Monday, December 21, 2009

Longing for a Traditional Christmas

It's true: I only devote the very last smidgen of brain cells to writing the posts in this blog. That is all you get. That and sometimes cute pictures. Now...
When I was a kid we spent 95% of our Christmas Days at my maternal grandmother's mobile home in Chatsworth, CA. It wasn't a tacky mobile home park like the stereotype would have you think; it was pretty, well-organized and well-preserved, kinda like Grandma, herself, when she was alive, at least. Gosh, she's been dead for almost 12 years! She passed away at the young age of 70, right before my 20th birthday. She didn't deserve to die like that, from Cancer, I mean. Isn't it strange, for lack of a better word, when someone who has lived a healthy, low-salt, low-cholesterol, low-fat life, dies a horrible death like that? I don't understand.
I am thinking of those old Christmasses. I miss them very much. Back then I took it for granted that it would always be that way. The adults had their table and the kids (me, my siblings and cousins) had their table. The adults drank boxed wine and maybe some had whiskey with 7-up. After dinner the kids would retreat to the guest bedroom where grandma kept a few toys for us to play with and we'd laugh up a storm the rest of the day/night. Of course after we opened presents we'd have a lot more to play with and when that was out of the way the adults would gather around the table again for all kinds of card games and more drinking, which made for lots of funny noises us kids would laugh at from the other room. "Shh--Listen! Our parents are so dumb when they're drunk! HAhahaha....!" When it came time to leave, I'm sure we cried and tried to sneak into each others' cars to go home with our cousins instead of plain-home. And it was always a kind of slap in the face how ready our parents were to get the Hell out of there when the night came to an end--they'd had enough, which I now understand as I have wild children of my own and I, too, am older and less spirited, just like those adults seemed to me back then.
We were Catholic and Scotch-Irish-English. That's how it went down. And we loved it.
Another slap in the face was going home to our dachsunds having gotten their revenge for being left home alone--our new Christmas gifts were sometimes chewed to shreds or at least slightly mangled. Thinking back on this is comedy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Potluck Last Night

That picture is my new favorite snapshot of the girls. Those dresses were given to them by my dad's wife, aka, Grandma Debbie :)
Our friends a few blocks away threw a fantastic Christmas party last night, complete with games for the children, a table full of potluck goodies, craft activities, cookie and cupcake decorating station and even Santa himself paid a visit. Raquel was thrilled to see Santa. Maxine was frightened of him. He gave presents to all the children and eventually made an exit through the sliding glass door at the back of the house.
I made two trays of different open face sandwiches inspired by Smørrebrød or smörgås of Scandinavia and one tray of shortbread topped with cream cheese and sweet things. It took several hours of work and my neck is killing me today because of it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Rudolph was on tv last night! We pigged out on doughnuts and milk and enjoyed the show together. I have always loved this tv special.
Before the show, I took Raquel to Payless to get a new pair of shoes for school. She had received a special gift card from her school--many more fortunate people donate food baskets and gift cards for the less fortunate students at her school--Raquel has been designated as one such student. We have also received tons of groceries in the past week. All of these donations were a HUGE surprise to us. I didn't know they knew we needed it! Jose and I can't believe how much food we received. It filled our pantry! Writing this and thinking about how much people care really makes my eyes wet. It has given Jose and I one less thing to worry about but not only that--the feeling of joyfulness just makes everything better.
Then I woke up this morning with a somewhat mysterious burst of positivity. It carried through all day and into my evening class. I had to give a short presentation. Just yesterday I was worried about it but this sudden confidence made it a snap. I felt like a different Me because I just wasn't nervous. And guess who got to be the first one to present? :)
Two weeks from today this semester will be history. And a week after that is Christmas. It's gonna be a good one. I am feeling joyful.
Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Holidays are Very Different This Year

