motherhood

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s a fact; we moms are always looking for ways to better ourselves and live a healthy lifestyle. For you, this could mean eating better, getting more sleep, exercise, stressing less or all of the above!

Whichever category you fall into, living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean drastic changes, taking small steps can make the biggest impacts. To get you started, I’m sharing tips that I practised to help me eat right, move more, and enjoy time with my family.

mom serving son dinner
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2 Walking on a treadmill

5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle as a Mom

Between taking care of kids, managing a household, and doing everything else, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can sometimes seem impossible. But I have good news for you, it doesn’t have to be.

Today, I’m sharing some personal insights I’ve learned after having three kids that have helped me live a happier and healthy life. Yes, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle after you have kids!

famiily picnic
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5 Must-Haves For Every Parent to be Adventure-Ready

This post is brought to you by Lorissa’s Kitchen. Thank you for supporting the brands that encourage my creativity and work.

On any given day, I’m juggling kids, work, driving around suburbia, and still finding time to make homemade meals. The only reason I look like I have it together – even though I drop the ball often – is because I’m a planner when it comes to how I spend my time.

Kids and mom playing at the park, always need snacks

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5 Tips to Talk to Kids about Alcohol

This post is sponsored by Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix, a program of Responsibility.org. All opinions are my own. This group is a not-for-profit organization working to fight underage drinking that I’m proud to work with.

“Kids grow so fast!” are words nearly every parent has spoken at one time or another. For me, this rings true every time I scroll through the thousands of photos on my phone and my Dropbox to find images to use whenever I share stories in my blog posts and personal Instagram account.

The truth is that my kids are becoming exactly the type of humans they are meant to be, which is more important than ever that I continue to pour my hindsight knowledge in my parenting. This means, that my husband and I must simply make it a priority to spend more quality time with them to talk to them about the things that matter, in ways and at places they like.

fuentes family

One topic we talk about often is alcohol, the dangers of underage drinking, and responsible drinking. I’ve written about this on this blog before; from how I approach the subject with my youngest kids, my exchange students, and how we continue to do so as our kids are growing older.

If bringing up the topic of underage drinking and alcohol is difficult for you; or perhaps you don’t always know how to get started, where, or when to bring it up, below is a quick video I’ve made with my family about how we talk to our kids about it as a family.

I’m really proud to have built a community online where I can share this type of topics that are important to me –and like-minded parents. Parenting is hard. And while the internet provides an opportunity for discussion, it’s also a place where a lot of parents feel judged and pressured to live a certain way.

For my husband and I, parenting our children doesn’t mean being the “cool parent” on the block. Quite the opposite. We are very “un-cool” often –especially with our kids- since we feel the responsibility of leading our children to live their best life and become kind human beings.

fuentes family doing karate

Between homeschooling, my husband quitting his corporate job of 15 years in healthcare to join me in my company, and choosing to not sign our kids up for half a dozen activities (against the advice of many of our friends) and only doing Karate as a family; I know we are different than most, but I feel that what we have is special.

Spending so much time together as a family unit has made my husband and I reevaluate our commitments and only say “yes” to things we consider important. This lifestyle requires us to be very flexible and having an open mind to the opportunities that are in front of us.

As you saw from the video, having partnered with Responsibility.org for a couple of years now, has equipped me to have better conversations around the topic of alcohol as well as having a much more honest approach with my kids. We often share stories with our kids (minus some of the gory details) about the stupid mistakes both mom and dad made when they were in high school and college, and nearly always our stupidity stemmed from the consumption of alcohol.

Our goal as parents is to be around to celebrate their milestones and keeping things real for our kids is, and will always be, how we approach life. I’m not someone that hides or makes assumptions about what our kids know and don’t already. And even when I get the “oh, mom! I know about that already,” I make sure to acknowledge that they know about it some, but not everything about it.

How do you talk to your kids about alcohol? Do you have any helpful tips?

