Friday, December 30, 2005

Las Nuevas Tamaleras* No More

The plan was for my sister and niece to come from San Diego after Christmas so we could all make tamales together because we missed the lessons at my cousin's restaurant. But as it turned out one sister went to Mexico with one of our cousins and my niece had drivers' ed.

When things didn't go as planned I assumed that we weren't going to do the tamale thing after all. Turns out they still wanted to do it but I had already told our "teacher," my mother-in-law, that we weren't going to do it after all. Then she told me they had a party to go to Friday night and she had a cold and Rey was having knee surgery so it just didn't seem like a good idea any more.

Instead my other sister brought over her free turkey and she and San Diego sister are making turkey and stuffing. I laughed at the thought. I told my sisters that we pretended to be tamaleras and instead we ended up making a very American food. What a contrast! We can't deny or American selves.


What I Really Want to Say

It's so sad that when I blog I don't feel like I say what I really want to say for various reasons. First one is the need to be politically correct. I don't want to offend anyone. Then there's the not so new news that employers are now reading people's private blogs and people are being fired over what they write.

Sometimes when I say I wish I could write full time for a living I fear that this will come back and bite me in the butt and hurt me professionally. I fear that anyone like my boss or a co-worker or colleague who happens upon my blog will think (or know) that I would rather be writing full time instead of working in Corporate America and then they either won't take me seriously at work or they won't hire me for a position.

The truth is that even if I publish my book and become very successful I will have to continue working for Corporate America for the stability and the insurance. That's just reality of the day and age we live in. I have two small children and can't afford to live without insurance.

Which reminds me of something else that is senseless. Now this I will say something about. We received a letter at work alerting us that our insurance would increase in 2006. Well not only is it increasing, it's going to DOUBLE! Yes double. And the best part about it is that those that make the least in the company will not receive such a large increase. Their increase will be very small in comparison. So in other words, the more money you make the more you have to pay for insurance.

Then when I ask Rey to tell me again how much is his company's insurance for full coverage for the 4 of us and he tells me it's still double the amount I'm paying with my increase. In other words, in 2005 I used to pay per month what Rey's insurance costs per week. Isn't that just INSANE?!

Well speaking of insurance some more, Rey had to have knee surgery today and he's going to be home for two weeks. I wish I could stay home that long! Seriously, he had some damage inside his knee and they straightened it out today and he should be good as new in a couple of weeks.

Sisters are getting pedicures and then they're coming over to cook a turkey and stuffing. Yum! Baby is napping so I'm going to write for a little bit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I'm Dragging to Work

I find it very hard to work when I know that I only have to work two days and then I'm on vacation again. I have a five day weekend!! I'm so excited to have Thursday and Friday off. I'm also excited that my sister's coming to visit and we get to sit around drinking coffee and talking and relaxing. YUM!

I have two things to look forward to in the next few weeks. I have my reading in 3 1/2 weeks and I have my trip to NYC in 7 weeks. I need to start planning for the NY trip!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Day Off

It's Monday but it's a holiday for many of us worker folk since yesterday was Christmas. For me it's a great extra day off. My sister asked me yesterday, "Please tell me you have tomorrow off." She said this because she thinks it's hilarious how the newspaper only gives us the really major holidays off and we don't have the Friday after Thanksgiving off either. I remind her that a newspaper runs 24 hours a day.

I've been up since 7:30 again, courtesy of my wonderful son. I took him upstairs to my writing room and turned on cartoons for him on the TV up there. I always forget I have a TV up there.

He watched TV and played for a while and let me write around 700 words. I pretty much finished the chapter I've been working on the last week and now I only have 2 chapters to finish. I already started those chapters so I don't need much more to finish them.

It feels good! I just can't believe that it takes me this long to get going and when I do make it a point to write diligently every day I love how it feels. That's when I wish I could write every day. I do write every day, just not necessarily my novel.

