Friday, December 10, 2010

So Many Goals

We find out today if the house actually sold yesterday. Our real estate agent will be giving us a call today to let us know if we have a new landlord. It has been pretty annoying dealing with this for eight months now but at least it will be over today (we hope).

Sleep was not something that was going to happen last night so I got up at 6:00 a.m. and in my bleary-eyed state, I made coffee, bacon and then I put bleach in the sink to clean it. That's definitely a great aroma combination first thing in the morning and it definitely wakes you up if the coffee doesn't. What was I thinking? Maybe multi-tasking is not the best thing to do when you are half asleep.

Soccer is in high gear right now and our frosh/soph team is doing well in the preseason. We had a game last night and we have a tournament starting today that goes through Monday. I think that gives us a schedule of seven games in seven days, but the girls are having a great time. Last night I waited at the school for the bus to deposit the girls after the game. I could hear the singing as the bus made its way down the hill, it was quite amusing to hear the girls laughing and singing as they rolled into the parking lot. Gabi jumped of the bus, with red and gold balloons hovering over her head as she tried to manage the secret sister packages she received and her soccer gear. She played really well yesterday and her coach gave her high fives and high praise as she walked off the field.

I was planning on trying my hand at making a small batch of tamales on my own (OMG) today, but that will have to be postponed since Gabi's tournament schedule changed and we now have a game today. I don't know how I am going to squeeze in this little project with all of this soccer going on, my new column starting next week, and trying to get ready for Christmas. I'm also the point parent for Gabi's soccer team so I am in charge of organizing the team pasta parties and the charity backpack event for Christmas.

I was also thinking about trying my hand at a small batch of menudo. I helped out in the kitchen as a kid but that was the last time my hand actually touched tripe. Most people are grossed out by it but I happen to love it. I need to find other ways to prepare it besides having it in menudo, not that my husband or kids will touch it but I need to experiment, I have been in the food experimenting mood lately.

Baking has been a priority these days. I tried out a new ginger cookie recipe and although they weren't quite what I was shooting for, they were gobbled up immediately. I need to take another shot at them before Christmas. I had an interesting cupcake order which shot my stress level through the roof. I had to work with a local chocolatier to make it happen and although she was making very little money from my order, she went above and beyond the call of duty so my cupcakes would be a success. And, they were. I can't wait to do another order just like it since now I have a handle on how to do it.

I have a few books sitting around waiting for me to read them, but right now, I don't have the time I had just a few short weeks ago. I picked up "White House Diary" by Jimmy Carter from the library and a friend of mine loaned me "Where Men Win Glory" by Jon Krakauer, the story about Pat Tillman. I'll tackle the library book first, and to be honest, I am hesitant to read the Krakauer book as I warned that it is going to make me angry, I don't have a lot of energy for angry right now. That one will have to wait a bit but I will read it. I have also been bombarded with reading essays that Gabi has written about "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tom Sawyer". Of course, that leaves all my newspapers piling up along with all my cooking magazines unread. There just not enough hours in a day.

For now, I will just try to focus on my column, which I am so excited about, and a little nervous, but I will make it happen.

Maybe next time I blog I might have an idea where I will be living next month.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm Stuffed!

November 8 came and went with no auction of the rental home we are living in. I have been informed that the auction date has been reset until December 9. This should all make for an interesting holiday season, yet again. Just as we do with most things, we will take this one day at a time and just wait and see what will happen. If there is anything that I have learned about life, it is that life does not follow a plan and that worrying seldom changes the outcome. Of course, worrying never changes the outcome but sometimes it is hard to control that as well.

It has been a very busy November. Winding down from one soccer team to ramping up for the next soccer team brings new experiences for all. I volunteered my assistance with the new team and, hopefully, I will meet some interesting people in the process.

I had a large cupcake order to fill this month. This particular order was delivered out over a number of days. I forgot how much work it is to bake all the different flavors of the season and add the appropriate toppings to them. To finally package and wrap each box up with the most gorgeous ribbon I was able to find, I must admit, is quite satisfying. You have to see the pictures of the packages that we did this year.

