Wedding Photos

Wedding Photos

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lack of information (part II)

We arrived at the party on time, which is very unusual for us because I am always on what I like to call "Mexican time". (A bit racist, but I am Mexican so I think I can get away with it! - More on that on another post) The hosts are a nice couple I have met a couple of times, but honestly I don't know much about them.  The wife is a high school friend of my husband's who lives in "the area" and because we are the same age range we are trying to keep in touch with, hopefully building on an old friendship.

Anyways, when we arrived with our SIX dozen cookies I immediately noticed lovely x-mas trays with only a few cookies on each. Hmmm I felt like ONE, I over did the cookies and TWO my presentation had a lot to be desired having placed the cookies in a bakers box. I didn't think this was after all a cookie exchange party like I had understood from my husband's "a cookie party". He now sings the tune that he said it was a 'baked goods party". 

People soon began to follow thru the door and after a few minutes; it was well noticeable that we failed to bring with us the accessory of choice.  I do not mean to sound ugly, but every couple there had at least one child and, well, we have no children.  I felt a bit out of place, but the hosts were nice to invite us. 

As I was trying to mingle and get to know the other guest I realized what they all had in common were their kids. They either attended school together or had another activity in common.  I also began to notice I was a little overdressed with my jeans, sequined tank top and little cardie.  All the ladies were very dressed down, not that my jeans weren't "dressed down," but I stood out.  I dismissed it to others being aware of the caroling later in the evening. Then, I heard one conversation go " how do you know them (the hosts)?" The response was, "I volunteer at the kid's school".  Blah, blah, blah.. more conversation that I wasn't really paying attention to since I was talking to someone sitting next to me but then the phrase "I am the captain of the green team" caught my attention.  Green team?? I thought to myself.  Ohhh.. it dawned on me as I scanned the room around.  These are what I call "granola folk" , the good people who live green and who make me feel ashamed of not doing more than recycling at home .  Austin and the area around it are full of them!

That made sense, cotton being the fabric of choice and me standing out in my "single lady" ensemble (my sister calls all bling/sequined clothes that because it reminds  her of Beyonce who wears a lot of it).  Yep, I felt out of place.  I moved in to the kitchen and hung out there trying to offer our host help, but the kitchen smelled phenomenal and everything was under control and on schedule.  Meanwhile the baked goodies table began to fill with more lovely trays and our cookie box looked more and more like a cement block anchoring it all down.

As I hovered in the kitchen chit chatting (mostly with my husband by this time because our lack of kids began to set us apart from the "the parents") I took advantage of sampling the aromatic soups our host had cooked.  Potato leek and tortilla soup, the latter being vegan I was told.  It went in and out of my ear until all the vegetarian and vegan cook books on a shelf woke me up!  Ding, ding, ding... not only were our cookies NOT vegan, but they weren't kid friendly either!!  We had taken my famous Rum Raisin Oatmeal cookies.  FULL of booze because the raisins had been macerating for weeks!  Oh my god!!  I laughed and panicked!  I laughed some more when I heard one of the guest say "I am going to put my cookies on this end and group all the other gluten-free goodies". 

I felt like Alice in Wonderland; totally out of place in a seemingly familiar land with odd customs, clearly not like the other cookie parties I had attended. We had a nice time, but I strongly feel had I seen the actual invitation instead of being given bits and pieces of information from my husband we would have been better prepared.  After some discussion, ok arguing, my honey has agreed again to forward future invitations to me-or at least let me read them myself to avoid the miscommunication.  Let's see if that happens...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lack of information (part 1)

I am sure it happens to many married couples that when invited to an event/party, one or both usually forget to pass on all the details.  Well, my husband has done just that many a times!  We get invited weeks in advance and I am told the day before or when I am trying to lock in other plans. 

This month we were invited to a Christmas party in north Austin, wait.. It wasn't even Austin, ended up being 15 miles outside of Austin which is an even longer drive than the hour, hour & a half drive from where we live (New Braunfels to Austin).  Ok, so I ended up falling a sleep on the drive there. I am famous for falling asleep in the car and my husband loves to tease me about it.  In my defence I get bored in the car when I am not doing the driving; and listening to the same old stuff (Classic Rock) ALL THE TIME makes me tune out to la-la land or just doze off. 

Anyways, the invite came several weeks before the party and I found out about it about a week before.  Three days prior to the party I was notified by my husband that it was a "cookie party".  For those of you who aren't familiar with this theme party they are somewhat popular in the 30 and above age range.  So, now we had to bake cookies for the party. (Overworked, not yet started  our xmas shopping, now we must fit in baking.)  I've been to a number of them.  You show up and swap cookies with others hoping that you are the worst baker in the bunch and get to come home with yummy loot.

We finally reach Pflugerville (the "P" is silent) and we are blocks from the party when the honey asks how long I want to stay at the party which is being held late Sunday afternoon.  "I don't know, when ever you want to leave is fine with me" is my response.  What I get back made my eyes pop out of my sockets.  "How about we stay a couple of hours or until it's time to go caroling".  CAROLING??  Whatcha talking about Willis,  is my first thought (Yes, I am a child of the 80's and corny on top of it!) 

"What do you mean caroling?? Oh,,. there will be caroling, didn't I mention it?" This is when impulsive me wished she could wrap her hands around his neck-but he was driving, so it wouldn't be such a hot idea.  Instead with a half whine and half scolding voice I began to ask how he could fail to mention such details?  I was wearing heels and opted to leave behind a coat since I figured I would be ok going from car to house quickly. Why didn't he say something when ONE, I asked him if what I was wearing was ok for the gathering and TWO when I asked him how cold it was outside and if the sweater I was wearing would  be enough? This is EXACTLY why I get upset with him when I ask him a question about how I look and he automatically answers "you look fine" like a recording. 

Ok, shake it off.  No carolling!  Never been, don't know if I would get "into it" with strangers. (We  only knew the couple hosting the party). We would get to go home early but the short visit after such a long drive felt almost worthless.  Anyways, once we got there I realized there was WAY more information I lacked..  (to be continued)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Life in perspective

These last few months several of my close friends have been celebrating their 40th birthday.  Some have been very graceful and have kicked up their heels in celebration; others don't even want their spouses to mention the "F" word.  FORTY!
I for one have always embraced each of my birthdays.  I know my lack of fear over the years passing has been because of having my father pass on at the young age of 32.  Every year (especially past 32) I have felt incredibly blessed to have lived.  I think of all the things my father has missed out on!  He would have loved all the impressive gadgets we can't seem to live without!  He was a bit of a trendsetter and managed to find all the toys not yet popular or coveted.

My father would have certainly loved to have seen my brother follow in his footsteps (law enforcement) and it should go without saying his one grandson whose middle name honors him. 

This weekend my sister lost one of her best girlfriends. The young woman had just celebrated her 30th birthday two weeks before.  I can't imagine all of the things SHE will miss out on, and how much those who love her will miss her.  All I know is that my heart goes out to her family and friends.
To my sister I say: congratulations for sharing the last months of her adventure.  You were there to hold her hand when the worst diagnosis was given, and inspired her to fulfill many little dreams. I know in my heart your friendship to her was valuable!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family matters

It is without saying that no matter how close knit a family one has there will always be a few disagreements.  I had one last weekend with the usual family member and I have to say I am most thankful for having not only a great friend to vent with who has seen me thru rough times in my life, but now a wonderful husband to help me shrug it off. 

I worry sometimes about venting with my husband.  I don't ever want him to resent any member of my family who happens to be driving me crazy at any given day.  He is pretty wonderful and stays neutral.  I have told him time and time again I can't divorce my family so I just have to get over things or pretend the argument didnt' happen!  It isn't that I am in denial or afraid of confrontation, it's because with this ONE particular family member we (not me) can never agree to disagree!

