Friday, November 28, 2014

5 Things Better Than Black Friday

Today's one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Yes, Black Friday is upon us! I for one would rather do almost anything else than be anywhere near a mall today.

Here is our list of 5 things you can do instead of Black Friday shopping.
  1. Top of my list involves a roaring fire in the fireplace, a cup of hot coffee and a really good book. This is a great day to go off the grid for awhile and spend the day immersed in a good book. A great opportunity to 'chillax' before the chaos of the holidays really starts. 
  2. There's a good chance that even if you didn't host Thanksgiving dinner you were sent home with an outrageous amount of left-overs. Today is a great day to eat yourself into a coma, again, but this time in your pajamas. 
  3. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us it is a completely respectable time to let the holiday decorating begin! Get out the big tubs from the attic and start hanging up the tinsel, mistletoe and garland. Get the ladder out and hang up lights on the house. This will help you really get into the holiday spirit. 
  4. Head over to your home computer and spend some time backing up all your files and photos. You know you need to do it and have been putting it off for months. While files are being saved you can head to your iTunes account and organize your music. 
  5. Stay in bed...ALL...DAY! Have a good old-fashion sex-a-thon. Come up for air and food once in awhile and just enjoy some adult alone time with your significant other.
What would you rather do than shop on Black Friday? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 would like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
 May the feast, love and togetherness be bountiful wherever you are.
Cheers to this holiday season and BEYOND!


Elissa and Irene, Co-Authors of

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


This year for me has been one of gratitude. When 2014 started I made a resolution to be consciously grateful for something every single day. I started an album on Facebook and every day I have added a picture of something that I am grateful for. It has been a humbling and rewarding project.

My life is most of the time chaotic and it feels like every minute of every day is accounted for. It is easy for me to rush through life as a big ball of stress. This project has forced me to STOP, and look back on my day and find something to be grateful for. I found that each day there were many little things and sometimes really big things to be thankful for.

My lists includes good meals, good friends, good music, good books
 and the beauty of nature and lots more. 

It is easy to get caught up in your life. To forget that there is always something to be thankful for. Even during the hard darker times. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Sure, all moms are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of their homes. Typically, that's the case at least. I always felt this was me then I became the actual CEO of my agency and realized I was capable of even more in motherhood.

If I once thought I was a resourceful, busy, multitasking queen well that "stock" just went up! I thought of myself as an efficient leader at home manning it all from birthday party schedules to soccer practices from grocery store shopping trips to mommy volunteering commitments. On top of that I am a social butterfly so along with running my home, I always ensured the hubby and I snuck in date nights for us or among friends. I'd operate a throughly executed plan for all things in our lives while working a FULL-TIME JOB! Yup, that's a mom CEO and mommies everywhere relate.

I was in a groove running my household while also being as present as possible with our three small children. I had my schedule and routine worked out fairly well day-to-day. Then I was promoted to the post of CEO professionally.

This career move was something I worked my tail off to achieve without always realizing I was achieving it. I was managing a career while running a household and sustaining a marriage. I was simply working so hard in all areas of my life that work responsibilities suddenly took me to a new level of career advancement. 

Today, I am in a new groove. I've elevated to a level of multitasking (and learning) I don't believe possible. In fact, I've likely never worked as efficiently as I have during my first month as CEO. Every minute of my work day is full with so much to manage. 

However career changes don't equate a break from being the CEO of my home. Other than my husband upping the help around everyday responsibilities, I have remained "Chief Executive Officer Mom!" No work promotion could ever change that.

Nonetheless, balance has shifted at home. I've had less free time to do motherhood with ease. Might think that's bad, but it's actually been good. Today, was the first day I've had to dedicate to errands in fours weeks and I got more done between 8am & 11am than I would have before with three or four monthly errand days. 

Truth be told I thought I'd spend today vegging-out and relaxing! WRONG! I naturally popped out of bed ready to conquer the day and fill it with necessary tasks. The old me would have taken it easy which was my norm before being promoted.

Having to be on point at work makes me even more on point at home. There's this internal need to max out always and let no productive moment waste away. It's truly next level parenting with very little idle time. My brain is almost unable to shut off from a new multitasking norm that is life within a demanding career, my marriage, three children and a desire to be social and active with family and friends.

