Posted in Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships

I Dry-Nurse My Granddaughter and I Don’t Care What You Think

She was inconsolable. I tried everything. I had foolishly considered myself an expert after raising four children and step-mothering an additional four, but nothing in my bag of tricks was working. My two month old granddaughter’s uncontrollable sobbing set off my one year old. They cried in unison. Ten minutes prior, everything was fine. I had dinner going on the stove and cartoons going on the television.

When my oldest daughter was twenty-one, I gave birth to my youngest daughter. Eleven months later, my granddaughter was born. Having a child and grandchild less than a year apart certainly has its advantages. I don’t feel guilty spending money on clothes and toys, knowing they will be passed along. We have the same pediatrician, belong to the same Mommy group, and our girls have matching car seats.

None of my children ever had colic, so when my daughter asked for advice, I had none to give. She spoke with the doctor, the pharmacist, and other moms. She tried gripe water, tummy time, swaddlers, white noise, and every pacifier on the market – to no avail. I got a frantic call from her one evening. She was overwhelmed and exhausted. Through her tears, she explained that she hadn’t bathed in four days and it had been longer since she slept. My granddaughter would only rest in twenty minute intervals and they both needed relief. I offered to take the baby for the night.

“No Mom,” she protested. “She won’t take a bottle and I don’t have any pumped milk, anyway.”

A couple of months went by and my daughter was ready to go back to work, just in time for Christmas. Naturally, I offered to babysit. Her first shift was only three hours. This would be the first time they were apart for longer than a speedy shower. She arrived at my house with an over-packed diaper bag, enough pumped milk to survive the Apocalypse, and apologies. She worried that it would be a burden for me, but I assured her I was thrilled for some time with my granddaughter! We hugged, she kissed the baby, and left for work.

So there I was, holding two crying babies, one on each hip, scolding myself for thinking I was an “expert.” I set the babies down, raced to grab the Bjorn, and strapped my granddaughter in. My own daughter was jealous and wailing. I scooped her up to my hip while trying to calm them both. Their combined screams pierced my ears, but there was something else…

…the smoke detector! It blared loud enough to drown out the babies and alert the neighborhood that I burnt the potatoes on the stove. While wildly flailing a kitchen towel at the alarm, I realized my face was wet. As I went to open the back door, I passed a mirror in the hallway. That’s when I saw my face covered in tears. I was crying with the babies and hadn’t even realized. I felt helpless, useless, and defeated. I felt what my daughter felt daily. I wanted to be a good mom and grandmom, but I felt like a failure.

With my head hanging, I worked my way down the hall, singing the ABC song. I looked up and saw my husband standing in the open doorway. We must have been a pitiful sight. I was frazzled, my knees buckling, make-up smeared from tears, and snot across my daughter’s face. He eased her off my hip and disappeared to the bedroom. I sat on the sofa, took off the Bjorn, and cradled my granddaughter in my arms. She was rooting around and I felt the “let down” even though my milk had been dry for months. It was a phantom sensation, but my maternal instincts kicked in and I latched her on my breast. I didn’t think about it really. She rooted, I offered, she accepted. Within a few minutes she was sound asleep.

My husband wandered in the living room and was surprised to see my granddaughter latched on. He asked if it was okay to do that. I didn’t see why not. All my children had comfort nursed. I was used to being a human pacifier and I was sure my daughter would be happy I consoled her, by any means necessary. And she was. When she arrived to pick up the baby, I told her the whole story and we laughed.

“I don’t mind if you don’t,” she told me.
I didn’t mind at all!

I’ve taken care of my granddaughter several times since then and each time, she’s needed a breast. I understand that to some this is seen as controversial, but truthfully, I don’t care. I love my daughter and granddaughter and will continue to do anything and everything I can to help them both – even if it means dry-nursing.

 

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Posted in Culture, Family, Food, Relationships

Chicken (Tortilla) Soup For the Soul

I was an adult before I had ever heard of or tried Chicken Tortilla Soup. The only time my mother ever served me soup was when I was sick. Even then she would usually warm up a can of Campbell’s Chicken & Stars. (Chili and stew don’t count – Momma rocked those!)

