Posted in Uncategorized

Tiny Dancer

It was awful. The kind of cry that makes your gut wrench. It wasn’t a “hungry cry” or an “I have a poopy diaper cry,” it was an “I’m in terrible pain cry.” At 10 months old, Olive is too young to vocalize with words so she cried. And cried some more. She wouldn’t stop crying no matter how many times I softly sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while rocking her. I tried every baby soothing method imaginable to no avail. I ran bathwater and got in the tub with her. It was 1:30 in the morning and we struggled. She was uncomfortable, kicking and screaming, water splashing, her face red. I was naked and vunerable. Overwhelmed with fear that I was failing as a mother, failing her, unable to calm her or make her feel better, wiping the tears from her cheeks (and mine.)

My husband stood in the doorway of the bathroom watching us with concern and sadness. When it became obivous the bath wasn’t calming her, he grabbed a towel and gently scooped her up. I sat there for a moment, feeling exhausted and defeated. Jose stepped back in the bathroom, Olive bundled up in my favorite soft towel, cradled in his arms, still screeching. He handed me a towel. I headed to our bedroom, he headed to the living room. After drying off and getting back in to my nightgown, I warily walked down the hallway towards the living room. Olive’s howls were cracking. Her throat was dry. The walk down the hallway felt like “The Green Mile.”

They were sitting in the brown velour chair against the window. Jose was hunched, his head hanging down as he looked at Olive, inconsolable in his lap.I couldn’t see his expression but his body language told the story. By the flicker of the flame, their silhouettes danced on the wall beside them. It was beautiful. If I were a photographer I would’ve captured the image. If I were an artist I would paint it on canvas. But I’m just a writer trying to put it in words, but I can’t. Failing again.

Jose has her at the clinic right now. I wish I could be there, but at least I have that image in my mind. I hope it stays there forever.

 UPDATE: Jose called me from the clinic. Olive was diagnosed with Staphylococcus Scalding Skin Syndrome. We are heading to the children’s hospital in San Antonio for treatment. Please say a prayer, light a candle, knock on wood, sacrifice a cockroach, or do whatever it is that you can do to send some good juju our way.

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Posted in Crafts, Personal

My Hamartia

I get all of these great ideas for projects and crafts and DIY’s that I want to accomplish. I rush full speed head-on into my project with nothing but tunnel vision until I see it through. I get all these visions in my head and get so excited to begin. I run to the thrift stores and craft stores and pick up all the items I need. But the problem, you see, is that I don’t know what to do with said projects when they are complete. Sometimes I think I will sell my creations, but that puts a lot of pressure on me to make something specifically designed for someone else and when something you love doing becomes something stressful, you don’t love doing it anymore. I don’t want that to happen. I end up with all of these lovely yet useless (to me) things. On one hand, I want to keep my creations so I can marvel at a job well done and pat myself on the back. On the other hand, I don’t want to clutter my home with things I won’t use and don’t need. Do you see the problem?

…and I think, in the story of my life, with me being the heroine that would be my downfall, that would be my hamartia. To have an overwhelming passion and desire to craft beautiful things from my hands and my imagination, but then what? Don’t gift them? Don’t sell them? Don’t use them? Hide them away in a plastic storage bin in my garage?

That’s not bringing a dream to life, that’s suffocating a dream and I refuse to commit dream homicide.

hamartia

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships

My Back to School Story

Today my Facebook feed is filled with adorable first day of school pictures. All of my own children are either too old or too young, but I do have something I would like to share. This is my back to school story…

16 years ago today was supposed to be my son’s first day of kindergarten. We had just taken the kids to Astroworld for one last hurrah before summer was over. It brought back vivid memories of spending my summers there with my brother and sister. Mom would get us season passes and drop off us on her way to work.
Dallas had just turned 6, Brandon was almost 5, and Mikayla was only 2.We took turns taking Mikayla on kiddie rides while the other parent took Dallas and Brandon on big kid rides. When it was my turn with the big kids, I couldn’t wait to get to the Gunslinger!
…but Brandon wasn’t up to it. He hadn’t been feeling well the past few weeks. Sometimes he would get a fever and he had blisters around his mouth. We chalked it up to him having a summer cold. There was no excitement, no light in his eyes. He was tired and feeling weak. He complained of terrible aches in his legs. We had to rent a wagon to pull him around in. When a kid can’t find joy at Astroworld, you know something is wrong.

