Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And a 'slimmer" too??? Virginia, there IS a Santa.

This is a post script to my last post. I ventured out today again for a red church shirt/blousy thingie because I am determined.......and stupid. It was rush hour, but I had my hair pulled back, make-up on, easy off clothes and I was bound to find some dang clothes from this century. So, I went to TGMax - or however you spell that - I am dead dog tired right now. It was productive. I found a great pair of jeans, a very cute RED short sleeve sweater turtleneck, and a white shirt that fit. Great. Then I saw the line of one million people and promptly put all the stuff back.

On to Ross. OMG. It was awful. It looked like a tornado hit. I walked in one door and out the other.

Then on to Old Navy. They had workers unpacking the spring collection. Right out the door. So I gave up. I went across the street to Target to buy one last gift for my man's kitchen.

And it was there that I HIT THE JACKPOT. I can't even tell you what I bought for not very much money. And I found a little thing I knew nothing about (did I say I was not very smart when it comes to fashion?). Now I am no stranger to spanks. They are my friend. But, did you know spanks now are built in to clothes??? Sweet. I thought the skirt I tried on was defective. But no. It was these spanks built right in. They are built into my shirt and dress, too. I may never diet or watch what I eat again.

Santa came early this year, my friends. He's hanging out at Target and he looks like black biker shorts. ;o)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Over 19, but under dead section?

I can't remember when I lost all sense of style. In fact, as I was thinking of writing this post I am not really sure that I ever had any sense of style. See, when you are raised largely on hand-me-downs and what's on sale it is difficult to acquire taste in clothes. So, I think that is where I started and I somehow ended up here.

So, yesterday my husband watched three of our kids (baby was asleep and doesn't count) so that I could go quickly and buy a red shirt that I could pair with a pair of black pants (already in my closet since the 90's but still tasteful - I think) and wear to church. I recently turned on daytime TV - note to self - don't do this - and heard that "black" washes you out if you are over 40 (I'm not saying I am over 40). What? I always thought black was safe and simple. This was ground-breaking (and terribly upsetting to me) news. More than half the clothes in my closet are black, and I would rather be water boarded than shop, so this will require some time. The man on TV recommended starting with red.

Okay, back to the red shirt/blouse/thing. Simple task, right? Easy to do in the span of time that baby is asleep? Right now I think it would have been less time consuming and less painful to stick sharp needles into every area of my naked body......oh, wait..........isn't there a name for that?

Holy cow. Let me just give you a low down of the trip and maybe you will join me in a protest against clothes shopping and selling in any way shape or form. Enter me into a nice (not Kohls, but not Nordstroms) department store where the salespeople are helpful but not pushy. First rack I see I think, "I would wear that and it costs less than a million dollars. Okay, let me try that." Now, my body is it's own entity. I used to be in charge of it, but now it pretty much runs itself. So, I'm thinking okay I know 10 is too big, there are no fours, so I pull a six off the rack thinking it should be safe. I hold it up and there are still two feet hanging off my shoes. And now I have wasted five minutes and now the shirt (which isn't red) doesn't look too great either.

On to the next rack. And so it goes for about another 10 minutes. So, I decide to meander toward juniors (big mistake) since even the fives (which are slim pickings) are swimmingly huge. Now, don't get the picture (if you don't know me) that I am slim. I am not. Let me just say that as a real junior I was slim and not shapely (well, if 'board' is a shape -then, yes, the shape of a board). Having four kids made my body, well, flat. Anything that should protrude doesn't. And my belly (which I don't think is supposed to protrude) does. And, I know I am being explicit here. Bare with me. He-he.

I find a couple of junior red sweater/shirts. Yay. I try them on. Wow. One of them looks, well, Startrek-like and the other is so skin tight and see-through that I am wondering how it could feel like a sweater??? Okay. Back to the rack (only have wasted about 30 minutes now). I pull off a cute gray sweater dress. The hell with the red shirt. I try it on. Hot dog. It fits and looks fairly cute. But, it's close to black. Oh, well. And, what kind of shoes do I wear with this thing? And, it's kind of cold for short sleeve. And, it's not on sale. Oh, well. I am buying this thing. So, I put it over my arm very decidedly and move on to shoes.

Okay. I really like black boots this season and there are a pair on sale for $49!!! They are cute. And I think they will look good with this dress. No pairs in my size, though. (I am now up to 55 minutes and counting). So, I meander around the shoes. Nothing looks good. I look back down at the dress and go back to juniors and put it back. I came in for a red shirt/blouse/thing and somehow got distracted and went down a bad path. So, I start over.

Suddenly there are no red shirts and I am exhausted. I give it one more go just so I can say I did. A sweet saleswoman asks me if there is anything she can help me with. I briefly think of saying, "Yes. Do you have anything that will not make me look washed out, give me boobs, suck in my stomach, push my butt back out, make me taller, and be red and Christmassy?" But, I know I am leaving empty handed, so I just say, "No, thank you." As I am breezing out the door (now thinking how I can wear the black outfit one more Christmas and shop for red next year) I see a red shirt that doesn't look half bad. I go up for a closer look and see that it's got a weird collar and is made out of some strange feeling fabric. Uh, no. Keep going. Out the door.

I may try again tomorrow. Or I may not. And this, my friend, is why I've been wearing the same clothes since 1989. ;o)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 27 - Bittersweet

Well, today is my oldest's eighth birthday. I am so happy and proud of him. He was up at 4:15 a.m. to open his presents. Typical M. - completely in character for him. I, on the other hand, was up last night till twelve fifteen making his yummy school treats and then I was up just thinking. Yes, sometimes it's a blessing, but most of the time it's a burden...my thoughts.

I am so happy for my sweet boy, but as is often the case when I am happy - I am sad as well. Happy for my M. that he is growing up into what I hope is a great boy. Sad for me that I am growing older and ever losing the sweet baby boy that I know. I tell the kids every year, "Enjoy this day. It is the last day that you are going to be (insert whatever age)." They laugh. I don't. It's true. The day passes and you can't ever get it back. It reminds me to live carefully.

I also can't help thinking of mom on birthdays. How careful she was to remember everyone's birthday and send them a card. One time (or possibly more than one time) she told me, "You need to always remember to send your siblings a birthday card. It's such a great way to show your love for them." She was so smart about those kinds of things. If any of my siblings are reading this remember that I am not that smart or organized - so you can go on not expecting a card from me but just knowing I love you. ;o)

As I lay in bed last night I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. My thoughts wandering to mom and how she and dad would call every birthday of anyone in my house and sing to us. So sappy, yet so sweet and predictable in a completely comforting way. The last birthday in my house was Ed's. November 23rd. No call on Ed's birthday. As she had already been dead for three days. Of course my mind went back to the day of Ed's birthday when I wandered half asleep (from days in the hospital and then days of new grief) out to the mailbox which hadn't been checked in a while. The kids were playing in the cul-de-sac as I checked the mail. On top was a card. I immediately recognized my mother's handwriting on the front of the card. "Eddie DeLaCruz." The tears filled my eyes right away. I checked the postmark and it was mailed the day she died. Soon I was holding this huge pile of mail and sobbing. Trying not to sit down right there at the mailboxes.

I got back in the house with the kids screaming, "Mom, what's wrong??? Why are you crying???" Ed knew as soon as he walked in the door that something had happened. "What's up?" "Go look on the table," I managed. He opened the card. Mom had written in her precise cursive something like - to a great son-in-law, father, and husband. We love you and hope you have a happy birthday. Had she only known. Curiously what was printed on the card said something like, "Birthdays are a way to remember the people who love or have loved you." So, maybe she did know.

Well, there will be no phone call from ma today to wish bubby a happy birthday. But, Bubby opened his great card from sweet, sweet grandpy this morning. He asked me how grandpy left the card since he was in Michigan. I told him that grandpy gave it to me right before he left so that Malcolm would have it on his birthday. It was kind of strange seeing dad's writing on the card instead of mom's. The message was the same - full of love. Bubby was so happy. Eight shiny new dollars. Of course, that made him happy.

Birthdays have changed for good.

I will have to get used to this....and it may take a while.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh, and another thing........

After our crazy, low-budget family Christmas picture yesterday we did make it to the piano recital where my kids performed fabulously (yes, I am prejudice). It was so worth all the fussing to see them play in the mall in front of strangers..........who clapped for them! Proud Parent Moment.

