Monday, June 30, 2014

Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Recipes

These days it's so easy to pick up a ready-made whole chicken from any grocery story deli. Some local eateries even deliver whole roasted chickens in minutes. As great as a yummy rotisserie chicken is on its own, below are few recipes to turn rotisserie chicken into a little something extra... 

1. Chicken Salad! I have a simple recipe for this one. Shred your roasted chicken into thin shreds, add lite mayo, diced purple onion, green bell pepper, salt and pepper. This simple recipe is delish and always a family favorite at parties. Serve over Hawaiian bread rolls with a little honey or spicy mustard and viola!

2. Chicken Enchiladas! Again shred your warm roasted chicken & set it aside. Heat 10-12 tortillas then lightly fry them. Coat those tortillas with canned enchilada-sauce and stuff them with the warm shredded chicken, a mexican cheese blend, diced onion, a sprinkle of oregano and red wine vinegar. Add your rolled enchiladas to a baking dish. Coat all enchiladas with a layer of chese and bake until cheese is fully melted.

3. BBQ Chicken Pizza! Grab a ready made pizza crust, drizzle the crust with sweet BBQ sauce, add shredded chicken, finely sliced purple onion rounds, cheese blend, garnish with cilantro or chives (add minced garlic for an extra kick). Bake as directed on pizza crust label and you're set! 

4. Chicken, biscuits and gravy! Bake your favorite homemade biscuits, slice those open, stuff with shredded chicken, veggies of your choice (we love corn kernels, diced carrots and snap-peas), then cover chicken and veggies with a layer of warm gravy.  Return biscuit top to chicken, gravy and veggie center, and coat with another light dollop of gravy. And just like that this delicious meal is ready to serve.

How easy were these chicken leftover recipes? 
Share your favorite leftover chicken recipes in the comment section below!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Current Obsessions


Really? This is the last Friday of June! Crazy! Here are our current obsessions! 

Irene:

World Cup: This large sporting event happens every four years and it always brings such excitement. Being from a soccer-loving family we clearly get into the World Cup, but lately it's been amazingly addicting. First, a crazy USA game draped in red, white and blue and then a loud, enthusiastic Mexico game viewing party. The excitement doesn't stop there, feels like we're watching every game possible and I love our collective soccer obsession!

Sam Smith: He. Is. Amazing. It's been a while since I've had to play an album on chronic repeat. His soulful voice and lyrics make me want to curl up by the fire with the one I love. There's also such melancholy in his words. I can't believe this UK national is this good at only 22 years old. Check him out if you haven't. My favorite songs include "Latch" and "Lay Me Down". Plus, he has an awesome cover of Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know" everyone needs to listen to.

Coffee Bean: Dare I Say It? This place is better than Starbucks. Wish they had as many drive-thrus as their competitor. They have a large tea latte assortment, delicious sugar-free options and now serve amazing breakfast sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum. 


Elissa: 

EOS Lip Balm: I was never the type to be addicted to lip balm, until I got my first EOS (evolution of smooth) lip balm. First off they are so cute! They look like a little colorful egg in your purse. This lip balm is all natural and even filled with antioxidants. But what really got me was all the awesome flavors! With choices like Strawberry Sorbet or Sweet Mint you are sure to find something perfect for you.

Sweet Tea: more specifically sweet tea in a mason jar. This country music kick I have been on is starting to filter into the rest of my life. I found myself watching Nashville and now drinking sweet tea. This southern staple is perfect for the hot summer days. And if you are in a party mood, a splash of honey whiskey really ups the country factor!

Off-Roading: A few months back my husband bought a Land Cruiser with the intentions of taking us on off-roading excursions. I was very skeptical at first. I was hooked after our first trip. These off-road adventures are such a great thing for the family to do together, get outdoors, and see the beauty our area has to offer. And with the summer heat starting, it is great to head up a mountain and get some relief from the heat!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Better Communication Skills for the Workplace



Are you struggling with how to communicate effectively with employees, peers or your employer? Today, I list some of the pitfalls of poor communication and strategies to improve this very important workplace skill.  

