Why am I watching this!

Before having kids I watched a lot of Law and Order SVU , I love me some Mariska Hargitay but the moment I gave birth to my first child I just couldn’t anymore. It was too much. It hurt me, yes it hurt my heart to watch the show. I knew it was just a TV show but these stories were often based on true stories. Four years later I have a new TV obsession-The First 48 Hours on A & E. I literally watch an episode every night, it is not normal. The problem is while I do love these shows because they are real, captivating, heartbreaking and informative they also scare the SHIT OUT OF ME. Like I am never going to let my kids out of the house and what the hell was that noise? Is that a murderer in my laundry room?

My husband works out of state and travels a lot which means that I am home alone; as a New Yorker who lived in a doorman building her whole life, moving to the suburbs was a very difficult transition. Moving to a single family home allowed me to take my city self to the extreme; I have an alarm system, security cameras all over my home, a pit bull, a panic button and my house is lit up like JFK airport (this is important to note because the homes in my neighborhood have zero outdoor lighting). So yea, clearly I am a bit over the top which is why watching these types of programs only makes me more insanely scared, anxious and crazy. What the hell is wrong with me? Why is it such a vice for me? Why do I do this to myself.

As a mom I find it very difficult to watch the news and programs like these and not be completely terrified for my children and their future. I think how the hell did my mother ever let me out of the house let alone on the NYC subway system. Was she insane! Mind you I did have my own mace by the time I was 14 years old and a device that if I was ever in distress I could turn on and it made a blow horn type noise. But really, what is the answer? I do not want to live in a bubble where I don’t know what is going on in the world and think everything is just dandy but at the same time I do not want to be scared of every single person me and my children come in contact with!

Extremes of anything are never good so I am hoping that my TV watching tastes change once my favorite shows come back to Netflix. Thank God for you dear Netflix, this Mami loves you~

 

Money doesn’t grow on trees!

Yea well tell that to 5,300 college and universities in the United States* and to your local government office. Well it is definitely January because all anybody can talk about is the lack of funds in their account and how expensive everything is. In my Mom circle everyone has been talking about schools, what school districts are good, which are not, how to pay for private and/or Catholic schools and property taxes. Literally, it comes up in every conversation. In my neck of the woods the cost of living is inflated, housing, transportation, food etc. People work 80 hours a week and it still seems to never be enough. For real? How can that be?

I grew up in New York City where many of the public schools are horrendous so I feel very lucky  that I got to go to a private school. I was an only child, Hispanic (they needed their diversity box to be checked) with a single parent so I got a discount-THANK YOU universe. So when I  moved to Connecticut everyone said well be careful because the schools aren’t good and it will affect your home’s value but I figured well they can’t be as bad as the ones in NYC. Now that I live in CT the only thing parents can talk about is how the schools in my town are not good, that they will be moving to this place and to the next. Of course like most things, it all depends on who you are speaking to because others will say that the schools are just fine. Then you wonder if the schools are just considered “bad” because they are filled with minority students whose parents can’t afford private tutors for every subject! I live in a small city surrounded by several small wealthy towns so it isn’t a fair to compare a school in a city where there are all kinds of people and income levels to a town where a starter home will cost you $1 million. Either way with everyone talking about schools, you have to start to think- okay so what is right for my child? Should I just put my kid into public school and start saving now for college? Better yet should I start selling body parts, invest that money and pray that one day I can pay for college because by then it will be $100K per child per year!

I think much like parenting, choosing what type of school is right for your child is a personal choice, you have to do what works for you and your family and your finances. If you can afford private school then kudos but if you can’t then you should be able to put your child in public school and not have to worry that they will be 10yrs old reading at a Kindergartners level. Yes, this happens in the NYC area. For my husband and I we have decided to put our kids into Catholic school and then a private prep school for high school as that is what our parents did for us. Our parents were immigrants so we pray that if they could do it then we should be able to but it is still a huge and scary commitment! And if we do this how will we ever be able to send them to college? With that also comes, why are we paying high property taxes if our kids will not even be using the public schools? Where should we move if everything in our area is “expensive”. I know there are many parents out there that are in the same boat. It is a lot of responsibility raising a kid and you don’t want to fuck them up?! Everyone wants their kid to go to a good school and be successful in life. Right? We all want better for our kids. That is one thing that unites us as individuals, no matter who you are , where you came from etc. We all want better for our kids. One day at a time Mami’s, one day at a time..

