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This post was sponsored by Kinder but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

What would you do to see your child happy?  The answer is simple – “Anything,” right? Yet, most of us get caught up in the everyday hustle, rushing from one thing to the next. Worrying about schedules and being diligent about not slipping away from the routine.  We often do not leave room (nor time) for special moments. After I became a mom, I learned the true value of time.  When you are a mom, every second counts.  Running two businesses and a household leaves almost no time for flexibility.  The other day after picking up my son from school, I decided that maybe instead of rushing home to make dinner and following our daily routine, I would change things up a bit.  

I stopped by the grocery store on my way to pick him up from school and bought a couple of pre-made sandwiches and fruit cups.  When I arrived to pick him up, I told him I had a surprise for him.  You all should have seen the look on his face when I said the word ‘surprise’- it was priceless.  Instead of rushing us home, I drove us to the local park playing his favorite tunes on the radio.  The closer we got to the park, the more excited he got about his ‘surprise’. When we finally arrived, I told him we were having a special mommy and son ‘surprise picnic’.  Lord, was he happy. He sat right next to me and said “Mommy, this is so cool.” In the middle of the meal, I told him to close his eyes because there was still one more surprise left in the day.  When he opened them, I handed him a Kinder Joy. His eyes were filled with joy and excitement, all at the same time. “OH.MY.GOSH” were the first words out if his mouth.  We quickly opened the treat and savored every last bit of the two soft creamy layers – one milk-crème flavored and one cocoa flavored.  He, of course, then assembled the surprise toy that comes inside every Kinder Joy. This, I think, was his favorite part of the entire afternoon.  Then, we took the toys to the play yard and spent the rest of the time being kids together. It was out of our routine, but totally worth it. 

Sometimes, as parents, we can often get very close minded.  We think we have to do things “a certain way.”  Truth is, there is no “right way” to parent.  We will all make mistakes along the way, but the bright side is that we are in this together, mamas.  Let’s make the most of it.  Make it a point this week to surprise your kids with something.  Step out of your comfort zone and create new memories. Here are a few suggestions on how to surprise your kid.

1.     Create a surprise picnic- Sometimes the simplest of things create the biggest memories and smiles.  Do as I did, grab a few sandwiches, snacks and take your kids on a surprise picnic on a random day of the week after school. 

2.    Dress Up as their favorite super hero– Yes, this may sound a bit extra, but imagine the look on their faces when you wake them up dressed up as Batman or Wonder Woman.  Seriously, just do it. (And don’t wait until Halloween!) 

3.    Make a family outdoor slumber party– Why wait until a special occasion, or until you have people over? Save a Friday night for an outdoor movie (even if it’s on your iPad) and spend the night outdoors.

4.    Non-Easter Egg Hunt– Why wait a whole year to create a surprise egg hunt? Do it on a random Saturday evening. Nothing beats them finding a surprise egg on a random day. 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on July 10, 2018 .

 
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5 years ago I was single, living in a loft in koreatown dreaming about the day I owned a home with a backyard for my puppy Diego.  It was just me and Diego back then.  No kids, no boyfriend.  And when I wasn’t working, I would be at the newest LA restaurant having dinner with my girls.  One night, after a few drinks with my girls I texted my then ex-boyfriend with a simple ‘hi’.  Little did I know that those two letters would change the course of my life forever.  He and I had dated years back, but things didn’t work out for us the first time around.  But after he and I reconnected, it was clear we were meant to be together for the rest of our lives.  After a year of dating again, he proposed.  We then got pregnant and bought a home all in the same year.  Yes, it was a crazy 2014.  House hunting was not fun, it was stressful, and having a belly the size of a watermelon didn’t help.  I can’t remember how many homes we looked at, all I can tell you is that the house that would ultimately be our home was the 13th bid we had submitted.  I was in disbelief when we finally went into escrow.  I do have to give it up to our real state agent Raul, he was so patient with us (mostly me).  I remember one day after losing yet another home to a higher bidder, I completely lost it (I blame the pregnancy hormones). 