Even though I have a pretty large family we spent Thanksgiving with friends this year. My family is spread out all over L.A. and we are out here in Orange County so it is sometimes difficult to get all of us together in a place large enough to accommodate us all. We had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner with our friends and we played cards as we tried to digest the large meal that seemed to anchor us to our chairs. It was a pretty lively game of 31 and at one point someone's wine glass took a dive. The wine made its way across the tablecloth and was only halted by the wall that stood in its path on the way to the living room. We were thankful that the cleanup was quick and there was no permanent damage. I wonder if we will ever get invited back.

Friday brought a repeat of the Thanksgiving festivities, or should I say, a repeat of the menu. Andrew's parents came to visit and this time I made the turkey dinner with all the sides, and I even baked another apple pie. I won't lie, my turkey and stuffing were amazing. I tried a new recipe for pie crust so my apple pie was even better than before, and that says a lot, even though I do say so myself, I make a kick ass apple pie.

Today I am nursing a food hangover so I have been lounging all day. Recovering from baking, delivering, cooking, grocery shopping, eating and drinking. Of course, it all causes me to consider a return to the gym and workout routine I was once so dedicated to. I know I need to do it, I feel it in my bones, or to be honest, I feel it more in my gut.

In the meantime, the two Andrews are bringing in boxes of Christmas decorations and urging me to get to work. They have been busy little elves today, planning their attack of lights on house. Its a large project to be sure because I am married to the real life Griswold. Andrew always has the Christmas spirit like no other and it makes for some pretty amazing curb appeal at our house.

I think I will sit here in my sweats for a while longer while I stare at those big blue Rubbermaid containers marked "Xmas". Just thinking about that project is making me hungry. Hmm, maybe I'll get to it after I have a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwich...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Today is D-Day!

Upon our return from retrieving the kids from school on Friday, we were welcomed back home with yet another note posted on the front door with a phone number to call. "Immediately", I believe was what was written on the note. The author of the note explained that this house we are renting was going up for auction, yet again, slated for sale on November 8. You might note that that day is today.

One might wonder why I am not in a panic about it. I am sure that most of you will remember that we already went through this once before in September. Truth be told, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it, even if its true, and I have my doubts. We will just wait and see, I'll keep you posted, this could get interesting.

We made it through the election this past week and I am glad to be relieved of the political advertising that found its way through television, radio and the web. Now comes all the political posturing during the lame duck session. I have to turn most of it off because it has a tendency to make me crazy, or is it that I have a tendency to become crazy? Oh well, either way I know my limit.

I have been reading a lot of books over the past few months, I LOVE to read. I read all the the Steig Larsson books and they are incredible, not for the faint of heart mind you, but a truly amazing ride. Andrew and the kids gave me John Stewart's new book, "Earth", Gabi jumped on that one and she enjoyed it as well. Also on my literary menu was "Thomas Paine's Rights of Man" and "God is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens, all very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed "A Happy Marriage" by Rafael Yglesias and "Under the Dome" by Stephen King.

While visiting my mom, I quickly blew through her copy of "Wishful Drinking" by Carrie Fisher. Now Ms. Fisher has some interesting stories to tell but to be quite honest, I thought her book was crap. One of my favorite reads this summer was Anthony Bourdain's "Medium Raw", I just love him.

Right now I am on a quest to educate myself so I picked up a copy of "The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins. Not a page turner or an easy read but pretty amazing stuff to be sure. I am not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination as one might have already ascertained by reading my blog, but I try to stay informed and knowledgeable about as many things as I possibly can. Its my latest venture, an attempt to expand my way of thinking. I know what you are thinking, "Good luck with that!" and to that, I say, "Thank you!"

Gabi reads books like most teenage girls go through Starbucks beverages, or should I say how most Starbucks beverages go through teenage girls, or would that sound too unseemly. But I digress. What I love about Gabi's love for reading is that it gives us some really great things to talk about. She just finished "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the second time (she had to for school). I never read the book but I saw the movie with Gregory Peck, so I had her watch it prior to her having to read it for school because I felt it was an important film for her to see. We have had many discussions about it ever since she finished reading it. She now insists that I read the book because there is so much more to know about the story. It's next on my list.

I gotta get back to reading heresy, so, until next time....may the force be with you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween, its Bittersweet!

