Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When Mommy Goes on Strike

When I was little my Mom was the kind of Mom who did everything for us. I don't remember having chores to do until we were well into our late teens. My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom when I was little and we all just kind of expected her to take care of it all.

As many of us are all too familiar with, it is super hard and frustrating to have to take care of it all. I remember one time when my Mom had finally hit her limit. She was sick and tired of picking up after of us all, cooking all the meals, washing, folding and putting away all the clothes, taking care of us kids and pets, paying the bills and keeping up with the house cleaning. She was done and she declared to us all that she was taking a page out of Cesar Chavez' playbook and going on strike.

Not my actual Mom, but you get the idea.
The rest of us were stunned and quite frankly we were pretty freaked out. Mom refused to do anything for us. We were forced to fend for ourselves. I think the strike only lasted a day or two, but it was quite a lesson learned. Having to feed ourselves and comb our own hair was a complete disaster.

We got the message my Mom was sending loud and clear. We needed to pitch in and we needed to bow down at her feet and appreciate what a great Mom she was, and still is.

Now I am the Mom and there are days like today that feel like I am doing it all. Days where it feels like my family sees me as just a maid, cook, driver and money maker. Days where I want to get out the poster board and make my "Huelga" sign and march around the living room. 

Do you ever have days like this?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Doc McStuffins Made My Kid a Hypochondriac

My 3 year old has recently taken a liking to the Disney show Doc McStuffins.  I have been able to watch a few episodes with her over the weekends. It is a super cute show about a little girl name Doc McStuffins (duh). In fact I don't even know what her real first name is - maybe her name really is Doc.

On the show Doc runs her own clinic out of a playhouse in her backyard. Her clients are toys and stuffed animals. Her special stethoscope brings her stuffed friends to life. 

My 3 year old really loves herself some Doc. She has her own little doctors kit and her own big book of boo-boos.  It was cute to see her line up all her stuffed animals in her "waiting room". 

Lately she has started being the patient herself. She goes around fake coughing, fake sneezing, fake limping and announcing she has all kinds of weird things like "tangeled hair-iosis". My little one has become a crazy hypochondriac.

What shows do your kids really get into?
What show did you love as a child? 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Breaking the Dysfunctional Family Cycle

Picture this: your parent tells you you have a new pet. You walk this pet, feed it and show it off to the neighborhood kids. Then one day you wake up and the same parent who gave you this new pet, and subsequent joy, decides it's time to slaughter it. And slaughter it they do, right before your very eyes. Amidst the screaming pleas your pet is dead. Sure, this pet of yours was a goat, but your bright-eyed, bushy-tailed self wholeheartedly believed this was your new pet - a pet not meant to be served up with a warm slab of tortillas. That parent knew all along the pain they'd cause by proclaiming this was your "new pet", but they did it anyway.

Or how's this story? Your parent tells you to hurry and get dressed for your little league game. Eagerly you're up and at it dressed in your favorite baseball gear. As you drive excitedly to your game your heart suddenly breaks. You weren't in fact headed to a ballpark. You were actually headed to mow lawns for pay (not your pay, but your parent's). You were dupped in the saddest of ways and proceed to spend the rest of a long day dressed as a little leaguer, carrying on as the gardner. 

One final "fairytale"... imagine searching frantically for your favorite watch. Only to have it appear years later in the hands of your parent. You're puzzled, when that parent says, "I took this from you to give it away, but then I just didn't have the heart." Sure, a glimpse of remorse in the last story. But what kind of parent steals from their own child? 

The previous stories are all true. In fact, these are some if the more bearable tales to tell. These incidents happened to different children at different times. What did these children all have in common? They had the same parents. Year after year, generation after generation, these kids dealt with the same dysfuctionality. 

Today, these children are grown and together they must break the cycle of dysfunction. In fact, they could be worse off after what they've endured, but they're actually not half-bad, just a little broken.

For these children, like many others, one task remains: breaking the cycle of dysfunction. But how do you do that? I am no doctor, no expert, but this is what's worked for me: 

Firstly , don't blame your parents for your adult behaviors. If you grew up screwed up, own it, and then change it. Using your upbringing to create more chaos well after your upbringing is over is downright irresponsible and cruel.

Next, be open and be honest especially with those that must heal with you. Dysfunctional families tend to repeat mistakes which become habits. Speak out against the mistakes and don't stand for them. When you regress, apologize. When you are unsure, ask for help.