 

*www.washingtonpost.com

What kind of parent are you?

chancleta

So we have all read the articles and the Facebook posts about the different style of parenting. Are you a free ranger or a helicopter parent? Are you a Tiger mom? The list goes on and on. I get my Parents magazine in the mail and sometimes I read the advice in there and go WTF and sometimes I agree with it. The way I see the world is there are no 2 styles, its more like 15+ different styles of parenting. Also I think your cultural background has an affect on how you raise your kids(my fellow Latinos-you know what I’m talking about) which is why I hate that everyone has to fall into a freaking category all the time. Parenting is not black and white. Every kid is different and you have to work and see what style of parenting works best for that child-right? Todo el mundo tiene su librito.  Although if your Hispanic, you have been taught there is only 1 way to raise your kids and that is using the Chancleta, that is how you get your kids to fear you.

Now I do not use the Chancleta but I am “old school“, I am a strict bitch. I don’t care if my kid wants to wear a tutu to the supermarket or if she wants Nutella for dinner every night, that is NOT going to happen, tears or no tears. She has to follow my rules and do what I say. Period, the end. That means that she is not wearing sandals when it is 35 degrees outside, that she has to eat at the table, chew with her mouth closed, NOT use her clothes to clean her mouth, she has to ask permission to leave the table and she is NOT allowed to cause a scene at the store or there will be HELL to pay when we get home. I am thankful that for the most part, my daughter listens to me and will do what I say but now that she is almost 4, she will talk back to me. She will say “I don’t like that”, “that is NOT a good idea” as she slowly concedes to my demands. I tell myself it could be worse but can’t help to think how I would have gotten the Chancleta if I ever talked back to my mother like that. Although it was usually a 4inch bright colored leather heel-I grew up in the 80’s and my mom worked in an office.

Now with that said, I am already fearing that my son will not be as receptive to my “parenting” style. While he is only 10 months old, he is so wild that I have already given up with him on several occasions. Do I tell him no all day long, yes of course but it is clear as day that he is NOT listening to me nor does he give a damn. Now I know most of you are thinking, this lady is nuts, he is a baby, babies do NOT listen. Well, I must have been spoiled because for the most part my daughter listened to me around that age and she NEVER attempted to do half of the stuff my sons does. I know, I know- boys are different than girls and every kid has a different personality. Well my strong willed son has me pulling my hair out and because I have to keep it together for my daughter’s sake,  I have begun to concede to him. I have removed toys from the playroom when he is around, removed furniture, decor etc so he can’t reach it because I just do not have the energy to deal with the situation. I am sure as times goes by I will learn what “parenting” style he will respond to the best but I don’t think I will ever revert to the “you get more bees with honey” technique. This bitchy mami is here to stay with the occasional treats of course-How else can you bribe your kids?

When the kids don’t get along?

So you finally found a mom friend that you like and have things in common with other than being mamas and you are thrilled! But wait, your kids don’t like eacother!? This has happened to me and it sucks. It is hard enough to find moms that keep it “real” and that you can be yourself with so when you find one its great. You now have someone who you can chat/text with, have coffee with, complain about your partners, in laws, siblings etc. That is why its horrible when the kids don’t get along because in my experience instead of talking to your newly found friend you are spending all your time trying to keep the peace between the kids.

So what is the answer? I have no idea. I have tried to get together with mom friends without the kids,  at a girls dinner or even a quick coffee date when the kids are in school but what about when your kids are too little for school? Well, in my experience the only thing you can do is stop getting together with that person especially if that persons child/children is a bully to your child. However if it isn’t that bad you can do the opposite- keep getting together not as often for the sake of your sanity and deal with the meltdowns, sometimes they will be less intense then others. I always try to prep my kids, I make sure she is well fed and slept before heading out. That way its not complete drama when one kid doesn’t want to share the “legos”.   Our kids have to learn how to be around challenging people.

The  other thing to keep in mind is when kids are really little they don’t really “play together” its more like they are playing by themselves but next to other kids. They don’t really start playing with other kids until they are 2 1/2 (at least this has been my experience).

