Back to School Blues

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Carolina ready for school!

Well, I can’t believe summer vacation is over and my baby (8th grader!) returns to school today. Where did the summer go?  I am one of those parents that never likes it when school starts and summer ends (not too sure there are many of us around). Especially living in Florida, where school starts in mid-August. I grew up in NJ, and I always started school after Labor Day. This always made sense to me, as it was September already and the weather had started to cool off a bit. But living in Miami where it is still brutally hot in August, the last thing you want to think about is sending your child back to school, when they should be out swimming. By the way, I’ve never understood why different parts of the country start their school years at different times. And don’t even get me started on year-round schools.  I know many of you will disagree with me, but I’ve always thought that kids need a long summer break, to enjoy family visits with cousins and grandparents, summer camps, vacations, day trips to museums, etc. And for those kids that do enjoy school, after a few months, they’re ready to go back and start the routine all over again.

While I welcome some alone time, I miss my daughter terribly at the start of every school year. And it doesn’t help that we just got back from our family vacation last night (more posts on that trip in the coming weeks). I love the spontaneity of summer and having free time to enjoy with my daughter, whether it be to sleep in late, or spend the day at the beach, without all the schedules. I have never liked schedules. Now mind you, my daughter does not feel this way. While she thoroughly enjoys her summers, she has always loved school too (thankfully). So she’s ready to go back. The back to school blues only affect mom in my family! I reminisce on the great memories we made as a family over the summer…the laughs, the trips to the ice cream shop, the family visits and the late night movie marathons! And every year I realize…one more summer down, not many more to go.

Back to School Blues

So, I would like to remind my fellow parents out there, do not long for school to start because you’re tired and need alone time.  One day, in the blink of an eye, it will all be gone and your school aged kids will have become adults.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the summer with your kids.  How does your family handle back to school time? I’d love to hear!

My Signature

Girl Meets World…

So after watching Boy Meets World, many moons ago, and remembering that it was a very sweet sitcom of the 90’s, I was excited about Disney’s spin-off for my daughter, Girl Meets World, which premiered on the Disney Channel, June 27th.  Although I was not as disappointed as I have been with other Disney shows in the past (click here for my tween TV post), I wasn’t completely impressed either.

Cast of Girl Meets World Photo Courtesy of People.com

Cast of Girl Meets World
Photo Courtesy of People.com

While I love the concept of seeing Cory and Topanga still together as married adults (well, very young adults, they haven’t aged a bit), with their own family, Girl Meets World, is not as innocent.  Cory is now a history teacher at his daughter Riley’s school, so of course he will be dishing out advice just as his mentor Mr. Feeny did on BMW.  But as with Feeny, boundaries are crossed. The conversations and antics that take place in Cory’s classroom, would never occur in the real world. And 12-year-old daughter Riley, is very sassy and a bit disrespectful, however, deep down she likes to do the right thing.

The plot lines are silly (what parent today allows their 12-year-old to ride a NYC subway alone?) and the parents clueless. I had my fingers crossed with this pilot, hoping that it would mimic its predecessor, however, this just felt like yet another new Disney show, with Cory and Topanga as part of the cast.  Having said all this, my daughter thought it was cute, and I’m sure she’ll be watching it again.

Shawn & Cory ; Maya & Riley

Something that Disney will have to work on a bit is the mischievous BFF. While Shawn was the kid from a broken home, with a heart of gold, and an eye for mischief, Maya isn’t a troublemaker from a blue-collar background. Maya pushes Riley in similar ways as Shawn pushed Cory, but Maya is no Shawn! Everyone loved Shawn, while Maya right now just seems to be a very bad influence for what appears to be a kind-hearted Riley. But I’m sure they will develop that storyline some more, and show us why Maya acts the way she does (probably neglected and/or misunderstood by her parents somehow).

Good old Mr. Feeny

My favorite part of the pilot was at the end, when we see Feeny walk out of a stay-in-school poster to offer reassurances to Cory. This made me wonder if Feeny had died at the end of the BMW series, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t. I can only assume that he will be making guest appearances, or maybe even joining the cast later on.  This might actually be a good thing.

I’ll have to give this show a chance and see if Disney redeems itself.  Did you watch the pilot, and if you did, what were your thoughts/impressions?

