Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaching Touching Safety

There's a program in the catholic religion offered to children in catechism called "Teaching Touching Safety." It began as a response to recent and rampant abuse allegations in the Catholic Church. Catholic priests came under immense scrutiny for abusing children or hiding abuse of other priests. This happening to children is inexcusable. It's sad this is what the church has had to implement within children's curriculum, but still beneficial since the content may help any it reaches.

Many things came up for me as I learned about this program. Firstly, I was disappointed with the church's recently tarnished reputation. Next, I was happy that my children would be taught about safe versus unsafe touches, online safety techniques and anti-bullying principles. The lessons go well beyond avoiding molestation. 

Second, this curriculum got me thinking about vigilance in my own home. As a child I was left unsupervised a lot. I was also vulnerable and usually very lonely. These aspects of my upbringing were a recipe for disaster, but that doesn't mean my children have to suffer the same cycle of vulnerability. 

I took this opportunity to learn about how I can further open up lines of healthy communication with my kids. For starters, the hubby and I make sure not to ridicule our children and often ask them to share their day with us. We also cover a pretty standard "no one can touch your privates" policy. We cover what privates are and why a parent must be in the room if ever a doctor needs to see or touch their private parts.

Moreover, we remind our children to be confident in all things and speak up against any and everything that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is key for children. Confident children who are inquisitive are usually left alone by predatory adults seeking to harm them. For this reason, confidence 101 is a big lesson in our home. 

Just last night we talked with our son about how open we are to any and every conversation. Lately when we ask him about "liking girls" he gets awkward, so my hubby used this experience to explain that awkwardness is self-imposed and that as his parents we'll always strive to come from an open, non-judgmental place. We also reminded him that if someone ever asked him to "keep a secret" or "don't tell your parents" and such then that should be a big red flag!

What are your go-to talking points when preparing children to protect themselves from unsafe people or unsafe situations?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales


I fell in love with the artistry of artist and children's book author and illustrator Yuyi Morales years ago. I am always on the look out for culturally relevant books to read to my kids and one of our favorites is "Just in Case". We were very excited to see that she has a big list of other books that are just as funny and as visually stunning as the first one we read.

When I heard that Yuyi Morales was working on a book about Frida Kahlo, well I was a little bit excited. The book is now out. Yuyi has mixed her own signature drawing and paintings with her skills in doll making. The cover alone is amazing but the photos and drawings inside are absolutely breathtaking.

Seriously, I can't even handle how much I love this whole book. I want every page framed and hanging on my wall. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Current Obsessions


Friday Night Lights: As usual I am totally late to the game with this show. The best part of being so many years behind is that you can binge watch the entire show at once. Yes I have all 5 seasons just waiting for me to watch. I will not even admit how many episodes I have watched in a very short period of time. Now I didn't grow up in Texas, but football was a pretty big deal at my high school. I don't think I missed a home game in all the 4 years I was there. I also loved that all the kids call each other by their last name. We totally did that in high school.

You and Me by You+Me: I love Pink and she has just come out with a new project. She has a new collaboration with  Dallas Green of the band City and Colours out. This is the first single from the upcoming album and it is beautiful. The music and the lyrics just hit me in my soul. I am loving this new softer side of Pink.

Tajin: I am also late to the game with this Mexican fruit and vegetable seasoning. Maybe because I have just taken a liking to spicy things. They say your taste buds change every 7 years and my 7 years must be up. This summer we have consumed lots of sweet watermelon and we decided to try a bottle of tajin. My taste buds exploded with the amazing flavor combo of sweetness, salt and some heat from chili. We have since tried it on everything, including cherry vanilla ice cream. Surprisingly good!


Brian Tracy's Book: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: I'm all about self-help books and I have zero qualms with the perception of that. Most times it's almost looked down on as though the people reading these books are somehow down and out, low self-esteem types. For me, self-help books are wonderful tools to keep individuals focused on growth and progress in work, relationships, and in my case, as a parent. I got this book from the Barnes and Nobles clearance rack and it's been a great easy read. Reading it automatically puts me in a focused, no-nonsense and grateful mood. If you want a helpful, straightforward read on sucessful habits this book (or any by Brian Tracy) is a must. He's a great author and success coach.

