Autism Mom, Featured, Life

Autism Mom Sunday: Getting Through Grownup Parties

August 28, 2016
Autism Mom

The season of holidays, parties, and family gatherings is here, and I am excited. I have an Armenian background, and, trust me, we party! As the mom of a child with autism, though, I am aware that getting through grownup parties and gatherings can be quite stressful for Alex. The look, smell, and feel of a new place, and the big groups that come with them, are an overload for kids with special needs. The option of just getting a sitter can be tempting and there are times that option is the most appropriate, but I usually opt to bring Alex along. At the end of the day, these parties are growing experiences for him. I also want to ensure that I don’t set the precedent of letting him stay home and shutting himself away from the world.

 To make parties as comfortable as possible for him (and us parents!), I always rely on a checklist of things for before and during our outings. Most of these points rely on understanding and respecting each other. Each point took us a long time to master, and targets the issues Alex struggles with most. Every child is different, but a lot of these can be modified to fit your own child’s specific needs. 

1. Before heading out, have a conversation about what to expect.

No matter where we go, I made it a habit to always detail what the party will be like to Alex: how the place will look, who will be there, and what we will be doing. I also give him a time frame of when we will be leaving, and make sure to stick to that. No matter how well he does at a party, as hours go by, it gets tougher for him to hang in. If I don’t know the details of any of those things, I let him know, but try to ease his worry by explaining what I think it might be like. This creates an honest dialogue and lets him mentally prepare himself for what’s to come. A lot of times we put together a list of activities he can do there, like play computer/iPad games or physical games like Uno.

2. Set one social skills goal.

Social skills are a tough, but parties are a great opportunity to face some of those challenges that involve interacting with others. We set one goal for each party, and a reward. It can be something simple like sitting at the table or with a small group for 15 min, or say hello to everybody. For parties that are shorter, or with more familiar people, we might go for a bigger goal, like talking to another kid at the party. Goal choice also depends on where his difficulties are at the moment. 

I always have to remember that one goal is our limit right now, though. Great behavior is awesome, but sometimes we get caught up with the excitement that our special needs kid is excelling and push a bit too far. With Alex, he might do super well and then burn out.

3. Establish a safe space.

No matter where we go, whether it is my sister’s house or an apartment I’ve never visited before, I always designate a quiet, calm place for Alex as his safe space. This is easy when we are at my sister’s, but even when I’m somewhere new, I still (always graciously, and sometimes in advance) ask the host if there is an area where he can go to be alone and recharge throughout the event. This used to be difficult for me, as people can be thrown off by this sort of request, but I take comfort in the fact that this is what is best for my child. Part of what it means to have a child with special needs is to approach the issue without shame and with honesty. In fact, people have often gone out of their way to help out. 

4. Bring an object of comfort.

One of the most important things for Alex is physical comfort. He has a few objects at home that he keeps by his side whenever he can. He used to love stress balls, and now has a purple plastic snake from San Francisco’s Chinatown. Additionally, an iPad, computer, and chargers are a must. For long car rides home, I always take his favorite blanket and pillow. He knows that given his age, he cannot bring his blanket or pillow to the party, but after a tiring night, and to balance out the uncomfortable car ride, he deserves to have his comfort objects. I know a lot of other kids with autism also love headphones, so like I said earlier, it really differs kid to kid.

5. Bring favorite food and water if necessary.

Alex has tons of limitations and sensitivities on what he eats, like many kids with autism. To avoid meltdowns due to hunger and to make sure he enjoys the party too, I bring some of his favorite foods. While I may offer him to try to eat at least one thing with everyone, I always have his food packed too. Lately, Alex has also developed intolerance to the taste of water except for one particular brand. We are working on changing this and getting back to drinking every kind of water, but for now, I bring his Arrowhead water with us. That way, he (or me and my husband for that matter) doesn’t have to worry.

