Friday, September 30, 2011

Didju do that?! Yes. Yes, I did.

It has been almost a year since I began crocheting.  Sadly, none of my creations have been worthy enough to post.  There are so many crafty people in this world, with crafty little blogs showcasing their talents.  I don't think I will ever be one of those people.  But, every now and then, I hope to create a winner that I can share and not be ashamed of.  Little masterpieces that will evoke questions such as, "Didju do that?!" 

I decided to try my hand at Amigurumi - Japanese word that literally means "crocheted stuffed toy"

They are so freakin cute, and seeing as I have a 4 yr old little girl that loves soft cute things, I decided to give it a go.

She initially wanted me to make an ugly looking airplane, which didn't really even look like a plane, even when crocheted by professionals. I am not about to put in that much time, effort and yarn to make a toy that looks ridiculous. I vetoed that choice and had her choose between the 3 that looked like real toys:  Bunny, Giraffe or Elephant.  She agreed on the giraffe.

So with no further adieu....

He is pretty darn cute, I must say.  I need to work on sewing the pieces together a bit, because I kind of jacked up the neck seam....

...but Adalee didn't notice.  She named him Carlon - her favorite girl's name is Carla, so all boys are "Carlon"

Ta Da!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Love you, Dad

I have always been a daddy's girl.  One of my favorite movies is Father of the Bride and I will cry at just about anything having to do with daddy/daughter relationships. 

My father is not perfect, by any means.  And our relationship has been very, very rocky at times (during the divorce I wrote him a 4 page poem, entitled "Shit", which basically just called him shit in many different ways.  Yep, rocky)

So, don't worry, all you dads out there with teenage daughters that hate you.  It can get better!

I have hundreds of stories about my Dad and it's really hard to choose my favorites, but I tried to narrow it down.  In honor of Father's day -and my dad- here are a few things my father taught me throughout my 26 years. 

(By the way, I totally jipped my mom on my mother's day blog! I'm totally going to do a redo and give her the credit she deserves. I love love love her and I'm sorry I only talked about being hung over and throwing plates...that would be me, hungover and throwing plates, not her)

1.  There is no wrong time to take a nap. 

My father is a huge napper.  If I'm not feeling well, or just in a bad mood his suggestion is always "just take a nap"  He can nap 2 hours after waking...and again at noon... and again at 5 pm.  Really, there is no limit to the amount of naps you can take in a 24 hour period.  He takes his sleep very seriously.

When we were young, my siblings and I would always be very quiet when dad was napping or he'd yell at us in a half-asleep, crazy daze.   He was never violent, he would just yell and threaten, and give us "crazy eyes".  One of my favorite (and funniest/most traumatic) memories of this occured on my 8th birthday...

I had a slumber party with about 7 of my closest friends.  We all slept on the living room floor.  The morning after the sleepover we were all waking up and giggling quietly when someone suggested that we scream as loud as we could to wake  the last girl who was still asleep.  Seven, high pitched, 8 yr old girls huddled together and on the count of three...1...2...3....screamed "WAaaaaKE Uuuup, Jeeesicaaaaa!!!!"  All of a sudden my parent's door bursts open and my dad is standing there in his boxers, ( I want to say he was holding a belt, but I can't quite remember if it was that dramatic- it felt like it, though)  like a mad man, screaming "If I hear one more word, EVERY SINGLE ONE of you is getting spanked!!!"  In his half asleep/half awake mind I'm sure he had forgotten that it was my birthday party and probably assumed it was just me and my brothers and sister out there yelling.

My mother hurried to the rescue and quickly got my dad back into the bedroom, then ran out to console the 8 hysterical girls crying in the living.  Happy Birthday To Me. 

2.  Never hesitate to invite strangers to church

One Sunday morning, when I was about eh...7?, we were getting into the car to go to church when we saw a man attack a woman and take off with her purse.  We lived on the south side of Chicago, so this was not an unusual occurance, but I had never seen it live.  We were told to get in the car, my mom called the police, and my dad took off down the street to get the theif.  I was kind of scared for my dad.

