She’s officially a tweenager! Ashley Turns 12!

My first born turned 12 this past weekend and I seriously just can’t believe it! I can’t believe she’s one year away from being a teenager! A TEENAGER! I look at her and still see her as my baby… BUT she’s becoming her own little woman… the good thing is that she still thinks I’m cool lol… so I will milk that as long as I can. Ha!

You know people say that “it gets easier as they get older”. Well that’s a lie! When they are little you have control of them and you can control them BUT as they get older they will make mistakes and try to test boundaries and that is scary! All I can do as a mom is guide her in the right direction and keep the lines of communication open… and trust me that “communication” piece is not easy for me.

See, my mom was old fashion and we didn’t really talk about things like SEX and so fast forward to today I cringe to even say the word SEX to Ashley… BUT I’m just honest with her. I tell her “babe this is so uncomfortable for me too so let’s be uncomfortable together and talk about life…” and it keeps our communication less awkward and just real…

So turning 12 was a big deal for us… because it’s the last year before she officially is a teenager and the last year of elementary school(yikes) and so I wanted to give her a birthday she would remember that was special and surrounded by her friends and so much love…

So here is all the fun we had:

The city of Temecula is just so beautiful! It’s full of history and it has that country feel to it. We found this place called VAIL HEADQUARTERS… what a beautiful hidden gem. I mean it’s like an old cowboy country town in the middle of an outside mall… it’s a living historic park…so unexpected… and it has the cutes shops.

One of our favorites is TEMECULA CLAY. Ashley and a her friends had a private lesson on how to work the pottery wheel and create a pottery piece made with their own hands… they had a blast! We were there for 2 hours and the girls did not want to leave…they absolutely loved working the pottery wheels, it looked easy but they soon Realized, it takes a lot of patience, time, and delicate hand movement to create a piece of art… by the time they were done molding it, drying it, and painting it, they had a deeper appreciation and respect for Art now that they experienced it themselves…life is all about experiences and THATS WHAT I LOVE TO GIVE MY KIDS.

The weather was a bit cold and windy and it ended up raining BUT it didn’t keep these girls from having fun to the fullest lol. After they were done with their master pieces they were ready to grub! So we walked right across to VAIL PIZZERIA… I mean who doesn’t like pizza right? We had the whole place to ourselves… and let me tell you these open oven pizzas were probably the best we’ve had… the crust was perfection with a nice crunch (not soggy like others) and the flavors were on point… our favorite was the chutney chicken pizza OH YASSS… totally going back for more… and I was loving the decor, if I must say, I love anything country lol, but the girls thought it was cool because it felt like a barn/cabin…

And of course if you visit Vail headquarters you CANNOT leave with out having some delicious creamy A LA MINUTE ICE CREAM. I mean this is home made ice cream with the freshest ingredients straight from local farmers… LOVE THAT!

Yeah it was freezing BUT we just couldn’t say no ha ha ha …

Lastly, y’all know a cake can either break it or make it when planning a party or gathering… and I was blessed to have found Suzanne with SUZANNES BAKERY in Temecula. My daughter requested a vanilla cake and I was so afraid of getting a dry plain ass cake… BUT let me tell you Suzanne’s vanilla cake was amazing! So moist and exploded with vanilla flavor… THANK GOODNESS(insert happy dance) and the bavarian custard she made for the filling was so smooth and just made the cake stand out… and of course she nailed the design my daughter picked. The colors were bright and that drip just made the cake… so if you’re ever in the Temecula area you need to contact Suzanne you won’t be disappointed.

We couldn’t have picked a better place to make Ashley’s 12th birthday so special other than VAIL HEADQUARTERS… she said “it was the best birthday ever!”

I love you baby girl… and keep shining bright because you are that special light that brights up this world… you have my heart♥️

~ Mom

A Taste of Blue Berries!

Its Summer Y’all!

School is out and that means MOM is on the go go trying to keep the kids busy, entertained, and yeah out of her hair LOL.

