How Writing About Teenage Boys Has Made Me a Better Mom

Teenage boys at Topanga State Park

Raising teenage boys is harder than I ever imagined. When my boys were little, they would run around, injure themselves and go to the emergency room. It was so stressful and also so normal, everyone said. Boys are more challenging when they’re little. When they become teenagers, they mellow out and it becomes easier, I was told.

Mellower, yes. Easier, no. I thought the most challenging part would be juggling all of the driving around. In reality, it’s more complex. While they’re not as energetic, they have complex emotions, lives outside of our house with friends and social media, the pressure of school and friends and changing bodies.

Thankfully, I’ve had help with many of my parenting questions thanks to my freelance gig at Mom.com. I’m writing about teenagers and it’s been amazing getting my questions answered by professionals, research studies and other moms of teens.

I’ve learned that one of my teenagers isn’t getting enough sleep (I kind of knew this already), how to get teen boys and girls to open up, and how to teach teens about healthy eating without shaming them.

Here are a few of the posts where I learned the most about raising two sons:

How much sleep do teenagers need?

The answer was… way more than my older son was getting. They need between 8 to 10 hours a night, which is difficult during the school year when teens have so much going on – sports, after school activities and (especially in Los Angeles) a time-consuming commute.

We made a change and while he’s not getting 8 hours, he’s getting more than he was and it seems to have made a positive impact on his energy level and schoolwork.

What happens if they don’t get enough sleep? People who sleep even one hour of sleep less than they should a night report having trouble concentrating and remembering facts. Plus, lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, poor mental health and behavior problems. You can read more here.

How do you get a teenage son or daughter to open up?

Getting a teenager to talk to you about something meaningful can be difficult for some parents. One great tip came from my older son. He said to make sure and listen. Sometimes parents go through the motions and ask questions and then tune out. If you get to know your kids as people with interests and feelings, they’ll be more likely to talk to you. Here’s a link to a post about talking to teen boys and teen girls.

Fun questions to get your teens talking around the dinner table

I wrote another post about getting teens to talk – this time around the dinner table. Questions include, “Is Baby Yoda related to old-timey muppet yoda?” “Who do you admire most in the world?” and if you can’t get them to talk to you try “The first time you had sex was…” Find it here.

How to talk to teens about healthy eating

After writing this post, I decided I needed to cook more healthy meals. I had gotten into a rut where I would cook the same things over and over or pick something up on the way home. Not only did I actually start cooking more, but my boys have been eating the meals I cook. You can read more here.

Should your teenager get a job?

Yes. Yes, they should, in my opinion. I learned so much about life, people and money by having a job as a teenager. But can teenagers today really have a job and do everything they need to do in school? Teenagers are so overscheduled these days that fitting in a job along with sports, extra-curriculars, and a commute may seem impossible.

According to the experts in the article, having a job teaches responsibility, how to manage time and money, and looks great on a college application.

If you’d like to read more, here are articles about –

Waitress Musical at The Pantages

The hit Broadway musical Waitress opened this weekend at The Hollywood Pantages Theatre and I was happy to be invited to the premiere. Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music and lyrics for the hit Broadway show, walked the red carpet and talked to the audience after the show.

Sara Bareilles at the Premiere of Waitress at The Hollywood Pantages. #waitress #waitressmusical #pantages #hollywood #sarabareilles
Sara Bareilles at the Premiere of Watress the Musical at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Photo by Yvonne Condes

Bareilles lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and graduated from UCLA. She said she was happy to bring the musical to Los Angeles with such an amazing cast.

“It is the thrill of a lifetime to sit and watch this show come to life,” she said to the audience.

It was pretty thrilling for me to watch it as well. The production was delightful. The show, which premiered on Broadway two years ago and is still running, is about Jenna (Desi Oakley), a pie-making waitress in an abusive marriage.

Desi Oakley as Jenna in the National Tour of Waitress. #waitress #waitressmusical #pantages #hollywood
Desi Oakley as Jenna in the National Tour of Waitress. Photo by Joan Marcus.

She works at a diner in the deep south. The only things that bring her joy are baking pies and talking to her two best friends and fellow waitresses, Becky (Charity Angél Dawson) and Dawn (Lenne Klingman).

