Friday, January 31, 2014

Current Obsessions


The first month of 2014 is already behind us. We hope the new year is treating you well! As usual here are the things that we currently are obsessing over.

Irene-

1. Target Clearance Items - I am literally typing this from a Target parking lot. Now that's an obsession! I love Target deals post-Christmas! I've scored everything from a brief case that was 70% off to kids shoes 2 for 10 bucks! Today, I purchased two books and spent less than $20 on both (one hardback and one best-seller)! Score!

2. Post-it notes: this is an annual obsession just ask any one of my co-workers. I truly rev. up post-it use in January! Something about the new year has me writing everything down. I even catalogue previously used post-its! I'm truly obsessed.

3. Family Goals - we have weekly check-ins in my home all based on our annual goals. Due to this weekly meeting, I am now obsessed with everyone's goals. It's gotten somewhat crazy micromanaging everyone's goal completion. Then again, nothing's wrong with ensuring one kid did his Spanish lesson, the other did a reading lesson, mom worked out and dad planned a fun family night. I've been obsessed with our goals and hope to keep this up well into the new year!

Elissa-

1. American Authors: this new band is like all my favorite folky, indie, hipster type bands got together to create a perfect music baby. And their hit song, "Best Day of My Life" is a super bubbly and happy song. It is the perfect song to start your day, or give yourself a pick-me-up during the day. I swear this song is almost better than coffee. 

2. Love Me With Lies Series: I asked a friend to recommend a book and she pointed me toward this book trilogy by Tarryn Fischer. I went in expecting it to be good because my pal has great taste in books. I didn't expect to be completely consumed by the story and characters. I finished all 3 books in less than 3 days. If you are a Twilight, or even 50 Shades fan you need to pick up/download these books.

3. La Santa Cecilia:  I know another band, blame it on the Grammy's. I heard about this Los Angeles based band a few years ago. Over the last few weeks it seems like they were everywhere. First my Dad texted me to see if I knew that band because him and my Mom were going to a show. Then I heard they were nominated for a Grammy. Then I saw a poster for a free show on Olvera Street, and then they won a Grammy! This band is a beautiful mix of rock and roll, uplifting cumbias and heart wrenching rancheras. Their latest album "Trienta Dias" is perfection.  

So tell us.....
what are you currently obsessed with? 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Be A Better Friend Challenge

Today on HerMamas.com we thought we'd take it back to the basics. Before motherhood and before marriage there was friendship! Good old fashioned friendship. 



                       


Often folks get sucked into career, marriage and childrearing demands placing friendships somewhere on the bottom of their priority list. If you're feeling out of sorts with life pulling you further away from friends chances are you've been a luckluster pal! No worries! There's hope. 

Take the Be A Better Friend Challenge! 

It's simple...

• Pick up the phone and call a friend (heck call a few). Just because phone calls are the best! Might be a little awkward at first if you've been super MIA. To ease awkwardness come right out and say it: "I'm calling just because.... I miss you... etc. etc."

• Send a handwritten note! Nothing says I'm thinking of you like an unexpected piece of mail. Hallmark cards sure know how and what to say to an out of touch friend!

• Plan an outing. Anything works here (simple or extravagant). Set aside a few hours to hang with friends. Try implementing this consistently as an ongoing expectation! HerMamas' co-creator Elissa and I have a monthly face-to-face hang out with plenty of texts and virtual chats in between. We are committed to seeing each other monthly and feel connected and fulfilled after each visit! 

• Push for it! Now this is where this challenge gets good! Maybe you've been too busy for friends. Likely, they're busy too. Be the organizer. Get folks together and don't be afraid to push. No guilt just a gentle nudge whether that means planning or preparing, but motivate friends to focus on friends!

After all, friendships really do make life feel fuller! So take the challenge and commit to being a better friend! 

Will you be taking the 'Be a Better Friend' Challenge? 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Religion and Children

I grew up catholic, married a catholic and am raising children in the catholic faith. My son recently completed a year of religious education and we were confident he was studied up on the basics. Then this happened...

One afternoon he and his friend (who happens to be Jewish) were having a play date. I noticed them casually chatting about Jesus on the Cross (a figure in my son's room). I didn't catch much except how they both explained that they knew exactly who Jesus was. 

That night we had a large function at church. As a packed church was winding down, my little guy leans over and very excitedly asks "Mom, are we Jewish?" He spoke almost in a tone of I know we are, I'm just asking. I casually answer, "No, we're catholic." In my head I'm thinking: Duuuhhh?!? I'd never say that part aloud.

The look on his face was one of complete shock and disappointment. He went on and on... "WHAT? We're not Jewish?!? I want to be Jewish!" I was trying to quiet him down at this point and not laugh in his face! Mind you, we were right smack in the middle of church with a room full of Catholics! 

I leaned in and tried to get him to whisper just as he was ready to cry. I followed up, "Honey, we're catholics, but you can grow up to be whatever you want." "But why??" he continued! "Well, mom and dad are catholic." His response:  "I WANT TO BE JEWISH!