Then we saw Santa in the restroom. Bonus. I am a mean mom (in case you haven't been able to tell from my blog) and we do not wait six hours to see Santa. So, it worked out perfectly. Course, Malcolm was suspicious that Santa takes a leak, Sofia said it was icky, Corina was creeped out (as I was), and baby screamed through most of it. But, I can rest easy. Got my kids to the recital on time AND saw Santa.

But, lest I believe I am reverting back to Perfect Parent, yesterday was breakfast with Santa and not only did I not have all my kids - they weren't quite dressed. Years past I would have tediously groomed them for the occasion. This year I wanted to get there before Santa had packed it up and gone back to the North Pole. So, Malcolm is wearing an eclectic outfit, Sofia looks like a Christmas doll, and Corina has jeans and a shirt and some funky socks because she tore her pantyhose and therefore decided she couldn't wear the Christmas dress. But, they look awesome. They are so happy and all smiling and they are CUTE. I love it. It could be the best Christmas picture they've ever taken......oh, wait.........except for the one kid that's missing. ;o)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How We Went From Bribery is the Root of All Evil to GIVE THAT GIRL SOME CANDY!

This is a quick (well as quick as I can be) tale about how I went from point A to point B after four kids. Let me start by saying (and this is something I've said many, many times): I cannot believe I became friends (and remain friends) with a funny, creative, sweet woman who had three boys right after M. was born and went on to have a fourth boy. This is so incredible to me because I have no idea why in the world she put up with me. I was amazingly uptight, not to mention crazy nuts. Let me explain the insanity. It came in the form of: I am the perfect parent, can do no wrong and therefore my child will be perfect. Oh, and I know everything about parenting and could probably even write a book about it. Our son didn't watch TV, eat candy, was always impeccably dressed (from birth), took regular naps, and never had to do anything he wasn't really "in the mood for" or had to (God forbid) be bribed to do - read "spoiled." Well, that parenting which I will heretofore (I just love to type that) refer to as First Time Mom Parenting lasted right until our second baby came along.

I still tried to keep it up as much as possible. There is proof of this that I keep proudly displayed on the bookshelf. A Christmas picture of brother and sister when they are under 3. They are beautifully dressed and posing nicely at Target. But First Time Mom Parenting relaxed a little (and became more like Still Keeping Up Parenting) when the good friend in paragraph one told me most bluntly one day at the park after I'd been crying and moaning ("I don't understand why all this is happening and why I feel so awful.") "It's called two kids. It don't get any better. So, get used to it." So I became quite comfortable with Still Keeping Up Parenting. Then along came baby #3.

There is no Target Christmas picture from that year because although I managed to get everyone dressed beautifully and carted them to Target it was in the middle of nap time (because that's how long it took to get everyone fed, cleaned, clothed and me showered and dressed) everyone was cranky, and M. wouldn't stop pinching S. Even when the camera lady gave them like a whole bag of M and M's they wouldn't be still and smile. Crazy, right? Finally the sweet high school camera lady encouraged me to reschedule at another time when my kids might behave better. Like I said, no picture from Target that year. The descent from Still Keeping Up Parenting to Not Keeping Up Parenting began.

I wondered up until I got pregnant with baby #4 when exactly the downhill slide started. I am pretty sure it was right after #3 came home from the hospital. Some things went uphill like fun, enthusiasm, time with the kids while some things suffered like cleanliness, organization, laundry. I began to sacrifice things like decent clothes, nice curtains, and furniture from the 90's (yes, I said 90's) for a cleaning lady who actually could clean because I couldn't. I grew into the role of Not Keeping Up Parenting. Not to mention the fact that three kids cost some money and we only have one person working in this family. So, things just began to change. More sacrifices were made for the children and that was all right. Then came baby #4.

Now, let me tell you the parenting now (and I use the term "parenting' loosely - it's actually more like "herding") could be called My Kids Run the Show and They Will Respond To Bribery Parenting. Which brings me to the scene in our living room yesterday.

It started as all weekends normally do - a flurry of piano practice, breakfast cooking and cleaning up, two loads of laundry, maybe some playing outside, baby screaming incessantly at some point, someone torturing someone, someone going to time-out, etc., etc. But then at around 11 a.m. I started to gather the troops in order to be across town, dressed and prepared for a piano recital at 1:00 p.m. At 11:50 (we need to leave at 12:00 noon) one girl is dressed and looks beautiful, one girl is dressed and looks positively dreadful because she HATES dresses and pantyhose, one boy is dressed but refuses to brush his teeth because it is illegal (what???), one baby is dressed and snottty because she can't ever seem to be healthy - and is screaming because she hasn't eaten lunch or had a nap, one husband is dressed and even smelling good, and one mom is bathed, but has no make-up on, and is still wearing stained, ripped and generally nasty clothes (see previous paragraphs).

So this is what happens (follow closely here) and when it happened it just made me wonder - HOW DID I GET HERE???: I push the kids downstairs (one of them carrying crying, snotty, hungry, sleepy baby), scream at husband to quick take a Christmas photo that I can use for our card, and lock myself in the bathroom to get ready. This takes longer than expected because baby has thrown my make-up bag on the floor early in the morning and no one has picked it up. Two seconds later: Husband is screaming at me - am I ready to take the picture. WHAT???????????? Did he not understand the parents are not in the picture - just the kids? Who wants a picture of a harried mom with clothes from the 70's??? So, I pick from my ever vanishing clothes that fit and are not stained, throw some mascara on, brush my hair (when was the last time I washed it? not sure - too late to care) and hobble downstairs at which point I see all of them eating chips in the living room which has been turned into some sort of quasi-Christmas studio. Baby is screaming until they shove chips in her mouth at which point husband says, "That's it! Places everyone! When I say go - feed baby a chip and she will smile. Better yet, who has candy???"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Long and Complicated or Day 21

Some days there is a lot to write, some days not so much. Or, at least none of it is worthy of "publishing." Even the titles suck. So - I have mostly sat down to write, nothing comes out except drivel and then it is "saved for now" or immediately deleted. Today there is a lot to write, but I will try to stay focused and on topic. I will resort back to something I learned in high school (and that is scary on so many levels). Pick a topic to write about, introduce it, say three well-rounded things about it, and then conclude. Short and simple. And you know when you say that, it's just not true.

God never gives us more than we can handle. True? I am not sure. Nor am I completely sure what the heck that means (readers - feel free to clue me in). Lots of people told us that when we lost Frank. And lots of times I thought in my head, "What a load of crap." Or, more politely, "I must be a freaking wonder woman, then." I prefer to think (because I have known this to be true) - God tries to prepare our hearts for what is to come. Whether we recognize this preparation depends on us.

When we lost Frank, Ed had become a Catholic (okay - that still sounds weird when I say it and now I know that it writes even weirder). He had attended a retreat that could be labeled "charismatic" (I am pretty sure there were no snake charmers, men speaking in tongues, or head healings - but I cannot be completely sure.) When he got home he said, "Moni, I think God is telling me that He is preparing us for something that might not be great and I am a little frightened." And you know I am paraphrasing because if you know me you know that I am feeble-minded. Okay, so when I heard this I had several thoughts. Them being: 1. What? 2. Are you Nostradamus now that you are Catholic? 3. I have been Catholic since before I was born and God has never told me anything or prepared me for anything. 4. Again, what? Then Ed said he thought my mom or dad might die. So, I was a little freaked out. Time passed and the world didn't end, so I figured Ed was off his rocker.

Then we lost Frank.

I couldn't shake what Ed had said. I still can't. And I've had a good nine years to think about it.

Fast forward nine years, and I will tell you that I think I was being prepared for my mom's death. How did this happen? Like so many things God seems to do - quietly and in tiny bits. Strangely, I had been finding lots of interesting stories and quotes in the bible. Not a book I would pick up on a regular basis, but I had been. I found myself listening during the sermon at church (I think that's what we are supposed to do, but have been known to pull kids' ears - don't worry - just my own kids, think about the week ahead, or plot the ways in which I can reprimand the kids after church). This had gone on for a few weeks, and then around October I was handed the task of helping Malcolm prepare for his first reconciliation.

Now I am pretty old (not as old as light or the dinosaurs - but "old" nonetheless) and when I was a kid confession was to be feared. It was owning up to God for all the awful things you had done. Worse still it was having to tell these awful things to a PRIEST of all people. And, this is what I largely still believed going into said "preparation." I am an old Catholic, so I do rely on guilt as a daily (if not hourly) way of walking a straight line. And I largely thought of confession as a necessary, but useless sacrament made once and then put on a shelf never to be seen again. The first introduction into a guilt-led life. So, I took on this task of preparation less than enthusiastically and frankly a bit disgustedly since my own feelings about "reconciliation" left a lot to be reconciled.