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingman in the national tour of Waitress. #waitress #waitressmusical #pantages #hollywood
Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingman in the national tour of Waitress. Photo by Joan Marcus

Oakley was fantastic as Jenna. I wondered how her voice would compare to Jessie Mueller who is on the Broadway cast album and Oakley sang beautifully. Dawson and Klingman were hilarious and Jeremy Morse stole the show as Ogie, Dawn’s boyfriend who bursts into spontaneous poetry and movement when he sees her.

Lenne Klingaman and Jeremy Morse in National Tour of Waitress. #waitress #waitressmusical #pantages #hollywood
Lenne Klingaman and Jeremy Morse in National Tour of Waitress. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jenna’s world is rocked when she learns she’s pregnant and realizes she has to find a way out of her bad marriage. To complicate things even more, she starts up a fling with her adorable (and married!) OBGYN played by Bryan Fenkart. Their scenes are fun, but the most moving parts of the show are when Oakley is alone belting out beautiful songs or when she’s with Dawson and Klingman.

Waitress is a fun show for adults or for families with older kids. It’s recommended for ages 12 and up and children under 5 won’t be admitted into the theatre. There is some swearing, sex talk and funny sex scenes, but nothing graphic and Jenna is pushed around and threatened by her husband.

No matter who you go with, the show will have you thinking about pie. Jenna makes pie, people eat pie and she’s constantly coming up with pie recipes to mirror what is happening in her life. Thankfully, they were selling small jars of pie in the Pantages lobby.

Jar of Pie at the Hollywood Premiere of Waitress the Musical at The Pantages Theatre. #waitressmusical #pantages #hollywood

Waitress is playing now through August 26, 2018. Performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. Individual tickets start at $49. Prices are subject to change without notice.

The Premiere of Waitress at The Hollywood Pantages with Sara Bareilles, Gabrielle Ruiz and Retta. #waitress #waitressmusical #pantages #hollywood #sarabareilles

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Hollywood Pantages for the show. All opinions are my own.

Lady Bird Makes Being Catholic OK Again

I loved Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. It’s a hilarious and heartbreaking coming of age film set in Sacramento about a girl named Lady Bird (it’s her given name, she says. In that, she gave it to herself). She has a complicated relationship with her mother, which I – and most people who have a mother – can relate to, but the main reason I responded to the movie was the uncomplicated relationship the film has with the Catholic Church.

In most films that have a priest or a nun or the church represented in any way, Catholicism is the devil. The priests are pedophiles, the nuns are ruler-wielding psychopaths and the church is seen as cold and oppressive. I know there are pervert priests and terrible nuns, but they are not all monsters and some of us have good memories of growing up Catholic.

I spent a lot of time at church growing up in Tucson. My family went every Sunday and I had catechism once a week plus youth group. That doesn’t mean I was or am religious. I went to church because I had to (and to look at cute boys) and I went to youth group because my friends were there.

It kept us out of trouble (or more trouble than we would have gotten into) and we had some amazing experiences. We had dances and parties and made new friends. We raised money to go on trips to Bisbee, Disneyland and Washington D.C. Most importantly, we had a place go where we felt safe and cared for.

In the movie, Lady Bird plays a prank on one of the nuns. The nun takes it in stride because the prank was hilarious and the nun had a sense of humor. Because nuns, like other humans, can have senses of humor. There’s a brief scene with a priest who has some kind of depression, which again, lots of people have.

I don’t know why when I think of the jovial priest from my teens, that I always think of this one afternoon when the youth group kids helped him move into his new parish house. A lot of what we moved were big jugs of wine. He was always nice and knew all of our names. The priest he replaced was very serious and had an Irish accent, which in Tucson for me was very exotic.

The woman who ran the youth group and planned all of our events and trips passed away last month. She was loud and opinionated and extremely kind. I read her obituary and was amazed by what an interesting life she had before she came to us.

My time there was all very lovely and sometimes strange. There was that one time when the catechism teachers, a married couple who seemed ancient, but were probably my age now, told my friends that they were going to hell because they talked too much in class. Or the time one of our catechism teachers, a single mom, talked about going out to bars – nothing too crazy, just not Sunday school talk.

