Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Creating a Family Command Center

Ever heard of a family command center?

My husband heard of one and it changed his life. He immediately cleared out a wall in our family room and got to work on his latest design idea (thank you, Pinterest):

Our center will look a lot like the one pictured above except it'll be more family-oriented. We plan to have a large roll of butcher paper for art projects and drawing, a few hooks for kids' coats and backpacks, art supplies, and a cell phone/mail drop. Another must have is a large Q to represent our last name. The hubby is adding a cross and favorite quote (directly painted on the wall) as well as a clock.

As you can see there are plenty of options when building a command center. The best part is the whole family will be organized around one key area in your home. A couple of must-haves in any center:

  • calendar
  • dry erase board and markers
  • mail drop

Having this space of organized chaos in any home is just what every family needs. This command center reinforces a family's daily routine of homework, chores, and multiple schedules. Plus, this project doesn't need to be costly. Find a wall in your home and fill it with hanging file bins and office supplies (calendar, notepad, and markers) from the Dollar Store, and poof, there's your command center.

How would you design the ideal family command center in your home?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Emergency Medical ID on Your iPhone

Last week I upgraded my iPhone to the ios 9 operating systems and when all was said and done I noticed an icon for "Medical ID" a place to input my medical emergency information that anyone can access if needed.

Have you ever noticed on your lock screen. There is Emergency button...

If you click on it , even if locked, will take you to this screen...

From here you can make an emergency call. There is also a button *Medical ID. Here someone can click and see your emergency contact info as well as blood type, allergies and medical issues.

Here are some quick steps to set up your medical ID. Go into your Health App on your iPhone you well be taken to the dashboard. On the bottom right is where you can see and edit your medical ID info.

This is a great feature that can help save someone in an emergency situation. Great job Apple! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Books That Change Your Life

There are timeless books that change people's lives time and time again. Oprah recently did an entire one hour special on Paolo Coehlo the author of The Alchemist. Tell me, you've read it? I wouldn't be surprised if you answered yes. It's been translated into countless languages and thousands credit this book with literally changing their lives. I won't give anything away, but I will assure anyone new to this book that Coehlo beautifully tells a tale of a man on a journey of transformation. This is a story anyone hungry for success must read. Add it to your reading list, immediately.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a must read, too. This book isn't as renowned as the first gem listed but it's another life-changer. Have you ever wanted to cling to a simple life philosophy to experience calm, intentional happiness? Better yet, looking to simply better your everyday habits while interacting with other? If so, this book is for you. Made up of 4 basic principles to live by. This book like the Alchemist  is simple, poetic and without a doubt, tansformative.  

Not into reading lenthy books, but looking for a little inspiration? Read this tiny classic from 1912: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. This book is fictional, and yet, the short principals are powerful enough to impact a lifetime. Pick this one up, today.

Seeking spirituality? Grew up with religious guilt? This may not be you, but for someone who grew up surrounded by die-hard Catholics who piled on the catholic guilt, Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh was a pretty transformative read. Dive in if you're looking for a new spin on what it means to live spiritually connected.

 What books have changed your life?

Friday, September 25, 2015

1989 By Taylor... wait no... by Ryan Adams

Yup, exact same songs as the Taylor Swift album with a heck of a lot more edgier sounds. This album sounds like a version for adults. If I had never hear of Taylor Swift (yes I know these days that is impossible) and I just heard this album I would LOVE it. It has am 80's rock vibe to it. It made me think of The Cure and Morrissey.

All your favorite T Swift songs are on here but completely revamped for a more mellow coffee house vibe. "Blank Space" goes from a crazy girl theme song to a slow melodic guitar filled ballad. "Style" gets an awesome 80's glam vibe added to it. "Shake it Off" gets a Bruce Springsteen feel and it totally worked. It transforms the song to something even the manliest of men would listen to. "Bad Blood" goes from a anthem to a fun song that you can imagine singing around a campfire.  "This Love" becomes a gorgeous haunting song.

This album is gorgeous and demonstrates what a talented and creative singer Ryan Adams is. I think this also highlights the fact that Taylor Swift is a damn good songwriter. She is listed as a writer for every song on the 1989 album.

Have you listened to Ryan Adams, 1989 album yet? It is streaming on Spotify! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pope and a 5-year Old Child

If you were anywhere online yesterday then you probably heard all about Sophia Cruz, a 5 year old who not only crossed the barrier during the Pope's procession but managed to hug Pope Francis and deliver a note with a heart wrenching message. Her letter said...

