Monday, August 31, 2009

You Are the Sunshine of My Life

18 - 19 Months

  • You are verbalizing so much, I can't tell if your favorite word is "mas" or "baable" either way, we give you more food and have fun playing bubbles
  • You love to climb on everything! You are fearless and while it freaks out daddy and I, we are happy that you have such a unique spirit, it's amazing.
  • You tell us that you are hungry, not only by signing and vocalizing, but also, climbing up your high chair, sitting expectantly for food.
  • You LOVE to show affection, giving tight hugs, besitos, blowing kisses, and high fives. I dreamed of the day when you'd openly reciprocate or initiate and that day has come. I can't describe the joy I have at the end of a long day when you run towards me, arms outstretched, hollering mamama.
  • You love to play with volleyballs and basketballs, rolling, throwing, kicking, and you understand when we want you to pass it to us.
  • You enjoy dancing, dancing, dancing. Girl, you work the floor!
  • You've had some allergies and stuffiness, and you've learned how to blow your nose.
  • You also like to wash yourself and help us change your diaper.
  • You started off fast wanting to learn how to potty train, and ever since then, you're more interested in flushing the toilet than going on it.
  • Your palate is so complex, you can discern the taste between over-salted food and poor wine, simply with your smell.
  • You still adore your dragon book, you adore the computer, and turning the tv on and off.
  • You help around the house by bringing clothes to me when I'm doing laundry, letting Guapo out of his cage, and trying to help with dishes.
  • You're getting much better about pausing for prayer and in church, you love to hurry up to the basket on the altar, and drop your envelope in the basket.
  • The biggest thing you've learned is empathy. You tenderly heal when someone isn't feeling well. You comfort when someone is sad. and Your beautiful smile is infectious, that laugh of yours uplifting, it brightens ANY mood!
You are such an amazing little girl and your daddy and I are so blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you for choosing us to be your parents! It's an adventure everyday and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Songs of Love We'll Sing to Thee

I'm always proud when I think of my alma mater, Texas Tech. There's a certain pride in all of us when we fondly remember our times in school. I also feel a further connection when a fellow alumnus accomplishes a great feat or represents the school in a positive manner. This is Susan Graham, from the Metropolitan Opera singing "Ave Maria" at Senator Kennedy's funeral.

This is one of my favorite pieces, so much so that my cousin sang it for us at our wedding. I need to figure out a way to splice our wedding video so you can hear her sing. It is INCREDIBLE! (BTW, she's another Tech alumni, a product from the same music program as Susan Graham and I think she's every bit as good! The voice of an angel, indeed.)



And not Tech alumni, but still a beautiful performance here is link to Placido Domingo and Yo-Yo Ma performance at the funeral: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/classicalmusic/2009/08/placido_domingo_susan_graham_y.html I don't have any idea how Yo-Yo Ma gets his cello to play/sound like that, but I never tire listening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

HDMR: The Soloist, Race to Witch Mountain, The Last House on the Left, Knowing

It's been quite a long time since I've last done a Hump Day Movie Review (HDMR), so what better way to dust off the ol' blog than to write a quick review over some movies I watched as a distraction to the day? Just as an FYI, we watched 3 of these movies on Tuesday and 1 on Wednesday. Normally, we don't have this much time on our hands, but Mari took an extra long nap on Tuesday and on Wednesday, she went to sleep early-ish. Not really. We've been suffering from insomnia this entire week (thanks friends who have seen us and haven't commented on the hollow, dark circles where there was once brightness). Anyway, I hit up Blockbuster and rented 4 movies.