When we moved in, our yard (which was one of the selling points) needed a lot of work.   We thought we were prepared for the project, but we weren’t.  From start to finish, our backyard remodel took a total of 10 months, a lot of patience, some marital disagreements, and countless learning experiences.  I began the project by asking my great friend Alexis from Preen to help me sketch up a design of what she thought was the most economical and easy-to-achieve design.  It took weeks to find the right contractors and landscapers.  We used three different companies and it took so much out of my husband and I to manage everything.

But at the end, the result was exactly as we pictured it.   We learned so much along the way and yes, I would do things a bit differently if I had to do it all over again.  Here is what I learned throughout the process:

1.     CREATE A MOOD BOARD WITH PHOTOS AND SKETCHES – You can either hire a professional, or do this yourself.  But trust me, this is a very important step that you simply cannot rush not skip.  First, create a blueprint of your yard by taking photos and measuring the entire area.  I had a pinterest board that was all over the place, so make sure you are 100% sure of the style you want to achive.  Do you want mostly grass, concrete, sitting space, gravel?  Modern, retro, bohemian?  There are so many options, so take your time and don’t begin until you are 100% sure and have an agreement with your partner, if one is involved in the process.

2.     CREATE A BUDGET – Know from day 1, that most home owners that take on any sort of remodel always go above their budget (specially if you live in LA).  Once you begin changing things up, you are going to want to change more and more.  You’ll get ideas along the way, which is why is important to really spend time in step 1.  Be sure of what you want before you seek out quotes.  This may be the hardest and most frustrating step.  Landscape contractors are not cheap, they know their worth.  A landscape contractor is a one stop shop for everything you may need.  They will manage your project from start to finish.  If you have the budget, they are worth it.  This will be the sole person you will have to manage throughout the process. 

3.     RESEARCH! – If hiring a landscape contractor is out of the question due to budget constraints (which was our case) , then get ready to do massive research.  Carve out the time to meet with independent contractors, speak to them frankly about the budget you have and what you want to achieve.  We used 5 different independent contractors for each step of the way.  The first built out our retainer walls, and leveled out our hillside into two sections.  The second did all the wood work of our fence, our kids play house, and bench.  The third was our plumber who ran all the plumbing for the pool and fire pit. The fourth was the plaster guy who did all the finishes on our retainer walls.    The fifth was our landscaper, who installed our pavers, sprinkler system, lighting, grass, trees and plants. 

4.     COMMUNICATE WHAT YOU WANT -  Yes, communicating with all of our individual contractor was hard, and coordinating their work even harder.  Had I done more research on concrete, plaster, wood and outdoor electricity, things would have gone more smoothly.  Print out photos of the textures  you are going for and ask your contractors about them.   If possible,  get samples.  If you are working with concrete, plaster or paint, ALWAYS ask for sample first.  There is ZERO room for miscommunication when dealing with any sort of construction.  Don’t be afraid to ask question.

My absolute favorite part of the entire process however, was choosing our outdoor plants and lighting.  If you are working on a tight budget, leave room for those two things.  You won’t regret it.  It’s really plants and lighting that can make the difference.  Trust me on this, lighting is everything!  Sometimes we want to splurge on furniture, but without the right lighting or living plant next to it, it won’t have the same impact you are looking for.  And it works both ways really, you can dress up any corner of your backyard with the right light and living plant next to it.  It’s been a bit over a month since our lights and plants have been installed and I sometimes can’t believe its real.   

When we moved to this country, my entire family (there was 6 of us) lived in my aunt’s spare bedroom of her 2-bedroom apartment.  I went to school in Brentwood, where my mom cleaned houses for a few years.  I remember accompanying her somedays.  When we were done cleaning, we’d drive down Mandeville Canyon, and I would day dream of one day owning a home with a pool and big yard. Sometimes in remodels, amid the stress, we can lose sight of the bigger picture.  Learn to draw inspiration from photos but catch yourself when you begin comparing yourself to picture-perfect Pinterest and Instagram posts.   

Study lighting and learn what and where to invest in.  I picked everything from Lamps Plus.  The site made it super easy to learn about lighting and it was convenient to order everything from one place.

