Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dear Nate...

Dear Nate,
Stop with the fit throwing. You will not win. Ask your sister.

With love,
Mommy - aka THE ENFORCER

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I ♥ Vintage

This dress... oh this dress. It makes me so happy.

That is my daughter two weeks ago on her first day of Kindergarten. She had a fabulous time that day and she was wearing the dress I wore on my first day of kindergarten right after we moved to the Netherlands in 1985. Over the years my mom saved some key pieces from my childhood for me but I thought she had given them all to me when my daughter was a baby! Mother's day this year she pulled out this sweet little number for Ella to wear (if she wanted to) on her first day. (She still has some tricks up her sleeve!) Ella's approval was immediately solidified when she discovered - it spins! It fit like a glove.

This dress brings back a flood of emotion and memories. I remember waking up in the sunny little pension before we had even moved into a house overseas, walking downstairs to a truly amazing continental breakfast - European style in my beautiful dress and seeing my sweet little teacher's smiling face the first day of school. It makes me think of my beautiful mother packing these treasures away carefully and hauling them around over oceans and within houses not nearly big enough to find storage for these, not really. It also makes me think of my own sweet girl spinning in the front yard no longer a tiny little thing curled into my arm.

I love her new funky shoes, not matching the dress but her own personal touch on the outfit. She felt confidant and ready to conquer the world that morning in that dress and those shoes. Great day, great dress, great memories!

Here are some more shots from the day... Today You Became Old. An Old Old Kindergartener.
Also can I get a high five for all of these photos being straight out of the camera with no editing!

for more nostalgia head over to the amazing I ♥ Faces site!! You want to.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Classic

001I am a car girl. Some girls really could not care less about a car but me, I am not one of them. Cars make me happy, cars make me oooohh, cars can even make me swoon. I sometimes wish I were not a car swooner because sometimes my mommy mobile, she just doesn’t do it for me. I love her and she is faithful but she doesn’t really make me swoon.

Yesterday we happened to be driving around Burlington, NC and off the highway in a parking lot we saw a small classic car show. Nothing huge, just some very cool cars in a parking lot showing off. We decided we needed to have a closer look and luckily for you I had my camera! I was just working on capturing some of the smaller details of the cars, working my camera to get better angles and keeping my kids OFF of the fancy cars because apparently, they are car people too.


Doesn’t it look like Ella & Nate are consulting over what is wrong with the car? hehe (Ella, your tag is hanging out.)(Alex, wipe the drool off the front bumper)

I don’t know what they are, so don’t ask. Alex could tell you. I could tell you there were some more there I liked better but there were too many people around to get good shots. black truck

blue purple034036035

This baby is 80 years old and still running! I only hope I am so lucky!

026023red 2 016014So do cars do it for you? Are you a shoes girl or maybe handbags? What gets your engine going? It is cleaning isn’t it? I knew it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Washing Away the Blah

Yesterday I was having one of those blah days. You know those days when you just don’t feel quite right? Nothing traumatic had happened, Nate was being good and Ella was off to school fine but I was blah. You saw the whiney post, you know. No, I had not had coffee and that might have been part of the missing equation but it was not purely to blame. It was just one of those days.

Lately I have been missing rain. Rain and I had been close friends at end of spring and the beginning of the summer. Recently rain has been going “Oh crap it’s Aprille, I’ll just pretend I didn’t see her” and left me standing there going did the rain just see me and turn around?? So insulting. I mean, it would rain everywhere except my house. Literally, not me being dramatic. Death Valley was getting rain and there I was doing a rain dance in my yard and praying for my jalapeno plants. See, not dramatically over exaggerated at all.

As I was driving to pick up Ella from school this wonderfully grey stormy sky moved overhead. It was one of those storms I had not seen coming and let me tell you I was so relieved to see those thunderclouds. I have seen that recently though. The only water that fell were my completely insulted and rejected tears.

It poured. It was fantastic. I had my windows down so I could feel the coolish rain on my hands. The drops were so big they stung when they hit my arm. The rain was beading up on my windshield and making those beautiful streaks in the wind. It stopped so all the kids could get into their cars and get home though. That was 10 minutes worth but it was nice. That was my short stint of rain and if I was lucky it might have rained the 15 miles away at my house. I took the kids home and got them in the bed for naps and settled in for a minute myself. I was chatting it up with my friend when I saw it again. It got dark in my living room.

