"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The third day of Christmas

I love the twelve days of Christmas. Even though the world counts the 12 days as the previous days to Christmas, in truth, the 12 days start on Christmas day, or the First Day of Christmas. Usually my days before the 25th are packed with activities, shopping, cooking, sending letters and packages... The list could go on forever, and it's no wonder by Christmas Eve I have to drag myself to get things done. In fact, Christmas Eve I woke up late, and without even having breakfast or lunch, I cooked all day, cleaned the house, attended a very sick 2 year-old and entertained family. After that, we drove to my mother's (for some reason she won't come to our house) to have the midnight toast with her and my father (who was already in bed, and didn't get up to say Merry Christmas). After we went back home, I still had to wrap presents! But in spite of the exhaustion, and the craziness, Jeff and I were SO excited, running around the house getting everything ready for Santa's visit, setting cookies that we later had to eat to simulate Santa's eating them, cleaning the playroom, so he could see we had kept good care of last year toys, kissing even the dogs good night, because Santa was coming! It's strange, being the parents we still get so excited about Santa Claus, talking bout him as if he were real, hiding the several letters the kids leave out for him. And I don't feel we are deceiving our children. Yes, we are the ones buying the presents and putting them under the tree, but the spirit of Santa, the spirit of giving, is so real, so present in our lives, that we get carried away, and for a night, we become children again. 
Today is the third day of Christmas, and formerly, in Christianity, the period from Christmas Day until the Epiphany (Three Kings) was considered a secret time, the most magical period of the year. Today I had a magical moment. We went to the movies, all except my little Chubbers, who stayed with our kind neighbors, and after I picked her up, and prepared her for bed, I settled down in the rocking chair. I asked her what she wanted, and she only patted my chest and gave me a mischievous look. I nursed her, with Enya singing her Winter songs in the background, highlighted by the soft sighs of my sleeping Cangri. I nursed my big baby, and then the dogs started barking. 
Jeff came running to the room saying excitedly, "There are deers in our front yard!!!!" and I looked out of the window and saw them, the silhouette of three magnificent deer, walking on the white street, illuminated by our Christmas lights and the moonlight. "They're Santa's deer!" Jeff said, and the children oohed and ahed and Swan asked me what they were doing. "They're hungry. They're looking for food," I said. Chubbers looked at me matter-of-factly and told the deer, in her hoarse sleepy little voice, "Wait! We have Lucky Charms!!!" 
We all laughed, and Jeff and the older kids went downstairs to play with their puppets, and I went back to the rocking chair, my baby who hummed "Oh Emmanuel" while she tried to nurse. And I felt peace, and contentment. Our king is born, and I felt his peace tonight.    

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still the One...

If ten years ago anyone had asked me where and what I would be today, I would have given many probable answers, including, happily married, with several kids, doing what I love the most. I realize now what a blessed person I am because each and every one of those answers are true. Last Friday Jeff and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. It was bitter cold, just like ten years ago, but now, instead of just being the two of us, there are four other little people (and two dogs) that make our lives full of happiness and love. We spent the evening watching our beautiful Swan Princess dance in The Nutcracker as a Cookie. She looked so small and young in that huge stage, but she did such a great job! Who knows! Maybe in ten years she will be Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy... For now she's our precious little girl, all spunk and tenderness.
We spent a wonderful week, going to Boondocks for family night, visiting Santa's reindeer at Thanksgiving Point. We went to see "A Christmas Carol," and we had a blast.
The kids had parties at school, and piano recital, and they're growing way too fast! 
Our Chubbers turned two, and she had a ladybug themed birthday party. How much fun she had! 
School is over, piano lessons on hold, Nutcracker is done, so now we just have to wait for Christmas day to arrive, and I look around and I see that all the things I could ask for, I already have, and I am so grateful to Father for his love and blessings. 
The highlight of our year is almost here, and I could not imagine being happier. I have the most beautiful kids, the most loving husband who still makes me laugh and brings me flowers every week, I do what I love, I am a mother and I finally wrote my book. I imagine the next ten years and I am excited. Who knows what adventures await me... I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