 

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Filtering Less, Speaking to Kids More

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org and their Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program. All opinions are my own. This group is a not-for-profit organization working to fight underage drinking that I’m proud to work with.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a less “filtered” person, both with my adult relationships and with my kids. What I mean by this, is that I’m more consciously approaching my conversations with honest and direct answers, answers, especially during this time in our society when conversations are so very important.

With middle schooled aged kids that are interacting on social media with their friends and family members, I know that these types of platforms offer no filters during their browsing experience. Sure, my kids’ accounts are locked and they are followed by their friends and family members, but what they see is often left at the mercy of the algorithm.

Take last week for example. We went to celebrate Mardi Gras with our family members in Uptown New Orleans; a yearly, Sunday family day tradition of ours, to watch the parades, hang out with our extended family, and celebrate.

My kids and I were on the parade route catching beads when I decided to snap a few pictures and post one on Instagram. A few hours later, my daughter was on my Instagram account and tapped on some of the hashtags I had used for our photo.

While having a conversation with another adult, she gently tapped me on my shoulder and asked, “mom, I know people drink during Mardi Gras, but OMG somebody crashed their car into the people at the parade! I hope they didn’t kill anyone.” Image.

And that, my friend, is how what began as a family activity, turned into a discussion of adult decisions and consequences. About how alcohol is something to be enjoyed in moderation, as an adult, and how drinking too much can lead to people doing things they would otherwise not be very proud of.

For me, it’s essential to help my kids understand that their decisions can have consequences -in all areas of their lives. Some consequences will be obvious (examples include slurred speech, hangovers) and some will be less so (such as the effect that alcohol has on the developing brain). In just a few years, they’ll be celebrating Mardi Gras with their friends and their family members, and there will be drinking. Perhaps someone else will be driving a car, and the decision whether or not to get in the car with a person that has had too much to drink will be left to my child to make.

Having partnered with Responsibility.org for a couple of years now, I’m much better equipped to have these type of conversations, more candidly, less filtered with a heartfelt and honest approach with my kids. And the resources from Ask, Listen, Learn are perfect for my kids at this stage in their lives.

Often, it’s not about what I say to my kids; but how both my husband and I approach the subject. We show them the information and use examples (like the photos they saw on the explore page while on my Instagram account) to explain what we are sharing. They know I come from a place of concern for their safety and well-being and just want them to be aware of the reality that is all around them.

How do you talk to your kids about alcohol? Do you have any helpful tips?

 

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Celebrating the Holidays Responsibly

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org and their Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix Program. All opinions are my own. This group is a not-for-profit organization working to fight underage drinking that I’m proud to work with.

There are few things that I enjoy more than having my friends and family gathered around the table, sharing funny stories while feasting on great food.

I recently hosted a Friendsgiving luncheon at the Studio where I invited some close friends and family. The luncheon menu was complete with all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings and a few friends brought over some wine for our meal.

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Lessons Learned From Two Years of Homeschooling

Two years ago, we began homeschooling our three children. The concerned looks from close friends and family were to be expected but didn’t stop us and today, I want to share with you some lessons from our second year homeschooling.

If you didn’t read what we learned from our first year of homeschooling, now would be a good time. Go ahead, I’ll wait. That’ will give you a back story on how/why we did it.

Awesome, glad to have you back 😉

After two years of homeschooling, I've learned more about my kids than I ever could have imagined. It's given us freedom & more quality time together.

First, I’ll say before I dig in too deep is my honest belief that there is no right or wrong way to raise a child. Each of my kids has his or her unique strengths and weaknesses and homeschooling my children has provided me with more time to be with them and observe the ways they learn best.

Whether your children are learning at home, in a public school or private institution, all of our children will turn out just fine. I’m sharing my experience, which has shaped my opinions on education, as related to my family. All in hopes that it grants you some insight on this issue that so many of us struggle with daily.

The reality is that it often takes a long time to figure out what gets each of your kids excited about learning. Everyone learns differently, and you have to be patient to understand what makes them tick.

This second year of homeschooling my kids has given me just that, the insight into their world to be able to navigate their learning experience that suits them best. It’s also given me a lot more compassion for them, with their struggles of learning a particular subject or topic, as well as the ability to encourage their strengths -but don’t let me get ahead of myself here.

