Friday, February 27, 2015

Do you hate sitting in meetings???

Everyone's had that boss that runs terrible meetings. Maybe the boss is you and you really don't mean to run such unproductive meetings. Whatever the case may be everyone can shift meeting culture if they care enough. If you're desperate to change how a meeting is run in your workplace try the following tips next time you facilitate or suggest these to the person in charge (that last part takes courage if you're not confident speaking up). Act in spite of fear. You'll all be better off for it.

1. Set meeting norms. Meetings can become useless and unproductive if there isn't a general standard for how they're held. Much like rules on the first day of class meeting norms help set the tone for meetings. My team agreed on some of the following norms which spills over into other areas of our work 1. Stay on track and conscious of time (respect everyone's time). 2. Maintain an open and honest space for communication. Giving each other actual permission to be honest is an undervalued asset that works wonders for healthy work conflict and debate. 3. Step-up/Step-back: don't overpower conversations but also don't hide out attempting to never contribute. These are just a sampling of norms but there's countless. This practice of setting meeting norms could bring on the immediate shift your meeting culture needs.

2. Fill your agenda with purpose. Our actual agenda outlines not only time allotments per discussion topic but these topics also have listed by them an owner and a purpose. Here are the following five purposes we use: decision, planning, evaluation, problem-solving, and information. Information is usually the most unproductive. Keep those short and sweet. These indicators hint toward the desired outcome of a topic and allow you to better achieve it. 

I must acknowledge: Point 1& 2 were the result of consulting with the company Turning West (a firm that exists to make businesses run better).

3. Come prepared. Too many times people don't worry about a meeting until 10 mins. before they're actually there. That's anti-productive and everyone can see right through those employees. Be intentional in how you prepare for meetings to truly get the best of them. Prepare thoughtful questions and use those with peers and staff get others to improve their participation and contribution in meetings. 

4. Share meeting agenda beforehand. Giving team members time to prepare is key, therefore receiving a synopsis of what to expect helps engage them beforehand and inspires them to complete bullet point #3. Of course this takes time, but it leads to productivity, so take the time to do this if possible.

There you have it - 4 quick tips for better  meetings! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How I stopped the dreaded "What's for dinner?"

As a Mom there was no other question that I have heard more than the dreaded...

"Mom! What's for dinner?"

I heard it all day long from every person in my family. Right in the middle of a busy day the last thing I needed was to stop and mentally go through what things I have in my fridge to make a proper dinner. It was driving me crazy. So much so that I took some action. I started writing and posting weekly menus. Now if someone utters those 3 little words I just point to the posted menu on the fridge.

My weekly menu writing has also had a few other positive side effects. 
  • Saving money! That's right taking the 15 mins. or so to make a menu has helped us save money. By making a menu I can shop for only exactly what I need. No more produce rotting in my fridge and throwing money away.
  • Healthy eating. By having meals planned out we eat out less. It is so easy to give in to the convince of fast food when you don't have a plan. 
  • Improved cooking skills. I try to add a new dish every week. Thanks to sites like Pinterest its so easy to find new recipes to try. Tonight I made roasted broccoli as a side dish! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shortcut dinner options!

know there are many moms that cook only homemade dinners. My mom was one of those. In her Mexican kitchen no shortcuts were allowed and my tastebuds gladly reaped the benefit of such a philosophy. 

However, I am not that mom. Dinner shortcuts are welcomed in my dinner rotation and pre-made dishes are a-ok in my book. With such a busy schedule, I'm one for dishes that take 10-15 mins to prepare via oven or stovetop.

The struggle is finding plentiful premade meals that actually taste great. That part takes a little bit of research. Have you narrowed down yummy options that work in a pinch?  Here are a few of my favorites:

Each of these were literally just yanked from my fridge for a blog photo op. Now I don't always go the shortcut route, but on a day like today after a full workday, religious ED class, and a school function these options help me to quickly bring together a delicious dinner for my hungry family.

Have you tried Marie Calendar's pot pie? It's flakey and oh so tasty. One of my absolute favorite ready made meals.  The version with mushrooms is hardy and delicious. Gorton's has great tasting fish sticks for kids and adults alike. Adults will love these to essemble a quick version of fish tacos while kids will enjoy them plain with a handful of dipping sauces. Finally, Newman's Own is great for a pasta night at home. This is another option the whole family will love, but you'll need two bags to feed a family of 4!

