The Journey to Middle School Has Begun

It’s been almost two weeks since Brandon finished 5th grade. Almost two weeks since I’ve been brainstorming in my head how to write this post. The last month or so was a whirlwind of events: 5th Grade trip to Busch Gardens (which I chaperoned), 5th Grade luncheon, Middle School Orientation, Promotion Ceremony. Each event making clear the inevitable, my first born is growing up. I know that I have an 11 year old who will be entering middle school in two months, but I honestly can’t believe it. It feels like just yesterday I dropped him off for his first day of preschool.

I don’t think I’m ready for what lies ahead. My boy will be more on his own. He’ll be on the bus to and from school, in the crazy Miami traffic, instead of just down the street from my job. He’ll be even more accountable for keeping up with a schedule and assignments for seven classes and seven different teachers. What worries me most are the social challenges he may face. His two best friends will be attending his same program, but he will inevitably be faced with the trials and tribulations of attending a new school, curiosity about girls, bullies, and the information kids are susceptible to these days (gosh, I sound old!) via the internet. Kids are growing up way faster than when I was his age. I know I can’t stop him from growing up, and I can’t stop him from being exposed to things I’d rather he not be. All I can do is encourage that he communicate with us, and let him know that we’ll always be on his side, and we’ll always be there for him, no matter what.

Posted in Family & Friends, Life Happens, The Boys | 5 Comments

Prevent Color Bleeding with Purex® No Sort™ #laundrysimplified #cbias

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

Just a few short weeks ago, right around the time we moved into this house, I was sorting laundry, piles and piles (more like miles and miles) of it. Matty walked into my bathroom and said, “Mommy, I’ll help. This can be one of my chores!” Hallelujah, an assistant! I was so grateful for this little laundry helper that I grabbed him, gave him a big hug and lots of mushy kisses. After our little love fest, we continued sorting. And sorting. And sorting (WHY did we have so much dirty laundry? I washed almost everything right before our move!). We finally got to the bottom of the basket and had about seven loads. But the work was far from over. Those seven loads have to be washed, dried and folded. Ayayay!

Every laundry day (or days) after that, my little assistant and I go through the same routine…until this week! I received an email from the folks at #CollectiveBias telling me that the “Rules Have Changed” thanks to Purex®. They wanted to know if I wanted to try the new Purex® No Sort™ for Colors detergent. Of course I did! I love spending time with my little guy, but I’d rather be having fun than doing chores, and it sounded like Purex® No Sort™ would cut my laundry time in half. We could stop sorting and start playing!

Now we had to go purchase the detergent. We hopped in the car and headed for Walmart. There it was, right there with all the other Purex® products. That was easy! We were now ready to go home and do some laundry.

I’m happy to report that after using Purex® No Sort™ for Colors, we’ve reduced our typical seven or eight piles of laundry to four. Success! Because of its Anti Color Transfer Technology, the reds, blues, purples, beiges, blacks and whites stayed exactly as they should. We’re saving time, and money: we’re washing less loads, so that’s less times we run the washer and dryer. Purex® No Sort™ for Colors make #laundrysimplified!

Here is some information from Purex® about this latest product:

Laundry users believe sorting is an essential part of their laundry routine so our challenge is to convince them that has changed. In order to reassure our consumers we have focused on educating them on our breakthrough Anti-Color-Transfer Technology which traps loose dyes in the wash and does not let them settle onto other fabrics. As a result they are able to simplify their laundry routine by doing less sorting and less loads.

There’s one small disclaimer to using this new detergent. The label on the back of the bottle says: Purex® No Sort™ detergent is packed with innovation, but it can’t perform miracles, so please follow these words of advice: wash strongly colored fabrics or new pieces of clothing, especially jeans, separately at least 5 times before doing a mixed color load with Purex® No Sort™ detergent.

Learn more about Purex® No Sort™ by going to the Purex® site or on social media:
Hashtag: #laundrysimplified

Posted in Deals and Discounts, Social Media | 3 Comments

Disney’s #Maleficent, and my interview with Sam Riley

Disclosure: Disney Pictures provided me with admission to a pre-screening for Maleficent, as well as the opportunity to attend the round table press day with Sam Riley.

