Friday, March 29, 2013

Enjoy Yourselves, Still

This week is Semana Santa in our house.

Holy week.

Bigger, brighter, more talk, more reading, more about our faith, the things we believe in, than the average household.

More jelly beans, more hidden Peeps, more Cadbury eggs. Larger baskets, more cleverly hidden (we use clues leading them to the baskets and so what if they're teenagers).

How Colombians do Easter. Now with more mandatory Easter viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Yes, children do have to listen while mom sings along. And later in the week, I'll smile through proud tears as I overhear all three boys at one time or another singing to themselves, "I don't know how to love Him."

Happy Easter, a Blessed Passover, so many good wishes to you all for peace, love, rest, centering.

'Till next week.


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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Of Love and Castro. WTH, Throw in a Big Diamond Too

A long line of story tellers. That's where I come from.

My mother spends the day with us on Sundays, and shares tales of her life while she's here. Her memories are true things of delight, and time has been so much more than kind in how she remembers her days. You can say that time has been ass kickin' kind in the boss memories it's given her. Like the one she tells us about here, my monthly column at FunnynotSlutty.

Know what we say in our family? It's your life, you can remember it any way you want to. *this means you, mama

We love you.


FunnynotSlutty. The Funniest Women on The Planet
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

We Dance For Those That Can't Dance For Themselves

Monday will be my nephew's birthday, our first without him. And it's hard.

Today, I will be at a Native American Honor Dance with my family, celebrating his much too short life.

His younger brother will hit the drum as he sits in the drum circle. He will sing and proclaim, "We dance for those that can't dance. We sing for those who no longer sing." Singing loud, dancing hard, doing this with the healing thought of being the feet and voice for her son, will be what provides my sister respite from her pain today. If only for the moments of the ceremony.

She'll dance, arms up and feet hitting the ground hard. She'll raise her head and lift her voice and sing for her boy. And in that sacred time, nothing else will exist for her, except the communion between a mother and her child. Private, holy.

Hold us in your thoughts today. Keep us close in your hearts.

Wish us peace.

In Powwow Trail, Dylan Jennings shares a weekend of singing with Midnite Express and dancing at the Oneida Powwow. This video is part of The Ways, an ongoing series of stories on culture and language from Native communities around the central Great Lakes.
More at
Follow us:
Finn Ryan - Producer, Director, Video
David Nevala - Video, Editing, Photography
A Tribe Called Red - "Electric Pow Wow Drum"
Midnite Express - "Randy's Song"
A Production of Wisconsin Media Lab

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Friday, March 22, 2013

BIG news, HUGE: Listen To Your Mother Update

Listen To Your Mother/ Milwaukee has great big news to share.

It's exciting and we're elated to announce a major local sponsor.

Click on over and see who is playing a big part in bringing LTYM to Milwaukee.

*thank you
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Our Society Raises Young Boys

I've been told that I take things beyond where they need to go.

Getting up from a comfortable position on the sofa -- and living in Wisconsin, that means removing a warm quilt off my lap -- I will walk across a room and without saying a word, pick up the remote to change the channel if a commercial comes on that demeans women.

We won't watch it.

When the few magazines that we subscribe to come to the house, my three boys know I get them first, to check the pages for inappropriate portrayals of women. Sometimes only half the magazine is left when I'm through.

We won't read it.

If lyrics come on the radio while we're driving, screaming about what a woman is for and what to do to her, I'll push the button down on the radio to turn it off like I'm sending it through the dashboard.

We won't listen to it.

My children don't roll their eyes when I do this, because they're used to it. I've been doing it since they can remember, and telling them why. It is my way of showing them what we accept, and what we don't accept, when it comes to respect for women. I read, they read, we all hear things on the radio and we see the same thing on the internet. "This is society and its portrayal of women. This is our culture. This is how it is." The headlines report atrocities like Steubenville as if we're not even to examine this epidemic of toxic attitudes.

I can't control society, the images of violence against women, women being shown as a lesser worth, but I can make a visual statement of what I think about the things I see. I am the first woman my children have ever known. They look to me for what is right and what is wrong, and what I accept. I have always believed that children will watch what we do more than listen to what we say. So I'll keep doing what I'm doing, because it's my job.

Can I manage everything about my three boys, especially as two of them will be leaving our home for college, both within two years? I know I can't. But I am determined to continue with my one- household revolution.

Because there must be a revolution.

