Saturday, 25 January 2014 07:39

I was "that" lame mom today

Today, I totally was THAT lame mom in front of about 15 middle school kids.   AND I am so happy about that!

It was the perfect afternoon for meeting a few friends at the park after school.  Sorry friends who don't live in SoCal, we had pretty awesome weather this week.   Anyway,  I volunteered to drive over to the nearest Starbucks and get our sleep deprived bodies some caffeine.  As I drove past the middle school located near the coffee shop, I cringed. Not because I don't like adolescents,  but because I knew that there would be a LONG line at Starbucks.  It's a thing around here, kids seem to flock to the nearest Starbucks after school!

Ok, so I park and go into the Starbucks and sure enough I'm #100 in line, well, ok #10, behind 9 middle schoolers.   Behind me, a bunch of middle school boys.  The funniest part was that I think every kid in there was taller than me!  I didn't mind my place in line too much until the 3 boys behind me started talking.  They were APPALLING!   Ok, I know, boys "are like that" you may say...."Oh you must never get out" or "that's just what kids say these days," but honestly I was taken by surprise.  I will spare you all the details, but basically they were joking abut RAPE!  To both sexes!

Published in The Things Kids Say
Saturday, 24 September 2011 13:06

Early Parent Mornings

Growing up, the sun rose early in my home. My father had a job in a neighboring state, so he was always gone by 4:45 a.m. My mother would get up early too, to help my father get out the door on time. Often times, my mother would not go back to bed after my father left and I could hear her in the kitchen. She was doing dishes, folding laundry, or sewing.

Today I am up early, working on my computer while a load of laundry for today’s soccer game is drying. Not all my mornings start so early, but this has been a busy week. Actually, the stillness of the house is nice. I have coffee too!  Today I needed to get up early if we are going to be at the soccer fields by 8 a.m.

Right now I feel grateful for my parents…I am sure that on so many mornings like today my parents wanted to stay in bed, especially during the freezing Chicago winters! Honestly, growing up I didn’t understand why my mom would be up so early. What could she be doing? And then there were the nights when I would get up to use the bathroom and she was up, sewing a sibling’s prom dress at 2 a.m. or working on some other project! I thought about her two nights ago when I was up at 4 making cupcakes for a bakesale because I had fallen asleep on the couch the night before and forgot to make them! Mom and dad, I don’t say this often to you, but thank you for your early mornings (and late nights) – I appreciate them so much more now that I too have them as a parent. I don't always want to get up - sometime I hate it....I am sure you did too, but thank you!

I love this picture below, reminds me of those early mornings in Chicago.

Sunrise in Pilsen

El sol salía temprano en mi casa. Mi padre tenía un empleo en un Estado vecino, por lo que él siempre salia a las 4:45 por la mañana.  Mi madre se levantaba temprano, para ayudarle a mi padre poder salir a tiempo. Muchas veces mi madre no volvía a la cama después de que mi padre se había ido a trabajar.  Ella lavaba los platos y la ropa o hacia costura.

Hoy yo estoy hasta despierta temprano,  trabajando en mi ordenador mientras que estoy lavando los uniformes el para juego de fútbol. No todas mis mañanas comienzan tan temprano, pero esta ha sido una semana ocupada. En realidad, el silencio de la casa es agradable. También tengo café! Hoy tenía que levantarme temprano si vamos a estar en los campos de fútbol a las 8!

La verdad es que me siento agradecida por mis padres.  Estoy segura de que en muchas mañanas como hoy mis padres querían quedarse en la cama, especialmente durante los inviernos fríos de Chicago!  Creciendo yo no entendía por qué mi mamá se despertaba tan temprano. ¿Qué podría estar haciendo? Y hubo noches cuando me levantaba para usar el baño y ella estaba despierta, cosiendo un vestido de baile o trabajando en otro proyecto! Pensé en esto hace dos noches cuando yo estaba despierta a las 4,  haciendo cupcakes para la escuela porque se había olvidado hacerlos la noche anterior! Papá y mamá, no digo a menudo esto, pero muchas gracias por sus mañana tempranas (y noches largas). Agradezco todo esto mucho más ahora que yo también las tengo como madre.

Me gusta este retrato, me recuerda de esas mañanas tempranas en Chicago.



Published in Family & Culture
Sunday, 07 August 2011 05:07

Parenting, Translating & Technology

This evening a mother, someone that I do not know, called me.  She was hoping that I could help her figure out how to register her 6 year old son for this year’s soccer season.  My husband coaches our daughters’ soccer teams and it turns out that this Spanish speaking mom obtained my phone number from a former player’s mom, who was also Spanish speaking. The woman explained to me that she has been unsure about how to register her child for the soccer season and was hoping that I could help her.  A parent had told her to apply online, but she doesn't have internet access and doesn't know how to use the internet.  I told her that I would be happy to find out for her and would give her a call with the information. Honestly, I found the whole application process confusing, and I speak English! How must this mother feel?

Last year my husband also coached and we had a few parents on our team that only spoke Spanish.   It was my job to call the parents anytime that it was needed; I communicated with the English speaking parents mostly by email. So, today’s phone call from the mother got me thinking about how Spanish speaking parents of young children 1. find out information on after school activities for their children and 2. how they communicate with their children’s coaches/teachers.  In our soccer region the important information is available in Spanish on the website, but this assumes that the Spanish speaking parents can access and use the internet. Also, most coaches that we know communicate via email with parents, in English.

This year, the soccer region has set up team websites to help manage all the information that parents need to access on a regular basis.   I am thinking about the woman’s phone call so much because I wonder how someone like her, someone who is only Spanish speaking, would benefit from this system.  She doesn’t have access to the internet and even if she did she wouldn’t be able to understand the information on the website.  As a bilingual team parent, I would be happy to post the information on the team site in Spanish as well, but I won't since the Spanish speaking parents on our team don't use the internet. I will instead call them with important information.

