Friday, October 31, 2014

Current Obsessions


Where is the time going? I can't believe it's already Halloween and time to change the clocks back! We hope y'all have a safe and fun Halloween and enjoy that extra house of sleep.

Here are the things we currently can't live without!

Elissa:

Jamberry Nail Wraps:  Most of my adult life I have gone without polish on my fingernails because I cannot stand chipped nails. In my case even a nail salon manicure is not lasting more than 24 hours. Between work, kids and living - I always, ALWAYS chip my polish. Then over the weekend my little sister busted out all her Jamberry Nail supplies and let us all try them out. Applying the wraps took some time and getting use to but let me tell you, it's been 5 days and my nails still looks fantastic! There are a ton of different colors and designs to choose from and you better believe I bought myself some sheets! 

Gilmore Girls: I loved this show when it was on the air. A few months ago it was announced that the complete series was going to be released on Netflix for streaming. I was very excited and have been reliving all the good times in Stars Hallow with Loreli and Rory and all their friends. This is such a sweet show and this time around I have daughters of my own I appreciate the mother/daughter relationships on the show. Now I need to get through all seven seasons before Netflix starts streaming every Friends episode! (January 2015!!) 

Goodreads:  I do this to myself every year! I give myself a book reading goal. This year I set the goal at 75 books. I currently am reading book #63. I am so close. The website/app Goodreads is one of my most used apps! It is kinda like Facebook for readers. Here you can list the books you have read, are reading and want to read. You can also connect with friends to see what they are reading. I love that all the books I have read are saved chronologically with my own rating. I also love that I can pull up my "want-to-read" list when I am at the library, or double check to see if I have already read the new Nicholas Sparks (I have!). 

Irene: 

Gimlets: My latest alcoholic drink of choice is a delicious gimlet. Vodka gimlets are pretty straightforward and limey which means I love them. During a recent trip to San Francisco, I encountered a common drink bar after bar... basil gimlet and it was just as delicious as the orginal. If you love a hint of zing in your alcohol try a basil gimlet the next time you're bar-hopping.

Once Upon a Time:  With halloween coming up I was suddenly in the mood for a little fairy tale action. I began binge watching this show on Netflix about three weeks ago and I'm already three seasons in, CRAZY! I must admit the beginning of season 3 was a bit of a repetitive drag, but just as I was fading away... BAM, the teasers got good and I was on to the next episode. Overall, I've enjoyed the reimagined lives of Peter Pan, Snow White, The Wizard of House and so on. It's a pretty good show and the current season features the storyline from the animated tale Frozen.  I'm looking forward to that!

Road trips: I haven't been able to get my road trip fix under control, so this weekend I'm headed two hours away with family. I've enjoyed the time on the road with my little tribe complete with pit-stops and photo ops. My favorite part of road-trippin' is singing & dancing to top 40 hits with my littles one and bonding with my husband during long and productive conversations. Road trips also break the monotony of an uneventful weekend. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't let work get the BEST of you in the WORST ways

I was recently promoted, again. It's been a lot of upward and forward mobility for me in a professional capacity over the last three years. I am beyond blessed for the opportunities. I began as a lowly Case Manager and hit the mother-load paving the way in a never before chartered path. I became the Executive Director of my agency five years after my first interview where I told that ED I'd have her job one day. 

Now, it hasn't all been cake-walk evaluations and happy-go-lucky relationships. Working my way up the ranks came with its fair share of trials, issues and challenges. Every bump in the road was met with two things:

HARD WORK and INTEGRITY

It has truly boiled down to those two key areas of growth, focus and accomplishment. By working hard I ensured my work, not my words, spoke for themselves. Hard work led to not only more pay, but professional respect, added knowledge, and growth opportunities. I continued to work in spite of office stressors, common office politics and in times of uncertainty. All careers have uncertainty. Many times those uncertainties are in the hands of others or situations we cannot control. What can we control? How hard we work! So when all else fails, work hard, work harder than ever before. This way, work isn't getting the WORST of you as you continue to give your BEST!

Integrity was (and is) another key value in my professional life. Integrity doesn't mean always doing what's right and easy. After all, what is right isn't always easy; in fact, it's usually hard. I am a very honest professional. This honesty is rooted in integrity. How honest I've been didn't always equate to comfortable situations. However, personal integrity as a woman, as a professional dedicated to a non-profit career and simply as a human being meant doing what was best not what was most comfortable. My need to live in a way that is integrity-driven means being as transparent as possible. Sure, I could have been more ruthless in my career choices, but I wasn't. I'd like to think it paid off, and this way, I feel better with how I've lived not only my professional journey, but my life journey above all. Compromising my integrity would have gotten the worst of me and that was an area I was never willing to jeopardize.


