Friday, April 29, 2011

This Moment...

Joining SouleMama...
"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Big brother, lil' sister...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

This weekend we:

Made strawberry jelly…

Imagined ourselves superheroes…

Enjoyed a delicious bowl of ramen made by Julian…

Created a menu for our “fancy” Easter brunch…

And napkin holders…

And place cards…

Dipped a lot of strawberries in yummy chocolate (and licked our fingers, of course)…

Harvested oregano from our garden…

Set a beautiful table for Easter brunch…

And shared a delicious homemade meal with our loved ones…

Acted silly…


And hit the jackpot!

Hope you all had a terrific weekend!

Linking with Amanda (a little late) for weekending.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Moment...

Joining SouleMama...
"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

In honor of Earth Day...

Disconnecting to Connect

As a wife and full-time working mother of two I often feel there are not enough hours in my day to meet the needs of my nuclear family, let alone tend to my roles of daughter, step-daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, and friend. I have let relationships fall by the wayside on several occasions and later lived to regret it. And yet, the thought of taking precious time away from my children (of which there is little to go around already) is not something I will even allow myself to entertain. So many times I have told myself that this is just a season in my life, that my children will grow up and not need me as much, that when I am older and they are grown I will have more time for myself and other relationships. But at what expense?

 We are all concerned with the daily grind, as my dad calls it. The appointments and chores, the planning and executing, the calendars and reminders. However, it is relationships that make life. All that other stuff is just what we do in between. Unfortunately, so many of us spend so much time focusing on the in between that we lose sight of our true purpose. We attempt to organize and micromanage our lives instead of cultivating our relationships. We spend more and more time updating our Facebook statuses than talking with those we love. In very many ways, I feel we are losing our humanity, the thing that makes us alive and connects us to our natural world.

I started this blog on a whim. I had blogged before, when I first started Grad school. Back then I did it more to release stress and empty my mind of all the sociological concepts I was learning. It became a sounding board of ideas of sorts. I wrote blogs about the application of sociological theory to real life circumstances. I riled against in justices. I questioned love, marriage, children, death, and my purpose here on Earth. Eventually, my graduate work became my focus and I fizzled out on blogging.

I finished the M.A. eventually which freed me up to write again, but by then I was consumed by the Facebook phenomena. I was connecting with friends and family I had not heard from in a long time and I was busy catching up and staying current. I began posting statuses throughout the day…not the meaningless “I’m eating breakfast now” statuses, but little bits about my family or my day I felt were a little more unique. The more I posted the more I realized that I missed writing and soon that little status box didn’t seem quite big enough to fit all of the thoughts running through my head.

Then several months ago, my friend Danielle started her own blog Mama and the Music Man (go check it out…it’s awesome!). I was hooked on day one and began to anxiously await her next post. Then one day, I noticed her blog roll and began clicking away, and hit the jackpot! I discovered there is a whole blog universe out there of Moms, just like me, who are raising kids, laughing, living, and loving, and trying to embrace the simple pleasures. I knew right away I had to join in! At first I wasn’t sure I could find anything to write about. What could I possibly have to say? But over the past few months of writing and reading I have learned to look at my life differently, and I have learned that when we pause to reflect on the everyday, we find many things worth mentioning and many images worth capturing.

This weekend I plan to seriously downsize my Facebook account. I have decided that, at this stage in my life, the quality of my relationships is more important than the number of friends on my friend list. I will continue to use Facebook to keep in touch with special friends and family who are spread out all over the globe, but I will no longer be limiting myself to the 400 characters or less status box. Starting this blog has helped me realize that I have things to say. It is my hope that this blog will allow me to make connections with others who want to listen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Invitation for Wishing

By Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wishers, a liar, 
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

This weekend we made wish boxes. I got the idea from this book that I found quite by accident as I was buying another book which SouleMama wrote about in this post.

A wish box is place to drop your wishes no matter how impossible they may seem. The idea is that once you write them down they become real and there is a greater likelihood that they will come true. I think we can all remember a time when we wished on a shooting star or stood in front of a water fountain, penny in hand and eyes tightly clenched as wished the most secret of all wishes. However, as we grow older we allow the voice of our mature rational and practical selves to silence our innermost desires.

There is a saying in Spanish:

“SoƱar no cuesta nada.”

It translates to: Dreaming does not cost anything. Except for maybe a penny or two now and again. So why not give free reign to our dreams and wishes? I figure if I can help my children learn this at an early age they will always be dreamers and wishers and not let rationality and practicality stand in the way of what they truly want.