Share your dinner shortcut options, too? Busy moms appreciate the suggestions!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kids Book Review- Just in Case by Yuyi Morales

I do my best to read to my kids every night.  We make weekly trips to the library so that we always have something new to read. But once in a while we find a book that we like to read over and over again. Anything by Yuyi Morales always seems to be in rotation. All her books are fun and beautiful but our favorite is:

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book

This is the story of Señor Calavera. He is attending a birthday party for Grandma Beetle and Señor Calavera is at his wits end trying to find the perfect gift. With the help of Señor Zelmiro he goes through the entire Spanish alphabet collecting gifts for Grandma Beetle.

In the end Señor Calavera brings the best gift Grandma Beetle could ask for.

My kids really love this book. It has bright and colorful illustrations and the story is silly and whimsical as well as educational and bilingual. Basically it hits all the marks we are looking for in a book.

What books are you reading to your kids over and over and over again? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

DON'T tell your kid that you understand...

I get my parenting advice from a parenting coach who I've known for many years now. He's raised three daughters and all have successfully completed college and entered their dream career fields. As a parent that would be a sweet end game, at least for me that feels about right.

Everytime I sit with this parenting pro I learn something new. You might remember the post we did in meeting your children's 7 essential needs well there's so much more from where that came from. Beyond meeting your children's needs you also must strive to communicate at your optimum best! This is hardest to do with little ones and eventual teens, but the mastery of communication in parenting will lead to a much happier life for all involved.

Now for the how? First things first, when your child is frustrated, angry or sad, dont say, "I understand!" Sure, that must feel off, but there's a better way to connect and show that you truly understand. To do this look for the feelings your child's experiencing and share those. For instance, say to your child: "I see how sad that makes you." "You seem really bothered?" etc. etc. These are more open-ended statements that get a child to think about their answer and in turn they feel understood. Often children then answer your empathetic inquiry with a "yeah" or "yes" and that's how's you know they're feeling acknowledged. This small shift works wonders! Saying you simply understand doesn't quite convey enough sympathy to shut a "bad"'situation down.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coping with Eating Disorders

We were recently approached by a reader on the very delicate topic of eating disorders. Since neither Elissa or I are health care professionals it can be difficult for us to chime in here, but this doesn't mean we haven't lived through eating issues of our own or experienced this with someone we know personally. 

In fact, what human doesn't experience issues when it comes to what we eat? I really would like to meet someone who lived a full life and didn't at some point have an unhealthy relationship with food and/or exercise.

By nature our society almost breeds these kinds of issues for all people by in one hand advocating overeating/unhealthy habits via oversized food portions and countless fast food options/advertisements and then perpetuating unrealistic ideals of today's "best bods." There's no way to escape photoshopped, plastic images glorified throughout today's media and television outlets. 

Eating disorders manifest in many forms:

1. Overeating/chronically unhealthy eating habits
2. Food restriction/chronically dieting
3. Food purging/bulimia
4. Binge Eating
5. Anorexia
6. Body Dysmorphia (body issues/complexes/insecurities).
7. Overexercising

With all of the above it almost seems impossible to escape falling into an eating disorder category.

To cope with one of the above (or an eating disorder not mentioned) it's critical to first forgive yourself. Consciously doing any of the above eventually takes a dangerous toll on our body and mindset. To recover from a disorder we must learn to let go on the guilt that overcomes us. Guilt only causes more angst keeping folks in a cycle of unhealthy behaviors, so forgive yourself first to begin coping with issues around food.

Next, start slow in your attempt to change this behavior. Acknowledging the need to change a damaging relationship with food is the first step to changing it. Habits are very hard to change of course,  but the best way is to break a bad habit is to write down a plan, a course of action of sorts, and stick to it even if the plan is leading you from "baby-steps" to big changes. Simply stay the course and don't give up on your health and recovery!

Seeking treatment is another essential step. Sure, it may not be easy to share your story and get the support you need, but it's much, much harder to live a life in turmoil over an eating disorder. Disclose to someone you can trust and use them for support as you venture on your slow and steady path towards recovery.