Well, then we had our first preparation class and I learned what reconciliation and grace were all about. Among other things, I was reminded of Pope John Paul (the second??? yes, I think so) who went to the prison in order to forgive his shooter. I have heard this story before, but this time it was like I was hearing it with new ears and I was struck with the beauty of the story and its implications. Then Father said something just a little scary. He recommended parents go to confession at the same time as their children. Ah, yikes.

Well, you can just imagine how much pause that brought me. We went over the 10 commandments (which I can report I know now) and what they mean in daily life. And I realized that usually by about 8:00 a.m. every day I have broken at least two of the 10 commandments. I was also versed on An Examination of Conscience. I found this to be downright scary, but I wanted to not be a hypocrite and do this right. So, I examined my conscience. And, I was right. It was scary.

But, I did it. I went to confession. I cannot say that I am sold on the sacrament. And this is by no way an attempt to proselytize or sell you on confession. It was strange and I am not sure about all the implications of it, but what I can say without a doubt is that the following week I felt a strange feeling that I can only describe as calm.....possibly peace. This was two weeks before mom died.

It was with this residual feeling of calm and peace that I weathered the first experience I have ever had with a child going into the hospital. And it was with this fading feeling that I found out mom had died.

Fast forward again to last Monday night. Malcolm made his first Reconciliation. I am deeply comforted by the fact that mom had it carefully penciled in on her notepad that she kept by the phone. "December 7 - Malcolm - First Reconciliation." I know it's because she was going to pray for him. Faithfully pray. As she always did. One thing you can be sure of - if mom said she would pray for you - she would. Unceasingly.

I was there in church waiting in line in a strange scenario of little nervous second graders lined up to "confess." And their parents standing with them. Malcolm looked up at me with a silly grin and I prayed to mom, "Please, ma I know you were going to pray for him. Granted not like this. But please look down on him and bless his mind so that this brings him calm and peace.....And me, too."

Mom did bless him. He was granted peace and calm - it lasted about one day. But, that makes me smile. I confessed, too. Rest assured you will not have to read that. Instead I will share something the priest (without knowing of my current situation) said to me that has brought me peace and that I have thought about a lot. And this is my prayer for Day 21. He said (and, of course, I paraphrase), "For your penance I want you to pray the Our Father this beautiful prayer. But this time when you are praying it think about how you are a daughter. A beautiful daughter.................of God."

Day 21 Prayer of Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

Amen and thanks for the read

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ten Four Good Buddy

Ed has the kids' Christmas walkie talkies out and is "testing" them. He has all four of them powered up and is seeing how he will put them in the stockings for his grand plan. The last I heard was, "Breaker, breaker this is Santa coming through..................Moni, are you there?........................Moni, are you there?" Me after I figure out how to work one of the three walkie talkies he has now placed next to my laptop, "Yes, I am here dangit. I am trying to write my blog." Him, "Well, can you pick up one of the three walkie talkies there and test it?" Me, "Go outside far away and I will test it."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What I Am Thankful For This Thanksgiving

First - the title. Yes, it's kindergarten. Sorry. Yes, it's going to be a list. You know you want it and when you think about it - have missed my lists. Yes, it's I Can't Remember How Many Days AFTER Thanksgiving - but, I've been a little busy. So...here goes (oh, I am feeling really thankful today - so if you are like me you will skip to the end and decide then if it's worth the read ;o).... - but know that you might skip yourself.

I am thankful....

1. for Smokey Robinson. I have had this amazing song running through my head for so many days now - "Take a good look at my face. You'll see my smile looks out of place. If you look closer it's easy to trace the tracks of my tears."

2. JC knows how to cook amazingly well. Who knew? I didn't know the breadth of it. She kept my family fed for a while. AND I am thankful for all the other stuff she did for our family (too extensive to list ;o).

3. CB knows how to shop at Costco. Wow. Is it two kids and a husband that likes to eat? I don't know. But, that woman can shop and shop well. See the last sentence of #2 as well.

4. for SM and her calling me from across the globe to make sure I was okay. I love a woman that will tackle a time change for a friend.

5. for MG. What can I really say here? So, this is what I have thought - We've been friends since middle school. She knows more about me than most people and still is my friend. She is here for me through thick and thin. I love/loved her parents. She saved me from possible injury by driving me to and from Kerrville. I love her.

6. for a dear friend of long ago who has been sending me really, really kind messages on FB and my blog. You know who you are. That she would take the time to do that. Did I say wow? Wow again.

7. for LH. Her ways inspire me to be a better more thoughtful parent and friend. Always has and probably always will.

8. for my family. What else can I say here? There are no words.

9. for S. who sat through the Nutcracker (where I did not want to be) smiling and innocent. I love her with all my heart.

10. for love lost.

11. for M. who said (and I am paraphrasing here because I can't remember the exact words), "Grandpa didn't die and he's the one who makes cookies."

12. for C. For her prayer every night without ceasing, "I pray for grammy and grandpy."

13. for JW for just asking quietly, "How are you? You doing okay?" oh, and for putting up with ALL my kids ALL the time. AND see #2 last sentence.

14. for all the sweet, sweet FB condolences. Crazy, eh? That just sounds "not right." Like, "That kid ain't right."

15. for The Chandler Family. I am so not used to that - that I couldn't remember who the heck it was when I saw the gorgeous plant. ;o)

16. for my great P and P customers who forgave my late prints and came to my house to pick up others. They will never read this, but I have put key to screen and that makes me feel better.

17. that nine years ago someone told me, "Write three things you are thankful for everyday - even if you don't feel like it." At the time I think I thought, "Well, that's stupid." But, I did it.

18. that I have already been through hell on earth a few times to prepare my heart for these days.

19. whoever did something great for me and didn't make the list will forgive me because I am feeble-minded. ;o) Or they will remind me in the comments so that I can thank them tomorrow. ;o)

20. for MM. A person who knows what hell on earth feels like because she is going through it right now. But, in her pain takes the time to check on me. For her sincerity and genuineness after all these years.

21. for DL for crying (I hate to do that) on the phone with me.

22. for love lost (did I say that already?).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 12 or The First Epiphany

I don't remember much about losing Frank. And the body is probably designed that way for your own protection, self preservation, and well-being. ;o) What I do remember comes to me vividly and is triggered by odd random things. I remember sitting on the toilet (not using the toilet - just sitting there to have to avoid actually talking and interacting with people - basically wallowing in my sorrow) in my friend's house which she had so graciously offered to us while we were going through the depositions. There was a Reader's Digest on her bed stand that I had picked up and taken in the restroom. I flipped through it and stumbled upon an article about a woman whose husband was an Olympic athlete (I think I have this story right and someone who reads my blog - oh, wait does anyone read my blog besides me? - may know who this actually is) had lost her husband and months later her daughter to (I think) disease and accident. Okay, now that I am writing this - the details are sketchy. MAIN POINT being - she was suffering a lot. Her life was rocked like an earthquake - 10 on the scale. But, she came out on top. She took all her pain and used it for good to help other people. She became this amazing motivational speaker. It was really at the time an amazing read for me. I remember so vividly thinking - holy cow. There are people who go through 100 times worse than I am going through right now and guess what - they not only live they make the best of it. Buck up, baby. It was an epiphany. Not the last - just the first.

Last night I was flipping channels and stopped on the Catholic channel because I love it sometimes. Father Eddie was talking about justice. Of course I thought of mom. Justice was high in her book. It was a really good conversation about advent being for justice and treating your fellow man with humanity because that is what we are called to do. But one thing Father Eddie said struck me right in the head. He said, "Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory of God forever." Baruch 5:1. Now, that just happens to be for this Sunday's readings, and it thumped me on the forehead. But, then he said (like he could see me flopped on the couch) - and I am paraphrasing a little because I can't remember how he said it exactly, "Now, I've had a bad week. I have been crying and having a pity party for myself but then I went to BAMC and saw a guy whose leg was shot off in the war and a bunch of other soldiers who weren't doing so great. And I was lifted up." Hmm.

