{P + R} Maternity photos

My best friend recently had her baby girl and I was blessed with the opportunity to photograph her & her husband’s journey into Mommy & Daddy life.  Photography is a love of mine that has grown over the years.  It’s hard to make time to capture someone else’s precious moments, but when I do find the time…I enjoy it a lot.  Especially so when it is for a dear friend!  We had a lot of laughs and at first I was concerned about how the photos may turn out, but praise God, we had so many awesome captures it was hard to choose which ones to actually edit! God made the weather and lighting just right for these blessed creatures.  Here are just a few of the many we took that day:

Maternity photos by www.lovedelara.com

Maternity photos by http://www.lovedelara.com

Maternity photos by www.lovedelara.com

Maternity photos by http://www.lovedelara.com

Fourth of July Craft at Anthropologie

Today we had the opportunity to take the kids to a crafting event at Anthropologie! I love when stores have little events like this for kids, especially stores like Anthro. Mommy loves browsing their things so it was a win-win situation 🙂

The staff at Los Gatos Anthro were very friendly and the kids loved making their 4th of July themed paper lanterns. They had a cute little snack table filled with popcorn, star shaped cookies, punch, juice etc. I am so glad we went! Keep an eye out for your local Anthro for their next kids and/or adult crafting event, they usually announce 2 weeks before!

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Scarf storage DIY

As I attempt to organize my closet…I thought I’d share with you a quick DIY tip that will hopefully solve the disorganization of my abnormal amount of scarves lol.

My parents have a costume jewelry shop that I raid from time to time which is why I have a ridiculous amount of accessories (i.e. scarves). I noticed they were displaying their scarves by using bracelets (looping the scarf through and placing it on a bracket). So instead of using bracelets I went to target and bought inexpensive clear shower hooks to hang it from my closet maid shelf.

My scarves used to be folded & buried in a basket. This is a much better way to actually see what you have! Although I must admit it takes up prime closet real estate, but lets see how long I keep it this way lol.

Happy organizing!! I keep taking social media breaks and feels like it will never end.

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Taming tantrums & chaos

taming tantrums - lovedelara.com

I’ve been a bit MIA (missing in action) but hey I am a mom of two little ones and they keep me busy. I think about writing but when I find the time…I am so tired and decide to just veg out instead. Summer has started in my household and I have both my son & daughter with me all day.

Usually my son is in Preschool and I just have my daughter in the mornings. My daughter is going through her tantrum & testing her limits phase…so it has been quite the challenge. She is very strong-willed and does not give up.

After a handful of public incidents of my daughter yelling & screaming I decided to re-visit my disciplining methods to see what I can change or modify because it can be both physically & mentally exhausting.

Awhile back (three book renewals later, to be exact) I went to the library and checked out a few books on parenting to see what “methods” are being taught and if I am in line with what some professionals are recommending.

The following are highlights of my “take-aways” from one of the books I read:

YOU set the agenda NOT your children.

The power drive in some children is more than others and typically moms are the primary target when it comes to children testing their boundaries. We just need to remember that this is all part of the process of them growing and as parents we need to have our ammo ready. I am guilty of catering to my children which is fine in some cases, but letting them make bad choices actually derails their capacity for self-control, respect, and cooperation. And when I say “choices” it can be something as simple as wanting to wear their rain boots & rain coat on a hot summer day. In the book, Beyond Time-Out by Beth A. Grosshans, Ph.D., she discusses the concept of Imbalance of Family Power (IFP) and that once you start accommodating your kids (even on occasion) and take the path-of-least resistance is that it can lead to IFP. It is so true when she says “no one gives up the throne without a fight” because the more we enable bad behavior the higher their power expectations become.

Action-based lessons vs. talking-based lessons

As cliche as it sounds…you have to walk the walk not talk the talk. Again I am guilty of saying something that I will not follow through with. For example, “If you don’t do this, then we are not going to the toy store.” There is a fine line…because you don’t want to boss your child around, but do it in a way where they know that ultimately the parents make the decisions. Not to say that children should not make any decisions but rather what is developmentally appropriate. As harsh as it sounds parental passivity is a form of neglect and not a good strategy (guilty at times). So if you threaten to leave the store if they misbehave one more time…then be sure to follow through and leave if they do so that they understand that mom is not messing around.

Don’t waste time

If you notice that there is an imbalance of family power (IFP) then act now…the longer you wait the longer it will take to correct their behavior. With the right tools you can nip it in the butt early.