What are your professional philosophies that keep the BEST you in business?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Younique 3-D Fiber Mascara Review

If you are on social media then you must have seen a post somewhere from someone talking about Younique 3-D fiber lashes. For a while there it seemed like every other post on my Facebook feed was about this stuff. It started when one high school friend started selling it, then another. Then a 3rd and by then my interest had kind of been peaked. When it comes to the latest in make-up trends and the latest "it" product to be selling I am a huge skeptic.

Huge.

I tend to roll my eyes at anything that says it can make something longer, or bigger.



Then my friend Angela sent an email out telling us that she was going to get in on this mascara craze and would be one of the first to sell it in the U.K. (Did I mention Angela lives across the pond?) Now Angela is one of my best friends. She is super smart, gorgeous, and is the type who will tell it like it is. Then she asked if I would review the product on the blog. I said yes because really I was dying to try this stuff out. I mean how can anything make my lashes longer? My lashes are as long as they are going to be. The only way that something could make my lashes longer is if they actually added something to my lashes, and that's crazy!

 Or is it? 

I received this cute black box with 2 tubes inside. The only other thing I needed to grab from my makeup kit (aka my caboodle) was my eyelash comb.


So inside the box are 2 tubes. One is the "Transplanting Gel" and the other is the "Natural Fibers" as well as a pamphlet with instructions. I recently had watched a youtube video about how to apply this stuff and it took the lady like 9 minutes and you know "ain't nobody got time for that!".


So I set aside 10 minutes to try it out. Here is what I'm working with in the lash department.


I start with curling my eyelashes because that is how I roll. Then I started with my first layer of transplanting gel. It looked like regular old mascara. Then I pulled out the "natural fibers" and I was like "what is this??" It looks like a hairy caterpillar. Then I realized what this product does. The gel is the base for these fibers to stick to. It is going to actually add something to my lashes.


Now the lady on the YouTube went through about 5 or 6 coats of this stuff and that's why it took her so long. I added gel, then fibers, then gel and then fibers and then gel and then I stopped because....


All I needed was 2 light coats and a few swipes of my eyelash comb and my lashes were longer than I have ever seen them. Here they are 5 hours later.....


I have to admit that I am amazed that...

1. this stuff not only works, but works really well.
2. it takes maybe 15 seconds longer to do than my regular mascara does.
3. It lasts all day long and comes off easily with simple soap and water.

My only concern was that my lashes looked "clumpier" than I liked but after a few more applications I am starting to get the hang of it and my lashes look better each time.

Besides the mascara being amazing Angela has even more reasons for getting involved in the company. It was the company's mission statement that convinced her to give it a go. The Yonique focus is "to uplift, empower, and motivate women all over the world." Angela has a "day job" that allows her to have flexibility and independence, and even though she never saw herself in direct sales this opportunity to be part of a company that teaches women how to run a business is exciting.

So now I am a believer and new lover of the Younique 3-D lashes.

The mascara is available in the US now and will be available in the UK on November 1st. If you want to buy the products or just learn more about them you can head over to Angela's website at www.AngelLashesUK.co.uk. Here you can check out all the products and even contact Angela with any questions. Or just to say hi, she is super cool and you should totally be her friend.

Head to www.AngelLashesUK.co.uk to order yours today.
 Tell Ang, Punk Rock Mom sent you. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interviewing A Four Year Old…

As I sat down to blog my sweet four year old daughter lay next to me chipper as ever smiling away. This immediately led to me figuring out how to include her in my blogging. Here's what resulted…

1. What does love mean? When somebody loves you, you say "I love you!"

2. How does love feel? Good because love is from the heart and in your heart you are beautiful!

3. What's your favorite color? My favorite color is rainbow because I love all colors.

4. What's your favorite food? Sopita (soup)

5. How many numbers can you count to? (Counting ensued) ….1…. 10… what comes after 10 again? 11….28… mmmm, I can count to 29 (though she really counted to 100 with a little help)!

6. What's your favorite song? Let it Go from Frozen

7. Tell me about your brother (s)? Yesterday, my brother and I played star wars and dressed up in costumes. What's that thing again? Oh, I know... we were rebels.

8. What's your favorite thing about mom? I love you very much. I love you in my heart because you and me are girls.

9. What's your favorite thing about daddy? I love daddy. He moves stuff! I love my daddy.

10. What do you want to be when you grow up? A drum player!

11. How do you make a sandwich? You put lettuce, cheese, tomato, carnita (meat), ketchup all in bread.

12. What's your favorite show? I like… Dora the Explorer because Dora has fun with Boots driving, learning ABCs and at water slides.

13. Who is God?  God is the mother. My mother.

14. What's your favorite holiday? Snow… winter (I guess she thinks holidays are seasons).

15. Anything else you want to say? Yeah, mom, what's your favorite thing?

My answer: YOU!