El Cangri's Caveman talk

El Cangri will be four in February, but he still talks like a caveman. "Me play with mami," "Papa dance with I," Things like that. I don't worry about this because Gorgeous was a little slow talking too, and it was because of our family's speaking both English and Spanish. Now, listening to Gorgeous, you'd never imagine he had a problem at all; he's completely bilingual.
 El Cangri had a wart on his chest; it started as a tiny bump and then grew, and even had two little offspring warts around it. I put some clove oil on it, and miraculously, three weeks later, the unwelcome wart family, disappeared completely.
I told El Cangri to show his "nana" to Jeff, and he did proudly. When Jeff asked him where the wart went, El Cangri replied, "To the garbage house." He meant the garbage can. But we all knew what he wanted to say, and we all laughed, and for once, he wasn't embarrassed we were laughing at him, and he started jumping around and hooting with laughter chanting, "I'm a go-gorilla! I'm a go-gorilla!" I just keep adding these moments. One day they will be priceless when we retell them to the girlfriend he brings home. I'm already laughing.   

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas again!

Just a quick post to let you know that I have survived writing my book; real life claimed me again, and after the kids' birthdays, and Thanksgiving, and several other things, I haven't gotten around to posting anything. I did update my playlist, and I have my very favorite Christmas songs on it. Halloween and Thanksgiving are such wonderful holidays, but nothing compares to the Christmas season, all the way from the end of November to January 6th. Every year, I'm humbled by how blessed I am to have such a great family, healthy kids, a house, life. I just can't stop thanking our Lord for so many blessings. And when I think of Jesus during these weeks, it's always the Child-God that comes to my mind, all innocence and peace. I look at my kids, and they remind me constantly of Jesus, even though I could have a little more peace around here, especially before dinner time ;0) 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

NANOWRIMO WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Winner Icon
Dear Family and friends: I have done it!!!!!! I completed my goal and I couldn't be prouder! I know I still have a long road in front of me. I finished with over 51,000 words, but my story requires way more than that. However, for the purposes of NaNoWriMo I have finished my task. It will be a while before I can be ready for anyone to read my book though, all I can say for now is that it's called: "Orange Blossoms for Victoria" and is set in beautiful Puerto Rico and Cuba. 
Thanks, thanks, thanks to everyone for your support and faith in me. I have been sleeping an average of three hours per night this last week, and it's 3 in the morning right now. I am exhausted, but so happy I don't know if I will be able to sleep. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Super Mario Party

This week we celebrated Gorgeous Boy's eighth birthday. He had wanted a Super Mario Birthday Party for a long time, and since I tried my best with Swan's party (remember the Dragon cake?), I thought the least I could do was try my best to make his cake too. I made the cake, which I am so proud of how it turned out!, and we gave out treat boxes which contained glow in the dark stars, chocolate gold coins, stickers, and block candy.
The pinata was a lot of fun, except that it was very flimsy. Gorgeous and Swan were the only kids who got to whack it with a bat because, unbelievably, after Swan hit it, the pinata broke and all the kids rushed to get the candy. Children that age are wonderful. I had not prepared any games, but they made up their own, fashioned after the video games all kids seem to be addicted too: Mario tag, Pooka freeze tag, etc.
We had a lot of fun, and even though I am so happy my boy is growing so strong and happy, I am a little sad at how fast time is passing. It seems like yesterday that he was born oblivious to a huge snow storm raging outside the hospital, in a little town of North Carolina. He seemed so breakable, I felt so overwhelmed, but he survived, and he is a happy boy, loved by everyone who meets him. Proof of that are the 26 kids we invited to the party, and all of them except for two broken hearted-ones attended.  
He will be baptized in our church in a few days, and he is so eager to learn, to do what is right, to please, that I have made the resolution to be a more gentle mom with him; he is trying so hard!!!!
I love you Gorgeous Boy! What a gift you are in my life!  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh My Gosh

