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That’s why it’s called “practice”

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George Carlin said it best, “Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?

I’m not here to bash the medical industry, or to point out what a study found several years ago, that pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than on research and from my many contacts and friends in the medical field.  Nor will I point out that as soon as we saw the commercials for the magic pills that cure everything from being too inactive to being too active many people started shopping doctors, looking for the ones with the loosest scripts.

What I would like to talk about is finding the healthcare that’s right for you, whether it’s just you, your parents or your kids.  You need to have a level of comfort with your doctor.  It’s your body (still right?  that didn’t change overnight did it?), you know how much time/effort you or whomever the patient is able/willing to invest, and there are options.

This is what I mean. Prior to becoming pregnant, I did my annual physical, y ya!  Thankfully there wasn’t more to it, so practically anyone could handle that.  And I hated doctors.  Actually feared them a bit.  Then… I became pregnant and was forced to find a doctor with whom I was going to have a relationship with.  For those of you who haven’t had a baybe, it’s an intimate process.  Plus, for your first pregnancy you have a lot of questions and occasionally those questions, feelings or concerns could sound a little… crazy, so you need an OBGYN that will answer your crazy questions without letting on that he or she is secretly laughing a bit and thinking, “oh those silly 1st timers”.  In my case, I wanted my OBGYN to deliver my babies, versus going to a practice where you are shuffled around from doctor to doctor.  Apparently this is hard to come by, but I persevered. I asked other moms, my regular doctor, other doctors until I found “the one”.  Really, he’s great.  Delivered both babies and even noticed my pedi during delivery 😉

Same with pediatricians.  While still pregnant I started interviewing other parents and my OBGYN for suggestions.  Then I made an appointment with the pediatrician’s office.  Many pediatrician’s offices are accustomed to this, and you really should meet them because when you baby is born or sick, is not the right time to find out you picked a quack – and believe me, they’re out there.  Here are some questions I asked which you may want to consider:

  • Is the pediatrician you’re going to see covered by your insurance? Sometimes the practice is, but not certain all doctors in the practice.  I know, odd, but true.
  • Do they have before/after work appointment times? What about weekends?
  • Is there a charge to page the doctor on call? First time parents, this means that at 1am, when your baby is doing something unfamiliar and you’re not sure whether or not you should freak out you can get in touch with your pediatrician or someone from there to give you advice before you haul yourself to the ER for no reason.
  • Make sure the pediatrician’s beliefs are something that you are comfortable with on topics like antibiotics and vaccines.  Yes, there are standard practices, but trust me, some doctors are waaay more liberal with medicines than others and there are some doctors that agree with spacing out vaccines more than others.
  • What about sick visits? You wake up on Monday morning and your child is sick, can you get a same day appointment?

You want to be sure that you have chosen doctors whose decision you are comfortable with. And no matter what don’t ever hesitate to get a 2nd opinion. Be it for yourself, your children.  It’s your right and well-being we’re talking about here.  Get informed, ask questions and if something doesn’t sound right, get a second opinion!  Doctor’s can be a great ally, but remember, they are people too.  They are not infallible and as one doctor put it, once your out of medical school, it’s hard to stay updated on everything.  And many doctors still don’t prescribe to holistic treatments or CAM‘s, so shop around, the right doctor is out there for you!



A cocinar!

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Ayer a la hora de comida le dije a mi niña que íbamos a comer arroz, “is the rice fresquecito, acabado de hacer?” me pregunta mi niña, a lo cual le respondo que no. Al preguntarme porque, pienso que es porque no tengo tiempo para hacer arroz, porque se me ha atrasado el día, porque todavía tengo una pila de cosas que hacer, porque no me gusta desperdiciar la comida y que calientar al arroz de anoche no tiene nada de malo, pero para hacérselo corto, le digo, “Puedes hacer arroz fresco, o te comes el arroz que ya esta hecho”.

