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Green Scooby-Doo Balloon To The Rescue

21 Apr

I thought I had it all. I’ve become accustomed to thinking ahead. That’s what you do when you’ve got kids, or cranky adults. You prepare.

Festival of Books

The Festival of Books. It’s a huge event with massive crowds of book loving people who also like freebies and samples from the corporate sponsors. I’ve gone just about every year for the past eight years. But now that I have a three-year old and a nine-month old. The trip becomes more like a mission to avoid any meltdown from any child.

Coppertone Water Babies UVA/UVB Sunscreen 50 SPF.

Three Cuties oranges.

Two Ziploc bags of Cheerios.

One container of Gerber Puffs.

Two juice boxes.

Three pacifiers.

Two sippy cups of water.

One bottle of milk.

One apple.

One banana.

One Clif Kid Bar Z Crispy Chocolate Chip.

Two Clif Kid Z Fruit Ropes

One peanut butter and banana sandwich.

One diaper bag filled with baby essentials.

I thought I had it all, but it was out of my control.

After a meltdown-free morning of construction, train, and dinosaur book exploring, arts and crafts doing, and music loving under a blistering heat for three hours, we encountered the balloon. We had it for five minutes. The red balloon from the Chinese Dragon stall. Then it popped. Thin layer I guess.

I saw it coming. I got the look and then the shoulders slumped. The eyes got watery, the lower lip did the I’m-about-to-cry pucker. Then his voice cracked, and I knew it was coming.

I forgot to pack an extra balloon.

The crowd at The Festival of Books.

No worries we’ll get another one. After fifteen minutes of weaving in and out through the crowds, we found the stall. Sweet. No one was in line. However no one was in line for a reason. No more balloons.

I got the look and the shoulder slump …

I saw someone with a purple Scooby-Doo balloon. We raced back through massive pedestrian traffic past the Mystery Machine and found the chick passing out the balloons. There was no red. Just Mystery Machine colors.

Scooby-Doo Balloon

“Green. Mom. Green is my favorite. Red is no good.”

So after three Cuties oranges, one banana, one apple, half a peanut butter sandwich, two juice boxes, two bags of Cheerios, one container of puffs most of which trailed behind us courtesy of the baby, one bottle of milk, one Clif Bar Z Crispy Chocolate Chip, and two Clif Kid Z Fruit Ropes, it was the green balloon to the rescue.

We lost one sippy cup and two pacifiers in the process, but the green Scooby-Doo balloon is still in tact.

The green balloon that saved us floats among the crowd.


Note to self: pack an extra balloon.


I’m Living in a Dr. Seuss Book

5 Apr

“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.

Un-slumpling yourself is not easily done.”

I got schooled by Dr. Seuss tonight. My son’s bedtime routine includes reading three books every night before he goes to sleep. He picks two and I pick one. I often find myself reading Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, The Lorax, or something involving trucks or trains three times a week. At least.

We always get new selections from the library, where he’s supposed to be quietly flipping through some books on the lounge chairs while I search for new titles. Does it always happen this way? Of course not. So when I grab books-on-the-go because I’m trying to leave the library without looking like “that mom” with the loud kid that doesn’t have a mute button, and one of those books-on-the-go happens to be pretty cool, it surprises me. 

Cover of "Oh The Places You'll Go! (Dr. S...

Cover via Amazon

Even though my son missed out on much of the symbolic underlying themes of the book, he did enjoy the basics — the adventures — of Oh The Places You’ll Go! I had never read that book before, so I thought it was a badass serendipitous moment that it fell into my hands.

It’s basically about the journey — life, graduating to the next step in your adventure, whether it be preschool, college, PhD., astronaut camp or motherhood. It’s about the Great Balancing Act of Life and all the drama, peace, and triumphs that come with it — staying balanced with the ups and downs.

It’s for the people with “Dreamer’s Disease”. I have it. I inherited it from my dad. I hope my son gets it. I hope the baby gets it. Reading this will make sure he’s on his way, or at the very least introduce him to the phases of life.

The book’s got different stages and I’ve been through most of them and continue to visit these places in a crazy cycle that The Guat life provides. I’m currently in a slump, where I’m “un-slumping” myself, and Seuss is right, it’s not easily done. It’s a bitch.

Then there’s “The Waiting Place,” for people just waiting … everyone is just waiting for things to happen. I’ve been passive like that too, but then I snapped out of it and moved on to the next roller coaster ride … “ready for anything under the sky.”

Now I’m living the “Great Balancing Act,” sometimes I fall … off a jagged, cliff and flat on my face. Other times I have badass moments of success, like The Warrior Dash.

And I ride those moments until the next great thing happens … and I remember the most awesomeness place … success. Oh yeah, I’ve been there, but not recently. Prior to the Warrior Dash, the bus hasn’t stopped on that corner in a while, but I remember what it looks like. Dr. Seuss reminded me.

