Shana Tova!

In what is most definitely a blanket generalization of Miami geography and cliche- Miami is where most of the hispanic community is based and on Miami Beach you come across a more transient crowd, but also it’s a high Jewish population.

So with that said when we were looking for preschools there was 1 or 2 Catholic options, but we wanted Montessori and we settled on this great preschool based out of a Temple.  I’m not very religious (we can discuss this later) but I come from a long long line of very rule abiding Catholics.  As you can imagine- this was a problem for certain members of my family.  But for us it wasn’t.  The school was packed with love and God is God people.

Well let’s circle back to the point.   We had been living on the beach for a couple years at this point, and right around Rosh Hashanah our car rides were filled with songs about apples and honey and Shabbat Shalom and we were happy.

Rosh Hashanah morning my daughter wakes up so excited and runs out of her room saying “Shana Tova mama Shana Tova, when are we going to Temple?” (Shana Tova means “a good year”).  I realized in the moment that it may have come time for a little talk.  Before I could get a round to it there was a knock at my door. I walk over and open it up.

There before me is a man dressed in a button down, dress pants, a hat and a full beard.  “Shana Tova” he begins, “Is your family Jewish?”  Traditionally these men are going around collecting money on the holiday.

“Good Morning,” I reply, “no I’m sorry we aren’t but…” I couldn’t finish my sentence before my daughter has come running to the front door.  She looks up at him smiling eyes wide open, “Shana Tova Rabbi!”

The man looks back at me in disgust like I am a dirty liar.  I laugh nervously, “No you see we send her to the Temple down the…”

She cuts me off again, “I love your Shofar” {for those who don’t know it’s a Ram’s horn used in certain Jewish ceremonies}.  Now this guy is looking at me.

I only had one thing left to say at this point, “Let me go get my checkbook”.

Are You Smarter Than a 3rd Grader?

We are smack in the middle of the 5th week of school.  This back to school season has been especially intense.  I feel like everything is moving 100 mph, and I have no way of slowing anything down.  Every day is a new juggle and I’m throwing balls into the air and just trying to catch whatever ball is coming down to throw it back up. 

What has been particularly grueling about this back to school season is homework.  

I’ve been doing homework for 4 years now.  Yes, it’s “their” homework, but we all know that it’s really ours.  My oldest is in third grade now and it finally happened.  I knew it was coming too, the writing had been on the wall since the end of last year. 

There I was making dinner in the kitchen.  Blake (my oldest) was sitting at the table completing her math packet, when she called me over for help.  “Mommy I don’t understand how to get this answer,” she says so sweetly, so innocently.  I read the question, and right there in that moment I knew.  I knew I had no flipping idea how to do it.  I had to look my sweet little daughter right in the eyes and say “let me see what google says.” 

I thought I would at least make it to 5th grade before I started struggling with her homework, or at the very least  up to fractions.  I always hated fractions.  But this 3rd grade homework had me. 

What was worse? I also couldn’t figure it out with a google search, texting my smartest friend, or Alexa.  Now I had to sit back and cross my fingers my husband also couldn’t figure it out, and I wasn’t the only adult who could not do 3rd grade math in my house.  He did know how to do it by the way, which I was obviously happy about so that she could get an explanation.  However, it was not a blow my ego was ready to take. 

So if you need me, I will be completing my 3rd grade math workbooks behind the scenes trying to catch up.  

My Bia Life is #momcare

Self care is trending. Can I get an Amen? The problem is, as a mom, it’s really hard for me to make time to take care of myself.

That is why when I find a products or service that make it easier for me to handle my insane schedule, while not sacrificing myself (entirely)- I jump! When I heard of My Bia Life, I was obviously very into it. Full disclosure, the founders, Dr. Janelle Vega and Dr. Shasa Hu are friends of mine. However even if they were not friends of mine, I would be all over this service.

What My Bia Life does is take out all the scheduling appointments, waiting rooms, and traffic out of a dermatologist visit. Once you arrive at their website, you create your account, provide them with some information on your skin, and upload a few photos.