The ticker is showing 4 more hours till Twilight is released. I have to wait until tomorrow night to see it though. How fun! I can't wait!!!
And in case you haven't noticed my word count: 30,008 words. Isn't that great!
Coming soon: pictures and celebrations of Gorgeous turning 8. My baby is growing!!!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Writing frenzy

If you look at the counter on the right hand side of this blog, you will see that I have breached the 10,000 word mark. Yoohoo! I'm pumped! as my gangsta' husband would say. All I'm hoping for ismy laundry to be magically done today, so that I can write and have a good word cushion for the next following days. As many of you know, Gorgeous' birthday is coming up, and soon after is Chubber's and mine, and Thanksgiving, and school field trips, and two! Relief Society enrichment activities, and to add to the list, stomach virus. Yes, my friends, El Cangri threw up at school, and I can sense it will be a long weekend. Have I mentioned Jeff is going out of town today?
Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

5500 words

I have more than 10%. Thanks for all your words of support friends!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Go Mr President!

I pray that Heavenly Father may protect our brand new President Elect. For the good of our families, our nation, our world. So many lives will be touched by today's events. Can you hear the tides of history changing their course? What an exciting time to be alive, and in this wonderful country!

Monday, November 03, 2008


O.K, friends, I'm going to post something completely random, but very important to me. As you can see from this post, I've entered NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month), and even though my word count is very modest at the moment (a mere 250 words), I wanted to let you all know of this undertaking for very selfish reasons--to keep myself accountable. You see, the purpose if this competition is to write a 50,000 word novel (it's really not that much) during the month of November. Some of you know I've been working on a story for several months now, but I've put that one on hold, and started a clean slate. This other story was already taking place in my mind, and I was going to start it after my first novel was finished. At the end of this month I hope to have 2 books to work on. That's all. I've done it. Now I can't just quit this because everyone knows I'm doing it. I think it's a little crazy for me to embark on this adventure during this month, when we have three birthdays in our family, and Thanskgiving. But you know what? I've always done much better under stress. My best papers were always the ones I wrote at the last minute.
Please, ask me how I'm doing. This will keep me going.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Night of the Crazy Creatures