Usually I'd already be in the swing of the holidays. I would have already asked Jose to bring up the boxes of decor and lights from the basement. I would have already baked and stored 5 different recipes of cookies in my freezer. I would have already planned what presents to give out. I would also be ready to embrace the season and the revival of warm memories of holidays passed. Things are different this year. Who would have thought a little adjustment to my schedule and priorities could have such a dramatic effect on my life?
Of course, I'm talking about COLLEGE. A year ago I had just quit my job as a barista to stay home and raise my kids full-time. I wasn't in school or even thinking about going to school. One year later, here I am with text books, extensive writing assignments, the responsibility of group research with a 20-minute presentation, another presentation on some volunteer work I did, finals to study for, a kid in kindergarten who cannot read her own homework instructions yet and then all the other extra-curricular stuff like a baby, a husband and a house. Oh, and myself! HAhahaha, that's funny.
Last Thursday in my art history class all of us students were asked to participate in an anonymous evaluation of our instructor. I had only good things to say. I am enjoying the class so much. It may be the best course I've ever taken and I wasn't even expecting it to be such. He's not easy. He assumes all 100+ of his students are seasoned. Sometimes I get my assignments back and I re-read what I wrote and wonder, Where did that come from???, in a good way! I take super fast, messy notes and a lot of them. The only one who needs to read my writing is me :)
My other class is giving me a lot of grief. The text was written by the professor. It's terrible. The book, I mean. Oh, but so is the class. This is probably the WORST class I've ever taken. The professor simply reiterates what she has "written" already in the text (I use those quotes because she didn't write anything--she stole it all from other books). Pretty much word-for-cliche-word. It's a 3-hour class and she keeps us the entire time. We have a TON of work due in the next few weeks. This is what weighs on my mind all the time now. I hope we get to evaluate her; I have a lot of suggestions to improve the course structure. One suggestion is: don't make all the big assignments due on the same freaking day, especially when we also have to study for the final.
Thanks for letting me vent.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Griddlecakes Recipe

Jose and I woke up before the girls this morning, strangely enough, and he requested pancakes for breakfast. That was when I realized we hadn't had breakfast together in a long time, I'm talking about several months. How sad?! He made a pot of coffee and I got out my cookbooks to find my little penned notes next to the recipes I had liked in the past. I made this one from an old Country Cookbook (I modified it just a little by adding vanilla):
2 C flour
5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
3 tblsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
2 C milk
6 tblsp oil
1/2 to 1 tsp vanilla extract (to your liking)
  1. Combine dry ingredients with a whisk in a large bowl.
  2. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla to flour mixture. Mix well. It will be kinda lumpy.
  3. Cook on a greased griddle and flip when bubbles pop open on top, as usual for pancakes.
  4. While cooking the rest of the batter, keep griddlecakes warm in a 170 degree oven on a cookie sheet, adding butter to each cake on the sheet. This keeps them from drying out while staying warm and of course butter tastes good.
  5. Serve with your favorite syrup.
These were so fluffy and filling! Jose only ate two before he got full. I have made many pancake recipes this year. This one was my favorite so far.
Raquel and Maxine have been sick this week. Maxine has been sick for one week now and Raquel just came down with it on Thursday. She is faring much better than Maxine, who seems to really be miserable. To put it frankly, she's pissed off. That girl has a temper. Raquel is just the opposite--very pleasant and sweet, even though she, too, has a fever. My sanity thanks goodness for having at least one child with a calm attitude about being sick. The mad child is driving Mommy a little crazy. I have found that giving Maxine a nice, warm, playful bath helps calm her down significantly. But that's the only trick I have.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Short of Our Day

  • Raquel said, "Mommy, you go to college. You know EVERYTHING!"
  • Maxine had a little turd in her mouth.
  • I put a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in my oatmeal.
  • Yes, Maxine actually had poop in her mouth for a minute.
  • The oatmeal was good.
  • Maxine is my gross child. She tried to eat her own puke once, too.
  • Raquel still likes hats, jewelry, make-up and other non-gross things.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Friday's Fail

