Thursday, October 28, 2010


Santiago and His BOO!-Burger with Cheese
Busy, busy day today.  At pick-up, the kiddos reminded me that we still needed to carve two more pumpkins for their pumpkin carving competition at school tomorrow. Tomorrow. Of course. Last minute is always my favorite time of day.

On the way there, I find out from Saia that Santiago was in the office today. Twice.  But, no, not for behavior. (See how quickly you went there? Tsk, tsk, tsk.) But because he was feeling yucky.  No temp and two glasses of water later, and off he goes back to class.  But this evening, you could really just see something coming on.  He's got a major case of the creepy cruddies.  Totally not himself.

Saia & Her Shrunken Head
of Frankenstein
So, while I got them going with their pumpkins in the garage, I put a chicken on to boil (why does that always sound like voodoo when I say it? I mean, it was frozen, for pete's sake. It's not like I went and snapped the little head myself.) for some caldo de pollo, the tried-and-true cure-all for everyone south of San Antonio.

And then the milking began...

At his request, from beneath the covers and cool washcloth, his Mommy read him his new favorite comic, replete with superhero voices and sound effects.  He got his o.j. in his favorite pumpkin cup on the couch (totally not allowed) so he could watch the game.  I practically spoon-fed him his dinner myself, even letting him pick out his favorite parts (read: avocado slices), so long as he got some of the broth down, too.  And even offered to carry him up to bed as soon as it was time.

But...we STILL had to finish HIS pumpkin. Saia had already finished hers. Of course.  Had been working diligently on it since we got home.  Carved it and hand-painted it all herself.  Every little bit of it.  And she did a damn good job, too.  But now we were down to the wire. We had 15 minutes til bedtime.  And he had to do this himself.  Had to. If it wasn't done by his own hand, it would not be submitted for the competition -- WOULD NOT -- unlike some other nameless spawnofthedevil who submitted her pumpkin so obviously designed AND carved by her parents last year, and yet still won.

But not this time.  And not by our boy.  Because he knew he wasn't feeling well when we went to buy the thing. And he'd so obviously thought it through, and realized that what he needed was something fun that wasn't gonna require a whole lotta work.  So he chose a beautiful harvest pumpkin, carved some lines around the equator, and painted them in with brown, yellow, red, and green.  Boom! It's a Boo!-Burger with Cheese, he says.  Brilliant child.  Just freakin' brilliant.

If one of them doesn't come home with at least a ribbon for this, I might have to pull my little neon orange plastic pumpkin gutter on someone.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Saia - 2nd Grade - 7.5 yrs old
So hard to believe that these little monsters were bald, in diapers, and attached to my boobies like ravenous piglets just a few short years ago.

This time of year, school portrait time, is always just so painful for me.  It's never something you're prepared for as a parent.  I mean, you dressed them that morning. It's not like you weren't there. You were aware that they were dressing for pictures.  But then, a few weeks later, when you're cleaning out their backpacks and there's the now dreaded crinkly envelope buried beneath sweatshirts and math pages, empty fruit roll-up wrappers, and a random toy car and chapstick, and their suddenly oh-so-grown-up-looking faces are right there staring up at you, peeking out of the little plastic window, all teeth and hair, and it just takes your breath away because the second you open it, the moment you pull back the sticky flap, you can almost see the vapor of childhood escaping.

Chago - 2nd Grade - 7.5 yrs old
And it's like that moment when you see yourself on video and realize, wow, do I really talk like that? Do I really look that way? Act that way?  I always pictured myself so differently.  When did I get so old? When did I become my mother?

Or maybe that's just me.

But the point is that you're abruptly aware that they're not babies anymore, and it's just never something I'm ready for.  Or willing to admit.

In fact, somewhere in my head, they're 3 years old still.

And always will be.

And granted, that's gonna be a little weird when we have the sex talk, but I guess I'll just have to deal with that then.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Why is it that you can't seem to follow the very basic rule here?
Your Rule, part 1: Box.
Your Rule, part 2: Top.
And if you reverse it, it works even better.  TOP of the freakin' BOX!!!!

Just look at this brand new, poor, innocent, dissected little cereal box. Oh, the unnecessary carnage.  If only you'd put them up on top...where they belonged...where they thought they'd be. The superfluous flap could have been sacrificed to save the whole. One corner. Just one little corner. Up on top. Instead of this. This...destruction!

