Thursday, May 31, 2012

Feels Good To Be Glam #MaryKayGlam

I can't tell you how often people tell me:  You look really tired.   As if I didn't know.  As if I didn't look in the mirror every day.  As if my tube of under eye concealer goes untouched.  As if the exhaustion is fighting its way through my make up.

But truth be told - I look tired, because I am tired.  I don't get much sleep.  (Just see the labels - Lack of Sleep or Exhaustion.)   

And even though, I go through the motions of applying under eye concealer, pressed powder, blush and painting on enhancing my eye brows.  And on a good day - curling my lashes and brushing on mascara.  I stop there.  

Even though I am a lover of lipstick.  I don't take the two extra seconds to put it on.  I apply clear lip balm to keep my lips from chapping.  But lipstick?  Not really.

And my reasons are silly.  Usually, I just forget.  Or I think, it will just come off while drinking my coffee.  I'll have to reapply it when I get to work or after lunch.  I think - what's the point?  Or - who am I trying to impress?  As if looking in the mirror and impressing myself is not reason enough to make the effort.

But it's amazing what a little lipstick can do?  

While attending the LATISM Top Blogueras Retreat, we were all pampered by the fabulous ladies of Mary Kay.

And we clustered around the Mary Kay Beauty Bar, giddy with girly excitement, trying on glosses - ohhing and ahhing over the products.  Every bloguera left with a sweet swag bag of Mary Kay products.  

I'll be honest, I've never used Mary Kay in my life.  But once I tried on their Rock n' Red
lip gloss - I was hooked.

photo courtesy of Latina Bloggers Connect
Mary Kay nourishine plus lip gloss in Rock n' Red
It felt light and natural.  It wasn't sticky - which I love.  And the best part?  It made me feel better about how I looked.

au naturel - not wearing a stitch of make up
#MaryKayGlam - feeling fab in Mary Kay nourishine plus lip gloss in Cream and Sugar
  Will a smear of lip gloss take away the exhaustion?  Probably not.  But if I can look in the mirror and feel a little bit brighter and a little less worn out - that's good enough for me.  

I think as moms - especially as special needs moms - we put ourselves last.  We forget to make the effort.  We forget to put on the pretty dress that's hanging in the closet with the tags still on because we're saving it for a special occasion.  We forget to put on some blush or lip gloss or paint our nails or brush our hair (please someone agree with me, don't let me the only one...) because we're always running someplace, because we have a never ending to do list.  As moms, we make sure our kids have everything they need while we walk around looking like a hot mess.  (Or is it just me, that's a hot mess on most days?) 
So ever since coming back from DC, I've been taking those 2 extra seconds to apply a little lip gloss. Because the person I'm trying to impress, is me.  And I've decided I'm worth the effort.
What will YOU do to feel glam?

 Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  I was provided with complimentary Mary Kay products, the opinions expresses are my own.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Mama Conference & Retreat [guest post by Kay Marner]

Take Care of Yourself in a Big Way at the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat: A weekend getaway for moms of kids with ADHD, ASD, FASD, and other brain-based disabilities

by Kay Marner
This mama ain’t been very happy lately. In fact, my never-ending worries about my 11 year old daughter, Natalie, who has ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and is on the fetal alcohol spectrum, have put me in a real funk. Most days, my bed starts calling my name by mid-afternoon. I’ve had zero motivation to work or do most anything else. I’ve felt like avoiding any and all social interactions. This funk has been severe enough, and lasted long enough, that I decided I had to make a conscious effort to do something about it—to take better care of myself. So, I made a few small changes in my daily routine. I started going for a short walk several days each week. I pulled my vitamin and mineral supplements out of the cupboard and recommitted to taking them daily. I gave myself permission to spend more time reading for pleasure. I’ve been scheduling a few lunches out with friends.
I firmly believe that when you’re living with the stress of raising a child with special needs, you have to make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. After all, as the saying goes, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Even small investments in your own well-being, like those I listed above, can make a difference in how well you cope with day-to-day challenges.
Yes, small is good. But big is even better! So, I’ve also pledged to do something significant. I’ve registered to attend the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a two day getaway especially for moms of kids with special needs.
The Happy Mama Conference & Retreat will take place July 28–29, 2012, at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa, in Conover, North Carolina. Here’s what the retreat is all about, as described on the Happy Mama website, :

