Ode to Silk

As you may know, April is National Poetry month. An even more obscure fact? I have actually published a poetry book that you have not purchased because you obviously don' t want me to feed and clothe my child. But, I digress. Where was I? Ah, yes...Poetry. I was asked to creatively chat with you about Silk. I could go and on and and on about it but in lieu of April, I give you a poem.

#TasteSilk

Oh Silk, oh Silk! I'm so glad I found you!

I remember it well when my boobs started to dry

I looked & I searched for a tasty replacement

but when she wouldn't take it, I sat down to cry.

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Then one day out the blue, Dom casually mentioned

that Very Vanilla would sure do the trick

Are you serious man? Would she drink this for real?

If not, I assure you I was sure to get sick.

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Off I went to the store, perusing the shelves

Then I found it and ran all the way home

While I was at work one spring morning it happened

Silvia decided to give the frog princess some.

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Oh Silk! Oh Silk! You saved my child's life

By replacing the breastmilk she exclusively knew

A man gave me advice & it was actually solid

I'm forever indebted & he's now part of my crew.

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I tell all who listen that I weaned with some Silk

Though lately I've found something special for me

Ice lattes in the fridge for this mami to drink

Oh Silk, oh Silk this is how it should be!

I'm not sure if this is awesome poetry. But I do know that Silk is awesome! I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have found Silk when I did. We had tried regular milk but the frog princess refused it. With the stress of my mom passing away, my anxiety grew that I would be unable to provide the milk that she needed. Though she was eating at the time, I still felt it was important for her to nurse. Silk gave me peace of mind and gave her a yummy bottle when the time came to wean. By the way, she weaned herself.  At 16 months. Don't get me started because I was heartbroken. Now that I think about it though, I wonder if she weaned because she preferred the Very Vanilla Silk over me! Travesty! Anywho, it's that good.

Also, now they have these yummy iced latte situations that I adore. I'm always running around with 32 different things going on at once. There are some days I don't want to have to go put coffee on (I'm old fashioned and use a percolator y'all!). Having Silk Iced Latte in the fridge (I'm loving the mocha flavor) makes my life easier when I need a yummy treat. PS: feel free to throw this in a blender with some ice and caramel for an extra delicious treat.

Have you had this yumminess? How do you drink your Silk?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Mental Mucinex: 5 Tips to a Decongested Life

When Mucinex approached me about tips to keeping a clear head while balancing a hectic schedule, I gladly accepted, seeing that I always seem to know how to keep my cool. Then I laughed because I couldn't get through that last sentence without snorting my coffee out and I was sure there’d been a mistake. Here’s a rundown of my mornings:

  1. Wake up
  2. Sing the good morning song to the frog princess
  3. Get breakfast for her
  4. Reminder her at least 32 times to eat her breakfast
  5. Pack her lunch
  6. Brush her teeth
  7. Get her in her uniform
  8. Comb her hair
  9. Grab my phone, purse, lunchbox, backpack and kid before leaving the house

That’s kinda what the routine looks like. All before 8:15. Some days it’s okay and some days? Not so much. Last week we had a meltdown due to soggy Cheerios. Seriously. Because that’s how we roll around here.

When I get back home, the rush really begins. Because the countdown clock to pick up time ticks off. While my baby girl is in school, I must also go to school. Two courses this term, plus writing posts, engaging my readers and brands in social media, tweaking any issues with the blog, marketing my business, helping people out, going to appointment with prospects, chat with close family and friends, remember to eat somewhere in there oh and, don’t forget to pick something to cook for dinner.

To say my life is somewhat…congested would be the understatement of the year (I bet this statement would hold true til December 31). I’ve been accused of having ADD. But I think maybe it’s just there’s a ton going on. I’m a multi-tasker. And in order to keep myself from getting burned out, I need to have a few things in place. I call these my mental Mucinex (you know, to get rid of all the gunk and congestion in my brain).