Anyway, on to the reviews:
THE SOLOIST

It is no secret that I'm a HUGE fan of RDJ. He's right on up there with Christian Bale (yeah, yeah, yeah, the guy has issues, but man he's good to look at and has some amazing acting chops). Anyway, I'd been wanting to see this movie for a while and when Jenna mentioned renting it from a Red Box, I remembered that it was something on my radar, but I had not put it on my Netflix. Since we are currently watching Generation Kill on Netflix, we didn't have any movies queued up for that day. So yes, back to the movie. I LOVED the soundtrack. Absofreakinlutely loved ALL of it. Every single classical piece and the modern pieces too. I forgot how much I loved Neil Diamond's Mr. Bojangles, so mellow, melodious, that simple strumming on the guitar strings, I'm listening to it on repeat right now, in fact...I digress. The movie was a little slow and I knew that the director was trying to convey schizophrenia. I liked it, but I couldn't get past seeing Jamie Foxx. He did OK, but didn't get lost in the role like I thought he did in Ray. But RDJ, well, he did an amazing job. He is so utterly expressive with those eyes, you can't help but feel what is going on in his mind. It was worth the rental, for the music alone. You feel for the guy and are reminded how you can find friendship in the unlikeliest of places. Rating: 1 box of raisinettes and an unenthusiastic high five

Knowing
I went into this movie not knowing anything about Knowing. I like Nicolas Cage and even though he hasn't done anything recently worth note, I'd figured I'd give him the old Castor Troy try since he has had some sleeper roles (Captain Corelli's Mandolin anyone?) The way it started out, I wondered if we were going to see another suspense thriller. Instead, I found myself trying to figure out this mystery beyond mysteries. I found myself out of control and could related to wanting to control things. In the end though, it just made me want to hold my family a little tighter and slightly pissed off at the thought of being stuck in traffic only to have a ginormous plane plummet smack dab on top of you. BTW, the kiddos in this movie are creepy as all get out. I hope Mari isn't like them. Weird, I can handle, but creepy, not so much. Rating: handful of kettle corn and a low five

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT

Holy cow. I have no idea what compelled me to want to see this, but I did. Wes Craven, thank you for making movies and not being out there living out the reality in your head. Same goes for you cooky Quentin Tarantino. You're looking a hot tranny mess these days, buddy, but you make brilliant films. Anyway, back to the movie. I didn't find myself on the edge of my seat as much as I would have anticipated. I did, however, feel really uncomfortable during one of the earlier scenes and I just couldn't watch it any more. I felt myself wanting to throw up. But then later, when there was some major kickassery, I found myself ever so much more deranged than I gave myself credit for. I was pissed off that they didn't torture the evil people. Then again, when you think in terms of your family and horrific things that could potentially happen to them, your mind begins to craft all sorts of ways to exact revenge if you were put in the similar circumstances. Not sure if I want to own this movie, but I did enjoy it. Rating: 2 XL boxes of rasinettes, a tub of kettle corn, and a high five because this movie TOTALLY took my mind off of reality

RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN
This is a fun movie. You have to take it for face value because it is a kids movie and I believe it is another Disney film based on a ride, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it was filled with action and adventure. I love Dewayne "The Rock" Johnson and Carla Gugino. BTW, I've pretty much convinced myself that I want her haircut in this movie. I miss a regular cropped bob. *sigh* Anyway, this movie is fun and enjoyable for the whole family. Kudos go out to Ciaran Hinds. Anything he does is remarkable and he plays such a delicious villain, I found myself wanting to slap him straight through the TV! Rating: Box of raisinettes and an enthusiastic high five...and maybe a handful of kettle corn

Comfort Food


I can't even begin to show gratitude to my friends and family for their thoughts, love, support, and acts of kindness. We received such an outpouring of emotional strength from both near and far.

That night, I was prepared to curl up in a ball in the dark, quietly flooding our bed with remnants of my broken heart. Don would be there, and Mari would be an energetic ball of fire until bed, but in the quiet of the night, well, those ripped dreams would creep back up, taunting me in a solitary waltz, the very epitome of the darkness of life. Yes, I was going to have a full-fledged pity party and I'd been saving my tears for the occasion.

And then my phone rang. I hadn't been answering the phone or any texts. It took every bit of happiness I had to hold myself together, because I really thought my arm would break off, or my leg would shatter with the next step. Not overblown drama, I was feeling very fragile and breakable. But I answered this one call, and the assertive and concerned voice on the other end proclaimed, "I'm on my way." Before I could respond otherwise, I relented, and quietly whispered, "Please hurry." Moments later, Primo rushes through my front door, and parks himself next to me. An hour later, Ada has swooshed in. A couple of hours after that, Lindsey showed with sweet, sweet monkey bread. Each of them bearing gifts, lending their strong shoulders, and just being there.

