Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vintage Tablecloths and Charcoal Face Masks


Various translations . . . I'm tired. I'm bloated. I'm moving slow. I'm splotchy.

Time to spring clean this body, skin and mind.

First stop on this cleansing train is not a sugar detox, but it will be something closely resembling that effort. I'm on Weight Watchers online. My goal is to lose 12 pounds. Easy. No sweat. I may look to actually lose 15 so I can have those random three pounds up and down from month to month. Weight Watchers is super doable.

Weight Watchers helps me track my eating. I actually enjoy the process of logging what I eat and watching the points. I've learned to eat my points earlier in the day, alcohol does not help me lose weight and drinking loads of water is a sound approach.

It too me $30 for a three-month online subscription to learn that? How about reading each and every article on healthy weight loss? Or, listening to the countless friends, trainers and coaches I've encountered over the years? 

Don't judge.

So, Weight Watchers helps me. I learned that NIOSA, Fiesta Arts Fair and the 16th Annual Fiesta Friday are events that do not help me in this weight loss journey.

Remember those three random pounds that come on and off easily?

Spring cleaning is in full effect.

I woke up this morning to a beautiful day. No humidity (thanks storm that woke up my girls and had them trying to sleep in our bed with us for a few hours and really, I had no sleep from about 1 a.m. until I don't know, daybreak!?) and a gentle breeze. It's exactly what a spring day should be. It's a perfect April 30 in San Antonio.

With the beautiful morning, I skipped into the bathroom to weigh myself (ugh three pounds on) and then found a charcoal mask I bought a few weeks back. Yes! (That's the brand as well as my exuberance.)

(I only wish it was one of those pull it off your face masks and every bit of gunk in each and every pore comes out. I could use that sweet pain right now because I've got some pores full of Fiesta.) 

10 minutes later, I've a bright and shining face ready to take on this bright and shining day.

Even egg whites and spinach cooked in a coconut oil with a side of coffee and almond milk as my creamer couldn't damper my brightness. Two points.

Along with the cleansing of my face and body, we are cleaning up the house and yard after the very successful and yes, very fun Fiesta Friday party. We had close to 60 people at one time (which included about 15 kids). The kids alone results in lots of empty chip bags, half-used bubble bottles and cascarone pieces everywhere. Caroline had Cheetos in her bed. 

Our house always feels really clean after the Fiesta Friday party. Our counter tops are empty and all the paper that stacks up is put away. The backyard is picked up and nothing in this house is out of place. G washes down the fish fryers (yes, plural) and all of my Fiesta dishes are sparkling, put away to be used next year.

And, there's the table linens. Each Fiesta Friday, I pull out vintage 1905s (I think) tablecloths and napkins from my grandmother and great-grandmother. They have these prints on them that are perfect for Fiesta. I lay them out and tell the girls about their Gigi and Grannie Mug. They listen sweetly for a hot minute and then run off to ready for the party. Prep as a seven-year-old takes time.

The tablecloths are the first things washed after the party. I air dry them because, well, vintage. I'll iron and neatly fold them, putting them away in the table linens drawer (a drawer for linens . . . this is one of the things that makes G crazy about all the items I have from Nettie and Marguerite) for next year.

Because, there is always a next year for Fiesta. And, while the number of official-sanctioned Fiesta events we attend each year varies, Fiesta Friday is an event always on the calendar. (Except for those years we had basketball tournaments. Those were just as fun. Except if we lost and there were long-stretches of silence.)

And, each year, I gear up losing a few pounds, finding the Mexican shirts in my closet to wear and making prep lists.

And, each year, I forget to take pictures at the party because I'm too busy catching up with friends, laughing and re-telling stories.

And, each year, G and I high five each other at the end of the night with a 'good party' said.