I don’t know about you, but summer time, I always find myself trying to figure out what activities the kids can do, that are going to be fun, local, and COST EFFECTIVE.  I know that kids now-a-days want to spend their time playing with their Ipads, phones, xbox, and whatever other electronics they can get their hands on… BUT for me, I want them to experience a semi normal summer without much electronics, you know OUTSIDE, get some darn fresh  air and pretend play, but I won’t lie I do give in at times because I AM TIRED.

This past weekend We drove to Temecula, CA which is about 20-25 minutes away from where we live to go BERRY PICKING for the first time!  The farm is called “Temecula Berry Company” and it is such an adorable and Quaint farm, not too big and not too small.  They do “nana’s story time” where your little ones can enjoy story time at the farm.  They also have the most adorable chicken show, Movie night at the farm, and on Mondays  FRESH BAKED BLUE BERRY MUFFINS, I mean what else can you ask???

The kids see the beautiful green fields and can’t wait to start picking!  You grab your buckets and you let the kids roam free and  pick their berries.  It was so cute to watch them take their time so diligently making sure they picked just the right ones.  It also gave them an appreciation of the hard work that goes into getting food to the table.  My oldest said “mom picking berries is fun but its not easy, and it’s hot do people do this all days?”  and that was an opportunity for me to explain to them how others work extremely hard to get our foods to us…which was a teaching moment for all of us.

The BIG RED BARN is just gorgeous and perfect for pictures…I LOVED IT!  Made me want to live on  a farm HA!

Overall, a great summer excursion that DID NOT take the whole day and it was cost efficient!  We got 3 berry boxes and a delicious berry cake (which did not last not even 2 minutes) for $17!!! We will definitely be going back for more berry picking!

 

“of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt…”

 

 

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Ugh this mom guilt…

I think every mom has heard the phrase “MOM GUILT.” Working moms and stay at home moms experience this equally but in different forms…

I remember when I was a working mom I felt guilty all the time. I felt guilty about dropping them off at daycare for 6-8 hrs a day. Letting someone else “raise my kids” is what I would say. I hated seeing their little faces just staring back at me as I’m walking away… ugh, I would sit in my car in that daycare parking lot just heart broken, and feeling helpless. Yeah, with time it got easier but I never stopped feeling guilty.

I felt guilty that, I wasn’t able to help in their classrooms as much as I wished, and when I did volunteer, I was rushing and never really felt I gave myself 100% because my mind kept reminding me to get back to work…. but my heart felt satisfied, when my little ones faces would light up, when they saw mommy in class… the best feeling ever!

I felt guilty, when I had to rush them to their baseball games, and change them In the car or at the park because we only had 20-30 minutes to spare, and most of that was fighting traffic to get to the park on time. Yeah, some moms looked at me like I was weird for not having my kids, “baseball ready” on arrival… I was that Mom. I remember a mom saying, “your daughter doesn’t have baseball ready hair” I was like, “excuse me?!!! I know you aren’t talking to me, and I know you aren’t talking about my girls curly hair!” One thing was for sure, after that encounter, no one ever dared to say anything to me… mama bear came out lol.

I thought once I stayed home this Mom guilt would go away BUT it does not.

Now, as a stay at home mom I feel guilty about not being an artsy type of mom. I see all these stay at home moms doing art projects, and I sit back and think, “man I wish I was creative like that… are my kids missing out?” I try Pinterest and only feel overwhelmed… so I just keep it simple brushes and paint no fancy stuff…

I feel guilty, when I want to spend a few minutes alone or go out with my girlfriends but once I am out, I think about things I can be doing with the kids… I mean why do we feel this way lol?

I feel guilty about buying myself clothes! I mean really?! I seriously browse through the clothing store thinking how I can be spending this money one them. I mean just the other day, I finally got my hair done after almost two years! And the whole time I sat there thinking, ” my gosh I just spent $200 on myself when I could have bought clothes and toys for my kids” mind you, my kids are very blessed but still feel guilty about it lol…

BUT here is the thing I am learning in this Mom world….

