Monday, March 31, 2014

Heart Songs

While driving home from a weekend away we were flipping through radio stations and found ourselves listening to Art Laboe and all his killer oldies. A very familiar melody started and before Stevie B could sing "I got your letter from the post man just the other day" I was immedially taken back to the 7th grade Valentine's day dance. I had half my permed hair up in a scrunchie. I was wearing white jeans and a white shirt with pink hearts. The cafeteria had been decorated for the lunch time dance and I was in the middle of the dance floor with my arms around Matthew Coulthard's neck and we were swaying back and forth. I remembered how he awkwardly tried to put his arms around my waist but he had a cast on his left arm.  I remembered how much I wanted to put my head on his shoulder but was too scared to make the move and close the foot of distance between us. I had no idea that I could remember that memory so vividly until that song came on.

Recently Irene wrote about her love for Spotify and the power of music. I completely agree. I have always loved the term "heart song". It's when a certain song has left a special place in your heart. A song that can transport you back to a specific place and time. They have a powerful impact when you hear them and they can make you laugh, smile or cry. I grew up with a Dad who was a musician so music was a constant in my life. I have heart songs that go back to being 4 years old and singing Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" with my Dad. And the song "Ohio is for Lovers" by Hawthorne Heights brings back such vivid memories of being in labor that the spot where I got my epidural aches.

What are your heart songs?
Leave us a comment and share with us!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Keeping It Real: My Little Secret Guest Post by Susan Casillas

We are very excited to have Susan Casillas as a guest contributor today. In the spirit of "keeping it real", Susan is giving us an open and honest piece about being devoted to her faith and grateful. 

My name is Susan Yvette Casillas. I am one of five proud daughters born in the Inland Empire to two loving Mexican immigrants.  In my 33 years on this earth I have faced many different situations, but there has always been thing that has helped me, LOVE. Even before I was born, God had the most love for me. The love my husband and I share has blossomed into much more than I ever imagined. In my teaching profession a plethora of love is a necessity.  Friendships and hermandad consistently bring love into my life. Growing up, I never in my life thought that I would have such wonderful experiences, such as going away to college, studying abroad in Spain, finding love, consciously choosing to join the teaching profession, and entering the daunting world of motherhood. God is so great that he gives me the strength and grace to face all of my roles with a full heart. 

There are a lot of secrets I can share. I will share what is in my heart.  It is time to make my confession. 


I am a very religious and spiritual person.  Religion, spirituality or whatever you choose to call it is the most important relationship in my life.  I am one of the fortunate ones that have felt God's love in a very deep and profound way.  As a young girl, while I was preparing for my first communion, I was filled with curiosity for God.  I remember asking my mom questions about where colors come from and where God is.  During my high school days I belonged to a church youth group, where I learned many skills and came to know God in a more personal level.  I served on the church choir where I learned to sing for Him and play a little guitar.  My time was also spent serving God by visiting the sick at the hospital.  Without God in my life I could not have gotten through high school.  There were so many prayers and tears over homework, sports and relationships, or lack thereof. 

My college experience at UCLA was possible only with God’s grace.  He was with me as I struggled academically and emotionally.  With His help I was able to get help.  I literally thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown so with the guidance of an AAP counselor I saw a psychologist.  This is something difficult to confess even as I sit in my living room typing away.  Being so religious, I felt as if I was doing something wrong by seeing a therapist.  In my youth group they had always said that Jesus is all you need.  He can be your psychologist.  Well, I needed more than prayer at that point in my life.  Looking back, there are many strategies I learned from my appointments and workshops.  Stress management and time management are still areas of improvement in my life. 

Finding Hermanas Unidas at UCLA was one of the greatest blessings.  The support I received from my hermanas helped me have the best college experience.  Here I am almost 11 years after graduation and one hermana is already my son’s godmother and another hermana will soon be my daughter’s godmother.

God placed a calling in my heart to serve and what better way to serve than being an elementary school teacher.  It is only through God’s grace that I have been able to continue to teach.  He is so amazing that I am teaching back in the city where I attended church.  To a certain extent one can say that teaching is in my blood because three out of five of us in our family are teachers.  Without love in teaching it is merely a job, but I am a professional and that is only possible with love.  Along my teaching journey I have faced many struggles.  My first year was the hardest because everything was so new.  

At UCLA, I was an America Reads tutor at an elementary school in East L.A.  It was here that my love for teaching young children began.  You could think you are ready to teach, but there are no books, classes, or advice that can completely prepare you for the first day or even the first year.  That first day of school I had 13 bilingual 3rd graders and that scared me more than anything ever had.  Within two weeks, 7 more students were added.  I was expected to teach them language arts and math in Spanish.  Then, I was supposed to help with their English language development.  In all, I pray that I made a positive impact in the lives of these 20 students and I hope that I didn't traumatize them.  After 5 years of teaching my 3rd grade bilingual class, I became a Program Facilitator.  This position has challenged me and helped me continue to grow professionally.  I have many aspirations of perhaps going into administration or becoming a school psychologist.  Unfortunately, my other duties as a wife and mother have put those aspirations on hold.  I hope to stop making excuses and get myself back to school.  I am looking forward to next school year at work because I will be going back into the classroom as a 3rd grade teacher.  Now when people ask me what grade I teach, I can give them a straight answer.

