"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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Good things come to those who wait

Christmas is all about the kids. It's about them getting to their Nutcracker practices and having their moment of glory performing on stage. It's about them staying up late watching Christmas movies and overdosing on sugar. It's about the kids receiving presents and being so ecstatic about Christmas they can't even sleep on Christmas Eve Eve. But I know that for some children, Christmas is not only about receiving, but about giving.
This year my 9 year-old son had a birthday party just a few days before Christmas Eve. He received one of the best presents a little boy could get: a box of pink, sweet smelling, sticky chewing gum. I was surprised when on Christmas Eve he announced he had presents for the family, and even more surprised to see that in each of his siblings' stockings he had placed a packet of gum. He had nothing left for himself, but the smile on his face showed that giving presents to others left a more satisfying high than sugar.

Several years ago I used to help in our Church's primary class, of which my mom was the president. There was a little girl whose name I can't remember, but whose face is branded on my mind. Her family was very poor, but the Sunday before Christmas Eve, she wanted to give my mom a present. Right after the class, I saw the slender, ash-blond haired girl walk up to my mom with a little package in her hands. The package was wrapped in newspaper, but the contents were more valuable than diamonds. My mom opened the package, and inside

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is it really almost Christmas?

We've had our Christmas tree since the day after Thanksgiving, and it's been snowing like crazy over the last few days, but I feel like Halloween was last week, and I barely glimpsed at Thanksgiving.
It might have a lot to do with my being completely immersed in my writing project, which is still not finished, but which I'm in love with :-)

Maybe it's because our Christmas tree is downstairs, as are the stockings and the nativity. Still, when I go check on the kids while they play, I can't help but smile when I see the tiny figurine of a very pregnant Mary riding a donkey and accompanied by Joseph, as they make their way to the stable.
The two older kids are performing in the Nutcracker this year, and their rehearsal schedule is insane. AND, I had the brilliant idea of signing up the little ones for daily swimming lessons. Of course, as soon as classes started, they both got an awful cough. But oh well, they're loving it!
I've updated the blog music and background, and even if I'm not posting everyday, I don't want to lose the habit of updating the blog.
I'm grateful for my kids who keep the Christmas spirit alive, even when our schedule is so busy.
On Friday, Chubbers was too sick for swimming lessons, and when I was cleaning the kitchen I noticed she was sitting, quiet as a mouse (VERY out of character for her), looking out the window.
I asked her, "What are you looking at?"
And she sighed, and without looking at me answered, "Christmas."
I want to open my eyes too, and my heart, and see Christmas just as she does, as all of my kids do.
See the magic of the most wonderful time of the year. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I did it again!

I'm still working on my novel because even after more than 50,000 words there is still a lot I need to say, but I reached my goal, a whole week ahead of schedule. It feels wonderful!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things my kids say that make me cry, laugh, or think (not in that order)

I always want to write down the things my kids say, and I never have pen and paper handy when they deliver their shiniest pearls. I often forget; the feeling of wonderment at their thinking skills, or sense of humor is all that is left at the end of the day. I've found myself telling Jeff, "I don't remember what Swan said, but she made me laugh," more times than I can remember. Do you notice a pattern here; I forget things.
Well, for some mysterious reason these following things are imprinted on my mind. Enjoy:

1. Me angry because he's banging on the table with a car: Cangri, 1, 2 ...  Cangri stops what he's doing.
Gorgeous looks up from homework and asks: Mom, what happens when you reach 3?
Me: *Silence*

2. Me: Chubbers, where's Dandi the dog?
Chubbers, lying in the bathtub surrounded by bubbles: Hmmm. In the drier... (that's after we looked for the dog all over the house. We could hear her bark, but we couldn't find her. Finally Jeff saw her in the drier. Imagine her little face peering through the glass, eyes full of hope we wouldn't turn the drier on. "
AAHHH! But that's not all.
Following the conversation is El Cangri. He hears Chubbers had put the dog in the drier, and he asks, eyes sparkling with malice (yes people, it was malice): Did it go fast????!!!!!! 

3. Me (in the driver's seat picking up the kids from school the day I got braces): Hi babes!
Babes: AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! You look like The Other Mother!!!! (from Coraline)
Me thinks: Yeah, I look great with braces.

4. Kids watched Snowwhite. (I don't know how to spell it!!!!! Too lazy to Google). They're singing the Hi Ho song while picking up stuffed animals in Cangri's room downstairs and taking them upstairs to Chubbers room. I assume the stuffed animals were the gems, I guess. Well, they sing the Hi Ho song, including the whistling! to the Jai Ho song from Slumdog Millionaire.

5. Swan to friend: Would you rather kiss a boy or die?
Friend thinks and says: Hmmmm, I guess "Kiss a boy." But ONLY on the cheek.
Swan: Yeaahhhhh. ONLY on the cheeks.

6. Swan: If you want to be a rockstar, you have to shave your pits.

7. Swan doing a puppet show. On the 15th minute of her monologue, she says: And they will continue tomorrow.
Jeff and I: Phewwwww!!!
Swan: Cock-a-doodle-doo. It's the next day!

8. Swan on the drive to ballet lessons. She was looking out the window and gazing at the sky: Sometimes I think we're God's toys. He plays with us like we play with dolls. And then he goes take a nap.
Me thinking about the little girl NC who was missing and then found dead: *nod* *nod* I know exactly how you feel.

9: Cangri at the school holiday bazaar waiting to get a picture with Santa: That's not Santa. That's Mr Wright (one of the teachers) Santa. I want to go talk to the other one with the glasses (He's talking about the guy at the mall where we get the kids' pictures with Santa).

10. Gorgeous closing his eyes tight for his birthday wish. (BTW, I can't believe I have a 9 year old): *whispers*
Later Jeff asked him what he had wished for and he said: For Chubbers and El Cangri to be easier for mom. 
Me: *can't speak. Too humbled that he'll "spend" his wish on me*. 

They make me crazy, and mad, but mostly, happy. I love these kids!        

