Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Food from La Posta

And just because I felt like they deserved a post all on their own, here's two pictures of some of the yumminess from La Posta (yeah, yeah, yeah...sometimes it's ok to indulge!)
The California Burrito (yes, those are fries in there) - About $5
The Carne Asada French Fries - I think it was $4.95 (no we couldn't finish it!)
And for grins no post is complete w/o a picture of the baby. =) She's like Audrey II the talking plant on Little Shop of Horrors, "Feed Me, Seymour!" You see how she's focused on the food? Mmmm...yeah, I get that look on my face too!

San Diego Zoo and Lost in La Posta


After training today, we headed on over to the world famous San Diego Zoo. I'd not been there since I was about 9 years old, so this was quite a treat! It was a weird feeling walking through the gates remembering bits and pieces of it. I wanted to go and see the koala bears, but we didn't get to make it. I was excited, however, that I remember the flamingos and sure enough, they were still there at the entrance like they'd been so long ago. It had me wondering how long a flamingo lived. It was a day of daring feats for me. I went to visit the gorilla area. Years before, I'd been terrified that it was going to grab me and take me away. Some of it probably could've been attributed to my sister telling me that they were going to kidnap me and keep me. There I go again, taking things too literally.
I had the most fun while we were walking through the aviary areas. I loved being inside these ginormous bird cages and didn't at all feel like they were going to attack me like they do in a really bad B movie. Plus, my camera cooperated the best at that time because it loved the lighting! I did too! I found a ledge to balance it on and posed our little group, set the timer, and took a self portrait. I'm certain we probably could've found someone to snap our photo, but I do enjoy playing with the timer function!
Anyway, to get from one end of the park to the other, you could ride these sky gondolas. We'd paid extra for a premium ticket which included it in the price, so I figured why not. I'll do my very best to not pee on myself for being a 'fraidy-cat of heights. I preoccupied myself with my camera and snapping pictures so I wouldn't focus on looking down. It was quite a sight to see everything from high up and I did muster up enough courage to be daring enough to actually look down and not through my camera lens. It was spectacular.


Anyway, I enjoyed every minute of it and even though I was totally and completely exhausted, I was on such a high from the whole day. Afterwards, we went to this quaint little taco stand out in Hillcrest. I was in awe by how hopping that area of town was. There were so many colorful people walking the streets, and why wouldn't they? It was absolutely gorgeous outside. I was immediately struck by the diversity of people: young and old, gay and straight, hippie and yuppie, high falutin' and homeless, and black-white-brown-all the colors in between. And the food! OMG...ridiculously delicious and inexpensive. Don and I were prepared to eat a decent meal for $20. We weren't, however, prepared to eat ourselves into a mexican food coma. Whoa! Mari caught the fever and devoured about half an avocado's worth of guacamole! LOL. She's such a good eater, just like her father.
Anyway, that was our first full day in San Diego.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

off in San Diego...

but I'm handwriting my adventures to share. I'll transpose them over the weekend, filled with plenty of pics!

Monday, July 28, 2008

There is Plenty of Good in the World

I stare at my darling daughter and sometimes I can't help but feel guilty that I brought her into a dark and dreary world. There is so much more to worry about than when I was kid, but then again, that's the cycle of life, right? We as humans power right on through the bad.

I know good still exists in this world.

I’m saddened to think that Mari will grow up in a world where respect and manners aren’t something taught from the very beginning. I assure you, though, in our household, they will be made a priority. She will not have a mother who is a homemaker. It is very real that it may be quite the contrary. But I will pledge to teach her the importance of homemade elegance. My grandmother taught me to sew, crochet, and embroider. My mother taught me to cook, but most importantly, she fueled that ever burning imagination. I promise to do my very, very best to tickle that young mind’s creativity. I believe it is so very important to be able to express one self. Sometimes I do it in writing, but most other times it comes out in what I create: greeting cards, hand painted dishware or pots, and yes, even hand sewn clothing.

On the way to work, I was listening to NPR, like I normally do. On it, they had a spotlight on a man who had emigrated from Iraq to Florida. He found himself without a job, but very skilled at computer programming. They’d featured his story and a man and his business partner in Billings, Montana mulled it over and wanted to reach out to help this man. They felt a calling towards him and immediately k,new they could offer him a better life. They contacted him and offered him a job. He took the position and shortly thereafter, found himself living in Montana; a far cry from the 7 million strong that he was familiar with in Baghdad. His new employer reached out to him like an older brother. They became fast friends and eventually, his mother and sister came to live with him. They were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. They had a paid family gym membership, donated furnishings, and when their story was featured on the local news, several gift cards to Wal-mart and Costco poured in. It warmed my heart to hear this story, especially to know that we all have it within ourselves to be generous and give of ourselves. So I asked myself, Bianca, do you live by this example?

Yesterday, I had a lengthy conversation with my father. I admire my father for the obvious reasons and for the not so obvious reasons, unless you grew up in the Valenciano household. Now that I’m older and a parent, I can appreciate the things he provided for us, but also for not GIVING us just anything. He instilled values in us that went unseen until now. My mother has an outward faith that is completely and totally incredible. She lives by the Word. We went to church every Sunday, without fail. We never missed Sunday school and we were actively involved in the youth group. There were times where I didn’t want to wake up to go to church. I didn’t feel like volunteering, but my mother or father were always there to give us a stern look to put us back in line. We recently met a young fabulous couple at our church. It was fanciful happenstance: There we were on the side of the Atrium where families with young children gather to fold little babies into their carriers. There is more room over there since there’s plenty of seating and surface area to balance the car seat, diaper bag, purse, stroller (you parents know what I mean). Anyway, we found ourselves over there and he made a friendly comment about it being the baby loading zone. We had a nice chuckle and for whatever reason, we commented back and lingered back to chat for about 20 minutes. Both Don and I are horrible with names, so we knew once we got back to the car, we’d forget their names. Sure enough, we did. A couple of weeks went by before we went back to that mass. We’d traveled out of town, and then we had other plans so we either had to go earlier or later, in any case we missed them. But during mass, I glanced back to look for her. She’d mentioned that she needed a nook to go nurse her darling daughter and I knew of just the place because it wasn’t so long ago that Mari was pretty much nursing on demand. Anyway, there they were and I was excited to talk to them. I guess you could say that I’d developed a mommy crush on this woman. [mommy crush-far from a romantic crush, it is a sort of fondness and appreciation for a person; a mother you’d like to get to know better.] After mass, once again we were chatting with them for another 30 minutes catching up and what not. They’d made the decision to baptize her daughter , so I politely asked for their names again (and it wasn’t awkward!) and wrote it down this time, along with the date.

