I believe in giving our kids smart phones at a young age!

I know this might be controversial to some out there and trust me, I weighed the risks and benefits of giving Frankie his own cell phone (since he was 4) and we felt there was more benefits than risks if we “do it right” which is still a learning curve, I’m not gonna lie. We live in a world full of technology and, for many of us, our children understand it better than we do.  I know some parents may feel pressured by their children to provide them with a cell phone at an early age, but aren’t sure when children are actually ready for this responsibility. The right answer to that is that they are ready when YOU are ready for it. Some parents think 4 is way too young and maybe it is. Maybe we just got lucky with Frankie being responsible. Some kids can’t even tie their own shoes (mine can’t yet) so what in my right mind made us think giving him a smartphone will do or accomplish? Well, I saw many benefits. For example:

  • The ability to communicate in emergency situations. Many families don’t have home phones and public pay phones are a thing of the past. With Frankie having seizures we think it is beneficial for him to carry a sell phone at all times.
  • Opportunities for social contact with family. We have family that doesn’t even live in the same state and grandparents don’t get to see him, but on a monthly basis if that. He can communicate with them through video, marco polo, group chats and now even texting!
  • Ability to gain immediate knowledge for the English vocabulary! Yes, our son is not even in first grade yet and reads at a second grade level. He writes and spells awesomely! I have to give the credit to our persistence and the cell phone. We found it a learning game to have him text us. He would sound out words and learned to read faster!
  • Entertainment – What kid doesn’t want to spend hours watching people do silly things on YouTube? Enough said right? I know that with this some restriction and boundaries have to be put into place but that is why we only let him use it when we are around.

We have set boundaries and if he doesn’t follow or respect them there are consequences. He knows that in school the phone is off. Before he gets down from car line we remind him. He knows that cell phones DO NOT belong during a meal. I despise seeing families eating together and none are talking to each other and instead are all into their cell phones. I also do random checks on his phone, for content, texts, etc. And yes, parental controls are in place but now a days you never know and can’t be too careful. If he gets exposed to something that I believe will eventually come across then we address it. (Read my post on why we don’t believe in sheltering Frankie) We are open with him about certain context or sites. We tell him to show us if something looks odd or makes him feel weird or gives him bad vibes. Once again… when we don’t act surprised or be judgmental we see that our son trusts us. He tells us before we even question him and I know that someday this might change, but this is the foundation we are giving him now. For some reason it is working for us and I know for others that is not the case. We are all different and so are our kids. I see more benefits from him having a cell phone and it has proven me right so far. Some may not agree with my methods but it is working for us at the moment. Do you let your toddler have a cell? Maybe you let them use yours? What kind of boundaries are you establishing?

What I learned after becoming debt free.

For the past two years Francisco and I were on a journey to finally becoming free of our debt. It was not easy but we did it! Hard work does pay off! (I know… so cliche) Now that we have been a few months debt free a lot of things internally have changed and not so much has changed either. I guess old habits die hard right? I personally have a sense of relief that makes our lives more peaceful. It is like a pressure has been taken away. It is hard to explain but it feels good to know that we don’t owe anything to anyone. I am not trying to rub it into peoples faces, instead I want others (like our friends and family or anyone needing help) to know that we are here to help in any way we can. Show you what WE did to help us and cheer YOU on in your journey! It was not easy to, but thankful to God the hubby stood by my side, he was supportive, pitched in and shared the joys that came along from the journey. With the journey a lot of hard times came too. Decisions we made at the time to save money and use it to pay debt. Sacrifices we made along the way that were only momentarily.

Now that life is a little easier with no debt I have come to the realization that having debt is NOT normal. We don’t need to live beyond our means and own cars that take a huge lump out of our monthly budget. Who cares if people think my car looks old or isn’t the latest model! It gets me from point A to B and that is what matters! Better yet, it is FULLY ours! But as the “norm” we feel the need to have the nicer things in life and that is fine if we could afford it. If we can’t afford something we DON’T need to compare ourselves to what the “norm” is doing. It is hard to have self control and I am still guilty of blowing off steam by shopping (i know you ladies understand) but now my priorities have shifted. I don’t impulse buy as much and if I really want something (like those pair of Louboutins shoes) then I will make sure I can pay cash for them. Work hard and save hard! And at times I have become stingy with MY money that I worked so hard for. And that is okay too!