  1. Believe it or not, the first thing I need is an decongested house. Specifically a decluttered bedroom. I know, I know, sounds all feng shui and whatnot but it’s true. Having a clean and clear space means that I end up with a clean and clear mind (well, as clear as it’s going to get).
  2. Write it Down – I keep my handy dandy momAgenda with me at all times. Making sure I write down anything that needs to be done lest it be forgotten throughout the day.
  3. Write it Down some more – I also keep lists in OneNote. It’s helpful because while I adore writing in my planner, I spend so much of my time in front of the screen that it’s just easier to open up a list and type away. The key to keeping multiple lists though is to create a system. MomAgenda has that area at the bottom for “kids”. I use that space for my classes, my blog and any other major projects I have going on. Then I get finite lists going on zenMami since I’m usually executing while typing away.
  4. Breathe – I know this sounds like common sense but, it’s not. So many times I’m running around trying to do something and realize, I’m holding my breath. Stress will do that to you.
  5. Along with breathing, I’ve been doing this “little things” exercise (gratitude journal, One Thousand Gifts). We have so many awesome things in our lives and yet at times when life is going 100 miles per hour, we forget that. I find that focusing on the little things, finding beauty and joy in the small moments around you can lead to taking a deep breath which leads to me being calm, cool and collected on hectic days.

Things aren’t always going to go the way we plan. But the older wiser I get the more I realize that sometimes, we take ourselves too seriously. In five years, will you even remember this hectic day? Probably not.

But I guarantee that keeping your life decongested will mean you have more time for what truly matters. The thing that breathes life into your world. Whatever that might be.

Now if you'll excuse me, I really have been dealing with congestion and sinus issues and yes, I've totally been digging into my Mucinex supply because it helps with the sinus pressure and that not-so-sexy mucus that sits at the back of your throat.

Balancing a hectic schedule is hard enough. Trying to keep it together when you're under the weather requires additional help. Maximum Strength* Mucinex® Sinus-Max™ Pressure & Pain triple action formula fights mucus, congestion, sinus pressure and headache/pain.  With cold and flu season in full force, I am relieved to know that even my worst symptoms can’t derail my plans.

* Per 4-hour dose

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mucinex. The opinions and text are all mine.

Carols vs. Parrandas

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I miss parrandas. If you don’t know what they are, they are carols in Spanish. But, not really. The difference between them are stark. First of all, when I think of carols I think of a group of people perhaps wearing Christmas sweaters, singing Carol of the Bells and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

When I think of parrandas, this is what I picture:

There’s an actual parranda song that basically states: open the door, feed me and give me rum. Um, yeah, just a tad bit different than carols. In the song they sing above, there’s actually a line in it that says “if you don’t give me something to drink, I’ll cry”. Don’t get me wrong, these are my type of carols! But they are slightly different, don’t you think?

They’ve always gotten me in the mood for Christmas. But there’s a catch. Did you see how many people were out there singing? There’s a well-known fact that some people will tag along a parranda, without an instrument and not knowing how to sing for one simple reason: the food.

I’m thankful that when I’ve been accosted visited in the past, I’ve gotten a heads up. This is necessary because these people will show up at your house at 10:30 and 11 o’clock at night (if you’re lucky. I’ve had people at my doorstep at midnight)! No way you’re going to let them sit out there making noise and possibly having the cops called on them. This is what they are counting on. How else will they get in your house to drink your rum and eat your food. Pretty cool, eh?

This year, I was ready for them. But, I’m kind of glad they didn’t come because this crockpot chicken enchilada soup was gone well before 9 p.m.

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I would love to take full credit for this recipe but, the credit goes to Skinny Taste and the pin I was blessed to come across a few months back. What I will take full credit for is the addition of one entire Avocado from Mexico (you’re welcome!) and the bed of rice I put this bad boy onto. I love that I can have it as a topping or as a soup. And even better? It’s perfect for those chilly nights in the winter.

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup © Skinnytaste.com Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups + cheese • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 7 pts Calories: 260.9 • Fat: 6.6 g • Protein: 25.4 g • Carb: 29.9 g • Fiber: 6.7 g • Sugar: 4.1 g Sodium: 572 mg (without salt)  Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, for topping
  • 3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • fat free sour cream (optional)

Directions: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Pour into crock pot. To the crockpot, add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir.Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste. Serve in bowls and top with fat free sour cream, cheese, scallions and cilantro.

I cut up an entire avocado, sprinkled it with adobo and then made sure that with each bite of my soup, I savored a piece of avocado. I ate so much I spent the rest of the evening on the couch, unable to breathe and yet wanting more.

