Money, Money, Money…. you can’t live with it, you can’t live without it!

Money is such a tricky subject to talk about. Everyone was raised differently, has a unique current financial situation and prioritizes spending in different ways.

I know when I finally realized that money wasn’t always going to be easily accessible and I was going to have to learn how to manage my own.


I was raised in Mexico for a lot of my youth and this meant that I was blessed enough to go to a private school, had a live-in  cleaner and nanny, live-in cook, gardener and at times even a chauffeur. The only downside to this way of life is that went I went to boarding school at the age of 16 I didnt even know how to make my bed, put my clean laundry away, cook or pay a bill.

Three years later when I started University in England, doing Theology during my gap year, I was faced with my first financial wake up call. I had been given a certain amount of money for my whole academic year. My parents deposited this money into my own bank account. I had never had my own bank account and this was the most exciting thing I had ever been given. My parents informed me that my money was supposed to last me from September 2002-June 2003.

I knew I had a lot of money in my bank account so as the days/weeks went on I started spending a little here (new shoes for the rainy weather), a little there (DVD’s from to stay entertained in the evenings in my dorm while I was sick with chest infections). I of course spent money on groceries, doctors appointments, bus fare, train tickets, laundry, etc but only two months after I had been given the money I soon realized my bank balance = 0

I totally freaked out!! I called my mom, who passed the phone to my dad, who then proceeded to tell me how I was meant to manage that money and make it last until June!! It was only October!!! I cried and panicked and pleaded with my dad to send me more money. I explained that I was careless and unaware of how to properly manage my money. Him and my mom lived in France, so he told me they would go over my finances the following week when they came to England to see me for my birthday (October 13th). I was so relieved. I only had a few days without money and then my “financial backer” would arrive and make all things right, right??


My dad and mom, with all their wisdom, decided that would be the perfect opportunity to let me fall flat on my face and learn a VERY important lesson in life. You can’t spend money frivolously (cinema, movies, clothes, bags, shoes,) if it is intended for some other expense which is a necessity (food, transport, rent, bills,medicine).

We sat for over 3 hours going over my past two months bank statements. We used my highlighters and used them to categories each charge on my debit card and associate it with a need:

  • Rent (fixed expense)
  • Bills (fixed expense)
  • Transport (fixed expense)
  • Medical (fixed expense)
  • Classes (fixed expense)
  • Weekly grocery shop (fixed expense)
  • Fun (fluctuates)
  • Meals out (fluctuates)
  • Clothes (fluctuates)

I have listed just a few of the categories to give you all an idea of how detailed this session with my dad was. Then he showed me the total amount of money he had given me initially. Then he explained how this was meant to be divided into 10 months. Then once I new my “monthly amount” I could figure out what fixed expenses I had to make every month.  Only after ensuring that I could pay for all the “fixed expenses” then could I use the rest of the money on the cool stuff, on buying that cute top I saw at Top Shop, those awesome Wellington boots I had my eye on or go out for a meal with my friends.

I soon realized that the money my parents had given me was in fact not as much as I thought. They graciously and generously covered my basic expenses but I was not meant to use it on living the “glamorous  life”.

I  had learnt my lesson, I was ready to be careful with the next lump sum my parents would give me. Little did I know that there would be no more money given to me for that academic year. I don’t know if they couldn’t afford to give me more or they simply chose not to but I am grateful today that they stood firm and didnt cave to my tears and begging.

My parents told this Mexican princess that she would have to go and get herself a job. A JOB!!! I had never had to work a day in my youth and had no idea how to even get a job! There came lesson 2: write a resume and go walk around town handing it out.

Unfortunately for me, having no experience in the workforce meant I wasn’t qualified for anything yet. That’s what I was at University for, right? Anyway, turns out the only place that would hire me was a Intermediate School in the tiny town of Midhurst in England (Elementary school for americans). But they didn’t hire me for my languages (French, Spanish and English) they hired me to CLEAN!!!!!


I had never swept in my whole life, I had no idea how to use a vacuum cleaner, dust, mop, scrub toilets, bur some comic reason this is the job I was handed and all I knew was that I needed money.