Early last week Raquel was sent home with a notice to us (her parents) that she would be receiving a 'special award' at Friday's awards assembly. We were to keep it a secret so she could be surprised when they announced her name. Jose couldn't stand not knowing exactly what the award was so he found out by asking around (I would have preferred to be surprised). Her teacher invited us to the assembly which was to be at 10:20am Friday, October 30th. Already planned this day was the school's annual Halloween Parade at 1pm. Since the children were not permitted to wear their costumes to school in the morning, parents who could were allowed to arrive at 12:30pm to dress their children and apply makeup in the classroom. Raquel's costume was a clown with full facepaint and a wig. I was also in charge of bringing Halloween cupcakes to the after-parade party in the classroom. Jose was able to switch shifts at work so he might help me in the morning with everything but he wasn't able to stick around past noon. I am getting ahead of myself, hold on...
Friday morning I painted clown makeup on my own face, Jose dressed Maxine in her witch costume (which had been Raquel's 4 years ago) and I packed the truck with diaper bag, makeup case, bag of costume and accessories for Raquel and 3 containers of cupcakes. Jose got caught up with a business associate on the phone and I thought I would be late so I strapped Maxine into the truck and took off to the awards assembly (we were taking separate cars anyways since Jose would be leaving from the school to go to work). Confused yet? It gets worse. So, I'm driving on the 210 freeway hoping not to be late to the assembly when upon exitting the freeway Maxine got carsick all over her pretty costume. Her carseat was a complete mess. And since she hadn't gotten carsick in so long, I didn't bother to bring towels or extra clothing--assuming we were in the clear was a huge mistake. I must have uttered the F-word 20 times while parking the truck and wondering what my next move would be. I carefully took off the witch dress and threw it in the bed of the truck, leaving Maxine in her dampened undershirt and black tights and smelling like vomit. I smelled that good, too. We walked into the assembly and sat with my sister-in-law in the audience. I was in a terrible mood but Maxine was cheerful as could be.
Anywho, Raquel won an award for creativity. She really is the most creative child I have ever known. After the assembly we gathered outside to take pictures of the award winners with their teacher. That's when Jose showed up and boy was he mad. Apparently, he had left the keys to our other vehicle in the truck, which I had driven to school, obviously, leaving him at home without keys. I was so involved in getting to school on time and then cleaning up Maxine's puke that I didn't even notice him calling my cell phone. We were both very unhappy that morning to say the least.
Jose then took Maxine home and changed her into clean clothes and came back to school. In the meantime, I travelled back and forth from my truck to the classroom, dropping off the cupcakes and the Halloween costume bag and makeup case and then I sort of cleaned out whatever I could in the truck. Jose put the other carseat in the truck and I put the yucky one in the bed of the truck. Then Jose left for work and Maxine and I hung out at Raquel's school until we were allowed to enter the classroom to put her costume on. Maxine's bottle was empty by now and she was cranky. I was hurrying to do a decent job on Raquel's clown makeup. The classroom was hot, stuffy and crowded. Raquel's teacher was kind enough to carry Maxine around while I was busy with Raquel (she couldn't bare to hear her cry). I was sweating and anxious for this ordeal to be over. It was supposed to be fun and I wasn't having any fun. The parade seemed to go off without a hitch even though we stood outside a while in the sun and heat waiting for all the classrooms to get lined up. There was even a drum section from the middle school across the street, the drummers being mostly female, which all us mothers thought was so cool. Raquel looked cute and Maxine seemed to be entertained enough to forget she needed a nap and a bottle. She was pretty content in the Bjorn and even feel asleep for a few seconds to the beat of the marching band drums. Everything was OK from then on.
When we got home, I was beat. I don't know how single mothers do this day in and day out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Raquel's Halloween Costume

I'll write a full blog on all the haps over the past few days at a later time. For now, here is Raquel as a scary clown for Halloween. She was a hit!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Been So Long!

Gosh, I haven't blobbed in a while! I have so much to say but will limit it to the most interesting/pertinent items.
We have just been informed that Raquel will be receiving a "special award" on October 30th at her school's awards assembly. I am so anxious to know what it is! We are not supposed to tell her about it. She's going to be so surprised! I cannot wait to attend my very first awards assembly as a parent and my own kid is getting an award! I'll be showing off her pictures this weekend.
Also this Friday is Raquel's school's Halloween Parade. The children and their parents will actually be walking the block around the school, in costume, and then returning to their classrooms for Halloween snacks and treats. The problem is the children are not allowed to wear their costumes to school--rather the parents have to show up a half an hour before the parade to get the kids gussied up in their respective classrooms. I can imagine how chaotic this will be! I'm not sure how I'm going to get Raquel ready while Maxine runs around the classroom. So, this Friday I have the awards assembly at 10:20am and then I have to show up again at 12:30 to do Raquel's costume. A busy exciting day!
Maxine is growing up in leaps and bounds. She signs the word "Eat" when she wants to eat, though she can verbally say the word, too. Other words she can verbalize are "hi", "Dada", "baba" (bottle), "sissy" (sister), "soss" (socks), "hat", "eyes", "bubble", "tickle" and she also says a very enthusiastic, "Ooooooh!" when she sees something interesting, like yummy food or a bird in the sky. She is extremely sweet and affectionate. Her favorite activity is putting random objects into drawers and into the bathtub. We finally have her drinking whole cow's milk now that her little tummy is ready for it. She enjoys getting her teeth brushed and actually has her first molars now. Hind sight being 20/20, I think the reason she was waking up at 3am last month almost every night was probably because of those big molars cutting through her gums. She now sleeps through the night every night. Also, she hasn't gotten car sick since we stopped using a formula called "Nedo", and she actually behaves pretty well when we have to drive around running errands. She still hates shopping, primping and waiting for anything.