I remember having so much pride for my father when I saw him walking back to the house with this criminal.  This is the first memory I have of me thinking my dad was, literally, a hero.  By the time they made it back to the house the cops had arrived and were ready to take the guy in.  My dad begged them to let it slide and asked if he could take the man to church with us instead.  My family laughs about this now because, although it was a very kind suggestion, it was probably not the smartest thing to do...having a criminal ride in the back seat with your children.  The cops declined his request.

3.  I am beautiful just the way I am

I remember being about 10 yrs old and feeling ugly.  Very ugly.  It's weird to look back now and think that a 10 year old could feel that way, but I did.  Between the ages of 8-12 it is so awkward for girls.  The tween years were harder than the teen ones.  You start to notice and compare yourself to others.  You're not old enough for makup, so the contrast between the "pretty girls" and the "ugly ones" is very easy to see. I felt like an ugly one.

I broke down crying to my dad one night, confessing that I felt ugly.  I know that must have broken his heart.  He responded with the usual "You are beautiful to maters what's on the inside...blah blah blah...."  When he saw that none of that cliched jibberish consoled me he asked what exactly I thought was ugly about me.  I remember this conversation word for word.  I told him "my nose is big, my eyebrows are bushy, my teeth are big and crooked, my hair is curly and frizzy,  and I have a mole on my face"  Right away he came back at me with "Sarah Jessica Parker has a large nose, big teeth and curly and she's gorgeous!  Boys love her.  Cindy Crawford has a mole on her face and it's what makes her different from the other models.  And she has full eyebrows too!  The girl from Father of the Bride has very full eyebrows and you love her.  All of those things are beautiful in their own way" 

Now, I must admit, at the time I thought his response was horrible.  Basically, he confirmed that I did, in fact,  have all of those ugly features.  I remember wanting him so badly to laugh and say "Becky, you're crazy! Your nose is not big at all.  Your teeth are not crooked.    Your hair is not frizzy.  I'll tell mom to tweeze your eyebrows.  I'll look into how much mole removal will be"  That's what I hoped his response would be. 

Looking back years later though, I'm so happy he didn't say that to me.  I love that he didn't just say that I was something I was not to make me feel pretty in the moment.  He saw me exactly the way I was (big nose and all) and still thought I was beautiful, and encouraged me to accept every feauture I had as beauty.

4.  Guns are nothing to joke around about.

Here's another fun, birthday story.  On my 16th birthday my dad took me down to the DMV to get my license.  At the time we lived in Memphis, Tennessee.  Anyone who has lived in Memphis knows that the DMV is equivalent to hell.  You usually have to wait 2-3 hours no matter what you go in for and the people who work there hate their jobs and are not helpful in the least. 

Anyone who knows my dad, knows that he is not very patient. 

DMV + Dad is a terrible combination.

About 20 minutes after we took our number and finally found a seat in the crammed waiting area, my dad got up "to see what's going on".  They hadn't called a new number since we sat down and he was not happy about it.  He came back frustrated and decided to get some fresh air outside to calm down.  This whole  sit-see what's going on-get frustrated-take a breather outside  went on for about another hour until he couldn't take it anymore.  Finally, he says to me "This is ridiculous.  They have 6 people working up there and not one of them is doing a damn thing"  And then he took off to...see what's going on...again.  I watched his hands wave around as he got into a heated exchange with the woman at the front desk.  It was only about a minute and then I saw him abrubtly storm out of the building and go to his car.  I assumed he just needed a breather.  The woman at the front looked horrified and I saw her making some calls and talking to the other workers.

10 minutes later I see the police pull up and now the entire wait area was whispering about some crazy man who has a gun.  I instantly knew who they were talking about.  I turned to the man next to me and asked "What's going on?"  He said that a man had threatened the woman at the front desk with a gun.  I looked outside and saw the cops talking to my dad and then escorting him inside.  I reassured the guy next to me that he did not have a gun, "That's my dad..he's never owned a gun in his life...yada yada..."

Apparently, when my father went up to the woman at the desk he ranted about how long he had been waiting and how slow the workers were.  His closing lines to her were "What does it take to get anyone to do their job around here?!  A gun?"  And then he stormed off and started rifling through his car.  Which, perhaps, gave her the impression that he was getting a gun.