After that either Dr. Vega or Dr. Hu will contact you within your patient portal. In this conversation she will explain to you what your skin looks like it needs, and recommend to you the medical grade skin care products to use based on the information you provided. To make it even easier, once you have reviewed it and come to an agreement, you will receive a beautiful package to your home with all your goodies.

Here is my favorite part. It’s mom brain proof. One of my biggest issues was not knowing what to use or how to use it! To make this easy for even the zombiest of all zombie moms, each product is marked for whether you need to use it in the morning or night and is numbered in the order you should use it. Genius!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your skin regimen, you can always contact Dr. Vega or Dr. Hu through the portal. Otherwise you will have follow-ups every 3 months.

Somewhere between soccer, car pools, tutoring, homework, dance class, basketball, and every single other obstacle thrown at parents during the week, it is not easy to find time to just do something for me.

This skin care routine has been a little peace in what is usually a very chaotic day. The best part, is it works for me, and I don’t have to leave my house to know I’m getting great care.

If you want to try My Bia Life, Dr. Vega and Dr. Hu are offering 15% off for the next month when you type “CristyBia” at checkout.

Baby Teeth

He lost his tooth today.  There he was sitting in my favorite super hero pajama that he still sometimes wears even though the pants don’t even reach his ankles anymore and his shirt doesn’t cover his belly.  One second he was dipping his pancake in syrup (he’s a dipper- don’t judge), and the next he was saying “my sharp tooth fell out”.  

My baby lost his tooth today.  Just typing that sent me down a rabbit hole of emotions.  Each day is filled with monotonous tasks, redundant arguments over homework or bed time.  Motherhood is such a bloody battle between wanting to freeze time and wanting to put them to bed.  Then something small, like when your baby, your last baby, loses his tooth. You realize that somewhere between wrestling them into pajamas, driving them to soccer practice, helping glue a school project they are all growing up.  The growth is so subtle, so tiny, that if you blink you will miss it- but it’s there. 

It felt like a small stab to my gut.  That tooth was just a little bit of my baby falling out, and being replaced by a permanent big boy tooth.  He is slowly but surely getting bigger.  

Would you judge me for keeping this tooth hidden away deep in my jewelery box? Forever? Creepy? 

Are these the little moments that prepare you to let them go for real down the line? 

Family Trip to Madrid

My husband, Bobby, doesn’t know this, but a couple of years ago he lost his official vote in helping plan what our family does for vacation.  He shouldn’t be surprised, considering the last time he proposed and planned a vacation, THIS happened: 

However, this year, was the year he found redemption.  Since our oldest, Blake, was a baby (almost 9 years) we have been talking about (dreaming about) spending a summer somewhere else and just living life there.  We would talk about it incessantly in private, discussing what would make for the perfect scenario. What cities could work? What scenarios wouldn’t work at all? How old would the kids have to be?  Some of the fundamental conclusions we came to were: 

  • Time: For us it had to be at least two weeks up to one month.  We want to be in another city and really get the feel for what it’s like to live there and we felt this time period would accomplish that.  
  • Kids Age: We wanted our youngest, Tristan, to be at least 4-5.  We wanted to be able to send the kids to camp. We feel more comfortable sending the kids to a new environment knowing they will be able to clearly communicate what had gone on in the day.  Also didn’t want them to be so young that they would forget this experience entirely.
  • Language: the first time we do this (we hope for more), it had to be a place we felt comfortable speaking the language.  English is preferred but it could be Spanish, as we are both fluentish. We definitely wanted to be able to handle any situation that arose. [This really helped us narrow it down.]
  • Camp: There had to be a camp that all three kids could attend and wasn’t too pricey.  I wanted to live somewhere else, not referee my children all day in another city.
  • Work: I can write from anywhere, but Bobby.  Luckily he had started a business that allows him to work remotely from anywhere.  
  • Location:  After an RV I realized real quick that city life, is the life for me. Also we wanted to be able to have access to great food, grocery stores, gyms, and culture.  No offense to smaller cities, but a girl’s gotta eat.

