Happy 34th Birthday to Me!

On this day in 1980, I was born.  So much has happened in 34 years yet it seems like there’s so much more I haven’t done!

Like go to NYC.  I’ve never been.   Sal, if you’re reading this, I want to go.   Oh and maybe Vegas, Australia, and Spain, and places in Asia, and South America, and California again, and, and, and.  Can you tell I didn’t find out I wanted to travel until I entered my 30′s???

live once

Maybe it’s because I’ve been popping out babies and breastfeeding for so long and am just itching to step out of my cage, er I mean house.  I’m craving exploration, adventure, and seeing as much of the world I can.  There is a piece of me that cringes with regret that I didn’t do this when I was younger, before marriage and kids.  At the same time I didn’t have those aspirations when I was in my 20′s.  In my twenties it was easy for me to say, “Some day….” to myself.

In my thirty-four years, I’ve made some really wise choices…and some, well, not so wise choices.  All from which I learned a great deal.  It’s amazing, really…how I’ve not ended up dead in a ditch somewhere…or in jail…or pregnant…oh wait.

Something shifted when I entered my thirties and am still experiencing this life shift.  I’m becoming less fearful and more fearless.  I’m speaking up.  I’m standing out.  I’m becoming comfortable in my own skin.  I’m figuring out who I am.

silence

It sounds contradictory but I’m also trying to practice the art silence.  This is hard for me.  I began to find my voice in my mid-twenties and now I’m learning when to most appropriately use use it.  I was silent for so long in my youth that once I found my voice I wanted to shout from the rooftops!  I found quickly that it’s much like beating someone over the head with a bible.  Sometimes it’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing and sometimes that is to just shut up.

Life can high extreme highs and extreme lows.  I’ve learned that really, really, really horrible shit can happen to you…Life altering, not sure you’ll ever find your way back to your old self, kind of bad shit…and you can somehow manage to keep on a trucking’.  You never do find your way back to your old self, though.  You sort through the muck and mud and emerge a different version of yourself.  I wouldn’t necessarily say better, rather, different.

when-you-stand-and-share-your-story

I’ve learned everyone has a story.  Sharing mine is not only therapeutic for me but it also opens the door for other people to share their stories and perhaps make at least someone else not feel so alone in theirs.  My husband recently told me I am disarming.  He told me that people tend to let their guard down around me.  I’m still trying to process what he means and if I really measure up to that compliment (that is a compliment, right?).  Another person observed me with a child (not my own) and called me a “Kid Whisperer.”  Apparently listening and engaging in people in general is a strength of mine.  Who knew?

I crave connection.  Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain I’ve always known that relationships are the most important and unique part of being human.  These intimate connections to people in my life over thirty-four years solidifies this sentiment.  People come in and out of everyone’s life over the years.  There isn’t often anyone I forget and feel disconnected to even years later.

“She holds the hand that holds her down. She will, rise above.”

-Pearl Jam

Lyrics in songs mean different things to me than they did even ten years ago.  Books and stories mean more to me.  Reading and listening to poetry, sermons, or speeches resonate with me more now than they ever did.

I soak in what young people tell me, especially my own children.  Their thoughts and opinions about life and about me are direct feedback.  I need that.  They are blunt.  I don’t discount anything they say simply because they are children.  It is their truth and it shouldn’t be ignored.  Children are also the best models for forgiveness.  Oh how they show me forgiveness daily.  It humbles me.

Forgiveness-Quotes-1

Children best modeled what forgiveness looks like.  There are still many people I need to forgive and let go of the hurts they caused me.  My happiness is contingent upon me forgiving them.  I struggle with feeling like my happiness is contingent upon them saying sorry.  The truth is they probably have no idea how deeply they’ve hurt me and probably never will and I will hold onto this resentment and in the end it ends up harming me.  So as much as I would love to hear those two magical words, “I’m sorry” I need to accept that this is unlikely to happen and just be happy.  On the flip side I can’t be so arrogant as to think I never hurt anyone and they are feeling the same way about me.

