Friday, October 26, 2012

My First Blogger Conference- I'm Such A Virgin! Latism '12

For years I have been so jealous of people when they get to go to blogger conferences, especially BlogHer. I long for the day when I too can go to that conference and rub elbows with all the awesome wonderful women bloggers is cyberspace.

Well my dream has come true! Tomorrow I get to join my fellow Hispanic/Latino bloggers here in my very own home city of Houston for Latism '12 and I am so excited!! I know that to you non-bloggers and non-social media savvy people I sound like a total nerd and that's okay. I understand.

If a few years ago you had told me that you were excited about doing the same thing I would have probably thought, "Nerd!" Now that I am not only immersed in blogging but that I understand what impact this is having on communication and marketing I am the nerd.

I'm actually going for two reasons. One is because yes I am a blogger, on here and on skirt! magazine, but also because I work in Hispanic media and marketing. I am also a research nerd and I thrive on knowledge about what makes people, consumers, readers, tick. I want to know how we are going to take our product, our publication to the next level in this great digital shift.

So I'm going tomorrow as a blogger and as a Hispanic marketing specialist. I'm looking forward to learning a lot and meeting a lot of interesting people. Updates to come on Twitter! Follow me @shoegirl1970!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Invisible Mom

A couple of weeks ago I read a story on the Huffington Post that really struck a nerve. It was "The Mom Stays in the Picture," by Allison Tate. I shared the post on Facebook and I immediately started getting "likes" from friends and honest open comments about how they felt about the topic. It was interesting to read their feedback. In fact Katie Couric even picked up the story on her show because there are so many invisible moms out there who are not documenting their existence.

Me, age 35, and my kiddos in 2005, when they were 1 and 4.

I love this picture of me and the kids. I'm so glad my then husband took it of us. It captures the moment of my motherhood so perfectly. My son in his 1 year old cuteness and my daughter in her 4 year old adorable self.  Even though I love this picture, when I look at it I see how fat I am. I see my double chin and the fatness of my arm. Isn't that sad?

What's even more sad is when I realize that we never took a professional family picture when their dad and I were married. I will never have those years or that opportunity back again. When I look back through pictures I see that there are a lot of gaps when I'm not in the pictures with my kids.

I read some of the comments after Allison's essay and one was so sad. This one woman said she only had one child and that she never took pictures with her because it was just a reminder of how ugly she was. Poor woman, but the saddest part is that many of us feel the same way.

On my Facebook post one of my best friends who lost her mom to cancer when she was 19 said that when they go back and look at pictures they have very few of their mom. Another friend admitted that she stays out of pictures too. We all agreed that this article was a reminder that we shouldn't be doing that.

The truth is that when we are old or gone and our kids are adults they won't care what we looked like when they were little. They won't care if we were too fat or too skinny. All they will care is that they have a picture of their mom, a memory of what we looked like when they were children. We are their mom, we're beautiful in THEIR eyes and really that's all that matters.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Raising Bilingual Kids

In his blog Juan of Words, Juan posed the question: "Is it becoming more acceptable, even more popular maybe, to raise bilingual children in this country?" According to the Hispanic marketing journals and books I've read, the speakers I've heard on the subject, the answer is YES. There is actually a movement called "Reacculturation." Acculturated or Assimilated. Hispanics want to learn Spanish or they want for their children to learn Spanish. I know because I'm one of those Hispanics.

Image borrowed from Greenberg Art.

Twelve years ago I was a young pregnant woman so excited to embark on giving birth to my first child. I would drive around on sales calls listening to classical music hoping that my unborn daughter was listening and that this was somehow making her smarter. (I think it did.)

If you would have asked me back then if I planned on teaching my children Spanish my answer would have been a definite YES, no doubt about it. In fact, I frowned upon Hispanics who did not teach their children Spanish. I grew up fully bilingual and probably learned both languages at the exact same time, so I am a firm believer in raising bilingual children. I speak, read and write Spanish fluently.

Then I had a child. Easier said than done. I made arrangements with this wonderful babysitter who agreed to take care of my baby every day while I went to work. The best thing about her? She spoke Spanish! I was so excited! Yes, I speak Spanish, but my husband didn't speak Spanish so we didn't really speak Spanish together in the home. I figured that by having a sitter speak to her in Spanish all day my daughter would naturally speak Spanish like me. Wrong.

It didn't quite work that way. By the time my daughter really started talking in full sentences (at age 2 for her) they were all in English. I realized that she was speaking in English to the sitter and the sitter was responding in Spanish. That's how it went with them all day long. Then she came home to Mommy and Daddy and all we spoke was English.

Somewhere along the way I read an article that said that children identify with the language spoken by their mother. Well, there went my plan out the window! I had been speaking nothing but English at home, thinking that my children were hearing Spanish all day.

Here I am years later. My daughter is 11 and my son is 8. They do not speak Spanish. But do they understand Spanish? I think so. Somehow they always seem to follow along with the conversation when I'm speaking to someone in Spanish and without even realizing it they follow up with a comment in English afterwards regarding my conversation. I know that if I can just make myself speak to them in Spanish a few days a week they will start speaking Spanish.

I keep telling myself that deep in the back of that smart brain of theirs they remember. They know Spanish. I will keep telling myself that until they do.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thoughts of Daddy

My dad is 88 and all the funny and eccentric that you would expect from someone who has lived as long as he has. I guess he's earned that right when he's only 12 years from 100.

