Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holidaze

I hope your holidays have been treating you well. Me, I'm overflowing with love and light. First of all, I want to take a special moment to say thanks to all of you. Aww...I've been feeling the positive vibes, I tell ya!

Some new changes for me...That photo above...well, it not only is a cup of awesome, frothy, silk nog cappuccino goodness, but if you look closely, you will also see a fine E&J red, sparkletini, and a beautiful cut of tenderloin. That, my friends, was Christmas for me. I had a beautiful carnivorous meal, which marked my final animal-filled meal for at least a month. I'm taking a challenge, inspired by the amazing talented Jacki (or are you Jacky, now?). I need to get my booty running again, but oh the aches the pains, the soreness...excuses, excuses, excuses. I didn't need a diet, I needed a lifestyle/core changer. I had thought long and hard about such a change and was further inspired after the passing of my grandfather. You see, I forgot to mention that he made it a point to do calisthenics every single day. He had about a 20lb barbell that he used to incorporate his exercises. If he could get moving, then so would I. Moving now, will help me to keep moving later. Eating a mostly plant based (I'll be enjoying eggs and the occasional tuna) diet I hope to cleanse my body of the heavy fat-filled meals I normally enjoy. I've given myself about a month to try it out, so we will see.

Also, we have a new addition to our family. Meet Sparkle...
This was the Sugarbean's gift from Santa. I made the dress. I hope to be making more clothes for Sparkle and her friends in the near future. This means that I will hopefully make slow progress on my craft area. One day, hopefully before my 35th birthday, too, I will be able to give you the tour.

I took some time to do some extra snuggling and loving on the Sugarbaby, too. While we were away, we were treated to a rare snowstorm. I turned off the TV in the hotel room, opened the curtains, snuggled in, and watched the fat snow fall tenderly as I held my sleeping little one. Bliss indeed.

Finally, I've been EXTRA fortunate to spend some amazing quality date-time with my handsome man.
He is so, so, so good to me! I've had many surprises from him and I've been totally loving it! He surprised me with flowers one day. Surprised me with my wishlist jammies for Christmas! He also surprised me with a girls night out with one of my best friends! (Sidenote: I've been getting quite a few surprises lately. I like surprises. Well, good ones, not bad ones. More on my surprises later.) I've been enjoying this time we've gotten to spend together. It's been quite magical.

Sorry for my absence, but it really has seem like a daze, these past several weeks. I have some back-blogging to do from my trips to NYC and Boulder. Hope you all are well! Hugs to everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mi Abuelo: Antonio Valenciano (February 15, 1926 - December 19, 2011)

grandpa faceshot
My grandfather passed away on Monday. It was a long time coming, but it still doesn't make the heartache any easier.

I grew up really knowing only one set of grandparents. I often envied my friends and their relationships with both of their sets of grandparents. They seemed to talk about their grandparents like a pair of their most favorite people. I didn't know otherwise, I just knew that I wanted to make it a point to enjoy the ones I had, even though I was shy about it. When I was in second grade, I spent the night with a friend who talked about her grandmother who had just passed. She pulled out an old smock her grandmother wore, pressed it to her face and the look that consumed her face had me curious. She tearfully blurted out, "Grandma had the best smell!" She carefully held it out for me to smell. Cautiously, I leaned forward and took a short whiff. I told her I didn't want to ruin it and take all of the smell out. A part of me was afraid of what I would have smelled. I had it in my mind that her dead grandmother was wearing the smock when she passed. I was afraid I would smell death. (shaking my head now) I suggested she put the smock in a zip-lock, bag to lock in the smell. She thought it was a great idea and sure enough, she put it in there. Years later, I wonder if that smock is still in her baggie. That memory stuck with me, though. It stays with me today.

I was always intrigued by my grandfather. He had strong, but weathered hands. I remember him in white t-shirts and bubble vests. His hair was always combed and I remember him smiling, often. On Sundays, ooooh boy howdy did he clean up!! He was fresh shaven, clad in a crisp guayabera and slacks. He would smell of Old Spice and Listerine. His cheek was soft when I would lean in to kiss it. My eyes would water from the cologne, but my heart would smile with familiarity. The rest of the week, when I kissed his cheek good night, it was rough and prickly. We would spend part of our summer break with our Grandparents from when I was 3 until I was 10. A few of those summers, we would road trip from El Paso to Los Angeles. They took us to Knott's Berry Farms and Disneyland. We visited Chavez Ravine, stayed in East Los with relatives, and his brother would talk about baseball and reminisce of the days when he, himself, played in "the show." (For this reason, Disneyland will ALWAYS trump Disneyworld for me. It is a family thing, near and dear to my heart.) Here we are on such a road trip, I was less than a year old:

look at that 59 cent gas price!
Grandpa built the house my father grew up in. More accurately, he built it with the help of friends and his sons. Their home, for as long as I could remember, was white with a green trim. BRIGHT green trim. All around the home were trees planted by my father. He had a green thumb. Also, they had several rose bushes and a fig tree out back. Out back, Grandpa had a shed that he used as a work area. It was an original man cave. I don't remember EVER going in there. I do remember him encouraging us to play on the swing set in the backyard, which was also painted in the familiar green to match the trim. He also didn't mind when I made a makeshift swing that hung off of Grandma's drying line. Grandma told me of all of the parties they had at their home. I can tell you about the nooks and crannies around their house and how it was the best place for my imagination. I can tell you that I felt safe there, no matter how very different the climate in their neighborhood changed.

