Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It Sucks to be the Mom & Dad in a Disney Film


Now that we are parents, my husband and I are getting to watch a lot of Disney movies with our kids and we noticed something. Maybe its because we are seeing the films as parents, but we noticed an alarming trend in Disney flicks. Awful things always happen to the parents. Don't believe me? Here are a few examples...

  • Cinderella: First her Mom died and she ends up with a wicked step-mom and sisters. THEN her only surviving parent, her father, dies in the beginning of the film. 
  • Dumbo: Ugh my heart breaks for Dumbo's Momma. She has her baby taken from her. Us Mom's cannot watch the "Baby Mine" scene without tissues nearby.
  • Bambi: poor little baby Bambi is orphaned when a hunter shoots and kills his Mom. 
  • Lion King: Mufasa is brutally killed by a stampede constructed by his own brother. It's so Shakespeare and so sad. Poor baby Simba. 
  • Sleeping Beauty: Now her parents are together and don't die BUT thanks to a wicked evil spell they are forced to give up their baby girl for many years.  
  • Finding Nemo: The first few minutes of this movie is the violent death of Nemo's Mom and all his siblings. Brutal Disney, very brutal. 
  • Princess and the Frog: after being sent off to war Tiana's father and his dream of opening his own restaurant die. He will never get to see what a success Tiana's makes of her life. 
  • Tangled: Very much like the parents in Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel's mom and dad are robbed of their baby girl by an evil woman. They should get together and start a support group. They could ask Hercules parents to join too.
  • Brave: As if dealing with a crazy husband, rambunctious triplets and an angry teenaged daughter isn't enough,  poor Queen Elinor is fed a cake that turns her into a bear! Then she is attacked by her own people and by another crazy angry bear! Eventually she gets turned back but is was touch and go at the end there. 
  • Frozen: King Dad and Queen Mom are in about the first 15 minutes of the flick. They head out for a 2 week trip and all we see is a crazy storm on the sea. We see the ship tossing and turning and they the ship is gone, along with Mom and Dad.  
I could go on. I didn't even mention the films that showcased a single father ( Little Mermaid / Beauty and the Beast / Aladdin). 

What things from your childhood do you see differently now that you are an adult?
Leave us a comment! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Amusement Park Boycott

Spent the day after Christmas at Knott's Berry Farm. Totally impromptu trip! On Christmas day, I overheard my sister making plans to attend with her girls. For as long as I can remember, my sister has always had an annual window where she gets a county worker discount at Knott's. It began with four free tickets. Then two free tickets plus 7 bucks per add on guest. Today, the add on guests (up to 6) are 27 bucks. Still, a great deal! 

So there we went and totally bandwagoned my sister's annual deal. She and my nieces didn't seem to mind. Got to the gate to discover general admission is now $62 at Knott's! What in the world? Disneyland is over $90 now. 

How can this be? Should theme parks really be allowed to expect the average family to spend 1000's for a day at a theme park? Yes, they can and do expect just that.

I went with a budget of $40 to spend inside the park for my 7 year old and I, after all, I took water and a few snacks with me. What a joke! After funnel cake, carnival style games, coffee, souvenirs, and even a FOUR dollar bag of chips my son and I spent plenty more than 40 bucks. 

Truth is, theme parks are outrageously priced. Yet, we love the experience and the joy on our children's faces. Still, I wonder just how many families are missing out simply because they cannot afford the cost. This is just out of most inner city families' reach. 

All families should unite and boycott theme parks. I'd be the first to campaign and take part. It's just crazy to think how expensive these excursions have become and how deserving children/families are missing out due to the high cost.

Comment and tell us, if such a boycott existed would you support the cause?

Also, don't forget to check out our precious post where we shared some money saving tips for visiting Disneyland on a Budget.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Currently Obsessed



It's the end of the month already! Time again for what we are currently obsessing over!

Elissa's

Spin Pins: I have super crazy thick hair. Trying to put my hair in a cute stylish bun was impossible without about 40 bobby pins. And then I discovered spin pins! With just 3 of these I can put my hair up in a tight and secure bun. Instead of being pushed into the hair, these spin pins are screwed in. They also come in different colors and sizes for thick hair or thin hair. 

Smoothies: I got a blender for Christmas! This is the first one I've had in over 10 years! Besides the obvious things like margaritas and daiquiris, I am looking forward to making healthy and yummy smoothies. Lately I have been obsessed with finding smoothie recipes. I am especially looking for smoothies that taste sweet but have veggies in them! 

Ice Skating: I am not the type to try new sports, or really sports at all. My oldest daughter has been wanting to try ice skating and when a friend's son decided he wanted to spend his big birthday on the ice, I took a deep breathe and went out of my comfort zone and strapped some ice skates on. I had such a blast! It was a great reminder to try new things, even if it seems scary. I can't wait to go ice skating again! 

Irene's

Christmas Desserts: I've had an over active sweet-tooth this time of year. In fact, I've probably gained five lbs. this month from all the pastries, cookies, cakes and overall holiday desserts in my life! From mini cheesecakes to peppermint crunch bundt cakes I'm officially obsessed with all things dessert. This time of year just makes it so easy to indulge. It's been a sweet, sweet ride - while it lasted!

Date Night: I'm so proud of this obsession. My husband and I implemented a strict once a week date night some months ago and we've stuck to it. We're having so much fun alternating dates to plan and excute for each other. Plus, we're feeling so much closer. I love date night. Our home also honors a rotating date night for parent & child, so the whole family has been obsessed with one-on-one quality time, on a weekly basis.