—————

I want to note that if you’re a parent of a special needs child, you know how grating it can be to receive criticism/advice from loved ones who don’t have a full view of the situation. A common theme for me is that being so accommodating is not going to prepare a child for the real world. And let me tell you, while I have learned to accept the misguided criticisms with grace, it can be really hard to not let that get to me. I am always assessing and reassessing my approaches with Alex and consistently consult with counselors, teachers, and other parents in the special needs community. My goal is to make sure I’m setting Alex up for success. I pick my battles with family and friends in terms of explaining a parenting choice, but if I notice a recurring observation, I explore it instead of ignoring it.

♡ Zuma A.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for all the live action! xx  
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Fashion, Featured

Five Denim Styles to Wear This Fall

August 26, 2016
denim styles

Hands down, jeans are my favorite pieces in my closet, probably because, to me, they represent simplicity, relaxation, and comfort. I live my ‘life’ part of work life balance in jeans. I don’t wear them to court, I wear them to hang out at home with family and friends. I also love that jeans can be laid back but also fashion statements, and that there are many great denim styles and washes that give every pair a personality. I am also always very excited to try new denim trends when they come along. There are a few trends this season that I absolutely adore and if you are thinking of adding at least one piece of denim to your wardrobe, you can try one of these styles.

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1. Two Tone Denim Style

Dress it down two with a plain white tee and sneakers or dress it up with heels and blazer.

Rag & Bone ‘The Dre’ slim fit boyfriend jeans (pictured) $275

Zara Boyfit Jeans $69

two tone jeans

2. The Shadow Hem

I love this unfinished look, it is a perfect balance between a classic jean style and ripped jeans. Dress it down with nude flat sandals and a cami, and dress it up with ultra high heels or contrast colored booties (red or light grey, or white!)

Madewell Cali Demi-Boot Jean $125 (shown)

Current Elliott The Cropped Straight Leg Jean ($228)

shadow hem jeans

3. High Waist and a Cropped Leg

This style is so flattering, especially if you are petite. A slight flare adds a cute kick, and thehigh waist is very conveniently forgiving. I wear this style with high heeled wedges and love how it elongates my bare ankles.

J.Crew Cali Demi-Boot Jeans in Donovan Wash #125

J.Crew Straightaway jean in bluff wash  $125

high waist

4. Flares

Not a new style trend for sure, but as exciting as new! Love wearing flares a long fringe sweater for the ultimate boho chic look. Or, for a very 70s look, I go for big sunglasses, shirt and a suede jacket.

7 For All Mankind ‘Tailless Ginger’ High-Rise Flare Jeans $189

Two by Vince Camuto ‘Classic 70s’ Flare leg Jeans $89

Paige ‘Transcend – Bell Canyon’ High Rise Flare Jeans $199

flare leg jeans

5. Embroidered Jeans

I never thought that I would wear these jeans, but a little girl in me fell absolutely in love with them! Wearing these with a simple white tee or white shirt to let the embroidery stand out.

Zara Cropped Embroidered Jeans $69 (shown)

Topshop  MOTO Floral Embroidered Mom jeans $100

Topshop Floral Embroidered High Rise Crop Jeans $85

embroidered jeans

So here are my five favorite jean trend this fall. Let me know if you love any of these denim styles or if you love styling them differently. Would love to hear from you!!

♡ Zuma A.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for all the live action! @splashofteal xx 

Beauty, Featured, Health, Life

Sheet Masks: Glowing Skin at Every Age

August 24, 2016
glowing skin

I firmly believe that healthy skin is glowing skin, but it’s no secret that with age, our individual skin issues become more apparent. For me it’s dullness, dryness, and age spots. Though I have a skin care routine that targets these issues, my skin sometimes needs an extra boost of a healthy glow due to a constant stress and/or a few cocktails at a dinner party hehe. And that’s when sheet face masks come in handy.

There is something in the scent and cooling sensation of sheet masks that don’t just boost my skin, but also give me the feeling of relaxation and detachment from hectic day to day life. 