Picture by Loida Casares

I love this picture I took of him reading his Houston Chronicle, like he has all my life. Next to him on the wall is my son's birth announcement right below some gory pictures of one of my kids coming out of my stomach. I love the way he just has them pinned on the wall for any visitor to admirer. Thanks Daddy!
Picture by Diana Casares

I just sent this picture to my cousin recently. I knew he would love it. Even though you can't see all of my father's face it captures his mannerisms so well. This is my dad telling a story, with his hands out. I totally get my talking with my hands from him. He is so animated when he's telling a story, one of the reasons we have always loved hearing him. And I love the look on my cousin Oscar's face and how he's smiling at my dad, so obviously loving whatever he is hearing and just being with my dad and being able to enjoy still having him with us.

My dad turned 88 in March. We just went to our family reunion around 3 weeks ago. (That's where the picture above was taken.) We hadn't had one in over 30 years and he didn't get to go to the last one, when several of his brothers were alive. This reunion was especially special because my dad was there and he was the only original child of my grandfather and grandmother who could make it. I have one uncle left, but he's 93 and in a nursing home in California.

Yesterday my dad woke up feeling short of breath and like something was sitting on his chest. My sister took him to the hospital. They admitted him and decided to keep him overnight because his heart was accelerated. I went by to see him last night and my sister went to pick him up today. Instead she called to tell me that they couldn't get his heart regulated so they are keeping him another day.

Yes, I"m scared. He's 88, he already has a pacemaker, and if his heart is accelerated that isn't good. It shouldn't be doing that. All I can do is try to be positive, hope for the best, and appreciate the time I have with him.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

A Weekend of Reflection

This was a very significant weekend for me. It was a turning point in so many areas, but mainly in the area of making my own decisions and moving on with my life post-divorce.

Sometimes it's scary making decisions that you know others won't agree with. Sometimes it's scary speaking up and telling others that you don't agree with their idea of how you should live your life. It's also scary letting others into your personal space.  I know this and more. It's all part of moving on with my life and getting it back in order.

As many of you know I'm not going to BS you, most of the time :), and I'm pretty much an open book. I am very open about my hatred for cleaning and housework. Well, this week I completed my goal of getting all main rooms clean. I have even kept them clean for one whole week. I see this as my post-divorce clean-up. Yes, 9 months later, but a clean-up none-the-less.

Now it's time to start on the biggest post-divorce project of all- my bedroom. I'm calling it "Project Mayhem." I know the definition of mayhem is "Infliction of violent injury on a person or thing; wanton destruction." Well that's what has happened to my bedroom since my divorce. It has become the dumping ground for everything in the house. It has been violently destroyed over the past year and it's not a place of refuge or escape. I feel like I am restoring my bedroom and nursing it back from mayhem.

So this week I move on to the second part of my project and my strategy of taking on this housework piecemeal. I need to do it this way so that I won't lose my mind and become overwhelmed. It's the only way that I can do housework.

Baby steps!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Organized, Getting On with My Life

A long time ago, it seems, I could afford a cleaning lady. It was awesome. I had someone come in either once a week or every other week to help me with the heavy lifting. I loved the feeling of coming home to a clean smelling, dust-free house. That was months ago, maybe even a year ago. I can actually remember the very last time I had my house cleaned by someone else and it was around February 11. I remember because it was close to my 42nd birthday.

Image by

I am not going to lie. I've said it before and I'm not embarrassed to say it. I hate housework. Not just a little. I mean I REALLY hate housework. I hate cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry, folding clothes, ironing clothes. You name it and I will tell you I hate it. I'm much happier reading and writing.

I hate gardening and anything yard related. I detest it.  Of course I would love it if someone did all these things for me. I would love it if I had a cleaning lady again and had a professional landscaper come in and design my yard. I have such a huge yard that I could have a beautiful garden. I'd love it, but I don't have it.

Back in May I blogged on my skirt! blog about getting un-unorganized. (if you read that blog you'll understand the why) It's July and I'm barely starting on this project. I keep saying I'm going to do it and I don't. This and that gets in the way. I get in my way. My anxiety gets in the way because I just get overwhelmed with the whole thing.

Well this week I was finally able to somewhat overcome that overwhelmed feeling. I approached it by tackling one room per day. I started with the kitchen, then the dining room, the living room and now I have to tackle the hall and the restroom. I got to the point when I said enough is enough. I have to get myself organized in order to get on with my life. After the restroom I am going to start on the even bigger challenge of tackling my bedroom. My bedroom alone is a week long project.

I have literally been letting this get in the way of my moving on with my life. I feel like if I can do this then I can move on. It's weird and it's a psychological thing I'm sure, but it is what it is. I have let this get bigger than me to the point that I don't even want to accept visitors.

My house is a symbol of my failed marriage. I've always felt like that. It's not that my marriage fell apart because we never remodeled this house. It's that my marriage was like this house or, this house is an example of what my marriage was like. We could never fix it... We said we would but something always came up and we never did. We had a very "all or nothing" approach to it. It seemed like we either wanted to fix everything at once, or nothing at all. We couldn't tackle one project at a time.

I was talking to my father about it this week and I told him that I really want to remodel this house on my own. I want to be able to say I did it and on my own. It will be the final self-therapy that I need. When I do this I will feel like I've truly moved on.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Never Say the Last One

Just one more! Yes, I forgot this one. Another favorite from the same ad campaign. Sorry, but I had to include it in the bunch. "The only person you are destined to become is the person YOU DECIDE to be." Such strong words!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last Nike Quote Ad

OK, not really THE last Nike Quote. I'm sure I will find other awesome ones I'll want to share. This is the last one I could find of the original print ads that I quoted in my very first blog post about Nike Quotes. 

