Confessions of a Non-Stage Mom

There are four words that can strike fear or love in a mom’s heart. Elementary school talent show. Ahhh, I have such fond memories of mine. I did a tap dance routine with my younger sister every year. I believe in our very first show we wore raincoats and twirled umbrellas to “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddy Rabbitt. Oh, yes, that was a 45 rpm record that we played over and over again until it was so scratched it wouldn’t play anymore. As we got older, we stepped it up with some clogging to “Mountain Music” by Alabama. Yes, that’s how we rolled in Virginia 30 years ago.

Last year, my 8yo son performed in his talent show for the first time. You can read all about it here. This year with both kiddos at the same school, we thought they should both perform. It was a no-brainer for my older son (he’s 9yo) who pretty much has one awesome talent – Kung Fu. Figuring out a talent for my athletic kindergartner was more of a challenge. He couldn’t dribble a soccer ball or throw baseballs on stage. Hmmmm.

One day Pharrell’s “Happy” came on in the car and my youngest son shocked me by singing all of the lyrics and singing with some attitude. Yes! He would sing in the talent show. He wasn’t very into the idea at first, so we got him a few singing lessons to test it out. After the first lesson, he was hooked. I was so excited for him to branch out and do something he had never done before. He was six! Everything is a big accomplishment when you’re six, right?

As the show got closer, we started practicing everyday. And then a few days before the show, my nerves caught up with me. No, not his. Mine! I suddenly felt like I had unintentionally pushed him into something that would blow up in my face. What if he forgot the words? What if he froze? What if he just puked on-stage? What if it was a horrible experience that plagued him for life? I could envision him walking into a therapy session at the age of 25 and saying, “Well, it all started when my mom wanted me to do that stupid talent show when I was in kindergarten…”

That’s when I realized God blessed me with boys for a reason. This mommy is not cut out for stage stress! Dance recitals, solos, gymnastics…balance beam routines? Oh lordy. I don’t know how moms stay calm. I would be popping Xanax like Skittles with wine chasers.

The night of the show, I told both boys I was proud of them no matter what happened during the show. They had impressed me so much with their hard work, nothing could erase that. And it was true. I was 100% proud. Doing well in the show (or just having the guts to try) would be icing on the cake. In my mind, they had already achieved so much.

And without a doubt, they both did great! My older son who just loves being in the spotlight did so well. He was psyched! My youngest NAILED IT. He sang, he did his choreographed moves, he smiled and he had fun. Afterwards he found me in the crowd and we shared a very special “I know exactly how you feel” hug that was priceless. Of course, we’re already discussing next year’s act… 😉 talent show steele3 talent show cruz3    talentshowcruz


Kung Fu cropped

How Martial Arts Transformed a Nonverbal Autistic Toddler into a Thriving 9-Year-Old Sensation

Kung Fu StudentWhen he was a happy but nonverbal toddler, our oldest son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctors told us they had no idea if or when he’d become verbal or if he’d ever be social enough to have meaningful relationships. The outlook for his future was unknown and grim. Last year, at the age of 8, he performed a kung fu routine onstage in front of a crowd of 300 people, proving any obstacle can be overcome. This year, he will take the stage again Feb. 27 and dazzle the crowd with a martial arts routine consisting of fan-fighting and staff-fighting techniques with his Sifu (instructor), Robert Roy.

Video of 2014 Practice Session:

We had never thought about getting Steele involved in martial arts until Sam Hicks, the principal at Steele’s school, Lakeway Elementary, told us how much he’d seen other children in Steele’ situation thrive from martial arts. It sounded like a good idea to us, so we did our research and found Robert Roy. During Steele’s very first kung fu lesson, we knew we had found something special.

Kung Fu cropped“Martial arts helped Steele develop both sides of his brain because techniques require students to alternate between left brain and right brain skills, which many autistic children struggle with,” explains Sifu, a twice Hall of Fame inductee as kung fu master who trained in China at the Shaolin Temple. “I worked with Steele weekly and after only a few lessons, I saw dramatic improvements. His physical abilities were improving, his ability to focus was getting stronger and his level of confidence in himself was soaring.”