1. Listen more - I'm not the best listener. I know this about myself. I work on this skill, daily. Just ask my husband. In recent years, I've been able to listen more in the workplace by doing the following: a) give undivided attention with eye contact and an engaging body language b) stop to think before I actually speak (such an underutilized skill). When I take the time to think before I speak, I end up worrying less about a rebuttal, adding unnecessary details, or sharing an unessential nugget of "expertise." Often leaders' communication style leads to overkill or co-workers and peers talk all about themselves adding unessential details without actually listening to one another. Too much is said and not enough active-listening actually happens. A good leader manages a fairly balanced communication strategy that includes a lot of listening.

2. Ask Questions - This is a wonderful skill to truly understand views and hash-out areas of concern. Too often dialogue occurs in a state of assumptive mis-communication or defensiveness during tough discussions. I recently had a director tell me they couldn't lead their team until their "bosses" got better. I immediately asked, "let me see if I'm clear, you won't be the best leader for your team until something OUT OF YOUR CONTROL changes with your leaders?" This director immediately back-peddled and hearing such a question likely heightened how illogical that strategy seemed. Moral of the story: don't rush to speak, listen actively, and then begin asking questions to become as clear as possible of all points.

3.  Be Brutally Honest (hard but essential) - I get a lot of push back when I'm completely honest. I also get judged. I become a representative for others who complain but wouldn't dare share their honest feelings. I get let down, and sometimes, I get results. Did you notice all the different outcomes of honesty? Sure, it's hard to be brutally honest, but if done respectfully and to improve upon a situation the outcome is worth the uncomfortable feeling that comes with sharing some of the tough opinions that must be expressed. Being direct, clear and honest is a sign of professional maturity, so go for it, and don't bite your tongue. But remember, use respectful tones and body language when expressing challenging truths.

4. Deal Direct - Sometimes what must be communicated gets hidden in vague statements, or worse, email! Speak directly and in-person when dealing with tough topics. This style of communication avoids falling into the pitfall of misunderstanding someone's point because you're simply reading emotionless lines in a memo, bulletin or email. Speaking in-person one-on-one also helps you develop all of the above skills: listening actively, asking questions, and being brutally honest.

5. Stay Positive and Make Things Look Easy - One sure way to alienate a team and strain communication is by being a "Negative Nelly." Ever had a co-worker, employee or employer who only speaks in excuses with bitterness, or worse, share complaint after complaint without offering solutions or constructive feedback? These folks sometimes have no clue this is even how they communicate making their job look anything but easy. Don't fall into this trap, too. This only lessens the opportunity for effective, honest and open communication in the work environment that fulfills all who are apart of it. 

There you have it: 5 tips to think about for better communication in the workplace. 
Share more tips or your comments below.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Some Tips on Catching Some ZZZZ's



I am the kind of person who falls asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

1. Keep a Schedule: Try to go to bed and get up at the same time everyday. Even weekends. By keeping a schedule your can make sure that your body gets the right amount of rest it needs.

2. Keep It Cool: the optimal room temperature for sleeping is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. That is pretty cool, but it is a perfect temp to snuggle in a comforter.

3. Light and Your Circadian Rhythm: circadian rhythm is a fancy way of saying body clock. Your body is trained to know that dark means sleep time and light means wakey-wakey time. A way to make sure your clock stays working properly avoid brightly lit devices for about an hour before bed. Yes this means cell phones and tablets. Another way is to expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning.

4. Sleep & Sex Zone Only: I am talking about your bed! As tempting as it is to work, watch television and fold laundry in bed it's not a good idea. Keep your bed springs only for the hibbity-bibbity and sleep.

5. Get Out of Bed: yes, you read that right! When you cannot get to sleep laying there and stressing about it can make it worse. Get up and find a dimly lit activity to do. Then do it until it makes you tired and head back to bed.