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Day three of NaNo

The characters have been my friends for almost two years. I wrote a short story, made up so many conversations in my mind, found awesome music to play along, but the characters are not coming out as I had thought they would. Are they better? Worse? Only time will tell. I just know that now the voice of the book is younger (have I been reading too much YA), and that might be because I'm exploring the first person, present POV (Point of View). I'm really excited because I've been able to write everyday, and my count is 7,500 words already. Not too bad for day 3, huh?
I have great hopes for this story. I don't know why, but I feel this one is closer to my heart than the other two. Could it be because it's set in Rosario, Argentina? That might have a lot to do with it. Why is it that even though I've been away for almost 12 years, my thoughts always drift to my childhood, the barrio, the sounds of my youth? Writing this book is like a therapy, and I'm glad to realize that all the feelings I had kept inside are producing happy scenes. But I need some conflict, and that won't take long to come. It just breaks my heart that my characters have to suffer, but I promise I have a great ending in sight. I hope the one I planned two years ago still fits them.

On another note, and as I had promised, here are some Halloween pictures. I hope you like'em.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This will be a lightening post. We're a couple of hours from the great Halloween festivities. They will mainly involve massive amounts of candy, wild kids, uncontrollable crying when the sugar high subsides, and many high fructose induced nightmares. Other than that, It'll be fun!
I DVR'ed lots of shows. After last year fiasco with Saw V, I'm never renting out a horror movie. What a waste of money and desire to be scared!
I've been getting my dose of fright by reading "The Queen of the Damned," third book in the Vampire Trilogy. I love Lestat, Louis and Armand. My favorite vampires. But please you gorgeous guys (yes, you vampires) don't attempt any contact with me; I'm very happy just reading about you on Halloween.
El Cangri is wearing a Batman outfit that he got for his birthday; Swan is a mermaid, Chubbers is Snow-white (how do you spell it? Two "W's"?), and Gorgeous decided Thursday night, like 6 hours before his school party, that he wanted to be the ghost he saw in the Chasing Fireflies catalog. Since it was impossible for me to get the costume in such a short notice (he's clearly Jeff's and mine son, the procastinator), he agreed to wear long white underwear and a draped sheet. I powdered his exuberant curls, and painted his face. He did look like a ghost. I'll be an Autumn Fairy, and Jeff's still undecided, the procastinator. It's only 3 hours till trick-or-treating!
On Thursday we went to a Halloween store, and El Cangri totally freaked out. The older kids and I were bent over laughing (oh the meanness! But it was funny!) and Chubbers kept yelling, "Leave him alone!" to the many Halloween decorations and props. She extended her little arm, as if stopping the infernal fiends with her chubby little hands. And the voice she made! She sounded so tough. I finally had to give up trying to pay for the hair glitter spray, and I asked the guy dressed as a werewolf to move from the door so that I could leave. I wonder if people thought the store had pay me to have a shrieking child thrashing on the floor because he was so scared. It was funny for me and the older kids, but the little ones were terrified.
As soon as we get a picture with our costumes, I'll post it. For now, Happy Halloween! And be safe! And have fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Utah Children's Writers: NaNoWriMo by Yamile Mendez

I wrote a guest post about NaNoWriMo on the Utah Children's Writers Bog. Take a look!
Utah Children's Writers: NaNoWriMo by Yamile Mendez

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Leaves

Since I posted last time, I have finished my manuscript. It was September 30th, and even though I had to stay until 3 AM, I made myself write, and I finished on the deadline I had set myself.
I'm working hard on edits now. OK, maybe not as hard as I should, but I'm revising my first chapters, and I'm loving it.
I can't believe it's the end of October already. We've had some very cold weather already, but mostly sunny ones, and I love to see my kids playing with the leaves outside. When they run back inside, their little hands are so cold they look purple.
Last week the kids had Fall break, and we went to soccer parties, a pirate place, a pumpkin patch and a maze. We had an Argentine asado with friends we hadn't seen for years. Our kids played together, speaking a mixture of English and Spanish, kicking a soccer ball all over the place.
Having Jeff at home turns my world upside down. Our mornings are lazy, and our evenings a whirlwind of activities.

Since my October has been so relaxed (blog-wise) I know I'll make up for it in November. Both Gorgeous Boy and I are participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). His goal is to write between 3,000 to 6,000 words. That's a lot of words for an 8 year-old, but he's determined to do it. Get this: he's even writing an outline to be prepared come November 1st.

My little cubs are calling for my attention. The sky is blue, but the the air reminds me we're in Autumn. My favorite time of the year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just because Nathan is so cool

I copied him and created my own Wordle.
In essence, I copied and pasted my whole WIP into this website, and it generated a cloud with the words from my story. I wasn't surprised by what I saw. Take a look:

It looks a little iffy because I couldn't generate a code for it and had to scan it. But, I'll make this revelation: my MC's names are...
You guessed! Rosemary and Lucien!

Dream Agent has a contest going

Nathan, AKA dream agent, has an excellent contest going on. Go check it out:
The first time I saw his post there were 840 entries. I read it on my phone, which is not my preferred medium to type, so I waited until I got home. That night there were 1300 entries. I thought, "Well, why would I ever enter? So many wonderful entries!"
The next day, when the entries had climbed to 2000, I thought, "I might as well throw my little grain of salt into the ocean. Who knows? I might get lucky. And since mine will be amongst the last entries, he might remember it easier."
Well, entries are over 2300, and even though the contest ends today, if you want to be daring, go ahead and enter your submission.
I have been so lazy blogging! But my good excuse is that I am deep into revisions for my manuscript which I finished on September 30th. It was the date/goal I had in mind when I started. Even though that night  I had to stay until 3 AM I finished it.
I read through it already, and I'm blown away at the amount of work still ahead of me, but I have hope. There are some little gems among those 86,000 words.
Also, I'm already plotting in my head the novel I will write during NaNoWriMo. It's a story that I have been so anxious to tell, that just thinking about it makes me smile.
Kids are in Fall break, and when I take a break from entertaining them,  I will sit down and write a proper post. Now, to get ready to go to the pumpkin patch!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The best of liking futbol so much

So yes, we suffered, like always, like we've come to expect at every game. Martin Parlermo, 37, saved us, the team, Maradona, the country. Here's the link to the goal on the 47' minute of the second half. Seeing Maradona like this makes me wanna cry. Lovely!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3) The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this book. The writing was a little choppy at times, and VERY predictable. I guess that after reading the third Robert Langdon book, I've come to recognize some elements Dan Brown uses: suspicious law enforcement officer, a girl to accompany Robert in his adventures, a race to find secret clues. However, I was surprised by the twist at the end, and I'm in awe at the amount of fantastic information Dan Brown used in this story. Just as I wanted to visit Paris to see for myself all the wonderful places described in The Da Vinci Code, or Rome after "Angels...", I now want to go back to Washington DC to see this city with new eyes. In fact, I went to Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and The Temple Church in London because I was so intrigued by what I had read in the books. There is a treasure trove in DC that I didn't know existed! I didn't learn that at school.
I think the greatest achievement of this book (for me) is that I want to learn more about the history of our country, and the architecture, and the men who saw a marvelous society and whose vision we've lost.
In the religious aspect, I can see how this book is an eye-opener for people. I liked that he said that every religion has things that outsiders view as strange. Being a Mormon, I can confirm that aspects of my religion ARE very strange to outsiders. I loved the message of this book, and they way Brown tells it. It's everything JJ Benitez's books  should and could have been, but fell short of. I love the mixture of fiction and facts. Just the perfect formula to keep myself entertained and informed at the same time.
I definitely recommend it.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My new comfort movie?

