Monday, December 31, 2007

Day 4 and Still Going!

Yesterday Day 3 was pretty good except that I started getting hungrier. That's supposed to be a good sign because it means that I'm healing.

Even though they didn't cut my actual stomach they did need to cut into the tissue around it to get the band around it. Plus I'm sure the whole ordeal is a shock to my stomach. Like, "What the heck is this around me?" Plus the five cuts in my belly to get in there to do the job. Like Rey said, "those are like stab wounds." Great way to put it! LOL!

So I've been browsing on online support groups to see what other people say about the lap band and their experience and I've found a woman who was banded a week before me. a couple of girls that were banded the day I was. and one that was banded the day prior. All in different places, except one. Coincidentally one of them was banded on the same day and at the same place as I was.

One of my worries was that I'm starting to feel hungry! I thought I wasn't supposed to feel hunger for a week but I guess the hunger is a good thing. On my post-op diet it says that I should have one protein shake. I read that like one per day and at first that seemed realistic, but now that I'm getting hungry it doesn't. (because they also allow sugar free jello and broth) So I called the surgical center and spoke to a nurse today and she told me, "Oh no! It means as meal replacements."

Thank goodness! I was starting to think that maybe the lap band is a whole psychological thing and that in reality you lost all the weight in the first 4 weeks from starvation. Just kidding! I really didn't think it meant one shake per day but I wanted to make sure anyway. Three of these shakes per day is doable.

The funny thing is that I've never been a Slim Fast kind of person. I've never had any desire to do liquids as meal replacements. I think I've tried it, a long time ago, and I was still hungry for food. So I've been really surprised how filling the Adkins shakes were and now how filling these Arbonne shakes are too.

The only down side to this time at home recuperating has been that the kids have been sick. I was up at dawn today with the little one and now my daughter seems to be getting really sick too. I hope she's better towards the end of the week because I want to take her to Chuck E Cheese and to the museum so she feels like she did something on her break.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Day Two of the Lap Band Experience

Okay, Day Two was a little tougher for some reason. Maybe it's like when you work out and you're more sore on the second day.

Today I've had pain around my incisions and where the port is. It's weird. I can feel the circle of the port under my skin. That's the port that they use to inject fluid into my lap band to tighten it. I only have a lap band at this point. In one month I go in for a check up and the doctor tightens the band for the first time.

I also had to cough a couple of times and I have to hold my incisions when I cough. I tried taking Tylenol and taking a nap, but when I woke up I realized I really needed some pain medication. So I took some a little while ago and now I'm better.

I can't wait to be able to walk into Ann Taylor and to know that I fit into their clothes. I'll never forget the day I walked in and the sales lady asked me if I was looking for shoes. (ie. you don't fit into anything in this store) The truth was I was looking for shoes but still...

I've just been hanging around the house today aimlessly. I really should sit and edit my novel but I haven't been totally myself. I feel kind of funky today.

I finally put all the pages of my novel together and had the pages bound in a spiral notebook. I'm reading it from beginning to end, like I would a novel, to catch any and all my mistakes. A couple of my friends are also reading it. They've been asking me if they could read it for a while so I told them that they could with the understanding that they need to help me make corrections. They agreed and I gave them their own copies.

This will be good. I'll do some good editing on it and I'll have it ready to send out to agents again this year. I really need to do that again. I'm also going to send it to some smaller book publishers. This is the year that I'm going to publish my book!

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Official! I have a Lap Band!

I was banded today. This morning at approximately 10:30 and it's 11:35 p.m. central time and I feel pretty good. I'm surprised!

I was in some discomfort when I got home but I kept drinking water, took liquid Extra Strength Tylenol, napped and then walked around for a bit around the house.

I've been moving around quite well all evening. I took the prescribed liquid pain medication around 8 p.m. (my husband had to get it filled today) but it didn't make me groggy. It just took the edge off.

I am so excited to have gotten this done! I feel like it's just the extra tool that I need to help me along. At almost 40 (okay 38 in February) I am accepting my short-comings and where I need help. This is one of my areas.

I have only had clear liquids today. I've had sugar free jello, chicken bouillon broth, chamomile tea, and lots of water.

Tomorrow I get to add in a little more to my diet, like my shakes. I had to buy some Arbonne shakes. First I was drinking Adkins shakes until the Arbonne shakes came in and those came in yesterday. So starting tomorrow I'm going to start making those. I bought 3 flavors, chocolate, vanilla and chai latte. I can only have shakes, coffee (THANK goodness), tea, water, broth, you get the idea, liquids. Thank goodness the shakes are filling!

Week two I thought I got to do soft foods but I don't! I have to do thicker liquids, like cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, etc. I need to buy a bunch of soups for work.

It's isn't until week 3 that I get to eat mush! That's when I eat soft baby foods. Anything soft. For example someone suggested that I boil a cauliflower until it's falling apart. Then whip it, add yogurt butter (or your choice of low cal butter) and salt and pepper and it will taste just like mashed potatoes.

So as you can see the first month is going to be a killer!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Queen Procrastinator

I went to my dad's house today and did something I had been putting off for close to 8 years. I went through the more than 12 boxes in my old apartment, packed up the ones I needed to take with me, and separated all the ones that needed to be thrown away. I could not believe I had so much junk back there. (the apartment is behind his house) I also could not believe that it took me 8 years to get back there to clean it out.

I really surprised myself. I looked at two boxes of thesis research material and I resisted the urge to take them with me. I looked at them and really thought hard about it. I thought, "Do I really need all of these articles? Am I really going to sit down to read them again?" However interesting I may have found the material at one time, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't. So I pushed them to the stack of boxes that need to be thrown away.

Plus the lizard helped me decide. One of the boxes had a lizard in it and I really didn't want to have to fish it out or risk taking it into my new SUV. So thanks to the lizard it made my decision easier.

I think the dust irritated me! I feel like it's in my lungs! YUK! But I'm also relieved that I got that out of the way before my surgery. I won't be able to drive for a couple of days after the surgery and I also can't lift anything heavy.

The best part of going through all the junk was finding a box full of old pictures and all the old love notes and cards my husband wrote to me when we were dating and early in our marriage. Aww!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Two More Days

After tonight I will have only two full days left as I've known them for my entire life. Starting on Friday I'll have a new life of restriction. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time.

Friends and family keep telling me stories of people who got the lap band and it didn't work for them. I keep asking them if those people worked the lap band or did they expect the lap band to work a miracle.

One woman in particular never dieted. I asked another friend about her and she told me that the woman never changed her eating habits. She assured me that she's seen me eat and that I eat a lot better than that woman. I hope so!

I have one half day of work left tomorrow and then I'm on vacation until January 7. That will give me one full week and a weekend to recuperate.

Pictionary With a Six 1/2 Year Old

Play Pictionary with a 6.5 year old. It really gives you a different perspective. It was pretty funny!

My husband and I played Pictionary with my daughter today for the first time. It was so hilarious to see the things she would draw. She was right on the money sometimes. Other times she was drawing what made total sense to her but we had no idea what it was. When she'd tell us what she was drawing we were amazed at her insight. She was also really good at guessing what I was drawing.

Keep in mind that we didn't draw whatever came up next on the cards. We kept picking until we found something that she would know. She did the same thing when it was her turn to draw. She kept pulling cards until she knew what something was. It worked out really well and we had some good laughs. Try it. You'll enjoy it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Big News

Here it goes. I'm having lap band surgery on Friday. Yes, seriously. I've debated whether or not to post it on here, given all the controversy (I feel like Prince) that surrounds this weight loss procedure. I wondered whether I should put it out there and then I decided, "why not?" It's not like those of you who know me won't notice the sudden weight loss.

Besides, like my mom used to say, "Nadie sabe lo que trae el morralito no mas el que lo carga." In other words, only I know the burden that I carry. I know what I've done thus far in my life to try and lose weight and what I can't do alone.

I don't see the lap band as a cure-all. I don't expect for it to miraculously make the pounds fall off. I see it as a tool, as a little helping hand. I know that it's going to take a lot of work on my part, as well as behavior changes.

The thing is, I'm going to be 38 in February! In two years I will be 40 and I do not want to spend my 40s overweight. I already spent my 20s and my 30s there. I'd like to live the last half of my life healthy and I'd like to hopefully slow down the chances of my being a diabetic. I know that 50% of it is genetic, but 50% of it is lifestyle. I'm about to change mine.

