Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy National Cake Day!

The kids and I will celebrate this afternoon by baking one of our own, but until then, we thought we'd share the following infographic with you!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Escape the Hips: Through

At some point, I keep telling myself, I won't be so fragile.

Fragile of mind. Fragile of endurance. Fragile of body.

I tell myself that, but on days like this, when I'm frustrated and crying most of the way home from another soul-killing training session, I don't believe it.

On days like this, I think I'll always be a train wreck on the mat--the one who makes the wrong decision under duress, who pushes her hips the wrong way when drilling a triangle, who doesn't absorb the concept at all, the one who gases before the match begins.

I suppose this is where jiu jitsu teaches you lessons about life and adversity and powering through, but for some reason, I'm just not hearing it lately.

All I hear are those awful things I say to myself when I'm working or when I'm done working. Horrible, awful things you'd never say to another human being, but what flows freely through your mind as you mentally go over the day's mat work.

P gets frustrated with me and tells me that when its the jiu jitsu that stresses me out, I'm doing it wrong. And being the annoying, girly and emotional creature that I am, it makes me even more defeated. I can't even get that part right....such a nasty little web of mental defeat we weave.

I wonder how long this road back is going to be so exhausting. I wonder when the love of learning returns. When the love of rolling, winning and losing both, returns? Days like this, it feels like it won't happen in my lifetime.

Today as I sat crushed to the mat with no way out, I asked myself what I was doing there. In the past, I could fire off an answer immediately. I would tell myself that I'm there to learn. To work. To grow. Today? I couldn't come up with anything. My body hurt. My mind hurt. All I could think was how maybe trying to return to the art was just one, big mistake. And that just hurt my soul something awful.

I can't be the only person who's ever felt lost in jiu jitsu, can I? I like to think that black belts were once people, too. People who felt like nothing worked and they just didn't have what it took to get where they wanted to go? Black belts were once self-doubting mortals who just kept showing up?

That helps when I think about that. Were there times in my jiu jitsu heroes'  past that they just didn't know what they were doing? Maybe Renzo had a bad stretch as a blue belt where he couldn't get out of his own way? (I doubt it, because in my world, Renzo doesn't battle...he just allows you to lose! Ha! Couldn't help slip a little Chuck Norris joke in's one of those days. :) )

Long story short? This road back is awful. Harder than any road back has ever been for me. My time lost on the mat took more than I thought it did....I assumed it was just a physical rebuilding that was necessary, but more and more I am realizing it's a mental rebuild I need to make it back to the Houston Open in February.

I'm not going to be able to bound back to my former self...knowledge or body...and I suppose the quicker I get my mind wrapped around that, the quicker the real work can begin.

Here's to the long road and maybe a few less days being the club manteiga derretida. Yay!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Blessings Aplenty

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.

William Shakespeare

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A man named Larry and Hebrews 13:2

I don't think I've met a passage of Hebrews that I didn't like. Funny, right?

This morning I had to be up at the hiney crack of dawn, drag two half-sleeping boys from their beds and drive nearly an hour and a half to the airport to put one brother on a plane and help another brother understand his tears and why he had to say goodbye right before a big holiday.

Modern life is complicated, Boo...that's about all I can tell your sweet self sometimes.

Because Boy Wonder was flying unaccompanied, Boo and I had to go through security all the way to the gate. And wait. Good lordy, did we wait.

 See, last time I tried to pick this child up from this same airport (Hobby, also known as the Airport that Time Forgot), I got stuck in a security line to Philadelphia and it was a MESS. So we were very, very early this morning on what is supposed to be the busiest travel day of the damn year.

We lucked out and got to Gate 48 with nearly two hours to spare. And unlike United who likes to board you the day before and make you sit for 17 hours in their tin can of death, Southwest is waaaay more relaxed and tend to shove everyone in about 10 minutes before takeoff. I love them.

In our 120 minutes of kill time, Boo alternated between downing a bag of skittles (my bad) and pressing his nose to the glass to watch planes coming and going. Boy Wonder tuned out the world and played Super Mario Brothers.

So there was me. And then there was Larry.

He asked me about my UTEP sweatshirt. His wife is earning her master's in special ed there, he said. He missed his wife these past two weeks. He'd spent them at MD Anderson Cancer Center for his one-year checkup since having his bone marrow transplant a year ago.

He got up and moved to the seat directly next to me and I am ashamed to say that, at first, I bristled.

I'm not big into random conversations when I'm not into random conversations.

