Monday, April 29, 2013

Gap Year or Not? I FINALLY have an Answer

After much consideration, thinking, flow charts, google searches, and lists I have decided to take some time off between my undergrad and graduate studies.

I already decided to extend my undergrad studies another semester-which I'm sure I'll whine through the whole time- and feel that taking some time off will be best.

Since the age of 15 I have been a student parent. The constant morning shuffle, careful planning, baby sitter scouting, missed deadlines, and exhausted evenings have gone on for almost ten years, with about a years break during.

The truth is I'm tired. I want to take time for my family, myself, and my career before starting my graduate studies.

A graduate program is a lot of work and then add the stressors I have to consider when applying to schools. I can't and I won't put myself through all of that while still completely classes, parenting, and everything else during the summer.

So as of now. I am taking a gap year between my undergraduate and graduate studies and I'm... Working on being okay with my decision.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Little Passports Brings Traveling Right into Your Families Home

Our Little Passports are HERE! Wonder where we are going! 
One thing Leilani and I have very much in common and can not deny is our nomadic souls.

Our dream is to travel the world after I finish school and just enjoy what the world has to offer and try to learn more about the world and it's beauty in the process. Often times we will Google phots and videos of places we dream about going to or play on Google Planet and explore Earth and other planets in the galaxy.

However, one new way we have been exploring the world is with Little Passports. Little Passports is an online subscription based game that shows you and your little ones the world right in the comfort of your home.

Sam and Sophia are your adventure guides and every month they travel to a new destination complete with all new adventures, facts, and games. You can choose between a global adventure or a national adventure and both are informative, educational, and fun for children to take part in.

Upon first siging up you receive a suitcase, stickers, a passport, and booklets to help bring your adventure into your home via the screen and tangible fun activities to complete at home.
Online children are able to complete puzzles, trivia, and learn interesting facts about countries you may not know. At home with their suitcase families can read the books together, decorate their suitcase, and stamp their passport just like any other avid world traveler!

Sam and Sophia's Little Passport adventures are so much fun because they make non-fiction material into something fun and engaging that all children want to be a part of.

Leilani and I enjoy our Google travel sessions but Sam and Sophia are definitely part of the adventure now too. Leilani also likes to pretend that she is on a secret agent assginment when she plays with her Little Passports.
You can also really get the whole family into it by cooking a traditional dish from each new place you visit for dinner! 

Below you can find more information on how and where to sign up you and your family for this travel adventure!

If you select Little Passports USA Edition, every month Sam, Sophia, and your family will visit two states in the United States and receive activities in the mail to supplement your cross country adventure!

If you select the Little Passports World Edition you will visit a different country every month!

You can find Little Passports online at their websiteTwitter, and Facebook be sure to connect with them as they provide wonderful information about travel, giveaways, and updates on Sam and Sophia too! Don't forget to sign up for their newsletter at Little to get special promotions, fun facts, and activities right to your email inbox BEFORE everyone else!

So tell me, if you could go ANYWHERE in the world where would it be?

This review opportunity is presented by Mami Innovative Media and on behalf of Little Passports.  
However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

TMNYC TV: Melani Watkins MD. Teen Mom to Medical Doctor

Melani Watkins is the reality of teenage pregnancy that many fail to realize because they are too busy believing societal stereotypes about teenage parents.

Dr. Watkins became pregnant before her senior year of high school, dealt with obesity, domestic violence, a low self esteem, living on and off campus with her son as a single mother, the financial hardships of not only raising a child but raising a child while paying for school related fees as well as paying the bills.

However with much determination, hard work, conviction, and help from amazing kind hearted people who saw her as a hard working student and parent instead of a societal burden Melani Watkins graduated Dr. Melani Watkins from Sanford Medical School.

After reading her amazing and riveting book, Taking My Medicine, Dr. Watkins sat down with me and did an interview to answer questions about life, love, school, and some hard decisions she had to make in life.

