Monday, June 30, 2008
Can you hear Donna Summer playing the background?
She works hard for the money...so hard for it, honey....she works hard for the money so you better treat her right!
Yep. That's me. Working hard. But alas, it is not for the money. It's just to express some creative skill. Just wanted to share why I've been forsaking sleep, a clean house, freshly laundered clothes and well-fed chil'rens. There is no way I could do this on a daily basis, just for the sake of painting.
As a hobby, a resounding no. As a way to make money, y-y-y-yes? I think so? I could try?
But it's sooOooOoo hard. Too much of what I have to do gets left undone and I hate living in a cyclone. Michael and the boys have been trying to pick up the slack, but it's alot of work. I just have to resign myself that if I want to continue painting and keeping my skills on point, I will have to let a few things go. Like my sanity.
But it's been fun. And when I older and crustier, I will look back on these moments and be glad I seized the day. Cuz the only thing I'll see seizing then is a XXXL Depends. For sure.
Until then, my beloved blogging friends....a moist palette awaits me.
I am in the process of doing a cleansing of the bloggin' homies. Getting rid of links that don't work, those that haven't been updated in like, forever (busters!) and then categorizing them all.
So if you want me to link you, let me know by leaving me a comment or e-mail me. Then be a good blogging homie and link me in return. Let's just keep sharing the love, shall we?
Saturday, June 28, 2008
So I go over to my little hidden candy dish (a tiny wicker basket with a lid, courtesy of those ingenious swedes at Ikea), and take out about five Coffee Rio candies. I may be imagining it, but after I eat several in a row, I get a slight caffeine buzz.
I like it.
As any parent with small children can attest, if you want to enjoy any type of snack you have to either 1.) hide it and eat where no one will look for you (the garage, the laundry room, in the bathroom if you leave the lights off) 2.) be a mean mama and say no you can't have none or 3.) you lie. Yes. You read it right. I lie to the chil'rens. About the coffee candies, that is. I tell them they are coffee cough drops. Then they know they can't have any because they understand that cough drops are eaten only when you're sick.
"Mama...what you eating? I want some! I can smell your bweff!"
"Mama is eating her coffee cough drops."
See. Then they leave me alone. It gets better. Sol, the little rebel he is, found one of my candies that I carelessly left lying around. So he ate it. Apparently, the bitterness of the coffee grossed him out. So everytime he sees his sisters climbing on my lap to smell my bweff...he is sure to tell them that they taste nasty and bitter. And they believe him.
The scary thing is...I have bought bags and bags of this candy. And as far as I know, I'm the only one who eats it. Crap.
That can't be good.
But what happens when you live in a 1500 sq. foot home with seven other people? Six of them being little, mischievous and totally compulsive. The kitchen table becomes my studio. The kitchen table is the place where I can sit and paint and still keep an eye on the chil'rens and make sure they aren't becoming delinquents. I can't very well cut myself off from everyone and work in the garage, where Michael has his studio. Plus its hot as hell in there.
I'm beginning to realize the kitchen table isn't the ideal workstation.
I got up for about five minutes. To pee, sprinkle some water on my face and brush my teeth. Five minutes. Then I hear the pitter patter of fat stubby little feet. Xixi. 'Nuff said.
"Mama...I-I-I paint on your picture." Then she takes off running for her room, like she was fearing for her life or something.
My heart just sank. What is the likelihood that she uncovered my palette, grabbed my piece among the stack of papers and painted on it? Apparently, very likely.
Black paint. Right over the center of my piece. Three hours of work down the toilet. I didn't yell at Xixi. I didn't spank her. But I did feel pathetically sorry for myself. I even got a little teary-eyed.
This is why I can never paint. This is why I can never do anything I want to do. I am going to cook and clean and referee kids for the next ten years of my life. Woe is me...woe is meeeeeeeeee.
I talked to Michael so I could extend my pity party. Maybe if he felt sorry for me I could milk this for all it was worth. He felt really bad and apologized profusely. What he apologized for...I'm not sure. But it still felt good to know he felt bad. Gave me some consolation. I know, I am a horrible person. Then he reminded me of something.
"What is that saying you shared with the kids during our last workshop?"
Hmmmmm. In my mind I went over my many pearls of wisdom and couldn't remember what he meant.
"You said, 'There are no mistakes in art, just new opportunites for creative expression.'"
Wow. That was good.
So I took my own advice. I didn't scrap my piece. I buffed out the face and it has since taken on a new direction. But I can't show you yet because I'm not done. But it looks good. Me likes.
As I was ready to publish this, Xixi walked over my laptop and saw the picture of what she did. Her face got really serious and she said, "Uh-oh. I did that. I'm sowwwwwy, Mama. I yuv you!"
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This is a cool spot, he said.
It was right off a busy street, near the car wash that I went to on the Fridays when I couldn't afford to take it to that expensive place on Main Street in Alhambra that gave you your choice of air fresheners. Within walking distance from where I lived. We parked a block away, then walked through the alley with buckets of paint. We tried to tread lightly so as not to arouse the suspicions of the people that lived in the tiny duplex. I pretended to act like I wasn't aware we were about to paint on private property. It was someones garage and we were shielded by a tree, and it was facing Huntington Drive. An abandoned clothesline stood there and it made me think of the summer days my Nana would hang her bed sheets, pillowcases, and her towels in the back yard. And the towels were always crunchy against my skin after they'd been dried in the sun.
Let's wait right here and listen, he whispered.
He made me sit with my back against a west-facing wall, a rough stucco. He sat across from me. The cars zoomed past us. Even a police cruiser that crept through the alley. The city looked different at night. It was like I hadn't driven on this road a thousand times, hair flying in the wind, music blaring, weed smoke curling out the sides of my windows like the hookah-smoking caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland.