Mi niña es un poquito complicada, me imagino como son muchos niños, y adultos.  Algunas veces me cuesta mucho trabajo para que haga lo mínimo y otras veces se bota y haces cosas que me dejan con la boca abierta.  Anoche fue una de esas ocasiones.  En cambio de alegar, agarro una olla y se puso a hacer arroz!  Claro que la di unos “tips” antes de empezar y le medí la sal, y estábamos juntas, pero ella hizo el arroz y estaba tan orgullosa de su trabajo!!  Esta mama paso su tiempo con su hija admirándola con orgullo, y les sugiero que le den oportunidades a sus niños que hagan más cosas solitos.

Dejen que pasen un poquito de trabajo para que aprenden a agradecer las cosas y para que aprendan a trabajar para alcanzar sus metas.  No todo en la vida es fácil, y prefiero que aprendan estas lecciones conmigo jovencitos de una forma sencilla que cuando estén grandes, en la calle, o en la universidad y se sientan solitos, miedosos y los errores le traigan problemas grandes.  Así que si a los 6 años mi niña cocina el arroz, more power to her!  Es causa para celebrar lo que hizo en cambio de pensar que so una mama mala.  Y si, mi niño cocina también. Todavía no lo hace solito, pero en mi hogar si comes, cocinas.


Frack’s “Big Giant Chicken” – a recipe

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Yes, I can cook.  I can’t bake, but I can cook.  I actually love to cook, and if I had a prep chef and someone to do the dishes for me, I would love it even more!  I also love food.  Really good food.  Some would say I’m a foodie.  And because I love my kids, I’ve shared my love of food with them.  It infuriates me to go to a restaurant and have the waiter immediately tell me about chicken nuggets and hamburgers for my children.  I sincerely believe that feeding kids that processed crap is a form of gastronomic child abuse, wait… do I see a soapbox to stand on?!  Another post for another day…

So here’s the deal.  I have a vegetarian child, and a carnivore child, and my carnivore child Frack looooves him some chickun!  OK, so we all love chickun (except for Frick, she’s a vegetarian remember?).   And like so many other moms who have soooo damn much on our plates, it’s a challenge to cook, let alone something healthy, fast and delicious.

Well… I did it!  I found the perfect recipe!  When I cook steaks, I make it simple. A little rock salt, extra virgin olive oil and voila!  Delish.  So I thought, instead of all of the marinating, and rubbing and putting garlic under the skin, let’s make a simple roasted chicken and see if it flies, and it did!  It rocked!  The only downfall is that it smells delicious, which means that the entire time it’s cooking, Frack is asking me continuously if his “big, giant chicken” is ready.  Remember, to a 4-year-old, a whole chicken is big and giant!

So here’s how you too can make a big, giant (and delicious) chicken:


  • A whole chicken (pick a size that’s good for your family, I cook a small one and always have leftovers)
  • Half a head of garlic
  • A small onion
  • Oregano
  • Rock salt
  • Powdered garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Pre-heat oven to 325
  1. Take a roasting pan, line it with aluminum foil (for an easier clean-up) and spray it with Pam or another non-stick spray.
  2. Remove the chicken from the wrapping, remove all the “stuff” from the cavity and rinse the bird.
  3. You now have two options, if you want a darker skin, dry off the chicken and rub olive oil on it.  If you want a lighter skin don’t dry it off.
  4. Take half of the head of garlic, peel and cut (or crush) put it to the side.
  5. Take the onion and cut it in half.  Use approximately half of the onion and cut it into quarters.  Put it to the side.
  6. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic and onion pieces.
  7. Sprinkle the top of the chicken (the breast side) with rock salt, garlic and oregano and voila!!  You’re done!  The oven will do the rest!

Put your soon-to-be delicious chicken in the pan, put the pan in your pre-heated oven and wait.  It will take approximately 3 – 4 hours depending on the size of your bird. Some have pop-up thermostats, or you can calculate approximately 20 minutes per pound. Serve with the sides of your choice (in my house rice, corn or broccoli and depending on my mood, a salad) and enjoy!!