At 4:54 in the afternoon the following conversation took place:

it is POURING outside

which is great


i want to go dance in it

its been so dry

ill be back

i think i am going to!

well, maybe not dance

Then I went outside. It was fantastic. I just stood there. In the rain. The pouring rain. I looked up and let it soak my face and saturate my hair and I laughed at myself. It didn’t take long before I was completely dripping with cool fresh rain. The air was heavy and humid but there was a cool breeze coming through the trees. I just stood there and let the rain wash away my blah. Then I smiled and prayed. I don’t know what I prayed. It was one of those completely in the moment prayers, those are the good ones. I needed that connection yesterday.

I need nature to feel closer to God. You see, we don’t make rain. As much as we try we can not control the weather. Things like that remind me that I am a very small piece of a larger picture. I see God in the rain, sunrises and sunsets, mountains and even the natural disasters. God washed the crap and weight off me in those few short minutes outside in the rain yesterday and I felt it immediately.

Do I often go outside and just stand in the rain? No. I have danced in the rain one time, run in it really. I was younger and in that happy place with little real responsibility where I often did fun silly things like that. I have been caught in the rain on many occasions and decided to enjoy it but that is different.

Choosing to go out in the rain, to get all wet, to let your makeup smear and your clothes get soaked and squishy is different. You have to choose spontaneity sometimes. I didn’t choose to go outside so I could have a moment to connect with God I just went be like a kid for a minute and just be. What ended up happening was not what I expected but totally what I needed. If I had not given into that childlike, irresponsible impulse that moment I would have missed that blessing. The rain did not last. It lasted long enough to completely soak me then it moved on. It was long enough to have that moment of connection.

I am so glad I didn’t miss it. Keep your heart open to those moments.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bringing Bacon.

So Alex told me last night he should be changing departments at his second job starting next week. This is the one that will move him to the hours of 7:00am – 9:00pm Monday through Friday, off on weekends and holidays (which I will believe when I see). In my head every reference to this switch is spoken in a deep foreboding voice, like one off the movie previews. In my head it isn’t something to celebrate, my husband gone for such long hours every day. Have I even told you about this yet? I feel like it has been playing over and over in my head for months but I guess I haven’t gotten it out here yet.

Anyways, Alex came to tell me last night that this transition would be happening soon. He has been working two jobs for about a year now. His schedule changes from week to week and we never know when he will be working or not so it is hard to plan. It is also hard because we can not plan on the money either. He will be getting a pay increase and stable hours with the other department and it will also be a job doing what he enjoys, fixing things. All good things right?

My thing, the reason that dark voice has been playing in my mind is that he will not see the kids Mon – Friday now. He has to be at work 1/2 hour away at 7:00am. Ella is in Kindergarten now so the days of waiting up to see Daddy are long gone. Apparently kids need sleep so they are to bed at 8:30 at the latest. So that means no jumping on Daddy, wrestling, giggling, tickling, all that fun stuff to get them all riled up. They will miss him but he will miss them too. I notice a difference in him when the kids and he haven’t seen each other.

I am not looking forward to this.

That was why it was funny to me, when he told me last night, that he used the excited happy voice not the deep foreboding impending doom voice of a low budget end of the world movie voice over. He is happy about the change.

This is good. I am glad he is happy, I know it is because he will feel like he is accomplishing more, his self worth goes up, he feels he is providing and doing that man thing. Bringing home bacon baby.

I am also glad because I have been able to put on a strong front and am supporting him which is important. I can whine on here, it is my outlet and he doesn't read it. He does not know that I have been dreading this. The truth is this will be hard on all four of us, well five, the dog will miss him too (he is the fun one). While I know I would rather have him home than all the money in the world I know I need to support him so he doesn’t feel like crap about doing what he thinks is the right thing to do.

Also, both our Love Languages are “Quality Time”. Hum. This might get interesting.