John Mayer: I've loved him since he made bodies a wonderland circa 2001, but as of late, I'm digging John Mayer's new country boy style. I also like his new song where he features his real-life G.F. Katy Perry! Mr. Mayer has the best voice. I am obsessed with him and can't stop playing a medley of his albums!

What are your current obsessions?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Buyer's Remorse

Holiday shopping is done. Gifts are opened. Guests are gone and dinner is a wrap! What may still linger though is that sucker known as "buyer's remorse." Yup, all this holiday spending might leave folks feeling just a little guilty in the aftermath.

Here are some tips to help ease the remorse:

1. Return gifts you're on the fence about. Not every gift is what you expect. You might have that fashionable third cousin who bought you the loudest shirt in town - that doesn't mean you keep it. Don't leave presents to gather dust just because. Even if you can't replenish cash from returning the item you might score an even exchange. Look to nab something essential to balance out your spending. You get a useful item as an exchange now and don't spend your own money down the road!

2. Don't let the novelty wear off. Being over something new in a short time only adds to the remorse. For me, it's like the espresso machine I really wanted one year. I now never use it. Actually, I hardly ever did. I'd make the hubby whip up lattes after all he gifted it to me. But I just never could stay away from the ritual of actually heading out to the coffee shop. That's my first mistake. I asked for something I really didn't want or need. So now it's time to get more bang for my buck and not spend on coffee outside the home and actually use my espresso maker. This is especially true with kids -bringing me to the next point...

3. Stop the bleeding. If you went overboard spending and actually bought that two year old of yours the latest generation iPad, stop the bleeding now! Don't get suckered into spending on more anytime soon. Set a plan and stick to it. Where ever you felt you overspent, set a plan to not buy for another 6-12 months. My guilty pleasure this year was home goods. I bought myself hundreds in new home goods and my hubby surprised me with a gorgeous set of new cookware. Maybe we've spent quite a bit collectively, but this is something that should last a while and we shouldn't buy more of it anytime soon. We'll stop the bleeding, for sure!

4. Change the message. If you're really feeling guilty over spending so much money, remind yourself of the moment those gifts were opened by an excited child or other family member/friend. Remind yourself of your own hard work. Remember, giving gifts shouldn't be an exercise in stress. If you purchased too much on credit resolve to responsibly pay your bill (or replenish your savings) and get back on track soon. After all, "buyer's remorse" is no fun but empowering yourself after spending so much is!

Do you feel you spent too much this holiday season? 
How do you get over buyer's remorse?

Monday, December 23, 2013

What's on your agenda while kids are on winter break?

My son gets a whole two weeks off school for winter break. I know not every parent gets the equivalent of time off but with the time you have there's much to accomplish. After all, who wants to be attacked by the constant "I'm borrreedd" nagging fiasco?

This holiday break try some of the following:

1. Grab Frozen Yogurt, Hot Chocolate and a Good Book. This is an easy outing, but my kiddo loves all of the above. Plus with all the spending around the holidays, a low cost outing is great for parent and child(ren). 

2. Ice Skating. This is a great winter outing. I just nabbed a groupon for ice skating for two with shoe rentals included for only ten bucks! That is a deal and so much fun. Make sure to dress warm... mittens, beanies, earmuffs and you're set!



3. Visit the Snow. With so many local mountains within a short two hour (or less) drive, this is always a great day outing. Grab your sleds, warm and waterproof gear and everything you need to make a snow trip fun and efficient. For instance, s'mores would go great for a local snow trip (don't forget a small grill for roasting). 

4. Bundle up and get moving. Try a scenic hike, a walk on the beach or even a new neighborhood. What's a great plus for a neighborhood walk? Find a community known for their Christmas light displays. Believe it or not you can use Yelp.com to find great spots. We have a neighborhood in LA know as Candyland where there's everything from kids selling hot cocoa and cookies on the sidewalk to Santa Claus hanging out on front lawns. So get moving and see the beautiful holiday sights while you're at it!

5. Roadtrip. You don't have to go too far for kiddos to feel like they're roadtrippin'! Pick relatives/friends to visit out of town and get on the road. Pack your overnight bag full of essentials and that's that. You get both a fun roadtrip with music, fun chats and games and it all ends with a nice sleepover. There's noting better than staying up late by the fire hanging in some jammies!

So there are five winter break outing ideas! 
Share yours too...


Family Resolutions for 2014


I assume all your gifts are purchased and wrapped and you are completely prepared for Wednesday. (haha. I couldn't even write that with a straight face!) So even though we may still have some Christmas things to get done, New Years is right around the corner. As with the new year (and clean slates) many of us are thinking about New Year Resolutions.

This year we are doing something a little different. Instead of each of us working on better ourselves, we are going to work together to better us as a family. We are going to make a few "Family Resolutions".  As a group, my husband, kids and I have decided to make 2 resolutions for 2014.

Our first is to eat healthier. Life gets so busy, and even with planning and grocery lists, it is easy to eat out or whip up something not very healthy. We have decided that along with eating more home-cooked meals at home we are going to add a vegetarian meal once a week. We are going to use this meal to try out new recipes and new kinds of vegetables!

Our second resolution is to get outside more. My husband and I are both not very outdoorsy. I prefer books to hikes. We all could benefit from getting outside and moving more! As a family we are going to make a plan to get off the couch, away from the electronics and get outside! We are going to explore local hiking trails and I really want to take a trip up to Joshua Tree.

Do you do New Year Resolutions?
What are you doing to do to make YOU a better YOU in 2014?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Perpetuating the LIE of Santa Claus


I grew up completely sold on the idea that Santa and his magical powers gave every child exactly what their hearts desired every year on Christmas. My husband didn't believe. As a child he knew Santa was a lie.

