My Brood

Sharing my goals and receiving inspiration.

It’s February 5, 2016 already, and for a lot of people who make resolutions, they’re starting to fall apart, if not all but forgotten by now.  I, too, had a list of resolutions for the year.  I’ve started most of my resolutions: gain weight, spend more, keep a messy room, stop working out…you know, the usual.  I managed to add a few serious ones in there, too.

One in particular – learn sign language.

It’s not the first time but, over the busy holiday shopping season, there were more than a couple of situations where I wish I had known sign language so that I could help someone who was struggling with a store employee.  I can’t even begin to attempt to be helpful in that particular situation and that’s frustrating for me; imagine how they feel.  😦

So, I shared this particular “resolution” with my kids and my youngest princess was super excited.  So much so that she decided she wanted to do it, too.  Like most things, it was exciting at first; the thought was exciting.  Then came the part where I try and figure out where to begin.  There are so many resources online and, as we all know, everything on the internet can‘t be trusted so I really had to do some research.  Then life happened and the momentum was gone.

2 weeks later my princess had her dad send me a video.  The video was of her saying “good night” to me in sign language.  I absolutely loved it and it sparked a new excitement in me.  A few days later, she was at my house again.  I came home from work and when I walked in the door she didn’t speak like she normally would, she signed “Hi Mom.  Finally, you are home.”  #proudmamamoment  It was so sweet.  Of course I had to ask her what she said, but still, it was so encouraging to see that she was trying to learn.

It inspired me, but not enough.  Not yet.

The next morning she signed that she loved me.  That evening we were sitting at the dinner table and she has a piece of paper out with a long list of words on it and she said, “quiz me.”  After I was done quizzing her, she signed “thank you.”  I asked what that meant.  She told me.  Then she finally says, “Mommy, who’s resolution is this, anyway?”  That’s when I finally put aside my excitement about HER learning it and decided to do what I said I was going to do.  How embarrassing for me to have my daughter remind me that it was me who said I wanted to learn so that I could help others.

The rest of that evening was spent learning the alphabet alone – it’s hard to teach this old dog new tricks. 😉  The next morning, she comes into my bedroom, half awake, and says, “Come on Mommy, let’s go over the alphabet again.”  She curled up in bed with me and we went over the alphabet, again.  When it was time for me to leave, I ask if she knows how to say “have a good day,” but she doesn’t.  Lesson number 1.  I learn it during the day at work and when I come home I show her.  She, in turn, taught me some new phrases and that’s how it’s been all week.

She inspired me to start and keep the momentum going.  I am truly blessed to have received the gift of my children.  They keep me on my toes.  Where would I be without them?  🙂  I’m no ASL pro, but with their inspiration and motivation, what was once a simple new year’s resolution on a piece of paper will become my second (or third if you count broken Spanish) language.


The College Woes


According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

And if you compare that to the fact that apparently….

Sixty percent of U.S. college graduates cannot find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco.

Then I shouldn’t be too, too upset about my daughter not getting into the college that she wanted, right?  WRONG!  I was still upset, which annoys me because I thought I prepared myself pretty good to read those “Regrettably….we will not be offering you admission…” letters.  My whole spiel about how “college isn’t for everyone” seemed to go right out the door as those letters started coming in the mail.  Man, what a rip!   You would seriously think it was ME that was trying to get into college.

So after crying about the most recent letter that was received – that would be me crying, not her, at least not in front of me and I didn’t cry in front of her – I had to really think about why this upset me so much.  Yes, I was upset for her, but the bottom line is, I never went through this whole process before.  I didn’t go to college right out of high school, so I never experienced this whole you’re accepted/rejected stuff.  I don’t remember how my mom handled it with my brother and sisters, either.  I guess it’s the “mom” in me that wants to protect my child from rejection when, in fact, she needs this.

Fast forward to the present day and we are at the point where it’s been accepted that she’ll start at the community college and transfer after 2 years, which makes economical sense, anyway.  I’m not dogging community college, at all.  My child is just in need of getting out and experiencing independence and being responsible for herself and all that stuff that comes along with living on a campus.  I guess I could kick her out so she could get a place of her own and go to school and work like a lot of people successfully do, but that hardly seems like the right thing to do.  She just started her FIRST job for pete’s sake!  Ugh!  I’m usually all for “tough love”, but not like this.  If she were a horrible child, I would think differently, but she isn’t.