Having a mom friend or a group of mom friends is vital to keeping your sanity when you are a stay at home mom. It has kept me from going completely nuts and it is the 1 piece of advice I give to all new moms especially stay at home moms. There are a ton of groups out there, you can find a ton on www.meetup.com, the local park, your place of worship or even a gymboree/music class. Do whatever works just GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and TALK to someone. Do it, you will feel better, I promise.

Grateful Kids?

gratefulPhoto credit: http://quotesgram.com

We received soo many Christmas gifts for the kids (thank you God!) that we told our little girl that she had to go thru her current toys and give us stuff she was no longer playing with so we could donate them to kids who were less fortunate. She was great about it and we got a bunch of stuff together. Now her favorite phrase is “We have to donate it Mami”. I smile every single time.

As mentioned in a previous post ever since I gave birth to our daughter I have become an emotional weakling. Case and point, the other night McFarland USA the Disney movie was on TV. It is about a group of Hispanic boys who live in McFarland, California, pick fruit before and after school and manage to become a Cross Country team who win the State Championship with the help of their coach- “Blanco” played by Kevin Costner. I cry every single time I watch this movie. It is a great story, a true story but what really gets me is how thankful and grateful these kids are. There is a scene where their coach-Kevin Costner takes them to see the ocean for the first time-I cry my eyes out!!

I am a broken record, I tell my daughter all the time how lucky she is and how she has to thank God for everything she has. I sound like my mother! But it is true. I am sure our parents felt this way about us too especially as immigrants but today’s youth is so obsessed with $ and material things. Everything is about consumption. “Mami my toy broke, I need to go buy another one”. “Mami, lets buy another iPad for baby brother” As if money grew on trees! God I am getting old..

I traveled quite a bit to Latin America as a child and I saw what it is like for the rest of the world, I learned what the real world was like, I saw kids who didn’t have parents, shoes, food or even running water! I went to school with very wealthy and privileged children in Manhattan so when I saw what the third world was like it was a bit shocking but it was good. I needed to see stuff like that. In my opinion we do our children a disservice by sheltering them, even if we think its for their own safety. Even when I went thru tough times-didn’t have a place to live, was being threatened I couldn’t come to school because my mom was late with her tuition payment (thanks Catholic school), I realized it sucked but I saw that it could be a lot worse. I realize how easily things can come and go. I pray that I can stay focused and teach my kids how to be thankful and grateful. I am not sure how I am going to do it but I will take each day as it comes. I am 100% committed to keeping my daughter and son REAL and aware of the REAL world. Even if we live in the Fourth most expensive places to live.  I am taking it day by day…

Mami Stop Speaking Spanish..

As my daughter’s 4th birthday approaches I sometimes wonder if she is turning 15 instead of 4. Her vocabulary grows by the day and everything seems to be an argument, negotiation or the beginning of a crying fit. She wants to FIGHT me on EVERYTHING. She comes home and as I or our sitter is talking to her and her brother in Spanish she states “No Spanish, we have to speak English, only English”. My response “are you Donald Trump?” She looks at me with a confused face.  I try to be a nice and sane mother and in a loving but firm voice explain to her that no, we speak Spanish in this house especially when our sitter is here because she doesn’t speak English (wink wink). Well she could care less.

Before my daughter started preschool, I only spoke to her in Spanish. I thought that would be the best way, except when my husband was home we spoke to each other in English. She seemed confused but I kept at it. When she started a 2 year old preschool program last year she spoke very little but about 1 month later she became a chatter box, an English chatterbox. I still tried to speak to her only in Spanish but I found myself speaking to her more and more in English. I let it slide because I wanted her to catch up to the other kids in school, I did not want her to be “behind”. Fast forward a year later and now she doesn’t want to speak in Spanish unless she is forced to. She has also stopped wanting to read our Spanish stories and listen to Spanish music in the car, the only exception is Enrique Iglesias, her beloved Kiki.

Part of me doesn’t want to push it because I do not want her to resent me and grow to hate Spanish. I try to look at the positives and that is she understands 100% which is great but for me it is not good enough. I have tried to get her to play more with other kids who have similar backgrounds but their mothers are also struggling with their kids responding to them in Spanish. I really don’t know what to do except keep at it.