We have been living in our rental home for close to a year now. Its a little stressful not knowing what will happen at the end of the year, if we will stay or if we will go. We only just started to get to know our neighbors here and they seem really great and I have to say, its really nice to have a huge park at the end of our street.

Gabi mentioned something about the lottery this morning and I started to think that maybe winning the lottery was a viable option for our financial crisis! Wow, I need a break. Hopefully we will get some good news this week (got a few things in the fire you know).

Halloween was really fun in this new neighborhood. We had tons of kids (some were not really kids anymore) in numbers that we had never seen in the old neighborhood. That was a treat (no pun intended) for Andrew because he loves to go all out decorating the house and scaring all the kids. He set up a monster on a pulley system to fly towards the porch as the kids turned and walked away, as well as a fog machine and a big, hairy spider that jumps out at you when you get to close to it. Our neighbors gave him rave reviews for all of his efforts. He also carved all the pumpkins and we roasted the pumpkin seeds right away. I baked mummy cupcakes for a friend and for a dinner party that we had the night before Halloween. It was a great weekend, Gabi's soccer team even won their game and I discovered a new martini drinking buddy!

I wrote a few more food articles but the website still places them under the wrong category so that is beyond frustrating. Hopefully they will get that resolved soon or I will have to move to greener pastures, green as in moola baby!

Currently, we are mired down with much to do about fundraising, for soccer and for science camp. So many things to sell for these kids but its part of the gig when have kids. I think we may have had to do more when the kids were in private school, on a much higher level. I would rather sell Sees candy than golf tournament fees or luxury vacations, thank god I am currently surrounded by normal people, of course I could be overstating that a bit.

By the way, anybody want to buy some See's candy?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dreams Of L.A.

Oh wow, it's been a while since I've shared.

Short recap: Summer came and went and soccer was king. Drew started playing soccer again as well and that is going well. Kids prepared for school. Gabi started her freshman year at high school. My little peanut is now in high school! Job search for us has been fruitless, as it is for millions of other Americans. Also, my husband's great uncle passed away just this month.

Gabi went to her first homecoming dance last week and she was so excited. We had a lot of fun shopping for her dress, especially when the one she finally picked was on clearance for $17.99! It was a little surreal seeing my baby girl in high heels looking so beautiful. I was worried all the anticipation building inside her, that her night would not live up to all the hype. She came home beaming, "Best night of my life!"

I started writing a food article on and I really love it (please note that the website has my new title marked incorrectly). It inspires me to cook and bake more, great for the fam but hell on my ass. I made cupcakes last night just for the hell of it, because honestly, we really need to have two dozen cupcakes sitting around the house. Off they went this morning, boxed up for coaches and teachers alike. Hey, a little sweet bribery never hurt anyone!

After making a few visits back to my hometown L.A., I realized how much I miss it. I noticed the abundance of quirky and interesting restaurants and eateries, and not one of them was a product of the mass produced crap spewed out by the chain gang.

On one of the trips back, I took the kids to my sister Lisa's house in Pasadena. With her kids and mine in tow, we took the train to Olvera Street, bought Mexican candy and gobbled up the amazing taquitos they are famous for. Then it was a short stroll to Phillipe, my all time favorite. Gabi swore up and down that she was not hungry but once she took a bite she was hooked. She still talks about how amazing those french dip sandwiches are. Walking through that place, with the sawdust all over the floor brought back so many great memories from the many times we ate there when I was a kid.

My next trip was solo. The drive we made from Lisa's house in Pasadena to the streets of Silverlake was another trip back in time for me. Rolling along down Colorado Blvd. through Eagle Rock, I was reminded of all those nights after hitting the clubs in Hollywood, how we all hit Tommy Burgers to quell those cravings you get after dancing non stop for hours.

The trip we took to Silverlake turned out to be a much needed night of hilarity. There were six of us ladies that went to go see Chico's Angels. My sister had been dying to get us all there since she had already had the pleasure. Basically, its a comedy skit based loosely on Charlie's Angels, um, performed by Hispanic drag queens. It was one of the most hilarious things I have seen in a long time. If you get a chance, please go, you won't regret it, that is of course, as long as you are not a homophobe.