Ssssooo….yeah…..this is where we are….I’ll still be here to help her get a running start, but I’ll have to let go…Graduation is coming, the 18th birthday is coming, summer is coming…..I’M NOT READY FOR ALL THIS!!


(I don’t recall the website I found this doozie from, but I like it and I can’t take credit for having made it up.)


My right hand kid

Daniela.  The youngest of my ‘litter,’ she’s 9, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that she’s the youngest because at times she can be so much more responsible than the rest and yet, she has her moments that remind you that she’s only 9.  For example, she sings EVERYWHERE she goes and she’s loud and proud at that.  She isn’t going to be on America’s Got Talent any time soon, but that doesn’t stop her from singing in the bathroom when she’s on the pot, when she’s in the shower, in the grocery store, at church, in the car, while she does dishes, while she’s cooking or anywhere else where she’s in ear shot from her brother who is annoyed by her singing.  That’s kind of like what I used to do to my brother when I was younger – I vaguely remember him asking my mom to tell me to shut up when we were in the car.  But I digress…

So you know people always say that kids are little sponges and we all know it’s true, but Daniela amazes me sometimes with all the information she retains and how she uses it.  She has ALWAYS been my little helper in the kitchen; they all were at one time, but it still sticks with Daniela.  She always wants to be in the mix, asking questions and helping out no matter what it is – she’s very selfless that way.  Recently, she did something that just made me smile….here goes.

8:00 am (on a Saturday) she wakes, handles her morning routine – in our house that’s the ABCs (Awake, Brush teeth/hair, Clean face), and then she comes down to meet me in the living room.

Daniela: “Good morning Mommy.  (hugs) Have you had breakfast?”
Me: “Yes, I did.  Thank you very much.  Have you done your ABCs?” (I can tell she has but I can’t help but ask.)
Daniela: “Yes, I did.  Can I make pancakes for my breakfast?”
Me: “Sure.  Do you know what you’re doing in there?”
Daniela: “Yep!”

And off she went.  I could hear her in there singing and making the mix. I can see her from where I was so I could keep an eye on her, too.  The first pancake is out of the pan and onto a plate.  Aaron, my son, emerges from his room by about 8:20.  No, he hasn’t done his ABCs, so I tell him to handle his business and come back. Daniela calls out of the kitchen for some assistance and when I walk in, this girl is trying to make me coffee while she’s making her second pancake!!  She’s so funny and it’s so sweet of her to try but that’s a bit too challenging.  Anyway, as she finishes the second pancake and serves it on the plate…

Daniela: “Can you put this on the table for Aaron, please?”
Me: “For Aaron?”
Daniela: “Yeah, since he woke up, i’ll just give him these and make some more for myself.”
Me: “That’s very nice of you.  I’ll help you make some more mix for yours.”

No sooner did I make the mix and Daniela begins with the next pancake, here comes Alaina.  No, she didn’t do her ABCs either (these kids need constant reminders, I tell ya!), so I asked her to go and come back.  Again, Daniela offers the two pancakes to Alaina since she is awake and, again, I help her make some more batter.

Daniela: “I know you don’t like pancakes, but are you sure you don’t want one?  I’m making them in heart shapes.”
Me: [I almost wanted to eat one just because she wanted to make it!] “No, thank you.  Just make yours and eat up!”

Because Daniela's girly like that - heart-shaped pancakes are the only way to go!  :)

Because Daniela’s girly like that – heart-shaped pancakes are the only way to go! 🙂

She proceeds to make her pancakes and here comes the oldest of the gaggle, Dominique.  At this point, Daniela has JUST finished making her second pancake and was about to sit down.  She gave me the look that said, “I’ll just give her these.”  I had to stop this girl from the inevitable before she uttered a word because Dominique is the biggest “Daniela bully” of the house and I just COULDN’T allow her to give away her cute, heart shaped pancakes to her sister who wouldn’t appreciate them.  (#familypolitics)  Without making a big deal of it, I gave Daniela the green light to sit down and enjoy the fruits of her labor.  Besides, Dominique was just as happy making her own pancakes while she chatted with me in the kitchen. So, all’s well that ends well – I always say.

As I tell this story to The Man he says, “you know where she gets that from, don’t you?”  I guess that means me, but I never expected something like that to catch on to a 9-year-old.  You know?  So, it’s things like these that warm my heart when I think about Daniela.  Sometimes it’s a shame that I know I can trust her to get something done over the older kids, but oh well, every kid is different.

