Tag:

television

Netflix, roadtrip, Streamteam, travel, children

The holidays are my favorite time of year. There is just something about the chaos of it all that makes me energized. I thrive on the craziness. It’s my happy place, especially when you add in baked goods, holiday music and all the twinkling lights your heart can desire. There is one part however that I could give a good pass on; holiday travel.

It’s not that I don’t like traveling. I love it. I love visiting family. I love going home. I love seeing new sites and old ones too. I even love the actual act of traveling…the journey, not just the destination but during the holidays, traffic is a special kind of hell. Everyone is trying to get somewhere and all of us are getting nowhere fast. There is nothing I hate more than being stuck. The worst kind of stuck is in an enclosed compartment for long hours with no possibility of escape and children.

My children have fortunately inherited my wanderlust and verve for life. They’ve unfortunately also inherited my lack of patience. On the precipice of tweendom, they are far more pleasing travel companions than they were as toddlers. Aside from the occasional, about 25 times an hour, inquiry, “are we there yet?” they tolerate long trips very well. Nothing a pair of good noise canceling headphones can’t rectify. But when they were tiny, as cute as they were, they were the worst.

Road tripping with toddlers is not for the weak. A few years back on a quick trip to Virginia to check out the city for a job move, we found this out the hard way. The girls were just about 2 and 4-years-old. We decided in our youth and naiveté that a long drive across the country was just what our sanity needed.

The area was one of the most gorgeous parts of the country that I’ve ever been. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful, large metropolitan cities concealed by nature. There as nothing not to love about the destination.

The 12-hour journey with toddlers, however, left much to be desired. My, otherwise, sweet loving girls apparently had a time limit to being constrained in those 5 point harnesses. On a good day that was a trip across town. You can imagine their state of mind at the very thought of taking their very first long road trip imprisoned in those body shackles.

My rambunctious eldest insisted on asking, every 20 minutes, “Are we there yet?” I always thought that question was a parenting cliché but now I realize that it is, in fact, the truth of traveling with children. I never realized how frazzling that could be to me as a person. I thought “those” moms have no patience. Just say, “Not yet, in a little while.” Why all the overreaction? Then I realized that it can actually bring you to the brink of insanity and make a grown woman ugly cry if asked in the right voice and enough times over a 12-hour period.

While the oldest was hitting us with the barrage of “Are we there yet”s the youngest was freaking out over a gnat. Yes, a gnat, that supposedly must have been the scariest, meanest, baby eating gnat you ever did see because, god bless her little bitty heart, she screamed bloody murder for at least 3 hours of the trip. We were all ticking time bombs.

In summation, my 4-year-old was wondering if we were there yet, every single second of every single minute we were on the road. My 2-year-old was being terrorized by a gnat and screaming so highly pitched, that all the dogs of the world were seeking her out to eat her and end the misery. I was on the brink of insanity, on the verge of losing the battle and my poor beloved husband was trying to plot his course to the nearest gunsmith to rent a gun and buy a bullet.

Then I pulled out my bag of tricks because obviously, the 1200 DVDs that I brought were not holding their attention. First, we colored (you know those Wonder Crayola colors that magically appear on the special paper but nothing else. That’s what you think, but that’s another story entirely), then we colored the glittery ones, then we colored My Little Pony. We sang, only the songs that they know so we had Bella’s favorites, “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Mary had a little Lamb” and Gabi’s favorites “Happy Burtday to you!” and ” Five, Five Dolla..Five Dolla foot long!”

Yes, my 2-year-old was obsessed with the Subway commercial jingle. Have you any idea how many times they used to play that thing? I do, because she sang it incessantly for her second year. Don’t get me wrong, in the right context, it was absolutely adorable. She was the cutest thing that ever walked the earth, besides her sister, of course, but everything in moderation. Interrupted only by the “Are we there yet?” inquiry of her sister.

So on the brink of insanity, on the way to the gun shop, we stopped at lunch to let them stretch their tiny legs at some wayward Wendy’s in West Virginia. Not my idea, have you seen Wrong Turn?

We got lunch, they had ants in their pants and couldn’t keep still. We got the food, the chicken flavored whatsamanuggets are not done, still doughy,”EWWWW, gross”, as my daughter liked to say. I returned them. We waited again, I returned with nuggets, all is good in the land.

Then a “fly” dared to descend upon the table. All hell broke loose. Toddlers jumping everywhere, screaming, crying, running away in terror. I mentioned it was a fly and not Godzilla, right? Not a horsefly, just a regular old house fly! In true fix the situation fast fashion, I took off my flip flop and the untimely death of one unsuspecting fly ensued. All was good in the land.

Then Gabs, because all of the attention we just received was apparently not enough for her, screamed, at the absolute top of her lungs “EWWWW, FAARTED.Stinks”. Absolutely, mortified, I say ” OK, honey, it’s OK.” Then I realize, amongst all of the commotion, she did not have any kind of flatulation incident. Apparently, she just thought it was funny and liked to take credit, really loudly.

The point of all of this recounted trauma is that I am so thankful for things like Netflix and noise canceling headphones and toddlers who have grown into tweens who now find many ways of entertaining themselves. Daddy’s hotspot has saved us all many times on long road trips to Disney.

If you are looking for something to binge on your next long trip. My top recommendations are Alias Grace, Godless, She’s Gotta Have it, Glitch, Frontier, Man Down and Stranger Things.

For the tweens, I recommend Riverdale, Stranger Things, Anne with an E and my girls’ favorite, Project MC2.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenFor the toddlers/preschoolers whom I adore, Octonauts, Beat Bugs, Super Monsters, PJMasks and Word Party which are all available for download.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenSpeaking of long drives to Disney World, did I mention all of the amazing Disney Movies that Netflix currently has in the queue? What are you binging right now?

