Friday, November 29, 2013

Currently Obsessed


We hope you all had a nice holiday. It is that time of the month where we tell you about some of the things we are currently obsessed with.

Irene: 

Knee-length brown boots: One of my favorite aspects of fall fashion are boots! Sure I've got a few great pairs, but my fav. are a pair of knee-length brown suede boots. They're crazy comfy and chic. Best part... I got these babies for around $6 bucks at a local thrift store (I'm obsessed with thrift shopping all year long)!

Mediterranean cuisine: don't know what it is, but I'm unusually hooked on cuisines in the Mediterranean genre! Suddenly, I'm all about stuffed grape leaves, hummus, pita and anything drenched in garlic atop a delicious serving of lean meats like lamb or grilled tri tip. Mmm, Mmm, good!

Country Music: Maybe it was my recent trip to Nashville, TN. or the way I somehow always end up listening to country on the radio, but I'm hooked on country music. Lindi Ortega's latest album is heavenly! I'm also enjoying typical favs. such as the Dixie Chicks, Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert.

Elissa: 

Amy Poehler's Smart Girls: with all the hype around the Goldieblox commercial and girl power it reminded me that Amy Poehler has had this same mission for a long time. To make girls feel empowered and remind them that being smart and creative is important. With videos and articles about things like science, equality and community service this site is such a great thing that Amy Poehler is doing to help girls become all they can.

Perler Beads:  Never in a million years would I have thought I would end up "crafty", but I am. I am even part of an ornament exchange club and this year I decided to try out perler beads (also known as fuse beads). Patterns for really great a creative designs are easy to find on the internet and beads are relatively inexpensive. Placing little beads on the pegboard is almost zen like and therapeutic. This is a great craft that is fun for the whole family. But be warned, you will find those little beads all over your house!

Christmas Time: It seems like every year I get more and more into the Christmas spirit. I also seem to get into this spirit earlier and earlier. No joke my Christmas cards have already been mailed out. The holiday stations are already playing on Pandora. I KNOW!! But as my kids get older the more and more the holiday season is so much more fun. Their excitement is contagious.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from HerMamas


Happy Thanksgiving! 

We hope that you are enjoying your holiday in the way that makes you happy. Maybe you are cooking in the kitchen, or watching a football game. Whatever you are doing we hope that you are surrounded by family, friends and good food. We would like to take this opportunity to say that we are so very thankful for our readers and our contributors. HerMamas is a labor of love and we really do enjoy writing and producing new content for you every day. We are thankful to have a space to share our ideas and opinions with you. We are thankful for the comments and conversations that have come out of some posts and for the support you have all given us. As we start the holiday season we have some great posts planned and we are excited to share it all with our amazing readers! 

We are also thankful for our friends and families who truly support HerMamas.com! Quite often those we love text, email or share content that would be good for the blog. Such a sweet gesture shows just how much support we have. So thank you to our loyal friends and family. And thank you to everyone who's liked us on Facebook and spread our content throughout their personal social networks. Our constant reach is possible because of YOU! We love bringing you great stuff and what's to come will only get better and better! 

Wishing everyone a joyous and plentiful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Splitting the Holidays


My husband and I are both Southern California kids. Which is great because my kids get to grow up with both sides of their extended families. All their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are within driving distance. This is such a great thing, except when it came to holidays.

Holidays are a big deal on my Mom's sides of the family and on my husbands Dad's side of the family. And after we had kids we ran ourselves ragged trying to spend each holiday with both families. Most holidays went like this...
  • Leave the house at a ridiculous hour to drive 2 hours. 
  • Get to my family's Thanksgiving celebration. Stay for about 2 hours. 
  • Get the kids back in the car and drive another 1.5 hours 
  • Get to my husband's family's Thanksgiving celebration hours after it started
  • Spend about 2 hours there until the kids are cranky and tired.
  • Drive another hour home.
It was always a rush, we never had enough time with either family and the majority of the day was spent in the car. I can even remember one time when we missed a meal all together. We were too early for one and too late for another. 

After a few years of this we decided we just couldn't do it anymore. We understood that all the grandparents wanted to see the kids but it was just too stressful for us. We decided that from that point on we would split the holidays. Now every year we switch off for Thanksgiving. Even years with my husband's family and odd years with mine. This routine has made our holidays a little less stressful. 

How do you handle multiple family holidays?
Leave us a comment below!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Give a Book, Take a Book... Makeshift Libraries!