During the course of his kung fu lessons, we saw Steele transform into a focused, confident and skilled martial-arts student who specialized in staff fighting. In February 2013, he decided to share his martial arts achievements with his community by performing in the annual talent show at his school. The first step was making the audition. The staff at Lakeway Elementary School was extremely supportive and let Steele audition with Sifu. Four more weeks of practice flew by as the talent show quickly approached.

On Feb. 26, 2013, the Lakeway Elementary School gymnasium was packed with more than 300 parents, family members, teachers and friends, all eager for the talent show. I was a nervous wreck! He had never done anything like this in his life and we didn’t know how he’d react to such a huge crowd. When it was time for him to perform, he grabbed the microphone (which was unexpected and unscripted!!!) and asked the crowd, “Are you ready to see it?” The crowd clapped and cheered as Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” played and Steele and Sifu performed an exciting martial arts combat routine.

I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live. I cried from the moment he took the stage, because I was so overwhelmed with joy. Nobody in that crowd understood how every single thing he did was so magical. It was surreal. He didn’t get nervous, he spoke on a microphone from his heart in front of hundreds of people, and his routine was awesome. I still meet people who remember that routine vividly. It’s just amazing. (And they usually say, “Hey, aren’t you that mom who was crying at the talent show?” Yep, that’s me!)

Video of Performance Last Year:

kung fu 2013This year, he’ll be performing again with Sifu and he will be incorporating fan-fighting into the routine. We’re so very proud of him and can’t wait to see him do it again!

Meet Robert Roy (our Sifu!)
Robert Roy, who was trained in China at the Shaolin Temple, has been actively leading the martial arts community in Austin. As owner of Martial Arts Academy, he was active in Crime Stoppers programs, worked with the Austin Police Department’s SWAT Unit, the Department of Public Safety officers and the Parks and Recreation Department in Brazoria County. He is a two-time Hall of Fame inductee as kung fu Master and Living Legend of the Year. He has performed in countless shows and movies featuring martial arts.

He is currently working on a Bully Prevention Certification program designed to supplement anti-bullying campaigns nationwide. He and his wife are also developing an e-book video instructional series for parents and children called “ROOTAGE: Plant the Knowledge.” It will illustrate the hidden techniques and provide a clearer understanding of how ancient martial arts benefits child development.

(Sifu currently teaches throughout the state, but he holds private lessons at World of Tennis in Lakeway.)

Because We’ll be Grandmas Sooner Than We Think

Colorful grandmothers

“He looks like a little old man,” she laughed to her friend. It was a group of four grandmothers, looking at the newest addition to the grandma club – a plump new grandson. “We need to buy him a tiny cowboy hat,” one exclaimed excitedly. They all laughed and nodded in agreement. That baby needs a cowboy hat for sure, because it’s a unspoken law that every child in Texas owns one.

These grandmas were decked out in their coordinating gym attire, looking pretty darn awesome for being around 65-years-old. They were obviously good friends, laughing and gossiping and making plans for a lazy afternoon lunch.  One of these ladies had white hair styled in a cute shoulder-length cut and one was wearing her hair shorter and totally gray. The other two had big, puffy, blond hair.  (Again, Texas.)

I was instantly reminded of my own friends, 90% of them happen to be moms like me. We all have young kiddos, mostly under 7-years-old. Our group functions much the same. We laugh and gossip, but we make plans for a rushed lunch that has to happen before the end of the school day and after preschool drop-off. Instead of sharing pictures in person, we keep up with each through status updates, online photo albums and texts.