Isabella and I have started putting wishes in our wish boxes every night before bed. I see the deep concentration on her face as she writes down her wishes and the complete faith in the possibilities when she drops each wish into her box. I have to say, it also feels quite liberating as I drop in my own wishes. There is a great peace in knowing I have turned my wishes into the care of the universe. And who know? Maybe someday…

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Moment...

Joining Soulemama...

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

My family...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday Blessings

Since I devoted a whole post to Saturday, I figured I should devote one to Sunday too as it was a marvelous day! I had been wanting to get to the Great Park Farmers Market in Irvine for a few weeks and hadn’t been able to. We finally made it on Sunday, albeit a bit late. It was wonderful! I wasn’t super impressed with the produce stands. I was expecting a bit more variety…but it seems everyone has apples and oranges this time of year. Oh, and strawberries, lots of strawberries! What I did love were all the craft booths and the food trucks. Yum! The park is also very nice. We didn’t make it on the Great Balloon…

But Bella and I did manage to get on the carousel.

I also decided to invest in some fresh herbs to plant in our garden (more on that in a sec). We stocked up on food from various food truck vendors and sat at the picnic tables to enjoy our lunch.

The Mediterranean chicken plate was scrumptious!

And the fries with fire feta dip from the Louks Greek Food Truck were to die for!

We also tried the Calbi Food Truck. Julian had a burrito and Luis tried the tacos.

Safe to say we will definitely be going back!!

When we got back home Bella and I got to work planting our garden. We filled out planters with soil (I think I bought the wrong soil, so my fingers are crossed)…

 Then we got to transplanting all of our seedlings and the new herb plants we bought at Farmers Market.

Not all the seedlings worked out. Not sure where I went wrong, but like Luis told me, this is a learning process. I really need to invest in a good gardening book that specializes in container gardening. I welcome any recommendations. Anyhow, we planted peas and carrots from our seedlings and we planted basil, thyme, and oregano from Farmers Market.

By the time the sun set I was exhausted and sore all over, but every time I look out onto our patio it all feels worth it. I hope to actually eat the fruits (or vegetables and herbs, as the case may be) of my labor soon.

So I would say we had a pretty good weekend. A pretty good weekend, indeed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fancy is Always Better

Saturdays are difficult. With Luis at school all day and Julian in his own teenage world, I often feel like a single mother of one trying to juggle house chores, errands, social commitments, and keeping my 7-year old entertained. This Saturday was no exception. After two weeks of remodeling and despite my best efforts, my house was a grimy mess. The thin film of dust over everything was driving me crazy. We had an invitation for an outdoor birthday party in 53 degree weather. I had several errands that needed attention. AND we had my mother-in-laws birthday to contend with. It’s a good thing I’ve decided to live in the moment and not over plan!

I realized rather quickly that I was going to need to prioritize and possibly take some things off calendar if I was going to survive. The weather pretty much resolved the birthday party for me (send an apology and a gift), the errands were wheedled down to grocery store and tailor (both in the same shopping center and around the corner of my house), we extended a dinner invitation to my mother-in-law to celebrate her birthday (I had planned on cooking anyway so one more for dinner wasn’t an issue), and I decided to concentrate on the downstairs cleaning and leave the upstairs for another day. Crisis averted. Or so I thought.
There was one little 7-year-old snag in my plan. The meltdown started early when I informed my usually cheerful daughter that she had to get dressed so we could go to the grocery store. I set out some jeans and a shirt for her while I threw on some sweats. “Why can’t I have soft pants too!” I guess I forgot to mention that my dirty laundry had reached new heights by Saturday…all her “soft pants” were dirty.

Meltdown #2 came just after we arrived home from our errands. “Can I watch TV?”

Now, I have to explain the TV situation in my home. As much as we hate TV (we only have one TV in our entire household), Isabella watches way too much of it. I know…it’s our fault…and we realized that the only way to enforce No TV was to have No TV…so we just recently canceled our cable, and seeing as we don’t have an antenna, we have NO TV!! We still do have movies and instant streaming on Netflix, but we have found that it is much easier to monitor these than unlimited Nickelodeon and Disney, all day every day.
Back to Saturday…I informed my sweet girl that no, she couldn’t watch TV; that she needed to find another way to occupy her time.

“Can I play on the computer?”

Meltdown #3.