This could be the first epiphany for me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

30 Days of Grieving....I'll Take It

My aunt sent my dad a little book of prayers with 30 Days of Grieving. I am slightly confused by the 30 days, although I am sure there is a good explanation for that. I think my Organized Sister has made a copy of said book for everyone. So, maybe I will understand later. If I remember correctly from the last serious loss I suffered about 9 years ago - it was more like 365 Days of Grieving. But, ah well. Anyway, I have decided to do my own book (and I use that term loosely).

So, this is Day 11. What does it feel like? So far (and, keep in mind it's 7:00 a.m.) much like Day 10 and Days 1-9. Do I have a prayer for the day? Yes, I do. It goes like this: God, give me the strength to get through the day. Numb my brain so that I can focus on what I need to do. Touch my heart so that it feels love instead of emptiness. And, let my thoughts wander away from mom to other things that will bring comfort instead of unending pain. Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

So, I will write

Sometimes it helps. Only the decent stuff actually gets "published," but I am up and writing most everyday. Most of it deleted upon finishing...Not sure what will happen today. Mom has been dead now for 10 days. And, today I am actually feeling quasi-normal. Haven't cried yet. I have a to-do list sitting right next to my lap-top...staring dreadfully at me. There is nasty turkey still in the fridge, I can smell Starbucks coffee, and the laundry is fairly caught-up. If you didn't know - it might seem like any other Monday after Thanksgiving. But, sadly, this one is way different. There is just that big hole in my heart that I can't seem to get around. There are the million times throughout the day that I think, "Ah, mom will like that. I will have to remember to tell her the next time we talk." There is just the nagging headache that I realize is from days and days with no sleep. There is just that brief moment every morning that I wake from sleep and forget that mom is dead and the world seems great. Then, I remember. Mom is dead. And that feeling just consumes me and I wish I could go back to sleep. There is the fact that the kids went back to school today. Smiling faces full of the anticipation that the post- Thanksgiving pre-Christmas season will bring. So, I am alone with baby. Ugh. Any other time I would welcome it. Today I am not sure I can bear it. So, I will start my to-do list and manage the day. Because I do know that time heals all wounds. Or at least time buries them deep enough so that they only emerge when you least expect it. Besides #1 on my list is Get Up (apparently I was feeling pretty productive when I wrote the list). So, technically I am ahead of schedule. Yippee. It's going to be a good one! Till the 11th day..................

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well, the laundry ain't getting done

So, I had forgotten the joys of cutting the first year molars. Apparently the symptoms are: whininess, nasty poop, no appetite, whininess, uncontrollable drooling, snot, whininess, suck everything I can get in my mouth, and did I say whininess? Well, let me just say if you don't have kids, had kids and forgot, or are currently with kids - the joys of teething are endless and should be experienced by everyone. :o)

I know you are wondering, Could anything make cutting the first year molars easier? Funny you should ask! YES! Another child with flu-like symptoms. Add that to the mix and you have a PARTY on your hands.

So, here is a to-not-do list for today. If you have never heard of a to-not-do list let this be your introduction. It is pretty self-explanatory and gets replaced with "1. Act as a nurse."

1. Laundry (see title)
2. Piggies and Paws prints
3. Purchasing for our house re-do (that one is okay because there is no money in the checking account anyway) ;o)
4. Any miscellaneous cleaning (which when I do it is pretty haphazard and unenthusiastic anyway)
5. Cooking
6. Make kids' follow-up dental appointments

So (and this mostly goes out to the other five people I live with - five of whom don't read the blog - so I am not sure how this will help them - but it will dang sure make me feel better), the laundry ain't getting done today and for dinner - how 'bout you help yourselves to some leftover Halloween candy? You don't need a fork or knife, there's plenty of it, and since I can't make your follow-up dental appointments the coast is clear for guilt-free eating.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cutting the Apron Strings....Thread by Thread

Okay, so my kids are 7, 6, 5 and 1 so the cutting we are talking about here is minuscule comparatively. That being said, being that I am a total Law and Order FANATIC makes any kind of 'cutting of threads that tie me to my kids' extremely difficult. I experience anxiety about crazy things and constantly work to keep that at bay. So, it was with this slightly frantic frame of mind that I let my seven year old venture out last night on his first night without me or his dad.

First rule of Letting Your Kids Be Away From You With Other Parents - always, always, always know the parents you are entrusting with your child. Know their values, trust them, and know that they will protect your child......I had never meant them.

Second rule - don't start out with something really, really huge like going to a venue that seats - oh about 10,000??? Consider something smaller - like a birthday party.........He went to AT and T center.

Third rule - always discuss with your child your expectations for his behavior, stranger danger, etc., etc. CHECK! Did that! Drilled him for 8 days!!! Specifically for 8 days - otherwise my kids are drilled on this everyday of their lives. ;o)

The good news is that even though mom broke a few rules, it all turned out okay and bubby got to experience Walking With the Dinosaurs which we would never be able to afford to send him to. Yay Bubby! I hope to post pictures soon. :o)

I had to laugh at me and E. sitting on the couch watching yet another episode of Law and Order (me also praying constantly in my head), though, waiting for him to come home. It provided an eerie look into the future and I know I am not ready for that. Good thing this will come thread by thread. ;o)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween...a day and night for rule changing

When you try to cram too much into Halloween day two things are going to happen. 1. The kids are going to throw giant fits and turn into devil children. 2. The pumpkins are going to get carved the day AFTER Halloween. So, we did what we could and had a blast doing it. Here are our pictures. Enjoy! Oh, and this would really be scary if I did this Halloween post without a LIST. Have no fear:


1. Attending a potluck on Halloween when you have four kids is a GREAT idea. Mess up someone else's kitchen, feed your kids, and get out while you can and before total meltdown (that will come later when their bellies are full of sugar and they are up 40 hours after their bedtime). (Thank you B.C.)

2. Porch lights off = not participating in Halloween is a good idea, but not necessarily a time honored tradition in our neighborhood (that's for you, K.E.). It could just mean they are busy and will answer when they are good and ready with lots of candy for your kids who are already on to the next house.

3. Although I do not fully understand Neighbors Who Have No Kids But Who Decorate Above and Beyond for Halloween - I love you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

4. Generally kids crossing the street from side to side after dark wearing dark clothing and heads covered with masks making breathing and seeing virtually impossible is really, really dangerous. But on Halloween - it's encouraged, required, and seemingly healthy.

5. Candy when given without restriction can cause a catatonic stage followed by bursts of strange and lively activity. This cycle can continue until the child can either no longer walk to the area where the candy is, or cannot muster the energy to come out of the trance.

6. Halloween Mainland Square 2009 was the best one that I can remember (except for last year). :o)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Does a tummy tuck come with that costume?

I am trying to actually have my Halloween costume by Halloween this year. And, in preparation for that I tried on my wedding dress yesterday. Yes, I know what you are thinking...WHAT THE HECK? Is she serious? Yes, I am. My costume this year calls for a formal dress and in an attempt to save money I thought, well, my wedding dress is formal....and it's paid for. Bonus. I knew it would be too small, but with a little cutting and stapling I thought it would do. Well, not so much. So, I know I have four kids and I've gained weight. But HOLY COW! My middle daughter had the honors of trying to zip me up because I figured she'd be the most understanding and compassionate about the delicacy of the situation. Her exact words when she pulled the zipper up oh, about two inches (she's six), "Well, it doesn't look like this is going to work." Me, "Well, it's going to be tough. No one said four kids was going to be easy. Here, I'll help you. " My sweet baby girl, "Well, it still doesn't look like it's going to work." This lasted about one more minute before I dragged her, me, and this crazy dress (what was I thinking for Pete's sake that thing is ugly) into the bathroom to get a closer look with two mirrors. I carefully positioned the mirrors so that I could see the gap we were facing, and that's when I broke into hysterical laughter. Yeah, there was no way any amount of cinching, cutting, stapling was going to get those eight inches together. I looked at it about two more minutes (just to have a good laugh) wondering if perhaps sewing ANOTHER wedding dress to it would work. Then finally said, "Okay, baby, help momma take this thing off." My baby, "Momma it stinks like old stuff. Did it stink this bad when you got married?" Me, "No, just the 19 years afterwards." Hee-hee. JUST KIDDING. But, it did stink. And, it was awfully ugly. Why would I want to wear that thing anyway. At least that's what I told myself. So after putting everything away and going downstairs I announced to the remaining three kids, "Pack up we're going to Goodwill to buy a formal for momma's Halloween costume." That's when my bright boy pops up from his piano practice and says, "But, why I thought you were going to wear your wedding dress?" Me, "Yeah, well, that didn't quite work-out. It's about this much too small (I hold up my hands to show the gaping hole that was left in my back.)" My sweet, sweet boy, "Well, can't you just lose weight before Halloween. Remember you said you were starting early this year? You still have four days!"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1 and the honeymoon in this house is OVER

You know all those stay-at-home moms who can't wait for school to start again? They count the days down like we were waiting for Christmas or Hawaii? Well, I am not one of those. Never have been. Give me summer over school any day and I will thank you kindly. And I say to all "those moms," "IS THE HONEYMOON OVER PEOPLE??????????????" Hello! Count down to summer has begun in this house thank you very much. Let me give you a run down of our basic life of September (and I will try not to make it a list, although it is calling list, list, list - so rather you will get a sloppily strung together explanation of it all).