Anyways, I hope you are looking forward to gathering with family or perhaps bracing yourself for it. 8-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time to bake

I seldom bake, but during the holiday season I enjoy whipping up a few batches of cookies. I am a bit of a "one trick pony" when it comes to cookies.  I am well known for my Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies and this year I was glad to get some help from my honey! It just so happened that both of our jobs held their holiday party on the same day, so Thursday night we had our own little assembly line going.  I mixed and scooped as he handled the traffic in and out of the oven. Granted the hubby spent more time doing "quality control", but we still managed to prepare about 12 dozen cookies that we split and each took to work.  Like always they were a big hit!  I am so glad we kept only four or five cookies at home. With all the upcoming gatherings there will be plenty of sweets around to tempt us.

What tempts you this season?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Its the holiday season..

Though not my #1 holiday, Christmas is still one of my favorites.  I know there is the stress of what to buy and who to buy for that drives us nuts, but the for the most part it is to me a fabulous time.  People get a little sweeter, our hearts open up to strangers and many remember we are not alone on this planet. Granted I recommend you stay clear of shopping malls and do most of your purchases online in order to stay in a peaceful and loving state of mind.

Our little x-mas tree.
The year flies by in such a flash that December is the time when we make an extra effort to reach out to friends and family and try to catch up or touch base with everyone.  I usually send out way too many holiday cards and my refrigerator gets filled with updated baby pictures from friends and family.  Yes, however tacky it may be to many I enjoy putting up photos on my refrigerator.

This year we received our very first (and only so far -- can't remember when we checked our mail box last...) Holiday card a day before Thanksgiving.  My thought to that is "I once had the time and the drive to make sure my holiday cards were in the mail the day after Thanksgiving." 

This weekend our Christmas tree went up.  I had mentioned to my husband that I was hoping we could put up the tree the first weekend in December and not wait until the last minute like we did last year.  To my delight I came home Sunday afternoon stressed, tired and feeling a bit deflated after having had to go in to  work to meet  a Monday deadline and the sight of the the tree lit up in our living room immediately lifted my spirits. 

My honey had brought in our Christmas decorations from the garage and set up the tree and lights by the time I came home.  I can't say I couldn't believe it.  I married a great guy who thrills me more often from small actions than anyone ever had!  What surprised me is that I had forgotten all about the tree and probably would have put is off for the following weekend had he not taken the initiative to get Christmas going in our house.

One of my favorite ornaments!

We had a nice evening decorating the tree. I even got to listen to holiday music while we decorated. It may make me corny and insane to love listening to holiday music all thru the month of December, but my husband was sweet to tune in to a holiday music station and make the decorating experience more special to me.

Check out my Star Trek ornament.  It is one of my favorites, and my husband teases me about my denial of being a nerd!  It was a gift from my good friend Belinda.  I think of her every year when I hang it on the xmas tree.  I hope you are all celebrating this season in your own special way.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving leftovers..

Small feast for 5 = Lots of leftovers!

If you were blessed with leftover turkey this Thanksgiving, here is an idea: Turkey Mole Enchiladas.  Swing by the ethnic food aisle at your local grocery store.  (A bigger blessing is having a grocery store with an ethnic food aisle.) Grab yourself a jar of Mole Sauce (thick paste made from many chili peppers & spices),  a container of chicken broth and a pack of corn tortillas.

Prepare sauce according to directions (blend paste with chicken broth).  Warm tortillas in microwave until they are pliable, roll tortillas with turkey meat that's been warmed, drizzle mole sauce over tortillas and enjoy!

Suggestions: mix a little mole sauce with turkey meat before rolling in to tortillas and serve enchiladas with rice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Odd thanksgiving meal..

There are things that aren't easy sharing with your significant other without fearing ridicule or worst, being seen unfavorable!  My odd little tradition after thanksgiving had once repulsed a boyfriend, so the first holiday spent with my husband was a little tense and so I braced myself. The day after Thanksgiving I have my famous sandwich. I say it is famous because my friends and family are well aware of it and find it amusing to call me up after Thanksgiving to find out if I have had my traditional treat.

I really can't remember what year it began, but I was in my teens.  I was home alone at lunch time the day after Thanksgiving and I was in the kitchen looking at the pantry for something quick to eat.  I decided on a PB&J, but this simple snack I also do not fix in a simple way.  I mix both ingredients in a bowl before I spread it between the bread. 

Anyways, on that first day I took a bite out of my sandwich, but immediately felt the snack would not be enough so I peeked in the refrigerator for something else to eat. To my surprise I found some left over turkey breast that I guess we brought home from some relatives home we celebrated the day before.  It looked so appetising I served myself a small portion on a plate and nuked it.  I felt bad I had not discovered the leftovers in the fridge first because now I was stuck with my PB&J.  I figured I would have to eat my sandwich since I had already prepared it, but I was going to treat myself and pick at the turkey.  Some how the warm turkey made it in to my sandwich and the experience was so wonderful I repeated it the next year.

It was unintentional to make it a tradition; the year after I found myself in a similar situation and the memory drove me to repeat it. After the second time the excitement over the sandwich came and I've been celebrating ever since.

So I mentioned my little sandwich repulsed a boyfriend, as well as other people to be honest; OK, most people but at least my husband tried to understand my attraction to the sweet and savory combination..  On the first Thanksgiving we hosted after our marriage my in-laws came to visit and sure enough a couple of my close friends called me up to ask if I had had my sandwich. I did, and I am anticipating with great joy my sandwich this year!

What are you looking forward to on this next Thanksgiving? 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So very proud..

My husband completed his first full marathon today. I am so very proud and impressed by him; to have taken on the challenge for his own benefit, without anyone pressuring him, and to test his own endurance its something I admire very much.

On my biggest physical challenge (at 33) I had a group training me, pushing me and guiding me thru it all. My husband had only a schedule to follow and no one pushing him. I tried to be as supportive as possible and each unbearably hot, freezing cold or rainy day he laced up his shoes and went to fulfill his scheduled miles to run.

What impresses me the most about my husband is that when most 40 something’s are going thru silly midlife crisis (he is 43) buying expensive toys, having plastic surgery, validating their self-worth by trying to recapture their youth in the most damaging ways my husband has done two impressive things:

One, he went back to school and got a law degree and TWO he set his sights on improving his physical fitness.

Congratulations my love! You are an inspiration to me and I am so happy to have you in my life.

The Polyphonic Spree & Dr. Seuss

One of the great things of coming together in a friendship or relationship is the introduction of something different from what you know.  In my relationship with my husband one of my favorite things he introduced me to was new music artists.  The Polyphonic Spree are one I am a fan of now. One of my favorite songs from them I should have my husband play for me to help him get me out of bed in the mornings..  I am a challenge!

These musicians are true artists and their song "Light and Day" is a masterpiece of sounds.  The chorus gives me tingles and it makes me feel like ... flying, like WIND.  I found this alternate video of the song just recently. It fits more to what my feelings over the song have been..  They also had a guest apparance on Scrubs which was pretty cool.

I was so happy when I saw that this loved song will be featured in the next Dr.Seuss movie-The Lorax and I just can't wait unit next spring to see it.  The preview is one that fills my visual senses and adds more to my love of the song.  I hope you take a chance at checking out this band and if nothing else reminisce on childhood memories with the new movie.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chilli cook off (Part II)

When we met in Terlengua we found out about Harry's "little" mishap and realized there was a big hole on the floor of the sleeping area.  Thoughts of critters crawling in immediately filled my head!. My husband quickly patched it up with what little he could find; a few trash bags but mostly duct tape, because my father-in law being a man's man happened to have MORE THAN A FEW rolls of it! How he did not freeze thru the earlier days before our arrival is beyond me. In Terlingua at this time of year the temperature can drop well below 40 at night. Now I can understand Harry not making the repair himself; though a sturdy gentleman he is in his late 70s and has no business crawling under a trailer.

Another discomfort was the limited amount of water we had for bathing. Harry gave us the low down when we arrived on how that would work. I still laugh at his words.. He said, "you get in the shower and rinse off quickly, then you wash the important parts and rinse off again quickly". Hmm..., lightning shower. Besides the limited amount of water the blowout incident busted the water heater so our showers were even quicker! Again, thank goodness I travel with wet wipes, because they got us clean along with the limited amount of ice-cold water we had to use to rinse. The one thing I just could not do properly without using up all our water suply was washing my long hair. Yes, my husband loves my long hair and makes faces when ever I mention I am considering chopping it off (I do it every few years). Despite him having had "long hair" in his college days he has no idea what most women go thru to groom long locks. My hair immediately went up in a pony tail the minute I saw all the dust of the camp grounds and it stayed that way or in braids AND under a hat for the length of our camping weekend! I tried my best not to think about it, but the ick factor was almost unbearable!