PLEASE pick up Dr. Watkin's book, Taking My Medicine. I promise you will NOT be upset you did!
You can find Dr. Watkins online on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce

Quick finish this sentence I loooove fettuccine _____!
The sauce is so good and creamy and just delicious right?

Unfortunately, it's also not too healthy and very fattening especially when it's from a jar, which is where most of us get our Alfredo sauce from.

However, the other day I was on Instagram and saw someone post a healthier version of an Alfredo sauce made out of avocado.

Let me be the first to tell you I used to HATE avocado as a child but now I love them! There are super healthy and versatile as this recipe proves.

To make healthy homemade avocado sauce you'll need:

  • An avocado
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Plain soy/ almond milk ( or regular milk)
  • A lemon/ lemon juice
  • One tooth of minced or crushed garlic
  • Salt
  • pepper
  • Olive oil
  • A blender

Place the peeled and pit free avocado in the blender, add garlic SLOWLY, quarter cup of plain Greek yogurt, table spoon of olive oil and blend until smooth. Add in milk to make consistency smoother.

You will have to scrap the sides and bottom to make sure all of the ingredients and equally blended.

Add salt and pepper to your liking and enjoy!

*garlic is a great healthy spice but a very strong one too. Make sure to add it at your liking. I love garlic and the first time I made the sauce it was way too garlicky*

Turn your avocado "Alfredo" sauce into a dressing by adding vinegar to it and enjoy it on a salad. You can also use it as a dressing for a sandwich.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Easy Way to Turn Your Passion into a Career

In an ideal world everyone would work at a job they enjoy, doing things that they enjoy doing.

Unfortunately, this isn't the case but fortunately it CAN be.

How often do we say we'll do *that* when the time is right, have more time, and or tomorrow? ALL the time! Which sucks.

A while ago I went to an event about turning your passion into a career and the one thing I really took away from it was, start now.

If you work at a fast food place but really want to be making films do both! Start writing the script to the film, start shooting videos of simple things like a get together with friends and family and edit it to a great video. Once you start practicing your dreams and goals they become a reality.

If you are making films but really want to be a chef be the chef of your film screenings! Have friends over for dinner parties/ tastings of a new recipe.

Start now!
Start today!

When you show yourself you are serious about making your dreams a reality others will take you seriously. You'll be surprised how the world will open up to you when you are on the path you are meant to take/ create!

We are human. We are multi-dimensional. We have the capability and the amazing ability to do several things at once. Make one of those many things something that makes you happy and happy about your future.

So what is your dream? When are you going to start and how can I help?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Healthy Snack: Greek Yogurt and Toppings

One of mine and Leilani's favorite healthy or not so healthy( depending how we make it) snack is Greek yogurt with toppings.

Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to traditional yogurts because it has less sugar, less carbs, and more protein than traditional yogurt. Honey also has many health benefits. Like helping reduce cancer and heart disease risk and even helps with cough and sore throats too!

So naturally one of our favorite filling, tasty, and healthy snacks is Greek yogurt-our way.

Start with a plain Greek yogurt, add honey and granola and voilĂ !

You can also make it sweeter with adding dark chocolate chocolate chips, brown sugar, jellies, and dried fruits.

Let me know how you and your family enjoy this snack!

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Worry About Yourself Baby" Has Great Advice For Questions Teenage Parents Get

As teenage parents everything we do when it comes to our lives and the lives of our children is ALWAYS being judged!

Questions like:

  • How old are you?
  • Where is the father?
  • Do you know the father?
  • What age were you when you got pregnant?
  • So... did you REALLY think he would stay with you?
  • and SO many more.

NOW we finally can provide these questions with a very well thought out reply.

Take it away August:

Healthy Homemade Chips and Dip

As some of you may know I am vegetarian.
I often get people asking me for vegetarian recipes so I have decided to start a recipe section on the blog.

First up, Homemade Tortilla/Pita Chips with Greek Yogurt Dip.
Super easy and quick.