I grew up being afraid of my grandfather. I don't know why. I was an extremely shy and curious child. I also took things literally. When my parents told me to not misbehave on our visits, I believed them. I also believed that my grandparents were wealthy beyond measure. They had lamps dripping with glass beads that I thought were diamonds. They also had a chandelier dripping with similar gems. To me, they were larger than life. Grandpa seemed unapproachable to me. He spoke very little to me. When he did speak, in broken sentences, he said things to me like, "Food is good always." Which was a response to my not wanting to eat my vegetables or whatever else I was not enthusiastic to eat.

My grandparents were great travelers and they loved to dance. Grandma told me of a trip they once took where a dance troupe was performing. The music was on, so Grandpa whisked up Grandma and began to tear up the floor. The ENTIRE floor was cleared and the performers stopped to watch them. I believe this. Their dancing captivated room of people. I've often thought, it wasn't fair for them to dance at other people's weddings because there was no possible way for the bride and groom to look that good...but maybe someday. At my Quinceanera, I had the honor of dancing with my grandfather. I was so nervous!! I was not a very good partner dancer. Here, I was going to have the honor of a dance with him. I hoped I didn't screw it up. As he held me in his arms, I apologized to him for my lack in experience. The only man I'd danced with was my father and he was the only one I was able to trust. He just grinned at me like it was a non-challenge. He whirled me around that dance floor guiding me me along and lo' and behold, I was actually graceful. That whole night I discovered a dancing grace within me, passed down from generation to generation. 10 years ago, at their 50th wedding anniversary, Glen Miller's In the Mood was on (their song), and he and Grandma cut a rug and tore up the dance floor.
See the guayabera? My grandmother made my dress.
My first year of college, I dated a boy that spoke mostly Spanish. Granted, it wasn't the same dialect I was used to, but it was still Spanish. My confidence in speaking it grew exponentially. My grandfather and I had some of the best conversations as a result. He told me that what mattered most in life was family. No matter the trials and tribulations that we went through, our family would always be there. And then he looked me in the eye and paid me one of the best compliments of my life. "Bianca, you are like your father. You are smart, curious, and a bit stubborn. Not as stubborn as he was." I was and remain humbled.

The Labor day after Don and I were married, we made the trip out to visit my grandparents. I wanted them to know Don. Health reasons prevented them from attending the wedding, so this was a great opportunity for us to share some dedicated time. Some how, Don and he managed to communicate. They dove head first into a fast friendship over Grandma's fiery salsa. I acted as an intermittent mediator, with topics ranging from when to best plant trees, mulch, electricity work, tile/grout work, and so many other things. We took them out to a steak dinner. When we left, Grandpa had gifted us with a few of his old guayabera's and his old clay water pitcher. He told me it was perfect for filling with water and keeping cool on a hot day. and then he leaned in and told me that it would keep my tequila nice and cool if I wanted that too, after all, according to him, "A bit of tequila keeps the doctor away. It keeps you strong and healthy." Obviously, because he lived to 85! (wink)

grandpa 7

Grandpa loved Bruce Lee movies, my grandmother's cooking, spicy foods, steaks, a great beer, a crisp guayabera, his family, reading the paper, and doing puzzles. When I think of him, I will remember him putting beans on his pizza. Shuffling through the house in leather slippers and robe. Combing is tuft of hair atop his head. His smile. His hands. Sitting at the kitchen reading his Bible. Praying over us when we would depart our visit, then pressing his hand on our forehead, giving us our blessing. Whistling to get my grandmother's attention. Dancing or relaxing, while listening to music. So many, many things. I'm so very blessed to have shared in his life.

grandpamemory
Doing his puzzles

Today, we take Grandpa to his final resting place. He's gone home to Jesus and is now dancing in heaven,waiting for us to join him. Please keep us in your prayers as we mourn this great man. Thank you for all of the outpouring of love and support we have received so far.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fun Last Minute Gifts + a giveaway!

As you run to and fro' gathering the last bits of good tidings for your loves, I wanted to share a couple of last minute happies sure to please!

Redbox Yes, finally, at long last, Redbox is offering gift codes for you to share with friends. Redbox.com/gifts is your stop to buy a movie rental on your friend. The only drawback, caveat, is that you MUST either be friends with the person on Facebook (and send via facebook) or know their email address. Of course, your recipient couldn't use Redbox if they didn't have an email address, so yeah. Anyway, these gift codes are sent in increments of $5 or $10. They are super convenient, as Redbox is convenient. I've talked about them before, so this isn't new news. Once upon a time, I gave Blockbuster gift cards. With the advent of so many of their brick and mortar shops closing, it's more difficult to actually use the gift card.

Groupon Yes, you can give gift credits to groupon. If you have a friend that is a Groupon junkie, then give them some groupon love. Buy Groupon e-cards with different increments from $15-$200.