If it wasn't for my kids, I would move back to L.A. in a hot second. It's not easy to have real friends behind the Orange curtain. Sure, you meet a lot of people, but most (not all) are incapable of being a true friend. Only in the OC can one be completely disrespected by people who call you friend and then excuse their bad behavior with a myriad of proclamations like, "I am so sorry, but I went off my meds", or "I'm sorry but hey, I was on my period", and "I can't be friends with someone who doesn't agree with my doesn't matter if I didn't vote."

Of course, there is the mom who won't let her kids say "fart" because its offensive. Yet when my 11-year-old son is at her house playing with her 11-year-old, she hands them each a b. b. gun, lights her cigarette, and sends them up into the hills unsupervised. She thinks I need to give my son a bible.

ARGHHH, I can't take much more of this...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Blues

Someone recently told me that if I didn't have bad luck I would have no luck at all. Oh yeah, it was my sister. She found out that the house we are renting may be auctioned off soon due to foreclosure. I wasn't walking around whining it about it but in my family, there are no secrets and news travels fast, not that I was trying to keep it a secret.

Actually, I have not spent too much energy worrying about it. Truth be told, when I first saw the notice taped to front door I had to laugh, because that's my life. There are no easy fixes, tremendous opportunities or blessings from above for this little family of mine and its been that way for most of my life. But there are only so many times you can ask "Why me?" It becomes an absolutely ridiculous question after a while.

To be honest, we are far too busy to get mired down with this new bump in the road. Summer is upon us again and we have yet to really enjoy any of it. I had to leave town the same day of Gabi's graduation to stay with my mom through my step dad's hospitalization. Andrew and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. We spent 4th of July inside because it was unseasonably chilly. And every free moment in between all of that was spent getting Gabi back and forth to high school soccer tryouts and club soccer practice.

We are still having no luck on the job front so the financial "Threat Level" has moved from Guarded to Elevated. I don't know how long it will take to get to High but I fear it is not too far off. By the way, anyone who needs cupcakes should call me right away.

I did try my hand at an outdoor sport with Andrew and we went out a few times to play tennis. That became an exercise in futility because in Orange County you pretty much have to pay to play...oh and I hurt my foot so I can barely walk. Andrew is such an understanding and loving husband, he told it is because I am old.

I am determined to have some fun so as soon as my foot is functioning again I am hitting the beach with my son. We won't be waiting for Andrew and Gabi as they have soccer every day for the next few weeks since she made the high school team and is also on a club team. Oh and Andrew is coaching her so they are useless to us.

July is almost over and I have to figure out a way to make the best of it, whether we have a place to live, money for food, sanity left or not.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Paranormal Times!

The other day a friend of mine asked me about my FaceBook profile that states I have a ghost in my house. I forgot I had that on there and I have since moved so it is old news. But, yes, we did have a ghost in our old house. OK, laugh or sneer if you like but it was an experience I will never forget.

For us, it all started when we went to Arkansas to visit my dad after he had a stroke a few years ago. My dad lives in Eureka Springs, AR. There is a hotel called the Crescent Hotel which is supposed to be one the most haunted hotels in the US.

My sister and I love that stuff so we took our kids there and walked around and took some pics. There was this really old phone booth next to the restrooms inside the lobby of the hotel and my sister put our daughters, Gabi and Madeline, inside of it to take a photo. She asked me if Gabi had a shiny barrette in her hair because in the image of the girls there was a blue ball of light sitting on Gabi's head and she thought it was a reflection of something in her hair. Gabi had nothing like that in her hair. We laughed and found it interesting at the time, but didn't spend too much time thinking about it. The Crescent Hotel has a Ghost Tour that you can take there but we thought it might be too much for the kids so we skipped it. That was late August.

So in late October, the week of Halloween in fact, Andrew and I were watching a television show about a guy who was possessed by the devil. It creeped me out, I won't lie. So, I changed the channel and we settled in to watch a comedy. Suddenly, there was a very loud knocking on the window next to the couch we were sitting on, as if someone was banging on it with their fist! Our cat jumped off the back of the chair and walked over to the window and stared at it for several minutes, which was weird because anytime anyone would knock on the door the cat would disappear upstairs. He hated visitors. I looked at Andrew and said, "What the f*#@ was that?" (Yes, sometimes I talk like a truck driver!) "I don't know, maybe it was the dog." Yeah right, the dog was in his dog run on the side of the house, the window in question was on the back of the house, impossible. We blew it off and went to bed. (I was still freaked out a bit!)

