I’ve been trying to come up with ways to shave some stuff off my grocery list. It’s ridiculous. The chil’rens eat like locusts. I make one big trip to the store and right after we are through organizing and putting everything away, there they are swarming over the crackers or the grapes or the string cheese. You can just hear them descending upon the food. And the juice.
Oh, the juice.
They are juice fiends. I should say, liquid fiends. Juice, milk, bottled water, soy milk, iced tea, lemonade, juice, whatever--they don't discriminate. They are an equal opportunity liquid drinker. Doesn’t matter what it is, they will fill themselves big glasses and guzzle it down. Last month there was a crazy sale on 100% juice, which is what I always buy. I don’t get the cheap stuff, people. So I stocked up, thinking it would hold us down for the entire month. Nope, not even close. And this is with the lockdown still in effect and constant monitoring (i.e nagging and threatening bodily harm) on my part.
“Mom, we need more juice.”
“Well, too bad. You’re not gonna get it.”
“No juice. Water only.”
You should have heard the moaning and gnashing of teeth.
So I’m trying to figure out, what else can I give them to drink that is economical but healthy? During the summer, we get by with sun tea--jasmine green tea, mint tea, pomegranate tea, etc but it isn't quite sun tea weather. And nope, I won’t give them punch…no soda…none of that cheap Tampico stuff…no Sunny D--not unless I want some crack fiends walking around. Someone recommended Tang, but meh. Tang usually ends up a sticky mess on my floor. I dig the little sugar-free packets you put in water bottles…but the amount of recyclables my home generates is so not good for the environment, even though it is quite an enterprise for my oldest.
Then I had a light bulb moment. What about Kool-Aid?
I mean, I know we aren’t a black family…but surely we could cross through the cultural barriers and mix up a packet of .25 cent Kool-Aid, right? Now before you get all politically correct on me, ya'll know that black people be lovin' them some Kool-Aid. Just like us beaners who love horchata and tamarindo--its just a fact, not a stereotype.
I have vague memories of Kool-Aid growing up. But I remember eating it rather than drinking it. We would empty the powder into little Ziploc baggies and take them to school so we could stick our fingers in to dip and eat the flavors during recess. Ew. I think I spent the entire fourth grade with a red-stained finger and tongue.
So I went out and bought a few packets. I used less than half of the packet's recommendation for sugar and it was more than sweet enough. The chil'rens were like, yeeeaaaahhhhhhhhh. Little crackheads. As if they have ever consumed the stuff. I guess the excitement was from the novelty of it.
I'm still waiting for the Kool-Aid to grow on me. It just feels so ghetto to tell one of the chil'rens, "Go make a pitcher of Kool-Aid!" I mean, is this what my frugality has reduced me to? I used to squeeze my own Valencia oranges from the farmer's market! I used to religiously juice apples and carrots for the chil'rens, so I could be sure they were getting their fair share of daily nutrients, for goodness sake!
And now, this. Kool-Aid.
I blog about this for humor's sake, but I can't lie. It makes me feel like a crappy mama to admit that I bought Kool-Aid for the chil'rens to drink. Next thing you know I'll be letting them eat Lunchables, frozen chicken nuggets, Lucky Charms and Slim Jims.
Very, very, very bad.
We had just arrived in L.A. that Sunday, for the show at St. Elmo Village. He double parked in front to drop me and the chil'rens off. Then he discovered they were shuttling people around three blocks away to a Ralph's parking lot off of Venice. I looked in the backseat and Xixi was asleep in her car seat.
"You can take Xixi with you because she is asleep." I told him.
He looked in the rear view mirror and said, "Okay."
Then he drove off.
I walked into the Village, mingled around, showed the chil'rens a couple of things, threatened death if they didn't stop eating all the cheese, crackers and fruit. After ten minutes or so had passed, I started looking around for Michael and Xixi. Way out in the corner, I spotted Michael. But no Xixi. So I thought maybe she was running around. I went over to him and said, "Where is Xixi?"
His face went pale. "Oh dear God."
And then off he went running.
He forgot my sleeping child in the back of the van. Three blocks away. On Venice Blvd. I started to pant. Like I was gonna get a full-blown anxiety attack. I had to stifle the urge to run into the streets, pulling out my hair and ripping off my clothes. It was a horrible feeling. Anything to run and be closer to where she was.
I saw that he ran into the street and flagged a car down. Then he hopped in and they took off.
I waited and waited. I tried to be calm. I was ready to pack up my tribe and leave, I was that disturbed. Then I saw him pulling up in one of the shuttle vans. With my Xixi, who was all red-faced and teary-eyed.
