"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

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Is it really the end of the year?

I can't believe it's already December. Being immersed in NaNoWriMo makes me forget all about getting ready for Christmas, our family trip in less than two weeks, Nutcracker, and a million end of the year parties. Every year, on December 1st, I feel like I'm waking up from a dream (or a nightmare) and realize I have to do a million things when all I want to do is sleep. Who can really function with this cold? It was only 14 degrees this morning (-10 in Celsius!).

Come December, I always feel like the year has blown by. The years seem to go faster as I get older too. So, I decided to make a list of 2011 favorite things.

Music has the number one spot.  My favorite song, by far, is Latinoamerica, by Calle 13.

Even if you don't understand the lyrics in Spanish, I think the spirit of the song and the beautiful images of the video don't need any translation. It's an Anthem for America, from the North Pole to Antarctica.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

My kids' heroes

 Lately my girls have been--how to say this?--obsessed (!) with the movie SOUL SURFER, which tells the real story of professional surfer Bethany Hamilton. I won't spoil the movie if I say it's about her recovering after a shark attack; it's common knowledge (unless you were like me and just found out when the movie came out). But to say it's only about her being attacked would ignore the most important point of the movie: how to go on with life and still fight for our dreams even when it seems impossible. Bethany transcended tragedy and the odds stacked against her, and became a real life heroine through her will to live and overcome, her family's support, and her faith in God.

Bethany was already an amazing person before the accident. After the accident, she became a voice for those who go through traumatizing situations and don't understand why bad things sometimes happen to good people.

I love the movie because the producers and director didn't take out a central piece of information about Bethany: she's a devout, practicing Christian. They show her going to church, right at the beach, still wet after a fun surfing session (wouldn't I love that, especially in this Utah winter weather!), and going to a youth church meeting. She also goes to a humanitarian mission, and she constantly expresses her belief in Jesus-Christ.

Before the accident, her teacher, who by the way is played by Carrie Underwood, shares a scripture from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This is the central theme of the movie, in my opinion. God always has a plan for us.

At the end of the movie, when a reporter asks her if she would undo what happened if she could, she shakes her head and says, "Surfing isn't the most important thing in life. Love is. I've had the chance to embrace more people with one arm than I ever could with two."

I never imagined a movie could have such an impact on a four-year old. My Princess Peach quotes the movie, goes to sleep listening to the soundtrack, and when she builds with her connectagons, she creates figurines of surfers, and let's not forget the judges. Yesterday she declared that instead of having a Vivint. birthday party, she wants a surfing party. I had plenty of Vivint things to improvise a birthday party, although, what would I give as party favors? An alarm system? For a surfing party I'll have to be more creative. Especially for a bunch of preschoolers.

Swan Princess is into all things surfing and Hawaiian too. Yesterday, when I picked her up at the bus stop, she declared that she finally knows where she's going to college. Until now she wanted to go to Julliard, but now it's BYU Hawaii :-)

I'm grateful my girls have Bethany Hamilton as her heroine. The best heroines, after all, are the ones in real life, and they don't even need special super powers to do wonders. They only need their powers within.  

Who are your heroes? Who are the heroes you borrowed from your children? :-)

To end, here's a video I found:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THIS is why I love it so much

Today Barcelona added another trophy to their already cluttered collection. I celebrated each goal (Iniesta1, Messi 2) and protested after each foul by the Real Madrid players in the same way as if I were at the stadium. Good thing my husband's out of town :-)



I'm still in a daze for finally seeing Cesc Fabregas wearing the blaugrana jersey of the first team (doesn't he look awesome? He's the first from the right). My happiness turned into outrage when Marcelo tackled Cesc at the end of the game.

The fight that followed the infraction for which a red wasn't enough, and Ozil's and Villa's red cards for punching each other are nothing compared to what when Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho did. He attacked the Barcelona assistant coach, Vilanova, and then laughed about it.


I love the goals and celebration, but I hate the violence. Violence in the field creates violence in the stands.