Fast forward to yesterday and that was the day. I packed my camera to get the pictures for them, in the event that a member of their family wasn’t in the proper position. We were running late, of course! It wasn’t because we didn’t get up earlier either. The culprit, our air conditioning went out! I felt at a loss for words, but I said a small prayer and told the Lord that I knew we’d get through it. We recently discussed our finances and what we could do to get things in order, especially with childcare immediately around the corner. This expense was not something we had budgeted and we were a little hesitant. Worst case scenario, we’d have to buy a whole new unit, several thousands of dollars. We agreed that if quote repair came back at a certain number, we were going to wait and just run to Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy a portable a/c unit. Of course, the repairman would call while we were en route to mass. I told Don to turn around, to fix the a/c unit, but I’d go on ahead. By the time I arrived, mass had already begun and I had to wait in the atrium with Mari. SCORE! The front row by the baptismal font was empty. After the second reading, I went right on through to the first row and settled in. I made sure the camera was on and even took some test shots. I thank the Lord that Mari was very, very good. She only fussed slightly, but during the actual baptism, she became so fascinated by all the children who had gathered around (at our church it is a tradition to invite all of the children to sit close to watch it all, that way they aren’t craning their necks to see what is going on). I happily snapped a few pictures and enjoyed the rest of the mass. I prayed and reflected a lot.

I greeted our friends on the way out and congratulated them. I could tell they were so very happy. They invited us over to their house to celebrate. While I had another busy, busy day planned already, I made a mental note to make it a priority to head over there after the bridal shower. (Lucky that I was able to escape the shower a little early to go to their celebration.) Sure enough, we headed on over and thought that at most we’d spend an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Just over two hours later, we were saying our goodbyes.

It was then that I arrived home and lingered in the front yard to finish up my conversation with my father. I was thankful to him for teaching us about faith. Especially for him to make a priority to ALWAYS live the example, supporting it with anecdotes from our upbringing. God always has a plan in place for you. While you may not always agree with the path in which you get there, it is the bumps and detours along the way that not only build character, but create an appreciation that must be experienced firsthand. So now I know it is my job to encourage my daughter and teach her these values and the importance for practicing them. When she becomes of age, it will be up to her to make the ultimate decision where her path will lead her, but her decision will not be a forced or uneducated one.

That’s why I do what I do. I give back to the community where I can, when I can. In what ways do you give back, or better yet, in what ways are you the change you want to see in the world?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Avocado, Canapes, Vichyssoise, and Tabouli

Yesterday, Primo Jefe had his mad culinary skills on display at Le Cordon Bleu's Grand Buffet. At the end of each session/class they put these skills to the test and invite their families and friends out to showcase what they've learned.

(forewarning: I'm a dope and forgot the memory card to my camera, so not the first time that's happened...sorry Brother for missing the graduation shot! Anyway, the card was at home in the computer's memory slot from the photo session earlier in day of me and my Beloved...and if you are lucky, I just might post my favorite photo here.)

Wow...that was quite a long-winded aside, huh? ANYWAY...the only downside (yeah, I know, we get invited to enjoy deliciously amazing fancy food and I'm the one who has to be the downer, my bad!) is that it was at 10PM. Normally, before Mari, that wouldn't have been quite an issue. See, before Mari, I normally went to bed somewhere between midnight and two. Before Mari, I didn't have fantasies of running for hours on end in a strange city in the middle of Autumn. Before Mari, I hadn't quite committed myself to many things (yes, yes, I know some of you readers out there...ahem, Trish...are shaking your heads thinking, "No way, Bianca! You're always on the go and you're always hella busy." But I would have to disagree because I'm actually about 3.3 times as busy as I was before Mari.) Soooo...with that said, I was giddy with excitement that I couldn't pause for a nap like I was supposed to. I couldn't even focus long enough on Big Love to finish the episode and it was a good one too! I just sat there bouncing around (probably had something to do with that espresso shot I had in the Vivanno from SBUX earlier). Don was out in the yard doing his man-chores [man-chore: any chore done by Don that I don't do, more specifically, anything having to do with the outdoors b/c I'm incredibly allergic to all things outdoor, as well as anything involving heights or sharp objects.], so I opted to go take Guapo for a walk. Yes, it was as hot outside! Mari was on the brink of a nap and I didn't want to have to balance the stroller and the leash, so I busted out my Moby. I've been doing the hip hold for the past week and so far no complaints. I put her in the sling and grabbed the leash and Guapo eagerly headed straight to the door for his walk. Mid-way in our 1 mile walk, Guapo turned his cute little head, tongue nearly dragging on the pavement, willing me to turn the corner to go home. I just shrugged my shoulders at him and said, "It's up to you, buddy. You're the one who hasn't pooped. If you want to turn the corner, you can." Seriously, he looked like he was going to roll his eyes at me, but snobbishly turned his head back and kept walking. Meanwhile, Mari just hung out in the Moby, petting my ribbed tank top. Poor baby was sweating, but I could see the droopy eyes starting to get heavier with each step. By the 3/4 mile mark, she was fast asleep and Guapo was in full on walk mode, focused to get home and rest on the cool concrete. He seemed happy enough, though. I was happy too. I really enjoy walking in the neighborhood, waving at neighbors, admiring their gardens as I tell myself, someday...someday.