I have become more confident too! I can care less what people think. I’m fine with driving an older car model. Wearing second hand clothing and I am also fine on splurging on $500 pair of shoes too! (I can do that now and pay for it when I have the cash. I actually save what we allot for my monthly “commission” to use it towards personal things I might want). I guess you can say I shop smart now! I’m not trying to please anyone but my family ( The hubby and my kid) that is it! I became more goal driven for my family! I have a purpose for my money now! And that is to enjoy it and have enough to not work for it as I age! It feels good to have a plan! I’m not gonna lie, we stray away sometimes and it is normal to do so. We are human after all and sometimes we have those needs and wants. But the difference is that I pay for it with cash when I can and not charge it and owe a bank for it.

It is also hard to not think I deserve something because I am debt free. Sometimes I won’t lie… I second guess myself and when I want something I think that I worked hard and deserve it and NEED it. But then I step back and analyze how happy that would really make me. Sometimes it is impulse and it will go away. We have a 72 hour rule. If you want it after 72 hours then come back for it. Even if at the moment we had the cash for it. We practice that rule with Frankie and more than half the time he forgets. This shows us and him that it wasn’t really a need but a want.

Another thing I have realized since becoming debt free is that I cheap out on other things when i shouldn’t. But at the same time I have become more generous with my money and that is a great thing! i want to be able to help with my money. We can give to our church more frequently and more $, we can help out the community with donations and at the same time show our son that money doesn’t come easy and it has a very important purpose which is to move it along. Use it, invest it and don’t stash it. Whether it is using it for a splurge every so often, or investing it, or saving it for later, but it always moves! Don’t stash it like our grandparents did. What for? So you can have your kids fighting for it later on after you die. Heck No! I made and earn the money and I will enjoy it with my husband! I will set up my kid for success as much as I can and he is on his own after that. Of course, I will help our son out when in need but I am being a little tough on him now because I am teaching him that HE has to earn it and that it is not given to him. We are very generous and I will be the first to admit we splurge on Frankie’s activities and parties, but I personally enjoy that. He has to earn his other things. Those wants he has.

I’ve learned that it gets easier to make choices and not let them worry you. Like leaving our jobs. Right now I am blessed with a great job that I am enjoying (not church related for once) and my husband was able to also leave and find new possibilities and it felt good for both of us to be home for a month and enjoy family time!  It was a much needed break. Those worries are gone when you know that just ONE of your paychecks covers all your expenses! It is a great feeling! I get asked a lot why not stay home, be more present in Frankie’s life? Well, I am not that kind of woman. I am not motherly. I know that sounds wrong and I LOVE my kid, but I am not a stay-at-home kinda mom. I need to wake up and have a purpose to get ready in the morning. I need to feel useful and I need to be active with things other than house or family stuff. It is a blessing being able to chip in as a woman and still do 99% of everything a woman does around the house. YES… as a woman we have responsibilities, as a wife we have duties and so do men as husband and as fathers. I am old school to an extend, but don’t keep me at home baking, cleaning and popping out kids. Nope! not for me!

Lastly, I have learned that now is the time to save even more. We can become too complacent with our lifestyle once it becomes easier so we have to think of the future and invest our money. Make memories today at the moment when you can too because we never know what the future holds or what plans God has in our lives.

 

Why we don’t shelter our kid!

I will start of saying that I am a tough mom! But, I know that by being tough now, in the future my boy will most likely grow up to be a contributing member of society in a positive way instead of negative way. He just turned six a week ago and he is the happiest boy you would ever meet. He is considerate, loving, polite and helpful. I think the reason is because we don’t shelter Frankie. We have always been very BLUNTLY open with him. We get surprised stares at times from other parents because of the way we talk to him or explain things to him. Sometimes even the PROPER words we use.