I attended a pre-screening for Maleficent last week, and have had to hold my tongue regarding the awesomeness that is this movie…until now! With it’s official release today, I can tell you that it is amazing! I had been waiting for the release of Maleficent for months, and was overjoyed when I was invited to attend a pre-screening of the movie.

I also had the opportunity to interview Sam Riley, who plays Diaval in the film. Diaval is Maleficent’s sidekick and confidant throughout the movie. The interview process was a lot of fun, and he provided lots of wonderful insight into the film and the roles. But before things got started, we had to accessorize: Upon entering the room, Sam asked us all to put on the plastic Maleficent horns we were given, and of course we obliged! Here are some of the things Sam shared with us.

How the relationship between Maleficent and Diaval develops:
“At first the relationship is servile and he’s scared of her. They are going to spend every single day with each other for 16 years, and that’s a lot for any relationship, that’s a very long relationship in Hollywood! I’m the only person who’s more or less her sole companion for that time. We thought it would be fun to develop a certain element of bickering and them getting on each others’ nerves, but also the mask that she wears of coldness slips in front of him because he sees moments of vulnerability. Over time he can start to occasionally point that out to her with the courage that grows from of long relationship.”

About working with Angelina Jolie:
She brought an edge to the character, not only with her ideas of the costume, with the leather…it’s pushing the boundaries–she loved Maleficent as a girl, she didn’t like Aurora. She’s born to play it [the role].

How he prepared for the role:
He has played “the darker sides of people” before in the independent films he’s been in. He spent some time with ravens, he watched him, filmed him and worked with a movement coach to take on the elements of his personality and movements to use towards the human incarnation of Diaval. This process helped him realize that “even when I’m a man, I consider myself first and foremost a bird”.

About the movie itself:
“It’s a classic family film, it’s a bit scary…they (Disney) pushes the boundaries, kids want to be thrilled, they don’t necessarily want to be terrified.”

About future roles:
Sam and his wife had a son early this year. When I asked him if, now that he’s a father, is he more inclined to work on more family films, and Disney films specifically, instead of the roles he’s played in the past in independent type of films, he joked that it’s nice that he’s been in a film his son can see before he’s 18. He is hopeful that this role will provide other opportunities for him to work in these sorts of films, but one of the great things of doing film is that you devote yourself to a character for a limited amount of time, and then move on to the next. Whether he takes on work more often to have the family be more secure is one thing, but at the same time he wants his son to know that his father took roles that meant something to him, not just for the sake of working.

More about the film:
I want to avoid spoilers, because it is truly a film you have to see for yourself. You will expect a movie filled with evil and darkness, and there is a bit of that, but there is also a tale about love, revenge, redemption, and the fine line between good and evil.You will be familiar with some characters, like Aurora, the three fairies who watch over her until her 16th birthday, and of course Maleficent, but you will also be introduced to the Moors, a magnificent land with inhabitants and surroundings that are pure Disney magic. There will also be things you didn’t expect: this is Maleficent’s story, not Aurora’s, and everything is not what it seems.

Angelina Jolie plays Maleficent with perfection. From the moment rumors were circulating two or three years ago that she’d been chosen as Maleficent, I knew she was meant to play the role. I’m even more assured of this after seeing the film and the way the character develops.

In a nutshell, Disney pictures has done it once again. They have taken a classic story, given it a few twists and turns, and turned it into something spectacular!

Maleficent is rated PG, and does have a few scary parts. I think children over the age of 7 will enjoy it most. It is definitely a film to go see with the entire family. It opens today, so please go catch it and come back and let me know what you think!

Social Media:
Twitter: @Maleficent
Facebook: DisneyMaleficent
#Maleficent, #MaleficentEvent

Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Here's What I Think, Movies | 1 Comment

Summer #Giveaway from Good Luck Charms Miami!

Summer officially starts one month from today (although here in Miami it’s summer pretty much all year round) and what better way to ring in the warm(er) weather than with a giveaway?! Last fall, I became fast friends via Instagram with Mish Pelaez, the creative force and owner of Good Luck Charms Miami. A friend re-posted one of Mish’s pictures from her monthly giveway, and I fell in love with her pieces. I placed a custom order immediately, and was hooked!