My eyes widen and my heart opens when I listen to people who are 20+ years older than me.  When the older generation is willing to be authentic, open, and honest about their life, I listen.  I’m not talking about the negativity or the condemning.  I can tell when it comes from a place of judgment verses a place of love.  It might be a subtle difference but it is definitely different.  I’m stealing a line from someone who said to live our lives with “the path of least regret.”  That is why I’ve made some seemingly off the wall and unconventional decisions for me and my family.  They aren’t random and senseless to me.  They are very much intentional.

Intentionality.  This is my current mantra; being deliberate and mindful of everything I do.  It doesn’t always happen but when it does there are amazing results.  I feel the best, I smile more, and I enjoy life more.  I never fully understood this until recently.  I just thought it was yet another hippie phrase and for those really far out there people.  And now here I am trying to apply mindfulness into my life.

acceptance

And finally acceptance.  This one recently burrowed itself into my life to the point I can no longer ignore it.  I had an aha! moment recently when talking about a situation I’ve desperately wanted to be different but it just isn’t and hasn’t been for a long time.  I tend to lean toward wanting to change something or at least waiting for it to change.  I cling to hope.  I hold onto what should be and what could but, not what actually is.  Acceptance is a hard one for me.  I think this will come with more time and maturity.

the-intentional-home

On my 34th birthday today, I am reveling in the intangibles time teaches.  I’m loving this phase in my life.  I think back on the past and dream of the future yet not remain in those places.  Today I am focusing on the present.  That is the best birthday gift I can give myself.

Posted in Being Human | 2 Comments

Keira is 4!

My Keira.  Boy, has she grown up in the blink of an eye!  4 years old.  Wow.

My 4 year old

My 4 year old

Love her face!

Love her face!

Keira

Keira

Being silly

Being silly

She is so verbal and uses complete and complex sentences, vocabulary that doesn’t quite seem age appropriate (in a variety of ways) yet is used correctly.  She talks and talks and talks.  Aurelia and Lucia complain that she won’t stop talking when they are trying to go to sleep at night.

Keira at 8 months old.

Keira at 8 months old.

During her third year she ended nursing and has most recently given up a nighttime diaper.  She’s becoming more independent.  She’s hung out with older kids for awhile now so I’m not sure if she know or even desires to play with children her age.  She seems to get plenty of fulfillment and challenge playing with the older kids.

She is a physical child.  She is strong.  The things she is able to do with her body are amazing.  We are taking a gymnastics class within the unschooling community and she refuses to let people help her because, “I can do it myself!” as she says.  She will separate herself and sometimes go away and becoming very upset if people insist on helping her with anything.  It’s best to ask her if she can do it herself before assuming she needs help.  She also wants to open every door herself.  This is very important to maintain harmony while we are out in public.  Always let Keira open the door.  She wants to do tasks around the house herself like put the toilet paper roll back on the toilet paper holder with the spring action holder.  She wants to cut up food when we are cooking.  She wants to make her lunch herself.  She wants to be assigned tasks to complete herself.

Keira, age 1

Keira, age 1

She also wants to help her sisters.  If she gets a snack she grabs enough for her sisters too.  If she gets herself a drink she will get her sisters a drink.  Food items, dishes, and other things that end up upstairs she will bring down to me without being asked.  She knows they belong downstairs and just does it.

She loves to tumble around the living room.  She learned to ride a scooter when she was two.  She has developed incredible motor skills with outside play.  She loves to jump off of high things and likes to jump far.  She enjoys testing her physical abilities.  She runs fast!

She has a contagious smile.  When I’m lying in bed at night and I go through my day in my head, when I come to her and think of her in my head it’s always with her huge smile.  She will give the biggest and tightest hugs.  She loves touch.  She will also lick my cheek instead of a kiss.  When she does kiss me she smushes her face up against mine.  She loves cuddles and when she crawls into bed on some nights with us she taps me on my back and asks in thorough enunciation, “Mom, can I please sleep with you guys?” It’s like 2am and she conjures up a complete sentence, with the word “please”, and says it in a fully awake voice (homegirl hadn’t even had her coffee yet).

Keira, age 2.

Keira, age 2.

She will sleep hard and long.  Her sisters have commented that once Keira is asleep she doesn’t wake up for anything.  They’ve turned on lights and played loud games and apparently she stays asleep.  She seems to play hard, work hard, and sleep hard.