When we had children this became quite the debate considering one of us wanted to raise believers and one of us wanted to be honest. Neither approach is necessarily wrong, but what about the fact that one of these routes is based on perpetuating a lie and eventually coming clean only to disappoint a child?

As I grew up, I wholeheartlessly believed in Santa Claus and was crushed come fourth grade when bright-eyed Kim said "you know since Santa isn't real I just ask for money!" She crushed me. My heart stopped. My mind raced and I stood there trying to hide this feeling of complete and utter disappointment.

Santa was a big fat lie!

And yet I'm grateful for the years of joy this lie provided. My mother and older siblings truly outdid themselves year after year so I'd believe in Christmas magic courtesy of the North Pole, Santa Claus and a bunch of jolly old elves. Every year this childhood fairytale was thoughtful and heartfelt from the writing and mailing of "Dear Santa" letters to visiting Santa at the mall and eventually hearing his sleigh bells at the stroke of midnight when gifts arrived every Christmas Eve. 

So crushing Kim dropped a bomb and I was sad to hear Santa Claus was a fake, but I was also a 4th grader who suddenly looked back on the years of magic created not by Santa but by a loving and imaginative family.

My husband (and even his family) have decided to enlist in the idea of Santa Claus "existing" for our children. Sure, at first they acted awkward and tentative, but a few Christmases in and "Santa" leaving gifts for three adorably ecstatic children has really grown to mean so much to everyone involved. Soon enough our children will grow up and we'll come clean as gently as possible, but until then, jolly St. Nick is a part of our family's Christmas tradition.

Do your children believe in Santa? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments section below!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Letters to Santa Throughout the Years


This year when it was time to write the annual letter to Santa, my 3 year old did her little scribbles. When I asked her what she asked for she said "a tablet". Yes my 3 year old asked for a tablet. I am sure that many of you have kids in your life with lists with things like Playstation 4, iPads, and robot dogs. (seriously we can't find one anywhere!) It got me thinking about how letters to Santa must have evolved over the years. So I did a little research. Here are the most popular children asked Santa for over the years.

1905- apples, oranges, nuts, raisins, candy, or a storybook. 
1920's- doll, insulated thermos, woolen stockings, nuts, candy, sewing box, paints, pencil.
1930's- football, tricycle, dolls, nuts, fruit, candy
1940's- trains, wagon, pop-gun, blackboard with chalk, board games
1950's- army men, train set, play guns, bicycle, candy, dolls, puppy
1960's- bicycles, blocks, dolls
1970's- easy-bake oven, paper doll, play tool set, teddy bear
1980's- designer jeans, 10-speed bikes, Super Nintendo, Boombox, Barbie dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids 
1990's- gameboys, computers, Barbies
Now- Xbox, Legos, Bratz dolls, tablets, iPods 


Wow how things have changed! 
What are on your kids lists this year?  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's party... Holiday style!

I've had more feasting than I'd like to admit these days. Blame the holiday season. No matter the holiday party style there's always something to indulge in like food, booze and delicious holiday treats!

Plenty of fun loving feelings flying around during the holidays, office parties have come to be standard though varied in types. This past weekend, I spent an entire day holiday-party-hopping! Three different parties, three different styles, all great fun! Doesn't matter what the style every office (and work team) benefits from pausing to celebrate holiday cheer, and more importantly, everyone's hard work through the year. 

What's your favorite kind of holiday party?

1. Potluck/Gift Exchange: always an affordable and easy way to bring an office staff together. Making sure to set cost minimums and maximums for the gift exchange and determining the number of folks each dish must feed keeps the festivities simple and fun even if only during a lunch hour! 

2. Staff happy hour: another simple way to celebrate the holidays! Getting together after work for drinks to hang out in honor of all things winter break! Great social way to interact while keeping things casual.

3. Restaurant holiday outing: tough office budget makes it okay to opt for splitting the bill during a nice holiday meal. Office wellness in the form of holiday bonding over dinner comes easy and you get to let someone else (waiter, cook, etc.) do all the work! 

4. Big office party: big budget style? Planned at a banquet hall including dinner, entertainment and a night of dancing. Not all offices can provide this, but if given the choice, do you choose big and flashy party over simple & classic holiday fun?

5. Or how about skipping the party altogether? More and more companies seem to be moving in the direction of not having an office holiday party and instead giving gifts. More folks hoping to walk away with a giftcard and not actually interested in holiday partying at all.

So again, what's your favorite style? Tell us in the comment section below!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Side Effects of ADHD Stimulant Medications- Guest Post by Kallum Mitterer

                                 
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a medical condition that causes inattentiveness, hyperactive and impulsive behavior.  The symptoms can affect a child’s school performance, way of thinking, behavior, feelings and relationships among others. First recognized in early childhood and often continues to adulthood.

There is no cure for ADHD, but different treatments can help improve child’s behavior and symptoms to help them do better at school, at home, and with friends. Parent’s oftentimes become confused whether treatment is necessary for ADHD. Most experts agree that unrecognized and untreated ADHD can lead to serious consequences which include:

•School drop-out.
•Depression and poor behavior.
•Failed relationships and poor performance in the workplace.
•Increased risk of accidents.

Different medicines are prescribed to help children pay attention and concentrate better. ADHD medicines are often very effective in improving the condition, but they may cause side effects. The most effective treatment for most school-aged children and the first-line Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a stimulant medicine which acts by mimicking the norepinephrine and dopamine the brains neurotransmitter.

As the name denotes, stimulant does not cause a child with ADHD to be more stimulated, rather it improves communication between several areas of the brain. This helps in improving attention and concentration. Nevertheless, medicine doesn’t cure ADHD nor teaches the child how to behave, work well with others, follow rules in school or become more motivated. To address the issue behavioral treatment along with medicine can be added.

