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Holidays and Special Dates

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Today’s tragic theater shootings in Aurora

I am a mother now. I am changed. I will never again be able to hear news like a movie theater shooting or any other tragedy big or small, local or not, and have the reaction I did before I had a child. I am a mother now. And now I feel this kind of news differently now. Viscerally. Emotionally. Every child that is hurt, I imagine is my own. Every mother who sits my her wounded child is me. Every mother of every gunman is me. I feel the pain of every mother connected to this story. It is my story too. I am connected to these people and it affects me too.

Today, my husband and I woke up to get our toddler out of bed with her half cheerful, have cranky calls to come get her. After a fast game of “not it” (not because we don’t want to be the first to greet our child, but because our daughter is a morning pooper and the first greeter also gets diaper surprise duty. Pun intended. Sorry for this detail, Doodle bug. Hopefully you will never read this or be to old to care by the time you do), my husband glanced at his phone as he usually does and his face goes a little pale and his expression bleak. 14 dead in a Colorado theater shooting.

All day, I have been tearful. Emotional. Feeling the trauma as my own. As if I were there. To make matters worse, my husband bought his ticket to see the Dark Knight two weeks ago and has been doing daily happy dances about it in anticipation. And the thought of him in that theater…well, its too much to bear and it brings me to tears as I write. Fear, anger, grieve wraps around my throat. I am sure you know the feeling.

From what I understand, the youngest killed was 6 years old and the youngest wounded was 3 months old in addition to a pregnant woman. And the mother of this shooter, who was a PhD student at UCD in neuroscience, who was preparing for her child to be a brain surgeon, is now grieving the loss of his humanity and his participation in society. And is now grappling with him being the most hated man in Colorado, perhaps America, for his unthinkable senseless violence against innocent people.

I don’t know his story. Or his family’s story. In a way, I don’t need to know. What is done is done. (Colorado has seen a similar kind of tragedy at Columbine high school in 1999, my high school graduating year. I was too young and too self involved to care or understand or care to try to understand. Coloradans are strong and will raise above and heal.)

But today, today I am a mother. And today I am grieving with James Holmes’ mother. For her. As a fellow mother. And I am grieving with all the other mothers touched by todays horrible, unthinkable, violation and violence. In solidarity.

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A great piece by Lisa Belkin in the Huffington Post, The Aurora Shooting: Any of Our Children Could Have been at the Movies Last Night. 

Happy Hour, Part 1: MangoRita

MangoRita

My Mango Margaritas…and my idea of a perfect stay-cation!

Happy birthday, America!

We had a glorious long week together as a family to celebrate America’s birthday with a trendy stay-cation. We stayed put at home to enjoy the sun, the pool, eachother company and some yummy concotions. First up…a mango margarita.

I have an obsession with mangos. I love the flavor. I love mango gelato especially. I love mango netcar and fresh mango salsa and mango smoothies and mango popsicles. I spent an entire summer studying abroad searching from near and far of each town I visited for mango gelato (also delicious paired with coconut gelato…makes my mouth water just thinking about it). LOVE it.

So, it seems obvious that I should create my own mango margarita for our stay-cation (in the hottest, humid-est place on the planet). MangoRita as I like to call her. So, when making up my own recipes I usually scour the internet for other peoples recipes first to get an idea of options out there. I visited Pinterest (check out my write up on how to use this God-send), my archive of recipes in Evernote, then to FoodTv and a general Google search.

Here is what I came up with:

1 bag of frozen mango
1 cup+ of orange juice (if you have triple sec or cointrou, I would use these instead of OJ)
vest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1 cup of tequila
splash of coconut water (optional)

Blend thouroughly to make her smooth.

Quater a lime and rub the rim of a pre-frozen glass and then dip rim in a mixture of sugar and salt. This is a game changer! Much to the disrespect of my Southwestern roots, I do not prefer a traditional salted rim for a traditional margarita and I also do not love a sugar rim for a sweet cocktail, either. But a mixture of salt and sugar is magical and a perfect mouth watering balance!

Pour your mango margarita in the pre-frozen salt and sugar rimmed glass, squeeze a bit of fresh lime over the whole thing, put your feet up and eeeeennnnnjoy!

…for a second and then chase your toddler away from whatever disaster she is about to partake or get her hand out of your MangoRita or fend yourself off from the soaking wet long haired dog trying to get you to play fetch in the pool. That’s my life, anyway.

Try it and let me know what you think?