I've noticed the sweetest thing happening in our neighborhood. Little makeshift "libraries" are springing up everyone. I first noticed this "bird-house/mailbox-looking-thingy" outside of my son's school. I assumed this was a school-related project. Then I saw one plotted in front of someone's home just a short walk from ours. What a cool idea. My husband's reaction was "oh yeah, this is a thing, I've read about it on the internet!" Immediately my heart felt fuller at the idea that so many folks would be aligned to this fun way of sharing in the joy of reading.              

Of course these days so much information is readily available via the internet, but there's something so amazing about actually cracking open a great book. Even bigger than that, I like the idea of "giving and receiving." This idea that we can all bask in the experience  of reading and learning by simply sharing. And finally the idea of not exchanging money for books and knowledge excites me. I often preach to my children that all of the best things in life are free and so here you go... books = free! Everything about your typical library existing outside of libraries and scattered all over the neighborhood only reinforces the idea the we should be reading, learning and sharing, always! 

Visiting these neighborhood "libraries" will become a usual ritual for us. My children are excited to look for books to trade and select books from the options in the box. Sure, my daughter also wanted to walk right up to a stranger's door step because we were at the "library" but I simply had to explain this Little Free Library (as it's known) is different than your traditional library, but still useful. How great would it be if there were multiple Little Free Libraries scattered throughout all neighborhoods. What a great message about sharing, and more importantly, a message that learning doesn't cost a thing and should be a shared experience! 


Would you create and maintain a Little Free Library? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Teaching Gratitude

It's Thanksgiving week! Can you believe that the holidays are here? I won't stress you out by telling you how many days there are until Christmas. Although many are ready to jump ahead to Christmas time, I think that Thanksgiving is an important holiday to spend with your family. This holiday and this week is a great opportunity to reinforce lessons of gratitude. Especially right before the season that is all about getting gifts. Teaching our children that what they have is enough, is an important lesson. It's nice to remind your family about the things and people in their lives that they are thankful for. Here are a few fun and creative ways to teach gratitude.



Thankful Tree: Last year we shared the idea of the thankful tree. This is still a great and makes for a beautiful centerpiece for your family table. Each family member can add a "leaf" with things they are thankful for. You can do this every night up until Thanksgiving, or if you are hosting a big Thanksgiving meal, leave a blank leaf at her place setting so everyone can leave their gratitude. You will start with a bare tree and soon have it filled with color and blessings.





Mason Jar Thankful Time Capsule:  There is a good chance that you will be heading outside to play a little football, while you are out there it would be a great time to start a new tradition. Have each person write on a piece of paper and place it inside a mason jar. Seal it up and bury it somewhere in your backyard. Each year you can dig it up read your blessings from the year before and add new ones each year.



Gratitude Photo Hunt: Kids love to take photos. Children's digital cameras are pretty cheap, and disposable cameras are even cheaper. As a fun game, give your children a camera and have them take photos of things they are thankful for. Anything from people, flowers, pets, and their home. After they are done you can print the pictures and make a photo collage and hang it up. This is a great daily visual reminder of things they are grateful for.

How do you teach gratitude? 
Leave us a comment! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why Our Daugthers Are MORE Than Just Princesses!

Have you seen the ad buzzing around the internet that turns gender roles on its head? This commercial simply nails it. It illustrates why our daughters deserve more than pink tutus, mani/pedis, and tiaras. This is exactly the kind of messaging I hope more and more toy and animation companies come to embrace. The original video which has since been removed from the internet had lyrics such as these:

"It's time to change. We deserve to see a range... We would like to use our brains!
Don't underestimate GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!"

Sure, this isn't to say little girls should no longer play with dolls or wear pink, but it means we have to change the stereotypical story. For too long we've pigeonholed kids into two categories: blue & tough for boys and pink & pretty for girls!  Beyond that simple but almost standard belief something deeper is at play. Somewhere along the way boys are harold as crafty engineers designing trucks and cars with legos while little girls are praised for being pretty princesses playing dressing up with crowns and gowns. Engineer versus princess is a huge disparity if you ask me. Of course this might not be the intention of most parents, but I've played into it plenty and sometimes without even realizing it. 

Every time I'd dress up my daughter and as I was done doing her hair, I'd say "go show daddy!" It was just something I always did. But wait, why did daddy (a man) have to validate her? Why should his usual response of "ohhh and ahhh" over how pretty she looked matter so much? I didn't stop doing this, but I did change the messaging. Having a son 16 months younger made that easy. Now, I also ask my son to run and show daddy when he's ready. Both are equal in this daily ritual and daddy doesn't get to play into either side's "role". He's simply admiring his children as equals. And that moment is no longer about a "daddy admiring his princess." So we try to stay away from image-limiting statements i.e. "so pretty" for her and "so tough" for him. 

