1.29.2010

Off and running.


I've been noticing that some of the chil'rens were not falling asleep for at least an hour of being bathed and sent to bed. I have two that hit the pillow and they are out. Then I have a couple of stragglers. Then I have the two that will try to outlast Michael and I.

It's pretty ridiculous.

One of them is my oldest. I shudder to think of some of the things he may contemplate doing whilst laying up in his bed, mind wandering, trying to fall asleep. So I'm thinking they need to get some more physical activity so they can crash out when they are supposed to.

They are totally over the trampoline. They only enjoy it when company is over and they can cage fight, scratch their nuts and funk up the house with their armpit stench. They ride bikes and I know they'd love to ride them more but, this mama is a little paranoid of child molesters, crystal meth being sold as strawberry pop rocks, child trafficking and that Saturday night movie back in '91 where the little boy gets hit by a car and is dragged down the street for a few blocks before the driver realizes he ran over someone.

Yes, those are the things that race across my mind when the chil'rens ask to ride their bikes out of the driveway.

Sad, I know.

So what is a mama to do?

It's pretty clear they need to blow off some steam. I've decided to take them to the park 2-3 times a week. For an hour, if that. I told them they could play or ride their scooters. And, oh! We should have a "race" around the track! I suggested this as innocently as possible, as if it was just this spontaneous idea that popped into my mind. I could time them on my stopwatch. The person with the best time would be the "winner" for the day, fastest Cortes and hold bragging rights. And if I have money in my pocket, an ice cream cone!

They were all for it.

Sometimes they are just too easy.

I even had old wheezy Diego out there, exercising his lungs. The chil'rens are nothing if not super cutthroat in competition with one another. To some it came easy, and they could run about two laps without walking. It didn't come as easily to others. One ran like he had his toes tied together. Another looked like a newborn colt that needed to be put out of his misery.

But the whole time I'm smiling and cheering them on. :-)

And the winner was...Diego...old man wheezy...or as his brothers like to call him, General Grievous. This should give you an idea of how unaccustomed to running the chil'rens are. Diego? For reals? Heh.

But, yay.

A good time was had by all. They had fresh air and a place to stretch their legs. I can't ask for more than that.

1.28.2010

Yum yum eaaaaaat 'em up, part 3494589304


Ok.

If you've never eaten a bionico....you ain't lived yet.

What is a bionico, you ask?

Let me tell you...its a fresh fruit salad with this sweet Mexican crema drizzled on top. Similar to yogurt but not as tart. Then its sprinkled with granola, some chopped nuts, shredded coconut and raisins.

But hold the raisins because they are the devil's candy. Blech.

It is just plain delicious.

I had one yesterday. And I totally wanted one again today. I kept thinking of the delicious strawberries, mango, pineapple, cantaloupe, blackberries--you name the fruit, and my mouth will drool accordingly. In my zeal to grub down on another bionico, I sent my daughter outside to ask Michael if he'd go and get me one.

"Daddy! Mama said if you love her, you'll go and buy her a bionico!"

Guess he don't love me, cuz I didn't get one, but...tomorrow is a new day. And that creamy, fruity goodness will be mine once again.

1.20.2010

Sweet smelling.


My baby bro bought me a cool scarf from H & M for Christmas, along with a bottle of Victoria's Secret Body Double Mist in Coconut Craze cuz I'm all about stuff that smells like coconut. For reals.

The only problem is...when I wear it, I smell like a giant cup of Horchata.

Hhmmmmmph.

1.19.2010

Hardcore fans.

All of the chil'rens (except the girls) have an mp3 player, and they are packed with songs. You won't find the latest Britney Spears or Lady Gaga songs on it, but you might find some Jonas Brothers. We've packed their mp3's with songs by Bob Marley, P.O.D, the RATM songs that don't have any profanity and some foundational hip hop.

That's my fancy way of saying old skool.

One of their most favorite bands out right now is Moi.

Before he got his mp3 for Christmas, I can't tell you how many days I've found Cyan blasting Moi's cds on his little cd player. He'd be putting his laundry away, playing with legos, playing a game on his computer or just chillin' on his bed....the whole time listening to Moi. He even sings, trying to get his voice to sing as high as Moi can.

