Feels good to be alive

Today is the first day that I have felt somewheat human in nearly two weeks. I realized that the entire family being sick at the same time was a blessing in disguise. At least we were all able to lay down together and recuperate. For about five days, the chil'rens surpassed me in health and were back to their normal, loud, hungry selves. Whilst I was still in bed, dying and wishing that my children had on/off buttons--because I would surely choose to turn them off--I realized it was really hard to maintain my home and family while still being sick. But care for them and feed them and keep up with laundry while Michael was at work all day, I must. So this left me in the worst mood imaginable. Like all day. It was like Mommie Dearest around here, minus the ajax all over the floor and the belts to tie down the chil'rens to their beds. Which sounded like a wonderfully practical idea, by the way.

It was pretty bad. I do believe I survived on herbal tea. That is the only thing that seemed tasty to me since I had absolutely no sense of taste or smell at all. Chamomile, echinachea, cinnamon, blueberry green tea, raspberry green tea, mint tea, gypsy cold care and Super Dieter's tea. Oh yes, I can't forget that one. Noah kept making me this tea and it tasted kinda yucky. I'm like, "Noah, what kind of tea do you keep making?" He says, "Its the Super Dieter's tea because you need to lose some weight. Well, you do!" What a horrible child. I am on my death bed and he is trying to put me on a diet. I'm just thankful that I'm feeling better today. I can taste food again. And for a fat girl, that is like a gift from heaven.

Today, the sun is shining and it's warm outside. I feel like I've missed out on the world! If you feel yourself getting sick, take action immediately. Take a bunch of Vitamin C and Echinachea and rest. This was the worst case of the flu I've had in five years.


Growing up, I had the nasty habit of biting my nails. Then I stopped for many, many years so I could paint them various shades of black and dark burdundy while in college. Sometime during the years of being married and popping out babies left and right, I picked up the habit once again. Truth be told, long nails just aren't very practical for a mother. I have, more often than I care to admit, found little remnants of my daughter's stinky diaper, last night's dinner and just plain funk under the nails. Gross. So I spend alot of time cleaning them. I mean, they look nice and all but come on, are they worth it? How do people with long nails clean their house? How do you wash yourself in the shower? I have already ahem, scraped myself a few times and it hurt like a mofo. So again, I ask, are they worth it? I didn't think it was that big of a habit it was until I realized how often I resorted to chewing on my nails while driving in the car, or watching tv, or thinking. I'll admit, it's a gross habit. I hate to see people sitting there chomping down their nails, or their cuticles, for that matter.

So spill it. Anybody else with a gross habit?


Happy Birthday to me

I have been thinking about this whole aging process. Turning 36 years old today, there is not much else to ponder. I have to say, these past few birthdays have been rough, in terms of my own expectations for my life, the physicality of aging and how I am viewed versus how I feel on the inside. Bottom line, I don't feel like a 36 year-old. I've always heard old people say this but I never believed them. Some days I still feel like that awkward little girl with chubby thighs that was always being scolded for not keeping her mouth quiet. To think I am married and have all the responsibilities that a wife and mother entails is mind-boggling.

Most days, I am confident that I am doing what God created me for. Most days. But what I struggle with is looking at the big picture, and not being tripped up over the mundane of everyday life.

I have always believed in the cycles of life. I feel like a shift in cycles is happening now but I don't know how I feel about that. I guess the key is figuring out what cycle you are in, enjoying it to the fullest and then move on and figure out how to best flourish in the next one.

There is an artist named Crisol Guerra who did a series of paintings in 2003, called "Loteria De La Mujer". This have been a favorite of mine for a few years, just because of the simplicity of the images and how powerful they are. She beautifully illustrates the cycles of womanhood. I can look at them and think back to when I was in that cycle and all the wonderful emotions that come along with it. Then there are those cycles that are still to come. It's scary but so were some of the other cycles like motherhood and adolescence. But I made it through! I know I can make it through these, too.


birds nests rule

This cute, long-hair style isn't looking so cute after three or four days of laying down in bed, rolling your head around the pillow like a mental patient, is it? Ew. Well, if you think they looked bad, you can only imagine what I looked like. Whew...scary. I won't dare put up a picture of that unholy sight. Let's leave something to our photo-shopped imagination. Thank you.