I know Christmas is about giving so, I did share my soup although if some parranderos would’ve shown up at my doorstep, I would’ve gladly called the cops on them myself so that I could ensure leftovers. Thankfully, if they show up now, I can head over to the Posadas recipes page where celebrity Chef Pepín shares some of his favorite recipes.

Have you ever been part of a parranda or posada? Have you ever been visited by one?

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Avocados from Mexico (which should totally send me a case for, um..review) and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions and thoughts are my own and the yummy recipe is Gina's from SkinnyTaste.com. 

Mami Swagger: It's All About the Clothes #pvBody

I found a great yoga studio to go relieve some stress. It’s been on my to do’s for…ever. Now, I can head over looking adorable and like a professional workout girl. Not with my yoga pants that I wear every day and might be falling apart have had for a long time. (pv body image)

Enter pv Body. I’m sure you’ve heard about these sites for shoes and for kids’ clothes. But finally, we have something for us mamis that no longer feel like ordering 4” heels every month. Workout clothes!

With a short survey, pvBody figures out what you like and who you are. I’m thankful that they did not ask me how many times I actually work out or how often I wear yoga pants WHILE doing yoga. I’m sure their assessment of me would’ve been different. But as it stands, here’s the deal:

I like pastel tops and maybe some patterns. I prefer tank tops and I like solid black pants though they gave me the option to like black pants with a touch of color which I thought was nice. I’m thinking about going back and giving my preference to racer tops after seeing this one.

(razor back)

 

And with that knowledge, they have labeled me a wellness warrior. Yay!

(wellness warrior)

 

I think this describes me pretty well though I’ll admit, I’m working on the serene part. I cannot wait to step into the yoga studio with this little outfit!

(my outfit)

 

One short survey and voila! Easy peasy lemon squeezy: pvBody is easy. Take the quiz, sign up and boom, an awesome package arrives at your door each month with a hand picked outfit for you!

Every outfit is styled just for you by a pvBody expert. Each month you receive an outfit worth $150, but you pay just $49.95. You’re getting great, quality pieces for a fraction of the retail cost thanks to the relationships pvBody has built.

pvBody is not just another clothing company, but a lifestyle brand. Their blog is a great place to check out tips and tricks for healthy, delicious meals and at home workouts.

And because I can’t just tell you about something without giving you a little incentive, signing up for pvBody gets you a $15 Lululemon gift card, plus 25% off your first month subscription! So tell me, what kind of

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of pv.body. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Chancleta Chronicles: How I Handle Pests

When the frog princess started noticing bugs, I would have to remind her that bugs are our friends and she should not be afraid. I didn't want her to run scared from every critter she saw. To reinforce this notion, I enlisted Miss Spider and her friends and family at the Sunny Patch. As I type this, the frog princess sits next to me singing the theme song which ends in "be good to bugs". I try to live by this motto. Unless you're a roach. Or a spider. Or a fire ant. Or a fly.

Yeah okay so, maybe I don't live by that motto. My motto is more"if you're in my territory you must die". I am the killer. I am not afraid. I'm the one that can swat, spray and generally demolish any creature that crawls (except snakes but that's a different blog for a different day). My preferred method: la chancleta (aka the flip flop)!

Except that I have one problem. I can't seem to kill in front of the frog princess. I will usually identify the target and then I will distract the frog princess while I handle the issue. In Florida, this means that I am trying to capture and destroy palmetto bugs (aka big roaches). I hate them. I think they are yucky and disgusting and must be destroyed if I find them in the house. I have nightmares that they will start flying (did you know some of them fly?) and attack me while I sleep.

I've also become increasingly concerned with spiders. While I can appreciate Ms. Spider's caring nature and the fact that she has adopted all those other bugs, two words always come to mind now that I have a child: brown recluse.

Have you seen the yucky open wounds that this spider can cause? Don't look it up because you can't unsee that! So, while in the past I would simply state to the spider "go about your business and I will allow you safe passage in my home" (this is what happens when one grows up reading Charlotte's Web) I now will seek and destroy all 8 legged creatures near and far.

Also, I have a thing about killing flies. I blame The Karate Kid. Mr. Miyagi looked all cool and zen doing it. Now when a fly enters my house, I grab my bandana, my chopsticks, my chancleta and get to becoming one with the lack of buzzing. Seriously, the flies would be okay if they just learned to stop buzzing while inside. I don't know about you but it drives me nuts!

