Sunday, July 23, 2017

Parent to Parent: Tips for your Child's Senior Year of High School!

So your kid is now a High School Senior! First of all, congrats!   Having had two kids graduate from high school and college, I thought I would share some tips from one parent to another on what to expect and how to save some money!
  • First there are those Senior Pictures that students will probably take during the summer.  Yes, the sitting fee is free, but to purchase them is another story.  If you want to add blemish removal, use an outdoor setting, do multiple change of outfits, etc...there is extra cost that can run you into hundreds of dollars. A saving tip, there are photographers in abundance that you can find on the internet, some on Groupon (you can even use Groupon coupons sometimes!) or other social media sites where you can pay one price and get the pictures digitally.  Another tip, have your child's makeup done at one of the department stores. You will probably spend some money on makeup products but it is worth it. Let them know that the session is for pictures and they will apply the necessary amount of makeup for your child to be camera ready. Your child can take the obligatory senior picture with the school selected photographer and then utilize your hired professional photographer the same day to do your own shoot. Your choice of setting and you can use props too!
  • Other costs like the yearbook and graduation announcements, etc...are often sold as a special package from the school, at discounted prices. What I did to enhance their senior year was use sites like,, or and made my own custom yearbook for each of my girls, to capture their last year.  I also utilized these websites for custom graduation party announcements at the end of the year!
  • For parents of girls who want to attend Homecoming or other formal dances, shopping for dresses can get quite expensive!  There are programs like The Princess Project, or sites like Rent the Runway to get dresses for free or a nominal fee. Or you can do a clothing swap with other moms and daughters that have gently used dresses. Also, instead of spending a lot of money at a fancy restaurant for meals, parents can pitch in for an appetizer/ hor d'oeuvres hour for picture taking at a picturesque spot. And finally, with YouTube tutorials these days, girls can do each other's hair and makeup!

  • How else can you save some money during your child's Senior Year? Turn in that national school lunch application form if your child attends a public school.  If you qualify for free or reduced lunch, your child will also be eligible for waived or reduced fees for SAT / ACT tests, college application fees and reduced rates or no cost to take Advance Placement tests.
  • Aside from the finances that may stress you out,  more important is your child's well-being. Your child will be stressed out in October and November as they work on their college applications while trying to maintain their probably already over-scheduled life. Pay attention I mean, give extra attention to them. Be flexible about their chores and cut them some slack during these high-pressure months. Be instrumental in making sure they exercise self-care, i.e. they eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep, help them keep organized with deadlines, especially with scholarship deadlines. 
  • Your children will be stressed out again in February/March as they wait for those emails to come in from the universities they applied to. This is an important time for your parental support to help them deal with anxiety and possible rejection.  The best thing to do is be available to LISTEN. Feed them often, and hug them a lot.
  • On to scholarships, here are some tips. 
Tip 1) Don't wait otherwise you may miss deadlines. Bookmark your high school's scholarship bulletin and also your county's education office's scholarship bulletin.
Tip 2) Use the internet to search other scholarships available on other high schools' sites, nationwide and locally.  Civic and community groups like the Kiwanis, the Rotary Club, the Elks Lodge, etc... often sponsor scholarships as well. Connect with them to see what they offer.  All colleges and universities also offer their own scholarships. Check with the schools your child is interested in.
Tip 3) Scholarship applications can be quite lengthy, especially if they require an essay. Encourage your child to have one standard essay about themselves and their special talents, activities, achievements, extraordinary experiences, etc... Oftentimes this one essay can then be revised to suit the particular scholarship essay question. The basis will already be there. 
Tip 4) Have your child ask for letters of recommendations for scholarships EARLY and make multiple copies so you have them ready for submission!  
Tip 5) Call me a Tiger Mom, but I had 3-ring binders with a spreadsheet of all the scholarships my daughters applied for, dated with when they were sent in and what the result was and the amount won. My girls received quite a bit of money for college from scholarships alone. It is worth your time and effort to help them with this.
  • In addition to scholarships, The Free Applications For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will also be available as early as October for you to complete online for the following year. Funding is limited, so the earlier you submit the FAFSA, the better. There is a special tool in the application to import all of your tax information to make filling out the form easier.  But of course, you do have to have your previous year's taxes filed on time for this tool to work. 
  • Another tip for senior year is preparing your child to live on his/her own if that is within their plans after senior year. Teach them how to cook simple meals, how to do laundry, and how to save money!  Some of them may be living with other people in dorms or apartments next year when they are use to having their own space. Talk to them about compromise, how to get along, and how best to communicate to avoid unnecessary drama with roommates. Talk to them about how to manage their time and find balance between studying and enjoying life! 
  • Even though your child may be a senior this year, he/she still needs you. This is a time when they may be negotiating boundaries with you, them being young adults and all and wanting to make their own decisions.  If you've been consistent with your parenting all these years, then be confident that they will make the best decisions for themselves.  Tell them that you trust them. Check in with them often and reassure them that you're there for them always. 
Graduation time will be here as soon as you know it.  If you are serious about these tips I've shared, senior year will be a busy time for YOU as a parent as well! Enjoy the school year ahead, each and every day. Thanks for reading! Find my other posts about preparing for college here.