Back to Bobby’s Redemption Story.  This past January, Bobby came home and had found the key to making all of our discussions and dreams come true.  He found a camp the kids could attend in Madrid. This hits two of our requirements.   After all the talks and all of the day-dreaming, it was time to put up. We had never been to Madrid, were we really going to do this? Hell yes! So we booked it! 

It was one of those things that I was so excited for, but also could not believe was happening.  We had three kids, our lives are chaos personified, how was this going to work?  How would our kids take the news?

Our kids were not thrilled. Blake is already old enough to say things like “you’re making me leave my friends for the whole summer?”

Dylan was saying things like “But I don’t want to learn Spanish on my vacation!”

Tristan’s concerns were along the lines of, “how many toys can I bring? But won’t the toys that stay behind miss me?”

We had a few big talks leading up to the departure. Easing nerves about taking such a long flight (their first), about how long we were going to be away, and how it is ok to feel sad or that they are going to miss their friends and family. If you are considering a trip like this, I would definitely have a plan about how to talk to them about it and give them space to express their concerns. As much as this was our dream, we definitely wanted it to be something they could be excited about as well.

It’s hard to believe that we are 14 days into this incredible adventure. The kids transitioned so well! Tristan however has asked to FaceTime his toys, and asks how I think his Colossal T-Rex is doing almost every day.

I’m so happy to share with you some of the details of how we made this happen: 

Camp

We are in Madrid for 4 weeks, and decided to send the kids for the last 3 weeks we would be here.  We spent the first week battling jet lag, and spending time together being tourists. This also let the kids get used to this new city and way of life before sending them to meet all these new people.  The first day they were nervous, but the teachers were all so sweet and patient. My kids literally ran to camp on Day 2 they were so excited to go back. 

The camp we found for the kids is called LAE Kids. It’s run by a lovely woman, Natasha, and she helped guide us through the process.   It’s a family based camp where the emphasis is on fun, immersive Spanish and getting messy whenever possible.   The children are a mix of nationalities from all around the world. We decided on a language camp, because for being children of Cuban descent, our kids could barely string together a sentence in Spanish.  This camp appealed even more because besides learning Spanish, the kids would meet different kids from all over, and do different activities like science experiments, art, and more daily.  

Apartment

After finding the camp, we researched the best areas to stay in Madrid.   Then we took that list and tried to find a place on Air BNB that was walking distance to the camp but still in a good neighborhood.  

The camp also had a relocation department. They recommended a few apartments, but saved us with their extremely helpful advice, FIND AN APARTMENT THAT HAS AC.  I would also suggest an apartment with a washing machine.  

There were some great options (another perk to bigger city).  In a long term rental you also get better pricing, and are able to negotiate somewhat with the owner.  Our rental so far has been amazing. The location is fairly central, and walking distance to a lot of great food and to Parque Retiro which is a park similar to Central Park in New York, and covered in trees making it about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city.  

Transportation and Getting Around

A lot of walking is done in this city.  I mean having lived here for two weeks, and seeing the amount of bread that is fed to you at each meal, I get it.  Cigarettes and walking seem to be huge here. Diet of champions. 

  • Walking is a great easy way to get around the city.  For the most part you can find a great restaurant, pharmacy, supermarket, fruit stand, or really anything within walking distance.  If you want to start venturing out, there are so many options here.  
  • Taxi: There are taxi lanes on most major streets, and it has not been difficult at all to grab one when you need it.  They do accept credit cards. 
  • Uber: Uber works and is just around the same price as the taxis. 
  • Subway: we have been using the subway almost daily and the kids love it.  They are in excellent condition, and I would dare even say clean. We had one mishap where we ended up going the wrong way (for a long time), but besides that it’s been really straight-forward and easy to get around with. 