Gift Cards Well, we were talking about e-cards, but you can also go with the ol' standby of regular gift cards. Who doesn't like a thoughtful gesture? However, I always like to add a personal message associated with the gift card I pick out for the recipient. If I give a DSW card, I'll say something like, "For those shoes that you wanted, but couldn't justify because they weren't on sale. LOOK! Now, it's like they are on sale!" Small personalizations totally make a difference. Oh, and if you visit your local grocery store (or Wal-greens/CVS), you can visit the gift card carousel and probably find the gift card you need without having to go into the store. (Not so great for your local mom 'n pop shops. HOWEVER! You can call them directly or visit their site and get a gift card. One of my favorites: CITY CRAFT offers these and I think it is brilliant!!!)


I'm feeling super generous, so one of you readers will win one of those lovely Redbox gift codes, valued at $5!! Thank you all for being my readers, even when I've fallen off the radar screen. This is an easy giveaway. Just leave me a comment. Anything you want to comment. Whatever you want to say, hopefully nothing negative. You can tell me what you would like to watch. You can tell me your favorite holiday tradition. You can confess that you bake, but never get to the baking part because you eat the cookie dough before it goes in the oven. Whatever. Just enter and BAM. If you take less than a minute to enter, odds are you will win because my contests usually have less than 15 entries. :) HOORAY!

Contest will close at Midnight on December 30th. Bonus: For those of you who read this through Networked Blogs or on Facebook, your comments will go towards the entry, too! For you sneaky ones who want to comment on my regular blog and on Facebook, well *zing* you get 2 entries for being sassy and finding a loophole. Good luck!

**I was not contacted by Redbox, Groupon, or City Craft to promote their products. I just like their stuff and think it is nifty!**



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Supermoms...nah, just really great support systems

It takes a village, right? During what was probably one of the most hectic months of my life, my support system kicked it into high gear. After returning from Thanksgiving break, I had to hop a plane to NYC for work. I would be away from my littles for almost a week. This was the first time I was away from baby T. It was a tough transition, but we made it work. The following week, I jetted off to Boulder for training. I don't like to go into detail about my actual "job," because I like to keep it separate. But for point of reference, I felt I had to include some high-level tidbits. Anyway, we are in the middle of some serious projects and all hands are on deck. I'm so blessed to work with intelligent, high level thinkers. I'm even more blessed to have an understanding manager. We are all pitching in and doing what needs to get done when Tesla comes down with a fever. Because it is near the holiday break for schools, my husband can't take time off for work. Aaaaack!

Mommy guilt sets in, but I need to go into the office. I'd been pushing meetings off all week to try to curb this illness of hers (nevermind my own tonsils and adenoids are out of control), when Friday hit. Enter my Father. Thank goodness he is in town. He's here to help my mother recover, but they both selflessly agreed to help me out. I've been going back and forth in my brain about whether or not I needed to be home. I know I need to be with my little one. I know I need to be at work. I have to do a good job at work so that I can have the healthcare for my little one in case this illness gets worse. Seriously, I don't know how single parents without family or other support nearby. All morning I've had this anxiety and worry over me. All morning I've been beating myself up about it.

And then I saw this photo and it gives me hope...hope that there is humanity and understanding.


I'm immediately reminded of Alicia Keys' Superwoman.....my favorite line: even when I'm a mess, I still put on a vest with an S  on the chest, oh yes Go on with your bad self, Alicia. Hell yeah! I'm feelin' better. Play this and toast yourself if you are a hard working parent.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Cards 2011


Mpix.com card

paper coterie card

Do you all have the tradition of sending holiday cards? We do. This tradition  began with my mother. I always wondered why she went through such a fuss about it. It seemed to be quite an effort. Handwriting out the addresses, writing notes to a few friends, too. Sometimes there was a family pic. Usually, though, she would include our school pics from that year. We would have to hand write on the back of each photo with a personal sentiment.

Then she discovered calendars. So, she would mail off 50 or so calendars, emblazoned with our family name at the bottom. We would quietly giggle when the company would misspell one of our names. Usually it was my name or my mother's. Then they would send us another bajillion calendars to apologize. Mom, not one to waste anything, would mark through the error and still hand out the others.
Then it was a matter of putting together the packages. I remember licking endless amounts of envelopes and stamps. We would haul them to the post office, and toss them in the delivery bins. I always thought the postal system was magic! (And then they mis-placed my first package and the awesomeness has long since faded. Sad that I expect my packages to NOT arrive if I mail them from an unfamiliar location. Seems like a waste of money, but I digress.)

Fast forward many, many years and here I am, mailing my own holiday cards. We take our own family portrait (thanks Chera!) and order our cards. This year, I have ordered from Paper Coterie and Mpix. Mpix has been outstanding!! I ordered on Friday, and had them in my hands on Monday! They are super high quality, too! The coloring is spot on. My Paper Coterie cards arrived in about a week. Not too shabby, either! I really liked the linen feel of their paper. (see them above)

This year, I finally put my addresses in a Master spreadsheet. (Hello 21st Century) I hand addressed each one, though. The return address, we used is a stamp from 3 Designing Women. I love this little stamp. It adds extra fanciness to the card and Mari can easily be involved in the process (not just the licking part!).

pile of cards

All this to say, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you in the Blogworld! Cheers to the past and a future year, too!



Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 on Thursday

My friend E participates in these 10 on Tuesday memes. I have never participated, but I like reading hers. Anyway, in typical Bianca fashion, I'm doing mine on a Thursday. And hopefully, this will end the drought that has been on this ol' blog. Have y'all even missed me? Hmmm... ;)


1. How do you eat your eggs? 
Over real easy or scrambled with cream cheese (best scrambled eggs evaaaaaaah!!!)

2. Do you volunteer? 
Yes, I try to volunteer at least once a quarter. Giving back is a basic principle in my life.

3. What’s your favorite brand of jeans? 
I'd have to say either Joe's Jeans or David Kahn. 

4. What was your child’s first word? Or what was your first word? 
Mari's first word was Po-po (for Guapo) and Tesla's first word was Mooooom, which means food. My first word was cow. 

5. Can you french braid? 
Yes, many different types, too!

6. Do you prefer wide rule, college rule, or blank paper? 
blank notecards and college ruled paper

7. Is there a specific treat do you always make during the holidays? 
Cookies or some sweet treat. Gotta have the cookies for Santa!

8. Do you have a KitchenAid mixer? Do you want one? 
Sadly, no, I don't have one. I was moments late from the accidental Home Depot sale from years ago. I do love my Bosch kitchen machine, though!

9. What kind of computer do you use? 
Gateway laptop at home, Lenovo laptop for work...both have their own colorful flair lids (yes, PC, not Mac)

10. Favorite Christmas movie?
It used to be the older Miracle on 34th Street. I like that too, but I also like Elf. 6 inch curls!!! Impossible!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happy 8 Months Tesla Jane

Dear Sugarbaby,

Hard to believe it has been 8 short months since you blessed us with your presence. Every day, your personality is shining more. You are one curious little baby! You do a tremendous job of effectively communicating your desires with us as well!


  • This past month, you have clearly said, "Mama" You have also said, "Dada," "Papa," and "Mmmmmmaaaa"
  • You understand what "no" means. If, however, you elect not to pay attention to said "no" you will turn around, flash us a smile and proceed to do whatever you please. 
  • You survived Mommy's first trip away from you. I was gone for 4 days and 3 nights. During that time, we would video chat each night and you were an old pro.
  • You also enjoyed your first big family holiday party! You were a champ on the 7+ hour road trip. 
  • This past month, you have been pushing the cause and effect boundaries! You drop toys, we pick them up. You scratch my face when I'm sleeping, I shriek with pain and you belly laugh. You slap my face while nursing and laugh when I tell you "no." (see above)
  • You also tried new foods and really enjoyed them! 
  • You are wearing size 12 months clothing and size 3 shoe. Your feet are tiny compared to the rest of your body. 
  • Still no teeth, but you are working on them. You have been a drooling machine!
That's it for this update. We love you! This next month will be pretty amazing. As every other month has been!

XXOO

Love always, 
Mommy!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Purse...

My friend Dianthe recently wrote a post highlighting her purse and changing it out for the new season. In it, she asks what is in our purse. Well, first of all, I wanted to highlight my purse right now:


I left the paper clip in there for size reference. For those of you who know me, this is quite a feat for me to shrink down to this size of a bag on a daily basis. Of course, I'm maintaining some level of "me" because this is a Coach. In my former life (before kids, and yes, even before my beloved), I set money aside every paycheck solely devoted to the purchase of shoes and handbags. You would think that I would have a closet gloriously filled with both, but alas, I have a few remnants of that time, 3 are my Coach bags, 2 Dooney & Bourke bags, 2 Prada bags, and a few evening clutches. I won't even get into the shoes!

This bag was gifted to me by one of my dear friends, Danika (gracias hermana!). I was so excited to receive it because this meant that I wasn't going to have to constantly switch bags, forgetting things in the shuffle. In it I have:

  • 1 pen refill that acts as a skinny pen
  • 83 cents in change
  • a couple of receipts
  • rewards cards to Buzz Brews, Three Dog Bakery Treat of the Month, Miyoshi & Red Mango
  • $10 cash (shocker! I usually only carry $5)
  • tiny lip gloss sample from Avon
  • 2 band-aids
  • security access card for work
  • two wallets...one for cards and the other for the important cards. I made the one on the left with some black and white oilcloth I picked up years ago from City Craft using a Valori Wells Sewing Card.

Actually, I need to highlight the one on the left. It took me about 15 minutes total to whip up that little guy. The intention of it was for the fabrics to be opposite, but I didn't quite "get" the cards instructions and had them backwards. This wasn't anything new. Also, the insides of the pockets are a little zig-zagged. Another classic Bianca mistake that actually gives special flair to it. The diagonals work really well for me. Before I had my black Coach bag, this little wallet would roam to all sorts of bags with me. I have the order of the cards memorized! I'm thinking I may have to make another soon, though because the striped fabric is definitely wearing thin.

There you have it. My tiny bag!

