Monday, July 28, 2008

What's Up, Chuck?

A quick word of warning: for those readers with squeamish tendencies, you may want to quit here.

My precious little Caleb. He's such a sweetheart. While he was taking his nap today, I was in the den working. All of a sudden, he started crying like crazy. I went running, because that's not a normal thing for him. His room was dark, but I could see him sitting at the edge of his bed. I was trying to assess the situation and see what had happened. He was a bit hysterical, though, so it took awhile before I could hear him choke out the words, "Momma, I spit up!" [Oh. You're right. Now that you mention it, I do feel something warm and squishy between my toes.] Some of you are thinking, "Big deal, a little spit up." Oh, no. Thankfully for Caleb and I both, he hasn't had enough bouts of nausea to make him aware of this stuff called vomit or anything else related to throwing up. He simply refers to it as "spitting up" because that's what Owen does. Nope. This was full-fledged vomit. I think his entire lunch was in his sheets, down the side of his bed, and in a puddle on the floor. (And, yes, gushed between my toes.) It was all there. I had even given him a few gummy bears after lunch as a special treat, since he'd eaten so much - fish sticks, ketchup, corn and macaroni and cheese. Mmm...

Anyways, I'm not sure what it was that caused his brief yet comprehensive stomach revolt. All I know is that we will most likely be avoiding fish sticks in the future. These may very well have been his first AND last.

Oh. And I think I'll flip the light switch from now on while I'm running to his rescue.

Monday, July 21, 2008

He'll Always Be My Baby...

...even though he's a great big 4-year-old now. I suppose at some point, though, I'll have to start keeping the "baby" comments to myself, lest they be met with rolling eyes and an "Aagh. Mom!" response.

We celebrated his birthday yesterday, and he loved every bit of it. He loved his cake. Actually, he didn't even eat more than two bites of it. He was too busy playing. It'd be far more accurate to say that he loved the guy on top of it, Bumble Bee. He's Caleb's favorite of new-found, big-boy loves.

As for the presents, all I can say is that it's always been fun to give that little guy presents. It's so gratifying. He's equally thankful and thrilled with each and every thing. It doesn't matter if it's a new bike, velcro shoes that he's decided to refer to as "C straps", cowboy jeans, or a card that makes race car noises every time you open it, each and every gift is met with an enthusiastic: "Awesome!", "Cool!" or "That's just what I always wanted!" And, he always means it.

I definitely wasn't a disaster this year, like I was when we celebrated his first birthday. Since then I've learned a few things. Although it's tempting to turn into a sobbing mess and get overwhelmed with how big he's getting, it's far more fun to look forward to the future with anticipation. Each and every year, actually, each and every day brings so many new and exciting things. Even though some days may bring challenges and new "phases" that I'm all too eager to see pass, they bring an overwhelming amount of good. I know that Zach would agree wholeheartedly when I say that we are blessed beyond measure. He is such an amazing boy, and we're so very proud.

Okay. I do have to stop now, or I will start to cry. I can only keep this tough mommy act up for so long, you know.


Goodbye Q

This guy's name is Quentin Tavener, but in high school, everyone called him "Q". He was one of the nicest guys I've ever known. We had classes together throughout high school, but during our senior year, we had several really intense classes together. One was a two-hour-a-day honors civics class. Every year the class competed in (and won) a state-wide competition and went on to compete in Washington DC at the national level. He wasn't necessarily the loudest voice in the class, but people definitely listened every time he had something to say. And when we were in DC to compete, we learned that Q was always either a) eating, b) sleeping on any horizontal surface he could find or c) smiling and having fun. Every weekday we went straight from that class to the next one we shared - an honors show choir class...the same one one that Zach and I were in together. The guy sang and danced with enthusiasm, even though it didn't exactly come naturally to him. He wasn't necessarily a born performer, but I'm sure that his smile always lit up the stage. And, speaking of his smile, whenever you'd pass him in the hall between classes, Q never failed to flash a special smile in your direction. It always included the slightest, yet very purposeful wink. He definitely knew how to make people feel not just noticed, but special.

He was in National Honor Society with me, he wrestled and played football with Zach. The guy did it all and he did it with grace, skill and an infectiously joyful spirit.

Yesterday afternoon we found out that he passed away last week. He'd developed a brain tumor. They operated, but it spread to his lungs. I just can't believe it. I was just thinking about him at Moriarty's 4th of July parade. His family owns a towing company there and they always have one of their big flat-bed trucks, covered with about 4 dozen little league players, in the parade. I saw one of his older brothers driving the truck and wondered, "Why doesn't Q ever drive the truck? I wonder what he's up to?" Little did I know that he was on oxygen and facing the last few weeks of his young life. The last time we saw each other very regularly was at UNM. We were both taking classes at the business school. We didn't have any together, but we'd run into each other between classes and he'd always stop to say hi. We'd sit on a bench for a few minutes to catch up...he'd tell me how excited he was about the new apartment he'd found that was so close to campus, or his recent endeavor to learn to play tennis. But, after a while either his schedule changed or mine did, and we didn't bump into each other any more. That was it.