Cleaning My Home: Seems like a funny thing to obsess over, but as of late, I am hooked. A clean home keeps me feeling organized and light. It's essential to my daily routine. Plus, I can have folks over at the drop of a hat. I love impromptu visits. I make sure to stay positive in my chronic tidiness (by not nagging about the task) and do it at times when it doesn't take away from family quality time.

Central and South America research: I once backpacked through Central America. I also studied about Latin America in college as part of my major. These moments became definitive in who I am today. Currently, I'm obsessed with moving my entire family abroad and the first step in any family adventure is research. We've settled on Latin America as our eventual destination, so I spend countless hours learning about what it'll take to make this family travel adventure a REALITY! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bad Decisions

The other day I caught a glimpse of a reminder of a bad decision of my youth. I caught a glimpse of my tramp stamp. Yes I have a tramp stamp. There I said it. It's out there. I was about 22 years old and I made the decision to walk into a tattoo shop and ask some big burly dude to tattoo the letter R on my lower back. Yes the letter R. Back then I thought blackadder font was the "ish" so of course I came in with my printed out letter R. My brother was there with me and without hesitation I jumped onto the chair and had this blackadder uppercase "R" permanently inked right above my butt crack. 


You want to see it huh?? Fine.

Of course this letter R was for an ex and now 15 years later there it is, still on my back. The ex is long gone but the tattoo remains. The easiest solution would be to get it covered up but there are two reasons why I haven't....
  1. I do not want to increase the size of my tramp stamp.
  2. The first tattoo hurt very much and I haven't got the courage to go back from more. 

Chances are this tattoo will remain on me for the rest of my days. I can only hope that it will be a reminder to my kids that sometimes bad decisions will follow you forever.

Just ask Nick Cannon. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

KIDZ BOP 26: Music Review

I can't believe there are now 26 KIDZ BOP albums to choose from. KIDZ BOP is a compilation of popular songs re-imagined for kids. These kid-friendly tunes are sung by kids and usually kept as similar to the original hit as possible. Who ever came up with this concept struck gold. These are hot sellers and kids and parents quickly know why.

These are pretty awesome CDs for families that need to make a musical compromise. As a parent, I don't want to listen to Barney songs on repeat, but I also know that artists like Rihanna and Macklemore (which I like) don't necessarily sing about kid-appropriate topics. KIDZ BOP transforms songs by combining the melodies and concepts of original hits with slightly tweaked music lyrics, ultimately, making the music appropriate for kids. 

The most recent KIDZ BOP release includes artists such as Pharrell, Katy Perry and One Direction. So go ahead, nab these CDs and listen worry free. With KIDZ BOP parents don't need to worry about the content or lyrics of songs that are all over the radio. You can listen to "radio hits" that are appropriate for kids, because let's face it, radio versions of songs are becoming quite ridiculous. 

What's even better is that these songs can be easily streamed (free) on Pandora or Spotify. Simply search KIDZ BOP and you're all set. But be warned, if you don't have commercial free Pandora your kids might still get some pretty inappropriate music interruptions. Imagine having to explain to your kids what the Trojan condom commercial is all about. Yeah, you're on your own with that, but at least there's KIDZ BOP to water down those catchy Flo Rida or Chris Brown lyrics. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Upside of a Bad Breakup

Oh, the drama of a bad breakup is something the average person doesn't escape in their lifetime. I recently heard a good friend's breakup story and other than feeling glad to be out of the dating pool, I was somewhat happy for her. Yes, happy.

Breakups are full of pain. They're a unique kind of agony where you question every thought and action that brought you to a relationship's sad end. I don't mean standard hum-dum breakups, I mean dramatic tumultuous fall outs.

As I heard my friend share her tale, I was reminded of my own heartaches and heartbreaks. I remembered the stories of friends that came before her and I remember how the common thread in all stories was the depth of our inability to comprehend how things could turn so sour through infidelity, lies, arguments, or worse, verbal and physical abuse. We come out of relationships like these often questioning how we could let things get so bad. But what we don't always consider is the upswing of the bad.

Coping: If we can start a healthy healing process of forgiveness and moving on in a nondestructive way, from destructive relationships, we suddenly gain valuable coping skills. The scary downs teach us to begin facing other life obstacles with a newly refined set of coping mechanisms and a perspective of functioning from a place of been-there-done-that in the toughest of times. Suddenly, we know how to deal with many of life's smaller challenges thanks to those big ones.