My weekend go-to handbags that double as diaper bags will almost always have the following: wallet, a pen, sunglasses, cloth diaper, wipes, travel kleenex, pacifier, note pad, extra pens for Mari to draw or write with, a needle & thread, reusable waterbottle, reusable grocery bag, lip gloss, perfume roller, hair tie, coupons for various places to dine out, breath mints and/or gum, an energy bar, loose change, earrings or necklaces, post-it tabs, anti-bacteria soap, and an emergency straw (what, you don't have an emergency straw?).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

HDMR: Fast Five

We like muscle cars and unrealistic car chasing scenes. It's no wonder that we enjoyed this film as well. I think what we enjoyed the most about this one, though, was the reappearance of our favorite characters from all of the other shows. This cast was PACKED with all sorts of star power. I mean, Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel in a movie. It was so much fun. Albeit, a little awkward for the director to shoot, I'm sure. I liked how they worked that Hollywood magic to make them seem like a similar size, knowing Dwayne Johnson towers over him! Seriously, I know he's a big dude! In hind sight, it probably would have been more fun to watch on the big screen instead of on our regular ol' TV (yes, we still don't have a hi-def TV, whatever). If you like action, if you like adventure, if you like cars, and you don't really care about cheesy dialogue, then you will totally enjoy this movie. It's definitely a fun way to pass 130 minutes. My only gripe is that (spoiler alert) Jordana Brewster's character, Mia, is pregnant. She goes through some pretty intense scenes, and quite frankly, other than them saying she was pregnant, you never would have known that she was at all pregnant. No symptoms, no cautious maneuvers, she was still running around as if pregnancy is a walk in the park. For some it is, but still (really Bianca, because so much of the rest of this show is realistic and believable). Like I said, taking that out of the picture, it's a fun ride and I would definitely recommend the rental! I rate this a hefty slice of pie with a giant scoop of Blue Bell vanilla...a la mode, baby!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Taking Care of Your Body

Jacki is a wealth of information and knowledge, but she's also inspiring. She isn't full of those cheesy quotes that, I'll admit, I like, but sometimes are annoying. She keeps it real. For example:  
"Please, friends, take your health seriously! Fix your diet! Exercise! You are NOT super human!"
I'd been boo-hooing to myself about my ankle and making all sorts of excuses to not workout. I mean, really, c'mon. I have the dang TV on. I even have it on the free OnDemand section, more often than not. I just need to scroll on over to the Exercise section and get moving. But NOOOoO! I want to run. I want foot to hit pavement and log miles. I like seeing the distance. I like the running endorphins. Who is this crazy person talking in my head? Oh, yeah, it's that tiny voice inside of me that was quivering with emotion because just 3 short years ago, I was in New York running a marathon!

I made a promise to myself that I would run, no matter the pain on Monday. Even if it was just a quarter mile, I just needed to get moving and get back on track. Luckily for me, I had some things going for me. Redbox sent me a code for a free movie. HOORAY! I weighed myself earlier and somehow managed to break the threshold that I haven't broken since 3 years ago!! REALLY! 3 years since I was last in this weight category!!! My little goal of 1lb per week is working! I wanted to keep it at, so a run would only help that.
And then it started sprinkling.
My head was pounding, dinner was ready when I got home, I needed to edit photos, visit mom, catch up with a friend, all of this nonsense that is my typical evening. My nephew was playing his final football game and I really wanted to be there, but with the girls schedule (or lack thereof, but I'm trying to get them on one), I wished him good luck and he understood. Even better when my sister told me that it may be cancelled because of lightning.

I snuggled Tesla-bug in our bed and she nursed for a bit. I was totally zapped and ready to nap, when I looked up. Don was dressed to go for a run. He had Mari ready and was preparing the stroller. So, I too got dressed. I threw on my shorts and my old marathon long sleeve tech shirt. It was humid. I thought, "Quick run, Bianca. You have to run fast to beat this rain. It's a short two miles!" I set the timer and off we went. And boy howdy did we take off! I logged that first mile in under 9 minutes! We had a short break at the stop light and at Redbox. (After all, they were the reason we were running to begin with.) It started sprinkling, but I didn't pay any attention. It felt GREAT! While we were waiting for the light to change, I did some squats and air squats with jumps. Mari had a wonderful kick out of it, commanding me to do more jumping. She's such a hardcore trainer, that one!

On the trip back, though, my lungs began to catch fire again. My throat was feeling it, but I pressed on. As we trekked across the concrete, though, I slipped a bit. My ankles were fine, but I swore I had mis-stepped. No worries, my initial body check still felt normal. I kept running, even though my pace had slowed dramatically. That was until we ran past crazy homeless man who was shouting Jet's "Cold Heart B!tch" song. Um, no thank you crazy dude. Keep those lyrics to yourself and out of earshot of my 3 year old who wants to repeat everything. I sensed Don speed up and his uneasiness. I kicked it in gear and my fight or flight response really kicked in. I don't know, but when I passed him, I got the super-duper willies! Yikes! Then, I really kicked up the run, and was running alongside Don. I was steady at an 8:30 mile pace uphill in the wet grass (the sidewalk wasn't wide enough) to get away from him. And then my imagination took me to The Walking Dead and all I could think was us desperately fleeing hungry zombies. What a horrific thought! But it got me going!