Somedays you'd think I was running for Mayor of Katy. Other days, I'm pretty stuck in my own world and choose not to let others in. Days that I put my baby on a plane to spend the holidays elsewhere? I definitely stick to myself and wallow in the mud a bit.

He was 50 (he told me that eventually) and had a bunch of Harley Davidson clown/jester tattoos because he owned two bikes back in El Paso that he and his wife would ride before he got sick in 2010 and doctors gave him four months, tops, to live. He had gone through every imaginable treatment to slow down the lymphoma that was attacking his brain and nothing but radiation worked. But radiation was also killing him and his maverick doc in El Paso had already given him the highest dose legal for a human being and wasn't ethically allowed to give him one dose more. They referred him to two centers in Houston. One wouldn't treat him because they didn't understand his form of lymphoma (not to mention he was out of insurance by this point) and the other was MD Anderson and they flew him out immediately and agreed to treat him on a trial basis for free.

Larry went on and on for the next hour, despite my best attempts to read the newly purchased, 75th anniversary edition of the Hobbit I'd nabbed right next to the Doritos as the airport snack shop. I didn't talk much, a rarity, because Larry had so much to say.

Turns out, the Hobbit could wait. Larry needed to talk and he needed to talk to my kids. He had four of his own and as it turns out, he just wanted to see his 6 year old grow up enough that she had a clear memory of him. He's given six months to live at a time and just received his latest half-year expiration date. He took it in stride, he said, because he hadn't lost yet.

He had to get on the plane when Boy Wonder did because he needed help. His bones were sore from the round of tests the doctors did. He rode in a wheelchair next to my son as they walked down the long, flimsy hallway to the plane and at one point, I saw Boy Wonder lightly pat Larry on the back the way an old friend would and I realized that maybe God doesn't always put people in our lives when we need them...maybe he puts us in others' paths when they need us, too. And that's pretty amazing.

God bless, Larry. Keep fighting the good fight, friend.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Escape the Hips: Spider Guard (What a wicked web...)

I struggle with bigger, stronger opponents. Not just my muy frustrating black belt husband, but most any person on the mat who is larger and aggressive, and well, my guard is easily passed and I'm chillin' from bottom cross side (the place I affectionately call "my 'hood").

I spent a little time watching GB Prof. Ana Laura Cordeiro's highlight reel (found here) yesterday and beside the wicked Kanye West soundtrack, you see a wicked spider guard (and you really get a sense of it when you watch her finals match against Alliance's Gabi Garcia. Watch that awesome match here, if you're so inclined. Seriously. Read this, then go watch that.)

The point of that little mental side trip was to get to the point that when I was rolling with P today and doing everything wrong and getting frustrated, I thought back to Prof. Ana Laura's spider guard and found myself mimicking it to the best of my ability. And I really liked how it slowed down the bigger player's roll just a little bit. I felt a little, tiny bit more in control. And I accidental got a sweep when I pulled him too far over my head...of course, he landed me in a leg lock, but whatever, ya'll!! I got an accidental sweep!

So victory #1 was messing around and discovering the leverage to be found in spider guard and victory #2 was not crying like a big, fat cry baby. Good day!

Thought I'd share some spider guard resources I found around the interwebs:

Barra BJJ: Spider Guard with Caroline, Otavio, and Marcio

Spider Guard Concepts by Caio Terra

Attacks from Spider Guard by Ricardo Cavalcanti

Triangle Choke from Spider Guard with Michelle Nicolini

Happy training!


Some Weeks, This is All You Get

There are good weeks. Really, really good weeks with maybe one bad night and a cranky afternoon thrown in, but in all...really GOOD weeks.

This isn't one of them.

This is the week where all you get is a crying, screaming, gassy baby and a teething, insane, wretch of a toddler. Where the preschooler talks back like a sailor and the big kid takes the order form you filled out for the school book fair, trashes it, and then proceeds to get a bunch of books just for himself (ignoring the Llama Llama and Olivia books for his siblings).

This is the week where you feel crazy. Like, crying and shaking your fist skyward kind of crazy where you understand how that weird woman in the newspaper holed herself up in her house with 9,003 cats and never talked to anybody ever again. It's a mad kind of crazy that makes you resent being home alone with four kids for so long every day. Crazy. Crazy. Crazy.

 The kind of week where you put in 14 hour days with nothing but the 25 minute run you were allowed to take around the park. Twenty-five measly little minutes where you didn't have to burp something, change something, discipline somebody or listen to incessant, unstoppable crying. This is the week where you think maybe you ought to talk to your union boss about a raise or at least a smoke break or two because the current system just ain't working.