My son eventually got over how he and his best bud came from different religions. I knew at his age this wasn't a matter of his actual religion. He wanted to be so much like his best friend who he had already bragged to about being Jewish, too. Kids want to belong so desperately though this obviously doesn't mean we convert every time we change best friends. 

We all eventually processed this together. His friend's mom and I even thought we could teach each other's boys about Catholicism and Judaism. I felt it was all very open-minded of us. I was especially surprised at my sincerity when I said, "You can grow up to be whatever you want to be." Faith of any kind is accepted in our home so long as our children are truly happy with who they are or what they decide to believe in religiously.

My mother would completely disagree with me. I grew up in a devoutly catholic household that talked more about how you NEVER convert rather than how to PRACTICE true catholic values. My mother's constant faith was such a wonderful example of devotion and it still remains that way to this day. She's a true die-hard. I love her that very way. Yet I don't believe my children must remain Catholic simply because it's what we've been raised as generation after generation. Yes, I am Catholic. I practice my faith, but I will not expect my children to grow up and remain Catholic if they don't want to be. 

Love and gratitude is of most importance as is personal happiness. Every now and then we sit back and chuckle thinking of the time my son demanded to be Jewish in the middle of Catholic mass. As he gears up for year two of Catholic studies, he's clear that his family is Catholic. This doesn't mean he can't grow up and change that. We accept each of our children as they choose to be so long as they're on a healthy and happy path decided on by THEM.

Do you agree? 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Capturing Motherhood

I am a sucker for a sentimental commercial. It goes back to those dang sad phone commercials in the 80's.  I am just a big ol' crying fool at most sappy movies and every episode of Parenthood. This new commercial by the baby sling company Boba really got the water works flowing. 

In 90 seconds they have captured what it feels to become a Mom. To carry a baby for 40 weeks, to live with the anticipation, excitement and fear. To become consuming with a newfound love that stops us in our tracks and changes how we view everything. And how one day we will have to let them go into the world. 



What things really push your sentimental buttons? 
Leave us a comment!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Parenting Insecurities

Gathered with new found friends over the weekend. Turns out, we all had one thing in common: parenthood. Single dad of a teen girl, a hardworking single mother of three kids over 10 and the hubby and I raising three little ones. My husband asked the room to share their biggest parenting insecurity. What was the gist of all four answers?

What if I get it wrong! 

Dice it how you wish, we're all fearful that one thing will screw it all up. Whether you're a busy parent, an impatient parent, a tired parent or the all too common parent with parent issues of your own, all parents make mistakes no matter how much we obviously love our children. Every parent is human and in our human imperfections we dwell. Chances are we beat ourselves up contemplating these imperfections.

As the debate went on, we asked about the one thing we feel we do right as parents. We could only pick one thing. Here the answers varied, but they empowered us. The whole conversation got me thinking about how to calm the parenting insecurities we all eventually feel. 

1. Commit to learning and growing; always be willing to better your parenting skills. This is the area I find as my number 1 strength. I am always researching, reading and learning how I can be better as a parent. That in and of itself soothes the feeling of insecurity and doubt. Knowing that I am in control of my ability to improve empowers me.

2. Don't beat yourself up. Stop focusing on what isn't and what can't be. Focus on the things you can do. If you're a busy, hardworking parent, push guilt aside during those long work hours away. Worrying is pointless and what you can do here is be fully present in the limited moments you are with your child(ren). Being truly present makes all the difference with children.

3. Be honest with your children about your insecurities. Show your child the part of you that feels doubt and worry. Your example reminds them that no one, not even the parent they most likely idolize, has all the perfect answers. When I'm being honest with my children about personal insecurities not only am I connecting authentically, but I am teaching them to be gentle and honest with themselves. Together, we learn to be patient and kind with ourselves, first!  Take that insecurities!

4. Stop comparing yourself to other parents! That's just a recipe for insecurities. We don't ever know how other families really live. No one is ever as perfect as they seem. If you base my life on Instagram my kids never fight and I never lose my cool. Wrong! Remember:


5. Blame someone else. HA! I kid, I kid. Just felt we needed a number 5! 
So you tell us #5... how do you ease parental insecurities?
We seriously want to hear from you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Too Many Options

The other day I had one of those not so great parenting moments. Let me be honest, I lost my patience and yelled at my kids. And it was all over Subway sandwiches.  We were getting food together to take on a picnic and my original plans didn't work so plan b was Subway. I asked the kids what they wanted and a whole thing happened. No one could agree on what to get. This drama happens a lot to us. I looked at my husband and told him that I really felt that our kids have too many options and too much say in what we do, eat and go.

Growing up we didn't get the choice, my parents made the choice for us. They decided what movie we were going to watch, where we went on vacation and what radio station we listened to in the car. If we were really lucky we got to choose between A or B. My kids now have so many choices when it comes to everything. Part of that is great because my kids get to have more and do more than I did as a kid. But I am finding that there is a dark side to this.