Pope Francis, 

I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents. I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing metals. Immigrants like my dad feed this country. They therefore deserve to live with dignity, they deserve to be respected, they deserve immigration reform, because it would be beneficial to my country, and because they have earned it working very hard, picking oranges, onions, watermelons, spinach, lettuce, and many other vegetables. Don’t forget about us the children, or about those who suffer because they’re not with their parents because of war, because of violence, because of hunger.

Wow! Just wow.  I tried to read this out-loud to my daughter but couldn't get through it without crying. This letter was so emotional because Sophie's fears are the fears of thousand and thousands of children's fears. With one act this little girl has brought a very important issue to the forefront of the media. What an amazing little girl with a powerful message about immigration. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Initiating Sex

Yes we are going to go there and it's going to get a little personal. Ready? (Mom and Dad you have been warned...)

So in my house, my husband and I have different ideas about who is suppose to initiate sex. I really believe that if we could just get on the same page about it we could have a lot more sex. My husband's feelings on the issue is that he is always willing and ready for sex. I can always assume that he wants to have sex. I just have to say the word. Kind of this like...

My feelings are a bit different. I am very much the leader of the tribe during the day. I am cooking, cleaning, working, homeschooling, making every decision for all of us all day long. I feel like I am initiating our whole life all day long. I feel like the least that my husband can do is be in charge of our sex life. I am the dominant one in everything else. I don't want to have to be the dominate one when it comes to our sex life. And really by the time I am getting into bed I am still dealing with the stress of the day and balancing and planning out the next day. It's hard for me to really relax and get into the mood. But nothing can make me forget about the to-do list and budgeting for the rest of the week faster than when my husband initiates sex.

And let's face it, my husband doesn't need to be put in the mood. He has already stated that he is always in the mood.

I can see why my husband would assume that because I am always so stressed that I don't want sex. This is far from the truth. Sex is a great way to get out of my own head and reconnect with him and actually relax. So what's the solution?

Some people will schedule sex, and that's great, but just not for me. If I see "have sex" on my daily planner it will just feel like one more damn thing I have to fit into my already packed day. I need it to be more spontaneous and with less pressure. I think if my husband and I just talk about it and really understand how the other feels then maybe we can both initiate sex more. Because when it comes down to it, that's what we both want.

Who do you think should initiate sex? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stress Cues: Listening to Your Body

Sometimes we don't realize just how stressed we are. Then boom, it hits us. Maybe we're anxiously lashing out for no reason, exhausted beyond measure, or our body begins to manifest gnarly side effects of stress. I can completely relate to the latter.

I've never in my life suffered from issues of eye twitching. Then suddenly my eye began twitching after I'd sneeze. I thought nothing of it, until it began to twitch out of the blue and for minutes on end. Today, the twitching was so bad my eye would close for a couple of seconds. I didn't know what brought it on, but a quick google search revealed it's likely stress and anxiety. 

I didn't feel mentally stressed or overwhelmed, but my body surely was. The twitch was brought on as I drove to a site visit for a very important fundraiser my agency is planning four days from now. If that's not stress-inducing I don't know what is. Clearly my body was responding with anxiety even if I felt I wasn't stressed.

This outward sign of stress is a great cue to relax my mind and body. And that's exactly what I did. Deep breathes followed as did a warm bath and early bedtime. 

Our bodies usually give us exactly the cues we need, we simply must listen to them. Stressors manifest in countless ways and though we may want to ignore the signs, we shouldn't. Our longtime health depends on listening to our body's stress cues.

Are you ignoring the stress cues your body creates?

1. Inability to sleep
2. Eye twitching 
3. Overeating - quick weight gain
4. Extreme fatigue
5. Increasing irritability 
6. Aching body
7. Nail-biting  
8. Trembling body movements 
9.  Migraines
10.Loss of appetite - quick weight loss

All of the above might seem obvious, or worse, they may not. Take a deep breath and ask yourself if one or more of the above is happening to you. If the answer is yes, it's time to breathe deeply and schedule time to relax and destress. Distressing is as simple as taking time to meditate, pray, sleep-in, partake in calming breathing exercises, get pampered, or something all together better: go on vacation! 

How do you handle stress in your life?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall Bucket List

On Wednesday, Autumn officially begins. Summer is officially over but this doesn't mean the fun and adventures have to stop!

I love Fall. Over the years I have been seeing these great bucket lists all over Pinterest. Print our your list and you can cross off as you go on these great adventures and make lots of memories!

I love this idea. It is a great way to make the most of the cool weather.

Here are few things to get your list started..