For me, I grew up with anger-induced yelling and cursing as a norm. Such language isn't normal, of course. I must fight against such a "norm" to never become the parent I saw growing up. It's hard work, but I stand by a deep need to break the cycle of dysfunction and save my children from the cruelty of it all.

Lastly, become aware. Acknowledging your past brings you closer to a healthier tomorrow. To neglect the pain doesn't resolve it. To dwell and lament doesn't justify it. Nothing makes dysfunction work. Zip. Ziltch. Nada. Nothing! So become aware - not to repeat the chaos, or hurt from it, but to become different and break the cycle of dysfunction.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Current Obsessions

April is just about done! It is the last Friday of the month and time for our current obsessions!


Cute workout clothes: Once a year I get into this fix about needing new workout outfits. The husband claims I have one too many pairs of sweats, still I can't help it. Today, I scored a cute purple workout sweater which will match perfectly with my purple new balance sneaks.

Pumpkin Chai Latte:  My favorite local coffee shop Bobaloca carries year-round pumpkin syrups. A few years ago I realized these go great with their chai latte. This means it doesn't have to be fall to enjoy a.k.a be obsessed with a pumpkin latte. Thank you for that, Bobaloca.

Vegan/Vegetarian foods: After a ten day fast of meatless cuisines I'm now on a mission to discover new and yummy vegan & vegetarian options. These new options are found in my usual shopping spots such as Chipotle and Trader Joe's but also discovered using a simple Yelp search. My taste buds have never been happier! Plus, there's something so physically rewarding about a meatless diet.


The Mowgli's:  During my obsession with the band Twin Forks I entered into a YouTube black hole and somehow landed on a performance by the band "The Mowgli's". I think I have found my 2014 summer soundtrack. Perfect beach music. Mellow, but not slow and sappy. I have been listening to the album "Waiting for the Dawn" on constant repeat!

Puzzles: During our week long summer vacation my whole family makes a big 1000 piece puzzle together. It is a group effort and takes a few days. That is usually the only time I work on a puzzle. Well this year the Easter Bunny brought both my kids puzzles and we are obsessed! My youngest can sit quietly for about 15 minutes with a 24 piece puzzle. My oldest and I spent some time working on a cool Lisa Frank 100 piece puzzle.

Girls: If you read HerMamas than you know that this show and it's creator Lena Dunham is one of my current obsession! I sped through the first 3 seasons and now I have to sit and wait for season 4 to start. I am a complete anxious mess. I need to know what is going to happen to Hannah and Adam! 

What are you currently obsessed with?!?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Is Tori Spelling's New Reality Show Too Personal?

First let me say that I am a big Tori Spelling fan. I have read all her books and watched all her different reality shows, even the crafty show she hosted, and read her website. So I was excited when I heard that a new Tori Spelling show would be starting on Lifetime. I was excited to watch. After reading her last book she talked about how the last show had been cancelled basically because the family wasn't interesting enough anymore.

Then I heard about what the show was going to be about. "True Tori" is going to focus on husband Dean's cheating scandal. Yup, the cameras are going to follow along and give Tori the opportunity to tell the "true story". See what they did there?

Now Tori and her husband Dean have lived most of their married life in front of the camera. From the comfort of my couch I have watched them attempt to run a bed and breakfast, buy multiple different homes, have 4 kids (some we watched being born!), throw birthday parties for all those kids, and even rekindle her relationship with her Mom. After the last show ended the tabloids began running stories about Dean having an affair. Tori and Dean were tight lipped about the situation, until now.

I watched the first episode this week and at the end I felt that maybe, just maybe, they had taken this reality TV idea a little too far. It was awkward to watch. As Tori struggles to come to grips with what happened and the possible outcomes, Dean is in rehab. Tori is juggling the 4 kids and having strange talks with her friends about her husband's infidelity. Toward the end of the episode Tori goes to visit Dean in rehab. They talk with a counselor and it all is so forced and weird.

I am a fan of reality television, it is a guilty pleasure. But airing this really horrible problem in their marriage and essentialy preserving it for thier children to be able to watch and relive in the furture just seems like a bad idea. Part of me feels that it could all just be a fake story line, just a way to become interesting enough to get back in the spotlight.

Do you think Tori Spelling's new show has taking it to far? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Death and Lessons Learned

My father passed away on Monday. He was very ill before his death. Though I knew he'd be better served resting in peace it was still hard to say goodbye. I wasn't close to my father, but I loved him. While I watched him deteriorate during his few last days on earth, I was hit hard by some of life's obvious, but often overlooked lessons...

