Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Girl


This girl is 18 years old and about to leave the "home" that she has lived in for the past 4 years. She hated Germany at first...it was cold when she arrived (November) and so...well, foreign. Quickly though, she grew to love it and didn't want to leave when it was time.

This girl thought that she'd be married by the age of 19 and would have six children. Why six? She doesn't even know, it wasn't like she was a big fan of The Brady Bunch.

This girl wrote in her Senior Memory Book that in 5 years she saw herself married and 5 years after that she'd probably have 2 kids and be divorced. She put a smiley face next to that entry but she's not even sure why she would have joked about something like that. She also said that her career goals were to be rich and to have a "fulfilling life."

Fast forward 20 years....she didn't marry at 19 and doesn't have any kids, let alone 6, but she has six nephews and one niece to spoil and love on and has had more than her share of heartaches over the opposite sex; she has also learned lessons from those heartaches so they served their purpose.

For a long time she felt "lost"...so many friends were getting married, having kids, living their life and she felt like hers hadn't begun yet. But she didn't know she was on the journey that God intended for her to be on. Now that she's older (but looks younger than her age!) and wiser, she knows that it doesn't take a man or children to feel fulfilled and she also knows that sometimes God says "no" and she accepts that.

She has a great job that allows her to support herself and her passions (reading, traveling, photography, shoe shopping -- and the braces to give her pretty straight teeth.) She has her sisters, her parents, extended family and a huge circle of friends from all stages of her life. She also has two puppies that she loves....when they aren't peeing and pooping in the house. And she learned that she has a bit of a talent for writing and had the opportunity of a lifetime to write an advice column for three years....she's been published!

She is rich not in wealth, but in the things that matter in life. She is happy and she is fulfilled. And she's amazed that she knew the importance of living a fulfilled life before she began to really live.

More pictures

Jamie sent these pictures that she took from Austin. The kids are so funny; the first picture is when the little ones were in our room so that Michelle could take a shower in peace. I think the kids were looking at a squirrel running around. The middle picture was taken after Jamie decided to straighten Ella's hair. Ella thought she looked like "the little mermaid" so now she wants Jamie to straighten her hair all the time. And of course that's Ella and her beloved cousin Marcus...she just loves him can't you tell?



Ella did the funniest thing the other day, I just have to share it. I was at her house picking up something from Christy and we were standing in the kitchen talking. Ella's new kitty, Mary Sparkles (or Mary Sparkies as Ella was calling her that day) was wondering around the kitchen as well and all of a sudden the kitten is on Christy's ass, holding on for dear life! Ella had picked her up and I guess decided she didn't want to hold her so she just put her on Christy's butt. We tried not to laugh....well I tried not to laugh, Christy had claws in her butt so I'm sure it wasn't funny to her. I carefully pried Mary Sparkles off and we told Ella that just because the kitty has claws doesn't mean she can just stick her on things...she's not velcro! I wish we had a camera to capture that Kodak Moment....Ella truly didn't see anything wrong with it.

This picture was taken by my mom. For some reason the twins climbed up on Jamie's dresser, grabbed her sunglasses and headbands and told my mom to take their picture. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that when they were babies we would put clips in their hair --but just for a second! -- to see how they would look had they been girls because they had/have such pretty curly hair with natural blonde highlights. Anyway...as for the hand sings their throwin'....they see their older brothers do it so they want to do it in all of their pictures....at least it's the peace sign!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend Movie Reviews

Even though I went out of town for Memorial Day weekend, I still managed to see three movies. Two on DVD and one in person.

1. Because I Said So -- I wasn't sure what this movie was about other than it was about a meddling mother (Diane Keeton) and her three daughters (Mandy Moore being the main one). I remember the reviews for this movie being really bad..the critics hated it, so I wasn't ever really planning to rent it. Except that my mom and sis rented it and liked it, and returned it before I could borrow it! Thanks Dad...that man still can not take a message, or give one. The movie is about a meddling mother wanting her youngest to find true love, and it is entirely a cute movie. Very much a chick flick. Diane's character does act overly goofy at times but I liked it enough to recommend it. Funny, and sweet and cute boys to look at too. Though one sister's character, Piper something-or-other is the actress, didn't seem to have any purpose in the film at all. She had less than 10 lines the whole film I swear!