Ultimately we praise our children for their hard work. We admire most what they can control (their effort, not looks) and what they can become in spite of male/female stereotypes. They can both work hard, wear pink, be strong, strive to become engineers, wear blue, become scientists or whatever their great big hearts desire. They are capable human beings regardless of gender just like the three kiddos in the above ad! 

What's your take on this ad? 
Do you think there's a need to change the messaging in gender roles?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rainy Day Schedule

I am not sure what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but over here we finally got some rain. I love this kind of weather, where it is cold enough to wear a big bulky sweater and you can hear the rain fall on the windows. I remember back in elementary school, when the weather turned we would find written on the board really big....



Rainy days are a great way to change up your everyday routine. Here are some fun things you can do on a rainy day:


  • Embrace the gloomy. Turn out the light, fire up some candles or your fireplace. Grab a blanket and use the time to listen to your favorite album. 
  • Read! This is a great time to grab that book that has been sitting on your bedside table and get it started. You could make it a family affair and read a book together. Take turns reading a few pages of a family friendly book. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, tea or coffee too!
  • Bake. Try out a new cookie or bread recipe. The oven will help keep your home toasty and the smell of baked goods is always nice. 
  • Build a fort, fill it with pillows and blankets. Kids will love having a little hide-away for the day. Heck, adults would like this too. 
  • Bust out the arts and crafts bucket. A rainy day is a great time to make something out of all those toilet paper rolls you have been saving. 
What is your favorite thing to do on a gloomy rainy day? 
Leave us a comment! We love comments!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cooling Down During Parental Frustrations


I walked out of my bedroom recently to find the above debacle. Kids got into the pantry, again. I can't catch a break with messes. What parent can? 

My initial reaction was to yell, "oh no, oh no, you've got to be kidding me!" As I raised my voice, the kids proceeded to frantically shove pretzel after pretzel into their mouths. I felt my blood about to boil over when I opted to reach for my camera phone and video record this craziness. 

I'm one of those moms that documents everything. And I've come to realize it is now a technique used to cool me down. Otherwise, I just might engage in useless screaming fits, or worse, act out in anger and show my kids a very ugly temper. I want my children to learn that they can control their emotions, so I must first control mine.

Here are a few other useful techniques to cool your temperament down:

1. Breathe Deeply. Seems obvious but most parents don't take the few seconds to breathe before reacting in anger.
2. Count to Ten 
3. Ask yourself: "what would love do?" This is a great one that allows you to express your reactionary points with kindness (though still being firm).
4. Laugh. This ones tough because it might lead kids to believe you're okay with whatever mischief they've gotten into, but if you really feel overwhelmed and you may reach out in anger, crazy laughter isn't a bad alternative.
5. Walk Away (if children remain safe) and gather your thoughts before you even speak. My co-editor said she walks away and let's her hubby deal with it! That's a good one! I've been known to sneak off, but my hubby is usually the carefree one so if I'm not cautious he might just roll around in the mess with them!

Honestly, I realize firsthand the above reactions can be challenging, but just imagine how guilt-free you'll feel if you were intentional in your responses to parental frustration. Today, my toddlers might be caught coloring on walls or mid-macaroni-and-cheese-food-fight (true story!) and I exercise keeping my cool. Because tomorrow this approach may come in handy when reacting to more serious teenage issues. In fact, my teenage children might actually freely share personal issues if they know mom will not react like a raging lunatic! Mom can handle her emotions like they've learned to handle theirs. And that scenario is a parent's dream come true.

How do you calm yourself when reacting to frustrations, parental or otherwise? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Shoe Lover's Epiphany- Guest Post by Lorena Roman

We are very excited to have Lorena Roman as a guest blogger today. She runs **** a fantastic food blog, but today she is sharing a post on a topic that many people can relate to. The idea of "losing yourself" after you have children is a real fear and Lorena struggled through it like most parents do. 

A Shoe Lover's Epiphany

Shoe shopping is one of my life’s pleasures. I love shoes with an unnatural attachment that I developed sometime in my late teenage years, early in college. I think it began when I realized that the freshman 15 didn’t matter in a shoe store.  Since then my love affair with shoes has been a constant in my life and we have spent many happy years together.

As an only child in a tiny family of three I didn't have much exposure to children growing up, much less pregnant people, nor had I ever been one of those girls who played "mommy" and feed imaginary bottles to plastic dolls. I preferred Legos and Hot Wheels growing up. Up until I became pregnant, I honestly didn't think I had a single maternal instinct in my body and I liked it that way. So when I realized that I was pregnant three years ago one of my first thoughts was how would that impact my shoes. It may sound strange, but the fact that pregnant woman can’t (or maybe shouldn't, I’m still not sure) wear high heels was about the only fact I could recall.