What are some of your go-to sleep remedies? 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Orange is the New Black... Yay or Nay?


We're talking two shows on HerMamas.com this week! Must mean there's plenty of great TV to view, or in this case, shows to stream! Show streaming is such a hot concept. We've seen hits such as House of Cards, Arrested Development and of course the wildly popular Orange is the New Black.

Are you a fan of OITNB? I usually get the same reaction from people: "That show is amazing!" In fact, OITNB just won a critics' choice award. The show's premise is based on a novel by the same name that depicts a woman's real life incarceration. 

Do you give this show two thumbs up, too?

I'm on the fan-loving side of this debate. Like most viewers I binged on the entire 2nd season in one weekend. It's that good in my opinion. Both seasons are currently available on netflix. 

Sure, in season two there was plenty of nudity and there's the usual medley of harsh exchanges and explicit dialogues, but isn't that prison? Life in prison isn't pretty, at least I assume as much.

This show has a great way of incorporating so many different individuals lives into different episodes. The depth and struggle of each character is revealed and we understand how they've each ended up in the system. There's also plenty of laughter!  That's likely not similar to an actual prison system, but it allows the viewing audience to stay engaged and rooting for women who struggle to make it through life.

Are you a fan of this show? Share your likes and dislikes below!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Playing House on USA


I love all forms of entertainment, television included. Of course now a days I watch most things on-demand because I only get very little windows of time to watch and it is mostly on my tablet. The rest of my family has taken over the television with MMA fighting, American Ninja Warrior and I hear Wipeout is coming back.

With all my usual shows on break for the summer I have had to force myself to find some new shows to veg out to. Recently Lennon Parham was a guest on a parenting podcast I listen to. She was so funny and I loved her laid back parenting advice. While on the show she gave a very humble plug to her new comedy show on the USA network called "Playing House". I had to check it out.

This show is about 2 best friends Maggie and Emma, who grew up in a small town. One goes off to become a big business women in Japan, and the other stays in the home town to get married and pregnant. When Emma comes home for a Maggie's baby shower a technical mishap leads to the whole party witnessing Maggie's husband cheating with a woman from Germany. Maggie kicks her cheating husband to the curb and Emma leaves her job to move in with her BFF.

The show is hilarious with lots of witty and smart adult humor. There is one episode called "spaghetti and meatballs" that is an ode to the movie Magic Mike. What I love most about this show is that Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair are not only the stars, creators and writers of the show but they are best friends in real life. That chemistry is so obvious on camera and in the script of this show. They have a hilarious language of their own that reminds me so much of me and my BFF's. One of my best friends (who is a guy!) and I talk to each other like we are 13 year old girls so the episode called "Totes Kewl" was one of my favorites!

What are you watching this summer?


Friday, June 20, 2014

Learning, Teaching and Entertaining Thanks to The World Cup

World Cup mania is in full swing! I love all the hype around one of my family's favorite sports. Sure, the World Cup only comes around every four years, but much like the Olympics, all the hype is contagious and fun.



My husband loves soccer so naturally the World Cup is taking over our television  and with so many games (four a day) there's always a team to root for. As I type this, my son and I are cheering on USA vs Ghana! Soccer is an exciting sport, and if you've got little ones watching the World Cup, it is a great opportunity to teach them about diversity, different cultures and countries.


Just yesterday as we watched Argentina take on Bosnia and Herzegovina we talked about both countries with our oldest son. We goggled some facts and started learning together. It's really such a great idea to use this massive sporting event to teach and learn. There's even an app for the FIFA World Cup that not only talks match ups, but has short cartoonish videos highlighting facts about countries in the tournament. 