Would a change in career change your personal life, too?!?   

Monday, November 24, 2014

Adding some Culture to your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. If you are still stressing over your menu and want to spice it up a little here are a few recipes to add some Mexican culture to your Thanksgiving meal.

Brussel Sprouts with Chorizo  : I am going to admit something here. I have never tasted a brussel sprout. It's reputation of being gross has left me less than excited about it. But this recipe adds onion and chorizo so it is sure to be a tasty side dish.

Pumpkin Empanadas : A tasty and different approach to the traditional pumpkin pie. I imagine these would be like individual pie pockets. Doesn't that sound fabulous! I bet some cool whip dipping sauce would be amazing.

Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pie : Again I have to confess I have never had pecan pie, but unlike the brussel sprouts I would like to try it! Now adding that chocolatey and cinnamony (Yes those are both words!) taste of mexican chocolate can only make it go from good to great.

Tres Leches Pumpkin Flan: It's like they mixed 3 amazing things and made one amazing dessert out of it! This is sure to be a group pleaser and became a staple of your annual meal.

If you get fancy or stick to the basics I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving meal! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wine & Cheese Pairing

I am from the school of thought that cheese is a complete meal!  Last night our cheesy dinner spread was simple: blueberry goat cheese, Colby cheddar, water crackers, and peppered salami. Salami only landed on the cutting board because this was a shared meal. If the kids or hubby weren't around the cheese selection would have spiked to include Gouda, Blue Cheese, & Brie. I am a lover of all things cheese, for sure!

Plus, I love wine! Wine and cheese is a meal time win-win! It is great for a solo meal, a lovely picnic date or to host a wine and cheese gathering among friends. 

Check out these wine and cheese pairing ideas plus other w&c party tips: 

• Usually go with white wines. You might think heavier reds go with most cheeses but a light, delicious white wine is best. A chilled crisp white just gets all your taste buds engaged. This is especially true when combining whites with fresh cheeses: Chèvre, Feta, & Goat Cheese.
• If you're a lover of sweet wines try pairing yours with: Blue Cheese or Roquefort.
•Champagne goes great with Parmesan, Cheddar and Gouda.

Other yummy foods to incorporate into your w&c feast include fresh fruits such as mangos or pineapple. A delicious morsel of fruit combined with cheese, crackers and wine tastes divine. Flavorful spreads are also a must try. Layer preserves of any kind on a cracker with cheese and the result is so good! My favorites are apricot and fig spreads. Another delicious flavor plus would be to sprinkle fresh herbs over your cheese selection. I personally love a sprinkle of rosemary over mine. Finally, trying adding delicious meats for balance and to appease your meat-loving guests e.g. salami or prosciutto.

Then you're all set to sit back, relax & enjoy!

What are your favorite things to pair with wine?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sharing the Hermana Love on Instagram

With the HaU UCSB 15 year celebration just around the corner there has been so much Hermana love all over social media. My favorite has been the "sbhermanaalumni" Instagram account. They have been asking for specific pictures every few days and I love pouring over all the pictures that are submitted. They bring back fond memories and fill me with pride and love as we get to see what our alumni are up to these days. 

This photo is a classic! A shot from the first ever Hermanas Retreat. 

Of course here at HeMamas we loved seeing our alumni share pictures of their beautiful offspring. It is HaU: The Next Generation!

This topic may or may not have caused some happy tears. Alumni were asked to share who their Hermana Hero was. It was so amazing to see how all these women inspire each other.

The last prompt was all about HaU gear! That's right shirt, hats, and sweatshirts! This post really brought back some memories! That first shirt was from our first party ever!

You can follow "sbhermanaalumni" on Instagram HERE 

Don't forget you can still purchase tickets for the HaU UCSB Quinceanera Brunch HERE 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Letting kids learn "bad" things...

I have an 8-year old son which means those innocent goggly years are almost past us. He's become a sports-loving, sometimes sassy talking, electronics-totting kid! I love him just the way he is, but part of who he is means he's suddenly being exposed to so much more than Barney and Sesame Street videos. 

Just the other day, he was googling "funny football photos" on a censored search engine which is meant to block inappropriate content and women playing football in lingerie popped up on his screen. One woman was actually yanking off another woman's undies. I tried not to react, but he looked at me tentatively as if we both knew this was awkward. However, awkward isn't bad. 