There are calories in the air!

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Ok, let me just say it. I have body image issues.

You know how kids have lanky bodies where their legs and arms have almost the same circumference? Well that wasn’t me. My mother says I started that way, but the child I remember was too tall, too brown and too fat. Yes, fat. And it wasn’t fun. It was clothes from the husky section at Sears and elastic waistbands. It was “what are you?” because I was neither black or white. It was not the best. Then around 6th grade I grew into my weight and although I still wasn’t thin, I wasn’t an obvious oval anymore. By the time I reached high school the need not to feed was strong.  I lost the weight, and entered the fashion world where smokes and soup were all one needed to sustain themselves.

I was not anorexic, I was not bulimic, but I was aware of every forkful that entered my body. Painfully aware. Keep a running tab aware. Apps for entrees aware.  My family called me Olive Oil and some wondered if I was ill (we’re Latinos remember? being thin is a sin). I looked fabulous.

Into my 30’s I was 5’9″, size 6. I worked out at least three times a week and ate a high protein diet.  I felt great, I looked great.

Fast forward to  now.  I’m 42, overweight, with no time, or willpower to workout. A penchant for chocolate and a deep… disgust towards my body.  People often tell me, “you look great for someone who has two kids” and I sincerely appreciate the compliment, but this is what I call a compliment with an asterisk., like… “you breathe really well for someone with a nose” .  So my goal this year?  To get rid of the asterisk.

Where to start? What to do?  For first time on my life, I started to count calories and oh my God, there are calories in the air!  Ok, not really, but practically. Two things became painfully clear:

1. No wonder I’m  overweight!

2. It’s a miracle I’m not heavier!

It’s really been an eye opener. A wake up call. A really hard look at what I’m eating and what I should be eating instead.  Every bite I take while cooking, every bocadito from my kids’ plates…it has all added up over the years, and now, it’s time for it to go.  Instead of cafe con leche, I’m drinking cafe cubano.  This saves me approximately 145 calories, which on its own isn’t a lot, but if you drink several of these everyday… imagine… 3 cafe con leches in a week’s time is… 3,045 calories!!  Viste? Did you see how easily that adds up?!  So the counting (not fun) begins.

Will I ever get back into that size 6?  Quien sabe.  The important thing is that I remain healthy, which means that I lose some weight, through conscious food choices and that I start exercising.  So as I sometimes tweet it’s time to get #FitOrBustCarajo !!


That’s me and my Dad.  Don’t let his uniform fool you!  He stopped doing business at a bank once because he was judged by his uniform.  That’s my father. 

A quien no lo gusta los bomberos?

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Como mama de dos niños quien trabaja, muchas veces se me hace difícil hacer tiempo para mi niño pequeño.  Por eso mismo encontré unas cosas que podíamos hacer juntos, sin gastar dinero y – no me juzguen – sin invertir mucho tiempo, lo cual en esta casa es un lujo.  Un día se me ocurrió parar en la casa de bomberos.  Ahí aprendí que cuando las puertas están abiertas uno puede ir a visitar, los bomberos siempre son muy complaciente con los niños, porque como he aprendido, los niños y los animales suelan esconderse cuando hay un enciendo.

Por lo tanto ahí pudimos pasar un ratito lindo (entre hacer quehaceres y recoger la niña de la escuela) haciendo algo que mi niño le encanta, y que ojala le dará memorias lindas para siempre.

Este post es parte del blog hop de Plaza Familia cada martes

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. – Les Brown

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Sometime back I was approached by Ana Roca Castro with an amazing idea.  A bilingual magazine!  It was such a simple idea, I thought se la comio!  It was genius!  A magazine written by bloguer@s (that’s Latino bloggers) aimed at all things family with online tools that are focused on arming us – the parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents – to help our children succeed.  Without a second’s hesitation I said yes!!