When we give our girls the power to make the decision its overwhelming. They take so long to go through all the options and they usually fight and my husband and I get frustrated. The other side is that when we don't let them choose we get complaining and even tears.

This is an issue we are working with in our household.  We are trying to find the balance of giving our kids options without giving them too much control.

Do you give your kids a lot of option? 
Or do you limit them?
Leave us a comment! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meet The 30 Year Old Party Girl...



If you knew me in my 20s, really knew me, we partied together; and we partied hard. Why?

1) I was a Gaucho (renowned party school). UCSB students practically receive dual degrees. One in their field of academic study and one in partying.
2) I was a Sigma (cutest sorority girls on campus). 
3. I was in Hermanas Unidas (we mastered the art of house parties - true story!).

For those reasons and many, many more... partying was very much a part of my 20s. I could keep up with the best of them. Danced on the speaker box, wore the shortest skirt known to mankind combined with wicked high heels. I drank grown men under any table. I traveled, lived and loved to the max. Pura Vida.

Now in my 30s, I've imagined the life of the party girl inside me and for a moment I try to bring the glory days back. Then a millisecond passes and I am reminded this 30 year old "party girl" is nothing like the 20 year old I once knew.

Because... 

Partying in your 30s is exhausting. Chances are you've grown up in life. You've got mouths to feed and a reputation to maintain. Nowadays if I muster the strength to broker deals for a babysitter (or two) who is willing to wrangle three small children I'm usually not gone long enough to make it worth my while. When in my 20s partying entailed raging until the sun literally peaked over the horizon. Now I can't wait to hear the 1:30am last call to rush my tail over to Denny's where I immediately load up on hot wings and diet coke. Yeah, not the after party of yesteryear. 

Thirty year olds are lightweights. Hope I don't get divorced over this one, but my husband and I just can't hang like we used to. I barely drink and when he does I swear it's like babysitting a college freshman drinking wine coolers for the first time. We're just not able to hang like in our glory days and that trip to Denny's can't come fast enough. Sorry hubby, you know it's true.

Thirty year olds are cheap. Gone are the days of frivolous spending on bottle service and Vegas binges. Today I find myself haggling poor bartenders hoping to score  2-for-1 deals. What happened to the carefree spending of my 20s? Oh that's right! I'm a momma who rather spend beer money on diapers. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Thirty year old's dress codes have changed. Man, I remember the outfits of my twenties... Tight, bright and barely there. Yes, this momma of three isn't getting caught dead wearing those looks no matter how many squats I do in a week. I'm thrilled when it's "jeans and a nice top" going around via group text for a girls' night out. I've traded in the little black dresses for "dressy flats!" Scary, but so true. However, be warned, this 30 year old woman can still pull off sexy! 

Once we all raged in the decade of our careless years and whether those were our 20s or for others their 30s... We all evolve and partying just isn't what it used to be once a decade or so has passed.

And this HerMama is quite fine with that! Can you relate? How's your social life changed? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When a Book Series Takes Over Your Life


Every once in awhile I pick up a book and just a few chapters in I am completely hooked. Like, obsessed, can't think of anything else, forget to eat, no need for sleep hooked. Recently my buddy Jackie casually suggested I read the series called "Love Me with Lies" by Tarryn Fischer. Jackie has never steered me wrong before, so I downloaded the first of the trilogy and dove in. That was less than 30 hours ago and I am half way done with the last book.

When a story really captures me I become a crazed obsessed readers. Just a few examples....

  • I stay up reading until I literally cannot keep my eyes open anymore. 
  • I read everywhere. Last night I was reading while making dinner. 
  • I obsess over what the characters look like and wonder who would play them in a movie. 
  • I constantly bug people who have already read the books with text messages (Sorry Jackie!).
  • I can only talk about the book and story line in any conversation.
  • I get really shell-shocked when the last page of the series has been read. 
I am almost finished with this book trilogy, so I want to know...
what books could you not put down? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Best. Book. Ever.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann
Our son was four when my husband began teaching him to read with this book as their guide. In no time, my little guy was reading effortlessly. Listening as he read longer and longer stories melted my motherly heart. Today, he's in second grade and reading above grade level. 

Though challenging, my husband recently began teaching our three year old daughter to read. So far, so good.  And here's why:


1. This book is easy to follow. It's basically a script that parents read step by step like a recipe. Lessons build a child's knowledge by tackling one sound at a time. It also incorporates writing into every lesson and uses the same format during every lessons. 

2. Quick lessons.  Each lesson is designed to take only twenty minutes or so. Anyone can devote 20 minutes to teaching their children a new and valuable skill like reading. Short lessons avoid boring or overwhelming your child.  

3. Gives children an academic head start. Finishing this book before a child begins kindergarten truly sets them apart. They're off to the races and quickly begin learning from day one of grade school. My son has very smoothly transitioned from grade level to grade level. For my daughter, who is far from grade school, her annunciation has improved and I find her often sounding out random words. My children even have a new game they play together called "reading lesson."

