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Parenting

Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years.  It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.

Mother's Day. march of dimes, anthem foundation, premature births, fertility, regret, postponing motherhood, baby, birth, pregnancy, labor, delivery,new mom, what labor feels like

Normally, for Mother’s Day, all I want is a day of peace and rest. The kids leave me alone (except for hugs and kisses in the morning) and the Big Guy assumes 100% of all the parenting and household duties. This has been my dream Mother’s Day for many years and I’ve been living the dream.

 

I’ll gladly accept homemade cards, baubles and gift cards for massages. I love all of those things. But mostly I love sleeping in, no bickering, not having to do dishes or cook or think. I love binging R-rated movies and blasting the music that I want to listen to as loud as I want. Now if a cleaning fairy would just show up and dust and fold all the clothes (and put them away).

 

However, this year is different. Monday I was told I’m sick. Really sick. Life-threateningly sick. So this year, while I would love to sleep in and have no bickering or do any menial household chores, I mostly want to enjoy my family because that I’ll always be here is not a given. That I can send them into another room while I binge Netflix alone isn’t what I want. This year, I feel like I can’t take anything for granted.

 

Maybe I won’t be secluding myself this year, as I’ve done for many other Mother’s Days. I won’t be over planning or trying to fit someone else’s expectation of what Mother’s Day is supposed to look like either. I don’t want roses or brunch at the Waldorf, I just want to relax and not have to be anywhere or do anything. I want to live a day at my leisure with no responsibility and yes, this year, I want it to be with my family.

 

I want snuggles and cuddles and kisses and hugs. I want talking and laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I want memories and nostalgia and never letting go. I want to be a Mother because not everyone gets to.

 

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate motherhood. For each of us, it is different. For all of us, it’s personal. Each mother is beautiful and special in her own way and each family celebrates differently. The important thing is that we take the time and savor the moment, reflecting on the honor it is that we are blessed to have children and they are blessed to have us because without one another, what would we be?

 

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating in a way that is us. Saturday, we’re taking a short road trip to see Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo and I’m super excited because it’s in the middle of the day so I don’t have to worry about early mornings or late nights.

 

Sunday, I’ll sleep in until I wake up then head to mass because this mama can use all the God she can get these days. Then, home for a healthy brunch cooked by the Big Guy. It will be a designated bickering-free zone for the day, so the lovely tween and teen will have to abstain from killing one another. Followed by watching movies, a nap, a family walk, and a delicious, yet healthy, dinner. Then, Game of Thrones and a back rub. Maybe I’ll even throw a long bath in there somewhere. I haven’t had a soak in years. Sounds like perfection to me. I know, I’m pretty specific but this is what my dreams are made of these days.

 

Anyways, that’s my dream Mother’s Day 2019. Normally, it’s to be alone so if that is your perfect Mother’s Day, I am not mad at you. We are the same people. This year, I have a different perspective and every moment with my girls counts so this is where we are…spending the day in peace and love with my family. Here’s hoping it all plays out.

 

What’s your dream Mother’s Day? If you could do anything in the world on Mother’s Day what would it be?

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Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

If you want to take your children or teens someplace that will leave them speechless, visit Banff, Alberta. If you’re a parent, you already know how rare that can be. Children and teenagers are always in a hurry to get to the next place, the next thing and are easily bored and not afraid to tell you. If you prefer not to be serenaded by choruses of, “Are we there yet?” and “I’m bored” then Banff is for you.

I’m a talker who is easily bored and when I found myself standing at the mouth of Lake Louise, I had no words. I’m a city girl.  Grew up in Chicago. Love the city. I feed off of the hustle and bustle of people in a hurry. Kinetic energy gives me life. Standing in the stillness surrounded by all of that natural beauty, embracing the quiet is an inexplicable kind of breathtaking.

READ ALSO: Things to Do In Portland Maine with Kids and Teens

In my opinion, Banff is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth. The moment that I set eyes on Moraine Lake, I knew that I needed to share this place with my girls and the Big Guy. It’s a gift I want to give them.

There are certain things in life that have to be seen with your own eyes, felt with your heart and experienced to be believed. Banff is one of those places. You have to stand there and soak it in to believe this kind of beauty exists. I don’t want to oversell it, but then again I don’t think that is possible.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Boston with Your Tweens and Teenagers

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, Canada, Banff has mountains, rivers, valleys and glaciers. If your family loves exploring new places and going on adventures while being 100 %present, this is the perfect family vacation for the teenager or child who can’t sit still.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers

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Moraine Lake

This might be my favorite spot in all of Banff. I may or may not have requested upon returning that my ashes be scattered there one day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of all of that beautiful? Moraine Lake’s blue waters are surrounded by towering mountains, including 11,500-foot Mount Temple, the third highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Located a 15-minute drive from the quieter more serene Lake Louise, popular Moraine Lake, can be crowded in summer. My suggestion, arrive early to enjoy canoeing and hiking before the crowds arrive.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

Lake Louise

Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, is absolutely stunning. The emerald green lake is spectacular and the region has a range of hikes from easy lakeside strolls to more difficult ascents. The town of Banff is located 35 miles from the lake, so you will not be immersed in the crowds. The Lake Louise region has a sightseeing gondola and horseback riding.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park, provides classic Canadian Rockies scenery. As the park’s only lake to allow motorized boating, Minnewanka is popular and crowded. Make reservations and arrive early to take a 1, 2, or 3-hour cruise around the lake. Lake Minnewanka is located a 20-minute drive from the town of Banff.

Banff Hot Springs

After a day of adventure seeking with your teens, what’s more relaxing than winding down in the Hot Springs? A natural hot spring provides an invigorating mixture of minerals to soothe your family’s sore muscles after a day of hiking, skiing or mountain biking. The Hot Springs are open seven days a week and well into the evening.

Banff Hiking

With more than 1,000 miles of trail, Banff National Parks offers path options for every level hiker. For an easy hike, try the Tunnel Mountain trail. Accessible from the town of Banff, the 1.4-mile trail leads to the mountain’s summit, with great views of the Bow Valley. Both Emerald Lake and Lake Louise offer additional easy family hikes with little elevation gain but with gorgeous scenery. In July and August wildflowers lace the Garden Path Trail, at Sunshine Village ski area.

Several outfitters offer guided hikes within the park, including the Mountain Heritage Guide Program at the Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice Climbing Banff’s Frozen Waterfalls

If your teen really wants to explore Banff like an adventurer, using an ice ax to climb a frozen waterfall is about the most exciting way to do that. Get yourself a guide for this excursion this winter and impress your teens with your adventurous spirit. You’d be hard pressed to find a cooler way to explore Banff’s creeks and canyon.