Nantucket Family Vacation

Nantucket is exactly what you see in the pictures. It’s quaint, idyllic, and serene.  There are flowers growing in every corner, each coordinated and hand picked to match the color of the front door.  Each home is made from the same wood which eventually grays, giving each it’s own shape but same nautical aesthetic.  All the homes display a clever name that tends to have something to do with the island or the island’s vibe. There are warm smiles, cool air, and wine flowing

Nantucket is one of those towns that you don’t find litter.  You know what I mean? It is Disney caliber landscaping and upkeep but without any of the crowds.   The island is magical.  It’s as if you arrive on the island, your collar suddenly pops up, you’re drinking wine all day, and saying things like “fabulous darling”.  Ok, that’s just me. Everything minus the popped collar. It just ain’t my style.

I had only heard about Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket growing up.  I would read about it in books or a headline about the Kennedys. I had never been, as Miamians don’t typically go north for the summer. When our best friends invited us to go, I didn’t see how we could pass up the opportunity.  Shout out to our best friends who are the best humans, and truly know how to vacation.

This summer was our second experience in this magical town.  Both trips were jam packed with amazing spots for both families or just some adult time. If you are on the fence about visiting, I would definitely say bucket list worthy.  It’s a little piece of history, but perfectly mixed with modern luxury. Here are a couple of suggestions from a wine guzzling, mom of 3, and self-proclaimed foodie, and keep we did most all of this with our kids:

Galley Beach:  this beach side restaurant is one of my absolute favorite places. You can grab a drink before you dinner reservation, and watch the sunset.  If you have never seen a sun set in Nantucket, this would be the place. Of all the sunsets I have ever seen, I have never quite seen the sky look so picturesque.  Shades of pink and purple fill the sky as you finish your first cocktail, and head in for dinner after all your selfies (obviously). The food here is delicious, and changes seasonally.  They currently accept reservations 28 days in advance. Check it out HERE.    

Children’s Beach: a small sandy beach off the marina with a huge playground attached.  The best part? There is also a huge grass area with picnic tables so you can sit on the grass as you watch your kids run around and not get full of sand [unless you’re one of those parents that like to play with your kids on the playground- no judgement].  There’s a little shop where you can get snacks or you can bring your own. 

Something Natural: A little house, set on a beautiful green open space, and makes the most insane sandwiches.  Think daily fresh baked bread, freshly cut meat, and the best pasta salad- hands down. You can eat there or pick it up to go (take it to Children’s Beach for a picnic).  We have tried a few of the menu sandwiches, and the specials they have daily.  All delicious.  I also dream about their pasta salad, and may take down a container solo at least 3 times each trip.  There is space for the kids to run around, and even a beautiful trail you can take over a lilypond if you’re up to walk off all the bread.

Critter Cruise:  an hour long excursion on the Monomoy where you and the kids capture different kinds of sea creatures and fish, and learn about each before releasing it back into the harbor.  The kids absolutely loved this cruise and the staff and captain were wonderful and were so patient as they taught the kids about each animal. Check it out HERE.          

Jettie’s Beach: Jettie’s is a family favorite.  It’s a casual beach bar and grill on the beach with a mustard, aqua combination out of your Nantucket dreams.  You can have a delicious lobster roll, Bloody Mary and then just spend your afternoon laying on the sand by the water.  We have also been lucky enough to spend a sunset here with a bottle of rose and that afternoon did not suck. An absolute must.

Juice Bar: homemade waffle cones are not something I take lightly.   They have so many different flavors of ice cream, plus cookies and smoothies for those who don’t like ice cream (or soul).  It is worth the line that goes around the block.

Cisco Brewery: Beer and rose on tap, food stands, and live music what else do you need? My daughter would say a Ring Toss, and guess what?! They have one.  We have spent a couple afternoons here, and each time had to drag the kids away screaming and crying to stay.  The vibe is chill and easy.  You can grab some locally sourced seafood or some quesadillas at another stand and just take in the music.  It’s an easy uber ride away.  