A revolution of what our culture accepts in what is right and wrong in the treatment of women. Our house is the first society my children see, and here at home, they will see respect for women and taking responsibility through action for what we allow to enter into our world. I'll keep taking things beyond where they need to go, as people tell me I do, because one day when my children are without me, the memories of my physical actions will ping at their conscience like a snapping rubber band. They'll see me, walking across the living room in search of that remote, tearing the pages out of the magazines, turning off the radio. Taking that stand against females not only in words but in deeds, when women are put in positions that objectify them, and I'll tell them why I do what I do. Because this is not acceptable.

My children may read, hear, and see, "This is how women are portrayed in our culture. Accept it, you can't change it," but in my small big louder than words way and in front of three boys who will one day be men, they will see, that no, we don't have to accept it -- not in this house we don't.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mama's Comfort Camp

My friend Yael Saar is a mama on a mission to remove guilt and shame from parenting in order to make room for joy and love. With this in mind, she created Mama's Comfort Camp, and this month, she is celebrating the one year anniversary of this baby -- and I don't think she's been prouder of any other thing in her life.

She is the Founder and Keeper of the Mama’s Comfort Camp, a Facebook community that functions as a safe haven and refueling station for hundreds of moms from around the world. This community is free and open to moms of kids of any age, and we share our laughter, tears, and triumphs, all the while normalizing our motherhood struggles and bridging the gap between expectations and reality in a uniquely judgment-free environment.

Follow Mama's Comfort Camp on Facebook, where you'll find a community of acceptance, talk without judgment, and an openness to communication that may be just what you're looking for. Yael is an example of how the internet saves our lives.

I'm proud to be one of the Campers there today, and I would love for you to join us

Mama's Comfort Camp

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I dreamed last night that I was peddling a bicycle up a long, steep hill, that was deeply covered in snow, with my mother on the back of the bicycle. We had made it three-fourths of the way up, but not easily, and I had pushed my legs as far as they could go.

My legs were spent, but I knew that we had a lot more ahead of us. I cursed myself for not being stronger. Looking up to see how much more of a climb we had left, I knew we wouldn't make it. Steadying the bike, I turned around to look down and thought of how far of a fall we'd have. Without a doubt, we'd be separated by the tumble. I apologized to my mother in English, telling her in tears that I was sorry but that I knew I couldn't go any higher.

She answered me back in Spanish, "My poor daughter, don't worry. God will take care of it."

As I slowed, we lost our momentum and the bike began to teeter and veer sideways. I gripped the handlebars hard to keep control, but we came to a standstill. I shouted out to my mother, bracing her for what was about to come and warning her that it would be fast. We fell to the snow, sideways, somehow both of us managing to stay on the bicycle. Relieved that she was still with me, I grabbed for her quickly with my right hand.

But just as my fingertips came close enough to feel her skin, she flew.

Auggie and my mother, Christmas 2012

 Dreams are worth diamonds and gold.

We had a Doctor's appointment yesterday for my mother. The Doctor matter of factly told us that she has entered end stage renal disease, and that her kidneys are "sputtering." He also said that she is doing remarkably well and plans on seeing her again in two months. 

I was blessed with this dream last night.
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Let Me Tell You About Those Chirpy Birds

So you think those beautiful bird songs are all innocence, sweetness, lovely trilling at the joy of being able to fly? Guess what? There's a lot going on in the feathered kingdom, and most of it? Not G rated.

Be glad your kids don't have bird song decoder rings.

Brought to you via Aiming Low.

My post today, What our bird friends are really saying

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Grim Reaper Finally Got Him

I assure you, our guy did not look this good

I've tweeted about our scraggly bedraggled blue betta fish for over two hundred years now.

Made jokes about building him a tiny little fish wheelchair. Poking fun at the way he'd lay half on his side, half upright, he'd appear asleep or dead, both looking the same.

I'd harass him at dinner and bring him over in his fish bowl over to watch me filet whitefish.

I was so wrong -- but I only did it because I knew he'd last forever.

Why? Because three or four years ago while downstairs one day, probably again fileting whitefish, I heard my three boys upstairs shouting for me. "Mom! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!"

Slapping the boning knife down on the plastic cutting board, I leaped the stairs two at a time. I ran into the boys' bathroom where GoldFish Massacre III was now playing, in technicolor. Seems the separating mesh screen that kept our two pet betta fish apart had fallen to the side.The reason for the screen is the aggressive nature of the betta fish breed. My children stood, wild eyed, fingers in their mouths, as red betta fish was now pulling off scales one by one from blue betta fish. The fin brothers were going at it.

Have you ever seen betta fight? I'll tell you this, they're known as Siamese Fighting Fish for a reason.

It's nasty, dude. We had to painfully watch them circle one another while they took sneaky nips at each other and yanked each others' fins off. They moved, darting so fast, I just couldn't get them off of each other fast enough.