A Dr. Suess-tastic Birthday Soiree

Sofie turned one on March 2, 2012. And Dr. Seuss would have been 108 on this blessed day. It seemed only fitting that we honor two of the finest people to walk the earth. (I am a mother and I am allowed to think, say and blog that if I want to!) So, we did what anyone would do, we threw a Wubbulous birthday party! Of course. To start, I gathered a whole lot of Dr. Seuss inspiration from all over the place (really, I just googled ‘Dr. Seuss party’ and started pinning with verve). Check out my Sofie’s 1st Birthday board on Pinterest! Let me just take a moment to say… there are some over-the-top brilliantly creative people out there…a lot of mom’s with blogs doing fantastic arts and crafts wizardry to dazzle their Seuss loving children. Wow! I mean, woooow. I poured over the details and possibilities of how to dazzle and delight my sweet daughter with colors and yummy things to eat and how to engage her and her best friends who were all turning one around the same time.I decided it would be at a park that she likes with a great playground, picnic tables and a grassy area and a body of water with ducks, geese and birds that make her squeal and laugh as they fly and dive for stale bread. Perfect! I imagined the whimsy of having a colorful explosion of Suesstatical details in the beauty and inviting playfulness of an outdoor backdrop. The juxtaposition struck my fancy.From there adding Seuss themed details was a bottomless barrel of fun! Here is how it all turned out: Invitations:I made the invitations using word, which was both easy and hair-pullingly frustrating (I make up words a lot, but something about Dr. Seuss gives me even more license to indulge this habit) and in the end there were imperfections that made me loose a little sleep. I try to play it off that I am way more calm, cool, and collected than my perfectionistic, neurotic inner self wants you to believe. Anyway, I think they turned out well and are super cute and got the theme across quite well, which was a red and aqua Dr. Seuss soiree. Clearly.

The Invitation

We ended up having to move the party indoors due to a rainy, chilly day and my cute husband sent an email to let our guests know with the quote, “The storm stars when the drops start dropping. When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping” by Dr. Seuss. Bonus points, hubs. Party Dress:The guest of honor’s outfit was what I spent much time dreaming up and and pouring over. I wanted to make her a dress and the original plan was for it to be red and white polka dot with an aqua feather boa sewed to the hem. How fabulous is that!?!? Then (several weeks into the planning) I realized that I have a one year old. A one year old that puts everything in her mouth. I started picturing her sitting at her party in her party dressed obsessively plucking her at her dress feathers and eating them. I did not want to turn the birthday girl into a molting sneetch!

Double Layered Pillow Case Dress with white ribbon ties and ric rac detail

So, this is what I came up with, after a few rounds of sewing and resewing. Sewing always makes me think of my nana’s talent as a seamstress and how much love she showed through making clothes to dazzle her kids, as told through my mom and aunt. She would stay up all night making a dress for them and when my mom or aunt woke up in the morning, it would be hanging perfectly made, pressed and ready to wear. Dazzling love. I pretend I am nana every time I sew and when I made my girl her birthday dress, I channeled my nana’s love to share with another generation.) Daddy’s Cat in the Hat Debut: My husband is notoriously not a fan of costumes. I have been trying to get him to dress up for Halloween for years. I have been building a pirate get-for him for as long as I can remember being an item. The first year it was a pirate hat that we got in Disneyland together. The next, I added a sword. The next, I added an eye patch, which I never actually saw him put on. The next I got a Johnny Depp-esque, Jack Sparrow dreadlock beads to clip in his hair. And on and on. This last year, we dressed up as pumpkins with Sofie. Kids change things. So much so that my husband, the notoriously anti-costume guy, enthusiastically wore this Cat in the Hat get up. Yeah, kids definitely change things.

Daddy as the Cat in the Hat

The Food: This was by far the most fun part of a Seuss themed party for me. Seuss themed food…oh my, the possibilities are endless. And back to the brilliantly creative moms who blog, they had done so much of the work for me, there were slews of options to choose from and all I had to do was customize a little.

    Fox in Sox Noodle Eating Poodle Pasta Salad

The Cake and Cupcakes: My dear friend, a lawyer turned cupcake goddess amongst countless other talents and vocations of hers, made the cupcakes. Her cupcakes are what I like to refer to as sinfully divine and they are known across the land for their lightness, decadence and irresistible appeal. And she made little Sofie 50 chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting to share with her family and friends!

“Thing 1″ CupCake Tower

I made her SMASH cake for her and I went a little over the top. Three tiered chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries in between each layer and then to decorate the outside in an effort to emulate the red stripes of the Cat in the Hat’s red striped hat. Partly for decor, but mostly because Sofie Doodle LOVES strawberries and I knew she would want to eat them (and it minimized the frosting that she might actually eat–sugar scares me a bit!-and while I want her to indulge in this time-honored first birthday tradition of one’s first cake, I also was horrified at introducing sugar, chocolate and butter to her in such quantities! Yikes!)

Here is the cake:

The Smash Cake – Chocolate 3 layered cake with vanilla frosting & strawberry details

Party Favors: Homemade

Fabric for dress: JoAnne’s

Cat in the Hat costume: Amazon

Decorations: Party City, Target and Amazon

Invitations, Signs and other Print Outs: Fed Ex and Homemade

Inspirations: Brilliant blogging Dr Seuss loving mamas

Establishing Easter Traditions

Disclaimer: If you are under the age of 12 years old: Spoiler Alert! Stop reading this post. But then again, I am not sure anyone in that age group would be reading this. Anyway…

Easter is in two weeks and just recently my husband and I looked at each other and for the first time realized, “oh crap, WE are the Easter bunny!” Thankfuly, this epiphany hit us whilst at Target. Hello $1 aisle. How are you? Please rescue me for yet another holiday.