The White Elephant: Another Nantucket staple.  It is set on the marina with a beautiful grass area.  In season they set out corn hole and the kids can play and walk around the greenery as you eat and obviously, DRINK.  The food here is not the best on the island, but it does have a great ambiance. There is an aggressively large white elephant here by the water, and if you don’t take a picture by it- did you even go?  

Maria Mitchell Association:  It is a small quaint aquarium, filled with the animals that you found on the Critter Cruise.  It’s just a couple of small tanks, and two rooms with some fish tanks and microscopes, but it has a great staff and the kids get a real hands on experience.  Your paid entrance also brings with it access to Nantucket’s First House Tour and the other museums in town. Across the street there is a coffee place called, The Handlebar Cafe, and it has the most delicious iced coffee and a secret garden for the kids to check out.

 

Bike Ride: To be clear, I did not take a bike ride.  Exercising on vacation is not a thing I have traditionally done.  However my husband and our friend went and rented bikes at, Young’s Bicycle Shop, and took a 14 mile trip down the island.  Even caught some sea turtles on one of the beaches they went to. They used a great app called The Strava App, to help guide them through.

Walk Through Town: This place is so lovely, that you could have a lovely day just by walking through all the cobble stone streets and going in and out of all the shops.  There are no big chains, just small mom and pop stores that have been there for years or newer stores with locally sourced items. My husband picked up a Nantucket Red Sweater at Murray’s.  The kids loved Nantucket Bookworks, and there is a toy store called The Toy Boat that is charming and fun for them to wander around.  Here I am pretending I like to walk around town.

A Few More Restaurants:

The Nautilus: One of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a while.  You can only make a reservation for this one day of, and you do it by standing in line around 11 and hoping you get a seat.  Sounds like a huge pain in the ass, it is, but totally worth it.  The half chicken was so good one of us actually licked the sauce of the plate, and the wine list was also 100%.  This place becomes a little more of a scene with music and people crowding around the bar.  I would not suggest going with kids.

Cru: A gorgeous modern nautical restaurant theme restaurant on the marina.  The food here was out of this world, for both brunch and dinner.  It’s a little sophisticated but still kid friendly (at least for brunch).  The oysters were so fresh, and the fish and chips were stellar. For reservations click HERE

American Seasoning: it’s an older more classic restaurant just outside of the main square. The menu is a little more rustic than the other restaurants we ate at, but delicious.   

Slip 14: Casual spot located off the marina.  Very kid friendly.  The clam chowder was so good, I wouldn’t share it with my husband.  Also the calamari was a sneaky delicious treat. 

Greydon House: a hotel in the middle of town that has been modernized and is absolutely beautiful.  

Windowsills and Corners:  a few of my favorite corners of Nantucket

Lodging:

Both times we visited, we stayed in the home our friends rented for the week. Information available upon request.

There were the loveliest chicest hotels that you could look into if you would prefer:

The White Elephant, The Galley, The Nantucket Hotel, Greydon House, Harborview Nantucket, The Beachside on Nantucket, The Wauwinet, Cliffside Beachclub and more.

Let’s Just Say NO!

Over the weekend we celebrated my daughter, Dylan’s, 7th birthday with a big gymnastics party!   

I made the controversial decision this year to refrain from handing out goody bags to the kids.  Obviously, this did not make me very popular with the children.  I was the anti-Santa. I had so many adorable little 7 year olds coming up at me.  Each one would hug their mommy’s legs, eyes full of hope, voices timid as they said “um hi, Dylan’s mommy, thank you for the party, can I have my goody bag?”  I would gently come down to eye level with each one of their gorgeous little 7 year faces, and with a warm smile say “Nope!”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I enjoyed saying no.  I’m not a monster. Did I feel guilty about it? Sure didn’t.  Not even a tiny bit. It was a relief.  I had just nailed this party {Yes- I did!}.  I brought in Mickey and Minnie.  I even had Mal from the Descendants pop in as a special surprise.  There was pizza, popcorn chicken, cupcakes, cookies, and all the pirate’s booty you could ever want.  I drew a line in the sand- no goody bags.  

