March Madness--glad it's over

And no, I don't mean the crappy basketball games that have been playing ad nauseum. I mean this entire, crazy, fruity, surreal month. I haven't been blogging because:

1.) I have been totally and completely stretched and stressed by my lovely children.
2.) Said children's school has become a pain in my butt and I am soooo glad that we only have about a month left.
3.) When you have had six children, it does strange things to your body and back and after a long day of chasing around bad-ass kids, you develop sciatica.
4.) I killed myself for a week making crafts for a Spring Boutique and I only sold four. Grrrr.
5.) Found out a family friend was arrested on a child molestation charge.
6.)The one thing I never thought would happen in my lifetime...happened. My stepson is now living with us.
7.) Which brings me to this point, I was totally unprepared to have a teenager live in my home on a regular basis...the constant text messaging, the I need new clothes, the I want to walk home from school, the I don't have any homework when his backpack is filled with it, the constant Ipod listening, the can I get on myspace?, the long showers. Cough cough. And who the hell remembers how to do pre-algebra? Not me, obviously.
8.) All we had to do to get Mikey over here was promise to continue to pay that lovely and congenial mother of his her child support every month. Who knew it could be that easy? We should have done this years ago.
9.) We are now in month two of Michael working for himself. Yes, he left his job of ten years at the end of January, with only his hands and his fortitude. We have made it each month, by the skin of our teeth. He is no longer a slave at the mill...but he is now a slave to himself, working twelve hours a day, with no days off. So that sorta sucks. We are hoping and praying life will somehow go back to normal where he can get a day off like a normal human being. So if anyone needs any signage, airbrushing, murals or banners, hit me up. And last but not least...
10.) When the man puts in twelve hours a day, usually away from home, what does that mean for me? You guessed it. And I'm exhausted.

So in a nutshell, that is what has been going on. Pray for me. Seriously. God wasn't kidding when He said, "To whom much is given, much is required." He ain't playing!


"Riding with Mary"

As you all know, I love any and all kinds of art about the Virgin Mary. Check out this short video about the artist Chris Haston and his series, "Riding with Mary". It's awesome! I'd love to have one of these pieces grace my home. Funny thing, some people have made comments to me about La Virgen, and how it would be sort of like idolatry to display a statue of her. Personally, I think that is ridiculous. I might not be Catholic, but I've said this before, I highly esteem Mary as the mother of Jesus. But I don't worship her.

Statues of La Virgen have always been comforting to me. Maybe it is my Catholic background, my time in catecism, the times my mom and my aunts dropped us off at Mass and I sat there totally oblivious to what the priest was saying, but enjoying the incense and the lighting and the art on the walls immensely. When I was little and I visited my grandparents in East L.A., my great grandmother Amalia used sit in her stuffy little room watching her novelas, surrounded by her candles, her santos, her rosary beads, her giant picture of Jesus and His sacred heart. She also had these bottles with various herbs floating in it which she would rub on her skin. My favorite was the bottle of green alcohol that smelled like mint because that one had marijuana steeping in it. My Nana also used to have this little shrine in her backyard with the Virgin Mary, where my brother and I used to play all the time. I guess it is the combination of these experiences that gives me a warm feeling whenever I see a little figurine of La Virgen. I'm going to keep my eye out for a statue just like the one in this movie. Thank goodness my man has a background in faux-finishing so he can hook her up for me, and give it a nice patina.

What I loved most about the film was the comment that artist made about people that suggested he photograph his statue in questionable backgrounds, to which he politely refused. He respected her enough to say no. And I think that is really cool.


Mexican parties RULE!

I got this in a email and dude, it had me cracking up. Many, many truths here. Is it sad that none of these things seem unusual or strange but oddly familiar? No wonder white people think we are weird!

Top 15 ways to tell it's a MEXICAN birthday party:

1. Some of the guests didn't bring a gift - but brought extra uninvited kids.
I'm guilty of this, of course, but way before I had more kids than could fit in my van!

2. The party is separated into women cooking, men drinking, and kids playing.
Growing up, I just thought this was the way it is. Should people cross the strict cultural boundaries, problems were bound to jump off!