This whole concept of diversity and sports would make for some fun weekend activities for kids and adults alike. Kids can do arts and crafts pertinent to the countries competing in certain matches (i.e. decorating colorful flags like the Ghanaian one in this post).  Adults can indulge in music, food and drinks standard to the countries they're watching play. To illustrate, I actually have a family member who is incorporating soccer into his birthday party next weekend. The party will include a soccer tournament. It's like a mini-world-cup among  friends!

If you're looking to entertain over the next few weekends use the World Cup to learn, entertain, teach and have some creative fun, too! 

Share your World Cup party tips with us!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Breastfeeding Selfies

Actress Jamie King is the most recent of  many celebrities posting breastfeeding selfies.



First we had blogs, then tweets, then instagramming your lunch, then duckface selfies, and now we are seeing a new trend......

breastfeeding selfies.



Yes they are what you think, moms are posting to instagram, twitter and facebook photos of themselves breastfeeding. Seriously,  #breastfeedingselfie is a thing.

This is becoming such commonplace that recently Facebook changed it's policy on nipple exposure. Before the change a mother breastfeeding with an exposed nipple was considered obscene and would be removed. The new policy allows female nipple in photos of breastfeeding moms.

Many post these photos as a way to encourage other breastfeeding moms and to demonstrate that breastfeeding is natural and not something to be hidden away or ashamed of. When my youngest was a newborn selfies were just gaining momentum. I remember taking a breastfeeding selfie, but never did I think about posting it on social media. To me breastfeeding felt like such an intimate thing. I would also not post a selfie of making out with my husband.

What do you think about this new trend? 
Is this a great way to raise awareness, or TMI? 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

End of School Year Questionnaire

My son wrapped up second grade just shy of a week ago. It was one of those bittersweet days that reminds me how quickly he's growing up. That night we let him pick dinner take-out. He picked his favorite food and just as we began to settle into a great meal my husband began...

Question # 1: What is something you did this year that you will remember the rest of your life? I thought, what a great question! And suddenly realized my husband had a whole questionnaire printed and ready to go for dinner conversation!

The questions covered everything from favorite books to impactful people! It was a good time to reflect on challenges and milestones. We also got to express gratitude for what my son enjoyed and learned in second grade. 

This questionnaire turned out to be such a great idea! My favorite was when my husband came across questions that stumped our son. This allowed me to think back to the many stories my son shared with us throughout second grade. With his permission I shared my two cents and we were all answering questions. There was one particular story where my son overcame bullying and it was nice to see how far we'd come from that incident. 

This simple questionnaire was a great walk down memory lane and it got us planning for next year. Goggle end-of- school-year questions or simply use the photo below and get to recapping your child's year, too...



How did you celebrate the end of the school year with your children? 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Instagram Updates

As you know we love social media! Last week my favorite photo sharing site Instagram came out with a really great update. They gave their users a lot more control when it comes to editing photos. I was very excited so I wanted to share some of my favorite new features.

When you go to edit a photo you will notice that the filter buttons are a little bigger and there are 3 options on the top. The one on the left that looks like a wand is where you go to get back to your filters.


You now have more control over your filters!  By double tapping on the filter of your choosing allows you to increase or decrease the strength of your filter. From this screen you can also add a border. Each filter comes with it's own border.


The little wrench on your home editing screen is where are all the new magic is!  When you click here you get 10 options. Some new and some old favorites!



With these options you can now manipulate:
adjustment
brightness
contrast
warmth
saturation
highlights
shadows
vignette
tilt shift
sharpness

Now the downside is that it might take you twice as long to upload a photo with all the new options. The upside is that you can now make unique photos. 


Have you updated your Instagram?
What do you think of the new features? 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fresh Summertime Recipes

Summer is finally around the corner! When I think of this time of year, I envision lounging in the yard with fresh food, an ice-cold drink and my kids enjoying water play. If you're looking for a little inspiration for your summertime recipes, you've come to the right blog. I'm ready to indulge in my favorite summer recipes and you should too. 

