Saturday, June 30, 2012

After the storm

My tomato plant

There were not even any broken branches.  Just the top of the basil broke.  It's shaping up to be a hot day and we have no power.

Camping out during the storm -  They were afraid.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What's Left Behind

Some years ago I was travelling and something happened to me.  I wanted to understand but the people who knew were too close to it and were ashamed to share.  It created  some strained relationships,  strange relationships that I have since given up.

I am supposed to call someone this evening who knows more of the story.  I have stopped wanting to know for some time now.  He seems to need to tell it.  I don't know, however, if I need to hear it.  I took responsibility for it and it was difficult for many years because it didn't make sense.   I worked so hard to give it sense in my life.  It is still a story that I can't tell completely.

I wanted to believe all that he said.  He didn't speak truth.  He made his truth.  THAT always stood between us and there was not a way that I could contort myself to get closer to him.  I tried in every way that a person can change themselves to fix it, to change what was.  I could not.

Over time it fades and is less important to me except that it will resurface; we have children.  My son said the  other day, "I miss Papá, don't you?"  Finally free, I replied, "Not anymore, honey, not anymore."  We had all missed him for so long but we never really had him and I had such a longing to be complete.  He couldn't complete me and he wouldn't complete us.  

I said I would call but I just don't know.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Rescue Pepper Plant

Starting a new pepper.

One of my tomato plants...

My squash plant...

My first little cucumbers

bean blossoms

My little WILD garden

Useless Beauty

Looking at my bloom of my squash plant...  I planted this plant in the wrong soil and so even though I am getting a lot of squash, they turn brown before they completely mature.  The blooms however are so beautiful.  I used Miracle Grow Garden Soil instead of their potting soil.  After I transplanting this plant I read the package and then used it only for planting in the ground but unlike for most of the other plants on my porch this is a flower for beauty's sake.
From appointment to appointment I go.  I have to take care of the children so that we have a successful school year.  I am trying to get into graduate school.  It will be good for us.  I like learning and if I am working toward something like my MBA it will sweeten my perspective.  I am not used to down time but I do demand that my time be spent on something that I enjoy, including my work.

I look forward to sitting in a classroom again and expanding my mind.

writing, writing, writing

Thursday!  The summer speeds by and I need to find a way to maximize my days in the fall.  Step one will be to move I think.  My work hours are changing which will put me in heavy traffic both ways, to and from work.  I have to get over this mentally because I am entering this year with a sense of dread, in which case I will be just getting through it.   I have to enjoy work and this is my process.  I will plan well this summer so that I can keep it stress-free.

Today I am going to bring out the creative me a bit and work on a website that I have been planning for years.  It is a huge project and will require a lot of work but it won't feel like work since it is my brainchild.  I have been stuck on the simplest thing.  What do I want to call it?  Well, it's more than that, what name will grab attention and make someone want to look closer?  To me the name is small but vital.

I am also going to work in the next week or so on livening up my blog and setting up either a blog or website for my classroom.  Whatever it is, it has to be something that the students can maintain.  I will give them a formula and schedule time in for them to update it daily or weekly.

Yesterday my neck hurt so badly, I didn't work out at all.  This morning I feel much better so I have to get in at least two workouts.  I am paying for a gym membership so I might as well go.  I am preoccupied with results though I need to live an active live just for the enjoyment of being active but I am always looking at my waist and my arms.

I guess you can tell that I have some writer's block.  So I just keep writing, and writing.  Later I will put myself through some writing calisthenics and try to shape the words into something more than my everyday life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shaping Up

My little one and I spent the morning at the Dr.'s.  It wasn't easy for him but I am relieved.  He had so many food allergies that it was difficult and expensive to feed him.  One year after the initial results we went to see an allergist.  He will start allergy shots soon and I am relieved.

It turns out that the correct response was NOT to just take him off of those foods.  That is what I had done so today we had a celebratory lunch.  No salad without dressing or plain rice or steamed veggies.  Today he had alfredo and LOVED it.

