Cousin love.

Xixi loves, loves, LOVES her cousin Selah. Xixi thinks she is beautiful. Xixi wonders what she is doing in the middle of the day. Xixi likes to stare at her pics on the fridge. Xixi becomes giddy with excitement when she knows she will get to see Selah soon.

Sadly, the love isn't always in return.

Even though they are both four years old, in little girl years--which I guess is comparable to dog years--they are something like 14 or 15.

There is always some type of drama going on between them. Usually, its Xixi wanting to smother Selah and its Selah pushing Xixi away with her brown Ugg boot. So many times I've had to console Xixi because, "Saaaay-waaaa doesn't want to be my fweeeend!" But I know my daughter enough to know she is a little sneak and a whiny-butt. Still, it always seems like its Xixi chasing Selah around, wanting her full attention, crying when she doesn't get it. And Selah, in all of her pre-teen four year-old glory, shining Xixi on.

But at school, the playing field gets leveled somewhat.

Xixi has homies. They go way back. Since they were in diapers and were pushed around in strollers. And its Xixi they call to come and sit with them at lunch, with their Hello Kitty and Tinkerbell lunch boxes, fruit roll-up wrappers and juice pouches. They squeal and run to the playground and do all the things little girls do.

We tell Selah, go, go play with the girls. And she'll stare at you with these big brown eyes and eyelashes like Snuffleupagus and say, flat out, no, I don't want to. And then she'll proceed to go and play with Diego, who will always push her on the swing.

I tell you, I fondly remember spending time with my cousins in my childhood. They were my best friends. But the biggest issue we had was not having enough time to build our Barbie houses, and watching out for those crafty cousins who liked to jack Barbie clothes (guilty).

But these little girls, well, they are something else. They are just too funny.

I just hope they will always be there for one another. That they will be close enough to tell all their secrets to one another. That they will be true friends. Even if it doesn't appear so at the moment.

Xixi about to get choked but she still has a smile on her face.

Awwww, the sweet love of little girls.

Dragging each other around.

Rolling around the grass like little cubs.

Xixi and Selah.



I do alot of artwork for free. For family and friends, sometimes as gifts. I recently painted four frames for my sister-in-law, as a baby shower gift for a friend.

And I wonder why I never make any money.

Freakin' freebies.

In all fairness, I did them all freehand, I used .99 craft paint and she provided the frames and a sample of the nursery motif. It took me all of one night to paint.

Cute, right?

Then I came across this.


Someone owes me some money.


"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

I am one of those people who have to be highly motivated about something in order for it to get done. When I get that wild hair, watch out. I can tear through my house like the Tasmanian Devil. Things get done and its not a tortuous chore. I really like when that happens.

Then there are those other times.

Take this project, for instance. I'd been bugging my mama for weeks, clean out the old vanity because I want to take it to my house and paint it. I have the luxury of finding really cool vintage/antique furniture from my mama house. Before I moved out and went to college, this beautiful, waterfall vanity mirror used to be mine. Then my sister inherited it and...you know the rest. Needles to say, when it was in my care, it was dusted and oiled and I made sure the doilies* were hanging just right. Then when my sis got her filthy mitts on it...along came the cup rings, nail polish smears, glitter, stickers, scratches and what I think is a hairspray haze on the finish. So basically, there was nothing left for me to do but paint the thing.

My nagging finally got it here, last October or so. I could never find the mojo to paint it, so I just used it the way it was, counting on Christmas break to find the time and get the job done. Then Christmas vacay came and I cleared it out. I put all my chonies and bras in a laundry basket and left it on the floor of my closet. I was moving right along. Then I cleaned it, taped the mirror off and busted out with my handy-dandy primer and then....that's it.

I got as far as primering it when my motivation just petered out.

So it's been sitting in my bedroom, cleared out, taped off and primered for...three months now. Yep, thats right. My chonies and bras have been tossed in a laundry basket for three months. In my defense, when I cracked open the white paint that I had in the garage, it was getting old and chunky. Hmmmm, now I've got to buy a whole new gallon of paint.