Don’t Forget Dad

So Father’s Day is rapidly approaching us (in 6 days to be exact). Poor Dad sometimes get the shaft with the school made gifts, since school is usually finished by the time Father’s Day rolls around. Most teachers will prepare something with the kids beforehand, but in case your child’s teacher ran out of time this year, I’ve compiled a short list of cool gifts to purchase, as well as some creative gifts that your kiddos can work on this week and surprise Dad with on Sunday. Homemade gifts are always the most appreciated ones. You don’t have to be particularly crafty either, all you may need is a few supplies, which many of us usually have lying around, and you would be amazed at what you can create!

Gift my daughter prepared at school in 2nd grade for my husband.

Dad’s Day gift my daughter prepared at school in 2nd grade for my husband. Jar full of peanuts with a personalized label, and an attached Father’s Day Poem.

For the Dad that loves candy

Candy Basket with a special message Photo Courtesy of the36thavenue.com

Candy Basket with free printables
Photo courtesy of the36thavenue.com

For ice-cream loving dads (who doesn’t love ice cream?) try eCreamery’s Father’s Day Gift Packs. They offer flavors like World’s Coolest Dad and Dad’s Tub o’ Love and you can get packs of sorbet or gelato as well.

Father's Day Ice Cream Collection Gift Packs Photo Courtesy of ecreamery.com

Father’s Day Ice Cream Collection Gift Packs
Photo courtesy of ecreamery.com

Manly Gift Crates – I love the idea behind ManCrates.com. From the video-gaming dad, to the hunting dad, to the athletic dad, Man Crates has your manly-man covered. These gift bundles are like Christmas-in-a-box delivered to their door!

Legends of Baseball Crate Photo courtesy of mancrates.com

Daddy Days Father Son Activity Jar Photo courtesy of whilehewasnapping.com

Daddy Days Father Son Activity Jar Photo courtesy of whilehewasnapping.com

Mason jar filled with gummies! Photo courtesy of lilluna.com

Mason jar filled with gummies! Photo courtesy of lilluna.com

Father's Day Coupons Photo courtesy of ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com

Father’s Day Coupons Photo courtesy of ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com

Cupcakes for the griller Photo courtesy of spoonful.com

Cupcakes for dads that love to grill Photo courtesy of spoonful.com

Hanging mug necktie cookies Photo courtesy of  semisweetdesigns.com

Hanging mug necktie cookies Photo courtesy of semisweetdesigns.com

Necktie Key Ring Photo courtesy of positivelysplendid.com

Father's Day Treat & Beverage Labels Photo courtesy of elli.com

Father’s Day Treat & Beverage Labels Photo courtesy of elli.com

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads!

Mama & Me Journal

A few months ago, while browsing through Pinterest, I came across a very interesting item…the Mama & Me Journal.  This is basically a composition style notebook that you can create for your child and yourself, to write back and forth to each other, as if you were pen pals.  Sometimes, your child might feel embarrassed or even afraid to talk about some very important topics with you.  That’s why this notebook is perfect; as it allows them the freedom to ask questions or discuss concerns they may be having, (especially during the tough tween/teen years), without having an uncomfortable conversation with you. It’s important for your child to know that this is a private journal that only the two of you will be reading.

Even though my daughter is very open with me and we have some very honest talks, because I’m crafty, I really liked the idea and decided to try it out.  I found a cool pink and black composition notebook at Target, (you can use any type notebook or journal) and then downloaded the label from the original website. I then wrote my first entry, explaining how the journal works, and also as a dedication page.

Luckily, I discovered this project a few weeks before her 13th birthday, so I wrapped it up as one of her presents. She loved it and told me it was her favorite gift of all, and that it meant a lot to her.

For the past few months, we’ve exchanged journal entries. I also sometimes include insightful, interesting articles for girls her age, and I print them out and glue them inside the journal.  So far it’s going really well.  I know that she is enjoying it and I hope that she will look back in the years to come, and remember the things we discussed while she was growing up. Maybe one day she will create a journal for her and her daughter…