As soon as she saw me, waaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.
And that was just me.
Our van was parked right next the shuttle vans. When Michael left, they said they noticed something moving inside. Then they realized it was a child. They were looking for something to break the window with when Michael jumped out of the car he rode over there in.
Sigh. Sigh. Siiiiiiigggggh.
"M-m-mama! Y-you left m-me! I-I w-woke up and I w-was by m-myself and I was c-crying, 'Mama! Mama!' but you w-weren't there!"
Just kill me now. My poor baby. So, so many things could have gone wrong. I am so thankful none of it did.
I think I was more traumatized than anything. Michael, too.
Note to self: Never leave sleeping child in car with husband.
Seven chil'rens later, and now we decide to forget a kid in the car. Geez. But she is okay. She is perfectly okay. I suspect I'm the one who will suffer a traumatic battle scar after this one.
Not that I'd want to live my 20's again. Nope, don't wanna do that.
The 40's just feel...old. To me, anyway. I remember when I was a cute 32 year old. Oh, you don't look a day past 23. Now they say, oh you're 37? You don't even look that old!
What exactly should a 37 look like? Granted, I'm a very immature 37 year old. Just ask the chil'rens. I get my groove on like Beyonce when "Single Ladies" plays..I burp loud...I still wear Vans...sometimes I let us eat popcorn and smoothies for dinner. I should definitely work on being more responsible and mature. Then maybe I will feel more like a 37 year old.
I can count how many healthy birthdays I've had. Because of the season, I always have the flu or some sort of cough. This year was nothing new. So I made no plans today, on the day of my birthday. But then my little brother Eric came by in the morning. And as I walked down the hall like the Creature From the Black Lagoon, I saw that he brought me this little chocolate-covered cheesecake.
Old Lady, it said.
And it suddenly made my 37th birthday so much more tolerable. Pleasant, even. Thanks, Eric. Love you!
Maya's only request for her 5th birthday was that she have an all-girl's "Spa Day" with her cousins. She was really looking forward to getting her nails done and relaxing...and no boys. That was her one stipulation. She didn't want any boys involved.
I don't blame the girl.
Happy Birthday, baby girl!
She looked so tiny sitting there getting her pedi. She almost didn't reach the water!
"What? You actually want to see it?"
"Yeh. It looks good. I thought it was a movie you'd like to see."
"Hmmmmph." I looked at him through narrowed eye slits.
I pondered all of his angles. You see, we have this unspoken agreement between us. I don't bother him to see The Women and Atonement and The Devil Wears Prada and Revolutionary Road and he doesn't pester me to see The Day The Earth Stood Still, Shooter and The Godfather I, II and III and other crap like that. So I wondered, why this movie? I know he doesn't really care for Jennifer Aniston, we've seen Scarlett in other movies, the other brunettes didn't catch his eye, Drew Barrymore hasn't held his interest since Poison Ivy. Hmmmmph. I do believe he got a little irritated with me. Here I am, trying to take you to a movie...
I began to feel a little ungrateful. And paranoid. Maybe he was just trying to be a sweet husband take me to a movie that I would enjoy. What is the harm in that?
So we went. With a gift card from a raffle we won when some of our friends were going to Uganda. There is nothing better than getting in for free, courtesy of a gift card, am I right? The movie was funny. It was interesting. We laughed, all that good stuff.
Then Scarlett Johansson came onto the screen, all blond and voluptuous, with those bee-stung lips and that raspy voice of hers.
I had to give Michael a cup to catch all the drool hanging from his bottom lip. What made me hate her more was the role she played onscreen. A single girl who fell for a married man. Why are all the good ones married? Maybe he was meant to be with her's, despite the wife. So she decided to go ahead and "pursue a friendship". So much for a friendship because about five minutes later, we see him sitting in her bed and her wearing his button-down shirt.
I don't know about you, but I don't think I would like it if my husband had friends that looked like Scarlett Johanssen. Nothing would make me happier than to see my husband with a crew of old, wrinkly, toothless, hairy-moled, saggy and bull-dykish female friends. You wanna go hang out with your crew? Go ahead, honey, knock yourself out.
To be totally honest, it's not so much how the female looks, because I'm sure he encounters beautiful women all the time. It's the mentality about married men in general that some single women possess that makes my hair stand on end. I find it extremely offensive when single women decide that a married man is fair game. As if the vows a man makes to his wife mean nothing.
It almost makes me want to get all ghetto on the female. Like rip out your weave, stomp a mudhole in your backside, bust you in yo head type of ghetto.