An hour after the run, my ankle started to swell, but it wasn't in dramatic pain. However, my back....ugh! My poor, poor back. I wanted to say I was suffering sympathy pains for my mother, but no, this was my doing. I somehow tweaked it and it became painful to sit, stand, or walk. Don ran off to the store to buy a new heating pad (mine finally bit the dust after, oh, 15 years). While he was gone, I took a hot bath with a Calavera Lush bath bomb and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. Yeah, I know, I've been reading that book for over a year now. Whatever. It takes that long when you only read two paragraphs every other week! I think I only have 3 chapters before I'm done, though! yaay!

At work, my back was still screaming, despite taking an Advil. I scurried down to the little bodega on the first floor with hopes they would have a Thermacare heating pad. WHAT LUCK! Of course they did! They have everything in there, including Silver Oak wine, cigars, pregnancy tests, ice cream bars, lottery tickets, Hallmark cards, and well, any thing else you may need. I tore open the package and put it on. Within half an hour, I had some much needed relief! I made it through the rest of the day, but I will definitely be icing it before my next run and scheduling an appointment with my chiropractor to get adjusted!

All that to say, take care of your body. Listen to what it says! Maybe mine is telling me to give the running a rest and get back into yoga with intermittent runs.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Behind the Lens

If I'm not behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen, my next favorite place to create is behind a camera, happily clicking away. There's just something about capturing the right moment and freezing it forever. I like to do that with my memories, but having an actual photo really helps to seal that memory forever. I must admit, the first few times I was captured while "working" I was a little embarrassed, but now, I think it is fun. It is great to see how other's "see" me. 

soila-418



Bianca Tx Tech 2011-1







This is me working a pose. If I've "shot" you, and you are female, then you know this pose well.
Bianca Tx Tech 2011-2
It's no wonder we have our very own mini poser in the family. :)


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Corpse Bride

I was the awesome guinea pig for Mandi's Halloween make-up. She works some magic, let me tell you. She told me she had some grand ideas for me, one of which was the Corpse Bride.

Bianca MakupMandi Halloween 2011-11

I went over, we had an amazing dinner, a couple of drinks and next thing I knew, I'd been transformed. See, magic!

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Depression and Sadness

These past few weeks have been unfettered chaos. I keep waiting for that "normal" to show up, but normal as I know it has long since taken a vacation and I'm not quite sure if or when it will return. For the first time today, it dawned on me, as I sat at a red light sobbing, this is what it feels like to be teetering on the edge of ultimate fragile sadness. In the past, I've suffered from depression. I have spoken with therapists before, but I've never taken any medication. I always tried to approach things a more natural way and fortunately for me, that has worked. Not that being medicated is bad. If you feel that you may be depressed, then by all means, go seek professional help and see if you can get on a little something that will help you! During those times, I was wallowing in sadness, but I didn't really have a "reason" for sadness. I was just sad. Yeah, there were triggers and pressures, but nothing that caused me overwhelming heartache.

Seeing my mother in her hospital bed, a slight form of what I've known her to be, well, it is heartbreaking. Before I see her, though, I shake out all of the blues and I check it at the door of the hospital. Every minute I spend with her, I emit a thousand watts of positivity and love. Every fiber in me KNOWS she will get better, but that doesn't make it hurt any less when I see her hurt the way she's hurting.

And then there's friends and loved ones. 

Do you know, I don't think I've ever felt more special and more loved than I do during this time. We've been surprised with meals, with notes of support, with texts, with private messages, with telephone calls, with hugs, with cards....with love. Just when I think things are going to break me, I will look in my mailbox and see a handwritten card from afar. When I've had a particularly rough day (and there have been more than not), I'm surprised with homemade brownies or cookies. Oh, and the meals...the last thing that I've wanted to think about was what to cook (even though it is definitely cathartic for me to be in the kitchen), a precious loved one has taken the time to make us a meal or sent a gift card. Thank you! All of you, thank you! There's a big ol' lump of love that gets caught up in my throat, I'm so utterly humbled by the generosity!

This past week, someone made the comment to me, "Bianca, you always go out of your way to make people feel special." I marinated on that statement and thought of Mom. She lived the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. It is only natural I do my best to do the same.

Even though I have this sadness, it is comforting to know that I'm not alone. Thank you for all of your positive thoughts and prayers. They are working! Mom hears them and feels them. We feel them! Thank you, infinite thank you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Product Review: Baby Nasa Kleen

I will be talking about mucus and snot in this post. I can understand if you don't want to read any further. Thought I'd be courteous and warn you. Don't say I didn't give the warning.
When my girlfriend first told me about her Nosefrida, I was a bit eeked out. Intrigued, but still wondering how you prevented swallowing any of your kids snot.

The first few months of Tesla's life, we thought we were going to escape the runny noses and congestion like we did with Mari. Mari's first two years of life were spent in a perpetual state of congestion, upper respiratory infections, and what not. We were heavily reliant upon those nasal aspirators that we received from the hospital. We were so happy to have gotten an extra one just in case. When we were in the hospital with Tesla, once again, we picked up an extra one. Unfortunately, it wasn't as powerful as the others that we had. Not sure why, but oh well.