Have a great tip for your child's senior year that should be mentioned? Please comment below!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Save Even More with Groupon Coupons!

Do you love a good deal?  I do! I kinda get a high off of it! I'm not an extreme couponer or anything, but I do love saving money! With three kids, two of which recently graduated from college within the last two years, saving money whenever we could was definitely in our family plans.

Over the last year or two, I've been getting more comfortable with online shopping. Groupon is one of those sites where I shop frequently because they have some great deals! In addition, they also have coupons available to save you even more money! The best part is that these coupons are free!

With school back in full swing, but also still some summer left, saving money is a priority! Check out the links below to stores where I shop!

Nordstrom Rack
Office Depot
Barnes and Noble
My M&Ms

Hope you get some really great deals! Happy shopping!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Luib Health Center- A Holistic Approach to Health!

I have always wanted to learn more about Chinese medicine and holistic approaches to health. Now that I am in my mid-forties, I am definitely feeling the aches and pains of just growing older! I was eager to spend some time at the Luib Health Center with Dr. Catherine Sy Luib to learn more about her services and her approach to a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Cat, as her patients affectionately call her, is a licensed chiropractor and acupuncturist.  She holds many different school degrees and one can tell she is definitely very knowledgeable about what she does and how the body works!  Dr. Cat intertwines Traditional Chinese Medicine with nutrition based treatment.  She believes in aligning the mind, body, and spirit, back into harmony.

On my initial visit, I received a biomat treatment along with sound therapy and thought that my mom would really benefit from this.  She has trouble sleeping and relaxing in general. I took both my parents to Dr. Cat the next week.  Here is Dr. Cat preparing my mom for her treatment. The mat that my mom is laying on contains amethyst crystals that help redirect your body's energy.  In addition it is heated to soothe muscles.  Dr. Cat provides an audio of a guided relaxation session.  It is not uncommon for someone to fall asleep during this session, which is what my mom did!  Afterwards, my mom said the 30 minute session made her feel more relaxed and energetic.
I also brought my Dad in to see Dr. Cat, due to numerous issues.  The major one being that he is in a constant state of pain.  He suffered a stroke 3 years ago and his left arm/shoulder area is pretty much flaccid. Dr. Cat administered Tuina massage along with cupping.
She also integrated sound therapy using ancient Tibetan bowls into his sessions. The sound is meant to "tune" my dad's body back into harmony.  The tuning was peaceful, meditative, and restorative.
My dad really responded to this and wanted to come back for another session!

Dr. Cat also prescribed recipes for food-based therapy.  She gave us a recipe for smoothies that would detox my dad's liver because of all the medications he is on and referred my mom to take some herb and vitamin supplements to get them both healthier. As I get older and my parents continue to grow into their golden years, I prefer seeking out these kinds of treatments instead of adding more medications.  I only wish that Dr. Cat's office was closer. I think we would be visiting her more often as a family!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How I Met LaDainian Tomlinson!

Former San Diego Chargers Running Back and 2017 Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson's Touching Lives Foundation recently selected the Wounded Warrior Homes organization as a recipient of the "Luck is Earned" Happy Hour event held in downtown San Diego. I received an invitation to attend and couldn't pass up this opportunity to meet LT!

Wounded Warrior Homes is an organization that helps house soldiers who were injured while on active duty fighting wars on foreign land. Some soldiers are not able to come home to family to take care of them and/or may live many miles away from the nearest veteran's hospital. Wounded Warrior homes fills that void. The charity event was hosted by Tequila Herradura
Attendees enjoyed passed hor d'oeuvres, and choice of two drinks, the Hall of Fame Margarita (made with Herradura Silver) or LT's Hacienda Mule (Herradura Ultra Anejo). 

Hall of Fame Margarita
There was also a silent auction of LT memorabilia to benefit the Wounded Warrior Homes organization.