So, everyday I would wake up and do my college work and then when the clock struck 3pm I walked over to this other school and cleaned up after little kids. I was in charge of cleaning the locker rooms, the bathrooms, the head-mistresses office, four classroom and sweeping, mopping and waxing/polishing the corridors.

I soon realized the importance of not getting myself into financial trouble.

Fast forward to 2008 when my then boyfriend, now husband George, and I give birth to my little girl. We were straight out of University. Working our first proper adult jobs and making ends meet. We suddenly had a baby to look after and provide for.

I was so blessed to be married to a man that loves his numbers. He himself was raised with a full-time working mom and dad. They provided for their family but didn’t always have money for extras. He learnt at a very young age the value of saving and managing your money wisely.

We tried many different approaches to managing our joint finances. I had my own way of managing money which involved a lot of extravagant things  but still took care of the “fixed expenses”. George was looking towards the future. He explained to me at length that we deserved a good life. That we would work hard and save hard and sacrifice certain luxuries (for instance,staying in a campsite instead of a hotel so that you still get to travel; or shopping around for the best deal before you book a flight) so that we could ensure we provided for our daughter and could some day buy a flat for ourselves in London (where we lived at the time).

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it was easy. It sucked when my friends were going out and buying lots of nice new designer handbags with their hard earned paycheck; or when we couldn’t go out for a meal with friends because the restaurant they had chosen was outside our price range. Some people would get annoyed at us for being “cheap” or for being so careful about how we spent out money. Some days it would get to me and I would cry and get angry and I would take it out on George (poor George).

This could have ended my marriage. I could have chosen to walk away and look for a man that had already earned his wealth or had inherited it. I could raise my daughter with my family back in Mexico and find a man that was older than me (24 years old I was) and take care of us financially. I chose to stand by the man I fell in love with at the age of 20. The man who I had prayed for. The man who fathered my daughter. The man I knew loved me and was trying his best to provide for us.I chose to change my attitude and my perspective on money.

I had to work full-time and put my daughter into childcare for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I barely got to spend time with her in her first five years of life. I had to save 1/3 of my paycheck, use 1/3 for our rent and contribute 1/3 towards our fixed expenses. We of course allowed ourselves some spending money so we could each do fun, enjoyable activities. The amount wasn’t a lot but it was what we could realistically afford at that time. We made it work!

Fast forward another 7 years and here I find myself living a life I only hoped I would get to have. I have a house we bought and remodeled. I get to be a stay-at-home mom for the moment and I live in what I consider to be a small preview of what paradise is- Coronado!

Coronado Bridge.jpg



Last night George and I sat down again to re-evaluate our finances. It is not a talk I look forward to. It can stress me out and worry me but I have chosen to dedicate time to it and help my husband come up with our budget together. We have found that this helps us avoid arguments and resentments.


I don’t know if you are someone that is great at managing money, if you are that’s fabulous!

If you are single and are spending everything you earn let me encourage you to stop a moment and reevaluate. Think of what you want to achieve in your life. Try and get your finances in order. Do the work and spend the time and figure out what your fixed expenses are and how much you can spend to still have fun but also save. I’ve had people tell me that they will save when they earn more money… Honestly, if you don’t get into the habit now who is to say that when you earn more you will have the discipline to do it.

If you are married and you are constantly having arguments with your spouse about: how much money you spend, or they spend money, or how you can’t afford this or that, take the time to sit down and figure out what you can both do to understand your finances and the activities that you want to do. Communication is key! How is my husband supposed to know that I think my daughters gymnastics class is an essential part of her childhood if I dont explain to him my reasons for thinking this way. Once George understands why I want to spend money on this activities it’s easier for him to give it value.

At the end of the day, money makes the world go around. You can’t live with it and you can’t live without it!!