These things will become more and more a part of his life and my husband and I have begun accepting this change. In that moment,  my son asked, "is this flag football?" I answered, "sort of" as I clicked to the next image. I followed up with "it's definitely barely dressed women playing football" and then we laughed as the moment passed.

Today he and his friend were talking about a dictionary and kept pronouncing it "DICK-tion-ary!" I didn't hear the exchange, but there they were two third grade boys just cracking up when my husband chimed in, "it's okay to joke around, but please don't repeat inappropriate words in front of your little sister." I asked my son to tell me about the inappropriate word. He was reluctant, but again I didn't react in any particular good or bad way. It was a subtle, go ahead share nudge from his momma urging him to share. He finally felt comfortable sharing the expression with me and I reminded him it was pretty inappropriate since dick means penis. To which he shockingly replied, "it does?!?!" Almost as if he didn't know. I mean he had to know, right? Why else would kids chant DICCCKK-tion-ary. Either way, I said yes, not very appropriate to say that in the presense of little sisters or at the dinner table. He then agreed. 

Once again, the moment passed just as I felt the little sting of parenting that reminds me puberty is around the corner and my son will soon be exposed to the less than innocent parts of life. It's reality and so long as the hubby and I guide him, open-mindedly, trying not to judge things as good or bad, I sure hope he'll always feel comfortable to bring his awkward questions to us and remember to live as morally as we've raised him to.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

15 Years Later

I cannot believe that it's been 15 years since Hermanas Unidas at UCSB was established. It really does seem like yesterday that I met Vero for the first time at the library. When I shook her hand that day I had no idea that 15 years would fly by and she would be there at the hospital the day my first daughter was born.

When I think back to those early years of HaU I am amazed at how different life was back then. But then I really started thinking about it. 15 years later I am a wife, mother of 2, blogger, and a full-time human resources director and really some things are still the same.

For example:

Somethings never change. 

We are celebrating 15 years of Hermandad with our very own Quinceañera Brunch! If you are alumni, or a current member of HaU join us. You can buy tickets HERE! Don't miss this beautiful event. I would love to see you there!


Monday, November 17, 2014

NFL Hotness for the Ladies

Like most husbands, mine is glued to the tube watching football the entire span of the NFL season. In fact, if we aren't watching some NFL match up, college football is on! According to my sports-loving spouse all games are "interesting." This is just his way of reeling me in. But I just don't get why every game must be watched. He's a 49ers fan, so I'm clear, my entire household will be rooting for the 9ers on game day. 

Now, through the years I've done my fair share of complaining about all these football games, then I took a closer look. Football is full of hotties. I'm beginning to wish we actually got to see them without those helmets for more than just momentary sideline shots. Thank you NFL for all the eye-candy e.g….

Tom Brady: My goodness he's a hottie. Tom's married to a supermodel, so good looks are a family requirement. Tom's been in the league many years and only seems to get hotter with age. I mean look at this mug… 

Colin Kaepernick:  This quarterback shot to fame last year taking our beloved 9ers to a super bowl appearance. He's quite the cutie who is a typical female-fan favorite. Plus, he's one of those guys that just looks good covered in tattoos. Go 9ers!

Reggie Bush: Now Reggie was a cutie pie way back in his college days when he won countless games as a USC trojan. Just check out his smile. Not only does he pull off a great smile, but he's one of those men who has a sexy straight-face glare; meaning, I could watch him all day even if it's with his game face on.

Mark Sanchez: Here's another USC alum with a smile that makes ladies melt. Plus, his last name is Sanchez. That's my favorite last name (outside of my own). Mr. Sanchez makes me proud to see this handsome Latino representing in the NFL.

Erik Decker: This guy is such a charismatic hottie he has his own reality show. I mean of course he needed to be on screen without that football helmet. Mr. Decker thanks for being such a looker!

There you have it some of the best of the best in the NFL (when it comes to LOOKS)! These hotties make the football invasion on my television every fall not only bearable, but enjoyable. So thank you NFL footballers, thank you. 

Who are the hottest guys you love to watch in sports? 