The most commonly used stimulants for treating ADHD are available in short and long acting formulas are:

•Methylphenidate
•Amphetamines

A stimulant medicine has a long history of being relatively safe and works effectively when used properly and few children manifest few serious side effects. Stimulants are not addictive. Some of the common side effects include:

•Decreased appetite
•Trouble sleeping
•Weight loss
•Sudden involuntary movements

Less common side effects include:
•Blood pressure and heart rate changes
•Headache
•Social withdrawal
•Nervousness
•Irritability, moodiness
•Stomach pain

Rare serious side effects may include

•Stimulants are not recommended in children with serious heart problems as it may increase risk of cardiovascular problem.
•The incidence of suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and aggressive behavior has very few legit reports of children who are taking stimulants.

Over the past years there are complimentary supplements that work as effectively as the prescription medicine for ADHD. This brain supplementation works in improving the symptoms with ADHD individuals by reducing the hyperactivity, impulsivity and improving mental skills, ability to think clearly and organize activities.


There is no reason to feel discouraged or hopeless; an individual with ADHD if diagnosed and treated properly can go on to live a productive and happy life.

~Kallum is an author of Elite Nootropics and several other popular supplement blogs. He enjoys neuroscience as well as the pharmacological reaction of certain drugs and supplements. Kallum also owns several websites and is highly interested in marketing and has combined his two interests. Nootropics have helped Kallum immensely in both his professional and personal lives. He believes with proper understanding and research people can chemically improve their brains and become the greatest they can be.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In the real world, NOT everyone wins the same PRIZE!

Chatting with a group of moms over student of the month awards a couple went into a rant about how every kid gets an award at the end of the soccer season and how this isn't actually fair. Both complained about how this makes kids more entitled. Every kid believes they're worthy of a trophy even if all children contribute at a different level, in different sports, having different strengths and talents.

I didn't say much. I guess I've never thought much about this idea of rewarding every child with an equal trophy at the end of any organized sport.  Then I reflected. My son loves soccer. He's talented and strong for his age. He deserves an MVP every season, in my book. He gets the same trophy as everyone else. And that's been fine. 

Then there's the year he played baseball. He really didn't understand the game. He'd run around the diamond from third, to second then first while still holding the bat. He basically didn't even have the basics down. He hated practice and did more chatting on the outfield than actually catching baseballs, but at the end of the season, just like with soccer, he got that same baseball trophy like every other little slugger on the team.

I understand that in today's society children's feelings become the forefront of recognition. The whole idea of not singling out the "best" of the bunch is to ensure all feel praised and no feelings are hurt. All kids did contribute after all. I get that. But the real world isn't like this. At some point kids will learn that not everyone gets an A, wins MVP, or makes the varsity squad. I believe failure will be such a great learning mechanism for my children. Just as success plays a part in how we grow and learn, so does failure, or in this case, lack of recognition. 

Yet I'd be the first to admit that I'd be darned if I was coaching any kid's team and decided to single-out the top scorers or those who appear most talented. Then again, I didn't care to reinforce this idea that everyone wins just because. I say we stick with everyone gets recognition, but not all recognition is equal. So one kid gets "top scorer!" If he was the child with the most points/goals/etc., well why not? Then there's the kid in little league like mine who quickly learned the right way to run around a baseball diamond and drop the bat before running to first base. There really would be no shame in awarding him a "most improved" certificate! He surely did improve and that's worth something.

In the end, I suggest awarding all children, but awarding them honestly. Now this is subjective, I know, but it's also honest. Every child adds something to the team. Every single one brings a unique gift. That something could come in the form of team spirit, a dedication to learning, or an ability to improve. True recognition reminds a child of what they genuinely contributed since not every child can technically be the top scorer. Besides, not always landing at this pseudo first place gives every child something to strive for. 

Comment and tell us, what's your take on this idea that every child gets the same recognition/trophy upon completing an organized sport?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Line Between Being Your Child's Parent and Your Child's Friend

Sitting in tight quarters at Panera this morning, I overhear a mother reprimanding her teen daughter. Stoic the daughter just sits and listens. Suddenly the conversation shifts and they're comfortably talking about boys, dating, classmates driving and "Man Crush Mondays" (#MCM). 

Her teen is all giddy every time the chat comes back to boys. My eavesdropping goes into overload. I appreciate the mom's candor and her ability to sound like this kid's mother and her friend. After a twenty minute chat suddenly they're each buried in their smart phones.  

Just then I think... what the hell? Why aren't they talking about barbies and play-dates? Is this me in about 13 years! Why do our daughters have to grow up so fast? Why must they suddenly give a hoot about boys and flirting with them through the clever use of hashtags? Ugh! And still I get it. This teen was me 15 years ago.

Interestingly, when this mother daughter pair first sat next to me, I somehow was able to drift out of their loud discussion as the mother was first reprimanding her daughter. It was almost as if my mind was able to phase out the more socially acceptable standard of parent correcting child. However, when the dynamic changed and these two complete strangers (to me) sounded more like teen BFFs, my mind went into a state of dissonance. How is it that they can speak so candidly about boys, girl spats and high school gossip without skipping a beat? 

I'll be honest, maybe I can't comprehend this dynamic because my mother had absolutely zero interest in ever being my friend. She was my mother; a loving but very typical Mexican mother. I got the periodic spanking, the usual scolding and always heard about how I didn't understand her, or anything for that matter, because I wasn't a mother yet. Lecture after lecture revolved around me not being a mother. As a teen and even young adult, I was still just a child to her and she was the parent. Finally now, into my early thirties, it's beginning to feel as if my mother considers me a like-minded peer. I suppose I had to have multiple kids and earn those motherly stripes to finally relate to my mother. I can be more candid with her. We can laugh like friends do. Somewhere in the last couple of years I became a friend, but only until I turned into her. We relate as mothers and growing up we just couldn't exist as friends.