But then Christmas happened, then New Years, then we got back into schoolwork, birthdays, art shows, baseball, the weather was cold and rainy, and....life happened.

The other night, I was looking for my black bra. And I couldn't find it anywhere. My drawers were bursting at the seams and suddenly realized that I needed to get this stupid vanity painted like, right now. So I did.

And now its done. Now my chonies and bras can go back in their proper drawers and I don't have to see laundry baskets laying around, stacks of books, dust bunnies.

My next project: four kitchen chairs that I plan to paint a lively turquoise.

This little gem was hiding in my mama's spare room, sitting under picture frames, carpets, candles and Ross bags. The finish may have been jacked up, but it was still beautiful.

The coat of primer. Primer is my best friend. I can do anything with a can of white primer.

The finished product, looking all clean and spiffy. I had to take a pic and document because in about 22 minutes, dust bunnies will start to form.

Yeh, I could have stripped and refinished this piece, but...I am not completely out of my mind. That is some hard work. The white looks clean and crisp against those vintage handles. I'm loving this vanity (even though I have to look at myself in a full-length mirror like, all day everyday). Shiver.

*The mention of doilies was for dramatization purposes only. I hate doilies.


Sweet dreams, or a beautiful nightmare.

One of my dearest, closest friends has a little boy that is around the same age as Xixi. When we get together, they love to play and laugh and have a good time.

His mama, who is my siamese soul sista, says that he always asks for her, that he wonders what he is doing and when can he come over to her house?

Too cute.

We recently had dinner to celebrate my birthday, and Xixi was so excited to finally play with Little John. She kept telling me, "Mama, I think little John likes me!" with a little sparkle in her eye. And we all laughed.

I got a phone call from my S.S.S later on that week and she said that whenever little John heard Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams", he would sing it like this, "XIXI! Or a beautiful nightmare!"

She called him over to the phone and told him to sing it. Then I heard him belt it out, "XIXI! Or a beautiful nightmare...." There was no shame in his game.

I called Xixi over to the phone so she could hear him sing it.

You should have seen the look on her face!

She giggled for such a long time after that. Later on, after a bath and much contemplation, she explained to me, "Mama...little John must think I am beautiful. But we can't get married, cuz we're too young!"

My fave part is at 1:30, when Beyonce gets buck. Heh.


Nothing is sacred.

So you know that nothing is sacred around here, right?


I was sitting in front of the laptop, finally getting a chance to sit down and catch my breath.

The chil'ren were watching cartoons in my bedroom.

All was good.

Then Solomon comes up to me, something small and white in his hands. I saw it in my peripherals, cuz a sister always has to check her peripherals. Then I heard it.


Sol: Mom...what's this?

I was frozen like a statue for about 3.5 seconds. Oh em gee....please tell me he doesn't have what I think he has in his hands. About two Christmases ago, Michael worked at a shop that did some print jobs for this lingerie store in town. As a thank you, they gave the office a basket of adult "toys". I'm not talking about the big, scary kind (with veins), but a small, discreet item. So the owner passed them out to the employees.

Michael was the only employee.

Me: What the heck am I supposed to do with all of these things?
Michael: I don't know! Give them away.

So I did.

But I...uhhhhhh....sort of saved one for myself.


And I tossed it in my nightstand, where toys such as these belong.

But you should know that the chil'rens possess investigative skills that rival the C.I.A. If I hide it, they will find it. Not that I was necessarily hiding this. I was fairly confident if anyone found it, they would have no idea what it was used for.

I looked over my shoulder casually, really hoping this would end quickly. Dangit, I knew I should have put it up in the closet. These kids are gonna be the death of me. And of course, it had to be Solomon, the most curious, the most relentless, the one who never forgets anything, the one with the photographic memory.

With all the nonchalance I could muster, I answered him.

Me: Oh. Its ummm, a foot massager.

Sol, looking very intently at its phallic shape: How is this a foot massager?

Me, snatching it out of his hands: It vibrates, then you can...rub your feet with it.

Sol: Well, it vibrates but it keeps shutting on and off.