I once got food poisoning from old broccoli and cheese soup at a Black Eyed Pea Restaurant and I refused to eat it again for thirteen years. True story. Ever since, I always choose salad over soup at a restaurant. But Chicken Tortilla Soup is good – I mean really good. So about eight years ago, I decided to make it for the first time. My kids loved it! In fact, my oldest loved it so much, she wouldn’t stop eating it. I think she had nine large servings before she finally threw up un-digested chicken tortilla soup all over my kitchen floor. She begged me to never make it again and after the great broccoli and cheese incident of ’91, I was happy to oblige. We were kindred. Soup had scarred us both.

Now that it’s November in Texas, the temperature has dropped below 100 degrees. ‘Round these parts, that means soup! (Or chili – whatever.) Last night I decided to make it again. I also made a very small pot of vegan tortilla soup for Parker (recipe below.) My house smelled of garlic, cumin, and lime. The cilantro, avocado, and sour cream were fresh. I couldn’t find the cheese grater so I used dental floss to finely slice the block of cheddar. I still don’t know where that grater is.

Our front door was open, letting in the cool autumn breeze (and possibly airing out the kitchen after I burned the first round of tortilla strips in oil.) I was just about to scald my tongue when I heard a woman’s voice saying, “knock, knock” from the open door. It was our friend, Ally! She stopped by to drop off gifts for Olive. We exchanged pleasantries, chatted about her parents, and she was on her way. I finally took my first bite and it was awesome.

After some silence, I asked my husband if his mom made Chicken Tortilla Soup when he was growing up. He gave me “the look” which means, “Are you serious?” (Some people that know him interpret it as, “Are you fucking stupid?” There’s a fine line.

“Chicken Tortilla Soup isn’t a real thing, baby.”

Not real? It looked real. It smelled real. It tasted real. The jalapenos and green chilis were really making my forehead sweat. It took a really long time to make and real dollars to pay for the real ingredients. Was this somehow the Emperor’s New Soup?

“It’s just a made up thing,” he explained.

Well, of course it is made up. At some point, some person threw all the ingredients (whatever they had in the fridge, most likely) in a big pot, added some spices, and called it Chicken Tortilla Soup. It’s not like there is some natural body of soup out there that we can just take soup from…
Split Pea Springs
– River of Creamy Potato
– The Egg Drop Ocean
– Lake Lentil

I understood what he was trying to say, though. He meant that it wasn’t a traditional Mexican dish. His mother made caldo; trendy restaurants made Chicken Tortilla Soup. I didn’t know that. My mother’s dinners were mostly spaghetti, tacos, meatloaf, BBQ, burgers, and her signature dish – pork chops, ranch style beans, and mac & cheese. It’s not like I grew up eating diverse foods, unless we were at a restaurant. (My first experience with curry was revolting.)

My Vegan Tortilla Soup is, in fact, made up. By me. Last night. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
3 cups vegetable broth
olive oil
1/3 can of green chiles & tomatoes (I used Ro-tel)
1/3 can of sweet kernel corn (rinsed and drained)
1/3 can whole black beans (also rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
cilantro, avocado, lime, garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper to taste

optional: tofu

Directions:
Pour vegetable broth, Ro-tel, corn, and black beans in a small pot over medium heat. Add tofu chunks (optional.) Sprinkle cumin and cayenne pepper to your preferences. In a separate pan heat olive oil until it simmers. Add celery, onion, and garlic and saute until tender. Add contents of pan to pot. Voila!

Serve with fresh avocado chunks, chopped cilantro, fried tortilla strips, and a squeeze of lime!

soup2

Posted in Uncategorized

Remember When Safety Pins Were Punk Rock? 

Remember when safety pins were punk rock? 

There is a new movement on Facebook and the news encouraging people to wear safety pins as a sign of solidarity with groups such as the LGBT, minorities, and women.
“You are safe with me.”
It began in the UK following Brexit and was picked up in the US following the election results.