When I was growing up 30 years ago my nanny only spoke Spanish and didn’t understand a word of English so that kept me speaking Spanish on a daily basis. I feel very lucky that I am Bilingual. My husband is the youngest of 3 kids and when we met he spoke broken Spanish at best despite the fact that his mother speak very little English. What I am getting at here is I do not know what the right solution or method is to ensure that your child continues to be Bilingual other than to be as persistent as possible with them. If someone could give me a “How to guide” I would gladly take it.

Keeping my head up and fingers crossed. Tomorrow is a new day.

Pastel De Carne con Papa Dulce

 

Ingredients:

1/2-1lb of ground round

half of a yellow onion-chopped

1 large garlic clove-minced

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Sea Salt to taste

handful of pitted green olives

2-3 large sweet potatoes

1/2 cup of milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Brown the meat in a pan with onion, garlic and olive oil. Salt to taste. When the meat is done cooking, add the green olives which you have sliced in half. Set aside.

In a pot bring water to boil. Peel and cut the sweet potato in small cubes , add salt to the water and place the potatoes to boil-about 15 minutes. When the potatoes are soft(test it with a knife), drain and place them back in the pot with about 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and about 1/2 cup of milk. Use a masher and mash the potatoes as much as possible. Stir together all ingredients until it is nice and creamy.

Use an oven safe baking/casserole dish and assemble the Pastel. First a layer of the sweet potato puree, then the meat and then top it with more sweet potato puree. When ready to eat, heat the oven to 375 and place the dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until everything is warm. Enjoy!

When your kid acts like a Jerk

Happy New Year! Okay so I am back to blogging. My husband was home for two weeks and I thought I would have all this time to blog. Well, clearly I was wrong. While I very  much enjoyed my time off and an extra pair of hands with the kids, I like routine and I am happy to get back to the daily grind. Yes, I am weird. I know!

So my 3yr old daughter was home for 10 days and I figured she would be thrilled because a. it was Christmas b. she got a ton of toys and c. she had her daddy home the whole time. Now granted she was sick for a good 4 days with a cold but we still managed to go out and do stuff so why was she acting like a jerk? Yes, judge me if you want but my kid was a HUGE JERK during the holiday. She whined for everything, cried at the drop of a dime, talked back like crazy and was very bossy. Now I am a strict mom, I raise my daughter the “old school way”. I was raised that way and I came out okay as was my husband so that is how we are raising our kids. Except right now it isn’t working so well. We have taken away her ipad, her toys, put her in her room and spanked her (chill people-I am talking a smack on the hand nothing like what we had to put up with back in the day!)but we still aren’t seeing the results we had hoped for. Now I want her to be a confident little girl but I also want to teach her to respect her parents, etc. It is definitely a balance and I am praying that if I just stay consistent it will work out.

No puedes saber quien eres, si no sabes de donde vienes

Choosing a name for your baby is such a process. I am first generation American and my parents called me Maria Ximena, a real tongue twister back in 1982 even in New York City. Yea sure everyone in Latin America is Maria something and down there people call you by both names but here? You have a better shot at winning the lottery. I was tortured my whole life by my name, first of all, no one could pronounce it, the X really throws people off. Then once you explained to everyone that the X makes a J sound, I was called “HeMan” you know the 80’s action figure? Then if you pronounced it with with an S sound I got called “Semen”. My husband’s name is Raul and you would think that wouldn’t be so hard to live with but when you grow up in an Italian/Irish neighborhood it is pretty rough. So as my husband and I are pretty traumatized with our very Spanish names we thought, ok we want to give our kids Spanish names too but something that is “easy” for Americans to pronounce. It was important to us that we kept it real with our kids. Sure we are American but we are no gringos, nor will we ever be. At the end of the day, our last name will always be Perez, my daughter might change it when she gets older and marries but I will NEVER let her forget she was a Perez first. Como dice el dicho “No puedes saber quien eres, si no sabes de donde vienes”. Translation: You cannot know who you are if you do not know where you came from.

With that in mind we made a list of several names but then the problem became how many people did I or my husband know with those names who were awful human beings, were sluts in high school, were ex boyfriends/girlfriends or whatever. Choosing a name became a real process!

For our daughter we finally settled on Adela,  yes Adela NOT Adele. We thought it fit perfectly. I don’t like naming my kids before they enter the world, I wanted to see them and hold them before I decided. The funny thing about Adela is that many Latinos think we call her Adela because we are speaking in Spanish so they assume when spelling her name or when speaking in English they have to refer to her as Adele. It is always something isn’t it?