Doesn't it look incredible? What a year for movies! I can't wait.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How I was asked to do my first ever school visit as a writer and how it went

Last week, I received a very shocking email from the reading specialist at a charter school in SLC. He explained that since September is Hispanic Heritage Month, the school was participating in the  International Reading Association's Read-In Chain, and as a Hispanic writer, they would love to have me go to the school and read to the kids. When I first read this I panicked. After all, I'm not even published, and I write YA novels, but Jeff said, "Why not? You'll love it!" So I said yes.
I was very nervous preparing what to read, what books to take along with me. I realized that there are not a lot of Hispanic authors who write in Spanish for children, and that gave an inspiration for after my current work-in-progress is ready.
I chose the Juan Ramon Jimenez's classic "Platero y Yo" because all through my childhood that little book was an inspiration for me, and was responsible for my having fallen in love with lyric prose.
I also chose "La Ciudad de las Bestias," first book of the series for children by the international acclaimed Isabel Allende. Also, very humbly, I included two of my short stories: "The Newborn Fairy," and "Teenage Warrior."
My kids were very proud that their mama was a guest speaker (reader) at a school, and they announced this to every person they talked to today. They're my #1 PR people. When I'm published, I'm going to hire them to be my marketing directors.
After a sickening slow commute (there were two traffic accidents on the way), I arrived at the school, and I was trying not to pass out of nervousness, but I met the reading specialist, who was so very nice, and all the teachers were very kind to me.
I went to the library, and I read my stories and excerpts from the books I had brought to the younger classes. The kindergartens were together, and then I read to first, second and third grade. All the children were so respectful and attentive while I read, that I tried to do my best to provide a good experience for them. The kids had made a welcome poster and flowers, and they sang a welcome song in Spanish while they waved the Argentine flags they had made (*tears*). They asked very intelligent questions, like where I get my ideas from, when my books are being published, if I write everything that goes on in my life, how old I was, etc.
Then it was time for the older classes, and I went to three different classrooms to read my stories. The school is a Spanish immersion academy, so especially with the older kids I spoke Spanish. There were several children, of the younger and older classes, who told me, "I'm from Uruguay!" "I"m from Argentina too!"
In every class, in every group I met, I saw intelligent, kind, beautiful children who have such a bright future ahead of them, and for whom my visit may have been a source of inspiration. I know that if only one of those children was inspired to read and write, and to never give up, then that visit is more than worth the nerves. For me it meant so much! That they would ask me to go and talk to them is a very humbling and touching experience. I know that every time doubts assault me, I will see those children's faces looking at me with admiration (!), and that after today, I'll never be able to give up my dream of becoming a true author, meaning, having my work published.
So my next step is to continue working, finishing my work-in-progress before November because I already have a spectacular idea for NaNoWriMo.
And now, I'll enjoy some of the delicious chocolate that the school presented to me as a gift. They're all mine; I even hid them in my closet!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wisdom from Dragon Tales

Today the babies were watching the PBS show Dragon Tales. I love the part where the children get together and say "I wish, I wish, with all my heart, to fly with dragons, in a land apart." In today's episode the kids were trying to teach one of the dragons to play soccer. The dragon whined and whined that he couldn't do it, so the Puerto Rican kid I had never seen in the show before said, "My grandma used to say 'You try and try until you do it right.'" Or something along those lines. I don't know why that simple phrase struck a chord with me. It may be because Juan Martin del Potro was playing the final of the US Open against Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all times and I had not much faith he could win. Or because I was feeling overwhelmed with all the things I had to do, and I didn't have the energy to start. The thing is that it touched my heart.
I'm convinced that the most uplifting examples usually come from children. They still have the perseverance, the optimism to keep trying until they reach their goal, whether it's sleeping in mammy's bed, getting a new toy, or making it to the Talento Argentino Finals like this little boy:

Yes, I'm homesick for my country. I've been gone far too long, but what I wanted to point out from this video is the emotion, the passion that Nahuel Ruiz puts into his art. I wish I had that talent to put so much emotion in my stories.
Another great example is Hollie Steel, a little girl who auditioned for Britain Got Talent:

No one thought this little girl was out of the ordinary, just like little Nahuel seemed like a normal little boy from northern Argentina. What made them stand out was the strength of their souls, the passion they put into their talent.
I often tell my son, who wants to be a professional soccer player/writer/chef, that some people are born with the gift to perform an art form or a sport. Others are born with the will to develop that talent. I believe that the latter group is the one that truly succeeds. I believe that if you really want something hard enough, it can become true. We, adults, need more reminding than little kids, but we can still do it. I'm just grateful I have four little ones who even though they drain me of my energy, they also give me so much more in return: a desire to learn, to be better, to give them a good example. I hope one day my words may have a fraction of the talent Nahuel or Hollie have. I hope.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