I suggested she could play with her dolls, or color, or make a craft, or play dress up, or write in her journal, or practice on her sewing machine, or listen to music, or read a book. She decided sulking would be much more fun. After watching her sulk for about 10 minutes, I started to feel guilty. I really hate to see her bored and unhappy, but I knew that I couldn’t give in to the draw of technology and unfortunately it wasn’t a day I could drop everything and play. Then an idea popped into my head. Fancy dinner!

Here again I must pause to explain the fancy dinner phenomenon. Every once in a while on the weekend when I cook a big meal, Isabella spruces things up by making menus, table centerpieces, napkin holders, placemats, etc. She sets the table with all her homemade touches, I try to make sure all the dishes match, we use our nice serving platters, and we have a “fancy” dinner. We sometimes light candles and we almost always have a little Pink Martini playing in the background. It makes an ordinary event extraordinary and everyone enjoys it…even the boys :)

So on this frenzied Saturday of long To-Do list for me and a boring afternoon for her, I suggested Isabella prepare a fancy dinner for her grandma’s birthday. She shot right off the couch, a smile a mile wide on her face, and went to work. She typed up a menu that I had written on a sheet of scratch paper, which took her a considerable amount of time seeing as she is a two-finger typer. She used construction paper as a base a glued on the typed-up menus.

Then she made napkin holders and place cards (also out of construction paper), and when it was time she set this beautiful table.

This was all her. I only set the stack of dishes and flatware on the table and she took care of the rest.

All in all it was a great day. We had a few hiccups along the way, but we got through them. When grandma arrived she was amazed and delighted! We had a fabulous dinner made even more special by Isabella’s creative and detailed handiwork…and, of course, Pink Martini playing in the background!

Friday, April 8, 2011

This Moment...

Joining Soulemama...

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Nature's reminder...

Monday, April 4, 2011

More Days Like These

I woke up Friday morning with the idea for a food post.  I was planning on trying out a new place in Orange County and wanted to share it with all of you.  I left the house, camera in tow, ready to document my culinary adventure.  Destination: Bruxie in the City of Orange.  It’s a small street stand that sells gourmet waffle sandwiches and it is divine!  We (Luis, my better half, came along on this adventure) had bacon, egg, and cheddar waffle sandwiches…

and we shared the lemon cream and berries for dessert. YUM!

After stuffing our faces, we decided to walk around downtown Orange and visit the antique shops.  This was completely unexpected, as Luis usually spends his Friday’s off catching up with school work.  We spent a leisurely morning/early afternoon strolling through this quaint downtown area, enjoying each other’s company and the laziness of the day.  No pressure to be anywhere or do anything.  After picking up the kids from school, we grabbed a quick bite and spent the evening enjoying coffee, cupcakes, and conversation with friends.

Just as a quick aside…we “bumped into” The Perfect Circle Cupcakery while in downtown Orange.  Hands down the best cupcakes I’ve had so far.  Here’s a picture of our bounty…

Back to my weekend…Saturday found Luis in school and me with a grimy house.  The bathroom remodeling is wrecking havoc with my clean-freak tendencies.  I knew I needed to get a handle on it or face three days of non-stop cleaning when it’s all over.  I decided to tackle the house early and with a vengeance.  By noon I was free to enjoy the rest of my weekend in a dust free house.  The kids and I went shopping for our garden supplies.  (The seedlings are ready to be transplanted I think).  Then in the evening, we saw a stage production of Beauty and the Beast at Julian’s high school.  It was amazing!!  These kids are super talented and Isabella was over the moon.

Sunday was a much calmer day.  Our highlight was meeting the newest addition to our extended family, our niece, Jasmine.  She is a few days shy of one month and the tiniest little thing.  I spent our whole visit holding her and, although both Luis and I are firm on the fact that we are done growing our family, it was heavenly to hold this little bundle of new life for a bit. 

So although I started out the weekend with only one goal - food blog on Bruxie - as Friday passed, and Saturday came around, and Sunday rolled by, I realized I had way more to share about my wonderful weekend than just a new eating spot.  I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable weekends I have had in a long time.  Although we were pretty busy, it felt effortless, and it has left a wonderful feeling of contentment that has sustained me through this Monday.  This weekend was, to me, the perfect example of how life doesn’t need to full of pre-planned action-packed activities to be exciting or fulfilling.  That more often than not, if we just go with the flow and embrace life with an open mind, we may just discover the most exciting and fulfilling moments of all.  

Happy Monday!