Applying “The LadderMethod

This five step action plan will help to re-establish the balance of power or prevent it from happening. This method goes beyond the traditional time-out. It really just tightens up the discipline process and provides a strategy as opposed to a “punishment.” When I say “discipline” I am referring to teaching, directing, and correcting. If you use the Ladder method as a form of punishment then it will just backfire and reinforce the bad feelings between you & your child. This is supposed to be a controlled and respectful form of discipline.

You want to make your child feel confident in your authority and not feel shamed, threatened or criticized.

Step 1: A friendly bid for cooperation

In a friendly tone, refer to your child with a pet name & give a directive:

“Okay sweetie, time for you to turn off the iPad

Wait a reasonable amount of time to see if your child complies, if he fails to comply climb to step 2.

Step 2: An “I mean business” reminder

Shift from a friendly, light tone to a more businesslike voice; drop the pet name, and refer to your child by his name:

“XX, I just said it is time to turn the iPad off now. This is your second reminder, If I need to say it a third time you will be heading to your room.”

Maybe you can point your finger at them to show that your mean business. If they do not comply, climb to step 3.

Step 3: To the bedroom!

Begin with actions, not words. Move towards your child before you start to speak. Then, as you are walking towards your child, say:

“Okay hun, that’s it, time to go to your room.”

Do not engage in any conversation or respond to your child’s protests or begging. There is only one exception to this: If your child says, “But I was just going to, please, please, I was about to, it’s not fair -.” you may respond in a positive & assertive tone:

“Good honey, you were just about to! Next time I am confident you won’t wait as long, because you will remember that I only ask twice. Now it’s time to go to your room.”

Then without another word, and with speed and deliberateness, get your child to his room, either following behind if he goes on his own, or carry him. If you child becomes physically out of control while trying to resist being taken to his room, move on to Step 5: the parent hold.

Step 3, Part II: Set the Terms

Place your child on his bed and then say with a firm but nonthreatening tone:

Now, you need to stay in your room until I tell you it is time to come out.”

Having said that, say no more. Turn and walk out of your child’s room, leaving the bedroom door open. Stay close to the door but out of your child’s view.

Step 4: Shut the door

One of 3 things will happen next, Respond accordingly.

Scenario 1:

If your child stays in their room and behaves appropriately, stick your head into her room after a few minutes (add two minutes to the age of your child to give you an idea of approximately how many minutes to wait) and say:

“Okay honey, you may come out of your room now.”

If your child says, “I am not coming out!” in an attempt to still have the upper hand, then simply say: “Okay, that’s fine, but as far as I am concerned you can come out of your room.”

Then walk away.

Scenario 2:

Your child remains in the room but acts out verbally. They are yelling and screaming to the point it cannot be tolerated. After a minute, stick your head into the room (do not go all the way into the room) and in a loud whisper, say, with a very supportive tone (as if you are giving the best tip of the day):

Hey sweetie, shh, shh. Remember, the work of time-out is done quietly. With all this carrying on, your time-out hasn’t even started yet. As a way to help you remember the need for quiet, and because I don’t want all this noise to fill the house, I am going to close your door.

Then close the door but do not walk away, stay close to the door.

Scenario 3:

The child runs out of his room. Your child shows no regard for your direction to stay in her room and attempts to run out of the door (this is why you stayed close by). Putting your hands out to catch and stop your child as she tries to flee, say:

“Hey, hey, hey! Where are you going sweetie? I just said you have to stay in your room.”

Turn your child around and direct her back to bed, or pick her up if it is necessary. Once your child is sitting back on the bed, say:

Now I mean business, XX. You need to stay put until I tell you your time in your room is over, as a way to help you remember, I am going to close your door.”

Saying no more, turn to leave the room. Again, remain outsidethe door in case your child still needs you.

Step 5: The Parent Hold

Standing outside your child’s closed door, speak to your child through the door, in a calm, grounded tone:

“Honey, you are starting to get out of control, I want you to go over to your bed now and sit there so you can calm down”

If your child can’t calm down and becomes emotionally or physically out of control, open the door, go to your child, and follow the procedure for parent hold: hold your child firmly until they are back under control (be careful you are not holding them too tight, but firm enough to keep them in control). It can last an average of 20 minutes until the child completely calms down and once they are calm you can reassure the child by saying:

it’s okay sweetie, you are just a little girl and you’re still learning. All children need to learn. Don’t worry, Mommy and Daddy are going to help you. It’s okay, you are fine, and we are fine. I love you very much.”

