Thursday, March 31, 2005

Journeys Posted by Hello

It's almost too easy...

I love to travel. Since I was 13 years old, I have been saving money all year and going on summer mission trips to foreign countries, mostly in central America, and one big one to Africa when I was 19. On our honeymoon, we took a "road trip" up the East Coast, since I'd never been to that part of the U.S. I've gotten to visit much of the U.S., and there's still a lot to be seen.

A friend linked me to a website where you can fill in all the states you've been to, and then you get a map with all of your "visited" states in red and the "to be visited" states white. It was so fun to see the map fill up with red. It was the white states that bothered me. There is so much to be seen. My vision for my family for so long was to make as much money as we could, pay off debts, get a house, buy things that make me happy like furniture and toys and cars..blah blah blah. Try to "consume" our way to happiness. That's what the president suggested, isn't it? Go out there and buy stuff and build America up again.

I'm slowly discovering, that this is no longer my big dream. I want to see the world. I want to show my children all of my favorite places, and make new memories with my husband in some of his favorite spots. I want to visit Oregon, Dustin's favorite state. The details in which he described the boat docks in the morning, the detail in the sky, the beauty of the people he met...Oregon must be seen. I want to visit Vermont, especially in the Autumn. Autumn is my favorite season, and I can think of no other place that I would like to spend the season in than Vermont. I want to visit my family in Canada and California (again) and the Carolinas and Florida...

When talking to Dustin about this a few nights ago, it seemed so hopeless. We can't live off of credit cards. We have to find some job that would allow this travelling and still sustain us throughout the year. Dustin dreams big, he'll think of a way.

So last night, we're lying in bed and Dustin is talking about how much he loves running. He's on day #2 of his running adventures and he asks about some fun marathons he can enter. Of course, there's the annual run up the mountain, in our hometown in Arkansas. But other than that, he wants to train and compete. And then it hits him... we'll travel, he'll enter marathons, win the money and just do that for awhile. Two birds, one stone. I smile, at his little fantasy, my dreamer.

I tell him "Thank you. I can sleep easier tonight knowing we've got it all worked out. You just have to win, right?" It's almost too easy...

The JuJu Monster Posted by Hello

Bella Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

my cute kids on Bella's birthday Posted by Hello

*gratitude* March 30, 2005

1. taking a walk with Dustin and the kids around our neighborhood. Definitely taking my camera next time, the flowers are blooming everywhere and make a gorgeous backdrop for my cute kids!

2. I sent out a silly questionaire to some friends and received like 3 back today (and a couple yesterday) They're so silly and I never fill them out, but I will in the future, because getting them back is just too much fun!!

3. Starting 2 new books today, and loving them

4. somebody blocked my car in at the tortilla shop today, and 2 very nice policemen helped me get out.

5. I made it through the day without chocolate!!! That hasn't happened in a long time...although, it's not too late to send Dustin to the store...

My little colorful girl Posted by Hello

Random Movie Quote Fun

"There are two types of people in this world: those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't...My ex-wife LOVED him."

--Bob Wiley
"What About Bob"

I love this movie. Most of my family does too. When I younger, I would be lying on the couch and everytime my Dad walked into the room, something compelled him to drive his knee into my back, just like the scene from this movie where Bob Wiley is trying to administer the heimlich on Dr. Leo Marvin by throwing him on the couch and jumping on his childhood memories.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

oreos Posted by Hello

*gratitude* March 28, 2005

1. sick again, but Dustin saves the day. cooking, cleaning, watching kids, letting me sleep, he's a dream.

2. oreos, the only food, besides half an apple, that I could manage to eat today. It's the "chicken soup" of the chocolate obsessed.

3. my Annabelle, cute as can be, tantrums and all

4. the smell of taco soup for dinner, filled the house, and was the only thing (besides Juju's dirty diaper) that I could smell today.

5. Dustin ran today. He loves to run, but hasn't had the time or energy for it in a few years. It is something that makes him feel good and happy and I'm glad to see him do something that he loves (besides play guitar) after all this time.