My journey to find my better half was not an easy one, but I don’t think that it’s easy for anybody.  All of my previous relationships taught me different things that helped me find my tall, dark, and handsome man.  I can spend all night talking about the night we first met, about how I laid my eyes on him and didn’t take my eyes off until he came up to me, about how it took 5 wonderful years to get to our special date.  Dating my husband before we were married was a season of my life that I like to reminisce about.  Now as a married couple dating is different but we make it work.  Marriage is a lot of work and impossible without God.  As a wife, God plays an important role in my life.  It is only with His help that I am able to put my husband’s needs before my own.  I recently heard the song “All of Me” by John Legend and tears began to fill my eyes because that is how I feel about my husband.  Also, through the lyrics I can hear God speaking to me and telling me that He loves “All of Me”.  He knows I am weak and imperfect so He is my ALL.  Parenthood is the best, but only possible with God’s grace because now the love my husband and I share has taken shape into the form of my son and my daughter.  There are many obstacles that I face on a daily basis, but it is my relationship with God that enables me to continue to pour out my love in all areas of my life. 

Susan Casillas is a proud woman of God, teacher, mommy, wife and so much more. She shared her story with a very open heart! Please comment below if you have questions or insight to share with Susan!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Keeping It Real: Support, Success and the Single Girl by Cristina Rodriguez

We are very excited to have Cristina Rodriguez as a guest contributor today. In the spirit of "keeping it real", Christina is giving us an open and honest piece about being the single girl. 

Over the weekend I attended the Hermanas Unidas Statewide Conference. It is an event I look forward to every year that I can attend especially now as an alumna. It is an opportunity to reconnect with longtime friends and like-minded women who share the same trials and tribulations.

In the workshop I attended we discussed balancing everything as busy and successful women, wives, girlfriends, or as singles.

It was during the discussion that one girl shared how she feels different and alienated from other women who have children as she does not want to have children.

As she expressed her feelings I felt her thoughts resonating within me.

I am not sure if I want children. Several years ago I thought I was ready to get married and have children at the young age of 23. Now 30, I am so glad that I did not marry or have children with the person I was with.

Although it is great that I did not settle, like many other single women I often feel alienated from other women who are married and have children. Things definitely change when your friends get married and even more so when they have kids.

More often than not I’m sitting with girlfriends and the conversation revolves around husbands and kids and I can feel my eyes gloss over. I’m try to listen as best as I can but I wind up sitting in silence because I have nothing to contribute.

Personally, I often feel like I will be the queen B if I truly expressed my feelings. How can I truly say, "No, I don’t want children and no I don’t want to think about that right now." I care about me, I want to do me right now.

Instead I get reminded that my fertility is dwindling. I recently had a friend apologize for boring me with the mommy/baby talk the entire time and then asked me if I intended to have kids by thirty-five. I just smirked and said, 'well I would like to but I’m in no rush." Inside I was freaking out that my eggs had some time stamp on them and I better find the right donor, like NOW!

In addition to constantly feeling like the odd woman out amongst other women, we singles can feel that way with the men we date or are interested in.

My friend and I recently sat together enjoying our dinner and conversation. We were discussing our failures and our successes. We both discussed the many men we have dated. How we held high aspirations and are go-getters that a lot of the times our partners could not deal with that.

For me, it was the desire to travel and do internships that didn't work for my ex-boyfriend who said, “Oh, so you just want to up and leave for the summer - oh, really, we'll see if I’m here when you get back?” In the case of my friend, her ex-boyfriend did not encourage her to pursue graduate school, he only asked if she would continue to work. She said to me, “how is it we've come this far, done so much and yet there is still no man there, alongside us. There is no one there for us. Who is there to support us?”

Before attending this weekend’s conference I would have thought I was alone in my feelings of alienation as a single woman of 30 but I was pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised. How can we coexist amongst our female friends? How do we not get pushed out of the loop amongst our friends if marriage and motherhood is not where we are right now? How do we maintain our high aspirations and strong personalities and find a supportive mate?

Is there real support for the successful single gal?

~ Cristina Rodriguez is an Hermanas Unidas Alumna from Cal State Fullerton. She currently works for CSUF as an Administrative Assistant for the Upward Bound Program. She is also the current advisor for the CSUF HaU chapter. Her favorite song of all time is "Tu Carcel" (the Enanitos Verdes version). 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Keeping It Real: What If We Screw This All Up?

