Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:14

Toddler Tantrums in Public

I was that crazy mom today that you sometimes see around town, almost losing it completely because of their child’s misbehavior. The 4 kids and I went to Jamba Juice after school.  I was happy, we had all managed to keep it together quite nicely while we waited in the long line and then waited for our order. We had just found a nice spot to sit outside on the patio when my 2.5 year old son asked for cookies. Ok, why not, I was in a good mood, so we all got up and went into the Starbucks.

On the way out a nice woman held the door open for my troop…I started walking out the door when I heard it, that loud scream that seems to have become a too familiar sound in our house for the last month. My son decided that HE wanted to open door for me at Starbucks and was angry that the lady held the door for me. Picture this…the nice lady is holding the door for me, my son is on the floor in the doorway screaming and won’t get up, people are trying to get in and out, I have a baby stroller partially blocking the entryway, and I’m holding cookies and a latte. I asked my son nicely, but firmly, to get up. He naturally screamed louder and by then I was certain everyone was looking at me and my son, thinking I must be crazy because I can’t control my kids.  After asking him again, I finally just scooped him up in one arm (ouch!), pushed the stroller and had him scream at the top of his lungs as we left.

We sat outside and finally after a few minutes he calmed down. I was embarrassed, but I tried to remind myself that, while it’s not easy, I have to ignore the stares from people and that my son’s tantrum is nobody’s business but mine. My baby is now 1 month old and my 2.5 year old has had a hard time with the transition. I imagine that we may be dealing with tantrums and misbehavior for some time. Oh boy, I’ll need lots of reassurance that I’m still a good parent!  The links below had some great suggestions on dealing with toddler tantrums - I'll be visiting them again!



Published in Family & Culture
Monday, 01 April 2013 04:46

Adjusting To A New Baby

Boy with newborn

I remember that when I was due with baby #4 my son, our 3rd child,  would go around the house, with arms crossed, saying “Don’t want a brother.”  Yet, most of the time he lovingly kissed my huge belly and said “I love you baby”  and he couldn't resist wanting to hold other little babies that we met.  I wasn't not too worried about this behavior, mostly because I had seen child #1 and child #2 in our family follow a similar behavior pattern before the next baby arrived.

As a matter of fact, many of the mothers that I have spoken to about this topic agree that most older siblings go through an adjustment period when a newborn sibling arrives. The family spends time preparing for the new baby and once the baby arrives so much time is dedicated to just meeting baby's needs. That’s a lot of change taking place!

I asked some of my friends and other moms what advice seemed to work best when helping older siblings adjust to a new baby in the house.  The suggestions are most helpful for children up to the pre-teen years.

Tip 1:  Discuss Pregnancy In Terms That Makes Sense To Kids

  • Read books about pregnancy, birth and newborns with your child.  Check out your local library or bookstore for age-appropriate books you may enjoy with your child.
  • Take out your child’s ultrasound and newborn pictures – they will love looking at them! Tell them about their birth – how excited you were and how everyone wanted to hold them.
  • Tell your child about the pregnancy when you tell your friends.  You want them to hear the good news from you.
  • Young children may not grasp when the baby will arrive, so it may be useful to explain that baby will arrive in a particular season (when it’s cold outside) or after a major holiday.

Tip 2: Include Children In Baby Preparations

  • Allow your child to help you pack your hospital bag.
  • Visit friends who have infants.
  • You may or not want to take your child for your doctor visits, but consider taking them to hear the baby’s heartbeat and see the ultrasound.
  • Check with your local hospital for sibling preparation classes.
  • Perhaps they can help you pick out a special coming outfit (from two you’ve preselected, of course).
  • You may want to buy your toddler age child a baby doll and have them practice holding and gently touching the doll, just like they would with their newborn sibling.
  • Allow your child to pick out a small toy or other gift that they can give to their newborn sibling when they meet for the first time.