Short week this week. I work Tuesday and Wednesday then I'm off Thursday and Friday. I've decided to write the entire day on Thursday. I'm taking the kids to the sitter so I can work and I'm going to pretend for one day like I'm a writer who works at home.

I hope there aren't too many people at the movies today. I'm going to see The Family Stone at 1:45 with a friend Alice. My friend who also cleans my house.

Speaking of cleaning my house. She couldn't come last week because she had to have some outpatient work done so my house is a MESS! It's crazy. I haven't really had time to clean since I've been doing laundry too. Too crazy! How did our mothers do it? Oh yeah, they didn't work when their kids were this small. Yeah, right!

1,000+ Words Today

Yeah! I'm very proud of myself. I wrote for about 45 minutes this morning and I wrote a little over 1,000 words. That's my best day ever. I'm addicted now! It's like I need to finish it.

Plan is to try and have it finished by January and then I'll get started on the revising work while I shop for an agent. If any of you writers have a good one you'd like to recommend send me a separate e-mail to my shoegirl address.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Up at the Crack of Dawn

Good morning. I'm up because the baby woke up screaming and pointing like he was having a nightmare. I couldn't console him so I went and made his morning bottle and Rey crawled into bed with him to calm him down. Pretty soon he was falling back asleep when I came back with the bottle.

I decided to go ahead and stay up. It was already 7 a.m. and I know myself. If I go lay down again I won't get up. I want to make it out in field service today. Yes, I do that too.

I put on a pot of coffee and went to the washroom to take out a load from the dryer and put in a load that washed last night. I also threw a small load into the washer. I hate sounding so domestic but I am so freakin' excited to have a washer again. Our washer gave us problems a while back and Rey ended up finding out what was really wrong with it. He ordered the parts he needed online and we have a washer again! YEAH!

How many of you listen to the Writer's Almanac on NPR? I love that show. You can also listen to it online. My favorite stories are the ones about the poor struggling writers who start writing for some totally practical reason and end up successful. Those are real Cinderella stories.

On to the day. It's already 7:35!

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Parent Moment

I had one of those moments Wednesday that people tell you you'll have but you are still shocked when it happens to you.

My 4 year old told me she had "something" to show me and then closed the door to my Circa 1930 art deco wardrobe. She had decided to scratch all kinds of markings into the door of my wardrobe with a pen. I was mortified. All I could do was scream and point. Rey came running and he was equally shocked. When we asked her why she had done this she couldn't offer any reasonable explanation except for some crazy story about playing with her dollies.

I swear! I could not even believe this was happening to me. Later after she was punished and sent to bed early and later I went and laid down next to her. Whenever we discipline her she wants to know if we still love her. I told her that I love her but that I was very disappointed in what she had done. She told me innocently, "But I didn't do anything to the sides."

Yes thank goodness you didn't baby. At least it's only the door that we'll have to get redone. Isn't parenting fun!?

The next morning she's watching Noggin, or one of those kids' channels, and she's singing along to this song. She's singing it with such passion and well after the song ended on the television. I could tell she could relate to the words.

"We're not perfect, but we got what we got!" she sang at the top of her lungs as I strapped her into her booster seat in the SUV to go to the babysitter's.

"None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes," and I kiss her on the forehead before closing the door.

I called a woman I know who specializes in antiques and she asked me to call her back and she'll give me the names of about 3 or 4 people who specialize in re-finishing antiques. We got this piece for such a bargain and now we'll have to pay what we probably should have paid for it originally.

I Really Have Been Doing It

Staying true to my word I haven't been blogging until I write, but since I've been writing I haven't had time for blogging. So there you have it.

I wrote Monday morning, Tuesday during lunch and for a couple of hours in the evening, Wednesday I can't remember, Thursday I didn't write, and today I wrote for an hour.

Today you all would have been proud of me. I got off from work a couple of hours early and I had time to either get my hair trimmed or for a pedicure. I chose to do neither one and I wrote for an hour. I was very proud of my wise choice. That's the kind of self discipline I need to have.