And, then, we cleanse. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bad Dreams and Sugar Detox

Fiesta is here in San Antonio. It's around a 10-day celebration in the city where there are more cascarones, meats on sticks and embroidered shirts than you can count. It celebrates Texas, San Antonio, the Alamo and all that is fun. For years, I had between six and seven events to attend. I would plan and shop for outfits. I would have my hair done. I would take vacation days from work.

And, this wasn't something that began as an adult. As a child, we attended the parades and as a teen-aged, I met NIOSA. In college, I continued on my NIOSA journey making it in from Waco to enjoy the party. I've even introduced Chris to NIOSA. He wasn't a fan at the time.

NIOSA stands for Night In Old San Antonio. The downtown area of San Antonio known as La Villita is lined with food booths celebrating the Texas culture. There are also lots of bands and beer. You walk. Just walk. Around and around. You bump into friends who you haven't seen in years and those you see frequently. You stack up your beer cups and laugh off the splashes of beer that spill from those cup towers on to your feet. Sandals are a must (or cute sneakers you can wash).

Nowadays, I'm not as active in Fiesta, but I still try and make it to a couple of events. We attend the family-friendly Fiesta Arts Fair where the girls (and Chris before them) can make crafts and I can eat (and maybe have a drink). The artists sell their paintings, jewelry, sculptures and drawings. It's beautiful and early in the day (not hot, yet).

We also try to go to NIOSA, but now we are those old people who go to the kick-off event on the first night and leave before the crowds get too big. Yes, we go at 5 p.m. and leave by about 9 p.m. I still eat my shypoke eggs and enjoy the scenes. I'm looking very much forward to a lot of cold shoulder and off-the-shoulder tops on all types. And, the shorts, the skirts, the hair. It is a people-watching paradise.

We also have a Fiesta Friday party each year. It's the last Friday of Fiesta where the schools and most businesses are closed. We serve the same food -- ribs, baked beans, Texas caviar, spaghetti salad, Texas sheet cake and G's fried fish. We make the same drinks -- margaritas. It starts around 5 p.m. and goes well into the night. We rent tables and chairs. We buy festive-colored plates, tablecloths and decorations. I start cooking Thursday and am done by mid-day Friday. G starts frying fish right around game time and it goes fast.

I think this is our 16th year to have it. Last year, was the first one in about four years because we were deeply involved in Chris' AAU basketball and always had a tournament that day. I'm glad it's back. It's fun. It's with friends. It's Fiesta.

It's one long fourth part.

It requires a lot of planning. You would think with the same meal year after year, I'd have it down. I wouldn't have to write out a grocery list or build out my run-of-show timeline, but I do. I'm super pleasant morning of and the members of my household are happy to comply with picking up the rented tables and chairs so they can be out of the house.

(By the way, I just rented the tables and chairs today. One week from the party. Every year I do this. I scramble to find them. And, delivery is not available -- or for $100. G Adams isn't paying $100 for table delivery.)

I'll buy the food this weekend -- yes, I will set foot into a grocery store rather than curbside pick up because, well, it's what I do. I'll buy the decorations at a Fiesta store this weekend, too.

There won't be too many fourth parts this upcoming week because I'll be readying for the party. I guess in a way, there will be fourth parts though because I'll be doing something I want to do and like to do. Maybe a fourth part combo meal?

Speaking of meals.

I am on the last day of a five-day sugar detox. Praise. God. Praise. God. Almighty.

Here's the deal. I don't eat a lot of processed sugar. Yes, I enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail. I also like a bit of ice cream or something sweet -- I've got this great trail mix with dark chocolate chunks in the pantry screaming 'I'm healthy.'

And, I like Easter candy.

But, man, day three was kind of a malaise-y like day. Thursday was even more of a hangover kind of feeling. And, today. It hit me. A dull headache all day. A fog about me, too.

The woman leading the detox is precious. She actually lives in France and I've been following her for awhile. We have a call everyday and a required check-in post every night. Did you work out? Did you follow the meal plan? Did you drink water? Did you post something positive on social media?