And for what? They're each only worth .10 cents.

But this box...had TWO!

And ten will make a dollar.

And a dollar's worth of Box Tops in a Ziploc snack bag with their name on it gets them entered into a random drawing for free food/game tickets at their school's Halloween Carnival this Friday.

So tonight, for them, tonight I sit before my pantry, boxes and boxes of granola bars and cereal, biscuits and croissants, strewn about me, my sharpest sewing scissors at the ready, as I, like you, do whatever we need to do to make our children happy.

Tonight.  I commit...cardboardicide.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Foolin' around at
the Halloween store
You would think this would get easier.  As they grow. As they develop their identities. As they're more easily able to identify and then vocalize their likes and dislikes.

I mean, you'd THINK!!!

They've changed their minds at least 42 times over the last 12 months.  And then another 5 times just on our way to the costume store alone.  And then at least once WHILE we were actually standing in the check-out line, for crissakes.

But I think, I THINK, he's finally settled on a vampire. And not just any old vampire costume would do either. He must've fiddled with and fingered every single one until he found exactly the one he wanted. Just the right vest, just the right collar medallion, just the right sleeves, and, the pièce de resistance, the all-important red-lined black cape.  Then he went and picked out these grotesque-looking fangs, his white-face make-up with accompanying fake-blood capsules, and is now anxiously looking forward to my slicking his hair back so that the coffin-shaped shades, that he snagged right there at the end as they were sliding my little wilted card through the machine, will frame his face perfectly.

And then, oh, my God, my darling girl, after uttering the make-my-ears-bleed phrase, "Um...I dunno..." for, like, the katrillionth time, during which every single strand on my head turned grey, finally settled upon a devil.  And, yeah, I'm pretty sure I laughed out loud at the irony, right there in the middle of that damn Spirit Superstore, cackling from the delirium, head thrown back from sheer exhaustion. No one even noticed.

Her accessories include a long black wig, red creme face make-up, red tinted sunglasses, a red headband with little horns, and a red sequined pitch fork.

But it doesn't end there.

Then begins the when-are-we-gonna-decorate, when-are-we-gonna-decorate, when-are-we-gonna-decorate, today-looks-like-a-good-day-to-decorate, don't-you-think-it's-time-we-started-decorating-mama? business.

So, because today was a teacher's in-service day, I got the monsters. All. Day. Long.  And from the moment they woke up this morning, it was ALL about decorating for Halloween. So, after my second (or maybe even third) chai, I thought I was finally awake enough to brave the 3 gigantic orange-and-black tubs looming in the garage.  But, as it turns out, they weren't even the scariest part of my morning.

Our beautiful little angel, our darling little Saita? Turns out she's a frickin' task master!!!  But we (and when I say we, I mean me, while the monsters rode their scooters up and down the sidewalk saying, "A little to the left, Mom. No, a little more to the right.") eventually got it all done, just before the rains came, and just in time to turn all the lights on and oooh and ahhhh a little before dinner.

But it ain't over yet, folks.

Tomorrow morning, of course, we've still got the insanity of the pumpkin patch on the weekend before Halloween in 62-degree weather with 70% chance of rain, the freakishly giant corn maze, and then, of course, they'll flee, leaving me with uber-detailed drawings and instructions on exactly how to carve out 12+ pumpkins while they spend the weekend with their Mommy playing G.I. Joe and building Lego cities.  Even when we lived together, the three of them somehow managed to get out of it every single year.  Oh, they make their official appearances.  Roll up their sleeves.  Fight over the best tools.  I get some great pictures. And then about two minutes after shoveling pumpkin guts, they all magically disappear.

And they all give me the whole you-are-just-the-best-pumpkin-carver-in-the-world-mama.  And, yeah, I guess I kinda do fall for it every single time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Chago's newest
toothless "door"
Picking the kids up from school the other day. They're gathering up their various documents, and graded homework, and snack bags, and water bottles...

"Chago," I call out, "don't forget your lunch bag."

"Um..." he begins.  "Er...I, uh, threw it away, Mom."

"What? Why'd you do that?"

"'Cause it was gross and I didn't wanna eat it," he says very matter-of-factly.

"But it was just a sandwich," I said. "Bread, meat, lettuce, tomato?"

"No, Mom, really," he says shaking his head furiously, "it was GROSS!"