After two years of homeschooling, I've learned more about my kids than I ever could have imagined. It's given us freedom & more quality time together.

It’s only in this second year that I’ve been able to better understand my children. To be honest, I thought I knew them before when they were in regular school, but helping my kids with the oh-so-dreaded homework, was not the best time to get to know them at all -we were all tired at the end of the day.

If you’re reading this thinking; “I will never get there.” You can, and you will! It takes time.

For us, the opportunity to travel the world with my family has opened my eyes to what I believe learning should be. By exposing my kids to different cultures, lifestyles, and belief systems, they build perspective- something that I have found to value over blackboard lessons and textbooks.

With travel, the world is their textbook. Like when we traveled to Spain, hiked to prehistoric caves and learned about the Paleolithic era and how they painted on caves by doing it. Yes, that kind of textbook.

After two years of homeschooling, I've learned more about my kids than I ever could have imagined. It's given us freedom & more quality time together.

 

Watching my children become further adjusted, confident, and overall more aware of their surroundings in a foreign environment has shown me that grades aren’t everything. Not even close.

I believe part of educating my kids is granting them the freedom to explore and move through material at their own pace. Doing this has brought an eager discipline to their studies that they never had in the traditional classroom setting. When they feel they’ve mastered their current lesson, it’s time to move on to the next thing to learn.

Now, my kids are more eager to learn about the things they are interested in, besides Minecraft, and having the opportunity to bring them to the MOMables Studio is also teaching them skills for the future.

After two years of homeschooling, I've learned more about my kids than I ever could have imagined. It's given us freedom & more quality time together.

One thing we changed this past year was the instruction of the course material. Our first year, the kids learned through an online program on their own with our supervision, and it was tough.

Now, they attend a local Homeschool Center twice a week where they learn in a classroom-like setting with a 1:8 teacher ratio. In those two days, they learn all the classroom instruction in Math, Social Studies, Science, Language Arts, and Reading.

After our first year, my daughter said she missed the social aspect of the classroom but still loved being homeschooled. Having classmates to pal around with during breaks can create lasting, meaningful social experiences that make school that much more engaging and fun. So, I sought out what I feel is the best of both worlds.

Our local homeschool center has brought a harmonious balance to our children’s curriculum. In subjects that I’m less versed in, my kids gain valuable instruction in an environment where they can socialize and collaborate with other classmates. It’s a perfect supplement for this on-the-go family that wants to homeschool.

After two years of homeschooling, I've learned more about my kids than I ever could have imagined. It's given us freedom & more quality time together.

With my line of work, my family has the opportunity to travel quite often. The teachers at the homeschool center never make us feel bad about time spent away from our kid’s studies and just have us to catch up when we return.

Comparing this to the hours of coursework assigned to my children while spending time abroad a few years ago has been life-changing. I can still remember the level of frustration my whole family felt grinding through coursework during the time that should have been spent further exploring Europe together a few years ago.

Homeschooling grants me the opportunity to greater enjoy the time my children and I spend together on our best times. I used to feel like I was fighting for time with the school and now, I no longer feel strapped for time with my kids.

Without homework, our evenings are free for us to be a family, go to karate together, and for my kids to “be kids” and play outside.

After two years of homeschooling, I've learned more about my kids than I ever could have imagined. It's given us freedom & more quality time together.

If I had to sum it all up, I’d say that the second year of homeschooling was about discovering our children as much as it was about learning.

Do you homeschool? What has your experience been like?

 

 

After two years of homeschooling, these are the lessons I've taken away.

14 Do you ever find yourself doing things and think to yourself

Healthy Living | Why I Take Probiotics

This post is sponsored by Swanson Health Products, Probiotics. All opinions written below are mine. Thank you for supporting the brands that encourage my creativity and work.

Do you ever find yourself doing things and think to yourself “I’m just like my mother.” This happens to me often, with things like how I fold clothes, make the bed, clean my house, and with my health.