We opened our $100 bottle of Marston. When we bought it in Napa, we were going to open it on our first date after having Pepper. It was an indulgence, a grand indulgence, yes! We described all of the wines we purchased as a memory in a bottle. We opened it and I was immediately transformed back to that place. It was special (and I promise, a blog to come) and amazing and brilliant. I fell in love with Don right under that arbor and I looked over at him, grateful that he chose me, grateful that he was there, picking me up, supporting me, loving me.

Simon was in the kitchen working, toiling over the hot stove, producing a labor of love. The emotions started flowing when he walked in and handed me sushi. For 8 weeks I'd gone without that simple indulgence, and here, just like that, I could have it again. Tears streamed down my face, bitter, yes, but the thought...so touching.

The wine generously poured, we clinked glasses and slowly ate our meal. Homemade macaroni and cheese, made with tiny shells because it is my favorite pasta shape. Dill potatoes made to perfection. Roasted duck, with the fat so incredibly delectable, I could feel the love filling my belly. Haricot vert, fresh green beans, amazing, and I don't like green beans. Beef tenderloin, bloody and rare, just like I like it and how I'd refused to eat while we were in Napa. Finally, fideo, Mexican pasta that is a supreme comfort food. My great-grandmother and great aunts made this for me. My grandmother used to cook this for me. Mom would make this for me growing up. Over the years, when I was feeling especially nostalgic and needed to connect to my roots, I'd make myself a pot of fideo and I was there cradled in their arms. And just like those times, once again, I was wrapped tightly in their arms.

I sipped the glass of wine with each bite. Each one giving me more strength, more hope, taking away the hurt. I had a happy plate, an empty glass, and I literally crawled to bed because mother nature was doing her job. I no longer had the anxiety for what was to come. I was ready.

Later that night, I felt the wings of angels all around me and I rested without anxiety, more at peace, less pain, and comforted with God's grace.

Monday, August 24, 2009

days off

A few years ago, I would take days off to emotionally rebuild. Sometimes those days were to nurse a hangover on an awesome night out with friends. Other times, they were quiet days having a movie marathon, just as an escape from life. Yes, I had vacations and sick days, but these were those special "me" days to take just because. You know what I mean.

Now that I'm a mom, I hoard all of my extra days for days when she'll be sick. And yes, having a little one, it is inevitable that there will be plenty of sick days. That first year alone, between Don and myself, we used every single vacation day on sick days for Mari. Well, I used 3 days at Christmas for vacation, but what remained of my 3 weeks were sick days for my baby. I didn't mind so much, though. It was those days that she would snuggle in a little tighter and want Mommy to be around a little more.

Yesterday, Mari started to have this deep-chested cough, almost like a smokers cough. I was concerned, but since it wasn't accompanied by a fever we weren't too concerned. Well, last night just before midnight, she had a coughing episode that caused her to vomit. She was scared, her tiny body shaking, and so I pulled her in my arms and held her tightly. I said a prayer and made plans to take the next day off.

For those of you out of state, today is the first day back to school. Don had been preparing for the last week for today and poor guy wasn't going to get a decent night's sleep. Then it happened. In the darkness of the night, I felt it.

Just before our trip to Napa, we found out that I was expecting another baby. This little blessing wasn't planned and we were more than apprehensive when we discovered the news. Once everything settled in, and we were more accepting, we called the doctor for an official appointment. The first sonogram was too early to see anything. I was supposed to go in this Wednesday to confirm the heartbeat and hear our due date. We started to make plans, trying to figure out how we were going to accomodate an addition to the family. We were excited, eager, and anxious.

But last night, I felt the emptiness inside. This morning, I started bleeding and the doctor confirmed that our baby had grown Angel wings. I'm sad, very sad. I've walked this road before and I'm intimately aware of what this sadness tastes like. And as the acid built up in my belly, my little Mari who was with me (because she has her doctor appointment later) reached up her tiny hand to my tears and brushed them away from my face. She pulled me closer and gave me a kiss. She let out a belly laugh and gave me a "it's going to be ok" look. And I was grateful for God's blessing.