3. The party is at Chuck E. Cheese but they brought their own food, cake and a PiƱata.
One word. Ghetto.

4. It's a child's party, but there are more grown ups than children.
And there are also two ice chests...one filled with juice pouches and the other with beer.

5. It's Mijo's 1st birthday and the party food is carne asada, arroz, frijoles and 10 cases of beer.
Come on, that is the brown man's equivalent to hamburgers and hotdogs! Don't forget the salsa and chips.

6. For entertainment, instead of playing pin the tail on the donkey, there is usually a televised baseball or futbol game, or a live fight.
And by live fight we mean your drunk belligerent tio is dragging your tia by the hair down the driveway.

7. The party was supposed to be over at 5pm, but its 7:30pm and the party is just starting.
Come on, you can't get a group of Mexicans to get up and leave by 5pm! One of my favorite sayings is, "You ain't gotta go home but you gotta get the hell outta here!"

8. The host calls someone who's on their way and tells them to stop and get some tortillas and ice.
I am always amazed to see a hostess clean everything, buy everything, prepare everything, cook everything AND serve everything. And then look at you like you farted when you ask if you can help her do something. Dude, that is what tia's are for--the serving line!

9. You hear someone go up to the birthday child and say, "Mira, que lindo. I'm going to have to get you something next week when I get paid."
Oh, I've heard that line many, many a time. Now my kids hear it from their paternal grandmother who brings them an assortment of toys and t-shirts from Kmart, where she works, all with tags still on. About two months later. That were all on clearance.

10. The party is Saturday, and you get a call from the hostess Friday saying, "I'm giving Mijo a birthday party tomorrow at 3pm."
Where I come from, that's called a "chema" party. They are the best kind.

11. Some guests bring gifts that are still in the Wal-Mart bag.
Or one of those black plastic bags from the indoor swapmeet.

12. The cake didn't come from the store; it came from the mother of the comadre of your best friend's sister who makes really good cakes.
And it was tasty and nutritious, too.

13. You are told you have to save your plate and fork you ate your food with, so you can eat your cake.
Hey, we are doing our part to conserve our resources! Protect mother earth! Don't hate.

14. Guests automatically wrap up a plate of food and cake to take home.
This is the one thing that really bugs me. I've had a family member straight up prepare her man a lunch for the following Monday. She fried up my tortillas and grated my cheese and put it in a bag and everything. Seriously!

15. It's Mijo's birthday, but since his cousin Maria is there and her birthday is in a few days, it becomes Mijo's and Maria's party.
It's all love, baby!


Marriage is for suckers, anyway!

I mean, really, why bother?

It's just a piece of paper.

Were we truly meant for monogamy, anyhow?

How can one person be enough?

Yes, I'm free!

I'm joking, of course. These are just little anecdotes I've been telling myself ever since Michael went to the Recorder's office in the next county (where we filed) to request a marriage certificate. Yes, I know this is something we should have taken care of a long time ago. But life and love and babies happen...and we just never got around to it. Well we come to find out, there is no record of our marriage, which happened one beautiful, warm summer evening almost ten years ago.

How did this happen, you ask? Well, I distinctly recall siging our forms before we headed out on our honeymoon. But a couple weeks later the license was kicked back to me because the pastor who married us made an error on the application. They required him to correct it and send it back in himself. It really worried me at the time. Would he remember? Would he stick it in his "to do" pile and then forget all about it? You have to understand, this is the same pastor who fleeced his congregation for thousands upon thousands of dollars. The same pastor who asked members of the church to refinance their homes. In the end he took off with his family and $50,000 of a church member's money and has been in hiding ever since. We often joked about Pastor T forgetting about marriage license and how we probably weren't even married all this time.

Turns out we aren't.

Seriously, though, all it means is we aren't married in the legal sense. But physically, mentally, spiritually and in my heart of hearts, I am married. I stood before my friends, my family and my most beloved people and married this tall, lanky, sweet-faced man who cried throughout our entire ceremony. We lit those candles and spoke those vows to one another. Together we have seven beautiful children. We are tied to one another in the loveliest sense of the word.

A little piece of paper can't take that away.


"These two Mexican chicks walk into a bar..."