My first worry was that I would somehow, unwittingly go from these:


To some ugly orthopedic contraptions I considered “mom” shoes.  

In my head motherhood was associated with ugly shoes (“but they’re so comfortable for running around!” they cry) high-waisted mom jeans and spit-up ratty t-shirts. A total fashion nightmare.
(I apologize now to all the fabulous, fashionable mommies that are out there, believe me I am now aware of you all and I am in awe.)

In reality, my worry over shoes was just the superficial manifestation of a more deep-rooted fear of losing my identity to motherhood. To me the pregnancy meant life as I knew it would be over and although that may have been true it didn't occur to me that the change could be a positive one. I was sure that somehow, between 2 am feedings and piles of dirty diapers I would forget myself. It went far beyond a simple change in wardrobe. I felt like my dreams and aspirations, life goals and plans, everything that defined me would be obliterated by the realities and pressures of parenting. 

I feared that in order to become Mom I would have to stop being Lorena.

At first, that’s exactly how it happened. I did lose sight of myself a little bit as I tried to learn how to be a mom and dealt with the very sharp learning curve of caring for a newborn. Especially one with severe medical conditions, but I’ll get into that some other day. For a while I was lost and no one, not I, not my baby and not those around me were happy. It took some time, and some very patient friends and family, for me to realize that suppressing who I am is not a requirement of being a good mom. As a matter of fact, it directly impedes that. Our children want to get to know us, who we really are, not some fake persona we put on to play a role that we don’t actually want.

In the last couple of years I have begun to merge the two sides of my being, that of mommy and that of being Lorena. I now know that one does not have to exclude the other, but rather combine to make me a whole person. I encourage my daughter to show me her personality by showing her mine. We share jokes and stories now, we laugh at the same things and we exclaim over the same sparkly shoes. But my little two-year-old is also starting to show me what her tastes are, what she likes. It is a revelation to me to see her becoming her own person and I am acutely aware that if she has the courage to be herself it’s because I have shown her the same.  

I am a good mom because I am Lorena, not in spite of the fact. And although it’s true, I may not have occasion to wear those 5 inch stilettos as often as I used to, I still get to have date night with my hubby and sometimes girl’s night with my friends. And in between? Yes, I wear comfortable shoes, apt for running around, but they are still me and they are perfect.  



~Lorena Roman is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, FL where she finished her degree with honors. She worked in restaurants for a few years before deciding that a line cook's life was fun but not conducive to raising a family. Today she lives in Orlando, FL where she gets to do just that along with her husband Joseph. In between naptimes she spends her days cooking, crafting, and blogging.  You can read more from Lorena on her blog Caldos Como El Agua.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Being UNfriended On Facebook

I've never cared about being unfollowed or unfriended. But recently an honest to goodness friend unfriended me on Facebook. If a close friend closes that door that makes a huge statement. And I get the message loud and clear.  The last she said to me was "I'll get over it!" And I believe she will. Hopefully!

I had written all the details on this post  as to how and why, but out of respect to this person's privacy, I've erased those. Truth is, there's two sides to every spat so being one-sided here just didn't feel fair. Yet I continue to contemplate friendship and all that comes with making and keeping friends.

A few days ago I spent the afternoon with a gal I've known since high school for 15 plus years. She and I were clearly out of touch, never really too close; but when her brother passed recently, I was drawn to supporting her. I can't do or say anything. But I can wholeheartedly listen. I can show up. The loss of life does something very different to relationships than what being unfriended on Facebook does

Real life is so much sweeter than the virtual world. This coming from the lover of all things social media! So for now, I'll focus on the relationships that come easy (as in natural) and the relationships that fulfill while remaining virtually unfriended by someone I consider one of my BFFs (Best Friend FOREVER)! That's right... forever! And a little Facebook unfriending isn't getting in the way of that!

Do you believe in best friends? 
Are friendships meant to be complicated? 
Share your insight below...


Friday, November 15, 2013

Spread Too Thin


I have this problem. I just can't seem to pass up a volunteer sheet. Which usually would not be an issue. It's good to be helpful and give your time. The problem is my plate? Yea that thing is so full that any second it now will likely break in half and everything will end up as a big mess on the floor.