1. Life is too short, so do what you love. This has to do with every aspect of love. Don't settle in love whether that's with yourself, another person or your career. Love everything, always. At the end of your life it's better to have known love in all things instead of regret.

2. Forgiveness is never about the other person. My father was absent much of my life, but it serves me none to dwell on what he wasn't. Too many sit and lament what has come and gone or what could have been. I've forgiven my father for his chronic mistakes, and in doing so, I get to love myself (and him) even more.

3. Don't Hold Back. All too often we play it safe. My father did what he wanted, when he wanted. He couldn't be tamed. Good or bad, he was his own person. His passing reminds me to be relentless too. I should go after what makes me happy, say what has to be said and always be my authentic self even if it isn't for everyone.

4. Settle Down. My father was always in a rush, always. He just wasn't comfortable moving at a mellow pace. He decided everyone's pace and mood by just one glance or an immediate and dramatic end to all things fun or "slow". He was often unsettled. His death had the opposing effect on me. Life's too beautiful to rush through it and forget what matters most: our relationships, health and happiness. 

5.  Keep Getting Better. We can all serve to get better. There's room for growth in all areas of life. For me, as I watched my father inch closer to his personal finishline I couldn't help but think about me... as a person, a mother, wife and friend. Watching his time expire made me want to do everything in my power to be a better version of me before my clock expires, too.

What are the lessons you've learned from life's most difficult moments?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why I Love "Girls" and Creator Lena Dunham

After binge watching Breaking Bad I needed something to get my mind off of Mr. White and Jesse. I needed something with less violence. I decided to see what all the hype behind the HBO show "Girls" was all about. I ended up getting through all 32 episodes in about 4 days. After I was done with the show I started reading everything I could on creator, writer, producer Lena Dunham. I even watched her pre-Girls movie "Tiny Furniture" (I really have obsessive tendencies!)

If you are not familiar with the show it is like a real and gritty version of Sex in the City. There are no designer shoes or gorgeous Manhattan apartments. As someone who has never been to New York I have to visit through the magic of television. "Girls" feels like a more accurate portrayal of New York life to the 20's something scene.

The show centers around Hannah and her life in New York City. Her parents have just cut her off financially and she is struggling to find her place. Along for the ride are her 3 girls friends and her on-again off-again boyfriend Adam. With dreams of becoming a famous writer, (she may or may not be the voice of a generation) Hannah is struggling between making a living and staying true to her passion and her writing.

Now you may have heard that the show is full of sex and nudity, and it kind of is. What I found more intriguing, and even kind of liberating was the fact that Lena Dunham's character "Hannah" is often doing naked scenes and her body is, well..... average. A pudgy belly and very real breasts.There is something so empowering about seeing an average-sized woman being open and unapologetic about her body.  

I read a little bit about Lena Dunham and she is such an interesting figure. The daughter of artists (her mom is a photographer and her dad is an artist), even her parents described her as a weirdo. There are a lot of her real life in her characters. She describes the character "Shoshana" and the young Lena who was terrified of sex. The character that Lena herself plays also has the same OCD tendencies as Lena did has a child.

Despite the criticism that her show has received, Lena Dunham stands by her show. And with a handful of awards in her hands she is doing something right.

Do you watch the HBO show "Girls"? 
Are you a fan? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Daniel Fast

I've never in my life fasted, but I admired those who did for reasons much greater than vanity. While watching the Cesar Chavez film I was reminded of the symbolism of fasting. I read up on possible fasts and I knew one thing for certain: I wanted my mind, body and soul to feel better for it.

I knew someone from Instagram who had recently completed the Daniel Fast. I researched it and found it was based on a simple passage in the bible. The idea was that Daniel wanted to eat only vegetables and drink only water instead of indulging in food that was provided by the King such as wine and meats.

The fast can last 10-21 days and includes drinking only water while eating only whole grains, plant based oils, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, herbs and spices. It's basically a vegan diet only tougher (no meat products, dairy, fried foods, breads, sugars, caffeine or drinks other than water allowed).

I began fasting and never felt better. This time was one of reflection and mediation. It was a time to test my willpower and focus on restricting what the bible refers to as "precious foods." During times of temptation, I silently prayed and meditated. I found the fast to be quite simple and I kept the experience private. No one ever really notices when you're eating out of your regular routine.

