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Holá, José

After a day and a half of driving (well, mostly it was Mom driving and me sleeping in the car), we finally arrived at my sister’s – and nephew’s – doorstep. It was finally time for me to meet my nephew, José. I’d talked with him on the phone a few times, even Skyped with him. But soon I would see him in the flesh. My desire to hug him was already overwhelming, though I knew to wait for him to come to me. When my mom went down to Colombia to help out Jess, it took José a couple of days to warm up to abuela. (It didn’t take so long with abuelo – my father – but we figured that was because he’s also a dude.)

So, when he greeted me at the door and then ran away, shrieking happily, I didn’t take offense. Jess was there to give me a big hug, which I always enjoy. Right away, José was eager to show me all the surprises he and Jess had for me. First, there were presents. Of course, if there’s a kid around presents, it doesn’t matter who they’re for, the kid should be the one to open them. So I asked him to help me open them and even though he’d help Jess wrap them, he still acted surprised at what was inside. Everything was from his birth country: a journal, a mug, and a purse with Colombia’s flag colors on it. He tried to put the purse on my head like a hat, unsuccessfully.

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José looks over the coloring pages.

Being an aunt, I had presents for him and Jess as well. José received a Thomas the Tank Engine, coloring pages drawn by my friend Burt, and many books, including one that he and Jess had read down in Colombia. He recognized it right away and made a happy noise. Jess’ presents were a little less exciting but much more sentimental. One was a picture frame I’d made with the word “family” in big letters and the “gotcha date” stamped on it. The picture I put inside the frame was the first picture that Jess had sent me from Colombia, the two of them grinning to finally be with their family. Her other present was a set of watercolor paintings done by my friend Veruca, who is married to Burt. I’d commissioned her to make a watercolor map of José’s hometown. As a surprise, she also made a watercolor map of José’s new hometown. I framed them and Jess hung them up in the living room. They look great and I enjoy seeing them every day!

Even though José kept asking for mas, there were no more presents, but there was another surprise in store for me. I followed him into the kitchen where he showed me the torte he and his mama made together. We all sat down and had a slice. Yummy!

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José lets me hold him as abuela laughs at his adorable smile.

The next few days went by in a blur of playing, laughing, and being utterly exhausted. I knew that new moms got tired a lot; I didn’t know that new aunts did, too! By my third night, I passed out on the couch as Jess put José to bed. I slept for 12 hours that night and felt as if I could have slept even more.

We all went to the pool one day and abuela and I played with him while Jess took a well-deserved and much needed nap in the sun. He doesn’t know how to swim yet, but he knows how to hold his breath under water and kicking his legs. He likes to be submerged in the big pool, but is too scared to go by himself (he refuses to use the floaties). But that first day we were at the pool together, he let me hold him as I walked around the pool. He clung to me but he had a huge grin on his face and I relished in the time I got to hold him. I also got to sneak in a kiss. It meant so much to me that even after not knowing me for very long, he trusted me enough to let me carry him through the “scary” water.

And here’s our first family photo with Tia Liz (notice the creepy abuelo in the background?):

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(left to right) Abuelo, Tia Liz, Mama, José

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in About me, Everyday Life

 

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T minus 12 days

The last time I posted, I wrote about finding a job so I could uproot my life and move closer to my family. Well, I I finally landed a job and have been in the process of packing and tying up loose ends for the past several weeks. In exactly 12 days, however, I will have my moving truck loaded and I’ll be hitting the road.

I’ve already had to say a couple of goodbyes. One to a great friend and coworker who is out now out of town on vacation. Another to a fun guy that I was just starting to get to know. Tomorrow, I have my farewell dinner and drinks with whatever coworkers can make it. I am still working this week, though, so I’ll have plenty of opportunity to say goodbye to my coworkers. Then, the day after my last day at my job, I’m having friends over to consume everything in my kitchen (so I don’t have to move it) and play games. This will be my final face-to-face farewell.

