Mom Skill to Master: The Reverse Tantrum

Mom Skill to Master: The Reverse Tantrum

There is nothing more terrifying than witnessing tantrum onset: a sharp inhale followed by an intense flood of tears spilling out of glazed over eyes that have you questioning how much it would cost to hire an exorcist to compel the power of Christ to save your child.

Forget waterboarding….let’s work out a toddler-leasing program with the CIA and FBI.  We’ll get our answers and we’ll get them NOW.

Tantrums never happen when you have a wide open day with little to nothing to get done.

No, silly mommies, no.

They don’t.

They don’t happen when Daddy is spending the day laughing and giggling and tickling and doing all the other fun stuff mommy “never” does.  Who hasn’t wanted to deck their spouse when they have the audacity to say “but they never do that with me”?

As if.

You see, tantrums are strategic events that systematically render the target (read: mommy) defenseless and desperate for immediate appeasement.

Think about it.  Most tantrums happen when you’re…

- on the phone for an official/important reason

- running late

- sick or have a headache

- on a deadline

- frustrated or stressed out with fiftymillion other things outside of mom-dom

Am I right?  Am I right?

So check this out.  I came across this cool commercial I saw when we lived in the UK:

Reverse tantrumSee?  Now that’s a mom that has mad mama skills.

The next time La Rubia (or, heaven forbid, La Grande) attempts a temper tantrum, I’m seriously considering unleashing the ultimate tantrum response tool: The Reverse Tantrum.

How do you deal with tantrums?  Have you ever thrown a reverse tantrum?  Would you consider throwing a reverse tantrum?

17 Reasons My Husband Has It Easier

17 Reasons My Husband Has It Easier

That’s right.  I said it  I’m calling him out.  He has it easier.  He has it freer.  He’s…well…he’s in deep doo-doo.  I’m putting this out for the world to see, and I bet my sisters-in-arms will see it just like I do.  Get this…

Hubby gets home from work and scoops the girls up to hang with him while he changes out of his G.I. Joe gear.  I always appreciate the 10 minutes of golden silence I get to put on my ‘spouse hat’…it’s like a mental commute. A-MAZING.  As I’m having a calgon-take-me-away mental break, I hear him call out, “Hey, Hon?  Can you come grab La Rubia?”  My answer: an incredulous “Why?!”

Him: “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Me: “So, go.”

Him: “I can’t.  I have to GO.”

Me: “Just leave the door open.  Let her go with you.”

Him: <offended and slightly put out> “I can’t do that!  I’m a man!”

Me: <annoyed and on the brink> “What do you mean you can’t?  I haven’t seen the inside of a bathroom without an audience in almost 6 years!  Plus, you’re sitting.  You won’t scar her.”

Him: “Come on.  I have to go and I’m not going with an audience.” <closes door>

Me: <like Krakatoa> “Are you kidding me?  This is a horrible double standard!  You will pay!”

And pay, he will.  I  mean, he is.  I am putting this out there for all the stay at home spouses that don’t get a break while holding down the fort, grappling with the kiddos, and making it look easy.  Your other half has no idea.  No.  Earthly.  Clue.

 

My Husband Has It Easier

 