In spite of all of that, my favorite part, and the reason I love futbol so much, is shown at the 1 minute mark of the following video. Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid 20, is outraged, and fellow Argentine Javier Mascherano tries to calm him down. Mascherano is Barcelona's 14. The thing that I love the most is that in spite of belonging to rival teams, the Montegue and Capulets of the futbol world, these two guys belong to a team that takes precedence over the team they work at. They're both part of the Argentine National team and they look after one another. A few seconds into the video, I saw Barcelona's Dani Alves comforting fellow Brazilian, the Merengue Kaka. Same thing. They're Brazilians and friends first. The rivalry comes last.

Of course, someone may argue that in both teams that are several Spanish National team players that hate each other, but that's another argument. For the most part, the futbol players in this match avoided aggression and protected their friends, disregarding the jersey they were wearing at the time.

Futbol is passion but it's also a brotherhood. And I love it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Morning Pages and Conferences

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm doing the 12 week Artist's Way program. One of the first exercises Julia Cameron prescribes is the writing of three pages every morning, before doing anything else. This is supposed to be the place and space to spit out all the self-doubt and fears, so that by the time a writer or artist of any kind is ready to settle to work, the fears and doubts have already been said and can't block the artist's progress anymore.

I don't know if I'm doing them right or not, but to me, they have become a sort of journal. More personal than a journal in fact, because in my official journal, I keep in mind someone (my family) might read it in the future. With the morning pages, I ramble and babble without direction. Once in a while though, I'll put in writing something that has been in my mind for a while, sometimes even without being conscious of it. These sparks of self-discovery are fueling my story. I read somewhere that if you do something for at least 21 days, it becomes a habit. I've been doing the morning pages for longer than that--I'm in week 7--and I really hope they're here to stay. Even if they're only good enough to take all my whining and complaining.

On other news, WriteOnCon, the amazing free writing conference organized by the amazing Elana Johnson and company is taking place right now. Click here for a recap of today. There's plenty of food for thought. Oy! If you're a writer, don't forget to enter the contests and numerous critiques in the forums. Who knows who may find you there? 

Monday, August 01, 2011

Back from the Summer and surprise! It's still Summertime!

I just came back home from El Paso, and I'm so excited to still have one more month before the kids go back to school! No more going away every summer because of Jeff's work! It's been an adventure every year, visiting new places like the real Little House on the Prairie or exploring Washington DC or downtown El Paso. Both are scary and exciting places at the same time and for the same and different reasons, if it makes sense at all. But I'm glad to be home!

Although I kind miss the endless summers that didn't have school/futbol/dance/piano/guitar looming at the end, I also love the routine school brings to our lives, and yes, the quiet and the time to read and write. I guess I'm into long sentences today, and that's okay with me if it is with you. I'm blogging, mainly because I worried people would think I died or something. So Julie, here I am, although the plan was to blog every week. It didn't go as planned, but here I am :-)

I'll upload some pictures later this week. I'm just getting used to being back home and knowing we're not leaving any time soon.

How's your summer been so far? I know Julie has had a ton of adventures and experiences. I want to see some pictures too. And Tiffany? She's been to Europe! Her pictures are amazing! How about the rest of you?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eternal student

A couple of weeks ago I attended the WIFYR writers' conference. The best part of the conference was the morning workshop with Martine Leavitt, author of Keturah And Lord Death, Tom Finder, and Heck Superhero among other amazing books. I'm still trying to internalize the wealth of knowledge I received during the week, and I plan on posting the things that stood out the most to me. My other favorite thing about the conference is attending the panels where authors and agents talk not only about the industry, but also about the craft. Mary Kole, agent of the Andrea Brown agency, talking about online presence, said, "If you have a blog, update it often. If you don't post for a year, people are going to wonder if you're alive.
I laughed and nodded my head because I do just that: I go months before posting sometimes. My excuse is that if I blog, I take my time away from my writing. But if I don't, I miss out on the interaction with my "online friends."
I don't promise to update every day, but I will do it more often than I have done before.
On the workshop, Martine recommended the Artist's Way, a book many others have recommended before, so I ordered it and brought it to El Paso with me, along with a whole lot of books about writing. This morning, I woke up early and wrote my Three Morning Pages, an exercise Julia Cameron recommends for artists to unblock. I wrote three pages of rambling, and I don't know if it was that, or the exercise shake I just took, but I'm full of energy and desire to write. And I haven't felt this way for a long time.
What are you doing this summer? Attending conferences? Taking a break from creating? I'd love to know.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Contest and my first page

Shelly Waters is holding an amazing contest. Again. This time we have to post the first page of our book for an opportunity to have ten pages critiqued by Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates!