Amid my children's horrified screams, I hurried to remove at least one of them from the bowl, but with all the float like a butterfly sting like a bee Muhammad Ali stabbing and jabbing going on, it felt like forever trying to pull them to safety. The brawl was only seconds, but it was enough for our little blue guy to feel the brunt of it. From what was left of BlueFish, clearly, RedFish was winning. I frantically fished them both out (ha!) and kept them permanently separated after that. All I could think was how here we had moved to the suburbs, and my kids somehow end up with ringside seats to a Mexican cockfight.

While Mr. BlueFish did not emerge victorious, he did emerge with his life, albeit one fin shorter. Barely surviving his war torn state, we were sure we'd be playing taps for him before the sun came up to greet the day.

Well, if 7 a.m. the next morning didn't have us sounding like Gomer Pyle because, Sergeant Carter? Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. BlueFish was Christmas Miracle healed! And it was RedFish that had put his weary head down, never to Siamese fight again.

BlueFish had lived.

That was three years ago. Mr. BlueFish kept going, and we kept feeding him; me occasionally changing his water (though admittedly, I could've been more conscientious). Every day he'd call up his Siamese warrior genetic coding and play his game of "Ha! Try and catch me won't you, Grim Reaper!" We'd walk past and bend over his little bowl, whispering little fishy words of encouragement like "hang in there." I kept him on his toes by taunting him with translucent whitefish filets waved before him. There'd be weekly family updates on BlueFish.

That fish is the longest fish we've ever had alive, Mom.

I know. I don't know how he keeps going. Every time I look at him, I think he's dead.

Or depressed. Depressed or dead. That can look the same. (*thanks worldly wise 10 year old.)

Our family kept watch as BlueFish fought the good fight, heroically working his one remaining fin, it serving him like a broken oar to swim circles in his little environs. He became my cooking buddy, keeping me company in the kitchen as he sat in his bowl right next to the sink.

All plodded along well, until late Sunday night. I went to sprinkle in his black poppy seed-like shrimp krill just as I had done every evening for the past 877 nights and gasp! ... no need.

At the bottom of his round home, amid the blue and black speckled gravel, lay a lifeless glinting sliver of flesh. I gently shook the bowl, though I had a sinking feeling there'd be no movement other than his limp body in the resultant waves. Nothing, not even a pathetic attempt at a one-finned last wave good-bye to us. BlueFish had gone to a better place, one with cleaner water, where those without two working fins can swim. In a straight line.

We miss you, BlueFish. Now who am I going to wave this whitefish filet in front of?

**We miss you, little guy -- you were a scrapper. And will live on forever in what is now our family's rally call when times get tough, "What are you?! BlueFish or RedFish?!"

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photo credit: Cherrie 美桜 via photopin cc

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Explain Daylight Saving Time, Mr. Franklin

Mr. Franklin, you've done some crazy stuff, like those "fresh air baths" you insisted were so good for you when all you wanted to do really was stand in front of your front window naked.

And we all know about tying keys to kite strings and trying to catch electricity and who chases lightning in the hopes of getting struck??

But March 10, what you started with the setting of our clocks one hour FORWARD? You just couldn't get your naked self to the window fast enough so now, at 2 a.m., you've got us paying the price. That's just ... wrong. Selfish. We love our sleep. And on a weekend night especially. But now it's Saturday night and I'm so tired it's going to feel more like being unconscious than falling asleep, but first I have to knowingly set my clock ahead for something you've anointed as Daylight Saving Time? I'm supposed to have sweet dreams knowing I'm getting robbed?

As you get older, sleep doesn't just feel more like a cryogenic chamber. It becomes the time when free radicals within my system are being tamed;  I can feel my body restoring and repairing and replenishing. Sleep becomes my Oil of Olay.

And Benjamin has taken from me what I need more of, nature's Juvaderm. Time spent suspended in no activity is what I need to produce collagen -- the dermal filler and structural protein that plumps and smooths my creases and cracks. This is a serious matter. Beautiful, deep, restorative sleep -- and I'll be getting one less hour of it now.

For more salt in the wounds, I just found out tonight that a state can CHOOSE to participate or not in DST. Whaaaat? Yes, Arizona and Hawaii have just said no thanks. I feel like the day I found out I could have said no to the medical residents at our teaching hospital in that matter of an extra cervical check  (read able to check "saw ripe cervix of woman about to give birth" off their list of Things To Do To Graduate) when I was ready to deliver my babies.

I had no idea I could just say no.

We can say no to a lot of things, I keep finding out.