With a little fairy dust, a lot of love, mucho cafe, and God’s blessings, what was once Ana’s brainchild became our love child… and it’s here!!  Plaza Familia was announced on Friday and in one day, we have over 1,500 Facebook fans (thank you everyone!).  But above and beyond that, we aim to be the bilingual resource latinos turn to.

The magazine covers topics for all stages of the family – from pregnancy through abuelitos – and has fun sections like crafts, recipes and even a style sections, which I’m the contributor for!  I’m so excited about the entire venture that I cannot put my feelings into a complete sentence.  I feel:

  • Excited about the opportunity
  • Honored and amazed to be included with so many other incredible bloggers
  • Nervous and excited, and nervous, and excited

But more importantly, I want to deliver.  I want to deliver topics and suggestions which offer value.  So fellow stylistas, feel free to offer suggestions, feedback, ideas.  We specifically went with the topic of “style” as it’s something that permeates everything we do.  Our home, clothes, writing, even cooking reflects our personal sense of style and I hope that we can each find or enhance our individual style as this brings an ease and sense of confidence that exudes from your every pore.

Why is this important?  Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, or a business mogul, the way your present yourself to others sets the tone for how you will be treated.  As Latinos, people already have a lot of preconceived notions about us, and these issues can be lessened when we are confident and comfortable with ourselves, versus trying to keep up with the latest fashions, which in some cases may be inappropriate.  Embrace your style, love yourself and welcome to the plaza, Plaza Familia!


P.S.  You can view the press release here, the magazine here, and of course our educational blog, the heart and soul of Plaza Familia where educators and parents come together to share best practices and ways to improve our children’s educational experience, en ingles y espanol.

Just because they’re selling it, doesn’t mean it’s right.

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Something happened when my daughter grew into a size 6.  I stopped buying her clothes.  The days where everything I saw was “soooo cute” were replaced with horror.  Sweatpants with words on their bottom, padded bras, strapless dresses… it was all too much.  Without really making a conscious decision, I just stopped buying her clothes.  It took me a little time to realize what the problem was, it wasn’t that my baby had grown out of the toddler section into the little girls’ clothes, it was that for the most part, little girl’s clothes are completely inappropriate.

Think about it.  Why is it ok to dress our little angels in miniskirts?  What message are we giving our daughters by buying them padded bras?  They are paying attention and if we allow them to dress scantily now, we are telling them that it’s perfectly acceptable to dress in a provocative manner.  And in a few years, when they enter that tween and teen years, will it still be “funny” or “cute” when they want to wear a miniskirt?

This phenomenon of dressing children in our image isn’t just for girls.  Most of the boy’s clothing is “street-style”, hoodies, skulls and crossbones, dickies and plaid shirts.  Are we raising gentlemen or gangsters?

Parents, what examples are you setting?  Are your clothes too tight?  Did you brush your hair today as you ran out the door to run the kids to school? Do you dress like your kids friends? Are you kids embarrassed to be seen with you?  It’s just as important the example we set as the clothes we choose for them.

All children have their own likes and dislikes.  My daughter loves glitter, as I’m sure most 6yo’s do, but I’ve taught her that if everything has glitter on it – top, pants, shoes – you just look like a big piece of aluminum foil. No one can appreciate what you have on.  When she told me she wanted pants with glitter on the bottom, it was that she wanted embellished clothing, not that she cared where it was, but unfortunately, this is what she sees on other kids, so this is what she asks for.  As parents, our job is to guide them.  Our children don’t know the perils of dressing provocatively, or of the endless choices out there, so talk to them, offer solutions and be frank.  Not every child has the same rules that we do in our home, and that’s ok.

Cultivate your child’s individual style now, so that they are confident in their choices later on, and able to be proud of what they are wearing, whether at school or at abuela’s and you will save yourself a lot of heartache now as well as when they are older.

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