When I got home, I snapped some pics of sleeping Mari in the Moby. I was using my fancy-schmancy, yeah, not really...ok, ok, my handy-dandy remote for my camera. It was fun! No more running to get in position for the timer! Woohoo! Don walked in and we set Mari in her crib to take a few shots of us. Ooooh! I LOVED how those shots came out. Very artistic and I just may blow one up to frame it in our bedroom. Anyway, we gingerly lazied around yapping about our day. I must say, I look forward to this time of day every day. I love waking up next to my Beloved. I love kissing Mari goodbye, especially when she's fast asleep and no telling what position I'll find her in. I love massaging Guapo in the morning as he stares back at me with those adorable brown eyes. I love coming home and being greeted by a huge kool-aid Mari smile when she sees me. But I really appreciate the dialogue that Don and I share day-in and day-out. I love that I can chat with him about everything and nothing. I rush to get everything out to him lest I forget any important details. But seriously, it is so very special to me that we make that time for one another.


Anyway, time flew by and off we were prepping to go to the Grand Buffet. When we arrived, I couldn't find Primo anywhere. So we inadvertently gave ourselves the grand tour of Le Cordon Bleu. It was an educating experience. Never before had I considered that a cooking school would be set up much like a traditional school. Duh, Bianca. School is school is school. Anyway, we just followed our noses, and the other people not in chef's jackets and hats, and found the proper room. In the room adjacent to that one, Simon was fast and furiously putting on the final touches to his vichyssoise and tabouli. He gave us a couple of samples and it was delicious. A bit on the heavy cream side, but then again, isn't that the way it was supposed to be?

The thing about his cooking is that he always adds that one special touch that you wouldn't expect from a dish and it makes it BETTER! His canape was on a regular piece of bread, with prosciutto and melon, but the marscapone had a hint of tobasco sauce and WOW!!! No really, wow was all I could say. One of his classmates had made these fabulous Rueben sandwiches. Those of you that know me well, know that I HEART Rueben sandwiches. The bar was set high on this for me and when I tasted his, I was in heaven. So much so that I not only went back for seconds, but I also had thirds. (yeah, yeah, that's gonna hurt the next time I run, but it was worth it!)

So as we were weaving through the buffet line, Mari was in total visual sensation overload. Baby must've been hungry, because she kept reaching out for everything I put on my plate. She successfully took hold of the vichyssoise and tabouli and immediately shoved the bits into her mouth. No funny faces, nope. She actually reached out for more. I had to quickly put my plate out of sight for her. Instead, I gathered up some avocados, mashed them, and finger fed them to her. She was totally into it! I gave her more and if there was a lapse in my timing of feeding her, she vocally showed her displeasure in a series of I-want-it-now-Mommy grunts, only to be satisfied with another serving of the green fruit. She was wearing her little black dress bib which was made to look like she was wearing a black dress with pearls on it. I thought it was cute! Oh, and there was dessert too! My favorite was this orange fruit tart. Mmm...the oranges were so plump and fresh and the crust was an absolute perfectly sweet compliment to the citrus.

It was knocking on 11PM and I knew I was riding on "E" as far as energy level. I hugged Simon goodbye and we headed home. I kept chatting to stay awake and as soon as we got home, I hit the crash button. I stayed up long enough to notice that Mari was up and at 'em wanting to wrestle and play. So I humored her and played for five minutes. She was covering me with sloppy, drooly baby kisses and I loved it. I fell asleep with a fabulous smile on my face. Ahhh...midnight already. What a great start to Friday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Martha

Here is my poor attempt at creating a beautiful ginormous cupcake for my friend's birthday today at work. I so wanted it to be fully of whimsy and fun. I struggled making it the proper shade of green, so I gave up and opted for turquoise. BAD IDEA! I threw my arms up and said whatever. I cleared out my red food coloring in the icing cup and voila: purple gray. In real life, though, it's actually blueberry purple (hence the blueberries on the bottom to off-set the the color imbalance.

Oh well, it tasted pretty good. Not dry at all. I tried a new recipe for Classic French White cake. The batter was fantastic! When it came out of the oven it smelled heavenly. And then I had to go and ruin it all by attempting poorly to frost it. It's been more than 20 years since I've taken a cake decorating class and I think it is time that I do that...especially since I'll probably be making Mari's cakes as she grows up. Otherwise, I better start salting money away for those delicious Sprinkles cupcakes! I just hope my cake doesn't end up on this site.

For those of you interested, this is the look I WAS going for. Ho hum...I guess cake decorating is NOT my forte. Primo, can you help me out???

Monday, July 21, 2008

in awe

Because I'd gotten enough rest yesterday, I was rather alert (and surprisingly not grumpy) this morning when Mari woke up. She let me sleep in and didn't start stirring until 6:30 to be fed. I nursed her and afterwards held her body tightly in my arms. She's always been so loveable and huggable, but lately it seems like she's "hugging" back. She grips a little tighter and will wriggle in my arms making herself comfortable until she finds the right spot. When I'm laying down, and I find that perfect spot, I call it my angel spot because I feel so safe and comfortable like I'm in the arms of an angel. Seeing the utter look of relaxation on her face, I know when Mari finds her "angel spot." Most times, when she's fighting the sleep, she'll look up at me with those beautiful hazel eyes and just stare. It's a calm inquisitive stare. Her tiny hands explore my face, like a blind person seeing me for the first time. It's very serene and gentle and it is these exact moments that melt my heart and make it oh-so-difficult to leave for work, go to sleep, or let her out of my sight for even a moment.