After you sat together and some time has passed and emotions have passed:

“Okay sweetie, let’s go put some cool water on your face and take a sip of water.”

Take your child’s hand in yours and go together in the bathroom, while in the bathroom say in a light tone:

My goodness, you were really angry huh? That was a lot of feeling that came out. I don’t that lesson will ever be so hard for you again.”

Move into your next phase of activity by once again reaching out your hand to your child saying:

Now where were we?”

Do not offer and further verbal reassurances, explanations, apologies, or corrections. This is the end of step 5!

This method is by no means my own…I have taken every step out of the book I read (referenced above) and found it very useful. It was pretty much in line with what I was previously doing, but not as well-thought out and planned. I tend to lose my temper or get very frustrated, but with this method it helps me to keep my emotions at bay and just go through the motions.

It is getting late so this blog will be to be continued! God willing, Part II of this blog will include how to use “The Ladder” method when you are out & about because tantrums and bad behavior do not just happen at home.

Peace & God bless.

 

Afternoon Snack

The weather has been very warm and we are staying cool indoors. I wanted to share this yummy snack I put together 🙂

Sabra hummus – any flavor you like but I used supremely spicy (my fav)

Half avocado

Snack factory pretzels – any flavor (I used everything flavor) just came across these flat pretzels. SO good!

Put together and enjoy 🙂

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Quick entertainment

Trying to sit in peace to eat breakfast does not happen very often (at least through the whole meal). Today I fed them and then got them situated so I could actually sit and eat too.

Here’s what I used: blanket, pipe cleaner & two strainers.

They are still sitting & using their creativity to make something. This was a Pinterest-inspired activity. Thank God!

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My best friend’s “Cute as a Button” themed Baby Shower

We’ve long awaited this pregnancy and it has finally arrived, by God’s grace.  My BFF and husband probably got really tired of people asking them when they planned on having kids since everyone around them was either pregnant or had kids (including myself).  God’s plan is perfect and they are now enjoying this very precious time.

Pregnancy Announcement

Pregnancy Announcement

I don’t think I can count with my hands how many times she has helped coordinate someone’s baby shower.  So now that she is expecting everyone returned the love and helped out in some shape or form with her “Cute as a Button” themed party.

It worked out really nice because everything was evenly distributed and went so smooth! Also, since we all helped plan each other’s showers we had a little experience in streamlining the process.  If you’re planning a shower I really recommend starting early and delegating tasks to friends & family as much as possible so that it is less stressful.

We invited about 120 guests and I am guessing that close to 80-90 people actually attended…and yes it was ALL women! We found that it was easier to host a “brunch” style shower and provided the guests with heavy appetizers, dessert, tea, juice & fruity water.  Both

Grandma-to-be’s helped in providing delicious Persian & brunch style food and the Auntie-to-be plus friends helped with decorations, invites etc.

I designed the invites and got them printed through VistaPrint and got a pretty good deal by using one of their perpetual coupons.  The mommy & baby advice cards turned out really cute because I found a bird cage from TJ Maxx where guests could fold and submit their completed cards through the bars.  I had a frame that we used for their pregnancy announcement photo which I re-purposed and inserted black matting for guests to sign and leave a message around her silhouette “baby bump” photo.

My other girl friend was responsible for the candy bar and she brought all the jars and filled them with bright pinks, soft pinks, yellows & orange colored candies.  I was so surprised after the shower to see most of the candy gone! Mostly because I wanted some lol.  We had a framed sign that said “Girls are Sweet, Please take a Treat!” and above the bar we had a sign that said “Sweet Baby.”

We had button flower vases sitting on each table with umbrellas hanging from the covered patio area.  She had a custom Cute as a Button cake & cupcakes along with an extra Nothing but Bundts two-tier “Cute as a Bundtin” cake.  We had some extra flower buttons so we designed the Bundt cake with it and it turned out really cute.

We ordered a “Cute as a Button” sign from Etsy and my friend made button streamers to hang from the doorways.  On another wall we had baby photos of the mommy & daddy-to-be.

