Friday, September 30, 2005

Two Points for the Kids...
None for Mama

Point #1
Driving home from school the other day, Chago made his first request for more juice. "We're all out, baby. Please ask Saia if you can have a sip of hers." He does. She stretches across the console, he reaches to grab it, and just as I say, "Please be careful not to...", it drops onto the seat and begins its slow pulpy drip onto the fabric.

"Uh oh," says Saia. "Mama, please may I have my orange juice?" asks Chago again. "Well, son, I can't really get it right now while I'm driving." "If you stop the truck, you can reach it," Saia interjects. "Well, yes, that's true, but Mama's on the highway right now." "If you stop at that red light, you can get it for me," Chago suggests. "And when it turns green, you can go," Saia expounds. "Well, yes, I suppose that's also true, kiddos, but I wasn't planning on stopping right at this moment." "Why, Mama? I want my orange juice and there is a red light," he restates. Why, indeed. [I exit, stop, retrieve beverage, resume.]

Point #2
"MAMA!" he yells at 5:45 this morning. "Go back to sleep, Chago!" I yell back [probably not the best idea in retrospect] "Mama, it's 6-0-0?" Ugh. "No, son, not yet. Fifteen more minutes. [please]" I beg. Now (of course) Saia asks to get out of bed. "Not yet, Beauty. Not time yet." So, she stands up in bed, hollers that she's got to go poop, I stumble into the hallway, direct her out of her bed and towards the potty, and overhear Chago mumbling as he stares at the digital clock, "There is nothing funny about this."

Thursday, September 29, 2005


"Santiago, what are you doing in there?" WHIRRRRR!!!!
"Son, are you done going potty?" "No, Mama, not yet." WHIRRRRR!!!!
"Do you need a book to read?" "No, Mama." WHIRRRRR!!!!
"Bubba, whatever you're doing, you better not be making a mess." "I'm not, Mama." WHIRRRRRR!!!!

[cut to Mama finally coming in to the bathroom to see what was actually going on]

"Santiago Gael, why in the world did you do that to the toilet paper?"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Wolf & The 7 Kids

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Okay, so there's yet another big bad wolf, apparently, (although the kids are stuck in a perpetual debate as to whether or not this is a relative of the Little Red Riding Hood Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs Big Bad Wolf, or if in fact he is one in the same -- with some obvious personality disorder issues). Anyway, he sees a mother goat go off to the market (as all good mama goats tend to do) and leave her 7 kids at home alone (tsk, tsk) with strict instructions not to let anyone in but her. So the wolf tries to convince them he's their mother first by argument, then by disguising his voice, then by dipping his paw in flour so that it resembles the delicate hoof of a mother goat (uh, okay). Finally, he makes it into the cottage, gobbles all the kids up whole and goes off to the river to nap. [lovely, isn't it?]

When the mama goat gets home, one little fugitive kids climbs out of the grandfather clock, relays the horrible tale, and off they go to take a walk and mourn. When they see the wolf napping by the river, and the mama sees how large his belly is, she's certain he was so greedy that he must've just eaten them whole, and decides to...get this...cut him open with scissors, pull out each of her completely intact children, replace them with stones, and sew him back up.

When he wakes up, he's so thirsty all of a sudden and rubs his poor belly as he says, "Oh, I'm so full. I shouldn't have eaten all those kids." Then he bends over to take a sip of water from the river and falls over. The weight of the rocks sink him, and he's never seen again.

Alright, so this has become their absolute favorite nighttime story, and periodically throughout the day, particularly after they've had their morning milk or their evening dessert they'll lean back in their chairs, raise their shirts, and pat their bellies as they say "Ohhh, I shouldn't have eaten all those kids," which is really funny now, but is probably not going to go over real well at the supermarket this weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mema's Gone, But Not Forgotten

Well, after nearly two years with us, Mema has moved on to bigger and better things. Okay, bigger things anyway.