This weekend has been a lot of fun! We started our weekend on Thursday, like good Latin Americans that we are, and Jeff and I went to the Haunted Forest with my brother L. and his wife S. I've had a fascination with terrifying things since I was a little girl. I remember being scared out of my skin, but still watching vampire movies, or reading Anne Rice books. I think that was the beginning of my horrific sleeping habits. Thursday was not an exception; even though I knew it was "just pretend", I was very nervous about entering the Forest, but I did it anyway! Jeff and my brother were terribly horrible to S and me, who shrieked so bad that people were scared of our screams. We even started screaming at a guy with a lantern, who was coming our way, but who turned out to be someone who worked there for maintenance I guess... Yes, we were hysterical.
Friday was a crazy day because I was helping in Swan's classroom party, and Jeff had a business lunch and couldn't watch the babies. So I took them with me, and everything was O.K. for the first part, until El Cangri started eating doughnuts and his little system had so much sugar that he couldn't handle himself anymore. He had a temper tantrum of epic proportions, and I'm happy to say I didn't lose my cool. I let him cry until I took him and Chubbers to the car and he collapsed in his car seat.
I did get to rest a little in the afternoon. The children were extremely excited, and they helped with the last minute decorations and food preparations. I made pumpkin soup and sugar cookies, but we didn't have dinner until after trick-or-treating. Once my brother and his family finally arrived, we set out to our round of the neighborhood. I was very grateful that El Cangri agreed to wear the outfit I spent weeks making and that he had requested in the first place (in the morning he preferred being a Power Ranger): Max from the classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are." The night was very pleasant, until it started raining. El Cangri was painfully slow, and he kept asking me, "Are the monsters there? Are the pirates there?" I saw my brother look at the sidewalk for a long time, and then with incredulity in his eyes he asked, "Who's barefooted?" There were tiny outlines of feet on the pavement. I cringed, and I checked the one kid I hadn't check before we left the house. El Cangri has a pair of black Crocs that he was supposed to be wearing. He had also been wearing black socks, so from the distance (and being so near-sighted I hadn't noticed!) it looked like he had his Crocs on, when in reality he was only wearing socks. My poor, poor child!!!! So I decided to turn back home, but we were so slow that not many minutes had passed when Jeff was coming back home with the older kids.
The kids had candy for dinner (Chubbers was like a chain smoker, only it was suckers she kept putting in her mouth as soon as she finished one), and the adults had soup. Jeff and my brother didn't like it, oh well! Later the babies (all 4 of them including El Cangri and Chubbers, and my brother's M and baby G) went to bed, and Gorgeous very bravely watched "The Haunted Mansion" with his cousin C. Swan didn't want to watch a scary show, so Jeff let her watch a funny movie on his computer in her bed. Later, we watched a horror flick Jeff and my brother had rented for the adults. It was one of the "Saw" movies, so terribly gory, bloody, ridiculous scripted, boring. Bah! Jeff fell asleep, and my brother and his family left after we had endured what seemed like 20 hours of severed limbs and predictable dialog.
When I went downstairs to check on the boys, I found them sharing a sleeping bag on the theater room carpet, each clutching a copy of the Book of Mormon. My brother hasn't been active in the church for years, so his kids don't know about the BOM, so Gorgeous, as he told me the next day, was trying to be a missionary for his cousin. Isn't that the sweetest thing? After all the candy, the scary movies, the costumes, and the craziness, there was time for spirituality and tenderness too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Am Legend--Again

I already wrote about "I Am Legend", the movie. I just signed up for goodreads.com and since yesterday I got brave and finally read the book, I thought I'd publish my review. If you're not already on goodreads, go ahead and sign up; it's an awesome website. Kind of like facebook for book lovers.
Here it is!

I Am Legend I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been thinking about this story ever since I saw the movie several months ago. I was very hesitant to read the book because I was afraid it would be too graphic, or too scary. Well, it is a scary story, and not because of the vampires, but because it's about a vampirism plague that wipes humanity out of the face of the earth. The main character, Robert Neville, lost both his wife and daughter to the pandemic. I think the scary part for me was imagining I was in his place, knowing that I couldn't protect my children if they were infected, that nothing I did would save them. For this reason I think the book is scarier and sadder than the movie. Even though I tried to picture the character as the author describes him in his book (German-English descent), I kept seeing Will Smith in mind. Will Smith made a terrific Neville in the movie; he really conveyed the suffering and anguish Matheson describes in the book.

The writing is very well done, descriptive, not too harsh or graphic. There's not vulgarity either, so that was a plus. I was worried at first that the language would be bad. I recommend this book, especially during Halloween time, and also if you want to read about a person's determination to live even when there's apparently nothing to live for.

This copy I borrowed from the library contains other stories by Matheson. They are all suspenseful and/or scary. There is one story, "Prey", that I was familiar with. When I was a young girl I saw a film version of it, and it's one of the many reasons I'm still afraid of ethnic dolls or wooden carvings of people. you read it and you'll know why.

When I read "Prey" I realized Matheson's stories are well known, but his name is not--at least in my case, I hadn't heard of him before I am Legend came out as a movie.