Watching those grandmothers, I realized something that seems impossible right now. One day, I will be one of those grandmas. I’ll be old with wrinkled hands, telltale sunspots, deep Crow’s feet and serious smile lines. My friends, who are vibrant, fit, flawless and healthy will be those grandmas too. Well, at least I won’t be alone, right?  Although even when I’m old and gray, I think I’ll see my friends as I see them today. They don’t look old to me now, so maybe they never will.

My hope would be this: When it’s my turn to be the grandma with the fluffy hair and the snazzy workout gear, and a gal in her late 30s sees me at the gym, I want her to think, “I hope I look that good when I’m really old.” I’d take that as a compliment every time.

Image: TheBerry

MommyQ Dishes Mom Blogging Tips on KXAN News

MommyQ Blogging Tips

It was so much fun to meet anchor, Sally Hernandez, and be a guest on the KXAN News at Noon show today. Sally is a smart and sweet and funny gal. It was a great interview and I owe a lot of that her. She’s the mom of a youngster herself, so I think she really understands and appreciates the power of mom blogs.

I talked to Sally about my blog and then gave a few tips for moms who would like to start a blog. I mentioned getting your feet wet on large blogging communities like Blogher and Yahoo!Shine. These are my two favorites online communities and I actually post on both of them. The larger blogs I write for, Babble and BettyConfidential, also use Yahoo!Shine to promote their blog posts. It has a tremendous reach due to the sheer amount of readers.

As I mentioned in the interview, there are many Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to blogging. Here are my top three:


1 – Identify the goals of your blog. Take some time to think about what you want your blog to accomplish. Are you writing it so family members who don’t live nearby can keep up? Are you going to use your blog as a stepping stone into a writing career? Are you wanting to make money with it? There are lots of great reasons, and figuring out what they are will help you create your blog in a way that best fits your goals.

2 – Share! Share! Share! When you do start blogging, share your posts on social media sites. That’s exactly why they exist. Use Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn or any of your favorites to share your posts. This is what you need to do to engage with your readers and start conversations. My friends & family are my biggest fans, so I encourage you to bombard them constantly. 😉

3 – Write about stuff you like. Yeah, that seems pretty obvious, but it’s true. If your write about topics you like, in additional to your fabulous kiddos, you’re more likely to keep writing. Let’s face it, you can only write about picky eaters and colds and diaper fiascoes to a degree. Pepper in the things you love and your passion will shine through in your writing.


1 – Too much information! Be careful about the amount of info your share in your blog. As mom bloggers, we’re always chatting about our kids. That doesn’t mean you should list their full names, where they attend school or daycare, etc. It’s possible to tell compelling and true stories without giving every little detail. Protect yourself and your children.

2 – Never blog angry. The rush of having your own slice of the Internet can be intoxicating, but don’t abandon all of your manners as a result. (And speaking of intoxicating, don’t blog drunk either.) If you have a bad experience somewhere or buy a product you don’t like, don’t go off about it in your blog. That stuff will come back to haunt you. If you read a post and your gut instinct tells you not to publish it, listen to your gut. Better safe than sorry.

3 – Embrace negative feedback. – Don’t spend time worrying about how your posts will be received. You WILL GET negative feedback and some of it won’t be pretty. Take it for what’s it worth and don’t get discouraged. If you have the freedom to voice your option, other people are entitled to do the same thing. That’s the beauty of this highly interactive world we live in!

Plus, learn more about BlogathonATX: Part Deux and find out why you should’ve already bought your ticket. Shame on you!

Teen Choice Awards: Winning Looks & Wild Shoes

If you haven’t heard, because your issue of Teen Beat hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, the Teen Choice Awards were on recently. Not sure what time or when, because I didn’t watch it. I’m a bit too old, a tad too busy and mostly, too uninterested. I did look at the Red Carpet outfits and I was expecting typical teenage-like controversy in the form of skimpy, leather and angry. Oddly enough, I was happily surprised.