Anyways, the chili festival is one long week of loud music, socialising with your neighbor, people driving around in 4x4 custom vehicles (you'd be surprised of the many places people can mount long horns), drinking, shopping (plenty of vendors), and eating. Not a bad place to be! If it wasn't for some campers blasting music well past 2 a.m. and the noise of generators the "camping" trip would be awesome. 

I have to say I do like to camp; but my camping trips had never consisted of being a part of a mobile village in the middle of the desert. I had always camped by a river or a lake, in warm weather and with a handful of close friends. The festival has a rowdy side to it. There are hardly kids around since the campers mostly consist of retired people and a not so young age group that find heavy drinking and the flashing of bare breasts entertaining. Don't get me wrong, I am no stick in the mud; I truly enjoyed a tequila tasting party we got invited to at a campsite next to us, but it was tasting from a dozen bottles and not chugging to get a buzz.
The best part of the festival besides the actual chili tasting is going off roading thru the desert, but despite all the fun distractions this year's cook off was something I was willing to skip. It was a memorable time that I was happy to have an excuse to PASS on this year. Having to work on a weekend finally gave me an excuse to get out of something I really didn't want to do.

I have to admit I have some good memories of our trip last year, but the bad outweighed the good after the fact. At the time I didn't want to be a whiny wife complaining about the conditions, but a year later all the discomforts rushed back in my head and I prayed that the busy season at work would give me a "get out of jail" card.  As expected (and to my luck) I did end up having to work thru the weekend of this year's cook off.  Despite my long hours at the office at least I had plenty of hot water to shower at home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chili cook off (Part I) / camping trip

Entrance to camp ground

Last year, my husband and I attended the Annual Chili Cook off in Terlingua, Texas. It is a week long festival with a chili cook off competition at the end of the week.  This year, my husband made the trip without me.  Last weekend, he went to Terlingua and met his dad who has been attending and judging for some 15 plus years.

The cook off last year was fun.  We met some interesting people and because my father in-law is a regular (every body knows and loves Harry), he gets invited to many little parties at different camp sites thru the week long festival.  We of course tagged along and ate and drank beyond our hearts content.  Each night there was a live country band and an actual dance floor (area)! It would have been awesome had I had someone to dance with.  Despite my husband's pride in being a Texan (lord he teases me about my Yankee ways - I was transplanted in San Antonio in my teens) , HE DOES NOT dance to country music.

Harry took with him last year his giant telescope, which in an open range with a starlit canopy sky was an amazing treat. A big difference from sky gazing in the city. Last year the long drive to Terlingua was a nice way to connect with my husband.  We love car trips, and taking pictures along the way is one of our favorite things.  This year after having made the drive before, the thought of spending eight hours in a car to get there and eight hours back of a three-day weekend was a bit of a nightmare.  I have been exhausted for the better part of two months and such a long drive did not fit in to my idea of resting.

Anyways, the festival is held in the desert on a few acres of land where you bring in all you will need for the time you are there and then you must take it all back! (You know, CAMPING!)  There is no running water, there are also no rivers, no creeks, or bodies of water available so a good shower/bath to scrub all the dirt and grime from the dusty desert at the end of the day won't happen.  My father in-law has a nice little trailer equipped with bathroom, kitchen, sleeping quarter, and tiny living area.  It is perfect except that I don't think it gets vacuumed or scrubbed down often.  Thank goodness I am a bit of a clean freak and travel with wet wipes because I spent a good 15 minutes cleaning the bathroom and another 15 cleaning the kitchen before I felt at ease there.  All my discomfort I held in and I tried to make the best of it.  By the way, I did my cleaning when my father in law wasn't around, but it was obvious that I had cleaned. This year all those memories flashed thru my head and made me squirm.

There are fleets of mobile homes camping thru the grounds fully equipped and if I camped out that way in the desert I would be more willing to return.  There are also plenty of tents in between, but I just couldn't see me roughing it like that in the desert. There is running water in the trailer we camped in, but there was a mishap on the drive down last year. My father in-law was pulling the trailer and not even a hour from home he had a major blow out.  It was so bad that it tore a huge gash half the length of the trailer. Now most people would have gotten a quick fix and turned back home.  Not Harry; he got a quick fix and continued on the remaining 4 hours of his trip to the chili festival. The repercussions of the blow out turned out to be more than what was visible at the time and we all suffered ..

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Have to and choose to.

It has been well established that it took me longer than the average person to find the one I would marry.  It is still a shock to me the reactions I get from people who find out it is my FIRST (and hopefully only) marriage!!  I get different looks, but recently I encountered one that made me feel like a "sell out". 

 I was shopping around for ideas of anniversary gifts for my husband that a woman asked how long I had been married.  When I told her how long and that it was my first, the woman gave me a "why bother" look.  As if I had gone thru the trouble of marrying while I have one foot in the grave or something.  A look as if to say "if you hadn't put up with a spouse, why would you want to NOW?"

 Over the years I have been looked upon with pity, the type a homely girl might get from people betting NO ONE would want her.  When I was single, I was told I was lucky, from obviously unhappy wives AND HUSBANDS who love to bitch and moan about their life but continue on staying in their relationships.  I was questioned beyond end by people "trying to help" find what was wrong with me that I had not been married even ONCE!

 I was praised by some who I am sure wondered if I was gay and just had not admitted it.  The only people who understood my not settling were close friends who have been divorced once, twice, even three times.  It wasn't that I didn't fall in love and had relationships; it was that I "stuck to my guns" (hey, I live in Texas) and did not allow time passing me by to push me to settle for less than what in my mind and my heart were non-negotiables.  We all have them, as petty as they may seem to others, and the older I got the more I realized I was happy not to deal with compromising.  The reality was that I just hadn't found the one I would compromise some things for. 

I have heard people vent over little things that they put up from their spouse, and always I have half heard their complaints and mostly half focused on the words they use, "put up".  Immediately my mind goes to thinking, you don't HAVE TO put up  with it.  You choose to, and it isn't putting up its accepting  your partner as is!  Mostly BECAUSE OUR PARTNERS DO US THE SAME COURTESY! 

My husband accepts the fact that more times than not I leave half-empty cans of soda. I open one and walk around the house with it enjoying it.  Most of the time I forget I put it down some place and he usually bumps in to it.  Hey, I like to enjoy my drinks and not just gulp them down on the spot!  I think he has chosen to make a game out of it  and "catch me" on it than to go crazy over it.

My epiphany on free will came to me when I heard my best friend arguing with her ex (after their divorce). "I don't HAVE TO do nothing but breathe and die!!" Then she chose to hang up the phone!

In a world where it's easier to relate to one another in misery and most likely cause envy if you are happy, we shouldn't be hesitant to count our blessings.  Take a minute to reflect on the many little ways we have felt loved and accepted by our partners.  What is the most ridiculous quirk you know drives your significant other insane and you just can't help??  Remember it next time you are about to start nagging/moaning over something about them and let it slide.  You don't have to get irritated and can choose to just smirk.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dia de los Muertos/New tradition in our household

One of my early memories is of the first time I ever stepped foot in a cemetery.  My paternal grandparents took me to one in Mexico City, and I hate not having either one around now to ask whose grave we visited but the colorful memory was implanted and still now very vivid.

I must have been three or four years old and what I recall is crowds of people trying to find parking as if to attend a concert.  Flower vendors with carts full of bright colored flowers and people hauling boxes, bags or some type of containers full of what to me looked like toys because of the eye catching colors. What was going on? Where were they going?  I felt confused and yet at ease in the company of my grandparents.

I have assumed with out giving it much value that we were there to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  A Mexican "holiday" in which those who have passed are remembered.  It is customary to visit the graves of those dear to us who have passed and decorate their graves with candles, flowers, and other things. It is also a custom to find a space in one's home to set up some type of (for lack of a better word) ALTAR.  The altar consists of photographs of those who have passed, sugar skulls with colorful decorations, artful skeletons depicting the profession of those dear being remembered, and a few of their favorites things, the most popular of them being some type of liquor.