Happy Birthday to the Midge

Today is my girl's 4th birthday. Wow. Where has the time gone? Just yesterday I was on cloud nine to have given birth to my first daughter, and on the day before my own birthday. That was the best present I could have ever received.

She was so happy to wake up to Disney waffles and strawberries. I wish we could have done something more exciting for her, but really, she was very happy with the new shoes from Uncle Josh, the new tea set her grandma bought her, and the cake and ice cream that Papa brought over for us. Even though we were hacking all over the place, we still tried to make it special for her.

Happy Birthday, my love!

"Good evening, Mr. Anderson."

As we are all laying in bed, still trying to kick this stupid illness, my only consolation for having to cancel my party tonight is I get to lay in bed with my husband and watch his favorite movie, The Matrix, for the hundredth time. I don't mind that I've seen it more times than I care to admit. The first one will always be my favorite. Now, after all this time, I am able to wrap my brain around what the movie means. A burned sky, AI, humanity being harvested in fields, children of Zion....aggghh. But now, I'm cool. Everytime I watch it, I peel another layer of understanding just like an onion. Anytime someone has a deja-vu, we say it must be a glitch in the matrix. But really, the movie has grown on me. And if all else fails, I fall asleep until the end of the movie, when Neo hangs up the pay phone and and I can blast RATM's "Wake Up".



It just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? Sigh. I don't know why I didn't think of the possibility of rain...when it has rained on my birthday practically every year for almost 36 years. Geeeeez. This is fabulous.



After the first of the year I got this idea in my head that I should throw myself a birthday party. Growing old does crazy things to your mind. 36 is an important year. I no longer consider myself on the cute, young scale of a thirty year-old...I'm now pushing 40. I know, four more years of pushing but still. Damn.

So what better way to take the sting out of growing older than to have a party?

Sure, tradition calls for a loved one to throw the party for you but come on...if you want a party, is there a law that says you can't throw it for yourself? But I was still unsure. What if it cost alot of money? What if I end up having to do all the work myself? What if no one came? What if too many people came--how would I be able to feed them all and fit them in my house? And the last and final question. How on earth would we be able to do something with my backyard, which my immediate family and friends have nicknamed, "Hurricane Katrina"--debris and trash and scroungy animals included. Yeh, it's not the greenest, most fabulously landscaped place to have a party. One could sprain an ankle in the holes that my stupid dog furiously digs up. So this conundrum made me falter on the whole party idea.

But my dear husband assured me we could get it done. And my dear friends and family members insisted that they would help. And my dear homie Ricardo agreed to DJ for me. Everything should fall into place, right? How hard could it be? Make some food. Buy some drinks. Get a few tables. Buy a cake. Dance to some music. Sounds like fun.

So I fearlessly made up an evite and sent it out with the sweet request of no chil'rens. That was a tough one. But after realizing that my friends sure do like to procreate and there would be over 48 children in attendance (mine not included), it seemed to make sense to request that it be an "adults only" crowd. Personally, I am so not put off when I get invitations like this. I am more than happy to part with the chil'rens for a few hours. This would make the night even more manageable, since I wouldn't have to worry about a bunch of kids unattended, eating all the food and stopping up the toilet. But more than that, I just wanted to have fun with my friends and family without the mommy and daddy worries.

Well, we are now in the home stretch for this whole party idea. It's coming up this weekend and I still have about a hundred and one things to do. And then I got sick. And then the kids got sick. But then the stress of it all made me suck it up and keep doing all the things I had to do...and then I got a relapse. I spent the better part of today hacking my lungs out, alternately shivering and sweating and feeling like a gang of midgets were kicking my head. No, this can't be happening! I have so much to do! I've been trying so very hard not to get all freaked out and stressed by all the details (because I am so not a detail-oriented person--six chil'rens will do that to a person) that have to happen to make this party civilized and not completely ghetto fabulous.