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others! We put so much pressure on wanting to do more, and be perfect that we get burnt out, and always left feeling like we aren’t doing enough… I sometimes stop and look around and count my blessings. The fact that I can stay home is the biggest blessing alone! And the same for that working mom… the fact that you can be a career strong woman that can provide for your family is a huge blessing in itself!

Kids don’t need a whole lot… all they want and need is our love and attention. You are enough! I AM enough! WE ARE ENOUGH!

So on that note… last Saturday Mom guilty had me feeling stressed, and down on myself because I was tired from all the activities we have done during the week, that I didn’t feel like cooking… but I said “not today guilt! You ain’t gonna win today!” And so, I grabbed the kids, took them to our FAVORITE RESTAURANT chipotle to have dinner … and guess what?! We had the best time ever! They talked about their crazy school days, their friends, I got to hear about what they go through during school, and we spoke about what their goals and dreams are. My heart was full! And after dinner they played for a few hours and even made new friends… so yeah Mom guilt take that!

And remember;

“Don’t be hard on yourself…the Mom in ET had an alien living in her house for days and didn’t notice…”

My Top 3 Favorite Family Local Road Trips!

How many times do we sit down and think “where will we take the kids today?” and not knowing where in the hell to take them? I Do! Kids will be kids.  All they think about is having fun and not being home.  They don’t think about the traffic, or how far t is, or how EXPENSIVE family outings can be.  BUT again they are kids and cant blame them…  Leave that up to us- the parents lol.

I have learned that you DO NOT need a lavish family outing(although nice) that will cost tons of money to make memories and have fun.  Not everyone can afford a trip to Disneyland or Disneyworld and that is ok!  Stop feeling guilty and stop comparing your life with others!  Always remember Its about the QUALITY of time you spend together.  That’s what our children will remember.

Living in CA is ridiculously expensive!  We are a family of 5 and Lord knows Budgeting is so important.  A trip to Disneyland for a family of 5 would be over $800 if not more!  Yes you heard right! The tickets alone would be $500 plus and that’s not counting Food and whatever else the kids might pick.  I mean hell, a trip to sea world would be about $400, and that’s not over spending. So, I think its safe to say that, these types of trips would NOT be every weekend but more on special occasions.

My husband and I have a few local places we love to take the kids where they can be themselves and just run free.  These places deal with exploring the outdoors and nature and the best part is that IT IS FREE!  Our kids enjoy a good road trip ( although they drive us nuts in the car lol) but hey its family time (or so they say lol).   Usually we buy lunch, most likely In N out $20, water bottles $5, a few snacks like granola bars $5, and we are good to go!

So next time you are wondering “where in the world are we taking the kids today?” remember to look for Local outdoor places accessible to you, grab some lunch, and let the adventure begin!



Pick# 1  AZUSA CANYON, CA

Not a lot of people know about Azusa Canyon and what its got to offer.  This is in the Los Angeles National Forrest so you already can imagine the scenery and how majestic it is.  The sounds of nature, the beautiful Trails, and the gorgeous blue natural spring water that is born from within these beautiful rocky mountains.  Azusa Canyon, Ca is about 1-2 hours from LA and the same if you are in riverside/corona county.  Needless to say it is easily accessible.

For us it is always an adventure where the kids can just be their wild selves, run free, enjoy the water, and be TECH FREE!  We buy In N out to take for lunch, grab some water and granola bars and this will carry us for the next 6 hours… super inexpensive.

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PICK #2  MOJAVE DESERT

You hear desert and you think HOT and far away, right?  Not at all(well it is hot in the summer so we avoid those 3-4 months) BUT not a long drive … My husband has been going out to the Mojave desert for over 20 years!  So when we started our family he couldn’t wait to introduce his kids to this beautiful gem and now that the kids are older it has become a family tradition.  It is about 2 hrs from the inland empire area.

We go out here for the day (we have stayed overnight but its a bit rough on my little one).  We pack a cooler with drinks, tons of water, fresh fruit like grapes and strawberries, snacks like granola bars, chips, yogurt, pudding, and we love grilling STEAKS!  This would be our dinner and we can NOT forget how fun roasting marshmallows is…  We love listening to music while sitting around the camp fire looking at the beautiful sky and enjoying the bright stars and the occasional  satellite, that’s actually pretty cool for the kids to see.