Why don't we say no? We have electricity now, we don't have to worry about a shortage on candle wax, Mr. Franklin -- and people don't quit plowing the fields because it's gotten dark out. Dark sky? Flip the switch on your John Deere tractor and keep on working. 

I'm with Arizona, no more messing with nature. Time is made the way it's made and our bodies have adjusted to it. All these tricks to fool ourselves and find extra light in our day, it doesn't change the amount of hours we have: 24.

I'm going to say no. On the outside, I'll go along with the rest of you because I have to, but the inside me is  saying no to Daylight Saving Time.

So many headaches come from it. Especially the biggest one, even bigger than losing an hour of age defying beauty sleep -- and it's this, a sound like fingernails on a chalk board: hearing Daylight SavingS Time. Said with an s after saving. Listening to that -- instead of Daylight Saving no S Time, over a hundred times today, is going to be hard to take.

Especially on one less hour of sleep the night before.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Secretly, My Life Was Better Than Easter Baskets

Hard to not be envious, as a child, of the kids who had Easter baskets taller than they were, stuffed with 24 inch high chocolate bunnies (bet they were hollow), miniature chocolate bunny eggs wrapped in pretty yellow and purple foil (impossible to peel, anyhow), and plastic eggs rattling with coins inside (pennies, I'm sure).


Unless you had something better during this time of year, like I did.

We Colombians do a lot of things to the moon and back, and Easter -- well, come find out why I say "No thanks, you can have your shredded plastic green grass."

I'm always proud to be featured at TikiTikiBlog, I'd love to see you there today for "La Via Dolorosa."

*thank you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

I can remember being in kindergarten and falling in love with the sturdy book in my hands. Bright clean colors within contrasting dark lines, the BIG BLACK FONT, all trademarks of a Dr. Seuss book. The box of new books had just arrived in our classroom while we were out during lunch, and we stood huddled around our teacher's oak desk, our tip toes up so we could see over each other's heads as she pulled the sealing tape off the brown box.

There were so many books, no one who wanted one, had to go without. I remember reaching for If I Ran The Zoo because of its stark white cover and haphazard black letters that almost filled the entire space. I flipped through the pages and the crazy pink skies and unheard of blue grass and a six foot tall polka dot cat, was it a cat? and trees that looked like spray painted ice cream cones had me running for the reading corner, where I could sit, uninterrupted, and read. Reading never felt like work in that classroom.

I learned to read with Dr. Seuss, something I've never forgotten. When my children were a year old I bought them each their own six book starter set of Seuss' books. Since my boys were only a year and a half apart in age, we quickly had a full dozen Seuss books in the boys' shared bedroom. They'd make their way over to their short book case every night and pull out their favorites for me and my husband to read. But many times I'd catch them on their own, tucked into their chairs, a Seuss book in their laps, imitating the words they'd hear when we read to them. In their wonderfully childish voices, they'd mimic "Da B book. B is for big brown banana boxes..." and one that I love still, "Are you my mudder? Are you my mudder?"

Yes, my children learned to read on Dr. Seuss books too. And that floods me with warm memories.

Happy birthday, dear Dr. Seuss, you made me think of myself as a reader.

If you have a little one, or know of someone else's little one, and they've got a special day coming up, gift them with some Seuss. Remember the silly loveliness of Seuss' illustrations and the rhyming ease that helped you guess at words so you'd feel accomplished and like you were reading, even though you weren't.

My children pretended to read two years before they actually could. And they did it with Dr. Seuss books.

Here's an awesome link to the best the Doctor has to offer, from his website, Seussville.

Thrill a child, let them think they're reading before they can. They're called self fulfilling prophecies for a reason.

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**TAKE your kids to the coolest interactive website EVER: Seussville.
(Games, clothes, puzzles, classroom aids, projects, printable sheets. Oh, and maybe one or two books. xo)

photo credit: charliecurve via photopin cc

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Did I Ever Tell You About The Time...

I stay up late.

Sometimes not smart to do. Because I'm alone, and things on the internet beckon me, in the way that some are called to order all the tupperware they'll need in a lifetime from Home Shopping Network. But for me? It's more dangerous than that because I log in to forums and support lines and start to think I can teach myself code in a night.

What happens instead is that I try to do a tutorial on designing your own web page and instead I'm pulled into a blinking offer/help room yanking my chain from my peripheral vision. Like what I have copy pasted here, from a real Blogger forum where you're given a choice of a link to click on, offering a "free blogger evaluation." So yeah, I clicked on that and entered my website url and said have at it, bro.

And this delight came back and it's just too good to not share.