The kids, I think, don't really fully grasp that she's not coming back to stay. When she left on Sunday, although they knew she was flying to Texas, they treated it (and continue to treat it) as just another vacation. Which, I suppose, to some extent, it certainly is for her because lord knows these two are no cakewalk. But I'm wondering when it's going to hit home for them that she's really gone. They still talk about her like she's here. Whenever we plan to go anywhere, they make sure to ask if Mema's coming. They constantly say things like, "Mema says..." or "that's Mema's song" or "Mema's the bat [or whatever animal they're all pretending to be that day]." And, of course, I'm wondering if Mema is doing the same thing over there -- suddenly falling to all fours in the middle of a lunch date and howling like a wolf, or breaking into a rendition of "I know you" and twirling about in the aisles of the supermarket, or stopping to explain the lifecycle of a caterpillar on a romantic walk in the city to anyone who'll listen, or asking her company every 30 minutes if they have to go potty or just wee-wee.

But besides that, I really believe that on some level she'll always be here to them. Her influence and affect on them has not gone unnoticed. They're thriving intellectually, socially, and emotionally primarily because of her efforts. (Although discipline was always a problem for Grandma, but I suppose that's to be expected.) And I'm sure one day I'll find endearing even their annoying little habits of poking their tongue into their cheek and making that horrid little honking noise when they get a joke -- usually a bad one -- that they so obviously picked up from her as well.

But it's been no small blessing for all of us that she devoted so much time and effort to us these past two years. And her peanut-eating, leftover devouring, chain smoking, TLC watching, cellphone talking, pajama & flip-flop wearing, Barnes & Noble loving self will be sorely missed by every single one of us. Ryce and Nena most of all, I'm sure because, to tell you the truth, I honestly can't even remember if I've even fed them once since she left.

Thanks for EVERYTHING, Mom. We love and miss you dearly!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Under The Weather X 2

And definitely twice as much work. They've been getting sick since last Thursday, but I was certain they'd knock the cold like they always do. They've got amazing immune systems. But when it took down Mema, and then Mommy, and then me, I knew we were in for a doozy.

So, we weathered a couple of days of pretty scary temperatures, lots of coughing and sneezing, a ton of nasty body fluids, and even a moment or two of projectile vomiting. But it looks like we may have made it through. Although they had to skip school today for the first time, they seemed to enjoy the beck-and-call attention and the non-stop videos while lying on a palette in the living room all day long.

By this evening, Chago had already gone into timeout twice and lost his alligator to the "garbage". Saia was making herself cough so that she could get a teaspoonful of honey. And both were taking turns beating each other with the thermometer and the nasal saline solution. I'd say they're all better now.

Friday, September 23, 2005

No More Tears

Well, at least this morning, anyway, which is more than I can say for the last 4 grueling mornings, so as far as I'm concerned...this was PHENOMENAL!!!

We talked all the way to school about it being Friday and how Mama and Mommy were off tomorrow. We talked about what we were going to do at school today and what we were going to eat for lunch and snack. We talked about when Mama was coming to pick them up. We talked about whether they wanted Target with the Tweety Bird or Costco tomorrow. We talked about our goodbye routine (i.e., hang up jackets, 3 kisses, 3 hugs, one lipstick kiss on each of their hands), and then they walk me to the door, we all blow kisses goodbye, say "I Love You" in sign language, and then they say, "Mama, go to work now so you don't get in trouble."

And this morning, for whatever reason, it came off without a hitch. [hear Mama's colossal sigh of relief]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Please Take Cover

Please remember that Grandma Queta's house is always and completely available to any and all family and friends that need to flee the lower South and Southeast Texas areas -- particularly Corpus Christi and Galveston/Houston.

I realize that most of you will not be checking this blog this week, but if anyone can pass along this information to anyone who might be directly affected, we would all very much appreciate it. Please contact Annie or Gloria (or, of course, myself) to make arrangements.

And please don't understimate Mother Nature. History repeats itself for a reason. Heed her warnings and please take cover.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Success is a Relative Term

But for our purposes, we were indubitably triumphant yesterday. Not a single potty accident. Everyone ate most of their food. Everyone napped for almost two hours. No one came home with scratches or bruises. Everyone had all their fingers and toes intact. And no one cried when I picked them up.