I remember when safety pins were punk rock. I wore tons of them on my jean jacket along with band buttons, patches, and anarchy signs. We thought we were so cool. (And we were!) Just recently I wore 89 safety pins in one evening. It was my no-sew Halloween costume. I was a monster from Where the Wild Things Are.
I won’t be wearing a safety pin to prove that you are safe with me. These days, if I am wearing one, it’s most likely due to a wardrobe malfunction.

My no-sew 89 safety pin Halloween costume. 

It’s not that I’m against the movement, in fact, I support it. There are people genuinely scared and I love to see our society coming together. I have dear friends that are passionate about this, handing them out at bars and street corners. I think that’s awesome. But I’m still not going to participate.

I don’t copy and paste. I’m pretty sure Jesus knows I love Him without me having to share a meme. I don’t own a dipped, powder coated, bedazzled, monogrammed Yeti. I didn’t put a rainbow flag across my profile photo when marriage equality passed, I didn’t do the ice bucket challenge, I  didn’t check into Standing Rock, I don’t watch Game of Thrones, I never bought a Chevron print rug for my bathroom, and I didn’t do the things we were supposed to do about Kony. I don’t even remember what that was. Maybe a change.org petition was being circulated or another image across our default photo on Facebook? Whatever happened with Kony?

It’s so hard for me to jump on the social media bandwagon. It’s like, if I’m being told by the masses or media that I should be doing/watching/buying something, my immediate reaction is to not do the thing. It feels trendy and disengenuine.

I’m not a monster. Well, except on Halloween. Yes, I support marriage equality, encouraging other to feel safe, I want clean water for all humans and animals, I don’t believe children should be exploited, I think coffee should stay hot and tea should stay cold, and I’m quite certain GoT is an amazing show. 

I have nothing but love for those that do these things. I am in no way trying to put them down. I respect the passion! It’s just not for me.

I will continue to do my part. I smile at every single passer-by, wink and wave to every small child, and reach out when I can. Some days, that’s all I can do, other days, I quietly move mountains. I won’t be posting my random acts of kindness to social media, or touting my efforts against social injustices.

That’s just me, and maybe in some small way, that’s just a little punk rock.

Posted in Community, Culture, Family, Personal, Relationships

Cart to Cart

Picture it: Grocery store, 7:00 pm, Health & Beauty Aisle

Olive’s barefeet are dangling through the leg holes of the basket while I’m trying to select the right conditioner for me. Color treated hair? Deep conditioning? Repair & Restore? Avocado, Coconut, or Moroccan oil? Is there a product that has all of these things, because I think I need all of these things. My husband is exercising his patience while silently praying that I’ll just make a damn decision before the store closes. I ask Olive for advice and she stares back at me with her goofy little grin, exposing her 3 bottom teeth. Her smile is crooked and it always reminds of Popeye without the pipe.

An elderly man in a motorized shopping cart rolls up, eyes sparkling as he sees Olive flutter her eyelashes at him. She giggles. His USMC trucker hat sits slightly awry on top of his balding head. His white collared shirt is so thin after seven thousand washes that I can clearly see his v-neck undershirt.

He raises a gnarled, arthritic hand to the basket and gently pats Olive’s. They are in awe of each other, both winning the staring contest. Decades stand between them; he could be her great-grandfather. I marvel at the circle of life right in front of me, clutching my bottle of Pantene as they both sit in their respective age-appropriate carts.

“Well hello, sweetheart,” he says to her. “Aren’t you just the most precious thing God ever created?” It’s possible I’m biased, but I nod my head in 100% agreement. Olive cocks her side to the side and then in response she…

…blows him a raspberry.

OH MY GOD. I want to slink down the (invisible) drain the way my last bottle of conditioner did when it was left on its side with the cap open in the bath. (Thanks, kids.)
“OLIVE!” I admonish. She looks at me, smirks, and blows me a raspberry, too.

“Okay, okay, I get it. I’ll leave you alone now little girl,” he says to her and we hear the reverse beep on his scooter. I see the sadness in his eyes. He is visibly hurt. I want to apologize, I want to hug him, I want him to stay so he can see adorable Ollie really is. He is looking the other way while backing up, but he does say good-bye. Olive knows this word all too well and she immediately starts waving. I desperately want him to see this.
“PLEASE TURN AROUND!” I am yelling at him inside my head.

