Remembering Mom

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The call came on a chilly, January morning in 2008 at 8:30 am eastern time. I glanced at the time as Jon handed me the phone, telling me that it was my older brother, Brett. A bit of panic struck me as I noted the time difference. Usually no good calls come at 5:30 am from the West coast. As soon as I heard my brother's voice, I knew what he was calling about and he didn't have to say much more. My mom had died during the night. My mind was numb and I really didn't want to hear much more. I have missed her more than anyone would know.

Today my mother, Carolina, would have been 71. So I thought it appropriate to write a little about her and remember her on this day.
She was a true 50's girl with the cute skirts, saddle shoes, knowing all of the cool dances. She worked at a malt shop and liked to go to concerts. She had a great singing voice, was a straight A student and wanted to be a doctor.

She met my dad, they married and started a family a year later. Soon they had 3 children under 3 years of age. She carted them everywhere with her as she didn't believe in babysitters. Because I came 5 years after my siblings, I had a lot of time alone with my mom. As a teen-ager, I would often fore go a night out with my friends for a night out with her. She was more fun.

There wasn't anything she could not do or make. I always thought she could show Martha a thing or two. She was a collector of many things and took me to antique shops and all sorts ot interesting places meeting interesting people. My life is enriched from all that she taught me culturally. You could call her anytime and ask for the most obscure item, and she'd say "Oh, I've got that!" and then tell you why it's good to never throw anything away, and sure enough, she'd have what you were searching for.

Like many women of her generation, she put her personal dreams on hold to become a wife and mother. In so doing, her dreams became her children, dreams made even sweeter by the blessings of grandchildren. Boy did she love and spoil those grandkids! Why are parents always easier on the grandkids?? We would tease her about that.

She and I spoke the night before she died about a new venture we were starting. She was always encouraging me to use my creative talents. I was at work while we chatted over the phone and I was getting paged over and over. I had to go so we set a time to call the next day. That was the last conversation. I can't remember if I told her I loved her before we hung up and it bothers me to this day. She loved us. She loved the Gospel and was a resilient lady - life threw her some serious curve balls but she was strong and never intimidated.

Even though I know that through Heavenly Father's plan, I will see her again someday, I still miss her now. But because of that plan, I will have the opportunity to finish our conversation,
Thank heaven. Literally.

After we spoke last and I hung up the phone, I turned smiling to a co-worker and said, "That was my mama." I felt proud and happy. I am still happy she is my mom.
If you haven't done so today, call your mom or someone you love and remind them - you love them.
Don't waste time! Go, now - do it.
Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 26, 2008

(My vintage ornaments displayed in an apothecary jar, don't you just love the little snowman?!)

Although it took me a bit longer to get into the spirit this year, we did have a nice Christmas. Here are a few highlights...

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed being with the kids and watching movies. We snacked on finger foods, worked on a 1000 piece jig saw puzzle and tracked Santa on NORAD. Charley made Santa a version of chocolate bark...chocolate chips melted in butter poured over a layer of saltines. She learned this at a Stake Activity Day workshop which she attended with her dad. I was a little worried about Santa's arteries so I made sure fresh pears were set out as well. The kids were very excited for the morning to come but too excited to sleep. They finally went to bed when Santa entered Canada knowing it wouldn't take him too long to reach the U.S. (they know their Geography!)

By the time I was done with tidying up the house and wrapping some presents, it was 3:30 am. and Trae was ready for a midnight snack. So I ended up going to bed at 4:30. Luckily, the other kids slept in until 8!
Our favorite gifts:

Belen - ceramic flat iron

Charley - a pepto bismol pink electric guitar

Reese - a blue DS

Blair - Hannah Montana doll
Trae - ripping off the wrapping paper to chew
(no, he is not our puppy!)

Jon and me - 4 consecutive days off of work

The early afternoon was spent preparing side dishes to take to a friends house. (thanks, guys!)They invited our family and three other families to join them for a nice ham dinner. None of us have family in the area so it was nice to be thought of and it was fun to talk, laugh and enjoy the associations of these friends. At the end of the evening, the story of Christ's birth was read and we joined in singing carols.

All in all another great Christmas!

Keeping it Real

Monday, December 22, 2008

Upon receiving our Christmas card (finally getting them out this year!) you will see 5 angelic looking children in the picture I've enclosed.

