Saying ‘Hell Yeah!’

Every  morning I get a notification from Facebook telling me that I have memories to look back on. Just yesterday I came across this status update from 2009:

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8 years later, I finally have my pool. But, instead of enjoying the sunshine and the beginnings of springtime on my day off of work, I spent the day doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, mopping the floors, and attempting to cook a low-fat, low-cholesterol dinner for the grown-ups, along with something that the teenagers will eat.

The funny thing is that the first comment under that post was from my friend Heather who wrote:

“Me too. But you and I both know that we would likely stare at that pool while cleaning, folding laundry, helping with homework, wiping up dog pee wishing we could just go in! Just ANOTHER thing to have to maintain.”

If I really stop to think about it, it’s depressing as hell. I mean, 8 entire years have gone by, but my day-to-day routine is exactly the same – well, maybe not exactly. In 2009, I was a stay-at-home mom. I was busy all day, err’ day, but I also had a lot of flexibility. I didn’t have to ask permission from my mop bucket to take the day off to chaperone a field trip. I wasn’t clocking-in to the laundry room. My can of Scrubbing Bubbles wasn’t sending me urgent emails on my day off.

That said, those things weren’t depositing income into my bank account every other week, either. So, of course, it’s all a compromise.

Speaking of compromises…

Recently, I came across a quote which I am pretty sure can be attributed to this post by Derek Sivers. Sivers writes, “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about something, say ‘no’.”

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So many of us spend our lives saying “yes” to things we don’t really want to do, simply out of obligation or necessity. Although there are times we must make sacrifices for our loved ones, most of the time, it’s guilt or the fear of being impolite that puts us in these unwanted positions.

We give up our coveted weekends, we spend our hard-earned money, and in the blink of an eye it’s Monday morning again.

My 2009 Facebook status reminded me that there are a lot of things in life that are an unfortunate constant – chores, bills, work – so we shouldn’t feel obligated, or allow ourselves to be guilted, into spending our free time doing even more things that don’t feed our souls.

First Day Of School

Today my kiddos went back to school. My son is in his Junior year (gasp!) and my daughter and her classmates are ruling the school as mighty 8th graders.

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My own Junior year doesn’t exactly feel like yesterday, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like I am old enough to be the mother of an 11th grader. Then again, 1990 feels like it was 10 (maybe 15) years ago. My brain simply cannot wrap around the fact that I graduated high school 22 years ago!

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This was me in 8th grade.

My son’s Junior year brings up a whole slew of new stresses and worries for me. Driver’s license, SATs, college applications, a car, moving out…ugh I can’t even. I will have to make myself a list and take one thing at a time.

Neither my husband nor I were given the option to go away to college. For my parents, “going away” meant driving on the interstate for 12 miles each day to the University of South Florida – and I wasn’t allowed to do that either. It was understood that I would go to the community college a whole 2.5 miles away from my parents’ house. Then (and only then), when I was at least 20 years old, would I have “permission” to drive on the freeway to USF. My husband’s parents weren’t as strict, but his horrific grades and extreme lack of motivation meant he’d, too, go on to 13th grade, our affectionate term for the local community college.

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Here we are. I was a high school Junior and my husband was a Senior. Do we look like our kids?

(Side note: we both eventually graduated from the University of South Florida {GO BULLS!} with excellent grades, highly regarded by our professors, and with a fair amount of student loan debt, but I digress…)

We don’t want the same fate for our kids. They’ve always known that if they want to go away to school, and their grades and behavior are on track, we will do everything in our power to get them there. It’s just that up until recently, all of that seemed like it would happen in the far, far away distant future, not like in two short years.

UGH. I’m giving myself a stomach ache.

20 years ago, when my husband’s cousin (who is our age, and also wasn’t allowed to go away to college) got married at the tender age of 21, her mom became extremely ill on the day she left for her honeymoon. It was as though after 21 years of keeping her daughter neatly tucked under her wing, some boy came around and ripped her right out of her mother’s protective embrace. Tía was stoic throughout the wedding, forbidding herself to cry, but the moment her daughter drove off with her new spouse, she broke down. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was for her to get so upset. Her daughter and new son-in-law would be back in 5 days, and was moving less than 10 minutes away.

It took me 20 years, and two children of my own to understand.

It’s going to take a crap load of breathing exercises and some strong prescription medication to get me through the day my first child goes away to college. Just the idea of it makes me nauseated.

Two years. Two. Short. Years.

Things I Will Not Hesitate To Eat During The Zombie Apocalypse

I’ve always been somewhat of a picky eater. However, I have recently found myself considering the edibility of certain items in the case of an emergency. I have decided that if and when the zombie apocalypse occurs, there are quite a few things I will eat without a second thought.