I actually wasn't that embarassed.  It was too funny.  Had my father actually owned a gun and threatened her with it, it would not be funny.  My father had never even shot a gun before, so the thought of everyone thinking he was going to go on some crazy, shooting rampage was hilarious to me.

They searched him for a gun and made him apologize to the workers, which took longer than it should have because he refused to apologize.  Finally, he caved and made ammends.

 I did, eventually that day, get my license.  Happy happy birthday.

5.  Sometimes it's OK to lie to your children

Just recently I started going over some childhood memories in my mind.  I was thinking about some of the stories my dad would tell me, to help me deal with issues I was having.  He would always relate to what I was saying in some way and then tell me about a similar situation he's dealt with.

I started to remember some of the stories my Dad would tell me about himself as a child, and then it dawned on me.  He made them up.  All these years of hearing heroic tale after tale about my father...and they never actually happened.  I'm sure there was some truth dispersed here and there, but  the majority were fabricated.   They always had some moral lesson in them.  Fables, I suppose. I'm slightly embarassed that I didn't figure it out sooner.  I was 26 yrs old before I even questioned their validity.  It's so obvious looking back now.

Here are the two that I recall most vividly:

1. Once I learned the word "asshole" (at about 11 yrs old)  I would whisper it to my little brother Joe all the time when I was mad at him, and eventually he got tired of it and told on me.  He told me he was going to tell my dad so I went to the backyard and hid behind our if he'd never find me there.  After about 5 minutes of hiding he found me, and told me to come sit with him and talk.  He then told me a story about when he was in school and all the 'cool kids' ganged up on him and were teasing him and telling him he 'better swear or else!'  He proudly told me that he refused to do it.  He told them that they could beat him up if they wanted to, but he wasn't going to say those words, cause it was wrong.  So I asked "well,  what happened?"  And he told me that they were so impressed with his stubborness that they let him go. 
Moral of the story:  Stand by your morals no matter the cost, and in the end even your persecuters will be impressed.

2.  My brother was having a school dance and they were talking about asking girls out.  He took the opportunity to tell the story of when he was in high school.  He wanted to ask the most beautiful girl in school to the dance, but he was nervous.  He was nerdy and she was popular.  It was the day before the dance and he decided to just try, assuming she probably already had a date.  Turns out, no one had asked her yet because everyone was so intimidated.  She said yes to him, because she was impressed with his confidence and everyone else was jealous and regretted not trying. 
Moral of the story:  Always go for what you want, because you never know how it will turn out and you won't want to regret not trying.

Anyway, after I had this revelation that my father had told me false stories the majority of my childhood I got angry and started ranting to Dan.  After I stopped, Dan says,
"Really?  So your dad made up stories about himself to try to be a good role model for you, and to encourage and help strengthen your morals?"  ...and then he laughed... "Do you know how many kids would love to have a dad care enough to try to give a good example, even if it's not entirely true?  Seriously, of all the mistakes a father can make you're going to hold that against him?" 

He had a point.  My father had good intentions and a good heart.  It may not have been the best way to go about things, but it was all out of love.  And it worked!  I clung to those stories and I was encouraged by them. 

So thank you, Dad.  For all the good and not so good.  It makes for good lessons and greater memories.  I love you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Friend With the Glasses

Adalee has an incredible memory.  Like, scary good.  She is always saying "Remember....?"  And it's always some obscure memory that I have to rack my brain to retrieve.

Recently, I bought some pistachios and mixed nuts.  The kind with the shells still on.  While we were putting them in the cart her face lit up and she excitedly asked me, "Are those for me to play with?!"  Ummm....No.  "Why would you play with these?  These are nuts.  We eat these"  And she said, "No.  We spin them!"  I had no clue what she was talking about so I laughed it off and finished shopping. 

When we got home she was so excited and kept asking when she could play with them.  After me questioning where she got that idea, she finally said "But I really want to spin them like my friend with the glasses!"  She was so frustrated with me at this point.  "You remember my friend with the glasses spins them on the table?!" 

