Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Cute Story that gets told WAY too Often

It's New Year's Eve!

Time to tell the story.  The story I tell all the time.  The story that will embarrass Paul & "Lianne" someday.

I have 2 very close girlfriends.  I am going to call them Samantha and Lisa. 

We have babies together.

First Lisa had a baby girl.  Then Sam had a baby boy.  Then Lisa had a baby boy, then I had a baby boy.  Then Sam had a baby girl and I had a baby boy.  All within the space of about 5 years.

It was so fun to get together, to scrapbook, to play. 

Then Lisa got pregnant with number 3.

So Sam and I made fun of her.

Because we're assholes sometimes.

Lisa had a baby girl and I gottta admit, she had a pretty sweet baby girl.

Life went on, Greg & I were so happy with our complete family.  Sam and Todd were so happy with their complete family.  Lisa and Jared admitted that they were not yet done.  So we made fun of them some more.

One day, we all went to a baseball game.  Someone got box seats and we had an awesome time.

Not long after, I felt strange.  It was a familiar strange. 

No.  Oh no.  No no no no no no no. No.

Yes.  The pregnancy test confirmed it.

Dammit.  I just started a new job.  I was over 40 for Chrissake.

The first person I call was Lisa.  I was in tears.

She was ecstatic.  Not in a "nyah nyah" way, in a "I'm so thrilled for you guys" way.  She rushed right over to give me a big hug because she could tell I needed one. 

The second person I called was Sam.  I left a message that went something like this:

"Sam.  I'm pregnant.  Call me"

Sam laughed her head off and then called me.  As we were chatting she casually mentioned that she wasn't feeling quite herself either.

"No", she said, "Oh no. No no no no no no no. No."

"Dude", I said, "Take a test and call me back"

She called within an hour.


I laughed and jeered, Lisa laughed and celebrated and we waited for the arrival of our two new kiddos.

Did I mention that we had the same obstetrician? 

Did I mention that Sam is also our accountant?

Lisa has her babies on nature's time, but Sam and I set appointments.  I have to have C Sections, and Sam is just a scheduler. 

The OB said we could have the babies on December 31, so we could get the tax benefit.  That was a Stimulus year too. 

On December 31, 2007, Paul Zentaro A was born.  An hour later, Lianne Rachel M was born.  The hospital put Sam and I in adjacent rooms and we celebrated the new year holding our precious miracle babies.

When Lisa announced that her fourth was on the way, Sam and I hugged her and celebrated with her.

And kept our mouths SHUT.

Happy Birthday Paul and Lianne.  We love you very much!

Yes, you have to go to Prom together

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All About "Eva"

In my last post, I told you about my friend "Eva" who is going through her own personal nightmare.

She has something called dermatomyositis.  You can google it to see the symptoms.  Web MD describes it as  "a rare inflammatory disease that causes muscle weakness and a violet-colored or dusky red skin rash."  I describe it as Living Fucking Hell.

Web MD doesn't tell you that the muscle weakness also means that you are too weak to walk. . . or to breathe.  It doesn't mention that the violet or dusky red skin rash feels like an acid burn.

I'm really pissed at dermatomyositis.

As I mentioned last post, "Eva" has counted her blessings through this whole thing.  As far as I know, she hasn't said FUCK THIS even once.  She isn't really a "Fuck This" kind of person.  So I am saying it for her.

A week ago last Thursday, she & I chatted on the phone for about 45 minutes.  We laughed and shared stories.  We planned on me taking her to lunch and a movie for the following Tuesday.  I was psyched.  She is always so fun to have lunch with. 

I bought her a journal as a Christmas present.  It's chocolate brown with purple, violet and pink circles on it.  I figured she could write down everything she is going through and then use it to write a book which will sell a million copies.  Or she could use it for grocery lists -- either way. 

We didn't make it to lunch on Tuesday.  Instead, she went to Houston to receive a chemo treatment at M.D. Anderson.  She really hoped that getting chemo would help get rid of this fucking disease.  Unfortunately, she wasn't strong enough for the chemo.

She had an awesome Christmas with her family.  She and "Tom" have 2 incredible kiddos -- "Molly" and "Evan".  "Molly" is about 9 and "Evan" is 7.  These kids have been so great with their mom -- helping around the house without being asked, and cuddling on her when she needs it.  "Eva" spent her Christmas with them and by all accounts, it was awesome.

December 26th she was in ICU on a ventilator.  As of this writing, she is still on it.