This is absolutely a must!

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PICK #3  Signal Hill, Long Beach, CA

This is a very special place for my husband and I because he would bring me up here when we were dating♥

And now we share it with our 3 beautiful kids.  It is about 40 minutes for us and maybe about 25 minutesfrom Los Angeles.  You can see the city, the ocean and the cargo ships, and the Long Beach Airport!  Our kiddos love rolling down the grassy hills, hiking the trails, and watching the planes come and go.  Its perfect for any day!

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“Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will look back and realize they were the big things…”

I blinked for a second… and she was turning 11 years old!

I can not believe that my first born turned 11 this past weekend. I mean it was just yesterday that I was pregnant, hating morning sickness, and having a C-section, to only hold the most beautiful baby girl.

Funny how we can plan our whole life out to only find out NOPE God has a greater plan for us. This baby girl was not in our laid out plans BUT she was meant to be all ours… lol.

She taught us patience, to love unconditionally, she gave my husband the opportunity to be an amazing father, since he grew up without one, and never experienced a fathers touch, this was his time to love unconditionally, and she helped me become even a stronger woman.

I’m going to miss rushing to her ballet and gymnastics classes, or baseball practice (she played baseball from 4yrs-6), being asked to dress her, having Park play dates, etc. Now I have to embrace that I am in a new stage of parenting with her. I have a pre-teen and with that comes a lot of womanly changes and talks, that I am SOOOO not prepared for But I’m trying to be positive lol. I will make a special day to go shopping for Pads🙈 and empower her in this body change… maybe encourage her with a little TLC manis and pedis and just try to talk to her as much as I can to prepare her for “THE DAY” lol.

The birds and bees talk. UGH… there’s just nothing that will ever prep me for this. Lord help me BUT I know we will survive this too. We will empower her to love and respect her body and hopefully keep our line of communication open.

BUT for now I will enjoy every moment of my little pre-teen, our new “play dates” which consist of a car full of teens singing to Selina Gomez, and talking about their crushes LOL, on the positive side she still needs me to do her hair YAY!!!! I’m still needed…😂

If you take anything from reading this, take this, DO NOT get lost in life’s stresses! Always take time to slow down and take a good look at your surroundings to see your children… to truly truly see your babies(put your phone down!). Enjoy the good days and the bad ones. One day you won’t have a nagging toddler or hear kids running in your home, and you will ask “where did it all go.”

Happy Birthday Beautiful!

Mom & Dad xoxo 💋


A S H L E Y M I C H E L L E

Why I read to my kids + Tips for Little readers to help them love to read

Growing up,  I really never had my parents read to me, or at least from what I  remember.  They were both hard working parents, and maybe just exhausted at the end of the day, or it could be how they were raised too.  I can’t foresee either of their parents taking the time to read them stories as this was just not part of their culture.  My dads parents come from a very poor, and remote town  in Mexico in which, resources were extremely limited, and my mothers parents were just not that involved, I guess.  Although, my parents and I did not share “night time story time” together, and I don’t have such memories,  they were and continue to be amazing parents to me and my children in so many different ways.

Before I became a mother, I always fantasized  how reading time would look for us.  I would read magazines, and books about  the  importance of reading  to children, and wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed.   I would see other parents having a blast reading to their children ( bonding with them) and I couldn’t wait to do the same.   I would think about how I would tuck my babies in, and read them their stories, and see them fall asleep.  I would dream about taking their favorite books along to a park picnic, and read their favorite stories.  How beautiful it would be to see  my husband( this hardcore marine lol)  reading to our babies… Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to experience this with my children.

Once the babies started to come all of my ideas and dreams came true!  I would buy books upon books and would read to them and tuck them in….and yes, it was adorable to see my hardcore, tough exterior of a husband with a book in his hands reading to our babies…I LOVED IT and he did too, something that he never experienced as child, either.