I have more to say about a variety of other topics but I don't have much time tonight. I'm tired. Long week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Taking a Break

Dear Readers,

If you don't see me posting for a while don't stop checking in on me. I have promised myself not to blog each day until I've written something for my novel for that day. That's my new rule. So when you see a post from me you'll know that I wrote that day, at least for half an hour, if not more.

An advertising colleague, (can I call him that if he's more of a mogul?) who I know here locally is going to give me a wristband I heard he had. It says, "Hazlo Con Pasion."I heard about it when I was at the AHAA conference in NYC and I e-mailed him asking him about it yesterday. He wrote back today and said he's going to send me one.

Isn't that totally cool? I can't wait to receive it and to wear it because it talks about having passion. I want to live with passion or as Camus says, "Live to the point of tears."

So I'm going to be busy writing my novel for the next 4 weeks until my reading. Talk to y'all soon.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Books That Inspired Me as a Kid

One about a little pixie named Zoe and I can't find it now so I don't know the title.

All Beverly Cleary books and all Nancy Drew mysteries.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

Lillan by Gunilla Brodde Norris

Queenie Peavy by Robert Burch

Blue Willow by Doris Gates

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski

Take Cover! It's going to storm today

This morning I woke up at 5:20 a.m. The reason I woke up so early was because I heard the sound of my door opening or closing. I wasn't sure which one it was. I heard the beep beep and then nothing. I turned and looked at the clock because I knew Rey had left the bed a lot earlier and I saw that it was 5:20. He goes in at 5 so I panicked. I sprang out of bed, grabbed the phone, and locked my bedroom door. (Yes, the children were in the room with me.) I quickly dialed Rey's number and he answered with a concerned note in his voice, hearing from me so early.

"Did you just leave?"
"You scared me to death!"
Laughing, "WHY?"
"Well I heard the door chime and when I looked at the time and saw how late it was I didn't think it was you. Or I thought that maybe you forgot to set the alarm and someone had opened our garage door if it was unlocked."
"OK, be careful. I love you."

Then I went to use the restroom and I thought, "I'm wide awake. There's no reason why I shouldn't put on a pot of coffee and do some writing." So I did!

I wrote for an hour and now I need to get dressed for work and ready to go so I can get there 1/2 and hour early to leave early. I'm trying to work 8:30-5:30 on Mondays so I can make it to our book study at 6:30.

I'm trying to decide between 2 chapters for my reading next month. This is what I love about reading in public. It puts the fire under me to write and gets me up at ungodly hours like this one.

I noticed they don't give us the option to fix the time on here any more and the time runs an hour early I think, or is it an hour later? Whichever it is, it's almost 7 and I need to get dressed for work. Have a great day!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Meme Taken from Gwen

-3 names I go by:
Loda (my niece's pet name for me)
Lola Louise (long story also has to do with my niece)
Loida Casares Ruiz

-3 screen names I have:
cougargirl1970 (but I don’t use it any more)

-3 physical things I like about myself:
my eyes
my lips
my legs

-3 physical things I dislike about myself:
my post-2-childbirths stomach (sorry Gwen I had to copy this one because it's so true)
some of the funky skin moles that grow
my arms

-3 parts of my heritage:
(which is a mixture of Spanish, Indian, and French already)

-3 of my everyday essentials:
my cell phone

-3 of my favorite musicians:
Alanis Morisette
Martin Gore (Depeche Mode)

-3 of my favorite songs:
Pictures of You by the Cure
Somebody by Depeche Mode
You Learn by Alanis Morisette

-3 things that scare me:
losing my children
wasps and bees
getting cancer

-3 things I want in a relationship:

-3 lies I tell:
"You choose.”
"No, I'm not hungry."
"I’m not mad.”