  1. Childbirth (this is a lifelong trump card that I will exploit shamelessly for the rest of our lives).  Did it twice even though I knew the price.
  2. Vasectomy vs. Episiotomy.  Sewed up my nether-regions with souchers that rival nautical rope.  Exact words of my OB w/ La Grande when I asked how many stitches: “Oh, it’s not stitches, honey.  It’s more like a hem.”
  3. I comb three heads of hair…daily.  Him? Zero.  He’s bald.
  4. Bill paying.  He may earn it, but as far as he knows the cable fairy brings us DVR service and the credit fairy granted us killer credit scores.
  5. Laundry.  He must think his dresser is a friggin’ cornucopia of Under Armor underwear and clothing.
  6. Food.  Living in our house for him is like an extended stay at posh B & B.  He shows up and there’s food in the cabinets and on the table.
  7. House cleaning.  Him: “Where do we keep the vacuum cleaner again?”
  8. Activity and vacation planning.  A cruise director has nothing on me.  NO-THING.
  9. Undivided attention.  I don’t even know….(one second, kiddo asking a question)…what that is.
  10. Adult interaction.  Does he have to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to his coworkers?  I didn’t think so.
  11. The ability to fall asleep in 5 seconds.
  12. The ability to do any activity while totally tuning out the bloodcurdling screeching of La Rubia Peligrosa.
  13. The ability to not “see” messes.
  14. The luxury of being able to not be thinking of anything.  HOW IS THAT HUMANLY POSSIBLE?!?!?!?!
  15. The ability to not hear a child wake up, even briefly, in the middle of the night (so he says).
  16. The comfort of knowing his children are clean, well loved, healthy, and well disciplined.
  17. Going to the bathroom ALONE.  ALONE!  No questions, stories, or children disclosing the intimate details of what is going on in the stall.  Nobody talking about your business at a volume that doesn’t even qualify as a whisper at a rock concert.  Nobody unraveling the toilet paper like its a NYC ticker tape parade.  Nobody knocking on the door to request a snack, drink, activity to do, or request a status update every 15 seconds.  Nobody trying to hug you, or sit on your lap, or better yet, you sitting them on your lap because they aren’t old enough to stand.  Or going to the bathroom with a baby in one arm while unbuttoning your pants and sliding them down with the other hand.  Or shoving two children and one adult in a standard size stall so that no one abducts or molests said children…

Okay, okay.  Woosah.  That was cathartic.  Isn’t it amazing what a good ole’ fashioned vent will do for you every now and again?

So, who has it easier in your house?  What is your number-one pet peeve?  Share them below!

 

Are You Wasting Money On Your Picky Eater? 3 Ways Parents Can Save Money & Frustration

Are You Wasting Money On Your Picky Eater? 3 Ways Parents Can Save Money & Frustration

La Rubia is a ridiculously, aggravatingly, annoyingly picky eater.  I am convinced that her finickiness has absolutely nothing to do with food and absolutely everything to do with power.    And let me preface this by saying that I know it’s a phase and one day her palate will expand and we will laugh merrily and hold hands and sing Kumbayah around the dinner table, but we aren’t there yet.  Not by a long shot.

As self-professed foodies, our favorite indulgence is definitely going out to eat.  As a family of four we’re typically spending somewhere between $30-40 bucks a meal.  Not cheap.  And certainly not worth it if the meal is wrought with aggrivation and chants of “I don’t ‘yike’ it” or “I’m not hungry (but I really am, but I don’t want to eat what you ordered so I’m being diplomatic).”

I’m not sure if it’s our naivete or wishful thinking -probably wishful thinking- that has us wasting money on La Rubia left and right when we’re out on the town and it’s finally hit a breaking point.  We finally found our common sense parenting (and budgeting) and are re-committed to making these three changes stat.

Picky Eater

Picky Eater Rule Number 1: Forgo the Kids’ Menu and Have Your Child Share with Mom or Dad (or both)

First of all, I hate kids’ food menus anyways.  Who goes out for Japanese to order some chicken nuggets?  Perhaps if it’s served as Chicken Katsu, cool, but nuggets are nuggets, no matter how you slice it. Also, I won’t feel obligated to snatch food off of her plate and add to my own calorie count, thankyouverymuch.

Did you know that grazing off of kids meals contribute to parental weight gain.  True story.

Our best bet is just sharing with La Rubia rather than ordering her her own meal.  I’m sure this will reach a point of diminishing returns, but for now it’s the smartest choice we can make.

Picky Eater Rule Number 2: When In Doubt, Pack A Meal

If I pack La Rubia a meal I don’t have to feel the aggravation of paying anywhere between $4 and $7 for her to NOT eat it.

I might as well set my money on fire, right?

And for some reason, she gets off on carrying her own lunch box.  Weird kid, I know.  I’d rather pack her a cheese stick, bread cubes, a squeezie fruit thing, and a sippy cup filled with water and see her eat it all than watch her pick and staunchly not eat what we bought.

Don’t worry about restaurants regulating on you bringing outside food into the establishment…most won’t even question you based on your child’s age, especially if it’s a toddler or preschooler.  If you’re feeling like you’re breaking the law, just ask and make sure it’s okay.  Chances are they’ll accommodate you.

Picky Eater Rule Number 3: Always Check Kids Eat Free Specials.