We were rocking gently and I was just stroking her hair when she got up, stared at me and spit her paci out. She was upset and unhappy. I don't know what caused her reaction. I tried putting her paci back in and she literally shoved my hand out of the way. In the past, she's moved her head from side-to-side or flailed her arms about, but this time, she did it with purpose. I got a little teary-eyed thinking to myself, "wow, when did she learn how to do that?" And then she nuzzled deeper in my arms, and in my awe, I'd relaxed my arm and with her little hand, she reached out, and grabbed the paci out of my hand and put it in her mouth. Again, another thing she'd never done. She had such control. There was no hesitation, no shake, just reached out, took it and soothed herself. Within milliseconds she was fast asleep. I rocked her for a few moments longer and placed her in the crib. (OMG...it kills me to do that and it takes everything in me to walk away. It's like when I was a kid and I had to get a tooth pulled, I was like just do it. Quick and fast and then I'd walk away and pretend like there was no pain, even though there is pain. But I adore my job and I love that Mari is gaining the necessary independence she needs to grow.)
Anyway, she does exactly like Mommy...wants to sleep on her belly. I put her in there and she'll roll over to her side, then finally on her belly. It doesn't matter how many times I move her to go to her side, she will always go to her belly. I'll put things in her way so she won't roll over, but she'll roll on top of them, wrestle them down and sleep on top of them if she has to. Her hands also have to be touching something. Here she is in her crib. You can see Sock Zebra underneath her. He starts out next to her, but she'll roll over on top of him if necessary and stretch out her left hand to touch Ty. Ty is my teddy bear that My Michael gave to me when we were growing up. Ty has very, very, very special meaning to me and instead of seeing him on the shelf, I've placed him in Mari's crib. She loves wrestling with Ty, holding onto his leg, and running her fingers over his outside to feel the texture. Anyway, this is the way she sleeps. Every night, in the crib, on her belly. I'll cover her up with her blanket and even put socks on her at night so she won't get cold, but it doesn't matter. She'll roll over, kick the blanket off, and have at least one sock kicked off, if not both.
It is so hard to believe how much she's growing and changing. It really is remarkable! When I get home from work, I'll remark on something and tell Don, "Quick, quick, come see this!" I'm overly excited and he'll come and let me have my moment of oh-wow-she's-the-smartest-kid-ever-because-she-did-______. I know, though, that he's probably already seen the trick and I'm jealous, but I'm glad he humors me and plays along and lets me have my mommy moment. I'm lucky to have a wonderful partner and friend who is THAT understanding of my quirks. I'm doubly lucky to have this opportunity to be a mother. I'm so glad that God blessed me with Mari.

Happy Birthday Danika & Grandma!

I got up relatively early considering the marathon of a day I had. I was up and at 'em by 8. I made myself some cereal, uploaded pictures from the previous day, then put on Big Love to watch while Don and Mari slept. Guapo and I cuddled while I caught up on the episode that I'd fallen asleep on. I hadn't missed much. Then, Don awoke and we watched the last episode on that DVD. We had to pause it intermittently because Mari was fussing. I finally just said, you know what, we're going to give her the gripe water and prune juice. I was really getting worried!


I'd even taught Don the "sana, sana" song with the hopes that if both of us rubbed her belly while saying "sana, sana, colita de rana" she'd feel better. After the prune juice bottle, she was still hungry, so Don made her a small formula bottle. (I couldn't nurse her since I'd was out of milk from the earlier feeding.) Right before he fed it to her, he said, "Now if I give you this, you're gonna have to promise you're going to poop." She let out a classic Mari giggle and reached for the bottle. Moments after finishing it, we heard a grumbling going on in her diaper and we both looked at each other then down at her. I haven't been happier about poop in my life! We waited until she was finished, put the show on pause, and decided it best if it were a tandem changing effort. OMG...this was the first time that I'd actually gagged from her diaper. Wow! No seriously, wow! I just unsnapped the G Diaper liner and tossed the ENTIRE thing. No cleaning necessary because it was B-A-D!! ha ha ha...we asked for it, right? We went back to finish the show and realized that we were already 10 minutes late for mass! Dangit! So we made plans to go at 5PM. Mari was about to doze off, so I checked movie times and we flew to the movie theater to catch the 11:40 showing of The Dark Knight.
We show up and they are sold out! Man!! But she did say that they were seating for the 12:50 showing. We opted to risk it. We knew it was a 2.5 hour movie, and it was just under an hour before it would start. Who knows, though, maybe she'll sleep through a lot of it. We had a few bottles, regardless, so that's ok. Yes, yes, we're THOSE parents. Whatever. We sat in the back near the exit and we even had our own personal nook to stand up and bounce with her. She did surprisingly well. She woke up as the movie started (wouldn't you know it!). We gave her a bottle and Don rocked her back to sleep. She stayed fast asleep for about another half an hour before she was up again. We bounced some more and she seemed to enjoy the movie. Everything was fine until the loud explosion noises. This time, I left the theater to console her. After 5 minutes she was back to regular Mari, and I went back in. I wasn't feeling bad, because this man behind us kept sawing logs something fierce. Seriously, dude? My kid is crying and has the excuse of being a baby, what about you? This is NOT a movie where you would fall asleep! Wow. Anyway, she did shriek at the sight of one of the characters. A part of me winced when I saw the make-up job. It freaked me out a bit too! I just held her tight and realized that she is well aware of what is going on. Moments later, she was fighting me to look back at the screen because she wanted to know what was going to happen. We let her gnaw on some pizza crust (we went to Studio Movie Grill for the showing too). Shortly after that, she was back to being asleep. We finished the movie up and she got up when we were packing her back into the carrier.
As far as the movie, wow. It is incredible. It was 2.5 hours long of eye candy buffet. I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E!!! Go see it now! I want to go to the DLP theater and watch it all over again. I hate that Heath Ledger did such an amazing job and he won't be doing any more films. There was a great deal of sadness when I would think of that. Anyway, if you like action and the psychology of how characters develop, then this is a great film!
And when we got home, we were welcomed by another poopy diaper. This time, we gave her a full on bath in her little bathtub and she actually liked it! We scrubbed her nice and clean. I love the way she smells after a bath.
Oh and I forgot to mention that she's been so active lately and she's so strong that she's managed to escape out of her little play area. The wall is about 6 inches high, but that doesn't stop her. She knows how to crawl over things and climb about. This little one is definitely a mover!
Anyway, we missed the 5PM mass. I was totally zonked. I guess the weekend caught up with me. Mari was fussy, I was cranky, so Don put us both down and I slept for nearly 2 hours. Mari was asleep for about as long. I got up feeling refreshed! I made dinner, we went for a walk, I burned a couple of photo CDs and then went back to bed. Mari and I were still exhausted after the long weekend, but it was all worth it and fun. I can't wait for the next weekend!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Survived

Today was a hella busy day. I know I usually say I'm busy, but today I was in it for the long haul.