“And will you succeed?”

“Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed”.

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

 Giddy up!



Making Mount Everest Out of a Molehill …

2 Mar

 Movie night was supposed to be simple. But nothing in The Guat life is simple and nothing turns out the way you thought it would … well sometimes parking spots.

Mount everest

Image via Wikipedia

The Lorax was supposed to be a stress free-outing, with popcorn — a celebration of what I call my son’s preschool graduation. I know it wasn’t his graduation, more like his termination because of the raise in tuition and his teacher going on maternity leave. But graduation sounds better.

So in celebratory fashion I wanted to secure our entrance to this Dr. Seuss extravaganza and get tickets ahead of time, not wasting any time standing in line, or risking the show being sold out.

But buying movie tickets online is tricky. You need to be sure that you’ll be going at a designated time. I thought I was going on time. I thought I had picked a time suitable for everyone’s nap schedule and snack schedule, including my own. I had lined up a two babysitters: 1) A friend of the family who offered to do it seeing how I constantly watched her kids when they were younger, and 2) my mother, who found out the friend of the family was watching the baby and got all possessive over her grandkid and decided to assist. But even with that time was not on my side.

I called our first babysitter three times reminding her of when we’d be arriving. The plan was to hang out for about fifteen minutes to make sure the baby was all right, and then go to the movies. We had never left her with anybody other than my mom or aunt, so even though this was a friend of the family, we were still pretty worried and filled with a little anxiety. But it would only be for two hours. So we thought we’d get the baby settled, she’d be fine.

My other half was supposed to meet me at home so we could drop off the baby, then pick up my son from school, take our time saying our final good-byes to his preschool buddies, take a few pictures and be on our way.

No. Not even close.

Movie started at 5:20 p.m. We were supposed to drop off the baby around 4:30 p.m. I’m waiting for my dude to show up, as he suggested I wait for him because he was getting off work early and wanted me to buy the 5:20 p.m. tickets, instead of the 6:30 p.m. tickets. He insisted. Said everything would be fine.

4:00 … No dude. Phone call, no answer.

4:15 … No dude. Phone call, no answer.

4:30 … No dude. Phone call, answer. I’m waiting for you, I haven’t picked up our son from school. His response: what are you waiting for, you should have picked him up a while ago. I hang up.

4:40 … Drive like Speedracer and arrive to pick up my son. Didn’t bring the camera to take pictures. Didn’t think to bring an extra shirt to replace the mud stains and paint. Didn’t have enough time for proper good-byes … had to make time for potty …glad I brought the cards and thank you gifts for teachers the day before.

5:00 … Arrive at the babysitter’s. No dude. No babysitter.

5:01 … Call babysitter and found out she’s at karate class with her sons. Could I wait 15 to 20 minutes?

5:02 … Exasperated.

5:10 … Dude shows up.

5:15 … Babysitter shows up. I give her the rundown of the baby’s schedule, give her the bag of toys, and leave the diaper bag on the couch. We hang out for about five minutes, baby seems o.k.

5:20 … She mentions she needs the base to our car seat because she’s going to pick up her sons from karate.

I’m sorry what?

I thought babysitting meant sitting in your house (or mine) and watching the baby. Not carpooling or traveling. I was not o.k. with this, in fact this seemed to stress me out considering this was the first time she was babysitting for us. My dude and I hesitated. One of us was on the verge of not making it. But she assured us everything would be fine … we were sure it wouldn’t be. We knew she’d start crying and it freaked me out. She pushed us out the door assuring us the baby would all right.

I was worried and freaked out. I was a neurotic parent. I was frustrated that the situation I tried so hard to avoid came to pass: felt rushed everywhere, dumped off my kid with no hey-get-used-to-this-lady-and-her-house-because-you’ll-be-here-for-a-while time, late to the movies, and probably wouldn’t find parking or seats in the theatre.

5:30 … Arrive at the movies, get tickets from kiosk, go up the escalators, ticket chick takes our tickets … get a text from the babysitter: We think you took the diaper bag by mistake, couldn’t find it … no worries we bought diapers. 🙂

5:31 … Taking deep breaths

5:33 … Dude assures me that he didn’t take the diaper bag. I know I didn’t take it, but he still assures me it was him … apparently it did an Andy Dufresne from Shawshank and “vanished like a fart in the wind.”

5:35 … Enter the theatre. No seats in the back or middle. Still taking deep breaths. Sitting in the second row center. IMAX indeed.

Movie starts.

I felt like I added a couple of gray hairs on that trip. At first I couldn’t concentrate, I was so stressed out and worried about the baby. She must be losing it, I thought. My gut ached. I felt bad because I couldn’t fully enjoy the movie experience with my son because I was worrying about my other kid.