Does it matter that I won't have time to wash all my curtains? Or wash my sofa cushions? Or scrub my cabinets? Dust all my furniture? Organize the kids toys? Catalog all their books? I mean, I am killing myself to give the impression that no children live here and it is always immaculate. And that just ain't true. So as I laid on my sofa while my husband and his family worked on my yard, I pondered these simple facts.

As long as my loved ones are here and we are having fun, that is what matters. As long as I get to spend time with the people I cherish most, that is what matters. As long as everyone gets something warm and tasty to eat, that is what matters. As long as it's a peaceful event, that is what matters. As long as I get alot of gift cards, that is what matters.


So despite all the craziness that is my life, I am excited about Saturday. I can't wait to get all my frustrations out on the dance floor. I can't wait to have some fun.

Can you hear the angels singing?

These are like crack to me. So I call them my crack pads. I can go through four in one cleaning session. I have finally realized their full potential. Before, I only used them to clean the fridge. But who knew they can scrub walls and make them look like they were just painted? I have used everything to make my walls look clean in the past and nothing has gotten all the scuff and paint and crayons and markers and juice drips and boogers off like the Magic Eraser. The Target brand works just as well, I've discovered.

Once I get started with my crack pad, there is no stopping me.


Valentine's Day

Nothing says love like some chocolate fondue. Even though we were feeling kinda crappy, I still wanted to make Valentine's Day special for everyone. I hope you had a good time with the ones you love like I did.


As Our Sick World Turns...All My Sick Children...The Young and The Sickly

I have been on my deathbed, thus the reason for my extended four day absence. Well, not really my deathbed since truth be told, I've been sicker...but I've felt sufficiently crappy enough to hock a pile of loogies, massage my own head with theraputic herbs, stay in my pj's all day (well, nothing new there), not shower for a couple of days, cough until I need to wear a Depends, let the house go to the shizz, and then hock more loogies.


When I'm sick it's a very sad scene. Imagine children not having sufficient motivation to brush their teeth, wash their butts, and eat food other than in a bowl with milk. Wearing pj's until it's time to go to bed the next night. Surviving on apples, cereal and string cheese. The TV smokin' cuz it hasn't been turned off in hours. And laundry, piling, piling and piling up. When it is freezing outside and all my kids are walking around barefoot because I haven't washed the three thousand and twenty eight pairs of socks...it's a sad sight. And don't get me started on the screaming, the running up and down the halls, the yelling, the wrestling, the crying. It is freakin' chaos because I've been too weak to yell, which is my standard form of control when the house gets buckwild. Yell over the yelling--yes, I see the irony. So there I am, curled up in the fetal position on my bed like a pathetic heap...hocking more loogies.

On Wednesday I began to feel slightly better. My head begins to feel less like someone is squeezing it in a vise. Then one by one, the kids started complaining, "Mama, I don't feel so good." "Mama, my head hurts." "Mama, can I lay with you?" and "Maaammmaaaa....*cough* *cough* BLEEEECH!" That was vomit. On my bed.

When you are sick yourself, it is extremely hard to deal with sick children. So we usually lay together on my bed and share in the suffering. Whoever is well is the water/medicine/wipes/tissue/phone fetcher. Which is usually Noah because he is super human and rarely gets sick.

The Infirm = 5
The Healthy = 3.

The infirms are winning, yo. That's not good!



Yesterday, the weather was warm enough to trick my mind into thinking that spring was already here. Our go-to meal for the family during the spring and summer months and when we're out doing errands but don't want to spend money eating out...when we need to feed everyone quickly because they are starving.

Ceviche. Mmmmmmm.

I didn't start enjoying ceviche on a regular basis until I moved back to East L.A. to go to college. Apparently, there are marisco joints on every corner just like McDonalds and St.Arbucks in a caucasian community. So I started out safe, ordering shrimp cocktails. Yawn. Then I ventured to campechanas (but no oysters---aack). Those were delicious. I was proud of myself for eating what was in the bowl without question. Then I started to eat ceviche mixtos with shrimp, abalone, crab, scallops, fish and octopus. Tentacles and ev'rythang. All marinated with lime, cilantro, red onion, tomato, cucumber and some avocado slices on top. It was the shiznit. I'm telling you, marinate it with lime juice, throw some avocado on top and I will eat all manner of strangeness.