It makes me want to say, sorry girlfriend...I don't care how "different" he and his wife are...how opposite their interests are...how they have "grown apart"...how his wife is boring now that they have kids...how his wife won't do certain things in bed...how they are so busy with their careers...how his wife never appreciated him...how much more interesting you are....how much more pretty you are...how he would much rather be with you than her...he is still a married man.
He stood before God, a church, his family or a courthouse and he agreed to marry this woman for better or for worse. He agreed to forsake all others before her. He might even have children with her. And a home. Joint bank accounts and a mortgage. And just because a shiny jewel happens to catch his eye for a minute...none of those things are going to change. And believe me, I realize it takes two to tango, but I can't help but be incredibly disappointed when the main perpetrator is the female. It kinda makes me ashamed of my gender.
As you can see, this movie hit a nerve. But I'll step down from my soapbox now.
I was still processing what was going on in the movie when this scene nearly made my husband go into convulsions. It looked as if Scarlett and the married man were going to get busy right on his desk. And my husband was torn between staring at the movie screen and praying Scarlett wouldn't (or would?) fall out of her top and staring at me, like, sorry honey! My eyes! My eyes!
And that is why Scarlett Johansson is a heifer.
I love you Joe, but I don't wanna have to see your face for another twenty years or so!
Twenty years or until its time for you to do another tattoo for me.
My Diego being his usual obnoxious self. Check out the background floor. Michael wanted me to point out that the floor is no longer muddy and you don't have to walk on planks during rainy season and its been that way for about eleven years now. Okay then.
My mama walking over a floor painting that did years ago. It was my ode to the breastfeeding mother. They will be repainting these floors in April, and I get the feeling it's not going to be as easy to paint on my hands and knees like it was when I was 25. I will definitely need some knee pads and 800 mg. Motrin. Fo sho.
My honey and his dear friend, mentor and director of St. Elmo, Roderick Sykes.
Yes, you read the title of this post right. 'Roids. As in, hemorrhoids.
Yup, I went there.
I like to call them "my little friends" because apparently, they are here to stay. So, say it just like Tony Montana and say hello to your little friends.
Wait. Is this TMI? Or is it toooo TMI? I mean, come on. I figure, we're blog homies, right? The dudes that read this blog can handle a post about hemorrhoids. If ya'll have stuck around after we've discussed havin' babies on the kitchen floor, fat girl undergarments, chub rub and National Geographic boobs... then I know you all can hang.
Did you know that human beings are the only species in the world afflicted by hemorrhoids? Yes, isn't that lovely? So, bears don't have 'em. Sharks don't have 'em. Turtles don't have 'em. Zebras that run around the bush don't have 'em. Even dogs that belong to Mexican families that get to eat leftover beans, wienies con huevo and potatoes don't have 'em.
Ain't this about a *bleep*.
How do you get them, you may be wondering. You either have a very poor S.A.D (standard American diet) or...all you mothers know what I'm talking about....you have been pregnant and have given birth. I belong in the latter category, six times over. So ya'll know the prognosis just can't be good for little old me.
You see, when you are pregnant, your body almost doubles it's blood capacity. This causes all of your veins to bulge and expand. So what do you think happens to the veins in your butt? Yep. It is fertile ground for the butthole demons to strike.
I have a dear friend who shall remain nameless that shares in this butt struggle with me. She says when she poos...its like passing shards of glass.
I'm sure this isn't everyone's predicament. I can't say mine is all that dramatic. But in order to control my "pregnancy battle scars", I have to be diligent to drink lots of water, eat lots of fruit and veggies and lay off the meat. You can best believe I am aware when I have eaten too much animal. Cuz I am breaking a sweat, gripping the seat and crying, "Oh dear God, what have I done?"
And then I understand the true meaning of butt hurt.
I've investigated natural salves and creams. But let's be honest. Who wants a creamy butt? Who enjoys their butt cheeks sliding around all day when they walk? That's just annoying. Hands down, the best remedy has to refrigerated witch hazel. You soak some cotton pads in it, stuff it in your crack and you are good to go. If you are a big girl with a big booty, there is no risk of the pads falling out and causing an embarrassing scene. They are pretty snug, lemme tell ya. But the cold pads, oh chiiiiild. I can almost imagine me in some sort of cartoon, with my butt on fire, sitting in a tub of water with the smoke billowing around me.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent, which means it will shrink the 'roids. Every time I had a baby, my best friends were the cold witch hazel pads and that numbing coochie spray. That spray was good times.
Please disregard the fact that I said coochie from the record. Thanks you.
Motherhood is funny sometimes. You are just so excited to have this precious little being in your life so you can inhale that delicious baby smell and nibble on those cute little toes and sigh because they are so adorable like their daddy that you don't realize in exchange you are causing irreparable damage to your body.
