"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

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Last Flower

My husband brings me flowers every week. We have been married for more than ten years, even though we've just stepped over the thirty year mark, and our relationship has been getting better and better with the years. If you know me, you know that I am emotional and love love stories, happy endings, and cheesy movies. I'm a fanatic of the Twilight series and I have seen Pride and Prejudice twice in three days just this last weekend; I guess that's explanation enough. Jeff's personality complements mine perfectly; he's pragmatic and realistic, no nonsensical, and terribly honest. If he compliments you, you better believe it because he means what he says.
I am a Sagittarius and he's a Capricorn. My centaur inner self has learned to live a little more with her feet on the ground, and his inner Faun has learned to deal with my endless questioning and my daydreaming. So he brings me flowers every week. In the early months of our marriage, when we were broke college students, he used to buy the cheapest flowers he could afford: carnations. I hate those poor carnations, but I have a very good reason--they remind me of the cemetery. Their perfume can take me back twenty-six years to my grandfather's funeral, so I deeply dislike them. I guess I might have hurt Jeff's feelings when I told him not to bring me those flowers anymore. But he didn't give up.
He sometimes sends me flowers when it's not my birthday or anniversary, just because. Once an acquaintance was visiting and asking me how I could possible deal with his being gone for six months of the year, when the doorbell rang and a delivery man handed me the most gorgeous arrangement in the world. The lady changed the subject and has never ever criticised my husband's job-at least not to my face.
A few months ago Jeff started bringing five or six bundles of flowers at once. I mean, not prepared or anything, just the flowers you get at the grocery store. I thought he only brought them home so the house would look nice (he LOVES decorating our house), and I hurt his feelings again. He brought them for me, not the house. I then asked him not to bring too many bundles at once, or not at all because it took me forever to cut the stems and take out the dead leaves. I saw it as more work for me, and not as a gift.
Yes, I can find the tiniest little thing to complain about and I do it tirelessly. But here you go Jeff, I'm sorry, and thanks for not giving up and bringing flowers even when I was so rude to you. I loved seeing you come home with arms full of flowers, especially the pink stargazer lilies. They're so hard to find, and you would search everywhere for them to bring me some every week.
The flowers you bought before leaving have all withered away; there only remains one single lilly, faded pink but still gorgeous. I feel like the Beast on "Beauty and the Beast" because I've been sadly watching the petals drop from the flowers day by day until only the one flower remains steadfast and fragrant.
There's only one left, and I wish it could stay alive for these weeks we'll be apart. When you bring me flowers again, I promise I won't complain because you bring me too many. You could even bring me carnations; I will just hold my breath when I walk by them.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My terrible twos

I realize I am extremely lucky; I have two sets of kids, 2 boys, 2 girls. I even have a set of dogs. My first pair of kids was extremely easy, even though looking back the memories seem a little hazy. I know there were moments of frustration, and yes, the utter, complete, insane exhaustion. When my Swan Princess was two and a half she had been potty trained for more than a year; she could speak complete sentences, and she thought she was a diva. Her older brother, my Gorgeous Boy, was a little gentleman. So for me, it was a tough decision whether or not to expand our family. But I (and my husband too, of course) decided to go for it, not only once, but twice. That's how I got my Cangri and my Chubbers. 
I honestly think that when children grow up, we only remember the best of their baby or toddler years. Did my first set keep me running all day nonstop, destroying a section of the house per second? Did I feel like a hamster running in a wheel all day, doing things but not accomplishing anything at all? I'm sure they did and that I did, but I've forgotten all about it. 
My younger set of kids has a lot of similarities with my first, but also a lot of differences. For example, both of my boys have played stylist and chopped their sisters hair, to the complete delight of the girls and to my horror. Both sets have played Jeff and Yamile so scarily accurately that it's not even funny; the boys pacing the house with a cell phone glued to their ear and the girls cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and lugging a baby to boot, all while reading a book. My oldest and my youngest have decorated the hardwood floors with permanent marker, and then proudly showed me their artistic creations, with so much satisfaction that I couldn't bring myself to get mad at them. Both times I cried, but with my oldest I had learned permanent marker does come out of hardwood floors with alcohol, so this time I was prepared; and alcohol worked again, not only on hardwood but also on Jeff's collection of Venezuelan clay dolls (clay as in porous, marker absorbing material, yeah). 
My older set did not play swords with kitchen knives, and they didn't flood the bathroom. They didn't pour diffuser oil on my laptop, nor played tea party with my fairy tea set (the largest piece is about 2 inches) with the same oil. My older set was more obedient; the younger kids look at each other when I get mad, and they roar in laughter while their older siblings look in a mixture of horror and admiration and wait for my reaction. The little ones are only 2 and 4 years old. I don't know what's so funny about me, but they think I'm a hoot. 
My older daughter is very proper and modest; my younger daughter waters the outside plants wearing only her T-shirt. "I had to go to the tree," was her only explanation when she saw my expression, and she pointed at her brother who at that moment was going on the tree, if you know what I mean.
I could go on and on, relating at least twenty things they do each day to drive me crazy. I seriously think they plan their adventures at night, during the twenty minutes I'm asleep. 
Usually by the time they FINALLY go to bed, I'm totally drained out of energy and purpose, and I treat myself to chocolate covered pretzels and a book to escape to my own adventures instead of working on my novel or updating my blog.
And then I look at their angelic faces, so peaceful and tender while they sleep, and I forget they drive me crazy. I hear them breathe, and I can't help smiling, thanking Heaven for having sent them to me. When I'm finally reading a great story, and I'm inspired with the most amazing idea, I hear the patter of tiny, sleepy feet by my door. It's usually them, together, my two terrible kids. They get in my bed and say, "I love you," and in spite of the tiredness and desire to be alone, I just smile and hug them to sleep.   