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Can't Afford Any of Oprah's Favorite Things

Every year I wait anxiously to see what lifestyle guru Oprah is going to put on her annual "Favorite Things List". Her 2014 list just went up and I poured over all the awesomeness that Oprah loves. This year there are 72 items ranging from cakes to jewelry. You can see the full list HERE.

Now, I don't know about you, but besides her new book, I cannot afford a damn thing on this list. Fortunately I was able to find a more affordable version of some of the items.

Oprah has these beautiful ball-point pens on her list. They come in bright colors and I am sure write like butter. But at $36.00 for a writing utensil (I am no doubt going to lose) I just can't justify it. Luckily you can find the BIC version of a pen in black, blue or even red ink for a low $0.96!

Now that flip-flop season is behind us, it's time to pamper our feet. Oprah has these super cute cozy socks and some foot cream for the price of $144.00!! Don't worry, I found that you can get pretty much the same thing for under $5.00!

Everyone knows that Oprah loves herself some Moscow Mules. In her list she had this gorgeous copper serving tray and cups. This pretty set will set you back $365.00. Well I can tell you right now that this is way out of my price range. I did find that you can buy 50 red Solo cups for $4.97 and the Moscow mules will taste just as good!

We all know that our pets are part of our family and the deserve a nice gift, too. Now if you are one of Oprah's dogs you get a nice bed that costs between $445-$710! If you are my dog you get one that costs $16.99.

Now I don't have Oprah money (yet!) but I still love to check out her list every year. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hermanas Unidas de UCSB 15-Year Formal… Tickets Available NOW!

Hey Ladies! HaU-knowwwwww!

The time has come for our 15-year formal (a.k.a Hermanas' Quince) and you know you want in! Imagine the beautiful picturesque backdrop of Santa Barbara, California during a weekend of fun-filled activities culminating in an elegant champagne brunch and ceremony. We're celebrating 15 years of Hermandad! All hermanas are invited to attend… alumni, undergrad, or hermanas from one of our 20+ chapters!

Festivities kick-off on Saturday, Dec. 6th for those hoping to come into town early. You'll receive an itinerary of details via email once registered for the event.

The Official Formal & Recognition Ceremony will be held mid-day on Sunday, Dec. 7th 2014 at the Mosher Alumni House. Details to follow ticket registration. Please SAVE THE DATE and begin spreading the word. Hermanas from the last 15 years need to hear about our upcoming QUINCE! The years of friendship deserve to be honored and celebrated! Guests and dates welcome to attend!

Space is limited so we highly encourage purchasing tickets TODAY!

Final registration deadline JUST EXTENDED: Friday, Nov. 21st! 
*After Nov. 21st all ticket prices to increase by $10, so purchase tickets today!

Type of Ticket
Name and Year of Grad

For anyone interested in contributing a donation sponsoring event logistics and planning, please click the link below. Remember, no matter the amount, all donations MATTER!


Blue Tier Sponsor ($150): Two tickets and VIP seating
Silver Tier Sponsor ($200): Two tickets, VIP seating and special program recognition
Quinto Blossom Sponsor ($300): Two tickets, VIP seating, special program recognition, and personal business advertisement in widely-distributed program and online.

Questions? Please contact the formal planning committee chairs, Sommer Urias ( or Lissette Padilla ( By the way, with these two in charge you know we're in for a LEGENDARY formal!

#hermanasunidasquince #UCSB #15years #SBHAUXV

Special thanks to all members of the 15-year formal planning committee: 
Araceli Catalan, Veronica Burgos, Irene Quevedo,
 Lissette Padilla and Sommer Urias

Default Parenting

Lately I have been hearing people talking about a Huffington Post article by blogger M. Blazoned simply titled "The Default Parent". As I read the article I found myself nodding, then saying "YES!" out loud. M. Blazoned finally found a term for what I felt since the day the "pee-stick" showed 2 pink lines.

So what is this new term "default parent" all about? Well the default parent is the one who is responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the kids. That's right, the one who keeps the schedules, who makes the doctors appointments, who knows where every missing shoe is, who deals with school fundraisers, decides when it's haircut time, and makes sure that homework is done, birthday gifts are bought and thank you cards are sent.