Friendships: Of course, bad breakups are a time to rely heavily on honest to goodness relationships. Admitting the intimate details of a bad breakup to friends not only makes us further vulnerable, but truly human and increasingly bonded. It's in these difficulties that our truest, most supportive friends shine. It is those friends you remember to keep around when things suddenly become good again because goodness will return. 

Lessons: Lessons even the scary, painful ones, are lessons worth learning. A previous mentor once counseled my husband and I through a rough time. As she did, she reminded us that though our love saw immense lows, we'd also been able to love in a place of immense highs. This would be especially true once the storm of challenges had passed. She also reminded us that loving each other with the intensity we did might not come to be ever again if we let go of our relationship. We clearly had a deeply supportive union, with a firm foundation but we were stuck in a not-so-ideal runt. We were at a place where we could learn and grow for good or completely throw in the towel. I'm happy we chose growth.

Strength: Like the saying goes, "you don't know how strong you can be until you have to be." This doesn't mean stay in the bad relationships that bring you down. This means reflect on the greatness within you and the strength you'll carry into future experiences, relationships and all journeys of life. Strength adds to your personal boldness and might even be the thing that propels you further into adventures you once couldn't complete, or worse, you played it too safe to ever set out on adventures you so craved. Bad breakups often spark a courage in you you didn't know you had or were too afraid to unleash. Strength overrules fear and bad relationships only breed more fear. Choose strength over fear.

Karma: I believe 100% in Karma. If you left a relationship devastated and mostly on the receiving end of the pain and deceit, life will work things out to reward you in the long run. Humans that come from a place of inflicting pain (such as that dirty dog of an ex) don't get out of this short journey of life unscathed. So DO NOT stoop to anyone's low standards or hurtful ways - life will even out the score. It always does.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mortified: The Documentary

When I am not binge watching Friday Night Lights and my husband is not getting through 17 hours of DVR'd MMA fighting, we like to watch documentaries together. Netflix has a pretty good selection to stream. It is surprisingly easy for us to find something we would both enjoy. We recently watched the documentary "Mortified Nation"

This documentary is all about people who go up on stage and read from their childhood/teenage years diaries. Word for word, into a microphone, to a large audience. If you have ever went back and looked at your old diaries, then you know why it is called "Mortified".

So why in the world would people voluntarily do this? The documentary not only shows a lot of performances, but it talks to some of the presenters about why. One presenter said that even though your diary entries seem like they were written by a totally different person, if you look at the core of who you are, it's the same awkward kid you use to be. Just not as intense.

Many of the presenters felt that by sharing their intimate thoughts from their younger years, people would be able to relate. No matter how awful, or dumb it is. You can tell by the reaction of the audience and the popularity of these show that people can really relate. I have to admit that there were many different diary entries that mirrored what my junior high diaries read like. My diary was a place where I could say all the things I would never say out loud. I had some pretty awful and now hilarious things I would have never said out loud. Now would I go up on stage a read some of it? Probably not, it would be mortifying.

You can stream this documentary on Netflix!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Planning for Fall

Believe it or not Fall starts on Monday. Those of us in Southern California are rolling on the floor laughing about that fact. It's hard to even imagine crisp leaves, sweaters and boots when we are sweating through triple digit weather. Even though the weather may not feel like Fall, it is just around the corner and it's never too early to start planning some fun Fall activities.

Here are some of our favorites...
  • Head to a football game: Dress up in your team colors, you can even go as far as cool face painting and head to a professional game and even tailgate before the game. You can also keep it simple and head to a local high school game. Rooting for the home team on a cool crisp night it just as fun as you remember it in high school. 
  • Oktoberfest: Many local cities (even the little ones!) hold their own Oktoberfest. This festival that originates in Germany celebrates with beer and sausage. Beer and sausage! I don't think I need to say anymore. 
  • Apple Picking: Now that the summer fruits and veggies are done, it's time for fall produce like apples and carrots. Now carrots are hard to pick but apple orchards are a lot of fun. You can pick your own apples to take home and most places have cute gift shops and lots of baked apple goodies. Oak Glen, CA. is a great place for apple adventures. 
  • Fall Scavenger Hunt: This is a fun way to spend a fall afternoon. Put together a list of things you only find in the fall. Your list can include dried leaves, pine cones, acorns, or even a Pumpkin Spice Latte. 
  • Outdoor Bonfire: A good old-fashion bonfire is one of my favorite things to do on a fall night. A warm blanket, and of course some s'mores. You can even roast hot dogs to make a whole evening out of it. 
  • Pumpkin Patch: This can be a family adventure or you can make it a romantic night for two. Hay rides, corn mazes and picking the perfect pumpkin are always a great way to get into the spirit of the season. 
  • Master a New Soup Recipe: If and when the weather cools down, a really great hearty soup is a great dinner idea. Get the slow cooker out and find a new recipe to try. It could become a family favorite and it will leave your house smelling delicious all day long! 
  • Wine Tasting: Grapes are also in season during the fall so it makes it a great time to visit a winery. Of course what is the point in going to a winery if you are not going to do a little wine tasting. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Simulating a Trial Separation