Keira, age 3

Keira, age 3

Entering age four is surreal.  It still feels like she is two to me.  I remember all of the moments when I’d nurse her and rock her when I was pregnant with Elisha.   I loved squeezing in those last moments with her before her youngest sister was born.  Occasionally, I still get to rock her.  I love her touch just as much as I’m sure she loves mine.  Her hands are so comforting.  She loves texture and is tactile.  I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she told me, “Soft bread.”  One time she grabbed a loaf of Mrs. Baird’s bread off the shelf at the store and gave it a huge hug and proclaimed, “Ahh!  Soft bread!!” Touch, feel, and sensory things are important to her.  She will also brush my hair and wrap her arms around my neck.  I love it.  I love giving her squeeze hugs right back and smushing my face up against hers too.

Her goal this year is to grow her hair out.  A few months ago she decided to give herself a mullet.  We went ahead and cut it so it would be even (and people wouldn’t look at me like my kid had mange).  Now it is growing out at the same rate.  So watch out for a longer haired version of Keira this next year.

Sure she’s had her 3 year old moments but this girl is so happy with life.  When she has had plenty of rest, a full belly, and engaged she is full of energy and loves life.  She wants to feel it all!

I love you, Keira!  Happy 4th birthday!

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Stories and Lessons from a Kidney Stone: Part II

Stories and Lessons from a Kidney Stone: Part I

gerson heal

In the hippie world I live in there is always an underlying emotional issue which explains the physical manifestation of a problem. According to the eastern side of things these are the emotional reasons for what I experienced physically.

 

Kidney Problem
Criticism, sensitivity, disappointment, frustration, shame, fear. Chronic anger. Feeling like you didn’t do enough.

Kidney Stones
Lumps of undissolved anger.

From Health Problems and Emotional Causes.

 

Am I aware of these emotional issues inside of me? Hell yes. I am human after all and have a past I still deal with while I try to also digest the present.  My past is full of some dark shit.  My present is full. I have four children who are home with me all day every day.  I much prefer my present but my past does get in the way.

It’s frustrating when I am stressed and people tell me to just relax and calm down. Or my favorite is, “Don’t worry about the mess. It’ll be there tomorrow.” Yes, for me to clean up double now. For me to do more. That stresses me out more. Big messes are hard for me to tackle. Smaller messes are easier for me to tackle. If a person doesn’t have children at home all day every day, then we are coming from different places.

I’d love a few hours a day to get done what I need to get done. It’s not possible. I’d love to really work on my stress and anger and shame and everything else I feel. It feels overwhelming because four little souls need me constantly. When people offer me suggestions other than taking my kids for a bit or getting me a cleaning crew to do the heavy cleaning it feels like a suggestion they want to give so they can rid their heart of a burden they know is too big to handle instead of really helping.

I struggle with feeling this is all my fault. I created this and now I must deal with it on my own. Do not ask for help, Valerie. It makes you appear weak, Valerie. Then when you ask for help you must return the favor. I have a lot of negative voices in my head that I battle daily.

I think it’s hard to really understand what it’s like to be a stay at home homeschooling mother of four children with no family around to help on a semi-regular basis unless you are also that person. And when you are that person you are so overwhelmed in your own life that you really can’t help. I find it hard to relate to a lot of people. Pulling this load on my own takes it’s toll and has a downside. This time the downside was a two-day hospital stay. I crashed and burned big time.

It’s a wake up call for sure but I’m not sure how to fix it because things need to change and I feel that so much is beyond my control. Having a health scare like puts me in a place of vulnerability. It makes me feel lonely. Ashamed. Angry. Sad. I still do not feel good enough.

shine-your-light-on-the-road-ahead

I share the emotional reasons behind kidney issues because maybe it’ll help someone else.  I share because I think we are all too silent about our emotions and the psychology around disease and health.  I think too often we think we are handling something and then it presents itself in a physical symptom like a headache, anxiety, stress, stomach ache, irregular heartbeat, etc.