Goody bags? Why do we do this to ourselves?  Do we not have enough going on as parents?! Why are we adding this absurd “to-do” to our lists that are already endless.  We, as parents, should get a goody bags {I mean vodka} for throwing our awesome little assholes parties in the first place.  We are already coordinating and managing all their school schedules, projects, homework, and the like. Plus their after school activities including but not limited to making sure they do not overlap, driving them, carpooling, buying all the required equipment, and coaching fees.  We plan and get dinner on the table. We monitor whether their shoes fit for crying out loud. We have jobs. We have relationships. Agreeing to take on a party is a bold task in the midst of all of this.

If we so lovingly and generously throw them a party, why do we also have to give goody bags full of cheap little garbage to all the kids who attend? Who started that trend?

Am I cheap? Yes! But that is not the point here.  Let’s do the math:

  • I dedicate  $5 p/kid (which is a lot) for the goody bag.  
  • At 40 kids that’s $200 just in goody bags.  This is a lot of money.

What am I getting for $5 to put in each bag-  It’s going to be either a bundle of cheap little plastic toys in line with the theme of the day, or slime or a lego set that you will inevitably step on because it was too small for them to assemble and they got bored.

The only thing worse than paying and assembling the goody bags, is knowing that inevitably you are going to have a few left over and now what are you supposed to do with all of it? Throwing away always seems wasteful, so out of guilt and obligation you keep it.  This, Marie Kondo, is how we end up with a house full of things that spark no joy!

I not only refuse to hand out goody bags to my guests going forward BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY I request that you do not give my kids goody bags at your party.  

Am I ungrateful? I guess the argument can be made.  However you want to know the dirty truth- when you give my child a goody bag it has the lifespan of however long it remains in my child’s field of vision.  The second I can throw that away without them noticing- it’s gone. Gone! You read that correctly.

Is it because I am extremely eco-friendly? No! But since I had to give up my plastic straw in my iced coffee, I decided to have a zero tolerance policy for plastic crap in our home. 

What are goody bags? Essentially a cheap bundle of  plastic uselessness, all of which manage to spread into all the random areas of my home, and ending with the inevitable stamp to my couch.  You know what I am talking about those cheap stamps that are impossible to remove from a child’s skin without a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Don’t get me started on the stickers, mazes, straws, and candy.  I’m throwing it all away. No matter how nice you think it is. Stop being upset with me, you also want to throw out goody bags. Maybe not as quickly as I do, but you throw it all away as soon as you can.

I want us to stand together and agree we can take this off the list for future parties.  Save your money. Save the to-do. When you throw a party you’re not only entertaining my children for a significant amount of time but you are also feeding them.  They’re having a blast! That is the gift to them. It’s a win-win.  We should stand together as parents. No more goody bags. Say it with me NO MORE GOODY BAGS!  

 

Happy Easter

Have you ever wondered how the mystical Easter Bunny came to be? Why each and every Easter you find yourself scouring Target or Walgreens looking for plastic eggs and candy? As if our lives are not busy enough, we have to take these plastic eggs, break them apart, fill them with said candy, and somehow try to get them to snap back together again to hide around the yard? I asked myself these questions typically in a more vulgar way each and every Easter.   Then, one year, something happened and it led me to a rather strong theory.

I grew up Catholic.  What I mean when I say that is, I attended Catholic private school from 5 years old up until 18.  I went to church every Sunday, no questions asked. My grandfather is a Deacon at our church, and he and my grandmother attended Church every day when I was growing up.  He still does.

The Catholic Church had its rules, its beliefs, its stories and each day in class we were given an hour of religion to learn it all.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. Being an over achieving, type A, teacher’s pet- I ate this up. I learned all the Bible passages, recited all the prayers, and on holidays like Christmas and Easter I was the first one to put on the very puffy dress and run to mass.  I took everything the nuns, priests, teachers, and my grandfather said as concrete truth, and never ever questioned it. Would not have even thought to question it. It all happened. Facts.