Now my immediate family never quite practiced this "custom".  Before my father's death (when I was age nine) the whole DEATH or DYING was never something I gave much thought to.  Sure I had had a pet die by that age, but up to then those pets (hamsters, fish, and birds) weren't around long enough to be just but a novelty. 

My father (1979)
After my father's passing for us the day of the dead was September 2nd which is the date my father died.  We silently mourned for weeks before and after like most people who have lost a loved one.  It wasn't until my late 20s that I stopped mourning with such sadness and chose to celebrate the memories I still held of my father.

Again, the celebration was made in early September and not November 2nd when the "holiday" is celebrated . It usually consisted of having a drink in my fathers honor on every anniversary, but some times the toast just grew in to a reason to drink and I had to stop that tradition.  It was after the passing of my Great-uncle "Pepe" that death hit close to me again.  I had lost both of my paternal grandparents within a couple of years of my father but living in a different country and not being near to attend the funeral or be around for those first months most tend to visit a grave site made me feel removed from the sorrow I felt with my father. 

Anyways, soon after my Great-uncle passed other family members soon followed.  The Dia de los Muertos custom has recently been something I have wanted to participate in.  Perhaps it's because I am middle aged now that remembering my loved ones may be my way of hoping someday others will remember me. It has been a reason to dig up old pictures and introduce my husband to those that have meant so much to me and am sorry they never got to see me married.  They would certainly approve of my husband, and I am grateful he is willing to listen to stories of who these loved ones were.

This year I didn't drag my feet.  I have my little altar set up and from now until November 2nd I plan to tend to it by adding more items and taking the time to remember what these loved ones who departed thought me and how they shaped my life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

My husband is oblivious to home maintenance.  I don't mean the kind where you bust out the tools and fix something that is falling apart.  I mean regular up keep of a "home".  Washing rugs, painting walls, redecorating a room.  I've been pestering him about painting the inside of our home, but it doesn't register.  He asks what color and I can see him bracing himself for whatever comes out of my mouth. I am willing to keep it the same color just as long as we spruce up the place. Perhaps he is afraid of living through a scene similar to the movie "Fools Rush In" in which Mathew Perry comes home to find his new Latina wife Salma Hayek has had her family paint the entire house in bright colors. (In case you have not noticed I make a lot of movie references!)

Anyway today I replaced the shower curtain in the guest bathroom.  I have no one else at home to comment on or ask an opinion of it so without thinking twice about it I asked my husband to take a look.  Proud of myself having found a "designer" curtain at a bargain price of 65%. off I was awaiting approval.  I got a "very nice", but what followed made me want to bang my head against the wall regretting asking his opinion.

He said.. "May I ask a question?" to which I nodded.  He then asked "What was wrong with the curtain you replaced?".   As a female the question was just insulting!  I answered "because the other curtain (one of two which I rotate every few months) I have had for about eight years and I am just sick and tired of looking at it!". I know my verbal lash out may seem rude, but HE KNEW I had purchased the curtain a few weeks ago.  I came home exited of my find and justified my spending.  No, I did not justify because of him but because I am very frugal and NEED to justify it to myself!!  Why was he asking such a question??

Now I am NOT the dreaded stereo type of a wife that spends "his money" going on shopping sprees.  I am more than frugal, always looking for a deal and like the average responsible adult trying never to make purchases before meeting all my financial responsibilities. 

In all honesty, some of the curtains I've replaced over the last few years have ended up at my mom's or even my grandmother's home. They have been in perfect condition I've just been in need for something different. In the same spirit of letting someone else enjoy something out grown or tired of I have brought home from mom's floor mats, throw pillows and other things.

I have to admit that my husband has never had to tell me to curb my spending, but I guess having had the only say so on money spent and purchases made for so long I might have gotten a bit irritated by his question.

His was a perfectly legitimate question, but it makes me believe he doesn't know the meaning of "making a home".   In his old apartment he had a clear shower curtain, what I call a shower liner.  It was functional and that was about it.  In what I call a home, there is an actual decorative curtain on top of the liner.  There are floor mats, at least one decorative thing on the wall and pump dispensing soap as opposed to one giant bar of soap that travels back and forward from shower to sink!

I love my husband, but some times I wonder if he was raised by wolves!  I know I am a little dramatic here because his parents are lovely people, but the man HAD BEEN married before!  I would think he would be used to a little redecorating. 

Perhaps it's because for the last couple of years we've been living very frugal making sure we put a dent on student loans and having lived on "saving mode" to pay for our wedding that he hasn't seen too much redecorating.  

I will have to brace myself for more comments, because there is a minor overhaul coming before we host Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Honey.. hold on to something!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The gift that says "I Love YOU"

I love it when my husband puts thought in to my gifts.  I told him early on that I didn't ever want him to feel obligated to be traditional and buy me flowers just because (for example) every wife gets them for Valentine's day or birthdays.  He surprises me every now and then with them when I least expect it and it makes me love him even more!

This anniversary he really gets points for a great gift.  He is giving me additional drumming lessons.  I had been taking lessons before we met and one of his first acts of chivalry when we were dating was to carry my new set of drums up to my third floor apartment.

I lost my instructor a while back and I am famous for having a short attention span, so I let other things/hobbies take up my free time . It's been ages since I banged on my drums and I have been talking about getting back in to that groove again for a few weeks so my anniversary gift was perfect!

My drum set used to live in the bedroom of our ONE bedroom apartment before moving in to the house we live in now.  It was crammed in with more furniture than you would think a room could hold!  I would bang on my drums often because they were right in front of my nose. Now they sit in our office and for a long time were buried behind boxes and boxes of my husband's gaming supplies and miniatures.  (He has tons of them!)
The black surfaces are mufflers to avoid neighbor complaints.

I appreciate that my husband listens to my desires and tries to encourage my hobbies.  Being the smart ass that he is when I thanked him for the gift he quickly joked that after having carried those drums up and down a third floor apartment he might as well encourage me to use them.

I told him that he probably misses having a drum beat accompany his shedding of clothes in the bedroom and that I credit the drums for convincing him he should marry me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wedding Anniversary..

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary.  I hate to say it but I fell short on the celebration.  We had intended to take a long four day weekend to relax and just spend time with each other, but I am working towards a small promotion and the last couple of weeks I've been working long days at the office.  Even thru this our anniversary weekend.

My husband is a gem. He's been more than understanding and supportive. We still managed to keep our date for a meal at a preferred restaurant in town.  It is our little tradition that we hope to carry on for many years.

To my loving husband, thank you for another year of wonderful memories!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Party/Mexican Style

It was my grandmother's 82nd birthday last weekend and we made the trek down to Laredo for the celebration.  It has become difficult for my grandma Socorro to travel, so the last 3 years many in the family have made it a point to attend her birthday parties.  This year my uncle's new wife was sweet enough to try to make it more memorable and suggested a spin from prior years; it was a theme party.  Now despite some negativity from poor sports (you can't ever please everyone) the theme was "Mexican Party".  Wear something "Mexican" or wear green, white & red (colors of the Mexican flag).

So it all began..  What to wear?  My brother playfully said he was planning on dressing like a Lowrider.  One uncle said he would be wearing his "Botas Vaqueras" (cowboy boots).  My mom and 3 of her sisters (who flew from Indiana especially for the celebrations) drove to down town San Antonio & shopped at La Villita; a market popular with tourists where you can find just about everything Mexican that you would buy in border towns (on the Mexican side). My sister said she wasn't dressing up because she didn't own anything "Mexican". 

The real question is what would be considered "Mexican".  There are Chicanos, Lowriders, Tex-Mex and a few others that would be considered "Mexican" by the average Caucasian, but none who would be recognized as Mexican across the border (in Mexico).  These subcultures if you would forgive the use of the word have Mexico as a root of their heritage, but they are AMERICAN!  I could drift off on to a different conversation here, but I will save it for another time.