Disclosure: I am a member of Netflix’s #StreamTeam but all opinions and genuine love for Netflix are my own.

 

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Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

Take my hand, stay Joanne
Heaven’s not ready for you
Every part of my aching heart
Needs you more than the angels do

 

Earlier this month, my Aunt died and suddenly, I was consumed with people and things that I had pushed down into the deepest recesses of my heart. I was stunned and shocked and it brought up all of these feelings of loss for me; from the life-changing loss of my own pregnancy to the close losses of my Uncle Ramon, my Uncle Narciso and then that took me down a rabbit hole of what ifs…what happens when my parents die. How will I survive? You survive by going on, putting one foot in front of the other and smiling when you feel like dying and wearing big sunglasses so no one sees the constant tears in your eyes.

I watched my uncle and his sons willing with everything inside of them to stay upright when all they wanted to do was collapse into that all too familiar, to me, fetal position on the floor. It’s been 5 years but I remember that feeling of utter hopelessness and unrecoverable loss that leaves you discombobulated and broken beyond repair like it was yesterday. All I could do was love them and try to be there to lean on.

Loss and grief are a bizarre thing. They can take any form they want at any time. I always refer to them as emotional time bombs but make no mistake, they can be absolutely nuclear on impact. One minute you are laughing at something funny you are remembering about the person you lost, then maybe you are smiling remembering their smile or the way they held your hand, then the next you are so angry that you want to punch the entire world in the throat and still in another you are overcome with sadness and emptiness realizing you will never hear them speak your name ever again and sometimes, that is too much to stay standing.

It’s bad enough when you are the one it’s happening to but it is so much worse, for me anyway, to helplessly watch as someone I love goes through it. All I want to do is make it better for them but I know from experience that the only way to truly get through it is to feel every single one of those feelings. It’s nature’s way of severing the tether in a slow, gradual way. Our minds can’t handle pure pain all at once. I remember feeling like I would surely break and yet, I survived. I am definitely scarred by each loss, some more than others, but they leave their mark.

 

If you could I know that you’d stay
We both know things don’t work that way
I promised I wouldn’t say goodbye
So I grin and my voice gets thin

Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’?
Goin’, girl?
Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’?
Goin’, girl?

 

I don’t normally find that any two losses are the same, not equal even to ourselves and they all manifest differently. Grieving is something so very personal. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We all just try to survive from one day to the next. The thing is it doesn’t just affect us. It has ripples and it changes everyone it touches.

Recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix, Gaga: Five foot Two and I felt a connection to her song, Joanne. I think by seeing the documentary and learning more about her life and the meaning behind the song, I could relate to her vulnerability in a way I never have before. I saw the woman, Stefani Germanotta, and not the icon Lady Gaga and honestly, I found her so endearing in her vulnerability.

Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

 

You know we tend to put up fences and build walls around ourselves to protect us from public scrutiny. I don’t just mean celebrities like Lady Gaga but each and every one of us. It’s human nature to preserve our most vulnerable parts. Mine’s always been more of a see-thru chain link that you can see what’s going on but still, I protect myself. That’s one of the reasons that I don’t do a lot of videos. You’ve read about my howling in pain and grief at the loss of my pregnancy but you never actually saw it because there’s a vulnerability even I can’t go to about some things.

Anyways, this documentary has me full of admiration for what Stefani Germanotta does and who she is in spite of however much pain she is suffering. She uses it to fuel her art. She is no one’s victim. She is honest, raw, funny and completely in love with her family and her fans. She’s a fierce and mighty woman and in her movie you see the sacrifices she makes for her art. She is a bootstrapper. This is something we share in common.

I have a theory that everybody in the world chooses to either be a victim and wallow in their circumstances or pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become stronger because of the hard parts. There is no such thing as try, we have to choose one or the other and do it. I refuse to lay down and give up; that’s not me. I don’t even know how to do that. I tried once. It didn’t take.

Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

 

I’ve been listening to Joanne almost constantly since seeing the documentary and it has become an anthem for strength for me. It’s about letting go, even when you don’t want to. It’s about the sadness and beauty in having had the chance to love someone, maybe even someone you never got the chance to properly meet, and the pain and vulnerability of maneuvering through those most painful moments in your life.

It’s about embracing that vulnerability, relinquishing control and giving yourself over to the acceptance of the pain of the loss. Swimming in the letting go, letting it wash over you like warm waves in the sunshine is the only way to become one with it. It’s the only way to survive it and it is beautiful and ugly and amazing and horrible all at the same time.

 

Honestly, I know where you’re goin’
And baby, you’re just movin’ on
And I after love you even if I can’t
See you anymore can’t wait to see you soar

Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’
Goin’, girl?
Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’
Goin’, girl?

 

Have you seen the Netflix documentary Gaga; Five Foot Two and if not, please do and tell me what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: I am a Netflix StreamTeam member but the above post about my new found admiration for Lady Gaga and my connection with the documentary Gaga: Five Feet Two and the album Joanne are all my own.

 

 

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Hulu, Summer, Back-to-school, kids, downtime

This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own.

Can you believe how fast summer is going? We’ve barely even made a dent in our family’s summer bucket list! Where has the summer gone? It’s been flying by at a dizzying pace here. I think since April I’ve been saying, I can’t wait until this month is over and we get to do nothing. Yet, here we are, still doing everything. I just want to have to be nowhere, do nothing and sleep. I just want to be, and sneak in some cuddles with those girls of mine who are growing faster than should legally be allowed. Can we get a law passed?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m having a blast traveling with my family and sharing experiences with them. Man, life is so much better when it’s filled with experiences. I mean, isn’t that what we all work for? To pay for the experiences? I’d say we are pretty blessed to be able to give our children the kinds of experiences that we can in today’s world.