In the errand of the fairies

Swan has a fairy friend who lives in our backyard, in a secret garden that we have. Only it's not secret, but it's a secluded little corner around a beautiful hawthorn tree (sooooo magical!) and several rose bushes. That's the exact place where a patch of poison ivy keeps growing too, but that's another story. Swan leaves presents and letters to her fairy every night. A few times, I've watched the sky darken and I wondered how in the world I was going to be brave enough to go out at night, in the middle of the trees to collect the offerings and leave something. Other times, I just forgot about the whole thing. But one particular night, Swan had prepared a very elaborate gift for the fairy, and I just had to make the effort of going out in the dark. I called Jeff to keep me company and talk to me while I was out in the windy night, and I left a letter and a chocolate for Swan from the fairy. The next day, Swan was so happy that I was worried if what I was doing (pretending the fairy existed) was right.
I figure, we play Santa Claus every Christmas, and just because we don't see them, it doesn't mean fairies aren't real, right? So I play along. One day she will find out, and I hope she realizes how much I love her. Because for me going out by myself in the dark is a sacrifice. I know, crazy, but it's me. Maybe the real fairies see me walk by them with a look of horror on my face and laugh their little heads off. I still want to see one. But in the daylight, OK? Nothing non-human at night. Yes, I read WAY TOO MUCH YA fantasy!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Welllllll... I'm furious at Suzanne Collins for writing such an amazing book, for the wonderful (!) characters, amazing conflict and story. I'm scared for #3 because she didn't give Gregor from "Gregor the Overlander" a good happy ending. I hope she takes pity on Katniss, Gale (Sigh!!!!!!) and Peeta (another Sighhhh!!!) and gives all of them a happy ending. I hate that I have to wait one whole year for the next book! I don't know how I'll be able to wait. Hopefully I'll be able to snatch an ARC from someone next year.
What an incredible writer! The best I've read all year!

View all my reviews >>

Friday, September 04, 2009

My kids rock

My kids love all kinds of music. Recently I was putting away some of my son's books, and The Dairy of a Wimpy Kid (the one kids write in, as a journal) fell open and I read the first line. It said:
What are your favorite songs?
Answers by Gorgeous Boy:
1. Beat it (Michael Jackson)
2. You give love a bad name (I think it's actually "Shot to the Heart" by Bon Jovi)
3. Cemeteries of London (Coldplay)
I had to smile. Being the product of a multi-cultural family, they listen to anything.
Last week Depeche Mode came to town, and since NONE of my friends answered my Facebook request for a companion, I took Gorgeous and Swan.
They had a blast. At times I enjoyed looking at their faces more than at the band. This is also because even though we had amazing floor seats, when you are only 5'1' it's a matter of fate for Gigantor to be in front of you. I had a stiff neck the next day from craning my head to the sides to catch a glimpse of the band, but it was worth it.
Swan laughed and laughed at the crazy "old" people jumping up and down at the sound of the music. And when the band sang "Wrong" she said "ROAR!!!! We had a ton of fun.
I know we pass on to our kids not only our religious beliefs and customs, but everything else, like a love of reading, writing, and of course, musical influences. It was the kids' first time seeing a world renown band. Now I can't wait for Coldplay to come back (Jeff and I just saw them in December) and Keane (whom I missed in June).   

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

River Dance and Flamenco

My great-grandfather was Palestinian. No one in the family knows what his real name was, but my dad called him "Abuelo Emilio." No one ever found his documents stating the real name, or no one was able to read them in Arabic. He learned Spanish, and lived and died like an Argentine. I always felt fascinated about that part of my legacy that not a person in our HUGE family knew anything about (there are 25 original cousins, and several little cousins now).  My grandfather, my dad and his four brothers, myself and just a handful of the great-granchildren inherited the dark olive skin, slanted eyes, dark hair, and the boys (thanks Father, oh thanks it was just the boys) the hooked noses. In Rosario there is a Festival of Nations, and most of the immigrant communities set up pavilions where they showcase the culture, food, dances and art of their motherlands. I wanted to learn Arabic dancing so bad when I was little, but I never did. There still is something in the lament of the guitar, or the particular rhythm of Arabic music that calls to my blood. I mentioned guitar, and I get the same feeling when I listen to Flamenco music. It must be the generations of Gypsies calling me from my Spanish genes.
Yesterday my daughter, Swan, had her first Irish Dance lesson. For about two years she has been begging for Irish Dance classes, and since one of the best studios in the state is like three minutes from home, I signed her up. I love seeing her stretch and prance in her little thin legs. Such determination and concentration in her eyes, such desire to learn and do her best. I wonder where she got the notion of Irish dancing. We love everything Irish in this home, but not a drop of Irish blood runs in my veins. In Jeff's family, I'm sure it does--all mixed up with the Puerto Ricanness of his. His mom said that they have some Irish in her family. After all, she is red-headed and is called Pat. So there you go.
I see my daughter being so drawn to Irish culture, and I wonder what messages we carry in our genes that direct the course of our lives. I've embedded two youtube clips, one from The Lord of the Dance, and then another one from Carmen Amaya, one the greatest Flamenco dancers of all times. They're so different from each other, but at the same time there is so much similarity between them. I think the guitar, and zapateo, and foot work, are all embedded into humankind in one way of another. Call it bulerias, Riverdance, tap dancing... they are all manifestations of men and women's desire to express their feelings through dance. In sadness or happiness, in war or celebrations.
My daughter is not learning Arabic dancing or Flamenco, but she's still following the call in her blood. I just hope that one of my boys will inherit the Argentine futbol playing feet and not the Puerto Rican ones. If they inherit a Puerto Rican trait, I hope it's the baseball arms, or their love of art, of music and good food. Such a mix in my kids' genes. I hope they got the best of all worlds.


Bloody Bookaholic: The Mega Palooza Contest

You just have to check out this awesome contest! Free books!

Bloody Bookaholic: The Mega Palooza Contest

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

 Imagine, if you can, being a teenager, in Argentina during the political turbulence of the eighties and nineties. Those Argentine winters can seep into your soul, and if you love to read, like I did (and still do) it's almost natural that the melancholy words of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer will become the echo of your soul. I don't remember when I read him for the first time, but ever since, and even though I don't especially love poetry, he became my favorite writer of all times. 
When I took a Spanish literature class at BYU, I wrote a report on him, and I said that dying young, and of tuberculosis, made him the epitome of the Romanticism man: desolate by unrequited love, poor, sick, romantic to the last fiber of his soul, and exceptionally talented in the arts.
Poor Gustavo; he had a harsh childhood, and was never happy with the woman he loved. Instead, the woman whom he married cheated on him, his brother and friend Valeriano died too, and it was natural that he would quickly follow. He was only 34 years old when Death took him.
Here are two of his most famous poems:
The dark swallows will return
their nests upon your balcony, to hang.
And again with their wings upon its windows,
Playing, they will call.
But those who used to slow their flight
your beauty and my happiness to watch,
Those, that learned our names,
Those... will never come back!
And then perhaps, his most renown poem:
What is poetry? you say as you fix
on my pupil your pupil in blue.
What is poetry! You're asking me?
Poetry is you.
When I am writing my novel, his words from his Leyendas are always in the back of my mind, especially "Green Eyes." When you read my book, you will know why.
I just barely bought my own copy of his Rimas y Leyendas (Rhymes and Legends), and even though my dear Gustavo was never famous in life, after death he became one of the most celebrated authors of the Spanish language. I hope not to share your fate Gus, but I thank you for the musicality of your words, for the feelings you put into paper, and that almost 200 hundred years later, still have the power to arise the same feelings in others. That is pure genius; that is true immortality.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Sea World Overrated?

