Epic fail.

Last night's dinner, that is.

What can I say? It's the end of the month.

Families around the country are trying to figure out what they can make with a can of crushed tomatoes, some wilted celery, chicken breasts, some pasta noodles and a bag of frozen spinach. It's slim pickin's around here.

I planned on making arroz con pollo. I sauteed a few chicken breasts in fresh garlic and onions. Then, I threw in some fresh green peppers and jalapenos. I sprinkled in some dried oregano and then added a can of diced tomatoes to simmer. While that was cooking, I toasted some rice in an attempt to make Spanish rice. I say attempt because it is a dish I have yet to master, no matter how hard I try. It's funky and so totally not like my mama's. Her rice is delicious. But anyhow, it was just about done. We were all famished.

Sol comes out of the pantry with a jar of Trader Joe's chile verde. "Mom, can you put this in there? This stuff is good."

Sigh. "Alright, why not?" I opened the jar and poured it in the pan. Then I mixed it in with the rest of the dish. Then this funky smell wafts up into my nostrils.

I snatched up the empty jar and take a whiff. Ugh, gross! This stuff is spoiled!

But it was too late. It was already mixed in my dish. My beautifully tasty arroz con pollo dish. With four pounds of chicken in it. I tasted a little bit. It tasted like sour pickkles.

I was sad.

Dinner was ruined.

Then I was pissed.

Some idiot must've opened up the jar, used a little bit, then put it back in the pantry, instead of the fridge. Because the expiration date was fine. Ugh. UGH!

I called Michael into the kitchen, in a frustrated panic. Most of the time I think his main job is to calm me down, to talk me down off the ledge. That's why I love the dude so much.

He said, "It's okay, love. We'll just scoop out the chicken. It'll be fine."

Yeh, I guess we could have dumped it all in the trash and went out for a burger but like I said, it's the end of the month. We had to make that chicken work.

So I poured my chicken dish into a colander and let all the juicy goodness--or, what was once juicy goodness--go down the drain. I picked out the chicken. Then I served it on top of the rice. Sol felt bad but I assured him it wasn't his fault, just the jackass who opened the jar in the first place.

We all sat down to eat. Then came a chorus of, "Ugh, mom! The rice is sooooo salty!" Sure enough, when I took a bite I confirmed their statement. Crap was too salty. Daaaangit. When Michael sat down and took a bite, he just said, "Oh! It needs some lemon."

I wanted to cry. Failing in the kitchen is a new thing for me. I felt like a loser. But my family, they were good sports about it. They ate their chicken in thankfulness. But me, I dragged my pathetic tail around all night.

Who else has had a "moment" in their kitchen and lived to tell about it?


The Pre-baby body vs. the Post-baby body

My mama always used to tell me that I ruined her good figure.

“My stomach was flat, my legs didn’t have any spider veins and my boobs were like rocks! Then I had you and that was the end of that!”

Really, mom?

I single-handedly destroyed her leopard-print bikini body in one ten-month long fell swoop.

My bad.

When I had my first baby at tender age of 25, I was amazed at how quickly my body snapped back into shape, with very little effort on my part. I lived off of Grape Nuts and 2% milk. For the first few weeks, I would walk around with my newly acquired breastfeeding-size breasteses like Jayne-freakin-Mansfield, in all her pointy 1950’s bra glory. Only my bra had flaps, so I could whip out the Nat Geo titties at a moment’s notice, to feed my sweet babe.

And it snapped back after baby #2. And likewise with baby #3. I’ll admit, I was getting a little cocky.

Mama, you must be trippin’ with all this nonsense about how I ruined your rock boobs. How can one child do all that damage?

Then I had Cyan, baby #4, to be exact.

And he literally blew the proverbial door off this joint that is my body.

Stretch marks began to form free-flowing designs over my skin. My arms flapped in the wind just a tag longer than they used to. My belly got all soft and squishy and if I didn't wear the right chonies, they would roll down and all my belly would spill over. I hate when that happens. Then, my ankles disappeared and cankles took their place--suddenly I looked like my great grandma Amalia from the knees down. And those stupid Grape Nuts with 2% milk? It was no longer feasible.


My two baybays after that were just water under the bridge. A big fat, wide bridge with a three-lane highway. I wistfully think back on my pre-baby body. I didn't even need a Spanx then. I could wear dresses and not worry about chub rub. I was so hard on myself and so dissatisfied with my appearance.

If I could only lose 25 lbs. If I could only make my thighs smaller. If I could only shrink down my round face. If only…

Little did I know how close to perfection I was, how strong and healthy and capable. And with all the vigor and desire of youth, I birthed those babies. Now when I look in the mirror, I see a woman with her children’s journey literally etched upon her skin. A trauma, really. My body has been through some stuff, you know?