 

Part of my job is living experiences. I experience and then I write about it. It’s not always great but you always learn something new about a place, a product or yourself; sometimes a little bit of all of it. I’ve been lucky because I’ve been able to take my family along to live these experiences as well. I know it’s a little bit cheesy but I just have more fun when they are around to see it from their perspective too.

I do completely realize that which I am complaining about is a total first world problem and I feel like a complete jerkface. This is what separates us from the animals, right? It could definitely be worse, I could be complaining that I don’t know where my next meal is coming from or where we’ll be sleeping tonight but I get to complain about having too many places to be at one time or having a packed schedule with awesome experiences. I know I am blessed but it’s still hard being overscheduled.

Still, I am human and I need a minute every now and then to just be. My favorite activity to do is binge watch television after the kids go to bed, since I never get to watch television in real time. I mean seriously, what parent ever gets to watch a show at its regularly scheduled time or all the way through? It’s like getting to eat dinner with no interruptions and while the food is still warm. Sure, it happens occasionally but it’s about as rare as a newborn sleeping through the night. I’ve heard of it happening but I’ve never actually experienced it yet.

The plan for the next 2 weeks (before our last trip of the summer on August 10) is going to involve lazy days spent poolside, afternoon bike rides while the tree shadows play on our faces and lots and lots of laughter. Movies under the stars in the yard or at the drive-in, picnics, barbecues and lots and lots of friends are also on the summer bucket list.

Hulu, Summer, Back-to-school, kids, downtime

But the thing I am secretly looking forward to the most on super-hot August days is coming home, blissfully exhausted from some sun drenched adventure, collapsing onto the couch or building a pillow fort with my daughters, snuggling under a fuzzy blanket in an air conditioned house with no place to be and watching some Disney movies on Hulu. We’re looking forward to Tarzan, Hercules, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas. Or maybe I’ll introduce them to some of my favorites like The Karate Kid 1-3, Race for your Life Charlie Brown, How to Eat Fried Worms, Charlotte’s Web and the Baby Sitter’s Club.

Hulu, Summer, Back-to-school, kids, downtime

That could definitely be fun. I’ve been sharing my favorite childhood books with them and it’s been awesome for all of us.

Not familiar with Hulu? I discovered it a couple years ago when I broke my leg and watching tv was the only thing I could do while confined to bed. Hulu is the next generation of TV. Their game-changing TV experience shifts the way consumers experience TV. This is TV built around you.

Hulu offers original series, full libraries of some of the most popular shows of all time, films and new episodes anytime on internet-connected TVs, smartphones, game consoles, set top boxes and mobile devices. This year, Hulu added live news, entertainment and sports programming – making it the only TV service that brings together live, on-demand, originals, and library content all in one place, across living room and mobile devices.

How much does Hulu cost? Limited commercials plan: $7.99 per month (get a one-month free trial) No commercials plan: $11.99 per month (get a one month free trial) For $39.99 – far less than a traditional cable package – Hulu will give you more than 50 popular live and on-demand channels, PLUS their existing library of more than 3500 TV and film titles. No other pay TV provider can offer that. Get a one-week free trial. And you can also add SHOWTIME and HBO to your existing Hulu subscription for an additional fee.

Hulu, Summer, Back-to-school, kids, downtime, walt-disney world, star wars

What’s on your family’s summer bucket list?

Hulu is a leading premium streaming service that offers instant access to live and on demand channels, original series and films, and a premium library TV and movies to millions of subscribers in the U.S. Since its launch in 2008, Hulu has consistently been at the forefront of entertainment and technology. Hulu is the only streaming service that offers both ad-supported and commercial-free current season shows from the largest U.S. broadcast networks; libraries of hit TV series and films; and acclaimed original series including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Mindy Project, The Path, 11.22.63, the Golden Globe® nominated comedy series Casual, as well as the upcoming Future Man and The Looming Tower. In 2017, Hulu added live news, entertainment and sports from 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, CBS Corporation, Turner Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive to its offering – making it the only TV service that brings together live, on-demand, originals, and library content all in one place, across living room and mobile devices.

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Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

Ever find yourself wondering how to survive summertime parenting? Oh yeah, it’s definitely different from school year parenting. Sure, at first you think it’s going to be all sleeping in and hanging out and then you realize that you’re not on summer break, just the kids are. You, my friend, are about to start working double time. That’s when your “oh Ish” moment hits you like a ton of bricks.

Summer has been blasting by and I still feel like I haven’t slept in. Well, I lied, there were those 3 days back in June where we all slept in until 10 a.m. Yep, those were a magical 3 days and here it is time for school to start back in a couple of weeks.

I don’t know about you, but when I am immersed in chaos all day, I need downtime…”me” time. Just me. It’s not about being selfish, it is about survival. During the school year, it’s nice because the girls go to bed on a schedule and I know after 9 p.m., I can spend a couple hours catching up on my favorite shows before going to bed. That’s my “me” time. Me, just chilling out, not having to be anywhere or do anything or be anyone to anybody. It’s my 2 hours of the day that are just.for.me.

Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

I know that it sounds crazy that only 2 hours of the day are for me, but if you are a parent, you understand. The moment that baby comes into the world, you are forever number 2 in your own life and with each child, you fall further down the line. If that’s not how you are rolling, please tell me your secret because by the time I get everyone else taken care of…I’m just too tired to care about me. My priority is sleep but before I can sleep, I must decompress.