1. Pineapple Salsa: 

Combine:
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 large lime

Splash of orange juice
Salt, to taste


Enjoy with authentic tortilla chips and you'll be licking your fingers AND the bowl. 

2. Homemade Bruschetta: 



Combine:

6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs), diced.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Enjoy over freshly baked french bread slices. 

3. Shrimp Ceviche:

Combine:
1/2 lb. store-bought cooked shrimp (thawed)
1 large tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 a jalapeƱo pepper, minced (optional)
1/2 an avocado, cubed
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime Juice

Enjoy over delicious tostadas and serve with lime wedges!

4. Cucumber Lime Cocktail (very yummy without Tequila, too):
Combine in Blender:
Lime Juice 
Peeled Cucumber 
Ice 
Pour Puree Over
Squirt or Club Soda and Tequila (optional)

Serve in glass with sugar-coated rim and ENJOY! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How do you pick the perfect gift for dad?

This year, I was feeling a little stumped in the gift department. I wanted to get my husband the perfect gift that shows him we're thoughtful, grateful and excited to share another year celebrating him. But just as the creative gift giving ideas start flowing, I end up with the most practical plan: ties... books... socks! Borrring, I know!

Truthfully, my hubby is actually hard to shop for. He likes plain things and though that might sound simple enough, it isn't! I usually go with the shirt that had one too many colors or strips. The shoes that were a tad bit too juvenile or downright old school. In fact, the last gift I gave my husband ended in a fight because I just saw it in his eyes... the gift wasn't right!  

This Father's Day, I've decided to do things a little different. If I'm lucky the hubby is very behind on reading these blogs and I don't give anything away (sorry hon!). This year I'm going with an experience and a goal as our theme.

Firstly, I didn't purchase him a gift! I purchased him an experience/outing. Something different for the two of us to enjoy. Sure, it's without the kids, but it's unique. Plus, I don't have to worry about picking out a gift he won't like. The experience I chose for us was the brain-baby of Groupon. Gotta love Groupon! Thanks to a deal I snagged online, we're visiting a local place called "Paint and Pour." We'll get to paint on canvas and have a few glasses of wine while we do. This gift shouldn't lead to disappointment. 

Next, comes the goal! As a gift to my husband, I'm going to finish a project for him (enlisting the kids with this one)! I know my hubby, and he often has one too many projects underway. I thought to myself, this year what better gift than the gift of helping him meet a goal! Our three kids and I are completing this project together for dad! It'll be great to surprise the husband by completing something for HIM especially since he's always doing so much for US! Again, another spin on the classic "gift" that shouldn't disappoint!

How do you decide on the right gift for dad? Share your tips below!


Remember, you still have one more day to submit posts or comments about a special dad in your life! 
Doing so will enter you to win an Amazon gift card! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our Favorite TV Dads


Over the years there have been many different Dads to come alive on our television. From Homer Simpson to Mike Brady and everyone in between. Since we are celebrating dads this week we wanted to share a few of our all-time favorite TV dads.

Irene: 

Cliff Huxtable from the Cosby Show: This character is classic TV dad! He really takes the cake for being quite possibly the funniest, most authentic and loving version of TV dad in the history of television! I appreciated all of Cliff's lessons as I grew up watching. I could truly identify with so many Cosby Show story lines. Of course, I also found it refreshing that the Huxtable's were intelligent, hardworking people of color. It was as close as I got to a family looking like my own, and deep down, I always wanted a dad like Cliff!  

Leo Boykewich from The Secret Life of the American Teenager: this show often felt slightly too cheesy to me, until Leo spoke! His parental advice always struck a chord for me. I felt the sincere parental guidance from this character to the point that I felt like a better parent after watching this TV dad in action.  Plus his sentiments were usually shared in the most loving and non-judgemental way. I loved how this character was also a father-figure to other characters on the show and a single dad... there was just such depth to this TV pop!