Honey Garlic Shrimp to the rescue!!!

tube anger

One of my all-time favorite meals is shrimp. Shrimp cocktail, popcorn shrimp, you name it, I’ll eat it. Aside from the delicious taste one of the things I love about shrimp is that it is quick and easy to cook. When I lived in England I worked full-time and I was a full-time mom and wife. After work I would have to rush to the tube station to catch my train or I would be late to pick up my daughter from nursery. If you have ever put your child into a nursery you know that they are ruthless. For every minute you are late they charge you $15 (its extortion)! After a very stressful journey on a sweaty, crowded train I would arrive to pick up my daughter at 6pm. After her 10 hour day in nursery she was exhausted so the bus journey home was less than ideal, especially during her terrible two’s when she would have full blown meltdowns and slither off the seat onto the floor as strangers silently judged me. Once we got home (by this point I’m exhausted and running on fumes) I had to figure out a way to keep her happy while I cooked dinner. This meal filled my tummy and put a smile on my face many times, hope you enjoy it.


Bon Apettit!



  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
  • Bag of Couscous
  • 1 ½ cup of broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of minced ginger
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce



  1. Cook Couscous as per packet instructions
  2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a dish creating a marinade
  3. Place the raw shrimp in half of the sauce and allow to marinade (ideally for 15-30min). Discard the marinade
  4. Over medium to high heat in a skillet pan sear the shrimp in some oil , about 1 min per side
  5. Warm the remaining sauce in the skillet with the broccoli
  6. Place the shrimp on a bed of couscous and drizzle with the remaining sauce and broccoli

Here comes the Fear of Everything


I have never considered myself to be a fearful person. I’m cautious, responsible and aware of potential dangers but have never been the kind of person that lets fear come between her and something she wants to do. When I was younger I practiced gymnastics and at our gym there was a saying drawn on the wall “don’t let fear steal your dreams”. Now in gymnastics this is a crucial factor. When you are trying to do a flip in a balance beam towering over the ground below or you and running full speed ahead towards a stationary vault you cannot allow fear to enter your mind even for a second. If you let fear in you freeze up and that is when you could really get hurt. My worst injury in gymnastics was on the balance beam when I landed with the whole weight and force of my body onto my “private parts” and cut myself in ways I didn’t even know were possible. Needless to say that after that my confidence was never the same. I ended up retiring from gymnastics once I realized the fear was there to stay. Why risk it right?

bella hospital

Well, when becoming a mom I was in for a crash course in not letting fear take hold of me. When I delivered my baby girl she had no heartbeat and was not breathing. She was given chest compressions and intubated and rushed to the NICU. She spent the first five days of her life in the NICU and unfortunately I had a series of medical complications which meant I was not able to leave my hospital bed. The above photo is the first time I got to see my daughter. My husband took the photo once they had stabilized her and he printed it out for me to keep until I was able to meet her in person.

I spent nine months waiting to meet this tiny human and then when she finally arrives I don’t even get to meet her. Talk about soul crushing. Everyone that came to visit got to go and meet her and then they would come and visit me and tell me all about her. I was so grateful that everyone had taken the time to come meet her but inside I was crying every time I heard from someone else what my little girl was like.

Not letting fear consume me was all I could think about. When it is 1am and you get woken up by neonatal doctors telling you that your baby has an infection that isn’t responding to antibiotics and they need to get your consent to give her a lumbar puncture it’s kinda hard to not go into full on panic mode. Not to mention when the next day they tell you that there is swelling in her brain and a small bleed. Talk about experiencing the Fear Factor of parenting straight off the bat. I had only one choice and that was to trust that my baby was in God’s hands and he was guiding all the doctors. I knew I would get to meet her eventually and until then I had to make sure I took care of myself and recovered.


Finally, on the fifth day I was able to go and meet my baby. It was hard not to cry when I was wheeled into the NICU and saw her covered in cables, feeding tube into her nose, bruising on her tiny face from the forceps. When I finally got to hold her it was bliss. A real miracle occurred when she recovered a lot faster than they expected and on the 7th day we were allowed to go home.