Two days later I was talking to my sister on the phone and I was telling her about "The incident". Andrew and Gabi were at a football game and little Drew was playing video games in the other room. I was mixing myself a margarita, telling her this story and then dammit, something was knocking at the damn window again! I freaked out and my sister told me to hang up just drink my drink.

Later that night, Andrew came home and we were laying in bed and I told him that I heard that knocking again, he just smiled and said, "Sure you did." A few minutes later, we heard it and he looked at me, "Do you hear that?" My only escape was to go to sleep. My niece came over that weekend and went to a Halloween party with her friends. The next morning she told me that she heard the knocking as she was walking upstairs to go to bed at 2am.

Several months later Gabi started complaining that the light in her room would go off and on. Then, one night in March, I was sick in bed and I heard Gabi get out of the shower and she opened the bathroom door to let all the steam out. A few moments later I heard her scream and she came running in my room and she was shaking and crying, she said< "Mommy there is a little girl, I wiped the mirror and she was standing right next to me and I looked over and there was no one there!" I have never seen her so terrified in my life. OK, now I am thinking, "Are you are f&#@ing kidding me?" I assured her that she just imagined it but she was not buying it and neither was I.

Gabi told me that one night when she was reading in bed a picture frame flew off the shelf and hit the post of her bed and the dog started barking and ran out of the room.

Later that year, I did cupcakes for a wedding. (It was beautiful if I can brag here for a moment) I came home late and Andrew had friends over with their kids. We were hanging out in the kitchen and I chatted with them as they were they were drinking. The kids came running down the stairs and Gabi, terrified again, "Someone was trying to open my bedroom door when we were all in there together, it was turning by itself Mommy!" Again I tried to assure her it was nothing. Then the cat started acting really weird.

I was standing on one side of the kitchen island and Andrew and the other couple were on the opposite side. We were laughing and talking, then I saw the plastic cup sitting on the island start to move. "Did you see that?" I asked as I looked at all three of them, and then it moved again. I don't think any of us really believed what we were seeing initially. It kept moving, we checked the counter for condensation or any moisture at the bottom of the cup and there was none! I realized that my digital camera was sitting there because I was using it at the wedding. I knew it took video so I began to record what was happening and I recorded a lot of the movement! Of course, when you watch the video, you will be barraged with expletives, hey, we were scared, OK!

Once the phone started dialing itself right in front Andrew and me. Gabi slept on floor of my room for that entire summer.

I went back to Arkansas without the kids and the night before I left I was standing downstairs making a mental checklist of all the things I packed. All of a sudden there was a rush of air that blew my hair at the top of my head. I thought the a/c went on but it was never on because it was April, not hot or cold.

When I was back in Arkansas with my sisters we took the ghost tour at the hotel. During the tour I started feeling sick and I had to leave the tour for a few moments to go to the bathroom, I felt like I was suffocating. Once the tour was over, I showed the tour guide, Carroll Heath, the picture of Gabi with the blue light on her head. He smiled and said, "Oh, you took one home with you." He was a medium. He was featured on the Ghosthunters show when they investigated the Crescent Hotel. Ghosthunters had a some good evidence in that episode.

Our house was quiet after that so I think it went back to Arkansas with me and stayed there.

We had the Pacific Paranormal investigators come to the house. They recorded voices of a man and a little girl. I was too freaked out to listen to it!

I'll save that story for next time!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I have never had anyone really close to me die, yet I came really close to that this week. My stepdad, who, with my mom, lives in Cathedral City, a somewhat lesser known city near Palm Springs, has been fighting for his life over the past week.

This began somewhat abruptly two weeks ago when doctors discovered he had a small hole in his small intestine. "This is very bad", the doctor stated in that very matter of fact tone that doctors like to use.

Rather than exhaust you with the myriad of medical mayhem that my stepdad has endured over the past two years I will simply say that one surgery led to another which led to one heart attack and then to a second in the span of three days. The surprising discovery being that after these two surgeries and the ones previous no doctor had discovered that their patient was in dire need of a heart bypass until now.

