Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm Seeing a Theme . . .

Sometimes it's nice to spend a lazy Sunday at home, in our PJs, just hanging out. Today is one of those days here at our house.

Eager to find something to do inside, Livie promptly found some paper and chalk. Olivia likes doing creative projects to keep herself occupied. Thus far, she has completed a number of chalk drawings already, most of which consisted of storm clouds, rain, and "Princess Heart" (uh, that would be Olivia as she's wearing a crown) standing underneath all those huge, blue, falling drops.

Today, though, Daddy also had a good idea.

Long ago, when we were first married (or maybe sometime just before we'd gotten married), Andrew had bought a 3D "puzzle" consisting of wooden dinosaur "bones." We thought it was cool, this T-Rex skeleton replica.

However, we've yet to put it together.

That is, until today.

It's almost kinda funny that for years now, it's been in its original cardboard box, just waiting for us to assemble it, making the move with us (always in its box) as we went from military assignment to military assignment all across the country. After each move as we unpacked, we'd find the box and think we need to put this together!

It's certainly had a long journey. We'd bought it in North Carolina. It had stayed in its box, and ended up heading to the greater Boston area in our household goods. Then to Alamogordo, New Mexico. Now it's here with us in east-central Iowa. 

So Daddy's great idea was to have Livie help him put it together. She LOVED the idea of being his assistant!

Here are some photos of Olivia, the potential paleontologist as she's having fun assisting her Daddy. They worked hard putting together this well-traveled T-Rex skeleton. (Oh, and please excuse our messy den - organized spaces have a short life span when combined with a 4-year-old and a Sunday at home!):

Here is the new paleontologist as she happily lends a helping hand.

Helping Daddy as he puts on a leg "bone"!

 "Look! I found another bone! Mommy, take a picture!"

 The "paleontologist" is sorting out the "bones" she found.

 The skeleton and Olivia are the same size. She was very happy to be the same size as a T-Rex! 

And here is the "theme" I thought of today as I watched Olivia get excited about T-Rex "bones" . . . at preschool recently, Olivia (the potential paleontologist) wrote the word "scientist":


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yellow Rose of . . . New Mexico?

Yep. We had our own yellow (and pink) roses in New Mexico.

Here are a few photos of our roses in our back yard in Alamogordo, NM. 
 Photo date on all photos: 29 Apr 2007 







Memory Lane Friday (a day late) - A Sporting Event

Okay, I'll play along; I like the idea of Memory Lane Fridays.

I was thinking about what I'd post yesterday and then the next thing I know, it's mid-day Saturday! Oops! Next week, I'll be sure to post (or try to post) on Friday evening after Livie has gone to bed. ;)

Let's see. There are a couple of sporting events that I was thinking about writing about, but I think I've narrowed it down to the one really FUN memory.

Back in the day, I used to be an avid equestrian. I really didn't care much about anything but riding . . . except for maybe photography, art class, and what book we'd get to read next in English. (I was . . . and still am . . . a big ol' bookworm.)

Anyway, while I attended Culver Girls Academy (CGA), I was on the Varsity Jumping Team. We usually had a blast going to various shows in the area. And we'd typically have the Culver Invitational Horse Show (a home show for us) in the spring, in the big outdoor arenas across the street from the riding hall. Riders from around the area (Indiana, Michigan, maybe Illinois, and perhaps other places) would participate in this show. And a horse show judge would come in to fulfill judging duties over the weekend for this show.

It's actually this show that I'm thinking about and fondly remembering - the May 1989 show during my senior year at Culver: just about a month before graduating. I'd actually been on the CGA Varsity Polo team this particular semester. But since I'd been on the Varsity Jumping Team since the spring semester of my freshman year, I had a tremendous urge to ride in Culver's Invitational Horse Show one final year. This would probably be my last big show before heading off to college and not being able to ride regularly, if at all.

So about a month or so before the show, I spoke to my polo coach and told her I was thinking about riding in the show; would she have a problem if I rode with the Varsity Jumpers for that week prior to the show, and then compete that whole weekend? I was so excited when she said go for it.

Meanwhile, I was still going to polo practice, having a blast picking up a new sport. After we tacked up our ponies and headed to the arena, I'd mount up and warm up without stirrups, picking up my stirrups only when we started scrimmaging.