I have always enjoyed being busy and pride myself on being able to juggle lots of different tasks and responsibilities. But I have finally reached a point where even I can't manage anymore. I have a full-time job, 2 kids, one who I home-school, commitments to weekly catechism classes as well as monthly parent meetings, I run 2 blogs, on top of the usual responsibilities of running a family. (Of course I have help with one blog and the household responsibilities.)

It is a lot of work and recently I was approached to take on one more thing and for the first time ever, I hesitated. I didn't jump at the chance and say yes. I stopped myself and took a real look at what was already on my plate and realized that the position they were asking of me was too much. I was spread too thin.

I am very thankful that I was able to realize this fact before taking on too much. There are certain priorities in my life and I would not want to jeopardize things like my family's well-being or my children's education because I have taken on too much.

Do you know your limits?
How do you handle things when you are spread too thin? 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged


I know a guy who bought this book for a second date. Yup, he was that serious about getting into a good relationship that he cut right to the chase. That guy is now happily married to the woman from that date and they have two children. I don't believe cutting to the chase is for everyone, but asking essential questions should be! 

My first two years of marriage were a crap storm. Now that's crass, but I can't think of another way to put it. As newlyweds we did three of the most stressful things, simultaneously. We had a baby, bought a home and changed careers. Three of the most stressful life scenarios were happening all at once during year one of marriage. What were we thinking? We weren't thinking. And we didn't ask the questions we should have beforehand.

We were engaged and married in less than a month. Sure, we successfully dated for three or so years, but those honeymooning years aren't always insightful or efficient. In fact, like us, most couples are blinded by love and don't see things clearly in the falling in love stage. No fault of anyones really. That's just love! We don't see faults or complications and I'm sure we all vow we'll be different.

But couples are more alike than different and compitability can be carefully crafted beyond the honeymoon stage and once the perfectness of coupledom fades. How? Ask the questions. This book outlines 101 good ones. 

But even if you just cover basics you should be set:

- Money: Debits? Savings? Goals?
- Sex: Expectations? Unmet Needs? 
- Kids: Yea or Nay, How Many? What If You Can't Concieve?
- Career: Demanding? Fulfilling? Stable?

There really should be NO wrong answers when discussing the basics. It's all about getting to know each other on a level that is straightforward while addressing key areas of adult life. So talking personal finances isn't very sexy, but not going over these important matters can complicate life later. 

For instance, my husband and I changed careers year one of our marriage. This proved to be a huge challenge financially and our stability went out the window. I supported my husband through it, but I also fought him and complained often! I wasn't always happy with the sudden changes and that strain was so hard on our marriage. It's something I believe would have been different if we would have addressed our career goals and needs prior to just winging it. 

Are you thinking of getting engaged? Or moving in with someone? 
These are great questions to ask before taking the plunge!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Greenwashing


Have you noticed how many products now offer you a "natural" option? Many companies have figured out that people are willing to spend a little more on an "environmentally friendly",  "natural" or "organic" option of a product. Of course there is nothing wrong with consumers wanting these options. People want products that are free from toxins and chemicals and that are not harmful to our environment. What IS wrong is when a company merely "greenwashes" their packaging or promotion without really making any changes to make their product more"green".

When we see a product option with these words and coloring....


... we assume that these products really are pure and natural when in reality they are not much different than the regular, less expensive option. The Tyson company recently got into some trouble when they used the terms "wholesome", "premium quality" and "all natural" on their packaging, when in reality their chicken can from factory farms and were feed GMO corn. That doesn't sound very "all natural" to me. 

Offering natural and environmentally products is good for business, but as consumers we need to really look into what are in the "green" products we buy.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How College Changed ME!

UC Santa Barbara
Just over 10 years ago I completed my college education at the most beautiful university. I was meant to be a Gaucho. In some strange way, when I first visited I felt I could call this college community my home. And my home it became. I don't remember too many professors. I can't recount the core courses I took or countless books I read. But there's so much during those *5 years that make me, ME! (*Graduated in four years, but took year five to travel abroad and fall in love with my eventual husband; that alone sure changes a GAL)!

Recently a mutual acquaintance told my friend she knew me in college and almost seemed apprehensive to define who she considered me to be. With some hesitation she explained "she was a... a... party girl!" HA! My girlfriend said, "that sounds right!" I was very much a party girl and I am proud of that. I also had excellent grades! Dancing on the speaker box doesn't mean I was any less serious about academics. I was just doing what I somewhat still do today... balance hard work with FUN! That take on life makes me a happy career woman. I'm sure my professional colleagues would call me both good at what I do and also a little wild. Plus, my chosen career path is one that allows for a little fun mixed with a lot of hard work. I'm also a pretty fun-loving mom who can get "chocolate wasted" with the best of them.