Since I've been back in Riverside for the past ten years, more and more restaurants that make mariscos have opened up in the I.E, and they are pretty good. Except for the stuff they sell already prepared at the meat counter at the local mexican markets. Blech. Never tastes fresh and always looks like it's been sitting there for days. So Michael and I just make our own. And it's quite tasty, if I do say so myself. We had an all-fish weekend. Saturday night I made grilled fish tacos, which were really good and the chil'rens couldn't get enough of them. Surprisingly enough, they were my first fish tacos since I went on vacation to Ensenada, where I ate so many fish tacos I just about ruined them for me. It's been six months!

Yesterday, after a depressing trip to Lowe's--and by depressing I mean, after you look at all the cool, new stuff that you can do to your house, it's depressing to come home to old appliances, jacked up tubs and chipped tile--we decided to make some ceviche.

I like to grill some tilapia fillets in a little olive oil and lime juice. Then I flake it up into a big bowl of chopped tomato, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, green onion tops, diced jalapeƱo, cilantro and lime juice from about a hundred limes. Seriously. I have carpal tunnel from squeezing all those dang limes. I also throw in some chopped shrimp. Salt and pepper and yuuuum. Unfortunately, all they had was unripe avocados at the store, so sadly, I didn't get any avocados on my ceviche tostadas last night. Usually I like to have ceviche with my avocado tostadas! Heh.

Funny thing, ceviche is usually Michael's thing. He always makes it. But last night I did because he had to run an errand. But it was just as good. And you can't have a ceviche tostada without the staple of a mexican household, Tapatio hot sauce in a bottle big enough to resemble a small child.


Hello phallus!

The chil'rens love to draw. With the exception of Noah, who prefers to draw with paint programs on the computer. But the rest of them, they've really hit their stride in the drawing department. They spend the majority of their time at the kitchen counter or in their playroom coloring and/or drawing. They will draw the minute they wake up, they will draw while eating breakfast and lunch, they will draw while watching cartoons, they will draw in the car on the way to church. They even draw on the wood frames of their bunkbeds. So when they're not glued to the PS2 or the trampoline or getting on my last good nerve, they are drawing.

Seeing them come up with really cool creations does this old mama's heart good. I always hoped that my children would inherit the art bug. I really think they have. Diego, well, he has filled notebook after notebook of characters and storylines. I have a hard time storing them all but I hate to throw them away. After cleaning up their room and moving some furniture around, I came across some of his drawings.

Very interesting.

This one caught my eye. Hmmmmmmm.

Disneyland, again

What I did on Friday: joined about half the teenage population of L.A., Orange and Riverside counties at Disneyland.

We got there at 3:30pm. I was ready to leave by about 6:30 pm. Too many emos wearing skinny jeans. Too many little girls with Ugg boots (and it was a toasty 80 some degrees out). My sciatica was killing me like a mofo. But I was brave, I was valiant for the chil'rens. Note to self: bring your drugs...bring your drugs...bring your drugs.  

By drugs I mean 800 mg. Motrin. It's either that or rent a motorized scooter along with the rest of the fatties.

Cyan and I were the only two who didn't care to brave the water elements at the Grizzly River Run Rapids. I did not care to add soggy wet butt and chub rub to my list of ailments of the day. Just the thought of having to walk around the park in wet jeans gave me the willies. So we sat back and ate some Hot Tamales instead.

We were sorta hoping they would get soaked.

But alas, the geyser was a dud.

I made it through the day by eating tons of candy. So did my boys. They were jumping around like crack fiends until about 11 p.m. Then they were passed out before we got onto Ball Rd. Until they smelled the aroma of In-n-Out. Then they were wide awake, ready for their cheeseburgers, animal style and fries. Poor Sol, he fell asleep with half his burger on his lap. So Noah jacked him for the rest of it. Heh.

