Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year is Almost Here

We are two and a half days to 2014. Yep, seriously. I posted this image recently on my Facebook page. I think it's a very appropriate statement for 2014.


Image by Anne Taintor.

I also posted another one telling 2013 thank you for all the lessons and that I'm ready for 2014. I am. I think 2013 taught me its fair share of lessons and I'm done. I know what I want for 2014 and I'm going to go for it.

This was an amazing year, with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I took a HUGE leap of faith in May when I left the Chronicle. I like to think that in the words of Brene Brown I "dared greatly." I did what she says, "What's worth doing even if you fail?" I say this because I did it all on faith without any idea if this would work.

I am building my new business Casares Communications, that has evolved into a media rep company, and I am working on my writing.

I would love to say that I am writing full time but then that wouldn't be realistic either. I have to do something to make money to pay my bills and to take care of my children and I love the freedom of owning my own company and creating my own revenue.

So for the past six months and really more so in the last three months, I have been working on building a business where I can make money but that also gives me the freedom to be here for my kids, my dad and my writing, in that order.

One of my goals for 2014 is to make that business a real success and to make it profitable. I'm not asking to be a millionaire. All I want is to make enough money to cover my expenses, to feed my kids and to pay for my health insurance.

Another thing I did in 2013 was take a wonderful one week vacation with my kids. We went to Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. It was a great experience they won't easily forget.

At the end of 2013 I tackled my novel again. I hired a wonderful editor who has been helping me edit it in order to get it ready for electronic publication. This is a novel that I started working on in 1996 and that I finished around 2005. Yes, eight years ago approximately. I finished it and then it just sat there forever. I was so excited to find someone as passionate about it as I was and so willing to edit it with me. I am forever in debt to her for encouraging me to do this, just by her interest. That in itself encouraged me so much.

So 2013, you've been good to me in many ways. Thank you for the freedom that I have had to spend time with the kids and with my father. Thank you for the courage to leave my job of 16 years for freedom. I feel like my mind has been freed in so many ways.

And thank you for the lessons. For the lessons in patience, forgiveness and letting go. I have another image by Kelly Rae Roberts that I love and I have to share here. This is me. I have to learn to just let it go.

 
An ex co-worker and one time teammate passed away last Monday, right as we drew near to the end of 2013. She lived life so richly and so fully. She was so ambitious and she reached for her professional goals, while still having fun and finding love again. I want to remember that about her. She lost her life at only 47 and it reminded me of my sister losing her life to cancer at only 42.
 
Ironically, I worked with Janice at the time that my sister was diagnosed and was going through chemotherapy. That was the first time that I had an "Aha" moment in my life and the first time that I left the Chronicle. Now that Janice passed away I remembered Hilda. It was a reminder that we must live life to its fullest and with no regrets.
 
That's what 2014 is going to be about. Letting go, having no regrets, living fully, writing novels and making my business profitable. Everything else will fall into place.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daddy, Winter Vacation, Believing in Sacrifies

Last year at this exact same time my then 88 year old father got very sick. I was planning a trip to see the caverns near San Antonio and I had already made plans with a cousin to stay at his house in Boerne. When my dad became sick I had to tell the children that we would reschedule for a later time. I never did.

"Believe" by Artist, Kelly Rae Roberts

We soon realized that my dad couldn't live alone any more. My sister invited him to go live with her because she doesn't have young children and she has a larger house. He would have his own room, own bathroom, plenty of space. My sister nursed him back to health during those really hard first days home from the hospital. I acknowledge and appreciate that she got the hardest part.

Then six months later he decided that he needed a change of scenery and he chose my loud, crazy, crowded, grungy house. He was much better by then and he was itching for some independence which he got from me. I'm super hands off and I realized that all he really needed now was for someone to be with him and to make sure that he took his medication in a timely fashion.

He flourished under is new-found freedom, walking down the block alone to the bus stop and taking the bus down to his favorite restaurant. Sometimes he'd stop along the way to go to the bank or to the cleaners. Sometimes I gave him a ride or picked him up. He loved it. He even went to stay with my sister in California for almost two weeks at the end of the summer when I took the kids to Washington DC and New York.

He'd been doing really well and I thought that maybe this time during the winter break I could schedule a weekend trip to the San Antonio area with the kids so we could see the caverns. It doesn't look like that's going to happen...

Exactly a year after he was really sick he isn't feeling well again. He started feeling a jabbing pain on his left side late last week and he confessed that he had been feeling it for some time now but he hadn't said anything.

I took him to the doctor this past Wednesday, after learning that he should have had a cat scan in August. Somehow in the transition from my sister's house to my house the message was lost. The crazy thing is that I took him to both his geriatric and cardiologist appointments in the past six months and not once did they tell me about the missed cat scan.

The young doctor examined him and asked him more about the pain. She pressed down on his side and listened to him with her stethoscope. Finally she asked us to go up for an x-ray, have blood work done, and to schedule a cat scan and an ultrasound. We did as she asked and then they just sent us home.

All week my dad has been feeling down and he's been sleeping all day. We have to wait until Monday for the cat scan and until the 4th for the ultrasound. Meanwhile there's definitely something wrong with him. The thing is the pain isn't serious enough for them to keep him and he's not in so much pain that he needs to take something, or so he says. He says it's more like a nagging pain and I think the worry of what it could be is what has him a little depressed.

Yes, I'm a little sad that we can't go to the caverns, but I don't want to take any chances leaving him while he's sick. As he approaches 90 I know that I won't regret any of this time with him and I believe that I won't regret any of the other sacrifices that I'm making for him. Yes, it's tough having an elderly parent living with me. Sometimes it's like having a third child. I can't do all the things I used to do and the house is a little crowded.

I haven't mentioned the caverns to the kids again. There are enough things around Houston that we can do with the new train running by our neighborhood, the zoo, the museums, and all the great restaurants along the way of the train line. It's going to be a METRORail vacation, visiting all the places along the way. It will be a great winter break!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners by Gwendolyn Zepeda

A few years ago before Gwendolyn Zepeda was Houston's Poet Laureate I heard her read at Inprint's First Friday. I've pretty much followed Gwen Zepeda's writing since I read about her in the Houston Press and attended her "Quinceanera I Never Had" reading event. By the time she read at "First Friday" she had already published a few books, but I had never heard her poetry.



There was one poem in particular that spoke to me. It was her poem "Proposal" that can now be found in her new book of poetry, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners. I loved that poem from the moment that I heard it. The funny thing was that I was married at the time so someone could ask why I loved the poem so much or how I could relate to it.

I think that many women can relate to the poem, even married women. I believe that as women we are socialized to grow up, get married, live happily ever after and sometimes women put their dreams on the back burner. That has always been an idea that I have struggled with because even married women should be married to themselves first. How else can you love yourself and in turn love your spouse and your family? I know many people don't agree with this idea and that's okay.

I subscribe more to the idea that a woman should put on her oxygen mask first. If I didn't do things to keep my sanity I wouldn't be able to take care of my kids and now more recently my elderly father. I have to be very sane in order to do what I do every day. If a woman is committed to herself she can be even more committed to her family.