4. A true DIY (do-it-yourself) tool! Parents will undoubtedly feel proud that they've taught their own child(ren) to read. This book empowers parents to appropriately teach such a critical skill. Though I will admit my husband's found teaching our four year old much easier than working with our three year old. Obviously, the younger a child the harder it is to keep up with their short attention spans.

But don't give up! Make teaching fun. Add nightly lessons to your daily routine. Combine each lesson with neat prizes upon completion like stickers or stamps. My sweet little girl loves her pink #1 reader stickers! And what's even better than that... listening as she begins to read all on her own (thanks to this book and her daddy's dedication).

Have you wanted to teach your young child to read? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Common Cold

It finally hit our house last week. First the oldest kid started with the runny nose and coughing, and of course just a few days later the little one woke up with a sore throat and sad droopy eyes. That dreaded winter cold is here and it hit our kids hard. As any parent knows it is so horrible to see your child sick. And with a cold, there is not an overnight cure. All we can do is keep them comfortable until it passes .

Here are a few of the things we do in our house when the kids get sick.

  • Vaporizer- I love this little machine. Just add water, salt and some mentholated vapor stream and you can relieve a night of coughing. 
  • Cough Drops / Strips- When the girls are coughing I keep a handful of cough drops with me for my oldest. Our favorite is the Ricola in cherry honey. I also keep Triaminic Thin Strips on hand for the little one. These are a great way to help suppress a cough for a little one who is too young for cough drops. These strips just dissolve on the tongue. 
  • Vicks VapoRub- I go old school with this stuff. When I was a little girl my Mom would rub this on my chest to help me breath. Last night as I rubbed it onto my little one she took a deep breath in and said "That's better Mom". 
  • Soup- I don't think I have ever made home-made soup, but when the girls are sick it usually means a trip to our local Vietnamese restaurant for some Pho. A nice warm broth, with some chicken and rice noodles really hits the spot and is sometime the best way to get some nutrients and fluids. 
  • Sleep- getting my kids to nap is hard even when they are sick, but early bedtimes are the standard when there is a bug in our house. 
We want to hear from you!
What are some of your cold remedies?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Gag the Nag: Curbing the Need to Nag

I hate to admit it, but I've been a nagger for years. Full out nag machine! I've been married almost a decade. That's a lot of nagging.

  

In the beginning of my marriage I didn't understand my rants were nagging. Soon after becoming a wife, I became a mother and in no time I was nagging the two people I loved most. I falsely believed that my whiny complaints weren't nagging fits. Truth be told, as my son grew up I began reflecting on my personal habits. I ask him not to whine or complain but what about my nagging? Isn't nagging simply the adult version of whining and complaining?

How hypocritical of me!

Luckily, motherhood shines a light on so many of a parent's bad habits. As I correct my children, I am curbing my faults, too. I've come to use less inappropriate or foul language. The next hurdle? Curbing the chronic nagger inside me and here's why:

1. Nagging drains everyone, the listener and the nagger. If you're becoming annoyed by your typical rants chances are you're a chronic nagger and no one is happy with this routine! This, like any bad habit, must be remedied. 

2. Listeners easily drown out chronic naggers. Don't get stuck with the label of chronic complainer. You know what I mean? There's always the co-worker who speaks in excuses or complaints? Yeah, not many listen to them after a while either. Don't become "that guy" in your home. 

3. Losing the valid point buried behind nagging. Somewhere behind the nagging there's usually a valid opinion. Don't lose that due to the "nagger's delivery". Try a different angle. The listener is more likely to listen when you're approach isn't one of whiny complaining. Use a calm tone and speak softly without critiquing or insulting the listener. Naggers often come across as unhappy complainers. Change that delivery. Truthfully, you're likely not unhappy and don't mean to complain. It could be something is frustrating, so start there.... "I feel frustrated. I don't meant to complain, but this is how I feel..."

Nagging has gotten the best of me. But I've decided to change my approach. Sure, I still regress and let a nagging fit or two slip. But just ask my in-laws?!? I'm much, much better!

How do you feel about nagging? Useless or essential? 
Chime in and share your opinion in the comment section.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Open or Closed: Teen Bedroom Door Policy


Many of us have heard of an "open door" policy. Your boss at work may have this policy to encourage employees to come to them with any issues. But what about an "open door" policy when it comes to your teens?

I grew up with all sisters and in our house we had a very strict rule about our bedroom doors. If we had a boy in our room our doors HAD to be open. There were no exceptions, ever,  for any reason.

Now I am still a good 7+ years aways from having to deal with these kinds of things in my house, but it's never too early to think about it.  Does an "open door" policy tell your teen that you do not trust them? Will an open door just make your teen take it somewhere else? Or does it provide your teen with a safe place and a reminder of what is acceptable behavior?

I am going to be honest here, despite the open door policy we had at home, I still managed to find places to have make-out sessions.

What is your opinion? 
Are open door policies fro teens too strict? 
Or are closed doors too lenient? 
Leave us a comment!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fitspiration: Make workouts FUN!