2. Music and Lyrics -- I love Drew Barrymore and love most of Hugh Grant's movies so I've been wanting to see this one. Again, this is a movie that mom rented and dad didn't tell her not to return it before I had a chance to borrow it. I totally loved this movie. It made me laugh and almost made me cry at the end. I loved both characters, Hugh Grant is just funny without even trying. Another chick flick, but would make a good date movie too..it's not too sappy.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 -- so do you pronounce it CariBBEAN, or CARIbbean? Anyway...Jamie went with me and Grace to see this last night and Jamie warned me that she heard it was a 3 hour movie. She was right. And at times it felt like a 3 hour movie because I forgot my shawl and was getting cold. The graphics and action shots were amazing. And FINALLY Keith Richards makes an appearance though his part was smaller than I thought it would be. My only gripe is that I had such a hard time remembering what happened on PotC 2 so I was a bit lost until we pieced it together between the three of us. Good movie..not a "must see in theaters" movie, at least not for me, and beware when taking little ones...they will get lost in the story and might get ancy with the 3 hour thing...much like the little brat sitting next to Grace who was entirely too old to be crying for her daddy who took her brother to the bathroom!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Look Kids, the Capital

I never remember lines from movies so I rarely quote any. But the one I do remember is that line from Vacation, the one where the Griswald's go to Europe and they get stuck in the circular road in London and Clark keeps passing up Parliament and Big Ben. I hardly ever get a chance to quote the line but it was most appropriate for our trip to Austin. We took off around 6:15 p.m. on Friday, right after I got home from work and loaded my stuff into the van. Michelle drove and I had the directions. Typically I am very good with a map and directions but I was tired and when I read "take 183 north", I read it as take EXIT 183 north...not HIGHWAY 183 north. We passed the Capital three times and what should have been a one hour trip took us two hours. Michelle and I burst into a giggle fit, the kind with tears, because we were so tired and it was funny but the boys didn't think it was anything to laugh at. Isaiah had konked out in the back seat and Ethan told me that his feet hurt. When I asked how his feet could hurt since he was sitting he said "they hurt cuz I'm not using them!"

We finally made it to the hotel (a very nice hotel, thanks Tobey Lee for the hookup!) and as luck would have it, Jamie and I got a room to ourselves because the little ones wanted to be together so it made better sense for Michelle and Christy to take the adjoining rooms. But that didn't mean we didn't have little ones in our room. The first night Jamie ended up sleeping with Ella because Ella was wide awake and everyone else were trying to sleep. After a little bit of Ella playing waitress and taking our orders, Jamie convinced her to let her scratch her back (a sure fire way to make Ella fall asleep.) Jamie didn't get the best of sleep because Ella was sleeping at an angle forcing Jamie to the edge of her bed, but I slept GREAT! I didn't have to wake up to let any dogs pee and I was in heaven!

When we woke up on Saturday we got dressed, and made it downstairs in time for the complimentary hot breakfast. Then we took off for Bastrop Park. And it poured. But we figured we'd still head out to the park anyway and give the kids something to at least look at. When we arrived the rain had stopped and after finding the one lake area we parked and started getting the fishing gear ready. The kids were so excited and the weather, though a tad humid from the rain, wasn't so bad. We talked about going back in the fall and renting log cabins for a weekend. Of course this brought up "Friday the 13th" and Camp Crystal Lake and Michelle is already scared I think.

Rob is such a sport. He's the only uncle so it was his job to help the kids get the stinky bait (which looked like squares of dog poop) onto the reels and then show them how to cast their fishing poles. Some caught on quickly, others did not and some just didn't have luck on their side. This is the look on Ryan's face as he dropped his hook thingy on the ground behind him as he tried to cast it. I think it was after this try that he then got it stuck in a tree! He finally got the hang of it but not after being teased by his older brother and uncle!



Ella really wasn't into the fishing so much. She tried it but quickly was bored by it. She would rather eat and try and climb the rocks.