Moi played at our church right after the New Year. Michael and I went during the morning service and the chil'rens went to Sunday school, like they normally do. But I just knew my boys had to see him, so I promised to take them to the night service. They were so excited, especially Cyan. He wore his Moi shirt with the Superman lyrics on it, rocked his hat and sunglasses (even though it was 7 o'clock at night).

They saw the band's RV out in the parking lot and they begged me to take some pictures of them in front of it. Too funny. I love my boys!

Moi played more of their newer stuff. When they began to play Cy's favorite song, Superman, I saw his little face break out into this huge smile.

"Yessssssssssss!"

Cyan, Moi and Sol.

Sol bought himself a Moi shirt with $10 of his hard-earned can recycling money.

Up against the band's RV.

They are totally cute.

Striking a pose.

I love my two knuckleheads!






1.15.2010

Sickness.

Things have been slow around here for a few days. My son had an asthma attack on Tuesday and has been in the hospital since then. I want to say that he is doing better, but it seems as though he's at a plateau. Asthma is scary. Be thankful if your loved ones can breathe freely right now. It is a horrible feeling to see your child struggling for air and you can't help him.

So, if you can, pray, send good thoughts, vibes, sprinkle fairy dust or whatever it is you do. I'd really appreciate it!

1.12.2010

Zack de la Rocha: Voice of a generation

Today, one of my all-time favorite musicians celebrated a milestone birthday. On of my "brown heroes", if you will...turned 40.

Zack de la Rocha. 4-0. Amazing.

As you age, music drifts in and out of your life. The minute you hear a tune, it can transport to a time and place. It can resurrect feelings and emotions.

RATM's music does that for me.

The minute I hear their familiar sounds--whether it be a certain guitar riff or drum beat--I am 21 again, walking along the sidewalk in Santa Monica in 1993.

We heard House of Pain and Cypress Hill were playing at the Santa Monica Civic auditorium so we decided to find some scalpers and buy tickets. Thirty dollars seemed like an awful lot of money to spend on House of Pain. But if Cypress Hill was going to play too, it was worth it. We scooped up three tickets and walked in. It was almost like a high school dance. People were chilling in the bleachers, talking and laughing, waiting for the headliners to play.

I couldn't take my eyes off the skinny dude with the tiny dreads up on stage.

He was electrified, bouncing around and spitting his rhymes. I couldn't even sit still anymore. I had to get up closer to the stage. We walked right up, they were no more than a few feet from us. They began to play what I would later learn was "Bullet in the Head". There was this big Samoan girl with overalls and a mohawk tied up in a sumo ponytail, which she was swinging around over and over.

She scared me.

So I gave myself a mental note: stay far away from big Samoan girl because she looks like she wants to crush some fools, getting all worked up by the music.

They rally 'round the family, with a pocket full of shells.


I stood there, in awe of the music. Who are these guys? I have got to find out! At the end of their show, they started throwing cassettes out to the crowd. Yes, cassettes. I caught one.

Rage Against the Machine. Hmmmm. They are from L.A.

Cool.

When I got home to Riverside, I listened to that RATM cassette day in and day out. While I drove to school. While I studied. While I painted and drew at my desk at home. All with earphones on, to intensify the experience. I wore that cassette out.

By this time, I was hooked.

What was so potent for me was the fact that Zack knew his hip hop. And it combined two of my all-time favorite things...hip hop and rock. Politically-conscious lyrics were a big thing for me at the time, and I loved listening to Public Enemy, Ice Cube and X-Clan. There is nothing like music with some conviction. When I discovered he was Latino, it was on. You've got to understand, there were practically zero Latinos on the music scene at the time. He rapped about raza and Cuauhtemoc and zoot suits and the plight of farm workers and "illegal" immigrants. Way before this business was going down in Arizona.

You down with DDT, yeh you know me. Raped for the grapes, profit for the bourgeois.

After that, I sought them out, wherever they were playing in L.A. I saw them at the Hollywood Palladium. Big Top Locos at Grand Olympic Auditorium. The Velodrome at CSUDH, a couple of times. La Hacienda, a little Mexican restaurant in downtown L.A. At Lollapalooza, in a sea of dirt and mud. At the Gibson Amphitheater, back when it was Universal Amphitheater. Those I can't remember as of this writing. And finally, after nearly ten years, Coachella.