When we were in TX, I was delighted to find out that there was a Sea World in San Antonio. At the beginning of the summer we had thought Jeff would stay in Orlando until August, so the kids already had plans of going to Disneyworld and Sea World every day. So, knowing we could still go to Sea World, albeit San Antonio, made the kids, and me, very happy.
San Antonio is about two and a half hours from Corpus Christi, so when it was time to return home, I booked the flight from SA so we could visit Sea World.
It was a 99+ degree day in SA, and it was crowded. Imagine a legion of tortured looking adults following their delighted offspring into Shamu land. An adult ticket was $56.99 plus tax, and a child's ticket $48.99 plus tax. So, do the math. For our family it was $309.94 plus tax, just for admission. Ah! I almost forgot! Parking was $25.00 for VIP, which meant you got to park in the first 5 parking rows. Of course, the only available spot we found was in row 5.
But we were going to have fun! We rented a double stroller for $15.00, and I'm so glad we did because it was so hot, and so crowded, the stroller was a life saver for me and the little ones.
As soon as we went in, there was a show. It was Viva! and it featured an MC clown, who was very funny, and aerialists and synchronized swimmers. It was a Cirque du Soleil kind of show--throw in a couple baby belugas and dolphins. The kids liked it, the venue was very nice (covered, a must in such weather), but VERY short. It was less than half an hour.
Then, we ran to catch the Shamu show. The walk was a torture, and if I was tanned before, by the end of the day I looked copper. We got some lemon sherbet to cool down a little, and it was $4 the pint. Water was $2. The Shamu show was very emotive. Those wonderful animals are majestic, and the kids shrieked with delight every time we got soaked when the whales splashed the audience. It was a cool show. Again, very short, about half an hour.
By the end of the show we were starving, so we went to a barbecue place inside the park, and when Jeff and the boys came back with the food, Swan and I looked at each other and rolled out eyes. That's what you get when you are a picky eater. And I had thought you couldn't go wrong with barbecue ... but the chicken was rawish, and I could not force myself to eat it. So I bought chocolate popsicles, at $4 each. That's $24 for our family.
After lunch the older kids wanted to go on a ride, so Jeff took them to Rio Loco. The little ones and I walked to the kiddy pool in the Lost Lagoon section. The babies loved playing in the water, and I tried not to think of the many un-diapered bottoms soaking in the innocent looking water. I walked over to the waves pool, but it was crowded like a can of sardines, and I was not looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with a million other people.

Two hours went by, and when I started worrying about Jeff and the kids, I saw them coming and we miraculously met. Jeff didn't have his cell phone. Divine providence led us to each other. They waited in line for two hours for a seven minute ride.We could have bought the Quick Queue pass which costs $19.99 per person. We chose waiting.
We walked around the park, stopping by the dolphin pool and the Clysdale Hamlet. We terrorized Chubbers at the Sharks/Coral Reef, and by six o'clock we called it a day.
So we spent about $400.00 for a day at Sea World. I know in my kids' mind the day will become more and more magical as time goes by, but Jeff and I look at each other and wonder, "Was that it?" Total disappointment. Have you ever been to a major attraction like Sea World? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Read Bree

Read Bree

I just came across this blog, and I think this book will be amazing. Oh! She has a great contest going on, so go ahead and check it out!

Like a dream

This last week the kids went back to school. They were so excited they kept waking up all night to check I hadn't slept in. I also doubted myself, and I set up about three different alarm clocks in case one or two didn't work.
I got up on time to make a good warm breakfast, and the kids dressed in their uniforms. Smiles reaching from ear to ear.
I missed them a lot during the day, especially because the little ones were so utterly bored without the older siblings that they drove me crazy all week. The only good part is that I get to take a nap again because since we get up so early, after lunch the babies are exhausted (my babies who are almost 3 and 5. Pathetic!). By now, we have our little routine again. School, lunch, nap, futbol, or ballet (which starts next Tuesday), Irish dancing (starts tomorrow) and piano. There are also church related activities, like Scouts, and all of a sudden my calendar is full of colored little blocks. My main activity is driving, but things should get better once my assistant arrives next weekend (Jeff, that's you in case you didn't notice).
Swan also had a birthday this week, and she looks and acts so grownup my eyes tear up over anything (and that's apart from the allergies which are killing me this year). I found her listening to Keane on an ipod (it's a family one that she appropriated) and singing the melancholy "Atlantic" with a thread of voice (" ♪♬♫I Don't wanna be old!!!! ♪♬♫).
She told me, "I have this feeling inside me, and then I thought, and yeah! It's happiness!" My pint-sized teenage daughter!
We celebrated at my parents, and she had a blast. Her party won't be for a couple of weeks (she wanted Jeff to be here) and I'm dreading making a cake. She wants a mermaid, and after last year's dragon's success, I don't think I'll be able to top that.
Friday was the first futbol practice of the season, and with my BBF G. we have an unspoken understanding: she brings the mate, I bring the treats. She brings treats as well, but mainly she brings the mate because I drink it sweet. You are converting me though G. I've only been putting sugar to the first one and then to every other. That's better, huh?
Well, Friday we were running late, like always, and I debated between taking everybody along into the supermarket for a package of cookies or ... and then an idea came to mind. Gorgeous and Swan could go! So I parked by the store entrance, and gave them a $10 bill. You should've seen them, walking so proudly into the store, hand in hand. They came back running, with two packages of Keebler's chocolate chip and fudge sandwich, and a box of ice-cubes gum for me. Gorgeous was ready to pocket the change, but he gave it back promptly when I asked for it.
I remember going to don Luis' store when I was five (it wasn't a supermarket. Just the front room in some one's house), and I could read, but not my mom's handwriting. So I asked her to read it to me, and I memorized it, and then at the store I pretended I was reading, and the old man and his wife were so amazed it scared me for a minute.
How bittersweet that even though my kids have a much better childhood than I did, they won't have the memories of going to the kiosco for candy behind my back, or to the store for bread and "facturas" in the morning.
The kids are growing, and I feel like Enos in the Book of Mormon when he says, "life has passed us like a dream." The days are so short and packed with activities, and at night, when there's only silence interrupted by sleepy sighs, I wonder where my babies are, and who those big kids who look so much like Jeff and me when we were little are.