I am going to get my money's worth off this annual pass if it kills me. And them. Stay tuned for more of Pearmama's Amazing Chronicles at Disneylandia With Her Six Chil'rens as the year goes by.


Another favorite...

I had to post another of my favorite albums of all-time. I have always loved Sade. I used to groove to her love songs way before I had a love to apply them to. I had a hard time trying to pick which one to be my favorite. The Best of Sade solved my problem. I wore out that cd, playing it over and over again. And before that, I wore out Love Deluxe. At my sister's wedding, she had her bridesmaids walk down the aisle to "Kiss of Life". It was beautiful. I always thought Sade was a unique beauty, too. With that hair all slicked back and her exotic facial features. And that voice! Smooth as silk and sultry as all get-out. That is some perfect baby-making music right there!

Lock down!

So I'm aware that a normal family with 2.5 kids, a dog and two working parents don't face the same struggles as a family with seven chil'rens, six living in the home that actually stay home all day as they are home-educated, one mangy perra, and one working parent. And by "working" I mean, he actually gets paid for what he does because Lawd knows what I do around here is "work" but I don't "get paid". When you are existing in your paradigm, it just doesn't register that there are families who have to do things differently to survive. In our scenario, we have a large family with little people who are constantly trying to compromise our food supply.

We had to put a lock on our pantry and refrigerator.

I've fought it for years now, thinking it was slightly mean and juvenile hall-like. I grew up with my mom never having to restrict the refrigerator but then again, growing up I only had one brother and one sister. I had a best friend who had four sisters and they constantly fought about that bag of Doritos, who drank that can of Coke, etc. so they had to put their names on everything and locked it up. I thought that was strange and uncivilized. Now here I am, having to lock up string cheese and dried cranberries.

Michael had enough of the chil'rens raiding the fridge and cleaning us out. The straw that broke the camels back was one night a few weeks ago when he found about seven or eight barely bitten apples in the trash. He scooped them up (they were sitting on top of mail trash), washed them, and then sliced them up. Then he made them eat it for dinner. He was pissed.

We would argue about how to keep the kids out of the fridge so I wouldn't have to go to the grocery store every other day. I'm home all day long, so it stands to reason that I should be able to man the fridge, right? My usual reply was, "What do you want me do, stand by the pantry and fridge all day long?!! I have things to do, too, you know!!" You know how when you are bored, you open up the fridge and stand there, looking into it? I was constantly yelling at the kids to STOP IT! And they had found all my spots where I would hide the hot cheetos, the chile mangoes, the cheezits. It was ridiculous. Diego would get up at the crack of dawn to get some me time and he would so do with a vat of cheerios and milk. All before I was even awake to yell at him. I won't get into the string cheese wrappers, the yogurt containers, the banana peels, the cereal bars, the chicken wing bones. It just got to be this incredibly annoying and exhausting process of policing the pantry and fridge. So Michael decided to do something about it.

Lock down.

When you have alot of chil'rens the fact of the matter is, you have to buy alot of food. Plain and simple. I won't get into actual numbers of our grocery bills but suffice it to say, if I pop into the market for say, lunch, I can't get out of there spending less than $85 to $90. And that is just a simple lunch of sandwiches, chips and juice. But with the locks in place I can go to the grocery store and actually have the food last for a week or two. I was amazed the first couple of weeks we put the locks on because I still had four boxes of cereal, fruit cereal bars, juice, crackers, apples--wow! And I haven't had to yell or beat anyone. The older kids know where the keys are but they understand they are not to touch them without permission. They've been pretty good about it. So this lock business is working out pretty well for us. I can't believe I didn't get it sooner.

So if one day you come to my house and you see the locks, don't automatically assume we are cruel and inhumane and our children are brown savages. Heh. It's just a survival tactic for a large family. Who knew the key to my sanity would also unlock the pantry and fridge?

We need this bad boy...

and this one, too.

To make sure we still have some of this...

And that.

So what did you have for breakfast?

Finally, something that I'm about to eat that rivals the delicious looking grub that Urban Memo is always eating and taking pictures of. When I hang out at her blog, I get a serious case of food envy. Is that even an affliction? Either way, I am usually drooling.