If all else fails, I can always pull up my free Out to Eat With Kids App to see local kid’s eat free specials.  At least if I’m not paying for it, it feels a little less painful if she doesn’t really eat her food.  Granted, I’ll feel guilty about the wasted food, but at least my money won’t be self-combusting in front of my face.

How do you save money with your picky eaters?  Are your picky eaters driving you batty?

Intervention…Barbie Edition

Intervention…Barbie Edition

Hair fried.

Clothing strewn across the house.

Ariel passed out on the floor.

Pediatrician Barbie left the baby in the tub…unattended.

Every time I entered La Grande’s room over the past few weeks, the dollhouse was an eyesore.  It always looked like her dolls had just wrapped up a rave and an orgy the night before.  The girls looked tore up.  Scratch that.  To’ up.  From the flo’ up.

I kept asking La Grande to kindly dress her Barbies- after all, the neighbors <read: me> were complaining.  They can’t just sit there letting it all hang out.

And why on Earth was Jasmine wearing Rapunzel’s clothing?  And Ariel? She opted to wear nothing but fin.  Shameless, I tell you.

But worse than the clothing is the hair.

First of all, what weird-ass material are these companies using to make this hair?  How is it that the hair comes beautifully smoothed and after a few hours of play looks like someone who’s experienced hours of shock therapy?

Rapunzel has had two, read it TWO haircuts since she moved in.  Bitch has got to get that hair under control.

Well, I just reached a point that I couldn’t take it any more.  I had to do something.  The girls couldn’t live in this kind of abject squalor any longer.

It was time for an intervention.

barbies intervention sq

I grabbed my best hair products, de-tangling comb, and pony tail holders and got to work.

By the time it was all said and done, the girls were cleaned up, dressed up, nicely styled and lounging comfortably in their newly cleaned dream home.  It was like express rehab at a meth-infested whorehouse.

Now, from all my stints watching Intervention and Hoarders, I know that the girls have a strong likelihood of a back slide and relapse…but for now, I’ll just bathe in the afterglow.  I mean, it should last at least a week or so, right?

Barbie image from Emily Schrek’s Flickr Feed via CC by SA 2.o.

A New School Year is Better than the New Year

A New School Year is Better than the New Year

I love school.  Even though I’m no longer a student or a teacher, I find that the beginning of a new school year is magical, even more so than New Years.

New clothing.  Sharp crayons.  A snazzy new backpack.  Unsmudged erasers.

New friends. New attitudes. New adventures.

A return to routine.  Yes, this.  A return to routine.

Everything is so fresh and new and exciting.  Even the painfully early mornings are beautiful.

New Year’s is kind of a cliche “fresh start” but a new school year?  That’s as fresh as it gets. You know?

You can reinvent yourself.  Recommit yourself.  And I find that, as a mom, a new school year is a fresh start for me too.

Both girls are in school this year and to be quite honest, I really needed some time to get my head on straight.

Between opting out of the traditional work force, the lazy crazy meandering non-routine of summer, and Homeskillet’s outrageous unavailability, I haven’t been very kind to myself…unless you call snacking, grazing and generally not-working-out being kind.  Which I don’t.

The worst part is that I know EXACTLY what I have to do in order to get it back together.  Isn’t that the pits?  When you’re the only person standing in your own damn way?

If you’re anything like me, you just need a push sometimes.  That catalyst that jump starts awesomeness.  That I AM AWESOME HEAR ME ROAR stuff, ya know?  And for me, that’s the start of the school year.

I’m shaking off my literal and proverbial pajamas, becoming one with the sun (and an earlier bedtime), and am ready to get my girls through this school year with a healthy mom pushing them from behind.

Here are a few things I need to focus on this school year:

- Beating my kids awake…woah, not like that. Talk about a poor choice of words. I have to wake up BEFORE them….at least 20-30 minutes ahead of them.  I bet I have your attention now.

- Making lunch the night before…for ALL of us.

- Working out…no excuses. 4 days a week at least.

- Keeping up with my weekly menu…with minimal lapse…so we don’t order out because I am weak…and lazy…and weak.

- Setting real work/life boundaries…and sticking to them.  “Mommy time is mommy time, not working mommy time.” <repeat>

I think this is a pretty tall order by itself.  Do you set goals for the school year?