Homework stinks. "Too much!", "I don't know how", Ed can't do first grade math, "Teacher said not to do it that way," and on, and on. Do first and second graders need homework?

We are all teetering on the edge of the swine flu or malaria, or some such health sucking disease. Everyone at school is sick. Don't go to the doctor unless you are dying because you WILL come home sick. Get a flu shot, but when? If you miss school you will get "your pants taken off" for having an absence. If you go after school you will have to wait (with all the other sick or not sick people) for 100 hours. Then you will have the stinking flu, so WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE???

Getting up early stinks. The dog-days of summer are gone and I seriously miss them. Schedule, schedule, schedule. What the heck? Go to bed so you can get up. AND don't complain about it.

My kindergartener hates school. Teacher threw away her paper, Angela doesn't do her work and gets her bee moved, there are no friends at recess - well just the one boy-who-goes-to-the-principal-but-just-sometimes.

Baby is in a funky stage of Don't Want To Nap But Need One Or Else I Am Devil Baby. This results in mom (that would be me) having to carry her around from about 2:00 - 6:00. Oh, wait. Isn't that when we have to eat dinner to stay on our schedule? Yes, it is. Which requires me to MAKE dinner. I am getting good at doing this while holding said cranky baby.

Boy child has taken to misbehaving. This has resulted in me wondering (and I am so sorry to all the divorced people who might read this) (okay, who am I kidding - I am the only one reading and I am still married), "When a kid wonders if it's his or her fault if his parents get divorced, what's the PC thing to say IF IT IS?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Seriously. If he brings home one more conduct mark I might have to move out. ;o) Just kidding, but it did make "the list."

So friends............................ not only can I not wait for summer '10, I am counting it down, baby. COUNT ON IT.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Star Student? Well, you are in my eyes.

Sofia tends to obsess on things a little much, and she is a DRAMA QUEEN. So, it should have been no surprise that she take the Star Student awarding today with much fanfare. I just was a little surprised and quite amused by how much attention she has drawn to this event. Star student is awarded to different students (every student gets a chance lest it become competitive and hurt their self esteem) in kinder and first grade every week - beginning with the "most" star student (I guess). The said star student gets to do different fun things during the week and is basically treated like a public school rock star. Hmm. Okay, well, it's fun for kinder and first grade students, presumably. Well, last year in kindergarten Sofia waited patiently for the award and became star student in about January. So, apparently there were many other students who were more "star" than her, but still she was more "star" than a few others. This is, by the way, very close to her exact description of the situation last year. Well, this year she is far wiser and much more eloquent. So, since the first week of school Ed and I have been hearing about the star student count down. Today the teacher picks the very first star student. She started obsessing on it Monday when it was announced. So....let's see. Everyday she has prayed that she is named the first star student and mom has prayed that we all be delighted and proud of the child who is named star student (while Sofie frowns and gives an ugly face to my prayer). Everyday she has excitedly giggled when announcing to us all (in case we have forgotten), "This Friday teacher will name the first star student." Everyday she has reinterated the reasons why she deserves to be the first star student. And everyday we have talked to her about why we will be excited for whoever is named star student. Do you get the picture? Well, this morning thinking we might be done (since today is the day afterall) with all the drama, anticipation, explanation, and everything else...Sofia announced when I walked into her room to wake her up, "Guess what I dreamed last night, mom." Me, "I have no idea, what? (I, obviously had not had my first cup of coffee)" Sofia with a grin larger than life, "I dreamed I was named the first star student!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not a Good Idea #1

I got this hilarious book at the library the second week of school. It's a little gem called, "The Book of Bad Ideas." (No explanation necessary - it's exactly what it says it is.) Then this past weekend I was able to write my own book called "Not a Good Idea." This blog post comes with a warning. If you have a weak stomach you are going to want to skip to the last paragraph (which will most likely be a list - because I LOVE lists and I don't know if I can actually end a post without one). So, I will meet up with you at the end.

Okay, if you are still reading swallow deeply and here we go....

Last Wednesday due to serious lack of sleep, a sick baby, and the general stress of living with 4 kids - I got sick. I felt myself going down and by Saturday I was on a schedule of: walk two feet - rest two hours, clean one dish - rest two hours. It was crazy nuts. Well, of course (because this is the law of nature - when you are sick you will have great plans), we had planned to have dinner with some of Ed's family that were in town. I had a nagging voice in my head Saturday when this was discussed that it might not be the best idea since baby and I were still feeling pretty puny. But, after an intense discussion with the other adult in our house that went something like, "Well, what are you going to eat?" "Dunno." "Do you feel like cooking?" "Dunno." "Do you want me to take the kids?" "Dunno." "What would they eat?" "Dunno." and on and on in a similar vein - it was decided that we were better off going.

It seemed fine.....at first. We drove about 35 minutes to a little southside institution of a restaurant and were pretty much done with our meal when I got another little nagging voice in my head that something wasn't quite right. The young girl child was looking at me across the table with a look that, although I recognized as dangerous - I couldn't quite put my finger on (because remember I am SICK). So, in an attempt to make me recognize this look - she brought it right on across the table to me. That's when the voice in my head was shouting (only all I could make out - because I am sick - is This is Not a Good Idea). She started to say something over my shoulder when everything she had just eaten came up right into my lap (on which baby sat). I can honestly say that NOTHING in my 7 years of parenting prepared me for that. Wow. It was like a horror film...and she was Linda Blair. Just when we thought it was over....it wasn't. It continued for another 10 minutes and it spread somehow like a wildfire. It became a blur of me trying to comprehend what had just happened while caring for a sick child, a wet baby, and lots and lots of nasty, stinky, disgusting goo on me. Let's just say we cleared the restaurant on a Friday night at peak time in a matter of minutes.

Again, wow. It was just frightening. Well, there is a silver lining. It did NOT happen in the Yukon. Just me. I was just covered. Neck to waist. The girl child was sick, though perfectly clean. She had perfect aim. Baby was covered hair to waist. And we both smelled positively putrid.

So, suffice it to say, it was not a nice 35 minute trip back to the house. We now know the YUKON goes damn fast and it's really, really loud with all the windows down. Two of us had to bathe again - and when you are sick, by the way, ONE bath is an effort. Bedtime was rife with reenactions of the crime scene and I was still a little gun shy of puny kids.

Okay: Are you ready for my list? Don't worry - it's short. Short story - short list.

1. Listen to the voice in your head. Try to decipher what exactly it's saying because you might be in immediate danger.
2. If it doesn't sound like a good idea - it's probably NOT a good idea.
3. When you are not feeling well, the best place for you is in your own home.
4. Always, always, always prepare. Stock the vehicles with plastic bags, plenty of towels, soap, a change of clothes, some deodorizer, a portable shower, toothpaste...................
5. There are some things that you can just never, ever be prepared for and this is because when they happen you might need to learn a lesson the hard way. ;o)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

From Old Photos to New Rides or The First Week of School

School started this past Monday ending a fabulous summer for our family. The summer brought: awesome vacations and staycations, Lainey's baptism, Malcolm's introduction into BMX, and Ed's reintroduction into BMX, Sofie's introduction into piano, Corina's mysterious "accident" resulting in her losing her first tooth, and many, many happy days and times. This first week of school has already brought many memorable moments.

My baby (up until Lainey was born) entered KINDERGARTEN. Is she that old? I have been asking myself for a few weeks now how and when that happened. It seems the three older kids just grew up while I was busy doing something else - laundry, cooking, cleaning. This makes me both proud and deeply sad. It all started with my tiny mental breakdown after returning home from Las Vegas (breakdown was mainly caused by my detour to Hell on the way home - via an unexpected overnight delay in Dallas). During this teeny mental instability I decided I was sick of the house and that if we couldn't afford to move out right now (damn it) I was going to get someone much smarter than me to help me "redo" some things. Well, that spurred a move of furniture all over the house and the uncovering of some old, old pictures. After a good three hours of crying and ooing and ahing I decided I had spent a lot of time doing other things while my kids were changing right before my eyes. So, it was with that perspective that I was launched into what has always been a heart wrenching time for me...the first week of school....