I'm doing well at the half-way point of my college semester. I got an A on the one midterm I had and in my other class I have gotten all As on the writing assignments except for one B. I am really enjoying my Art History class but glad to be moving on from Renaissance art to more interesting art (in my opinion). There are over 100 students in that class!
Last weekend Raquel and I did volunteer work at her schools' Beautification Day. The PTA provided coffee and breakfast treats and we picked up trash, raked leaves, dug up sod, transplanted dirt, all kinds of sweaty dirty work. I was the only one there with a camera, which I had brought to document our work for a presentation I have to do at the end of this semester. The lady in charge was really glad to have me to take pictures of everything--I felt really useful. I will be emailing them the best photos. They have since recruited me to serve hotdogs and popcorn at the upcoming "Movie Night" at the school.

Jose works nonstop, just about. I hardly ever see him. I miss him. I also miss being able to leave the girls at home with him while I run errands.
The end!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday Doings

We spent a lovely evening with in-law's yesterday. This is a picture of Maxine walking away from me, toward Guapo who is behind the wooden fence where lies his dog house. In the background you can see Raquel and my nephew Ricky talking to Guapo. Guapo is still a puppy (a pretty Boxer) but he's just about full-grown and very hyper. He would knock over any of these kids with his happy love if he were let out. Maxine isn't afraid of him one bit--she even knows how to say his name.

Also, I made homemade gnocchi yesterday. This is something one must make when the baby takes a nap. It's a bit time-consuming with lots of repetition but the process is extremely peaceful and simple and yields a beautiful thing you don't see in many restaurants here in Southern California.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Wreef

Yesterday the girls and I had some fun shopping at Michael's. Maxine gnawed on a wooden cat figurine while Raquel and I chose fixins for our Autumn wreath to go on our front door at home. She chose the crab apples and the sunflower. We like the way it turned out but I'd actually like to do another one, a silly one without pretty faux flowers but rather with little turkeys, pumpkins and other cute fall-ish items. We could put it on the inside of the front door and gaze upon it all day if we want.
For now, we like this wreath and will enjoy it every time we walk up to the front door.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Great-grandbabies Round-up!

My sister, brother-in-law and their son, Lucas, are in town for a couple of weeks. They drove from Virginia and Lucas isn't even one year old yet! I couldn't do that with my one year old but Lucas is really good at travelling--what a blessing. This weekend they spent at our grandparents' house in the San Fernando Valley. I took the girls over there yesterday. It was our first time meeting Lucas and it was their first time meeting Maxine. My cousin was also there with her husband and their newborn daughter, Evie. She is a little doll. Maxine was very curious about her and tried to wake her up by shaking her seat and touching her little face. Maxine was also interested in her cousin Lucas and he in her. I think my grandma was in Heaven having all her great-grandkids at the house. Everyone was happy and well-behaved :)
Here are Maxine, Raquel, Lucas and his mommy (my little sister) Samantha in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard swing. Samantha is pregnant with Olivia and happens to be due on Lucas' birthday, which is also her husband's birthday--wow!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Horror: My Little Pony 2009

Have you walked through the toy section lately? Hasbro has redesigned the regular My Little Pony line and the result is a pony-like alien species sporting big frying-pan eyes, lollipop heads, skinny bodies and overall nothing like the originals. I'm very, very bothered by this. Their faces are smashed in, as if to appear more humanoid because, of course, it's every little girl's dream that ponies will look more like human babies with four legs and 0% body fat. Oh yeah, the torso of the ponies has shrunk down to almost nothing. Their ankles have more width than their mid-section. I am disgusted.

Why should I care so much? My 5-year-old is a MLP fanatic. She mostly collects the Ponyville series which are miniature ponies with little houses and accessories (surely taking after The Littlest Pet Shop) but she also has a lot of original MLP from the 1980s and a few ponies from recent years. The subliminal messages she would get from these revamped ponies is not one of natural beauty, humility and health--these new ponies, if that's what they even are, tell little girls to dumb-it-down, strive for a waistline tinier than an ankle, wear too much eye make-up, make sure your pupils are always dilated to the point of no return (and you know what it takes to dilate pupils...), be annoyingly cheerful 24/7 no matter how you really feel inside, be obnoxious about being "cute", in fact, be OBSESSED with it. The list could go on. You could even say the smashed-in pony muzzles might send the message to girls that having a nose is only for ugly people.