Case in point: to your areolas, which will increase in size about 30% and never turn back to their cute, former selves; to your stomach which will expand and contract so many times it's just plain confused and now hangs limp like a bum in an alley; and your booty, which has been traumatized so much that it gets happy when you stuff it with some cold cotton pads.
O, where was a wise woman to tell me these things before I decided to have all these chil'rens? That's what I want to know. Until then...don't ask me any questions if you see a bottle of witch hazel up in my fridge!
When I did get the opportunity to come during the day, I was completely surprised to find a cluster of brightly painted little buildings, succulent cactus planted everywhere--including in an old toilet bowl and sink--rusted metal sculptures and smiling faces. Everyone who lived at the Village was either an artist, writer or musician. Every Saturday morning they hosted free art workshops. So every weekend there would be a flood of excited neighborhood kids drawing and painting or having a drum circle. And my dear man was an instructor there for nearly six years.
What I love about this place is how they welcome everyone and encourage the creative spirit. But more meaningful to me was how they have nurtured my husband over the years. They welcomed a mischievous, energetic little boy who was caught stealing coins from their fish pond. A boy who would rather roam the streets than be at home. They gave him a safe place to explore his creativity. They loved him. They gave him a chance. And most importantly, they shaped the man.
So many of my husband's wonderful qualities I can trace to the Village, and the couple than run the place, Roderick and Jacqueline Sykes. They are two awesome people. They have always been a very loving influence on our relationship. So when they asked us to participate in their 40th Anniversary Exhibit, Past & Present Villagers, I was thrilled. But a little shy, too. I never actually lived there, but I guess I have become an honorary member because of my husband. Either way, I'm proud to be showing some of my paintings there during this exhibit.
So if you want to brave the huge storm that is headed our way this weekend (total bummer), come on out to L.A. on Sunday and check out the exhibit. I promise, you will not be disappointed. It is such a magical place with all the sculptures and cactus and murals on the floor. Kind of like an oasis in the middle of the hood. I love the place because of what they do but also because it has my husband's spirit all over the place.
I had a miscarriage about six years ago. I had just given birth to my fourth little boy in five years. Cyan was just seven months old. I was kinda upset that I had gotten pregnant again so soon. I was not what you would call enthusiastic. But I quickly settled into the rhythm of being pregnant and taking care of my other children, like I had done four times before. Life has a way of happening and you just have to deal. My heart was light at the thought that maybe I would finally get my baby girl, so the "inconvenience" of it all was accepted and dealt with (or so I thought).
During my eleventh week, I was packing up the kids after a trip to my mom's house. I ran in to use the bathroom and was shocked to see a little bit of pink. It really shocked me. I felt like, wait a minute--this should not be happening. Up to this point, I felt like I was super mama able to get pregnant on cue, easy pregnancies, easy deliveries after which I bounced back ridiculously fast.
Then all of a sudden, this show of pink. Soon after I noticed some back pain and some light cramping. Once I had finally stopped all of my activity for the day, I realized, maybe I am having a miscarriage.
I told Michael how I felt. He prayed for me and both agreed the best thing for me to do would be to take it easy, and hopefully the cramping and the spotting would stop. I drank some anti-miscarriage tea, some herbal tinctures and then tried to lay down and rest but that isn't easy when you have a five year-old, a four year-old, a two year-old and an eight month-old baby.
Wow, typing down all those ages really makes me see how absolutely insane that was.
The next morning I was feeling better. The faint pink blood had faded. It was driving me nuts to just lay there while the boys ransacked the house. I remember feeling guilty because during the night I had wrestled with the idea that if I did miscarry, then maybe it would be okay for me. Lord knows I have my hands full with all these boys. And this was awfully soon to get pregnant again. Then I would cry and feel like a horrible mother and plead for God's forgiveness at my coldness and my ungratefulness because up until this point, I had been convinced that babies were a blessing from God, that the fruit of the womb was a reward.
So why was I laying there thinking, thanks God but I think I'll pass if your rewards are a new baby every eighteen months or so. Just this one time. And then a few minutes later, I would ask for God to spare the baby's life. It was like this for hours as I laid there on my bed, listening to the sounds of my family in the background.
Physically, I was feeling much better by the afternoon. The cramping and back pain had subsided as well. I thought perhaps the worst had passed. Without thinking, I grabbed a bucket of water, a sponge and some Murphy's Oil Soap and I scrubbed down the boys' bunk beds. I remember thinking, this is so filthy! How did I let it get so bad? I scrubbed and scrubbed every last remnant of their dirty hands and footprints from the frame. I was scrubbing like a woman possessed, totally oblivious to the fact that just a few hours earlier, I way laying in my bed pleading with God to do something. Then I felt it.