Our first night back in our apartment was the scariest of all. The reality finally kicked in, we were home alone (no medical staff around to rescue us) in charge of a tiny human…… Talk about fear kicking in, we took turns through the night making sure she was still breathing. At one point she was so still my hubby put his finger under her nose to make sure she was breathing, when he couldn’t feel anything he decided the best thing would be to place his hand on her chest and give her a little nudge. I have never been more terrified.

Becoming a mom certainly makes you more acutely aware of all the possible dangers in your every day life. Some nights I would lie in bed and think about all the things that could go wrong…. It’s a good thing I’m not normally a fearful person otherwise I doubt I ever would have left my house. I see mom’s who are terrified of letting their kids be touched by friends and family without a complete wipe down with antibacterial wipes, moms who wont let their kids go on play-date for fear that something might happen while they are away and of course the helicopter moms I see on the playground who don’t let their kids out of their sight for a second and their arms are always outstretched ready to catch. I don’t judge them, I don’t think anything badly about the ways they chose to deal with these fears that parenting seem to awaken within us.

All I know is that I am grateful that over the years the fears have subsided and now with my second child they are almost non-existent. Charlie is the kid that eats leaves off the floor at the park, or the kid who gets to play on the jungle-gym and then gets to have a snack without even washing his little hands. He falls all the time and being a boy he definitely likes to climb everything he sets his eyes on, so I guess it’s a good thing I have learned to let fear go and embrace the unknown.

Charlie swin


Totally addicted to……ME!!!

As a mommy (actually as a human)  I think it is very important to have a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises. Just like you go to the gym or an exercise class to look after your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. You can boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy for your family by following a few simple steps.

  1. Connect with others. As a mom its easy to sacrifice your own friendships and get completely swallowed up in your kids lives. It’s important though to maintain your friendships and develop new ones with people who will support and enrich your life.
  2. Take time to enjoy. Making sure that before the day is over you have set aside time for hobbies, activities or projects you enjoy is important. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. You may not be able to take time to enjoy yourself everyday but make sure you get a babysitter, set up a playdate or get your other half to look after the kiddos while you indulge in something that makes you happy. Hiking
  3. Participate and share interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Taking the time to join a club or a group who share your interests will keep you motivated and will help you connect.
  4. Contribute to your community. Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Do something nice for a friend, a neighbor. Get involved in your child’s school. There are so many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. They say that an effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too.
  5. Take care of yourself. As I have said before being active and eating well are important – these help maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise – stay active. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out.              healthy mind.png
  6. Challenge yourself.  I find that as a mother I am challenged every day. Perhaps you need an extra challenge so you could learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal. You could take on something different at work; commit to a fitness goal or learn to cook a new recipe. Your mental fitness is improved when you learn. Meeting your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement.
  7. Deal with stress. Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. Find a way to wind down every day.
  8. Rest and refresh. Sleep restores both your mind and body. As a new mom it is hard to make sure you get plenty of sleep. It is important to try to go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep.
  9. Notice the here and now. As life gets chaotic around you don’t forget to simply ‘be’ in the moment. It’s easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the present.
  10. Ask for help. This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor about where to find a counsellor or community mental health service. The perfect, worry-free life does not exist. Everyone’s life journey has bumpy bits and the people around you can help. If you don’t get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.

A mentally stable and happy mother is the best thing for her kiddos. It is easy to push our needs and prioritize those of the family. It’s tempting to do this but it is not sustainable, eventually you will crash and burn. You may find yourself screaming at your three year old for something minor or that you are constantly arguing with your other half. Before you know it things will be a mess and you won’t even know where to start to fix it. Make mental health and wellbeing a priority in your life today- Your family will thank you for it!

Crying in an airplane toilet! Are we there yet???

Are you crazy? You are traveling on a plane to the South of France with a four week old baby? What about the germs? How will you cope? These are some of the things my husband and I first heard when we decided to take our daughter to Nice, France when she was a month old. We wanted some sunshine and we decided that rainy London wasn’t good enough for us to spend the summer even if we had just had a baby!