This might sound odd but I just "separated" from my loving husband. We literally implemented a pseudo-separation. We still live in the same home, but we're taking time away from one another. This week he's "on" while I am off. Being "on" means he's in charge of all children and household responsibilities and he cannot count on me for any of it. He's also sleeping on the couch.

I am, on the other hand, enjoying all the freedom and space this arrangement suddenly affords me. I am out of the house most of the day and we're each having to depend solely on ourselves similar to most separated couples, but actually, not the same at all. Next week should be interesting when I finally get the chance to be 100% "on" and he gets a break. 

This all may sound pretty weird and you the reader is likely thinking "why?" Truth is, why not? All relationships go through ups and downs, or worse, life gets pretty mundane. This whole experiment has been about increasing our independence while making us appreciate each other more. We're being reminded of just how much our partner does and how much we love each other, but like most couples, we can often take one another for granted regardless of all the love. 

Truth be told, this is only day 4 (of 14) and after three nights on the couch my honey is laying in bed with me tonight. It's hard to keep us apart. I believe our appreciation and understanding has increased and suddenly the distance actually creates a sense of unity. We've missed each other and I almost feel my husband is making time to court me even after he's been intensely busy manning a household full of children, chores, homework, back-to-school night, kids' schedules and work responsibilities.

This journey has opened our eyes a bit to a few breakthroughs such as the fact that I don't have to always be in control. I can be a control freak constantly thinking of everyone's schedules and our family's operations. I've had to let go a bit and trust that my husband can do it. I don't have to know and do it all and this has been just the thing to reinforce independence leading to interdependence. We don't want to be dependent on one another, but we do care to feel true interdependence. 

In our case, a trial to a trial separation wasn't meant to come from a place of negativity. Nothing has to dramatically crumble in a marriage to feel the need to rejuvenate our sense of gratitude and independence. All in all, this was our experiment to break up the monotony of our every day and I must say it appears to be working. Now, hopefully,  I'm NOT the one falling apart this time next week when I'm simulating single-motherhood and taking the reigns all alone.

Would you participate in a psuedo-separation? Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Video Chat for Your Birth Control

Planned Parenthood is a taking birth control into the internet age by releasing an app. That's right an app for your phone or tablet.

So what can this app do? Well if you live in Minnesota or Washington State you can meet with a doctor over video chat and get a prescription for birth control mailed to your house. That's right, you can video chat from anywhere with an internet signal with a doctor. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and will cost you $45 plus the cost of your birth control of choice.

Not sure if this will be available in other states soon. But I have to admit that this sounds like a real time saver. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cheapskate 101: How this mom penny pinches with the best of them!

I was raised by a frugal father and a conservative mother. I once figured I'd leave the nest and go crazy spending my own money. I soon learned I was NOT a big spender after all. I could very well spend our hard earned money, I just don't!

I am a cheapskate at heart. I'm one of those people that loves thrift shops, buying half-off meat items that will expire the next day for that night's dinner and I wait until all major retailers are having their best annual sales before I spend a dollar there.

I'm not a coupon-clipper, but I do love Walmart prices hence my need to do all grocery shopping in their new neighborhood markets. I'm all about two-for-one deals and I don't mind a great hand-me-down. In fact, my children and I are usually wearing hand-me-downs. 

I'm cheap. Doesn't mean I'm not generous or that I don't enjoy nice things and the sporadic indulgence. It means I'm cheap.