Tip 3:  Make Arrangements To Meet Older Sibling's Needs

Baby Hands

  • Make sure that major changes – weaning, toilet training, a new room – happen well before the baby arrives.
  • For older children, explain to them that the baby will not be able to do much at first, that you may feel tired and the baby will require a lot of your time.
  • Arrange for play dates outside your home for your child with close friends or relatives, if possible, soon after the baby arrives.
  • Try to keep routines as normal as possible in the weeks around baby’s arrival.
  • Try to have your child meet the new baby as soon as possible after the big arrival.  It’s best to do this when only the immediate family is at the hospital.
  • Let your child “help” with age appropriate tasks once the baby arrives – like getting diapers, feeding, helping dress the baby, or pushing the stroller.
  • If possible, arrange for some one-on-one time with your child once baby arrives where you talk about things besides the new baby.
  • It’s ok for your child to need time to take adjust the new baby.   You can encourage older children to talk about their feelings about their new sibling.
  • Younger children who may not be able to articulate their feelings may act up or test the rules, but stand firm – just understand the feelings behind their behavior. Make it clear that you understand their feelings, but that their feelings must be expressed in appropriate ways.
  • You may want to consider having a small present for your young child when they come to meet the baby for the 1st time – a small gift from the baby to the child.


Published in Kids' Stuff
Friday, 11 February 2011 22:04

Valentine's Day Crafts

Valentine CraftsIt wasn’t until my husband and I had kids that I began to think that Valentine’s Day could be a great way for kids to celebrate the holiday with their family.

This may just mean that you will find that part of your day is full of fun and laughter while the latter is more romantic – like having two holidays in one!   Here are some ideas on how to make this Valentine’s Day a fun and memorable day, whether that includes children or just you and your loved one.

“Sweet” Recipes & Treats

Sweet recipes and treatsHow about making a Valentine's Day breakfast or dinner for the family and letting the kids help?  Remember that these meals don't have to be fancy.  Try serving heart shaped-pancakes to start your morning – they will be a big hit!  Check out our blog on this and other good for you and tasty Valentine’s Day themed recipes that you and your family will enjoy preparing and eating.

Valentine's Day Messages

This is a fun one! Purchase pink, red and white window markers at your local drugstore or party store and get creative.   You can use them to write Valentine's Day notes on the windows and mirrors throughout your home.  Encourage your kids of all ages to participate.  The younger ones can draw pictures, hearts and smiley faces while the older ones can leave messages.  If you are really in a festive mood, you can use the markers to do something similar on your car windows.   Your kids and spouse will enjoy finding these messages and drawings around the house!

Holiday Themed Crafts

Valentine Day's messagesFinding great Valentine’s Day crafts for kids and grownups is very easy by doing a quick internet search.  One of my favorite holiday crafts is soap making
because it’s simple, relatively inexpensive and fun for kids of all ages (and grown ups too!).  The finished soap bars can be given out as lovely gifts that are perfect for teachers, neighbors and relatives or can be used throughout your home for a festive touch.  Follow our easy example here.

Valentine Day's messagesAnother craft favorite is to have your child make a keepsake memory box to store their Valentine’s Day cards and small treats.   These are very simple to make and share!  You can buy ready to assemble kits at your local craft store or make your own by decorating a shoebox or tissue box with Valentine’s Day themed embellishments.   At our home we enjoy putting a small mailbox out for each family member and leaving little notes and treats the week leading up to Valentine’s Day – it’s a fun way to get into the holiday spirit.  The kids get very excited when the little flag on their mailboxes is up – signaling that something special is waiting for them!

Check out these sites for other Valentine’s Day inspired crafts.

Date Night In Without the Kids

After your kids go to bed have a couple's night in. You can rent your favorite movie or make each other’s favorite meal or dessert.  My husband and I have a tradition for Valentine’s Day…we always get Thai take-out and he buys me carnations.  It’s a silly tradition, but it reminds us of our first real date back in college, when we were poor students and all he could afford to give me on our first Valentine’s Day were a few carnations!    After the kids are in bed, we set the nice china out on the dining room table, complete with wine glasses and candles.  I love this way of celebrating because it’s very low-key, we avoid the restaurant rush, and we can enjoy a nice evening at home.