How are you taking advantage of this new school year?  Any new routines, tips, or techniques you’re implementing this year?

When Does School Start Again?

When Does School Start Again?

Toast.  I am toast.  My summer fun goals are out the window.  If I play another board game thanks to the rainiest summer ever on record I think I’ll have a stroke.

Beach…pool…summer camp…fort building…fairy tea parties…painting…car trips…we did it.

If I have to hear “Mom, so what are we doing today” one more time, I think I’ll jump out of the window…and it’s totally drama worthy because I live on the second floor, so I’d surely break or bruise something.  Anything.

I have constant dialogue that just wont stop.  From the moment I wake up, pre-coffee mind you, to the moment they go to sleep, my entourage follows me.

square mom toastQuestioning me.

Quizzing me.

Interviewing me.

Staring at me.

Leaning on me.

Sitting on me.

Begging me… to see the latest drawing, invention, creation, or disaster…depending on your perspective.

I think it started out as the former and became the latter.

Whatever.

I just need a moment…alone.  A moment where I can string two thoughts together seamlessly or have a phone conversation without having a pantomime of “can-I-have-some-ice-cream-play-outside-I’m-bored-she-hit-me-in-the-eye.”

And before you tell me I should be more patient, more present, more of a mother.  Just stop.  I don’t want to hear it.

This is where I am and I am just going to sit in it for a moment.

Just a moment.

There, that’s better.

Time to breathe, shake it off, and get back in the game.

Imaginary Friends Are Normal, Right?

Imaginary Friends Are Normal, Right?

La Rubia has a new friend named “Baby Bird” and I’m trying not to allow the small corner of my brain that is flashing “danger, Will Robinson” to cause me to panic.  Imaginary friends are totally normal.  I get that.  But it’s still kind of weird.

This is what I see…

imagination

But I think this is what she sees…

baby bird

Even though I pride myself on applying the CTFD (Calm the F Down) approach to parenting most of the time, I sometimes I can’t help but be a little paranoid.  I mean, one friend is cool.  Maybe a second wouldn’t be so bad, but if it turns into this…

menagerie

I might be singing another tune.

For now, I’m trying to CTFD and have fun with our new housemate.

From what I’ve learned so far, Baby Bird doesn’t like taking naps.  Nor does Baby Bird like to stay put.  He/She flies all over the place and is often found resting in the most interesting places.  Baby Bird loves snacks and sometimes doesn’t share with La Rubia.  Baby Bird is a great influence on La Rubia and when I ask Baby Bird  to clean up, La Rubia always insists on helping, too! <insert devilish smile here>

Did your children have imaginary friends?  Did they name them?  When did they outgrow them?

5 Ways Your Military Family Can Save Even More With Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

5 Ways Your Military Family Can Save Even More With Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

We are in full Disney vacation planning mode in the wake of Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Renewal Announcement for 2013-2014 and I’m preparing to make sure we get the most Mickey we can get with the least amount of money…and this is how we do it!  (Go ahead, channel your inner Montell Jordan.  I know I am.)

armedforces

1. Pick the Right Disney Parks Ticket Option

Our Armed Forces Salute Ticket of Choice? 4 Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Park Fun and More Option.  This gives us 4 days of parks AND 4 days of water parks resulting in 8 days of Disney awesomeness!  Don’t forget to buy it at your installation’s ITT office!

Why?  We are park monogamous.  We don’t park hop because we’d rather not go through the park-to-park transit in the middle of the day.  We are also hard core park goers…we stay from open-to-close on most days.

We love Disney in the Fall!

We love Disney in the Fall!

2. Visit Disney Off-Season

Summer means hibernation for Floridians and I’m still pretty scarred from childhood summer trips to Disney.  The crowds!  The heat!  The mid-day thunderstorm!  Oh, and most importantly, the higher prices!

Disney has pricing seasons.  Any money savvy vacation planners, should definitely take note of when they are.

Check out YourFirstVisit.net for an awesomely detailed price season analysis.

3. Stay at the Walt Disney World Resort

Yes.  Just do it.  As a child I never stayed on resort so it was always my dream to see what it was like.  Our first full resort/park vacation in 2009 sealed the deal for me for life.  Not only are you conveniently located on Disney property, you have the option to use resort transportation or you can drive your own vehicle without having to pay additional for parking…it’s a resort perk!