Here lately, she's been sneezing out thick congestion, that I can only describe as life sized slugs. How she has that much mucus is beyond me, but I am more than certain she is uncomfortable with it all. Our aspirators just weren't cutting it. So when my BFF mentioned coming across the Baby Nasa Kleen at Whole Foods, I figured, why not. Her own little one was going through a similar struggle. She showed me everything that was included in the kit and I was able to see how it all worked. What would it hurt? The convenience factor, plus being less expensive than the other, had me sold on giving it a whirl.

I took it home, cleaned it, then handed it to Don to use on Tesla. I hadn't been feeling well, and I knew I didn't have the suctioning power as him, since he was healthy. After a few tries, he was telling me it was a dud. He was ready to go back to the struggle with the bulb syringe. Well, when I had to stay home with her, the congestion was overwhelming and I had no idea where the bulb syringe was. (I later found it amongst the other precious things our imp of a 3.5 year old likes to hoard.) I sterilized my mouth with some mouthwash, and went to town. Wow! That's all I can say. wow. It didn't take very long and boy howdy, was there a lot that came out. Even though there was so much, it only half filled the tube. I yielded just as much out of the other nostril and opted to repeat on each one. After I was done, she gave me a look of gratitude and curled in to rest a bit more.

I cleared out the tube by blowing everything into a napkin, during the process. When I was done, I cleaned each part and replaced the filter.

So here is how it works and the parts of it:

  1. Mouthpiece - What goes into your mouth
  2. Plastic tube - About a foot and a half of flexible/pliable tubing
  3. Plastic chamber - This is actually 3 inches wide and one side has a screw on lid that connects the tubing to it. The other side has ridges to screw on the nasal nozzle.
  4. Nasal nozzle - Made up of medical grade silicone and safe for the baby. It has a small enough tip to fit comfortably in your little ones nose, but could fit into an adult nose and a toddler nose.
  5. Filters - These sponge like filters fit at the base of the plastic chamber where the tube connects to it. They are about the size of an m&m and are what prevent you from inhaling any snot. Included in the kit are 20 filters.
  6. Traveling case - You also get a nifty travel case to keep it all in. 
That's it. Pretty simple tool, but highly effective. I think what happened with my husband is that everything was too thick and he couldn't get anything out. In that case, you should use a couple of saline drops to help loosen it up, then suction. I would highly recommend this product if you are in search of something to help ease up the congestion. I could see this being helpful to those whose little ones haven't learned to blow yet, either. Cost, $10 at Whole Foods. They did not carry the replacement filters.

**I was not approached by Baby Nasa Kleen to mention this product. Nor was I asked to mention Nosefrida. These opinions are my own.**

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Open Letter to my 2nd Born: Happy 7 Months

Dear Little Miss Tesla Jane,

You bring such a smile and joy to my life. You are probably the absolute most headstrong, laid-back baby I've ever known. You are so absolutely precious, definitely a gift from above to our family. You are so inquisitive of the world around you and I am quite impressed with how far reaching your glance takes you. You notice things far beyond what I would expect your immediate gaze would take you. You can't seem to get enough of it.

This past month, you have done amazing things!

  • You are fully mobile! You are a crazy crawling baby!
  • Not only are your crawling, but you are pulling up on everything.
  • Not only that, but you are now cruising along! 
  • You really like to crawl across the living room and head butt my legs and feet. 
  • You do this at night when we are sleeping, too. (or trying to sleep)
  • You are so proud of yourself when you feed yourself, too!
  • You love carbs. You go nuts for toast! 
  • You definitely go bananas for bananas. 
  • The rest of the stuff: mango, applesauce, sweet potato, acorn squash, butternut squash, pears, peaches, grapes, and rice, you are indifferent. You will eat it, but don't go crazy for it. 
  • You don't have teeth yet, but you do like to chew on everything. 
  • You have gigglefits like you wouldn't believe. They don't happen too, too often, but they do happen and wow, what a joy they are. We've all been pretty stressed out the past few weeks, and you have been an amazing source of happiness.
  • Oh, and paper...I don't know what it is with you and paper. Your sister had a similar love affair. 
  • And pulling my hair.
  • You are babbling more, doing your best to try to communicate with us. You don't sign at all, but that's ok. I can pretty much infer what you are trying to mean.
  • You still adore opera and classical music. Frequently, I find out pounding your tiny fist against harder surfaces in perfect rhythm. amazing, indeed.
  • You will sit perfectly still listening to books and stories. You, however, have no interest in television or movies. Smart gal! 
  • Your hair has grown a little more and it is a light dark brown with bits of blonde in it. You still have hazel eyes, too. 
  • You are in the 95th percentile in height, weight, and head size.
  • You still have tiny, tiny feet.
  • You have attended your first concert (Incubus), you've gone on a few road trips, and have assisted us on photo shoots. 
  • The love you have for your sister melts my heart. Already, you two have such a special relationship, just as it should be. 

Life with two has been challenging, but infinitely filled with joy! We give thanks to our Lord everyday for our blessing; chiefly for you and your sister.

We love you, Sugarbaby!

San Antonio 2011-14

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beanies by Stacie Winner!

Congratulations Mandi! You are the lucky winner of a brand new pair of custom made slippers by Beanies by Stacie!! Hope your toes stay nice and toasty (I nearly spelled toes-ty, ha ha!)