If you answer yes to all four, you are entered into a drawing for a prize. I won today. I don't think it is delicious French pastry or wine. It's probably almonds.

The information she provides is on point and there is the thought this is something to maintain. Put these habits into practice. I already work out. I already drink a ton of water. I'm always positive on social media (don't look back to November -- dark time). But. . .

We have two baskets of Easter candy sitting on the counter.

And, I've a bottle of great rose. Chilling.

I've only a few hours left and it has been tough. Because I can't have it? Or because my body is really detoxing? Not sure. I'm ready to have some of those pale blue and pink covered chocolate eggs tomorrow. It's an egg, it's breakfast.

Hard-boiled egg availability has helped this week except yeah, I really don't want one a day.

Going to bed last night, I knew I was off. And, then, my sleep really was, too.

I mean, I slept -- thank you Unisom -- but I had one long, bad dream. When the alarm clock sounded this morning, I was still very much in this dream. It was terrible. No one was killed and I wasn't chased, but it was a storyline that was so true to life. It took one of my greatest fears (not rushing water) and built something around it that hurt and was sad and felt awful. This is a dream. Not real life.

That's what no sugar for four days can do to you. Make something good seem so sad and dark.

The good news is  I timed the detox well. See the other thing I do in preparation for Fiesta is try to drop pounds so I don't worry about what I eat or drink during the week. Not healthy at all, but hey, I've been doing this for a while. One of my dearest friends, Rach, and I even talked this week about our annual plan. Somehow we always wait until the week before, like I do with renting tables and chairs.

Not very fourth part-like I know, but hey, I've been on a sugar detox. My brain isn't functioning up to par.

Now, I've got outfits to plan, places to go, cascarones to crack and medals to wear.

Bring on the sugar.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gnocchi and PVC Pipe

He is risen. Yes, He is. Praise God because this is where our hope is found, right? And, the songs are really good on Easter Sunday. We walked out to 'Nothing But the Blood of Jesus' and I chose to sing the Amy Grant version which some of my family pointed out didn't match the choir.

Some of us do have the Amy Grant library on speed dial in our memory, so those who don't . . .sorry. I'm here whenever you need me. 'Everywhere I go, I hear your voice clear and loud.' I think that refers to God's voice to Amy, but you can hear my voice quite clear and quite loud if you would like.

Getting ready for Easter Sunday is involved. There are the clothes. The hair cuts. Making sure the shoes fit because you really don't want to have to buy new ones unless you really need to. The basket goodies. The egg hunt planning. The cleaning. The setting up of the table with your grandmother's china. The cooking.

Oh, wait. I opted out of that this year. I made the big statement of 'I'm not cooking this year because I just don't want to and so let's go out to eat.'

Talk about fourth parts popping up all over. No need to shop for Easter food or plan dishes! No gently asking my family to clean the bathrooms and vacuum the floors! No hand washing dishes! No ironing tablecloths and napkins!

I did have to find a restaurant that had food 11 of us would eat. We range from my parents to my seven-year-old girls. We have likes and dislikes galore. I just wanted to make sure there were mimosas with cava or prosecco or champagne . . .anything bubbly.

After a few Open Table searches, Googling and frantic phone calls, we found a familiar spot close to church. Easy. Walk out of church (singing Amy Grant versions of songs), hop in the car and drive a few miles to a restaurant we have enjoyed several times. And, the menu. Sweet Jesus who is risen, there was a nutella dessert, mimosas and cheese pizza. Oh, and salmon with gnocchi, some goat cheese and pasta. Fixed price, four courses and they would take us. Yes, all 11. At a normal lunch hour time.