Sheet masks have been everywhere the last couple of years, and it took me quite some time to discover them for myself. I noticed these masks in line at Sephora and bought a few as cute additions to gifts throughout last year, but before I knew, I fell in love with them myself. They are inexpensive and perfect for a quick boost of hydration and glow. I use these masks after long flights, before or after nights-out, or whenever I feel that my skin looks and feels tired.

Lately I also started using Sephora’s hand and feet sheet masks which led to a 30 minute Sunday morning me time routine. Instead of my usual Sunday morning phone-time in bed, I put my phone out of reach and go for a longer shower, sheet masks, and read or flip through magazines. It helps me turn off my brain from the daily grind and get my time to relax and recharge while taking care of my skin.

What are you doing to to bring glow to your skin? Would love to hear from you!!

♡ Zuma A.

sephora eye maskhealthy glow sephora almond foot mask sephora foot mask sephora foot mask

In this story:

Sephora Pearl eye or face sheet mask (also favorite Masque Rose mask)

Sephora Almond foot mask and Aloe hand mask

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for all the live action! @splashofteal xx 

Fashion, Featured

From Summer To Fall: Suede, Tassels, and Blues

August 21, 2016
from summer to fall

It is still pretty warm outside, but soft and cozy fall fashion, shades of orange, brown, and blue have started finding their way into my closet and daily wear. And as much as I love summer, I started getting excited about transitioning my wardrobe from summer to fall and updating it with a few trendy pieces that can carry me through the fall/winter season. My first fall trendy accessory is this Rebecca Minkoff suede clutch/crossbody. The bag encompasses at least three Fall 2016 trends: suede textures, swinging tassels, and beautiful shades of blue I obsess over. It reminded me of Chloe ‘Hudson’ tasseled bag from Spring 2016 collection which I adored ever since it came out.

I love that I can wear this bag as a transitional accessory from summer to fall. Here I wear it with summery colors and textures (white and linen!), an outfit I can wear to work and a lunch date. I love wearing this bag as a cross-body with a tee and a pair of jeans, and as a clutch with a summer dress. Super fun!

Have you started transitioning your wardrobe from summer to fall? What are your favorite trends? Would love to hear from you!!

♡ Zuma A.

From summer to fallRebecca Minkoff bagRebecca Minkoff bagAnn Taylor bracelet

In this story:

Halogen three quarter sleeve cardigan

Max Mara skirt, old (another option by Ann Taylor here, now on sale!)

Manolo Blanhnic pumps, old (also love Pour la Victorie ‘Celeste’ pumps here, by Sam Edelman here, and by Ivanka Trump here)

Rebecca Minkoff ‘Sofia’ Tassel Trim leather clutch

Kate Spade sunglasses (also, cute sunnies by AJ Morgan here)

Michael Kors Chronograph watch

Ann Taylor bracelet (newer design by Ann Taylor here)

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for all the live action! @splashofteal xx

Career, Fashion, Featured, Health, Life

How to Be Productive: Moving Your Office Outside

August 18, 2016
white dress

Lately I have been making an extra effort to move my office out of my office as often as possible. Labor day is only two weeks away, and I am not ready to give up my summer vibes just yet. To enjoy my daily work life in a less stressful environment, I’ve started to rely on less cramped, outdoor space to get my desk work done. This helps me tremendously. Fresh air helps reset my mindset from all work no life to work life balance. I feel like I’m treating myself even though I’m sitting down to work. On these days I use the opportunity to wear something I love but could never wear in the office. Right now, this white linen dress and sandals (these UGG flatform sandals are the most comfortable ever!) are a favorite. I put my computer, files, and planners into a very spacious beach bag, and I’m good to go.

 My office outside the office can be anything ranging from a balcony or a backyard, to picnic tables in the park, to a local museum garden bench, to a pool deck or, my favorite, to the beach.  