Although drop-offs are still, in my mind, easily the last of Dante's nine concentric circles of hell, tomorrow is still another day.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Kathy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


On our commute in to school/work this morning, we were coming across the bridge and talking about what a cloudy day it was and how that affects the appearance of the water because the water reflects the sky like a mirror. But the kids were very distracted by the fact that the moon, which had "followed" us to school every day since Monday, wasn't following us today.

"Where is the moon, Mama?" Chago asks. "Well, baby, it's hiding behind the clouds this morning," I reply. "Where is the sun, Mama?" asks Saia. "It's also hiding behind the clouds, hon," I confirm. "With the moon?" wonders Chago aloud. "Yes, Bubba, that's exactly right," I say. "They're playing hiding seek?" he continues. "Well, yes, baby, I guess they are," I answer with a smile. "They are brother and sister," he asserts. "Well, yes, I suppose they could be," I realize. "Like Saia and Chago," affirms Saia. "Yes, Ma'm, that's right," I say. "The moon is the brother and the sun is the sister," says Chago. "No!" interjects Saia, "the sun is the brother and the moon is the sister." "NO!..."

[...argument continues for next 10 minutes or so becoming increasingly LOUDER and LOUDER and causing them to jab their spoons -- they were eating homemde applesauce -- across the aisle at each other like swords in an effort to get the other one to just concede -- which never EVER happens...]

"So," I butt in,"is there a mama?" "YES!" Chago yells, "It's the water!" "NO!" screams Saia, "it's the clouds!" "Oh, okay then, and what color are the water and the clouds today?" I ask with fingers crossed. "GRAY!" they both yell. "And why?" I ask. "Because of the reflection," says Chago.

And we're back.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Once Bitten...

Mediocre day for Chago. Terrible day for Saia. Crying, potty accidents. You name it. The only improvement today was that when I arrived to pick them up, they both smiled and yelled "Mama!" and ran into my arms.

I guess we have to start somewhere, right?

Monday, September 19, 2005


Well...all things considered, we'll call this one a (heartrending) success.

Prepared their breakfast to eat in the truck on the way. Warmed their milk for when they woke up. Packed extra clothes, blanket, and emergency stuffed animals for their cubbies at school.


Oh, come on, you know the routine by now. It's 6-O-O, what do you think happened?


Finished our milk, made our potty runs, started dressing.


After a second run to the potty, turns out we get to watch TWO videos and still try to get out of the house on time. Great.


Jackets and shoes on. Goodbye to Mema. Lollygagging down the stairs (ooh, look at the spider), down the sidewalk (Mama, can I touch the moon?), into the truck (Where's my dinosaur?). Four hours later...


Finally made it to school. Filmed a little of the kids talking about their first day in the parking lot. Snapped a couple of photos outside. Prayed I could get out of there in under 2 hours and not have to run to Walgreens for valium.

They were both uncharacteristically shy the second we stepped into the classroom, though. Luckily, Chago was too preoccupied with all the new things around him to be too upset when I said goodbye. But Saia, my little mini-me, our true blue drama queen, pulled out all the stops. Oh, yes, she did. Grabbing on to my pant leg, pleading with me to stay, begging me to just take her home, telling me she loved me, that she wanted one more kiss, just one more kiss, one more hug, now one more kiss. It was absolutely unbearable. I could barely bring myself to leave. I was there for 45 minutes trying to say goodbye when I finally just had to turn and walk away.

There is nothing -- NOTHING -- that makes you feel more like a terrible mother than making your child feel as though you've abandoned them. Sat in the parking lot and cried. I was crushed -- and virtually useless for the rest of the day.

Called to check in on them. Apparently, Chago had a minor meltdown right before snack, but was since doing fine. Saia had a minor accident in her pants, which had me so tied up in knots because it's so completely unlike her and just tells me that she hasn't yet made friends with her teacher.

Of course, I sneek over there to take a peek at them on the playground. So sad that I missed Saia by just a couple of minutes, but saw Chago interact well enough to placate me for at least the next hour or two. Spoke with the Director, who assured me that Saia stopped crying shortly after I left and had been fine since, but it was a small consolation. She was going to hate me forever. I was sure of it.