Looking back I think my childhood, though far from perfect, panned out. My mother succeeded in spite of a challenging marriage and plenty of struggles. My five siblings and I somehow turned out okay. We didn't need our mother to be our friend. However, I know in my heart I will be different. Thirteen years from now, I want my now three year old to share her life with me. I want to relate and I want to validate whatever teen angst she may or may not feel. 

But where the hell's the balance? And how does a mother who didn't grow up in a mother/daughter/friend atmosphere learn to create one? How do we manage the line between between parent and friend?


Mothers of teen daughters, please chime in by commenting below. 
We seriously want to know what you think on this topic of being your child's parent, friend or both?  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What My Divorce Taught Me - Guest Post by Jake Prendez

A few days ago a my friend Jake announced over social media that his divorce was final. And instead of seeking sympathy he did something so brave. He poured his heart out and went on to explain the hard lessons he learned from his failed marriage. His advice is so heartfelt and so real. With his permission I want to share it with our readers. His message rings true for anyone who is in, was in, or will be in a relationship one day. 


**************************************************

This weekend I was told my divorce was final. It was a day I had been dreading for a while now. I planned on marking the occasion not with celebration but with reflection. To me this is very somber, the woman that gave me 9 of the greatest years of my life and many of my fondest memories is now technically my ex-wife. In the back of my head I thought there was still a chance to reconcile. So many friends would tell me that I needed to let go and I just couldn’t. Perhaps this is the slap in the face I needed. Some of you that are really close know how hard this has been on me and how hard I’ve taken this. Others just see the happy face I put on at shows and around town. I am not a victim and deserve no pity. I made more mistakes in the relationship then most and I had plenty of chances to fix them and I didn’t. Since I knew this day was coming I planned on posting a sort of advice blog/column/post so that perhaps someone else dealing with a rough patch might be able to salvage their relationship or rekindle a love that might be feeling routine. Today is that day and this is that post. In a way this is also a step to letting go and part of the process of healing. (Note: this is not about a violent or abusive relationship. No one should ever stay in that environment)

1. Live in the moment: The journey together is the relationship not the destination. Looking back at the great times is an awful way to enjoy your partner. Cherish the moments as they happen. Put down the camera and indulge in each other. I spent too much time thinking about the future and how we needed to make more money to afford the home, the yard, the picket fence, when in actuality I was already home in her arms.

2. Love your partner for who they are without the need for change: From the beginning I was critical of the way she dressed. I would always try to take her shopping to buy new her clothes that I thought were cool or fashionable or I would try to persuade her to get some cool tattoos. I wanted her to be my image of cool. Now it just seems the most worthless and selfish mindset. Today I’d love her even if she just wore different potato sacks every day. Not only was I trying to get my wife to fit my image of beauty but I didn’t realize that I was demoralizing her in the process. I made her feel like she wasn’t good enough when she was better then what I could have dreamt of.

3. Keep a journal: This works in 2 ways. One, you’ll remember important dates that will impress her, but better yet, it’s a way of remembering all the great moments you two shared together. I would always forget things that we had done together much to her chagrin. She seemed to have the greatest memory in the world and I was trying to remember what we had for lunch that day. Now that we are apart the moments come back to me now and again, usually before I fall asleep. I wish more than anything now that I could remember all of them… every single last moment.

4. If it’s important to her then it’s important: I got caught up in my own busy schedule and getting my things done that I treated her schedule as add on’s or excess chores. Her life is not extra stuff it is now your life. A marriage or relationship is a partnership…a 50/50 partnership. If she likes Mocha cake then you should pick mocha cake at least half the time even if you aren’t into it. If she is excited to see a certain movie, go see the damn movie. If she wants to go to a certain Argentinian restaurant stop taking her to your favorite restaurant. You are sharing your lives not absorbing one life into another.

5. Make your partner a part of your life: I am an artist and felt like I had an artist life and a home life. In retrospect I had a great opportunity to include my wife in my life. All those times I was vending at a show or artwalk she could have been there beside me. We could have had great discussions, great laughs plus she just could have been a big help. If you have a hobby try to find a way to make your partner a part of it. Find ways to include your partner don’t look for ways to shut them out.

6. Never stop treating her like you are still courting her: I pulled off some pretty romantic stuff to win her heart and when our relationship and marriage were still fresh. I once surprised her with a trip to Disneyland for our first anniversary. I booked a night at the Disneyland Hotel, went to the room head of time to sprinkle rose pedals on the bed, put a bottle of champagne in the room and her favorite rice crispy treat on her pillow. I even made a dinner reservation at the Disney Grand hotel and ahead of time let the waiter know it was a first anniversary. The waiter after dinner took us out to the balcony, provided us a dessert plate that said happy anniversary just in time for the fireworks show. I should have never stopped putting the same energy into our relationship. I got comfortable and became careless. Never forget to tell your partner how special they are or how much they mean to you. They cannot read your thoughts and if you never say it or show it they will not know and assume you don’t care. Now I just wish I could relive that moment again and again. 

7. Appreciate the little things: The little things will be the things you miss the most. For almost 9 years I use to get a kiss on the forehead as my wife would leave for work and I was still in bed for another hour. It’s funny how something so little becomes one of the things you’d give your right arm for. It’s the little things that we all remember. Their homemade food, their cupcakes, their laugh, their willingness to nap as much as you. The things that are the easiest and cheapest seem to be the ones that stick with us forever.