You have several pricing options when it comes to finding the right hotel, but if budget is driving your decision…

4. Pick A Disney Value Resort

The way we see it, we’re hardly spending any time in our rooms.  We’re not there to chill out in our four walls…we’re at Disney to hang with Mickey!  We’ve stayed on resort twice, both times at value resorts (Pop Century & All-Star Movies) and it was fabulous.

Did you know that the resorts are offering military discounts, too?  You can save 30, 35, 0r 40% on rooms booked at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL or 40% off rooms booked at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA.  I always call direct to (407) 939-5277.

5. Add the Disney Dining Plan

Homeskillet and I opted to add in the meal plan as an experiment during our 2009 trip and it more than paid for itself!  As budgetistas, we opted for the quick-service dining plan and then studied the hell out of the menus of all of the participating restaurants.  At that time the plan allowed for two quick service meals and two snacks per person per day (way too much food, in our opinion), but now is 2 meals and 1 snack per day…much more our speed.

Fun foodie fact? Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney offers a fabulous 15% military discount all the time.  It’s our fave stop.  We never miss it.  AND it’s considered a quick service meal.  Bonus!

So what are you waiting for?!  Let’s start planning and saving for our next Disney vacation right now!

Are you planning on heading to Disney?  What’s your favorite thing about visiting?

What Color is Hispanic?

What Color is Hispanic?

America’s having a really tough time grappling with the idea that the term Hispanic has absolutely nothing to do with an identifiable characteristic like skin color.  After the controversy surrounding the media’s description of George Zimmerman as a “white-Hispanic” I couldn’t help but laugh at the desperation to paint this case in the only colors our country seems to be able to process.  White and black.  Black and white.

As a tannish-brown (according to La Grande) person growing up in the South, nobody seemed to comprehend that I was neither white, black, or mixed, at least in the traditional sense.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had to answer the question, “is your mom black or your dad?”  When I would answer neither, I’d watch the lights inevitably go off.

My skin color did not compute.

It didn’t compute with people.  It didn’t compute with standardized testing demographics.  I distinctly remember coming home from school and asking my mom and dad which bubble I should fill-in for race.  Their answer?  Other.  I became “other” for a very, very long time.

But all hail the late 90s and early 2000s when being naturally tan became super hip thanks to the likes of Ricky Martin and J-Lo.  Telling people  “I’m Latina” did compute because I fit the stereotype.  I fit the tan, dark haired, dark eyed picture that says “Yo Soy Latina! Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas!”

Suddenly, Latino/Hispanic popped up on demographics collections everywhere.  I was no longer “other”.

But as a Latina, I know that Latinos’ skin colors run the spectrum from black to white to everything in between.  But, honestly, I had the privilege of fitting the stereotype.  It was enough for me to say I am Latina because I fit.  Honestly, I never understood how frustrating it would be to be a light skinned or dark skinned Latino.  Ever.

We rarely consider how beneficial it can be to fit a stereotype sometimes until you have no choice but to acknowledge it.

After  I had children with my white husband and my sister had her first child with her black husband, we now have three children in our family who are indeed Latinos or Hispanics but are each a different skin color.

One white (La Rubia). One tan (La Grande). One black (El Chiquito).

IMG_6062

La Grande inherited the stereotypical look.  La Rubia and El Chiquito didn’t.

I wonder how their lives will differ because of how they look, because in our country skin color matters.  Even if we don’t want it to matter or don’t think it matters…it just does.  Even to me.  I’m guilty of assuming things because of what I see.  I am guilty of jumping to conclusions or locking my car door or holding my purse a little tighter at times.

Our little race box just doesn’t work.  It’s broken.  It’s been broken.  We are so busy trying to group people together and label people and create order in disorder we just keep falling apart.

We want to put Hispanics or Latinos in a race-box so we can put them neatly on the shelf.  But it just doesn’t work and it’s making a  mess of an otherwise black-and-white world.  We left no room for variation.  No room for true diversity because it’s messy and unpredictable.

It’s so easy to demonize or find affinity with a group if you can pick them out in a crowd.  Everyone wants to belong…it’s just a shame that we can’t seem to belong on the most common level…as human beings.

I am praying that our children don’t have to think about their skin color other than to marvel at its beauty.