  • Bake some chocolate chip pumpkin muffins.
  • Go Apple Picking. Oak Glen, Ca is a great place to go apple picking! 
  • Go to a high school football game. 
  • Visit a pumpkin patch.
  • Make caramel apples.
  • Get a family photo with the pretty fall colors. 
  • Pick and make a costume.
  • Drink hot cider around a campfire.
What are some of you favorite fall activities? 

Friday, September 18, 2015

True Love Liberates.... Parents Must Hear This!

Maya Angelou gets me every time....

Share your touching quotes or videos with

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Screen Addiction Taking a Toll

According to the New York Times and a study done in China screen addiction is taking a severe toll on Chinese teens. The study indicates that teens who grew up with excessive electronic screen time not only begin to see the real world as fake, but they are so addicted to virtual content such as games and apps., they often sit in front of a screen for so long they forgo sleep, food and even bathroom breaks.

Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010 noted that the “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.” This number is staggering and applies to youth in the U.S. 

Just as I declared this isn't the case for my family, I remembered that my son uses a tablet in school. He not only uses it for class assignments, but in his after school program which could be 3 straight hours of usage. Then he comes home and I think nothing of his time on the iPad but could it be he's going on hour 8 of screen time?

Though the U.S. doesn't have an official "screen addiction" diagnosis in the medical field it's safe to say that advances in technology are leading to such issues in many American homes. TV was once the "babysitter" of children, and just as that proved less than ideal for child development, tablets and cellphones are the new time-waster for kids utilized by parents to "entertain" their children. I, for one, am 100% guilty of this.

I was recently on a 10-day vacation where we were without wi-fi mostly all day. This break was heaven sent. It led me to assess just how much my children asked for a screen or claimed to be bored. The truth of the matter is that screen time is increasingly prevalent in most homes. It's a sad substitute for fuller human interaction and can lead to issues in adulthood. China is seeing the impacts of this already, so parents must limit screen time whether we like it or not. This concept is nothing new, but the research is and that can't be ignored.

Do you agree with this Hermana?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Weeknd's New Album is Fire

I first heard of this artist like most mainstreamers: while watching Fifty Shades of Grey. Two songs appeared in the film which led me to immediately google the lyrics. The voice, the melody, and the sensual style drew me. Thereafter the hubby and I were hooked. The Weeknd does that to couples, or anyone for that matter. 

Then there was Aug. 28th. The Weeknd dropped a new album on this date featuring artists such as Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Ray; need I say more? As my nephew put it, this album is FIRE!

You're going to have to be okay with explicit lyrics, a lot of them. There will be no disappointment with Beauty Behind the Madness. In true The Weeknd form, it's sexy hot music. It's also different than other popish music out there. Songs don't all sound the same and beyond the occasional explicit lyrics, his sentiments about love, heartbreak and desire resonate.

Do yourself a favor and check out this album. Once you're done with it, move on to all other jams by The Weeknd! I suggest the Trilogy album. I especially like What You Need and Wicked Games, but again, lyrics are explicit, just the way I personally like music intended to be sexy -- because what's sexy without the occasional p****y or F bomb?

Who are you listening to these days?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

YouTube Gaming: A waste of time?

Recently YouTube came out with a new service called YouTube gaming. I thought that this was a place where you could go to play your favorite games. I was wrong, this is a place where you can go to watch other people play your favorite games. Yes just watch someone else play. When my 10 year old explained this to me I could not think of anything more boring. I don't even like to watch people I know in real life play video games. I am just not a gamer. Never really have been. Well I did go through that "Guitar Hero" phase like 10 years ago. 

Apparently I am not the only one who thinks that YouTube Gaming is a complete waste of time. Jimmy Kimmel recently pissed off a whole lot of people when he talked smack about it. He is now getting death threats on the daily. I am still trying to wrap my head around this idea so I turned to my family, the ones who love video games for some answers.