I know I've had this page, chapter and book critiqued to death. But several extra eyes won't hurt! Thanks for taking the time to read my entry. I'll hop blogs to leave my critique too.

Title: SOUTHERN CROSS
Genre: YA Literary Fiction
Word Count: 87,000 words

Lies have short legs. I’ve known this ominous proverb since before I could speak.
    Who among my ancestors brought the saying across the Atlantic all the way to Argentina?
    My Russian great-grandmother embroidered it on a pillow after her first boyfriend broke her heart. My Palestinian grandfather whispered it to me every time my mom found his stash of wine bottles hidden in the unlikeliest places, like underneath my bed. My Andalusian grandmother repeated it like a mantra, lost in her old woman insanity, before her memories and regrets called her to the next life.
    Perhaps the saying doesn’t belong to any language, and sprouted from this land the early explorers thought encrusted with silver, and my immigrant family adopted the expression like its own.  
    In spite of seventeen years of practice, my lies’ legs haven’t grown stronger or faster. I know the consequences of lying to my father. A reflex slap that will leave my face burning for hours. A session of yelling and blaming his worries on a daughter who’s not as beautiful as her mother nor as smart as he is. A litany of all the reasons he gave my mom for not having any more children after Pablo—perfect, beautiful Pablo—was born.
     With all these thoughts clamoring in my head, I still went to the stadium to watch my brother play in the Scoundrels’ opening match of the season. My brother and that other boy whom the press calls the Titan because on the pitch, he’s more than a god. Diego Ferrari.

Perfection

I'm not perfect doing my Insanity workout. But I do it every day, and I enjoy it. I promise I do. And I do pretty well on my diet, except on Sundays or when my mom cooks and makes the most delicious food in the world.

Today I can't blame my mom. It's May 29th, and in Argentina ("and now here in Utah," Chubbers said) we have the tradition of making gnocchi (potato dumplings) and putting a one dollar bill underneath each plate. Every January I resolve to follow this tradition, and each 29th goes by and I forget all about it. It's May, but it's still a month closer to 2011 than to 2012. I'm already doing better than ever.

As soon as my daughters saw me don my apron, they ran to put theirs on.
Making gnocchi is dirty business: floured counter tops el Cagri blew on every time he walked past, sticky hands, dogs underfoot hoping to catch a fallen ball of dough. But the girls' faces as they were helping roll the balls and make the little shells was priceless. I don't have a lot of memories of my grandmother Elena. She wasn't the grandmotherly kind. But I remember going to her house on Sundays, and looking at her hands transform a glob of potato, eggs and flour into a delicacy. I never knew how she could knead so fast. I guess that after seven kids (six of whom were boys), she learned to work fast.




 I'm not sure my gnocchi turned out as Abuela Elena's, but they were delicious. I see something of Abuela in Chubbers and Swan. Maybe Perfection skipped a generation.

And last but not least, I can't talk of perfection and not mention Lio Messi's goal yesterday against Manchester United for the Europe Champion League's Final. He's personified perfection, the god of futbol. Maybe in the future, someone will write a biography of the best futbol player that has ever existed--him--and I'll be shocked to find out crazy things about him. Maybe not. For now, he's perfect, the reason futbol even exists. Take a look at his work of art. It makes me cry.
 

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Flaws in my favorites

Last weekend I read a very popular YA Contemporary author for the first time. I write in the same genre, and I was curious to learn how her books became such favorites. So with pen in hand (I always take notes on my books; that's why I like to buy my own), I dove into the story.