With a skip in our step, we made it to the restaurant and began our journey that ended three hours after it started and didn't include free mimosas or gnocchi or ricotta cake. We could get a mimosa for $5 (wasn't on the pdf menu we received). We could substitute pasta for the gnocchi. Not really the same, you know. And, since the ricotta cake ran out and it was going to take a while to make a new one, how about a tiramisu parfait with biscotti croutons and a heavy splash of coffee. Or mixed berries in a spoonful of mascarpone. Ugh. If only the mimosas weren't $5, I would have ordered and downed a few more.

Yes, we still enjoyed being there -- no dishes to wash or bathrooms to clean -- but the slow service with the 20 percent gratuity included made me think it's 'Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus' who will help us pay for this bill (Amy has a version by the way. Again, I can sing it for you.). Also, having iPhones to laugh at memes and watch videos helped. We didn't search for Amy songs, but we did find my brother-in-law's how to fix a stackable washer rotation thing-a-ma-bob. (He has 10,000 views. Come on.)

We did laugh a lot, told a few stories, included Seinfeld references as always and I even learned about baseball. It was a good family gathering. It wasn't as good as hearing an angel tell you Jesus isn't here, He is risen, but it was good. Plus, I don't know that Jesus would have sat around for three hours to eventually munch on some crunchy biscotti that should have been lady fingers when he was really hoping for a lemon ricotta cake.

(The reason there was no more cake or gnocchi? The walk ins ate it all up. Huh? What? I had a reservation. They ate my food? We paid the same price? Anyone can take a reservation. But can you hold a reservation? Seinfeld every time.)

Yes, this is definitely a first world Easter brunch problem and on the actual Easter Sunday there were some bigger issues. I mean, the Marys and Salome and some other women woke up early to hit the market, scoop up some of those spices needed to preserve the body of Jesus and got there to see He was gone. They could have thrown down those spices and wondered why did they prepare? "I could have ordered something up on Amazon Prime and had it delivered in two days." Instead, they had an encounter like none other. I mean, an angel. And, Jesus. And, they got to tell the story to the disciples. They were the messengers. Nice. Powerful. Awesome.

I did come home and write up some Easter Sunday friendly reviews in Open Table, tweeted the chef and wrote an email. G left a voice mail and I think my sister will be doing the same. We had our own message to deliver and I believe it will be heard. Will it be written up in a book that is read for 1000s of years, probably not, but it's a message.

And, then the panic set in. Would I have a fourth part on this Sunday? Without china to wash and linens to pack away, I was supposed to have time. Time with my son home from college -- who went straight to a nap. Time with my girls -- who really wanted to play with their cousin and ride their bikes. All this was quickly fading from my dreams when I remembered, I could take a break. I could put down things and papers and documents and reminders and plans to be with my girls. I sat outside and watched them ride their bikes. I read a book in a chair on my front lawn with a lovely breeze on a great spring day.

Did the Marys, Salome and the other women get to sit once the news was delivered? Did they get to be with their family . . . I mean be with them? They had experienced some crazy, busy, supernatural times in the days leading up to the 'He is not here' message. Did they get a fourth part? What did they do with the spices? Did they meal prep for the week? Did they pull out a good book. Did they laugh?

I imagine they smiled even though they were pretty scared and overwhelmed. Isn't that how real joy hits you -- overwhelming excitement that can't be contained and comes out a little loud and a bit unabashed.

Kind of like the water that rushed forth when G tested the sprinkler. Uh oh. As I sat on my front lawn, planning how to re-plant and even buy some cool vintage chairs for the front beds, the gushing water out of a broken PVC pipe reminded me I had split it in half with some aggressive dead plant removal a few weeks prior. G was pretty calm about the whole thing and just turned off the water and walked off. I suggested duct tape. He just kind of looked at me and shook his head. He went to the back yard to hand water some plants.

Do you think that was a look the women received from some? We know how the disciples reacted. But what about others who heard through the grapevine. I know Jesus was pretty explicit in how Mary Magdalene was to deliver the messages, but how could she run back to those disciples dropping spices all around and people not talk? Did they go about their business after a weekend of activity that included a couple of earthquakes and some darkness in the middle of the day? Did they think, 'well, it's another day with these Marys.' Or did they wonder, what is going to happen now? What should I be doing?