So that's my news! Major life changing news. I'll be in some pain the first couple of days and I can't drive for the first 3 days. I can't lift anything heavy for about 2 weeks and I can't start working out with weights or doing sit ups for 4 weeks. I can start walking right away, as soon as the pain allows, so that's a good thing and will help me lose more.

The hardest part will be that I'll be on a liquid diet for the first week, half liquids and half mush the second week, and then I can start on very small portions of real food the third week. God grant me the strength!

OK. It's almost 3 and I need to start cleaning. Rey's grandparents, the kids great-grandparents (can you believe they have GREAT grandparents? I didn't even know my grandparents) are coming over with my in-laws for dinner.

Love and Hugs to All! I'll keep you all posted on my surgery and recuperation.

P.S. Those of you who know my father, I'm not telling him what I'm doing so don't ask him about me. LOL!

My Motto & November Archives

I forgot about my personal motto. It's a quote by Emile Zola. "If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." I remembered it last week and I added it to the bottom of my blog. I just love this quote. I feel like it is one of the best definitions of who I am. That's me. I'm loud and that's how I live.

There's something weird going on with my blog. My November archives aren't showing up on my page to the right where the archives are listed. I've e-mailed blogger but I haven't heard back from them yet. Weird. I know the entries are still there because I was able to click back from a December entry to the entries prior to that one, but they don't show up on my blog.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Son the Rock Star

I'm so excited! My son is starting to enjoy hearing me read to him. He's asking for me to read to him more and more and I really hope that means he's going to be a reader like my daughter. Last night I was reading something online and he kept asking me to sing, "Sing a Song of Sixpence" to him. Then we went to bed and I read his new Diego book to him.

He's such a character! He's also starting to pick up on another one of my daughter's funny traits. He's starting to make up songs. His latest one is called, "Rock and Roll Babies." This is the same little boy who told me a couple of months ago with a straight face, "I used to be a rock star." Ay a yay! What do I have on my hands??!! Both my children have huge personalities.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More on Fiesta Robbery

One of my readers posted that she was mugged at that same Fiesta that was robbed last week. I was telling my dad and husband that my ex-brother-in-law was mugged at that Fiesta around 22 years ago. I hate to say it, but that Fiesta needs better security, possibly an HPD officer.

I Love Paper!

I just love paper. I know I've said it before but I had to say it again. Yesterday I went to Franklin just to get filler pages for the months but every time I go in there I "ooh" and "ahh" over the "Her Point of View" collection.

I broke down this time because they only sell the whole year together and not just the fillers for the months. I figure if I need more pages I'll just add the blank pages to each day, like I used to in the past.

Since I use my Blackberry for all my appointments I haven't really felt the need for a full Franklin planner. I only use the months and blank pages for notes. But the POV collection is just SO PRETTY! I couldn't resist. The pages look really nice in my light blue planner book too.

That's a Bunch of Crap!

Sorry! I couldn't resist. The Bayou City just got a really bad report about their bayous! The Chronicle reports today that "Bayous are flush with fecal bacteria." WOW! And to think that I had been wanting to do the canoe tours on the bayou. I'm glad I didn't do it after all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Latest

I was quoted again on the neighbor's project blog. Very cool!

I drove out to the Med Center area today and I was amazed at how many big apartment buildings are up around there. A few years ago there was nothing there along 288. There are so many cool old houses in that area. I hope they don't tear down any of them to rebuild those big apartment homes.

I can't believe school is out in two days! The kids will both be with the sitter starting on Friday. I'll be on vacation at the end of next week and most of the following week.

I MIGHT (I'm still saying might until it's official) have some out patient surgery on Friday, the 28th. More on that later.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inner City Crime

Friday night one of those things happened that always shakes you up. Our neighborhood Fiesta was robbed . It's really scary when something like that happens that close to home. I told Rey that I could have been there. His response. "It can happen anywhere."

I know what he means, but I wonder how often the suburban stores get robbed as compared to the inner city ones.

It's sad really. As much as I want to believe Rey, I must admit it scares me to go back to my Fiesta. I needed something today that I thought they might not carry so I went to Kroger, but deep down I felt like I was making excuses. I was kind of scared to go to Fiesta. Of course I doubt the same store will get robbed that soon but there's always that chance that they may return to finish the job. Crazy thoughts I know...

The thing is, I'm no stranger to this kind of violence. My uncle was shot and killed in his store when I was 11 years old. He died in my mother's arms. For a long time I was really scared in that store. His widow ended up closing it a year or so later. I don't blame her. She was shot during that robbery too but she survived.

Sadly, growing up in the city you get used to hearing stories like these.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Daughter, the Reading Champion

My daughter was so happy and proud yesterday. Her class had the most participation in the March of Dimes Read-a-Thon. They received special recognition at a class assembly and she got a medal.

In additon to that, she was called to the office later to take a picture with the principal and the director of the March of Dimes. I asked why and she said it was because she raised the most money in the school. She was so proud and I was so happy for her.

So thank you to all of you who pledged money for every book that she read. She read 21 books and raised $160. My boobooshka!

New Starbucks Expression

My kids love Starbucks. They get the little chocolate milk in the box or a cold chocolate milk (baby boy with soy milk because he's allergic to dairy). The other day my son really wanted to go to Starbucks and he tells me, "But I'm so Starbuxing!" My husband and I cracked up.

We need to record him and send it to Starbucks. It was just too funny. He said it exactly in the tone as if he was "starving." I guess he was starving for Starbucks, therefore he was "starbuxing." That's going to be our new expression. My cousin said he was a copywriter in the making! Mi bebito chulo!

Brown Shoe

I had to go back and get the brown one too. When I find a shoe that is this cute and comfortable I feel like I have to get two pairs. I've been needing a brown shoe so this worked out fab. Just had to let you know. Oh, and I've been asked where I got it. It's from Avenue and it's 25% off so they have limited a supply.

Nothing Screams Latina Like A Big Ring!

I saw this ring today. At first I walked away. I was on my way to Gymboree to buy my daughter some tights to match her outfit for this weekend. (It's getting cold.) But this ring just called me back to the store next door and I couldn't say no to it. I love it!! I know it's really big, and some would say gaudy, but I couldn't help myself. The store Paula Fridkin on West Gray is just too cute. They have all kinds of great accessories.

I ended up wearing it to this Latina Coffee sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I wasn't going to at first. I was wearing pretty conservative black and beige, but then I thought, "Why not?" Nothing screams Latina like a big ring! Actually, I also thought that the writer in me shows through my conservative corporate American attire.

So there it is and there's my hand modeling it.

It's late so more later on Magenta getting a medal for all her book reading for the March of Dimes, my observation at my neighborhood Target, and Rontu's comments on Starbucks. Good night!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Guanabee & More on Gentrification

Hey! My blog is NYC famous. Guanabee.com referred to my blog entry on gentrification today. Of course they put a funnier twist to it. I think it's so funny that people have found my observation interesting.

Although when I think about it I must agree that it is an interesting phenomenon. As our neighborhoods in the inner city change so does the clientele of our businesses. I need to ask Matamoros Meat market on Irvington if they too have experienced a change in business.

Usually it's the Mexican restaurants who see it first. Like Teotihuacan, one of my favorite restaurants, on Airline near N. Main. Go there on any given day for lunch or dinner and 90% of the clientele is non-Hispanic. Of course that location is really close to the Heights. I wonder if the Irvington location has seen a difference too.

I personally love what's happening in our neighborhoods. I love the diversity. I do find it sad that it makes areas near town, that were once still affordable, expensive. I also hate it if the property taxes are going up. But that comes with improving the neighborhood.

Something interesting that I've noticed in my neighborhood is that they aren't building any of the 3 story town home complexes that you see all around Houston. I wonder if it's because Lindale has deed restrictions and maybe the civic club isn't allowing that to happen. Which if that's the case, I think it's great.

They are building one of those mini complexes nearby. Actually, it's right around the corner from my friend's dad's house. It was such a shock to see them go up. It looked weird actually.

I think that different groups can move into our neighborhood and make it diverse without having to build. We have some really charming houses in our neck of the woods. Of course this is coming from someone who loves old houses with character, rather than the new suburban homes.

Sometimes I get impatient with our lack of initiative to remodel. I tell Rey that I want to sell and move away. Then I look at my house, really look at it. I look past the needed changes. I look at the neighborhood, and most importantly, I look at the access to every major freeway and to the Hardy Toll Road, and I realize I'm talking crazy.