"Did you even taste it?"


"Then how do you know?" I trump.

"Because it just LOOKED gross," he double-downs.

"Well," I counter, very clearly aware that I am now engaging in a game of intellectual table tennis from which I will likely not walk away unscathed, "I know, in fact, that it was not gross, and even had it tested for grossiosity. And that came back negative."

"But, Mom," he peels open the big black eyes. "It had MAYONNAISE!!!!" ***gasp***

"No, it didn't," I say with hands crossed and eyes closed. This, of course, being the universal sign for No Way, No How.

"Yes. Mom. It. Did."  Oh, no, he did not just over-punctuate me!!!

"Did not," I retort.

"Did, too."



"But it had stuff leaking down the side," he says in whiny desperation, thrusting his arms out towards me for that added emphasis.

"Melted cheese," I monotone.

"But it was WHITE!!!" he squeals.

"Provolone," I mutter.

"Oh," he says, and scans the sky desperately for some assistance.

"So, basically, Santiago Gaèl, you haven't eaten all day today?" I ask a non-question.

"Oh, no," he says cheerily, "I ate."

"What? What did you eat?" I ask, at this point really half hoping he just wouldn't tell me.

"Well," he says, now bouncing up and down with excitement, "we have this card with our picture and our name on it."

"Uh-huh...your school IDs?" I ask cautiously.

"Yes, and we use it to check out books from the library, usually," he continues.


"But you can also use it to take it with you to the cafeteria and get food.  Anything you want. They just scan it with this little machine and then they tell you that you need to pay something later."

"Excuse me???" I say just as the twitch behind my right eye begins to kick in.  "So...what, EXACTLY, did you buy with this card?"

"Milk," he says, clearly starting from the bottom.  "," he says a little less enthusiastically.  "And...a...cookie..." he whispers.

"Ah-ha," I say.  "And who is going to pay for that, do you think?"

"Well," he looks off to the left and right, which clearly indicates that he's both trying to recall something true AND cook up a lie simultaneously.  "They said you'd get something in the mail."


That's ridiculous! That would be like me buying a pair of shoes online that I like better even though I already have a similar and just as functional pair in my closet...oh, wait...that's probably not the argument I wanna start with.

Monday, October 18, 2010


So, we're there.

Two separate households.

Two separate vehicles.

The kids have a bedroom here. And now they have a bedroom there.

Beds and blankets and pillows and books and toys and movies here.

And there.

And this morning, as Mommy was buckling him into his booster in her truck to take them to school and was reminding him that he'd left something at home, he actually said it...

"Which home?"

And I just died.

And I know it's not the end of the world.  And I know how lucky we are, how lucky they are, that we're working so hard to make this okay for all of us. That some children don't even have one place to call home, and here our kids are blessed with two. And they feel comfortable at both, and loved all the time, and never ever lacking. For anything.

But it doesn't make it sting any less.

They've started decorating Mommy's place for Halloween. And this week, we'll start decorating here.

I don't suppose this is going to ever really feel right. But it's always going to feel wrong over the holidays.  And that's just the way it is.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"Look, Mama! We made a paper boat in class today!" she says excitedly at pick up.

"COOL!" he yells, snatching it out of her hands. "Can I have it?!?"

"NOOOOOO!" she screams. [insert typical sibling fisticuffs here]

"But Maaaammmmaaaa," he pleads, once the bleeding has stopped and they're both doubled over panting, "I want one, tooooo."


So, I assure him that I've made plenty of paper boats in my time. No problem at all. We'll make one as soon as we get home.

Two. Hours. Later.

Frickin' papers crumpled all over the living room floor scattered amongst the clumps of hair I'd pulled out of my own head in frustration.

"Aww..." she says, looking at me sadly, "if only there were instructions somewhere."


It's just a paper boat. I really didn't think I'd need instructions, for goodness sakes, but there ya go. You may now rest in peace and comfort knowing assuredly that you really don't ever have to recall anything ever for the rest of your lives, so long as you remember how to Google.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A great veggie burger is not an easy thing to find.  (Stop rolling your eyes.)  We've really tried, too.  We've flip-flopped between Morning Star and Boca Burgers, and then over to Gardenburgers, with and without black beans, soybeans, peppers, herbs and garlic, and all the way back again.  Several times.  A year.  For the last 5-6 years.