His first day of school would be that Tuesday and I took him to his pediatrician on Monday. After a battery of bloodwork and tests, they determined that something was in fact wrong. They didn’t know what that something was, so they referred us to Driscoll Children’s Hospital. “We’ve called ahead,” they told me. “They are expecting you.” I was worried, but not terrified. We didn’t have GPS or cell phones back then, so I just hopped in the car and drove to Driscoll. I didn’t know where the hospital was, but I figured I could stop at the gas station and ask for directions. Turns out, Driscoll Children’s Hospital isn’t in Driscoll at all, it’s actually located in Corpus Christi. Awesome. More time to drive and more time to fret. By the time we found the hospital, my nerves were shot.

My pediatrician was right, they were expecting us. They had papers ready for me to fill out, a room ready for us to settle in to, and a phlebotomist ready to draw more blood. For some reason, Brandon and I both still thought he would make it to his first day of kindergarten the next day. But he didn’t. At almost 11:00 pm that night, the on call doctor came in to tell me Brandon had been diagnosed with leukemia. Now, I was terrified.

16 years ago today, I woke up in a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. The realization had set in that my son was diagnosed with a horrible disease that didn’t have nearly the success rate that it does now. 16 years ago today, Dallas started 1st grade. I wasn’t there to take her to school. I wasn’t there to help her get dressed or take first day of school pictures. I don’t even know if her hair was brushed or if she had a sweet note written on the napkin in her lunchbox. 16 years ago today, Brandon was taken into surgery to have a port-a-cath put in his chest. 16 years ago today, my son started chemotherapy.

Brandon turns 21 tomorrow, a milestone denied to many of the other kids being treated at Driscoll Children’s Hospital back then, a milestone we weren’t sure he would reach. He was a tough kid, so much stronger than I. He endured weekly blood transfusions and spinal taps WITHOUT anesthesia. We were told the steroids would stunt his growth, yet at almost 21, he towers over me. We were told he would always walk with an awkward gait because the bone marrow aspirations had ruined his hip, yet at almost 21, he walks with the swagger of a Hollywood celebrity. He has been in remission for so long, he is considered “cured.”

I am taking Brandon to get a tattoo on Thursday. That’s what he asked for and I am happy to oblige. We won’t be hitting up the bars tomorrow, now that he will be of legal age to drink. He will be spending the day with his girlfriend and that’s okay with me. I will; however, make a silent toast to him and his fallen friends as I sip my cold Lone Star after dinner tomorrow.

Happy 21st Birthday Brandon with many, many more to come! You made it, kiddo! And Happy First Day of School, Moms…

SALUD!

brand

Posted in Community, Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships

Rock of Ages

Some days my skin is so thick you can take a cheese grater to it and not cause a wound. Some days, my skin is so thin you can slice it to the bone with a single word.

Passive aggressive criticism is shitty. You can “bless my heart” all you like, but at the end of the day, you’re still a flower covered asshole. I can usually take it, even when I rarely ever dish it, but say something to one of my children and I will destroy you.
…or not. I’m not really that type of person. But I will want to. Oh my God, I will want to. I will think of a gazillion different things to say to you to put you in your place. I will kick you in your gut and smash your toes with the heel of my boot (in my mind.) But I don’t. Instead, I take the high road. I try to teach my children that we are better than that. Some people are miserable and misery loves company. There are folks in this world that live a negative life and I encourage a positive life. We should not judge, we should encourage. Compliment, not criticize.

“Mommy-Shaming” is not a new thing. Working Moms vs Stay At Home Moms, Breast-feeding vs Bottle-feeding, Co-Sleeping vs Crib-Sleeping, Vaxxed vs Un-Vaxxed, Home-Schooling vs Public-Schooling vs Private-Schooling, and on and on and on and on. But the one I am addressing today is:

Age Shaming – specifically, Child Birth Age Shaming.

I had my oldest daughter at 19 and had my youngest daughter at the ripe old age of 40. Lucky me, I got to experience age-shaming on both ends. I mean statistically speaking, I was a “teen mom,” and even now, that term incites negativity from within me (even though it shouldn’t.)  My obstetrician with my youngest loved to refer to me as having “advanced maternal age,” and that term still makes me cringe. (Yes, I know that’s the correct medical term, doesn’t make it more appealing though.)