I haven’t been as teary-eyed as I thought I would. I think part of it is because I still have so much to do and the scope of the journey I’m about to embark on hasn’t fully sunk in yet. Part may be because I hold hope that I’ll see my friends again if they ever make it out to DC and/or I come back for a visit. One reason for sure, though, is because I’m so excited to meet my nephew and finally be near family and that excitement has pushed away any fear, worry, sadness that I may feel. The sadness probably won’t really hit me until I lock my apartment door for the last time and hit the road. I’ll say one final goodbye in my car as I leave the city that holds my friends – my second family – who’ve loved and supported me for the past 13 years.

For all of you who I consider a friend, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t have made it through many holidays without you opening your homes and arms to me. I wouldn’t have sought the help I needed when dark thoughts settled on my mind. I wouldn’t have the knowledge or confidence about myself without you to help me see it. In short, I would not be the strong person I am today without you. It’s because I’m strong that I’m able to uproot my life and start over in a new place. Gracias.

(Shit. Now I’m crying.)

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in About me

 

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Yes, I know it’s been awhile (only half a year) since I posted so I’ll try to make this “catching up” post brief.

The most significant change in my life is my relationship status. Fred and I called it quits back in September, though we both saw it coming for a while. There are no hard feelings between us – we just wanted something different out of the relationship that the other couldn’t provide. Yes, we still talk, but not like we used to. He moved out and I’m in the large apartment by myself. For the most part I enjoy the quietness of living alone again but I do get lonely at times.

The holidays were the worst for this. My sister came to spend Thanksgiving with me and we had fun crafting art for our walls. I spent Christmas at a friend’s house, expecting just good food and good company. The family surprised me by getting me a wonderful gift – a certificate for a massage! Needless to say, I felt that my coming with a partially drunk bottle of spiked eggnog was not a significant exchange. Gift aside, just being around people on Christmas was good. Had I been home, I would have been on the couch crying. (Although, come to think of it, I did cry that evening, but that was because we saw Les Miserable.) New Year’s was probably the most uneventful; I spent a few hours at Judy’s house watching The Twilight Zone marathon. Just before midnight we flipped to another channel, one showing the ball dropping in Times Square. When the clock struck midnight, we gave a very unenthusiastic “woo”. And, no, we did not kiss (pervs). So, I wasn’t alone for the holidays or my birthday (smack dab in the middle of December) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t shed a few tears.

Not all is gloom and doom, though. I am expecting to become an aunt soon, which is very exciting. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say on the internet so for the time being, I won’t say anything else. Mom and Dad are enjoying retirement. Last year they took a three week trip to New Zealand and Australia and next week they’re going to Tahiti. What an adventure!

Of course a new year brings new goals. My goal first and foremost is TO FINISH EDITING MY NOVEL AND SUBMIT IT TO IUNIVERSE! I wrote that in all caps because it’s been four years – FOUR! – since my dear friend Mike gifted me a publishing package. That’s too long and it looks like I’m ungrateful for the wonderful opportunity to see my words in print; I’m not ungrateful, just scared. But I’m also anxious to move on to another writing project. This one just needs to be wrapped up first.

I also want to continue to grow my card business. If I hadn’t mentioned in previous posts, I make sarcastic greeting cards called Sarcasm Included. I opened an Etsy shop and have a corresponding blog. I’m reading books about making your craft into a business and just have to remember: one step at a time. Also: craft every day. That is something I need to be better about (as well as writing every day).

The other big goal for 2013 pertains to books. (Who’d have guessed?) Last year I had a goal to read 40 books, which I did (sadly, counting a few picture books) so this year I have a goal to read 45 books. Last year I also hoped to read 6 classic novels but I didn’t even read one. I think I was overwhelmed by my first choice, which was The Annotated Wizard of Oz. “Overwhelmed by The Wizard of Oz?” you may be thinking. Yes and I’ll tell you why. The annotated version started off with 100 pages of introduction to L. Frank Baum’s life and the evolution of the Oz series. And I’m not talking 100 pages of paperback proportions. The book is wider and taller than the average hardcover book so the amount of text per page is significantly greater.. I’m talking 100 pages of that. So I got through that (it took awhile but I did it) and then I started in on the actual book itself. First was Baum’s own one-page introduction (ah – one page! How nice!). Unfortunately, this came with three pages of annotated notes.