When I had my son, my husband was so traumatized by my 24 hour labor and 2 hours of pushing that he pretty much told me I could name him whatever the hell I wanted. We had been torn between Xavier and Augustine (yes we like old people names) but I decided on Xavier, which is pronounced Javier and for soccer fans out there, yes, I know there are 2 very famous Spanish soccer players that have this name and pronounce it “Shavee and spell it differently (Xabier). Clearly my past has taught me nothing or I just have amnesia. Well I tell everyone his name is Xavi, and they have zero problem but always write it with a J and his pediatrician calls him Xavier pronounced “Ex-avier” so I have pretty much given up correcting people unless they are people I consider friends etc. I knew when I chose his name there would be confusion but I figured since I liked Xavier the way it was pronounced in English and Spanish it wouldn’t be an issue.

How did you chose your baby’s name?

 

BreastFeeding..Live and Let Live

I have a friend who recently gave birth to her second child and when I saw her a few weeks ago I could tell she was struggling with breastfeeding. When you only have 1 child the idea of having your baby on your breast all day is a shock at first but you do it, you get into a groove and you keep it moving. However when you have your second child you now have to breastfeed your newborn and chase after your other child at the same time. It is a challenge but that is why we Ladies have the babies!

My friend started asking me how long I breastfed my son and how I did this, that and the other. I answered her questions as best I could because truthfully I never breastfed my children that long(the longest I lasted was 3 months). My daughter had SEVERE acid reflux and by the time she was diagnosed my supply went down the tubes, I was told I had to go on a very strict diet (no diary or soy) and I was going thru SEVERE post pardem so I stopped at 6 weeks. My son got breastmilk for 3 months but I almost always pumped as he had a tendency to BITE me and it was horribly painful (did not have this problem with my daughter). I was told he would bite me because he was tongue tied but in reality he just had a high palette. I consider myself a practical person, so I did what worked for me and that is the best advice I can give to my friends and loved ones.

As we talked more in my friend’s living room I could tell she wanted someone to tell her it was going to be okay if she gave her baby formula, I sensed that she was being a bit bullied by either her pediatrician, her husband, family members or friends or maybe by everyone. All I could say was, do what you feel is right and tell those bullies to Fuck Off! You are a smart woman and a good mom and whatever makes you and baby happy is what is right.

When I first got pregnant and started reading and googling I found that so many people had such extreme views on parenting and especially breastfeeding. I believe that extremes of any kind are never good. Motherhood is so damn hard and when you are a first time parent every little article, fact or Babycenter email can send you into a tizzy at least that was my experience. Therefore the last thing we need as women is to judge one another or to tell someone what they should do. I would always think and say out loud to my computer screen ” ARE YOU IN MY HOME WITH MY NEWBORN AT 2AM” oh right, NO. So FUCK YOU! (I’m from New York, I love the F word-sorry!) I don’t know when we started living in a society where we think it is completely acceptable to tell people what to do with their lives. My mom always says , everyone has their own little book on how to raise their children and I could not agree more. My husband and I were formula fed babies and we turned out just fine. We also slept on our stomach and with 3,864,690 stuffed animals and blankets and a BUMPER and we are still here. Also, think about how many babies live in horrific poverty, their mothers often times do not have access to proper prenatal care, vitamins, healthy foods etc and they still survive. Obviously as educated women living in America we want the best for our children, we want our children all to be healthy baby geniuses but at the end of the day we just need to be GRATEFUL that we have options. My OBGYN with my daughter was the doctor who delivered me 30+ years ago and had such a funny outlook on pregnancy. He is obviously an older man and he is from South Africa so when I started reading off a list of everything I liked to eat and asked him if it was “safe” he laughed and said in his fabulous accent ” the women during the war had to eat rocks because they were starving and they had perfectly healthy babies-so just relax and use common sense”. I love that man!

Mami’s do what works for you! Breastfeeding is hard, you have to be 100% committed and supported. If it works for you awesome if it doesn’t that is okay too. Your baby is just hungry, feed him/her, be happy and enjoy every second because before you know it they will be going to preschool! And Ladies if you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all..K?

Thanks