Well, the first day was both marvelous and a little strange. I tried to stay busy all day to avoid crying, Lainey was a little unnerved by being in the house alone for the first time in her short life, and the kids loved school until about Wednesday.

Monday I got a call from my Uncle Larry who was here for a Marine reunion. I was a little disappointed when he told me he was going to be quite busy for the remainder of the week so he wasn't sure we could get together. But, I understood. Monday evening I heard amazing facts about school from the kids. Did you know there is a cafeteria with food? Did you know in second grade we have to be responsible? Did you know there is a teacher with snakes? Did you know kindergarten is for big boys and girls? Did you know if you stick your hand out the window on the bus it could get cut off? and on, and on, and on..............

Tuesday the kids were still excited about school and eager to go. Ed and I became parent oriented Tuesday night. ;o)

Wednesday morning Corina declared that she wasn't going back to school and Sofia and Malcolm were equally unenthusiastic. Ed and I decided the honeymoon was officially over. Just as I was sad when I found I probably wouldn't get to see my Uncle Larry while he was here, I was equally thrilled when Wednesday we decided to have lunch together. Not only is it a treat for me to go to lunch during the week - downtown, it was really, really great to see him again. I grew up with my Uncle Larry being a common figure in our house and seeing him again after a long time brought up many happy memories for me.

Wednesday also ended a long, depressing search for a new (read "really used just new to us") vehicle. Depressing because we do not really believe in credit or owing (anything but our house) and we live on a cash basis which seriously limits our ability to buy things. ;o) (read "we is poor") Cars are expensive. It doesn't matter how you cut the cake. So, we had resigned ourselves to saving a little more and continuing to drive the beater that we own. We ended Wednesday with meltdowns all around, but after a second night of parent orientation Ed and I felt fully prepared to be parents of school age children...................HA!

Thursday morning there was an ad for a GMC Yukon 2002 for so cheap we knew it was a scam or a misprint. We read "garage kept." But, knew that must be code for "rust bucket, piece of work." Well, Thursday we dragged the kids all over town to see this "too good to be true" vehicle and Friday night we were the proud new owners. There were a few minor items that were not quite represented in their truest of form, but all in all we got an awesome, truly unbelievable deal. Thursday ended with the girls safely tucked in bed, thoughts of my new ride swimming in my head, and my bubby bringing home yet another BMX trophy. :o)

Saturday we spent one last day as a family with my dear uncle. We, again, had a fabulous time - swimming in the hotel pool, laughing, and reminiscing.

I have composed about 1500 blog posts in my head this week and somehow when I sit down to type it all falls short. So, I can only sum up with my favorite thing...a list.

What I learned the first week of school 2009:

1. Enjoy the time you have with the ones you love because time goes so, so quickly and they might not be here tomorrow - even if they are - it will never be the same.
2. Always try to remember the past because if it was good you have a guide for how to live today, and if it wasn't good you have a guide for how to live today.
3. The best new ride is the one that's paid for.
4. Sometimes when we let go of longing for what we want - we get just what we need.
5. And last but not least, give generously and from the heart because you WILL be repaid. :o)

That's the best I got today. ;o) Thanks for the read my friends.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Staycation 2009

We usually take a beach vacation in the summer. We don't have big bucks and we live in Texas, so the beach is a logical, affordable vacation. This year, however, we opted for a different venue since we didn't think sand and a 10 month old would mix too well. We decided to crash my brother's gorgeous, largely empty home in Austin, and then spend some time in our very own city. So, we left two Wednesdays ago after Ed got home from work. Wednesday night we settled into my brother's house - which is just fabulous. He lives in a fairly new community in Austin that is just gorgeous. We got to visit with our beautiful and sweet niece, Lizzie, and catch up a little with my brother.Thursday morning we headed to the capitol. It was a little above the kids' heads, but they had a good time just the same. They spent a little time looking for the president and wondering why he wasn't there. ;o) We came back to my brother's and went swimming in his pool. I wish I had taken pictures of the pool (Ed napped instead of going with us which is why there are no pictures!) because it was really nice. The kids, of course, had a great time. They have turned into fish, and as long as there is a pool they are pretty much happy anywhere in the summer! We swam most of the afternoon away. Thursday evening we headed downtown. We took a little driving tour of downtown Austin and then settled in to watch the bats under Congress St. bridge. This is a spectacular sight and the kids enjoyed watching from both below the bridge and on top of the bridge. After watching the bats, we walked around downtown so that the kids could experience a little nightlife in downtown Austin (which is an adventure - like no other - in and of itself). My brother drives a cab at night and they were determined to see his cab (he already knew where we were going to be). Malcolm's vacation was made when completely joking around he yelled out "TAXI" from the bridge and lo and behold up drove my brother. It was pretty funny - even for an adult - and Malcolm is still telling the story to anyone that will listen. ;o)

We ended the day with ice cream all around.

Friday morning it was a sad good-bye to Uncle Ray and Austin. Uncle Ray took the kids to the various parks that are in his neighborhood. They loved all the cool structures and got a kick out of helping Uncle Ray walk his dog, Penny. My brother's neighborhood has some wonderful areas to enjoy nature and play.From Austin, we headed home briefly to catch a ride to our hotel in downtown San Antonio. We arrived at the Crockett hotel which is across the street from the Alamo in the afternoon. We immediately got into our suits and headed for the pool. We swam until it started RAINING - of all things! (We are in Stage 1001 of the drought, so rain is always highly unexpected). It was perfect timing for us. We'd had enough water and headed to our rooms to get ready to find some dinner. We walked across the street to eat at the mall's foodcourt, played at a downtown park, and caught a great magic show on the way back to the hotel.

Our second day downtown we toured the Alamo, swam, went to eat, took a trolley back to our hotel, had fabulous fun in front of the Magic Mirror, and toured Ripley's Believe It Or Not. It was great fun. We ate late night burgers at Fudrucker's and spent our last night of staycation full and happy. Sunday we ended the day by going to Fiesta Texas with friends. Who knew vacation at home could be so much fun???

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Post Until the Post I Want to Write

I have a long post to write soon about our staycation - which was wonderful in every way. But, that is going to take some organization on my part which is nowhere to be found in these dog days of summer. So...in the meantime I am sharing this. A friend posted the template for this activity on FB and I really like my result. In a nutshell - You don't know where you are going until you know where you come from. Thanks for the read!

Where I Am From

I am from a hot comal, from Breck shampoo and Noxema. I am from the white and green house with a huge basement that smells like roasting chiles. I am from the tall corn plant, the red rose in spring, and the apple tree with a tree house in it, the weeping willow tree on the corner, the lillies of the valley, and the smell of fresh cut grass. I am from a huge family that gathered every Christmas, with their hugs and kisses, and "Roman" noses, Aunt Juanita, Grandma Sofie, and Uncle Larry. I am from the unconditional love and teasing unmercifullly. From "ai que muchacha" and "se te va a sacar la lengua." I am from la Virgen de Guadalupe and Juan Diego. I am from CCD, CYO, and see you every Sunday at church. I'm from Midland, Michigan and a long line of Sanchez's and Silva's, a pile of hot tortillas and a bowl of freshly cooked beans. From the the beach in Puerto Vallarta drinking coconut juice straight from a coconut with my wonderful ma and dad, the Mexican sun beating down on us and the smiles on our faces brighter than the day itself, mom's sitting right on the sand and she looks so happy in my picture. I am from the box of really old snapshots that sits on a dusty shelf on my bookcase upstairs in my small, house. I am from the fancy, wooden box on my dresser that contains four fragile elephants from my grandma Sofie's collection. Tiny items worth no monetary value, but nonetheless worth the world to me and waiting to be passed down to my children so that they will know where I am from.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hot Dogs, High Dives, and Happy Fourth of July

Well, I knew about hot dogs and the fourth, but who knew that Sofia would turn out to have more of her daddy's daredevil blood in her than I ever would have thought??? Our wonderful July 4th day started with the annual parade in Comfort, Texas. You ask, where is that? Never heard of it? And I answer, I am not surprised. It's a town of about 20 and grows to about 220 on the Fourth of July because of a sweet little down home Texas parade. It is quickly becoming a family tradition for us. It was about 810 degrees straight off the concrete, but we didn't melt and actually had a very good time.