  1. The mysterious jar of pickled artichokes in my pantry.
  2. Leftover packages of ketchup from inside my car’s glove compartment.
  3. The gummy bears and cheerios stuck behind the couch’s seat cushion.
  4. My son’s pet goldfish.
  5. The macaroni necklace my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day.
  6. The cough drops I found in the pocket of my deceased grandpa’s suit jacket.
  7. The cinnamon Christmas ornaments I made in 1981.
  8. My daughter’s hermit crab.
  9. The homemade sugar scrub my neighbor gave me for my birthday.
  10. The 20-year-old gourmet popcorn from the tin I thought contained old high school love letters.

 

image via AMC

The Amazing Mom Is Totally On Fire

Twenty-four hours ago, I had really only known Amazing Phil and DanIsNotOnFire as the background noise with a British accent coming from my daughter’s bedroom. I knew that they had co-authored a book, and that were YouTube stars who had become friends and collaborated (this was information I learned after asking, “What could possibly be so funny?” when the peals of laughter echoed down the hall).

A few months ago, Dan and Phil had announced that they were going on tour, and my daughter anxiously awaited their tour schedule. She was thrilled to learn that they would be coming to our area and, when just a few days later, I received my daily text from my favorite performing arts theater with a presale code for The Amazing Tour Is Not On Fire, I knew I had to get tickets.#bestmomever

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Fast forward to last night.

After work, my daughter and I headed down to show. I really hadn’t known what to expect. My daughter was a fan, but not one other person that I knew had any clue who these guys were. I half-expected to show up to a partially empty theater, where I would commiserate with a few other confused parents as we watched a couple of guys play video games, or talk about cats or something.

My daughter’s enormous smile would be worth it.

The cat assumption was due to the whiskers my daughter drew on her face before leaving to the show. I actually asked her if she’d rather wait until we got there to decide if she wanted to paint on the whiskers. But, no. This was their thing, I guess. She had also picked out the “perfect outfit” several days before: skinny jeans, her white chucks, a tee shirt we had made at a local custom tee shop, and a red flannel tied around the waist.

AquaHeader2016When I pulled into the theater parking lot I was shocked to see, not a handful, but hundreds of teenage girls. They were almost all wearing skinny jeans, various licensed and handmade Dan and Phil tee shirts, red flannels, and painted-on whiskers. My girl had found her tribe.

After realizing that the line for Dan and Phil merchandise went around the entire theater, we went inside and took our seats. The theater was blasting Panic! At the Disco, My Chemical Romance, Britney Spears, 5 Seconds of Summer, and even some High School Musical. All the girls sang and danced along. Apparently, these were Dan and Phil’s favorite songs.

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When the lights went out and these two skinny, tall, adorable young men stepped on stage, the crowd erupted and my daughter burst into tears–the kind of tears that reminded me of being 13 and seeing New Kids On The Block. I knew exactly how she felt. As I comforted her, I remembered that feeling of seeing, in person, someone you idolize, whose bio you know by heart. You almost feel like it’s a real relationship, and that feeling is emotional and overwhelming.

I understand how celebrities can get overwhelmed by fame. Imagine millions of people knowing almost everything about you, when you could never possibly even meet all of them. It’s overwhelming enough to have an acquaintance who has never “liked” nor commented on any of my writing tell me that a particular piece resonated with them, or that they have been following my work. How many more people “know” me?

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Anyway…Dan and Phil put on such an entertaining show! They were funny, they were silly and they are talented. I was so pleasantly surprised at what a great time I had. I definitely don’t want to give anything away. I suspect the ban on phones and cameras while the show was going on is to maintain the surprises for future shows. It was also nice to see a thousand teenage girls enjoying themselves and interacting without a screen in front of their faces.

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I had such a great time hanging with my daughter! I loved being part of such a formative teenage experience in her life. She will never forget last night, and neither will I.

P.S. I’ll be milking that “Best Mom Ever” title for awhile.

Early Easter Celebration

I was compensated by Evite for my time in developing this post. All opinions are my own.

Much of our family travels during Spring Break, so it is difficult to get together for Easter. One of the ways we are able to spend time together, and take advantage of traveling while the kids have time off of school is to celebrate the holidays early.

The first thing I do when planning my early holiday parties is to visit Evite and choose the perfect invitation.They have such an extensive selection of free and premium cards that I never again have to run to the store to pick up invitations. I love that you can even personalize your cards with photos!

EviteEasterIsn’t this invitation super adorable?? It makes me sad that my kids have outgrown Easter egg hunts!

Next, I decide on the perfect decorations.

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This Rag Ribbon Table Skirt is a staple at all of my spring events!