If there's one thing I know about myself it's that I'm a chronic builder. I build upon any and everything... myself, my career, my marriage, my children. To me, there's alwayyyys room for improvement. Always improving sometimes keeps me from appreciating all the growth thus far. I'm constantly on to the next level.

This has to drive my husband crazy. He's kind about it, but imagine being married to someone who thinks everything could be better, even better, then even better than that. For instance, our house is never clean enough. Something so minor, but a constant reality. Our savings are never large enough.   On this "never enough" roller-coaster we remain.

It probably doesn't help that my husband and I have something very unique in common: we're both BIG planners! We set goals, make lists, draft graphs, study results and so on and so forth. My fear is that I'll get caught up in all the planning that I don't get to the doing, or simply, the LIVING! It's what John Lennon sweetly reminded his "Beautiful Boy" of...
Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. 

Whatever happens to me while making all these plans will hopefully be everything I've ever dreamed, but what if it's not? Can you relate? Is there an area in your life you fear you'll fall short in and just not "be enough"?

For me this area is parenting. I've read the books and the blogs. I've attended the classes, conferred with my co-parent and all else. But what if I don't make it as a mother? What if our kids become crackheads, strippers, criminals or any combination of the aforementioned? Okay, that's a big stretch, but honestly I can't be the only parent that doubts their abilities or plan of action. True story... me, the sometimes referred to "mommy blogger" is afraid to screw this parenting thing all up!

I work to be the best mom possible. I strive to constantly grow in areas I find to be short-comings yet I still fear not making it. Could it just be the builder in me unable to be happy with where I am as a mother? My fear has diminished through the years, sure; but, it's still very present. 

Just today I got the second email in one month from my grade schooler's teacher about his recent behaviors. He was fighting with classmates a few weeks back and today he wasn't following rules on a field trip. He and I had a good talk about this afterschool and I felt he was attentive, regretful and clear that rules (especially safety rules on field trips) must be followed. However,  doubt always creeps in during the aftermath of these talks. I hope I make the right call when I lecture. I hope the loss of iPad use and other privileges really brings the point home and I hope my child is learning about respect and boundaries as I do my best to guide him. 

Screwing up as a parent is my ultimate insecurity. I want the very best for my children. I want to be enough! I hope to look back having made it to the parental promise land, but what if I don't?

We all have insecurities! 

What are yours? 

Make sure to check back as we wrap "Keeping It Real: A Weeklong Series" with ALL guest posts!
Thank you to everyone who submitted guest posts! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Keeping It Real: Eating My Words

Before I had kids, I threw around big statements about what things would be like when I had kids.  I had these grand ideas about how I would raise my kids......

And then I had kids and there I was eating my words.

  • No TV until they are 2 years old:  Before I had my kids I read all these articles about how awful TV was for a baby under 2 years old. I talked about how my children would not watch any television until well after their 3rd birthday. Just writing that makes me literally LOL. Not only did I put my babies in front of a television well before they turned 2, but I swear my oldest learned how to count from Dora the Explorer.
  • Educational Toys Only: B.K. (before kids) I made a big stink about how my kids would only play with educational toys. Only toys that taught them something. My kids were not going to have a room filled with useless things. Let us fast forward about 9 years. My children literally have a room that is only for their outrageous amounts of useless toys. I can try to make myself feel better and justify the educational benefits of a massive collection of Littlest Pet Shop dolls but I can't. 
  • Breast is Best: I work in the nutrition field around dietitians, so I naturally assumed that I would exclusively breastfeed my kids for the first year. I took a breastfeeding class and didn't even bother buying bottles or even pacifiers. My kids were going to get the breast and only the breast. After having my kids, my body had other plans. Like plans to not produce enough breast milk. I struggled for over 6 months with my both of my kids. I tried it all: mothers milk tea, pumping every hour, drinking a beer, drinking lots of water, and even prescribed medication and I could never produce more than half an ounce in a full day. In the end, both my girls were basically formula fed. 
  • No Gender Roles: Growing up for me was all about big poofy dresses and ribbons in our long hair, and I hated it. I always said that when I had kids I would never dress them according to gender stereotypes. I really stuck to this with my first kid. My oldest daughter dressed pretty evenly from the girls section and the boys section. And then I had my second daughter and because I knew this would probably be my last child, I could not fight the urge to dress her in the pinkest, poofiest, girliest dresses I could find. For her first birthday she literally wore all pink from head to tow with a pink tutu. 
Becoming a parent really made me realize how naive I was. 
Has there ever been a time when you had to eat your words, too? 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Keeping It Real Series: I'm such a QUITTER!

I married a wonderful man, true. I wanted to divorce this wonderful man once a month during the first three years of our marriage, also true.

I wasn't cut out for loyalty. Up until I married him, I'd quit on a lot of things and a lot of people. 