He gets his cart into position and finally looks back at us. He smiles. I sneak a peek at Ollie, hoping she is still waving. She isn’t. Instead, she is eye-locked with him again, but this time she…

…blows him a kiss.

olive

Ollie

dally

My oldest Dallas and my grandson Lyric Cody

arg

My daughter Mikayla and my grandson Mason

Posted in Personal, Work, writing

November Now

november

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Though I am not participating in the project this year, I have (finally) completed my first book – a children’s picture book. My 720 word count story hardly compares to the 50,000 word minimum required for participation; however, it was enough to motivate me to not only complete my story, but to actually submit to a publisher.

I’ve always considered myself a writer, just not a professional one. My short story, “Bartenders Are Gods” was published in Industry Magazine years ago, but beyond that – nothing. I did once submit a blog post to the Elephant Journal only to get rejected. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I think the fear of further rejection has kept me from submitting my work elsewhere. Until now. Today is the day to “live out what’s in my heart.” It’s not too late to follow after what I really want, and getting published is what I really want.

In the last five years of writing this blog, I have learned quite a bit. Though I will occasionally write short story fiction, I prefer to write stories about my life, hopefully told in a humorous yet relatable fashion. I always thought my first book would be the same – just a longer version of my blog, told in an Erma Bombeck-ishy way. Never would I have thought I would pen a children’s book.

I awoke one morning with what I thought was a brilliant idea. Taking that idea and running with it wasn’t too difficult either. It wasn’t until after I completed my first draft that the hard work began. The editing process is brutal. I fell in love with my protagonist. Everything she said and did was important (to me.) How could I choose what gets to stay and what has to go?  Watching your ideas disappear from the screen as the delete button gets pressed over and over again causes the kind of anxiety you never knew you could feel. And the formatting, OH MY GOD, the formatting. Of course I wrote my story before doing any real research. You type up a WORD document set in default, thinking you’ll just send it off to a publisher (who will most certainly adore your story) and before you know it, you’ve got a book deal! Oh the naiveté…

Now that the research is behind me, stalking editors and literary agents social media accounts, Googling EVERYTHING, and narrowing down my options to the one publisher (who is accepting unagented work) that I think is the best fit for me and my story, I am ready. Ready to break down my wall of fear like the Berlin Wall was broken down exactly twenty-seven years ago today. Ready to submit my work and ready to wait. Ready to start my next project. It’s possible (likely, even) that I will get rejected, but I’ve decided that I would rather try and get rejected than not try and always wonder. I don’t want to live a life of, “what if?” Do you? I hope not. It’s a new day, a new era. We elected a new President last night. Please try to let go of your self-doubt…

…”You matter. Finish this year with a bang, so next year will begin with true fireworks.”
November is the month of now or never.

 

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Television

Gaslights & Stringlights

When my husband and I first started living together, I moved into his house. That was fine, but even after all my belongings were there, it still felt like his. I was more like a long-term guest with closet space. It took about 3 months for us to realize we needed a new place; something that was ours.
We found this fantastic 1938 shotgun-shack style house in the neighborhood we were hoping for and the price range we needed. He hung skateboards on the walls, I hung curtains on the windows. I was so enamored with the high ceilings, wood floors, plank walls, and sun room that I didn’t take into account how difficult having one bathroom would be for all us. That’s when it started happening.
At first I just thought it was one of the kids haphazardly throwing it on there, but after several weeks I began to questions things. The toilet paper roll. I’m not talking about someone being lazy and leaving the empty roll on the holder while setting the new roll on top. No, I’m talking about replacing the empty one and putting the new one on backwards – the wrong way. It’s usually just a minor pet peeve of mine. It takes me only seconds to correct it. At first I didn’t mind, but then it kept happening. Every 2 or 3 days I would sit down to find someone had changed it back. So I, in turn, would make it right. But then a couple of days later, it would be flowing under again.
After a few months of this toilet paper over/under game, I became certain it was being done to me on purpose. I knew the people I lived with were intelligent enough to know how to properly insert toilet paper. They were trying to make me crazy. (And it was working.)
One morning over coffee, I confided in my mother that I thought someone in the house was trying to gaslight me. She explained that in the film, the only person that believed Paula was Inspector Cameron. She told me that if I was Ingrid Bergman, she would be my Inspector. That year for Christmas, Mom sent me a box with a nightgown, a bag of microwave popcorn, and the 1944 Gaslight DVD. It was one of the best gifts I have ever received.
I’ve never spoken to my husband about the “Incredible Ongoing Toilet Paper Roll” situation. I’ve come to accept it. This has been happening for more than four years and will probably continue for the rest of our lives without a word being said.