Was she at a play date and she found one on the floor or something...and her friend spun it on a table??  She doesn't have that many friends, so I started naming them.  After going back and forth for 10 minutes, asking questions and having her say "no!" she finally gave me a clue to work with.  "He lives in Chicago!"  You would think that would make it a lot easier.  Unfortunately, she met at least 50 family members in Chicago and more than one wears glasses.  She just kept repeating "You remember?  In Chicago my friend with the glasses spins them on the table.  It was really funny.  Remember?!"

And then it hit me.  I finally figured out this mysterious "friend with the glasses" .  At my grandpa's house he always has mixed nuts and pistachios on his kitchen table.  He also wears glasses.  But he does not spin them on the table. 

However, I do have a cousin that wears glasses, who was at Pa's house with us... and I now recall him spinning them on the table for Adalee.  She even drew a picture for him, of himself.  She even included the glasses in her picture :)  So I went through the pics on the computer and showed her his picture to confirm.  Yes!  I got it right.

Jacob Ochoa, you are the friend with the glasses!  Thank God we figured that out.  She was so mad at me. You know, for having such an amazing memory, you'd think she'd remember a name...oh well.

After reviewing this picture again, I'm starting to believe that my cousins lied to me and actually drew it themselves.  It's just too good.  And I know that my daughter cannot write "JAKE"  Ha! You jerks either sloppily wrote that for her and lied to me or you made up the whole thing! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Television Crushes

Television is, and always has been, a huge part of my life.  Over the past 20 years I've built some seriously intense, one-sided relationships with some of the characters.  You know you have some of your own.  We can't help it, really.  After years of getting to know the most intimate details of their lives we become attached.  It's a shame they are fictional, and also a blessing... because you know you would be a huge creeper if they were, in fact, real.

Here are my Top 5 Television Crushes:

                                                     Dawson Leery (Dawson's Creek)

From the ages  13-19  I was obsessed with Dawson's Creek.  I related most to the character of Joey, so it makes sense that I fell hard for Dawson Leery.  He was a gentleman...a dreamer...very naive and hopeful.  Sure, he had some very corny, mushy lines, but he somehow pulled them off and made me a believer in love.  For a teenage girl,  dealing with her parents divorce, hating all men and losing faith in humanity, Dawson was my savior.  That show was my therapy, and I will always love Dawson Leery.

                                                                  Mr. Shuester   (Glee)

Oh, Mr. Shue.  You are such a dream boat.  For those unfamiliar with Glee, let me give you the rundown.  Will Shuester is a Spanish teacher, who decides to take over the Glee club.  For the home schooled kids reading this, a "Glee club" is basically show choir, or what I like to call, bedazzled singing.  Anywho... he is a nerd,  speaks a second language, sings, is passionate about encouraging his students and basically just a very kind hearted person.  Combine all that with a butt chin, hairy chest and gorgeous smile and I'm hooked.  Take a look at this nerdy yumminess...

                                                       Charlie Kelly  (It's Always Sunny...)

As soon as you start to think I have a pattern of going for the nerdy, artistic, do-gooder type, I whip out Charlie.  Wild card, bitches!!  I have to admit that I hated this kid when I first watched the show.   His high pitched, constant yelling annoyed the hell out of me.  Then I got to know him...and, well, you know the rest of the story. 

Charlie is so so stupid, but so lovable.  And the most hilarious person - ever.  In real life, this is the guy that I would've loved to be best friends with, possibly hook up with once, but never ever consider seriously dating because of his poor grammar and hygiene. And most importantly, because of his general stupidity

 OR ...this would be the guy that I would be secretly in love with, but hesitant to admit  to myself and pursue a relationship with, because of the previously listed flaws. 

Pheww! Good thing he's just pretend and I don't have to actually deal with those decisions

Favorite Charlie quotes:

"Wild card, bitches!!"

"Day man;  fighter of the night man.  Champion of the sun.  You're a master of karate and friendship, for everyone"

"Taked baby. Meet at later bar, night or day sometime.”

"Here's a confession: I’m in love with a man. What?  I’m in love with a man ... a man named God. Does that make me I gay for God?  You betcha.”