It took me a while to get into it. But before I realized what time it was, or what page number I was in and still no major Plot Turning Point, I was already in love with the characters, and I really wanted them to succeed and achieve their goals, AKA, each other.


And when I finished the book, the characters stayed with me, and I was mad at myself for finishing the book so fast. Now, I want to get this author's other books, and see if they make a cameo appearance in another story (I read they do! And I'm so excited to see them again even if it's not in their stories).

My favorite author is Carlos Ruiz Zafon. His book aren't structurally perfect. There's some telling, some repetition, but I love his characters; I think about them all the time.

In preparation for the WIFYR conference, I also read Keturah And Lord Death. Again. It's the perfect book. I didn't find a single thing that could even be questionable. I love the dialog, the characters, the subtle descriptions that make my mind take flights and fill in the blanks. The beautiful, lyrical language. I love Lord Death.



That's why I love to read. To lose myself into someone else's world for a few hours and when I'm finished, love or hate those characters that are now a part of me.

I'm working on my second draft of HEAR YE MORTALS, my Gothic YA with a boy main character, and I'm having a hard time with it. There's so many rules to follow, my inner editor is so loud that my creative side of me has been a little  muffled lately. So this week, I plan on letting myself go, let these characters take life again, live outside of the charts and outlines. Maybe some day another person will love them (or hate them) as much as I love them. Because I love these people that speak in my mind, even the bad guy, because I know his motivations and where he comes from.

Do you love any stories even though you find flaws in them? Which ones?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

LDStorymakers 2011 and my winner first chapter

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the LDStorymakers 2011 writers' conference. If you attend one conference a year, this is the one you should choose. The tuition was very affordable, with options for people who could only attend one day or all three.

I have a wonderful critique group that I treasure. My partners are all incredibly talented, supportive, and knowledgeable. They're usually the ones who read the earlier drafts of my books, and I trust them to offer helpful but kind criticism. Sometimes it's also very helpful to have people whom you don't know and don't know you read your work too. During bootcamp and the Publication Primer classes, all my companions offered invaluable advice, and even if in a couple of instances I didn't agree with something right away, as the days went by, I recalled their words and read their comments and realized that they might be right! Or I saw my chapter from another perspective. That, is gold for the writers' mind.

Due to some scheduling conflicts, I wasn't able to attend Larry Brooks' class(yes, the guy who writes storyfix.com, the best writers' reference blog out there, in my opinion), but he gave the keynote address. Larry is a pragmatic kind of guy but an advocate for being a prepared writer, or a writer with a plan, even if it's only just in your mind. I loved that he said we all have the tools to succeed as writers, we just need to learn the craft.

I also had the chance to pitch agent Becca Stumpf, from the Prospect Agency. I wasn't dying of anxiety because right before my pitch appointment, I attended a class by her, and she's a lovely person. She was very enthusiastic about my project, and made the ten minutes pass by like a breeze.

On Saturday during lunch, the first chapter contest winners were announced. I really didn't have a lot of hope. But I'm a Saggitarius, I can't help being optimistic :-) so every time I thought about the announcement, I had butterflies in my stomach.

They started by announcing fifth place. There were so many entries for YA Fiction. My name wasn't in fifth, fourth, third, and then for the second place, they announced A BLIND EYE, from none other than my dear friend Julie Daines! I was so happy I teared up. Last year she won first place. So when they announced her name, I told her, "You're the queen of first chapters."
And then, I saw my title on the screen, SOUTHERN CROSS, and my name right beneath it. They announced my chapter as the winner. Let me tell you, I totally knew what Harry Potter was feeling on the way to professor Dumbledore when his name came out of the Globet of Fire!

I don't remember how I made it all the way to the podium. My friend Julie gave me a hug, and I cried a little. In fact, when I told my brother later on the phone, the first thing he asked was "Did you cry?"