However, getting them to that point was a task!

Behind the scenes...
One was tired, one was goofy, one looked like he was wondering what he did to deserve being born into this family, one could not stop laughing and the other was everybody rolled into one. Jon was behind me firmly instructing them to sit, behave, look happy and move the folded laundry that someone didn't take to their room, out of the picture.( at least it was folded!) And I know there was some sort of mocking going on because they were looking past me, laughing at Jon me!

I actually like this photo better than the one I sent.

The Traditional gift is crystal and the Modern is a watch

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today is my 15Th wedding anniversary. (uh, we married at 16???)
I was going to try to get the appropriate gift for 15 years for Jon but we don't usually exchange gifts since Christmas is just around the corner. We're okay with no gifts. And he brings me flowers, which I love!
And a few things came up today, like a last minute trip to the doc and a child who needed us, so we didn't have any big anniversary plans.
We took two of the kids with us to look for new lighting. We are doing some light remodeling on the house and the whole place needs light fixtures. Modern ones. Not 70's builder grade specials. I am sitting here looking into the dining room thinking that Jon's choice of a double drum shade pendant light would not have been too large for the space after all.
Hmmm...we may need to make another trip.

Anyway, while in the car, we talked about high school and our favorite memories of each other. His was coming to my house to watch Friday Night Videos and mine was playing basketball with him at Dorothy Fox Elementary school. We also thought walking to each others house on a snow day was fun. He lived on top of Prune Hill and I lived in its valley. I guess you could say I'm a valley girl.

Jon and I always sing songs together, usually just to bug the kids-cause it's fun. He was trying to remember if George Michael sang the song, "Last Christmas I gave you my heart, the very next day..." and then we started singing it. We laughed and decided that there is no one else we could have done this with - sing goofy songs in their entirety and not be embarrassed that we know them. One reason we were made for each other.
I think our marriage is fun and 15 years have flown. I know the key for us is that we genuinely enjoy each other's company. He is my friend and my first choice to hang out with. I really like him. We always say our dream jobs would involve working with each other from home somehow. I like the fact that we get along. That doesn't mean we don't disagree. There are just some things we agree to disagree on and that's okay.
I know our kids notice. They've commented when going to people's houses and hearing and seeing the parents bark at each other. Some people may say that it's healthy to fight. I disagree. Some one is bound to have hurt feelings and I don't like the thought of doing that to my hubby.
He truly is my best friend and I still smile to myself when I think of him throughout my day.
My mom's advice when I was dating: marry a man that likes to dance and who will go to the mall with you.
We still like to dance (now it's a party with the 7 of us!) and lucky for him, I'm not a huge mall-goer!

A sampling of daily conversations with Blair

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday, Dec. 7
Jon: "Blair, are you wearing eye make-up?"
Blair: "No, I am not wearing eye make-up.
I am wearing lip stick on my eyes."
Monday, Dec. 8 at Charley's recital
Blair: "Is this the school that sissys go to?" (meaning her sisters)
Me: "Yes."
Blair: "Can I go here?"
Me: "Yes, when you're a big girl"
Blair: "Ooh, when I'm a big girl, like 8?"
Me: "Like when you're 11."
Blair: "Ooh, I'm gonna so go school heeere."
Blair: (As lights are being dimmed for the recital)
"This is a cool school, momma. Do we have eggs?"

Tuesday, Dec. 9

While waiting in the car rider line for the girls to get out of school, 2 boys walk by the car.
Blair: "Momma, those are dudes."
Behind the boys are 4 girls.
Blair: "Momma, those are girlfriends. You're my girlfriend, mom."

Thanksgiving Trip

Monday, December 1, 2008

Even though we have moved on from this holiday,
I wanted to share
some scenes with you from our trip to the
Lone Star State - Texas!

Sorry if this post is big, but that's okay 'cause everything's bigger in Texas, ya'll!!

Sooo...We went to see Jon's family for our vacation which took us 2 full days of driving to make it down to San Antonio. We pulled a little sport trailer along which we filled with all of our bags. Being a family of 7, you can get cramped inside of your vehicle very fast with all of the kids' items and what not. But even with the trailer, we still seemed to cram the car full of stuff. Why? Why? Why? I don't know. I guess kids just can't decide which of their favorite things to bring so they just bring everything. It would've been worse without the trailer, so I guess it did the job.