Good Luck Charms makes custom jewelry for all occasions for women and men. Their creations feature beads of all colors and themes, from fun to fabulous, and everything in between. One lucky reader will win the three bracelet set below, “Honeydew Mellon Rosé”. (Another great thing about Good Luck Charms Miami, they give their pieces awesome names!) It’s the perfect addition to your summer wardrobe!

GIVEAWAY: One lucky Brandon’s Puppy reader will win the stunning three piece set pictured above from Good Luck Charms Miami. Just fill out the required entries on the rafflecopter form below. (For first time visitors, one of the entries is a comment on this post. Please scroll to the end of the post and “leave a reply”.)  Winner will be announced on Monday, June 2nd. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Giveaways, Social Media | 10 Comments

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World Coming to DVD!

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World DVD for review. All opinions are my own.

Disney Jr’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World is coming to DVD on May 20th. This latest Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD features five episodes totaling 126 minutes of all your favorite Clubhouse friends: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Pete, and even Professor Ludwig Von Drake.  The main title, Around the Clubhouse World, takes the gang to the Eiffel Tower in France, on a trip down Italy’s Grand Canal,  to Egypt’s great pyramids, and through the Great Wall of China. With the help of the right Mouseketools, the Clubhouse friends get their special passport stamped at each fantastic location. Other episodes include Donald and the Beanstalk, Goofy on Mars, Mickey’s Handy Helpers and Pluto’s Dinosaur Romp.

Around the Clubhouse World is a great way to introduce young children to different parts of the world, and different cultures too! This DVD is a wonderful edition to any Disney video library, and a sure hit with your little ones! After all, who doesn’t love Mickey Mouse?!

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World is available at The Disney Store, Amazon, and other retailers tomorrow!

Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Movies | Leave a comment

We’ve Moved!

About two weeks ago, we moved out of the house we called ours for just over 8 years into a bigger, lovelier house just a mile and a half away. Even though it’s not “ours”, we love it as if it were. Prior to our move, We I (thanks to my awesome friend Angie for helping on the weekends!) had been packing for what seemed like an eternity, but really was only about three weeks. We had an army of people help us move on our actual moving day (so thankful for family and friends who don’t mind a little exercise!). Two and a half weeks later, our space is livable: we finally have internet as of two nights ago, and there is no longer an obstacle course to walk through to get from room to room.

We still have boxes to unpack and frames to hang, but most of what’s left is decorative and we can tackle it little by little. I’ve learned a few things during this time we’ve been living out of boxes that I wanted to share:

  • I may deny it, but I’m definitely a hoarder. I kept every kids’ art project, birthday card, Christmas card, theme park map, and every. single. receipt. to. everything. ever. purchased. I think we threw away about seven large garbage bags full of junk prior to the move, and at least four after! I went through piles of the boys’ artwork and assignments from the last few years and kept just a few special ones. I also prepared piles of clothes and toys for an upcoming garage sale. Now that I had to weed through eight years’ worth of stuff, I’m hoping my hoarder tendencies are kept at bay moving forward.
  • When it comes down to it, we only really need the following essentials in our kitchen: plates, glasses, and silverware for four, a mixing bowl, a small saucepan (don’t forget the lid! I packed all the lids, and had to improvise while making rice our last week in our old house, but like a good Cubanita, resolví!), a large pot, one large skillet, a rounded serving spoon, a good cutting knife, my coffeemaker, and a mug for said coffee. Everything else, while great to have, is not necessary for our everyday existence.
  • Even after 17 years and four homes together, my husband and I still can’t agree on furniture placement or decorating ideas. He wants the TV in the living room and I want it in the family room. He wants the boys to have a playroom (the converted garage), and I say absolutely not because they now have their own rooms and I’m not going to have three messy rooms! Coming up with ideas that work for all of us takes time and patience, but is necessary so that we are all happy with our new living space.
Posted in Here's What I Think, Home Sweet Home, Life Happens | 4 Comments

Hispanicize Afterglow

It’s hard to believe it has already been two weeks since Hispanicize 2014 wrapped. In its fifth year, Hispanicize is the largest annual event for Latino movers, shakers, and trendsetters in the fields of social media, journalism, advertising, PR, film and music. I was so grateful to have been able to attend, thanks to winning a full event registration during the HISPZ14 Twitter Party in late February.