So that’s where I stopped with that. Too much too soon. If I’m going to drudge* through 100 pages of introduction for weeks on end, I want the rest of it to be easy. I think I’ll go back and read just the book at some point and skip all the notes. Either way, lesson learned.

That’s the news for now. Hopefully I’ll be posting more here as well as my other blog and Etsy shop. Thanks for reading!

*It was actually a very good, detailed introduction and I enjoyed it for the most part. It just felt like it took forever because one page took several minutes to read so reading for an hour and only get a few pages done made it feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything at all.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in About me

 

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What’s “I love IKEA” in Swedish?

My long weekend: Day Two

After my rad 30-ish birthday party, Jess and my cousins, Missy and Kate, came over to my apartment.  We played drinking games and sang along to songs until we crashed.  Sadly, Jess and I crashed early (around 10pm).  We’d both been up since the wee hours of the morning, but her even more so because of an early flight.

The next morning we met up with Fred at a quaint breakfast place in town.  It came recommended to me from a coworker and it did not disappoint!  Usually, a veggie omelet and some toast will fill me up nicely.  But this place had a lot of items that looked too good to pass up!  So Jess and I decided to get our own meal but then split the “Dreamy French Toast”.  “Dreamy” doesn’t even describe it properly.  It was far beyond that.  It was nirvana.  I inhaled my slice like there was no tomorrow and drooled as I watched Jess eat her piece.  I wanted more!

After breakfast we said goodbye to Kate and Jess, Missy, and I piled in my car and headed east.  Missy needed a ride home, which was 2 hours away, and Jess wanted to go to IKEA, which was near Missy’s house.  Road trip!  We stopped at IKEA first and the three of us walked around, trying out chairs and couches as potential buys for Jess.  I always like looking at their organizational solutions and especially love all the bookcases and entertainment centers.  I have to be careful when I go into an IKEA so I don’t buy everything that I see (it wouldn’t fit in my car anyway).

When my blood sugar started to drop, though, I had to go ahead of Jess and Missy to the cafeteria and get something to eat.  I had to bypass the kids’ section, which is a lot of fun to look at.  I don’t have kids and don’t plan too, but I like looking at all the cute decor.  Usually I go through that section and think, “I would have loved this as a kid!”  After I got my food, I was waiting to get my drink from the soda fountain when a woman came up at the same time.  I stepped aside and gestured for her to go first.  She did.  Another woman, a bit older than me, walked up.  I told her she could go ahead.  “I just need ice,” she said.  I told her that was fine, all the more reason for her to go ahead.  “No, you should go.  You were here first.”

“It’s okay,” I told her.

“Here, I’ll get your drink for you.  What would you like?”  She grabbed my glass and started filling it with ice.

I smiled.  “Cherry Pepsi, please.”  She filled the glass and handed it back to me.  “Thank you.  That was very nice!” I told her.  She smiled and we went our separate ways.

Once Jess and Missy and I met back up, we were ready to start on the next floor.  This is the floor that usually gets me in trouble because I want almost everything I see.  As we descended the stairs, I squealed, “Oh!  New bags!”  I have several IKEA shopping bags (the big, rectangular bags with funky designs).  I like to use them when I go grocery shopping because they’re big and hold a good amount of weight.  These new bags even zipped up, which I thought was brilliant.  Jess, of course, just rolled her eyes at me.  But I was a good girl – I only got one (I have about 5 more at home).

Overall, the three of us only got a handful of small things (Missy didn’t even get something for herself; it was for Kate).  As I waited in line, a husband and wife went by, pushing their cart and their tell-tale yellow bag (yellow bags hold unpaid merchandise).  The cashier stopped them and said that there was no unpaid merchandise beyond that point.  The couple seemed a bit stumped.  I was amazed.  If you’ve never been to an IKEA, let me explain.  Once you wind through the entire store, you come to the checkout lanes that span the length of the room.  There is no way to get out without going through a checkout lane.  It’s quite obvious just by looking at one’s surroundings that one is to pay for her items here.  So, when the couple didn’t realize that they had to pay at one of the 25 checkout lanes, I was quite shocked.  Did they think that all these people were just standing in lines for fun?