You'll need:

  • Baking sheet (or aluminum foil)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic minced *optional
  • Knife

For the dip:

  • Cucumber
  • Scallion/ green onion
  • Pain or vanilla Greek yogurt of your choice

Chop cucumber and scallions into small pieces and mix with a 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.

Preheat oven to 400
Cut tortilla of pita bread into triangles
Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper
Place in oven for 10-15 minutes.

When the chips become golden brown take out the oven and serve.

Let me know how it goes!

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Very Own Telescope?!

Leilani's birthday was nothing short of amazing. 

First, we had a school class party- because we mutually decided that we weren't going to have one at home. 
Her teacher made sure tht the last two hour of the day were for her party and nothing else. So we danced, played games, ate, took pictures, and had copious amounts of candy during that time. 

After class the kids were thanking me and calling me "Leilani's cool mom," which I absolutely LOVE being called Leilani's mom and being called cool doesn't hurt either. ;) 

At dismissal one of her friends who is also in class with her gave her a really nice gift too! 

Her telescope and microscope combo pack came in ON HER BIRTHDAY which I could not have planned any better myself and we were set to see the lion king that night. At this point she had no idea about these two. 

We got home and she asked who the package was for with a HUGE smile on her face. 
She opened it and:
The other surprise was her microscope which she didnt realize at the time. 

Then after eating dinner I told her about The Lion King: 

The whole day she smiled and was super happy and grateful. I kept telling her that this was all happening because a lot of people care about her and because she is such a great person. 

During the lion king we both cried. 

If you think watching Mufasa die on the Disney movie was tough try it with Broadway actors.  Lol. 
Then we got a photo with the actress that played adult Nala, Chantel Riley. She was very kind and a great powerhouse performer. She gave Leilani a huge hug and sang a little happy birthday to her before we took the photo. 

I can not stress enough how amazing and beautiful the whole day was. Seeing Leilani so surprised, greatful, and happy was the best thing ever. 

Again. THANK YOU! I cried throughout the whole day because I could not believe how beautiful my life is. There were times when I could have not imagined this being Leilani's and my life and it is truly amazing. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Leilani's Birthday Helped Me Realize A Lot

The eve of Leilani's birthday I couldn't sleep! Between the anticipation and excitemt of her birthday, the blankets being too hot, and me just thinking about how amazing it is to be the mother of this beautiful and intelligent young girl I was up all night. 

She woke up at 6:20am and we laid in bed together for a bit talking and me telling her about our labor. 

She got dressed for school-channeling a little TGIF Punkie Brewster style-and we were off to school. After I dropped her off I sat down on a bench at the park and just cried. 

I cried happy, proud, excited, and grateful tears. My baby is seven! Seven! 

Because of the beauty in the world- YOU-I was able to make her dreams come true. 

She's seven, she's intelligent, hard working, determined, humble, grateful, and all of the amazing things I couldn't have asked for if I could have "built my own child." 

She teaches me so much about love, life, and living life by ones own terms that it amazes me more and more everyday. I can without a doubt day that I am the parent I am today because of who her.

People always tell me that I must be a great patent to have such a great child but the truth if the matter is our children tell us the parent they need and want. We just have to be willing to listen and answer. 

Leilani is the best student and teacher I could have never asked for. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Family Fun Doesn't Have to be Expensive: Invest in FUN

Having fun with your kids sometimes seems expensive but if you use your money as fun investments it's not expensive. When thinking about family fun think long term and consider these things.

Memberships are by far my favorite! 
They can give you member benefits like trying classes out for free, full access to the center, and even early registration to classes at discounted membership prices. And even summer camps! A tip: when purchasing a membership to a place sometimes if you pay for the tickets and then decide to purchase the membership the place will sometimes put the amount you paid for your tickets towards the membership purchase wthat day. Places that often offer memberships: Zoos, community centers, indoor play grounds, and museums. 
Memberships can be expensive, SOMETIMES. Purchasing them around Christmas or tax season is a great time because you usually have some extra money. Also ASK for them as a gift from family and friends! 