Me: I know. Daddy switched out the new batteries and put them in the remote. boo hiss

Sol, still persistent: But still, I don't understand how it works.

Me, starting to feel exasperated: Son! It vibrates and you rub your feet with it! Ok?

Sol, giving me the stink eye: Hmmmm. Ok then.

Think he fell for it?

I don't know.

What I do know is, there will come a time when Sol will pay for his snooping. He will stumble across a toy much like the one he discovered in my nightstand. Hopefully it's in twenty years or so, after he is old and crusty and married. And that photographic memory will kick in, and the memories will flood, and he'll know exactly what that thing was that he found in mama's nightstand all those long year ago.

He'll know. Oh, he'll know.


She knows wassup.

Me and my baby girl.

There are the physical similarities, to be sure. Everyone always says she is my mini-me. And that she is, that she is.

I was reading the girls a book before they went to bed. It was titled, "I Like School."

When I was finished, I asked Maya first, "What is your favorite part of going to school?"

Maya contemplated for a minute. "Ummm...I like my science class. I like playing with my friends and I like my backpack."

Xixi, however, did not miss a beat.

"I like painting and I like the snacks!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.


Everybody clap your hands...

The chil'rens don't have a shy bone in their body. We pull up and they will crash through your door, booming their hello's, giving hugs, laughing, yelling, looking for something good to eat, making themselves comfortable on your sofa, smiling and just being.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a couple of those shy, quiet children who walk in and hide by their mothers until they appraise the situation. Then they eventually come out of their shell.

No, mine busted out and have stomped the shell to bits, like...three hours ago.

Some weren't even born with that shell in the first place.

I wouldn't change them for the world.

I love that they are so secure in their parent's love that they can be themselves--confident, outrageous, brash, sometimes obnoxious. How many twelve year-olds would break out into the Cha Cha Slide at a carnival with hundreds of people they don't even know around?

He just had the urge to do the Cha Cha Slide, yo.

Even though he can't clap with the beat.

I love the boy's reaction at 1:10.


Yes. Wow is right.


Our Toms Style Your Sole event

Back in January, my totally rad church hosted a Toms Style Your Sole Event. If you've never heard of Toms shoes, here are the goods: For every pair of shoes you buy, a pair is donated to someone in need. Such an amazing concept in our consumer-driven society.

Of course we wanted to be part of this event.

So, people were able to decorate their own shoe--a plain white pair. For a little extra, some local artists were available to create custom designs using spray paint, markers and acrylic paint...turning these shoes into mini works of art! At first, Michael was going to lend an artistic hand with the shoes while I took care of the chil'rens, who were running around on the jumper and enjoying the snacks supplied by the blood drive trailers. It's a tag team effort that we've gotten used to in our marriage. But little by little, I found myself edging closer and closer to the shoes and to the paint! Heh. Its like I couldn't help myself.

The paint and the shoes were calling my name!

Working on the shoes was sooo much fun. It did not seem like work at all, which can explain why we ended up with over ten boxes to paint in our studio. Some people were very open-minded, and just let us have fun with our own design concept. Other people were very specific, and we kinda got a kick at some of the requests. I managed to stay away from the boxes that wanted alot of script on them. Michael has great sign-painter skills, so he took those on. I kept getting requests for "henna designs". Now, we all have an idea of what henna designs look like, but at an event like this, there were no design sources to reference. Everything was off the top of the dome. Which was cool.

The shoes felt like we were painting on a tiny canvas, which is what they are made of--canvas! I really want to get myself a pair, so I can hook them up. At first, I balked at the price, thinking I could buy a sweet pair of Vans for less than the price of Toms. However, you can't pass up the idea of buying a cool, new pair of shoes for yourself and someone in need receiving a pair for free.

I'm a busy bee.

He's a busy bee.

Shoes I did for my sweet friend's daughter. I gave her a little bit of that special oomph. Cuz I loveded her.

See the love?

No fear.

Freehand drawing stars isn't as easy as it seems.

Love these floral designs. I'd rock 'em.