What: A CONFERENCE that focuses on your needs as the mom to a child with a very real, but invisible, brain-based disability, like ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, FASD, PBD, SPD, PDD, or one of the many other overlapping conditions that make parenting your child an extra challenging situation, and a RETREAT, where we’ll provide you with wonderful food, spa opportunities, fun activities, and camaraderie with other moms who know exactly where you’re coming from.

Why: Because parenting children with invisible disabilities is an extremely stressful, isolating, and emotional job and one which can impact your health and well-being in a negative way.

The retreat, hosted by DRT Press (publisher of the book I co-edited, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise) and the website {a mom’s view of ADHD} (founded and edited by Penny Williams) and supported by a growing list of sponsors, including CHADD and the Catawba Valley Medical Center, will offer the perfect blend of education, support, and pampering.

Saturday’s speakers will cover: “Parenthood, Stress, Health, and Resiliency,” “Advocating for Your Child in School,” and “How to Be Happy: Calming Techniques for You and Your Child.” Sunday will be devoted to fun and pampering, which may include spa treatments, relaxing by the pool, gem mining, hiking, yoga, horseback riding, or kayaking.
Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can hardly wait! 
By interacting with other parents of kids with special needs via the Web, I’ve learned that support from others in my situation is the best support there is. My blog, “My Picture-Perfect Family,” is one avenue for those interactions. To celebrate the 4th anniversary of that blog, and in honor of the support and community we parents of kids with special needs offer to each other, I’m running a contest. I will sponsor one lucky mom’s registration, travel and lodging expenses (not to exceed $1000, some meals included, some meals, activities and miscellaneous costs at winner’s expense) to attend the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat. For more information, and to enter the contest, click here. The contest ends at 5:00 pm EST on May 30. 
If you are interested in attending whether you win this contest or not, please don’t hesitate to register now. Registration is just $129 until July 1. If you are “in the business” of ADHD, FASD, ASD, or other brain-based disorders and wish to become a retreat sponsor, email for their sponsorship package.
In the meantime, take a few steps, big or small, to take better care of yourself. You work so hard to bring happiness to your special child. You deserve to be happy too.
Kay Marner, a freelance writer and editor, is the co-editor of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories (DRT Press, 2012). Marner contributes regularly to ADDitude magazine, and her ADHD parenting blog, “My Picture-Perfect Family,” appears on You can reach her at

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Let's Talk About Autism" Radio Capicu Blog Talk Radio Recap

Last month while at Hispanicize, I met George "Urban Jibaro" Torres, founder of Sofrito Media Group.  Both Boricuas from New York, we immediately clicked - we even knew some of the same people.  So when George asked me if I was interested in participating on his Blog Talk Radio Show - Radio Capicu, "Let's Talk About Autism" - I didn't even hesitate.

Even if that meant taking a break from the Top Blogueras Retreat.  Connecting with the Latino community about autism was the very purpose of this blog.  

Today I had the chance to listen to the show.  And it was incredibly moving for me.  Listening to the other parents share their stories.  Also on the show was Veronica Vasquez-Jackson and Stuart Chaifetz

The show really made me think.  It sparked some topics for blog posts.  It made me realize that Latinos want to talk about autism - they just need the opportunity to do so.   

You can listen to the show by clicking the link below and/or it can be downloaded to your iTunes for Free.  That's how I listened to it.


Listen to internet radio with Radio Capicu on Blog Talk Radio

Here are some links that I talked about while on the show: 

Part 200 (Student with Disabilities) and Part 201 (Procedural Safeguards for Students with Disabilities Subject to Discipline) -- This has been extremely helpful; it is a PDF of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. (I found the link here.)  The document is long (about 200 pgs) but it's important to look through.  It goes through Due Process Procedures and the Board of Education Responsibilities and Definitions. I've noted sections in letters to CPSE administrators.  Let them know that you know the law. Please note there is a  disclaimerThese Rules of the Regents and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education ("regulations") are unofficial, and are presented for general informational purposes as a public service. 