I LOVE living in the city. I think I would be so miserable if I had to drive any further than I already do each day. I would hate to have to drive into the city to go to the places I love here.

Thank goodness for the Magnet program in HISD because I feel confident that my kids will always have a good education. Besides, like I've said before, it's my job to educate them. Schools are just there to provide an outline for you to follow.

I know there are a lot of people who don't understand this. I remember when I bought my house I had people (especially family) who were surprised, and maybe even looked down, on my buying this house. But now that the city is changing even more I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love these old houses with all their quirkiness.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Blog on Neighbors Project Blog

I can't believe it! My Saturday 12-8-07 blog entry on gentrification and the barrio bars was mentioned on someone else's blog. http://neighborsproject.blogspot.com/

Look under the 12-10-07 entry, "Monday Neighbor News." They refer to my blog entry and ask, "Appeal of late-night tamales helping drive gentrification of local bars in Houston?"

TOO FUNNY!

New Shoes


I love high heels and these are high, cute and best of all, pretty comfortable. Just thought I'd share!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My Father and The Houston Chronicle

My father, Nicolas Casares, in his living room, under his favorite reading lamp, reading his Houston Chronicle.


We recently celebrated an anniversary at The Houston Chronicle. We celebrated three years since we bought La Voz de Houston, our Spanish weekly newspaper. I never talk about my work on here, but that's what I do. I've worked for the Chronicle for 11 years and for five of those years I have been privileged to be a part of the development of our Spanish publications. Our two Spanish newspapers, La Voz and La Vibra, reach a very different demographic than my father. Both are in Spanish, so they are reaching the first and second generation Hispanic, who still feels comfortable reading Spanish.

My father LOVES The Houston Chronicle. He was so disappointed when I quit thirteen years ago. (I went back a few years later.) And he is so proud to tell people that I work there now.

My father has been reading The Houston Chronicle my entire life. I can not remember a time that my father did not read the newspaper. Even as a little girl I have some hazy memories of him having the newspaper in his barbershop.

At our anniversary party I told the story about how my father went to visit our office one day and he had to wait for me while I came out of a meeting. When I showed him that we had the newspaper there he got all excited. Then I mentioned, "We also have La Voz."

"Ah, yo no leo EspaƱol," was his answer.

I cracked up! That is where the irony comes in. My father reads everything in Spanish, and I mean everything, except for his Houston Chronicle.

The people at our party wanted to know how my dad gets the paper. That was the even funnier part. My dad doesn't subscribe. He's older and a little, how should I say this, cheap. He doesn't want to subscribe, so he always goes by my cousin's house to get a paper. Even now that he's not driving, he will get off the bus to walk to their house for a paper. It's pretty crazy I know, but I guess he feels like he has something to do. He's 83 for goodness sake.

But it got me to thinking that I think I should change my subscription over to his house. Just another thing that I have to think about to take care of my Daddy as he gets older.

Belated New York Photos

St. Patrick's Cathedral


Central Park

Ice Skating at a little plaza

Me and Rey in Times Square.

All photos, except the one of me and Rey, were taken by Rey.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gentrification at the Neighborhood Bars

Last week my sisters were angels and they took my kids for me. One sister took them for a couple of hours while I went to a reunion planning meeting. The other sister then offered to take them overnight so me and hubby could have some quality time. It was VERY NICE of them!!

So Rey and I went to a restaurant down the street that we really like. I had already had dinner at my meeting, but I had another margarita while he ate dinner. When he finished eating and we had listened to the mariachis, we just sat there looking at each other. It was funny. We are both such social creatures that we were craving the company of others too. So Rey said, "I'll fix that," and he calls the king and queen party animals, his parents.

It turns out that they are at the neighborhood bar down the street from our house. The same place I met them for the first time 12 years ago. That was the same night I learned what a "set-up" was. This is the kind of place where they play pool and darts and you're allowed to bring your own bottle of liquor. They only sell beer. (You have to understand my surprise- I grew up in a very conservative religious home.)

They go there at least once a month with a group of friends who they've been going there with for 20 years or more. So, we go meet up with them and we had a really nice time. I danced with Rey's dad, Rey danced with his mom and Rey and I danced a couple of songs too. It was fun! That's the thing about Rey's parents. You are always guaranteed a good time when they are around.

The funny part about the night was what Rey and I saw (apart from the Mexican Elvis wannabe, complete with long sideburns and pink tinted sunglasses) a table of non-Hispanic people. YES! At the neighborhood corner bar. The kind of place that Hispanics like Rey's parents, older multi-generation Hispanics, have been patronizing for over 20 years.

These small neighborhood bars in the Hispanic parts of town have always had the same crowd visiting. Many of the people live in the neighborhood, or like Rey's parents and their friends, used to live in the neighborhood. They drive across town from near Missouri City, Katy and other suburbs, just to visit their old bar. And now as the demographics of our inner loop neighborhoods are changing so is the clientele.

At the end of the night we saw these new patrons standing by the door looking very pleased, with their tamales in hand. A lady comes by around 1:30 and sells some great tamales. I know because my mother-in-law buys them.

"Look," Rey said, "they just came for the tamales. Now that they have them they're going home." I cracked up.

I wondered if now that our traditionally Hispanic neighborhoods are changing, and more non-Hispanics are moving into their 3 story townhomes, if our bars are going to be changing too. It seems so.

I imagined them telling all their friends about the fun little bar they found and the wonderful tamales they bought from a lady who goes to the bar specifically to sell them. I could imagine their friends saying, "REALLY??"

Even the bars in the barrio are experiencing gentrification.

Busy Weekend

I need to get out and start on my errands. I have to get a few things at Target and I need to buy a new outfit for my 2 day assembly next weekend. I also need to get my nails done if there's time.

Tomorrow I have a luncheon after my meeting and then a baby shower after that. That's also why I need to go to Target because I need to get a baby gift or a gift card.

And before you know it the weekend is over, just like that...

The weekends and the weeks are flying by. Only two more full weeks of work and then it's vacation time. So far I have a week off but I may take a few days into January because my daughter doesn't go back to school until January 7. We'll see...

When I get back today I have a ton of housework to do. :-(

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Working Mother's Salvation

So it's Sunday night and I still have to embroider a jacket my daughter is wearing to her Junior Achievement graduation. They get to dress up as their future occupation. My daughter says she's going to be a doctor so I found a kid's lab coat for her and I'm embroidering "Dr. Ruiz" on it. I also have a pile of clean laundry I need to fold and put up.

I stare at all of the laundry that went unwashed today and I make an important decision. My cleaning lady didn't come this week (my other salvation) and she probably isn't going to make it this week because she's moving into her new house. I saved the money I would have paid her last week and I'm probably going to save that same money this week.

That's when I decide. I'm taking all of my laundry to the laundromat to have it washed for me. Yes it does cost money. But you know what?? It sure saves me a lot of time and energy. That's what I have to do in order to stay sane, work full-time, raise 2 kids, be a wife, make my 3 weekly meetings (spiritual/religion), and do some form of writing. It wouldn't be done any other way.

I have at least 2 pending writing projects. I need to finish a short story and a song I started writing with my husband. After that I want to start on either my husband's story idea or my young adult novel. It will never get done with this much laundry to wash. ;-)

Great Sunday Morning & Childhood Friends

I had a wonderful Sunday morning. I woke up a tad late, but not too late. We're going to my sister's meeting this late afternoon so we weren't in a hurry to get up. It was nice to leisurely cook breakfast while listening to my U2 Greatest Hits CD and drinking wonderful Hawaiian coffee that my friends just brought us while visiting from Hawaii. I made Rey and I a delicious egg sandwich. We had that with our coffee.

Then I did some reunion work. I'm trying to get the word out to old classmates.

Friday I received a heart warming gift! I received an envelope from Denmark from my childhood best friend. She sent me an old charcoal drawing of the Paris opera house. The drawing belonged to her grandmother, who was also my bus driver when I was a little girl.

I loved Tata and so did my sisters. We were in awe of her because she was French, from Paris, and she spoke Spanish with a wonderful French accent. She met her husband, who we all called Pops, during WWII. She lived in our neighborhood and she was the bus driver for all of my four sisters years before I was born. My sister tells me that she too was mesmarized by Tata and she used to love to learn French while Tata drove her to and from school. When I told her that I was talking to Monique again she got very nostalgic remembering Tata.