Last night my daughter arrived home immediately asking to DANCE. This has become a nightly norm and is the most beautiful sight. Even better, my husband danced with her for the better part of an hour. She just swayed while he actually worked up a sweat! What a wonderful time to bond and exercise.

Our little lady took a while to warm of to Just Dance for the Nintendo Wii. I'm sure she was taken back by mom, dad and big brother suddenly breaking out into a sweaty dance routine  (45 to 90 minutes, every night). I wanted to workout and somehow incorporate fun and family into my routine. This video game workout strategy worked!

Dance-off Time
Since Christmas, my husband and I have been actively working out using our video game console. Exercise and family-fun go hand-in-hand with the Just Sweat component of the Just Dance video game for Wii (also available on other consoles). Even our toddlers want in on the action.

Since Just Dance was such a hit, I purchased a workout-intensive Wii game by Gold's Gym. Now this is one we don't want the children playing full-out since it's meant for adults can actually be strenuous. Luckily there are fun learning drills kids can do (not meant as workouts). This goes without saying, but the actual workouts referred to in this post only apply to adults.

Currently, my husband and I are able to complete fun and convenient workouts multiple times per week. If you have any game console at your disposal, try incorporating dance or cardio games and watch the FUN unfold in your home, too. And if need be, make shedding unwanted Lbs. fun.

Other fun family-friendly workouts:

1. Hiking: pushing a 40lb. double stroller has surely added to the intensity of our workouts. So mom and dad get in a brisk hike while the little ones simply explore the sights in nature. Weather-permitting, hiking is the go-to workout. Perfect for weekends and easy to do since it's always FREE!

2. Swimming: strap on the floaties and let the kids splash around while you actually incorporate laps into your recreational swimming. Make swimming a game. Create a record that must be broken. Have kids cheer you on and even make encouraging signs/posters while you get in those essential laps. Anything can be turned into a game with kids. They don't need to exert themselves counting or timing, but you should as you're swimming and "setting records" for fun! 

3. Stop Driving: brisk walks everywhere can make a difference in anyone's exercise regimen. If anything, your body and spirit feel better after a  long, brisk walk. Let the kiddos ride (on strollers, bikes or scooters) while you walk, run or jog a.k.a keep up. 

These suggestions work for anyone (with kids or not). Truth be told, the only thing consistent about all of these suggestions is that working out can be free to low-cost and fun for EVERYONE involved. No excuses allowed! In our case, so we have three kids,  but we still workout. We are busy, but we still workout. We can't get to the gym, but we still workout! All it takes is a little creativity, but the answer should always end in "we still WORKOUT!

How do you make working out fun and get it done, no excuses?
If you haven't joined us there's still time, so jump in and get moving in the month of January!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Boom Boom Cards- Do Good and Pass It On

When I first heard someone mention "Boom Boom Cards" I thought they were something you find in the back section of a Spencer's Gifts. After I got my mind out of the gutter I realized that these cards are all about passing around random acts of kindness.

The idea is simple. A deck of cards comes with 26 cards and each card has a random act of kindness to do. Here are a few examples from the original deck of Boom Boom Cards.
  • Buy a stranger a cup of coffee  
  • Ignore your phone ringing or beeping during a conversation with someone. 
  • Write someone a letter with actual pen on paper
Such simple acts of kindness that can really make a person's day. Boom Boom cards go even beyond random acts of kindness. These cards are designed to pass on.fter you complete the task on the card you pass it on to someone else to do. You can also track each card online. It is like a game that you can play with the whole world! On the website you enter the code on your card and as it gets passed on and entered by other people you can actually see your gesture of kindness being passed on. How awesome is that? A map that shows kindness being spread across the world!

There are a few different decks to choose from. Each deck comes with 26 card with their own custom ID number and a way to keep track on your acts of kindness.

  • Original Deck: 26 cards to help you spread kindness. $9.99
  • Teen Deck: Acts of kindness geared for the teenage crowd, like make a playlist to inspire and motivate and give it to someone who needs it.  $9.99
  • Green Deck: 26 cards with good deeds to help protect and help the environment. $9.99
  • Family Deck: A great way to bring your family together as well as a command center to keep track of your progress. There are also discussion cards to keep your family talking and blank cards for your family to make up their own good deed! $14.99

This is such a fantastic idea to help spread kindness in your life. You can even find "Everyday Boom Boom" virtual cards for free on their website! 

What do you think about the idea of Boom Boom Cards?
How do you spread kindness in your life? 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Keeping a Family on Track Using Weekly Meetings

The new year is well underway and hopefully many have been able to stick to their resolutions. In my family, we set annual goals instead of resolutions. We actually get pretty excited setting goals every year. Though we know the excitement and newness of annual goal-setting can fade. This year we decided to come up with a way to stay on track using weekly family meetings.