What do you do to survive summertime parenting and decompress?

The thing is during the summer months, this entire situation goes to hell in a handbasket. Sure, it is filled with long days at the pool, traveling, sunshine, barbecues, entertaining, bike rides and all that stuff your pasty white life is missing the other 9 months of the year so how can you refuse when your child, who only has 6 more summers in your house, asks you to forgo your “me” time for some “we” time? You don’t. You give her all of it because damn it, 6 more years is not long enough.

Sounds wonderful, right? It is. Mostly. Except, even though my heart wants to give her all the “we” time I can. My brain needs a break. I need to decompress before I explode. She’s off for the summer because of school but I still have to work, now with kids home asking me to stop working to go someplace or do something or swim or bike or hike or make brownies or have a gaggle of 12-year-old girls spend the night. Do you have any idea how much 12-year-old girls talk? More. Than.me! I didn’t even think that was humanly possible.

So, I do all the things. I never exhale until they go to bed, which is no longer between 8 and 9 pm. Nope, I have 2 tweens, so sometimes while I’m trying to decompress bingeing out on  GLOW, Friends from College, Sons of Anarchy, Dear White People, Ozark, Orange is the New Black or The Incredible Jessica James (yes, I binge more than one show at a time) on Netflix, they saunter in at 10 p.m. to tell me what Kelly and Amy said about Jessica and Brittney and I listen because I’m a mom and pretty soon, they won’t want to talk to me at all. It’s like they can feel the shift in the universe when I start to relax and they can’t let that happen.

Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

 

Though I must admit, sometimes, I want to run my head into the wall because I just would rather find out what Jax is going to do to Clay than why one 12-year-old girl thinks another 12-year-old girl doesn’t like her because she didn’t notice that she was wearing a new bobbi pin. I mean cheese and rice; how many years did I endure Calliou? Calliou!!!That whiny little bald child and Max and a Ruby, where were their parents? Not listening to whining, that’s where. And now, they won’t even let me get through one episode without busting in to ask me why the sky is blue?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to know everything my girls want to tell me. I am all about the open dialogue but remember when the kids were toddlers and they kept asking for water from the bed so they could stall out bedtime? Yep, I think talking this bobbi pin situation is a bedtime stalling technique and I’d just rather turn my brain off and watch the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling body slam each other all over the place. I don’t want to worry about how a bobbi pin is going to put my tweens into therapy. It’s too much.

I really think my bingeing makes me a better mom to them. I need that alone time to feel like a person who has adult thoughts and isn’t just someone’s mom. Seriously, I’m so used to being referred to as Bella and Gabi’s mom that I find myself in the grocery story walking between a person and a shelf saying, “excuse us” even when I’m alone because, really, I’m never alone. As a mom, my kids are always with me, on my mind. I desperately need those bingeing after dark nights to center.

I hear things like yoga and working out help too but really, I’d rather just take a hot shower, throw on my pjs and chill with the Big Guy (or alone) and watch Netflix in beautiful silence, with only the sweet sound of Jax Teller telling people to get the eff out of his way or he’ll shoot them in the face. Call me weird, but I find it quite soothing. The point is I don’t feel guilty about bingeing. I need it. They need it. You need it.

What do you do to decompress? Do you ever sneak and binge watch shows? What’s your favorite Netflix sneak and binge?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix Stream Team member but my full on Netflix addiction was in place way before I was part of the team and the tips to survive summertime parenting are all me.

Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

Update: So as I was looking for pictures for this post, I realized my kids are awesome. We had so much fun this summer but still, even with all that love I’ve got for them…I need some for myself too.

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date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

I watch a lot of television so when I was asked to screen Date My Date and have the opportunity to interview Barry Watson, I was all in. I like television shows and movies for various reasons. Truth is I’m a bit of a show binger. In the end, there is usually some kind of connection or take away that keeps me coming back and Date My Date did not disappoint.

I’ve spent my life as the kid who was always looking for the keychain at the gift shop that had my name on it. I never found it, at least not spelled correctly and my girls have the same issue. I was also the little girl who changed which box she checked on the enrollment card every single year. #BiracialKidProblems My point being my “niche” in life was a little smaller than others. I never quite found kids on television or movies who I could completely identify with.

Enter, Up TV’s new television show Date My Dad. Date My Dad is an original scripted dramedy starring Barry Watson (7th Heaven, Gossip Girl), Zenia Marshall and the legendary Raquel Welch. How can you go wrong?

Date My Dad begins airing June 2nd at 9PM ET on UP TV.

date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

I had the chance to watch the pilot and rewatch it with my daughters and I have to say, we love it. It’s the first time my daughters have been able to watch a show and identify with the characters. For me, it’s huge that my 2 biracial daughters who follow after their mom’s freckled Mexican complexion can see girls on the show who represent Latinas that look like them and the fact that we all come in different colors, complexions, eye and hair combinations. That is refreshing for me.

But whether you are a single parent, raising your kids alone, or like many of us finding ourselves depending on extended family and friends to help raise our children (because it really does take a village) you too will find something you can identify with on Date My Dad.

Date My Dad is about a widowed father, Ricky (played by Barry Watson), who is navigating his way through raising his daughters ranging in ages from just pretween to teen and between. Ricky just turned 40 and life is not what he expected it to be at this juncture in his life but along with the help of his Mother-in-Law (played by the force that is Raquel Welch), his brother and his wife and his neighbors, he is figuring it out. Along the way, he is learning a little bit more about himself and, maybe for the first time, seeing his daughters as people and not just his children. It all becomes very evident in the pilot when his girls set out to find their dad someone to love because they feel he deserves to have someone.