I dig these hippie-inspired Toms. The spray paint gave it a nice tie-dye effect.

The blue ones are masculine yet subtle. Nice.

I loved the way this pair came out. Pairing the floral motif with the geometric shapes was genius, if I do say so myself. :-)

Yeeeeeh booooooy. Now you know Mike had to represent with the graff style.

Watch out now.

Ahhh, Sharpies. My black Sharpies are like my babies. And no one messes with my babies.

Mike loves to paint in front of an audience. He's a real performance artist at heart.

I wasn't able to get a pic of the finished product, but this pair was one of my faves.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Can I get an Amen?

Loved working with all three mediums: acrylic paint, marker and spray paint.

If you're interested in buying a pair of Toms, check out our FAQ page. If you want me or Michael to hook up your shoes, send me an email at pearmama@gmail.com.

I'd love to work with you!


"You can get that at the swapmeet for $2..."

The chil'rens love going "to the swap meet".

You'd think they were going to Disneylandia or something. That is how much they love the swap meet. Its a place where they can comb the aisles for treasures and all they need is a buck or two. I think the majority of their toys were bought at the swapmeet. Must be because I never buy them toys.

Now, lest you think it is me waking up at the crack of dawn to take them to the swap meet, I can assure you--it most certainly is not.

While they be creepin' (at the swap meet), I be sleepin' (in my warm, comfy bed).

They go with their Grandma-mama. I can see her now, as clearly as if she was standing in front of me. She's got on a pair of faded capris, a sweatshirt, chanklas, shades, her hair tied up in a bun under--gasp--a baseball cap, a swash of lipstick, her little cart and she's good to go.

She might as well be the mama of my childhood, circa 1978 or so.

Or, she could be her mother, my Nana, circa 1984. Instead of faded capris, she would wear culottes. And a fanny pack!

You see, I come from a long line of swap meet shoppers. And I don't mean ghetto, indoor swap meet stuff. I mean, flea markets, vintage goods, auctions, antiques and yard sale items. The kind of stuff people lay out on blue tarps on the floor at 5 in the morning.

Which brings me to many flashbacks of my youth.

I remember waking up while it was still dark and eating a chorizo burrito, sitting in the back of our yellow Datsun, wrapped in a blanket. My brother and I would follow my mom up and down the aisles, while she looked for some treasures. I remember the musty smell, the way the sky looked at that time of the morning, the sleepy feeling, hoping they would finish their shopping soon. Sometimes my mom would sell, other times she would shop. Then we'd share the back of the Datsun with whatever goods she found. Then there were the antique auctions in San Diego, people running around frantically removed tags from the items they wanted. Again, my brother and I would play tag in and out of the vanities, waterfall sets and armoires. Then, when I was older, there was the swap meet with livestock, bird cages, East Side Story cassettes, heat press shirts, bags of nuts.

Last summer, I was crazy enough to agree to meet my mom at the local swap meet. It just have been around 7 am or so. We had to get there early to beat the heat. Still, I had a sweat mustache just walking up to the place. Going up and down the aisles, I remembered all those years of being dragged to the swap meet, and why I never go. And how I was done after two aisles.

I say I was dragged because that long line of swap meet shoppers...well, it ends here. I just can't get into the whole swap meet aesthetic, if there is even such a thing. I know, I must be a traitor to the family. Now, I love a bargain. I love to sale shop. I love clearance stuff. But the thought of rummaging through crusty, dusty stuff just doesn't sound like alot fun to me. Now, I am not too snooty to turn up my nose at stuff my mom has found at the swap meet ("Look, I found this entire luggage set for $5!"). Lest she call me a malagradecida (which she always does), I really like the things she buys me.

I appreciate it, yes I do. (Mama, if you are reading this: I'm grateful. The stuff is fantastic. Wow! Woohooo! Thank you!)


Its just the rummaging I can do without. The rummaging at 6 am, especially.

So...that long line of swap meet shoppers that I thought ended with me...nope, its been resurrected with the chil'rens. They are always ready and willing to wake up early, throw on a baseball cap and head out with Grandma-mama in search of treasures.
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