I believe that our kids now a days need to understand that there is good BUT also evil! When we talk to Frankie we leave ALL emotions out. I think you cannot talk to a child and be all emotional about it.  We are in an era that we have to have hands on combat mechanisms. I believe that we must give our children the tools they will use to defend themselves but at the same time as parents we have to be their advocate. Listen to them, notice any changes, agree with them, BELIEVE them! As parents it is our job to “notice” but we don’t always notice, so what do we do in that instance?

We are raising Frankie up to come to us with ANY problems or questions. We tell him that he will NEVER be in trouble for coming to us or asking us about some hard topics. When he tells us something that I’m not gonna lie is SHOCKING, we act like we are not surprised and thank him for bringing it up. We try to tell him why it is wrong and what we can do in that circumstance. For example, at his age he would come to us with “Mommy, I heard a bad word at school” I would ask him which one and he would tell me that he didn’t want to repeat it because he didn’t want to get in trouble. I will then tell him it is OK because I want to know the word and that sometimes it isn’t such a bad word just not a very nice one. I also tell him that when he brings stuff up instead of us finding out that he will not be in trouble. He would then tell me that his friend said stupid or some other word that isn’t appropriate to use but one that I personally don’t consider a bad word. Like Damn! (That word is a huge argument between the hubby and I. I don’t think it is a bad word and he does. Maybe it is because I use it frequently. It is more of a saying to me. But, Francisco thinks it is inappropriate so I have to stand by that and tell Frankie not to use it) One day though he told us the “F” word and how a friend used that word in school and he wanted to know if it was bad. We were eating dinner and I nearly choked but Francisco and I acted all cool about it. We said yes, that is a VERY bad word. Then came the question of what it means…. Oh Lord! We explained it at a level that a five year old would understand but at the same time made it very clear that is one of those words that is unacceptable.

A lot of times we come across other parenting skills that we don’t agree with and you might be reading this and not agree with us. heck! Francisco sometimes doesn’t agree with some of my methods, but as a couple we come together and talk about it and come to an understanding of how we will parent Frankie. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever we are doing is working for us now and it might change as Frankie gets older but it is what we do for now so no judgement from your part since this is the way we raise our child and we don’t judge what others do because each parent has their own method right?

One of the things we don’t like is to instill FEAR in our kid. I see this a lot with other parents and I personally don’t agree with it. We avoid the concept of fear. (EXAMPLE: If you talk to strangers they will kidnap you. NO!) You can’t let fear run your parenting style.  At some point you have to let go and let life happen despite your best efforts. And trust me, I know it is hard to let go. You can’t live entirely by fear so why raise your child by drilling fear in their minds? When they are older they won’t be prepared to have something hard happen if they are fearful. At least that is our belief. We can show them to act upon that fear instead. However, we avoid dangerous circumstances too. For example, Frankie knows he can have anyone over at anytime including a sleep over, BUT he will NEVER participate in a sleepover over at someone else’s house. I don’t care if it is family. YEAH, strict much? I don’t care what anyone thinks about this topic because to us (Francisco and I) it is a non negotiable. I am protecting my child to an extend.  Not only protection from sexual abuse, but conversations and things that you and I very well know can happen during sleepovers. If he were to EVER go to a sleepover they better be prepared to invite the hubby and I. I am not kidding. We like to expose him to a lot and be real with him but at the same time facilitate a safe space for him and that is the way we think it is best.

I know it is impossible to shelter him out of bullying, racism, sexual abuse, pornography or any other “HARDCORE” topics. Instead, we talk about it, we explain it and we give him the tools. There is no way for our son to eventually see an inappropriate picture or be involved in an inappropriate conversation when we are not there (like school) and that is why we must teach them and talk to them about it and once again, don’t act surprised when it comes up in conversation. We always let him tell us anything and he knows no wrong or punishment will come out of it. Every day when we pick him up from school we ask him how his day went. Whether it is Francisco or I and then when the other parent greets him at home, we ask him again and 99% of the time he adds on to what happened during his day. He will tell us a lot and even before bed once more we ask what was a highlight of his day or something bad (if any?) If there was something wrong or bad he saw or came across? He is pretty good at telling us about it on that day and sometimes it can come up in conversation the next day. But ALWAYS ask and ask again. When it was something shocking, maybe traumatic like “CODE RED”, we then talk to him about it and once he understands we end the conversation and it is important that when the conversation is over that we channel him towards a fun activity that will remove that topic from his head. It will also show our kids that we were cool about talking about such topics and things can go back to normal or fun.