Walter White From Breaking Bad: this is one bad-a$$ dad! Sure, he was completely crazed at the end of the five amazing seasons of this show, but if there's one thing Walter did, that was to fight for his family! He wanted so hard to believe that he was breaking laws to secure the life of his family, above all else. Even until the end, in his own conniving way, he found a method to provide financially for his wife and children. Walter fought and fought and fought to earn and save every hard-earned, illegal penny and did it for his family (& him too)!

Elissa: 


Professor Russell Lawrence from Gidget: As a little California kid I loved this show. I especially loved the relationship between Gidget and her Dad. Professor Lawrence is a widower who was left with 2 daughters. Now because this show was from the mid 1960's there are some gender role issues (Gidget does all the cooking!) but all in all I love how close Gidget and her Dad are. He was strict but always ended up understand Gidget and all her crazy schemes. He was able to be the protecting Dad and the shoulder for Gidget to always lean on.

Danny Tanner from Full House: I was obsessed with this show. Watching 3 sisters interact was something I could relate to, but Danny Tanner was the ultimate Dad. He broke the stereotype of the working Dad. For the first time that I can remember I saw a Dad take on both parent roles. Also a widower you often found Mr. Tanner in the kitchen with an apron on, or his favorite, cleaning like a madman. And you could not beat the awesome talks that Danny Tanner gave. He dropped parenting lecture bombs every episode.

Mike Heck from The Middle: This is from a currently running show that my 9 year old and I love to watch together. I think what I love most about Mike Heck is how real he seems. A hard working Dad who rarely shows emotion but everything he does is for his wacky family. I think I like him so much because he reminds me a little of my husband. He seems unemotional and out of touch with his feelings, but we all know that deep down there is a squishy loving center.

What are some of your favorite TV Dads? 
Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When One Parent Becomes TWO: An Ode to Single Parents

Every father's day I give my mother a gift. She was (and is) my dad after all. Sure, I knew my dad growing up, I was with him recently when he was nearing the end of his life, and he has to be one of the funniest men I've ever known, but he wasn't the father a child needs. He was absent, unavailable and selfish, but not my mom, she was dad enough for the both of them!

My mother was and still is my father in every sense of the word. She was up late nights caring for me during those usual childhood bouts with flu. She paid the catholic school tuition and those extras that came with me wanting to travel and become a cheerleader. She drove me to college, dropping me off and crying for the entire duration of her two-hour ride back home. She gave me the advice and provided the parental lectures (lectures that still apply today)! She set the rules and enforced them. She did everything for us... for all of her 6 children. My mother was our provider. She once even worked a day and night shift job to provide, losing sleep, scraping by with pennies and eventually working and saving enough to become a homeowner! Doing it all ALONE! She was mother and she was father.

I look at my children today and don't know how I could ever do this without my husband. We are opposite forces with our own special contributions to parenthood, we are a support system, and logistically, we make parenthood work without losing our collective minds. However, my mother did it all solo. She was the mother and the father providing, loving and guiding. She even was so kind to teach us kids to love, respect and want to know our absent father. What a woman! So this father's day, I'll do what I always do and give my mother a little gift and a long visit to show her just how much her single-motherhood meant to me then and means to me now!

On the other end of this, is my friend Justin. He recently was awarded full custody of his 4 year old daughter. When I met Justin many years ago he was the typical single guy living the single life. When he become a father there was a definite shift in his priorities, but it was when he became a single full-time Dad that his entire life shifted.

Justin moved across the country to be with his daughter. When him and his ex's realtionship ended, the easy thing would have been to come back home. To come back to his family and the life he knew. For Justin this was never an option, he was not going to leave his daughter, in fact he was going to fight for her. After years Justin now has full custody of his daughter. I follow his life on social media and his home is filled with princess dishes and princess movies play on his television as much as sports. It is obvious in everything he does that his priority in life is his little girl. He takes her to school, brushes her hair, makes her meals. All the things that traditionally would be a "Moms" job, Justin does, everyday.