I remember being in the seventh grade and deciding to ditch my best friend Enid. Enid was funny, smart and LOYAL. She was the first and only friend I had 5th and 6th grade since I was new to our school. She was a wonderful human being. In my mind she just wasn't "cool" enough.

I remember consciously accepting I would no longer be her friend and that I would make my way over to the cool table come junior high. What an ugly truth. I know.

That was just the person I was. Perhaps it was age, perhaps it was immaturity, whatever it was, it was ME!

Many moons later I was married. I was married to a LOYAL man who married a quitter. I would quit on us at every turn. When I didn't get my way, if he disappointed me and when he was doing the best he could to be a young husband and father. Now, he wasn't the easiest person to be married to in those early years, but he was loyal. If anything it was his deep loyalty making up for my quitter's mentality that battled the divorce dragon. He slayed the dragon in me who spewed fiery divorce threats as often as a person changes underwear (hopefully that means often to you).

Today, I understand who I was growing up. I lost many friends through the years including my high school best friend. I saw her recently and remembered how much I loved our friendship. She was such a huge part of my youth. But I was disloyal to her too by being disloyal to someone she dearly loved. That was the quitter in me.

My husband eventually became another best friend I was willing to lose. He, however, loved me passed my imperfections. He believed in me when I didn't believe in me and and he believed in us.

I grew out of my need to quit on people who loved me, or actually, I slay the quitter dragon in me on a daily basis. I realized these people weren't my father and wouldn't eventually leave me like he did, again and again. In my life, I strive to be constantly loyal and present. More importantly, I don't care about cool. I'm actually not very cool. I should really give Enid a call. Though I'm sure she's so much cooler than me - she's always been.

Do you have a story like this you want to share with 

Submit guest posts all this week for our Keeping It Real Series. Submissions accepted via email at (annoymous posts also accepted).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Keeping it Real: A Weeklong Series

Over the weekend creators spoke at a statewide 
conference for women in Hermanas Unidas (HaU).

As proud alum of UCSB and members of HaU, Elissa and Irene wanted to give back in the best way they could. Together they prepared a presentation on social media pressures and balancing life's commitments such as career, relationships and health. The presentation was well received. However, something resonated with each when the audience shared insight on the inauthenticity of social media. Some found it motivational to see chronic goodness. Others judged the positivity as unrealistic while some labeled negative posts as honest posts. 

Overall, it was clear that most believed social media enthusiasts shared a lot but didn't always "keeping it completely real!" Do you feel the need to live up to social media pressures like these? Are you often honest or likely to only show your "best face" on social networks?

This week on we're turning truth on its head and filling the blog with more of it. 

What does this all means? It's confessions week on! Attention readers & followers: this is your time to help us keep it real. Please submit guest posts (anonymously or not) and tell HerMamas followers anything you've wanted to get off your chest. Share your insights, too! Vent, bitch or moan. No one's going to stop or judge you here! Share your pics without make up or how about confessing a little secret?

Elissa and Irene will be doing the same, so don't miss a minute of HerMamas this week

Click the blog, everyday! 

Guest blog posts accepted ALL WEEK via email (Email:

Friday, March 21, 2014

HerMamas at the 14th annual Hermanas Unidas State Wide Conference!

As some of you many know Irene and I met back when we were both members of Hermanas Unidas.  Being an Hermana is still such an important part of our lives and we are very excited to announce that we will be presenting a 90 minute workshop called "Balancing it All: And Doing it Picture Perfectly". We will cover a lot of the same topics you read about here.

We are nervous and excited to see all our beautiful Hermanas and share a little bit of HerMamas with you! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Calming the Brain

Any given moment in our home is a loud and overstimulating fiasco. I try to remember that one day I'll miss this chaos. It's really something so unique to parenting the way multiple kids (and parents) can all lose it at once. Just today I had it all from a potty training malfunction, a frustrated kid confused by homework and toddlers fighting over sharing an icee. All seem like nothing but imagine that happening at once?

That is parenting at its finest. My husband works late tonight so I knew that I'd need to fend for myself and do it well. Parents must self-preserve.

Then it hit me! I must keep everyone as calm as possible. Sounds mild and unimportant but focusing on calm keeps out the crazy at least the consistent stream of crazy.

I remember once hearing my son's kindergarten teacher tell him, "calm your brain!" I love this concept. Sometimes chaos simply comes down to everyone feeling overwhelmed mentally.

So here's how I'm calming my clan tonight:

Keeping lights low (mostly all off). Saves on the electric bill and something about less light just feels cozy. Plus my kiddos tend to cuddle under less light. I love a good cuddle with my babies.

Baby cartoons for all. There's something so simple about baby cartoons. There's one on Netflix called Baby First which consists of just light music and art/drawing. Not much else happening and like my grader schooler puts it, "it's hypnotizing." 