But, I am tired of trying to hide my kills. Especially after the rains in Florida and me scouring the house trying to figure out entry points. It's a never ending battle. I have to distract the kid while I plan on destroying and let's not forget cleaning up. The other day I pounced on a palmetto bug that oozed white intestines or something and it was just yucky. And who has time for that when I have cookie dough to sell for the kid (can I interest you in a tub)? So I'm biting the bullet and getting a pro to come in and handle all this killing.

The next issue is who? And where do I start? Enter Pest World (thank you Geezus)! PestWorld.org is your go-to resource for everything you need to know about bugs, rodents and other household pests. You can identify your infestation, find helpful prevention tips, pest photography and videos, educational articles on a variety of pest topics, and more. Not only can I find out way more information about pests than I care to (but really, you can't help yourself. I'm currently studying the stink bug!) but you can find some pest control folks in your area.

In the fall, pests often enter our homes seeking shelter from colder weather, so it's important to take steps to pest-proof your home. Pest issues are better handled by licensed pest professionals. They have the knowledge, training and tools to properly identify a pest species and recommend ways to safely remedy an infestation before it becomes a serious problem.

You can find a pest professional in your area by entering your zip code in the Find a Pro database on PestWorld.org: http://www.pestworld.org/find-a-pest-control-professional/.

I'm looking forward to giving my chancleta a rest and letting the professionals handle this while I enjoy baking cookies thanks to all this cookie dough that's about to grace my fridge.

Are you scared of creepy crawlies? How do you deal with them?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the National Pest Management Association. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sobrecitos Con Sabor

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(packets with flavor)

I recently realized that I Instagram, Pin and Tweet a lot about food. It doesn’t come as a surprise although I must admit I don’t blog about it as often as I’d like (possibly because I’m usually busy stuffing my face).

Food is a biggie in my house (once we got past the passive aggressive fight to gain control of the kitchen). This week, I got a chance to show Papi something he didn’t know about. And let me tell you, he gave me the high eyebrows head nod which is pretty darn good.

See, Papi has always loved cooking. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say that he doesn’t cook with bouillon cubes because he has no patience for those things to dissolve. So when I heard about these new Mazola® Sobrecitos™, I had to try them.

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I didn’t want to try them on traditional dishes (well, I did but I wanted to come up with something more).  See, I like the flavors of these sobrecitos. And, while I liked the flavors of the cubes in the past, I had a lot of limitations (like, it had to be something that would let the cubes dissolve).

This time around, I drizzled my macaroni and crab salad with a packet of the chicken flavor and it was genius if I do say so myself!

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This was the only picture I was able to capture of the salad. Alas, I made the mistake of thinking I could eat before setting up for a photo. By the time I went back, this salad had pretty much disintegrated in the tummies of those I love. I actually boiled the pasta with a little of the powder first to get that flavor right in to the macaroni. Seasoning my salad with the rest of the powder just brought out such a good flavor. Not too salty and full of flavorful.

Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with just this so, when I made black eyed peas the other day, I used a sobrecito and again, it delivered. Both in flavor and in ease-of-use. Side note, what’s the Spanish translation for black eyed peas where you’re from?

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Maybe it’s the fact that Mazola® Sobrecitos® are made with natural sea salt or maybe it’s that I don’t have to stand in front of the stove either 1. stirring the pot in hopes that the cube has dissolved and praying that if it hasn’t it doesn’t end up in my plate or 2. hunting for said cube with one spoon so that I can smash it with a second spoon. Really? Do we have to do all this work for the flavor? I can now answer a resounding no to that!

Back to Papi. I was telling him about this because I was sautéing (guizando) some chicken for him and I added el sobrecito de tomate (I love that they have the “traditional” chicken flavor and this). Of course, he wanted to know what it was that I’d just sprinkled in to the pan. Not only did it give it just the right flavor I was looking for but it added a nice red glow to the chicken. Again, I’m a horrible blogger for not having perfectly plated food but, I did not learn from the macaroni salad experience and by the time I ate, got the frog princess bathed and in bed, all that was left was the empty pan.

Needless to say, these have become the go-to flavor in my kitchen. I’m happy to say that I caught Papi using a chicken-flavored Sobrecito yesterday. He was making a pot of beans. And again, he gave me the high eyebrows nod which for him, is the ultimate hats off to another cook.