This is the week where you can't sit down. You can't open a book. A magazine. A web page. You can't answer the phone. You can't stop walking with baby or toddler until there is a path worn in your carpet and when one finally settles down, the other needs the last milligram of energy left in your body. Where you consider a 5 hour energy at 9 p.m. JUST to make it through til one of the falls asleep...knowing you'll be up again at 2 a.m. This is the kind of week where you just say "f$^% it" and the rest of the house can figure out how to use the washer and dryer or figure out how to recycle clothes. Where you step over a laundry pile of Montana and just don't care. of those weeks.


P.S.  It gets better, right?
P.P.S. I love my kids.
P.P.P.S. I really do.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Escape the Hips: The Legacy Begins

This week, the boys started their own jiu jitsu journeys.

D is 8 and had started while we were up in Alaska last year sometime. Circumstances made it impossible to really nail it down, so after earning a stripe, we took a very long, long break. He's now in the Juniors class, one strip in tow on his white belt and learning "arm locks." No idea what he wants to do with them, he just knows he doesn't want to "be in them."

Smart boy, eh?

A is 3 and he's in the Little Champs program that his dad teaches. I can't say there's enough money in the world available for me to take on teaching up to 12 wild, frenetic preschoolers, but he does it...and well.

So how's it going?

D has to be coaxed more often than not right now, but that's ok. Computers and video games compete for his attention and he doesn't quite see the value in it every single day. But he will. He loves to think about what tournaments will be like and once he has a few steady friends in class, it'll be hard to get him to come home.

A is a different story completely. He has to deal with being left at home each day his brother goes to school, so when he got the chance to finally do his own "thing," he went bananas. Ba-na-nas! It helps to have dad leading the class, too. He hasn't really been too shy about jumping on the mat and taking his spot in the line.

So the journey begins, right?


Thursday, November 1, 2012


"The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya-honk!  he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation:
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen closer,
I find its purpose and place up there toward the November sky."

-   Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855, I Celebrate Myself, Line 238


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

We somehow managed to survive the first plague outbreak of the season these past few weeks and we're now set in all of our ninja/batman/piggy girl/lambie glory...ready to take these candy-hoarding neighborhoods by storm!

The weeks are flying by and soon it will be Thanksgiving. And then Christmas. And then Riley will be graduating high school and I'll have no kids to blame for the fact that I can't finish anything I start. It's the truth.

Hope things are great in your neighborhood!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Attack of the boy-eating October tale.

We could start this tale with "it was a dark and stormy night..." but let's face it...this is Houston.

Our story begins with "it was a humid and overdue bedtime..."

I had just sat down at my quill and ink when I heard a ear-piecing scream arise from the garderobe. Worried that some manner of befoulment had imposed itself upon my beloved Boy Wonder, I threw back the chamber pot door and espied a most foul beast.

Known only as Roachzilla, this mythic beast had terrorized much of my youth in West Texas. Quick to dart out from beneath my slippers or jump at me when I threw back a cupboard door too quickly, this foul beast was lost from my memory for the eight long years I lived up north...where harsh, long winters spared us from this dastardly cockroach-iness.

But we had just taken up residence in our new manor house and were not prepared for such savagery. With no manner of defense or protection, we have taken the only recourse left to us...we have slammed shut the chamber pot door and anxiously await the late arrival of the lord of the manor, wherein he will dispatch the creature with due diligence.

Until then, we wait...knowing the creature breathes behind a slim door of nothing more than particle board and lead-based can hear us. It smells our fear. We cannot hold out much longer...

*quick translation: big a#% roach nearly gave dom a heart attack while he was on the toilet. i was no help, either, so we are waiting for P to come home and kill the damn thing!*


...dirty little feet...

...dirty little feet...

run through this cluttered little apartment
and grubby little hands
leave behind smudged spoons and chipped glasses
until there is nothing left to drink from but cloudy measuring cups.

loud little voices
holler and fuss and fight and shriek
and leave toys and socks and crayons 
littered about ...
my living room an overgrown battlefield
after they're long asleep.

dirty little feet
slide around in a slick little tub--
washing away the tears and the sighs and the battles
that i won and that i didn't win



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This is Riley.

This is Riley.

This is the ninja baby. This one insisted that we weren't done.

This is what eight weeks old looks like. This is what the youngest of four looks like. This is expected to be the wild one.

This one is the spitting image of her brother Boo. This one has the sweet temperament of her big sister.

