Monday, October 31, 2011

Boy Meets Pumpkin

All month long The Husband had been bugging me about carving a pumpkin.  I bought stickers and last week The Husband and The Boy decorated the pumpkin together.  Halloween isn't really my thing.  So I figured sticking stickers on a pumpkin would be enough.  Yeah...not really.   

This year is the first year that The Boy is excited about it.  He gets it. On Friday I asked what Monday was and he said "Halloween!" with the biggest grin.  (Although Saturday's snow storm confused him and told us it was Christmas.)  So The Boy knows he will get dressed up, go from door to door begging for candy that I will probably not let him eat (because let's be for real, The Boy does NOT  need any candy). 

While taking pics of The Boy with his pumpkin, The Husband told me that he had never carved a pumpkin before.  And I realized why carving a pumpkin meant so much.  I guess it's true what they say, we really do live out a second childhood with our children.  :) 

Um...You want me to do what?



All Done! 

Don't know what to do with your pumpkin seeds?  Check out this post by Nicole Presley of Presley's Pantry (wish I would have seen it yesterday, I threw out the seeds).   
What To Do With Pumpkin Seeds? Make spicy curry pumpkin-seeds or halloween maracas for all to hear. 

What do you do with your pumpkin seeds?  Let me know! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'll Walk To The Sensory Gym If Needed

On Friday night, I was almost tempted to cancel our session at the Sensory Gym.  I was tired and privately paying for therapy is starting to catch up with us.  But then I found The Boy in the bathtub, fully dressed with half a bottle of Johnson's soap poured all over him.  So yeah, cancelling was no longer an option. 

Since The Husband had class, I had to take The Boy on my own.  Which means not 1, not 2 but 3 buses to get there.   When The Boy and I left in the morning it was raining,  a little light drizzle but I decided to run back upstairs to get an umbrella.  The result: missing the 1st of our 3 buses.

Someone once told me that sensory gym doesn't do anything academically for The Boy, it just makes him a more well rounded person.  NOT TRUE!  The Boy is so much more focused.  So if it takes 3 buses in the rain, sleet or snow to get there - I go.  I'll walk if I have to - because I know that an hour in the gym makes a huge difference.  See for yourself ~

The Boy in the swing, engaged in listening therapy
In another swing, getting a little massage.  Notice the dim lights.  With the music.

After 15 minutes of the swinging and a brush massage (I watch with envy, wish someone would give me a brush message to help me relax).  It's time for the rock wall.

"To infinity and beyond!"

After doing this a few times, The Boy is ready to write.  

The Boy with the OT - drawing a boat

The OT's boat is on top.  The Boy copy of a boat.  His is right under.  GOOD JOB!

When we left the sensory gym - it was snowing.  And I was happy The Husband was picking us up. 

View from the car. The Boy told me it was "Christmas time!"

After the sensory gym, we have lunch at our favorite neighborhood restaurant where The Boy loves the Horchata. 

Just another day in our city!  

What's a Sunday like in your City?  Unknown Mami wants to know!  Go on over to Sundays In My City.              

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Help "Holdin Out For A Hero" Raise Money for Spina Bifida