Climb Banff’s Majestic Walls

Banff has more than just fresh powder and raging rivers to offer. Being in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff has numerous cliffs and crags to rock climb. Hire a guide to bring you along on a multi-pitch trek in Bow Valley or the Ghost River area. Whether you are looking for traditional top roping or pushing your limits with sport climbing, your teens will be safe as you explore. Banff boasts some of the best limestone formations that give you the most accessible and remote areas of Alberta to enjoy.

Ski the “Big Three”

Skiing is a year-round possibility in Banff. I was there in August and it snowed. The big three resorts to go to are Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. These three mountains, give you access to 8,000+ acres, 26 chair lifts, and 30+ feet of annual snow fall. There is something for everyone, whether your teens are first timer skiers/ snowboarders or black diamond ready or simply want to take in the majestic mountains, Banff is an excellent choice.

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Banff Trail Rides

Biking Banff will give you the ultimate Canadian choose-your-own adventure with all the scenic views and the opportunity to stop at will and take it all in. The best time for cycling through Banff is May through October for milder temperatures.

Banff Horseback Riding

Trail rides are a fun way to take in the scenery for those who prefer horses to hikes. Horses carry riders 2,000 feet up the mountain to the 7,000-foot-high tea house. After a break, you mount up and head back down. More experienced riders can sign on for longer expeditions that takes you through the forest, up mountain trails, to the banks of a waterfall and then high above the tree line for a panoramic view.

Banff Gondola

An eight-minute, enclosed gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain gifts you with panoramic views. At the summit, stroll the Banff Skywalk or try the more difficult South East Ridge Trail hike depending on your family’s skill level.

Snowshoe through the Rocky Mountains

If you want to take your teens on the ultimate backcountry adventure, snowshoeing might be for you. Depending on how outdoorsy you and your teens are and your skill levels, you can choose a half-day to multiple day excursions. These adventures could include climbing the Continental divide, snowshoeing across frozen lakes or seeing Banff from a mountain peak. Possibilities for thrills is endless.

Rafting the Chinook River

Rafting is something that I’ve always wanted to do and that I think my teens would really enjoy. Banff offers several different rafting routes to choose from. Two of the most thrilling river rides are Horseshoe Canyon and Kicking Horse River. These rides will leave you exhilarated and soaked after a day on the rapids. On Horseshoe Canyon, you even have the option of cliff jumping if the rapids are not too fierce. Some excursions offer a BBQ lunch and professional photos of your family in the rapids!

Canoe or Kayak the Bow River

The Bow River is almost magical, born from snowmelt from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies. It winds through Banff flowing south. You can rent a boat and go exploring alone or hire a local guide.

Columbia Icefields

On this adventure, you and your teens will board giant buses with tires the size of adults that can handle moving through the ice on the Athabasca Glacier. You are left atop a glacier where you can stand on ice created by snow that fell 400 years ago. Holy wow! Your children of all ages will love this. Imagine a snowball fight made of centuries-old snowflakes. The Columbia Icefields cover nearly 200 square miles, the Athabasca Glacier is one of the most easily accessible. Tours take place mid-April to mid-October. Reservations are recommended.

Icefields Parkway

This is where you can really get some quiet time, save for some gasps of OMG! Stretching for about 143 miles between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper, the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) delivers breathtaking scenery. You’ll pass forests, river valleys, mountains with peaks reaching 10,000 feet and Peyto Lake, the bluest in the Canadian Rockies. This bluer than blue color is a result of fine particles of ground rock scattering the sun’s rays. Bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats and ravens can often be seen along this drive.

Sunshine Meadows Gondola

Kids, teenagers and adults will love this scenic summer gondola ride up the Rocky Mountains in Canada’s oldest national park, Banff. Begin your adventure by hopping inside an eight-person gondola at the base of Sunshine Village and enjoy a 20-minute scenic mountain ride. At the top, you will arrive at Sunshine Village.

A short walk from the gondola, visitors can hop on a four-person chairlift to reach the top of the mountain. This brings you to the magnificent viewpoint at the top of the mountain. There is a short, gravel walking trail to reach an elevated viewpoint. As you walk along the trail, you will enter the Canadian Provence of British Columbia and then cross back over into Alberta. The kids will think that’s cool.

Take your time and enjoy the breathtaking mountain and lake views from the summit and take tons of photos. Though I literally took thousands and it still wasn’t enough. Photos cannot accurately capture the magic that is Banff. These views have to be seen to be believed. Several hiking trails begin at the top of the mountain and head back to the village or you can take the chairlift and gondola back down the mountain. It’s up to you.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with tweens and teenagers in Banff. The possibilities are endless. The adventure begins with you and the feeling of experiencing it all together as a family will last a lifetime.

What’s your favorite place to travel as a family and why?

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The Truth about Parenting Teenagers from a Teen Mom, teen mom, parenting teenagers, parenting teenage girls, raising teens

Ok folks, this is not a drill. We are in full teen mom mode. We’re over here parenting teenage girls. Well, a champion eye roller tween with cramps and a newly minted 14-year-old so the end is nigh and all of that, I suppose. At least that is what the world would have you believe about parenting teenagers but it’s a lie.

Obviously, no teen parenting experience is the same just like no birth or the first day of kindergarten is the same. I feel like maybe I should knock on some wood before I type this post. You know how fate likes to make fools of us all. But, dare I say, I kind of love parenting my tween and teenage girls possibly even more than when they were toddlers.

I’m in that point of parenting where I have to be the adult. Yep, either I act like an adult or this train derails. Now, I’m not saying that means that I need to go hard and fast on the discipline. Doing that would only make that train jump the tracks. Believe me, I’m talking from experience. No, I’m playing the long game, as I have since they were toddlers, and I’m following my gut. That’s the real trick to winning the parenting teens game. No matter how hard they push you away, if your gut tells you something, listen. Your mama and papa instincts are smarter than you are.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls Pt. 1

Sometimes, it’s hard looking at an overgrown child with their own thoughts and beliefs and not giving them what they want. Teens like their space. They value friendships above all else. I know this from being a teen myself. Now, that I am a teen mom, I am trying to keep all of this in mind. I listen, even when I find it mundane or infuriatingly contradictory because we need to hear what our teenage girls and boys are saying to us. They really aren’t much different from their toddler selves in terms of what they need from us. They need love, compassion, guidance and understanding not a punishing dictator, even if we do know better. Like my mother always told me, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Keep in mind that your teenage son or teen daughter is still that beautiful little human being that they laid on your chest and you brought home from the hospital. That tiny, helpless human being that you loved more than life itself is still right there inside of the angry kid, bickering with her sister and talking back to you. Remember when your teen was a baby and he cried out in frustration because he couldn’t communicate his needs to you and you had to use your mom superpowers and figure it out? It’s the exact same thing. They need you, the world is new and scary again, and they don’t know how to tell you or ask you for what they need.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls Pt. 2

The thing is society has played a cruel joke on all of us. They’ve falsely made us all believe that once our kids are a certain age/size that they are capable of doing almost everything. We expect them to behave accordingly. This, in turn, makes our children believe that when they are a certain age/size they are expected to know everything. Secret: They don’t know and how can they? We’re not done raising them. They still need all of our unconditional love, understanding, patience, guidance and compassion; probably now more than ever.