Friday, April 17, 2009

Teenage Warrior

My story "Teenage Warrior" will be posted on the Utah Children's Writers Association blog. 
Please, go visit the blog, and PLEASE leave a comment and let me know what you thought about it. It means a lot to me.

Teenage Warriors
By Yamile Saied Mendez

I wake up and the first thing I remember is the encounter planned for this afternoon. The morning sunshine woke me, and through my lids, I can see the red fire that will bake the city with its all reaching arms. The morning meal must be over by now, but I’m not hungry. The adrenaline coursing through my veins will keep me going. I need a lucid mind, to be alert, to guess the enemy’s next move, to see my adversary defeated.
I raise myself from my damp, narrow bed, taking notice of each muscle, of each limb, of how strong I am, how young, how full of life. I am invincible, immortal.
My brothers-in-arms are waiting for me downstairs. I see them from my window, all young warriors like myself. I join them without hesitation. We have our banners, depicting our colors, blue and gold. Our mothers watch us go, with worry and sorrow etched on their faces. My mother bids me farewell and kisses my cheek. My baby brother tries to convince her one more time to let him come with me, but she won’t budge.
Some girls and women come with us, their faces lit up with anticipation. The tension in the air is an electrical current, pulsing from our hearts, uniting us all in this moment. I paint my face with the sacred colors, mumbling a prayer as my fingers trace the patterns that identify me from the rest of the world. My voice joins that of my brothers in our anthem and battle songs. Even the old men still have the burning fire in their eyes, telling us they’re confident; today we’ll be victorious. A few of my brothers resort to drugs and alcohol to obtain courage and hope. All I need to hear my blood singing in my ears is to see the giant flag dancing in the air, blue and gold, standing out against the background of the brown, living, swelling river that snakes its way behind the field.
The two armies take their places; even the building is chanting with us. Our heroes fight, running, jumping, kicking, flying through the air. Time stands still and rushes forward in a single second. Finally, from my throat a cry joins thousands of others in the primal act of celebration. The giant flag slides down the stadium, and the cry of “GOAL,” of victory, resonates across the universe.
I feel the tears streaming down my face; I wipe them and my hand smudges my battle paint. I look around me, and the sea of people glitters like candle light and sky in the afternoon light.
Our team has won the national cup. For tonight, we are the masters of the world. The city celebrates, and I go home. I promise my brother I will take him to the next game, as once my father took me when I was his age. My team has won; Rosario Central is indeed the center of the universe.

Copyrighted 2009 by Yamile Saied Mendez ; author retains all rights to the story.

PS: Here’s a link to the biggest, greatest, futbol flag of the world. It’s from my home town, Rosario, in Argentina. The city has two Major Futbol League teams, and when they play against each other, the city becomes a battle field. The Rosario Central fans are known as Los Guerreros, The Warriors, hence the name of the story.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Scary Neighbor