[Now, I am fully aware that this aisle is full of plastic crap made exclusively in China and the moral damage and implications of thoughtlessly, American-ly filling my basket with unnecessary, shiny things for the immediate gratification and temporary satisfaction of simply grabbing as much as I can, as fast as I can. Yes, I am that kind of fussy human that preaches talks about sustainability and fair trade and organic and materialism/capitalism and minimalism. But what I have also learned in the 12 months and 4 weeks of being a mom is that convenience often trumps all other previously held notions or preoccupations. C'est la vie. But back to the point of this post...]

Sofie's First Easter 2011

A picture from Sofie’s first Easter, which was a non-event really because my husband got very sick and it was slowly going around to each of us, so it was more of an infirmary than a day of easater egg hunts and brunch. *Please note the Target $1 aisle bunny ears.

So, (back to Target) I started frantically grabbing as much shiny pastel easter bunny themed and toddler friendly stuff as I could hold we  lovingly filled our basket with a few $1 items, which spawned a great conversation about our favorite traditions for this lovely spring holiday and celebration of our faith.

In my family, my mom would hide our elaborate Easter baskets outside in our yard and garden, so that on Easter morning we would gather each other as a family (we had strict rules about the kids waking each other up before anyone saw any of the surprises or walked into the kitchen area to see the breakfast feasts for Easter or Christmas! We fought a lot as siblings, but we were religious about this courtesy and camaraderie with one another on our favorite holidays.)

Me and my baby brother on Easter morning!

My family would:

  • hunt for our Easter baskets, which usually each had different colored cellophane wrapping, and open them up together as a family. Our baskets were filled with the classic Easter candies like peeps, egg shaped chocolates, often a See’s candies Easter themed box of chocolates and suckers, some toys and a whole lot of joy. My mother was amazing at making our holidays magical. In my child’s mind, those Easter baskets were the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s factory-colorful, fanciful, delicious and decadent. These are big shoes to fill as a mom!
  • get dressed in our spring-y sun dresses, hats and white sandals
  • head off to mass held outside in the Arizona sunshine
  • head over to my Aunt’s house for brunch, an Easter egg hunt, swimming, playing games  like crochet or ping pong, and lazing about in her citrus orchard of a yard. Another word about the Easter eggs hunts at my Aunt and Uncles’ house. When we were young, these were elaborate and the gold egg always had money in it. This was literally GOLD to us, in our younger years. Now, looking back, I am pretty sure it was a handful of coins or a single silver dollar (bonus points here!), but it made your whole day if you found this special egg. Eggs were hidden all over their large property, in the citrus trees, on the roof, in the pool, you name it, it was a HUGE event.

One of my husbands favorite traditions is the Easter bunny’s footprints leading up to their Easter baskets in the living room. His mom would make bunny foot prints using powdered sugar. Totally cute! That would have totally blown my mind as a kid. And as a parent, I pretty much live to see Sofie’s mind blown with delight.

We plan on recreating many of these favorites for our little family. What are your favorite Easter traditions?

Check out my Pinterest board for Easter inspiration!

SaintsGiving Dog in a Turkey Coma

Happy Thanksgiving! Nuff said.

First day at Tulane! Ended with attending TEDxTU.

Sitting here with two of my loves: Brian and Higher Education.

And to kick of tonight’s event…because how else would you do it in NOLA?!?!

Thanks Tulane and TEDxTU for this momentous day!

Rest in Eternal Peace, Ms. Grimes

Judy Grimes Priebe

Today, I found out one of my favorite teachers from high school died of cancer that she had been fighting for at least a year prior. I received an email through Facebook to the XCP/BCP (Xavier College Preparatory, my alma mater and Brophy College Preparatory, our brother school) alumni groups. Shocking, horrible news that brought me to tears the moment I read the words in the email message.

High school is a horribly impressionable, highly volatile time in a young persons life.

Xavier College Preparatory was the best thing that every happened to me educationally and socially. Of course, in my 14-17 year old wisdom, I hadn’t the perspective or maturity or life experience to have known that at the time. But from every step I have taken since, the academic discipline, critical thinking, friends, traditions, and sense of belonging have shaped my every step.

Miss Grimes, as we knew her then, was a HUGE part of that growth and self realization. She stands out more than any other figure.

As I begin to read the Facebook posts from other fellow Gators, she apparently was that special someone to many, many, many other students at Xavier College Preparatory, not to mention her own friends and family. I was shocked as I read others comments…not because I didn’t believe them, but becuase she made me feel like I was the only special person she loved and took under her wing. I guess that was just apart of what made her so deeply meaningful for so many of us.

Why is it that “only the good die young”?And why oh why didn’t I ever make sure to visit her in these 11 years since I graduated to tell her how much she meant and means to me?

Thank you, Miss Grimes, for being that special someone who reached out to me and understood me and inspired me in such a  special way.

Now, I follow her husbands’ blog, In 2 the Eye, as he grieves. He is a powerful writer, truly talented in his ability to bring words to his experience in a vivid and visceral way. I have cried with each post.