I liken it to when my girls were little. They were always off the charts, size wise, so people always expected them to be further ahead in their developmental skills. I distinctly remember one occasion when Bella was just over one (she was easily the size of a 3 or 4-year-old) and we were in the grocery store and Bella was talking baby talk to me and an older woman came up to us and very condemningly said, “Shouldn’t she be “using her words”?” I nearly swallowed my tongue but managed not to hit the woman and squeak out, “She is using her words. She’s one.” I knew from that moment on that I would spend my parenting tenure being my child’s advocate and to do that, I needed to communicate with my children openly and honestly to really know what they needed from me.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls Pt. 3

I’ll be honest, parenting a teenager is not that different from parenting a toddler. The key is paying attention (even when they make it difficult), giving them grace and space when they need it (not always when they want it) and as angry as they can make you, remember growing up is hard on them too. They are afraid and feeling like they’ve lost their place in the world. Everything they knew up to this point is changing, including their own bodies and minds. Give them wings to fly but be there to catch them when they start to crash and burn. Most importantly, keep talking to them, keep listening and look past the angst and anger façade…your baby is still in there.

Tips for Parenting Teenage Girls from a Teen Mom

Unconditional Love

Always, every day, no matter what love them like you loved that baby they laid on your chest. They are still in there hiding behind the eye rolls, smart mouth and pimples. No matter how big they get, they still need positive affirmations and love. Give hugs and keep telling them you love them. Maybe just not in public as much as when they were in kindergarten.

Communication

Talk to them. Not just when you think they did something stupid but all day every day. More importantly, listen. When they talk, they are trying to tell you something even if they don’t have the words. Read between the lines. Fight for them like you did before they were taller than you. Let them say whatever they need to say to you, try to keep your cool and see through their own insecurities and fear. Be there.

Patience

Count to ten before you scream at them. I know that you are tired of them looking at you like you are the dumbest person on earth. I know it breaks your heart when they look at you like you are a stranger on the street. Don’t allow them to be disrespectful or cruel but remember sometimes they are having a bad day. Maybe someone at school was being cruel or unkind, give them the benefit of the doubt. Try not to tell them you hate them ( even if in that moment maybe you do). Remember hate the sin not the sinner? Be patient, the child you couldn’t get enough of is inside that teenage girl smacking her lips and thinking she knows everything and soon enough, you’ll be needed as her soft place to land.

Understanding

This one is hard because teenagers can be frustrating and infuriating and sometimes you just don’t want to rise above it. Sometimes you want to get down in the dirt with them and make them cry to give them a taste of their own medicine. Don’t do that.  That’s what bathrooms are for, go cry in private. Don’t fall apart. You need to be the adult.

When your teen girl tells you something that you don’t want to hear (she’s thinking about having sex or she drank at a party) you need to remember you were her not so long ago. Then ask yourself, what will yield a better outcome 1) screaming at her with full disappointment and having her never tell you anything again or 2) listening, recognizing that she is becoming a young adult and these are young adult issues and calmly offering advice and guidance? I think you know the right answer. It’s hard. No one wants to have these conversations with their “child” but this is how they learn to do the right thing and be kind humans, from our sacrifice of weighing in on these topics when we’d really prefer to just lock them in their rooms and keep them safe until they go to college.

Listening

Use your voice of reason, stop talking and listen to the words coming out of their faces. Will it always be what you want to hear? NO! Do you need to hear it? Hell YES! As parents, just because we don’t hear something doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s like not going to the doctor when you have cancer because you’re afraid of the diagnosis. Knowing the diagnosis is not what’s going to kill you, ignoring the symptoms and not getting treated is. Have the hard conversations and listen to everything they say because they are trying to tell you something you need to hear and maybe it could save their life.

Forgiveness

This is a big one. Wow! Teenagers can be cruel and have a biting tongue. They have a knack for going for the weak spots. It must be a defense mechanism against bullying that kicks in with the hormones at puberty. While most won’t dare use it against their peers, they will easily use it on the people who will always love them, their parents. Keep in mind, the teen years are only 7 years of their entire lifetime, don’t punish them or hold grudges against them for what they say or do as teens. Discipline as needed but also remember to dole out positive enforcement and random acts of kindness towards your teenage children, they need it more than anyone else. Let it go. Forgiveness is for both of you. Forgive yourself too for feeling like you’re failing. We all do in these years.

Guidance

Always be there to gently guide your teenagers in the right direction. Firstly, demonstrate good behavior by example. Just like toddlers, they tend to do what they see not what they are told. Next, you can’t force a strong-willed teen to do anything. You can but nobody wins. But you can gently nudge them in the right direction by limiting the choices available. They still need to feel like they have free will.

Make life more of a would you rather situation instead of a what would you do situation because the world is still too big for all of that responsibility. Also, be available to give feedback when asked. If they are talking to you, they might want you to give them your input. This allows them to make their own informed decisions rather than listening to just their peers. But this only works if you respect and value your child’s thoughts and opinions. We are teaching them to make good choices. You can’t just tell them. They have to learn to use logical thinking and decide for themselves.

Compassion

This is so important. Remember you were where they’re at, not so long ago. You didn’t always know everything. I still don’t. When your child messes up, listen to them and be there. Hold them. Help them get through it. Don’t chide and chastise them. Just love them and let them know that everyone makes mistakes and, unless someone’s dead, we’ll all get through it.

It sounds like a lot of rules but in the end, all you really need to do is follow your gut. Your mom intuition tells you when things aren’t right, even when your mind and heart don’t want to believe it. I’ll be here if you want to commiserate and compare notes. We’ll all survive.

 

 

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Our oldest daughter, Bella, just turned 14-years-old which means next year is her quinceañera. That means this 1/2 first-generation Latina is planning my first ever quinceañera for my 1/4 Latina. I never got to celebrate my quinces and I regret that. The planning process is exciting and overwhelming but I love that my daughter and I get to do this together with a little help from our village. It’s bringing us closer in ways I hadn’t considered.

What is a quinceañera, you ask?

It is not the same as a sweet sixteen in American culture. Is it the same as a Bat Mitzvah? Closer, there is definitely a religious aspect to it. Because I didn’t get to celebrate the quinceañera tradition myself, I’ve always secretly hoped my girls would want one.

Most cultures celebrate a young girl coming of age, in the United States that’s usually done by throwing a big sweet sixteen party. For Latinas, ideally, we celebrate our becoming a woman when a girl turns 15-years-old, the age of maturity in the Catholic church. (Similar to a Jewish girl who celebrates her Bat Mitzvah at 12-years and one-day-old; the age of religious maturity in the Jewish religion). As Latinas, we celebrate this birthday with a mass followed by a huge celebration with family and friends. It’s a time-honored tradition and a big part of our culture.