Bella and Mommy Posted by Hello

the grass is always greener

For the past week and a half, lots of visitors have been at our apartment complex from out of town. They came in for Easter, because Mexico seems to take a 2 week Easter holiday. Most of these people are quite wealthy, they drive fancy cars, have nice homes (in multiple locations, apparently) designer clothing, shoes and hats and bags that match each outfit...I am envious.

I am inside my house, cleaning up messes my kids have made, in frumpy sweat pants and a workout shirt because i am overweight and need to head to the gym. My kids are running crazy, wiping their snotty noses and dirty fingers on the windows, staring out at the rich people lounging by the pool. I notice a few women, perfect bodies, children with their nanny (hate that family knows why, but I think au pair sounds a little uppity) on their cell phones in their bikinis w/ matching sarongs...looking so cute in their sun hats...i want to look cute in a sun hat...

A couple of nights ago, I venture outside (at night I am not forced to be seen in my swimsuit) to color easter eggs with a couple of neighbor children, although they all run to play with Annabelle and leave me alone with 2 of the mothers.

I talk to a woman, Elvira (pronounced like Velveeta without the first "v") She is so sweet. Speaks english, has one son, a husband, a nanny, a nice car and a very enviable camera. She is asking about my children. She loves my children, trying to talk to them each day that she sees them. She asks if I want more children. I smile and say, "Possibly, but not right now." For some reason I mention to her that I took a pregnancy test last week, because I was late and that's not like me, and I was feeling yuck. I told her that I was praying so desperately for it to be negative, and fortunately, it was.

She smiles. She says, "someday, when the time is right. You are very young, so young to have two babies already." I mention that I am 25, I just look younger. She thinks I am lucky...exactly what I was thinking about her as she lounged by the pool today. I ask her how many children she has. She only has the one, he is about 7 years old. She goes on to tell me that she has difficulty getting pregnant. With her son, she was on expensive medication before she got pregnant with him, and miscarried a second child shortly after he was born. She says, "We have decided, this year, we will try again. I will go back on the medication." She is 35.

I feel selfish. I never had to "try" for my children, they just came, when the time was right. Apparently I take after most of the fertile women in my family. My dad likes to joke that my brother CJ was born wearing a condom like a little hat. (sorry if that is indiscreet, but I think it is hilarious) Anyways, I don't know the heartache of losing a child that I desperately want. I don't know what it is like to have riches that still cannot buy the one thing that I desire, my child.

She envies me. Where I am seeing the money, the nice bodies, the fancy rich life and cameras, she sees the children, born to a young woman and man, fairly poor, but happy...full. She understands that the timing is not right for me, she sees me chase my kids from morning to night, trying to let them play, but keep them from the swimming pool, the driveway, other people's front doors and windows. She sees that I am tired. But yet, she still wants that.

I appreciate her openness with me, remember to say a prayer for her fertility tonight (she wants twins...I am praying harder) and another prayer of thankfulness, for my busy, chaotic, messy, but very very full life. I still would like the riches, but for now, I choose to be content.

Monday, March 28, 2005

chocolate chocolate chocolate Posted by Hello

chocolate bunnies and sugar meltdowns...

Easter has come and gone. We started the morning pretty laid back, bowl of oatmeal for each of sugar yet, it's too early and we (dustin and I ) stayed up too late the night before to deal with hyper kids.
Julian naps and after he wakes up, we eat tuna sandwiches. Julian loves tuna sandwiches, but he just nibbles around the edges...he smells the chocolate in the air...
I get Dustin to clean the kitchen, so when I take pictures we don't see dishes and dirty floors. Then I give the kids the bunnies. Julian eats the box for about 4 minutes before I get it open.

Bella waits as patiently as possible, but she's had these before, she knows the delicacy she's about to devour and hops from one foot to the other while I open hers...
They're in heaven. Bella delicately bites her bunny, savoring each chocolate morsel...knowing that when it's gone, it's gone. She shares a bite or two with me, she loves to let 0thers in on the fun.