-3 physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to me:
upper arms

-3 of my hobbies:
Scrapbooking our family albums

-3 things I really want to do right now with a special someone:
walk around New York museums
walk around Paris museums
walk the streets of Greece

-3 careers I've considered:
newspaper journalist
public relations

-3 places I'd like to go on vacation:
Caribbean Islands (for real this time)

-3 kids names I like:(in addition to my 2 kids’ names)

-3 things I'd like to do before I die:
make sure my kids are well taken care of
publish a successful book
write a screenplay that is made into a successful movie

-3 ways I'm a stereotypical guy:
can’t admit I’m wrong in a fight
extremely ambitious

-3 ways I'm a stereotypical girl:
I love shoes and purses
I love to talk on the phone
I cry at sad and/or romantic movies

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's Official! I'm reading!

I'll be reading on Saturday, January 21st at The Houston Institute for Culture. 5555 Morningside, Suite 204, Houston, Texas. There will be a short reception at 6 p.m. and the reading will be at 6:30. It's in the Rice Village.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Cheap Fuel $1

This morning while driving to my baby sitter's house I passed a McDonald's billboard that read "Cheap Fuel $1" and it pictures hashbrowns and some other fattening McDonald's food item. When I read that I was disgusted.

It reminded me of an article I read not to long ago about how it's harder for poor Americans to lose weight because healthier food costs more and you can get fattening bad food for cheap. If you don't know what I mean take a walk by the organic food at the super market or go into HEB Central Market or Whole Foods.

Then I came across this article that debates that idea. It points out that in a study some families saved money on food when they made healthier choices. My question is this. Were the families in the study under the poverty level or were they median household income families? I think that would affect the study, don't you? That's the funny thing about studies like this. They test these theories on a socioeconomic group or a sex that would be affected completely different from another one.

I also read this really sad article about this community near the Rio Grande Valley and I think it describes what is happening to our community especially in poverty stricken areas. This is so sad!,9950,1585316,00.html

It makes me think of what I can do as a mother and how I can help Miranda make better choices when we eat out and especially by being an example. What can we all do?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oscar Again and Walk the Line

First things first before I forget. My cousin Oscar Casares has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts! I'm very proud of my primo!

We went to see Walk the Line on Saturday night. I LOVED IT! LOOOVVVEEED it! It is a great movie. It's such a wonderful love story. This is coming from someone who knew nothing about Johnny Cash or June Carter. Joaquin Phoenix does a wonderful job singing. I didn't know what to compare it to but I went on and I listened to Joaquin and Johnny Cash both singing the same song. I went between the 2 albums listening to the samples and I couldn't believe that Joaquin could make his voice sound so much like Johnny Cash.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saturday Morning

I decided to make French toast for the first time in about 20 years. I'm not exaggerating! I haven't made French toast since I was a teenager. I heard someone say something about French toast this week and it made me crave it. I thought about it off and on during the week but I never have the luxury of making it or even going somewhere that makes it during the week. I think it came out OK but it's a little too eggy. I need to go lighter on the egg next time.

So now I'm sitting here enjoying my French toast with Miranda, drinking coffee and listening to my music. I feel inspired this morning but I have no time for inspiration. I'm going to the nail shop to get my feet done and maybe a little manicure too to make me feel good.

Something I learned a long time ago was that even if I'm not my ideal weight I should still take care of appearance. I feel like some women get so depressed by their weight that they let it all go. I saw some women like this on Oprah a couple of months ago. I noticed a pattern too. It seems to me that the women that get so depressed that they let themselves all go are the women who were really skinny at one point. Maybe it's because I was never really skinny that it makes it easier for me to deal with it and get on with the business of my life.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm happy being less than my ideal weight, but if I'm not that ideal size I'm not going to lay down and cry and stop doing my make-up and buying great shoes!

I know make-up is a controversial subject for some people. I've heard different opinions about it, like make-up is superficial and that women that wear it are really insecure and they feel like they need it and aren't proud of their natural beauty. WHATEVER! That is not my opinion and this blog is strictly my opinion so if you don't agree stop reading now.

I LOVE MAKE UP! Maybe it comes from having an Avon lady as a mother my whole life, or should I say her whole life. She started selling makeup when I was 1 month old and she sold it until her death, 2 months before her 30 year anniversary. Or maybe it comes from having 4 older sisters who also appreciate make-up. Let's just say make-up was not taboo in our home, instead it was embraced and my father appreciated make-up too. We also had the kind of father who noticed when women didn't shave their underarms or legs.