To be honest, at the beginning I felt guilty to work outside. I was so stuck with the traditional idea that if I was not by my desk, I could not be productive. After two or three attempts, I adjusted to this new work environment easily. My work productivity have not suffered a bit, and the biggest perk was that I became much more calm and clear-headed at home.

Where do you go to be most productive? Did it come naturally to you or did you, like me, have to train yourself? What do you do to take breaks?

♡ Zuma A.
office outsidewhite linen dressLucky Brand dress Kate Spade toteKate Spade toot

In this story:

Lucky Brand linen dress, old (also love Lucky Brand embroidered dress now on sale! and J.Crew linen shift dress also on sale!)

UGG Leanna Platform sandals (now on sale, but sizes are limited)

Kate Spade bag, old (love this sparkling Kate Spade Garden Way Hallie tote and Rollins Street Laure tote, both on sale!)

Kate Spade white frame sunglasses

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for all the live action! @splashofteal xx

Fashion, Featured

Summer Work Outfits: Breaking Dress Code Rules

August 4, 2016
summer work outfits

I love that summer work outfits don’t usually follow strict dress code rules. Years back, when I graduated law school and started working in a law firm, I started to wear pumps and suits regularly for the first time. As time went on, I started hating this look. It felt suffocating. Of course, it had less to do with the look than the fact that I hated my job and, thus, felt generally unsatisfied. I finally mustered the courage to quit the job and start my own practice… and haven’t worn a suit to the office ever since. I started putting together outfits that are professional, but also fun and empowering.  It could be a simple dress or bright colored heels or wide legged culottes.

Less and less was my mindset rooted in ‘is it appropriate for work?’.

I don’t think I am alone here. A more relaxed dress code seems to be spreading throughout the corporate world and more women are now shedding their restrictive suits and going for more fun styles, colors, and silhouettes. It just makes sense to me – brighter colors and lacy ruffles make me enjoy my day a bit better.

If I enjoy my day, then I feel happier, and a happier worker is a much better worker than unhappy one. 

I definitely did not start out with an outfit like this one. At first, I started incorporating small changes like substituting my suit with a black dress. And from there, I just added on. I like adding a bold bright necklace or contrasting shoes, etc. Now that it’s summer, and people are a bit more relaxed, I feel that I can relax the dress code rules even more and go for toeless sandals (even gladiator sandals) and denim, especially if it is Friday. And, I can easily take this look from day to night.

Do you break your office wear protocol during summer? I would love to see your summer work outfits tagged #splashofteal on Instagram! Meanwhile, if you have no choice but to follow the rules, at least you can substitute your dark suit with a white one hehe.

♡ Zuma A.

summer work outfits summer work outfits summer work outfits Kate Spade

In this story:

Kate Spade top, sold out (also love this top by Vince Camuto here)

Ann Taylor denim skirt

Ivanka Trump sandals (now on sale!)

Michael Kors bag, old (also love bag by Tory Burch here)

Kate Spade necklace, old (also love ‘Jill’ cCollar necklace by Kendra Scott here)

Wildfox ‘Dakota’ sunglasses

Featured, Food, Life

Cooking at Home: A Very Messy Veggie Burger

August 3, 2016
avocado burger

There is nothing better and healthier than home cooking! Ever since I started approaching home cooking as a ‘foodie’ experience instead of as a chore, it became as enjoyable as eating. Playing with ingredients and textures was surprisingly satisfying to my creative side. This veggie burger with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and lemony avocado, is easy to make and delicious. Even carnivores like my men love it. Instead of a beef patty, I use a mix of ‘beef-less ground beef’ and cooked lentil, sautéed in olive oil with garlic and jalapeño for a little kick.  Avid carnivores can substitute beef-less beef with, well, beef. (Scroll down for the recipe!)

I usually buy ready to use ‘beefless beef’ and cooked lentils from Trader Joes, but the portions are bigger than I need. So I make the patty mix  (see below) and divide it between a few ziplock packages, and freeze them. Ready-to-use patties save me lots of precious time in the future! (enjoying cooking doesn’t mean I have much time for it!)

