The Here and Now and How I Got Here

I got really sick of blogging. I missed the feeling of community. I was feeling very “get off my lawn” and felt like I had to keep up with The Joneses to stay in the blogging community. I’m really terrible at keeping up with Joneses. So I’ve (accidentally) waited until NO ONE visits here until it feels ready to come back to it.

So here I am.

I make no proclamations. I don’t care about stats and page views and whatever the you kids are doing these days. I just feel like being here with my family and, yeah…what I’m up to PERSONALLY. Like old times.

* * * * *
I quit my job a month ago.

About two months ago to the day, I gave my one month notice to a company I had worked for nearly 19 years. And on August 5th, I closed up shop, packed up my last box, and actually mic dropped my way out the door.
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I felt like I had earned a mic drop.

And a margarita.

The “infamous” margarita picture that y’all thought was cleavage. Even though WE ALL KNOW I DON’T HAVE ANY.

 

I haven’t been super “HERE I AM” about my plans for what I’m doing now. And one of the biggest reasons I’ve been a little quiet is because my reasons had everything to do with my kids.

Especially Ramona.


(Yes. I’m still going to call her Ramona even though all 4 of you know her real name.)


My Ramona started high school the week after my last day of work. And not only do we know how fast time flies, but I also knew that she needed my time and my support in ways that I couldn’t give while working in the corporate world. The Dude and I knew that she needed me home each day after school.


So I jumped ship. With an incredible amount of faith. And an incredibly family with incredible love and support.

* * * * *

I’ve lived a lot of my adult making decisions based on fear. I joke around that I was young and dumb when we became parents and got married. In that order. But the truth of the matter is that we were soooooooooo young and still working on all the smarts that we had to grow up and grow into. We had a lot of life to leave and a lot of learning to do at each stage of life that we hadn’t even experienced yet. But decisions had to be made. And being terrified of knowing the right decision. Or fear of what was coming next. Yeah…that led to some dumb decisions. Or decisions that REALLY could’ve been better.

I’ve been…unsettled in my job for some time now. Looking back, it had nothing to do with the actual JOB of things and had everything to do with God getting me ready for what was coming up next. Even if I had no idea that He was.

* * * * *

One of my (former) co-workers asked me if I would do it all over again. Staying so long in one place. The decisions that I made. And without hesitation, I said yes. Even if the perfectionist in me would REALLY like a couple of do-overs, the realist knows that the person I am today is directly because of everything I’ve gone through and every strange or “wrong” decision. And I am really damn proud of all of it. I’m really damn proud of us and me and my family. All of it.

So here I am. A month later. Working on some things that make me really excited. And, yeah…really proud. It was time.

The Luckiest

It’s easy to celebrate this guy. 

It’s no secret, we were young and dumb when we got married. I have no idea how the two of us made it to the couple we are today. Of course hard work and perseverance and, yeah…stubbornness. But we are so lucky. 

Even after all these years, I’m amazed by how much he loves and works so hard for our family. He’s my partner in crime…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Happy Father’s Day, babe. 

  

Good ‘ol Easter

We had a really nice Easter weekend. We spent some time up at my Gram’s house on Saturday with some of my favorite people. And then spent all day today with some more of my favorite people. Yummy food stuffs and way too much candy. Reminiscing and laughter and fun stories. 

(I mostly have pictures from today. Don’t hate me.)





It’s also worth noting that we played a tiny game of war with a tiny deck of cards. Shuffling those bad boys was ridiculous. 



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For the past few years, Beezus has instigated a tradition on her favorite holiday: a picture with me. 



I didn’t realize how much these mean to me until today. 

Ramona hasn’t particularly loved having her picture taken over the years but I’m hoping we can start a similar tradition because I absolutely love these pictures with Beezus and I want to have a similar collection with Ramona. As these years SPEED BY, it’s amazing to look back. 

This week marks one of those “last times we’ll do this” kind of event and I realized today that I’m a little anxious about all of it. Less than two months until graduation. 

Once again, I apologize for how obnoxious I will surely be. I promise to make it up to you. Somehow. 

Puffy Hearts and Damn Funny Stories

Most people expected flowers, chocolate or a fancy dinner on Valentine’s Day. I was expecting my entire family over to have tacos for dinner.