Sibling Love

In honor of National Siblings Day, I am dedicating this post to my two beautiful sisters.  I was blessed with wonderful, caring parents, who have worked very hard since they left their native Cuba, so that my sisters and I, always had everything we needed.  Braces, quinceañeras, college educations, weddings, you name it.  But above and beyond all of these material things, they taught us the most important things you can teach your child; love, respect, morals and family values.  My mother always told us that we were each other’s best friends.  My sisters and I have such a strong bond, we touch base almost every single day, either by phone, text, email, etc.  There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for each other, and I know I can always count on them.  I have a few friends who are not close with their siblings, even less with their nieces and nephews?!  I couldn’t begin to imagine what that would be like. Ironically, hubby and I only have one child, our beautiful daughter, Carolina. And while we have also showered her with the same love and values that our parents taught us, sadly, she will never understand the strong bond that exists between siblings.  After all, who else would understand how crazy your parents can get at times, better than your siblings? My sisters and I have very different personalities, and have some very strong opinions (what Cuban gal doesn’t?), but what would I ever do without them…hopefully I will never have to find out.

My sisters and I throughout the years...

My sisters and I throughout the years…

 

 

Tween TV Anyone?

Should an 11 year old be watching Pretty Little Liars?  I don’t think so. I find there is a huge gap in television shows for children between the ages of 5-11.  When our daughter was a tiny tot, she of course used to love to watch Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, and Dora the Explorer, as all toddlers do. But how do you go from Barney to Hannah Montana?  By the age of 5 she liked watching Hannah Montana and the Suite Life of Zach & Cody. However, I didn’t feel comfortable with my 5 year old watching some of the things the kids on these “Disney Channel” shows were talking about, and much less, the way they spoke to their parents.  I found myself constantly telling her that these kids only spoke to their parents this way because it’s a TV show, and that no one does that in real life (sure). My husband would repeatedly tell me that these shows were really inappropriate for such a little girl to watch, but it was a very difficult choice to make.   Anytime we went to Target, Toys R Us or even Macys, there were tons of toys, clothing and DVDs of these programs that she had become familiar with, and that as usual, most of the kids in her school were also watching.  And honestly, she had outgrown Blue’s Clues, and there were no other shows for her to watch.

When I was growing up, I used to watch The Brady Bunch, The Flying Nun, I Love Lucy and The Partridge Family.  These were all very innocent shows, where children acted like children and were not so incredibly disrespectful.  I realize that in today’s world these programs might appear “corny” and very old-fashioned, but at least they were wholesome, and my mother didn’t have to worry about any inappropriate topics coming up.  That’s when I realized that my daughter and her generation were growing up too quickly.  By the time she was nine, she was watching iCarly and The Wizards of Waverly Place.  These were OK; however, Alex Russo is no Jan Brady.

By the age of 11, she started telling me that her classmates were watching Pretty Little Liars, The Secret Life of an American Teenager and Switched at Birth.  These shows all have ratings of TV-14, clearly not appropriate for 11 and 12 year olds.  And don’t even get me started on Gossip Girl!  Once again, I was facing the issue of, “Everyone else’s parents are allowing them to watch”.  Of course I used the old line, “I don’t care what anyone else is doing, only what you’re doing”, and I forbid her to watch these shows.  Luckily, she was content with still watching the Disney channel and its new programs, such as Good Luck Charlie (which is my favorite of all these Disney shows), Shake it Up, and Jessie.  She also loves watching Full House (which she has the entire DVD collection) and old episodes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World.

Jump 2 years ahead and now at the age of 13, she’s really into Dance Academy and House of Anubis on Teen Nick.  I’ve recently allowed her to watch The Fosters on ABC Family, but because it’s rated TV-14, I watch it with her (against hubby’s better judgement).  I’m not thrilled about some of the topics on this show, but at least now I believe she is old enough to understand that life is not perfect, and that these are some real topics that others kids her age face. By watching it with her, she can also ask me questions on topics that may sometimes still be over her head.  I know some of the parents reading this will disagree about The Fosters, and that’s OK.  Only you know what your child can handle, and only you should be making those decisions.

I am not trying to raise my child in a plastic bubble (although I have been accused of that in the past), but I’m also not interested in rushing her childhood.  There is a place and time for everything, and she will soon find this out on her own.  I wish I could tell some of these parents to allow their kids to be kids.  Everyone seems in such a rush these days for their children to grow up.  Maybe it’s different for me, as I only have one, but it puts a smile on my face whenever I catch my daughter truly acting her age.

Now, if we could only bring back shoes like 7th Heaven and The Facts of Life!

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Photo Courtesy of ABC Family