Fast forward in time. Gwendolyn Zepeda published her book of poetry and I went to her reading. She didn't read "Proposal" that night, or she read it before I got there, so I didn't know it was in the book. She read a lot of other great poems like, "The Mexican in Me/The White in Me" and one of my other favorites, "His Son is His Everything."

I pre-ordered the book that same night but life carried me along the way life does and I never got to the bookstore to pick it up.

I was reminded about it on Facebook again and I mentioned "Proposal" to Gwen in hopes that I didn't sound too much like one of those weird obsessive nut/fans. (I had mentioned it to her before and that I lost my copy.) That's when Gwen told me that the poem was in her book and I remembered that I never went back to Brazos Bookstore. I made it a point to go pick it up and as soon as I got in my car with my book I turned the pages to the poem and I read it to my sister, as my son listened in the back seat.

It had been so long since I had read the poem that I had even forgotten the title. As I read it I was moved again by Gwen's words.

I've been divorced for two years now and the words never rang so true to me. I don't plan on remarrying and if I ever do, it won't be until the kids are in college or at least nine more years. I know that I don't know what can happen in nine years. I realize that. But for now, that's the plan.

I'm a single woman again and I want to be married to myself more than ever before. I am the woman I deserve and the last stanza of the poem is my very favorite.

"The day has come and I swell with pride.
I've finally captured the girl I deserve.
I'm ready to be my own bride.
I'll lock the rest of the world outside."


I'm ready to be my own bride.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dry Shampoo Review

A few months ago I discussed dry shampoo and how I've tried a couple of different ones. I had just purchased the TRESemme dry shampoo volumizing for fine/oily hair. When I first posted on FB that I would be blogging about this I had a friend who said that she loved this brand and uses it weekly so she doesn't have to wash her hair that often.


I tried it but for some reason it didn't work very well for me. My theory is that my hair is waaaay too oily. It changed drastically after I had children. I used to have normal hair pre-babies, not oily but not dry. Somehow after two kids my hair started thinning AND it became more oily. Lovely combination!

 I realize that not everyone's hair is the same. As you read this review keep in mind that my hair is extremely oily. It is so oily in fact that it is already oily within 24 hours of washing it last. I've tried washing it in the morning, at night, in the middle of the day. Like clockwork it will be oily within 24 hours.

I tried the TRESemme and sadly it did not work well. I even made sure I was following the instructions carefully. My hair us still oily and nasty looking, Sometimes it looks even worse because it ends up looking weird and like I have product in it.

Before TRESemme I tried "Schwarzkopf got2b rockin' it 4ever stylestay." Yes, the real name! When I was using TRESemme I seemed to remember that the got2b worked a lot better but I was out of it so I couldn't compare the two.



This past week I went out and bought another bottle the Schwarzkopf got2b and yes, definitely way better than TRESemme for me. It works almost as well as my all time favorite dry shampoo, Bumble and Bumble. But before I discuss that dry shampoo keep in mind the cost difference between these three. TREsemme retails at around $5.29. Schwarzkopf got2b retails at around $5.95. Bumble and Bumble "hair powder" retails at $35.



I've blogged a few times about Bumble and Bumble hair powder. I've even joked about it being my powdered wig.  I also blogged about how I first read about Bumble and Bumble in O Magazine when I first tried it. It is the BEST hair powder/dry shampoo I have ever tried.

The only down side is that it only comes in tinted colors and not in clear. The black or brown tint  rubs off on pillows and you have to be careful with clothing. You definitely have to wash it out before bed. You also have to be careful to use it sparingly and not to over-apply or it will give your hair a nasty texture and you will look like you're wearing a powdered wig. Other than that, it is absolutely the best one. BUT it also costs $35. Another reason to use it sparingly and honestly the reason I have not bought a bottle since I worked full time and even then only when I had a great bonus.

Until I start making the kind of money I used to make when I bought $35 bottles of Bumble and Bumble I'm going to stick to the Schwarzkopf (I just like typing that word) got2b rockin' it dry shampoo. Or let me know if you have another brand you would recommend and that I should try, but please keep in mind how ridiculously oily my hair is when making the recommendation.

Friday, November 29, 2013

And Then There Was One

I'm down to just one blog again. I started this blog nine years ago this November 25. (Happy Belated Anniversary to me) Seth was seven months old. Then a few years later, February 13, 2008 to be exact, I started blogging for skirt! magazine. I was thrilled to have another outlet for my voice and for my writing. My handle there was Shoegirl1970 and I blogged approximately 346 times over 5 years and 44 weeks.

 
A couple of weeks ago I received an email that was also sent to all the skirt! bloggers telling us that the magazine had decided to take a different direction and that they will no longer host the skirtsetter blogs. I was so sad. I quickly went to look at my blogs and tried to start saving them but that seemed like it was going to take forever. I quickly gave up. 345 blogs are a lot of blogs. Lesson learned? I should have backed up my blogs every year. Five years and 44 weeks fly by!
 
I also tried blogging on Hips 'n Salsa for a while but it was very hard to keep 3 blogs going, a full time job and 2 kids and that only lasted a year and a half or so.
 
Now I'm back to one blog. The funny thing is that I was recently talking about starting a sales blog for my new business, Casares Communications. I want to blog about the importance of having a sales team, even if it's just one person. I'm just worried if I can think up enough topics to keep the blog going on a regular basis. I still need to put some thought into that. Maybe I can start weekly and move to monthly, depending on the need for information.
 
I have to think about it. For now I will enjoy having only one blog.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Old Blog Posts, Life and Living with Imperfections

I was driving down a street by my dad's kingdom hall today and I saw a horse tied to a tree with a For Sale sign written on the back of an orange traffic sign and tacked to a tree. Only in the ghetto and in Texas. I swear!


It made me think of a blog entry I wrote once called "Horses in the Ghetto" but when I Googled that title with my blog name I couldn't find it. All I found was some song by the same title. Very weird. Maybe I wrote it somewhere else, or maybe it's missing now. Now I'm starting to think it may have been a poem.

In Googling my blog post I came across other blogs I've written and I always love doing that. I especially love the blogs about the kids when they were little. Seth was just a baby when I started this blog and he's 9 now. I always tell myself I should print all my blogs into a bound book and I haven't done it yet. I need to. What if something crazy happened and Blogger folded and took all my blog posts with it?

Life is passing me by way too fast. How is it already November of 2013? How has it been two years since my divorce? And HOW is it already six months since I quit my job? The time has come for me to either start making some serious money at my business or for me to get a full time job and back into Corporate America. On a good note, I just recently signed on with a newspaper in New Jersey. I really like the publisher of this paper and I think I'll really enjoy working for her. I just need to sell something for these publications now!

I read Brené Brown's book "The Gifts of Imperfection" not too long ago and I started reading "Daring Greatly" but I got side-tracked by another book and I need to go back and finish it when I finish this book I'm reading.