She quit driving a school bus for a few years and then when she was raising her granddaughter she started again. When my mom bumped into her at my elementary school she was delighted. My mom took me to school all through Kindergarten but when she found out Tata was driving a school bus again I started riding it too in first grade. I was so excited to follow in my sisters' tradition.

That's when I met Monique. The sun rose and set with Monique when I was a little girl. I loved to listen to her speak French with her grandmother. Most of the time she sat up front in her grandmother's kind of red truck but sometimes she would sit on the first back seat next to me. And best of all she was in my class! We became inseparable in school and we were in the same class from first until fifth grade. I used to love to watch her color. I thought that no one colored as beautiful as my friend Monique.

I also loved to visit Monique. They lived right around the corner from my uncle's bakery. She and her grandmother were the first to introduce me to artichokes. I found her great aunt so mysterious. She lived behind them on the same property and she had come from Paris after Tata and she didn't speak to us much.

Monique had a wicked sense of humor and was mischevious but she never seemed to get in trouble. She always had an innocent look to her so she hardly ever got in trouble with our teachers. I was the one always getting in trouble with my big mouth that could never shut up. I have such great memories with her, laughing and laughing until our sides hurt. We used to have so much fun on the playground playing hopscotch and swinging on the parallel bars.

After elementary school Monique and I went to different middle schools. Then they moved out of our neighborhood. I missed her so much. We didn't speak again until 12 years later when we were both working. I was at the Chronicle and still single. She was married and had 2 little boys. We had dinner and I went to visit Tata. For some reason we didn't stay in touch.

Now 14 years later we found each other through Classmates.com. It was so great to hear from her. She lives with her new husband in Denmark now and she has a teenage daughter. Now as an adult I had so many questions about Tata. It was really nice to learn more about her and her sister Marie.

Friday Monique really surprised me with that charcoal drawing of her grandmother's. I am going to frame it and put it up in my living room.

Going Back to Work

When I went back to work this week I felt rested but I also started counting the days until my next vacation. After this week I have exactly three full weeks of work before I have one whole week off again. I want to start planning more fun things to do with the kids, like taking them to the Space Center Houston again. I got 4 free tickets, so that should be a fun thing to do. I also want to take them to the art museum and to the Menil this time. I want to do some things for me too. I'll probably take them to the Children's Museum this time because we ended up going to the Health Museum this past vacation.

On another interesting note. My 20 year reunion is coming up! YES! Can you believe it? I'm on the planning committee and we had a meeting this past Friday. We are trying to decide first of all how to finance this and whether we will have enough interest from the class to finance it ourselves or if we should use a company.

SO if anyone out there is reading this and you belong to the Class of 88 of Waltrip High School and you haven't signed up for the Waltrip Yahoo group, do so today. Once you sign up to this group you can vote on what we will do.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Make Up Recommendations

I absolutely LOVE these new products by Avon called "Mark." The colors are so awesome! I bought a compact somewhat like this one with a blush and two eye shadows. The eyeshadow colors I got are Java and Retro Peacock. They are much darker and dramatic than I would usually wear but I like them! I'm going for a new "look!" I love the way dark eyeshadow looks but I don't wear it often. I wear really neutral colors and brown eyeliner most of the time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last Day of Freedom

I'm putting together a list of places to go on our next family vacation to places around Texas. I'm also trying to figure out what to do today, on our last day. Menil? Kemah?

I still haven't found out for sure where the Texas Declaration of Independence is, but I think it may be in Austin. If so, we'll add a visit there to this list.

Ruiz Texas History
Places to Visit


1. Witte Museum in San Antonio, to see original Ruiz home of Jose Francisco
2. The Alamo- San Antonio, where Ruiz ancestor, Francisco Antonio, was mayor
3. Ruiz-Herrera Cemetery- San Antonio, where Ruiz mayor is buried, along with Rey's grandfather and other family members
4. San Fernando De Bexar Cathedral – San Antonio, where Francisco Antonio was baptized.
5. Star of the Republic Museum and Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site- Washington, TX, where Jose Francisco signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Maybe the original copy is there.
6. San Jacinto Monument- Houston, where the Texans beat Santa Ana.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate

I finished Sophie Katz's 3rd mystery today and I loved it. I had forgotten how much I liked mysteries. I was an avid Nancy Drew reader when I was a kid. Now that I'm reading Kyra Davis I've become a fan again. I need to check out some of the other chic-lit mystery writers out there. It's a whole other genre and really fun reads.

Now I'm ready for a heavy read again. Actually no. First I have to read this other great book that I found- Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. That's another fun read. Coincidentally, I found that Kyra Davis has a short story in that collection. There are some other chick lit authors in there who I discovered recently.

I never really read the genre that's considered Chick Lit until a few years ago. I especially love some of the short story collections I've read. Like Girls Nigh In. I want to buy Girls Night Out now.

Non-Thanksgiving Ham

We're not bar-b-qing after all. My husband's boss gave him a ham since he was giving everyone else one for Thanksgiving. So I saw no need in bar-b-qing. I'm just going to make some side dishes and we'll have that for dinner. We had a late breakfast.

So far I have been a total bum today. But that's allowed on a day off. I tired myself out at the zoo yesterday. Then I had to rush home to get ready for our book study. We had our meetings switched around just for this week.

One weird thing about yesterday. Something that really creeps me out is seeing a man all alone somewhere like the zoo, where there are a lot of children. I didn't see any kids around him and I saw him a couple of times. Creepy!

Tomorrow we'll be doing the Children's Museum and I want to get myself out there early. I'll be tiring myself out again but I love that place as much as the kids. Although I'm also considering the Health or Science museums for a change. Seth hasn't been to the Museum of Natural Science before.

I love the cold front that came through last night. Delicious!! I want to take the kids out there but Magenta's cough (she has light asthma) really flared up yesterday and especially after the zoo visit. There's so much gunk out in the air. We'll see...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Going Retro

I was at the store today and they were selling a little gift box with a small bottle of Love's Baby Soft perfume and a body lotion. I couldn't resist. I told my daughter we would share them. LOL!

More Questions to Ponder on Parenthood

A while back I posed the question about how involved a parent should be in their child's school work. I also asked what was the perfect balance.

I totally believe in a couple of things. 1. Kids whose parents are very involved in their school life are most likely to grow up to be successful in school and 2. Schools provide the outline of what children should be learning, but parents are responsible for teaching their children.

That said. I need to find that perfect balance between teaching and not helping too much. Not only because I hate seeing kids' work that was so obviously done by their parents, but also because most importantly I want for my kids to learn.

Last week I spent the entire week helping my daughter with her Spain project. I got so involved that I even forgot to study her spelling words with her. When it was all said and done she had attitude with me. She’s six years old, so as they used to say when I was growing up, “she don’t know no better.”

She had the audacity to say to me, “You didn’t really do anything.”

My husband looked at her and said, “You better just stop right there!”

I was stunned! When I regained my voice I asked her, “Who scanned the pictures for you? Who resized them to make them fit?” And on and on… all the things that she’s too little to do herself.

To each thing she answered, “You.”

I turned to my husband and told him, “You know what?! Our parents had the right idea. Don’t help them with anything. If you help them they just take it for granted and they act ungrateful."

I was angry and my daughter could tell. It was obvious by the look on her face that she totally regretted speaking too soon. My husband laughed.

I had the same conversation a few days later with my friend and she agreed. She said her parents would have said, “I already went to school. That’s your work.”

We laughed so hard. Of course we both didn’t go into the Vanguard system until middle school. We wouldn’t have had such a complicated project in 1st grade. We did projects like that one in 6th grade. I remember because I did Denmark, Bangladesh, and Cuba.

So yes, I do need to help her for now. But once that little girl learns to scan photos and work the computer she’s on her own. I’m just going to observe and give constructive criticism. :-)

It’s a challenging road this parenting thing, but it’s also a lot of fun. I’m tired, my house is dirty, but I’m having a great time.

Which reminds me. On a funny note. I was talking to my cleaning lady today and I was asking her what time she’s coming tomorrow. When I told her I was on vacation she asked me why I’m not cleaning myself. I was taken by surprise for a second and then I responded. “Because I want to spend time with my children. Because I’m paying you to do it.”