One of the things I like the most about IKEA is the water efficient toilets.  For liquid waste, you push the handle up.  For solid waste, you push the handle down.  Depending on which way the handle is pushed, the toilet will use only the needed amount of water.  I don’t know how much water is saved, but could you imagine if more places did this?  We could save so much more water every day!

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2010 in About me

 

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Why my sister is not allowed to eat cupcakes around me

My older sister, Jess, and I talk on the phone at least once a week. For a while now we’ve had a rule: no eating cupcakes while on the phone. It’s not because they make a lot of noise or because we find it rude to be eating and talking on the phone at the same time. No, our reason is so no one dies.

A few years ago Jess and I were chatting away as usual. I don’t remember what we were even talking about, but I had Jess in stitches. I enjoy hearing her laugh and I continued on with my story. After a few silent minutes, however, I said Jess’ name. There was no answer. I tried again but still with no avail. I looked at my phone to make sure the call hadn’t dropped (it hadn’t) and that there was a signal (there was). I was dumbstruck. What had happened?

Shortly there after Jess came back on the line by announcing, “I’m back!”  I asked where she’d gone and silently wondered why she hadn’t informed me that she was going somewhere.

It turned out that while she was laughing at my hilarious story, she was also eating cupcakes. At one point she inhaled some of the cupcake crumbs and started choking on them. She dropped the phone and ran to the bathroom to try to get it out.  Meanwhile, I’d continued rattle on, unaware of the danger that was happening on the other end of the phone.

We laugh about it now (with empty mouths) but we learned a lesson: food and funny do not go together.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2010 in About me, Food

 

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My one great shot

The house in which I grew up bumped up against an elementary school. It was perfect because our backyard extended into the playground. My friends and I could run over and play on the swings or in the sandbox and Mom could still see us from the house. We spent many summer days hanging from the parallel bars and playing tag in the vast field.  It was a child’s dream.

Each summer Grandma and Grandpa K drove from Florida to Illinois to visit us (with a stop in Ohio to see my cousins).  They packed their golf clubs in the trunk alongside their suitcases.  Grandma and Grandpa loved to golf, as did Dad so their visit was a good excuse for him to get out on the course.  I’d never been that great at golf, despite the summer we took lessons as a family.  (The lessons were held in the high school’s wrestling room that constantly smelled of sweat.  It was hard to concentrate when breathing in that odor for an hour.)  Even with putt-putt, my ball somehow always ended up in the water trap.*

One particular summer evening with Grandma stands out in my mind.  Grandpa and Dad were in the living room watching TV while Mom was in the kitchen preparing dinner.  From the window Mom and I could see Grandma practicing her swing.  She stood in our backyard and faced the school’s wide field.  She hit a few balls into the field and then collected them.  Mom gently suggested that I keep Grandma company until dinner was ready.

When I got outside, I watched Grandma swing a few times.  She then handed me the club and urged me to hit a ball.  I took the club in my hand and tried to remember the stance: head down, knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-length apart, arms straight, eye on the ball.  I swung the club back and brought it back down and made contact with the ball.  It flew…just a couple of feet.**

Grandma suggested that I keep hitting the ball and within a few minutes, and after several, several strokes, we were at the far edge of the school field.  “Let’s hit our way back to the house,” Grandma said and I agreed.  I could certainly use the practice.  I placed the club by my ball, bent my head and knees, kept my arm straight.  “Try swinging with your hips,” Grandma offered.  With that bit of advice, I focused on the movement of my hips as I tried to let memory take over the rest.  I pulled the club behind me and then swung it back down.  The club hit the ball and it sailed high into the air.

While I was celebrating like any child would (jumping up and down and screaming with delight), Grandma covered her eyes.  “Did it hit a window?” she asked.  I hadn’t really paid attention to where it went; as soon as I saw it fly, I celebrated.  We rushed back to the house and scoured the back yard (after Grandma checked all the windows, which were still intact) but we found no ball.  We didn’t know where it went.  It wasn’t until after dinner that Grandma finally found it.  The ball was in the front yard.  I’d hit the ball over the roof.

*Nothing has changed to this day – the ball still makes its way into the water traps, though a little less frequently than it used to.

**For sound effects, click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ytCEuuW2_A&feature=related

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2010 in About me

 

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