Shut-off electronics all together. My hubby does this great thing where he shuts down the entire house and lights one large candle. We all gather around it and breathe. Funny to watch kids try to do this but it's great for getting us all to enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet together.

Remember (and remind kids) to breathe! My kid hurt his finger the other day and was a total wreck. My husband asked him repeatedly to breathe & suddenly he was calm. The next day a child hurt himself in my son's class and he quickly went over and reminded this classmate to breathe! He said other kids gave him a look of "good job." As my kiddo was sharing this story he proudly said "my daddy taught me that!" 

What does this all do? It counters the constant chaos and gets parents and kids to a state of recharge. Everyone benefits from "calming the brain" and experiencing at least a bit of it every single day! Plus, this actually helps prevent meltdowns (even mom and dad ones).

Do you and your family take time to calm your brains and recharge?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Experience with Oil Pulling

The one New Years resolution that I have managed to stick to was to take better care of my teeth. Years of coffee, soda and tea drinking as well as a lack of flossing had left my teeth less than stellar. So when the new year came around I started a new routine that involved flossing daily as well as hydrogen peroxide/mouthwash rinse. My mouth felt better and my teeth were a tad bit whiter. Then a few weeks ago a friend posted an article about oil pulling. Then more and more people were posting and talking about this ancient practice. It quickly became the new fade. And I am not one to miss out on a fade.

The concept is said to come from ancient Indian practices. It sounds complicated and almost painful, but all it is is swishing oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. Yes I said 20 minutes. And yes I said oil.

The list of benefits from oil pulling include:

  • strengthen teeth and gums
  • prevent gum and mouth disease and help prevent cavities
  • fight bad breath
  • help fight dryness of lips, mouth and throat
  • remove toxins from your body
  • help relieve pain from TMJ
  • whiten your teeth
Of course I was sold and found myself inside a Fresh and Easy buying a jar of organic coconut oil. I have been oil pulling for 2 weeks now and here is what I have found:
  • my mouth feels cleaner
  • my morning breath stank has been greatly reduced
  • my teeth look whiter and shiner
  • the grossest part is waiting from the solid oil to dissolve into liquid
  • 20 minutes is a long time. I found if I start as I get in the shower and swish until I am getting ready for work I can get 20 minutes in.
  • DON'T spit oil down the sink!! It will clog your pipes. 
  • it sucks if you are swishing and need to sneeze
I wish I had a before picture, but here is one I took the other day right after my oil pulling, flossing, brushing, mouthwash routine. 

Have you / would you try this new fad? 

What do you think of oil pulling? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Should Kids Get An Allowance (If At All)?

This is a huge hot topic in my home. My husband has never been for giving our grade schooler an allowance. His idea is that our son must earn money. Now, this isn't money earned in a "do your chores and get paid" but money earned as we do by contributing and solving problems in our workplace. My husband just didn't care to hand money over just because.

This was tough for me. My parents weren't consistent but they did believe in a Sunday allowance. As I got older my mother began handing me a couple of dollars every school day. Having some money no matter how little felt empowering. I eventually began saving the dollars I had for "bigger buys." 

With both sides of it laid out, what's your take? To give or not to give? We went with giving my son an allowance (when he was 7 years old) and here's why:

1. He learns to manage money by having it. He doesn't obsess as much about us buying him items because he now has his own money to manage and count on. He is also well aware that this money isn't a must. We often remind him this is an optional allowance given by us. We reserve the right not to give him an allowance. This diminishes the whiny entitlement that might result every single Sunday.  

2. He isn't constantly asking us to buy him stuff. We found a dollar amount we could agree on. The hubby and I decided on $4 dollars every Sunday. I wanted to do $7 but my better-half thought that was too much for a 7 year old ($28 monthly). In hindsight, I believe he was correct and $4 has been a happy medium for all. My son manages his 4 bucks weekly and can decide on spending it daily on knick-knacks or save it for big ticket items. Saving money can be tough for a youngin' but our son is learning the concept of delayed gratification. At this age there's such value in accepting that not all things can or should happen instantly. 

3. He becomes responsible around the concept of money. He's expected to remember and kindly remind us it's Sunday and ask if we'd like to give him the allowance (not demand it). I've always given it, though there was once a time I deducted 3 dollars (of $4) for a frame our son broke and we agreed he should replace. We also make it his responsibility to keep his money in a safe place and responsibly save for whatever he'd like to buy that costs more than one week's allowance.

These are a few of the factors we considered. 
What have you decided in your home? 
Yay or Nay on an allowance for kids?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Linda! Listen!

Last week a video of 3 year old Mateo hit the internet and it was everywhere. So many people were sharing this video on Facebook that I finally clicked play. The video that Linda posted was funny and real. As as the mother of a 3 year old I can tell you that a 3 year old can and will argue with you about the strangest of things. Their defense is usually complete nonsense. But little Mateo really takes the cake.