Family Date Night

If you have older children at home, a date night in can be a great way of incorporating them into the holiday.   Consider letting them stay up later and enjoying a family game night.   To make it more fun encourage everyone to dress in pink and red clothes!  If playing games is not something you enjoy doing as a family, try watching a movie instead and serving simple holiday themed treats.

Decorate for Valentine's Day

Keep it simple by shopping at your local dollar or discount store and purchasing red, white and pink streamers and balloons.   You may want to enlist your kids to help decorate your home or decorate yourself on the 13th after they are in bed so that your kids can enjoy waking up to the festive décor!

Published in Holiday Crafts
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 02:11

Teaching Gratitude

Teaching GratitudeThe Christmas decorations have been put away, the kids are back in school and life is back to normal (almost!).

Did you and your kids remember to say thank you for all of your great presents? It’s important that our children learn gratitude, and what better way after the holiday season to teach them to be thankful than to have them send a simple thank you card to their gift givers?

Christmas Thanks :: VidacCoco.com Agradecimiento de Navidad :: VidacCoco.com

While you may want to send a more formal note or make a phone call for your  (hopefully!) great gifts, try out a fun activity with your children.   They can make their own handmade thank you cards or you can easily download our template, available in Spanish and English.

You may download the PDF version or the Word version, which you can personalize and resize.   All you need to do is print out the template, have your child fill in the blanks and send it to that thoughtful gift giver.   You can be sure that their thank you card will be much appreciated!

Downloadable "Christmas Thanks" Templates:

English - Word | English - PDF | Spanish - Word | Spanish PDF

Published in Kids' Stuff
Thursday, 22 July 2010 04:25

Introducing My Parents To Facebook

Women at computer

On my recent trip to Chicago I taught my parents about Facebook. They do not use computers, although my mom once took a basic computer class and is familiar with some things about them. In the past I have shown them how the internet and email work.

As a matter of fact, the very small town that my parents are from in Mexico in the state of San Luis Potosi once had a website (now it only has a Facebook page). My dad enjoyed having me show him the webpage so he could look at the pictures that guests had posted, especially those of fiestas. He liked recognizing familiar faces and sometimes my mom and he would try to figure out who a certain person in a picture was or who they could be related to. One of our internet exploring highlights was when I showed him a satellite picture of his house on Google maps. He also wanted to see what his hometown in Mexico looked like on the map...he loved it!

So, anyway, back to the Facebook lesson. My parents and I were having dinner one night when I started giving them an update on our family…did they know that so and so was moving, how about that we needed to pray for this person or did they know that my cousin just had a baby. They weren’t aware of all these things and they wanted to know how I knew, so I explained to them that we all keep in touch via Facebook.  I found it a little funny that I was the one with the family updates, it's usually my mom who has them.  I brought out my computer to show them how Facebook works.  It was sort of confusing to them at first, but they caught on.  They had a vague idea of it because I had mentioned it to them before, but they had not actually seen it.

My dad was curious if his hometown had a Facebook page and of course he wanted to see the pictures on it. My mom wanted her own account, but was unsure if she would ever really use it.  This seemed to frustrate her. They couldn't believe that some of our relatives were on Facebook. And they REALLY wanted to see my sibling's pages - luckily no one has any embarrassing pictures on their profile!  We left messages for some family members, including my siblings, and within a day or so had gotten messages back!

And then there was the time that my 6 year-old daughter logged onto one of her favorite online sites for kids all by herself in front of my parents – they were simply amazed…I’ll write about that another day!

Published in Family & Culture
Wednesday, 21 July 2010 19:08

Trying To Be A Bilingual Family

On my last trip to Chicago I was reminded of how important it is for my children to learn to speak Spanish.  In our home I feel like we go through cycles where we focus more or less on learning the language.  I know in particular I find myself speaking more in Spanish to my 3 kids in the weeks leading up to a trip to see my parents in Chicago, hoping that they will pick more of it up before we make the trip to see their abuelitos.  And, of course, after our trips to see my parents I also find myself speaking more Spanish to the kids, like I have been the past two weeks.