She was not conventional, but accepted.

Lady Bird’s director, Greta Gerwig, was on Fresh Air recently talking about her relationship with Catholicism. She went to Catholic High School, but wasn’t Catholic. She said that her not belonging to the church allowed her to have affection for it because she wasn’t really part of it; it wasn’t hers so it couldn’t oppress her.

Being Catholic wasn’t oppressive for me either even though at home we were very Catholic. My grandmother had an altar in the upstairs hallway with statues of saints and a framed picture of a flowing-haired Jesus. My great aunt had a giant oil painting of a Virgin of Guadalupe in her bedroom at her house.

Going to church was a nice foundation for me that is still important today. I can pray even though I don’t agree with many of the rules of being Catholic (but I do love the progressive views of the Pope!). And, like in Lady Bird, it’s always there if I want to go back.

 

Santa Monica Classic – Personal Best

The shirt and medal from the Santa Monica Classic 2017

The shirt and medal from the Santa Monica Classic 2017

I love running and I love running in races, but calling it “running” has always been kind of a stretch. I had never been very fast and my run was more a shuffle. Once my sister and I did the Tilden Tough 10 mile race in Berkeley and when we crossed the finish line they made a special announcement because we were two of the last three finishers. “Wait,” the announcer called after the award ceremony had ended. “There are a more runners.”

In the last couple of years, I feel like I’ve earned the right to use the word running. Especially after the Santa Monica Classic. I had my best time ever in a 10k coming in at 56:41 and running a 9:08 minute mile. It was amazing. My 13-year-old son, who has always been fast, won his age division coming in at 42:08 and running a 6:47 minute mile.

My son and I at the race festival

Part of the reason that I ran so fast (for me) was because I had been training and partly because my Nike+ app that tracks my pace had stopped working. I had no idea how fast I was going so I ran as fast as I could. I didn’t know I could keep a 9 minute mile pace for 6 miles because I wasn’t limited to how fast I thought I should go. I ran as fast I could go.

It helped that I did the race with friends and family and that it was a beautiful day.

Santa Monica before the race

The start line

The Santa Monica Pier after the race

It was a very encouraging start. The Santa Monica Classic is the first race in the Conqur LA series that includes the Pasadena Half Marathon in January, 2018 and the LA Marathon in March, 2018.  I’m super nervous about all of the training and may have injured my foot in the classic, but I’m excited to have started strong.

Eva Longoria Wants You to Vote and so do I

There are 26 days until the presidential election and Eva Longoria and I have an important message to send to you: vote. This could be the most important election of our lifetime – as women and latinos. So please vote.

I had asked Longoria why it’s so important for Latinas to vote last week at an event at The London in West Hollywood for her bedding line at JCPenney. (You can learn about her line on MomsLA. Her collection was fabulous and she was lovely.) I talked to her only a week ago, but so much has happened. Since our chat last week, horrible accusations have surfaced against Trump, which make it even more urgent that women turn out to vote.

Longoria is a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton and even gave this moving speech at the Democratic National Convention. My favorite part was, “I’m 9th generation American. My family didn’t cross a border, the border crossed us. So when Donald Trump calls us criminals and rapists, he’s insulting American families.”

Who could have guessed that it would only get worse from there?

Instagram and Mom.me

Wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park

I’m not an Instagram star. I don’t have tens of thousands of followers and I don’t make a million dollars posting photos on the app. But I love it so much. I love taking pictures and documenting our life in Los Angeles. I love seeing what other people are doing, where they are going, what they’re eating and how they express themselves. After all of these years of plugging away and not knowing if anyone was watching, I got an email from Mom.me. I was chosen as one of the Top 25 Maker Moms on Instagram!

They featured this photo in the post:

IMG_0278

It was taken at the Wisdom Tree during my birthday hike in Griffith Park. We also hiked to the Hollywood Sign and Cahuenga Peak that day. I was happy they picked that picture because it captures what I try to do with my Instagram feed, which is to share the beautiful and the interesting in Los Angeles and on my travels. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the past few months.

Arroyo Burro Dog Park near Santa Barbara

This was taken during Spring Break at Arroyo Burro Dog Park near Santa Barbara. It’s one of the photos that I hashtag #Viewfrommyrun.