Are you ready to try these yummy Sobrecitos for yourself to see if you agree?

Enter below for a chance to get your very own Mazola® Sobrecitos® AND a $25 Walmart gift card! You should also share your dish with me. That'’s not a requirement, per se but, it would be a nice thing to do for me if you win. Don’t you think?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Mazola® Sobrecitos®. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Life Happens: Fireworks Fail

If I had a filing cabinet for moments, I’d file this under: FAIL! Fireworks_Fail

Let me take you back to July. I want to take you specifically to July 4th. It was a beautiful day and the (ex)man and I had been planning to spend a little time with the frog princess enjoying those all-American traditions on Independence Day. BBQ, family, fireworks and oh yeah, post traumatic stress disorder!

I went over to my girlfriend’s house for some BBQ. She has twins 6 months apart from the girl so, it’s always a good play date moment. After which, we packed up the fruit of our loins to what was sure to be the bestest 4th of July they had ever had!

SparklersInstead of heading downtown, we decided to head to a neighborhood on the east side of town which we had strategically planned would be more accessible to us after calculating crowd size, the approximate wind speed, time of sunset, rotation of the earth around the sun, snack requirements, water level intake needed and the exact amount of ice cubes it would take us to maintain cool water levels in our water bottles. We are detailed like that. This bunch of four professionals, critical thinkers and overall smart folk.

We found a spot around the lake that would accommodate the size of the blanket we had brought along with our toddler accoutrements. Then…we waited. While we waited we saw people around us with children. Some with pets. But the majority of them looked over to us and chatted amongst themselves. Of course they did! Have you seen how adorable our kids are?! They would be crazy not to look at us! This is what we were thinking. What fools we were.

Twins ReadingKissing Mami

I saw the barge across the small man-made lake and remembered how close we were to the old neighborhood. How cool it was because we used to just be able to see the fireworks from our backyard. And still, no warning lights went off in my head.

As the barge moved to the middle of the lake we got excited and sat the kids on our laps. Only then did we look at one another and whisper in a questioning form “do you think it will be too loud for them?”. By the time the additional algorithms were worked out in our collective heads about how even a mile down we could HEAR the fireworks as well as see them. How we were not even 100 yards from the center of the lake and perhaps, how loud it would become. It was too late.

Instantaneously we realized that perhaps those people were not looking at us marveling over the intelligence and beauty of our tiny brood. That they were sitting there either laughing at us or with their cell phones on speed dial to the local DCF office to report the child abuse that surely took place a nanosecond after that first explosion burst in the air.

Have you seen scared children? Have you felt them? Do you know how quickly they can cling to every thread of your being for sweet, dear life? How their eyes go wide with shock at the sight of what surely is some sort of alien invasion taking place in the middle of this fine day. These canons firing cannot be for friendly entertainment! Oh no, we must be under attack!

With THREE kids clinging to us for dear life and speaking in incoherent urges to get them out of there we packed up our cozy camp in…5 popping of fireworks in the air. I have no idea how we trekked from the sides of the lake up to the street and away from the fireworks. What I do know is that everyone around us was staring. It was almost as if the show before them was way better than the show of color and shapes above them.

The word embarrassing doesn’t even begin to cover what we felt as we scurried down the street while people watched us along the way. But more than that, we were horrified at ourselves for our lack of common sense. WHO in their right minds would take a child so close to fireworks? Who?! Tell me! We beat ourselves up as we walked. While pointing the finger at one another. Laughing at times because, what else are you going to do? Hoping that no one in the crowd recognized us so that we could remain the anonymous bad parents who were not even awake when they came up with the bright idea of sitting their naïve children in front of the lake only to watch them suffer the consequences of those bright ideas.

I still can’t believe we did that! Oh. Em. Gee. I remember my girlfriend saying: they thought it was Vietnam or something. Seriously, the kids were simultaneously in shock and despair. One of them wasn’t even talking. She was just looking up at us and looking up at the fading sparkles in the sky with one question in her eyes: why?!

We thought the same thing, folks. And the truth is, we don’t have an answer. We just wanted our kids to enjoy a nice day out as we celebrated our country. Instead, we have the beginning of the therapy bill.