The original ponies (as above) were not malnourished, happy-go-lucky idiots. They looked, well, nice. They looked gentle and calm. Their proportions were closer to normal if not chubbier than a real-life pony. This was charming, lovable, respectable and marketable because they looked like ponies while maintaining a delicate cartoony quality that made them a toy instead of just a figurine.
A most important aspect of the originals was their inherent humility. Humility is no longer a virtue for kids these days. They don't even know they're being robbed of this crucial personality trait. It is evident in today's popular toys. Show me a current popular toy that looks humble. Show me a current popular toy that looks sober even. Show me a doll that doesn't have giant eyes and dilated pupils surrounded by inexplicable crystalline sparkles.
I don't have a new pony in front of me but if I did I could pinpoint even more disgusting changes. Go to the toy section and take a look for yourself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

School Lunch Dilemma

At Raquel's school, the cafeteria can only accomodate so many students, so each grade goes into lunch at different times and each group is ushered out to make room for the next group. This is a problem for me because Raquel is a SLOW eater. At first, the lunch lady was tossing Raquel's uneaten food in the trash, so I enclosed a little note requesting that any leftovers be kept in the lunch box--this is so I could see what Raquel had eaten. Turns out she's not eating that much. There is nobody around to make sure she eats enough. Jose wants me to give up on making her lunch and just let her eat school food. I don't want to resort to this, even if it is just one meal a day. All they serve is pizza, chicken nuggets and hamburgers. Making her lunch myself gives me a sense of accomplishment--that's me being selfish, I know. But I would feel like I'm not doing my part if I let Raquel eat the crappy food her school serves.
There aren't many things I have control over. I don't have much say in what happens to my kid at school. I trust she is getting a good education but I don't trust the school's way of doing lunch. Do I relinquish what little control I have on this issue until Raquel is a little older (and hungrier)? (that is a picture of Raquel's lunch today. I packed less food.)
When I was a kid I got white bread, white rice, processed cheese, lunch meat---these were everyday parts of my diet. My mom made dinner for us every night, including some kind of vegetable or salad but we ate a lot of unhealthy stuff. This was in the 1980s. Back then we didn't have as much information available to us about nutrition as we do now. My children are pretty much damned to have pot bellies or huge asses, not to mention high blood pressure, because of heredity. I would like to do whatever I can to prevent this. Right now, that means feeding them a well-balanced and varied diet to get them started out right. When they're older they will eat what they want but I will have done my part.
About her education, I know she has a good teacher. Raquel has learned the days of the week already and she's only been in school for 5 days. She goes around the house singing the songs her teacher has taught the class. I enjoy hearing her sing these songs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Daddy Bento #3

Other than this beautiful bento box lunch I made for Jose today, I am feeling like a failure. This whole post could be a spewage of negative thoughts so ttfn.
p.s. my camera does no justice to the things it photographs. Sorry!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So Proud of Our Raquel

I do not ask this child to make faces for the camera, I swear! She just does it on her own. Jose said when he opened the girls' bedroom door this morning to get Raquel up and ready for her first day of Kindergarten, she was already awake, stood up, smiled, opened her eyes wide and nodded her head like, let's do this!

Jose, who drove her to school today, said he sensed she was a little nervous. I think that shows maturity on her part. She has every right to feel unsure of what's going to happen and I'm kinda proud that she recognized that this was a special day-- the beginning of her new life as a student.

When she got home from school she was full of energy, actually on the hyper side. I made her favorite meal (macaroni & cheese with hotdogs) before I left for class. Then at about 8:30 she asked Daddy if she could go to bed. Her busy day had finally caught up with her. So Daddy put her to bed.

We know it's just kindergarten but we're really proud of her for being such a big girl and I think part of it, also, is that we have a lot of hope that she's gonna do big things in her future. She's a great kid.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What I Did With Quail Eggs

Tonight I made Scotch Eggs with quail eggs instead of chicken eggs. They were pretty good but next time I'll cut out about half the onions, skip the nutmeg, add Worchestershire and wrap them in bacon. These were fun and easy to make. I will make them again some day but my way. I got this recipe from (thanks!). I was going to put one in Raquel's lunch if she enjoyed them at dinner tonight but I could tell it was a food she needed to be encouraged to finish. So her lunch won't include a Scotch Egg tomorrow since I won't be in the cafeteria with her to make sure she eats it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cooking For Kindergarten

Raquel has "three more sleeps" until she gets to start kindergarten. She is VERY excited. Her school hours will be the same as the big kids, which is about 7 hours a day with each Monday being a short day, only about 5 hours. Wednesday night we are going to a kindergarten orientation. I'm looking forward to that. I am also looking forward to sending Raquel to school with some good stuff for lunch-- stuff I tested on her this weekend after our totally fun shopping spree at the Asian Supermarket. She loved everything!