Our family meets every Tuesday night. My husband, 7 year old son and I each plan a fun family activity. We kick off this family night with a weekly check-in. A goal review, if you will. At this check-in we share personalized sheets like the one pictured here:

Like shown on my son's sheet, we each look at our goal accomplishments for the last week and measure how well we've done towards annual goals. Some of these goals are for the entire family (i.e. church, reading, community service) while others are personal. And believe it or not my son does have showering 4 times per week as his goal. Yes, for a grade-schooler bathing frequently can sometimes be a challenge and an area where improvement is much needed.    

Overall, we've had a great time staying on track and using weekly meetings/check-in sheets. What I love about this plan is how we're all working together to reach group and individual goals. Together, we stay focused on success and growth. Plus, we're holding each other accountable in a pretty straight-forward and consistent way. 

We also reserve the right to hold emergency family meetings. Just yesterday morning my oldest kiddos were fighting and I quickly gathered our family of five around the living room. Everyone had to stop what they were doing to gather, like it or not. It's important to come together and say "hey remember our goal to show kindness often and operate from love... we appear to be having a hard time this particular morning and need to re-focus." A meeting quickly grabs everyone's attention and gets us all back on track.  

Family meetings have been a great team strategy for us. Truth be told, I like the idea of my own actions being reviewed weekly. Just like I expect to hold my kids accountable to their goals, I want to be held accountable to my own. For instance, exercise (4 x weekly) is noted on my personalized sheet and I want to make sure it gets done. If not, then the next week I re-engage, stay focused and reach this goal using the family meeting as a deadline. Moreover, I know my children are watching, and well, I want to show them that I can and should accomplish goals just like they can.

In the end, 2014 is off to a great start. We know through one-on-one date nights, weekly family check-ins and annual goal-setting we're all closer to being the best family we can be. Not a perfect family, but a loving and always evolving unit of one. 

 How do you keep your new year's resolutions/goals within reach all year long? 
Would a weekly check-in work for your family, too?
Share your strategies and comment below.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Father Doing the Parenting is Not A Big Deal

It seems like everyday some kind of crazy picture goes viral. But when Doyin Richards posted this photo he did not expect the aftermath.


What do you think when you see this photo?

Many will look at this picture and be amazed that a father is wearing the baby while combing his daughters hair. Many people will think this man is exceptional, an exception to the norm. Let's face it, if a woman posted this photo it would not have made even a ripple on the internet. When Doyin posted this photo he not only got those comments but other hurtful and racial comments. Along with this picture Doyin posted a blog post called "I Have A Dream: That People Will View a Picture Like This and Not Think It's a Big Deal".

If you walk into our house on any weekday morning you will find this exact scene. You will find my husband braiding hair, brushing teeth, making breakfast and working on homeschooling projects with our kids. And I will be gone, away at the office. This is our normal everyday life. When people see or hear about this the most common reply I get it, "you are so lucky to have such an involved partner!". Whenever my husband hears this it upsets him. He does not think he is doing anything but his fair share of parenting. He hates the idea that society thinks men are not capable of parenting, (he even wrote a little about it HERE) or that parenting is not manly. My husband believes that when a man parents his children he does not deserve a medal, unless of course Mom gets one too. It is just what you do when you become a parent.

We want to hear your opinion on this? 
What do you think about this photo and the controversy it has sparked? 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Becoming Bilingual

grew up bilingual learning Spanish in a primarily Spanish-speaking household. In college I traveled throughout most of Central America and that's when I truly realized the value of bilingualism. I was proud to speak Spanish and English. I soon understood that knowing both languages opened cultural doors and gave me an advantage, professionally. My husband and I hoped to raise our children to be bilingual, too. Though honestly, we've dropped the ball by not speaking nearly enough Spanish around our kiddos. At 7, our oldest son knew a handful of Spanish words and we saw that he was excited to actually speak another language. 

So this year we decided to make learning Spanish one of my son's goals and a priority for all of us. The Duolingo app. available on cellphones (and tablets) has made this goal not only doable, but fun. My son spends 15-20 mins. on this app Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In a few short weeks his comprehension of the Spanish language has advanced so much. He's reading it better than ever and sounding out words he once would never attempt to read. Just the other day he read a Spanish language Christmas card and did so confidently and accurately.


On this free app (yes free!), anyone can learn a new language (French, Spanish, Italian or German). The lessons progress well from one concept to the next and each builds upon the previous which is helpful. Duolingo incorporates writing, reading, speaking and listening into each lesson. Plus, it's great for kids and adults. I've enjoyed watching my son learn Spanish, and more importantly, Duolingo has also given me the tools to assist in teaching Spanish! 

If you've ever wanted to learn another language, go for it and try this app. 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tiger Mom is Back!

Remember a few years ago when the book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom" by Amy Chua came out? In this now infamous book Amy Chua explains what it takes to raise brilliant well behaved exceptional children. I read the book and although I admired how tough and focused Amy Chua can be with her kids, I also felt sorry for her children. I mean no sleep overs! Ever!