The best part of all was coming home and finding this from my kids:
And later my friend Julie and her husband brought me more ballons:
And I promise I've been trying not to stare at this certificate all week (I don't know how to turn the pic on this program!)
Most of all, I have hope again for this story. I only queried a few agents, but without any good response. This week, I re-wrote my query letter and I'm working on a few more revisions before I send SOUTHERN CROSS out into the world. If you're interested in reading my first chapter, it's posted on the LDStorymakers site for a month. Click here. Look for Youth Fiction (all other genres besides Fantasy) and you'll see my name, Yamile Mendez. It's still there, so I guess it's true I won :-)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Because I loved Richard Bach's books when I was little.

I remember one day, bored at my aunt's house. My two older cousins were probably out with girlfriends, and the little ones were taking naps. A small, wobbly bookshelf full of books called me into the semi-darkness of the living room--a welcome invitation in a hot summer day.

And there, wedged between two fat books I can't remember was Richard's Bach Messiah's Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul. I think I was in fifth grade, because my next memory is of reading passages of it to my desk partner, a girl named Florencia who smiled like an angel. I read her passages of the book, so excited to share the gems that made my heart burn with the discovery of so many wonderful possibilities. That we can do whatever we set our minds to, that we have no idea of our potential, that I could materialize anything I wanted into my life.

Over the years, I've met a lot of people who read Richard's books. Some of them are still great friends of mine. One of the things he mentioned in one of his books--because after Messiah, I devoured them all--was the concept of parallel universes, of what you could tell your younger self if you could.

Last night, for the first time in a long time, I thought of this concept.

During family dinner the kids were asking me about all the pets I had in my life. I don't know why, but I told them about Pamela, a tiny dachshund that my father gave me when I was seven. She was a pest. I see it now that I'm a mother. But back then, I couldn't understand why my mom, tired of cleaning after the dog, gave her away.

When I finished telling the story, I realized my Chubbers was gone. I found her crying in her room. When she saw me, she ran to me and hugged me so, so tight. "I'm so sorry about your dog, mami," she said between hiccups.

Maybe in a parallel universe, a seven year-old Yamile is crying her heart out over her little dog. I hope she can feel the chubby arms around her neck, and the wet kiss on the cheek trying to console her.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Twitter pitch contest--Updated

Taffy, my fellow Shark and Pebbles member, entered the Show Me the Voice contest and won an agent critique of her manuscript. Since the fates are favoring one of my crit partners, I thought, "Maybe the luck will follow me next time!"
When I saw the amazing contest Shelly Waters is holding in celebration of reaching 100 followers on her blog and 500 on twitter, I decided to enter too. The grand prize is a full manuscript request by no other than Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management.

Shelley will also select winners for a query critique, which would also be an awesome prize!

The task seems very simple. It consists of writing a twitter pitch of your book. That's a 140 character pitch.
Here's mine for HEAR YE MORTALS, my Young Adult contemporary:

Sebastian, an illegal American in Argentina, finds a way back to the USA that has no room for his cousin, gypsy troupe or senile grandma.

That's 137 characters. Including the period. What do you guys think?

Thank you all for your input! My brain is almost fried, but I came up with a hopefully better entry:

Seba finds way back to his old life in USA. If only his young cousin and senile Nona had visas and Death hadn’t chosen him as next sacrifice.



Thanks for all your help!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mothering, my dear friend

Mothering, very much like writing, is a lonely affair. Especially during the first few months as a new mom. When my Gorgeous Boy was born, Jeff and I didn't have the support of our parents nearby. We lived far from our family and from our friends who were also having babies at the same time as us.

I wish that during those hard months I had the companionship of Mothering Magazine, the only parenting magazine I've paid a subscription for. But I didn't discover it until my third child, El Cangri, was six months and I didn't know how to help my baby, who suffered chronic ear infections and who could cry for hours and hours, and who had a diaper rash that nothing could cure.

We were at a chiropractor's office when I came across a free copy of the magazine. I took it home and devoured it. Not only did I love the articles, but the readers' letters and the ads. Oh the ads! Natural toys and baby slings, cloth diapers and homeopathic remedies.

When I found Mothering, I found a friend, and behind it, a community of other moms, like me, who wanted to try alternative parenting styles.