After about 2 and a half hours of no fish, the kids were restless. The most exciting thing we saw in the water were little turtles and they kept eating the bait. I'm sure the noise we were making scared off the fish, but there were a couple of other families who were at the lake before we arrived and they didn't catch anything either! We managed to load them back into the cars, clean them off and then went to eat a late lunch. Later that day Christy and Rob went to a concert and after a quick power nap by me and Jamie (poor Michelle never gets to rest!) we loaded all of the kids into the van (my mom's van, thanks mom!) and headed into Austin with the intention of watching the bats at the Congress Avenue bridge make their nightly flight into town. Of course we only had 15 minutes to get there and we didn't make it so we decided to go by the Capital instead. Luckily, the capital was still open and so we took the kids inside. The most exciting thing to Marcus and Ryan was standing over an A/C vent and having their shirts puffed up. The twins and Ella and Jakob got a kick out of the cannons that were in front of the building and jumped on them like it was a ride. It is a pretty building, the grounds are beautiful and at night it was just a sight. Unfortunately I was taking pics with my handheld digital and the night setting doesn't take the clearest of pics but here are some from that little side trip.





After that, we drove down 6th Street to let the kids see it...they were uninterested but Michelle said she'd like to go back, sans kids, and party one night. She doesn't go out in SA mind you, but she's all up for 6th Street! We then drove around trying to find somewhere to eat..but the twins crashed in the car, most of the kids said they weren't hungry and it was late. So we picked up good ol' Mickey D's and went back to the hotel room. On Sunday we slept in, got dressed, checked out and ate breakfast at IHOP then headed home, after a stop at the outlet in San Marcos. So all in all it was fun little getaway and everyone survived!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Austin or Bust

Finally, we are taking the kids on a family trip this weekend. Well...family minus the old folks. If there isn't a casino within 20 feet my dad won't go. Originally we (Christy, Rob, Me, Michelle and Jamie) planned to take the kids to South Padre Island for Memorial Day. Then Rob wanted to go camping at Bastrop Park, so they bailed. Then Michelle realized that the week of May 28th is a payroll week so she'd have to work on Memorial Day and there's no point in driving all the way to SPI for 2 nights. So Austin it is. We're taking the kids fishing at Bastrop on Saturday and then will do some sightseeing in Austin on Sunday...typical tourist stuff, like seeing the Capital, maybe strolling the UT campus so Marcus, Ryan and Michael can get excited about going to college. Christy, Rob and Jamie are also talking about getting tattoos (a first for Rob and Jamie, a second for Christy). I don't know what we'll be doing with the kids when they get them...Michelle's twins will think it's cool and will no longer be satisfied with the stick on variety that they are used to, so I'm not sure we want to encourage them!

Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us, I have no idea what the forecast is, I'll get around to checking that out sometime before we leave on Friday.

It'll be fun, and tiring, with 6 boys and a 3 year old little girl who bosses everyone around. Heck, just picking out fishing poles for Michelle's boys about wore out my patience. This picture is from Easter; Ryan and Michael (on the right) aren't really that dark, it's the angle and not enough flash!




Thursday, May 17, 2007

Zumba!

(Pronounced Zoomba)

Last week Katherine told me about about Zumba. A dance workout featuring latin music and dances such as the merengue, salsa, cha-cha, etc. It was coming to Helotes, TX and the instructor was offering free 30 minute demonstrations. I went, though I was really nervous after watching the video link on the Zumba website. It originated in Miami so of course all the women doing the workout look like Barbie Dolls with a nice tan. Anyway, I dragged Jamie with me and we met Katherine in Helotes. As soon as I walk into the gym, I spot a guy who looks familiar to me. Turns out it's my friend David. I've known David since I can remember....his family lives across the street from my cousins in Kenedy (my parents' hometown) and I grew up thinking he was also a cousin. When I learned he wasn't my crush on his older brother developed. Then the next summer I crushed on David. And then I crushed on his younger brother Michael (who is my age)....there are more younger brothers but they were way too young. If you knew how cute they are you'd understand why I was trying to get into the family.