As one does.

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Pictures or it never happened. Even if the pictures are blurry.

 

With the five of us kids, our spouses, nine grandchildren, my parents and (often) my grandmother, a typical family dinner looks like we’re having a frat party with kids and no beer. It is wall to wall chaos in the best possible of ways. We are loud and obnoxious so that we’re heard over the steady noise of laughing and kids playing. More often than not, we speak in movie quotes so it can often be difficult to follow one of our conversations if you’re not well-versed in a Goonies, Princess Bride, Anchorman, Drop Dead Fred and most Disney movies that have ever been created kind of language. It’s like we created our own version of pig-Latin. With A LOT more sarcasm and obscure So I Married an Axe Murderer references.

Unfortunately, due to a virus that knocked them down, my parents weren’t able to be at our house on Saturday night. We missed them dearly and promised that we wouldn’t have any fun or belly-laughs without them. We’re terrible liars and they saw through the bullshit, but at least we made an attempt. We tried to be as boring and unfunny as possible. But we just so happen to be REALLY bad at boring and unfunny when we’re all together. I mean, according to our own selves.

As it usually happens, we got to the point where we can’t breathe due to the laughing as we end up telling stories about when we were kids and incredibly dumb. Since there’s a bit of an age gap between my sisters and I and our younger brothers, we inevitably tell a story that they’ve never hear or don’t know very much about. And, of course, at some point, there is a story told that I have no recollection of because I can’t seem to fit ALL the memories in my head. (Even if the story involves me saving my sister’s life. Nothing. NO memory of such things.) The broken handlebar/bike crashing/friend riding over my sister story was, hands down (bike down?) the favorite of the night.

That doesn’t sound funny at all when I write it that way. Just trust me. It is.

At some point in the night, a discussion came up about swearing in front of your children. I have a black belt in swearing in front of my children, but I do try not to swear in front of my nieces and nephews. SOMETIMES. But since we were talking about swearing in front of our OWN kids, my daughter, of course, says something about how I used to be better about it.

I said, “Yeah. Apparently I used to care a lot more. NOW? F*ck it.

What are, WORDS THAT I’VE NEVER SAID IN FRONT OF MY GRANDMOTHER, ALEX.

In fact, it’s not a word I (generally) use in front of my family. No really, I’m being honest. And while I was peripherally aware that my grandmother was right there, I don’t think all of my brain had really thought that sentence through.

My husband swears he’s never seen my grandma laugh so hard.

But this might be the last time we’re all allowed to gather without parental supervision. Some of us can’t be trusted.

 

Oh darlin don’t you ever grow up…

If you make a promise to yourself to post every weekday in the month of January, it would be SUPER helpful if you actually hit publish or schedule posts correctly. So it’s Saturday. And all I wanted to do is post a cute picture of my niece. Because she’s cute. And we celebrated her birthday and it made me feel weird because how could four years have already passed??

We talked last night about the day she was born. While my sister labored, we filled the hospital white board with possible names. My vote was for Beyonce. Cheetah Talulah was another favorite.

The nurses were so confused.

Anyway, maybe I’m glad I screwed everything up. Because this picture is cuter than the one I took last night.

Happy Birthday, Cheetah Talulah.

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Wish you were here

We’ve had family visiting for the past week or so. My brain just got used to switching back and forth between Spanish and English and it’s already time for them to go home. Figures.

It’s even harder to say goodbye when you have no idea when you’ll get to see them again. Each of our families living in two different countries makes it difficult to plan trips more often.

We love having them here. I love having pictures of these cute faces. We miss them so much already.

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If you want to be happy in a million ways

I had a pretty wicked tooth-pulling experience the Monday before Christmas. Someday I will tell you that story. (Spoiler Alert: Today is not that day.) I’m only bringing it up right now because it unexpectedly became a part of our holidays. I didn’t feel up to all the plans I had made, but I rallied as best as I could. (I think I did alright.) But, as I mentioned on Instagram, I’m so grateful for a husband and kids who share in the holiday preparations and household stuffs and trying to help me feel better.

