"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

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.