In my last post, I told you that she & I met when we were in the Junior League (JLCC).  Neither of us had kids yet.  The first year of JLCC, the provisional class spends each meeting at a different community resource, learning about areas where we might want to serve our community.  It's really cool.

One meeting we were meeting with nutritionists who were explaining the problem of childhood obesity. 

The Junior League tends to be composed of women who range from a size zero to a size 10.  I am not picking on them --they are nice people and they are my friends. It's just that "Eva" and I were hovering around the 22-24 mark. 

When you are a size 22-24 in a room full of size 6s, you tend to be self conscious when discussing childhood obesity.  At least I was.  I was a fat kid.  A really fat kid.  The kind of kid who gets sent to nutritionists to deal with my "problem".  All of those memories flooded back to me as I listened with my petite friends.  I felt gawky and morbid as hell. 

During her presentation, one of the nutritionists affectionately referred to her patients as "Chubbos".  The other ladies tittered. 

"Eva" looked at me and said "How insulting".

Here I was feeling like a circus freak and feeling guilty for being fat.  Eva had the presence of mind to be insulted.

Because insulting is the perfect word. 

This nutritionist is trying to help these kids.  But she didn't respect them enough to keep from calling them names behind their backs.   She didn't mean to be hurtful.  She just didn't think.  She didn't know what it is like to be a fat kid and to be called names.

I know what that is like.  And so does "Eva".

Instead of being self conscious and uncomfortable, "Eva" brought the insult to the nutritionist's attention.  She did it gently and kindly, instead of angrily and defensively.  She used it as a teachable moment.

That was in the year 2000. 

"Eva" is handling this illness with class and courage, but she's always had guts.  She's always had self respect and she's always seen the best in people.

In the year 2000, "Eva" gave me the courage to start standing up for myself. 

I never told her that. 

As soon as she is able to have visitors, I am going to go tell her. 

Pray for her, OK?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Wishes

I am feeling so grateful this Christmas.

Hubby got a great new job.  It's filled with promise and new challenges.

I'm in the best shape of my life.

My boys are wonderful -- funny, smart, and truly kind.

I have wonderful friends.  You know how you spend time with someone, and when they leave you think to yourself "I am so blessed to have her/him/them in my life?  I feel that way about dozens of people.

We are all healthy and happy.

Thank you God.

I have one wish.

It's for one of my dear friends.  I'm going to call her Eva, because I don't know if she wants me to share her struggles with everyone. 

Eva & I have been friends for about 12 years. We met through a service sorority.  OK, I'll admit it -- it was the Junior League.  Yes, I am a bow head.  I actually am no longer involved with the League, but I think it's an awesome group of women and I really enjoyed my my time there.  Plus, I made amazing friends.  Like Eva.

Eva is going through hell right now.

Hell is not the right word for it.  Pretend that you have been dipped repeatedly into scalding water and then are forced to walk barefoot over broken glass.  Oh yeah -- and your nose has been sealed shut and you are forced to breathe through a straw.  Your muscles are so weak you have to use a wheelchair.  And you have to go through this for a year.

Plus you have a two small children, a husband and a business to run.

That's Eva's life right now.  Only worse.

Her husband, Tom, gets my vote for Husband of the Year.  He is absolutely devoted to Eva and he is making sure that the kids still have a somewhat normal life.  Eva's parents -- Beto & Sara -- are great too.  Together, they are pulling together to get the family through this.

Here is a typical Eva Facebook post:  Went to doctor today.  Decided to undergo chemo.  So grateful to the wonderful professionals here who are working so hard for me.

Here's another:  Tom came by with a huge bouquet of flowers.  How did I deserve such an awesome husband?

This one made me break down and cry:  So proud of you Mary!  You inspire me!

I inspire herI inspire her???? 

Eva is undergoing the most harrowing experience of her life, but she is reminding us of the good in our lives. 

I wish she didn't have to go through this. 

I wish they could find a wonder drug, give it to her once and have her life go back to normal.

My Christmas wish -- actually, my daily prayer -- is that Eva & Tom and their family continue to have the strength to endure this.  I pray that this suffering leads to untold blessings.  God blessed Job, I know he will bless Eva.

I love you Eva!  I am so grateful to have you in my life.  Merry Christmas my beautiful, strong friend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deck the Halls with OW OW OW OW. . .

Because I work for a college, I get TWO WEEKS OFF AT CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

I Snoopy Dance every time I think of it.

Because 2 weeks off is AWESOME.

Because I am OFF, I have time to drive all the way to the Island to work out with Gabe!

Let me explain something to those of you who do not live in South Texas.