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Hubby usually decides on the main course, but I get to choose the appetizers and the desserts!

I made this dessert tower several years ago using thrift store plates and tea cups. It was such a fun DIY, and has seen me through many Easter Sundays!

Finally, our family arrives and we all get to eat, drink and be merry while the little ones hunt for eggs.

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Spending time with our loved ones during the holidays is so important to us! I’m so happy that we are able to have early celebrations so that everyone can be included. Life is always better together!

Thank you to Evite for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

Kiss Me, I’m (10%) Irish!

For my 40th, hubby bought me something I have been wanting since the first time I watched an episode of Who Do You Think You Are: a DNA testing kit from Ancestry DNA.

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I am of Cuban descent. Because it is very unlikely that the Cuban government has any of my family’s records, and my grandparents have long since passed, I have always been curious to learn more about my roots. I knew that my dad’s paternal side was from Spain, and there had been rumors that one of my mom’s grandparents was of Lebanese descent, but other than that, I had no clue who my ancestors are…

…that is, until this week! Yesterday morning I finally received my DNA results:

dna2 Here’s the complete breakdown:

76% European
–53% Iberian Peninsula
–10% Ireland
–4% European Jewish
–3% Italy/Greece
–2% Scandinavia/NW Russia
–1% Europe West
–<1% Great Britain

15% Middle East

6% Africa
–4% North Africa
–2% Benin/Togo
–<1% Ivory Coast/Ghana

 2% Native American

 <1% Asia South

 

I love knowing that I am a mix of so many ethnicities!

IrishMy biggest shock was finding out that I am 10% Irish. After so many years of singing along at the pub, and feeling such a connection to characters such as Ellis Lacey from the film Brooklyn, I finally understand why I love the Irish so much, we are kin!  Now I want to adopt a little redhead and name her Saoirse (pronounced Sersha, except my Cubanos would most likely call her Soraisa.)

I was also stoked to learn that I am 2% Native American! Now I need to learn if I am Ciboney, the Guanahatabey or Taíno.

My biggest DNA makeup comes from the Iberian Peninsula (my Spaniard roots), the Middle East and Africa. I even learned that I am 4% European Jewish. I love every single part of my DNA!

Have you had your DNA tested? If so, I would love to know who your ancestors are. If you haven’t yet taken the leap, Ancestry DNA sent me this link to share with my friends, and it will save you $10 off the regular price of a DNA testing kit. That’s even less than what hubby paid!

(Full disclosure: for every kit my friends order using this link, Ancestry DNA will send me a $10 gift card to Amazon which will promptly use to download Irish drinking songs!)

Peeking Out Of The 40 Fog

Most of my friends are turning 40 this year. This was supposed to be a comment to a friend’s status update, but it turned into a novel, and I didn’t want to hijack her post, so instead you guys get a new blog post…enjoy!

Turning 40 was hard for me. Really hard. I spent several months before and the whole month after really coming to grips with it. I’m just now, 33 days later, beginning to peek out of my “40 Fog”. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel like every day on this earth is a blessing, I just pictured myself having accomplished certain things and gone certain places by now.

I am facing my mortality a bit more. I’m afraid that I am going to die and never have seen or done the things that I keep putting off for financial or logistical reasons. The 10 years between 30 and 40 FLEW by for me. I blinked and they were gone. I don’t want my 40s to go that fast.

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Dress: H&M; Leggings: Forever 21, Boots: Target

I also think that turning 40 made me aware of just how much I do (and have done for the last 18 years) for others, and how little I’ve done that was just for me. For years, while my husband traveled for work, I held down the fort, while longingly wishing that I could be with him in San Francisco, Spain, Portugal, Montreal or whatever other place I still haven’t had the chance to visit instead of spending my evenings at “meet the teacher nights” or “curriculum fairs.”

I am constantly back and forth with the kids at school and their activities. I work, take care of the house, take care of the pets. And, while I love it all, sometimes I want to do something that’s just for Yvette.

It’s hard as a mom to focus on yourself without seeming selfish. Moms are constantly having to justify their career or lack thereof. But, if you don’t make yourself a priority, you may wake up one morning and realize that you are turning 40 and you’re still waiting to take that trip, or buy that purse, or get those highlights, or join that gym or whatever else you’ve been putting off because it’s something that only benefits you.

That is what I want to accomplish most in my 40s, to stop putting myself last all the time. That doesn’t mean I’m going to put my family last (see what I did there? Always making sure to justify my actions less the sanctimommies–and daddies–come out of the woods with pitchforks…) It just means that sometimes Mom is going to get on that plane with Dad, and Abuela will hold down the fort for us, and that is OK.