Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Where did my Baby go?

We often find ourselves saying "time flies".

We often say as parents "my baby is all grown up now".

But exactly when that moment will be, when it truly hits you and stops you in your tracks you never know and you have no idea what your emotions will be.

That was the case a few days ago for me.

As my blog friends know I have a 19 year old daughter. She hasn't been a baby for quite sometime now but regardless of "time" she will always be my baby.
Next week she will start her 2nd year in college, what?!!!

The other night we were talking as usual, a friend of mine was also over and we were all in deep conversation. I can't say for certain what word she said or what the topic even was but I just stopped and looked at her and my eyes began to water.
I said "Wow, you really are all grown up. I can't believe it. I really no longer have a baby." "I knew the time was coming and I have been noticing it for a while but it just really hit me and I am feeling really emotional right now."
She says "Yeah mami, I am going to be 20 years old soon but don't worry I am not going anywhere any time soon I will be around for a little while longer." Then we hug and I bite her cheeks, something I have done since she was born.

I turn and look at my friend and comment about how strange it is to see another "adult" next to you and realize it is your child. My friend said yeah it really is, I had the same emotions a few days ago when my son was visiting with me.

My "baby" as I knew her is officially gone and as I said its been coming for a while now but one thing that isn't gone is the bond that we have built.
The mutual respect, support and friendship we have cultivated and all the seeds that are still growing from all those talks in the car when I dropped her off at school, all the bedtime stories, all the bath time chats, all the "special topics" at the dinner table.
My job for the most part is done. Now I get to sit back and see my years of talks, rules, negotiations, smiles, tears, laughter, parent teacher meets, play date drop offs, birthday party plannings, Disney trips, proms and graduations (at least 1 more coming though) all come together in this 1 beautiful, strong, intelligent, kind, giving, brilliant, independent young women I call my daughter, Erica.

That watery eye moment was bittersweet, I got teary because I love my child as most parents do. I got emotional because at that moment I was so grateful to have for the most part been in the moment of just about every moment in my child's life.
I didn't allow work, career, bills, drama, stress or any other "life" events get in the way of my "time" with my Lil mama.
Nothing is more valuable than what you invest in your children. No amount of money buys the memories they carry with them throughout their own adult life.
I already see and reap the rewards of my investment. I already enjoy the riches of these past 19 years.


I can never stress and will never stop stressing enough just the priceless value of communication above all else with our children. Communication done properly will open all the doors to endless possibilities in your parenting journey. What is proper communication? Listening with open mind, remembering you were young once too, setting reasonable rules and goals, respecting your child as an individual. We don't own them, we guide them into becoming who they are meant to be.

The picture share are a taste of the sort of notes I have received over the years. One being a snap shot of a recent text message exchange Lil mama and I had.

Always stress free xo

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back to School Conversations

Another school year is upon us.

Some of us will be letting go of our babies for the very first time, some of us will be advancing to another grade in our journeys and some of us will be crossing major milestones.
Whichever step it is we are in, they are life changers for all involved, they are character builders and a time for our parenting skills to be tested.

As I sit and talk with my own daughter and as I interact with the other babies in my life I started to think about what sort of conversations should we as parents be having in general but especially around this time of year.
I say I have many babies because not only do I have one biological daughter but many of her own friends and my own friends kids treat and see me as a second mommy.

My tool for building this trust as I always share is communication. I am a talker and I do know how to listen as if I was at their level. I still haven't forgotten I was younger once too.

So...what should we be saying this lovely start of a new school year?

These are the conversation topics I came up with:

~Mommy and Daddy are very proud of you. You are growing up and we are excited to support you in this new adventure. We will always be here for you and you are enough just the way you are.
~Not everyone will be your friend but that is ok because you should always surround yourself with people who will be nice, kind and helpful.
~Mommy (or Daddy) won't forget to pick you up, I will be right outside that door when the bell rings.
~Never be afraid to stand up for what is right, if you are uncomfortable about something speak up. Even teachers should be questioned. We are here to protect you and stand up for you always.
~No one has the right to touch you...EVER.
~Being part of the "crowd" is not your goal. Your goal is to be a leader in your own right. You are worthy of that respect.
~Being a leader does not mean be a bully. It means to learn to work with others while being true to yourself.
~Please and Thank You can go a long way.
~It's ok to cry if you get hurt or are upset about something in school. But it is very important to learn to explain and express yourself with words. Mommy and or your teacher can't understand you if you are screaming.
~Remember to ask to go to the Potty. You wouldn't want to have an accident in school but if you do we will get through it. Have change of clothes in the little ones bag...Always.
~Remember that you are a reflection of me, of us and our home so I expect you to behave accordingly.
~Don't be afraid to try new things. A new sport, a new club, talk to a new student etc...Test yourself and see what you are made of.
~This is what I expect from you this school clear on your expectations and be fair. Set the rules and watch them put things into play. If they fail punish accordingly but with love and always open communication.
~A new school can be scary yes and making new friends can be too but this is a great time for you to expand your wings and add new people to your circle.
~Be clear on your definitions of Boyfriend and Girlfriend. Trust it is not the same as our kids.
~Tweak your curfew times with age as well as chores and your conversation topics should be expanding as well.
~I am here to support you I am not here to do things for you. Stay on top of your homework and other social activities.
~If you can't find balance between school and social then your social will have to be put on hold.
~Cellphones, cars, sleepovers and so forth are privileges. They can and will be taken away if rules are not followed.
~Let's be clear on our rules. They will not be changed on the spot. So if I said no makeup until your 16 I mean and meant it. Don't ask me again.
~High School and College prep are your responsibilities, plan out what it will require and you will be assisted accordingly. Set a budget for school tours, exam fees etc...
~I am your parent. I don't care what so and so parents do in their home. Don't ever compare us or disrespect us.