When organizations tell parents "it's easy to sign up or stay connected, just check us out online or email us" they make assumptions. They assume that everyone can can access the same information and understand the information.  When I was young and needed to translate for my Spanish speaking parents, the internet wasn't around.  Today, children who act as child translators for their families must navigate a digital world too.

I applaud our soccer region for making information available to parents in Spanish.  They understood that there was need for this and they acted on it.  The team websites are not a perfect system, but the region is making an effort to make sure that all of their parents stay informed.   I wonder if the real issue is maybe more along the lines of the digital divide and part of a larger topic?

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 :: Agradecimiento de Navidad ::

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
Friday, 10 September 2010 06:02

Let's Dance

Irish and ballet dancers

How should I feel about my daughter wanting to participate in Irish dance at school? I happen to think that Irish dancing is beautiful, so it’s not the actual activity that I’m having a problem with but maybe it’s more the personal cultural aspects around my girls participating in Irish dance.

My parents were both born in Mexico and I grew up watching Mexican folkloric dance. I had always hoped that my children would want to participate in this type of dance as an activity. My daughter has seen both type of dances performed at school functions and church festivals, so I’m a bit torn that she has expressed interest in only Irish dance.

There is that part of me that wants to let her explore her interests and let her do Irish dance, but on the other hand I want to point her in the direction of the beautiful folkloric dances that I grew up watching. I remember being mesmerized when I would see Mexican folkloric dancers perform.  The dresses were so colorful, the dances were so lively and the music was simply beautiful. My husband understands my point of view, but he didn’t grow up with this type of dancing, so it’s not personal to him.

Maybe I’m thinking about this too much?  I also think about what my family and friends will say - will they think I’m not educating my kids about their Latino culture?  One of my friends had a small concern - "Would your daughter fit in?" Did she mean this because my daughter a.  is 1/2 Mexican and 1/2 White or b. doesn't look "Irish" or European?  She meant both.  I've thought about this and the truth is that her school's Irish dance group is surprisingly diverse.

A while back I remember hearing about an Irish dance team called The Keltic Dreams.  The dancers are African American and Latino girls and boys from the Bronx, NY!  It seems that this outlet has been such a positive experience for these young students - they’ve been to Ireland and met the President of the USA!  In the end, that's want I want for my daughters - to be involved in positive activities that build her self esteem, encourage them to work hard and are fun.

Oh, and by the way, my 4-year-old daughter has only expressed interest in ballet, so chances are that this year we’ll be at ballet and Irish dance practices.  I'm willing to give it a try.




Published in Family & Culture
Thursday, 26 August 2010 17:53

Making New Mom Friends

To escape the 102 degree weather outside, I took my kids to a favorite place that we used to visit quite often. It’s a large indoor play area, complete with a bounce house, a few pretend kitchen areas and way too much other stuff to list.

My children are now 6, 4 and 2-years-old. We hadn’t been there in about 3 months, but we used to come to this place about 1-2 times per month when I only had my two oldest. I met lots of friends for plenty of playdates here and generally had a good time.

Is it wrong that I feel that I was not as friendly as I could have been to the other moms on this particular trip? Maybe it was the fact that I was keeping an eye on my 2-year-old who insisted on using the bounce house with the older kids. This time I noticed that I was focused on keeping track of my kids, checking my email, and writing (sort of) a blog for the site.  I mean, I remember when I used to want to make friends at this place, or at the park, or other child friendly places.

I wanted to meet other moms who had children in the same age range as mine. Now, I have 3 kids and I feel like I make friends very easily at their schools and their activities. I am always open to new friendships, but maybe I feel like I am not trying as hard to make that 1st move. Is that wrong? I figure that I am more likely to have something in common with the other moms whose kids are already doing what my kids are doing or moms who are involved in activities I enjoy. What do you think? Have you gotten comfortable with your group of mom friends, or are you always open to making new friends and trying new playgroups?


Published in Family & Culture
Friday, 16 April 2010 01:33

Mommy Complaints

It’s easy for me to find something to complain about. Right now, I want to complain about the endless laundry, the not so clean house and the charity event that I am working on. There are days when one little incident is all I can complain about or on some days a series of little negative incidents over the course of the day add to my frustration and then I explode.Stressed mom

Case in point. The other day I woke up early, showered and even blow dried my hair, a little make up too. I felt like my morning was off to such a great start. The kids were ready for school on time! I picked up my 20 month old son and headed out the door, got the kids in the car, and then I saw a LARGE yellow stain on my white shirt. My son’s diaper leaked all over me! I was so angry and I said (Ok, I screamed) something like “Danny, you pooped on mommy! Not good!” My son looked a little concerned and said “Uh-oh.” It was cute…and cuter when he pointed at it and said “ca ca” – that’s poop in Spanish.

My 6 year old daughter wisely reminded me that he was just a “mischievous baby” and it wasn’t his fault. Ok, point taken. I meant to go home and change my stained shirt after morning school drop off, but my day got hectic and I just did not get around to it. I actually forgot about the stain until much later in the day. I finally changed my shirt – it was a big stain – but it didn’t seem like a big deal anymore.

That night I received an email about a family at my daughter’s preschool. They had lost their home in a fire over spring break and were in desperate need of everything. They were safe, but had lost it all – pictures, family momentos, clothes, toys, important documents, it was all gone. They had a serious problem, my dirty shirt was not.

The moms at the school didn’t even mention the poop stain, maybe it was because they knew exactly what it was and understood or had stains of their own that day too.

Published in Family & Culture