Julian is devouring his. He's a rookie, and doesn't realize that he should enjoy each bite, because there are no seconds being given on this thing. Julian's is covered in drool, spit and snot. He tries to share with me, but I get grossed out easily. I politely take a tiny bite, wipe the spit off of it and swallow, trying to ignore the slimey chocolate sliding down my throat, or rather, what is on it to make it slimey...

After the bunnies are gone, Juju has a minor meltdown, he wants more...he ate the whole thing (although it was rather small) in under 7 minutes, and insists on more chocolate...his second nap will be coming soon.

Bella goes outside to play with friends and at one point I no longer see her. I ask Andres where she went and he pointed to her friend, Enrique's house. The house of sugar, as I call it. She comes back with something chocolate in her mouth and a handful of candy. I ask her to come inside. I need her to take a nap first, and then she can have one more candy. The tantrum begins...flailing arms and legs, shouting, was tough. In the end, I won and naps were taken. No candy was distributed after nap time...I was not up for "Round 2".

The nap went on forever, and it was too dark to hunt for easter eggs, so we just have them for dinner, along with some BBQ chicken, broccoli, and potatoes...we have to flush out the bad stuff with good stuff. Bella eats 3 helpings of broccoli. Detox begins...

Juju's first chocolate bunny Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 27, 2005

one of my favorite pictures ever!!!  Posted by Hello

bella wearing my boggin Posted by Hello

juicy lips, one of my favorite pics of Julian Posted by Hello

my Dustin Posted by Hello

*gratitude* March 26, 2005

1. watching my little girl play hide n seek with the kids tonight. It's amazing how she can't speak the language, but she didn't need to know Spanish to know how to play...childish games are so awesome like that. Anybody can play...

2. Celebrating small victories with my husband tonight. We went to a restaurant (rarely do that with the kids) and shared a very strange tasting hamburger and a bottle of Fanta...

3. Talking to my mama on the phone, discussing plans for tattoos and nose rings...someday...she's such a cool woman.

4. Discovering my Aunt's blog today. She's always been one of my favorite writers, ever since I started reading her annual Christmas letter from Canada, and now I can read her stuff all the times.

5. seeing that 4 random strangers commented on my blog today. I was so surprised/embarrassed/and honored all at the same time, that somebody would find my simple little life somewhat entertaining. I was walking on air all day...just ask Dustin!

Bella clutching her egg Posted by Hello

EGGS!!!  Posted by Hello

Dustin and Bella, painting eggs Posted by Hello

Easter Eggs

We painted easter eggs today. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. We have a ton of eggs in the fridge, and while I have no dye, i have a tub of acrylics in my bookshelf hutch thingy, so during Juju's nap, Bella and I played! I love to paint and so does Bella, so of course, the time flew. We saved the last one for Daddy to paint, and now, I'm so excited to hide them tomorrow (along with the chocolate bunnies) and watch Bella and Juju find them. I hope they're not let down by the fact that the insides aren't filled with chocolate...I know I sure am.
Here's some cutie pics of our eggs, and Bella's little green nose...she was a mess, and Dustin didn't help by painting her nose green. By the time we were finished with the eggs, she said, "Now let's paint Bella!!!"

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Juju's morning soy milk fix Posted by Hello

Gorgeous girl Posted by Hello

*gratitude* March 25, 2004

1. getting to go grocery shopping and to the market all by myself. who would have thought grocery shopping would be a relaxing thing? only when alone, i assure you...

2. the neighbor boys made another (bella sized) bracelet for Annabelle, it's so cute. And they made a pink one for me. Do you know how much I am loving the color pink lately? It's so strange.

3. Watching the kids play with the black puppy, and how cute Annabelle looked in her colorful outfit and bracelets today.

4. The way Julian attacks me with kisses when he wakes up from a nap.

5. one stinking gorgeous sunset.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A true gentleman Posted by Hello

Easter Longings...

I'm a little disappointed about Easter this year. No cute little Easter dress, or gentleman-ly hats for Juju, no egg hunts, no grandparents around to fill baskets with thoughtfully healthy surprises. (not the typical peeps and jelly beans and Milk Duds--rabbit turds, as my uncle used to call them. "Look what the Easter Bunny left for you, Rabbit Turds!!!")