See, I was riding as much as I could without stirrups to get my legs super tight, like steel. I knew I'd be riding in Adult Equitation classes for the first time, and I wanted to be ready.

Oh, a bit of an explanation for those of you who are not familiar with equestrian terms: riders in equitation classes are judged on their form (correct posture while mounted), and how they handle their horses (the more invisible your cues to your horse are, the better). Plus, since I'd already turned 18 in November of 1988, I was no longer able to ride in the Junior equitation classes - it would be Adult classes from here on out.

And of course, I was still practicing with the CGA Equestriennes (the CGA Honor Organization team that performs musical rides). These practices occurred after jumping and polo practices were over. So when I rode with the Equestriennes, I'd ride the whole practice without stirrups.

So after my "show preparation week" with the Varsity Jumpers, I was ready. And I was excited. I really enjoyed showing.

After a full morning of showing, it was now late Saturday afternoon - the first day of showing would be over within a few hours.

Finally, it was time to head into the ring for my first ever Adult Equitation class. I was riding Sir Ebon, a kinda fuzzy horse who was so incredibly smooth to ride - he had gaits that truly felt like you were on a rocking horse. Nice and smoooooth.

Once all the riders were in the ring, the judge had us go through our paces, including taking our feet out of the stirrups and crossing them over the the fronts of our saddle (so they wouldn't bang against our horses' sides each time they took a stride, and probably to ensure no one's feet "accidentally" went back into them prematurely). Since I'd been practicing so much without stirrups, this was a piece of cake. I could've gone on and on without stirrups, even smiling at the judge as Sir Ebon and I trotted past her, neither of us tired at all.

One of my riding instructors (Lt Michael Stahl) was standing by the ring, watching. At one point, he said, "You're doing well. Keep it up and you should place high!"

But, since riding without stirrups does take a lot of practice and is a lot of work to maintain, there is only so long a judge can have a class ride without them. So we eventually got our stirrups back.

Finally, after the judge had seen all she needed to see, all the riders lined up in the center of the ring, with our numbers (on our backs) facing the judge.

It seemed like we were there forever. Finally, after what felt like HOURS (but was only a few minutes - 5-10, tops), the announcer stated over the loudspeaker that we had the results. A lot of times, horse shows will have ribbons for 1st through 6th places. I've occasionally seen bigger shows having ribbons through 8th place. This show had ribbons through 6th. And a person (one of the horse show volunteers) with all six ribbons was standing near the middle of the ring, ready to pass them out to the riders who earned them.

And then the announcer started with 6th place, stating something to the effect of "In 6th place, number __(whatever it was)" and then saying that rider's name. That rider walked up to the volunteer, received his or her ribbon, and exited the ring.

Then 5th place . . . I think I was holding my breath, waiting to hear my number. When the number was announced . . . it was somebody else's.

Waiting for the 4th place announcement . . . more breath holding, and more disappointment that it wasn't me.

When it came to the 3rd place announcement, I was thinking that it was altogether possible that I was in the top three, especially since Lt. Stahl had thought I was doing well enough to place high.

But when they announced the 3rd place rider, it still wasn't me. I took a deep breath, trying to hold back disappointment, and telling myself not to worry about it. That I'd be in other non-equitation classes at this show, other types of classes where I usually performed much better.

So now it was time for the red ribbon - 2nd place. I held my breath, looking at the volunteer with the red 2nd place ribbon and that blue ribbon I wanted so badly. The volunteer was a fellow Culver student; if I remember correctly, I think it was Rosann, a fellow Equestriennes teammate and good friend. She was standing there looking at us, a bunch of riders still left, but only two ribbons remained . . .

. . . and then I couldn't believe it! 2nd place was announced and it still wasn't my number. Suddenly, just before the announcer said the rider's name, I had a panicked butterfly sensation in my stomach! What the heck WAS my number?! I suddenly couldn't remember! Was it me? No, it wasn't. Was it?

Nope. During my momentary confusion, the announcer said someone else's name.

And then I was really disappointed.