Nice with Bella

I have to say that the one thing I hear over and over from fellow moms is their fear of traveling with an infant. It seems to be the one scenario that really stresses them out and worries them. Perhaps it’s the idea of being on a plane so high up that their life is literally in someone else’s hands but I think it’s the fear of the unknown. Sure, many new moms and dads are frequent flyers so you would think that flying for them is second nature and in turn doing it with an infant is not a problem. That’s where you would be wrong. Almost every person that has been on a plane has at some point or another shared that flight with a screaming child (baby, toddler, etc.). For many that can be a scaring experience. So much so that when they have a child and it’s their turn to fly they are plagued with insecurities of how the flight will play out.

My daughter is 7 years old and she has been to almost ten countries already (Morocco, Ireland, France, Italy, Mexico, etc.). She is a seasoned traveler and behaves impeccably. Of course it wasn’t always smooth sailing, we had to train her and teach her the do’s and don’ts of flying. Every parent is entitled to a holiday, to leave their everyday lives and go experience a little piece of paradise even if it is just for a few days. I hope that this list helps either reassure you in your travels with a child or gives you some ideas of how to cope.

Family on a plane

  1. Adjust your expectations:

The biggest mistake you can make is to think too optimistically. I’m not saying you have to dread the journey and only look forward to the destination. I’m saying that it is important that you are aware of the possible issues that may arise during your trip. If you can envisage what could possibly go wrong during the flight it will help calm your nerves. You will be aware of how to react when certain problems arise.

  1. Expect the unexpected:

I know you expect your baby to poop and pee during the flight and you will come prepared with wipes and diapers. Just make sure that you come prepared with extra diapers that you would normally use in that space of time. Trust me, when you are traveling for some reason children seems to wet and soil themselves more than normal. You do not want to find yourself with your last diaper in your hand hoping that your little one has no more surprises for you.

You never know how a child is going to react to a flight. The altitude, crowds of people, sound of the engine, being restricted to one area may affect them more than you anticipated. Make sure you have some sort of medicine in case your child should need it.

  1. Travel comfy:

Even if you are a super trendy mommy I would recommend you travel in the most comfortable clothes you have. Even clothes you don’t care if they get spit up on, pooped on and spilled on.

Dress your child in clothes that are easy to remove and are comfortable and warm.

Make sure you bring your infant carrier with you on the plane. I find the best time to strap a baby on is as you are boarding the flight and having to give up your stroller. The carrier will also be a life saver when you are walking around the aisles with you child. Your arms will need a break and it helps if you can strap your little one to your chest as you move about the cabin. If you have an infant the closeness will help comfort them. If you have a toddler being able to look around will satisfy their curiosity.

  1. Make good use of your time:

Don’t worry too much about staying in your seat while everyone else is boarding. If you can go to the back of the plane and let your child look around at all there is to see. There will be enough times when you are restricted to your seat. Don’t be too eager to sit down.

Before you take off make sure your child doesn’t need a change of diaper. You don’t want a wet and uncomfortable baby while you are taking off.

  1. Pack wisely:

Like I mentioned before it is better to over pack diapers than to run out. Another important thing to bring is extra clothes. I normally always have a spare outfit in my diaper bag but on a flight I recommend having two outfits.

Here are a few items that I found really helped out:

  • Travel pillow (you can place this under your arm to help you support your child)
  • Breastfeeding cover (not only is this essential if you are nursing but even if you don’t it will help shield your infant from the airplane lights which tend to stay on at all times, unless it’s an evening flight)
  • Plastic bag to dispose of dirty diapers, wipes or used up food pouches. You don’t want to have to get up every time you have to throw something away.
  • Soft, thick and warm blanket. They tend to blast the A/C on planes and the last thing you want is a cold baby. Kids tend to sleep better and be comforted if they are in a warm and cozy environment. The best way to do this is to wrap them up in the blanket while you hold them. More times than not they will fall asleep right in your arms.
  • Bring enough food and snacks for your child. It’s better to have more and not need it. Food pouches are excellent for flights. Any type of finger food that your child can be distracted with is also a must have. If there is one food that your child loves make sure you bring it and save it in case of a breakdown.
  • Bag of fun: buy a new toy for the special occasion. Something that will keep you child engaged for as long as possible. I recommend taking some of their normal toys too and packing them away a week before the trip so that it’s a special treat when you pull them out of the bag.
  • iPad’s are your friends. Don’t for a second think you are a bad parent if you bring an iPad as a source of entertainment. Even for a baby watching a video will be a great distraction. They may not be engaged for very long but every second counts when you are up in the air.
  • Don’t forget to sing to your child and try and have some fun with them.
  1. Set up your area:

It is policy that you have to have all bags stowed away under the seat in front of you or in the cabinet space above. You should, however, make sure you have everything you might need during takeoff and landing within your reach. Have the wipes, diapers and pacifier in the pocket in front of you. Have the blanket on your lap and a toy handy. If things go chaotic quickly you won’t lose anytime trying to find the essentials.

  1. Feed a child during takeoff and landing. It helps so their ears don’t pop.
  2. If you are traveling with your hubby then send him on the plane first to set up your area and pack away your bags. While you stay out by the gate as long as possible. If you have a toddler, let them run around as much as they want during this time.


Don’t let yourself be judged. Of course if your kid is the one crying and kicking up a real fuss you should give an apologetic look or say you are sorry but don’t for a second let it get to you. If people want to judge and be mean ignore them. Remember that your child takes queues from you. If mommy is stressed and anxious your child will probably pick up on that and react to it. Try and stay calm and be forgiving of yourself. You are doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the experience don’t forget that the airplane toilets are great for locking yourself away and having a good cry!


Bon voyage!

Pregnant in a bathroom

So there I am, my pencil skirt wrapped around my tummy, my stocking down by my ankles and the worlds smallest employee bathroom in the basement of my office- oh and a positive pregnancy test in my hand. They say the whole world stops when you find out you are pregnant. All I know is that the already tiny bathroom started to close in on me while a thousand thoughts flushed my mind. What was happening? How did this happen? My parents are going to freak. What about George, oh George, we are too young.

Lets just say that when I contemplated my life and my ten year plan, pregnant in a bathroom at work fresh out of college was not part of the deal. I was only twenty three, hadn’t even started my career in law, hadn’t even done all the traveling I had planned (Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, Australia).

Flash forward to present day. I am a mom of two incredible children, Bella who is currently seven years old and baby Charlie my little fifteen month old. I am blessed enough to be a stay at home mom now while my husband goes out to work everyday and leaves me behind to what he thinks is basically a permanent vacation.

George seems to think that when he goes off to work my life is a fairy tale. The kids behave, everyone does what they are supposed to do. The house cleans itself, the groceries just magically arrive in our fridge and the children never have meltdowns. My job is the easy one-  said no mom EVER!!!

Of course parenting is totally rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way (I think we are paid to say that) but when my sister or husband or someone else who hasn’t had the pleasure of 24/7 with an infant and no breaks decides to brush off what I do everyday as “easy” or “oh I would love to do this everyday” it takes all of my strength to smile and nod.

In my family I am known as the addict, the TV addict. Yes, I am that girl who watches EVERY show out there. Sci-fi, Romcom, Drama, Crime, Teen-angst, you name it I watch it. What no one seems to get is that when the show starts rolling, I am no longer someone’s mommy, I am no longer Mrs Complaints department, the finder of all lost things. I am a girl, on a sofa, with a remote control watching someone else’s problems and struggles. Do I use TV as a form of coping, yes, yes I do (you got a problem with that?). Do I use TV as a form of escapism? Why of course I do, doesn’t everybody else? I promise Netflix was created for people like me, an endless list of shows to binge watch and discover- yes please!

Should I be doing something else with all of that time? Probably, then again the cleaning can wait, the kids are in bed, my husband is on his computer and I have a date with #TVD #Thegoodwife #chicagopd #HTGAWM #scandal #greysanatomy #elementary #reign #arrow #codeblack #gameofthrones #blacklist #bones #suits #whitecollar #castle #pll #teenwolf #fliporflop #homeland #sherlock