I know none of this is anything to whine about. I know we are blessed that not only does he have one job, but two. I know I get to sleep next to him and hold him at night and the kids can assault him and beat on him all weekend and call him on the phone during the week. I know all these things and they do make me happy. I just needed to vent a little. Also, say a little prayer for Alex and the kids (and the dog). Like I said, I am not the fun one.

I am so thankful for those of you who indulge me by visiting here. You do make me feel less crazy and less solitary. For those of you who know me in real life, have patience with me. It is hard for me to be social sometimes. I am a work in progress.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mexican. Real Mexican.

Last week my husband and I were visiting with our aunt Julieta – we call her “Tortilla” instead of Tia. Tia is Spanish for “Aunt” but Ella decided when she was little that “Tortilla” was much more fitting so it stuck. That kid is smart because Tortilla is one amazing cook. I have never tasted food like she cooks. All amazing authentic Mexican food, seafood stews, simple delicious salsas, long intricate recipes to die for and just generally delicious food. I also love her. She is wonderful all around.

We were sitting around the table attempting to talk about stuff like our gardens through our language barrier and food came up which is often the case. She asked if I had made any molcajete (mol-ca-he-tāy) salsas with the tomatoes and jalapenos from the garden and I replied that I don’t have a molcajete yet but it is on my must buy list when I finally get to Mexico. (There is a lot on this list by the way) She was surprised to hear I did not yet have one and sent the husband digging into the back of a cabinet and low and behold the sun broke through the clouds, shone through the window and right onto that very spot… then the angels began to sing… in Spanish.

It was my very own Molcajete. Mine. All. Mine!IMG_1838

This basalt mortar and pestle is perfect for grinding spices or making and serving salsas. I am very excited. Want to hear the funny part? It made me feel a little more like a real Mexican. I joke all the time about me, the only non Mexican in this gigantic family, being Mexican now, ex: when I eat spicy spicy food and don’t cry I say its because I am Mexican now. This gift made me feel a little more authentic and I like that.

I worry about the kids not fitting in sometimes with that side of the family. Alex does not speak Spanish at home (don’t nag me about that or I will bite you) and I want them to appreciate and take pride in their heritage and culture. What makes me feel like I am slightly less of a failure in this area is when they are totally able to eat like little tiny Mexicans. Enter the tortilla…

The tortilla (corn tortilla) is not only a food staple in our house, it is an eating utensil. It is fork, it is spoon, it is vital and convenient. It is paired with many meals in our house and the kids are well schooled in it’s use. This makes me feel good, a small but integral thing. They can’t speak Spanish but they can eat with a tortilla!

I know, it sounds pathetic to me too. Oh well. At least I have my Molcajete to fall back on.


Isn’t she pretty?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Miss Ella

I miss Ella. Those are the three words Nate said as we left Ella in Kindergarten for the very first day today.


Yesterday was just a meet and greet type thing. Today was the big kahuna, the giant enchilada, the full monty, the day she finally got to take that Tinkerbell lunchbox! 8:00am - 2:45pm. Today she was also completely oblivious to my presence once we opened those school doors. She really is good to go. She knew where her class was, went and put away her backpack, sat down at her desk and got to work on a puzzle waiting for her. I might get in trouble for picking having the gall, the nerve to pick her up today, we shall see. I did manage to get a little squeeze from her before I left but I was happy she was oblivious, she is confidant and ready to grow.


Then I walked out the door with my sons small two year old hand in mine. I got misty and was very thankful for that little hand in mine. At least he still loves me!!! Just kidding. I was very thankful for Nate as a distraction, I think otherwise I would have cried. I was just so excited for her, she looked so purposeful, intent on absorbing and having fun and making friends. She looked very contented.


As I drove away from school I prayed for her, her teachers, the new friends she would make and the staff. I teared up again as I prayed for my girl and asked for God to watch over her and help her grow.


Nate and I went to the park and had some fun. Want to see what we did? Okay.

We went to go see Josephine.. she is our favorite mule.


Nate told daddy that Mommy was okay. He called to check.


We did some airplane spotting.


Some toad catching….


and more toad catching. This might need to be a normal occurrence.




I miss Ella too little dude but I sure am glad we get to play, just you and me. Until 2:30, then we get to assault Ella with hugs and hear all about how awesome her day was!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today You Became Old. An Old Old Kindergartner.