I couldn't find the one that started, "You don't stand in front of a mirror before a run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit." I also couldn't find an image of the original Nike T-shirt that said, "I am woman, watch me score." I would have loved to have one of those.

So here is the Barry Sanders quote ad.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nike Ads Continued

Here is another one of my favorite Nike ads and one of the ones from my original blog post about Nike quotes. I love that I found most of the original ads the way they appeared in magazines way back when. This one is from 1994 and really touched me when I was a 24 year old overweight young woman. (possibly bigger than I am now)

I had forgotten that the original ad had a picture of Marilyn Monroe, who many people don't realize wasn't a size 2. She had an hourglass figure and according to this one site, that sites sources, she was a size 14 top, size 6 waist but then a size 12 or 14 on the hips. Far from the skinny models and actresses of today and not your standard measurements but she was beautiful and looked perfect no doubt.

I love the line that says, "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..." Once again, awesome ad copy! Thanks Nike for this campaign.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Adventure Continues

I realized today that not only has it been a full week since I blogged, I've only blogged about Nike quotes lately. I guess I should blog about something different today. Like.... self discovery. I think I blog about that the least because I don't really want people knowing my business. Not that I don't at all. I do blog about my feelings a lot of times and even talked about my divorce when I was going through that.

Image borrowed from this dating dos and donts site.

So the other day I was posting a link about a restaurant review on Facebook. I mentioned that I used to go the restaurant and that it was a good place to go on a date. I immediately had people asking me if I was dating or starting to date. I think people had been wanting to ask me but were afraid to and now that I mentioned it they figured it was okay to ask. All I was doing was suggesting the place as a good date place. I found it very interesting how people took a sudden interest.

I wanted to know what one friend in particular was thinking so I sent him a private message and told him that I wasn't dating, but I could if I wanted to. He immediately answered that he would have to see who he could introduce me to. I was flattered and touched that he was so willing to set me up with somebody. Not that I want for him to do that, but it was nice to know that my friends have my back if I need them in that department.

Being single again has been an interesting journey so far. It's been eight months since the divorce. It's hard to believe that it's almost a year but it is. The truth is... I can't even imagine getting into another relationship at this point. I can't imagine going down that road again. Honestly, I can't think of anything that I miss that much about being married. You know how they say "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?" Well, nothing tastes as good as freedom feels!

If and when I do date again it's going to be a completely different approach. I found this quote on Pinterest. (yes my Pinterest addiction) I know that I deserve a lot and I will only accept the very best next time. How's that for self-discovery?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

"All Your Life" Nike Ad

Many of you really love this one. I know I do. I especially love the very last line, "AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."

This ad was published in the 90s too. You can tell by the copywriting style. The chief copywriter of the ad campaigns of the 1990s and early 2000s was a woman named Janet Champ. I would love to get my hands on this original article from Advertising and Society Review, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2006. "Selling Truth: How Nike's Advertising to Women Claimed a Contested Reality."  That is my next quest.

Also, Janet Champ and her writing partner Charlotte Moore wrote a book called Ripe. I want to check that out too.

Forgotten Nike Ad: This is a Picture of a 40-Year Old Woman

In my quest for finding old Nike ads I found this extremely awesome one. I figure that by the copy style it was written around the same time as the "A Woman is Often Measured" ad, which was published in 1994 when I was 24.

In reading this ad, now that I am 42, I realize that when I first read it in my 20s it did not have the significance that it now has. I share this wonderful ad with you now. I know so many women will be able to relate.

It reminds me of what my mom told me when she was in her '60s. She said that inside she still felt like a 16 year old girl. We may be in our 50s, 40s, or 30s now, but we are "just beginning to go."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"You Were Born a Daughter" Famous Nike Ad

Prompted by all the visits that I receive to this site because of the Nike quotes collection I set out to find the images to the quotes I use on my post popular page. I found all of them but one. What I found very interesting on my quest is that I learned that this one ad is considered one of the most influential ads of all time. I was thrilled when I found one blogger had all 8 pages of the ad campaign.

In fact, another blogger mentioned that this ad was featured on the show Independent Lens as ad campaigns that changed the world and she talks about how it changed hers.

I could relate because I remember reading this ad and feeling the same way in 1999. (I was 29) What's funny is that until I found it online the other day I didn't realize that it was EIGHT pages long! Wow Nike! Talk about really wanting to drive their message home. And I think they did if I remember it all these years later.


Thank you for these words Nike! I still work on remembering them every day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron 1941-2012

As I was preparing dinner tonight I was listening to NPR and I heard that Nora Ephron left us today. We lost one of the best woman writers of our century.

Photo courtesy of

I stopped mid stir in shock. I could not believe what I was hearing because I, like everyone else in the world except for her close friends and family, had no idea that she was sick with acute myeloid leukemia. She was 71 but seemed so young, like she still had so much to give us. In fact, while in the hospital she was working on the pilot for a show.

I remember being a young girl of nineteen and sitting in the theater watching When Harry Met Sally and being mesmerized by the amazing dialogue. Even now I can quote so many parts of this movie.

Nora Ephron got into the minds of people and did such a wonderful job putting that down on paper. She said, "I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are."

In today's New York Times article the writer quotes Nora Ephron's friend as saying, “Sitting at a table with Nora was like being in a Nora Ephron movie,” Ms. Quinn said. “She was brilliant and funny.”

I can just imagine what she was like in person and I would have loved to have met the writer of such classics like, Sleepless in Seattle, Hanging Up, You've Got Mail, Julie & Julia, and of course When Harry Met Sally.