My little sous-chef, Daniela.  Always helping me in the kitchen.  :)

My little sous-chef, Daniela. Always helping me in the kitchen. 🙂

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no, Dominique didn’t do her ABCs either.  SMH?!  La mas vieja  y sin verguenza! As my mom would say.

My mini-me

Alaina.  My princess who’s about to turn the big 1-0, is, in so many ways, my little mini-me.  Looking back at my life, I can see how all my kids do things like I did at their age, so that either makes them (and me) normal kids, or that just shows how my genes were spread out among all of them.  Anyway, Alaina has such spunk and can be so witty.  She’s a perfect little blend of tom boy and girlie girl.  Although I was mostly a tom boy, I’m sure deep in the recesses of my mind, there are girl moments that i’m trying to bury because I don’t associate with them like that.

Two years ago she got glasses because she inherited my horrible vision.  It was almost as if the glasses provided an instant, extra layer of wit to her already witty and funny personality.  Take those glasses off, and sometimes you wonder where it all went.  I love it!  So lately she’s been without glasses – she broke them and who knows where she discarded the broken pieces.  With school starting soon, we needed to get new spectacles for her.  I decided that she could go in for the eye exam by herself while I was just outside the door.  Ten minutes later she comes out, all smiles, and the doctor says, “Well, Alaina’s doing everything that she’s supposed to be doing.  There was only a slight change in her vision.” Which I was happy about, until the doctor continues and says, “We’ll hold on to the prescription since Alaina says she doesn’t need new glasses.”

……….wait, what?!……….I almost got whiplash when I turned to Alaina, who stood there with a bewildered look on her face that says, “Oh, is THAT what you meant when you asked if I needed new glasses?”  Good grief!

Then there are situations like yesterday that really make me laugh.  We go shopping, get out of the car, i’m holding Daniela’s hand, Dominique’s walking beside her and Alaina’s trying to wrap herself around me – the conversation goes like this:

Me: Alaina! What are you doing? Just hold my hand.
Alaina: I’m just trying to hug you while you walk.
Me: Honey, come on, please just hold my hand, that’s impossible.
Alaina: Mommy, haven’t you ever heard that NOTHING’S impossible?!
(Mind you, she’s still trying to wrap herself around me as we walk towards the store.)
Me: Yes, you’re right, but THIS?! THIS isn’t going to work out and i’m going to fall on you.
(She responds and it’s as if she isn’t really listening to me, go figure.)
Alaina: But I guess the person who started the saying that “nothing’s impossible” (yes, she did the finger quotes) didn’t ever try to slam a revolving door.  Now THAT’S impossible.
Me:  Not for Chuck Norris, it isn’t.
Alaina: Yeah, he can do everything.

This brief conversation ended in such a matter of fact kind of way.  Really, all I could do was smile and shake my head as we now enter TJMaxx and she’s ogling over the designer purses.  Yep, she can be girlie.

It's a small tree, but she's determined to climb it.

It’s a small tree, but she’s determined to climb it.

Alaina's getting her first kiddie pedicure.
Alaina’s getting her first kiddie pedicure.

Where’s the ON switch on my teen!?

Dominique, my first born.  After I’ve considered all the ways that i’m blessed to have such a good 17-year-old (ESPECIALLY compared to how I was at her age!) and how much she’s changed my life for the better, there’s almost always that record-scratching-to-a-halt sound that brings me back to reality and reminds me, “this is the same girl that watched me to go work very early this morning, watched me come home rushed from a long commute to take my son to football practice, and waited until I got home at 8 pm(ish) to say, ‘should I have made dinner or something?'”  What the frack?!

Then again, as everyone says, “she’s a teenager, what do you expect?”  What do I expect?  I expect that I raised my child to be more considerate than she lets on sometimes and can actually lend a hand JUST BECAUSE she wants to, instead of when she wants something in return.  (Yes, I live in La-la Land and totally believe that it’s possible for that to happen.)  There’s just something in that pretty little head of hers that doesn’t always switch on.  Another switch I can’t find is the one that makes her want to read instructions on the packages of things like ‘how to make soup’ or ‘how to use cleaning spray’.  Or the switch that turns on when it’s time for her to look for something because, we all know that if it isn’t already in her hand, she can’t find it.  Or how about the switch that reminds her that she’s tired of asking for things that she wants, but doesn’t need, and that she could purchase herself if she went out and got a job.