While I sat in the shadows, he began to sketch with the paint. Directly on the wall with a paintbrush, guerrilla style. I watched him admiringly, thinking that never in a million years would I have the nerve to do this. Head tilted to the side, he would step back and observe his brush strokes. He worked at a feverish pitch, like someone who was accustomed to expressing his creativity while hanging from buildings and freeway signs. Entranced, I watched him use pink on the wall. Black. Yellow. Green. White. He offered me the paintbrush, but in my excitement, I could barely paint a stroke. I was much more comfortable against that rough stucco wall...watching him and loving him.
Little by little, I saw a word forming. A name, actually. As I sat, crouched in the shadows, my heart began to beat through my chest. My breath was making little puffs of white in the cool, night air.
Denise...it says Denise, I thought to myself.
He turned to smile at me. The first of many smiles he would give me that made me feel like he was smiling into my soul. No one had ever painted anything for me. No one had ever made such a physical demonstration of their feelings for me. It may not have been a fat diamond ring or a bouquet of flowers delivered to me. But this...this to me meant so much more. It was an unforgettable feeling...romantic and special and good. So, so good.
Suddenly there was a whistle from across the road. Immediately, Michael took it to mean the person was warning us to finish what we were doing. It gave me the chills, realizing there was a person watching us, probably crouching in the shadows just as I had been. We packed up and walked back through the quiet, empty alley. There was no fear, no sense of doom around the corner. Which is what you would expect walking down a dark alley in East L.A. in the middle of the night.
As we stood in my grandparents driveway, I remember looking down at our hands, which were curled around each other. They were covered in paint. And to me, it was the most beautiful thing to have our paint-stained hands threaded through one another. There was a deep intimacy about it, an intimacy we had achieved in other ways but this...this was different. Once again, I was excited, breathless...dreamy.
That mural served as a visual reminder for myself. A reminder that someone loved me. I passed it everyday and I couldn't help but look at it every single time. The owners of the home must have liked it because they didn't buff it out. It stayed there for several years. Taggers left it alone, save a few tags around the top and bottom. It felt good to know that after I moved away from El Sereno, a piece of me and my love was still there.
For all the world to see.
Monday, June 23, 2008
She is small but she is a mischevious little thang.
So this dog...sigh. One day while we were away, she ripped out the screen on three lower panels of our front door. We got home one night and literally found a Chela-sized hole in the screen. Had her body shape and everything. Like she was so hysterical she just sent herself flying at the screen. So we have tried to repair it. Repeatedly. She keeps ripping it down. It's either her or Xixi. Xixi likes to poke it out until she can put her body through it and say hi to whoever is at the gate. Instead of the doggy door we call it the Xixi door. To save us money and effort, we just haven't replaced the the screen. The lower three panels have been bare for months now.
We're thrifty like that.
The other night I am in the bathroom getting ready to wash my makeup off. And I keep hearing this funny noise. Like my screen door banging repeatedly. So I whip open the window to see what it was...and there is Chela, stuck in between the door and the screen door. I laughed out loud at her, further contributing to her freak out session.
"HA! You're stuck! Let's see if you learn your lesson."
Being the evil, cruel pet owner that I am, I let her stay in that position until I ran and grabbed my camera to take her picture. Relax. She was dangling there for about thirty seconds. All you PETA members, don't get your chonies in a knot. She's still alive and kicking. See, I'm not that cruel.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
So we escaped to Huntington Beach on Saturday. The current was really gnarly and the lifeguards were on fierce patrol, waving people in and dragging some in with their jet skis. My boys were getting tossed up like some rag dolls. But they loved it and kept going in for more. The less adventurous ones (like me) stayed at the shore and played in the sand.
I've lost my fearless attitude about the ocean. I used to love to get in and go deep, getting crashed by all the waves and feeling like I was ten years old again. I never seemed to be afraid of the pounding surf, getting some salt water in my mouth, getting scraped in the sand. Now I am.
Getting tackled by a wave and having my boobs fall out or accumulating a pound of sand in my crotch doesn't sound like alot of fun to me these days.
I have a huge respect for the sea. Michael was a little bummed, because it was something we always enjoyed doing together. He is a fish...and now we have a small tank of little fishies that love the ocean like their daddy. There. Now he has some partners to get in the water with him. And they are just as fearless as he is.
Miss Maya having fun at the shore. I don't think she even touched the water the entire day.
Mikey, Noah and Diego...brothers forever.
Xixi and cousin Selah...in between cat fights they really do love each other.
I think Xixi was highly amused that she had some chi-chis.
Jimbo Slice, striking a pose...and I kept mistaking Cyan for Diego with his long, wet hair.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Our home has been a very cheerful place these past couple of days. For thirteen months it felt as though we were missing something...like we were an incomplete family. But now he is here.
And we're happy.
Friday, June 20, 2008
I had to take one of the chil'rens to a doctor's appointment today, and on the way home we were able to get our groove on to the World Famous Aqua Net Set on Power 106.
Those are my jams.
I don't know if this was a movement that was specific to the I.E. or what, but latin freestyle was huge back the late 80's. I had tons of mixed tapes, thanks to my uncle, who was a DJ. To this day if I hear a certain song, I can remember the song it was mixed with on my little pile of mixed tapes.
When I hear some Debbie Deb, Stacy Q, Expose, Safire, Johnny O. or Nocera...I suddenly feel the need to wear a long button-down shirt with tails, a brooch, huge hoop earrings, some MC Hammer pants and pointy-toed shoes. Rockin' the bushy brows and ev'rythang.
Yeh, you could say I was a disco biscuit.
And lots and lots of hair. Big hair. All stiff like a tumbleweed, courtesy of a haze of Aqua Net. I swear that stuff could give you cancer. It would coat the sink, the countertops, the brushes, the mirror, the curling iron and handle of the hair dryer. So yes, I was guilty of that big hair, circa 1987 to 1990.