The show is touching and endearing without being overly saccharine. It’s also infused with just the right amount of sarcasm and humor to balance the sometimes serious themes of the show.

My girls are 9 and 12-years-old and we watched it and all found it not only captivating and well-written but appropriate for audiences of all ages. Finally, something you can watch with your children without having to worry about suddenly having to cover their eyes or ears.

date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

But if you don’t believe me, just check out this video of Date My Dad.

I also had the pleasure recently of interviewing Ricky ( Barry Watson) at Mom 2.0 Summit and I’ve got to say, aside from playing a great Ricky he is a genuinely good and likable guy. Plus, he is a fellow hand talker so obviously, we are now best friends. Okay, maybe not best friends but he certainly was fun to interview and run into, over and over again. Stop following me, Barry 😉

I only wrote that because I know he would totally laugh because he did. We seriously ran into each other several times in those 3 days. We have a bet going on who is actually whose stalker.

Anyways, if you don’t believe me that this show is going to rock, check out my interview below and see for yourself. And don’t hold it against me that I totally have over expressive face disorder and am a major hand talker.

Kudos to Barry because if I were him, I would have been terrified with all that craziness going on in front of me. He was a good sport and I’m telling you as a friend, you really should watch Date My Date and watch it with the whole family.

To celebrate this great new addition to the UP TV roster, join @UPtv on Twitter every Friday night during Date My Dad for the chance to win great prizes and chat about the show with special guest hosts. UP TV is the entertainment brand that can truly say “We Get Family” and offers viewing experiences that feature authentic, relatable stories about all types of families, in all their complexities.

 

date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by UP TV however, all thoughts and opinions about Date my Dad are my own.

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Blackish, racism, Trump, post-obama, election

Do you watch Blackish? We do. It’s one of those shows that we watch as a family the day after it airs because simply put, we can personally relate to many of the topics of the show but none more than this week’s episode, “Lemons.”

In 30 minutes, Blackish brilliantly covered everything that I’ve felt in the past 2 months about the election. Some of it, I’ve said on here before and more recently, I’ve gone quiet because I’ve been processing. I’ve been preparing to keep on fighting for equality. This fight is nothing new to me as a Latina woman, and if you are an African American, a member of the LGBTQ community, a person of the Muslim or Jewish community, disabled or any minority for that matter that was looking forward and hung all of our hopes of equality on a white woman, you know exactly what I’ve been feeling.

In retrospect, I guess we were all a bit naïve. We got cocky and complacent and we thought Hillary Clinton had it in the bag and she was the change/ the chance for true equality that we were all waiting for and maybe we put that on her because she was a white woman. Maybe somewhere deep down inside we felt like we needed permission/ confirmation of our equality from a Caucasian. How ironic is it that white women are the very exact ones who failed us at the polls?

We’re equal. We’re human. We don’t need anyone to make it alright. It’s a fact. Just like no other candidate can make us less than. Our President-elect may think we are less than he is but it’s simply not true. We are all the same. I don’t need him to give me something we already have the privilege of being born a human being.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about race lately because things just got a lot more in your face. The other day I watched Birth of a Nation and I cringed at the thought that any human could treat another human like that. It, quite frankly, broke my heart. I watched it with my 11-year-old daughter and we both just sobbed at the inhumanity. The thing is that wasn’t very long ago.

Then, I watched Loving. In case you are not familiar with the story, it’s about an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, living in Caroline County, Virginia in 1958. Richard Loving, a white construction worker, fell in love with a local black woman and family friend, Mildred Jeter. Mildred gets pregnant and overjoyed, Richard asks her to marry him. Knowing that interracial marriage violated Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws, they drove to Washington, D.C. to get married.

But soon, sheriff’s deputies raid Mildred’s home and arrest the couple for violating the anti-miscegenation law. When Richard points to the marriage license, the sheriff curtly tells him that it has no validity in Virginia and takes Richard and, a very pregnant, Mildred to jail. Richard makes bail but then is not allowed to bail his wife out. She is forced to spend the weekend in jail, pregnant and in her nightgown and robe because the government of Virginia refused to recognize their marriage.

They plead guilty to breaking the anti-miscegenation law and are sentenced to one year in prison. However, the judge suspends the sentence, on condition that they couldn’t return to Virginia together for at least 25 years. The Lovings moved to D.C. to stay with a friend of Mildred’s but return to Virginia so their first child, Sidney, can be delivered by Richard’s mother, a midwife. Arrested again, they are cleared when their lawyer says he erroneously advised them they could return.

From there, the ACLU got involved after Mildred sent a letter to Bobby Kennedy asking for help with her situation. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of the Loving v. Virginia, which finally invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. That was only 50 years ago.

In 1972, my Caucasian mother from Virginia excitedly went to tell her grandfather who had raised her that she was marrying my father, a Mexican, and his answer was, “You may as well marry a n*gger.” I never really understood the weight of that comment until I watched Loving.

My great grandfather disowned my mother and she was heartbroken that he couldn’t accept the man that she loved. We never met that man because she wasn’t going to expose her children to that kind of hatred. I’ve only been taught and ever known, in my heart, that everyone is equal. My parents taught me that. But not so long ago, even in my own family, prejudice ran rampant and divided loved ones forever.

Prejudice is nothing new to most of us. Now, it’s just less covert but it hurts either way if I’m being honest. Nobody likes to swallow their tongue why someone else berates and belittles them and we shouldn’t have to. I wish we could do more than change the laws to ensure equality but actually change people’s hearts so that they saw us as equal because until that happens, we are not treating the cancer that is prejudice, only the symptoms and truly, that’s not much.