After I watched the video I knew that the backlash was around the corner. I knew that despite the fact that this video is probably more real than most viral videos out there, there were a few things that were going to get the Mommy internet's panties all in a bunch. And sure enough last Friday Huffington Post ran an article trying to stir up controversy. 

First people felt that it was wrong and disrespectful that Mateo called his mother by her first name. In another post on the Huffington Post UK, Linda talks about this very topic. She explains that on a recent trip to an amusement park a little boy got lost and when he was with security he could not tell them his parents' names. He only knew them as Mom and Dad. Linda did not want this to ever happen to Mateo, so she taught him hers and her husbands real names. Now I find this to be a very smart move, and one I have done with my kids. I have made it a point to teach my kids not only mine and my husbands real names but the real names of their grandparents, aunts and uncles. 

The second issue that I knew was going to get heat was the part of the video where Linda tells Mateo that she doesn't want to have to give him "pow-pows" on his butt. Yes she is talking about spanking. And spanking is a hugely controversial topic. There are 2 sides and those that are firmly against spanking have raised their voices. This is a big topic that can get emotions flared.

Can't this just be a cute funny video of a Mom and her very smart 3 year old son?A video that a lot of Moms, myself included, can relate to? Do we have to critique and judge everything?

Did you watch this viral video? 
How funny did you think it was? 

Friday, March 14, 2014

What do your music playlists say about you?

Oh how spotify has changed my life! I loved Pandora for countless years but the idea of having an entire album at my fingertips, I'm sold! I recently scrolled my playlists and I realized how much my music tastes evolve and change!

Yet, with all the change, music is timeless. I love how it places us right back into a moment in time. It places us in a feeling, good or bad. 

I remember once driving in my dad's old Oldsmobile and Sarah Mclachlan's Angel came on the radio. I drove almost mesmerized. Having just been through a bad breakup I don't remember driving the two miles from home to the post office. I was in a trance. It was the beautiful words and the fact that I was heartbroken. I was a wreck and this song enveloped me in the wreakage. I can't hear it today and not feel the tinge of angst.

At present my playlists include everything from Bob Dylan to Shakira (circa 15 years ago). I obsess over classic Nina Simone like I do overrated Macklamore (I'd like to believe I discovered him). I'm so Bon Iver and Ben Harper. To think Tupac got me through high school. I could once recite word-for-word Suga Free's Why You Bullshitten? Crazy to think about that now while I literally listen to Flamenco Guitar Ballads and blog, lol!

Truth is, everything I listed and listen to is me. I've loved the depth of lyrics even the vulgar ones. I've appreciated the melancholy and sadness of the countless breakup songs on my country list. I've clung to the same Spanish love song playing hours on end. Above all, I've loved the way music transported me into other times, other places and even the moments beyond today.

What's on your playlists?  
What does it say about you?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ideas for Celebrating St. Patrick's Day!

Monday is Saint Patrick's Day! Don't let the fact that it falls on a Monday stop you from celebrating! Here are a few ways to celebrate all day long. 

  • A cute and silly way to start the day is to wake up to leprechaun tracks! You know those little guys are known for causing all kinds of mischief. Kids (and adults) will love to wake up to some little green footprints. You can put them all over the house, or just stick to one room. Maybe some footprints into the bathroom leading to a toilet filled with green water! Here is a great youtube video on how to make your own washable green leprechaun tracks! 
  • You can make breakfast festive too! If you don't have a lot of time a bowl of Lucky Charms and a glass of green milk (just add a drop of food coloring!) is a simple way to make breakfast more St. Patrick's Day-ish). If you have more time a stack of green pancakes is super fun. Just add a few drops of food coloring to your batter. 
  • Spend your afternoon making a fun craft. With just some paper and washable paints you and your kids can create a fun and pretty fingerprint rainbows. Just cut out and glue down a pot and use fingertips to create a rainbow pattern. You can also make 4 leaf clovers and even add some gold glitter. Here is a great link with all the instructions.  
  • Making a traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner is not as difficult as you might think! My favorite way to cook corned beef and cabbage is in the slow cooker! You can't beat dumping all the ingredients in and forgetting about it until the smell starts seeping through your house. Click here for my favorite slow cooker recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. 
  • Of course when we think of St. Patrick's Day many of us think of green beer. You can make your own by adding a few drops of food coloring to your beer glass and pouring your favorite light beer. If beer is not your thing you can try a mixed drink called the Drunken Irish Potato. Here is a link to the recipe. With only 3 ingredients this is an easy drink to make to toast to good cheer. And here is a Irish toast you can use...

We hope you have a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Deciding To Have ANOTHER Baby

I can't quite remember life before having three children. Every time we find ourselves with one less due to nap time or play dates it's a foreign and almost uncomfortable feeling. It's like we can't wait to be a jungle of five once again. No matter how hard juggling three kids can feel on most days, there's something so fulfilling about being the mommy of multiple children. But how do you know when it's time to have another child?