One of the nice things about living here is that everything is 30 minutes away.  We have virtually no traffic.

Having lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix, I can tell you that the short commute is awesome.

Until you live here a few years. 

Then you realize that everything important is only 5 minutes away.

Five minutes to church.

Five minutes to work.

Five minutes to the grocery store.

Five minutes to V-Fit.

So going ALL THE WAY to the Island feels far. Really, really far.  Hell, I pack a lunch to travel to the other side of the freeway.

Today I went to work out with Gabe.

Good ol' Gabe.

Quiet, gentle Gabe.

First thing he makes me do?  Walk outs.  Then burpees.  Then more walkouts.  Then suicides, push ups, and more walkouts.  Oh yeah -- they have this big rope.  I think it's for mooring ships in hurricane force winds.  It's about 5 inches thick.  I have to take one rope in each hand, squat, and then whip the rope as hard as I can.  So fun.  For about 30 seconds.  Then it's pure agony.

Basically, Gabe hasn't changed a bit.

I can't wait to go to the Island tomorrow! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Playground Justice

I took my boys to the mall playground yesterday.

They love that stupid place.

For one thing, it's inside.  For another, it's got a cookie store and a candy store right around the corner. 

The area is really designed for littles 5 & under.  I figured we were OK because #2 is 6 and #3 is almost 4.  (#1 is on a camping trip with his dad). 

I warned the kids that they had to be careful of little kids.  I reminded them that I would be watching.

Then I watched. 

I watched them jump.  I watched them run.  I watched them climb. 

I watched the other kids too.  For some reason, every boy in there was named Luke & every girl was Nevaeh. (Plus Paul.)

I know that because every time I told Luke to be careful, six or seven little boys looked at me for a minute before determining that I was not admonishing them

Also, one mom spent her time between sucking on her grande moacchino, checking her iPhone and occasionally screeching "Nevaeh!  Stop it!  Nevaeh.  Niv-E-YAH!" 

All the other Nevaehs looked up, while the targeted Nevaeh continued to pound on the fish tank or pull on some Luke's hoodie or climb on the potted plants.

She was a little hyper.  Whaddya gonna do?  Kids are hyper.

I try not to be Judgy McJudgermom.  I try SO HARD.

Because my kids aren't perfect. 

But the more I watched Nevaeh, the judgier I got. 

She was wearing a spaghetti strap top.  It's Texas, and pretty warm here, but not spaghetti-strap top warm.  Yes, my son was in shorts, but that's completely different.   Nevaeh is starting to develop, and spaghetti strap tops are not her friend.

She was mean to the other kids.  Not just pushy - she was mean.  She frequently pushed her way to the front of the slide line, and knocked kids out of the way at the fish tank.  She stuck her tongue out at one of the Lukes. 

Every now & then, she ran to her mother to get a pull off the grande moacchino. 

I wouldn't have been surprised to see her mother give her a drag off a cigarette.

I noticed another mom eyeing Nevaeh as well.  Every time Nevaeh did something obnoxious, other mom & I would exchange eye rolls. 

Finally, Nevaeh pushed Paul. 


As he tearfully came to me for comfort, I looked at Nevaeh's mom to see if she noticed.  She was too involved in her pinterest account to notice that her kid was being a bully.

I hugged and consoled Paul and looked for Luke.  It was time to go. 

Luke -- my Luke, not the other Lukes -- was chasing Nevaeh. 

"Hey!" he yelled "Hey!  You PUSHED my brother!".  He maneuvered himself in front of her and forced her to acknowledge him. 

"You PUSHED him" Luke reiterated.

"Sorry" said Nevaeh.

"You need to tell him," insisted Luke, and he steered Nevaeh over to us.

"Sorry," said Nevaeh to Paul.  She patted him on the shoulder and then tore off to do more terror.

I didn't say anything to Nevaeh or to her mother.  Nothing I said was going to make any difference, and I am pretty sure that had I said something, I would have gotten a very aggressive retort.  I didn't need to get into a mom-brawl in front of my kids.

I figured Luke did a pretty good job of handling it. 

Playground Justice was served.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tight Spot

When I was little, my mom dressed me up for the holidays in a Christmas (or Easter) dress, white tights and black Mary Janes. Occasionally, she would try to clip a bow in my baby-fine pixie cut hair.

I didn’t mind the dress so much, it was the tights I hated.

They bagged. And sagged. And the crotch usually lurked around my knees.

This season, tights are in style.

Textured tights! Colored tights! Patterned tights!

They are so cute I want to buy a pair in every style color and texture.