Today Ella, you became old. You boldly went out into the world, struck a pose and said bring it on! You confidently marched into your Kindergarten class, introduced yourself to your teachers with an inquisitive smile, had no problems playing with the guys in class and just in general made me proud. You carried yourself with your head held high and made me remember how much fun it was to be five and on your way to being "Big". I had fun today too!

Today was one large step toward you being an adult, functioning in society knowing who you are and making decisions based upon a foundation your family helped build but blazing your own path all the way. I was proud of not only you, but the people who love you who helped to shape you into such a confidant sweet young woman. You are a young woman, I saw it today. You are a very young woman but I see her inside you already. I know soon enough I will be looking you over in a cap and gown and thinking back on today talking about how it seemed just yesterday I was dropping you off for Kindergarten. I can not wait to see more, and at the same time I can wait. I will enjoy hugging you tight tonight. I am overjoyed you are so empowered but it is a little hard for a mommy's heart to see this sight....

You see, it really does seem like not so long ago you and I were beginning our bond with each other. Today I felt so proud to call you mine. You rock Gabriella. No really, you do. I am so very thankful God gave you to us, you truly are my favorite girl in the whole world!

You and I had another special bond today didn't we? You really were so cute in that dress, even the big girls thought so. The 11th graders were complementing your style today. You were sporting the Vintage Mommy again today. Gran saved that dress, unbeknown to me, the dress I wore to my first day of Kindergarten. You were also so cool in your new shoes. I was going to have you wear shoes that... you know, matched your outfit, but I thought what the heck. Matching is for people with no sense of personal style right? You loved the dress and you loved the shoes so I loved the combination.

I remember staring around in wonder at my new classroom's surroundings when I started kindergarten with that same look you had today. I am so glad you are excited sweetie. I am too! Daddy, however, is a little dumbfounded I think. By the way I saw him eying some of your classmates, specifically all the boys that were there but I will keep an eye on him so he doesn't pull any weird "Major Payne" type dad stuff. He worries that you fit in so well with them even with the dresses and "Hello Kitty". I expect tomorrow one specific boy will be thinking of you a lot. Nate will be more than a little lost with no Ella but don't worry, I will not let him in your room while you are gone. This is his time to become as confidant and self reliant as you proved to be today.

(Third boy from the left is the small brother very much wishing he was 5 already)

Ella may I just make one request of you when you go back tomorrow and pretty much every school day until the end of time.... when it comes time to share with the class do not mention things like this. I don't think I have bestowed the gift of subtlety on you yet.

You just love a dress that twirls (so do I!)

Well done, Ella! Well done!
Here is to another 12 years of waking up way earlier than you want sweetie!

(p.s. we need to discuss this whole sleeping in when your supposed to go to school and waking at the butt crack of dawn when you can actually sleep in thing okay?)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Day 4 and I Am In Love

Just a note... the kids haven't seen Daddy in 4 days now due to scheduling conflicts. It hasn't been too bad. We ar e in the thick of potty training and Nate is a rock star let me tell you. I hadn't planned on potty training this summer but he just went one day so it is on! Nate has also been spending a lot of time in the corner for his new favorite pass time, chucking things at his sister. Yes, at least once a day I hear the repercussions of some object teaching Ella about the laws of Physics. We literally learn things the hard way around here. Get it? Learning physics the hard way.. getting hit? Okay I am done.

Nate and Ella are proof you can not think one form of discipline works for all kids. What was needed to work for Ella totally kills Nate's spirit and is completely inappropriate for him. He does give the sweetest apologies when he comes out of the corner though. He is such a different kid than Ella. She, of course, is just like me. The girl doesn't give an inch with her parents.

In photography news I got a new lens. I bought the oh so popular Canon 50mm 1.8 from a local camera shop and yes, I am in love. I have been longing to see the beautiful tones of browns, honeys and greens in my kid's eyes to no avail for years, only black. Not anymore!

See - eyes! These are right out of the camera with no editing at all. They would look better if I edited them but I am not worried about that right now. Look at the pretty bokeh too!! Pretty bokeh and eyes that look the color they are! Happy happy Mommy.

Also Ella starts Kindergarten on Monday. MONDAY!