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Even with a change in plans to our normal traditions, we had a lovely time with family. Having my entire family under one roof for Christmas morning, something that hasn’t happened in YEARS, was pretty amazing. (Also hilarious and fun.)

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Christmas Chaos at my parents' house
Christmas Chaos at my parents’ house

I was also floored by the thoughtful gifts from my children and husband. Not that they aren’t thoughtful people, mind you. We just don’t exchange presents very often (except for what we get the kids, of course) but this year, I got a little spoiled.

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Do my kids know me or WHAT

 

Not that I need to be spoiled…but it is fun every once in awhile.

* * *

This weekend it was time to put everything away…I’m gonna miss our big-ass Christmas tree.

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15 feet of big-ass Christmas tree

 

Even though it’s WAY past time for all of this, I hope your holiday season was magical and wonderful and I can’t wait for next year.

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Well, I mean…I can. Because I want time to move slow this year. But you know what I mean.

Nevermind. I’ll stop.

I’ve been writing this post for four days…and 17 years

I don’t think I was expecting to celebrate the morning of my 17th wedding anniversary finalizing (and scrutinizing) my kid’s Stanford early action application. We had gone over it several times. But somehow, the thought of hitting the ‘submit’ button made all of us want to triple and quadruple check everything. Every essay, every question. Was everything the way it needed to be?

You can drive yourself crazy wondering if you did everything right. I mean, the Stanford version of right.

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But then…it’s done. It’s sent. We are so freaking proud of that kid. And no matter what, we know that she will end up EXACTLY where she is meant to be. Stanford or not.
***

I find it completely strange and wonderful and extremely fitting that the very first college application was filed on our anniversary. It wasn’t burdensome. It felt completely normal…like, this is what we do! A few hours later, after the kids shuffled off to their various locations, The Dude and I sat down at the bar waiting for our table. As we watched the bartender make our drinks, and we were finally settling down from the day’s events we kinda looked at each other and I said,

“Our kid just applied to…Stanford. How the hell did THAT happen???!”

We both shook our heads and my husband ordered us both scallop shooters. Of course.

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***

Before college applications, before the sun was even up, I got up and got dressed in my running clothes. My husband was still sound asleep when I whispered that I was leaving. He grabbed my hand to pull me back for a hug, whispered “Happy Anniversary” and promptly fell back asleep. After all this time, me leaving when it’s still dark out, even on our anniversary, to go on a run with Sarah is completely normal.

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That’s one of my favorite things about us. Our life is insane and full of chaos…but some of the most “normal” things make everything else fit right in. Like there’s room for everyone and everything has a place. Even if that place is tucked into a cupboard or on the very tip-top of a shelf, we’ll find a place for it all. All the chaos. All the people we love. Even all the things we need to do. We’ll get to it. We always seem to.

Photo by the oldest child in Huntington Beach
Photo by the oldest child in Huntington Beach

Going with the flow without getting swept up in the current is a big part of who are and how we live. But (really) hard work and epic stubbornness is how we’ve been able to float along together for 17 years.

The Mama and the Girls Photo by Sarah Maren Photography
The Mama and the Girls
Photo by Sarah Maren Photography

We had to fight like hell to make it. Not very much has been easy – especially in the beginning. (Hell, the first 10-12 years.) But being able to roll with the punches, and giving a lot of ‘em right back, is how we’ve survived. We’ve never given up.

The Dad and the Girls Photo by Sarah Maren Photography
The Dad and the Girls
Photo by Sarah Maren Photography

Maybe it’s because we just celebrated our 17th anniversary, maybe it’s because we’ve reached this parenting milestone where one of our kids is applying to colleges, but when I get to focus on just how far we’ve all come…WHOA, you guys. I’m proud of it.

Us...photo by Sarah Maren Photography
Us…photo by Sarah Maren Photography

 

I’m just so damn proud of it all.

Photo by: Sarah Maren Photography
Photo by: Sarah Maren Photography

 

Happy Camping

We recently found ourselves with a few free weekends in a row. This isn’t something we are used to, so we were a bit out of practice as we tried to decide how we would fill this (now) empty space on our calendars. There were family events that we actually said yes to. The girls made plans with their friends. We spent a Sunday afternoon in the pool. These are things that actually happened but I feel like a complete liar saying that they did because I’m just not used to it being this way. I kept waiting for someone to yell at me for not being where I was supposed to be.