The point is this. Yesterday I came across a Huffington Post article about the 14 signs of perfectionism and it freaked me out. As I read the article I started checking off all the ones that reminded me of me and what freaked me out was that I was able to check off at least 11 of the 14 signs. OK, I'll share two things. (cringe) I'm a big procrastinator and I know there's no use crying over spilt milk... but I do anyway. Terrible I know.

I thought, "How can I be a perfectionist? I'm fat and I my house is a mess." I'm definitely not a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning. But then I remembered that I read something like this in "The Gifts of Imperfection." I don't have the book with me because I let a friend borrow it but I think that I can be a perfectionist even if my life is a mess because my problem is that I worry about all those things and I don't end up doing anything at all.

Even though I read the book I kept thinking as I read it, "Oh that's not me. I'm not a perfectionist." Now I'm thinking I need to go back and read that part of the book again and I need to take a honest look at myself. It's hard, but I do...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Win a Package of Goodies from Orgullosa Breast Cancer Awareness Month


For every LIKE on their Facebook face Orgullosa is giving $1 to the Liga Contra el Cancer. Go to their page now and like their page and do your part for October- Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Once you like their page you can enter to win a giveaway for one of my readers, which includes beauty products and an iPod Shuffle!

The Orgullosa Breast Cancer Awareness Month Giveaway (the “Sweepstakes”) begins on October 20, 2013 at 6:00:01 P.M. Central Time (“CT”) and ends on October 27, 2013 at 11:59:01 P.M. CT (the “Promotion Period”).

How to Enter: During the Promotion Period, send an email with "#Orgullosa4EarlyDetection" in the Subject line to Shoegirlcorner (at) Yahoo (dot) com. A limit of one entry is allowed per person.

 
One winner will be selected. All winning entries will be randomly generated on or shortly after the Entry Deadline Date. If your name is drawn and you meet the eligibility requirements and otherwise comply with these Official Sweepstakes Rules, you win the prize. The winner will be notified by email from Shoegirlcorner

Official Rules

#sponsored

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Orgullosa House Party for Hispanic Heritage Month

Last night eight of my girlfriends and I got together for our Tertulia, a tradition we started 13 years ago. This month it was an Orgullosa theme and we got to enjoy all the Orgullosa products that they sent us. We had Oil of Olay, Secret deodorant, Cover Girl lipsticks, nail polish, Venus razors, t-shirts, bracelets and bags. Our friend Liliana was kind enough to open up her house to us.


We shared stories, gossip, food, drinks and laughed until we cried. Laughter with girlfriends is always the best medicine for any ailment but it's especially good when you have gifts to share. We talked about being Hispanic, or not, about being half Hispanic, half African American, Mexican, Colombian and American. We are all women and we are friends.

"P&G announced the launch of “Orgullosa,” an initiative created to celebrate, empower, and fuel Latinas’ accomplishments and dreams. The initiative, which carries the name of the Spanish word for “proud”, has as its centerpiece Orgullosa.com, a virtual community through which Latinas can engage in a dialogue with one another that also provides them beauty, household, and lifestyle advice to simplify their lives". - Business Wire 

Sponsored Post

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Orgullosa Hispanic Heritage Month Package Giveaway


I'm having an Orgullosa House Party with my closest group of girlfriends this coming weekend and you too can be a part of the fun!




Orgullosa is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and they've sent me over a bunch of beauty items for a party of ten. We are going to use the nail polish to create some fun "nail art" to celebrate our culture.  

So here is where you dear reader come in. They are also sending me a giveaway for one of my readers, which includes beauty products and an iPod Shuffle!

The Orgullosa Hispanic Heritage Month Package Giveaway (the “Sweepstakes”) begins on October 8, 2013 at 4:00:01 P.M. Central Time (“CT”) and ends on October 15, 2013 at 11:59:01 P.M. CT (the “Promotion Period”).

How to Enter: During the Promotion Period, send an email with "Orgullosa Hispanic Heritage" in the Subject line to Shoegirlcorner (at) Yahoo (dot) com. A limit of one entry is allowed per person.

One winner will be selected. All winning entries will be randomly generated on or shortly after the Entry Deadline Date. If your name is drawn and you meet the eligibility requirements and otherwise comply with these Official Sweepstakes Rules, you win the prize. The winner will be notified by email from Shoegirlcorner

Official Rules

Sponsored Post

Fall Has Arrived, if Even for a Few Days

Every year I have my fall post. This is it. I love FALL!!! I love fall and spring in Houston. We don't really have a real winter so it's kind of just fall and then spring here and then it's summer again.

(Photo by: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT And we do not have leaves like this in Houston in the fall. Very far and few between.)

Sunday we had our first cold front. It was amazing! It was so cool on Monday morning, so after I got home from dropping off the kids I went out for a walk for an hour. It felt so great!

We're supposed to have some cool days for the remainder of the week but at the end of the week it's supposed to start getting warm again. I'm really hoping it happens on Saturday after we have our reunion on Friday night because it's going to be outside.

Outside doesn't usually go over well with me unless it's winter time. I'm hoping for the best Friday night with this new cool front. PLLLLEEEAAAASE Cold front! Can you stretch it out until Friday night?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Can't Blog About Beauty Products

I know now why I can't blog about beauty products despite the fact that my mother was an Avon lady for most of my life. It just doesn't hold my interest long enough and I don't find meaning in it. Don't get me wrong. I consider make-up a very important part of life. I don't like leaving my house without it and when I do I feel messy and undressed. But sadly I can't blog about mascaras and what I've found $100 later. I will still write a review because I did buy the mascaras and I did do the research and I owe you all a story about what I found. Maybelline Colossal was still the best.



I realize that I like writing about a lot of other things. I want to blog or write an article about how the Taliban was actually oppressing women in Afghanistan since 1994 and that it took SEVEN years and 9/11 for anyone to do anything about it. The world had been turning a blind eye while women were stoned to death in soccer stadiums. Even then, the US didn't go into Afghanistan to free the women. They went in for political reasons to over throw the Taliban and women just happened to benefit from it. Yeah, those are the kind of subjects that interest me more.

I was so excited to learn about Yahoo Voices. I just joined them and I can't wait to submit articles. I also want to write a travel article about Houston. What a great way to write for the web and to get paid in the process too. Thanks to one of the other bloggers at skirt! who wrote about this great way to get published. I can't wait to get started

I am at a crossroads in my life once again. The summer is over, fall has officially started, and this is when I have to decide if I want to move forward with my own business and give it a go or if I want to get back into the work-force. All arrows are pointing towards me working at my business full time.

The problem is that until I start seeing real money come in on a monthly basis it's hard to envision this as my career. I know that once I make that first big sale it will look like a reality. I already had one close call and I almost tasted victory, only to have it yanked away. Temporarily. I know that if that deal could have happened others will really happen. I just need to keep working at it. It all depends on how badly I want it. And I do.

Life is good. I try to remember that when it gets tough. I have so many things to be grateful for. I have had the amazing luxury to take these four months off from Corporate America. Although things haven't gone exactly as planned, I still had that. I haven't taken this long of a vacation from really working in 19 years. The longest break I've taken since then were the 3 months when Seth was born.