I have prepared/cooked/assembled/portioned-out and stored in the freezer the following:

  • onigiri
  • spring rolls
  • banana coconut muffins
  • swirl cookies
  • purple satoimo noodle nests with slices of pink fish cake (so girly!)
  • brown rice
  • fried poached tofu cutlets
And there is more where that came from. Her lunches will not always be of the Asian kind. But if you've ever been to an Asian market you know there are so many cute and fun things to buy and make--just perfect for creating bento meals. And the prices are right, especially for produce.

Look how cute Raquel looks in bowling shoes! We bowled this afternoon at the fancy 300 Pasadena bowling alley. We had never been there before and will probably not be going back until we're rich. That is the most expensive 2 games of bowling I have ever seen. And the service sucked. I don't think management planned on having such a busy day on this Labor Day (hello?!) and only one server/lane assistant was working the entire 24 occupied lanes while the bartender stood alone behind her bar without a thing to do. Something not right there.
P.S. Raquel bowled better than me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today's "Daddy Bento"

A "Daddy Bento" is a lunch I make for Jose to take to work on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) when he has an open house to do for a house he is selling. He has been trying to sell a really nice house in Arcadia for about two months now and it is having a very hard time catching an interested buyer. The problem? Feng shui, believe it or not. It is situated on a "T", meaning the cross street is directly in front of the house. Jose doesn't know the first thing about feng shui--all he knows is that people who come to view the house always mention it's bad feng shui. I read a book on feng shui 5 years ago, just for fun. I thought is was quite fascinating. I retained some of the knowledge and have tried to explain briefly to Jose the problem people have with the house. It doesn't matter if feng shui is "real" or not, if someone believes in it, it is real to them. Anywho...
In this bento, there is a tuna sandwich on whole wheat, some pickle slices, cheddar cheese slices, homemade swirl cookies you saw in yesterday's post, a hardboiled egg with salt and pepper, and some green "spinach flavour" noodles stirfried with asparagus and teriyaki sauce. I think he's really going to like this. I was just thinking about how much it costed to make this meal. I'm guessing less than a dollar. Wow!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Baking in This Heat?!

Yes, it is still summer and I baked today. What a weirdo. It's nice to get back into the swing of things in the kitchen after not having baked since early June. This recipe came from an old Farm Journal cookie cookbook. I have had great results with some of the recipes while others, like this one, are far more effort than they're worth. These are pretty bland as far as flavor and texture. But they're good enough to keep in the freezer and use to pack Raquel's lunchbox. P.S. Raquel made one of those on that cookie sheet ;)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Up In Smoke, Off To The Beach

This morning we woke up to see that our neighborhood had been flooded with smoke from The Station Fire. So we took the girls to Santa Monica for a day at the beach and to get away from the smoke. It was Maxine's first time at the beach and unfortunately she couldn't really enjoy the experience because she was fighting a head cold. After about an hour and a half we drove home. While on the 10 freeway in Downtown Los Angeles I snapped the above picture of The Station Fire. Those are not Mother Nature's clouds--that is all smoke. Amazingly huge, right?!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pictures of "The Station Fire" *UPDATED*

Thursday evening I noticed how pretty the sky was. Thick smoke was pluming towards a vast pink sunset. Bright orange flames from the La Canada Fire, aka, The Station Fire, were visible to me as I drove around Altadena to find a good location to photograph this event. Of course I couldn't get very close but I got a few respectable shots. I saw others driving around taking pictures from their driver's seats. I made two or three stops, got out and tried to see the fire through trees and phone lines. This collage is a collection of the best shots I got that night.

This morning, 36 hours later, the fire has spread incredibly fast, moving southeast and is visible through my kitchen sink window. I saw flames. That white cloud-like shape is actually grey smoke. We're in the middle of a heatwave. This fire has the upper hand.

My house is deep enough into town that we are not in any danger but we know several families who are right there near the fire. Jose's mother has apparently packed a bag just in case she is told to evacuate. She lives in Altadena.

More local bloggers are talking about the fire here.


More pics from the past hour. The fire is still winning...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mommy, Can I Have...?