She just laughed. We’re off to the zoo tomorrow.

Vacation!!

It's lunch time and I am halfway done with last work day before vacation. I am really looking forward to some time off to spend with the kids. As crazy as they make me, I feel like they need some mommy time after being gone for 5 days to New York. We're going to zoo one day and then to the Children's Museum another day. My dad is going with me to the zoo so that's some help, plus he loves going to the zoo.

On Thursday, since I don't do Thanksgiving, I'm going to grill some chicken fajitas and veggies. We're just going to hang out at the house and we'll be open for any friends that may want to drop by.

I'm also going to use the time off to revisit my novel, time permitting. Yes my novel. Remember that thing? I'm going to send it out to some more agents. Maybe third time is really a charm! I just need one yes!

Hope you all enjoy your time off and be safe if you're traveling anywhere far.

Favorite Nike Quotes

(If you've happened upon my blog for the Nike quotes THANK YOU for stopping by. Bookmark my blog and come back often to visit. I write about a variety of subjects. I also have a blog on skirt! magazine skirt.com/shoegirl1970 and you can follow me on Twitter @Shoegirl1970. Most recent Update on 7-1-12: I am going to start posting the actual ads below. Check my more recent blog entries.)

Original Blog starts here: I've been so delinquent in posting anything interesting to read that I've compiled a bunch of my favorite Nike quotes from past ad campaigns. I love these!!

"You don't stand in front of a mirror before a run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit. you don't have to listen to its jokes and pretend they're funny in order to run on it. It will not be easier to run if you dress sexier. The road doesn't notice when you're not wearing make up. It does not care how old you are. And you don't feel uncomfortable if you make more money than it. The only thing the road cares about is that you pay it a visit once in a while." - NIKE Goddess

"I am a woman, watch me score." - Shirt Slogan

"You were born a daughter. You looked up to your mother. You looked up to your father. You looked up at everyone. You wanted to be a princess. You thought you were a princess. You wanted to own a horse. You wanted to be a horse. You wanted your brother to be a horse. You wanted to wear pink. You never wanted to wear pink. You wanted to be a Veterinarian. You wanted to be President. You wanted to be the President's Veterinarian. You were picked last for the team. You were the best one on the team. You refused to be on the team. You wanted to be good in algebra. You hid during algebra. You wanted the boys to notice you. You were afraid the boys would notice you. You started to get acne. You started to get breasts. You started to get acne that was bigger than your breasts. You wouldn't wear a bra. You couldn't wait to wear a bra. You couldn't fit into a bra. You didn't like the way you looked. You didn't like the way your parents looked. You didn't want to grow up. You had your first best friend. You had your first date. You had your second best friend. You had your second first date. You spent hours on the telephone. You got kissed. You got to kiss back. You went to the prom. You didn't go to the prom. You went to the prom with the wrong person. You spent hours on the telephone. You fell in love. You fell in love. You fell in love. You lost your best friend. You lost your other best friend. You really fell in love. You became a steady girlfriend. You became a significant other. YOU BECAME SIGNIFICANT TO YOURSELF. Sooner or later, you start taking yourself seriously. You know when you need a break. You know when you need a rest. You know what to get worked up about and what to get rid of. And you know when it's time to take care of yourself, for yourself. To do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete. Because you know it's never too late to have a life. And never too late to change one. JUST DO IT." - 1999
(Update: Actual ad can be found here on this post.)

"A WOMAN IS OFTEN MEASURED by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn't curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. She is measured by 36-24-26 and inches and ages and numbers, by all the outside things that don't ever add up to who she is on the inside. And so if a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become. Because every woman knows measurements are only statistics and STATISTICS LIE." - 1994

"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough, they'll say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. They will tell you no. And YOU WILL TELL THEM YES." - Unknown

"Too often we are scared. Scared of what we might not be able to do. Scared of what people might think if we tried. We let our fears stand in the way of our hopes. We say no when we want to say yes. We sit quietly when we want to scream. And we shout with the others, when we should keep our mouths shut. Why? After all,we do only go around once. There's really no time to be afraid. So stop. Try something you've never tried. Risk it. Enter a triathlon. Write a letter to the editor. Demand a raise. Call winners at the toughest court. Throw away your television. Bicycle across the United States. Try bobsledding. Try anything. Speak out against the designated hitter. Travel to a country where you don't speak the language. Patent something. You have nothing to lose and everything everything everything to gain. JUST DO IT." - 1992: Barry Sanders

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crisis

One more thing. I broke my coffee pot! So now I will be forced to spend even more on ridiculously priced (but mysteriously delicious) coffee. I have to buy a new coffee pot before I go broke!!

Too Exhausted to Talk

I have been working on my daughter's project with her all week. My house is a pig pen and I'm too tired to clean. I have a lot to say but I'm too tired to say it. I promise I'll be back soon to tell you about my oldest best friend from elementary school and our reunion in cyberspace. She lives in Denmark now and it's hard to believe that we didn't see each other for the past 14 years and now that she's in Denmark we're talking again. Weird, isn't it?

I absolutely loved her grandma, who we all affectionately called "Tata." She was my bus driver in elementary school and that's how Moose and I became friends at Sanderson Elementary School in the Hood of Houston.

Okay, that's all for now. I'm going to bed now!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Funny Kid Comments

We were watching "Meet the Robinsons" today and my son asked us, "Why do the bad guys always laugh like, "Ha Ha Ha" (he makes an evil laugh) when they steal something?"

My husband and I cracked up.

"Because they're bad," we answered.

Spain



University of Salamanca
Main Door

I love Spain. Almost everyone who know me knows that. So you can imagine how tickled I was when my daughter came home last week and told me that she had chosen Spain for her project on Spanish speaking countries. She has to create a travel brochure for Spain with photos and facts about the country.

I think I overwhelmed her with my enthusiasm and suddenly she wasn't very excited about the project. I think that she was disappointed that she didn't have to do very much research on the Internet when I pulled out an album of photos. Now that the project is due this week she's taken a little more interest.

I've scanned and re-sized several photos that I took in Madrid, Salamanca, Granada, Marbella, Avila, El Escorial, Ronda and Sevilla. As I was scanning the photos and saving them for her I thought about how funny it was that when I took all of these pictures in 1995, young and single, I never imagined that I would be using them for my daughter's school project. Life is amazing isn't it?

Soon after our trip in 1995 one of my best girlfriends bought me a cookbook for Spanish tapas. One of my favorite recipes to make is the meatball recipe, albondigas de ajillo. They have A LOT of garlic, but that's what makes them so delicious. Part of the school project is to take a dish from that country. My daughter chose the meatballs, so Thursday night we'll be making meatballs for the class project. I'm taking them to her school on Friday.

What I love about this project is that we help her with her prototype, but she has to make her final travel brochure on her own in class. I think that's good for her, to do it on her own. I can't wait to see her final masterpiece.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ancient Chinese Secret, huh??

I have a confession to make. I didn't tell you all before that when I went to the Pearl River Market in Chinatown I bought myself some sandals like these . They are reflexology sandals and they are supposed to stimulate your organs. My cousin (who lives in NY) and my husband were with me and I think my cousin thought I was crazy. My husband says he knows I am. I probably am a little.

I put them on for the first time today and they hurt! You're supposed to wear them just a little each day until you get used to them. I tried them on at the store and I asked the Chinese man in the acupressure/acupuncture area about them but he didn't explain much. (Rey said he didn't look like he understood me.) I asked him how long I could wear them and he said, "All day." I think he meant later after they stop hurting so much.

I've been curious about acupressure for a long time so this will be interesting. I'll report back if I see any significant changes in my body or health. Maybe they'll help me lose weight!

Anyway, someone asked me what New York smells like. It has so many different smells, both good and bad. When you're by a hotdog or roasted nuts cart it smells great. Most of Central Park smells good too. So do the areas next to restaurants. Then there are some really smelly areas, like any other big city. Over all though I would say it smells busy. There are so many different smells in the air that it's busy, like so much is going on.

No movie star sightings this time. I kept hoping I would bump into Sarah Jessica Parker but I didn't. I saw Susan Sarandon last time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I'm Back

Hello all! I got back today. Today was a record day for my site. I had 31 visits and 98% of the visits came in via a search for the words, "7th grade science project." I still find it hilarious that my blog comes up every time.