                                              Share your insights, too! Comment below.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Become a Better Parent… When You Don’t Have the Time to Become a Better Parent - Guest Post by Diego Quevedo

I have to start by stating the obvious: I am far from the perfect parent. Being a parent is the single most important responsibility I have and just the thought of that makes me a bit anxious. Am I doing it right? Am I doing enough? Am I creating "daddy issues" in my kids? Is this real life?!?

On top of that, we are also quite a busy family: work, school, daycare, catechism, basketball, exercise, deadlines, social events, plays, and on and on. It's really quite unbelievable how fast time is going by. So that brings us to this all-too common dilemma: How do I improve as a parent when there's no time to improve as a parent? Even though we know we should check the air pressure on our tires, how do we make time for that when we're going 100mph?

While we may never be able to get rid of all our parenting insecurities and we may never be able to slow down time, I've found that there are some simple things any parent can incorporate into their already-too-busy schedule:

1. Be patient... with yourself (with the kiddos as well but let's start with ourselves). From personal experience and from talking to other parents, I know that we can often feel as if we're "not enough." As if we should be doing more for our children, attending more school events, volunteering more, etc. The constant highlight reel of other parents' social media doesn't help either ("Little Billie won Student of the Month TWICE this month?!? WTF?!?). Being patient with yourself, especially in times of frustration or when things are just not going your way, allows you to see any problem for what it truly is: temporary. This is a difficult idea to grasp if we are constantly berating ourselves as parents. I encourage you to s l o w l y  b r e a t h e. Focus on your breath and before making any decision, slow your heart rate down. This is especially useful and important when your kids are driving you up the wall.

2. Schedule time to devote to yourself on a weekly (or at least monthly) basis. Seriously. Do it right now. Talk to your spouse, parent, baby sitter, oldest child, neighbor or whomever you trust to watch your kids. Tell them, "Listen, I really need your help. I have a very important meeting with a very important person this upcoming Saturday morning and I need you to watch my kids for a few hours. I won't be long, should be back bynoon. I'll bring you lunch when I come back." You may or may not want to disclose the fact that the important meeting you are having is with yourself. I've found that whenever I devote even a few hours just to myself, whether I'm reading or exercising or simply just watching a movie, I am then much more attentive to my kids and much more grateful for them. The additional benefit of having a scheduled, predetermined time is that it also gives you a sort of reward for fully investing yourself in the service of your kids. It allows you to eliminate or at least reduce the constant internal conflict between feeling unappreciated by your children and feeling guilty for taking any kind of time to yourself. You can thus focus all of your energy in truly being present with your kids and then fully, without guilt, enjoy some me-time.

There's only one rule for these precious hours: YOU MUST DEVOTE THEM EXCLUSIVELY TO YOURSELF. No running family errands, no catching up on work, no volunteering, no anything else that benefits others. You have the other 164 hours of the week to take care of these things. Some suggestions: Spa treatment, a round of golf, sample all the pastries at Panera, wine tasting, go on a hike, go shopping, sleep, catch up on some reading, do nothing, etc.

If you're married, I would suggest you encourage your spouse to do the same thing. Support them in their "me-time" and not only will your kids see benefits but your relationship will as well.

3. Encourage and Support... someone other than your kids. But try to do it when they are within earshot.  My wife and I have discovered, as I'm sure countless parents before us have, that sometimes the best way to teach your kids is to NOT "teach" them anything. Rather, let them simply observe with no need for explanations or further dialog. We value family support in our household and we try to instill this value in our kids by demonstrating what this actually looks like. But we have found that much more effective than just telling our children that they have our support, is that they watch us encouraging others around them. When our oldest is struggling with his homework, we make sure to encourage and support him in front of his brother and sister. The encouragement may have a positive effect on the oldest but equally important it impresses upon the younger siblings what support actually looks like.

4. Create Simple Routines. Specifically a morning and a bedtime routine. Be explicit about it, create a large board where you kids can follow what the routine is.

I hesitated including this as a step as it seemed rather “obvious.” If you were to ask me a few months ago if my family had routines, I would have said, of course! But honestly, even though we did have certain patterns of doing things, it wasn’t until recently that we made a couple of our routines explicit. We actually wrote them down on a big board for all to see. And wow, it is amazing what a posted routine does to the kids.