I guess what all this was about was to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings and if you don’t believe it, watch Blackish the episode “Lemons” you can catch it on Xfinity, HULU or the ABC App. I have no affiliation with these companies, other than paying for subscriptions, I just really think you need to watch it. You’ll see that you are not the only one thinking these things. You are not the only one terrified, depressed and saddened by the unpredictability of the upcoming term.

But please, stop complaining. And don’t be afraid because I know many of you are and who can blame you. But sometimes doing the right thing has to make you be braver than the fear. We’ve got work to do and the whining and crying is just pointless. It’s like worrying, there is not purpose to it. What helps is doing the work. Fighting the injustice. Making your voices heard so we don’t keep ending up here, in the worst fucking episode of Groundhog Day ever. We can do it. Yes, we can.

If you are disheartened by the election results, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to work to change the situation?

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Netflix, Stream Team, Best binge worthy shows, winter break survival

Thank God for Netflix. If you are like me, you are just about winter break-ed out(or is that broken? Because I’m feeling pretty broken right about now) of your kids. We needed the break, no doubt but we’ve done the family time thing and the sleeping in and the movies with a tween girl sleepover thrown in just to round things out.

We’ve moved on to bickering, under each other’s feet, no idea what day this is part of winter break and I think it’s the perfect time for us all to fall into separate show holes. If we’re being honest, I’ve been falling into one every night after the girls go to bed until about 3 a.m. every morning (next week’s going to hurt when I have to get up at 6 a.m. again). Thankfully, I am a Netflix stream team member so I can blame all my binging on research, right? Lucky for you, I’ve done the research so you can fall easily and cozily into your very own Netflix show hole for the remainder of your winter break.

Thankfully, I’m a Netflix stream team member so I can blame all my binging on research, right? Lucky for you, I’ve done the research so you can fall easily and cozily into your very own show hole for the remainder of your winter break or do a little Netflix and Chilling with your favorite guy or girl.

Here are some binge-worthy shows that I’ve discovered lately, perfect for your show hole viewing pleasure.

The Crown: A young woman rises to rule an empire amid the challenges of the modern age. Peter Morgan’s masterfully researched scripts reveal the Queen’s private journey behind the public facade with daring frankness. If you like period dramas, you will love this series.

Wentworth: Wentworth is set in modern-day Australia and focuses on Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) when she first enters prison after being charged with the attempted murder of her husband.[2] Bea is separated from her daughter and sent to Wentworth on remand, where she lives in “an uncertain limbo” until she is sentenced. Starting at the bottom of Wentworth’s hierarchy, Bea is forced to learn how to survive in prison. Think Orange is the New Black with more drama.

 Velvet: The young heir to a fashion empire falls in love with a humble seamstress. It sounds simple but it is amazing and is full of twists and turns and beautiful fashion and people.

No Second Chance: After surviving a brutal attack, Dr. Alice Lambert wakes up to learn that her baby daughter is missing and faces pointed questions from the police. This series takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and you won’t believe the end of series 1.

CrazyHead: Prone to hallucinations, kindred spirits Amy and Raquel embrace the roles as “seers”, individuals who can detect the hellish true forms of others.

The OA: A woman missing for 7 years turns up at a hospital with strange scars on her back but can’t- or won’t- reveal where she’s been. This series will give you all the feels and question everything you know. It is an amazing story with a one-of-a-kind plot.

Sense 8: Eight strangers around the globe find themselves connected — first by a violent vision, then by their shared ability to connect with one another’s thoughts and actions, and finally by the urgent need to find out what happened and why.

Case: Case begins with a teenage ballerina being found dead hanging from a noose above the stage in a theater. A gruff police investigator and disgraced lawyer end up setting about solving the case with many familiar avenues uncovered: the girl comes from an abusive birth-parents situation; her adoptive parents have secrets; her sister is involved with some sketchy characters; there are voyeurs at play, blackmailers, and statutory rapists.

Captive: This documentary series reconstructs history’s most complex, high-stakes hostage negotiations as kidnapping victims recount their terrifying ordeals.

Medici: After his father’s murder, banking heir Cosimo Medici battles opponents of his artistic, economic and political visions for 15th-Century Florence.

Chewing Gum: A pent up Tracey channels Beyonce to try and seduce Ronald, her virginal boyfriend. But mild-mannered Connor seems to like her just the way she is. This show is absolutely hilarious.

If you need binge ideas for the kids, so you can get a few minutes to get a shower and find some clothes that fit, here are a few I found that my kids think are pretty awesome.

Chasing Cameron

Troll Hunters

Fuller House

Minions

ZOOtopia

Lost and Found

And Don’t forget about the Netflix New Year’s Countdown so you can countdown any time during the night with your little ones. There are 10 choices: Chasing Cameron, Fuller House, Word Party, Luna Petunia, Beat Bus, Puffin Rock, All Hail King Julien, Skylanders Academy, Project MC2 and Troll Hunters so something for everyone! The best part is, especially with the little, little ones is that you can do it at any time; all the excitement and none of the meltdowns! Happy New Year!

What’s your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix this winter break?

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binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

Being a parent is a 24 hour a day, 7-day a week, 365 days a week “job” and if it weren’t for being able to sneak away to Netflix for some “me” time, I’m not sure how I’d survive it. Believe me when I tell you that I am very happy to be a part of Netflix’s stream team. Some people have hobbies or second jobs, I have Netflix to escape reality. As a parent, you are never truly off duty. Never. I feel like my life is a constant game of memory (because I’m always putting things up away from the children then trying to find it when I need it again) and hide-and-go-seek on the world’s longest loop. It is exhausting trying to not mess your kids up, filling childhood with memories and happiness while not being allowed to lose your sh*t (be human).