Well, not really a bar, a comedy club. The Improv in Ontario, the bro-hoe capital of the world. Raquel, La Mas Cabrona, invited me to hang out with her on Refried Wednesday to peep all the Latino comedians. We had a blast.
It was very strange for me to get all hoochified and leave my house on a weeknight, without the chil'rens and the Man. And to clarify, for me, hoochified means I put on eyeliner, a shirt without a bleach stain, a black bra and good shoes--shoes other than my leopard-print slippers or my chanklas. I thought I was all cute wearing these little open-toed shoes with a half-inch heel. Shoes that tore the freakin' skin off my little toe. And gave me a blister. Don't laugh, wearing a half-inch heel is very dressy to me. Think of all that little half-inch is having to haul around, I mean, it has to put in work...I don't blame it for retaliating and taking some of my little toe skin. So much for them being good shoes.

Click click click was the sound I made walking on my little half-inch shoes over to the door of the club. I instantly remember the feeling of nervousness, inadequacy, self-consciousness I used to feel whenever I went to a bar or a club with my girlfriends. In those days, I was young, still searching for a sense of self, and I had no idea what a secure relationship with the opposite sex even looked like. I was usually trying to look cute and capture the attention of someone...and I was always mindful that I had twenty bucks in my pocket and that it was get in free before nine and dollar drink night. How many dollars would it take to get an adequate buzz? I used to feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb...standing there laughing and dancing and giggling around the bar just didn't come easy to me. So I would drink alot of alcohol to numb me from my nervousness. When you are drunk, sweaty and sloppy, you pretty much forget you are nervous and you become the life of the party. Not that this was my intention for my night out with Raquel. It just felt unusual to be out without my man. It was then when I realized how much of a security blanket he is. No matter where we go, what we do, who is there...I always feel comfortable and secure because my husband is there with me. But it was different this time around. I was able to walk in there and just have a good time with a friend. I didn't have to worry about all that other stuff.

You know, these comedy clubs make a killing charging drunken fools for more alcohol. $15 for a cocktail--I tell no lies! I ordered spinach dip and a cranberry juice. I told myself, there is no way I am going to eat this entire plate of dip--its huge! But dammit, I did. I was scraping that plate with the tortilla chips and everything. And when the bill came and I saw I was charged $3.50 for a glass of ice cubes and three tablespoons of cranberry juice, I almost fainted. I could have bought a whole freakin' gallon of Ocean Spray for that price, yo! But I digress.

One of the highlights of the night was the people-watching. I am so nosy. Just give me a comfy seat, some snacks and I am content to sit there and study people. The guys there with all their homies, reeking of cologne, looking for some girls to hook up with. Packs of females all dressed up in heels and cleavage, giggling like idiots. Old veteranos dressed up with starched slacks and their hynas with too much make-up and big hair, ready for a night on the town. And then there were the people on dates...they were the most entertaining of all. And there I was, happily munching on my spinach dip like it was nobody's business. Raquel ordered some calamari before she started badgering the waiter. Um, excuse me, I don't like this cocktail sauce...do you have something else...what about some marinara sauce, do you have marinara sauce...do you have any hot sauce...what about Tabasco sauce...girl, just eat the calamari--this ain't Red Lobster.

The comics were hilarious. Vulgar. Nasty. Stupid. But hilarious. Nothin' like laughing at your own people and their weirdness to make the night entertaining. Raquel and I were cackling like a bunch of old ladies. There was a table behind us filled with drunken, belligerent people. They talked and laughed and carried on like they were at home or something. Raquel kept turning around and giving them dirty looks. I was afraid I was going to have to throw down or throw a chankla at the very least. Oooooh man. I kept envisioning one of these old sloppy-drunk chicks grabbing Raquel by her hair and then me having to get in it, with my freakin' toe skin-eating shoes with the half-inch heel. And then Michael never extending me a night pass again. Damn. But Raquel, bless her heart, was on her very best behavior.

Afterwards we went to Starbucks for some coffee. She asked me if I was still able to sleep after having caffeine so late at night. Oh sure, I always do, I assured her. Of course, I could not go to sleep that night. I ended up blogging until 4 am. Seriously. That's what I get for thinking I'm a badass. Heh.

So thanks, Raquel. It takes alot to get me out of my little cocoon that is my home. Out of my pajama bottoms. Away from my family. But I enjoyed it. We have to do it again real soon. Maybe after the skin grows back on my little toe.