We struggled for years, and sometimes still do, to get our oldest to take showers. It used to be a battle that would often dissolve into yelling and tears by everyone involved. Since posting our board up, the kids just follow what it says and voila, like magic the kids are showered and ready for bed. When creating your routines, allow your children to participate. In our case, they added mom or dad reading a book to them.

5. Exercise with your kids. Walk, crawl, do jumping jacks, dance, run a Spartan Race together, play basketball, whatever. Who cares what it is but be physically active with them. The family that sweats together grows together. There is a reason why sport teams develop such strong bonds. Even if you're out of shape, start now by taking a walk around the block with your child. My wife and I are planning on running a 5k next month and our eight year old son is going to join us. There are very few things in life comparable to physically pushing yourself alongside someone doing the same thing. When the person next to you is your child, the experience becomes truly special. The positive effects, even from a simple walk, then spill to all areas of your relationship. Do it now.

This is one may not be that 'easy' but it is incredibly effective: Set, strive for and accomplish your goals. For as much as we preach to our children that they can be whatever they want, that the 'sky's the limit', there is nothing more powerful than for them to watch you fight for and accomplish your dreams. That doesn't mean you have to be perfect or already be the epitome of success. Quiet contrary, it's very powerful to demonstrate to your child that the path to success can actually be very turbulent. Show them where you falter, show them where you struggle. And show them, that in spite of all this, that you don't quit. 

Diego Quevedo is a father of three young children. He enjoys reading and exercising. He's a hilarious story-teller who appreciates the creation process in all things. Plus, he's married to one gorgeous woman! Lucky guy, this one. Make sure to leave Diego a comment below to share your input or ask him additional questions on this topic!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What does your favorite color say about you?

I just read on that there's such a thing as color psychology (sort of). My kids love to quiz each other and my youngest loves asking everyone "was-ya fayvit culuh?" He's heard the same answers again and again and still he wants us each to rattle off our five uniquely different favorite colors.

Everyone's got typical faves except for my daughter who claims her favorite color is rainbow. How cute is that? Though when we have to narrow things down she goes with pink.

I didn't think much about what our favorite colors said about us and then I read this insightful article on color psychology. As I read the synopsis of each color it felt a lot like reading a horoscope. I could see the qualities described for each color and how they matched the different members of my family that liked those colors.

Here are some typical favorites and what they say about those that like them:

Orange: You are: Friendly, easy going, and probably a theater major.

Purple: You are: A wee bit off, but it your own special way. (*this happens to be my favorite, lol!)

Green: You are: Prone to putting lots of importance on money and security.

Red: You are: Bold, sexually charged, and want to make a lasting impression.

Black: You are: Part moody, part sophisticated. 

Blue: You are: Calm, cool, and able to keep things more even keel than most. 

Do you agree that we can tell a lot about a person when we know their favorite color?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Daily Affirmations

Some people start their day with a good 30 minutes of meditative yoga. It is a great way to set yourself for a happy and calm day. But if you are anything like me squeezing an extra 30 minutes into your morning routine is pretty much impossible. Even if your mornings are hectic you can fit in a daily affirmation.

So what is an affirmation?

Well it is a sentence that you repeat to yourself or out loud. These sentences are meant to help inspire, energize and motivate you. The right affirmation can keep your mind focused, help you connect with other people and learn to love yourself a little more.

You can find daily affirmations online, in a book or even make them up yourself. I love that you can change them up to whatever you need that day. You can also repeat these sentences to yourself all throughout the day.

Here are a few to get you started.

Friday, February 13, 2015

All You Need Is Love

From HerMamas to you and yours...

How will you celebrate this weekend???

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day Card Help

2 more days until Valentine's Day! Maybe you already have the perfect gift and the last, most personal touch, is the card. You have probably been staring at it for days trying to come up with the perfect words to write to your beloved. If you can't seem to find the right words to say maybe these famous quotes from literature can help.

Whatever you choose to write just make sure it comes from the heart. 
Happy Early Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mean Nurse Situation

I've never self-identified as a helicopter parent. Plus I'm often too swamped in life's daily commitments to hover around my grade schooler long enough to micromanage his school life. Then there was a "situation" with my kid's school nurse and I was hovering to the max.