Anyhow, between the ground mix, avocado and salsa, this burger can get a little messy, so keep your plate and napkin close. Oh yeah, and don’t eat it in front of anyone who you want to impress with your impeccable manners hehe.

♡ Zuma A.

avocado veggie burgeravocado veggie burgeravocado veggie burgerDSC08907avocado burger avocado burger

A Very Messy Veggie Burger

Ingredients (for 2):

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1/4 small jalapeño, diced

1 cup Beef-Less ground beef

1 cup Cooked Lentils (similar at Trader Joes here)

Ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (whatever kind you can find in your fridge)

1/4 cup sliced onion

1/4 sliced bell pepper

1/2 cup your favorite salsa

Ciabatta bread

2 slices mozzarella cheese

1 avocado sliced

1/2 lemon

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, over medium flame, heat EVOO, add garlic and jalapeño, sauté for a minute. Add beef-less ground beef, lentils, and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a smaller skillet, over a medium flame, heat EVOO, add onion, mushroom, and bell pepper. Stir until caramelized. Set aside.
  3. To assemble the burger, stack the caramelized veggies, beaf-less mix (you can shape it into a patty or just stack onto it using a spoon), salsa, mozzarella cheese, and avocado slices splashed with some lemon juice on ciabatta bread.
Featured, Life

Small Investments to Achieve Your Best Work-Life Balance

July 30, 2016
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One of my missions in life is to be the best mom I can be for my family and the best woman I can be for myself, but I am not going to lie, sometimes my work-life balance looks more like work life juggle. The change is so gradual, that sometimes I don’t notice when the downward spiral starts until it’s in full swing. And like many women, I can give you tons of reasons why I deserve to have a meltdown! But being a working mom, and an autism mom, I have a responsibility to maintain my energy and drive to progress forward. I’ve found that the best way to avoid spiraling is to do develop strong preventative habits. With small investments of time in the right things, I can transform the quality of my life into a much better one.

Prevention is the best way to avoid loosing work-life balance.

1. Go out on dates with your partner (and turn your sex life up a notch).

Once my husband and I started going out on dates regularly (alone or with friends), my mood started improving fairly quickly. Getting a cocktail, unwinding, and letting things go feels so good. Things just don’t seem as intense and as bad as before. And these are probably the best days to schedule sex dates with your man. Yes, I said schedule, because we all know that after long and grueling days, sex is quick to become an afterthought. And I know, this is one of those things most of us have thought at one point or another we’d never do, but it’s honestly a great way to keep that spark going and feel closer to your partner!

2. Give yourself alone time regularly.

Whether it is a night time skincare routine, soaking in a fragrant Lush bubblebath, or time with your favorite book, your alone time is absolutely necessary to feel that you are more than a hard working mom, and that you are an amazing woman. Just as it’s important to schedule partner dates, it’s essential to schedule solo dates! Having an empty house is rare for many of us, but even claiming the bedroom and bathroom for an evening and having my husband take care of Alex for those couple of hours, is wonderful. I can take a longer than usual shower, apply a mask, catch up on reading, watch Netflix, and feel totally pampered without leaving the house.

3. Hang out with your girlfriends regularly.

We must not forget about our girlfriends! It is very difficult to find time for friends when you barely have time for yourself, but again, scheduling is a must. It doesn’t have to be often, or for a big chunk of the day. A bi-weekly coffee date, happy hour, or monthly dinner can give you that bestie time you need. I truly believe that fostering our friendships is special and necessary. You feel like yourself again, and girlfriends are a whole other type of bond, one that is different even from that I have with my man!

I hope this is helpful! The key, I think, is to believe in the importance of your sanity and happiness, and make time for all these breaks to become a part of your lifestyle. It is really easy to veg out in the couch in those few and far between free moments we have, but being intentional about relaxing activities is so worth the effort.