Gluten free lemon almond cookies

I took this picture during a video shoot MomsLA did with Healthy Grocery Girl. Find the cookie recipe on MomsLA.

Hiking trail in Canada near Banff National Park

The picture above was posted with a quote – “I see my path, but I don’t kow where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel.” Rosalia de Castro. I took it while on a trip to Canada with Ford.
Ready for the rain at Disneyland

There are a lot of pictures of my family in my feed. I love this one we took at Disneyland.

Thanks to Mom.me for including me in this group of talented Maker Moms!

The White Mexican

Yvonne Condes at the We All Grow Summit (photo courtesy of Robson Muzel and ?#?WeAllGrow? Summit)

This is the full version of the story I told at the #WeAllGrow Summit 2016. To watch the video, visit MomsLA.com.

One day my son came home with a mask he’d made in art class at elementary school. It was for indigenous people’s day. He put it on and said, “Look at me. I’m a Mexican.”

I looked at my blonde haired, blue-eyed son and said, “Sweetie, you don’t have to wear a mask to be Mexican. You’re a Mexican all the time.”

And you may not know it by looking at me, but I too am Mexican. My name is Yvonne Condes de la Torre but I was raised Yvonne Condes. I’m Mexican American, but no one ever knows it unless I somehow slip it into the conversation. Because I’m not just a white Mexican, but I’m often the whitest person in a room full of white people.

My son coming home with the mask reminded me of a time when my mom told a story about the family that lived in the house behind us. She referred to them as the Black family. “You can’t talk about them that way,” I told her. “They have names just like the Jewish family and the Single Mom.”

“You don’t think everyone calls us the Mexicans?” She asked. Up until then I hadn’t thought about it. Even though there were plenty of Mexicans in town and plenty of Mexicans that came to our house, we were the only ones on our street.

I realized that other people saw us differently. And that we might not be like everybody else. I didn’t know it then, but that’s how it would be most of my life. I was something different. And anyone looking at me, might not know what that is.

One of the things I love about this community is that years ago when I started blogging, I found a badge that I could put on my site that said “Blogs by Latinas.” Finally there was an answer to the question that has plagued me all of the years: What are you?

And I’ve asked myself that question. What am I? Who am I? And more importantly right now, what are my kids and who will they become?

My parents had a hard time growing up, my mom didn’t speak English when she first came to the Southwest and the kids and teachers were terrible to her. By the time she and my dad moved from the border town where they grew up to Tucson, she, like many Latinos of her generation wanted us to assimilate.

And assimilate we did. To my great shame, I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t even speak very good Spanglish.

So when my older son said, “hey, look at me. I’m a Mexican.” It really struck me. What will that mean to him later on that he’s Mexican. Will it mean anything to him? That he’s a super white half Mexican whose mother doesn’t speak Spanish.

Since that day I’ve tried to infuse as much of my culture into their lives as possible. I take my boys to festivals, we listen to latin music, we watch documentaries, we’ve marched in protests, and I’ve enrolled them in Spanish classes.

I’m actually trying to make them the Latino kids that I wasn’t growing up and I’m not always successful. My younger son has always hated having to go to after-school Spanish class. Last year he would stop any mom he knew and try to convince them that I had scheduled a play date with their child so he could get out of it. He made me a little miserable about it. But even though he didn’t like it, some of what he’s learned did stick.

And I’m exposing them to the language and culture because as most mothers feel about their children, I want everything to be great for them. Because I don’t want them to feel like they’re missing something.

Like I do when I go to a Crossfit class and I see this group of Latinas that hang out together and talk to each other in Spanish. They’re so badass and I want to join in on their conversation and say Hey, Look at Me, I’m Mexican, too. But I realize that would be weird.

Because I’ve often felt like I don’t fit in with other Latinas, like I sometimes do at events like these.

And I don’t want my kids to to ever feel like that, like they’re not Latino Enough. Because I have definitely felt that way and I know I’m not alone.

There are memes and youtube videos and blog posts and tweets dedicated to the feeling that some of us are not Latino enough. That because we were raised differently or we live differently that we’re not quite Latino.

But I don’t believe that at all.