I'm in a frustrated-and-bored-mommy mood. Motherhood is not always cute, rewarding and filled with afternoons making Rice Krispy Treats. Once in a while I exist, mindless in a sea of laundry, lacking the energy to say, "Before you get out the Thomas toys, first clean up Ponyville," and the house quickly overflows with every crappy toy anyone has ever given your children. And when the toys lose their charm in the owner's eyes, the kitchen drawers are a convenient resort for non-toy entertainment. More mess. The last thing I want to hear right now is, "Mommy, can I...?".
My least favorite question: "Mommy, can I have a snack?". When I've heard it 4 times in one hour after you didn't finish your lunch, it really extra bugs me.
When I'm busy driving, don't yell, "Uh-oh!!" from the backseat unless something bad has happened, like, you wet your pants or something.
If I have already told you, "No, you're not going to play video games today." Don't ask me again and again to play video games that same day.
Don't follow me around.
Don't make your sister cry.
I'm sorry that you have a kajillion toys and you're still bored.
Everything will be better when school is in session. For me and for the kids.
Rant over.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Maxine's New *Trick*

Look what our baby girl did tonight {click me}
<--She gets tired after walking practice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Red Wagon

The girls' great-grandparents always have the best gift ideas. This year they gifted the girls a new Radio Flyer red wagon. It is exactly what they needed! The four of us went on a nice long evening walk on Monday. A little off the subject, but, isn't this the most pleasant August weather you've ever seen in Southern California?
That nice house in the top picture is a place where a lot of tv shows, commercials and movies are made. Obviously, it is very picturesque and quaint. I'm glad we don't have to walk very far away from our own neighborhood to see such interesting properties.
Thanks for the wagon, Grandma and Grandpa!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our Baby at 12 Months

12 months is such an exciting age. Maxine does something new everyday. And she is so sweet. Here is an update on what she is like now.

She still takes two regular naps a day, usually 2 hours at a time. Her bedtime lately has been 10pm and she wakes up at 8am. Sometimes she wakes up at about 3am and cries but more often than not she will go back to sleep without us having to do anything. Raquel sleeps through everything!
Maxine is a fantastic little eater. She eats everything I put on her tray. Grandma Emma had given us a bunch of tomatoes from her garden and Maxine LOVED them, I mean, she kept shoveling them into her mouth this one time and that night, she vomitted in her crib--we think she probably had too many 'maters. I can't help but compare my two kids--When Raquel was this age she scared me because it looked like she wasn't eating anything. That worried me so much!
Maxine is showing a sudden interest in walking. This is big news. She has been so happy crawling for so long now. For some reason she loves to be up on her tip-toes--I think she's going to have to learn how to flatten her feet before she can walk unassisted. It's funny though because I see her up on the balls of her feet constantly and it makes me think she was made to wear high heels.
We still have Maxine on formula instead of Cow's milk. Her stomach is sensitive and the cow's milk was making her get car sick. Poor thing: both of her parents were car sick kiddos long ago and now we've passed it onto her.
As you know, she LOVES to dance!
A couple of days ago, Maxine and I were playing quietly in my room when suddenly she pointed to my eyeball and said, "Eye" clear as day. It really took me by surprise. This is not a body part we have practiced very often, like tummy and teeth. So for the past two days now we have been having fun saying "Eye" and pointing to eyes.
Maxine adores Raquel. And Raquel knows exactly how to make her baby sister crack up. When Maxine cracks up, we all crack up. She has such a funky laugh! It's definitely not a dainty or pretty laugh!
If you saw Jose playing with Maxine you might be frightened for her. He plays kinda rough and talks in a gruff voice with her, but guess what--she digs it. She is all smiles and giggles with Daddy. When I hear him drive into our driveway, I say, "Daddy's home!" and she stops what she's doing to look out a window or go towards the front door.
I have probably forgotten to mention something but the stuff I've told you is pretty cool, right?
Oh by the way, in the picture up top she had just eaten her dinner of teriyaki brocolli and chicken and I gave her a whole strawberry to try for the first time (they say a baby has to be 12 months old before they can have strawberries). At first she looked at it and didn't know if it was food or not. Then she sunk her teeth into and I think the juice she tasted surprised her, that's what she's doing in the second picture. She ended up loving it and ate the whole thing.
The end.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Night at Dodger Stadium