Sometimes we just need a little Q & A session with our children. The actual questions and answers don't always matter, but the quality time spent together does. Besides, kids' honest answers are the best. Who knows? You might film a Q & A and strike gold with the next viral kid video sensation.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Breaking Bad Toys

A woman from Fort Myers, Florida was outraged when she found action figures from the Breaking Bad television show at her local Toys R Us. She did not want her children to be exposed to these dolls based off the characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. If you are not familiar with the show Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin. Jesse is his sometimes dumb, lovable sidekick. The dolls come with guns, bags of money and a bag of meth. This mother could not find reason for these dolls to be in a kids toy store. 

This mother was upset enough to take action. She began a petition to have the toys removed from the shelves. And it worked. Toys R Us has removed Walter and Jesse from their shelves. Aaron Paul, the actor who played Jesse Pinkman had something to say about it. On twitter of course.




Now I loved the show Breaking Bad. I binge watched it a few months back. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen. But I watched every episode without my kids. It is obvious that a show filled with drugs and violence is not appropriate for children. When it comes to these action figures I am torn on my opinion. On one hand, the toys are labeled for 15 and up and as a parent if you don't think these toys are appropriate then don't buy them. But at the same time should little kid have these toys next to their legos and Star Wars figures.

What side of the controversy are you on? Florida Mom's side or Aaron Paul's side? 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Costume Deals

I purchase five costumes every Halloween, okay, I purchase three but can buy up to five. I don't mind it, but wow are they pricy. Plus, they are usually pretty basic fits. Costume quality is pretty low leaving not much of an outfit after the "big show" on Oct. 31st.

Because costumes can feel like a huge investment, I've taken to shopping around for the best Halloween deals. If you're still shopping for the right costume (and price) this year, there's still time to snag a good deal. Check out these money-saving tips:

• Buy Secondhand: kids costumes are usually the easiest thing to come by secondhand. Consignment stores usually set out a huge gently-used selection around early September and options are plentiful up until just before Halloween. Yelp: consignment to find a spot near you with costumes 40%-50% off regualr price.

• Order online: be cautious here of high shipping costs. Give yourself at least a week to find the best online deal. For folks using Amazon.com you can buy secondhand costumes and if you have a Prime membership (which I love) you get free two-day shopping on a ton of inventory, new and used. Prime is an investment of $100 annually but it's well worth it. Before Prime I'd spend too much every Halloween season. This year I purchased three costumes my kids had their hearts set on and none cost more than $15 bucks. With free shipping, this was a great deal with mega convenience. I dodged scouring busy store aisles with highly overpriced outfits.



• Do-It-Yourself: this area isn't for everyone but if you're the crafty and creative kind then you already know how low-cost this route can be. My sister was just out shopping for one basic piece: a Tu-Tu and couldn't believe what a simple piece of bunched up tulle was going to actually cost. She went the DIY route and only spent $4 dollars. With Pinterest, do-it-yourself is easier than ever. 

These are three simple tips to not breaking the break this Halloween! 
Please share you money saving ideas with our readers. Comment below...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tiny Houses


I recently watched the documentary "Tiny: A Story About Living Small". This documentary followed a man named Chris and his year long journey of building his very own tiny house. There is this new movement that is fueled by environmental concerns, the want to live with less stuff, mixed with the decline of the housing market that has people building and living in these mini-homes.

So how small are we talking here? Well most of these tiny houses are between 100-200 square feet. That's it! Many are built from scratch on a trailer. To give you an idea of how small this is, the average three bedroom home in California is about 1500-1800 square feet. These tiny homes cost about $150 per square foot to build. This means that a 150 square foot tiny house would cost about $22,500 to build. This seems like a lot for such a small place, but after your initial investment the cost to live in them is minimal. Most of these homes run off solar panels and usually are set up in someone's backyard so things like property taxes do not exist.

Inside a Tiny House
The idea is very interesting and seems to be sprouting up over the western states. The people interviewed in the documentary seemed to be really excited and happy to be living in such a small space. One thing I noticed was that with the exception of one family, most people living the tiny house lifestyle were either singles or couples.

I know that I could never live in a 200 square-foot house with my husband and 2 kids. Really that sounds like torture to me. But the idea of living with less stuff is very enticing.

Could you live in a tiny house?

Kids in the Kitchen

Lately my children have been all about helping. Our four year old is especially engaged with household chores. If I don't find her "dusting" or propped on a chair "washing dishes", she's usually off making someone's bed or simply pretending to be everyone's mommy. This idea of helping has made for some interesting play and even more interesting meal times. 

Our three kiddos love helping out in the kitchen! Like many kids mine enjoy baking homemade cookies with mom or creating oddly shaped pancakes with dad. I love when our children get a thrill out of helping in the kitchen and my husband loves it even more than I do. He's very good about engaging our children in fun kitchen projects.

Just check out their latest creation:


Nailed it! 

Of course, the above photo is meant to be funny. This meal was a complete success. Most egg rolls turned out much "prettier" than the one pictured and all were delicious. 