Anyway..back to the story, it turns out the instructor is a good friend of David's and he's going to help her instruct until he gets certified in the summer and starts his own classes. The preview starts and the instructor goes over some of the basic steps and explains the concept behind Zumba, which is to get a kick-butt cardio workout while having a lot of fun dancing to this great music. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life! I brought my sweatband that I wear when I workout because I sweat --that's right...I don't perspire, I sweat!-- but Jamie was embarrassed at the idea of me next to her in a sweatband so I didn't wear it. Big mistake....I looked like I got out of the shower, and Jamie didn't look any better! We loved it and signed up and last night we had our first full class. Since the 30 minute demo kicked our butts, we weren't too sure how we'd do for a full hour. Luckily we were able to towel down and drink some water in between songs (and of course we could do this at any point but we were trying to make it thru the entire song without stopping.) and we made it the entire way thru. I can't say the same for my sweatband. It was drenched so I either need to find a super thick one, or bring two and swap out at the midway point. That sounds kinda gross.....but if you workout and sweat I know you understand where I'm comin' from!

I thought that because I have some rhythym and was the captain of my high school dance team, that I would be able to pick up the moves pretty easily. Wrong. There were many times that I felt like a complete dork and many times when I couldn't get my arm and leg movements in sync. And there are some things my hips don't do easily. But that just makes me more determined to conquer Zumba! First, get all the movements down....Second, learn to move my feet as fast as the instructor does!

Friday, May 11, 2007

8 Girls, 2 Rooms, 1 Destination

Viva Las Vegas!!

A couple of months ago my good friend, Katherine invited me to join her, her cousin and 6 other friends for a girls trip to Vegas. Turns out that one of the girls was celebrating her 30th b-day and one of the 8 had to drop out so they were looking for a replacement. I hadn't planned on going to Vegas until much later in the year, if even then, but when she invited me I jumped at the chance. Katherine and I have vacationed together in the past (a cruise and weekend trip to N 'Awlins with Grace) so I knew I would have fun. And I did. I also had not been feeling like I was about to turn 38 (on May 21st....write that down, I expect birthday cards at the very least! ....Christy....) until this trip. I was the oldest by about 3 or 4 years. And while I might not have looked like I was that much older, my body certainly told me it was!!! All the walking we did really made my entire body ache...I need a vacation from my vacation.

We arrived in Vegas on Saturday, May 5th, the night of the big fight. I'm a De La Hoya fan, and after having watched the 24/7 HBO series on the fight..I was really wanting to watch it to see him smack that cocky SOB around. Ok..so I didn't really think Oscar would beat him down, but I figured he would come extremely prepared and would at least not get knocked out himself. I didn't see the fight but I heard it was a decision which meant that Floyd did not whoop up on anyone's ass. And that pleases me to no end. Anyway... two of my high school friends are in Vegas, Lisa and Alison, so they met me at my hotel, Treasure Island, and we headed over to The Venetian for appetizers and drinks, and drinks and drinks. We hadn't seen each other since 1987. Our 20 year reunion is coming up in June (more blogging on that later) and they are both coming and I can't wait to spend more time catching up with them.

Alison, Me, Lisa
The next day something in the air or the pressure was really kicking my buttocks and I had a sinus headache that would not go away. We walked and walked all day and came back for much needed disco naps before going out that night. But when it was time to get up, Lisa wasn't having it...my head was throbbing and I was completely congested so I stayed in and slept while the girls went out. I must have really needed the sleep because I slept hard and long.