Then it was a yummy BBQ at mom and dad's house. That was fun and of course I am so grateful for another July 4th with mom and dad! We had a very relaxing and great dinner. It is always great to spend time with mom and dad and to have the kids spend time with them and each time get to know and love them more. :o) Then we headed out to the pool for a swim. That's when things really got strange. Mom and dad graciously agreed to stay with Lainey so that Ed and I could actually swim with the big kids. We all had a great time swimming together. The kids were doing their usual thing - Malcolm being very cautious, Sofia mostly throwing caution to the wind, and Corina floating around in her tube.

Sofia since birth has always been the risk taker. When she started to walk she didn't care how many times she fell. She just wanted to try. But when it came to water and swimming it was a different thing. She was always brave, but never really a risk taker. Lately she had been saying that she wanted to jump in the "deep end". So, when we got to the pool I casually asked her at the pool if she wanted to jump in the deep end. She immediately said yes and was jumping in. Then she said she wanted to jump off the diving board. I was a little surprised but happy that she was being so brave. So, it was off to the diving board. Not to be outdone by his sister, Malcolm and Sofia both mastered the low dive.

The shock came when, after a few times off the low dive, Sofia said she wanted to try the high dive. (Too high even for mom.) I was shocked and speechless. Ed quickly shot me a "holy cow" look as Sofia scooted off to get in line for the high dive. I said to Ed rightfully panicked, "You better get down there with her if she's going off." Before her ascent, Ed explained to her that it's a one way ladder, and the only way down is through the water. This did not
faze her in the least. Up she went and down she came. She was ecstatic. And we were PROUD! :o) Our awesome day ended with a fireworks show seen from a parking lot off the highway close to our house. I am not looking forward to the day when the kids realize that you can actually plan to see the fireworks and GO to see them rather than catch them on the highway driving home. Although, that is so much more spontaneous and fun. :o) Thank you mom and dad for a GREAT day and Happy birthday USA!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Five healthy lessons learned at the public pool

1. Breast enhancements remain upright long after the rest of the body begins to sag making for a totally unnatural and rather comical look.
2. Tats on young skin look MUCH different than tats on old skin (I hope. As in - I HOPE they didn't actually pay someone to do that to their skin). I am reassured in my decision to not ever get a tatoo.....anywhere.....saw a lot in a LOT of different places. ;o)
3. Cursing from an adult for no good reason in a public place is never attractive.
4. Sometimes less is less and more is more.
And Number 5....I saved the healthiest for last.....
5. I have spent WAY too much time obsessing about how unattractive I look in a bathing suit, and I will now stop. :o))))

Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's Been a While...

Ed's dad's memorial service was yesterday. And, of course, since I am a thinker - I have been thinking of death quite a bit. I am reminded of the power that death has to unite families. Death can be a family reunion that you weren't necessarily planning. The conversation is quite the same: "how long has it been?," "how old is your baby now?" "so, where are you living?" "what are you doing now?" And all the "remember when's....." The promises to keep in touch. The exchanging of phone numbers, emails, photographs.

I have also considered that in death unexpected forgiveness can occur. Fences can be mended, hatchets buried.....Not really in a outright kind of way, but more in a subtle, love for family kind of way. That's interesting to me.

I have been and remain midly terrified of death (my own personal death - because I have been and remain totally self-centered ;o) so death holds a bit of fascination for me. It seems to me that the more deaths families must endure the stronger they might potentially become at uniting while the family members are still alive. This leads me in a round about way to the fact that I have always been confused by "Live each day as if it was your last." And, of course, I've thought about it quite a bit. Afterall if it's my last what do I care? I will be dead and those who loved me will be sad or happy about how they lived their last day with me. And, then there's the mess of: what about the laundry, the groceries, etc.? So, I have thought quite a bit to revise this to "Love each day as if it was THEIR last." That seems to cover it, and right now that's all I have. ;o)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

On the menu for tomorrow: spiral ham, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, asparagus (which is a new one for our family) with bacon-carmelized onion sauce, deviled eggs, and strawberry something or other for dessert. Yummy. Today Ed made potato salad with fried potatoes. Who would of thought? Of course, it was DELICIOUS. So, I am not worried about the challenges of tomorrow. If it's all ready at the same time - even better. Happy Easter!

Monday, March 30, 2009

feels like a monday to me

I haven't blogged in a LONG time due to many factors. None of which have to do with writer's block, since only great writers get that, and I am decidedly not a very good writer. Good writers would have taken all the chaos that has been my life since February and published a great book with it. I instead have avoided the computer like the plague. Well, leave it to this day to break the spell...

The weekend past was not all that great to begin with, so expecting that today, MONDAY would bring any salvation was a long stretch. But, I dared to think it anyway. The weekend was a mix of joy and pain: A cancelled fire pit due to high winds. One hellaciously scary poopy diaper that required laundering and bathing (her not me, although I considered it). A strange turn of events in which a jar with NO BOTTOM got put in the cupboard and I poured tomato sauce into it. That turned the kitchen into a thick, saucy mess and left me virtually paralyzed and wondering what the hell had just happened. Laundry, laundry, laundry and then more laundry after the tomato sauce. That's all I can remember. I think I blocked the rest out to save my sanity.

So...like I said. Expecting today to be grand was probably a long stretch. I woke up made breakfast, lunches, and went walking. Not half bad for a Monday. I considered a shower, but decided I would have plenty of time later for that. I made the baby cereal with bananas and that seemed harmless. I forgot to tightly screw the bottle top back in place on the bottle, though. (This is an important point for later.) I made plans to have a much needed (after the not-so-great weekend) playdate with a friend and her kids. After C. asked for the 50th time, "Is it almost time for our playdate?" I decided to forgo my shower and hair wash in order to just get to the damn playdate. I tried to quickly feed baby her bottle (the one with said loose top). In a matter of seconds formula leaked all over both of us. When I say "all over" I mean I had formula in my bra and she had it in her bellybutton. Shower back on...hair dirty one more day. C. screaming, "IS IT TIME TO GO TO THE PLAYDATE YET?"

We finally get to the playdate at 11:30 a.m. We have to leave at 12:30 because C. has speech. So, we play, talk, and eat quickly. Mostly the girls fight. Joy. I am keeping my friend's kids at 1:40ish for about an hour. That's fine - I welcome the diversion. Back home at 12:30, C. off to speech. Baby in bed at 1:00 for first nap of the day. My friend leaves her kids - her girl child throws a huge fit and wakes baby. Baby back up at 1:30. Baby CRANKY. Friend's girl child now sound asleep on my couch. Yay. My daughter gets back home from speech. She and my friend's boy play for about five minutes in which time baby is screaming for a bottle and the boy pees. His mom did not bring clothes for him. No problem. I will pop him in some of M's clothes. As I am trying to get the clothes, and feed baby her bottle he finishes peeing on the bathroom floor and the phone rings. M.'s piano teacher is leaving a message that there is an emergency and my friend's boy is standing in about one inch of pee in my bathroom. And baby is still screaming for her bottle. Against my better judgment I answer the phone. Can we change our piano to 3:15 instead of 4:30 on Wednesday? Not a problem I say while baby is screaming in my ear for her bottle back, my friend's boy is still standing in pee, and now my C. has gotten out some permanent ink stampers and is stamping on what I hope is paper on the kitchen table.

I get off the phone, put baby down, clean up the pee, get him in clean clothes, take away the stampers, get baby again, and check the calendar. I'll be damned if M. doesn't have a dental appointment at 3:00 on Wednesday. What are the chances of that???

At that exact moment I said good-bye to Monday. The rest of the day was downhill. Tomorrow will be better (how can it be worse???). The bathroom smells like bleach, my hair smells really bad, and I have to be two places at once on Wednesday. I will take some advice from today and wash my hair and shower first thing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

true stories

The van on the way to HEB:
Sofie: What do we have to buy?
Me: Cake mix and deodorant.
Sofie: Who is the deodorant for?
Me: Dad.
Malcolm: What's deodorant?
Sofie: I know what it's for (grinning).
Malcolm: What?
Sofie: It goes in your armpits (giggling).
Malcolm: (giggling) I know that, but what's it for.
Sofie: I'm not sure, but it's either for growing hair there or not growing hair there. So...it's for dad, so I guess it's for not growing hair there because he's got a lot of hair there.

true story. ;o)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the house, the house, the house is on fire...