I went to the places I mentioned in my blog entry before I left, but I also:

So no, I can't complain. But I still want to go back for a museum weekend to go the MoMa, The Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I've been to Met but I need to go again. Then I will feel like I've seen everything in NYC. Do you ever really see everything? Probably not.

Good to be back home to my little chicks! They both have coughs!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Last Man Standing

My 93 year old uncle died on Saturday. Many will agree that he lived a long rich life. He had four children who grew up to be successful adults. He has successful grandchildren that he was very proud of. Graduates from Rice, Harvard MBA, Stanford Law, George Washington University, to name a few. My heart goes out to all my cousins, nieces and nephews. (In Hispanic families the children of our cousins are our nieces and nephews.)

But the person I keep thinking about the most is my dad. My dad is 83 and he has one other brother who is 88 and lives in San Diego with his daughter. Uncle Hector is so old and weak that he couldn't make the trip to the funeral in Brownsville. It's so sad because he once lived in Brownsville too. He was a policeman until he retired. After his wife's death seven years ago he had a bad fall and he couldn't live alone any more. My cousin took him to San Diego to live with her.

On Saturday night my father called to tell me the news of my uncle's death. He wanted for me to help him find a flight out on Sunday morning and I did. I called him back on Sunday morning to give him his flight choices. He wanted a one way ticket and he said he'd figure out how to get back home.

My heart went out to him. I wondered how he felt, now that there were only two of them left. And knowing the state of his brother in San Diego, it's pretty certain that my father will be the last one left standing. I wonder what that feels like when you come from a family of thirteen and you're number ten. I'm sure he's once again faced with his mortality. Every time a brother or sister dies he must be reminded of that.

He's very aware of his age and his limitations now. He had a car accident recently and he doesn't want to buy a car. Texas has passed some new laws for senior citizens and he's worried that if he spends money on a car he won't be able to drive it for long. He's been riding the bus everywhere, only by day, thank goodness. Never-the-less I worry about him. I worry that he may get mugged. But I also worry that he'll be driving and he'll get into a car accident and that he'll kill himself or that he'll kill someone else.

I'm leaving tomorrow to New York, so I won't be here when he gets back home. My cousin is giving him a ride home. I won't be able to sit and talk to him about this until next week. I know he'll tell me he's fine and he won't admit that he's sad, but I know he is. I know he must be.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Una Clara Por Favor

I thought of Spain and my girlfriend Sophie today. I had a "clara," half beer and half Sprite tonight while I folded clothes. It brought back good memories with my girlfriends in Spain and later with my husband, brother--in-law, and sister-in-law, when we visited for my girlfriend's wedding. I haven't been back in seven years! That was the last time I was in Europe, pre-children. One day soon again.

I'm almost done with all the laundry. I'm very excited! I just need to write out my packing list and I'll start packing tomorrow night. I'm right on schedule.

My daughter reached her goal and read her twenty books for the March of Dimes. I'm so glad we got that out of the way early! She can turn in her money and list tomorrow. I wanted to get that done before we leave because the deadline is Wednesday, the day we leave.

My daughter and I just finished watching Akeelah and the Bee. I watched it while I folded clothes and my daughter came in for the end. One of my favorite movies for that feel-good feeling.

The Girls Next Door

I read this article in the New York Times online a couple of years ago and I've never been able to forget it. I think of it often and I've tried searching for it but it wasn't available. I just found it again today. The article is called "The Girls Next Door."

I'm warning you, it's a long article and it can be very disturbing. If you think the article is too long move to Page 7 and read about one girl's experience. Read how young children are when they are placed as sex slaves. I couldn't get it out of my head for a long time. But at the same time I want to be aware of this. I want to be realistic about what is going on in this world.

Ricky Martin was on Oprah a while back talking about this subject. He took some time off as a performer for a while to work on his foundation. He talked very openly about this subject on the show and even shocked some people in the audience with his bluntness. But it has to be said. People need to be aware that this is going on in our world.

I'm glad I found this article so that I could share it. Read it. It will make you cry but it will also make you really think. I know it made me very grateful for my life, for my beliefs, and for the safety of my children.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Best Ending to a Movie

If you have never seen Cinema Paradiso, don't watch this video. But do run and rent this movie! You will not regret it.

It is the best ending to a movie ever! My sister recently sent this to me and I thought I'd share. For those of you who have seen the movie and would like to revisit, enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW_-0H_u3RQ

Busy Weekend


It's the weekend before I leave to NYC and as always, I have a ton to do before I leave. I have to wash a lot and then packing of course. Today we had my daughter's Fall Festival at her school and I worked the nacho booth 1.5 hours. Now I'm doing laundry and picking up around the house simultaneously. I need to have everything washed so I can pack Monday and Tuesday. Busy weekend!

I can't wait to see NYC again! We're staying here, right by Times Square. We're just blocks from Central Park. There are so many places I want to see but I can't really go to all of them on our limited time. I'm actually in a conference and sales calls Wednesday through Friday, so I can't do much "sightseeing," except for what I'll see from a cab while on sales calls.

The nice thing about the conference is that we'll have evening events Thursday and Friday at cool places. Thursday night's event is at Madame Tussaud's wax museum. Friday night's event is at the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center. So they do mingle some NY sights into the conference. How exciting!! I love (heart) NY!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Welcome Fall

I LOVE FALL! I love cold weather! It puts me in such a great mood. This is the perfect weather. The morning was in the 50s and the afternoon will get up into the 70s, which is still pretty good. I'm meeting some girlfriends for lunch. It's so nice outside!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

I loved the first Elizabeth movie with Cate Blanchett nine years ago, so I was really looking forward to this second movie. I've always been intrigued by the stories about Elizabeth I. I also loved the stories about King Henry VIII and his wives.

Saturday I took the kids to get their hair cut and on the way my daughter asked me if I would tell her the story about Elizabeth I again. I told her the story from the beginning and about Henry VIII. I told her how Queen Elizabeth never married so she could be the queen without a king to tell her what to do. One of my favorite lines-"I will have one mistress here... and no master."

On Sunday when she heard that her father and I might go see the second movie she asked if she could please come with us. At first I didn't want to take her but finally I gave in. I figured I'd close her eyes to anything I thought wasn't inappropriate for her age.

She was so excited! She prepared by taking her colored pipe cleaners and making herself a tiara with one of the golden colored pieces. Then she took a hot pink one and made it into the shape of a person. She added a purple piece around the torso and then a gold crown. That was her Queen Elizabeth I. So off we went to watch the movie with her tiara on and Queen Elizabeth in her hand. I looked at her as we walked into the theater. "I didn't know we were supposed to come in costume," I said to my husband.

I am always amazed at how she marches to the beat of her own drummer. I love that about her and I hope that never changes.

So if you thought this was going to be a review of the movie, sorry to disappoint. The only things I will say are these. Gorgeous gorgeous costumes. I'm sure they will win an Oscar for the costumes alone. Cate Blanchett is still one of my favorite actresses. Some of the scenery was beautiful too. But I still love the first movie best.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Daily Exercise

I have been doing the daily exercises the author of "Eat, Pray, Love" recommends and I have got to tell you, they really make you think. They make you think so much that I would NOT recommend them if you do not want to think or to face your concerns. If you are happy where you are and you don't want to get out of your comfort zone don't do them.

HOWEVER, if you really want to ask yourself daily what you really want then I DO recommend that you do them. Every day sit down at a quiet place, be it your car before you get off to go to work, your kitchen table before everyone else wakes up, Starbucks, or at your desk at work. Write down what you "really, really, really" (3 times) want. Then every night before you go to bed write down your happiest moment that day. Not your saddest or most frustrating moment, like I am sometimes tempted to do. Write down what really brought you joy that day.

So what has it done for me? I am seriously reconsidering my priorities in life again. What are really the most important things to me when it's all said and done at the end of the day?

A lot of things have been happening around me lately to make me think of these things. People have been making big life changing decisions, like up and moving to Europe or contemplating moving from Europe back to the U.S.

A dear friend's mother passed away yesterday after a long battle with what else, Diabetes. She was only in her early 60s. A dear dear friend is suffering from something she thinks may be a neurolgical disorder but the doctors are yet to give her a final answer. A co-worker's dad is very ill with a sickness they just now found. Another co-worker has a mystery pain the doctor's can't figure out. (my mystery pain was just a sore muscle) It's been interesting- all the things going on around me right at a time when I'm taking stock of my life.