So I write in my gratitude journal (really just my Franklin planner) every day and I remind myself all the things that I'm grateful for. I am grateful for this time to write about what really moves me. I am grateful to have the luxury to decide what I want to do. I am grateful for my abilities that make it possible for me to sell and to make a living. I know I can do this and I will.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Update on Testing Mascaras

I know you all have been wondering what's the deal with the mascaras. I wanted to give each one its fair shot so I've only tried two mascaras for 2-3 days each. I've tried Maybelline's the Colossal Volum Express (Cat Eyes) and Rimmel's Scandal Eyes. So far Maybelline's Colossal is ahead.


When I set out to review these mascaras I received a lot of different advice. I was told that I have to use an eyelash curler first and in between coats. I was told by some women that they use one mascara as a base and then go back over it with another mascara. My niece told me I had to do this sawing and pulling motion to pull the lashes out. Others tells you that you need to separate the lashes. I don't want a mascara that causes my lashes to stick together.

Too much work in my opinion! More power to those of you who do this and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just not for me.

I talked to one of my best friends about this. She agreed that she too was looking for a mascara that was so good that all you had to do was apply a couple of coats with no fuss and go. We are busy women who don't have a lot of time to fuss with our make-up but we do want to look nice. We've never really been that girly girly where we take a long time with our hair and getting dressed.

I thought to myself, "There have to be other working moms and moms with toddlers out there like me. Or just women who don't like to spend a long time on their eyes but who want a good mascara."

I don't expect for my eyelashes to look just like the model's on TV. I know she probably has naturally long eyelashes like my niece.

I applied 2-3 coats of each mascara and the Colossal made my eye lashes look longer and there was minimal clumping. My lashes didn't look as long with Rimmel's Scandal Eyes and there was a lot more clumping.

That is my goal. I still need to try Revlon Lash Potion and I already had Maybelline's Lash Fusion and their Stiletto but I want to try them both again with the same scrutiny that I've tried the other two.

Update: I just tried Revlon Lash Potion and I think my lashes may look even longer than with Colossal but it looks like my lashes are sticking together more. I'll try it again tomorrow in full eye make-up mode to get a better idea.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

In Search for the Perfect Mascara

I very rarely blog about makeup and it's funny that I don't. Especially since I practically grew up wearing makeup. My mom started selling Avon when I was a baby and she sold it until her death. She passed away 1 month before my 30th birthday and 3 months before her 30th anniversary with Avon. Sometimes I will blog about some makeup, like the Mark brand. Love their eye-shadows!



I just recently realized that I have never found a mascara that I am totally happy with. I have tried so many. For years I used an Avon brand because that's all I used. For a little while I used Mary Kay, but I went back to Avon. After a while I realized I was not happy with my mascara and I started using Maybelline Great Lash. I really liked it for a while but it wasn't exactly the perfect mascara. I just kept using it because I liked it better than Avon and Mary Kay.

At 43 I realized that I can not find a mascara that I really like. I've tried so many. Avon, Mary Kay, Maybelline Great Lash, Diorshow, CoverGirl Lashblast Fusion, Maybelline the Falsies and Maybelline Lash Stiletto.

In my search for a good mascara my niece with the natural 6 inch eyelashes recommended Diorshow and she even showed the proper way to apply mascara. But really! WHO has the time that it takes to saw mascara on your lashes and to pull them out? I want a mascara that is fast and easy to apply and looks at least 75% as good as it does on the model on TV. I don't expect to look exactly the same, but who makes a mascara that is fast and easy for a working mom of two to apply?

A friend of mine recently posted Maybelline's the Colossal Volum Express on Facebook. I don't even know if that's how you spell it. I said I would try it next. I think this will be fun. I'm going to start trying all of the different mascaras and I'm going to review them to tell you all what I think, at the POV of a busy working mother. I need an easy to apply no-fuss mascara. I will let you know what I discover.

(note: this is not a sponsored post)

Monday, September 02, 2013

A Blog About Beauty Products

One thing I never blog about but that I mention on Facebook & Twitter a lot is my love of make-up and I'm always in search of the perfect mascara. I have tried so many mascaras in just the past year.  I am going to post a blog about my search for the perfect mascara very soon.



I'm also going to blog about hairspray. I need a very specific type of hairspray and I really can't use just any hairspray. For years I used Paul Mitchell's Freeze and Shine and I thought it was the only one for me until I tried Big Sexy Hair. The other day I found some Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine and I tried it, after using Big Sexy Hair for a while. It wasn't the same any more. There will be a more detailed blog about that experience.

Yeah, I can blog about beauty too! Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just love make-up and hairspray!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

First Week of School, Structure Again & Blog Themes

Every year I can't wait for the school year to end so that I don't have to wake up so early every morning all stressed out in the rush to get the kids to school on time. I look forward to the summer break. But as I get into summer I start to long for the structure that the school year provides. I look forward to Fall and Winter!

(Photo borrowed from Manteca School District)

This year the summer flew by. It seemed like I always had something going on and I rushed forward to reach our family vacation to the East coast right before school started. We had a good time and we had some challenging times but I'm sure it will be a vacation we will remember for a long time. Next one is to the West Coast.

I came back to the "Back to School" rush, buying them their uniforms and school supplies and suddenly here we are. They started this past Monday. I woke up at 6:30 every morning for a week and this evening I finally crashed and burned. I fell asleep for about 2 hours.

I crashed because of the structure. Every day I stayed up all day and I worked. I had a couple of meetings and I worked on a project that I'm finishing up. I didn't come home and take naps like my friends may have thought. I'm not going to say I wasn't tempted, but I didn't do it. The results were that I got a lot of stuff done but my fuel ran out around 8 tonight.

Now here I am awake at 2 a.m. and I realized that I started this blog a few days ago and forgot about it. I'm kind of tired but I took a shower and my hair is still wet so I'm going to wait a little longer.

One of the cool things I did this week was to go hear Gwendolyn Zepeda read her poetry. She was awesome as always and extremely entertaining. Whenever I listen to people like her and like Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, I'm always struck by how funny they are and I wish I could be funny like that. But being funny isn't that easy. You either are or you aren't and sadly I'm not really. At least not like them.

And I've said this before. I'm not brave like them either, especially not brave like Jenny Lawson who will say ANYTHING and I do mean anything. I want to blog like that. But I don't. I blog like this because this is who I am and I can't blog like Loida Casares pretending to be Jenny Lawson. It just wouldn't work. All of you who know me would be all, "Why is she talking like that all of a sudden." Yeah, that's not good.

Here lately I've also been hearing about how a blog should have one theme. Like Julie & Julia's blog was all about cooking. Then there are crafters and sex writers. I don't have ONE solid theme. I'm all over the place, but I kind of like that because really, that's who I am. That's why at the top of this blog I list all the things I'm passionate about. I like to blog about all these different things.

But I still worry that I'm supposed to be blogging about one certain theme and that if I did I would have millions of followers. What do you all think? My lovely readers who never leave me any comments. I know y'all are out there even if you don't comment. My Google Analytics tells me you are. Unless you just all happen to come across my blog because of my awesome Nike quotes and then leave.