My girls are 9 and 11-years-old and I feel like the pregnancy brain, morphed into mommy brain and now, I have the worst case of “My kids have got to be at 27 different places at the same time, I can’t even remember where my keys are or why I walked into this room” brain ever. I think I’ll bide my time here until senility sets in.

A couple weeks ago we took our summer vacation to the East Coast and there were two consecutive days when I was confined to a hotel room with my girls. They were bored. I was trying to work and basically, it all ended in a case of too much of a good thing. I really needed a day off when we got back. Honestly, there is nothing quite like being locked in a room with kids to make you painfully aware of how precious “me” time is because when limited to one singular room, any parent will tell you…there is no escape. It’s like prison, only the bars are parenthood and social etiquette.

binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

To get some time alone, I stayed up later than the entire family and binge watched Season 2 of Bloodline on Netflix.

By the way, this season of Bloodline was awesome. I swear, I think Danny was in this episode even more than last season which was ironic since… well,  I don’t want to spoil anything but if you watch, you know what I’m talking about!

At home, I can simply saunter off to my office or hide out in my bedroom, closet, back deck, bathroom…you get the point? But when you are trapped in a one room abode, there is no escaping. Heck, the bathroom at our hotel was one of those cool, sliding barn doors made out of green glass. It looked amazing but it had one fatal flaw; no lock.

binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

In case you were wondering, and if you are a parent yourself you aren’t, staying up alone late at night did give me some “me” time but it was a temporary fix because eventually, I needed to sleep later than they did and so by the end of the week, I was exhausted and they were ready to go early in the morning which resulted in the inevitable, “What are we going to do today? I’m bored!” chorus that they chanted incessantly, in their little kitty voices in that ONE room. I don’t know how the pioneers did it with their one room houses.

After our 15-hour drive home from Boston, I was feeling kind of burnt out. Like our 9-day vacation was too much. Moms you know what I mean. I was on constantly. Suddenly, I felt like I had newborns again because of all the time and attention they were requiring, only they are 9 and 11 and almost as tall as me and I haven’t been in newborn/toddler mode in years. It was hard. It was like I was looking at young adults but they were usurping every ounce of energy out of me because I was their entertainment, all the time.

We got home and the exhaustion was compounding with no end in sight. Then my Mother-in-Law (God bless her) called and offered to take the girls for not one but two days. (Is it just me or did you just hear choirs of angels singing too when you read that last sentence?) I gladly obliged, I mean who am I to keep a Grandma from her granddaughters?

The first night they left just happened to coincide with the release of the new season of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) on Netflix. I am a super fan so I was super excited. I was able to indulge in an interrupted binge watch of the first few episodes. Good thing because this season is really engaging. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but expect the unexpected and there will be tears of laughter and sadness.

binge watch, Bloodline, Family Travel, Netflix, orange is the new black, travel, stream team

The first day, the Big Guy took a vacation day so we slept in and had a day date. We went out for lunch to Cheddars, then we went to see The Conjuring (which is creepy and fantastically scary in the best possible way) followed by getting ourselves one of those new Caramel Espresso Granitas from Starbucks because we never get to just walk around the mall like teenagers or cool couples without children sipping on the latest Starbucks concoctions ( I really wanted to order the Pink Drink off the secret menu but I was afraid the pimply faced barista behind the counter would give me the stink eye because I’m over 22) and then, shopped in peace and silence at Von Maur

After spending a sufficient amount of time and money on ourselves, we headed home, picked up take away for dinner and just were. Remember what it feels like to just exist without it being for the soul purpose of serving little people? It was absolutely amazing.

The second day, we slept in again and after slowly sipping hot coffee got dressed and ran a few errands. Thought we were cool because we even managed to fit in grocery shopping for the week and then we got into a fender bender in the parking lot. That kind of ruined the mojo of the day but we were so well rested and happy, we just smiled like fools and handed the kid we crashed with our insurance card. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you get to sleep.

That evening, before the girls came home, the Big Guy played Call of Duty and I watched a few more episodes of OITNB. Turns out, we both needed “me” time, “us” time and lots of sleep. By the end of the 48 hours, we both actually really missed our girls and I think they missed us too. It was good for everyone.

The thing is when you go on vacation, you usually come home needing a break from your life because vacation usually means running all over like a chicken with your head cut off, just in a different location. We all needed some time apart, we all needed sleep and now we are all much happier especially since last night, I finished the last episode of season 4 of OITNB but of course, that makes me sad too because no I have to wait a year for the next season. I have no self-control. I’m like a kid left alone in a room full of candy. Don’t ever ask the kid why he ate all the candy, ask yourself, why did you leave a kid alone in a room full of candy. OITNB is my candy.

What do you do during your “me” time to relax? Let me know in the comments below. Do you shop until you drop? Do you sleep in until you wake up on your own? Do you have a hobby?

Do you have a favorite show on Netflix to binge watch?

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grace and frankie, netflix, #StreamTeam
I am a proud member of the Netflix #StreamTeam but all opinions and binge watching of Grace and Frankie were all my own.

As many of you might have read, this month has been quite a bit of crazy. It was non-stop go-go-go until life intervened and brought it all to a screeching halt when life hit me right in the eye with a nasty infection  and no, that’s not a sexy euphemism for anything. At first, I was freaking out because I had so much to do and found myself completely out of commission. Add to that the antibiotics that had the side effect of not only destroying my digestive system but had the added effect of spontaneous narcolepsy. I guess it wasn’t too bad, especially since the vision in my left eye was blurry and I couldn’t work anyways because…you need sight to work on the Internet to see all the sees. I found myself partially blind and almost completely unplugged. It was like it was 1987.