No stranger to hospitals myself, I returned to Cathedral City so my mother would not be alone with what I know can be an overwhelming ordeal for anyone. I was not shocked or horrified when she led me into the ICU to see her husband attached to every possible mode of medical machinery that one could imagine. The scene at his bedside unnerved her and as the Critical Care doctor emphasized how very sick he was, her words seemed to weaken my mom's resolve even more.

So we sat in that room and waited for more information from more doctors, for at this point there were several. We distracted ourselves with strained conversations and feigned interest in the ESPN coverage of the World Cup. And then he arrived, the vascular surgeon, and he spoke of complications and to be honest the only words that any of us could remember were, "He could die." If that wasn't enough to draw the breath from your lungs or stop your heart, he repeated those words again.

As is necessary in life, you must collect yourself and not abandon hope, because if I have learned nothing from life with Andrew and his two kidney transplants, we were being fed a "worst case" scenario. I won't or can't accept those, that's a roller coaster I won't ride again and I encouraged my mother not to get on that ride either.

But in the quiet moments while I stayed with her in the home that she shared with her husband, as I sat in his chair and slept on his side of the bed, the emptiness that replaced his presence became palpable. I let myself feel the reality of what might be lost to her. What that might do to her very reason for being. Who is she, what is her identity if she is not the caregiver, and not the caregiver of someone who is ill but someone who is. For a woman who has never in her life been without someone to care for whether it is her children or her spouse, what would be the impact of being alone.

For myself, my mind would not accept his departure because I had just seen him, not less than a week ago and he laughed at me as jumped and down in his hospital room as we watched the Lakers win game 7 together. He felt fine, he was laughing, he was OK, wasn't he? I thought he was.

Each day spent watching him in his medically induced slumber as the rotating nurses constantly updated us with the ever so slight improvements in his condition each day. And that was enough, to know that each day was better and closer to reaching the goal of the bypass surgery. It felt like a lofty goal as the idea of the surgery and his surviving it was another mountain to climb. And then the phone rang, at 6:30 am. "Please be here at 7:00, the doctor is taking him in to surgery."

We arrive and there are papers to be signed and the once dark quiet room in the ICU is brightly lit and the patient is surrounded by OR nurses, cardiac nurses, an anesthesiologist and two doctors. It's a flurry of movement and chatter and the room is filled with electricity.

And then he was gone. The waiting room was deserted except for the TV that was blaring with a skateboard competition. The volume button was disabled an the remote was nowhere to be found. So we endured as we were instructed to sit by the phone on the wall and wait for updates.

We settled in for the two and half hour wait. After only one hour and a half the phone rang and the OR nurse informed us that the surgery was over and that they were closing the patient. Shorty after we were joined by the surgeon who announced that everything was fine and the surgery went well. Certainly a cause for celebration, but we were too exhausted.

I stayed another day to be sure he had a good night and he did. So now it is just a matter of time before he gets strong again and is back at home driving my mother mad, and she loves it. She is still struggling with being alone since he will not be home for at least another week and without someone at home to take care of she is bored, without purpose. She waits at home for her husband to return so she again, can fulfill her purpose.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Plagued on the Playground

It's not a news flash that my family is of mixed race, which is after all, the entire premise of this blog. So you can imagine how the new immigration law in Arizona has sparked some heated conversations in our home. Most of it has been by me, yelling at the television, which I will concede is not very productive.

Thankfully, and I think it goes without saying, that all members of this household are opposed to it. But what I find most interesting is how my daughter has found herself in a position of defending her ideals and beliefs among her classmates. She is not among like minded spirits in regards to religion, race, politics or economic status, yet she possesses the amazing ability to maintain friendships and associations with these same individuals when bombarded with their opposing views.

She and her classmates have debated religious beliefs as they relate to politics, gay rights, racism, and human rights as well. She has been called names and in one instance been told that "Mexicans were not allowed at their lunch table". Needless to say I was infuriated when told of these events but she assured me that she could handle it on her own. To her credit, she has diffused the animosity aimed in her direction and in effect inspired some to at least respect her, even if they do not like her.

She and I spent this weekend alone together and she told me of the many discussions she has with her friends about religion and evolution. She questioned her friends' beliefs, thoughtfully, and really tried to understand the contradictions of their beliefs. She was not swayed by their proclamations but it was my impression that she may have caused them to question themselves. I await the backlash from these parents.