For me, there were a few things to consider, but before delving into those, there was something above all else I couldn't ignore...


Once my youngest who was pleasantly unplanned, was around two years old I had this undeniable urge to have and hold another baby. It was like I could feel it in every part of my being. I knew motherhood was for me and I knew I couldn't just stop at one.

Of course I couldn't have another child just because of how I felt - and this is key. If someone had a child every time their belly ached for one more imagine how repeatedly knocked up we'd be at the end of every baby shower or after receiving an adorable birth announcement? However, a feeling is a great start!

The first step should always be a discussion which hopefully comes well before even having your first child. You and your "baby-daddy" should discuss if multiple children is something you both want. If you haven't had this conversation and are considering it, here are some talking points that can help:

How financially stable are you? This is pretty basic but an essential aspect to consider. When we knew we wanted to have another child we waited another 18 months to do so. We were definitely not financially ready. We took those 18 months to become financially stable. Financial stability handles living costs and other details we'll have to consider i.e. added childcare, living expenses, etc. Logistically things will get tougher, but with time management and pre-planning this shouldn't deter your desire to expand the size of your family.

My husband and I also took the time to become more emotionally stable. For me, I felt I could mature in my marriage before adding more children. Emotional maturity is critical since children naturally add to life's stressors and take time away from your partner and first born. It's important to evaluate how you'll be able to emotionally manage the changes of having another child. Managing your time and handling stress should feel possible.

So no matter how much you "feel" like having another child, ask yourself if you are both emotionally and financially ready to take the plunge?

Finally, you also have your previous child(ren) to consider.
 If you believe you're ready for another child include your first, no matter how young, in the discussion of becoming an older brother or sister. Luckily you'll get 9 months to prep for this, but it's never too soon to start. You can prepare your firstborn about becoming a big brother or sister and what that means. Adding a new child to your usual family dynamic surely changes things for the older child(ren). One way to manage this aspect is by upping the one-on-one time spent with them. Though your attention will now be spread, it's simply a matter of prioritizing individual time spent with each of your children.

What have you thought about and worked through when deciding to add another child to your family? Please share your insights by commenting below! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Routine and Structure

Lately my 2 kids have been horrible. Their behavior has been off the charts bad. My husband and I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what is going on with these 2. One thing we have noticed is that because of homeschooling we are lacking a solid routine. When before there was a strict bedtime and wake-up time with a routine that almost never changed, we now go to bed at different times, sometimes wake up at 10 am and sometimes at 7am. There is no real structure to their days and this is causing excessive meltdowns and lots of whining from both kids.

You may have heard this over and over, but I can tell you that I am learning it the hard way. Kids absolutely need routine and structure. Well mine do anyway. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Security: by knowing what time they will be woken up, taken to school, read to or ever fed, kids feel more secure that their needs are going to be met. Imagine relying on other people for every meal or to get you to your commitments and not knowing if and when that is going to happen! By not knowing when and where and with who, you can elevate the fear and stress that kids deal with. Being a kid already comes with so much unknown. 
  •  Power Struggles: we have the same argument in my family every week. It always starts with "where do you want to eat?". Of course I get 3 different answers and the power struggle begins. Who's going to get their way this time? By getting into a routine can eliminate this unnecessary argument. Setting up a schedule of who gets to pick or even restaurants to rotate would help things run more smoothly. 
  • Self-Disciple/Control: by having a sense of organization kids can better deal with the unexpected change. Over the weekend our plans were going to change and my kids both had complete and embarrassing meltdowns. Instead of knowing how to deal with unexpected change and knowing that sometimes things need to shift they completely lost their minds. 
  • Rules Are Meant to be Broken: Of course I don't want to run my house with military precision. If one day we want to forgo the daily routine and go to Disneyland we will! 
Do you have a set schedule and routine in your house? 
Do you and/or your family do better with a schedule and routine? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

What's in your purse... RIGHT NOW?

Tell me you're just like me! Or is it just me? I always tell myself if I carry a smaller purse, I'll carry less stuff. Then the mom in me surfaces because there's always a mid-to-large size purse hanging from my forearm slammed-packed full of "goodies". It's gotten pretty bad, but I carry it all as you'll see from the photos below! Are you the same way? Or is there actually a way to not feel the urge to have every random must-have instantly available? 

I was recently at a baby shower and folks were asked about the contents of their purse. The list consisted of basic items like what I carry: pens, shades, mints, and credit cards, but then there were the unusual items i.e. "an extra pair of underwear." Someone actually had the extra pair of clean undies on hand. Needless to say that momma won the game with something like 22 random items all tucked away in her bag! 