Raquel introduced me to this bagel combination. Onion bagel (an er'thang bagel works well, too), tomato, avocado and cream cheese. But she uses Tofutti cuz she's organic and snooty like that. I liked the Tofutti well enough, but the tubs are too darn small. Just try feeding my tribe with that little tub. We can finish it during one breakfast. So I have to buy the industrial-sized tub of cream cheese.

Nevertheless, this is some yummy stuff. I can eat this for breakfast every day and not grow tired of it. Nevermind that I'm allergic to tomato and avocado (and bananas, if you were wondering!). My lips and mouth are a little red but they are itching like crazy. As I sit here blogging, I'm biting my lips with my teeth. But it's all good. I'm not gonna let something like food allergies get in my way of fine dining.


Safe and sound

I just came from my daughter's room where they are sleeping peacefully, legs and arms intertwined under the blankets. One of the girls still occasionally wets the bed at night, so I have to put a diaper on her. Anything to save on more washing and spare her from waking up wet in the morning. But she doesn't like the feel of the diaper so I usually have to put it on after she is asleep.

I don't know why it is, but every night when I walk into her room, uncover her and pull down her pajama bottoms to put on her diaper, I have this thought. I think of the countless little boys and girls around the world who, on this night, are being stirred from their sleep by hands that don't want to love and protect them, but to hurt them and take their innocence away. It hurts my heart in ways I can't describe. It makes me profoundly sad as I take in the sight of my beautiful daughter with her flushed cheeks and full lips...to think that my daughter is safe and warm and she is protected. No harm will come to her in this room where her mother and father stand as sentries to protect what makes her beautiful, pure and feminine.

And so every night this incredible sadness washes over me. I don't know what to do about it besides pray. Pray for all the little ones in this world that are being victimized, that don't feel safe in their own beds, those who can't look into their parent's eyes and know that they can trust them. And that is what I think hurts the most. Above all, we are supposed to trust our parents. If that is taken away from a person at a young age, then it will affect them for the rest of their lives. My daughter can trust that her mama will roll her over and put her diaper on, pull her pj bottoms up and kiss her forehead before leaving the room. But there are so many others that can't say the same thing. And those are the ones I pray for every night.


Ever since I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I began a hand-written journal. So far, we are on the third journal, and I try to pop in every now and then and let them know what is going on in our lives. The past three years have been rough. I counted a total of five entries for the entire year of 2007. Not good. So I tried to remedy to situation by putting the journal (with a pen tucked inside) in the bathroom a.k.a The Office, a.k.a The Sanctuary of Peace, a.k.a The Phone Booth. I know if it's sitting and I am sitting there, I am more willing to write in it. What can I say, I'm a multi-tasker.

So there I am, writing about how happy I am to be their mama, how the years are just flying by and how I praying that God has adequately prepared me so I can adequately prepare them. How I wish I could be a better mother and instead of stewing in today and all I have to do, I could choose to look at the bigger picture and keep things in perspective when CRASH! Glass breaking everywhere. Someone broke something in the kitchen. I immediately cringed and thought of all my antique glass, Depression glass, my pottery. If they broke one of my expensive pieces, I am going to put my foot in someone's behind! I was just about to roar like a lion when I stopped myself.

A choice

Just thirty seconds before I was writing about looking at the big picture. About choosing to be a better mother, choosing to make my home a place where my children can thrive. Sigh. What is more important...breaking up the harmony of my home or some old piece of glass that only holds value in my eyes. Hmmph. I immediately get three people at the bathroom door.

"OOoooooooh, mama! Diego broke your glass!" Solomon, being a snitch.

"Honey..." Michael, coming over to show me the damage.

"Please tell me it wasn't my Depression glass." Or my antique glass. Or my pottery.

"No, it was one of your Pyrex bowls. Look. The green one with the flowers. It just slid out of the cabinet onto the tile." Oh good, the funky green one with the flowers.

Then a few seconds later, a very contrite Diego. "Mom, I'm sorry. It was my fault. When I dried the dishes, I piled up too many bowls and they fell. I'm sorry!"