Some tricks to my cheapskate trade...
  • Shop at discount stores: Big Lots, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx are pretty standard. It's hard to spend a dollar at Nordstorms when there's a Nordstrom's Rack with an amazing red tag sale. This is where being cheap doesn't mean compromising on quality. I enjoy designer brands, just not the prices that go along with them, hence, I love thrift shops. I often find slightly used designer gems for my kiddos in secondhand stores or I scour the discount stores to get to the same result.
  • Buy what's on sale. That means cooking veggies and fruits that are in season. That also means basing the week's dinner options on the best deals in the grocery aisle. I tend to buy clothing that's not in season. So I stockpile sweaters in the summer and bathing suits in the winter. Sure we can't quite wear our new buys yet, but we are getting a bargain.
  • Shop around. This can get tricky, because it isn't always convenient. For instance, I browsed back-to-school sections at countless stories, but didn't buy until well after the school year was underway. The added plus here is that if you shop a little late you often find items additionally discounted. But be careful, I tried holding out on those typical back-to-school shoe sales thinking there'd be better deals after the back-to-school craze tapered down. Turns out most sales went away, the inventory was dismal and I didn't get the best deals by waiting. 
  • Be a Groupon junkie. I know I've said this before.  But these group deals really can be the best. In fact, I've found some amazing hotel/getaway deals that can usually be replicated without a Groupon. There's a simple, but nice resort in Palm Desert I once found on Groupon that continues to offer reasonable deals without a Groupon through Hotels.com. Make sure to earmark those great Groupon finds and check back in on hotels, restaurants and retailers even if Groupons aren't available.
  • Ask for a discount. All thrifty folks know to ask for discounts. What's the worse that can happen? Ask any and every where. Often folks are open to at least giving a 10% discount or throwing in a coupon you didn't have to begin with. Don't be afraid to ASK. I learned this tip from my hubby who just last night asked for a discount while buying an already discounted book at Barnes and Noble. This happened after a shopping spree by him for ME at Marshall's! Needless today, I went bonkers in their clearance racks.

Are you also a cheapskate at heart, too? 
Share your money saving tips with other HerMamas.com readers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blessing of the Skinned Knee

A Mom is at the park with her small child. The child is playing with a shovel and another kid comes up and takes it away. The Mom immediately gets up and gets the shovel back for her child. How about a child who is away at summer camp and feeling homesick. They call their parents and they immediately get in the car to pick up their child.  Or how about the parent who sends the teacher an angry email because their child got a bad grade. We see and hear of these things happening all the time. Like me you may even be guilty of a few. Parents are going out of their way to ensure that their child does not feel upset, hurt, disappointed, or uncomfortable. Even though parents who are guilty of this have their hearts in the right place, what happens to these kids when they grow up and realize that feeling hurt, disappointed, or uncomfortable are a part of life? This type of parenting can lead to self-absorbed, self-entitled kids who cannot cope with the real world. A bit dramatic? Maybe? Maybe not? 

This is something that as a parent that I think about all the time. My biggest concern is raising 2 self-entitled spoiled brats who can't function in the real world. I am conscious of this and even though I do not want to be over-protective and over-indulge my kids, I find myself doing it all the time. As a parent I want to give my kids the world. Like literally, if I could give then the world and moon and stars I would. I am, at times, guilty of what Wendy Mogel calls "over-devotion". 

Wendy Mogel is a Los Angeles based clinical psychologist who is also the author of the best selling parenting book "The Blessing of the Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children". In her book she battles the issues head on saying that parents are overprotecting, overindulging and at the same time expecting our kids to be the best at everything and not teaching them to respect adults. We are pushing our kids to ace exams and make soccer goals but not teaching them life skills. From her book...

"If the pressure to be special gets too intense, children end up in the therapist’s office suffering from sleep and eating disorders, chronic stomachaches, hair-pulling, depression, and other ailments. They are casualties of their parents’ drive for perfection. It was children such as these who spurred me to look outside standard therapeutic practices for ways to help. In Judaism I found an approach that respects children’s uniqueness while accepting them in all their ordinary glory."

You can read an excerpt from the book HERE 

Mogel suggests that we embrace our children's individual talents and not expect perfection. We need to be okay with our kids being "good enough". We also need to stop pressuring ourselves as parents to be an extraordinary parents. We need to get back to making parenting a joy and not a competition. By adopting this "good enough" attitude and loving our children for their own sake and not for their achievements, you can have a more relaxed family and make everyone's life richer. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A New Latino Family Comedy is Coming to Prime Time

This fall ABC will be attempting to bring the Latino Family Comedy back to primetime television. You may recognize the lead of the show as the stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo. Following in the footsteps of Latino stand-up comedian George Lopez she is getting the chance to bring her comedy to the masses with a sitcom.