" It's fun to follow someone because there is something new to watch everyday" - Sophia L. 10 years old

"It's the games I like to play and it helps me to get better at my games. I watch games that I don't have and it makes me want to play them" - Felix C. 9 years old

" The people are funny. My favorite is Diamond Mine Cart. I like to learn about different mods" - Liliana C. Age 9

"It's the same as people who watch sports. Just because you aren't playing doesn't mean you don't like watching." - Maria C. Age 16

"I think its generational. Open world games like MineCraft are a different style. There is no storyline. If I get stuck in a game I will exhaust all my possibilities before thinking about watching a walk-thru. I would watch for promos on new game releases. " - Kelly M. Age 32

" When I am playing a Lego game and I get stuck and my son Felix is not home, asleep, or just doesn't want to help I can go and watch a walk-thru and get unstuck. Shout out to Happy Thumb Gaming! " - Carissa G. Age 35

So my family all have some good points. I guess I can see the appeal to people who really like video games. I mean who am I to judge, I have been known to watch knitting tutorials for fun. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Patriot Day

All of us will never forget where we were and what it felt like on that day 14 years ago. As a nation our world was turned upside down and as we dealt with the loss and the fear a tremendous sense of pride and liberty emerged. On October 25, 2011 a bill was introduced to the U.S. House to make September 11th a national day of mourning. Since 2009, President Barack Obama has designated today Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. 

On this day flags with be flown at half mast and the nation will observe a moment of silence to remember the 2,977 people that were lost that day. This is also a day and an opportunity to bring back that sense of community and national pride that we felt after the brutal attacks. A way to accomplish this is to do something of service for your community.

If you are not sure what you can do for you community you can visit the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance website, just click here.  You can simply enter your zip code to find a place to volunteer. However you choose to honor today take some time to remember those that were lost and to be thankful to be living in the United States of America. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

10 Ways to Ask Your Child "How Was School Today?"

Kids seem tired of hearing "how was your day?" With my kiddos, I'm sure of it! When I ask them "how was school", I always get the same answer: "gooood." To which I follow-up with "what does good mean?" Then they may elaborate, but usually, I'm left wanting more!

Here's the run down on some alternative questions that just might get you (and me) the answers we want:

1. Tell me the funnest thing you did today? How about you show me why it made you laugh?
2. Did anyone make you laugh today? How and why?
3. What was your favorite assignment/project today?
4. If you were in charge, how would you have taught one of today's lessons?
5. What's the funniest thing you heard today?
6. What was one challenge you had in school today?
7. Want to role-play what you did during recess?
8. Did you learn something new today... Can you teach me what that was?
9. How did you make someone at school feel good today?
10. Anything surprise you about your time at school? 

Of course these are a simple spin on the same old question, but spinning around your same daily question just might get you more info. Plus, I love the idea of having your child role play, talk about challenges and repeat fun and funny moment with specific examples.

What's your go-to after school question?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Weeknd

Where the heck did this guy come from??

Over the weekend (pun intended!) I kept hearing a song on the radio and I would say, "I really like this, who is it?" 3 times and 3 different songs and the answer was the same "The Weeknd". This guy is dominating pop radio and has me playing his new album, Beauty Behind the Madness  on repeat.

This 25 year old Canadian got his name after "leaving one weekend and never coming back". He dropped the third e simply because there was already a group called The Weekend.   He debuted himself at Coachella in 2012 and has been working hard every since. You may know his song "Devil May Cry" from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. Or maybe you know him from the smash hit "Elastic Heart" by Sia. (Yup that's him!) Of course he really made a splash with the song "Earned It", the best part to come out of the 50 Shades of Grey movie. Since then he has released hit after hit. His smooth R&B sounds remind me of D'Angelo and there are times when I swear he is channeling Michael Jackson himself.

Check him out.....


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Would You Try This "Weird" Cultural Delicacies?

I grew up on menudo. Comfort food at its best. It's a stew/soupy concoction made up of one primary ingredient: beef stomach lining and red chili broth. Sounds gross to some, but to me, it's absolutely tasty. Thank you Mexico
for this deliciousness. 

Escargot is French cuisine made up of snails. These little suckers are actually very good. I tried them drenched in garlic and loved the flavor. Folks simply have to get over the fact that they're using a tiny spoon to gut a snail!

Frog feet are considered common among many cultures. These fried little guys actually look good? But could you chomp on these. I have yet to try frog legs, but if it's anything like the one time I ate turtle in the Caribbean -- it is mmmm mmmm good!

Have you caught those hilarious videos that show a medly of folks trying cultural foods for the first time. It's hilarious and there's some on multiple countries. Google it and enjoy it :) but be warned, hairy eggs and animal embryos might make the menu! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Crazy Nail Trends

Last week I was at my standard nail appointment talking with my super cool manicurist and we got on the topic of some of these new and bizarre nail trends that are out there. Here are 2 recent trends that even my manicurist thinks is a bit over the top.

Bubble Nails

I remember back in my broke college days I could not afford to go to the nail salon to get acrylic nails done I thought I would give it a try myself. Since I did not have all the right drills to sand down the acrylic they ended up looking like blobs of acrylic. That is exactly what this bubble nail trend looks like.