Here are a few of my favorite things about this year’s conference:

Location, location, location! This year the conference was held at the world renowned Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown Miami. The venue was great!! Because it is downtown there were several parking options, including affordable event valet parking. Public transportation was another great option, with the Metromover station just two blocks away. I didn’t take advantage of the Metrorail/Metromover, which would have saved me gas and tolls, since I knew I’d be sticking around for a few of the late-night events. While I still had to deal with rush hour traffic in the morning, I didn’t have to drive all the way to Miami Beach, which would have added 30 minutes to my already-long-enough-during -rush-hour 90 minute commute from home. I’m definitely going to attempt staying at the host hotel or nearby next year.

Old and New Friends
: It is always fun to hang out with old friends at an event like Hispanicize. You have someone (or someones) to compare session notes with, take silly pictures with, and share great meals with. But it’s also equally enjoyable to make new friends. Not only have I added great people to follow to my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook accounts and my blogroll, I’ve made some promising connections that I hope will grow into wonderful personal and professional relationships.

Target Lounge – Target knocked it out of the park once again! Their lounge in the brands expo area was so much fun, with a photo booth, comfy couches and a virtual jukebox (visitors tweeted songs from a list and their selections played in the lounge). Then on Wednesday night, they transformed the main ballroom into an amazing space with a catwalk to introduce the upcoming Ambar collection. This confirmed something I already knew: Target is fabulous!

Here I am, hamming it up with Staci from 7 on a Shoestring, Leanette from Teach Me 2 Save, and Janet from Outer Sparkle. Below is the ballroom, converted for the Target Party/Fashion Show, awesome huh?

Latinovator Luncheons – Each day during Hispanicize, outstanding Latino individuals were honored with the Latinovator award. From the Hispanicize website:

“The Latinovator Awards recognize Latino celebrities, business professionals and other high achievers who have become crossover successes or whose stories of achievements are remarkable or inspirational.”

It was an honor to be in the same room with this year’s iconic Latinovator recipients:
Yoani Sanchez, Carlos Vives, Maria Hinojosa, and Sheila E.

Music – Oh my, I was in music heaven during Hispanicize, thanks to the hard work of Vanessa James and Katherine Johnson. On Wednesday night, Hispanicize showcased local bands Elastic Bond and Spam Allstars during the Miami Sounds “Noche de Musica” at the Gibson showroom in Wynwood. Because I know the team, I offered to lend a hand during this event, and I saw most of the two performances from backstage. That was so cool!

Besides Wednesday’s event, another favorite was the “house band” during the Positive Impact Awards on Thursday night: Suenalo! I got to see three out of the six bands featured on the recent documentary Miami Boheme in a span of 24 hours, and I was ecstatic! And, as if that weren’t enough, Sheila E. performed during the Positive Impact Awards after party. She not only Rocked, but looks absolutely stunning! I hope I look half as amazing as she does when I turn 56!

Cricket Event I was fortunate enough to have been invited to an event hosted by Cricket Wireless. At first I was not sure I was able to attend, as I did not have anyone to pick up the kids from school that day, but the stars aligned and Eric ended his workday early: problem solved! The rest of the invitees and I were whisked off from the hotel to Haven Lounge near Lincoln Road for a wonderful reception and some exciting news that I can’t share just yet. Suffice it to say, great things are coming from Cricket!

There you have it, my Hispanicize 2014 wrap-up. Can’t wait ’til next year!

Posted in Around Town, Entertain Me, Here's What I Think, Social Media | 1 Comment

I have a new personal record!

(I wrote this about a month ago, but never published it. I was in the funk I mentioned on Sunday and just didn’t have it in me to finish it. But I do want to recognize that I reached this personal record, and therefore am publishing it now for posperity.)

This past SundayA month ago, I once again participated in the Carnaval Miami Run. I decided that I’d run the 8K this year and I had great company: both my sisters registered for the 8K as well! We ran together for the first 2 miles at a 3 minute run/1 minute run pace. Then my little sister kept the pace while my big sister and I rolled back to our comfortable 2 minute run/2 minute walk. The new pace, even if only for a part of the race, got me to my latest personal record. My official net time was 01:03:31 with a 12:47 pace. We had such a great time running together and having some quality sister time. I’m hoping I can convince my big sister to train for a Half so we can all do the Disney Princess Half early next year.