My kid came home crying explaining how the school nurse was "soooo rude to him and very mean." As I drove away from his school and the story unfolded, I was using every ounce of me not to turn back and walk right into the office and up to the school nurse asking for answers. Turns out the school nurse was upset because of how my son returned a borrowed shirt to school.

He mentioned she was angry and that she said he couldn't "come into office anymore or borrow anything again." Now for the backstory: on a Friday my kid fell into mud and the nurse's office let him borrow a shirt that he was asked to "wash and return" on Monday. I was so proud of my kid who not only remembered on his own to wash this loaner shirt over the weekend, but he also remembered, again on his own, to grab it out of the dryer Monday morning to return it to school.  He walked into the nurse's office bright and early to return it and the nurse suddenly got upset as my kiddo puts it. The only thing that could have possibly bugged her was possibly a wrinkled, not so neatly folded shirt, but is that reason enough to scold a 3rd grader? Clearly my son carried these feelings all day if they were the first thing to spill out of him at the end of his school day. With this, I knew my son was expressing genuine hurt.

As my son told me the story I asked him to let me know what he wanted me to do. I imagine that makes me less helicopter-parent-ish. I coached him on what he could do. As we drove further and further away from school he mentioned I didn't have to talk to the nurse but maybe just email someone. Of course, I had gently suggested intervening if he wanted me to via email. He agreed and off went an email directly to the school principal asking for answers and explaining that my child was pretty hurt my the nurse's harsh approach. 

Immediately the principal wrote back and within 24 hours my kid was back in the nurse's office getting an explanation and apology from the nurse. He was encouraged to return to office anytime.  

Sadly, the spat did have something to do with how "unneatly folded" the loaner shirt was returned to school. What? Really, Ms. Nurse? Like I mentioned to the principal in my email: a wrinkled t-shift isn't reason enough to crush a child's spirit and yet that's what apparently occurred. 

All in all, an email appeared to connect us all, and more importantly,  my son was at ease once the matter was addressed. I also encouraged him to reach out to his guidance counselor if he ever felt emotional about an adult's approach while in school. The principal mirrored this approach and said his follow up would be with my son in the next few days about who my child could turn to (principal, counselor) should this occur again.

What do you think about how this was handled? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ain't No Party Like a Measles Party!

Thanks to a case of measles reported at Disneyland the issue of vaccines has been all over the news and social media. The debate between those who vaccinate and those who do not have been loud and aggressive. 

The latest chapter of this saga is the idea of Measles Parties! That's right, it is exactly what you think. Parents of unvaccinated children are getting together to expose their kids to the illness in order to become immune to the illness the "old-fashion way". Of course the California Department of Health is strongly recommending against this stating there is no reason to expose a child to a potential deadly illness that has the potential to spread to others. 

This is not the first time we have seen something like this. A few years ago we wrote about the Chicken Pox Lollipops. Parents were buying online lollipops licked by kids with the virus. In fact before the chicken pox vaccines were introduced in 1995, Chicken pox parties were a real thing. Many felt it was better to just get it over with. In some families if one child got chicken pox the other children would be exposed so that the parents could just deal with it all at the same time. 

Of course these are those who feel that this kind of parenting is just too risky, especially when it comes to an illness like measles which is not as mild as chicken pox and has a 28% hospital rate for children under 5. 

Do you think measles parties are taking things too far?? 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Killer Shrimp

Today's Monday which means $10 killer shrimp dishes at Killer Shrimp a so-cal restaurant that packs a punch in BIG flavors. In honor of killer shrimp Monday, I've pulled together some classic shrimp dishes to recommend for dinner tonight and so-cal seafood restaurants that many are sure to love...

Up first, the venues:

Boiling Crab: this place has multiple locations in so-cal. They're the kind of spot that includes not only a bib (which is essential) but serves their servings of shrimp deliciousness out of a plastic bag. This saucy shrimp dish is drenched in garlic and spices. You'll be hard-pressed to find someone who tries Boiling Crab and doesn't love their "bag-o-shrimp" goodness! 

San Pedro Fishmarket: this Fishmarket has it all. Located at the wharf in San Pedro there's more to this place than the delicious tray of buttery shrimp served with garlic bread and salsa. This shrimp platter is full of flavor and seasoned to perfection. Plus, enjoy the live music and shopping that comes with visiting this Fishmarket so-cal standard!