Anyways, I spent my week and a half laying on my couch contemplating my imminent demise, adapting to the new unimproved elephant man face that I was sure to be sporting for eternity and feeling sorry for myself so I did what anyone in my position would do, I binge watched Netflix with my one good eye, in between trips to the bathroom, crying and naps. I finished season one of Bloodline so I had to find something else to distract me.

I kept thinking about my poor kids being known at school as the kids of the lady with the weird face. I felt like Gilbert Grape’s Mom. Then I started trying to rationalize the situation. Hey, there are kids with two mommies, two daddies, or a mommy, daddy and a step mommy and/or daddy. Some kids live with their grandparents and some live with aunts and uncles. My kids would just be the kids from the family with the super tall dad and the mom with the weird face who does that crazy thing “blogging” for a living. I needed to get out of my head so I searched for something to make me feel better. I needed something to put my “weird face” mom status in perspective. I need something to make me laugh, cry and get out of my own head.

I found Grace and Frankie.

Netflix’s new funny and fearless original comedy featuring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, is a perfect example of how today’s families can shift, rearrange and blend in unexpected ways. When Grace and Frankie’s husbands, who are in their 70’s, leave them after 40+ years of marriage—to be with each other—the women find themselves facing a change that they never expected, especially at this point in their lives. But they shift their perspective to get through it together with the support of their new blended family and, of course, a wicked sense of humor.

Grace and Frankie is a testament to women supporting women, sisterhood overcoming all the unexpected hardships, shifts and changes that life throws our way. Friends are what sustain us throughout life. It starts on the playground and goes on throughout our lifetimes. Shared experiences and memories only strengthen that bond.

It is also a beautiful reminder that families come in all shapes, sizes, sexual preferences, colors and beliefs. Family are the people who stand beside you, love you and support you and that is all that matters. It’s more than blood and genetics, it’s love and friendship.

Grace and Frankie had me laughing so hard and then crying the next. Life is beautiful and wonderful and unexpected. Life is messy and complicated and not usually what we planned for. In the end, we need to be happy and loved, the heart wants what the heart wants and the heart doesn’t adhere to social norms or expectations. Grace and Frankie is by far one of my favorite new shows on Netflix.

I also found another brand new show that I’m hooked on, Between, which is Sci-Fi series starring Jennette McCurdy. A mysterious disease strikes a small town’s adult population in this tense-sci-fi drama. Pretty Lake’s teenagers think they have their futures in sight with college, the military and even motherhood. But suddenly the town’s grownups start dropping like flies from some unknown plague and the government quarantines the town. Survivors quickly realize that they are trapped, no one is allowed in or out and they are going to have to figure out how to survive on their own, with no adult supervision or guidance. I’ve only seen one episode because unlike most Netflix series, this series is weekly but from what I’ve seen totally worth it. And don’t forget, Orange is the New Black is back on June 12, 2015. I will definitely be watching, will you?

What was your favorite show on Netflix this month?

What did you think of Grace and Frankie?

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Childbirth, labor games, tlc, labor and delivery, pregnancy
Disclosure: This is a compensated post written by me on behalf of TLC and Labor Games, however, all opinions and birth stories are my own.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking of my journey into motherhood. It probably has something to do with May 1st just passing, my youngest just celebrating her first communion and about to turn 8-years-old in a couple of weeks and Mother’s Day. I’ve had babies on the brain and been a little nostalgic for that new baby smell. Quick someone have a baby and let me hold it. I’ll give it back, I promise. I just need a little something to take the edge off and soothe these twitchy ovaries.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. There are lists everywhere for the perfect gift to get your mother whether she is high tech or high style but what about the brand new mother? I’m talking the mother who is giving birth? Sure push presents are nice but what if you could earn cash, prizes and all things new baby to help you ease into motherhood just by answering a few questions during labor? Would you do it? Well, there is a brand new game show on TLC premiering tomorrow, May 6, at 10 p.m. EST called, Labor Games.

The premise of the game show is that the host and a small crew show up right in the middle of your labor (during the height of it) to ask you questions and if you answer correctly, you can win prizes and cash including a $10,000 college scholarship for your new baby. Sounds intriguing, right?

I won’t lie; I spent most of the day of both my inducements bored silly. In fact, I remember specifically watching Jerry Springer and rolling my eyes in complete boredom right before all the real fun began in my first labor. When I say fun that would be referring to my completely unmedicated transition labor that came on fast and furious and hit me like a freight train.

The same labor caused me to consider jumping out of the window to stop the pain and left me looking akin to Linda Blair in The Exorcist. You know how some people ugly cry? Well, I am supremely ugly when in labor. My face tells the whole story and from the video, it was a scary trip.

For some reason, I kept refusing to use my breathing techniques, as if I was going to develop an immunity to them or use them all up. On my first labor, knowing nothing about what was going to happen, I refused to get an epidural until I was in full transition labor but by the time the anesthesiologist could get out of surgery and to me, I was fully dilated. From centimeters 7-10, you would not have wanted to ask me any questions because all of the answers would have been the same and they wouldn’t have been appropriate for polite society to hear.

But those first 7 hours of my labor, I would have definitely welcomed the opportunity for some entertainment and some cash because babies cost a lot of money. Of course, we’ll never know because I will not be having any more babies but how much fun will it be to watch this game show, right?

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. I’ll be watching. Will you?

Labor Games Sneak Peek Weds 5/6 10p/9c on TLC.

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