Please email Stacie with your size, color preference, and address, referencing this giveaway.

Thank you all for entering the contest! Stay warm this winter!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Milk Mothers & Other All Natural Things

We all know that breast is best when it comes to our child. There are other benefits to nursing as well. You lower your risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. We have also been able to save money since we don't have to buy formula.

With Mari, we had to start supplementing her meals around 5 or 6 months. She had some form of breastmilk until 9 months. This time around, I was sure to stockpile my reserve when my milk first came in. Of course, we blew through that pretty quickly. Pumping at work just doesn't yield the same volume as when I'm around her. On the weekends, we only have to hit up the stash when Don is giving me a break. Even then, I try to pump as soon as possible.

This week, she will turn 7 months old. During that time, she has only had 2 oz of formula around the 2nd week of her life. The rest of the time, she's been nourished with breastmilk. BUT! I was very, very lucky to have generous friends who were willing to share their unused supply. One gal had to stop her nursing relationship early, and gave Tesla the 100+ ounces she'd had frozen. We have used that supply over the past month and a half to make her cereals and food. My other friend has given us oh so much, that we have been able to extend this journey a couple of months longer. I like to lovingly refer to these beautiful mothers as Tesla's Milk Mothers. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mandi & Stephanie!

There's nothing wrong with having to supplement either. It was just the choice that we had made for our little ones. I think if you can go as long as you can, then that's amazing! Great job! I do lament, though, the loss of our nursing relationship. I know my supply is dwindling and we will soon have to supplement. That doesn't mean that I will give up automatically. I still plan to continue pumping until she reaches 9 months or my supply is totally gone. And thank you concerned folks who have offered up advice to increase my supply. I've tried it all except a prescription.

Back to the topic at hand, though. When I mentioned to someone that Tesla had milk mothers, they appallingly looked at me with disgust. I found it interesting that we, as a society, accept giving cow's milk to our young, but something as natural as breastmilk seems a foreign concept. Then again, I was part of that group not long before I had children. Then, I decided to learn more.

Anyway, all that to say, I'm incredibly grateful for my friends and for the gifts they've given.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hairstyle Winner...

Remember when i asked your opinion a bit back on which hairstyle I should pick? Well, thank you all for voting and taking the time to write in. Honestly, I'd had my decision made until she actually started cutting. And then, when she got going, I just told her to keep going. 6 inches whacked off and I feel so much better. My hair is healthier and happier. I'm beginning to feel more like my "normal" self, too. It has since turned under itself instead of the outward flip it had when I left, but it is great, still. I think I *might* even start wearing it down more. yeah right


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Stronger

This amps me up! Get it, girls! GIRL POWER!!! RAWWWRRR!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Product Review: Beanies by Stacie + a Giveaway!

 
First of all, I just want to point out that I happened upon Beanies by Stacie through a local Mom's board. I'd always admired the work, but it wasn't until I was barely pregnant with Tesla that I finally ordered something. I ordered a cocoon from her and just said, surprise me when I told her the colors. I might have mentioned I wanted something pastel and organic feeling. This is what she came up with:


Then, she had her annual Christmas in July sale, so I jumped on that deal! I ordered hats for myself and my girls. Not only that, but I requested some slippers for all of us, too! She complied and boy howdy do I love them!!!



Not only that, but Tesla seems to love her hat too!

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I know some of you have Christmas gifts on the brain. Well, I would highly recommend you check her out. She has quite a few ready to ship items available, too! She's super quick, the quality is unparalleled, and she's just awesome! 

Now for a giveaway! I'm feeling the love that you all have been giving me for my mom. Thank you for those warm virtual hugs!! I would like to return the warmth! One lucky comment will receive a pair of slippers handmade by Beanies by Stacie courtesy of Hello Bianca! (yeah, that's me and I just totally referred to myself in the 3rd person, ha ha!) Here's how you can win:
  1. Go fan her on Facebook and tell her I sent you! Leave me a comment saying you did! 
  2. Leave me a comment telling me why you need your very own pair of slippers and what colors you would choose.
  3. Share this giveaway with a friend on twitter, facebook, through a blog, or even a copy and paste. Leave a comment telling me you did.
All comments must be made on my main blog page: www.hellobianca.com This contest will end in one week on November 2nd. Good luck!

**This review and giveaway are totally my own out of the goodness of my heart because I wanted to share an awesome product. I was not approached by Beanies by Stacie to do a review, nor the giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Fighter

We are still unclear as to what is going on with Mom, but she is continuing to fight whatever it is that is ailing her. The biggest offender, the experts believe, is a staph infection. They think this bacteria was dormant in her body and awoke with a fury as a result of this operation.We will have a better understanding of what is to come when the cultures come back. In the meantime, thank you for your prayers! She really is a fighter!

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And I have to admit, I got more than choked up when I took this photo. My sister said it best, "Love this Picture B! Good job for capturing something I took for granted seeing my whole life!"

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Monday, October 24, 2011

A Baker in Progress

We made pumpkin empanadas. This was the first time I really let go and allowed her to do almost all of the work. I helped her to create a separate batch and wow, were they delicious!

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