But the coolest people at school were the ones who belonged to lowered mini-truck car clubs. One group in particular sticks out in my mind. They were called "True Love". The guys wore floor length trench coats in black and drove mini trucks. The girls of the crew wore red floor length trench coats. All embroidered with "True Love". We were all very envious because these cha-cha's had boyfriends with cool trucks and they had the biggest hair. Hot stuff to a little freshman.
But the music has endured. At least for me it has. And the more cha-cha, the better. Ask DjRickyG...I had him scour the bowels of earth for latin freestyle and highNRG and he made me several cd's. Which I listen to while I am cleaning and doing my thang.
Diamond girl oooh oh diamond girl...yes, yesssssss. I'll always be your diamond girl.
It's all love.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I told Raquel that when I died, I want my body to be laid to rest at the nearest Cost Plus World Market. Just lay me there amidst the batiked curtains and the rice paper and the embroidered pillows and the outdoor furniture.
Cuz that place is just the shiznit.
It really is. I walk in and I immediately covet. I can sin and get my bohemian on whilst I look at all the wonderfully mass-produced multi-cultural booty. See, I don't have to travel to Tibet or to Marrakesh or to Africa or to Mexico. I can just travel to Murder Valley (cuz that is the closet Cost Plus World Market to me) and I can have it all. And I don't need to pay for a passport or get traveler's diarrhea.
I go in and look around and salivate and I start calculating how much I would have to rob an old person for. Just how much would I be willing to go into debt again for? Lots.Seriously. That place makes me conspire robberies and such. It's just not healthy.
Cuz I want the curtains. I want the giant throw pillows. I want the wrought iron screens. I want the shower curtains. I want the carpets. I want the candles. I want the paper lanterns. I want the fancy soap. I want the pear ales. I want the wicker--give all the wicker to me now. And the fancy dishes and jewelry and purses and the little knicknacks. I want it.
I feel better now that I have gotten that off my chest.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I've confessed before about my lifelong obsession with the color black. And how I've reformed myself. Now I will allow myself to wear turquoise, brown, yellow, purple, green. See, I'm happy now. But I still maintain my arsenal of black. Just cuz. You know, just like a crack fiend likes to hold onto his pipe for old times sake. To remember the good times.
Well, I fell off the wagon.
The black wagon, that is. I bought this almost-black burgundy nail polish for my
My only beef...my husband hates it. He absolutely despises black (or almost black) nail polish. Which is fine, I guess. He has the right to his opinion. I had my toes painted this color for my brother's graduation last Friday. He gave me the goo goo eyes, told me several times how nice I looked, how he liked my dress, how my butt jiggled to it's own beat (and he felt like dancing to it), etc. and could I please remove the toenail polish as soon as I got home?
Sigh. I knew this was going to happen. I kinda knew it would displease him. But I did it anyway. Not so much in the spirit of defiance...more like, hey these are my feet and my toes and if I want to let my nails grow so long that they curl under, that is my choice. That may seem laughable to some. Wow, scared of you Pearmama. Painting your toenails black. That'll show him. You go.
Just call me a rebel with a cause.
You might say that black toenail polish brought us together. While we were still friends, in that hazy friends-but-considering-more bermuda triangle, we went to my cousin Diana's college graduation party. The open bar gave me some liquid courage. Hmmmmm...he sure is looking pretty good--but no, we're just friends!
That's when I noticed this girl with a vicious body (translation: huge rack, tiny waist, huge butt) calling him out to the dance floor. Now, we were still "friends", mind you, and I had no right to insist he only dance with me even though he came with me. But I couldn't figure out why it bugged the crap out of me that he was dancing with a girl with a butt as big as mine. I was mad! I have a foggy memory of kicking the wall in the ladies restroom...the bruised toenail on my big toe (which eventually fell off a few months later) I discovered the next morning validated my suspicion.
At the end of the night, several of us ended up in a hotel room to continue the party where they set up a keg in the bathroom. That girl with the fat ass was there, sitting on the bed, talking to Michael. Since she was my cousin's friend, I knew I couldn't snatch her up by her hair. Plus, I was way too classy for all that. Bruised big toe and all. I noticed he didn't pay too much attention to her...and it made me happy.
That night on the way home, as he put his arm around me in the backseat, he whispered in my ear, "That girl gave me her number but I threw it away. She wasn't my type of girl. She had on black toenail polish. Ugh. And it was chipped. Her feet looked rotten."
We got together two days after that nigiht and twelve and a half years later, we're still holding it down.
But from that day forward, I never used black nail polish again. Until recently. I will blame my sister. She wears it. And Jen is my arbiter of style. She is my fashion gauge, letting me know what looks cute...what looks tacky...what is acceptable...what makes me look like an old, fat lady. So I hold her fully responsible. Heh.
On Sunday while were were barbequeing for father's day, I spotted Michael looking at Jen's toes in disgust, his lip in a snarl. "If I only had a hammer...I would bust your black toes and make them red."
Yes, he is quite the poet.
When we got home, I scrubbed the dark nailpolish off before Edgar Allan PoPo could come after me with a hammer and do my black toenails in. It took some elbow grease. But now it's all gone. Then I painted them a pale putty pink. Whew.
Now we're back in business.
Monday, June 16, 2008
See that backpack? That was Daddy's backpack. One of Michael's favorite things was to put the kids on his back while he was working around the house. He would mow the lawn with the kids on his back. He would bbq. He would go shopping at Home Depot. Go to church. Go on walks. Family events. All with that backpack. If the baby was fussy and screaming their head off, in the backpack they would go. And they all loved it.
Someone had given us a new one, some fancy Kelty hiking backpack. But it was just too big and bulky, with too many pockets and bells and whistles. The chil'rens didn't take to it like that old blue faithful one. Personally, I could never use the backpack--any of them. My ass was (is!) too fat. The chil'rens would hang down from the backpack and they would literally be sitting on my butt. Kinda like a shelf. When I walked, they would puff up and down.