Killer Shrimp: I mentioned it so I must elaborate. There are multiple locations and each with its own vibe. I love the beachside Hermosa, Ca. location that offers convinenent parking, happy hour deals and fast service. Their speciality is a fantastic "killer shrimp" dish which is basically a saucy medley of jumbo shrimp slow-cooked to perfection in the most delicious broth. Have it served with rice, bread or pasta. However you decide, you'll surely love it! 

Classic dishes to try tonight for dinner or to endulge at your favorite seafood spots:

1. Shrimp Ceviche
2. Coconut Shrimp 
3. Shrimp Skewers
4. Bacon Wrapped Grilled Shrimp
5. Shrimp Stew

What's your favorite shrimp restaurant or recipe? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

HerMamas Rewind: What I Should Have Said

The post was originally posted in March of 2013.

We have all been here. In a situation where we were tongue tied. Then hours later all the words you wish you would have said surface. This just happened to Jamie G. 

Recently Jamie was at a doctors office for a follow-up appointment for her 2 year old son. While in the waiting room Jamie was given dirty looks and could plainly hear a woman talking about her and her son. In the moment Jamie ignored her and let the woman's words hurt her feelings. It was obvious she needed to vent. Who wouldn't after such an incident? So I suggested she write a letter to the woman.......

Dear Lady sitting in the doctor's office waiting room with her daughter holding her Grandson,

                 I did not appreciate the glare you gave me while my son was playing with his train on the kid table, yes I said KID TABLE, at the doctors in the waiting room. Then you went and bad mouthed my son in Spanish while he organized 2 chairs in a row and started playing drums on them with his hands. How and when did him being full of energy and creativity become, as you put it “trouble making". You said that he was "causing problems, he had too much energy, and that’s what happens when his mom never watches him”. And that is just what I overheard. I can only imagine what else you said about us.

        I saw you look down on us and I just sat there truly saddened at how cruel you are. My son had visited urgent care just 3 days before this and was in pain. While he was in pain all I wanted was his usual self back. I walked right past you as they called us back and I felt your eyes glaring at me. I felt guilty and it affected me so much that I told the doctor. His response was “ That is how little boys are full of energy it’s normal. HOW RUDE!” So as I was coming home all the sadness went away and I felt like I had to stand up for what was right. I felt that my feelings should have not been ignored. I want you to know that I worked with kids as a site leader at an after school program and I know what is appropriate public behavior. I have been a stay at home mom since my son was born, and I do watch him, all day, everyday. I encourage his creativeness and I let him be a kid. We were at a Doctors office lady. All I did was let my son be himself. He wasn't doing anything wrong! He is a normal 2 year old who is full of energy. Like all other 2 year olds he is rambunctious, vivacious, lively, sweeter than life, healthy, thriving, lovable toddler. No we do not encourage sugar in his diet because he is a natural energizer bunny all day. 

                 You made me feel like something was wrong with us and that we needed to change but  I have come to the conclusion that ....

I just kindly ask that next time you sit in an office and you decide to lay judgment on a 2 year old have compassion. You can't judge someone by sitting in a waiting room with them for a short period of time. So lady please next time think twice and love others how you would want to be loved! Next time and I hope there is not a next time I will not let someone make us feel any less or give us the stink eye like you did. 

Seriously who could bad mouth this face? 

Has this ever happened to you? When you wish you would have said something when you had the chance? 

Jamie is Mommy to 2 year old Michael and is married to her charming and funny husband Michael. Jamie is sweet as sugar. At her son's last birthday party while unwrapping gifts she referred to a Spiderman toy as a "Spiderman Barbie". She has 5 older sisters so this boy stuff is still new to her. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Valentine's Day Gifts That Don't Suck

The big day is less than two weeks away and today I heard a great ad about how significant others always know when gifts were picked last minute without much thought put into them. I've so been that girl and CVS has bailed me out plenty. My hubby was likely very underwhelmed by his trial size cologne and nose hair clipper the last time that happened.

This year I vow to give this holiday the attention it deserves. Here are a few of the angles I'm considering that take a lot more planning than a last minute trip to the local convenience store.

1. Buy personalized goods! Things Remembered located in most malls offers wonderful engraved gifts. I saw a beautiful globe that would be such a lovely piece for my honey's office. Plus, they do same-day engraving, but if you go this route, don't wait. Great pieces and deals often sell-out! Another great engraved gift is a personalized journal or for the religious types purchase engraved bibles. Now that's thoughtful!