Well, not technically the house - just the greenbelt. So, I'm watching the kids play outside Sunday around 4:00 and I run inside (tagging Eddie as he runs out to watch them) to quickly finish dinner and...drink a beer. More like slam a beer since I rarely can enjoy a drink - let alone a beer. Ed takes over watching the kiddos play outside with our neighbor and good friend S. Next thing I know Malcolm is speeding through the backdoor screaming in a high pitched seven year old boy voice, "Mr. S. called 911 because there is a FIRE in the greenbelt." The winds were about 50 - 60 MPH Sunday. And, although I am prone to exaggerate (no?) I don't think that I am right now. So, I knew if Malcolm had got it right it could be dangerous. I calmly walked outside and I couldn't see E. or S. or any of the kids. I went to the back, looked into the greenbelt and sure enough I saw smoke. So, I went back in to turn off the stove. One fire seemed like enough. ;o) By the time I went back out - the fire was, oh, about 15 FEET HIGH. It was crazy. A few seconds later the fire truck showed up and our block was alive with activity. The firemen were able to contain the fire and thankfully no fences or houses were damaged. When all was said and done there was about 50 feet of scorched earth and lots of stink behind our block. I got back to my warm beer a few hours and two fire trucks later. Needless to say the fire drew out most of our neighborhood and the neighborhood in the back. It was like a huge cook-out except with no meat, lots of firemen, and the anxiety that goes with having avoided a potentially life-threatening situation. Later that evening Malcolm lost another tooth. He went to bed saying, "This has been the most exciting weekend EVER. Mr. S. called 911, we saw a fire, and I lost a tooth." I couldn't have said it better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes, we did!

Well, I haven't blogged in a week because I have had so much to say, but really no way to put it all into words. I am really excited for this week. Today the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday - made extra special by tomorrow's historic nomination. We had planned on doing the march downtown, but when faced with the prospect of having the baby on the road for that much time with 100,000 other people, we decided to celebrate in our own way from home. After a bit of confusion last night on what a "march" was (Sofia thought it was like a drum line and was practicing her "march" around the house with a baton in hand) we settled down twice to listen to Dr. King on the laptop and again on NPR. The kids have heard the I Have a Dream speech many times. But part of the beauty of the speech is that no matter how many times you have heard the speech it can speak to you anew each time.

The inauguration promises to be an historic, special time again. And again, I would be remiss if I did not mention my parents. I am so thankful for them on this day. First because it is my birthday. ;o) Second, because they instilled in me a deep sense of patriotism - which I didn't recognize as patriotism for a long time - possibly until this year. They are fervent life-long democrats, but it wasn't a love for the democratic party that they passed on to me necessarily. It wasn't even an explicit love of country or patriotism. It was a sense of kinship with other people, a sense of helping others in need, and a sense of knowing that by exercising your vote you were participating in the one thing that could ultimately change the course of the country and consequently your life. My parents to this day (and daddy is 92!) are constantly helping other people, exercising their right to vote, and participating enthusiastically in the change our country is seeing. Sunday daddy told me that he would be in front of the TV all day on my birthday excitedly witnessing history in the making. This made me so happy and brought tears to my eyes because I know daddy and ma have witnessed such change in our country - daddy especially having been born in 1916 and lived through and experienced prejudice and change alike.

I would also be remiss not to mention Ed. He is so happy today after working so hard during the campaign. I am proud of him for being so passionate and motivating so many people to get involved. Happy day, Ed.

Lastly, today is my birthday. I am so happy with my kids, my husband, my awesome friends, and my family right now that I would prefer to live in this time forever. But alas I am growing old, and still scared doing it. If it is inevitable, I am happy at least that it is today. I have tried to impress upon my kids the significance of today. Not that it is my birthday, but that my birthday falls on this day which has such importance. I have big plans to watch TV all day. I already caught John Miles on TV in Washington. Yay Anna! How proud they must be. No presents today. After all, I got what I wanted! ;o)

So...that's all I have. Not much. A little corny, but heartfelt. Bear with me - God bless America! :o)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Growin' up leads to growin' old then to dyin' and dyin' to me don't sound like all that much fun...

Sidenote: I felt like blogging this in the middle of the night...but someone was using my toothbrush (if you don't get it - keep up).

The first time my sister called last Sunday and left me a message to call her at work I thought it was a little alarming, and I don't even have her work number. Not entirely strange, but strange enough for me to think a little about it. But I had to unpack perishables and then was off to another errand. When she left the second message to call her, I knew something was up. So, I called. I found out that another sister's husband's sister's son had gone missing around Christmas. Naturally, the family had been worried and looking for him. His body turned up New Year's Day. Self inflicted gun shot. He was 20.

I met him only two times I think. I remember mostly him being handsome and looking faintly like his mom. I knew his mom little better having met and talked to her mostly at my sister's house. But, I couldn't stop thinking about this news. Wow. So tragic. The questions. Did they suspect it was going to happen? Was he depressed? Where did he get the gun? And the question I can't stop thinking about - Did they part lovingly? I have thought about this to no end and then being the thinker I am - thought about it some more...

Monday morning I took Malcolm to the doctor for what I suspected was some kind of eye infection. It was, namely a sty, but infected with what the doctor thought might be staff. They decided to put him on antibiotics and monitor it. They did and it grew until it looked like the Elephant Man on his eye. Thursday morning the pediatrician referred him to a specialist who took one look at it, and told me "we" would have to do a "procedure" "ASAP." So, without a cell phone, I was left to make a decision (something I have never been good at). Either - admit him to a children's hospital so that he could be put under and perform the procedure there, OR - give him a local and perform the procedure at the specialist's office. Oh, and to help me make my decision the doctor told me we didn't want it to rupture because he wasn't absolutely sure what it was and he wasn't sure how soon he could get Malcolm into the hospital. Well, possible pain or possible blindness in one eye? I opted for possible pain. And pain it was. I was dutifully traumatized for putting my child through hell. The anathesia wasn't effective because halfway through the procedure he realized he was going to have to go deeper than he thought. It was somewhat like having a baby - once the baby's coming out - ain't no going back. My sister assured me the whole experience was likely much more traumatic for me.

Tuesday I found out my uncle is near death. My mom told me. Since kids I have gotten progressively worse at keeping in touch with aunts and uncles. This causes me pause - quite a bit, but I can't seem to change it. You know we find time for what is important to us. But what if the important things take more than 24 hours? My uncle, like most of my mom's siblings and my mom had a large family. He is divorced, and he has not been close to any of his kids since I have known him. I have always thought about that fact. Being the youngest of 10 I find I often don't know a lot of family details. I just use my imagination (which I can hear my mother labeling as "wild") to fill in the blanks. So, this I know: it makes me sad that my uncle grew old and will die largely without his own family...

It is Sunday again. I am sick. Baby is sick. Malcolm's eye is less frightening. I have few conclusions none of them really new. Nevertheless here they are: Being a parent can be really, really hard. We will make good decisions for our kids and not so good decisions - both of which may have lasting effects. The depth of your relationship with someone may depend on the time you put into it. I remain unsure of growing old.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lessons from 2008

I learned...
in the area of the economy:
1. it takes a long time to save money for retirement and not so much time to lose it.
2. powdered milk does not taste as bad as I remember as a child.
3. raising four kids on one income may require choosing between paul mitchell hair product and meat.
4. given the choice of expensive hair product and meat I will often choose expensive hair product.
5. that I can live with six channels on a non-flat screen TV.
in the area of child rearing:
1. The Law of Multiple Children - which states that for the number of children you have (i.e. 4) the previous number (3) will seem like no children at all. This appears to be true ad infinitum.
2. how my parents managed to handle 10 kids.
3. the mother often ends up with the oldest children while the father is left with the baby.
4. how my dad got so good with babies.
in the area of technology:
1. that not owning a cell phone has allowed me to actually talk to my children at the grocery store, in the van, waiting in line, etc.
2. IPODS take away the anticipation of what song will be played next on my favorite radio station.
3. Facebook is great when the kitchen is filthy, the kids are dressing from the clothes dryer, and I have 50 prints due in one week.
4. laptops are like toothbrushes. Each member of the family really needs their own.
in the area of relationships:
1. moments in the 18th year of marriage can still be as breathtaking, precious, painful, and sweet as moments in the first year of marriage.
2. good friends become more and more important to me with each passing year.