I ate way too much today also though when I look at what it was it isn't all that much, I think.  I started the day with 2 bites of brownie and some coffee.  Then we kicked off our celebration at Ritas, he had chocolate ice cream and I had a mango gelati.  I was already full but I had promised him lunch so we went to Olive Garden.  If I'd had a phone I would have taken a picture.  He had salad, shrimp alfredo and a side of broccoli.  I had the unlimited soup and salad and a coffee.  I ate about a bowl and a half of soup and a plate of salad.  I am still too full to work out.  I'll wait a few minutes more.

Oh, my garden...
I saw my first two cucumbers today.  Yay!!!  My bean plants are flowering and my cantaloupe are starting to grow the little spiral viney things.  I just took the middle of a cantaloupe and planted it.  I didn't expect it to do so well.

Every year my children plant seeds, any and every seed they can find.  We have pots of who knows what growing and it is magical but many things don't grow for us, like the mango or the peach seeds.  This year everything we have planted has grown (We haven't planted mango or peach.)

Monday, June 25, 2012


I am without a cellphone so I can't post pictures right now but my garden is doing so well.  Every morning I go out and water my plants and check on them.  I sit out on the patio and drink my coffee.  One by one as the children wake up they come out and look at the plants too.

Today we discovered that we  have beans.  We also have another cucumber plant that is blossoming.  The newest of the tomato plants is doing well.  It even has some small blossoms.  I have 5 tomato plants in all.  Two of them are covered with tomatoes.  The third plant has 4 blossoms.  The fourth plant fell and was crushed when it was new it was only a stump and a couple leaves but it started to grow so I kept it.   It grew very slowly but it's hanging on and is now about 8 inches long.  With the loss of the apical meristem it stopped  growing down  and started growing to one side (It is in an upside down planter).  It is my little experiment I want to see how well it will do so I take care of it like the rest of my plants.  It seems to be thriving.  The fifth tomato plant is the only one planted in the ground.  It isn't growing as quickly as the others but it is healthy and beautiful.

The little patch of earth in which I have plants is crowded because I live in an apartment so it is "borrowed".  They are thriving though each one of them.  I am having some trouble with my cucumber vines wrapping around my other plants and have broken a few of them off.  I don't like to do it but I see that if it were a battle the cucumbers would win.

I discovered today that I have beans growing!  At least I think that's what those were.  I also planted radishes I think but I can't figure out where those are growing.

Then there is my rescue.  One the hottest day of the year so far I went through the garden section of WalMart and bought what I call my rescue plant.   It was a bell pepper plant with 2 bell peppers on it.  The bottom leaves were all cut off and the upper leaves were yellowing.  The soil seemed spongy rather than rich.  It still looks pretty much the same.  I don't see that it has sprouted any new leaves.

Well, here goes another day of waiting for my car to be fixed :-(

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Day Well Lived

Today I walked 6 miles and did 2 Zumba workouts.  I am so proud of me.

This week I am going to start working on the website.  I am doing it  "from scratch" so that it can grow organically.  This should be quite a learning experience.

Sunday, Sunday

I am without a car until I can get it repaired.  I may make a bottle of water and walk to Starbucks to get a bag of the coffee I like.  It would be good exercise.  I woke up this morning to my 21 year old and 6 year old sons "working out" to Dance Central.

I think I will walk to Starbucks.  It will be a 4 mile walk in all.  It is early and I've been watching the kids work out I am energized.  I am going to water my plants and go.    It is hard and I can't wear shorts because when I waxed I missed the back of one leg.  I am determined to save money but not to be any less of a woman.  For a moment I was a contortionist but when I was finished (I thought) I had such a sense of satisfaction.  I am going to touch-up my waxing today.

I also want to write a short story.  I am good as writing a scene but all that makes up a story I just know how to live.  I am going to sit down today and analyze the work of at least one of my favorite writers.  We'll see what I can come up with.

I feel asleep reading Ulysses last night.  It is interesting, there is no real story line but I can almost see the environment as I walk along with Stephen and listen to his thinking that is so wrapped in catholic theology and tradition.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Today I need to refocus my energy on creating order around me.  I haven't had enough sleep and I feel it but I cannot sleep early in the morning, or during the day for that matter.  The children are asleep and for a moment it seems I will have the house to myself.