                                                                 John Locke  (LOST)

Yeah yeah, I'm just bouncing all over the place here.  I don't exactly have a "type".  I know he's old enough to be my father -possibly grandfather- but I don't care.  Love knows no age.  If we were talking about physical attraction alone, there are two other Losties (that's what us nerds call the Lost characters) that would beat Locke, hands down:  Desmond and Charlie.  But we are talking about the whole package.   Locke's passion for truth, spiritual strength, and insane loyalty to the island trumps fleeting, physical attraction.   

Lost has many christian references and draws many parallels between the characters on the island and biblical/religious figures.  John Locke was almost a Jesus figure to the island.  He obeyed and trusted the "island" to the very end.  Although he had his breakdowns and contemplated suicide twice, he always got back up and remained faithful.  He was eventually killed by another Lostie, who was influenced by an evil force.  But if it wasn't for his death, Jack Shepard would not have gained his faith and become the leader of the island, which was the island's plan all along.   Jack, who initially thought Locke was insane, finally admits in the end that Locke was  "right about everything"

My mother hated this song when it came out, because she found it to be sacrilegious.  Sorry mama...

Sticking with my "love knows no age" motto, we move on to my final crush...

                                                    Kevin Arnold (The Wonder Years)

This picture had me nearly pissing my pants when I found it.  Too funny.  But seriously, I love this kid.  Yeah I used a creepy, pedophilic (word?) photo for laughs, but Kevin Arnold grows up to be a man on the series, so this crush is appropriate.  Out of all the characters on the history of television, I admire Kevin the most.  He is probably the closest thing to perfection.  Talk about honesty and self-reflection!  Even as a child, he was always so insightful and full of wisdom.   But I almost didn't want to list him, because I adore him and Winnie. I must include him though, because he is the epitome of what a boy/man should be. 

Besides, him and Winnie don't end up together anyway.
That being said, this clip is probably going to be brutal to watch...

I must pay special tribute to my other favorite, fictional men who did not make the list:

Michael Scott [The Office]

It was so hard not putting him on my list
Screw it, Top 6!  He has to be in there.


  Jordan Catalano [My So-Called Life]

Jordan was such a shitty guy on the show,
so I couldn't put him in the Top 5,
but holy mama is he beautiful.

Michael Bluth [Arrested Development]

Quiet, funny, business savvy, great father
All around good guy


JTT (Jonathan Taylor Thomas)
[Home Improvement]

I chose the classic Teen Beat pose

I seriously thought I was going to marry
this boy.  I find it funny that every girl
I knew felt the same way and we all secretly
thought that the others were crazy, because
we knew that we were his true soul mate.

I find it even funnier that he is married to no one.  He fooled us all

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Something More

Continued thoughts from previous blog:

I over think things. I analyze and  then over analyze.  As a child I would ask the same questions over and over again if I didn't understand something.  I remember my Sunday school teacher commenting to my mother that I was very "inquisitive"  And I remember asking my mom what that meant. 

My brother still teases me  "Hey Beck, what does 'amen' mean?"    When I was a child I never quite understood why everyone said amen after a prayer or during a sermon. After the hundreth time of me asking the same question, my mom always got frustrated with me and would just say
"It just means you agree with what we are saying!" 

And I used to always think, That's so dumb.  Obviously I agree or else I would stop the prayer or sermon and ask a question OR tell you I don't agree with what you're saying.  And why in the world would the person saying the prayer or giving the sermon say 'amen' afterwards...isn't that redundant?  Why would they be speaking at all if they didn't agree with what they were going to say?!"  This went on for years.  It never made sense. 

I am "inquisitive" ...but a slow learner at times.  Terrible combination.

As I was trying to wrap my brain around any possible reason for Branson's snowboarding accident and consequent death my mind started reeling.  Why?  Why?  Why?  I felt like a child again, never content with the aswer.  I know that God is real and that he can heal so why did he not do that?  I know that God loves Branson, so why didn't he protect him from the accident? 

Then I started thinking about death in general and it's going to get a little morbid and disturbing at this point, but hear me out.  As I was giving God every possible question  my brain threw at me, he interrupted me and completely ignored all of my questions (yet answered them all at once)
 "Why did you sign Adalee up for death?"  Yes, this was him asking me.  The nerve of him... 