Maxine went to her first Dodger game in September of 2008 when she was barely two months old, documented here. Last night we took the girls to a game, which was Raquel's umpteenth Dodger game but only the second for little Maxine. She was such a trooper--stayed up til about 11:00pm, too excited to sleep. Raquel ate a Dodger Dog and shared some with Maxine. I brought with me my own microwaved popcorn and had a Diet Coke (sticking to my diet) but I did sneak one bite of Raquel's Dog. Raquel did a lot of cheering for our team but at about the 5th inning she started to grow tired of the whole experience, saying, "When can we leave?". Maxine had a moment of upset when she bumped her head and I thought, with all the crying she was doing, I might have to take her back to the car for a while. But fortunately she got over it, got her second wind and stayed cute the rest of the night. My favorite thing about last night was watching Maxine's face when the crowd would cheer, when a beach ball would bounce near us, and also watching her enjoy her first taste of Dodger Dog while sitting on Daddy's lap. And she did enjoy it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Onion Breath

Grandma Emma gave me some of these really good onions that she received from a friend. I forget the name of them. Anyways, they're really good and sweet! I have had onion breath since she gave them to me yesterday :P Thanks a lot Granny Grunt!
Last night, Maxine astounded us. I got it on video.
Today after I did some early morning cleaning, I spent the afternoon catching up on other peoples' blogs. I would hate them to think I've been ignoring them. It's really nice to have time to do these sorts of things. Raquel went with Jose to his open house--from what I hear she was really a hands-on helper, showing people the rooms or entertaining children while parents looked around. I filled up a couple of lunch boxes for them and Jose sent me a text message that said, "What a great lunch!". That made my day.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Schoolin'!

After about a decade-long hiatus, I started back to college this summer at Pasadena City College down the street from home. I applied late and they didn't have many classes left so I took a critical reading class. I was pretty sure I was gonna kick it's butt. I ended up working so much harder than I thought I would. Jose played "Mr. Mom" several hours a day more than he usually does (that's what he called it). Housekeeping was the last thing on my priority list, I'll tell you that much. At several points I tried to convince myself to keep trucking and not buy into the vexing thoughts that I had bitten off more than I could chew. It's just one class!, I told myself repeatedly.
I'm older now and I'm a completely different student than I was a good way. This time, it is not just about having fun, floating along in life--this time it's about getting more out of life than just surviving. I'd like to enjoy my time on Earth. That means cutting out the struggling, worrying, fighting and moping.
In January of 2008 I made one little resolution to pray more and worry less. It worked. My blood pressure, which had been "borderline" for a while, even went back to a healthy number. But worrying less only took care of one (major) problem. After I gave birth to Maxine last summer I weighed nearly 200lbs. That's a slow death for a person of my stature. I changed my diet and since then have lost about 45lbs. I'm still not at my goal but I'm damn close. Losing so much weight eventually made me feel worthy. Whether that's right or wrong doesn't matter. That's what happened. I started to feel like I was wasting my life at home washing dishes and changing diapers. I'm fun to be around and I have a lot to offer, I told myself. I should go see what I can get! Yadda yadda yadda, I'm a student again!
This class was a short 6 weeks long, 4 days a week, homework every night, exams and quizzes every week and as a finale, a research paper and related oral presentation. I got a B on the first exam. I wasn't satisfied with that but it served as a gauge for future exams from this professor. I knew exactly what she was looking for at that point. I got an A on the next one and got A+'s on the rest. I also aced the oral presentation, which was a big deal for me because I loathe doing oral presentations. But I warmed up all semester long by contributing to class discussions from my desk and asking lots of questions. Yesterday I took the final exam and I have to say I'm 95% sure I aced that, too. The research paper won't be graded until next week, so we'll see. Even though this is technically a reading class, I earned my A's by writing good essays. I found out writing is my forte as opposed to multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions. My teacher said it also helps that I've started reading books instead of watching TV (I stopped watching TV a few months ago when we couldn't afford cable anymore). Reading helps you write better!
Now I'm off for a month before I start the Fall Semester. I'll be taking photography, art history and speech (eeek!). I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, Jose and I will figure out a way to organize our time as parents and housekeepers. That, I think, is more challenging than working hard for an A+.

Poolside at Dad's

My dad has a GREAT backyard. Not only does it have a pool, a jacuzzi and a comfy covered patio (with a bar area) but it also has a smoker and about eleventy barbeques. Think he likes to cook?

We took the girls over for a pool day earlier this month to celebrate the birthdays of Maxine, Raquel, Debbie and Jose, who are all July babies. This was Maxine's first time in a pool. She loved it. I'm positive Raquel had a blast, too.
Dad and Debbie got two new puppies. They went from "none" to "two" and they're so very well behaved!
The last shot is Raquel playing on Dad's homemade putting green. She's been playing on that thing since she was born. She looks like a mini pro.