I am in that mood.  There is nothing in the house I want to do.  I think I'll start my day by meditating on the patio for a while.

I have found one drawback to the kindle.  I cannot read in too much light because of the glare.  Perhaps another case would help me with that.

Friday, June 22, 2012


My plans fell through and I drank coffee to be able to keep them so I am wide awake with only this to do.  In truth, I prefer it.  This; contemplate, think, plan, hope, remember, wonder, regret.

To be left with a question is to be left thirsty when you think that there is water enough to be had.  
It is simply denied.  How will I ever know if I was right - except by winning the next round.

He was simple.  He wanted simple things.  He wanted what he saw in those around him, what those who were dear to him had.  He watched lovers and said, "I want to be happy."  and then he looked at me and I felt uncomfortable because the idea that it was my job to make him happy was frightening.  I mean I thought if someone loved you, your mere existence made them happy but he, he had other ideas, a job description, if you will, and I already had a couple of jobs.   

I didn't pin my happiness on him but deep inside I suspected that though he couldn't make me happy he could stand between me and happiness.  He hadn't ... but I was wary.  

He vanished in an instant without a trace or a farewell.  I was left with no option but to accept.  I think though that the silence was his last noble deed to protect me from deeds less than noble or to keep from proving false those sweetest of words that had been offered me like so many gifts between lovers.  Surely the heart of one who loves will make a better excuse.

On a lighter note, I have decided to read James Joyce's Ulysses.  The beginning is painfully slow.  It is not the first book of his that I have read and I have read some of this book for an honors class in college but starting on the first page it takes a moment to come to life.  I am reading it on my Kindle and I must say that this is the way to read this book because of the ease with which one can look up words.  I dare say my vocabulary will grow.  I will probably have to read it more than once and read some other writing on it as well. 

I think I may finally be tired enough to sleep.



Yesterday when the children went to the pool, I played on the XBOX.  I played the Adventure game with the Kinect.  It was fun.  I plan to buy Zumba for the Kinect as well.  Every day I have worked out, read and done some gardening.  Right now I need some soil but I dare not buy it.  The grocery tab yesterday was $300.  I shopped bulk.  Having the children in the house all day means feeding them more. 

I am trying to hurry and get my car fixed so that we can take some drives and go to museums and zoos and any other family activity that I can find.  I have got to get these guys out of the house. 

Tonight I am supposed to go out for the first time in ...well, a long time.  I am not really looking forward to it but I need to keep my social self alive and I will enjoy it I'm sure; I always do.  I would just prefer to be reading or watching my plants grow.

I am currently without a cellphone.  I hardly notice.  I've no reason to talk on the phone right now anyway.  The children are with me.  I don't like my Cricket phone I really don't like the way that if you buy a phone from them it only works on their service.  That would make more sense to me if they just gave you the phone.  I am waiting to be able to replace my phone with one that I like, one that does all that I want it to do and does it well. 

My phone the Huawei was supposed to have a 5 mega pixel camera but most of my pictures are awful and it has no flash.  The only pics that come out well are the ones when I am right up on my subject and in direct sunlight.

My fingers are crossed and I am praying for acceptance into graduate school. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I wonder if P90X will make me stop thinking about Shelton...   He once said he was going to make me ask him to marry me. (after I last told him that I don't want to marry again) Oh my, I do hope this isn't his attempt!??!!  (just kidding... it IS a funny thought though.) 

...the home stretch... again.

In a few moments I am going to go Zumba.  It has been a rough two weeks.   I haven't been the most frugal.  I have bought things for my little garden which isn't a priority.  It seems it will be worth it though.  I grow things because I enjoy the magic of it.  The idea that you can plant a seed and get a tree still blows my mind. 

I like gardening, but it hasn't always liked me.  I still every year buy plants with the children and we plant and water and feed them and watch them grow.  This year they are doing amazingly well.  I have 2 tomatoe plants full of tiny green tomatoes and one in an upsidedown planter that just has its first blossom.  My cucumber plant has 3 blooms and 3 of my pepper plants are covered in little white flowers I can actually see the first pepper. 