But then the 1st place number was called while I once again held my breath, feeling that familiar disappointment again, and wishing it were just all over already . . . and when the number was announced, it was the number I'd kept repeating over and over in my head! It was my number! But I was so surprised, I didn't move at first, not sure if it had really been my number.

Then I heard the announcer say my name, and I was filled with relief and disbelief! I just couldn't believe I'd won! First of all, wow! I'd won an equitation class! That rarely happened (I usually did well in other types of classes). And secondly, it was my first Adult Equitation class! Double wow!

The Varsity Jumping coach, Capt. Chris Kerner, a long time instructor of mine while I was at Culver, was sitting near the gate with the biggest grin I'd ever seen as I rode past. Another instructor, Ms. Leslie Gordon (the Equestriennes and JV Jumping coach), saw his big ol' smile, teasing him about it. And Capt. Kerner's response? "Well, what else would you do if your kid was the best!" That kind of compliment meant as much as the blue ribbon.

I was so excited about this win; it seemed like an unlikely victory and I really appreciated it. After this first day of showing was over, and I'd cared for Sir Ebon and returned him to his stall, I was walking back to my dorm in the twilight. It was during this walk while I was replaying the events of the day, that I came upon one of my English instructors, Mr. Wiley. He saw me in my riding clothes, and asked how I was doing at the show. I was so excited that I just blabbed on and on about the day. He laughed, smiled big, and congratulated me on how well I'd done. I think he must've been surprised because I was usually much more reserved during class, not getting quite so animated, even if we were talking about a book or story I really loved.

As we said our "I'll see you on Monday in class" and goodbyes, I enjoyed the remaining walk back to my dorm, that wonderful spring evening after an exciting day.

(Oh, and by the way . . . I think I still have that blue ribbon somewhere, tucked away with other very important mementos. LOL!)

Friday, February 26, 2010

verify claim token


Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm Thinking of Going Back

A few months ago, I was given a gift - one that allowed me to travel to sunny, dusty, hot, wonderful Mexico, Arizona, and El Paso, TX, places I would gladly visit again, if I had the opportunity.

Let me give you a little background first. See, I spent the summer of 1993 at Gettysburg College participating in summer theater. There are a few of us from that summer spent in one of the nation's most historic locations who are now friends on Facebook.

Months ago, one of them, Molly, would occasionally have a status update that caught my curiosity. She was on a journey that sounded so fantastic, I desperately wanted to participate, too.

However, it wasn't a physical journey; she was actually taking a trip through an amazing book called The Hummingbird's Daughter, written by Luis Alberto Urrea. Her mom had read this book, enjoyed it, and passed it along, sure that she would also enjoy it. 

When she'd post "Hummingbird" related status updates, I would think, Hmmm, I'm not sure what she's talking about exactly, but it sounds like I want to be a part of it, too. So one day I asked her what she was reading, and finally I had both the title and author's name.

She also said that while she was in the midst of reading it, she thought of me, absolutely positive that I would become as engrossed in the book as she'd been. Partly because of the characters' cultures, their language, and possibly the locations . . . if I remember correctly, these were some of the reasons she thought of me and why she thought I'd get into the book.

Excited about reading a book someone thought I'd love, I promptly went online to see if my local library had it. I was so disappointed when I found out they did not. But I could do an inter-library loan. Sure, it would cost some money and take an undisclosed amount of time before I received it, but there was hope that, before 2009 was ushered into the history books, I'd have a copy to read.

Fortunately for me, I'd made a comment on Facebook about having to wait for this book that Molly enjoyed so tremendously. She promised me that she'd send me her copy, as she'd recently finished reading it. So I waited, anxiously.

Finally, I received it!

And I eagerly jumped into it. For the next few weeks, I was intertwined with these characters - Teresita, Don Tomás, Huila, Don Lauro . . . I was thoroughly enjoying being a part of their lives.

Now, I'm not going to talk about specific details of the book itself, but rather, the thoughts and memories it evoked in me. There was something absolutely magic about it, and not necessarily just the mysticism involved in the storyline itself. I mean something else.

For example, I'd read about what they ate for breakfast . . . the warmed tortillas, the huevos con chorizo, beans . . . and I was transported back to my grandmother's kitchen in El Paso, TX. I remembered the smells - that fabulous, delicious scent filling the house with the hope that our delectable breakfast would be ready soon.