But, sure enough, as other things take priority or as we become busy with projects, it becomes less of a priority.   Why?   Because it’s just easier to speak in English. I hate this….I always assumed that teaching my children to be bilingual would be easy.  I couldn’t understand why some children with Spanish speaking parents (or a parent, like us) were not fully bilingual.  What was so hard about teaching your child both languages?  Well, it has not been easy for our family and I am sure that some of the families that I criticized found it to be hard as well.

Dan, my husband, grew up speaking only English, his parents are not Latino.   He did, however, take a few Spanish classes in high school and college.  Spanish is my native language.  I learned English when I started Kindergarten, although I suppose I knew a little bit from watching television in English or playing with my neighborhood friends.   I am embarrassed when my kids don’t understand a relative who speaks to them in Spanish; but I also feel very happy (and relieved!) when they do….even more when they can respond in Spanish.   My husband tells me not to be so hard on myself, and I know he’s right.

I know that my kids will learn Spanish best by hearing me speak it to them as often as I can, visiting my parents often and me encouraging them to speak it.  I am also trying to get my kids to playdates with other Spanish speaking children.  I will try not to stress out about it, but we are going to try to be better about using more Spanish around our home.  It would be a shame if we didn’t.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress...

Saturday, 17 July 2010 06:00

Breaking A Bad Habit

Most studies say that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit. So, I figure it took about 30 trips to various stores with my now 6 and 4 year old girls to develop one bad habit in particular - buying them something “small” every time we went to the store.

I remember my mom telling me a story about her father. On most Sundays her father would go into town and sometimes take my mother with him. They would buy groceries and other staples that the family would need for the week. My mom enjoyed going on these trips…she lived in a very small in México so these trips into town were something to look forward to.

My mom told me how every now and then her father would buy her something special when they went on these trips, and on one such trip her father bought her a set of pencils. She was so happy with her present because they were not the standard tan colored pencils they received at school, but rather brightly colored ones. They were a special treat for her.

This got me thinking….how many times have I gone into a store and bought the girls little toys or other small things they wanted and not thought twice about it? It's only $3 or $5, afterall.  The problem: the girls grew to expect a little "something" each time we went to the store.  My husband and I knew we had to change this. It’s not always easy to say no to them, but I try to remember that the girls don’t need the stuff they are asking for.

Now, we have a system in place for the girls to get small toys or books….they earn tickets by doing chores around the house that they can redeem for different things.  I don't know if it's the best system, but it seems to be working ok for our family.  Funny enough, the girls are adapting to the new system pretty well overall, but sometimes it's me that has the problem - I have to keep myself from getting stuff for them!

Published in Family & Culture
Saturday, 18 June 2011 15:20

My Father

My father is amazing – I feel very blessed to have him in my life. The earliest memories I have of him are hazy – that’s because they happened at 5 in the morning when he was getting to leave for work.

We lived on the southwest side of Chicago in a community called Little Village.   My father worked in the Gary, IN steel mills  my whole life so he was up at 4:30 a.m. every weekday and on many weekends in order to be work by 6:30 a.m.   I would sometimes hear him getting ready for work wile my mom made his lunch. I would get up and sit at the kitchen table in our small apartment, half awake and eat cereal, just to be a part of the experience, to be with my dad.  The radio would be on the local Spanish news station while my parents went about getting ready.  Then, at 5 a.m. sharp my father would grab his lunch cooler with a blue top, his hat and off he went to work, giving my mom a quick kiss and not forgetting to give me one too, I would head then right back to bed.

I remember those mornings for a few reasons….They were often cold ones (we lived in Chicago afterall!), but my father never complained about getting up so early, although I am sure doing so was sometimes hard.  He did it for his family.  Growing up, he missed a lot of the everyday stuff the kids did – baseball games for my brother and soccer games for my sisters (I was not the athletic one!), and driving us all around the city to get to activities (my mom is a human GPS for the Chicago area!).  He worked, that’s what he did….my parents didn’t have a lot of money, but there was always enough for the kids to get what they needed and do what they really wanted – because he worked hard.  I am grateful for this.