This past two weeks have made me dig deep.  I have hit the savings a few times.  I call it "savings" with the hope that it will one day be a savings account.  So far it has been a holding account for my frequent "emergencies" but we have made it two weeks and everyone has eaten and we still have electricity.   We finished the rice and were down to the last couple bags of beans.  For dinner today I made them sauted veggies with every bit of veggie I could find in the fridge.  It was perfect, a little olive oil, some cabbage, onion, garlic, green pepper, ginger, kale, and crushed red pepper a little sugar and some other spices ... Oh, and a tomato.  I am glad the like healthy foods.  ... I have been trying to eat more kale and I like to saute it in olive oil with a little salt. 

Tomorrow we face an immediate setback because I have to go to the grocery store for some not so small shopping.  The kids are home for the summer and I have to find an inexpensive way to allow them to graze throughout the day.  It is difficult because they stay hungry.  What worked during the school year won't work right now... but I'll figure it out. 

I look out at the people at the pool.  It is almost 100 degrees outside and I can't bring myself to join them.  I cannot swim and look horrible in a swimsuit.  .. to Zumba!

My Car - To Buy or Not to Buy ... alas to wait, and wait...

The car that carries my precious ones around and makes life possible for us is a 2002 Mazda MPV.  I don't love it but it is still running and I am glad of that.  Recently I started to fantasize about purchasing another car.  I got online and did searches and lovingly stroked the screen as I looked at used minivans with automatic doors and sunroofs and moon roofs and space.  I looked at the interior and exterior.  I looked at the cup holders and the dash - that would, after all, be my view.  I contacted one dealership almost ready to take a leap of faith - In my case, however, it would be foolishness. 

In order for us to move forward as a family, I need to continue my studies and that is going to mean sacrifice.  So today I lovingly took my car and cleaned it and washed it.  It was filthy.  Since it is a minivan I am seldom in the back.  I am responsible for the coffee spills which have changed the color of the tan carpet in the front center of the car.  In the back I find wrappers and discarded bits of unidentifiable foodstuffs.  My 11 year-old and I wiped down every surface and "Fabreezed" the heck out of the upholstery and carpet of the car.  It needed something. 

I have embraced the sacrifice.  Hopefully I can get this car to give me one more good year.  During this year I will try to prepare myself for the investment.  I will learn about different cars and really find the best one to buy.  Who knows maybe this car will get me to my Masters degree. 

My first car didn't count because it was in my name but I didn't even have a license.  It was old even then and my brother drove it.  My second car was named "Trusty"  It was purchased from an advert and it cost $500, I think.  It was a Chevy Nova and it was trusty.  I was told that it was such a good car because it had a Toyota engine.  My Third car was a 1994 navy blue Nissan Sentra (Francois was his name) which got quite a bit of mileage before I purchased the car I currently drive when the twins came.  With 5 children under the age of 12 I cannot get a smaller car but with 5 children under the age of 12 my car must also be reliable.

I haven't loved the Mazda.  I found that too many of the parts that I needed to replace were factory only and were too expensive.  Funds are often tight and though it would be nice only to put the best parts on my car it would be better to put the best foods in my babies bodies. 

It felt good to empty out the car.  I often accumulate jackets and coffee cups and umbrellas and McDonald's bags, and wrappers and receipts and books and mail - because sometimes I check the mail on my way out rather than in...  I always seem to be on the go. 

Cleaning the car with my son gave me a chance to talk to him about the difficulties we face this coming school year, my desire to move, my hopes to get them into private schools for 2013-2014 and what that means for them even now. 

The front seats of  my car fills with water if it rains hard. The sliding doors hold water so that when you open them water pours out and they close with a bit more effort.  There is a burning smell coming from somewhere that I cannot identify.  I almost never use the heat because years ago I was told that some part of my heater had been recalled.  I believed that they fixed it but noticed that I kept smelling burning.  When I visited the Mazda dealership here in Maryland they said, yes that part was recalled but the recall has expired - and the repair was never done on my car.  There is, however, a new burning smell.  The seats and carpet look like 5 children have grown up in the car.  We can fade every new spill but we almost never remove the stain.  Perhaps it will be good to grow up a bit more before we get a pretty car. 