This fast turned out to coincide with the final 10 days of lent and became a perfect way to pay tribute to my faith. As it turned out, it also prepared me for a tough and unexpected  journey abroad to visit my ailing father. Somehow I was being preparing spiritually while unwittingly gearing up for the unknown twists and turns brought on by life. 

Ironically, I ate all day long during this fast. I simply ate plenty of the best foods. I read countless food labels and became so conscious of the health benefits of foods I could enjoy. Moreover, mealtime became much more meaningful and food seemed to taste better than ever before. It's almost as if mealtime lead me to feel more present, focused and aware.

Below are a sampling of the yummy food alternatives I indulged in during this very simple fast (meals included everything from "fast food" options to grocery essentials and vegan cuisines from local restaurants)...

Honestly, my taste buds were happy! Treating my body to all natural foods turned out to be truly fulfilling. For the first time in years I was caffeine-free and indulging in more fruits and vegetables than ever before. My husband (only person who knew I was fasting) joined me the last five days. It became a team effort. In the end, I found that this was a lifestyle I'd like to adopt permanently with a few tweaks and exceptions here and there. Truth is, I couldn't live too long without bread, regular pastas and rice ;) 

Have you ever fasted? Would you consider temporarily trading in your current food routine for the sake of reflection and meditating? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Make Cascarones for Easter

When I was a kid I always looked forward to the big family Easter celebration. My big mexican family would all gather at my Nana and Tata's house for a big potluck, and an easter egg hunt. It was all so much fun but the highlight of the day was all the kids trying to break a confetti egg over my Tia Mary's head. See my Tia Mary is the youngest in a family and she always, always has the perfect make-up and perfect hair. That is why it was so fun to smash a hollow egg with confetti into her perfectly made up hairdo. It was usually my cousin Leo who would eventually get my Tia Mary. I am happy that this tradition still continues. My poor Tia Mary!

The excitement about Easter started in my house about a month before when we started collecting egg shells for the cascarones. These staples of a Mexican Easter celebration are very easy to make on your own!

Step One: Eat a lot of egg scrambles and omelets. Instead of cracking the egg in half, take a straight pin and gently poke a small hole at the narrow top of the egg. Then make a bigger hole at the bottom of the egg. Remove the insides of the egg by blowing into the small hole. The insides should slide out through the bottom. Then rinse the inside and set out to dry. Save as many as you can!

Step Two: Use any egg coloring method you like and would use on regular boiled eggs. Let the shells dry completely.

Step 3: Fill the egg through the bottom hole with confetti, glitter and if you really want to be cruel you can add flour. You only need to fill it up about 1/4 of the way.

Step 4: You will need  to cover the bottom hole. Take crepe paper (streamers work!) and cut small squares. Place the square over the hole. Use a mixture of white glue and water to brush over the crepe paper square and let dry.

Step 5: Find your family who spent the most time getting ready that day and attack!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Basket Ideas for All Ages

If you are anything like me that you still need to get your little cotton tailed butt to the store to get together some baskets for the little ones in your life. I procrastinate every year and find myself rushed and stressed trying to find the right amount of little toys that won't end up broken or lost, balanced with the right amount of candy. It's all a very careful peeps covered math equation. 

Here are some ideas for different age groups for basket fillers to go with the jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. 

Infants: A walk down any baby supply aisle will have plenty of little baby friendly items that can go in a basket. Since they are little ones, you can substitute the candy for a few containers of their favorite snack like cheerios, goldfish crackers or puffs. Add in brand new sippy cup, a teether toy, a board book or even a new toothbrush and you have a cute and useful basket. 

Toddlers: Since we are finally into spring and the weather has warmed up (well in California at least!) An easter basket for a toddler aged child is a great to stock up on some outside toys like sidewalk chalk. You can also add in a new nightlight with their favorite character, coloring books, stickers and even playdough. 

Grade School: With summer vacation around the corner you can use an easter basket as a way to stock up on some items to help ease the boredom of summer break. A few things that can help keep a grade schooler entertained are books, card games like Uno, art supplies or even a big 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. One of my favorite items for my grade schooler is a journal for writing and sketching. 

Tween/Teens:  If your tween/teen still gets a visit from the Easter Bunny, here are a few things that might not get an eye roll out of your tween/teen. Cute socks or a cool watch are great small items that can fit in a basket. A lego set, a cute keychain or maybe a cool pair of ear buds. 