Mommy’s Favorite -ing Word?  Sleeping.

Mommy’s Favorite -ing Word? Sleeping.

My baby is no more. La Rubia just turned three and is hellbent on doing everything by herself. It’s like Rosie the Selfish Riveter came and replaced my cuddly little baby with a fiercely independent little-big-girl who chants “I can do it” everywhere she goes.

Gone are the days when I could scoop her up and cradle her body from head to toe. Gone are the days where I could visually drink her in as I slowly dressed her for the day, pausing to kiss the bottom of each foot while breathing in her intoxicating baby smell.

Rarely at rest, my busy little-big girl is constantly chatting, walking, running, dancing, laughing, and every other ing-word you can imagine.

But my favorite ing-word is definitely when La Rubia is sleeping. And it’s not for some of the more obvious reasons like mommy gets to take a break…

or mommy gets to have a snack by herself…

or mommy gets to watch True Blood without looking over her shoulder…

or mommy gets to be herself.

Nope. None of those reasons.

The real reason that I love when La Rubia is sleeping is because when I watch her it’s like traveling in a time machine back to her baby days. Back when I would check on her just to make sure she was still breathing or because I missed the sight of her little body against the expanse of her crib.

Sleeping La Rubia Love, Sleep, & Play

I think it’s all in the eyes and lips. Her eyes are so gently closed and her lips so sweetly pursed…it’s like being in heaven. Or so I would imagine.

When my children sleep I find myself fighting to keep from disturbing them with a kiss or hug. How can you not just want to steal a little bit of that moment, right?

And it’s in those moments where I realize how fleeting this thing we call “time” really is. One minute you’re cuddling this little tiny person ever so carefully in your arms and the next, you’re struggling to gracefully haul your ever-so-floppy soon-to-be seven year old’s sleeping body out of the car trying to carry her as if she were still your little baby.

LaGrandeSleep

Sometimes I look at my girls and wonder how they were ever so small. Thank goodness for pictures.

Speaking of pictures and sweet moments of sleep, I am so excited to work with Pampers to help spread the word about their Love, Sleep, & Play global campaign as part of a sponsored campaign via Latina Mom Bloggers. Love, Sleep, & Play celebrates and pays tribute to all the millions of ways babies uniquely experience love, sleep and play.

As part of their Love, Sleep, & Play campaign, Pampers wants you to submit photos of your children at http://es.pamperslovesleepandplay.com/ for your chance to join in on a huge surprise celebration in NYC in August!

You can follow Pampers Latino on Facebook and on Twitter, too!

Learn more about Love, Sleep, & Play by checking out this video:

This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Pampers.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Wahl Home Photo Contest: My Little Patriots Through The Years In Pictures

Wahl Home Photo Contest: My Little Patriots Through The Years In Pictures

Compensation for this post was provided by Wahl Home Products via MSB New Media.  All opinions expressed in this piece are my own.  

As I was pouring over family pictures to find a picture to enter into a photo contest for Wahl Home Products called A Picture is Worth $1000, I found myself helplessly sucked into what I assume, is a parent nostalgia trap: comparing your children’s pictures from year to year to see how they’ve grown.  It’s so…well…it’s just so…depressing.

Then I start to feel old.  Not old in the sense of being decrepit or the crypt keeper, but old in the reflecting on how-fast-time-passes kind of old.  Remember how LOOONG and SLOOOOW time seemed to pass when we were kids?  It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R for Christmas to arrive or the school year to end.  An hour was like torture!  A day’s wait required a marathon’s worth of patience. Time never wen fast enough.  Ever.

As a grown up I really don’t wish time away any more.  I can’t afford to part with the little precious time I have.  Thank goodness for pictures and digital cameras, especially my iPhone camera…we capture so much more of our life with cameras now and I’m grateful for that as a parent.