My husband arranged a simple assembly line and laid out the basics: egg roll wrapping sheets, cheese, pepperoni and sausage. I added some flare with goat cheese filling while my hubby added sliced jalapeños to his egg roll. After each of the kiddos stuffed and rolled their pizza egg rolls, I added a small tooth pick to keep rolls in tact. Then as a safety measure, my husband took over all frying duties. The end result were delicious cheesy egg rolls and a discussion about everything a person could put inside an egg roll...

1. Bananas with Nutella (with a sprinkle of powered sugar on top)
2. Veggies (sliced carrots and cabbage) and seasoned ground beef
3. Diced peaches with blueberry goat cheese 
4. Diced Strawberries with cream cheese 
5. More pizza toppings (i.e. Mushrooms, peppers, pineapple chunks).

We really had such a fun time with this kitchen creation and look forward to more. Not only did we all enjoy the quality time, but while in the kitchen our youngins' become engaged in basic life skills, used their creativity and worked as a team. 

Are your kids fans of helping out in the kitchen, too? Please share your kid-friendly recipes below!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Book of Life- Movie Review



Since I heard that there was going to be a animation movie about Dia De Los Muertos I was so excited. My girls and I painted up our faces like calaveras and we headed out to watch The Book of Life.  I went in with my hopes high for this film. I think that when you have a single movie representing an entire cultural tradition pressure mounts. Imagine having just one movie to represent Christmas?

The movie was absolutely fantastic. First of all it is visually stunning. I mean check it out...


Every single scene and setting was packed with gorgeous details from the hearts on the fences to the skulls on the matador outfits.

The story itself did such a great job of incorporating the traditions of Dia De Los Muertos as the backdrop to a story with a very familiar love triangle storyline: 2 best friends in love with the same girl with good and evil forces meddling in the middle of it all. This really is a movie about love and friendship.

I thought the casting of this movie was brilliant. From Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Danny Trejo, Ice Cube, Placido Domingo and a handful of Mexican-American comedians like Cheech Marin, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes and even Gabriel Iglesias. I was a little concerned with Channing Tatum as one of the leads but he really did a great job as Joaquin.

As if the visual eye candy, touching story and outstanding cast wasn't enough, the music made me fall in love with this movie. There is plenty of music sprinkled throughout the movie and it is an eclectic blend of traditional Mexican music, current Chicano super stars like La Santa Cecilia, as well as many songs sung by Diego Luna himself. But what really did me in was how the blended current rock hits with mariachi music. Ever wondered what Mumford and Sons would sound like if they were a mariachi band? Well then go see this film. This musical mash-up gets me everytime. I feel like if I could capture my soul in a song a rock/mariachi song would be it.

I cannot say enough great things about this movie. I plan on seeing it again very soon. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

When Married People Flirt


Flirting is a true skill. It's been a long time since I've dated, but I remember a thing or two about flirtatious behavior. Very recently I ended up in a long airplane line while in front of two adorable gentlemen who awkwardly flirted for several minutes. I tried not to listen to their seductive tones, incessant giggling and the sexual tension in their one-liners. I failed miserably and felt like a complete third wheel; but, when it was all said and done, I was truly amused by their flirting.

Flirting often changes when you're married. It almost becomes an underutilized skill. Once you've nabbed your match flirting fades. It is somehow replaced with routine and the instances of careless and connected flirtation can become few and far between.

But it really doesn't have to!

Married couples DON'T have to fit some societal mode. The dating game though scary at times has it's adrenaline & confidence-boosting benefits brought on by flirtation. It is both good for you and ultimately an ingredient for happy marriages.

It's those marriages that remember to keep the spark of young love alive that have a good chance of prosperity. Married couples should keep a fun flirtatious tone at the forefront. Plus, it's a great way to kick-start a long overdue night of passion!

Do you agree?!?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Creepy Clowns

Earlier this week we  shared some of our favorite kid-friendly Halloween movies. Of course there are the less family-freindly nightmare type of scary movies. For many, horror movies are a fun way to get the adreneline going. I am not one of those people. The few horror films I have seen still haunt me to this day.

Some people have fears of spiders, heights, or even driving over brides. The most terrifying movie I can remember seeing was Stephen King's "It". Holy Moly! It gave me a life-long uneasy feeling around clowns. This is not an uncommon fear. Coulrophobia is real. This season of "American Horror Story: Freak Show" has a very freaky clown character named Twisty. After just one episode and this crazy clown my dreams are being haunting.

Believe it or not something even more freaky than a TV character has been happening in Bakersfield and Wasco, California. It is like every single one of your nightmares are coming true. Imagine running errands at night and running into this....


I don't know if I would scream or wet myself, or both. In different towns there have been multiple sightings of someone dressed up as a creepy clown and usually carrying some sort of weapon. And with all things these days, this "prank" has been linked to an Instagram account.

You can rest a little because a 14 year old kid was arrested in connection with this horrible prank.