I’m just one little voice speaking up in a sea of people who rather not talk about emotions because that’s just not want you’re supposed to do or the stigma surrounding anything to do with psychology and emotions. Negative emotions are to be squashed and buried as soon as possible and no one is ever supposed to talk about them. Ignore it and definitely never share it with anyone.  Never share the bad things that’ve ever happened to you because you will be judged, right?  Suppressing emotions are such a good idea. Um, okay.

I find it frustrating when the older generation doesn’t share they’re struggles with the younger generation. I know they’ve had them but they do not talk about them at all.  At least this is not the experience I’ve had.  I wish someone were to tell me the good, bad, and the ugly about different phases in life but they don’t. They just don’t. The silence is deafening. The older generation tends to ignore, change the subject, or shame us when we struggle. Sometimes they just address the physical part of the issue. Never the emotional part.

I hope to share the whole picture with my kids. I hope to be there when they are doubting or get their heart broken or feel worthless or are scared because I want them to know I’ve been there too. I remember.  I was there too.  I want to share my stories with them no matter how hard I may want to suppress it because of what I’ve been told and no matter how hard it is to utter the words because my stories make me human.  Sharing my life and stories, the good, bad, and the ugly, is probably the best gift I can give my children.

 

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Stories and Lessons from a Kidney Stone: Part I

What do you when you wake up one morning peeing blood, and have kidney pain???

Well, if you’re me you try to ignore it, brush it off as a UTI, take some herbal shit from your hippie medicine cabinet, and go about your day…for the next week or so.  And on some level it helped.  I think the infection I had did subside, especially in the kidney without the stone.

I’m the type of person who under reacts.  I always think it’ll get better on it’s own because for the most part things generally do.  Plus I don’t like to inconvenience anyone and I knew that I’d need to find someone to watch the kids and whatnot.  Annnnd I don’t trust western medicine.

kidney stone

The next Tuesday I was struggling to move or breathe because of the pain and started vomiting.  That’s when I texted Sal that I  might need to go to the ER.

When I was wheeled back to the ER I was put in the “safe room”. You know, the room they put the patients who might be a danger to themselves or others.  Score!  I wasn’t flailing about or cussing at anyone so I’m not sure why I got that room.  No one ever gave me confirmation if I was or was not put there for that reason.  They just kept smiling when I’d ask.  WTF?!?!  I still wonder…

Yeah, so I cannot just go into a hospital asking for Dilauded.  I'll look like a drug addict.

Yeah, so I cannot just go into a hospital asking for Dilauded. I’ll look like a drug addict.

But, I got a shot of Dilaudid while I was in there…a few hours AFTER getting in there because apparently patients with a stroke and a heart attack came in after me and they got priority.  I totally get that.  The doctor was apologetic when he came in a explained that the 5mm kidney stone patient (me) kept getting bumped down on priority.  I don’t mind waiting.  I just wanted to wait with drugs in my system.  I’ve had Morphine before but Dilaudid took pain management up a few notches.  That’s some good shit.  Why don’t they sell this stuff on the street.  Wait.  They do.  I found forums online of people shooting this stuff up in place of heroin and some people liking it more than heroin.  See, when drug addicts give their seal of approval, you know you’ve got the good stuff.  And good it was.  I hadn’t a care in the world.  I was flying high on Dilauded.  I was content, pain free, oh so pain pain free, I could lay in any position and it not hurt, but I was also loopy at shit.  I also cannot be help responsible for whatever words came out of my mouth while on drugs.

When I was being transported to my room after being admitted (mind you I was on drugs at this point), I asked the transport guy if he was taking me to the psych floor. I swore I thought they all thought I was not mentally stable and lying about a kidney stone since they put me in the “safe room” and didn’t give me pain meds for hours.  This had to have been the pain meds but those voices were quieted down with the carefree, on Dialudid, voice in my head that said, “You’re cool as a cucumber.  Nothing phases you.”