Had a lunch appointment. Didn't hear a word anyone said. What were they doing right now? Were they eating all their food? Would they tell them if they wanted something to drink? Would they get to see each other?

They should be napping now. No way to know. Well, of course, there was one way, but it took everything I had not to drive over there AGAIN. Found out later that it took them a while to go to sleep because Chago, who could now see his sister on her nap mat on the other side of the room, kept calling her name.

They should be up from nap now, and are most likely groggy and grumpy and remembering that their mother deserted them. Called to check and was informed that neither of them had cried again since this morning. Yes, but were they happy? Were they having fun? Did they have their snack? Were they making friends? Were they going to the potty by themselves? Did they think I was never coming back?

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Can't take much more of this!

Ran out of here at 10 til 5, prepared to beg for their forgiveness til the end of time. Arrived in time to find Chago playing quietly on the floor with the other children and their teacher. When he saw me, he yelled "MAMA!" and ran into my arms. I was a bawling mess. The very next thing out of his mouth was, "I want to surprise Saia." [awww]

When she saw me, only her eyes lit up and just for a second, but she never smiled. She gave me the 'you hurt my feelings' look and then started to cry as she ran into my arms sighing, "Mama, Mama, Mama." I was heartbroken. The very next thing out of her mouth was, "I want to go home." Me, too, baby. Me, too.

They talked about school all the way home, and replayed their day for both Mema and Mommy. We worked on preparing them for tomorrow, but really there's just no way to prepare for this. I'm dreading that first half hour more than anything in my entire life -- and I was pregnant for 10 months, labored all day, and gave birth to twins, for crissakes.

But this was just their first day, and soon they'll be begging me to stay -- I'm sure of it. Until then, I guess I should just keep my mascara in the truck and turn my keys over to my boss the second I arrive at work.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friend or Foe?

Isn't that always the question? Well, at one of our school visits this week, some little girl named Elena latched on to Saia. Literally. She grabbed her hand out on the playground and dragged her everywhere she went for the next 15 minutes. At first, Saia was obviously flattered. She looked at me over her shoulder as she was being hauled away and smiled as she said, "She's holding my hand, Mama." But after 5 minutes, I was already beginning to see her inherited impatience swell as she (still simulating a smile) gently tried to pry Elena's little fingers from her wrist. At the 10 minute mark, her more temperate efforts having failed her, she began firmly planting her feet every couple of steps, which sort of jerked Elena's arm and made her at least turn around and acknowledge that something wasn't quite right. "Come on, come on," she would insist. And Saia, whom I've never known to be so accommodating, would reluctantly but trustingly go along with her. But by the time 15 minutes of this had passed, she was looking over her shoulder at me pretty regularly with this confused, almost pained, look on her face, and of course I wanted nothing more than to just get up and physically remove this child from her presence, but I mouthed and gestured to her instead to gently push her arm away and say No more, Elena. Which she did, gladly, several times, until she was finally able to free herself for a brief moment and hightailed it back towards me.

I was noticeably relieved when Elena lined up to go inside with a class that was NOT Saia's. And tried to reassure myself that Saia was patient with Chago, too -- in the beginning. But he's got his own battle scars now to prove that she'll only take so much. She'll be fine. I'm sure she will. But this is only the beginning.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Dressing for their second school visit this morning, I've got Chago in a long-sleeve pullover and am sliding his arms through a short-sleeved button down, when he asks me why he's wearing two shirts? "Well, baby," I reply, "it's a little chilly today, so Mama's going to dress you in layers, okay?" And now his wheels begin churning.

"I go to school in layers?" he asks a little unsteadily.
"Yes, son."
"I sit down in layers?" [now he's just working me]
"Yes, son."
And then here it comes..."I lay down in layers?" he asks [grinning that sheep-eating grin].

And why this stuff still catches me so totally off guard is beyond me, but I could literally do no more than just sit there staring at him, amazed at his little brain and wondering how soon it would be before he began to really make me feel like I left school just a little too soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Are You Happy?