Thankfully, G will fix the pipe and we will be sprinkler ready come this summer when the burning fire hot heat of the sun wants to fry all that is green. And, we'll be able to sit outside some of the evenings enjoying our family.

But, not at a restaurant down the street from church. We'll be having cocktails that aren't $5 and desserts that come with potential of yummy stickiness dripping off a cone. No need to substitute anything. No need to pay gratuity to someone.

We'll 'Stay for Awhile' and consider ourselves 'The Lucky One(s)'.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shoe Taps and Handstand Walks

My devotions of late have been about trusting God can meet all my needs. My job of late has been about extending trust to others and building trust. My life of late has been about trusting myself to focus on that which is most important.

Theme much?

Trust. There are countless definitions of trust but the one that rings most true for me is the noun -- 'a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.'

It's easy to trust God, right? I mean, He is the definition of reliability, truth, ability and strength. Yet, I continue to try and handle things on my own. Remember, our family word for 2017 was 'fix.' Because, yeah, we know best.

So, everyday I try to trust God for all things. It's a work in progress, but it is work. Is that the cross we pick up everyday? Is that the commitment we made to Him as I am on a salvation journey. I'm saved, but I'm on a journey to learn more, be more, act more . . . like a Christian.

And, speaking of journeys. I'm on one at work. And, it's all about trust. I have the trust of many . . . my role relies on individuals trusting confidences with me and that I have their best interests at heart. Yet, I continue to work at building trust with people. One of whom is now my boss. He's never seen me in my role and doesn't quite know how I do what I do.

So, everyday I work at it. It's a work in progress, but it is work. It is a commitment I've made. It's a journey to figure out how to best work with people.

Then, there's my life. The first, third and fourth parts. Learning to trust myself as a mother of a college student and twin young girls is a challenge. I've not done this before. How can I trust myself with decisions and actions?

So, everyday I work at it. It's a work in progress, but it is work. It is a commitment I've made. It's a journey to become a mom that helps and promotes and guides this gifts I've been given.

Trusting that everyone in my family is in on this journey together is somewhere I've landed and in which I've found comfort. These fourth parts are so critical to me, but I'm not the only one aiming to get them. I've got a houseful of people who want fourth parts so we all work toward that goal. Together. When the to-do list of second and third parts gets long and looks too overwhelming, I trust that we can work on a plan to get it done. Now, not everyone can get the items done -- the girls cannot drive to the tax assessor office and get G's tags -- but we can all help.

Like the time I needed new shoe taps on a pair of shoes -- remember the 'fix' word -- I looked up and realized I needed the shoes fixed by a specific day this week. This week. For an outfit I wanted to wear to a kind of important work meeting. It meant, all hands in on getting the girls ready and out the door so that I could get to the shoe repair spot in time before I needed to be at work.

Yes, for a second, I considered walking in shoes with a tap missing on the left shoe, but then thought . . .I can't trust myself to walk in a wonky shoe. Guess what -- they will be ready just in time, but it's another time where we need to all work together to help me get to the shop before getting to work.

Trust the process, trust the family.

So when it's time for a track meet and G has to work said meet, and the plans for dinner include ordering and picking up pizza, and baths are needing to happen, and my hair needs to get washed, and I scheduled writing time, and it is a beautiful evening . . . the girls can go outside. They can go outside and play. Play while I ready for the parts tomorrow. Play while I clean up the dinner table. Not only play, but practice handstand walks. Well, Camille practiced her handstand walks and 'taught' Caroline how to do a handstand walk. Caroline even said, "I trust you, Camille."

Wow. Trust the process, trust the family.

I won't be walking on my hands anytime soon, but I am committed to using my hands to write, help others and open my Bible.

I trust I can do that.