Zack is beloved in rap-lovin', conscious hip-hop, punk rockin', brown and proud circles.

To realize this voice of my generation has turned 40 is...incredible. He's still making music that is relevant. Shoot, the music he made over fifteen years ago is still relevant. He is still mobilizing grassroots efforts. Sadly there are no more dreads but he can most def rock the 'afro.

And he can still spit those rhymes.


Happy birthday, Zack.

1.10.2010

Rocket boy.


Eleven years ago, almost to the minute of this writing, my second son was born.

Diego.

It was a scary birth, very fast-paced and overwhelming. Determined not to have the same medical procedures imposed upon me during my first birth, I wanted this to be all natural. Oh, to be blissfully ignorant once again.

Well, all of my "all-natural" ideals flew out the window about 5 cm in.

Michael and I were alone in the labor and delivery room. None of my family came to the hospital because we told them it was too early. Our instructions were, Michael would call when things "got exciting".

It got exciting in a hurry.

I laid there on my side, demanding a cool cloth to cover my face so I could feel free to make ugly birthing faces in peace. What is going on? This is nothing like Noah's birth! If this is just the beginning, I am totally gonna die with six or seven hours of this!

That was always my downfall, during all six of my births. I rated the pain, and whether or not I could endure at that level for several hours. It would discourage me, I would cry, want to puke, shiver and shake...then within an hour so...feeling as though I was on the threshold of death....a baby would come out.

Well, this was just my second birth...and I was in pain.

When the nurse came in and offered me something for the pain, all of my lofty, best-laid plans were forgotten.

"GIVE ME SOMETHING!!!!!"

The nurse--bless her beautiful, amazing, wondrous, drug-peddling soul--gave me some Stadol in an IV, before the real Dope Man could come and administer the epidural. This was after they blew all the veins in my right arm and was black and blue.

Then it was like an out of body experience. Like I was sitting up in the clouds, looking down upon the writhing, whiny woman on the hospital bed. I could still feel the contractions, but they were like an echo and I was detached from them. It was the strangest feeling.

Suddenly, I felt the weirdest sensation, almost like a pop inside. Then a gush of warm water. The nurse said, "Oh, good! Your water just broke. Things should be moving right along now."

She left the room and it was silent. Like the proverbial calm before the storm. When the Dope Man came into the room, they were just about to give me an epidural when something on the Earth shifted.

Felt like a baby was about to fall out of my lady parts. Fast.

Alarmed, I cried out to the nurse. She poo-pooed me. "Oh, its too soon. We just checked you at 5 cm. You still have a ways to go."

Meanwhile, it felt like the baby inside me was careening on a water slide down my uterus, cervix and birth canal. I was so pissed that the nurse didn't believe me. Michael was confused, too. I cried out again, "It feels like I have to push!"

It took everything in my power to keep him from falling out. Usually, you work with your body to help get the baby out. There I was, fighting to keep him in. The nurse, registering the sounds I was making, decided to lift up the sheet.

"Oh! You're right. Looks like the baby is on his way."

No sh!t, Sherlock!! I felt like telling her. I wanted to stab her with the pen she kept scribbling on my chart with. Beat her with her own white clogs.

But I couldn't because a baby was threatening to shoot outta me like a rocket. But I'm pretty sure, had this not been the case, I could have followed through with that nurse.

"You can't push. We have to wait for the doctor."

Two words you NEVER say to a laboring woman, "Don't push." Not unless you don't love your teeth.

She rolled me onto my side, which supposedly helps slow down a fast delivery. She shooed the Dope Man out of the room ("It's too late for that now." "Noooooooo!"), and stuck her hand between my legs from behind. She put her hand on my baby's head, almost as if she was keeping him from coming out.

"Oh, no. You're gonna make me deliver this baby, aren't you?"

Meanwhile, I was panting and grunting like a wild boar, trying to keep from pushing the baby out. Michael's face was horrified as he stood there, trying to comfort me. He was probably wishing my mama was there to help. He did an awesome job of distracting me until the ob walked in. Then there was a flurry of activity and Diego came bursting out. All my other babies came out carefully, slowly, with a gush of water. Not Diego, he burst. Like a rocket.

And he was born.