The highlight of the Happy Hour was hearing LaDanian speak about how he got involved with football as a child and then listening to three honored guests share their stories of how the Wounded Warriors program helped them transition from active duty to war veteran.

LaDanian was available before and after his speech to meet his fans and take a few pictures. I was lucky enough to score his autograph and take a selfie! What a classy gentleman! 

The event concluded with a generous check of $20,000 provided to LT's foundation in the name of the Wounded Warriors presented by Brown Forman, the company that owns Tequila Herradura.

It was great to see one of my family's favorite Charger still active in the San Diego community!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lincoln Date Night!

What a concept that Lincoln dealerships have created!  I heard about "Lincoln Date Night"through a mom group that I belong to on Facebook.  Someone in another state commented that she set her date and was very excited about it.  I decided to try it myself!

Hopefully you reside in a state that has the program. Here is the one location in San Diego that offers it.
What is Lincoln Date Night all about? Lincoln Date Night is about borrowing one of their cars for 24 hours and receiving 100 complimentary miles and a $100 Visa gift card to go on a date!  Isn't that incredible?  After contacting the local dealership and messaging back and forth with Marco, we had our appointment today.

I was anticipating a sort of timeshare presentation where you sit through and listen to people and perhaps get a salesman or two to push a car on you, but it was not like that at all. (Yes, because I corresponded via email, I am now on their email list and receiving emails from the dealership, but I do have the option to unsubscribe.)  Marco let me know that the appointment would take about a half hour and I needed to bring in my Driver's License, Car Insurance Policy and a credit card. There would be no charges made but just in case something happened to the car. Also, we couldn't take the car into Mexico. Made sense to me.

We walked in to the dealership and were directed to the front desk. Eric greeted us and looked up my name, confirmed my appointment, and made copies of the three things that I brought in. I signed an agreement and he handed me this card with the $100 gift card inside. The gift card expires on 1/2018.
He walked us over to Jacob who went over the features of the MKZ Hybrid with us.
There are so many!!! 15 minutes of the half hour was acquainting us with the car.  It has a remote that you can start the engine with before you reach your car. You can even go keyless and put in a code. The trunk opens with the push of a button.  You can sync your phone and talk hands-free. There is even a valet mode with a code to use when you valet so you can encrypt the car to protect access to your contacts.  Jacob did a good job of telling us all about it!
There were too many features to keep track of, but here are the ones I really liked!
  • This car has massage chairs for the driver and passenger! Wooo! I turned that thing on the whole while when we were driving.  OMG, it felt sooo good!
  • There is no center or steering wheel shifting, you push a button on a side panel!
  •    The side mirrors have a orange light sensor to let you know that a vehicle is in your blind spot.
  • If your phone is programmed in and the airbags deploy, the car is equipped with 911 assist.  They will call you to see if you are ok!  Safety first! 
Jacob let us know that Lincoln designed their cars for the customer experience.  All in all, we were in and out of there in less than thirty minutes.  AND, since we left our dependable Toyota Sequoia there, they let us know it will be washed and ready for us when we return the MKZ tomorrow.

I don't know of any cooler promotion than this! Get on your phone and book your #LincolnDateNight today!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Top 10 Tips from My Total Mom Makeover Experience!

This past February, me and twelve other lucky moms were chosen as original cast members of Daisy Teh's, aka "The It Mom", first season of The Total Mom Makeover. We all received amazing beauty treatments and fashion advice as part of a whirlwind weekend in Newport Beach, CA.  As a mom of four, Daisy understands how moms put all others before themselves leaving us feeling and looking not-so-fabulous.  Her premise was to help moms reclaim their "it" factor and teach us how to style ourselves and put makeup on so we can look and FEEL our best!  Read about how I applied here and see my transformation and interview!

Day 1
The moms all arrived at different times to Newport Beach. Dusty Simington's beautiful salon, Spa Gregorie's, generously sponsored all of our haircuts, coloring and manicures. THANK YOU SO MUCH! The cameras were ready to film our transformations!

In addition to our haircuts and manicures, we each received a Alex and Ani bangle.

Next, each of us was paired with a stylist who selected some outfits for us.  Ashley Trevino was my stylist! She was very kind and patient as I tried on one dress after another. When I expressed that I really didn't want to show my arms, she found one that was unique, that I was comfortable in and bright RED, a color that I don't normally wear!

She decided to touch up my lips with some red to match the dress!
Then we were ready for the photo shoot! I had so much fun with it!