We tell Frankie that there is a lot of evil in the world. We cannot shelter our children with what goes on in the world, but we also tell him that there is more good and that every person out there needs love and that sometimes bad people do bad things because they didn’t feel loved. It might not be our jobs fully to love a person, but we must “show” them love and that we care. Also not to judge because of what you hear. This is even tough for us as grownups. We explain to him that at times people might be having a bad day causing them to act a certain way and although it is not okay we must see good in people. We tell him there is good in everyone and those are the things we must see in people. At the same time, YES there are evil things, bad people, wrong circumstances and our son can’t ever be too prepare from things, but we can’t let fear run us. We cannot shelter them either. If we do what do you think would happen when they encounter “a problem or situation”? We can’t always be there for them. It is impossible.

I may be wrong to some parents reading this and hey! I get it! We each have our style but these are just my two cents!

 

 

Where I’ve been since i left the church.

So, let me start by saying that interviewing is tough! I’m tired of interviews and after much thought and discernment if nothing pans out by the end of the week, i think I’m going to take a much needed break.

You know… New Year, new me? New job? We will see. I’ve turned down 3 jobs. Gone to like 9 interviews and now I’m here just waiting. After this Friday I’m done for. Not completely giving up but just taking my time. I mean…. I’m debt free! My family and i will still be okay and although we will be saving less, we still have our goals to be out in the road someday. Maybe my two year span might not be a reality with this break but I’m home, being a part of my son’s life and a great wife.

For now i seek the church again. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve felt distant let down, betrayed, but i must snap out of it. Like this Sunday’s reading which is my favorite; The son who returns to his Father….. I’m coming back strong Lord!

24 total hours of driving for 1 day to be with family.

So on Friday we left from our home in Fort Lauderdale, FL and headed north to Denver, NC to just spend one day with family. It was worth it!

We are now heading back home. Should be there late at night. Enough time to rest and start our weekly routine again!

We had a great time catching up, eating, laughing, and a full day of fun at the local carnival!

Making memories, eating lots of carnival food, great laughs and moments shared were the best part of our weekend!

Can’t wait to do it again!

Fighting for my church! The reason I left…

After so many years of really trying to “stay and fight” for the Catholic Community and the Church, the day finally came when quitting from my second Church job within the span of a year, wasn’t so much a hard decision as an acknowledgement of reality, morality and truth: I just couldn’t continue to work at an institution that I’ve loved my whole life, but that’s run by men who or what I like to call the “Career Catholics” and are interested in everything but the love of Christ in those who truly seek it.

I’ve been working for a Catholic Church for almost 9 years, two years I did it full time and for free. One year I did it with a 6 day old baby in hand (or in my desk drawer) to be able to return and “support” my pastor. Don’t get me wrong, I felt blessed to have my baby by my side, but it was not easy. It was hard as heck! For 4 years I worked BOTH a full-time 40 hour a week job and a part-time 20 plus hours a week job plus managed to volunteer 10 or more hours out of the week. All this for the church! And for the last year, not only did I have both of those jobs, but had a third night shift job at a retail store after hours when they closed so that I can accomplish our dreams of getting out of debt.

I don’t regret a single moment. I don’t regret a single day. Not to mention the times my son had gotten his epileptic seizures has been at the church, a church event, or prior to something big we were supposed to do at the church. And until this day you know what that tells me? That tells me that as for my husband, son and I we serve the Lord! We are so devoted that the devil puts barriers in place to stop us, to get us to go, but we stand tall!