As a strolled my college campus this weekend for a 10 year reunion get-together with friends (the best a girl could have), I randomly ran into my favorite college professor. That seems like a coincidence, but I believe it was fate. The chance encounter reminded me of the college courses that shook me to the core. Those that empowered and those that changed my mind about the world. They opened my mind and heart. I was transformed. Those courses and that professor are part of my life's mission to stand up for moral and human rights that I believe in today. My conviction and compassionate for this part of my adult life came to fruition in those formative college years. It is why I work in education. It is why I became an advocate for disadvantaged youth.  

In college I became the president of my sorority. So the party girl wasn't only worried about parties and good grades, she also always wanted to be a leader. In my year as president I discovered a gift of mine. I love public speaking. I enjoy leadership roles. I was meant to lead then and I continue to lead now in my profession and even as a mother. I account those years of active involvement in social clubs for developing this essential characteristic of mine and for creating a more confident and well-rounded adult.

Finally, I always talk about how college is so much more than buying books and picking majors. I could care less if my children decide to be biochem or art majors. I just want them to transform in their experience as I did. I want them to experience the wild all-nighters, the dorm madness, create profound and lasting friendships, and have the kind of classes and professors that speak to them for a lifetime. College changes you and it so often isn't about the studies but about the lessons... life lessons!

UCSB Library 
What life journey changed you? Was it college, motherhood or marriage?

Share you story and comment below...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ricky Martin's New Venture

When you hear the name Ricky Martin what comes to mind? 




Most likely words like "hot", "sexy", "latin" and "vida loca" enter your mind. But Ricky Martin hopes that soon you will add "parent" and "blogger" to that list. You may know that Mr. Martin is the proud Poppa to twin boys. Like all of us he has stumbled and realized that as parents we have so much to learn from each other. His priority has changed from shaking his Bon-Bon to raising fulfilled and happy children. With all that in mind, Ricky Martin recently launched his site Picollouniverse.com. A place that "celebrates parenting, the most important job on Earth




The main topics listed on the site range from love to grow to play and much more. Although the site is pretty brand-new they have already covered a wide range of topics. And the entire site can be translated to Spanish or Portuguese with a simple click. The site will be a place for moms and dad contributors to write including Ricky himself. I love the idea of a place where there is a male perspective on parenting and I hope they add more male contributors to the site.

Parenting is a tough job and resources like Piccolo Universe and HerMamas are here to be a resource and community for people all over the world.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving ALL Month Long!

My hubby always talks about how Thanksgiving is his absolute favorite holiday. Needless to say he's excellent at wiping out a buffet-style serving of food. But my husband isn't just in it for the turkey leg. He's all about the principle of this holiday and sharing in our gratitude for all of life's blessings. And I agree, but the bummer is that Thanksgiving, like all holidays, comes and goes to fast every year. It's really gone too soon. With that said, I've decided families should extend thanksgiving and here's how...


Firstly, in preparation for saying grace before enjoying the actual Thanksgiving feast it's a great idea for families to milk the 20 odd days beforehand to also show gratitude. One way to do this is by going around the dinner table every evening in November and sharing what everyone's grateful for on that day. It's really such a sweet way to spend the month. In fact, what's even sweeter is writing these down and displaying them on a decorated clothesline the entire month of November!




Next, why should all the fun of eating be spent on one day? Every weekend in November before the big day is a great time to test run new Thanksgiving recipes. I am a huge lover of all things mashed potatoes and stuffing, so I'm usually crazy eager to try out new recipes. Cooking weekends before can be bonding for the entire family. Also, the pressure's off the first time you're trying that amazing Pinterest recipe that you may or may not nail! So get to cooking all month long and enjoy.

Finally, Thanksgiving is such a great time to give back! And giving back could also happen all month long. Teaching charity to your children during the month could be such fun. Imagine pulling your little red wagon around town for an impromptu can drive or setting up a lemonade stand and then donating proceeds to a great charity! Picture the look on your kiddos face when you head over to the children's hospital to drop off those proceeds?!? This really is such a great season for giving. So if you can volunteer with kids, do that too, and spending the month feeling like a rock star because of it!

All of the above is sure to leave your kiddos (and you) feeling grateful and filled with memories of a Thanksgiving holiday that lasted well beyond one day. 


Comment below and share your Thanksgiving rituals with us. 
What would you do all month long 
to celebrate this occasion of togetherness, gratitude and great food.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Touching the Baby Bump a Crime?