What about you? Are you doing what really excites you and motivates you? What do you really, really, really, want? What brings you joy each day? Good questions to ask ourselves.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Crazy Week and Random Musings

I had a crazy week. I had a terrible sore throat last week but I went on my daughter's field trip Monday anyway because she was going to be really disappointed if I didn't go. Then I worked out really hard both Monday and Tuesday.

Then Wednesday I started having this mystery pain on my right hand side. A few people think it's my gall bladder and I was starting to believe them but then I spoke to 2 of them who had theirs taken out and they both described either gas, like you have to burp, or a stomach problem and I realized that I don't feel that. I think I just pulled a muscle working out. It figures! Just when I was on a really good roll. However, I'm not going to let that slow me down. I was going to go work out yesterday but Rey wanted to have some friends over and then my girlfriend said she'd come over with her little boy so I skipped the gym. I'll make it up tomorrow. I'll go walking with the kids.

On top of having a sore throat and a mystery pain on my side the kids got sick on me too. They both had bad sore throats but the baby's was worse. He had little blisters in his throat. The doctor prescribed some pretty strong medicine and my daughter is 100% better and the baby is on the up an up.

I have been trying these daily exercises that the author from Eat, Pray, Love shared on the Oprah show. Every morning I'm writing what I "really really really want" and every evening I'm writing down my "happiest moment" of the day. It's been really therapeutic. It's helping me put things into perspective and to decide what is really important to me.

I have been procrastinating on a lot of things and one of them is finishing a short story to submit to a local literary journal. I am going to work on that. I've also found another national magazine that I really like that accepts submissions. I want to do that before I continue working on trying to sell my book. I've decided to send my book out to another round of agents. If I still don't sell it to them to sell for me, then I'm going to try the small publishing houses.

A couple of random things. Why is it that the smell of patchouli reminds me of creativity? I bought a patchouli scented candle and I love the smell. It makes me feel creative.

For you younger readers that are myspace fans I've started up my myspace page again. It's really a great place to network with other writers. Almost every writer has a myspace. Check it out at myspace.com/shoegirl1970 .

I REALLY want to go see Elizabeth: The Golden Age this weekend!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind

I just realized Paula Kamen finally came out with her book about Iris Chang. Check it out!

Great Quote

I heard this really great quote today. I was watching my DVRd Oprah shows and the author of "Eat, Pray, Love," was on this week. She was talking about this guy who she mentions in the book, Richard. Richard is from Texas and she meets him at an Ashram in India. She said, " he took all these super esoteric, ancient Indian yogic ideas and boiled them down into these simple, Texas, pragmatic sort of mantras for me that I could digest."

He said one of the best quotes I have ever heard. The author, Liz Gilbert, was complaining about how she wished this and how she wished that. She was pretty much hanging on to the past, and he said, "you've got to stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be."

I absolutely loved that! That is something that I will remember for a long time. What a great question to ask myself. What do I have? A wishbone or a backbone?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The AAMA Gala

The gala wasn't as good as others that I've attended. Everyone kept talking and you could hardly hear the person on the stage speaking. There wasn't a really inspiring speaker like there has been in the past. Overall it was nice and we were there for the real purpose, which is to raise money for this great organization and for the programs they provide for at risk youths as well as adult education classes.

On a more trivial side I decided on a simple black dress and I wore my mother's Mexican shawl with all the colorful flowers embroidered on my back. It was very Frida Kahlo and very appropriate for Hispanic Heritage Month. I also wore strapy black sandals.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

LBFF on chron.com/spanish

Check out this great coverage and photos. Scroll down to the October 1 entry. http://blogs.chron.com/laventanadesindy/. I love her blog!

I have no idea what I'm wearing tomorrow night to the gala, I still don't have a definite sitter, AND I think I'm getting sick. Sore throat. Lovely!

Sponsor Magenta to Read

Dear Friends & Family:

"Magenta" will be participating in the March of Dimes Reading Champions program. She is being challenged to read a minimum of 20 books by October 30th.

We are asking all of our friends and relatives to sponsor our daughter. You can sponsor .25, .50 or $1 per book. It doesn't matter how much you pledge as long as you 1.) Encourage her to read and 2.) Donate to the March of Dimes.

If you would like to pledge an amount for every book that she reads please send me an e-mail and let me know. She has to turn in all her pledges and the list of books that she read by October 31st.

Thank you for your support!

Loida & Rey Ruiz

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

7th Grade Science Project Ideas

OH MY GOODNESS! How many searches have people made for 7th Grade Science Project ideas? A lot! It is really weird that my blog comes up and that they all actually go to my entry from 2005 with that story. OK what was my lame science project about? I timed how long it would take a candle to go out when covered by a jar. I timed how long it took a candle flame to burn the oxygen in a jar. Yes I did. I know. Lame. But that's not the point of the entry that everyone finds when they search for 7th grade science projects. The point is that I didn't work very hard on that project and I knew it and I felt ashamed of that.

It also reminds me of another blog entry where I talked about parents doing all their kids' work. I definitely did not have those kinds of parents. I had the sink or swim kind of parents. Other kids had parents who helped them make their whole volcano that spewed pretend lava. I want to be a happy medium between that parent and the kind of parent that helps when needed. Parenthood is absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

Which leads me to kids who need a helping hand. This Friday I'm attending the annual AAMA Gala. I really like this event because the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans has a charter high school for kids that need a second and sometimes third chance. They have a child care for young mothers trying to graduate. It's a great program that gives kids an opportunity for an education. It actually has an adult program too. If you want to know more about this organization and school the high school is the George I. Sanchez High School.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Latino Book & Family Festival ROCKS

Last night I had the privilege of attending the 5th Annual Latino Book & Family Festival VIP Reception. I was so PROUD to be a part of this event and that I have been a part of it every year since it came to Houston. Ironically this was the first time I attended the VIP reception. I absolutely loved it. I loved hearing some of the authors speak and meeting them all up close and personal. Authors and journalists, such as Michelle Herrera Mulligan, Mario Bosquez, and Teresa Rodriguez. They were all very inspiring.

Then today I took the children to the book fair and they had such a good time. We went to the PBS booth and they made crafts, they spun wheels for gifts at different booths.

They even had a private audience with a children's author who I also met last night, Marie Elena Cortes. She was SO SWEET! We went by her booth and she read to the kids (I met my mother-in-law, niece and nephew there) from her book and then I bought the girls the book and she autographed them for me. The book is entitled "My Annoying Little Brother," so it was very appropriate for the two of them. I read it to my daughter tonight when she went to bed.

After the book fair I came home for a quick refresher and then I went to my reading. I was so touched to see four of my friends there. One of my girlfriends also took her brother and niece. My mother-in-law, daughter and niece also went. Everyone was so kind to go out and hear me read.

I was especially impressed with all that the Houston Institute for Culture has done with the kids they mentor. A group of girls created some awesome public service announcements. If you don't know anything about this organization go to http://www.houstonculture.org/ and check it out.

The other author who read, Wendolyn Lozano Tovar, with Literal Magazine was really good. She read a beautiful moving short story from her book "Tiempo de Agua."

I love being a part of the literary community in Houston. It is such a great group of people. Tony Diaz and Nuestra Palabra do so much to promote literacy in our city. I'm so proud of what they do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Looking Forward to the Weekend

I can't wait until the Latino Book & Family Festival this weekend. I'm taking the kids on Saturday to see Maya and Miguel and to hear children authors read. I also want to meet Michelle Herrera Mulligan, one of the editors of one of my favorite book of essays by Latina writers.

I'm excited about our special pull out section that is running on Friday in La Vibra. It's going to look really cool! It has a great cover. I really worked hard on getting that out to promote the event. SO if you live in Houston please pick up a copy of La Vibra on Friday and check out the pull-out section in the middle. We'll also have copies of it at our La Voz-La Vibra-Chronicle booth at the book fair.

I love reading and literacy is really near and dear to my heart. That's why this event is so important to me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You are Invited

Hello all. It's official. I will be reading some of my work at the five year anniversary of The Houston Institute for Culture. Please join us if you're free next Saturday evening. It starts at 6 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m.

I'm not sure what time I'm reading but I'm sure it's close to the beginning. There is one other writer reading, Rose Mary Salum, the Editor and Publisher of Literal, the Latin literary magazine. Then there's a party.