Do you know a parent pulling double duty? Remember, we'll be sharing stories about dads all week. Feel free to submit shout outs for those mommas who wear both the mom and dad hat (and vice versa)!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Father's Day Week!

Here at HerMamas, we love the opportunity to celebrate all the dads out there! Sunday is Father's Day and we will be talking all about dads all week long! We will give you a look into some of the dads we admire, from our real life and even television.

We want to hear from you! We want to hear why the dads in your life are the best! There are lots of different ways to share your stories and/or photos of the dads in your life with us!
  • email us at elissa@hermamas.com!
  • leave a comment on any post this week!
  • Post a note or picture on our Facebook wall
We can't wait to hear from you! Give the dads in your life some props! 
To make the deal even sweeter...
 for every submission we get you will be entered to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card! 

Oh Gwyneth Paltrow, Please Stop!


Gwyneth Paltrow has been in the headlines a lot lately. 

I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of hers, but I respected her talent and thought she and I had at least a couple of things in common such as motherhood and marriage. That was about it. Like most celebrities their worlds can be so far removed from the lives of everyday people. They have loads of money, an abundance of special treatment coming their way and lives non-celebrities don't get to experience.

The reason Gwyneth has been in the headlines isn't due to a film or acting project, but because she can't seem to keep her insensitive mouth shut. First she had the audacity to say something to the effect of how motherhood was harder on her as an actress. Really? I mean her movie set schedule is likely quite different, but to claim us "regular working moms have it easier!" That is unreal. I'm sure us "regular moms" would really enjoy those fat paychecks of hers in exchange for her "harder" role as a mother. Her lifestyle likely affords big homes, nannies, assistants... the whole enchilada. How in the heck could motherhood be harder for her? That's just nuts.

Just when this controversial statement was fading from media headlines, Gwyneth goes and compares being attacked on social media to war... Yes,  WAR!!! Are you kidding me Gwenie? I felt the sting of her "regular mom has it easier" comment but what about those moms actually living in war-torn war zones? How could she think to compare something as minuscule as social media to that? Again, that's just nuts!

I am in no way attempting to be mean to Ms. Paltrow here, but come on. She's clearly missing something in the sensitivity department. After all, there is only so many public statements that can be spun as "taken out of context!" And this isn't the first time G.P. is critiqued for coming across as the mean girl herself! Some part of me is even beginning to believe this is all a publicity stunt, then again, actors' lives can be so different from societal norms that perhaps Gwyneth is actually missing a sense of sensitivity because she is a self-absorbed celebrity.

What do you think? 
Can this actress' apparent insensitivity and subsequent remarks actually be real? 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer Pregnancies

The other day I was at the store and saw a very pregnant woman. She looked like she was at those last few weeks of her pregnancy and she looked miserable. As Moms know those last few weeks are rough. You are so over being pregnant. You can't eat or sleep. Your feet have swelled to such an outragous size that even flip flops won't fit. Everything hurts and eceryone bugs you. Now combine that with the 100+ temperatures we have been having. No bueno!

My sister has 3 kids and they were all born in August. And the last 2 were twins. I thanked my lucky stars that both my kids were born in the spring time and I didn't have to suffer through a boiling hot summer while pregnant. Major props to all you mommas out there that have done it or are doing it now.

Here is a little funny video by What's Up Moms that many Moms can relate too!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Picking Your Kids' Friends

... is something you can't necessarily do. In fact, when kids become pre-teens what's done is done and they are definitely in control of who they consider friends. Hopefully by then children are ready to be self-confident, conscientious individuals who decide to associate with like-minded kids. To be clear, I believe all children are fundamentally good. However some are unfortunately raised in situations that lead to lifestyles choices that could be hazardous to them and others (i.e. drugs, bullying, gangs).

When I was in middle school I knew kids who experimented with heroine. Yes, heroine! That is nuts but not unheard of. I've never used an illegal drug in my life. Not one single drug. Not even a puff-puff give situation regardless of my college's crazy party school reputation. See, there was one thing my family's upbringing ingrained in me well: "say no to drugs!" 