8. Sacrifice for your partner: As soon as I heard they were making a Beatles rockband game I had to have it. I kept talking about it but we just didn’t have the money to buy the game let alone a playstation 3 to play it on. The day it was released my wife asked me to pick her up from work. I remember being a little annoyed but I pull up and there is my wife next to a Beatles rockband box and a new playstation 3. Here is the kicker…She had secretly saved up for 4 months in order to afford it for me. This was probably the kindest most thoughtful thing anyone had ever done for me in my life. That is the sacrifice you need to put into your partner. It may not be monetary but go that extra mile for your partner. Show them that they are the most important person to you and how loved and respected they are.

9. Mental health isn’t a joke…deal with it: About 3 years ago I had a complete breakdown. My mentor as a youth who believed in me when I was a young cholo passed away, my best friend growing up drowned, my mom became terribly ill (she pulled through), I was trying to finish a master’s degree, running an alternative satire magazine, working full time, trying to be a good father to 2 teens living on the other side of the state, being an artist and exhibiting all over plus being a husband. I lost it. I had a complete breakdown and went into a deep depression. I was unhappy and hated my life and blamed the closest person to me…my wife. In my head I thought “I’m unhappy. It must be your fault”. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Now years later I see it was her that was holding it all together and probably the only reason I survived. I began to push my wife away. I didn’t want her to get hurt by me and kept telling her she would be better off without me and that I was “toxic”. She tried to be there for me and gave me plenty of chances to fix things but I kept pushing her away eventually I think the pain was too much. I just wasn’t in a mental state to process what losing her was yet. I ultimately got help and a couple years later I’m heading in the right direction. I remember telling my psychiatrist that I wanted to feel the way I used to feel that I wanted to love my wife like I use to. I finally got there but it was too late. She had moved on, filed for divorce and started dating her ex-boyfriend. It was crushing but it was a mess I created and must deal with. Mental illness isn’t a joke and needs to be addressed by a professional sooner then later. If I didn’t wait so long to deal with my pain I might have been able to salvage my marriage but I’m still alive and that is a victory within itself. 

10. Find your thing and "nerd out" together doing it: I think one success in my marriage was we made the little things we did seem like a big deal. Watching new episodes of our favorite TV shows together was worth preparing and getting out the popcorn, going out to eat was worth thinking about all day, going to the movies was worth planning and plotting, decorating for the holidays was a major extravaganza and the decorating date was scheduled on the calendar each year. Today all these things have lost so much meaning and enthusiasm. Decorating for the holidays has become a chore, TV is bland and boring, and going out to eat with friends is just not the same. Those little things you do together make life worth living. Those are the precious moments you will remember when you are 90. Without them the world is flavorless.


Jake I can't thank you enough for sharing your insight with us. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Really Didn't Know I Was Pregnant- One Year Later

One of our most popular posts ever was from last year. We featured an interview with Monique who had given birth to her son Matthew in November of 2012. The big twist, was that she had no idea she was pregnant until she went into labor!

You can read the interview HERE

I am very happy to report that baby Matthew is doing very well. He is a perfectly healthy 1 year old. Looking at this little boy, you would never ever guess that he was born premature. He is hitting all his milestones and is one of the happiest babies I have ever met! He almost never cries and is perfectly happy being held and loved on by his family.

He is also one of the cutest little boys I have ever seen!
Matthew just celebrated his first birthday and Monique and Chris threw their son one amazing party! A fun and colorful circus themed party with carnival games and enough treats to keep any kid happy. The party was a reminder of how loved little Matthew is. He is such a blessing to his family, and so loved. Especially by his Mom and Dad.


I asked Monique a few questions...

HerMamas: What is the biggest lesson you have learned as your first year as a Mom?

MG: That things don't always work out how you planned. It's best to go with the flow and enjoy every moment! 

HerMamas: What are Matthew's interests these days? 

MG: He is getting into cartoons. He likes Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He claps and gets excited when the hot dog song comes on. He loves playing on the floor surrounded by toys. He also enjoys going to his My Gym classes and swimming lessons at the YMCA




Monique thank you so much for sharing your story and these adorable pictures of your Matthew with us! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Health Benefits of Grass Fed Beef- Sponsored Post by Danielle McAnn


Health Benefits Of Grass Fed Beef.

Believe it or not, the kind of diet a cow is raised on can have a major effect on the nutritional content of its beef. Indeed, there are a number of significant health benefits found in grass fed beef as opposed to grain fed beef. In Melbourne, some butchers carry both varieties, and so it’s important that you know the differences. Here are 3 important health benefits you’ll get from eating grass fed beef.

1. Less total fat content.

In general, grass fed beef has a lower fat content when compared to grain fed beef. In fact, grass fed beef has about the same amount of fat as skinless chicken. This means less cholesterol for you. Ask your butcher if they sell grass fed beef. If they don’t, find a butcher that does, such as Cannings Free Range Butchers in Melbourne. Your health will thank you for it.

2. Less calories.

Grass fed meat also contains fewer calories compared to grain fed meat. As fat contains 9 calories per gram, the less fat your beef contains the fewer calories you’ll be consuming. For example, a 200 gram piece of steak from a grass fed cow contains around 100 less calories than the same amount of meat from its grain feed counterpart. This equates to around 17,000 less calories per year – assuming you consume the average amount of meat per year (usually 30kg of beef per year). If you want to maintain a healthy weight, consuming grass fed beef is definitely the way to go.