And then my son turned to look at me as he ate his butter-flavored popcorn and chocolate covered raisins. He smiled and said … Here he comes mom, The Lorax!

So in that instant I decided to commit to the moment. The baby would be fine. If I didn’t trust the babysitter I wouldn’t have bothered to ask for the favor in the first place. Besides, my mother would probably show up in forty minutes, so I’d have two babysitters working to entertain my kid. I needed to calm down. She’d be fine. I realized this was not a Mount Everest problem, this was a hill. I’m glad I came to my senses in the middle of the movie.

I’m glad I wasn’t climbing Mount Everest anymore, otherwise I would have rushed out of the theatre as soon as I saw “THE END.”

I would have missed my son jumping up out of his seat and yelling: “Come on let’s dance! Let’s dance everyone!”

As the credits rolled and the Lorax’s humming fish began singing and dancing, there I was … dancing and doing spin moves with my son … second row … center aisle.

The Lorax (film)

To Chanlca or not To Chancla … That is the Question

10 Feb

Have you met The Chancla?

It was the deadly slipper that seemed to get passed on from generation to generation. It didn’t look like much by itself. Sometimes it was pink and fuzzy, other times it was flip flop with what appeared to be a flimsy rubber sole to the naked eye.  But looks were deceiving.

A pair of well-used flip-flops.

Image via Wikipedia

If your parents were born in Mexico, Central America or South America you are probably aware of this little Latino phenomenon. Not everyone I guess, but I would say 99.9 percent of the Latino population knows The Chancla.

I myself am very familiar with it. However, I wasn’t a bad kid growing up. I just grew up in a rough inner-city neighborhood and my mom wanted to make sure I didn’t cross the line, didn’t think of crossing the line, didn’t breathe on the line, didn’t even look at the line.

Most of the time I received visits from The Chancla for missing curfew. I tried sneaking in after curfew many times but was hardly successful. Our one-bedroom apartment made it difficult for me to ever sneak in without getting caught.

There was no escaping it. I’d take off my shoes, wrap anything that jingled in my coat, opened the door quietly, took a few steps, and there it was — the floorboard. That killed it every time. It’s creaking was like a prison alarm summoning all the guards.

Sure enough, after the rickety wood gave us away, the warden would emerge from the dark corner, wearing her uniform: a long aqua-blue terry cloth bathrobe with bleach stains on the bottom. She would shake her head, rub her blood-shot eyes, and then give me the look. I knew operation “sneaking-in” had failed.

I would take a deep breath and do one of two things: lie or tell the truth. If neither of them passed my mom’s test of satisfaction it was over. The Chancla would surface. Put into the wrong hands, my parents’, it became a deadly weapon. The sole transformed into a hard object. Very hard and painful. But I survived, I was a good kid. I was a good kid to begin with didn’t need any help from The Chancla, but parents wanted to make sure.

So now as my son is growing up, my mom and aunts begin giving me their “old school” opinions.

My son…he cracks me up. He’s got personality and sweetness, but he’s three. He tests your boundaries, sometimes to the limit.

Not everyone has patience. I am quite aware of that. However I’ve had the advantage (at the time it was a serious disadvantage) of being a substitute middle school teacher for a couple of years. Middle school … have you met this beast? I got all the patience I needed from that gig. So my range is a little more tolerable than most members of my family including my husband.

But the question arose…to Chancla or not to Chancla?

My son is awesome. But let’s not get crazy sometimes he acts up. He gets attitude. He doesn’t always cooperate at the supermarket. He needs to watch Wonder Pets when I’m trying to watch The Closer. He doesn’t necessarily go to sleep when he’s supposed. He yells when the baby is sleeping. It happens. He’s three. But there’s mom and some family members “…hey hey hey, looks like he may need the chancla soon.”

Calm down. He’s three, just take away his trains or fire engines and he thinks the world is ending. But if he starts drinking Drano, cutting the baby’s hair or lighting ants on fire well … I’ll revisit the topic.

All I Wanted To Do Was Leave By 8:00

15 Jan

Tun-tun, tun-tun-tun-tun, tun-tun-tun-tun, tun-tun-tun-tun, tun-tun tun turooo-rooo, turooo-rooo, turoo-rooo, turoooooooooooo …

Cover of "Mission Impossible (Special Col...

I felt like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. But instead of being a successful secret agent I was a mom that ended up with a bruise on her hip and a bad tequila sunrise.

All I wanted to do was leave my parent’s house by 8:00 o’clock to make it to my friend’s BIG 4-0 celebration. Listen to music, laugh with some friends and not have to worry about being a mom for one night. I don’t get out much in the evening, let alone an entire night for partying, so needless to say I was pretty excited.