Took the kids to their school yesterday morning for a trial visit. Brought them back to my work to have lunch in our cafeteria. Chago was being a little ornery, as usual, as it was eeking close to nap time -- i.e., not eating all his food, playing with his fruit, dropping his napkin, etc. Then at one point he looks up and sees my face and asks, "Mama, are you happy?" "No, son," I replied, "Mama's not very happy that you're not eating all your lunch like a big boy." "If I take a bite, will you be happy?" "Yes, bubba, that would make Mama very happy." [he does - and grins] "Mama, are you happy now?" "Yes, son," I smile back, "I'm happy now." "Mama?" "What is it, Chago?" "If I drop my fork on the floor will you be sad?" He asks as he dangles his fork off the table. "Yes, Santiago, I will be very sad." "But then if I take a bite of food, you will be happy again?" "Well, yes, son, I will, but..." So, he drops his fork on the floor, takes a big bite of his pizza, and smiles from ear to ear.

Feeling a little schizophrenic at this point, I pack everything up to go, send them home, and head back to my office.

Chago - 1, Mama - 0

Happy Birthday, Tia Veronica!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Big Buddy Program

Helping the Children after the Hurricane

You've probably already read or at least heard about the 6 children (all under the age of 4) wandering around New Orleans latched onto their 6-year-old leader. I was so unbelievably touched by the story and by the unflagging efforts of a grassroots organization out of Baton Rouge called "The Big Buddy Program" that worked so tirelessly to reunite these children with their family members that I wanted to pass some information on to you.

Unlike the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, already inundated and no longer accepting in-kind donations (only monetary at this point), the Big Buddy Program, which deals directly with so many of these displaced children, literally on a one-on-one basis, is in need of exactly that. And if you're anything like me, you don't just want to write a check to some random umbrella organization in the vain hopes that your hard-earned dollars will make it into the hands of the people who need it most (although I really do have faith most days that it does). But I wanted to feel -- truly needed to feel -- as though MY specific donation, MY individual assistance was actually going to help someone TOMORROW. And I honestly do believe this is the group that can do that.

So, if you're at all able (and willing, of course), please donate goods, particularly children's clothes, toys, toiletries, and even pet supplies to:
Bethany King
Big Buddy Program
1415 Main Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
I'd like to thank for posting this information on her site and providing me with some small sense of relief and utility once I finally stumbled upon it.

Please also recall that you can still be a vital part of the relief effort by providing housing assistance to those in need at

I Think I'm Going To Pop

Mama made her famous apple pie (1 regular, two mini's) on Sunday night, and the kids were foaming at the mouth by the time snack time came around yesterday afternoon. Saia loves the filling; Chago's more partial to the crust. But that stopped neither of them from polishing off every last little bit. And right about that time, Chago leans back in his chair, pats his belly, and yells at the top of his lungs, "I think I'm going to pop!"

[Yes, we're now all just waiting for him to learn how to unbutton his pants and belt out a nauseatingly thunderous burp!]

Monday, September 12, 2005

What Is It About Rides?

It's not even Six Flags, for crissakes, or Astroworld, or Seaworld, or anything like that. It's 4 little coin-operated machines huddled together outside of Target, like an army of vultures waiting to swoop in on the next unsuspecting family who happens to make the mistake of leaving their home without enough quarters.

So now, whenever we ask them where they want to go on the weekends, there's a new choice to consider: there's either "Tarjay - regular" or "Tarjay with Tweety Bird" [obviously not much of choice].

Friday, September 09, 2005

On My Belly

She cooks, she cleans, she sweeps and mops. She "folds" clothes, she dusts, she even does dishes. She picks up her own toys (and very often her brother's), and she feeds the dogs dinner and treats. She takes care of her business in the bathroom and even flushes and washes her hands. She knows all her colors and all her alphabet and her numbers from 1-19 in English and 1-10 in Spanish. But we just can't seem to get this stubborn little girl to cover herself up with her own blanket when she flips from back to tummy in the middle of the night.