Here are a few of my favorite looks. Plus, find out who rocked the cool ugly cute odd pumps pictured above:

Ashley Greene in Valentino
I have no clue who she is, but she looks amazing. I love the dress, the color, the fit, etc. A++ for lil’ Miss Ashley

Kourtney Kardashian in Sass & Bide
Kourt looks stunning. She puts the MILF in MILF, for sure. I love that she isn’t wearing black because her dark features look great in lighter shades. Kudos to the hot mama!

Kristen Bell in Stella McCartney

The sheer top and pattern in the dress is sophisticated and stylish. As Heidi Klum might say, it’s unexpected. The nude accents really make the dress pop. I want one.

Leighton Meester in Pucci

The dress is cute and it looks great with her dark hair and extremely l-o-n-g legs. I’m a fan of short skirts, so I certainly won’t knock her for that. But what about these shoes?
Winner, winner, chicken dinner?
Uhm, eww?

I’m unable to make a firm decision, so I need your help. Do I love ’em or hate ’em?


Raising Boys: That’s Not a Hug, That’s a Headlock

Last week, my oldest son (almost six) had his little brother (almost three) in a headlock. When I walked back into the room, he spotted me and quickly pretended it was a hug. He even added, “Awwwwe, you’re so sweet,” to the fake brotherly love fest to prove his innocence.

Yesterday during my trip to the grocery store, I was grabbing a few Luna Bars when I spotted four small fists punching at each other and swinging around wildly in the aisle.  There was kicking, pinching and yes, another headlock. It was like a cage match without the cage. I stared for a minute with a look of dismay on my face. Maybe someone else will claim them? No such luck. I stepped in and physically separated them.

My boys are entering the “you-annoy-me-and-take-my-toys-so-I’m-gonna-hit-you-until-you-stop-or-until-mom-walks-in-the-room” phase. I have to give them both credit, because they are equally good at provoking each other and most of the time they are both guilty when things reach a boiling point.

I guess we all went through it. I remember when my younger sister and I could hardly stand to be in the same room together. Of course that happened when we were teenagers, so it doesn’t really count. I did shove her once and she fell backwards down the stairs. She still likes to bring up that story today. What she fails to mention is we lived in a tri-level house, so the flight if stairs consisted of six steps. Needless to say, messing up her ponytail was the extent of her injuries.

At the end of the day, my boys still kiss and hug each other goodnight. 75% of the time, they play very well together and genuinely enjoy being pals. The other 25%…well, it’s not a warm & fuzzy. I try to be fair and keep things civil between, but sometimes I just have to let it play out a bit. I have a sneaking suspicion brotherly love is a bit more painful than sisterly love. Not sure. Just guessing.

7 Wine Pairings for Kid’s Food: PB&J, Goldfish Crackers & More

I’m not a wine expert, although I am a “whine” expert. As the mom of two young kiddos, becoming a master sommelier is not really in the cards for me. I drink what tastes good and I have no idea how to pair anything with anything. In the evenings, I often find myself sipping a glass of wine and munching on kid’s food leftovers like Goldfish crackers or PB&J.

I wrote a post this morning on Babble’s Family Style blog about a terrific Wine Moms Series giveaway event. You can enter to win a free one-month shipment which includes lots of savvy wine goodies as well as the vino itself. (Enter to win here!) I made a joke about what wine to pair with peanut butter & jelly or Goldfish crackers, because that’s my sophistication level. That’s when I found a few awesome articles on Real Simple and other sites, so I just had to share:

7 Surprising Wine Pairings for Parents Who Eat Kid’s Food:

1.) Peanut butter & jelly – Argentine Torrontes

2.) Cheerios – Nigori Sake

3.) Goldfish crackers – Riesling

4.) Fruit leather – Rosé

5.) Classic Cheetos – Verdicchio Di Metallica

6.) Slim Jim – Lambrusco

7.) Cracker Jacks – 10 year or older St-Joseph Blanc

Ah, now this is information you can use. Do you have any pairing ideas to share with us? Please do! Thirsty, snacking moms need to know. 🙂