Who: Loida Casares Ruiz
What: Reading poetry and prose
When: Saturday, September 29, 6 p.m.
Where: Havens Center
1827 W. Alabama St
Why: Because reading keeps me on my writing toes and because you want to come hear me actually read in person. :)

By the way, (something totally superficial) I've lost around 10 lbs!! Yes, I'm back on the Weight Watchers wagon and I'm exercising more. Yay!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Recent Discovery

Who would believe that we'd be so close to the end of September? School has been in session for almost a month now. I've had my good days and my bad days. Some days I get her there early, a couple of times I've gotten there late, but most days I get there right on time.

Now that I'm starting my second round as a mother with a child in school I'm finally catching on to how things work. No one really tells you.

Remember the really popular girls in school? The cheerleaders, the dance team members, the flag corp and any other popular girl kind of team? OK, if you don't remember them just think of the movies, "13 Going on 30," "Never Been Kissed," and "Mean Girls," to name just a few. Remember the really popular girls that were slightly or outright rude to everyone when you were in school? They were the ones giving the parties and being invited to parties.

Well those girls get started in Kindergarten and First Grade. They are already popular when they start school! It's amazing! But I found out why. These are the daughters of the parents who are very involved with the PTA.

There was a PTA meeting on Thursday at my daughter's school and the first graders were performing, so of course I made it a point to go. They sang around five songs while all the parents said ooh and ahh. Three or four little girls were standing in front of the microphone and they were the main little spokespersons.

My sister leans in and says to me, "There go the future cheerleaders of Waltrip."

I cracked up but I realized that it was true.

I was talking to my sister in California, who has raised two children, and I told her what I had discovered. "Oh yeah," she says, "That's how it works. The PTA mother make sure to put their kids right in front all the time. That's why Hannah (my niece) always wanted me to get involved in the PTA."

Well I just now caught on. And who are the PTA mothers? The really active ones, the officers, the ones who have time to volunteer, are the stay at home moms or the moms who work part-time. Interesting... but just like all organizations that's how the politics work. If you want your kids to be active and popular you must lead by example.

The reason I wouldn't know anything about this is because 1. My parents weren't involved in school at all and 2. Well, I wasn't popular. Of course I wasn't a total outcast and I wasn't a total nerd, but I wasn't in the popular crowd either. I was in the middle of the road group. I was the high school newspaper editor.

The closest I got to popular was our senior year when one of my best friends started dating one of the popular boys, who was actually a couple of grades below us, but part of that group. The summer after we graduated she dated him and my other best friend started dating one of the popular boys too and that summer they attended all the popular kids' parties. It was really strange to have friends in the popular group all of a sudden and after school was over with.

So my parents weren't ever involved. I was fortunate if they went to Open House and met my teachers. My parents were older and their motto was, "No news is good news." They didn't worry about me and I was left to defend myself. I guess by making newspaper editor and not being a total outcast, you could say I was a self-made woman.

Now I'm a parent and I'm faced with the important question. Do I become very involved in school? As involved as I can working full time. Or do I stay semi-involved to teach my daughter the type of self-reliance I learned? I don't want to be totally uninvolved like my parents were. That's not good either. It's an interesting question to consider. If you're a mom tell me what you're doing and how you feel about going either direction?

Friday, September 14, 2007

New York, Here We Come!

I felt a strange exhilaration today when I bought our airline tickets. I'm already registered for the conference and I already made the hotel reservations but there was something really exciting about buying the airline tickets. It made the trip very real. YAY! We're going to NYC! I'm so looking forward to the trip. It will also serve as our 10 year anniversary trip. The anniversary that never dies! We're just going to make it an anniversary year celebration!

By the way, I finished "Middlesex" today. It was excellent. Very JD Salingerish.

7th Grade Projects & Other Musings on Life

This entry was written a while back. Since then more searches have come up for 7th grade projects. I hope that kids are reading that entry and learn from my experience.

What is up with all the searches for 7th Grade Science Projects? In the last week since Sunday there have been 50 visits to my website and of those 13 visitors entered through my entry about my 7th grade science project. For those of you who have been reading me for a while know that that’s how I gauge whether I’ve done a good job or not. If I feel like I did in 7th grade then I know that I did a really crappy job on something. Isn’t that funny? A lot of kids must be working on their 7th grade projects and a lot of parents must be searching for ideas. If it’s kids searching I wonder what they thought of that entry. Probably “crazy adult!”

Which brings me to something else. What’s up with all these parents doing their work for their kids? I mean, I know my daughter is only in the 1st grade, but I really try to encourage her to do her own work. Case in point. I go to my daughter’s Open House on Tuesday (I loved her teacher by the way) and I notice that all the papers on the walls with drawings by the kids are real. You know, crazy stick figure looking pictures, etc.. There are a few early Renoirs in the group, but for the most part all the kids draw like my 6 year old daughter.

Then I go outside to see their family trees. A bunch of these were all elaborate with all kinds of added embellishments. My daughter’s was pretty simple, all the names were in her handwriting, one side pink for me and the other side blue for her dad’s family. But about half of the family trees were very fancy. Some had typed names of family members cut out and pasted in place. Some had photos for the family members.

Don’t get me wrong. I was not hating on them. In fact, I was oohing and awing and admiring them out loud. They were really cute! But I couldn’t help but think about how last year every time my daughter did her Spirit Award assignment for the mascot she would tell me how the other kids had their parents help them. I told her that hers were the best because they were done by her.

I want to raise my daughter to be a strong woman. I want her to be smart and I don’t want her to be ashamed of that. I want to teach her to do her own work when possible and to only ask for my help when absolutely necessary. I didn't get any help from my parents and I think it was a good thing. It taught me to be self reliant.

Most important, I don't want for my daughter to feel like she has to follow the crowd. I remember reading about a study done on young girls and how when they were little they were very assertive. Then something happened as they reached puberty and they were socialized to take a more reserved role. I don’t want that happening to her and I don’t think that ever happened to me.

I have to write an essay about my daughter for her teacher. It’s due on the 21st. I’m really looking forward to writing it. I am so crazy about my kids, as crazy as they drive me. They have so much personality it’s not even funny. Sometimes TOO MUCH personality.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hidden Downtown Houston Treasures

My daughter and I decided to go to one of the many fall events downtown. We received this great mailer with a whole calendar of downtown activities for September, October and November. So today we went to Heritage Family Day at The Heritage Society. If you've never been to see the old homes near Allen Parkway, on the edge of downtown, you should. They are such an interesting part of our city's history.

My plan was to do a tour of the old homes but we got there it started to rain. So all we saw was the oldest of the houses, The Old Place, before going into the museum. Inside they had activities going on like crafts for the kids and performances. Some kids were doing typical dances like el baile del viejito and ballet folklorico. The MECA mariachis were also there and they performed. It was really nice.

All in all, by the time we were done watching the shows and doing crafts it was too late to do any more home tours. I was kind of disappointed but at least I got their brochure so I can plan a trip back. We walked around some of the old homes and I read the descriptions to Magenta, on our way back to the car.

Half way back to our car (I parked kind of far) we stopped and had a drink at the Hard Rock Cafe. I had an iced tea and Magenta had a Shirley Temple. It was a fun day and one we'll have to repeat. There are a lot of other activities on the downtown calendar that I'd like to do.

Before we went into the Hard Rock Cafe we stopped by the Angelika theatre and I found out the cafe there has been closed for a couple of years. I was disappointed to hear that. Being an inner city dweller, I always worry about our downtown businesses. The security guard assured me that the theatre itself is doing really well. I was glad to hear that, but sad to hear the cafe closed. The food was really good. I need to make it a point to give more Houston businesses my business, other than when I'm downtown during the week.

My Kids

A friend, who's never met my kids and lives in another city, asked me recently what my kids are like. Here's an example.

The 3 year old boy says to me, "I used to be a Rock Star, but now I'm a little boy."

I told my husband so he asked him about it. He confirmed to him that yes, he was in fact a Rock Star once.

We crack up. He's something else.

My daughter is totally me. She's loud and talkative and not shy at all. She introduces herself to everyone without any fear at all. We were at a meeting for writers and artists and I took her with me.

We were meeting people and she says, "HI! I'm "Magenta*" and this is my mother Loida. I'm an artist and she's a writer." Just like that. No hesitation what-so-ever. Sometimes I think she's even more gutsy than me. She's definitely smarter than I was at her age.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.