READ ALSO: The Day My Teenager told me How She Really Felt

I didn’t have a quince because, quite frankly, my parents couldn’t afford it. It’s expensive for a birthday party. I always wanted one and I promised myself that if my girl wanted one, I’d find a way to make it happen. That’s what I’m doing. It’s a bit overwhelming since I’ve never planned one before. My mom is not Latina and I don’t live near any of my Latina friends or family so everything is a work in progress but 100% worth it to see the excitement in my daughter’s eyes.

It’s hard to explain the entire idea of a quinceañera to people who didn’t grow up around the culture. Basically, it’s celebrated like a wedding, often referred to as a mini boda, minus the groom and the honeymoon. If you’re not raised in the culture, from the outside looking it, it looks a lot like an extravagant party for a fifteenth birthday but it symbolizes so much more than that. It’s the celebration of a girl becoming a woman and I think that should be celebrated like this for every little girl.

What is a Quinceañera?

For Latina girls, the 15th birthday marks the most lavish celebration of their lives. Symbolizing a girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood, the quinceañera is a two-part celebration consisting of a religious celebration and a reception that traces back to both indigenous and European cultural traditions. Parents often spend more on their daughter’s quinceañera than their actual wedding. In fact, quinceañeras are often referred to as mini bodas, or miniature weddings. A low-key quinceañera in the United States can easily cost upwards of $3,000. The key is to set a budget and stick to it.

When you see the quince girl (nickname for the quinceañera honoree) on her special day, the high price tag makes sense. A prom-like gown (quinceañera dress) like the ones found at PromGirl.com is the central quinceañera tradition. They’re often made of satin with lace overlays and rhinestone accents, not unlike a wedding dress. Think Cinderella dressed for the fairytale ball. Traditionally white or pale pink floor-length gowns were worn, but in modern times dresses in all colors of the rainbow are acceptable. The quince girl wears a delicate tiara or crown (corona) and during the mass, she carries a Bible or book of prayer.

READ ALSO: Things to do in Chicago with Teens

The Quinceañera celebration traditionally begins with the religious ceremony. We’ve already booked our mass and priest for next year. Before anything else happens, the quince girl attends a special Mass in which she reaffirms her dedication to God and receives a blessing from the priest. The Quinceañera will also leave a bouquet of flowers at the altar of the Virgin Mary to symbolize her purity. As a symbol of her transition from childhood to becoming a woman, a quince girl gives away a porcelain doll (ultima muñeca) to a younger sister.

How to begin planning your quinceanera

A reception is held following the mass at home or a banquet hall. We reserved our hall in December, well over a year in advance. The celebration includes food, music, the quinceañera dress and most often, a choreographed waltz and baile sorpresa (surprise dance) performed by the Quinceañera and her Court de honor (honor court).

What is a quinceañera honor court?

Quinceañera custom calls for 14 damas, or maiden attendants, to accompany the quince girl and symbolize the past 14 years of her life. And a group of young ladies needs a corresponding group of escorts, which means the quince girl must also select 15 chambelans, or male attendants. Less formal quinceañera celebrations typically use 7 or 4 damas and chambelans.

At the reception is where the quince girl is officially presented to guests. She can pick a quinceañera theme of her choice. I’ve seen everything from Disney princesses to Great Gatsby. Similar to cotillion and debutante traditions, quinceañeras serve as a young Latina’s official entrance into society and womanhood and incorporate a host of unique elements and rituals that celebrate a young woman’s coming of age as well as her Latino heritage.

One of the final rituals of a quinceañera, and most sentimental, is the changing of the quince girl’s shoes. After the party is in full swing, the quince girl’s father will remove the flat-soled slippers his daughter wore to the party and replace them with a pair of heels. This symbolizes that the 15-year-old girl who arrived at the quinceañera will leave a young woman. This pays cultural homage to coming out ceremonies orchestrated by Aztec high priests in the early 1500s.

READ ALSO:  What Does Be “More Latina” mean?

Aztec Indians considered young girls marriage-ready at the age of 15. As a result, ceremonial rites of passage including parental speeches begging their daughters to become wise, upstanding women. When the Spanish invaded modern-day Mexico and overthrew the Aztecs in the 1520s, they brought their European influence to the indigenous people. The upper-class debutante aspects of quinceañera emerged as a result.

Today, there were certain privileges associated with the quinceañera. Being that it is a celebration of her transition into womanhood, the quinceañera might be allowed to attend adult parties, pluck her eyebrows and shave her legs, wear makeup, jewelry and high heels and maybe even start dating. Whoah! We will have to wait and see about this “dating” business. I mean, she’s still my baby.

Quinceañera Traditions

From surrendering the last doll (ultima muñeca) during the Catholic mass to the shoe ceremony before the final father-daughter dance afterward, the quinceañera is full of symbolic gestures and gifts. Unlike the ordinary birthday parties that the quince girl might’ve enjoyed for the first 14 years of her life, her quinceañera party officially marks her coming of age and therefore, requires appropriate gifts and apparel to carry her through that transition.

The quinceañera itself is the present for the birthday girl from her parents. Sometimes, parents may give their daughter a regálo sorpresa, or surprise gift. However, the emphasis of traditional quinceañera presents, including the prayer book, rosary and Bible needed for Mass, is on what the quince girl will wear and carry to her ceremony. These gifts may be given by a combination of grandparents (known as padrinos), other relatives and friends, and each of them carries a special meaning:

Traditional  Quinceañera Gifts

  • Quinceañera dresses represent femininity.

  • Quinceañera rings represent a girl’s bond to God, family and her community.

  • Quinceañera crowns and tiaras represent her superior morality.

  • Quinceañera cross necklaces emphasize a girl’s devotion to the Catholic Church.

Considering everything that goes into planning for your quinceañera, it’s understandable that they only happen once in a Latina girl’s lifetime. Though the rite of passage may vary slightly from country to country, the heart of the quinceañera remains constant. Whether it’s lavish or low-key, these extraordinary parties allow young girls to become fairytale princesses for one day on their way to becoming grown women and embracing all the responsibilities and duties that come with it.

We’ve just begun planning my daughter’s quinceañera but we’ll be sharing it all here and hope that you’ll join us on this exciting journey and celebration from little girl to young lady. We’ll be sharing everything we learn along the way and all things quinceañera.

 

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tweens, teens, Teen Girls Rebel when Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, teen girls rebel, girls fight rape culture, #MeToo, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

You’ve heard of burn books? We all have. I remember in high school they were called slam books; same difference. Same jerky idea, different decade. Well, a group of high school boys at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Maryland are bringing it back. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the girls are refusing to stand for it. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the teen girls rebel. They will no longer stay quiet. Like teenage superheroes, these girls fight rape culture.