So if you can, drop me a comment and give me your opinion. Should I stick to one topic, like the kids, the challenges of HISD, the challenges of having a son with Asperger's, my daughter who has been part of the Vanguard program in HISD since Kindergarten. There are a lot of things I can talk about or I can just stick to an education theme. Decisions, decisions....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cleaning My Childhood Home


The summer didn’t go at all as planned. I quit my job and planned to relax the whole month of May until the children were out of school. First things first, I put myself out there and I let people know that I had quit my job and that I was going to start my own business. The calls and the requests for meetings poured in. I was flattered but also a little overwhelmed.
 
 
In June my father threw a big curveball at me when he decided to move in with me. I wasn’t prepared and I’m still not organized. He had been living with my sister since January after a serious illness at the end of December 2012.
He wasn’t getting along very well with my sister. He was only allowed to walk in the house and the back yard. So one day in June he decided to sneak out, jump the low end of the back fence, and he walked to the donut shop all alone. Not a good thing, but I think he had reached the end of his rope. He felt like he was confined to her house, which who are we kidding, he was. That was the beginning of a 2 day downward spiral that resulted in him calling me and asking me to go get him.

So that’s how at the end of June I found myself taking care of him.

He had only been here for a couple of weeks when in early July we received an unexpected request to rent his house. We were not prepared for this in the least.

My mom passed away in 2000 and at that time the sisters had all taken different knick knacks of my mom’s and my eldest sister’s that we cherished. My sister had passed away in 1995 and my mother had many of her things, including her jewelry.

Other than the jewelry and a few things, we didn’t really go through the house and we didn't give it a good cleaning. Except for that one time when my dad cleaned out the attic and he asked each of us to come by to review the boxes and to take what belonged to us. That’s when I found my Kindergarten workbook.
But to clean the house, really clean the house, room by room, to empty it out and to prepare it for someone else, wasn’t something we had done.

My father, being elderly and not really understanding how things work acted as if it were not a big deal. I knew better.

I went to his house for eight days straight cleaning 4-8 hours a day, depending on the day and what else I had going on. My sister came in for four of those 8 days to help. We hired a woman to help us one day with some heavy scrubbing and I took the kids to help me on another day to move out all the trash.

What my sister and I found in those days that we cleaned was incredible. My mother kept everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. We wondered if she had an obsession with graduation and wedding invitations because she had so many! She had invitations from weddings from the 1960s through the 1990s. She also had income tax returns from the 1960s. She had all of those organized by year very neatly, but she had them all.

My parents were Jehovah's Witnesses so they had Watchtowers from the 1940s and almost every convention program from the 1940s through the 1990s. My father had even added some from the 2000s in there for good measure.
Among the memories that she kept I also found very touching pieces as well. She had an envelope with cards that she received when I was born. She had an envelope with a decree from our then city mayor, Louis Welch declaring February 11 Loida Day. She had my original birth certificate signed by my doctor, Dr. Boone. She had a folder with all of my report cards, first grade through fifth grade and some other grades in middle school and high school. The folder was also filled with every certificate and award I ever received.  I felt nostalgic and I missed her so much when I saw these things.

There were some items that we found that meant more to my sister, because they reminded her of things that happened before I was born and before I even existed.

My sister found a letter to my sisters that apparently my mother had written from the Valley. My sister was too young when the letter was written and she can’t remember why my mother had traveled. She said it was around the time she had lost our brother who was born premature. I wondered if she had needed an escape and had gone down there for a little while to get better. It was written when my sisters were young and a couple of years before I was born.

The letter is such a telling tale of how well my mother knew my sisters. She gives each one of them advice on how to act while she was gone and as she addresses each one she points out their challenging personality traits. For example she tells my sister, who was the youngest at the time, “don’t be jumping around like a monkey and don’t hurt yourself like you often do.” My sister cracked up laughing when she read it.
There were also many things that I knew and that I remembered more than my sister because I lived with my parents the longest. For example, when my mother died I wanted a couple of pieces of jewelry that she bought when I was with her. I remembered how she debated between the cocktail diamond ring and a sofa at the jewelry counter at Montgomery Wards. I went with her on her shopping quest for a blue aquamarine ring in Mexico. I’m happy to say I have both of those pieces.

This time as we cleaned we came across my mother’s molcajete. I told my sister I wanted it even though I knew it was actually her second molcajete and not the original one I had grown up seeing her use. I remember the day that she finally bore a hole of the bottom of the old one and how she complained about the time it would take to wear this new one down smooth enough to use.
It was a melancholy feeling as well as a victorious feeling when I finished cleaning the house on the last day that our new tenant prepared to move in. I looked around at all the empty rooms that held so many memories for me.

When my mom died my then husband and I agreed to move in with my dad for a while, until he became accustomed to the idea of living alone. They had been married for 52 years at the time of my mom's death.  We lived there for almost two years with him and my daughter was born during that time. She spent the first few months of her life in those rooms and I nursed her in the old blue chair we were throwing out.
Since I moved out eleven years ago the house didn’t remind me of my mother any more. My father had collected junk in the front room, that had been my bedroom when I was a little girl and later a dining room when my mother was still alive.

Now that the house was clean it brought back so many memories of my mother. As I cleaned each room it reminded me more and more of the feeling in those rooms when she was alive. I knew that she would have been very happy to know that we were helping my dad and I think she would have been happy that we were renting the house to our front door neighbor's daughter. She always like them a lot.  

Before she died my mother made me promise that I would take care of my dad. No doubt she knew what a challenge that would be and she had a feeling he would live a long life, unlike her.  I know I’m not the perfect daughter, but I’m doing my best, and I think my mom would be happy knowing that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Survived Seven Days with Two Children Under the Age of Thirteen

I'm back! And yes, I actually survived. We had a fabulous time and I only had two break-downs where I wanted to beat the kids, but didn't of course, because..... because I would never do that.

Me and Lincoln (with a little green paint) Photo by Seth

We flew into Washington DC and stayed there 3 nights and we had 2 full days of sightseeing. We arrived on Friday evening so we just walked around our great hotel near Chinatown. There was a beautiful Chinese arch down H Street. We got the lay of the land and saw a restaurant we wanted to go back to the next day.

On Saturday we saw several of the sights on the Mall. We saw the Washington Monument surrounded by scaffolding because it's being renovated. From there we walked on to the Lincoln Memorial, passing the WW2 memorial along the way. After the Lincoln Memorial we saw the Vietnam Memorial and then the memorial to the signers of the Declaration of Independence on our way to see the White House. From there we took a cab over to the Capitol building (yes we actually did that because we were really tired) and we looked at the Capitol, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court building. Amazing architecture all built in the Neoclassical style.

The second day in DC we spent most of the day at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. We also went to Georgetown because I really wanted to see the town and the University but we were attacked my a mosquitoes while we were on campus so we left and went back to Chinatown for dinner.