Ever since I can remember, my mom has called me gorda. If not gorda, then gordita. I know it is a term of endearment but being called a fatty, or even a little fatty, can really mess with your self-esteem and how you see yourself. My daughter Xixi is a little chunker. No, she isn't one of those little roly-poly babies that you see on Maury, but she definitely has a solid and sturdy build, unlike her big sister. She has thighs. She has the potential for a ghetto booty. She has a belly that is as swollen as those little ethiopian children you see on late night TV. And homegirl eats. She has a huge appetite. People always ask me if she's hungry, or when was the last time that she ate. They just don't realize she just loves food and will eat at any opportunity. I've gotten in the habit of calling Xixi gorda. I've always called her my chunky monkey. But lately, familiarity has won over. Come on, Gorda, let's go take a bath. Or Gorda! Where are you? My little Gorda, you are so beautiful! I just realized what I'm doing. I've got to stop! I don't want her to be in her mid-thirties and still answering to Gorda like I do.


Miss Maya's tea party

I waited eight long years for a daughter. I had her name picked out, what kinds of books I would read to her, the artists I would introduce her to, the values and beliefs I would instill in her. I just knew she would have a chunky build like her mother and of course she would be blessed with curly hair. Sigh. But I wasn't fully prepared for the fact that she would be born into this world with her own precious little personality...her own ways...her own interests and her own femininity.

I was always a tomboy. Moms says I absolutely hated dresses and would cry to take them off. Then I would put on my overalls and tennis shoes and run outside to make mud pies with my brother. I played softball. I always wore my Vans. My mom always had my long hair braided. Girly things really didn't interest me. I figured my daughter would be the same way I was.

I was sooo wrong.

Miss Maya is definitely a little woman. She speaks what's on her mind. She loves pink, frilly, pretty things. She loves tea sets and baby dolls. She loves when I buy her clothes. The first thing she does when she puts on something new is walk over to her mirror...Ooooh, mama, I look pretty. She has her collection of purses, sunglasses and flip flops. When I tell her she needs to clean up her room, she tells me, "Duuuuuh." Then when I look at her like, oh no she did not just say duuuh to me, she smiles and says very sweetly, "Oh. I'm just kidding, mama. Sorry!" She was also the only person in our house to compliment the new Shabby Chic duvet I got for my birthday. Ooooh mama, your bed looks beautiful, she told me. And she knows where to go when she needs something. She just realized that she doesn't own a bike like her brothers. And of course she can't ride the old blue one that is outside. So she told me, "Mama, call Grandma-Mama and tell her I don't have a pink bike. I need a bike, mama!"

One of the things I always wanted to do for my daughter was have a tea party for her. We talked and talked about that tea party...how we would set it up, how I would have fresh flowers on the table, three-tiered cake stands for the finger sandwiches and quiche, how the little girls would drink herbal tea from actual tea cups, how she would invite her cousins and friends from church. And no boys!

So when Maya turned three a couple of weeks ago, we finally had her beloved tea party. It was really fun to make everything all foo-foo and girly. I think the repressed little girl came out in me because I had so much fun making everything pretty and dainty for my girly-girl--something I wasn't accustomed to since I was your typical bull in the china shop.

All the girls looked beautiful, they all behaved wonderfully as if on their best behavior because they just knew they were at a ladies tea party. I strived to make everything at their level, from the little tables and chairs (thanks Mrs. Janie) to the food table set up, where they were free to munch on fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, veggies and an assortment of little cookies.

Truth be told, I believe Maya was bewildered by all the activity, all the focus on her and all the little girls in her house. I mean, she is used to being the queen bee (along with her Sissy). It was strange to hear all the little girl voices and giggles playing in Maya's room. To be in the house with all females was interesting! Girls are dramatic at any age, I've discovered.

It was alot of fun. I'm so glad Maya got to experience her first tea party and celebrate it with her favorite people. I can't wait until the next one!


Lunar Eclipse

There is something beautiful about a full moon. I love to be outside at night, just basking in the glow of the moon in it's fullness. Its very haunting and romantic and for some strange reason, I've always been drawn to it. I've had several of my babies either on or right near a full moon. I used to sit out on a lounge chair in my backyard, just me and my full belly, and I remember feeling such a sweet sense of peace in the quiet moonlight. Michael would search the entire house for me, only to find me in the backyard.