It was kinda ridiculous.
So I stuck with my various slings, the NoJo and the Maya wrap. It was all very crunchy granola. But after a while they would kill my back and I would think, isn't this is why I gave birth to you...so I wouldn't have to carry you anymore?
At the time the photo was taken, I thought we were destined to have all boys. They were a handful...always dirty, always loud, always hungry...always lovable. Michael was having a blast being an all-boys daddy. And I liked being the reigning queen, with all my handsome little subjects.
After Xixi outgrew the backpack--which was early because of her thickness--it just sat crumpled and unassuming in the hall closet. It was a faded blue with a few stains on the edge and it didn't give you a clue as to what it meant to our family...how many babies it lovingly held...how it enabled daddy to bond with his seeds...and the many adventures it went on.
Eventually, it was sold in a yard sale, very unceremoniously. But all the chil'rens remember it fondly. Not being in it...but seeing their younger siblings in it and all the good times associated with it. I also remember it fondly, but in a different way. As a young mother, it offered me respite from a fussy baby who wanted 100% of my time and attention. As a young wife, it showed me that a true man wanted to be with his children, and to hold them close. It also showed me I had made a good choice in marrying this man.
Happy Father's day to you, my dear.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
There are so many ways. Some big displays of love and some very small. If you are familiar with the book The Five Love Languages, then you will understand that I am a total quality time person. Nothing says love to me like just hanging out with me, spending time, working alongside with me. That being said, I love it when my Dad just comes over to visit. Even if we don't have plans to do anything special except sit at the kitchen table. He usually comes over and I make lunch for him. That makes me happy.
It's bittersweet, this love language preference. I guess what you lack as a child, you desire as an adult. Since my parents divorced when I was seven, time was always what I craved of my Dad. I didn't always get it, which is probably why it seek it out now. To this day, if I know Dad is coming, I incline my ear for his big Dodge truck, his whistle for me, for him calling out, "Toots!"
So what is special about my Dad? He is one of the most nonjudgmental people I have ever met. I feel like I can talk to my Dad about anything and he won't condemn me or judge me. Dad has a love of music and art, which I have wholeheartedly carried on. He has a very twisted sense of humor...and I think I can proudly claim that one, too.
Just yesterday as I was talking to him on the phone, I was explaining how I called up my grandfather to wish him a happy father's day at almost nine in the morning, and I apparently woke the grands up. They were still asleep. I was surprised.
"I thought old folks got up at the crack of dawn! It took them forever to answer and I could tell that Nana didn't even have her teeth in yet."
"Well, maybe she was giving Tata an early Father's Day gift and you interrupted!"
"Well, that explains why she didn't have her teeth in, then."
Now that was funny.
One of the greatest things I think my Dad taught me was to treat others as I would like to be treated. Although Dad never really espoused a religion, that is an exact teaching of Jesus Christ. And it's one I have carried with me over the years. I haven't always followed it or practiced it, but I certainly believed it.
There are some good things that have happened with my Dad becoming an old dude. Aging has definitely suited his parenting skills. Perhaps all that is needed is reflection. But he is in a good place in his fathering right now. No matter how old I am, he will always be Dad. And I will always be Toots.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.
This happened to me the other night, as I walked into Borders, this curiously giddy feeling came over me, just like when I was six years old and my mom used to take us to the library in San Diego. The smell of all those books, and the excitement of what lay in them. I could sit there for hours and flip pages, content to be inside, enjoying the cool, quiet air. I'm sure Eric would have loved for us to be outside and riding our bikes but for me, the library was a key to another world.
If I walk into a home and smell fragrant garlic, simmering red chile and warm corn masa, I am instantly transported to my mother's home during Christmastime and her huge pot of homemade tamales steaming on the stove.
If I smell Aqua Net, I feel like I am fourteen again...standing around a crowded mirror with my cousins, preparing for a night out at the county fair during the summer in a cloudy haze of hairspray.
If someone passes me by and they smell of Aromatics Elixir by Clinique, which by the way, is a very distinctive perfume...I think of my Nana Juana. The sweetest little brown lady that lives in East L.A. Then, I miss her.
If I wear Victoria's Secret Pear Glace, I am 21 years old again. I remember getting out of school and going home to get ready for a night out, light and airy without a care in the world. I always wore Pear...it reminded me of beer. Strange, I know.
If I happen to get into a car with vinyl upholstery (!), I am five years old again and bouncing up and down on the springs of my parents' red-orange VW bug, and I'm barely tall enough to peek out the window.
When I walk into the locker room at the YMCA and get a heady whiff of the mustiness, I am back in high school...putting on my softball uniform and trying to shrink myself around all the skinny, athletic girls with their A-cup bras and their french cut panties because back in those days they weren't called high cut briefs...they were french cut panties.
Whenever I smell Hugo Boss cologne, I think of this flamboyant gay fellow named Doug Kimball. He was the designer at a place I used to work. He was a perfect size 2, had his hair cut in a bob with blond highlights and he would wear clogs with a small heel, so he would clack clack clack around the office. He used to love to wear ruffly, long-sleeved shirts (think Seinfield's puffy shirt)that were always unbuttoned to expose his fabulously hairy chest.
All that said, I seem to automatically place a memory on a smell. So it stands to reason that you wouldn't want your beloved spouse to wear a cologne that some scuzzy guy you used to kinda date wore, right? I mean, ugh. Crack open a bottle of Drakkar Noir, Ralph Lauren Polo or Designer Imposters by Parfums de Coeur and you have pretty much summed up my entire high school experience.
Michael insists on liking this certain cologne, but...ick. I used to like this nasty white boy who wore that cologne. And by nasty, I don't mean gross...I mean, nasty like freaky. And not freaky in a good way. Heh. So I just can't get into the fragrance and enjoy it because of the negative connotation.