It blows my mind to think of how easily and quickly people can move in and out of your life. I'm mad at this stupid, stinking world we live in. It's messed up. It sucks. (And I don't even use that word, but I can't think of any that is more fitting.) It makes me sad that good people die. That bad things happen to them. It makes me so very thankful for the healing and comfort that only God can bring. It makes me long all the more for things to be made right. I pray that day comes soon.

In the mean time, I'm sure that there are lots and lots of people whose lives were made richer and more joyful just for knowing Q.

Friday, July 11, 2008

And for my grand finale...

...a little end of the week fun. Zach spotted this little gem while driving down Lomas a few weeks ago:

Hard Core, Soft Shell

Guess what I did last night? I actually went to a gym, got a membership and worked out! That's right. I hit the gym! Actually, strike that. If truth be told, it would be far more accurate to say that the gym hit me. (And it hits hard.)

Given that it's been about 3 years since I've been able to properly "work out", I was super excited. The prospect of lifting weights instead of stinky diaper pails was absolutely exhilarating! I planned to start off gently. After all, I didn't want to get so sore that I'd never want to step foot in the place again. I figured on doing 2 sets of 10-12 reps on each weight machine. I wasn't overly optimistic when selecting my weight settings. I tended to stick to the wimpy side. After all, I probably fall into that category quite naturally now anyways.

Long ago, during my weight lifting days, I was trained in the Zach and Jared school of "lift until you fail". Given my strategy of easing in gently, I expected that reaching my failure limit would be on the distant horizon. After all, I'd specifically chosen extra-light weights. Unfortunately, by the end of my second set I was hitting failure on almost every machine. Darn it! I had somehow hoped that continuously hefting around my little butterball (Owen) had miraculously kept me in better shape than I expected. But, obviously, it didn't.

Oh well...onwards and upwards! I had successfully finished my circuit through all the weight machines and, given my tendency to spook (bolt the opposite direction at the first glimpse of anything unsettling), that was something to be proud of. It was time for some cardio. I didn't want to do the treadmill. My legs were a little too wobbly for that. I didn't want to do the stair-steppers, ellipticals or bikes, either - been there, done that. But then, I spotted some sort of new machine! It looked sort of like an elliptical, but not quite. And better yet, no one else was anywhere near the vicinity, so I could stumble through my maiden voyage in anonymity. I hopped on and got going. Admittedly, I am not the most graceful person around, but this machine made me feel even more awkward than normal. The only thing I can think to compare the motion to was if someone were to try to climb a hill while wearing snowshoes...going backwards. Exactly. Why would anyone in their right minds ever do such a thing? But, nevertheless, I chose the 20 minute program. After all, I thought, "I can do anything for 20 minutes". Apparently not. I made it for 5 minutes, and then called it quits. Once my heart rate was rivaling the pace of a thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby, I figured I'd better admit defeat before having a complete coronary blow-out. I'm not even sure what the machine is called, so I've decided to refer to it as "The Machine That Kicked My Butt". I mentioned the name to my sister this morning and, without any further description, she knew exactly which one I was talking about. So, I'm guessing the name is going to stick.

Despite the fact that my finish fell far short of spectacular, it was still fun! I was out of the house without my two precious helpers and I was getting exercise - it was great! The only thing that was missing was some music. I decided that next time I'll definitely have to bring my iPod. I thought about asking Zach to make me a special workout playlist. Something inspiring. Something fiery and motivated. Then I realized, why do I need that, when I have Enya? After all, that's what Jasmine and I always listened to while we pumped iron. Now that I think about it, though, I'm not sure that Jasmine and I really quite reached our potential or fulfilled our goals. But, we sure had fun. Since I'm on my own this time around, maybe I'd better rethink that spit and vinegar playlist. My time is limited. I'd better get tough...and fast. Otherwise, this hard core mama will never break through her soft shell. (Ha!) I can't help but laugh at that and, for those of you who know me well, I'm sure you'll have to snicker as well. I can pretend, can't I?

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Happy, Happy Birthday for Me!

Last Thursday, the 3rd of July, was my 29th birthday and, boy, was it fun! Ever since I was little, I've never been able to imagine a better day of the year to have a birthday. It falls right at a time when people are ready to kick back and P-A-R-T-Y! Plus, I'm sure there was a time when I was convinced all the hoop-la (the parades, the fireworks, the massive amounts of yummy summer foods) were all in celebration of me. I'm over that now, or at least that's what I let everyone believe. (So, there you go Mom and Dad. If you ever wondered why I showed up six weeks early, it's because July 3rd is so much more fun for a birthday than boring, ol' mid-August.)