I will also not buy another Mazda because their pricing was so ridiculous.  I just left with the feeling that I was being cheated and during the next few years I would like to find a dealership that doesn't leave me with that feeling.  You pay so much financing a car and for your trouble you get to pay more for items with their logo.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Precious Moments

My littlest one comes to me a moment ago hugs and and says, "Mommy, you're my baby."  Oh, how my little heart melts.


Today the personal work of my summer begins.  I begin my credit clean up process.  I don't bully well and I have needed to focus on the needs of the moment and so I have filed that under L- for "later" and focused on the survival of each day.  It has been years since I have talked to collectors.  They would tell me what I had to do and I would say "How?"  The biggest problem was credit cards with fees that ultimately doubled the balance. After a few attempts to get it right I felt no pangs of conscience in letting it laps.  In truth they got more than the value of my purchases and they got some fees and interest too.  I couldn't do more and still feed the children

I am also going to decide my workout routine and LIVE BY IT.  I have been paying to go to the gym but haven't gone in months.  I have, however, been working out at home.  My car needs some work and I worry about driving it.  Today I will find out what it will cost to get it fixed and schedule it.   Until then I will be working around the house, reading and planning for next year.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tomato ...cucumber...beans...all doing so well.

My little

I got up this morning stumbled to Facebook.  I don't know why.  I am not Facebook's biggest fan.  I don't appreciate the constant attempts to share my information with the world.  This morning I sat and drank my coffee as I read people's posts.  There were so many beautiful odes to fatherhood.  For many years Father's Day was nothing to me and then for a few it was a day that I encouraged my children to think about their own father. 

Today it makes me introspective.  It makes me remember and it makes me irritable.  I started to think about the complexities of the relationships between fathers and sons.  It saddens me. 

When walking to the store with one of my sons yesterday I said to him, "Tomorrow is Father's Day.  Do you want to call you father?"  He answered with a simple, "No."  I have told him many times that he is allowed to speak to his father whenever he wants.  He feels wronged that no one is reaching toward him.  I don't have words.  We walk along in silence. 

I wrote one blog entry that I just saved and didn't publish.  I sat and thought for awhile.  I thought of an acquaintance who had been a professional father, working in education and raising the children of other men in his personal life.  He opened his arms to mine but it scared me.  I couldn't trust.  I thought of him fondly this morning and sent a quick Happy Father's Day text. 

I sat outside and read and then I fed and watered my plants and thought about life.  I finished the first book and started on the second.  So far I don't love it, the book that is.  I'll push through a few more pages and see if it catches before I move on. 

I have a new pain this morning that is causing me some worry.  

I went to CVS the other day to fill a prescription and as I waited I decided to read cards.  It seemed there was a whole section missing.  I read card after card about the BEST dad and finally wandered to the get well, and congratulations cards which I thought would be more fitting.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Yesterday my 3 year old was watching  his show in my kindle.  When I asked for it back he closed Netflix, opened my book and handed it to me.  My Kindle has dozens of books and apps.  I was so amazed.

... day 8

..yesterday I got up at 5am and went and sat in Panera for 4 hours to work.  It was good to be alone (ish) and the time was well spent.  I got home to all of the children sitting on the sofa and getting along.  THAT was beautiful.  I finished my work and did a little reading.  In a few minutes I will finish book one and start on book two.

Last year I read for pleasure so the books were not really meant to instruct or guide.  I was entertained and though the books gave me something to think about they weren't really deep reads.  My first two books this summer are different.  The first began as a light read and is now a bit of a deeper read.  It is Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.   He is now describing his "logotherapy."

I am going to go hop in the shower and then sit out on the patio and read.  I have a number of projects that I am working on simultaneously and I am excited by each of them.  I can hardly sit down to read as I want to begin what is next.  I have planned, however, to begin and end each day in a book this summer. 

I will also do some additional work refreshing my math skills. 

