Friday, April 27, 2012

Listening: The Things People Say

I'm glad I didn't listen when they said...
~Once you have kids, you can't do that anymore.
~If you leave him, I think you're going to ruin your life.
~You? Run a half-marathon? That's hilarious.
~You should be an accountant, not a teacher.
~You two are never going to work.
~All men are like that.
~You're getting a tattoo? Are you crazy?
~You really need to start doing Facebook.
~Pink hair is for rock stars.
~When it comes to real estate, you'll never lose money.
~You know, I'm really not the romantic type.
~Having another kid is just going to complicate your life.

I wish I hadn't listened when they said...
~I think this new guy...he's the one you should marry.
~Too bad you don't look like your sister.
~You shouldn't be a writer. That's never going to work.
~A size 12? I'm sorry, we don't sell sizes that big here.
~Things like that don't happen to people like us.
~Will you marry me? (the first time)
~Don't get the VW Cabrio; it's not a responsible choice.
~The beach is too far.
~Aren't you a little too old to go dancing all night?

I'm glad I listened when they said...
~Have you heard of "Fifty Shades of Grey"?
~Will you marry me? (the second time)
~You should really start watching that new HBO show about 4 girls in NY.
~I'm telling you, a Brazilian wax will change your life.
~Let's get an RV.
~You need to get some therapy.
~Hey, you wanna apply for one of those home make-over shows?
~You really need to get a smart phone of some type...
~If you like tequila, you should try Patron.
~Let's just throw a bag in the back of the Jeep and take off to the Keys.
~You should go away for the weekend with your girlfriends one day.
~Don't wash your hair so often.
~Why don't we move in together?
~You should try on the skinny jeans.
~If you let me, I'll take care of you.

This was the last topic for Momalom's Five for Five series. I can't believe that after barely blogging once a week, I managed to get out five consecutive days AND read other blogs and comment. Thanks, Jen and Sarah, for doing this again, for giving me a little kick in the ass, and reminding me what it feels like when this place is more towards the top of my To-Do List.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Age: Turning Forty and F*cking Fabulous

I'm turning 40 this year. Forty. It's weird. I didn't think it would be. But it is. I don't feel forty, although, really, what does forty feel like? I keep reminding myself: Gwen Stefani...isn't she like 42? And SJP...way over 40. Jen Aniston. So yeah, forty is still super hot and cool and hip, although really, I know: perhaps using celebrities as a comparison as I approach this major milestone is not the most brilliant or rational of ideas.

When I saw today's Five For Five topic, all I could think was: 40.

Although I will still be in my 30s for more than half a year, it is looming.

I debated just posting a bunch of images that have been floating around in my mind: the perfect party dress, the perfect pair of shoes, me in the perfect party dress and perfect pair of shoes surrounded by my homies in Vegas...

Yep, I decided a little alcohol, some friends, my Hubby, and a room at the Bellagio will soften the blow.

If I'm gonna turn 40 (before any of my friends and Hubby, mind you), I figure I should do it Big. Grand. Loud. Over-the-top. Tacky, even. And preferably while holding a martini in a feathered cocktail dress.

I'm not really sure what the big deal is. I never really used to have an issue with age. But then again, I've never been 40. And it's not like I'm hiding it: if my friends didn't think it was waaaaaay too tacky, I would make everyone wear shirts proclaiming: "Liz is turning 40 and she is fuckin' fabulous." That's the theme, anyways. Yep. I have a theme. And before you think I'm totally nuts, seeing as it's in December, for heaven's sake, just know that the airplane tickets are already booked. So see? I'm not getting that ahead of myself. I'm not obsessing that much. So it's official: I guess if I have a non-refundable ticket (along with several others that will be flying over there with me), then I guess I really am turning 40.

So you'd think, as much of a ponderer as I am, that I would already have plans...big, big plans for my new decade. Goals, adventures...  But nope, I haven't gotten past the shoes and the party dress. So as of right now, I'm gonna ignore the weird posing-questions-about-life-and-wrinkles-and-mortality-stage and just call this year's birthday an excuse for one hell of a party. I'll worry about the rest while recovering from my hangovers.

Vegas, babyyyyyyyyyyyyy.......!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Day in Pictures

"This is your wake-up call. Get your ass out of bed and go to the gym!"

After lacing up my sneakers, had to do another quick fever check...
boys have been sick for 4 days now. Haven't slept though the night (any of us!) since Friday!