gaslight
We spent about a year and half in our fantastic tiny house before Olive was born and we knew we needed bigger digs. I was going to miss the old-fashioned charm our house had, but was already in love with the modern amenities the new house had to offer. The dishwasher, garbage disposal, and automatic garage door opener were awesome, but the second bathroom was what sold me! I’ve found that the toilet-paper-flowing-under culprit likes to visit BOTH bathrooms regularly. Sometimes I fix it, sometimes I just sigh and let it go.

About a month ago, we moved Olive’s crib to our bedroom. It took some minor rearranging that resulted in moving the bed closer to the wall on my side to allow enough walkway to the bathroom on his side. You may remember my blog post, The Princess and the Sea  where I told the real-life fairy tale of redoing my bedroom. This was the final layout:

enchanting

I sleep near the window (we don’t have a specific side of the bed, he always takes the side that puts him between me and the door because he is a natural protector.) The stringlights behind my homemade headboard plug into the outlet on my side. The bed is now slightly off-center from the headboard and that only gives me a minor headache. I know this is a temporary situation. Now, here’s the thing…
…about every two days, I walk in my room to find that the bed has been moved about four inches to the left. I immediately start twitching. Four inches doesn’t seem like much, but that’s the difference between me walking on my side of the bed in a straight line or doing the awkward sideways shimmy. It also means I have to move the bed back to where it was so I can plug in the stringlights. (We use them in lieu of a nightlight.) Plus, my brain just can’t handle that much off-centeredness.
The SuperBed Shuffle has happened at least fifteen times (maybe more) without discussion. I move it where it belongs, some rascal moves it back.

We picked Momma up from the airport last night and on the way home I explained that I’m no longer convinced I’m being gaslighted. We all know I can be overly dramatic at times. (I’m not going to stop correcting the TP and bed placement, though.)
Tonight after dinner, I’m going to put on my Christmas gift nightgown, pop some popcorn, and we are all going to watch the Gaslight movie she sent me.
Afterwards, we probably all will marvel at Ingid Bergman’s beauty and laugh at my silliness until I go to my room to get in bed, only to find that it’s been moved four inches to the left.

momma

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

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Presidential debates are tonight. For the third time in a row, I do not plan to watch. Like many other Americans humans, I’ve had enough of all of it. Nothing either candidate says or does will influence me at this point. There will be chatter about our Forefathers, our Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. And being Independent is exactly what I plan on doing. (Maybe I’m referring to my vote, maybe I’m referring to my plans for tonight – take it as you like.)

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The pursuit of Happiness – a God given unalienable right.

While many people are busy arguing Gun Control vs The Right to Bear Arms, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” vs extreme vetting, telling your Facebook adversary to “shut up” vs The Freedom of Speech, Banning Sharia Law vs Freedom of Religion, media censorship vs Freedom of the Press, yada yada yada, they seem to be overlooking the pursuit of Happiness. I find it notable that the words Rights, Creator, Life, Liberty, and Happiness are all capitalized in the Declaration of Independence. (It’s not like Jefferson had the option to use “bold” or “italics” to emphasize importance.)

There are certainly things in life we MUST do that we aren’t exactly happy about (washing the dishes, for example) the idea is – happiness is a choice. You can be miserable that you’re getting dish-pan hands, touching the slobber on your Corelle Livingware Mosaic Red dinner plate after your 5 year-old son licked the ketchup clean off of it, or you can CHOOSE to be happy that your kitchen will be clean when you are done. You simply make a choice. Start with the little things. Find joy in the scent that follows you after you’ve brushed by a rosemary bush, delight in the hidden soundtrack on the new CD you bought, be pleased in finding the rogue onion ring that turned up in your order of fries. Once you’ve made the decision to find the upside, bright side, and silver linings in the simple things, finding it in the bigger picture becomes habit. Do you hear me?
Happiness will become a habit.