Once the kids entered elementary school READING WAS ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL lol… It was  the number one priority on the teachers list and still is, right?  READ READ READ is what we hear all the time…. This was not of any shock to us BUT the expectations were obviously on a different level.   The “reading part” went from us doing it to having our children do the reading.   What’s the big deal?  The fact that kids, are just learning how to read, and can be easily discouraged when they can not put the words together, which  can lead to a fear of reading.  The whole point is  for them to love to read not hated it right?  It is to be expected for both parents and children to feel frustrated in the beginning stages when children are learning to read. We just have to remember that with patience, love, and repetition, everything ends up falling into place. 

One thing I have learned is, not to compare my children to how other children are performing BECAUSE every child learns differently, and at different levels, and that is OK!  Remember if we stress they will pick that vibe up and it wont be fun anymore…

P.S.  I once was a tired career  working mom… SO ITS OK to have those off days where you just don’t have the energy to do anything (including reading time).  Its part of life no one is perfect and it doesn’t mean you love your children any less… It just means you will rest and get your energy back to pick up where you left off♥     


♥7 TIPS TO HELP THEM LOVE READING♥


 

These next tips have helped us along the way make reading FUN, exciting, and just part of the kids lives.

1. For early learners I LOVE using the “step into reading” books.

You know the books that are numbered from 1-5 levels.  For my 5 year old, whom is learning sight words, the level 1 books are awesome!  She loves the big font it uses and they are easy to read and the stories are Funny and exciting.  I have used these books up to second grade.

      2. Find books that will spark your kids interest.

For example, my second grader LOVES comic book characters ( naturally so since dad is a comic book fanatic lol) such as Iron man, Captain America, Batman, Superman, and the list goes on.  This was the KEY to getting this boy to want to read.  Every time I come home with a “captain America” or “batman” or anything like this, he can not wait to sit down and read!  One of his favorites when he was in first grade was “We are the avengers.”

3. Find books that they can relate too and their stage of life they are in.

This is a BIG must with my 5th grader!  She loves fantasy and whimsical but also LOVES it when the book characters can relate to her world.  One of her favorites is “The Beacon Street Girls.”   She says ” the characters are just like my friends and they go through ups and downs like we do in school…”  Her second favorite is “The magic Faraway Tree Collection.”   This is definitely a magical adventure!  She takes her books everywhere we go♥

4. Buy kids COOKING BOOKS.

I don’t know about your kids BUT my kids always want to be in my “kitchen business” whenever I’m about to bake lol.  SOOOOO the only way they can help is if they can read me the instruction and ingredients.  and the cool part is that they work as team lol.  Yup! they sure do.  The older one helps the younger ones if they are struggling with words.  LOVE THIS.

5. Take library trips or a trip to Barnes & Noble. 

Let them pick out a book they want to read.  It gives them a sense of ownership and independence.

6. Chapter Books.

As your kids get the hang of reading introduce them to chapter books.  Chapter books tend to use vocabulary that will challenge them.   They also have less illustrations which will teach  your child to make their own illustrations by using their imagination… how wonderful is that!  I usually  introduce chapter books in second grade.

      7.  Let them pretend they are the “Teacher”

One thing my kids LOVE to do is play  “pretend they are the teacher ” and their friends are the students.  So, they read stories to their “students” lol.  That’s what my son is doing in the 3rd picture below ♥

 


 ♥A few points to remember why reading is

important♥


 

  1. It expands a child’s vocabulary
  2. It helps with reading fluency and comprehension  
  3. It expands their imagination by taking them places
  4. It increases their knowledge
  5. Bonding time
  6. It will improve their writing skills 

 

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” The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go…”

∼ Dr. Seuss

 

Ugh! When is the next Coffee Mom Date?!

As we all know our hands are full and our daily schedule is too!  From the moment we wake up we don’t think about what “we” need or what  “we” want,  we think about EVERRRYYY one else BUT us (you know- me, you, I…) in other words US MOMS lol…  Yeah I know we tend to forget we exist…

I don’t know about you but my morning routine consist of the following:

» being awaken by little feet in my face, or on my back, or a whole tiny human trying to merge with me…

» running around like crazy, waking everyone up to get ready for school, OH, and that’s usually multiple freaking times I got to remind these little humans to wake their butts up … its time for SCHOOOOL!