Back to the Mexican theme party.  You may be surprised but most Mexicans in the U.S. (by heritage or immigrated) do not own what many would consider "Mexican attire".  It's like living in Texas.  Just because you do it does not mean you automatically own cowboy boots or ride a horse.  This last statement reminds me of my cousin Gabriela asking if we had a horse after my mom moved us from Indiana to Texas in the early '80s. (My cousin was 10)

Table decorations from the party
So not every Mexican in the U.S. owns "Mexican attire", but I do!!  I love embroidered blouses and ruffled skirts, though I never wear them together.  I usually pair the blouses with jeans and flip flops to run around on the weekends.  I don't look like I got off a "burro" this morning.  I live in South Texas and these Mexican-inspired garments are very cool and perfect for our hot climate.  My friends call my style a bit Bohemian, my mother calls it Hippie.  I call it COMFORTABLE!!

 Anyway, my husband wore a Guayabera (one of a few he owns) to play along and the party was a success.  Grandma was pretty happy.  There was good food, and even good entertainment!  My uncle's new wife is a school teacher and she invited a colleague to come and perform with a children's choir she directs.  They sang a number of songs in Spanish and two of the members were singled out.  Ten-year-olds who have just come back from a music school competition where they earned high marks.  A twiggy boy upholstered in a miniature Mariachi suit belted out tunes over his 20 choir mates and his counterpart towering almost by her entire head (also 10 years) that was dressed in braids, bright colored skirt and peasant blouse sang with the sentiment and maturity of a 30 year old.  It was impressive!

There was also entertainment at the end of the evening.  My young cousin Sandy (18 years old) with a sweet voice serenaded the birthday girl with a Mariachi group she is a member of. (In the states of Texas and California a few school districts proudly offer in their music department a Mariachi/Mexican style program)

There was plenty of dancing and drinking in between the entertainment and I give my husband lots of credit for getting up to dance despite his stereotype "white boy" dance skills.  Between me, my mother and my aunts he was given a pretty good workout, and I am glad I forewarned him.  I told him my aunts would most likely try to drag him to dance despite it being their first meeting, and true to form they did!

I am glad we made the trip.  About fifty of us gathered (a bit more than usual), all related somehow (even a few in-laws).  I pray each year that the next we can gather again for another birthday.  I am lucky to still have my grandma; we are very close and she has been my only grandparent for the past 30 years. I am thankful my husband understands how I value these gatherings in her honor and is willing to be part of celebrations..  This was the third of such celebrations he attended and I think after joining in the karaoke singing he will look forward to the next.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Death valley in my kitchen..

This was one hot summer in South Texas, and the heat keeps going on.  We've had water restrictions and have been under wild fire warnings for months on end.  I have been proud to have had on past years a little potted garden in our old apartment balcony and even after moving to a house a little flower bed, that truth be told my husband was mostly responsible for keeping alive.  This year, despite my best intentions of putting flowers on the ground and reviving our little garden I totally flaked! 

I spent good money (not too much) on mulch, dirt and plants that never made it on to our yard.  The heat has been unbearable and I've shamefully dodged spending any time outdoors this summer.    I have 1000 excuses; I am good at convincing myself that I haven't had time.  The reality of it all is that I neglected to death about two dozen little seedlings. I managed to somehow keep them alive in two plastic bins in my kitchen by a sunny window with every intention of planting them "next weekend", but the last couple weeks the casualties were heavy and they went fast! 

Our yard is dry and crunchy except for the mutant weeds that still manage to pop up about a foot high overnight and that I end up pulling on my way in the house from work, or on my way out going to work.  Even the lawn mower has seen little action. 

I've had no incentives to work on the yard!  We usually entertain often, but these last months we just haven't.  That old advice of having guests often to keep a clean house also extends for me to keeping a good looking yard. The usual BBQ's/cookouts we manage to throw in the warmer months have become dangerous or just terribly irrational; to stand in the heat and by the heat to grill is crazy! 

So in my kitchen sits "death valley"; dried up little twigs of flowers that never came to be. We've had a few rain showers this week, and the guilt of having a dead garden in my kitchen is almost unbearable.  I know I should have potted the seedlings to at least give them a better chance.  My other house plants are still thriving, though some days I totally ignore them until I see them droopy and fainting with my lack of watering.  I will say; ivy, aloe and African violets are survivals!  I also have two other resilient varieties of plans that have been with me for years!! 

I don't know what my punishment for killing good plans should be; for now I am just thankful that we have no pets or kids to neglect...

Monday, September 19, 2011

51 First cousins..

My side of the family is the traditional large numbered one. (Traditional for the generation prior to mine)  My mother is one of 14 siblings (including half siblings) and my father was one of 8 (also including half siblings).  My husband’s side of the family is considerably smaller in comparison.  He has only two aunts to my 22 aunts and uncles so when I talk about my cousin “such and such” his eyes quickly turn glossy.  It isn’t that he doesn’t care; it’s that he has only met a hand full of them and it isn’t easy to remember the rest he has only heard mentioned by name. 

Last I counted I had fifty one FIRST COUSINS; it may be more and being that both my parents were of the oldest in their families, my youngest uncles (on both sides) are only four years older than me and could still add to the count at any moment.

When we were planning our wedding it was easy for my husband to come up with his half of the guest list.  He invited every member of his family and still had room to invite friends.  I on the other hand had to deal with not being able to invite everyone I wished could join us and what was worst, had to argue with my mother over my decisions.   

It’s been over a year since our wedding and I am still dealing with the aftermath of not inviting all of the family.  I did have to give in with mom and invite at least all her siblings living here in Texas (thank goodness it’s only five), but my first visit to family up north (the Chicago area) was more than awkward. I encountered comments that let me know the non-invited felt snubbed and wouldn’t soon forget.

My husband doesn’t quite understand the concept of having a large extended family.  He doesn’t understand that aside from my parent’s brothers and sisters, their first cousins are also numerous and considered no different than their own siblings.  So when I say “my cousin” I could be referring to either a child of my parent’s siblings OR child of my parent’s first cousins. Needless to say my family tree has a lot of branches..

In the few years my honey and I have been together we have been unable to attend the usual extended family gatherings, like traditional QuinceaƱeras (equivalent to sweet sixteen party but celebrated at age 15) or weddings.  The latest we missed was across the border, and with the chaos going on in border towns these days at least this time we were “excused”.  The others, well..  My family has a tendency to give short notice or to send all invitations to my mother’s address were they never get mentioned because they end up being buried under junk mail and my mom forgets they arrived.

Now I know these descriptions of a Mexican family could be the typical stereo type, but I want to give my reason to value my large extended family.  However seldom or often I get to see them now that I am older I like to make the effort to join in family celebrations.  You see, my maternal Grandmother was an orphan.  Her parents both died within months of each other and she and her siblings (8 brothers and sisters) sadly ended up scattered taken in by family members, boarding schools on scholarships, apprenticeships or orphanages. Thanks to the oldest of them (Great aunt Margarita) they were never lost (track of each other) and the youngest even ended up taken in by her once she was married.  That love for family, of not thinking just about the self but of those connected to us by blood has been taught to the next generation of children and grandchildren.

Those teachings of love, survival and belonging: knowing that they could have easily disappeared (lost track) in such tragedy is what makes me not want to miss the next family gathering we are invited to, because that is a happy occasion.  These last couple of years we have lost four of my grandmother’s siblings and their absence is deeply felt.  Funerals are not where I want to see my cousins. It is not where I want to introduce my husband to the extended family.

My honey I am sure will continue to tease me a bit about my large family (“which cousin is that?”) but he is now part of it!

In memory of those who left but who will remain in my heart (Joe, Angela, Margarita, Soledad) I celebrate my family and the bond they showed us all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Metro Man vs.Regular Joe

At forty something I have been long fighting the good fight against aging.  There is a grooming ritual that most women follow but few of the opposite sex take on.  Those few who do are popularly known as Metro-sexual or what I preffer to call Metro-Men.(I kind of expect a cape to go along with the term)

My husband isn't one of them.  Nope, he is a "regular Joe".  I drive him absolutely insane fussing after him about his appearance.  I pick lint off his clothes: had to introduce him to adhesive rollers and he in return had to teach me boundaries. I now TRY to point things out instead of just reaching for them.  He has compared me to a chimp grooming a mate.  I confess to have a bit of a dysfunction there.  We were once afraid I would get us in to trouble during a wedding.  One of the guest at the church had a thread on her dress and we debated back and forward over me pulling it off.  It drove me nuts and he could barely keep from holding me back and laughing out loud!