I fully recognize that no matter how much weight I lose, how much I work out, how many chips and guacamole I pass up, how many shapers I own...my body will just never be the same. And I think–I think–I can finally live in peace about it.


New project up at Modern Art 4 Kids!

Hey people. I just posted a new art project over at my other spot, Modern Art 4 Kids. It's something fun to do during the heat wave we're experiencing over the next few days. I don't know about you, but I am keeping my sweet cheeks indoors where the a/c is blasting. And finally, a way to get rid of all the old magazines you have stacked up.




There is one thing that simultaneously fascinates me and scares me to death.


I don't mean, jumping in the car and going on a road trip. No, traveling to other parts of the world, where you don't know another soul, where you are unfamiliar with the customs, the food, the terrain, the climate.

Just the thought of it just freaks me out. And yet it completely fascinates me.

It is one of my life's goals to overcome my fear of it, to conquer it. To be brave enough to pack up my bags and set forth on an adventure.

Until then, I read travel magazines and blogs to satisfy my wanderlust.

As I read about their experiences and look at pictures of places so beautiful I can't believe they really exist, I feel deep pangs of jealousy. Jealous because they have the means to travel. They have the ability to leave without having to worry about seven other lives. And finally, I'm jealous because they are brave enough to go out and do it.

But one of these days, one of these days.

I'll go.


For this mama, turning 13 is bittersweet

My oldest son Noah turned 13 years old last week.

I am now the mother of a teenager.

We've entered teenager land. I won't lie, it's a little intimidating. I don't want to be one of those parents who believe that their great parenting skills are going to carry them through the rough years of adolescence.

Cuz stuff is gonna happen. Its inevitable.

I spent the eve of my son's birthday reading Katie Granju's blog, Mama Pundit and her heartwrenching words about the death of her teenage son Henry, who she lost to drug addiction four months ago. Reading her words felt like I was punched in the stomach. I cried. Hard. I felt an inkling of this woman's pain and it took my breath away.

She is living my worst nightmare.

The way she described her son sounded so much like Noah. He was close to his siblings, he loved to play guitar, he was a person who had deep feelings about life. Like Noah, her son had a lifelong habit of confessing all of his wrong-doings and desperately wanting his parent's understanding and forgiveness.

Needless to say, her words struck a cord with me. For days, I looked over at all the chil'rens and felt this tremendous sense of thankfulness. Thankful that they were all still young, safe, at home with their mama and daddy. I stopped what I was doing and let them ramble on and I didn't rush them to finish their story like I usually do.

To contemplate my oldest stepping over the threshold of manhood is bittersweet. I love that he is growing into a fine young man. But I hate this dark, evil world and all that it can offer. At what point did this woman's son cross over from being an innocent kid to one with an addiction? Can it happen to my own son? How do I prevent it?

The only weapons in my arsenal are these: faith in God--not that being a believer precludes you from any grief but my faith is powerful and it's something I cling to in times of trouble. Prayer. And love. The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins.


Happy birthday, Noah. You mean everything to me.


Missing the afro

I was getting ready to pull out of the parking lot today, when my eye caught a young man getting his daughter out of her carseat. I didn't even look at his face, I was staring at the beautiful, thick black curls he had on his head. The curls weren't long, they were close to his head, but.....sigh, it just made me stare in longing, remembering when my man had curls like that.

He had good hurrrr.

It was thick and luxurious. It was dark. It curled tightly whenever it got longer than an inch. Over the years, he would shave it, fade it, grow it out, rock the curls, dookie braids--he even had dreads for a minute. Then he would comb out the 'fro and shave it all over again.

Would. Was. Past tense.

Sadly, I don't quite remember the last time he was able to grow out a full set of curls. Yeh, the sides would grow out pretty good but the top....well, not so much. We'd laugh because he looked sort of like Krusty the Clown.

Dude, let's face it. We aren't getting any younger. All kinds of funkiness happens. Wrinkles form. Eyelashes fall out (my current dilemma), stuff sags, skin starts to feel like lace--all thin and see-through, hair stops growing in one area but really blossoms in other areas (like the chin and the back).

What's up with that?

All that said, I didn't get to say a proper goodbye to Michael's hair. Had I known that would be the last time he put gel in it (an old tub of gel hibernating under the bathroom sink is like a sad testament), I would have ran my hands through it. I would have smelled it. I would have let him rest his head on my lap and I would have pet him like the family cat.

I would have cherished it, yo.

But alas, it's gone never to return.