Every single day of my life I spend not only working an 8+ hour day, but I am also managing all 4 people in my family, their schedules, menus for all meals, big school projects, girls scout meeting agendas, etc... etc... When it comes to knowing where everyone needs to be and when, I am the one who knows. As much as my children see me as the default parent, my husband sees me the same way. For example (Sorry Babe!) my oldest kid goes to school twice a week. On Wednesdays my husband has to drop her off by 11:45 and I pick her up at 2:45. When I leave the house on Wednesday mornings and say good-bye to my husband he almost always asks me "What time do I need to have her at school?". And of course I know, because I am the DEFAULT, but it gets me every time because he gets to forget!

I often wonder why I am the default parent and I am sure that parts of my personality (micromanaging anyone!) help give me the title. I have this "I can do it all" persona that I am sure my family totally buys into that.

Let put it out there, a Dad can be a default parent too. In my household my husband is a huge help when it comes to the kids. In fact he stays home until about 1 pm every day while I am at work. But here is the thing, even though I am the parent that works full-time and my husband stays home with them part-time, I am still the default parent. There was even a time when my husband was a full-time stay-at-home parent, yet I was STILL the default parent. I was still the one coordinating field trips, writing checks for catechism classes and balancing the check book.

As you can imagine this is why so many Moms are exhausted all the time. I have come to terms with the fact that I am and will continue to be the default parent in my household. My Mom was and really still is the default parent. It is a lot of work but I am up for the challenge. All I need is some appreciation from the people whose life calendars I have memorized in my head.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Perks of Marrying a Bookworm

My husband is incredibly organized, an avid reader, and a truly a superman in my eyes. I also find him to be one of the smartest people I know. I love how much he loves learning. Even better I love how much I learn through him. Tonight's dinner conversation included some of the following words: propensity, acquiesce, symbiotic, apropos and presume.

If any of the above are new to you, here's a cheat sheet:

Propensity - a habit, likelihood, tendency

Acquiesce - to accommodate 

Symbiotic - mutually beneficial 

Apropos - appropriate 

Presume (educated guess) versus assume (wild guess without previous info. contributing to the guess)

My bookworm hubby is one of those who likely nailed the vocabulary section of the SAT. It's refreshing to engage in conversations where I'm very likely going to learn something - something he just read about. Plus, he's the bookworm of our home impacting the next generation through his children.

Truth by told, an extensive vocabulary isn't a strength of today's reality TV, Instagram-loving youth! iPhones are what most kids are buried in, not books. As I type this, my son is playing on a laptop.

Having a co-parent who enjoys learning means our kids are learning to enjoy it too. The hubby's done reading lessons with our pre-k kiddos and read a few parenting books himself. All in all, his involvement with books benefits all of us and encourages our children to love books just as much as he does. Besides we need more than just one parent who googles everything (that's me!)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Serial:One Story Told Week by Week

When I was a kid I loved when my Mom would read stories to me. It got to a point that I would ask her to re-read the same bedtime story over and over that my Mom recorded herself reading different stories and then when it was time for bed she would read me one story, and then press play on my Fischer-Price tape player and I could listen to my Mom tell stories until I fell asleep. This love of stories has not diminished since becoming an adult and I think this is why I love podcasts so much. It's like hearing a bedtime story anytime I want.

As most podcast lovers I am a big fan of This American Life and Ira Glass. A new podcast by NPR called "Serial" is now one of my favorite. This podcast is the story about a young man named Adnan Syed from Virginia. In high school this boy was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. When Serial host Sarah Koenig heard about this case she was intrigued and began to dig into the legal documents, and notes and eventually began talking to Adnan Syed himself.

This podcast is Sarah's story about her journey sorting through all the evidence and testimony in trying to find out if Adnan did in fact kill his ex-girlfriend in 1999. Every Thursday a new episode is released and as a listener you get more and more sucked into the story. The podcast is currently on week 7 so this is a great time to binge listen. Every week I listen intently and my opinion about the case changes to he is definitely guilty to he totally was framed. You are left each week anxious to hear more.

What podcasts are you listening to these days? 

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Way of Life: Third Grader Style

"Mom, this picture is so intense."
My 8-year old and I love sharing a meal together! As he puts it "we get to talk to each other!" My follow up is usually something along the lines of "I hope you'll always talk to me!" Then again, in my heart I know hope isn't necessary. My son will talk if talking is a part of his routine and life! 