Like something popped inside.
It was the strangest feeling. Almost like when you are in labor and your water suddenly breaks. I rushed to the bathroom and there was it was, a torrent of red. The bleeding came on strong and dark. Life's blood, I kept thinking. My baby is flowing out of me and I can't do anything to stop it. I clearly remember having that thought. At that point, I knew that it was too late. No amount of teas or herbal tinctures or bed rest was going to help. The cramps came on strong. So did the blood. It was strange to feel the familiar "labor" pains even though I knew a baby wasn't going to be born.
When I told Michael what was happening, it was almost like he was in denial. No, just keep laying down and get some rest. It will stop. The baby is fine, he kept saying. No, you don't understand. This is happening! I kept trying to tell him. It wasn't until I showed him some pieces of tissue that I had passed. I know that sounds morbidly gross but at the time, I didn't know what else to do. We had already been through two hospital births and two home births... and we both knew what placenta looked like. That was the proof he needed to see.
We both decided that I would not go to the hospital. There would be no invasive gloved hand touching me. No cold stirrups. No D & C. I wanted none of it. I wanted to stay home and let my baby pass in peace. I was confident that my body would do what it had to do. I promised Michael and my mom that I would be fine and all we had to do was be vigilant about my temperature, to ensure that I didn't retain anything that would cause an infection. It was painful and it was scary, but I stayed home.
Mentally, I wasn't prepared for how I would feel. I was so sad, so deeply and profoundly sad. It was such a huge sense of loss. What if I had lost my baby girl, who I waited so long for? Every time one of my boys would come into my room and ask me if I was okay and I saw their precious little faces, I would get emotional and I would feel this pain and it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. The physical pain, combined with the guilt and the loss and the sadness.
It was a very scary time. I felt the pain for weeks after. Even when I thought I had gotten over it. The strength of the emotions surprised me. They were so crippling and so raw, I would just break down and weep and Michael would think I was going crazy. We had watched this movie with Kate Winslet one night--it was called Jude. Horrible things happen to three small children in this movie and I wasn't expecting it. It really caught me off guard. I just remember falling apart when I saw it. And not just tears in my eyes but full-on chest heaving cries. It was so awful. Then a few days after that we saw Beloved with Oprah Winfrey. In that movie, she kills her own child so she won't become a victim of slavery. I just lost it again. That was when I decided to pass on whatever movie Michael had rented. I remember him feeling so guilty about it.
But as the days went by, I felt better and stronger. And I was so thankful and so relieved. I also felt a change in my heart. I was grateful. I was truly thankful for my children. Now I was willing to welcome another pregnancy, should there be another baby. And there was, six weeks after my miscarriage.
Finally, my baby girl.
This is the first time that I have actually written down my thoughts and feelings on the subject. It still hurts, thinking back. My consolation is that I have six healthy, beautiful children, despite the one I lost. I guess I used to believe that having the rest of my children would lessen the impact of losing one. But I was so wrong. If anything, the loss was greater, the sting was worse because I knew just how much my other children meant to me...and the one I lost was just as special.
I was almost full-term with Cyan in this picture.
And scares the poop out of me.
I guess what really scares me is myself. I remember being young and impressionable and liking boys. I remember the thoughts that ran though my mind. I may not have known the logistics of the man/woman thing...but I knew something was going on.
When I was about ten, I had this crazy thing for Duran Duran. Crazy. I loved their music. And they were so hot. The white suits, the hair-sprayed/lacquered, the eye make-up...it was all so, so, sooo lovely. I knew all of their songs, I had posters on my walls, I watched all of their videos. And I had my favorites: John Taylor and Simon Le Bon.
During one of our weekend visits, my Dad rented this Duran Duran video compilation for me. When he went to return that and the other movies we had rented, they had no record of us having the Duran Duran video so I got to keep it. Holey smokes. That is exactly what an obsessive, chubby, starry-eyed and curious young girl doesn't need--a VHS packed with unedited Duran Duran videos, videos they didn't even play on MTV. I watched that thing backwards and foreward, pressing pause on the interesting parts of Girls on Film.
Yay, Dad...this is great viewing material for a ten year old!
Needless to say, it just fed into my Duran Duran obsession and it educated me on female/male lust. I just saw the Girls on Film video again, and yeh, it's sixteen years later and I am practically an old woman now and it's still pretty raunchy. Dude.
Sadly, I never got to see Duran Duran in concert. I probably would have been one of those crazy girls tearing out her hair and crying. Heh.