I don't regret that I had to do without caffeine indulgences for the past two months. Nor that I was unable to partake in the fruits from the earth when we were in Napa. I didn't mind that I had to alter my life just a bit to accomodate another soul. We were shocked at the financial strain, but had started taking measures to make everything fit where were needed. No, this one wasn't planned, but we discovered that we were a lot better at adapting that we gave ourselves credit.

I stared at the lifeless ultrasound, the look on the Tech's face was haunting. I know this the hard part of her job. I don't know why, but I did my best to put her at ease and not be uncomfortable. My doctor tried to speak as tenderly, explaining what I could expect over the course of the next few weeks. I will admit that there was a small part of me that was relieved. While there were probably genetic abnormalities in this one that caused it to not go to term, I know it was a part of God's plan. I held myself together until we got to the car. As we drove down the parking garage, I allowed myself to shed as many tears until we were out. I calmed down long enough to call my boss. And I just want to pause and give thanks to an understanding man. When I was trying my best to push out the negative and brush it aside, he reminded me that it is ok to hurt and to feel this pain. That's why I'm writing this.

I took off from work today to take care of my little one's sickness, not knowing that I'd need to heal myself. Together, though, we're holding each other tightly, and I feel loved more than ever. I wrap my arms around Mari, Don's arms hold me tightly, and Guapo curls at our feet. We're all hurting, but the world around us still goes on. Tomorrow I'm taking a personal "me" day off from work. It's going to be strange, but I know I need it.

Many thanks to all of you who had us in your prayers. I feel your strength and encouragement. Please continue to pray for all of us in my little family and for anyone else who has had to travel this road.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

time flies

For you few of my readers who wondered where I've been, I've not been trying to be on a hiatus. I've been a bit of a hermit, no, I've actually been really busy and too exhausted at the end of the day to drop a few words.


I've been wearing my HOA president hat, trying to get our newsletter out and help finalize details of the summer party. I also had to filter through Mari's closet and stow away all of the clothes she's out grown and pull out the clothes from the final sac of clothes that I'd bought prior to her arrival. She's officially in her 2T clothes and in her size 6 shoes. WOW!

While we were at it, we put away some of the other items she has outgrown to give her more space to run around in her room. We still have to hang a few hooks and print off some of her photos to fill the picture frames, but all in all, it is coming together.

On Friday, we went to a charity powder puff football game. This was the first women's sporting event for Mari and I hoped that she would be inspired by the girls working hard. She sat through the first half and then wanted to run around the bleachers, up and down, up and down, all through half time and most of the 2nd half. I can't help but to get a little emotional thinking about how much she's changed and how so very blessed I am to have her in my life. She keeps us on our toes and makes us have giggle fits, and yes, even our own bouts of frustration when she is overwhelmingly headstrong. Her latest thing is to climb up on the couch, daring to flip over. It freaks us out, because if she falls, it's about 3ft into tile. :( If we push the couch up, and she falls on the carpet, then she'll want to do it again. Ahhhh...no idea what to do. In any case, our days start with a toothy grin while she shoves her favorite blanket in our faces. She bravely waves us goodbye when we drop her off at her school. And she'll warmly greet us with a happy smile when we pick her up at the end of the day. We all sing together as the Backyardigans bid their adieu. She and I shower together and at the end of the day, rest assured, we get to sing to her, listen to a calming CD and gaze up at the stars while we pray and give thanks for the day.
Family...it is such a blessing. I never knew how much I wanted her until I had her. I love you sugarbean. Thank you for bringing such joy to our lives!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chicken Flautas

These were actually a lot easier than I thought they'd be, even though they weren't as good as the ones we get at La Paloma.

Ingredients:
Corn Tortillas
Oil
Shredded Chicken

Start off with your tortillas in hot oil. This lightly frying allows them to become more pliable. Fry in the oil until it puffs up in the center, then flip until it is done. After frying them, dry them on some paper towels so they aren't heavily coated in oil.
We'd cooked some chicken in the crockpot. It was on the bone, so here is Don shredding it. Chicken on the bone tends to be much cheaper, so we just toss it in the crock pot with a bit of water and salt for a few hours and it is oh so tender. Anyway, fill the tortillas after they've cooled for a bit and roll them.
Instead of frying them, we decided to bake them because I was in an experimental mood. We baked them at 325 for 10 minutes just to get a slight crisp.