Off to work for to Grandma's for one with fever (you'd never know it by the smile, huh?),
and off to school for the no-fever boy (notice the toilet paper roll for nose-blowing)

Commuting in Miami: sunny skies, lotsa traffic

My "other" children

So much for the no-fever kid...
the benefits of working at the same school your kid attends?
You get to snuggle with him during your lunch break when his teacher calls to tell you he's running a temperature.
Then you get to smuggle him into your classroom and let him sit and have a snack and catch up on homework.

How do I get through a long meeting at the end of an even longer week of state testing? I sit with My Girls and... Hubby. I KNOW...I actually work with some of my favorite people. I'm crazy-lucky.

What did the Amazon Fairy bring me?
Answer: Smut books #2 & 3! (I'm not proud, but I can't say I'm ashamed either!)
Which motivated me to...
take a five minute break with my fave beer & try to finish up guilty pleasure  #1!

Fevers don't excuse homework,  huh? (Toilet paper roll still there..ya think we should buy some Kleenex?)

When Hubby surprised me by bringing home this plant, I squealed so much (I had wanted one of these for a looooooong time), the boys decided to kiss it to show their appreciation.
Our version of reupholstering for our new (old) RV
(more on the RV in a future post...)

Dinner Aftermath

"Holy crap!" We're on TV!


*This post was on the topic of "Pictures," and was part of Momalom's 5 for 5.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


the words
like the cliche
of the cup
that is
they roll right off
my tongue and escape
out into the air
where they can
be misconstrued
totally understood

the words
rush around
inside my head
against each other
against my brain
against my life
to get out

the words
sit there
amongst themselves
which are worthy
which are right
which are precise

the words
have had enough
they are done
and they flicker
until they are
blown out

Visit MOMALOM to join in the discussion on the topic of "Words," their second topic in the FIVE FOR FIVE SERIES, and then visit Extraordinary Ordinary to check out her JUST WRITE SERIES!

Monday, April 23, 2012


I have to start by admitting that I am vvvveeeeerrrrryyyyyy hesitant about joining Momalom's 5 for 5 this time around. I'm pretty scared I'm not going to follow through this week, and I can't not beat myself up when I don't finish something I started. But, what the hell? Let's give it a shot. Maybe it will be the kick in the ass I need to get back to blogging more than once a week, and more importantly, making the time to read other blogs I've been seems I am always most inspired when I can find the time to do just that. Plus, I've been quite curious about this whole "Just Write" thing. See, that's another thing I find nearly impossible: just write? Without a specific plan? A purpose? A point? An inspiration? I don't know know about that. So, if today's 5 for 5 topic were "daring" or "risk" or "just for shits and giggles," I'd be spot on right now.

But the topic is change. And as I thought about it, the first thing that came into my mind is how this blog has changed from its first days.

I created this space to give me a place to vent about my life as a new mom. Although I knew other topic (running! diets! sleep! Carrie Bradshaw!) would occasionally pop in, I mostly wrote about my life after kids... how my life had CHANGED because of these little I was trying to NOT CHANGE too much because of these little boys... It was all about the "but then she had kids" part.

And then, recently, I was reviewing some of my recent posts, and very few of them had anything at all to do with motherhood or my boys. I had posts about landscaping and mortgages and Paris and the beach and how fucked up I really am, but only a scattered few here and there about the actual reason this blog was created.

So my blog has changed, for sure.

But that's because my life has changed, again, too.

Just like everything swayed and shifted and toppled when the kids came along, now everything has morphed again: life is not what it used to be when they were babies, when we were new at this, when we were all getting to know each other, when we were all figuring this all out.

Now, life just is.

The boys are just a part of it.
There's no longer resistance from us.
Hubby and I are most definitely Mama and Daddy, but still, again, also Just Us. We don't have to fight against it all so much. We don't have to find our new normal. This is our normal now.

And it's good. There are days that are definitely harder. But for the most part, I don't feel that angst to blog about the spilled milk (literally) or the sleepless nights or the (GOD FORBID!) potty training. There is definitely drama and frustrations, but...I don't know...maybe I'm so used to them now that I'm not so inspired to write about them all the time. And really, I've come to realize that when it comes to parenting, there is always plenty to complain about (and plenty to celebrate), but after they are no longer teeny tiny babies and after they are real actual people with real actual personalities and opinions, they become a part of life as you know it. You all become one. The two of us really did become the four of us. And so, the "but then she had kids" part is really just where it all began.