I can't help it, I am a groomer! Between hair cuts I try to clean up the back of my honey's neck with the clippers: usually at the least fortunate times, like when he is showered and shaved about to get dressed and there are 15 minutes before we have to hit the door.  I also point out the occasional stray hair and offer grooming equipment as well as assistance (not taking matters in to my own hands has been a big development for me). I am honest when I tell him I expect him to do the same for me.  If some mutant something appears on me, I prefer he (my husband) point it out rather than a stranger!

The Metro-Men who I've known are very much in to brand names, following trends and doing everything under the sun to stay young (looking).  I see them and I get exhausted by the lengths of their actions..  --  Wait a minute.  Women do JUST THE SAME THING!!  I am sorry, but someone needs to keep the other mate from going off the deep end.  I am  glad I have my "regular Joe" to keep me from overdoing something to myself: two people on that same page could overdo it. My biggest fear is that my vanity will get the best of me someday, so I focus on looking "natural".  No tattooed eyeliner or lip liner for me. No stiff face Botox or pretending I would look good blond!

Metro-Men exercise to look good or stay looking young.  My "regular Joe" exercises/runs and signs up for a half marathon (this year a full marathon) to prove to himself he can do it! The staying/keeping in shape is just a bonus. My dad was a Metro-Man long before the term was conceived.  He ran miles and miles to keep fit and after running: would drink glasses with hot water and lemon to melt the fat and cleanse the body. He had tons of shoes and belts and wore always the latest trends. (Think of Richard Gere in American Gigalo)

My mom still remembers her embarrassment of him showing up to pick her up at school wearing hip hugging, bell bottom jeans months before the fashion hit in Mexico!  She also remembers him encouraging her to try the latest hairdo.  Those were different times for my folks.  They had the means to splurge on fashion and my mom has the pride to know she was one of the few to first sport a donut-shaped perm a la Donna Summer in the seventies, again long before the fashion hit Mexico.

I am glad I married a "regular Joe".  He notices me (not the latest fashion) and pays me compliments; usually when I am walking around the house in one of his t-shirts.  Despite the relief of not having the pressure from him to look a certain way  I do continue to keep myself "together" as best as possible, but he gets no rest from me. I have pleaded, bitched and moaned until he agreed to at least "humor me" and try using a cleanser in the shower for his face instead of the usual bar of soap.  He won't admit to liking it, but his skin looks healthier and little dry patches have completely vanished.  I nagged him about it NOT so much because I want him to look better, but because most men don't usually do simple changes to their routine and have their skin feel better.  It isn't MANLY to careSoap is good enough!  Blahh, blahh, blahh.  Only someone who loves these "regular Joes" will stir them in that direction, search and provide the products so they don't feel "high maintenance".

Anyways, my husband smirks at my at home chemical peals, but I tell him I want to keep him from walking with an old hag next to him and use that to guilt him in to doing a few other things for me.  Oh, don't think I ask him to jump on my bandwagon of beauty rituals.  He would never go for that and I think I would loose respect for him if he gave in to that one.  What I ask him to do is to at least put on a shirt with a collar when going out with me.  I love the casual look, but at forty-something a man shouldn't dress like a teenager in graphic t-shirts other than to hang around the house. And in my opinion NO ONE should step out of the house in wrinkled clothes!! Hey, if I take the trouble to fix my hair and put on makeup before stepping out of the house I expect my mate to make a similar effort and not look like he just rolled out of bed.

Moving on, Metro-Men get manicures and have hair stylists.  My husband doesn't believe in overspending on a haircut!  For our wedding I begged and pleaded he get a good cut from my hair stylist.  I think if he had known before hand the cost of the cut he would have skipped the appointment.  That's another thing, my regular Joe doesn't make hair appointments.  He drives by "the place" (there are a few of them) when he has time and if there aren't too many cars he'll stop for a cut. Anyways, he got a good cut for the wedding, unfortunately he didn't quite comb/style it like the cut was intended but the fact that he gave in on the haircut because it was to look good on our wedding day is still appreciated.

When my husband and I met he didn't look unkempt.  I wouldn't have dated him if he did!  He looked like he made an effort, but later confessed he had some of his gal pals help him out when he started dating after marriage #1. I've had to negotiate with him ever since we moved in together and you know what? I think back at the men I dated before him; the few that had to be introduced to some type of fashion/self care who moved on as better dating material to other women.  I had thought that in my age range the man who I would find would now have been accustomed/molded by other women already saving me a bit of the nagging.  I guess my husband never got accustomed before or diverted to old habits.  I am glad he makes the effort for me and I truly do not bug him too much about what he is wearing when he isn't going to be seen with me (smirk).  If he is for example gaming with the guys.. Well, gaming doesn't require the latest fashion.  That is the place where he gets to sport his latest geeky t-shirts, that I of course have surprised him with because I find it amusing and know it makes him happy.

So despite some admiration for Metro-Men with their "together" look, and not one hair unintentionally out of place, I am glad I married my "regular Joe".  I feel more feminine around him and his occasional giving in to my craziness shows that he at least cares how he looks to me.  Now I must excuse myself because I want to see if Netflix has "The Cannonball Run (1981)" to stream.  I have been thinking of Dom DeLuise's alter ego "Captain Chaos" the entire time I have been writing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Instant family..

One of the common things about marring at an older age (be it a first, second or third marriage) is acquiring what I call an “instant family”.  There are step kids and extended family that may find it awkward at first to give the new member of the family their place. 

For my husband and I it was much easier.  Neither one had children who might find it hard to name us (step-this or that).  Luckily even our immediate families were “young” (newly married or with one child).

On my side of the family I didn’t’ get to interact much with my brother’s son when he was little (he is now almost 10); if I wasn’t a cartoon or on the boob tube I wasn’t paid attention to.  When my nephew got a little older and began to pay attention, he assumed my honey (who he saw me with always) was already my husband and at one point asked him so.  I was mortified at first hoping my honey did not think I had put the kid up to it (we had been dating several months) but thankfully he understood my nephew’s innocent assumption. So with our marriage my husband gained a nephew.  One who is now taller than me and who half hugs, half tackles my honey when he greets him.

On my husband’s side of the family his brother had a baby girl that barely spoke when my honey and I started dating.  Adorable and sweet; I couldn’t help falling in love with her.  At first she was shy.  Her parents tried to teach her my name and she couldn’t quite figure it out.  I suggested she call me by the nickname my best friend’s son gave me when he could barely speak.  That did it! Somehow being able to call me by a name she could pronounce allowed her to warm up to me.   As far as our niece is concerned I have always been “aunt Momo” and now she has a little sister (our 6 month old niece) who I can’t wait until she can recognize us and of course, call me “Momo” also.

What has been more difficult for me isn’t the being accepted in my husband’s family, it is being recognized!  I am wife #2 and after four years together (almost two of those years married) I still sometimes get called by wife #1’s name.  Granted it is by extended family that we see maybe once a year and I guess it doesn’t help that my husband married the same “type”:  Latina, short, curvy and also with eye glasses.  Anyways, it is to be expected; at our age most “newlyweds” are at least on their second marriage so expecting not to be confused may be too much to ask.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Specific instructions..

I have leaned at a later age what married women have had to learn long before me.  When it comes to asking my husband to do a chore I must be specific and detailed!!  Here is an example:  On the days we change bed sheets I leaned not to simply ask my husband to strip the bed.  To the female mind "strip the bed" means change the sheets as well!  So now I not only ask but define exactly what I mean.  My husband is now faced with no doubts of what it is being asked of him.  Strip the bed has now become; "Honey, please strip the bed, throw the dirty sheets in the washer and put on new sheets".  There is no confusion, but lots of moaning and groaning. 