Age shaming usually comes with advertisements for wrinkle creams, but when it comes to having children, apparently there is so small window of opportunity in which it is acceptable to have children. Have them too young and you are judged, have them too old and you are judged. When I discovered I was pregnant just a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, the age shaming came directly from friends.  To this day I have a vivid recollection of one of my closest friends saying, “But you’re a grandmother. You’re done. You’re kids are grown. You shouldn’t be having kids again.” Ahhhh, the magic word “shouldn’t.” I shouldn’t says who exactly? You? Society? Science? Not my doctor. He asked me when I was going to have another one after Olive was born. (Still on the fence about that one.)

While we are at it… let’s talk age differences in your children. If you haven’t already done the math, my oldest and youngest daughters almost 22 years apart. I know it’s not common, but it’s also not anyone’s business but mine (and my husband’s.) So, yesterday afternoon, my very pregnant (36 weeks along to be exact) daughter was at the grocery store with my almost 10 month old daughter. While in line at the check-out, the woman in front of her turned around and my eyed my daughter up and down – noticing the baby (my baby), noticing her belly, and back up to noticing the baby again. It made my daughter uncomfortable. She went so far as to ask my daughter how old Olive was and when her other baby was due. Holy crap, you guys! Who does this? This lady did. What the FRENCH TOAST business is it of hers? If Olive was my daughter’s daughter, then her children would be 11 months apart. (My mother calls that “Catholic Twins.”) If I had been standing there I would’ve jerked the hair tie off my wrist, thrown my hair up in bun, handed my daughter my earrings and stepped up to this ignorant woman.
…or not.  Because we all know I’m not really that type of that person. But I would have wanted to. Instead, I would’ve taken the high road, just as my daughter did.

And that makes me so very proud.

 

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
-Toplady

age

Posted in Crafts, Family, Food, Home, Personal, Relationships

Doubly Blessed Baby Shower

As many of you know, my two oldest daughters are expecting babies in September! I was honored when they allowed me to host their baby shower. I am huge fan of DIY, Pinterest, and of course, saving money! I decided to do the food, decorations, and favors by hand.

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I made tissue paper tassles (instructions here) coffee filter pom poms (instructions here) tissue paper peonies (instructions here)

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For the favors I used Olive’s vintage wooden high chair to house the basket of tea lights. The card reads, “Burn this tea light on the night once the stork has made its flight. With a flicker of the flame, please say a prayer in Baby’s name.” (idea here)

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This one was my favorite addition to the decor! I knew a needed place for cards to go and it hit me I could use Olive’s vintage cradle. I knew I had to add the spoons when I revised the song in my head to “The cards in the cradle and the silver spoons.”

I am so very excited for Dallas and Mikayla. I would like to thank everyone for coming to the baby shower. My only regret is that we didn’t get more photos. If you were there, please send me any you have. Please enjoy the slideshow below of the few photos I remembered to take!

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Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships

An Open Letter to My Pregnant Daughters

My Dearest Dallas and Mikayla,

There are only 6 days until your baby shower, 5 weeks until Mason is due, and 7 weeks until Aliza is due. Thoughts of you both and my grandchildren consume me constantly. There are so many cliché things I could say…

“Where has the time gone?”
“Just yesterday you were babies yourselves.”
“You were born, I blinked, and now you’re grown.”

…but we all know that just wouldn’t be my style. Instead, I’m going to blog about it (for posterity, of course!) I know my blogs are generally humor-filled, but this one is going to be lil sentimental. That being said, it is important that I tell you girls these things:

  • I love you. Oh my God, how I love you. I mean, I know I tell y’all that CONSTANTLY, but I don’t think you will ever grasp just how much until you are a mother yourself. (Dallas, since you’re already a mom, I know you get this.)
  • I know you are scared. Hell, I was scared having Olive. It’s okay to be scared, just don’t let the fear overtake the excitement!
  • I wish I could take the pain for you. (Okay, that was pretty cliché, but it’s true.) If there were a way for me to absorb the pain of birthing for you so you could only experience the joy, I would do so without a second thought.
  • I am so proud of you. Every single day, every single moment of your lives, I am proud. Even when you aren’t very proud of yourselves, I am of you.
  • I have faith in you! I know you are and will be amazing mothers! These babies are so blessed to have you because I know how wonderful you will be with them.
  • Thank you. I mean that from the depths of my soul. I will never be able to thank you enough for making me a Grammy. One day, when you are grandmothers yourselves, you will understand.