When I didn't know what else to try for my son who could throw titanic tantrums or when I was considering homeschooling, I went to the Mothering Forum Boards and found a lot of advise, which even when it didn't apply to me, I  felt I had support, people who understood what I was going through.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard the terrible news. Mothering is no more. The company, struck by the economic crisis, like hundreds if not thousand other businesses, couldn't keep afloat. Now, they're only a web base company.

The forums remain, but I'll miss my bi-monthly copy of the magazine. I have a stack of past issues that I'll save like gold for the future, for when I need to read an inspiring article or find nutritious recipes. Even if no more babies will come to our family--we have four after all!-- I'm sure a friend, or my daughters, in many, many years, will find the same joy I did at finding like-minded mothers reflected on the magazine.

Thank you, Mothering Magazine, for being my mentor and help me be a better mother for my kids. I'll miss you so much!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World

Last December, I traveled to Argentina, for only the second time in fourteen years. The first time, I traveled with my Cangri who was barely one year old, and I was eight weeks pregnant. It was April, the time between Summer and Fall (in the Southern Hemisphere). I was there for two weeks--one week was scorching Summer, the next freezing Winter. To say it was stressing and hard to go back and see everything as an adult is an understatement.

This second trip, I resolved to enjoy everything. The whole family traveled together--all six of us plus my parents. It was Summer! Christmas. What else could I ask for?

Books!

I found books, of course. And while in Buenos Aires, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting El Ateneo, only one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Years ago, a theater operated there and now it functions as a haven of culture.

My husband likes books okay. When we walked into El Ateneo, he looked at me and asked, "How long are we staying here?"
I didn't want to scare him, so I said, "An hour?" Meaning three or four.
He just nodded. "I ask because this is the coolest place I've ever seen."
And my heart flooded with love. For him and the millions of books around me.
Here are some pictures:

                                                              Unassuming on the outside
 
Three stories of books, music, film, art inside


Me and a part of my stack of books

 My two middle babies
 Frescoes on the ceiling



 Spanish versions of The Dark Divine and Hush, Hush. I felt I had ran into friends
 Another part of the stack
 Heaven!

 Balconies where people can go and read and live. I would have if I could...

And more books

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sharing the Love

Last week I joined a few other bloggers in participating of a virtual Secret Valentine blogfest. I loved the concept, and when I found out whose Secret Valentine I am, I was even more excited: Kristin Miller, one of the brilliant minds behind the idea.

I don't know Kristin in person, but just reading her blogs (yes, she has multiple blogs) gave me a hint of who she is, and made me wish I knew how to design a beautiful blog--or hire someone to do it for me--, and write such insightful/useful blog posts.

Without being a stalker, I found a lot of interesting things about her just from her blog:
  • She's such a romantic. I mean, her favorite fictional couple are Anne (yes, from the Green Gables) and Gilbert.
  • She has excellent taste: among her favorite movies are The Borne Trilogy and she likes the Fiennes brothers.
  • She loves to travel. Such a free spirit.
  • She's brave. She travels by herself, and likes meeting new people in her travels. I wish more like that. I have a hard time on Sundays if my friends are not at Church.
  • She's crafty. Not only does she post wonderful ideas for crafts, like a wintery rose wreath or a pendant with charms made out of book pages, but she also links to the tutorial. She's generous and thoughtful too.
  • She writes wonderful book reviews. Even though her comments of  YUMMY: THE LAST DAYS OF A SOUTHSIDE SHORTY by G. Neri, ill by Randy DuBurke are brief, they sparked my interest in it right away. It's already on my TBR ever-growing mountain (pile doesn't really fit anymore).
  • Her favorite drink is water, and she loves yoga pants. 
  • She's hard working: not only is she a YA and MG author, but she's also an agent with the D4EO agency. She's also part of the the wonderful YA Highway bloggers.
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day, Kristin. I'm very glad of this opportunity to get to know you a little through this fun event.

