Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Missing Me

I rushed home today (like every day), exhausted and ready to give up on the idea of cooking dinner. Driving down our street, I thought of take-out Italian or tacos. As I reached the top of our stairs, I realized the door was locked? Locked? The boys are out?

Realizing I could put my bags down without a baby to carry, I raced to use the restroom before a baby would scream for hugs and play time. Boys still out...could it be I could get a dinner together?

Just having 45 minutes to myself accomplished so much: decompression, bathroom break, change of clothes, a full meal prep WITH CLEANUP, and time to read a couple of recipes and write this blog.

When will "me" time happen again?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Ten Years

The year 2000 was a transition year for me as I graduated from college and I was set to save the world. I remember the excitement I felt in February as I shoveled snow for the last time, knowing I was moving to California temporarily in June as I venture on to my Peace Corps adventure in the South Pacific later that year.

My whimsical move to California (to help drive a friend cross country in a U-haul) was meant as a fun filled transition stop. I am still here. The Peace Corps fell through as they felt my lungs were not up to the adventure, and I had massive debt from school…that is, I needed to find real work.

As I toiled over my next move (I was still trying to save the world), my mate crossed my path late 2000. Recoiling from the thought of being strapped down by a relationship, I told him not to get attached. We will be married 10 years in September. I guess he got me with the comment, “You can do whatever you want…just don’t leave me”.

Our story is interesting because we almost didn’t meet. His friend Mike stepped in front of my mate’s car to make sure he attended an art show (to help add culture to my mate’s life). I was working for the art show trying to make some commission (while pouring wine), and in walks the man who becomes my best friend and family. Along with Mike, Susy and Steve, I made a little family niche here in California as my siblings are spread out along the east coast.

For the past ten years, I did what I wanted: I earned a graduate degree, found a profession I love, traveled to a few countries, developed a photography business, and met some amazing people.

Now it’s 2011. I am in transition again as I learn to be a mother; but it seems so surreal. Everything seems to be going so fast, and I don’t feel like I am savoring the moments. I cling to my photographs for those memories. I walked by the place I met my mate but it was torn down last year.

And our dear friend Mike, carefree and joyful, passed away January 3rd, 2011, after his long battle with cancer. We are all in disbelief, and my heart breaks for his wife and two young children. He didn’t make his 50th birthday, and his kids are under the age of 10…how is this fair? He will be a bright angel, though, watching us from heaven, helping us cherish the tiny moments that really make life wonderful.


Ted & Mike wandering Chinatown, 2000

Susi, Mike & Teddy at the Baldwin House, 2000

Mike's Wedding Gift--Taking us to IKEA for furniture, 2001

Mike, Susi, Coco joining in on a visit from Chesca and the girls

Despedida for Mike & Family, 2006

Last Picture of the Azcueta Family before they drove to Milwaukee, WI, 2006

Azcueta 50th Anniversary Celebration in Manila, Philippines, 2007

Mike & Ted, 2007

Mike, Steve and Ted reunite in 2000 after 20+ years

Mike, Steve and Ted in 2006 before Mike leaves for Wisconsin

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Motherly Insight

Many people have greeted me a Happy Mother’s Day, which is sweet, but I still don’t feel quite like a mother since the little guy is just using my body to grow. I feel the true test of motherhood is the development of a decent human being who thinks about his/her community, family and overall health of society. While I teach youth and contribute a part to this goal, I still haven’t started my adventure in shaping the future of a little one.

But several women in my life have…particularly one, my own mom. We all go through key developmental stages in life, yet we are all unique. My mother went through seven unique developmental stages of children, and managed to get all us through to where we are now. While she is not perfect and no mother can be, we learned many new things, developed our own unique lives and she continues to support us on our paths.

So now I have a new man about to enter the world, and while I know I won’t be perfect at developing his important life events, I hope I can provide as much support, love and education as my mother does. She (and us) lost her mother this past week to old age so she is using the knowledge Grandma gave her to guide us through our motherhood.

I love you mom.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Birthday Joys

Helping my mate with his film project, I came across this photo of him and his brother (who is exactly 367 days younger than him) which is perfect.

Happy Birthday Teddy (Oct 24) and Peter (Oct 26)!

Concert Chaos?

Sitting on the grass, I am soaking up the last strands of the warmth before winter sets in; however, next to me a family discusses the ring tones of email versus a regular call, two women in front of me compare Blackberry photos and applications, and on the other side a mother and son discuss their sandwiches for an hour. By the way, I am sitting at a concert and a group is performing fantastic musical ensembles to deaf ears.

Luckily I sat near the speakers so I could tune out the surrounding distractions. The reasoning behind the distractions was the performers rarely come out on MTV, or Access Hollywood. I don’t know which stores they like to shop at or what ice cream they would eat if they wanted some. But I did know they could play.