Voila, Chicken Flautas! Here they are topped with a bit of Queso Fresco and a tomato from our garden. Enjoy


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Potty!

Over the last month, Mari has used the toilet a few times. Tonight was the first time where I asked her if she had to go and she affirmed it. I took her to the bathroom and she refused to sit on her seat. She wanted to sit on the big one. So, perched her on top and lo' and behold, she went! Then she fussed because I presume she was trying to sign all done, but didn't want to let go since she was using her arms to balance. When I asked her if she was done, she nodded and I helped her down.

I made a big production about her "going" that I was a little unprepared. I wanted to have silly string and confetti poppers for just this occasion, but alas, I didn't. *sigh* She seemed sufficiently happy with my hoots and hollers and the requisite high fives while I drowned her in kisses. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I never thought that I'd ever get this excited about poop.

Sorry for taking a break from the vacation blogging, but I had to talk about regular life for a tad bit to brag on my baby girl. Now let's see if she'll continue. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fingerpainting with Pudding

Saturday morning came a lot earlier than we planned. Don let me sleep when Mari got up earlier than either of us intended. When I did finally pull myself out of bed, I awoke in such a frantic state, that I was out of it for about an hour. Mari immediately ran to me, her tiny arms drawn to me like I was a big magnet. While I was sore and tired, my arms reached out to her, ready to pull her in tight. We then headed on over to the bathroom to brush our teeth and wash our face for the day. (She loves to brush teeth with us.)

Anyway, I had intended on taking Mari to the park in the morning, but the heavens opened up and poured down much needed rain. As a matter of fact, it had rained quite a bit the night before too, but this was just raining down. I didn't mind, really, because it would make the heat a little more tolerable. But what to do with an active toddler when you aren't feeling quite up to par? Well, I consulted the activity bucket. What is that? Well, when we were reorganizing Mari's play area in our den earlier this summer, I set one bucket/drawer aside specifically for activities in a bag that would keep her occupied in half hour intervals, maybe longer. Most were activities we do together and some she can do alone. I pulled out Fingerpainting. SCORE

Within minutes, I was in the kitchen whipping up instant vanilla pudding, trying to think if Mari has ever eaten pudding before. I couldn't recall if she had, so this was going to be a big leap of faith. After it set, I took out two small plastic bowls and filled them with pudding. I then added some food coloring and mixed up red and green. She studied me intently, knowing I was up to something, but not quite sure what it was. She took off to occupy herself with Daddy while I finished readying everything.


I hollered out to her to get in her chair. (Of course, I didn't really mean for her to get in her chair, but little miss adventurer climbed up into her high chair like she was an elite rock climber. I couldn't tell her to NO DANGEROUS when she did what I asked, right. I need to be better about my wording!) Once settled in, I took off her tank top and slid on her tray with the two bowls of "paint." She started at it, quizzically, not quite certain what she should do. I dipped a finger into the cool gel and painted a flower. Don dipped his in the green and painted a smiley face. We both licked our fingers after we were done. Timidly, she dipped her finger into the red and made a gesture to paint, but instead went to taste it directly. Well, she seemed to like it and kept dipping her finger into it to eat.

That was just as good, so I sat on the couch to make a plan for the day. We had about 45 minutes before we had to leave for her sign language class. The rain had subsided, so it would probably be a rather humid day. I zoned out a bit watching Amazing Wedding Cakes on OnDemand. I then looked up to find this:

Yes, she'd made a wonderful living work of art! Not only did she get the hang of grabbing tiny handfuls and spreading it in her tray, but it was in her hair, on her chair and the supporting chair. Luckily it hadn't made it to the floor yet, but Guapo was secretly praying it was. Like a soldier, steadfast at her feet, willing the pudding to the ground. No such luck, buddy.


We only had 10 minutes before we had to leave, so I rushed my pudding monster to the shower to clean up before class. Definitely a WONDERFUL distraction for half an hour. :)

Fingerpaint Pudding
1 package instant Jello* (we used vanilla)
food coloring

Make jello according to instructions. Divide into separate bowls and add food coloring.

Enjoy!

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