I remembered a discussion in the book about flour tortillas versus corn tortillas, and I thought about how I love flour tortillas, warmed, slightly toasty, with huevos con chorizo . . . and prefer the corn variety with my Oma's refried beans.

This food, this Mexican food that I equate with my grandmother's cooking, her home, her endless hospitality - this food is something I always find delicious (if prepared properly - none of that fake Tex-Mex they TRY to pass off as "Mexican food"). And it was something I craved when I was pregnant with Olivia. It makes me miss my home in El Paso with my grandparents, my homes in Arizona and New Mexico, the lands of turquoise, hot, dry heat, and natural beauty. 

There was talk in the book about javelinas, coyotes, arroyos, paloverde trees, and I was immediately back in Tucson, AZ, where I was stationed for two years. While living in the great state of Arizona, I'd occasionally see coyotes in an arroyo while on a  trail ride with Cotton, my Appendix Quarter Horse; once in a while, I'd see them if I were driving somewhere at dawn or dusk. They seemed to come out in packs in the twilight hours. And I'd see javelinas on the rare chance I had the opportunity to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

So many other things in the book seemed so real as I read through page after page. One night, I even dreamed I was in a dream-scene from the book! Now that was fun!

And this is what made this book so magical, so wonderful to me. It was a literary trip to lands that I love, the Southwest, my onetime home, and to Mexico, a place I've visited long ago, but would gladly visit again.

I read this book, sent to me after Molly finished it, on the promise I'd pass it along to someone else who wanted to read it. I did that; I loaned it to my Mom. However, she had none of the magical experiences I had with it. She has since finished it and given it back to me.

And because I loved the magic of this book, and it's once again in my possession, I'm thinking about going on it's adventure again. Maybe not too soon, but maybe around springtime. Just maybe.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the Blink of an Eye

Four years ago today, Livie was born in Concord, MA. Four years ago today, I was on mandatory bedrest (as I had been since mid-January). Four years ago today, it was a Friday and I was relieved of my bedrest temporarily so I could head off to the Labor & Delivery department; this was for my semiweekly non-stress test (NST). I had a standing appointment every Tuesday and Friday at 11 AM. I was usually in and out within 60-90 minutes and then back home, and back in bed.

But not this day four years ago. Not this day, the day I was 37 weeks, 3 days, full-term.

It was an icy day in Concord, MA. Kinda sunny. But  very cold, and definitely a New England winter's day.

So I went in for my NST, thinking I'd be home by afternoon. However, I ended up staying for the next few days because I ended up needing a c-section.

And Livie the "Bossy Boss" was born!!

Now, because today is the middle of the week, we had her 4th Birthday Party this past Saturday, the 20th. Scroll down a few posts, and you'll see the post about her party and the photos of her celebrating.

However, she did take treats to preschool/Pre-K today. I picked up some yummy frosted cookies from Jules' Bakery in Marion, IA so she could have special treats on her actual birthday.

Here is a sample of her treats. They have balloons on them in frosting!

And here she was four years ago today:

And in the blink of an eye, she is 4 years old! Here are a couple photos of her on the day she is officially a 4-year-old! Here she is in her "Birthday Girl" bling-encrusted shirt!


Happy Birthday, Pretty Little Itty Bitty Livie!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Change in Homesickness?

I usually feel homesick or saudade for New Mexico. But today, I've been kinda longing for Chicago, my other home.

This morning, I was talking to Livie's preschool teacher, who'd been in the Chicagoland area over the weekend. I was telling her about all the fun things to do in the Chicago area, and she said that the next time she and her family are there, they want to do some fun touristy stuff. (They'd been in town for a relative's graduation up at the Great Lakes Naval Station, and had been busy doing family stuff.)

So I was thinking a lot about Chicago itself and the Chicagoland area. . . how as a small child, I'd lived in Willmette, back when I was a single child before my younger siblings were born. I remembered how I'd gone to Lake Forest College, in Lake Forest, IL and all the fun stuff I did while there. I'd lived in Arlington Heights for a while after college, while I worked in Deerfield. Oh, I remembered a little tapas restaurant in Arlington Heights, but the name is not coming to me at the moment. I'd been there a couple times and thought it was such a nice place to eat, and had delicious food. Oh, and speaking of tapas . . . in Chicago itself, I was a fan of a tapas restaurant called Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. Yummo.

