Friday, June 24, 2016

Finding Dory

I got some fun stuff to share! Check my Facebook page for free printables, recipes & party invites here

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Night Lights 2016
starts next week on 6/29
SNL is a great program started by City Council that offers food, sports and special activities for all ages in the evenings during the summer at 32 different recreation centers across the City of LA sponsored by the Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development.
"Toros" Mighty Mights Team - 2015 Soccer Banquet 
My kids have participated in #SNL for the last 2 years and we love it. It's very affordable and sponsorship is available for families who cannot pay. I was only working part-time last summer, and the Recreation center was very helpful in sponsoring my daughter while I paid for my son's registration. 
The kids were so happy at the end of the summer at their banquet, especially when they received their trophies. They also had special events most Fridays- they included traveling animal and bug exhibits, magicians, face painting, ice cream socials, and more!

Feel free to share- flyers are in Spanish & English. ‪#‎SNL‬‪#‎summernightlights‬ ‪#‎GRYD‬

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Mornings

For me, Monday mornings usually start on Sunday nights.

It's usually around 5pm when I realize the weekend's over, and when that realization happens the weekend is basically over. If I'm not home, I gotta get home. If I am, Monday begins.

I go through my mental checklist-

  • Laundry
  • Food/snacks for lunches
  • Clean-Up
  • Food Prep?, maybe next week
Then, the marathon begins: bath time, PJs, braiding hair, picking out the kids' clothes, bathroom one more time before bed, milk and bedtime. That's usually it. Then, my toddler gets up, asks for more milk, goes back to be, gets up again to tell me some nonsense, bed again and then she gets up one more time before she settles in my bed. Toddlers.

After that, the rest of the night is usually around shifting my "weekend purse" to my "work purse," folding clothes and hopefully an early bed time for me. I know I'm not alone. I know every household does the same or some similar variation. 

Now, it's really Monday morning. I used to run around like a crazy person, until I decided to do one thing. The one thing that has helped this momma of three get my mornings back. I get up 20 minutes earlier. That's it. That's the one thing that has single-handedly has made weekdays more bearable. Nothing special, but it was a big deal for this former over sleeper. 

These 20 minutes don't seem like much, but man, peeing and showering in peace has been heavenly. By the time I'm out of the shower and getting dressed, the kids usually get up on their own- which is super helpful considering dragging kids out of bed is not fun. Then, the kids get dressed, hair gets brushed and while the kids look and put on their shoes, I help my son finish making his lunch and get some breakfast ready to go. 

I've been doing this consistently now for 3 weeks, and it's pretty much improved my mood and productivity in the morning. My kids are happier, too. I'm pretty sure not yelling in the morning and being more patient is the biggest factor. I might build up that 20 minutes to 30 minutes and see if I can get my hair done, too. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

inner city education

My oldest starts the 1st grade this Fall. I'm so happy for him and very proud of him. It's been a roller coaster and to be honest I wasn't sure how much more I could take. In the past 3 years, we have done both Catholic and public schools. Choosing which institution would benefit my son most has proven to be very challenging.

Early on, I decided that I wanted to invest in my local public school. As a Chicana who grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles, I knew that this is what I wanted for my children, for my local teachers and schools. I know it's the important and responsible thing to do when it comes to education; however, it's challenging when you know that those same schools have been neglected for decades before I was even born and are underperforming.

In all honesty, I chose Catholic school for preschool, or as it's now called- Transitional Kinder, or TK- because it was more affordable than day care. Because of so many budget cuts in the past years, affordable preschools are hard to find, you have to be dirt poor to qualify for a free preschool and finally, no preschool would take my son at 3 years old. We opted for Catholic school.

I went to public schools until high school. Once puberty was in full bloom, my mom decided that an all girls Catholic school was the "safest" option for me. After my Catholic school experience, I could appreciate the discipline and respect that we were taught, so when we opted for Catholic school for my son, this was comforting. Being a Catholic school parent is no joke. Involvement and participation is mandatory. This was also comforting.
PreK-1 at Age 3

Catholic school was going well, that is until my son started to fall behind. He struggled with letter recognition and writing. Naturally, I was concerned when this was brought to my attention, and I did my best to work with him at home; however, it came to the point that his teacher recommended he repeat TK-2 and told us that he showed early signs of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). When we asked about where he fell academically, she said he wasn't too far behind, but that he lacked maturity to move on to Kindergarten.
TK-2 at Age 4

Still, to this day, I don't really understand what that means. My son is social and friendly. As most 4 year olds, curious and impatient, but not anything I wouldn't expect from other boys his age. After our parent-teacher meeting, we met with the principal. She told me that she supported the teacher's recommendation. I decided to ask her what the curriculum was for Kindergarten- turns out, not so different from TK. I asked her if she believed that his lack of maturity would hinder him from advancing academically. She told me she was unsure. I asked her what programs existed that my son could participate in over the summer or after school to help him catch up. She said none because his challenges were behavioral. I asked if she had scheduled a meeting with the school counselor and what her recommendation was. She said we could set that up, but that she would still support the teacher's recommendation.

My son didn't fit in the box that he needed to be in so that he could move on, and there were was no support for him to advance. I didn't expect him to fit in the box but I also didn't expect for the school to make such a drastic decision or give up so easily. Understanding that resources were limited in a Catholic school and now coming to terms with the fact that my son needed some of those resources, I decided to look into other options.

I didn't have to look too far, because my answer was down the street at our local elementary school. I was relieved. Resources weren't unlimited, but they were there and they believed that he would do well. As I expected, he did struggle throughout Kinder, but with tutoring and after school help, he finished the year and improved. I'm happy to report that he's reading. He's still behind a bit, but he's in an extended learning program this summer that will help him catch up before he begins the first grade.

