Do you grind your teeth at night? I do!

I have a problem.

I grind my teeth. I've known this for quite some time now. When my dentist mentioned it to me, it was like a light switch turned on. Suddenly, all of the headaches and soreness made sense.

I guess I really don't sleep on a cement pillow.

Apparently, I store up all of my stress and tension in my jaw. I catch myself doing it during the day. When I'm barking orders, dealing with disobedient kids, or contemplating how I'm going to tackle seven loads of laundry, grocery shopping and a messy house in one hundred degree heat--I bite down and bite down hard.

I've bought several mouth guards over the years but they didn't seem to work for me. They always fall out and/or I have a hard time breathing with them (total mouth breather here). They were all over the counter mouth guards because I couldn't afford $350 for a custom guard. I figured it would help my teeth, but it wouldn't correct my habit of clamping my jaw down when I sleep.  So I slacked on the mouth guards until very recently.

Then my teeth started to hurt.

The left side of my mouth, way back in the molars. It was sooo tender, I could barely bite down. Eating became a challenge. Even when I tried to chew on one side--the other side hurt just from the action on biting down. I was miserable--not just from the pain of it, but because I was agonized by the thought that it might get worse.

Just go to the dentist, everyone said.

Easily said when you actually have dental insurance. So I researched non-profit dental groups, low-cost dental plans, dental credit plans--you name it. If there was a dentist's office for freelancing poor people, I was all over it.

In the mean time, I gargled with peroxide (which is sooooo gross and reminded me of gargling with bleach!), brushed diligently and conscientiously, and seriously looked into wearing mouth guards again.

I had this box of Plackers Grind-No-More dental mouthguards in my medicine cabinet, from a dear friend who saw them on clearance at CVS and bought them for me. Now is as good a time as any to try them, I thought. They are small and flimsy but I knew I had to give them a shot. I wore them diligently, maintained my peroxide regimen and guess what?

My teeth don't hurt anymore!

But here's the thing, I'm down to my last three mouthguards. These babies aren't cheap--a small box cost $28!! So, being the cheap poor person that I am, I am treating the last three mouthguards like they were itty bitty babies.

Well, the other night I woke up to discover the mouthguard fell out of my mouth. In the pitch blackness, I searched with my hands all over the bed. Then I enlisted the help of the flashlight on my iPhone. In the sheets. Nothing. Behind the bed. Nothing. On the floor. Nothing. On the chair. Nothing. On the nightstand. Nothing. Under my husband's heavily snoring body. Nothing.

Bummed out, I stumbled over to the bathroom and did my business. As I stood there washing my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror. Then I saw this.

Whew. That was a close one. You know I was cracking up by myself like a crazy person at four in the morning.

No, this isn't a sponsored post. Just sharing my love of temporary mouthguards. Hey, Plackers...hook a sister up.


La Santa Cecilia play the Skirball Sunset Concert series

One of my favorite bands out of L.A. has to be La Santa Cecilia. Whenever someone asks me what kind of music they play, I'm always tongue-tied.

Well, they play Latin rhythms, Mexican melodies, Afro-Cuban percussion mixed with rock and jazz. Oh! And they play kick ass covers of U2, The Beatles, and Bob Marley to name a few.

Michael saw them perform one night while he was out in L.A for the Art Walk. They performed somewhere near Olvera Street. You've got to hear this band! he told me once he got home. I know you'll love them. I looked them up (on Myspace of all places), and fell in love with their music.

Then, my family had the pleasure of watching them perform a few years ago at a Dia de los Muertos festival at a nearby college campus. Ever since then, our entire family became fans (check out Maya's video down below). They are original, unique and their music has the tendency to reach down into your soul. Like their cover of U2's One. I didn't think there was a way to improve that song but they did. Every time I hear Marisoul's voice, I get tears in my eyes.

Out of the blue one day, Michael told me that he remembered a young girl that would sing right there in front of the shops on Olvera Street. He grew up going there with his family. "That's her! That girl was Marisoul!"

La Santa Cecilia perform all over Southern California, and I was super bummed that I missed them play in my hometown back in April, while I was in Mexico. But...they'll be performing tomorrow night at the Summer Concerts at the Skirball Cultural Center, August 23rd at 8:00pm.