With Fourth of July…I mean, Independence Day around the corner (Homeskillet prefers the actual holiday name and is currently running an ever-so annoying call-it-Independence-Day campaign at home), I decided to take a look at the girls over the years via our Independence Day celebrations…

La Grande over the years…

jada 4th of july

I’m about to sound super cliche…I can’t believe how fast time has gone.  The bigger photo is of La Grande’s first Independence Day…we’d just gotten home from 3 years in the UK.  And the picture in the lower left hand corner?  That 4th of July (shh…don’t tell Homeskillet)…was the time she had her very first hot dog.  And the one next to it? We went on a family cruise.  The garden pic? La Rubia came home from the hospital that 4th of July.  The pic above that?  My grandfather, the girls’ great grandpa, has a fabulous time fishing and crabbing with La Grande…how lucky to have a great grandparent alive.  And the one above?  That was last year at the Fort Bragg annual 4th of July celebration.  Sadly, Fort Bragg cancelled the event this year due to sequestration.

Not to be left out, here’s La Rubia over the years…

Callie 4th of July

It’s funny how I am really relishing each moment with La Rubia.  Where I was so excited to see what La Grande would do with each day that passes…I find myself more in the moment with La Rubia…and it’s such a gift.  La Rubia was just born and came home from the hospital on July 3, 2010.  I guess she declared her independence from my uterus.  Now that I think about it, the 4th of July is the perfect holiday that sums her up nicely.  She is fiercely independent and determined to do her own thing.  A red-blooded American for sure!

These precious pictures are worth way more than a thousand words to me.  They’re even worth more than $1000 bucks to me, but that’s not saying I wouldn’t love to nab a cool grand as part of the “A Picture is Worth $1000″ contest, how about you?

Submit Your Military Family’s Picture to Wahl’s “A Picture is Worth $1000″ and Win!

You didn’t think I’d keep all the contest details to myself, did you? Wahl Home, the number one name in at-home hair clippers, and Military Spouse Magazine are partnering together to host ‘A Picture is worth $1,000’ photo contest to recognize men and women everywhere who run a household while their spouse is serving our country.  The winner will receive $1000 courtesy of Wahl Home Products and have their entry shared in the September issue of Military Spouse Magazine! 

Not too shabby, right?

Want to know something cool about Wahl products?  Wahl hair clippers, including their newest Lithium Ion Clipper, are proudly manufactured in the United States of America and have been for nearly 100 years.

Here’s how you can enter: Capture and share your special moment with your military family by entering it in the A Picture is Worth $1000 contest.  Contest closes July 8, 2013.

Stay in the loop about this contest and more awesome updates from Wahl Home by following them on  Facebook and Twitter.

Monsters University: An Unexpected Lesson About Paths to Success (Tiny Spoiler Alert)

Monsters University: An Unexpected Lesson About Paths to Success (Tiny Spoiler Alert)

We went to see Monsters University this weekend and it was awesome, as expected.  What was unexpected, however, was the ending.  I’m going to try my best not to spoil too, too much, and if I do, I apologize in advance.

At the end of the film, it turns out that Mike and Sully get expelled from MU for a myriad of reasons.  Their expulsion has very little to do with their aptitude or interests, but everything to do with breaking the rules. We find ourselves with one very natural scarer, Sully, and one amazing scare technician/coach, Mike, kicked out of school and at an impasse.

Both have dreams of working for Monsters Incorporated, but without graduating from MU their dream of walking onto the scare floor seems almost impossible.  Or does it?

Rather than give up on a dream, Mike and Sully opt to work from the ground up and take a job in the Monsters Incorporated mail room.  Are they zapped of all their drive?  Nope.  Not only do they love that they are working at their dream company, they strive to be the best at what they do regardless of what it is.

It turns out that Mike and Sully go from mail clerks to janitors to lunch servers to scream can techs, and with each job, they earn accolades for being the best.  At the very end, our favorite monsters’ hard work pays off and they get recruited for the scare floor.

Girls Ready for Monsters UniversityWhat a powerful message and a great reminder for all of us.  There is not one true path to success and higher education via traditional universities and college aren’t a sure guarantee of success.  The best indicator of being a success comes from an internal drive and striving for excellence.

As parents, the single greatest gift we can give our children (and ourselves) is to internalize the drive to put their very best work into every single job, project, chore, hobby, sport, or homework assignment they have.  And we, as  adults, can show our children what giving it their best looks like by modeling it in how we approach our own tasks and responsibilities.

And as it turns out, Mike and Sully aren’t the only non-univeristy grads to make it big.  They’re in good company along with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg among others.

With the rising cost of higher education, I find myself reflecting on alternate, not to mention more affordable, paths to success for La Grande and La Rubia, like starting their path at a community college and nurturing their interest in computers (and eventually coding…fingers crossed), that doesn’t always require a route via traditional higher education.