Teen boys rating girls on their looks is a practice as old as time. For as long as men have been objectifying women, girls have been getting rated by their looks in burn books, slam books, bathroom walls and in guy group texts. It’s a national pastime for men and boys. The undiscriminating discriminatory act of objectifying the part of the population born with girl parts. It’s sickening.

This time the list is in an iPhone Notes app. It included the names of 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place. There, with a number beside it.

A number rating system for girls like they’re cattle being rated for purchase. A group of male students created the list over a year ago and it’s been recirculated. Spreading like a plague through text messages and whispers during class. One male student saw the name of his friend, Nicky Schmidt, on the list and told her about it. Within 24 hours, most of the senior girls knew about the list. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the girls are not having it.

READ ALSO: The Problem with Little Boys

In the past, tween and teen girls would see the list, hang their head in shame and pray no one brought it up again. It’s shameful. It’s one thing to feel ugly ( as we all do in those awkward years) but it’s quite another to have everyone at school to see your national ugly average rating in notes, much less hear it whispered as you walk through the halls. The thing about these sorts of lists is that it shakes even the most confident young women to their core. Even if you’ve always thought you were pretty, these books have a way of crawling into your psyche and taking root; growing, twisting and digging in.

As someone who suffered from eating disorders and was never sure of herself, at least in the looks department, finding myself in a burn book would have made me feel so isolated, unsure and depressed. As a grown woman, it would make me rage because of two things, 1) I know I’m attractive enough 2) I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I look or think or exist. But this is as a grown woman, it took years to have this confidence.

Yasmin Behbehani, a student at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, found herself ranked on this list after her friend, Nicky Schmidt, let her know about the list, as a heads up. But Behbehani didn’t want to know about this list. She was trying to stay in her lane; just trying to survive high school is hard enough without extracurricular  humiliation. She’d spent her entire high school tenure recovering from eating disorders and trying to avoid this kind of triggering comparison to her classmates but there is was in a text message with a screenshot of the list, typed out in the damn notes app.

These kinds of lists are not new. And they will never not exist. As long as boys are raised to objectify women with no real consequences they will continue to do so. But today is not yesterday, or last year, or the last decade. Today, we live in the world of #MeToo.

We are raising ours girls to not take this kind of treatment. Raising our girls to know there are more important things to be than beautiful and to speak up, no to scream, when we need to be heard. We’re empowering our little girls. We are not afraid of you any longer. You can’t demean us with your stupidity and objectification because we know we are more than our parts.

READ ALSO: Raising Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

The girls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School felt violated, objectified by classmates they thought were their friends. They felt uncomfortable getting up to go to the bathroom, worried that the boys were taking notes and editing their scores.Objectification feels horrible; judged at your very existence.

The things that no one counted on in this “boys will be boys” rape culture that we live in is that  there is power in numbers. Dozens of senior girls spoke to the school administration and to the boys, demanding not only disciplinary action in response to the list but a school-wide discussion about the toxic culture that allowed the list to happen in the first place. This resulted in one male student being given an in-school detention for one day. It wouldn’t even be on his record.

Not happy with the disciplinary action, Schmidt texted 15 friends and told them to tell all of their friends to show up at the school’s office the next day during lunch, “to tell them we feel unsafe in this environment and we are tired of this toxicity,” Schmidt wrote in her text. 40 senior girls showed up, packing into the assistant principal’s office where Schmidt read a statement she had written.

We want to know what the school is doing to ensure our safety and security,” Schmidt said. “We should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny.”

READ ALSO: The Reality of Being Born a Woman

The girls and administration agreed that to have a meeting with the male students in the program, including the assholes who created and circulated the list. On International Women’s Day, almost all of the students in the IB program — about 80 students — met in a large conference room for what was supposed to be a 45-minute meeting during fifth period. It lasted over 2.5 hours.

The girls shared personal stories and impassioned speeches about how the list made them feel. They shared their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and the lasting effects objectification has had on them. And something miraculous happened, the boys heard them. In fact, the boy who created the list stood up, took responsibility for the list and apologized for the hurt the list caused. I am so proud of the girls for uniting and standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. Silence is the enemy of equality.

The thing this isn’t new and the kid who made the list and the ones who passed it around are not the minority. The girls who spoke up and refused to be treated like this, they are the minority in our culture. We need to make doing the right thing easier and more common. It shouldn’t be this hard for women to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t have to fight for a basic human right like being treated like people and not objects.

What will we do next time we find out teen boys rated female classmates on looks? Where will we be when our teen girls rebel?

To be honest, since the #MeToo movement began, I have shared my own stories. I shared them before but I never realized that men don’t actually understand what it feels like to be a woman and be objectified. They have always been bigger, stronger and more privileged than women. They’ve always lived in a boys will be boys culture and they’ve watched, from the time they were little boys, the world apply different rules for women and girls. Boys assault women in so many ways and all they get is a slap on the wrist, even from women. But no more.

Since the day they were born, we’ve been raising our girls to respect themselves and to value no one’s opinion over their own. I’ve taught them that no means no and if they have to scream that, then do so. We’re raising our girls to be brave and determined. They know that they are as good as any man and in some instances, even better.

This generation of moms is raising an army of feminists ready to do battle for their human respect, equality and dignity. If you can’t get on board with that, that’s your problem. It’s happening. Be ready for it. Don’t stand in their way. This is their future and their worth is more than any ranking a man could ever give them.

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playdate etiquette, play date, playdate, toddlers, moms, how long should playdates be

Are you a playdate pro or are you a new mom just dipping her toe in the playdate pond? Either way, learning all the rules and regulations for playdates as a new mom is about as easy as patting your head and rubbing your belly while reciting the lyrics to Baby Shark backwards. And almost as annoying. Makes me wonder what is proper playdate etiquette protocol for toddlers and their moms? These are the things I used to stay up at nights worrying about when the girls were small but I’ve learned some things along the way and I think they could be helpful to you.

I remember once having a wonderful playdate ( well, Bella and Gabs were having the playdate while I enjoyed my time hanging out with the kid’s mom, my “mom friend”)let’s just call it a family play date. If we’re being 100% honest, those playdates were as much for me as they were for the girls I loved having those women to talk to, share with and bond with over our mommy war stories. The struggle is real in the mommyhood.

But in those moments, I was still left wondering, what is the appropriate duration of a playdate for children ages 2 to 5-years-old? What the hell is proper playdate protocol? How do you let them know when it’s time to go home without offending anyone?

READ ALSO: Play Date Break Up

Seriously, I’ve been hosting playdates since 2006. In the beginning, they lasted anywhere from a half hour, that seemed like an eternity, to a cool 5 hours that never seemed like quite enough time together. I’ve attended playdates where I couldn’t stop checking my phone and biding my time until I  could leave. Other times, I could have stayed longer because the kids were having fun and the conversation and coffee were flowing. Do you know what I am talking about?  We’ve all been there.