3. More Omega-3s.

Consuming beef from grass fed – instead of grain fed – cattle, also means that you’ll be getting more omega-3s into your system. These “good fats” are helpful in lowering your blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease and heart attacks, and reducing your chances of suffering from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. They can also reduce your risk of cancer.            


Not all meat is created equal. So make sure you choose beef that’d been grass fed (instead of grain fed) and do the best thing by your health.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Gift Ideas for Under $20.00

There is a good chance that you are involved in either a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange either with work or with your family. Trying to find a gender neutral gift for someone you may not know very well is a hard task. Then throw in a $20.00 limit it gets harder. 

Here are a few gifts under $20.00 that anyone would like! 

Coffee Set


These can be found all over the place. But to get the best price head over to places like Ross! For about $15.00 you can snag a box set filled with coffee, a mug and a travel mug. Even if your recipient doesn't drink coffee, they most likely enjoy some sort of hot beverage during the winter.

Monitor Cleaning Kit


This is a great one for a co-worker. Most of us sit on front of a computer for the majority of our work day. This gift is kind of silly but kind of practical all at the same time. I know my computer monitor and keybaord could use a good cleaning.

Hostess Twinkies Maker


For that person who has everything! I bet they don't have their very own Twinkie maker! And maybe if your office is lucky they will bring a whole bunch of homemade Twinkies to the next potluck!

Board Games


This is a great gift for a even better price. Classic board games are always fun and sets like these come with multiple games. As a kid I loved chinese checkers and macala. These games are simple and fun for all ages.

Candles



These are always a good go-to for a quick white elephant gift. You can find them most anywhere, especially this time of year. It is a gift that you know will be used and will fit into your budget. You can make it festive by finding a holiday scented candle!

So tell us! What are some of your favorite white elephant or secret Santa gifts? 

Book Collection Review: My Weird School Series

"My Weird School" is a great childrens chapter book series by Dan Gutman. Book one of this series is called: "Miss Daisy is Crazy!" It's the story of a wacky 2nd grade teacher. Then the whole series, of now 21 books, continues just like this... "Mr. Klutz is Nuts!" and one of our favorites about a militant, toupee-wearing superintendent:  

Dr. Carbles Is Losing His Marbles, Book 19
I recently stumbled upon book 19 as I feverishly searched for something a second grade boy could actually get into. From my experience, boys in this age group aren't into kiddie books anymore, but enjoy chapter books with some scattered pics, good laughs and a reason to keep turning the pages. This series does just that. Plus it's based in a school setting so it's easy for kids to relate to the wacky story line about a group of kids dealing with nutty principals, wacky librarians and wild custodians. Here's my son happily and willingly reading book two...

My child reading... such a fulfilling sight!
Like me, I'm sure every parent feels the sting of accomplishment when their children actually read and enjoy reading. This night, my son asked to read before bed and was very much excited about starting his third book of this series. This marked three chapter books he'd read in less than two weeks. Thank you My Weird School.

And get this, we nabbed book 1-4 for $2.99 on Amazon. This deal was great considering each individual book is around $3.99. With this deal, you get 4 for the price of one. Plus, we instantly downloaded the books on our tablet (used Amazon to purchase and the Kindle app for iPad). I especially loved how my son wanted another book and we didn't have to wait to get to the bookstore to find one. I'll do anything to make reading easy, fun and convenient.

So if you're looking for a series your young grade-schooler will enjoy, try all 21 books in the My Weird School collection. They won't disappoint your child OR you and that's really what I think I loved most about these books. I myself enjoyed reading these silly chapter books with my son. We snuggle, totally crack up and together look forward to jumping right into the next book in the series.

Share your favorite kids books, too! Comment below!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Cards


One of my absolute favorite things about the holiday season is the holiday cards. Throughout the rest of the year I avoid our mail box. It is just bills and junk mail. But at Christmas time I run to our mailbox after work in hopes that there is some Christmas cheer inside! We hang up all our cards on the back of the front door. I love seeing all the pictures and reading all the gushy sentiments. I especially love if there is a annual letter.

I think I love sending holiday cards as much as I love getting them! Because I am a blogger, pictures of my family are all over social media. So when it came to our holiday card this year we had to step it up! This year we went with a silly theme centered all around my husbands beard. It took a tripod and about 50 pictures to get the 4 we needed for this card.....


Here are a few of my tips when it comes to sending out a holiday card...
  • A flat card with a picture or pictures are pretty inexpensive. Places like Walgreens and Costco let you make your cards online and pick-up in store. Sometimes same day! 
  • You can go a little extra with places like Vistaprint or Pinhole Press. These cards are a bit more expensive but have more options for customization and more paper options. 
  • Keep an online Christmas card list. I use Google Drive to keep a list of people and addresses and if people change addresses during the year it is easy to change and if you make new friends throughout the year it is easy to add to your list. 
  • To save time have your message and name printed on the cards.  Also if you have the option to add your return address to your envelope do it! It is a big time saver. This way you just stuff, address, stamp and drop in the mail. 
Do you send holiday cards? 
Why or why not? 
Leave us a comment! We love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kids & Spouse-Free Staycations

This past weekend my husband spent exactly 48 hours away from myself and our kids. He's a total homebody who was well overdue for a kid-free staycation. Staycations are usually simple local or semi-local, short-to-long term getaways. I personally love a good weekend away whether it's with gal friends, family or even solo. In my opinion, every parent needs this alone time to unwind and oddly reengage in the life of parent and spouse. 

During a recent getaway with girlfriends, I remember missing my children and husband to the point that I gained insight on being present, more intentional and loving in my day-to-day. Yes, a few days away was amazing because it made me better when I was back. Truth is we all get burned out and shaking up our routine is a good cure for burn-out!