We woke up on Monday to prepare for our first train ride together. I love trains and the kids had never been on a train. So off we went to Philadelphia on the train. Of course the DC Union train station is also beautiful. The architectural style is Classical, Beaux-Arts. It has HUGE columns in the front and an impressive main hall.

The train ride was nice and the kids had a great time on their electronics so the time passed quickly. Soon we were in Philadelphia. We left our luggage in the baggage check area of the train station and we went out on our excursions to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the first City Hall, and the City Tavern. We saw other old buildings and sites along the way.

Before we knew it it was time to get back to the train station and our trip into NYC. We arrived into Penn Station before it was dark and Seth's reaction was priceless. He came out of the station, looked around and said, "It's so beautiful and so ghetto at the same time!" What an awesome description of New York!

That night, after we checked into our tiny room and they adjusted to the change from our big spacious room from DC, we were off to ride the subway and to see Times Square at night. They were in awe of all the electronic billboards, the huge Toys R Us and the Hard Rock Café where we had dinner. It was a great first night.

On our first full day in New York we went to the 9/11 Memorial, the Upper West Side, Zabar's and Central Park. I had never walked the part of park that we walked and Seth loved the big rocks that he got to climb along the way. When we got to a big lake, which is the second largest lake in Central Park, the kids saw people boating and wanted to find the source of the boats. We followed a path all along the lake until we arrived at the Loeb Boathouse. (The boat house from 27 Dresses) There we rented a boat and I let the kids paddle me around, against my better judgment, as I kept saying.

From there we went on to American Girl where we bought Haley (Miranda's American Just Like Me Doll) an outfit and as we walked to find the Metro entrance we ran into Rockefeller Center, which the kids recognized from of course, 30 Rock. That was the end of Day 1 in NYC because we had to get to bed early to wake up super early to go see Lady Liberty.

We actually woke up in time, were able to get the kids breakfast, and we were boarding the ferry to Liberty Island at 8 a.m. This visit, unlike my last visit, the pedestal and crown were open but I was only able to get tickets into the pedestal. We actually took all 195 steps up to the pedestal and we were able to see the lady and the view of New York. I must admit it was pretty cool. We were able to visit the small museum inside of the pedestal and learn all the history about how she was built and the history of the pedestal and torch.

We were barely able to squeeze in a walk through Battery Park, and then a quick visit to the Empire State building before meeting a friend and media colleague of mine for lunch at a cute Korean restaurant where unfortunately Miranda lost her pink DSI. Because from there we took a taxi to Rockefeller Center to see the Lego store. Seth had seen the store from across the plaza the day before and we promised to go back on Wednesday.

After a short rest in the hotel room we went back out to look at the Brooklyn Bridge before it got dark. The kids enjoyed the view of New York and Brooklyn from the first arch of the bridge for a while. From there we walked to Little Italy for a great pizza at Lombardi's.

By Thursday morning we were ready to go home. We started our trek out to Newark, NJ and our long journey home. We ended up getting stuck in Dallas and we weren't able to actually fly home from Dallas until Friday morning. (I feel like I'm barely recuperated on Sunday!)

It was a great trip. Yes, I had my moments when I thought I was going to lose it, but all in all I held it together pretty well and I made it. I hope that the kids had a great time and that they enjoyed the experience.

I didn't go with any big expectations. I didn't expect them to want to look at every detail, but I wanted for them to see the main highlights of each of these cities and I wanted for them to have a history lesson about the United States. So that when they study these places and this history in school they will be able to say, "I've been there, I remember that story." I think they will.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vacation and Blogging Conference


It's been a while since I went a whole month without blogging but this was one of those times. My dad moved in with me on June 25. The summer has flown by! I've been working part-time at my new business, part-time with my kids and having my dad here. The summer didn't go exactly as planned but I'm grateful for the time I've had and the fact that I've been able to take this time off.
 
Photos of Washington DC courtesy of Creative Commons
 
I'm even more excited to be leaving on our first real family vacation since the kids are now older and that it will be easier to travel. I also feel like they are at an age when they will appreciate what they see. So Friday morning we leave to Washington DC. It will be my first trip to our nation's capital so I'm pretty excited. We'll spend two days in DC and then we'll take the train to Philadelphia for the day to see the Liberty Bell. From Philly we'll get back on the train and we'll go to New York for two days.  The kids are excited for more reasons than one.
My original plan was to take the summer off and to not work but life hasn't actually worked out that way. It's been a challenge and it's taken a lot of juggling but I've been busy working with a great group of women who are bringing a blogging conference to Houston to City Centre.
So if you work for a company or you know of a company who would love to reach out to bloggers or they would like to hand-pick 20 bloggers to join them at their dinner table for a conversation about their brand call me!
I'm representing Blog Elevated, a blogging conference being held in Houston September,  19-21. This is the first time I rep a conference or event so it has been a definite learning experience for me. I hope that it's the first of many more.
So yes, it has been a very short and busy summer thus far.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

My Sex Education Through Literature

I've written many times about how much we read in my home, about my parents, censorship and how I'm glad my parents didn't censor our reading. I've also written about teaching my kids about the Birds and the Bees and trying to be open and frank with them about all things.

(Image from Time Magazine November 24, 1986)

All of this reminded me of how, besides having older sisters and listening to them talk, books were my early sex education. Sure, I heard a lot from my sisters being the youngest. The eldest was already an OBGYN nurse by the time I was four. But there were also the magazines and the books.

First there were the early porn magazines that they didn't hide from me. Some of them have conveniently forgotten about that now that they are old and conservative. One sister had something that I would guess was a graphic novel that I would hide and look at with childhood curiosity when I was around 4. As I got older I saw Playgirl, Playboy and Hustler magazines at their various apartments.

Of course porn didn't teach me anything about sex itself, only who the players were and what human bodies looked like.

It was the reading that taught me more, about the actions and the feelings involved. When I was younger my mom didn't mind me reading Victoria Holt novels. They were romantic but they never discussed sex in detail.. However when she saw me reading The Thorn Birds, when I was around ten, she raised her eyebrows. She had already read it by the time it made its way to me and she knew there were some sex scenes in it. I don't know if she just decided that I already knew about sex, or if she just figured it was part of growing up, but she didn't forbid me from reading the book. Of course I would have probably found a way to read it anyway.

In middle school I was introduced to Judy Blume, the author who introduced millions of girls to their sexuality. Her books were frank and truthful and I know many women feel this way about her. So much so that authors have written about the impact she had on their lives.  I bought a great book a couple of years ago, All I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. What a great tribute to her as an author!

I think I read Forever when I was in 8th grade, right around the same time I read Wifey, Judy Blume's adult novel and Dean Koontz's Whispers. I remember we passed Wifey and Whispers around with dog eared pages for easy access to the sex scenes.

I'm sure what I read was tame compared to what else was out there. It's not like I was reading Henry Miller. I was reading the books my sisters read and the books passed around by fellow middle school girls.

My parents wanted to sit down to have "the talk" with me when I was around 11 and I remember telling them that I pretty much knew everything already from my sisters. I remember the look of relief on their faces. I wonder what they would have said if they had known how I had learned most of what I knew.