Easter this year will consist of us watching "Winnie the Pooh and Springtime Roo" and eating our chocolate bunnies. We will, of course, make our Sunday evening trek to the Jardin, and that promises to be action packed, but otherwise, a little empty.

As a child, I have such fond memories of Easter. Some years, we would go to the egg hunt at the Hatfield Lion's Park and I would try so hard to find that money egg. Most of my Easters took place at my Mimi's house (as most things did). The adults would send us to the backroom while they hid the eggs. Usually, plastic, filled with mini chocolate eggs, and "Bunny Money", the chocolate coins with different easter animals on them. As we got older, we had to take 2 trips, the older kids (myself, my brother, and the Shreve children) and the young'uns (my sister, the Pinedas, and the Rose's, my cousin Misty, if she could weasel herself into the young group and get all the easily hidden eggs...oh that girl was slick...

After many peeks through the blinds to see where they were hiding them this year, we would line up at Mimi's patio door and wait for the okay...and then we were OFF!! We ran like crazy, trying not to knock down the babies as we dove under PaBob's broken down riding lawn mower, into Max's dog house, along the creek that ran through Mimi's backyard. Usually, some wiseguy would hide an egg in a very obvious place, like a high tree branch, which none of us could reach of course.

"I got that one, I saw it first!!"
"No you didn't, I saw it from the back door!"
"You were cheating! You're not supposed to look when they're hiding 'em!"
"I wasn't cheating, I saw it when the door opened"

and on and on and on...why do the grown ups do this? Don't they understand the torture of having something so close, yet not being able to reach it? Eventually, one of the monkey Shreve kids (Ben or Randy) would shimmy up the tree and get the egg, crack it open to find the typical chocolate coin and drop it non-chalantly into one of the little guys baskets.

The fun didn't stop there. Now it was OUR turn to hide the eggs, and send the grown ups to the back room. They usually only agreed if we shared our candy. We got creative.

"Let's hide this one UNDER Max's dog house. OOOOHHH, or we can bury it!! YEah, let's bury it!. HEy, do you think we can hide these INSIDE? THey'll never look there!!"

It was such fun. We tried to make the hunt last all day, but eventually, the adults would tire out, and we would be sent to play outside or into Mimi's back room to eat chocolate goodies for hours. Magical times...

I guess the worst part, is that even if we weren't in Mexico and were at home, things would still be so so different. The people who made those days so fun for us, have all moved on. My family is scattered all over the continent, with families of their traditions being created, eggs being hunted for in new yards. I was so blessed to have had such a wonderful, fun filled childhood. As a mother--one of the aforementioned "grown ups"-- I must strive to recreate some of those memories in a new form, with new characters and new traditions. So perhaps, this Sunday will consist of more than a movie and a chocolate bunny...who knows? Maybe the magic I experienced as a kid is still around, and if it may just show up in Mexico...

Here comes the do do doo do... Posted by Hello

Here comes the Sun

Dustin and I seemed to be at odds all day today. I hate days like that. Things are worked out now, as they usually are, but in the moment, things seemed so hopeless.

At one point, I went into the bathroom and there was a book that Dustin's been reading, "Each Day a NEW Beginning: daily meditations for women" (i made fun of him for buying it, b/c it's for women, but it's actually really good) I opened it up to the page he had bookmarked and it just really spoke to me.

The opening quote was by Edna O'Brien. "Bad moments, like good ones, tend to be grouped together."

so so true...i read on...

"Rough times may be pouring in on us at the moment and they may seem unending. Difficulties appear to attract more difficulties, problems with loved ones, problems at work, problems with our appearance. A negative attitude, something that we all struggle with at times (some of us more than others), is the culprit.

When the good times come, as they always do, they are accompanied by a positive attitude. We do find what we look for.