Chances are you have been guilty of this. I have done it, to friends, family and even strangers. And if you have ever been pregnant that it has most likely happened to you. People love to touch a pregnant belly. I know for me, the further along I got, the more often people wanted to touch. Most people asked permission, others just went for it without as much as a hello. To me it was just a little awkward, but I understood that people sometimes just need to touch the baby bump.

Other people are not so happy about it, so much so that in Pennsylvania a man faces possible harassment charges after touching a pregnant woman's belly. This man did not know the woman and this women did not give this man permission to touch her.


Should touching a pregnant woman's belly without permission be a crime? Or is this kind of extreme? I can remember being pregnant and most times I was fine with people touching the baby belly, but a few times, thanks to hormones and stress, I was not having it. I remember one time a stranger came up to me and touched my belly and I said nicely but firmly, "Please don't touch me, I do not know you". You better believe she moved her hand super quick and chances are she never reached for a stranger's belly again.

We want your opinion!
What do you think about baby bump touching? 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Caldo de Pollo (Chicken Stew) Recipe for Fall


Caldo De Pollo

It's definitely fall now that temperatures are cooler and scarfs are back in style! If there's one thing I love about fall (and winter) it's all the yummy comfort food made for these seasons. 
Growing up my mother made the best stews: shrimp, beef and of course chicken (caldo de pollo). Check out this delicious chicken stew recipe and feast on a meal the ENTIRE family will love. Just ask my 2 and 3 years olds!


HOW TO:

Boil 4-5 quartz of water
Add to water:
Large chucks of medium white onion
Large chucks of medium tomato
Diced garlic (2-5)
Chicken stock cubes (2-3)
Salt and pepper
Chicken legs or quarters (5-8)

Squeeze in 2-5 lemons (acidity up to you)
Cilantro (1/8 of a standard bunch, no stem)

Boil above ingredients for about 25 mins (high heat).

After 25 mins add:
Large diced potato pieces

After 10 mins add:
Slices of zucchini
Slices of carrots
Corn on cob (small)

Cook everything together about 15 mins. check that carrots and zucchini are fully cooked.

Optional:
Once served, garnish soup with diced avocado, diced onion, diced fresh jalepeƱo and/or lime.

 Enjoy!



Kids' Portions...  Healthy and Delicious!
What is your favorite fall/winter comfort food?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guest Post: Change Up Your Makeup Routine for the Winter Months by GwenLewis

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Change Up Your Makeup Routine for the Winter Months

Your bathing suits, skirts, and flip flops may all be packed away until next summer, but there are some things you used all summer which should remain out in the winter: your makeup. Makeup can help you keep that glowing vibrancy of summer alive all winter long! A wonderful glow isn’t something that should only be reserved for summer - make it last all year long.

Still, do you want to give yourself a little bit of a more winter-appropriate look? By following these
tips, you’ll have a ravishingly radiant look from the first frost until the first thaw.

Keep Bronzing



Image courtesy of ShutterStock

You don’t want to have an “I just spent the day on the beach” look in the winter months, but you do want to maintain a little bit of a tan glow. Apply just the smallest amount of bronzer to your face in order to give yourself the perfect hint of color. This will keep you from looking drab and will help you pop out against all of that wintery white.

Icy Colors

Now is the perfect time to pull out those icy colors. Light blues, pinks, purples, and whites that contain a little hint of sheen beg to be worn during the winter months. They help to create a winter queen look that will surely catch the attention of everyone who passes you by.

Red Lips













Image courtesy of ShutterStock

If you love red lipstick, the winter is the time to sport it. However, red lips can be very hard to pull off. When choosing a red lip color, make sure you keep your skin tone in mind. If you have fair skin, coral-based reds are your best bet, as they will warm you up and won’t wash you out. If your skin is medium, you have the luxury of being able to wear true red tones and cranberry-based shades, as these reds play well with the golden background of your skin. Dark burgundies and warmer shades of red are the best pick if you have a darker skin tone, as they will stand out against your coloring.

Au Natural

While a common assumption is that a natural look is only suitable for the summer months, this simply isn’t the case. Natural works for any time of the year, and in order to pull it off for winter, simply mix up your color choices a bit.

Try using a blush that gives you a little bit of a rosier complexion, and opt for a light charcoal liner and mascara, rather than the brown that you used during the summer. Also, consider adding just a hint of shimmer to your natural-colored eye shadow, to give your eyes that extra little pop they need to look brighter in the wintertime.

With these simple adjustments, you can update your beauty routine for the winter months and look ravishing all season long.