Maybe they wouldn't have been as liberal about letting me read whatever I wanted or they would have told my sisters to watch what they said in front of me or what they showed me.

Either way, they didn't and I did and I don't think it scarred me in any way. If anything I think I had a healthy, realistic point of view about what sex was and wasn't. I wasn't curious or tempted to try it, the way I wasn't tempted to try drugs. I think sometimes that everyone's open attitude about sex and nudity in my home didn't make it so taboo or mysterious. Kind of like how you hear about Europeans drinking at an early age because it was the norm and not going crazy when they turn 21 or go to college like American kids.

Reading may have shaped my attitude about future relationships and maybe even my personality. Whether it was right or wrong or too much information too soon, it was what I experienced and now as an adult I appreciate that and I embrace that it made me who I am. There is no shame in that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate - That is the Question

In our day and age the question to vaccinate our children is not even a question, unless you are in a very small minority that believes that vaccinations cause Autism. For the most part parents don't believe that. They believe that NOT vaccinating their children is putting them at risk of contracting a disease, like whooping cough or polio. So why don't parents feel the same way about vaccinating their children against HPV, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women and oral and throat cancer in men.

(Image borrowed from Think Progress)
 
 
My daughter turned 12 in March and I knew when she was a baby that I would have her vaccinated for HPV. It was never a question about whether or not I expected her to be sexually active at 12 (which she is not) but a question of whether or not I wanted to protect her from cervical cancer when she was older.
 
When I was in my early twenties one of my best friends was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix. I had barely started seeing an OBYN in college (once) and didn't start seeing my regular OBGYN (who is still my doctor 20 years later) until I was 23. In fact, my friend and I were seeing the same doctor when she was diagnosed. What impressed me about the whole experience was how quickly our doctor acted and how he did not even play around with that diagnosis. First he froze the first layer of cells and when that didn't work he went in and cut away the next layer.
 
After seeing how committed he was to taking action and helping my friend I was forever in debt to my doctor. I don't think he even knows that. Another thing that happened was that I became forever mindful of having my yearly well-woman check-up. I do not play around with that either. My best friend went in for her yearly and ONLY one year later she showed signs of pre-cancerous cells. THAT'S how fast that can show up.
 
Now I'm the mother of a daughter and in the years since I was a young woman technology has developed and now we have vaccines to protect our young girls from cervical cancer. Having had the experience years ago with my best friend there was no question in my mind if I would have my daughter vaccinated. So a few months ago after her 12th birthday I took her to see her pediatrician and my PCP and she gave her the first dose.

I feel good about my decision and today I read an article in the New York Times that says that the "HPV Vaccine Is Credited in Fall of Teenagers’ Infection Rate." That is good news! And all this despite the fact that the U.S. lags sadly behind other countries like Denmark, Great Britain and even Rwanda.
 
Now the question is, do I also vaccinate my son in a few years? Some people are giving Michael Douglas a hard time for saying that in some cases the type of oral cancer that he has is caused by HPV. There's been a lot of controversy around his comments but the truth remains that what he said is true and it's not a bad thing. It's a good thing that a celebrity like him is bringing attention to such an important and not so familiar issue.
 
I read an article just a couple of years ago via Livestrong.com and a men's health magazine that discussed in detail how HPV was a leading cause in mouth and throat cancer in men. There were experiences by men who talked honestly about how they would have never imagined when they were young that oral sex could lead to an HPV infection that could later lead to cancer. That was the first time that I became aware of this type of cancer in men and yes I thought about my son.
 
What I can't understand is why there is such a moral stigma attached to vaccinating our kids when they are kids. Vaccinating my daughter against chicken pox doesn't mean that I think she's going to go to a chicken pox slumber party. Vaccinating her against CERVICAL CANCER doesn't mean that I'm going to send her off to some experience where she may become exposed to HPV.
 
What it means is that I know that one day, when they are adults hopefully, my kids will be sexually active. I hope that when they are they are responsible, but the truth is, like driving, I don't know who else is out there. I want to protect them the best way that I know possible and yes vaccinations are one of the ways that I can do this.
 
I plan on talking to my OGBYN about his opinion on having my son vaccinated too when he turns twelve.
 
 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

MECA Made a Difference in Poet Laureate's Life

The very first time I heard Gwendolyn Zepeda read was at MECA Houston (Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts) in Houston's old Sixth Ward. She was wearing a wonderfully tacky gown at her "Quinceañera I was Too Poor to Have" event where she read some of her essays about her experiences growing up in that same neighborhood. It was amazing and I fell in love with her as a writer.

Photo courtesy of Gwendolyn Zepeda and Photo by Lawrence P. Lander

Gwendolyn Zepeda was announced as Houston's first Poet Laureate by Mayor Annise Parker in April of this year. She will serve a two year term 2013-2015. She is a published author of chap books, novels, and children's books, including Houston, We Have a Problema, Lonestar, Better with You Here, Growing up with Tamales, Sunflowers, and I Kick the Ball.

One of the coolest things about Gwendolyn Zepeda is that she's a Houstonian and grew up attending MECA and she believes this shaped who she is today.

"I was there *all the time*, after school and throughout each summer, and there were so many experiences that affected all aspects of my life -- artistic, academic, and social," she said.

When I asked her about her greatest experience at MECA Gwen said that the important experiences she had were really "cumulative," and she goes on to list some specifics.

"MECA partnered with Discover Dance to provide ballet classes for several years, and those classes fixed my knocked knees and bad posture, and improved my confidence for the rest of my life."

One specific experience that she remembers fondly was the time they went to Baybrook Mall when she was around 16 and performed songs from Leader of the Pack as part of a summer show. She said, "afterwards a little girl of about 9 came up to me and told me that she wanted to be like me when I got older."

She goes on to say, "Doing the performances taught me public speaking and improvisational skills. The dance and voice classes that prepared me for the performances taught me discipline and the value of constant growth. Watching our teachers and program directors taught me project management skills. Alice Valdez and her employees and her donors put together events that I never would've imagined could happen in our neighborhood."

It's experiences like this that are great examples of how great MECA's work is in the Houston community and why Houstonians should support this great organization. Funding for this organization will help pay for these great programs that make a difference in a young child's life.

 It's no wonder they were one of the five organizations chosen by P&G's Orgullosa Project. Facebook followers can vote for one of the organizations and Orgullosa will donate to these organizations based on their ranking in the votes. So far MECA is in third place and it needs our votes to move up in the ranking. If you haven't seen their Facbook page go "Like It" and then vote for MECA Houston.

Disclaimer: I am a compensated endorser for the P&G Orgullosa Project.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

I Deserve a Vacation Too

It is no secret that since I stopped working at the Chronicle I haven't really stopped working. This week I signed three agreements to start working with the P & G Orgullosa Project for MECA Houston, Blog Elevated, and a Spanish magazine. I also sent a proposal to another magazine. Yes, I'm excited! But I haven't had much of a vacation.