I can’t be the only one who can’t find these switches on our teens, but what I did [take forever to] realize is that she may actually need more than a mere mention of the idea.  She needs solid instruction.  She needs step-by-step directions.  She almost needs you to push her off that ‘ledge’ to force her to get stuff done.  She’s gone most of her high school life playing some sort of extra-curricular sport which, oddly enough, she will do almost all that she needs to do so that she can be on the team, but I digress.  She’s never had a job because sports and homework take so much time.  Well, not this year!  She’s getting a jay-oh-bee – job!  She’s going to go work for someone who’s not her mom or dad that will let her know that she can’t be lazy and expect to survive in the world.  She might hate it and quit, or not, but hopefully she will have received her dose of reality.

I love her to death and she’s truly a good girl who tries, considering her serious ADHD issues.  (More on that later.)  I’m going to give this one a go and pray that, in this last year of high school, I will have started to ignite the fire in her that I’ve always told her she had.  She can do whatever she wants in this world and I’ll always support her 100% in her mission to get there.

My Mission: Find that ON switch!! (help me!)


A TV turned into a puppy…

Maximus.  When I first saw my favorite movie Gladiator back in 2000, I knew I wanted my future dog to be named Maximus.  (No, that’s not an odd thing to get out of a movie.)   I went years learning from my brother who had a dog, and a sister who had dogs that she eventually gave to my brother once she started having children, and I knew from what I saw that I didn’t want to get a dog until I was not only financially able to care for a dog, but also be able to maintain the lifestyle of dog ownership – walking, exercise, playing, feeding, less vacationing unless you take the dog with you and spend thousands of dollars to accommodate it, and basically Cesar Millan’ing up my life.  I revisited the idea of getting a dog on and off for a long time.

Fast forward 12 years later; my kids are older and the man of the house has brought up dog ownership on multiple occasions…..BUT, he’s also brought up the idea of having a TV in our bedroom, go figure.  So for his birthday/Christmas I decided i’d get him one – a TV, that is.  I went and did so much research on what kind of TV I should get for the room; from what size to where it would be hung to whether it should be a Smart TV or just the best HDTV on the market.  Not to sound sexist, but TVs seem to be a guy’s thing, so I asked the advice of my male friends, family and even my brother who actually told me that a 50″ TV for the bedroom was what I should get – what the frack?!  So, after researching the best TV, I had to then research which website or store would give me the best possible price for it and which ones I could haggle with to give me the best deal possible.  Then, after DAYS, it was done.  I made the purchase.  I was relieved yet uber excited about giving it to him.  The TV went home with me and I hid it.

A few days passed and he was sitting on the couch with my teen, Dominique, talking about who knows what and, because i’m so excited about the dag-on TV, I decide to make sure i’ve made the right decision by asking him, “hey, what do you want for Christmas?”, as if I hadn’t already purchased his gift – *wink* wink*.  This man turns his head to me, grins from ear to ear, and in an almost child-like tone says to me, “I wanna puppy!”

…………………………*blink* confusion *blink*…………………..

How in the heck do I respond to that?!  It’s a joke.  It must be.  So I ask, “Are you for real?  Ooookay.”  Nope, no joke.  So, at that moment, we read and researched and researched and read and dog-matched and quizzed and everything and finally decided we wanted a Doberman Pinscher.  He grew up with one and I had always wanted one when I was a kid just because I thought they looked awesome.  Then, again, after days and DAYS, it was done.  We visited, we fell in love, we visited again, and he came home with us on New Years Day.

Meet Maximus Ortiz Dominus Rachal


This is the falling in love picture – see my face?  Image

Maximus is still cute here and freshly cropped.


Maximus at 8 months, the big oaf.  We have a love/not-so-loved relationship because he and Daddy are BFFs and, well, i’m just Mommy.  Ok, and he’s still cute.

Oh, and that TV, I took it back to the store and the dialogue went something like this:

Man: “So, can I ask why you’re returning it?  Was there anything wrong or did you find a better deal?”
Me: *sigh* “Nothing wrong.  Just got a puppy instead…….”
Man: “Yeah, we can’t really compete with puppies.”
Me: “No, you can’t.”