Happy Easter Shopping! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dating My Wife - Guest Post By Diego Quevedo

Happy to have one of our favorite male contributors on today. Diego Quevedo married to HerMamas' co-creator Irene agreed to a brief interview during their most recent date night (a weekly occurrence in their marriage) and here's what he had to say about Dating His Wife...

Q. Why date (after 8 years of marriage and 11 years together)?

A. Because I'm still trying to get in her pants. No really, to make my wife feel more connected to me which makes it easier to get in her pants. Honestly, with our busy schedules, having spontaneous dates can be difficult. Scheduled dates give us something to look forward to every week.

Q. Describe Your Favorite Date Night?

A: A good meal followed by good conversation and a new experience (i.e. trying a new cuisine together). 

Q. How Do You Mix it Up and Keep Date Night Interesting?

A. Commit to something new every date night. That could be a new restaurant, activity or simply a new city to explore. The newness makes our relationship feel what it did in the beginning... excitement. It is as if we're on a little adventure together.

Q. What's Your Advice For Couples Who Say Routine Date Nights Just Aren't Possible? 

A. Weekly might be too much for some couples. Instead opt for monthly outings. There's always time for each other. Make the time.

Q. You're Known To Also Date Your Kids? Why?

A. For the same reason I date my wife, one-on-one mutually devoted time is crucial to a healthy relationship.

Q. If You Won The Lottery Tomorrow How Would You Spend Your Next Date Night? 

A. Surprise the wife with a "quick" flight to Paris for a lovely dinner at a Parisian Bistro! 

Share your dating tips by commenting below! 
Better yet, interview your significant other and share their tips with us...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sailing Around the World....with infants!

You may have heard of the  Kaufman family. About a year ago they decided to take a sailing trip around the world. The husband Eric is a coast guard licensed captain. The family has lived on their boat "Rebel Heart"" for over 7 years. Sailing is their passion. It is what they have always done and they are more than capable of sailing around the world. They had planned this trip carefully and left while the wife Charlotte was pregnant. This did not stop them, this trip was their dream. They wanted to take the children, now ages 1 and 3 to see the world. 

The reason you may have heard of this family is not because of their courage and determination, but because a few weeks ago they had to be rescued by the Coast Guard, Navy and California National Guard when the communication and steering on their boat broke and their 1 year old daughter got very sick. It must have been such a stressful and scary time for the family. They are safely back in San Diego and are sad that their boat was sunk at sea. They are also facing much harsh criticism from people who feel that they unnecessarily put their 2 small kids in danger. 

Some feel that the Kaufman family should be financially responsible for the cost of the rescue. Some people are angry that military persons had to risk their own lives to save theirs. There are some that believe that it is irresponsible to take such small children out to sea. Some feel that there is too much risk and far too dangerous. 

The Kaufman's have publicly defended their decision to sail with their young daughters. They feel that family's sailing together is a wonderful experience for the entire family and the safety of their girls is a top priority. Of course there are others defending the Kaufman family. There are people who are praising the Kaufman's for following their dreams, living their passions and giving their children an adventurous childhood filled with travel. 

I can see both sides of the issue. As parents my husband and I have passions in life, like music, art and off-roading. As parents we try to involve our girls in those passions whenever possible. We always take every safety precaution and would never purposely put our children in danger. But life happens and it can happen anywhere. Should we stop living and taking our children on adventures? On the other hand should the tax payers be responsible to pay for an emergency that happens on an unnecessary trip? 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rwanda: Journey Abroad - Guest Post by Maurisabel Quevedo

Recently, I was asked by a friend, “What was the craziest thing you saw in Rwanda?” I couldn’t think of anything crazy, because in their culture, it was normal. And for seven months, I spoke their language, ate their foods, I went to their church, I was part of their culture. 

It was normal to see cows, goats, and chickens roaming around in the middle of the red dirt-filled, carless road, it was normal to see hills upon hills of green lush with minimal construction on them. In addition to different sights, I acclimated to the every day life: it was a custom to walk to work every morning and wave good morning to every single person; taking bucket baths, using a latrine (aka hole on the ground, as a toilet), hand washing clothes, fetching water, traveling in motorcycle taxis, grocery shopping for daily hand picked veggies, and not being out at night unless you were in a big city. I lived in a rural village that had little electricity; I remember walking to a coworkers house one of the very first nights there and couldn’t see anything but stars and a far away light from a local canteen. I had to laugh at the fact that it was something I hadn’t realized I had to get used to. 