Today was the first total eclipse in three years. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow. The boys were studying the solar system and we knew that today was the day. At 5:49 pm was the moonrise. Then the moon would leave the penumbra, the partial shadow cast by the earth, at 6:25 pm. It was fully visible to those in Europe and Africa. The Americas were going to get a partial view.

Normally we just have to walk out in our backyard and see the moon. Not tonight. We went out and couldn't find it. I worried that it was too foggy and overcast and we might miss it. Then we out the the driveway...nope, couldn't see it. Then we went out by the curb...nothin'. Then on to the street... and that's when Noah yelled out, "There it is, Mom!! I see it!" But because the trees that line our street are so tall, we could only make out a little section. We ended up having to walk out to the main street near our house, passing seven or eight houses. In the excitement, we left the front door open, chicken breasts cooking on the stove (luckily on low!), Xixi without shoes so I had to lug her fatness around, no one with sweaters and I was without shoes! Thank goodness I at least had some socks on. As the cars zoomed by, me and six little people stood there in the dark, looking at the huge orange moon. I tried to discern how it was different from the full moons I've seen in the past, but this one was huge like a pumpkin with a crazy orange-brown hue and a halo around it. Kinda freaky. Normally the moon is a grayish white. This moon had a totally different vibe than my peaceful full moons. It was kind of unsettling. It like looked like a piece of cheese for real! It was so big and low it felt like we could reach out and touch it.

Apparently the other side of the world had a spectacular view. I'm sure it was. The view was pretty cool over here, even if it was just a taste of how awesome the sight was. When we ran home we Googled images, looked at the latest news, read about people on other continents that braved the cold temps to look at it. Then Noah drew it the way he saw it (an orange/yellow ball...ahem.) so he could take it to his Science class at the co-op.

Now that is homeschooling at it finest.


R.I.P Lolli & Pop

Well, my two lovebirds haven't died technically. But they have flown the coop. On Christmas Michael bought me two little lovebirds who the children christened Lolli and Pop. They were cute. They brought back memories of the birds that my Nana used to have growing up. But after living with them a few days I quickly remembered why my Nana's birds got on my last good nerve and why she was always shushing them and covering their cage with a blanket because they were "bad birds".

They are hella noisy.

Whenever the kids started crying, or the music was on too loud, or there was too much yelling, those birds started going buckwild, chirping and screeching. Which, when you are in a house with six kids aged 9 and under...is all the time. Ugh.

But since my honey was the one who bought it for me (a gift of birds to a non-animal lover, go figure), and the two lovebirds represented us in some fashion...I tolerated their noise, their bird seed they would scatter like two epileptics and their little black bird poo that would end up on whatever furniture the cage would be set upon.

I was up on a chair putting up new curtains my mom just bought me and I decided to move them outside, where they could get some fresh air. Birds need fresh air, right? We've hung their little cage outside before, so its not like this was something unusual. But I must not have secured the chain properly. Solomon ran outside, slammed the door and pow, the cage slammed onto the ground and the top of the cage came flying off. Lolli took off instantly. After she figured she could actually fly and she almost crashed into our back fence, she was gone. Sigh. I immediately tried to contain Pop, who was still sitting like a good bird. But he wiggled away and flew off. But all those months of sitting on that little branch and eating seed like a fatty all day prevented him from getting off the ground. He flew low to the ground in our backyard until he just landed on branch of a dried bush. Then I had to get the boys to hold onto Chellie, who was ready for a little bird taco. I tried to cover Pop with a little blanket so I could catch him but he managed to get away from me, that crafty little bird. Then he got some air, narrowly missed a power line and flew away. Sigh. For a second I pondered whether or not birds were like cats and dogs, coming back to their owners when they are hungry. I highly doubt that.

I can hear it now. Just another animal tragedy that my family can roast me about. I have successfully managed to kill a puppy in a crate (accidents happen), I have owned a German Shepherd that enjoyed self-mutilation (she chewed about two inches of her tail off) and now, my birds have busted out of their cage and flew far, far away. At least now you know that 1.) Never give me an animal as a gift and 2.) Never ask me to pet sit.
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