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!


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.