Here's a video of Swan's birthday party (the unofficial one). I couldn't resist!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Perseid Meteor Shower

Night before last I stayed up until after 1 o'clock writing. I had a sudden rush of inspiration because I had been reading "How Green Was My Valley" from the uber-amazing Richard Llewellyn, and how can you not be inspired after reading such words? Well, the thing is that the night before, and all that night, every time I opened my Google page, I saw the Google "doodle" of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Every time I see something like that I think, "How cool it would be to go out and see this and that." But I NEVER do it. Wednesday night though, I went to wake Gorgeous Boy, who had fallen asleep reading the third Percy Jackson book. The book had landed open on his face. I thought, "How fitting!" because the Perseids are named after the Perseus constellation. Percy--Perseus, get it? Perseus is actually Percy's real name. OK, enough ranting. The thing is that my boy would not wake up, and instead Swan Princess opened her sleepy eyes, and looked at me hard, trying to make out if I was a dream (I hope not a nightmare) or if it was my real me. So I invited her to come along (you could not pay me enough to go out at night by myself!). She jumped from her bed, and grabbed the first stuffed animal she could, and followed me along the dark house.
We opened the door, and the world looked so different by the light of the silver moon shining from behind the house. I had brought along an over sized pillow ( a flat round cushion), and we lay waiting for the shooting stars a coupple of steps from the front porch. Our blankets kept us warm in spite of the wind that blew hard and chilly. Then, I heard her intake of breath, and we both said at the same time, "Look at that!" as the golden streak of light vanished into the darkness. Soon, there were too many shootings stars to count. And as it always is when you are watching the sky, out into infinity, she asked me that if God had made the stars and the worlds, then who made Him, and that Maker, and the next, forever and ever. I answered that I still get a headache when I think about that.
We saw several yellow shooting stars, and then with a "Whoosh!" a radiant blue that seemed burnt into my retina because when I close my eyes, I can still see it.
Sometimes the wind blew a certain way and moved the tree branches and the bushes, and I thought I saw things that weren't there at all, and my heart would jump without notice, and I would feel my cheeks burn by the adrenaline rush. But then, feeling her tiny, fragile hand in mine, I felt peace again, looking into the sky, and seeing the bits of light crossing above us.
"Mami, I love you." She said, and hugged me. That was the most miraculous thing all night. That united under the expanse, feeling our smallness, we could also feel so important in another's eyes. My daughter. My shining star. I hope her light never vanishes like the Perseids. I know she brightens my days with her ideas and the things she says, her knowing eyes, her simple smiles. That small little girl, with such a sensitive, perceptive soul.
It was but an hour in our lives, but it will remain in my heart forever.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The curse of the wasp

This picture was taken last night, after his visit to the ER. He's trying to smile ...

I had never been stung by a bee until about 5 years ago. I was at the park with Gorgeous and Swan; it was just the two of them back then, and they were having a blast in the playground. I was reading (what else?), and I felt something on my leg, inside my jeans. This was September, and the weather had already turned cooler. It was a wonderful early Autumn afternoon, and all of a sudden, I felt fire burning my knee. I knew, I don't know how, that a bee had gotten inside my jeans and had stung me. I bunched up my jeans to crush the bee, and then I rolled my pants. There it was, the black and yellow culprit all smashed up. I wasn't allergic to the bite, and ever since that time, every Summer I have an incident with either wasps or bees.

There was the one time the kids were playing in the backyard and Swan was viciously stung in her armpit (!) three times. That same week J., G's son, was playing at home and was stung by a wasp too. The only time in his life he's ever been stung.

Last Summer Chubbers was playing barefooted, and she stepped on a bee, which of course, stung her too.

Ah! But the best (or worst depending how you see it) was when the guy who does our yard was pruning the bushes which had grown "preternaturally" (like Anne Rice likes to say) and was stung by wasps all over his arm and ... I can't say it! INSIDE HIS NOSE. Ouch!

So, I'm a little paranoid about bees and wasps, but when El Cangri told me yesterday that a bee had stung him on his finger, I went to the medicine cabinet to get the homeopathic remedy for "bee stings" (Apis M.), and washed his hands. His little right pointer finger was stiff and swollen and red. A red hole was the evidence of the sting. I put some anti-inflammatory oil and went back to planting flowers. Yes, on a Sunday, but they were going to die if I waited one more day.

El Cangri started complaining that his face hurt, and when I turned around to look at him, I saw him riding his trike, his eyes a mere slit. He kept saying, "I want to go take a bath!" I took him inside to wash his face, and that's when I noticed the hives. It was like his skin was bubbling as it became covered by bright red welts. He even had hives on his scalp. I felt a distinct voice on my mind say, "Go to the hospital. NOW!!!!" I immediately called my awesome neighbors to see if the other kids could stay with them.

The neighbors came running to help, and I. took the kids home so B. could come to the hospital with me. By then El Cangri was wheezing, and he couldn't see at all. I had given him one teaspoon of Claritin before we left, and I'm convinced he made it to the hospital because of the Claritin.

The ER was packed, of course! But they took him in right away. The doctor took a look at him, and he ordered an IV to be placed and a cocktail of medicine to go in it. My poor baby looked so small in his superman cape on that hospital bed! But, he's such a brave boy, he didn't even flinch when he felt the IV needle on his arm.

I'm so grateful B. was there with me. I felt I was having an out-of-body experience, and today I have been very weak. My body and mind respond to emergencies by blocking out things. I could hardly speak, in either English or Spanish. B. was there though, making sure everything was OK.

A while later, the swelling went down, and he was breathing well. His heart rate was stable, and they sent him home. We carry those miraculous epi-pens now, just in case. If this is how he reacted to a very first sting, I shudder to think of a future sting.

I took him to our doctor today, to discuss plans for the future, what treatments are available, what to do if there is a next time. When we went to the pharmacy for his medicine, he saw a little "kolala" (how he called it) bear, and it was love at first sight. He named him "Sting." I wonder what goes through his mind. What he thinks.

