Saturday, September 29, 2007

Latino Book & Family Festival ROCKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Looking Forward to the Weekend

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

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

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

Monday, September 24, 2007

You are Invited

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Recent Discovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cracked up but I realized that it was true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 14, 2007

New York, Here We Come!

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

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

7th Grade Projects & Other Musings on Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hidden Downtown Houston Treasures

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

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

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

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

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

My Kids

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

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

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

We crack up. He's something else.

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

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

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Houston Latino Book & Family Festival

The fifth annual Edward James Olmos Houston Latino Book and Family Festival is coming to town! It will be held at the George R. Brown Convention center on September 29 & 30. La Voz & La Vibra (publications of the Houston Chronicle) are the presenting sponsors. I'm also planning some type of special section to promote the fair. I'm still in the planning phases of that so I can't say anything yet.

However, if you live in Houston you need to make it a point to be at the fair on the 29th and 30th. It's FREE and it's all day. There will be a great line up of authors there and activities for the kids. I'll be saying more about it later.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I've been asked to read the poem below at at the 5 year anniversary party of the Houston Institute for Culture. It will be on September 29 in the evening. More details to come when I know more. If you remember, they are the organization that hosted my last reading and published my short stories online. Check them out if you don't know anything about them. They do so many great things for the Hispanic community!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Poem for Today

Very first draft and still needs work. Tell me what you think...

The Storyteller
By: Loida Casares Ruiz

He weaves his stories
That dad of mine
He weaves them like the ribbons
On a basket
In and out each ribbon goes
As I sit and listen to those tales
He weaves a story of his childhood
Of the Great Depression
Of a little boy who wore no shoes to school
But shined shoes for others
And bought ice cream and a bike
“Instead of shoes?” I wonder
He weaves stories about
The injustices his people faced
Of the Texas Rangers
And picking cotton in West Texas
Of signs that read
“No dogs or Mexicans allowed.”
Outside of diners
Leaving an impression
On a young boy
He tells of rides in trucks
To the pisca
About a man with a big twirling moustache
Of his brother making fun of the man behind his back
While he shook with the laughter building inside
Trying to suppress the chuckles
While their father glared at them
Promising a thrashing with his eyes
He weaves a story
That storyteller of mine
Stories that he told me as a child
Stories that he told me of my history
Stories that he told me of his past
Some are funny.
Some are sad…
Some I’d rather not know…
But he’s a storyteller and that’s what he does.

Monday, September 03, 2007

First Female Beefeater

I thought this was a really cool story on Yahoo today, "First Female Beefeater."

Fall Has Arrived to Houston

Yes, it is. Just look at your thermostat outside. It's in the 80s! Just like that from one week of being in the 100s, the temperature took a turn the week that school started and it cooled down to the 80s. Fall is absolutely my favorite season.

This year I'm going back to my old high school to watch my nephew play football for my alma mater. I'm going to sing the school song along with the young kids and I'm taking my kids and we'll eat hot dogs and popcorn as we cheer my nephew on.

That's what Fall is all about! I'm not a big football fan but I do love the way football reminds me of Fall. I love the feeling of the weather changing. I can't wait for the cool mornings and cool evenings, even if our days are never really cool.

This Fall I'm going to NYC again! I'm going to be there October 31-November 4 for work and pleasure. I can't wait!! I'm going to revisit those old places from my old blog entry that Sarah Jessica recommends.

1. Museum of Modern Art - it was closed 2 visits ago for remodeling and Rey and I just didn't have time to go there last time. We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead.

2. Prime Burger Restaurant and Coffee Shop

3. Chinatown- Shanghai Gardens Restaurant

4. Pearl River Mart- She showed the inside and it is full full full of bargains and where I'll buy all my presents to take home.

Some other cool places to visit in NYC are the places in You've Got Mail. You can see a map of all the places from the movie on this site.

This visit I'm going to try to visit some new places. One of the places I absolutely want to visit is the restored Stanley Theatre in Jersey City.

Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón

One more thing from Sindy Funk's blog. Ladrón que roba a ladrón. What a cool idea! Make a movie in Hollywood with an all Latino cast of Telenovela actors. I just wish they'd done a better of marketing this movie. I think it is so ingenious! All of these actors are famous in not only their home countries, but also in other Latin American/Hispanic countries.

Even third generation Hispanic Americans watch the Spanish telenovelas. My mother watched them and she was Spanish dominant, first generation American, and my in-laws watch novelas and they are something like 8th generation Americans/Texans. My sister, who was in the Navy and stationed in Italy a couple of tours, says that the Italians watch the telenovelas, dubbed in Italian of course.

I think the story line sounds hilarious. I hope that the movie does well and that people don't get all caught up in finding it insulting to Hispanic, etc.. It's just an Ocean's Eleven kind of story line with Latinos. Check out the trailer on U Tube- Ladrón que roba ladrón.

Check out this review.

Maná Concert in Houston Was Awesome

Rey and I went to the Maná concert on Saturday. It was such an incredible show. I've been a fan of Maná's music for close to 15 years but unbelievably I had never seen them in concert. I am so glad that I went Saturday night. The show was so good! The lead singer, Fernando Olvera is so cool with such an amazing voice. The drummer Alex Gonzalez did a 1o minute drum solo.

Check out what Sindy Funk from La Voz & La Vibra (the Chronicle) had to say about it prior to the show. Check out her links to some of my favorite Maná songs/videos on U Tube. If you're not familiar with their music you have to listen to these lyrics. They are haunting! Watch and listen to the Ojalá pudiera borrarte video.

The band was here for two shows, both Saturday and Sunday and they were sold out both days. At one point the editor of our Spanish papers and I were looking out at the crowd and all the energy that they were exuding and she said she wished that others could see this. I told her, "These are our readers. This is who we want to reach." She nodded in agreement.

It was so cool to see all the different Hispanics that were there that night. Yes, I'm sure the majority of the people there were of Mexican descent but there were such a mixture of different levels of acculturation. There was me, a fifth generation Texan, my second cousin who I bumped into, who's a six generation, first generation Mexican-Americans, and everything in between. Maná appeals to that many people.