A couple favorite memories revolve around hearing a c-jazz tune by Joe Sample called "Night Flight." I remember hearing it for the first time on WNUA, the local c-jazz station. I was reading a library book (Clive Cussler's Flood Tide, if you're interested) at the time, with WNUA playing softly in the background.

Anyway, I was fascinated by that song, but I'd missed the title and artist names. But then, on a rainy autumn evening on my way to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, I'd heard it again. As I drove to the library, I enjoyed the tune, with the wiper blades swish-swishing against the windshield and the chilly rain tapping the car. It was still playing when I got to the car, so I sat in the parking lot hoping to catch who the artist was and what the song was called. And again, I'd missed the title and artist names - the DJ didn't come on after it was over, and another song came on right away. So I went into the library, hoping I'd hear it again soon and catch all the pertinent info.

Guess what happened when I heard it a third time? Yep, I missed what it was called, and who the artist was. But then on another night after I'd finished listening to a Blackhawks game on the radio (they'd won, by the way), I switched the station to WNUA. And I heard it again. This time, however, I heard the title and artist name! Woo hoo! And this is how I became a fan of Joe Sample. While I lived in Arlington Heights. For some reason, when I hear Joe Sample's "Night Flight," I feel like I'm home with a good book, having just heard (or watched) the Blackhawks win a game.

And since I'm a HUGE Blackhawks fan, I've been reminiscing about going to games at the United Center with my brother and his friend.We always had a lot of fun going to games, eating United Center nachos, cheering for the 'Hawks!

Oh, and I got a tattoo (the Blackhawks' logo - the one with the crossed tomahawks on the C) in Chicago: a permanent reminder of my former home. ;)

Plus, Andrew and I got married in Chicago, at Holy Name Cathedral. Beautiful place, beautiful architecture, lots of history. (And down the street from some awesome Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano's and Italian at Rosebud on Rush.)

One thing that I really miss is Lake Shore Drive at night. Beautiful! I love seeing the darkness that is Lake Michigan on the east side of LSD, and the bejeweled city on the west. Seriously, it looks like the city is wearing bling, with all the twinkling lights. Ahhh, it is a wonderful sight.

There is just SO MUCH to do and see around there.

And as a final note: There is a fellow Lake Forest College alum, Tim, who recently posted a photo of Chicago on Facebook. I just wanted to say that while I was reminiscing about Chicago all day because of Olivia's preschool teacher, his photo is what prompted me to write down some memories of my beloved Windy City.

Oh, and here are a few photos that I want to share from last year's trips back to Chicago.

The Bean (Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park) and the city:

The Bean, the clouds, the city's reflections:

Again, the Bean:


Livie's "pushing" the Bean.

The city, the river . . . 

The Hancock building, with fog swirling around . . .

The Water Tower and the Hancock Building at night . . .

Birthday photos

Livie had a blast at her birthday party! We had both sets of grandparents, her great-grandmother, the neighbors, and their two kids. Livie LOVES her neighbor friends! As promised, here are a few photos . . . 

Here's the unicorn cake. She asked for a unicorn with a pink and purple mane and tail on her cake WAY back in mid-January. She was so excited, she could barely wait to see how it turned out. It turned out great!

Here she is getting a peek of the cake earlier in the morning, before the party started. 

She's dressed for the party in her bling-encrusted "Birthday Girl" shirt and tu-tu. She's holding one of her "4th Birthday" balloons which Daddy filled with helium right before the party.

The table and balloons all ready for the party. 

She's wearing her tie-dye flower hat with bling. This was her birthday gift from Oma, her bisabuelita (great-grandmother).  She LOVES the hat.

And here she is, making a face for her Nonno (which means "grandfather" in Italian). She's doing her "Wild Thing" impression, since she loves being silly for Nonno.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm addicted!