At 6:30 I woke up and nursed Mari. After I rocked her back to sleep, I quickly got dressed to go on my big run. Today was going to be my longest run. I'd mentally prepared for it the night before. My plan was to run a solid 10 miles, hopefully having 13 total (as per the training guidelines). I didn't so much as want to run for distance as time. I wanted to run a solid 2 hours straight before having to really stop. At 10 to 7 I was ready to go. Don had mentioned wanting to run at least a mile with me in one direction, then turn back to make his run 2 miles total, but when I was ready to leave, he was passed out. I didn't want to disturb him, so I just gently kissed him goodbye and took off.


6:59 and I set my timer. Off I went. Surprisingly, it wasn't as hot as I thought it would be. It felt cool in some spots and I had an awesome breeze for 75% of the run. For about a mile, though, I was totally exposed to the sun with no shade and no breeze, running up hill. That was brutal, but I survived. Best of all, I made it to 11 miles before I had to really stop! I did have to pause a few stops along the way because I caught the red light or simply because I ran out of water (thanks Hayley for letting me stop by your house to refill!). I was a little more than half a mile away from home when my left foot was on fire. That blister on the pad was having it no more. I stopped to take my shoe off to see how bad the damage was and it wasn't as ugly as it felt. But it did warrant me to quit jogging and walk that last bit. I felt like I hadn't really finished, but it was good because I needed the cool down. I felt so accomplished afterwards!


When I got home, Don and I obsessed about Mari. She hadn't pooped, despite our best efforts of giving her prune juice. I did some research and made a plan to pick up some gripe water later on. Then, I had to run by Target to pick up a gift for the party we were going to attend later. Sidenote: I thought the party started at 1 and not 11. We were late for this party and I felt bad because I was going to help her set up! I'm the worst...hanging my head in shame. Anyway, I picked up the goods and headed home. Prepped everything and we were off.
We arrived at noon, which I originally thought was an hour early, but come to find out, was an hour late. Oh well. We all had a great time. After her initial shock of the cool water, she acclimated and seemed to like it. she was actually kicking around in the pool and splashing the water. I immediately picked up my camera and started snapping shots for them. It was so much fun! Don ended up leaving with some bruises and knots from wrestling around in the water, but I'm glad that he had a load of fun!
Later, I dropped off Mari and Don at the house so they could rest and I headed South to hang with Lindsey and baby Hayden. OMG...he's gotten so big! I was kicking myself for not having taken the camera. We were able to hang around for a couple of hours before I had to be home. I missed our girl time. We went to the mall to window shop and eat a yummy chocolate icing filled cookie cup from Great American Cookie. Mmmmm...delish, even though I did get the stank eye from a lady who wanted to cut in line!
I bid adieu to Lindsey and headed back home to do a quick change to go to the soccer game. Ada's brother Ugo was in town and we try to make the trip up there to go and support him. We loaded up the car and swung by to get Camille, then headed to the FC Dallas v. Colorado Rapids game. It was brilliant. Mari did a great job, even though crowd noises scared her a tiny bit! The canon really jarred her, but she wasn't inconsolable. She actually became quite immune to it, so it warmed my heart that she could adapt so well. Mari met Ugo after the game. He even held her and she was just like, whatever. (Thanks again for the tickets!!!) I have fond memories of going to the FC Dallas games to watch Ugo play. I've seen him grow up into this amazing player and I absolutely love hanging out with Ada and her family. The game ended in a tie and I was PARCHED!
On the way home, we swung by Walgreens to pick up the gripe water. Still no poop! :(
I was flat out exhausted and beat, but was very, very happy with all that I'd done for the day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Protect our Kids!

I received this in an email and felt it warranted a blog post of its very own. And yes, this is for real! Thanks for reading. To learn about some of the harmful effects of phthalates click here.

*************************************************************************
It was more than a year ago that we first began to see the reports about the millions of toys recalled for toxic lead and other hazards. The news was shocking, and we weren't alone in calling on Congress to take swift action to protect our kids.

But more than a year later -- despite the outcry, despite the clear need for reform -- Congress hasn't delivered a bill to make toys safer.

And you won't believe what's holding it up now:
ExxonMobil, the world's richest oil company, is standing in the way. Why? The company wants to kill a provision that would ban toxic phthalates from plastic toys. ExxonMobil just happens to be one of the largest manufacturers of that chemical.

Unbelievable.

Please sign our letter to the congressional leadership. Tell them to stand up to ExxonMobil and deliver a toy safety bill that really protects our kids:
http://www.uspirg.org/action/product-safety/toy-safety-bill?id4=ES

After 45 million children's products were pulled from store shelves in 2007, I can hardly believe that we're still waiting for Congress to act.

Earlier this year, both the House and Senate passed a version of a bill to improve toy safety. But now, as the final bill is being hammered out, ExxonMobil has joined forces with the toy industry and the chemical industry in an all out attempt to weaken this bill.

And with precious little time left to pass a strong bill -- Congress will recess in August -- ExxonMobil just might get its way. That is, unless we can keep the pressure on Congress to deliver the strong toy safety bill they've promised.

Help us make it happen. Please sign our letter to congressional leadership:
http://www.uspirg.org/action/product-safety/toy-safety-bill?id4=ES

Then, send this message to a few friends and ask them to take action, too.

Let's make sure when it comes to toy safety, Congress sides with America's children, not with Exxon Mobil.


Sincerely,

Joe Rupp
TexPIRG Citizen Outreach Director
JoeR@texpirg.org
http://www.TexPIRG.org

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fun new tool

For people like me who'd rather digitally scrapbook (despite owning a ridicuolous amount of REAL scrapbooking things), I came upon this neat-o tool by Scrapblog. Best of all, it's free! This is what I made:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hi-ho hi-ho, My New Lens and I Will Go

Thanks to my friends for getting together this year and pitching in to get me gift cards towards a new lens. Saturday, I jetted off to make the purchase. I'd done some research on the lenses, but not as much as I probably should have. I really wanted a fish eye lens because I think the effects are really great. When I walked into Wolf Camera, the lady told me that she didn't have any for Canon (bummer!), but there were other lenses I should consider. I looked at 3 total and picked a winner! And so what do I do as soon as I get it? Run out and play with it, of course!!!! (Mari loves striped socks! I love that she loves striped socks. She's definitely like momma!)