I love watching performers play instruments and have fun creating an artistic piece for all of us to enjoy. Dancing is cool and I don’t feel people have to sit down to enjoy a concert, but I do expect some level of listening and appreciation. Is concert going changing that much?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mind Fog

Sitting at a desk, staring at a computer that cannot do the work by itself, the papers sit next to me that need to be graded, but I cannot seem to work. Pure exhaustion is all I can ponder at the moment, the thought of my comfortable bed and warm hot chocolate.

Maybe with the onset of the fall/winter raining season, I am stuck. I need to move forward, but cannot move except for my fingers hitting these keys.

Tomorrow I have an evaluation, but I haven't submitted my end of the paperwork. How good of an evaluation can I get if I cannot even muster energy to write up the lesson for the principal? Seven years into teaching and the constant brain warp I go through each year seems more draining...you would imagine it would improve.

I wish I had the power to make time stop for 2-3 hours just so I can catch up at a slow, methodical pace.

I guess this tortoise should get back to work...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Celebrating in 2009

The year 2009 is not progressing in a joyful nature. The world still reels in financial panic, in February my mate’s father was diagnosed with cancer which claimed his precious life in April, our friend’s sister and brother are fighting severe medical issues, and many notable deaths including Ted Kennedy, Cory Aquino, Walter Cronkite, John Hughes, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett.

However, one major event this year suppresses the depression from those ills: my grandmother, Irene Schroedl, turns 90 years old on September 3rd. Contemplating all the events from 1919 to now boggles my young mind. Imagine her learning to drive on a Model-T type car, living through the Depression, World War II (which my grandfather served), the crazy 60s, 70s and 80s to see the technology boom of the 90s and living to see the century change, a second attack on US soil, and the world is still changing. She has lived in America with 16 presidents: one assassinated, one resigned and one is an African American!

Growing up, my brothers and sisters and I saw my grandmother about once a year, usually when she and Grandpa would drive from Nebraska in their Holiday Rambler trailer and Suburban to Virginia. We loved that trailer with all the cool secret compartments, peanut dispensers, and living spaces. They had a map with all the states and provinces they had visited in North America. Between my parents and them, my love for travel sprang forth.

Grandma and I played cards every time we would visit each other. Our games included gin, nertz (like a competitive solitaire game), Uno, Skippo and Go Fish. After writing that statement, I realize how little I play cards now since I don’t have anyone to play with. I hope when I become a momma, my kids like playing cards too.

Grandma remembers everything. She remembers every birthday, anniversary, historical event and person in Falls City and so much more. Even now, people go to her to find out some event or person who used to live in Falls City.

I love my grandmother very much and wish I could be in Nebraska during her celebration. She deserves every special wish during the 2009 year.

Grandma and I in 1998

Grandma and Barbara tend to the Ketter site in Falls City, NE (1998)

Grandma gives Barbara a big squeeze (Road trip 1998)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cooking for All

So, my ears perk up whenever I hear Michael Pollan’s name on the news or radio. After reading two of his books, Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, I pulled into this world of eating, cooking and buying local. In defense of myself, I already believed cooking for oneself is the healthiest (and cheapest) way to enjoy food, but his books, articles, and talks made me feel less isolated. Tonight he spoke on NPR about his recent article in the New York Times Magazine , where he states people watch people cook longer than they do actually cooking:

“Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up)”

Really??? Am I an anomaly? I spend about 1-2 hours cooking, then about 20 minutes cleaning. I cook almost every night, and maybe go out 1 or 2 meals a week. Most of the time our dinner turns into next day’s lunch because I cook for four (we are only two) and use the leftovers for lunch, unless we have expected or unexpected guests. I love cooking…it’s one of my only consistent creative outlets each day, which is why I relate to Pollan’s assessment of Child’s view on cooking:

“Child was less interested in making it fast or easy than making it right, because cooking for her was so much more than a means to a meal. It was a gratifying, even ennobling sort of work, engaging both the mind and the muscles. You didn’t do it to please a husband or impress guests; you did it to please yourself.”

Is America degenerating that fast that we cannot enjoy cooking anymore? Although the media shows idiotic and stupid people quoting reality TV shows, does that really express us as a whole? Pollan even states, “Erica Gruen, the cable executive often credited with putting the Food Network on the map in the late ’90s, recognized early on that, as she told a journalist, “people don’t watch television to learn things.” I use television to learn things. I am an avid Saturday PBS cooking show viewer, from the obnoxious to the usable. I finally learned how to cut an onion fast enough so I wouldn’t cry.

Most people state they don’t have time to cook, e.g. they are too tired. I am discouraged when I hear why people cannot cook, and even more discouraged when I see the OBESE (sick people walking or not walking around). Even with a biology degree, most people could see how they are chronically ill and wonder how they get the food that makes them so sick? Why do we choose to live this way? I have a difficult time believing that marketing experts deserve our scorn for this chronic disease, although they excel at their profession.

Can we endure with less money to have more time to look for ingredients, cook and live life? I don’t think we need to go completely back to chopping off our own chicken heads (and plucking feathers, etc.) but I do think we need to get back into the kitchen and off the couch.