My father finally retired after 25+ years at the steel mill in December 2008 – it was probably one of the happiest days of his life.  We’ve been out to Chicago to see my parents a few times since his retirement and for the first time I am beginning to see a different side of him, the very calm and relaxed side that can just take it easy…no work, just family and friends.  The days are his - we even got him a fancy cable package to go with his new TV so he never misses a baseball or futbol game!   He helps my mother do some gardening, he travels from Chicago to FL to see my brother play in baseball games, he enjoys (and spoils) his grandkids and he can finally sleep in past 4:30 a.m.  I am happy that he is able to do these things.   I was recently told that kids will grow up to do what they saw their parents do, not what they told their kids they should do.  That's pressure for me because I have seen my dad be and do many wonderful things.....

He has told me that he wishes he could have been around more for us kids, to do things with us.  Really, Dad, it was your example – not always your time - that has been such a powerful example of love to me.  I am so grateful that you are my father and I feel blessed to have you with us.  We love you!  Happy Father's Day!

Published in Family & Culture
Saturday, 19 June 2010 06:33

"Nothing" For Father's Day

Dad feetHappy Father’s Day Weekend!

I have asked my husband a few times over the past two weeks what he would like to do for this father’s day and all I keep getting is “nothing.”

Hmm…really, nothing?  See, on Mother’s Day I like to do stuff, not do “nothing.” I like to have stuff done for me too and my husband does a wonderful job of spoiling me.  Homemade gourmet brunch anyone?

So how do I show my appreciation to my hubby for being an amazing father to our three kids?  Yes, the kids have some cool crafts ready to give him.  But really, “nothing” is what he wants to do? As I write this blog entry he's is in Florida, working until tomorrow and then taking a 6 hour flight back home - only to change his clothes – and go back out for a networking event.

Yes, I am beginning to understand why he wants to do “nothing” on his day.  The past 4 weeks have included a trip to China, Chicago, Florida and next week it's Chicago.  I see - he's overworked and the idea of sitting on the couch watching TV all day with his kids as he eats his favorite foods sounds very good to him!  Ok, fine, he can do "nothing," but the problem is that I don’t really enjoy doing just "nothing” – part of my nature, I feel like I always need to be up and doing something productive or cleaning.  Dan keeps me centered, he reminds me that you have to take time to just enjoy life, by doing “nothing.” That's why he's a great dad - he's the one the kids wants to hang out with on the weekend.  He doesn't need a plan to make a day a good day with the kids.

Then again, last year he wanted us to do “nothing” on his birthday, so we stayed home, had a small cake and did nothing. That night he asked me why I hadn’t planned “something.” Oh boy, I should get planning – 1 day left!

Published in Family & Culture
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 15:20

Being Grateful Today

SunsetWow, I can’t believe that it’s June. The past few months have been such an adventure, busy busy busy! Family, the website and personal commitments all seemed to kick into high gear the last 3 months. It’s been very easy for me to complain about all the “to do's” and all that has gone wrong with projects, but today I am grateful.

I am grateful for what I have in my life and I pray that I may say thank you for these blessings in my life every day and appreciate them even more. Yes, I am a little emotional tonight. You see, a little 2-year-old boy from our community died today. It’s all very sad…he fell into a pool last week and was in too long before someone got him out. I didn’t know his family, but I have interacted with the boy’s mother at church a few times. She is one of the kindest ladies I have ever met, she seems be so patient and loving with her children.

The day I found out about the little boy's accident was a strong reminder for me to love all the good in my life. That day I was running late to church. I had been running late all day, because of my kids. My house was a mess, I had missed my morning run and the “to do” list was out of control. As I heard the news at church, my heart stopped. I wanted to run home and hug my 3 kids….

Today I just want be grateful. Grateful for what did get done rather than thinking of what yet has to get crossed off the to do list. Grateful for every day, even the bad ones. Grateful that I have 3 kids to tuck in tonight…Grateful that my heart is not hurting.


Published in Family & Culture