View all my reviews.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bookmark seller

My little Swan Princess has my heart in her hands. I know I've written about her charm in several occasions, but today, my heart melted with love. Today we had wonderful weather; it must have been high 70's, and Gorgeous Boy wanted to set up a little store to get money so we could go to a haunted maze. We had planned on going anyway; I don't know why the kids felt they needed to help pay for the outing, but all the same, they wanted to do something to earn some money. Princess thought they could sell fruit, and yes, we had several peaches and apples, but none she could sell for $5.00 each, so she gave up on the fruit idea. Then Gorgeous decided to go sell golf balls with his friend and next door neighbor. Jeff helped them collect balls from the creek that runs on the back of our house, and the little boys set up a table right by the country club entrance to sell the balls they had collected. They ended up selling only one. Their lone customer: Swan Princess, who payed $.25 for a ball that had already been in her room before her brother decided to add it to his inventory.
Swan Princess still wanted to earn her own money, and after much thinking, she ran to my room where I was nursing Chubbers and trying to have a little nap, and happily announced she had decided to sell bookmarks! Her little delicate hands were clutching a collection of cards, tags, pieces of ribbon, that she had gathered from several hiding places. 
I told her that selling bookmarks was a great idea and I actually drifted off for a few minutes. When I got up, I went to the front door, and I saw this:

My daughter's singsong voice kept chanting :
"Bookmarks, for saaaaaaaale.
Over here, 25 cents ........ Bookmarks."

I'm not exactly sure why, but my eyes filled with tears, and in my mind, I was taken back to Rosario, where I've seen kids selling cards, stamps, flowers, not for a fun family outing but to avoid being beaten for not bringing money to abusive parents, or to feed themselves and/or hungry little siblings.
Her fragile silhouette, her shrill little voice, the puppy by her side, made me want to protect her forever, to shield her from this world, to keep her innocent and happy all her life. I know she'll grow, she does everyday; this little girl of mine is so smart and bright! But this image of her is branded in my mind. 
"Bookmarks, for sale
Over here, 25 cents..." 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've been tagged!!!

I've been tagged by Tiffany, and I'm thrilled because it's the first time ever that I've been tagged in almost 2 years of blogging!
It's a fun tag too. You have to go to your 6th photo folder and pick the 6th picture. This one I got is from our trip to England last year, though it feels like a lifetime ago. Wow! I actually was there once! This pic was taken in London. I have no idea whose statue that is, or what cool building is in the background. Oh! I just remembered! It's Westminster Abbey, where my beloved Henry II, Harry to his friends, is buried. 
I tag Cristina, Aline, Adriana, Candice and Kady!!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Snowing!!!!!!!!!

No more to say! A couple of days ago we were wearing shorts, and drinking mate in the yard; Today, it's finally winter! Where did fall go? It just passed us by? I feel like Piglet in that Winnie-the-Pooh movie, when in October Rabbit losses some pages from his calendar, and believes they're on Groundhog Day. Piglet asks in a little sad voice, "have we missed Christmas then?"
I feel like asking, "Have we missed Halloween? The most excellent holiday of the year?"
Oh brother!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Date with My Son

I know that lately I've been posting a lot more about my oldest child, Gorgeous Boy, than about the other three little ones. This hasn't been because he's my favorite or anything, quite the contrary. No, no, you're wrong again. He's not my least favorite either; I don't have a favorite among my kids. Even though I couldn't believe my mom when I was a little girl, I do know now that a mother has a different kind of love for each child. But I digress, I'm posting a lot about my Gorgeous because since he's the oldest, he's the one who gets relegated all the time, the one I spend the least time with, the one I spoil the less, the one I demand more from. He's also the first one to do many things, so his first times are also mine.
In his school parents have to volunteer a certain amount of hours each year because the school was literally organized by parents and is ran by us, the parents. So, besides doing my class rotations every week, I also volunteered to go on a field trip with Gorgeous' second grade class. They were visiting the Hindu Temple, about half an hour from home. I had always wanted to visit it, and this was my chance to get to see it AND spend some alone time with my son. Well, alone is a figure of speech because there were 3 classes of about 22 kids each on the same bus. You do the math. To say that the ride was noisy is a complete understatement. Fortunately, I'm an expert in blocking out whiny, demanding kids, so after a few minutes, the noise turned into a drone, white noise. My boy cuddled with me all the way to our destination (we visited a pond first because the class is studying habitats), he nestled with my hair (like when he was a baby), we talked, I saw him joke and play with his little friends. I about burst with pride when I saw him share his lunch with a little boy whose mom had forgotten to pack a lunch for. 
At the temple, the kids were so respectful! Most, if not all of them, are LDS, so they know a Temple is a special place of worship. The temple is surrounded by a working farm, and the kids saw miniature cows, peacocks, llamas. The kids could walk the llamas, and they even had a llama race.
Once inside the temple, a gentleman (I assume he was the leader of the congregation, but I lack the correct name for his position. A yogi? Pardon my ignorance) gave us an overview about India. What a fascinating place! After that, we were taken to a second floor, where the children participated in a chant. That experience was mesmerizing to me. Their little bodies swaying with the music, feeling the sacredness of it with their own souls, clapping their hands in unison, and rising their bell-like voices in a mantra as old as the world:
 "Hare Khishna, 
Hare Hare, 
Rama Khrishna, 
Rama Rama,
Rama Hare."