Donald Trump does not make me happy. Hillary Clinton does not make me happy. You know what does make me happy?
– Getting my butt kicked at wii-golf by my grandson.
– Playing patty-cake with Olive for the zillionth time today.
– Watching my 44 year-old husband and his friends have an “old man skate session” at the skate park.
– Taking a hot shower, shaving my legs, putting on my favorite nightgown, and getting in a bed with freshly laundered sheets whilst reading a novel from my favorite author.
– Literally anything that doesn’t have e-mail scandals, pussy grabbing, or is associated with Trump or Clinton.

These are some of the many things I will be doing during the debates tonight. Whether you watch the debates or not, that is your choice, but for the love of God, please practice your unalienable right to pursue Happiness.

happy

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Sensible Shoes

We awoke dark and early (thanks, Olive.) By the time I changed her diaper, brewed coffee, fed her a healthy breakfast of leftover crab dip and Ritz crackers, bathed and got us dressed, we were ready to leave the house by 7 am. We ended up watching Monsters, Inc (twice) before actually heading out. 

There were a couple of yard sale stops and I found a book by my favorite author. I was inspired. Jose got us tacos from Granzin’s and my grumbling belly thanked him. We arrived at Black Dog Spa in time for him to greet the pet parents dropping off. I loaded up Ollie in the stroller and headed downtown to the Farmer’s Market. On the way there, we stopped at a Pumpkin Patch. She made friends with the scarecrow and we continued our journey.

Fifty feet later, my left flip-flop had a blow-out. Awesome. I debated calling Jose to come pick us up, but I’m not a quitter. Rummaging around in my purse, I managed to come up with a band-aid (because I’m a prepared Mom like that.) I “fixed” the flop and we were off again.

The Market proved to be rather boring. Somehow, shopping for fresh carrots and butternut squash isn’t nearly as exciting as one would think.  We (I) decided to stop at the Phoenix Saloon for a diaper change and a Lone Star. We drank our respective bottles and headed back to the shop.

Jose was done and with plenty of sunshine left in the day, we decided a river trip was in order. Within five minutes of setting up our blanket and slathering Olive in sunscreen, Jose jumped up, dove in the river fully-clothed, and frantically swam to save a 3 year-old little girl getting swept away in the current after her dad thought it was a good idea to take her down the tube chute in a kayak, where it promptly flipped over. She was (thankfully) wearing an adorable tiny life-vest with a shark fin on the back. After checking on the visibly shaken family, Jose returned to our blanket to dry out. There were no other notable incidents with the minor exception of a twenty-something gal who laid claim to a Ziplock freezer bag full of Dorito’s found floating in the river. She swore she wasn’t stoned. Surreeeee.

We packed up things and decided to call it a day, stopping at HEB for three items needed for dinner. I opted to stay in the car with Olive while Jose ran in “real quick.” Twenty minutes later, I noticed a lady with a basket full of groceries and a fussy toddler prancing around on tip-toes with her arm extended above her head, clicking her key-chain in a desperate attempt to locate her car. Feeling her pain and wanting to help, I climbed out the open window Dukes of Hazzard style, barefoot and bikini-clad on to the top of the Mitzu. (In retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t just open the door.)
“What kind of car do you drive?” I hollered to her. She turned and looked at me horrified. I probably should’ve told her I was trying to help, but I realize now that I must’ve looked like a lunatic up there. She ran in the other direction.
I noticed everyone in the parking lot was staring at me so I slinked down the side of the car, scraping my fanny on the side-view mirror. My shoeless feet hit the hot pavement, as well as a gooey piece of spit out bubble gum. I uses a wet wipe to clean myself up and get back in the car. Olive was giggling in the back seat. Just as I hid the evidence in the bottom of the diaper bag, Jose got back to the car. I resisted the urge to ask what took him so long.