2. Paint a canvas! This doesn't have to be something out of Monet's page but I once received a handmade canvass painted with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. This was so thoughtful and today remains one of my favorite gifts. If you aren't artsy then order a large canvas photo. These are so beautiful and simple to order. Many simply order these at Costco and they're such a thoughtful detail. A picture of the two of you or something that reminds you of your relationship (e.g. travel photos) would be quite romantic for Vday.

3. Kidnap your love! Now this takes time and thoughtfulness but it's truly a romantic gesture. My husband once had my boss clear a day-off and arrange a fictitious meeting. There I was thinking I was headed to a day-long "meeting" when the hubby showed up at my work with a large bouquet of flowers. He kidnapped me for a day of fun activities (lunch, movies, & shopping). This surprise was such a fun idea and something anyone can pull off just before Vday to avoid the crowds and get a head start on celebrating! Just do a little research and email your partner's boss for clearance. Hopefully most are a-ok with a romantic gesture as this!

There you have three thoughtful ideas that take more than a last minute trip to CVS. What were some of the best Valentine's Day gifts you've ever received?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Parenthood

I have an issue where I tend to get way to emotionally attached to fictional characters. I do it with books and television shows. Last week the NBC family drama Parenthood came to an end. After watching faithfully for 6 seasons I had to say goodbye to the Braverman family. I would say that over the last 6 years I have cried at 85% of the episodes. My husband will claim it's 100%. But I don't think I cried as hard as I did watching the finale last week. My kids were worried about me.

I loved this show so much because it was about a family who loved each other through all the drama that happens to real families. Through it all the matriarch and patriarch of the family were there to help their children and grandchildren through it all. This last season was particularly emotional and the ending was beautiful and real and heartbreaking. When I was still crying 20 minutes after the show had ended I realized I was so sad because what this family went through on the last episode happens to all families. And it will happen to mine.

This show was beautifully written and filled with emotion. If you haven't watched it head over to Netflix now and start binge watching. Also if you are a fan of Friday Night Lights you will see a lot of your favorites on this show. Even Jason Street makes am appearance in the last 5 minutes of the show.

Have you ever become emotionally attached to a show? 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

All those other moms are doing it WRONG!

What is it about parents, and people in general, that we get satisfaction from criticizing and sometimes even condemning those that are different than us? When it comes to motherhood I've been on a few different sides of the spectrum. I took two years to be at home with my oldest and was a stay-at-home-mom. I've also given 60+ hours of weekly work to my profession and lived in the capacity of working mom. I've been the super into fitness mom and the hands-off anti-spanking momma type. Boy, did anti-spanking get criticized by our (Latino) relatives.

On all sides of the wide parenting spectrum, I often felt judged. Now this wasn't a constant, but it existed and the following video perfectly captures this competitive parent notion. It also puts things into the best perspective for those of us judging at present or being judged. And every parent falls somewhere on this scale...

Tell me you cried, too? Better yet, tell me you get it!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bring on the Noise...all day long

Is it just me or does silence really freak you out? To me there is something about silence that makes me super paranoid. I always have to have something playing in the background. Right now I have an open tab playing a podcast. I try to keep noise going on all day long. 

My morning alarm is set to music. Choosing the song is always a month long internal debate with myself. For a long time I was waking up to Jack Johnson's "As I was Saying". Mr. Johnson's light guitar vibe is a great way to gently wake up in the morning. I don't like the many alerts my iPhone comes with - way too jarring to wake up to. I like to be gently lulled awake. I recently changed my alarm song to You and I by Pink. The guitar opening is a nice way to start the day. 

During my day there is podcasts, music or television on (sometimes in my house it's all 3!). When it's time for bed I always put in my earbuds and fire up a podcast. Right now I have been listening to my new crush, Marc Maron's podcast WTF. Now I'm the type of person who falls asleep 2 seconds after my head hits the pillow, so most times I only get to listen to the intro and I am out. But if I try to fall asleep without someone yapping my ear I will lay there for a long time trying to fall asleep. 

I just saw that this existed...

Yes headphones and keeps my hair out of my face! I am sold!