The Bronx Mom Who Inspires Me #3Mpact


You never know the impact someone will have on your life when you first meet them. Five years ago, when I met Lizette Hernandez I had no idea that she would be the woman who would build a Bronx field of dreams

Our boys attended the same school and we met during an open house. We were tired from work and weary from everything else. Autism was still something so new and we didn't have much to say, even though we had so much on our minds.

We spent the next few years exchanging hellos, catching up and sharing resources. Living in The Bronx resources for kids with autism are limited and usually required extensive travel to other areas. 

Two summers ago, we discovered a special needs baseball team. Baseball was part of our culture and we wanted our boys to have the opportunity to take the field like any other kid. The team was in Westchester and not the right fit. 

While Joseph and I decided not to return with Norrin, Lizette took matters into her own hands. Her son, Donovin, wanted to play baseball and she was determined to make it happenAnd since there wasn't a baseball league for kids with autism in The Bronx, Lizette started one: The Bronxchester Challenger League.

In the spring of 2014, Norrin, Donovin and more than 50 other Bronx autistic kids took the field and played baseball. At the end of the season, each kid walked away with a trophy. Parents walked away with a dream fulfilled.

When your kid is diagnosed with autism, it feels like life is cut short and all hope is gone. There are things you think your kid will never have the opportunity to experience.

When I saw the Latina Mom Bloggers email seeking stories of people who inspire you through their extraordinary community work for the Positive Impact Awards nomination process - I immediately thought of Lizette and what she has done.

Five years ago, I could have never seen myself as a baseball mom. But I was there every Saturday afternoon, eagerly anticipating Norrin hitting a home run. After each game there was always a parent (myself included) thanking Lizette, hugging her, crying with gratitude and happiness.  

Lizette is like so many Bronx moms hustling to make ends meet. She didn't let money or time or work get in her way to fulfill her son's dream. With fierce determination Lizette  raised enough money (through raffles and donations) so that parents wouldn't have to pay out of pocket for anything - not even the uniform. Lizette saw a need and she worked to fill the void. She created a judgement free place for kids with autism to play while giving parents a reason to hope and a moment to cheer. How can anyone not be inspired by that? If Lizette can gather a group of parents to put together a baseball team - who knows what else can done for our kids. 

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The nominations for the 2015 Hispanicize Positive Impact Awards are now open. If there is someone in your community who has made a difference nominate them there -  http://hispzpia.com/2014/

The Product That Made Me Give Up On Nighttime Potty Training


If you've been following our parenting journey, you know that nighttime potty training has been a bit of a challenge. But you know what? 

I GIVE UP! 

You heard me. I have given up on nighttime potty training Norrin. 

And it's all because of our latest discovery while shopping at Target - GoodNites Tru-Fit. Well it's not the latest discovery. We've been using GoodNites Tru-Fit since late September.

I started nighttime potty training last January when Norrin turned 8 years old. I decided it was time. 

We tried going without nighttime pull-ups. 

We tried a potty training alarm.  

We tried stopping liquids after a certain time. 

We tried waking Norrin up at midnight. And at 1 AM. 2 AM. 3 AM. You get the point.

We tried a washable and reusable underwear which sort of worked...Okay. Not really. It was a hassle for me. But it may totally work for you and your kid(s). 

I didn't like the idea of a nighttime disposable pull-up because Norrin was getting really big. He mastered day time potty training years ago so he knows when he has to go. If he woke up at night - he'd use the bathroom, pull down the pull-up and it would often tear. (Pull-ups are expensive!) If it didn't tear, it would leak.

For months I refused to put on a pull-up thinking, he'll get it eventually. He didn't. (Well that's not true. He'd wake up wet in the middle of the night, change his clothes and then come into our bed.) And changing and washing sheets every single day was getting my nerves. Ain't nobody got time for that.

That's why I love GoodNites Tru-Fit. It's really the best of both worlds for us. It gives Norrin the independence to pull on and up his underpants. In the morning, if he's wet I just remove the insert and toss it. If he wakes up in the early hours of the morning and he's wet, I remove the insert and leave him in the underpants (he'll stay dry at that point). And if he's dry - I reuse that bad boy. I mean I put him to bed clean, so if he's dry - it's still clean. Why should I waste it? 

What I really appreciate is that I toss the insert and wash the underpants. No more washing sheets daily. I don't have to soak and rinse the underpants before putting it in the wash. It's so easy. The only thing is that I wish they came in size bigger than L/XL. 
{TIPs: We also use GoodNites Disposable Bed Mats. AND GoodNites Tru-Fit underpants are great for travel because the pad inserts take up little space in your luggage!}    
It took Norrin a few years to be potty trained during the day. And it may take a few more for him to be trained at night. So I'm not going to stress out about nighttime potty training any more. I know Norrin is on his way. He'll get it. In his own time. When his body is ready. GoodNites Tru-Fit's helped me remember that.