More horrifying than this story? When we took the frog princess to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the recollection of guilt was non-existent as we parked the stroller in front of Cinderella’s castle waiting for, guess? FIREWORKS! Yes, we had to make a mad dash exit out of there too. Do you know how difficult it is to make a mad dash through sitting throngs of people awaiting the Magic? Let me tell you, you don’t wanna know!

In other news: I’ve taught the frog princess how to say regression therapy in the hopes to expedite the process when she does begin her sessions. Dear therapist, you’re welcome!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All embarrassing moments are, sadly, my own. That being said, I really want to urge you to visit The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers make smart insurance decisions to safeguard their families’ financial futures. While it is not something that we ever want to discuss, one of the ways in which I feel we love those around us is by having things in order should “life happen” and something irreversible takes place. Having had to deal with the paperwork, planning and sorting after mami’s passing, I know all too well the importance of having your affairs in order.

I hope that this story made you laugh a little and I also hope that you stop by Life Happens and read up on how you can help bring a little peace to your family.

Have you had an embarrassing moment (feel free to top mine so that I can feel better)?

In honor of Life Insurance Awareness Month, the nonprofit LIFE Foundation is giving away great prizes for the best Life Happens moments. You can enter the contest any time before Friday, October 7th. Make sure to encourage your friends and family to vote for your story as the Life Happens moments with the most votes will win (voting ends Friday, October 14th). First place will receive an Apple iPad® , second place will receive a $350 Apple gift card and third place will receive a $150 Amazon gift card.

Life Happens. And while you can’t control the future, you can take steps to protect the good things in life. Take a look around The LIFE Foundation website and learn more about how life insurance can help safeguard a secure financial future for those you love.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The LIFE Foundation. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Contest Rules

A is for Avocado

If you have been following me on Pinterest or Instagram you know that I have a certain...affinity for avocados.

I have a confession to make: I bought my first house because it had an avocado tree out back and the lady told me that it was 6 years old (avocado trees usually don't give fruit until its 7th year). Let me tell you, I was disappointed. It only gave one that following year and I couldn't eat it because it fell out of the tree and got bruised.

Where does my obsession come from?  As a child, I would spend every summer in the Dominican Republic. A week or two after school closed I was on a plane headed to the island. Two things in season during that time that I adore: avocados and passion fruit but, that's another story for another day.

In DR, they serve avocados con la comida, at noon, which is typically the big meal of the day. Either by itself or over a salad. So, my love for the fruit started early. Now, as summer approaches, this thing I never remember is there, arises. I begin to gently prod the fruits at the supermarket, anxious to find one that's ripe.

It rarely happens which makes me sad. But, do you know how to ripen an avocado? I do! I throw that bad boy into a paper bag and wait overnight. Sometimes it takes 2 nights but, that's ok! When you press on the avocado, you should feel a little give. It shouldn't feel too hard. This is an art that you may initially fail at but, just keep trying.

I have a very specific way that I love to eat avocado. Abuela used to make it this way and so did mami. Recently I discovered that the frog princess has the same love of avocado that I do. I will be very honest with you, I'm a little saddened by that. Not because I don't wish to pass on my traditions but because who wants to share their avocado?

I'm an avocado hog. I have been known to eat an entire avocado all by myself! Don't get me started! This is the problem, I make the avocado too yummy to pass up and everyone that eats it falls in love with it. I'm starting to reconsider this recipe as I write this out.

This recipe is so simple that you may be thinking is that it? Shouldn't there be more? And there can be. Throughout the years, I have added things to this at my leisure, created new dishes and enhanced the flavors. This is the base of my avocado love:

That's it! The beauty of it is this though: sometimes, I add tomatoes and onions to the mix. Or cheese (feta makes it betta!).  Other times, this goes into a bowl with greens for a delicious salad (and maybe an egg on top).  And if you take this with the tomatoes and onions and throw it into some Cuban bread you will have the bestest veggie sandwich EVER! If you'd like some meat in it, throw some bacon and make your own BAT!

Most times, I put this concoction on the plate next to my rice and beans and enjoy the tangy taste of lime with each bite of my food. Or next to some yummy soup like this chicken enchilada soup I made in the crockpot (thank you Pinterest!).