So tell us!
What are your biggest fears? 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

No Shame in the Labor and Delivery Game


This beautiful angel marks grandchild number 18 for my mother. Such a sweet little thing who was long overdue in more ways than one. When she was finally ready for her big entrance we all awaited with open arms. No one's arms stretched greater with love than that of her two doting parents.

Once I heard of her arrival I rushed to the maternity ward to meet this sweet pea. There I faced the all too familiar yet distant memory of giving birth. As I entered the delivery room I was flooded with more than just love for this child but with comments from both of her parents about how hard labor really was. Her mother immediately expressed how she wishes she would have been stronger.

Stronger?!?! 

She had nothing to feel bad about or short of accomplishing. Yet, I've seen this before. I had three children naturally. Hardest thing I've ever done. I get it moms, I really do. However, many times I've felt mothers who experience c-section births say less than ideal things about themselves after childbirth. Somehow there's guilt associated with having a non-natural birth especially around those of us known to have gone the rare epidural-free route and delivered naturally.

To me, there's no shame in the labor and delivery game. The end result is ALL that ever really MATTERS. We all get to the grand finale differently and some moms' processes are much harder than others, of course. What's certain for every birth and mother who deliveries naturally or not is that they're all bonafide champions. Our bodies endure an unthinkable pain. Our mind is in a state of disarray. This process is inexplicably HARD to understand or fathom unless you've been there personally. Don't let movies, magazines or cocky birth accountants convince you otherwise. 

Whatever the journey of childbirth every woman who experiences it has earned her stripes. There's no chart to map one delivery type more significantly accomplished than another. There is no tally and surely no score sheet. We all went through our unique journey and we should be proud of how the story unfolds. 

After my niece's mother talked about wishing she had more strength, I simply leaned into her painfully weary and excruciatingly tired space to reassure her of the victory she'd accomplished. Her daughter's entry into this world was just as it was meant to be and no one's preconceived notions should alter that truth. Every birth resulting in a healthy mother and child, no matter the birthing process, is a victorious feat worth honoring. 

Have you experienced post c-section guilt or know a mom who has? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

First Taylor Swift now Rob Lowe: Parenting Advice

Recently I found myself quoting Taylor Swift to my 9 year old while doling out advice. Then while reading Rob Lowe's latest autobiography I read some parenting advice that made me stop and then write it down. Mr. Lowe was talking about his marriage and he said...

"... kids will only be as happy as their parents" 


So Rob Lowe is devastatingly handsome but he has some good advice that I needed to hear.  


We all know that parenting can be competitive. These days if all 24 hours of your day is not focused on your kids then you are not being a good parent. I had to admit that I fall into this trap constantly. I tend to put the happiness and needs of my children before my own. Rob Lowe's message is simple, happy Mommies and Daddies equal happy kids. 

I have always felt that kid's personalities and moods feed off their parents. When people mention to us how chilled out our kids usually are I always say, ''Have you met their father?" My husband is one of the most laid-back people out there. I have also noticed that when I am stressed and frantic my kids tend to act up more. I am on edge, they feel it, so they are on edge. So naturally this would be the same for happy parents. If I am happy and in a good mood, then my kids would feel that and be the same. Why didn't I ever think of that? 

So it took 80's hearththrob Rob Lowe to open my eyes to this. To remind me that this 24 hours parenting thing is not necessary. That it is not just okay but there is no need to feel guilty about it. By making time to make sure that I am happy, doing things that make me happy, makes me a better parent and gives me happy kids. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Smooth Groove

I could save this post for our latest obsessions at the end of the month, but I'm too hooked to wait. They say musical tastes change and boy is that indelibly true. Without a doubt musical tastes evolve. I went from top 40 and radio pop to indie folk and electronic. 

With that said, I am currently obsessed with Banks. You know great artists only need to go by one name à la Adele. Banks was born and raised in Cali. and produces groove-filled creations. Her jams take me to a whole new place. There it's dark & sexy. I'm transported to a bar lounge dancing to my heart's content. Her dark R&B as it's referred to has that effect on me, but her voice takes matters to a whole new level. Billboard called her a "magnetic writer with songs to obsess over."

As I listen to her I am swaying left to right craving a decadent drink and my honey to lose myself dancing. Sure, I am just sitting in my kitchen surrounded by kids' messes, but a girl can (day) dream. Seriously though, Banks is a lovely gem with a voice to match, great beats and music that needs to take over the radio. I can't be more disappointed with what's considered the mainstream music of this generation. 

Now, tell me you agree…


What do you think of Banks?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tis The Season for Spooky Movies


In my house family movie nights are one of our favorites things to do. We love to pile pillows on the floor, pop some popcorn and settle in for a flick. Since Halloween is just weeks away it is time to enjoy some spooky movies. Now my kids are pretty chicken (just like their Momma!) so the movies have to be really family friendly. Lucky for us there is a great selection of not so scary Halloween movies. Here are some of our favorites.