I quickly learned to live without most “essential” amenities. However, some things were a lot harder to get used to. I worked at a health center, so would hear about Rwandans dying as often as new babies were born; daily. Reasons for their deaths were, at times, things that could have been prevented with adequate yet missing resources.  For example, diarrhea is the number one killer of children under 5; due to not having access to clean water, food, and medicine. This fact, more than ever before, made me realize we are not promised another day. I wanted to be closer to the people I love, that was my true happiness, I learned that and so much from Rwandans. 

I met some of the most genuine, selfless, attentive, and hard working people I have met in my life. One of my coworkers fed me every night for an entire month until I got my stove to finally work. And she had me over with no hesitation; time spent with her and her house maid/mate, were some of the most rewarding of my time in Rwanda. Whenever I needed directions or help with anything, people would stop what they were doing and assist me immediately. I cannot imagine many busy people in Los Angeles giving foreigners (or even natives) a second look let alone offering their time to help. I learned how to give.

As humans, we tend not to realize how good we have it, until we experience less. Our generation is losing emotional and physical connection due to technology. Naturally, we always want more, but in the pursuit of our individual success, we should take some time for others as well.  It’s extremely hard to sum up the highlights of this life-changing experience in this piece of writing. But I hope by you reading this that at least one of four things will happen: you count your blessings, go out and do something out of your comfort zone, do something for someone who cannot repay you, and/or tell the people you love and appreciate how you feel about them (in person).

 Thank you for reading and feel free to contact me about anything.
Former Peace Corps Volunteer/Hermana at UCSB, Maurisabel Quevedo. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Overbearing Parent

I have always hated confrontation. I avoid it at all cost. And then I became a mom and the passive me is something overtaken by the mama-bear me. When it comes to my kids I will always have an urge to protect and stick up for them. Recently I attempted to talk to Phi's teacher about her math grade. Her response was not only unhelpful but discouraging and left me upset and disappointed. I have vented to my close friends and then on my personal blog about the incident. One thing that I have yet to do is discuss it with the teacher.

Chances are I will not bring it up to the teacher. I will swallow my anger and focus on the real issue. I have this awful fear of becoming that overbearing parent that teachers hate. The one that they hate so much that they can't help but project those feelings onto the child. As a parent I find that I am riding a fine line between being involved and being overbearing. If I stood back and did not get involved I would be accused of laying the full responsibility of my kids education on the teachers. But if I become too involved then I am the overbearing parent who doesn't trust the teacher to do their job.

In the end I hope that we all have the same goal, and that is to provide the best education possible. To believe in and support our students and help them learn all they need to know.

Are you a parent who feels this fine line when it comes to your childs education?
Are you a teacher who knows what it's like to deal with both kinds of parents? 
We want to hear from you! Leave us a comment! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What Inspires You? Best. Quotes. Ever.

Love, love, love this first quote. No human being is perfect but when I think of this, I remember to be the best me in all areas. This also moves me to be true to myself first and foremost. What I do in one area I'll do in all others, good or bad. I become more self-aware and suddenly I am moved to try my best in all areas of life. Suddenly, I become balanced and better.

I can be the worst listener and I love to talk. I know that about me. I read this in a book once and it literally changed my entire way of being. Believing in these three simple questions allows me to think before I speak and actually appreciate silence (and decide to open my mouth if, and only if, I am improving on the silence.)

This is often mis-credited as a Nelson Mandela quote. The entire quote is from larger excerpt from a Marianne Williamson book. These beautifully crafted words remind us to live out the greatness within and to never, ever, ever dim the brightness of our own light. This quote goes on to state something to the effective of, never lessen your greatness for anything or anyone. That is truly inspiring in a world that can bring us down more than it lifts us up.

Now isn't this the truth? I am not perfect, but I do love living by a no-excuses policy. Professionally, I work with youth where I find that many teens usually lead conversations with excuses. Sadly, they can also hide behind them. This tendency leaves them powerless and it's a lifelong habit that so many teens carry well-into adulthood. When we remove excuses we become wholeheartedly present and fully accountable. 

This entire passage moves me to the core. I can be a worrier, I know that about me, but then I think of these simple words. Reading them leaves me suddenly grounded. And this doesn't have to be about God for everyone. For some, prayer can be meditation while for others it's enlisting in the Law of Attraction. Whatever it takes to become centered, do it. To me, this is one of those quotes that inspires me in the direction of faith and calms the useless habit of worrying.

What are your all time favorite/inspirational quotes? Share those below...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Anti-Photoshop Pop Star!