In You've Got Mail she wrote, “Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” 

She wrote about New York as if it were also a main character in the movie and the way she described the city made me want to explore Zabar's and the Upper West side. In fact, I followed a You've Got Mail map around the Riverside area on one of my visits to New York.

When I watch her movies I feel the same way that I feel about great art. I will never be an artist but I believe I can appreciate art. I will never be a writer like Nora Ephron, but I can appreciate great writing. She was one of the women writers who I looked up to. I wanted to grow up to be like her. I even wrote how old she was when she wrote certain movies on a piece of paper and carried it in my wallet as inspiration. She was my mentor and I'm sure she was a mentor to many women writers in America and probably the world.

Having seen my sister suffer from leukemia I can imagine that she was tired in the end. Her passing away is a loss for many, but she is finally at rest and without pain. She may be gone, but her writing will live on forever like great literature.

When I was in high school our English teacher explained to us that you always write about literture in the present tense because characters exist in a perpetual, eternal present. The same can be said about Nora Ephron's work. Her characters, her dialogue and her writing will continue to live on.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

"With Your feet in the Air and your Head on the Ground"

Today is the first day of my one week of strange freedom and I am doing nothing, absolutly nothing. And it feels good... After the crazy last week of school, dance recital last weekend, and struggling to find sitters each day last week I must confess it's a nice break.

I call it strange freedom because it is strange to not have your kids at home with you when you are used to having them. Yeah sure, they go away to their dad's every other weekend but this is different. They are gone for a week and I won't see them again until next Friday.

Instead of jumping on the first day and doing all kinds of things I want to do I'm just relaxing and thinking about what I want to get done. I figure I have five more days to do everything. Today is going to be about relaxing, taking my time, and planning the rest of my week. It's such a strange feeling to have all this free time. I don't even know what to start on first.
  • Cleaning the kids room. Really cleaning it and throwing away old toys. (They are going to love me when they get back)
  • Cleaning my room and maybe moving things around.
  • Working on my novel.
  • Visiting with friends.
I'm starting the last one first. I'm seeing all my girlfriends tonight to catch up and gossip and we're writing our Bucket Lists. I think that is a fun activity for a girls' night. Can't wait to catch up with all of them!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Still Waiting for the Silver Lining & Pinterest

So I'm waiting for it to get better... It's not. It seems like every other day it's something new. Like getting a huge cell phone bill because somehow I suddenly started going over my minutes when that has never happened to me before. Ever. Also, breaking my cell phone face for THE SECOND time in a one month period after paying $100 to get it fixed. This was before I realized my truck was going to break down and was going to need a $1,400 repair and that I would have to rent a car for a week. Awesomeness.

So where is that silver lining? I started off by trying to unclutter my life so I can unclutter my brain. I just started last Sunday and barely put a dent in it but today that is my grand plan. I need to and want to unclutter my living space so I can breathe again.

To help me with my vision or goals I created a new vision board on Pinterest. If you haven't explored yet another brain child of some brilliant minds you should. I am enamored of this site.

I started out by creating a page of my favorite Anne Taintor designs for practice. Then I thought of a really good way that I could use Pinterest, which is probably one of the most common uses for it. I created a page of great Mexican kitchen design ideas. I just snowballed from there creating all kinds of pages. I have 15 boards now. My favorite is my vision board where I posted all the things I should be doing. It's a great reminder of my goals and to keep them in front of me.

I'll tell you what the top 10 or 12 pins on my vision board represent. (There are 61 pins in all.) The only thing Pinterest hasn't figured out yet (or so they say in their FAQ) is how to move the pins around on your board.

So listed first is that famous picture of the sailor kissing the nurse. This simply represents passion in its various forms, not just romantic passion. Second I have a really cool Nike ad about how you don't get a body like that by just complaining or wishing for it, but by working for it.  The little gold bag with money is so cute but represents how I need to budget my life and make more money. The little salmon heart is about eating right and eating the super foods. Then there are the Heights houses that are example of how I envision my house to look once I can remodel it. I included a closet with some great compartments to organize all the junk. I need that. I have a New York best-seller list because I believe that one day I will be on that list. And I can't get on that list if I don't edit my present novel and start working on my second novel that is sure to be the best-seller. So there's a picture of some writing being edited. When I'm on that best seller list and I start to make money from my writing I am going to buy the four door Porshe Panamera. Yes, it's there too.  There is a woman laughing because I want to laugh like this and I want to be happy. Luke and Leia represent my kids because they are a boy and a girl and they are close, although mine aren't twins, as my son pointed out. But they love Star Wars and I see them loving each other like Luke and Leia love each other. I also have a necklace that says pray to represent spiritual things and of course prayer.  That's just the first page.

I posted on FB & Twitter that I was in love with my own Pinterest vision board. I love it so much I printed it out and posted it up in my cube at work so I can look at it every day. I brought a copy home too. I think I'm just in love with Pinterest in general.

A Facebook/Twiter friend posted this interesting article today-The New American Mom: Tech-Savvy & Online. I thought it was great that I actually saw her Pin it and not FB or Twitter it. She probably did that too, but it was through Pinterest that I saw it. Thus the study. I love Pinterest!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

When it Rains it Pours! Especially for me...

The week started on Monday with a super early meeting/half day training and then a late in the day meeting too. I still wasn't feeling well and could not shake my cold/allergies. (Thank goodness it's gone now!)

Image from

The busy schedule continued Tuesday and Wednesday at work getting things done and trying to balance it all. Thursday was especially challenging because I had work in the morning, I had to take the kids to the dentist, and then I was attending a UH event that night.