How's your nighttime potty training saga going?


  
GoodNites products can be found at Target!


From time to time I am provided with complimentary products to write about. This isn't one of those times. I love sharing items that I've purchased with my hard earned dollars that work for our family. However this post does contain an affiliate link - which means I will get a few cents if you shop at Target.

The Bronx is Beautiful (My Instagram Street Scenes)


Fourteen years ago (on October 31, 2000) I drove across the Triboro Bridge to The Bronx. I was born in Manhattan and raised in Queens - moving to The Bronx completely on my own was both scary and exciting. When I told family, friends and even strangers about my move they all said, "Nobody moves from Queens to The Bronx." But this Queens girl did. And it's the best decision I ever made. 


A few weeks after moving to The Bronx, I met Joseph - a life long Bronxite. We eventually moved in together, got married, had a baby.

I walk down the street and I know my neighbors - maybe not by name but their faces are familiar - and we exchange smiles. Everyone knows Norrin's name or some kind of variation  (Norris, Norman, Norrance,) of it because people have a hard time saying Norrin. The Bronx was once unknown territory for me and now it's become a place of familiar. The Bronx has become my home. And it's beautiful. 
    
A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on


A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

Celebrate Christmas with Hallmark {The North Pole at Times Square}


Tonight I got to hang out at The North Pole at Times Square. I talked to an Elf, had a snow ball fight, got my free picture taken and checked out the latest Hallmark Holiday products! I really love this time of year because it's all about family, fun and traditions - old and new.

If you are in the city on Saturday, November 15th between 8am and 7pm - stop by the North Pole at Times Square! It's right in front of Sephora and the GMA building. 

  
These are some of my favorite products that I got to see. Because nothing says holiday family fun traditions like bedtime stories, cookies and cocoa!   

Nighty-Night North Pole: Read all about Northpole's bedtime tradition. As you turn the pages, you can press a button to turn off the lights in several Northpole scenes, one by one. At the end, the Northern Lights magically appear above the city. 



I love discovering new holiday books. Reading is such an important part of our life and it helps make the magic real to Norrin. This book is interactive and it's a quick read - easy enough for us to take turns reading or to have Norrin read independently. 


Jaz the Emperor Penguin Mug-O-Matic™: Christmas MugTurn drinking hot cocoa into an event, Northpole-style. Set your mini marshmallow in the stand in front of the penguin and press the lever to make him kick the 'mallow into the mug. 


Norrin loves making hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. I know he'll LOVE having this penguin kick the marshmallow into the mug. And what better way to work on those fine motor skills! 



Tic Tac Snow Cookie PlateEnjoy one of Northpole's popular games. Make cookies using the two cutter shapes, and then let players take turns putting their cookies on the board. Whoever gets three cookies in a line wins.

We all love cookies and we've been working on turn-taking games that require concentration and critical thinking - like Tic Tac Toe. I think this plate will be a fun way to incorporate our love of cookies, game play and Christmas magic.

Bake Like an Elf™ {Kit with Recipe Cards}: Make a little happy in the kitchen, elf-style, with authentic Northpole cookie recipes and measuring tools shaped like a mitten, elf shoe and jingle bell. Illustrated recipe cards feature easy-to-make elf cookie recipes and the stories behind them.

Norrin has been really interested in cooking and baking lately. I think the Bake Like an Elf kit will be perfect for him. The recipes are easy to follow and fun enough to keep him interested. 

Find Me Santa! Snowflake: Add your name and hang this lighted snowflake in a window, on a doorknob, or wherever you like to ensure that Santa finds you—no matter where you are. On Christmas Eve, the snowflake will glow for four hours until the jolly guy arrives. (see Instagram photo below)

Every year we buy at least one new special ornament as a keepsake. I love that we can personalize this for Norrin because when your named named "Norrin" it's hard to find this with your name on it. Norrin is really starting to understand Christmas and Santa Claus - these little touches add to the magical holiday experience!

For pricing and information visit: http://shop.hallmark.com.
A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on

A photo posted by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez (@laliquin) on


Disclaimer: I was invited as press to preview the North Pole at Times Square and check out the latest Hallmark products. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Jerry Seinfeld & London McCabe: Opposite Ends of the Autism Spectrum


Last week two events rocked the autism community: Jerry Seinfeld's self-diagnosed autism and the death of London McCabe.

Marie Myung-Ok Lee of Salon wrote, that Jerry Seinfeld  "doesn't build the right [autism] awareness -- and might make it harder for already overwhelmed parents." And yesterday, Peter Holley of The Washington Post reported that Seinfeld's self-diagnosis was a "slap in the face" for some autistic parents.


Personally I don't care so much about Seinfeld's self-diagnosis. Though it seems as more celebrities are coming out of the autism closet. Last year, Daryl Hannah admitted that she had "battled autism since childhood" and Dan Aykroyd stated that Asperger's helped him with Ghostbusters. 