In the time I was there I had 5-6 nurses.  Something like that.  There was one who was a repeat.  I had 2 doctors. One urologist and one internal medicine.  Only one nurse was really really good.  I made sure I told her so too.  I made sure I complimented the shit out of her.  She deserved it.  She seemed to actually genuinely care and went out of her way for me.  One nurse yanked my arm down and forcefully injected morphine into my IV when I told her morphine wasn’t working and it wasn’t what I was given.  She basically told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and I just needed to give this a second chance.  Did it work? Nope.  She finally found the paperwork (which had been crumbled up – not sure why) and it said Dilaudid.  She had an “oh shit” look on her face and changed her tune.

The urologist saw me the next day and said that I needed the stone out immediately because of the damage/blockage it was causing since in it wasn’t passing.  I was put on the books for a noon surgery for removal.  Kidney stone removal.  I’ve had this done once before when I was in college.  It was more mortifying then because I hadn’t been through childbirth where a roomful of people can see your vagina.
kidney stone surgery
This kidney stone removal involved going up my urethra with a scope, camera, and a bunch of other tools (I’m not sure how they fit all those instruments up such a small tube) and either break it up and get it or just grab it and pull it out.  His goal was to not put a stent in.  The possible consequences of breaking it up is causing pieces to lodge up into the kidney and usually ends up with a stent to allow them to fall out over time.  When he went to grab the stone it flew up into the kidney and he had to fish around for it.  He was able to pull it all out though.  No stent needed.  However, my whole naked lower half of my body was on display for the 6 people in the surgical room.  I’m just glad I wasn’t awake to make eye contact with any of these people while the surgery was going on.  It’s not like a beautiful newborn baby is coming out and everyone ignores the vagina.  I was giving birth to a kidney stone, through my urethra.  Totally different.

Pain afterwards was more intense than it was before.  There was a lot more inflammation since there were lots of instrumentation up there and he had to go digging around for gold, I mean the stone.

It is things like this why western medicine is helpful.  Acute, emergency type situations.  From here, I will handle this a non-western route and get to the root cause of my now 2 episodes of kidney problems and stones.

I do not think my hippie medicine cabinet failed me.  I actually think it helped in this issue.  I did need a manual removal of the stone in order to clear the infection on the left side.  My right side was fine.  This is a case of complimentary medicine working.   I think that if I had gone to a traditional doctor prior to the ER, they’d have put me on antibiotics for a bladder infection and sent me home.  I’d still have a had the stone and I’d have had to have it removed anyway plus more antibiotics.  I do not regret my path or decisions.

I broke this post up into two parts because the second post is less funny and more of a serious tone.

Stories and Lessons from a Kidney Stone: Part II
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Lucia is 6!

This girl.  Seriously.  I love her.

Age 6

Age 6

When she's silly!

When she’s silly!

Beauty

Beauty

Adorable

Adorable

For awhile Lucia walked in Aurelia’s shadow.  I know that feeling.  I am the second sister as well.  She is moving out of her older sister’s shadow and becoming her own person with a vibrant personality and her own desires and dislikes that are completely separate from her older sister.  Whether that is in spite of her older sister or not I’m not quite sure.

Lucia, 9 months old

Lucia, 9 months old

At first Luica appears shy and quiet.  She waits until she gets to know a person really well and is comfortable with them before she unleashes.  She is the most unabashed around me and her sisters.  I don’t say this to brag; it’s an indicator of her personality.  A person must invest the time, and lots of time with her in order for her to open up and be herself.  In public, around friends, and other family members she is more reserved.

Lucia at age 1

Lucia at age 1

I hesitate to say the word sensitive because it generally comes with a negative connotation.  I personally think being sensitive is a good quality.  Lucia is intentional and mindful.  She is precise.  She knows exactly what she is doing.  She is determined.  She doesn’t like to be told what to do or how to do it.  It has to be her idea.  She is usually the first one of my kids to get dressed for the day.  She is hygienic.  She brushes her teeth and hair and asks for baths.

Lucia age 2

Lucia age 2

She can also get her heart broken.  And when someone hurts her she is terribly crushed.  Her cry is loud and makes you want to rush over to help her.  Her face gets red.  She embarrasses easily.  There is a certain way people have to talk to her.  When she likes something you will know and when she doesn’t like something you will most definitely know.

Lucia, age 3

Lucia, age 3

She is quite the character.  She has a wonderful, playful, and fun personality.  When she laughs she gives a full belly laugh.  Her laugh and joy is loud.  She doesn’t hold back in happiness or silliness.