Our attitude is crucial. It determines our experiences. A trying situation can be tolerated with relative ease when we have a positive, trusting attitude. We forget, generally, that we have an inner source of strength to meet every situation. We forget the simple truth--all is well, at this moment, and at every moment. When the moments feel good, our presence is light, cheery. When the moments are heavy, so are we.

I can turn my day around. I can change the flavor of today's experiences. I can lift my spirits and know all is well."

In an instant, I knew that I was at fault. Not for everything, but for my attitude. I had a dreary, woe is me, I'm so mistreated attitude, and that doesn't help resolve anything. I focused more on myself than on the fact that I am in love with this man and together we can overcome anything.

For the past several days, I have been noticing post-its stuck to random places, all saying one thing, "All is Well" in Dustin's scribble. He's working on his attitude. He's trying to change, to grow, to move forward. I don't want to be left behind. I don't want to be the reason that we're still fighting over the same crap that we fought about in our first year together. It starts with me...and today I choose to see good know that all IS well...

After I wrote this, I uploaded some pictures from today onto my computer and loved this one of Annabelle, looking up into the sky. Immediately, the words to that song popped into my head and haven't left.

"Here comes the sun, do do do doo do, here comes the sun. It's alright, it's alright..."

New bracelet Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

*gratitude* March 24, 2005

1. Annabelle's new bracelet (two neighbor boys set up a table and made beaded bracelets all day, and sent one to Annabelle, she's quite proud of it)

2. Dustin took Juju to the park again, and I got a great nap.

3. Talking to new neighbor lady that actually speaks English! She was so so kind to me (but will only be here for one more week, she's one of the Easter visitors)

4. Julian woke up from his nap in a DELIGHTFUL much easier when he's like that.

5. The gym was completely empty today, so no waiting in line!

27 bees

I woke up this morning to Julian in the baby bed, pants off, trying to climb over the top. I pick him up, grab a cup of soy milk and lie down on the couch with him...our morning snuggle time. And then I hear it...buzzzz buzzzz buzzzzzzz....

um...a bee? I hop up, swat the bee that is trapped between the drapes in the kitchen window, and go back to Julian....buzzzz buzzzzzz buzzzzzzzzzzz

another bee? make my way to the other kitchen window/door, open it and let the bee outside. buzzzzzzz

by this time, I'm a little suspicious. I send the kids to Dustin, who is half-asleep and can't open his eyes, and continue the bee battle. 3,4,5 all the way to 27 before I lose count. 27 bees, in windows, light fixtures, the bathroom. I flush some, sweep some into a dust pan, let some free outside, all the while trying to keep Dustin and the kids from harm. It was quite exhilarating, yet frustrating at the same time, since I can't find their nest.

Dustin is getting angry, because if there are so many bees, then a man should be killing them and I should be watching the kids. I call him sexist and continue the battle. He really doesn't believe that, he is just tired of trying to keep Julian confined to a small space while I kill bees.

The battle is over for now. I'm exhausted. The kids are napping. I need a break, but the worst part is that I know it's not really over...I still hear the constant buzzz buzzzzz buzzzzzzz'ing, I just can't find the little things. Oh well, I'll take my break and let a MAN handle the bees from now on.

play-doh Posted by Hello


I was one of those kids that wanted to grow up too fast. I truly believed that I was an exceptionally mature 10 year old. "I'm a ten-ager" I used to tell my mom. All of my childhood play involved me being 16 years old, because then I could drive and do other adult things (innocent, of course. things like go to Pizza Hut with my friends by myself)

I was fortunate enough to grow up within a "village" family. My dad has 3 sisters, and each of them lived in the same small town that I did for several years, along with my grandparents. I remember getting together at my mimi's house all the time, in my head I remember it on Sundays most often. The adults would talk and talk while we ate, assuming most of the time that all of us children were eating or minding our own business. But I was eavesdropping. My cousin, Randy, and I were usually lying quietly under a coffee table or piano bench to hear all the adult conversation. Within a few minutes, somebody would notice and "send the kids" outside to play or to the backroom to watch Nickelodeon or something equally stimulating, like folding one of the smaller kids up in the hide-away bed. Of course, my oldest cousin, Jeff (the brains of the operation) would pretend to fall asleep within minutes of lunch and as a result, was never sent outside.