» making breakfast

» making multiple lunches

» finding shoes, finding socks, finding backpacks,  finding homework, did you brush your teeth, did you brush your hair, I mean GOOD LORD!

» trying to rush through the darn school pick up  line because we, of course, are running late, and usually have about 2 minutes to get the kids through the school gates lol…Yeah I’m that mom don’t judge.

and yes…I rolled out of bed didn’t shower, didn’t brush my teeth, hair is still in the same bun as the day before, and I’m trying to hide from folks so they don’t get to see my disastrous self   lol  (AKA medusa) … I mean at this point, after 3 kiddos in school, all I can do is  just laugh because that’s my life and WHO CARES!

BUT- and this is a big BUT, one thing I have learned in this stay at home mom life, is that Coffee mom dates are life!  

After staying home,  I started to get to know more moms that were in my same shoes.  I met  moms  at the park, at the local store, at school, target, or mom groups.  Now, it took me a while to find, what I call “my mom tribe.”    I had to weed out some “bad seeds”  but that’s a whole different blog lol,  but once I found “my moms” that got me, that understood me, that I trusted and can laugh with (and in which I can do the same for them),  “MOM COFFEE DATES” became our thing!

You know how sometimes people are looking forward to that new pair of shoes, bag, or whatever…well for us our “thing” is looking forward to our “mom coffee dates.”

Moms  need fresh air, and getting fresh air, with people you love, that you can talk too, and just have a few laughs ( before going back to your crazy routine) is AMAZING! I promise you it is…

Starbucks was our spot for a long time… we would sit around their fire pit they have and let the kids run around and play, while we  drank our coffee and talk about everything and anything… but then we found a beautiful local coffee house that has a beautiful campus with a grassy area and courtyard, and we fell in love!  Why??? because  our kids can run around and be their crazy little selves, and we don’t have to worry about them running into the street…. We pick up lunch on our way there  for the kids (our favorite Chick-fil-a)  while we  sit under their beautiful umbrellas and trees and enjoy our HOT cup of coffee…I did mentioned HOT right?  

We love this time so much because we can share what is truly taking place in our lives!  Sometimes we can’t unload our frustrations on our husbands because they’ve been at work all day and most likely don’t want to be bothered, or maybe we assume that our “little” problems or feelings aren’t big enough or important enough to bother them with… I mean that’s just the reality…  So being able to have flowing and open conversations with our friends is good for our soulswe can be adults again!

I mean we talk about our kids, school, family, our struggles,  our goals, our dreams, church, God, friends, ex friends, the piles of laundry we have waiting for us back home (meanwhile thinking “but I’m here with your crazy butt” lol), bills we got to pay, budgets, how are crazy husbands drive us nuts, sometimes we even talk about mother-in-laws and how much we love them ( insert side eye) joking joking we do love them!   And yes we talk about SEX!  I swear, we always laugh because we always end up talking about sex… and trust me if you are a mom and especially a mom with multiple kids you know our sex life is definitely interesting (to say the least) for sure…BUT anywho… moving along….

Every time I leave our “coffee dates,” I feel refreshed, and like a load has just been taken off my back, from all the laughing we’ve done… Its funny because I feel like I can tackle Target  after our dates (only a mom would understand this lol).   I’m a happier mom and happier me because I was an adult for a few hours ♥

So what I am saying is make time for a “coffee date” with your friends.  Our “mom cup” needs to be refilled often.  We know that its not easy to find time BUT take little steps to include you in your daily schedule and then soon it will just become part of your routine.  Find a coffee shop where your kiddos can play, and you and your mom friends can sit down, talk about life and just enjoy a few hours to yourselves.  TRUST ME YOU WILL THANK ME♥

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“My cup Overflows with your Blessings”

∼Psalms 23:5