Lucia, age 4

Lucia, age 4

Age 5 zoomed by.  I really enjoyed age 5 in both her and Aurelia.  Now we are entering age 6.  I’ve already started to see some stages of development that I remember from her older sister.  She is starting to be more picky about her food.  Aurelia went through this stage too.

She seems to be working on figuring out who she is separate from me and her sisters.  She’s revealing her truth.

Lucia, age 5

Lucia, age 5

While she continues to figure out who she really is and what makes her so unique from anyone else in the world, I am here to get to witness it.  It’s been a pleasure being her mom.  I get to learn what makes her tick; what she loves and what she hates.  I’m getting to really know her.  I’m standing on the outskirts just observing and guiding when necessary.  I look forward to see what else she reveal about herself this year!

Happy 6th birthday, Lucia!

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Conversations About School With My 8 Year Old

It seems the best conversations happen while we are in the van.  Yes, we have a tan minivan.  Go ahead and giggle at the large family stereotype but once you take a ride in this sweet sweet hunk of metal you will be hooked too.

We were driving to another unschooling meet-up around the city and we drove by the local elementary school that they girls would attend if they were in school.  It is within walking distance of our house and we pass it every time we come and go from the neighborhood.

Aurelia working on writing letters to friends.

Aurelia working on writing letters to friends.

Aurelia piped up and told me that she thinks she would like school. She had a few questions and I answered them as unbiased as possible because I want her to really make the decision herself, not a decision based on my own biases.  Through her questions I realized that she had no idea about mandatory attendance requirements.

Writing

Writing

I asked her what she thought she’d like about school.  It seemed to be she was focused on the play part about school.  I asked her what she liked about staying home for her education.  She mentioned she liked going to her museum classes, the art class she took, the many many days at parks, playing with her friends, watching movies, going to San Antonio whenever, spending long periods of time with the grandparents, etc.

There was a long pause.  I could tell she was thinking about a solution.  She said that I could just pull her out of school when she wanted to go do these things and I could just let her teachers know she would be gone that day.  Easy enough, right?

Her innocence and naivety is refreshing.

I attempted to explain attendance laws but I could tell it wasn’t something she could relate to because it doesn’t apply to her.  It was fascinating to hear her sum up the way she wants to learn and how school should be.  The idea of partial attendance at school is a progressive one for sure but there are some schools that allow for this.  Sudbury Valley Schools are schools that allow for this structure.  The only one in Texas is in Austin.

I enjoy having these conversations with our children as they grow and develop.  Aurelia is starting to figure out the ways in which she isn’t mainstreamed.  As she has questions about why we are doing what we are doing, I answer.  Most everyone in close proximity to her goes to school.  Sometimes she forgets about “school nights” or all the schoolery things that are just part of most family’s lives.

I’ve learned I cannot shelter the kids from all things school because we are surrounded by it.  School nights, report cards, grades, attendance, fundraisers, worksheets, school calendars, are just a part of mainstream society and it’s almost impossible to not live somewhere that is affected by school somehow.  We are saturated in schoolery.  It’s all around us.  I’ve also learned that this is perfectly okay.  I never went into unschooling for the reason of keeping them in a bubble.

I find it intellectually stimulating to be exposed to diverse ideas, philosophies, and people.  We can all stand to learn something from each other.  If I only allow them to be exposed to other unschoolers based on that commonality alone I’m doing them a great disservice.

life_learning_is_about

Unschooled kids play school.  They ask about school.  They are genuinely curious about the world around them which includes school, why some kids are in school, and why some kids are at home.  Unschooling isn’t necessarily the absence of everything school.  They don’t see either choice as right or wrong.  At this point they just notice differences.  Aurelia is curious about it all.  I think it’s healthy to have these curiosities and questions.  It means she is thinking.  She is processing.  She is learning.  Isn’t that the whole point?

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A Lopez Family Christmas 2013

Yes, I realize this post is about a month late.  If you don’t like it you can suck it (keep reading for the explanation for the phrase “suck it”).  I’ve been busy wiping asses unclogging toilets adding miles to the minivan calming anxiety unpacking putting Christmas shit away breaking up sister fights remembering to shower recovering from Christmas.