P.S. Check out my previous post...our "Desperate Landscapes" episode is finally airing this week! YAY! Check out the CHANGE our front yard went through.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Desperate Landscapes: Look! We're on the cable guide! (UPDATED)

Yep, that's us! We're the couple with a love for Key COOL is that?!?

Back in January, I told you all about our front yard makeover, courtesy of the Do-It-Yourself Network.

I promised  I would let you know when the episode would air, so here it is: this Wednesday, April 25th at 9:00 pm on the DIY channel. I have to admit that I'm a tad hesitant to make this announcement, seeing as I am sorta worried that I will look like a total and complete dork on TV. My friends can attest to the fact that I usually am quite bubbly and energetic and outspoken when I don't have cameras on me. Now give me a $30,000 yard make-over, bring over some cameras, hook me up to a microphone pack a la reality show style, and I'm gonna ham it up.

It seemed like a really good idea at the time.

Now, I'm a little worried.

So, if you watch the show and totally love us, then it was an accurate portrayal of who we are as people in "real life."
If you watch the show and think we're (especially me) obnoxious, over-the-top dorks, then they totally did not depict us accurately.

P.S. I got "official approval" from the producer that I could post some teaser shots of the befores and afters:

The dreaded wall...which always posed the question amongst the neighbors: "WTF is that there for, anyways??" Sorry, all, it was there when we bought the joint!

The driveway was our first big attempt to fix it took up pretty much every penny we had saved for a trip last summer, and then some. Unfortunately, once the driveway was done, we had some "safety issues." See pic below for what the boys referred to as "the mountain biking area" or as I called it "The bungee spot." You have no idea how many times I tried to get into my car in my stilettos and walked too near the edge of the driveway and almost broke an ankle.

And then there was the view out of our living room window...which was pretty much the same as the one out of our bedroom. Inspiring, huh?

Sweet, huh? I used to put disclaimers on our party invitations to "withhold judgment" of our home until they came in and saw the inside and the backyard!

No more disclaimers needed now...!
And now...a living room (and bedroom) with a view!
Thanks again to all of our friends and family who took a day out of their lives and jobs to dig in our front yards, carry heavy stuff, and paint our house! And thanks to the producer and DIY for selecting us!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sometimes less is more (or: Can I please get a break from parenting?)

My children think the floors are wet.

I have just spent 3 hours cleaning my house: the full blown kind, with mopping and scrubbing mildewy corners of showers and replacing all the area rugs. And now? Now I am practically hiding in my bedroom, having "dinner" (don't feel bad; I looooovvvvve guac, salsa, and beer), and letting my boys think the floors are still wet, and therefore, they are required to stay in their room.

So far, it's worked out pretty well. I mean, I was able to open the beer, guacamole, and salsa, and start this post. I will let you know as I proceed how it all turns out.

So is this what life comes down to when you're a parent? (I say "parent," since really, I must admit, that I am one of the BLESSED ones to have a husband who is more of a mother than I am, so I'm guessing he does this sorta thing, too, except I suspect he does it in the bathroom, claiming a stomach ache and reading his Men's Health magazines.) We steal a moment here and there, hoping and praying with bated breath that it will extend to a couple of minutes...then five...then--dare we?--15? And before you know it maybe you have read the whole article on how to have killer abs and build your biceps after 40, or you have completed a full draft of a blog post.

It's definitely gotten easier. Overall, we can't complain. We just gave away the big step stool for the bathroom. It is amazing how ecstatic it can make a couple to toss the tall one and leave only the short little Elmo step. Having two boys who can reach the sink, either on flat feet, tippy-toes, or a squat little step? Glorious.

Because for us, it means less.

Less times we will have to go and help Aidan Kai brush his teeth. Less times we will have to stop mid-kitchen-clean-up post-dinner to help him reach his toothbrush. Less of the constant demands that little ones bring.

Okay, now I am really full-out lying here. Ben just called "Mama? Can we come now?" and I responded with "In a few minutes. It's still drying." If it weren't for this Heineken, I'd feel really, really guilty. Thanks to this Heineken, I only feel a little bit guilty. Two more chips, and I GOTTA run a bath...

So I'll go ahead and tell you to please refrain from commenting on how I'm going to miss these I'm going to wish I could do more, instead of less.

I know.

I have written about that, too. For real. Look around.

But today, right now, I am more about the less.