I must admit that I had never heard of Cristela Alonzo before. As "research" for this post I googled her name and watched a bunch of her stand-up comedy. She is hilarious! She is now the co-creator, writer, executive producer, co-director and star of the show "Cristela", a semi-autobiographical story about a women working to become a lawyer, living with her sister and her sisters family and her mother. In interviews Cristela talks a lot about how this show is just a show about a family who love each other who happen to be latino. I am not sure about that because from the clips I have seen the show seems to really focus on and tackle Latino issues.

When it comes to shows that depict Latino families I tend to love them and criticize them at the same time. I find myself cracking up because I can relate to the funny cultural specific situation, and on the other hand, I become critical about how this could be perpetuating stereotypes.

Cristela Alonzo is a smart and funny Latina and I am really looking forward to her new show! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adventures in Low Carb Dieting

I wouldn't say I'm a pro at low-carb dieting because I'm not, but my husband, now he's a different story. For years he's kept himself in shape with moderate exercise and reducing many of the carbs everyday folks consume all day long. I recently decided to try out this dieting regimen, and though tough, it's totally doable and here's why....

1. Breakfast is a "low-carbers" paradise. Just think bacon and eggs and who doesn't love that classic dish? Plus there's so much more to breakfast than just bacon and eggs. Breakfast is always a great dinner alternative! There's plenty to choose from such as yummy omelettes with all the fixings. Fill your omelettes with deli meats or turkey sasuage, cheese, egg whites and all the veggies your heart desires. Breakfast is hearty, delicious and easily low-carb!

2. Low-carb meal options are becoming more and more common. Back in the day it wasn't always easy to find low-carb menu options at restaurants, but in recent years so much has changed. Recently I was at a small hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that served delicious fajita lettuce wraps. There was no need to feel deprived over Mexican dinner while others enjoyed an abundance of tortillas and rice. Low-carb dishes are available and with some planning ahead you're actually able to enjoy great meals. I especially love Mediterranean restaurants serving yummy meat skewer combinations, with salads and hummus (garbanzo-based).

3. Textures can be immitated! I love mashed potatoes for the flavor and texture. A delicious cauliflower mash with pepper and butter as an alternative leaves me feeling totally satisfied. For a little crunch I love sliced cucumber or radishes in place of chips. And there's really no reason to not wrap anything in firm lettuce leafs... tacos, burgers, seafood! Simply get creative with your alternatives and you won't have to compromise on flavor or texture cravings!

Ever tried and succeeded at low-carb dieting? Share your tips with HerMamas' readers by commenting below!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Creative Homeschooling

I never would have considered myself a crafty person but being a mom really changes you. After I had my kids I found myself doing all kinds of crafty things. Now that I have become a homeschooling parent I have really let those creative juices flow. Sometimes trying to teach certain subjects to my 9 year old can be a challenge. The standard, read and regurgitate method just doesn't work well for us or for most kids. Sometimes a hands-on project is a great way to learn. I have been forced to look beyond the textbook and come up with creative ways to reinforce lessons.

Here are a few of my favorite projects over the last year....

 We had a lesson all about local government. We were learning about city councils and mayors so we decided to email our local mayor and ask if she would have time for a sit down interview. She was more than happy to meet with my daughter. They talked for almost an hour and it gave my daughter a real idea of what local government did for our community.

 Last year we were learning about different types of telescopes. For this lesson my daughter got to design her own telescope that could do anything she wanted. She designed the x-ray telescope 2000, a telescope that could see inside planets! Just a few empty water bottles, plastic film cut from a soda liter and some foil and we had a really cute project!

Last year my daughter was in 3rd grade and they studied the solar system. We used a Lite-Brite with a black piece of construction paper to recreate different constellations. 

One of our first science lessons was on different types of ecosystems. For this lesson we made our very own little ecosystem complete with sea monkeys, live plants and snails.

We have had such a blast working on projects together. When it comes to project ideas Pinterest is my BFF. I always go there first. I can usually find a project or at least inspiration for one. I also try to find projects that use things we already around the house. Most of our projects are free and our most expensive was $7.00.