The adults were a little confused about this. Were we supposed to want our kids to chant this mantra, even though God was named in another way than the one we use all the time? I could feel some of the parents were a little uncomfortable, but I felt elated seeing my son being so open to other cultures. I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't want him to embark in an spiritual quest, abandoning the church. But I do want him, and his siblings, to learn that other peoples find God in other places, with other names. And that if the world could learn that, we'd live in Paradise. 
After the song, a Yogi taught the kids a few yoga exercises. Again, I couldn't help feeling so envious of these children's capacity to learn, to open their minds and souls to new things. 
As a side note, both the Yogi, and the man who gave us the tour were older men. The yoga teacher was almost 50 years old, and I've never seen a person in better shape in my whole life (other than on TV, and not all we see on TV is real). The guide (for lack of the correct word) was in his 70's and he was svelte, and limber, energetic, healthy. There's much to think about that vegetarian diet! 
My favorite part of the day?
Gorgeous took my face in his hands, kissed my cheek, and said, "This has been the happiest day of my life." 
I can't add any other words to that. 
Here's some pics!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I know it's long overdue: What is Mate?

I know I talk about drinking mate all the time (I talk about it all the time and drink it all the time), and many of you who have known me forever have either seen me have my mate ritual or have participated with me. In essence, mate is an herbal tea, more accurately, an infusion. I could write about the wonderful properties of yerba mate, an herb that grows in the semi-tropical climates of Southern Brazil , Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. I could write about how impressed the Spanish conquistadores were to find the mate drinking South American aborigines were very vigorous and healthy. I could write about how yerba mate is replacing coffee, tea, and green tea as the new energy drink of the century; you get the high without the bad side effects.  

I could provide numbers to prove mate is healthy and good for you, but I won't. I'll just give you a basic rules of mate serving and drinking etiquette, and I'll finish with what this drink means to me.

First you need the right tools: a mate (the container) which is a small cup. It can be plastic, metal, a gourd, carved wood, a hollowed out cow horn, etc. Just a container that won't leak and that won't be too hot to the touch. The mate can be very ornate or very simple. Some people (myself included) note the difference of flavor if you drink from a plastic mate opposed to a wood one. Personally, I love gourds and wooden mates.

You also need a bombilla, which is basically a straw with a tiny strainer at the end to filter the yerba. NOBODY likes to end up with tiny bits of yerba in their mouths. Those little bits can get stuck in your throat and itch like crazy.

Last but not least, you need yerba, the actual herb. There are all kinds of yerba, with dust, without dust, strong, soft, with digestive herbs, Uruguayan, Brazilian, Argentine, traditional, wild harvested, organic. People usually like the yerba they're used to. I don't like my mate too strong; I get a stomachache if the tea ends up too bitter. 

Optional: sugar, herbs like chamomile and peppermint, orange or lemon zest, you name it. I like my mate clean, occasionally I'll add peppermint leaves from my own garden.