I've always worn make-up, gotten facials, had my nails done, etc.. One day I was having lunch with a girlfriend and I mentioned my weight struggle to her. She looked at me really surprised and said, “I never thought your weight bothered you!”

I was like, “What?” and she told me that she seriously never thought that my weight bothered me. I think she also said that I carried it well and with confidence. I thought that was a really interesting perception of me. I know why she said that though. She said it because I still care about the rest of my appearance.

This is by no means a brag session. The point I’m trying to make is that “una mujer debe de tener una poca de dignidad,” and if you aren’t skinny don’t lay down and cry! You’ll never lose weight that way! Because what will happen then is that you will start to feel really funky and worse about yourself and you’ll eat more and won’t exercise and it’s a vicious cycle. I know!

Oprah talks about reinventing yourself and I believe that it starts with taking care of your appearance, wearing make-up, and taking care of you. When you start feeling better about yourself you’ll want to look better too. You’ll start the exercise and you’ll eat better. And you’ll do it for the right reasons too. I don’t want to lose weight for looks. I consider that an added bonus because I know I’ll look better when I do lose weight. I want to lose weight for health purposes, to live longer for my kids and shouldn’t that be the reason why we do things?

So now I’m off to get a manicure and pedicure. Rey and I are having a date night tonight. We have gotten away from doing that and it’s something we really need. We haven’t been alone since the NY trip in October. We really need to take at least one date a month and have one trip a year together, just the 2 of us. Tonight it’s dinner and a movie. We’re going to go see “Walk the Line.”

Friday, December 09, 2005

BlackBerry and Girly Things

I love technology! I really do! I never thought I would be a techie kind of person but I have come to love gadgets, well most gadgets.

I loved my IPAQ but was never too crazy about my PalmOne. I just never took to the PalmOne much and I could never get synched right. Getting synched with my work computer is another crazy nightmare I don't even want to get into. It has been so difficult to get my IPAQ and/or PalmOne synched. I have high hopes for my BlackBerry.

When my PalmOne decided to start giving me problems and stopped synching to my work computer and then my phone broke, I decided it was time to combine the two. I hate carrying a phone and PDA to meetings. I went out and bought the new BlackBerry 7105. I LOVE IT!!! So far I can navigate through it pretty easily.

I love that I have Instant Messenger on it! That is too cool! So Sophie, you can IM me from Spain any time! Work may have firewalled our Yahoo Instant Messenger but now it's on my phone!

Monday the IT guy at work is going to install the software and is going to synch me to my work e-mail. I can wait!! Then we'll see if I still love my BlackBerry.

Of course I've had at least 2 people tell me they hope BlackBerry doesn't go out of business with all this lawsuit stuff. In answer to that I said, "It will all work out. Remember Two Pesos and Taco Cabana?" They were in a lawsuit because Taco Cabana said that Two Pesos had stolen their whole concept. TC won and all the Two Pesos became TCs. We didn't lose anything! What about HP buying Compaq? That worked out pretty well too. So I have faith that we'll be OK.

Today during lunch I did something really girly. I went to Bath & Body Works and I bought some more 'Grin and Bare It' body lotion. Great stuff! It has a wonderful lemony smell to it and it's not too creamy or wet. It dries right away. Also, I bought some body wash, mint lip gloss and the hand wash was on sale, 3 for $10. Then I went next door to the Children's Place to buy Seth a winter hat to match the super cute coat I bought him last week and I bought Miranda a sweatshirt and sweat pants.

OK I'm going to go take a bath with my new yummy smelling body wash now and I'll let y'all know how it smells.

Good night!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Texas Monthly December

If you live in Texas check out this month's Texas Monthly magazine for my cousin's latest article.