His face was still VERY swollen this morning, and I overheard him telling his older siblings, "Yes, I look different now, but everyone is different, right?" All day I caught him looking at himself on the mirror. My child; he's so vain. He loves his face. Today I saw his worried expression, and he asked me if he was ever going to be pretty again. Lump ... He's so tenderhearted and beautiful. I love him so much! Of course, my kid who LOVES bread is the one with the wheat allergies, and the one who loves to play outdoors is the one with wasp allergies. My sensitive little guy. What am I going to do with him?

What good will come out of this? For now, my appreciation for my rowdy four year old. For happy laughter coming from the trampoline and the swing set. The gift it is to be oblivious of insects when you are out in the yard, or taking a walk around the neighborhood. The blessing it is to have older siblings who love their little brother and cry, "The vaccine, the vaccine!" meaning the epi-pen because we were out having a tea-party and there were little bees outside.

I try not to think of El Cangri's starting kindergarten next year, or of scouts camps, or the mission. I know, there's still time! But it goes by so fast! I can't have him under my skirts (like they say in Argentina) 24/7; I have to educate him and then trust. Trust in him that he'll protect himself, in others that will remember his allergies, and in Heavenly Father, that He'll protect this boy who is the light of my life.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Monday, August 03, 2009

Not what she was expecting

Summertime is parade time here in Utah. We were lucky enough to return home in time for our city's festival which is called "Highland Fling." For the last 4 years I have had a kid in the baby contest, and this time was the first time that I didn't have a baby participating. Later I found out there was no baby contest this year after all, but oh well! I was still sad my baby-contest days are gone. Sniff, sniff.

Well, Last Saturday we were up early for the parade, and like every year we have a blast. The kids love eating cotton candy (the ONE time in the year they do),

Seeing the police officers with their motorcycles and standing by the curb for high-fives

And Cosmo!

BYU's mascot was there at the parade. My little Chubbers saw the kids go crazy with excitement (we are a truly blue city. We have the random Ute, but here we're mainly Cougars!) and she ran because she thought the truck must be throwing a TON of candy. I saw her running happily, ad then stop in her tracks to turn back frantically and ran back to me because she was terrified of Cosmo! My Gorgeous Boy and I couldn't stop laughing. We laughed so hard we were crying, and then maybe a few of those tears of mine were due to the fact that my boy is old enough to feel sympathy and look condescendingly on his siblings. He's my little friend. He tells me jokes, and we look at each other rolling our eyes when Swan says a random thing. When did he grow so fast? He's only 8, but since he's my oldest, he acts like he's much older. And then at Costco I have to take away a penny he was using to torment his sister, and I have to tell him off for speaking like Stitch, from Lilo and Stitch, because oh boy! How annoying!
Our Highland Fling. A day of summer that's become a marker in our lives. How long until Jeff can celebrate it with us again?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brain Freeze

Every day, when I'm the busiest, making breakfast, cleaning, chasing the dogs, chasing the kids, etc. I think about different things to blog about.
Some examples are:
  • The black widow spider I saw on the kitchen door yesterday morning.
  • How happy I am to have had my hair done by the awesome C.
  • How grateful I am for wonderful neighbors/friends who babysit so I can get my hair done. I love you A!
  • How I am stuck at 48,000 words in my manuscript, and even though I can SEE the next several chapters and the end, this part I'm stuck in feels like a giant, suffocating spider web that I can't get through.
  • Swan Princess makes the funniest comments, but when I'm going to write them down I don't remember what she said anymore.
  • How happy I feel when I clean my house (yes, I have an obsession with a clean house, and I love doing the work myself).
  • Why do I feel like school just finished when it's actually time to go back in two weeks!
  • I don't understand twitter.
  • Argentina-Brazil will be played at El Gigante de Arroyito, Central's stadium, and I soooooo wish I could go back to Argentina just to watch the game in September, even if I go for just one day.
  • My dad's canary, Pichuco, died today of natural causes.
  • My fear of driving through American Fork Canyon, which means that in order to visit my best friend I have to drive down to Orem and then through Provo Canyon for one hour, when it could take me twenty minutes through AF.
  • I can read a very scary book (actually two of the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice) and not be scared (because Jeff was home at night, and I usually read them at the beach, under the blinding Texas sun and a vampire could not have gone there), but when I return home, my mind recalls each and every one of the scariest sentences (like: "I can go through any door and locks," "They didn't hear me coming," "Claudia likes families, and takes them one by one") and I can't sleep until it's past two in the morning, at least.
I think about all these subjects, but when I sit down to write a post, I'm so worn out, I stare at the screen and not a single word comes out of my fingers. So I'll leave it at the list.
Maybe August will bring some inspiration and eloquence so that I can make more sense and write a better post.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Toys Away From Home

When we travel to our summer destination, I have to pack very carefully. No matter what I tell myself, what incentives not to buy a thing Jeff gives me, every year I go back home with a lot more things than I left. We always return with new clothes, a few toys, and yes, you guessed right, books. Tons and tons of books. Before I came to Corpus Christi, I had prepared my pile of books to read, thinking that I could read things online (there's always Wikipedia, and ebooks). The thing is, I didn't have Internet for the first three weeks. So I read, and I read. Before I knew it, my pile had dwindled to one book. I decided to re-read Harry Potter (see? I can't post a thing without naming him!), but after one (or two) trips to Barnes and Noble, now I have a nice new pile to work on.

I usually bring just enough outfits to last all summer, and the kids bring their Nintendo and Littlest Pets, but there are many times we are bored out of our minds. The first few days in a new town (if we have a car) we go exploring. We've been to the museum, aquarium, USS Lex, etc. But, everywhere we went we had to pay an entrance fee, and there are five of us. Lucky for us, this year we live close to the beach. We go to the beach a couple of times a week. We'd go everyday, but I'm already so dark that if I don't open my eyes and I don't talk, Jeff can't see me at night. So, we tried going after 5. Well, Gorgeous Boy got stung by a jellyfish, and he is scared out of his wits because he realized that indeed, living tings inhabit the waters.
When we don't g to the beach, there is always the pool. We've been going to the pool pretty much every day except Sunday because my friends A. and P. don't have a car in the afternoons. Their husbands need it to work.
We have fun at the pool, at least our afternoons pass quickly when we are in the water. On our first day here I bought the kids life jackets and foam noodles. They have foam balls and their imaginations. They swim like fish by now.
But at the pool I get still darker, if that's possible, and sometimes I just don't feel like seating there for hours watching the kids.