Today he and I shared a sandwich. We sat side by side and after a brief prayer the chatting began. In these moments I know what his everyday life is like. Today's conversation included a lot and the excerpts below are his beautiful thoughts verbatim...

On Halloween Candy Donations at School:
"It's always nice to give people (troops) your candy because they're fighting for our lives and here we are having it easy just collecting candy!"

On Electronics after I said Electronics are a Part of Life:
"No one's born with electronics! It's not like babies are born with a cell phone. We don't need electronics!"

On Nutrition Thanks to a Health Lesson at School:
"Avocados are a high-quality fat, candy is low-quality… mom, I like cooking healthy snacks!" 

Needless to say, we turkey sandwiches full of avocado!

On Learning Center when I asked him to explain if it's like Tutoring:
His first point... "Well I don't know if it's like tutoring, because I don't know what that is!" ..."Everyone can learn, but sometimes teachers go too fast, so kids at Learning Center go at their own pace."

On School Counseling after he Mentioned he thinks his counselor was promoted because she has a huge office:
"Counselors at school talk to kids who are feeling depressed, sad, or having a hard time!"

This bit of insight through conversations means the world to me. As I catch a glimpse of his opinion, I begin to see the essence of who he'll always be. And hopefully, he'll grow up and remember to sometimes see the world as he does now... through the beautiful eyes of a thoughtful, giving and grateful third grader. Plus, sometimes as parents we wonder if we're getting this whole parenting thing right. I'd say the excerpts of candid conversations illustrate just how well-adjusted and normal our kids are turning out, even if there's also a sprinkle of weird through it all. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dying with Dignity

Last Saturday a beautiful 29 year old woman in Oregon, took her own life. Her decision to take her own life has been in the news for the past few months. Yes... months. On New Years Day 29 year old Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer and was given roughly 6 months to live. A young women full of life, a newlywed, was facing the end of her life.

After being diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma her health began to decline. She began to suffer from seizures. Brittany made a decision. In June she decided to move to Oregon. Why Oregon? Because Oregon has the Death with Dignity Act in place. A law that allows terminally ill patients to determine how they die.  Brittany knew when her illness became too unbearable to her and her family she wanted to option to die with dignity. She would use a lethal dosage of barbiturates prescribed by her physician.

She has spent the last few months traveling with her husband and family. Despite her illness Brittany has used this experience to become an advocate for end-of-life choices. She spent her last months fighting for the expansion of death with dignity laws. This is a very controversial topic. There are those who see this kind of death as suicide. While others feel that this gives those who are terminally ill the decision to die on their own terms. In a interview with People Magazine, Brittany said,

"They try to mix it up with suicide and that's really unfair, because there's not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying." 

As her illness progressed Brittany suffered the worst seizure in which she could not talk for a long while afterwards. She knew that her health was in rapid decline. Brittany announced that she had decided to end her life on November 1st. She died before the illness could kill her. She died with her family by her side with dignity and on her own terms.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Free Apps I Had to Buy

Who knew 10 years ago we'd be connected to so many services using apps? App developers, that's who! I've always had this fantasy that I'd invent the next big thing available via app à la Uber. I mean what a great concept?

There is so much available at our fingertips in app stores from diet and exercise to music, games and transportation services. Apps make lives easier and as much as we might fret about technology taking over, there are apps most of us just can't live without. Like most people, I've used free versions of most apps before committing to a purchase. Free apps are full of ads and usually offer only basic features, but companies sure entice us just enough to turn a free app into a paid one!

The following is a list of apps that became must-have paid subscriptions and tools for our busy family...

Spotify ($9.99 monthly): Spotify is music at your fingertips. We also pay for iTunes Match which means everything we've downloaded (paid albums) is accessible to us via wi-fi. However, the difference with Spotify is that one monthly fee covers it all. There's no need to buy music albums. Mostly all albums & artists are at your fingertips via Spotify. Other than Taylor Swift suddenly yanking her music from Spotify this week, I am usually able to hear any and every song I am in the mood for. This is a great music app. Makes for great entertaining and keeps me grooving through the workday.

Amazon Prime/ Instant Video ($108 annually): Sure you could use the basic Amazon app without buying a subscription but the additional paid perks are good in my eyes. With Amazon Prime a person gets free two-day shipping on most items as well as use of the entire Amazon Instant Video library. Now this library isn't Netflix, but it's getting there! There's also Prime Pantry (great way to stock up on groceries)! Pretty cool, huh?

