settled on a gorgeous turquoise. I love it so much and cannot wait to get it on my wall!
  • A Beautiful Mess App- I very rarely pay for apps, but this photo app I could not pass up for $0.99. A super simple, easy to use and fun app that lets you add text, borders and stickers to your photos. Every time I use this app people compliment my pictures and ask me what app I used! You can also share your photos to Instagram with a simple touch.
Irene....
  • Rosie Thomas - I've listened to her music for a decade now. Her soothing melodies and heartfelt lyrics reel me in every few years which is about the time she takes to release a new album. If there's one thing I love most about Rosie's music is how it's always so relatable. She'll sing about love, heartbreak, children, time passing and I often find myself feeling as if I wrote the song myself. Thanks for that Rosie! 
  • H & M kids clothing - I am truly an H & M fan. First for myself, then somehow I stumbled into great finds for the husband and now my three kids (all three departments located next to each other at my mall)! I love clothing runs to H & M with my 7 year old son who always finds the coolest reasonably-prized gear including fun T's and hip shoes (velcro to keep everyone happy)! Plus, they have some of the cutest clothes for little girls. Every time I shop here for kids' b-day parties, I receive a ton of ohhhs and aweees! 
  • Caffé Breve- from Starbucks: I'm a PSL junkie (recovering junkie actually). Yes, I love a good pumpkin spice latte but I don't love all the calories. For that reason, I'm obsessed with this yummy alternative. Slashes the calories significantly and it's just as delicious with a little sugar-free sweetener. 
Tell us, what are you obsessing over these days??? 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Did I Just Eat Sh**?

We've all had some pretty embarrassing moments whether we'd like to admit them or not. As a college student I had my fair share of shame and I proudly divulged those stories. Never did I think I could top some of those crazy moments like when crossing the street and a bright red thong fell out of my laundry basket while two dudes just watched! I did run back for it and bowed my head as I scurried away in shame. That moment is mild compared to others, but embarrassing nonetheless.

Recently I experienced quite possibly the most outrageous embarrassing moment of my life and it wasn't pretty (or should saw tasty?). While having dinner with amazing friends who we were staying with on vacation, my 18 month old was restless. Suddenly, he insisted on being carried. I was up grabbing seconds of a delicious spread... BBQ, baked beans, corn, potatoes and as I sat back down I decided to sit my little man on my lap. After grabbing my kiddo I noticed baked beans on my pinky finger. I go in for a lick and simultaneously think, "wait, I don't have baked beans on my plate?" And that was the moment I so eloquently proclaimed, "did I just eat shit?" Rude, crude and disgusting, I know. But in that instant, I either fessed up or literally swallowed crap! My husband looked on in disbelief. My girlfriend and her husband looked around confused. My gal pal thinking "how did shit get on the food?" I decided to lift my fussy child and find that "baked bean-like concoction" bursting out of his diaper, up his back and all over my chest! 

Quickly, we all sprang into action! Both husbands took over a filthy, poopy baby! My girlfriend runs away to retrieve listerine while I did everything not to swallow. Poop literally lounging on the tip of my tongue. A napkin frantically wiping my tongue while I'm rinsing my mouth and spitting into the sink (TMI, sorry)!  

Truthfully, through the disgusting embarrassment of it all, all we could do was laugh to the point of tears! We couldn't believe it. And honestly, it put so much in perspective. I hear parents complain about gross incidents with their children and I sit there thinking, "it could be worse... you could be eating your kid's crap for dinner!" 
Embarrassed Much?
My mommy stripes have been earned with this one. A result of so much more than the obvious! Moms are in for a ride and sometimes it's quite shitty, literally! But I wouldn't change the story or experiences of motherhood for a moment! 

Share your embarrassing moments too! We know you've gottem'! 
Comment below.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Picking Godparents

My husband and I are both Catholic and are raising both our kids in our faith. Recently my 3rd grader was given the really big decision of choosing godparents for her 1st Communion this spring. During this process we were able to talk with our daughter about what a godparents means to us and what qualities we think are important.