But as a horny old cougar, I have needs. I need to have my man smell delicious. So delicious that you want to ravish him, you know? Or am I the only one out there who feels like ravishing these days?
When we first started to date, Michael used to wear Fahrenheit by Christian Dior. So when I smell it, I immediately conjure up all these romantic memories...walking down the pier in Santa Monica, midnight painting sessions and herbal tea with honey, dates in Marina Del Rey, seeing his face when I would get off work and he would be waiting for me by my car. Our hikes to the waterfall off of Santa Anita in Arcadia. Being in love for the first time. And he would always hold me and I would bury my face in his chest and I would deeply inhale his scent, his being...and I would get dizzy. So this Fahrenheit smell, it's some pretty powerful stuff.
So powerful I had six chil'rens with the man.
For whatever reason, he hasn't worn it in years. Sure, he's had other colognes, but nothing that has imprinted on my senses in such a way. Nothing that makes my heart skip a beat. Nothing that floods my mind with a combination of love and lust. Nothing that makes me want to ravish him.
So I bought him a bottle of Fahrenheit for Father's Day. Should I say Happy Father's Day to me? I couldn't wait to open it and smell it. When I did, it was everything I remembered it to be. It's funny because it's not even his favorite cologne. But for me...it's like this tidal wave of emotion every time I inhale.
It's like coming home.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
It's been years and years of me wearing this brand...these beautiful Vans. It's been a lovely walk down the road together. That's right, I've been wearing Vans ever since some of you were still getting your butts routinely wiped by your mama. That was so good I had to bite my own line and say it twice. I just wanted to share a glimpse into my madness.
My pile of Vans has grown every so slightly.
A few questions you might be pondering...
Q: How can she afford to buy Vans for all them chil'rens?
A: Its called birthday queries ("So what does mijo need for his birthday?" or "I'm not buying them toys--only stuff they need!"), gift cards and Ross. Ross sometimes carries Vans and I'm like...score.
Q: How do the shoes manage to stay clean and in good condition?
A: I am a shoe Nazi. There are rules. "Good shoes" i.e. Vans or anything that cost me over $35 to buy, will not be worn around the house...while playing outside...while riding bikes...while working on the yard...riding a skateboard...getting dirty. Raggedy shoes from Target, Old Navy, Payless or Ross will fill that capacity.
Q: Where do they store all these shoes?
A: This isn't it. There are others. Chucks, sandals, Airwalks, boots. We won't get into the girls shoes. Currently, I live in a four bedroom
You'll hear alot of this, "Fiiiiiiinnnnnndddddd the other shoe noooooooooooooowwwww!"
Q: Do the children want to wear Vans and if so, do they pick them out?
A: Why, I've never bothered to ask them. The children don't have a choice as to what type of shoe they wear because they are under 18 and have no money to purchase them. Maybe I will be slightly flexible about letting them choose the style, but that is very rare and I have to be just fed (preferably Cinnabon or that Mongolian spot at the Galleria) and in a good mood. Heh.
I can still manipulate and indoctrinate them cuz they are all under the age of ten. And they passed through my birth canal. B o o y a h.
I counted about seventeen pairs of Vans. That is not counting the passed down, funky slip-ons that the chil'rens play in. I didn't bother to include them in the pictures because they were pretty busted. They are faded, holey, and have be worn by two or more of the boys. They have been valiant little soldiers. Soldiers for the feet, if you will.
You got to give props to a shoe that can outlast the chil'rens.
I'm already hysterical.
It hasn't quite sunk in that my baby bro is now eighteen and is about to finish high school. On the cusp of manhood, on the verge of beginning his adult life. I just can't wrap my mind around it. It was just yesterday that I would have to pile up Noah and Diego in their stroller at 2:45pm everyday to pick up Josh from Sonshine Christian school because Mom didn't want him walking home alone.
It was the incredibly long distance of four houses away.
I would pick him up, he would come home with me and have some snacks as he played with his nephews. Even at the age of eight, Josh was incredibly good company, mature in alot of ways, helpful and funny. He made the loneliness of this stay-at-home-mom bearable, day after day. Eleven years later and I still feel that way.
Josh is the type of young man that is good at practically everything. As his big sister, I am always going to sing his praises. He is articulate, he is athletic, he can sing beautifully, he is good at art, he can cook, he can write, he's extremely gracious and kind to people. And he's charming. That is what happens when you are the baby of four and are doted on since birth. You learn that charming gets you places.
I do believe his only shortcoming is that he has no sense of direction. The very first week he got his new car, my mom got a call from him at ten o'clock at night.
"Ummm, mom. I'm lost."
Apparently, he followed one of his friends home...not realizing she lived nowhere near where he lived. He was now way out in the boonies and wondering to himself, hey, this place doesn't look familiar. What a nerd. After my mom almost fainted and was ready to rush to his rescue, my stepdad stepped in and guided him home.
It's going to rough tomorrow night. I just know it's going to be very emotional and lots of tears will be shed. I'll look over at my other brother Eric, bug eyes all red and glistening, lower lip quivering. And Jen will be hiding behind her curls, bawling her eyes out. And Mom...well, we all know how Mom is going to be. And me...I'm just going to be a mess. Between the crying and keeping the chil'rens quiet...aarrrggggh. But I have to keep it together because I'll have full makeup on, yo. Josh is going to sing a solo, too.
Just kill me now.
Like I said, it's gonna be rough.
I'll post pictures of the graduation in a few days and before I end up looking like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I'm happy. I'm excited. I'm remembering. But mostly, I'm just proud.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I was really stir crazy Monday night so I decided after the chil'rens took a bath and were in bed, I would leave the chil'rens with Michael and take off to Borders and buy a new book. One of my lovely art students have given me a gift card on the last day of school, so of course that puppy was burning a hole in my pocket.