Promoting Awareness of Spina Bifida
October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month and to help increase awareness about Spina Bifida, we’re joining Laurita Tellado of in a Blog Carnival Fundraiser to raise funds for Laurita’s Walk-n-Roll event on October 29th. 
To Donate $5 or more, click HERE.  Gracias!
October may Spina Bifida Awareness Month, but for Laurita it's every single day of the year.  And I am so proud to call Laurita one of my (blog) hermanas.  Over the last few months, I have read her blog and been inspired.  Not only is she charming, witty and smart - she is a woman making a difference.  I could go on and on about the kind of woman Laurita is.  But I'll let her tell you.  Read her story below. 
- ### -
October is an eerie month, filled with monsters, mummies, and the macabre. But while the occasional witch or skeleton might freak you out, one must concede that there are indeed more frightening things– like finding out your child will be born with spina bifida.
And yet, each day in the U.S., an average of eight families welcome a child with spina bifida into the world. Annually, an estimated 1,500 infants are born with spina bifida each year in the U.S.
I was born with spina bifida nearly two and a half decades ago. The diagnosis came as a total shock to my family, along with an entire set of secondary complications. I was also born with hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain.” During the first ten years of my life, it seemed I was in the hospital every other week with a bladder infection or shunt malfunction. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t really scary at times.
But then, at age ten, I discovered a fantastic way to defeat my worst fears– knowledge. I vowed I would educate myself and read up on the condition that, up until that point, seemed to be taking over my life. Much like a child who imagines a ghost is in his closet, grabs a flashlight and realizes it’s only an old coat, I had come to the realization that, when you take the time to learn about something, no matter how terrifying it may seem at first, everything is less scary in the light of knowledge.
According to the Spina Bifida Association of America, “spina bifida remains the most commonly occurring birth defect in this country.” Just how common is it overall? PubMed Health, the Web site of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, reported in March of this year: “Myelomeningocele [the most severe form of spina bifida] may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants.”
As a 21-year member of the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida, I’m doing my part to shed light on this condition by raising money for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. When my parents and I moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando, Florida in search of better educational and healthcare opportunities for me in 1990, we found a support system away from our family and homeland in joining the SBACFL. My personal search for a public spokesperson for the spina bifida cause, as well as my work as a current member of the SBACFL board of directors, have helped me find my true purpose– galvanizing as many people as possible to support the spina bifida community.
So, in the spirit of shedding light on a little-known condition, and in honor of October, which is Spina Bifida Awareness Month, here are some statistics about spina bifida that might spook you a bit:
  • Spina bifida is more common than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.
  • Latinos have the highest incidence of spina bifida out of all the ethnic groups.
  • Ireland is the country with the highest incidence of spina bifida in the world.
  • About 50 percent of babies with spina bifida areselectively aborted after being diagnosed with spina bifida.
  • Doctors recommend that every woman of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida up to 70 percent of the time. In spite of this, there are currently an estimated 166,000people in the U.S. living with spina bifida– up from just 76,000 just last year.
  • About 90 percent of people with spina bifida are also born with hydrocephalus. Many need a shunt inserted near the brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid– and many requiremultiple shunt replacements during their lives.
  • Other very common secondary conditions include bladder and bowel incontinence, as well as frequent urinary tract infections.
  • After the onset of puberty, young people with spina bifida are more prone to clinical depression than most people. Researchers think this may be due in part to social isolation.
Being able to share this information with all of you today is without a doubt the most empowering and inspiring aspect of my life. I’d love nothing more than to give you that very sense of empowerment. Please publish this post on your own Web site(s), and feel free to add your own personal intro that will make it relevant to your blog followers. As many people as I’ve managed to rally in support of this cause, you have an advantage that I don’t–your audience. So, please share this information with everyone you come into contact with.
Below is a video that explains just why the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida means so much to me, and why I’m participating in the Walk-N-Roll.

I will be raising money online for Team Holdin’ Out for a Hero until October 29th, when we have our Walk-N-Roll event. Donations can be as small as $5 or as large as $50,000. (Yes, I do like the $50,000 better!) Every cent counts! Every cent of every dollar will go towards supporting families affected by spina bifida in 22 counties in and around the Central Florida region and supporting educational and awareness efforts.

Yes, to the new parent, or even to the already-grown individual, spina bifida can seem like a scary thing to deal with. But there’s a power in numbers and a strength in awareness – a strength that gives us the courage to open the closet, shine the light in the ghost’s face, and reduce it to nothing but an old coat.
Thank you for helping me conquer my biggest fear– ignorance of spina bifida.
~ Laurita Tellado,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beware of El Cuco, Not Johnny Depp

When it comes to Halloween, I'm probably the least fun person in the world.  I don't care for dressing up or watching scary movies.  Sleepy Hollow is about as scary as I'll get and I really only watch that because my Johnny (swoon) is in it.  Come to think of it, the only other scary movie I'm up for watching is Nightmare on Elm Street - also featuring Johnny.  I'm beginning to see a pattern here...

So the point is - I am not one of those people who enjoys being scared poopless.  No I don't want to watch The Shining or Paranormal Activities or a Friday the 13th movie.  No I don't want to go into the haunted house at the amusement park. I am not that kind of gal.  I scare too easily - my imagination goes into overdrive.  The few times I've been forced to watch scary movies, they've kept me up all night (with all the lights on), for many nights following.  NOT FUN!  I dare not mention any of them, I'd like to get some sleep tonight.  
Fear of things that go bump in the night, often begins at childhood.  Growing up, the thing that scared me the most was El CucoFor those unfamiliar with El Cuco, it is the Latino equivalent to the Boogey Man.