Another task that had to be modified in the way it is asked is "take out what's in the dryer".  After countless times of multiple loads of clothes crammed in ONE BASKET that would sit in a corner for a couple of days wrinkled beyond hope;  I had to change my ways!  I now ask: "Honey please take out what's in the dryer, hang or fold AND also put away".  The usual moans and groans follow, but this particular task is countered by saying.. "I do exactly ALL those steps when I take care of that chore!"  I also remind him about one of my girlfriends refusing to do her husband's laundry (from then on) in retaliation of his lack of participation in that household chore.

The last ever so popular task that had to be modified was "take out the trash".  When asked my husband was glad to take out the trash in the kitchen, but never ONCE thought of the other trash in the house.  The bedrooms and bathrooms were completely ignored!  Now, I am not a total slave driver.  This particular task I am more than accommodating to him.  Most times before I even ask for the trash to be taken out I go around the house pulling trash bags and replacing them on all the trash containers.  I collect them in or by the kitchen trash before I open my mouth. I know my husband hates going around each individual trashcan, so I am willing to meet him half way to get the chore done.

I have mentioned before, we do not have assigned chores at home so I never ask of my husband what I don't already do myself.  When it comes to house chores women are like chess players; looking for a 3rd and 4th move ahead.   Men, well.. at least my husband.  He only focuses on one move/task at a time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

50th Anniversary

I have a coworker who is celebrating today her 50th wedding anniversary.  It is so very uncommon in the age of multiple divorces to witness two who have reached such a major milestone.

Divorce hangs over my head..  Two near and dear to me are going thru the motions right now and it frightens me to see how fragile relationships can be.  It took me a decade longer (from the average marrying age for women) to find my mate and I wonder if our odds will be better?

This is my husband's second marriage but I am hoping that my careful choosing of a mate and lack of rushing in to marriage (just because everyone else was getting married) will count towards a better chance of surviving.

Happy Anniversary Barbara & Elmer. May your years ahead be as memorable as your years behind!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shamed in to action...

My husband fully disclosed early on that he isn't much of a "handyman" when it comes to doing things around the house.  It totally shattered my dream to one day buy an older home and restore/remodel it on our own...

I learned how to do a few things around the house.  Not from my father, he passed when I was just a little girl, but from my mother.

When I was a little girl my family lived in Mexico.  We didn't move back to the states until I was 10 years old.  In Mexico labor is cheap.  All types of labor.  It is a joke, but common knowledge that one does not need to be rich in order to have a maid.  They say "Asta la criada tiene criada".  Even the maid has a maid.

In Mexico it was rare for someone to do their own home maintenance (I don't know how things are now) , but what was totally unheard of was for a woman to do repairs around the house.  If you needed your lawn mowed or wanted to landscape your yard, you hired a gardener.  If you needed a room painted, you hired a painter.  If you had a leaky faucet, you hired a plumber.  There was no "doing it yourself"!!  You called a professional PERIOD. One couldn't go to a Home Depot and get advice or be taught how to do a repair.  Oh... just remembered.  Home Depot has now branched in to Mexico so perhaps the "do it yourself" is not unheard of any more though the store may be there as a supplier to construction companies. (Will have to inquire on that.)

Anyways it was a marvel for my relatives visiting from Mexico to know that my mother leaned how to paint, put up wallpaper, patch up a whole on the wall, knew the difference between primer and paint and mowed her own lawn.  At first I think they felt sorry for us.  Thought we had fallen on hard times and could not afford to hire help.  My mom explained how much more expensive labor is here in the States and that "everybody" did their own home maintenance.  Unless you were super rich it was shameful to hire someone to do basic tasks. I don't think they believed her at first.

Well, back to my husband.  He had been hiding behind the "I don't do repairs" disclosure for a while but this weekend I shamed him in to agreeing to do some "maintenance" to the house.  HIS WORDS...  "Shamed him"

When I voiced for the fifth time how I wanted something replaced around the house and he responded "I don't know how to do that".  I responded back..  "Well, I saw on a website (Home Depot or Lowe's) a video on how to do it and it looks easy."  To which he responded "you have shamed me in to doing it". Now, I was prepared to do the task myself!!  I have been doing simple repairs at every place I've lived.  My only reason for voicing AGAIN that I wanted something replaced was my way of giving my husband notice that I would be making an "out of budget" purchase at the hardware store.

Hmm  now he's done it.  If he thought he had a free pass on home repairs, I've got him now!!  If I can do it, and am willing to give a go (no bluffing) he must certainly help with/do it.  Perhaps the dream of restoring/remodeling an older home is still gone, but at least I can breath easy knowing that my pocket book won't suffer and the house won't fall on top of us out of lack of upkeep. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Battle in the kitchen...

There are a few things my husband and I just  can't seem to agree on.  The first battle we encountered when we moved in together that we are still arguing about now (and will probably disagree on for a while) is the dishwasher.

I am totally against using it!  I have yet to "meet" a dishwasher that performs properly.  The amount of work that goes in to rinsing, loading (strategically), unloading and most times rinsing again after a full cycle is much more trouble than doing dishes by hand.

We usually go round and around on this issue and for the most part I DO the dishes in our home.  It may sound unfair, but we split the rest of the kitchen chores. My honey usually picks up the table, puts away the leftovers and dishes after they are washed. In the end cleaning the kitchen is still a team effort.

Despite both agreeing to disagree every now and then my husband insists on bringing up the issue.  It is usually when I ask him to wash the dishes generated (by him only) while I am out of town or he is at home alone on a day off.  Like most, he hates to wash dishes and wants to load them on the dishwasher.  I don't see the point of wasting so much energy to run the washer when the number of dirty dishes created by one or two people are so little.  The argument then moves to waiting until we have a full dishwasher?

I can go on and on about this mundane house chore, but I must confess.  Every dishwasher that I've had either at an apartment or at home now I have not purchased myself and has usually been an "affordable" model that performs "moderately".  Also, the fact that our pots and pans aren't dish washer safe and need to be hand washed anyway gives some weight to my side of the debate.  What usually ends our argument is agreeing to one day splurge on a top of the line dishwasher.  I just hope that it performs well and it doesn't end up being a waste of money. Until then I am sure this argument will come up again..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Things to celebrate…

There are things I remember that are trivial and there are important things I can’t recall if my life depended on it.  Some of the things I tend to forget are a few “anniversary” dates.  I never was the type to celebrate what to me were insignificant dates, but to many (especially women) are so meaningful.  Don’t get me wrong, I remember the biggies but I have found ridiculous the people who would make a big deal over monthly anniversaries and expect a big celebration each month. I celebrated that way when I was a teen, but a month in teen years is equivalent to dog years.

Anyway, I admit that every now and then it dawns on me how time has passed.  On Monday, for example I mentioned to my husband that this weekend would be four years that we’ve known each other. I didn’t remember, I read it on a calendar that was close to being two months behind.   We met online, but our first real meeting was on this date. 
We celebrated our first year. I honestly can’t remember if he gave me flowers or not, but the thing I do remember of that first year was the gift he gave me that melted my heart. He printed every email we wrote to each other prior to our meeting (two, maybe three weeks—I can’t remember that either), and you know what??  Every single thing he said about himself was true.  I asked him then if the same was for what I had shared about myself and he said it was.
I don’t recall what we did to celebrate the other years.  Other dates became more important and took the honor of being remembered & celebrated.  The date we met to the day we moved in together, and later to the date we married…  It isn’t lack of romance, but when you celebrate every day in some small way how lucky you feel to have found that person who understands you, your “language” and the way things process in your brain life becomes one big celebration. It could be because I found my match so late in life that I appreciate him so much, or it could be because he is so perfect: Not a perfect man, just perfect FOR ME that I don’t wait around for dates to come around! It makes the not remembering thing easier to live with.
Today I will celebrate somehow having met my husband.  Probably by smiling back at those first awkward moments and thanking him again for not being scared of the jibber jabber woman who was so nervous she could not stop talking!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weight and marriage...

It is assumed (still in the Hispanic culture) that a man will gain weight with marriage.  The assumption is that husbands will be getting better meals at home much different than the “take out” they would eat as bachelors.  My fist issue with this cultural thought is that men are believed to be incapable of doing their own cooking.  I know a large number of men that are far better cooks than their wives!  Another thing is that the men that I know who like good food have no problem paying for a good meal at a restaurant and would turn their nose at the usual definition of "take out".