Other times you find yourself, sitting there, watching the clock, thinking to yourself, can I leave now without looking like a giant a**hole (quietly wishing your head would explode like in Scanners)? It all really depends on the company and the activity. But really, there has to be some kind of etiquette to this; some sort of method to all the madness. If not, chaos would break out. Moms would be walking out mid-sentence once they start hearing something they didn’t like; others would become squatters and it shouldn’t be that hard. It’s like real dating.

We need rules; proper Playdate Etiquette Protocol for Toddlers and their Moms

I’m lucky, I’ve been doing this Mommy gig long enough to have a really great group of Mommies kids that we have playdates with. Most of our playdates were, seriously, 2-5 hours in duration (so awesome how well my girls slept on those nights). But other days, no matter how many crafts or jungle gyms you had, the date was just a dud.

Sometimes we’d hit the zoo, sometimes we’d watch a kids movie, sometimes we’d have coffee and the kids played dress up and put on shows, sometimes it was a combo and lunch. The adorable videos that I could post on InstaStories could give the cat videos a run for their money.

READ ALSO: Play Dates What Every New Mom Needs to Know

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to flee the scene of a playdate going to hell in a handbasket but I know they’re out there. My girls are now old enough, to host playdates without parental supervision but I won’t lie, sometimes I miss it. I don’t get to see my mom friends like I used to because now, everyone has extracurricular activities and more than one kid and no one has time for coffee and lingering conversation or wine and kids dressing up. Now, we have to find time to get together ourselves and it’s much harder than it sounds so cherish these toddler playdates. Here’s a little help.

Proper Playdate Etiquette Protocol for Toddlers and their Moms

  1. Parents should always stay with their child if they are preschooler age and under.
  2. For the first playdate with someone you haven’t had playdates with before, I recommend setting a time limit of 1 hour.
  3. After the initial playdate, if you like the mom and kid and everyone gets along, set a strict time i.e. 10 am-noon. The best guideline is 1.5-2 hours that doesn’t interfere with naptime.
  4. Parents should always pack snacks for their own children. As a playdate hostess, I’ve always provided appropriate snacks and drinks.
  5. Elementary school-aged children are a little different, ask the hosting parent if they want you to stay or go. Around fifth grade, you can safely assume that you will not be part of your child’s playdate.
  6. When kids are elementary school aged, you need to relinquish control a little bit. This starts with snacks. Let the parents know if your child has any food allergies and if they have any pet allergies since you won’t be there.
  7. Once they are in high school, you just need to provide your children with the upbringing and the trust to make good choices and a cellphone so that you can keep in touch. Duration of “playdates” can last from a few hours to a few days. When I was a teenager, my best friend spent the night at my house almost every day of the week.

These are just a few pointers for proper playdate etiquette for toddlers and their moms. What is your favorite pointer for hosting playdates?

 

3/04/10

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Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, William H Macy, Olivia Jade Giannulli, Isabella Rose Giannulli, college admissions cheating scandal

Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and 31 other parents were charged in the college admissions scandal. 50 people were charged earlier this week in a nationwide scheme to fast-track students for admission to elite colleges and universities. As a parent, I understand wanting the best for your children just like Lori Loughlin wanted the best for her daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli, social media influence and fake USC crew recruits.

I understand wanting to give your child the world but isn’t cheating their way in doing them a disservice? They are learning that they can cheat their way to success and they either don’t care or have lost confidence in their own abilities to earn entrance. What these parents did was absurd and they should be held accountable. But now, it’s not just them but their kids too. These kids, whether they knew about what their parents were doing or not, have landed smack dab in the middle of this scandal. How embarrassing!

READ ALSO: They Wanted Better for Us

For example,  Olivia Jade Gianulli and Isabella Rose are losing sponsorships and their social media influence is dwindling as their teen fanbase are mad about her cheating her way into college. This scandal is not only going to probably get Lori Loughlin’s daughters kicked out of school, but it’s also going to ruin their reputation as social media influencers leaving these girls without a proverbial pot to piss in, well, except for the millions their parents have. They’ll be okay.

Also, let’s all be clear here. This is not the first time this has happened. This has probably been going on since colleges existed and wealthy parents wanted their kids to have a prestigious diploma to hang on their wall. It’s no different than the college athletes who are encouraged by the administration to skate by in easy classes to stay eligible to play. Privilege is nice if you’re on the receiving end of it.

READ ALSO: Everything in Life Worth Having I Earned in College

When I was 17, I applied to several universities, all very high-quality institutions of higher learning, some even ivy league. I got accepted to all of them through hard work, good grades and extracurricular activities. I worked my ass off for it. The only limitation I had when it came to choosing a school was money. I come from a blue-collar family, with an immigrant father and a stay at home mother. They had six kids, one salary and no extra.

Everything we got, we worked hard for. 5 out of the 6 of us graduated from college with real-world degrees. My brothers went to college on soccer scholarships and financial aid. They took the opportunity their athletic abilities provided them and used it to fund their futures.

I worked full-time, took financial aid loans and whatever scholarships I could qualify for as did my sister. I did whatever I had to; late nights, driving an hour and a half each way between school and work because to me, it was worth it. My parents taught us to take the opportunities we earned and use them to better situation.

My parents raised us with pride and integrity. They raised us to respect ourselves and the education system. Our parents inspired us to work hard and believe in ourselves. My parents may not have had money but they gave us what they could, believe in ourselves and self-confidence.

READ ALSO: How to Afford the Education your Child Deserves

Believe me, I get it, wanting to give your child every leg up that you can. But buying their way into college is not only not fair but not even helpful. Firstly, what message are you sending to your child that you have to help cheat their way into college? They are too dumb to get in on their own? Or worse, they are too lazy to try? Either way, you are aren’t doing them favors in the long run.

Secondly, you are actually teaching them to be entitled and promoting white privilege. There are things in life that you need to earn to fully appreciate them and if you don’t earn them, you don’t deserve them. Also, I don’t just blame these mothers, why are we not calling out Mossimo Giannulli or William Macy?

Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, William H Macy, Olivia Jade Giannulli, Isabella Rose Giannulli, college admissions cheating scandal

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Thirdly, putting kids into universities that they had to cheat their way into is taking the spot of someone who earned it and belongs there on merit. These students are taking spots that they didn’t earn, probably cheating their way through ( because if they couldn’t qualify to get in on their own they probably can’t keep up) for a piece of paper they don’t need because they are already wealthy. Not to be flippant, but I haven’t heard of a lot of celebrity children going into medicine, law or other scholarly fields. Most of them either go into the family business or spend their lives living off of the spoils of their parents’ careers. I see you, Paris Hilton.

Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and all the parents who did this, shame on you and your privilege.

Meanwhile, the underprivileged, smart kids of the world who are dependent on entry into these universities to not only change their situation but their lives are screwed. Those of us who grew up blue-collar or even middle class are taught to chase the American dream and through hard work and determination we can get into the good universities and get armed with the tools to chase after those dreams.  With celebrities buying their entitled, lazy kids their way into college the kids who deserve it are losing those spots. These parents are literally stealing futures from other kids.