It’s hard to find someone to watch my kids for even an hour, let alone an entire evening. I know what you’re thinking, You live at your parents…hello they would to help you out, right?…Well there are all types of grandparents. You got the Huxtable loving grandmother who cares, does anything for you, drop your kids off any time you need a break. I’m-a help you. Then you have the Everybody Loves Raymond Marie Barone grandmother who sometimes helps a little bit TOO much. Or you have the crazy Tyler Perry grandmama like Madea who’ll watch your kids, but knock the sass out them with a frying pan in a second. And then you have my mom who believes in “the chancla”. She’s old school and won’t hesitate to reincarnate into the Latin version of Madea…I try not ask for many favors as I feel my presence in her house is a big enough favor alone as I am in her “space.” Asking for her to watch them is usually a great challenge…like climbing Everest in the snow with one leg. So I keep the babysitting to a minimum. I have to build enough courage to withstand “the exhale” and “the look” and then the … “well I guess so.”

But once that force field is up I have to insure that everything is hassle free. So I needed to put my kids to sleep before we could leave. That way all my mom had to do was watch them as they slept…easy right? I thought so.

I figured if I planned it out with enough time I would be able to tire both my kids out for an early nap in the afternoon and then plan out for an early bed time. As it got closer to dinner time I began with the crazy anxiety and feeling like it wasn’t going happen. There was too much to do and I should have started earlier, like a 7 a.m. or something. But I pushed on …

At 6 p.m. I cleaned the house, did some laundry, played with my son, fed the baby, cooked dinner, washed the dishes, opened the computer for blogging, prepared the bottles for the evening, left detailed instructions for my mom, played with my son some more, closed the computer for no blogging, folded the laundry, then his dad finally shows up.

At 7 p.m. they take showers, while I try my best to keep the baby awake and reiterate the baby sitting instructions for mom, which she ignores of course because as she often tells me “…how do you think you were raised?” I often wonder that myself. She shrugs off my instructions and tells me not to worry about it. She knows what she’s doing. My husband and son get out of the shower, and help me fold the remaining laundry. Our son decides to help too, so we have to re-fold half the pile. Husband gets our son ready for bed. Our son needs his teddy.

At 7:30 p.m. I run downstairs to get it and run back up. The baby needs the bottle I run downstairs to get it and run back up. Our son needs water I run downstairs to get it, and as I am going back up the stairs I realize I also need to take the bottle warmer and baby cooler with milk bottles. I turn back to get them and as I walk over the dog and her bed in my Hanes cotton socks I don’t quite make it up the stairs as a normal person would.

Walking is not complicated. It’s really not.

One foot in front of the other…it should be the same process when I go up the stairs, however the laws of physics did not agree with my Hanes white-cotton socks. I slipped at the base of the wooden staircase and my hips landed smack down on the corner of the second step…bottles went flying everywhere. And I needed to take a minute … several actually as the pain radiated throughout my body and the ouwwwwwww came out.

Pine is not a soft wood at all. If I was a senior citizen the ambulance would have needed to make a trip to the house. This pain was beyond profanity. It was just ouuuwwwwwwwwwwwwww and clenched fists. People fall down stairs all the time. Constantly. However, my body decided to fall going up the stairs. UP! Not down. Up. It must be the Guatemalan blood.

At 7:45 I peeled myself off the stairs, collected the bottles and sippy cup and crawled up the wooden staircase and plopped on the bed massaging my hip.

“You shouldn’t have fallen down.”  my husband says.

“Yeah. I guess that wasn’t a good idea.”

At 7:50 I took a shower and rubbed my hip

At 7:55 I came out of the shower, continued rubbing my hip, and took some ibuprofen.

At 8:00 I got dressed and kissed my son good night and his dad put him to bed. The baby was wrapped up and sleeping already. I carefully made my way downstairs to use the blow dryer.

At 8:15 My son was still awake.

At 8:20 My mother returns from filling a prescription down the street that apparently needed to be done at that moment in time.

At 8:30 My husband comes down and assures me that our son is on his way to dreamland.

At 8:31 My husband tells me he’s left the keys to the car next to my son.

At 8:32 My son is still awake.

At 8:45 My husband assures me again that our son is off to dreamland.

At 8:50 We’re in the car ready to go, pulling out of the driveway.

At 8:55 We’re on the freeway. Only 55 minutes later. If I was saving the world like Tom Cruise, we’d all be dead by now. I thought, at least my kids are asleep and I don’t have to worry…

At 8:56 my aunt, who incidentally caused the mini tsunami that washed over my computer a couple of days ago, decides to slam the bathroom door.

At 8:57 My son is awake asking where we are.

Midnight…My son finally falls asleep.

At 1:00 a.m. We walk back in the door. I’m still massaging my hip. No time for blogging Saturday night. So for the second time this year I miss a day. First one due to a mini-tsunami that sidelined my computer. Second one bad hip and failing mission eight o’clock. Better luck next time.