I don't even know what El Cuco look likes.  But I imagined him as a crazy looking monster of a man, with rotting teeth, blood red eyes and filthy claw like hands.  El Cuco lurked in the dark, doing horrible things to children who disobeyed their elders. 

These horrible things were never quite explained but at 5 years old, I wasn't taking any chances. 

Not really El Cuco
but if I had to imagine him,
this is really close.
(painting by Francisco Goya)
While my mother threatened me with her chancla, my father threatened me with El Cuco. 

El Cuco was always going to get me.  It was my father who put this fear of El Cuco in my young mind. He would quickly flicker the lights on and off a few times, "El Cuco's going to get you!" he'd yell.  And I'd scream, begging forgiveness and promising to behave. 

I remember some nights falling asleep with my hand wrapped tightly around my bed rails, just in case El Cuco had plans of snatching me in my sleep.  Which in retrospect seems stupid because (a) if El Cuco really wanted me he would have cut off my hand and (b) El Cuco is not even real so why I am even analyzing this...

What was your  childhood fear?   

Post inspired by Mama Kat "Something that scared the Hell out of you when you were a child. (inspired by Mama Sick)"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Witching Hour

The Boy wakes at 3 am for the second day in the row.  And when he wakes in the middle of the night, it's often after midnight, usually between 3 - 4 am. The Boy wakes with giddy excitement.  Ready to play.  Turning on lights.  Pulling out books to read.  Singing songs.  Dumping his legos or magnet letters out of their bins, clattering on the hard wood floor.  He is talking, giggling, making eye contact.  He uses 6 - 8 word phrases, pronoucing every word clearly.  He, in fact, does so well that I often want to praise him for "good talking."  I do not.  

And on these nights that he wakes, I am up.  Sometimes letting him play, laying in his bed or in mine with one eye open.  Mindful that at any moment, he could run into the kitchen or open the front door. And other times coaxing him back to his bed.   

Is it the change of routine that sets this off?  Is it the quiet of the night? I have no idea. 

What are your kids up to in the Witching Hour? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

All You Need Is 10 Minutes

The Boy had me up at 3 am this morning.  I am not even half way through my day.  I.  Am. Tired.  There's another word that I can put between Am and Tired but I try not to be a potty mouth on my blog.  I was supposed to write my blog post on the train this morning.  But I was nestled in between two strangers.  And I'll admit - the extra body heat was just what I need to take a little train nap.  Complete with my head rolling, dreaming and maybe just maybe a little bit of drool.

So needless to say, not a blog post was written this morning.  But it was supposed to be on motivation.  I had a discussion with The Husband over the weekend and I had this whole post written in my mind.  Anyway, I'll just cut to the chase.  

Motivation.  If you want to do something.  You do it.  We all don't have 3 hours a day to do what we want or love to do.  I certainly do not.  But every day I give myself at least 10 minutes.  Don't believe me?  

This post took me 10 minutes.  

Have you taken 10 minutes for yourself today?  

We are what we repeatedly do. 
Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Motivation quote

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Where Oh Where Did October Go?

It's October 23rd and we have yet to pick an apple or a pumpkin.   

At this point, we probably won't.   Come to think of it, we haven't done anything that screams fall family fun.  (Like go to the Great Pumpkin Blaze.) I feel bad about this.  I hate feeling as if I'm not doing enough for The Boy.  But it's been a tough month for all of us. Even our poor Betty Blue Subaru has taken a beating. 

Oct 2010: The Great Pumpkin Blaze
Fall 2010 HHG class trip
Fall 2010 HHG class trip

This morning I told The Husband that we need to buy The Boy a Halloween costume. 

"Why?  We have 2 more weeks," The Husband says.

"Um no.  We don't.  It's next Monday."

So we set off in search of one. Arriving at Store #1, The Boy said "Yes!  I love Halloween!"