What are these parents teaching their children? I get it. Every parent wants better for their children then they had. It’s natural. These wealthy parents worked hard for their wealth and success. There is a sense of satisfaction and happiness that comes from working hard for something. There is pride and dignity tied to accomplishment. In the end, these parents (however well-meaning their intentions may have been) cheated their own children. They cheated all of the kids who should have earned those university spots. Cheated their own children out of the satisfaction of earning their own way.

What do you think should happen to Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and all of these parents and the students who are part of the college admissions scandal?

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blondienites, 14th birthday party, love letter, 14th birthday, birthday girl, happy birthday

I know not everyone agrees with this or has this same experience because parenting a teen is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get from one day to the next, even from one hour to the next. One minute they love you and the next, maybe you’re the dumbest person to ever walk the face of the earth with the dinosaurs. But sometimes you get lucky, even if it’s just for a little while, and they love the shit out of you. Maybe we’re in the honeymoon phase of teen parenting but for today, happy birthday to my teenager, my best friend. There I said it. I love and her sister more than anyone in the world and quite honestly, I like her more than most people too.

blondienites, 14th birthday party, love letter, 14th birthday, birthday girl, happy birthday

The past few months have had me feeling a certain kind of way. It’s a new avenue in parenting that I’m just beginning, the teen years. Bella turned 13 last year and I felt the tug of her growing up. However, my little girl leaned in and we’ve gotten closer. We talk about everything that she wants to share, I don’t push but I encourage her to know that I’m always here. It’ worked for us, so far. I know it’s not the popular parenting school of thought but she is becoming my best friend and I love how close we are. I have no idea what the next few years will bring so I am cherishing every moment she chooses me to confide in. I’m here for all it.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Daughter on her 7th Birthday

In the past year, there’s been first crushes, a new understanding of friendship and knowing when to hang on and when to let go, there’s been putting family first, learning that kindness is something we can give that always replenishes, finally comprehending that we cannot control how other’s respond to what we put out there. She’s become kind, generous and compassionate all on her own in ways I wouldn’t even have thought of because she believes it’s the right thing to do.

blondienites, 14th birthday party, love letter, 14th birthday, birthday girl, happy birthday

She’s become unapologetically herself not giving too much of a damn of what other’s think of her. My favorite shift I’ve seen this year, while she may still fight and bicker with her little sister, she will always go to bat if anyone even thinks about hurting her sister. Lastly, she is embracing her Latino culture in a way she has not fully appreciated in the past and that makes my heart happy. She also seems to be starting to be grateful and appreciate the parents that she has.

READ ALSO: Birthday with a Surprise Ending

Yesterday, she turned 14-years-old. We’ve already started planning next year’s quinceanera (in case you are not familiar with what a quinceanera is I will write a post soon explaining it all) and I think that’s got me all in my feelings. While she is holding my hand tightly, she is running head first, full-force towards 15; towards being a young woman. This makes me feel so proud of her, humbled being along for the ride and a little scared of what the future might bring but I am so excited for her. I can still remember all of the firsts and newness of this time in my own life and I only hope the experience is as exciting and enjoyable for her. Either way, we’ll always be here to help make the transition smooth.

blondienites, 14th birthday party, love letter, 14th birthday, birthday girl, happy birthday

As I sit here listening to Tu Sangre en Mi Cuerpo and looking up pins for the big 15th birthday party (quinceanera) for next year, I’m nostalgic for that sweet baby who smelled like green apples and came into my life and gave it meaning. Let me be embarrassingly honest for a moment, the moment that I held her in my arms, I fell deeper in love than I ever knew possible. I had never felt that kind of love in my life and the closest that came to it was the Big Guy. She and her sister are the culmination of the best thing that ever happened to me.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Tween

For Bella’s birthday, we let her choose to spend the day however she wanted to (that’s what we do in our house). We celebrate her party next weekend with family and friends. But yesterday, she wanted brunch, shopping for bikinis, a Disney movie marathon and homemade buffalo wing pizza for dinner. She had exactly what she wanted; a little bit big girl and still a bit of my baby. Culminated, like every year since birth, with her 4:51 pm birth minute kiss.

 

blondienites, 14th birthday party, love letter, 14th birthday, birthday girl, happy birthday

Bella,

One day you will read this, my sweet girl, and I want you to know, I love you more than everything. You are amazing in ways that you don’t even understand but I see the good, kind and caring kind of child you ‘ve always been and the young woman you are growing up to be. Keep being you and living the life you want. We’re always here to get your back and love you, no matter what comes in life. You can do anything you set your heart to. Dream big, baby girl. To the moon and back and forever and ever.

Xoxo

Mama

blondienites, 14th birthday party, love letter, 14th birthday, birthday girl, happy birthday

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International Women's Day, healthy, how to keep your kids healthy, happy children, healthy habits, Anthem, ballet, ballerinas

Let’s build something beautiful together. Let’s change the world and fill it full of good humans. Let’s raise young girls to become strong women who demand respect and equality. I want International Women’s Day to be every day from now until infinity.

I am the mother of girls. All day long, for the past 14 years, I #Girlmom. When I found out that I was having daughters, I was thrilled immediately tinged by sadness for the struggles they would face as females. The truth is that being born a woman is both a privilege and a curse. More privilege than curse but still it has its downsides like inequal work pay, permanent second class citizen status, being seen as the “weaker sex”, rape culture, the government has one hand in your uterus at all times, being ignored and invisible, or catcalled and objectified and so much more.

Personally, I think there is nothing so magical and fierce as a strong woman. From the moment I knew I would be raising daughters, I had every intention of raising strong girls who would grow up to be unstoppable women. I felt like this was my time to make my grand contribution to the world, beyond my words, thoughts, deeds and actions, I wanted to leave a legacy of raising good, kind, strong females who are tolerant advocates for themselves and others who need their voice to raise up and call for justice.

Today is International Woman’s Day and I feel like I would be remiss to not to celebrate it, especially as the mother of girls.

Society tends to make women feel like second class citizens in so many ways, I want my girls to know they are first class in every sense of the word. How do we do this in a time when we are telling our girls they are equal but they are seeing that the world does not see them that way? We work twice as hard to build them up. We arm them with educations, strong female role models and the fundamental belief that they are better than good enough and equal to any man. We do this by showing them, not just telling them. We start by loving and believing in ourselves.

It is our jobs as mothers to show our little girls that maybe it’s hard to be a woman in our society but it is also the most beautiful thing in this whole world. We can do everything men can do plus we can bring life into the world. We create miracles. Our bodies are magic and that’s the way we need to appreciate them. We do not need to chastise ourselves because our bodies don’t fit some Barbie doll mold created by the expectations of men. We need to embrace it for all of its curves and beauty.