  • The Addams Family (PG-13)- from the moment you hear the iconic theme song you are in a halloween mood. The Addams family may be creepy and kooky and all together spooky, but they are a family who loves each other like crazy. 
  • Ghostbusters (PG)- a 80's classic this move will introduce your kids to some of your favorite childhood characters like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and of course Slimer. Oh and I should warn you, your kids will spend weeks yelling "Who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!" at the top of their lungs. 
  • The Haunted Mansion (PG)- my kids and I just watched this Disney movie starring Eddie Murphy for the first time a few days ago. There are some pretty intense cemetery scenes, but the story had a sweet ending. The movie is based of the Disneyland ride The Haunted Mansion so if you are a Disney fan you'll enjoy it!
  • Beetlejuice (PG)- I remember loving this movie as a kid. The crazy creatures in this movie are a bit too much for my kids but I am hoping eventually they will be ready for it. 
  • It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (G)- a holiday staple for the whole family. I can remember as a kid checking the TV guide to see when this special was coming on TV.  
  • Hocus Pocus (PG)- 2 kids have a memorable night when 3 witches are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween. A very fun movie from start the finish. 
  • Casper (PG)- Casper is the friendliest ghost we know. Christina Ricci stars in this movie where her and her father are staying in a house with 3 mischievous ghosts & 1 friendly one. 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG)- another Disney winner. This movie is on repeat in our house from Halloween to Christmas. Follow as Jack Skellington tries to find what Christmas means. 
  • Spooky Buddies (G)- Cute talking puppies are always a hit with kids. Part of the straight to DVD Air Bud movies this one follows the 6 adorable puppies on a Halloween adventure. Yes puppies in costumes!
  • Coraline (PG)- This movie is a personal favorite of mine. The animation is stunning. This movie is based off the book by Neil Gaiman and they did a fantastic job of bringing the world to the screen. 
What some of your favorite Halloween movies? 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Work/Life Balance

Do you work 10-12 hours a day in your career field? Are you in a more flexible line of work partaking in less than the traditional 8 hours a shift? Does work require extensive travel or maybe you get summers off? Every work situation varies, but what's key is to maintain work/life balance. Even a person grinding 10-12 hours a day can create a system of work/life balance.

For me, I've picked a flexible field in a family-friendly office. It's particularly great to working moms. In this field over ten years, I know I've traded in pay for time. I get a flexible day-to-day schedule, fulfilling management responsibilities, mission work in a field serving children and families as well as other small agency perks. My week often includes one work-from-home day, maybe two. This flexibility provides a certain calm. It adds to my need for balance. 

However, just today I was shocked to the core professionally when my work life balance felt compromised. Though, it may not actually be. I received news of management changes and with every new boss there's new expectations and systems. I'd hate to lose flexibility in the workplace which I value as a priority. As a working mom with three small children the traditional corporate America employee schedule doesn't fit my lifestyle needs.

Now, I'm likely counting my "eggs before they hatch". I don't know if a new boss means less flexibility and reduced perks. I'll hold out hope, but one thing's for certain, regardless of management, I'll always strive for decent work/life balance. I can't be overly consumed by making a certain amount of money or climbing a status latter, and for me, I could never sacrifice my home life for a heavy workload or demanding career.

Do you relate to this philosophy or not? Chime in below! 

Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems


You might be familiar with Mo Willems and his Knuffle Bunny childrens books. Or maybe you have read all his kids book from his Pigeon series. Really with Mo Willems you can't lose but recently my family has fallen in love with his Elephant and Piggie series.

Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie are totally BFF's. Gerald is a big grey elephant with glasses and Piggie is a sometimes mischievous pink pig. Oh and she's a girl. Each book follows along on a new adventure with these two. What I really love is how Gerald and Piggie are always there for one another. No matter the situation they find themselves in they always have each other's backs.

These books are short and sweet so they don't take up too much time at bedtime. With over 20 titles and new ones being released consistently, we always have something new to read, and giggle over.

You can find these books in the easy reader section of your local library. 

What children books do you love? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Everywhere

Fall is in full swing, but that's not necessarily due to cool weather changes or the leaves falling from trees. If there's definitely one thing that marks fall that's the overabundance of PUMPKIN SPICE items! Everything's suddenly made with pumpkin and mostly all are quite delicious. Today, I've decided to list some of my favorites with ways to include these flavors into fun fall plans & activities. 

1. Pumpkin Creamer -  There's noting like having a homemade PSL. If you can't make your way to a coffee shop that's likely offering their version of a pumpkin latte this creamer makes for a great alternative. It's perfect combined with a cup of java on cold fall nights. Enjoy a mug at home enjoying classic fall movies!


2. Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt: Menchie's has the absolute best pumpkin harvest frozen yogurt. Naturally, it's only around come fall, but it's well worth the wait. I'm sure many frozen yogurt establishments carry their own version, but my favorite is found at Menchie's. Try a kid-filled outing after fall soccer and bring along the whole team for pumpkin fro-yo. What kid doesn't like frozen yogurt with all the fixings.