Enjoy, on my account: my Blogger evaluation, courtesy of @elcapitan227:

Dear GoodDayRegularPeople: 

What is it that you hope to accomplish with your blog? What is it that you wish for us to evaluate? We have reviewed your request to evaluate your blog and cannot understand what the purpose of your blog is. Your purpose is unclear. What do you want us to review? From what we see, you have no main target audience or any sort of introduction as to why you are posting and what you are posting.

You have outgrown your platform as is sorely evidenced by the clutter on your sidebar. The sidebar is cluttered, and it's purpose is also unclear. Are you selling advertising? Do you have advertising space for sale? The purpose of your sidebar is unclear.

You list many blogs on your sidebar. Why do you have blogs listed on your sidebar? Do you write at the blogs listed on your sidebar? The purpose of all the blogs listed on your sidebar is unclear. Do the blogs on your sidebar pay to be listed on your sidebar?

We do not know what you are asking of us. You have crammed as many things as you can into your blog, and a first time visitor will have no inkling as to why they have been directed to your blog.

Also, who are you? It appears you are a rotund, rosy cheeked matron with short curly hair. Is this how you would like to be seen? Your profile is not one of a sophisticated woman. Your blog does not appear to be one of a woman who appears to wish to advance herself.

We suggest you begin over with a clean design. Uncluttered main page with orderly columns and much less color. Please have a professional photograph taken and placed in a more visible spot on your blog main page. Make the purpose of your website clear. What is it you offer? What are your skills? Why would someone want to be at your blog? We see no reason to be directed to your blog.

We are not sure if you have sent in this blog URL for a client or as a joke to us. Are you the author of this blog? If you are the author, we suggest you begin over, and study other blogs for at least three months before you begin again.



Go ahead, have some fun. Your turn -- ask ElCapitan227 to grace your pages with a visit. But, his services are only offered through Blogger's help pages. Lucky us.


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**ALSO THIS:  Thrilled to have been been named one of The Top 25 Humor Blogs by The Skinny Scoop Team. Haven't checked them out yet? You should, you'd like it over there. THANK YOU so much, Skinny Scoop. I am honored. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Almost Two Years Ago

Listen To Your Mother Show, Madison Wisc.
Almost to the day, in 2011, I drove an hour and a half to Madison, Wisconsin, to do something I have never done before in my life.

Inside a yellow folder in the passenger seat next to me were two white sheets of paper that would change life as I knew it. They were filled with the words I had carried inside of me for over forty years. The pages were so alive I felt like seat belting them in.

I was on my way to audition for a live reading presentation called Listen To Your Mother. I had heard they were looking for readers, to tell true stories from their lives. I had never read before an audience, and even higher at stake was that I had never told my story publicly. But I was ready to live wide open and free the gates to whatever came my way -- or left -- by telling the world who I was.

For too many years, my family, not meaning any malice, had imposed an unspoken rule of things not to be talked about. The weight of keeping a defining point in my life closed and locked had started to feel heavier each year.

I saw a boat heading my way now, and everyone on it waving me aboard, telling me "You have a story to tell, share it with us."

Almost two years ago today, I was chosen for the cast of the 2011 Listen To Your Mother Show, and I am now doing things in my life I have never done before.

Being heard, having someone listen to you and bear witness to your existence is an experience too powerful to try and put into words here. But I can tell you this, it changed me. I remember thinking at the time of my audition, whether I'm chosen or not, this is win-win for me, because someone listened to my story.

It's two years later now, and my world has gone from auditioner with LTYM to producer of LTYM. I am in the fortunate role of being able to offer just this opportunity of being heard, to others. Jennifer Gaskell and I are the co-producers for Listen To Your Mother Show/Milwaukee, and today is our first day of auditions. We will hear over forty people who have decided to share their lives on stage, and yes, we are honored. Yes, we can't wait to give your life a microphone while you share your tale as a small part in making the world smaller by bringing us together with your words.

Ordinary people with extraordinary tales.

Jenn and I feel so very honored.

Thank you, Listen To Your Mother, and Ann Imig, creator and founder, for trusting us with your show. Thank you, Deb Rox, for your brains and consulting/advising powers. THANK YOU to BlogHer, for their third year of supporting LTYM as our National Media Sponsor. Read how they paved LTYM's way here.

The not so quiet revolution of people sharing their lives across 24 stages this May is changing the world -- the way it changed mine.

*For information on Listen To Your Mother shows, tickets, and 24 locations nationwide, please visit their national website. To catch the spirit of a LTYM show, there are over 200 videos of readers up on the LTYM youtube channel for you to see. To see my piece from 2011, please click here.

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