Free days! 
Check out your local museums, zoos, and anywhere else you've been wanting to go and see of they offer free days or hours. If you are in NYC click here for a list of free days around the city. Also check out local community bulletin boards at the grocery store, schools, parks, and the like. They often advertise FREE community family fun events. 

Pack a lunch.  
No matter where you go, pack a lunch and or snacks. A free trip to the park can get expensive if you forget water and food have to go to a drive thru and spend up to $20 on food. 
I find myself packing lunches and snacks whenever we go ANYWHERE more and more because it is just so cost effective! 

Dollar Pins and Stores!
PLEASE understand that this one is DANGEROUS! I can NOT tell you how many times I have went into a dollar store and came out spending $50! $50! That's CRAZZY! and then there are the HORRIBLE (great) dollar pins at Target! UGH! 
Look into the dollar pins for things like art supplies-popsicle sticks, finger paints, crayons, stickers, and Leilani's personal favorite: pipe cleaners and pom poms. This is great for indoor days. Get down on the floor and do some arts and crafts with the kids. The trick is to get little by little if you do not have too much extra cash: Glue and pom poms one day and googly eyes and construction paper the next time. 

Invest in outdoor toys!
After the 15th time of going to the same park it does get boring and then there are times when you just do NOT want to go to the park, outdoor toys are a great solution to both problems. 
Things like chalk, kick ball, jump ropes, basket balls, bubbles and KITES are a few GREAT things to invest in. They can turn a normal trip to the park and your own yard into awesome! 

And always bring a blanket to the park! Since you have your packed lunch and your outdoor toys you can turn the park trip into a picnic fun day complete with kite flying. 

I love kites :) 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Considering My Options as The End of My Undergrad Studies Nears

At the TOP of your game! 

As the end of my undergraduate academic career nears I am realizing that I need to make several key decisions moving forward. I have written about my graduate school anxieties and rambles but first I need to address the close end of my undergraduate struggles. 

If I take summer courses I can finish early in the fall. If I don't I will finish in the spring of 2014. 

Either way I finish but in true Gloria spirit I find myself wanting to rush the process. I find myself hoping to finish in the fall despite how difficult it would be over the summer and the fall. This type of thinking is unfair to Leilani and myself. 

Summer courses are super accelerated and because of this can be very demanding. On top of that, the summer courses I would be taking are mostly at night which doesn't work to well you have a child who depends on you. 

After much consideration I am choosing to forgo my fall completion date and extend my undergraduate studies until spring 2014. 

While finishing early is great. Finishing strong and with the GPA I want-and need for graduate schools-is more important. 

Extending my studies will enable me to spend the summer doing things that I want and need to do. It will enable me to spend more time with Leilani over the summer. It will enable me to take the courses I want and need to to ensure I finish them strong instead of taking courses that I need but will be less desirable and could negatively impact my GPA. 

When making this decision I had to consider many things. 
  • What impact will "just finishing" have on my GPA which will greatly impact my graduate school application process. 
  • If I take summer courses how will I study for the GRE?
  • What impact will a full summer course load have on Leilani and myself? 
  • How am I going to pay for a full summer course load and child care at the same time? 
  • How am I going to be a MOTHER, students, empire builder, an intern all at the same time as attending these classes?
And ultimately what difference does it make if I finish in the fall or the spring? Either way I will graduate and walk Spring 2014! 

A few words that have helped me realize this this week came from many friends and hopefully they'll help you like they helped me. 
  • "You have the rest of your life to do "enough" there is no need to rush."- Jan on Facebook
  • A friend who saw the quote: "the pursuit of happiness is a source of unhappiness."
  • Dr. Acevedo who told me-in a nutshell- to make sure to be aware that I am making a sound decision that is better for myself and Leilani. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Applying to Graduate School Anxieties and Rambles

Gap year or no gap year? That is the question.