3. Pumpkin Soup: Just add a dollop of sour cream and pumpkin seeds to add a little texture or enjoy it as is for a great meal. A Trader Joe's staffer even mentioned this could be a delicious cold soup on hot days like those we've experienced this fall in California. Add this great soup to a full course meal at home. You'll surely impress dinner guests with this option and don't forget the pumpkin pie for dessert to round out a pumpkin dinner theme.


 4. Pumpkin pancakes: This is another yummy Trader Joe's find. In fact their store is filled with so many pumpkin-flavored options. So many you have to see for yourself and if there's something you must try it's TJ's pumpkin cake and waffle mix. This is a fun family breakfast choice to combine with carving jack-o-lanterns.


What are your favorite fall pumpkin flavors?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Emotional Email

I can remember a time when email did not exist. Yes I am totally aging myself but it's important to this post. When I was little and wanted to send a message to my BFF, I would write it down on lined paper, pour my heart out, fold it up is some crazy origami style fold, and then literally hand it to her. Then around college emails became the main form of communication and today I would say text messages are. So in my lifetime I have gone from 4 page (front and back) letters on paper, to a paragraph in an email to sometimes literally text messages that consist of just a few letters. As much as I love technology there is one part that I still have a hard time with and that is expressing emotion.

I have a tendency to read too much into an email or text message. A simple "K" response from someone will have me worrying if I have offended someone. What this a short and curt "K"? Or a happy-go-lucky find of response. When I am responding to people I have a tendency to overcompensate with exclamation points to make sure that the person I am chatting with understands that I am happy and excited. Many of my text messages and emails look like this....


And if I feel that exclamation points are not enough you better believe I am throwing in all kinds of emoticons in there.

Tell me I am not the only one that does this? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

When Your Kid is the Target of Bullying



My son is the epitome of cool at least he & I think so. He does his best to have "style" and the perfect outfit and haircut. I thought this was simply a part of him growing up. I figured third grade meant he was solidifying his likes and "coolness" was just something he embraced like every pre-teen!

Turns out being cool meant more than just high-top sneakers and the perfect cargo shorts, my little one was trying desperately to fit in. He was copying two other boys hoping they'd finally approve. He wanted to be liked and one boy in particular hounded him everyday about how he was better than my son. 

I didn't know any of this. But like most parents I had a feeling. I slowed down and looked at all the signs. The first sign came before picture day when my kiddo wanted to get the "perfect" haircut. His hair looked great but he was suddenly crying while still sitting in the barber's chair dreading the next day at school. 

After some digging through lots of questions (every parent needs to ask questions, instead of making statements or demands) I got to the root of his feelings. My son liked his hair, but he was terrified of the opinion of two certain kids. After two days of questioning the angst in his eyes and stress in his tone, my son revealed that "everyday" two boys picked on him. Both boys had been making my little guy's world so difficult and all because they were claiming to be "better than my kid!" When really, no one is better than anyone. Kids were being kids and sometimes kids are mean. Sometimes kids are bullies. 

In this situation, my kid was the target of the bullying and my heart broke for him. He hugged me so tight when he finally admitted these kids put him down a lot. As he spoke I felt as though relief began to blanket over him. 

I handled this reality in the best way I knew how. First, I asked him to seek out new friends. Sounded like he was trying to fit in with kids who didn't make him feel good. Real friends accept us as we are, they do not put us down and make us feel as if was have to change. We processed the feelings that came with the concept of fitting in and talked about all the other kids he's known through the years - kids he can play with in class or at recess that enjoy his company and vise versa.

Next, we talked about him standing up against bullying by fully ignoring the taunts (while also NOT believing them), speaking up against taunts, or point blank asking the boys to stop and defending himself. All of the above can be hard for a third grader, or anyone really, but all are needed.

The hubby also chimed in with you need to defend yourself and be strong! The husband came to the conversation with a firm approach as I treaded gently. I thought it was well balanced and together we felt we had prepared our son to face picture day with a new haircuts as his "bullies" awaited him at school. 

My son was cautious, emotional and clearly worried about heading to school. I reassured him and poured all the love I could over him, but I didn't rescue him. I wasn't going to be one of those parents that called the school or headed over demanding answers. I wanted him to face this on his own (though we did offer a little with our help). I asked his teacher to keep an eye on this issue via email and she was so very supportive! She really said all the right things.

Finally, I ran into my son's amazing school counselor the very morning my son was dreading school. She offered up great straightforward advice. Our son would need to seek out new friends, talk to her if he was continuing to struggle and practice assertiveness. She directed us to have him practice being assertive in the mirror (such a great tip!). 

Even better, her words seemed to mirror how we had handled our son's revelation of being bullied, so we as parents, felt we were on track and should continue as we began advising our son. We needed to continue showing love, listening actively, encouraging he express himself and defend himself, too.