Lastly, the games! We had three games the first one was hilarious…my girlfriend bought three baby bottles and filled it with water (about 1/3 full).  She chose three women to participate and they had to drink from the bottle as fast as they can to see who can finish the bottle the quickest.  The second game – the women had to balance a coin in between their legs and walk across the room.  The third game – was for the kids, but adults can play this too.  We had mini balloons blown up and they had to grab as many as they could and fit it under their dress/shirt.  The winners all received a prize.

We ended the day by opening gifts and overall everything went perfect! I have some pictures below of the event so you can get a better idea of the theme.  You’re more than welcome to pin my photos and share with your friends 🙂 visuals are always helpful when you are trying to plan a party!

Cute as a Button theme - gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

Cute as a Button theme – gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

www.lovedelara.com - henna on hands belly shot
http://www.lovedelara.com – henna on hands belly shot

 

with the mommy-to-be, Cute as a Button shower

with the mommy-to-be, Cute as a Button shower

 

belly pose

belly pose

 

Cute as a button - Candy bar with Sweet Baby signage

Cute as a button – Candy bar with Sweet Baby signage

 

Henna tattoo with baby's name on it

Henna tattoo with baby’s name on it

 

Cute as a Button theme - gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

Cute as a Button theme – gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

 

Baby Shower Candy Bar for girl

Baby Shower Candy Bar for girl

 

Two tier "Cute as a Bundtin" cake & custom cupcakes & button cake

Two tier “Cute as a Bundtin” cake & custom cupcakes & button cake

 

Button Streamers for Cute as a Button shower

Button Streamers for Cute as a Button shower

 

Hanging umbrellas outside above tables as well - multi color

Hanging umbrellas outside above tables as well – multi color

 

Frame with silhouette photo for guests to sign - Cute as a button theme

Frame with silhouette photo for guests to sign – Cute as a button theme

 

Auntie & niece shot - Cute as a Button theme

Auntie & niece shot – Cute as a Button theme

 

Bottle baby shower game - give the bottles to three participants and fill 1/3 with water.  Have them drink out of bottle to see who can drink the fastest.

Bottle baby shower game – give the bottles to three participants and fill 1/3 with water. Have them drink out of bottle to see who can drink the fastest.

 

Baby shower game - give each participant a coin and have them walk across the room, winner receives a prize.

Baby shower game – give each participant a coin and have them walk across the room, winner receives a prize.

 

Baby Shower game - kids can participate in this one.  Have mini balloons blown up and see who can grab the most to fit under dress or shirt.

Baby Shower game – kids can participate in this one. Have mini balloons blown up and see who can grab the most to fit under dress or shirt.

www.lovedelara.com - Cute as a Button themed shower

http://www.lovedelara.com – Cute as a Button themed shower

How effective is your skin care routine?

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with the sheer amount of beauty products out there…all claiming to make some sort of difference in your skin. Not too long ago I went to a skin care seminar sponsored & co-hosted by Plush Esthetics (www.PlushEsthetics.com) and learned quite a few things. I am always hesitant to attend these seminars because of the pressure to buy their products afterwards, however, this time it was not like that! They really focused on educating the small group on the importance of routine and explained the positive effects of proper skin care.  I walked away with a better understanding on what items I should have in my daily skin care regimen.  I’ll try to explain in my post some of my questions and the things I learned.

I always wondered…are all those steps to cleansing your skin really necessary?!

Well…you can maybe get away with not doing everything, but know that each step has its own role in slowing the process of aging. I learned that there really is no product out there that will completely eliminate your wrinkles (aside from photoshop, lol)…but rather slow down the aging process. This is the reason why we should have a good skin care routine/regimen. The earlier you start & the more consistent you are, the better the results.

Ok so you’re wondering…do you really go through the whole process every night?

The answer…As a mom of two little ones, NO, as much as i’d like to set time aside both in the AM & PM, I have to be honest and tell you that I get lazy and just rather sleep. It’s just like exercising…you need to maintain it regularly. And then….there is this thing called hormones…AHHH hormones. It’s like a little monster that lives inside and likes to pop its head out once a month and ravage your skin lol. Well, If you keep a regular routine you can definitely minimize the breakouts. Eating clean, staying hydrated & a proper skin regimen assist in regulating that little monster we call hormones.