Inside Store #1 was a MAD HOUSE.  And the process was dramatic.  Wait on a line.  Then pick out your costume from the wall.  Then wait for someone to bring it out.  The line wrapped around to the next aisle.  Navigating the crowded  store with The Boy was difficult.  Especially with bins of candy EVERYWHERE. 

Store #2 was not at all crowded.  But The Husband didn't approve of the costumes.  He sort of takes this Halloween stuff seriously.  So we left to Store #3.  On the way to Store #3 The Husband says, "Hey Babe, did you know the McRib is back?"  The Husband and I discuss the big issues.

Store #3 was a success!  Now The Boy has a cool costume - one that The Husband is extremely proud of.  (You'll see those photos next Sunday.)  

This is the first year, The Boy seems to be really excited about Halloween.   When he saw the plastic pumpkins in Store #3, he said "We need to find the perfect pumpkin!" 

At this point, we won't have the time to go and pick the perfect pumpkin but there's nothing stopping me from just going to the supermarket to buy one.

And there's one more weekend left in October.  I will make it up to him.

Tonight we'll read his favorite Halloween books (Good Night Goon and Happy Halloween Little Critter) at bedtime.  Maybe we'll even watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  

I tell myself that it's not always about where we go or what we do - so long as we are together.  
The Boy waiting patiently for  lunch
What's a Sunday like in your City?  My Sundays are pretty boring lately - but the folks over here seem to know how to have a good time.  Unknown Mami's Sundays In My City.              

Baby Steps to Building a Dream School

Ever since writing my post on Building a Dream School I have been amazed by all the support I've gotten.  And when HE sent me an email - that's when I really knew, people are actually reading.  And not only reading but interested in this project.  I mean, I know you all are in support.  We're old friends by now.  But other wonderful folks have sent me emails with encouraging words, asking what they can do to help, telling me about what works in their schools.

And it makes me feel like - okay, we really can do this.

The week after I wrote my post on Building a Dream School there happened to be a webinar - Charter School 101.  Talk about fate!  And other cool stuff like that has been happening.  I've been meeting people in the special education field.  A really close friend is working with some education groups in the City.  And slowly, I'm building this network of people who could help make the Dream School a reality.

Anyway, last night, I went to visit my very good friend, Michelle, who has experience setting up a non profit.  And we started filling out the paperwork!              

some of the paperwork/research materials

the Certificate

We're still not finished.  Just a few more details before the certification can be signed, sealed and delivered.

I realize that I am on a long road, that every step is a baby step.  A school can't be built in a day.  But I'm moving forward, whether this takes 1 year or  10 - I know that this will really happen.  

Another thing I've learned about this process is that it's time consuming and it costs money.  There are filing fees to consider, forms to fill out, a bank account to open, a budget to create...

I would love to be able to bankroll this whole project myself.  But the reality is - I can't.  And I would hate to see this project fall to the waste side because I cannot afford to start the initial process. 

If you would like to contribute to this, please click on the donate button.  

Every dollar makes a difference.              

Thank you!  

Friday, October 21, 2011

22 Things I've Never Done Before

For those that know me personally, you know that I have a goofy sense of humor and that whenever possible I can laugh at pretty much anything - especially at my own expense.  So when I came across this prompt and saw how much fun other blog writers had with it, it inspired me to write one myself.

22 Things I've Never Done  
Nor do I (most likely) have any intention of doing.   
So here it is (in no particular order) 
 I am 36 years old.  
And I have never:

1. Watched a single episode of General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, Dallas, Dynasty or Falcon Crest.  Seriously.  I have no idea why - I am all about tacky, trashy, over the top TV.

2. Said the words "Let's get outta here."  (Did you know this phrase was "the most common scripted line in all Hollywood productions between the late 30s to the mid 70s?")  

3.  Danced on a table.  Though I'm sure I've been tipsy enough where I considered doing so.  Come to think of it, this, I might do - if ever given the opportunity. 

4.  Been double dogged dared to stick my tongue to a flagpole. 

5.  Eaten bulls testicles.  I'll leave that to Anthony Bourdain.

6.   Been on a cruise - the Bahamas booze cruise does not count and neither does the Circle Line.  A vacation cruise is one thing I have absolutely no desire to do - ever.  