This is what my husband's recent weekend away looked like (thanks for letting me invade your photo stream, honey):

Lobster Buffet
Casino Fun
Adult Beverage & Sports Entertainment
Physical Activity
Of course almost everything pictured can be accomplished without getting away and with kids around. But let's be real? Do parents really get a lot of fun and free-me-time? We don't. And that's okay. We didn't sign up for casino nights and buffet splurges when we decided on the gig of parenthood. At least I sure hope typical parents aren't shuffling kids into casinos and ordering up a storm of tequila shots! Nevertheless, parents deserve to be just a little selfish from time-to-time and enjoy a weekend getaway. I support my husband when he's away as he supports me. We encourage alone time and we also trust in each other to make this time productive and full of good, clean fun!

Do you agree with this HerMama? 
When's the last time you or your significant other got away from it all? 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Make-up for under $5.00! Guest Post by Mercy Gomez

Some of you may be familiar with the cosmetic company E.L.F. This site is a great place to buy inexpensive make-up. Many of their products start at $1.00 and go up to about $6.00. But can inexpensive make-up be any good? Lucky for you guest blogger Mercy Gomez has a great review on some of E.L.F's most popular products. Take it away Mercy.


Studio Matte Lip Color: in Nearly Nude and Praline $3.00
Basically two different nude lipsticks. They dry out very quickly. Not a fan. But I do have a red matte lipstick that I used as a lip liner that I like. 


Essential Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick: in colors Flirty and Girly $2.00
My main problem with this is that it has speckles of glitter in it. If it wasn't for that, it would be a great thing to have in your purse for lip touch-ups. It's weird how glossy it feels since its a pencil.


Its a very compact brush so it picks up a lot of products. If you contour your face, this would be good for that, but I don't. So I don't think I will be using this much.


I actually really like this. I use it under my tinted moisturizer or foundation. I guess it fills in your pores and fine lines to make foundation look smoother. I didn't think it would make any difference, but I notice a big difference. It feels oily at first, but if you give it a couple of minutes to set before you put foundation over it, it dries.


This was a surprise winner for me. I have never really liked any foundation I have used. And recently I have been using BB cream. The BB cream feels so lightweight, but does not give much coverage. With fall/winter coming into play, I want that extra coverage. Anyway, I LOVE this foundation. It may be because of the primer I'm now using, but it goes on so smooth. It has pretty good coverage but does not feel heavy or cake-y like foundation can. I have even had some people at my new job ask about what make up I use because my face looks so clear. So big thumbs up on this one.


I have long been looking to try liquid eyeliner and have been very intimidated by it. This is a great one for starters. Goes on SUPER smooth and easy. I am a fan. I will probably be buying this in different colors in the future, like navy maybe.


Mineral Lip Stick in Natural Nymph $5.00
I have owned the mineral lipsticks before and have always been a fan. Nudes are in for fall/winter so that is why I bought this. It is a very light nude, almost like putting concealer straight onto your lips, but combined with the glossy gloss, I love it.


Studio Glossy Gloss in Muted Mauve and Funky Fuchsia $3.00
LOVE these! The Natural Nymph with Muted Mauve lip gloss on top is a great fall lip color. And the fuchsia is perfect to put over any red lip. 


-Mercy Gomez is a customer service rep for Animal Care Clinic in San Luis Obispo, California. She is an avid hair and make-up tutorial watcher. She is a huge Florida State Seminole fan (Go Noles!) and has a strange phobia to jewelry. She lives with her boyfriend Kelly and their 2 dog babies Dexter and Buster. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Post Thanksgiving Detox

If I have another bite of cornbread stuffing I'm likely to explode.

Over the recent four-day thanksgiving break I've had my fix of all the deliciousness that is typical of Thanksgiving: Turkey, Ham, Baked Mac N Cheese, Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie and so much more. Yes, for me Thanksgiving eating lasted four days. Many of you might demonstrate self-control and only indulge on Thanksgiving day, but I suspect most are like me and enjoyed feasting for days on end. Yet, the feast should and must eventually come to an end. At some point we all need to come out of the food coma that is Thanksgiving! So when you're ready, try the following tips to detox your body and get back into a healthy and moderate meal time routine. 

Drink up. Start your day with a large glass of water. You're likely retaining a ton of salt and all those holiday sweets don't help your cause. After your first glass, spread the H2O consumption throughout your day. Aim to have about 64 oz. of water daily. Might sound crazy, but it'll do your body good to have increased liquids hydrate and de-bloat you, plus increased water intake gives your body a great boost of energy.


Get moving. I spent this morning walking with my children. It isn't much but my body felt amazing post walk. My husband and I also took the kids out for a metro day yesterday. After all this eating we've both done it felt great to ditch our wheels and force ourselves to walk. After a long metro ride, we hit the streets for a brisk 40 mins. walk around town. Increased activity is so good for your body after overeating, so create a space to move in the days following holiday indulgence. Do whatever it takes to generate a good sweat and treat your body to exercise endorphins. 

Eat clean. A detox isn't a diet and it surely isn't about eating less, or worse, not eating at all. In this post, I am referring to a detox as a way to let your body recuperate from overindulging. Think clean eating as you prepare the next couple of days' meal plans. Breakfast should be packed with lean protein and heart healthy veggies and/or fruits. This is a great way to still appease your recent appetite and fill your body with natural foods. Try a bun-less turkey burger or skip the cheese and creamy dressing on a plentiful serving of yummy grilled chicken salad. Make those small meal adjustments that lead to clean eating and get back to feeling healthy and happy about your eating habits.

Comment below and share your tips, too! 
How to you detox from overindulging during the holidays?