I'm lugging so much around day-to-day from Krazy Glue to Lollipops and Asprin.  Not only do I have three kinds of nail polish at my disposal, but I carry nail polish remover, a nail clipper and nail file. I've got the must have lip balm but there's also white-out and a highlighter. Hey, you never know when those will come in handy, right? This is all I dared to shell out for one pic! Not pictured: shades, headphones, charger, truvia single packs, business cards, check-book, calendar etc. etc. 

I've also got an umbrella and even a book that fits just perfectly in the center of two pockets. This is the story of my life and somehow there's no changing it. My  purse is everything from a spare change receptacle to a jewelry box. Like most women I have way too much tucked away in my one bag. Maybe it's over the top to carry so much but I just can't stand going without something I might need, someday!

What's in your bag/purse right now?

We so want to hear about the odd must-haves you lug around!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Secret Society of Nespresso- Guest Post by Tawny Moreno

It has been awhile since we had a guest post. But this hilarious post by Tawny Moreno will more than make up for it! 

It began with an enticing question by Penelope Cruz over the 2013 holidays. “What else?” and we were talking about the Nespresso and how nice it would be to have a latte, and how it might be time to move up from our Mr. Coffee.  That’s right; we were never members of Keurig nation.  But we were about to enter the secret society of Nespresso.

At least that’s how it felt when we visited a Williams-Sonoma store to actually see the machines and employees there knew little more than how to use it to make an espresso.  One employee quoted us a really low, but later refused, price and another employee later in the day indicated it would cost us $140 to join the Nespresso club (false) where we could purchase our coffee pods.  By the way, we were told at Williams-Sonoma that they are not allowed to sell the coffee, only the machines.  Such secrets!

So after visiting the same store for the second time on the same day, we were twice as confused about the product, the price, the coffee, the club, but we went home and ordered our Nespresso Pixie online and got a pretty good deal.  While waiting for our machine to arrive, we decided to drive out to the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa to visit the Nespresso boutique which is located inside Bloomingdales.

We were still confused, but curious and committed as we drove out to the Plaza.  I actually got nervous and wondered aloud whether we would be refused Nespresso samples or not be allowed to purchase coffee pods at the boutique because we had no proof yet of owning the machine nor membership in the secret society.  I was beginning to feel unworthy of Nespresso.

The Nespresso boutique in Bloomingdales is very nice.  Everyone who assisted us at both the tasting bar (all you can drink) and the boutique were knowledgeable and professional, and I couldn’t help thinking that it would benefit the Williams-Sonoma employees if they were allowed to participate in the Nespresso 101 course these folks had apparently attended. 

We were impressed and walked out with 170 pods of coffee, having bought a multi-pak to not only try just about every type of coffee they produce, but also to receive a free acrylic cube that holds the coffee pods.  We also came home with two heavy-duty plastic bags, with pre-paid postage, in which you can mail 200 of the used pods for recycling by dropping off the sealed bag at any UPS store - an environmental plus which they cleverly call Ecolaboration.

We now had our coffee but were still waiting on the machine.  We decided we needed the perfect sized cups for both an espresso and a lungo (a coffee pod the same size as the espresso but the concentration of coffee is such that you can make a little larger drink without losing the flavor).  Heaven forbid we require our new Nespresso Pixie to drop coffee into our mix-matched old mugs, so we headed over to Ikea where we purchased six espresso cups/saucers as well as six lungo-sized cups/saucers. 

We’ve got our coffee supply, and the perfect cups, but no machine.  We kept our ears pealed for the sound of the UPS delivery truck and it finally arrived (actual time between ordering and receiving was just over a week).  As we opened the box, we began having suspicions that we didn’t receive a new machine.  While it was wrapped and padded appropriately, my husband noticed a drop of dried coffee on a piece of the cardboard and the 16 pods of coffee that were supposed to be included were not. 

Still unsure, we unpacked the Pixie and placed it on the counter.  I filled the water receptacle and when I lifted the handle to expose the opening where the coffee pod is placed, a used coffee pod fell into the tray.  Gross!  Here we had waited so long (ahem, one week) only to have to return the used machine and wait again.  But, the return process was quick and easy following a phone call to Amazon.  We simply wrapped up the box and a UPS driver arrived a day later to pick it up. 

Another three days and we had our brand new machine and finally a chance to drink some of that damn good coffee.  We replaced our initial coffee pod supply by ordering online with no problems and quick receipt.

I’m happy to report that despite all the initial confusion and anxiety, we are now functioning well in the Nespresso family enjoying an espresso, lungo or latte within minutes of desiring one.  Friends who have visited have enjoyed it too and several have expressed an interest in a Nespresso coffeemaker.  We are happy campers (and it's worth noting that if we ever get the silly notion to actually go camping, our Nespresso Pixie is small enough to take along).

Tawny, thank you so much for sharing your hysterical story with us! 
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