So handsome. Beautiful, with slanted eyes, dark hair and full lips. Which were open to a high-pitched scream/cry. The nurse, standing there filling out my chart, muttered under her breath, "Well, there is nothing wrong with his lungs."

There is a picture in Diego's baby book that pretty much sums up the moment. Michael is smiling, looking down at the gooey, purple-faced infant placed on my chest. I am laying there, my mouth hanging open in exhaustion, my face staring off into space like, I wonder if my vagina just got blown to bits.

Ahhhh, motherhood.


Whenever I tell Diego his birth story, he laughs. He says the reason why he was in such a hurry to get out was because it was gross "down there". Yeh, that sounds just like Diego.

Happy birthday, son! I love you even though you drive me insane.




The painting above is a watercolor of Diego, that I painted when he was just a day old.

1.05.2010

2010 and a few revelations...


2009.

It kinda sucked butt just like 2008.

This being the first week in, I thought I'd reflect on several things. I won't say I'll resolve to do anything...at this point I'm just reflecting.

I've realized that I have to stop hoping that life will correct itself, that things will change by some fantastical, mystical force of the universe. That I just have to sit here, living life within these four walls, a smile on my face, doing my penance, raising the chil'rens and loving my husband.

Nope.

I have this sneaking suspicion God expects more than that.

Imagine that.
The audacity. Don't I do enough here, God? I selflessly care for six children, I cook everyday, I try my best at educating them, I care for my husband and work at my marriage, I teach, I try to live thriftily, I pray, I worship you, etc. etc. I can continue singing my praises.

But that is not enough.

I feel something, deep in my spirit. I feel like something has to change. Things have went well for the past ten years, I've been happy, I've loved raising my family...but the past two have been really, really hard. Like we've been hitting a brick wall. Or maybe its just been me. Either way, this makes me feel like maybe we should be heading in a different direction with our family.

I read something the other day. It's in the book of Proverbs 29:18. It said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

Wow.

This has been me, completely. My head's been down and my nose to the grindstone so much that I fail to realize that staying home to care for the chil'rens is a privilege, and I've taken it for granted. I've focused on them for so long that it's time to venture out. To effect the world around us.

The vision. I haven't had it. Sure, I think about when the chil'rens are grown, and what kind of people they turn out to be. That is, after all, a mother's life work. But goals, debts we want to settle, places we want to go, things we want to do, people we want to help, doing things to help my family survive financially...this is terrain I haven't wanted to venture across because it makes me scared and I doubt myself.

But again, vision.

If I want things to happen, I have to get out and do them. This may entail being a bit more flexible with being away from home, getting out of my comfort zone. Maybe this will bring some peace to our lives because I'll tell you, it feels like we've been perishing around here. Maybe I can discover what will become of my life after the chil'rens are grown and gone. But for now, I have to have vision for the future, and not be frightened by the prospect.

That, in itself, is extremely frightening to me. But I've already mentioned that, right?

On a lighter note, I also have to figure out how there can be less of me. Literally. It's not good when one of your chil'rens is helping fold laundry and holds up your chonies, his mouth open in amazement.

"Oh em geeeee. These look like they belong to a woolly mammoth!!"

Thanks alot, Diego. I have a feeling life would be easier if I didn't have to lug around so much of me. I would also really appreciate clarity of mind that comes with regular exercise and healthy eating habits.

Lord knows I need clarity of mind.

I also need to figure out how I can supplement my family's income. After Christmas, the dreaded three-letter word came spilling out on the table, foul and ugly.

J-O-B.

I was depressed for days, alternating between tears, sleeping, tears, anger, sleeping, more tears. God, how can you have me abandon my post? What will become of the chil'rens? How could I possibly find a job, maintain my home, my marriage, figure out the chil'rens education, etc. etc? Did you forget how many children I have? And who on earth would want to hire a woman whose been out of the workforce for thirteen years?

I mean, just the thought makes me want to hyperventilate. That or hit up my homie for some of her Xanax. But then I have to tell myself that even though I can't see it, can't conceive of it all working out...God-- Jesus--has a plan. He has already gone ahead of me. He'll make it happen. In a way that I couldn't possibly figure out or see unfold.

But I suspect I will stand there in absolute awe.

I usually do.
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