Amy Chua is back with a new book that she wrote with her husband. "The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America". In this new book Amy explains that there are certain ethnic and religious groups that are more likely to succeed than others. So who made the list? Well according to Amy Chua and her husband Jeb Rubenfeld, Jewish, Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Lebanese-Americans, Nigerians, Cuban Exiles and Mormons do.

There is no doubt that this new book will cause as much of a stir as Tiger Mom did. She will have back-up for her list, with examples of success in education and in careers, but there is no one that people will be upset and claims will be made that she is pushing stereotypes. That she is claiming that some races or religions are better than others.

Will you read Amy Chua's new book? 
Do you think we can learn from looking into how different races and religions achieve success? 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Predicting A Baby's Gender

I've heard everything under the sun when it comes to predicting a baby's gender. In fact, I planned my second child's conception based on when the chinese birth chart predicted we'd have a girl. Sure, it's a 50/50 toss up, but I wanted a daughter, so I planned to conceive on what were considered "female-producing months." 


According to About.com: "The ancient Chinese Birth Gender Chart is based on your age and the month of conception and supposedly predicts the sex of your baby. You can simply look up your data on the chart and see if you are having a girl or boy." Now again, who knows how accurate this chart is, but if you want to plan like this HerMama did beforehand or just can't wait until the ultrasound confirms your child's gender, try one of these fun ways known to predict a baby's gender...

1. Dangling a Ring: Whip off that wedding ring, hang it from a string then dangle it in front of your pregnant belly. If it swings in a circular motion that indicates GIRL, a back-and-forth motion indicates you're having a BOY.

2. Drano Test: Pee in a cup, add a teaspoon of Drano and the belief is if it turns green you're having a GIRL. If it's blue then you're having a BOY.

3. Zits: Breaking out much?  This supposedly means you're having a GIRL. The belief is that a baby girl wreaks havoc on a momma's hormones, leaving mom to resemble a young teenage girl with a face full of acne!

4. Heartbeat: According to web MD, "If your baby's heart rate averages in the 110 to low 130s range, the thought is that it's more likely a BOY, and if it's in the mid 140s to 160 range, it's more likely a GIRL."

5. You're Craving What?!: Craving something sweet all the time is said to mean you're having a little GIRL. If you are craving salty or sour over sweet then you're having a BOY!



Did you use any of the above methods to predict your baby's sex? 

Is there a gender predictor you stand by or wives-tale you've proven true? 

Share yours and comment below.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Project 365 Grateful

A Facebook friend recently posted a link to the website 365grateful. I watched the video and immediately thought it was such a great idea and wanted to try the project myself. First I love photography and love 365 a day challenges even more!

In my house my husband is the pessimist and I am the optimist. My husband and I both want our kids to grow up to be more optimist than pessimist and one way to do that is to make sure is to live a grateful live. The idea is simple. Thanks to modern technology most of us take photos all day long. From what we eat to where we go, so what is one more photo. The project is to take one photo a day representing something you are grateful for. 

I started this project on the 1st of January and made it as simple as possible. Since Facebook allows you to make and add to separate photo albums I made a #365grateful album and I will post a picture to it everyday. I will caption the photo with the date and a short sentence about what I am grateful for that day. 

 I really love this idea. Like all of you my life at times gets hectic and stressful. I feel like nothing is going my way and it's hard to see the good. This is will give me the opportunity every day to stop and appreciate something in my life. It could be big things like my family, or even small things like my morning cup of coffee.Because no matter what is going on in our lives.......


How to remember to be grateful during difficult times?
Leave us a comment!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Smart Shopper OR Cheapskate?

We desperately needed new couches. In three years we've managed to utterly destroy the set we previously owned. Raising back-to-back toddlers will do that. My husband asked yesterday, "what's one thing we need for the house?" I quickly and almost violently exclaimed: "couches!" His response: "then let's get them!" 

I was so excited. I rushed to Craigslist.com to snag a bargain. He was clearly not thrilled. We stopped at two big retailers that had great couches, the hubby was ready and willing to slap down $800-1,000, no questions asked! 

I, on the other hand, just couldn't! I'm a true and proud penny-pincher. Maybe I'm a cheapskate like my dad was or maybe I'm truly thrifty, the verdict is still out on that one. I just could not see us buying brand spanking new couches! Keep in mind my two year old isn't potty trained yet. 

Our last set of couches was a Craigslist find and I loved them though by looking at them now you'd think we tortured them nightly with a combination of dog hair, kid's snot and maple syrup (don't ask). Still, to me, they were an awesome find. Spent $95 on that set.

As my husband scoured retailers, I frantically scrolled Craigslist. I found a motivated seller and after the endless back and forth about availability, needing a truck to transport and storage locations we were finally facing a pair of couches for $200 bucks. No one said buying off Craigslist or being thrifty is easy.

My husband was not feeling this buy, at all. He's the kind that believes let's spend the money we work hard for. Of course, without spending irresponsibly (he learned the responsible thing over time). On the contrary, I believe why spend on expensive new stuff when used can be just as awesome? We didn't settle on the sketchy storage unit transaction and headed home. But I'm far too laser-focused to stop. The hubby was planning when and where he'd by our new set when I convinced him to stop by a few thrift stores. 