The children are still asleep.   Oh, what a beautiful morning...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

day 2 - vacation

"Summer" is a time for growth and healing.  The thing about teaching (and I believe one of the reasons the problems don't get fixed) is that you must be so physically and emotionally invested in your job that though you carry within you the solutions you must be the problem in order to do you job "well".

There isn't really a desire to know about the things that seem out of reach.  BIG change is needed and sadly with much fanfare little pieces of big ideas are rolled out at individual schools with mediocre success and spun as awesome.  It's disheartening and exhausting.  There are successes that are comparatively large and often but the problem is with the comparison.  This blog is, however, NOT about work.  I just needed to get that off of my chest.  I buy into the vision that is presented where I work.  As a parent, however, I use a different standard and I shouldn't have to.

... today was a good day despite the fact that I have been out of breath all day and had a dull headache.  I discovered small green tomatoes on a second tomato plant and the beginning of blossoms on the third.  My pepper plants seem like they are about to bloom.  I have plenty of basil and quite a bit of oregano which is exciting.  The plants that I planted in the ground are not growing as fast but are still green and growing and I am enjoying their existence.  

I sat out of the patio this morning and read.  I listened to the birds and drank my kefir.  I have reclaimed my determination to have a flat belly by my next birthday.  I will begin more work tonight.  In a moment I will straighten my room and have some alone time.  I also took some time to think about giving life purpose and how I will best do that.  I am reading Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning and feel that giving my struggle purpose is my reason.  Where I stand is often not so pretty but I see things from here that need fixing.  Others in better circumstances cannot see them.  I must do something.

My life, however, is not without its comforts.  I enjoy time on my patio watching my plants grow and reading.  I enjoy preparing my next lesson.  I will enjoy making a change and continuing to grow in a way that will better benefit those I love.  

I have always been a terribly shy, self-conscious person.  It is paralyzing and I am often aware that I am missing so much but I have such a keen fear of failure or ridicule.  I don't feel that in this next venture though.  This year is a year of action for me.  It is time to reclaim my life.  

Last night I spoke to an old acquaintance from Cuba.  We met during my studies and it didn't end well.  He says that I misunderstood.  I felt that he was trying to use me and to hurt one of my new friends in the process.  That conversation brought out some long overdue anger at some old stupidity and injustice.  I learned so much from that experience but boy did I learn the hard way.  I realized that I no longer have a strong desire to return to Cuba - ever.  There are lessons that I would like for my children to learn there.  I would like for them to learn Spanish and family and loyalty but there are other lessons that I don't want them to learn they way one learns there.  There is an attitude about relationships that I don't want them to have.  I learned from all of this that I am at least part puritan (on my mother's side).  We spend our youths rebelling only to find out that we have adopted many of the values of our parents without noticing it.   I am thankful to those who were truly kind to me and kind of happy that that particular experience is behind me.  

It was nice to speak to him.  It was cathartic.  We will speak again.    I would like to know his story.   

Tonight I actually have to finish my work.  MY official last day of the school year will be tomorrow.
... and then, the beautification process.

My other tomato plant

Yay!!! My plants are doing so well.  So many tiny tomatoes ...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Changing Gears - Day 1

It has been a full Saturday.  I have more work to do and feel good about the direction that life is taking.  The kids are happy and life is full of possibility.  I am loving the time gardening.  My plants are doing well. 

With the end of the school year and all of my grading I had too much McDonalds and too little exercise and yesterday I just felt yuck.  Today I am organizing the week ahead and though, as usual, I have alot to do I am delighted that I will be able to do it. 

And now starts "summer".  This is the time the kids have their annual doctor's appointments and dentist appointments and we work on whatever their academic weaknesses were.  Last year we worked on reading and math facts.  This year we will read also and still do math facts but the littler ones will work on their simple math also and they will read their beginner books to their siblings.

Things aren't perfect but we're in a good place and I feel like today's problems are fixable.  The thing is, when you clear today's problems you only make room for tomorrow's.

The wonderful thing about this time of year is that I finally have a little time to do more than think.  I can do some of the things that I imagine during the school year.

Our Tiny Garden

My squash plant...

Sunday, June 3, 2012