In the last month of Kindergarten Age 5
I knew we would eventually head into the public school system, I just didn't expect it would happen so soon. I'm grateful for our private school experiences because it has helped in other aspects. I urge parents to take the extra steps in your child's education. It's a lot of work. The information is not just in one place waiting for you, you have to look for it- but, once you've found it, you'll know what to do and it's so worth the investment. I'm glad I trusted my instincts and didn't just settle in recommendations or persistence. I know there's a long road ahead of me, but I'm ready. The end result? My son is happy and learning... with no behavioral issues.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

6 Things I wish I would have known more about breastfeeding

I have had many challenges with breastfeeding. I have 3 kids and I am very proud to say that I breastfed all of them; however, I wish I would have been able to breastfeed them until they were at least a year, but I encountered so many challenges and succumbed to many pressures during this journey. 

Nursing Juliana, newborn.
Like many women, as a first time mom, I didn’t even give breastfeeding a second thought. So many people asked me if I was going to nurse, and my first reaction was always, “duh.” I thought it would be easy- hungry baby? Pull out the boob! Easy peasy. Except, it wasn’t. It was challenging each time and I learned something new each time. This was an amazing experience and I hope that someone can benefit from my experience.

1. Nipple Shields and Sizes. I have a flat nipple and an inverted nipple, so off the bat, this was a challenge. When I nursed my first, I used the nipple shields all the time, I even grew to have a dependency on them. The difference between nursing with them and without them was like night and day for my nipple. When I finally decided to kick them to the curb after 3 months, it was like I was breastfeeding for the first time all over again- painful. So, I learned to use them only when I was sore or cracked with my kids. I also noticed that my son was very frustrated with them at first, but once I got a larger size- for my larger boobs- and everything was a lot easier. I had no idea they had different sizes.

2. Pain. It’s going to hurt, but like everything else, it doesn’t last forever. The first day is actually not that bad. It’s the days that follow that are challenging. The first 3 weeks that are the hardest, but then after 6 weeks, you even wonder what all the fuss was about. But, after that, if you’re still hurting or if you ever feel any pain after latching, then you need to see a lactation consultant or doctor. 

3. Leakage. My childhood best friend had her baby a few months before I did, so naturally, as all girl friends do, I asked her about everything and she told me about everything I hadn’t asked her. She made a point to tell me not to spend any money on breast pads and return any I had received as a gift, and I listened. She said she never needed them. Then, on day 3 when my milk came in, I was leaking every where! In fact, I didn’t know I was leaking, I thought I was sweating because it was a hot day, until I inspected myself. What? Obviously, I know that everyone is different and every situation is different, but whoa. Pack an extra top in your diaper bag, carry extra pads or wash cloths. And yes, one boob will probably leak more than the other, it just happens.

4. Attire. I spent a lot of money on a few nursing tops, and they didn’t do a whole lot more than what I already had or could buy for a lot less. Spaghetti straps, tanks, layering, button-down blouses, scarves and wrap dresses worked better for me. The clips, the shelf bras, buttons that weren’t buttons and secret openings were probably a little much for me to figure out when my screaming infant needed easy access. My first baby hated to be covered up- hated.  I didn’t always cover up, but when I felt a bit modest, I had to ditch the nursing cover and would use a light weight scarf or muslin sheet to cover up. With my second baby I finally learned the layering trick- camisole under the top. Pull up the top, lower the cami under the boob and voila! 

5. Supply. I was completely oblivious to supply with my first baby, because I was blessed with lots and lots of milk. This was not the case with my second or third. I could kick myself now, with all the milk I could have stored. Pumping was my lifesaver in my second attempt at nursing. I scheduled a pump before bed to get any milk I had out. I also learned how to pump to get the most milk out, by doing small things like massages, smelling a worn onesie and looking at baby pictures.

Although pumps are pricey, there are many insurances that cover rental costs from the hospital. WIC (Women Infant and Children) is also another resource, they give a high-grade manual pump and loan electric pumps to moms going back to school or work. I had read so many articles about how renting breast pumps was risky for the baby, and didn’t utilize this option with my first. So, I bought a pump that was “affordable” for lack of a better word. It was horrible, painful and didn’t work properly. It ended up being a waste of money. So, for my second baby, I rented the hospital high-grade pump for 3 months and $14 and my outlook on pumping changed completely. Basically, the only thing that was out on loan was the actual machine, all the attachments and accessories were given to me brand new by the hospital. 

Diet can help or hinder your milk supply as well. This was something I learned after my third baby. It wasn’t an issue before. Luckily, at this time, I had more resources to tap into for help, and learned how to make the most of my diet (as much as I could with 3 kids) to help build my supply. Fennel, oatmeal, yeast and tons of water were incorporated into my diet, and lactation cookies became my obsession. 

6. Depression. This was tough. My third baby was underweight for so many months that despite what my lactation consultant and crunchy friends urged, I felt like I had to supplement. I once read a list of things that cause a lack in supply, and supplementing was on it. Already having a issues with supply, I toughed through a few extra weeks before I finally gave in to the “F” word. Formula. Because I didn’t have this issue with my first or second babies, I always carried it around just in case. Or, if I was going to be away from the baby for a while. I’ve never been against it. It’s given me a break when I have needed it and gave dad some bonding time. This time was a little different, I had been suffering from postpartum depression and it was causing a significant drop in my supply. I felt like my baby needed something that I couldn’t offer her, and she did. I didn’t give up breastfeeding, I just needed to supplement a couple times during the day to make sure she was getting what she needed and to give my body time to catch up to meet the demand. 

Post-nursing session. Happy baby.
What are your breastfeeding tips? What do you share with your girlfriends about your own personal breastfeeding experiences?