You can follow along on my homeschool adventures every Wednesday on my personal blog Punk Rock Parents! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Can kids really become "parent-deaf?"

I'd heard about this occurrence so much growing up. My mother claimed we'd never listen to her out in the presence of others or that we didn't believe in her advice or wisdom. I knew for certain that couldn't be. However, I'm starting to think again...

I know now that mom was on to something. Lately our grade schooler has developed a habit of contradicting me and his father. It's usually little things, but he can't seem to agree with us on much. It is as though his new habit is to make mom and dad out to be wrong. Sometimes he's clearly mistaken and still he contradicts us. We don't take this personally. Our son is a sweetheart and at an age where he's coming into his own. Perhaps he is trying to assert his own opinions and this is his way of solidifying his identity and independence.

Another clear battle between parent and child is his ability to act as though he really is "parent-deaf!" As soon as a new school year rolls around and he's mesmerized by a new teacher suddenly everything teacher says (or does) is 100% gospel. It can be something mom or dad just said, but when we said it, it went ignored or we were according to him "wrong."

I could say something simple such as "reading twenty minutes a day is good for you" and immediately my kiddo counters with reasons why that's not true, why readying is boring and why he'll never read again ever in the history of the world. But don't let his teacher send home a reading log for 20 minutes of daily reading. Not until teacher says "reading 20 minutes a day is good for you" is reading the coolest thing since sliced bread! Suddenly he's scouring his personal library claiming there nothing to read and is enthusiastic to read every single from in his 100+ books.

Could it be? When kids come to a certain age is what we parents say just not important, and the moment someone else says it they're in accordance, compliant and non-contradictory? 

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Reasons I Am Watching Candidly Nicole on VH-1

  1. We all remember Nicole Richie from The Simple Life with Paris Hilton. And we remember her being the funniest thing on the show. Her quick wit and funny life observations are what her new show is all about. 
  2. Just like me she grew up in the 90's. On one episode she went on a tour of all the important spots that Beverly Hills 90210 filmed and even recreated the scene on the walking path where Kelly and Dylan told Brenda they had hooked up over the summer while Brenda was in Paris.
  3. She is a Mom and deals with issues like trying to fit in with the other moms at her kids school. Nicole even goes as far as to start her own chicken coop in order to get the other moms to like her. I also kinda respect that she does not have her kids on the show at all.
  4. She did a whole episode on what it's like to be short. At just 5'2 I completely understand how hard it is to reach stuff and why high heels are so important. 
  5. Despite being rich and famous Nicole comes off as a very down to earth person. I would totally hang out with her. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Perks of Becoming a Morning Person

I could never quite get up in the morning without hitting the snooze button 5 or so times. Plus, I somehow always rolled out of bed late and so began the all too common morning rush. This rush set our household off to a rough start every single morning. Soon, my children were experiencing the wrath of my late starts by tantruming through the rush and the delay was even impacting my marriage quality. Rushing every morning adds to stress more than one might think.

Rising early makes a huge difference on a personal and family-wide level. There's plenty of perks to being a morning person and anyone can retrain themselves to become one. If you're not already.

For me, everything changed when we got a new puppy. I became excited to nurture and train him. Part of that meant 6am potty breaks for our new pup. Without hesitation, I was suddenly up by 6am (sometimes 5:30am) instead of my usual rolling out of bed at 7:30am to have my son to school 30 minutes later.

My husband caught wind of my 6am wake up calls and quickly signed on to wake up with me. We agreed that we needed one drastic improvement that could help with running a smoother household routine and rising early felt right. It was also desperately necessary in a home with two parents working full time, three children and two dogs.

Before committing to this AM routine we were unknowingly missing out on a lot of the perks of being "morning people":

- family breakfast
- exercise
- added family (quality) time 
- dog walking 
- calm (non-rushed) morning routines
- meditation/prayer
- less grouchy kids (once adjusted)

More importantly, not rushing my children actually improved our parent/child relationships. Children respond so well to a routine that is predictable and calm. Our mornings were everything but calm until we decided to get up earlier! It was truly a blessing in our home and even our kids jumped at the idea of being up earlier.