Unfortunately, my friend Jane was out of town for the weekend. So, in her honor, here's a complete, very thorough recap:

THE FOOD. (This segment will be particularly detailed, as I'm aiming to insight drool, especially from Jane.):
Thanks to my sister's willingness to (as I lovingly refer to it) "sit-on" my boys, Zach and I were able to go out for an amazing lunch date. We went to Scalo in Nob Hill. It was great! We shared a salad of baby lettuce, goat cheese croutons, pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. Mmm. The croutons sounded intriguing, but they were so much more-so once we got into them...warm, gooey in the middle, crispy on the outside edges and surrounded by pine nuts. Whoa, baby! I had a yummy pizza for lunch - olive oil, mozzarella, gorgonzola, pears and carmelized onions. There were several moments when I couldn't help but close my eyes and savor. Zach had a sashimi-grade tuna dish that he thoroughly enjoyed. For dessert, he had tiramisu and it was strong - just the way he likes it. I couldn't pass up the bread pudding. It had dried cherries, almonds, caramel sauce and it was served with vanilla gelato. I lingered over every last bite. It was, as some say, to-die-for. Or was that just the feeling of death coming on because I ate so much? (I neglected to mention that the bread pudding was almost as large as my head. And yes, Zach, that's pretty darn big.) Our lunch really couldn't have been much better, in my opinion.

Being as how we were both in need of wheel barrows to exit the restaurant, we spent our afternoon perusing the Nob Hill shops. Not all of them, mind you. We stuck to the more tasteful, less tacky ones. It was fun, and a great way to re-route the blood circulation from our stomachs back into the rest of our bodies.


There. I had to lead with that one, just for shock value alone. God bless my precious hubby and his crazy sense of humor; he took the cake with this one. It's a t-shirt that he found and couldn't resist getting for me. It made me laugh so hard that I instantly wanted to show it to anyone and everyone. At the same time, I was overcome with a flushed color of pink because it's a bit risque. Or, maybe A LOT risque. Regardless, I find it hilarious. So, my apologies, but please do remember that "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

That was by far the funniest gift, but definitely not the only gift. I was so blessed! Gift certificates for stores that I love (mommy gets to go shopping!), beautiful ruby jewelry handed down, books, flowers, music...that was just the beginning. The wonderful Torres clan gave me a hand-blown glass ball that is absolutely beautiful! I hung it in my kitchen window and can't stop staring at it! My parents gave me money to re-do the floor and walls in my laundry room. I have this theory that if the laundry room were a little more lively and cheerful, that maybe the laundry chore would be more enjoyable. Right? I'm not sure if it will work or not, but I'm excited to test my theory.

A surprise! I can't even remember when the last time was that I actually had a birthday party, but I'm pretty sure I was 10 or younger. What fun! My dear friend, Faerl, organized a get together that was a wonderful end to a great day. A beautiful summer evening, 20+ of my nearest and dearest, Mexican food, fizzy lime punch that had sweetened condensed milk in it (Mmmm...), a periwinkle-frosted cake that was adorned with sparklers, a moth so large that it was mistaken for a humming bird, the fun of watching several "grown" men (?) and their antics in trying to get said moth out of the house with a pool net,... It was definitely an evening to remember.

I was so blessed on my birthday, just as I am every day. God is so good, and life is so good. I'm blessed with a godly husband who always makes me laugh, beautiful boys that truly are my pride and joy, friends and family that encourage, support and strengthen me, a beautiful home, a rewarding (developing) career as a doula, etc, etc. The list really is overwhelming. Like I said, life is good. And, the best part is, the older I get the better it gets. I'm so happy to be exactly where I'm at. In closing, there was a nice little blurb on a card attached to the glass ball I received and it summed up my sentiments exactly:

This ball sparkles in the light the way a good friend (& family) brings sparkle to your life. The colors swirl and mingle across the surface of the ball enhancing each other just as the talents and varied personalities of your friends (& family) bring color to your life.

Thank you to everyone that helped make my birthday such an enjoyable treat. And thank you to everyone that fills my life so richly with...the finer things.

I love you all!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Thank You" isn't enough... express my appreciation for you, Zachary Wayne Taylor. Over and over I tell you that you are precious to me. According to the dictionary, that means that you are dear, beloved and of high value. What does it mean to me? It's means there's no one else for me. No one else that I'd rather be with, partner with, give myself to.

You are so encouraging. You never fail to lift me up and spur me on. Everything that I have accomplished is in large part due to you and your never-ending support. You are an incredible source of strength that I rely on more than you know.

We just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. So much has changed in that time. It has been amazing to watch you grow. You have overcome so many fears and have risen mightily to meet so many challenges. You truly are more than a conquerer. My time with you has been so incredible, and it keeps getting better and better. It really does take my breath away to think of what the future holds.

All I know is that I look forward to it, with all my heart. I look forward to growing old with you. I can't wait to pick (more) white hairs from your curly head. (I was going to call you "Old Man", but I guess I shouldn't. If you're old, then what does that make me?) I love to imagine what you'll look like as you get older. You're so handsome now, so I can only imagine you as a more distinguished kind of handsome. I try to imagine what it will feel like to hold your hand when our hands are not quite so strong and are much more wrinkly. I'm not sure what it will feel like, but I do know that I'll be happy no matter where I long as my hand is in yours.

I am absolutely honest when I say that I'm living my dream life, and it's because of you. The sacrifices you make in providing for our family are a blessing. You have put us before your own wants and desires. I can't even begin to tell you how humbling that is. You are an amazing man, a wonderful husband and an incredible daddy. Thank you for everything you do, Zach. But most of all, thank you for being you and thank you for being mine.

I love you.