And Happy Valentine's day to all of you, whether you are single or in a couple. Love is everywhere!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm reading a book

My fellow Shark and Pebbles critique partner, Julie, shared this video with me today. From now on, I declare this as the theme song of my life. I wonder if Julian could some day make a song entitled, "Don't you ever interrupt me when I'm writing my book."
What do you think?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Gone feising

Yesterday my Swan Princess participated of her third feis. Since she wasn't nervous at all, I was nervous for her.
I shouldn't have been. Not even for a second. She did wonderful. She participated in a reel, light jig, slip jig, treble jig and hornpipe competition. The last two on hard shoes. I could never remember the steps for one dance, let alone five.
She placed first on the reel and light jig, and fourth on hornpipe. Keep in mind that her class started practicing the dances a couple of weeks before we left for Argentina, and she missed a whole month.
I don't know how she does it. It's a wonderful feeling when your child can do things you'd never consider doing. Or that you can't do. What does she feel up on that stage, in front of so many people? Does she think the sequence of the steps she needs to take or does she just let her feet remember?
I asked her, and she just smiled at me and shrugged her shoulders.
I guess I'll never know.
My medalist and her proud mama


Isn't she adorable?

PS: She's been making bracelets to set up a booth at a boutique. I asked her what she will do with the money and she said, "I'm saving for my competition in Ireland."
She still has countless feiseanna to win before she can go to Ireland for her certification. But do I doubt she will get to do it? Not for a second.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wiggly Tooth

My baby boy is almost six years old. He wakes up with a smile to go to kindergarten, early in the morning, with the older kids. He loves break-dancing class. He comes home from school and turns on his iPod so loud I can hear it all the way from the kitchen, while I smile as I imagine him twist and bend with the music, releasing the energy he had to contain in the classroom.

When he thinks I don't see him, he babbles in Arabic to his toys or daydreams on his swing--he could be in a Caribbean beach and not in his room. El Cangri ALWAYS has something nice to say about everybody. He would tell me how pretty I look first thing in the morning, and I know his words come from the heart. No other than a child would say that to me :-)

I've wondered if being positive increases his self-confidence or if his self-confidence helps him be positive. I wish I were more like him in that respect, see the bright side of things.

In his cave-man talk he said last night, "One of my teeth will come out soon." And his eyes sparkled with pride and maybe a tinge of fear.

He's my third child. I should be used to this kind of event. Still, emotion surprised me as I verified that yes, he has a loose tooth. So many months waiting for tiny teeth to finally cut through and end the agony of teething--my boys had always the hardest time while teething--and then one day, without notice, they become wiggly and fall off.

My Cangri is growing. So fast I don't even want to blink in case I miss all the wonder that he is. But every night, at about two, muffled footsteps by my bedroom door, take my attention from even the most fascinating book or dream. He snuggles close to me and says, "I love you, mama."

He's still my baby. My precious third child, so glad to grow up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kid History - Episode 1

This is the greatest Youtube video I've ever watched. I won't spoil it for you, but I warn you as Jaime (who posted it on her blog first, and I just had to share it) did in her blog, I hope you're not drinking anything while watching this video. You've been warned...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Five libraries from the garbage

I can't let Halloween go. That's the only excuse I have for not updating my blog since the beginning of October. I promise I've been blogging in my mind everyday, but as the great Neil Gaiman would say, "it doesn't count."
Before I blog about the most amazing Christmas of my life, or my new nanowrimo experience, my trip to Argentina, the most beautiful bookstore in the world, or a million other things, I want to share the story of Jose Alberto Gutierrez, a humble garbage truck driver from Bogota, Colombia.
His life changed when he opened a box, and saw Anna Karenina was in it, along with several other books. He took the box home, and his mission of rescuing books from the garbage started.
Since that day in the year 2000, he's rescued more than 12,000 books and he has opened five libraries in humble neighborhoods. The first one started from his home, in his wife's sewing shop. One of the libraries is operated by a 12 year old who volunteered.
The libraries also function as community cultural centers, with reading groups, theater, puppet shows, etc.
This man, who didn't have the opportunity of a formal education, became a promoter of literacy. The libraries don't receive any kind of government subsidies or help. They're there because of Jose Gutierrez's desire to share the books that for other people were garbage, and because of that desire to learn and curiosity that defines as humans.