"It's okay, mijo. It was an accident. Next time just be careful not to stack them up too high."

"Ok! Tomorrow I should organize the cabinet because there is too much stuff in there!" He sounded extremely relieved that I wasn't angry.

"Sounds good. Now will you let me go potty in peace?"

"Sure. Oh, mom! One of the broken pieces look like the state of Texas. I just wanted you to know."


I love my kids. And I love being a mama!

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21


Brothers are love.

I have to say that my mom did an excellent job in raising her sons. She is a good example for me as I raise my brood of four. She succeeded in creating well-balanced, kind,loving, protective, gentle yet manly men. And they adore her.

Thirty-five years ago today, my mom gave birth to a son with bushy eyebrows, big lips and legend has it, nostrils so big she could see his brain. They named him Eric, after the legendary Eric Clapton. At home, mom already had an eleven month-old chubby little girl, walking and talking and bouncing up and down in her crib, dancing to the Isley Brother's "Who's that Lady?". What was she going to do with two children, not even a year apart?

All of my earliest memories have Eric in them. He was my playmate everyday when we lived in that tiny house in San Diego, on Ensenada Street. He was five years old and I was six. We would spend hours making mud pies, setting up my barbies, running through the sprinklers, riding bikes and playing with his Star Wars figures. He was the perfect playmate. At night, he didn't like sleeping in his room because he was too far away from the rest of us, so he would crawl in my bed. He was always a full head smaller than I was, so I grew intensely protective of him once we entered school. One day while waiting for the bus to take us home, this girl with a long dress and a big bow in her long blonde hair...she kicked him in the back. I remember being so intensely furious that I wanted to cry. So I decided I was going to beat her up--how dare she kick my little defenseless brother in the back! As we boarded the bus, she sat near me and offered me some Red Hots as a sort of peace offering. Well, I forgave her and consequently didn't have to beat her ass. And the story goes that I sold him out for some Red Hots, just like the fatty that I am. Heh.

We tease my brother Eric that he is a straight-up mama's boy. And he is proud of it, too. But more than anything, he is a loving husband to my sister-in-law, he is a very involved and tender father to his two sons, and especially, he is a devoted son. He will always be my perfect playmate, my baby brother who exists in all of my memories, both bad and good. Thank you for enduring all the years of relentless teasing about your lips, your bug eyes and the fact that you couldn't pronounce hamburger or bird.

Thank you for being an awesome brother and my first best friend. Happy Birthday, bro.


Yesterday afternoon, I went on a short excursion to Nordstroms with the homie Raquel to get her shoes stretched. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, Nordstrom will serenade with you a piano player, hook up your makeup courtesy of a man with nicer eyebrows than your own, tailor your pants, and stretch your shoes. I'm sure if you asked them to form fit your calzones, they would do that too. It's Nordstroms, yo.

Anyhoo, I got to try Gwen Stefani's new L, a L.A.M.B perfume. I loved it! I'm not much of a perfume person, I've had the same bottle of Clinique's Happy since 2001. Usually they end up all smelling the same to me. But this perfume smelled beautiful. It was really light, slightly floral and fruity. According to Fragrance X it features top notes of sparkling green freshness, leafy water hyacinth, white freesia, fresh pear and violet leaves; a heart of jasmine petals, rose, lily of the valley, sweet pea and orange blossom, and a drydown of frangipani blossom, peach skin, heliotrope flower and sensual musk. Ok then. All I know is it smelled lovely.

Smelled like the perfect spring perfume. Plus, the bottle is really cool and I thought it was marketing genius to spray samples on teal-colored paper in the shape of an old english L. Nice touch. For all us old schoolers out there, old english is always a good choice.

So when I got home, I shoved the L sample under Michael's nose so he could smell it for himself and get the hint (I want this perfume for my birthday). He takes a deep whiff, rolls his eyes into his head and he whispers, "Oh yeh. This is what Gwen must smell like. Mmmmmmm."

Filthy animal. After a jab to his gut, he assured me he was just playing and that he liked the perfume, too. But seriously, who does that?

It's bananas!
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