The next issue is $$$…taking care of your skin isn’t cheap!  Although, it’s not cheap…know that you’re skin does not become younger as you get older so maybe you can justify splurging a little.  Below are the items that should be in your routine (ideally):

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Exfoliator (once/week)
  • Eye Cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Serum of choice (depending on the area you want to focus on)
  • Sunblock

Alongside the cleanser I highly recommend purchasing a Clarisonic brush (really gets the skin clean and minimizes pores & wrinkles)

Two items that I have to have at all times are my cleanser & sunblock (even on my lazy days).  After attending the seminar I learned to accept that all the items listed above play a specific & defined role in the whole anti-aging process.  For example on my lazy nights…when I don’t use toner I now realize that it’s kinda like using the dishwasher on the “air dry” setting and getting water spots on the glass.  It has the same effect when you don’t use the toner…it helps get rid of any residual cleanser, dirt and/or makeup.

If you’re looking to try a new line…I highly recommend using Plush Esthetics (www.plushesthetics.com). I’ve used all the products from their line and absolutely love it! Mind you, my skin is very sensitive! My favorites from the line are the Defend sunblock and the Awaken cleanser.

PlushEsthetics.com - Defend Sunblockwww.PlushEsthetics.com - Awaken Cleanser

The Awaken cleanser smells amazing and is non-drying and soap-free. It does not contain any artificial dyes and foams up nicely.  If you’re skin is dry I would look into the Refresh cleanser (keep in mind that this one is milky and does not lather).

The sunblock is really the best I’ve ever tried for my face. It is broad spectrum and is not chemical-based. This sunblock has zinc oxide which acts as a shield from the sun and does not get absorbed in the skin. It is also the only sunblock that I’ve used that really moisturizes because it contains vitamin E & C. Lastly, it does not have the strong sunblock odor…it actually smells pleasant (which is a big plus!!). I like to use this product on my kids too!

If you decide to try their products, enjoy 10% off plus FREE shipping by entering the promo code: lovedelara at checkout 🙂

www.lovedelara.com - blog post on maintaining healthy skin & product recommendations

NOTE: I am not a skin care professional, if you have any specific skin condition consult with a doctor first. I am just sharing my personal experience with these products.

I must try this! {reblog}

God willing, I cannot wait to try this! Looks amazing, taking my coconut oil love to another level!

{love+cupcakes} Blog

DIY_shea_butter_body_butter_001

DIY_shea_butter_body_butter_009

Are you ready for softer skin? This body butter has you covered. All of you! I put it on from head to toe and it keeps my skin feeling soft and supple all day. And best of all, it’s not too greasy and doesn’t clog my pores. I like to add essential oils for fragrance, but this butter has a sweet nutty scent on its own. A little goes a long way, so this batch should last you several weeks. Enjoy!

p.s. Make it a gift! Put your body butter in a glass jar and add a cute tag to it. Voila!

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Happy First Birthday to our Giant Schnauzer Broderick!

We brought home Mr. Skansen‘s Broderick Von Mises (aka Brody) when he was only 4 months old! Brody is my first pet dog so it has been quite interesting to have such a large breed in the house.  At five months we started his training at Cali K9 (www.calik9.com) because I had no idea how to handle him.  I definitely recommend picking up some training classes if you’ve never had a dog before and/or have an out of control dog.  In our case, I wanted to make sure our dog was obedient and listened to us since we have small kids.

We ended up signing him up for one of the packages at CaliK9 (group & private lessons) and almost immediately I felt so much more comfortable handling him and realized that most of the “training” we did before going to CaliK9 was wrong.  We’ve been so blessed to have such a great dog that is SO good with both the kids and us.  The training was an added bonus and he still continues to go.  I am very happy we started him early and did not wait because now he listens to us on command.

Having Brody around is really like having another child in the house, but since he behaves so well (thank God) it makes his puppy phase go smoothly.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is only a puppy and to not expect so much from him lol (in terms of his training progress).  He’s a very fortunate dog who gets fed a combination of the best quality dog food & raw meat.  He loves to go to Carmel and let loose on the beach.  On rainy days, he likes to get his exercise by using his treadmill and loves it.  His Daddy likes to spoil him.

Today he turns 1! So let’s wish him a very Happy Birthday! The puppy phase is some what over and our 3rd child is growing up! Here is Brody at his one year mark – classy, sophisticated & ready to take on the world!

Happy Birthday Broderick!

Giant Schnauzer - Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday.  www.lovedelara.com

Giant Schnauzer – Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday. http://www.lovedelara.com

 

Giant Schnauzer - Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday.  www.lovedelara.com

Giant Schnauzer – Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday. http://www.lovedelara.com

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