I bought Farmworker's Daughter by Rose Castillo Guilbault. I really hate when I read about cool books and I tell myself, ooooh, I wanna read that. But then when I get to the bookstore, I am dizzy by the selection. And I forget all about the books I wanted to read.
Then I got an idea. Why not go to the movies? I have never, ever gone to the movies alone. I don't know why that is. Perhaps an insecurity that people would see me alone and think I didn't have anyone to go with. But on this night, it was oddly freeing to just walk up there and buy one ticket and not have to wonder if the person I am going with wants to see what I want to see.
I wanted to see Adam Sandler's Zohan movie, but I thought if I did, Michael would get all butt hurt because I know he'd want to see it. And seeing as how I didn't even tell him I planned on going to the movies, much less alone, why rub it in his face that I saw something he'd like to see.
That left Sex and the City. Hmmmmmm.
Some background...I am not one of those diehard Sex and the City fans. I never even saw the show on HBO. I did, however, watch the reruns at eleven at night, when we were broke and could no longer afford cable and our beloved Tivo. So every night while I folded mammoth loads of laundry, I'd watch reruns of Friends and Sex and the City. It was pretty raunchy when it was cut for TV, I can only imagine what the series on HBO was like.
I always wondered what was the mystique of the show. Michael would not hide his approval when he saw me watching it. "Why do you want to watch this show with these random white ladies humping everything that moves?"
And I guess it has to do with the fact that they are portrayed as women who live a life that most of us are never going to lead. They lived in a glamorous city, wore glamorous clothes, paid extravagant amounts of money for shoes and apartments, went to fashion shows, went out to different restaurants and clubs every night, had fabulous careers, slept with lots of different men and they didn't have to answer to anyone...I don't know about ya'll, but I don't even know what all that is like.
To me, the movie was visually appealing. Being in a somewhat dark mood that night, I was refreshed by all the bright colors, the colorful outfits, the breathtaking scenery of New York, the beautiful backdrops. All four actresses looked good but you can tell they've aged like the rest of us, specificially around the eyes. But they're bodies looked fabulous.
And it was so, so sad! The most touching part of the movie for me was Carrie's heartbrokenness over what Big did to her, and how her friends nursed her back from her depression. When Samantha fed her...that really made me all emotional and weepy. Geez.
So I enjoyed it. And I was very relieved that I didn't spontaneously combust for going out to see a movie "like that". You know...all the sex havin'...in the city. Heh. But those parts didn't even stand out to me...it was the strength of the women's relationships and the warm feeling of seeing old friends.
And the whole going to the movies alone thing, it wasn't as bad as I thought. The only thing missing was talking about the movie during the walk to the car.
It doesn't get dark around here until about 8:30 or so. It is killin' me. Since Michael works part-time in the evenings, our main meal of the day is lunch, so we try to eat together. Dinner is usually whatever I can throw together. Quickly. Usually leftovers or sandwiches or quesadillas or tacos or cereal or....well, you get it.
Quick and easy.
But I noticed we've been eating later and later. Last night we were eating dinner at 8:30pm! This is ridiculous. It leaves just enough time to bathe the chil'rens and then put them straight "to bed", where they lay in the dark and make exceptionally loud noises and giggle alot.
When you are poor and you have a large family (which, by the way, are totally interchangeable), it means you are cooking...alot. Going out to eat all the time is just impossible, not to mention lazy and unhealthy. So I get really burned out and am constantly searching for new and creative things to make.
I used to enjoy going out and buying ingredients and experimenting with our meals. That was back when I could get away with buying one cute little tub of cream cheese and a pack of bagels (and pray they wouldn't go bad before we finished them), a couple tomatoes, a loaf of bread and a couple of chicken breasts. Now, everything I buy and cook is usually multiplied several times. Now I have to buy the mamma-jamma tub of cream cheese and about four packages of bagels...3-4 lbs. tomatoes, four loaves of bread and two 4 lb. packages of chicken breast.
This whole fun in the kitchen thing has now become a chore. Seriously. When you are cooking three meals a day, with the exception of Sundays....ugggghhhhhhh. The kitchen has become my nemesis, my torture chamber. I am turning into my mother too, which is horrifying in and of itself. She would often exclaim, "What do I look like to you guys? A piece of meat? You see me and you automatically see food!" And that is what its like for me these days. The chil'rens see me as the preparer of food. So get preparin', woman.
I feel like one of those old, rotund lunch ladies from the elementary school kitchens, slopping the food on the trays. They don't care if you don't like it, if it's nutritious, if it looks appealing...they are so over it. All I need is a hairnet and those black, spongy lunch lady shoes.
I just don't know how to get out of this funk. I do try to meditate on the fact that I am growing healthy kids. That I am trying to supply them with the best possible start in life. I don't let them eat whatever they want because it's easier for me. Also, I want them to have comforting memories as children, when mama made us this and ooooh, that smell reminds me of mama's home cooking. I also have to man up (woman up?) and realize this is one of my God-given responsibilities as a homemaker. Sister, if you're making a home that means you gotta make the food, too. I see how happy it makes the chil'rens, the Man. Sigh.
I know. I know!
Last night I was hailing Trader Joe's for their frozen chicken fried rice. Sure, I had to cook four bags at a time, but it was worth it. At $2.99 a bag, that still makes a meal for a family of eight for about $12 or so. If you don't have a Trader Joe's around, I pity you, Friend. Cuz it's just the best place ever. The chil'rens scarfed it down and I only had to use one pan to cook it in. Sprinkle some crunchy Chinese noodles on top and they were happy.
And this mama was happy, too.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
So I prayed, not knowing what else to do. And I really felt God telling me to stick it out, to perservere. Even if no one comes for the first few sessions, keep moving forward and eventually, people will come. Consistency and discipline haven't always been my strong suit, I will admit.