Lucky for me, my cousin was in town with some friends and they begrudingly became my victims. Ok, not really, they were actually pretty enthusiastic about it. He was here on his annual summer trip to visit us and he's always up for me taking his photo. Usually, his friends agree and I was so glad they didn't mind it. I love getting to know my camera and I'm glad they took my direction with ease. Here he is playing with the fountains in front of the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson.


I'd wanted to photograph someone there for a while, but never had the excuse. We went closer to dusk which I thought made for really great natural lighting. The only drawback is that it was dusk, so I couldn't face West for a better background. No worries, though. I didn't mind having random people in the shots. If you've never been, be sure to take a towel! It was a HOT, HOT day on Saturday and the water was really refreshing! I love how the fountains are synced with the drums, emulating a heartbeat.

Of course I'd have to get some pics of my baby too! Here she is:













Anyway, I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!





Friday, July 11, 2008

Fundraising...get ready for it

I'm in training for the marathon, right. I'm feeling really great and quite frankly, I'm feeling stronger than I have in years! Last night was yoga night. (Another perk at the job!) All during my pregnancy, I did yoga every Thursday. During that time, I was placed in the "baby zone" to concentrate on my breathing and relaxing techniques. When all of my co-workers were doing handstands, shoulder stands, backbends, and such, I'd be in the corner on my back with my eyes shut sending positive energy to my baby amidst the grunts and groans and moans.

Last night, we were supposed to focus solely on our hamstrings. Open up those leg muscles and get 'em activated. Surprisingly, I was a lot more flexible than I thought I'd be. I've been REALLY tight lately with all of the running, so I was certain that I wouldn't be able to do the basic poses. Next up, were handstands. I hadn't done a handstand in FOREVER! I was incredibly nervous that something catastrophic would happen: I'd kick the instructor in the face as I donkey-kicked up to the wall, I'd embarrassingly pass gas since I'd devoured nearly an ENTIRE plate of broccoli at lunch (seriously, what is up with all of the cruciferous veggies on yoga day???), or worst of all, I wouldn't be strong enough to get up! I was last to go in the group. When I was on all fours, I focused all of my energy into my hands and wrist. I hoped with all my might that I'd be able to get up easily and stay up. It's much different getting up when you have to kick up as opposed to falling forward from standing position. Anyway, he said, "now donkey-kick!" Not really understanding the mechanic of what he was talking about, I just kicked my leg up with lots of power and he grabbed it! I WAS UP! Arms shaky, blood rushing to my head, but there I was, inverted and I could feel all of my jiggly bits being furiously pulled by gravity! You would think I would concentrate on my breathing or focusing to stay up. No, all I could think of was, man, I seriously need to lose some of this fat in my belly! LOL!! I stayed up and then came time to come out of the pose. Everyone else in the group had come out of it with large thuds. This was something I was certain I could do! One leg gracefully fell down, lightly touching the ground, feet pointed, followed by the next. "Graceful!" "Wow, very light!" "Good job!" Even the instructor was impressed that I completed the pose like that. See...again with the falling! :) I can fall in style! Seriously, though, my sister and I used to do handstands all the time. Walking around the house on our hands was fun and we would try to come out of them quietly. Why? Well, we weren't supposed to be walking around the house (especially the hallway) on our hands since kicking over one of the family pictures and breaking the glass. I say "we" but it was clumsy ol' me who broke it, but my sister refused to let me take the heat alone on that one. -->Love my big sister for that!<-- Anyway, so that was yoga night. He warned us that our hamstrings would be sore. Actually, they weren't sore, but my shoulders were! Holy cow! Oh and on the second time around, I actually got up several times. I think I need to practice more handstands to build up the strength in my wrist. I would like to get to the point where I'm like that woman in the photo.

Anyway, the title of this post is fundraising. Yes, I need to raise funds for my cause (the race). This is a first note to prepare you for what's to come. They haven't set up the web site yet, so that's why I haven't officially plead my case. Anyway, here are two ideas to get you thinking in the event you can help me:
  1. Date Night - I hope to have a date night maybe twice a month for parents who need to get out for a few hours. For a minimum of $25 donation, I will watch your child for 3 to 4 hours. As a parent, I understand the importance of making time for you and your significant other. My husband has graciously offered to help, so we'll open our home to those interested. I'll let you know of the dates!


  2. Photo Sessions - For a minimum of $50 donation, you will receive a photo session within 25 miles of where I live. You get a shared copyright of the images, a CD with the Hi-Res images so you can take them to get copied, and my undying thanks and gratitude.

There will be more ideas to come, but that's what's on the radar for now. Are these good ideas? Would this be something you'd be interested in?

For those of you interested in learning more about Robin Hood (the charity for which I'm raising funds) you can click here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Less than 10

This weekend was fabulous! It was jam packed with everything and nothing. Thursday, when I left work I met up with some co-workers for bowling and arcade games at Main Event. It was a lot of fun, but I had to leave to meet up with one of my besties who'd just had a baby of her own. I left my beloved there so he could have a guys night and some "me" time.


I ran by and picked up Subway and headed on over to her place. It was fun just hanging out and relaxing. It was kinda surreal to be there, she and I with our babies. This is the natural order to things and it felt really, really good! I missed hanging out with her and this was a good opportunity for she and I to catch up and chat. I attempted to impart some of the mommy wisdom that I've acquired in the past 5 months.