Now before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I have indoctrinated my child, well, of course she is influenced by our beliefs and our experiences but she is always encouraged to question any issue. She is not encouraged to question our authority but certainly our knowledge. I can only speak for myself but I can only hope that her beliefs, whatever they turn out to be, are her own and not just because I
said so.

To have faith, to believe in something is to understand it, to feel its truth, not just to regurgitate it over and over again. As long as she continues to seek understanding, knowledge and truth then my job will be done.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm back...I hope. Well, feeling healthy again. It has been a long road back from my last post because I wound up being ill for quite a while. Good ole pneumonia turned into a staph infection that required new meds. Well lucky me, I was allergic to the new meds which brought my misery to new heights. I'll spare the gory details because, well, it's a little self indulgent to be frank. I refuse to turn our relationship (writer-reader) into my own pity party.

Shortly after my recovery we took the kids on their very first vacation. My husband and I had been to the Caribbean a few times early in our marriage and we had always wanted to share it with the kids. We found a really affordable package for St. Thomas and we were on our way.

We arrived to our hotel late evening and they didn't have the room we requested. They upgraded us to an ocean view but they only gave us one bed! How were four people going to spend one week in one bed? After much insistence from my husband, we were finally given a roll away bed at 11:30 PM. We decided to grab some food while we waited and were quickly met with sticker shock by the $16 hamburgers. Oh my, what are we going to do for food for a week?

We managed by sharing meals, ordering kids meals for our 14-year-old and skipping meals. Determined to enjoy the one and only vacation we have been able to give our kids, we focused on the positive.

The tight quarters brought us a little closer and we decided that every night we would name our favorite person of the day. These people ranged from airport employees, fun waitresses, a really nice couple from Michigan and a very animated and determined jeweler in one of the tourist shops.

I should not forget to mention the very nice woman from Connecticut and her daughter that we met in the bar. As she stood up to leave, she said, "It was very nice to meet you, my name is Muffy!" I almost spit out my drink as I stumbled to reply. Upon her exit from the bar, I looked at my husband and laughed, "Did we just meet Muffy from Connecticut?"

The beaches were breathtaking. Unfortunately, some fellow hotel guests brought their city attitudes with them. There was lots of beach chair hoarding which soured the experience a bit. Many guests would come down to the beach at dawn, throw their beach towels down on several chairs and go back to bed. Therefore, there wound up being no chairs available for the people that were actually on the beach when the sun rose.

One morning my daughter and I sat on the beach to watch the sunrise. A disheveled, bleary-eyed woman came down to the beach, gathered up 20 beach chairs and scattered her beach toys, towels and magazines all over them and promptly went back to bed. We were appalled, I mean, really, 20 chairs!

In the spirit of all that is fair, my daughter and I scattered her chairs around the beach, collected her belongings on one chair and pulled that one to the back of the beach. I felt like a mischievous child as we giggled and then fled the beach.

There was one gentlemen who had 11 chairs in his possession. He saw that I had only one and that I was earnestly seeking more. He asked me how many I needed and I said that one more should suffice. He turned to his wife and asked her if they should give up one of theirs to us. She shook her head and blurted out a stern, "NO!" I am pretty sure they were from New Jersey.

All in all our vacation was a success. We spent a good deal of our time in the water, playing with the fish and exploring our hearts out. We all enjoyed good food, good drinks and good times. Of course, we had some challenges but how unhappy can one be while visiting the beautiful island of St. Thomas?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Got sidetracked....again.

I was doing pretty well there in November with the whole working out regimen, really getting back into it. That's when all the drama began and I got side tracked. We had to sell, move, settle and create a new plan for ourselves (which we are still working on). Oh, but I can get my head in the right place, really get focused if I start working out again. It always puts me in the right frame of mind. Oh, but where oh where are those damn workout shoe? "Honey, where are my workout shoes that were in the garage at the old house?" "I thought all those shoes were trash, so that's where they wound up!"

Please don't ask me to make sense of this man's logic because that is a futile task, after all, none of the soccer shoes that belong to him and his daughter had to make that perilous journey in those Waste Management containers, no, they made it safely to the new garage.