How do you keep your work-life balance? Please share your tips! I also have a post on thoughts and tips on Dressing Up for Work Life Balance so if you liked this, check that out too!

♡ Zuma A.

work-life balancewhite dresswork-life balance In this story:

Zara dress, sold out (Tibi white ‘Tie Sleve’ shift dress here and Missguided romper with bell selves here)

UGG sandals (the softest sandals I’ve ever had! now on sale)

Kate Spade glasses (love these Givenchy white frame sunnies here, more affordable option here)

Featured, Food, Life

Clean Eating: 5-Minute Breakfast

July 27, 2016
berries for breakfast

Good morning, darlings! A berry good morning (sorry, couldn’t resist hehe)! I am loving these summer months with the long days and lighter LA traffic. It’s during these months I feel so good eating fresh fruit. I’ve been an avid proponent of clean eating ever since I became a mom. I changed how I eat for my kids and in the process saw it is no less important for us, adults, to feel good too. When it’s hot out, to start my day right, I pack my bowl with banana slices, every kind of berries, some almond butter, a few tablespoons of greek yogurt, a pinch of chia seeds, and sprinkle with granola. Healthy, fresh, and so so good!

♡ Zuma A.

clean eating

clean eatingclean eatingclean eating5-minute breakfast

In this story:

Anthropologie off-the-shoulder ‘Islander’ top

J.Crew ‘Billie’ demi-boot crop jean

UGG ‘Leanna’ sandals (softest sandals ever!)

Fashion, Featured

Style Report: Most Comfortable Work Heels this Summer

July 24, 2016
comfortable work heels

The power of high heels is undeniable. When I wear them, I feel powerful, stylish, and sexy, so I am always on the lookout for comfortable work heels.

For years, after becoming a working mom and taking thousands of quick steps daily, I had to get practical and started opting out of heels in exchange for comfort. I started wearing heels only on special occasions and making other compromises for what I called comfort. But with time, I noticed I was losing that feeling that wearing a great pair of heels was giving me. It was more than just heels, though, I felt like I’d stopped taking care of myself, that I lost that feel of looking and feeling sexy. I decided to start getting back in the heel game, and went on a hunt for a pair that combine sexy style and comfort. Since then, I’ve acquired a pretty good eye with spotting heels that strike the comfort and style balance.

Here are a few key things to look out for.

1. Look for shoes with built-in padding under the ball of the foot.

Stuart Weitzman is amazing when it comes to padded footbed (and design!), but there are many more affordable brands who have them too.

Favorites: Steve Madden (now on sale!), Ivanka Trump (now on sale!), Stuart Weitzman, Kate Spade,

comfortable work heels

2. 3″ heels have a lower arch and can look just as stylish as 4-5″ heels. 

Designers today are very in-tunned with women’s needs and are getting better and better at creating gorgeous heels without the height. Some styles look better with smaller heels than others, though. Strappy heels are some of the best because the shorter heel is offset by the strappy design and makes the shoe look more dimensional.

Favorites: Ivanka Trump (now on sale!), Sam EdelmanStuart Weitzman

work heels

3. Give trendy block heels a try.

When a trend allows for comfort, I can’t not to take advantage. There are a variety of designs now on varying scales of delicate and bold, or combination of two. Block heels add stability and allow for better balance. Also open toe shoes allow to avoid toes being squeezed down.

Favorites: Via Spiga, Cole Haan (now on sale!)Steve Madden,  Sam Edelman

Tory Burch block heels

4. Platform shoes give excellent support and make it easier to walk.

Okay, platforms are not technically heels, but if you are interested in adding a few inches to height without wearing high heels, platforms and wedges are perfect since the sole of the foot is also elevated. The variety of designs is endless, and you can go for all sorts of looks.

Favorite: UGG, Stuart WeitzmanKate SpadeSteve Madden, Via Spiga (*Nordstrom annyversary sale)

wedges

And for those days when you can’t be bothered, these flats will have lots of compliments coming your way.

♡ Zuma A.