What do you think?  Is college the end-all-be-all path to success or are there other non-traditional routes?  How do you instill or model a dedication to excellence in your children and/or for yourself?

The Father’s Day Trifecta: 1 Family, 3 Amazing Dads

The Father’s Day Trifecta: 1 Family, 3 Amazing Dads

There are no shortage of dedicated dads in my family.  My Dad is kind of like what I consider a trailblazer when it comes to being a totally committed, hands-on, maxi-pad buying, hair-braiding, cuddling, Disney-movie watching Daddy.  And with that kind of standard set, of course my sister and I chose partners that fit the bill as the whole-package Daddy.

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Awkward family photo, maybe…but it’s tradition! Whenever we’re home Dad lifts us up to put our “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament up.

My Daddy…yes, I still call him “daddy” (and what?)…taught me how to change a tire, check my oil, make fried rice (we’ve been at perfecting this one for 20 years), cut the grass, and told me I should never be dependent on any man ever.  And so, of course I got married fresh out of college, totally contrary to what he had always told me: focus on you, focus on your education and profession…don’t worry about boys.

To say that my decision to get married was a little hard for him might be the slightest bit of an understatement.  The saving grace there?  Homeskillet.

My husband is a really unique guy.  Hardly what I’d call a typical guy (which is my #1 reason for keeping him forever), Homeskillet is a really tuned in, compassionate, and loving person.  He reminds me of…wait for it…my Dad.

He’s so secure in who he is and what he believes that he is open to a deep and loving connection with our girls.  He’s not too proud to wear a tiara and beads and turn pirouettes with the girls.  He’s never too busy for a hug and a kiss.  And no topic is off limits for him.  Even periods.  And cramps.  And emotions don’t scare him…not even tears.

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Homeskillet is never too manly to don the busy bee headband and beads.

Homeskillet doesn’t shy away from his love for me.  He models what a healthy, committed relationship looks like every day to our girls.  I cannot say how grateful I am for that.

Speaking of being grateful, I don’t know how we were fortunate enough to land my brother-in-law, too.  My sister’s husband rounds out our triple-threat of awesome Dads.  Of awesome men.  My BIL is this super strong, guy’s guy.  He oozes…he’s laughing now at the word choice…he oozes charisma.  You can not NOT have a great time when you’re around him. And he has this way of being around kids…he gives them 100% of his attention and respect.  He treats them like the intelligent beings that they are…it’s beautiful to watch.  My nephew, the first boy of the family, has the perfect male role model in my BIL.

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My BIL is so in love with my nephew.

I cannot tell you how amazing it is to have, in one family, this trifecta of daddyhood.  Our children, my girls and my nephew (and any future children that will not come from my loins…you hear that, sis?), are so lucky to have my father, my husband, and my brother-in-law in their corner.  My girls will learn how real men behave and my nephew will learn what true manhood looks like.

Fathers

Happy Father’s Day to the most amazing fathers any family could have.  Our children are so lucky to have you in their lives.  I love you all!

I’m A Dork That Sets Goals for Summer Vacation

I’m A Dork That Sets Goals for Summer Vacation

IMG_0137If you give me a set time period, my first instinct is to make goals and a to-do list.  I have no idea why, but that’s what I do.  So with summer vacation fast approaching and parental summer panic setting in, I know that I’ve gotta come up with a routine and fast.

I know I can’t risk floating through the summer without a mission because, when left to my own devices, I will accomplish absolutely nothing.

Nothing.

And then I’ll have to live with the bitterness and regret and disappointment of not having found constructive ways to spend our time.

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What We’ve Learned During Our First 9 Years Of Marriage…

What We’ve Learned During Our First 9 Years Of Marriage…

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I swear this was just the other day…

Today Homeskillet and I will celebrate 9 years of marriage.  9 years of laughter.  9 years of ridiculous and some not-so ridiculous arguments.  9 years of booty grabs.  9 years of hugs.  9 years of high fives.

I’d being lying to you if I said it’s been easy.  It’s been infuriating (at times), hair-pullingly frustrating (just look at Homeskillet, he’s bald), emotionally draining (good and bad), and amazingly rewarding.

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