 

All My Heart,
Momma

 

girls

Posted in Crafts, Home, Personal

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

My husband and I both have an affinity for hats. He has 2 super cool vintage Stetsons that he found at the Flea Market (naturally.) I have an obsession with giving every item in our house a home, including said hats. I decided that I wanted a hat wall in our bedroom and knew just where I wanted them, but not how to hang them. All the wall mounted hat racks I found online were horizontal and I wanted vertical, so I went to Pinterest for ideas. I was able to find some really cool photos of hat displays, but none of them told me how to hang them on the wall. My friend and office mate Shelia suggested push pins, but my husband would murder me in my sleep if I stuck a pin through his Stetson hats and I have a pretty rad felt Free People hat he bought me that I wasn’t willing to turn into a voodoo doll. In my mind, I imagined the hats on the wall, but the hanger not visible.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and this hat wall became not only a necessity, but an obsession. When I get an idea in my head, I obsess over it until I find a way to get it done. I am also frugal. The idea of spending $10 to $30 per peg wasn’t going to fly, plus my husband is never thrilled with the idea of putting large holes in the wall. Basically, I needed to invent something from items I already had that would discreetly hang my hats and not put a hole in them or in the wall. Shelia and I “racked” our brains and looked around the office for ideas.

The answer was right in front of me. Literally. Because I’m frugal, I bring my lunch to work with me every day, usually leftovers from last night’s dinner. I also sometimes bring sandwiches and chips. I use a clothespin instead of a chip clip on my bags because… I’m frugal. Seriously, you can get a package of 36 wooden clothespins from the Dollar Tree for $1 here. There they were, 5 wooden clothespins clipped to my desk organizer that was also holding about 400 brightly colored push pins. I grabbed one of each, clipped the clothespin to the push pin and voila! instead wall peg that would cause minimal damage. We wondered if it would be able to bear the weight of a hat so I promptly went downstairs to the camp store, grabbed a straw cowboy hat and tested that sucker out. Success! I put all my goodies in a Ziplock baggie, excited to get home.

Last night at the table, my husband asked if I minded if he went for a skate after dinner. The only thing on my mind was the hat wall, so of course I encouraged him to go!
Which, by the way, he posted this to Facebook afterwards and I loved it so much, I feel it’s worth sharing:

“Skated an hour and then ran 6 full court 4 on 4 games with kids less than half my age tonight, kid that was holding me asked me before I left how old I was. Told him I was turning 44 this year, he called me a liar, walked him to the car and showed him my ID. He said, “damn you’re older than my dad!” Moral of the story is? keep moving, if you can, don’t be that guy who use to talk about how he was in the game, be that guy, play the game, until you can’t play anymore, gonna do that with all I got too…
Tomorrow we’re all back in the game.”

So, while my husband was in his game, I was on my game. I used Gorilla Glue for reinforcement with the clothespin. I started thinking that the wall would be awesome with the hats on display, but what would happen when he was actually wearing one? I would have a clothespin sticking out of my wall with a bright push pin glued to it and I just couldn’t handle that. I wanted it to look good with my “Sea Seeker” beachy bedroom so I decided to use the leftover brushed nickel spray paint from my fairytale dresser make-over to jazz up my frugal invention.

20160802_215625(Granted, the lighting is bad so you can’t truly see how great it looks in brushed nickel, but still, you get the gist.)

I wasn’t done there. While waiting for the paint to dry, I rummaged through the garage in search of something to store all the DVD’s that were haphazardly strewn about the TV armoire. I was able to locate a cool aluminum milk crate. I don’t know where my husband found it, but I loved it and thought it would make a nice addition to the room. Once the crate was clean and the DVD’s were stored, I checked on my clothespins and they were dry. Hallelujah! It was finally time to hang the hats.

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I’m pretty happy with the way it looks and I love organizing my home. I’m already looking forward to my next project: a DIY flip-flop bin. So while I’m over here on my game, plotting and planning a creative and frugal way to store all my flops, just remember, today is a new day and we’re all back in the game – so get to playing.