I'm having trouble pulling myself away from the Olympics on TV. Everything from moguls (way to go Hannah Kearney!), speed skating - especially short track (congrats, Apolo Ohno!!), and of course, hockey!! I just can't get enough Olympics!! (And it will be the same in 2 years for the Summer Games . . . maybe even worse, because I'll need to watch the equestrian sports!)

I love Blackhawks hockey, so I'm obviously a big hockey fan . . . needless to say, now that the US is playing hockey against Canada, I am on the edge of  my seat! Woo hoo! It's an exciting game, and I almost can't watch!

Of course, during commercial breaks, I'm switching the channel to watch the skiers. Got to watch one US ice dancing pair, but I've missed a lot of the others. Maybe when the second period is over, I can watch some other sports for a little while.

I keep wondering how these athletes' friends and families watch this, especially the families who are in Vancouver in person. How can they stand the suspense?

Okay, there's the end of the 2nd period. So now that I've checked the other channel, I see that it's on a commercial.

This is driving me nuts. Thee are too many exciting sports on right now - hockey, skiing, ice dancing . . . what to watch?! Way too many decisions, and way too much fun, no matter the constant channel flipping.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Let's Get the Party Started!

Tomorrow is the party celebrating Olivia's 4th birthday! It hardly seems possible! Her actual birthday is next Wednesday, but in order to have everyone here, we're having the party on Saturday. She's got a unicorn birthday cake, which I picked up from the bakery today. It is just too cute!

Anyway, 4 years ago today, I was on bedrest, not realizing that in a few days, she would suddenly make her entrance like Julius Caesar - by caesarian section ;) . So there we were, just waiting to see what the future held on what would end up a frigid February day in Concord, MA.

So her paternal grandparents are here and lending a hand when possible, to help me get the house straightened for the party tomorrow.

And I'm just taking a momentary break from all the work. Andrew's getting adult refreshments for the various grandparents, uncles, neighbors, etc., as well as some soft drinks, and I've gotten the sweets (cake and ice cream - the important birthday items).

It should be a fun day for Olivia, especially since she's looking forward to seeing her maternal grandparents, great-grandmother, and the next door neighbors' kids. And I can't wait to see how she likes her gifts. We've gotten an Incredibles DVD as well as some items for her Bitty Baby. Can't wait to see what else she gets.

I will be sure to post some photos of the festivities. I hope it's a blast for her!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Felicidade

In honor of Carnaval  (also known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday) today, the day before Ash Wednesday and Lent, I just wanted to share a few clips from a couple of my favorite Brazilian movies - both of which take place during Carnaval.

The first couple are from Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus, a 1959 movie that won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film). This movie is based on that famous Greek myth telling the story of Orpheus and his love for Eurydice.

Here is a song called A Felicidade (by Antônio Carlos Joabim):

I love this song. The first line, Tristeza não tem fim; felicidade sim, is literally translated as "Sadness has no end; happiness, yes."

And here is the second very beautiful song called Manhã de Carnaval:

And from the movie Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos starring Sônia Braga and José Wilker, here's a song called O Que Sera:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh, just imagine the possibilities!

I love the Olympic commercial entitled "To Their Moms, They'll Always Be Kids."

Every time I see it, I think of all the possibilities . . .

I love the Olympics, both Winter and Summer (especially the Summer, being an equestrienne myself, but both Winter and Summer Olympics are awesome).

Of course, being February 2010, we're in the midst of the Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. So I'm definitely excited about it. So excited, I got Olivia to watch Apolo Ohno win silver in short track speed skating the other night. She was actually pretty fascinated and said she wanted to skate that fast on the ice and wear "the Beautiful Flag" on her uniform, too. She also liked women's freestyle skiing (skiing the moguls, aka "the sleeping bears"); when she saw Hannah Kearney of the United States skiing for the gold, Olivia exclaimed "Holy cow! She is doing so good! I want to do that, too!"

How fun is it to hear a young person so excited about something like this, right?!

So when I see this commercial, I think of the future and wonder if I'll be like that woman in the commercial, holding my breath as Livie competes in the Winter Olympics as a speed skater, skier, or maybe a figure skater. Or maybe in the Summer Olympics as an equestrian eventer, jumper, or dressage rider (any one of which I would have LOVED doing, as an equestrienne myself - though as a very young person, I was most drawn to the excitement of the Eventing competition, with the thrill of Cross Country and Stadium jumping).