Queens Parent Support Group -

For more local resources please visit my NYC Resources page. But please keep checking back - I have LOTS of updating to do.  

April may have been Autism Awareness Month, but for us it's Autism Awareness every day.  Thank you Radio Capicu for helping spread awareness and for allowing your listeners to share their stories.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making My Voice Heard at The White House #LATISM recap

Four years ago, when The Boy was diagnosed with autism - if someone would have told me that it would have led me to The White House, I would have told them to shut the __ __!  (I think you can fill in the blanks.)

And when I started this blog - I never imagined any one would read it other than my professor and maybe, my classmates.  But some how, over the last year and a half - people are reading.

So when I was invited to The White House as one of the Top Blogueras - for a White House Policy Briefing/Panel Discussion on Creating an America that is Built to Last.  I was honored.  And I owned it.

Walking up the steps to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

I am not a public speaker.  I am uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience.  Only when I am truly comfortable with someone, am I at ease speaking.  I always tell people - I am so much better on paper.  On paper, I can get it right.    

When the distinguished panel opened up the discussion for Q & A, I wondered if I should say anything.  I had nothing prepared.  No brilliant question or poignant statement to make.  But I forced myself to raise my hand  (after all there was a chance,  I would not be picked and I could tell myself that I tried) knowing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  

But I was picked.  And I had to speak.  

That's ME!  Standing at the podium.
Photo courtesy of AnaRc
“@Autismwonderland advocates for kids with autism in the Bronx #latismatthewh”
I told them my name, my blog name and where I was from.  I very briefly told them about The Boy and our experience with special needs services in The Bronx. I told them how much The Bronx was lacking when it came to special education and appropriate services.  I didn't say anything earth moving or mind blowing - I just voiced my concerns for my child.  

And while I expressed that the Let's Move campaign was a great idea - I told them that a program like that wouldn't be appropriate for a child like mine.  All children can benefit from physical activity - especially children with autism.

My ultimate question:  What does the administration plan on doing for special needs children?

For a recap on the discussion go visit Mommy Maestra here -   

But there was so much I didn't say.

I could have told them all the things I've been through As a Parent

I could have talked about how I Cannot Lose Him.

I could have told them All the things I want for The Boy.

There were so many things I could have said that I didn't say.  

Should have.  Could have.  It doesn't matter.  I said something.  I made my voice heard.  And I got my point across.
I've been speaking almost all of my life.  I've been writing for more than half.  

My professor inspired me to start this blog.  

LATISM gave me the opportunity to go to the White House.

The Husband and my family and friends gave me the support I needed to go.  

As for The Boy?  He gave me my voice.  

And I will continue to use my voice to speak up for him, until the time comes when he will speak up for himself.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

AutismWonderland Goes to the White House (The First Ever Top Latina Blogger Retreat) #LATISM

Yes, that's right.  THE WHITE HOUSE!

This last week has been insane.  On Friday (5/18) marked 4 years since The Boy's autism diagnosis.  I have a post in draft about that...but with all the last minute preparations, I just couldn't get it done.  But it's coming.  

It's strange the things that can happen in 4 years.  4 years ago, I felt incredibly alone.  There was no one who could understand what I was going through.  In 4 years, I built an amazing community and support system.  And through this blog, I am helping some parents feel less alone.  That feels pretty amazing.  

But back to the White House.  Why am I going, you wonder? 

I was invited to be part of the very first Top Latina Blogger Retreat organized by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM).  And some invitations, a girl just can't turn down.  

Here's a snippet of the press release (to view the full press release visit Latinos in Social Media Latism Announces the First Ever Top Latina Blogger Retreat in Washington D.C.)

