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.