Then, on Friday, we mulled around. We got up lazily and Mari let us sleep in until 8. We were supposed to meet up with my parents for breakfast. They were on their way to a family reunion that we'd bailed on at the last minute. It was in Houston and outside and Mari doesn't like it humid or hot. Two things I was certain it would be, so we opted out and instead chose to stay home. We did, however, get to meet up with my mom, dad, aunt, and sister for breakfast. it was yummy! Afterwards, we headed home. Don needed a nap. I figured Mari would nap too, but nope, she was wide awake. I was getting antsy and Don was still sleeping, so I dressed myself and Mari for the heat and we headed on out to go shopping. There's a shopping center near us and I just figured I could walk it. I planned on hitting up Old Navy and Hallmark. Maybe even DSW if I'm feeling up for it, but probably not. Anyway, it was HOT!!! Poor baby. Glad I took the big stroller with the extra big shade. Luckily, there was a slight breeze and that made it ok. When we got in, I found a few things that I liked. More importantly, I found some layering tanks! I've been needing some more! They also had these fun red sateen ballet flats, so that made me REALLY happy. I checked out and walked up to DSW. Mari was still hot, so I paused and gave her some water. That seemed to appease her and we left DSW and headed to Hallmark. I was in there for a while picking up a gift for a birthday party we were going to be attending on Saturday. Then, we left and headed home.

On my way home, I noticed this man resting under the shade. On our way to the shops, I'd crossed him and so he'd been out there in the heat for about an hour. I stopped and asked him if needed some cold water. He turned down his portable radio and said "No thanks." He was a friendly sort of guy, wearing a white shirt that was kinda dirty with ripped sleeves and cut off denim shorts. He also had on white tube socks with old, old sneakers. His hair was a mess. His hands weathered and his skin a shade that is only attained by years of working in the hot, hot sun. He looked at me and smiled and just said, "I wish that bus would hurry up! It's hot out here." I asked him again if he needed anything and he said he was fine. So Mari and I trudged along for another block before we made it back home. Ahhh...air conditioning! I was so thankful and all I could think of was that man. Poor guy.


An hour later, we were home and that was good! Cousin Simon and Stacy came by for a late lunch...Boston Market (yes, I know, we're addicted!). We watched the first episodes of Big Love while we munched on lunch. It was good. I wasn't trying to get involved in another series, but with all of the shows I like either being cancelled or on a break until the next round of DVDs come out, I had to watch something. Sure, sure, I don't have much time with an infant, but it is still good to zone out once in a while. I'd heard good things about this show, so I figured, 'eh, why not. So far it's fun! We lazied around laughing and enjoying the show until it was time for us to go to our friends for dinner. Mmmmm...dinner! Smoked ribs and chicken, with purple cabbage salad and jalapeno grits. Seriously, it was amazing! We had such a great time, and I was even able to sneak a peek at some fireworks in the distance.


Later on that night, Brother arrived and shortly after he got there I hit the sack! I was exhasted!!!!! I got up again, around 8. I really wanted to go for my big run, but the jogging stroller was broken. Mari was wide eyed awake and I wanted to take her with me so Don could sleep. Well, no luck! Instead he got up to work on the lawn, so Mari and I headed on over to Kroger. (1) I went there with the sole intent of picking up jello to make jello shots for the party that evening. I get home and I have meat for grilling on Sunday, cream cheese, and other essentials, but no jello! Nice. By the time I got home, Brother was ready, so we unloaded everything, and loaded Mari up to go to the store so he could pick up some shorts to wear since he'd only brought one pair. On our way out, my sister calls to say she's right around the corner, so I turn around and we pick her up and head to Kohls. Brother found some shorts and a couple of shirts, and then we headed back to Kroger so I could get some Jello. (2) While there, we went ahead and got some chocolate milk too! We rested for a little bit and I made us some lunch and also the jello shots. Then it was nap time! Woohoo! Just a power nap, though. Then we were up and headed on to the Allen outlet malls. I bought a fanny pack (yeah, don't laugh) so I could carry my water and other bits of pertinent information while running. It's pretty sweet! It took everything in me to resist the urge to buy a Coach bag. Despite it being more than 50% off, it was still over $200, and I couldn't justify it. I didn't "need" a purse that nice and it is no longer the birthday month. I walked away. ::sigh:: Anyway, we get home and get cleaned up for the party! Only to realize that Brother wanted some beer, Sister wanted to pick up a gift, and I had a hankering for Spumante. So off to Kroger again (3)! Yes, 3 times in one day! LOL.

We had a delightful time at the birthday party hanging out with friends! Mari and I were even lucky to have a picture together. Poor baby is teething something fierce. I know she'll be happy when those teeth break through. And sure enough, she's on all 4s ready to crawl. She's graduated from bulldozing to wheelbarrow! It was so cute. And even when she was fussing from the tooth pain, she was still really pleasant. I'm so glad that we can take her places and she gets along well with everyone. We are very lucky to have a such a social and happy baby! That night at the party she was the entertainment. Everyone just watched her do her little bounce-rollover thing in eager anticipation that she'd crawl. Nope, still not ready!