But now, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we may have actually settled on a real winner (well, at least for now). But it's a triple winner, even.  So,  here's the new monster-approved awesome burgerlicious combo:

  • Morning Star Turk'y Grillers (yes, the apostrophe means it's not really turkey, with an e)
  • Earth Grains Thin Buns (Thank you, Tia Sonia, for leaving these behind and forcing me to try them out rather than throw them out)
  • Fresh Baby Spinach (always always always instead of lettuce)
  • Shredded Mexican cheese ('cause it just melts so much better than slices)
The trick to a great tasting veggie burger is to cook them in a little EVOO on the griddle.  We add a little lemon pepper, garlic salt, and a dash of BBQ sauce to each side, and that's about it.

The kids absolutely inhaled them. (It doesn't hurt if you withhold their afternoon snack that day, too.)  And even asked for seconds.

Give it a shot and let me know how you liked 'em.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I never really got a chance to come out.

I was outed.

I was a cheerleader, at the top of my class, played volleyball and basketball, competed in U.I.L., was in the band, the National Honor Society, and dating a quarterback (or two).

I loved school. Loved my little one-blinking-light hometown. Loved my family, despite all our faults. Struggled with my weight. Hated my skin. Could never find a hairstyle that suited me. And couldn't wait to go off to college.

I loved my friends. And had a few different circles. Sometimes we were catty. But mostly we were inseparable, and we drank way too much really bad beer at parties on the weekends.

Just. Like. Everyone. Else.

And then she kissed me. Or maybe I kissed her. I don't even remember anymore. The next few years after that are partially blurred, mostly blocked out, with some bright and shining moments of joy and adventure.

I was 15 at the time. She was a freshman.

Someday I'll write the whole story. But for today, it's about the coming out. Which, looking back now, was actually a very long, drawn out, painfully slow process. But for the purposes of this post, was the moment we heard our names over the loud speakers at school, being called to principal's office.

He had in his hands a copy of a notebook, our notebook, a little spiral-bound notebook in which we'd copied lyrics of songs for one another. Our names were on it, in swirls and doodles, most likely with hearts and rainbows and clouds encircling them. We were young. We were in love. It was the sweetest, cheesiest thing you can imagine.

And that was it. That was all it was. We weren't destroying religions. Or recruiting children. Or tearing down heterosexual marriages with our bare gay hands.

We were kids ourselves. And suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

The notebook had been stolen from one of our lockers and xeroxed. The sheets had been passed around the school for everyone to see. And although I'm certain it never happened, in my mind they were falling from the rafters, like snowflakes, all over the student body as they passed through the hallways. And although I'm sure it never happened, I can hear them all laughing and pointing, in slow motion, as they spin around me and I dizzy from the mortification.

Our families were called. Of course. They had to be warned. But I couldn't tell you what that conversation with my parents was like once we got home. That, too, is blocked out.

The rest of my high school career is now buried beneath alcohol binges and lies, sneaking and hiding, suppressing and repressing. Every single moment demanding I take a stand. Are you one of us? Or are with her? And I failed so miserably, so many times, on all sides. Failed my parents, failed my brother, failed my aunts and grandmothers. Failed my friends, failed acquaintances, failed my boyfriends, failed my teachers and coaches. Failed my girlfriend.

But mostly, I failed myself.

There was no one in my town that I felt I could turn to. No one like me. No one to tell me that it would get better. Hell, as far as I knew, no one had ever been openly gay before. Not in my town. Not anywhere near my town. Not ever. But some time after I found myself sitting in the hallway of the home I grew up in with my father's rifle at my side, things began to change. For me, first and foremost. And then, eventually, for everyone else. But, no, of course it never should've gotten to that point. And looking back now, it's easy to see how many things I could've done differently.  But, then again, maybe not.

Because the point of this post is just this. It IS exactly like a band-aid. Because the wounds and scars and pain you cover up today just can not begin to heal until you pull it off. It needs to breathe fresh air. It needs to see the light of day. You're exactly who you were meant to be. You're the most perfect iteration of you. Ever. But until you allow yourself to be the best YOU that you can be, no one else around you gets the opportunity to prove that they can be the best they can be.

So, come on and say it. Out. Loud. You're stronger than you think you are.  You have more support than you could ever imagine. And it's time.

Happy National Coming Out Day!