Yes, you read that title correctly. A current pop star recently went on Twitter to call out some touched up photos of herself. Lorde is a teenage pop singer from New Zealand. Her first hit "Royals" was all over the radio and her follow up single is doing just as well. She recently tweeted these two photos of herself from the exact same event.

She added

 " i find this curious - two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real. remember flaws are ok :-)"

As the mother of 2 young girls I find this so refreshing. Everywhere my girls look there are overly photoshopped photos giving my girls the impression that only perfection is acceptable in our society. Photoshopping images has gotten so out of hand that Target was recently in hot water for having this picture in an ad. 

Talk about unrealistic expectations! 

So now besides loving Lorde's music (it's a really great album) I love the message she is putting out there. Instead of insisting on photoshopped images, she is speaking out against them and is proud of the real her. 

What's your take on Lorde's anti-photoshop perspective?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Can Guys and Girls Really be JUST Friends?

I've always thought the answer to this question was "yes... of course." Then I reflect and realize the only guy friend I have is my husband. Now, I do have a few male co-workers past and present that I've considered friends, but co-workers are almost in our lives by default (no offense co-worker pals). Truth be told, I've never had a guy friend that was nothing more than a just a friend. I can see looking back that most "just friends" situations ended with one or both of us expressing an attraction that went beyond friendship. 

Honestly, this attraction ruined perfectly good friendships. I had a guy in my life many moons ago who I just enjoyed spending time with. He was such fun and the most reliable go-to-guy. Then he dropped the bomb and not that I didn't suspect it. He said he loved me. I knew he didn't necessarily love me, but he wanted to be removed from the friend-zone, stat. This was especially tough because after I said I knew what his feelings were and I didn't feel the same, we lost our natural friendship. Things became awkward and I resented him for that.

My husband believes wholeheartedly that men and women aren't ever just friends. Of course there can be exceptions: a gay man and a woman can definitely be friends, couples where husbands and wives (or unmarried couples) become close can be honest to goodness friends, but other than that, men and women are usually into each other for reasons which will eventually blossom into more than friendship. 

Could it be? Is there no such thing as platonic male/female friendships? Do those friendships eventually lead to attraction and coupling relationships? We'd love to hear from our readers on this topic...

Do you believe a gal and a guy can be platonic friends and nothing else? Why or why not?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Project: Breastfeeding Dads Campaign

Breastfeeding has always been a women's issue. I mean they have the boobs so it's their issue right. Well not according to Hector Cruz, the founder and photographer for "Project Breastfeeding". This photo project was created to help diminish the stigma of public breastfeeding as well as educate and encourage both men and women. At first glance these pictures were a bit odd but they were suppose to be odd. They are meant to start conversations.

Hector Cruz was a first time father who felt frustrated, confused and helpless when it came to caring for his new baby. He knew that if he felt this way, then other dads must feel the same way. He started this photography project and was amazed at the response he got. There were many men out there who wanted to be a part of this campaign and because of where he lived, many of them are military men.

The slogan for this campaign is "I would if I could". Such a simple statement that really sums up how first time father feel. I can remember my husband saying during those hard and confusing first few months as parents. These photos really capture how this new generations of dads are becoming more involved. My own father has really seen how different fathering has become. My father has 3 children and 5 grandchildren and has never changed a diaper. It was just never his "job". In our family my husband was the stay-at-home parent for years. It is safe to say he has changed more diapers than I have.

It is not just the physical caring that fathers are more involved in. They want to be with their children more, to be more involved in their education and helping to raise well-rounded individuals. I think this shift is so amazing and will help to raise more strong and independent children.

What do you think of the photo project? 
Leave us a comment! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Pagemaster: Comic Book Review - Guest Post by Lawrence Maminta

There's something so great about a comic book! We are very excited to have Lawrence Maminta as a guest contributor today. Lawrence kindly shares his insights and overall recommendation of the award winning comic book: American Born Chinese. 

Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese is an award-winning comic book (or, “graphic novel”) that follows three characters through seemingly disparate stories.  One story is about a monkey looking to obtain status as an immortal god; another follows a boy who is the only Chinese-American student at his school. The third is presented as a low-brow television sitcom featuring a popular blue-eyed Caucasian student whose cousin, visiting from China, embarrasses him to the point of shame.