Do you ever find yourself doing things and think to yourself "I'm just like my mother." This happens to me often, with things like how I fold clothes, make the bed, clean my house, and with my health.

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11 The exchange students we've hosted have been incredible. They've taken the roles of big brother or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

Big Sister Responsibility

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. Thank you for supporting my work.

As many of you know, for the last two years in a row, we’ve hosted teenage exchange students in our home. While it has been a terrific experience for us, taking on someone else’s child whom you didn’t have the ability to raise can be a bit challenging.

Thankfully, all of our exchange students (we’ve hosted for five years) have been incredible. They’ve taken the roles of big brothers or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

The exchange students we've hosted have been incredible. They've taken the roles of big brother or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

When you take on someone else’s child in your home for a year, you are not only responsible for their food, shelter, and education. The most important thing, for me as a parent, is their safety and well-being during their year abroad.

Taking them in in your home as one of your kids also means setting ground rules and having the type of conversations you would have with your kids at their age.

One of the difficult conversations we always have is about the topic of alcohol. You guys already know I am very open with my kids about the subject and it’s not something I’m afraid to discuss. While it seems like a normal topic, it can be awkward with someone else’s child.

The exchange students we've hosted have been incredible. They've taken the roles of big brother or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

I’ve always started the conversation with the curfew talk and how legally they have to be home before 11pm. I also reassure them that I know they will be at friend’s houses and parties and that I am available to pick them up, two houses down, if necessary.

I believe that the more we talk with our kids about alcohol, the more trust they will have with us when faced with uncomfortable situations. Of course, I try to make it clear that I am not there to judge just to make sure she is safe. I’m committed to making sure our household feels comfortable with open communication.

The exchange students we've hosted have been incredible. They've taken the roles of big brother or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

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Establishing house rules with Laura (she’s 16) has made me more comfortable about talking to my kids in the future. Something I’ve learned is that every exchange student we’ve had has been different. Jaime, our exchange student from last year, was very easy going and he’d hang out around the house on any given night. With Laura, she is constantly at a friend’s house after school, then someone else’s, and finally sleeps over at another friend’s with her group of girlfriends often.

Having Laura around has taught us the importance of having rules and being very clear with expectations and being consistent with our parental behavior. This is crucial because I know my younger kids are observing what she can and can’t do and they will eventually, follow suit.

The exchange students we've hosted have been incredible. They've taken the roles of big brother or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

It’s important to me that my kids observe that I am consistent with Laura and with them so that they know what to expect when they are a little older. Talking to our kids early about alcohol is working to protect them against drunk driving and underage drinking; most importantly, parents are the leading influence in a child’s decision to drink – or not to drink.

The exchange students we've hosted have been incredible. They've taken the roles of big brother or big sisters to our kids and become a part of our family.

Spreading the word about the importance of talking to our kids is why I’ve partnered with Responsibility.org for the last two years. I hope as parents we can feel that our kids are safe when they are away from home and that they will feel comfortable speaking with us about any sticky situation they might encounter.

What kinds of conversations do you have with your older kids so they understand their impact on the younger ones?

 

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No Two Drinks are the Same

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. Thank you for supporting my work.

 

When I tell people that I live in New Orleans, they immediately share how much they love its food, people, and the culture. It’s certainly a city like no other and one that can charm one forever.

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7 Having partnered with Responsibility.org and their #TalkEarly program this year has helped me find the best strategies to cope with stress without relying on alcohol to wind down at the end of the day.

Surviving The Holiday Hustle

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. Thank you for supporting my blog!

 With holiday obligations marked all over our calendars, there are plenty of reasons for us to get stressed about – the gifts we are still endlessly searching for, the ones that need to be wrapped, letters to Santa need to be written and mailed in time, cookie exchanges, and parties. But for many of us, the biggest stress of all are the family obligations and the burden of continuing on traditions.

Having partnered with Responsibility.org and their #TalkEarly program this year has helped me find the best strategies to cope with stress without relying on alcohol to wind down at the end of the day.

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