Hanging out at Enchanted Springs Ranch in San Antonio.

Hanging out at Enchanted Springs Ranch in San Antonio.

I’m working on de-stressing myself.  I gauge my stress levels by how many people I want to tell to “suck it” on a daily basis.  I think that number is beginning to lower.  I take that as a good sign.

Away in a manger no crib for a bed...

Away in a manger no crib for a bed…

Lucia outside of The Majestic Theatre, San Antonio.

Lucia outside of The Majestic Theatre, San Antonio.

Keira outside of The Majestic Theatre, San Antonio.

Keira outside of The Majestic Theatre, San Antonio.

Aurelia outside of The Majestic Theatre, San Antonio.

Aurelia outside of The Majestic Theatre, San Antonio.

I felt like Mother Christmas this year…and that’s not sarcasm there (shocker, I know!) I’m patting myself on the back for it too because I’m unsure if that will ever happen again.  I felt I kinda screwed my kids out of  Christmas 2012 because I had just had a baby.  Nothing says Merry Christmas, Kids! like pushing out a 9lb baby rendering yourself out of commission for the weeks to follow.  However, this Christmas I made sure we hit up some cool things around the city to add to their bank of childhood memories.  The bonus of homeschooling is that we don’t have an obligatory bedtime for a school morning so we were able to hit up different Christmas activities during the weeknight when the wait was nil.  We didn’t have to wait for anything.  The other key was doing most of these activities on or before December 15th or so.  It all worked out fantastically.

Waiting for a table on The Riverwalk.

Waiting for a table on The Riverwalk.

Lucia and her comedic relief.  We might be related.

Lucia and her comedic relief. We might be related.

Strolling by The Alamo at Christmastime.

Strolling by The Alamo at Christmastime.

She will pose for me.

She will pose for me.

The Alamo

The Alamo

2013 Tree at The Alamo.

2013 Tree at The Alamo.

My Keira.  Love her.

My Keira. Love her.

We squeezed two Lopez children birthdays into December.  Aurelia’s 8th and Elisha’s 1st.  Aurelia decided she wanted to go to Galveston for a night in lieu of a party.  Fine by me!  Her caveat was that Mimi Tina and Papa Sal HAD to come too.  Again, fine by me!  My inlaws are more awesomer than of your inlaws hands down.  If you don’t think so you can suck it.  

We spend the actual Christmas holiday with Mimi Tina and Papa Sal.  We got to see family and friends while we were there too.  It was a bit crazy trying to cram it all in hence why it’s taken me awhile to recover from the frenzy but it was a good time.  The girls had a good time.  The sibling fights commenced like a regularly scheduled program.  It seemed amplified at the grandparents house because it isn’t our own house and I feared for the safety of nice things around them while they were flailing about.  We, on the other hand, do not own many things that we would be devastated if they broke or were ruined for this very reason.  If you don’t have a nice new couch then it’s not that big of a deal when a kid cuts the fabric with scissors.  If you have shitty carpet then it’s not a big deal with kids spill all kinds of stuff on it.  If you have white rental property walls then you just slap on some more white paint when they draw on them.  And if you buy used vehicles then you don’t freak out too much when they carve hieroglyphics into the exterior painted side door with metal.  Metal on metal.  Love the sound!

Back to Christmas.  My inlaws work hard to make their granddaughters feel special at Christmas.  My mother in law has bags with their names on them that their gifts get put into on Christmas morning.  Thank God for my mother in law.  She fills in where I forget.  It takes a village, people!  (Notice the placement of the comma.  I didn’t say it takes a Village People because that’s not even grammatically correct if you were thinking about The Village People…YMCA!!!  Altogether now!  Young man…crap.  I digressed again.  Damn Mommy ADHD)  Sal also did more than his fair share of Christmas-ing.  I’m certain that if it weren’t for him we’d not put up a tree or any decor because to me that means if you put it up then you must take it down and I just don’t like to add any more work to my load.  Sometimes I have to squash the extreme minimalist desires in me because I’ve been told it ruins fun.  I secretly want to own one of those tiny houses floating around the internet or better yet travel the country in an RV.  I don’t want to be known as the fun ruiner…any more than I already am.