For the most part, American Born Chinese is humorous and light-hearted.  The colors in the book are bright and the characters are drawn almost like cartoons in order to appeal to young people. This approach, however, allows Yang to address the subject of racial identity without being didactic or preachy.  Although most stories about preteens and adolescents deal with subjects like identity and alienation, what separates American Born Chinese from other children's books is how it confronts racial stereotyping.

The sitcom story is perhaps the most obvious example, presenting a Chinese caricature named “Chin-kee” sporting a straw rice hat and buck teeth.  His heavily accented one-liners and exaggerated physicality elicits applause from an off-camera studio audience and in addition to mixing up his “L” and “R” sounds, Chin-kee is also an excellent student who constantly raises his hand to answer questions in every subject.

Although the 21st-century reader may cringe at this depiction, it is important to note that it is this same image that has been propagated throughout American media since the 1800s.  The Chin-kee character forces the reader to call into question the idea of whether or not there is such a thing as a “positive” stereotype since his display of academic excellence tends to fall in line with the idea of the “model minority.”  This thematic element unites all three stories and is only the clearest instance.  The subtlety in which Yang weaves these ideas throughout the book is what makes it worth reading. 

American Born Chinese is still a fun read and widely accessible. Children will likely find the mythic story of the Monkey King most entertaining while teens may relate to the struggles faced by the book's two high school students.  Earning an Eisner award and a spot on Time Magazine's “Top Ten Comics of the Year” makes American Born Chinese an easy recommendation.

Publisher:  First Second Books
Year:  2006
Writer and Artist:  Gene Luen Yang
Colorist:  Lark Pien

Read a good book lately or watched a great film? 
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reasons to Keep a Journal

I have kept a journal since I was in about 4th grade. Back them my entries were all about friend drama and cute boys. My journals have been cute pink books with key locks, to spiral notebooks and to the current super cute Pendleton notebook I carry with me.

There are many benefits to keeping a journal. Here are just a few...

  • Your journal can be a safe, judgement free place to vent your frustrations. A place to say all those things you are too afraid to say out loud.  
  • Writing a journal can help you reduce your stress levels. 
  • By writing about your day and thoughts you can help stay focused in your goals. 
  • Journals are a perfect place to keep track of your goals, whether it be personal or career. 
  • Keep track of your bucket list. A journal is a great way to keep track of all those "once in a lifetime" events. 
  • We juggle so many personas during the day, journaling is a great way to stay in touch with the real you. 
  • Of course a journal is a great way to go back and relive and remember good times in your life. One of my favorite things to re-read is the time in my life when my husband and I were falling in love. 
  • A journal is a way to preserve your history. You never know when you will become rich and famous and the world will want to know about your life. 
  • Writing everyday is a great way to help develop your writing skills.
  • Taking the time during the day to reflect is a great way to see the good in everyday.
  • If you ever find yourself in a legal mess you can use your journal to remember dates and times. 
  • Write down your dreams, no matter how big they are! 
Do you keep a journal? 
How long have you been journaling? 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

5K: Fun for the Entire Family

UCLA Move and Groove 5K

I'm not much of a runner. I'm active, sure. But my usual exercise routine doesn't include steady and consistent running. Then out of the blue my husband signed he and I up for our first 5K run.

A 5K is little more than 3 miles. It shouldn't be intimidating and it's really a run/walk. Well that means nothing to my hubby. From the start we weren't walking, we were running. Also, we were expected to train. On our first "training" run I realized he could run a steady 5K and barely crack a sweat. I was in for it!

These training runs began just 30 days or so before the actual event. I thought for certain I wouldn't be able to hang. I was wrong!

I made it to race day with only a handful of training sessions done and realized this event was more about having a fun family experience. Sure I managed to run my best time and actually RAN about 98% of the time, but what I really got out of this was a desire to be active in this organized fashion and always include my entire family.

My in-laws, sister-in-law and three kids participated this time around and we all loved it. The energy of the crowds, the beautiful UCLA backdrop, even the early morning wake up call, there was something so fun and bonding about the whole thing. On race day, I enjoyed running and keeping up with my hubby. Listening to my sis cheer me on kept be running. Beyond all else, I was thrilled watching my excited 7 year old happily cheer for us as we crossed the finish line! 

So, I'm still not much of a runner, but I'm always up for family fun. We loved it so much we're ready for more 5K action, a 10K down the road and eventually half marathon action! The next 5K run our 7 year old will likely run, too. Let's hope he doesn't cream momma's time though he probably will.

Have you run a 5 or 10k... how about a half or full marathon? Share your experience, too.