So imagine my surprise as I was having a conversation with my oldest daughter, Blake, a couple of years back.  It was a typical weekday at this point in time they were 5, 4, and 2 ½ . Our house was in total disarray, toy bins were dumped over and no one was wearing pants.  I had just given the kids dinner and most of it was on the floor, and the rest was all over them. Naturally it was bath time. I wrestled the three of them into the bath and started to fill it with water and toys.  

Easter was coming, and the girls were so excited.  Blake especially was ready. She wanted to know all the plans for the weekend, because like a true competitor she wanted to plan her egg hunt strategy.  However the conversation took a strange turn.

“Mommy, why do we celebrate Easter.”

I had this answer down pact.  Walk in the park. I had basically been reciting this for most of my life.  I looked her right in the eyes and said, “Well baby, we are celebrating Jesus, rising from the dead.” {Nailed it.}

“What? Rising from the dead? What do you mean?” She asks so innocently.

“Yes baby.  A long time ago, no one believed Jesus was the son of God, and they killed him.  Then on the third day he rose from the dead and that is why we celebrate Easter.”

There was a long silence as she kind of just stared at me.  As an adult reciting this story, I do see how someone could have doubts about this.  But hey! That’s the story I had, so I gave it to her. I could see her brain working, and she said:

“So… Jesus is a zombie?”

BOOM!

My entire Catholic upbringing flashed before my eyes.  All the crucifixes. All the reading (and sometimes performing) of the Stations of the Cross.  Jesus is a zombie. Zombie Jesus. How did I never catch that? In all the years of hearing this story, how had I not seen it?

Then I brought myself back to my reality a tiny person staring up at me asking again.  “Mommy, is Jesus a zombie?”

I was now a parent of a child who was not in Catholic school (we can talk about this another time) and here she was barely out of Kindergarten questioning the story behind Easter.  What was I supposed to say?  Then it hit me. I looked right at my daughter and completely ignored the question and said, “Blake how excited are you for the egg hunt? Wow where are we going to look for eggs first?”

It all makes sense.  The whole egg hunt thing for Easter.  If parents put candy in plastic eggs and throw it around the backyard, the kids don’t have time to think about the story behind the holiday.  They definitely don’t have time to question it. They just take it as is and rejoice!

Jesus rose from the dead and now there are Kit Kats and Peeps everywhere.  Bravo to the parents who came before. The distraction method. Genius. Happy Easter!

 

Am I Lori Loughlin?

It’s almost impossible at this point to not be aware of the college admissions scandal going on at USC, Yale, Wake Forest and a few other universities.  When the news first broke, I was shocked. I mean the Aunt Becky I knew would never be going to jail.    “Appalled”, “Disgusting”, “Selfish”, and “Entitled” are just some of the words being thrown around at drop off, the girl’s soccer practice, the gym, and anywhere else I find myself.  I didn’t hear a single person defend her. I mean defending her is not exactly possible. I did try to see and understand her point of view. I mean she’s a parent, she’s a mom.

There is this funny phenomenon that has happened {at least to me} in parenting, in where I found myself doing and saying things I never ever thought I would say or do.  My decision making process no longer includes things for myself, but for these three tiny people that I brought into the world. To say that I lose a grip on what is “fair” or “rational” in the midst of a decision that involves my children would be putting it mildly.  In the name of doing what “I think is best” for my children, I have now found that this includes many things that I would not have imagined prior to having kids or being in that scenario.

In all of our own small ways we “Lori Loughlin” our kids’ lives.  How many of us have given extra donations to our place of worship in an attempt to guarantee a spot for our child at the school or class? How many of us have put deposits down at the “best preschools” in an attempt to reserve spots to the detriment of other people who needed to secure a school more desperately than we did?   How many of us have sent gifts in an effort to influence teachers and principals to make sure our kids got the “good” teacher or “gifted” placing? How many of us have put our noses into making sure our kids got the “best” coach or got playing time? How many of us fight and scratch at each other to get the “most sought out” standardized test teacher? Plumped our kids’ resumes?  How many of use or plan to use “legacy” to get them into a prestigious high school or college? How many of us use the side doors available to us?