Check it out! The location is amazing and so is La Santa Cecilia.

Maya sings La Santa Cecilia from Pearmama on Vimeo.


How my Nana made an impact on my life

This week marks the time my Nana Honey would've celebrated her 83rd birthday. I always think of her, even though she's been gone for nearly sixteen years now. She had one of those endings where she was in hospice on a bed in her daughter's home, surrounded by family. We all had the chance to tell her how much we loved her, long before her body began to shut down and she lost her ability to see and speak. It was a beautiful way to go.

During her birthday week, I often reflect on this sweet woman (hence the nickname, Honey). I have so many of my childhood memories that involved my Nana. Wherever she was meant we were home after my parent's divorced and life was unsure. She had a way of making her home a place where everyone wanted to be, sitting around her and tasting her delicious food. She had these fluffy, soft arms that everyone loved to touch and marvel at their squishiness.

When I was a teenager, she was the buffer between my mother and I. Whenever my mom would crack down on me, bless her heart, my Nana would always protect me. Not that my mother was mean, but she held a high standard and she was very vocal about it. It felt good knowing that my Nana loved me enough to speak up on my behalf. I'll always love her for that.

My Nana grew up living next door to the boy that would eventually be her husband! They went on to have seven children--four sons and three daughters. My mother is the classic middle child.

This is a favorite photo of my Nana because she is beautiful, stylish and curvy.
I posted this photo on my Facebook wall and tagged all my family members in it, so we could share our memories of her. I began to notice a familiar thread about our memories.  Despite having such a large number of grandchildren (twenty-five at the time),  she loved us all and we felt adored by her. I don't have memories of my Nana showering me with gifts or taking me to special places. That wasn't it. I think we all felt so special by her was because she simply let us dwell with her, and we worked, ate, slept, served, and worshipped alongside her. She didn't remove herself from us just because we were children, and there were so many of us. She lived her life, and she let us be right by her side where she was free to love us and let us know how special we were to her.

Me and my Nana Honey, sometime in the late 70's.

She was highly regarded, honored, loved and cherished by us all.  I don't think she had an inkling of how great her impact was on all of our lives. I'm always encouraged, thinking of my own family and what my future as a grandmother will look like. It's not just about cooking, cleaning, and making sure your child's homework is completed. It goes much deeper than that. How you live and dwell with your family will influence many generations after you are done walking this Earth. Our role as wife and mother and grandmother is important--no, it's vital. Don't forget that. Don't waste whatever opportunities you have to positively affect your family.

 This is what my Nana Honey taught me.  A woman as precious and sweet as her nickname.


DIY Framed Chalkboard Door

The beauty of being married to an artist whose industry happens to be murals, signs and faux finishing is that when you want something painted on the walls, all you have to do is ask.

Which I often do, with the sweetest voice and smile. Honey, I want a chalkboard painted frame in the kitchen, I mentioned one day. Like so many other Pinterest-addicted people, I've seen all those fab chalkboard frames.

Totes cute.

But I wanted to go one further. I wanted a giant framed chalkboard. On the door.  Big. I imagined our menus scrawled on the wall. My daughter's drawings. Love notes.

Inspired by a carved turquoise framed magnet board I already own, I hatched a plan. I knew my husband Michael could do it because he's done it before. Also, because he is disgustingly talented (go and "Like" him on Facebook, would you please!) He took a plain door in our kitchen that leads to the garage and created a faux wood grain. Every time someone came over, they really thought it was a wood door. But alas, it was definitely time for a change.

Was I intimidated that we would have to start a project in the middle of our kitchen? Are you kidding me? We've been doing this since the chil'rens were in diapers. Just slide the paint brushes and the paint water to the side so you can have your snack, baby. We've learned to continue living in the midst of our art projects.

Then again, I knew it wouldn't take very long to do so the interruption would be minimal. My husband is an incredibly fast painter. All those years of hanging from buildings and freeway signs trained him to work fast.

But wouldn't you know...this took a little longer than usual. Turns out, I'm a picky client. I'm difficult to work with. I'm one of those customers that wants it just so.

You'd think he'd be used to it by now. Heh.