My other issues are: What if the wife they marry doesn’t cook?   What if the wife they marry has a demanding job that doesn’t allow for elaborate meals? What if husbands are eating healthier meals after marriage?  I personally haven’t met a newly married man who has gained weight because he was getting better meals at home. Most of the married men I know have two income households so their wives aren't waiting at home with dinner on the table.

What about women?  I for one have gained a few pounds as opposed to my husband.  Besides the not buckling down and fitting time for regular exercise between my long hours at work, my long commute and my rush to come home to cook dinner so we can eat before 8 p.m. I am actually eating full meals and have gained weight.
When I was single cooking happened only when I had guests.  I would host family dinners (Easter, or some other holiday) and gatherings with friends. Those were the only times I would cook.  On the average day my meals at home consisted of salads, PB & J sandwiches, steamed white rice and canned tuna. My meals were simple, quick/painless and would keep me from actually turning on the stove.  The thought of not wanting to generate more heat in the already hot South Texas was understandable. It wasn't that I didn't like to cook, I enjoy it very much but I associate good food with having others around to share the meal.

Now dinner is part of the little time during the week I get to spend (awake) at home with my husband. HE has lost weight ! Not because of bad cooking but because I try my best to cook more healthy meals (than he was used to) and fight him on the junk food that enters our house. I have gained!  I am eating more than before!  It's kind of hard to just have salad when there is a yummy main dish waiting to be savored.

We cook most weeknights and even have left overs for lunch.  Before marriage, leftovers were what I took home after eating at a restaurant! I have to admit that I really like having a reason to cook.  I have always enjoyed it, but cooking for one felt the effort that goes in to it was wasted if it could not be shared. I am glad my husband doesn't expect dinner on the table when he arrives from work.  Whoever arrives first usually gets dinner started and for the most part, we enjoy being in the kitchen together.

Now for weight and MY MARRIAGE.  I could also blame it to being a little older and having a harder time keeping extra weight off.  I could, but who I am kidding?  I am a foodie, I like to eat and being married has given me a reason to try out new recipes.  Thank goodness my husband doesn't mind being my ginnie pig.  As long as he is fed HE is happy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My dysfunctions…

When you are young and about to marry, people usually warn you about getting used to your mate’s habits.  Does he put the cap back on the tooth paste? Will he remember to put the toilet seat down?  Things like that, but when you are older..  No one warns you on it.  It is assumed you are old enough to know these things. 

I wished the good meaning people who advise the young would also take time to advice the “not so young”. The advice I would give an “older newlywed” would be: Speak out!  If there are things that bug you from the beginning they will bug you more later on when you aren’t seeing life thru pink colored glass.  (This piece of advice is very popular)

The other piece of advice I would give (and most important) is..  Some of the things that may bug you may be YOUR DYSFUCTION and not something your poor mate should be fussed over.

After living alone for so long a person develops his/her own system or way of doing things.  Having a mate come in who does things a bit different may bother you but if it drives you insane, then “baby THAT is your DYSFUNCTION”.  If the end result is the same and you are still irritated YOU have the problem and shouldn’t freak out on your mate!

Folding laundry IS my dysfunction.  I fold socks and underwear differently than my husband.  At first it bugged me a lot, but I realized (big light bulb moment) that he was a forty something with his own quirks.  I could not expect him to change because of my ridiculous habits!  It also dawned on me that I should be happy he even folds laundry (but mostly when asked) when friends are complaining about doing it all ALWAYS!! 

I had to come to terms that if I AM folding laundry that week it will get done MY WAY, if he is... Well, he can have his drawers however he wants!  I just have to be thankful he participates in doing our house chores as I am REFOLDING my garments.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My husband thinks I’m a Ninja…

You know how some people play softball, basketball, or some other sport on a league?  Well my sport of choice was Karate.  I started taking lessons in my mid-twenties and off and on I practiced the sport for about 13 years.  It was the best thing I've ever done for myself.  It kept me active, I learned self-defense and met amazing people with strong character, drive and perseverance.

My husband met me a short time before the Dojo where I was a student closed.  He never saw me work out, he never saw me spar, he never saw how talented or not I was.  He thinks because I practiced Martial Arts I am some type of Ninja.  I am not, never was.  I am only part of a group who dared to try something out of their comfort zone, something scary, totally out of character and found more than could have ever dreamed.  A way of life!

I was lucky to have been instructed by a talented, energetic, and respected Martial Artist, who with experience, passion for the sport and a big heart brought out the best in the students.  This instructor also happened to be female, and a wonderful role model!  I am proud to call my instructor (Master Palmer) a close friend.

I have missed being active in the sport.  Some have asked why I haven’t joined another school/Dojo.  Well, it is very difficult to find a place to call home when the style of Martial Arts you practiced is “non-traditional”, not to mention a back injury that has limited me a bit. Besides, what made Karate for me so enjoyable were the friends I made thru the years. 

Having a female head instructor was pretty amazing.  It attracted strong women to the Dojo who ended up shaping my character and helped me shed some “traditional” cultural ways.  I was raised by a mother who was submissive in her marriages but who stood strong on her own.  I truly believe that I would have married sooner had the lessons I learned thru Martial Arts not made me feel more independent and secure.  Hey, when you can stand to come home black and blue on a regular basis and not care what people think you tend to care little about others opinions of your life in general and not rush to settle. 

Why didn’t you marry such and so? Because my life mate should make me feel safe, not threatened!  Why did you break up with (choose a name)?  Because I have discovered my own strength and won’t settle for a man who will drown in a glass of water! What happened to (choose a name again)? He lacked focus and discipline in his life and thought things would come to him by simply wishing!

I think my husband is more impressed by the things I tell him I used to do.  I used to spar every chance I had to improve speed and technique (got spanked half of the time but showed off a few tricks of my own) as well as to hang out with friends/peers at the Dojo.  I participated in tournaments either by competing or judging supporting other schools as well as my own.  I was once an extra in a B movie when my instructor was invited to bring females to play members of a girl gang.  Also, the quirky things of my every day life: I used to lay on the floor reading, butt against the wall with legs apart letting gravity help me stretch to improve flexibility.  (People do the strangest things when no one is watching!)  I used to snap a side kick as a way of "play fighting" when most people pretend to smack someone on the head, or close doors and drawers with a kick. Now that my back is feeling better I have found old habits coming back.

He's also heard "war stories" from my Karate friends he's met.  All or the majority have tested (for their next belt rank) or kept working out with a number of injuries ranging from pulled muscles to broken bones. I think what impresses him the most is my tolerance for pain and a lack of neediness for attention when injured.  This has taught him to know that when I say I am aching I am not complaining about just a hang nail.  I guess the women in his past were more fragile or liked to call attention to them with mere discomfort. 

I am equally impressed with my husband.  The qualities I needed to practice such a physically demanding sport were the same that he used in his life.  He dared to switch careers, went back to school and got another degree all while he was dealing with the end of a marriage.  The emotional roller coaster of going back to school in his late 30's while having additional drama did not make him loose his focus. That is what I learned thru Martial Arts.  I learned to focus and keep going no matter what comes my way.

I think my husband also gets a kick (no punt intended) at how excited I get watching a movie with a good fight scene.  I've broken down the steps for him to show what it is I like or what impresses me about a scene!  (I am a geek that way!) Not much different than any other amateur being impressed watching a professional on the screen.

We are truly made for each other.  Just because I can be tough he has never once forgotten to treat me like a woman and not like one of the guys.  I think he found out he likes strong women.  He jokes and says he knew when he was in love with me. We were in an antique shop. I picked up an owl figurine and almost fainted at the cost but bounced back with interest by commenting on the weight of it.  I said "Cool; you can kill someone with it".  I lean more towards both sharing a dark sense humor.

I won't underplay the goals I achieved in Martial Arts.  I am so very proud of them, and if my husband is impressed by them then it's good to have married someone who admires you.  After all, I did as well!  I am impressed every day of the man I married for a long list of reasons and I often tell him he was definitely worth the wait!