If any of you are embarking on a house remodel of any kind, whether big or small, don’t be shy to ask questions on the comments below.  I love sharing information.

And remember, dream big, and then dream a little bigger after that! 

 
Posted on April 25, 2018 .

 
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This post was sponsored by Kinder Joy, but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This is the first year my son and I will be spending Easter away from home.  It’s a bitter sweet feeling, because on one hand I will be back in Oaxaca with my parents celebrating ‘Pascua’ the way we did when I was a little girl.  But on the other hand, I’m going to miss spending that weekend with my siblings here in LA.  Every year, we all get together either at my sister’s or at my house, eat, and have the kids run around the backyard Easter egg hunting.  It’s the best time.  I will have to admit that it’s going to be so great being a guest at my parents’ house, though. My mom is the best DIY crafter in the world and I know she is going to do the most.  She is also the best cook, and it’s going to be so great being taken care of for a change.

But I don’t want my travels to take away from my son’s Easter experience.  The feeling children get when they find a hidden egg is priceless.  This is also why I love Kinder Joy so much. They are really the perfect Easter treat and toy.  Aside from their egg shape, Kinder Joy is a treat like no other, with two separately sealed halves – a treat side made of two creamy layers and a second half containing an exciting mystery toy.  Also, how great are the paint brush toys in Easter-themed Kinder Joy eggs?  Your little artists are going to LOVE THEM!  Because I am going to be away for Easter weekend, this year I am making an emphasis on Easter baskets.  Before we head out to Oaxaca, I want to make sure my son and I spend some time putting a couple of baskets together for the family. It’s fun to even hide some eggs around the house pre-Easter while we’re putting the baskets together.

This year, gather a few of your girlfriends and their kids and host your own DIY Easter basket get together.  It’s a great way to connect with your girls while all of your kids hunt through the house for eggs. Have everyone bring different items, and make it an event.  Giving away an Easter basket to your kids can bring so much joy into your life.  Trust me. Oh, and don’t forget to include a few Kinder Joy eggs in there!  Also, it’s a great way to include the kiddos in the tradition. If you do decide to host your own DIY Easter basket get together, let me know!  Snap a picture and tag me, I’d love to see your creation with Kinder Joy!

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Posted on March 29, 2018 .

This post was sponsored by Kinderbut the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

ENCUENTRA LA VERSION EN ESPAÑOL AQUI

If you live in LA (or, anywhere that it’s warm 90% of the year for that matter) then you totally understand what it means to cherish those rare rainy/gloomy winter days. The city seems to stop and it becomes the perfect backdrop (and excuse) to stay home, enjoy some good ol’ frijoles de la olla, a warm cup of your favorite drink, like a café de la olla and a sweet treat to cap it off (a Kinder joy in my my case).  When I was single (and kid-less) I would cozy up in my couch and binge on my favorite TV shows, and Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies (please tell me I’m not alone on this). Today, I share my rainy days with my husband and little one.  Though I can no longer relax on the couch all day, one thing remains the same – Food – The snacks, the drinks and treats are all still there.  It’s amazing what food can do to bring a family together.  True, I miss those vegging out days, but I wouldn’t trade being at home on a rainy/gloomy day with my son and husband for anything in the world

If you find yourself missing those days and scrambling on how to entertain your own children at home, consider making them part of the kitchen. Find easy to make recipes in which you can involve them.  My son for example loves cutting up his own strawberries.  Not only is it empowering, but it helps with his motor and math skills. (of course, always supervise your kid and make sure they use age-appropriate cutting utensils). Another way of interacting with your children in the kitchen is by them helping you in sorting out the rice and/or beans.  I have fond memories of sorting the beans with my mom.  I somehow think that made me appreciate her cooking that much more and where the love for my cooking began. It’s also super fun to watch your kids face when you eat something they have made.  And really, who doesn’t love a warm bowl of frijoles de la olla on a gloomy day? (I have a great frijoles de la Olla recipe here).  Of course, after we eat we always leave room for dessert or a special treat.  Both me and my son are obsessed with Kinder Joy’s surprise eggs. If you are one of the few who has yet to taste these delicious treats, they consist of two separately sealed halves – a treat side made of two deliciously creamy layers and a second half containing an exciting mystery toy.  They toys are always the best, my son always loves them.  I also have a sweet spot (no pun intended) for Kinder Joy’s eggs. 