After a full day of driving, we made it to Memphis, TN, home of the King of rock n' roll and good ol' fashioned barbecue! I have always wanted to see the King so we went to Graceland. Because of time constraints we decided to tour Graceland next time we are passing through Memphis. So, I didn't get to see the famous Jungle Room or any other eclectic room, and we never got around to that barbecue!

The Utah Jazz were in town playing the Memphis Grizzlies so Jon thought an NBA game would be fun. We drove downtown to Beale street to get to The Forum. Now I understand the song better, "Walking in Memphis" because Beale street was a hub of activity. It was glowing with neon signs, blinking lights, live music and crowded with people taking it all in. I have been singing that song ever since and I can't get it out of my head...

The Jazz soundly beat the Grizzlies, no surprise. I don't remember too much of the game since we were up and down to the nosebleed seats getting food, drinks, and taking trips with the kids to the restroom every 10 minutes. After taking one and coming back, the other would have to go. I tell you!

We were able to rest a bit after finally arriving in San Antonio at Jon's brother's house. They have a beautiful house out in the country where their goats and chickens roam. Reese loved playing video games with his cousin Matt. There is a movie screen in their media room so it made for a good time watching movies and playing on the X-Box.
One night we made homemade pizzas that Noel cooked in his outdoor brick pizza oven (which he made.) The pizzas cooked in about 5-8 minutes. I now want a brick pizza oven. He even cooked the 2 Thanksgiving turkeys in there, and they were most delicious!

Since this was going to be a quick trip, we headed to the city right away. The kids don't remember living in Texas and although we've seen this city plenty of times before, we still wanted to take the kids down to the Paseo del Rio (Riverwalk) and to the Mercado. I was also able to take a little time and visit with my Tia Tere, my late-mother's older sister and her husband, my Tio Pete. I also was able to chat with a few cousins on the phone and I did get to see my cousin Irma. I don't want to lose touch with my mom's family. My mom was originally from San Antonio so I have fond memories of this city and was very thankful that we could visit both sides of our family

So after visiting my aunt and uncle, we went to the riverwalk. The San Antonio River is a small river which runs right through the city where you can stroll along its paved banks. It's fun to roam around all of the shops and restaurants built next to the river. There are many hotels there as well. The Mercado is a Mexican market with some great restaurants and of course we had to go to get some real Mexican food. The kids found some nice souvenirs and I was able to get a mocahete just like my mom's. I've always wanted one. Now I can make salsas the "traditional" way and Jon can make his guacamole with it.
He makes the best guacamole! It's nice and chunky with onions and avocado but not overpowering with spices. A hint of lime, cumin, garlic and a bunch of cilantro,
just the way I like it.

To make this trip more educational, we went to the world famous Alamo. Of course you can't go to San Antone without seeing this beautiful structure and its gardens. I remember my dad taking us here when we were kids. Although then it seemed to be a dusty, old place that you are always supposed to remember. It seems prettier now. I guess I'm able to appreciate it more being an adult an all.
It's older still but not dusty.

We enjoyed the Thanksgiving feast at Jon's sister's beautiful home in Austin. The whole family was there. Jon's parents, siblings and all their children, even a friend from work and a nephew's girlfriend. We had a great time and it was very relaxing. We managed to stuff ourselves silly. The kids also enjoyed the beautiful pool and singing and playing instruments in the music room. My nephew and niece are both in bands and are quite talented. I enjoyed hearing McKinzie sing with Blair. Blair Noel was donning a Hannah Montana wig the whole time which was given to her by her teen-age cousin J.P.

The day after Thanksgiving we all went back to the Riverwalk for the Christmas river parade and lighting ceremony. This time you had to have tickets to get down to the Riverwalk which was cool. We had assigned seating right on the sidewalk next to the river and enjoyed seeing all of the boats go by, glowing from all of their colorful lights. They paved the way for Santa to arrive and light up the city. It was a warm evening and a perfect ending to our trip.
And now I have the Tanya Tucker song stuck in my head, "When I die, I may not go to heaven, I don't know if they let cowboys in. If they don't, just let me go to Texas. Texas is as close as I've been." Must sing with the appropriate twang.
(That's not in the song, I just like to say yeehaww when I think of Texas.)