Aurelia and Daddy.

Aurelia and Daddy.

Not sure if this was illegal or not but they were climbing around on these monument/statue thingies.

Not sure if this was illegal or not but they were climbing around on these monument/statue thingies.

We got to spend some quality time with my sister and her family.  The cousins had a blast together.  That’s always really neat to watch them interact.  I love my own cousins and have some fun family memories with them as well as being able to talk about and compare our parents weirdnesses behind their backs.  Kidding!…sort of.

I have a dear friend, Julie, with whom I’ve been friends for 21 or 22 years or so now (We became friends in 7th grade and now we are 33 going on 34).   I love her.  We’ve been navigating wifedom and motherhood for the past 10 years and haven’t had a moment where it’s been just us in a long time.  I got just Julie time on this trip and it meant the world to me.  I’m always the hold out of one on one friend time because it seems I’m constantly popping out babies.  I love reconnecting with her.  I cherish the time that it’s just us.

Elisha looking out of the hotel window.  We were treated with a night at a hotel in San Antonio.

Elisha looking out of the hotel window. We were treated with a night at a hotel in San Antonio.

My brother in law, Luis.  He's been around our family for over 20 years.  He acts tough but he is a sweetheart.

My brother in law, Luis. He’s been around our family for over 20 years. He acts tough but he is a sweetheart.  His t-shirt is awesome.  They are expecting their 4th baby boy this spring/summer.  So it’s fitting.

 

My mom in the kitchen of the house we grew up in that my sister and her family are living in now.

My mom in the kitchen of the house we grew up in that my sister and her family are living in now.

Me and Elisha.  The one and only picture I have of me in it from the over 500 I took.  Tisk, tisk.

Me and Elisha. The one and only picture I have of me in it from the over 500 I took.

Cousins

Cousins

gun safety

gun safety

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

My father in law on Christmas morning.  I hope he doesn't freak out about me posting this picture.  He's an awesome grandpa.

My father in law on Christmas morning. I hope he doesn’t freak out about me posting this picture. He’s an awesome grandpa.

It's these faces on Christmas morning!

It’s these faces on Christmas morning!

Elisha on Christmas morning.

Elisha on Christmas morning.

Sal’s extended family is awesome!  I really lucked out marrying into his family.  Not that my family isn’t nice…maybe except for a few people but Sal’s family would never write a blog with the phrase “suck it” in it.  His aunts, uncles, and cousins were extremely thoughtful in their gifts and time.  My grandma sent the girls some things as well.  I sometimes feel guilty about getting things from my grandma for the girls because she really shouldn’t worry about those things, ya know?  I feel bad about her spending her money.  But, my grandma is awesome.  She is the girls’ last surviving great grandma.  As I get older I’m growing more and more appreciative of her.  I hope when I’m a great grandma that I will get to the point where my grandkids think I’m cool again like I do with her.  I have to stop talking about her or I’ll get all choked up and emotional.  If you’re reading Grandma, I love you and appreciate ALL that you have ever done for me (even the stuff I don’t remember and you do).

Another picture of some of the cousins.  We are missing my other nephew and my brother and sister in law's kids.

Another picture of some of the cousins. We are missing my other nephew and my brother and sister in law’s kids.

She loves this.  Elisha and her Daddy have a special bond.

She loves this. Elisha and her Daddy have a special bond.

Not to add a cliche summary statement but…In conclusion, this Christmas rocked my socks!  2013 Lopez Christmas will go down in history like Rudolph the mutha effing Reindeer.  (Go ahead and laugh at that.  You won’t go to hell.  Promise.  And if you do, tell satan to suck it.)  It’s a rad thing to watch your kids open presents on Christmas morning.  They could open dishwashing soap for all I care.  It’s not what it is that I like watching, rather, it’s the anticipation of it all.  It’s the moment of looking at the wrapped package and not knowing what it is.  It’s all the activities and fun we have building up to Christmas Day.  It’s all of it.  I loved every second of Christmas this year!  

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