7. Entered a mosh pit.  I get annoyed during #6 train rush hour.  How the hell can I survive a mosh pit?  And I don't want to get hurt.  And people who enter the pit scare me a little.

8.  Been assigned to a quest, journey, secret mission or covert operation.  (I believe there is still time for this.)

9. Returned worn underwear.  I worked retail for many many many years - including the lingerie department at A&S - you would be totally surprised and grossed out by the things women will return.

10. Put a message in a bottle and thrown it out to sea.

137/365 I'll send an S.O.S. to the world... 

11. Stormed out of a room and yelled, "You haven't heard the last of me!"  (Though I think this EVERY SINGLE TIME walking out of a DOE meeting.)

12. Really told my parents just how much I appreciate them & love them.  (This is something I will have to do.)

13.  Made someone a mixed tape.  Yes,  a tape.  Not a CD, not a play list - an actual tape.  Can you even buy tapes anymore?

14.  Gone scuba diving.

15.  Jumped out of a plane.

16. Stalked my celebrity crush - that's you Mr. Johnny Depp.

17.  Walked down a yellow brick road. (Or fallen down a rabbit hole.) 

18. Dressed up as Princess Leia or Wonder Woman for Halloween.

19. Read any of my writing out loud.

20.  Traveled down Niagara Falls in a barrel.

21.  Belted out a song in public while listening to my iPod. The people who do this really fascinate me.  Especially when they sing horribly - I sort of admire that kind of courage.

22.  Watched Foot Loose.  The original with Kevin Bacon.  I'm actually ashamed of this one.

Have you done of any of these things? 
If so, then you 
(A) kick ass and 
(b) NEED to tell me ALL about it.  
Here. Now.  
And even if you haven't done any of these things,
please tell me so, that way I don't feel so alone.  
Thanks :)

Post inspired by the prompt "list 22 things you've never done," from Mama's Losin' It as borrowed from The Pioneer Woman.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Needed To Snooze Just A Little Bit Longer

Yesterday morning at 5 am, I jumped out of bed, showered, wrote a quick post while drinking my morning cup of coffee and made pasta so that I can make lunch for The Husband and myself. 

This morning?  Completely different story.  The alarm went off at 5 am and instead of waking up, I walked into the bathroom (because that's where I keep my alarm clock) and hit snooze.  I snoozed for about an hour.  And I would have loved nothing more than to keep right on snoozing.

But I had to wake up and get ready for work.  Get The Boy ready for school.  Make the beds and clean up a bit so that when my mother comes over later she doesn't yell at me for leaving the apartment in a complete disaray.  Yes, at 36 years old I still live in fear of having my mother yell at me. 

Last night I started a blog post about the importance of family in our lives.  But then I looked at my syllabus for the semester and realized, I am way behind on my work. I have at least 2 short stories to write - one for each class.  I'm taking American Gothic Literature and a Fiction Writing workshop.  A ton of reading to do catch up on.  And a presentation paper to start.

I've been struggling a lot with school lately.  More so than usual.  It's not easy, working full time, being a mom and a graduate student.  I'm tired of doing it.  There are nights when I sit in class, listening to the kids talk about how busy they are, I just want to laugh.  So many of them work part-time, are single and without kids.  They don't have a clue.  And there are nights when I sit in class, thinking about The Boy and everything going on in our lives that talking about the symbolism in Poe's The Black Cat seems pointless.  I'm a different kind of student.  Don't get me wrong, I care and I want to do well.  I'm just in a different place. 

So last night, I really started thinking about fiction writing and I began working on my short stories.  This is what a got so far ~

GothicThe black water of the Bronx River...

FictionOn the nights that I woke up screaming...

I actually wrote more than this but I obviously I can't post it all here.  And this morning instead of sleeping on the downtown D, I wrote.  And one short story for my fiction workshop is almost complete.  And I have an idea of how to approach my presentation. 

So instead of writing something sappy and meaningful about how much the help of my family means to me, you get this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Long Awaited Dreams

So this is The Boy fast asleep with his weighted blanket.  I realized it really made a difference the other day when I needed to wash it and he didn't have it.  The Boy was up ALL NIGHT LONG.  From 12 am - 2 am with The Husband.  And then from 4 am with me until he went to school.  

See how peaceful The Boy looks.

BUT wait!  It totally works for husbands too.  :)