I can go on and on but these can surely start you talking. Lastly but not at all less important or valid is...
~Have fun!!! Don't sweat the small stuff you are only this young once. Have an awesome school year!!!

What are some of your school year conversation topics? Do you have any specific ones or do you wing it as things come along?

Always stress free xo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grilled Chicken Salad

Thursday's treat!!!

Why do I feel like this summer is just going by so quickly? I am not ready for Fall yet!!!

I am sick of hearing about Back to School blah blah blah...
I am even more upset about these Christmas in July posts, sorry ladies love your stuff but no. I don't want to get ready for Christmas in July.
Now August rolled in and surprised the heck out of me so I guess I have to get my butt in gear and go out and enjoy whatever is left of this Summer in NYC.

One way to do that is to continue to cut my time in the kitchen.

So here is another quick meal so I could go out and enjoy a few hours in the park.

-2 large chicken breasts
-1 large carrot
-Monterey Jack cheese
-mixed green salad

Since I didn't use my George Foreman grill, too lazy to clean the plates I used the flat pan I use to make my pancakes.
Sprayed with Pam grilling spray and set on medium heat.
Cut my chicken breast down the middle thin slice, pounded down some and seasoned.
I washed prior for a few minutes in cold water and lemon juice.
Anyway, so I seasoned it with some lemon pepper and Sazon Accent for coloring.
I Let it marinate for a few minutes while pan got hot.

I placed chicken breasts on pan about 10 to 15 minutes making sure juices ran clear, turned to the other side until juices did the same (time varies depending on where you are grilling).
Removed pan from flame, set aside.
Shredded the carrot, cut 3 medium slices horizontal on cheese bar then cut again into smaller cubes and set aside, got the plates set handful of the greens.

Sprinkled the cheese, cut the chicken into slices, placed on top of the cheese, added the shredded carrot and done.
I drizzled a little balsamic vinaigrette for extra kick but you can use any or no dressing if you wish.
After all we are trying to eat well, reduce kitchen time and have some fun!

Enjoy, always stress free xo

*Note: I got to enjoy my walk in the park for a few hours and help my digestion lol!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meditation for Dummies

My choice of words for this title is more about grabbing your attention than it is about disrespect or name calling.

Sometimes we are so busy moving, planning and doing that it takes something sort of shocking to just stop us in our tracks. For many of us its a word or something we hear.

I want to share some of my Meditation journey with you.

I have been aware of Meditation since H.S. when a classmate of mine and now a longtime friend bought it to my attention and shared her and her families journey using this practice.
I found it interesting but being 13 or 14 years old I was not into clarity or calmness or being in the moment.
I was more into go go go and my way is the right way.

About 3 years ago a had a life changing experience that basically forced me to stop and slow down.
I had a major change in a relationship that at the time I thought was building on a strong foundation when in fact it was building on very rocky ground.

Sometimes things are right in front of us and we just refuse to see them.
Anyway so as I was saying, I was bought to a halt a place I had never been at before.
After about a month and a half of asking myself all the why's I could possibly ask myself I decided to stop questioning and start doing.

I began to work on myself and really get to know who Mari was. Who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life moving forward.

One of the things I turned to without hesitation (finally) was Meditation. I went on Google and researched tons of stuff.
Centers, Music, the History, its Purpose etc...

I found out that many community centers, especially in NYC through a program called Shape Up NYC offer many free classes through our Parks and Recreation programs one of them being Yoga which includes Meditation.
I immediately found one and joined.

I then set out to make a space in my home where I can practice and be committed to my new journey.
This is what I came up with...

One of the most eye opening moments for me was during one of my Yoga classes when at the end my instructor said "let's prepare for Corpse Pose".
I was like "what?". I looked around to see if anyone else was as shocked as I was apparently not.
She instructed us to lay down, our hands to our sides, palms up, eyes closed.
She said some other things but only thing I heard was death and rebirth.
That was a moment I will never forget and that is one of my favorite parts of my practice. I am including links with info if you wish to explore further.

Asian and International rituals Coffin ceremonies for the living

Meditation is many things to different people.
It is indeed a practice not something casual. It is a way of life.
I started my practice with barely making it through 5 minutes of stillness, I am now up to 30 minutes.

My practice brings me a joy and peace like no other.
It is mine and I don't have to share that space with anyone or anything.
It centers me and brings me clarity. It allows me to be accountable for my actions and to be present in what I do and who I choose to interact with in my daily life.

Meditation has even bought my daughter and I closer as if that was even possible :). We discuss it, we practice it together at times and we respect and appreciate what it has done for the vibe in our home.

As a parent I suggest it as an alternative to Time Outs.
Sitting in a chair or bench because you behaved poorly doesn't teach a lesson.
If we instead sit still with our kids and ask them for a few minutes of reflection, eyes closed, hands on their laps maybe at the end of those few minutes they will come out of it calmly and with better attitude to be more cooperative.
Sure little ones lack focus for long periods of time, but even 1 or 2 minutes of sitting close to mommy and or daddy with eyes closed can teach a lesson.

What other alternatives have you found in place of Time Outs?

Always  stress free xo