Image borrowed from 7 Geese

Sure, I've had the flexibility and that's been great. I can go have lunch with my dad in the middle of the day any time. I can pick up my son from school and my daughter from the bus stop without many issues. But really time off, no, not really. Every morning I wake up at 6:40, take the kids to school and I come home and stay up all day. Although I did sleep one day when I was feeling sick. One day out of five weeks.

So today after making a few calls I am officially on vacation for the next 3.5 days!! I'm off to my refuge with the children. Although my niece Hannah says it's not really a refuge because I don't work a 9-5 job. She said it's more of a refuge from a refuge which is similar to a date after a date. Terms she's made up but I get what she's saying. It would seem that way to most people.

They're probably asking, "How can she be taking a vacation when she doesn't even work?" Well, my kids haven't had a vacation. They've been going to school every day, so this is really a vacation for them. It's the celebration of school being out for summer.

Today is the kids' last day of school. I'm picking them both up at their schools, taking them for a treat and then buying Seth and I sandals for the beach.

Tonight I'm packing us for our mini-vacation and tomorrow we are off to start our adventure. I'll be sitting on the beach with a cocktail in my hand. Most likely a cranberry vodka kind of cocktail.  Casares Communications will be closed until Monday. Catch y'all when I get back!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Help Support MECA and the Orgullosa Project

Nestled in Houston's Historic Sixth Ward MECA- Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts has been providing "alternative arts activities" to children for over 35 years in the 100 year old Dow School. This organization is so rich in history with the Houston community.

Image courtesy of MECA

MECA's mission is to be "a community-based nonprofit organization committed to the healthy development of under-served youth and adults through arts and cultural programming, academic excellence, support services and community building."

MECA provides after school activities for school age children and they also have a very active summer program.

Some of the classes MECA offers are the following for the summer arts program:

• Ballet Folklórico
• Guitar
• Visual Arts
• Life Skills
• Percussion
• African Drum and Dance
• Choir
• Mosaic Art
• Photography
• B.E.A.T.S. - Bringing Electronic Arts to Students
• Robotics, Electronics and Music


P&G (Procter & Gamble) has recognized the positive influence that MECA makes to the community by choosing them as one of the organizations that they will support. They have introduced their "Orgullosa Project to offer the community the opportunity to give back." MECA was one of five organizations chosen and now the community can go to the Orgullosa Facebook page to vote for them. The organizations will receive funding from P&G based on the number of votes that they receive from us.

You can follow MECA on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about the services they provide and don't forget to vote!

Disclaimer: I am a compensated endorser for the P&G Orgullosa Project.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Restoring My House in the City

One of my biggest worries now that I am busy with my new business opportunities is that I won't do what I set out to do initially. When I said that I was going to take the summer off I said that I was going to stay home for the summer with the kids, I was going to remodel the house, and that I was going to write. I have done none of these in the 3.5 weeks that I have been off.


The two things that are the most important to me are writing my novel and restoring my house before it continues to devalue. It is SO embarrassing and sad that I have been talking about renovating this house for 10 years and that I still haven't done it! I went back and found this old blog post and I was shocked when I realized that I had the plumbing re-done TWO years ago! Two years! That is how long it has taken me to finally take up this project again.

I have decided that this is just a soft launch for Casares Communications. I am only going to take on a few projects this summer and I will go full time when school starts. I have to also remind myself that it's just me right now, one person, and I shouldn't bite off more than I can chew.

In the meanwhile I have subscribed to House Beautiful. Anybody who knows me knows that this is so not me! However, I do love old houses and old buildings and that is what intrigues me. I love living in the city and I love living in an old house like this one that was built in 1940. Old houses have so much more character!

I've owned this book Restoring a House in the City for the last couple of years and I love some of the decor ideas in this book. And of course there are all my Pinterest boards, like this one for Mexican kitchens or this one for living room ideas. Yeah, I do have some domestic bones in my body after all!

So here we go again! First things first, the roof. Then replace the wood around the outside of the house as well as replacing the small overhang at the front door. After the roof and the wood, I need to fix walls in my house, then paint, and then on to refinishing all my hardwood floors. Then there are the upstairs attic rooms that are in desperate need of a complete overhaul so I can use them. One will be Miranda's room and the other is an office/family space. That is the last of the big projects, along with fixing my narrow staircase to get upstairs. I need to do something about that as well.

So yes it will take time to do all of this but when I am finally finished I will feel like I have accomplished a very big goal and I will.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Because "Life is What Happens..."

Around 26 years ago I was a seventeen year old girl on a flight to Los Angeles with my parents. We had to connect in Dallas to get to LAX and we were flying non-rev on my sister's tickets. They couldn't seat us all together on that leg of the flight so my parents sent me off to sit by myself and I sat next to a young business man on the very last row.

Image borrowed from Jacob Morgan

I don't remember how we struck up a conversation but we talked the entire flight. We talked and we laughed until someone on one of the rows in front of us shushed us, which of course made us giggle even more. He was the perfect flight companion and you're probably wondering if he asked me for my number or if we ever saw one another again. The problem was I was 17 and he was probably around 27 or 30 and no, he was never inappropriate in any way. And yes he was very handsome.

I was telling my sisters and my dad this story last weekend and there was a funny part to the story that I don't remember that often. We talked about me speaking, reading and writing Spanish fluently and also that I was studying it in school. I was taking Spanish IV my senior year. He asked me if I could translate a business brochure for him. It was just a small 8.5 x 11 tri-fold about some optical equipment. I can't remember if he gave it to me then or if he mailed it to me, but the point is that I did. I translated it for him and then had my Spanish teacher proof it for me. In the age before fax machines and email I put it in the mail and sent it back to him. He then mailed me a check for $50 or $100. I can't remember the exact amount.

The funny part of this story is what I was doing at such a young age. I was selling my services while striking up a rapport with this guy. I wish I could remember his name just to send him a note saying hello. All I remember is that he had something to do with the optical business and that he lived in Arlington, TX. I should have known then that I had a future in sales. "Life is what happens," and apparently it's what's been happening since I was 17.

This was just the first step in many other interesting twists and turns that my life would take. From choosing Waltrip High School IB instead of HSPVA for creative writing when I was in 8th grade, to taking 3 more years of Spanish in high school and one year of French. Later switching from wanting to be a journalist to selling advertising when I was a freshman in college, to presenting the new product we were selling called La Voz the year I was an intern at the Chronicle, on to my many many experiences that have led up to who I am now. Every decision I made added more to my experience.

The past two weeks have been extremely interesting and full of serendipity. I never imagined that all I had to do was say that I was open for business and that this many people would reach out to me. I realize it's still early in the game, and not all the calls will turn into business, but it's nice to know that the possibility is there.

I have a feeling that when I'm ready to give Casares Communications my 100% I will be successful. I've spent the last twenty years selling someone else's product and I know that if I can sell them I can sell me, the product I know and trust the most.

For now I'm sticking to my plan to stay free this summer. I'm taking only a few select projects so I can have the time to spend with my kids, my dad and my house. But come August I will be in business full time so watch out!