The first morning we tried this each of our kiddos sprung out of bed ready to make breakfast. Sure, we warned them beforehand of all the perks of waking up early and they became excited for the change. Not every morning is easy breezy with tired kids, but we haven't let up and we're staying on this new plan for the sake of all the perks! 

Are you raising an early-rising family, too?!?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Am I Passive Aggressive?

The other day a friend on Facebook posted a hilarious status update about how she handled a loud co-worker. She admitted to using passive aggressive tactics and followed those up with a smile. After cracking up for a bit, I found myself completely relating to this status update. My mind was racing as I thought of how I've witnessed this in my personal workplace. Suddenly I thought I was an expert at "dealing" with passive aggressiveness and not dishing it out. 

Turns out my first instinct wasn't completely inaccurate. I originally entitled this blog post: "How to Deal with Passive Aggressive Co-Workers." Then I googled the definition of passive aggressive behavior. 

As I read the following list of passive aggressive tendencies,

  • Sarcasm
  • The silent treatment
  • Withholding of intimacy
  • Withholding of praise
  • Being critical
  • Sabotage
  • Running late
  • Not doing something that's asked of him/her
….  an epiphany collapsed all over me like soggy bread. Could I be the passive aggressive type? 

In my workplace I'm usually very direct. I'm honest above all and that honesty has allowed me to grow, promote and build solid, evolving relationships. It hasn't always been easy to be the one who deals with difficulty head on and through sometimes tough conversations, but it's worth it. In fact, I am a better leader because of it and often get to be the voice for others when the going gets tough.

However, here's where I was hit hard by the list of passive aggressive tendencies, I could see myself doing all of the above to my hubby, all the time. I'm so passive aggressive towards him, it's scary. But how could this be? How could I not see how I do this to him? Truth is, we sometimes give the people we love most, the worst of us. After reading this list, I immediately texted my husband, "I am sorry for laying passive aggressiveness ALL OVER YOU!" 

An apology is a great start towards progress and improvement! It's like a 12-step program for bad habits. A good first step is admitting you have a problem. My problem? Being a total passive aggressive wifey. 

Do you tend to avoid direct conflict by enlisting passive aggressive tendencies or have to deal with these traits in co-workers, family or relationships? Please share your tips with us! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Saying No

Like all working moms with school aged children my schedule is packed. My days are filled with commitments from morning to night. My days fly by and there are times when I feel like I am being pulled in about 12 directions at once. Part of the problem is that I have a tendency to say yes to everything. I have a very, very hard time saying something as simple as...

"Sorry I can't make that. I'm busy". 

Until last week. Last week was the first week of school, there was also a girl scout meeting, a trip to the farmers market, story time at the library and of course work. On Thursday the girl scout council was having a leader meeting in the evening. The day was getting filled up fast and I was going to have to rush from work to get to the meeting on time and leave early to get to the farmers market before it closed. As I thought about my day I was exhausted, and it was still the morning.

Then I made a decision. I decided that my attendance at this troop leader meeting was not that important. It was a regular monthly meeting and the other 2 troop co-leaders were going to be there. I had to get past the feeling of letting the other leaders down, and feeling like they would think I am a slacker who is not committed to my role. And I had to get past my "Super Mom" mentality. These days there is a sort of pride in stretching yourself too thin. You see other moms boasting about their to-do lists and I must admit I can get caught up in it.

But last Thursday I was just too tired, too stretched and the thought of rushing was too much. I just wanted to spend the evening strolling the farmers market with my kids and husband. So I sent a text to my co-leaders and apologized and let them know that my day was too hectic and the meeting was going to have to be the thing I take off my plate. As working moms by co-leaders were very understanding and I spent a relaxing evening with my family instead.

Monday, September 1, 2014

We are Entering the Terrific Twos!

Wow have these 2 years flown by! In 2 years we have discussed a very wide range of topics. We have had some great and popular guest posts and we have shared all our obsessions!

Remember our first post EVER!
Our guest post by Rachel about raising triplets has been one of our most popular ever!
And of course the post about how to destress is also a popular one.

As we start our 2nd year of HerMamas we want to take some time to thank our readers.

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! 

We are so grateful for those of you who stop by and read our posts. We are committed to bringing you fun, informative and interesting blog posts and we are excited to start a new year with fresh ideas.

One of our favorite parts of blogging is interacting with our readers through comments and facebook posts! We appreciate it so much!

So cheers to 2 years of HerMamas and to many, many more!