We tag teamed dinner, making tamales, rice, and beans. Olive ate all the beans. After dinner, we finally settled down on the sofa to watch Swiss Army Man. I made it through the trailers, making a mental note to pick up The Lobster from Red Box before dozing off. The next thing I knew, Jose was telling me to go get in bed. The credits were rolling.

Today, as we’re prepare to head to the Flea Market, packing sunscreen and extra band-aids, we wonder if there will be any toddler-saving or top-of-the Mitzu frantic waving. I’ve decided to ditch the flops and don some sensible flats. 

Posted in Community, Culture, Home, Personal, Relationships

Sandy Sandy Night

Thursdays are generally chaotic for us, so when we were asked to join a co-ed sand volleyball league on Thursday evenings, we gladly accepted. In our minds, it would be a fun way to let loose after a tumultuous day at work. My husband closes his business at 6:00 pm and our first game starts at 6:45 pm, not leaving us much time to get home, change clothes, grab dinner, get the baby ready, and head out the door. It’s always pandemonium.
Wednesday evening, my husband went for a skate sesh with his buddy Reagan. Several hours later when he limped through the door, his ankle looked like it swallowed a soft ball. Apparently the skate wheels weren’t the only thing that rolled that night.
His contribution to the game would be in question.

We left Black Dog Pet Spa at precisely 6 o’clock and went straight home. We were ecstatic to find that my daughter Dallas had made dinner for everyone! One less thing to worry about. After a mad rush of clothes changing, diaper changing, and face stuffing, we scrambled to the car and left for Landa Park. Upon arrival, I swiftly kicked off my flip-flops, cracked open a cold one, and sunk my toes in the sand. It was glorious. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but let’s just that by the time we finished our last game Jose’s ankle looked like it belonged to the Elephant Man and my right arm was burning from my shoulder down to my elbow nearly necessitating a sling. That being said, our team “The Sand Eaters” crushed it. We packed up our things and left the park triumphant.

In the car, my husband had the familiar gleam in his eye and I instinctively knew what was coming. With a presumptuous side grin, he voiced the desire to go have a few celebratory Lone Stars at our favorite watering hole – The Phoenix Saloon. Thursday Night Football was on the big screen and karaoke was happening on the small stage. He wasn’t ready to let go of the high we had from winning. We hobbled in the house appearing more wrecked than the bench players on my Fantasy Football team. (I’m looking at you Ertz, Rawls, Langford, and Walker.) I sheepishly asked Dally if she would mind watching Olive for a couple of hours and without hesitation, she said yes. Jose was ready to skedaddle, no time for a shower, so I said F-You to the Fashion Police, threw on my staple white sundress after Labor Day, and brushed sand from parts of my body that you should never have sand in.

Jose’s ankle injury seemed to have magically healed itself as I’m almost certain he skipped through the doors of The Phoenix. Our favorite bartender Mario greeted us with handshakes and Tall Boys. We felt good. A couple of friends walked in and joined us at the bar. While Jose was on stage singing “Never Tear Us Apart,” (making me weak in the knees) our friend emerged from the ladies room looking crestfallen. She immediately relayed to me that she overheard a gaggle of girls saying nasty, horrible, racist things about us while powdering their noses. Jesus Christ on a cracker!

(In my best southern drawl) Well, bless their pea-pickin’ little hearts. I might be able to turn the other cheek, but if Jose caught wind of this he might could cancel their birth certificates. No sooner did he get off stage than he saw the hurt in my eyes and asked what had happened. Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie so I spilled the beans. He surveilled the crowd, looking for the snakes in the grass. There were a ton of females there, many of whom appeared to have just left some sort of women’s only tacky prom dress party (but I ain’t judgin’, I swear it!) so it was difficult to identify the culprits.

In true Jose and Liz fashion, we retaliated in the most mature way we could think of – by getting on stage and delivering the most epic and Castelanish rendition of “You’re The One That I Want” (I was Sandy) ever sang in a karaoke bar. Or maybe not. Either way, we refused to let the lint lickers get the best of us and in doing so, we had a very sandy, very splendid evening.

 

Like sands through the hour glass, these are the days of our lives.

sandy

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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.