The next day I got up around 8:30 and felt COMPLETELY energized!! I got dressed and quietly tried to leave before waking Mari. No such luck, but that's ok. I took time to nurse her and play with her before resting her next to Don. I HAD to get my run in! I laced up my sneakers and figured I had about an hour before my parents showed up on the return trip from the family reunion. I headed out and 40 minutes and 4 miles later, I got home. I was actually ready to make a 2nd lap to go for at least another 2 miles when I noticed that my parents were already there. Two things that excited me about my run: I broke that elusive 10 minute mile. 9:42!! Yes! While that was on mile 1, I still finished the entire run average with right at 10 and a half minute miles. Even better though, was that on the last quarter mile, I rounded the corner to see this other woman running. I set a goal to catch her. Halfway down I did! I caught her and past her and I felt great. That was right at the moment I was going to make that turn for another few miles, but decided against it. Despite using all of that energy, I still had it in me to keep going and I felt strong. This gave me hope that next weekends' 10 miler isn't going to cripple me!
I got home and greeted everyone and cleaned up for church. It was nice that we ran into a sweet couple that we'd met a few weeks earlier. I made a mental note to be sure to attend the mass where their daughter will be baptized later on in the month. We headed home and started cooking. Chopping, prepping, marinating, galore! It was awesome. We were also celebrating my sister's birthday, but she didn't know it! I'd had this Sprinkles Red Velvet cupcake mix for a while and figured I'd go ahead and try the recipe. I'm so glad I did. Those cupcakes were DIVINE!!! I think everyone liked them too! She was surprised when we sang to her and saw that the cupcakes were for her. It made me feel good that everyone was there to be able to sing Happy Birthday to her. I did, however, feel bad that the candles were those trick candles. Totally not intentional. I just pulled out some candles that were in our candle drawer. Ooopsie!
Monday we said goodbye to the big TV. Cousin Simon came and took it to his new place. We were so happy we were able to test drive the television before he opted to buy it. We may get one around Christmas. See, I say that now, knowing full well that football season is right around the corner. I just need to somehow figure out a way to rig up the HD receiver to our big computer monitor and I can watch it there. It is HD and the new machine is TV compatible. Like I said, I just need to sit down and figure it all out. Since we had no TV, we opted to go for a run. Monday is supposed to be my off day, but since I bailed on Thursday and Saturday, I figured I needed to do something. I figured a quick 2-miler. And guess what! I nearly broke the 9 minute pace!!! I completed the entire thing in 18 minutes and that was because I had to pause for a drink of water. (yeah, i'm not skilled at drinking and running...learned that lesson) I was so stoked!! Now we'll have to see if that pace can stick for tomorrow's early, early morning run!
Wish me luck. Happy week to you all!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th!


I hope you had a safe and happy 4th.


I got in Mari's pettiskirts and she LOVED them!!! Here are a few shots:

No, I didn't pose her like that. She did that one on her own. ha ha!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lifelong dream #3...Within Reach


I know I've talked about fashion design on here and my love for clothes. Even more so, to design and construct clothes that I can't find in stores AND that won't cost me a small fortune for a dress. Well, at long last, I've found something that can help put that within reach for me!!!! Some of you may have heard about Make in the Bishop Arts District here in Dallas. I only discovered this wonderful gem last night!! And if I weren't going to be out of town towards the end of the month for a couple of Sundays, then I would totally sign up for the Project Make session. Instead, I'm going to hold off and hope and pray that they offer it in the Spring so I can do it then. In the meantime, I'm definitely going to sign up for a class in August. I'm thinking the diaper bag/laptop case class (because you can never have too many bags, right??).


Wheee!!! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Grateful and Hormotional

I'm ever so grateful for a loving husband. Like I mentioned previously, this past weekend, he went up with me to the hospital to wait while my BFF delivered her first baby. I'm certain it wasn't on his top list of things to do on a Sunday, but he came along with no argument. It gives me the warm fuzzies to know how much he values our friendships and relationships with others to make it a priority to be a part of life's bigger events. He's always up for celebrating life.

Yesterday, when I got home (which was later than expected) he didn't mind that I'd been running late. He made it a point to eat a rushed dinner with me and had to jet off to go help my cousin and his wife move into their new place. Moving is hard work as it is, but doing so on a hot summer evening without any debate is something else. He's such a hard worker and I love that about him.

This morning I had to get up extra early (b/c I'm running at 6AM with one of my coworkers), but I was up 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I used that time to write my beloved a love note letting him know how much I appreciate him. I tucked it away so he'd find it later. I kissed him, Mari, and Guapo bye and headed out the door. I was getting melancholy thinking about how much I was going to miss them during the day and when I get to my car, there's this wonderful handmade card/note from him. He found the time to make that for me yesterday and it was so sweet. You know that just put me over the edge! I spent the better part of the morning commute tearing up. It took everything in me to not turn around and drive back. ::sigh::

So on a different note...
Like I said, I met up with my co-worker and a former worker here and we set off for our morning run. It was a lovely pace and I actually kept up with them for 99% of the run. The other part I lagged behind b/c I paused to drink water. Early on I'd attempted to drink and jog, but I nearly choked myself with water and some almost went up my nose. It wasn't pretty. Speaking of unpretty...I fell. Yes, again! I about scared these women too. Bless their hearts! Parents, if you have a clumsy child sign them up for ice skating lessons. If nothing else, they will learn how to fall properly. I'm always falling and I don't suffer as many scrapes, cuts, or bruises because I learned how to fall the right way. I bet many of you are scratching your heads, thinking, this woman is smoking crack because there's no such thing as proper falling. But no, I'd have to vehemently disagree. Let's take this morning's fall, for instance. I'd stepped in a puddle, so the bottom of my shoe was a bit damp. No worries, b/c even though it was very early, it is still pretty darn hot! We started on a descent and the pavement was uneven. Still not a big deal. But, I was focusing so much of my efforts on my new CONFIDENCE in RUNNING muscles that my legs must've relaxed more and I felt myself plummeting head first to the ground. A series of grunts and mild shrieks and I felt like I'd sufficiently warned my running partners to get out of the way. Instead of falling to my knees, I pushed off a little more and braced my palms for the heavy blow. I was in full on volleyball dive mode. I'd tossed my water bottle aside and caught myself, barely grazing my left knee as I quickly launched myself back up. Yes, I was embarrassed, but that's about all. I had a teeny tiny scrap on my knee and I successfully peeled off the top layer on my right palm (which I needed a manicure anyway!). My injured left wrist didn't feel any pain. No limping, just a quick jogging in place while my running partners looked on with worry. I tried to casually explain to them that this is a typical thing and after some convincing, their concern focused back to the running. And no, I didn't wet my pants which I was certain was going to happen! These exercises really are amazing.

I'm grateful for my body. It has done marvelous things and will continue to achieve pretty incredible feats. I fully intend to use it to the max too for as long as I can. I look at my mother for inspiration. There's a lot she can't do (like walk for distances greater than 10 feet), but that doesn't stop her. She and her little red scooter are headed to Europe in about a week. This will be her first visit there and I'm so proud of her for going across the pond. You're never too old to dream big and still follow your dreams. I'm grateful for my mom teaching me that.

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