After we cook (and eat), we move playtime to his room.  One of his favorite games right now is bowling (our version anyway).  We line up all his toys in a single file line, then we take a few steps back and roll a ball towards them, counting how many of his toys we can knock down at once. This keeps him entertained forever. He also loves to play hide and seek with me and his toys.  He asks me to count and hides toys all over his room.  I think he loves the idea of me finding something he has hidden.  Brings him so much joy when I find them.  We absolutely love to use his Kinder Joy mystery toys for these two activities. They are the perfect size and being able to assemble them only adds to our experience. Kinder Joy has been around the world since 2001 and sold in 170 countries.  And did you know that over the past 17 years, billions of eggs have been sold???  I have most definitely contributed to that number.   

Also, on days like these, make it appoint to relax your mid, when sitting to play with your kids. I know first-hand how difficult this could be.  Our minds as moms are always thinking about a million and one things. But practice relaxing your mind and being present every day.  Little by little you’ll become a master!  Remember that Kinder Joy is officially available in the U.S.  Cheers to those gloomy LA days ladies!

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Posted on February 21, 2018 .

 
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This post was sponsored by Kinder Joy, but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

The moment I received the email telling me Kinder Joy would now be available on shelves in the US starting this holiday season, my mind immediately took me back to my home in Oaxaca.  I was face to face with 5-year-old Bricia again.  I remembered the feeling of joy as if I were there.  The moment my mom would finally cave in and bring home that velvety beautiful Kinder egg, waiting to be opened and eaten very slowly.  Some of my fondest memories were of me trying to figure out how to assemble the surprise toys inside with my mom and uncle.  I remember I loved displaying the assembled toys in my room, showcasing something I had achieved.

For the past 50 years, the Kinder brand has been bringing parents and children together by offering them delicious and joy-filled moments to share.   I couldn’t be more excited for this collaboration.  Kinder Joy is a treat like no other; it brings a whole new level of surprise not only to kids, but to us adults as well.

Sometimes we forget that we, too, were kids once.  I sometimes think, what would life be like if we embraced the kid inside of us every day?  I look at my son and the joy he finds in the simplest of things, amazes me.  I love seeing how curious and fearless he is.  As moms, we take on so much.  We are constantly worried about the smallest of things.  Let’s not allow the everyday little things to block us off from what’s real.  Allow yourself to find those moments of joy in the simplest of things too, and also please don’t forget to treat yourself!  Treat yourself like you would have liked when you were 5.  Remind yourself of what excited you at that age; what brought you the most joy when you were 5, 7, 10 years old?   Let’s run around, let’s jump in puddles and relive those innocent and most joy-filled moments of our childhood.  A happy mom, makes for a great mom.

Thank you Kinder, for allowing me to relive my childhood once again, for bringing me back to those memories and face-to-face with 5-year-old Bricia.  Digging into those two soft creamy flavors of milk-crème and cocoa nestled into the chocolate-covered wafer bites was just what I needed.  I am very much looking forward to once again displaying those assembled toys, but now[IB2] , in my son’s room, and to creating memories for him that will hopefully stay with him like they have with me.

Also, for all my screen moms – Kinder has launched Magic Kinder App, a digital world of fun and education designed to help families play and learn together through a wide range of engaging games, videos, stories and activities. It is completely free and can be accessed through www.magic.kinder.com, the iOS and Android app stores.  You can also access it through the QR code that is printed on the information leaflet that accompanies the toys inside the Kinder Joy egg.  Please let me know on the comment below how you are liking the app, I would love to hear your thoughts!  In a world where we can’t escape technology, I admire those companies who take it upon themselves to bring us quality and educational forms of entertainment.  Another reason why I love Kinder so much!

 

 
Posted on November 29, 2017 .