It's a good thing Christmas music is playing now.
Feliz Navidad!

Picture This!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Click on each to enlarge.
Recently I did a photo shoot for Belen and
4 of her best friends.

We took about a hundred shots and they seemed to enjoy
documenting their friendship through pictures.

I enjoyed seeing them be themselves, laugh and be
genuinely happy for the other.
After all, that is what friendship is all about.

And when you find a good one
it can make you jump for joy.

Poor November...

Friday, November 7, 2008

pushed aside for it's prettier, more popular sister, December.

The day before Halloween I was at the store browsing the aisles.

Of course I was there for last minute things...

As I was aimlessly looking at each aisle of things that I didn't
really need, I began to hum, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmaaas, daaa, da daa, da daaa.." and I realized that I was doing it.
I was getting Halloween over with so I could get ready for Christmas.
I wasn't even thinking about Thanksgiving. I felt bad for November.
So this year I am committed to enjoying this last full month of fall, cranking out the pumpkin pie (the family favorite) and trying out some new warm, soothing, fall comfort foods.

And I am not even looking at the Christmas decorations until I have finished raking all the leaves and help to lift November's spirits,

Or mine..

This year we are taking a Thanksgiving trip to Texas to visit Jon's family which we are all excited and thankful for. And I also get to visit my relative's on my mom's side.
I have missed my mom everyday for 9 months now so seeing her family - my family, will be a soothing way to enter in to what was her favorite holiday, Christmas.

I have never visited Texas without her and I don't expect to this time either.

I heart voting

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election day is over, Hallelujah!

When we arrived at the polling place we were met by
handing out literature at the door
and then we were met by a republican handing out
literature on the other side of the door.

Whichever party you affiliate with, you must appreciate
that we can do this in our country and no one is
being imprisoned or stoned.

These two ladies seemed like nice, patriotic women.
Simple as that.

So, we stood in line for 2 seconds and took 2 minutes to vote.
No problems with machines, just good old fashioned filling
in of the little box with a ballpoint pen like you did on high school tests.
There was even a BIG sign that instructed you on how to fill in the box correctly.
The print on the ballot was too small though...

As I exited the polls, I was looking for my "I voted" sticker.
And I said to Jon, "Hey, don't we get our 'I voted' stickers anymore??"
I said this as we were passing the first lady that we saw upon entering
and she said, "Yeah, look at this lame sticker we get now."
In a sympathetic voice, I said "Oh, it looks like you went to Chuck-e-Cheese."
(Not that Chuck-e-Cheese is bad, but it was a bear sticker with balloons and it
didn't even say 'I voted.')
She started to laugh and then looked at her sticker and frowned at the realization, "It does!"
Oops, sorry!

Then we were walking away and I heard someone ask another
if they had gotten their king sized candy bar for voting.
What??? I didn't get the candy bar either??
No sticker, no candy bar...

All I got was the privilege of voting. Sheesh!

(The picture above is of Belen and her sweet friends.
They decided that in honor of election day, which is when this was taken,they would show their support for all candidates by giving a peace and love sign.
They are thinking about their future and are striving for
peace and love.
I think that's a ticket we can all agree on!)

Belen is in the purple pants by the way!

Halloween Memories

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Well, another Halloween has come and gone
and I didn't get all the things done that I wanted to...bummer.
Oh well, there is always Thanksgiving!

It was a nice night for trick-or-treating.
No wind, and just enough chill to warrant a sweater.
The kids did not require bulky coats over their costumes.
Belen went with her friends around the neighborhood. I'm not exactly sure what they were. I think just a bunch of girls hoping not to outgrow trick-or-treating.

I remember my sister taking me trick-or-treating when she was 13 and I was 8. She told me to say "trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat." So I did. The old people laughed and thought I was so cute and gave us lots of candy. Older siblings can manipulate you that way.

Another memorable Halloween was a time when all four of us kids were trick-or-treating, we came up to a house and rang the doorbell. A guy answered and he was shirtless, and had a beer in his hand. Upon realizing it was Halloween, he scratched his head and said, "oh man, I forgot!" He looked around to give us something and said, "I've got beer. Ya want beer??"
We all looked at our older brother, Blair, and he so politely said, "no thank you, that's okay." But the guy insisted on giving us something.
So we left with a buck each, some key chains and I think I got an ashtray.
It was the thought that counts I guess...