Two summers ago, Jeff and I were getting the kids ready to go to Seven Peaks (a water amusement park in Provo) when we both heard the screeching tires of a car against the pavement. I looked up and I saw two cars racing each other in our circle. Then, unbelievably, one of the cars crashed into the house two houses down from ours. And then, to my horror, the car that had crashed backed up of the wreck, and came in our direction. We were standing in our driveway, loading things in the car. Jeff and I looked at each other; we had no idea what was going on. My body went completely cold; I was frozen. And then, as if from a dream, I heard Jeff's voice frantically yelling, "Take the kids inside!!!!!! Get down!!!" 
Pause for a second: Jeff and I are from Latin America, and all the survival instincts came rushing to us. I thought the guy was going to shoot us for witnessing the wreck or something like that. 
OK, going back to the event
I scanned the driveway quickly, and I noticed the children were not there. Good thing because as I said the car was coming in our direction at top speed, zigzagging. Jeff thought the guy had lost control of the car. We saw it disappear in the curve, and we both expected to hear another crash. Behind the car, a sobbing boy of about 14 or 15 came running, covered in blood.
Jeff ran to the house where the car had crashed, and he later told me he was terrified someone had been killed. The front of the house was completely destroyed, and fortunately, the lady who had been there was shaken, in shock of course, but unscathed. 
Our poor lady kept saying, "The children were playing in the sidewalk just a minute ago..." and it was true; El Cangri had been riding his red Little Tykes car to that same house and then back to our house, just minutes before the crash.
And then, we saw him. The haughty 16 year-old coming with his father saying, "It was me. Yes, I'm stupid." But he showed no remorse; to him it was like he had been playing a video game.
Ever since that day, we DO NOT like those neighbors. Even less since the father took the boy to get his driver's license the day after the accident, before the "other neighbors" could press charges. Thank you very much dad, great job.
I see him driving four wheelers, super fast, in our street. I call the cops every time. When the kids take our dogs for a walk, they cross the street instead of walking by their house. We don't even know them, but we don't like them for what could have happened that day.
And then last Sunday, our whole family went for a walk. Jeff doesn't like the kids to walk ahead of us in case someone is backing up from their driveway and doesn't see them, but El Cangri had ran ahead of us. 
Before we reached the house, I saw the boy. He has a new look these days: dark hair all sticking up in an enormous afro, black leather clothes, made up face. All of a sudden, I heard my younger son cry in fright. He couldn't run fast enough! He came to me, mouth wide open in terror, and pointing wordlessly at the boy. The neighbor was getting into his father's truck, and El Cangri followed him with his index finger, crying in terror.
Jeff and I exploded in laughter. I wonder what the poor kid thought of a little boy pointing at him and crying. I wonder what the father thinks. Our whole family laughs every time we remember El Cangri's horror. I REALLY do hope fate doesn't laugh at us if one day our kids decide to wear extreme fashion.  I hope we never have a Scary Neighbor in our midst.  

Friday, April 03, 2009

Perfect Health for Kids

The owner's manual of our bodies! What a book! Here's my goodreads review. If you only read one health book in your life, let this be it!

Perfect Health for Kids: Ten Ayurvedic Health Secrets Every Parent Must Know Perfect Health for Kids: Ten Ayurvedic Health Secrets Every Parent Must Know by John Douillard

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I so wish I had found this book when my first child was a baby, or even before then! I would have saved myself lot of worry, and I would have been able to build up his (and his siblings') immunity system since infancy.

The idea is to treat illness before it starts. John Douillard says that you can avoid Spring allergies by taking certain precautions in the fall. And like this, he offers several other examples. Ayurvedic medicine is mainly preventative, and is aimed at maintaining the body in a state of health. The author says that Ayurvedic practitioners are paid when the patient is healthy; therefore, they have an incentive to find what things will help the patient be healthy, even after symptoms disappear.

The author explains about different body types. I did the questionaire for each of my children, and I was surprised at how accurate the descriptions of the three body types are.

He offers real life measures we can take to avoid getting sick, from using spices to better digest our food, to what foods to avoid certain types of the day and year.

I loved this book, and I'll be reviewing it often. The things I started to implement in our lives are working already, not only for the children, but also for me and my husband.

I gave it four stars because of several typos and grammatical errors. If you're going to write a book, have several people proofread it!

I recommend it to all who want to take an active part in taking care of their body and their health. A healthy immune system, and good eating/sleeping/exercising habits are one of the best gifts we can offer our children.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Beautiful Game

Today is a black, black day for Argentine soccer. We just lost 6 to 1 against Bolivia! And if you're wondering if this is an April's Fools joke, I wish with all my heart that it were so. Today I woke up to a raging snowstorm, when you know, it's supposed to be Spring; a few hours later I saw my boys being defeated in the worst game of Argentine history. I don't know what to make for dinner, and the kids are hungry. All I want to do is be in a warm place, and have some very good warm food.
Yes, what a depressing day... and then I found this link in Kady's blog, that her husband posted, and it totally brightened my day. Well, not totally, but enough to help me function.
Besides the glamour of soccer, and the World Cup, and the fancy stadiums, there's this side of it. It's beautiful. Please, click on the link. You won't be sorry.

The Soccer Project from Rebekah Fergusson on Vimeo.