Gwen Lewis is a freelance writer in Southern California. She loves adapting her makeup routine depending on the season and often uses these tips for herself. As a health and beauty writer, she contributes to the Skintrium blog

Monday, November 4, 2013

How to Measure that You're Succeeding as a Parent?

All parents can agree on one thing. No matter how amazing we thought we'd be as parents, before having them, once we do, we're usually living in doubt. There's no physical measure in this world to tell us we're doing a bang up job as parents. We sit and compare ourselves to others, society's depiction of perfect families and possibly the family we grew up in. There are so many factors to consider and none of those guarantee we're winning in the role of parent.

If "normal" moms are anything like me then they must spend their day nagging their children, cleaning up after them, correcting "negative" behaviors, mediating siblings spats, and running from one parental commitment to another. We become so consumed with the day-to-day management of life we may begin to lose sight of the bigger picture. Being lost in the everyday details also doesn't mean we've solidified excellence in parenting.

Then out of the blue life hands you a moment of much needed reassurance. Life treats you to the bliss of feeling like you're winning at this parenting thing. Suddenly, you're overwhelmed with the idea that somehow you've figured parenthood out and those feelings alone become a measurement for success in parenting.

For me, I got that much needed sensation of success when I watched my son cry at the thought of losing his siblings. My seven year old is like most. He can't sit still, he often avoids his chores and fights constantly with his little sister. But he's also the same caring little boy that today held on to his sister so lovingly.

While out to lunch we were playing a silly "would you rather game?" Two questions in my husband asks my son, "would you rather live without your electronics or without your brother and sister?"  Our son sat puzzled and processing. Suddenly, his eyes filled with tears and his face became devastatingly sad. His dad asked gently, "you don't like thinking about not having a brother or sister?" He nodded in agreement and cried more deeply. My husband asked my daughter to hug her big brother and they held on tight for several minutes...  

       
        
We felt sad for our son. But honestly, we also felt like WINNERS! We're not perfect parents. We often experience parental doubt, but then we witness a love and bond so strong among our little ones that it could move a SEVEN year old to tears. In this moment, and others like it, we are reassured by life. In a job as challenging as parenting, we get these emotionally measurable moments to feel confident in our abilities. We are reminded that somehow we are doing an amazing job in spite or the doubts and lack of a MUCH needed instructions manual. We are teaching love through example, through consistency and through simply having faith that we'll succeed as parents, because honestly, succeeding as parents WE MUST!

Share your parenting WINS with us? 
How do you know you're winning at this thing called parenthood? 





Friday, November 1, 2013

Currently Obsessed....


Hard to believe that it is already time for another edition of Currently Obsessed! Here we go...

Irene:
  • Amazon Prime: I purchased Prime by mistake. Darn free trial expired before I canceled it, lol! On the plus side, I'm now addicted to browsing Prime for great deals and guaranteed free two-day shipping (on most items). It's $79 bucks or so a year and there's plenty to purchase on Amazon to enjoy the perks of Prime (if not, then there's a decent selection of free TV/movie screening to fall back on)!
  • Cookie Butter: If this isn't already in your diet, do yourself a favor, & buy TJ's Cookie Butter today! If you haven't tried it, you're really missing out! My entire family is now addicted to this "better form of peanut butter." Honestly, don't know if that description even fits! Regardless, Cookie Butter is crazy good! Try melting it on hot waffles or top yummy ice cream with a dollop. There's just too many good options for this addiction.
  • Sons of Anarchy: I'm almost embarrassed to admit I'm hooked. So many were raving about this show that I finally started watching (thanks Prime instant TV, see addiction above). The show's got one handsome leading man, a pretty dramatic ensemble and as the seasons pass the violence appears to heighten. But it's just one of those shows that you can't bring yourself to turn away from!
Elissa: 
  • Roku: Watching TV is completely different these days. There are so many different ways to stream TV and movies. In our house we don't have a "smart" TV with internet capabilities so we were stuck streaming on our phones and tablets, until the Roku came into our lives. This little box is simply connected to our TV through one HDMI cable, connected to our WiFi and we had all our TV and movie options on our big screen! Great picture quality, easy to use and with prices starting at $50.00 it is super affordable. 
  • BitStrips: If you are on Facebook than you have seen these new comic strips from BitStrips all over the site. A fun way to bring your Facebook status to comic life or just another fade that will waste hours of your day. Either way they are really fun!
  • Uggs: If I could I would wear flip-flops all year-round. I hate shoes. But now that the  weather is getting too cold to walk around barefoot it's time to bust out the Uggs. Yes these shoes maybe over trendy but you have to admit they are comfortable and so cozy.