Anyway, this year Charley was the "punk rock" bride of Frankenstein. She's now in love with big hair and would've fit in well in the 80's. She's determined to wake up early and curl it every morning before school. Reese was Dracula, but he didn't wear the teeth because they tasted like plastic and "not a good flavor like blueberry." Blair Noel was a fairy princess, of course. Her skirt lit up and glowed. I was happy that she wore the princess crown my mom made me when I was 6. Trae wore a teddy bear costume so he could be all warm and snuggly.

Halloween amuses me. It's a strange holiday but always fun since it's the only day of the year when we feel entitled to go and beg the neighbors for candy. I mean we let the kids go and beg. We just watch from the sidewalk and then go home to see what good candy we, I mean, they get. I did see some teenage girls trick-or-treating for UNICEF. Now that is a worthy cause.

I hope you all had fun seeing your family and friends enjoy the night of fun costumes, sweet treats and the cool fall air!

Bittersweet Birthday

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blair Noel is 3 today.

Born October 26, 2005 at 12:30 pm

It makes me a little sad.

I wish I could slow the hands of time.

All I keep thinking about is that soon she'll be grown and I'll be telling her all the funny things she did at 3.

Like, sing Jonas Brothers songs all day, very loudly.

Or, sing Jonas Brothers songs outside while running freely all over the yard.

Or, when she sees "Rock" Obama or John McCain on the t.v. she squeals their names and then says, "I don't like Rock Obama or John McCain, I like Kevin." (as in Kevin Jonas)

Or, how she likes to go down the soap aisle at the supermarket and pick up a plunger to use as her microphone for singing Jonas Brothers songs.

Or, how compassionate she is and how she likes to help me around the house. (I will certainly remind her of that later.)

Or how she says "I smell cowboy" when she gets a whiff of the many cow pastures around here, or how she emphasizes the last syllable in her words, like - "we're goin to grandMAWWS."

Or how she can't go somewhere without wearing "my lips."

Or, how she plays with all of her dollies and talks to herself in any reflective surface.

However bittersweet, I'm still thrilled that I am her mom.

She makes our life a little more fun.

I love you Blair bear.

I hope you'll always want to go places with mama.

Welcome Fall

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I love fall

I enjoy all seasons but I love autumn when there is a slight chill in the air
and fall
displays are on every front porch and doorstep. I like digging out the decorations from the garage and warming up the house with fall touches here and there. We like decorating with natural elements too so the kids and I scout the backyard and neighborhood for tree branches and acorns. When the leaves are scattered about, we collect some nice ones and iron them with waxed paper. Just yesterday Reese brought me home a big, bright red Maple that he found on the playground. Waxing them makes them look better and they last throughout the season - and then some. I think I still have some from last year.

There is an abundance of harvest fairs, farmer's and flea markets here in the Northeast. Lucky me! I live for that stuff. I go to the farmer's market nearly every week and buy fresh produce, flowers, and any vintage item that I think I can't live without. It's a good way to support the local farmer and artisan. Anyway, the kids enjoy it because it feels like a treasure hunt. They could just go to the dollar store and buy plastic junk (which they do) or they can go to the flea market where even better junk awaits! Charley and I went on Saturday and we bought a few things. My favorite was this beautiful pumpkin. It is cool. It's also really heavy. I had to remember to bend with my knees it's that heavy!

The fall season is also a time for football.
It's the time of year when Jon begins his sentences by saying,
"Did I ever tell you about the time I scored 3 touchdowns in one game?" It sounds like a fish story but, no, he really did score 3. Luckily, my mother-in-law saved the news article from our town's local paper. Of course it's included in the family scrapbook! Last week, Jon took the little kids, Reese and Blair Noel, to the game and they loved being out at night with dad. The older kids, Belen and Charley, enjoyed getting bundled up, meeting their friends at the high school game, which they don't always watch, but they liked being there with their pals. I enjoy seeing them young and happy.
Even though the fall season means the year is coming closer to an end, it renews my spirit and allows me to set a few goals. By the time the new year has arrived I feel that I am accomplishing some goals and that sense of accomplishment carries me right through Spring.
I don't set lofty goals, mind you, just small, simple ones that I can achieve.
The fall season is good.