I've been wondering lately why I lose my patience so easily. Last night, in fact, I dreamt that I slapped Ben 3 times in public for doing the wrong thing, repeatedly and harshly. And my dad was there, and he was just like: "Wow, you are just ruthless."

Intermission: Okay, dinner instead of baths. 2 bowls of heated up spaghetti leftovers and some Hi-C, and I'm back. Of course, now I have to go back to the beginning and reread everything, because I have no recollection where the hell I was. That's the thing with parenting, too: your life is in a constant state of interruption (at least for the first few years, before they stop talking to you altogether, according to what I hear from my friends with teenagers, and yes, I know that I will probably be blogging about how much easier it was when they were little and how much I miss my children talking to me) because your main purpose and responsibility in life is them.

But the thing with my lack of's just that it never seems to stop. I am always packing lunches or practicing flashcards or counting to 3 or using reverse psychology so someone will eat a piece of chicken. And if you know me, you know there is ALREADY a whole lot of noise in my head as it is. My head NEVER shuts down. So put that all together with the noise of work, life, laundry, and kids: it's explosive.

I realized while I was driving home alone today, windows open, radio blaring, that I used to do this thing to drown out the noise. I had totally forgotten about it until today. On those days when work got to be too much or life was a little too complicated, I would get in the car and do what I found myself doing today: drive with the music so loud, that I could no longer hear the sound of my own voice--or anyone else's--inside my head. By the time I got home, I felt significantly more clear-headed. It was as if I was allowing myself, for that brief period of time in the car, to block everything out: no plans, no worries, no thoughts, no stress, just my music and the wind. And it worked. But now, it is extremely rare that at least one of my kids isn't in the car with me, or, as is even more often the case, the whole family.

"Mama can I have more cheese I already ate some spaghetti can I have more cheese I'm tired." All one sentence. All one thought. I'm off again, probably forgetting my own thoughts while I'm grabbing another serving of my youngest's favorite version of protein: sliced cheese. Don't worry: the pediatrician approved it.

So yeah, there really isn't too many opportunities to drown out the noise anymore. And even when I get a chance to, the minute the volume on the radio is turned down, the volume at home is turned up. And I feel like I'm always on call.

Sometimes, during phases like this, I find myself counting the days of the month. Surely, there MUST be a valid reason for my shortness, my general grouchiness, the resentment that can threaten to creep in,  the desperate need for solitude. If it's caused by something hormonal, then it's not really my fault, right? It's not that I'm a bad mom. It's not that I don't love my life. It's not me. And sometimes, the calendar happens to fall on the right day, and I let myself off the hook. But other times...

Crisis! Aidan Kai ate allllll the pineapple. Ben is NOT happy. Grapes serve as substitute. Followed by 5 SourPatch candies each, half of which end up scattered all over my newly clean floor.

Ben: "Look, Mommy, when I scrape my fork on my teeth is sounds like a sword!"
Aidan Kai: "Buuuuuttttt I don't waaaaaannnnnttt to brush my teeeeeeeth."
Me: "Ben, stop scraping your teeth with metal. Aidan, no teeth brushing, no bubble bath."

...but other times, I can't peg it on female bullshit.
I can make up all kinds of other excuses, but the bottom line is that sometimes I just want to hide in my room and drink a beer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If I have to be honest...

I'm not sure
was for me

I'm not sure
I'm very good
at it

I feel most alive
when I am leaving

driving away

leaving them behind
for a few hours


away from my life



no disciplining or
enforcement of truth-telling or
homework or
scattered toy pieces

and then
I look at them

they do something
that thing
they do
each one
and my heart leaps
and sinks
because I think
there is no way
I deserve them

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Solar Powered

My love affair with the beach began in the womb.

My parents ended up in Chicago after fleeing their native Cuba, post-Castro. I now understand how difficult it must have been for my mom all those years: not understanding the language being spoken around her, hating the freezing winters, raising a daughter in a new country, longing for the days she had spent under tropical palms on the beaches of Varadero.


That has always been the word she uses when referring to those winters. My dad must have felt the same way. The only difference was that he was working day in and day out to make ends meet in this new country, to keep my mother at home "safe" (so very Latin Macho, but that was the culture and the generation), to provide for his daughter. And on top of all of that, he was the one who had to shovel the snow.

How did they manage to keep their sanity?

They'd save all year long, and every single July, they (along with the rest of the tiny family they had there with them) would fly to Florida, where they would spend 15 glorious days on Miami Beach...under the tropical palms...just like their "olden' days."