I'm sure Michael feels the same way. I'm sure if knew that one day his wife would be able to smuggle five pencils under her shirt, he would have appreciated the girls a little bit more after around baby #4 or so. He could have marveled at my stretchmarkless stomach and kissed my hip bones goodbye because where they were going, there was no turning back. He would've memorialized my two knees.

Maybe even had them bronzed.

I guess you could say this whole aging thing sucks butt. I just never contemplated the effects of growing old. Same goes for my husband--I thought he would always look the way he did when he was 21. Not that the way he looks now is bad. I love his hands. The veins and muscles in his forearms. The gold hair in his goatee. The laugh lines around his eyes. The silver strands at his temples. I love it all.

But that curly hair. That was his thing. All that hair.

So if you're married and you're young, stop and look at your spouse with fresh eyes. Try to memorize and savor every aspect and detail of them. Because you never know how long you have together.

Or how long you have until you both get old and crusty.


Day of the Dead Shoes for Isabelly's birthday

Last weekend was my niece Isabella's birthday. Five years ago, Hungry Sister in Law and I were pregnant at the same time. Then in the first week of August, I gave birth to Xiomara. Two weeks later, I walked into Hungry Sister in Law's apartment, wearing my beautiful, chubby baby in a sling so we could watch her give birth to my niece. It's been fun to have our girls two weeks apart. Last year, Xixi did it up big with Hello Kitty and now this year, it was Isabella's turn.

Who doesn't love a Hello Kitty party?

Since Hungry Sister in Law says I never paint stuff for her kids (eye roll), I planned on painting Isabelly some shoes. I figured she would get a bunch of Hello Kitty stuff, so I wanted to make her something unique. The shoes were soooo tiny because she is soooo tiny, so they were a challenge to paint. Thank God for paint markers. The paint markers were really cool I'm planning on buying a set because it made the process go by much faster, with the same cool results. Only I didn't have to go practically blind with having to paint with a #000 brush.

Day of the Dead calavera with a bow and hearts. I thought the hearts were very 80's.

These shoes were a size 8 in little girls. That is tiny! It was hard to fit the skull on it, but I did it.

A close up on the calavera.

Isabelly was very happy with her shoes!


Being a second class lunch server.

I just recently enrolled Maya and Cyan in school three days a week. It was after a ton of soul searching and the reevaluation of my ideals. Seriously. Don't get me wrong, it was a really hard choice for me. I kept thinking that I was shortchanging my babies and it was my inability to be organized enough that was keeping me from having it all together. But I could no longer adequately teach art once a week, homeschool five of the chil'rens, be a good wifey, blog, do my side projects, maintain mental stability and keep everyone alive on a daily basis.

Something or somebody was bound to fall through the cracks.

And now that Xixi is kindergarten age, I had to add another one to my roster. Which, hellooooo, six chil'rens to homeschool? It's insanity. Just thinking about which curriculum to order, taking attendance, making sure everyone was getting the help they needed...well, it was causing me to get the dry heaves.

I mean, how in the world was I going to do it all? And well?

So I thought a good compromise was to send two of my lovies to a charter school three days a week. This way, they are getting help learning the fundamentals and I can be home tackling the harder subjects with their older brothers. And Xixi, well, she just lays around like the fat, family cat--playing with play-doh, practicing her letters, cutting out shapes and asking me every two seconds, when is Maya gonna be home? I miss my sissy.

We're on week two and we are still alive so halleluyer.

I read this post and immediately started feeling guilty about all the drab lunches I've been packing for them.

You know, like a second-class lunch server.

I mean, how many turkey sandwiches, granola bars, chips and juice pouches can you consume without going crazy up in the lunchroom? Meanwhile, there are mama's who have the presence of mind to cut their cantaloupe into star shapes and to draw happy faces on their pb&j's with a food marker.


It's totally cute. And I'm sure my lovies would be so excited to open up their lunchbags--or bento boxes--to see this, but come on. I just don't think I have it in me. I have my gifts, but clearly this isn't one of them.

I paint creatively, but I cook for survival purposes only.

'Nuff said.

So in my attempt to crank up the lunches this morning, I packed them this: cantaloupe chunks (sorry, but no stars), goldfish crackers (mmmhmmmm, I know--crazy original), lemonade (in a box, not a pouch--wooooow) and a pita with hummus, turkey, lettuce and tomato (here's to hoping the hummus stores well and no one gets salmonella).

I know, you are amazed at my mothering skills.

I'll let ya'll know how this schooling arrangement is working out for us. I really want it to work. Until then, I'll strive to cut their fruit in shapes, roll some swiss cheese around a dill pickle and draw animal faces on their bread. That way, they'll really know that I care.

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