So Saturday came and everyone was dressed, fed and ready by the first session at nine in the morning. And I am happy to say that I had five willing bodies at my worshop table. Nevermind that I had given birth to all of them and they were non-paying bodies. But they were still there! We learned about the famous Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh and did our own version of "The Starry Night".
We started out by sketching the night sky with some oil pastels. Then we went over it with some cerulean blue watercolor. When that was drying, the kids sketched out a city skyline and then cut it out out. When they pasted it down, their starry night was complete.
I have to say, they did a great job of sitting still and listening to the lesson. They were also very open-minded and interested in what I was teaching. And we had fun!
Overall, it was a good experience. I'm glad we did it. The next workshop is on June 21. If you can, make plans to come out and join us.
We did some warm-up drawing exercises to get the kids loose with the oil pastel.
Xixi was getting down with her drawing, too.
Sol looks like he is ready to fall asleep! That makes me feel like an awesome teacher.
Mixing some cerulean watercolor.
Looks like Diego is about to paint my butt. But look at my girls really focused on the task at hand!
Miss Maya with a pretty smile on her face. I'm so proud of her.
Drawing their cityscapes.
This was Cyan's.
This last one was created by my little brother, in the second session. What a show-off!
Monday, June 09, 2008
I'm pretty confident we are the weirdos of the neighborhood.
What with all the crazy, brown children who don't go to school that are always running around and making alot of noise...the mom who isn't embarrassed to come outside in her pj bottoms and yell at the children to come inside...the graffiti...and the husband who is up all hours of the night, cutting wood, and eating popcorn, welding metal and painting.
At one time or another, all the chil'rens have developed some sort of speech problem. Whether it's been stuttering, stammering, talking with too much saliva in their mouth or talking too loud, they all seem to grow out of it eventually. Except the talking too loud.
I'm thirty-six and I'm still waiting to outgrow that one.
Just when I thought I've seen it all..my youngest...my Xixi. Trust her to come out with something new. She can't seem to pronounce her hard c's. They all come out sounding like t's.
I heard a couple people say she needs to get some speech therapy. Sigh. I mean, she is three years old. The old Mexican lady in me says she is fine, she will grow out of it, que therapy! If her brothers have outgrown it, I am hoping she will too.
On Sunday, while we were outside enjoying ice cream, her Uncle Josh was entertaining himself at the expense of my poor baby girl's little speech impediment.
Nice, Uncle Josh.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
God is funny sometimes. It never fails to make me chuckle that sometimes God feels the need to give me a vivid demonstration. Kinda like a little knock on the head... like, helllooooooooooo.
Take today, for instance. There is going to be a change at my church. Pastor Matt and staff prayed long and hard and decided that they were no longer going to allow children older than three months old inside the sanctuary.
Back when I had three children, I used to attend this little church where the ushers were also the deacons and the youth pastors and the outreach coordinators and the groundskeepers. I would sit with my little baby and nurse him quietly while the pastor did his thing up on the pulpit. There was only about six or seven families, so having a child inside during service wasn't much of a disruption. Not unless you count the numerous times I found myself flashing the pastor my boob.
Whenever my sweaty little babe would fall asleep under the blanket, I would breathe a sigh of relief and try not to nod off. God bless that oxytocin.
I've loosened up on my children should be allowed in church stance a little bit. A lotta bit. I am all for putting the chil'rens in their respective classes so I can sit in church in some semblance of total peace. An hour of respite is an hour of respite. I know they are in wonderful hands. And they love it.
So as I am sitting in my seat, pondering Pastor Matt's announcement, I hear this irritating sound of a pen scraping on the metal of the bleachers. Repeatedly. I turn to my left. About three seats away is a little boy, about the age of six.
Oh, the irony.
So he kept scraping, scraping, scraping away and his mom didn't make a move to get him to stop. After about three looks (inquisitive glances, I should say) from me--that holy Christian woman who believes all children should be allowed inside church with their parents--he finally stopped. But then he started to slide his sandals on the floor.
Shweeee shweeee shweeee shweeee.
Oh sugar.honey.ice.tea. Then he kept whispering to his mom.
"Are we going to grandma's house?"
"Is it almost over?"
"When I get home can I watch a movie?"
Then I believe in an effort to shut him up, the mom gave him an apple. You know what comes next. Little homeboy starts crunching loudly on the green apple. And smack smack smacking his lips like a horse through a fence.
Note: Everyone that lives in my house knows that I often threaten to throw my chankla at the head of whoever chews their food and smacks their lips like a horse. It drives me nuts. So to hear this kid eating an apple....oh dear God.
I was sort of irritated. And annoyed. And I have six children which should make me six times more understanding and tolerant, right?
It wasn't the boy. It was the mom.
She was listening intently to the sermon, immune to the irritating noises her son kept making. I kept thinking, are you serious? Can you please make him stop? I can admit that a mother can block out her own child (much like the person who lives by the train tracks never hears the train), and Lord knows I do this like, all day. But come on. At church? About three quarters of the way into service, the lightbulb went off in my head.
Oh, okay God. So this is what the Sandals team was talking about. Hmmm, I see. My bad, God. I didn't mean to get all churchified and holy. I get it. This is what they meant by children being a distraction.
Like I said, God is funny sometimes. There is nothing like a live-in-flesh demonstation to drive the point home.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I've had my last pair for over three years. Crazy, I know. Usually, the lifespan of my glasses are two years, max. I've either sat on them, lost them, or had a toddler demolish them. With my last pair, I had just given birth to Xixi, and seeing as how I had just sprung forth an almost ten pound baby from my loins, I was a bit careless and left them where my toddler (Maya) could get at them. She snapped them like some saltine crackers.
I was panic stricken.