There I am. In that picture. My mom was about 4 months pregnant with me. (Funny, how when I was pregnant, they freaked out a little when I just drove to the grocery store, but there they were, flying across the country to get some sun.)

And here I am, the following year..! (Funny, how when I'd take my own babies to the beach for the day, my parents kept worrying that maybe the water was too cold or the sun was too hot or they were too little.)

And the trips kept happening, every year, until I turned 5 and the whole (tiny) family moved to Miami permanently when my dad got what they had so deserved after all the years of sacrifice and hard work: a job offer under year-round sunny skies (and in a mostly Spanish-speaking neighborhood to boot!).

I've heard the story of the year when they refused to cancel the trip, even though at seven months I had a raging fever and ended up with a rash all over after playing on the beach all day. Turned out to be mumps, I hear. Let's notice the pattern here: when my kids have a cold, my parents completely wig out if I let them jump in our pool in the dead of summer, but back then...? What? Baby Liz has the mumps? Chicken pox? A raging fever? That's okay, she'll be fine. The sun is good for her! The ocean water will clear it all out! Besides, we have reservations at the cabaret on Ocean Drive later...

And the sunburns...oh, the sunburns. Surely, if I end up with skin cancer, it will have been from these first few years. SPF? Are you kidding me? This was the 70's! We  had Solarcaine! There are albums full of old photographs where we are all standing with our arms away from our bodies, lest we make skin-to-skin contact in any way that was not absolutely necessary. I actually remember the searing pain on the tops of my shoulders where the bright pink was neatly broken in half by the Chicago-white line of my bathing suit strap.

And once we moved here? Every single weekend that my dad did not have to work, we would pack up and head out to the same exact beach where we had spent all those years. My mom playing Kadima with me, my dad messing with the seaweed, my sister pouring baby oil on her skin for that perfect golden high school glow (we had now progressed from the Solarcaine post-beach to actually helping our skin cook itself throughout the day). The best days were the ones when we would get there mid-morning and not leave until it was getting dark. An entire day at the beach. That's what we did.

And now? It's still what we do. But now the family has grown a bit.
There we are...our now-becoming-annual Mother's Day tradition. My parents in the middle, surrounded by their not quite as tiny family: my sister with her husband and "kids," me and my little ones, Hubby, his sister and her daughters, and my in-laws. All day. All of us. Same frickin' beach.

My boys are turning out to be beach bums.
I guess, much like my parents with me, we haven't given them much of a choice.

And now, it's that time of year here in sunny South Florida, the time when there is that slight shift: our version of Spring suddenly turns, from one week to the next, into a full blown high 80's pseudo-summer. The long sleeved shirt you wore just a couple of weeks ago to work suddenly seems incredibly warm and impossible to consider. And closed shoes? No, thanks. And people everywhere are already complaining: Oh my gaaawwwwdddd, it's already sooooo hot, what will it feel like in July? (The answer is: what is always feels like here in July; why do you seem surprised?)  My car is already like a mild steam bath when I get into it after work. You can feel the heat radiating up off of the asphalt in the grocery store parking lots.

And I love it.

This is my time of year...the time right before summer. The time when I know that over the next few months, I will spend more time in flip-flops than in heels. More time in shorts than in jeans. More time at the beach than indoors.


Just like my parents.

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a glamour girl. I'm partially known for my stilettos. My make-up drawer could pass for a beauty counter. And I love me some high-end fashion. Sit me at a hoity-toity bar and order me a Cosmopolitan (Grey Goose only, please!), and I'm a pretty happy girl. But I am never happier than on the beach...the salt water (okay, and some leave-in conditioner, too, I admit) making my hair all va-va-vavoom-y, the sand sticking to my brightly-colored toenails, my cheeks and shoulders feeling slightly burned (I have upgraded to SPF 30 these days, but no matter what you do, 8 hours on the beach is still 8 hours on the beach). Those days where we get there early and stay until just before it gets dark....when we go home feeling exhausted and replenished at the same time.

While everyone around me is melting in the infamous Miami heat, I am coming alive. I'm the one turning my face slightly up to the sun while pushing my cart in the grocery store parking lot, my cart filled with the snacks and drinks for the upcoming weekend. Cause for this glamorous beach bum, the only thing better than a Grey Goose Cosmo is an ice cold beer on the beach.

Cheers, Mom and Dad!