Happy Birthday, Aunt Kat!
Happy Anniversary, Tio Donny & Tia Ruby!!!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Birth of a Negotiator

[So, this is where I begin the long drawn out process of apologizing to my mother for everything I ever said or did as a child.]

The kids had very, shall we say, "successful" trips to the potty this morning, so, as a reward, you know by now that they get 15 minutes (only) of a children's video of their choosing. This morning they picked "The Jungle Book". They typically start it from the beginning, unless they'd just watched it the day or two before, in which case they'll just pick up where they left off. When the timer went off 15 minutes into the movie, though, I could hear them both start their negotiations with their Mema:

"No, Mema," begs Saia, "just until...until...until the scene ends." [that's one of their new words this week and they try to use it every chance they get]

"No, Saia," interjects Chago,"not when the scene ends." And he turns to Mema and very carefully explains that they will be watching it "ONLY" until Baloo takes Mowgli back to the man-village. That's all. At which point they would be more than happy to turn it off, is the intimation.

FYI - that happens to be the very last scene of the movie.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The California Condor

Around 3:00pm yesterday afternoon, I received a frantic voicemail from Mema asking me to confirm for Chago that his California Condor was indeed in the truck and would be on its way home shortly. Stuck in meetings for the remainder of the afternoon, I quickly snapped a shot of said fowl perched upon the passenger seat of our truck with my handy-dandy Verizon camera phone. Later that night, dressing a much calmer and contented Chago for bed, Mema pointed out that he had literally asked to see and hold that condor picture a good 20 times before I finally made it home with the darn stowaway.

How much do you think Verizon would pay us for this idea?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Pancake Store

Took the kids to IHOP for the first time this weekend. Man, can they eat! Saia ate all her scrambled eggs and two pancakes. Chago ate all 5 of his pancakes and then ate 2 of Saia's (bartered his eggs). Then they each had bites of Mommy's omelet and Mama's Eggs Benedict, full glasses of milk and juice, and then they were actually asking for dessert! They're monsters!!

But it was amazing to watch them put their napkins in their laps, use their little forks and knives (okay, intermittently), sit straight up in their booster seats like little adults, and drink out of their very own glasses (okay, with lids and straws). But they're just such big kids now, asking to go to the restroom and putting in their two cents (and then some) into our every conversation. Occupying themselves in their carseats with pretend play and books. I'm just so excited to see how they're going to flourish in school. First day of Pre-Preschool is Sept. 19th.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mama, turn it back on!

Our little town recently renovated one of the kids' favorite parks with some really fantastic play structures and sand & water areas. One of the (and in their opinion the preeminent) enhancements was the addition of a fountain area. There's still been no schedule posted listing the times the fountain is set to turn on, so it's always still a little bit of a surprise when seemingly out of nowhere there are suddenly random sprays and showers and at least 50 screaming children peeling off their clothes and shoes and tearing towards the water.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sometimes a Jalapeno
Is Just a Jalapeno

I can hardly believe we're already visiting pre-preschools for these two. But there we were, bright and early this morning, touring a local facility. Saia appeared to take it all in stride, which we expected. She's pretty resilient, hardly affected by anything. Chago, on the other hand, does not cope very well with change. Transitions always take a lot of time and explanation, and he's not easily swayed. Today, he fussed quite a bit at the school, but mostly because he wanted to play with the dinosaurs. He really had no interest in the other children, the teachers, the cute little kidsize potties or even the playground. Nothing. And although it was obvious he was trying to latch on to something he was familiar with, I do still know this child and recognize his "moves" from a mile away. "Pick me up, Mama." "May I please touch the dinosaur, Mama?" "I won't hold it, just touch it, okay, Mama?" "May I take it home please, Mama?"

Anyway, after a fairly satisfactory visit, we were on our way back to the truck, which was parked just across the street from a restaurant, when Mommy notices a mess on the sidewalk and says, "Oh, watch out, don't step on the jalapenos." We all immediately looked at each other -- grinning -- just waiting. But when Chago looked around and didn't see any obvious penises strewn about, he just kept on walking.