This food makes me happy. I am sure it's no coincidence because those summer meant the world to me and I am a firm believer that we tie foods into our feelings. So with each bite of avocado, I feel that my brain connects me to those lazy summers where I would look forward to showering under a rain storm or watching a red sunset from a treetop.

And though I'm not entirely happy that I have to share my avocado now, I felt such a joy when my little girl grabbed her first piece of avocado with her little fingers, put it in her mouth and exclaimed "mami, I like agacate!". It is my hope that when you try the recipe above you'll say the same...

Disclosure: I participated in the #ILoveAvocados campaign thanks to Latina Bloggers Connect and Avocados from Mexico. I was not compensated in avocados (though I am still unsure as to why this isn't happening). All thoughts, memories and hunger pangs are my own.

Mami Reads: Mission Possible

You guys know I love books. When The SITS Girls sent me an email about reviewing Mission Possible I jumped at it for several reasons. I have been giving education A LOT of thought.

Thinking about what type of learning environment the frog princess should be in and then looking at the school system here in Florida has left me feeling slightly defeated and I haven't even started yet! I know a lot of educators and I am always in awe as to how they can work/perform/excel with constant budget cuts and less than ideal situations.

Personally, I don't agree with teaching kids solely to pass a test, which is how I generally feel things are done here. Understanding that I had to find an environment for my child to flourish in but also knowing that my sole responsibility is not just to my own child as I think broadly about my community and country.

Then came this book. I don't even know what to tell you in this post because I starred way too many quotes, way too many principles and way too many discussions to put in here. I'd have to retype the entire book for you! I got a chance to learn about what The Success Academies are doing in NYC and it brought me hope that perhaps the education system will change in order to truly meet the needs of all of our children.

I was educated by the NY Public School System. And I had some pretty awesome teachers. They engaged me, they challenged me and they allowed me to flourish. In 5th grade my teacher realized that I was ahead of the class and I still don't know how this was done but, I was taken to the 6th grade class down the hall one day to see how I would do for a week and I never left. Following that, I went to what was considered a not-so-great junior high school: JHS 164 (aka Stitt Junior High). There I encountered Mr. Banks. But while I excelled in reading and science, I often wondered where my math teachers were. I don't recall much about those classes and sadly, I don't feel I performed up to my potential in mathematics. How could I have one awesome teacher in one or two subjects but mediocre ones in the rest?

I was lucky enough to have had passionate teachers and it made a world of a difference! Mr. Banks could've very easily allowed me to sit and play Karatika or Nerm the Worm in "Technology" class or not let me come in during lunch to dissect kidneys. Instead, he both saw something in me and took an interest in my learning, as did many of my teachers. Ms. Villanueva introduced me to performing and dance and made sure I got my scholarship to Harlem School of the Arts. They exposed me to things that would be so important for my future. Teachers that cared.

I hear a lot more than I'd like to admit about many educators that simply don't care and it saddens me. Why are our teachers stuck? I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a teacher and perhaps that’s the reason why we see such low teacher morale. Also, in other countries, it seems that being a teacher is an esteemed profession.  I feel that at times, we don’t treat our teachers with the regard that we should. But it’s also a two-way street.

If teachers are in this type of environment where they are empowered to both learn AND teach things would be different. I still feel that we have a lot of people going into this field to get a paycheck. I guess that will always happen but I feel it is imperative for us to hone in on those that have a gift for teaching. To hold on to them and make sure that we give them the tools that they need so that they can pass it on to our kids.  Somehow we need to instill respect for the profession again. I think that an environment like Success Academy is a great start.

This book is written by Eva Moskowitz, the founder of Success Academy Charter Schools and Arin Lavinia who designed and developed THINK Literacy.

Mission Possible tells the story of why this school had to come into existence, how they turn a school into a place where children WANT to be, who contributes and is benefited and more. The book brought a DVD that’s packed with interviews and snippets from the examples and stories told in the book. In it you see the teachers engaged and excited to be there. This environment certainly brings the best out of the teachers and vice versa. It was exciting to simply watch the engagement and discussion. I can’t imagine what it’s like to actually be there. It made me want to get up and teach!

I want everyone to read this book. Unlike Oprah, I can’t pass out my favorite things BUT I can pass out ONE of them to ONE of you. So, check out the giveaway below.

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions and giddiness about how the education system can really work for and provide a brighter future for our children are completely my own.