Working for the Archdiocese of Miami has made me open my eyes to many things that I will save for another blog post. Working with many different priests has also made me open my eyes that they are just men with nothing special but a title and yet the moment they hold that piece of bread up during the Mass I know they stop being who they are and are that instrument that God intended them to be and I believe that at that moment that bread becomes Christ Himself!!!

For a while I asked myself, “What am I doing? Am I doing good work here or making a difference? Is God using me here? Or am I helping to just be the face for an institution that is ultimately unredeemable?” And that is why I’m leaving the Church. The workforce only! I’m 100% Catholic and will always be. I will fight with all my might to do what is right! I refuse to become another “Career Catholic” and although after you read this I’m in search of a job…. At least I’m not in search of my soul. My morals stand strong and my family and I will be blessed.

That is why more than ever we want to go on the road and live a life of service and preaching. Telling our story. There is beauty in simplicity and we don’t ask for luxurious things. We have become too spoiled over the years. We are already rich in love. Rich in Christ and we are descendents of Royalty! We can’t get any richer.

Tomorrow as I go into work (probably for what is my last day ever working for the Catholic Church) I will hold my head up high. I’m not gonna lie, tears will be shed. My everyday tasks will be missed, and to continue on this road of servitude.

What this has taught me is that I’m more Catholic then ever! That I’m proud of my choices. And I know that God will always provide! Our plans might be cut short or delayed but never stopped! As for this Administrative Assistant to the Pastor who dresses punk rock, wears dark leggings, skirts and boots. . . It’s time to shine woman! Don’t hold back! Continue to speak the truth! Defend your Church, even if it means going through difficult times. The Church, our precious and beloved Church, is under attack. And by those we least expect! But I refuse to give up and I will not run away; I will run into the building, my church, my community, giving my entire life, to build up the Church and to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I invite you to do the same, to be the change! Speak up brothers and sisters!

The beauty of decompressing

On Saturdays we tend to almost always do the same thing. We wake up whenever we want. I’m usually first, then it’s Frankie and last comes daddy. Like very last. Sometimes it can get noisy (courtesy of Frankie and I) 😉 We like to eat breakfast as a family so Frankie knows that if he is really hungry, he can grab a fresh fruit in the meantime. 80% of the time we go to our favorite Mexican place (one time for La Union).

For the most part we try to stay active, so we ride our bikes almost everywhere, we visit the park and have lunch at the local farmers market. Then we go to another park or go home to watch a family movie or play board games.

We usually like going to Sunday morning Mass unless we have some plans for Sunday doing it going somewhere we tend to them go to a Saturday evening Mass.

This weekend with Lent already have been started, we keep it simple yet fun but with a little more responsibility. We try to clean more often, pick up more often and today I started to post a few items we are selling!

Little by little we want to sell all we can and since we aren’t in a rush we can still be a little more picky about not giving away all are good and still it for what it still worth.

Here are a few pictures from earlier today.

And a little video teaching you to speak to the birds courtesy of Frankie! 🤭

A timeline has been set!

After a lot of consideration and praying, we have made a very drastic decision to sell all our belongings and save what we can. In the summer of 2021 we will be embarking in an adventure for at least a year. We want to leave it all behind. We are officially debt free and now we are working to save money for two years at least to hit the road full time. We will quit our jobs. Sell all of our belongings and just get up and go!

We will keep you up to date and see what we will be doing along the way!

Please consider making a donation for our cause in assisting us for gas!

https://www.gofundme.com/catholicfamilyontheroad&rcid=r01-155197397157-c74aa4151fff4dde&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

 

So I did it! I quit EVERYTHING!

New things are happening and it is for the best! I quit two of my part time jobs and my main full time job to take a church job doing something I love! It is a lot less pay, but have some flexibility and love the atmosphere. It might not seem like the best move for someone following the Dave Ramsey plan but it is the best move for our families happiness! Even Francisco quit his corporate job to work from home! Our son needs us and he is more important! We feel a lot more happy! More at peace! More time for family! No amount of money could ever replace that!