I think of friends' and acquaintances' children in this commercial, as well. And if any one of our children is in the Olympics in the future, that woman in the commercial will be all of us rolled into one, hoping for that "small child" to be okay first and foremost, hoping against all injury, and do his or her best as a true sportsman and Olympian as he or she competes. I think of Kelly as that blonde skier in braids being interviewed. I think of Lisa's young Jack signing autographs . . . Tommy as the hockey goalie . . .  Amy's Nick as the "shaving" boy in the locker room . . . Nick or Ally as the ski jumper. And I would be as proud of them as I would be of Olivia. 

And of course, if Olivia does compete and wins a gold, I'll hope she's heeded my advice and remembers the words to our "Beautiful Song," our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," belting it out proudly. Because I'll be in the stands holding my hand over my heart, singing it at the top of my lungs, very proud of Olivia and her teammates and coaches, and all the hard work it took for them to get to the podium. And proud that she'd represent her country in such a fine manner.

Here it is, one of my favorite Olympic commercials:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Missing my New Mexico home . . .

Here are some photos that I'd love to share. I think they're beautiful. Maybe some of you will agree with me. ;) I took them when we lived in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Most of them were taken from our back yard (yes, we were very lucky to have that kind of view from our back yard and I'm thankful). And then there's one from White Sands National Monument, about a 20 minute drive from our home. White Sands is also in Alamogordo, NM (just an FYI, in case you were curious).

Here's a view of our back yard one evening, the day before summer started (and the day before our anniversary). It's a good view of the evening light that I love, and it makes me feel saudade for the southwest.
Photo date: 20 Jun 2007

A bright summer day (the day after our anniversary), with some clouds over the mountains - probably a storm brewing on the east side of the mountains. Sometimes we'd get the storm, but then again, sometimes it would stall out and not make it over the mountains to our house.
Photo date: 22 Jun 2007 

Another shot from that same day summer day; check out that cloud formation!
Photo date: 22 Jun 2007

I always loved watching storm clouds developing and hovering over the mountains. Here's a beautiful storm shot from sometime in the summer of 2007:

And here's a shot of White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico from the winter of 2007. I love the turquoise skies against the snow-white sand. Very dramatic and beautiful. I miss New Mexico.
Photo date: 19 Feb 2007

And finally, here's a winter photo of the mountains covered with snow, as seen from my backyard.
Photo date: 20 Jan 2007

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mmmmm . . .

I sure do love Mexican food. Real Mexican food. In particular, homemade Mexican food. I have no problem eating it on a regular basis - that is, if I had it readily available on a regular basis. In fact, authentic Mexican food is what I craved when I was pregnant with Olivia - especially authentic tamales, fresh guacamole, my grandmother's tacos.

Today I had the treat of walking into my mother's house and smelling homemade Mexican food - Spanish rice, enchiladas, homemade red sauce. It's making my mouth water just smelling this cooking food's deliciousness wafting all through the house.

See, my mother hired a wonderful lady, Candi, from El Paso, TX. Candi came up to my parents' house to take care of my ailing grandmother since she's here now, permanently. My grandmother has Alzheimer's and my mom is her legal guardian; it's much easier for my mom to care for her when she's not hundreds of miles away in Texas, so she's here in Iowa. Plus, she gets top notch medical care.

Anyway, Candi's here and she is making these enchiladas and Spanish rice. It smells SO good, and I'm sure it will be equally tasty.

And since I love Mexican food so much, it will be a treat to eat a homemade meal.

The only thing better than walking into my mother's house when it smells like Mexican food, is walking into my grandmother's house (her former house in El Paso where she lived for so many years with my grandfather) when she was cooking something, such as her homemade tacos, the very ones I craved when I was pregnant.

Yes, the smell of homemade Mexican food takes me back to El Paso and Mountain Walk Drive, where my grandparents lived for so long. Not only does it make me really hungry, it makes me feel that all too familiar feeling of saudade, remembering all the wonderful (and occasionally not-so-wonderful) times in that home, and knowing that it will never be that way again. Except in memories, and those of us storytellers, who keep the memories alive.
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