Posted in Family & Friends, Health & Wellness, Run Manders Run | 3 Comments

Showing our Disney Side!

Last month we hosted our Disney Side@Home party, and we had a blast!! I knew we would be hosting our party at home, as that’s what the name implied (though I certainly wouldn’t have minded celebrating at the parks!). Since I scheduled our party for the weekend after Valentine’s Day, I found lots of goodies in the seasonal aisles at Target to supplement all the great stuff that came in my party kit. I may have gone a little overboard…who can say no to Disney themed goodies?!

During one of my first shopping trips, I found really cute Mickey Mouse Clubhouse tin boxes. I was only able to purchase six, so I filled those with Mickey themed bubbles, Craisins, and little tissue packets I found at the dollar store, and made them into family goody bags. Each child also received an individual party gift: the boys received an Avengers plastic cup with a Mickey pen, tissues, and those magic washcloths inside, and the girls received a gift bag with a Mickey pen, chocolate covered hearts, and a little princess button I purchased at the Disney Store. I also purchased a few items as prizes at the Disney Store: Mickey, Minnie and Goofy Vinylmation characters, along with a coloring book and colored pencils. Prizes also included Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Disney Princess Frisbees. My princess guests received the Mickey & Minnie “So This Is Love” lithographs. Each guest also received the Muppets Most Wanted calendar postcard, a packet of HP photo paper, Run Disney rubber bracelets, and stickers and tattoos that were included in the party kit I received.

The morning of our party, I wanted us to get into the spirit of Disney bright and early, so I had hubby make Eggs in a Mickey Heads with the cookie cutters we were sent while I finished getting the house ready. They were delicious…but doesn’t everything taste better with a little bit of Disney magic? We also used the cookie cutters to make little Mickey shaped ham and cheese sandwiches as well as Nutella sandwiches for our guests. Speaking of guests, my high school friend Ely made delicious mini cupcakes for the party, topped with Mickey & Friends decorations. They were perfect!

Our party games included a Snowman making station, Disney Bingo, and Disney Trivia. For the snowman station, I had several sizes of marshmallows, chocolate chips, candy corn and pretzel sticks. This was so much fun, and we had some very creative participants! After our judges chose the winning snowman and everyone and everything got cleaned up, our guests played Disney Bingo and Disney Trivia for prizes. My boys had taken out all their Disney themed Wii games and and took turns playing the different games with their friends as the party wrapped up. My party pack included Hanes Tshirts for our guests to decorate, but we honestly did not have enough time! As the year progresses, we are going to decorate a shirt and give it to our guests for their birthdays, and this way we’ll keep the Disney Side celebration going!

Our e-invitations, which my wonderful friend Marta made for me using a scrapbook paper sheet I had as the background, asked guests to dress in their ears, or Disney themed gear, be it costumes or shirts. Just about everyone did so, and that made me very happy!

I used an accompanying scrapbook sheet as a sign-in log, and am looking forward to adding the pictures from our party to our family scrapbook.

As a huge Disney fan, I am so glad to have been chosen to host a Disney Side @ Home celebration. Huge thanks to Mom Select and Disney for choosing me, as well as sponsors American Tourister, HP, Hanes and Ocean Spray for an amazing party pack!

Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Family & Friends | Leave a comment

Angels watching over us

The last few weeks have been tough for my family, to say the least. After losing my grandfather unexpectedly on January 30th, we lost my great uncle on March 3rd, just four weeks later. While his death was expected due to a long battle with cancer, it still took an emotional toll on all of us. Both of these losses come at the heels of losing my other great uncle last winter. I wrote a few blog posts due to some commitments, but following these losses I just haven’t had the inclination to write recently. Things are slowly getting back to normal though, so I’ll be back to a regular writing routine.
While we were mourning, life went on as normal, and some great things happened during the last few weeks that I’d like to mention. Matthew achieved Principal’s Honor Roll for the first time, and we were so proud! Brandon was accepted into the magnet program he wanted for middle school for the upcoming school year. Hubby started a new job, and will keep his old job on a part time basis. I can’t help but think that these things were a result of three special angels looking over us.

Posted in Life Happens | 4 Comments