In many ways, putting an autism diagnosis to a celebrity face is helpful in breaking the stigma. BUT it highlights the highest end of the autism spectrum. Not all kids - autism or no autism - will grow up to be a Jerry, Daryl or Dan. I'm not being cruel, that's just the reality.  

And in all the Jerry Seinfeld is he or isn't he conversation, a little boy named London has been forgotten.


Six-year old London was autistic and non-verbal. Jillian McCabe, overwhelmed by caring for her son, London, and husband has been accused of throwing London off of a bridgeRaising children - with or without autism - isn't easy - it can be overwhelming and frustrating. There are moments of uncertainty and doubt. But it's never, ever an excuse to kill your child.

McCabe isn't the first mother to be accused of killing her autistic child.



Alex Spourdalakis was brutally murdered by his mother, Dorothy. In Dorothy Spourdalakis' suicided note, she wrote: Alex will no longer be "treated like an animal" or "subjected to restraints."      


These tragedies divides an already divided community. Some will empathize with the parent, others will condemn them. And to those who do not understand autism - these acts imply that our kids do not matter, that their lives are expendable. It perpetuates the fear and hopelessness that comes with an autism diagnosis. 

When mothers kill their own children due to lack of help and resources, it perpetuates the "dangerous ideology that preaches that people are better off dead than disabled," says Ari Ne'eman, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.


So Jerry Seinfeld says he has autism. Now what, Jerry? If you are coming out as a member of our community - take time to get to know us and put your celebrity status to use. Show up at autism fundraisers, get to know our kids, TALK TO PARENTS. (Just don't get all Jenny McCarthy on us and we can be cool.) Help us protect and advocate for all of our children - especially kids like London, Issy, Robert and Alex. 

Because if Seinfeld didn't make an effort, that would the real slap in the face.

And we cannot continue to talk about Jerry and forget about London. 

London's family wants to honor him through kindness. "The best way you can honor [London] and not let his death be in vain, is to have purpose in your own hearts to respond in kindness, love and respect toward all those people in your own lives. Especially those with special challenges." 

So let's all do that. 

The Weight I've Gained



Before I was a mom, I weighed 133 lbs. and wore a size 4-6 and I was still self-concious about my body. But that was a long time ago and I'm still coming to terms with my new body. My weight has gone up and down over the last decade. I've struggled with body image and self-esteem - the fitting room mirror has become my enemy


I don't vlog often...but today, I am. And I'm talking about weight and the commitment I need to start making to myself. What I lack in vlogging and video editing skills, I make up in humor.

Also there's a really good reason why I'm vlogging inside the car - I'll share that vlog next week! 


Check out the video HERE and subscribe to my YouTube channel!   

I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Vlogging Workshop - check it out HERE

When a Kid Cries in Public

Did you hear about the mom who punched the hipster girl in a parking lot of a Nordstrom Rack? It sounds like the set up of a joke but it really happened. [See video below]   

After trying to tell a mother in the checkout line at Nordstrom Rack in Colma to quiet her screaming child, a young woman ended up getting punched in the face by the mother in the parking lot shortly thereafter.

Now I'm not one to condone violence but I'm on the fence about this. Because I don't know how I'd react if someone told me to quiet my kid. 

All I know is that I've had to deal with major public meltdowns and it's never easy.

Like the time when I had Norrin had the mother of all meltdowns and we had to take two busses to get home. People stared, shook their heads. One man got up from his seat and moved further back. Another woman kept looking back at us every few minutes, glaring with disapproval. Or like that time while on vacation, Norrin started crying in a fast food restaurant and I yelled at a table of men who were staring at my kid cry. But sometimes, strangers are kind. And when they are - I am so incredibly grateful. 

But never, not once during a public meltdown has someone asked me to calm my kid down. I don't believe the kid crying at Nordstrom Rack had any kind of special need but ALL kids cry. And sometimes it's not so easy to get them to stop. 

And sometimes parents are so tired, worn out, over it, frustrated - that they let their kid cry. Because they know, at some point, the crying will stop. Sometimes it's more exhausting to get them to stop, sometimes it's easier to let them work it out on their own. I say this because I have been that parent many times over. 

At almost nine years old, Norrin still has meltdowns in public. I have learned to tune out the tears. I've learned that not every second of our day is a teachable moment. And during a meltdown - it's nearly impossible to reason with him. I do my best. And if he's still crying after I've done my best, well - he's on his own to get over it.

So the next time you see/hear a kid crying in public - don't stare, don't comment - just go about your business. You don't know the circumstances - you just see one instance. The parent is well aware their kid is crying and believe me when I say -   if they could get their kid to quiet down easily, they would. And if you do feel compelled to tell a parent what to do with their kid - be prepared to pay the consequences. 

I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying that maybe she had it coming. 


Would love to know your thoughts! 
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