We started by telling her why we chose her baptism godparents.  For us it was much more than just a simple decision. We let her know that we wanted people who were...

  • Catholic (this of course was a church requirement)
  • people who we knew would love her as much as we did.
  • people who would be invested in her faith formation as well as her education. 
  • People who were kind, lovable and easy to talk to so that if she needed to come to them she could. 
  • People who were fun and exciting and have a lot to teach her. 
We left her with these ideas for a few months and it was time for her to make her decision. She had 2 women in mind and was very torn between the 2. She picked 2 women who my husband and I felt met all our requirements and more. She choose 2 people who adore her and want only the best for her. So we went to our church and asked if she could have 2 women by her side when she made her 1st Holy Communion. Our church thought it was a great idea. 

How did you choose your children's godparents?
Are you a godparent? Tell us about your experience. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Finding Brightness Amidst the Dark Clouds of Post-Divorce Life - Guest Post by Howard Iken




It has been said that a divorce is akin to having a death in the family. There is loss, sadness, and grief.  That saying is absolutely true.  Divorce is difficult and for many people represents one of the biggest crises in their life. But there is a silver lining to divorce.  For most people, once they are done, divorce represents the end of one life and the start of an exciting new life.  For every death there is life.  And after a successful divorce there can be lots of really good, very exciting life.



After a divorce, the following checklist will help you establish your new life:

1. Develop purpose in your life – Your life cannot be about surviving, earning money, eating, and sleeping. There must be some purpose; something that drives you. And usually that purpose is already there.  You just have to see it and embrace it as part of your life. That purpose can have something to do with career, money, relationships, hobbies, or education. Whatever it is, you have the potential to make it a big part of your life. No one can have a great life in a complete vacuum. And a divorce has the tendency to leave behind nothing but vacuum. So get busy right now to identify what drives you, and what you want your life to include. This is the “game plan” phase and requires a lot of thinking. Get started now!

2. Go to the gym and get healthy – nothing gets those endorphins flowing like exercise. And it certainly cannot hurt your chances of meeting someone new.  You do not need to become an Olympic weightlifter, model, or mountain climber. Just get moving and improve your health. Improved health not only empowers you to withstand stress – it also clears up your mind. Go to the gym if you can. If you cannot, take a long walk every day. Or just park further from the store every time you to out. Think of your post-divorce self as a project and get to work now.

3. Learn a new skill, hobby, or area of knowledge. What are you waiting for? The divorce is over and you have nothing in your way. Time to do whatever you have put off for half your life. You can remake your entire career at any age. You can become anything you want to be. It is never too late.  Investigate schools, recreation centers, community centers, community college, trade schools, or anything that ever interested you. Now is the time to go in one end and emerge as a different, more impressive, happier person. You are not getting any younger, so do it now.

4. Meet a new significant other. This is not the time to go crazy, get married, or even move in with someone. But it is definitely not the time to be lonely. Not an outgoing type of person? Then join an activities club. Along with the age of the Internet came an awareness that millions of other people are out there looking for activity partners. Get your computer out and start looking now. The sooner you start the sooner you will be having fun.

Above all, try to start moving forward in a positive direction. You are not the first person to have a failed marriage and you will not be the last. One hundred years ago people were expected to go to their graves within bad marriages. Things are different now. After all, you only live once. And now is your chance to make your post divorce world special and brighter. Do it now !

 




Howard Iken is a divorce and custody attorney in Orlando, Florida. He believes in settling cases in an amicable way and then moving on to a positive future.  Mr. Iken can be contacted through his website: http://www.myfloridalaw.com/orlando-divorce-attorney






The views shared by Howard Iken were provided as a guest submission to Hermamas.com. 
These views though insightful are not necessarily shared by the co-creaters and writers of HerMamas.com.