Where is the line? We are privileged.  We, as a society of privileged parents, create this culture that our kid must be and have the best.  It’s this unspoken philosophy of doing what it takes for our own children, sparing no expense.  Never stopping to think that the price of these decisions are not just monetary there is a social cost, and no one, myself included, likes to think about it that way.

Is this college admissions scandal too far? Absolutely. Should she and the other 33 parents, 9 coaches, and others be punished? Without hesitation, yes. 

The system has punished other parents for doing far less to help their children advance.   Here is the story of a mother, Kelley Williams-Bolar,  who was  arrested and sentenced to jail for 10 days plus 3 years probation on the charge of falsifying her address to get her daughters into a better school district.  Kelley was also sentenced to pay $30,000 in “back tuition” {for a public school}, for the education her children received.  Can you imagine? This woman just wanted to give her children the chance to receive a better education in another district. Perhaps that is where our disgust should be redirected. We are worrying about booking the most elite standardized test teacher, while other people are just trying to get their children something that we take for granted- a great education.  

Following these thoughts, I started to wonder, if I were put in the position to do what Lori did- would I? The truth is- I cannot know.   How could I know? As of right now, my husband did not create a clothing brand found in every Target across the universe, and I was not the famous aunt on a long running syndicated TV show that just got a reboot on Netflix.  It’s impossible to say that I would not have taken the same opportunity she did if all things were the same (all things defined as access and money, both limitless). I’d like to think I wouldn’t do it. I try to think that I would not cross the line and do something I know to be illegal. I would like to think I would let the cards fall where they may and have my kids attend colleges to which they earned admission, on their own merits.  I know most parents with similar access and money do not decide to cheat. I know a lot of parents stress hard work, work ethic, and determination. We definitely do that here in our house.

However, I return to how rational any person can be when making decisions about a child and his/her future.  When a person has the opportunity to do what she thinks is best for her child, and the means to accomplish it- she takes it. Every time. In whatever facets of life that means to her.  

Perhaps this is the reality check we all needed.  To start being more mindful about how we are parenting.  More considerate of others as we make decisions.  Maybe this allows us to see more clearly the chasm-like disparity in opportunity and fairness in our society that we already knew existed.  Maybe, we can start to wonder what we can do to change it.

 

Family Photo Tradition-ish

December is arguably the busiest time of the year for our circus.  We have birthdays, our anniversary, all the holiday parties at school, and my husband caught the flu this year which really just throws your entire universe into a blender.  So in order to really complicate us, I decided to schedule a family photo session a few days before Christmas.

I don’t do family photo sessions as often as I should.  I aim to do it once a year, but realistically it’s been about every other year.  I do it for a few reasons.  First, it’s my favorite way to document how much our kids have grown and changed from one session to the next.  Second, it’s probably the only time I am going to be in a picture with my kids with my hair clean and with makeup.  Finally,  I secretly like to torture the kids and my husband for an hour by having to be dressed like humans who like to smile at a camera.

I was excited this year to work with Christian Arevalo and his amazing wife, Genesis.  I remember seeing a family session they did for a friend of mine on Instagram, and just being blown away.  You just immediately pick up on his vibe. There is so much warmth and beauty in every one of his photos.  If you have not had a chance to check out his work, I would scroll down below or check out his site, HERE

We spoke a couple of weeks before and decided to do the session in our home to help make the kids more at ease.  We both agreed that in-home sessions always bring more heart to the photos.  From the moment they stepped into the house, the kids were taken to them and he just started snapping. 

He gave us some direction to sit on the couch as a family… Then he let the kids be, themselves…

He captured some pretty sweet moments….

And some pretty funny moments…

 

But most importantly it was just us.  He just captured us, and I’m so very grateful. 

Bustamante Circus 2018