As I was leaving the kids' school, after picking them up to go to the dentist, I tripped coming off the sidewalk and was catapulted into the air. Literally! I flew like Superman in my short black dress on to the cement driveway of the school, and landed straight down on my stomach. My lovely daughter came to me and first pulled my dress down so I wouldn't continue flashing the children on the playground, and then helped me up. I was in pain but I was able to get up and move. My right knee and elbow scraped and my right arm sore. I definitely hit harder on my right side. Both my hands were slightly skinned. Such a typical ME! But as my bff has pointed out, I'm getting older and I can't keep falling that way.

Despite the fall I made it to the dentist in time with the children and then turned back around to drop them off with my niece so she could watch them while I went to the UH selling program's graduation. Their dad was picking them up after work and keeping them for the evening.

By the time Friday came around I was tired and sore from my fall. I had a very early meeting at UH and as I hurried to get there on time I got a warning on my SUV dashboard that my transmission was going out, something that I've suspected for a while now. I quickly exited to downtown and parked it in our garage. I would much rather do that than break down on the back streets of UH.

I still had a luncheon I had to attend for work but thank goodness my editor was going to that too. I caught a ride with her and when I got back I started on my adventure of picking up the kids, taking my SUV to the shop, getting a ride back to my sister's house from my other sister, and borrowing my niece's car. (she is out of town)

The trick with that car was that she had a flat recently and needed a new tire. I considered that buying her a tire and filling up her tank was way cheaper than renting a car, which I may still have to do next week, depending on when my car is going to be done. So that's what I did. I feel like it was very appropriate that I ended the day with two margaritas. I earned them.

I hate to imagine what it's going to cost me to fix that piece of crap SUV. I am really considering taking it to trade it in this time. I can't afford to keep fixing that clunker if all it's going to do is keep breaking down every few years. Ugh!

Then today I had to wake up early to take Miranda to her Open House for her new middle school. I decided to be good and to go to the gym since I was already out and about and practically down the street. That is all I did in the way of being productive today.

It's like some drug came upon my body, or maybe it was fatigue from the whole week, and I passed out and slept for five hours straight!! It was insane. I have never done anything like that before. It was very weird but it told me I must have been very tired. Unfortunately I also feel like I slept through the weekend. I know I still have tomorrow but it's not the same as a Saturday. I just hope that the sleep really was needed and that it means that my body has recuperated and I'm ready for a great week.

Good things are around the corner!! I keep telling myself that and I know that it has to be true.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

World's Best Mom

We all know I'm the world's best mom. I do all kind of great things for my kids and as a someecard says, I "give them love, nurturing, and just as much dysfunction to make them funny."

So I'm at the Bloggess' reading at Blue Willow Bookstore on Tuesday night for her new book, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" and my niece and the kids went with me. The kids were so excited when they saw that Copernicus had made the trip too so I took this picture of them.

A guy and a girl that worked at the shop were cracking up at their antics and because they knew who Copernicus was. I told them that yes I let them read The Bloggess sometimes, because I'm a bad mother like that, but I figure they will exposed to things anyway in life. They agreed and while I clicked the picture I heard them laughing at how silly my children are and I overheard one of them say that when they see kids with that kind of sense of humor it gives them hope for the future. Awww!!

I thought at first that they would hear Jenny read but as it turned out the reading was outside and only my daughter went outside with me to hear her for a few minutes. She cracked up loudly the whole time and people kept turning and looking at us because yes, my daughter is loud like me. Go figure! The kids then spent the rest of the time inside looking at children's books while I waited forever to get my book signed (yes that many people showed up to hear the Bloggess)

The next day we had a parent-teacher-principal conference. Afterwards I asked Seth to tell the teacher and assistant principal what we did the day before. I'm all thinking that it will make me sound like a great mother that I take my kids to hear authors read. (never mind that Jenny uses the F word a lot)

He told them that we went to a reading and I pulled up this picture on my phone. Then he tells  them that he had seen Copernicus and  they were confused and said that Copernicus had died a long time ago. So he clarified that Copernicus was a "homicidal monkey."

At that point they both looked at me with concern in their eyes and I knew then that they knew that yes, I am the problem, because I expose children to inappropriate things. I felt like saying, "Don't mind us, we'll be leaving now." I gathered up Seth and we ran out of there.

There's a reason why my kids have a unique sense of humor. When my daughter asked me today what was my favorite word my reply as I drifted off to sleep was, "Macabre."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And We're Out of the Waiting Place

The wait is over!

On Friday I got out of teaching a class and I had a couple of missed calls so I checked my voice mail. And there it was... The call we had been waiting for all week. The call telling us that Miranda made it into our first choice middle school for Vanguard. I was thrilled!!

Apparently they moved down the waiting list quickly because Miranda was #65. The voice mail message said that I have until 8 a.m. on Monday to accept the invitation. Just on a fluke that they were still there working late I called. Of course they weren't working on a Friday at 5:30 so I left a voice mail message for the Vanguard coordinator and also followed up with an email. I'm making sure I cover all my bases and I'm calling again to confirm at 7:30 on Monday.

After that excitement I debated how I would surprise my little girl. I didn't want to just call and give her the news over the phone. I finally decided on some cupcakes from Kroger so I called my niece Hannah who takes care of her and her brother after school and told her that I'd be a little late. I had already worked late for a Friday too.

So I ran off to Kroger but when I got there I saw this cute little purple cake (above) and I asked the cake lady if she could add something real quick. She said she could and I debated what to write. I didn't want to just write a lame, "Congrats on Lanier" and "Congrats on Being Accepted at Lanier" just seemed way too wordy for such a little cake. Finally I remembered that their mascot was the Purple Pup. That just seemed very appropriate and I knew that it would take her a minute to get the message when she saw it.