This one needs to be included in the attention during the day or this one will make you pay in the overnight hours.

This one was born on a Tuesday. This one completed our family.

This one teachers me about unconditional faith.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

This is Makenna.

This is Makenna.

This one is a charmer. This one is all bouncy curls and batting eyelashes.

This one is beautiful.

This one loves to give kisses. This one loves affection. This one cries when her brothers are upset. This one cares about your bad day and cries when you cry.

This one smiles. All. The. Time.

This one loves her daddy. This one lets her mama paint her toenails at just 15 months. This one will bring you  eighty-seven books and expect you to read them. Each and every one.

This one is called the "pterodactyl" for the screech she's developed when someone takes something from her.

This one tortures her brothers. This one pets the baby and says "sis-tah."

This one will not be excluded. This one will include herself no matter what. This one will always find a way.

This is sunshine. This is bright and happy.

This one teaches me about unconditional kindness.


Friday, September 28, 2012

This is Andrew.

This is Andrew.

This is what three and a half going on nineteen looks like. This is six hours straight of Caillou and Curious George. This is teaching himself chess and this is chewing on the checkers when I'm not looking.

This is the child who gives me fits. This is also the child that loves the hardest with all of his tiny little being.

This is bossy. Observant.. Sure of himself.

This is unbridled energy.

This is intense and this is outspoken.

This is my "road dog" and this is the reason I will never leave the house alone ever again.

This is strength. This is his father's spitting and his mother's salty mouth.

This is the one who never forgets anything. Ever.

This is a love for his sisters and this is his brother's biggest fan.

This one teaches me about unconditional and never-ending love.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

This is Dominic.

This is Dominic.

This is the first. This is the one who turned me from who I was to who I am.

This is creativity. This is sensitivity.

This is the most patient big brother God ever created. This is the one who worries about the feelings of others to the point of tears.

This is Warcraft's biggest fan, a lover of hide and seek, and the earner of all As and one B his first month in a new school.

This is a lover of lemonade. And sour skittles.

This is a people pleaser. This one can't get enough of life.

This one is unbridled enthusiasm. This one has never met a stranger.

This one was nicknamed "The Mayor of Eagle River" when he was three.

This one teaches me about unconditional joy.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Apartment Haikus, Volume I

Troupe of tap dancers?
Elephant herd stomping ants?
I hope your pipes burst.

Lawn Mowing Peeping Tom
Outside my window
You cut grass on Friday, but
There's no lawn in here.

Front Row Parking Wars
I see you, lurking...
Waiting for me to drive off.
Well played, spot vulture.

Weird Pool Family
Stop stealing our toys.
It's a big pool, play somewhere else.
Did you just pick your nose?


Monday, September 17, 2012

Calling all Readers: Bloggy Book Club!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...I had friends. No, really. I had friends and I had a book club and we met each  month at a house and we talked about a book we'd read the month before. The host chose the book and we all brought goodies and left our kids at home.

It was sure fun while it lasted.

And now, here I am a MILLION miles from those friends and without the means to have a local, in-person book club, because, you know, those things require that you have real, live friends. That want to meet up with you. And like, hang out. I'm sorely lacking that ingredient in my new life in Texas, so I'm doing the next best thing and scouring the Internets for imaginary friends.

Ok, I know you're all real. And it's this real-ness that I'm after.

I miss talking books and bonding and the thought hit me last month to put together an online version of that great group gathering.

What do you think?

Here's what I had in mind:

1. Each month, a new hostess offer up a choice of books and lets the group vote (I found some great free poll makers on the web)

2. At the assigned date, we all meet up at the hostess' blog and chime in. Hopefully, she'll have some questions about our impressions of the book to take back to our own blogs and ruminate on.

 3. I'm even going so far as to offer a goodie giveaway for my month. I love getting cute stuff in the mail!

Since I don't really have an idea of what sort of group we'll get together, I'll go first for October and we'll choose November's hostess in the next couple weeks. (Randomly, of course.)

Curious about the three books I'm suggesting? I tried to choose books with a paranormal-ly, curious vibe in honor of October. Oh, and then one non-fiction book in case that's your taste. Read on!

1. The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father—and every other witch there—fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

3. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.

And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.

So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.

In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.

Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.

With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives. 

The poll:


More details:
So we'll meet back here the week of October 29 and have serious, nerdy book girl fun. Leave a comment to let me know you're in, and in a week or so, we'll pick November's hostess. I'll post in a few weeks when I come with a groovy prize package to send out to a lucky winner/reader.

Happy reading!