A gap year is when a person graduating from one level of school takes a break for a year before going on to complete the next level of education.

I am going to finish my undergrad college degree this fall. Initially I want to go straight into my graduate studies but now I'm freaking out.

Graduate school! Graduate school! I literally have a thousand little spongebobs running around in my head just like this:

Spongebob Brain Fire
 The process and the prospect is scaring the shit out of me!

Yesterday I sat down a visited the websites of all the schools I'm going to apply to and for some I should start applying as early as SEPTEMBER! September! I'll still be struggling through French classes then.

  • That means I have to take the GRE in the summer while taking three courses!
  • That means I may possibly be moving, again!
  • This means I'm growing up even more and it's scary as hell!
  • That I have less time to tour the schools
  • That I need to start talking to more people to help me with the process. People like professors, alum of the schools I want to go to, and faculty and staff at the schools
  • Looking for possible schools for Leilani in ALL these neighborhoods just in case I get accepted, I need to have a general idea about the school districts for her

So while I was feeling my anxiety rising I watched a YouTube video that reminded me of some of the things I want us to do but completely forgot about.

Things like the east coast trip or organic farming for a while or couch surfing the United States or homeschooling for a bit. So I started to miss these dreams and figured a gap year could satisfy some of these dreams.

Now I'm not sure of i'm running from my anxieties and fears surrounding the Graduate school application process (i'm sure I am) or if I need a gap year to "re-charge" considering I've been a student parent since 15.

I guess what is really scaring me is that it's not just me applying to these schools it's me and Leilani.

Please leave some nice words below. I need them right now. hahah

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rhetoric About Teenage Parents

Below is some of the most come rhetoric that I have heard, seen, and experienced for speaking up and out on behalf of myself and teenage parents.

With all of the positive feedback I have received lately I have also received some negative feedback. I feel that I need to address this feedback directly because listening to the arguments made by some people are necessary to address and understand how we can move forward as a society.

Great! You're advocating FOR teenage pregnancy!

I do NOT advocate FOR teenage pregnancy.
That's absurd. Just because I am proud of the person I am, share my story, and hope that my story can help other teenage parents and society understand that teenage parents are not sub human does not mean I advocate for teenage pregnancy.Not addressing the needs of teenage parents and the social problems that lead to it inadvertently encourages teenage pregnancy.

Teaching comprehensive sex education is useless and doesn't fix anything.
...*scratches head* how...?
Youth who receive true comprehensive evidence based sex education are more likely to defer becoming sexually active until a later age. When they do choose to become sexually active they are more likely to practice safe sex, and have less sexual partners in their lives.

Teaching comprehensive sex education introduces youth to sex.

Society, television, grocery store check out lanes, billboards, commercials, and just about everything else introduces sex to children. In a negative way.

Parents and comprehensive sex education should and aught to be there to contextualize these messages children see everyday to help children better understand everything that has to do with relationships, sex, puberty, and sexual health.

Parents are the ONLY ones that should talk to their children about sex.

Parents should be the FIRST ones to talk to their children about sex. Unfortunately, there is no absolute way to ensure they are the ONLY ones talking to their children about the changes a youth's body will undergo, and relationships. The truth is many parents aren't or if they are they may not be doing an effective job.

You are so dumb if you don't know where babies come from, keep your legs closed and you won't get pregnant.

I know where babies come from. I also know sex has the POSSIBILITY of creating babies, what I did not know- because no one talked to me- about it was BIRTH CONTROL.

I also know that it takes a male and female to make a baby so why are you only making sexual health a females sole responsibility with out providing us with enough accurate information, tell us that we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about such things, or stigmatize young people-mostly young girls- as loose, fast, sluts, whores or whatever else when we show an interest in learning about sexual health and an our bodies and WHO'S TALKING TO OUR BOYS!