My plan worked. When she saw the cake it took her a full 5 seconds to get what I really meant. When she realized that she'd been accepted she jumped for joy. I was so happy for her! It was so worth the wait and getting the cake. One of the wonderful joys of motherhood.

I know that Lanier is a really great school (not only one of the best Vanguard schools in HISD but also one of the best city wide) and I want for her to have the best foundation now for her future. That little girl has big goals and I want to give her all the support that I can as her mother. I want her to achieve more than I did because that's how it should be. Hugs to my big girl!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Update on Vanguard Middle School

Just yesterday I was blogging about my daughter going off to Vanguard kindergarten. I was blogging about the Vanguard test and waiting to find out what school she would be attending. I've blogged about public education and the Vanguard system several times over the years.
Cute image from

Well here we are SIX YEARS later and we are in the waiting place waiting to find out what middle school Miranda will be attending. We didn't have as many choices inside the loop, as we did the first time around for elementary school. We really only had one first choice. The others were okay choices, but not the best. We had one great choice for a magnet school back-up and thank goodness she did get into that one. However, she was wait-listed #65 for the our first choice Vanguard school.

What does this mean? When you apply for Vanguard you have to list  your 3 school choices in order of preference. First they check all your test scores, report card grades, and teacher recommendation to see if you even made it into Vanguard. Next they do a lottery. They choose their designated number of students and wait list all the rest who want to go to their first choice school.

We received a letter on Monday telling us that Miranda was accepted into the Vanguard program for middle school, however she was #65 on the waiting list for her first choice school. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that our first choice school is also everyone's first choice school. My initial reaction was sadness and then as the day went on, and via facebook conversations and comments, I found out that #65 is actually really good. I found out that the school got as high up as #242 on the waiting list last year.

How is this possible? They send out the letters and parents start calling in to accept or decline. Once they have all the replies on April 9 they start calling down the waiting list. So that's when we get called. One mom told me that anything under 100 is "golden."

Now to wait until April 9 to get the official offer so we can celebrate!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Breaking Away From Control

Recently I seem to be hearing so many stories about domestic violence and controlling partners. Partners who think they can control a woman and if they can't they will resort to physical violence if they have to. They think they can force her to do what they want. I admire women who have had the strength and the courage to break away from controlling situations.
(Image borrowed from Emergency Egg)

In many of these situations controlling behavior starts verbally. In this great article that I came across it makes so many good points and the image that I found to express verbal abuse is such a great illustration of what a partner does when he (or she) is verbally abusing a partner. This is exactly how it feels.

The sad thing is that these partners do not realize how the controlling behavior affects the other person. "Verbal abuse is a way of exerting power over a partner and denying her individuality." The more often that a partner is abusive the other person starts to question her own actions. She starts to believe that maybe she should have done something differently. The partner often says things like, "You make me this way. You push me to acting this way. You don't know how to talk to me."

The hardest thing for a woman to do is to realize that this isn't true. It is NOT her responsibility to make her partner feel a certain way about himself and it is not her fault if he acts out in anger. That is HIS choice and NOTHING is an excuse for verbal or physical abuse.

I'm not saying that the woman should be abusive too, or ugly, or provoke him. But it isn't her fault if she isn't doing any of these things or if all she is doing is expressing her feelings. With men like this a woman is not even allowed to express her feelings because it will set him off and make him lash out in anger. Thus the control.

When a woman leaves a controlling or verbally abusive relationship she can feel broken. She feels like her wings have been broken and like she needs to mend them before she can fly again. She has to take the time to heal and maybe even find her voice again. Sadly, if she's been in the relationship a long time she has to mentally heal too. She has to get her partner out of her head and she has to stop being afraid. Don't ever judge a person who has been in a relationship like this because you don't know what she has been through mentally and emotionally.

Despite tremendous progress in laws against domestic violence, an average of three women in America die as a result of domestic violence each day. EACH DAY!!! Those are staggering statistics and they need to stop.

There are some things that we can do to help and we don't have to wait for Domestic Violence Awareness Month to do it. Here locally the Houston Area Women's Center is always looking for volunteers. There's also La Rosa Family Services, who is always in need of funds and volunteers. Right now they are providing services at the Denver Harbor Community Center. If you can't volunteer your time, volunteer your money to organizations like these. If your company is involved with the United Way you can elect where your money goes. I've done this before with the Houston Area Women's Center.

If you are in an abusive relationship where you need to get out, do it now. Break away from the control! Don't become a statistic.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

On My Soapbox About Education

OK, not really. I won't get on my soapbox. I'm just going to discuss some really disturbing figures. At least they are disturbing to me, maybe not to the politicians like Santorum who don't care if the lower or middle class get an education.

(Borrowed from who apparently borrowed it from A Time to Cherish Photography.)

This week I was looking at new research numbers for Houston and I learned that that only 2.7% of all Houston Hispanics have post-graduate degrees. Only 10.3% of Hispanics actually graduate from college, yet 22.6% have some college. Meaning that of that 22.6% some have associate degrees or went to college but didn't finish. 

Why does this matter? Because Hispanics are seriously lacking in higher education. I've blogged about this before, but that was two years ago. This research is the most recent data and when I read it it just makes me sad. There is so much work to be done in middle schools, high schools and even in the junior colleges and universities.

Thank goodness for organizations like Project Grad that help students stay in school and to graduate from college. I've had the privilege of mentoring a couple of Hispanic girls through this program in the past. I've also mentored kids in college and a couple of middle school girls. The best experience I've had so far was mentoring the girls with Project Grad and UH students.