A new baby and now I couldn't see the hand in front of my face. So my dear husband, the handyman that he is, tried to jimmy them in a way where they could be functional until I felt well enough to go to Kaiser and get a new pair.
The result was a huge glob of gorilla glue and a thick piece of wire right at my temple.
But I was grateful. I could see. A few people from our church came over with meals for the family, and there I am, looking like a truck ran me over...with a glue glob and wire on my face. Stunning, I'm sure.
But again, I was grateful.
The optician at Kaiser was really kind to me. Understanding my situation (just given birth, poor, you get the picture), he was able to get the exact same pair of frames and just pop my old frames into it. For free. And that is the reason why I had them for so long. They was free, yo.
But I finally needed to go in for a new pair. Right off the bat, I got a 'tude. A spoiled brat 'tude because I couldn't get the ones I really wanted. After the almost $300 frame and the special lenses that I require so I don't have coke bottle glasses ...well, it was just going to be a little too much for my nonexistent budget. So I settled on a nice, humble pair from Jones New York. No extra bells and whistles. In the budget. And now I can see.
We are so back in, yo.
I've been doing my usual prowl through my magazines, and found it highly amusing that in three separate magazines they all hailed the same, new trend: fuller eyebrows! They are back in and they are the hot. Bushy is the new skinny. Okay. So maybe not bushy bushy. I don't think the Frida look is gonna be in anytime soon...but definitely fuller and more pronounced brows than I have seen in years.
Whew. For real. I have battled my eyebrows my entire life. Thanks, Dad. Apparently, I inherited his eyebrows, sans the unibrow. You should see my brother...homeboy doesn't have actual eyelids. It's like two bug eyes and three inches of fur above them.
Do you sense my dilemma? As soon as I was crafty enough to steal my mama's tweezers from her makeup bag, it was on like Donkey Kong. I used to pluck them just enough to appear civilized and to keep my mom unaware of what I was doing. Once I was old enough to wear makeup, I never had to color my brows in because they were in all their lush glory. I guess it's good they were so full because I never did major damage to them. That would have been alot of plucking and let's just face it.
I'm a lazy heifer.
Besides, I learned an early lesson by watching my aunts shave theirs off with the same razor they shaved their armpits with. And then draw them back in so they looked perpetually surprised. Or angry. Or a combination of the two. So I thankfully didn't suffer that particular atrosity...or the consequential drawn-in "sharpie" brows. Nope, not me.
But it's been rough. Perfectly fine, arched eyebrows were all over the place. I tried to thin them out as much as I could. And over the years, I got sadistic with the tweezers. What can I say? The pain was kinda nice. In my zeal, I started to overpluck slightly. To the point where I had to start filling them in with my handy dandy angled brush and pot of MAC shadow. Which to me is ridiculous, right? When you already have full eyebrows to begin with. What a time waster. I could be doing an 2-minute abs or Kegel exercises or somethin'. But I digress.
My husband is the main reason why my eyebrows have been whittled down. He can't stand bushy eyebrows. Everytime he sees a picture of me with my full-on brows (including the one above), he cringes. He goes so far as to tell me if he knew me as a kid growing up, he would have thrown a rock at me and my brows. Butthole.
I have yearned to let my brows grow in a little over the years. Then it happened. I knew someday it would have back full circle. Everything does. And it did. Brooke Shields, Kim Kardashian, Camilla Belle...thank you my sisters in arms. Er, hair.
So what am I doing? Laying down my tweezers. Oh sure, I'm still going to pluck out all the crazy, stray hairs. Especially that stubborn white one that keeps popping out over my right eye. I don't think I will ever let them go au natural because I don't think the world is ready for that yet. And you never know...they may not be able to grow back. That's what happens when you are an old bag--the absence of hair growth. The irony.
But amid the craziness of life, a dog that repeatedly digs holes in my yard, a van with a bumper about to fall off, contemplating blood/semen donations to pay for gas and the fact that I want to stick my head in a hole everytime I think of the economic disaster on the horizon...I still have these brows.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
My stance on children's cartoons is...it's evil until proven innocent. I give the hairy eyeball to anything and everything that the chil'rens like to watch because...well, they are heathens and their first inclination is to watch something that is bad for them. They are my children, after all. They are just taking after their mama and daddy.
But Spongebob Squarepants...well, that little sponge just owns. It is hil-ar-ious. I try my best to sit there stoically and try to discern whether the cartoon has homoerotic overtones or foul language. But I usually just end up laughing my head off. Its the only thing I will sit with the chil'rens and watch and not want to gouge out my own eyeballs. Sure, there are innuendos but they go right over the chil'rens heads.
First off, he lives on 124 Conch Street, in a place called Bikini Bottom. He works for the Krusty Krab. Crabs...bikini bottoms...plus the fact that Spongebob's coworker Squidward has a nose that looks suspiciously like a droopy penis.
Heeheeeheeee...see I'm already laughing!
I saw it yesterday and Spongebob got a splinter and it was all swollen and ready to explode and...well, you had to be there. Today he was being terrorized by the boating school bully...only to realize that the bully's punches just sunk into his spongy body. Aha. Whew. Good times. Is there a limit as to how many times I can say good times in one day?
The subversive humor is what really gets me. The chil'rens just like it because Spongebob is a straight up fool and bad stuff always happens to him. We figured out how they make his laugh sound the way he does. You have to "aahhhhhhh" and smack your throat repeatedly.
You know you're totally going to try it.
I'm still trying to decide whether or not I am failing the chil'rens as a mother. I'll let you know.
It's just a wonderful book to look at, with both spanish and english translations. And the illustrations, well...they just make my soul sing.
When I started having my children, Diego was the first book I went out and bought for them. And its the only children's book that is in my bookshelf, so they wouldn't ruin it's colorful pages. It's still around, all these years later. And I still love it, and look at it occasionally. The following illustration is my favorite...it has always been close to my heart.