Picture day was over and I rushed to pick up my little dude. I remember saying a prayer to myself as I drove over. I hoped his day had been good and that his haircut worries were a thing of the past and it didn't make him a further target of bullying as he worried it would. I arrived and what's the first thing out of his mouth… "Mom, no one picked on me and no one made fun of my hair today!"

The day was won! Not everyday is won, but we celebrate when we do get the win. Bullying is a very real part of growing up and my hope is to navigate this with all of our children through constant communication, modeling kindness and practicing assertiveness!

Do you know a child who was bullied? 
How are you handling this very delicate issue with the kids you love?!?

Friday, October 3, 2014

There is No I in Team


Yesterday we were really late to a class at the library. We were late because I asked my kids to clean-up before we left and my oldest quickly shut her game and the little one had a lot of toys and crayons to put away. When I walked in to check on them the little one was moving at her usual snail speed and the oldest was literally just sitting there. I asked why my oldest was just sitting there and not helping so we could leave on time. She told me that the mess wasn't hers so she wasn't going to help clean it up. 

Her words played into the fear that I have of raising selfish entitled people. So as the youngest finished cleaning I used it as an opportunity to give my "tween" one of my famous and very long life lesson lectures. I asked her to imagine what our house would be like if everyone only took care of themselves. If we didn't help or do things for each other. I asked her what her days would be like if I only did things like cook and clean for myself. What if Poppa only took his trash to the curb on Wednesdays. As my child gave me an eyeroll and a scowl I reminded her that our family works because we are a team who help each other out. I also dropped the bomb that the teamwork never ends. I reminded her that just a few days before I had spent 2 days helping my parents move. Despite years and all these miles apart my family is still a team that comes together to help each other out. 

I never know if my Mom lectures work until I see a change in my kids' attitude and actions. And if I see that it hasn't sunk in I will be ready with an even longer lecture.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Technology is Changing My Kid

Thanks to our school district, my son brought home a brand spanking new Google Chrome Book this week. He counted down to this day all school year. He's now over the moon excited exploring his new gadget, charging it every night in preparation for school, downloading and playing academic games, and navigating YouTube videos with friends. 

I literally watched him transform over the last week talking about other kids in the network, password issues and the district server. As much as I may want to keep our smart phones and iPad away from him to stay humanly connected, I can't keep all electronics away. Technology is everywhere. His generation will use it to learn differently and there's nothing my aversions can do about that.

Chrome Books are simply a better academic tool. Instead of dragging around textbooks like mom and dad did, my son's carting around his new laptop. He's worried about free wi-fi access, a case for his chrome book and making sure he's running a system with ample battery life.

These concepts were once so foreign to him and now he could probably teach me a new thing or two about computers. Personally, I can't imagine what my life would have been had I had so much technology at my disposable. Whether we like it or not, this generation will be different. As much as technology can be the scapegoat for disrupting interpersonal human to human connections, it is also the blessing. Kids are learning faster, through more efficient and convenient platforms. 

Just this morning my son completed some academic drills before breakfast was even served and he surfed the 'net with ease. In three short days he's transforming into a pretty savvy computer user to the point that he now knows more about google drive than I do. This new technology not only allows him to learn differently, but he's adapting to making life & learning easier with the help of electronics. My kid happily lugs around his chrome book as a third grader, but, what's next, online schooling for high school?

What does this all mean? Kids of this generation will take us to new heights faster than ever before. I'm sure these are the kids that will invent flying cars. I'm sure of it!


My kid knows more about computers in third grade than I did as a senior in college. Are fast moving technological advances good for kids in the long run or will this only make them further disconnected from interpersonal human connections?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Feeling S.A.D

When spring starts some of us find ourselves with an urge to clean out closets. Fall is also known as sweater weather. When summer starts some of us crank up the air conditioners. There are a lot of things that change as the seasons do. From some people the change in seasons can leave them S.A.D.

S.A.D stands for seasonal affective disorder and efffects and symptoms can include severe depression and anxiety. For those who suffer from S.A.D. they suffer from these symptoms only during certain seasons of the year. The most comon being summer or winter. Those with S.A.D. are fine the rest of the year.

Although the cause has yet to be determined, many doctors agree that it is the sun to blame. In the winter time there is less sunlight and this drop in daylight can mess with your bodies natural clock and make it harder to sleep and causing the amount of serotonin in your body to drop. As many of us know, serotonin is the chemical that is released when you are happy.

For those that suffer there are ways for relief. For winter S.A.D light therapy has been known to be effective. Doctors have also been known to prescribe melotonin and even anti-depression medication to help balance your body.

I never knew this exsisted but evey fall I go through a slight depression phase. I feel overwhelmed, exhausted and all I want to do is lay in bed in my pajamas. It's nice to know that there is a reason this seems to happen every year.