Drop Box ($9.99 monthly): Drop Box is an easy way to virtually share files. This service is near and dear considering ALL of my photos are stored using Drop Box. Way back when our external hard drive became damaged and there went years of memories and baby pics. I was devastated. Now, we use cloud-based technology to ensure this doesn't happen again. Plus Drop Box, is a great tool for office life! 

Audible ($14.95 monthly): This is one of my husband's favorite apps. For avid readers who have any kind of commute, try audible. It provides a large library of audiobooks to subscribers for a small monthly fee. Recently my hubby paid his usual $14.95 for the month (gets you one purchase credit every month) and downloaded Steve Job's Biography which costs $30. So if you calculate things accordingly sometimes you're getting great rates for books in easily digestible form. Enjoy!

Evernote ($5 monthly): This app is an online organizer slash notetaker slash so much more. It's such a great app it needs its own tutorial so look out for that full-post tutorial coming soon!

Tell us, what are your must have paid-apps? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time Magazine has Upset Teachers With Their Latest Cover

The latest issue of Time magazine is tackling the issue that is happening in the Silicon Valley where a group is trying to eliminate tenure for teachers. The Time article inside the magazine does a good job of showing both sides of the argument but the cover comes off very one-sided. Many teachers are taking offense to the image of an apple being smashed and the words "It's nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher".

The debate is very real and each side is passionate about their stance. One side feels that tenure gives teachers job protection. It gives a profession that earns less than adequate pay some stability and protection. Others feel that by awarding tenure we are making it harder to fire teachers who are just not good.

I have always been torn on the topic. I understand that good teachers deserves tenure, but I am not really clear on how tenure is awarded. Is it earned based on work or just on time spent in the position. There are great teachers out there who deserve the protection that tenure provides. There are also teachers out there who are just not good teachers and do not deserve tenure And there are some teachers who start off great, get tenure and then allow the idea of tenure to let them slack and become bad teachers.

There are so many different ways things can play out that I feel that there has to be some kind of middle ground. A way that good teachers can be rewarded with the protection and anything else that tenure provides them, while school districts are able to discipline or remove teachers who are doing an awful job and putting children's' academic futures at risk.

This is a very heated debate. We want to hear your opinion! 
Leave us a comment. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Detention Matters: someone tell my kid that!

My son got detention earlier this school year and he was so distraught. He forgot one simple signature on his Friday report leading to his 1st trip to detention. A couple of weeks went by and suddenly one day he fails to grab his homework sheet leading to yet another recess lost. Two days later my son forgets his completed homework on the counter at home and once again the consequence is detention!

According to his teacher, third grade is the "year of responsibility." He's going to have a lot of chances to get sheets signed or keep up with daily homework. These tasks are meant to have him stay on top of everything and the threat of detention is suppose to inspire follow through. Sadly, this threat suddenly carries no weight. My kid feared detention until it happened. 

After getting it three times he was completely nonchalant, telling me about it as though he was talking about another weekly spelling test. He may have even thought I'd meet him with an equally nonchalant attitude, but he was wrong. I lost it.

The moment I heard he had detention a third time due to forgetting paperwork, I was quick to give him additional consequences as home (no electronics for a week) which he quickly lamented and the seriousness of detention regained some traction. Then I had him prepare a checklist of daily (without fail) to-dos ( i.e. packing his homework, making his bed). After an unusually fired up lecture suddenly I saw the switch! 

My kid was reminded that consequences aren't meant to be taken lately. This was particularly troubling to me because I felt that my son wasn't learning from his mistakes. I also felt this "okayness" with detention meant he was settling. I may of course be projecting my own issues on my son, but I didn't want to feel as though he thought detention didn't matter. Truth is, it does! Detention is something that takes away his privilege to recess and it's a privilege someone else revokes. I want my children to live lives where they're in control. I want them to understand that mistakes are meant to be learning tools and that we should strive to keep every privilege afforded to us in tact... because detention matters! 

Do you think this mom did the right thing by adding additional consequences, lecturing and expecting her son to regain an aversion to detention
OR is it okay for parents to be okay with detention when they're kids are okay with it, too?