It's time for old-fashioned toys then. Among the few things I buy is a jump rope and chalk. The kids and I jump rope and play hopscotch. Sometimes they draw on the tennis courts. With a ball the kids play futbol, of course, and one-square two-square. They play all kids of things, with a $5 princess ball we got at the store.
Another favorite inexpensive game is "elastic." I got a little package of elastic (about 4 yards) and I tie the ends. Then we play jumping games that I've taught the children. Talking with my Latina friends, I found out that each country has its own little songs and steps for elastic. No wonder we were all so athletic when we were little. We jumped all day. It's amazing to see how high the kids jump, and how much time they spend making up steps and songs for the game.
Luckily the kids will go back to school and teach their friends.

When the jump rope, elastic, hopscotch and ball become boring, there are always trees to climb. There is a park that has a pond with turtles and the craziest geese and seagulls I've ever seen. They're used to people feeding them, so once they smell stale bread, they swarm around you until not even the crumbs are left. We've been to the park several times, and the kids love to play in the merry-go-round and slide down the hot plastic slide when we run out of bread for the birds. Sometimes, no matter where you are, how many toys we have, the most fun things to play with are regular every day things, like plastic laundry hampers, shoe boxes and blankets.

This is a picture of a ship Swan created. She and the little ones played there for days
(Gorgeous was completely immersed into HP, trying to finish the book before we watched the movie), doing acrobatics not to fall into the water (which was the carpet). They had so much fun playing ship wreck that they've already ask permission to recreate the game back home.

The rest of the time, there are books and movies (we found a wonderful dollar theater. Wonderful not because it's really nice, but because it's only $1). The kids also collect treasures, like broken shells and sand dollars, feathers, even the shell of a tiny egg. They play the most amazing things. Nonstop. Because when all is said and done, the thing they need the most, they always carry around with them. In them. Their imaginations. Imagination and time is all a child needs to be happy. Yes, good food is important, and love. As long as they have an imagination children will be entertained.

Still, when we go finally go home, I feel like it's Christmas morning in July. The children run around the house, followed by the little feet of two happy dogs. They squeal in delight to be able to jump in the trampoline, and play with their dolls, ride their bikes and scooters. When we go home, we realize how blessed we are, how much the Lord has given us, and we appreciate things better. And we enjoy them.
What do you do in the summers to keep kids, and yourself, entertained?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Waiting, waiting

My Harry Potter ticker on the left column of the blog is not working properly. Remember the movie release day was changed several months ago? Well, the ticker is still showing 2 days left for the movie to come out, but it's actually just 13 hours. Who said I'm counting? And yes, I have tickets for the midnight show!
I have to report that my awesome Gorgeous Boy achieved his goal of reading Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince before watching the movie. In fact, he is half way through the last installment. Jeff goes to check on the kids and comes back to the kitchen shaking his head in unbelief. Gorgeous sits in the closet for hours, making faces, exclaiming in surprise or outrage, laughing, crying... So many emotions.
I know, I've said this ad nauseum, but I'm reading the book for the first time vicariously through my son. I'm so happy he loves reading, whatever it is! Swan Princess is reading "The Little House on the Prairie" series. And nothing gives me more pleasure than finding the littlest ones in their closet, reading Where the Wild Things Are for the gazillionth time. They know all the words, and they mix the English and Spanish versions.
Being here, in the sweltering Texas heat we have time to read, watch TV and rest. We usually wait until the sun goes down to go out and play, and we have a nice routine by now.
I'll post about the games and toys my children play and use during the summer. But for now, I'll sign off and do some writing.
I'm at 42,000 words with my book, and I think about it constantly. By the way, I just read the most amazing book, "The Forest of Hands and Teeth", and when I went to the author's website and I read that she started it during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I got a boost of energy. I know the more you write, the better you become. I'm happy the stories are coming to me. For the longest time I wanted to write but didn't know what to write about. Now, when I'm trying to figure out a character, a new idea for another book will show up, and I quickly pen down the phrases or snatches I see in my mind, and continue with my work. Yes, it's a lot of work putting into words what I see, hear, and dream. But it's happy work; energizing work. I love it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pioneers and Sailors

I know I wasn’t made to be a pioneer or a sailor or even a marine. When we go somewhere and someone needs to use the restroom, it has to be a life or death situation for any of us, me or the kids, to use a public restroom. I don’t know how people could walk thousands of miles to reach a destination where there weren’t hotels or even modest homes to give them some hospitality while they got settled. No, those pioneers still had to work and suffer even after they reached their destinations. In the worst cases, after building their homes and planting their crops, they were sometimes called to go settle another area (the Mormon Pioneers at least). I admire that kind of strength, of faith.
I know sailors in the “olden times,” like Swan Princess says, had to have an incredible amount of faith to venture out into the unknown and cross the oceans. Take Christopher for example; he based his route to the Indies on wrong calculations that were held true in his times. He didn’t have a GPS system. His were a compass, a sextant, charts, and a whole lot of faith. If Christopher wasn’t led by the hand of the Lord, then I don’t know how he ever made it to America (the continent!) not once, but three times. And the miracle wasn’t arriving to America the first time, but going back to Spain, and then returning to the exact spot he had left from in America.
Not only that, but the living conditions. Oh my gosh! Those
“caravelas” were tiny! The kids and I visited the Museum of Science and Natural History here in Corpus Christi, and they had exact replicas of La Santa María, La Niña, and La Pinta (I remember the names since kindergarten). What a man that Chris. All controversies set aside.
We also visited the Museum on the Bay, the USS Lexington. What an amazing construction! Even though I have been on several cruises, I still can’t wrap my mind about how a thing of that colossal size doesn’t sink. How can an airplane fly, for that matter. I know the physics behind it, but it just blows my mind what humankind has been able to achieve in a few hundred years. From La Pinta to the USS Lex. What a quantum leap! But still, with all the advances, I wouldn’t be a marine. Their bunk beds were called
coffin lockers. No, I definitely wouldn’t be a marine. That’s why my gratitude is infinite towards the men and women who choose that as a profession and do it bravely and happily.
I love being able to discover this city with my kids. The United States is such a vast country. So many different subcultures, landscapes, people, foods.
On the 4th of July, to celebrate our country’s birthday, we went (including Jeff, yeah!) to Corpus Christi beach to watch the fireworks from the USS Lex. That magnificent vessel has been the witness to so many wars and conflicts, I’m happy it got to celebrate with happy cannons sounds and fireworks.