But, I digress, not a big deal, just go buy new ones, right? Right!

So after many days of watching it rain and rain and rain some more, I headed out to rid myself of the last excuse I could muster for being a lazy ass. I found the right shoes and was positive that I picked the right size, so why bother trying them on?

The next morning I put them on planning to run with my dog, but as soon as the last bow was tied, it was obvious that they were too big. Damnit, why do I always do stuff like this?

No worries, go out and get the right size. It was an easy task and I even found the right insole inserts that I use in all my athletic shoes.

The very next day, I feel a little tired but there is much shopping to do for it is Super Bowl weekend! Get the chips, dip, beer, snacks and all the fixings for that new pork pozole recipe I want to try. The whole family was in it together on this junk food excursion and as we walked up and down each aisle, I could no longer pretend my body aches and overall fatigue were an anomaly, I was getting sick! Really, I mean really? As I lay there in bed, looking across the room at the new Avias, looking at me with disdain, I felt defeated and they knew it! Oh God, I'm hallucinating, I must have a fever!

It only took a few days for me to realize that this was not a little bug so just to be sure I went to Urgent Care.

"Pneumonia!" said the doc. "And not to scare you or anything but Jim Henson, Bernie Mac and Brittany Murphy just died form it so be careful!" " Great", thanks doc! So he loaded me up on meds. It was all I could do just to walk downstairs and get a drink without feeling I had just ran a mile. The next day the weakness in my arms was so that I could not even play with my iTouch, which was really bothersome since I decided to obsess about dying like all those fallen celebrities. I needed to look up the facts on the celebrity deaths so I knew what was happening when my body decided to succumb to this sneaky little bastard that we call pneumonia. If a celebrity could die from pneumonia then I most assuredly, would die as well!

Never mind the fact that, there was more to their stories than was widely known but facts don't help when you are trying to obsess, they just get int he way and make you sane. Which is exactly what the second doctor told me on my follow up appointment. You'll be fine, just take your meds and rest and...come back in a week ...if you're not dead already! OK, He didn't really say that....but I know he wanted to...

I feel uneasy, as those shoes keep staring at me, just like that G&%#mn Geico stack of cash with the googly eyes!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Moving sucks! Although, it is exciting too, bittersweet would be more accurate, in our case anyway. We did move on December 30th, which made for lots of chaos. Christmas this year was the abridged version, as was New Years. It rained on moving day. Apropos of something I guess. Maybe it was symbolic of a clean start, washing away the troubles of the past...ha, or maybe it was just rain!

We had so much stuff to move after ten years of living in the same place and watching our kids grow out of diapers, tricycles, cribs, pink walls in the bedroom, Dora and High School Musical. Now they have grown into cell phones, iPods, Wii, "Secret Life of the American Teenager", makeup, and little girls texting my son at 7 am. The house we are currently renting is much smaller than the old house so there was and still is, a lot to purge. Its funny that the more house you have the greater the need to fill it. We are streamlining our lives in this process and realizing that owning a house is not the key to our happiness.

We held onto that "American Dream" so tight that it came close to being our demise. Don't get me wrong, we contemplated selling many times over the past few years, ultimately believing that is was the wrong thing to do. We bought into the fantasy. Owning that house never felt like a dream, it felt more like a drain and I didn't realize it until we were out. It felt as the entire weight of that place was lifted off of our backs. When things got bad, a friend of mine said to me, " You have to think of this as a business decision and take the emotion out of it." In that moment, I realized she was right. She was an objective observer and she helped me see that the hope for the family's future did not lie in those four walls but in the strength that had held us all together over all the years of struggle. I called the real estate agent 5 minutes later. I am forever grateful to her for that little kick in the ass.

I was sad, we were all sad but knew that we had to move on. The kids were troopers. They were initially brokenhearted but they quickly recovered when they felt the strain lift. They saw how life could be when we all weren't cowering every time the phone rang or someone knocked on the door.

It felt good to write those checks to those family members who helped when they were able. To pay off so many things that I could never envision doing before.

It's time to reevaluate what exactly the next step will be. Hopefully this give us a chance to be clear headed and make choices. Choices that come from the pursuit of happiness and not from desperation.