Two stores in and the "seas parted!" An amazing, like new, olive green sectional sat there. It had been on sale over 7 days so the price tag was marked off 40% bringing $150 down to $90! Less than a hundred bucks for a comfy set of CLEAN couches. It's basically what I spend on coffee in a week (I'm NOT thrifty at Starbucks). My honey was in. He liked them as did I. With the Salvation Army's very own delivery guy charging only $35 for the move and labor within half hour we were cozied-up on our new couches! New to me, at least.

Our "New" Sectional Couches
This whole tale leaves me feeling thrifty though it may come across as completely cheap. But I feel I got exactly what I wanted, how I wanted it and for a great price. Beyond that, to me it isn't about not wanting to spend money but about choosing to spend it efficiently. 

Are you all about second-hand goods, too? Or is this HerMama's tale not your cup of tea? Comment and tell us is this being cost-efficient or down right miser-esque?


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Old Wives Tales About Inducing Labor

A friend of mine finally gave birth to her first baby this week! My poor friend was about a week past due and completely miserable. I can remember the last few weeks of pregnancy with my first kid and those weeks were awful. I can't imagine having to see your due date come and go. My friend was taking any and all advice when it comes to inducing labor.

There are many old wives tales on way to help induce labor. Just for fun let take a look at some. Remember these are old wives tales and should never be attempted without consulting your doctor first!


  • Walking: by walking you are moving your hips from side to side and some say this can help get the baby into the correct position. Also you have gravity working in your favor. 
  • Sex: semen has proteins and hormones in it that is said to help soften the cervix which may lead to contractions. Also an orgasim releases oxytocin which can stimulate your uterus muscles. 
  • Eating Spicy Foods: the idea here is that the spicy food will get your digestive system along with your uterus moving. 
  • Nipple Stimulation: according to research you would need to massage your areolas for an hour 3 times a day. Ain't nobody got time for that!. By stimulating the nipples your body may release the oxytocin which can lead to contractions. 
  • Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: they say by drinking 250ml cups, 4 times a day came trigger contractions. 
  • Take A Bumpy Car Ride: the idea here is that a bumpy car ride can help your water break. 
  • Castor Oil: this is a laxative and cause your digestive intestines to cramp up. It is said that intestinal cramping can lead to uterus cramping. Castor oil will also give you diarrhea. Eck!
  • Eating Eggplant Parmesan: something about the oregano helping to start labor. 
Taking a modern twist on labor inducing old wives tales is salad dressing! In Studio City, Ca there is a restaurant called "Caioti's Pizza Cafe". For over 20 years women desperate to go into labor head over to Caioti's to order the Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette Salad, also known as the "Maternity Salad". There is some secret ingredient in the dressing that has been known to induce labor. The restaurant even has a journal where mothers can leave entries about their "salad babies". This "maternity salad dressing" is so popular you can now order in on-line! 

Do you know any other labor-inducing tricks?
Leave us a comment! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another Year, Another 31- Day Fitness Challenge!


HerMamas.com created a successful 31 day challenge back in May of 2013. The challenge was simple and we're still receiving kuddos and amazing updates from women and men who took us up on the challenge. The rules were so easy and folks simply got moving. We worked out, ate better and together got healthier! 

As we kick off 2014, plenty of people want to get in the best shape of their lives. So why not do it together? In fact, I dare you! In my experience, it's group accountability and shared inspiration that allow for individual success. I myself lost 50+ lbs about two years ago. When I'm asked how I did it the answer is simple... "I ate better and worked out!"  But the real bonus? I did it with friends. I joined two workout groups at the park and had two-three friends and a trainer (cheap since we split the bill) holding me accountable for every session. 

Let HerMamas.com do the same for you. Join this challenge by committing to one of the three suggested plans shown below (and make sure to combine workouts with healthy food choices). 

Here's the real kicker: everyday after you've completed your workout leave a comment on this post or our Facebook fanpage telling us what you've accomplished (i.e workout A done, drank 8 glasses or water, made sure to have three balanced meals and two healthy snacks!).  

Possible workouts (plucked right from pinterest):

Workout A 

Workout B
Workout C
Or create your own workout plan & tell us about it in the comment section below!

Helpful suggestions: try alternating above workouts to avoid boredom and psych out your bod! Make sure to modify workouts as needed making them realistic for your workout level (beginner to advance) and if you don't know what a workout listed is (i.e wall sits) simply You Tube it (no excuses, here)!

Whatever you decide, decide today and start today! We'd love to begin receiving a windfall of comments from those of you committed to making 2014 your healthiest year YET! Keep in mind, healthy means something different for everyone and we're here to support EVERYONE! We encourage any and everyone to join HerMamas.com's 31-day fitness challenge for January 2014 and have your friends and family join us, too! 

Still unsure about taking us up on this challenge, take a look back here and read about amazing success stories from the first ever HerMamas.com 31-day fitness challenge.