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!


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