Today, I hope to recreate that and so many other healthy boundaries for my own children. I won't be there when they pick their friends or make pre-teen choices. I will hopefully come to mind when they decide between good and bad. What I can control is teaching my children to be strong, open-minded and compassionate. Which brings me to the point of "picking" my kid's friends now that he's in grade-school. Now I didn't really pick my son's relationship with a certain new friend but I highly encouraged it and here's how:

My son recently took a liking to basketball. I knew of a child he had in class that always played b-ball with his father after school. In conversations with this kiddo he turned out to be so articulate and enjoyed interacting with others. He just seemed kind & wise beyond his second-grade years. I encouraged play dates with this young child and my son. Honestly, I saw something he could develop in my child: confidence with adults, basketball skills and independence. All things he clearly possessed.

After a few play dates my son mentioned how happy he was to spend time with this friend. He confessed that not all kids took to him, that other kids often called him annoying and he liked giving him a chance to be friends. I was shocked but I understood. This boy in my opinion was just more mature than his peers. I see that maturity that might have alienated him from his classmates. What I thought he could bring out in my own child was what maybe turned other kids off to him.

After this discussion with my son, this child's mother actually mentioned that these play dates meant a lot because her son struggled to make friends his own age. Turns out these boys were meeting needs for each other and helping in developing something the other child needed. Here I feel I decided on a relationship for my child that works (at least I'd like to think so). My son is open to this child, what makes him unique and vise versa! 

                                       
                                           
 Have you ever tried picking your kids' friends?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

School's Out For Summer!

Summer vacation officially started in our house. Did you know that during the summer kids lose about 1-2 months worth of their establish education level proficiency? Studies have shown that students score lower on standardized testing at the end of summer on the same test taken at the end of the school year. 

I have been trying to find a way to keep my kid learning during the summer without making her summer a total bore. I decided to stick with the basics: reading, writing and math. I came up with a weekly schedule for my soon to be 4th grader. 


When it comes to reading she can pick any book from the library she wants to read. We take a weekly trip to the library year-round so she can always find something to read. I chose Tuesdays for writing because during the summer we attend a Movie in the park on Monday nights. On Tuesday if she can't find something to write about she can always write about the movie. She can also write in a notebook or even type up a minimum of 10 complete sentences on her blog. Wednesday we will work on math. Since this was the hardest subject for my daughter this year we will spend the summer reviewing everything she learned. To make this more fun there are websites like multiplication.com that have fun games for practicing math. Since my daughter's school is project based I wanted a day where she can get the creative juices flowing. Friday's can be as simple as a watercolor painting or as complicated as a science project. 

Now let's see how well we can keep on schedule! 

What kinds of summer activities do you have planned? 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Maleficent - Movie Review



You might think you know the story of Sleeping Beauty, but after seeing this film what you "know" will be turned on its head.

This past weekend, I took my oldest child to see Maleficent starring Anglina Jolie. I thought this movie might be too dark for him. However, it was actually the right mixture of "scary" and "sentimental." Like most Disney fairytales this story is one of good versus evil as two competing lands battle to overpower the other.

Angelina does a wonderful job as Maleficent. We first meet her character as a young girl and that's where we begin to understand the complexities of who she is. As she grows up the world around her changes. This is something so many of us can relate to. She also falls in love. Another storyline that is familiar. 

In the end, I was actually rooting for her, her amazing powers and magical land. Sure, she's technically a villain, and I will not give the movie away here, but I enjoyed rooting for her along with my son. Doing so teaches him that "bad" isn't always "bad." 

All in all, I love how Disney was able to re-imagine the story of Sleeping Beauty. This movie is full of visual effects and sentiments that stir emotions about the definition of true love. One disclaimer: this movie could be too intense for children under six. Otherwise, this is a must see!