So what can we do as a community? Get involved! Get involved with programs like Project Grad, Girls Inc. and other similar organizations. Call your local high schools and middle schools and find out when they are having their career days and volunteer to go speak to them. Schools are always looking for speakers. Educate them about scholarships and financial aid for them to go to college. Some kids are the first ones in their family to aspire to having a higher education and they may not even know what is available to them.

So this is my challenge to every one of you. Mentor a student this year. Whether it's a middle school, high school, or even a college student. If we all mentor one student to make it through school and to graduate from high school and then eventually college, we will make a difference. Also, volunteer at a local school, any school.

And if you're a parent, be the best parent you can be. Get involved in your child's education. I'm not perfect, but education is very important to me and something I really believe in. Be an example to the young people of today that will be the adults of tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012



[strengkth, strength, strenth]  
1. the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
2. mental power, force, or vigor.

I'm referring to the second definition.

I've been thinking about strength a lot this week and what makes us strong. I've also been thinking a lot about what makes us put up with so much until we can't take it any more. We all have our breaking point and it takes something really extreme to find it. And at that extreme moment when we are pushed as far as we will go, we realize that we are stronger than we thought.

As I was thinking about strength this week I came across this wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt.
"We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot."

No one wants or invites adversity into their life but it happens and when it does all we can do is look fear in the face. We have to take what is happening to us and we have to turn it into a learning experience. That's why I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. We actually gain strength, courage and confidence from the bad stuff as much as we do from the good stuff.

So all we can do is try to live a strong life. And not to go overboard with the sports theme or the quotes, the other quote that comes to mind is this awesome Nike ad quote. One of my favorites, so I'm going to recycle it.

"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 

Enough said...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Aha! Moment at 42

Today is the second day of my 42nd year and I'm just now getting to writing down my goals for this year. I've talked about my goals but I really wrote them down this time- the things that I want to accomplish in my 42nd year of life. In writing them down I wrote one in particular that I write every single year and I think those of you who know me know what that goal is. To write a new novel of course.
As I wrote down the goal to write I had an aha! moment. Something that I already knew at the back of my mind, but that I had never been honest enough to really think about. Since my divorce, or even since my separation, I have been wasting precious writing time. I could have really been writing all these weekends that are my free weekends.

I thought about it again today when I read this piece I wrote for Literary Mama four years ago. I used to long for that time to write when the children were young. Now that I have this time without them, and all to myself I'm totally taking it for granted, the way I took my 20s for granted.

I've been so wrapped up in my emotions, in my loss, in my drama, that I've been searching for something that I can only find within. It's like I'm searching for validation or affirmation when I already know the answer. I know I'm an awesome and interesting person. I have a great education, an extremely interesting job at a company that I love, I'm well-traveled, well-read, I'm passionate, very smart and apparently I'm still sexy and attractive.

The truth is, I don't need for someone to tell me any of these things. I know myself. I don't need to be wasting my time or my life looking for validation. So one of my goals for my 42nd year is to stop doing that.

If I can stop wasting my time on trivial and mundane things then I can start using my free weekends for more intellectual things. These are my weekends for goodness sake and I'm wasting precious time! From now on on my free weekends I'm writing or feeding my mind intellectually. At least during the day and I will break for dinner and evening events that are worthy of my time.

That was my Aha! moment this weekend. (a la O Magazine) It took this weekend all alone and really pondering on my life and goals to realize this, or rather to be honest with myself. There are other things on my goal list like running with the kids, eating better (always on the list), making more money, remodeling the house, and the spiritual, but writing is definitely at the top of my list.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hurrah! At Last I'm 42

No, not really...I'm not excited that I'm turning 42 in a week and a half. If anything, I'm terrified. You see, my sister died when she was 42 and now that has become a big milestone for me. It makes me aware of my own mortality.

I was 25 when we lost Hilda and 42 seemed so old to me then. It was a grown up and I did not feel like a grown up at that point in my life. I had just spent a month penniless in Spain that summer prior to her death. Penniless but free of responsibilities, mortgages, house payments, children, debt.. and the list goes on. But I was 25.

Now here I am on the threshold of turning 42 myself and I have never felt less like an an adult. I feel like I can't get my footing on anything, except for those things that include my children. When it comes to the children I'm operating on autopilot. I know what I need to do with them. I know that their education is important and I'm doing all that I can to take care of their physical and emotional needs.

However, I don't know what I'm doing with myself. I've written down my goals but I haven't written out a plan on how I'm going to get there. Now as my birthday looms above me I know that a plan is in also in order. I need to "plan my work and work my plan," as an ad VP used to say to us all the time.

I don't want to be "a wandering generality." I want to be "a meaningful specific." (Zig Ziglar) Only I can make that change. Lately I'm feeling more like a wandering generality that has lost her way. I need to find my way back to my original path in life and I need to plan how I'm going to do that.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dentures Part Deux and Camp Adventures

I went back to the dentist last week to have my permanent crown removed and to have a new temporary put on. The dentist started off with the usual two shots and quickly realized that he needed to give me two more shots. Yes, four shots total. I still had the lump on Thursday.

Despite the pain and the lump I must admit that this temporary crown has been 100% better than the last one. I've been able to eat just fine. I'm kind of disappointed. I was hoping I would lose another 7 lbs this time from lack of eating. Instead I've been able to eat just fine. Not good.

So my daughter left to camp on Tuesday morning and I have now survived 3 evenings without her. I haven't freaked out in worry that maybe I didn't tell her enough or prepare her enough. I didn't want to nag her before going. I wanted to be the cool mom. But as soon as she was gone and friends told me I did a good job with her, I started thinking of all the things I didn't warn her about before leaving. I'm a mom. I do that.