As the years have gone by and my kids have gotten older and I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that all of our experiences are unique and meaningful. My life might be vastly different than the badass ladies from Crossfit, but being super white with no ear for language doesn’t mean that I’m not really Latino.

I know that someday my kids will look back and talk about their crazy Latina mom, who yelled too much, who made them take classes they didn’t want to take and eat a lot of Mexican food. But I hope that whatever they say about me, the say it lovingly and I hope they say it in Spanish.

MomsLA Podcast

Hey, there. I haven’t been posting much here because it’s been very busy over at MomsLA. I’m excited to say that we’ve started a podcast and podcasting has become my favorite thing to do. I would love for you to check it out and give us a review.

In the last episode, (which was episode 25!), we talk about a comment I made on She Podcasts. She Podcasts is usually about the business and art of podcasting, but in the episode “Go Big or Go Home” the conversation turned to parenting and the choices we make for our kids.

We also talk about “Ant-Man,” “Trainwreck,” and my visit to a naked spa even though I’m a “never nude.” Plus we have another installment of “Don’t Be That Mom.”

Door Dash Review

We rarely have food delivered here at Casa de Condes and I’m not sure why (we eat out at least once a week). I think it’s because we never know where to order from. After ordering from DoorDash, I think we may be ordering takeout a lot more. DoorDash is a restaurant delivery service in Los Angeles and parts of Northern California.  I was given a credit to try a dinner delivery for my family from one of the many restaurants DoorDash serves.

At the time I ordered, my zip code wasn’t in the delivery area, but starting today, Door Dash will deliver to the Westwood/Culver City area along with its existing delivery area of Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood.

Setting up the DoorDash account was easy. You start by entering your zip code to find out if you live in the delivery area. Once you find out that you’re in the delivery zone you can browse the restaurants and their menus. There were so many choices from super fancy Craft to the delicious Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers. It was easy enough to create an account and add my credit card and delivery information. You can add a tip to the charge or give it to the driver in cash.

I ordered from Taj Palace in Pacific Palisades and my delivery came right when I was told it would, 45 minutes after I ordered. It was delivered by this nice gentleman pictured below.

DoorDashDeliveryMan

The food was still hot when we got it so there was need to heat it up. We ordered Tandoori Chicken…

TandooriChicken

Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, and Saag Paneer with rice and naan.

TajPalaceDelivery

It was more than enough and was great for dinner the next night.

PlateTajPalace

We enjoyed our meal and I especially enjoyed reading the restaurant menus of the many places we haven’t tried yet. We got our meal and delivery for free for this review, but we’ll be using the service again. It’s really convenient and it went smoothly. Sarah reviewed DoorDash for MomsLA and her post includes a discount code, so make sure and check it out.

 

Update: I didn’t realize I wrote the post (or I would have mentioned) that some of the prices are different in the DoorDash menu than on the restaurant website. For example, I looked at the DoorDash menu of a pizza place that I’ve been to many times and the prices seemed high. Some, but not all of them, were a couple of dollars higher. Here is what DoorDash says on their website. 

“For many of our restaurants, the prices you pay on DoorDash are the same as you would pay in store. However, sometimes they are different and for different reasons. When merchants sign onto our network, they pay us a commission fee to help cover the cost of our delivery fleet. To help pay part of their commission, some merchants have decided to add a slight increase to certain menu items.

Other times, prices are different because most restaurant menus online – especially from third-party websites – are outdated. As a result, there will be a perceived difference in price and it’s a constant challenge for our team to make sure we have the correct prices. As a result, DoorDash’s prices are sometimes lower or higher than what appears on the menus at restaurants.”

I don’t think this will stop me from using DoorDash again, but I will be sure to look at the prices carefully.  

Wordless Wednesday – What's in My Garage

There are so many random things in our garage – baking equipment, bikes, books – but what my husband and two boys use the most are the tools. My younger son turned 9 recently and he asked for a camping birthday party with a rock climbing wall. I don’t necessarily think of a climbing wall when I think of camping, but to them it made perfect sense. After I talked them out of attaching the “wall” to the house, they came up with this plan. It turned out great and they were able to attach it to their swing set.

MakingRockWall

RockWall