Once you have prepared your mate, you add the water, which will be hot, but not boiling. You don't want to burn your yerba. The cebador (the one that prepares and distribute the mate) drinks the first one which will be very bitter. The flavor softens as the yerba gets diluted. If there's a group of people (a ronda), the cebador will pass it to his right. Each person takes a turn drinking from the mate, and the person taking a turn drinks all of it. No one likes to drink left over mate from the person before (I know, we're all drinking with the same straw already! But it's true; you drink all of your mate). When the person is done, the mate returns to the cebador who will repeat the process with all the members of the ronda. Remember, it's usually family and close friends who share mate. It's no fun to drink with 20 other people, besides being unhygienic, no one likes to wait half an hour for a mate. 

One important rule: don't touch the bombilla; if you do, the mate will be ruined and the yerba will lose its flavor. Don't touch the bombilla!

Drinking mate is the opposite of watching TV; it makes you talk with your mate drinking companions, or if you're drinking solo, it makes you think. I've always studied or read with my my mate by my side; it helps me relax.

Families drink mate together in the morning, or in the afternoon, or after meals. When friends come visit, you offer mate to them. My best friend G and I can drink gallons while we talk. If you go to a home where you don't know the family, don't be offended if they don't offer you a mate, but be prepared to accept if they do offer. Rejecting mate is like rejecting food, a personal affront to the hosts. In my family we're very particular with whom we drink mate. I remember when I was a teenager, my next door neighbor, who had known me all my life, finally invited me to drink mate with him. My brother was in shock, but to me it meant that this neighbor had finally "adopted" me as his granddaughter. I loved listening to his stories as a young boy working in the fields and the factories. 

In our Argentine culture, the sign that you're finally an adult is when you prepare your own mate, just for yourself, instead of the whole family. I don't remember when I made my own mate for the first time. Was I worried, happy, stressed, in love? I don't know, but I do know it must have been a special occasion. When Jeff and I got married, my 4 best friends from Argentina sent me a super nice mate set. It's not a proper home without your very own mate set. 

Mate is present in every Argentine home, be it poor or rich, Canaya or Leprosa (reference to Rosario's football teams), Socialists, Capitalists, young, old, ignorant, college professors, doctors, the president, writers, musicians, group of students, nuns and priests ... the list can go on forever. 

Mate means you put up with the most horrible, watered down mate just because the conversation is good, not the mate. It means you take turns, you drink while the other talks and vice-versa; you at least say "Thank You" once a day, when you are done drinking mate for now. 

Mate is not only the herbal tea, the health benefits, the ritual; mate is companionship, conversation, confidences, part of our Argentiness. Our neighboring countries drink mate too; especially Uruguayans who are also known as "Panza Verdes" ("Green Bellies"), and mate means similar things to them. 

I love it when my kids drink with me; I let them drink it when the yerba is watered down and cool. Once they get a taste of it, they'll never let it go. My kids even have a play "mate set" instead of a "tea set", and they've invited me to many a nice mate ronda, complete with philosophical questions and conclusions and all. Very "Argentine."

Even my very boricua Jeff has become addicted to mate, but he still only drinks it with me; it's our special time to talk at night or even work in our individual projects, joined by this give and take of mate drinking. 

We have mate at home, in the parks, at the beach, on the cruises we've been; we've taking it to our trip to Europe, with a well marked package, mind you, in case people think it's an illegal substance or something. We have mate during long drives; I take my mate things when we go to holiday dinners to our extended family's homes. 

Mate is an essential part of my food storage; I can do without many things, but not my yerba. When our prophet, President Hinckley visited Argentina back in '96, we were all a little anxious he would say something about this herbal tea. We all sighed with relief when he didn't. And I know for a fact even several of the General Authorities and Area Authorities were relieved too. 