Aquarium Nails

This trend uses clear tips and a syringe of water to make a floating water effect inside the nail. Yes like an actual aquarium. This is so far out! I can't imagine how long this process must take to do! Imagine have a leak in your nail!

Click here for a video on how this Aquarium nail is done!

What do you think of these crazy nail trends? Would you be asking your manicurist for one? 

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Best Way to Spend a 3-day Weekend

There's a 3-day weekend up ahead and we at want to wish you a fun one. Here are some great tips to make this Labor Day a blast...

Other than the obvious BBQ, try these fun ideas:

1. Visit museums that usually have free Monday admission, some may be closed, but call head and you just may get lucky.

2. Get organized. Doesn't it always seem like the weekend comes and goes and you didn't get anything accomplished? Use a 3-day break to organize your home and life.

3. Truly disconnect. Go on a remote getaway. The best are camping sites where you have no cellular signal. That's the best way to detach and unwind.

4. Road trip! It's always a fun idea to get in your car and drive. Pick small low-key destinations to avoid the busy crowds of your usual destination spots and use the three day weekend to explore.

5. Visit San Diego for the 3-day break in October. In October, kids eat and entertain for free. San Diego amusement and dining locations are offering kids go free options the entire month much like national parks are doing all of Sept.

6. Plan a staycation. There's usually great hotels and restaurants in our own communities. Plan a three day trip locally and enjoy. You'll find three days the perfect length of time for a fun staycation.

What are you up to this Labor Day? Share your three day weekend plans with us!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I'm Too Old for This...

While listening to a local radio show some weeks ago an entire morning team rattled off all the things they were "too old" for. Their answers were spot on. This got me thinking about the things I'm just "too old" for.

Some of the examples from the show: 

  • Established folks still visiting parents and sleeping on the couch as if you can't afford COMFORTABLE and pleasant hotel accommodations. 
  • Folks in their thirties and still using a Laundromat? That's "too old" to not have a personal washer and dryer. 
  • Still listening to teenybopper music well after your prime? You just might be "too old". 
  • One thing the entire team could agree on: not having enough money in a savings account passed a certain age. 

Each show host and caller resonated with me and as I heard what they were "too old" for I realized I also had a list of my own. Just then, I scanned my cheerio-infested car and literally said "I'm too old for this". That day I ran out and bought new seat covers. I'm too darn grown to use the mom card a.k.a drive a dumptruck on wheels. It's been three weeks since this revelation and my car remains in tip-top shape. Yes, I was "too old" to not take better car of my car. I'm also "too old" to sleep-in, and "too old" to shop at Forever 21 (okay maybe I don't totally agree with that), though I don't think all Forever 21 clothing styles fit my life and career needs.

What are things you're "too old" for? When you think about it, there's plenty. Even better, you start focusing and doing age-appropriate things and not simply settling for less because you did that when you were younger. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Great Back-to-School Night Questions to Ask

The big back-to-school outfit was a hit. New backpacks were picked out and students have their school supplies. For most families, back to school season is in full swing. What's coming up soon is back-to-school night. To set the year off right consider asking some of these thoughtful questions at back-to-school night.

Firstly, my 4th grader thinks this would be a great question for every parent to ask:

Are you willing to do something fun and interesting everyday e.g. board game, project, experiment or anything cool? If so, what coolness can kids look forward to daily?

Now for the momma-bear questions:

What are you goals for the school year?

How often will my child receive one-on-one attention?

How much homework should we expect?

How would you handle it if my child was struggling in your class?

How do you take part in the learning process?

How do you measure academic progress?

How do I encourage the learning process at home?

Are there any great resources I should know about outside of the classroom?

How would you handle if a child reports to feeling bullied or socially challenged?

This set of questions is just a sampling. To truly feel you've gotten the best out of back-to-school night consider referencing this list or create your own before the big night. Now, go have yourself a wonderful school year with your child (ren)!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Every Kid in a Park Pledge

This is the coolest thing! The National Park Foundation has announced a new initiative that will give all 4th graders and their families access to  all the national parks for free for the school year. That's right all the parks for free!

Starting today you can head over the and sign up your 4th grader for the 2015-2016 school year. The pass will get you into national parks, national forests, and national wildlife refuges. Here are a few places in California you can visit...

  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Yosemite National Park 

Of course in our house this great program is a year to late, (I have a 5th grader!) but I encourage all parents of 4th graders to sign-up. Even of you go just to one park this year you can save $$!

Click Here to sign your 4th grader up!