As our family sat down to discuss our recent scheduling changes, it became painfully obvious that our family needed some down time. We weren’t staring at an open week-long vacation, but being able to see some free time in weekend form made us all a little excited. Then the kids got this look on their face and said “we can actually go camping!” and then I felt pretty bad that it had been so long. In fact, we did the math this weekend and realized that it had been four years since our family had been camping. Four. Years.

That one stung, you guys.

Thanks to my dad being a super duper camper-man, we were able to make an overnight camping trip happen this past weekend. He knows where to go. He has all the gear. He’s just really…GOOD at it and made things really easy for those of us who haven’t been camping in some time. Like, really easy. I should be embarrassed. (I’m not, though.)

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After we got up there on Friday evening and everything was set up, I sat down on a chair around the empty fire pit (too dry for campfires) while my dad and The Dude talked near me. I was part of the conversation at times, but mostly I just sat and listened. Sometimes I tuned them out and just looked at the sky as it got darker and the stars began to appear. The moon was so bright, there were actual moon shadows around us and no need for flashlights or lanterns. It was beautiful and wonderful. It was also weird and sometimes hard to sit there and do nothing. I am out of practice.

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I used to be really good at camping. I would go hiking with the family or youth group. Camping family reunions. As I sat there around the non-existent campfire, I replayed many of these camping and hiking trips in my mind. Almost all of them involved my dad. Most of my camping memories, my dad is right there making things happen. Just as he did this weekend. His granddaughters (and daughter) wanted to go camping so he made it happen. Some things never change.

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I didn’t realize how much I missed camping. This weekend reminded me that it’s still very much a part of who I am and what I love. I almost gave myself a guilt trip for not doing this more often, but I quickly put a stop to that so I could enjoy my cute family without interruption. I loved being out in nature, even with wicked mosquitos and questionable bathroom options. I loved sitting around an empty fire pit with some of the people I love the most. But I especially love remembering, and getting back to, a side of me I haven’t seen in quite some time.

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Dog Days of Summer?

This one has had a rough week.

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It started with a tick found when she was getting groomed. For a dog that spends more than 95% of her life indoors, finding a tick isn’t what I was expecting. I tried not to freak out or worry. But, be serious, you know me. That’s what I do! Monday morning found us visiting the vet to be sure that everything was ok. They ran a couple of test to check for heartworm and tick-born illnesses. All the results came back fine, and since we were there anyway, they went ahead and gave her the vaccines that were due. Oh, and the antibiotics for an ear infection. And this month’s dose of flea & tick prevention.

It was a lot.

The vet said she would be a little lethargic with all of that, so we didn’t think anything of it as we got her settled and we left for my sister’s house for dinner. But when we came back, she was a wreck. Red eyes. Red and swollen muzzle. I think she was so itchy, having some sort of reaction, she started messing with her tail, her ears and her feet. We cleaned her up, got some water in her and kept an eye on her for several hours before going to bed. She even seemed better the next morning. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that she threw up and started acting really weird. Back to the vet office we went. But thankfully, while she was having a reaction to the combination of meds, she wasn’t anaphylactic at all. It was running it’s course and they could pump her full of fluids and send her home with us. And we all noted that our little, delicate flower of a dog can’t have all the things all at once every again.

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It sounds all very dramatic, but I can’t have anything happen to this dog. I know, I know. (Gawd, we are so annoying, I KNOW!!!) I always say it’s ridiculous how much we love this dog but is it? (Yes, it probably is, shut up.) Is it so strange that this dog means so much to us? (Don’t answer that.) That we love her so much? People who aren’t even “dog-people” love Paisley. People who hate pets in general love Paisley.

I MEAN LOOK AT THIS FACE.

a reminder of her royal (stinky) cuteness

Ridiculous!

My kids wanted to make plans today and I told them no. Because I’m mean and I told them they had to stay home and watch Paisley. They didn’t even argue. It was like, you’re right mom! Paisley! Because remember? We’re completely ridiculous about this dog. You have my full permission to make fun of us all.