The First-Ever Top Latina Blogger Retreat is an exclusive, by-invitation-only event organized by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), with the objective of empowering the top voices of the Latina community with the skills and connections they need to turn their blogs into social enterprises and tools for advocacy. The two-day event will include capacity-building and mentoring sessions with top executives from a variety of industries and causes as well as a LATISM-exclusive briefing at the White House. For more information about the First-Ever Latina Blogger Retreat, visit

Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) is a 501(c) 4 nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community through technology innovation and social media. LATISM also helps to raise awareness among corporate brands, NGOs and government entities about using social media to reach Latinos. Our partnership initiatives include research, event sponsorships, and leadership training. A pioneering social media organization with over 150,000 members in its network, LATISM has been hailed as the most influential online movement in the new multicultural Web. To learn more about the Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) organization, visit      

Sponsors and partners for this event include Johnson & Johnson, Univision, McDonald’s, Mary Kay, Southwest Airlines, Procter and Gamble, Comcast, Fleishman Hillard, Disney/Babble, Macys, Porter Novelli, and Consumer Reports. The event was organized in partnership with Latina Bloggers Connect. 

Check out who else is going (in no particular order):

Mirna Arce
Rachel Armas
Veronica Arreola
Caryn Bailey
Elisa Batista
Jeannette Kaplun
Elizabeth Cerezo
Jessie Nuez
Brenda Cisneros-Dewong
Yvonne Condes  //
Janice Correa
Marta Maria Darby
Luciana Gabriela Davidzon de Scher
Laura de Ona
Julie Diaz Asper
Melanie Edwards
Ana L. Flores
Monique Frausto
Teresa Garza
Dariela Cruz-Gillespie
Carolyn Gonzalez
Maura Hernandez
Eugenia Hurtado
Jennifer Hutcheson
Denisse Icaza
Nadia Jones
Roraima Lassanske
Tracy Lopez
Yolanda Machado
Adriana Maestas //
Yvette Marquez
Silvia Martinez
Yolanda Mason
Ruby Wright
Blanca Stella Mejia
Melyssa Mendoza
Raquel Negrón
Monica Olivera
Carmen Ordoñez
Monica Vila
Maegan Ortiz
Helena Osorio-Zavala
Maria Jose Ovalle
Chantilly Patiño
Angelica Perez
Mariana Perez
Carolina Pichardo
Lynn Ponder
Nicole Presley
Jeannette Quiñones
Lisa Quinones Fontanez
Flor de Maria Rivera
Migdalia Rivera
Vianney Rodriguez
Roxana Soto Romero
Ericka Sanchez
Mercedes Sanchez
Dania Santana Henriquez
Alejandra Suarez
Eliana Tardio Hurtado
Laura Tellado
Laura Termini
Maybelline Valenti
Carrie Ferguson Weir
Ruby Wright 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Managing the OMG Moments as Parents of Special Needs Kids

If you're a special needs parent - you've had those moments that have made stop, hold your head in your hands and screamed OMG.  

I know I have.  Some times in frustration.  Some times in complete disbelief.  And some times in absolute amazement.  The OMG moments as parents of special needs kids runs quite the gamut of emotions.   And getting through those moments are easiest when you have someone who will listen, understand, celebrate or advise. 

That being said, I've been asked to co-host a live, all-text Talk on The Motherhood called Managing the OMG Moments as Parents of Special Needs Kids.  We'll talk about the challenges, feelings of isolation, advocating for our kids, interactions with friends and family and anything else that’s affecting your life these days.  Come share your stories, approaches and ideas, and we'll do our best to support each other. 

I am so excited! 

Here are the details:
When: Friday, May 18, at 1 p.m. ET.  We will chat for 30 minutes!
Where: On The Motherhood, right here -

RECAP of show is here -
Who: The all-text chat will be hosted by the amazing Ellen Seidman of Love That Max.  

Co-hosting are these wonderful women:

Dana, Uncommon Sense,
Hallie, Visions of Johanna,
Jennifer, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism,
Kate, Chasing Rainbows,
Katy, Bird on the Street,
Lisa, Autism Wonderland,
Shasta, Outrageous Fortune,
Sunday, Extreme Parenthood,

Co-host Twitter IDs

Host Twitter IDs: 

Hope you join us!