We got a camp update when they arrived Tuesday at noon and then again Wednesday through the bad weather day. Then today we didn't have an update. I thought I had missed it because my work email was down. Turns out they didn't send one out today. Probably because the day was so beautiful.

My daughter promised to write me a letter each night about her trip and what they did. I hope she remembered to do that. That way she'll also record her adventure so she can remember it in the future.

She comes home tomorrow. I will survive the work day before going to pick her up, taking her in my arms, and hugging her tight.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Just Get Me Fitted for My Dentures Already

I'll never forget when two of my older sisters informed me that my teeth were old now and that I would start getting crowns soon because we inherited both our parents' bad teeth. I promptly had to get my first crown right before I turned 40. Love them!

Let's start with my molar issues that started a couple of weeks prior to my vacation. Anyone who knows me knows that nothing is ever simple in my life. Just because the first two crowns I had were non-complicated did not mean that they would all be that way.

So my third crown was a nightmare. In a nutshell I had to have 8 shots and finally some gas because I had a little break down and cried because of the stress. (yes, I said cried) Turned out the crack was right on a nerve. So every time the dentist would drill I could feel it and he had to keep giving me more shots. Then I choked on the water and had to sit up and that's when the tears just flew out of my eyes. When I started crying he decided I needed a little gas to calm me down.

After that bad experience the temporary crown came loose two days later and I had to go in to have it replaced. If that wasn't enough it started to crack on the last couple of days that I had it on, but I just hung in there until the appointment when I was having the permanent crown inserted. Even after the pemanent was put it in I didn't feel right. I kept telling the dentist that it didn't feel right.

When I went back in for my cleaning the week I was on vacation we found out that it wasn't the right size. Of course it wasn't! After he gave me 8 shots that first visit my gum and my mouth were totally swollen. I looked like I had been punched in the face that day. (I had to go to Kroger looking like that because it was our turn to provide the snack for M's Odyssey of the Mind meeting and I got all kinds of weird looks.) The point is that if my mouth was that swollen I can understand why he didn't get an accurate mold of my molar.

What does all this mean? I have to go back in now to have it done all over again. This time they are going to have to break the permanent crown to remove it. I am so not looking forward to the torture.

On a good note, I lost around 7 pounds because I couldn't eat. Maybe I'll lose another 7 lbs when I have all this work re-done. That reminds me, I need to call them to make an appointment for next week.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Just When I Thought I Could Have a Life...

What? One post in one month and then two posts back to back? Yes, I actually have a lot to say now. I've been kind of quiet lately because I was kind of hibernating for the winter. No, seriously, I just didn't have much to say. Yes, me, I had nothing to say, unbelievable I know. I was without words. (So get ready to read!)

Now I have a whole lot to say. I actually dared to believe that I could have somewhat of a social life. Yes, I just got back from vacation, where I had a wonderful time and fooled myself into thinking that life could be that simple. I went out a couple of Fridays in a row.  No, I didn't go anywhere on vacation. I just stayed at my house and I took my kids somewhere every day four days out of five. We had a great time.

Museum of Natural Science on Monday, Children's Museum of Tuesday, home with play date for my son on Wednesday, Movies and The Menil on Thursday, and Downtown Aquarium on Friday. But in the midst of all my vacation days I was naive enough to believe that I could actually have a social life. Wrong.

My vacation ended on Monday and that's when I was reminded of how crazy and complicated my life is. Just like clockwork my truck started to break down. I had a low oil warning show up on my dashboard the Sunday before going back so I took it in to my oil place on Monday. They told me that I had a leak. So I turned around and took it to the shop because my ABS light also came on. They quoted me $4,000 worth of repairs on Tuesday. No thank you. I need to buy a new car instead. Now I have to start on the car shopping, which I despise.

Next there's the kids. I thought that it would be great idea if instead of paying for After School care I could save money and ask my niece to keep them. The problem is that she's still in San Diego from her holiday visit. So this week two of my sisters helped with them, then I picked them up today, and tomorrow my sister again. Niece isn't back until Saturday so she can't start picking them up until next week. All this with a half working truck.

Tonight when I took Miranda to her Odyssey of the Mind team meeting I was reminded that they are going to start meeting twice a week now instead of only once. Great! No, really great! :-D (I want to be the supportive mom but I'm also the exhausted mom.) So now they are meeting on Mondays and Wednesday evenings. Yes, evenings, as in after work.

And Miranda informs me today that they gave them the dates for their camp trip. I'm happy for her but I'm so nervous at the same time. This will be the very first time she goes somewhere on her own. I don't want to be my parents. I want to be the supportive cool parent and I want for her to go and to have the experience that I didn't get to have.

Last but not least, this is the week that the Vanguard and Magnet applications are due. We have made our choices for the middle schools. Now we just wait to find out if she gets into her first choice.

Yes, I will need a drink on my free weekend. I'm just ready for my next adventure. I'm sure that something exciting is coming my way, it always does. I wouldn't be me if my life was dull.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Welcome to 2012

Here we are. A new year. New goals, etc... etc...

Now if I could only get my stuff together. Here they are in no particular order. Short and simple.
  1. Teach my children more. Read to them more, do more with them. We are going to start reading "The Catcher in the Rye" together like we read "To Kill a Mockingbird" last year.
  2. Make more money. This will help me achieve the rest of my goals.
  3. Remodel my house. Remodel, remodel, remodel...
  4. Continue on this weight loss and exercise journey.
  5. Edit my novel and self-publish (yet again it's my goal)
So what are yours?