I have been wearing my tights with my boots. So cute! So wintery! So warm!

Yesterday, I wore my boots with pants. Also cute, wintery and warm.  I love my boots.  For one thing, they come to my knees.  Anyone over a size 12 knows how hard it is to find knee boots that actually fit over your calves.  I love my boots.  Plus, they look awesome with tights.

But I wore boots yesterday.  I didn’t wanna wear 'em again today.

So in my mind, I planned my outfit:

Black turtleneck, black skirt, black patterned tights & ropy pearl accessories.

But instead of wearing my boots, I would wear my grey herringbone mary janes.

How chic! How Vogue! How classic!

In my mind, I resembled a Talbots ad.

About 10 am, I realized that my boots had pilled the tights. So they looked fine from my hem to my knee, but the knee down looked as if I had waded through Styrofoam.

About 11 am, the ankles were sagging.

By 3pm, the crotch started creeping towards my knees.

In my mind I just stepped out of Talbots.

In reality, I looked more like “Real People of Walmart.”

My Mind's Eye

Closer to the truth

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Giving Tree - a repost

I posted this on December 5, 2011.  Feel exactly the same way this year.

Fair warning -- this post is going to be sappy as hell. Sentimental. Cloying.

I am in that kind of mood.

When I went to mass this morning, I was so grateful to Greg for staying home with the boys so I could go to mass on my own. No one pulled off my pants, stuck their hands down my blouse or repeated "Look Mama! It's Father Roger!" all through mass.

The mass was beautiful. I love the advent colors -- purple with gold. I love the candles, I love the symbolism, I love the prayers. Mostly, I love the people at Mass.

The Giving Tree was up -- this is our way to provide The Ark with gifts and needed items for the year. We select an ornament off the tree. The ornament has a child's age and gender on it, with an item that needs to be purchased. These kids need toys, but more than that, they need toiletries, clothes, medicine. What they really need is a safe and loving home, but unfortunately, the Giving Tree isn't much help there.

The Ark is an emergency shelter for kids who have to be removed from their homes. Usually, they have to be removed because of violence, neglect and abuse. Frequently children are removed in the dead of night, when drinking and drugs bring out the worst in those who are supposed to protect them. These kiddos come from all ages, races, religions and income levels. Most of them come from poverty -- if only because the poor have fewer mechanisms to control the damage done by the violence.

As soon as mass was over, families descended upon the tree -- taking one, two or three ornaments. People where waiting four and five deep. I know many of the families clamoring for the ornaments. When you know people, you learn their struggles. I saw people who suffered layoffs this year. People who have suffered miscarriages and other medical emergencies. People who have several small children at home. People who are caring for terminally ill parents. I saw people who struggle with addictions of their own. I saw single parent families and even a family that lost a child. Struggling families who couldn't wait to help the kids at The Ark.

We're going to do what we can too. We'll give. It will be nothing compared to what we have received. I am grateful for the chance to attend mass on my own. More than that, I am grateful for the chance to be a part of this Parish family.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mary Christmas!

You know how much I LOVE fitness challenges!

They REALLY motivate me.  I'm not competitive or anything, I just wanna reach new personal bests.

And also win.

Because Victor knows that I LOVE challenges, and because he knows that I MUST get down to 229 by 2/1/12 and because he knows that I love Christmas cookies almost as much as my children, Victor has set up a new challenge for me.

And Mary.

And Mary.

It's the Tri-Mary Challenge.

See, there are three Marys who work out at V-Fit.

We all happen to be alumna of the University of Wisconsin.  (One of us received her Doctorate from UW.  One of us just drank a lot of beer and kissed as many boys as I . . .I mean she could get her hands on.  I don't know about Mary.)

Mary & I also have the same birthday. 

Wild, huh?

Victor's stated goal is to foster a spirit of competition while improving the overall fitness of three of his most dedicated clients.  We all know he secretly wants us to get into a cat fight.  (What is it about guys and cat fights?  Seriously.)

We aren't going to get into a cat fight.  We are going to have some competition, yes.  Mostly though, we have a sisterly collaboration to reach our individual goals.  We are going to rejoice in each others' triumphs and fortify each other when times get hard.

We are going to run towards the prize with arms linked! 

I just hope the prize isn't a portkey. 

Mary says it's OK if it's a portkey as long as it takes us to the Bahamas.

I'm just really, really glad my name is Mary!

Go Mary!

Go Mary!

Go Mary!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In The Can


Done 12/3/11

I cried a little bit on my way home.

I love you guys.