Mate drinking is as much a part of me as Rosario Central, Argentina's football team, Soda Stereo, or the smell of jasmine in the spring. Can't imagine my life without it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Boy Scout

My Gorgeous Son has been attending Boy Scout's meetings for a couple of weeks, and since he's his mama's son, he wasn't happy until I got him his uniform. So here are some pictures of him, and my poor other babies who have to wait all afternoon in the car on Thursdays.
My Gorgeous almost broke his arm last Saturday; his bone actually bended. He wore a splint for a couple of days, and fortunately the Dr told me that his bones had been hit pretty hard, but that they were O.K. Yeah!!!! Gorgeous had stitches and a cast this Summer. Hopefully we'll have no more accidents around here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No time

My beautiful Gorgeous Boy is seven-years-old, and I'm shocked every time I notice how tall he is, how smart, how questioning. He's growing! This change from little boy into a big boy has been hard for me. I tend to think he has a lot of clothes, for example, and today I checked the tag of a pair of some blue school pants that seemed too small and I saw that they were size 5. Yeah, poor kid. No wonder he kept complaining they were too tight! It was the same with El Cangri a few weeks ago. I thought his shoes were a size 7 at the most, and no, he's a size 9. He has no shoes other than crocs.
The change is also hard for my son. He goes to school from 8 to 3, has futbol practice twice a week for 2 hours, futbol games on Friday, guitar and piano. Don't forget scouts, and homework, and taking care of Coco, and reading, and scripture reading ... The list goes on and on, and I find myself questioning our life. I've tried not to over schedule Gorgeous and Swan, but they want to go to school (I would home school if it was up to me, but they LOVE school), and they love their sports. Futbol and ballet are their outlets. They really love music too, and Gorgeous won't replace guitar for piano, so it had to be both. I don't know how people with more than 2 kids manage to drive them to all their appointments. I don't know what I'll do when the babies start their activities. I just see they're tired and stressed, and they're only 7 and 5! Today, after school, and doing homework, I asked Gorgeous to go get ready for futbol practice. To my surprise, he started crying and saying, "I miss you mom! I haven't seen you all day! I want to be with you!" I want to be with him too, but I don't see a solution; at least we have Saturdays completely free. They are sacred to me; I just let them play all day. I hope the children learn how to do chores just by my example because I can't bring myself to adding something else to their already overflowing plates. Taking care of the dogs is the only chore they'll have for now. We'll see how we do in these following months.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Fairy

The week before Swan's birthday my parents came to my house. My mom was holding something behind her, and my nephew C. had a mischievous smile on his face.
As they came closer, C. shrieked, "You'll never guess what we brought!!!" and before he blurted out the secret, my mom revealed what she had.
In a cardboard box, surrounded by a fluff of lamb's wool was a baby hummingbird. My dad found him on their sidewalk. Needless to say, my children were jumping up and down with happiness, fighting to be the first one to touch the fairy. The hummingbird was very young; he fluttered his tiny wings, trying to take flight. He would just go back to the box, exhausted with exertion. We all took turns to hold him and feed him. Gorgeous ran to our front yard and came back with a handful of flowers from our butterfly bush. I tried to explain to him that the little bird wouldn't even try to feed, but I was wrong. I was shocked to see a long, needle-thin, black tongue coming out to drink from the flower. Gorgeous was beaming with pride. My mom prepared sugar water, and one by one we wet our finger on it and let the baby hummingbird drink it.
To my surprise and delight, the baby lived several days, I think about 2 more weeks. My mom put him outside in the little box, and the mother hummingbird would come feed him; however, one day she just stopped coming. That only Sunday Jeff was home, my mom brought the fairy for Jeff to see him. We were watching the Olympics closing ceremony, and reluctantly Jeff raised from the couch to come see the hummingbird for himself. In spite of himself, I saw a glimpse of the little boy Jeff had been, peaking through his eyes, showing his delight in touching such a beautiful, innocent, magical being.
The hummingbird's soul flew to Heaven on a beautiful Summer night. He left a little bit of his magic with us.

From New Album 8/24/08 6:35 PM

From New Album 8/24/08 6:35 PM

From New Album 8/24/08 6:35 PM