Christmas in Brownsville
My father, who had grown up on a farm, used to talk about his family’s killing a pig for the tamales, but this was back in the twenties.
by Oscar Casares

Pantyhose Lesson

“OK, sit down. First you bunch up the foot like this and place it over one foot. Now do the other foot. Okay, now pull them half way up your legs and stand up. Pull the panty hose up and then bend over and grab some of the loose part on your leg and pull it up gently. Gently, because you don’t want to tear the hose.”

“I did it Mommy!”

“Now you know how to put on panty hose. You’ll never forget this will you?”

“No, I’ll remember.”

She thinks I’m asking her if she’ll remember how to properly put on panty hose but what I’m really asking her is if she’ll ever forget the first day her mom showed her how to properly put on panty hose. She doesn’t realize she’s just crossed a little rite of passage for a little girl and her mom, even if these aren't really pantyhose, but only pink ballet tights.

She wants to start calling me “Mom.” “No!” I reply. I know she can call me whatever she wants and I know that inevitably I’ll become Mom but for now I love being Mami or Mommy.


“I don’t like Mom. I like Mami, like I used to call my mother.”

She looks puzzled but she doesn’t question me. She kisses me passionately on the cheek instead. My little passionate girl, so full of emotions and questions.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Cell Phone

So much for sleeping! I was getting comfortable to take a nap on my flight to Dallas Friday morning when the flight attendant said to turn off all electronic devices, including cell phones. I searched frantically through my bag for my cell phone, knowing full well the answer. The phone was sitting in my SUV in the garage at Hobby Airport.

That is such a horrible feeling. I would have used my cell phone at least a dozen times that day. I planned to call my husband as soon as I landed to tell him that I arrived, to call the agency reps I was planning to see, and to check my voice mail and to check into the office.

What is amazing is that thirteen years ago we wouldn't have used our cell phones as much as we do now. We had cell phones, the big bricks, but we didn't have calling plans like we do now that enable us to talk as much as we do. Which leads me to the next question we all ask ourselves periodically. How did we function without cell phones? We just did, didn't we and we knew no better, so we didn't miss them or need them.

I tried to figure out how I would get around making phone calls and I decided I could us the 1-800 number. I would get the secretary to transfer me in to Rey so I wouldn't have to call him long distance. The hilarious part was when I landed and found that 1-800 numbers don't work from pay phones and that the hotel house phones didn't dial 1-800 either because they didn't dial out. I ended up using the phone in the Business Center at the airport and at the hotel my generous friend from La Estrella (Ft Worth) let me borrow her phone.

I pictured my little cell phone, that I've dropped one to too many times, with its broken antenna and tape holding it in place, sitting all alone in my SUV ringing its little heart out. Travelers passing through the garage would pass by and would hear Mana's "Tu Eres Mi Religion" jingle on my phone and they'd peek in and would see it blinking its little light, all lonely and forlorn, in the front passenger seat. I wondered how many calls I'd have when I returned at 8 p.m.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Late Night & Early Morning

I need to go to bed but I also haven't posted in a few days. I'm always thinking about things I want to blog about but then life gets in the way and here we are. Right now this minute I need to go see what I'm wearing to work tomorrow and then as soon as I Downey Wrinkle free spray it I need to put pajamas on the baby and put the two of us to bed.

I need to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and for those of you who are reading this and know me, please don't laugh so hard you'll fall out of your chair. I know I'm not a morning person, which is why I plan on going to sleep as soon as I get on the plane. I'm flying to Dallas at 7 a.m. for a newspaper conference. I'm really mainly going to meet with one of my agencies that's out of San Diego and I'm pretty sure one of my New York agency contacts will be there too but I didn't get a hold of her to find out.

Enough about work but that's the reason I have to wake up so early and why I'm coming home so late tomorrow night.

Something interesting occurred recently. I jumped from 197 page views (which I assume means individual visitors to my site) to 262 in just a few days. It was weird. It made me wonder if I just had a huge jump in visitors or does blogger only update that information once a month or something. hmmm... If someone knows the answer please let me know.