But it did get me thinking.  There are many things we do not know about this life, but there are some definites.

At some point in life everyone will experience at least a few (if not all) of these things:

physical pain, embarrassment, disappointment, sadness, betrayal, shame, rejection, anger, confusion, worthlessness, hopelessness, sorrow, loss, fear, anxiety, illness...etc.  Not just once, but these horrific feelings  and events will happen repeatedly

Let me rephrase to get my point across:

Your Adalee... will most likely be completely humiliated , have her heart betrayed, be lied to and lied about, feel worthless, feel used, hopeless, lose people she loves dearly, experience illness, have broken bones/hospitalizations, be so terrified she can't even breathe, feel so emotionally crushed that she won't want to get out of bed. 

These things will happen repeatedly throughout her life.  And then she will die.  It could be of old age (this is what all us parents expect for some odd reason) OR it could be at 2 weeks old, 4  yrs old... 14...22...43... 
It could be from cancer or any number of diseases.  
It could be a car/motorcycle/airplane/train/snowboarding accident in the prime of their life. 
You get the point;  death surrounds us.  

Before having a child we have the experience of life to know exactly what we are throwing them into.  And we all know that ultimately they will experience death.  We don't like to think about it, but it's a done deal. Every single person that my sweet girl comes to love and know and grow close to will eventually die.  I will die.  Adalee will die.  The second I gave birth to her I signed her death certificate.   I told you I get a little morbid.  Forgive me, but it's necessary that we all grasp this.
So after I had this terrifying revelation my next question was: 

Why in the world would anyone have children?!

Because let's be honest here, when your child is crying or hurting or ashamed, and you think to yourself, "I wish I could have stopped this from happening to them"  Guess what?  You could have. But you chose not to by having the child. So we are either the most disgustingly selfish beings on earth OR  we believe there is something more to this life.  Something so beautiful that it's worth all the pain. 

I know we are very, very selfish beings and as much I would love to solve this riddle and  just say that  complete, disgusting selfishness is the final answer, I don't believe it.  I know many people do believe that having children is a completely egotistical and selfish act and I totally understand where someone would draw that conclusion from (clearly... did you not just read the previous paragraphs?)  But personally, after much thinking and questioning, and a very deep evaluation of even the darkest parts of my heart, I believe it's the latter.  There is something more. 

Love  joy  hope  love  excitement  beauty  love   ...Umm, food.  Come on, it's an amazing part of life! 

Even if you wiped out every other enjoyable thing in life and left even just the possibility of love I'd still go through all the pain.  I would. 

My parents didn't know that I was going to be born with heart disease and go through multiple open heart surgeries and have a pacemaker at the age of 8 yrs old.  They didn't know.  True... 

But they sure as hell knew it was a possibility.  And I am so grateful that they took that risk. I am also so grateful that even after having such a messed up child as me they didn't look at each other and say "Man, that was rough.  Let's not take that risk again"  If they had decided that life was too risky I wouldn't have my younger siblings. 

And even if my very weak heart decided to give out tonight I would still have wanted to live this life and endure this pain, because the love I am able to experience and give outweighs everything, even death.  Our parents gave us a chance to experience something beautiful, because they knew that just the possibility of beauty was something worth living for.  That is why we continue to give life, still knowing that death's shadow is lingering near.

And as much as people say that if God does exist he's just a purely selfish entity who created us so that he could be worshiped and adored, while we just suffer and then die, I'm sorry but I just don't believe that to be true.  It is my belief that God would not have allowed mankind to exist right now if there wasn't something more to death.  I believe that this life is not the end.  I believe that the love that we experience here on earth, that same love that I just said over rules death, is only a ridiculously tiny, tiny, tiny  fraction of the love we will experience with our eternal father in the after life. 

People get upset over heaven and hell and question why God would even allow a hell to exist.  It's way too much to get into right now (seeing as this is forever long already) but the way I see it is:
If heaven and hell do exist and God is giving me an option to experience the most wonderful thing this earth has to offer - love  (but magnified by a bajillion... for eternity)  Pssssh, I don't even care what the other choice is.  The fact that I am even given that as an option amazes me and makes me see the goodness of God.