This was my faux-wood grain door being buffed with primer.

He has to work with headphones on. Apparently, we are a really loud family.

I said I wanted an ornate style design for the frame. He did this freehand. Isn't he disgustingly talented?

He was going to freehand the lines but my anal retentiveness won. TAPE IT!! I yelled.
We used Nova Color paint for the "faux" frame and this chalkboard paint by Rust-oleum for the functional chalkboard.

I knew the frame would have to be the color turquoise. It went perfectly with my salmon colored walls. Sorry, but every time I photograph my kitchen it ends up looking yellow.

Xixi has had a blast drawing on it everyday.

Wouldn't you know, the chil'rens held me to every.single.part of this menu. "You said we're gonna get guacamole and chips!!" Sigh. 

I'm sooo in love with it. It looks amazing and the color goes so well with the rest of my kitchen. Thank you, honey! Oh, and one last thing...

Wow, can you believe it? I've been blogging for over six years now! I couldn't have done it without all of you amazing humans that pop in to read what's going on in my part of the world. So again, thank you.

Here is to the next 1000 posts!!


When your baby is no longer a baby

My youngest child turned seven.

I'm in disbelief. I have heart palpitations. It can't be.

When all of my babies were babies, and I was fighting to keep my head above water, I couldn't conceive of them growing older. I always imagined I would have little people underfoot.

And now Xiomara--the "baby" of the family--is seven years old. Seven years ago, I was writhing in pain, just about ready to have my sixth child. I can't do this again, I thought to myself in between contractions. Never again. The pain took my breath away. But once she was out, all wet warm skin and chubby neck, I forgot all about the pain.

I just buried my face in her soft skin and enjoyed my daughter. Now, seven.

Seven was a hugely pivotal year for me. I turned seven and everything changed. I can't imagine Xixi's life taking a similar turn. Her life is simple and she is content. She is also a sassy little thing. Pretty much everything is said with a hand on her hip.

She had a day filled with family, Panera, shopping, frozen yogurt, swimming and having fun. She is a happy girl. I hope she stays that way.

Happy birthday, baby girl.


My phone number had a past life

Do you remember when phones were as big as murder weapons?
Inheriting a person's phone number is like inheriting a piece of their life.

I got a new phone with a new number a while back. The man who had my number before was named Larry. Larry wasn't too big on paying his bills. How do I know this? Well, I had creditors and law firms calling everyday. When I tried to explain that the number no longer belonged to Larry, and could you please remove the number from your call list, they got an attitude. Like I was hiding Larry up in my attic and screening his phone calls or something.

Larry had a gambling problem. And a woman problem. He was also a deadbeat dad. He had issues. Which I seemed to inherit on my sweet little iPhone, who never hurt nobody. One day,  I had a voicemail from an elderly woman. She had a sweet little Southern twang in her voice, and the call was from an area code I have never seen before. It was on Easter.

Larry, this your mother now. [If you're reading this in the voice of one of the maids from The Help, then you are on the right track] You need to stop that gamblin' and all this foolishness. You need to get your life right. You need to go back to church, make it right with Jesus. The babies are fine, they stayin' with me. But you need to call Loretta. Your family needs a father, your wife needs a husband. I'm too old to be doin' this. I'm praying for you, Larry.

And I was like, I'm praying for you too, Larry. You better get yo life right!

He sounded like he was on a really destructive road--what kind of man abandons his family and leaves them for his mother to care for? After a while, I knew not to answer certain numbers that called. Every week, without fail, I would get a voicemail from Antioch Baptist church. The pre-recorded message talked about their upcoming men's breakfast, their Wednesday night Bible study, their fundraiser that was paying for a new balcony, a bake sale, etc. I mean, I probably knew what was going on at that church more than my own. Michael would laugh at me.

You are so nosy! he'd say.

So today, after I got my weekly Church of Antioch voicemail, I decided to Google them. I knew the second the woman answered the phone, that she was the one who made the messages. I'd recognize that smooth, honeyed voice anywhere. She took my number down and apologized for any inconvenience.

And that was that. They've been calling my number for the past seven months. Can you believe that? Seven months. And all it took was a Google search.

I'm still praying for you, Larry.

Image source: Esparta / Flickr
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