Photo credit: The It Mom website
We had the cape of the dress literally flying!

Some of the Dream Team: Daisy Teh, George Teh, and photographer Sean Tu.
Day 2
We were shuttled back to the salon in the morning to listen to our awesome professionals Dusty Simington, Sophadavy Hun, Ashley Trevino and Cherrie Luzon give us advice on hair care, makeup and styling.
My new mommy friends from top left: Charlene, Audra, and Tiany!
Tips on Hair Care!
Tip #1:  When to use conditioner

My hair is big, bushy, and can get really dry. Dusty Simington, celebrity stylist and owner of Salon Gregories, let us know that following the order of shampoo then applying conditioner was pretty much like pouring your hard-earned money down the shower drain.  Once your hair is wet, the moisture becomes a barrier from your hair absorbing any of the conditioner.  So he recommends applying conditioner on dry hair before you shower, whether it's for five minutes or for five hours when you are hanging out at home. You can even put a small amount of conditioner on before you go to sleep, it'll act like a light detangler in the morning.  I have been trying this method for the last couple of months and it has made such a difference in the feel of my hair!

Tip #2:  How to get volume in your hair

Dusty said to blow dry your hair from the bottom up. Hang your hair to the side and squeeze as much moisture out with a towel before blowdrying. Once it is dry, concentrate on the roots.
Also, hair products are key! He recommends brands like Redken or It's a 10. I've tried the potion from It's a 10 and love it. If your hair has already been shampooed, dried and styled from a previous day and you want to revive some volume, he recommends spraying dry shampoo in it and working the blow dryer through.  Here is picture of one of the moms, Jessica. Can you see the difference between the sides of her hair?

Tip #3: Which way to wear your ponytail

Dusty says, for fuller faces, a ponytail on top of the head works best.  A low ponytail at the base of the back works for most everyone and a side ponytail can take make you look ten years younger!

Tip #4:  Re-styling

Most moms don't have the time to style their hair full-on every day. For a quick re-style on curly hair, use a curling iron on random pieces of hair.  And hairspray your hair before you curl it to hold it!

Tip #5: Clarifying your hair

Household products like lemon juice and baking soda or apple cider vinegar or coconut oil are great for hair and skin!  Look up recipes to make a paste or solution and use it to remove build up from your hair.

Dusty was so affable and nice on the eyes! His gleaming white teeth were mesmerizing!!
Tips on Makeup!
Next, makeup artist Sophadavy Hun took her time to explain how to use the incredible IT cosmetics that we received to get us looking fabulous!
Tip #1: Clean your brushes

Keep your colors fresh and bright when applying by keeping your brushes clean!  She said she's had her brush for years and is able to maintain them by cleaning them regularly!

Tip #2: Use the right type of brush

Use the right type of brush for the area of your face.  This fan brush is perfect for applying blush in a "C" motion sweeping up from your cheek to near your eye.

Tip #3: Blend

Blending is key in order for your makeup to look natural and not caked on.  Tap off any excess product before applying and blend with brushes, sponges, pads, or even your fingers! 
After learning more about makeup application, stylist Ashley Trevino gave a moving testimonial of why she wanted to participate in this project. Her story involved human trafficking and being saved by God. She had me choked up listening to her endure those trying times. Her life has completely turned around and now, in addition to being a stylist, she is a motivational speaker. and the owner of Bella Bridal

Next up was Cherrie Luzon, another one of our amazing stylists! She shared her favorite tips to keep us moms fashionable!

Tips on Styling!
Tip #7: Use A-line silhouettes for more curvier girls like me!

An A line can give you a slimmer look, especially a blouse or dress with an empire waist!

Tip #8: Shop for pieces that are versatile!

Here's a little black dress that can be used for a variety of looks! Use accessories to change up your look.  Layer select pieces of your clothes to add color and dimension.
Image result for cherrie luzon
Photo courtesy of Cherrie Luzon
Tip #9: Keep some key pieces in your wardrobe

Cherrie shared that fashion spirals, so keep some of your great pieces because they may come back in style years later! She also shared that a great purchase that is in style right now is a denim chambray shirt that you can dress up or wear with sneakers!

Tip #10: Look your best so you can feel your best and be your best self!

This is from me, from the whole experience.  In order to be the best mom, you have to be your best self.  When you look good, you feel good and that positivism can flow through all of your interactions with your family, friends, clients, etc... It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to look pretty good! I'm going to try my best to put this in action every day!

The Total Mom Makeover Season Two applications are now available, taking place August 4-6 in Las Vegas, NV!

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