We need to show our little girls how important it is to have good relationships with other women. Life should not be about competing with other women. We need to teach our girls to lift one another up; to support and celebrate one another. We do not need to divide ourselves. We need to unify and stand strong arm in arm.

Our girls need to know that they don’t ever need to shut up. They are not too brazen for speaking up for what they believe in. They are not asking too much to be treated with the same respect and dignity that any man would demand. You are not less of a woman because you want more out of life than society dictates that you should have.

We need to encourage our girls to travel more. See the world. Teach them that nothing is impossible and everything is possible with hard work. Our girls can do and be anything. Let them know that we’ve got their backs as their mothers and as their sisters in womanhood.

Stop teaching our little girls to be princesses who need to be rescued by a prince. Teach them to rescue themselves. A prince is not your savior; he is your partner. He is the man you will share your life, love and friendship with. Teach our girls that a partner is nice but not necessary to live in this world and to never sacrifice herself to fit anyone else’s expectations.

I’m raising caring, kind, open-minded fighters. I’m teaching them to never back down or step aside. I want them to hold their heads up high and to be proud of who they are and how they live in the world. I don’t want them to lower their standards or settle in life. I want them to know that contrary to what society would have them believe being born with a vagina is not a handicap, it’s a superpower.

I’m drilling it into their brains that no one has power or domain over their bodies, their minds or their souls. It’s ok to say no loudly and bravely. Speak their truth and the world will listen. Feminism is not a bad word and it’s okay to tell the patriarchy to go f*ck themselves. They are not the boss of you.

This is how we celebrate International Women’s Day by fighting for equality every day and showing our girls that they are strong enough to weather the condescension of misogynist. We show them that being considered the weaker sex doesn’t make you less than, it makes you underestimated. Be strong ladies. They have no idea how powerful we are.

How are you celebrating International Women’s Day with your daughters?

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The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Anxiety, Chronic illness, teenage girls, Anxiety attack, anxiety symptoms, teenage girls

Raising a teen is hard. Being a teen is hard. I know a lot of us parents complain about our teens and how inconvenient their ever-changing moods are. We wonder where our sweet little children have gone and why in his/her place a grouchy, nonverbal awkward almost adult has arrived. Maybe we need to look a little deeper and exercise a little more patience.

Sometimes, I can be overbearing and dismissive. I’m tired and my life is pretty monotonous. I know after 14 years, sometimes I run on autopilot. We get so caught up in our own inner dialogue that we forget that everything our children do is not always just to make our lives harder, even though it may feel like it at times. For example, my girls bicker almost constantly and it’s become something that I’ve begun to take personally because I feel like they do it in spite of my requests for them to stop. It almost feels like a collateral act of defiance. I’m trying to step back and see the whole picture, take into consideration that maybe they’re going through something that I’m missing.

Which brings me to the entire point of this post. Children of all ages who are experiencing anxiety and how they express those feelings. My daughter has been suffering from chronic sinus issues for the last couple of years. This year, it has been particularly bad. She’s already had 5 sinus infections since the beginning of the school year. Per our pediatrician, she is on meds to control her allergies and prevent the subsequent sinus infections that follow any sort of congestion, but that no longer seems to be helping.

READ ALSO: Parents Guide to Teen Slang Words

It’s gotten so bad that she is getting migraines which, if you’ve ever had chronic sinus issues, you know, is debilitating. She’s starting to feel like she’s sick and she’s not getting better. She doesn’t understand and neither do I. We do what we’re supposed to. We go to the doctor. We follow her instructions and still my child is sick. Today, we are seeing a specialist, an allergist, because we have to get to the bottom of this.

We love our pediatrician and I trust doctors. I have close friends and family members who are doctors, so I have no problem with doctors. But when your child isn’t getting better, you have to advocate no matter who it is or whose feelings it might hurt. This is where I am today.

The thing is we’re at a point now where my daughters is in such pain that the thought of being at school with no one to help her sends her into a panic. Her anxiety kicks in and she is practically immobilized. I’m talking, gets to the office at school and goes into flight mode. The other day her sinus infection was so bad and she couldn’t be medicated because of tests, she cried for 3 hours in the nurse’s office before they called me to bring her home.

How can I send her to school when she is so obviously in pain and, on top of that, terrified of not knowing why it won’t go away. Which, I won’t lie, I am getting concerned myself. I’m thinking if this appointment with the specialist doesn’t give us answers, maybe we need an MRI. I won’t say that to my daughter and I can’t lead on that I’m more worried than she thinks I am. As her mom, it’s my job to keep my shit together while handling business on the backend.

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I’m trying to stay cool but I get why she is having this anxiety of the unknown. I try to keep her comfortable. I have chronic sinus and allergy issues too. I get migraines. I know how painful all of this is but when I’m sick, I have the luxury of burying myself in bed. When she’s sick, she still has to show up but lately, even when she’s showing up, she’s not really because she’s so preoccupied by the pain.

I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes kids and teens are not jerks just for the sake of being a pain in the butt. Most times, there is something behind it. Whether it be anger, worry, fear or embarrassment. Sometimes even teenagers can’t use their words to tell us how they’re feeling. They are like toddlers in that way.

They say things like, “I’m tired”, “My head hurts”, “My stomach hurts” all very non-specifically and for a parent that can be frustrating because you feel like maybe they are trying to get something over on you. A long time ago, I started going deeper on my questioning (once we rule out that it’s not an actual physical ailment) I ask, “has anything happened at school?”, “Did a friend say something that hurt your feelings?”, “Did a boy say something that made you feel weird?”, “Did a teacher get too close?” “Did anyone make you feel uncomfortable or compromised in any way?” Sometimes, the answers will come out without them having to find the words.

READ ALSO: Parents who Send Sick Kids to School are the Worst

But in this situation, my daughter is actually sick. I’ve been to the pediatrician so many times this year that I feel like I should get frequent flyer miles. I’m also not too sure they don’t have me on some weird mom Munchausen by proxy watch list. It’s embarrassing but every time I take her in, there is actually something wrong with her. So it’s not in either one of our heads. I know how to advocate for my children and I’ll do whatever I need to get them healthy but how do I help them deal with their anxiety?

As a mom, how do you differentiate between your child being legit run of the mill fear of something and having brain chemistry induced anxiety attack about it? One might only need a hug but the other might need a professional. What would you do if your teenage girl was experiencing anxiety while suffering a physical illness?

Update: Allergy tests showed that she is allergic to every Midwestern allergen except cats. We have a dog. The allergens are triggering sinus infections. If your kid keeps getting sinus infections, it might be worth a trip to the allergist. Also, I will write some posts next week to help your kids deal with sinus issues, give you the low down on allergy tests on kids and teens and the symptoms of anxiety in teenagers. Basically, I’ll help you understand the secret life of the American teenager. We’ll all get through this together.

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