Anyways, I feel that I focused too much on growing up, instead of delighting in the carefree days of childhood. Annabelle and Julian are helping me to rediscover those days. Play-doh. The smell, the color, the tiny little containers. Play-doh was one of my favorite play things as a child. Most of the time, my mom was willing to buy it for me, but after a few too many stained carpets, it was bought less and less. She always thought we ruined it too quickly, for within hours, it was no longer vibrant reds and greens and blues, but every container was the same shade of dark blue/brown. You know, the color that you get when you mix all the colors together.

Annabelle doesn't get to play with it often enough. At first, it was because my sense of order didn't want the colors mixed. Then, it was because Julian would smear it everywhere. Or what if she eats it? (it's smell is very enticing) And then, today, I picked up a dark blue blob of the salty doh, and inhaled. Memories flooded my mind of old houses I lived in, carpets I had stained, play-doh people I had created (along with my messy brother). I loved it. Annabelle loved that I played with her. I realized that I have an opportunity to re-live my childhood through my children. Enjoy books that have long been sold in yard-sales. Buy toys that I could never have because of expense or mess-factor or toy excess. Play wildly in sprinklers and swimming pools. I've decided that Juju's nap time is a perfect play-doh time for Bella. And I have also decided that Bella's bed time is a perfect play-doh time for mama...

Bella's sad spider

Tonight, Annabelle was running laps around the living room, approx 10:40 pm. She says, "i gotta do some runnin, so I can go to sleep". When the kids are overly hyper, we take them to the park or the Jardin or just outside so they can "run off some energy" and sleep easier. Apparently she is picking up on this technique.

So, I know she is going to be difficult to get to bed. We're on my bed and I tell her "one minute of laying in Mommy's bed and then we're off to your bed." This buys me some time to get her to calm down. Only she's not calming down. She's hanging from my neck. She's climbing on the bookshelf. She's jumping on my bed. After the 3rd time that I tell her to lay down, she picks up her mini-doodle pro, and starts coloring.

She holds up a picture of a spider, only it has a frown face. She never draws frown faces. In her saddest voice, she says, "Mama, this is a spider. He is sad because he thinks you aren't gonna give him ni-night kisses."

Ooooh...she nailed me. She saw a weak spot and went for it. I cuddled her in my bed, for longer than one minute, smooched her with plenty of ni-night kisses (and the spider too) and getting her to bed took about 15 seconds after that. It's so much easier on me when I am patient...why don't I remember this every night? She is a wonderful teacher. Below is a picture of the sad spider...I couldn't resist.

Bella's sad spider Posted by Hello

sloppy kisses Posted by Hello

*gratitude* March 23, 2005

1. swimming with Annabelle again. Julian pouts at the door for about 2 minutes, before Dustin scoops him up and takes him to the park to play. Annabelle declares, "Hey, they're having a "boys-day-out!" Also, when we're sitting in the hot tub, Bella says, "mama, is this like takin a shower?" and I say, "kind of , but no soap." She says, "Yeah, and I'm not gonna let them see my naked butt!" Smartest kid in the world.

2. I leave to go to the grocery store, and return to Juju's slobbery kisses. He grabs my face and kisses me so hard, I can't breathe. He was so excited to see me, even if gone for only 30 minutes!

3. playing pool games with the mexican neighbors. "Frio, Tibido, CALIENTE!!!!" (the game where you throw a small object-a rock in our case- under water and the rest have to find it) (Cold, warm, HOT!!!) Bella and I were so proud to use our spanish words!! Kids have a way of not making you feel stupid when speaking a foreign tongue, I guess, because they are still learning much of it themselves.

4. Reading to the kids while Dustin made dinner. They LOVE books, and I love that.

5. Talking to my parents on the phone. Bella was in an indepth conversation about her day, when she says, "I gotta pee", drops the phone, and runs to the bathroom. I could hear the laughter over the phone while it was still on the ground!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pollo Feliz Posted by Hello