By Monday morning I decided to take migraine medicine to see if that would knock out my sinus headache and it did the trick. So I partied with the girls that night. We went to the Voodoo Lounge at Rio -- it had a gorgeous rooftop view of the strip, but the crowd was a little more mature than we wanted so we had our one drink and headed to Jet at the Mirage (if you go to Vegas and want to party....buy the tickets from the street vendors cuz it is worth it! The cover charges are ridiculous and you'll save money, just read the coupons entirely to check for things like "free till 10pm", etc.) Jet was jumpin'!!! Normally, I don't dance until I've had a little alcohol in my system but when we got in line they were jammin to the Bee Gee's (and if you know me, you know I love me some Bee Gees)...and then they went into some old school rap. The music was "off the chain" and I was getting my groove and drink on...but at $10 a pop I was drinking very slowly. I was having a great time checking out the scenery (aka MEN) and this guy walks up and says "I was wondering if you'd like to dance", in about 1 second flat I handed my purse to Blanca and said "watch this I'm gonna go dance" and made my way to the dance floor. The only complaint about this club was that it was not terribly big, or it was just way overcrowded so dancing could be hazardous if you weren't watching out for the drunk folk who were stepping on toes and dancing all up in your space. This guy's name was "Sed"...yes...he even spelled it for me. Very tall, very cute, very muscular....and apparently very young. While we were dancing he was making hand gestures and he then took my hand and positioned it into the same gesture. Afraid I was throwin gang signs I asked him what it meant. He said it was his fraternity. Fraternity!! Now, granted...he didn't look like he was still in college, so maybe he's in his late 20's and still very proud of his fraternity. I don't know, and I don't really care. Lisa snagged a young hotty!!
The weather was perfect, the company was great and we laughed the entire time. But we weren't laughing when our plane hit bad turbulence on the flight back home and took not one but two dips and scared the crap out of everyone. Ok, we did laugh...afterwards when we knew we were safe!

















Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Movie Reviews a la Lisa

One of my many hobbies is movie watching. I LOVE movies. I'm a fan of most all types of movies and consider myself a great movie critic because unlike the people who get paid to review movies, I'm there for the entertainment factor only. So, from time to time I will blog about the movies I've seen recently....in case you haven't seen the movie yet yourself. I won't rate the movies with stars, thumbs or jalepeno's...if I say I want to buy it, then that means this movie is all that and a bag of chips, er...popcorn.

Here we go....

Last Friday, because I got the afternoon off (gotta love the Battle of Flowers parade!) I took my "babies", the twins to see Disney's Meet the Robinson's (PS. you'll see me refer to my babies alot...but you know I don't have any children so you might be confused. My babies are my nephews and niece...I couldn't love them any more had I birthed them myself so they are "my babies."). I had already heard that the movie was good and since the twins hadn't seen it yet, I thought it would be fun to take them. So off we go, and after spending $25 for food and drinks (to which Ethan commented "that's crazy" as he munched on his popcorn and skittles) we got our seats. I was surprised that it was quite packed considering that the movie has been out for a while. I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!!! It was soooo much better than I was expecting it to be. The twins seemed to be completely engrossed with it... but I found out afterwards that it kinda went over Isaiah's head (it has a "back to the future" theme.) He said "I didn't get it, I just kept watching and eating my popcorn" ...once I explained it in 6 year old terms he understood it better. This is a keeper movie...I will buy it when it comes out.

The Queen --- since I was being lazy I bought the movie while at Walmart instead of stopping to rent it. It was a good price and I figured I would like it enough. And I did...it was good. Was it "Best Movie" Academy Award material? No. But I can see why Helen Mirren won for Best Actress. She nailed the character of the Queen on the head, it was kinda eery. If you'd like to borrow my copy just let me know!

I also bought "Night at the Museum" for the twins because I love that movie so much (we saw it in the theater when it first came out.) If you haven't seen it yet, you must. It's a great family movie but adults might love it even more. It is so frickin' funny.

I went on a recent "Hollywood Video" binge and rented 3 movies last Saturday night. Here they are:

Notes on a Scandal -- good movie. Judi Dench is a crazy biatch in this movie and she plays it perfectly! I have loved Cate Blanchett ever since she did "Elizabeth" and she impressed me again in this movie. You feel for her and get pissed at her all at once. Worth a watch.

Freedom Writers -- Oh-my-gawd-you-have-got-to-see-this-movie! It was so touching and so moving...I cried several times and so totally did not expect to cry at this one! Very good, very good.. I want my teenage nephews to see it for the message it sends..and it's based on a true story so that's even better!

Last King of Scotland -- I rented this one mainly to watch Forest Whitaker's Oscar winning performance, and I have to agree that he was amazing. I had no expectations of the movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not a bad movie....it's worth a rent.

That's all for now folks. I hope my review was helpful!